When Sayyed Nasrallah Deeply Impacts The “Israeli” Consciousness

Yasser Rahal

“The warrior should be wakeful because if he sleeps the enemy does not sleep.” This is advice from Imam Ali (PBUH) gave. Hezbollah’s secretary general memorized it well. He uses it to advise others and repeats it during every Zionist threat to Lebanon.

The “Israeli” media knows exactly what these words mean. It knows that Sayyed is a meticulous follower of the Zionist entity’s news. From time to time, it acknowledges Sayyed’s superiority in terms of the media and psychological warfare that stems from facts rather than illusions. On more than one occasion, the Israeli media recognized the accuracy and quality of the follow-up and translation of the resistance’s media of everything that is published in the usurping entity in an attempt to expose it to the public.

A week ago, Amos Harel wrote in Haaretz, in a piece titled Nasrallah’s Propaganda that

“in a speech at the end of last week (the liberation of the Jroud speech), Nasrallah quoted Brick’s criticism of the “Israeli” army’s performance. He also mentioned Yaniv Kuovich’s ’s article which he published here regarding a 40 percent increase in the percentage of soldiers visiting psychiatric clinics in the army.”

Harel refers back to Sayyed Nasrallah’s famous “Spider Web” speech on the entity and its media when he delivered it in Bent Jbeil in 2000. It still resonates until today.

“Nasrallah’s firm hypothesis is based on the most famous speech, the ‘Spider Web’ speech in Bint Jbeil immediately after the end of the “Israeli” army’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000: the “Israeli” society is weak and pressured. If the Arabs knew how to act against “Israel” with determination and strength, they would be able to demand more concessions.”

We continue with the enemy’s media and “Sayyed’s” impact on it. Channel 10 remarked that “Nasrallah is a brilliant and very clever speaker who did not make a lot of mistakes in analyzing the weaknesses of the “Israeli” society.”

In an interview with the Arab affairs correspondent, Zvi Yehezkeli, the presenter said (while analyzing the second liberation anniversary speech):

“If Nasrallah were not on the side of the ‘bad guys’, we would have said that he was a brilliant speaker and a very intelligent man. In a speech he delivered yesterday, he analyzed the weaknesses of the “Israeli” army and did not made a mistake.”

Yehezkeli replied,

“I agree that Nasrallah is a brilliant speaker in the Arab world. But regarding the content, I see it a bit differently. Nasrallah’s speech reminds us of the speech of the ‘Spider Web’.”

Take note of the choice of the Bint Jbeil speech. Some compared him to Gamal Abdel Nasser for his brilliance in speechmaking. He spoke about the weak society or what he called in 2006 prior to the war as the “Espresso Society”. This description was still present in Yehezkeli’s mind after 12 years. He said that the “Espresso Society” will not go to war for the two captured soldiers. He also said this in a press conference on the day of their capture. The “Espresso Society” went to war. It did not go the way it was planned. It was an implicit recognition of defeat. Once again he says this while speaking about defeatism. I agree with him on this angle at least when he enumerates “Israel’s” failures by saying, “the invincible army may not be the only description for “Israel”.” Then came the recognition that the army is not fit to represent the defeated entity.

“What impressed me is his very modern knowledge of the “Israeli” press. There is someone who reads things to him very carefully, analyzes them very intelligently and never makes mistakes when he points out the weaknesses in “Israeli” society,” the presenter added.

Yehezkeli: There are those who say that the “Israeli” office in Hezbollah is Nasrallah himself. He does not allow others to read it. He sits and reads. In an interview he spoke about how long it takes him to read the “Israeli” press and the “Israeli” society. He is a person whose goal is to analyze things in society that have not been analyzed before. He also has intelligence capabilities. However, he still reads the press, quoting newspapers such as Haaretz, Yedioth Ahronoth as well as opinion polls, analyses, analysts and experts. But he does not know Hebrew.

This was recognition of Sayyed familiarity with the nature of the Zionist society and its weaknesses. It also praised the monitoring and the Hebrew-to-Arabic translation team. This is not the first time that the enemy’s media deals with the quality, experience and accuracy of the abilities of the resistance’s media to keep track of the Zionist entity. A few years ago before the Zionist withdrawal and the humiliating defeat of the “invincible” army, a media specialist conducted a comparative study between the resistance’s media and the enemy’s one. In it they looked at details including the quality of the paper used by the resistance’s media and the nature of the technical production and covers designs. It concluded that the resistance’s media excelled past that of the enemy. We continue with the presenter when he asks about the fear of death complex gripping the families of the occupation soldiers:

“When he said in this speech that the “Israeli” elite wanted to send their children to the 8200 [cyber warfare] unit and less to the front. He recognized something … (signs of admiration and astonishment on the face of the presenter).”

Here, we pause at the surprise that occurred in the war on Syria, where the number of participants among the ranks of the resistance doubled. Reports were made by families who were insisting to send their children to the battlefronts. Here, we discover the reason behind the admiration and astonishment of the presenter. The resistance’s society does not fear death, especially when martyrdom is one of two choices, victory being the first. This was in contrary to the enemy’s society where the fear of death makes families want to send their son to work behind a desk.

Attempting to create a fabricated picture of the truth Yehezkeli concludes:

“Certainly, I think what he said is part of psychological warfare that shows distress ahead of the next confrontation.”

“But nevertheless, he certainly brought something painful to our stomachs.”

He ends the interview with a passage from Sayyed Nasrallah’s speech about the soldiers seeing psychiatrists.

The speech on the anniversary of the Second Liberation Day opened a deep wound. It was painful for the enemy. It reopened an old wound, which is the May 25, 2000 [“Israeli”] withdrawal from Lebanon.

Related Videos

DECISION TO BRING WHITE HELMETS TO CANADA DANGEROUS AND CRIMINAL

screenshot-122

August 10, 2018, RT.com

by Eva Bartlett

Did Canadians get to vote on whether or not to bring potential terrorists or supporters of terrorists to Canada? No. Will Canadians get a say in where these potentially dangerous men will be settled? Highly unlikely.

Ninety-eight members of the White Helmets, and a few hundred of their families, were evacuated by Israel and allies to Jordan late in evening of July 21. They will seemingly be shipped off to a few Western nations for resettlement: Canada, the UK, and Germany. So far, Canada has pledged to take 50 White Helmets and around 200 family members.

Wrongly dubbed the “Syrian Civil Defense” (the actual Syrian Civil Defense has existed since 1953), the White Helmets narrative is flawed in every conceivable manner.

Packaged as neutral, heroic, volunteer rescuers, who have “saved 115,000 lives”, according toWhite Helmets leader Raed Al Saleh, they are in reality a massively Western-funded organization with salaried volunteers, and have no documentation of those 115,000 saved. They contain numerous members who have participated in or supported criminal acts in Syria, includingtorture, assassinations, beheading, and kidnapping of civilians, as well as inciting Western military intervention in Syria.

James LeMesurier, a former member of the British military who founded the White Helmets, did so in countries neighbouring Syria: in Turkey and Jordan. They have since worked solely in terrorist-held areas of Syria, and according to Syrian civilians in eastern Ghouta, they worked directly with, or were themselves, extremists of Jaysh al-Islam or other extremist groups. Civilians in east Aleppo said that White Helmets worked with al-Qaeda in Syria (the Nusra Front).

The fact that White Helmets centres are frequently, if not always, found near or next to headquarters of al-Qaeda and other terrorist factions further supports the accusations that they collaborate with terrorists—even with ISIS, as noted by ISIS hostage John Cantlie. He described the White helmets as an “ISIS fire brigade“.

White Helmets have also been at the scene of executions; filmed standing over dead Syrian soldiers; cheering on and cleaning up after an execution in Daraa Governorate, and disposing ofthe bodies of assassinated Syrian soldiers (including decapitated bodies) in Daraa Governorate.

White Helmets members were present to welcome Saudi terrorist Abdullah al-Muhaysini, leader of al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria) who the US government designated a terrorist for “acting for or on behalf of” al-Nusra, and helping to finance them.

Over sixty White Helmets members have clear ties to terrorist and extremist groups, as shown bytheir own social media accounts and videos. In many of their own photos they hold weapons. Some White Helmets members have called for the murders of Shia villagers in Idlib governorate, and were instrumental in the massacre and injury of over 300 villagers, including 116 children in April 2017.

Not exactly neutral and members of the Daraa batch of White Helmets could very possibly be among those soon to be en route to Western nations.

37800770_531389427277713_1984065472441614336_n

Not Russian propaganda: Canadian, American, British journalists first exposed the White Helmets

In September 2014, independent Canadian journalist Cory Morningstar wrote about the New York City PR firm, Purpose Inc, and its propaganda role regarding the White Helmets. In March andApril 2015, independent US journalist Rick Sterling, further scrutinized the White Helmets and related “humanitarian” groups serving to call for a no-fly-zone in Syria.

Since then, and for years now, concerned journalists and commentators have written or posed questions on the entity known as the White Helmets. In addition to the years-long investigations by Vanessa Beeley, commentators – from former British ambassador to Syria Peter Ford, award-winning US journalist Gareth Porter, award-winning journalist John Pilger, and even rock legendRoger Waters, have noted that the White Helmets are a dangerous and fraudulent group, or asPilger put it, a propaganda construct.

I have already outlined this chronology of investigations, refuting corporate media claims that voices critical of the White Helmets stem from Russian influence. Yet, slavish supporters of the White Helmets, continue to demonize anyone posing critical and needed questions on this group, generally labelling such people as “Russian bots”, “influenced by Russia”, or some variation of that, in an attempt to insist only people under the influence of Russia have been critical of the White Helmets.

DjmN1SXXoAEqFxM

In the case of the Atlantic Council’s Ben Nimmo, his tweet on the lack of or scant mention by RT or Sputnik in 2014, 2015, to mid 2016 of the White Helmets supports my argument: those are precisely the times when the above-mentioned independent journalists were investigating the group.

White Helmets next to terrorists’ headquarters

In Syria, I saw two different White Helmets centres in close proximity to terrorists’ headquarters: one in eastern Aleppo, and one in Saqba, eastern Ghouta. The Saqba centre was two hundred metres from a factory extremists used to manufacture mortars and missiles, quite possibly those used to bomb civilians in Damascus.

It contained a fire-truck stolen from the real Syrian Civil Defense, as well as ambulances and vehicles all torched when the White Helmets left Ghouta with terrorists of Jaysh al-Islam and Faylaq al-Rahman, among others. They were all safely transported to Idlib as per the deal with the Syrian government.

The other White Helmets centre I saw was in the Ansari district of Aleppo’s east. Formerly a school (and now returned to this status), this centre was a half minute’s walk to the headquarters of al-Qaeda in Syria, as well as the Abu Amara Brigades, and other extremists.

Vanessa Beeley, who had previously been to Ansari, wrote a detailed article additionally noting that just 200 metres from that same White Helmets centre was Al Mashad Square, where 12-year-old Palestinian youth, Abdullah Issa, was savagely tortured and then slowly beheaded.

In the Old City, next to Aleppo’s citadel last May, I spoke with an older man who had remained in Aleppo during the terrorists’ rule. He told me: “The Civil Defence is supposed to rescue people, but they used to steal women’s earrings from their dead bodies. If she was wearing gold, they’d cut her hand to steal it. They are thieves, not rescuers. We saw them murdering people, many times.

In Douma and Kafr Batna, I spoke with civilians who told me they saw Jaysh al-Islam extremists wearing White Helmets uniforms, and White Helmets working with Jaysh al-Islam. Another eastern Ghouta resident, Marwan Qreisheh, said the early White Helmets members who came to Ghouta weren’t Syrian, didn’t speak Arabic, and used their money to attract “volunteers”.

He spoke of them staging rescue scenes: “They’d start filming and claiming that SAA hit this area, it was in front of our eyes, and we knew it was all staged, but we didn’t dare to stand against them because they would kill us, they would empty their gun in you immediately.

Who killed the civilians in White Helmets Douma videos?

It was the White Helmets who released (WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC) videos and photosalleging a chemical attack in Douma in April 2018. Yet, no civilian among the many I met in Douma believed there had been a chemical attack and medical staff didn’t see patients exposed to a chemical agent. More recently, the OPCW ruled out the use of a nerve agent used in Douma, finding only traces of “chlorinated organic chemicals”.

So, who and what killed the women and children shown in the White Helmets-distributed video from Douma? Did the White Helmets take part in their murder, or merely film their bodies (somearranged) after the fact?

Corporate media has diligently avoided asking a single honest question of the propaganda group they laud, and has for years attacked those of us who do ask questions and take testimonies of Syrian civilians on this matter.

Canadian cover for White Helmets

Canada has been assisting the White Helmets for some years now, under the pretext of aiding humanitarians. While the full extent of Canadian financial support to the White Helmets has yet to be revealed, at least Can$7.5 million (US$5.7mn) was given to the group, helping with “the development and expansion of early warning air raid systems.

Following the Israeli evacuation of White Helmets and their families from southern Syria, Global Affairs Canada released a statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, on the “courageous volunteers”, regurgitating the White Helmets “save the innocent and the wounded” unsubstantiated claim.

Unsubstantiated because, in spite of the fancy videos, neither the White Helmets nor its UK backers can provide a list of the supposed over 115,000 civilians rescued.

While the media has lauded Canada’s role in the evacuation of the White Helmets members, it’s worth noting the person, Robin Wettlaufer, behind this evacuation effort. Wettlaufer met withWhite Helmet leader Raed Saleh (once denied entry to the US due to his potential ties to extremists, according to Mark Toner) in late June, as the Syrian army was regaining territory in Daraa governorate.

Wettlaufer has held the Istanbul-based position of Special Representative for Syria, under  Global Affairs Canada, from March 2014 to present, according to her LinkedIn page.

In fact, she is the Special Representative to the Syrian Opposition, something noted in a December 2016 Global Affairs Canada video featuring Wettlaufer.

Given that Wettlaufer is thus Canada’s Representative to extremists in Syria, her key role in instigating the evacuation of the White Helmets is hardly surprising, let alone praise-worthy. But it should be worrying to Canadians. Did Canadians get to vote on whether or not to bring potential terrorists or supporters of terrorists to Canada? No. No vote in the Parliament, no public discussion. Will Canadians get a say in where these potentially dangerous men will be settled? No sign of that so far, and indeed highly unlikely.

Why did the Canadian government refuse the entry of 100 injured Palestinian children from Gaza in 2014, a truly humanitarian effort, and yet will fast-track the entry of potentially dangerous men with potential ties to terrorists?

As for the claims of danger to the White Helmets in southern Syria, their comrades in eastern Aleppo and in eastern Ghouta were safely transported out of those areas, along with their families and with extremists who refused to take amnesty, while Aleppo and eastern Ghouta had peace restored. The White Helmets are potential security threats to citizens in the Western nations planning on hosting them.

As citizens privy to all this information and all the questions on the White Helmets, we must demand our governments reverse this plan, or at least provide us with confirmation that the immigrants in question have been fully investigated and have not been involved in terrorist activities in Syria in any way.

RELATED LINKS:

SYRIA: AVAAZ, PURPOSE & THE ART OF SELLING HATE FOR EMPIRE, September 17, 2014, Cory Morningstar, Wrong Kind of Green

Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators: White Helmets, Avaaz, Nicholas Kristof and Syria No Fly Zone, April 9, 2015, Rick Sterling, Dissident Voice

Humanitarians for War on Syria, March 31, 2015, Rick Sterling, Counter Punch

EXCLUSIVE: The REAL Syria Civil Defence Exposes Fake ‘White Helmets’ as Terrorist-Linked Imposters, September 23, 2016, Vanessa Beeley, 21st Century Wire

The White Helmets Files, variety of articles including especially the investigations of Vanessa Beeley, 21st Century Wire

A Flawed UN Investigation on Syria, March 11, 2017, Gareth Porter, Consortium News

JOHN PILGER: “WHITE HELMETS ARE A COMPLETE PROPAGANDA CONSTRUCT IN SYRIA”, May 24, 2017, RT.com, (exact clip here)

How the Mainstream Media Whitewashed Al-Qaeda and the White Helmets in Syria, January 6, 2018, Eva Bartlett, Global Research

LAST MEN IN ALEPPO: Al Qaeda Presented as ‘White Helmets’ for the Annual Terrorist ‘Oscar’ Nomination, January 28, 2018, Vanessa Beeley, 21st Century Wire

Ex-Pink Floyd singer denounces White Helmets as propaganda tool during Barcelona concert (VIDEO), April 16, 2018, RT.com

Torture, starvation, executions: Eastern Ghouta civilians talk of life under terrorist rule,  June 10, 2018, Eva Bartlett, RT.com

‘Propaganda organization’: White Helmets ‘engage in anti-Assad activities’ – author Sy Hersh to RT, June 30, 2018, RT.com

Whitewashing the White Helmets – Peter Ford, Former UK Ambassador to Syria Responds to UK Government Statement, July 23, 2018, 21st Century Wire

White Helmets coming ‘home’: West & Israel provide ‘exceptional’ rescue strategy for NATO’s ghosts, July 26, 2018, Vanessa Beeley, RT.com

Israel Grabs 800 White Helmets Savages, Dumps them in Jordan

image-The White Helmets - Al Qaeda Propaganda Arm

The White Helmets – Al Qaeda Propaganda Arm – Credit: @SyrianWarNewsInfoMedia

July 22, 2018

Israel has again encroached upon Syrian territorial integrity, this time to extract 800 members of the deviant, criminally insane, White Helmets. Given Israel’s ongoing flaunting of UNSCR 242 (1967), this invasion is not as arrogant as having kidnapped Mordechai Vannunu from Italy. Nonetheless, it is a breach of International Law, cheered by Israel and its western psychophants as a stunning ‘humanitarian gesture.’ There has been no word from Stefan de Mistura, if these criminal savages were moved with their dignity and weapons intact. At this writing, no one has question why Israel has chosen to not absorb these White Helmets serial killers, kidnappers, brutalizers of children, necro- and pedonecrophiliacs.  Reportedly, these malignant sociopaths who should be permanently institutionalized in hospitals for the criminally insane, are to hang out in Jordan while western countries draw straws on which ones will have the privilege of having child-murderers in their neighborhoods.

white-helmets
Why doesn’t Israel absorb these depraved sociopaths?

On the off-chance that this report will be read by some wishing to break from the nightmare mesmerization of the CIA’s Operation Mockingbirdbrain, and the rarer chance that genuine health care practitioners are amenable to standing on their hind legs and issue a condemnation of these monsters, this author will provide a synopsis of vile history the terrorist White Helmets.

White Helmets were founded by former Brit military officer cum mercenary, James LeMesurier (subsequently knighted by the English queen, for his diabolical ‘work.’). Despite tens of millions from the UK, US, & various other EU countries, these weaponized minions of Iblis do not own a stethoscope, do not know how to perform CPR, do not use spinal precautions when fake rescuing those terrorized into acting, from the rubble.  These genetically altered Syrians are headquarted in Turkey, which is not Syria.

 

white-helmets
Basic requirements of First Responders & all emergency health care. Weird that White Helmets don’t have them?

 

white-helmets
Dare to ask Sir Jimmy about a stethoscope, & you will immediately get censored.

Were they not blood-spilling, child predators, and slaughterers of women and Syrian Arab Army soldiers, the story of the White Helmets could be written as some funny Vaudeville act. After all, they have a genetic immunity to GB, they magically defy gravity, and they miraculously save lives via fake bagging and nasal cannulas attached to no oxygen source.

white-helmets
Nusra White Helmets fraud responders & ‘Skirpal poisonings’ responders.

 

white-helmets
Godly White Helmets can even reverse gravity.

 

white-helmets
Crushing a kid’s face while using a fake ambu bag is infinitely more dramatic than proper use, especially with a pretty blue shirt to add sweet color.

 

white-helmets
Who needs a stethoscope & an oxygen source to save lives?

Please take a close examination of this photograph. Though likely someone will get fired for not adding a helmet or a patch, it contains the same perverse immorality of the standard White Helmets emotional war pornography. Despite the surrounding generic rubble, we see two dust-free men ‘running’ with half-naked infants. These babies’ moms are nowhere to be seen. One of the running men stunningly steps onto a crooked cinder block, yet does not lose his footing. The also dust-free boy has no legs, yet stands erect. Near to him is a ladder, also leg-less, which remains upright. In the distance, despite the rubble, and utter devastation, we see an intact satellite dish atop a standing building which somehow looks bombed-out.

white-helmets
The mesmerizing impunity of anti-Syria emotional war porn.

