Signs of the Times: A Cashless Society in India

A good portion of this video by Sheikh Imran Hosein is devoted to discussion around current events in India, where the government has taken major steps toward transformation of the entire country into a cashless society. This “demonetization,” as it’s called, has implications not only for the people of India, but for all of us. The following article will offer a bit more insight into that.

You will perhaps not be terribly surprised to learn that a US government agency, USAID, seems to have been a key player in engineering events in India. This of course is the same agency that has engineered regime changes in other countries. In this case, however, they seem to be quite fond of the Modi government of India.

The Truth About ‘Digital India’

By Ajiesh Thuvanoor Kayi

India is descending into one of the most unfavorable entanglements since her independence. This historic conspiracy gripping the subcontinent is utter cosmic. Since the announcement of so-called “Demonetization,” we have come up with several articles shedding light on possible issues. Some of the theories and predictions drafted in the 3rd week of Demonetization seem to be becoming more true and are still gaining momentum. Surprisingly, the most intriguing information of all is the whole lot of Indian population inadvertently or knowingly continuing endorse this mission – most are unaware of the real plot while others are obsessed with irrational character adoration. The “soft coup” timetable initiated the United States is in action and Indians live in an exaggerated bubble which will soon be deflated. The Indian public is largely ignorant and unconcerned, and their reliance on fallible Indian mainstream media throttles further Information Blockade. A series of corroboratory reports rightly available but in bits and pieces need to be a pieced together for an aggregated view.

The threatening geopolitical environment posed by the Asian Block/BRICS union compelled the United States to initiate strategic partnership with India. This is intended to counter the Chinese military and economic dominance in Asia and elsewhere. During the reign of Obama, the Indian Prime Minister visited Washington over 18 times within a mere span of two years. USAID under the Obama Administration successfully plucked a deal with the Indian Finance Ministry. This ministry covering the banking sector is already facing a series of internal yet undisclosed crises. The deal was to destroy the cash ecosystem in India and push digital payment methods, a multifaceted program with several goals. The project’s catalyst was commissioned in November 2015 by the government of India and USAID in order to destroy cash, targeting low-income groups. It is not evidently clear if the CIA is directly involved, but the fact is prevalent that the CIA is a constant factor in USAID.

Continued here

Pence Consoles Jews in Missouri Over Vandalizing of Jewish Cemetery

Statue of Jesus vandalized at the Cottage Avenue Pentecostal Fellow Church, in Indianapolis, Indiana

Statue of Jesus vandalized at the Cottage Avenue Pentecostal Fellow Church, in Indianapolis, Indiana

Two heinous acts of religious desecration occurred last weekend at two separate sites in two separate states. In response to one of these events, the vice president of the United States personally involved himself, making a trip to the scene to denounce what had happened and to assist in the cleanup.

The other event he seems to have completely ignored.

At the Cottage Avenue Pentecostal Fellowship Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, vandals targeted a statue of Jesus outside the church, severing the head from the body. The attack occurred sometime during the night of February 19/20.

On the same weekend vandals attacked a Jewish cemetery causing damage to approximately 150 headstones at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, Jewish cemetery located in University City, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.

 photo cemeterystlouis_zpsfo7bwizd.jpg

Vandalized gravestones at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery

After the media raised an uproar over the attack on the cemetery, an uproar which included complaints that President Trump had not sufficiently condemned the attack or denounced anti-Semitism enough, Vice President Pence made a trip to St. Louis, where he spoke at the cemetery and even participated in the cleanup.

“I am so inspired by what the people of Missouri are doing, by the way you are handling this,” he is reported to have said.

I did an Internet search in an effort to determine if Pence had made any similar-type gestures on behalf of the Christians at the church in Indianapolis, but could find no indication he had, or even that he had bothered to issue a public comment on it–even though the attack occurred in Pence’s home state of Indiania and even though it was the second time in two weeks that the statue had been desecrated.

Here is a news report on what happened at the church…

And here is a video of Pence at the cemetery, participating in a prayer with a Jewish rabbi and helping with the cleanup…

I guess it’s nice to see a member of America’s political elite with a rake in his hand and doing some actual physical work, but the video would seem to provide us with ample evidence of what group of people he’s really working for.

