Who is Israa al-Ghomgham?

Who is Israa al-Ghomgham?

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Saudi Arabia Rejects Human-Rights Criticism, Then Crucifies Someone

Krishnadev Calamur

Even as it excoriated Canada for scolding it over human rights, Saudi Arabia beheaded a man Wednesday in Mecca, then put his body on public display, for allegedly stabbing a woman to death. The method of punishment is known in Saudi Arabia as a crucifixion, which the government says is sanctioned by Islamic law, and is reserved for only the most severe crimes in the kingdom.

The suspect in this case was a man from Myanmar who was accused of breaking into the home of a Burmese woman and repeatedly stabbing her until she died, according to Bloomberg. He was also charged with weapons theft, the attempted murder of another man, and the attempted rape of another woman. King Salman endorsed the execution. The crucifixion practice is a gruesome one and is employed sparingly; most capital crimes in Saudi Arabia are punished through beheadings alone.

But as recently as 2013, Amnesty International reported that Saudi authorities executed and crucified five Yemenis in the city of Jizan after they were found guilty of armed robbery and the murder of a Saudi man.

“Pictures emerged on social media appearing to show five decapitated bodies hanging from a horizontal pole with their heads wrapped in bags,” Amnesty International said in a statement at the time. “In Saudi Arabia, the practice of ‘crucifixion’ refers to the court-ordered public display of the body after execution, along with the separated head if beheaded. It takes place in a public square to allegedly act as a deterrent.”

Saudi Arabia, which became a country in the 1930s, has employed beheading as a means of execution for decades—though the practice itself is centuries old and was once widely employed throughout the Muslim world and beyond…

Saudi Arabia executes more people than any country except China and Iran—and it does so for a variety of crimes.

News of the latest execution came amid a bitter diplomatic dispute between Saudi Arabia and Canada over a Canadian government statement that called on Saudi authorities to “immediately release” civil-society and women’s-rights activists detained in recent days and weeks. As my colleague Sigal Samuel wrote in response, Saudi Arabia declared the Canadian ambassador persona non grata and recalled its envoy to Ottawa. It froze all trade and investment deals, canceled educational-exchange programs, and suspended flights to and from Canada.

The flare-up occurred at a pivotal time for Saudi Arabia. Its crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, or MbS, has cast himself as a reformer who is seeking to wean the Saudi economy away from its long overreliance on cheap oil and foreign labor. There have been other developments as well, which may look normal for the rest of the world but are potentially transformative for the kingdom—most significant among them, the government granting women the right to drive last September; the origins of the ban, as I noted at the time of the announcement, were murky, but the restriction appeared to be more cultural and religious than legal. But, as Samuel noted, “that win has been bookended by losses.” Women’s activists and human-rights campaigners continue to be detained. Torture remains rife in Saudi prisons, and executions continue apace.

The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, a human-rights group, said 146 people were executed in 2017, slightly less than the 154 executed in 2016. “Such a level of executions has not been witnessed since the mid 1990s,” the group said in a report released this week. The group said that as of April 2018, Saudi authorities had executed 47 people and were on pace to meet last year’s figure. Dozens more, it said, continue to face the death penalty, including some under the age of 18.

Jeffrey Goldberg, now The Atlantic’s editor in chief, wrote about one of these people, Ali al-Nimr, in 2015. Al-Nimr, the nephew of a prominent Shia leader in Sunni Saudi Arabia (who himself was executed), was sentenced to death by beheading and crucifixion, and, despite international appeals, is still awaiting execution for alleged crimes committed when he was a minor during the Arab Spring protests that rocked the region.

Saudi Arabia employs the death penalty, which sometimes is carried out by gunfire, and usually in public, in response to a wide variety of transgressions, including murder, adultery, atheism, and sorcery and witchcraft. Despite this, it has in recent years found itself on various UN panels that oversee human rights and women’s rights around the world. (The country is hardly alone in its punitive practices—or its membership on elite UN panels… The United States is among the few Western nations that conducts executions, though it is mostly carried out by lethal injection.)

