“People everywhere in the world are hungry for economic opportunities. The challenges ahead of all of us are immense: Developing economies and rapidly growing populations.
Biden called for young entrepreneurs to challenge orthodoxy in order to succeed and thrive.
'Orthodoxía' is defined as “conforming to the approved form of any doctrine, philosophy, [or] ideology,” including conventional or generally accepted beliefs.
The Temple revolution
Benjamin Netanyahu: A Man
Following Israel's capture of the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 war, Revisionism's territorial aspirations concentrated on these territories.
These areas were far more central to ancient Jewish history than the East Bank of the Jordan and most of the areas within Israel's post-1949 borders.
In 1968, Begin defined the "eternal patrimony of our ancestors" as "Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem, Judea, [and] Shechem [Nablus]" in the West Bank. In 1973, Herut's election platform called for the annexation of the West Bank and Gaza.
When Begin finally came to power in the 1977 election, his overriding concern as Prime Minister (1977–83) was to maintain Israeli control over the West Bank and Gaza.
In 1981 Begin declared to a group of Jewish settlers: "I, Menachem, the son of Ze'ev and Hasia Begin, do solemnly swear that as long as I serve the nation as Prime Minister we will not leave any part of Judea, Samaria, [or] the Gaza Strip."
One of the main mechanisms for accomplishing this objective was the establishment of Jewish settlements.
The Likud's settlement plan aimed to settle 750,000 Jews all over the territories in order to prevent a territorial compromise. (Wikipedia)
Begin and the Revisionists were heartily hated by the mainline Zionists led by David Ben-Gurion. He routinely referred to Begin as a Nazi and compared him to Hitler.
Ben-Gurion considered the Revisionists so threatening that shortly after he proclaimed establishment of Israel on May 14, 1948, he demanded that the Jewish terrorist organizations disband.
In defiance, Begin sought to import a huge shipment of weapons aboard a ship named Altalena, Jabotinsky's nom de plume.
The ship was a war surplus US tank landing craft and had been donated to the Irgun by Hillel Kook's Hebrew Committee for National Liberation, an American organization made up of Jewish-American supporters of the Irgun.
Even in those days it was Jewish Americans who were the main source of funds for Zionism. While few of them emigrated to Israel, Jewish Americans were generous in financing the Zionist enterprise. As in Israel, they were split between mainstream Zionism and Revisionism.
The Altalena was loaded with $5 million worth of arms, including 5,000 British Lee Enfield rifles, more than three million rounds of ammunition, 250 Bren guns, 250 Sten guns, 150 German Spandau machine guns, 50 mortars and 5,000 shells as well as 940 Jewish volunteers.
Ben-Gurion reacted with fury, ordering the ship sunk in Tel Aviv harbor. Shell fire by the new nation's armed forces set the Altalena afire, killing 14 Jews and wounding 69.
Begin had been aboard but escaped injury. Later that night he railed against Ben-Gurion as "a crazy dictator" and the cabinet as "a government of criminal tyrants, traitors and fratricides."
Ben-Gurion's deputy commander in the Altalena affair was Yitzhak Rabin... All his life, and especially in his last years, Rabin had opposed Jewish-Americans and their radical allies in Israel who continued to embrace the philosophy of the Irgun and who fought against the peace process...
Thus at the heart of the Jewish state there has been a long and violent struggle between mainline Zionists and Revisionists that continues today.
The core of that conflict, one that continues to divide Israel and its American supporters as well, lies in the different philosophies of David Ben-Gurion and Vladimir Jabotinsky.
Both were from Eastern Europe, born in the 1880s, and both sought an exclusivist Jewish state. But while Ben-Gurion was pragmatic and secular, Jabotinsky was impatient and messianic, a leader who glorified in the heroic trappings of fascism.
Ben-Gurion was a gruff realist who carefully calculated his moves with a wary eye toward the interests of the great European powers and the United States. Jabotinsky, by contrast, was flamboyant and a devoted admirer of Italy's fascist leader Benito Mussolini.
Jabotinsky died in 1940, and it was Menachem Begin who refined his wild nationalism into practical political action. Begin concluded: "The world does not pity the slaughtered. It only respects those who fight." He turned Descartes' famous dictum around, saying: "We fight, therefore we exist." Central to Begin's outlook was the concept of the "fighting Jew."
From these early leaders of Zionism (Ben-Gurion died in 1973 and Begin in 1992) have emerged their direct descendants in the Israeli political spectrum.
Rabin and his successor, Shimon Peres, were both protégés of Ben-Gurion, and have carried on his mainstream secular Zionism.
On Jabotinsky's and Begin's side, the followers have been Yitzhak Shamir, Ariel Sharon and, now, Benjamin Netanyahu, the current leader of the Likud.
Paula Green|Ben-Gurion (the forgotten woman) never once took part in any public functions with him. She did not share the ideals that inspired him. She remained a still believing, if passive, anarchist... She admired the anarchist Emma Goldman.
In the title essay of her book Anarchism and Other Essays, Emma Goldman wrote: "Anarchism, then, really stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion; the liberation of the human body from the dominion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government.
Anarchism stands for a social order based on the free grouping of individuals for the purpose of producing real social wealth; an order that will guarantee to every human being free access to the earth and full enjoyment of the necessities of life, according to individual desires, tastes, and inclinations."
Likud Central Committee head MK Danny Danon, currently challenging Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in primaries for leadership of the party, criticized Netanyahu on Friday morning in a meeting with Likud's "Nationalist Camp" faction leaders in Psagot, to the north of Jerusalem.
"I present an ideological and moral alternative to the path of Likud chairman and prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu," Danon said in the meeting with Shevah Stern and Natan Engelsman, heads of the Nationalist Camp faction.
"The path of the prime minister is problematic," stressed Danon. "While he speaks 'right-wing' recently, in every process of his tenure he acts 'leftist.'"... Concluding his barrage on Netanyahu, Danon noted "in practice, Bibi is realizing the policies of Tzipi Livni, and not those of the Likud."
Danny Danon (born 8 May 1971) is an Israeli politician and a member of the Knesset for the Likud party, and currently serves as the chairman of World Likud.
World Likud is the Likud Party’s wing for global communication and networking. World Likud branches are located worldwide and maintain contact with the Jewish communities outside of Israel. Ideological founders like Zeev Jabotinsky and Joseph Trumpeldor remain inspirational icons within the movement and likewise continue to inspire World Likud activities. Proudly serving under the ideological platforms of its past and present leaders, World Likud aims to increase support for Zionism using its global branches.
Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria have found a friend in Likud Knesset Member Danny Danon.
The 39 year-old rookie MK, who is seen as one of the prime minister's biggest critics within his party – as well as a rising Likud star – has made himself a champion of new building efforts...
In an interview with Israel National Radio's Yishai Fleisher Danon explained why he is dedicated to the cause.
"We were elected on a very clear platform to build and to settle the land," he said. "If the prime minister would have told the voters that we will not build in Judea and Samaria, he would not be the prime minister today, and I would not be in the Knesset today.
Likud members are sending a clear message to the prime minister: we support you, but you must stay loyal to the way, to the platform. Otherwise, you will have no support."
According to Danon, it is a matter of survival. "We have to be very strong now. ... We have to be very strong today, because we will face the issue of Jerusalem, settlement, borders… I can only imagine the amount of pressure that will be brought to bear upon us."
MK Danon urged the United States to relent on that pressure, in the name of democracy. "We want the American people to respect democracy in Israel, to respect the sovereignty of Israel, where we tell Jews they can build everywhere in the [land of Israel]."
For him, that right is not just a fundamental part of what Likud stands for, but a core Zionist value. "When you have Jewish homes on the ground, this is pure Zionism..."
Ultimately, Danon is optimistic about the future... "When I see the energy of the people, I know we will prevail.... That is why we are here supporting the settlers who are the pure Zionists of Israel today."
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Friday published an updated platform for his ultranationalist party, Yisrael Beiteinu, which includes a "peace plan" that calls on the government to encourage Israeli Arabs to leave the country by offering them "economic incentives" when—and, indeed, if—a Palestinian state becomes a reality.
Lieberman repeated his proposal for land and population swaps between Israel and a future Palestinian state, but took it a step further by encouraging Israel to pay Arab citizens of Israel to move those "who feel that they are part of the Palestinian people, to resolve this issue of duality and divided loyalties from which they are suffering," adding, "Israel should even encourage them with economic incentives."
"As for Israeli Arabs, any agreement must include a plan for territorial and population exchange," wrote Lieberman in the new platform. "An arrangement of this kind with the Palestinian state will allow Israeli Arabs who do not identify with the State of Israel to become part of the Palestinian state."
Zahava Gal-On, chairwoman of the left-wing Meretz party, responded to Lieberman's platform change, saying that election panic had driven the foreign minister to a "populist, shady and irresponsible plan that encourages the transfer [of Israeli Arabs] and only fans flames on the ground."
However, Lieberman has routinely made similar comments since coming into the public spotlight in a variety of ministerial roles more than a decade ago.
The Yisrael Beytenu party was founded by Avigdor Lieberman in 1999 as a national movement with the clear vision to follow in the path of Zev Jabotinsky, and fulfill the three cardinal principles of Zionism: Aliyah (immigration), settlement, and defense of the homeland of the Jewish people.
A ghetto state of ghettos: Palestinians under Israeli citizenship
By: Mary Boger - Date of issue: 2008, ISBN: 0549593101
This dissertation is the first to theorize and empirically study the given segregation and separation characteristic of Israeli society as a case study in the production of social space (Lefebvre) as a process of ghettoization.
The specific social practices and relations of production of the Zionist nation building project have produced a ghetto state composed of ghettos.
The ghettoization of the Palestinians under Israeli citizenship is situated within the Zionist nation building project which is an on-going process, an unfinished and contentious process of social formation of a colonial settler society.
The ghettoization of this population is integral to an understanding of the construction of the Israeli state and society.
The latest events in Jerusalem have created a climate in which racist hatred can raise its ugly head without shame.
The center of racism is the government itself. It is completely dominated by the most extreme Right – indeed, there is nothing to the right of it.
From its inauguration, it seems that this government has done nothing but enacting racist laws. Almost every week we hear about an initiative to make yet another new law, worse than the last, if that is possible.
Just three days ago the Minister of Home Security, a minion of Avigdor Lieberman, initiated a law which would define the Arab Temple Guard as an “unlawful organization”...
Removing the Guard would tighten even more the grip of Jewish fanatics and cynical politicians on the Mount...
Then there is the proposed law that would allow the Knesset majority to annul the Knesset membership of any deputy who “favors the armed struggle against Israel”. Who decides? The Knesset majority, of course. It would act as prosecutor, judge and executioner at the same time....
The fact that one can build a career on attacking democracy, on hatred of Israel’s 1.7 million Arab citizens – more than 20% of the population – is chilling.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued sharp criticism against several of his ministers, particularly Finance Minister Yair Lapid, blaming them for the current coalition crisis.
"The government must work in harmony," Netanyahu stated during a Likud faction meeting Monday...
