Highlights of Israeli Ruthlessness

By Stephen Lendman
Source

Last year was devastating for long-suffering Palestinians, the way things have been for over seven decades.

B’Tselem compiled examples of Israeli ruthlessness in 2018. Its security forces murdered 290 defenseless Palestinian civilians, including 55 children.

The toll includes 254 Gazan deaths, mostly during peaceful Great March of Return demonstrations, assaulted by extreme Israeli violence. 

Another 34 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, two others in Jewish state territory – all of it stolen from Palestinians.

Repeated incidents throughout the year, and every year, “are a direct result of Israel’s reckless open-fire policy, authorized by the government and the top military command, and backed by the judicial system,” B’Tselem stressed, adding: 

“As long as Israel adheres to this policy, despite its predictable outcomes, the casualties will continue to amass.”

Extremist settlers killed at least three Palestinians, harmed many others, including young children. A Palestinians woman threatening no one, Aishah Rabi, was stoned to death in a car she was riding in.

Most Palestinian deaths are because of Israel’s shoot-first-ask-no-questions policy, its longstanding contempt for Palestinian lives and welfare.

Israel considers cold-blooded murder self-defense. Soldiers given unlawful orders use live fire against peaceful demonstrators in Gaza and elsewhere in the Territories.

“Despite the predictable lethal outcomes, Israel has refused to alter its policy,” said B’Tselem, adding:

“This ongoing profound disregard for the lives of Palestinians is broadly backed by senior policy-makers in the military, the government and the judicial system.” 

Almost never is anyone “held accountable for these incidents, and the military law enforcement system whitewashes them. Given this sweeping support and the lack of accountability for these deaths, such incidents will continue” – as they have since the Jewish state’s creation.

Law enforcement in Occupied Palestine is “a whitewash mechanism,” B’Tselem stressed. Investigations when conducted, including violent incidents causing deaths and injuries, are routinely whitewashed.

Senior government and military officials are never held accountable for the worst of high crimes against Palestinians – rank-and-file military personnel almost never. The rarest of rare exceptions prove the rule.

Military law enforcement shows almost no attempts to punish Israeli wrongdoers when it comes crimes against Palestinians.

Settlers nearly always go unpunished for violent and vandalism incidents. One aggrieved Palestinian said the following:

“The settlers have the army, the state and the law on their side to protect them. We don’t have anyone. We’re guilty even if we did nothing. We’re always the guilty ones. It’s really hard to feel that your life is in danger and your property is being destroyed in front of your eyes.”

A Palestinian woman recounted the horror of a settler attack she and her husband endured, saying the following:

“At first, I thought that the people standing by the road were Palestinians who work in the settlements. As we got closer, I noticed that they were masked, and then they started to throw stones at us.” 

“One of the stones shattered the front windshield and I hollered in fear. I told my husband to drive quickly.” 

“I heard the stones hitting the car and felt that we were about to die, especially when the settlers chased after us after we’d passed them.” 

“Iman asked me to recite verses from the Quran and to trust in God. I was shaking with fear and cold, because the window had been broken and it was very windy.” 

‘Small fragments of glass got in my eye and I felt stinging and pain. I couldn’t open my eye and lots of tears were coming out.” 

“When we got home, I left Rital with my sister and went to see the doctor at the village clinic. He cleaned my eye and gave me some liquid to rinse it with.” 

“I got home at about eleven o’clock and I couldn’t sleep because I was so scared. I couldn’t get the images of the attack out of my mind.” 

“It’s like they found live prey to attack. I still panic when I think about it. On Saturday my husband went to Nablus to replace the front windshield. It cost us 700 shekels. The body of the car also need to be repaired, and that will cost us more money and take time.”

Countless other horror stories are similar to the above ones. Yesh Din volunteers for human rights include lawyers, human rights experts, and other professionals.

They document, compile, and disseminate information on human rights violations in the Territories – by security forces and settlers, complicit with each other against defenseless Palestinians.

Numerous incidents happen almost daily. Palestinians are longstanding victims of a ruthless occupier, Gazans suffering most of all.

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Israel Has Been Weakened by The War on Syria: Only 5% of The Iranian And Hezbollah Arsenal Has Been Destroyed in Syria

By Elijah. J. Magnier
Source

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Intelligence sources said “Israel wants Syria to return to the era before 2011 when the leaders of the country were less powerful and experienced than they are today after seven years of warfare, the delivery of Russian advanced equipment mostly for air defence, the supply and manufacturer of sophisticated Iranian missiles in Syria and the formative presence of Iranian and Hezbollah advisors”. The sources reveal that “Israeli officials told their American counterparts that it would be inappropriate to withdraw forces from the northeast of Syria, leaving Iran and its allies behind. The withdrawal – which now seems partial – of US forces should be done, if not before, at least simultaneously with the departure of all foreign forces operating on Syrian soil to create a balance of power on the ground. Also, it is important to stipulate that President Bashar al-Assad must refrain from using his mid-range precision missiles against Israel any time in the future as part of any US withdrawal from Syria deal. Israel argued that the US is delivering the Levant to Russia and the ‘Axis of the Resistance’ without any concessions in return”, according to the source.

The US establishment seems unwilling to cater to Israeli’s exaggerated anxieties. US officials visiting Tel Aviv told local officials that “the Israeli army holds enough military power to defend itself and that since 1974 Israel has no longer been on the defensive in the region. On the contrary, Israel has been on the offensive, taking the initiative to attack targets in Syria during these seven years of war”. According to western officials, the US reminded Israel that thousands of American forces are based in the country, in the Mediterranean and in various military bases the Middle East. These can intervene in favour of Israel in a timely way whenever appropriate. Therefore, Israel should stop screaming for unneeded help, when it is the one inflicting damage on its adversaries”.