Is World War 3 on the Way?

NATO troops preparing for war game exercise in eastern Europe

NATO troops preparing for war game exercise in eastern Europe

Is World War 3 on the way? Maybe yes, maybe no. But it’s a question I have pondered a number of times in a number of posts dating back over the past three years. I will ponder it again here.

As before when I have put up posts of this nature, a number of disturbing signs point to increased cause for concern, but before I get to these, let me show you a video. It’s one featuring David Icke, which I posted nearly three years ago, in July of 2014, in a post which I entitled “The Vortex.” It was one of the first posts I ever put up basically speculating on the possibility of a coming war.

In the video interview, Icke talks about a prediction made way back in the late 19th century–a prediction by Albert Pike of three world wars in which “political Zionism” would play a role. In the third war, the entire world would be drawn into a “vortex” of chaos centered around a war between political Zionism and Islam, and Icke puts that prediction into the context of events playing out in the Middle East, including the rise of ISIS, which at the time (in the summer of 2014, when Icke gave the interview) had only just appeared upon the world stage.

Icke exhibits a remarkable amount of prescience, not only with regard to the rise of ISIS and the role it would come to play in the Middle East wars (which would have been hard to predict in 2014), but also with regard to Russia being drawn into the conflict in Syria (the interview was done more than a year before Russia formally sent troops into the country). Perhaps most important, however, are his words regarding the world political and financial powers, including the US government, who are funding ISIS:

“These people are sheer, undiluted evil, and people need to understand that, otherwise they will reject that anyone could do what they are doing and kill and maim and slaughter so many people. They can do it because they have no heart, they have no empathy, they have no emotional compassion, and thus mayhem is their currency, and they have no emotional consequence. They are not like us, so don’t judge what they’ll do by what you would do, because it ain’t the same thing.

Wise words, and the point he is making–that evil, pure evil–does indeed exist, is an important one to remember. And now on to the latest somewhat unnerving indications of where things may be headed.

***

According to a report here the US is now considering sending more troops to Syria:

More US troops may be needed in Syria to speed up the campaign against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), the top commander for the Middle East has stated, specifically referring to the push to liberate Raqqa.“I am very concerned about maintaining momentum,” General Joseph L. Votel, the head of the United States Central Command, told reporters, as quoted by CBS News.

He said local forces being supported by the US “don’t have as good mobility, they don’t have as much firepower, so we have to be prepared to fill in some of those gaps for them,” noting that such support may involve additional fire support capability and “a variety of other things” to help “offset some of the gaps.”

The report also offers the following placatory note…

Votel stressed, however, that Washington is not considering sending US troops to take over the fighting, and that the strategy developed during the Obama administration of keeping local forces at the forefront would remain unchanged.

…but of course similar statements are made at the outset of each new troop buildup in each new war the US gets involved in. And the same report also includes this…

Lieutenant General Townsend revealed over the weekend that the 450 American advisers working with the Iraqis in Mosul had moved closer to the front lines in order to stay in touch with Iraqi commanders as they advanced on the city.

The US has about 500 Special Operations troops in Syria. If American military presence were to be expanded, additional troops could come from conventional combat units, the New York Times reported. However, Votel stressed that he would not recommend deploying large combat formations.

“We want to bring the right capabilities forward,” he said. “Not all of those are necessarily resident in the Special Operations community. If we need additional artillery or things like that, I want to be able to bring those forward to augment our operations.”

In addition to the above, you can also go here to access an RT video that includes commentary from former Pentagon official Michael Maloof, who points out that bringing in conventional troops and heavy equipment will require still more troops just to handle the logistics of transport and the setting up and maintaining of bases, all of which becomes a “slippery slope.”

***

As the US contemplates deploying these “conventional combat units” into Syria, additional US troops–lots of them–have already begun to be deployed to Eastern Europe along Russia’s borders. An article at Newsweek gives some insight into the extent of this. The author devotes much of the piece to demonizing Russia and Putin, but then offers the following information about NATO troop deployments:

As a response to Russia’s military actions in Ukraine, NATO has plans to send four 1,000-troop-strong battalions toward Russia’s borders; one for each of the three Baltic countries, and one for Poland.