Grizzly reality being what it is, there is no Commedia dell’Arte to soften the heinous crimes, the slaughter, the degenerate abuse of children and women massacred for snuff porn by the criminally psychotic White Helmets. Their camera-ready fraud rescues have only been performed in regions of Syria occupied by FSAand other alQaeda offspring such as Nusra terrorists.  Appropriately called “human garbage” and the world’s “filthiest of the filth,” these over-ripened miscreants are run under Turkey, Saudi tyrants, Israel and Jordan, depending on which part of Syria they occupy.

white-helmets
These monsters even supported the threatened destruction of al Fijah water spring.

Dumping these demonic creatures into Jordan really is of no surprise.  The US released al Baghdadi from an Iraqi prison, and gave him a pile of money to train terrorists in Jordanian camps. Obama gave Jordan a ‘loan’ so that Israel could use its airspace to be alQaeda’s first air force in Syria. Jordan gave air cover to the takfiri blitzkrieg operation in Bosra al Sham. Israel, Turkey, and the US have all spent time at the Military Operations Command in Amman, where White Helmets and other assorted terrorists have gone for paychecks and some essential R&R (likely kidnapping children from hospitals and cutting off their heads with a kitchen knife is fatiguing.).

A nanosecond after Israel announced its self-aggrandizing report, an English gentleman politician got so Freudianly excited he likely needed to change his nappy. The Bard accurately noted that past is prologue, so we can unfortunately expect a domino effect among whorish western politicians. Reuters is already leading the way for deep state msm (both left and right).  Likely, also, that the Mockingbirdbrain peons will be cheering, soon, too.

Is humanity so evil, or so stupid, as to allow children to be near perverse kidnappers and murderers who abuse corpses?

white-helmets
Snuff porn murders followed by pedonecrophilia photo ops.

 

white-helmets
No civilized ‘first responder’ would handle a body in such a wretched way. Anyone who believes White Helmets garbage to be ‘heroes’ is also deviant, garbage.

 

white-helmets
Snuff porn, war porn, pedonecrophilia. Courtesy, White Helmets.

Might there be a third choice?

Is humanity finally ready to find its moral compass?

Miri Wood

 

Recommended documentation on the criminal depravity of the grotesque White Helmets:

Clarity of Signal, massive photo cache of savagery of White Helmets.

NATO Beloved White Helmets Mass Behead Slaughtered Syrian Soldiers.

Photo tutorial on the Death Squad White Helmets.

Bana’s terrorist father was affiliated with the Helmets.

Local Syrian Residents Call White Helmets “Organ Traders.

Savage Helmets Are Minions of Iblis.  

White Helmets criminal lies & slaughter in Khan Sheikhoun .

Helmets & terrorist allies’ atrocities in Douma & other parts of East Ghouta.

Testing credibility .

#Skripal Time to Invite Russian Diplomats Back with an Apology

Time to Invite Russian Diplomats Back with an Apology

1187688

By James ONeill – New Eastern Outlook – 16.07.2018

On 4th of March 2018 former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were discovered on a park bench in Salisbury England in a distressed state. They were treated by passers-by, including a doctor, before being taken to Salisbury General Hospital.

The hospital initially treated the Skripals for a suspected drug overdose as the symptoms they exhibited were consistent with poisoning by fentanyl, a substance 10 times stronger than heroin, and with which the hospital had prior experience. The hospital’s initial diagnosis was confirmed in an article that appeared in the Clinical Services Journal on 27 April 2018. After the journal’s online article was publicized on social media, references to “fentanyl” were changed to “a substance.”

It was not the first or last time that the official story about what happened to the Skripals was changed.

Three days after the Skripals were found, the British government issued a “D” Notice. The ‘Notice”, officially a “request” but in effect a demand, forbade mention of Mr Skripal’s friend Pablo Miller. Why publicity about Mr Miller was to be suppressed is one of the features of this case, and apart from the initial report in the UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph, which led to the ‘D’ Notice, he has not been referred to again in the mainstream media.

On 12 March 2018 the British Prime Minister Theresa May made her first statement to the House of Commons in which she alleged that the Skripals had been poisoned with a nerve agent of a type developed by Russia,” and that it was “highly likely” Russia was responsible.

The British government subsequently circulated a memorandum and power point presentation to 80 embassies setting out the argument that Russia was responsible for what happened to the Skripals, and seeking support for their intention to expel Russian diplomats as a punishment. The various allegations made in the PowerPoint presentation were at best contentious and some were demonstrably untrue. It is suffice for present purposes however to focus only on the claims of alleged Russian responsibility for the Skripal attacks.

A number of countries, including Australia, acceded to the British demand and expelled diplomats. The statement made by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announcing that two Russian diplomats would be expelled made no attempt to establish the truth of the matter or indicate any desire to do so. His statement simply echoed the allegations made in the British document.

Turnbull said that the use of a chemical weapon to try to murder Sergei and Yulia Skripal reflected a “pattern of recklessness and aggression” by the Russian government that had to be stopped. Russia, he said was threatening no less than “the democratic world” in deliberately undermining the international rules based order. He went on to list a series of other alleged transgressions that echoed the claims made by the United Kingdom government.

One of the interesting features of this case is that not only was it a rush to judgement before the evidence could possibly have been gathered and analysed, but that the mainstream media and the politicians have not deviated from their initial claims, despite the wealth of evidence that has subsequently emerged.

Like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, they demanded the sentence before the evidence had been presented, and also like Alice in the eponymous story, asked us to believe six impossible things before breakfast.

The diligent reader is able to readily ascertain just how lengthy that list of impossible things is. It is suffice for present purposes to mention only a few to demonstrate that the United Kingdom’s entire story is a fabrication that would be funny were its potential consequences not so serious.

The United Kingdom government claimed that the Skripals had been poisoned by “a military grade nerve agent” that they see it was a Novichok “of a type of developed by Russia.” From that combination of alleged facts, we were expected to infer that only the Russians could have been responsible.

”Novichok” is a sufficiently Russian sounding nomenclature to give superficial credence to at least part of the claim. The first difficulty however is that there is no “Novichok” nerve agent. The term simply refers to a class of organophosphate chemical weapons. It is true that this class of chemical weapon was developed in the former Soviet Union, as described in a book published by a former employee of the chemical centre, readily available on Amazon.

That manufacturing and research development centre was demolished pursuant to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1999, as was described as the time in an article in the New York Times. Material from the demolition process was taken back to the United States. All of this information is readily available and politicians and journalists prior to their making claims about nerve agents “of a type developed by Russia” should have known it

The Novichok class of nerve agents may or may not have been initially developed by the Soviet Union, but that is a far cry from linking the substance allegedly used in Salisbury with that original program. A number of European governments have acknowledged that they possess the Novichok class of nerve agents.

A search of the United States Patent Office records however, reveals that between 2002 and November 2017 81 patents were applied for using the name “Novichok”. A patent filed in April 2013 includes a description of a delivery method, including bullet like projectiles that can target a single person.

Secondly, the former United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told the Russian ambassador to the United Kingdom on 12 March 2018 that the nerve agent used on the Skripals was an A234. You are a number of problems with this claim quite apart from Mr Johnson’s general difficulty with the truth. The consulting surgeon at Salisbury Hospital, Dr Steven Davies had a letter to The Times newspaper published on 14 March 2018 in which he stated that “no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury.” In contradistinction to unsubstantiated claims that as many as 40 people had been affected, Dr Davies referred to only three patients receiving treatment in this context. This was presumably a reference to the two Skripals and a police officer.

A234 is a highly toxic substance, 8 to 10 times more powerful then VX (of a type developed by the UK) that had been used to kill a relative of North Korean leader Kim at the Kuala Lumpur airport. VX will kill within a few minutes, yet the A234 allegedly used on the Skripals failed to kill or even severely disable them or the third alleged victim, detective Sergeant Bailey.

A further and likely conclusive reason to reject A234 as the substance used, was that the report by the OPCW based on samples collected from Salisbury 17 to 18 days after the incident said that the substance in the samples was of “high purity”.

The scientific evidence, again readily ascertainable by a reasonably diligent journalist is that A234 and similar substances degrade rapidly. It is literally impossible for samples collected 17 to 18 days after the event to be of “high purity.” The purity also makes it impossible to identify the specific source of the manufacture, and furthermore guarantees that it originated in a properly equipped laboratory. That OPCW report effectively destroyed the last shreds of the UK government’s claims.

Given that Bailey and the Skripals have both made complete recoveries, it could not have been a “military grade” nerve agent that caused their plight. There is also the indisputable fact that whatever was used on the Skripals could not have come from Yulia’s suitcase, the air vents of their motor vehicle, or the front door knob of Mr Skripal’s house, or any of the other fantastical claims made at various times by the UK government for the simple reason that they were alive and well approximately six hours after leaving the house.

During that time the Skripals visited the cemetery, had a meal at Zizzi’s restaurant, and had an untroubled walk through the centre of Salisbury, captured by the CCTV camera. The fact that they both took ill, at the same time and in the same specific location, leads to the almost irresistible inference that they were attacked at or near the park bench where they were found in a distressed state.

For these various reasons, and a great deal of the others in the now considerable body of literature on this topic, we do not know with what they were attacked, nor by whom. At best we know approximately where and at approximately what time. A proper inquiry, as opposed to the wild and unjustified accusations and premature conclusions constantly reiterated in the mainstream media, would approach this question with an open mind. It has been abundantly clear that a proper enquiry is the furthest thing from the minds of the British government or their acolytes such as Australia.

A proper inquiry would also consider the relevance of motive. There has been no plausible suggestion, much less evidence, as to why the Russian government would wish to do the Skripals harm, and some solid reasons why the Russian government would be the least likely candidate to wish ill upon the Skripals.

This brings us back to Sergei Skripal, his history and the aforementioned D notices. One of those D notices inhibited publication of the details relating to Pablo Miller. That raises the obvious question, not pursued by the mainstream media unfettered by the D notice, as to why the British government would wish to protect Mr Miller’s identity and his links to Mr Skripal.

Miller and Skripal are friends, both living in Salisbury and known to socialize together. Their history goes rather deeper. Miller is a former MI6 officer and during the time that Skripal was a double agent in the employ of the Russian GRU Agency and selling Russian secrets to the British, Miller was his ‘handler.’

Miller worked in Moscow in conjunction with Christopher Steele, the assumed author of the infamous Trump dossier that collected together various allegations about Trump’s Russian activities, both business and personal.

That dossier was commissioned by the Democratic National Committee on behalf of Trump’s opponent in the 2016 presidential election, Hilary Clinton. The DNC commissioned Fusion GPS who in turn contracted with Orbis Business Intelligence. Christopher Steele was the principal of Orbis and Miller was one of his associates.

The American outlet Buzzfeed released the complete dossier on 10 January 2017 and on the same day the May government issued a D notice prohibiting the British press from revealing Steele to be the author. The Wall Street Journal however, published his name the following day.

According to the Czech magazine Respekt, Skripal had recent links to Czech intelligence and he travelled to both the Czech Republic and Estonia in 2016 and had met with intelligence officers from both countries.

This evidence strongly supports the inference that Skripal was still an active agent on behalf of the British who were known to be strongly opposed to the election of Donald Trump. Given Skripal’s knowledge of Russian intelligence, his links with the intelligence community in at least four countries, his close ties to both Miller and Steele going back to his GRU days, and at least according to one textual analysis of the dossier, it is entirely possible that Skripal was in fact one of the authors of the dossier.

These facts are now well established. At the very least it raises serious questions about who else might have a motive to give Mr Skripal a “message.” Whoever was responsible, the incident was certainly used by the UK government as part of a wider campaign to discredit the Russian government in general and President Putin in particular. In this endeavour, they have been willingly aided and abetted by the Australian government and mainstream media.

The failure of either to acknowledge the manifold flaws in the original allegations and to accept that the UK government’s version has been comprehensively discredited is an enduring disgrace.

At the very least the Russian government is owed an apology. That would go at least some way to acknowledging that the premature judgement and intemperate response has damaged Australia’s international image and its foreign relations

BELLINGCAT & ATLANTIC COUNCIL JOIN TO AWARD EXPLOITED SYRIAN CHILD & AMERICAN MASS MURDERER

alabed_terror

-by Eva Bartlett

June 28, 2018, RT.com

Just when we thought the over-used Bana al-Abed story was in the war propaganda dustbin, the wonder-child theme has again been re-hashed, this time by the Atlantic Council.

The so-called “think tank” recently highlighted the nine-year old at a conference that also included former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright.

Bana, the child presented to the world in late 2016 as tweeting from eastern Aleppo about wanting peace, Russia being bad, Assad being bad, etcetera, became colonial media’s darling, the perfect cover for war propaganda. We are told that Bana al-Abed has written a memoir. She has attended galas, met the Turkish president, and hobnobbed with movie stars and UN officials. Now, the girl has been trotted out on stage to receive an award from the Atlantic Council. 

Read more

Damaged buildings in the Syrian city of Raqa. © Delil souleiman / AFP

Critical-thinkers aren’t fooled by the Bana story. As I wrote earlier:

Critiques on Amazon reveal that thinking people aren’t buying brand Bana, in spite of her UN appearance and rehearsed speech about children dying from bombs and hunger (which the United Nations retweeted, as all good neutral and credible institutions might).”

That her father was a member of a terrorist organization in Aleppo and worked in a Sharia Court has been documented, as has her family’s close proximity to numerous terrorist headquarters in their area of Aleppo alone.

But still, her official story is dragged on, endlessly.

Last April, after the world declared, with zero evidence, that Syria had used a toxic chemical on civilians in Douma, when Syrians testified to the contrary, Western leaders and corporate media labeled giving their testimony as a “masquerade,” “obscene.” They ignored the words of 11-year-old Hassan Diab from Douma. They ignored numerous reports of independent journalists whose reporting from Douma corroborate the testimonies. These people, corporate media tell us, are not to be believed.

Yet, as I wrote earlier“Corporate media and Western leaders had no issues with the credibility of Bana, who was living surrounded by 25 terrorist cells in her district alone.”

Screenshot from 2018-06-26 09-05-30

What is the Atlantic Council?

Is the Atlantic Council some benevolent organization handing out awards to do-gooding people?

No. It’s a Washington DC-based think tank, which promulgates lies and propaganda to further imperialist wars and weapons sales, among other things. One of its Syria “experts” is none other than Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins, who recently took to social media to tell people to suck his “big balls,” making him more of a laughing stock than this backgrounder on the man with no qualifications to his title.

Screenshot from 2018-06-29 10-39-28

 

Screenshot from 2018-06-29 10-39-37

Some of the Atlantic Council’s funders include: the US State Department, oil and weapons manufacturing companies, banks, NATO, various nations’ ministries of defence, and the US Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy.

Even just based on funding alone, and ignoring their pro-NATO policy papers, the Atlantic Council clearly exists to further the interests of those involved in weapons manufacturing, wars, and oil.

‘Banging’: Bellingcat’s interview with Bana

In her interview with Bellingcat, Bana seems more natural than in her early 2017 “save, save the children of Syria”interview (her reply to what kind of food she liked). This time, she can answer basic ‘how are you’ questions. Her replies are met with“cool, cool, cool,” and “banging,” by Bellingcat’s Nick Waters.

Read more

© Thaer Mohammed

After the chit-chat, Bana begins what is clearly a scripted soliloquy, staring forward, possibly concentrating on repeating what is likely being transmitted to her ear, speaking about children and war, destroyed schools, and of course not ever mentioning the terrorists who surrounded her home and occupied schools as headquarters, nor that her own father was a terrorist.

It is a transparently unauthentic recitation, with Bana continually pausing mid-sentence, presumably to hear the rest of what she is told to say. After two and a half minutes of this cringeworthy monologue, she breaks into song, singing “We shall overcome.”

When later receiving her Atlantic Council “Freedom Award,” she gives another rehearsed speech, again halting mid-sentence throughout her five minutes of talking.

These theatrical performances, hosted and encouraged by the Atlantic Council and Bellingcat, epitomize the depth that the NATO alliance is willing to stoop to, grasping desperately at legitimacy in their transparent war propaganda.

It was not only a shameful, but an embarrassing, fail for the Atlantic Council. As of two days later, there isn’t a single positive comment on the Youtube video of her interview. To the contrary, comments speak of child abuse, war propaganda, and that the girl is likely being fed her lines by an earpiece.

On the Atlantic Council’s Youtube channel, comments are disabled for Bana’s award speech.

Failed Sherlocks accuse a non-bot of being a troll

The DFRLab is a project of the Atlantic Council, ostensibly to identify those prolific (Russian) bots and trolls out there.

On June 22, Atlantic Council CEO and President Fred Kempe tweeted:

“Checking in at the 360 / OS #DigitalSherlocks! The @DFRLab team is working together with activists and journalists from all around the world to enhance our ability to identify trolls in the web spreading disinformation and fake news that pollute our open societies.”

Read more

The author with Douma residents © Eva Bartlett

The second photo in the tweet identifies three Twitter accounts as possible “trolls”: @Malinka1102, @ian56789, and @bowhunter_va.

One of the accused, @Malinka1102, tweeted about her preference for privacy and not being subjected to witch-hunts and harassment.

Having myself been a target of endless harassment and smear campaigns, I can appreciate her concerns, some of which are also included in a book by Phil Butler.

In fact, a new article by Ben Nimmo—who previously targeted @ian56789 as a “Russian bot” (an accusation revealed to be baseless when Ian gave a live Sky News interview, revealing himself to be concerned British man)—now targets a number of twitter profiles as “trolls”, including yours truly.

So basically, people who challenge the State Department, sorry, Atlantic Council, Human Rights Watch, and all the other arms of the US and UK governments on their war propaganda are not thinking people with consciences, they are just “trolls”. That’s what DFRLab wants you to believe.

Atlantic Council awards its own war propaganda

On awarding Bana al-Abed, the Atlantic Council tweeted about her humanizing the “Syrian civil war.”

Screenshot from 2018-06-29 10-43-34

Oh, the irony. The exploited child’s Twitter account has called for World War Three, has whitewashed Al-Qaeda and indeed Bana’s own father Ghassan, a terrorist with the Safwa Brigade.

bana_alabed_holocaust_aleppo

The irony of also awarding Madeleine Albright — known for her lack of remorse over the 500,000 Iraqi children who died as a result of sanctions — was not lost on people.

Screenshot from 2018-06-29 10-46-43

Every new Bana production mocks the children in Syria who are actually starving — like those in Ghouta when under terrorist rule, those when under terrorist rule in eastern Aleppo, in Madaya, in al-Waer — and who are being maimed or murdered by terrorist bombings.

The Atlantic Council and Bellingcat are guilty of war propaganda. As @ian56789 wrote to me in a message:

“The members of the Atlantic Council and DFRLab should be indicted as accomplices to War Crimes, for providing actual material support to al-Qaeda terrorists, and for Treason (actively supporting official enemies of the US & UK). They should be spending the rest of their lives in jail and fined every penny they’ve got.”

And those abusing and exploiting Bana al-Abed in their ongoing war propaganda should join them.

Twitter, Facebook Shut Hezbollah’s War Media Accounts

June 23, 2018

War Media facebook

Facebook and Twitter closed accounts of Hezbollah’s War Media on Friday without notice.

In a post on the Telegram messaging application, Hezbollah’s Central War Media accused the US-based websites of running an anti-media campaign against the Lebanese resistance movement.

Facebook and Twitter closed the accounts as part of their efforts to harm the resistance since the social media accounts of the Central War Media play a major role in Hezbollah’s activities, according to the post on Telegram.

The recent shutdown is not the first time Hezbollah’s Facebook and Twitter accounts are closed. The same Facebook page was blocked at the end of 2017 and was later reopened.

As to now, Facebook and Twitter have not issued a statement on the matter.

