The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinian Christians that Nobody is Talking About

by RAMZY BAROUD

Photograph Source: View of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem. Berthold Werner – CC BY-SA 3.0

Palestine’s Christian population is dwindling at an alarming rate. The world’s most ancient Christian community is moving elsewhere. And the reason for this is Israel.

Christian leaders from Palestine and South Africa sounded the alarm at a conference in Johannesburg on October 15. Their gathering was titled: “The Holy Land: A Palestinian Christian Perspective”.

One major issue that highlighted itself at the meetings is the rapidly declining number of Palestinian Christians in Palestine.

There are varied estimates on how many Palestinian Christians are still living in Palestine today, compared with the period before 1948 when the state of Israel was established atop Palestinian towns and villages. Regardless of the source of the various studies, there is near consensus that the number of Christian inhabitants of Palestine has dropped by nearly ten-fold in the last 70 years.

A population census carried out by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in 2017 concluded that there are 47,000 Palestinian Christians living in Palestine – with reference to the Occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. 98 percent of Palestine’s Christians live in the West Bank – concentrated mostly in the cities of Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jerusalem – while the remainder, a tiny Christian community of merely 1,100 people, lives in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The demographic crisis that had afflicted the Christian community decades ago is now brewing.

For example, 70 years ago, Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, was 86 percent Christian. The demographics of the city, however, have fundamentally shifted, especially after the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in June 1967, and the construction of the illegal Israeli apartheid wall, starting in 2002. Parts of the wall were meant to cut off Bethlehem from Jerusalem and to isolate the former from the rest of the West Bank.

“The Wall encircles Bethlehem by continuing south of East Jerusalem in both the east and west,” the ‘Open Bethlehem’ organization said, describing the devastating impact of the wall on the Palestinian city. “With the land isolated by the Wall, annexed for settlements, and closed under various pretexts, only 13% of the Bethlehem district is available for Palestinian use.”

Increasingly beleaguered, Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem have been driven out from their historic city in large numbers. According to the city’s mayor, Vera Baboun, as of 2016, the Christian population of Bethlehem has dropped to 12 percent, merely 11,000 people.

The most optimistic estimates place the overall number of Palestinian Christians in the whole of Occupied Palestine at less than two percent.

The correlation between the shrinking Christian population in Palestine, and the Israeli occupation and apartheid should be unmistakable, as it is obvious to Palestine’s Christian and Muslim population alike.

A study conducted by Dar al-Kalima University in the West Bank town of Beit Jala and published in December 2017, interviewed nearly 1,000 Palestinians, half of them Christian and the other half Muslim. One of the main goals of the research was to understand the reason behind the depleting Christian population in Palestine.

The study concluded that “the pressure of Israeli occupation, ongoing constraints, discriminatory policies, arbitrary arrests, confiscation of lands added to the general sense of hopelessness among Palestinian Christians,” who are finding themselves in “a despairing situation where they can no longer perceive a future for their offspring or for themselves”.

Unfounded claims that Palestinian Christians are leaving because of religious tensions between them and their Muslim brethren are, therefore, irrelevant.

Gaza is another case in point. Only 2 percent of Palestine’s Christians live in the impoverished and besieged Gaza Strip. When Israel occupied Gaza along with the rest of historic Palestine in 1967, an estimated 2,300 Christians lived in the Strip. However, merely 1,100 Christians still live in Gaza today. Years of occupation, horrific wars and an unforgiving siege can do that to a community, whose historic roots date back to two millennia.

Like Gaza’s Muslims, these Christians are cut off from the rest of the world, including the holy sites in the West Bank. Every year, Gaza’s Christians apply for permits from the Israeli military to join Easter services in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Last April, only 200 Christians were granted permits, but on the condition that they must be 55 years of age or older and that they are not allowed to visit Jerusalem.

The Israeli rights group, Gisha, described the Israeli army decision as “a further violation of Palestinians’ fundamental rights to freedom of movement, religious freedom and family life”, and, rightly, accused Israel of attempting to “deepen the separation” between Gaza and the West Bank.

In fact, Israel aims at doing more than that. Separating Palestinian Christians from one another, and from their holy sites (as is the case for Muslims, as well), the Israeli government hopes to weaken the socio-cultural and spiritual connections that give Palestinians their collective identity.

Israel’s strategy is predicated on the idea that a combination of factors – immense economic hardships, permanent siege and apartheid, the severing of communal and spiritual bonds – will eventually drive all Christians out of their Palestinian homeland.

Israel is keen to present the ‘conflict’ in Palestine as a religious one so that it could, in turn, brand itself as a beleaguered Jewish state in the midst of a massive Muslim population in the Middle East. The continued existence of Palestinian Christians does not factor nicely into this Israeli agenda.

Sadly, however, Israel has succeeded in misrepresenting the struggle in Palestine – from that of political and human rights struggle against settler colonialism – into a religious one. Equally disturbing, Israel’s most ardent supporters in the United States and elsewhere are religious Christians.

It must be understood that Palestinian Christians are neither aliens nor bystanders in Palestine. They have been victimized equally as their Muslim brethren, and have also played a major role in defining the modern Palestinian identity, through their resistance, spirituality, deep connection to the land, artistic contributions and burgeoning scholarship.

Israel must not be allowed to ostracize the world’s most ancient Christian community from their ancestral land so that it may score a few points in its deeply disturbing drive for racial supremacy.

Equally important, our understanding of the legendary Palestinian ‘soumoud’ – steadfastness – and of solidarity cannot be complete without fully appreciating the centrality of Palestinian Christians to the modern Palestinian narrative and identity.Join the debate on Facebook More articles by:RAMZY BAROUD

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story (Pluto Press, London, 2018). He earned a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, UCSB.

Special Christmas in Palestine: Cradle of Jesus Characterizes Holidays for Palestinians This Year

Special Christmas in Palestine: Cradle of Jesus Characterizes Holidays for Palestinians This Year

By Staff

Occupied Palestine – Christian communities in occupied Palestine are preparing to celebrate Christmas. This year’s celebrations are made all the more special by a tiny fragment of wood that has been returned to the Holy Land after many centuries. The wooden relic is believed to be part of the manger of the baby Jesus and recently arrived in Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity.

مدينة بيت لحم تحتفل بعيد ميلاد السيد المسيح

Christians view the manger as a symbol of peace. Its holiness derives from its connection with the Holy Land, specifically the grotto housed in the church of Bethlehem.

The Custody of the Holy Land recently received the piece of the manger, which had been removed from the Middle East and taken to Rome’s Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore [St Mary Major] in the 7th century. Pope Francis returned the wooden fragment earlier this month.

The wooden relic is no more than 2.5 centimeters long and one centimeter wide. It was preserved at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome before being delivered to the pastor of the Bethlehem church in the West Bank.

Its return was requested by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

“The return of part of the manger to the Palestinian people is a great blessing because of its importance among Palestinian Christians, especially since it is coming from the largest of the Virgin Mary’s churches in Italy,” said Father Ibrahim Falats, Counselor of the Custody of the Holy Land in Palestine.

Father Falats pointed out that this was the first time in 1300 years that a piece of the manger was returned.

He recalled how the cradle was sent to the Vatican as a gift from the Patriarch of Jerusalem [al-Quds] St. Sophronius to Pope Theodore I, who was of Palestinian origin.

For his part, the head of the Bethlehem municipality, Anton Salman, said the sacred relic characterizes this year’s Christmas celebrations and differentiates it from all others.

Salman added that the piece of the manger will be handed over to the Custody of the Holy Land Franciscan fathers. It will be placed in the Franciscan Church of St. Catherine next to the Church of the Nativity.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Christians in Palestine constitute 1% of the population. They start their celebrations on December 25th of each year.

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Imam Khamenei Pays Tribute to Jesus Christ on Christmas Eve

 December 25, 2019

Leader of Islamic Revolution in Iran Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei called on Tuesday for adherence to the teachings of Jesus Christ, which requires righteousness and abhorrence of anti-righteous powers.

In a message on Christmas Eve, Imam Khamenei said: “Following Jesus Christ requires adherence to righteousness and abhorrence of anti-righteous powers, and it is hoped that Christians and Muslims in every part of the world will adhere to this great lesson from Jesus (pbuh) in their lives and deeds.”

“The honor Muslims attribute to Jesus Christ (pbuh) is no less than his position and merit in the eyes of the Christian believers in Christianity,” the Leader said as quoted by his office in a tweet.

“Today, many who claim to follow Jesus Christ take a different path than that of him. The guidance of Jesus, the son of Mary (peace be upon our Prophet and her) is guidance towards worshiping God and confronting the Pharaohs and tyrants,” another tweet said.

Source: Iranian media

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New Lebanon Poll: Most Shia Still Back Hezbollah

New Lebanon Poll: Most Shia Still Back Hezbollah

By Staff – Washington Institute

A reliable new Lebanese public opinion poll, conducted in November, showed that a large majority of the country’s Shia population retain positive views of Hezbollah even as major anti-government protests include many Shia participants for the first time.

According to the Washington Institute, David Pollock said this surprising finding casts doubt on speculation that Hezbollah might suddenly be in danger of losing its core constituency.

New Lebanon Poll: Most Shia Still Back Hezbollah

New Lebanon Poll: Most Shia Still Back Hezbollah

New Lebanon Poll: Most Shia Still Back Hezbollah

New Lebanon Poll: Most Shia Still Back Hezbollah

New Lebanon Poll: Most Shia Still Back Hezbollah

New Lebanon Poll: Most Shia Still Back Hezbollah

 

The Story of Daher Al-Umar Undermines Israel’s Own Origin Story

Daher Al-Umar Feature photo

Akka, Haifa, Tabaria, are all cities with a rich Arab history which Daher made into thriving towns, and yet little memory of him existents thanks to enormous efforts put forward by the state of Israel to control the historical narrative.

December 02nd, 2019

The history of Palestine, even its very recent history, has been all but forgotten. It was pushed out by a new version of history, a narrative that is based on faith and has very little to do with history. One striking example is that of the 18th-century Palestinian leader and unifier, Daher Al-Umar. For most people, neither the man or the period in which he ruled Palestine is known.

Here is what Palestinian author Ibrahim Nasrallah writes about Daher Al-Umar:

This matchless character has long been worthy of the attention of novelists and film and television producers, who could have made him a luminous part of our popular consciousness and the ongoing struggle of the people who populated and gave life to the land of Palestine.”

 

Time to Remember

In his forward to The Lanterns of the King of Galilee, a historical novel based on the life of Daher Al-Umar published in 2011 in Arabic, and in English in 2014, Nasrallah writes, “What saddens me now is that I didn’t come to know this great man earlier in my life.” The man to which he is referring is Daher Al-Umar Al-Zaidani, also known as The King of Galilee, whose remarkable life spanned from 1689 to 1775.

Daher Al-Umar governed most of historic Palestine and shaped its economy and politics as well as the life of its inhabitants for the better part of the 18th century. He established ties – economic and political – with European empires and created a boost in the economy and lives of the people of Palestine that was unprecedented. Palestine, under Daher, was the closest thing to an independent state one could achieve in 18th century Levant.

I had only heard of Daher Al-Umar from reading Nasrallah’s book, which shows that Nasrallah is correct as he continues to say in his forward, “Unfortunately many people are ignorant of what Daher achieved toward establishing an autonomous Arab homeland in Palestine.” However, what is astonishing is that Nasrallah himself admits that he only came across the figure of Daher in 1985 while working on his epic novel, Time of White Horses, published in Arabic in 2007 and in English in 2012.

 

A Challenging Narrative

In his forward, Nasrallah doesn’t shy away from stating the obvious, that his homeland, the country which Daher unified and ruled, namely Palestine, “fell prey to the Zionist onslaught that wrested it from its owners by means of myths, tanks and collusion.”

One might add that these myths used by the ZIonists were not just any myths, but perhaps the most powerful myths the world has ever known. In fact, even referring to these stories as “myth” will surely give rise to serious opposition as we are talking about none other than the Bible itself.

The Zionists based their claims to rights over Palestine using the toughest narrative to challenge. It is not one that is tough to challenge because it is rooted in historical facts, but because it is rooted in faith. In establishing their stake to Palestine, the Zionists built a foundation on three myths that operate as three pillars: The myth of the Jewish people, the myth of the homeland and the myth of history, and all three stem from the biblical narrative.

Jewish refugee Palestine

700 Jewish refugees aboard the S.S. Parita arrive in Palestine on Aug. 22, 1939. Photo | AP

The myth of Jewish people claims that Jews are a nation like all nations, unified by a common language, history and country. This myth is in direct opposition to the way observant, orthodox Jewish people define themselves, which is as a people unified by a common faith and observance to the Almighty. This definition allows for Jewish people to be Arabs and speak Arabic, to be Polish and speak Polish or Yiddish or to be citizens of any other country in the world and still remain Jewish, as they had done for two millennia.

The myth of the homeland claims that Palestine is the homeland of the Jewish people and that it has been empty for thousands of years. This myth stands in contrast to the fact that Jews have a home and land wherever they reside, and Palestine is and always was inhabited and thriving.

The myth of that history involves the secularization of the Old Testament. It treats the Old Testament as a historical document that describes the history of the Jewish people. According to this myth, the Bible has historical value, even though centuries of research prove otherwise. Furthermore, this myth ignores the fact that the bible is not a history book but rather a book of faith with little significant historical foundation.

It is in the face of these challenging myths that opponents of Zionism and supporters of the rights of Palestinians have to struggle. It is in this context that knowing about Daher Al-Umar is so crucial, and one must ask, why and how a figure of such stature, influence and importance was erased from memory.

 

Daher’s Palestine is Nasrallah’s Palestine

Nasrallah writes that his acquaintance with Daher had given him the ability to “trace the roots that go so deep into the land of Palestine.” He continues to describe this Palestine specifically as, “Arab Palestine, the Palestine of beauty, tolerance and the willingness to embrace the other.” People who know Palestine, particularly pre-ZIonist Palestine, will agree with Nasrallah when he goes even further, calling it, “the Palestine of cultural, spiritual and human richness; the Palestine that aspires to all that is free, lovely and good.”

Daher was known for his tolerance and the good relations he forged with Christian communities, Jewish communities and the Shia community of southern Lebanon. At his invitation, Jews from Izmir had come to come to Tabaria, or Tiberias and settled there during his reign. Sadly, as a result of the 1948 Zionist destruction and forced exile, little remains of the Arab Tabaria of Daher.

Tiberias Palestine 1936

Tiberias pictured circa 1936, prior to the 1948 Nakba. Source | Kahvedjian Collection

The mosque Daher built in the city still stands. It is a monument that under any other circumstances would have been venerated, cared for and used by the faithful. According to Zochrot and to what any visitor can witness, the mosque still stands, but it was desecrated and until recently used by the city as a storage space. Now it remains closed and neglected.

Akka, Haifa, Tabaria, are all cities with a rich Arab history which Daher made into thriving towns, and yet no memory of him exists. The onslaught of Zionist erasure of the history, names and monuments on the one hand and enormous efforts put forward by the new state of Israel to push forward a historical narrative that supports Israel’s existence has been devastating and incredibly difficult to challenge.

 

Erasing Memories

All of the cities that existed in Palestine prior to 1948 and were subjected to ethnic cleansing had their streets renamed. Most, if not all, have streets named after Ben-Gurion, Weizman, Hertzel, Balfour, and other major Zionist figures. Streets have been renamed after Israeli generals like Rabin, Dayan, Bar-Lev, etc., and still others are named after military units, replacing the historical names that used to exist. This process continues to this day and can be seen clearly, particularly in Jerusalem where the “Zionization” process is in full force.

Ibrahim Nasrallah ends his forward expressing the hope that, “those who read this novel will relive all the feelings I experienced in the course of writing it, and when that happens I’m sure they’ll sense how much better they’ve become.” Having read the book, I must agree.

Feature photo | A painting of Daher Al-Umar by Ziad Daher Zaydany circa 2010

Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

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The War against Syria: In the Name of the Father the Son, the Holy Spirit … and the Truth.

Global Research, December 02, 2019

If the truth about the war on Syria was known and accepted by broad-based Western populations, then there would be no war on Syria.

If the truth were known and accepted there would be no terrorism in Syria.

  • If the truth were known and accepted Syria would still rank as one of the top five (1) safest countries in the world.
  • If the truth were known Christians and Muslims and everyone would be safe. Christians and Muslims in Syria would never have been slaughtered had the truth been known and accepted.
  • If the truth were known and accepted there would be no economic blockades that cause death and disaster and terrorism with intent.

But the truth is not known and accepted by broad-based Western populations because we have been smothered by blankets of suffocating, criminal war propaganda for years. Our tax dollars pay for the indoctrination. Just like our tax dollars pay for NATO and its globalizing tentacles of death and destruction that are literally imperilling the world.

So,why is the Truth not known and accepted by broad-based Western populations?

Renowned author Michel Collon demonstrates the characteristics of war propaganda that deny us the right to know.

First, the real interests that push for war must be hidden. Privileged access to and control of resources, including oil pipelines, must not be mentioned.

Second, history must be erased. People musn’t be aware of the longstanding imperial efforts to divide, weaken, and colonize Syria. They must not know that the war on Syria was planned well in advance by imperial powers.

Third, the leader of the country must be demonized. People must never know that elected President Assad has always been popular, even according to a NATO poll,(2) and that the invading terrorists were never accepted nor welcomed by the vast majority of Syrians.

People must not know that it is the aggressors, the US and allies, who have and use Weapons of Mass Destruction, not only in Syria, but in Iraq, and every other country that they invade. Depleted Uranium impacts present and future generations. Babies in Vietnam are still being born with deformities thanks to that war and the US deployment of Agent Orange.

Perceptions must be fabricated in such a way that the Western aggressors are seen as defending “victims”.

The entire Western-perpetrated war has created a country full of victims. The real intention of war is to kill and harm and maim and destroy. Destabilize means to destroy. The notion that it is humanitarian is beyond ridicule, but this is the perception that must be embedded in Western populations.

Finally, alternate viewpoints must be suppressed.

Warmongers must monopolize the discussion.

People must not know that the White Helmets (3) are terrorists, that they fabricate fake chemical weapons incidents, that they create false flags, that they engage in involuntary organ harvesting. People must not know the truth.

The Truth, widely accepted, would deliver Peace. The Truth must be erased.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Mark Taliano is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and the author of Voices from Syria, Global Research Publishers, 2017. Visit the author’s website at https://www.marktaliano.net where this article was originally published.

Notes

(1) RealClear World and Gallup, “Top 5 Most Personally Safe Countries.” 27 October, 2010.
(https://www.realclearworld.com/lists/top_5_personal_safety_countries/syria.html ) Accessed 29 November, 2019.

(2) “NATO reveals 70% of Syrians support Bashar al-Assad.” VOLTAIRE NETWORK, 6 JUNE 2013.
(https://www.voltairenet.org/article178779.html?__cf_chl_jschl_tk__=9aadf28a533396ad5ebd8ea7ca0a80c110a39911-1575044240-0-AcCxkjY1iKAL5NA2qz5mxkDPrbY9fDr9uiK-odHiFQ01P-8l4JYuoleZQj9dlRvM3HRs3TNXjKyWcZmlN4NGjFA2n16YX2SdkQbTontqN7KTVaPMLcFqOMTiU62qjylvbxHrnWXqq5UhElws7LUS6w0oCbTHG2tg58lqh7RURlz3Cib5oIITDojuE1dNzl5f1wPpLolOH7-iujj3YA_aZxxL9Z4jg3SJgDmvrv2z42Ho8nwWg1e6ltQa1fR7zaSyUVgIblwQGpUZRZUlsT0gNgRRVXDt2ydXMyFQ59ENiYZ_ ) Accessed 29 November, 2019.

(3) Mark Taliano, “Video: Who are The White Helmets? Fake News and Staged Rescues. Canada’s beloved ‘humanitarian heroes’, the White Helmets.” Global Research, 26 December, 2018.
( https://www.globalresearch.ca/video-who-are-the-white-helmets-fake-news-and-staged-rescues/5663906) Accessed 29 November, 2019.

Featured image is from the author


Order Mark Taliano’s Book “Voices from Syria” directly from Global Research.

Mark Taliano combines years of research with on-the-ground observations to present an informed and well-documented analysis that refutes  the mainstream media narratives on Syria. 

Voices from Syria 

ISBN: 978-0-9879389-1-6

Author: Mark Taliano

Year: 2017

Pages: 128 (Expanded edition: 1 new chapter)

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Hiding the West’s ongoing neo-colonialism in Lebanon via blaming Iran (1/2)

 

Image result for ‫رفيق الحريري وشيراك‬‎

by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

I have spoken with many in France’s huge expatriate Lebanese community – and from all groups – and not a single person has ever claimed that Iran was the power behind the scenes in Lebanon. Without fail I was told that this title belongs to France.

It shouldn’t be surprising: France completely devised modern Lebanon.

Many Lebanese don’t like to be reminded of this, but Lebanon is an artificial nation which France constructed entirely on the basis of racism: just as Zionists to the south wanted a “Jewish nation”, Lebanon was hacked off of Syria in 1920 to create a new Christian-majority nation.

That’s a “no longer relevant” tale of divide and conquer to some, even though a few centenarians may still remember the actual event.

France also devised Lebanon’s sectarianism-enshrining, woefully unmodern constitution, which has ensured divisive identity politics ever since.

Thus, just as Israel is a little part of the USA in the Middle East, Lebanon is the older, French version. The saying, “Beirut is the Paris of the Middle East” could not be more correct.

And yet, were an alien to visit and read Western mainstream media coverage of the recent protests in Lebanon it would not imagine that France ever had any role in Lebanon, much less a prominent role there today.

Image result for hariri corruption

Instead, Western headlines and reports all push the totally absurd claim that Iran has somehow become the neo-colonial master in Lebanon. Somehow – and via the poorest, most marginalised sectors of Lebanese society, no less – Iran has been able to usurp a century of French power.

Furthermore, despite the century of French involvement it is not France but Iran which is responsible for the corruption that has pushed so many Lebanese into the streets.

Apparently Iran took power and also became corrupt so very quickly that the Lebanese themselves didn’t even realise it! The idea is laughable.

Or perhaps: the Lebanese themselves don’t know what is actually going on in their own country – the West knows better.

These are the kind of ideas only a Westerner could believe.

The reason is simple: advertising works. Astute observers already realise that when it comes to the Middle East every problem – big or small – is blamed on Iran in the West.

However, what’s rarely examined is how this very real Iranophobia allows the West to obscure places where their neo-colonial machinations could not be more obvious, such as in Lebanon.

If it’s not Iran then it must be Hezbollah, but it can never be France

If the West cannot destroy Iran in 2019 they will happily settle for destroying Hezbollah.

There are two types of political parties: those which citizens fight to destroy (like the Yellow Vests and the three mainstream political parties in France), and those which citizens fight to preserve. There is no doubt which camp Hezbollah belongs to.

Hezbollah is the “Party of God” and the party of Lebanon’s poor, but many insist they are not a political party but a larger “resistance movement”. Amal is a political party allied with Hezbollah, and Western media coverage is doing their best to lump both in with the older, Western-aping, billionaire-backed parties which are the true cause of the recent corruption protests.

Hezbollah has always said they would never turn their guns on Lebanese, and even if the West doesn’t want anyone to know that the Lebanese certainly do. They know that without Hezbollah southern Lebanon would be called “Northern Israel” today. Or, nearly as badly, it would still be the State of Free Lebanon, that stillborn Israeli client from the early 1980s which no country besides Israel recognised. (That’s just more “no longer relevant” history to Western mainstream journalists of course.)

The West hates Hezbollah for the same reason Lebanon supports it – Hezbollah is what ensures Lebanon’s security from repeated, deadly, infrastructure-ruining Israeli invasions. After the 2006 war with Israel most Sunnis and an estimated 50% of Christians supported Hezbollah – that’s hardly sectarian hatred.

After saving the Lebanese from Israel on multiple occasions, the undeniable and enduring popular support of Hezbollah and Amal comes from their education, health and other social welfare organisations. Southern Lebanon is most notable not for being mostly Shia but for its extreme poverty, which was the result of decades of neglect from Paris-allied Beirut. Hezbollah and Amal helped reverse that, to the extreme embarrassment and consternation of France, Israel and their many sectarian militias, mafias and political puppets in Lebanon.

And yet despite being so late arriving to power, despite being anchored in the poorest regions, despite decades of neglect from Beirut, and despite illegal and inhuman US-led sanctions on Hezbollah… the West wants us to believe that Hezbollah and Amal are the ones responsible for the corruption at the heart of the current protests!

One has to wonder: if these two groups are so corrupt then where is the money, because it is certainly not in southern Lebanon?

The idea that Hassan Nasrallah, who can make a fair claim to be the most popular Muslim leader and hero in the world currently, is about to fall due to decades of corruption in Beirut is an absolute fantasy which can only be taken seriously in the West.

Again, what we have here is another situation where Western propaganda is aiming to manipulate legitimate unhappiness created by long-tenured Western client politicians in order to deny the West’s neo-colonial culpability. The legitimate demands in Yemen, Palestine and Iraq are all being portrayed as being caused by an Iranian neo-colonialism which does not exist, when the real culprit is the very real and very accurately-named Western neo-colonialism.

The West, of course, may speak of neoliberalism but never neo-colonialism.

The long-running source of corruption in Lebanon: Western-allied, neoliberal & neocolonial puppets

I would imagine that up to this point a Lebanese reader has been quite bored – I have only relayed things which he or she already knows quite well. But perhaps a Lebanese expatriate in Brazil or the United States – who cannot visit Lebanon so easily and who foolishly relies on the Western mainstream media – may not know some of these things.

What most Lebanese know quite intimately is that they no longer have a “real” economy. Their export capabilities are so woeful that scrap iron was their third top export in 2017, at just $179 million.

This is unsurprising, because Lebanon’s longtime function was to serve as France’s Middle East banking haven, with Switzerland-level secrecy laws dating to 1956. However, they have increasingly been replaced by Qatar and other Persian Gulf nations.

Banking is still a strong sector of their economy, but now mainly due to the huge number of remittances (only 4 million Lebanese live in Lebanon but there are an astonishing 8-12 million living as expatriates).

All this wouldn’t be a problem if Lebanon had a strong government to centrally plan and direct their limited economy, and also a government which cared for their 99% instead of their 1%, but Lebanon has neither of these things. The reason for this has nothing to do with Hezbollah, but everything to do with the real root of the current protests.

After the Taif Accords in 1989 and the fall of the USSR in 1991, Rafic Hariri, who became Lebanon’s richest man/prime minister thanks to earning billions via construction with the House of Saud, embarked on the massive “Horizon 2000” privatisation plan, which sold off the major industries and real estate of the Lebanese people. Hariri, in classic Western fashion, privatised the people’s wealth mainly to himself, but also to French companies.

Hariri’s “There Is No Alternative” (to neoliberalism) plan also included massive efforts to attract foreign investment, which ballooned the national debt – the funds were not spent on the poor, of course, but lined the pockets of the rich. France is always the one who organises the regular international debt conferences to restructure Lebanon’s debt, reaping compound interest payments all the while. Rafic Hariri was yet another Arab aristocrat who yoked his people to Western debtors for generations.

Hariri also banned protests and encouraged bribes and kickbacks to the army in order to continue his neoliberalisation drive totally unfettered.

For these reasons (i.e., he made them rich via ruthless self-interest) the assassinated Hariri is worshiped in the West as a true martyr to the neoliberal faith, whereas his corruption in Lebanon was infamous and resented. The most common phrase about him is, “He treated the state as if it was his home.”

His son Saad could have hardly done worse, but he certainly has tried: $16 million to a bikini model mistress, getting abducted by the Saudis and then resigning on their TV, etc. Saad Hariri has held so very many closed-door meetings with France’s president over the past decade that I truly just got tired of covering it for PressTV – I think he must have a private room at Élysée Palace?

What I have described is three decades of oligarchic economic corruption, mismanagement and economic far-right neglect, and here is the bill: At 158% Lebanon’s debt to GDP ratio is the 5th highest in the world, just behind Greece.

Few commentators go further, however: Lebanon’s external debt to GDP ratio is only around 45%, implying that there is a lot of money in Lebanon but held – in an inherently corrupt manner – by extremely few hands. And this is certainly the case: Lebanon’s richest 0.1% own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50 percent, making Lebanon one of the most unequal countries in the world.

Lebanon is thus an economically rudderless, economically unequal and economically corrupt nation, and it is quite obvious that none of this happened because of late-arriving, poor-loving Hezbollah or Iran.

It is absolutely preposterous to believe that Iran or Hezbollah is the source of Lebanon’s inequality and corruption, and thus that they could be the true target of protesters. The Western Mainstream Media – mostly privately owned, incredibly chauvinistic – is trying to sell an anti-Iran/anti-Hezbollah conspiracy even though the Lebanese themselves will not be fooled by it for one second.

The West, especially France, created, applauded and profited Lebanon’s economic corruption via their unstinting support for the corrupt and despised Hariris, and also Israel’s expatriate-inducing, infrastructure destroying invasions. France’s role in saddling Lebanon’s economy with two million of Syrian and Palestinian refugees is also glossed over by the Western mainstream media, of course.

I hope the true profiteers of Lebanon’s misery will finally be called to account. The Lebanese know who has robbed them, and it is not Hezbollah, Nasrallah or Iran.

Part 2 in this series will give more details on the corrupt Lebanese politicians of today, most of who are associated with violent militias armed and funded by France and/or Israel.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China and the upcoming Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism. He can be reached on Facebook.

 

جاكلين والوفاء العظيم .. وخيانة قناة السويس ..بقلم عبد الله رجب

Source

منذ فترة تناقل الوطنيون السوريون خبر رحيل جاكلين خطيبة الاستشهادي الأول الضابط السوري جول جمال الذي فجر نفسه في البارجة الفرنسية التي هاجمت بورسعيد المصرية ابان العدوان الثلاثي على مصر عام 56 ..

جول جمال ضابط سوري “مسيحي” قدم نفسه قربانا سوريا من أجل مصر .. وبقي السوريون مخلصين له ولبطولته الفريدة .. وأخلصت له خطيبته بتقديمها درسا في الوفاء العظيم عندما بقيت تلبس خاتم الخطبة دون ان تنزعه حتى آخر لحظة تنفست فيها في هذه الحياة .. وكأنها تقول له ان وفاءه العظيم لأرضه ومبادئه وشعبه يستحق ان يلاقى بالوفاء العظيم ..

وفي هذه الحرب الوطنية العظمى التي عصفت بسورية منذ ثماني سنوات كان السوريون يكتشفون ان وفاء جول جمال العظيم لارضه كان حالة تعكس ثقافة مجتمع فدائي بلا حدود .. ولكن الاخبار التي يتناقلها الناس وبعض القنوات الرسمية عن انضمام قناة السويس الى الحصار الخانق على الشعب السوري ومنع مرور شحنات النفط الإيراني الى سورية فتق الجراح ونكأها ونزفت دما حتى انها لو وصلت الى قناة السويس لجعلتها حمراء .. فطوابير السيارات بلا نهاية أمام محطات الوقود .. وكل الفقراء الذين يعتمودون على وسائل النقل العام لايصلون الى أعمالهم ولا يقدرون على العمل ويفقدون موارد رزقهم اليومي وخبز أطفالهم ..

ربما لايدري كثير من المصريين أن قناة السويس افتداها ضابط البحرية السوري جول جمال بدمه عندما اندفع الشعب السوري للدفاع عن كرامة مصر وحقها المطلق في تأميم قناة السويس .. ولم يكن جول جمال وجيله من السوريين قادرا على أن يتحمل ان تفقد مصر كبرياءها ومورد رزقها وعنوان استقلالها المتمثل في قناة السويس وان يحاصر الأعداء مصر وشعبها من قناة السويس .. ولكن جاء اليوم الذي تحاصر فيه قناة السويس الشعب السوري الذي أهداها ابنه جول جمال الذي كان افتداها بروحه كي تبقى قناة السويس حرة وملكا لأهلها المصريين ..

كيف تخلص امرأة اسمها جاكلين لبطل ولاتبادله أمة بحجم مصر الإخلاص وهو الذي افتداها وترك من أجلها أمه واباه وترك حبيبته ؟؟..

هل أعتذر من جول جمال أنه حرر قناة السويس كي يأتي يوم تحاصر فيه القناة التي حررها بدمه شعبه وأمه واباه واخوته ورفاقه الذين عادوا من مصر من دون ان يعود جثمانه معهم .. فربما لايزال جسده يطفو ويهيم على وجه الموج وفي أعماق بورسعيد .؟؟.
لاأدري كيف أنقل الخبر الى روحه ولاأدري كيف أكتب له رسالة كي أتجنب النظر في عينيه .. ولاأدري كيف أبدأ الكتابة ..