Additionally, NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force comprises about 5,000 troops. The unit is meant to “respond to emerging security challenges posed by Russia, as well as the risks emanating from the Middle East and North Africa,” according to a statement on NATO’s website.

Overall, the U.S. has about 35,000 military personnel in Europe, including two Army infantry brigades. To deter Moscow, the U.S. has recently deployed an additional heavy brigade to Poland, comprising about 3,500 troops and 87 tanks, as well as a unit of 500 troops to Romania.

The U.S. also has troops in Ukraine conducting a training mission for Ukraine’s armed forces.

“The U.S. has restated its commitment to NATO and Article V, and Russia should recognize that those security guarantees remain rock solid,” Kochis said. “Any deviation only invites aggression and miscalculation.”

NATO’s eastward deployments are still just a fraction of Ukraine’s military buildup near Russia’s border, underscoring how the overall military balance of power in Europe has shifted since 2014 due to Russian aggression.

Ukraine now has about 60,000 combat troops, supported by heavy artillery and armor, forward deployed to the Donbas—Ukraine’s embattled southeastern territory on the border with Russia. That’s a force of 60,000 combat troops near Russia’s border that wasn’t there

***

Trump’s new pick to fill the role of national security advisor is Lieutenant General Herbert R. McMaster, who apparently is something of a Russophobe. McMaster replaces Gen. Michal Flynn, who was friendly toward Russia but who was basically hounded out of office by the media. Here is what former CIA Offficer Philip Giraldi has to say about McMaster:

“He [McMaster] regards Russia as ‘the enemy’ and apparently believes falsely that Moscow has been the aggressor in Georgia and Ukraine,” Giraldi said. “He wants to forward deploy more US forces to Europe to deter Russia.”

And on the subject of Iran:

“While [McMaster] is hostile to Iran he does not share the intense hatred of that country exhibited by Flynn,” he said.

And here is what NPR says regarding McMaster’s appointment:

Trump’s announcement of McMaster was met with widespread acclaim by the Washington national defense establishment, including from people who are not particular fans of Trump’s.

The Trump non-fans who are in love with McMaster include John McCain…

Lt Gen HR McMaster is outstanding choice for nat’l security advisor – man of genuine intellect, character & ability http://www.mccain.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=22A583B0-4B7A-417A-BE94-C70D54FE0B26 

Giraldi adds an additional point on this:

“He [McMaster] is much loved by the neoconservatives with Bill Kristol and John McCain gushing over the appointment, which should give one pause.”

So score another one for the media and the deep state. They have replaced Flynn, who posed somewhat of an obstacle to war with Russia, with McMaster, who likely will grease the skids.

***

Recently Russia Insider published an article about four Russian servicemen who were killed in Syria when a radio-controlled bomb targeting a Syrian military convoy exploded. Curiously the attack took place on February 16, the same day that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had their first meeting–a meeting which has been described as “awkward” and in which Tillerson ordered that the press be removed from the room. The piece raises the possibility that the attack may not have been carried out by ISIS, and that Tillerson may have already been informed of it (or possibly even had inside knowledge it was going to occur) at the time of his meeting with Lavrov. Here is an excerpt from Russia Insider. Those interested might wish to go and read the full article:

Sunni terrorists dream of killing Russian special forces or military advisers. Why would any militia or terrorist group in Syria execute a successful operation like this, and then not immediately claim responsibility? And again, as far as we know, we’re still waiting for someone — anyone — to say they were responsible for the attack.

Please correct us if you think we’re being unreasonable, but doesn’t this seem odd to you? The Russians might consider the deaths of these soldiers a state secret — but we’re positive ISIS wouldn’t.

Our second point is a bit more nuanced. But we still think it’s an interesting coincidence: February 16 was the same day that Sergei Lavrov met with Rex Tillerson for the first time in Germany.

According to Bloomberg, it was an “awkward first encounter”…

***

As if all of this isn’t worrying enough, Trump publicly vowed on Thursday that the US would work to maintain its nuclear supremacy over all other nuclear powers in the world. “It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack,” he said.