"I did not get mutual support nor responsibility from government ministers," the Prime Minister continued. "They attacked me over construction in Jerusalem and exposed me to criticism. They violate agreements obtained explicitly to provide real boosts to Israel's security and try to knock me down."
"I demand that these ministers stop their subversions and attacks," he added. "If you agree, we can continue together; if you refuse, the [decision] will go to the voters."
Netanyahu's warning follows news earlier Monday that two separate motions have been filed to bring down the government - one from left-wing parties Labor and Meretz, and another from the (ultra-orthodox) hareidi parties.
Today, the Haredim make up roughly ten percent of the population. The political parties that represent them have adeptly exploited Israel’s parliamentary system to squeeze subsidies and welfare support from the successive governing coalitions they have joined...
The haredim hold deep prejudices against modern interpretations of Judaism. This view was perhaps best summed up by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual mentor of Shas (a major ultra-Orthodox political party), who once said that “Reform Jews have no place within Israel. They are a nation apart. We should vomit out these people. . . . They are essentially dead.”
Such contempt is common among the ultra-Orthodox rank and file, and it finds expression in acts of hysterical intolerance... (Jeffrey Goldberg, Foreign Affairs 2013)
Dialog conducted a poll of 535 people with a margin of error of 4.1% that was published by Haaretz on November 30 2014. The poll was conducted on Nov 26-27. Current Knesset seats in [brackets]
77  Right-Religious
43  Center-Left-Arab
Who is most fit to be Israel’s Prime Minister?
35% Prime Minister Netanyahu, 17% Opposition Leader Herzog, 8% Foreign Minister Liberman, 7% Finance Minister Lapid, 6% Economy Minister Bennett, 27% Don’t know
Do you approve of the conduct of Prime Minister Netanyahu?
52% Not approve, 38% Approve, 10% Don’t know
Do you approve of the conduct of Finance Minister Lapid?
65% Not approve, 23% Approve, 12% Don’t know.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's intentions to hold elections on Tuesday morning, calling the move "unnecessary"...
"The Prime Minister decided last night to lead Israel into unnecessary elections," Lapid fired. "He is dragging the country into this without a need to do so, only so that he could strike a deal with the hareidi parties." "This is an inexcusable national irresponsibility," he added.
According to Lapid, the billions of shekels spent on new elections could be used, instead, to bolster the Israeli economy.
"We could add funds to the social budget, add billions to education, health, welfare, internal security, [and] provide a boost to the national housing program on the grand scale [. . .] and give young couples a discount of more than 200,000 shekels with the 0% VAT law and through price controls," he continued. "This budget would also see the additions of billions to the IDF and Defense establishment."
But instead, Lapid insisted, Netanyahu has chosen an 'easy way out' by turning to the hareidi parties for support.
"Instead of lowering the cost of living, transferring funds to social causes, improve the salaries of the middle class and helping the disadvantaged - the Prime Minister would rather raise taxes and pay now shekels of the Israeli middle class into the haredi parties' pockets."
Within Haredi circles, particularly among Mizrahi communities, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was regarded as "the most important living halakhic authority.
Ovadia Yosef’s most controversial quotations* The purpose of Gentiles — to serve Jews:
Times of Israel 9-10-2013
“Goyim were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel.” (Weekly Saturday night sermon in October 2010)
* On making peace with Arabs:
“How can you make peace with a snake?” “Those evildoers, the Arabs — it says in the Gemara [Talmud] that God is sorry he ever created those sons of Ishmael.” (Weekly Saturday night sermon in August 2000)
* On Muslims: “They’re stupid. Their religion is as ugly as they are.” (Weekly Saturday night sermon in December 2009)
Netanyahu: Rabbi Yosef ‘One of the Wisest Men
of This Generation’, October 7, 2013
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his sorrow over the death of Sephardic community leader Ovadia Yosef, who died Monday, aged 93.
Calling Yosef “among the greatest rabbis of our generation,” Netanyahu, in a statement, commended the rabbi for his practical vision....” Netanyahu added that in his meetings with Rabbi Yosef he “always learned very much.”
“The Jewish People have lost one of the wisest men of this generation,” he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni today, amid ongoing fighting over the Jewish statehood bill, and is expected to soon dissolve parliament and call for new elections.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says that new elections are “a done deal,” and Netanyahu said he could not tolerate “opposition from within” from the centrist cabinet members.
Israel’s coalition has been strained for virtually its entire two-year history, with disputes over settlements, budgets, and the peace process all threatening to derail it. Ultimately, it was the debate over the Jewish statehood bill that did it, with Livni complaining that the effort to change Israel’s Basic Law undermined the nation’s balance as a Jewish and democratic state.
The next Israeli election is not yet scheduled but will likely be in early 2015.
Naftali Bennett: "The Temple Mount is the basis of our existence" (Arutz Sheva 19-11-2014)
"The Temple mount is the holiest place in the world for Jews." (CNN, 4-11-2014)
Only one politician stands to gain from these very early national elections, and his fingerprints are all over it. His name is Naftali Bennett... Bennett stands to gain because, according to every single poll, his party (Jewish Home) is the only one that can be expected to grow by 50% or more in the ballots. Presently, Jewish Home has 12 MKs. The polls predict 17, 19, maybe more.
Bennett is now the likely candidate for minister of defense, come April. Since defense is Bennett's forte this is without a doubt the position he is angling for. The public is not ready for Bennett as prime minister... But a successful and dominant defense minister who brings security back to the Israeli streets, and possibly spearheads a strike on Iran's nuclear industry, later in his term, is a shoo-in to replace Binyamin Netanyahu at the country's helm, when the time comes.
Leaks from Netanyahu and Bennett's immediate surroundings confirm that Bennett has been talking to Netanyahu about the position of defense minister, post-elections, and that Netanyahu has come to accept that Bennett will be his most senior partner in the next government...
If things go as Bennett want them to, this election will mean that his nemesis, Tzipi Livni, and her cohort Lapid, are expelled from the coalition, and Bennett replaces Moshe Yaalon at the helm of the defense establishment...
The threats to Israel are multiplying exponentially, and Bennett's instinct tells him that Israel needs him as close to the helm as possible...
Several months of venomous campaigning lie ahead, but most of the poison appears to be headed in Netanyahu's direction, not Bennett's.
The most likely outcome of the elections is a return to the traditional coalition of Likud and the religious right, with Bennett as minister of defense.
Newly dismissed Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) has fired back with angry sarcasm at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after being dismissed on Tuesday in a move to disband the government.
“He has sacked – congratulations! – the gatekeeper of democracy and the constitution in the state of Israel,” she said Tuesday evening in a Channel 2 interview. “Congratulations. Now all the crazies can run amok.”
Livni fought back against an interviewers' hint that she could have averted the crisis if she had not fought against Netanyahu as openly as she did from inside his government.
“It is not our role to predict the future,” she explained. “It is our duty to fight for our goals from the offices that we hold, and Netanyahu's act today shows his own irresponsibility.”
Professor Ze'ev Sternhell, long known for his sharp criticism – bordering on incitement, many on the right say – said that he was frightened by the gang” of Economics Minister Naftali Bennett and Housing Minister Uri Ariel (both of Jewish Home).
Sternhell made the comment in what appeared to be a leading question by a reporter from the radical-left Haaretz newspaper, who asked “is there something that frightens you in the political system?”
“They are the most dangerous people,” he said. “[Foreign Minister Avigdor] Liberman is a little less frightening, because he does not have the religious fervor the other two have.”
Bennett and Ariel, he said, “along with the right wing of the Likud are truly dangerous people because they do not understand what democracy is. They do not understand what human rights are. They truly hate the Arabs, and there is no way for them to coexist with them. They have things in common with Marie Le Pen,” the right-wing French leader accused of racism, xenophobia, and fascism. “In some ways Le Pen is to the left of them.
“If Prime Minister Netanyahu really wants to get into the history books, he must disband this coalition and the Likud and build a new centrist government based on support from the left. And he should not be ashamed to garner Arab MKs to support this coalition,” he added.
Flashback 2005: Ariel Sharon alters political landscape by leaving Likud
The Guardian, Tuesday 22 November 2005
Ariel Sharon caused the biggest upheaval in Israeli politics in nearly three decades by resigning as leader of the ruling Likud party yesterday, saying that Likud is unfit to run the country. The prime minister announced the launch of a new party, National Responsibility.
Mr Sharon said that in leaving the party he had helped found he was putting the good of the country ahead of his personal political interests:
"After great hesitation I decided to leave the Likud. The Likud in its current format cannot lead Israel to its national aims... Remaining in the Likud means a waste of time in political fighting," he said.
"The task in front of us is to create a base for a peace agreement in which will we will create the permanent borders of the state while demanding the cessation of terror. " Mr Sharon said that National Responsibility would be committed to the US-led "road map" to peace.
Uzi Landau, a contender for the Likud leadership, said he believed that Mr Sharon intended to surrender West Bank settlements, and the Likud party would fight to stop him.
With ''The Founding Myths of Israel,'' Zeev Sternhell has written two books in one. His opening pages and the epilogue are a polemical pamphlet about the future of Israel.
Sternhell, Professor of Political Science at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, argues that Israel must give up its commitments to Zionism, to being a ''Jewish state,'' and become the state of all its citizens. This is to be achieved by abolishing every trace of special status for Jews and their religious and cultural heritage.
Sternhell argues that the founders of socialist Zionism in Israel, whose leading political figure was David Ben-Gurion, committed the original sin of being much more nationalist than socialist. They regarded the Jewish settlers in Palestine before World War I as an elite that was to lead in creating a Jewish majority in the land.
Sternhell is upset, page after page, that [socialist Zionists] did not come to Palestine to transcend Jewish nationalism and create universal socialism....
He implies that if these men and women had come to Palestine declaring their desire to create a socialist society, events would have gone much more peacefully. The Jewish pioneers would have been received with warmth and openness....
He believes that the the Arab-Jewish conflict was created by uncompromising Jewish nationalism, which in turn evoked Arab anger.
Therefore the way to end the conflict is to put an end to the national, Jewish, Zionist state. Israel must become a liberal, secular state.
Kennedy, Obama Dust Off Declaration of Independence
Democratic Convention 2004
- Question: Mr. President, three years into this war, and considering how things have turned out, do you regret that you haven’t managed things differently at the beginning, with the appearance of the first signs of the revolution in March 2011? Do you feel that you are responsible for what happened?
Syria 2011: "martyrs from the army and the police.."
- President Assad: Even in the first days of the events, there were martyrs from the army and the police; so, since the first days of this crisis we have been facing terrorism.
It is true that there were demonstrations, but they were not large in number. In such a case, there is no choice but to defend your people against terrorists. There’s no other choice...
Let’s be honest: had Qatar not paid money to those terrorists at that time, and had Turkey not supported them logistically, and had not the West supported them politically, things would have been different. If we in Syria had problems and mistakes before the crisis, which is normal, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the events had internal causes.
- Question: Your army is blamed for its excessive use of force during this war. Why are civilians shelled?
- President Assad: When a terrorist attacks you with weapons, how do you defend yourself and your people....? With dialogue?!
The army uses weapons when the other side uses them. For us in Syria, it is impossible to have our objective as shelling civilians. There’s no reason to shell civilians...
