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Israeli forces killed her 40-year-old teenager

Twenty years ago, Mrs. Elayyan finished her second decade duration of infertility. She and her husband had finally decided to undergo the relatively new assisted reproductive technique at that time in Palestine.

Nine months later, their parental longing and patience were  cooled when they heard the high-pitched crying of their son, who was named 'Mahmoud'.

Mrs. Elayyan and her husband --who had been diagnosed as infertile couple for  20 years duration—were obsessed about their new son  and they managed to offer him the best education they can.
Mr.  Elayyan passed away leaving Mahmoud to be raised by his mother.

At the age of 18, Mahmoud  joined faculty of Nursing upon his desire. Two years after his enrollment, he was shot  in his head by Israeli forces while he was participating in a demonstration in Ramallah.
Mahmoud the nurse
Mahmoud the protester
Eventually, Mahmoud died in November 19 2015 due to brain injury.

Mahmoud the martyr
I am thinking how many times does his mother open his closet to smell his clothes?

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Turkey-Israel Reconciliation

On 31 May 2010, Mavi Marmara the flagship of Gaza freedom flotilla was attacked in the international waters of the Mediterranean Sea by Israeli special forces. Nine Turkish activists were killed in the attack. The flotilla was heading to Gaza strip in attempt to break the siege.

The Turkish-Israeli diplomatic relation was frozen following the attack and Turkey withdrew its ambassador and expelled Israel’s ambassador in February 2011.
Nevertheless, the economic ties have never been negatively affected and the double-taxation prevention treaty remained valid despite the diplomatic tensions.

Turkey laid down three conditions for the normalization with Israel. The first condition was an apology from Israel. The second was the payment of the compensation and the third one is to end the blockade on Gaza.

However, Turkish and Israeli officials met in Switzerland on Thursday where a preliminary reconciliation deal was set to be reached between the two countries, a senior Turkish official said.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the agreement between the two countries includes the following:
1. In the framework of the agreement, Israel will pay Turkey $20 million in compensation, which will be transferred to a special fund that will in turn provide grants to the families of the Turkish citizens who were killed or injured in the Israel Navy's takeover of the Mavi Marmara.

2. Turkey and Israel will renew and normalize their relations and return their respective ambassadors to Tel Aviv and Ankara.

3. The Turkish parliament will pass a law that will annul all legal claims against Israeli Defense Force officers and soldiers in connection with the flotilla incident and will prevent future claims from being filed.

4. Turkey will expel Saleh al-Aruri, a senior member of Hamas' military wing, who is based in Istanbul.

5. Once the final agreement between the two countries has been signed, Turkey and Israel will explore cooperating in the natural gas field – with Turkey buying gas from Israel's offshore oil fields and the laying of a gas pipeline that would run via Turkey and through which Israel would export gas to Europe.

According to the leaked items, Gaza blockade will not be completely ended although it was the reason for murdering nine Turkish activists in the international water of the Mediterranean sea. Their mission was clear; to break the siege over Gaza.

It's about Gas

"Turkey is preparing to cut imports of LPG from Russia by a significant 25% next year. This puts a major damper on the Gazprom -Botas Petroleum Turkish Stream project, a project that was designed to connect Turkey to Europe through Greece. 
When that deal was discussed, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry lobbied the Greek government to diversify its supply by turning to U.S. fuel instead of cheaper Russian imports."

Fifty nine percent of Turkey's gas imported from Russia, and Turkey seeks to replace the Russian gas with Israeli one. The sales volume from Turkey is equivalent of 17 percent of Gazprom’s total exports outside the former Soviet Union, according to company data.
Turkey's Gas sources in 2012

On the other hand, Israel is looking forward to export its gas to Europe, which is about 500 km from Israeli coasts and Turkey constitutes a feasible route. Turkey also controls parts of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, between Israel and Europe.
Israel's natural gas could go to Europe through Turkey since building pipelines under the Mediterranean is costly and difficult. The Leviathan gas field is believed to have a reserve of more than 620 billion cubic meters.

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Paris Attacks Are A Conspiracy Practice

On November 13, Paris witnessed series of coordinated terrorist attacks started with suicide bombings at 09:20 pm, outside the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, the northern suburb of Paris.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks and French president François Hollande announced that "France is in war".

Questions seeking for answers:

CIA Director: Co-ordinated attacks in Paris suggests "sophisticated operation", CIA director said. 
Iraqi intelligence sent a dispatch saying the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had ordered an attack on coalition countries fighting against them in Iraq and Syria, as well as on Iran and Russia, through bombings or other attacks in the days ahead. So the French intelligence had been informed about immediate terrorist attacks in France. Perhaps the French Home security did not take that seriously or there was failure of performance on the ground.

However, French-born Israeli journalist says Jewish community has been on alert for months amid fears of mass terror attack. "The Bataclan theater, site of Friday’s deadliest attack, was until recently Jewish-owned, said Sellem. As the site of annual fundraisers for the IDF, it is frequently targeted by anti-Israel protests, phone calls and emails, he said".
But how could the French Jewish community be warned about imminent terrorist attacks while French society was unaware of such attacks?

The Intercept has reviewed 10 high-profile jihadi attacks carried out in Western countries between 2013 and 2015..., and in each case some or all of the perpetrators were already known to the authorities before they executed their plot. In other words, most of the terrorists involved were not ghost operatives who sprang from nowhere to commit their crimes; they were already viewed as a potential threat, yet were not subjected to sufficient scrutiny by authorities under existing counterterrorism powers. Some of those involved in last week’s Paris massacre, for instance, were already known to authorities; at least three of the men appear to have been flagged at different times as having been radicalized, but warning signs were ignored.
But why were these warning signs ignored?

In Al Jazeera’s Head to Head episode, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Michael Flynn confirms to Mehdi Hasan that not only had he studied the DIA memo predicting the West’s backing of an Islamic State in Syria when it came across his desk in 2012, but even asserts that the White House’s sponsoring of radical jihadists (that would emerge as ISIL and Nusra) against the Syrian regime was “a willful decision.

Former DIA director Michael Flynn: It was a decision to fund, arm ISIS, source: Al Jazeera via Youtube.

The Guardian published a worthy title: "Paris attacks: latest evidence points to wider conspiracy", which included:
"New evidence emerging from the investigation into the Paris attacks points to a conspiracy significantly wider than the nine jihadi thought to have carried out the killings and that was orchestrated primarily by disaffected young Europeans."

However, they focused on the circle of terrorists, their sympathizers and assistants, rather than focusing on a widespectral view.