Israel has repeatedly bombed targets in Syria belonging to the Syrian army and the “Axis of the Resistance”. It pushed the red lines even further when it bombed Iranian officials at the T4 airbase in 2018, killing several Iranian officers. In 2019, Israel already bombed a warehouse at Damascus airport, hours after the off-loading of Iranian military cargo. Although most of the Israeli missiles were shot down, a few managed to reach their target. Nevertheless, these bombings have little meaning on the strategic level because, although Israel has shown the long reach of its missiles, it has dramatically failed in its goal of crippling the missile capability of Syria and of Hezbollah in the Lebanon and Syria. During his recent visit to Cairo US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Hezbollah today has “over 130,000 missiles”.

If, as Israeli Chief of Staff General Gadi Eisenkot says, Israel “has complete intelligence superiority in the area” of Lebanon and Syria, how can he explain the arrival and deployment of a hundred and thirty thousands missiles – according to Pompeo – in Hezbollah’s hands? Eisenkot misled the Israelis when he said “Hezbollah possesses no accurate missile capabilities, except for small and negligible ones”. Indeed, when the leader of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, warned Israel that he would “respond against any Israeli attack on Lebanon”, Israel heeded his warning and refrained from attacking any target in Lebanon. Throughout the war in Syria, Israeli jets violated the Lebanese airspace and flew over Lebanon to bomb Syria but didn’t dare to attack any Hezbollah objective in Lebanon, limiting themselves to attacking Hezbollah’s military trucks, Syrian and Iranian objectives in the Levant.

According to well-connected sources, Israeli jets fired warning missiles in front of targeted trucks – before destroying the target later on – to avoid human casualties for fear of Hezbollah retaliation. If Israeli intelligence about the supposedly limited military power of Hezbollah is accurate, it makes no sense for Eisenkot to boast about his allegedly almighty military power against a “negligible enemy,” as he describes the military capability of the Lebanese “party of God”.

Sources operating in Syria and Lebanon agree with Israeli statements that Israel has bombarded various objectives in Syria with thousands of bombs, as announced by Prime Minister Netanyahu. Nevertheless, they claim that only 5% of the total weapon supply was intercepted and destroyed.

“Israel’s bombing of targets in Syria has been neither strategic nor tactical. They were political attacks aimed at boosting Netanyahu’s image. These strikes did not weaken the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) nor Hezbollah. Israel contradicts itself all the time. For example, the Israelis say: Hezbollah is the fifth most powerful force in the world, but is very weak and has limited power… Hezbollah is digging four tunnels which represent a serious threat to Israel’s national security, etc.”, said the source.

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In fact, Israel has not provoked or attacked Hezbollah since the 2006 war. The only serious attack was registered in 2015 by a drone in Quneitra that killed Jihad Mughnnieh and the Iranian General Mohammad Ali AllahDade. The attack was not planned but rather an opportunistic attack on an Iranian-Hezbollah convoy of 3 four-wheel drive vehicles who spent several hours playing in the snow in an area in sight of an Israeli observation point. Israel didn’t know who was the target and certainly was unaware of the presence of the IRGC General. In retaliation, Hezbollah attacked an Israeli patrol in the Shebaa Farms killing several soldiers and an officer. Israel turned a blind eye and the tit-for-tat was closed between the two sides.

President Assad and his allies believe that Israel is trying to provoke Syria to respond to its violations of Syrian sovereignty in order to postpone or avoid a US withdrawal from Syria. For this reason, they prefer to not respond directly to Israeli provocations, in the expectation of a US withdrawal. Nevertheless, President Trump’s recent comments about “a 20 mile buffer zone” on the borders is an indication that he now intends to keep some forces in Syria and carry out only a partial rather than a full withdrawal of US troops.

Syria and its allies will need to reassess their strategy in response to Israeli aggression and US occupying troops when the dust settles in the northeast of Syria. So far, it is impossible to ascertain what Trump will decide in view of his ongoing contradictory statements about the US occupation of Syria.

Notwithstanding Trump’s intentions towards Syria and his fickle withdrawal plans, Israel has failed in all of its objectives in Syria: the Syrian government is still in place, the army has been rebuilt and Hezbollah and Iran have trained local fighters who are determined to stand against Israel in due course. Today, in 2019, Hezbollah has received all the missiles and different weaponry needed – as Pompeo has admitted– and Iran is a source of great concern for Israel and the US, present on its Syria front where before it was present only on the borders with Lebanon. Therefore, Israel, despite its heated media declarations and the thousands of targets it has hit in Syria in recent years, feels much more vulnerable today than it did in 2011.

Also, the Iraqi front cannot be discounted: al-Hashd al-Shaabi, the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Force, was created in 2014 to stand against ISIS. Today it is made up of tens of thousands of men highly trained and equipped with a strong ideology comparable to that of Hezbollah and Iran. Iranian influence has expanded from Lebanon to Syria and Iraq. Israel has grounds for concern.

But that is not all: Iran is present in Yemen where Saudi Arabia’s destructive war against the Houthis has offered Iran a unique opportunity to support the oppressed against the oppressor. Iran has also managed to create a foothold in Afghanistan: the Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was invited to Tehran along with a high-ranking Taliban delegation. Iran licked its wounds when Taliban killed ten Iranian diplomats in Mazar i-Sharif and eventually managed to overcome its differences with Taliban for the greater cause of standing up to US hegemony in Afghanistan.

Iran and Syria have shown patience in biding their time and building their strength. After its 1979 revolution Iran’s government had little international experience. It began support of Hezbollah in 1982. Thirty-five years later, Hezbollah has become an organised irregular army present on many Middle Eastern fronts. While Israel may enjoy provoking Syria with tactical attacks and thousands of bombardments against various targets, the new strategic reality is inescapable. Both Iran and Syria have survived continuous threats and wars but have managed to pull through stronger. At the same time Israel, a nuclear power with the strongest air force in the Middle East, is to-date refraining from attacking Lebanon, a small country hardly visible on the world map. Israel is deterred by three words from Sayyed Nasrallah to the powerful Tel Aviv leaders who enjoy the unlimited support of a superpower (USA): Don’t try us!

What Happened To the Billions Germany Gave Israel?

By Hafsa Kara Mustapha
Source

Holocaust_Survivor_4ea8a.jpg

The Holiday season as December is now referred to, is a time for parties, family gatherings, gift sharing and all the lovely things associated with the end of year festivities.

As the party season bids farewell and the cold weather intensifies it is also a time to reflect on those less fortunate.

In this context, charities work particularly hard to raise funds for the category of people they chose to support. Across social media, which have become major advertising platforms, appeals for funds are now a regular fixture on users’ feeds.

A recent request for donations that was of particular interest was one for money to help elderly Holocaust survivors in their twilight years.

The touching images of frail-looking men and woman are undoubtedly moving and force all those who see them feel much empathy towards a group of vulnerable people who suffered major trauma. Yet as the details of requested donations emerged it became increasingly odd to see these adverts. Of all the vulnerable groups existing today Holocaust survivors are, thanks to reparations paid by Germany, aptly provided for.

Claims Conference

In 1951, just under six years after the end of the Second World War, an organisation was set up called the Claims Conference.

It was tasked with obtaining reparations from Germany in order to compensate Jews for the persecution they suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime. It has to be noted however that Roma, gay, disabled as well as Communist activists who were equally interned in concentration camps, were not offered financial reparations.

Never the less the Claims Conference, set up by a group of Jewish organisations, has been working tirelessly to seek ‘a small measure of justice for Jewish victims’ as stated on its website.

This ‘small measure,’ obtained from Germany, has totalled over $70bn over the past seventy years.

This eye-watering sum that amounts to the state budgets of several countries would have been used to assist Jewish victims following the collapse of Hitler’s rule.

Yet the regular appeals for further donations, from ordinary citizens, implies that Holocaust survivors are still in need of monetary assistance, despite ongoing negotiations with the governments of Germany and Austria to pay further damages to Jewish claimants.

So the question is if Germany –and Austria – have released over $70bn to compensate survivors yet survivors are still in need of assistance, where has the money gone?

In July 2018 the German government agreed to release a further $88m towards care cost for the elderly.

Yet by Christmas adverts appealing for support for the very few survivors left were circulating again.

According to Claims Conference auditing is undertaken by KPMG however the body is regulated by the organisations that form it.

In 2013, a Holocaust survivor called Dora Roth made headlines when she accused the Israeli government of siphoning money destined for victims such as herself.

In April 2016 Haim Katz, Israel’s welfare minister, released a report revealing that more than 20,000 survivors in Israel had never received financial assistance owed to them.

The money, however, was regularly delivered by Germany yet it appears it never reached those it was intended for.

While Germany is only too happy to deliver the funds it is silent on who should be their recipients. According to one former German politician, now working in the financial sector, German politicians cannot stand up to Israel. ‘They know Israel will shout anti-Semitism at the first opportunity and are too terrified with being labelled with that fateful word.’ Asked if German media and politicians are not concerned about where these vast sums of money are ending, he added that issues relevant to compensation and Israel are taboo in his country.

‘Despite the economic downturn, we continue to be milked like cash cows, knowing full well it’s beyond reason to continue to demand such sums, yet there are no brave politicians or journalists willing to ask the questions.’

The Israeli minister who exposed the problem also went on to say that the problem is far worse than it appears as his report only took into account the surviving victims as of 2016 explaining that many more died throughout the years without ever seeing the money Israel claimed on their behalf.

Israel for its part blames the delay in delivering the funds to issues relating to heavy bureaucracy but many find that argument laughable.

Simon, an ex Israeli now living in Paris laughs at this excuse: ‘it didn’t take them 70 years to fleece the Germans but they –Israeli authorities- need 70 years to distribute the money.’

Disillusioned with Israel and its founding ideology Zionism, Simon is scathing towards his former country: ‘To get a permit to destroy a Palestinian home, they took 7 minutes, adding that his rejection of the country was a result of the abuse he received from other Israelis because he was a Holocaust survivor.’

We were viewed with absolute contempt by our ‘fellow countrymen’ (he insists on the brackets). They would tell us we were weak and went to the camps like ‘sheep to the slaughter’.

They would even make sheep noises when I used to walk in the streets when neighbours found out I was a survivor.

Confirming how unimportant Holocaust survivors are in Israeli society, and how oblivious the public is to their plight, Roth’s outburst had little consequences. From a European or American perspective, the fact survivors who have obtained so many reparations –unlike any other group in history- should be left to die in poverty should be major news and yet the money continues to be delivered while the victims continue to die destitute.

Ironically it is their legacy that is used as a justification for the existence of the nation that continues to neglect and despise them.

Who will dare ask the question?

Despite all the evidence of legitimate questions being raised, no one is raising them.

Where is this money ending up? Who is tasked with distributing and why is it failing?

Why should so much of it go through the Israeli government when not all survivors are or have remained in Israel?

