The New York Times is reporting that most Republican voters as well as quite a few Democrats are leaning in favor of American soldiers intervening directly in Syria and Iraq. Republican politicians are paying attention, sounding more bellicose than ever, demanding “boots on the ground” and even suggesting that a John Bolton presidential run is a real possibility.
Apparently the widely noted war fatigue resulting from all the unsuccessful military engagements after 9/11 has worn off. ISIS and Russia are, of course the enemies du jour, but there is also a frequently expressed hankering to go after the Mullahs in Iran if they don’t completely cede their sovereignty tout suite. And there is always the “Red Menace” from China if all else fails. So many enemies, so little time to defeat them all.
How did all this come about as the United States has almost no actual interests compelling getting involved in the Middle East or Eastern Europe yet again? It is not as if a new foray into realms that we Yanks know little or nothing about is likely to be any more successful than the last couple of misadventures. To be sure, a series of sickening atrocities by ISIS has gotten the juices flowing, but the White House’s desire to obtain blanket authority to initiate and deepen an open ended conflict that presumably will go on forever is just about as poorly defined and prone to failure as was the Bushite global war on terror that it replaces.
Part of the problem is undoubtedly an ignorant public. Foreign news coverage is superficial and tends to follow a preordained groupthink that is set by the engaged punditry in Washington and New York City. Putin is always evil and the Iranians are always perfidious. Americans remain ignorant because they are fed a steady diet of untruths and are rarely allowed to hear or read alternative viewpoints. The journalists who write the lies for the leading newspapers and who interview Senator John McCain repeatedly on Sunday mornings are far worse than Brian Williams, who only embellished his stories. The Judy Millers of this world go far beyond that in selling a complete set of bogus goods carefully packaged into prefabricated arguments, which, in the case of Iraq, led to an unnecessary and ultimately disastrous war.
The media has a responsibility to challenge such dishonesty but it rarely does so. A recent puff piece in the Washington Post on Republican President wannabe Mike Huckabee’s acting as a tour guide to Israel was astonishing in terms of what it forgot to mention. Huckabee clearly thumped his belief that God and Israel and the United States are all joined at the hip, but along the way he also revealed that he believes that the Palestinian people do not actually exist, denying them any kind of historical claim to their own land. The article also quoted Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, who was accompanying Huckabee, as saying “there’s really no such thing as the ‘Palestinians’.”
The author of the piece, the Post’s Israel correspondent William Booth, did not point out that the claim is ridiculous and un-historical, that Palestine has been settled for thousands of years with an indigenous population that was initially pagan and Jewish, then mostly Christian, and finally mostly Muslim. If roots define national legitimacy then the Palestinian Arabs have more claim to the land that now makes up Israel than do the recent Jewish settlers who came from Europe, America and elsewhere in the Middle East. But a casual reader knowing none of that would not be enlightened by Mr. Booth and might quite possibly leave the article with the impression that there are no Palestinians.
The Post’s editorial policy is relentlessly neocon under the tutelage of Fred Hiatt, whom, hopefully, Jeff Bezos will be firing when he finally gets around to shaking up the paper’s senior staff. There has been a steady drumbeat to take military action against Russia and Syria while sniping relentlessly against any possible agreement with Iran.
Gems that have appeared recently in connection with the upcoming visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu include Dennis Ross’s February 22 nd op-ed on “How to ease Israel’s concerns.” Ross, once described as “Israel’s lawyer,” is inevitably most concerned with making Israel comfortable and proposes legislation mandating a military strike by the U.S. if Iran were perceived to be moving towards weapons grade production of uranium. Of course Ross ignores the evidence that such a perception can be engineered through fake intelligence or by political interests seeking to start a war. The IAEA recently determined that much of the case for Iran having an alleged weapons program in the first place was derived from intelligence fabricated by the United States and also Israel. Ross’s advice would create a trip wire and place the decision whether the U.S. should go to war with Iran in Israel’s hands.
A day later there was a triple whammy. The Post printed a letter from one Robert Tropp claiming that Iran is “developing a nuclear weapon” and “wants to destroy Israel.” Neither assertion is true but the editorial staff apparently felt the letter made a significant contribution to the discussion. On the facing page appeared two articles, one by Hiatt himself, entitled “A credibility gap: Obama’s challenge in selling and Iran deal” and the second by former Senator Joe Lieberman entitled “Hear out Israel’s leader.”
Hiatt argues that President Barack Obama should have sought to “eradicate[e] Iran’s nuclear weapons potential” and points out that the president has backed off from previous foreign policy commitments, including what to do about Iraq, Syria, and Russia. One might note that Hiatt’s desire to “eradicate” a “potential” could be interpreted to mean almost anything that Iran does that the Washington Post does not like.
Because Iran is a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signatory whose facilities are open to inspection it has a perfect right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. All of which means that Hiatt is essentially saying that Iran’s rights under international law should be abrogated because they make Israel nervous, though he does not, of course, mention Israel. Nor for that matter does he bother to explain exactly how Iran threatens the United States.
Israel, of course, is central to Hiatt’s argument. It has an estimated secret arsenal that includes two hundred nuclear weapons and multiple delivery systems, which Hiatt does not find disturbing, presumably because Benjamin Netanyahu is such a solid individual. Hiatt concludes by expressing his desire to see Congress as a partner in any agreement with Iran. As the Republican majority in Congress is hostile to any deal he is basically calling for a solution that can only fail.
Lieberman on the other hand does not hide his deep regard for Israel and all its works. He encourages all Congressmen to attend the Netanyahu speech on March 3 rd. For Joe, the former “conscience of the Senate,” it is all about hearing Bibi explain how “best to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons” and also because everyone should be a “strong supporter of America’s alliance with Israel.” In addition Congressmen have to be informed by experts like Netanyahu because some day down the road they might have to raise armies and declare war as Iran is not just threatening Israel. Those mad Mullahs are developing nukes and long range missiles that can strike America. And nuclear proliferation by Iran is particularly bad because it might encourage Arab neighbors to do the same.
Joe then returns to his oft repeated meme that “Israel is one of our closest and most steadfast allies” before concluding that Iran “remains the greatest threat to the security of America and the world.” The op-ed is so bad that one suspects Joe wrote it himself, though possibly with a little help from AIPAC. Every single point made is wrong or misleading, most particularly the double assertion that Israel is a wonderful ally. It is not an ally at all and never has been. And if there is an out of control secret nuclear proliferator in the Middle East whose paranoid behavior might well produce a nuclear World War 3 it is Israel, which ex-Senator Lieberman fails to grasp.
If I could I would like to send a message to the mainstream media. It might go something like this: “Please tell your readers the truth for a change. The only thing exceptional about America at the present time is our hubris. We helped create al-Qaeda by attacking the Soviets in Afghanistan. Iraq is a basket case because we invaded it without cause. Syria is in chaos because we have never seriously sought a peaceful solution with Bashar al-Assad. What we have done in Iraq and Syria taken together has produced ISIS. Libya is a toxic mess because we overthrew its government on phony humanitarian grounds. Afghanistan is about to copy Iraq because we have occupied it for thirteen years without a clue how to get out. We started the troubles in Ukraine and with Russia when we broke our promise by expanding NATO and then worked to overthrow an elected government. And finally there is Israel. Israel is not an ally and is the source of many of the problems in the Middle East. American and Israeli interests do not coincide, frequently quite the contrary.”
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States has positioned itself, one administration after another, as a global supercop guarantor of world peace. Indeed, since the end of World War II, even as the US has projected its power worldwide through military might, its clever ideologues have managed to convince a large portion of their public opinion that their ambitions for global hegemony are altruistic and benevolent. This dichotomy between the fictional discourse and the brutal reality of US imperialism, applied globally since 1945, is more blatant than George Orwell’s worse fears expressed in “1984“. In this war-is-peace construct, nothing is what it appears to be, and imperialist wars are sold to a gullible citizenry as being humanitarian. Despite the disinformation propagated by the think tanks and Western mainstream media outlets, factual evidence shows that currently, the clear-and-present dangers to world peace are not ISIS, “Russia‘s aggressive acts” or Ebola but, rather, the US military and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
The justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq given by the spin masters of Orwellian imperialism was to “spread freedom and democracy to the Middle East”. Twelve years later, what has spread in Iraq, Libya and Syria is not freedom and democracy, but ashes, ruins, blood baths and despair. The new world order that the ideologues of Orwellian imperialism are striving to impose globally under the cover of fake revolutions, at least until everyone is beaten into submission, is actually controlled chaos. The destructive empire has several wrecking balls at its disposal, but its tools of choice are, in addition to the US military and the troops of its dependable and mostly occupied vassals in NATO, the Israel “Defense” Forces. The creation of controlled chaos works as a tactic to mold the collective psyche of the citizenry, because people usually strive for stability, security and order, even at the expense of their own personal liberty. The collective state of fear that chaos generates makes most people welcome the worst kinds of repression from the most oppressive forms of governments. Fear and paranoia are the essential ingredients of police states.
Global hegemony plan from a warmongering Nobel peace prize laureate
Nothing could be more appropriate for the warmongering Orwellian empire than to have as its current public-relations person a Nobel peace prize laureate. The irony and absurdity of it all is tragic. On February 11, 2015, president Obama sent an official request to the US Congress to pass an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against America’s latest elusive enemy: ISIS or ISIL. In the request to Congress, which is a gem in Orwellian rhetoric and legalese, it is mentioned that Obama “has directed a comprehensive and sustained strategy to degrade and defeat ISIL”, further the letter explains the plan to use convenient regional surrogates on the front line of the empire’s new war: “Local forces, rather than the US military should be deployed to conduct such operations. The authorization I propose would provide the flexibility (for the US military) to conduct ground combat operations…..”
Needless to say, the new AUMF will pass unquestioned, with flying colors and wide bipartisan support. After all, could the US Congress say no to a perfect new war that promises very few US casualties, for its patrons of the military-industrial complex? War is the US’ leading export and an extremely lucrative business for everyone associated with the merchants of death. The timing of the AUMF, a few months after the full-scale operation against ISIS started without it, has to do with the budget of the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2016. Added to a “base” defense budget of $534 billion, the Pentagon is asking for $51 billion to pay for “the war on ISIL in Iraq and Syria”. The 2016 budget proposal asks for $168 million of additional funding to “counter Russian aggressive acts”, with $117 million for Ukraine and $51 million for Moldova and Georgia, plus $789 million to bolster NATO in the European Union. The direct and indirect beneficiaries, namely Wall Street and the political class, of the colossal war machine are thrilled with the prospect of more profit from permanent war.
Despite the fact that ISIS was originally the foster child of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with Uncle Sam for its godfather, it has just been labeled enemy number one and is a dream come true to make the “War on Terror” global, permanent and perhaps even more destructive. The Islamic State foreign legion is indeed the perfect enemy: one that can justify a permanent war-without-borders; help finish the job of wrecking the Middle East in preparation for the greater Israel project; and finally, create a clash-of-civilizations fear and discourse in Europe to make people accept a full-blown police state.
In the time of the Orwellian empire, most people not only accept the notion that they must be protected against themselves, but are also conditioned to embrace it happily, as if they are singing cheerfully to the slaughterhouse. Furthermore, the war on ISIS will allow the US military and its NATO surrogate to invade and occupy more countries.
US military: occupier of allies
Facts are still awfully stubborn even in this era. Seventy years after the end of World War II, the US military still occupies the main losers of the conflict and current “allies”. About 40,000 US troops occupy Germany, while 60,000 occupy Japan. Fifty-four years since the end of the Korean war, almost 30,000 troops occupy South Korea. Fourteen years after the invasion of Afghanistan, a Praetorian guard of 11,000 is still in that country, and 12 years after the invasion of Iraq a force of about 5,000 troops, quickly growing, remains there. Some other significant footprints of the US military on so-called sovereign countries are as follows: about 12,000 in Kuwait; 3,500 in Bahrain; 1,500 in Turkey; 11,000 in Italy; 10,000 in the United Kingdom; and 2,000 in Spain.
The overall US military force overseas occupies more than 150 countries and amounts to the staggering number of 160,000 troops, with an additional 70,000 deployed in “contingency” operations with either the Navy, Air Force, or Special Forces. A priority of further military expansion, in this case through NATO, is Eastern Europe using the pretext of necessary defense against “Russia’s aggressions”. In Spring 2015, NATO will establish command centers in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia to oversee 5,000 troops.
From time to time, despite the thick fog of disinformation and propaganda where basic truth become meaningless, the empire’s ideologues slip up and become candid. Such a chilling moment of semi-truth happened in the White House National Security Strategy report/statement of February 6, 2015. Vague literary flourishes do not hide the fact that the leadership of Orwellian Empire Inc. does not intend to respect national sovereignty and pull out its Praetorian guards.
“Now, at this pivotal moment, we continue to face serious challenges to our national security, even as we are working to shape the opportunities of tomorrow. Violent extremism and an evolving terrorist threat raise a persistent risk of attacks on America and our allies. Escalating challenges to cybersecurity, aggression by Russia, the accelerating impact of climate change, and the outbreak of infectious diseases all give rise to anxieties about global security. We must be clear-eyed about these and other challenges and recognize the United States has a unique capability to mobilize and lead the international community to meet them. Any successful strategy to ensure the safety of the American people and advance our national security interests must begin with an undeniable truth- America must lead. Strong and sustained is essential to a rules-based international order that promotes global security and prosperity as well as the dignity and human rights of all peoples. The question is never whether America should lead, but how we lead.”
So we have it. The global citizenry must challenge the US’ Orwellian leadership that has driven the world from one war to another for the past seven decades. This is a clear-and-present danger to all of us. Nations, worldwide, must reclaim their sovereignty by firstly recognizing that the Praetorian guard of the Orwellian empire are not allies but occupiers. Contesting the “leadership” of the US is the only way out of a perverse global construct where war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, and reality is fiction.
Five activists were arrested Sunday in the American capital for demonstrating outside the Washington Convention Center where the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a well-known pro-Israeli lobby, was holding its annual policy conference.
Believed to be one of the largest pro-Israeli gatherings, the AIPAC policy conference kicked off on Sunday, and will last for three days.
A group of protesters mobilized by an anti-war group known as CODEPINK or Women for Peace on social media under the hashtag #ShutDownAIPAC tried to block the entrance to the convention center. Several civil society organizations, including Jewish ones, joined the demonstration.
Some protesters were waving flags of Hezbollah, a Lebanese resistance movement against Israel which is listed as a “terrorist organization” by the US.
Israel occupied parts of Lebanon for 22 years until 2000 and the two countries are still technically at war.
The latest Israeli war on Lebanon in the summer of 2006 killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, and 160 Israelis, most of them soldiers.
“The purpose of the rally was to draw attention to this organization’s role as a special interest lobby that maintains a dangerous stranglehold over US policies and diverts US tax dollars from American needs and into Israeli militarism,” a statement by CODEPINK read.
The activists were violently removed by police from the front of the Washington Convention Center while chanting: “Netanyahu, War Criminal! Free, Free, Palestine!”
“We’re here to say that this organization is on the path of war,” one of the protest organizers, Medea Benjamin told Anadolu news agency. … Full article
Out of 2056 votes cast at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, 73% voted in favor of boycotting Israeli academic institutions.
The Palestine Society and the BDS campaign at SOAS state: “This historic result has brought us one step further in our struggle for freedom and justice. We do not tolerate any collaboration with academic institutions which are complicit in human rights violations and which do not practice the values of academic freedom and equality. We call upon other universities to show their solidarity by joining the academic boycott.”
The referendum was called for by the Students’ Union, and was conducted in an open, fair and transparent environment.
SOAS has ties with the Hebrew University, which joined the “war effort” last summer when the Israeli army murdered over 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza.
The academic boycott campaign does not contradict academic freedom as it targets Israeli institutions complicit in the oppression of Palestinians, not individuals. Open enquiry, free exchange of ideas, and intellectual freedom are crucial, but freedom can only be real when it is afforded to all. This has to include the Palestinians.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has suggested that the Israeli regime deliberately targeted a base of UN peacekeeping forces along Lebanon’s southern border last month, in which a peacekeeper was killed.
“The incident happened at a UNIFIL base which is known perfectly by Israeli forces,” Ban said, using the acronym for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.
According to Lebanon’s An-Nahar daily on Saturday, Ban also censured the killing of the Spanish peacekeeper who died in the Israeli shelling of the UNIFIL post in January.
During the Israeli raid on the Lebanese border, the observation tower of a Spanish UNIFIL position in Abbasieh, one kilometer east of Ghajar, was directly struck by an artillery shell, killing Cpl. Francisco Javier Soria Toledo.
A report submitted to the UN Security Council on Friday by the UN’s Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag held the Israeli regime “fully liable for the death of the peacekeeper.”
Israel launched the attack after Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah targeted an Israeli military convoy in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms on January 28, killing two soldiers and wounding several others while destroying at least nine Israeli military vehicles.
The attack by Hezbollah was launched in response to an Israeli airstrike in the town of Qunaitra in Syria’s Golan Heights 10 days earlier, which killed several top members of the Lebanese resistance movement and an Iranian commander.
The Israeli attack on the UNIFIL post in January was not the first of its kind.
Four UN observers were killed in an Israeli airstrike on their post in Khiam, southern Lebanon, during the 2006 Israeli war on the Arab country. Then-UN chief Kofi Annan said at the time that the attack appeared to be “deliberate.”
A French UN observer was also killed in 2005 near the Shebaa Farms by Israeli tank shelling.
The most notorious Israeli attack, however, came in April 1996, when artillery shells fired by the regime’s forces struck the Fijian battalion headquarters in Qana, killing 107 civilians who had taken refuge at the compound.
Israel reportedly bypassed the White House and asked the US Congress for an extra $317 million to be added to President Barack Obama’s budget for the next fiscal year in order to fund Israeli missile defense programs, Bloomberg reported.
The requested funds would be in addition to the $158 million already proposed by the Pentagon for Israel’s security needs for the fiscal year that will begin on October 1. The new allocation will allegedly finance the ‘David’s Sling’ and ‘Arrow-3′ programs – designed to intercept medium- to long-range missiles – as well as provide an anti-ballistic missile system.
According to Bloomberg’s report on Friday, the director of Israel’s missile defense organization Yair Ramati “visited lawmakers and aides to the congressional defense committees on February 2 and 3 to outline the case for more money and thank them for past assistance.”
Ramati completely bypassed the White House and the Pentagon. The report links the move to the tense relationship between the Obama administration and the Israeli government ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress on March 3, which is likely to stress that the White House is pursuing a “bad deal” by negotiating to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
The report revealed that Ramati’s proposal included $250 million to start production of the David’s Sling system, in addition to Obama’s $37 million request for development. Another $35 million Ramati requested for the initial production of Arrow 3, in addition to the $55.7 million the US administration is seeking for development.
During his visit to Capitol Hill, Ramati “distributed one-page sheets naming US contractors that would benefit from production funds for each of the missile defense systems.” According to Bloomberg’s information, the list included Chicago-based Boeing Co.; Waltham, Massachusetts-based Raytheon Co.; Arlington, Virginia-based Orbital ATK Inc.; and Falls Church, Virginia-based Northrop Grumman Corp.
When contacted by Bloomberg, the Israeli embassy in the US declined to comment on the report.
The US already provides Israel with $3.1 billion a year as “foreign military financing,” which excludes other missile defense funds, according to the report.
For the current fiscal year, Congress has reportedly provided $620 million, including about $347 million for missile defense programs. US Congress has appropriated more than $1.2 billion since 2011 for the Iron Dome, which is designed to intercept and destroy rockets.
In light of the large amounts of distributed funds, US lawmakers have been insisting that Israel use American-based defense contractors when spending the received money.
Last year, the Israeli government agreed to spend more than half the funds provided by the Pentagon for the Iron Dome in the US by this year. Until recently, the missile system was been built solely in Israel by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.
Iran nuclear talks have created a significant rift between Israel and the US. Last week, the White House and State Department stated that Israel inaccurately provided information and twisted the official US position in nuclear talks with Iran, and accused Tel Aviv of “selectively” leaking details of sensitive talks.
Washington has also voiced suspicion that Netanyahu’s office directly provided Israeli journalists with the leaked information, including an alleged offer to Iran to keep 6,500 centrifuges for uranium enrichment. A White House spokesman expressed frustration with the “cherry-picked” information released by the Israelis out of context.
Four Palestinians and one female German demonstrator shot with live ammunition at “Open Shuhada Street” protest
Israeli military sniper aiming up the road towards the Open Shuhada Street demonstrators
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On February 27 in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli forces fired live ammunition towards nonviolent protesters participating in the annual Open Shuhada Street demonstration, injuring five including four Palestinian activists, one of them 17 years old, and one German citizen. More were also injured by rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades as soldiers and Border Police blocked the roads leading towards Shuhada Street and attacked the protesters.
Close to a thousand Palestinians, accompanied by Israeli and international supporters, marched towards one of the closed entrances to Shuhada Street carrying flags and signs and chanting. They called for the opening of Shuhada Street, whose closure to Palestinians has become a symbol of Israel’s Apartheid system, and for an end to the occupation. The march was turned back by stun grenades, rubber coated steel bullets and live ammunition fired by the Israeli military. Around twenty demonstrators were injured in total; Hebron Hospital reported that at least six were admitted and two required surgery. One Palestinian activist, Hijazi Ebedo, 25, was arrested at the demonstration; all he had been doing was chanting and holding a sign.
Issa Amro, coordinator and co-founder of Youth Against Settlements (YAS) stated: “The protest, which was joined by groups from all over Palestine, marked the twenty-first anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre. Israeli occupying forces shot live ammunition towards peaceful protesters, which is against international law. The Israeli military should be held accountable in international court for their actions.”
“Julia was standing and filming next to me when suddenly she fell to the ground,” stated Leigh, a Canadian activist who was standing next to Julia when she was shot.
Julia, the injured 22-year-old German activist from Berlin, was evacuated to Hebron Hospital where she is being treated for a live gunshot wound which entered and exited her leg. “The brutality of Israeli forces is unbelievable, it seems like they don’t have a limit,” she stated. “In Palestine I have seen Israeli forces shooting tear gas, stun grenades, rubber and live ammunition at any kind of demonstration that is against the occupation. It doesn’t matter for them if it is peaceful or if there are kids attending. Yesterday I saw the army attack children who had been dancing in the street. Two people were shot with live ammunition in Bil’in. They shot me as I was standing and filming. It seems the soldiers just shoot at any one.”
The Open Shuhada Street demonstration marks the anniversary of the 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, when right wing extremist settler Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinians while they worshipped in the mosque. Following the massacre, Israeli forces shut down Palestinian businesses on Shuhada Street–once a commercial center–and began to implement the policies which would lead to what is now a total closure of the vast majority of the street to Palestinians. Twenty one years after the massacre, settlers from illegal Israeli settlements use the street freely while Palestinians are assaulted, shot and arrested when they attempt to reach it en masse during the Open Shuhada Street demonstration every year.
Israel Secretly Arrests Golani Druze, Accusing Him of Exposing Syrian Rebel-Jewish State Collaboration
Israel’s Shin Bet rearrested Golani Druze Sedki al-Maket (age 48). Until his release in 2012 (Hebrew), he’d been the longest serving Israeli security prisoner, having spent 27 years detained. News of his arrest is under gag order by Israeli media. The gag is laughable since the arrest has been reported not only by Syrian media, but in a Hebrew Facebook post.
Though Israeli security services haven’t offered any reason for his arrest, it’s likely they’re angered because a week ago he followed Syrian rebels to a meeting inside Israeli-occupied territory. The rebels met with Israeli forces who’ve previously been shown to receive logistical and intelligence support from Israel in previous reports here and in Israel and foreign media. Al Maket filmed a video while the meeting was underway, in which he described what he saw and offered it to Syrian TV. It was aired to the entire nation and likely monitored by Israeli security.
The Shin Bet doesn’t want any further leaks about such collaboration because it allows the Syrian regime to paint the rebels as Israeli stooges. It also gives the lie to those Israeli intelligence figures and journalists who’ve spoken falsely about Israel remaining neutral regarding the two sides fighting in Syria. Despite numerous air attacks against Syrian government facilities, assassinations of Syrian, Hezbollah and Iranian military, and security cooperation with rebels, Israel continues to maintain the fiction it hasn’t chosen sides.
If anyone wonders why Islamists are beheading western journalists and occupying Iraq and Syria, while carefully avoiding Israeli targets, this will explain a lot. It will also explain Israel’s approach which is to weaken central power in Syria, so that the Golan region closest to the border will become a protectorate, as was southern Lebanon until Israel’s withdrawal in 2000. Having Syrian rebels under Israeli sponsorship ruling the Syrian Golan will be much more conducive to maintaining Israel control and occupation for years to come.
Meanwhile, the Israeli media is content to publish happy news about the Golani Druze village of Majd al-Shams (home to al-Maket), which apparently has become a playground for a certain hip Israeli scene which enjoys pub crawling in the midst of Israeli-occupied Golan. If the report is to be believed, you can hardly tell the difference between it and Berlin or New York!
JENIN – A teenage Palestinian boy from the northern West Bank says he was violently assaulted by Israeli soldiers at al-Jalama crossing north of Jenin while he was trying to cross into Israel.
Muhammad Asri Fayyad, 17, told Ma’an Saturday that on Thursday morning he arrived at the crossing along with a busload of young men and teenagers who had organized a trip to Israel and obtained the needed permits from Israeli authorities.
He says he entered the crossing and complied with the instructions Israeli officers were giving through loudspeakers. The instructions included “that we shove our mobile phones in one place and we cross from a different place which we did.”
“Everybody received back their mobile phones except me. The soldiers asked me to pass through a path under a bridge on top of which stood a number of soldiers pointing their guns at me.
“They then asked me to enter a room which has several doors and I obeyed the orders. All the doors were immediately locked before the officers started to shout through loudspeakers demanding that I take off my clothes and my shoes.”
He added that he took off his shoes first but the soldiers continued to shout “violently” repeating that he must take off all his clothes.
“When I took off my clothes, they turned on a huge ceiling fan which caused frigid coldness. I told them to turn off the fan because I was freezing, but they didn’t, and so I knocked on the fan in an attempt to cause it to stop. At that point the soldiers broke into the room and started to beat be with rifle butts until I fell to the ground.
“They then tied my hand to a steel bar behind my back and tied my foot to another bar. I remained in that position from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. After that a number of soldiers arrived and a female soldier untied me after she took a silver necklace I was wearing. She ordered me to put on my clothes, then she handcuffed and blindfolded my eyes and escorted me outside the crossing and told me that I was denied entry to Israel. She gave me a small sack in which I found the remnants of my mobile phone which had been smashed.”
Muhammad says he has been suffering severe shoulder and foot pain ever since.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has reminded American officials that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is against a nuclear deal with Iran, was also in the US in 2002 to push for the invasion of Iraq.
Netanyahu is set to use his next week’s address to a joint session of Congress to condemn a potential nuclear agreement with Iran.
During a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on Wednesday, Kerry warned Congress about the controversial speech.
“The prime minister, as you will recall, was profoundly forward-leaning and outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq under George W. Bush, and we all know what happened with that decision,” Kerry said.
The top US diplomat was referring to testimony on the Middle East that Netanyahu delivered to Congress on Sept. 12, 2002.
During his speech, Netanyahu expressed strong support for Washington to oust former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Six months later, the US military bombarded the country.
“I think the choice of Iraq is a good choice, it’s the right choice,” Netanyahu said in 2002. “If you take out Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.”
Kerry also said on Wednesday that Netanyahu was wrong about Iran too because he had been “extremely outspoken about how bad the interim agreement was, calling it the ‘deal of the century for Iran.’”
The March 3 speech by Netanyahu has made the Obama administration furious as it comes ahead of crucial nuclear negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany that are working hard to reach a comprehensive nuclear accord.
Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice said the speech has “injected a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate, I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship.”
Netanyahu, who is trying to put pressure on US officials to stop a final deal, once again defended his trip to Washington on Tuesday, saying he would do everything to prevent the agreement.
“It is my obligation as prime minister to do everything that I can to prevent this agreement. Therefore, I will go to Washington… because the American Congress is likely to be the final brake before the agreement,” he said.
President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and John Kerry would not meet with the Israeli leader during his trip.
A number of Democrats announced that they would skip the speech.
GAZA – Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, asked the international community to put Israel and its leaders on the terror list. The request was voiced after state-backed Jewish settlers set fire to a mosque and a church in the West Bank over two consecutive days.
On Thursday, Hamas leader and former Minister of Awqaf and Religious Affairs, Dr. Ismail Radwan, condemned the arson attack on both sacred sites, saying, “Torching the holy sites and writing anti-Islamic and anti-Christian slogans by Israeli settlers demonstrate that the Israeli occupation constitutes a danger to humanity and to holy places”.
Dr. Radwan called on the international community along with human rights organizations to work on putting Israel on the terror list for its crimes that show hatred and hostility to humanity and holy sites.
The extremist Jewish groups started a fire at dawn Wednesday in a mosque in Jaba town to the west of Bethlehem and did the same thing early Thursday in the Church of Dormition on Mt. Zion in Occupied Jerusalem.
The Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and all Palestine, Theophilos III, denounced on Thursday what he called “repeated” attacks on Christian and Muslim places of worship in the Palestinian territories by extremist Jewish settlers.
“The targeting of churches and mosques is caused by pervasive racism and hatred,” he said in a statement.
Earlier Thursday, Jewish Settlers set fire to part of a religious school affiliated with Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox Church, Which they sprayed with anti-Christian graffiti. On Wednesday, settlers torched and sprayed graffiti on a West Bank mosque.
Theophilos III said Christians represented an “integral part” of the Holy Land, its history and its future, going on to assert that the Greek Orthodox Church was one of the world’s most important churches.
“Criminals will not intimidate this church or its flock,” he declared.
He called on government agencies to address repeated settler attacks on places of worship.
Earlier Thursday, The Palestinian Foreign Ministry called on both the Vatican and the international community to protect Islamic and Christian places of worship from what it described as “Jewish extremism.”
“We strongly condemn these acts,” the ministry said in a statement. “Yesterday a mosque near Bethlehem was torched and today a church in Jerusalem [was attacked].”
Extremist Jews, the ministry asserted, continued to attack Muslim and Christian places of worship while the Israeli government did nothing to stop them.
The ministry went on to blame the Israeli government for the trend, calling on the Vatican, the international community and the UN to help protect local religious sites.
On Wednesday, Jewish Settlers set fire to a mosque near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, Which Also they covered with anti-Arab and anti-Muslim graffiti.
Several instances of settler attacks on Muslim places of worship have been reported recently, both in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and in the self-proclaimed Jewish state itself.