"For many, claims that the attackers belong to ISIS is a deal breaker. For these individuals, ISIS is a shadowy terrorist organization that supports itself and has created a caliphate in eastern Syria and western Iraq that can scarcely be defeated (except when the Russians bomb it). However, the facts do not support such a shallow understanding of the ISIS terrorist organization. ISIS was entirely created, funded and directed by the United States, Britain, France and other NATO countries. Its actions have been coordinated by the Anglo-American Intelligence apparatus for geopolitical purposes all across the world both at home and abroad. For this reason, the declaration that ISIS committed a terrorist attack in Paris is by no means a get-out-of-jail-free card for the Western Intelligence apparatus. Instead, it is the trademark of their handiwork. Please see these articles for more information on the nature of ISIS: here, here, here and here.

While the information presented above may not be enough evidence to conclude that the Paris attacks were false flag attacks, it is reason enough to question the official story thus far. If these attacks are indeed placed in the lap of ISIS, however, all fingers should immediately point to NATO and the Atlanticist Intelligence apparatus. It is they who control ISIS and they who bear the responsibility for its actions."

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Why do I become a pro-Assad activist?

Arab uprisings started as the natural fate of longstanding totalitarianism, corruption and lack of social justice.
The economic situation played a major role to evoke the spontaneous and unexpected popular demonstrations in central squares. 
At the beginning, Tunisia witnessed massive demonstrations ended by throwing the dictator, but the spark was a successful suicide attempt by surfed vegetable seller who was insulted by the municipal police. Contagiously, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen followed Tunisia respectively.

Where to be and why?
Modern capital regimes blame Stalin for killing 50 million Soviets, but they did not mention his role in preserving the Soviet Union united. 
Russia is now the largest country in the world by landmass (about 11% of world's area), although the country is quite various regarding to religion, ethnicity and culture.

Moreover, Stalin's Russia played a major role to defeat the Nazi army, due to Soviet tough resistance and Russia's climate as well.
Democracy is not always the magic solution for nations, especially those who face immediate foreign aggression.

The case of Iraq
The Anglo-American invasion toppled Iraq's Saddam Hussien, but we now know that Iraq was a leading Arab state. No one spoke about the skillful Iraqi scientists who were so qualified in their fields. The socialist republic offered free basic and high education as well as state-funded scholarships.
Moreover, the secular regime prevented sectarian violence and maintained basic services like water supply, electricity and clean cities.
Current US-architected Iraqi regime is non-democratic, sectarian and corrupt. For example, the electricity runs for few hours daily in one of the hottest cities in the Arab world.
My point is not support dictators, but to oppose the much worse alternatives.

Syria again
A feeling of anger and sadness covered me last night, when I watched the Syrian rebels celebrating the successive Israeli airstrikes on the Syrian army. Then I wrote on twitter, If the pro-NATO rebels had an ounce of patriotism, they would defend their homeland.

In case the Syrian rebels seized the power in Syria, let's imagine the scenario in points:
  • Political and social stability will be just a wish and Al-Qaeda will kill non-Sunni as will as opponent Sunnis.
  • The Western-backed Syrian opposition has no true base on the ground, and the Libyan scenario will be repeated (i.e. unmerciful fight on the authority).
  • Syria will be just another Arab Zionist-controlled state. 
  • The Syrian victims will be doubled, if not tripled, since most of opposition forces are sectarian and non-organized.
  • The axis of resistance will be profoundly halted. Currently, it is the only axis which inhibits Israel's aspirations in the region.
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A Scope on Jewish Terrorism in Palestine

A picture of 18-month-old Palestinian toddler who was burned alive by Jewish extremists (July 31).
Brief record:
One-and-a-half year old Ali Saad Dawabsha became the latest victim of Israeli violence on July 31. He was burned to death. Other members of his family were also severely burned in a Jewish settlers’ attack on their home in the village of Duma, near Nablus, in the West Bank.

One year ago, three Israeli Jews admitted kidnapping and burning Palestinian teenage to death. Mohammed Abu Khdeir was found burned to death after disappearing in July 2nd, 2014. Forensic analysis of his remains suggested he was still alive when he was set alight.

On June 18, extremist Jews set fire to “Fish and Bread” Church in Tiberias located close to Tiberias lake. Jews also wrote racial slogans on the walls of the church.

Yishai Schlissel, an Utra-orthodox rabbi stabbed six people at Jerusalem's annual Gay Pride. A 16-year-old girl 'Shira' died as a result of the attack at Hadassah University Medical center.

Benzi Gopstein, leader of anti-Arab group Lehava, allegedly called for the burning of churches at a panel held this week for Jewish yeshiva students, using ancient Halachic, or Jewish law, to condemn what he called Christian "idol worship."
When a journalist at the panel informed Gopstein that he was on camera and could be arrested for his comments, Gopstein said he is prepared to spend 50 years in jail for his remarks, according to a video of the panel released by the Haredi website Kikar Shabbat.

Israeli President Rivlin was threatened by suspected Jewish extremists after his comments on the death of an 18-month-old Palestinian amid worsening tension between Israel and Palestine.

Ben-Gurion - Rabbi Herzog deal:
The first Israeli prime minister considered the army service by ultra-Orthodox Jews a "First and Foremost, a Great Moral Issue", as Ben-Gurion replied on Herzog's letter. However, "The exchange of letters between the two dealt with Ben-Gurion's intention of reducing the scale of the postponement of army service, which had been granted some ten years before to ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students and which in fact gave most of them complete exemption from military duty."

Silent conflict: Secular versus religious Jews:
Secular Zionists blame ultra-orthodox Jews for the economic crises in Israel. The latter usually don't work nor participate in social or military activities. Moreover, Haredim Jews usually have large families and they are almost totally dependent on the state's funds.
Haredim [Ultra-orthodox Jews who refuse the modern secular lifestyle] typically had large families and it was hard for them to survive when Haredi men would
stay in the yeshiva and refuse to work in the Israeli economy. These funds allowed yeshiva
students to support themselves and it dissuaded them from looking at finding employment in the Israeli workforce. The Haredim clung to this provision intensely, often fighting to keep funding strong despite the fact it was coming from the Israeli government. They tried confronting this paradox in various ways, but were mostly unsuccessful. For example, establishing an independent social service system was meant to counter the dependence on the Israeli government for important social services. However, groups like the Neturei Karta have been successful in staying independent of Israeli social services, thanks to their commitment to resist Zionism as much as possible. "Haredim vs. Secular: Israel’s Internal Culture War and the Fight for Israeli Identity", Levitt Fellowship Research, Hamilton College, 2012
The ‘Equal Burden’ law:
The Knesset approved the ‘Equal Burden’ law in 2014, according to which thousands of Haredi Yeshivah students will be drafted into the "Israeli Defense Forces" beginning in 2017. The opposition protested the vote, and even in the coalition there was disagreement after MK Chetboun (Jewish Home Party) voted against the law.