فهل مثلا أقول له ان سفن فرنسا وبريطانيا وإسرائيل وأميريكا تمر على أشلائه وبقايا جسده فيما سفن سورية وأصدقائها محرمة على القناة؟؟ هل أقول له اغفر لنا اننا لانملك شيئا في تلك القناة التي دفعنا دمك ثمنا لها وان دول العدوان الثلاثي التي دحرها بجسده وأجساد المصريين والسوريين هي التي تقرر من له الحق في عبور القناة .. ؟؟
هل تراني أقول له ان دمك الذي كان وقودا لملايين العرب والمصريين واضاء قناديل المصريين والمشرقيين صار مثل بقعة زيت عائمة تدوسها سفن إسرائيل واميريكا في الذهاب والإياب ؟؟

لو عاد الزمن ياجول الى تلك اللحظة التي وضعت فيها كل الذخائر والمتفجرات في مقدمة الزورق الانتحاري الذي صعدت اليه وودعت اصدقاءك .. لهرولت وقلت لك .. الهوينى ياجول .. انني أرى لحظة في الزمان لو رأيتها لوقفت وقلت لنفسك ماكان دمي يوما بالرخيص الا من أجل الأوفياء والانقياء .. فكيف يامصر لاتحفظين الجميل .. فتخلص لي امرأة .. وتنساني أمة بحجم مصر ؟؟

فيا مصر لا تخذلي من ترك أهله أمانة في عنقك ووضع كل ثقته في أنك لن تخذلي دمه الذي سقاك الحرية …

   ( الأحد 2019/04/21 SyriaNow)

Israel Shamir: “Christchurch Revisited”

South Front

21.03.2019

Written by Israel Shamir; Originally appeared at The Unz Review

You don’t have to be a white nationalist to commit a mass murder in a house of worship like the one in Christchurch, though if you only read mainstream media you’ll probably associate them with the unique depravity of doing so. Without the slightest intention to wax apologetic for the crime and rejecting conspiracy theories, I want to contextualise the event and preclude political profit-taking and guilt-assigning by the liberals.

Israel Shamir: "Christchurch Revisited"

White nationalists are not exceptional. A Muslim can do it just as “well.” In Egypt, Muslims massacred in April 2017 45 Christians in two Coptic churches. There is a long list of attacks on churches in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq by Islamic extremists. They kill not-sufficiently devout Muslims, too: over 300 Muslim worshippers were slaughtered by Muslim extremists in a Sinai mosque in November 2017. The ISIS atrocities are on a different (worse) level altogether, though they go underreported in the media that prefers to demonise president Assad and his Iranian and Russian allies.

(Many Muslim attacks on Christians go underreported, for media follow the policy of keeping local native nationalists under pressure, and full reporting would undermine this goal. In September last year, a man poured out petrol and tried to ignite a fire on a subway train in Stockholm. He was stopped by fellow passengers, arrested, sentenced to four years in jail. It was hardly reported at all, and the only report does not give his name, for a good reason: it is a Muslim name. However, so-called hate crimes get a lot of coverage.)

A Jew can do it even better. A Brooklyn Jew, Dr Benjamin (it’s all about the Benjamins, baby!) Goldstein single-handedly massacred about fifty worshippers in the Ibrahimiye Mosque of Halil/Hebron in Palestine on the eve of Purim 1994. He also wounded about 150 Muslim worshippers – though it is said that Israeli soldiers present at the spot gave him an assisting hand. Perhaps they thought it was free-for-all.

Image result for Baruch) Goldstein

Benjamin (or Baruch) Goldstein is considered a hero and a sainted martyr within his community, the fiercely chauvinist Jews of Hebron. They go to his grave and ask for his intercession before the Almighty. Young girls ask him to find them a suitor. Candles are constantly lit in his memory. A book was published in his honour, and his name is frequently mentioned among the settlers. They claim (without any evidence or factual base) that this massacre saved the Jews from being massacred by Muslims.

While white nationalist videos have been de-platformed, YouTube has no problem with this video exculpating and glorifying the Jewish mass murderer. Prime Minister Netanyahu (another Benjamin, baby!) decided to bring the party of Goldstein fans, Otzma Yehudit, into his government coalition, and it did not interfere with his triumphal progress to the AIPAC conference to be held on March 24, right after Purim.

Goldstein had his predecessors. On 26 July 1983, a Jewish terrorist group attacked an Islamic college with hand grenades and submachine guns; three students were killed and thirty wounded. The attackers were eventually apprehended, sentenced and quickly pardoned by the president of Israel after a big public campaign: over 70% of Israeli Jews demanded their release.

As Purim approaches, activity around Goldstein’s grave comes to a peak. A mystic could think that the NZ shooter had been moved to action by the Purim awakening of the Goldstein spirit. At the same time, the name of the Jewish killer is hardly ever mentioned in the Western media, and the Jewish American officials, while expressing their (justified) horror and indignation regarding the Christchurch murders, never refer to their coreligionist who preceded and inspired Tarrant. Some of them even said that nothing similar to the mosque shooting ever happened.

So, white nationalists are not exceptional. An unusual feature of Tarrant’s crime was that it was a hate-less hate crime; essentially a gamer’s crime. Apparently there is a game-acquired appeal in raining bullets upon “vermin”. If you played videogames you would know what I mean. A sort of FPS (First-Person Shooter Games) with your preferred enemy instead of a zombie. And now, make the next step – consider real people being zombies. You do not need hate for that; and Tarrant did not hate his victims, judging by his writing. He even wrote about the great friends he made in Turkey.

The border between videogame and reality became blurred by way of modern warfare. The video Collateral Murder, the first breakthrough achievement of Assange and Wikileaks, gives us the FPS of an American pilot killing innocent and unarmed people on the streets of Baghdad. Israeli girl-soldiers operate a remote-control killing system on the Gaza fence. It is called the Spot and Shoot system. They do what Tarrant did as their daily job. The same is done by drone operators sitting in faraway places and killing children. (To make it easier, they call their victims “fun-size terrorists”.)

Video games that train you to kill without feeling hatred are a substitute for this sort of killing. I’ve been to wars, and I’ve seen and experienced the real thing. Hatred is not necessary to kill your enemy. If you know who is your enemy, you can kill without feeling hatred, and that is what most soldiers do, most of the time.

It’s not something to be horrified about. We have to recognise aggression as a necessary element of our mentality. It is not “good” or “bad”, this is what we are, in the favourite expression of Mme Pelosi. We have an inbuilt drive for hunt and warfare, that’s why a little boy goes “bang bang” before he is able to talk. This is the way we are hard-wired. People like to shoot people; if they aren’t allowed to in real life, they do it in games. But they dream of doing it for real, to fight, to kill and perhaps, to die. This drive, like other destructive drives, is normally canalised, or sublimated. A boy’s hunting instinct and his drive for war have been transformed into heroic actions, into defence of one’s home and country, or into performing Herculean feats. Without it, we would be still sharing bananas in the African jungle.

However, we live in a feminised society where feats are against the law. A boy is supposed to behave like a girl; a girl, like a boy. Not only clothes and toilets are unisex, so is the indoctrination. The propaganda of gender-fluidity aims at killing masculinity at its root. A young working-class man has very few prospects in life. He can get a low-paid temporary job with no security, at best. And he can pour out his indignation and desperation in a video games saloon or in a fighting club. Or just use more drugs and alcohol.

Games, and shooter games in particular, are very popular, because they cater for basic needs – as pornography does. They are so popular that the Swedish gamer who was mentioned by Tarrant has ninety million followers: it is many times more than any article-writing journalist can ever reach. So there are many frustrated and dissatisfied men. Will the games provide a sufficient outlet for the pent-up tension? Perhaps; porno certainly influenced sexual relations by making so many men less interested in the real thing.

It is not in the best interests of mankind. For mankind, it is better for men to be interested in women and perform feats of courage for the best of the community to win their love. For the people who consider themselves our masters, there are other priorities. They want to have calm herds of many cows and oxen; bulls are trouble. This comparison is somewhat misleading: humans are not herbivores, and we are more rebellious, clever and strong-minded.

In order to quell the rebellious spirit, our would-be masters invent traps and fake vents. Greta Thunberg and her demonstrations against global warming provide such a faux outlet for the rebellion. The Yellow Vests of France are fomenting a real rebellion, and that is why they are being demonised by the mass media. Our society should be reorganised to allow young men to perform real feats. They want to save the world, and the only things they are being offered is to flip hamburgers or play video games.

This desire to save the world is evident in Tarrant’s Manifesto. He describes the world in which he and other working-class young men are displaced, and though his proposed solution (terror) is wrong, the problem is real. He sees the people he is being replaced with, the immigrants, and he seeks to deal with them.

The replacement is real, but the culprits are not the immigrants he is being replaced with. It’s people who organise the replacement, who bomb Muslim lands to create living hell in the once-prosperous Middle East and North Africa, who bring the refugees to Europe (and its extension in Australia-NZ), who indoctrinate against ‘xenophobia’ instead of denouncing greed.

Actually, Tarrant is aware of it. He wrote in his Manifesto:

The major impetus for the mass importation of non-Europeans into Europe is the call and want for cheap labour. Nothing drives the invasion more and nothing needs to be defeated more than the greed that demands cheap labour… In the end human greed and the need for increasing profit margins of capital owners needs to be fought against and broken.

He is definitely right on that, spot on. Greed of capital should be destroyed in order to save mankind, but killing Muslims is not the right way for it.

Tarrant’s concern about the low birthrate of Europeans is understandable, but for one reason only: he takes for granted this demand for cheap labour and more sales have to be satisfied. However, it does not have to be satisfied at all. If greed is controlled and defeated, and immigration blocked, the population can gently decline until a new sustainable level is found. For a while, the population will grow older, true; but this is a temporary effect. We are not doomed to ever-increasing population, ever-increasing profits and sales, ever-rising shares, endless expansion. It can be changed.

And we should, because if we don’t, our ‘masters’ will organise a giant bloodletting, a new great war to turn millions of deprived young men into Tarrants in their service, as they did in 1914 and 1939. Mankind will defeat greed and work for its better future, or will it turn upon itself. This is the main lesson of the Christchurch massacre.

Israel Shamir can be reached at adam@israelshamir.net

Archbishop Atallah Hanna: Warsaw Conference has disregarded that no one can undermine Palestinian cause

Source

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Archbishop of Sebastia of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of al-Quds [Jerusalem] Atallah Hanna has affirmed that Palestinian people will continue to defend al-Quds [Jerusalem], their shrines and their just national cause no matter how tough the oppressive occupation policies are.

His Eminence’s remark was made during a tour in Salwan town [ located in the south of al-Aqsa Mosque], which is being constantly targeted by Israeli occupation authorities.

“Our mission is a message of solidarity, love, fraternity and national unity among all Palestinian people. The pains of Salwan citizens are our pains because we are one Palestinian people wherever and whenever we are, and we share the same ambitions,” the archbishop said, according to a newsletter sent to the Syria Times e-newspaper.

His Eminence asserted that the issue of detainees and prisoners must be a top priority for Palestinians because those are the heroes and symbols of freedom and they deserve to stand by them.

“We believe in values of human brotherhood and national unity through which we can be strong in defending the right we call for…Palestinians are not guests or a minority of al-Quds population…Al-Quds is their capital… We hope that internal Palestinian divisions will end so as to be strong in defending al-Quds and our shrines,” the archbishop stated, according to another newsletter sent by the archbishop Office.

His Eminence has told a German media delegation that the Palestinian cause plus the attempts of aborting it are being marginalized by media outlets.

“The world must show interest in the catastrophic circumstances the Palestinian children are going through… Gaza strip has become the largest prison in the world due to the siege being imposed by Zionist occupation,” the archbishop said.

In a separate meeting with Swiss lawyers, his Eminence called for lifting the siege being imposed by Israel on Gaza strip as Palestinian people suffer from a real humanitarian catastrophe.

“Occupation authorities have killed many youths and children during peaceful marches, and these crimes have been perpetrated because Israel, which acts brutally and without moral and human deterrent, has not been held accountable,” the archbishop clarified, indicating that over 2 million Palestinian persons are living under the siege in the strip.

Add to that, His Eminence referred to the great efforts being exerted by the World Campaign for defending Children in Palestine, warning against forced displacement being practiced by occupation authority.

“Forced displacement is dangerous and poses a threat to scores of Palestinian families and the UN report must take this matter seriously,” the archbishop asserted, calling for active European role in protecting al-Quds city’s history from Zionist occupations’ attempts to change it.

“The occupation authorities seek to turn Al-Quds city, which has its religious and spiritual status in the Abrahamic religions, into a Zionist -Jewish city encroaching on Christian and Islamic dimensions.”

As for Warsaw conference, the archbishop has declared: “ The conference comes within conspiracy hatched against the Palestinian cause and it aims to liquidate the cause, but the conferees disregard that there are Palestinian people on the ground and they have a just cause that no one can undermine.”

Treason

He went on to say:

“Like other conferences and meetings that came within the projects of liquidating the Palestinian cause, Warsaw conference is doomed to fail. Besides, the deal of the century will never pass and it exists only in their minds and on their papers that will be thrown in the dustbin of history.”

His Eminence regrets that some Arab countries have decided to be involved in the plot that aims to eliminate the Palestinian cause.

“We consider normalization meetings as treason to Palestine that is supposed to be the main Arab cause and to the Arab nation as well.”

“If those who normalize relations with Israel believe that Israel can keep them in power, they are mistaken as the top priority for Israel is its interest and the continuity of its occupation of Palestine. While those who believe that they are US friends, they will discover- sooner or later- that they have no friends because Washington just thinks of its agendas and it has thirst for gulf oil, which it steals from our region to finance its wars and policies,” the archbishop concluded.

Basma Qaddour  

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Jerusalem Archbishop: ‘Everything Palestinian is targeted by israel’s (apartheid state) occupation’

Jerusalem Archbishop: ‘Everything Palestinian is targeted by Israel’s occupation’

MEMO | February 2, 2019

Archbishop of Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox Church, Atallah Hanna, seen during a protest in the West bank city of Hebron, January 22, 2015 [Muhesen Amren / ApaImages]

The Palestinian Archbishop of Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox Church, Atallah Hanna, said yesterday that “everything Palestinian in Jerusalem is targeted by the Israeli occupation”.

During a meeting with a delegation from Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders, MSF), Hanna explained the dangers threatening Palestinians’ existence and identity in the Holy City, Al-Wattan Voice reported.

“Everything is in danger in Jerusalem,” Hanna said, adding: “The Islamic and Christian holy sites and endowments are targeted in order to change our city, hide its identity and marginalize our Arabic and Palestinian existence.”

Hanna added that “recently, the Israeli occupation cancelled a planned celebration on the 50th anniversary of establishing Al-Maqased Hospital,” noting that the Israeli occupation had cancelled many other Palestinian events planned to take place in Jerusalem.

The Archbishop said that Palestinians “are living under severe torture and harsh persecution,” pointing to Israel’s closure of Palestinian institutions in the city. “It seems that they wanted us to give up Jerusalem and submit to their polices, measures and practices,” he added.

Hanna continued: “Jerusalem is for us and will remain for us. We will never give up our rights in Jerusalem and we will defend it against Israeli oppression.”

Addressing the MSF staff, he said: “We want you to know closely the suffering of the Palestinians and the oppression inflicted by the Israeli occupation on them in Jerusalem. We want our message to reach all the people around the world as we want more friends for the Palestinians.”

Israel SITREP: The Christ-hating Israelis are at it again

Remember this:

or, for that matter, this:

Well, our Israeli friends have done it again, check out this article by RT: (just ignore all the explaining away and other cop-outs in the text of the RT article).
———-

‘McJesus’ statue sparks riot at museum in Israel as protesters call for removal of ‘offensive’ art

An art exhibit featuring a crucified Ronald McDonald caused chaos in the Israeli city of Haifa last week, after members of the country’s Arab Christian minority took offence at the depiction and protested outside the museum.Hundreds of Christian protesters called for the statue, titled ‘McJesus,’ to be removed from the museum, with Israeli police saying that some rioters even hurled a firebomb at the building and threw stones, shattering windows and injuring officers. Crowds were eventually dispersed with tear gas and stun grenades, according to the Associated Press.

Embedded video

The Wolf Report@thewolfreports

Christian Palestinians protesting in front of the Haifa Museum to the sculpture “McJesus” by Finnish artist Jani Leinonen, depicting Ronald McDonalds clown on the cross.

However, it seems the protesters missed the point of the exhibit, which was not intended to be an attack on Christianity, but instead meant as an artist’s statement on capitalism, corporate domination and how modern society and culture worship false gods. The exhibit also includes Barbie-doll boxes with Jesus and the Virgin Mary inside.

The sudden focus on the exhibit came as a surprise to Museum Director Nissim Tal, however, since the art in question had been on display for months already without issue. It is believed that photos of the controversial statue recently published on social media prompted the protests.

The work has also been shown in other countries without problems, although Israel’s Christians make up a tiny percentage of the population in a country which is already rife with ethnic and religious tensions.

Wadie Abu Nassar, an adviser to church leaders who have demanded the exhibit’s removal, told the AP it was necessary to understand that freedom of expression “is interpreted in different ways” in different societies. “If this work was directed against non-Christians, the world would be turned upside down,” he said.

The museum has refused to remove the artwork, saying that it must uphold freedom of expression and resist pressure. “If we take the art down, the next day we’ll have politicians demanding we take other things down and we’ll end up only with colorful pictures of flowers in the museum,” Tal said, adding: “We will be defending freedom of speech, freedom of art, and freedom of culture, and will not take it down.”

Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev, who has earlier been accused of supporting censorship after pushing legislation commanding national “loyalty” in art, also called for the exhibit to be taken down, saying it was “disrespectful.”

The museum has hung a curtain over the entrance to the exhibit and put up a sign saying that it is not intended to offend, but that is the “maximum” it will do, its director added. Protesters, however, have refused to give up, with one reportedly camping outside the museum in a tent with a sign calling on artists to “respect religions.”

In another twist, the Finnish artist who produced the ‘McJesus’ statue, Jani Leinonen, also wants the work taken out of the Haifa museum, but not because he doesn’t want to offend. Leinonen said he supports the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to pressure Israel to change its policies toward Palestinians.

Nadine Nashef@nanninenashef

The McJesus Saga keeps getting better and better. Apparently Finnish artist Jani Leinonen is a activist/supporter and wants his work taken out of the Haifa museum. He wasn’t aware it was being exhibited there. 😂

———-

Bottom line is this: if it is anti-Christian, then even a BDS-supporting goy will get his 15 minutes of fame in the “only democracy in the Middle-East”.

These guys, and the al-Qaeda crazies, are the forces which the West chose to support in the Middle-East.

Bravo!

The Saker

Christmas meeting … between Jerusalem and Damascus

let’s cooperate to build a humane world

Sunday, 09 December

South Front

By  Eva Bartlet

DAMASCUS, SYRIA — On October 2, 2018, I met with the Grand Mufti of Syria, Dr. Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun, a scholar and the highest official of Islamic law in Syria, who assumed the position of grand mufti in 2005.

Dr. Hassoun’s (archived) website notes that in addition to his title of grand mufti, his other positions include, “Chairman of the Media Committee of the Higher Consultative Council for the Rapprochement between the Islamic Schools of Thought, Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.” Essentially meaning that the mufti focuses on interfaith, and inter-sect, dialogue.

His speeches routinely focus on the theme of rapprochement or, more generally, coexistence and love. He takes a firmly anti-sectarian stance, and supports the removal of barriers between sects, in order to achieve national unity.

Yet Dr. Hassoun’s detractors — most often aligned with NATO, Gulf, Turkish, or Israeli interests — accuse him of supporting terrorism. These claims emanate from a mistranslated version of a speech Hassoun gave in 2011 following the assassination of his son Saria just days before. The translation was provided by MEMRI, an organization founded by former Israeli intelligence officials that translates political speeches from Arabic into English.

Dr. Hassoun has long since addressed the accusation, including in a November 2011 interview with Der Spiegel, in which he clarified:

I didn’t threaten to send suicide bombers. I merely described a scenario in which it could easily emerge from the situation, and I warned against what could happen. Sentences were taken out of context and given a different coloring. Besides, the context to which my remark applied was a self-defense situation: a possible NATO attack on Syria.”

As I wrote previously, Dr. Hassoun spoke of the murder of his son Saria, “’…who had never carried a weapon in his life” and was gunned-down as he was leaving his university:

In a public address at the funeral the next day, Mufti Hassoun, while weeping, forgave the gunmen and called on them to lay down their weapons and re-join Syria. The following day, he received a text message saying the assassins would kill him as they had killed his son.

A year later, when two of the gunmen were caught, the Mufti went to speak with them. Again bestowing his forgiveness and asking only to know why they had murdered Saria, Mufti Hassoun learned that the assassins were simply following orders from Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and were paid for their dirty work, one thousand dollars per person. Embodying the forgiveness he preaches, the Mufti asks for their pardon and release.”

My conversation with Dr. Hassoun touched on Syria’s rich mosaic of cultures and faiths; Syria’s history of plurality and coexistence; the role of the media in shaping narratives on Syria, and the issue of Western sanctions on Syria, sanctions that specifically hurt the Syrian people — depriving Syrians of access to medicines, cancer treatments, medical equipment, even ambulances.

Mufti Hassoun is described in Western media as one of the most powerful figures in Syria. In my experiences, he is one of the most humble, approachable and compassionate figures, beloved by Syrians of all faiths.

Below is a translated transcript of my interview with Mufti Hassoun.

Eva Bartlett (EB): First of all, I’d like to thank you, Mufti Hassoun for your time today and for meeting with me.

Mufti Hassoun (MH): I would like to thank you because you were able to penetrate through the lies of the media, and come to Syria several times to report an authentic image of what has been happening in Syria.

Because the media, as President Trump put it, can be bought nowadays. The media write what they are told, not the truth.

Whereas you, Eva, you insisted on coming to Syria to see the truth and to report what is happening in Syria, and in Gaza, and in places where the fire of wars is raging.

You refused to lease your mind. You wanted to see the truth, and that is what I wish from all journalists in the world. [I wish] that journalists were never traders of values and principles, whose dignity and values can be bought. So they write what they are told, and report what they are told, not the truth.

The truth will be known to people through history. And God will hold us accountable for it [the truth] if we believe in God. And history will also hold us accountable.

So Eva, I have highly respected you since the first day you came. It wasn’t enough for you to listen to what I said and my words. You went on the streets, mixed with the people, went to Aleppo, went to Latakia, visited people in their homes.

You took the words from the supporters and the opposition listened to both parties and wrote the truth, that Syria is oppressed and that Syria has wonderful people. And that in Syria, there is no conflict between the people and the government.

The conflict is between the values and civilization that Syria enjoys [on the one hand], and those who want to drive people backwards [on the other hand] to a version of Islam that is not Islam, and to values that are not values. They want to enslave the people.

Thank you, Eva. I hope you will become a role model for free journalism, and for a noble, impartial, media, to report people’s pain and their hopes. Thanks to you, and to a father and a mother who raised you to become a truth seeker, and not one to follow others.

EB: How can Syria combat the sectarianism that is being thrust upon it by Saudi and Gulf television channels, and by their sheikhs (religious leaders), and by their muftis.

MH: Syria is a civilized country — it embraces all the civilizations of the world because it is the gate to the Orient. So [historically] those who wanted to go to China from Europe passed through Syria. And those who want to go back to Europe pass through Syria. Syria a hundred years ago was far bigger than Syria today. In Syria in 1900, 118 years ago, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria were one country. One bank, one currency, one president, and one nation. There were no religious minorities in it. The reason is that it is the land of Abraham, and Abraham was the forefather of all prophets. He was the forefather of Moses, and of Jesus, and the forefather of Muhammad, may prayers and peace be upon them.

Therefore, Syria embraced those divine messages. So, in one family, you can find a Christian, you can find a Muslim, you can find a secularist, you can find a capitalist and you can find a socialist.

Syria embraced everyone. And it also embraced ethnicities like the Arabs, the Kurds, the Syriacs, the Assyrians, and the Arameans. One could hear many languages: Arabic, Armenian, Chaldean, and Aramaic. One could find people from all over the world. If you went to its churches in Palestine, which was part of Syria at the time, you could find in these churches a Greek monk, a French bishop, an Aramean bishop, a Chaldean, an Arab, all of them in the churches praying together.

And if you went to the Aqsa mosque, you would see the Arabs, the Kurds, others from all ethnicities or regions, such as Egyptians and Libyans, inside the Aqsa Mosque. There were no ‘minorities’ in Syria. Syria is a nation in which all ethnicities are gathered. Therefore, when they [imperialist nations] divided it in 1900 into four countries, they wanted to create conditions for establishing countries on an ethnic, religious, and racist basis, which fight one another.

After the division, we did not fight with Lebanon, nor did we fight with Iraq, nor did we fight with Jordan, nor did we fight with Palestine.

They went to the world and told them that Solomon’s Temple was in Palestine. Come to Solomon’s Temple… I am very surprised by these words, that Solomon’s Temple, or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, or the Aqsa Mosque, or the Kaaba, gather all the people of this religion in this country!

That means every Jew should be in Palestine, every Christian should be in Bethlehem, and every Muslim should be in al-Aqsa. This is untrue! Exalted God is in my heart, and in the heart of that Jew and that Christian. God is in our hearts. He is not in the church, nor in the temple, nor in the Kaaba. Thus began this religious, extremist ideology, by making countries fight one another for hundreds of years, and kill one another in the name of God.

The difference between war in the name of religion and war for money or oil is that with war for oil, when you put your hand on oil wells, the war ends. When you control politics, the war is over. But when it comes to religion, here is the problem: the fight will go on for hundreds of years.

The reason is that wars become “holy.” This is what happened 500 years ago when Europe came to wage war in Syria and in Palestine. If you asked those fighters who came from Norway, Italy, France and Britain, “Why did you come to Syria?” they would say: “We came to save the tomb of the Messiah.” To save the tomb of the Messiah. And we could ask them: “Is Jesus buried in the ground? Jesus is in Heaven. So why are you fighting for a tomb that is empty?”

But the clergies used to fuel these wars to profit from them, and politicians used to work with them, so they could be leaders and kings.

The war in Syria, which has been going on for the last eight years, started for similar reasons. It is a war to divide Syria into ethnicities and sects, and to weaken it.

Like what they did in Lebanon. In Lebanon in 1960, and before 1960, the president was Maronite, and the prime minister was Sunni, and the president of the parliament was Shia, and they did not fight.  They were one family.

But, after the Lebanese war, Lebanon was divided into four divisions: There was a Sunni state, a Durzi state, a Shia state, and a Maronite state. It was a big lie. Syria entered into Lebanon, eliminated the borders, and withdrew.

We were surprised by the war on Iraq. From long ago, Iraq has had Sunnis, Shias, Kurds, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs. They are there in Iraq. Iraq is a country that houses nations. They have always integrated and coexisted.

[Paul] Bremer came and established their constitution. That constitution is a sectarian and racist constitution. That constitution states that the president of the republic should be a Kurd, the prime minister should be a Shia, and the president of the parliament should be a Sunni.

Am I electing a bishop for a church or an Imam for a mosque depending on his being a Kurd, a Sunni, or a Shia? I am electing a person to govern the state and serve the people. So when I say that the president of the parliament must be a Shia, and the prime minister be a Sunni… Why Sunni or Shia?

He must be an Iraqi citizen. He must be a Syrian citizen, whether Christian or Muslim.

Today, the president of the parliament in Syria is a Christian. Where is the problem? Eighty years ago, the prime minister was a Christian, Faris Al-Khouri. Where is the problem?

Syria has held on to this humanitarian notion that the children of this country are not minorities. There are tens of Yazidi villages, they are originally Zoroastrian. There are Christians of all sects. There are Sunnis of all doctrines. There are Shias of all doctrines. There are sects from all ethnicities.

They are all a population of 23 million citizens. They have the right to vote. They have the right to occupy any rank in the government, like the Ministry of Defense. One is never asked whether he is a Muslim, a Christian, or a Jew, Sunni, Shia, or an Arab, or a Kurd, or an Assyrian. As long as he is a Syrian citizen.

For this reason, the war was started in Syria. Because it is a civil and secular state, but not non-religious. Syria respects religions and acknowledges everyone’s religion, and has a law that protects everyone’s religious and ethnic rights.

The Armenians, who came from Armenia after the wars that were waged there, we didn’t say to any of them: ‘abandon your language.’ There are Armenian schools. There are Syriac schools. Along with Arabic, they study Armenian and Syriac. They did not lose their identity.

All this hatred to Syria is because it did not submit to the European or American division that was imposed on Iraq and Lebanon. France imposed this ethnic and religious division in Lebanon.

Regarding Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait, they do not have the same diversity that exists in Syria. They are states based on clans. Let’s take al-Hijaz, the state of Hijaz.  Al-Hijaz, since the time of prophet Muhammad (prayers and peace be upon him) until one hundred years ago, was the home for all Arab tribes, from Najran to Dammam, to Abha, to Khamis Mishait, to Ma’an. All Arab tribes lived there, and all those tribes were Muslims.

When the Saudis came into power, they replaced the name of the country al-Hijaz with the name of the family. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Therefore, the country was no longer for the nation but for a family.

Syria is a nation, and does not belong to the Assad family. Syria is for the nation, and does not belong to al-Quwatli family. Syria is for the nation, and does not belong to Amin al-Hafiz. (Al-Quwatli and al-Hafiz were presidents of Syria). Syria is a nation.

Saudi Arabia — a part of which was called Hijaz — was a country for all Arab tribes, before a single tribal name was imposed on them.

That is why these countries do not know the meaning of the sectarian and ethnic diversity that we know in Syria. Diversity gives you power, it gives you richness. When there are Kurds, Armenians, Christians, Muslims, Jews and the secular, they all each think in their own way.

So, when they sit together they produce a wealth of ideas and culture. There, they don’t accept a different opinion. For example, I used to go to al-Hijaz to perform Hajj [pilgrimage] with a group of Syrians. I wanted to deliver a speech to them; it’s forbidden: ‘You should not speak. The speaker must be a Saudi.’

Whereas, in Syria, we welcomed the Saudi, the Egyptian, the British, and the American, in our cultural centers and we would listen to them, and listen to their speeches.

I myself received in my mosque, al-Rawda mosque in Aleppo, members of parliament from all over the world. Even one of the Philippines’ presidents visited us. Austria’s minister of foreign affairs visited me in the mosque and listened to the sermon, and we listened to their words.

We have no objection to listening to the other. Whereas, those countries are racist and religious countries. [They] don’t accept other religions, and not only other religions, but also other doctrines.

For example, the Wahhabi doctrine — they don’t accept other doctrines. In Syria, we have a mufti for the Shafie school, a mufti for the Jafari school, a mufti for Hanbali school, and a mufti for the Maliki school. As long as there is a group, it has its own religious doctrine.

There is a patriarch for the Orthodox, a patriarch for the Syriacs, and a patriarch for the Catholics. This is their natural right.

In Saudi Arabia, such a thing is prohibited, unless [the mufti is] a Sunni Salafist. These days, you [Saudi Arabia] receive around 3 or 4 million Muslim pilgrims from all over the world. There are Sunni pilgrims, Shia pilgrims, Sufi pilgrims. As long as he [the pilgrim] is speaking to his group, it is his right. So why do you prevent him [from doing so]?

In Syria, this is the intellectual freedom they wanted to get rid of with this sectarian war, where they said: ‘This is Alawite, this is Sunni’ … and that the government in Syria is Alawite.

Who says that Alawites are not Syrians, and not Muslims, or not sons of this country? If they had studied only the word ‘Alawite,’ [they would have found] that it means a spiritual Sufi Muslim who loves [Imam] Ali and does not hate others. This is the meaning of the word ‘Alawite.’

And the Druze, they are the Unitarians; [they are] a Muslim nation called the Unitarians, whose forefathers build al-Azhar [mosque].

The Jafari Shias are the followers of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq whose forefather is the Messenger of God [Muhammad].

The Sunnis, their sheikhs were the students of Jafar al-Sadiq. All of them. Imam Malik, Imam Abu Hanifa, were students of Jafar al-Sadiq.

What you see today of religious division is not religious; it is political division hiding under a religious cloak to control people by coercion, not by thoughts, nor by mind, nor by culture. ‘There shall be no compulsion in the religion’ (The Qur’an 2:256).

This is the main difference between us [Syria] and other countries.

EB: My next question dovetails with your response, because I had wanted to note how the Saudi mufti is sectarian, and has called for the churches on the Arabian peninsula to be destroyed, whereas I recall that Reverend Ibrahim Nseir told me that when his church was destroyed by terrorists in Aleppo, the first person to call him was Mufti Hassoun, who said: ‘Don’t worry, Reverend, we will rebuild your church.’ So, there is a stark difference between the ideology and mentality of this Wahhabi, Saudi, mufti, and Mufti Hassoun – who, I believe – is it correct to say you consider yourself Mufti of all Syrians?

MH: First of all, what is happening in Syria, the demolition of churches and mosques … they destroyed both churches and mosques. They are not defending a religion; they are fighting to destroy the Syrian state, and to destroy this humanitarian fabric that is present in Syria.

Therefore, they tried to demolish Tadmur [Palmyra]. Palmyra has nothing to do with Muslims or Christians. They tried to loot Syrian artifacts that go back five thousand, ten thousand years, including the ruins of Afamia and other ruins in Syria. So, they are trying to wipe out history in attempts to build a future. This future that they are trying to create is built on ethnic, sectarian, doctrinal and racist bases, where people kill one another.

And this is what you can see today in Israeli society. Israeli society has extremist and non-extremist components. There are neighbourhoods in al-Quds [Jerusalem] and neighbourhoods in Tel Aviv where one can walk and not feel they are in a civilized country, but a regressive one that goes back a thousand years. Long hair, beards. At 6 p.m. every Friday, no one is seen in the streets. It is prohibited to walk in the streets because God rests on Saturday, therefore people have to rest, too.

Why do you impose your opinion compulsorily on people when God says: ‘There shall be no compulsion in religion’?

The extremist Jew is like the extremist Muslim, whether this Muslim is a Sufi, Salafi or Wahhabi. The extremist is the one who wants to impose their beliefs on others and say, ‘You are all kuffar [disbelievers] except me. I’m the believer.’  Whether they are Christians, Muslims, or Jews, the extremists consider others as ‘kuffar.’

The extremist Jew considers the Israeli prime minister a disbeliever. And the extremist Christian considers Christians who don’t regularly go to church as disbelievers. And the extremist Muslim considers ones who belong to a different Islamic doctrine as disbelievers, not only the ones who belong to a different religion.

The Protestant does not see the Orthodox as a believer, and the Orthodox believes that the Protestant has renounced Christianity.

We consider everyone as believers, and God is the one who will judge me for my faith, because the place of faith is in the heart, not the church, nor the mosque. How many a person goes to the church or the mosque, but with no faith?!  And how many a person has faith but has never been to a church or a mosque, and he is reconciled with exalted God?

How many a person has never been to Bethlehem, nor to the Wailing Wall, or to the Kabba, but to God, he is a believer?

Therefore, this extremism in the world is due to the political and economic dominance over the religious sphere. Politicians and economists want to dominate the religious and human sphere to govern people in the name of the divine, to the extent that people will start kissing the hand of the president or king because he is the son [descendent] of Muhammad (peace be upon him). Or because he represents Jesus, or because he represents Israel. People will submissively kiss the hands of this rabbi, that sheikh or mufti, or that priest. They love this.

Whereas for me, I believe that all people of the world, seven billion people, are my brothers. They fall into two groups. Those who believe and walk with me on the same path, these are my healthy brothers [who are in the right]. The other group do not walk with me on the same path, those are my ill brothers [who are in the wrong]. My duty is to offer them medicine and love, not to call them criminals or disbelievers. I have to show them the path. Those who walk beside me and take the medicine, it is their decision. Those who refuse to take the medicine, it is also their decision. It is you who are in pain.

This is what makes me, in Syria, not represent any sect or religion or ethnicity. I am a son of Syria. My forefather, 500 years ago, might have been a Kurd, or my other forefather or foremother a Turk. My forefather might have been from the tribe of Tai, and my mother’s lineage might have descended from the tribe of Thubian, and my other forefather might have been from the tribe of Hashim. This is not important to me today. What matters is how to save Syria.

Fourteen hundred years ago, Syria as a whole was Christian. Before Islam came here, all Syrians from Gaza to Antioch were Christians. [Before that] the Byzantines came to them from Greece; they were pagans 2,000 years ago.

When Jesus came with his message, Syria was divided into two groups: the indigenous Christians, and the pagan invaders. Islam arrived and some Christians, like al-Ghasasinah and other big tribes, remained Christian, and the rest embraced Islam. They were of one big tribe, some of them remained Christian and others became Muslims. They coexisted.

When the Commander of the believers, Othman bin Affan, was martyred, his wife, Naila bint Qerfais, was a Christian from Kufa [Iraq], and her father was a Christian cleric.

In Syria, we have this broad vision of thought, and that is why they are waging war on us. They want our thoughts to be narrow and closed. No. We will keep calling out: ‘Praise be to the Lord of the worlds,’ not the Lord of the Muslims, nor the Lord of Christians, but the Lord of the Worlds. For God is the Lord of us all.

Those who agree, they are welcome. And for those who do not: ‘For you is your religion, and for me is my religion’ (The Qur’an, 109:6). I will not force my religion on you, and you [also] don’t force yours on me. However, I swear I do love you and have mercy for you.

EB: At the beginning [of the interview], you mentioned how the corporate media has lied about Syria. So I’d like to bring up something from a few years ago. And that was that you warned the Western world that if terrorism didn’t stop in Syria, it would spread to Europe and beyond. And some media — I think it was Gulf media — took your words and distorted them, and lied about your message. So, I would just ask you if you could please clarify what it was you said and how they lied, I’m sure you remember which incident I’m referring to.

MH: This question comes on a special day. Today is the anniversary of the martyrdom of [my son] Saria. I said those words five days after the martyrdom of Saria.

A delegation from Lebanon was visiting me. The delegation was named ‘the Caravan of Mary.’ They came to visit me in Aleppo to express their condolences for my son’s martyrdom. They were Lebanese and Syrians, Christians and Muslims. I met them in a mosque called the Omayyad mosque in Aleppo, at the shrine of Zakaria.

On that day, I said: ‘This fire that you are starting in Syria by the extremists. This fire … you have sleeper cells in Europe, these cells send extremists to Syria. Someday, these sleeper cells will be active and burn up in Europe as they did in Syria.’ So they reported that I said: ‘we have sleeper cells that we will send to you.’

How could we send them to you, when they are burning us, and while they came from your countries?!

Some of those so-called opposition members mistranslated my speech to some European governments, and claimed that the Syrian Mufti is threatening that he would send sleeper cells to bomb Europe. When my son Saria was martyred, five days before this speech, I said I had forgiven those who killed my son. How would I accept to send someone to kill your children? How could I accept this?

For three years, corporate media and Syrian opposition members residing over there [in Europe] complained to the United Nations that the mufti of Syria should be held accountable, the mufti of Syria is a terrorist, the mufti of Syria…

It is indeed extremely surprising that Europeans listened to my speech in front of the European Council in 2009. I told them then: ‘I call you my brothers, not Europeans. I told them ‘you are my brothers, and our civilization is one.’ European, Syrian, and Arabic civilizations are one civilization which is neither a Muslim civilization, nor a Christian one. It is produced by humanity.

They entirely forgot this speech, as well as the martyrdom of my son, Saria. They also forgot my forgiveness. Instead, they would say: ‘He threatened us and is forbidden from entering Europe.’

I received several invitations from universities in Britain, France, and the United States to lecture there. The governments refuse to grant me entry. Why? Because they do not want the truth to reach their people.

For me, I disapprove of killing any human being in the universe. Even Israelis, I disapprove of killing them. However, I approve of their return to the countries they originally came from, and the return of Palestinians [to their land and homes]. The Jews, Christians, and Muslims who stay in Palestine are the ones who decide what type of government to have, and also welcome visitors from all over the world to Palestine.

The Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims should have the right to come and pray freely [in Palestine] under the protection of law.

But, this banning and this war that’s ongoing in the world, it’s all a political, economic and racist war, wearing the cloak of religion to claim: ‘We are Muslims. We are Christians. We are Jews.’

No, you are not Muslims, nor Jews, nor Christians when you kill humans. You are God’s enemies.

God says in the Psalms of David: ‘Man is my creation, man is the creation of God. Cursed is he who destroys God’s creation.’

Cursed is the one who manufactures weapons of mass destruction. Cursed is the one who plants landmines in the roads to kill people. Cursed is the one who manufactures nuclear weapons. Cursed is the one who manufactures hydrogen weapons [bombs]. Cursed is the one who launches long-range missiles at people, to kill people. Cursed are the ones who manufacture such weapons and use them to kill people, even if they are in the mosque, church, or synagogue.

God has not put us is this universe to kill one another. All prophets — Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Noah — they are all our prophets. Who did they kill? They did not kill anyone, but rather, they invited people to life, they encouraged the culture of life. So, those who kill nowadays in their names [in the names of the prophets] …

The massacre of Deir Yassin in Palestine, the displacement of 4 million Palestinians, the demolition of 3,000 Palestinian villages. By God, Moses is innocent in all of this. Moses was not sent to kill people, because he was oppressed by the Pharaoh.

Our master, Jesus, peace be upon him … when we look at those wars, the Crusades — I prefer to say ‘foreign’ wars, not Crusades … In the name of Jesus’ grave, more than 75,000 Palestinians were killed inside the Aqsa mosque, killed by the British and French armies that came to Palestine to liberate the tomb of Jesus.

Jesus came to promote life. When he touched the dead, he resurrected them. So, you kill in the name of Jesus, while Jesus would give life to the dead. So how false you are! This has nothing to do with Jesus. Jesus said: ‘God is love.’

Those who do not love are not Christians, neither are those who want [accept] other people to starve. Today, Europe consumes all types of food, while in Africa there are children dying of famine[ in Gaza there are children dying of illness; and the Rohingya, the Muslims who were forcibly displaced from Myanmar, are dying of hunger and illness. Are we truly Christians or Muslims when we see these scenes? No. No, not at all.

Therefore, we have to reconsider what is being said in the media, because the media … I can pay it [pay the media] now to make me the Gandhi of the world, and to make me the Trustworthy Joseph, and to make me the messenger of love. I can buy the media. But I do not want to lie, nor do I want them [the media] to lie; this is what I am.

There are some who buy the media to make the mufti of Syria look like a ‘terrorist,’ although I have never shown anything but love to seven billion human beings — they are my brothers and sisters from the same ancestors. My soul is, as their souls, from Heaven, and my body is, as their bodies, from clay.

EB: I want to convey my condolences to you for the anniversary of his your son’s martyrdom.

MH: This is Saria, with me and with my father [the Mufti showed me images on a cell phone of his deceased son]. They have sent me these messages through Facebook today, as it is the anniversary of Saria’s martyrdom.

EB: Thank you very much, Mufti Hassoun.

MH: You are welcome. Thank you. Thank you. I hope you convey this message to the whole world. We love the people of the world. In Syria, we do not hate anyone. Yes, we hate the oppression of the aggressors, and if the aggressor refrains from their aggression, we will love them, too.

We hate the wrong deed, not the person. Jesus, peace be upon him, said to the ones who were stoning a woman because she was an adultress, he said: ‘Who is without sin amongst you that can cast a stone at her.’

We are all sinners, but our duty is to guide people to repentance, not to sin. We have to promote life among human beings.

Please, convey our regards to the nations of the world; we love them, and we want peace.

Tell the ones who are manufacturing weapons in the world that it is enough! Come, let’s cooperate to build a humane world free of wars and weapons of mass destruction, where all of us cooperate with one another.

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. She has spent years on the ground covering conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Palestine. She is a recipient of the International Journalism Award for International Reporting. Visit her personal blog, In Gaza, and support her work on Patreon.

https://www.mintpressnews.com/interview-grand-mufti-ahmad-badr-al-din-hassoun-syria/252590/

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The ship Is But to The Shore

 Journey into the Heart of Reality

الحرب والتطبيع… أوهن من بيت العنكبوت

«إسرائيل» أوهن من بيت العنكبوت، قالها السيد نصرالله ولا زالت عالقة كشوكة في حلوقهم،

نوفمبر 15, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– منذ العام 2000 والمعادلة العبقرية لقائد المقاومة السيد حسن نصرالله تقضّ مضاجع قادة كيان الاحتلال، «إسرائيل» أوهن من بيت العنكبوت، قالها السيد نصرالله ولا زالت عالقة كشوكة في حلوقهم، خاضوا حرب تموز 2006 وحلمهم رفع علم الاحتلال في ساحة النصر في بنت جبيل، حيث قالها علهم يتحررون من وطأتها، فجعلتها حرب تموز معادلة استراتيجية راسخة، فخاضوا حرب غزة ودبّروا الحرب على سورية وحرب اليمن وفي عقولهم وخطط مفكريهم، التحرر من عقدة بيت العنكبوت، وها هم الآن يعودون بصفقة القرن وتسمية القدس عاصمة أبدية لكيان الاحتلال بكل الدعم الأميركي والتطبيع الخليجي، وبالإشهار عن أن دولتهم قومية يهودية، ويخوضون حربهم على غزة، فماذا يقول التاريخ وماذا تقول الوقائع؟

Image result for ‫الكورنيت في غزة‬‎

– حربهم الأخيرة على غزة التي توقفت في منتصف الطريق كانت تأكيد المؤكد بأن كيانهم وجيشهم أوهن من بيت العنكبوت، فالميدان اليوم له أسياده، ولم يعد جيش الاحتلال مَن يرسم المعادلات فيه، الكورنيت حسم السيطرة في البر، والقدرات الاستخبارية للمقاومة أعادت لهم جثث كبار ضباطهم بدلاً من الإنجازات، والصواريخ أسقطت قبتهم الحديدية وسقطت على رؤوسهم، والتهديد بالتصعيد جاءهم بالتهديد المقابل بالمزيد، الصواريخ الدقيقة والعالية القدرة والبعيدة المدى ستنزل إلى ساحات النزال، وترعد فوق تل أبيب.

– في السياسة تقول الحرب في سورية والحرب في اليمن، إن الأهداف الإسرائيلية سقطت، وإن الذراع الإسرائيلية مغلولة، وإن مشروع صفقة القرن يسقط بالضربة القاضية، غياب الشريك الفلسطيني، لأن الشعب الفلسطيني رسم خطوطه الحمراء، مَن يتنازل عن القدس مقتول مقتول، فماذا تقول لهم خطواتهم التي ترعاها واشنطن في الخليج وضم القدس وإعلان يهودية الدولة؟

– مرّ كيان الاحتلال بأربع مراحل من التعامل مع مرجعياته في مقاربة السعي المحموم نحو التطبيع، في المرحلة الأولى لم يكن يعرض سوى تطبيع تقيمه دباباته حيث يحتل الأرض ويضمّ الجغرافيا ويفرض على السكان الرضوخ لذل الاحتلال، وهي صيغة التطبيع التي تتناسب مع مشروع «إسرائيل» الكبرى القائمة على منهج الاحتلال ورسم حدود الكيان بالقوة، وقد سقطت في الجولان العربي السوري بانتفاضة أهله وتمسكهم بهويتهم العربية السورية، وتكرّس سقوطها منذ عام 2000 بسقوط مشروع التوسّع، وفشل الكيان بالاحتفاظ باحتلال جنوب لبنان وتالياً فشله بالاحتفاظ باحتلال غزة.

– في المرحلة الثانية كانت «إسرائيل» العظمى هي البديل الاستراتيجي، وعنوانها مقايضة الأمن بالهيمنة، ومحورها التطبيع الاقتصادي لحجز مقعد المدير الاقتصادي للمنطقة، مقابل القوة العسكرية القادرة على التدمير، لكن شرطها تظهير قدرة الردع، فجاءت حرب تموز 2006 وتكفلت بما بقي منها. وفي المرحلة الثالثة كانت «إسرائيل» الفضلى هي البديل الاستراتيجي الجديد وعنوانها إعادة صياغة المنطقة من خلف الستار وفقاً للمصالح الإسرائيلية، وأداتها التطبيع مع تنظيم القاعدة والفكر التكفيري بأدواته ومرجعياته الخليجية، وكانت الحرب على سورية أداة تطبيق المشروع، والإعلان عن أن جبهة النصرة كنموذج لهذا التطبيع شريك في الأمن الاستراتيجي لكيان الاحتلال، وقد سقط آخر ما تبقى من هذا التطبيع الذي شمل العلاقات التحالفية المعلنة مع حكام الخليج بالضربة القاضية في جنوب سورية.

– تطل المرحلة الرابعة، وعنوانها «إسرائيل» الصغرى، وشرطها الانكفاء خلف الجدار، والاكتفاء بالاعتراف الأميركي بالقدس عاصمة لكيان الاحتلال، وإشهار يهودية الدولة، وهي ثمرة التسليم بسقوط فرص التسوية مع محور المقاومة، وسقوط فرص ضربه وإضعافه، وسقوط فرص إيجاد شريك فلسطيني بقياس المصالح الإسرائيلية لمضمون التسوية، وشكل التطبيع الذي يتناسب مع بدء أفول الكيان وقوته وقدرته على رسم الخرائط، هو التطبيع الذي نشهده مع حكام الخليج، لتوظيفه في إزالة الذعر الذي يعيشه المستوطنون في الكيان القلقون من مستقبل كيانهم، غير الواثقين بغدهم، في ظل ذعر استراتيجي عنوانه أن وجود الكيان صار مطروحاً على بساط البحث، ومثل هذا التطبيع يسهم في نشر ثقافة الاطمئنان بأن «إسرائيل» كيان طبيعي معترف به في المنطقة، حتى لو كان من يعترفون ليسوا من تخشاهم «إسرائيل» وتعتبرهم التهديد الاستراتيجي لوجودها، وهم من يتسبب لها ولمستوطنيها بهذا الذعر الاستراتيجي، فهو تطبيع بيت العنكبوت، كما باتت الحروب حروب بيت العنكبوت.

– كان لي شرف المشاركة في مؤتمر علمي بدعوة مشتركة من جامعة حلب والمستشارية الثقافية الإيرانية في سورية، ومما قلته في مشاركتي،

إن تلاقي السنن التاريخية والسنن الإلهية جعل الرد على التطبيع الإسرائيلي مع تنظيم القاعدة كردّ على الفشل في حرب تموز ومحاولة استجلاب مَن يباهي حزب الله في بذل الدماء، قد جاء على يد حزب الله نفسه، الذي تكفل بقطع يد تنظيم القاعدة ومتفرعاته في سورية داعماً الدولة السورية وجيشها،

إن تلاقي السنن التاريخية والإلهية يقول اليوم

إن الرد على التطبيع الخليجي المبرمج لحساب «إسرائيل» الصغرى بعد الهزيمة التي تلقتها الحرب التي دبّرتها «إسرائيل» ضد سورية وكان سقوطها مدوياً في حلب، ها هو يبدأ من حلب، حيث المدينة العربية الجريحة، التي لا تزال تلملم بقايا أشلائها بعد دمار وخراب وموت، هي المدينة العربية الأولى التي تقود المواجهة على هذه الحلقة من التطبيع، لكنه تطبيع بيت العنكبوت، دون أن يغير ذلك من وصف الجرم بما يستحق، لكن دون وهم الظن بأن «إسرائيل» تتفوق وتتقدم، فهو حلف المتعوس الحاكم للخليج مع خائب الرجاء المنتقل من حرب فاشلةإلى تطبيع فاشل.