SourceAgencies

Nasser Kandil: 60 minutes on Great Return March and the Emerging Multipolar New World Order

Related

Cuban sonic attacks: Likely winner of ‘US Lie of the Decade’

April 26, 2018

by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker BlogCuban sonic attacks: Likely winner of ‘US Lie of the Decade’

I can’t think of another story I’ve reported on which was so completely, 100% devoid of facts….

The allegations of Cuban “sonic attacks” are a complete and total joke. If you believe one iota of this scandalous insult to human honesty and decency – you are dangerously gullible.

Why are only White workers in the US and Canadian embassies reporting health problems, when Cubans act as embassy guards, janitors, etc.? Are injurious sound waves racist?

I talked to Cubans guarding the abandoned Canadian embassy: they said their health is totally fine. The US embassy is in a densely-populated area – hundreds of locals should have been impacted, but nobody has reported any problems.

Scientists of all nationalities have declared: the idea that imperceptible sonic waves can cause brain damage is against the laws of acoustic physics. Scientists are entirely too charitable when they attribute as “mass hysteria” the self-reported and unproven “physical affects”.

Therefore: All you US and Canadian “diplomats”, and your damned families, and anybody else making these claims, are all just damned liars!

The US embassy in Tehran – which was occupied by protesters in 1979, shut down, and converted into a museum – was called the “den of spies” only because Iranians are sticklers for honesty.

Why anybody would believe the claims of these obviously paid-to-lie intelligence operatives working in Havana is beyond me. I don’t even know why Havana let them reopen an embassy here!

I’m sure the reason is tourism – Cuba needs the money, and the visa paperwork has to be completed. Sadly & infuriatingly, it was just announced that Cuban tourism from the US has dropped 40% since the “sonic attacks” began being reported as the gospel truth just one month after Trump took office.

The “sonic attacks” are a weapon against the Cuban people, not by the Cuban people – this is diplomatic and economic warfare.

Here is the real truth behind the “sonic attacks”: They never happened, and are scientifically impossible. This is a massive lie to the American public in order to:

1) Roll back the modest diplomatic steps forward taken under Obama,

2) Shutter US & Canadian embassies, thus reducing visas and also the already-limited business ties permitted under the ongoing international blockade,

3) Justify a further hardening the genocidal blockade,

4) Give cover to provide official “travel advisories” in order to scare US tourists and thus sabotage the tourism sector of the Cuban economy. Of course, the overall goal is to create enough pain, death & instability to spark a civil war in order to reverse Cuba’s democratic choice of a socialist-based system and to restore US control of Cuba (currently limited to only a naval base in Guantanamo).

The incredible thing is that Americans believe the lie. It seems that – no matter how big or lacking in proof – they are culturally incapable of even considering the possibility that their own government could ever issue something called “propaganda”; they also honestly believe that American mainstream journalism is “objective”, and even about longtime enemies like Cuba.

Indeed, how many times have US news anchors reported on the “sonic attacks” with the utmost gravity…despite there never being any actual evidence? It is appalling that – after all these months without proof – the US media is not howling for blood from the Trump administration, in order to salvage their own reputations and consciences. They apparently don’t have the latter.

They instead continue to report the assurances of totally biased sources such as Marco Rubio, who recently said that the FBI has “made a lot of progress” in finding proof for the attacks…and they do it without providing a counter-view limited to a 1-sentence denial by Havana. Just terrible journalism…when did “journalism” become just parroting the government line to the total exclusion of fact-checking?

What is not galling is journalism which is mediocre, but the self-sanctified hypocrisy that American media is somehow “freer” than in other nations.

You can even read of how the longstanding Iranian-Cuban ties may have allowed Iran to mastermind these “attacks”. LOL, the best thing about that absurdity is that it reminds people of the longstanding ties between Cuba and Iran, two socialist countries.

Cuba was one of the first countries to recognise the Iranian Revolution, in obvious appreciation of the Iranian Islamic Socialist model. Iran has invested more than $1 billion in more than 60 (mutually beneficial) projects in Cuba since 2005. Cuba would only have only “allowed” us to “mastermind” these attacks against North American imperialists because of the exceptionally-close ideological ties with our Cuban (mostly non-Islamic) Socialist brothers and sisters…if only the rules of science (and morality) did not totally prevent the possibility of super-quiet “sonic attacks”.

I feel bad for the genuinely-concerned Cuban authorities who were forced to take this seriously for so many months:

Has anyone heard of such a weapon existing? How many of our people are hurt? Is somebody using a new weapon on our territory? Is there some rogue force within our own government trying to undermine our own policy of détente? Who? Should we let American investigators in for the first time in 50 years? We will? Is that a safe idea for us? What on earth is going on?!?!?!

Those were undoubtedly genuine conversations; genuine follow-up work was undoubtedly undertaken, uselessly.

But this has been a waste of my time, too! Why should I be reporting about some group of lies told by liars with no concern for other people’s time? It’s not fun to do a report of: “Look at how stupid this all is”. Some journalists get their jollies by being smug, but I don’t. It is depressing – I mean…how dumb can Americans be?!

Sadly, if we look at history we see the answer: Incredibly dumb…and dishonest, insensitive, uncaring, immoral and – above all – manipulated to the detriment of their own interests.

But that is not fair: This is just one story among many in the world; a majority of Americans do not support the blockade against Cuba anymore; the number of people benefiting or supporting the blockade and the falsely named “sonic attacks” is a tiny coterie of reactionaries in Miami and not the average American.

The “sonic attacks” appear to be a certain winner for “US Lie of the Decade”: for more than 1 year they have been in the news despite a total lack of evidence, and – as the drop in tourism shows – they have negatively impacted the lives of the average person in a non-US country. The false allegations of a chemical attack by the Syrian government on Syrians never did not lead to a massive change in policy, although that was the West’s hope.

I have come up with previous winners in previous decades below. However, let’s keep in mind that these lies are all examples of class warfare, and not really of “American stupidity”: Americans opposed every policy which produced this list, which is truly just an homage to Western capitalism-imperialism.

‘US Lies of the Decade’ – Is your country a winner?

“US Lie of the Decade – 2000s”: Iraq’s alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction

To me, and to many Iranians, the irony was: Hussein had already violated the single-most important rule of international politics – thou shalt not invade – not once (Iran), but twice (Kuwait). That should have provided all the justification needed to invade and capture Hussein, in order to try him according to international law (but never to permit American occupation, nor all the subsequent crimes). Hussein also used mass chemical weapons against Iran – another possible justification for an internationally-approved invasion.

But because nobody in America cares about Iranians, Kuwaitis or defending international law – despite claiming to be “the leader of the free world” at every opportunity – the WMDs were invented, and then promoted by intelligence tools like the New York Times’ Judith Miller, and then defended at the United Nations by the most reputable American they could find (Colin Powell).

If the Americans had invaded, captured Hussein and left, the lack of WMDs could have been fairly regarded as an honest mistake…but Iraq is still under occupation.

“US Lie of the Decade – 1990s”: Claims of goodwill towards the ex-USSR

When the USSR imploded Gorbachev did what nobody in their right mind would do – rush right into the arms of their longtime enemy.

But, even before dissolution, Gorbachev spent the 1980s negotiating away Soviet advantages despite getting nothing in return. When he finally achieved his goal, Gorbachev appeared to actually believe that the US was actually going to help improve the standard of living of the average person in the USSR. The 1990s proved him wrong, and in an extremely painful manner.

Instead of reacting with horror to the drastic drop in living conditions in the former USSR, the US government and media couldn’t have cared less…because the new oligarch class they took under their wing was to blame, of course. The idea that the US was “promoting democracy” in the former USSR will forever be easily disproven by the Time magazine cover which proudly boasted of how the US undemocratically rigged Russia’s election in favor of Yeltsin.

All in all, the biggest lie of the 1990s truly is: “Socialism has failed”. It hasn’t, but it was sabotaged / undermined / attacked / abandoned in some regions. Fortunately it remains strong in others – China, Iran, Cuba, Eritrea, etc.

Honorary second-runner up: That the creation of the modern European Union (1992 Maastricht Treaty) and the introduction of the euro currency (1999) would increase democracy and equality. LOL, that was a good one, too!

“US Lie of the Decade – 1980s”: The cold-blooded mass murder of Iran Air Flight 655

I will be accused of bias, but this is my list. The constant lie that this was a “mistake” is completely disproven by the fact that no one on the ship was ever disciplined, that the crew all got medals (which is what soldiers get for successful combat attacks), and that the US Navy ship fired from inside Iranian waters.

No Iranian will ever forget this, and it was obviously sent as a message to Iran (just 1 month from concluding 8 years of Western-foisted war with Iraq): the US is ready to wipe you all out, even if our attack dog Iraq failed.

“US Lie of the Decade – 1970s”: The US is not involved militarily in Laos or Cambodia

Laos became the “most bombed country ever“ while Cambodia was attacked despite being a neutral country. This ties into the next entry on this list.

“US Lie of the Decade – 1960s”: The Gulf of Tonkin Incidents

These never happened, but permitted the escalation of the US & French Wars Against Vietnamese Independence.

“US Lie of the Decade – 1950s”: The Korean “Conflict”

It was not a “conflict” nor a “police action” but a “war”, and not a war between Koreas but the “US War Against Korean Democratic Socialism”.

You can say that North Korea is not democratic in 2018 all you want, but in 1950 the Korean peninsula would have democratically gone over to socialism, just like Vietnam would, if they had not been targeted by a horrific US invasion and bombing campaign which was the world’s worst until Laos. Korea remains divided and occupied today.

“US Lie of the Decade – 1940s”: The US could never possibly work alongside the same fascists in Germany and Japan whom US soldiers had just died fighting

Or in Italy and Greece. Or with Vichy France supporters, both those in Europe and across their colonial empire in the Muslim world. But the US did, of course.

Indeed, Germany and Japan somehow “lost” World War II, and yet are today’s dominant economies in Europe and East Asia (until the rise of China). Their penance appeared to have lasted all of 15 minutes?

The truth and the reason for this simply must be: Japan and Germany did not “lose” World War II – they only allied with Washington after some extremely difficult negotiating sessions.

“US Lie of the Decade – 1930s”: Poor state planning and revolutionary changes in agriculture led to millions of peasant deaths in the Ukraine and the USSR…but not even one of all those dispossessed US Dust Bowl farmers ever died of hunger

Or perhaps, as in the end of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, US women donated enough breast milk to keep millions of homeless farmers from starvation? That’s about as likely an idea as the idea that poverty, homelessness, debt and forced migration did not increase mortality rates during this era.

If Russians are to accept the estimates of US researchers, which not vice versa? They found 7 million US peasant deaths in this decade.

This is getting rather long (but has been rather easy to think up) so I’m going to stay Cuba-focused here, as they make a 2nd entrance on this list:

“US Lie of the Decade – 1890s”: The sinking of the USS Maine in Cuba

Even US schoolchildren are taught that the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana’s harbor was the apex manipulationof the “yellow press” of New York City – notably William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer – which inflamed war hysteria in order to provoke the Spanish-American War. Perhaps in 120 years US textbooks will tell the truth of the “Cuban sonic non-attacks”?

The USS Maine was sunk under mysterious conditions (certainly, it would have been as insane for Cubans to have done it as it would have been for the Syrian government to use chemical weapons against Syrians in this decade), and it allowed the US to enter into the Cuban War for Independence (against Spain) in order to occupy Cuba. Guantanamo Bay remains occupied today as a result of this lie.

There is a huge monument in Havana reminding people of the incident…but it’s one built by the occupying Americans. I’m glad to report that Cubans have just begun on a 2nd, prominent, seemingly quite large monument right across from the US monument which is dedicated to the true story of the Maine. One day, American tourists will see it and remark, “Oh yeah, ‘Remember the Maine…now where’s the bar?’” Cubans will remark, “Oh yeah, we can’t put up with the US any longer, no matter how bad their lies and blockades”.

In 2018 the US is thus repeating their independence-hating history in Latin America, with everyday Cubans victimised yet again – so say so the next time you hear someone talking about it.

And, if can afford it, ignore the fearmongering and visit Cuba (and not with a US cruise ship).

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV 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. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

Russia’s Reaction to the Insults of the West is Political Suicide

March 17, 2018

by Peter Koenig for the Saker blogRussia’s Reaction to the Insults of the West is Political Suicide

The onslaught of western Russia bashing in the past days, since the alleged poison attack by a Soviet-era nerve agent, Novichok (the inventor of which, by the way, lives in the US), on a Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal and his daughter

Yulia, has been just horrifying. Especially by the UK. Starting with PM May, who outright accused Russia of using chemical weapons (CW) on UK grounds, without delivering any evidence. Strangely, there is no indication where Skripal and his daughter are, in which hospital the pair is being treated, no poison analysis is being published, they cannot be visited; there is absolutely no evidence of the substance they allegedly have been poisoned with – do Sergei and Yulia actually exist?

As a consequence, Theresa May expels 23 Russian diplomats, who have to leave the UK within a week. Then came Boris Johnson, the Foreign Minister clown, also an abject liar. He said, no he yelled, at his fellow parliamentarians that it was “Overwhelmingly likely, that Putin personally ordered the spy attack.” This accusation out of nothing against the Russian President is way more than a deep breach in diplomatic behavior, it is a shameful insult. – And no evidence is provided. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, in fact, said that Johnson’s personal attack on President Putin was “unforgivable”.

Not to miss out on the bashing theatre, UK Defense Secretary, Gavin Williamson, got even more insolent, Russia “should go away and shut up”. In response to all this demonizing Russia for an alleged crime, for which absolutely no proof has been provided, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said that the undiplomatic comments meant that the British authorities are nervous and have “something to hide,”. Lavrov also strongly objected, wanted to initiate a joint UK-Russia investigation into the case – is he dreaming? – and responded to a question of diplomatic retaliation, yes, that Russia will also expel UK diplomates ‘soon’.

There is no doubt that the UK acted as Washington’s poodle. In the course of this anti-Russia tirade, Trump twittered that he fully supported UK’s position. Indeed, the European puppets, Macron, Merkel, May and their chief, The Donald, signed a joint statement blaming Russia for the nerve gas attack on the former double agent, “There is no plausible alternative explanation than that Russia was to blame for the attack”. Bingo, that says it all. The presstitute picks it up and airs it to the seven corners of this globe – and the western sheeple are brainwashed once again: The Russian did it.

Well we know that. But the real point I want to make is that Russia always reacts to such nonsensical and outright false accusations; Russia always responds, rejects of course the accusations but usually with lengthy explanations, and with suggestions on how to come to the truth – as if the UK and the west would give a shit about the truth – why are they doing that? Why are you Russia, even responding?

That is foolish sign of weakness. As if Russia was still believing in the goodness of the west, as if it just needed to be awakened. What Russia is doing, every time, not just in this Skripal case, but in every senseless and ruthless attack, accusations about cyber hacking, invading Ukraine, annexing Crimea, and not to speak about the never-ending saga of Russia-Gate, Russian meddling and hacking into the 2016 US Presidential elections, favoring Trump over Hillary. Everybody with a half brain knows it’s a load of crap. Even the FBI and CIA said that there was no evidence. So, why even respond? Why even trying to undo the lies, convince the liars that they, Russia, are not culpable?

Every time the west notices Russia’s wanting to be a “good neighbor” – about which the west really couldn’t care less, Russia makes herself more vulnerable, more prone to be accused and attacked and more slandered.

Why does Russia not just break away from the west? Instead of trying to ‘belong’ to the west? Accept that you are not wanted in the west, that the west only wants to plunder your resources, your vast landmass, they want to provoke you into a war where there are no winners, a war that may destroy entire Mother Earth, but they, the ZionAnglo handlers of Washington, dream that their elite will survive to eventually take over beautiful grand Russia. That’s what they want. The Bashing is a means towards the end. The more people are with hem, the easier it is to launch an atrocious war.

The Skripal case is typical. The intensity with which this UK lie-propaganda has been launched is exemplary. It has brought all of halfwit Europe – and there is a lot of them – under the spell of Russia hating. Nobody can believe that May Merkel, Macron are such blatant liars… that is beyond what they have been brought up with. A lifelong of lies pushed down their throats, squeezed into their brains. Even if something tells them – this is not quite correct, the force of comfort, not leaving their comfort zone- not questioning their own lives – is so strong that they rather cry for War, War against Russia, War against the eternal enemy of mankind. – I sadly remember in my youth in neutral Switzerland, the enemy always, but always came from the East. He was hiding behind the “Iron Curtain”.

The West is fabricating a new Iron Curtain. But while doing that, they don’t realize they are putting a noose around their own neck. Russia doesn’t need the west, but the west will soon be unable to survive without the East, the future is in the east – and Russia is an integral part of the East, of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), that encompasses half the world’s population and controls a third of the world’s economic output.

Mr. Putin, you don’t need to respond to insults from the west, because that’s what they are, abusive insults. The abject slander that Johnson boy threw at you is nothing but a miserable insult; you don’t need to respond to this behavior. You draw your consequences.

Dear President Putin, Dear Mr. Lavrov, Let them! Let them holler. Let them rot in their insanity. – Respond to the UK no longer with words but with deeds, with drastic deeds. Close their embassy. Give all embassy staff a week to vacate your country, then you abolish and eviscerate the embassy the same way the US abolished your consulates in Washington and San Francisco – a bit more than a year ago. Surely you have not forgotten. Then you give all Brits generously a month to pack up and leave your beautiful country (it can be done – that’s about what Washington is forcing its vassals around the globe to do with North Korean foreign laborers); block all trade with the UK (or with the entire West for that matter), block all western assets in Russia, because that’s the first thing the western plunderers will do, blocking Russian assets abroad. Stealing is in their blood.

Mr. Putin, You don’t need to respond to their lowly abusive attacks, slanders, lies. You and Russia are way above the level of this lowly western pack. Shut your relation to the west. You have China, the SCO, the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), Russia is part of the OBI – President Xi’s One Belt Initiative – the multi-trillion development thrive, emanating from China, connecting continents – Asia, Africa, Europe, South America – with infrastructure, trade, creating hundreds of millions of decent jobs, developing and promoting science and culture and providing hundreds of millions of people with a decent life.

What would the west do, if suddenly they had no enemy, because the enemy has decided to ignore them and take a nap? China will join you.

Everything else, responding, justifying, explaining, denying the most flagrant lies, trying to make them believe in the truth is not only a frustrating waste of time, it’s committing political suicide. You will never win. The west gives a hoot about the truth – they have proven that for the last two thousand years or more. And in all that time, not an iota of conscience has entered the west’s collective mind. The west cannot be trusted. Period.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Vineyard of The Saker Blog; and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.

#Skripal :The UK government is manufacturing its nerve agent case for ‘action’ on Russia

The British government’s Russia nerve agent claims are bullshit

The UK government is manufacturing its nerve agent case for ‘action’ on Russia

Official claim that ‘Novichok’ points solely to Russia discredited

Military personnel investigate the Novichok poisoning in Salisbury

By Nafeez Ahmed

Published by INSURGE intelligence, a crowdfunded investigative journalism platform for people and planet. Support us to report where others fear to tread.

On Monday, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that former Russian spy, Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia, were poisoned with “a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia” known as ‘Novichok’.

The chemical agent was identified by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down. May referred to the British government’s “knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so” as a basis to conclude that Russia’s culpability in the attack “is highly likely.”

On these grounds, she claimed that only two scenarios are possible:

“Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country. Or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.”

The British government’s line has been chorused uncritically by the entire global press corps, with little scrutiny of its plausibility.

But there is a problem: far from offering a clear-cut evidence-trail to Vladimir Putin’s chemical warfare labs, the use of Novichok in the nerve gas attack on UK soil points to a wider set of potential suspects, of which Russia is in fact the least likely.

Russia did actually destroy its nerve agent capabilities according to the OPCW

Yet a concerted effort is being made to turn facts on their head.

No clearer sign of this can be found than in the statement by Ambassador Peter Wilson, UK Permanent Representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), in which he claimed that Russia has “failed for many years” to fully disclose its chemical weapons programme.

Wilson was parroting a claim made a year earlier by the US State Department that Russia had not made a complete declaration of its chemical weapons stockpile: “The United States cannot certify that Russia has met its obligations under the Convention.”

Yet these claims are contradicted by the OPCW itself, which in September 2017 declared that the independent global agency had rigorously verified the completed destruction of Russia’s entire chemical weapons programme, including of course its nerve agent production capabilities.

OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, congratulated Russia with the following announcement:

“The completion of the verified destruction of Russia’s chemical weapons programme is a major milestone in the achievement of the goals of the Chemical Weapons Convention. I congratulate Russia and I commend all of their experts who were involved for their professionalism and dedication. I also express my appreciation to the States Parties that assisted the Russian Federation with its destruction program and thank the OPCW staff who verified the destruction.”

The OPCW’s press statement confirmed that:

“The remainder of Russia’s chemical weapons arsenal has been destroyed at the Kizner Chemical Weapons Destruction Facility in the Udmurt Republic. Kizner was the last operating facility of seven chemical weapons destruction facilities in Russia. The six other facilities (Kambarka, Gorny, Maradykovsky, Leonidovka, Pochep and Shchuchye) completed work and were closed between 2005 and 2015.”

The OPCW does not agree with the vague US and British insistence that Russia failed to declare all its chemical weapons stockpiles and facilities. But it seems that neither does His Excellency Peter Wilson himself.

In a statement to the OPCW in November 2017, Ambassador Wilson congratulated the OPCW on verifying the complete destruction of Russia’s chemical weapons programme with high praise for its director, Ahmet Üzümcü. Wilson listed the latter’s numerous achievements including:

“… the completion of the verified destruction of Russia’s declared chemical weapons programme.”

He did not say anything about Russia’s actions being incomplete. So how credible is his recent insinuation that the OPCW’s position is wrong?

Arguably, not very. The lack of credibility of the Anglo-American critique of Russia’s destruction of its chemical weapons was called out in a detailed report by the respected Clingandael Institute of International Relations. The report, co-funded by the European Union, criticised the United States for adopting an unhelpful politicised approach to the chemical weapons issue in relation to Russia, while hypocritically delaying its own compliance obligations, all of which was done in a manner which bypassed OPCW mechanisms. It’s worth reproducing that entire text in full:

“… on a political level there have been some drawbacks. Particularly interesting is that compliance concerns tend to be raised by the US, while this state is itself being criticized for delays in disarmament. In 2005, the US expressed concern about active offensive CW research and development (R&D) programmes, as well as inaccurate declarations regarding past CW transfers and undeclared CW facilities in Russia, China, Iran, Libya and Sudan. The US decided to address these concerns through bilateral channels, rather than directly engaging formal OPCW mechanisms. In the meantime, the US itself has been criticized for exporting arms classified as ‘toxicological agents’ (notably tear gas) to numerous countries in the Middle East (between 2009–13). Since 9/11, the US has also intensified its R&D on non-lethal chemical agents, along with new means of delivery and dispersal. The CWC (Article II, para. 2) does cover chemical compounds with incapacitating or irritant effects… Taken together with the delay in destroying US CW stockpiles, this has taken a toll on the US’ standing within the CWC, undermining its role as a ‘regime hegemon’. Since these compliance concerns remain unresolved, this has also, ipso facto, affected the authority of the CWC, and hence the OPCW.”

At this point, neither the US nor Britain have offered any actual evidence as to why the OPCW’s verification process regarding Russia’s dismantlement of its chemical weapons capability should be disbelieved.

The OPCW is, of course, the same agency whose independent investigations the West is relying on to determine culpability in major chemical weapons attacks in Syria. Why, then, would the OPCW’s conclusions on Syria be considered gospel truth, while its conclusions on Russia be rejected?

Other states have Novichok capabilities, but the British government doesn’t want to investigate them

The OPCW’s authoritative verdict on Russia’s now destroyed chemical weapons capabilities should be enough to give anyone pause for thought in rushing to judgement concerning Russian responsibility for the Novichok attack.

Instead, the British government appears to have no interest in investigating the fact that there are other state agencies with significant nerve agent capabilities. Like its ally, the United States.

In August 1999, as the BBC reported, US defence experts arrived in Uzbekistan to help “dismantle and decontaminate one of the former Soviet Union’s largest chemical weapons testing facilities.” The facility was known as “a major research site for a new generation of secret, highly lethal chemical weapons, known as Novichok”, and provided the US ample opportunity to learn about this nerve agent and reproduce it for testing and defence purposes.

But it is not just the US. According to Craig Murray — former US Ambassador to Uzbekistan and prior to that a longtime career diplomat in the UK Foreign Office who worked across Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia — the British government itself has advanced capabilities in Novichok:

“The ‘novochok’ group of nerve agents — a very loose term simply for a collection of new nerve agents the Soviet Union were developing fifty years ago — will almost certainly have been analysed and reproduced by Porton Down. That is entirely what Porton Down is there for. It used to make chemical and biological weapons as weapons, and today it still does make them in small quantities in order to research defences and antidotes. After the fall of the Soviet Union Russian chemists made a lot of information available on these nerve agents. And one country which has always manufactured very similar persistent nerve agents is Israel.”

But the British government doesn’t want to investigate Porton Down, not even to rule out the possibility that it may have ‘lost control’ of some of its Novichok stockpiles.

Porton Down: proudly experimenting with nerve gas on the British public from the 1950s to 1989

Perhaps the government is worried about what it might actually discover if it asks too many questions about Porton Down itself.

The facility has a somewhat chequered history in relation to the abuse of chemical and biological weapons programmes that has been largely forgotten. This history illustrates that the British government has not at all been averse to using chemical and biological weapons on its own population, just to see what happens.

Two years ago, the Independent reported on new historical research which found that during the Cold War, the British government “used the general public as unwitting biological and chemical warfare guinea pigs on a much greater scale than previously thought.”

Over 750 secret operations had been carried out on “hundreds of thousands of ordinary Britons” involving “biological and chemical warfare attacks launched from aircraft, ships and road vehicles.”

“British military aircraft dropped thousands of kilos of a chemical of ‘largely unknown toxic potential’ on British civilian populations in and around Salisbury in Wiltshire, Cardington in Bedfordshire and Norwich in Norfolk… Substantial quantities were also dispersed across parts of the English Channel and the North Sea. It’s not known the extent to which coastal towns in England and France were affected… commuters on the London underground were also used as guinea pigs on a substantially larger scale than previously thought. The new research has discovered that a hitherto unknown biological warfare field trial was carried out in the capital’s tube system in May 1964. The secret operation — carried out by scientists from the government’s chemical and biological warfare research centre at Porton Down, Wiltshire — involved the release of large quantities of bacteria called Bacillus globigii…”

The new research also shows that many of the British scientists involved “had grave misgivings about the field trials… some had long felt that it was not politically advisable to conduct large-scale trials in Britain with live bacterial agents.” Such reservations did not stop the government from authorising these dangerous experiments.

Porton Down also conducted extensive nerve agent tests on British soldiers around this time.

Less well-known, though, is the fact that members of the British armed forces “were experimented on with Sarin, the deadly nerve gas, as late as 1983 at the Government’s defence research centre at Porton Down,” according to Ministry of Defence documents obtained by The Telegraph. Operation Antler, as the police investigation into the experiments was called, found that the nerve agent trials had gone on as late as 1989.

A secret British intelligence unit is actively arranging ‘honey trap’ propaganda operations to incriminate ‘adversaries’

There are strong reasons, then, not to fall slavishly in line with the British government’s rush to judgement on Russia.

But this is particularly the case given what we now know about British intelligence service’s disinformation intent and capabilities when dealing with “adversaries.”

National Security Agency documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that a secret British intelligence unit, Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group (JTRIG), uses a range of “dirty tricks” against “nations, hackers, terror groups, suspected criminals and arms dealers that include releasing computer viruses, spying on journalists and diplomats, jamming phones and computers, and using sex to lure targets into ‘honey traps,’” according to a NBC News investigation.

Although much of the focus of these operations is online, they also include the goal of “having an impact in the real world” and “using online techniques to make something happen in the real or online world.” The modus operandi is to “destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt” enemies by “discrediting” them and planting misinformation designed to look like actions were performed by them.

Propaganda campaigns can use deception, mass messaging and “pushing stories” via Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube. One section of the document explains that such influence operations can involve direct efforts to manipulate people’s behaviour into compromising situations:

“Honey trap; a great option. Very successful when it works.

– Get someone to go somewhere on the internet, or a physical location to be met by a ‘friendly face’.

– JTRIG has the ability to ‘shape’ the environment on occasions.”

Such capabilities and operations of deception at the heart of the British state raise perfectly reasonable questions about whether the UK’s intelligence services are deliberately seeking to pin the blame on Russia for geopolitical reasons — or perhaps, even, to distract from scrutiny of allies who might be legitimate suspects.

According to former British diplomat Craig Murray, for instance, it is more reasonable to cast the net of suspicion onto Israel for many of the same reasons cited by the British government:

“Israel has the nerve agents. Israel has Mossad which is extremely skilled at foreign assassinations. Theresa May claimed Russian propensity to assassinate abroad as a specific reason to believe Russia did it. Well Mossad has an even greater propensity to assassinate abroad. And while I am struggling to see a Russian motive for damaging its own international reputation so grieviously, Israel has a clear motivation for damaging the Russian reputation so grieviously. Russian action in Syria has undermined the Israeli position in Syria and Lebanon in a fundamental way, and Israel has every motive for damaging Russia’s international position by an attack aiming to leave the blame on Russia.”

Murray further points out that it is unlikely the Russians “waited eight years to do this, they could have waited until after their World Cup.” Similarly, it makes little sense to suddenly assassinate a “swapped spy” who had already served his time and been living out in the open for years in London.

Murray is no blind Russiaphile, and so his critical analysis cannot be dismissed on grounds of partisanship. He describes himself as “someone who believes that agents of the Russian state did assassinate Litvinenko, and that the Russian security services carried out at least some of the apartment bombings that provided the pretext for the brutal assault on Chechnya. I believe the Russian occupation of Crimea and parts of Georgia is illegal.”

But he cautions that, given the severe lack of credible evidence on this case, he is “alarmed by the security, spying and armaments industries’ frenetic efforts to stoke Russophobia and heat up the new cold war.”

Indeed, INSURGE just reported on an extensive US Army study published last year which not only stated quite unequivocally that NATO expansionism is the main driver of Russian belligerence, but that NATO’s main interest has always been to rollback Russia’s regional influence so that the West can dominate Central Asian natural resources and oil pipeline routes.

The document recommended that in 2018, the US should consider pursuing a concerted “information” campaign to undermine Putin.

Is this what we are seeing play out right now as Theresa May rushes to punish Putin?

This leaves us with the following. The actual history of Novichok shows that out of the countries discussed here, Russia is the only state to have been certified by the OPCW as having destroyed its chemical weapons programme, including its nerve agent capabilities. The OPCW found no evidence to indicate that Russia retains an active Novichoc capability. The same is not the case for the US, Britain and Israel.

There is no legitimate reason for the British authorities to rule out that any of these states could have at the very least ‘lost control’ of their nerve agent stockpiles. The fact that the government chose, instead, to shut down all avenues of inquiry other than to claim falsely that the “only possibility” is for all roads to lead to Russia, demonstrates that we are almost certainly in the midst of a concerted state propaganda operation.

It may turn out that Russia did indeed carry out the Novichok attack. But at this time, the British state has no real basis to presume this. Which implies that the state has already decided that it wants to manufacture a path to heightened hostilities with Russia, regardless of the evidence. And that does not bode well.

israel’s Online Shadow Operations

Israel’s Online Shadow Operations

Numerous well funded, organized projects by and for Israel work to flood social media with pro-Israel propaganda, while blocking facts Israel dislikes. The projects utilize Israeli soldiers, students, American teens and others, and range from infiltrating Wikipedia to influencing YouTube. Some operate out of Jewish Community Centers in the U.S.

Another project to do battle on the Internet was initiated in 2011 by the 300,000-strong National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS). The goal was “to deepen and expand hasbara [state propaganda] activities of students in the State of Israel.”

Under this program, Israeli students are paid $2,000 to work five hours per week to “lead the battle against hostile websites.”

An announcement for the program (translated here into English) noted that “many students in Israel master the Internet and are proficient at using the Internet and social networking and various sites and are required to write and express themselves in English.” Students can work from the comfort of their own homes, points out the announcement.

“Students work in four teams: Content, Wikipedia, Monitoring and New Media,” according to the program description. It details the responsibilities for each team:

The content team is responsible for creating original content in a news format.

The monitoring team is responsible for “monitoring efforts while reporting and removing anti-Semitic [sic] content from social networks in a variety of languages.” (The program conflates criticism of Israel with antisemitism; see below.)

The New Media team is responsible for social media channels, “including Facebook accounts in English, French and Portuguese, Twitter, YouTube channels, and so on.”

The Wikipedia team is “responsible for writing new entries and translating them into languages that operate in the program, updating the values of current and relevant information, tracking and preventing bias in the program’s areas of activity.”

This program sometimes claims it is working against antisemitism, but it conflates antisemitism with criticism of the state of Israel. This is in line with an Israel-backed initiative to legally define “antisemitism” to include discussing negative facts about Israel and its treatment of Palestinians.

 

The campaign to infiltrate Wikipedia

Several years ago, another project came to light that targeted Wikipedia. While manipulating Wikipedia entries doesn’t directly impact YouTube, it provides a window into some of these efforts to manipulate online content.

A 2008 exposé in the Electronic Intifada revealed: “A pro-Israel pressure group is orchestrating a secret, long-term campaign to infiltrate the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia.”

While it is common and appropriate for individuals to edit Wikipedia entries to add factual information and remove inaccurate statements, this project was the antithesis of such editing. As EI, reported, its purpose was “to rewrite Palestinian history, pass off crude propaganda as fact, and take over Wikipedia administrative structures to ensure these changes go either undetected or unchallenged.”

Author Ali Abunimah reported that a source had provided EI with a series of emails from members and associates of the pro-Israel group CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) that showed the group “was engaged in what one activist termed a ‘war’ on Wikipedia.”

CAMERA Senior Research Analyst Gilead Ini organized a project to infiltrate Wikipedia<img class=”size-full wp-image-238672″ src=”https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/SvS3uB_g.jpg” alt=”CAMERA Senior Research Analyst Gilead Ini organized a project to infiltrate Wikipedia” width=”512″ height=”512″ srcset=”https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/SvS3uB_g.jpg 512w, https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/SvS3uB_g-150×150.jpg 150w, https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/SvS3uB_g-300×300.jpg 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 512px) 100vw, 512px” />

CAMERA Senior Research Analyst Gilead Ini organized a project to infiltrate Wikipedia

CAMERA called for volunteers to secretly work on editing Wikipedia entries. It emphasized the importance of keeping the project secret. Volunteers were schooled in ways to elude detection. After they signed up as editors, they were to “avoid editing Israel-related articles for a short period of time.”

They were also told to “avoid, for obvious reasons, picking a username that marks you as pro-Israel, or that lets people know your real name.”

CAMERA also warned them: “Don’t forget to always log in… If you make changes while not logged in, Wikipedia will record your computer’s IP address.”

A Wikipedia editor known as Zeq helped in the effort, telling volunteers: “Edit articles at random, make friends not enemies—we will need them later on. This is a marathon not a sprint.” He emphasized the importance of secrecy: “You don’t want to be precived [sic] as a ‘CAMERA’ defender’ on Wikipedia that is for sure.”

Zeq recommended that they work with and learn from an independent, pro-Israel Wikipedia editor known as Jayjg, but directed them to keep the project secret even from him.

When this all came to light, Wikipedia took measures against such manipulation of its system and the CAMERA program may have ended.

If it did, others stepped into the breach. In 2010 two Israeli groups began offering a course in “Zionist editing” of Wikipedia entries. The aim was “to make sure that information in the online encyclopedia reflects the worldview of Zionist groups.” A course organizer explained that the use of the word “occupied” in Wikipedia entries “was just the kind of problem she hoped a new team of editors could help fix.”

Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper reported: “The organizers’ aim was twofold: to affect Israeli public opinion by having people who share their ideological viewpoint take part in writing and editing for the Hebrew version, and to write in English so Israel’s image can be bolstered abroad.”

There was to be a prize for the “Best Zionist Editor”—the person who over the next four years incorporated the most “Zionist” changes in the encyclopedia. The winner would receive a trip in a hot-air balloon over Israel.

Watch | Millionaire Naftali Bennett, a right-wing minister close to the settler movement, describes the program:

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/wIYhE-hei2Y?rel=0&showinfo=0

The UK Guardian reports: “One Jerusalem-based Wikipedia editor, who doesn’t want to be named, said that publicising the initiative might not be such a good idea. ‘Going public in the past has had a bad effect,’ she says. ‘There is a war going on and unfortunately, the way to fight it has to be underground.’”

Again in 2013, there was evidence of pro-Israel tampering with Wikipedia. Israel’s Ha’aretz reported that a social-media employee of NGO Monitor edited articles about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an allegedly biased manner. “Draiman concealed the facts that he was an employee of NGO Monitor, often described as a right-wing group, and that he was using a second username, which is forbidden under Wikipedia’s rules,” according to the paper.

Such actions have had an impact. A website critical of Wikipedia said in 2014 that there were “almost ten times as many articles about murdered Israeli children as there are articles about murdered Palestinian children,” even though at least 10 times more Palestinian children had been killed.

The website also pointed out: “While editors like Zeq (TCL) and CltFn (TCL) may get banned in the end, the articles they started remain.”

If YouTube reviewers and others use Wikipedia in their determination about whether content should be removed or not, these efforts to censor Wikipedia could adversely affect their decisions.

 

Social Media Missions for Israel

Title image from Forward article about the Act.IL campaign.<img class=”size-full wp-image-238673″ src=”https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-07-10.27.43.png” alt=”Title image from Forward article about the Act.IL campaign.” width=”1024″ height=”422″ srcset=”https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-07-10.27.43.png 1024w, https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-07-10.27.43-300×124.png 300w, https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-07-10.27.43-768×317.png 768w, https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-07-10.27.43-800×330.png 800w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px” />

Image from Forward article about the Act.IL campaign.

In 2017 yet another project to target Internet platforms was launched. Known as Act.il, the project uses a software application that “leverages the power of communities to support Israel through organized online activity.”

The software is a joint venture of three groups: Israel’s IDC University; the Israeli American Council, which works to “organize and activate” the half million Israeli-Americans who live in the U.S.; and another American group called the Maccabee Task Force, created to combat the international boycott of Israel, which it terms “an anti-Semitic movement.” Maccabee says it is “laser focused on one core mission—to ensure that those who seek to delegitimize Israel and demonize the Jewish people are confronted, combatted and defeated.”

Image from Maccabee end of year report.<img class=”size-full wp-image-238674″ src=”https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/MaccabeeGraphic.png” alt=”Image from Maccabee end of year report.” width=”728″ height=”381″ srcset=”https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/MaccabeeGraphic.png 728w, https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/MaccabeeGraphic-300×157.png 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px” />

Image from Maccabee end of year report.

In addition, the project is supported by Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry and Israel’s intelligence community. Its CEO is an eight-year veteran of Israeli army intelligence.

Israel’s Jerusalem Post reports that Act.IL is “a wide-ranging grassroots campaign app that lets individuals combat BDS in the palm of their hand” or, as we will see, from public computers in the US.

“Act.IL is more than just an app,” the Post article explains. “It is a campaign that taps into the collective knowledge of IDC students who together speak 35 languages, hail from 86 countries and have connections to the pro-Israel community all over the world.”

The article claims: “A platform like Act.IL offers world Jewry an opportunity to fight for one thing the majority can rally behind: Israel.” (This ignores the fact that there are many Jewish individuals who oppose Israeli policies.)

Israel partisans around the world download the app, and then “in this virtual situation room of experts, they detect instances where Israel is being assailed online and they program the app to find missions that can be carried out with a push of a button.”

An organizer notes: “When you work together, with the same goals and values, you can be incredibly powerful in the social media landscape.”

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/2zbcEcSYcS8?rel=0&showinfo=0

Some missions ask users to report videos. Israeli government officials say that the Act.il app “is more effective than official government requests at getting those videos removed from online platforms.”

The project is led by former Israeli intelligence officers and has close ties to American casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Another funder is the Paul R. Singer Foundation, funded by the Republican hedge fund billionaire.