If we haven’t been defending the people, we wouldn’t have been able to stand all this pressure. Consequently, saying that we are shelling civilians doesn’t make any sense.
- Question: Satellite imagery of the cities of Homs and Hama show completely destroyed neighborhoods; and the United Nations, of which your country is a member, talks about 190,000 people having been killed in this war. Were all the people in those neighborhoods terrorists?
- President Assad: First of all, you need to verify the figures provided by the United Nations. What are the sources of these figures? The figures being circulated in the world, particularly in the media, are exaggerated and inaccurate.
Second, images of destruction are not only obtained through satellite images, they are there actually on the ground, and they are accurate. When terrorists enter a certain region and occupy it, the army has to liberate it, and there is a battle. So, naturally, there is destruction.
But in most cases, when terrorists enter a certain area, civilians flee from it. In fact, the largest number of victims in Syria is among the supporters of the state, not the other way round; and a large number of those were killed in terrorist attacks. Of course, when you have war and terrorism innocent people die...
- Question: According to the United Nations too, there are three million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, what amounts to one eighth of Syria’s population. Are all those allied with terrorists?
- President Assad: No, no. Those who left Syria are generally people who left because of terrorism. There are those who support terrorism, and there are those who support the state but left because of the security situation. There is also a significant number of those who do not support any side.
- President Assad: Terrorism is an ideology, not an organization or a structure; and ideology doesn’t acknowledge any borders. 20 years ago, terrorism used to be exported from our region, particularly from Gulf countries, like Saudi Arabia. Now, it is coming to our region from Europe, especially from France. The largest percentage of the European terrorists coming to Syria are French; and you had a number of incidents in France. There was also an attack in Belgium against a Jewish museum. So, terrorism in Europe is no longer asleep, it is being awakened.
- Question: From a military perspective, do you have the means which enable you to win this war?
- President Assad: Now we are fighting states, not only gangs. Billions of dollars are spent on those gangs. They receive arms from different countries... So, it is not an easy war from a military perspective. Nevertheless, the Syrian Army is winning in many places. On the other hand, no one can say how this war will end or when. But the major war for them in the beginning was how to win the hearts of the Syrians; and they have lost this war. The communities which embraced terrorists have become very small, and that is the reason why the army is winning.
The Incredible Shrinking President
- Question: You talked about Gaddafi. Do you fear facing the same fate and to meet your death like Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi?
- President Assad: A captain doesn’t think of life and death, he thinks of saving his ship... Remaining president had never been my objective, before, during, or after the crisis. But we as Syrians will never accept that Syria become a western puppet state. This is one of our most important objectives and principles.
- Question: Let’s talk about ISIS. Some people say that the Syrian regime encouraged the rise of Islamic extremists in order to divide the opposition. How do you respond to that?
- President Assad: In Syria we have a state, not a regime. Let’s agree on the terms first. Second, assuming that what you are saying is true, that we supported ISIS, this means that we have asked this organization to attack us, attack military airports, kill hundreds of soldiers, and occupy cities and villages.
Where is the logic in that? What do we gain from it? Dividing and weakening the opposition, as you are saying? We do not need to undermine those elements of the opposition. The West itself is saying that it was a fake opposition.
So, this supposition is wrong, but what is the truth? The truth is that ISIS was created in Iraq in 2006. It was the United States which occupied Iraq, not Syria. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was in American prisons, not in Syrian prisons.
- Question: The Americans, in their war against ISIS, are tactical (temporary) allies. Do you still think that their intervention constitutes a violation of national sovereignty?
- President Assad: First, you said that it is tactical, and this is an important point. You know that tactics without a strategy do not produce results, so it will not defeat terrorism.
It is an illegal intervention, first because it is not authorized by a Security Council resolution, and second because it did not respect the sovereignty of a state, Syria, in this case. So, it is an illegal intervention, and consequently constitutes a violation of sovereignty.
- Question: Do you think that the alliance’s airstrikes are helping you?
- President Assad: Terrorism cannot be destroyed from the air, and you cannot achieve results on the ground without land forces who know the geographical details of the regions and move in tandem with the airstrikes.
That’s why, and after two months of the alliance’s airstrikes, there are no tangible results on the ground in that direction. And that’s why saying that the alliance’s airstrikes are helping us is not true.
Had these airstrikes been serious and effective, I would have said that they would be certainly useful to us. But we are the ones fighting the battles against ISIS on the ground, and we haven’t felt any change...
- Question: On July 14th, 2008, you stood on the presidential podium in the Champs Elysees on the sidelines of the Mediterranean summit. Today, the French government considers you an outcast. Do you believe that you can revive relations with Hollande some time in the future?
- President Assad: The issue has nothing to do with personal relations, for I don’t know him to start with. It has to do with relations between states and institutions, relations based on the interests of two nations. When there is any French official, or French government, seeking mutual interests, we will deal with them.
As for him considering me a personal enemy, I don’t see the logic of that. I’m not competing with Hollande for anything. I believe that Hollande’s competitor in France now is ISIS, because his popularity is close to that of ISIS.
- Question: In your latest visit to Paris in November 2010, I conducted an interview with your wife, Mrs. Asmaa al-Assad. Do you miss traveling outside the borders of your country?
- President Assad: Traveling is not one of my hobbies anyway; and my visits were not for tourism, but for work. What I truly miss is Syria as it was. This is what we miss. And of course we miss the existence of a different world, a world which has logical and moral relations.
- Question: Your wife used to consider herself an ambassador of modernity. How does she live in Syria, and how does she feel about what is happening in Syria, particularly that she hasn’t left the country?
President Assad: Like all Syrians, she feels pain. Both of us feel pain for the destruction and the blood we see in Syria, to see Syria going backwards decades and not years.
It’s painful to see the country which used to be one of the top five countries in the world in terms of security become a safe haven for terrorists. It is also painful for both my wife and I to see our belief that the West will help us in our bid for development and openness go in the opposite direction, and what is even worse, to see the West having allies among these medieval states in the Gulf, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Flashback - Bashar Assad: 'Friendship with Russia'
Sergei Balmasov, Pravda 13-12-2011
Until recently, you were considered a respectable leader in the West. Why do you think the situation has changed so much?"
"The current pressure on Syria from the West has not become something unexpected for us.
In September 2001, US President George Bush launched a crusade against the countries that were running US-independent policies. The crusade was guised under the struggle against terror. Afghanistan became the first on the list, Iraq followed next. Clouds began to gather above Syria too, and the USA said that Syria was another link in the axis of evil (Iraq-Iran-North Korea).
"The changes became especially noticeable in 2003, soon after the US and its allies attacked Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein. Then US Secretary of State Colin Powell arrived in Syria and demanded Syria should revise its ties with Russia. He said that Syria's policies with Russia must change by 180 degrees. We were told to terminate all agreements with Russia. They virtually told us to turn our back on Russia.
"They threatened to conduct aggression against my country otherwise. Powell stated that US troops had already been deployed in Iraq. He said that military hardware and combat aviation could be used against Syria. We did not succumb to the pressure and rejected the ultimatum suggestion. They started to put unprecedented pressure on Syria. We've been able to stand the pressure, and Russia has been helping us a lot here. We are very grateful to Russia for this assistance."
"The sitting US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and other US officials publicly expressed their support to Syria's radical opposition that struggles with guns in their hands. What can you say about the gunmen that operate on the Syrian territory?"
"The terrorists, who work against Syria, receive the support from the USA and several Arab countries of the Persian Gulf. I would like to pay special attention to the fact that the situation was similar about Russia's actions in Chechnya. The West and several Arab monarchies also supported the terrorists who struggled against the Russian troops. This is exactly the same that they are doing in Syria now.
"Spokesmen for the Syrian opposition, including those who stay in Moscow, claim that the official authorities supposedly contribute to the conflict because they refuse to legalize the Muslim Brotherhood. You announced the start of serious political reforms. You also said that you would hold the national elections. Does the Brotherhood have a chance to win legitimacy and get into the parliament?"
"In accordance with the acting Constitution, Syria is a secular state. Therefore, no movement that acts under religious slogans and aims to split the Syrian society can hope for it. This goes for the Muslim Brotherhood too.
This organization can not be legalized judging upon their ideology. It does not mean, though, that we cut those people from the opportunity to participate in the peaceful life of the country.
We offer them to establish their own political party which would be based on secular principles so that the party could struggle for the seats in the parliament."
Damascus, SANA – ” The visit of the Syrian delegation to Moscow was “successful” as it proves Russia’s firm stance for supporting Syria in combating terrorism and shows Russia’s respect to the decision of the Syrian people and its keenness on Syria’s unity and territorial integrity,” Shaaban said, dismissing as “baseless” any change in Russia stance towards Syria.
Shaaban elaborated that Russia is playing a significant role in easing the impact of the role played by certain states like Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia on the track of the events (in Syria).
She pointed out that Russian and Syrian viewpoints towards inter-Syrian dialogue are close...
The Political Advisor reiterated that the Syrian government has determined, during Geneva conference 2014, combating terrorism is a top priority for Syria and the region.
Shaaban pointed out that the Syrian government cares for the interest of Syria and its people therefore it deals with any envoy or proposal from this perspective, emphasizing that ”Syria is waiting for the outcome of the UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura’s consultations with the other parties.
She expressed hope that Russian-Turkish relations would help in easing Turkish hostility towards Syria as turkey has led the war against Syria by facilitating the entry of terrorists, arming and training them.
She expected that turkey will change its policy in the future...
On the Iranian-Western rapprochement, Shaaban underlined that Iran is a strong regional country and its good relations with the world would serve Syria’s interests.
"The bad habit with which the United States was left by victory in the Cold War was to believe that the war had been a-zero sum game, which is to say that whoever won, won...! They were now and forever Number One... Moreover whoever lost: lost — and was expected to stay lost.
Washington and the U.S. press are obsessed with Vladimir Putin today because he is unwilling to stay lost." William Pfaff, 2-12-2014
If for some European countries national pride is a long-forgotten concept and sovereignty is too much of a luxury, true sovereignty for Russia is absolutely necessary for survival.
Primarily, we should realise this as a nation. I would like to emphasise this: either we remain a sovereign nation, or we dissolve without a trace and lose our identity.
Of course, other countries need to understand this, too. All participants in international life should be aware of this.
And they should use this understanding to strengthen the role and the importance of international law, which we’ve talked about so much lately, rather than bend its standards to suit someone's strategic interests contrary to its fundamental principles and common sense, considering everyone else to be poorly educated people who can’t read or write.
It is imperative to respect the legitimate interests of all the participants in international dialogue. Only then, not with guns, missiles or combat aircraft, but precisely with the rule of law will we reliably protect the world against bloody conflict. Only then, will there be no need to scare anyone with imaginary self-deceptive isolation, or sanctions, which are, of course, damaging, but damaging to everyone, including those who initiate them.
Speaking of the sanctions, they are not just a knee-jerk reaction on behalf of the United States or its allies to our position regarding the events and the coup in Ukraine, or even the so-called Crimean Spring. I’m sure that if these events had never happened.., if none of that had ever happened, they would have come up with some other excuse to try to contain Russia’s growing capabilities, affect our country in some way, or even take advantage of it.
