Passing the Torch to a New Generation of Syrians

Postwar Reconstruction Looms…

by FRANKLIN LAMB
Damascus
Almanar

Syria flagFew, one imagines, in the Syrian Arab Republic these days  question the urgency and enormity of the task of  reconstruction of their ancient country from war inflicted destruction caused by a carnage  already more than half as long as World War I and approaching half as long as World War II.
For this ten millennium civilization and its thousands of priceless treasures, many partially destroyed, emergency efforts are needed today to preserve and protect the structures from thieves and war damage. Not many here would disagree with this priority of the Syrian government.
Historic sites damages or  in danger  include several  among those listed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List registry including:

 Ancient City of Aleppo (1986), 

 Ancient City of Bosra (1980

Ancient City of Damascus(1979),

Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (2011)

Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (2006)

Site of Palmyra (1980). 
And Centuries-old markets and archaeological treasures have already been gutted by flames and gunfire in places like Aleppo and Homs. Examining and discussing in Syria and Lebanon, some of the assessments of damage now being painstakingly documented,  as well as  pursuing some summaries of the  data and analysis from on-the-scene government investigators,  it is clear that plans for reconstruction at the earliest possible opportunity are being readied. Taking the lead, and poised to help, is the Syrian population as well as officials exhibiting pent up kinesis waiting to be released at the first sign of a credible cease fire so as to begin to rebuild their country.Reconstruction of Syria will be aided by three regime reshuffles since the beginning of the March 2011 uprising, which has infused much ‘new blood’ into the Syrian government. This process includes more than 20 changes at the ministerial level in recent months, in some cases replacing well entrenched and influential, if slightly fossilized, political operatives with overboard government roles from decades past. The bold reformist initiative is designed to reshuffle the corridors of power and have one claimed goal: To push and achieve reform.

More than a few officials have advised this observer of their deep convictions and their commitments for reforms which they note are spreading inside as well as outside government.  “God knows we made serious mistakes and misjudgments and we will be judged by God for our failures. But in the meantime we need to reform for our people, families and for our own self-respect.  And we are constructing massive reforms here in Syria which are not yet apparent but that will surprise many and please more.  We are Syrians! We know what is right and that changes and reforms are overdue and what our duty is!”

Last month’s most recent infusion of  7 Minsters, known for their competence  not  political pedigree,  include several ‘independents’  intended, according to one adviser to Syria’s President Assad,  to bring much needed new blood and energy to the leadership. Their mandate is to face the current challenges straight on while eschewing entangling perceived political obligations from the past.  These ‘best and the brightest’  are being empowered here to help rebuild Syria, it was explained to this observer  by two university professors as being a government priority but without the American best and brightest noblesse oblige arrogance  and fascist tendencies of the Bundy brothers and McNamara’s ‘whiz kids’ from the 1960’s.
The most recent changes have included bringing in the following gentlemen (why no women!) who are known for their competence rather than simply as stalwarts of the ruling Baath party.
Qadri Jamil: Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs
– Malek Ali: Minister of Higher Education
– Khodr Orfali: Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade
– Kamal Eddin Tu’ma: Minister of Industry
– Samir Izzat Qadi Amin: Minister of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection
Bishr Riyad Yazigi: Minister of Tourism
– Hassib Elias Shammas: Minister of State, replacing Najm Eddin Khreit.
One of the “new breed” of Syrian public servants is Bishr Riyad Yazigi, a non-Baathist, independent Member of Parliament, who appears  beholden only to his vision of restoring Syria and its vital tourism industry, as part of rebuilding his country, and  for which he was appointed  Minister on 8/22/13.
 
Minister Yazigi, who I first met up on Mount Quisoun several weeks ago, is distinctively Kennedyesque in his good looks, charm, vigor, progressive ideas and charisma.
A businessman, born in Aleppo in 1972, is currently the youngest member of the Assad Cabinet, land like others, is not a Baath Party member. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Informatics Engineering from Aleppo University (1995) and is an independent member of the People’s Assembly (Syrian Parliament) for Aleppo city. He is married and has three children.
Yazigi is reputed to spend these days often working around the clock to rebuild Syria’s tourist industry.  “Not just to help our economy, even though tourism brought in more than $8 billion annually before the crisis two and one half years ago,” one official who admires Yazigi explained, “But the Tourism Ministry is working to reconnect to the World  the way we Syrians used to reach out.  Syria’s treasures, from the cradle of civilization that we are, fundamentally belong to all of humanity and please accept our promise that we will do our best to repair all damage to the antiquities and will welcome every assistance as we shall welcome every visitor again before long, enshallah (God willing).”
Earlier this month, Minister Yaziqui stressed to a gathering of “Loyalty to Syria” members anxious to start rebuilding their country, the importance of NGO’s in revealing the reality of events in Syria to global public opinion and pledged to work with them to present the image of Syria as a tourist destination given its richness with historical and religious monuments. Meeting members of “Loyalty to Syria” Initiative, he pointed out that the Tourism Ministry is working to show the image of Syria as a tourist destination of unparalleled richness of historical and religious monuments and that all Syrian must redouble their efforts to achieve their goals of “boosting the social values and developing national capacity to serve the best interest of Syria.”
The Syrian reformers tasks  are daunting.  Yet so were those, admittedly on a smaller scale, that faced Lebanon following 33 days of near carpeting bombing by the Israeli government employing, as they have done for more than three decades, a vast array of American weapons gifted by American taxpayers with neither their knowledge, consent nor opportunity to object.
The cost of rebuilding Syria is perhaps incalculable. The Syrian government announced this week that it has earmarked 50 billion Syrian pounds ($250 million) for reconstruction next year in the war-torn country. For 2013, the figure was 300 billion Syrian pounds. ($ 1.2 billion).
But these sums are a drop in the bucket.
According to Syrian real estate experts, including Ammar Yussef, if the war in Syria suddenly stopped and reconstruction began today, around $73 billion would be needed to put the country back on track. Yussef, insists that the bombings, fighting and sabotage of infrastructure during the conflict has as of August 30, 2013, partially or completely destroyed 1.5 million dwellings. If the rebuilding were to start today, led by the new ‘reform team’ it would include rebuilding more than 11,000   sites, some being full blocks, requiring 15,000 trucks, 10,000 cement mixers and more than six million skilled workers.
A  U.S.-educated economist, Abdullah al-Dardari, now working with Beirut-based UN development agency, claims that more than two years of fighting have cost Syria at least $60 billion and caused the vital oil industry to crumble. A quarter of all homes have been destroyed or severely damaged, and much of the medical system is in ruins.
Al Dardari’s team estimates the overall damage to Syria’s economy, three years into the conflict, at $60-$80 billion. Syria’s economy has shrunk by about 35 percent, compared to the 6 percent annual growth Syria marked in the five years before the conflict began in March 2011. The economy has lost nearly 40 percent of its GDP, and foreign reserves have been extensively depleted.  As noted above, unemployment has shot up from 500,000 before the crisis to at least 2.5 million this year. The fighting has destroyed or damaged 1.2 million homes nationwide, a quarter of all Syrian houses, al-Dardari claims. In addition, around 3,000 schools and 2,000 factories have been destroyed, and almost half of the medical system — including hospitals and health centers — is in ruins. Before the uprising, the oil sector was a pillar of Syria’s economy, with the country producing about 380,000 barrels a day and exports — mostly to Europe — bringing in more than $3 billion in 2010. But the vital industry has buckled as rebels captured many of the country’s oil fields, setting wells aflame and looters scooping up crude. Exports have ground practically to a standstill as production has dwindled.
Syria does have vital labor resource to perform high quality reconstruction and her workers are ready to begin today given that the current unemployment in Syria noted above, according to this observers’ interlocutors at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Industry. Syrian workers are perhaps the best and most reliable in the world.  Well known for building and maintaining Lebanon and the Levant, even though currently paid one half to one third what less productive nationals receive.
Despite the enormous challenges, there appears some light on the horizon if those governments involving themselves in the Syria crisis and wringing their hands at the toll of human misery and destruction, will achieve a permanent ceasefire during the current thaw in serious communications.
The new generation of officials entrusted with Syria’s salvation and reconstruction appear to be in place and are anxious to be allowed into the war zones. The politician’s duties are to open their paths without further delays
Franklin Lamb volunteers with the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program (SSSP) in Shatila Camp (www.sssp-lb.com) and is reachable c/o fplamb@gmail.com
Source: Al-Manar Website
28-09-2013 – 14:52 Last updated 28-09-2013 – 14:52
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Me, Gilad Atzmon and the ‘Truth’