The Forward calls Act.IL a new entry into the “online propaganda war” that “has thousands of mostly U.S.-based volunteers who can be directed from Israel into a social media swarm.”

According to the Forward, “Its work so far offers a startling glimpse of how it could shape the online conversations about Israel without ever showing its hand.”

The Forward reports: “Act.il says that its app has 12,000 sign-ups so far, and 6,000 regular users. The users are located all over the world, though the majority of them appear to be in the United States. Users get ‘points’ for completed missions; top-ranked users complete five or six missions a day. Top users win prizes: a congratulatory letter from a government minister, or a doll of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding prime minister.”

<img class=”wp-image-9560 size-full” src=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Act.IL-training-img.png?resize=498%2C347&ssl=1″ sizes=”(max-width: 498px) 100vw, 498px” srcset=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Act.IL-training-img.png?w=498&ssl=1 498w, https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Act.IL-training-img.png?resize=300%2C209&ssl=1 300w” alt=”Photo of group that participated in Act.IL training” width=”498″ height=”347″ data-attachment-id=”9560″ data-permalink=”https://israelpalestinenews.org/israel-partisans-work-censor-internet/act-il-training-img/” data-orig-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Act.IL-training-img.png?fit=498%2C347&ssl=1″ data-orig-size=”498,347″ data-comments-opened=”0″ data-image-meta=”{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}” data-image-title=”Act.IL training-img” data-image-description=”” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Act.IL-training-img.png?fit=300%2C209&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Act.IL-training-img.png?fit=498%2C347&ssl=1″ />

Act.IL’s CEO, a veteran Israeli army intelligence officer, said the Israeli military and its domestic intelligence service “‘request’ Act.il’s help in getting services like Facebook to remove specific videos that call for violence against Jews or Israelis.” This according to the Forward report.

The officer later tried to walk back his statement, “saying that the Shin Bet [intelligence service] and the army don’t request help on specific videos but are in regular informal contact with Act.il. He said that Act.il’s staff is largely made up of former Israeli intelligence officers.

 

Teens in American JCCs carry out missions assigned from Israel

The project recruits Jewish teens and adults and sometimes operates out of local Jewish community centers, the Forward says. The paper describes one example:
<img class=”size-full wp-image-238677″ src=”https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IAC.NJ-MediaRoom.jpg” alt=”New Jersey “Media Room,” a project of IAC New Jersey in partnership with Act.IL.” width=”460″ height=”330″ srcset=”https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IAC.NJ-MediaRoom.jpg 460w, https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IAC.NJ-MediaRoom-300×215.jpg 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 460px) 100vw, 460px” />

“The dozen or so Israelis sitting around a conference table at a Jewish community center in Tenafly, New Jersey, on a recent Wednesday night didn’t look like the leading edge of a new Israeli government-linked crowdsourced online propaganda campaign.

“Tapping on laptops, the group of high school students and adult mentors completed social media ‘missions’ assigned out of a headquarters in Herzliya, Israel.”

In addition to the Tenafly “media room” another operates in Boston in cooperation with the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston. There are also regular Act.il advocacy-training sessions at The Frisch School, a Jewish day school in Paramas, New Jersey. Other media rooms are reportedly in the works, with one in Manhattan, hosted by The Paul R. Singer Foundation, scheduled to open soon.

The Forward reports: “In November, the Boston media room created a mission for the app that asked users to email a Boston-area church to complain about a screening there of a documentary that is critical of Israel. The proposed text of the email likens the screening of the film to the white supremacist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, and calls the film’s narrator, Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, a ‘well-known anti-Semite.’”

 Boston Media Room <img class=”wp-image-9588 size-full” src=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/BostonMediaRoom.jpg?resize=728%2C485&ssl=1″ sizes=”(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px” srcset=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/BostonMediaRoom.jpg?w=762&ssl=1 762w, https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/BostonMediaRoom.jpg?resize=300%2C200&ssl=1 300w, https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/BostonMediaRoom.jpg?resize=272%2C182&ssl=1 272w” alt=” Boston Media Room ” width=”728″ height=”485″ data-attachment-id=”9588″ data-permalink=”https://israelpalestinenews.org/israel-partisans-work-censor-internet/bostonmediaroom/” data-orig-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/BostonMediaRoom.jpg?fit=762%2C508&ssl=1″ data-orig-size=”762,508″ data-comments-opened=”0″ data-image-meta=”{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}” data-image-title=”BostonMediaRoom” data-image-description=”” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/BostonMediaRoom.jpg?fit=300%2C200&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/BostonMediaRoom.jpg?fit=728%2C485&ssl=1″ />

Photo of Boston Media Room published by Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, which states: “Media Room Ambassadors are students and adult mentors who are trained with the knowledge, skills, and tools to positively influence public discourse by developing pro-Israel social media campaigns.”

According to the Forward, Act.il also produces “pro-Israel web content that carries no logo. It distributes that content to other pro-Israel groups, including the Adelson-funded Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi and The Israel Project, which push them out on their own social media feeds.”The Forward predicts: “Initiatives in cyberspace seem likely to increase.”

<img class=”wp-image-9589 size-large” src=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?resize=728%2C410&ssl=1″ sizes=”(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px” srcset=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?resize=1024%2C576&ssl=1 1024w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?resize=300%2C169&ssl=1 300w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?resize=768%2C432&ssl=1 768w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?resize=728%2C410&ssl=1 728w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?resize=344%2C193&ssl=1 344w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?resize=400%2C225&ssl=1 400w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?resize=180%2C100&ssl=1 180w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?w=1439&ssl=1 1439w” alt=”” width=”728″ height=”410″ data-attachment-id=”9589″ data-permalink=”https://israelpalestinenews.org/israel-partisans-work-censor-internet/screenshot-2018-03-08-06-28-15/” data-orig-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?fit=1439%2C810&ssl=1″ data-orig-size=”1439,810″ data-comments-opened=”0″ data-image-meta=”{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}” data-image-title=”Screenshot 2018-03-08 06.28.15″ data-image-description=”” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?fit=300%2C169&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?fit=728%2C410&ssl=1″ />

Screenshot from video promoting the project, posted on the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston website.

Israeli media report that the Israeli military “has begun scouring Jewish communities abroad for young computer prodigies” to recruit for its ranks.

An Israeli official described the process: “Our first order of business is to search Jewish communities abroad for teens who could qualify, Our representatives will then travel to the communities and begin the screening process there.”

 

Israeli Government Ministry backs secret online campaigns

<img class=”wp-image-9566 size-full” src=”https://i0.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Sima-Vaknin-Gil.jpeg?resize=700%2C467&ssl=1″ sizes=”(max-width: 700px) 100vw, 700px” srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Sima-Vaknin-Gil.jpeg?w=700&ssl=1 700w, https://i0.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Sima-Vaknin-Gil.jpeg?resize=300%2C200&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Sima-Vaknin-Gil.jpeg?resize=272%2C182&ssl=1 272w” alt=”” width=”700″ height=”467″ data-attachment-id=”9566″ data-permalink=”https://israelpalestinenews.org/israel-partisans-work-censor-internet/sima-vaknin-gil/” data-orig-file=”https://i0.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Sima-Vaknin-Gil.jpeg?fit=700%2C467&ssl=1″ data-orig-size=”700,467″ data-comments-opened=”0″ data-image-meta=”{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}” data-image-title=”Sima Vaknin-Gil” data-image-description=”” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Sima-Vaknin-Gil.jpeg?fit=300%2C200&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Sima-Vaknin-Gil.jpeg?fit=700%2C467&ssl=1″ />

General Sima Vaknin-Gil told Israeli tech developers to “flood the Internet” with pro-Israel propaganda. As Israel’s Chief Censor, she said: ” “We censor information that is critical to our enemies, who have no capabilities like us, do not have a Jewish brain, and therefore our enemy relies to a large extent on open information…”

Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry, which is behind this and similar projects, has mobilized substantial resources for online activities.Israel’s Ynet news reports that the Ministry’s director “sees it as a war for all intents and purposes. ‘The delegitimization against the State of Israel can be curbed and contained through public diplomacy and soft tools,’ she says. ‘In order to win, however, we must use tricks and craftiness.’”

The director, General Sima Vaknin-Gil, told a forum of Israeli tech developers at a forum: “I want to create a community of fighters.” The objective is to “curb the activities of anti-Israel activists,” and “flood the Internet” with pro-Israel content.

<img class=”wp-image-238681″ src=”https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ChampionTower-e1520525181254.jpg” alt=”” width=”457″ height=”609″ srcset=”https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ChampionTower-e1520525181254.jpg 768w, https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ChampionTower-e1520525181254-225×300.jpg 225w” sizes=”(max-width: 457px) 100vw, 457px” />

The 29th floor of Tel Aviv’s Champion Tower is the nerve center of a 24-7 ‘war’ in which Israeli agents working behind the scenes advance U.S. legislation, torpedo events, organize counter-protests, & close bank accounts.. The Director says: ‘In order to win we must use tricks and craftiness.’

An Israeli report in December stated that the ministry has acquired a budget of roughly $70 million to “stand at the forefront of the battle against delegitimization, adopting methods from the fields of intelligence and technology. There is a reason why ministry officials define it as ‘a war on consciousness terrorism.’” [‘Delegitimization’ is a common Israeli term for criticism of Israel. See here for a discussion of the term.]

Ha’aretz article reports: “The Strategic Affairs Ministry’s leaders see themselves as the heads of a commando unit, gathering and disseminating information about ‘supporters of the delegitimization of Israel’—and they prefer their actions be kept secret.”

The article reports that the Ministry includes a job role entitled “Senior official—new-media realm,” responsible for surveillance and activities “in the digital realm.”

This individual head is responsible for analyzing social media and formulating a social media campaign against sites and activists who are deemed a threat to Israel.

Among the job’s responsibilities are:

Analysis of the world of social media, in terms of content, technology and network structure, emphasizing centers of gravity and focuses of influence, methods, messages, organizations, sites and key activists, studying their characteristics, areas, realms and key patterns of activities of the rival campaign and formulating a strategy for an awareness campaign against them in this realm and managing crises on social media. That is, surveilling of activities mainly in the digital arena.”

Officials at the ministry are charged with “construction and promotion of creative and suitable programs for new media.”

The unit works to keep its activities secret from the public. For example, a program to train young Israelis for activities on social media was exempted from publishing a public bid for funding. Similarly, the ministry’s special unit against delegitimization, “Hama’aracha” (The Battle), is excluded from Israel’s Freedom of Information Law.

Its activities reportedly include a “24/7 operations room monitoring all the delegitimization activities against Israel: Protests, conferences, publications calling for an anti-Israel boycott and international bodies’ boycott initiatives. The operations room will transfer the information to the relevant people to provide a proper response to these activities, whether through a counter-protest or through moves to thwart the initiative behind the scenes.”

Other programs include a 22-million-shekel project to work among labor unions and professional associations abroad “to root out the ability of BDS entities to influence the unions,” and a 16-million-shekel program focused on student activities throughout the world.

 

Israel’s UNIT 8200

<img class=”wp-image-9592 size-full” src=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Unit8200.jpg?resize=678%2C326&ssl=1″ sizes=”(max-width: 678px) 100vw, 678px” srcset=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Unit8200.jpg?w=678&ssl=1 678w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Unit8200.jpg?resize=300%2C144&ssl=1 300w” alt=”” width=”678″ height=”326″ data-attachment-id=”9592″ data-permalink=”https://israelpalestinenews.org/israel-partisans-work-censor-internet/unit8200/” data-orig-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Unit8200.jpg?fit=678%2C326&ssl=1″ data-orig-size=”678,326″ data-comments-opened=”0″ data-image-meta=”{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}” data-image-title=”Unit8200″ data-image-description=”” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Unit8200.jpg?fit=300%2C144&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Unit8200.jpg?fit=678%2C326&ssl=1″ />

Photo from article about Unit 8200 on Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre website.

Another Israeli entity that plays a role in covert Internet activity is the Israeli military’s legendary high-tech spy branch, Unit 8200. This unit is composed of thousands of “cyber warriors” primarily 18 to 21 years of age; some even younger. A number of its graduates have gone on to top positions at tech companies operating in the U.S., such as Check Point Software (where the spouse of the Jewish Voice for Peace head is employed as a solutions architect).

In 2015 Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced plans “to establish a special command to combat anti-Israel incitement on social media.” The command would operate under the foreign ministry’s hasbara [propaganda] department and would especially recruit from graduates of Unit 8200.

An article in the Jewish Press about the new command reports that Unit 8200 “has developed a great reputation for effectiveness in intelligence gathering, including operating a massive global spy network. Several alumni of 8200 have gone on to establish leading Israeli IT companies, including Check Point, ICQ, Palo Alto Networks, NICE, AudioCodes, Gilat, Leadspace, EZchip, Onavo, Singular and CyberArk.”

<img class=”wp-image-9439 size-large” src=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?resize=728%2C410&ssl=1″ sizes=”(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px” srcset=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?resize=1024%2C576&ssl=1 1024w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?resize=300%2C169&ssl=1 300w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?resize=768%2C432&ssl=1 768w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?resize=728%2C410&ssl=1 728w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?resize=344%2C193&ssl=1 344w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?resize=400%2C225&ssl=1 400w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?resize=180%2C100&ssl=1 180w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?w=1280&ssl=1 1280w” alt=”” width=”728″ height=”410″ data-attachment-id=”9439″ data-permalink=”https://israelpalestinenews.org/israel-partisans-work-censor-internet/check_point_hq_tel-aviv/” data-orig-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?fit=1280%2C720&ssl=1″ data-orig-size=”1280,720″ data-comments-opened=”0″ data-image-meta=”{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}” data-image-title=”Check_point_hq_Tel Aviv” data-image-description=”” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?fit=300%2C169&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?fit=728%2C410&ssl=1″ />

Check Point Software headquarters in Tel Aviv. Founded by a former Unit 8200 member, it also has offices throughout the U.S. Israeli tech companies sometimes assist in online spying efforts.

Numerous Israeli tech companies, many of them headed by former military intelligence officers, assist in these online spying efforts, sometimes receiving Israeli government funding “for digital initiatives aimed at gathering intelligence on activist groups and countering their efforts.”

According to the ministry’s statement, among the Command’s activities is finding videos with inflammatory content and issuing complaints to the relevant websites.”

To be clear, this is an occupying military working covertly to achieve censorship of reporting on its atrocities.

 

YouTube & Google officials meet with Israeli Minister

<img class=”wp-image-9436 size-large” src=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-27-15.46.20.png?resize=728%2C374&ssl=1″ sizes=”(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px” srcset=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-27-15.46.20.png?resize=1024%2C526&ssl=1 1024w, https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-27-15.46.20.png?resize=300%2C154&ssl=1 300w, https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-27-15.46.20.png?resize=768%2C394&ssl=1 768w, https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-27-15.46.20.png?w=1114&ssl=1 1114w” alt=”” width=”728″ height=”373″ data-attachment-id=”9436″ data-permalink=”https://israelpalestinenews.org/israel-partisans-work-censor-internet/screenshot-2018-02-27-15-46-20/” data-orig-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-27-15.46.20.png?fit=1114%2C572&ssl=1″ data-orig-size=”1114,572″ data-comments-opened=”0″ data-image-meta=”{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}” data-image-title=”Screenshot 2018-02-27 15.46.20″ data-image-description=”” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-27-15.46.20.png?fit=300%2C154&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-27-15.46.20.png?fit=728%2C374&ssl=1″ />

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki speaking to the Israel Collaboration Network’s Israeli Women in Tech Group on August 25, 2016.

Major Internet companies have reportedly been cooperating in this effort.

In 2015 Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely announced that she had visited Silicon Valley and met with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and Google’s Director of Public Policy (it is unclear whether this was was Jennifer Oztzistzki or Juniper Downs; Hotovely’s announcement referred to “Jennifer Downs”).

“At the end of the meeting,” Israeli media reported, “it was agreed that Google would strengthen bilateral relations with the Foreign Ministry and build a collaborative work apparatus.”

Another Israeli news report about the meeting states: “…it was agreed that the companies would strengthen ties with the Foreign Ministry and build a regular mechanism of control to prevent the distribution of those incendiary materials on the network.”

Google, which owns YouTube, denied the Foreign Ministry’s report. The Ministry accordingly “clarified” its statement somewhat, but continued to say that Israeli officials would be in “regular contact with Google’s employees in Israel who deal with the problematic materials.”

Such officials often have close ties to Israel. For example, Facebook’s Head of Policy in Israel,Jordana Cutler, had previously been employed for many years by the Israeli government. (More about Facebook can be found here.)

<img class=”wp-image-9443 size-full” src=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-28-09.57.43.png?resize=543%2C716&ssl=1″ sizes=”(max-width: 543px) 100vw, 543px” srcset=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-28-09.57.43.png?w=543&ssl=1 543w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-28-09.57.43.png?resize=228%2C300&ssl=1 228w” alt=”” width=”543″ height=”716″ data-attachment-id=”9443″ data-permalink=”https://israelpalestinenews.org/israel-partisans-work-censor-internet/screenshot-2018-02-28-09-57-43/” data-orig-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-28-09.57.43.png?fit=543%2C716&ssl=1″ data-orig-size=”543,716″ data-comments-opened=”0″ data-image-meta=”{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}” data-image-title=”Screenshot 2018-02-28 09.57.43″ data-image-description=”” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-28-09.57.43.png?fit=228%2C300&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-28-09.57.43.png?fit=543%2C716&ssl=1″ />

The Linkedin page for Facebook’s Jordana Cutler

The meetings seem to have had a significant effect.

In 2016 Fortune magazine reported: “Facebook, Google, and YouTube are complying with up to 95% of Israeli requests to delete content that the government says incites Palestinian violence, Israel’s Justice Minister said on Monday.”

More recently, the Israeli Ministry of Justice said that its cyber unit handled 2,241 cases of online content and succeeded in getting 70 percent of it removed.

According to a 2017 report, Google, in its capacity as the operator of Youtube, announced that it was updating the steps it was already taking on this score.

Among other things, Google said it would increase the number of members of the “Trusted Flagger program,” which enables certain organizations and government agencies to report content. It also said it would “increase support for NGOs and organizations working to present a ‘corrective voice.’”

Given the record of infiltration and orchestrated activities described above—many financed by a combination of certain influential billionaires and the Israeli government itself—it’s hard to imagine that Israeli organizations and partisans are not thoroughly embedded in this program. In fact, one of the NGOs already working with YouTube as a “trusted flagger” is the Anti-Defamation League, whose mission includes ‘standing up for Israel.’

<img class=”wp-image-9567 size-full” src=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ADLIsrael.jpg?resize=480%2C280&ssl=1″ sizes=”(max-width: 480px) 100vw, 480px” srcset=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ADLIsrael.jpg?w=480&ssl=1 480w, https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ADLIsrael.jpg?resize=300%2C175&ssl=1 300w” alt=”” width=”480″ height=”280″ data-attachment-id=”9567″ data-permalink=”https://israelpalestinenews.org/israel-partisans-work-censor-internet/adlisrael/” data-orig-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ADLIsrael.jpg?fit=480%2C280&ssl=1″ data-orig-size=”480,280″ data-comments-opened=”0″ data-image-meta=”{"aperture":"6.3","credit":"","camera":"Canon EOS 5D Mark III","caption":"","created_timestamp":"1496576482","copyright":"","focal_length":"33","iso":"500","shutter_speed":"0.008","title":"","orientation":"0"}” data-image-title=”ADLIsrael” data-image-description=”” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ADLIsrael.jpg?fit=300%2C175&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ADLIsrael.jpg?fit=480%2C280&ssl=1″ />

Anti-Defamation League celebrates Israel at 2017 New York City parade.

A leaked secret January 2017 ADL working paper detailed how to counter the pro-Palestine movement. Among its many strategies were some focused on the importance of efforts in cyber space.

The paper was produced in collaboration with the Reut Institute, an Israeli think tank, and included an endorsement by Sima Vaknin-Gil, who stated that “the correlation between the Ministry’s mode of operation and what comes out of this document is very high, and has already proven effective… ”

<img class=”m_-5396019248760744276gmail- m_-5396019248760744276gmail-wp-image-9622 CToWUd a6T alignleft” tabindex=”0″ src=”https://ci6.googleusercontent.com/proxy/voXh3P22k7oVJYy4KRbTJzJbjb8jfv9rtFigjlkRSNBkIEjbYdFfrOwChK9gx1znHV36_osAGkPwblhTZhV0LSI3jENSwalvolgT9CWfRtJCdSAfj-pzzskvPEM05cTXCcC5jCskO-fAHBDR9mTscfibWWq3FGIGIJMu-IYOInr7d8sGSk2XEidwaooYws5lM2UxGg=s0-d-e1-ft#https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-09-08.23.25.png?resize=328%2C425&ssl=1″ alt=”” width=”328″ height=”426″ />

The document’s executive summary noted: “Cyberspace, broadly defined, stands out as a crucially important arena (for monitoring and counter and pro-active strategies) which requires more resources and attention due to its current influence, rapid growth and growing complexity.”

The paper called for “a mix of policy advocacy and industry engagement with corporations such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter in a manner consistent with the ADL Center for Technology and Society and its Anti-Cyberhate Working Group.”

The paper also recommended: “‘Bottom-up efforts’ of crowd-sourcing to enhance the adaptive capacity of the pro-Israel network.”

At the same time, it urged:

Strengthening pro-Israel organizations that mobilize and coordinate a network of ‘nodes’ e.g. Jewish Community Public Affairs (JCPA) and its network of Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRCs) in the USA; Hillel, which is present in nearly five hundred locations in the U.S. and globally; the Israel Action Network (IAN) that reaches nearly 160 federations in the U.S.; or the Jewish Congress (WJC) that represents dozens of Jewish communities around the world.”

The detailed, 32-page document reported that in recent years “a massive investment of resources and talent” had been directed against the pro-Palestine movement. One of the results, the paper said, was to create a “world-wide pro-Israel network.” It was this network that the report wished to mobilize. One of the paper’s concerns was that since Israel’s 2014  attack on Gaza “a growing number of Jews have become more critical of Israel.”

The document recommended a degree of stealth, noting: “high-visibility response by the pro-Israel side can be counterproductive.”

Read the ADL’s 2017 report The Assault on Israel’s Legitimacy

 

What this means

Nevertheless, despite all these forces arrayed against information about Palestine reaching the American public, our channel is back up on YouTube. In fact, we’ve just uploaded a new video:

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/k4JyxJ2SPYY?rel=0&showinfo=0

This one is about the death of a nine-year-old boy. [Perhaps the Israeli government would consider this incitement to Palestinians to rebel against occupation; we see it as incitement to the world in general, and Americans in particular, to care.]

In other words, Israel’s efforts at censorship don’t always succeed.

But sometimes they do, and other YouTube users have not always been so fortunate. For example, YouTube has terminated several Palestinian news organizations.

One was the al-Quds network, which, according to a report in Middle East Eye, “relies on young reporters and volunteers using phones and other digital devices to cover local news across the Palestinian territories.” They would often report Israeli soldiers committing various human rights violations.

Its YouTube channel was terminated in 2011, and its editor says they had to “to create a new channel from scratch.” By 2017 its new channel had gained almost 10 million views before it was suddenly suspended without warning again last October. It now, however, appears to have a YouTube channel in operation.

According to the MEE report, YouTube also suspended the Filisten al-Youm TV channel last August, and in 2013, apparently following complaints by the Anti-Defamation League, YouTube closed down Iran’s PressTV channel. (A Press TV YouTube channel now also appears to be available again.)

Palestinian social media users risk even greater consequences.

The Israeli government has arrested Palestinians for videos, poems, and other posts it dislikes. A 2016 report estimated that “more than 150 arrests took place between October and February 2016 based on Facebook posts expressing opinions on the uprising. A recent video posted on social media led to the imprisonment of a 16 year old girl, her mother and cousin.

In addition, Palestinian access to social media is somewhat controlled by Israel. As a Huffington Post article reports, ”Palestinians’ digital rights and access to the Internet are compromised in very basic ways, because Israel controls the infrastructure and services of Palestinian telecommunication companies in the West Bank.”

While the situation has greatly improved in recent years – the Israeli government finally announced in 2016 that it would allow Palestinians in the West Bank to access 3G wireless networks, making this one of the last regions in the world with such access after years of Israeli restrictions – it is important to remember the enormous power Israel wields over this largely captive population.

While Israel is able to organize entire campaigns to filter and flood social media, its immense control over Palestinians impedes their access to the same media.

Given these facts, it is extremely important for people to search out information for themselves, go directly to our websites and others, subscribe to diverse email lists, and not rely on social media for information. [Please subscribe to our news posts here.]

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and others are private companies. In the end, they have the power to censor information, and they periodically do so. For a few days, we felt acutely what that was like. If Facebook had joined the ban, as has happened with others, we would have been even more cut off from what is essentially today’s “public square.”

The Internet and social media give us far more access to information and tools for communication and activism than ever before, but they, too, can be controlled—and they are.

It is up to us, as always, to overcome.

Top Photo | An Israeli soldier looks at the Facebook page of the IDF, at the IDF spokesperson’s office in Jerusalem, in the Occupied Territories. (AP/Sebastian Scheiner)

Alison Weir is an author and activist.  Her book, Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel is an Amazon best-seller and has been called a “must-read for all Americans.” Learn more about it here.

IN PHOTOS: WHITE HELMETS MEDIA STUDIO PRODUCING “EVIDENCE OF ASSAD REGIME WAR CRIMES”

South Front

A pro-government media activist, Penelope Stafyla, has released a series of photos reportedly showing a media studio of the White Helmets, which produces “evidence of Assad regime war crimes” in the Eastern Ghouta region, near the Syrian capital of Damascus.

These photos are especially interesting amid criculating reports about a new “chemical attack” by the “Assad regime” in Eastern Ghouta. The new “chemical attack” came amid large gains by government forces against militants groups in the area and allegedly injured over 30 people.

For example, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported the alleged incident citing a report by the White Helments (source):

At least 30 people were treated for breathing difficulties after a regime chlorine gas attack in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, according to a Syrian civil defense agency on Tuesday.

Several children and women were among the victims of the attack in Hamuriye town on Monday, the White Helmets said in a statement.

The civil defense agency said two of its rescue workers were among the casualties.

In Photos: White Helmets Media Studio Producing "Evidence Of Assad Regime War Crimes"

Click to see the full-size image

In Photos: White Helmets Media Studio Producing "Evidence Of Assad Regime War Crimes"

Click to see the full-size image

In Photos: White Helmets Media Studio Producing "Evidence Of Assad Regime War Crimes"

Click to see the full-size image

In Photos: White Helmets Media Studio Producing "Evidence Of Assad Regime War Crimes"

Click to see the full-size image

In Photos: White Helmets Media Studio Producing "Evidence Of Assad Regime War Crimes"

Click to see the full-size image

In Photos: White Helmets Media Studio Producing "Evidence Of Assad Regime War Crimes"

Click to see the full-size image

Related News

عودة «المنار»

Image result for ‫المنار»‬‎

عودة «المنار»

مارس 6, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– ليس المكان ولا المجال ولا الوقت ولا المصلحة للخوض في التفاصيل، فالخبر كافٍ بذاته للاحتفال. عودة قناة «المنار» إلى مشاهديها وجمهورها على الأقمار الصناعية، بعد تغييب مفتعَل وعقابي على خيارها المقاوم. وهي تعود شعلة لا تنطفئ كصوت للمقاومة إلى جانب زميلات لها وقفت مع خط المقاومة، ولا تزال، وقدّمت تعويضاً مميّزاً ولافتاً لغياب «المنار» وستواصل الإضافة النوعية. وهنا تحضر قناة «الميادين» في المقام الأول، لكن عودة «المنار» حدث لا ينعزل عن حاجة جمهورها لحضورها، وما تقدّم له من خدمة إعلامية حية مميّزة في ميادين الإعلام الحربي الذي تفوّقت به، كما في مجال الإعلام الملتزم بشرح خط سياسي مقاوم وتحليل مواقف وخلفيات، بلا الحاجة للمرور في اختبارات إثبات الحياد كمظلة لا بدّ منها لسواها.

– يذكر جمهور المقاومة «المنار» في حرب تموز ويذكرها في الحرب السورية، ويحفظ لها المقاومون في قلوبهم مكانة خاصة، كما لا يعوّض غيابها أداء مميّز لزميلة أو شقيقة، كقناة «العالم» التي تستحق التحية ومعها مراسلوها في ميادين القتال، كما مراسلو قناة «الميادين» والقنوات السورية التي تحوّل مراسلوها إلى محاربين ارتقى بعضهم شهداء، وفي لبنان شقيقتها «أن بي أن»، لكن التميّز عند الزميلات والشقيقات، وقد توسّعت العائلة كثيراً بقنوات تنتمي لخط المقاومة كـ»الاتجاه» و«الغدير» و«النجباء» في العراق و«اللؤلؤة» في البحرين و«المسيرة» و«الساحات» في اليمن، لا يلغي حقيقة أنّ لحضور المنار نكهة مميّزة، تماماً كما لا يلغي حضور فصائل المقاومة العراقية واليمنية، المكانة المميّزة للمقاومة اللبنانية. وعودة «المنار» كيفما كانت معطياتها وظروفها، تجارياً وسياسياً، وتعاقدياً وقانونياً، فهي عودة احتفالية تستحق التحية.

– القضية التي طرحها تغييب «المنار» كانت الحاجة إلى قمر صناعي لا تخضع إدارته لضغوط سياسية تستهدف قوى المقاومة، قادر على توفير التغطية للمنطقة بطريقة فنية مناسبة لا ترهق المشاهدين بترتيبات معقدة أو مكلفة، ويجب التنويه بجهود بذلتها إدارة الأقمار الصناعية الروسية، ونجاحها بتخصيص أحد أقمارها لتغطية المنطقة على محاور الأقمار العاملة في سماء المنطقة، والتي تحمل القنوات التلفزيونية الوجهة إليها، وبدء التعاقد بأسعار مخفضة مع قنوات عاملة لتنويع باقات البث من أقمار آمنة لا تعرّضها لخطر الإيقاف والضغوط.

– واحدة من إيجابيات المبادرة الروسية خلق سوق تنافسية جعلت التفكير بمعادلة العقوبات موضع نقاش، بعدما بدأت العقوبة تتحوّل عقوبات على شركات الأقمار الصناعية التي تلتزم بالعقوبات، كما تصف ألمانيا العقوبات الأميركية على روسيا بالعقوبات على الشركات الألمانية. وهذا حرّر هذه الشركات من كثير من الضغوط كانت تتذمّر منها ضمناً وتعتبرها مخالفة للأصول التجارية التعاقدية ولقواعد العمل المهني، التي يفترض أن تؤدّي لحجب قنوات التحريض على الفتن، وقنوات تشجيع التطرف، وقنوات الإباحية، بدلاً من استهداف قنوات المقاومة، التي تبذل جهدها لتفادي التصادم مع قواعد السلوكيات المتفق عليها.

– مع عودة «المنار» إلى جمهورها، تحية الزمالة، وتحية خنادق القتال، وتحية المقاومين… وألف «مبروك» لإدارتها والعاملين فيها… والعود أحمد.

قناة «المنار» – عودة البث على قمر نايل سات H10971- 6/5

AJAMU BARAKA ON CAMPAIGN TO SHUT DOWN US FOREIGN MILITARY BASES

In Gaza

On January 22, 2018, I had the opportunity to speak with the well-respected, highly-informed, longtime rights activist and writer, Ajamu Baraka.

A human rights defender whose experience spans four decades of domestic and international education and activism, Ajamu Baraka is a veteran grassroots organizer whose roots are in the Black Liberation Movement and anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity struggles. Please see his extended bio on his website.

He was the 2016 Green Party vice presidential candidate, and is a lead organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace. Mr. Baraka is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report, and also publishes at Black Commentator, Commondreams, Pambazuka, and Dissident Voice.

Related Links

http://noforeignbases.org
https://blackagendareport.com/peace-requires-social-transformation
https://twitter.com/i/web/status/954098699189346305
https://blackagendareport.com/peace-requires-social-transformation
https://twitter.com/ajamubaraka/status/955471891019550720
https://twitter.com/ajamubaraka/status/953314222775169025
https://ingaza.wordpress.com/2018/01/20/a-personal-reply-to-the-fact-challenged-smears-of-terrorist-whitewashing-channel-4-snopes-and-la-presse/

TALKING SYRIA & MEDIA LIES, ON SPUTNIK ORBITING THE WORLD

In Gaza

With hosts George & Gayatri Galloway. Photo via Sputnik on RT Twitter account.

While in the UK giving talks on Syria (and the DPRK/North Korea) last week, I was invited to speak on Sputnik Orbiting the World, the program hosted by George & Gayatri Galloway.

The program description:

Speaking truth to power ought to be the duty of journalism but it is not. Speaking the power’s “truth” is the way to get and keep the gig in today’s media – and if you do so, you’ll be richly rewarded with money and flattery. One of our frequent guests, Patrick Cockburn, had a great journalist father, Claud Cockburn, who said that the relationship of the journalist to power should be that of the dog to the lamp-post. Nothing is true, he’d say, until it has been officially denied. Fortunately, every now and then a journalist emerges who goes where few dare, who speaks what few will speak, without fear or favor. One such journalist is Eva Bartlett, so we invited her into the Sputnik studio to speak truth to power.

Clip:

Extended Interview:

Related Links:

How I startedAbout Me

Writings and videos from/on SyriaIn Gaza

A Personal Reply to the Fact-Challenged Smears of Terrorist-Whitewashing Channel 4, Snopes and La Presse, Jan 20, 2018, In Gaza, *republished at: The Indicter, (in Spanish)

Exploitation of Bana al-Abed: Parents use child to whitewash terrorists in Aleppo, Jul 24, 2017, RT.com

Absurdities of Syrian war propaganda, Nov 2, 2017, RT.com

The REAL Syria Civil Defence, Saving Real Syrians, Not Oscar Winning White Helmets, Saving Al Qaeda, Vanessa Beeley, Apr 2, 2017, 21st Century Wire

Aleppo: How US & Saudi-Backed Rebels Target ‘Every Syrian’, Nov 29, 2016, MintPress News[Excerpt: On the afternoon of Nov. 3, after meeting with Dr. Mohammed Batikh, director of Al-Razi Hospital, the victims of terror attacks which had begun a few hours prior began to arrive one after another, maimed and critically injured. The vehicle bombings and bombardment of Grad missiles, among other attacks, left 18 people dead and more than 200 injured, according to Dr. Zaher Hajo, the head of forensic medicine at Al-Razi Hospital. …According to the hospital’s head forensic medicine, Dr. Hajo, in the last five years, 10,750 civilians have been killed in Aleppo, 40 percent of whom were women and children. In the past year alone, 328 children have been killed by terrorist shelling in Aleppo, and 45 children were killed by terrorist snipers.]

US-Backed Terrorism in Syria: A First-Hand Account of the Use of Mortars Against Civilians, Sep 12, 2014, Global Research

Western corporate media ‘disappears’ over 1.5 million Syrians and 4,000 doctors (Aleppo), Aug 14, 2016, SOTT.net

Syria Dispatch: Most Syrians Support Assad, Reject Phony Foreign ‘Revolution’, Mar 7, 2016, SOTT.net

Syrians Flock to Vote in Lebanon… But Not in The West, May 30, 2014, Inter Press Services

Liberated Homs Residents Challenge Notion of “Revolution”, Jul 8, 2014, Inter Press Services

“Freedom”: Homs resident speaks of the early days of the “crisis”(with video), Jun 24, 2014, In Gaza

Homs: “We wanted to protect our house”, Jun 13, 2014, In Gaza

Morning conversation with a Sunni Damascene woman, Apr 19, 2014, In Gaza [Excerpt: One of my relatives lived in Hama. The “rebels” would knock on the doors of homes there and force them to participate in demonstrations against the “regime.” My relative is an old woman, she said “I don’t want to participate. My legs are weak, I’m an old woman” but the “rebels” said she had to join the demonstration. They would threaten her, “we’ll kill your son, your husband.” They fled Hama soon after, to Lebanon.

Our former housekeeper was from Zamalka, near Jobar (one area where the “rebels” are, and from where they fire mortar shells towards Damascus). Just before the “rebels” took over Zamalka, she fled, but her husband and 30 year old son stayed, to protect their home. Two months after fleeing, she saw on the news that the “rebels” had killed her husband and son by cutting their heads off.

My cousin had a car accident, two of his children died. This was on a Friday. One child died immediately, the second the following day. While they were praying in the mosque, “rebels” came and filmed the caskets and produced a video with the title, “Damascus prayer on the field of freedom of the child martyr Abdul Salam Musa”. My aunt in Germany saw the video and commented “This is a lie, these kids are my relatives and they died in a car accident.”  Here is the video she referred to. As we sit and watch it, she points out her relatives.]

Syrians from Hassaka Speak of the Peaceful Life They Knew, Nov 9, 2014, In Gaza [Excerpt: “We never thought we’d leave Syria, life was good. Everything was cheap, we had security. But we eventually had to…. not because of the government or the Syrian Army, because of the terrorists, mostly al-Nusra then. Now Daesh are there too, but they’re the same anyway.

Before we left, it had gotten to the point where we scarcely had access to water, had little electricity… The terrorists destroyed the power lines. The municipality would repair things and the terrorists would return and destroy them.

Two weeks before we left, they blew up a car belonging to an important person in the government in our area. He lived down the street, between our house and the school. My daughter was at school, I was so afraid that she had been hurt.

When we left, we thought it would would only be temporarily, but every day since it has gotten worse.

We went back six months ago, to see if it was possible to return for good. Everything different, many shops were closed down and the water and electricity were even worse. Everything was worse than ever. As soon as it got dark, the streets were empty. Those of our neighbours who had remained were different too, gaunt, faces drawn.”

He spoke of the faux-revolution. “’We want freedom,’ they said. What freedom do they want? We had education, health care, security. This is the ‘freedom’ they want, these terrorists destroying our towns, our culture?”

Even though they have left and feel that they cannot go back, they are patriots, are proud of their country and culture, and its voices like theirs we need to be hearing: the people who know what’s happening on the ground, who are not being fed soundbites by corporate media or funded by the various thinktank incarnations of Soros’ foundations but who live/lived in Syria and suffered the draconian takeover of foreign terrorists; the people who support the Syrian army and President Assad because they choose to, who enacted the democracy they choose, not that which the death squads of the west attempt to deliver.”]

Meeting Syrians in Lebanon, May 27, 2014, In Gaza [Excerpts: “At breakfast one morning, still waiting for my visa application to be processed, I sit working on my laptop.  A man keeps glancing my way, and finally comes over to say he likes the Syrian bracelet I wear. We get talking. He’s Syrian, from Aleppo. At the end of our talk, he says again how happy it made him to see me wearing this bracelet… and adds, “I can’t wear my Syrian flag here because there are so many stupid people, they might kidnap me or worse. I’m not afraid of my government, but I am afraid of these thugs.” (Listen to his testimony on witnessing video being staged in Syria, and more.)

*

I visit Jeita Grotto, Jbeil (Byblos), and the cable-car leading up to the hilltop where –in the Middle East–the largest statue of Mary resides. I’m more interested in the scenery, and lovely scenery it is. Coming down from the hill, a thin older man with a pleasant face stops my car and opens the door. We chat a bit. He is also from Haleb (Aleppo), has been working here for years, not because of the manufactured war. But because of the situation, he’s recently brought his wife and kids here. I ask my usual simple questions: “What’s the problem? What do you think of the President?”

He replies–noting that he is speaking his mind, isn’t afraid to do so–that he will vote for President Assad . “I’m with him. Before all of this we were safe and had few problems.”  I ask the taboo question again, for the sake of clarity, and he replies “I’m Sunni Muslim, but in Syria it’s not important what religion you are.”

He’s Sunni. Bashar al-Assad is Alawi. The Western media has made MUCH of the so-called Alawi devotees to President Assad. But in my experience, in Syria and out, Syrians across the board support Assad.  It just depends if they’ve been corrupted by NED/Soros or other funds or whether they’ve been seduced by the Wahabi, Takfiri notion of raping, desecrating, destroying Syria for greater pleasures in a promised hereafter.

*

In a village near the Chouf Cedar Reserve, I come across another Syrian who has left because of the armed gangs in Aleppo. He’s a talented woodworker, and one evening stops by the hotel to have a cup of warm milk. I’ve already had a coffee (he saw me in the street earlier and invited me to his employer’s house for coffee), and a instant-coffee-milk mixture (everyone calls it Nescafe, whether its Nestle or not) with the guesthouse manager while talking Syria, but “Ibrahim” keeps insisting he buy me a coffee, something.

He shows me photos of his handiwork–lovely wood furniture, cupboards, intricate ceiling decor. I ask if this is what he did for work in Syria. “I had my own shop, but its been destroyed. Our house was destroyed, too.”  I ask when he’ll go back. “I can’t go back, the ‘rebels’ are there, I can’t get back.”

Haleb helua, ahlan mekkan. Aleppo is beautiful, the most beautiful place,” he says.

We look at online photos of Aleppo.

“See how beautiful it is!” He points out the landmarks, repeating himself, Haleb helua.

The Umayyad mosque, a castle, a hotel which he says is one of the oldest in the world…

Bas kharaboo.  But they’ve destroyed it all. Here, our house is here…. but it’s destroyed. The most beautiful place n the world.”

All this is said in the same soft voice, not a trace of anger or bitterness, just sadness, longing.”]

*

 

IMPERIALISM ON TRIAL: WRITERS AND ACTIVISTS CONVENE IN DERRY, IRELAND

In Gaza

Last week I had the honour of joining a number of incredible writers and orators in Derry, Ireland, in a panel, “Imperialism on Trial”. The five speakers were: John Wight, writer and host of Hard Facts; the former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford; author, journalist and broadcaster Neil Clark; former MP and host of Sputnik Orbiting the WorldGeorge Galloway; and myself.

Organized by Derry resident Gregory Sharkey, the panelists addressed a wide range of issues. As one of the speakers, author Neil Clark, wrote:

“Five passionate and well-informed speakers, who included the former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford, detailed the carnage and chaos that has been unleashed around the globe by the aggressive, warmongering policies of the US and its closest allies.

The full panel is online from RT’s livestream recording:

John Wight‘s talk was a poetic, searing condemnation of Imperialism and the corporate media, with literary and historical references included (much like Syria’s highly-educated Ambassador to the UN does in his speeches before the buffoons ala Haley, Power…).

His speech, fittingly, begins with a respectful acknowledgement of Resistance forces in Syria and around the world fighting against genocidal Imperialist forces. Excerpts include:

“Imperialism has run like a broken thread throughout human history, but so has Resistance to Imperialism. In this regard, I’d like to take a moment to pay tribute to the Syrian Arab Army, Hezbollah, Iran, Russia, in short, all those whose efforts in combating this genocidal project of a latter day Khmer Rouge has prevented Syria from being pushed into an abyss in which its minorities—people who can trace their presence in that part of the world back over a millenia and more—would have been gone, extirpated, annihilated.

Everybody on this panel tonight has felt the lash of the mainstream media. They call us ‘cranks’, they call us ‘stooges’, they call us “Putin’s puppets’, they call us ‘Assadists’. But yet, why do they attack us if we’re so marginal, why take the time to attack what we do? It’s because we ask the question ‘why’….”

Peter Ford spoke with the conviction of a man with years of experience in Syria, with firsthand knowledge of that country and others in the region. Noting that “Imperialism did not end when the colonies became free”, Ford said (excerpts):

“We now have a new, more insidious, but more powerful form of Imperialism. And this Imperialism hides behind words. As an ex-diplomat, I’m very sensitive to the clever use of words, they are so manipulative. The new Imperialism hides behind expressions like “protecting our allies”. When we went to war in Iraq, we were protecting the Saudis, the Israelis…these are our allies. Another term the new Imperialists hide behind to extend their hegemony is “defeating terrorism”. That’s a more recent one.

Another one they love is “defending human rights”, and this applies to the Left as much as to the Right, or “humanitarianism”. This is liberal interventionalism, and we on the Left have to be particularly alert to this one. This is the new version of carrying the white man’s burden. In each case, we are intervening militarily, or certainly using some sort of coercive diplomacy. We’re intervening in less-developed parts of the world which are not able, by and large, to strike back.

Britain is a prominent member of the grandly called “Global Coalition to eliminate ISIS”, and there are about 50 countries which are members of this coalition but it’s by no means the global. It excludes Russia, which has done more against ISIS than any individual member of the global coalition. It excludes China and many, many other countries, but they like to pretend that it’s global. They tell us that the purpose is to eradicate ISIS. Well, ISIS has virtually been eradicated for the last three months, but the coalition goes on. And indeed, just two weeks ago an American general told us that the coalition was there to stay in northern Syria because their job was to stop ISIS coming back. Well that’s an open-ended promise isn’t it that could go on forever.”

Neil Clark, likewise spoke truth on many issues covered up or distorted by corporate media. Excerpts:

Libya in 2009 had the highest Human Development Index in Africa. Today it basically it is a hellhole run by various militias….The ultimate ignominy, the testament to the intervention launched by Sarkozy and Cameron & co, is the re-emergence of slave markets in Libya again. In fact, it’s a common pattern: every country where we’ve had these Western us-led interventions, the situation for ordinary people in those countries has actually worsened not got better.

We saw another classic example in Ukraine in 2014, a very similar scenario: the the US and its allies were supporting protesters against the government, and those protesters were led by the far right—by genuine far-right—people. …We’re talking about genuine ultra-nationalist borderline neo-nazis or bona fide neo-nazis at the forefront of these anti-government demonstrations. …We had a basic regime change in Ukraine against a democratically-elected government there.

I think they ought to be very aware of the language we use, …and one thing we ought to be careful of is this word “regime” because this is a very key term that’s used. …You don’t hear it about the US or Israel, you hear it about Syria, you hear it about Iran. It’s compulsory to say the Iranian “regime” not the Iranian government or the Syrian government.

We have spent billions billions of pounds on these illegal wars, billions of pounds on these interventions. …There’s nothing more important for us to do thanto change British foreign policy to have a British foreign policy based on respect for the sovereignty of countries around the world, a peaceful foreign policy, a non-interventionist foreign policy…”

George Galloway‘s speech was a detailed, animated, history lesson of Imperialist crimes, threats and lies, past and present. Excerpts:

“When I was born, the guns had only just stopped firing, from the British and American annihilation of the people of Korea. You heard the quotes from Eva, from Curtis Le May. ‘We burned down every town and village in North Korea,’ he said. ‘We killed 20% of the population of Korea. We threatened to launch thermo-nuclear warfare against them.’

We killed 1 million Chinese who had entered Korea to stop the advance of the British and American war machine, because they knew if they had conquered the north of Korea they would continued over the border to try to destroy the Chinese revolution.

And we wonder why North Korea is paranoid? Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

Our people may have forgotten the Korean war. The Korean people never did forget it. 

They seek to induce us into a state of panic that something must be done about North Korea maybe having one nuclear rocket that can reach the United States, when the United States has 1000s of nuclear weapons that can reach and incinerate North Korea or anywhere else in the world.

How is it that the United States is somehow qualified to possess a nuclear arsenal that could end life on this planet for millennia to come, but other people, to defend themselves, may not produce one?”

My own talk at the Imperialism on Trial panel (also here) focused on media lies and war propaganda around Syria, and on the Imperialists’ fear-mongering rhetoric around, and blatant calls for the genocide of, Korea’s north, with reminders that the US and allies already destroyed the DPRK in the ’50s.

I also addressed the criminal sanctions on the DPRK, and some of the sensationalist stories put forth on the DPRK, sometimes even emanating from Washington. While I mentioned some of my August 2017 visit to the DPRK, I would here defer to the expertise of writers like historian Bruce Cumings, who wrote:

“The demonization of North Korea transcends party lines, drawing on a host of subliminal racist and Orientalist imagery; no one is willing to accept that North Koreans may have valid reasons for not accepting the American definition of reality.”

Researcher and writer Stephen Gowans offers a starkly different (aka factual) look at Korea’s north than that spewed by MSM hacks and politicians with no regard for the 25 million people at risk of annihilation thanks to American Exceptionalism. International criminal lawyer and writer Christopher Black also has vast knowledge about the DPRK, and has himself visited the country some years ago. Professor Tim Anderson wrote this article highlighting aspects of our August 2017 visit.

The bottom line, though, as Ajamu Baraka stated in our January 2018 interview:

“The US should not feel that it has the moral and political right to intervene, to determine who should be the head of any state, what kind of system they should organize. Those are questions and issues that should be left up to the people of any nation state on the planet. …No matter what the argument may be made by US authorities regarding the character of any state, we believe that allowing for those kinds of arguments to be used as a justification for intervention or waging war is morally unacceptable and politically has to be resisted.

Links Related to Syria Content:

-Sharmine Narwani’s “How narratives killed the Syrian people

-Sharmine Narwani’s “Syria: The Hidden Massacre

-on media lies and myths on Syria: Deconstructing the NATO Narrative on Syria

-Writing of the late Father Frans van der Lugt on armed protesters

-Interview with Father Daniel in Syria: “There Never Was a Popular Uprising in Syria”

Homs: “We wanted to protect our house”

“Freedom”: Homs resident speaks of the early days of the “crisis” (June 2014)

Syria Dispatch: Most Syrians Support Assad, Reject Phony Foreign ‘Revolution’

Vanessa Beeley videos, including testimonies of Syrians from eastern areas of Aleppo after liberation of the city.

-Mass Starvation & other anti-Syria propaganda:

The Children of Kafarya and Foua are Crying in the Dark

-Omran Daqneesh (the Boy in the Ambulance):

-White Helmets (al-Qaeda’s rescuers):

-Israel’s Use Of White Phosphorous on Palestinian Civilians:

 

Pro-Terror Groups Create Fake “Atrocities,” News Stories For Anti-Assad Twitter Campaign

Source

Brandon Turbeville — Activist Post Jan 11, 2018

syria-chem-weapons-propaganda-1024x562-1-1024x562

As the Syrian military makes massive gains across the Idlib governorate, the last major bit of territory controlled by Western-backed terrorists, mainstream media is once again alight with “Assad is bombing his own people” stories. It is the exact same playlist that was used when the Syrian government liberated Homs, Deir ez-Zour, and Aleppo only this time it is updated for Idlib. Soon, we should be hearing stories of how Assad and Putin personally ordered the bombing of the “last hospital in Idilb.” No doubt there will be a lot of hospitals in Idlib since we may hear the story ten times before the region is liberated just as we did in Aleppo.

In this current propaganda campaign against the Syrian military’s operation in Idlib, a recent article by Sarah Abed reveals a terrorist-based group which has organized a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #Outrage4Idlib in order to denigrate the Syrian military operation and to push fake “atrocities” committed by the Syrian military.

In her article for al-Sura, (Syrian Opposition Groups Fabricate ‘Atrocities’ For Media Campaign In Idlib) Sarah Abed writes,

As the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) makes some vast advances in liberating Idlib and the surrounding areas, groups supporting Syrian Al Qaeda (HTS) take to twitter to ramp up a propaganda campaign against the SAA. A mass produced list of pre-made tweets highlighting ‘atrocities’ that are yet to happen was posted by opposition groups to garner support for Syrian Al Qaeda currently in Idlib fighting Syrian government forces.

Entirely fictitious tweets such as these serve the purpose of promoting anti-Syrian government sentiments across social media, in hopes of prolonging the devastating war which has claimed the lives of over half a million Syrians and displaced millions in almost seven years.

The archive of pre-made tweets states “Today ( January 9th) a list of suggestions of pre-made tweets will be released. All you have to do is click to tweet to join the campaign and invite people to join us. Please use this site to tweet: RT are not counting in the trend, only originals tweets count.”

Al-Sura itself tweeted a screenshot of some of the tweets that contain premade headlines and headlines of atrocities and events that have yet to happen. Other tweets contain headlines of events that were reported years ago but are being falsely attributed to the current military operation in Idlib.

 

No doubt, the propaganda machine will be ramping up for the last battle to eliminate Western-backed terrorists from a major city in their largest concentration in Syria. The discovery of the tweet campaign just demonstrates the nature of Western pro-terrorist propaganda and should serve as a warning to distrust anything coming out of the mainstream corporate press and “activist” twitter storms during the liberation process.

Brandon Turbeville writes for Activist Post – article archive here – He is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President, and Resisting The Empire: The Plan To Destroy Syria And How The Future Of The World Depends On The Outcome. Turbeville has published over 1000 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. His website is BrandonTurbeville.com He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.

This article may be freely shared in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

Did BBC team responsible for faked footage of Syrian chemical attack travel under terrorist protection?

Source

 By Catte | OffGuardian | January 6, 2018

Most of our readers are now more than familiar with the bizarre events surrounding the BBC Panorama program Saving Syria’s Children. We’ve already returned to this story several times. The possibility that this program presented faked footage of a non-existent chemical attack by government troops on a school in Syria has been meticulously documented by independent researcher Robert Stuart over several years.

But a further twist to the story seems to show that the crew who filmed this questionable footage were being escorted and protected during their sojourn in Syria, by members of a jihadist terrorist group affiliated to Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda and ISIS.

The evidence, on the face of it, seems damning.

Ten minutes, 18 seconds into the program (which can be seen here) the film crew record a car journey, with the two British doctors featured in the program, to “see what medical care is available for children closer to where the fighting is”. At one point the journalist Ian Pannell can be heard in voice over saying:

Western journalists have been targeted in Syria, so I have to travel with my own security. The doctors are able to be more low key and take their own vehicles.

As he speaks we see Pannell himself, presumably filmed by his cameraman Darren Conway, in a car, part of a convoy, accompanied by armed men. We also see the hood of one of the cars in the convoy several times and pretty clearly. It has a logo on it. This is it:

The inset on the right is the logo of Ahrar-al-Sham.

In case you’re wondering, this is the same Ahrar-al-Sham identified by a Human Rights Watch report in October 2013 as participants in the killing of women and children (see “You Can Still See Their Blood” – Executions, Indiscriminate Shootings, and Hostage Taking by Opposition Forces in Latakia Countryside.). The report details the slaughter of nearly 200 civilians “including 57 women and at least 18 children and 14 elderly men” by opposition forces including Ahrar al-Sham on August 4 2013.

It was just 19 days after this massacre – on August 23 – that Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway (now an OBE) apparently decided Ahrar-al-Sham were the go-to ’security’ guys for them. The documentary further shows Pannell, Conway and their chums being waved through ISIS road blocks without a hitch. This is the same ISIS who – allegedly – had declared war on all westerners and were prone to cutting off their heads (though in 2013 this hadn’t become the media meme it later became). Our boys are apparently welcome deep in ISIS territory, with no worries about repercussions.

This is probably explained by the fact Ahrar-al-Sham, according to Stanford University’s Mapping Militant Program, “worked with the Islamic State (IS) until January 2014″.

But maybe the contact with terrorists was fleeting and almost accidental? Well, below are two images that tell a story. The top one is a screencap from Saving Syria’s Children. The man outlined in red is the “Fixer/Translator” for the program, Mughira Al-Sharif, and he is shown driving Pannell’s convoy car (Pannell himself can be seen second from right next to the window in the back). Mughira is seen again in the bottom image in a photograph taken the same day and shared on Instagram. Also with him in this pic, and looking remarkably chummy, are two members of the Ahrar-al-Sham security detail who can be seen in Pannell’s car. Mughira described these men in his Instagram post as ‘friends’. That post was subsequently deleted.

(Above) Fixer/Translator Mughira Al-Sharif driving Ian Pannell’s convoy saloon car in Saving Syria’s Children. Pannell is second from right. (Below) Al Sharif poses with two of the Ahrar al-Sham men in an Instagram post of the same day, describing them as “friends”. The post was subsequently deleted.

Let’s be clear – these “friends’ of Mughira’s could well have taken part in the recent slaughter discussed above, and must, at very least, be assumed to support the mass murder of innocent people. And this man Mughira is employed by Pannell as his guide and helper in making their documentary.

Why are a supposedly distinguished and professional BBC journalist and his crew working with allies of ISIS? Why are they using them as their ‘security’? Why are they comfortable tooling round Syria in a car festooned with jihadist logos? Why did they end up producing a documentary using highly questionable footage to promote UK intervention against the elected government of Syria?

Did neither they nor their employers at the BBC realise what they were doing?

Or did they know and think it was just dandy?

When is the BBC – and Ian Pannell and Darren Conway(OBE) – going to answer these and the many other questions hanging over this program and their credibility?

Iranians Commemorate Epic 2009 pro-Islamic Republic Rallies

December 30, 2017

iran

Millions of Iranians across the country are commemorating the anniversary of the 2009 mass rallies that were held in support of the Islamic Republic and put an end to post-election unrest back then.

On Saturday, people from all walks of life took part in demonstrations and ceremonies in several Iranian cities to mark the “Dey 9 epic,” which refers to the historic rallies held on the ninth day of the Persian calendar month of Dey.

In the capital, Tehran, people gathered at the the Imam Khomeini Grand Prayer Grounds, while other cities were the scene of demonstrations to mark the occasion.

On December 30, 2009, millions of Iranians held nation-wide protests to condemn the foreign-orchestrated unrest, which had erupted following the presidential elections earlier that year.

People were especially angered by incidents that had taken place days earlier in Tehran, where a group of demonstrators offended the sanctities of the nation on the day of Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third Shia Imam.

The unrest was orchestrated by Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Musavi, two of the candidates who had lost the election, claiming that the results had been rigged. Both remain under house arrest on charges of provoking the public and harming the national security.

SourcePress TV

Related Videos

Related Articles

Flashback to 2011: Asma Assad: A Rose in the Desert

[ Ed. note – The article below was initially published in Vogue Magazine in early 2011. I am re-posting it here as it provides a striking look back at Syria as it was just prior to the outbreak of the neocon-instigated regime-change war which so devastated the country.

Asma Assad, the wife of President Bashar Assad, is a woman of grace and beauty, and it’s probably not surprising that a fashion magazine would have decided to publish an article on her. But after the article appeared, Vogue, along with Joan Juliet Buck, the writer of the piece, were attacked by certain mainstream media outlets, such as The Atlantic, presumably for not sufficiently demonizing the Syrian government.

“Asma al-Assad has British roots, wears designer fashion, worked for years in banking, and is married to the dictator Bashar al-Assad, whose regime has killed over 5,000 civilians and hundreds of children this year,” wrote Max Fisher in a sarcastically-worded lead paragraph for The Atlantic.

Fisher also criticized Vogue’s “fawning treatment of the Assad family and its portrayal of the regime as tolerant and peaceful,” noting that this treatment had “generated surprise and outrage in much of the Washington foreign policy community.”

The article by Buck had appeared in Vogue’s February 2011 issue. The Syrian regime-change operation got underway in March, a month later, when protests broke out in Daraa. And the timing of the two probably was nothing more than coincidental.

But of course the neocons in the State Department would have already begun executing their scheme, and a media vilification campaign would have been deemed necessary, or at any rate helpful, in greasing the wheels–and the sudden appearance of the Vogue article (the magazine reportedly has over 11 million readers) probably was looked upon as something of a monkey wrench in the plans. You could think of it as one of the rare moments that a mainstream media organ stepped out of bounds.

Fisher, who now holds a position with the New York Times, went on to kvetch that “the glowing article praised the Assads as a ‘wildly democratic’ family-focused couple who vacation in Europe, foster Christianity, are at ease with American celebrities, made theirs the ‘safest country in the Middle East,’ and want to give Syria a ‘brand essence.’”

It is of course true that the Assads “foster Christianity,” as Fisher contemptuously puts it (indeed–you can go here to see a video I posted two years ago of the first couple attending a Christmas service at a church in Damascus in 2015), but of course it would not do to have this kind of information put out in the mainstream just before the launch of a long-planned regime change operation.

Other mainstream media attacks upon Vogue came from Gawker, where writer John Cook also accused the publication of “fawning”; the New York Times, which published a piece headlined “The Balance of Charm and Reality“; and Slate, whose writer, Noreen Malone, damned Vogue for paying “besotted compliments” to the Assads and for “unwittingly exacerbating” a “modern day Marie Antoinette problem.”