The inevitable explosion:
Haredim Jews who refuse the modern life, and work nothing, but preaching hatred against Christians, Muslims and even secular Zionists and Jewish gays as well. They also have their loyal followers who are ready to execute their 'holy orders'.
Undoubtedly, Jewish extremists will keep assaults against the mentioned groups and/or Non-Jewish holy places. However, the conflict will be escalated someday if they keep their hatred crimes in the same pace.
For instance, what will happen if they attack Holy Sepulcher (Church of the Resurrection) or Al-Aqsa Mosque?

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Israel Appoints Special Team to Plan Strike on Iran

By Ari Yashar, Arutz Sheva |  
As world powers and Iran reach a deadline Tuesday – which may be extended – for talks on the Islamic regime’s nuclear program, Israel is taking steps to prepare for a military strike on Tehran’s nuclear facilities so as to defend itself from the impending threat.

Iran has refused to allow inspections of its covert nuclear sites and declared it will use advanced centrifuges as soon as a deal is met, meaning the leading state sponsor of terrorism could potentially obtain a nuclear arsenal within weeks, all while getting billions of dollars in sanctions relief through a nuclear deal.

The Hebrew-language Walla! reported Tuesday that it has learned from a foreign source that IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot has appointed Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan to head a special team tasked with examining the military options against Iran.

The team would explore what kind of striking options are available to Israel after a deal with Iran is signed.

By appointing such a senior IDF official to the team, it is estimated that Israel is considering the signing of a deal to be a game changer which would require a serious reevaluation of the regional situation, and likely necessitate military action against Iran.

Sources close to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) say there is a pressing need to present a powerful military option against Iran, a reality which is being used to demand that the defense budget not be reduced by the Knesset.

For over 15 years the IDF has been examining the possibility of military action against Iran’s ever burgeoning nuclear program, and the majority of the funding for such preparedness has gone to the Israeli Air Force (IAF) and the IDF’s intelligence branch.

“Iran is lying – what do we do?”

A source close to Ya’alon was quoted by Walla! saying, “nothing has changed regarding the military option. Our working assumption is that Iran is lying all the time, beyond the fact that it is funding and directing terror in the Middle East. It (Iran) is our most bitter enemy today, even though we don’t share a physical border with it, and we must not put off any kind of preparedness against it.”

“In the end we don’t believe Iran. We don’t believe the (nuclear) project will be stopped. Therefore the (military) option will remain. …We need to be ready also for the day in which Israel will need to make decisions alone. (What) if it becomes clear they are pushing the envelope in breach of the agreement? Or if Iran goes down deep underground (with its nuclear facilities)? And if new sites are found? Will we wait for the US to take care of them?”

“You have to prepare yourself for all of the threats. Not only for Gaza and Lebanon,” added the source. “The military option costs money but the more time goes by, you’re better prepared to carry out the mission.”

Indicating Israel’s growing preparedness ahead of a potential military clash with Iran, the IAF held a special drill with the Greek air force two months ago, in which roughly 100 members of the IAF took part including dozens of crews from all the F-16i squadrons.

The unusual drill had IAF pilots operating in unfamiliar territory for a night and the following day, and included simulations of strikes and dogfights involving dozens of fighter jets.

Most importantly, in the drill the Greek army reportedly deployed advanced anti-missile defense systems similar to the Russian S-300 that Moscow sold to Iran and has yet to ship. The advanced S-300 system is considered to be a major challenge in carrying out an airstrike in that it can shoot down rockets as well as jets.

Source: Arutz Sheva
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Wahhabism, Al Saud and ISIS – The Unholy Trinity

By Catherine Shakdam | 
Although ISIS has certainly been sold as an Islamic movement, everything it professes and teaches stands against Islam and its teachings. This divide actually goes beyond Islam’s great schism – which schism it needs to be noted remains part of this myth Saudi Arabia has been so eager on selling the world.

If indeed religious disagreements have occurred over the centuries and if Muslims have in truth fought and argue over the legitimacy, legality and religious superiority of their schools of thoughts and judicial principles, scholars did so in the knowledge and express belief that while men are flawed, Islam is perfect.

Islam’s disagreements came about out from a desire to walk better on God’s path, not to obliterate people with an implacable and merciless truth.

Looking back at the long line of prophets, from Adam to Noah, Ibrahim, Jesus, Yehia and Mohammed (PBUT), all shared in the Oneness which is God’s ultimate command, God’s boundless mercy onto His creation and His injunction of peace. And if those holy messengers came at different times and places in our history, the essence of their message has been as permanent and immovable as God’s will. From Adam’s first cries of remorse and calls for forgiveness, to Prophet Mohammed’s last breath, God’s message onto us has always been Islam, as Islam means submission. In truth, the only real freedom which was ever given to us is that to submit body and soul to The Creator of All things.

Islam did not start at Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), rather it was reborn with him and through him; a last call before the sunset, a last mercy and guidance for us to follow – or not – a last ray of hope before evil can get its fill and the last chapter of our fate written down.

Islam was on the first day as it will be on the last day – it is us which have called it many things in our need to possess and label the divine. It is us again which have strayed and plotted, coveted and perverted to serve very earthly ambitions.

Wahhabism is no more than an engineered perversion, a division, an abomination which has but spread like a cancer onto the Islamic world and now threatens to destroy all religions.

Wahhabism and its legions: Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram and all the rest of it, are but the manifestation of a reactionary atheist movement which seeks the death of all faiths.

Wahhabism is not of Islam and Islam will never be of Wahhabism – it is a folly to conceive that Islam would ever sanction murder, looting and atrocious barbarism. Islam opposes despotism, injustice, infamy , deceits, greed, extremism, asceticism – everything which is not balanced and good, fair and merciful, kind and compassionate.

If anything, Wahhabism is the very negation of Islam. As many have called it before – Islam is not Wahhabism. Wahhabism is merely the misguided expression of one man’s political ambition – Mohammed Abdel Wahhab, a man who was recruited by Empire Britain to erode at the fabric of Islam and crack the unity of its ummah (community).

As Wahhabism began its land and mind grab in Hijaz – now known as Saudi Arabia – one family, Al Saud saw in this violent and reactionary school of thought a grand opportunity to claim and retain power. This unholy alliance has blotted the skies of Arabia for centuries, darkening the horizon with its miasm.

Wahhabism has now given birth to a monstrous abomination – extreme radicalism; a beast which has sprung and fed from Salafis and Wahhabis poison, fueled by the billions of Al Saud’s petrodollars; a weapon exploited by neo-imperialists to justify military interventions in those wealthiest corners of the world.

But though those powers which thought themselves cunning by weaving a network of fear around the world to better assert and enslave are losing control over their brain-child, ISIS and its sisters in hate and fury, as they all have gone nuclear, no longer bound by the chains their fathers shackled them with.

ISIS’s obscene savagery epitomises the violence which is inherent and central to Wahhabism and Salafism, its other deviance. And though the world knows now the source of all terror, no power has yet dared speak against it, instead the world has chosen to hate its designated victim – Islam.

In July 2013, the European Parliament identified Wahhabism as the main source of global terrorism, and yet the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, condemning ISIS in the strongest terms, has insisted that “the ideas of extremism, radicalism and terrorism do not belong to Islam in any way”. But then again the Grand Mufti might remain oblivious to the history of Wahhabism or what Wahhabism actually professes.

Wahhabism 101

During the 18th century, revivalist movements sprang up in many parts of the Islamic world as the Muslim imperial powers began to lose control of peripheral territories. In the west at this time, governments were beginning to separate church from state, but this secular ideal was a radical innovation: as revolutionary as the commercial economy that Europe was concurrently devising. No other culture regarded religion as a purely private activity, separate from such worldly pursuits as politics, so for Muslims the political fragmentation of society was also a religious problem. Because the Quran had given Muslims a sacred mission – to build a just economy in which everybody is treated with equity and respect – the political well-being of the ummah was always a matter of sacred import. If the poor were oppressed, the vulnerable exploited or state institutions corrupt, Muslims were obliged to make every effort to put society back on track.

If 18th-century reformers were convinced that should Muslims ever regain lost power and prestige, they would have to return to the fundamentals of their faith, ensuring that God – rather than materialism or worldly ambition – dominated the political order, Wahhabism would come to pervert such desires.

There was nothing militant about this “fundamentalism”; not yet, rather, it was a grassroots attempt to reorient society and did not involve jihad.

Only, if the idea of going back to the root of Islam at a time when society had strayed from the path was indeed laudable, Wahhabism would work to betray such ideal by twisting on its head Islam’s most sacred pillars, perverting Islamic law and the interpretation of its scriptures to serve the mighty and enslave the weak.

Under Wahhabism’s interpretation of Islam, women reverted to being objectified. Those many great women Islam saw rise under the strict protection of the Quran, those models Muslim women came to look up to and aspire to become – Maryam, Khadija, Fatma, Zaynab, Mohammed Abdel Wahhab would have had locked up in chains in their home.

When Islam gave women their rightful place within society, Wahhabism denied them everything.

And for those of you who continue to live under the premise that Islam is profoundly unfair against women, do remember it is not Islam but rather men’s interpretation of it which is the source of your ire.

Islam secured women’ status according to God’s will. Islam poses both men and women o a equal footing in terms of their faith – it is only in their duties and responsibilities which they differ, not worthiness. Islam calls on men to provide for women and offer them security, both financial and physical. Under Islam women are free to marry, divorce and work. Under Islam women cannot be bought, bartered or oppressed. Under Islam women enjoy more freedom than most western women have been given. It is society which has denied them those rights, not Islam. Read the Quran and you will see!

Like Martin Luther, Abdel Wahhab claimed he wanted to return to the earliest teachings of Islam and eject all later medieval accretions. To achieve such ambitions he opposed Sufism and Shia Islam, labelling them as heretical innovations (bidah) as both opposed tyranny in faith. He went on to urge all Muslims to reject the learned exegesis developed over the centuries by the ulema (scholars) and interpret the texts for themselves, or rather under his guidance.

This naturally incensed the clergy and threatened local rulers, who believed that interfering with these popular devotions would cause social unrest. Eventually, however, Wahhab found a patron in Mohammed Ibn Saud, a chieftain of Najd who adopted his ideas. Ibn Saud quickly used Wahhabism to support his military campaigns for plunder and territory, insisting such violence was all in the name of the greater good.

To this day Al Saud’s house is following in such bloody footsteps.

Although the scriptures were so central to Abdel Wahhab’s ideology, by insisting that his version of Islam alone had validity, he distorted the Quranic message in the most violent way. The Quran firmly states that “There must be no coercion in matters of faith” (2:256).

It rules that Muslims must believe in the revelations of all the great prophets (3:84) and that religious pluralism was God’s will (5:48). Until Wahhabism came knocking, Muslims remained traditionally wary of takfir, the practice of declaring a fellow Muslim to be an unbeliever (kafir). Hitherto Sufism, which had developed an outstanding appreciation of other faith traditions, had been the most popular form of Islam and had played an important role in both social and religious life. “Do not praise your own faith so exclusively that you disbelieve all the rest,” urged the great mystic Ibn al-Arabi (d.1240). “God the omniscient and omnipresent cannot be confined to any one creed.” It was common for a Sufi to claim that he was a neither a Jew nor a Christian, nor even a Muslim, because once you glimpsed the divine, you left these man-made distinctions behind.

After Wahhab’s death, Wahhabism became more violent, an instrument of state terror. As Al Saud sought to establish an independent kingdom, Abd al-Aziz Ibn Muhammad, Ibn Saud’s son and successor, used takfir to justify the wholesale slaughter of resistant populations. In 1801, his army sacked the holy Shia city of Karbala in what is now Iraq, plundered the tomb of Imam Hussain, and slaughtered thousands of Shias, including women and children; in 1803, in fear and panic, the holy city of Mecca surrendered to the Saudi leader.

Little do we remember the sacking of the holy city of Medina, when Al Saud’s legions ransacked mosques, schools and homes. Al Saud’s army murdered hundreds of men, women and children, deaf to their screams. As imams pleaded for the most sacred relics of Islam to be protected, Al Saud’s men pillaged and looted, setting fire to Medina’s library. Al Saud made an example out of Medina, the very city which proved so welcoming to Islam. On the ground which saw rise the first mosque of Islam, Al Saud soaked the earth red with blood.

Where the footsteps of the last Prophet of God still echoed, Al Saud filled the air with ghastly cries of horrors.

But such terror has been erased from history books. Such tale of blood and savage betrayals have been swallowed whole by Al Saud as this house attempted to re-write history and claim lineage to the house of the prophet.

Eventually, in 1815, the Ottomans despatched Muhammad Ali Pasha, governor of Egypt, to crush the Wahhabi forces and destroy their capital. But Wahhabism became a political force once again during the First World War when the Saudi chieftain – another Abd al-Aziz – made a new push for statehood and began to carve out a large kingdom for himself in the Middle East with his devout Bedouin army, known as the Ikhwan, the “Brotherhood”.

In the Ikhwan we see the roots of ISIS. To break up the tribes and wean them from the nomadic life which was deemed incompatible with Islam, the Wahhabi clergy had settled the Bedouin in oases, where they learned farming and the crafts of sedentary life and were indoctrinated in Wahhabi Islam. Once they exchanged the time-honoured ghazu raid, which typically resulted in the plunder of livestock, for the Wahhabi-style jihad, these Bedouin fighters became more violent and extreme, covering their faces when they encountered Europeans and non-Saudi Arabs and fighting with lances and swords because they disdained weaponry not used by the Prophet. In the old ghazu raids, the Bedouin had always kept casualties to a minimum and did not attack non-combatants. Now the Ikhwan routinely massacred “apostate” unarmed villagers in their thousands, thought nothing of slaughtering women and children, and routinely slit the throats of all male captives.

In 1915, Abd al-Aziz planned to conquer Hijaz (an area in the west of present-day Saudi Arabia that includes the cities of Mecca and Medina), the Persian Gulf to the east of Najd, and the land that is now Syria and Jordan in the north, but during the 1920s he tempered his ambitions in order to acquire diplomatic standing as a nation state with Britain and the United States. The Ikhwan, however, continued to raid the British protectorates of Iraq, Transjordan and Kuwait, insisting that no limits could be placed on jihad. Regarding all modernisation as bidah, the Ikhwan also attacked Abd al-Aziz for permitting telephones, cars, the telegraph, music and smoking – indeed, anything unknown in Muhammad’s time – until finally Abd al-Aziz quashed their rebellion in 1930.

After the defeat of the Ikhwan, the official Wahhabism of the Saudi kingdom abandoned militant jihad and became a religiously conservative movement.

But the Ikhwan spirit and its dream of territorial expansion did not die, instead it gained new ground in the 1970s, when the Kingdom became central to western foreign policy in the region. Washington welcomed the Saudis’ opposition to Nasserism (the pan-Arab socialist ideology of Egypt’s second president, Gamal Abdel Nasser) and to Soviet influence. After the Iranian Revolution, in 1979 it gave tacit support to the Saudis’ project of countering Shia Islam by Wahhabizing the entire Muslim world.

Just as Nasserism posed a threat to both the Saudis and the U.S. in that it entailed independence and a supranational sense of belonging and solidarity, in opposition to colonialism and feudalism, Iran Shia democratic movement presented too much of a pull for countries in the region to follow to be allowed to shine forth.

And so the wheels of propaganda were set in motion and Iran became western powers and its allies’ designated enemy. Right alongside Soviet Russia, Iran became the source of all evil, while all the while Saudi Arabia was left to industrialize radicalism on a mass scale.

The soaring oil price created by the 1973 embargo – when Arab petroleum producers cut off supplies to the U.S. to protest against the Americans’ military support for Israel – gave the Kingdom all the petrodollars it needed to export its idiosyncratic form of Islam.

The old military jihad to spread the faith was now replaced by a cultural offensive. The Saudi-based Muslim World League opened offices in every region inhabited by Muslims, and the Saudi ministry of religion printed and distributed Wahhabi translations of the Quran, Wahhabi doctrinal texts and the writings of modern thinkers whom the Saudis found congenial, such as Sayyids Abul-A’la Maududi and Qutb, to Muslim communities throughout the Middle East, Africa, Indonesia, the United States and Europe. In all these places, they funded the building of Saudi-style mosques with Wahhabi preachers and established madrasas that provided free education for the poor, with, of course, a Wahhabi curriculum.

Slowly Muslims’ understanding of Islam became polluted by Wahhabism and Sunni Muslims began to think and breath Wahhabism, no longer in tune with its own religious tradition, cut off from free-thinking Islam, moderate Islam, compassionate Islam and non-violent Islam.

At the same time, young men from the poorer Muslim countries, such as Egypt and Pakistan, who had felt compelled to find work in the Gulf to support their families, associated their relative affluence with Wahhabism and brought this faith back home with them, living in new neighbourhoods with Saudi mosques and shopping malls that segregated the sexes. The Saudis demanded religious conformity in return for their munificence, so Wahhabi rejection of all other forms of Islam as well as other faiths would reach as deeply into Bradford, England, and Buffalo, New York, as into Pakistan, Jordan or Syria: everywhere gravely undermining Islam’s traditional pluralism.

A whole generation of Muslims, therefore, has grown up with a maverick form of Islam that has given them a negative view of other faiths and an intolerantly sectarian understanding of their own. While not extremist per se, this is an outlook in which radicalism can develop. In the past, the learned exegesis of the ulema, which Wahhabis rejected, had held extremist interpretations of scripture in check; but now unqualified freelancers such as Osama Bin Laden were free to develop highly unorthodox readings of the Quran. To prevent the spread of radicalism, the Saudis tried to deflect their young from the internal problems of the kingdom during the 1980s by encouraging a pan-Islamist sentiment of which the Wahhabi ulema did not approve.

ISIS – the brain child of Wahhabism

Like the Ikhwan before, ISIS represents a rebellion against the official Wahhabism of modern Saudi Arabia. Its swords, covered faces and cut-throat executions all recall the original Brotherhood. But it is unlikely that the ISIS hordes consist entirely of diehard jihadists. A substantial number are probably secularists who resent the status quo in Iraq – Baathists from Saddam Hussein’s regime and former soldiers of his disbanded army.

This would actually explain ISIS’s strong performance against professional military forces. In all likelihood, few of the young recruits are motivated either by Wahhabism or by more traditional Muslim ideals. In 2008, MI5’s behavioural science unit noted that, “far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practise their faith regularly. Many lack religious literacy and could be regarded as religious novices.”

A significant proportion of those convicted of terrorism offences since the 9/11 attacks have been non-observant, or are self-taught. Misguided or disguised ISIS militants are certainly not looking for religious enlightenment; rather they have been sold to a violence which speaks to their own pain and sense of loss.

Two wannabe jihadists who set out from Birmingham for Syria last May had ordered Islam for Dummies from Amazon. ISIS militants are no Muslim devouts, only sociopathic begots.

It would be a mistake to see ISIS as a throwback; it is a thoroughly modern movement which has drawn its inspiration from the Ikhwan crusades. It has become an efficient, self-financing business with assets estimated at $2bn. Its looting, theft of gold bullion from banks, kidnapping, siphoning of oil in the conquered territories and extortion have made it the wealthiest jihadist group in the world. There is nothing random or irrational about ISIS violence. The execution videos are carefully and strategically planned to inspire terror, deter dissent and sow chaos in the greater population.

ISIS is not just a terror army, it is a terror movement with imperialistic ambitions. And if its methods are terrifying and bloody they are hardly an innovation. There too ISIS drew from past examples – Mass killing is after all a thoroughly modern phenomenon, one which western powers gave into many times over.

During the French Revolution, which led to the emergence of the first secular state in Europe, the Jacobins publicly beheaded about 17,000 men, women and children.

The Soviet Bolsheviks, the Khmer Rouge and the Red Guard all used systematic terrorism to purge humanity of corruption.

In the 1990s, Armenia slaughtered hundreds upon hundreds of Azeris in a grand scale flash ethnic cleansing campaign.

Similarly, ISIS uses violence to achieve a single, limited and clearly defined objective that would be impossible without such slaughter. As such, it is another expression of the dark side of modernity – industrial killing to achieve politico-strategic goals.