***

Recently writer Finian Cunningham published a couple of interesting articles, one entitled “Western Russophobia in Psychotic Phase,” published February 22, and an earlier piece, “Insanity of NATO 2.0 for Mideast,” published February 16. The earlier piece deals with Netanyahu’s meeting with Trump and discussions that have been held between the two leaders on the possible formation of a military alliance against Iran that would involve the US, Israel and certain Sunni Arab states. The latter would include Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan. Basically what is being envisioned is a NATO-type alliance, only set in the Middle East, or “NATO 2.0,” as Cunningham refers to it. You can go here to read a Times of Israel report on the discussions that have been held on the subject. Given the distinguished “cast of characters” that would be involved with this alliance, should it come into being, one cannot help wondering: would the coalition’s raison d’être be in effect to combine the resources–financial, military and otherwise–of its various members in the support of ISIS?

Below is an excerpt from Cunningham’s commentary:

The bitter irony in all this is that the real danger to Middle East peace is not Iran, but rather is Israel’s ongoing illegal occupation of Palestinian land, as well as Saudi Arabia and the oil-rich Arab monarchies funding Islamist terror groups.

The six-year [war] that has ravaged Syria largely stems from an externally driven covert war for regime change against the Assad government which is an ally of Russia and Iran. The war in Syria has been instrumented by proxy jihadist mercenaries, including Al Qaeda-linked terror groups, which are funded, armed and directed by the US, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states.

Israel is also believed to have played a covert role in fomenting the regime-change war in Syria, working in collusion with the US and Saudi Arabia. That war has been stymied due to the military intervention by Russia and Iran over the past year.

Saudi Arabia has a long, despicable history of fomenting Wahhabi terror groups going back to the 1970-80s when it funded the precursors of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan to fight the then Soviet-backed government. Saudi Arabia has traditionally supplied the money and weapons while the American CIA and Israeli’s Mossad provided the military logistics and intelligence. The awarding last week of Saudi spy chief Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef by CIA director Mike Pompeo was seen by some critics as a particularly nauseating testimony of this nefarious relationship.

The very idea of this US-led axis in the Middle East now setting up a formal alliance along the lines of NATO is a harbinger of ramped up conflict in the region. And especially given the stated purpose of such an alliance being dedicated to “contain Iran”.

The US-led NATO alliance in Europe has already plunged relations with Russia into deeper hostility. The ongoing build up of NATO forces on Russia’s border – allegedly to contain Russian aggression – has stoked fears that a nuclear war could be precipitated.

NATO continually claims to be a force for stability and defense – whenever any sane-minded observer can see that the opposite is true, inciting tensions in Europe and Russia to levels not seen since the heyday of the Cold War.

The same manic double-think is being replicated in the Middle East with the latest American plans to form a NATO 2.0 with Israel and terror-sponsoring Arab monarchs.

In the most recent piece, Cunningham discusses the “fake, unethical journalism that has become a staple in Western media,” coming to the conclusion that Russophobia is no longer a “random prejudice” in Western countries, but instead has reached the point where it has become “endemic” and “pathological,” essentially amounting to a “collective psychosis.”

When such propaganda becomes a systematic form of public discourse then it can be said that the mindset has moved dangerously beyond a condition of reprehensible Russophobia, to one of collective psychosis.

And this affliction among Western states seems to be worsening. The appointment by US President Donald Trump this week of Lt General HR McMaster as his National Security Adviser was greeted with applause among hawkish lawmakers in Congress.

The cause for their celebration is because McMaster is seen as having staunch “anti-Russian views” – unlike his ousted predecessor, Michael Flynn, who reportedly wanted to restore friendly relations with Moscow.

McMaster’s appointment marks a “100 per cent threat to Russia,”said Franz Klintsevich, the First Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security.

Klintsevich added that “Washington’s Russophobia is increasing, not weakening.”

Not surprisingly given the relentless anti-Russian “news” saturating Western media, a new Gallup poll found that favorability among ordinary Americans towards Russia has plummeted. Four years ago, some 50 per cent of Americans had a friendly view of Russia. Now, the figure is down to 28 per cent.

Assuming the poll results reported by Gallup are genuine and not faked for propaganda purposes (a possibility that should not be discounted), what it suggests is that despite the media’s plummeting credibility, the lies are still taking hold in large segments of the population. A major concern at this point has to be a false flag attack designed to ignite a war with Russia–possibly in the form of a staged attack upon US troops in Syria or the Baltic states. Were a number of US troops to die in an attack that could be blamed upon Russia, the case for war would be made.

So what is the motive for all this? Why are these people trying so hard to start a war with Russia? I think Icke puts his finger on it in the video above. The idea all along has been to create a global government that would replace sovereign, independent states. What is happening in Syria, Ukraine, Iraq and elsewhere is not random. “None of it has been random,” says Icke.

“It’s part of this long term plan to take over the world by creating enormous chaos–to which they can offer the order out of the chaos–their order, their new world order,” he adds.

***

A week ago I posted a commentary entitled “We Are Living in a ‘Post-Truth’ Era.” The article dealt with a remark by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, made at last weekend’s Munich Security Conference, in which the official, noting that harmony among nations could be achieved by advancing justice and practicing “modesty,” asserted, “If everyone adopts that approach, we could overcome the period of post-truth fast and resist information wars imposed on the international community.”

For many of us, at least those of us who come from a Christian background, the idea that a “post-truth” era has overcome us–and the realization that the lies being told by the media are “endemic” and “pathological,” as Cunningham puts it–brings to mind, perhaps invariably, the words of Jesus in John 8:44: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

It’s a verse that seems to be gaining a lot of traction these days. A search using the key words “John 8:44” turns up more than 2 million results on Google and a staggering 38 million on Bing. Jesus, here in this passage from John’s Gospel, is speaking to a group of Jews, who, in verse 31, are identified specifically as “the Jews who had believed him.” Odd, you might think, that he would speak such words to those who had believed in him, but I’m guessing these were Jews who were looking for a warrior messiah, a divinely-designated belligerent who would lead them in a revolt against Rome–the same Jews who, once it became apparent this was not his mission, would turn against him and call for his crucifixion. This in fact becomes clearer and more plausible as you read through the verses leading up to verse 44. Here, starting with verse 31, is how the exchange transpires:

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

Their comment that they have “never been slaves of anyone” may sound curious. After all, was not Judea under Roman occupation? Technically speaking yes, but the reality is the Jews were given so much leeway to run their own affairs that you could almost say it was a case of the Jews occupying the Romans rather than the other way around. Jews were allowed to have their own courts, legislative body, and tax collection system, yet at the same time they were also granted full citizenship rights as Roman citizens.

These were privileges not granted to any other peoples living under Roman occupation, and they applied not only to Jews in Judea, but to those living in other Roman-ruled areas as well such as Alexandria in Egypt–where a large community of Jews also resided. These extra privileges granted to the Jews of Alexandria eventually led to strife between the Jews and the native Egyptians. At the same time there were also tensions between Jews and the Greek citizens of Alexandria as well–all of which led eventually to the famed Alexandria Riots in the summer of 38 AD–an event which became one of the first pogroms against Jews in recorded history and which I portray in my most recent novel, The Memoirs of Saint John, part II.

But to return to our passage in John chapter 8. In the next verse, Jesus replies to the Jews “who had believed him” that they were indeed slaves–not to the Romans but to their own sins…

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”

39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would[c] do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.”

“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

Here they speak boastfully, elevating themselves from the offspring of Abraham to the offspring of God himself. It is an expression of supremacy and “chosenness,” and an expression also of rebellion. These may well have been Zealots, that is to say they may have come from a party of Jews known by that name and who were somewhat similar in outlook to the Pharisees, only more extreme. The Zealots got their start in 6 AD when a man named Judah the Galilean led a revolt against the Roman census that had been decreed at that time. In Judah’s view, Jews were bound by no law other than the law of God–a view which seems rather prevalent today in Israel.

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me.43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

And so yes, today we find ourselves living in a “post-truth” era–one which perhaps, in a manner of speaking, has been building toward this point for the last 2,000 years.

This may sound strange to you, but actually I think we are blessed to be living in the times we are living in. Yes, it is a time of darkness in which the forces of pure evil reign supreme over much of the world. But it is also a time in which the Holy Spirit comes to us and strengthens us.