Saudi Arabia’s practices have been widely condemned by the international community and human-rights groups, but given its angry response to Canada’s alleged “interference” in its internal affairs, the kingdom looks unlikely to change the way it metes out its punishments. Saad al-Beshi, a Saudi executioner, said in a 2003 interview that he was “very proud to do God’s work.”

“It doesn’t matter to me: two, four, 10—as long as I’m doing God’s will, it doesn’t matter how many people I execute,” he said, according to the BBC. He added: “No one is afraid of me. I have a lot of relatives, and many friends at the mosque, and I live a normal life like everyone else. There are no drawbacks for my social life.”

Source: The Atlantic, Edited by website team

 

Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again

Hassan Nasrallah Pays Tribute to Ahed Tamimi; NBC News Calls it the ‘Slap Heard ‘Round the World’

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It’s a strange world we live in, to be sure. You wouldn’t think NBC News and Hassan Nasrallah would ever, in a million years, find any common ground.

But in the video above we see the Secretary General of Hezbollah paying tribute to 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi, referring to her slap of an Israeli soldier as a “bold and courageous stand” against the occupation of her village and homeland.

And  perhaps almost as amazing is an article published just yesterday by NBC News under the headline Slap heard ‘round the world: Ahed Tamimi becomes symbol of Palestinian resistance . So yes, even NBC News is now referring to young Ahed’s heroic act as the “slap heard round the world”–a term I first coined back on December 21, just two days after her arrest.

And just in case the Zionist trolls start bombarding NBC with complaints, I grabbed a screenshot of the headline as it appeared on the mainstream news network’s website. Here it is:

Written by F. Brinley Bruton and Lawahez Jabari, the article notes that Ahed’s trial, which has been postponed something like three or four times now as she has languished in an Israeli prison, is scheduled, finally, to resume today. And it also says Ahed has become a role model to other Palestinians, particularly to the youth. And included is a quote to that effect from a Palestinian teen who lives in East Jerusalem:

Sineen Amereh, 16, a Palestinian resident of Arab-majority east Jerusalem, has no doubt about Tamimi’s importance to her people’s struggle against the occupation, as well as to the role of girls in that resistance.

“She’s a perfect idol for all girls her age — nobody before has done something like that,” said Amereh, an 11th grader. “If we weren’t brave, then the Israeli soldiers would think we’re weak, think we will just give up.”

Amereh says she and others are scared of soldiers like the ones Tamimi faced, but her fellow teen’s actions have given her confidence to stand up to injustice.

“Everyone is afraid, but we will keep fighting because it is not easy to give up on your land, on your home,” said Amereh.

Stunningly, the writers also allude, albeit in a somewhat ambiguous manner, to Israeli ethnic cleansing.

It is commonly felt by Arabs in east Jerusalem and the West Bank — which Israel has occupied since the 1967 war with Syria, Jordan and Egypt — that Israel is deliberately driving Palestinians from their homes. From 1967 to 2016, some 200 Jewish settlements housing around 600,000 people were built on occupied land, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. There are some 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank.

Israeli checkpoints limit the movement of Palestinians, and many cannot get to land that they say is legally theirs but lies near Jewish communities. Meanwhile, a process to create an independent Palestinian state as part of a “two-state solution” has foundered.

Admittedly, the article also quotes an Israeli Knesset member who says some nasty things, with Bruton and Jabari crediting her as “an expert on female and child Palestinian suicide bombers,” but then they go on to note what seems to be growing support for Ahed, even among prominent figures in the US:

She’s also garnered the support of a series of public figures in the U.S., including the N.F.L.’s Michael Bennett, the academic Cornel West, and the actors Danny Glover and Rosario Dawson, who signed a petition calling for her release.

The comedian Sarah Silverman provoked praise as well as outrage when she said on Twitter that Jewish people had “to stand up EVEN when — ESPECIALLY when — the wrongdoing is BY Jews/the Israeli government.”

