Amid all the hype and hysteria over the so-called “radical” and “violent” roots of Islam and its prophet Mohammed, Steven Spielberg is set to direct,“Gods and Kings,” a biopic based on the Old Testament’s most beloved homicidal maniac.
According to the National Ledger, “The movie will see Moses presented as ‘the warrior of all warriors’ and will follow him from birth to death.”
The article goes on to say, “[It's] a movie like a Braveheart-ish version of the Moses story – him coming down the river, being adopted, leaving his home, forming an army and getting the Ten Commandments.”
It will be interesting to see how Spielberg spins this one. If he stays true to the first five books of the Old Testament (otherwise known as the Torah), we should expect to see the “chosen ones” doing what they did best: stealing land, razing cities, taking women and children as slaves, looting, raping, pillaging—and lest I forget—the wholesale slaughter of innocent men, women, children, cattle, sheep, donkeys, and anything else that had a pulse.
Gee, I wonder if any of these lines will make their way into the script:
Exodus 15:14 The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestine.
Deuteronomy 2:25 This very day I will begin to put the terror and fear of you on all the nations under heaven. They will hear reports of you and will tremble and be in anguish because of you.”
Deuteronomy 2:34 At that time we took all his cities and completely destroyed them—men, women and children. We left no survivors.
Deuteronomy 2:35 But the livestock and the plunder from the towns we had captured we carried off for ourselves.
Numbers 21:35 So they killed him and his sons and all his people, until there was none left to him alive, and they possessed his land.
Deuteronomy 3:6 We completely destroyed them, as we had done with Sihon king of Heshbon, destroying every city—men, women and children.
Deuteronomy 20:16 In the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes.
Numbers 31:17 Kill all the boys [,] and kill every woman
If you think I’m taking this all out of context, then I suggest you read your Old Testament, or follow this link to the first in an excellent series of essays on the subject:
I’m sure Spielberg will work his movie magic in convincing us all that these Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites all had it coming, and that Moses was simply taking orders from the man upstairs.
Oh, and let’s not forget the casting. Expect to see the Arabs portrayed as dirty, dark-skinned, wide-nosed psychotics with bloodshot eyes. Of course the Israelites will have Caucasian features and swimmers physiques with a light coat of perspiration that glistens off the stage lighting as their slow-motion swords slice the heads off their enemies.
HMMMM…I see a vision:
Brad Pitt: “Behold his mighty hand!”
The short answer: Absolutely not!
Part of the long answer comes from Muhammad Sahimi, who recently told Antiwar Radio host Scott Horton that the inflammatory article published by World Net Daily (WND), entitled Ayatollah: Kill all Jews, Annihilate Israel is “totally bogus.”
Muhammad Sahimi is a Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Southern California (USC). He also frequently writes on Iranian politics for Payvand, the Huffington Post, Antiwar.com and several mainstream news outlets. He has a regular column for the Tehran Bureau of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and is fluent in Farsi.
According to Sahimi, the WND piece by Reza Kahlili is based entirely on an article by Alireza Forghani, who is described by Kahlili as “an analyst and a strategy specialist in [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei’s camp.”
However, Kahlili provides no proof of this and expects the reader to take his word for it. In response, Sahimi says that Alireza Forghani is nothing more than an “Iranian blogger” who has “no ties to the Iranian government…no official post anywhere…doesn’t even have a job.”
Forghani’s article first appeared on the website Alef, which Sahimi says is indirectly linked to an Iranian Member of Parliament but has no connection whatsoever to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. According to WND’s Kahlili, the fact that Forghani’s article “now is being run on most state-owned sites, including the Revolutionary Guards’ Fars News Agency,” shows that the regime endorses Forghani’s doctrine.
And what is Forghani’s “doctrine,” pray tell? According to Sahimi, Forghani does talk about a pre-emptive strike on Israel, but only because Israel is threatening to attack Iran. Sahimi compares this to the “Bush Doctrine”—“…take the fight to the enemy overseas before they can attack us again here at home.”
Sahimi goes on to say that Forghani talks about different population densities in various parts of Israel and postulates that if Iran were to attack Israel, these are some of the places Iran’s Shahab-3 missles can reach. “Then [Forghani] talks about—if Iran is to attack Israel—places like railroads, airports, nuclear facilities and so on can also be attacked by Iranian missles,” says Sahimi. “That is what he is saying.”
When Horton asks Sahimi, “Does he say kill all the Jews in Israel?”
“No,” he replies. “I don’t see anything that says that.”
As for Kahlili’s assertion that Forghani’s article contains quotes from Ali Khamenei that calls for the killing of all Jews, and the annihilation of Israel, Sahimi says, “There are no quotes from Khamenei—the current Supreme Leader—but there are two quotes from Khomeini, the leader of the [Iranian] Revolution.”
The first quote, according to Sahimi, basically states that most problems that Muslims are suffering in the Middle East are because of Zionism and U.S. support for Israel. “This is well known,” adds Sahimi. “Khomeini has said this many times. Then there is a second quote: ‘If the enemy attacks the lands of the Muslims or their borders, it is the duty of all Muslims to defend them by any means possible, including the sacrifice of one’s life and expenditure of one’s wealth.’”
One important thing to note: In the WND piece, Kahlili claims to be quoting from Forghani’s article, and writes in the third paragraph:
It is a “‘jurisprudential justification” to kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel, and in that, the Islamic government of Iran must take the helm.”
Notice that Kahlili does not put full quotations around part of this sentence: no opening quotation>> to kill all Jews and annihilate Israel, and in that, the Islamic government of Iran must take the helm.”<<only a closing quotation
That’s because Forghani never wrote that, according to Sahimi. He goes on to say, “The Alef website itself says that this is the personal view of the author. The website does not support it, and it is not the policy of the Iranian government. This is one man’s opinion, and we should condemn it.”
Sahimi then points out the hypocrisy of those who are demonizing Iran over Forghani’s piece. “We have this kind of propaganda everyday among Israelis. Remember, for example in the 1980’s, Rafael Eitan, who was Chief of Staff for Israeli Defense Forces said, [“When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.”] We have had all sorts of racist statements by citizens of Israel against Palestinians, against Muslims, against Iranians. But they don’t represent (at least officially) the view of the Israeli government. It’s the same case here. Some guy…somewhere…wrote a blog and said something…and all of a sudden this has become the official view of the Supreme Leader and the Iranian government? That’s just nonsense.”
As for the author of the WND piece, Sahimi describes Reza Kahlili as an “Iranian charlatan” who has no credibility. In fact, no one knows his true identity. He goes by a pseudonym and wears masks to conceal his identity when he gives talks. Kahlili claims to have been a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in the 1980’s, and that he worked as a double agent for the CIA, but decided to leave Iran in 1989. Sahimi points out that that was 23 years ago, and that the Revolutionary Guard of that era (during the Iran/Iraq War) was entirely different than what it is today. “So he has no insight or knowledge of what is going on in the Revolutionary Guard” says Sahimi. “More importantly, since he has arrived in the U.S., he has allied with the most extreme, warmongering factions. These guys look for anybody who may sound intelligent, and may be from Iran, in order to give credibility for the advocacy of war against Iran. Reza Kahlili is one of those.”
According to Sahimi, “In the Iranian community in the U.S., we have people who support sanctions against Iran. But even within that segment, [Kahlili] has no credibility. For instance, there are many Iranian satellite television stations here in L.A. that are constantly engaged in propaganda against the Iranian government. These stations have never interviewed this guy. It is totally amazing and frightening that the public is being this easily fooled by this propaganda.”
In other words, Kahlili is the type of guy that only fools the gullible Americans who have never met an Iranian, and get their daily dose of lies fed to them from the likes of Glenn Beck, Michael Savage and other nut jobs who have interviewed this creep.
In October 2011, Kahlili wrote a piece for The Washington Times, entitled KAHLILI: Iran already has nuclear weapons, where he asserts that “Not only does the Islamic Republic already have nuclear weapons from the old Soviet Union, but it has enough enriched uranium for more. What’s worse, it has a delivery system.”
WND is the bottom of the barrel, and they have now taken center stage as America’s foremost purveyor of yellow journalism.
The South African government is looking at plans to step up its support for Palestine. The Minister of Arts and Culture, Paul Mashatile, made the announcement during a press conference in Pretoria last week to announce that a Palestinian delegation, including Mr. Mashatile’s counterpart, Siham Barghouthi, had met with representatives of the government and signed a cultural agreement between South Africa and Palestine. Plans for future cooperation include literature exchanges, exhibitions, language development programmes and heritage preservation initiatives.
In addition to increased cooperation with Palestinians, the South African government is also considering increased sanctions against Israel. “We want to step up our support of the Palestinians and are investigating a number of peaceful ways to upgrade this support,” Mashatile told The New Age Newspaper last week. “We have no problem about supporting the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.”
This will come as no surprise to those who are familiar with South Africa’s ruling African National Congress’s long-held position over Palestine. The ANC has been a supporter of the Palestinians’ struggle for freedom and independence for many years, not least, according to Mr. Mashatile, “because we count the people of Palestine among those patriots who stood by us in our struggle for national liberation”. Furthermore, legendary ANC leader Nelson Mandela said in 1997, “Having achieved our freedom we can fall into the trap of washing our hands of difficulties that others face. Yet we would be less human if we did so.”
The BDS movement succeeded in ridding South Africa of the minority Apartheid government; many prominent South Africans have therefore supported the BDS call against Israel, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former minister and freedom fighter Ronnie Kasrils.
The Palestinian delegation expressed their appreciation for South Africa’s support. “We are grateful for South Africa’s support for our efforts to become full members of the international community,” Siham Barghouthi told the press conference, “and we look to you for guidance in our ongoing struggle.”
President Obama is like comedian Flip Wilson’s character, Geraldine: He blames everything on the Devil. The Devil made him do it.
And so, the Devil has just forced Mr. Obama to put together his own infernal Super Pac, the demon-spawn of the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision allowing corporations and wealthy individuals to spend as much money as they like on elections. Only days ago, Obama was calling Super Pacs a “threat to democracy,” but that was then, and now it’s time to make sure that the president has an equal opportunity to join in the corruption. But, don’t blame Obama. The Koch brothers made him do it, with reports that the far-right siblings plan to gather $100 million in Super Pac money. As Geraldine would say, those Koch Devils made Obama do it.
Not that there’s any danger of Obama being outspent in his re-election bid. He’s raised more money than all the Republican candidates, combined. In fact, he’s raised a lot more money from employees of Mitt Romney’s private equity firm, Bain Capital, than Romney has. All indications are that Obama will win the race for Wall Street’s campaign contributions, hands down, no matter who the Republicans nominate, just as Wall Street preferred Obama to John McCain, four years ago.
Candidate Obama opted out of public financing in the 2008 campaign, the first president since Watergate to run without public funding. He had earlier promised to accept public financing, and the limits on spending that go with it, if McCain did. McCain kept his part of the bargain, but Obama was getting more money than he could bring himself to turn down. In fact, by that time, Obama had raised twice as much as McCain, so he couldn’t claim a disadvantage. Instead, Obama’s excuse was that the public financing system was “broken.” But, of course, it was Obama’s withdrawal that definitively broke the system, paving the way for the billion dollar election of 2012.
In the summer of 2007, Obama explained the difference between himself and all of his Democratic and Republican opponents, when it comes to taking money from the rich and greedy. “The argument is not that I’m pristine, because I’m swimming in the same muddy water,” he said. “The argument is that I know it’s muddy and I want to clean it up.” But there is no evidence that Obama wants to clean up campaign financing, only that he finds all kinds of excuses to take the money.
The Wall Street crowd loves Obama, and they show it with their checkbooks. He returns their love a thousand times over, by protecting their interests while skillfully hoodwinking the Democratic base into believing that he’s on their side. The most pitiful marks in this hustle are small contributors, who Obama claims are his real base of support. Back in 2008, he even claimed that his fundraising was a better reflection of democracy than public financing, because he had so many small contributors. But it turns out that Obama got almost exactly the same proportion of his campaign funds from the little guys as George Bush did, in 2004.
It’s a rich man’s game, in which the future of the country and the world is purchased cheaply with campaign contributions. It is common sense that the player that collects the most money, has also sold the most influence. This election year, just like last time, the top influence seller is Barack Obama.
Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Israel claims its exploitation of West Bank land benefits the Palestinian population. (Najeh Hashlamoun / APA images)
Ramallah – Pillage: for some the word conjures up lawless warfare, a time before the order of nation states or the rule of international law. Indeed, in its petition to the Israeli high court, the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din argues that “pillage” belongs to “ancient times,” when justice was determined by might and the victors of war were entitled to the fruits of the conquered land.
But in today’s world, pillage continues. Obscured in the thick mire of economic agreements or obfuscations of law, pillage remains part of the modern world.
In March 2009, Yesh Din filed a petition demanding a termination to all Israeli mining activities in the West Bank. The petition was served against the commander of the Israeli military, the head of Israel’s Civil Administration (which oversees the occupation of the West Bank) and 11 Israeli companies that run quarries in the West Bank and illegally transfer their spoils into Israel.
International law prohibits an occupying power from exploiting the resources of the territories it occupies. According to international law, an occupying authority may only use resources of the occupied territory if they serve the benefit of the occupied population.
“Unique” nature of Israel’s occupation
But international law would also have it that an occupation is temporary, and after 45 years, there are few who would characterize Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as short-lived — including the Israeli high court. This exceptionally prolonged and “unique” nature of the Israeli occupation is just one of the several confounding reasons the high court ruled against Yesh Din’s petition on 26 December 2011 (“Yesh Din’s response to the HCJ ruling on the organization’s petition challenging the legality of Israeli quarrying activities in the occupied West Bank,” 3 January 2012).
Due to the extraordinary ruling, Yesh Din has applied for an extended chamber to reassess the court’s ruling. While it is unusual for such a request to be granted, Yesh Din argues this case merits a further hearing.
Writing the opinion of the court, President of the High Court Dorit Beinisch states, “The belligerent occupation of Israel in the area has some unique characteristics, primarily the duration of the occupation period that requires the adjustment of the law to the reality on the ground, which imposes a duty upon Israel to ensure normal life for a period, which … is certainly long-term.”
Thus, contrary to the opinion of many governments and many Israeli legal scholars as well, the court’s ruling exempts the Israeli authorities from the standard restrictions placed on an occupier.
An expert legal opinion submitted by seven Israeli legal scholars and Yesh Din states that appropriate interpretation of the laws of occupation in prolonged circumstances should be the opposite of that given by the high court last December (“Expert legal opinion — Executive summary,” 26 December 2011).
Bizarre claim that quarries benefit Palestinians
The court opinion is unprecedented in another respect as well. It argues that the operations of the Civil Administration — i.e. the occupation — are in fact for the benefit of the Palestinian population.
Before the court could strike down the petition, it had to argue that the riches gained by Israeli companies were benefiting the Palestinian population to meet the requirements of the Hague Regulations of 1907, one of the main instruments of international law relating to military occupation.
That the quarries employ approximately 200 Palestinians hardly substantiates a benefit to the collective population.
Furthermore, according to documentation by the Israeli interior ministry itself, 94 percent of mined resources are transferred to Israel, and most of the remaining 6 percent is transferred to Israeli settlements.
In 2010, a senior official in the Israeli State Attorney’s Office told the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz that since the mid-1970s, Israeli companies with permits to operate in the West Bank were required to pay a regular fee and additional royalties for each ton of material they extracted to the Civil Administration (“Israel seizing hundreds of millions of shekels meant for Palestinian services,” 7 April 2010).
That all changed in 1995 when the newly-created Palestinian Authority signed the Interim Agreements (generally known as the Oslo accords) with Israel. At that point royalties began to be funneled to the Israel Lands Administration, the body that manages land inside the state. The assumption in the agreements was that after 18 months the quarries would be transferred to the PA (the agreements also envisaged a full Palestinian state within five years).
The Civil Administration, a unit of Israel’s ministry of defense, is in charge of administering the occupation. It is responsible for home demolitions, flying checkpoints, the construction of Israel’s wall in the West Bank and squelching protests.
To say the least, the Civil Administration is not a trusted benevolent body for the Palestinian people. Speaking to Haaretz in 2010, one legal expert said that the Civil Administration and the defense ministry insisted that building the wall, funding Israeli police in “Judea and Samaria” (as Israel calls the West Bank), constructing bypass roads and other settler infrastructure should also classify as “for the good of the local population” (“Digging up the dirt,” 3 September 2010).
But never mind those facts. The court invoked the Palestinian Authority to absolve the operation of Israeli quarries. “It seems that the petitioner may have forgotten that the best interests of the protected population … lie within the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority, alongside other entities, which is engaged in diplomatic agreements with the State of Israel,” the court stated in its verdict.
Speaking on behalf of the Palestinian Negotiations Support Unit, Ashraf Khatib completely refutes the court’s invocation of the PA as a source for legitimizing the quarries. “The interim agreement clearly states ‘quarries must be transferred to the Palestinian side within 18 months’ — Israel has not done so,” he told The Electronic Intifada.
And then, in a twist of reality too sick even for George Orwell, the court argued that the military is promoting projects that benefit Palestinians.
“Royalties paid to the Civil Administration by the operators of the quarries are used to finance the operations of the military administration, which promotes various kinds of projects aimed to benefit the interests of the area,” the ruling adds.
It is hardly surprising that the Israeli court would find a way to legalize the activities of the occupation, but it goes well beyond that and argues that the occupation — its military and economic operations — is intended to help the Palestinian population. Now that takes real chutzpah.
But then again, it is not entirely novel for countries advocating for an open-door policy (that only opens in one direction) to claim it serves the benefit of the land and population it is exploiting. And while the Palestinian Authority will surely balk at taking responsibility for its encouragement of this kind of neoliberal relationship, it was only three years ago that the PA’s appointed prime minister and former International Monetary Fund official, Salam Fayyad signed on to the “economic peace” plan. Promoted by Benjamin Netanyahu, that plan prioritized normalization of life under occupation.
Despite attempts to divorce politics from economics, the fact remains that Israel is reaping economic benefits from continuing to occupy and subjugate Palestinian people. The Interim Agreement in 1995 opened up these neoliberal lines of communication between Israel and the West Bank with the alleged objective of gradually building state institutions. Since then, Palestinians have been further separated from the very land on which their state was to be built.
Neoliberal policies work this way all over the world: vulnerable states are subjected to exploitation and devastation. In the West Bank, these savage realities are enforced — and intensified — with the military might of Israel.
Charlotte Silver is a journalist based in the West Bank. She can be reached at charlottesilver A T gmail D O T com.