Introduction by Gilad Atzmon: Roy Bard is a known figure within Britain’s far left, anti-war and the Palestinian Solidarity Movement. He is a member of the Indymedia UK collective, a leading British anti-capitalist media outlet. I first encountered Bard five years ago.  At the time the site was subjected to an international Jewish ‘anti’-Zionist campaign: a cabal of ethnic activists demanded that Indymedia deleted my articles.  Being a principled man, Bard didn’t bow to their pressure. Bard has been subjected to a malicious slanderous campaign ever since.

The article below is about sadness – if the personal is political, as some progressives insist, this article is an intimate insight into the medium in which such a transition takes place. It reveals the measures of brutality and intolerance that are unfortunately intrinsic to the Jewish Left. I was really moved when I read this article.

Me, Gilad Atzmon and the’Truth’

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/

By Freethepeeps aka Roy Bard
Roy Bard and Gilad Atzmon - London 25/9/13
Roy Bard and Gilad Atzmon – London 25/9/13

“Were you tortured by your own thirst
In those pleasures that you seek
That made you Tom the curious
That makes you James the weak?”
Rodriguez (Searching for Sugarman)- Crucify Your Mind

Me:

I was born in Johannesburg, Apartheid South Africa in 1960. My mom was a trainee nurse and she met my dad while he was recovering from an accident in which he had lost a leg. She was 19, him 28 (I think). Before he left the hospital she was pregnant – with me. They tried to build a life together but it didn’t work out. When I was two and a half, he took a car out and put a hosepipe from the exhaust to the window. An aunt tells me she talked him out of taking me with him. It would have saved me much pain if she hadn’t – conversely it would have caused others even more pain. Life is so complicated.

My dad’s suicide led to me being put into the care system and being moved from pillar to post until shortly before I was 5 when I was adopted by a dysfunctional couple, as a substitute for the children they thought they couldn’t have. By this time, I was a very disturbed little boy and my adoptive father, who was an immigrant from the UK, thought he could beat the disturbance out of me. My mother egged him on – and I learnt to dislike her even more than I hated him…

The more he beat me, the more disturbed I became,
The more disturbed I became, the more he beat me
– how’s that for a vicious circle?

Here are two defining moments that spring out from the time I spent with them. (By the time I was 11 I was mainly back in institutions, and back to moving from pillar to post).

When I was around 8 or 9 I had cause to go to our maid’s room, which was about 15 yards from the adoptive folks’ very comfortable and large suburban house outside of Durban. Her room was cramped, and blackened by candle smoke because she didn’t have electricity – it was furnished with cheap furniture and very little of it. I asked my adoptive Mother why our maid lived in such terrible conditions, and she replied:

“They have different needs to us.”

Even at that age I knew that was a blatant lie and thus I learned to question what was going on around me and came to an understanding that none of us should be treated as a lesser being, nor judged, nor subjected to abuse and poverty or even death because of who brought us into this world ………. Perhaps because of my own disturbance I was unable to muster the supremacist ego of the racists around me – and I was further marginalised for not being one of them…… It is one of the greatest tragedies of my life, that my birth brother, from whom I was separated in my toddler-hood, and only found again a quarter of a century later, did become one of them, and still is. I love him so dearly – but our political differences prevent us from enjoying each other.

A year or so later I had done something else ‘naughty’ and my father was punching and kicking me around my room.