They also note the rise to prominence of Ahed’s father, Bassem Tamimi, who, as I reported a few days ago, just made an appearance last week on a Washington D.C. public television station:

Amnesty International has called Bassem Tamimi a prisoner of conscience, while the European Union has labeled him a human rights defender.

Ahed’s cousin, 11-year-old Jana Tamimi, who goes by the name “Jana Jihad,” also gets a mention–along with the information that she has hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook.

Ahed’s younger cousin Janna, 11, does not stay at home. She calls herself the world’s youngest journalist and has some 275,000 followers on Facebook, where she goes by the name Janna Jihad. She’s been active since the age of 6 or 7.

Janna speaks English with an American accent, and finishes many of her statements with, “So yeah.”

“I wanted to be the voice of the Palestinian children and send their message to all the world,” Janna said. “Let this world know about our suffering our feelings, our parents getting killed, our sisters and brothers getting injured and arrested.”

And the article even includes Jana’s picture:

So how to explain something of this sort being published by a staid and stalwart of the mainstream such as NBC News? My guess is that it has a lot to do with evaporating support for Israel among liberal US Jews like Sarah Silverman–Jews normally thought of as “progressive except for Israel,” who, as we approach the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, are, somewhat belatedly, beginning to find the policies of apartheid and endless occupation to grotesque to stomach.

By the way, you can access Jana Jihad’s Facebook page here. The NBC report mentions that she has 275,000 followers. Perhaps we can boost that number up to a million.

It’s a strange world we live in, to be sure. You wouldn’t think NBC News and Hassan Nasrallah would ever, in a million years, find any common ground.

But in the video above we see the Secretary General of Hezbollah paying tribute to 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi, referring to her slap of an Israeli soldier as a “bold and courageous stand” against the occupation of her village and homeland.

And  perhaps almost as amazing is an article published just yesterday by NBC News under the headline Slap heard ‘round the world: Ahed Tamimi becomes symbol of Palestinian resistance . So yes, even NBC News is now referring to young Ahed’s heroic act as the “slap heard round the world”–a term I first coined back on December 21, just two days after her arrest.

And just in case the Zionist trolls start bombarding NBC with complaints, I grabbed a screenshot of the headline as it appeared on the mainstream news network’s website. Here it is:

Written by F. Brinley Bruton and Lawahez Jabari, the article notes that Ahed’s trial, which has been postponed something like three or four times now as she has languished in an Israeli prison, is scheduled, finally, to resume today. And it also says Ahed has become a role model to other Palestinians, particularly to the youth. And included is a quote to that effect from a Palestinian teen who lives in East Jerusalem:

Sineen Amereh, 16, a Palestinian resident of Arab-majority east Jerusalem, has no doubt about Tamimi’s importance to her people’s struggle against the occupation, as well as to the role of girls in that resistance.

“She’s a perfect idol for all girls her age — nobody before has done something like that,” said Amereh, an 11th grader. “If we weren’t brave, then the Israeli soldiers would think we’re weak, think we will just give up.”

Amereh says she and others are scared of soldiers like the ones Tamimi faced, but her fellow teen’s actions have given her confidence to stand up to injustice.

“Everyone is afraid, but we will keep fighting because it is not easy to give up on your land, on your home,” said Amereh.

Stunningly, the writers also allude, albeit in a somewhat ambiguous manner, to Israeli ethnic cleansing.

It is commonly felt by Arabs in east Jerusalem and the West Bank — which Israel has occupied since the 1967 war with Syria, Jordan and Egypt — that Israel is deliberately driving Palestinians from their homes. From 1967 to 2016, some 200 Jewish settlements housing around 600,000 people were built on occupied land, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. There are some 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank.

Israeli checkpoints limit the movement of Palestinians, and many cannot get to land that they say is legally theirs but lies near Jewish communities. Meanwhile, a process to create an independent Palestinian state as part of a “two-state solution” has foundered.

Admittedly, the article also quotes an Israeli Knesset member who says some nasty things, with Bruton and Jabari crediting her as “an expert on female and child Palestinian suicide bombers,” but then they go on to note what seems to be growing support for Ahed, even among prominent figures in the US:

She’s also garnered the support of a series of public figures in the U.S., including the N.F.L.’s Michael Bennett, the academic Cornel West, and the actors Danny Glover and Rosario Dawson, who signed a petition calling for her release.

The comedian Sarah Silverman provoked praise as well as outrage when she said on Twitter that Jewish people had “to stand up EVEN when — ESPECIALLY when — the wrongdoing is BY Jews/the Israeli government.”

They also note the rise to prominence of Ahed’s father, Bassem Tamimi, who, as I reported a few days ago, just made an appearance last week on a Washington D.C. public television station:

Amnesty International has called Bassem Tamimi a prisoner of conscience, while the European Union has labeled him a human rights defender.

Ahed’s cousin, 11-year-old Jana Tamimi, who goes by the name “Jana Jihad,” also gets a mention–along with the information that she has hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook.

Ahed’s younger cousin Janna, 11, does not stay at home. She calls herself the world’s youngest journalist and has some 275,000 followers on Facebook, where she goes by the name Janna Jihad. She’s been active since the age of 6 or 7.

Janna speaks English with an American accent, and finishes many of her statements with, “So yeah.”

“I wanted to be the voice of the Palestinian children and send their message to all the world,” Janna said. “Let this world know about our suffering our feelings, our parents getting killed, our sisters and brothers getting injured and arrested.”

And the article even includes Jana’s picture:

So how to explain something of this sort being published by a staid and stalwart of the mainstream such as NBC News? My guess is that it has a lot to do with evaporating support for Israel among liberal US Jews like Sarah Silverman–Jews normally thought of as “progressive except for Israel,” who, as we approach the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, are, somewhat belatedly, beginning to find the policies of apartheid and endless occupation to grotesque to stomach.

By the way, you can access Jana Jihad’s Facebook page here. The NBC report mentions that she has 275,000 followers. Perhaps we can boost that number up to a million.

US-made Bomb Killed Civilians in Yemen Residential Building, Says Amnesty

September 22, 2017

Yemen strike

A bomb that destroyed a residential building in Yemen’s capital last month, killing 16 civilians and injuring 17 more – including a five-year-old girl called Buthaina whose photograph went viral after the strike – was made in the US, Amnesty International has said.

The assessment was based on an examination of the remnants of the weapon used in the 25 August airstrike.

The Saudi Arabia-led military coalition admitted carrying out the attack, blaming civilian casualties on a “technical error”.

Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East research director, said: “We can now conclusively say that the bomb that killed Buthaina’s parents and siblings, and other civilians, was made in the USA.

Yemen has been since March 2015 under a brutal aggression by Saudi-led coalition. Tens of thousands of Yemenis have been injured or martyred in Saudi-led strikes, with the vast majority of them are civilians.

The coalition has been also imposing a blockade on the impoverished country’s ports and airports as a part of his aggression which is aimed at restoring power to fugitive former president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

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They Were ‘Grilled Alive’: US Government Exposed Running Nazi-Like Torture Program in Yemen

The US is once again facing allegations of torture, this time during the interrogation of detainees in more than a dozen secret prisons in Yemen.

Global Research, June 24, 2017
Free Thought Project 22 June 2017

An unprecedented report from the corporate press claims U.S. forces have participated in extreme torture and abuse of detainees accused of affiliation with Al Qaeda in Yemen — including “the ‘grill,’ in which the victim is tied to a spit like a roast and spun in a circle of fire,” the Associated Press finds.

A network of secretive prisons in southern Yemen provide the backdrop for the alleged barbaric acts allegedly carried out by forces from the U.S. and United Arab Emirates — many of those detention facilities remain hidden in plain sight.

That some of the covert prisons sit inside military bases might not be much of a shock, but others are located in ports, an airport, private villas, and even a nightclub — and all, according to the AP, remain untouchable by the embattled Yemeni government.

Whistleblower Edward Snowden weighed in on the new revelations, tweeting,

American officials unsurprisingly balked at the accusation troops have participated in the astonishingly heinous behavior described in the AP’s report.

Reports the AP:

“Senior American defense officials acknowledged Wednesday that U.S. forces have been involved in interrogations of detainees in Yemen but denied any participation in or knowledge of human rights abuses. Interrogating detainees who have been abused could violate international law, which prohibits complicity in torture.

“The AP documented at least 18 clandestine lockups across southern Yemen run by the United Arab Emirates or by Yemeni forces created and trained by the Gulf nation, drawing on accounts from former detainees, families of prisoners, civil rights lawyers and Yemeni military officials. All are either hidden or off limits to Yemen’s government, which has been getting Emirati help in its civil war with rebels over the last two years.”

Notably, this is the first ‘official’ acknowledgment the United States participates in interrogations inside the borders of Yemen.

Forces transported some detainees to an Emirati base in Eritrea, according to Yemen Interior Minister Hussein Arab.

Unnamed and unverifiable U.S. defense officials told the Associated Press ‘senior U.S. military leaders’ have been aware of alleged torture taking place in Yemen for some time — but have investigated the charges, and apparently found nothing amiss, as U.S. troops, they claim, were never present during detainee torture.

Perhaps beyond tellingly, neither the AP nor the anonymous officials elucidated on whether the lack of U.S. troop presence during the alleged grilling alive of detainees meant senior military leaders indeed discovered forces from other nations roasting people alive and said nothing, or that the torture allegations were completely baseless.

Those defense officials further

“told AP that American forces do participate in interrogations of detainees at locations in Yemen, provide questions for others to ask, and receive transcripts of interrogations from Emirati allies.”

Torture this horrific, if proven true, harkens immediately back to Bush-era implementation of barbaric human rights violations by the CIA — which included waterboarding and other acts the agency, itself, knew to be utterly inefficacious — which temporarily halted adherence to the law and all semblance of ethics under the premise of extracting information from detainees following the attacks of 9/11.

“We always adhere to the highest standards of personal and professional conduct,” chief Defense Department spokeswoman, Dana White, told the AP on perusal of its report. “We would not turn a blind eye, because we are obligated to report any violations of human rights.”

In a statement, the UAE government also balked, insisting,

“There are no secret detention centers and no torture of prisoners is done during interrogations.”

“The UAE was one of the countries involved in the CIA’s torture and rendition program,” reminds New York University Professor of Law Ryan Goodman. “These reports are hauntingly familiar and potentially devastating in their legal and policy implications.”

To repeat, the U.S. Department of Defense must report violations of human rights — yet the vagueness of the claim senior military brass investigated allegations of excruciating torture, but would only offer that U.S. troops had not been present. Without further explanation, that detail could indicate a troubling sin of omission — in short, a failure to report violations of human rights.

UAE runs ‘secret torture prisons’ in Yemen as US Interrogating

Source: Middle East Press

Not one of the dozens interviewed by the AP accused U.S. troops of witnessing torture, but the malicious, degrading, deplorable, torturous abuses described by former inmates of the secret prisons would seem impossible to have taken place without their cognizance.

AP continues:

“At one main detention complex at Riyan airport in the southern city of Mukalla, former inmates described being crammed into shipping containers smeared with feces and blindfolded for weeks on end. They said they were beaten, trussed up on the ‘grill,’ and sexually assaulted. According to a member of the Hadramawt Elite, a Yemeni security force set up by the UAE, American forces were at times only yards away. He requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.

“‘We could hear the screams,’ said a former detainee held for six months at Riyan airport. ‘The entire place is gripped by fear. Almost everyone is sick, the rest are near death. Anyone who complains heads directly to the torture chamber.’ He was flogged with wires, part of the frequent beatings inflicted by guards against all the detainees. He also said he was inside a metal shipping container when the guards lit a fire underneath to fill it with smoke.”

As in the first revelations on the renewed use of the gross physical and psychological abuses comprising torture, human rights advocates admonished such practices cannot be carried out without the broad knowledge of military and intelligence officials at the scene — particularly not for the duration described.

