It is not difficult to understand the power-game being played in Syria and no decent human being should stand on the sideline in a conflict that will shape the future of our humanity. The global intifada (uprising) is spreading and it is rejecting war and hegemony and now even President Obama is reeling under pressure. It is an earthquake that is shaking the very foundation of post-WWII world order (what used to be referred to mistakenly as “the American century” when it was really the Zionist century). The British, French and American public long exposed to Zionist propaganda have joined the revolution. Politicians started to panic especially after the British parliament voted against war. This was the first major and stunning defeat to the US/Israel hegemony of British politics since WWII.
US President Obama was stuck after the British vote and the clear solid position of Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Russia, China and even overwhelming public opposion in the US despite the attempt to whip frenzy by Israel media stooges like Wolf Blitzer of CNN. Obama was also stunned by what his own intelligence services told him about potential repercussions of a military strike on Syria especially without UN mandate and without US public support. These repercussions included presence of strong defensive and offensive capabilities in Syria. There were intelligence leaks about a downed “test” incursion. But repercussions discussed include strengthening rather than weakening Iran (after all, this is what happened after Iraq!). President Obama spent countless hours talking with his Zionist and non-Zionist advisers and key government officials (there are no anti-Zionists in his group). Faced with no good option in trying to maintain Israel/US hegemony, Obama decided not to decide and shift the debate to Congress to buy time. Now it is up to the American people who overwhelmingly reject war on Syria to stand up and pressure the Israeli-occupied US congress to do what is good for US citizens not what they perceive to be good for Zionism.
The Russian president spoke of a number of key points that he called “common sense” while Obama just lied. Russia and the US had agreed to the parameters of a political conference in which all sides were invited. Russia talked the Syrian government into attending this Geneva conference (even though most Syrians opposed a dialogue with Western backed thugs and Western backed mercenaries). Under Israeli pressure, the US administration started to rethink their agreement and their stooges announced they cannot join discussion with their opponents unless their opponents are defeated and surrender! Syrian government forces then gained momentum against the Western and Israeli backed extremist rebels and cornered them in very few pockets. Syria was opening up and international inspectors were coming. Putin rightly points out that under such conditions: who has the benefit of using chemical weapons: the Syrian government or the rebels trying to provide excuses for Western defeat of a government they could not defeat themselves? It is common sense. Syria, Russia and China and all humanity ask logically: if the US has proof that the Syrian government used chemical weapons to attack its own people (including its own soldiers), then give us the proof. They rightly ask why the mandate of UN inspectors was limited to only find out if they were used but not to explore who might have used them. After the lies Israeli and US intelligence concocted to go the war on Iraq, they now seem rather reluctant to manufacture evidence again.
Obama lied about many other things and perhaps the only part of his speech that touched on reality is when he admitted that he is part of a system and that he cannot make a decision by himself. The military-industrial complex is now too entrenched in US politics for any president to challenge it. In fact, no one would be allowed to become president if they were to have even a slight chance of potential to challenge it. So Obama says: I am with the machine that was in place before I came to power and will always be with the machine. By this he showed that his campaign retorhic about “change” was just what American call “bull-shit”. That is why Obama is stuck. When President Obama paid tribute to Martin Luther King Jr just a week ago, he was being hypocritical. King had famously said that the US is the greatest purveyor of violence on earth. The US public can and must push Obama and Congress to change just like they pushed previous politicians to get civil rights, women’s right to vote, ending the war on Vietnam, ending US support for Apartheid South Africa and more.
The fact remains that the most destabilizing country in the Middle East is the one that receives unconditional billions of US taxpayer money. It is the state that caused millions of refugees and that introduced weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons to the Middle East. It is the state that used white phosphorous and depleted uranium on civilian populations. It is the state that started five wars and that lobbied successfully to get the US to go to wars in places like Iraq and Afghanistan that caused millions of lives lost and trillions of US taxpayer money spent. It is the state that fits all the criteria discussed in the International convention against the crimes of apartheid and racial discrimination.
The fact is that this latest Israel-inspired conflict is not about form of government in Syria. The US/Israel backed dictators in a dozen Arab countries are far, far worse than Bashar Assad of Syria. The fact remains that this is a clear attempt by the US through its secretary of state under influence from the Zionist lobby and with the support of puppet rulers in the Arab world to liquidate the Palestinian cause. The parameters of this are clear: liquidating Palestinian rights like the right of refugees to return to their homes and lands, limited Palestinian autonomy that Palestinian puppets can call a state in parts of the occupied West Bank in confederation with Jordan. This will ensure the “Jewishness” of the apartheid state of Israel. Gaza would be relegated to Egyptian administration or continuing to manage it as one Israeli official said “by putting Gazan’s on a diet”. To get this program through, resistance must be made to look futile. Israel set-up a high-level ministerial committee to fight boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. Israel told the US that the Hizballah-Syria-Iran axis must be destroyed. Potentially developing Arab countries will be broken up with sectarian and other conflicts (divide and conquer) beginning with Iraq. They thought Syria is the next weak link that can be removed in the same way that Libya was disposed of. They underestimated the level of rejection to their demonic schemes of divide and conquer.
What happened actually is the opposite. A strengthening block evolved starting in Iran, Iraq and Palestine and spreading globally. The counter-revolutionary efforts are failing and in some cases getting the opposite effect of unifying and strengthening resistance. The attempts by some to ignite sectarian strife in Lebanon failed miserably. The positions of China, Russia, Venezuela and other governments came to reflect the international consensus of resisting US/Israeli hegemony. No human being and no government can claim neutrality. Neutrality is rather meaningless when there is such an evel attempt to dominate the world for the benefit of just a few people at the expense of millions. The vast majority of people in all countries (Palestine, USA, Britain, France, Russia, China etc) stand on one side of this against the Zionist attempts to drag the world into yet one more destructive conflict. Clearly a win here is a win for Palestine and a win for all people of the world.