Him: “What are you?”
Me: “I don’t know.” (He beats me for not knowing).
Him: “You’re a yellow liver bellied snake.” (He beats me for being this).
Him: “What are you?”
Me: “I’m a yellow liver bellied snake.”* (He beats me worse than before)…
Him: “No child of mine ever talks about themselves like that…”
(*This is why I don’t believe torture can ever do any good whatsoever)

This may help those of you who know me to understand more about the tortured, disturbed, sometimes shy, sometimes outrageous, difficult individual that I have grown to be. It may help you understand why I have problems forming attachments, building relationships, accepting authority and believing that the world is an okay place….. why I have spent the last decade mired in a deep depression from which I am still struggling (so far without any success whatsoever) to emerge.

“Smile they said, things could be worse, so I did and they were….”
One of my mantras

My experiences have led to me search for ways to build a better world – I was a liberal until I knew better – I believed that I could be part of changing the world into a better place – but the harder I tried the worse it seemed to become. I thought I had found a ‘spiritual home’ and a group I belonged to when I discovered Anarchism and Direct Action, but like all my relationships it became problematic as I discovered that this group too was riddled with hypocrisies, double standards and, as it turned out, a rather distorted sense of what freedom means……. The systemic problems of the society and system I live in were mirrored in the very group that was trying to free itself from them. As I think Kurt Vonnegut might say, “How do you like them apples?”

Gilad Atzmon and the ‘Truth’

Gilad was a key part of accelerating that disenchantment – he has taught me so much and cost me so much…… I love him like the birth brother I am prevented from loving – although I have only met him a few times and we are in no sense close friends….. we too have political differences but at least we can try talking about them – and sometimes we even resolve them. Sometimes we tackle issues together – for most of the time I remain connected to him through his writings, which I read often – I must have read most of what he has written by now, and there is lots of it.

I understand that truth too is myth – even what we have seen with our own eyes, and experienced with our own lives, and which seems blatantly true to us, changes when we come to understand the motivations and reasons for the parts that other actors played in the event. It shifts as we learn more, and as we realise that our own issues have clouded our interpretation. Our culture, our upbringing and our personal pain all affect how we experience the world, and how we perceive it. I know this but Ali Abunimah, it seems, has yet to learn it….. as have others.

So, this is how I see Gilad and understand his work. It is part of an evolving view and it is possible that in time I may see it all completely differently. Gilad himself may identify with parts of it, and disagree with other parts. He may even help to change my view of him…… and maybe I can help change his view of him – all things are possible.

Like me, Gilad was born in an Apartheid society – in his case Israel. I should tell you that one of our key differences is around whether or not Israel is an Apartheid state – I am an Aye – he is a Nay. Unlike me, he bought into it as a kid. It was only when he was coming to the end of his time in the misleadingly named Israeli Defence Force, where he was a medic and musician, that he had cause to go to Lebanon and see the conditions that Palestinian prisoners were kept in. This led him to start questioning all that he had learnt and the society in which he grew up.

He left Israel and moved to Europe where he developed his music and also studied philosophy and did some training in psychotherapy. He found himself profoundly influenced by Otto Weineger, a disturbed and brilliant soul who wrote some disgusting stuff and killed himself at a very young age.
Influenced by Weineger, Gilad began examining himself – a process of looking into the mirror, and examining what he didn’t like about himself in minute detail. He came to think that Jewish identity was a part of his problem, and his study of this aspect of himself was further developed when he expanded his navel gazing to include a small but influential group of Jewish anti-Zionists, centred mainly in London where he also lives, and whom he publicly attacked after they (JAZ) started attacking a group whom he discovered were also critically exploring the issue of Jewish ideology, often in an very offensive and unpleasant way. The group included Paul Eisen and Israel Shamir. I am not very clear on how close they were, or the interactions between them, but it does seem that they were all influenced by each other, and learnt from each other.

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long for accusations of anti-Semitism to start flying around – and for destruction to occur. The more the group developed their critique of Jewish Power, it seems the more Jewish Power was unleashed in an attempt to marginalise and destroy them. Gilad chose to face the onslaught full on, and despite serious attempts to marginalise and destroy him, he continues to develop his critique of them, their ideology and their power. He still works as an accomplished and popular Jazz musician and his writings are widely read – Erdogan even quoted him once which caused a major furore, and some respectable and respected individuals such as Richard Falk and Mearsheimer have been seriously attacked for coming out in support of his work. I too have been under sustained attack by Jewish anti-Zionists and Zionists alike.

The attempts to silence Gilad have been sustained and brutal, and it is difficult to read him if your introduction is the out of context snippets circulated with the intention of destroying him.
An example of this: I went to the launch of his book – and was met with the spectacle of folk I have been involved in BDS actions with, picketing the meeting and handing out a leaflet, written by arch rival Tony Greenstein which claimed to be snippets of the book (The wandering who says ….) They were not from the book at all. In order to attend the launch, I had to cross a picket line of people I have previously faced arrest with, and that pretty much ended my involvement as an activist who had been intensely involved in BDS Direct Actions. I now share many of Gilad’s reservations about, and critiques of BDS… although I continue to believe that every attempt should be made to isolate Israel as a brutal, Apartheid state.

Indymedia UK, a project I have a long association with, has been profoundly damaged by an insistence that it ban Atzmon, which didn’t happen, partly because I opposed the demand. It seems to me that if Indymedia UK lived up to its own aims and intentions it would be a good forum for the debate he is trying to launch – but it proved to be moribund by its own inconsistencies, and has so far not been able to stand up to the attacks on it by Atzmon’s opponents.

Recently my attention has been mainly focused on the brutal attack on the poor in the UK, currently being orchestrated by the nasties in the coalition, and their dismantling of all that made Britain a bearable place to live for those like me who feel unable to cope in the countries of their birth. I haven’t been writing on Palestine, and haven’t been involved in activism around it. I avoid demos because of the intense victimisation I have suffered at the hands of the police – who have helped me understand that the police are the enemy of freedom, and that for as long as we have police we cannot be free.