Above all ISIS wants rebuild the caliphate Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in Turkey declared null and void in 1925.

The caliphate had long been a dead letter politically, but because it symbolised the unity of the ummah and its link with the Prophet, Sunni Muslims mourned its loss as a spiritual and cultural trauma. Yet ISIS’s projected caliphate has no support among ulema internationally and is derided throughout the Muslim world.

That said, the limitations of the nation state are becoming increasingly apparent in our world; this is especially true in the Middle East, which has no tradition of nationalism, and where the frontiers drawn by invaders were so arbitrary that it was well nigh impossible to create a truly national spirit. Here, too, ISIS is not simply harking back to a bygone age but is, however eccentrically, enunciating a modern concern.

The liberal-democratic nation state developed in Europe in part to serve the Industrial Revolution, which made the ideals of the Enlightenment no longer noble aspirations but practical necessities. It is not ideal: its Achilles heel has always been an inability to tolerate ethnic minorities – a failing responsible for some of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. In other parts of the world where modernisation has developed differently, other polities may be more appropriate. So the liberal state is not an inevitable consequence of modernity; the attempt to produce democracy in Iraq using the colo­nial methods of invasion, subjugation and occupation could only result in an unnatural birth – and so ISIS emerged from the resulting mayhem.

ISIS has declared war against all — Sunnis, Shias, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Yazidis — there is no escaping this reactionary band of Godless criminals and murderers.

Interestingly Saudi Arabia has now become the designated target of ISIS militants. As if playing out a Greek tragedy, ISIS seeks now to strike at its creator, intent on pushing the boundary of the acceptable to reinvent itself not a religion but a radical atheist movement which stands in negation of the Holy, in all its forms and all its manifestations.

If Wahhabism did not scare you, ISIS should.

Maybe just maybe it would be a good idea to choose those allies which intend to defeat and destroy ISIS and deny the one power which started it all – the Kingdom.
Source: NEO

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The Evil That Dare Not Speak Its Name: Israel’s Apartheid

Palestinian workers wait to cross the Israeli checkpoint of Jalameh, south of the West Bank city of Jenin, on their way to work in Israel. (Mohammed Ballas / AP)

By Sandy Tolan | 
For years the “A-word” has been off-limits in polite conversation about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. The A-word, we have been told, unfairly singles out the Jewish state and its use is perhaps even anti-Semitic. Such declarations can have a powerful silencing effect.

However, in 2002 Archbishop Desmond Tutu broke the taboo, writing in the British newspaper The Guardian that “the humiliation of Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks” reminded him “of what happened to us black people in South Africa.”

Four years later Jimmy Carter committed a similar indelicacy with the very title of his bestseller, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” A wave of condemnation of the former president followed. “He appears to be giving aid and comfort to the new anti-Semites,” wrote a reviewer for the Jewish Virtual Library.

For the most part, in the mainstream U.S. press at least, the decorum that forbids use of the A-word remains in place. Yet increasingly, as Israel continues to colonize the West Bank with settlers, and its army ensures their dominion over the lands they occupy, adhering to the A-word ban requires shielding one’s eyes, or, at a minimum, engaging in verbal gymnastics. What, after all, to call a system of legalized discrimination based on ethnicity and religion in which one group has full voting rights and the other does not? What to call a system under which one people can travel freely on roads built specifically for them, whisking through checkpoints because of their religion and the color of their license plates, and under which the other must submit to inspection at military kiosks frequently manned by snipers? A system under which one population in hilltop enclaves is protected by troops and military surveillance towers, while the other is subjected to frequent night raids by those same troops? Under which 40 percent of the adult male population has been forced to spend time in prison? Under which one group’s “civil administration” can designate a town of the other group as a historic archeological site and evict all the residents, who then must move into tents? Under which soldiers ordered Palestinian bathers out of a public swimming pool last spring so Jewish settlers could have a swim, alone and unbothered by the darker-skinned native population?

Here’s what I found on a trip I made to the West Bank recently.

I and my Palestinian host left Jerusalem on a hot, dry morning, our access to the exclusive West Bank roads ensured by the precious yellow license plate of our vehicle. H. was aware that because of his origin he could be banned from the roads at any time.

Our destination was the old city of Hebron, one of the most surreal tableaus of the entire tragedy of Palestine and Israel, where 500 to 600 Jewish settlers, many of them from the United States, are protected by at least 1,500 soldiers in a city of 170,000 Palestinians.

I looked out the open window to the east, feeling immediately the profound changes that had occurred in the landscape in the two years I’d been away. The red-roofed Jewish settlement of Efrat now stretched for nearly two miles. Adjacent were rows of white trailers, part of an “outpost” that Israel deems technically illegal but which, by Israel’s design, will soon be absorbed into the settlement. Israeli leaders call settlement expansion “natural growth”; this is how a Palestinian landscape is transformed into a Jewish one. The population of Efrat is officially about 10,000, though H. claims the real number is more than twice that.

In the distance, the 25-foot-high separation barrier marched south with us, and now, suddenly, at a narrow passage it reached us, transformed into a tastefully etched boundary of beige and tan. Settlers, H. told me, had complained that they found the ugly gray slabs distasteful as they commuted to prayer in Jerusalem or to the beach in Tel Aviv; now, with the wall’s offensive aspects eliminated for the privileged population, the separation of peoples carries the deceiving look of a simple sound barrier.

Presently the road opened up again, and for a lovely, fleeting moment the landscape of Palestine appeared, unimpeded by barriers, settlements or checkpoints. Ancient terraced olive groves dotted the landscape, interspersed by vineyards of Hebron grapes, nearly ready. The cries of “Khalili ya anab,” H. told me, would soon ring out in the markets across Palestine: “The Hebron grapes are here!”

Few vendors were calling out 30 minutes later as we walked through the moribund Old City of Hebron, where urban settlement blocks stand brick to brick with Palestinian homes in a contorted geographical designation known as H-2. This arrangement was sanctioned by the international community in an agreement signed by the Palestinian Authority as part of the Oslo “peace process.” Israel had insisted that a few hundred settlers be allowed to stay in a neighborhood of tens of thousands of Palestinians because of a long Jewish presence there. The current settlers say they live in Hebron to honor the memory of Jews massacred there by Palestinians in 1929, during riots over Jewish immigration to Palestine. Yet the current settlers, among the most extremist of all Israelis, have little or no connection to the descendants of those massacred. Some of the descendants have denounced the Hebron settlements, pointing out that some Palestinian families sheltered Jews in the massacre; they call for removal of the settlers.
Today, the 1,500 Israeli soldiers, more than twice the number of settlers they were sent to protect, spend much of their time escorting their charges from one part of the city to another. When the armed escort squads push through the narrow alleys of Old Hebron, life on the Palestinian street freezes; such is the primacy of Israel’s settlement project. Steel screens above the old Arab casbah protect the Palestinian vendors against a stream of trash, bottles, plastic chairs and bags of feces that the settlers hurl down from above. This is everyday life.