Nikki Haley Calls Apartheid Israel ‘the one true democracy in the Middle East’

Out of all of Trump’s appointees, Nikkie Haley is probably one of the worst. Formerly a governor of South Carolina, Haley is the current US ambassador to the United Nations. That’s her in the video above giving a presentation at the UN last Thursday.

I’m not sure how much Haley knows about international law. According to Wikipedia, she graduated from Clemson University with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. How she ended up as UN ambassador, after criticizing Trump in the general election, is unclear. *

At any rate, Haley seems fully unaware that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. Nor does she seem to comprehend why other UN-member states might press for resolutions seeking to call Israel to account, both for its settlements as well as its 50-year occupation of the West Bank–land universally recognized as necessary for a Palestinian state. So perhaps she is simply uninformed and does not understand the nature of Israel’s occupation or its devastating impact upon the lives of those forced to live under it. Or at least that’s one possibility.

The other possibility, of course, is that Haley does understand these things…and that she simply believes Israel is exceptional and should not have to follow the same laws and international standards that apply to other states. If so, apparently in Israel are those who would agree with her. Less than a week after her talk at the UN–in which she accused the body of a “prejudiced approach to Israeli-Palestinian issues”–an Israeli military court handed down an 18-month sentence to an Israeli soldier who carried out an execution-style slaying of a wounded Palestinian in March of last year. There was no doubt the soldier was the one who pulled the trigger. The shooting was captured live on video. The sentence of 18 months he received for killing a Palestinian is lighter than what Palestinian children are often given for throwing stones.

* Incredibly, Haley also voiced criticism of Trump–over his stance on Russia–during her congressional confirmation hearings back in January. At that time she accused Russia of “war crimes,” and said, “They (the Russians) have done some terrible atrocities.”

Israeli Soldier Sentenced to 18 Months for Execution-Style Killing of Palestinian

alsharif_family

Family of Abdul Fattah al-Sharif, a 21-year-old Palestinian shot last year, sit in their Hebron home watching television coverage of the sentencing of Elor Azarya, the Israeli soldier convicted of killing him.

[ Ed. note – Abdul Fattah al-Sharif was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, on March 24, 2016. He was lying on the ground wounded at the time. His execution-style killing, which was captured on video, took place on the Jewish holiday of Purim. The video later went viral and made headlines around the world.

You can go here to watch the video of the shooting, and here to watch Israeli settlers celebrating Purim on the same Hebron streets later that same day. Al-Sharif and a companion, Ramzi Aziz Qasrawi, were both shot on March 24 following an alleged stabbing attack upon an Israeli soldier. I put up a number of posts last year on the incident, most notably Looks Like it Was a Purim Execution, which I published on March 25, and Ruled By the Insane, an article I wrote and published on April 19 and which deals with a protest held in Tel Aviv in support of the killer. Elor Azarya, the Israeli soldier who shot al-Sharif, was elevated to the status of national hero. Today Azarya was sentenced to 18 months by an Israeli military judicial panel.

The light sentencing underscores the fact that there are two standards of justice in Israel, one for Israeli Jews and another for Palestinians, which of course is the hallmark of apartheid. As the article below notes, Palestinian children will typically serve more time in jail simply for throwing rocks. ]

***

Israeli Who Executed Injured Palestinian Gets Slap on the Wrist

By Michael F. Brown

Elor Azarya, the Israeli army medic who shot dead injured Palestinian Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif last year in the occupied West Bank, was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in prison, one year of probation and a demotion.

If not pardoned first, he may walk free after serving just a year in prison.

The light sentence was imposed even though judges found beyond any doubt that Azarya had acted in revenge.

“We are not surprised, from the onset we knew this was a show trial that will not do us justice,” al-Sharif’s family told media. “Even though the soldier was caught on video and it is clear that this is a cold-blooded execution, he was convicted only of manslaughter, not murder, and the prosecution asked for only a light sentence of three years.”

hebronmurder

“The sentence he received is less than a Palestinian child gets for throwing stones,” the family added.