I have been horrified by how muted the so-called radical Left’s response has been to these brutal attacks on our own society’s most vulnerable. At times it has seemed as if I am back in an Apartheid state, with much of the left being in the position that Liberal white South Africans found themselves in – they knew it was wrong, but they were benefiting enough from it not to want seriously to destroy it. I have personally been affected by the cuts to services that have hindered my own attempts to free myself enough from my own disturbances and depression so that I can find a way of being in this world that allows to me function in a better way than I am able to now… In order that I don’t spend much of my time wishing I could go to sleep and never wake up, or fighting strong suicidal impulses.
I am wondering if it is even possible to be well-adjusted in a maladjusted world. If being well-adjusted means accepting inequality and injustice and allowing it to flourish, then I guess my project is doomed to failure.

If you believe the hype about Atzmon, as represented by his rivals, then he aims to turn us all into jack-booted racists. I know enough about him to think this is preposterous, and I am beginning to believe that part of what makes them most uncomfortable and angry about him – all that he hates most about the way that his Jewish upbringing has affected him – makes them profoundly uncomfortable about themselves too because, when we are confronted with parts of ourselves that repulse us, we often lash out.

I do believe that Gilad is part of a much wider struggle towards a world where we can live in dignity, and at peace with one another – for a while he ended all his performances with “What a wonderful World”. In any case, any new and improved society will have to include all, including those who offend us, disturb us or are from the far Right, regardless of whether we like them or not.

At the least Atzmon opens a debate that I think needs to be had – and which has been censored at a major cost to many – but he has chipped away at it and it seems to me that the debate is beginning to open up.

Despite all the time I have spent reading Atzmon, and listening to him, and recording him, I still don’t hate anyone on the basis that their mother or father happened to be Jewish. In fact, some of the most influential and loved people in my life fall into that category. So if his opponents are right about his project then it appears to be a failed project.

If his project is the deJudaization of Atzmon, it too is doomed to failure because his upbringing is central to who he is now. But his argument that people need to find a way of understanding and reducing the influence of the environments we grew up in and relinquishing the identities foisted upon us by them, has some validity in it, and it does seem that an increasing number of Jews are starting to explore the path.

I am out of energy – follow the links if you want to know more – and read Atzmon if you are able to open your mind enough to hear what he has to say, or perhaps start by listening to his music. If you insist on judging him solely on what his opponents say, then you aren’t going to be able to do it. And if you insist that you will only relate to me if I denounce him and stop reading his writings, then farewell until such time that you are ready to allow me the freedom to follow my own instincts and respect my right to live a life with as much integrity as I can muster.

I will end with one more part of my truth.

When I arrived at my adoptive home – having been stripped of my mother, my father, my brother, my home and my culture – they tried to rename me. Even at 5 I was stubborn enough to refuse to answer to the new name they wanted to foist onto me.

In my essence I am still that stubborn kid, who insists on being himself and I still thirst for a world which is propelled by a desire to meet need, not greed – where we do our utmost to ensure the dignity of all, and where we do not have states and corporations that rob so many of so much.

Maybe we’re part of the same struggle – but I have to do it my way – and that may sometimes make you uncomfortable. It certainly causes me great personal discomfort and costs me much.

If you read this far, I hope it has helped you understand some of the things I have done – and dispelled some of the preposterous myths about me (and, co-incidentally, Atzmon).
I thank you.

freethepeeps aka Roy Bard

Russia Made Sure UN Syria Resolution Leaves no Loopholes for Use of Force

Russian FM Sergei Lavrov said Russia reached its aim of making sure professionals from the international chemical weapons watchdog are the main actors regarding the UN resolution on Syria, and that there are no loopholes for military action.

LavrovSpeaking in an interview with the Russian Channel One, Lavrov admitted the Russian-American compromise on the UNSC resolution “did not come easy.”

But the Russian side has “achieved its goal” in that the resolution on Syria, supporting another document by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), “remains within the framework of the Geneva Communiqué.”

The resolution’s main principle holds that the leading role in taking under international control and destroying Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal belongs to OPCW professionals, an aim which will be achieved with the UN’s assistance and protection, Lavrov said according to Russia Today.
The document states that both the Syrian government and the Syrian opposition bear responsibility for any violation of the inspectors’ security, Lavrov stressed.

The minister reiterated that the UNSC resolution rules out any military action against Syria prior to a new resolution, which could be drafted if one of the sides – either the Syrian government, or the opposition – does not comply.

Moreover, Russia made sure there are “no pretexts or loopholes” for the use of force in the resolution on Syria, bearing in mind the Libyan experience and “the capabilities of our partners to interpret the UNSC resolutions,” Lavrov said.

As the USNC resolution does not allow any use of force under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, the possibility of any state launching a strike against Syria and citing the resolution is “out of question,” the minister said.

Lavrov also stressed that the states sponsoring the Syrian opposition bear a particular responsibility for making sure their “fosterlings” would not try and carry out any future provocations.

According to Lavrov, Russia has demanded that “any option of further attempts [by the Syrian opposition] to get their hands on chemical weapons and its components, let alone using chemical weapons in the future, is ruled out.”

The Russian report, which provides proof “in a professional manner” that the sarin gas used in March 19 attack near Aleppo was crudely handcrafted, has been distributed among the UNSC member states and is now publicly available, Lavrov said. He added that Russia has “intelligence” that the substance used in August 21 attack in Ghouta was the same chemical used in a larger concentration.

Source: Websites
29-09-2013 – 15:41 Last updated 29-09-2013 – 15:41

New UNSC Resolution on Syria – Hypocrisy

Qaeda eagle New UNSC Resolution on Syria Hypocrisy

US Weapon of Mass Terror
A new United Nations Security Council, UNSC binding resolution has been unanimously issued for the first time since the crisis in Syria began 2.5 years ago, the winners of the WWII were excited, even China was.
Yes, the resolution is binding and it is against Syrian government and it made the western ‘humanitarian bastards’ excited, but no, it’s not about human rights, nor about democracy, and has nothing to do with the suffering of the Syrian people from the influx of tens of thousands of Wahhabi Sex Cannibal Jihadists on the US & its stooges payroll which the resolution doesn’t bind their patrons to stop the manufacture of bads, which again raises the suspicions towards the Russian ‘diplomacy’ and next steps to be taken?
The resolution simply addresses the way to rid the Syrian state from its deterrent chemical weapons arsenal against the nuclear, biological and chemical weapons threat possessed by the ever wanting to expand Zionist Settlers Ghettos known as Israel.
Resolution 2116 dated 27 September 2013 can only be described as the ugly face saving resolution to bring the monkeys down the trees they climbed fast and move their focus to another country in the region hoping to come back to Syria when the SAA becomes more weaker with the continuous smuggling of terrorists into Syria, then they can come back barking about something else or unleash their pit bull Israel with all their might behind its futuristic expansion plans.
Westerns whine the resolution lacks the mechanism or enforcing ability, but that’s their last concern, they got the backing of China and Russia and the approval of the Syrian government which has a long record of abiding by international laws, maybe the only country abides voluntarily among all others and we can challenge who claims otherwise.
Revolution1 688x1024 New UNSC Resolution on Syria Hypocrisy

A UN Revolution against sovereignty of member states or a Resolution?

Guess what? Sudan is facing a ‘spontaneous public uprising’ out of nowhere and they formed their ‘coordination committees’ copying the same tactics they used in other ‘Arab Spring’ infected countries..!

Meanwhile, Syrians can choose their future now: Iraq style, Libya style or Somalia style? Well, unless those inflicting the crisis on Syria start paying for their bad deeds, with no delay.

Shahram Vahdany: King of the Jews

Source
                       

The magical and yet extremely subtle gift that Gilad Atzmon offers through his personal journeys in The Wandering Who? is the wisdom of disillusionment; the gift of not floating above water, but having to take an insightful dive into a shrouded underworld of appearances and disappearances.

The Wandering Who?: intelligent, bold, unapologetic.

At a certain stage, around 2005, I thought to myself that I might be King of the Jews. I have achieved the unachievable, accomplished the impossible. I have managed to unite them all: Right, Left, and Centre. The entirety of the primarily-Jewish British political groups: the Zionists, the anti-Zionists, Jewish Socialists, Tribal Marxists, The Board of Deputies, Jewish Trotskyites, Jews for this and Jews for that, for the first time in history all spoke in one single voice. They all hated Gilad Atzmon equally.

 Gilad begins his book, The Wandering Who? with a brief story of his childhood and the tremendous influence of his grandfather on his adolescence. He writes “my grandfather was a charismatic, poetic, veteran zionist terrorist. A former prominent commander in the right-wing Irgun terrorist organization …” He writes about his attraction to jazz, his enlistment in the IDF (Israel Defense Force), and finally being sent to the first Lebanon war.  He writes of his experience in Lebanon saying:

I studied the detainees. The looked very different to the Palestinians in Jerusalem. The ones I saw in Ansar were angry. They were not defeated, they were freedom fighters and they were numerous. As we continued past the barbed wire I continued gazing at the inmates, and arrived at an unbearable truth: I was walking on the other side, in Israeli military uniform. The place was a concentration camp. The inmates were the ‘Jews’, and I was nothing but a ‘Nazi’. It took me years to admit to myself that even the binary opposition Jew/Nazi was in itself as result of my Judeo-centric indoctrination.

 This becomes the focal point of the transformation in Gilad’s young character. He writes “This was enough for me. I realized that my affair with the Israeli state and with Zionism was over.” In TheWandering Who?, Gilad divides Jews into three main categories: (1), those who follow Judaism; (2), those who regard themselves as human beings who happen to be of Jewish origin; and (3), those who put their Jewishness over and above all of their other traits. He regards the first two categories as harmless and innocent groups of people. Gilad is not so kind to the third category, however. This group is the primary focus in his book. He goes beyond the what to the how and why. Like a forensic scientist, he dissects them piece by piece historically, economically, philosophically, psychologically, and politically.

Zionism: A Global Network

Israel is not a colonial power and does not function as such. Colonial powers form an equilibrium with the indigenous peoples whose land they occupy. They have a parasitic nature that knows their survival is based on cooperation with and even helping the indigenous peoples, albeit on a very minimum level. We have seen this with the colonization of India by the British, Algeria and Morocco by the French, and South Africa by Afrikana apartheid. Israel’s function is more that of a cancer that consumes its host resources until there is nothing left, consequently destroying itself as a result. As Farid Esack, a South African scholar, writer and political activist, known for his opposition to apartheid, says in his open letter to the Palestinian people, “Israel is not an apartheid, it’s worse.”

Gilad also writes:

Zionism is not a colonial movement with an interest in Palestine, as some scholars suggest. Zionism is actually a global movement that is fuelled by a unique tribal solidarity of third category members.

Zionism: Realm of Hungry Ghosts and Animals

By referring to hungry ghosts and animals the intention is not to dehumanize Zionists but is a reference, from a Buddhist teaching, to two of the six realms of existence, describing states of mind that human beings inhabit at any given time. The hungry ghost realm applies to those who are never satisfied, perpetually discontented no matter what they have. The animal realm refers to those without reason, who function solely by instinct and are incapable of identification with others. As Gilad put it:

Also, considering the racist, expansionist Judeo-centric nature of the Jewish State, the Diaspora Jew finds himself or herself intrinsically associated with a bigoted, enthnocentric ideology and an endless list of crimes against humanity.

Israel is the only country recognized by the United Nations without any roots in the land it occupies. In 1947, the newly formed United Nations brought a group of people from the four corners of the planet and located them in one place and called this ‘chicken soup’ the State of Israel. But more was needed in order to legitimize this newly made nation. They needed national history, which they conveniently borrowed from the Bible. It did not matter how fictional the Biblical story of Jews are. As Gilad put it, “the Jewish people is a made-up notion consisting of an imaginary past with very little to back it up forensically, historically, or textually.”

Zionists’ claim of Jewish ancestral homeland is echoed by the Christian right and Christian Zionists primarily in the historically ignorant United States population, 20% of whom still believe the earth is flat, and 55% regard evolution as a hoax. Furthermore, the majority of people in the U.S. accept the Bible as a historical and factual book.

The magical and yet extremely subtle gift that Gilad Atzmon offers through his personal journeys in The Wandering Who? is the wisdom of disillusionment; the gift of not floating above water, but having to take an insightful dive into a shrouded underworld of appearances and disappearances. He disarms his critics beforehand by saying: “I am a proud self-hating Jew”.