“It would be a stretch to believe the US did not know or could not have known that there was a real risk of torture,” Amnesty International Director of Research in the Middle East, Lynn Maalouf, told the Associated Press. Amnesty called for a swift investigation by the United Nations into the torture allegations against the UAE and other possible participants or knowledgeable parties.

Torture has been championed as acceptable by the president and other U.S. officials, despite its illegality internationally — almost exclusively as a tool of the War on Terror to extract information from prisoners — but torture has been proven repeatedly to be ineffective for that very purpose.

At least 2,000 people have vanished in Yemen — their families left agonizing over their fate, tragically wondering whether a torturous interrogation took their lives.

“Wives, mothers, and daughters in the north and south of Yemen want to know whether their husbands, sons, and brothers are all right, if they are even alive,” noted Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, after issuance of a similar report on torture in Yemen by her organization, on Thursday.

“Yemen, the UAE, Houthi-Saleh forces, and any other party disappearing people should immediately inform families of where their loved ones are and release those held arbitrarily.”

Despite denial of allegations by the United States military and government of the United Arab Emirates, the report from the Associated Press most likely will be remembered as the beginning of yet another torture scandal embroiling perpetually-ethicless entities during a complex and violent conflict — one, again, involving the U.S., which fights for freedom and against terror by, apparently, eviscerating freedom and waging terror.

Featured image: Free Thought Project

You Only Hate Assad Because Your TV Told You To

By Caitlin Johnstone

“Whame paintt we’ve been undergoing to a large extent is a form of psychological abuse, actually, by very narcissistic, hegemonic governments and officials for a very long time. It’s a form of gas lighting where actually our own faith in our ability to judge a situation, and to some extent even our own identity, has been eroded and damaged to the point where we’re effectively accepting their version of reality.” ~ Vanessa Beeley

May 27, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – The only thing keeping westerners from seeing through the lies that they’ve been told about Syria is the unquestioned assumption that their own government could not possibly be that evil. They have no trouble believing that a foreigner from a Muslim-majority country could be gratuitously using chemical weapons on children at the most strategically disastrous time possible and bombing his own civilians for no discernible reason other than perhaps sheer sexual sadism, but the possibility that their government is making those things up in order to manufacture consent for regime change is ruled out before any critical analysis of the situation even begins.

Despite the evil and unforgivable invasion of Iraq having happened a mere fourteen years ago, sold to the public based on nothing but lies and mass media propaganda, mainstream America is unwilling to consider the possibility that this is happening again. Unwilling to turn and face the implications of what this would mean for their worldview, their self-image, and the entire system they’ve developed for examining and interpreting their experience of their lives up until this point.

Independent investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley has emerged from her latest trip to Syria burning with a new kind of fire. There’s something in her voice and the posture she now takes which conveys a new kind of authority, a sense that she has now seen enough and gathered enough evidence to observe unmasked the full picture of this monster of deceit she’s been fighting.

In her recent phenomenal interview on The Sane Progressive, Beeley shreds the entire work of fiction we’re being fed, from small details which show that the “White Helmets” are literally nothing other than Al-Qaeda members wearing special hats, to a breakdown of the way NGOs are used by government foundations and plutocrats to help construct propaganda narratives, all the way up to a big-picture analysis of the general unwholesome dynamic that gave rise to these despicable manipulations in the first place.

If you can set aside one hour of free time in the next few days, please give it to this important interview. If you have more time, watch it again, take notes, pause frequently, and research what she’s saying. You’ll never find such a densely-packed arsenal of weaponry for use in our media war against America’s unelected power establishment.

Beeley’s statements about the White Helmets (who, despite their ubiquitous image in the west, nobody in East Aleppo had even heard of during her time there last year) have now been backed by none other than award-winning journalist John Pilger, who called them “a complete propaganda construct” in a recent interview.

I have lost all patience with people who involve themselves in the conversation about the current Syrian administration by acknowledging the existence of western lies and propaganda about Syria and yet still maintaining that Assad is an evil dictator who needs to be deposed somehow.

This is an astonishingly common perspective in online discourse about Syria even among people who are relatively woke to what’s going on; they see it as the more moderate and well-reasoned position to simultaneously acknowledge that the US power establishment is known to use lies, propaganda and false flags to manufacture public consent for devastating acts of military violence, and also that Assad is horrible and evil.

There’s this odd, unquestioned assumption that the most honest position to espouse when two narratives contradict each other is to stand right in between them. This is a logic fail; it is a result of bad thinking. The midway point between two positions is not always the most truthful ground; when slavery was being debated, the correct position between “slavery is great” and “slavery is evil” was not “slavery is okay sometimes”. The correct position between “kill all Jews” and “don’t kill any Jews” is not “kill some of the Jews”. The correct position between “Our leaders are lying to us about Syria to manufacture consent for a regime change invasion” and “Assad is an evil dictator who needs to be deposed” is not “Well they’re both kinda true, it’s complicated.”

In reality, we cannot know with any degree of certainty how good or bad a leader Assad is. There’s too much smoke in the air, too much propaganda and deliberate deceit clouding our vision to get a clear picture of the complete political dynamic of an entire government. No reasonable, clear-thinking person can justifiably say with any degree of confidence that Assad is an evil dictator. There is no way to know.

What we can know with absolute certainty is that we are being lied to about Syria by western governments and the mass media propaganda machines which promote their oligarchic agendas. The mountains of evidence that are coming out against the White Helmets, the fact that Amnesty International is the same organization that promoted the false Nayirah testimony which was used to manufacture consent for the Gulf War, the fact that CNN recently staged a fake interview featuring a seven year-old girl who can’t speak English reading scripted anti-Assad propaganda to an unsuspecting audience; there is enough there to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the same power establishment that lied to us about Iraq is now lying to us about its neighbor Syria.

The only question is whether or not you have the emotional and intellectual integrity to face this reality.

We can also know that Assad is neither stupid nor insane. If you haven’t seen the interview he gave last month, check out the above video in which he tells his side of the story in perfect English. This is not the slobbering madman we’re asked to believe launched a sarin gas attack on his own civilians for no reason at the most inopportune time possible. Nor is he the strategic brute who gasses children to keep his citizenry fearing that there’s no limit to the savagery he’ll inflict upon them as in the narrative being promulgated by corporate media, since he tells them that he’d ever do such a thing in the interview.

It is possible that he is corrupt, it is possible that he has been needlessly oppressive in some ways; there’s no way to know in the current environment. But he is definitely neither stupid nor insane, as he would have needed to have been to have launched the Idlib gas attacks when he is alleged to have.

As the interviewer Debbie Lusignan said to Beeley

“Even if people are having a hard time because there is such a bombardment of disinformation and it’s very hard to sort it out and the alternative media is being suppressed and censored, basic common sense says that these are the same media outlets and the same political establishment structures that have been lying to us for all these other atrocities that we always find out after the fact were based on disinformation and manipulation and false information,” said Debbie. “So at this point, the American people themselves need to take some responsibility in terms of understanding that we have had such a history of this being the status quo, the way that the United States justifies and launches wars.”

“Our premise should be — they’re going to lie to us. And our burden of real proof should be through the roof.”

Is it possible that there is a power establishment governing your country which is so evil that it would engineer the deaths of children in a false flag attack to manufacture consent for a strategically valuable regime change it’s been seeking for decades? It’s uncomfortable to consider this possibility.

Much easier to believe there’s a depraved nutcase foreigner hurling chemical weapons and barrel bombs at civilians willy nilly who needs to be taken out by Good Guys. Much more difficult to do the rigorous intellectual and emotional work needed to escape from the institutional brainwashing Vanessa Beeley describes in her article “Gaslighting: State Mind Control and Abusive Narcissism” and do the necessary research to get a clear picture of what is going on. But you undeniably have the ability to make that choice, here and now as you finish this article.

Are you the sort of person who can face uncomfortable truths and revise their worldview accordingly, or the type who compartmentalizes and avoids them for the sake of cognitive comfort?

Step into the light.

This article was first published by 21wire

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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