Azarya was indicted for manslaughter after he was caught on video shooting the head of the wounded and incapacitated al-Sharif lying in the street, killing him, on 24 March 2016.

Al-Sharif was shot dead along with Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, both 21 years old. Israel alleges that they stabbed a soldier near the Tel Rumeida settlement in Hebron.

The killing of al-Qasrawi was not caught on video.

Israeli hero

Significant segments of Israeli society – egged on by right-wing politicians including education minister Naftali Bennett and defense minister Avigdor Lieberman – objected to any trial at all for Azarya and have celebrated him as a hero.

The trial court found “beyond all reasonable doubt” that Azarya had acted out of revenge rather than in self-defense.

But after obtaining a conviction, prosecutors asked for only three to five years imprisonment.

azaryasentenced

Elor Azarya with his mother in an Israeli military courtroom on February 25, 2017, shortly before being handed down his ridiculously light sentence.

At the time of the verdict, Human Rights Watch said that senior Israeli officials have been “encouraging Israeli soldiers and police to kill Palestinians they suspect of attacking Israelis even when they are no longer a threat.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly announced after the January conviction that Azarya should be pardoned.

He is accurately reading public sentiment, with Israelis reportedly supporting clemency by more than three to one.

Netanyahu, who is under investigation for corruption, is also trying to keep up with Bennett, a rival for the post of prime minister, who has repeatedly insisted Azarya be pardoned.

Impunity

The light sentence would appear to be another instance of the systematic impunity Israel affords its personnel who kill or injure Palestinians.

Last year, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem announced it would no longer refer complaints of violence against Palestinians to Israel’s military justice system.

“We will no longer aid a system that whitewashes investigations and serves as a fig leaf for the occupation,” Hagai El-Ad, the group’s director, explained.

Samir Zaqout of the Gaza-based Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights told Al Jazeera he was not surprised by the outcome.

“Palestinians don’t expect any kind of justice from the Israeli legal system,” Zaqout said. “The lives of Palestinians are judged as worthless.”

Bill Fletcher, Jr., former president of TransAfrica Forum and a Palestine solidarity activist who was involved in the anti-apartheid movement, told The Electronic Intifada, “The sentencing of Elor Azarya reminds us that the value of Palestinian life is not the same as the value of Jewish citizens of Israel.”

“An 18-month sentence is nothing more than a slap on the hand,” Fletcher added. “It will do nothing to discourage further terrorist acts against Palestinians.”

Continued here

Related

Rest in Peace Vitaly Churkin

Posted on February 21, 2017

The Russian ambassador to the United Nations for the past 11 years died yesterday in New York. Today would have been his 65th birthday. May he rest in peace.

Electronic book of condolences is open, send your e-mails to info@rusembassy.ca or tweet using @RussiaUN, or

Four Dead Russian Diplomats in Three Months

Posted on February 21, 2017

Russia’s long time ambassador to the UN has died suddenly in New York – this is the fourth Russian diplomat who has died in the last 3 months.

Vitaly Churkin was one of the wisest voices in international diplomacy.  His voice will no longer echo in the halls of the United Nations. Articulate, polite yet commanding, wise yet affable, he oversaw some of Russia’s and the world’s most important events in a position he occupied since 2006.

Churkin had to face a great deal of hostile criticism from both the Bush and Obama administrations during his time at the UN, but he always did so with grace. He never failed to explain the Russian position with the utmost clarity.

Standing next to some of his colleagues, he often looked like a titan in a room full of school children.

His death, a day before his 65th birthday, is a tragedy first and foremost for his family, friends and colleagues. It is also a deeply sad day for the cause of justice, international law and all of the principles of the UN Charter which Churkin admirably upheld in the face of great obstacles.

His death however raises many uncomfortable questions…

Here are 5 things that must be considered:

1.  A Macabre Pattern Has Emerged  

Beginning in 2015, there were several deaths within the Russian Diplomatic corps and a special Russian Presidential adviser.

–LESIN

First there was Russia’s RT founder and special adviser to President Putin, Mikhail Lesin. He died in November of 2015 in his hotel room. Reports said that he appeared discombobulated during his last sighting before he died. Later it emerged that he died of a blunt head trauma. Drinking was blamed, but many questions were left unanswered.

