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September 2011

Gilad Atzmon: Are They Really ‘The People Of The Book’?

Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 7:59AM Gilad Atzmon


Ahead of the publication of my “The Wandering Who” the entire Zionist network is in a total panic. Veterans Today’s senior Editor Gordon Duff  commented yesterday that just a ‘few books have been opposed as this one has’. He may as well be right.

It started last  Friday, with the Hasbara mouthpiece “Jewish Chronicle” of London attacking Professor Mearsheimer for endorsing a book ‘by an antisemite’.

I don’t know how many times do I have to mention that I am not an antisemite for I really  hate everyone equally. For some reason, my detractors refuse to take this simple message on board.

Then, the Islamophobic agent-provocateur “Harry’s place” — who never miss a chance to muddy the water — joined in, intimidating and harassing  a London academic  just because she tweeted that she likes Atzmon’s book


Addounia TV hitting the crack pipe, 9 Sept. 2011

The ‘Fake’ Cities of Syria’s Unrest

The 'Fake' Cities of Syria's Unrest
It’s been reported briefly by a number of news outlets that a documentary/news show in Syria recently suggested the unrest currently taking place there is not really happening. Instead, they allege it’s actually being staged in cinematic replicas of Syrian cities for the Al Jazeera news organization.

That’s right: fake cities, built in Qatar by Al Jazeera, occupied by hordes of actors, under the direction of filmmakers to create a false impression of what’s happening on the ground in Syria. Or at least that’s the spin.

Or perhaps more accurately, propaganda. As this post from The New York Times mentions, the station that ran the allegations on September 9 is closely tied to the ruling regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

“Addounia TV is owned by Mohamed Hamsho, who is the brother-in-law of Maher al Assad, the commander of Syria’s Republican Guard and the brother of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.”

The post also links to this video of the broadcast, subtitled in English by a YouTube channel called the Syrian Interpreter and aptly titled “Addounia TV hitting the crack pipe, 9 Sept.”


The segment claims that movie-set versions of Syrian cities and public squares have been constructed with the help of American and French directors to dupe the global audience. It’s also suggested that a similar illusion was created in Libya.

“The world and the Libyans were deceived by those replicas that Tripoli fell. With those replicas, Al Jazeera will continue media fabrication and cinematic tricks by shooting scenes of big defections from the Arab Syrian Army and shooting scenes of clashes between some elements who claim being defectors and elements from the regime.”

The report also claims that Al Jazeera has had replicas built of Al Asi Square in the city of Hama, the Clock Square in Homs, and some of the neighborhoods in Idlib. Unconvincing zoom-ins of satellite images purport to back up these allegations.

The construction of a fake city—let alone multiple fake cities—would be a major undertaking. The sheer scale of it makes even the suggestion almost laughable. It calls to mind the climax of the 1974 Mel Brooks film Blazing Saddles, in which a fake version of a town is created to fool a band of thugs intent on terrorizing the locals into leaving. Or the fake war created for TV in Wag the Dog. Or even the theory that the moon landing was filmed on a soundstage.

But if such a monumental building project were to take place, a pretty surreal alternate reality could be created. Maybe the Syrian government could even follow its own line of reasoning and build some fake cities to counter the fake cities they claim Al Jazeera has built. Instead of “staged” conflict, they could film a smoothly-functioning government that respects the will of its people. In Syria right now, a film set in a fake city might be the only place to find such a thing.

Nate Berg is staff writer at The Atlantic Cities. He lives in Los Angeles. All posts »

Mourning the Jewish New Year

by Marc H. Ellis on September 28, 2011

How sad the end is. I rend my garments. I mourn.

Last week, I listened to Barack Obama, an African American and my President, speak at the United Nations. I became sad beyond words. I wonder where his sense of history went.

I am a Jew. President Obama spoke of Jewish history – the years of exile and persecution, the Holocaust, the return to our ancient homeland. We deserve the respect of our Arab neighbors and the world.

I wonder if he speaks of American history in the same way.

Peoples and nations have their travails. History is bleak. We search for the good.

Is it possible to remain silent about slavery? Slavery is the defining moment of American history.

Can Jews be silent about the ethnic cleansing of Palestine? The ethnic cleansing of Palestine is among the defining moments of contemporary Jewish history.

Yes, persecution, exile, Holocaust and return. Now the violence of the Israeli state. The occupation of the Palestinian people.

Israel will not stop itself. Palestinians cannot stop Israel. Many Jews and Palestinians want a way beyond this endless violence. When the powerful deny the history we Jews are creating we become stuck in a quagmire. We sink deeper.

Some Jews worry about those who deny that the Holocaust occurred. Denying that 6 million Jews were murdered in Europe during the Nazi period is horrendous. Beyond words.

Yet in the President Obama’s address there is no mention of what happened to the Palestinians in 1948. What is still happening to the Palestinians. Don’t Palestinians have a history that needs acknowledgement?

Palestinians refer to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine as the Nakba, in Arabic, the Catastrophe.

Mr. President, are you a Nakba denier?

1948 may be inconsequential to you and indeed for many Jews. But just as the Holocaust needs to be remembered, the Nakba needs to be remembered.

Without remembering, how will we get to the root of the Catastrophe that has befallen the Palestinian people?

Or to the root of the catastrophe that has also befallen the Jewish people?

There are catastrophes that happen to you. There are catastrophes you create for others.

That Jews brought catastrophe to another people is a stain on Jewish history.

Our history of exile, persecution, Holocaust and the return to our ancient homeland now includes the Nakba.

No presentation of Jewish history makes sense without including what Jews have done and are doing to the Palestinians. Not in books on Jewish history. Not in presentations by Jewish academics. Not in policy statements from Jewish organizations. Not in press releases from Israel’s Prime Minister. Not from the peace process Quartet. Not from the President of the United States.

I won’t attempt a rendition of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address at the United Nations. It was worse than President Obama’s. Much worse. Shameful.

The Jewish High Holidays are upon us. Time to celebrate the New Year. Time to hone our repentance.

Time to mourn.

The Jewish High Holidays come and go. We recite our history of exile and persecution, Holocaust and the return to our ancient homeland. We are silent about the Nakba.

Endless the end. That has no ending.

Only mourning can save us now, Jews and Palestinians together. For what has been lost. For could have been. For what could be.

Denying the Nakba only delays the reckoning.

And the mourning.

Marc H. Ellis is University Professor of Jewish Studies, Professor of History and Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Baylor University. He is the author of many books, most recently Encountering the Jewish Future: with Wiesel, Buber, Heschel, Arendt, Levinas.

Panorama : Syria : Inside the Secret Revolution/ BBC1 – 26-09-2011


Egyptian Pop Music Takes on Israel

Dedicated to the soul of the great Alexandrian artist, the late Nabeel Al-Baqli

see full article here

Young, Jewish, Proud


Above is a newly-released video of the Young, Jewish and Proud declaration. Rabbi Brant Rosen responds as the Jewish community prepares for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year):

It’s well known that Birthright was born in response to growing reports that American Jewish young people were becoming increasingly disconnected to the state of Israel. But by rushing to address this issue through a massive multimillion dollar community initiative, we successfully avoided asking some deeper questions.

Could it be that we were afraid to know the answers?

Could it be that young people are becoming disenchanted with Israel because they are becoming increasingly troubled by its treatment of Palestinians? Could it be that growing numbers of young Jews regard Israel more as an oppressive colonial project than a source of Jewish pride? Could it be that in the 21st century world, the identities of young Jews are tied less to Jewish ethno-nationalism than to a more universal vision of liberation?

“Young, Jewish, Proud” is decidedly not the product of a Jewish communal initiative. On the contrary it is a grass-roots, self-organized effort of young Jews who seek to express their Jewish identity in a time-honored Jewish manner: by speaking truth to power, by advocating unabashedly for peace, justice and liberation, by standing up to oppression, racism and persecution in Israel/Palestine – and throughout the world. They simply aren’t buying what the Jewish establishment has been selling them. They are finding their own voices.