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Father Daniël in Syria: ‘Fake News is Imposed With Great Enthusiasm in the West, While Channels of Truth Are Closed’

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By Bahar Azizi
Source

Living in Syria in the sixth-century Mar Yakub monastery in the city of Qara, 90 kilometers north of the capital Damascus, Flemish Father Daniël Maes has been a witness to the invasion of western-backed terrorists since the very beginning. To this day, he and his friends continue to support the Syrian people by not only helping them directly, but also by spreading the truth about what is truly going on in the country.

Each week, a newsletter written by Father Daniël is published, in which he describes his experiences and thoughts on the situation in Syria. With the help of much needed donations and NGOs such as Hand in Hand voor Syrië, Father Daniël and others have been working tirelessly with the Syrian people liberated from (formerly) terrorist-held areas.

Below, you can read his latest newsletter, as published on September 28th, 2018, and as translated by Sott.net:

Dear friends,

It seems unlikely that the planned military escalation by Western forces to protect the terrorists in Idlib and to risk a last chance to subvert Syria, will continue. The Abou al-Dohour safe zone basically ensures that citizens can escape the terrorist-controlled Idlib. This was largely guaranteed by the agreement between Russia and Turkey. And Putin seems determined to impose a no-fly zone over all of Syria! Well done. Meanwhile, the Syrians continue to work very diligently on the restoration of their country and society. After the fantastic course of the 60th annual fair last Friday, a ‘marathon of peace’ was organized to support those who work for the end of the war and the restoration of peace. This marathon was held in Hama, Homs, Lattakia, Tartous and Sweida.

At the same time, a limited bicycle race was organized in Damascus for 200 cyclists from the Ommayade mosque through the city.

In Qara there was one crossroad that was full of rubble for years. It was the place where the hardest fighting took place in 2013. Well, the debris is finally cleared up. And between the monastery and the Ante-Lebanon Mountains people have been working hard lately. The so-called Qara 4 gas source is now operational. It delivers 120,000 cubic meters of gas and 100 condensed barrels every day. We pray and hope that there will be a definitive end to this war and the Syrian people can fully develop their identity.

Father Daniël then goes on to sharing news about the community, his reflection on the root causes of the refugee problem, and a warning with regard to the “official fake news”:

Preparation

We want to have a quiet retreat in the community and some preparation has been made for this. On Monday, we visited Sadad and the Syrian Orthodox community with some sisters and a guest, with whom we now maintain a close contact. We visited the “martyress” of the village again, the old woman, who was all alone, was left behind by terrorists to die but recovered. She received a shed that is now being converted into a two-room house, which she proudly showed us.

We prayed together in the church and visited a number of villagers. The pastor abou Michaiel and the Christians count on us that we also continue to help them financially. It is mainly about the purchase of material for the reconstruction, they will do the work themselves. Tuesday and Wednesday were still preparation days to start with a real quiet retreat for the whole community on Thursday. Hopefully more about that next time. So, you won’t be getting a message about the war around us this time, we are committing to the struggle in ourselves right now.

Ministerial visit

This week we were again visited by the Minister of Supply together with his wife. They were with us before. He practically has the function of the patriarch Joseph in Egypt during the famine. He asked mother Agnes-Mariam to help find the means to offer more people work in agriculture so that they can provide themselves with their own food. In Aleppo we have been able to help 5,000 families. He also asked in India (mother Agnes-Mariam will briefly give a retreat in India) to find out whether material and prostheses can be shipped from there for disabled people.

From our monastery MSJM (Saint Jacques le Mutilé) about 1,000 people are now employed as paid workers in relief efforts throughout Syria. In the beginning we received a lot of opposition and suspicion. Meanwhile, there is a strong and good spirit with five responsible people, with mother Agnes-Mariam assuming the final responsibility. Now, big organizations are coming to us to work with us. However, the first and foremost impulse always starts with simple, sincere people who give their contribution with generosity. That is why we would like to express our sincere thanks to all our benefactors.

Our wars, our refugees

The continuing flow of refugees from the Middle East and Africa to Europe is a humanitarian drama for these people themselves and is also a threat to the countries in which they seek refuge. In this regard, two attitudes are mainly present. Some respond from a humanitarian point of view and want these people who are in need to be helped and taken care of. The others want to defend the identity of their country to for example prevent a Christian country from being flooded with Muslims who do not want to adapt and who create their own areas where the authentic population can not even visit.

However, what is missing too often is the question about the actual cause and background of the problem. When you return home and you see that the water is flowing out the front door, do you first look for buckets and mops to remove the water from your house? No. You first search for the cause of this flooding. And then you see, for example, that you have left the faucet of the sink open while the stopper was in. So the very first thing you do is close the tap.

There can be many causes that trigger a flow of refugees, but almost always they involve rich Western countries who want to master the resources of other countries. Under the pretext of “freedom and democracy” these countries are being disrupted, a change of government is being worked on, and puppets are being appointed to ensure the interests of the West. 

The most flagrant case is Syria where a war was orchestrated by “proxy groups” by Western powers and the Petro monarchies of the Gulf States. Before the war, Syria was a country that could support itself in terms of food and industrialization with a well-developed population that enjoyed a modern health system. The “strategy of the chaos” imported hoards of mercenaries of which the Syrian government can hardly get rid of after 8 years of war (2011-2018). The imperialist intervention, meant to fight this state that refused to obey, has driven 5 million people from their homes” . (Bruno Guigue, 23 september 2018: Link)

The US and the Western powers proclaim that they no longer have colonial policies, that they only want to ensure freedom and democracy, defend human rights and, finally, defend their own national security and interests. Those who claim their sovereignty must also recognize the sovereignty and interests of other countries. And that is precisely not the case. The military intervention by Western countries is not the solution, but the problem itself. It is the French troops in Mali, Niger (rich in uranium), Chad, Central African Republic that ensure that the countries remain dependent and poor.

It is NATO that destroyed Libya with active participation from Belgium and France. After the Belgian “aid” to Libya, there was hardly a bomb left in Belgium. No “mea culpa” came from any country for this total devastation (Jean-François Kahn, L’intervention and Libye, la pire erreur de ce début de siecle, Le Soir, 25/9/18; about this well-known French journalist see: Link). The invasions of Somalia (1992), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003) destroyed these countries. The aggression of Saudi Arabia with active support from the West against Yemen has killed 10,000 people since March 2005, causing a deadly cholera epidemic and famine for 8 million people.

Certainly, there are several causes of the refugee flow. However, the most important remains the neo-colonial domination of Western powers who shamelessly and with military force appropriate the richness of other countries. Subsequently, there is often a corrupt elite of the country itself who have allowed themselves to be bribed to betray their own people. Finally, there are Mafia bosses who set up an extremely lucrative business to get the refugees across. Let’s stop whining about the shortage of mops, pullers, buckets, and turn off the tap. These are our wars and our aggression against other countries that are making people flee. If we want to assert our sovereignty, we must also respect the sovereignty of other countries and their interests.

Ready for the battle for your mind!

The spreading of false, incorrect or misleading information, ‘fake news’, is a problem. The European Union is working diligently on a strategy to combat this ailment. The East StratCom Task Force was already set up for this purpose in 2015. Certain guidelines have been developed and at the end of this year we can expect more concrete actions.

However, there’s a catch. Let’s make it clear immediately. We are getting more and more into a situation where fake news is imposed with great enthusiasm by government leaders, politicians, official statements, authoritative media and acclaimed journalists, who conceal reality, while the channels of honest researchers who bring the truth, are closed expertly. The justification is then: We must defend European values. That free speech and the obligation to tell the truth are also values, is then forgotten. Or real news and truthful reporting are condemned as being a “conspiracy theory”. Or, as we now experience with the announcement of the criminal behavior of the Dutch government, which smoothly helps with the slaughter of innocent Syrian people, says that it should not come to light because it is a “state secret”.

The example we know best is of course Syria. A very harmonious, prosperous and particularly safe (albeit imperfect) society with a President who is supported by broad sections of the population is suddenly presented as a terrible dictatorship with a gruesome dictator. The CIA provided an abundance of false photos, films, reports, books, testimonies of inhuman torture (the American prisons remain an inexhaustible source for this) that were spread throughout the West. And everyone (including our “conflict journalist”!) “knew”, almost one day after another, how that terrible Syrian president strangled people all day, tortured them to death and carried out chemical attacks.

Something like that makes the blood of every right-minded person boil and that makes a heavy-handed military intervention more than justified. When someone dared to say that there was no “popular uprising” in Syria and certainly no “civil war”, that Syria had not committed any chemical attacks at all, he was dismissed as unreliable, fake news. And so the US, Israel, NATO and allies could continue to send their most fanatical terrorists to destroy the country and take away oil, gas and sovereignty. In our own Flemish press I never read one balanced article about the situation in Syria.

In the end it is about the loss of credible journalism. For England, this is now greatly described by David Edwards and David Cromwell, Propaganda Blitz. How the Corporate Media Distort Reality, Pluto Press, 2018, foreword by John Pilger. They show how the liberal media give half-truths and whole lies or sometimes represent reality in reverse, in the service of large interest groups. And the writers of this work are not even journalists but a former professor and an oceanographer. It will become increasingly difficult to discover reality, but it is not impossible. The Australian journalist and founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is now imprisoned at the Embassy of Venezuela in London but in reality deserves a monument to what he has made public. There are undoubtedly many more people than we suspect, who are aware of the prevalent lies.

Anyone who has any insight into the ever-recurring anti-Russia, anti-Iran, anti-China, anti-Brexit… hysteria on the one hand and on the other Western unlimited war propaganda, justified by the most unlikely pretext to dominate the rest of the world, will soon find more reliable sources. It is also necessary. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities of this dark world …” (Ephesians 6, 12). And by our attitude, we are always either on the side of the murderers or on the side of the innocent victims. We are called to be people of peace and not silly servants of hatred and war, which we conveniently want to package in a message of peace.

DAMASCUS TRADE FAIR AND FESTIVAL OF THE CROSS MARK THE RETURN OF PEACE TO MUCH OF SYRIA

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A Maaloula fire spinner during the annual September Festival of the Holy Cross in Maaloula, Syria. Eva Bartlett | In Gaza

Eva Bartlett attends the Damascus International Trade fair and the annual Maaloula Festival of the Cross to see how Syrians in areas liberated from jihadi rule are defiantly celebrating their new found freedoms.

September 24, 2018, Mint Press News

DAMASCUS and MAALOULA, SYRIA — (Report) In April 2018 I returned to Syria, visiting recently-liberated areas in eastern Ghouta and also travelling to the southern village of Hadar — which at the time was under continual bombardment by terrorists just to the south, with the assistance of Israel and its observation towers over the region.

My focus last April and May was highlighting this media-neglected issue, but also going to the site of the concocted and yet-unproven allegations of a chemical weapons attack. Indeed, as I wrote, no one at the hospital in question, nor the people of Douma I spoke with on the street, believed a chemical attack had occurred. Instead, they were more concerned with detailing the horrors and starvation they had lived under the rule of Jaysh al-Islam and other terrorist factions.

So, the focus of my last visit to Syria, which has been warred upon for the last seven years, was in highlighting the crimes of the terrorist factions against civilians, but also the crimes of the Western and regional nations promoting war propaganda and baseless accusations against Syria and its allies.

In early September, I returned to Syria for more uplifting reasons: to attend two important annual events that in recent years were interrupted due to terrorism: The annual Damascus International Trade Fair and Maaloula’s annual Holy Cross Festival. 

A Crowded, Peaceful Damascus International Trade Fair and Revival

This year, both went on in a cheerful climate, and the only blasts were celebratory ones. The resumption and successful holding of these events is a clear indication that Syria is returning to peace, and is closer than ever to ending the war that the NATO-Gulf-Israeli alliance plotted years before 2011.

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At the Damascus International Trade Fair Ground, Opening Night. Eva Bartlett | In Gaza

In 2017 the trade fair, in its first year resumed since 2012, was attacked by terrorists who were then occupying eastern Ghouta. Six people were killed. On September 6, the opening night of the 2018 fair, I encountered Fares Shehabi, a Syrian MP who elaborated on the murders:

“Those in eastern Ghouta, the so-called ‘rebels’, al-Qaeda gangs, they targeted the entry of this fair and killed some people — visitors and participants. One lady from old Damascus was killed. She was participating in this fair — she had a clothing garment factory — and she was killed at the door.”

Watch | Aleppo MP Fares Shehabi on the re-opening of the Damascus International Fair

This year, with Damascus’ Yarmouk district (formerly occupied by ISIS and al-Qaeda) liberated, and with the liberation of eastern Ghouta — the source of most of the missiles and mortars that killed over 10,000 civilians in Damascus alone — there was no concern that the deadly attack of 2017 would be repeated.

The official opening ceremony included a year-by-year overview of the six decades of fairs past — minus the years 2012-16 — and various stunning musical and dance performances.

I revisited the fairgrounds just south of Damascus after the opening events and while walking around I saw the diversity that is Syrian culture, including young women dressed how they chose — something unthinkable under the rule of the fanatical extremists who occupied the now-liberated areas. In fact, under their rule, women wouldn’t be out strolling period, much less doing so with male friends.

The atmosphere was in that regard less that of a trade fair and more of a public park with people sprawled on lawns, picnicking and children playing. Elsewhere, music blasted from fair booths and from stages set up to entertain the crowds, including a children’s concert where a young boy impressively crooned a song by legendary Syrian singer George Wassouf.

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A crowd watches a children’s singing competition at the Damascus International Trade Fair. Eva Bartlett | In Gaza

A novelty at this year’s fair was the Sahab 73 two-seater plane, designed and built by Syrian engineers — the “first nationally-made aircraft,” as SANA reported.

Fares al-Kartally, the fair’s General Director, told me that of the 48 countries participating, 27 of them were officially participating through their embassies and 21 through companies and agents. The latter included companies from France, Britain, Spain, and some Arab countries, including Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

In fact, 1,722 companies participated in the trade fair, the main participants being Russian, Indian and Iranian. That said, walking around the exhibits, I also saw South Korean, Cuban, and countries neighbouring Syria participating, offering services and goods from textiles, medicines, cosmetics, and food products to products and skills for Syria’s much-needed reconstruction. Of that reconstruction phase, al-Kartally noted it is Syria that will decide who will participate in its reconstruction.

A representative of a Russian company specializing in metal and steel production for warehouses and agricultural use told me:

“It’s just this year that you will be able to foresee the next steps for Syria. Last year, it was very hard to tell when this will be over. This year, we thought it was the right time to participate. We believe this is the right time to come and help the government of Syria, through Russian cooperation, to rebuild Syria, the infrastructure and food security.”

Corporate media has spun this as being a bidding ground for exclusively Russian and Iranian companies. But in reality, while Russia and Iran definitely have a strong presence here, many other nations are present.

In any case, Russia and Iran have not imposed criminal sanctions on Syria, nor have they supported terrorists there. To the contrary, they have been a vital part of the defeat of terrorism in Syria, and a return to peace and stability in liberated areas, providing the peace that allowed the fair to take place.

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Flags of countries participating in the Damascus International Trade Fair fly outside of the fairgrounds in Damascus, Syria. Eva Bartlett | In Gaza

In our conversation on the opening night, Fares Shehabi said:

We expect high participation from many countries and local firms. It’s about a political statement, an economic statement, that we won this war and we will win also the reconstruction war, and this is just one proof of it.”

Notably absent were companies from Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

As al-Kartally reflected:

In 2007, I took a course in strategic planning in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The instructor was American. He was talking about countries witnessing rapid economic growth, so I mentioned Syria. He looked at me and laughed, and said, ‘These countries will create problems for you,’ referring to Saudi Arabia and its allies.”

And indeed, they did.

However — after seven years of war, untold tragic loss of life, and immense destruction in areas occupied or targeted by terrorists — the tide is turning for Syria. Rebuilding will be a challenging process, to put it mildly, but more importantly, in my experience, most Syrians first and foremost want an end to terrorism. That wish has been widely granted — thanks to the Syrian army, government, and Syria’s political and military allies.

Yet Idlib remains occupied by al-Qaeda and other fanatics. And eastern Syria remains occupied by the U.S., its allied forces and other fanatics — including ISIS — who seem to flourish wherever an American presence has a hand.

According to al-Kartally, the 2017 trade fair saw over 2.2 million visitors attend over the course of 10 days:

Last year’s Fair was the first held in many years during the crisis and for people it was a chance to get out and breathe after feeling suffocated for so long.”

On September 7, its first day open to the public, this year’s fair saw 112,000 visitors. On the fifth day, nearly 220,000 visitors attended. By September 14, the eighth day of the fair, a reported half million visitors went to the fairgrounds.

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Fair-goers walk through the fairgrounds at the Damascus International Trade Fair in Damascus , Syria. Eva Bartlett | In Gaza

One night at around 8 p.m., I walked out of the fairgrounds to hail down a taxi on the airport road. I walked past a parking lot filled with buses providing free transportation to and from the fair. Adding to the masses already at the fair, people streamed in to spend their night out with family or friends.

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On September 15, the fair’s final day, Israel again illegally targeted Syria, firing missiles — which were intercepted by Syrian air defenses — towards the Damascus International Airport, not far from the fairgrounds.

The response of the fairgoers was to dance defiantly.

As Fares Shehabi wrote, “This is how Syrians attending Damascus International Fair reacted to the Israeli assault on the adjacent airport..! Defiance..! With people like that we cannot be defeated.”

As Syrian comedian Treka reported, the fair captures the sentiments many visitors were feeling: impressed that, so soon after the liberation of eastern Ghouta and Damascus, there had been so much change for the better in and around Damascus; encouraged that the war on Syria is drawing to an end and peace will prevail; and immense admiration for the Syrian people for remaining steadfast for their country, and with their army — which has, with Syria’s allies, nearly eradicated terrorism in Syria.

Life, Love, Peace: The Maaloula Festival of the Cross

From September 2013 to April 2014, the ancient mountainside village of Maaloula, which lies in the Damascus countryside, was subject to terror attacks, snipers, and occupation by armed groups that Western leadership and some members of the media wanted us to believe were bringing democracy and freedom to Syria. These groups systematically destroyed the town’s heritage, stealing or burning ancient relics and breaking ancient altars and tombs in their plundering for valuables.

In June 2014, two months after it was liberated, I visited Maaloula. The destruction was fresh — historic holy places burned, looted, destroyed.

As I wrote then:

There was the expected destruction from battles waged by and on the terrorists. There was further—clearly-intentional—destruction meted out systematically by the al-Qaeda death squads—particularly on Christian, cultural, and heritage sites. …

In Maaloula, terrorists likewise took great apparent pleasure in destroying and desecrating Christian relics, to the extent of gouging out the eyes from icons and mosaics and shooting down the large clifftop Jesus and Mary statues which had overlooked the village. They likewise burned, robbed and vandalized churches and homes. …

Outside of the early fourth century A.D. Monastery of Sts. Sergius et Bacchus, NDF volunteers and other locals swept rubble, and prepared for the long process of restoration. Inside the ancient church, light poured through mortar holes in the unadorned white dome smashed by terrorist-fired mortars. According to the General, when the SAA had pushed the invaders back beyond the monastery, the terrorists fired mortars towards the monastery and village. They later occupied the monastery, then looted and vandalized it. …

‘They stole many idols from here, including the oldest one in the church,’ the volunteer said. The smashed altar with its unique ridged rim is said to be from between 330 and 325 A.D. ‘In other churches, the altar is rectangular and flat. And only here the altar is a half-circle and rimmed, like the altars of pagans for their animal sacrifice,’ she explained. …

The arson at the tenth-century Convent of St. Thekla was visible from the street, the top two floors utterly blackened by fires set by the invaders. …

In the convent’s Church of St. John the Baptist they likewise set fires, black soot reaching the painted dome high above. They completely destroyed the altar, as well as the pews—which presumably fueled the fire. Throughout the halls of the convent and inside the church itself, NATO’s mercenaries tore, stabbed, burned, or stole Christian iconography, looting what they could, meticulously destroying what was unmovable. Since none of that was possible for the images painted directly on stone walls, they instead machine-gunned the eyes and faces of Mary and Jesus, as well as a stone cross.”

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A Maaloula local defence soldier traces the 2013/14 battles on a map of the town. Eva Bartlett | In Gaza

When I revisited in the summer of 2016, much had changed. The area was cleaned and stores had reopened. In September of 2013, I wrote about the point-blank assassinations of unarmed Maaloula citizens and of the defenders of Maaloula — locals who left their trades to take up arms in defense of their historic town and people. Not long after, invading terrorists, under the guise of anti-government rebels, assassinated an elderly man who had refused to leave his town.

wrote at the time:

On a street below, near the main square, a man and some children collected water from a spring. It was at that spring on September 17, 2013, that 65-year-old farmer Zaki Tabib was shot in his head by a terrorist sniper. Tabib was one of about fifteen mostly-elderly villagers who had refused to evacuate a week earlier.

Abdo Haddad, also one of Tabib’s nephews, commented on the stoicness of his uncle and men like him: ‘These old men are so pure in their heart that they don’t believe someone in their village would kill them.’”

Left bleeding on the street, Tabib was dead by the time his two courageous nephews braved a torrent of sniper fire to retrieve his body, in order to give him a proper burial.

On that 2016 visit, I also wrote about the destruction that still plagued the town:

Piles of rubble lay at many corners, and gaping holes in some walls remained evidence of the near total damage to the old part of the village. Although official estimates were that 80 percent of the homes were damaged, Abdo Haddad pointed out that “damage” in most cases means missing entire walls, and that in fact every house in the old quarter suffered damage, from mild to entire.

Many homes were boobytrapped by terrorists, to further kill and destroy. ‘They rigged houses so that when someone opened the door, an electrical trigger with a small charge would detonate and explode a gas canister,’ Haddad explained, saying that they could not count the number of rigged houses, maybe tens, maybe more: ‘The whole village was on fire. For the safety of the soldiers, in many cases the army had to blow the booby trap instead of defusing it.”

The church walls and dome roof of St. Thekla convent remained blackened with soot from the fires terrorists lit within. Local stonemasons stood on scaffolding, patiently rebuilding the thick walls in the traditional manner. Up the long staircase above the convent, the tomb in the cliffside grotto remained sooty black but was tidied up, with a few of the icons returned until complete restoration is possible. Other icons will never be returned — destroyed or stolen by the terrorist bandits, which occupied the convent.”

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Mikhael Taalab, Anton Taalab, and Serkis Zakhen, assassinated by terrorists on September 7, 2013. Eva Bartlett | In Gaza

Upon my return to Maaloula on September 13, 2018, I stood on Abdo Haddad’s balcony looking out upon one of the town’s historic mountains. It was from these mountaintops that terrorists rolled explosive-stuffed tires onto the simple homes below. It was from these mountaintops that terrorist snipers killed Zaki Tabib.

On September 13, those mountaintops were adorned with the traditional brightly-lit crosses of the Festival of the Cross.

I attended mass in Maaloula’s Catholic church. The rituals of countless years continue, as do the devotion of Maaloula’s residents, with both clergy and congregation singing the mournful lyrics sung for centuries. This is the culture that Western-backed fanatics attempted to destroy.

Watch | Mass during Maaloula’s Festival of the Cross

From devotion to celebration

Immediately following the mass, the congregation quickly exited into the church square. By the time I arrived at the door, the exit was nearly impassable as so many people had amassed in the square. Pushing through, I saw the cause of the crowd: raised on the shoulders of residents, two men sang songs traditional to the Festival of the Cross, swigging frequently from plastic bottles of Arak in their hands. The crowd periodically cheered at their words, and eventually moved — cheering, singing — to the main square.

By the time I made it to the main square, it was likewise completely full of celebrants, many swigging Arak, cheering, singing traditional songs, and praising their army and president. Mini-Syrian flags abounded, as did people on balconies to watch the festive chaos. This went on for over an hour before crowds started moving up the mountains. Later, down in the town square, they were dancing.

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Crowds gather to in Maaloula Syria’s town square to celebrating the Festival of the Holy Cross. Eva Bartlett | In Gaza

When I later made this arduous hike up often-challenging mountainside, it was nearing sunset. Strong, young Maaloula men were stationed at more difficult points of the mountain trail, pulling people up when necessary.

One such young man joined me to help me navigate the path, sometimes leading me down steep inclines on shortcuts to the top.

Reaching the top in darkness, the glare of multiple crosses and the blazing bonfire was enough illumination to see masses of people, mostly young but also elderly and families, standing and sitting perilously close to the mountain edge, overlooking the glowing village below.

Periodically, a burst of whirling light burst out, as people in the town square far below spun fire. Throughout the night, crowds sat drumming, singing, and watching the bonfire.

Watch | Devotees attend Maaloula’s Festival of the Holy Cross

I asked Abdo Haddad to summarize the importance of the Festival of the Cross. He said (video):

“Tonight we are celebrating the finding of the cross that happened 1700 years ago. This celebration is represented by putting fire on top of the mountains, from Jerusalem to Constantinople, to tell the people in Constantinople that the cross was found.

Maaloula is the only place in the world that is still celebrating this custom.

The only time that this custom stopped is when the so-called rebels and other “revolution” people in Syria invaded Maaloula, and instead of putting fire on top of the mountain, they put our houses on fire. But since we are sons and daughters of life, we kept on celebrating it since Maaloula was liberated by the Syrian army in 2014.

So we celebrate life now, and we celebrate the cross.

We were born here 3,000 years ago and we’ll keep existing until the end of time.”

In 2016, Syria’s First Lady, Mrs. Asma al-Assad, was interviewed by Russia 24. During that interview, she spoke of the struggles Syria has faced during its ancient existence. Particularly poignant, and fitting to end with, were these words:

“Syria comprises of land that has been continuously inhabited for a very long time. Over thousands of years, this soil has been exposed to dozens of wars and invasions. Some areas were completely destroyed. I know that Syria can and will rebuild itself. … As Syrians, we’ve always prevailed and this period in our history is no different. It is known or often said that Syria means ‘rising sun.’ And Syrians will rise again, that I can assure you.”

BRILLIANT 53RD BIRTHDAY WISHES TO SYRIAN PRESIDENT DR. BASHAR AL-ASSAD, LION OF DAMASCUS AND STEADFAST PATRON OF MOUQAWAMAH

by Jonathan Azaziah

When the American regime demanded regional subservience after launching the illegal invasion of Iraq, he said we’ll keep our independence… Thanks but no thanks… And blasted the “WMD” lies too.

When the secular nationalists thought they could exploit his political inexperience and told him to clamp down on religion across the state, he went the alternative route as he saw true faith as an ideological bulwark against Western-Zionist cultural imperialism. He worked with the Patriarchs to protect Christianity and also cooperated closely with Sheikh Muhammad Said Ramadan al-Bouti (R.A.) to spread true and pure Islam among the youth whilst rebuking Wahhabi-Takfiri thought. Furthermore, he stressed the importance of Islamic-Christian unity.

When the ‘Israelis’ rampaged through the ’48 Lands, the West Bank, Al-Quds and Gaza during the Second Intifada, he called on all Arabs to scream out for Palestine and doubled down on his military support for the Palestinian Resistance.

When Lebanon came under attack by the Zionist entity in the summer of 2006, he spared no expense in providing the Lebanese Islamic Resistance of Hizbullah with anything and everything it needed to withstand and ultimately defeat the aggressors.

Then, disgusted with the response from Saudi Arabia and its GCC partners to what had befallen the Lebanese people at the hands of the Zio-Tumor, he labeled them “half-men”.

When the French colonialist ZOG led by the Zionist Jew Sarkozy came to him with an offer of full Western-NATO support pending his government drop support for Iran, Hizbullah and the Palestinian caused, he declined and tossed the frog out of his country.

When the illegitimate “Tel Aviv” regime approached him through back channels to sell his nation down the tubes and “negotiate” over the occupied Golan Heights, he upheld 10,000 years of civilization in Bilad al-Sham and delivered a message of rejection.

When the Zio-Imperialists came for Venezuela, he was at the side of El Comandante Hugo Chavez. When the Zio-Imperialists came for Libya, he didn’t let Muammar Qadhafi face the assault alone.

And when the International Jewish Imperium, with the full force of ‘Israel’, NATO and the GCC backing up the plan, brought hundreds of thousands of terrorists from all over the world to his country, giving them hundreds of billions of dollars in heavy arms and cash, training them, guiding them, providing them medical treatment and laying out their directives of regime change, destabilization and mass murder, he didn’t bow. He stood tall. Mobilized his citizenry and his armed forces. Called in his allies from Lebanon, Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation. Mounted a counter-offensive. Resisted. Now he stands on the verge of total victory over the most vicious compilation of mercenaries in the history of 4th/5th Generation Warfare.

He could’ve lived a quiet life as an ophthalmologist at the Western Eye Hospital in London, where he was trained in the field. Instead he returned to his homeland to lead and be whatever his family and his people needed him to be so he could move the nation into the future.

That–ALL of that–is why we support Syrian President Dr. Bashar al-Assad; why we love and respect him; why we respect and salute him; and why we wish him the happiest of happy birthdays on his 53rd year on this planet. Not just a President but a leader  and a man of the people in every sense. Not just a revolutionary but a Mouqawamist with a damn high station. Not just a legend to be appreciated, cherished and safeguarded by Syrians but all Arabs, all Muslims, all Christians and all free-thinking people no matter where they come from. The most brilliant born-day wishes to you on the anniversary of your birth o’ Lion of Dimashq! O’ Patron of Mouqawamah! O’ Syrian hero! May you have 53 more and may they all be as victorious as this one!

ادلب رهينة أميريكية في الخطة (ج) .. لكنها جسر روسيا الى نطاقها النظيف .. بقلم نارام سرجون

( الخميس 2018/09/13 SyriaNow)

الحكايات التي تبحث شخصياتها عن كنز أو سر أو خريطة أو حب تخبئه لنا حتى النهايات والأسطر الأخيرة وربما الأحرف الأخيرة تبقى الحكايات الأثيرة لدينا .. تأسرنا منذ الكلمات الاولى ونبقى معلقين بأحداثها بالسلاسل المقفلة بالاقفال حتى الصباح .. ونظل نمشي مع الأحداث شئنا ام ابينا الى أن تفتح الأقفال ونفك الأسرار ..

والحكاية الروسية في سورية هي من ذلك النوع من الحكايات التي تشد السامع لأن اللغز الذي يحيره هو ذلك السر الذي يجعل دولة تقاتل في معركة أخرى لبلد آخر وكأنها تخوض معركتها الوطنية أو كأن روحها معلقة بها .. وفي حالة روسيا وسورية يظن الناظر الى المشهد السياسي ان روسيا تقاتل بضراوة كما لو أنها تستعيد لحظات معركة ستالينغراد بكل ضراوة في ادلب ..

وقد كثيرا ماسمعنا عن مبررات قرار روسيا بأنها اضطرت للخروج من سيبيرية للقتال في سورية قبل ان تضطر لقتال الارهابيين داخل حدودها .. وهي في حالة الضربة الاستباقية قبل ان تعاجلها الخطة الغربية باطلاق الوحوش الاسلامية داخل روسيا بعد ان تزنرها بحزام عملاق من الدول الاسلامية الفاشلة التي تصبح مصانع وقواعد واسعة لاطلاق موجات من الارهابيين نحو روسيا ..

وسمعنا كذلك عن ان روسيا في مبررات أخرى تعتبر سورية منطقة نفوذ تاريخية وحيوية وحصرية لها لن تسمح لأحد بالاستيلاء عليها .. وأنها تحمي خطوط غازها عبر الامساك بالعقدة السورية لنقل أنابيب النفط من الخليج الى اوروبة .. وسمعنا الكثير من التفسيرات التي حاولت ان تقارب الحالة التي تجعل روسيا تقاتل كما تقاتل الأم دفاعا عن ابنتها وحلت محل فرنسا في الشرق التي كانت تعتبر نفسها الأم الحنون للمسيحيين الشرقيين .. فاذا بالام الحنون الفرنسية تترك الشرق ومسيحييه نهبا للاسلاميين والاسرائيليين والاميريكيين ينكلون بهم بالمسلمين .. واذا بروسيا تندفع للدفاع عن الشرق كله بمسيحييه ومسلميه ..

الحقيقة ان كل التفسيرات قابلة للحياة وللبقاء والقبول .. ولكن السلوك الروسي يدل على ان القضية أبعد كثيرا من أهداف آنية وقصيرة المدى ومناطق نفوذ .. ولا نجانب الصواب ان قلنا ان المعركة الحالية في سورية هي الفصل التالي للحرب الباردة بين السوفييت والغرب بعد أن استفاق الروس على حقيقة انهم خسروا معركة الحرب الباردة .. ولذلك فانهم اندفعوا نحو الهجوم المعاكس في رد على أول مواجهة مع الأميريكيين في سورية .. ورغم ان الرئيس فلاديمير بوتين يقول في خطابه للشعب الروسي انه لم يأخذهم في مغامرة من مغامرات الشيوعيين القدامى بل كان عليه ان يقاتل على اسوار دمشق كيلا يضطر الشعب الروسي للقتال على تخوم موسكو لأن دمشق هي خط دفاعه الحيوي والأخير ..