–MALANIN

Earlier last month, Andrei Malanin, a Senior Russian Diplomat to Greece was found dead in his bathroom. The causes of death remain unknown.

–KADAKIN

Just last month, Russia’s Ambassador to India, Alexander Kadakin, an always prestigious role, died of a heart attack, although no one was aware of any previous health issues.

–KARLOV

In December of last year Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey was assassinated by a lone jihadi gunmen in an art gallery.  There was no effective security as the killer simply walked up to Ambassador Andrei Karlov and shot him multiple times in the back.

–CHURKIN

Vitaly Chirkin is the highest profile member of Russia’s diplomatic corps to die in recent years.

2. A Motive For Foul Play? 

Each of the recently deceased Russian Ambassadors were high profile targets for miscreants and criminals, whether state actors, mercenaries or fanatics.

Lesin was a instrumental in the creation of RT, a news outlet which has come under constant attack from the western establishment.

Malanin had overseen a period of warming fraternal relations between Greece and Russia at a time when Greece is feeling increasingly alienated from both the EU and NATO.

Karlov is said to be responsible for helping to facilitate the rapprochement between Presidents Erdogan and Putin.

Kadakin oversaw a period of renewed tensions between India and Pakistan at a time when Russia was trying to continue its good relations with India whilst building good relations with Pakistan.

On the 31st of December, 2016, Churkin’s resolution on a ceasefire in Syria passed in the UN Security Council after months of deadlock. The resolution is still in force.

Anyone who wanted to derail the diplomatic successes that the aforementioned men achieved for Russia would have a clear motive to extract vengeance.

3. Who Stands To Gain? 

In the matter of Karlov, any derailment of restored Russo-Turkish relations would be good for those happy for Turkey to continue her support of jihadists in Syria rather than moving towards accepting a Russian and indeed Iranian brokered peace process which respects the sovereignty of Syria as Russia and Iran always have, but Turkey has not.

In the case of Lesin, anyone wanting ‘vengeance’ for RT’s popularity would be able to say that a kind of former media boss was taken down.

For Malanin, many fear that if ‘Grexit’ happens, Russia will become an increasingly important partner for Greece. The EU would not like one of its vassal states enjoying fruitful relations with Russia, a country still under sanctions from Brussels.

For Kadakin, it is a matter of interest for those wanting Pakistan to continue favouring western powers and not wanting Russia to be able to mediate in conflict resolutions between New Delhi and Islamabad.

Churkin had come to dominate the UN in ways that his counterparts on the Security Council simply could not. No one really stood a chance in a debate with Churkin. His absence leaves open the possibility for a power vacuum that would makes other peoples’ jobs easier.

4. Where The Deaths Took Place

Each death took place on foreign soil. Mr. Karlov’s killing in particular, exposed the weakness of his security contingent. If security was that weak in a comparatively volatile place like Turkey, it goes without saying that security in states considered more politically stable would be even more lax.

Again it must be said that a non-biased detective might say that the only pattern which has emerged is that many people in the Russian diplomatic corps and related institutions have heart attacks. Maybe they eat fatty foods every day and drink and smoke too much. But if this was this case, why are the heart attacks all on foreign soil?

If all of the former Ambassadors except Karlov were really in bad health, is it really just a coincidence that none of these men had a health scare on Russian soil? Again, a pattern has emerged.

5. The Ethics of Speculation? 

Many will say that it is too early to suspect foul play. Indeed, I must make it clear that this is simply speculation based on a pattern of tragic and at times unexplained events, combined with the objective reality that because of Russia’s recently elevated profile as a born-again geopolitical superpower, Russia is a bigger target for international criminals than it was in the broken 1990s or the more quiet early 2000s.

When such events happen, one’s duty is to speculate so that better health and  safety precautions are taken to ensure the wellbeing of Russia’s important diplomats. Furthermore, if foul play is a factor, it means that such seemingly unrelated events must be investigated more thoroughly.

Russia has historically suffered from invasion, revolution and more recently from immense international pressure. The Russian people, like Russia’s ambassadors are entitled to the peace and long lives deserved by any member of a country that has suffered for too long.

%d bloggers like this: