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  • 3 Problems Pakistani Politics has to Resolve after Grisly School Attack
    • The following is from "Magnificent Delusions" by Husain Haqqani: United States “aid for military regimes in Pakistan had not only undermined Pakistani democracy; it had also inadvertently helped foster religious extremism….Pakistan had become a rentier state: it lived off payments from a superpower for its strategic location and intelligence cooperation rather than on the strength of the productivity of its economy.” A preferred “option for Pakistan would be to normalize relations with India and Afghanistan” and pursue normal economic development. Just “as China did not give up its rights over Taiwan” as it engaged in commerce with Taiwan, “Pakistan need not give up its claim on Kashmir” as it engages politically and economically with India. “In the case of Afghanistan, Pakistan should befriend the government in Kabul instead of trying to impose one of its choosing.” link to

  • Enter the Dragon: China offers Iraq Aerial Strikes on ISIL/ Daesh
    • China has a long way to go before its ability to project power matches the US's. Consider: “Despite the impressive progress in its military modernization in recent years, it should be remembered that China’s global military footprint actually remains very limited. It has no foreign bases or troops stationed abroad (except under UN auspices)…Other than cyber warfare, its space program, and intercontinental ballistic missiles, it has no global power-projection capabilities. To be certain, these are not insignificant capabilities, but China’s air and ground forces cannot operate away from China’s immediate periphery, and the naval forces have very limited deployment capacity beyond China’s ‘near seas’.” link to

  • Two Different American Futures: With an Iran Deal & Without
    • Let's remember that Iran's nuclear program is not the source of its tension with the US and Israel. Rather, the critical issue is Middle East influence. Consider:
      -According to David Crist a historian for the U.S. federal government and an advisor on Middle East issues, “Iran’s quest for nuclear technology has heightened the stakes and the tension [with the US] but it has not been a catalyst for the conflict.”
      -Even if Iran had nuclear weapons, it would never consider a first-strike on Israel since Israel would always be able to retaliate with its submarine-based “nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.”
      -It’s plainly rational for Israel to try and maintain its monopoly of nuclear weapons in the Middle East as such allows it to act practically without any restraint against its neighbors.
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  • Israel Squatters Chop Down Dozens of Palestinian Olive Trees Near Nablus (800,000 since 1967)
    • In recent years Israeli leaders have begun to recognize the problem of terrorism by radical Jewish settlers against Palestinians, the IDF, and mainstream settler leaders. In 2011, “the Israeli general in charge of the West Bank, Nitsan Alon, described the violence by radical settlers as ‘terrorism’ and urged the IDF to ‘do much more to stop it.’…And following settler vandalism of an IDF base in the West Bank, the Israeli ministers of defense, legal affairs, and internal security discussed officially designating [such radical settlers] as a terrorist organization.” likewise, in 2014, Israeli Defence Minister, Moshe Yaalon, branded settler attacks as “outright terrorism.” What does Obama have to say?
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  • Ben Affleck on Bill Maher's Muslim Problem
    • Juan, I'll start watching TV for news when you get a weekly show. As you have cogently pointed out in the past, some “groups deploy terrorism as a tactic more at some times than others. Zionists in British Mandate Palestine were active terrorists in the 1940s,…and in the period 1965-1980, the FBI considered the Jewish Defense League among the most active US terrorist groups. (Members at one point plotted to assassinate Rep. Dareell Issa (R-CA) because of his Lebanese heritage.) Now that Jewish nationalists are largely getting their way, terrorism has declined among them.” link to

  • In 1948, Jewish Forces in Palestine outnumbered Palestinian and Arab Fighters
    • During the 1948-49 war “Zionist forces committed abuses so terrible that David Ben-Gurion…declared himself ‘shocked by the deeds that have reached my ears.’ In the town of Jish, in the Galilee, Israeli soldiers pillaged Arab houses, and when the residents protested, took them to a remote location and shot them dead.” According to the Israeli historian Benny Morris, “the Jews committed far more atrocities than the Arabs and killed far more civilians and PoWs in deliberate acts of brutality in the course of 1948.″ link to

  • The PLO-Hamas Unity Agreement: an Opportunity for the United States and Israel
    • Even senior IDF officers recognize that Hamas is reasonable. Consider:
      In March 2014, Hamas militiamen continue to “find and stop renegade militants inside Gaza from firing rockets into southern Israel in violation of the ceasefire declared after the end in November 2012 of Operation Pillar of Defence, in which about 150 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed….Israeli officials share the assessment that Hamas is working actively to contain militants from firing into their country. ‘Today we can describe Hamas as a much more…responsible organisation than it used to be a decade or two decades ago — this all in light of their statehood experience,’ says a senior Israel Defence Forces officer…”
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  • Massive increase in Israeli Squatter settlements in West Bank blamed for Collapsing Peace Talks
    • It's important to appreciate what it means when settlements such as Ariel are further consolidated.

      Ehud Barak’s “final offer at Camp David [in 2000]…proposed that Israel annex the 9 percent of the West Bank that included the largest settlement ‘blocs’ while offering in return an area one-ninth as large inside the green line. Nine percent may not seem like much, but as some Israel officials have since conceded, annexing settlements like Ariel, which stretches thirteen miles beyond the green line, would have severely hindered Palestinian travel between the northern and southern halves of the West Bank. It also would have left Israel in control of much of the West Bank’s water supply." In the words of former Barak aide Tal Zilberstein, “[T]here are still people who say, ‘We gave them everything at Camp David and got nothing.’ This is a flagrant lie.”
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  • Cole @ C-Span: Egypt and the Birth of al-Qaeda (video lecture)
    • Juan, Can non-students gain access to all the lectures from the course? Your courses would be very popular MOOCs.

  • The War on Terror Jumps the Shark as Everyone in the Mideast accuses everyone else of Terrorism
    • In 1982, Saddam Hussein was taken off the terrorism list “so the United States could provide him with agricultural and other support that he needed.” The US supported Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War so, by definition, Saddam could not be a terrorist — even when, for example, Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran.
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  • Could Ulra-Orthodox Conscription issue bring down the Israeli Government?
    • ◾Young ultra-Orthodox couples, with little wealth and plans for large families, “are desperate for inexpensive apartments….At the end of the 1980s, the government began using that [desperation to draw them] into the settlement enterprise.” In 1990, 350 ultra-Orthodox settlers moved into Beitar Illit and for apartments paid “$60,000, with the government providing a $50,000 interest-free mortgage. Four years later, the first residents arrived in what would become the town of Modi’in Illit, east of Tel Aviv. The two communities grew faster than any other settlements in the West Bank. By the end of 2009, they were also the two largest settlements, with a total of 81,000 residents…[Unsurprisingly,] the internal growth of the communities was stunning….The government designated additional developments for [ultra-Orthodox] within settlements elsewhere in the West Bank. Virtually every extended [ultra-Orthodox] family in Israel now has members living” in occupied Palestinian territory. Therefore, they have “a vested interest in the territories” and have been converted to the extreme right by government action. (Yet, it must be added that the ultra-Orthodox party Shas has indicated a willingness to trade land for peace.) link to

    • ◾It is important to note that in 1948 the great bulk of Jewish Israelis were confident that religious Jews, already marginal to the state, would only continue to diminish in significance. (In fact, after World War II the European center of ultra-Orthodox “culture was gone. In Palestine, their schools were few and starved for funds…”) This is one reason Ben-Gurion accepted several compromises with the religious parties. “No one imagined, for instance, that by financing [ultra-Orthodox] schools, the state would transform ultra-Orthodox society” and so augment its power.
      ◾In 2000, the newspaper Ha’aretz published pictures showing ultra-Orthodox men at work in New York. “For the Israeli audience, photos of gainfully employed [ultra-Orthodox] men — a private detective, a truck driver,…a welder — were news on the level of man bites elephant.”
      ◾Considering the effects of National-Religious Orthodox young men in the IDF, progressives may want to ponder the implications of bringing in the ultra-Orthodox.
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  • New Light on the CIA Coup in Iran on its 60th Anniversary: Why "Argo" Needs a Prequel (Sternfeld)
    • US policy makers and political elites are familiar with the outlines of the 1953 Coup. The goal of progressives should be to inform the US public of the following:
      1. The US and UK organized the overthrow of an elected Iranian prime minister because he nationalized Iran's oil industry (i.e. he acted independently).
      2. The result of the coup was autocratic rule by the Shah and close US-Iran ties (because the Shah served US interests).
      3. The Shah's brutal rule led to the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
      4. The US is not even against Islamic dictatorships (Saudi Arabia); it is against independent rule in general (post-1979 Iran, Venezuela, Bolivia, etc.).

      Thomas Carothers, who was “director of the Democracy and Rule of Law Project at the Carnegie Endowment” published a book “reviewing the record of democracy promotion by the United States since the end of the Cold War. He finds ‘a strong line of continuity’ running through all administrations, including Bush II: democracy is promoted by the U.S. government if and only if it conforms to strategic and economic interests.” link to

  • Netanyahu Emerges Weakened, But Most under Israeli Apartheid were Disenfranchised
    • I'm sure you wouldn't denounce Mandela because he used terror as a tool of liberation.
      The past informs the present but it is also true that the present informs the past. We now view Mandela as the great man he truly is because of how he acted once liberation was achieved. We rightly denounce the heirs of Revisionism because they continue doing criminal acts after they have achieved Zionism's goal.
      Even Ehud Barak said the following in 1998: “If I were a young Palestinian, it is possible I would join a terrorist organization.” link to

  • Michigan Workers now have Right to "Work for Less" (Granholm Video)
    • The key difference between Sweden and the US, which accounts for the former's much greater equality of opportunity and outcomes, is Sweden's generous welfare state. In fact, "before taxes and transfers, income distribution" in the US and Sweden is "more or less the same". It's also worth noting that a generous welfare state can be consistent with impressive economic growth. link to

  • In Rebuke to Obama, Netanyahu-- Much of Western Europe to Support Palestine as UN Observer State
    • While Abrams is a neocon he is basically rational and realizes that the sooner Israel enters into good faith negotiations with the Palestinians:
      (1) the less disruption there will be to US interests in the region;
      (2) the less disruption there will be to Israeli society; and,
      (3) the more control the US will have over the process.

      The main obstacle to a reasonable settlement is the right-wing (~fascist) bloc in Israel's Knesset. This bloc is growing and, like some elements in the US Republican Party, is impervious to rational arguments. Abrams and many other right-wing Americans are concerned by this trend.

      When a formerly right-leaning commentator on Israel (Beinart) can write the following in his recent book, we know matters have reached a new stage: As painful as it is for "Jews to admit that race hatred can take root among a people that has suffered so profoundly from it, the ground truth is this: occupying another people requires racism, and breeds it. It is very difficult to work day after day at a checkpoint, making miserable people bake in the sun, or to blow up a family's house as they watch, or to cut off water to a village in the Jordan Valley because Palestinians are barred from living in most of that section of the West Bank, and still see the people you are dominating as fully human." American Jews should "distinguish between supporting the State of Israel and supporting whoever happens to be in the current, transitory government of Israel." link to

  • Let the Palestinians have their “Kaf-Tet Be’November” (Sternfeld)
    • Israel works to deny more international status for Palestinians as such can increase the range of international bodies they can exploit (for example international juridical bodies). Until the US decides that its interests rest with a fair settlement, the Israel-Palestine conflict will drag on for a long time.

      On the issue of the 1947 Partition Resolution, "The Zionist leadership did formally accept the partition plan. Many Zionist leaders objected, but were persuaded by Ben-Gurion to agree to the official acceptance. However, in several secret meetings Ben-Gurion made it clear that the partition borders were unacceptable and must be rectified at the first opportunity. The minutes of these meetings are there for all to read.”

      Also, while it is argued that “the Palestinians are to be blamed for what occurred to them since they rejected the UN partition plan, this allegation ignores the colonialist nature of the Zionist movement. It would have been unlikely that the Algerians, for instance, would have accepted the partition of Algeria with the French settlers – and such a refusal would not be deemed unreasonable or irrational. [Accordingly, Palestinian rejection] should not have justified the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians as a ‘punishment’ for rejecting a UN peace plan that was devised without any consultation with them.” link to

  • Gaza's Health Crisis and Israel's Crimes Against Humanity
    • It's worth remembering that one of “Israel’s early acts of retaliation [during the first intifada] was to deport the Palestinian-American pacifist Mubarak Awad of the Center for the Study of Nonviolence.”

      When the arena is one of violence, Israel wins. When good faith negotiations occur, Israel can only lose since it is the occupier. link to

  • Palestinian Civilians imperiled as 500 Israeli Strikes hit Gaza (Democracy Now!)
    • Let's always bear in mind three categorical truths to ensure that there is no confusion between victim and victimizer:
      1. Israel is illegally occupying Palestinian land;
      2. Occupied people have the legal right to resist occupation; and,
      3. Palestinians are the only occupied people to suffer international sanctions (while Israel enjoys significant economic, military and diplomatic support from powerful states.