الا ان معركة فلاديمير بوتين في معركة سورية كان قرارا في غاية الخطورة لأنه وضعه وجها لوجه مع أشرس عتاة الشر في العالم وفلاسفة الحروب من الغربيين ومن حلفائهم العرب الذين جندوا العالم الاسلامي وساقوه كالقطيع في مواجهة روسيا بكل مشاعره وطاقاته الارهابية وانضم الى الحفلة الماسونية العالمية اتحاد علماء المسلمين والحرم المكي والأزهر والاخوان المسلمون وورثة العثمانيين وكل ممثلي الحقب الاسلامية مجتمعين .. حتى ان الحج في احدى السنوات خصص الدعاء فيه على جبل عرفات يوم العيد لاهلاك روسيا التي “تقتل المسلمين في سورية”.. ومع ذلك فان بوتين لم يتزحزح قيد شعرة عن تحالفه المتين مع السوريين .. وثبت أكثر حتى عندما صارت طائراته المدنية العسكرية تستهدف في تهديد صريح له من انه سيدفع الثمن غاليا .. وهذا كله لايفسره منطق المصالح الروسية وحده لان المساومات والعروض التي وضعت على طاولة بوتين تكاد لاتصدق ويسيل لها لعاب اي رجل يبحث عن المصالح والصفقات الكبرى ..

بوتين طبعا ليس تحت تأثير لوبي سوري يعاكس اللوبي الصهيوني في أميريكا .. لكن بوتين كان يتحدث أحيانا بانفعال وغضب وهو يدافع عن الموقف السوري ضد املاءات الغرب مستندا في تبريراته الى انه يدافع عن الأخلاقيات والمبادئ البسيطة في السياسة من أن من حق الشعوب حصريا حق تقرير مصيرها وشكل حكمها وليس للأمم المتحدة ولا للولايات المتحدة أي دور في ذلك ولايجوز ان يكون لها دور .. وهو في الحقيقة استند الى موقف أخلاقي صلب جدا في هذا .. ولكن اللوبي الذي يحرك بوتين ليس سوريا طبعا وهو أكثر صلابة من أخلاقيات الموقف الظاهر .. فالرئيس الروسي يرى في معركة سورية من وجهة نظر قائد يستأنف معركة قديمة مع أميريكا العدو الأزلي الذي لن يهدأ حتى تموت روسيا .. وهي ليست معركة ثأر بل هجوما معاكسا تشنه روسيا بكل معنى الكلمة .. يهدف الى تحييد قوة اميريكا كثيرا في المحيط الروسي .. أي تنظيف النطاق المحيط بالأمن الروسي لأن أميريكا لن تخرج من محيط روسيا الا بتحييدها في الشرق الاوسط أولا كي تتوقف عن حصار روسيا .. لأن الشرق الأوسط هو نقطة ارتكاز أميريكا الأقوى التي تستند اليها كل نقاط ارتكازها حول فضاء روسيا .. ولذلك لاشيء يعادل الهجوم المضاد في أقوى نقطة ارتكاز أميريكية .. وهذه المعركة بدأت في سورية ولن تتوقف .. وادلب هي معركة صغيرة تلت معارك في الحرب الكبرى التي وضعتها روسيا في مشروعها الكبير الذي التقى مع المشروع السوري الايراني الكبير في بناء جدار مقاوم ..

اليوم وبعد ان عشنا هذا التجاذب الغربي في معركة سورية ومعركة شد الحبل في آخر متر في ادلب بين الغرب وبين الروس صارت الأمور تتبلور أكثر .. وهي ان روسيا تخوض في سورية واحدة من أهم معاركها التاريخية بعد معارك الحرب العالمية الثانية حتى آخر متر وهي معركة تحجيم قوة أميريكا كليا في الشرق الاوسط والمحيط الروسي متكئة في ذلك على تحالف ايران وسورية اللتين التقطتا اللحظة الروسية المناسبة في توقيت دقيق جدا ومهم جدا لهما وعملان مع روسيا بشكل يكمل كل منهما الآخر .. ولكن أمريكا تستميت في محاولة البقاء والتشبث بالشرق الأوسط الذي يتم دفعها خارجه بالتدريج .. ولذلك فانها كانت تعد نفسها للانتقال للخطة (ج) بعد انهيار الخطتين (أ) و (ب) .. لأن الخطة ( أ ) كانت تهدف الى اسقاط الدولة السورية عبر الربيع الاسلامي الاخواني وتحويلها الى دويلات ممزقة فاشلة تخضع لأمراء حرب تحركهم الدول المجاورة انتهت .. وهاهم كل أمراء الحرب يتجمعون في ادلب قبل طحنهم .. واما الخطة (ب) المتمثلة في عملية تقسيم سورية – وهو تقسيم أقل ايلاما يتمثل بسلخ بعض المناطق من جسد الدولة المركزية – عبر تقاسمها مع الروس الذين سيترك لهم مابقي من سورية وحكومتها التي وصلوا اليها عام 2015 بحكم الأمر الواقع وتثبيت نقاط التماس .. وهذه الخطة انتهت كليا من لحظة تحرير حلب وتآكل المناطق المنسلخة عن الدولة .. واليوم يلجأ الاميريكوين الى الخطة (ج) وهي التثبت في الشرق السوري وفي ادلب لأطول فترة ممكنة وانتظار أي تحول في معادلات المنطقة المتغيرة .. فقد تتغير موسكو أو طهران أو تتغير دمشق .. وعندها تتم العودة الى الخطة (ب) .. ومنها الى الخطة (أ).. لأن الهدف لايتغير بل تتغير و سائل الوصول اليه وطرق التنفيذ وآلياتها ..

ولذلك فان القبول بالمماطلة مع الغرب وتركيا في تحرير ادلب ريثما تهيأ ظروف تتغير فيها معادلات ومعطيات الصراع سيعني للسوريين وحلفائهم الروس والايرانيين ان كل ماانجز من تحرير في حلب والغوطة وتدمر والجنوب سيظل ناقصا وكأنه لم يتم كمن يبني جسرا من عدة كيلومترات ويبقى المتر الاخير فيه (ادلب) غير متصل بالضفة الاخرى .. فهو لايستطيع استعمال الجسر وكأن كل مابناء بلا فائدة .. فادلب ان بقيت من غير تحرير فانها ستكون نقطة باردة تنتظر معادلات جديدة وفرصة جديدة لابقاء كل السياسة السورية القادمة رهينة في ادلب .. بل وماهو أهم من ذلك ستتعثر عملية اخراج الاميريكيين من الشرق السوري ومن التنف لأن ادلب ستشكل مسمارا للوجود الاميريكي يثبته بابقائها نقطة ملتهبة ترد على اي تحرك او ضغط لاسترداد الشرق السوري سلما او حربا .. كما هو جيب داعش الباقي حول التنف والذي تم تحريكه نحو السويداء في توقيت ما حول معركة الجنوب ودرعا .. أي ان جيب ادلب الكبير سيتم تحريكه باستفزازات ورسائل ضاغطة وابتزازبة اذا ما تحركت سورية وحلفاؤها في اي اتجاه لا يريح اميريكا واسرائيل .. فهي بؤرة ابتزاز يصل تأثيرها الى كل قضايا الشرق .. في لبنان والعراق وفلسطين .. ستبقى كل سورية رهينة بسببها .. وستبقى الخطة (أ) أو الخطة (ب) قابلة للتنفيذ والحياة بسرعة في أي لحظة اختلال توازن سياسي تحت اي مستجدات .. ولكن اذا ما خرجت اميريكا من ادلب بخروج مسلحيها فانها لاتقدر الا على ان تتلو ذلك بخروج من الشرق السوري لأن قواتها هي التي ستتحول في الشرق الى رهائن .. وهذا يعني تدحرجها الى الخطة (د) التي تعني أن عليها أن تحمي مابقي لها في الشرق .. لأن ما سيتلو الخروج من سورية اخراجها نهائيا من العراق في المدى المنظور او المتوسط .. ومن ثم الخوف من الخروج مما بعد العراق !! .. وهو يتماشى مع الهدف البعيد لروسيا الناهضة من بين حطام الاتحاد السوفييتي ..

من هذا كله .. نجد انه لامناص لروسيا قبل سورية من خوض معركة ادلب من أجل تعبيد الطريق نحو الفضاء الروسي النظيف والذي قد يتعرقل ببقاء مشروعها رهينة في ادلب وشرق سورية .. والحفاظ على بقاء حيوية ومرونة الخطتين القديمتين أ – ب .. التي يمكن أن تنتقل اميريكا بينهما وفق الظروف المتاحة .. أما الخروج من الخطة (ج) .. فهو يعني التقهقر نحو الخطة د ..

ولذلك يجب الاستعداد لأي استماتة أميريكية لجعل التحرك نحو ادلب متعثرا ولكن في نفس الوقت يجب ألا نعطي تهديدات الغرب اي اعتبار هام يغير من عزمنا وتحركنا لأن الغرب يدرك ان معركة ادلب ليست معركة سورية فقط .. بل معركة في مشروع فضاء روسيا الحيوي .. الذي تبنيه روسيا للقرن القادم .. الذي سيعني لها الانطلاق نحو فضاء أوراسيا الذي من أجله تبني تحالفاتها مع الصين والهند وباكستان وايران وسورية والعراق .. وبمعنى أخر يقوم الروس بعملية كنس ناعمة وخشنة معا وتدريجية للنفوذ الاميريكي في الفضاء الروسي .. وقد لا يصدق البعض ان سورية -وبالتالي ادلب – هي في صلب هذا الفضاء لأن معركتها ستحدد عملية خروج ونزوح اميريكة كبرى من سورية ومن ثم العراق خلال السنوات القليلة القادمة .. مما يجعل المعركة في ادلب صعبة ديبلوماسيا وسياسيا رغم انها عملية سهلة عسكريا لانها تستعد بحشود سورية هائلة وكثافة وازدحام للسلاح الروسي لم يسبق لها مثيل .. ستجعل مسلحي اميريكا وتركيا في ادلب مثل جيش ابرهة الأشرم .. كعصف مأكول ..

أنني لا أبالغ ان قلت ان ما أعد للمسلحين في ادلب سيحولهم الى عصف مأكول .. وأتمنى أن تسمى هذه العملية عملية العصف المأكول .. ولن تفعل أميريكا شيئا سوى أنها ستدرس التكتيكات والسلاح والذخائر الروسية المستعملة لتدرسها في اكاديمياتها العسكرية .. ولمعرفة تأثيراتها على أجساد المسلحين وتحصيناتهم وحجم الخسائر التي ستسببها في الجسد الارهابي المسلح .. فهؤلاء المسلحون فئران التجارب الاميريكية .. فئران اسلامية للتجارب لكل مشاريع أميريكا .. والحكايات ستحكي عن الأسرار التي تحشد العالم على ارضنا وتتداول الأحداث .. وستؤرخ لكل شيء .. الا لفئران التجارب .. التي ستحترق وتموت أو ستغادر ادلب أفواجا الى جحورها في تركيا قبل أن تصبح .. العصف المأكول ..

The difference between how Christians are treated in Assad’s Syria compared to areas under US backed terrorist control

Treatment of Christians in Assad’s Syria vs in US-backed ‘Rebel’ Areas

We want to thank Janice Kortkamp who has traveled around Syria for several months during the past two years for this inspiring post. Her report paints a totally different picture from what the United States government and our mainstream media tells us about what is happening to Christians in Syria.

Janice began researching Syria and the war in 2012 and has put in well over 6,000 hours in research. She has made hundreds of contacts in Syria also ex-pat Syrians in several other countries. Also, she has made four trips in 2016-2017, each almost one month long that included: Traveled to Damascus (inc. Ma’aloula and Saidnaya), Homs (inc. Valley of the Christians and villages in the countryside near Masyaf), Lattakia (inc. Ugarit, Slonfeh, Kessab), Tartous (inc. Amrit, Arwad) Aleppo, Palmyra, and Deir Ezzor (inc. Al Mayadeen).

During her travels, she met with: Soldiers, doctors, lawyers, scientists, artists, musicians, community and government leaders, professors, teachers, students, displaced persons, religious leaders, businessmen, housewives, children – from all major religious groups. She met with refugees and immigrants from Syria in Germany, Lebanon, Kuwait and America; as well as internally displaced persons in Syria from Aleppo, Idlib, Deir Ezzor, Raqqa, Al Mayadeen and other areas of Syria.

Janice describes herself as “100% independent and self-funded thru my husband and some donations from friends and family.” [Ed.-TEC]


Christianity in Syria vs Christianity in “Rebel” Held Areas of Syria – Syria Resources Archive

On this Palm Sunday for western churches, allow me to compare and contrast Christianity in Syria vs Christianity in US-backed “rebel” held areas of Syria.

Some of these pics are from my own travels around Syria the past two years.

In government held areas of Syria (about 85% of the population is in these areas):

– The government of Syria is secular; its constitution protects all religions. The population of Syria is 90% Muslim. Sunnis are the majority, over 70%. The rest are various sects like Alawites, traditional Shiite, Druze, Ismailis, Sufis etc. Before the war, Christians made up about 10%. Now it’s possible half are gone. The president is mandated to be Muslim in the constitution and there are many who would like that changed, but that is a matter only for the Syrian people to decide.

– There are hundreds if not over a thousand churches in Syria. Eastern Orthodox and Catholic primarily but also all major Protestant denominations. Churches and mosques sit comfortably side by side.

– Easter is a national holiday in Syria. The government and businesses are closed.

– Many Muslims attend Easter services and celebrations with their Christian friends. Everywhere around government controlled Syria you will see Easter parades and events.

– The Syrian Arab Army is also secular. Muslims and Christians fight side by side against the US supported terrorist groups. Many thousands of Muslim soldiers, including some Hezbollah and Iranian fighters, have died protecting Christian areas and populations. Christians have died protecting their Muslim brothers.

– Christians are in every level of leadership and society in Syria. The current head of Parliament is Christian.

– The Christians of Syria, virtually all, stand with their president and army against the “rebel” terrorists who have targeted them for expulsion and often execution. I have met with many Christians there, leaders and just regular folks. They’ve all said the same. One young Christian lady asked me, on a Palm Sunday when I was there, “Why do Americans want us all dead?” The great majority of Muslims also stand with their president and army including the majority of Sunnis.

– President Assad recently spoke with a group of Christian youth. He said, “Christians are not guests or migrating birds. They are from the origins of the nation and without them, there is no Syria.” He and his wife visit Christian towns, villages, orphanages, churches etc often.

– Christian and Muslim leaders meet regularly together.

– In areas that have been liberated by the Syrian Army from US supported terrorist “rebels”, churches are being rebuilt and reopened.

In areas where US supported “rebels” are still in control:

– Christians have been executed, often by beheading, or driven out of their homes. “Rebels” have kidnapped, tortured, and killed priests and nuns. They’ve massacred whole Christian villages. Any Christians who’ve tried to stay in their homes under the terrorists’ rule are required to pay a special tax and are the victims of abuse and persecution.

– There is no religious tolerance in “rebel” held areas of Syria. No operating churches, in fact they are often burned and destroyed by the “rebels”.

Gathering of religious and government leaders
Meeting with Pastor Ibrahim in Aleppo, April 2017
President and Mrs. Assad visiting the orphanage in Ma’aloula, an ancient Christian village, on Easter before the war
Ma’aloula is rebuilding after being liberated from US backed “rebels” fighting alongside al Qaeda. The “rebels” killed many townspeople but most were able to escape. The “rebels” looted and burned the churches there.
Easter week in Ma’aloula in April of 2017 as the town was preparing for an Easter parade.
This wonderful man sang The Lord’s Prayer for us in Aramaic in Ma’aloula.
A man of Ma’aloula who joined the town’s militia to protect it.
Christian soldier in the Syrian Arab Army.
This mortar fell on a small Christian school. The “rebels” often fired mortars into civilian areas of Damascus. Each one is filled with shrapnel and kill many people.
An ancient Christian manuscript preserved in the Al Assad Library, Damascus
Orphanage in Damascus
This gate commemorates where the Apostle Paul was lowered over the Damascus wall.
An orphanage and elderly/special needs care facility in Damascus
Orphanage in Damascus
President and Mrs. Assad visited Saidnaya Convent recently.
President and Mrs. Assad in a church during the Christmas season about 2 years ago.
Syrian soldiers
During the renovation of a church in Old Homs, May 2016
Inside a church in Old Homs
Father Frans van der Lugt was murdered by al Qaeda “rebels” in Old Homs shortly before the city was liberated by the Syrian Army.
In Ma’aloula in May 2016 surveying damage done by “rebels” to a church there.

Source: Whtt

Russia and Iran Prepare To Retaliate for the Attack on Syria (TruNews Radio)

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