Some claim Israel uses it as part of its nationwide budget others still say it is going to fund the military.

It is ironic that money made available to victims of war should now be invested in furthering wars by a country itself often accused of Nazi-like policies and routinely committing war crimes.

The spectre of being labelled an anti-Semite is, of course, a genuine concern no politician or journalist can ignore.

The mere fact of holding to account Israel over the possibility some are extorting funds would be spun as the ‘age-old accusations Jews love money.’

Anti-semitic ‘tropes’ as these bizarre semantic twists are called are casually thrown about wherever Israel or a Zionist person or organisation face questions.

If questions arise about misinformation from an Israeli source then claims of ‘Jews run the media’ will soon surface and bring the subject to a close.

Should claims of embezzlement surround an Israeli or Zionist body then its accusations of ‘Jews love money.’

Even high-profile cases of child abuse involving notable Zionist figures are inevitably spun as ‘Jews are using the blood of goyim children.’

For every Israeli/Zionist crime, there is its accompanying ‘anti-Semitism’ protection policy.

This time, however, victims of Israeli dishonesty are Jewish.

Who will speak up for them?

No one is the simple answer. According to varying reports, most if not all Holocaust victims will have died by 2025.

Israel is therefore just buying time. Meanwhile, now that Germany can no longer be ‘legally’ fleeced, Arab money is the next target for Israel’s appetite for easy ‘guilt money,’ as Simon puts it.

Israel- who expelled Palestinians from their ancestral homeland in 1948 yet refuses to compensate them- is going after Arab states in the hope of obtaining some $250bn in reparations. Though the overwhelming majority of Arab Jews left their Arab nations voluntarily and were never subjected to any treatment remotely equivalent to concentration camps, Israel, knowing it can manipulate international institutions, is launching its latest money-making scheme.

The only question that remains is who will be made to pay up next?

Gamblers are betting on Italy. After all the Roman Empire has a lot to answer for.

Syria: The Western Rogue States Must Confess Their Crimes Against Humanity and be Held Accountable

Syria: The Western Rogue States Must Confess Their Crimes Against Humanity and be Held Accountable

By Vanessa Beeley

The West and its allies in the Gulf States, Turkey and Israel have waged an eight year war against the Syrian people. The West has besieged, starved and deprived the Syrian people of humanitarian aid while pouring “aid” into the areas controlled by their extremist sectarian proxy armies.

The West has violated international law and it has enabled the destruction of Syria’s history, heritage and cultural footprint. The West has behaved as a collective rogue state without conscience and without pity for a people its media has systematically dehumanised to enable such a crime to take place.


Christmas 2018 in Damascus, Old City, without mortars from Eastern Ghouta since its liberation in April 2018. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Despite this war of attrition and despite battling disproportionate force, the Syrian people have refused to capitulate or to abandon their secularism in favour of an extremist tyranny that would destroy their society and persecute the minority communities into extinction. Christmas 2018 has demonstrated the victory of Syrian unity over the regime change project incubated in the West which is now a failed campaign lying in tatters at the feet of the self determination of the Syrian people, the valiant defence by the Syrian Arab Army and the steadfastness of the Syrian Government and its President, Bashar Al Assad.

In Aleppo I spoke with Pastor Ibrahim Nseir of Aleppo’s Presbyterian Church, whom I had also interviewed in 2017.  The following is a mixture of quotes and paraphrase from our conversation on New Year’s Eve 2018/19.

Image on the right: Reverend Ibrahim Nseir, Presbyterian Church, Aleppo. December 31st 2018. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

 

 

 

 

The Presbyterian Church in the Old City of Aleppo was destroyed by the Western-backed terrorist groups in November 2012. An article in the Mennonite World Review in July 2018 described the destruction of the church – “In the old city of Aleppo, Syria, Ibrahim Nseir stands on the pile of rubble that used to be his church. The building where his congregation worshiped is now broken stones and dust. It’s a sunny day, the bright sky a stark contrast to the destruction on the ground.”

After eight years of resistance against the threat of persecution and mass exodus of Christians from Aleppo, Nseir remains defiant and upbeat about the future of Aleppo and Syria. Of the 300,000 Syrian Christians in Aleppo, only 30,000 remain. This is the legacy of sectarian oppression that has been imprinted upon Syria by Western hegemony and it will take generations for it to be turned around.

Nseir described the rebuilding process for the Presbyterian Church as difficult but he insisted that it would be rebuilt from its original stones to preserve its historical identity. For Nseir the priorities for Aleppo and Syria are to address the economic situation which has clearly taken a hit on many levels and is suffering in a typical post-war slump. Education is another top priority for this intelligent and enthusiastic Reverend. The intention is to create a center for retreats and conferences at the current Presbyterian Church offices in the center of Aleppo, including a student dormitory.

“We will increase educational capacity by 1000 in the very near future and continue to build upon this progress” Nseir told me.

Education, according to Nseir, is the greatest weapon against extremism and is the only way to re-habilitate children who spent seven of their formative years under occupation of extremist and sectarian factions who worked hard to brainwash almost an entire generation of Syria’s children.

“Ethically the West and the East are responsible for Syria’s destruction. This is not a “Christian” issue, it is a World issue.” Nseir insisted.

The role of the Western media in manufacturing consent for the collective punishment of the Syrian people was clearly a primary cause of the devastation that Nseir and other faith leaders across Syria are now dealing with:

“Western media played more than a negative role, they literally urged the terrorists to take action against the Syrian people by providing false information and blinding people in the West to what was really happening in Syria for eight years. This should never be forgotten.”

Nseir stressed that the healing process for children traumatised by the war would not be easy.