Before we talk about democracy in Syria, we must respect the fact that the vast majority of people on earth insist that Western governments respect their own citizens’ will instead of trying to smother them or shape them with propaganda or bypass them to serve the Israel lobby. Before we talk about democracy in Syria, we must end apartheid in Israel, and end the repressive regimes supported by the US especially those in the oil producing Arab countries. Perhaps this is the reason gulf states are pouring billions to fund murderers in the so called “Syrian rebels” (most of them turn out to be mercenaries). It is the same reason that Netanyahu and Obama are both very nervous. When the US/Israel program of liquidating the Palestinian cause and destroying Syria fails (and it will), all bets are off. People stand up to tyranny and stand up for human rights and that is why governments (US, Israeli, Saudi Arabia, Turkey etc) are starting to panic. They do have good reason to worry because people power is coming and each of us must be part of it. We ask you to join the global intifada which will liberate oppressors and oppressed alike and create a better world for all.
To hell with all the talk about democracy backed by the United States, France, Britain … and Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel.
To hell with every bid for freedom with the support of these murderers.
To hell with every fool, criminal, and coward, no matter what they look like, what they are called, where they live, or what they do.
To hell with all those who support an international war to topple Syria.
To hell with this bunch of collaborators, who people will no doubt hold accountable one day, come chaos or stability.
To hell with all traitors, their speeches, their false tears, and to hell with their human rights groups and their subservient civil society organizations.
The decision to wage war on Syria is only the last step in the course set two and a half years ago, to destroy Resistance, its cities, people, and even its very idea.
There is no room for any kind of bargaining, and there is no room for any discussion or debate. There is no room to listen to any collaborator touting the list of causes of war and the causers, and there is no room for those who cling to their opinions, positions, or labels, wearing bandanas on their foreheads after wearing blindfolds on their eyes, and joining forces with collaborators and takfiris.
To begin with, these people live on the crumbs thrown to them by the robbers of Arab resources and fortunes. They work for them and receive from them money and all kinds of support.
It is a duty for every capable person to fight these killers, wherever they may be, wherever there is a chance to take revenge against them, and punish all the traitors, one after the other, in their beds, behind their desks, inside their tanks, or in their palaces, whether they are alone, or among their families.
What do you want from us today?
Do you want to repeat the experience of Iraq?
Do you want to repeat the experience of Afghanistan and Somalia?
Do you want to repeat the experience of Libya? Do you want to repeat the experience of war in Lebanon?
Or do you think that this will be a war to destroy the right that will never be eliminated, and whose name, forever shall remain: Palestine?
We do not have to repeat our arguments or repeat the process of searching for answers; we do not have to repeat our comments or our warnings. All we have to do is declare one position, namely, that the war being prepared for Syria is a colonial war, and every participant in it, whether by supporting it, funding it, promoting it, justifying it, or directly fighting in it, is a cowardly collaborator… .
They will gang up on Damascus, the mother of all cities, with the aim of crushing the people, the army, and the leadership. They want to destroy its history and its heritage of resisting invaders. They want to destroy every spirit that resists colonialism and supports resistance in the whole region. They want to extend a permanent lifeline to Israel and the oppressive regimes in our Arab countries, and they want to have collaborators of all kinds take over countries, rob their resources, and annihilate their peoples.
When America says that it needs no cover, legal justification, scientific investigation, or political support, and that it is able to manipulate the fate of a nation, for the sole reason that it has decided that its interests require it, then this means that we must act exactly like America, and wait for no cover, support, justification, or ask about international norms and so forth.
We must fight against it, and against its colonies, all forms of war, and we must spare no effort to seek to transfer the struggle to its soil, in every place of its land and cities; we must scream in the face of the butcher. We would do all this, without giving them the ability to strip us of our humanity, which we shall keep for ourselves, our children, and for the oppressed everywhere.
Yesterday, the West showed its true colors: a spiteful, murderous West, that has no place for anyone except those who know how to kneel down before it, and raise the white flag above their heads.
Yesterday, Europe showed its foul nature. It is not just a foolish old crone, but an ugly one too, with venom spewing from all its folds. Dishonor mars its opinion-makers, factories, schools, universities, and its people who do not come out to disavow the killers among them.
All we can do is resist them, with all our capabilities. Nothing will prevent us from seeking out our sole enemy, which has many faces, but one name: the barbarians, the bloodsuckers. As for us, resistance is our destiny.
Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar.
This article has been edited for posting at Aletho News.
Several Syrian rockets landed in Lebanon’s border region on Thursday, causing material damage, the Lebanese National News Agency reported.
The rockets landed at dawn in the Wadi Khaled region in the Bekaa, damaging a number of houses, an NNA correspondent said. There were no reports of human casualties.
The source of the rockets was unknown. … Full article
Four modified Grad missiles landed on Thursday in the northern area of Occupied Palestine, local and international media outlets reported, as Zionist army spokesman accused the “global jihad” of the attack.
Witnesses reported hearing several blasts near the northern coastal town of Nahariya, while al-Mayadeen TV said that rockets landed between Aka and Nahariya.
“Unknown gunmen fired four rockets from two positions, south and east of Tyre, at Israel,” a military source told Agence France Presse.
“The rockets were fired from primitive wooden launch pads, 700 meters afar from residential areas,” a Lebanese security source told Al-Manar website reporter.
The Lebanese army cordoned the area and urged citizens to keep away, amid intensive flights of the enemy spy drone, the reporter added.
No casualties or damage were immediately reported, however, the Zionist Magen David Adom declared state of alert.
Following the explosions, sirens in northern Palestine went off for about a minute.
The Zionist army said the Iron Dome defense system intercepted one rocket, without specifying its location or giving any details about the other rockets.
Shelters have been opened in West Galilee as Zionist police urged settlers of the north Occupied Palestine to remain close to fortified zones.
Israeli warplanes raided Friday at dawn the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine military site in Naameh, south of Beirut, according to the National News Agency.
For his part, the Front’s chief in Lebanon, Ramez Moustafa, confirmed the news and clarified that the Zionist warplanes fired one rocket onto Naameh valley and that no losses or damages were recorded.
“We will not respond to this assault in the way that serves the Zionist plan to lure us, yet in the proper place and at the proper time,” Moustafa pointed out.
The spokesman of the Israeli army asserted that the assault responds to the rockets that were fired Thursday from the Lebanese territories into Nahariya and Akka, north of occupied Palestine.
Two bombs exploded within minutes of each other outside separate mosques in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli on Friday following the end of prayers, state news and television networks reported.
One of the bombs exploded near the Taqwa mosque. Minutes later a second explosion struck the Salam mosque in the Mina area near the waterfront.
Gunfire was heard following the explosions, according to TV reports. TV images from the two attacks showed plumes of smoke billowing from the sites of the explosions.
Casualties are not yet known.
There has been an ongoing information war being fought for hearts and minds inside and outside of the Middle East. The war has mostly been tied to Syria. As the US and its allies begin to focus their attention on Hezbollah in Lebanon, the media war now includes the events in Lebanon. This, however, has not stopped the media attempts to depict the fighting in Syria in sectarian terms as a regional war between Shias and Sunnis or to demonize Syria’s allies…
In regards to Syria, the Israeli media, the Saudi media, and Lebanon’s Hariri-owned media — which belongs to Hezbollah’s US/Saudi-supported rivals — have all carried the same August 2013 AFP story or some derivative of it that deceitfully reports that Iran and Hezbollah are now running Syria. The Jerusalem Post, Arutz Sheva, the Daily Star, Ya Libnan, Al-Arabiya, the Saudi Gazette, Hürriyet, Naharnet, France 24, Fox News, and the Dubai-based Gulf News are examples of the type of media that carried this so-called news. Here is an extract of the text which sums up the entire image that the article is trying to engrain into the minds of its readers: “Assad ‘no longer runs Syria. The real rulers of Syria are the Iranian (elite) Revolutionary Guard… with the participation of Hezbollah fighters,’ Jarba said.” The entire report is built around a quote by Ahmad Al-Jarba, the leader of the foreign-controlled and funded Syrian National Coalition.
How the Mainstream Media Legitimizes Terrorism Against Lebanese Civilians
Next the same media outlets finessed the news about the terrorist bombs planted in Beirut’s southern suburb of Dahiyeh. The August 15, 2013 terrorist bombings in the neighbourhood of Al-Rouweiss (Al-Rweiss) were downplayed and, in a manner of speaking, legitimized by the media through their selective use of language. The attack on Al-Rouweiss come about a month after the July 9, 2013 terrorist attack on the neighbourhood of Bir Al-Abed. Both are densely populated neighbourhoods in Dahiyeh. The Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) in the United States took quick notice of the biased media framing. IPA asked the following, on August 16, 2013, through the title of report: “Why Isn’t Beirut Bombing Called ‘Terrorist’? What’s Behind It?”
The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akbar is worth looking at to get a grasp of the biased media reporting that has been used to reframe the events as legitimate. It commented thus on August 17, 2013: “The Western media have double standards when it comes to ‘terrorism.’ Within hours after two bombs were detonated at the Boston Marathon last April, many in the media had christened it a ‘terrorist attack.’ Meanwhile, the August 15 bombing in Rouweiss that killed at least two dozen is a ‘blast’ that occurred in a ‘Hezbollah stronghold.’” As Al-Akhbar observes, the phrase “Hezbollah stronghold” plays a prominent role in giving the impression that the civilian neighbourhoods bombed in Beirut were armed barracks. Al-Akhbar even nicely sums up some of the biased titles used to describe the terrorist attacks:
Wall Street Journal: «Car Bomb Blasts Hezbollah Stronghold in Lebanon»
BBC: «Deadly Lebanon Blast in Beirut Stronghold of Hezbollah»
LA Times: «Massive Explosion in Beirut Rocks Hezbollah Stronghold»
Washington Post: «Bomb Explodes in Hezbollah Stronghold in Beirut, Injuring Dozens»
Reuters: «Over 50 Hurt as Car Bomb Hits Hezbollah Beirut Stronghold»
Associated Press: «Car Bomb Rocks Hezbollah Stronghold in Lebanon»
France24: «Car Bomb Rocks Hezbollah Stronghold in Beirut»
Mixed with the other narratives that the same media outlets are painting, the terrorist attacks are being tacitly portrayed as some type of legitimate retaliation. Readers are basically led to think that that the terrorist attacks in Dahiyeh were a military act against some type of Hezbollah base.
How the Mainstream Media Lies and Deliberately Places the Blame on Sunni Muslims
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, responded to the terrorist attack on Al-Rouweiss by categorically saying that the attacks were not the work of Sunni Muslims. He gave a speech saying that there were going to be those groups and individuals that would try to blame the terrorist attacks in Beirut on the Sunnis and said that these groups and individuals should be outright dismissed. In fact, he said that anyone that used this divisive logic was an “Israeli” and a partner in the goal of creating massacres. He made it clear that the individuals who planted the bomb did not represent the Sunni Muslims or the Arabs or the Syrians or the Palestinians. In a message to the US and its allies, he also said clearly stated that Hezbollah was aware that the intelligence services of the US and its allies had infiltrated various terrorist groups and manipulate them as tools.
Despite Nasrallah’s clarity, his words were totally changed by the same media outlets that were legitimizing the terrorist attacks in Beirut. The Israeli media, the state-run British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Al Jazeera, and Al Arabiya would blatantly fabricate the news and claim that Nasrallah “blamed the Sunnis” or try to manipulate readers into getting the impression that he did. The New York Times titled an August 16, 2003 article on the terrorist attacks as the following: “Hezbollah Makes Vow to Step Up Sunni Fight”. It never even mentioned that Nasrallah went out of his way to say that the people involved in the terrorist attacks were the tools of the US and Israeli government and not really Sunni Muslims. Instead Ben Hubbard focused on sectarianism in Lebanon and wrote: “In short, Hezbollah has more enemies than it used to have.”
The BBC wrote a similar article on August 16. It also used a grossly misleading title. The title being “Hezbollah blames Sunnis for bomb”. After a large number of people caught it, the BBC changed the title to “Beirut bomb: Hezbollah’s Nasrallah blames Sunni radicals”.
