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October 2012

IDF “The goal is to instill fear”


A soldier learns that creative punishments are best, so that Palestinians never know what to expect or what the consequences of their actions will be.
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Rightists and Leftists Against the Revolution

Ziad Majed

12 September 2012

Why do racist European right-wingers and some factions belonging to the far left find a common ground in their hostility towards the Syrian revolution?

For a while now, that same question has been posing itself on many friends shocked by the positions and comments of writers and reporters united in viciously criticizing the revolution, not out of concern nor “neutrality”, nor even as a result of their rejection of the revolution’s errors and impurities, which certainly exist and are plentiful.

Let us push the question even further. Why is the Syrian revolution unable to mobilize the activist segments of global or “Western” civil society, even though the media and public opinion generally empathize with it?

The answer seems compound, and is based on a combination of factors which control aspects of the political and cultural viewpoint of the Arab region, as well as political and moral criteria governing many of the attitudes and writings concerned with the region. As a result of these factors, sympathy or solidarity with the revolution seems minute compared to the brazen attacks, skepticism and perseverance of those holding hostile views.

One of those factors is the fear which prevents many political players from taking a stand towards “conflicts” in the “complicated” Middle East, where wars and crises accumulate and religious tendencies intensify, spreading their effects across the Mediterranean, inevitably reaching it northern shores.

There is also the prevalence of the “culturalistic doctrines” when comparing world issues and conflicts, particularly those associated with Arabs and their countries. Arabs appear to those “culturalistic” folks as people who habitually resort to violence in solving their conflicts, while drawing from a well of religious extremism, making it difficult to bet on their readiness to evolve towards democracy or to break free of the burdens of ‘Eastern despotism’. The severe violence associated with the Syrian conflict is therefore no exception in the context of the persistent ‘civil wars’ of the region, nor does it command surprise or urgent action.

Another factor is ‘Islamophobia’, shared by the extreme right (for racist reasons) and certain leftwing factions (who hide behind the excuse of defending freedoms and secularism). That is how writers from the far right meet with some of those on the far left in supporting Assad’s tyranny under the pretext of his hostility to the Islamists (the former) and his ‘secularism’ (the latter). In addition of both sides, there are those who are obsessed with the issue of ‘minorities’, perpetuating miserable tales of the threats and resentment posed by the majority.

This makes it easy for many political activists, especially students amongst them, to surrender to conspiracy theories and what they offer in terms of suspense, as well as pride garnered by understanding the “secrets” behind things, always stressing the malevolence of international relations. It used to be that leftist groups were more susceptible to becoming addicted to such theories. Now, however, the extreme right has also embraced them, especially those pertaining to ‘jihadist Islamic’ conspiracies, as well as international organizations being dens for plots which target the national makeup of countries, breaching their borders and sovereignty.

Another factor lies in the disdain of certain progressive ‘prominent’ writers, who hold influence over public opinion, from dealing in the issues of people, and their dignities and freedoms. What they are concerned with are borders, oil and geo-strategies, as well as the influential roles of regional countries and the ‘West’s’ decisions concerning them. Some of them surely look at Russia and China contemplating the return of the Cold War. In this they border on being racist even if they are looking at things from the perspective of ‘fighting for the best interests of Arab countries’. This is because they deal with these countries as entities that lack real people with flesh and blood and rights, or as if their citizens were deaf and dumb masses driven and misled by ‘Western’ plans and lies, and all that is required of those citizens is to rally around those who can protect them (or claim to protect them) from the Imperialist attack, even if they are to be crushed in order to thwart the success of these foreign conspiracies!

Another reason is the refrain of those intellectuals who championed the Palestinian cause with audacity and relentlessness from expressing advocacy of the Syrian revolution under the pretext of fear from Syria being torn apart or the spread of chaos in a way which would benefit Israel and America.

Finally, these factors also include the readiness of writers who have built fame and credibility over decades by residing in the region and opposing their countries’ policies towards it, to lie and be hypocrites in return for continued spotlight, battling and contradicting what they deem prevalent in their countries’ media, even if it, along with their governments, this time do not go against the ‘humane’ standpoints which those writers have had always called for to be taken into account.

We can also add to the aforementioned factors others which are linked to the boredom that has hit Western public opinion towards the Arab Spring phenomena, especially after the Muslim Brotherhood won elections in Egypt and Tunisia, and after the war in Libya, as well as the long time the Syrian revolution is taking. We can also note the geographical distance of the Middle East (in comparison to the geography and demography of North Africa). We can also talk of the skepticism held by many towards the Qatari and Saudi role in Syria and their worry that the situation will lead to the lack of stability in the entire region, as well as in Israel at its core. We must also not forget the efforts of the Syrian regime and its Lebanese and Arab allies, as well as some paid European experts, in peddling fabricated articles and information regarding the revolution and its plans as well as the horrors that threaten Christians and warnings of a repeat of the Iraqi scenario.