The policy of containment was not invented yesterday. It has been carried out against our country for many years, always, for decades, if not centuries. In short, whenever someone thinks that Russia has become too strong or independent, these tools are quickly put into use.
However, talking to Russia from a position of force is an exercise in futility, even when it was faced with domestic hardships, as in the 1990ies and early 2000ies.
We remember well how and who, almost openly, supported separatism back then and even outright terrorism in Russia, referred to murderers, whose hands were stained with blood, none other than rebels and organised high-level receptions for them. These “rebels” showed up in Chechnya again...
Let me reiterate, we remember high-level receptions for terrorists dubbed as fighters for freedom and democracy. Back then, we realised that the more ground we give and the more excuses we make, the more our opponents become brazen and the more cynical and aggressive their demeanour becomes.
Despite our unprecedented openness back then and our willingness to cooperate in all, even the most sensitive issues, despite the fact that we considered our former adversaries as close friends and even allies, the support for separatism in Russia [..] was absolutely obvious and left no doubt that they would gladly let Russia follow the Yugoslav scenario of disintegration and dismemberment...
It didn’t work. We didn’t allow that to happen.
Just as it did not work for Hitler with his people-hating ideas, who set out to destroy Russia and push us back beyond the Urals....
This week, Israel’s peculiar coalition government came to a screeching halt. In an embarrassing debacle, Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid and Hatnuah’s Tzipi Livni were shown the door and blamed for the whole mess; new elections are on their way.
While many were busy picking their jaws off the floor, the real surprise is just how impotent the Israeli Left wing has become.
With no sign of cooperation or initiative to put out a message or send out a personality to rally Israelis together for something better, Benjamin Netanyahu and his opportunistic politicking calls the shots in the Israeli political scene. Rather than a melting pot of the various sociopolitical ideologies that constitute the Israeli public, the Knesset has become a monarchy of the Right wing, with Bibi as its King.
No one can say Benjamin Netanyahu is anything other than a skilled political operator. Time hailed the Israeli ‘King’ back in 2012, saying, “Netanyahu is poised to become the longest-serving Israeli Prime Minister since David Ben-Gurion, the founding father of Israel. He has no national rival”.
And that’s the thing; no one else is out there.
The prospects for dethroning the current royalty, and providing Israelis with any hope of a peaceful resolution to the conflict and occupation, aren’t much to write home about.
The most recent performance to come out of the Israeli big-tent political circus is not so much a failure on Bibi’s behalf, but rather a demonstration of the ineptitude of those who claim to represent Israelis committed to a Jewish Democratic state.
It was disappointing that the Left didn’t do more to improve the treatment of African refugees corralled into the Holot Detention Facility. It was odd that the Left-leaning members of Netanyahu’s government stood by during the escalation of the most recent round of violence in Gaza. It was puzzling when they let Netanyahu alienate the American administration that constitutes one of Israel’s last staunch ties to the international community.
All in all, it seems that this latest coalition has been standing by as Netanyahu, Likud, and the Right affront the Declaration of Independence that founded the Jewish State.
If the Israeli political Left cannot field a coalition that can properly express and fight for the concerns of the silent majority of their constituents, then you can also forget about calling Israel a Democracy.
Welcome to Bibi’s Jewish Kingdom.
The Labor Party lies in ruins. It has ceased to exist as a functioning party.
Its leaders haunt the corridors like ghosts. Its local branches are in a shambles. It has no program. It has no plan. Nobody knows what it wants Nobody knows what it exists for. If, indeed, it does exist.
Peres does not bear the responsibility for this collapse alone. Its main architect was Ehud Barak, the champion of disasters, who spread the historic lie that we have no partner for peace. With this he opened the way for Ariel Sharon's rise to power.
But Shimon Peres joined Sharon's government, served him loyally, disseminated around the world the myth that Sharon is a man of peace, paved his way in Washington and lent a willing hand to all his atrocities - the "targeted killings", the wholesale demolition of homes, the enlargement of the settlements at a frantic pace. (Uri Avnery Gush Shalom 20-9-2003)
Rightist hawks & The Temple Mount
Not since the Camp David summit of 2000, when then-premier Ehud Barak tried to reach an agreement with Yasser Arafat (or maybe merely "expose his true face") have the Temple Mount and the right of return been so celebrated. Rightist hawks, with the help of a few plucked doves in the Labor Party, are pouring fire and brimstone on the "Geneva criminals" who had the temerity to even consider handing the Holy of Holies over to the Muslims.
The issue of sovereignty over the Holy of Holies has even penetrated Yosef Lapid's secular skin. The burning debate enables the Shinui platoon to distract its voters' attention from the legitimization it is giving to radical religious nationalism. (By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz 20-10-2003)
The real criminal is Barak
Most Israelis are ready to pay the price demanded for peace. So why do they support Sharon, who represents the opposite? For one simple reason: they have been brought to believe that “we have no partner”. There is a complete unanimity, from Avigdor Liberman and Effy Eitam on the right to Haim Ramon and Yossi Sarid on the “left”, that “there is no partner”...
The real criminal in this story is Ehud Barak. In order to hide his monumental failure as a peace-maker, he created the legend that “we offered them everything and they rejected everything.” (Uri Avnery, Palestine Chronicle 8-7-2002 )
Mohammed Dahlan: "Ehud Barak blocked
the attempts to reach agreement"
The US administration is simply not prepared to confront the Sharon government under any circumstances. That was made clear by the fact that Bush has repeatedly asked Sharon to leave Palestinian cities and been ignored...
It is important to understand how we reached this bloody impasse. I took part in the Camp David talks in the summer of 2000 and was one of those who fought hardest to reach an agreement - indeed, I had to put up with accusations from others in the Palestinian delegation that I was too keen to reach a deal. But I was the first to refuse what had apparently been offered (apparently, because nothing was in writing). Contrary to subsequent claims, there was no serious offer made at Camp David, no solution floated that we would have regretted passing up.
The talks at Taba four months later, where there was a serious dialogue, were a different matter. If we had been offered at Camp David the kind of outline package we reached at Taba, we could have had a deal. But Ehud Barak, the Israeli prime minister, blocked the attempts to reach agreement because Israeli elections were two weeks down the line. (The Guardian, 2-7-2002
Shulamit Aloni: "Barak killed the Left"
When asked about the chances of a leftist revival in Israel, Shulamit Aloni (Meretz) was pessimistic, and chose to level some more charges.
“If you look for the Left, you won’t find it,” she said. “Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak killed it.
The Left’s collapse resulted from several reasons, including the Labor party’s participation in Sharon’s former government.” (YNet news, 3-8-2005)
Throughout the 1970s Aloni attempted to create a dialogue with Palestinians in hopes of achieving a lasting peace settlement. During the 1982 Lebanon War she established the "International Center for Peace in the Middle East". In 1992, she led Ratz into an alliance with Shinui and Mapam to form the new Meretz party, which won 12 seats under her leadership in the elections that year.
Aloni became Minister of Education under Yitzhak Rabin but was forced to resign after a year due to her outspoken statements on matters of religion.
As Education Minister, she also criticized organized tours by Israeli high school pupils to Holocaust concentration camps on grounds that such visits were turning Israeli youth into aggressive, nationalistic xenophobes...". (Wikipedia info)
ISRAELIS ARE fed up with Binyamin Netanyahu...
Curiously enough, this has happened to Netanyahu once before.
In 2000, In the evening after the election, when it was announced that Netanyahu had been defeated, there was an explosion of enthusiasm. Tens of thousands of delirious citizens streamed spontaneously to Tel Aviv's central Rabin Square and cheered the savior, Ehud Barak, the leader of the Labor Party. He announced the Dawn of Another Day.
Unfortunately, Barak turned out to be a sociopath and an egomaniac, if not a megalomaniac. He missed the chance of peace at the Camp David conference and in the process almost completely destroyed the Israeli peace movement. The Right, this time under Ariel Sharon, came back. Then under Ehud Olmert. Then under Netanyahu again. And Again.
And now again? God forbid!
We have new elections.
At this moment it looks as if we are doomed to have a fourth Netanyahu government, even worse than the third, more racist, more anti-democratic, more anti-peace. Unless...
THREE WEEKS ago, when nobody yet anticipated the imminent breakup, I wrote an article in Haaretz. The title was "A National Emergency Government".
My argument is that the Netanyahu government is leading the country towards disaster. It is systematically destroying all chances for peace... IN THIS emergency, I wrote, we cannot afford the usual squabbling between little left-wing and centrist parties, each of which does not even come near to endangering the right-wing coalition in power. In a national emergency, we need emergency measures.
We need to create a united election bloc of all centrist and leftist parties, leaving nobody out, if possible including the Arab parties...
What is proposed is a temporary alliance, based on a general platform of peace, democracy, equality and social justice.
The declared purpose of the bloc should be to put an end to the catastrophic drift of the country towards the abyss and to oust not just Netanyahu, but the whole bunch of settlers, nationalist and racist demagogues, war-mongers and religious zealots.
Interpol issued arrest warrants for more than 40 senior Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated figures, including head of the Doha-based International Union of Muslim Scholars Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi.
“Egyptian authorities succeeded in persuading Interpol that these figures are fugitives and terrorists who are inciting violence and crimes,” a high-level Egyptian security official informed Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday.
He revealed that Interpol had issued “red notices” for Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, Sheikh Wagdy Ghoneim and 40 other “senior members” of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organization.
The Egyptian official said that the figures included on the list are wanted on a number of terror-related crimes.
As for Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, who is often described as the “spiritual godfather” of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian official said: “He has issued statements aiming to confuse relations between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors, in addition to inciting violence in Egypt and Syria.”
Interpol’s official website confirms that Qaradawi, aged 88, is wanted on a range of charges including “agreement, incitement and assistance to commit intentional murder, helping prisoners to escape, arson, vandalism and theft.”
Sheikh Wagdy Ghoneim, a controversial Egyptian-Qatari Islamic preacher who was deported from the US in 2005 and has been refused entry to a number of European countries is wanted for “participating in crimes of violence, murder, kidnapping, torture and possession of a firearm without license.”
The International Islamic Council expelled a group led by Egyptian cleric Youssef Al-Qaradawi, a sympathiser of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, after Interpol issued a warrant for his arrest.
The council, whose main aim is to promote the message of Islam and charity work, said Qaradawi's International Union of Muslim Scholars, and ten other groups, were dropped because they mix preaching with politics, and support terrorist groups.
An Interpol arrest warrant was issued for the Qatari-based cleric upon Egypt's request, as he is being tried in absentia for charges of "agreement, incitement and assistance to commit intentional murder, helping prisoners to escape, arson, vandalism and theft."
Al-Qaradawi denied the charges on his Facebook page.
"I did not kill, and I have never incited to murder to justify Interpol putting me on their wanted list," Al-Qaradawi said.
Wikipedia InfoYusuf al-Qaradawi (born 9 September 1926) is a controversial Egyptian Islamic theologian. He is best known for his programme, ash-Shariah wal-Hayat ("Shariah and Life"), broadcast on Al Jazeera. Some of al-Qaradawi's views have been controversial in the West: he was refused an entry visa to the United Kingdom in 2008, and barred from entering France in 2012.