Although Gilad discusses an extremely sensitive phenomenon in every sense of its meaning and implications, nothing is taboo for him; even those subjects which have been expressly forbidden to explore lest one be labeled anti-Semitic or worse. Gilad recalls: “While in the past an anti-Semite was someone who hates Jews, nowadays it is the other way around, an anti-Semite is someone the Jews hate.”

Further on he writes about Holocaust as a religion:

To a certain extent, the Holocaust religion signals the final Jewish departure from monotheism, for every Jew is potentially a little God or Goddess. Abe Foxman is the God of anti-defamation, Alan Greenspan the God of ‘good economy’, Milton Friedman is the God of ‘free markets’, Lord Goldsmith the God of the ‘green light’, Lord Levy the God of fundraising, Paul Wolfowitz the God of US ‘moral interventionism’. AIPAC (the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee) is the American Olympus, where mortals elected in the US come to beg for mercy, forgiveness for being Goyim and for a bit of cash.

Whether or not one agrees with Atzmon’s views, his book would propel Jews and non-Jews equally toward a better understanding of Israel, Zionism, and Jewish identity, beyond news headlines or state propaganda. This book is the odyssey of one man’s transformation within transformation, the end of which is yet to be written.

 

You can now pre-order Gilad Atzmon’s New Book on Amazon.com  or Amazon.co.uk

 Source: http://www.mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/13317-king-of-the-jews.html

Abdul Hakim Gamal Abdel Nasser: On Syria, Egypt, Hamas and Resistance

عبد الحكيم الناصر _ نجل الزعيم الراحل جمال عبد الناصر

Mearsheimer responds to Goldberg’s latest smear

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Just a few minutes ago, I saw this piece expressing unequivocal support from Professor John J.  Mearsheimer clearly one of the most distinguished scholars in our discourse and beyond.

For years I have been subjected to smear campaigns. I obviously survived them all because those who read me grasped the humanist intent in my work. In the following article, professor  Mearsheimer exposes the banality and crudeness of the Zionist tactics. He shows how Goldberg & Co forge sentences, take words out of context and attribute misleading meanings.

I am afraid to advise my detractors that I am not alone at all. The Tide Has Changed.

http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/

Ever since John Mearsheimer and I began writing about the Israel lobby, some of our critics have leveled various personal charges against us. These attacks rarely addressed the substance of what we wrote — a tacit concession that both facts and logic were on our side — but instead accused us of being anti-Semites and conspiracy theorists. They used these false charges to try to discredit and/or marginalize us, and to distract people from the important issues of U.S. Middle East policy that we had raised.

The latest example of this tactic is a recent blog post from Jeffrey Goldberg, where he accused my co-author of endorsing a book by an alleged Holocaust denier and Nazi sympathizer. Goldberg has well-established record of making things up about us, and this latest episode is consistent with his usual approach. I asked Professor Mearsheimer if he wanted to respond to Goldberg’s sally, and he sent the following reply.

John Mearsheimer writes:

In a certain sense, it is hard not to be impressed by the energy and imagination that Jeffrey Goldberg devotes to smearing Steve Walt and me. Although he clearly disagrees with our views about U.S.-Israel relations and the role of the Israel lobby, he does not bother to engage what we actually wrote in any meaningful way. Indeed, given what he writes about us, I am not even sure he has read our book or related articles. Instead of challenging the arguments and evidence that we presented, his modus operandi is to misrepresent and distort our views, in a transparent attempt to portray us as rabid anti-Semites.

His latest effort along these lines comes in a recent blog post, where he seizes on a dust jacket blurb I wrote for a new book by Gilad Atzmon titled The Wandering Who? A Study of Jewish Identity Politics. Here is what I said in my blurb:

Gilad Atzmon has written a fascinating and provocative book on Jewish identity in the modern world. He shows how assimilation and liberalism are making it increasingly difficult for Jews in the Diaspora to maintain a powerful sense of their ‘Jewishness.’ Panicked Jewish leaders, he argues, have turned to Zionism (blind loyalty to Israel) and scaremongering (the threat of another Holocaust) to keep the tribe united and distinct from the surrounding goyim. As Atzmon’s own case demonstrates, this strategy is not working and is causing many Jews great anguish. The Wandering Who? should be widely read by Jews and non-Jews alike. 

 The book, as my blurb makes clear, is an extended meditation on Jewish identity in the Diaspora and how it relates to the Holocaust, Israel, and Zionism. There is no question that the book is provocative, both in terms of its central argument and the overly hot language that Atzmon sometimes uses. But it is also filled with interesting insights that make the reader think long and hard about an important subject. Of course, I do not agree with everything that he says in the book — what blurber does? — but I found it thought provoking and likely to be of considerable interest to Jews and non-Jews, which is what I said in my brief comment.

Goldberg maintains that Atzmon is a categorically reprehensible person, and accuses him of being a Holocaust denier and an apologist for Hitler. These are two of the most devastating charges that can be leveled against anyone. According to Goldberg, the mere fact that I blurbed Atzmon’s book is decisive evidence that I share Atzmon’s supposedly odious views. This indictment of me is captured in the title of Goldberg’s piece: “John Mearsheimer Endorses a Hitler Apologist and Holocaust Revisionist.”

This charge is so ludicrous that it is hard to know where to start my response. But let me begin by noting that I have taught countless University of Chicago students over the years about the Holocaust and about Hitler’s role in it. Nobody who has been in my classes would ever accuse me of being sympathetic to Holocaust deniers or making excuses for what Hitler did to European Jews. Not surprisingly, those loathsome charges have never been leveled against me until Goldberg did so last week.

Equally important, Gilad Atzmon is neither a Holocaust denier nor an apologist for Hitler. Consider the following excerpt from The Wandering Who?

As much as I was a sceptic youngster, I was also horrified by the Holocaust. In the 1970s Holocaust survivors were part of our social landscape. They were our neighbours, we met them in our family gatherings, in the classroom, in politics, in the corner shop. The dark numbers tattooed on their white arms never faded away. It always had a chilling effect. . . . It was actually the internalization of the meaning of the Holocaust that transformed me into a strong opponent of Israel and Jewish-ness. It is the Holocaust that eventually made me a devoted supporter of Palestinian rights, resistance and the Palestinian right of return” (pp. 185-186).

It seems unequivocally clear to me from those sentences that Atzmon firmly believes that the Holocaust occurred and was a horrific tragedy. I cannot find evidence in his book or in his other writings that indicate he “traffics in Holocaust denial.”

The real issue for Atzmon — and this is reflected in the excerpt from his blog post that Goldberg quotes from — is how the Holocaust is interpreted and used by the Jewish establishment. Atzmon has three complaints. He believes that it is used to justify Israel’s brutal treatment of the Palestinians and to fend off criticism of Israel. This is an argument made by many other writers, including former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg, historian Peter Novick, and political scientist Norman Finkelstein. Atzmon also rejects the claim that the Holocaust is exceptional, which is a position that other respected scholars have held. There have been other genocides in world history, after all, and this whole issue was actively debated in the negotiations that led to the building of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. Whatever one thinks of Atzmon’s position on this subject, it is hardly beyond the pale.

Finally, Atzmon is angry about the fact that it is difficult to raise certain questions about the causes and the conduct of the Holocaust without being personally attacked. These are all defensible if controversial positions to hold, which is not to say one has to agree with any of them. But in no way is he questioning that the Holocaust happened or denying its importance. In fact, his view is clear from one of Atzmon’s sentences that Goldberg quotes: “We should strip the holocaust of its Judeo-centric exceptional status and treat it as an historical chapter that belongs to a certain time and place.” Note that Atzmon is talking about “the holocaust” in a way that makes it clear he has no doubts about its occurrence, and the passage from The Wandering Who? cited above makes it clear that he has no doubts about its importance or its tragic dimensions; he merely believes it should be seen in a different way. Again, one need not agree with Atzmon to recognize that Goldberg has badly misrepresented his position.

There is also no evidence that I could find in The Wandering Who? to support Goldberg’s claim that Atzmon is an apologist for Hitler or that he believes “Jews persecuted Hitler” and in so doing helped trigger the Holocaust. There is actually little discussion of Hitler in Atzmon’s book, and the only discussion of interactions between Hitler and the Jews concerns the efforts of German Zionists to work out a modus vivendi with the Nazis. (pp. 162-165) This is why Goldberg is forced to go to one of Atzmon’s blog posts to make the case that he is an apologist for Hitler.

Before I examine the substance of that charge, there is an important issue that needs to be addressed directly. Goldberg’s indictment of Atzmon does not rely on anything that he wrote in The Wandering Who? Indeed, Goldberg’s blog post is silent on whether he has actually read the book. If he did read it, he apparently could not find any evidence to support his indictment of Atzmon. Instead, he relied exclusively on evidence culled from Atzmon’s own blog postings. That is why Goldberg’s assault on me steers clear of criticizing Atzmon’s book, which is what I blurbed. In short, he falsely accuses me of lending support to a Holocaust denier and defender of Hitler on the basis of writings that I did not read and did not comment upon.

This tactic puts me in a difficult position. I was asked to review Atzmon’s book and see whether I would be willing to blurb it. This is something I do frequently, and in every case I focus on the book at hand and not on the personality of the author or their other writings. In other words, I did not read any of Atzmon’s blog postings before I wrote my blurb. And just for the record, I have not met him and did not communicate with him before I was asked to review The Wandering Who? I read only the book and wrote a blurb that deals with it alone.

Goldberg, however, has shifted the focus onto what Atzmon has written on his blog. I discuss a couple of examples below, but I will not defend his blog output in detail for two reasons. First, I do not know what Atzmon may have said in all of his past blog posts and other writings or in the various talks that he has given over the years. Second, what he says in those places is not relevant to what I did, which was simply to read and react to his book.

Let me now turn to the specific claim that Atzmon is an “apologist for Hitler.” Again, I am somewhat reluctant to do this, because this charge forces me to defend what Atzmon said in one of his blog posts. But given the prominence of the charge in Goldberg’s indictment of Atzmon (and me), I cannot let it pass.

Plus, I see that Walter Russell Mead, who is also fond of smearing Steve Walt and me, has put this charge up in bright lights on his own blog. Picking up on Goldberg’s original post, Mead describes Atzmon’s argument this way: “poor Adolf Hitler’s actions against German Jews only came after US Jews called a boycott on German goods following Hitler’s appointment as German Chancellor. Gosh — if it weren’t for those pushy, aggressive Jews and their annoying boycotts, the Holocaust might not have happened!”

It is hard to imagine any sane person making such an argument, and Atzmon never does. Goldberg refers to a blog post that Atzmon wrote on March 25, 2010, written in response to news at the time that AIPAC had “decided to mount pressure” on President Obama. After describing what was happening with Obama, Atzmon notes that this kind of behavior is hardly unprecedented. In his words, “Jewish lobbies certainly do not hold back when it comes to pressuring states, world leaders and even superpowers.” There is no question that this statement is accurate and not even all that controversial; Tom Friedman said as much in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago.

In the second half of this post, Atzmon says that AIPAC’s behavior reminds him of the March 1933 Jewish boycott of German goods, which preceded Hitler’s decision on March 28, 1933 to boycott Jewish stores and goods. His basic point is that the Jewish boycott had negative consequences, which it did. In Atzmon’s narrative — and this is a very important theme in his book — Jews are not simply passive victims of other people’s actions. On the contrary, he believes Jews have considerable agency and their actions are not always wise. One can agree or disagree with his views about the wisdom of the Jewish boycott — and I happen to think he’s wrong about it — but he is not arguing that the Jews were “persecuting Hitler” and that this alleged “persecution” led to the Holocaust. In fact, he says nothing about the Holocaust in his post and he certainly does not justify in any way the murder of six million Jews.

Let me make one additional point about Goldberg’s mining of Atzmon’s blog posts. Goldberg ends his attack on me with the following quotation from a Feb. 19 blog post by Atzmon: “I believe that from [a] certain ideological perspective, Israel is actually far worse than Nazi Germany.” That quotation certainly makes Atzmon look like he has lost his mind and that nothing he has written could be trusted. But Goldberg has misrepresented what Atzmon really said, which is one of his standard tactics. Specifically, he quotes only part of a sentence from Atzmon’s blog post; but when you look at the entire sentence, you see that Atzmon is making a different, and far more nuanced point. The entire sentence reads: “Indeed, I believe that from [a] certain ideological perspective, Israel is actually far worse than Nazi Germany, for unlike Nazi Germany, Israel is a democracy and that implies that Israeli citizens are complicit in Israeli atrocities.” This is not an argument I would make, but what Atzmon is saying is quite different from the way Goldberg portrays it.

Finally, let me address the charge that Atzmon himself is an anti-Semite and a self-hating Jew. The implication of this accusation, of course, is that I must be an anti-Semite too (I can’t be a self-hating Jew) because I agreed to blurb Atzmon’s book. I do not believe that Atzmon is an anti-Semite, although that charge is thrown around so carelessly these days that it has regrettably lost much of its meaning. If one believes that anyone who criticizes Israel is an anti-Semite, then Atzmon clearly fits in that category. But that definition is foolish — no country is perfect or above criticism-and not worth taking seriously.

The more important and interesting issue is whether Atzmon is a self-hating Jew. Here the answer is unequivocally yes. He openly describes himself in this way and he sees himself as part of a long dissident tradition that includes famous figures such as Marx and Spinoza. What is going on here?
The key to understanding Atzmon is that he rejects the claim that Jews are the “Chosen People.” His main target, as he makes clear at the start of the book, is not with Judaism per se or with people who “happen to be of Jewish origin.” Rather, his problem is with “those who put their Jewish-ness over and above all of their other traits.” Or to use other words of his: “I will present a harsh criticism of Jewish politics and identity … This book doesn’t deal with Jews as a people or ethnicity.” (pp. 15-16)
In other words, Atzmon is a universalist who does not like the particularism that characterizes Zionism and which has a rich tradition among Jews and any number of other groups. He is the kind of person who intensely dislikes nationalism of any sort. Princeton professor Richard Falk captures this point nicely in his own blurb for the book, where he writes: “Atzmon has written an absorbing and moving account of his journey from hard-core Israeli nationalist to a de-Zionized patriot of humanity.”

Atzmon’s basic point is that Jews often talk in universalistic terms, but many of them think and act in particularistic terms. One might say they talk like liberals but act like nationalists. Atzmon will have none of this, which is why he labels himself a self-hating Jew. He fervently believes that Jews are not the “Chosen People” and that they should not privilege their “Jewish-ness” over their other human traits. Moreover, he believes that one must choose between Athens and Jerusalem, as they “can never be blended together into a lucid and coherent worldview.” (p. 86) One can argue that his perspective is dead wrong, or maintain that it is a lovely idea in principle but just not the way the real world works. But it is hardly an illegitimate or ignoble way of thinking about humanity.

To take this matter a step further, Atzmon’s book is really all about Jewish identity. He notes that “the disappearance of the ghetto and its maternal qualities” in the wake of the French Revolution caused “an identity crisis within the largely assimilated Jewish society.” (p. 104) He believes that this crisis, about which there is an extensive literature, is still at the center of Jewish life today. In effect,
Atzmon is telling the story of how he wrestled with his own identity over time and what he thinks is wrong with how most Jews self-identify today. It is in this context that he discusses what he calls the “Holocaust religion,” Zionism, and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Again, to be perfectly clear, he has no animus toward Judaism as a religion or with individuals who are Jewish by birth. Rather, his target is the tribalism that he believes is common to most Jews, and I might add, to most other peoples as well. Atzmon focuses on Jews for the obvious reason that he is Jewish and is trying to make sense of his own identity.

In sum, Goldberg’s charge that Atzman is a Holocaust denier or an apologist for Hitler is baseless. Nor is Atzmon an anti-Semite. He has controversial views for sure and he sometimes employs overly provocative language. But there is no question in my mind that he has written a fascinating book that, as I said in my blurb, “should be widely read by Jews and non-Jews alike.” Regarding Goldberg’s insinuation that I have any sympathy for Holocaust denial and am an anti-Semite, it is just another attempt in his longstanding effort to smear Steve Walt and me.

Reader Comments (1)

Thanks Gilad for at last publiching this book. I must admit that I have been waiting some years for it to come. The first time I met your writings (on the webb) was I think in 2003, when I was making research on the roots of Zionism, writing on my first article on the subject about Moses Hess and Karl Marx. I was then a member of a jewish peacegroup in Sweden, and most of us were marxists from 68 or some younger leftish. A few of us also recognized us as anti-zionists.

At that time I thought that the best way to confront the politics of Israel and Zionism would be “from within”, because it would develop the debate inside the jewish group and at the same time get more credibility to the arguments outside the jewish group. But I was wrong. In a big debate at the university of Stockholm, I claimed that when it comes to the borders of Israel, I personally would not mind if they are the UN participation plan, the 67 line, the river Jordan, the river Eufrat or for that case the whole world, if only all inhabitants will have the same rights.

That statement became the end of my membership in the jewish peacegroup, and the beginning of my travel from jewish tribalism (and maxism) to humanism. (And later to be an official “anti-semite”, “Holocaust denier” and “conspiracy-theorist”).

At that time I thought I was alone with my identity problems. Sweden is a small country. When I realized I was not alone, I got the energy to start writing, which I almost never had done before (I simply and humbly want to thank you Gilad for that, and I guess I am not alone in this). But at the same time I felt there was something more than just leaving the jewish tribal thinking, as it includes so many tabous and unspeakable matters that have a grip on the open discurse of today. Tribal thinking is by no means only jewish, but it just happens to be the case that jewish ideology today is “on the top of the foodchain”, when gipsy tribal ideologi is not. At this point I realized what it is all about: The liberation of human thoughts. I remember that was one of the first comment I wrote to you, So let this be a comment to the readers of your book. It is not just about “The wandering who?”, it is about the liberation of human thinking, and I want to beleave that it is in this way the book will be remembered by genreations to come.
Peace
Lasse

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