      Remember that Israel has a long history of using violence to avoid negotiations to end the Occupation. For example,
      Ariel “Sharon and his top advisors said…that the [2005] Gaza evacuation was meant not to create a Palestinian state, but to forestall one. By 2004, the second intifada had fizzled, Arafat was dead, and America’s sequel to Oslo, the Road Map, was going nowhere. Into the breach came two initiatives. The first was the offer, drafted by Saudi Arabia and endorsed by the entire Arab League, to recognize Israel if it returned to the 1967 lines and negotiated a ‘just’ and ‘agreed upon’ solution for the Palestinian refugees. The second was the Geneva Accord, a model peace agreement signed by former Israeli and Palestinian negotiators that would have required Israel to dismantle major settlements like Ariel. These moves terrified Sharon, a lifelong opponent of a Palestinian state who feared international pressure to agree to the kind of deal that Clinton has proposed in December 2000.”

      It is clear that Hamas (not Salafi extremists) are ready to deal. This "terrifies" supporters of Greater Israel.
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  • NYC Hospitals Lose Power Once; in Gaza, it is a Constant Crisis
    • I agree with Pabelmont. Juan, you have been a consistent voice for bringing attention to the plight of Gazans. Consider that Peter Beinart (a once-neocon) has finally come around to seeing reality. The following is from his recent book: "As painful as it is for Jews to admit that race hatred can take root among a people that has suffered so profoundly from it, the ground truth is this: occupying another people requires racism, and breeds it. It is very difficult to work day after day at a checkpoint, making miserable people bake in the sun, or to blow up a family’s house as they watch, or to cut off water to a village in the Jordan Valley because Palestinians are barred from living in most of that section of the West Bank, and still see the people you are dominating as fully human.” link to

  • Egypt President condemns Israeli Air Raids on Gaza
    • It is banal to state, but as more of the countries in the Middle East become more democratic this will lead to governments that primarily answer to their domestic populations, not foreign patrons.

      Needless to say, the Egyptian population has been overwhelmingly disgusted by Israel's brutal treatment of Gazans. Thus it can only be expected that Morsi will reflect such disgust.

      Turkey likewise demonstrates that when a Middle East country becomes more democratic, it finds it more difficult to cooperate with Israel and the US on policies that dispossess Palestinians or harm Muslims. In fact, “Turkey only began shunning the Jewish state after Israel’s 2009 war in Gaza, and after Israeli troops killed eight Turkish militants who tried to break Israel’s blockage of the strip in 2010.” link to

  • Mourdock, Rape as a Gift of God, and Islamic Sharia
    • Why the bulk of the Christian Right has strongly adopted conservative economic policies is also perplexing to many (especially as Jesus strongly identified with the poor and as the great majority of evangelicals are not rich).
      One important reason is as evangelicals have experienced political success, they have had to make important compromises. Thus it has been commonplace to hear evangelical preachers peddle Republican myths of trickle-down prosperity. While evangelicals over 50 years of age grew up hearing a lot of sermons about the perils of wealth such is rare today. It is much more common to hear leaders of the Religious Right speak on the miracle of supply side economics. Is it mere coincidence “that the so-called ‘prosperity theology,’ a kind of spiritualized Reaganism, flourished among evangelicals during the 1980s?” According to the prosperity gospel, wealth, fame and power are manifestations of God’s work, proof that God has a plan and design for believers.

      Also, it's important to remember that Christian Fundamentalists "are not biblical literalists, as they claim, but ‘selective literalists,’ choosing the bits and pieces of the Bible that conform to their ideology and ignoring, distorting or inventing the rest. And the selective literalists cannot have it both ways. Either the Bible is literally true and all of its edicts must be obeyed, or it must be read in another way.” While the Bible (Leviticus 18:22) says that a man who has sex with another man is an abomination and should be killed, a “literal reading of the Bible [also] means reinstitution of slavery…Children who strike or curse a parent are to be executed…[M]en are free to sell their daughters into sexual bondage…” link to

  • Muslims are no Different, or why Bill Maher's blood libel is Bigotry
  • Why they Hate us: Romney Secretly Plots to Screw Palestinians over Again
  • Top Myths about Iran's Nuclear Enrichment Program

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