Al-Qaradawi has described Shi'ites as heretics ("mubtadi'oun"). Fellow member of International union of Muslim Scholars, Mohammad Salim Al-Awa criticized Qaradawi for promoting divisions among Muslims. In response, the Iranian Press Agency has described Qaradawi as "a spokesman for “international Freemasonry and rabbis". Qaradawi accused what he called "heretical" Shias of "invading" Sunni countries.
On 21 February 2011, he talked about the protests in Libya and issued a fatwa against Muammar Gaddafi:
“...To the officers and the soldiers who are able to kill Muammar Gaddafi, to whoever among them is able to shoot him with a bullet and to free the country and [God’s] servants from him, I issue this fatwa (uftî): Do it! That man wants to exterminate the people (sha‘b). As for me, I protect the people (sha‘b) and I issue this fatwa: Whoever among them is able to shoot him with a bullet and to free us from his evil, to free Libya and its great people from the evil of this man and from the danger of him, let him do so!'
The ruling Likud party, under Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and the Jewish Home, under Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, have agreed not to attack each other in the upcoming election campaign.
Instead, the parties will focus on Yisrael Beytenu and Moshe Kahlon's as-yet-unnamed party, for their apparent enthusiasm to trade land for a peace treaty.
1. Jewish men who have sexual relations with Jewish women
Now elections appear near again. This time around, Likud will not repeat its mistake. This means that Netanyahu and Bennett have buried the hatchet, and that Likud and the Jewish Home are allies - but it also means something deeper than that...
This time around, Jewish tradition is not in the line of fire, and hareidi-bashing will not be the order of the day, at least not in Likud's campaign.
Instead, it appears that the campaigns of both Likud and the Jewish Home will be directed against other parties' plans to relinquish land for promises of peace.
Hopefully, this change of direction will annul the effect of the 2013 elections, and keep young Israelis voting for Jewish Home and Likud...
It seems safe to say that this election signals a return to Jewish roots, Jewish morals and Jewish strength – and given the threats Israel faces from without and within, this comes not a minute too soon.
Flashback: Murder in the Name of God
The Plot to Kill Yitzhak Rabin (1998)
Two Israeli journalists offer an extremely troubling portrait of the extreme right-wing in their country and the occupied territories—a blend of ultranationalism and religious fanaticism.
Murder in the Name of God investigates and re-creates the tragic events of November 4, 1995. On that night, a twenty-five-years-old student, Yigal Amir, fired three shots that killed Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
. Based on exhaustive research, including an exclusive interview with the assassin, Murder in the name of God is the sole book to give the full story of the people whose words and deeds made Rabin’s assassination possible:
the extremist rabbis who condemned Rabin by invoking an arcane Talmudic ruling; the right wing politicians who joined in a sophisticated campaign of incitement against him; the militant Israeli settlers, for whom the Oslo accords spelled betrayal; and the security agents who failed to understand the obvious signs.
In a series of shocking revelations, Murder in the Name of God ranges beyond Israel to show the extent American support – ideological and financial – for the movement that produced Rabin’s killer.
Controlled by the Orthodox religious establishment
Allan C. Brownfeld, spring 1999, The American Council for Judaism
The ultra-Orthodox world from which Yigal Amir came, in which he was educated and nurtured, has contempt for the idea of Israel as a secular democratic state with equal rights for all of its citizens.
Karpin and Friedman report that the Orthodox view on the dichotomy between Israel’s self-definition as both a Jewish and democratic state "has consistently been that a Jewish state must, by definition, be ruled by Jewish religious law as interpreted by rabbinical scholars.
Israel’s secular founders had never even entertained that idea. They established the state as a democracy governed by civil law and undertook, in the Declaration of Independence, to ‘ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex’ and to ‘guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language education and culture.’ <
But as a concession to the religious parties, they agreed to a certain blurring of the formal division between the authority of ‘church’ and state. Thus in the early 1950s an arrangement was reached whereby matters affecting a citizen’s ‘personal status’ — essentially meaning marriage, divorce and burial — was controlled exclusively by clerics.
For Israel’s Jews this means they are controlled by the Orthodox religious establishment, and over the years this arrangement has played havoc with the civil rights of countless citizens.
During the past decade the division over which system of law — religious or civil — should prevail has grown, with the religious right demanding that democratic values be subordinated to Jewish law and the secular left demanding that a bill of rights be legislated.
Rabin's Assassins & The Jabotinsky Gang
By Michele Steinberg, EIR Vol 29 # 23, June 14, 2002.
The intellectual authors of the Nov. 4, 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, were the "Jabotinsky's Princes," most prominently Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon, whose rise to power was the direct result of that murder.
The story is graphically detailed in a book by Michael Karpin and Ina Friedman, Murder in the Name of God: The Plot To Kill Yitzhak Rabin (New York: Metropolitan Books, 1998), which was reviewed by Michele Steinberg in EIR, March 8, 2002. The authors provide an extensively researched report on the network of rabbis who control the Jewish terrorists, and who pronounced a religious death sentence on Oslo peacemaker Rabin — and on the meetings where discussions of the "duty" to kill Rabin took place. The following quotes from Steinberg's review and from the book give a good idea of what fascists we are dealing with.
Karpin and Friedman write:
"By early evening [of October 5, 1995, date of the Knesset parliamentary debate on Oslo II], tens of thousands of right-wing protesters had made their way to Jerusalem's Zion Square for a demonstration called by the opposition parties, the Yesha Council, the Joint Staff and the Action Headquarters....
A bearded young man in a yarmulke was caught on tape holding a picture of Rabin in one hand and beating it with his fist while shouting ... 'Because of this dog, this country is going to be destroyed.'... The microphone caught a voice saying, 'Instead of filming, will you come to the funeral? Will you come to the funeral tomorrow?'...
"As loudspeakers blasted patriotic songs, the crowd began working itself up to a frenzy even before any of the scheduled speakers had begun.... Wild young men in yellow Kach T-shirts carried Meir Kahane's son, Benyamin, on their shoulders.... Supporters of the Likud set Rabin's portrait on fire.
Two bearded young men hoisted a banner reading 'Rabin, Arafat's Dog.' Standing near them a woman waving a blue and white Likud flag shouted, 'Death to Rabin!' over and over like a mantra. Shouts of 'Nazis!' 'Collaborators!' and 'Judenrat!' were levelled at the cordon of policemen.... Overlooking it all, on the balcony of the Ron Hotel, stood a gallery of right-wing politicians gazing with satisfaction at the maelstrom below. [Then-Likud chairman] Benjamin Netanyahu waved his hand at the demonstrators in encouragement. Ariel Sharon, Tsomet's Rafael Eitan, and Rehavam Ze'evi — all masters of anti-Arab and anti-government invective — flanked him.
Tsachi Hanegbi, Netanyahu's liaison with the Action Headquarters, stood beaming with pride at the turnout and tenor of the crowd. The heart of the capital had been turned into a scene of fevered abandon.|...
"The climax of the evening was Netanyahu's speech.... Throughout the speech the violence kept escalating. Demonstrators threw lit torches at policemen. Groups of Kach supporters jumped up and down screaming, 'Rabin is a dog.... In blood and fire we'll drive Rabin out' ... [Netanyahu] thundered, '...we will bring the government down."
Karpin and Friedman tell how the violence escalated, especially after a leaflet with a photo-montage of Rabin dressed in an Nazi SS uniform began circulating, and the chant rose, "Rabin is a Nazi." In this frenzy, the demonstrators marched to the Knesset, where they attacked Rabin's empty limousine...."
A month later, Rabin was shot and killed at a campaign rally by Yigal Amir, a fellow traveller of the Kach movement, who had been harassing Rabin at his home for over a year.
Just sing a song for peace, don't whisper a prayer
On November 4, 1995, Rabin appeared at a large peace rally in Tel Aviv, joining the singing of "Shir L'Shalom" (Song for Peace). Minutes later, as he was leaving the rally, an Israeli Jewish extremist, Yigal Amir, jumped out of the crowd and shot Rabin. Less than an hour later, Rabin was pronounced dead at a Tel Aviv-area hospital.
Murder in the Name of God
Michael Karpin and Ina Friedman. Metropolitan Books, 1998.
Review by Guilain Denoeux, Posted on October 8, 2014
Michael Karpin, one of Israel’s most prominent journalists and Ina Friedman, an American-born correspondent who's lived in Israel since 1968, analyse the campaign of incitement that led to the assassination of the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Written in the style of investigative journalism, the book skillfully pieces together information about key participants in this drama... A whole gallery of zealots, radical rabbis, yeshiva teachers and members of the Shabak (Israel’s General Security Services) who, directly or indirectly, willingly or unwillingly, were drawn into this defining moment in Israeli history.
However, Murder in the Name of God does far more than merely re-create the intrigues and the tragic chain of events that resulted in Rabin’s murder. It also offers a unique look into the world of Jewish religious messianism and ultranationalist extremism in both Israel and the United States.
Karpin and Friedman provide overwhelming evidence to support three critical claims.
First, Rabin’s murder should've come as no surprise. Indeed, it was forecast by several leading commentators including Yehoshafat Harkabi (former chief of Israeli military intelligence in the 1950s).
Second, Amir was neither deranged nor isolated in his belief. Far from representing a “lunatic fringe”. Living on the margins of Israeli society, he came out of a world and subculture that represent an important component of Israel and its body politic.
Third, several individuals on the mainstream right, most notably Binyamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon, didn't hesitate to rely on the religious and radical right to promote their own agendas. They repeatedly indulged and lent tacit support to zealots who called for violence to thwart the implementation of the Oslo agreements.
To the authors, Rabin’s assassination merely underlined the most critical fault line in Israeli society today: the tension between mainstream and religious-messianic Zionism.
The former, embodied in Rabin, envisions a modern, democratic state faithful to Zionism’s original mission of giving Jews a means to realise their national aspirations...
By contrast, religious-messianic Zionism, of which Amir was a product, aspires first and foremost to protect “authentic” Jewish values and traditions against the ever-present dangers of assimilation.
While mainstream Zionism reflects a pragmatic outlook and a longing for normalisation, religious-messianic Zionism aspires to conform to a God-given scheme and is concerned primarily with maintaining the distinctiveness of the Jewish people.
Karpin and Friedman describe the radicalisation of the religious Zionist community, shown in particular by the rightward drift of the Religious Nationalist party and its current status as one of the most hawkish parties in Israel. They also underscore the blurring of the lines between the haredi community and the religious Zionists...
The turn towards fundamentalism in the modern Orthodox community was paralleled by the display of more radical political leanings among the haredim.
It was the convergence of these two trends that enhanced the possibilities for political cooperation between haredim and religious Zionists and led the two worlds to interact more closely than ever before.
Haredim and religious nationalists also forged new alliances with the secular right and zealots of the Meir Kahane type. The result was the emergence of a broad-based social movement comprising three main components: secular extremists, religious ultranationalists and haredim. The three currents found increasing grounds to cooperate with each other towards the shared goal of opposing the return of the occupied territories.
One of the most interesting sections of the book describes how, like their counterparts in the Muslim world, radical rabbis in Israel and the United States have revived old, obscure halachic concepts to justify the use of violence.
Terms such as din rodef (“the duty to kill a Jew who imperils the life or property of another Jew”) and din moser (“the duty to eliminate a Jew who intends to turn another Jew in to non-Jewish authorities”) were applied...
The assassination was quickly eliminated from the public agenda
In the final chapter, Karpin and Friedman bemoan that the country made no genuine attempt to draw lessons from the assassination, that it refrained from taking steps that might prevent a similar occurrence in the future.. In the name of protecting a mythical “national unity”.
For fear that a serious examination of the tragedy might increase social and ideological tensions in an already splintered society, the assassination was quickly eliminated from the public agenda. (Guilain Denoeux - Associate professor of government, Colby College)
The Turkel Committee for Examination of Senior Appointments approved Wednesday the appointment of Major General Gadi Eizenkot as the IDF's 21st Chief of General Staff...
The members of the Turkel Committee, which is headed by retired Supreme Court Judge Ya'akov Turkel, met Eizenkot this week – as well as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) and outgoing chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz. The committee looks into high-ranking appointments to make sure that they comply with rules, regulations and ethics.
Eizenkot was apparently not Prime Minister Netanyahu's preferred choice for chief of staff.
According to some reports, Netanyahu hoped to bring Major General (res.) Yoav Galant back into the IDF for the position... When this proved impossible, Netanyahu met with Eizenkot, and the two reportedly discussed a letter Eizenkot had sent Netanyahu, in which he voiced his objections to a possible IDF strike in Iran.
According to unconfirmed reports, Netanyahu wanted to make sure that if instructed to conduct a strike against Iran, Eizenkot would follow orders.
Eizenkot, 54, has served over the past two years as Deputy Chief of Staff. He will replace the current Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, in February.
Eizenkot is credited with being the most prominent exponent of the Dahiya doctrine, a defense strategy which "Israel finally realizes that its enemies should be accountable for their leaders' acts".
The Dahiya doctrine is a military strategy put forth by the Israeli general Gadi Eizenkot that pertains to asymmetric warfare in an urban setting, in which the army targets civilian infrastructure, as a means of establishing deterrence against militant use of that infrastructure.
The doctrine is named after a southern suburb in Beirut with large apartment buildings which were flattened by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the 2006 Lebanon War, after Israeli jets dropped leaflets warning residents to evacuate.
Israel implemented this strategy in Gaza during the 2008–09 and 2014 conflicts.
The doctrine's premise expressed as follows: "There would be no mercy shown when it comes to hitting the national infrastructure of a state that, in practice, is controlled by a terrorist organization."
The Dahiya Doctrine calls for the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure in order to induce suffering and severe distress throughout the targeted population.
By targeting indiscriminately, the IDF hopes to deter further military attacks against Israel, destroy its enemies, as well as influence the population to oust the militants seen as the primary target.
The Dahiya Doctrine amounts to the direct use of state terrorism and is now the functioning military policy of the IDF.
State terrorism, "establishment terrorism" or "terrorism from above" is generally understood to mean the systematic and intentional use of violence against either military or civilian targets meant to create a climate of fear in a population in order to bring about a specific political objective.
The Dahiya Doctrine is designed to develop deterrence, which is a political objective. Indiscriminate violence used to gain political objectives is no different than non-state actor terrorism, and should be categorized and treated as such.
This policy of war crimes is flawed because if you target the civilian population and its infrastructure, you inevitably create a climate where the idea of self-defense is no longer considered radical, but a necessity. In essence, you are hastening the radicalization of an entire generation and population, and their international allies.
The doctrine is doomed to fail unless a state follows through with the complete destruction of the targeted people. This is synonymous with genocide.
In a stirring speech delivered at the annual Bet El Institutions dinner earlier this week, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said that the United States should immediately cease its funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and allocate the same amount to housing for Jews in Judea and Samaria (AKA the West Bank).
Turning to the group, Huckabee said:
“The Palestinians have refused to acknowledge the existence of Israel, and continue to teach in their schools that the Jews are targets for murder. This should be so unacceptable that the United States should send a simple message: Until the Palestinians are willing to acknowledge not only the right of Israel to exist, but until it tears every page of every textbook that has that kind of anti-Semitic, hateful, unacceptable, violent language within the textbooks for children - then not only will the US not support any type of negotiation, but the US will cease immediately to send another dime of support to the PA or to Gaza. And the money that would have been given will now go to send concrete to Israel so they can build new apartment buildings and neighborhoods throughout Judea and Samaria...”
Huckabee spoke before a crowd of 1,100 people at the Bet El Institutions dinner at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan, the largest Zionist Gala gathering in New York.
Established in 1977 on a bare mountain in Israel’s Samaria region, Bet El Institutions hosts the largest and most prestigious New York dinner of any Israel organization. Bet El's leaders take the spirit of the Torah and the Land of Israel and project it in a way that is out of proportion to any other institution of its type. Here is the Bet El Institutions in brief:
1.Bet El is the largest Jewish town living on the front lines of Ramallah (1300 families!).
2.The Israel Defense Forces Preparatory Academy in Bet El is comprised of Sephardic, Yemenite and Ethiopian students... The IDF Academy in Bet El is a life-changing experience for these youth, deepening their ties with their Jewish roots... The IDF Academy is a project of Bet El Institutions.
3.IsraelNationalNews.com - Arutz Sheva, Israel's third largest English online news site, is owned and operated by Bet El Institutions. It reaches millions! They are the pioneers of fighting Israel's battle in the media.
4.Yeshiva.org.il, the Bet El Yeshiva's Torah MegaSite serves as the primary site for religious-Zionist Torah study.
5.Besheva Newspaper is owned and operated by Bet El Institutions.
Huckabee is "America’s leading Christian Zionist politician." He believes that the land of Israel was promised to the modern-day Jews by God. He has written that, "the Jews have a God-given right to reclaim land given to their ancestors and taken away from them."
Huckabee is a Rapturist. Rapturists believe in the physical return of Jesus to greater Israel. The Jews remain the apple of God’s eye, the land promised to the patriarch Abraham being their inheritance. The land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River must be secured for Israel. Solomon’s Temple will be rebuilt...
Huckabee on Israel and Palestine
He supports the creation of a Palestinian state. He believes that such a state should be formed outside “Israel.” He suggested Saudi Arabia and Egypt as prospects for such a state... He stands against the creation of a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. He has stood against any pullback of settlements on the Golan Heights and the West Bank.
He has the last word within the Free Syrian Army (FSA), but lives in Istanbul, Turkey. He travels back to Syria occasionally, but only when the FSA council requires his attention.
Rami Aldalati was born in the Syrian town of Homs, a graduate in Islamic theology in Syria and a civilian. That all changed when he was assigned the highest military position in the FSA.
- Rudaw: Why did the FSA withdraw its forces instead of taking on the Islamic State (ISIS), especially in the town of Adlib?
- Rami Aldalati: I think the military support for the FSA was not substantial enough to resist an ISIS advance or to curb its rise in the northeastern parts of Syria. There were, of course, other reasons too. ISIS financed its war machinery through the oil wells it had seized and even the tribal populations of these areas were supporting it in any way they could. And besides all of that, the ISIS was heavily fortified by the support it received from Mosul and other Iraqi cities which were seized by the militants. They moved much of the apprehended weaponry in Mosul and other areas to Syria and that drastically changed the balance of power between us and ISIS...
- Rudaw: Recently, there were reports of clashes between Syrian rebels and the al-Nusrah Front, in which the rebels withdrew after losses. Some say this has created a threat against the other forces?
- Rami Aldalati: We have to be frank and differentiate between al-Nusrah and ISIS, although both have ties with al-Qaeda. ISIS is a criminal organization...
The al-Nusrah Front has a different story. All members of this front are Syrians. They are to some extent popular. And people have recognized them in part. We do not approve of everything they do. But we cannot deny them either. They have an impact and we have some coordination.
The US army is at war with ISIS. But it has not fought al-Nusrah. Washington knows that there is some level of cooperation between us and the Nusrah Front, but turns a blind eye.
- Rudaw: Do you see the Nusrah Front as a threat against the Syrian Revolution?
- Rami Aldalati: So far, we see the al-Nusrah as a Syrian front against the regime. We do not see it as a radical group.
- Rudaw: But al-Nusrah sympathizes with the al-Qaeda?
- Rami Aldalati: Yes, that is true...
- Rudaw: According to the Dohuk agreement, there will be a new Kurdish force in Syrian Kurdistan. How will you deal with this new force?
- Rami Aldalati: We do not have any strong ties with these forces. But we are working on our relations. Not cooperating with FSA is a problem for the Syrian people and Kurdish people. There is no great support for FSA internationally or among our Kurdish brethren.
- Rudaw: The US-led coalition is targeting the ISIS positions in Kobane but not in other places in Syria. How do you interpret that?
- Rami Aldalati: We were against the idea that the international coalition would only target ISIS. We said we will join the coalition if it will target both ISIS and the Syrian regime. But if you only target ISIS under the pretext of protecting US national interests, it is a different story...
Flashback: Security Council adopts resolution
against the funding and arming of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra
Syrian Arab News Agency, 16/08/2014
New York, SANA – The Security Council on Friday evening adopted resolution no. 2170 on preventing the supporting, funding, and arming of the terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra and preventing the flow of terrorists to Syria and Iraq.
The resolution prohibits the direct or indirect sale of weapons and related items to ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, and individuals associated with them...
The Council voiced concern over the impact of the violent ideology and extremist acts of these two organizations on locals and on their role in causing sectarian tension.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected any Palestinian attempt to set an ultimatum through a U.N. Security Council resolution for Israel to end its occupation.
"We will not accept attempts to dictate to us unilateral moves on a limited timetable," he said in a statement before heading for Rome to meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
"In the reality in which Islamic terrorism is reaching out to all corners of the globe, we will rebuff any attempt that would put this terrorism inside our home.
"We will stand firm in the face of any diktat."
The Palestinians on Sunday announced they would present a draft resolution to the Security Council on Wednesday setting a two-year deadline for Israel to withdraw from occupied Palestinian territories.
Kerry and Netanyahu were to meet later Monday to discuss the vote, with the U.S. expected to veto the draft.
Flashback 2001: Bernard-Henri Levy would not have gone
to Libya had “he not been Jewish”, RTL.fr 24-11-2011
Bernard-Henri Levy 2011
French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy said that “it is as a Jew“ that he “participated in the political adventure in Libya,” in the first National Convention organized by the Representative Council of Jewish Organizations of France (CRIF).
“I would not have done if I had not been Jewish,” said the philosopher, before an audience of nearly 900 people, meeting in Paris, adding: “I wore my flag in fidelity to my name and my loyalty to Zionism and Israel.“
Invited to speak on this subject, Bernard-Henri Levy explained the reasons which led to eight months ago to engage in the fight against the regime of Colonel Gaddafi, who was killed Oct. 20 last by the rebels near the NTC.