We walked toward Shuhada Street, the once-bustling main street of Palestinian life. H. stopped; as a Palestinian, he is not allowed to walk there. The street was nearly vacant. The doors on some of the shops were welded shut; access to some homes is now possible only by ladder, or, in one case, a rope to a window.

We came upon one of H-2’s 120 military checkpoints and other obstacles ensuring separation between Arab and Jew. As we paused, 50 meters away a soldier’s voice called out from a loudspeaker, imitating the call to prayer. “Allahu akbar,” he sang in accented Arabic. His mocking laughter followed.

Around the bend, away from the checkpoint, stood a Palestinian elementary school, its entire perimeter marked with looping razor wire. Many of the children must cross checkpoints to get to the school, walking past graffiti in English saying “Gas the Arabs!” and sometimes enduring a gantlet of flying stones and rotten vegetables and attacks from settlers’ dogs. Across from the school lies a flat expanse of asphalt. Once this was a play area for the school. The old soccer and volleyball grounds have been replaced by a parking lot for buses from the settlements.
It was from an adjacent settlement, Kiryat Arba, in 1994 that a settler from Brooklyn named Baruch Goldstein emerged, traveling with his Galil automatic rifle to the Ibrahimi Mosque and somehow getting through Israeli security before gunning down 29 Palestinians as they prayed. Survivors beat him to death. Today Goldstein is revered among some settlers. At his gravesite in Kiryat Arba, these words are inscribed: “He gave his soul for the people of Israel, the Torah, and the Land. His hands are clean and his heart good. …”

We headed to the Ibrahimi Mosque, also known as the Cave of the Patriarchs. Near the entrance we passed through a pair of metal floor-to-ceiling turnstiles and submitted ourselves for inspection by Israeli soldiers, as does every Palestinian who wishes to worship there.

The call to prayer from this mosque, H. told me, is often banned by the Israeli authorities, who say it bothers the settlers. In December, for example, the call was banned 52 times; in May, 49 times, or about one-third of calls. “Just a humiliation,” H. said. “Showing their power.” Sixty percent of the mosque has been taken over by Israel and is now a synagogue.

At the entrance we took off our shoes. Just inside lay a mound of plastic throw rugs—seemingly redundant, as plush Turkish carpets cover the interior of the mosque. But they are essential, H. told me. If a member of the Israeli government, or its legislative body, the Knesset, wishes to visit, he or she can enter the Muslim side with only a brief warning. Such visitors refuse to remove their shoes, so the Muslim faithful line their path with the plastic rugs, preserving the sanctity of their religious space.

Here, it is believed, lie the remains of Abraham (Ibrahim) and Sarah, figures central to both Judaism and Islam. The tomb of Abraham/Ibrahim is visible to each segregated side. Peering past the tomb, I could see a woman on the synagogue side peering back at us.

We emerged into the harsh midday light outside the mosque. Inside or out, the overriding feeling was about imbalance of power: that officials would refuse to remove their shoes in someone else’s holy place; that metal screens are needed to protect shopkeepers from debris hurled in hatred; that someone, somewhere, would actually decide to close a playground for Palestinian children in order to put in a parking lot for the buses of Jewish settlers.

Power in Hebron, as it does across the West Bank, lies most clearly in the hands of Israel; Palestinians are no match for Israel’s military might or its political influence with the United States, the world’s sole superpower. Palestinian power lies instead in sumud, or steadfastness: a determination to persevere and to live for a better day, confronting Israel on moral grounds while hoping the world will one day bear greater witness to the facts on the ground.

As if to underscore this point, near the end of our trip to Hebron, H. gestured to a small neighborhood near the mosque, on the other side of yet another entrance controlled by soldiers and armed with metal detectors. Just beyond live six Palestinian families on a tiny island of territory amid the patchwork jurisdictions of H-2. They live essentially surrounded by settlements and the military, and because of that proximity any items that could be construed as weapons—including kitchen knives—have been banished from their homes by Israeli authorities. The Palestinian residents must have their meat cut in the market, to be brought back in pieces. “For how long [is one] able to live under these shitty conditions?” H. asked. Israel, he said, wants to force the families out—“what we call slow transfer.” But for now, the families’ sumud is intact. They remain steadfast. “Existence,” declares a popular Palestinian slogan, “is resistance.”

But the system in which they exist cannot stand in the long run. And although some commentators and others, even after looking at the facts, may continue to decry the use of the A-word—A for Apartheid—to me it matters little what we call it. I am also fine with comparing these conditions, and others like them all over Palestine, to the legislated racism and racial violence that were known in America as Jim Crow.

Whatever we call it, it is separate and unequal. And like apartheid, like Jim Crow, it is destined for the dustbin of history.
Source: Truth dig
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Israel and Saudi Arabia's Secret History of Cooperation

By Asher Orkaby | 
Those following the turmoil in the Middle East might be surprised to hear of increasingly friendly relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, longtime rivals that now face the shared threats posed by Iran’s nuclear program and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.

Last November, Saudi Arabia’s petroleum minister, Ali al-Naimi, expressed a willingness to sell oil to Israel, which it still does not formally recognize. “His Majesty King Abdullah has always been a model for good relations between Saudi Arabia and other states,” Naimi told reporters in Vienna, “and the Jewish state is no exception.” Just months earlier, former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal published an op-ed in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Although al-Faisal did little more than reiterate the Arab League’s traditional position on the peace process—namely that Israel withdraw to its pre-1967 borders—publishing in an Israeli newspaper represented a significant overture. These gestures followed years of speculation that Israel and Saudi Arabia might coordinate an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.

However notable these developments are, unofficial cooperation between the two countries is hardly unprecedented. As early as the 1960s, Israel and Saudi Arabia found common ground when it came to countries or movements that explicitly threatened both of their existences. The two countries didn’t merely align their strategies, however; they collaborated on a tactical level, too.

During the 1960s, that threat emanated from Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, the leader of the Arab Nationalist movement and the most popular figure in the Middle East. His political speeches and radio broadcasts reached millions across the Arab world, and Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom were its frequent targets.

When a cadre of Yemeni officers with Arab-nationalist sympathies toppled Yemen’s theocratic monarchy in 1962, Nasser dispatched some 70,000 Egyptian troops to support the new republic’s war against old-regime loyalists. Nasser also declared his intention to carry the revolution even further, to Saudi Arabia, on Yemen’s northern border, and to the British colony of Aden, to the south.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, offered the royalist tribes money and refuge while a team of British mercenaries attempted to funnel military aid to anti-Egyptian forces on the ground. But northern Yemen’s mountainous terrain proved a major stumbling block, making it extremely difficult to deliver weapons and supplies to beleaguered tribal militias on the ground.

Since neither London nor Riyadh wanted to openly support the royalist forces, they needed a partner that would be willing to organize airlifts clandestinely over hostile territory. They turned to Israel, the only country with more to lose than Saudi Arabia from an Egyptian triumph in Yemen. Israeli leaders, for their part, believed that supporting a proxy conflict with Egypt would forestall an Egyptian-Israeli confrontation in the Sinai, keeping Nasser too preoccupied to attack Israel.

The celebrated Israeli transport pilot Aryeh Oz, then serving as the leader of Israel’s International Squadron 120, led the mission. Using a retrofitted Boeing Stratocruiser, he oversaw 14 flight missions to Yemen’s northern highlands between 1964 and 1966, carrying vital weapons and supplies that, in numerous cases, helped turn the tide of battle in favor of the royalists. Israeli pilots charted a flight path directly over Saudi territory, avoiding Egyptian fighter jets patrolling the Red Sea.

Planning and decision-making were limited to a select number of British mercenaries, Israeli leaders, Saudi royals, and the ousted Yemeni imam and his foreign minister. To ensure the safety and secrecy of the missions, they left the general Saudi and Yemeni populations in the dark about Israel’s involvement. One of the airdrops, for example, took place after the deposed leader had announced to his tribal leaders that supplies would be dropped from the sky. “Look, even God is helping the imam,” a British intelligence agent heard one of the commanders declare in the drop zone.

The civil war ended in 1968; following a series of agreements, the royalist and republican factions united to form the Yemen Arab Republic in the northern half of the country. If the Israelis and Saudis managed to put aside their differences back then, they certainly could do the same today. Both countries consider the prospect of a nuclear Iran just as threatening, if not more so, than they viewed the possibility of an Egyptian foothold in Yemen during the 1960s. And the danger is urgent enough that it could prompt tactical cooperation under certain circumstances, especially if Tehran appeared to be close to completing a bomb.

Moreover, five decades after the Israeli-Saudi airlifts in Yemen, unofficial ties between the two countries remain. For years now, Riyadh has turned a blind eye to imports of Israeli products, while Saudi businessmen have reportedly considered purchasing real estate in Tel Aviv through third parties. Speculation about secret diplomatic and security discussions continues.

Recent indications of a gradual warming of relations—and an uptick in backdoor dealings—are nothing new. Nobody should be surprised if they proceed even further, opening the door to a new era of regional cooperation.
Source: Foreign Affairs


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VIDEO: Israeli Corporal Jailed for Publicly Saying the Occupation of Gaza Corrupts Israel

Israeli Cpl. Shachar Berrin was sentenced to a week in prison on the charge of participating “in a political meeting, while in uniform, in the presence of the media.” The army’s history of punishing soldiers’ public statements suggests that what he said, “not just the public venue, is what upset someone influential.”

Hear Shachar Berrin’s coments at the 42:55 mark in the video above.

Gershom Gorenberg writes at The American Prospect that the charge was inaccurate:
He was in uniform, and TV cameras were recording. But it wasn’t a political meeting. And judging from circumstances, the real reasons for his quick trial and sentence were the presence of right-wing activists and what he said about serving in the West Bank in daily interaction with Palestinians. “When soldiers, when we, are conditioned and persuaded on a daily basis to subjugate and humiliate people… I think that seeps in,” he said, “and I think that when the soldiers go home, when they go inside Israel… they bring that back with them.”
 Berrin made his remarks after one of the debaters present cited a U.N. report, based on polling data, that rates Israel as the 11th-happiest country in the world. When a microphone was passed to the audience, Berrin said: “I propose that what makes a country good isn’t whether a country is happy or not; it’s the ethics and morality of a country.” He then spoke about what occupation duty does to soldiers and gave examples of what he’d seen.

Gorenberg writes that the debater who cited the poll “went into talk-show rage mode”:
“I think the guy is lying,” he said, as he shouted down [the host]. Someone there reported the incident to the army. The fact that Shachar was wearing a skullcap as well as a uniform may have amplified that anonymous person’s anger: The [political] right assumes that Orthodox Jews are all on their side, and the local media, comfortable with cliches, usually protects that assumption. Shachar created cognitive dissonance, which can produce fury.
The Israeli army’s application of the policy that landed Berrin in jail is evidently inconsistent. Last summer his brother informed an army ombudsman that a soldier had posted on Facebook a photo showing a box of bullets labeled, “A gift for Ramadan.” A bullet on top bore the name “Haniyeh,” which refers to Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas regime in Gaza. The ombudsman replied that the proper authorities had been informed, but the picture is still up.

“It would have been reasonable to conclude that the army isn’t quick to restrict public political statements by soldiers,” Gorenberg writes. “It seems that what Shachar said, not just the public venue, is what upset someone influential. It can’t be that Facebook is less public; Facebook is Israeli politicians’ favorite means of broadcasting their words.”

The capacity for many Israelis to forget about the occupation and the Palestinians worsens the country’s troubles. This forgetting has been aided by a revision of military policy that has changed the composition of the armed forces.

“For most of Israel’s history,” Gorenberg writes, reservists told the public about what happened on the battlefield and in the barracks:
The army had a small core of full-time soldiers. But most men in Israel served in the reserves into their 50s, each year spending a month or more in uniform and subject to emergency call-ups. When they saw how the army managed things, they could compare it to how other organizations are managed, and when they saw Arab kids, they sometimes thought of their own children. Then they took off their uniforms and were civilians again.
Reservists set off the political upheaval after the 1973 Yom Kippur War that drove Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan from power. They knew the full cost of Meir and Dayan’s complacency and hubris before the war. In 1978, 300 reserve officers and soldiers signed a letter to Prime Minister Menachem Begin demanding that he agree to give up land to reach peace with Egypt. That letter gave birth to the Peace Now movement. Political scientist Yagil Levy argues that when the first Palestinian uprising erupted in 1987, Chief of Staff Gen. Dan Shomron insisted that the solution was political, not military, in part to reduce dissatisfaction among reservists. That stance paved the way, Levy writes, to the Oslo Accords.
But since the 1990s, the role of the reserves has shrunk. Fewer Israelis do reserve duty; they serve fewer days and are discharged at an earlier age. They’re less needed: A growing population provides more draftees for full-time service, while a more technological army depends less on brute numbers.
The existence of fewer citizen-soldiers means that fewer Israelis know first- or secondhand what the army is doing. The change “has made it possible for more Israelis to treat the occupation as if it were in another universe.”

Ironically, Gorenberg writes, the army’s “hasty” response gave Berrin and his message the media attention his detractors would rather he not get.
Source: Truth dig

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