Buck should now be proud of the mainstream media attacks upon her work–but aside from this, her article, as I say, is important also in that it provides a valuable glimpse into life in the country just before the outset of the war.

Syria, she notes, was known as “the safest country in the Middle East.” Buck was roundly excoriated for making this observation, but certainly at the time, in 2011, it was true in spades: Syria was eminently safer than either US-occupied Iraq or Israeli-occupied Palestine.

Buck also notes that Syria is “a place without bombings, unrest, or kidnappings”–which would have run completely counter to the narrative of Assad being the ubiquitous “brutal dictator who kills his own people” and who serves as a “magnet to jihadis”–but perhaps most noteworthy of all are Buck’s revelations about programs set up for children in the country.

When I visited Syria in 2014, one of the things I heard about were Asma Assad’s charity efforts on behalf of children, so it was not surprising for me, upon reading the Vogue article, to learn of Massar, an organization founded by the First Lady and “built around a series of discovery centers,” or to learn that at these centers children and young adults, ages five to twenty-one, were taught “creative, informal approaches to civic responsibility.”

Buck also tells of Asma’s jaunts around the country visiting local schools and interacting with children in what seems to have been a very life-fulfilling manner.

All of this, of course, would have come to a dramatic halt, or a dramatic curtailment at any rate, when the nightmare began and the country suddenly found itself invaded by armies of US-backed terrorists.

Another fascinating aspect of the article is what it reveals regarding Asma’s contributions toward safeguarding Syria’s cultural heritage. While in Syria I attended, along with several members of the staff of Veterans Today, an anti-terrorism conference held at the Dama Rose Hotel in Damascus. Among the subjects discussed at the conference were the ongoing attacks upon cultural heritage sites.  It was disclosed that at the outset of the conflict, the country’s Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM), in anticipation of terrorist looting of cultural heritage sites, had begun securing priceless artifacts by placing them in secure storage sites around the country.

The effort was a herculean one, involving DGAM’s 2500 employees spanning out across the country, and while most of the credit has gone to Dr. Maamoun Abdulkarim, the director of DGAM, it would appear, if Buck’s article is any indication, that Asma Assad played a role in the effort as well:

There are 500,000 important ancient works of art hidden in storage; Asma al-Assad has brought in the Louvre to create a network of museums and cultural attractions across Syria, and asked Italian experts to help create a database of the 5,000 archaeological sites in the desert. “Culture,” she says, “is like a financial asset. We have an abundance of it, thousands of years of history, but we can’t afford to be complacent.”

The reference to works of art being “hidden in storage” would suggest that already at that time–February of 2011–Syrian officials had begun to anticipate the hellfire that was about to be unleashed upon their country.

One other thing I might mention is a small criticism I have of Buck’s piece. She speaks of “minders” who she claims accompanied her throughout her visit, commenting as well that “on the rare occasions I am out alone, a random series of men in leather jackets seems to be keeping close tabs on what I am doing and where I am headed.”

All I can say in response to this is that I never experienced anything of the like during my own visit to Syria. I stayed at the Dama Rose Hotel–the location where the conference was held–and while I occasionally went out for strolls through the neighborhood, I never once was followed by any “random series of men in leather jackets.” Yes–there were Syrian soldiers in the streets. But they were stationed at certain locations, busy street corners for instance, and they did not begin tailing me suspiciously after I had passed them by. They remained at their posts. Moreover, their presence, rather than threatening, was a comforting assurance I would not be attacked or kidnapped by terrorists, at least while the soldiers were around.

Lastly, I would also mention that Vogue succumbed to the withering barrage of criticism and removed Buck’s article from their website. Less than a year later, the only trace of it that remained on the Internet was at a pro-Syrian site called PresidentAssad.net–something which was made note of in a January 3, 2012 article by Fisher at The Atlantic.

The PresidentAssad.net site is still around, but for some reason the Vogue article seems to have gotten dropped over the years. However, it has re-surfaced–at Gawker. There you may find it (at least for the time being) along with a link back to the attack piece I mentioned above, written by Cook and posted in February of 2011. ]

***

Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert

By Joan Juliet Buck

Asma al-Assad is glamorous, young, and very chic—the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies. Her style is not the couture-and-bling dazzle of Middle Eastern power but a deliberate lack of adornment. She’s a rare combination: a thin, long-limbed beauty with a trained analytic mind who dresses with cunning understatement. Paris Match calls her “the element of light in a country full of shadow zones.” She is the first lady of Syria.

Syria is known as the safest country in the Middle East, possibly because, as the State Department’s Web site says, “the Syrian government conducts intense physical and electronic surveillance of both Syrian citizens and foreign visitors.” It’s a secular country where women earn as much as men and the Muslim veil is forbidden in universities, a place without bombings, unrest, or kidnappings, but its shadow zones are deep and dark. Asma’s husband, Bashar al-Assad, was elected president in 2000, after the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad, with a startling 97 percent of the vote. In Syria, power is hereditary. The country’s alliances are murky. How close are they to Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah? There are souvenir Hezbollah ashtrays in the souk, and you can spot the Hamas leadership racing through the bar of the Four Seasons. Its number-one enmity is clear: Israel. But that might not always be the case. The United States has just posted its first ambassador there since 2005, Robert Ford.

Iraq is next door, Iran not far away. Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, is 90 minutes by car from Damascus. Jordan is south, and next to it the region that Syrian maps label Palestine. There are nearly one million refugees from Iraq in Syria, and another half-million displaced Palestinians.

“It’s a tough neighborhood,” admits Asma al-Assad.

It’s also a neighborhood intoxicatingly close to the dawn of civilization, where agriculture began some 10,000 years ago, where the wheel, writing, and musical notation were invented. Out in the desert are the magical remains of Palmyra, Apamea, and Ebla. In the National Museum you see small 4,000-year-old panels inlaid with mother-of-pearl that is echoed in the new mother-of-pearl furniture for sale in the souk. Christian Louboutin comes to buy the damask silk brocade they’ve been making here since the Middle Ages for his shoes and bags, and has incidentally purchased a small palace in Aleppo, which, like Damascus, has been inhabited for more than 5,000 years.

The first lady works out of a small white building in a hilly, modern residential neighborhood called Muhajireen, where houses and apartments are crammed together and neighbors peer and wave from balconies. The first impression of Asma al-Assad is movement—a determined swath cut through space with a flash of red soles. Dark-brown eyes, wavy chin-length brown hair, long neck, an energetic grace. No watch, no jewelry apart from Chanel agates around her neck, not even a wedding ring, but fingernails lacquered a dark blue-green. She’s breezy, conspiratorial, and fun. Her accent is English but not plummy. Despite what must be a killer IQ, she sometimes uses urban shorthand: “I was, like. . . .”

Asma Akhras was born in London in 1975, the eldest child and only daughter of a Syrian Harley Street cardiologist and his diplomat wife, both Sunni Muslims. They spoke Arabic at home. She grew up in Ealing, went to Queen’s College, and spent holidays with family in Syria. “I’ve dealt with the sense that people don’t expect Syria to be normal. I’d show my London friends my holiday snaps and they’d be—‘Where did you say you went?’ ”

She studied computer science at university, then went into banking. “It wasn’t a typical path for women,” she says, “but I had it all mapped out.” By the spring of 2000, she was closing a big biotech deal at JP Morgan in London and about to take up an MBA at Harvard. She started dating a family friend: the second son of president Hafez al-Assad, Bashar, who’d cut short his ophthalmology studies in London in 1994 and returned to Syria after his older brother, Basil, heir apparent to power, died in a car crash. They had known each other forever, but a ten-year age difference meant that nothing registered—until it did.

“I was always very serious at work, and suddenly I started to take weekends, or disappear, and people just couldn’t figure it out,” explains the first lady. “What do you say—‘I’m dating the son of a president’? You just don’t say that. Then he became president, so I tried to keep it low-key. Suddenly I was turning up in Syria every month, saying, ‘Granny, I miss you so much!’ I quit in October because by then we knew that we were going to get married at some stage. I couldn’t say why I was leaving. My boss thought I was having a nervous breakdown because nobody quits two months before bonus after closing a really big deal. He wouldn’t accept my resignation. I was, like, ‘Please, really, I just want to get out, I’ve had enough,’ and he was ‘Don’t worry, take time off, it happens to the best of us.’ ” She left without her bonus in November and married Bashar al-Assad in December.

“What I’ve been able to take away from banking was the transferable skills—the analytical thinking, understanding the business side of running a company—to run an NGO or to try and oversee a project.” She runs her office like a business, chairs meeting after meeting, starts work many days at six, never breaks for lunch, and runs home to her children at four. “It’s my time with them, and I get them fresh, unedited—I love that. I really do.” Her staff are used to eating when they can. “I have a rechargeable battery,” she says.

The 35-year-old first lady’s central mission is to change the mind-set of six million Syrians under eighteen, encourage them to engage in what she calls “active citizenship.” “It’s about everyone taking shared responsibility in moving this country forward, about empowerment in a civil society. We all have a stake in this country; it will be what we make it.”

In 2005 she founded Massar, built around a series of discovery centers where children and young adults from five to 21 engage in creative, informal approaches to civic responsibility. Massar’s mobile Green Team has touched 200,000 kids across Syria since 2005. The organization is privately funded through donations. The Syria Trust for Development, formed in 2007, oversees Massar as well as her first NGO, the rural micro-credit association FIRDOS, and SHABAB, which exists to give young people business skills they need for the future.

And then there’s her cultural mission: “People tend to see Syria as artifacts and history,” she says. “For us it’s about the accumulation of cultures, traditions, values, customs. It’s the difference between hardware and software: the artifacts are the hardware, but the software makes all the difference—the customs and the spirit of openness. We have to make sure that we don’t lose that. . . . ” Here she gives an apologetic grin. “You have to excuse me, but I’m a banker—that brand essence.”

That brand essence includes the distant past. There are 500,000 important ancient works of art hidden in storage; Asma al-Assad has brought in the Louvre to create a network of museums and cultural attractions across Syria, and asked Italian experts to help create a database of the 5,000 archaeological sites in the desert. “Culture,” she says, “is like a financial asset. We have an abundance of it, thousands of years of history, but we can’t afford to be complacent.”

In December, Asma al-Assad was in Paris to discuss her alliance with the Louvre. She dazzled a tough French audience at the International Diplomatic Institute, speaking without notes. “I’m not trying to disguise culture as anything more than it is,” she said, “and if I sound like I’m talking politics, it’s because we live in a politicized region, a politicized time, and we are affected by that.”

The French ambassador to Syria, Eric Chevallier, was there: “She managed to get people to consider the possibilities of a country that’s modernizing itself, that stands for a tolerant secularism in a powder-keg region, with extremists and radicals pushing in from all sides—and the driving force for that rests largely on the shoulders of one couple. I hope they’ll make the right choices for their country and the region. ”

Damascus evokes a dusty version of a Mediterranean hill town in an Eastern-bloc country. The courtyard of the Umayyad Mosque at night looks exactly like St. Mark’s square in Venice. When I first arrive, I’m met on the tarmac by a minder, who gives me a bouquet of white roses and lends me a Syrian cell phone; the head minder, a high-profile American PR, joins us the next day. The first lady’s office has provided drivers, so I shop and see sights in a bubble of comfort and hospitality. On the rare occasions I am out alone, a random series of men in leather jackets seems to be keeping close tabs on what I am doing and where I am headed.

“I like things I can touch. I like to get out and meet people and do things,” the first lady says as we set off for a meeting in a museum and a visit to an orphanage. “As a banker, you have to be so focused on the job at hand that you lose the experience of the world around you. My husband gave me back something I had lost.”

She slips behind the wheel of a plain SUV, a walkie-talkie and her cell thrown between the front seats and a Syrian-silk Louboutin tote on top. She does what the locals do—swerves to avoid crazy men who run across busy freeways, misses her turn, checks your seat belt, points out sights, and then can’t find a parking space. When a traffic cop pulls her over at a roundabout, she lowers the tinted window and dips her head with a playful smile. The cop’s eyes go from slits to saucers.

Her younger brother Feras, a surgeon who moved to Syria to start a private health-care group, says, “Her intelligence is both intellectual and emotional, and she’s a master at harmonizing when, and how much, to use of each one.”

In the Saint Paul orphanage, maintained by the Melkite–Greek Catholic patriarchate and run by the Basilian sisters of Aleppo, Asma sits at a long table with the children. Two little boys in new glasses and thick sweaters are called Yussuf. She asks them what kind of music they like. “Sad music,” says one. In the room where she’s had some twelve computers installed, the first lady tells a nun, “I hope you’re letting the younger children in here go crazy on the computers.” The nun winces: “The children are afraid to learn in case they don’t have access to computers when they leave here,” she says.

In the courtyard by the wall down which Saint Paul escaped in a basket 2,000 years ago, an old tree bears gigantic yellow fruit I have never seen before. Citrons. Cédrats in French.

Back in the car, I ask what religion the orphans are. “It’s not relevant,” says Asma al-Assad. “Let me try to explain it to you. That church is a part of my heritage because it’s a Syrian church. The Umayyad Mosque is the third-most-important holy Muslim site, but within the mosque is the tomb of Saint John the Baptist. We all kneel in the mosque in front of the tomb of Saint John the Baptist. That’s how religions live together in Syria—a way that I have never seen anywhere else in the world. We live side by side, and have historically. All the religions and cultures that have passed through these lands—the Armenians, Islam, Christianity, the Umayyads, the Ottomans—make up who I am.”

“Does that include the Jews?” I ask.

“And the Jews,” she answers. “There is a very big Jewish quarter in old Damascus.”

The Jewish quarter of Damascus spans a few abandoned blocks in the old city that emptied out in 1992, when most of the Syrian Jews left. Their houses are sealed up and have not been touched, because, as people like to tell you, Syrians don’t touch the property of others. The broken glass and sagging upper floors tell a story you don’t understand—are the owners coming back to claim them one day?

The presidential family lives surrounded by neighbors in a modern apartment in Malki. On Friday, the Muslim day of rest, Asma al-Assad opens the door herself in jeans and old suede stiletto boots, hair in a ponytail, the word happiness spelled out across the back of her T-shirt. At the bottom of the stairs stands the off-duty president in jeans—tall, long-necked, blue-eyed. A precise man who takes photographs and talks lovingly about his first computer, he says he was attracted to studying eye surgery “because it’s very precise, it’s almost never an emergency, and there is very little blood.”

The old al-Assad family apartment was remade into a child-friendly triple-decker playroom loft surrounded by immense windows on three sides. With neither shades nor curtains, it’s a fishbowl. Asma al-Assad likes to say, “You’re safe because you are surrounded by people who will keep you safe.” Neighbors peer in, drop by, visit, comment on the furniture. The president doesn’t mind: “This curiosity is good: They come to see you, they learn more about you. You don’t isolate yourself.”

There’s a decorated Christmas tree. Seven-year-old Zein watches Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland on the president’s iMac; her brother Karim, six, builds a shark out of Legos; and nine-year-old Hafez tries out his new electric violin. All three go to a Montessori school.

Asma al-Assad empties a box of fondue mix into a saucepan for lunch. The household is run on wildly democratic principles. “We all vote on what we want, and where,” she says. The chandelier over the dining table is made of cut-up comic books. “They outvoted us three to two on that.”

A grid is drawn on a blackboard, with ticks for each member of the family. “We were having trouble with politeness, so we made a chart: ticks for when they spoke as they should, and a cross if they didn’t.” There’s a cross next to Asma’s name. “I shouted,” she confesses. “I can’t talk about empowering young people, encouraging them to be creative and take responsibility, if I’m not like that with my own children.”

“The first challenge for us was, Who’s going to define our lives, us or the position?” says the president. “We wanted to live our identity honestly.”

They announced their marriage in January 2001, after the ceremony, which they kept private. There was deliberately no photograph of Asma. “The British media picked that up as: Now she’s moved into the presidential palace, never to be seen again!” says Asma, laughing.

They had a reason: “She spent three months incognito,” says the president. “Before I had any official engagement,” says the first lady, “I went to 300 villages, every governorate, hospitals, farms, schools, factories, you name it—I saw everything to find out where I could be effective. A lot of the time I was somebody’s ‘assistant’ carrying the bag, doing this and that, taking notes. Nobody asked me if I was the first lady; they had no idea.”

“That way,” adds the president, “she started her NGO before she was ever seen in public as my wife. Then she started to teach people that an NGO is not a charity.”

Neither of them believes in charity for the sake of charity. “We have the Iraqi refugees,” says the president. “Everybody is talking about it as a political problem or as welfare, charity. I say it’s neither—it’s about cultural philosophy. We have to help them. That’s why the first thing I did is to allow the Iraqis to go into schools. If they don’t have an education, they will go back as a bomb, in every way: terrorism, extremism, drug dealers, crime. If I have a secular and balanced neighbor, I will be safe.”

When Angelina Jolie came with Brad Pitt for the United Nations in 2009, she was impressed by the first lady’s efforts to encourage empowerment among Iraqi and Palestinian refugees but alarmed by the Assads’ idea of safety.

“My husband was driving us all to lunch,” says Asma al-Assad, “and out of the corner of my eye I could see Brad Pitt was fidgeting. I turned around and asked, ‘Is anything wrong?’ ”

“Where’s your security?” asked Pitt.

“So I started teasing him—‘See that old woman on the street? That’s one of them! And that old guy crossing the road?

That’s the other one!’ ” They both laugh.

The president joins in the punch line: “Brad Pitt wanted to send his security guards here to come and get some training!”

After lunch, Asma al-Assad drives to the airport, where a Falcon 900 is waiting to take her to Massar in Latakia, on the coast. When she lands, she jumps behind the wheel of another SUV waiting on the tarmac. This is the kind of surprise visit she specializes in, but she has no idea how many kids will turn up at the community center on a rainy Friday.

As it turns out, it’s full. Since the first musical notation was discovered nearby, at Ugarit, the immaculate Massar center in Latakia is built around music. Local kids are jamming in a sound booth; a group of refugee Palestinian girls is playing instruments. Others play chess on wall-mounted computers. These kids have started online blood banks, run marathons to raise money for dialysis machines, and are working on ways to rid Latakia of plastic bags. Apart from a few girls in scarves, you can’t tell Muslims from Christians.

Asma al-Assad stands to watch a laborious debate about how—and whether—to standardize the Arabic spelling of the word Syria. Then she throws out a curve ball. “I’ve been advised that we have to close down this center so as to open another one somewhere else,” she says. Kids’ mouths drop open. Some repress tears. Others are furious. One boy chooses altruism: “That’s OK. We know how to do it now; we’ll help them.”

Then the first lady announces, “That wasn’t true. I just wanted to see how much you care about Massar.”

As the pilot expertly avoids sheet lightning above the snow-flecked desert on the way back, she explains, “There was a little bit of formality in what they were saying to me; it wasn’t real. Tricks like this help—they became alive, they became passionate. We need to get past formalities if we are going to get anything done.”

Two nights later it’s the annual Christmas concert by the children of Al-Farah Choir, run by the Syrian Catholic Father Elias Zahlawi. Just before it begins, Bashar and Asma al-Assad slip down the aisle and take the two empty seats in the front row. People clap, and some call out his nickname:

Two hundred children dressed variously as elves, reindeers, or candy canes share the stage with members of the national orchestra, who are done up as elves. The show becomes a full-on songfest, with the elves and reindeer and candy canes giving their all to “Hallelujah” and “Joy to the World.” The carols slide into a more serpentine rhythm, an Arabic rap group takes over, and then it’s back to Broadway mode. The president whispers, “All of these styles belong to our culture. This is how you fight extremism—through art.”

Brass bells are handed out. Now we’re all singing “Jingle Bell Rock,” 1,331 audience members shaking their bells, singing, crying, and laughing.

“This is the diversity you want to see in the Middle East,” says the president, ringing his bell. “This is how you can have peace!”


The Damask Rose

It’s interesting that the title of the Vogue article would have contained the words “Rose of the Desert.” Syria, of course, is a major cultivation center of the Damask rose, a species of flower highly prized for its fragrance and used in the production of rose oil and rose water.

Below is a report on the rose harvest in Syria posted by China TV earlier this year. The reporter makes a good point: “Life and light are stronger than death and darkness.”

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: