Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Why Do I Get the Feeling?

OMFG, Jonathan Freedland's Guardian is so bloody depressing.

I've just taken a peek, God help me, at the 1,000+ torrent of (overwhelmingly) garbage and bile, aka comment, on its website following Gabrielle Chan's article, Bob Brown endorses action against Lee Rhiannon as Greens turmoil deepens (26/6/17).

What vile, stagnant swamp, I wonder, breeds these sadsacks and mental defectives? Is it any wonder we've got swamp monsters like Abbott, Trumble, Shorten, Dutton, Hanson and the like plaguing us?

In over a thousand 'comments' only one got why the admirable Senator Lee Rhiannon has come under fire from the know-nothings (di Natale) and has-beens (Brown) in her party:

"Why do I get the feeling that Lee's strong stand on the atrocities happening to the Palestinians is behind the hostility to Lee? The Greens may not accept corporate donations, but that does not mean that there are not forces behind the scene pulling strings."

Whoever you are, you have that feeling because you know what's going on.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Rogue State, Rogue President

Seymour Hersh on the chemical attack that wasn't:

"On April 6, United States President Donald Trump authorized an early morning morning Tomahawk missile strike on Shayrat Air Base in central Syria in retaliation for what he said was a deadly nerve agent attack carried out by the Syrian government two days earlier in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. Trump issued the order despite having been warned by the US intelligence community that it had found no evidence that the Syrians had used a chemical weapon.

"The available intelligence made clear that the Syrians had targeted a jihadist meeting site on April 4 using a Russian-supplied guided bomb equipped with conventional explosives. Details of the attack, including information on its so-called high-value targets, had been provided by the Russians days in advance to American and allied military officials in Doha, whose mission is to coordinate all US, allied, Syrian and Russian Air Force operations in the region.

"Some American military and intelligence officials were especially distressed by the president's determination to ignore the evidence. 'None of this makes any sense,' one officer told colleagues upon learning of the decision to bomb. 'We KNOW that there was no chemical attack... the Russians are furious. Claiming we have the real intel and know the truth... I guess it didn't matter whether we elected Clinton or Trump.'

"Within hours of the April 4 bombing, the world's media was saturated with photographs and videos from Khan Sheikhoun. Pictures of dead and dying victims, allegedly suffering from the symptoms of nerve gas poisoning, were uploaded to social media by local activists, including the White Helmets, a first responder group known for its close association with the Syrian opposition. The provenance of the photos was not clear and no international observers have yet inspected the site, but the immediate popular assumption worldwide was that this was a deliberate use of the nerve agent sarin, authorized by President Bashar Assad of Syria. Trump endorsed that assumption by issuing a statement within hours of the attack, describing Assad's 'heinous actions' as being a consequence of the Obama administration's 'weakness and irresolution' in addressing what he said was Syria's past use of chemical weapons." (Syria: Trump's red line,welt.de, 25/6/17)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Israel Can't Fool All of the People All of the Time...

Even in Trumpland:

"An unprecedented [IRmep] poll reveals the gaping void between American identification with Israel and the official position taken by both major political parties. A majority of American adults - 70.3% - do not consider themselves Zionists when defined as 'A Zionist is a person who believes in the development and protection of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel. Only 24.9% say, 'I consider myself a Zionist' while 4.8% provided other responses." (Poll: Most Americans aren't Zionists, Grant Smith, antiwar.com, 20/6/17)

Some other interesting excerpts from the above:

"... 80 million Christian evangelicals provide a nationwide multiplier at the voting booth, the result of decades of intense Israel lobby cultivation. This critical to the Israel lobby since according to Pew research, 82% of Jewish Americans do not belong to Jewish organizations, 70% are only somewhat or 'not at all' attached to Israel, while 44% think settlement building is a bad idea. This suggests that Jewish supporters involved in the Israel lobby number only around 774,000..."

"Many prospective candidates for national office must present position papers on Israel to regional AIPAC officials before being allowed to tap a national network of single issue issue pro-Israel donors for the seed-funding necessary to launch political campaigns. Any subsequent divergence from an essentially Zionist narrative or voting record can result in loss of this financial support, primary challenges and ousting from office."

"It is a testament to the lobby's harmful propaganda campaigns that in 2014, as it battled the Iran nuclear deal, most Americans believed Iran already possessed nuclear weapons. A plurality of Americans - in contrast to much of the world - believe Palestinians occupy Israeli land and not the reverse."

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Next One

While any advance...

"The South Australian Parliament today passed a landmark motion calling on the Australian Government to recognise the State of Palestine just as it recognises the State of Israel." (Motion to recognise Palestine passed in South Australian Parliament, Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA)' Press Release, 22/6/17)

... is always better than no advance, may the next AFOPA media release read:

The Australian Government today passed a landmark motion calling on Israel to end its criminal occupation of the West Bank and blockade on Gaza, repeal all apartheid legislation denying full equality between Israel's Jewish and Palestinian Arab citizens, and welcome the return of all Palestinian refugees and their descendants to their Palestinian homeland.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Meet Israel's South Syrian Army

Remember Israel's late, unlamented South Lebanon Army (SLA)? They were a proxy sectarian militia led by General Antoine Lahad and strutted their stuff  - which included a notorious torture centre in the Lebanese town of Khiam - in an Israeli-declared 'security zone' north of the Israeli-Lebanese border in the 1980s and 90s. Well, as the Lebanese (particularly Hezbollah) resistance to Israel's occupation of south Lebanon grew in the 1990s, Israel's 'security zone' became its 'insecurity zone' and it was finally forced to withdraw in 2000.

And its SLA proxy? So sad:

"... there were mass arrests of collaborators with Israel who, after interrogation by Hizbullah's security apparatus, were turned over to the Lebanese authorities. More than 1,250 militiamen with their families crossed into Israel before the Israeli pullout was completed on May 27, 2000. The refugees, who were being housed in a camp near Lake Tiberias, complained about the squalid living conditions and expressed their anger at Israel. 'Israel betrayed us... We could have continued to fight Hizbullah for ten years without the Israeli army, but they handed them victory,' said Etian Sakhr, known by Lebanese as 'Abu Arz,' the leader of the Lebanese Cedar Party." (In the Path of Hizbullah, Ahmad Nizar Hamzeh, 2004, p 95)

Well, meet the South Lebanon Army's contemporary Syrian counterparts, the South Syrian Army:

"Israel has been providing Syrian rebels near its [!?] border in the Golan Heights with a steady flow of funds, medical supplies and humanitarian assistance, with one group receiving roughly $5,000 per month, according to rebel fighters quoted in a newspaper report. The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing interviews with half a dozen rebel leaders and three persons familiar with Israel's undeclared policy, that the Jewish State is helping these forces, which are opposed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Iranian, Lebanese and Russian allies, in an effort to help set up a buffer zone on its [!?] border with forces friendly to Israel. According to the report, Israel set up a special military unit in 2016 to oversee and coordinate the transfer of the aid, which helps the groups pay salaries and buy weapons and ammunition... Israel has dubbed this operation in the Golan Heights the 'Good Neighborhood' policy... 'Israel stood by our side in a heroic way, a spokesman for the rebel group Fursan al-Joulan, or Knights of the Golan, Moatasem al-Golani, told the Journal. 'We wouldn't have survived without Israel's assistance'." (Israel provides steady flow of cash, aid to Syrian rebels, says WSJ report, timesofisrael.com, 19/6/17)

I sure hope there's still some room left in that squalid 'refugee' camp near Lake Tiberias for Israel's Knights of the Golan...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Coming Russo-American War?

"US, Russian, and Iranian military forces have all been involved in the Syrian War for some time now, and all with differing agendas. As they all increase their involvement, those fights have become less separated, and particularly in the case of the US and Russia, the threat of direct clashes is growing. After several incidents in which US warplanes attacked Syrian pro-government targets, the US yesterday had its biggest attack, shooting down a Syrian Su-22 bomber inside Syrian airspace. The US insisted the attack was 'collective self defense' meant to protect the Syrian Kurds. Russia has responded to the US attack by announcing they're going to start treating US warplanes operating in much of Syria as potential targets for their advanced air defense systems. This comes as Iran increases its own involvement in Syria, firing missiles at ISIS targets." (US, Russia, and Iran edging closer to all-out war in Syria, Jason Ditz, antiwar.com, 19/6/17)

So downing a Syrian plane - in Syria of all places - is just Uncle Sam defending himself...

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Wahhabi Campaign to Close the Muslim Mind

The following reflection by Nabil Echchaibi (Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Colorado-Boulder) rings true:

"My aim here is not to disparage a civilization, but to diagnose its current malaise, one that inflicts Muslims today and prevents them from thinking themselves into the world, not because they are incapable of doing it, but because of a coordinated campaign to deny them the right to do it. Like many Muslims, I feel the weight of this tension every day because the distance between our religious leaders and the world in which we live is a gaping hole.

"The biggest orchestrator of this campaign is not Isis. That is only one of its sad manifestations. It is Saudi Arabia and its rampant Wahhabi religiosity which cripples everything Muslim today. Its literalist theology is suffocating and has no place in the modern world.

"How can we tolerate a religious system which still flogs its people in public squares, denies its women basic rights like driving and looking out windows and criminalizes any form of dissent? Weighty words fit for a colossal peril that is Saudi Arabia. I do not mince my words because this tragedy has gone on for too long and it robs Muslims around the world of their ability to think their religion anew.

"In fact, I agree with Algerian author Kamel Daoud who made a subtle distinction between a 'black Isis' and a 'white Isis.' Black Isis, he says, beheads, pillages, kills indiscriminately, and destroys the cultural heritage of humanity, whereas white Isis - Saudi Arabia - is better dressed and cleaner, but does more or less the same thing." (Muslims today face a deep malaise. We must confront it, theguardian.com, 18/6/17)