“How do you erase the hatred and horror planted in the brains of 7-10-year-old children by these fanatics? What do you expect from children who have played football with the head of a Syrian Araby Army soldier or who have witnessed the violent abuse of their mother by these terrorists or have seen their father executed by the armed groups? This is the greatest challenge for Humanity and for Syria to put right these terrible wrongs.”

Nseir spoke of the shocking estimated figures of 82,000 children whose father is unknown, referring to the huge number of young women raped or forced into multiple marriages by the terrorist groups and their fighters. How do these children regain their identity and re-integrate into Syrian society? The rebuilding of schools and hospitals must be a priority. The terrorists destroyed “the most developed hospital in the Middle East, Al Kindi” in 2013 and since then, and the destruction of more hospitals across Syria by the terrorist groups, Nseir told me Syria has seen an increase in Cancer and new diseases. Nseir also suggested that this may be attributed to the weapons used by the US Coalition proxies and the U.S itself, which include depleted uranium.

Another important challenge, according to Nseir, is the environnmental one. Syria needs to rebuild its natural environment which has also been hugely affected by the conflict. 100,000 trees have been destroyed in Aleppo alone which could lead eventually to desertification of the province if not dealt with. The Governor of Aleppo has recently planted 2,000 new trees but this is an issue that must be addressed with urgency for Nseir.

Nseir strongly believes that Western people should come to Syria independently to see the truth for themselves and report the truth as they see it without any agenda. The Church and the media in the West have maintained a sectarian, divisve narrative which is confusing for people in the West and far from reality.

Nseir addressed the position and status of Syria in the Middle East and described how it has not changed, all that has changed is the perception of Syria portrayed by the media and world leaders who have aligned themselves with the West’s criminal project to partition Syria into sectarian statelets and to remove the elected Syrian government from power by force:

“What has changed since 2011 in reality? Nothing. Syria has always been the protector of the Middle East before 2011, during the conflict and now. The only thing that has changed is the positions of those who turned against Syria, betrayed Syria and who now wish to come back to Syria for protection. We see the Gulf States now change their stance and the UAE has re-opened its embassy in Damascus. The Arab League will welcome Syria back into its fold. Nothing has changed, Syria has remained the same while others have been opportunists and traitors.”

The fact that Syria will forgive its betrayers is testament to what has given Syria victory over its enemies throughout history. With regards to the West, Nseir is not so forgiving:

“The West must go beyond simply stopping its financing of terrorism and the supply of weapons. The West must confess to its crimes against the Syrian people in order to be forgiven. The West must lift the economic sanctions which are a siege upon the Syrian people and it must allow the Syrian people to rebuild in peace without meddling in their affairs. The Syrian people will rebuild according to what the Syrian people want not what the East or the West want. The West has sold the idea that this war was against President Assad but in reality it was against the will of a nation and the people of that nation must be respected”.

Nseir confirmed that the western NGOs are nothing more than political instruments and devices who further the cause of war but he insisted that the West must effectively pay reparations to Syria and expect nothing in return. This is the only way the West can be forgiven by Syria.

Nseir told me that his church will be establishing a medical and health center in the coming months which will be open to everyone in Aleppo to offer medical check-ups and treatment for free. Staff will be trained to deal with the children afflicted by the effects of the war and the terrorist occupation and the plan is to eventually set up special schools to continue the work of rehabilitation for these children. This will enable the coming generations to stand against radicalism and terrorism in the future.

“The West has a duty to respect our dignity and territorial integrity. The Syrian Arab Army has saved the image of our God of Peace, Love and Unity – this has been a spiritual war in Syria not only a military war. The God of love has been embodied by the SAA and our allies and has been victorious over the God of terrorism and hatred. The whole world will change after this war and after Syria’s victory. Syria will be a transformational catalyst for all of Humanity. Syria was never going to be defeated, you only have to study our history to know this. Our society has always embraced diversity and this is the essence of our country. Fanaticism was never going to survive breathing the pure oxygen of our humanity. Actually this demonstrates the stupidity of leaders in the West – to even imagine that extremism has a place in our culture”.  Nseir told me.

Nseir ended our talk by stating that the crisis in Syria must be an alarm bell for the country and for its leaders.

“We must re-prioritise our schedule, our agenda and make sure it is not only political but that we address all issues – religious, educational, health care. We must rethink our priorities to ensure a future of peace and stability. At the end I believe strongly that all the negative consequences of this terrible war will be transformed into positive consequences if we address them in the right way. Out of adversity are born the greatest opportunities for the future of Syria and Humanity.”


Horse rides on offer at the foot of the Citadel in the Old City of Aleppo. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

This article was originally published on 21st Century Wire.

Vanessa Beeley is an independent journalist, peace activist, photographer and associate editor at 21st Century Wire. Vanessa was a finalist for one of the most prestigious journalism awards – the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism – whose winners have included the likes of Robert Parry in 2017, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Nick Davies and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism team. Please support her work at her Patreon account. 

Lots More Anti-Israel Bias Needed in the New Year

By Stephen Lendman
Source

UK Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour’s 67-word declaration to British Zionist Federation’s Lord Rothschild launched a century of Palestinian and regional misery.

Israel’s partnership with the US threatens world peace. The Jewish state is run by Zionist ideologues, war-mongering fascist extremists, and religious fundamentalists – their agenda hostile to what just societies hold dear.

Like America and other Western nations, Israel is a fantasy democracy, not the real thing, the way it’s always been from inception.

Its regimes defile the rule of law, attack regional states, and govern by apartheid ruthlessness.

They terrorize Palestinians, hold them hostage to their imperial agenda, steal their land, breach their fundamental rights, and wage slow-motion genocide to achieve maximum Jews and minimum Arabs.

Their racist, violent, destructive agenda is fully supported and encouraged by Republicans and undemocratic Dems, the world community complicit in what’s going on by doing nothing to challenge it.

Zionism is hostile to Jews and non-Jews alike. Challenging it has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. Claiming otherwise is a long ago discredited canard. 

Its ideological extremism is tyranny by another name – undemocratic, hateful, ruthless, racist, destructive, and hostile to peace, equity and justice.

It’s contemptuous of fundamental legal, moral and ethical principles – a monster threatening everyone and everything it opposes, a cancer infesting Israel, America, other societies.

It defends the indefensible, espousing Jewish supremacy, strength through militarism and intimidation, dominance through violence over conciliation, confrontation, not diplomacy, war instead of peace, racist hatred toward Palestinians for not being Jews.

Terrorized by Zionist zealots, they  have no control over their daily lives, living in constant fear, not knowing from day to day if they’ll live, die, or be arrested and confined to gulag harshness – for being Arabs, not Jews, for being unwanted in their own country, stolen by Israeli conquest and brutal occupation.

They’re victimized by Fourth Geneva-banned collective punishment (Article 33), apartheid ruthlessness, isolation, economic strangulation, roadblocks, checkpoints, electric fences, separation walls, curfews, displacement, and settlement construction on land stolen for exclusive Jewish development and use.

They’re denied fundamental human rights affirmed under international humanitarian laws, enduring every imaginable indignity and degradation under illegal occupation.

Edward Said called Israel’s agenda an “atrocity,” a longstanding crime against humanity, the Mahmoud Abbas-led PA serving as its enforcer.

Said deplored its betrayal of their own people, comparing the actions of its officials to asking an “executioner if he wouldn’t mind sharpening his axe a little before having another go.”

He advocated what Israel and its US paymaster abhor and won’t tolerate – a one-party state for all its people, saying what’s vitally needed is “entirely missing from both Israeli and Palestinian realities today: the idea and practice of citizenship, not of ethnic or racial community, as the main vehicle of coexistence.”

“Palestinian self-determination in a separate state is unworkable.  The question” isn’t separation. It’s “to see whether it is possible for (Jews and Palestinians) to live together as fairly and peacefully as possible.”

“What exists now is a disheartening…bloody impasse. There is no way for Israel to get rid of Palestinians or for Palestinians to wish Israelis away.”

“I see no other way than to begin now to speak about sharing the land that has thrust us together, sharing it in a truly democratic way, with equal rights for each citizen.”

Neither side deserves “special status at the expense of the other,” Said stressed. For millennia, Palestine was (and remains) “multicultural, multiethnic, multireligious.” No “historical justification for homogeneity” or “notions of national or ethnic and religious purity” exist. 

“The alternatives are unpleasantly simple: either the war continues” with its unacceptable costs or an equitable solution is achieved. There’s no in between, not now or ever.

In 1948, supported by the West, Zionist ideologues stole 78% of historic Palestine, taking the rest in June 1967, including Jerusalem, a UN-designated international city, colonized and controlled illegally as Israel’s exclusive capital.

Its ruling authorities defied seven Security Council resolutions, constituting international law, condemning Israel’s seizure and control of the international city, calling its action legally invalid, including its 1980 Jerusalem Law – unlawfully declaring it “complete and united” as Israel’s exclusive capital.

In December 2016, Security Council 2334 was adopted by a 14 – 0 vote, Washington abstaining.

It said settlements have “no legal validity and constitute a flagrant violation under international law.”

It demanded “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”

It recognized no territorial changes “to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations.”

It “(c)alled upon all States, to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.”

It “(c)alled for immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation and destruction, calls for accountability in this regard…”

Israel ignores all SC resolutions and other international laws opposing its lawless agenda – supported by Washington, notably the Trump regime, more one-sided for Israel than its predecessors.

Looking ahead in the new year, things are likely to worsen in Occupied Palestine, the region, and elsewhere globally – because of the US/Israeli axis of evil, supported by their imperial partners.

As long as war criminals, crooks, and likeminded scoundrels run things in these countries, a criminal class waging war on humanity, wanting whole continents carved up for control and plunder, Palestinians and all other ordinary people will be brutally exploited and abused – things exceeding the worst of Orwell’s 1984.

Peace, equity and justice aren’t coming in the new year, not in Occupied Palestine or anywhere else – not as long as the US/NATO/Israeli killing machines continue their relentless aim for unchallenged dominance.

A year ago I suggested the new year will be more dismal than the previous one. US-led wars of aggression rage endlessly, new ones in the wings to be launched when ordered.

Russia, China and Iran are prime targets for regime change by whatever it takes for the US to achieve its imperial aims.

Ordinary people in the West are exploited, what continuing Yellow Vest protests in France are all about, Israeli state terror against Palestinians ongoing with no end of it in prospect.

Another Israeli war on Gaza is just a matter of time. US/UK-led Russophobia in the West risks WW III by accident or design.

Holiday season tidings are grim. Harsher times than already are likely coming. As long as dark forces exploit others for their own self-interest, the world will remain unsafe and unfit to live in.

Jack Kennedy once said “if more politicians knew poetry and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live…”

Maybe so, maybe not. He likely didn’t imagine how badly things could deteriorate since his time. 

Possible nuclear war haunts humanity because of Washington’s rage to dominate, risking armageddon to achieve its aims.

I yearn one day for looking ahead in the new year with hope for better times. Maybe some day, not now, not any time soon – the disturbing reality of what imperial rage is all about.

Israel Is Bad for America

By Philip Giraldi
Source

Bret-Stephens2-600x375_dfb79

American journalism has become in its mainstream exponents a compendium of half-truths and out-and-out lies. The public, though poorly informed on most issues as a result, has generally figured out that it is being hoodwinked and trust in the Fourth Estate has plummeted over the past twenty years. The skepticism about what is being reported has enabled President Donald Trump and other politicians to evade serious questions about policy by claiming that what is being reported is little more than “fake news.”

No news is more fake than the reporting in the U.S. media that relates to the state of Israel. Former Illinois congressman Paul Findley in his seminal book They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby observed that nearly all the foreign press correspondents working out of Israel are Jewish while most of the editors that they report to at news desks are also Jews, guaranteeing that the articles that eventually surface in the newspapers will be carefully constructed to minimize any criticism of the Jewish state. The same goes for television news, particularly on cable news stations like CNN.

A particularly galling aspect of the sanitization of news reports regarding Israel is the underlying assumption that Israelis share American values and interests, to include freedom and democracy. This leads to the perception that Israelis are just like Americans with Israel’s enemies being America’s enemies. Given that, it is natural to believe that the United States and Israel are permanent allies and friends and that it is in the U.S. interest to do whatever is necessary to support Israel, including providing billions of dollars in aid to a country that is already wealthy as well as unlimited political cover in international bodies like the United Nations.

That bogus but nevertheless seemingly eternal bond is essentially the point from which a December 26th op-ed in The New York Times departs. The piece is by one of the Times’ resident opinion writers Bret Stephens and is entitled Donald Trump is Bad for Israel.

Stephens gets to the point rather quickly, claiming that “The president has abruptly undermined Israel’s security following a phone call with an Islamist strongman in Turkey. So much for the idea, common on the right, that this is the most pro-Israel administration ever. I write this as someone who supported Trump moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and who praised his decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal as courageous and correct. I also would have opposed the president’s decision to remove U.S. forces from Syria under nearly any circumstances. Contrary to the invidious myth that neoconservatives always put Israel first, the reasons for staying in Syria have everything to do with core U.S. interests. Among them: Keeping ISIS beaten, keeping faith with the Kurds, maintaining leverage in Syria and preventing Russia and Iran from consolidating their grip on the Levant.”

The beauty of Stephens overwrought prose is that the careful reader might realize from the git-go that the argument being promoted makes no sense. Bret has a big heart for the Kurds but the Palestinians are invisible in his piece while his knowledge of other developments in the Middle East is superficial. First of all, the phone call with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had nothing to do with “undermining Israel’s security.” It concerned the northern border of Syria, which Turkey shares, and arrangements for working with the Kurds, which is a vital interest for both Ankara and Washington. And it might be added that from a U.S. national security point of view Turkey is an essential partner for the United States in the region while Israel is not, no matter what it pretends to be.

Stephens then goes on to demonstrate what he claims to be a libel, that for him and other neocons Israel always comes first, an odd assertion given the fact that he spends 80% of his article discussing what is or isn’t good for Israel. He supports the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem, the end of the nuclear agreement with Iran, both of which were applauded in Israel but which are extremely damaging to American interests. He attacks the planned withdrawal from Syria because it is a “core interest” for the U.S., which is complete nonsense.

Contrary to Stephens’ no evidence assertion, Russia and Iran have neither the resources nor the desire to “consolidate[e] their grip on the Levant” while it is the United States has no right and no real interest to “maintain leverage” on Syria by invading and occupying the country. But, of course, invading and occupying are practices that Israel is good at, so Stephens’ brain fart on the issue can perhaps be attributed to confusion over whose bad policies he was defending. Stephens also demonstrate confusion over his insistence that the U.S. must “resist foreign aggressors…the Russians and Iranians in Syria in this decade,” suggesting that he is unaware that both nations are providing assistance at the request of the legitimate government in Damascus. It is the U.S. and Israel that are the aggressors in Syria.

Stephens then looks at the situation from the “Israeli standpoint,” which is presumably is easy for him to do as that is how he looks at everything given the fact that he is far more concerned about Israel’s interests than those of the United States. Indeed, all of his opinions are based on the assumption that U.S. policy should be supportive of a rightwing Israeli government, that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has recently been indicted for corruption and has called for an early election to subvert the process.

Bret finally comes to the point, writing that “What Israel most needs from the U.S. today is what it needed at its birth in 1948: an America committed to defending the liberal-international order against totalitarian enemies, as opposed to one that conducts a purely transactional foreign policy based on the needs of the moment or the whims of a president.”

Stephens then expands on what it means to be liberal-international: “It means we should oppose militant religious fundamentalism, whether it is Wahhabis in Riyadh or Khomeinists in Tehran or Muslim Brothers in Cairo and Ankara. It means we should advocate human rights, civil liberties, and democratic institutions, in that order.”

Bret also throws America’s two most recent presidents under the bus in his jeremiad, saying “During the eight years of the Obama presidency, I thought U.S. policy toward Israel — the hectoringthe incompetent diplomatic interventionsthe moral equivocationsthe Iran dealthe backstabbing at the U.N. — couldn’t get worse. As with so much else, Donald Trump succeeds in making his predecessors look good.” He then asks “Is any of this good for Israel?” and he answers “no.”