The bottom line is that the Syrian revolution today is not only facing Assad’s brutal regime, but also its supporters, Russia, China and Iran, and is on top of those up against a considerable amount of rotten concepts that alternate between racism, indifference and moral disease striking the hearts of certain leftists and ‘anti-imperialists’.

Even more, the Syrian revolution until now does not have a sound political leadership or a media apparatus with which it can deal with all the aforementioned factors. In return, however, the revolution does have legendary courage, as well as intellectuals, artists and activists with exceptional creativity, wisdom and nobility. It also has a reservoir of patience and hope which makes its ability to endure difficult to deplete, no thanks to any of its (ungenerous) allies.

Visit Ziad Majed’s blog for the original article in Arabic


Syria : genocide or civil war ?


The Century of the Self by Idrees

I am moving material from my old blog to PULSE and since Adam Curtis comes up in so many conversations on the media, I am starting by reposting his classic documentary on the PR industry. The Century of the Self.  ‘Adam Curtis’ acclaimed series examines the rise of the all-consuming self against the backdrop of […]

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The debate and Syria


Debate Ends Abruptly as Obama Punches Romney in Face

  • The Borowitz Report
October 22, 2012
Posted by
obama-debate-233.jpgBOCA RATON (The Borowitz Report)—The third and final Presidential debate ended in dramatic fashion tonight as President Obama punched Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the face, knocking him unconscious before a national television audience.

As Mr. Romney lay motionless on the floor at Lynn University with 35:06 remaining in regulation, moderator Bob Schieffer declared the debate over, calling Mr. Obama’s punch “a clean shot.”

The President’s uncharacteristic explosion of anger came after Mr. Romney repeatedly needled him about going on a global “apology tour” on behalf of the U.S.

As the former Massachusetts Governor continued his harangue, TV viewers witnessed Mr. Obama glaring at his Republican opponent, a vein visibly throbbing on the President’s forehead.

Still, few observers were prepared for the sight of Mr. Obama leaping across the table and cold-cocking Mr. Romney, dropping him to the floor.

Moments later, Vice-President Joe Biden jumped onstage to congratulate Mr. Obama with a jubilant high-five.

“You literally cleaned his clock,” Mr. Biden said. “I only wish I’d done the same thing to that punk Ryan.”

After the debate, the usually mild-mannered Obama was at pains to explain why exactly he had struck Mr. Romney in the face: “I guess I just couldn’t take it any more, and I sort of snapped. It wasn’t optimal. But he was being such a dick.”

Minutes after Mr. Romney was carried out on a stretcher, the debate was declared a victory for Mr. Obama by all the major networks except Fox News, who called it a draw.

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Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP

Bashar as God

This video explains to what level Syria has arrived. Syrian soldiers threaten to beat a young man as they make him chant that he loves Bashar and accepts him as God. They smile among themselves in self affirmation and mirth, as they terrify the teenager. He is cowering blindfolded against a wall. Bashar al-Assad claims his soldiers are fighting “fundamentalists” even as they impose their religion of al-Assad on terrified Syrians. The Salafis cannot be worse. This sort of video has become a trope. They have popped up with terrifying regularity since the first months of the revolution and express the ideological endgame of the regime. Assad is God



No More Israel in 10 Years

By on 10/22/2012

Maybe Kissinger is right. Privately and secretly perhaps the dog is beginning to bark.

No More Israel in 10 Years

On September 17, the New York Post quoted saying:

“In 10 years, there will be no more . I repeat: In 10 years, there will be no more .”

He didn’t mean Israel will self-destruct or collapse. His view mirrors the combined assessment of 16 US intelligence agencies. Months earlier, its report headlined “Preparing For A Post Israel Middle East.” It wasn’t released publicly so no link.

It concluded that Washington’s national interest is at odds with Israel. The so-called special relationship is counterproductive. What benefits Israel geopolitically often harms America.

full article here

We condemn Israel. So why the silence on Syria? |

Jonathan Freedland

A Free Syrian Army fighter carries a baby, the only survivor in his family after an artillery round destroyed his home in Aleppo this month. Photograph: Sipa USA/Rex Features
A Free Syrian Army fighter carries a baby, the only survivor in his family after an artillery round destroyed his home in Aleppo this month. Photograph: Sipa USA/Rex Features

Read by 243 people

Friday 19 October 2012

When Israelis kill Arabs there is outrage. But Assad’s brutal campaign has cost 30,000 lives and there’ve been no protests

We know the government hopes to do nothing, but what about the rest of us? Exactly one year after the death of Muammar Gaddafi, the chances of another round of Libya-style western military intervention, this time for Syria, hover close to zero. Even the hawkish Mitt Romney promises no such thing. Few politicians speak even of non-military options – of which there are many – let alone taking up arms.