Read Rabbi Rosen’s full response and learn more about Young, Jewish and Proud here

The truth is what big brother says it is

Simon Collis

Ambassador to Syria, Damascus

Might be a spoof, but a good one with that
Posted 26 September 2011 by e-Media Global | 23 Comments

I’ve been British Ambassador in Syria for the last four years. Last weekend I decided to start this blog after Syria passed a terrible milestone. The Syrians have now endured six months of unrest and violent suppression of mostly peaceful protests. As they now look towards the next six months with a mixture of uncertainty, fear and hope, I wanted to share some personal impressions about what’s happening. Some thoughts about why it’s happening. And maybe to spark some debate about what comes next and what can be done.

In doing so I am privileged. Because I can. The last six months have shown the Syrians can too. But in doing so, they face censorship, threats and arbitrary arrest.

The Syrian regime doesn’t want you to know that its security forces and the gangs that support them are killing, arresting and abusing mostly peaceful protesters: The UN says over 2,700 people have died in the last six months, some of them under torture in prison. It doesn’t want you to know that it is preventing many from meeting peacefully to discuss reform. It wants you to hear only one version of the truth – its own. And to see only one way out – the return to authoritarian rule where fear surpasses a desire for freedom.  This is a regime that remains determined to control every significant aspect of political life in Syria. It is used to power. And it will do anything to keep it.

People say that in today’s world it’s no longer possible to hide the truth. A lot’s been said about the power of Twitter and Facebook, the inability for information to be censored in Tunisia and Egypt. The cruel reality in Syria is that they are doing all they can to pull the shutters down.

Foreign journalists are refused entry. Any non-Syrian local correspondents are kicked out – sometimes after a beating. Syrian correspondents, bloggers and citizen journalists are systematically tracked down and imprisoned. It’s a criminal offence to have a satellite phone.  Mobile phone and internet networks are heavily monitored, or connection reduced to a crawl  especially on Fridays. They are cut entirely anywhere the security forces mount mass arrest campaigns or send heavy armour into cities.  Websites and satellite TV channels are blocked, with help from Iran. Before the start of this crisis Reporters Without Borders already ranked Syria as the fifth worst place in the world for media freedom.  Over the last six months it’s got worse. A lot worse. The regime wants to create its own truth. We should not let it.

Is it a bird, is it a bullet? It’s Syria’s new media law!

I suppose we all learn early in life that there’s quite a difference between saying something and doing it.  Like pretty much all of its reform programme to date, the regime’s answer to its critics was to announce that there would be a new media law; and that a committee had been set up to draft it. But you don’t need a new law to decide to let journalists in. You don’t need a new media law to prevent the big brother mentality that prevails here. You just need to decide to stop restricting media freedoms, and then to act on your decision. And until that happens, why should anyone believe that anything will be different?

Mind the gap

I’ve got a feeling that this gap between reality and promise will sadly continue. President Assad has announced a big reform programme, several times. It’s got a lot of stuff in it that sounds pretty good. Some laws are indeed being passed, and there are more to come. But when you read the fine print, what you tend to find is that every path that’s signposted towards increased freedom and openness actually winds back to a chokepoint. Every avenue leads to a regime official who only lets through what he’s told to let through. Everyone else has to turn back. Or face the consequences.

Shine a light

Even so, brave individuals continue to find ways through to get out video clips that show Syrian security forces firing into crowds of unarmed protesters, or abusing detainees – you can search for them on YouTube. I’m constantly amazed at their skill, daring and ingenuity in finding ways to capture and upload pictures of events on the ground in something close to real time. Regime attempts to dismiss most of this as the fabrications of a foreign conspiracy are absurd.

But without context, it can be hard to make sense of jumpy grainy images. And tragically, repetition dulls the senses. Unless we have some information about what’s happening and why, we risk forgetting that another day, another death is real. It is not just an image of people in a street we don’t recognise, in a town we’ve never been to, chanting slogans in a language that perhaps we don’t understand.

That’s where I hope to come into the picture. As far as I’m concerned this blog will be worth it if it helps to get a discussion going – on this page, with your friends, or even just inside your head – about what’s happening, why it’s happening, and why it matters. Thanks for sticking with me this far. I hope you’ll want to take a look at the next instalment.

Inside Damascus, a city on edge

By Lyse Doucet BBC News, Damascas

Syria is no different from many countries across the Arab world engulfed this year in unprecedented protests.

But getting in to tell this story has been far more difficult. Reporting restrictions means there have been few journalists here to witness this story firsthand.

A rare official permission to enter means we can now report from the ground, albeit with a government minder at our side on the streets.

The roads of Damascus are still choked with traffic. The ancient old city, with its maze of narrow alleys, hasn’t lost its charm or bustle.

Syrians still throng the cobbled streets in the covered markets, browsing in stalls selling everything from fashionable head scarves to the latest fashion in tight-fitting sequined jeans.

But beneath the surface, this is clearly a city on edge, with a people worried about an uncertain future.

Business is bad. Most factories are only paying about 65% of the salaries and have had to lay off employees.

Government supporter confronts Lyse Doucet: “You are not telling the truth about Syria… Syria is very quiet”

“We’re suffering and we know its going to get worse and worse before it ends,” said one of Syria’s top business executives who, like most people, would only speak off the record.

Worried about future

There are almost no tourists in what was once a choice destination for travellers. Some owners of the delightful boutique hotels opened in recent years told us they may be forced to close.

“I am worried about the days that are coming, worried about business, money, our life here. I hope it will be fixed soon,” said one shopkeeper who approached us in the old city.

How would he fix it? “I love [President] Bashar al-Assad. We give him not one chance, but 100 chances to bring about change.”

Another man standing next to an array of burlap sacks brimming with Syrian nuts and dried fruit, turned on us, shouting that the foreign news channels were lying.

“You are not telling the truth about Syria. Everyone loves the president. Twenty-three million people love him.” he said angrily.

Asked about the growing protests, in cities and towns outside Damascus, he conceded maybe “10,000 don’t like him”. He used the phrase used by the government that the protesters are mostly “armed gangs”.

Iranian tourists shop for toys in the old city - 24 September There are few tourists left in a once popular destination

In a country where it’s never been easy to ask Syrians about politics in public, the only people who wanted to speak openly were those who expressed what seemed to be genuine support for their 46-year-old president. Bashar al-Assad took over from his father Hafez al-Assad on his death in 2000.

But it’s impossible to know what people really think in the midst of such tension. One man who insisted there were “no problems” quickly changed his tune once the government minder was out of earshot. “I can’t tell you what I really think,” he whispered furtively.

There is no visible security presence in the centre of Damascus, but plainclothes police are known to be everywhere. We begin to spot a few familiar faces.

Syria’s immediate harsh response to protests, including the revival of a militia deployed during protests in the 1980s, has blocked protesters here from capturing a strategic square in the heart of the city.

‘One family’

But there have been growing protests, and violent clashes, including targeted killings, in some of the suburbs.

There have also been brave acts of defiance closer to the centre, but even the occasional bold unfurling of a flag or banner has been suppressed within moments.

Portrait of President Assad on a Damascus street - 24 September The only people prepared to speak were those who supported President Assad

Colourful banners festooning the streets at key intersections proclaim: “Dialogue is the only way to resolve our problems.”

In one glass-fronted shop, we see a new selection of Bashar al-Assad memorabilia alongside the shiny posters of him which have always been ubiquitous. Now there are key chains, and ceramic plates and stickers with “I love Bashar” and “Proud to be Syrian”.

“It’s the truth,” says the shopkeeper who comes out to talk to us. ”

The naufara coffee shop, lying in the shadow of the grand Ummayad mosque, is still packed night and day with Damascenes drinking sweet dark coffee and smoking the popular water tobacco.

The city’s only traditional storyteller still holds court, recounting epic Arab tales of ancient conflicts and heroes of old.

“All Syrians are one family and we have a good future,” effused storyteller Shadi Rashid al-Khallah when I asked him about Syria’s current story.

But it’s a story that’s still being written and is still hard to tell.

Listening Post : Al Jazeera’s change of guard

click on image

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