Bret Stephens in his complaining reveals himself to be undeniably all about Israel, but consider what he is actually saying. He claims to be against “militant religious fundamentalism,” but isn’t that what Israeli Zionism is all about, with more than a dash of racism and fanaticism thrown in for good measure? One Israeli Chief Rabbi has called black people “monkeys” while another has declared that gentiles cannot live in Israel. Right-wing religious fundamentalist parties currently are in power with Netanyahu and are policy making for the Israeli Government: Shas, Jewish Home, and United Torah Judaism. None of them could be regarded as a moderating influence on their thuggish serial financial lawbreaker Prime Minister.

And isn’t Israel’s record on human rights and civil liberties among the worst in the world? Here is the Human Rights Watch’s assessment of Israel:

“Israel maintains entrenched discriminatory systems that treat Palestinians unequally. Its 50-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza involves systematic rights abuses, including collective punishment, routine use of excessive lethal force, and prolonged administrative detention without charge or trial for hundreds. It builds and supports illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, expropriating Palestinian land and imposing burdens on Palestinians but not on settlers, restricting their access to basic services and making it nearly impossible for them to build in much of the West Bank without risking demolition. Israel’s decade-long closure of Gaza, supported by Egypt, severely restricts the movement of people and goods, with devastating humanitarian impact.”

Israel, if one is considering the entire population under its rule, is among the most undemocratic states that chooses to call itself democratic. Much of the population living in lands that Israel claims cannot vote, they have no freedom of movement in their homeland, and they have no right of return to homes that they were forced to abandon. Israeli army snipers blithely shoot unarmed demonstrators while Netanyahu’s government kills, beats and imprisons children. And the Jewish state does not even operate very democratically even inside Israel itself, with special rights for Jewish citizens and areas and whole towns where Muslims or Christians are not allowed to buy property or reside.

It is time for American Jews like Bret Stephens to come to the realization that not everything that is good for Israel is good for the U.S. The strategic interests of the two countries, if they were openly discussed in either the media or in congress, would be seen to be often in direct conflict. Somehow in Stephens’ twisted mind the 1948 theft of Palestinian lands and the imposition of an apartheid system to control the people is in some way representative of a liberal world order.

If one were to suggest that Stephens should move to Israel since his primary loyalty clearly lies there, there would be accusations of anti-Semitism, but in a sense, it is far better to have him stick around blathering from the pulpit of The New York Times. When he writes so ineptly about how Donald Trump Is Bad for Israel the real message that comes through loud and clear is how bad Israel is for America.

 

Russia Angered Over Israel’s Latest Attack on Syria

By Stephen Lendman
Source

Complicit with US aggression, Israel is waging war on Syria without declaring it. Russia belatedly addressed the threat it should have acted strongly against much earlier – against US-led terror-bombing as well, responsible for massacring tens of thousands of Syrian civilians and destroying vital infrastructure.

Overnight Tuesday, IDF warplanes, operating from Lebanese airspace, reportedly attacked a Damascus area arms depot.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov said six F-16 warplanes participated in the overnight aggression – “endangering two passenger jets…”

According to Russia’s Foreign Ministry, “(t)he airstrikes were again conducted by the Israeli (warplanes) under cover of civilian planes descending to land at the airports of Damascus and Beirut.”

The same IDF tactic in September caused the downing of a Russian IL-20 reconnaissance aircraft in Syrian airspace, its 15 crew members killed.

Moscow remains furious over what happened, calling it “criminal negligence,” holding Israel fully responsible. 

Overnight Tuesday, Syria’s military restricted its electronic jamming and other defense capabilities to avoid a similar tragedy against one or two civilian passenger planes.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry also accused Israel of flagrantly violating Security Council Resolution 1701 (August 2006), formally ending Israeli aggression in Lebanon, both sides agreeing to halt hostilities.

Syria’s Foreign Ministry strongly condemned Israeli’s latest airstrikes on its territory in letters to UN Secretary-General Guterres and president of the Security Council, calling it (like all other IDF attacks) a flagrant violation of Security Council Res. 350 (May 1974), establishing a ceasefire following the October 1973 Yom Kippur war.

The Netanyahu regime is emboldened by US support, Syria’s Foreign Ministry stressed, knowing it can get away with virtually anything unaccountably.

Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry issued a similar condemnation, calling for the Security Council to hold Israel accountable for aggression, including the IDF’s latest violation of its airspace, while affirming Syria’s right of self-defense.

According to Israeli military intelligence-connected DEBKAfile, Russia warned the Netanyahu regime that further IDF attacks on Syria will be responded to by missile strikes on its territory – “a tit-for-tat strategy.”

Given the Kremlin’s failure to confront US and Israeli aggression in Syria so far, it’s unclear how or if its military will act against further attacks by both countries, virtually certain to come.

A Final Comment

Russian upper house Federation Council Senator Konstantin Kosachev blasted Trump, saying “(h)aving stated…he intend(s) to (continue military occupation of Iraq) as an advanced springboard for actions in Syria, (he’s) trying to have it both ways.” 

“On the one hand, he still wants to demonstrate the intention to abandon the role of global policeman with the subsequent mission where American blood is spilt for the sake of a country, about which most of them can’t find on a map.” 

On the other hand, (he) certainly needs to quell discontent among the Republicans related to his (announced) withdraw(al) (of) US troops from Syria.”

Kosachev failed to explain that Trump has a disturbing habit of saying one thing and doing another time and again.

Whether US forces leave Syria entirely or partially, the Pentagon is unlikely to abandon its reported 18 bases in the country, at least one more being built, along with two new ones in Iraq near Syria’s border.

The US is in the Middle East and everywhere else where its forces are deployed to stay, its endless wars to continue.

All sovereign independent states are on its target list worldwide, perhaps Iran next to be struck before end of Trump’s tenure.

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