They say nothing because there is no pressure on them to say anything. Here and abroad, there is virtual silence, save for the desperate pleas of a few Syrian expats and yesterday’s cry for humanitarian help from the Turkish foreign minister. We know the facts, and we know what Bashar al-Assad has done since demonstrators took to the streets to protest against his rule 19 months ago. He and his forces have pursued a campaign of the most chilling brutality, using fighter planes to bomb civilian neighbourhoods, capturing, starving and torturing children as young as six, according to Save the Children, and racking up an estimated death toll of 30,000 victims.

People know all this but stay mute. Not that they should be demanding immediate military action. After Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, people are justifiably both weary and wary, with many regarding action in Syria as a practical impossibility. I understand that. But what I can’t comprehend is the lack of public pressure on those doing the actual killing – starting with the Assad regime. Instead, public opinion seems utterly disengaged, unbothered by the slaughter under way in Aleppo, Homs and Damascus.

There are no mass demonstrations outside the Syrian embassy in London. The story is rarely on the front page or on the TV bulletins. Even when there is a shocking atrocity, such as the Daraya massacre of up to 400 people in August, it makes only a fleeting impact. There is no Disaster Emergency Committee appeal. At the Labour party conference, there were fringe meetings on every possible subject, from teenage spending habits to domestic pets. But there was not a single session focused solely on Syria – and this in the party that calls itself internationalist.

It’s not as if this is par for the course, that we never get exercised by the loss of innocent life in the Middle East. We do. Nearly four years ago Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, designed to halt Hamas rocket fire from Gaza. It resulted in some 1,400 Palestinian deaths. For nearly a month that story was never off the front page, and it often led the TV news, here and around the world. There were large and loud public demonstrations. The DEC set up a fund and sought to air a televised appeal, famously refused by the BBC.

There is no such clamour now. The Stop the War Coalition is not summoning thousands to central London to demand an end to the fighting, as it did then. On the contrary, its statements are content simply to oppose western intervention – of which there is next to no prospect – while politely refusing to condemn Assad’s war on his own people. Caryl Churchill has not written a new play, Seven Syrian Children, exploring the curious mindset of the Alawite people that makes them capable of such horrors, the way she rushed to the stage to probe the Jewish psyche in 2009. The slaughter in Syria has similarly failed to move the poet Tom Paulin to pick up his pen. Apparently, these Syrian deaths are not worthy of artistic note. The contrast has struck Robert Fisk, no defender of Israel. He puts it baldly: “[T]he message that goes out is simple: we demand justice and the right to life for Arabs if they are butchered by the west and its Israeli allies, but not when they are being butchered by their fellow Arabs.”

Plenty resist that explanation. Some say the lethargy of both the public and anti-war left is due to the fact that Syria is now locked in a civil conflict, making it hard to tell good guys from bad guys. Yet NGOs were swamped with cash donations during the Kosovo crisis: the public did not write that off as a mere internal Balkan problem. Besides, though it’s a civil war now, with both sides armed, for several months it was much more straightforward: peaceful demonstrators killed in cold blood. Yet few rallied to the Syrian people’s cause then either.

Others wonder if Gaza in 2008-9 stirred greater outrage because it was such an intense episode, unfolding in a matter of weeks, while Syria has been a drip-drip horror story played out over nearly two years. But this hardly stacks up. Awful to speak in such terms, but the killing rate has been more, not less, intense in Syria: witness that massacre of 400 in a single day.

Anxious for answers, I called Lindsey German of Stop the War, who told me the organisation was not active on Syria because that “isn’t Stop the War’s job”. Its focus is on what “Britain and the US are doing”. Why, then, was it so vocal on Gaza? Because the west “was very much in support of the Israelis, so it was very different”. (In fact, Britain did not support Operation Cast Lead but called for a ceasefire.) She adds that the Palestinian question “has its own dynamic, which isn’t true of any other country”.

The trouble is, such thinking surely leads to a very parochial form of internationalism – turning a blind eye to all those areas of the globe where one’s own government is not involved. And that’s if such a rule were applied consistently – which it is not.

The last argument is a variation on the civil war one: Syria is now mired in a viciously sectarian conflict, Alawites and their allies against Sunnis and the rest, which makes it impossible for outsiders to take sides. But such logic rapidly falls into the moral hole identified by Fisk, in which a Muslim death matters less when the killer is a fellow Muslim.

Of course we reserve a special kind of outrage for the targeting of one ethnic group by another. Yet there is a risk here. It’s not simply a bias against Jews that regards an Arab or Muslim death as only deserving condemnation when Israel is responsible. It is demeaning of Arabs and Muslims themselves – implying that when members of those groups kill each other it somehow carries little moral weight. Such a view is not defensible, especially among those who would consider themselves to be enlightened or progressive. Every life has equal worth, no matter who’s doing the dying – or who’s doing the killing.

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