Exposing the Yellow Journalism at Work as a Tool of War
Aside from their direct or indirect links to these media outlets, even the political actors involved show that the way the news is reported is not isolated. Saad Hariri, the leader of the Future Party and a Saudi client, even responded to Hassan Nasrallah’s speech by saying that he had no right to designate what groups are terrorists. Hariri’s overlords in Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, refused to even condemn the terrorist attacks. This again is tied to the attempts to reframe the terrorist attacks in Beirut as a legitimate military act.
This type of yellow journalism that relies on misleading headlines that essentially say everything while the hollow articles carry and have little or no newsworthy material is not politically neutral. It is a weapon of war. All these articles are agitating for bloodletting in the Middle East, specifically between Shias and Sunnis. This type of journalism either directly or indirectly stokes the fires of sectarianism in Lebanon and the Middle East with the intentions of spreading sectarian animosity. This is why it deliberately ignores and refuses to even acknowledge the main points of Nasrallah’s speech that clearly pointed the finger at Israel and the US and said that the terrorist attacks had nothing to do with Sunni Muslims.
Beirut was thrown into turmoil on Thursday evening as a terrorist attack against residents of Dahiyeh – a southern suburb of the Lebanese capital and a predominantly Shia neighborhood – threatened to draw the country into a region wide crisis.
As conflicting news reports began to leak out in the immediate aftermath of the city’s deadliest car bombing in eight years, there was a disconcerting congruity in headlines beaming out from western capitals – and it had nothing to do with facts.
Wall Street Journal: “Car Bomb Blasts Hezbollah Stronghold in Lebanon”
BBC: “Deadly Lebanon Blast in Beirut Stronghold of Hezbollah”
LA Times: “Massive Explosion in Beirut Rocks Hezbollah Stronghold“
Washington Post: “Bomb Explodes in Hezbollah Stronghold in Beirut, Injuring Dozens”
Reuters: “Over 50 Hurt as Car Bomb Hits Hezbollah Beirut Stronghold“
Associated Press: “Car Bomb Rocks Hezbollah Stronghold in Lebanon”
France24: “Car Bomb Rocks Hezbollah Stronghold in Beirut”
On Twitter Thursday night, “tweeps” questioned the validity of this phrase in describing a civilian neighborhood. Said one observer: “When you write “Hezbollah stronghold” instead of South Beirut it gives the impression military barracks were bombed and no innocents died.
That view seemed to be confirmed by the reaction of an American tweep who wrote: “GREAT NEWS!!!!!” in response to the BBC headline “Deadly Lebanon blast in Beirut stronghold of Hezbollah.”
Worse yet was this reprehensible tweet by Al Monitor’s Washington correspondent and senior fellow at the Atalantic Council Barbara Slavin, who declared on Twitter: “As I recall, Hezbollah invented the car bomb; what goes around, comes around.” Except, of course, the targets of Thursday’s terror attack – where 27 died and nearly 300 injured – were civilians, not Hezbollah.
An army of tweeps quickly reminded Slavin that Hezbollah neither invented the car bomb nor targets civilians, and drew attention to the ironic fact that Israeli militant groups used them liberally in attacking British officials in Palestine last century – well before Hezbollah’s 1985 formation to combat Israel’s occupation of Lebanon.
And herein lies the problem. By calling a residential neighborhood a “Hezbollah stronghold,” western media softens public opinion to accept these terror attacks as justifiable, and their targets, legitimate. Because the only reason for characterizing civilian Shia neighborhoods as “strongholds” of Hezbollah is to justify carnage against those populations most likely to support the Lebanese resistance group.
Similar language – War on Terror, terrorism, militants, extremists, Al Qaeda – is also frequently employed to excuse western carnage in countries from Iraq to Afghanistan to Mali to Yemen to Pakistan. Droning and bombing targets are rarely characterized as “civilian,” even though data suggests that most victims of US attacks are not militants. The goal? To eradicate second thoughts about violence against innocent civilians – often bolstered by a complicit media that characterizes these deaths as “collateral damage.”
While the term “stronghold” can simply refer to an area in which an organization, party or point of view holds sway, in the context of US foes in the Mideast, it is instead usually used to suggest a militant base absolutely controlled by that foe. As one tweep noted, western media uses similar language against other American targets to scene-set for “excusable” carnage: “Hezbollah stronghold” for car bombs in Lebanon, “Assad stronghold” for car bombs in Damascus; “Assad heartland” for massacres in Latakia.”
Dahiyeh – the scene of Thursday’s explosion – is also, for instance, home to significant Maronite Christian and Sunni communities. And even within the suburb’s Shia community, there are disparate political views and affiliations. It is by no means true that all Shia residents are supporters of Hezbollah, a Lebanese political party that – in lieu of national political consensus – provides local social services and security for residents of all sects and backgrounds in these areas.
A December Christian Science Monitor article entitled “In Hezbollah Stronghold, Lebanese Christians Find Respect, Stability,” (a piece which repeats the “stronghold” theme and other Hezbollah stereotypes ad nauseum) does however manage to highlight the positive experiences of Maronites living in Dahiyeh neighborhood, Haret Hreik:
The face of the revered Shiite militant leader appears on posters, a calendar, and in several photographs nestled amid those of Christian homeowner Randa Gholam’s family members. Mr. Nasrallah is, Ms. Gholam asserts amid a string of superlatives, “a gift from God.”
Lebanon’s sectarian divides are legendary, and the residents of the historically Christian neighborhood of Harat Hreik, now a Hezbollah stronghold, remember well the civil war that set Beirut on fire. They were literally caught in the middle of some of the most vicious fighting, with factions firing shots off at one another from either side of their apartment buildings.
But in the intervening years, as Hezbollah cemented its control over the suburb of Dahiyeh, which includes Harat Hreik, the militant group has been an unexpected source of stability and even protection for the few remaining Christian families. Just a few blocks away from Nasrallah’s compound is St. Joseph’s Church, a vibrant church that Maronite Christians from across Beirut flock to every Sunday.
“I feel honored to be here. They are honest. They are not extremists. It’s not like everyone describes,” Gholam says. “I can speak on behalf of all my Christian friends. They would say the same thing.”
Why western media uses the term “Hezbollah stronghold”
Dahiyeh is not the only Lebanese area referred to as a “Hezbollah stronghold” by western media. Most Shia towns, cities and neighborhoods in this country are labelled with that moniker – facts be damned. Bekaa, Nabatiyeh, Bint Jbeil, Khiyyam and other predominantly Shia areas are frequently cited as such. Not coincidentally, all these civilian areas have been subjected to Israeli strikes over the years.
While hunting for Scuds in Lebanon two years ago – a search prompted by Israel’s fabricated claim that Hezbollah was hoarding the difficult-to-conceal ballistic missiles – I came across some IDF “3D animated clips” that allegedly “illustrate how Hezbollah has turned over 100 villages in South Lebanon into military bases.”
Introducing an array of IDF computer-generated slides that purport to identify existing Hezbollah weapons stores by marking large Xs in Shia-heavy civilian centers, the Israeli military then alleges:
“Hezbollah stores their weapons near schools, hospitals, and residential buildings in the village of al-Khiam (Khiyyam). They follow similar tactics in villages across southern Lebanon, essentially using the residents as human shields, in gross violation of UN Resolution 1701. al-Khiam was used as a rocket launching site during the Second Lebanon war.”
When I asked him about it, The Independent’s veteran Beirut-based journalist Robert Fisk scoffed at the IDF slide show: “The Israelis are making excuses for the next war crimes. The Scuds don’t exist, they’re not here. I’ve seen the (IDF) pictures – garbage. There’s nothing in those houses.”
Human Rights Watch’s extensive report on Israel’s 2006 attack on Lebanon, entitled Fatal Strikes: Israel’s Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians in Lebanon, covers at length the Jewish state’s unproven allegations that Hezbollah stashes weapons among civilian populations – charges that Israel continues to repeat despite evidence to the contrary.
The group’s Executive Director Kenneth Roth concludes: “The pattern of attacks shows the Israeli military’s disturbing disregard for the lives of Lebanese civilians. Our research shows that Israel’s claim that Hezbollah fighters are hiding among civilians does not explain, let alone justify, Israel’s indiscriminate warfare… In the many cases of civilian deaths examined by Human Rights Watch, the location of Hezbollah troops and arms had nothing to do with the deaths because there was no Hezbollah around.”
Instead the Report clearly states:
“Human Rights Watch did not find evidence that the deployment of Hezbollah forces in Lebanon routinely or widely violated the laws of war, as repeatedly alleged by Israel. We did not find, for example, that Hezbollah routinely located its rockets inside or near civilian homes. Rather, we found strong evidence that Hezbollah had stored most of its rockets in bunkers and weapon storage facilities located in uninhabited fields and valleys. Similarly, while we found that Hezbollah fighters launched rockets from villages on some occasions, and may have committed shielding, a war crime, when it purposefully and repeatedly fired rockets from the vicinity of UN observer posts with the possible intent of deterring Israeli counterfire, we did not find evidence that Hezbollah otherwise fired its rockets from populated areas. The available evidence indicates that in the vast majority of cases Hezbollah fighters left populated civilian areas as soon as the fighting started and fired the majority of their rockets from pre-prepared positions in largely unpopulated valleys and fields outside villages.”
Fisk is correct. The Israelis are making excuses for the next war crimes. in 2006, the IDF used the “Hezbollah stronghold” and “human shielding” arguments for carpet bombing Dahiyeh, the very same residential neighborhood targeted by terrorists on Thursday.
And Western journalists act either as dupes or complicitly when they repeat these same Israeli-generated mantras – laying the groundwork for further military and terror strikes against Lebanese civilians.
It is not just Western media that regurgitates this irresponsible language. “Hezbollah stronghold” has been so mainstreamed that virtually all English-language media utilizes the expression, from Iranian-backed Press TV to Moscow’s Russia Today. But online searches identify Western media – by far – as the main driver of this narrative.
Not all Western journalists are complicit though. On Twitter last Thursday, a rare moment of rationality came from a Voice of America source, of all places. VOA reporter Cecily Hilleary bothered to ask the all-important question: “Does term ‘Hezbollah stronghold’ aptly describe this Beirut neighborhood that was just hit by car bomb?” The first two responses were “no” and “it’s a civilian area.”
And as freelance British journalist Patrick Galey, a past Beirut resident, noted sarcastically after the Bir al Abed car bombing in July unleashed another Twitter-frenzy of “Hezbollah stronghold” tweets: “For ‘Hezbollah stronghold’ you can also say “highly-populated civilian area.” Just a thought.”
Watching an elderly woman sitting alone on the steps outside Bahman hospital on Thursday, her head in her hands, sobbing, as she awaited news of a relative injured in the car bomb earlier that day – it seemed ludicrous that the media still uses “Hezbollah stronghold” as a term to describe Israel’s past and future civilian-targeted neighborhoods.
And yet, on Sunday, as four rockets were fired into the northern Bekaa – one landing in a school playground – the “Hezbollah” association was invoked again. There are many dangerous words and phrases used to frame people and events in the Middle East, but here, now, we can collectively make a start to change that.
Sharmine Narwani is a commentary writer and political analyst covering the Middle East. You can follow Sharmine on twitter @snarwani.
Without America’s support, Israel in all likelihood would not by now exist and, without the neoconservatives, there would in all likelihood be no American support for Israel.
The interests of Israel have always been neoconservatism’s primary concern and it has been American neoconservatives that have lobbied the hardest to ensure American support for Israel. They have done this by integrating themselves into all levels of American society where they can be of influence including in government, public service, academia, political and social commentary, journalism, and think-tank organisations. Most but not all neoconservatives are, not unsurprisingly, Jewish and most of those that are Jewish hold dual citizenship with Israel despite many of them having no connection to Israel other than actually being Jewish. (All Jews throughout the Diaspora have ‘right of return’ to Israel even if they or generations of their ancestors have no connection to Israel – unlike Palestinians, who were forced from their lands in order to make way for Jews migrating to Israel after WW2, who have no right of return.)
Some neoconservatives, however, are not Jewish but have other motives, either religious or political, for supporting Israel. Others, who may or not be neoconservatives themselves, have close links with neoconservatives and have a financial interest in maintaining a heightened state of security awareness in Israel due to the amount of money the US provides for weapons and fuel, etc.
While neoconservative ideology predominately revolves around the interests of Israel, there are other interwoven ideas that neoconservatives have developed that have been designed to secure support from conservative Americans. One of the ideas taken up by neocons has been the notion of ‘America Exceptionalism’ which, in it’s neoconservative incarnation, promotes American nationalism and the American system of democracy and capitalism and holds these values up as being values that all the world, particularly the Middle East, should aspire to.
While neoconservatism for many remains a somewhat vague ideological concept, there are certain characteristics that are common to all neoconservatives and at the top of the list of those characteristics are: an unswerving loyalty to expansionist Zionism and the concept of a Greater Israel in which Arabs have no place. For some neoconservatives this is quite explicit but for most neoconservatives, particularly in the commentariat, the notion of a Greater Israel is presented only vaguely and usually only by inference. Neoconservatives prominent in government will, as a matter of policy, deny that Israel has any expansionist dreams. One, however, only needs to look at the quickly diminishing map of areas of the West Bank that are available to Palestinians and the growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the already annexed Golan Heights to see the reality of Zionist dreams.
Israel’s modus operandi for realising its expansionist dreams is simple: Provoke Palestinians and Arabs in a myriad of small ways that don’t make headlines and then, when the Palestinians or Arabs retaliate, ensure that the retaliation makes the headlines around the world and pretend to be the victim thus justifying a militarily response which may include occupation and then retreat when things quieten down again giving the impression that occupation is only for ‘security purposes’, not territorial gain. This strategy of three steps forward and two steps back is played out over a long time until eventually there is a big enough war to justify permanent occupation, as in the West Bank, and eventual annexation, as in the Golan Heights.
After their success in the Golan Heights but failures in south Lebanon in the 1980s and again in 2006, the Zionists changed tack. They realise now that only a massive threat to their security can justify occupation. For the Israelis, the bigger the threat the better from now on – and there can be no bigger threat than an enemy nation threatening to ‘wipe you off the map with their nuclear weapons’. And Israel has no better ally than the neocons to perpetuate the myth of Iran ‘wiping Israel off the map with nuclear weapons’ thus providing the ultimate threat by which Israel, forever the victim, can react.
By attacking Iran, Israel hopes that the resulting turmoil created in a quickly escalating war that will drag in the US will provide enough cover for Israel to deal with all of its enemies including Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Hezbollah in Lebanon and any resistance in the West Bank. Israel will use such circumstances to massively occupy all of these places on a more permanent basis using the war to deport Palestinians out of the Gaza into the Sinai peninsula and possibly out of the West Bank into Jordan. Meanwhile, the Israelis will leave it to the Americans to effect ‘regime change’ in Iran and Syria. Egypt will be both threatened if it tries to intervene and rewarded financially by the US if it co-operates. Judging by the latest events in the Sinai peninsula, it seems the current Egyptian government that overthrew the elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has opted to co-operate with Israel.
It is the neoconservatives who are driving the wars in the Middle East – and, while Americans are expected to pay for it, it is all only in Israel’s interests. And, in the end, it will be the people of the Middle East that suffer – Jews and Arabs alike – regardless of who wins or loses.
Turkey closes cultural centers in Beirut after kidnapping of pilots, denies responsibility for abducted Lebanese
Turkey has closed its cultural centers and commercial office in Beirut after the kidnap of two Turkish Airlines pilots, Ankara’s ambassador to Lebanon told AFP on Monday.
The two pilots were kidnapped on Friday by a group demanding the release of nine Lebanese pilgrims kidnapped in Syria in May 2012, but reportedly moved to Turkey, a major backer of the kidnapers.
“As a safety measure, the Turkish cultural centre and commercial office in Beirut have suspended their activities,” ambassador Inan Ozyildiz said.
Responsibility for Abduction of Lebanese Pilgrims Denied
Turkish Ambassador to Lebanon Inan Ozyildiz wondered how his country could be responsible for the abduction of the Lebanese pilgrims in Syria, saying that Turkey does not even have an embassy or consulate in the neighboring country, As-Safir newspaper reported on Tuesday.
He told the daily: “Our negotiations to release all the pilgrims failed because of the complexity of the case.” “What will Turkey gain in delaying their release? What is it seeking to achieve if its interests are being harmed?” he asked. “How could Turkey have kidnapped the pilgrims? Does it have control over Syrian territories?” he wondered.
“It cannot be responsible for the abductions that have been taking place and it only intervened in the case from a humanitarian approach and in return it was met with a second abduction of Turkish nationals in Lebanon in less than a year,” said Ozyildiz.
Commenting on the kidnapping of two Turkish pilots in Lebanon on Friday, the ambassador said: “The case is in the hands of Lebanon’s security and political authorities.” He added that he is in contact with all security officials, including General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim, to follow up on the case.
Ozyildiz said however that Turkey’s decision to advise its citizens against traveling to Lebanon is only a preliminary measure and further ones will be taken if any new development takes place in the case of the two pilots.
A Turkish pilot and co-pilot were kidnapped on Friday. Six gunmen intercepted a van carrying the Turkish Airlines employees from Rafik Hariri International Airport to a hotel in the Ain Mreisseh seafront at dawn Friday, kidnapping the two pilots – Murat Akpinar and Murat Agca – but leaving the four other crew members behind.
Mohammad Saleh, a relative of the pilgrims held in Aazaz, was arrested on Sunday in connection to the kidnapping.
Saleh is a Witness not Participant
A widely-informed security source told As Safir: “He revealed the names of the individuals linked to the abduction.” He also said that the pilots were kidnapped in a hope to exchange them with the nine pilgrims.
Saleh’s relatives denied to As Safir however that their son was linked to the case, saying that he only received messages of congratulations on his telephone when news of the abduction broke out.
Meanwhile, caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel told As Safir that Saleh is considered as a witness in the kidnapping and not a participant. His release from custody is in the hands of the General Prosecution, he added.
FM: Turkey Can Help Free Pilgrims
Caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said that Turkey was able to play a major role in helping free nine Lebanese hostages held by Syrian rebels since last year.
“Lebanese people ask: Is it possible that after over a year, Turkey, with all its influence, cannot make fruitful efforts? … We deal with Turkey as a friendly state, we urge it to make efforts [to resolve the case], and we believe it can reach a positive outcome,” Mansour told The Daily Star in an interview at the Foreign Ministry in Beirut.
“I once told a Turkish security official in a meeting that no one believes Turkey can do nothing when it controls the situation in northern [Syria] and supports the opposition,” he said.
“He answered [by] saying: ‘The kidnappers are not under the control of the Syrian opposition.’ But this is an unconvincing answer,” Mansour added.
The United Nations has strongly protested to Israel for violating the sovereignty of Lebanon after an investigation showed that Israeli soldiers had crossed the Lebanese border in a recent incident.
Paolo Serra, the commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), told UN spokesperson office on Friday that “it is clear that the presence of Israeli soldiers in Lebanon in violation of the Blue Line constitutes a serious breach of the terms of UN Security Council resolution 1701.”
UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brokered a ceasefire in the war of aggression Israel launched on Lebanon in 2006, calls on Tel Aviv to respect Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The UN mission launched an investigation on Wednesday after the Lebanese army said that an Israeli patrol had crossed the UN-demarcated Blue Line border before a blast occurred. Israeli’s army has confirmed that four of its soldiers were wounded in the incident.
The UNIFIL says it is working with the Lebanese army to determine on which side of the border the explosion happened.
Serra said the UN mission has called on the Israeli regime to fully cooperate with the investigations.
The Lebanese government has decided to file a complaint with the Security Council over the Israeli regime’s repeated violations of its border and abduction of a Lebanese citizen.
On Friday, Lebanon’s caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour tasked the country’s Ambassador to the UN Nawaf Salam with lodging the complaint.
Mansour also said the incident “reveals again the Israeli enemy’s hidden intensions through its infiltration of Lebanese territory.”
The Israeli military frequently violates Lebanon’s airspace, territorial waters and border.
- UNIFIL says Israel clearly breached 1701 (dailystar.com.lb)
- Four Israeli soldiers wounded by landmine after crossing into Lebanon (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Four Israeli soldiers were injured on Wednesday by a landmine after having crossed into Lebanese territory, the Lebanese National News Agency reported.
“As a new violation of the Lebanese sovereignty, a pedestrian patrol belonging to the Israeli enemy breached the Blue Line at the Labboneh border area, for a distance of 400 meters inside the Lebanese territory, and during the infiltration, an explosion occurred and injured a number of the patrol elements,” a Lebanese army command statement read.
“Afterwards, the [Lebanese] army units deployed in the region mobilized and took the necessary field measures, while a special military commission of the Lebanese army took charge of the investigation into the circumstances of the incident and the type of the explosion, in coordination with the UNIFIL,” it added.
An Israeli military spokesman told AFP that the Israeli troops were “carrying out nocturnal activities in the Lebanese border area when the explosion occurred,” adding that the wounded had been hospitalized.
South Lebanon is riddled with tens of thousands of landmines and cluster bombs, many of which were placed there by Israeli forces at the end of Israel’s occupation of the region in 2000 and during the July 2006 war.
Israel’s army regularly violates Lebanese sovereignty, crossing over the blue line demarcating the disputed border between Lebanon and Palestine, as well as sending war planes over Lebanese territory.
On Tuesday, Lebanon’s army registered two violations of the Lebanese airspace, as four Israeli planes flew over the northern city of Tripoli, the NNA reported.
For 25 years now, Hezbollah has been engaged in a war with many powerful intelligence outfits from around the world. These intelligence agencies have devoted tremendous resources to collect information on the party, in addition to pursuing both its civilian and military activities, not to mention carrying out assassinations against its cadre and leadership.
Israel has played a key role in these efforts, but it is hardly alone. After the assassination of Rafik Hariri in 2005, Hezbollah was subjected to the most ferocious campaign against it, with former US ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman admitting before Congress that Washington spent $500 million to undermine the party’s image.
After the outbreak of the Syrian uprising and Hezbollah’s open declaration of its involvement in the country’s fighting, the campaign intensified, with mounting threats to the party and its supporters that they may be subjected to revenge attacks.
First, the Resistance’s Dahiyeh stronghold was shelled with rockets. Similar attacks followed on many towns and villages in Baalbeck and Hermel. These were followed by roadside bombs targeting Hezbollah members on the main Lebanese highway to Syria, culminating in the massive Bir al-Abed blast in the heart of Dahiyeh.
Hezbollah is in a state of high alert due to the fact that it has been forced to fight simultaneously on two fronts. This has prompted Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah to tell the party’s cadre that they must be prepared for attacks that may involve both Syrian and Lebanese groups, without dropping their guard against their main enemy – Israel.
On the eve of Hezbollah’s engagement in the battle of Qusayr, it initiated a plan that involved:
– a series of practical steps to prevent the killing of Lebanese civilians held by the Syrian opposition in the north of the country;
– securing areas that may become targets of reprisals, including the border areas, Beirut, and South Lebanon.
The question today is: Who thought up an adventure of this kind against the Resistance? I wonder whether they thought about the party’s reaction.
Who are these people? Are they groups within the Free Syrian Army or the Salafi al-Nusra Front? Are they jihadi elements in Lebanon active in the North and Bekaa? Could they be Palestinians who have abandoned their cause to work as agents serving another agenda?
Who is helping them inside Lebanon? What are the Internal Security Forces (who take orders from the Future Party) doing about it? They seem to care little about people’s safety and are mainly concerned with collecting information on the Resistance.
In any case, Hezbollah has surprised friend and foe on more than one occasion in their intelligence capabilities. So, will the Resistance surprise us again by revealing who is behind these attacks?
On July 17, a new Israeli news channel, dubbed i24 News and inspired by France24, began broadcasting from the city of Jaffa in occupied Palestine, where it is based. The channel was launched with the aim of showing the “true image” of Israel, especially in Europe, where public perceptions of the Jewish state have become drastically unfavorable.
Before anyone, in Lebanon or beyond, claims that Israel has launched a neutral news channel, we want to underscore the fact that the purpose of the channel is the opposite of “showing the true face of Israel,” as i24’s management has claimed.
i24 News began nearly two years ago, when the company established Guysen TV, a French-language Israeli channel. i24 hired Frank Melloul, a French-Israeli of Moroccan origin, as the channel’s CEO. Melloul previously served at the French foreign ministry, and later as a media adviser, then as director of strategy at Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France (AEF), before being appointed as head of international development at France24.
The French character of the new Israeli channel, which also broadcasts in English and Arabic (for a few hours only for the time being), does not stop here. Patrick Drahi, i24 News’ biggest shareholder, is a French-Israeli businessman. Drahi is also the controlling shareholder of the Israeli HOT Cable TV Company and HOT mobile, a major mobile network operator in the Jewish state.
For several years now, Israel’s racist and criminal side has been exposed to the European public, despite the European governments’ intricate ties with Israel.
i24 ostensibly belongs to the private sector, with its chief executives denying any financial ties with the state of Israel. Israeli media coverage of i24 has quoted sources at the channel as saying the channel will help Israel show the world that it is “vibrant” and “modern.”
After a year and half of preparations, the channel continues to encounter problems finding correspondents in the Arab countries – despite having “Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Druze journalists” in its crew of 170 Israeli reporters, according to the CEO Melloul. In October 2012, direct negotiations with foreign correspondents in Lebanon failed, prompting the channel to hire GRNlive, a London-based group, to secure reporters in the region, without disclosing the channel’s name or identity.
GRNlive produces and supplies reports, redistributing them to other TV channels, and also provides “correspondent on air within minutes,” according to the company’s official website. Still, foreign correspondents in Lebanon could not be fooled. One such correspondent we spoke to said, “A woman in London who is originally from Iraq negotiated with me to make a live report from Beirut. I asked her who the report was for, and she had no choice but to disclose the real identity of the end buyer.”
The journalist had been contacted by GRNlive a few days ago when the European Union designated Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization. He went on to say, “Naturally, I was upset because she would not tell me who the client was, but I refused and told her that I was based in Lebanon, and was not interested in anything that could jeopardize my career here.”
We also heard similar stories from two other foreign correspondents, including one who is French. It seems that the Israeli TV channel is desperate to get reports from here, albeit its attempts have all failed so far.
Meanwhile, one quick look at the channel’s website reveals its true intent to mislead public opinion. For instance, in an article about Mohammed al-Dura, the Palestinian child who was killed by the Israeli army while in the arms of his civilian father, in front of a French TV camera, the author – unsurprisingly – ends up dismissing the incident, and misleading the uninformed readers and viewers.
When it comes to coverage of Lebanon, all we could find is a French editorial about singer-turned-radical Islamist Fadl Shaker. As to why the channel’s website chose Shaker, I found the answer in the third paragraph, which described Shaker as a staunch supporter of Palestinian rights, before turning to jihad under the wing of Salafi cleric Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir, killing 17 soldiers in the Lebanese army.
In other words, the banal article sought to link one’s support of Palestine with one’s metamorphosis into a jihadi terrorist who kills soldiers. Despite this banality and the usual vitriol that [we] have become so much accustomed to in Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria, we must remain vigilant about what i24 broadcasts, and we must counter it. Unfortunately, al-Manar TV’s French-language website is probably not sufficient for this task.
Under the headline “Bir Al-Abed Explosion: A 130 Kg Voice Message to Hezbollah!” Al-Akhbar newspaper published an article in which it highlighted Saudi Arabia, in cooperation with the CIA’s central role in the Southern Suburb of Beirut blast which left only material damage behind.
Nasser Sharara pointed out that “after three weeks on Bir Al-Abed blast, there are still no leaks on the discovered threads, despite the fact that many of these threads could lead to knowing the sides behind it.”
However, he reminded of Lebanese Parliament Speaker, Nabih Berri’s remarks that this blast was “the beginning of a security escalation,” which according to what he said were “well-informed sources”, aimed at confusing Hezbollah by putting pressure on its working society in the Gulf and Lebanon, to punish it for participating in the Syrian events.
In this context, the Lebanese daily said new information that it has obtained revealed that the explosives used in the attack weighted at least 130 kg, and they were put in a vertical, not horizontal position, because the aim was only to send a “voice message”.
“The aim… was to send a voice message, as the planning side intended to put the explosive in a far spot inside a parking, and pointed the blowing downwards, yet it magnified the explosives to make a huge explosion echo,” Al-Akhbar reported, adding that “another basic conclusion is that the side which carried out the operation was a professional body, and not just some group or organization…”
In addition to Speaker Berri’s estimation and fear from the security situation in the coming period, Al-Akhbar quoted “well-informed” sources as saying that “there is an international and Arab decision, specifically in Saudi Arabia, to occupy or confuse Hezbollah… and Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar Bin Sultan has a major role in that…”
The Lebanese daily pointed to Bandar’s significant role, as he is “America’s strong man, who is assigned internally, to guard the throne transition process from one generation to another, and externally, to lead Saudi Arabia’s security agenda, which is strongly tied to the CIA.”
The paper further revealed that Bandar had visited the United States around 15 days ago and met with important officials and with President Barack Obama.
“Leaked information from the meeting revealed that the latter (Obama) agreed on Saudi’s proposal which states that Riyadh becomes the only Arab side assigned with the Lebanese and Syrian fields, under the condition that Bandar would manage these two files,” it added.