“I find it sometimes come to be proud to be French “ ”What I did during those few months, I’ve done for many reasons. First as French...“
“I did it for reasons even more important” , he said: “the belief in the universality of human rights (…). I am among those who have always been tempted to stand in support of victims.”
“There is another reason which little has been said, but on which I have yet many extended: that public, which has never let go is that I was Jewish..."
”I would not have done if I had not been Jewish,“ he said. "What I have done all these months, I did as a Jew. And like all Jews of the world, I was worried."
Despite the legitimate anxiety is an uprising to be welcomed with favor, we were dealing with one of the worst enemies of Israel. “ (extremeprejudiceusa)
Glasses or no glasses? True, we're not talking about dividing Jerusalem or a proposed substitute for the zero-VAT law, but it is an issue that Labor Party Chairman Isaac Herzog's advisors are currently pondering over.
I took a chance and advised Herzog to stick with the glasses – because they add a touch of maturity and seriousness to his baby face.
He sighed – not because he was agitated or fed up, but out of acceptance, explaining that Israel's citizens have been sending him more and more fashion tips ever since early elections were announced.
"Everyone is full of ideas," Herzog says. "I receive dozens of emails, calls and text messages with suggestions for improvements every day."
His media advisers now require journalists not to address him by the nickname, Buji.
From now on, his name is Isaac Herzog only."Herzog will remain Buji only for his wife, Michal," his associates say.
Herzog's advisory team has already hired the services of a voice coach, and the party leader is also receiving instruction on how to appear in front of the cameras. He doesn't have a stylist yet, but one will be hired without hesitation if required...
With his new-found forcefulness, Herzog rejects the media's preoccupation with the cosmetic issue: "I believe we can bring about a change, but people should know that this is not a reality show. Leading a country is something serious..."
Eyeglasses & Anti-Intellectualism
Anti-intellectualism is a trademark of totalitarian regimes -- like the military junta in 1960s Argentina or the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, where people could be killed for wearing glasses, a sign, apparently, of intellect...
During their four years in power, the Khmer Rouge overworked and starved the population, at the same time executing selected groups who they believed were enemies of the state or spies or had the potential to undermine the new state. People who they perceived as intellectuals or even those who had stereotypical signs of learning, such as glasses, would also be killed. (Wikipedia info)
There is a strong strain of anti-intellectualism pervasive in American society, especially among the youth. A lot of kids consider it "cool" not to have studied for an exam or having gotten the lowest grade on an exam. Similarly, people who wear glasses in America are often derided as nerds or geeks. The roots of this anti-intellectualism have been studied in great detail, perhaps most famously by Richard Hofstadter's 'Anti-Intellectualism in American Life'.
1. a person opposed to or hostile toward intellectuals and the modern academic, artistic, social, religious, and other theories associated with them.
2. a person who believes that intellect and reason are less important than actions and emotions in solving practical problems and understanding reality.
Flashback: "We must create states on a civil basis"
General Mufti of the Syrian Arabic Republic, Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun
Turning to education, Dr Hassoun said, "Let us teach our school pupils that what is sacred in the world is man" since man "is the creation of the creator".
If we want peace, starting for example with Palestine and Israel, he suggested that rather than building walls, "let us build bridges of peace".
He also argued that "we must create states on a civil basis, not a religious basis", adding "I don't impose my religion on you, nor do you impose your religion on me". (European parlement, 15-1-2008)
"What's a 'Humanist'?"
As a Humanist activist, it's a question I hear a lot. I'm not comfortable with the idea of trying to answer it on behalf of all Humanists, so I usually respond to the question by sharing the story of how I came to identify as a Humanist...
The story of how I became a Humanist is a funny one to me in part because, after searching so long for an identity that affirmed my naturalistic worldview and compassionate ambitions, I found secular Humanism because of a Muslim...
While interning at Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), my friend Eboo Patel introduced me to Greg Epstein's Good Without God and the works of other contemporary Humanists. From there, I began to devour Humanist literature; Confucius, Epicurus and Renaissance Humanism, up to more recent Humanist thinkers like Robert G. Ingersoll and Paul Kurtz. I read the various editions of the Humanist Manifestos and jumped up excitedly to repeat their words aloud:
"Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity."
This was what I believed -- particularly its emphasis on taking personal responsibility for the greater good of all...
If a devout Muslim can introduce an atheist like me to Humanism, then I believe anything is possible.
Eboo Patel is a member of President Barack Obama's inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships. He is an American Ismaili Muslim of Gujarati Indian heritage and founder and president of the Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based international nonprofit that aims to promote interfaith cooperation.
US President Barack Obama celebrated Hanukkah on Wednesday.
550 guests arrived at the White House for the event, including 20 Israeli teenagers who brought a Hanukkah lamp. Obama arrived with a cheerful smile with his wife, Michelle..
"Obviously, the bonds between our two countries are unbreakable, and with the help of young people, they’re only going to grow stronger in the years to come," said Obama.
Among the attendees were members of Congress, representatives of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, and dozens of 12th-graders from around Israel who arrived as part of a leadership program.
MK Hanna Swaid (Hadash), who hails from the Galilee town of Eilaboun, sent a letter Thursday to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) urging him to order the placing of the Christmas tree “at the entrance [to the Knesset], or another visible place, as you see fit.”
The placement of the tree would be “a gesture toward Christian members of Knesset and citizens of Israel, and a symbol of [Israel’s] ties to the Christian world generally.”
“The Knesset has to express multiculturalism in the sense that in the Knesset there are MKs from different cultures, not just Jews but Christians, Muslims, Druze and others. The Knesset represents all the subgroups, cultures and strata of [Israeli society],” he said.
It is also an opportunity to see if Israeli lawmakers stand by some of their rhetoric, he added.
“I hear a lot of right-wing voices talking about the importance of the Christian minority, and the suffering of Christians in the Middle East. I want to test this sentiment.”
Jeremiah 10:2-4: “Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; (astrology was idolized) for the heathen are dismayed at them… For the customs of the people are vain: for one cuts a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers that it move not.”
Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein says he refused to display a Christmas tree in the parliament because of the painful memories it evoked among Jews.
Edelstein told Israel Radio such a public display of a Christian symbol could be construed as offensive.
Earlier this week, Edelstein rejected the request of a Christian-Arab lawmaker. He said the parliamentarian could display a tree in his office and party's conference room.
Edelstein says the initiative is part of an Arab campaign to chip away at Israel's Jewish nature.
He warned that if he had agreed he would then likely face further requests to display a cross and crescent in parliament. (Haaretz, 26-12-2013)
Displaced Christians In Iraq
By Antonia Blumberg, Huffington Post, 19-12-2014
Iraq's Christians and other religious minorities had a horrific year as the Islamic State swept through the country with its reign of terror.
One bishop estimated that 90 percent of Iraq's Orthodox Christians have been displaced, while others have speculated that "Christianity in Iraq is finished."
As Christmas approaches, however, displaced Christians in Iraq are keeping their traditions alive despite the ongoing threat of the Islamic State. Christians staying in the Mar Elias Catholic Church in Ankawa and Umm al-Nour Church in Erbil have set up holiday markets where they are making and selling Christmas merchandise -- and spreading a little Christmas cheer in the process.
With the lighting of this tree we mark the festival of Christmas which is the most sacred and hopeful day in our civilization.
For nearly 2,000 years the message of Christmas, the message of peace and good will towards all men, has been the guiding star of our endeavors.
This morning I had a meeting at the White House which included some of our representatives from far off countries in Africa and Asia. They were returning to their posts for the Christmas holidays. Talking with them afterwards, I was struck by the fact that in the far off continents Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, as well as Christians, pause from their labors on the 25th day of December to celebrate the birthday of the Prince of Peace.
There could be no more striking proof that Christmas is truly the universal holiday of all men. It is the day when all of us dedicate our thoughts to others; when all are reminded that mercy and compassion are the enduring virtues; when all show, by small deeds and large and by acts, that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
It is the day when we remind ourselves that man can and must live in peace with his neighbors and that it is the peacemakers who are truly blessed. (December 17, 1962 - American Presidency Project)
Right Wing Israel & Morality
We hold that Zionism is moral and just...
There is no other morality.
(Zeev Jabotinsky, The Iron Wall, 1923)
The Kingdom has backed the ongoing talks between Qatar and Egypt, including a meeting between Qatar's special envoy Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al-Thani and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah El-Sissi.
The move aims at improving relations between the two countries by ending differences. “Qatar envoy’s visit to Egypt will open a new chapter in the relations of the two countries,” said a statement issued by the Royal Court on Saturday.
"This move is part of King Abdullah's initiative to ensure that all GCC countries support stability in Egypt."
This was the first such meeting between the two countries since El-Sissi took office last summer, signaling a thaw in relations between the two nations.
It was also the first meeting of its kind since the Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, reached a reconciliation agreement with Qatar last month, aimed at easing regional tensions linked to Doha's alleged support for some groups in the region.
El-Sissi's office said Egypt looks forward to a "new era that leaves behind the disagreements of the past."
Violence has no place in Islam. This is the reminder of the Qur’an — “We made a covenant with you, that you shall not shed your blood, nor shall you evict each other from your homes. You agreed and bore witness.” (Qur’an, 2:84)
The Qur’an does not promote fighting but friendship with those who do not fight with believers on religious issues:
“God does not enjoin you from befriending those who do not fight you because of religion, and do not evict you from your homes. You may befriend them and be equitable toward them. God loves the equitable.” (Qur’an, 60:8)
The Qur’an promotes peace and it shows the way to establish the same: “If they resort to peace, so shall you, and put your trust in God. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient.” (Qur’an, 8:61)
Another verse states, .”..Therefore, if they leave you alone, refrain from fighting you, and offer you peace, then God gives you no excuse to fight them.” (Qur’an, 4:90)
We may need to fight back only when gross injustice is committed:
“You may fight against those who attack you, but do not aggress. God does not love the aggressors... If they attack you, you may kill them... If they refrain, then God is Forgiver, Most Merciful... Aggression is permitted only against the aggressors.” (Qur’an, 2:190-193)
War should be tolerated only to drive away aggression and tyranny: “Permission is granted to those who are being persecuted, since injustice has befallen them, and God is certainly able to support them.”
The ultimate victory belongs to the righteous:
“We reserve the abode of the Hereafter for those who do not seek exaltation on earth, nor corruption. The ultimate victory belongs to the righteous.” (Qur’an, 28:83)
Refugees of the 2011 Libyan Civil War
Refugees of the Libyan Civil War are the people, predominantly Libyans, who fled or were expelled from their homes during the Libyan Civil War, from within the borders of Libya to the neighbouring states of Tunisia, Egypt and Chad, as well as to European countries across the Mediterranean.
According to a Le Monde article dated May 13, 2014, there are between 600,000 and 1,000,000 Libyan refugees in Tunisia, many of which are political opponents of the present forces in power in Libya, and many of which are supporters of the Jamahiriya of Muammar Gaddafi. This represents between 10 and 15% of the population of Libya prior to the NATO intervention.
According to journalist Barbara Slavin, reporting for Al Monitor on August 5, 2014, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki stated that two million Libyans, or one third of the pre NATO intervention population of Libya, have taken refuge in Tunisia. (Wikipedia info)
O Virgin Immaculate, Mother of God and my Mother, from your sublime heights turn your eyes of compassion upon me.
An estimated 9 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of civil war in March 2011, taking refuge in neighbouring countries or within Syria itself.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 3 million have fled to Syria's immediate neighbours Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. 6.5 million are internally displaced within Syria.
Meanwhile, under 150,000 Syrians have declared asylum in the European Union, while member states have pledged to resettle a further 33,000 Syrians. The vast majority of these resettlement spots – 28,500 or 85% – are pledged by Germany. (syrianrefugees.eu)
Refugees of Iraq
Refugees of Iraq are Iraqi nationals who have fled Iraq due to war or persecution. Throughout the past 30 years, there have been a growing number of refugees fleeing Iraq and settling throughout the world, peaking recently with the latest Iraq War.
Precipitated by a series of conflicts, the subsequent sanctions against Iraq, and culminating in the violence during and after the American-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, millions have been forced by insecurity to flee their homes in Iraq.
Unlike most refugees, Iraqi refugees have established themselves in urban areas in other countries rather than in refugee camps.
In April 2007, there was an estimate of over 4 million Iraqi refugees around the world, including 1.9 million in Iraq, 2 million in neighboring Middle East countries, and around 200,000 in countries outside the Middle East. (Wikipedia info)
Desmond Tutu was chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. Beliefnet conducted an email interview with him...
What is God’s dream, and how was it imparted to you?
God's dream is that you and I and all of us will realize that we are family, that we are made for togetherness, for goodness, and for compassion.
In God’s family, there are no outsiders, no enemies. Black and white, rich and poor, gay and straight, Jew and Arab, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Buddhist, Hutu and Tutsi, Pakistani and Indian—all belong. When we start to live as brothers and sisters and to recognize our interdependence, we become fully human.
This dream can be found throughout the Bible and has been repeated by all of God's prophets right down to Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi.
Is it realistic to say there are no enemies when we are involved in a war?
God’s love is too great to be confined to any one side of a conflict or to any one religion. People are shocked when I say that George Bush and Saddam Hussein are brothers, that Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon are brothers, but God says, “All are my children.” It is shocking. It is radical. But it is true.
Aren’t some people simply beyond redemption?
We in South Africa had the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and we had the most devastating revelations of ghastly atrocities. We could describe them as monstrous, even demonic. But even these torturers remained children of God, with a possibility of being able to change. After all, a thief on the cross was able to repent and Jesus promised that thief, "You will be with me in paradise."
Jesus didn't say, “Look at what kind of life you have led up to this point.” All of us have the capacity to change...
Dershowitz: "Desmond Tutu is
one of the most evil men in the world"
In 2012 the political science department of the University of Pennsylvania, along with Hillel, invited retired professor and pro-Israel activist Alan Dershowitz to attack the BDS movement (boycotts, divestment and sanctions).
Dershowitz has called on Israel to use bulldozers to demolish entire Palestinian villages, rather than individual houses, in retaliation for Palestinian terrorist attacks, although collective punishment violates international law.
In another context he defends the use of torture and proposes methods that include shoving a “sterilized needle underneath the nail.” He lambastes as an anti-Semite nearly everyone who has criticized the Israeli state, once saying “there is a special place in hell” for former President Jimmy Carter and that South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu is “one of the most evil men in the world.” (Chris Hedges, Truthdig 19-12-2014)
A record crowd of over 1,100 people attended the Zionist Organization of America’s (ZOA) 116th Louis B. Brandeis Award National Dinner on Sunday, November 23 at the New York City’s elegant Grand Hyatt Hotel. Major ZOA donors provided tables for 261 student activists from various universities around the country.
Professor Dershowitz received the Mort Zuckerman Award for Outstanding Pro-Israel Journalism...
Dershowitz: "To be anti-Israel is to be also anti-American"
San Diego Jewish World, 25 November 2014.
Alan Dershowitz opened with the exclamation, “Wow, what a gathering! I’m here as a liberal, Democrat and Zionist.”
Dershowitz spoke of the under-girding principle he followed in advocating for Israel, which was to focus unrelentingly, not on what might divide Zionists of different stripes, but on what united Zionists across the board, of unity and bipartisanship — for example, the vital Zionist position that Iran must not be permitted to become either a nuclear power or a nuclear threshold state.
Dershowitz continued: "To be anti-Israel today is to be also anti-American. It is no coincidence that those who hate Israel also despise the United States of America — Norman Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky and so on."
A record crowd of over 1,100 people attended the Zionist Organization of America’s (ZOA) 116th Louis B. Brandeis Award National Dinner on Sunday, November 23 at the New York City’s elegant Grand Hyatt Hotel. Major ZOA donors provided tables for 261 student activists from various universities around the country.
Professor Dershowitz received the Mort Zuckerman Award for Outstanding Pro-Israel Journalism...
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, Feast of Dedication, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire of the 2nd century BCE.
Phariseeism: Hypocritical observance of the letter of religious or moral law without regard for the spirit.
Although celebrated as heroes who saved Jewish practice and Torah law from suppression and abrogation by the Syrian Greeks, the Maccabees are portrayed in the First Book of Maccabees as religious zealots, murdering coreligionists who had chosen the path of Hellenism.
The Role of Hellenism
Central to any assessment of the Maccabees is an evaluation of the role of Hellenism, an ideology whose universalistic outlook was based on Greek ideas and athletic prowess.
Following in the footsteps of Alexander the Great, Hellenism became a political tool used by the Syrian Greeks to consolidate their power among the wealthy bourgeoisie. In turn, the aristocratic elites who embraced Hellenism gained access to the social and economic perquisites flowing to citizens of a Greek polis, including the right to mint coins, to take part in international Hellenistic events, and to receive protection from the city’s founding ruler.
But Hellenism encompassed more than a pragmatic relationship between the ruler and local economic elites; it also represented an "enlightened" worldview considered by many to be the way of the future.
Nations who shut themselves off and did not confront the challenge of Hellenism were falling by the wayside. Because it was viewed as the wave of the future, the pressure to acculturate to Hellenism was quite intense in Judea. Therefore, the people of Judea had to decide whether the universalistic focus of Hellenism constituted a danger to their ancestral religion and its God or whether it simply represented a more modern and "progressive" way of life that could be merged with Jewish practice.
Was the appropriate response, then, to reform Judaism in the spirit of Hellenism or to assume a stance protective of traditional Jewish values by "liberating" Judea from the Syrian Greeks?
The Jewish Hellenists chose the reform path; they wanted to move beyond separatism and assimilate the positive aspects of Greek culture into Judaism.
As First Maccabees recounts, "In those days there emerged in Israel lawless men [Jewish Hellenists] who persuaded many, saying, ‘Let us go and make a covenant with the nations that are around us; for since we separated ourselves from them, many evils have come upon us’" (I Maccabees 1:11).
When evaluating the Maccabees’ role, one must ask whether the Hellenist Jews, deemed apostates by the Maccabees and their supporters, had the right to assimilate their Jewish observance to the surrounding Greek culture. The Maccabees answered with a resounding "no".
41 Moreover king Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom, that all should be one people,
42 And every one should leave his laws: so all the heathen agreed according to the commandment of the king.
43 Yea, many also of the Israelites consented to his religion, and sacrificed unto idols, and profaned the sabbath.
44 For the king had sent letters by messengers unto Jerusalem and the cities of Juda that they should follow the strange laws of the land,
45 And forbid burnt offerings, and sacrifice, and drink offerings, in the temple; and that they should profane the sabbaths and festival days:
46 And pollute the sanctuary and holy people:
47 Set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice swine's flesh, and unclean beasts:
48 That they should also leave their children uncircumcised, and make their souls abominable with all manner of uncleanness and profanation:
49 To the end they might forget the law, and change all the ordinances.
Hellenism is the term used to describe the assimilation of Greek culture into other nations and peoples.
The Greek influence in other nations and cultures is referred to as Hellenistic, especially after the time of the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C.
The word “Hellenism” means “becoming like Greeks” and is derived from the Greek Hellas Isles (Helles meaning Greek in the Greek language.)
All aspects of life were affected by Hellenism and this applied to the Diaspora Jews in Egypt and Palestine. Within 100 years, Hellenism was dominant throughout the Eastern Mediterranean territory including Palestine/Syria.
After the conquests of Alexander and under the government of Ptolemy (who ruled from Alexandria in Egypt), certain government practices were introduced, turning the Jewish way of life toward a more Hellenistic culture.
Many Jews felt their ways to be old-fashioned and were embarrassed by their religious practices in contrast to the sophisticated culture of the Greeks. Consequently, they enthusiastically embraced the Greek ways.
For others, their Jewish identity and way of life were thought to be threatened by the Hellenistic culture and cultural assimilation was a great concern in 1 and 2 Maccabees.
Jews in Palestine were forced by Syrian Greek King Antiochus IV Epiphanes to publically violate Jewish law in 168 BC. ... It was at that time that the Maccabees rose up under the leadership of Mattathias and later his son Judas Maccabeus.
Both the priestly Sadducees and the Pharisees emerged during the time of the Maccabees.
41 Then Judas appointed certain men to fight against those that were in the fortress, until he had cleansed the sanctuary.
42 So he chose priests of blameless conversation, such as had pleasure in the law:
47 They took whole stones according to the law, and built a new altar according to the former; 48 And made up the sanctuary, and the things that were within the temple, and hallowed the courts.
49 They made also new holy vessels, and into the temple they brought the candlestick, and the altar of burnt offerings, and of incense, and the table.
50 And upon the altar they burned incense, and the lamps that were upon the candlestick they lighted, that they might give light in the temple..
Yaasub Ali stands inside his shop in Baghdad's Shorjah market surrounded by nearly empty shelves cleared of decorations by Iraqis seeking holiday cheer after a year of relentless violence.
In the narrow market, which dates to the Abbassid era more than 700 years ago, Iraqis peruse Christmas and New Year's decorations ranging from wreaths and ornaments to red-and-white Santa Claus outfits and figurines.
Many of them are not members of Iraq's dwindling Christian minority but Muslims who have embraced the end-of-the-year holiday season as an occasion to celebrate.
"Demand was unusually high this year... this is the first time we sold this amount," says Ali, who has worked in the shop for 10 years.
"We did not expect this demand," he says, pointing to shelves emptied of decorations except for Santa costumes and some ornaments. He speculates that there is heightened demand because "people are looking for an outlet".
At another shop, Safa -- who goes by the name "Abu Hadaya," meaning "Father of Gifts" -- says sales have been unprecedented.
"I have sold gifts and decorations for 30 years and this is the first time I have witnessed (demand) to this extent. I sold all the Christmas and New Year's decorations," he says. "People want to rejoice this year because of the sadness caused by (IS)," Abu Hadaya says.
Ali Abdulzahra, a Shiite from the shrine city of Najaf carrying two massive bags of decorations, agrees.
"People need to celebrate more this year because many of them were harmed by what happened, and they love to get themselves out of sadness," he says.
"If we don't celebrate, the country dies", Ahmed Khaled, a Sunni Muslim from Baghdad's northern Adhamiyah area, says...