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Total number of comments: 1001 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:38)

Mark Koroi

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  • The World Asks: Is Israel Targeting Civilians in Gaza?
    • "The Likudniks know they will never face any personal retribution for all this...."

      Polls taken by a conservative group in Israel show an 80% approval rate of Operation Defensive Edge by the general Israeli public and 71% want to see it expanded.

      The Likud Party looks very good right now within Israel.

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  • Gaza War Devastates Israeli Tourism Revenue, Points to Fragile Apartheid Future
    • Operation Cast Lead was the practical upper limit as to what Israel could do without sustaining truly significant outrage in the international community that would result in painful economic sanctions.

      1,400 Gazans killed and only 13 Israelis. 94% approval rating by Israeli public.

      Right now Israeli polls show 80% public support for Operation Defensive Edge - and 71% want to see it expanded.

  • Mohammed Suliman's Twitter-Journal on Surviving Israel's War on Gaza
    • Arutz Sheva 7 , the Israeli national news service reported that Lieutenant General Dolev Keidar of the Israel Defense Forces was killed by Gazan militants during an infiltration attempt. His funeral will be tomorrow:

      link to israelnationalnews.com

      Also, despite Israel's UN ambassador's statement on Sunday denying the capture of an Israel soldier by Hamas, an Israeli government spokesperson today stated that it is still "investigating" whether the Hamas claim is accurate.

      One article has called the mood in Israel "somber" despite the initial high confidence in the Iron Dome performance previously and anti-war demonstrations are growing within Israel. 25 IDF personnel have been killed in action.

  • Mosul w/out Christians for First time in 1,900 Years as Radical Fundamentalists Threaten Minorities
    • I was familiar with a number of Chaldean-rite Christians from Mosul, which is a city near the ancient ruins of Nineveh.

      They had sustained persecution since the fall of the Baathists in 2003 and many had feared to leave their homes since that time. Many emigrated to Germany or the U.S. following the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

      The Chaldean-rite Christians of Mosul - due to their link to Nineveh - had established an annual holiday three-day fast to honor the biblical visit of the Old Testament prophet Jonah to to Nineveh.

  • Gaza: The Israeli Army's Unlawful Targeting Practices are bad for Children
    • "Let's be clear: the Israeli military does not target civilians."

      One of the most blatant examples during Operation Cast Lead of children being targeted by the IDF was the incident of Dr. Abulaiesh, a Gazan physician practicing in Israel and a peace activist, who had his home fired upon by the IDF and had three daughters killed. He would later be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

      The initially reported reason for the deadly attack was Hamas rocket fire in the area; this was rejected and the second reason, which the IDF said was reasonable response, was one of the doctor's teenage daughter's was in the window of the home talking on a cell phone and was fired upon since it was possible she was giving location reports of the IDF to Hamas over the phone.

      The incident received international attention and Operation Cast Lead ended two days later by PM Ehud Olmert, who described his regret over the incident. That incident was eventually made into a play in Israel by a soldier who was near the incident:

      link to timesofisrael.com

  • Gaza: Netanyahu, Goaded by Israeli Far Right, Risks Breaking Int'l Law
  • The Court Trial of Bibi Netanyahu
    • Tzipi Livni had an arrest warrant out for her in the UK - as did Menachem Begin at one point.

      The Israeli government has advised cabinet ministers with security backgrounds or senior IDF generals to exercise caution when traveling to certain European countries due to the possibility of exercising universal jurisdiction over "war crimes" allegedly committed in Israel.

  • The Map: A Palestinian Nation Thwarted & Speaking Truth to Power
    • Little known is that following the Ottomans being relieved of power, the Palestinians had a leader from Ramallah, a Christian Arab named Fouad Shatara who led a convention of local regional political leaders who attempted to establish a Palestinian state to be created once the British Mandate was eventually dissolved.

      David Ben-Gurion however enlisted the support of the U.S., with certain Jewish allies in U.S. Congress, who used American foreign aid leverage among U.N. member states to get the U.N. General Assembly to pass its non-binding November 29th, 1947 Partition Plan resolution. Today every schoolchild in Israel is taught the roll-call vote that occurred as well as which nations voted for and against the resolution and has listened to the audio tape of that U.N. vote. November 29th is an Israeli holiday - Kaf'tet b' November.

    • The IDF has "ordered" these residents to vacate due to impending military action.

      Back in 2006, a residents of a Shi'ite neighborhood in Beirut during the Second Lebanon War were directed to leave their homes as they would be bombed the next day. The next day the neighborhood was leveled by the Israel Air Force.

      This event was related to me by a Shi'ite who had his home demolished in that bombing.

      There was no military purpose for this bombing, only to inflict mass punishment on Shia Muslims since the Shi'ite Hezbollah militia was fighting the IDF in south Lebanon during that conflict. This conduct of Israel clearly violated Geneva Convention prohibitions.

      This current operation by the IDF in Gaza will do little to make any dent in the paramilitary capabilities of Hamas, but is primarily intended to hit "soft targets" such as civilians and civilian infrastructure so that Gaza civilians will dissociate themselves from Hamas and encourage Gazans to support political parties whose agenda is more Israel-friendly - such as Fatah.

  • Israel's Groundhog Day: Reverse Snowballs and the Horror of Lawn-Mowing
    • When Sheikh Yassin was killed as Hamas leader in Gaza and his successor, Dr. Rantissi, a few weeks later, Israel's own anti-terrorism experts predicted two negative consequences for Israel:

      (1)greater cohesion between Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups;

      (2)greater influence for Hamas' military wing in its overall affairs.

      There is no doubt these predictions occurred.

      President Shimon Peres has stated that if Hamas could be defeated it would have been done long ago.

      I heard a young Israel Defense Forces veteran of the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead operation interviewed by the Israeli media on a talk show say that Hamas' military leadership is headquartered in tens, if not hundreds of miles, of tunnels burrowed beneath Gaza and it would be impossible to root them out. He described many attempts of Gazans to abduct Israeli soldiers during that invasion which were fought off. The IDF soldiers wanted one final operation in Gaza at that time and did not want to go back. He indicated that Operation Cast Lead would likely result in Gazans receiving huge amounts of international donations as a result of that invasion.

      Once a cease-fire is brokered - likely in a week or two - PM Netanyahu will likely claim victory and use the conflict as an example of his hard line on terror activities. Right now Israeli casualties have been minimal and that will likely change if a future ground invasion by the IDF of Gaza is initiated.

  • Stop Saying 'If X fired Rockets at U.S.': It's Racist, & assumes we're Colonial
    • The Raptor interceptor missiles used in Iron Dome cost at least $62,000.00 each - but one estimate I have seen is $100,000.00 to fire each Raptor. This does not include the expense of the Iron Dome system itself - which the U.S. government has paid $206,000,000 of its cost.

      The "home-made" Qassam rockets fired by Hamas cost less than $1,000.00 to manufacture in Gaza underground factories. I have seen one estimate as low as $100.00 per rocket.

      The Syrian-manufactured missiles produced under license of the Chinese government are likely several thousand dollars in value. These are the ones that have reached Hadera and Tel Aviv and caused the Knesset to shut down.

  • ABC News' Diane Sawyer Mistakes Stricken Palestinians for Israelis
    • Here is a Haaretz article critical of Iron Dome and its costs:

      link to haaretz.com

      Haaretz is also just breaking a story about an Israeli civilian critically injured in Ashdod after a missile struck his car.

    • Every intercepting rocket fired by Iron Dome costs Israel $100,000.00, not including the cost of the system itself.

      The Israeli economy is in a virtual standstill while Hamas rockets are being fired into those affected areas. IDF reserve call-ups are expensive.

      Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009 cost the Israeli government $1 billion for the military invasion itself not including lost economic productivity and property damage from Gazan missiles. Gazan damages were pegged at $2.8 billion. Ehud Olmert's Kadima Party was voted out of power a few months after Operation Cast Lead and international opinion was decidedly against Israel after that IDF operation.

      While Gazans will undoubtedly suffer, Israel will pay its own price if the conflict continues to escalate. Social programs will be scavenged from the Israeli budget to pay for this operation.

    • Sawyer already has apologized.

  • Mother Of Murdered Israeli Teen Condemns anti-Palestinian Violence
    • There are a number of Jewish settlers who have "seen the light" after having lost a child due to West Bank violence and joined a peace movement alongside Palestinians.

      Both Netanyahu and Hamas have tried to politicize these murders for political gain when the appropriate response would be to investigate and confirm facts first. It is probable that neither the Israeli government nor Hamas authorized these gruesome killings and they are most likely the product of a few independent political extremists working together on each side. This killings should have been treated as a criminal matter rather than exploited to generate further unnecessary oppression and violence.

  • Gaza by the Numbers: Who the People are, how They got There
    • Back in 2007 I heard a statistic that Gaza was the second poorest state in the world next to Zambia.

      They have no representation in the United Nations and the U.N. has done little to enforce against Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the IDF as found in the Goldstone Commission report.

  • Bring Back our Children: Palestine-Israel Children's Crusade by the Numbers
    • That was the Israeli government's attitude when they declared the occupation of south Lebanon a military necessity.

      World history has shown occupying imperial powers are doomed to failure.

      Likud Party theorists have stated that the 1999 decision of PM Ehud Barak to withdraw from Lebanon was the first step in a slippery slope that would lead to Israel's eventual dissolution. The Gaza disengagement of 2005 is considered the second "domino" and a West Bank withdrawal would be the third.

      The West Bank occupation by the IDF is draining huge financial resources from the Israeli treasury to sustain it and Israel is now being targeted for increased international boycott activity.

      Israel's future as an accepted member of the world community depends on it entering into an equitable and timely implemented final status agreement with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. This would be a tremendous boon to both parties.

  • Inside the Mosul of the 'Islamic State': Manhunts, Salafi Coercion and Fired Christians
    • This is insightful as to what is occurring in ISIS-occupied areas.

      Mosul is located near the ruins of ancient Nineveh and has a significant percentage of Christian inhabitants who have suffered persecution in Iraq following the collapse of the Baathist regime in 2003.

  • Americans need to Answer: When Will Palestinians get their Fourth of July?
    • @HMReader:

      The suggestion that Israel should remove all Arabs from the West Bank and annex it was first forcefully espoused by Rabbi Meir Kahane when he was elected to the Knesset in the 1980s.

      His slogan directed to Israelis was " I say what you think".

      Kahane believed that these Arabs should be compensated by Israel for being uprooted from their land.

      He was viewed as an unacceptable extremist by Israelis and American Jews alike and the Kach Party he founded was eventually banned as a racist organization - one of its card-carrying members was Avigdor Lieberman.

    • There will be no binational state because Israel does not want to grant citizenship to West Bank Palestinians.

    • The West Bank is under martial law and has been so since 1967. The Gaza disengagement of 2005 ended IDF martial law there.

      As a result of the Camp David Accords - which many saw Palestinians saw as a sellout by Anwar Sadat since it postponed final status negotiations on the Palestine question - the Israelis created in 1981 the "Civil Administration" which is a branch of the Israel Defense Forces led by a brigadier general that is the supreme ruling power over the West Bank. Currently that person is Brigadier General David Menachem, whose identity is not very well known outside Israel even though he is the de facto ruler of West Bank Palestinians. Go on YouTube and you can see him and his entourage meeting for tea at the office of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem recently.

      The West Bank is divided into military districts under the Civil Administration each of which is headed by an IDF colonel who acts as a military governor in the region.

      "The Palestinians have no courts which to adjudicate their claims.................."

      I would disagree with this. Even though Israeli military tribunals hear criminal prosecutions of West Bank Palestinians, there is a limited court system that exists. For example, an appeals panel exists of Palestinian jurists to hear reviews of election results.

      Following the Six-Day War, legal formalities such as deed recordation and marriage license registration, were performed by churches in the West Bank. West Bank Palestinians affairs were also administered by Jordan, who issued passports to Palestinians and, up until the late1980s, made welfare payments to families in the West Bank.

      The Palestinian Authority has been compared by some to the Judenrat organization that constituted Jewish self-rule of the Warsaw Ghetto - it is ultimately designed to advance the interests of the occupying power.

  • In the Deaths of 3 Israeli Teens, Likud Policies are also Implicated
    • "........(e)ventually the IDF will be defeated."

      Israel has sustained defeat previously.

      Anyone who believes that the Israeli Defense Forces is invulnerable should read the Winograd Commission report which concluded that Israel did not win the Second Lebanon War in 2006 - and Hassan Nasrallah congratulated Israel on having the openness to issue such a self-critical document.

      An estimated 50-100 Hezbollah militiamen repulsed 5,000 IDF elite Golani and Givati Brigade infantrymen at Bint Jubayl with Israel enduring 30 dead and wounded in the first hour of the invasion. In the Litani Offensive, the IDF outnumbered Hezbollah by at least 3-1 but still failed in their objectives.

      The publication of the excoriating Winograd Commission report resulted in the resignations of the Israeli defense minister, the IDF chief of staff and several other top generals.

      There have been eight years of relative peace on the Israel-Lebanon border since the end of that conflict in which 165 Israelis perished and two million of its citizens in northern Israel hid in bomb shelters for a month due to deficiencies in Israeli air defenses against military-grade Katyushas. Previously, the IDF leadership had declared the occupation of south Lebanon a military necessity.

      When the Palestinians - particularly those in Gaza - achieve a paramilitary capability against Israel that would deter an invasion - as Hezbollah has in Lebanon - then Israeli aggression will cease. A good example of a deterrent to Israel in Gaza is the reported acquisition of surface-to-air missiles by Hamas that recently almost shot down an Israeli helicopter; these missiles were likely acquired by Gazan elements of Hamas as a result of the civil unrest in Libya. Previous objections of violations of Gazan airspace were ignored by the IDF but now the Israeli Air Force restricts certain of its flights over Gazan airspace.

  • The Debacle of the Caliphates: Why al-Baghdadi's Grandiosity doesn't Matter
    • The same can be said for Israel and the rise of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.

      Look at the backgrounds of many of the leaders of those organizations and you will see a pattern of radicalization and militancy that was a reaction from a perception of human rights abuses.

    • One other aspect of ancestry from Mohammed is that the "Hashemite status" confers a certain degree respect and legitimacy in the Arab world.

      The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is an example of a monarchy who claims an ancestral relationship from Mohammed.

      The Atassi clan of Homs in Syria claim an ancestry from Mohammed as well and have held religious offices in Homs since 1530 based upon that link and one of the Atassis became prime minister of Syria and was in office until being overthrown by Baathists under Hafez Assad in the early 1970s. Suheir Atassi, a feminist attorney, currently plays a leading role in the Syrian National Coalition.

  • Top 5 Reasons US Aid to "Moderate" Syrian Fighters is Quixotic
    • Dearborn has had a large percentage of Shia Lebanese since the mid-1970s that continued to swell due to both the civil war of that time and the Israeli occupation of south Lebanon.

      Following the Persian Gulf War, many Iraqi Shia came to Dearborn as refugees and of these some went on to be affiliated with the CIA-backed Iraqi National Congress and eventually returned following the deposing of the Baathists in 2003 - attempting to create a new Iraqi government.

    • Regarding the unintentional eventual transfer of American weapons to jihadist elements, I have already stated numerous times that arms are a valuable commodity on the black market and their transfer impossible to be traced once they leave U.S. hands and enter the supply network in question. The fact that ISIS has Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and other sophisticated U.S. military technology should be a source of concern to U.S. officials.

      The U.S. has attempted to deliver materials to the free Syrian Army via the Syrian Support Group (SSG), based in Washington D.C., an NGO which has close ties to the State Department and other federal agencies and which is staffed by Syrian exiles and those with national security backgrounds. The SSG has maintained a videotape record of deliveries to satisfy the U.S. government that the materials are being received by the proper parties - but after then, its anybody's guess where the deliveries will eventually find themselves.

    • Metro Detroit has a large Arab-American population that has a relatively small percentage of those of Syrian extraction. They have raised over 17 million dollars to support the Free Syrian Army. Many expatriates simply cleaned out their bank accounts to assist the opposition against Assad. Many also have spoken out and risked retribution against their relatives remaining in Syria.

      These expatriates have emphasized that civil war is a struggle against human rights violations that is rooted in the 30,000 massacred at Hama in 1982 by Baathist forces while quelling a revolt by the Muslim Brotherhood in that city.

      They de-emphasize the purported sectarian nature of the fighting. Sunni Muslims in Metro Detroit tend to be the most fervent supporters of the Free Syrian Army and its allies and Christians generally support the ouster of Assad, but there are some Christians that feel that Assad has protected their interests and the eventual alternative to the Baathist regime could be far worse.

  • Is Russia Replacing US in Iraq?
    • During the Iran-Iraq War - one of the deadliest conflicts of the 20th Century - the Central Intelligence Agency helped Iraq obtain a four-billion dollar FDIC-insured loan through the Atlanta, GA-based branch of an Italian bank with the intent that the proceeds be used by Iraq to fund arms purchases. The matter later became a scandal investigated by the FBI without prosecution.

      U.S. intelligence also helped the Iraqi army by transmitting to them satellite imagery of Iranian troop concentrations acquired via the Defense Intelligence Agency.

  • In American Turning Point re: Settler Zionism, Presbyterians Divest
    • This could be a watershed development in a groundswell of BDS movement against Israel given a mainstream church organization has adopted this resolution.

      The fear of many pro-Israeli lobby and public relations organizations in the U.S. is that a BDS movement will take root at the mainstream level and public opinion will shift toward sympathy for Palestinians; they note a current 3-1 support in favor of the Israelis among the general public in the U.S.

  • Neo-Zangid State erases Syria-Iraq Border, cuts Hizbullah off from Iran
    • There has been a Palestinian Diaspora that has taken them around the world for resettlement.

      There are significant Syrian and Palestinian refugee camps currently within Lebanon.

    • It has zero diplomatic recognition in the world community.

      Contrast it with the Taliban - who did receive very limited diplomatic recognition from certain corners of the world - including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

      However it does have a limited governmental structure including a cabinet of ministers.

    • There are some reports that ISIS has Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, T-55 tanks and M-60 machine guns, as well as other weapons of U.S. manufacture.

      ISIS has published corporate-style annual reports to lure investors as well as 2 billion in assets. It derives a large share of its funding from the extortion of businesses.

      On of the more amazing aspects of ISIS is such sophisticated weaponry and financial structure.

  • Israeli Occupation Army harasses Palestinians on Pretext of Missing Settler Youth
    • The Operation Cast Lead episode in Gaza in 2008-2009 was perfectly timed - commencing on December 27th, 2008 to avoid the Christmas tourist season in Israel and when most Western governments were closed - and terminating on January 18th, 2009 when lame-duck President Bush was leaving office - but well before Barack Obama took his oath on January 20th.

  • Mass Sunni Uprising in Iraq: Sectarian Blowback of 2003 U.S. Invasion (Cole on Democracy Now!)
    • It should be noted that many of the Baathists who were publicly vilified by the U.S. via the Pentagon's "Deck of Cards" and apprehended were eventually released for lack of evidence of complicity in war crimes.

      Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has refused to sign a death warrant for Tariq Aziz, former Iraq foreign minister under Saddam Hussein. Many believe the charges Aziz, a Catholic, was convicted of and sentenced to death for, were exaggerated.

      A number of Baathists, including Gen. Izzat al-Douri, were never caught and are now believed to have joined forces with ISIS to attack the Iraqi army.

      ISIS has only a few thousand fighters - many of them foreign non-Iraqis - and even many of these are fighting in Syria.

      Unlike al-Qaeda, its leadership is virtually unreported in the media.

  • Opportunities Abound in Iraq to Reset US Middle East Policy
    • "In Israel.........[t]he Israeli electorate continues to shift in a rightward direction............"

      Expect Naftali Bennett, the Israeli cabinet's economics minister, to achieve greater popular support for his call that Israel annex settlement blocs in the West Bank.

      If the current government collapses over the West Bank settlements issue, then it will be Bennett who will emerge as the conservative front runner to replace PM Netanyahu in an election.

    • The Iraqi political situation has traditionally been fractious and extremely difficult for the State Department or anyone else in America to understand.

      At one point, the U.S. Department of Defense wanted to empower Shi'ite Iraqi militias when the Iraqi government did not trust these militias to preserve order.

      President George H.W. Bush ordered the National Security Council to initiate comprehensive covert operations in Iraq following the close of the Persian Gulf war and paid millions for a public relations firm to promote an umbrella organization they gave a name - the Iraqi National Congress - composed chiefly of Shi'ites, Kurds and anti-Hussein Sunnis.

      There was hope that the Iraqi National Congress was going to be recognized as the government-in-exile by Iraqis - it was not.

      America's fault in Iraq is that it took sides with Shi'ite and Kurdish elements without giving equal representation to Sunni civilians who had no connection to the Baathists. This was a recipe for disaster.

      Iraq's situation was not unlike Lebanon - which had been in a long period of varying degrees of civil war and sectarian violence from 1975 up even to the present largely due to the lack of an equitable distribution of political power among Sunnis, Shi'ites, Christians and other ethnic/religious minorities coupled with Israeli and Syrian foreign interference in their political processes and military occupation.

      Iraq and Iran are natural allies due to their respective Shi'ite pluralities and distaste for al-Qaeda jihadists and their ilk. The U.S. should facilitate that relationship.

  • Don't Trust the Bombers on Iraq: "Shock and Awe" Never Works
    • Linebacker II may have had lesser bomb tonnage, but the laser-guided "smart bombs" and other explosive ordinance was more adept at hitting targets than the Rolling Thunder operation that preceded it.

    • Gen. Westmoreland was promoted to U.S. Army Chief of Staff after President Johnson recalled him from his command at MACV. This was not perceived as a demotion but rather an advancement based on his leadership in containing the NVA/VC elements.

      Gen. Creighton Abrams became the new MACV commander and ended "search and destroy" operations implemented by Westmoreland in favor of a more one-on-one approach with the NVA/VC squads.

    • Arthur "Bomber" Harris, chief of the RAF bomber command during WWII and later Air Marshal in 1946 does have a statue erected to him in Britain.

    • Arc Light raids at Khe Sanh during the Tet Offensive in 1968 saved the Marine Corps base stationed there from being overrun.

    • As I recall, it was aerial bombardment upon Japan which was instrumental in getting them to surrender without infantry invasion and which made Curtis Lemay at 44 years old, the youngest four-star general in the history of the U.S.

      General Carl Spaatz and his strategic bombing of Germany in WWII demoralized the German populace and inflicted heavy damage upon their industrial capacity.

    • "...all that carpet bombing did not prevent the U.S. from being defeated by the Viet Cong."

      In reality, heavy losses were sustained by the NVA and VC forces due to U.S. air power. Operation Linebacker II dropped more ordnance on North Vietnam in 2 weeks than had been dropped in the preceding seven years on that country and that operation was considered a major success by the U.S. Air Force and, as a practical manner, brought the Democratic Republic of Vietnam to sign a peace pact in Paris several weeks later.

      In a few weeks in December of 1972, the U.S. Air Force acquired air supremacy over North Vietnam's skies as the North Vietnamese withdrew their air force into China.

      Arc Light was the program in which the Viet Cong was bombed by B-52s in South Vietnam. It inflicted significant casualties upon the guerrillas - who could neither hear nor see the planes before the bombs struck.

      Over 880,000 NVA and VC were killed in action during the Vietnam War. The war was political between Communist and non-Communist forces - not a hostile invasion by a foreign colonizing power. The U.S. Armed Forces soldiers did their job well but were plagued by an incompetent Pentagon and State Department.

      It is estimated that in 1991, the U.S. bombing campaign against Iraq destroyed about 30% of Iraq's air force within a few weeks.

      Also, the assertion that Sunni Iraqis will embrace ISIS as "local defenders" is misplaced. ISIS is composed of not only Iraqis - but other foreign nationals from Central Asia and other regions - this distinguished it in Syria from al-Nusra combatants.

  • 7 Myths about the Radical Sunni Advance in Iraq
  • Enter the Ayatollah: Sistani calls on Iraqis to enlist in Fight against "Terrorists"
    • Ali Sistani has been a positive force within Iraq for many years, having survived persecution under the Baathist regime. His role as a spiritual leader extends back to the early 1960s.

      Ironically, he is an ethnic Iranian, however his influence extends far beyond Iraq and is revered among Lebanese Shi'ites as a spiritual leader.

      He can safely be described as the most influential and respected leader within Shia Islam worldwide.

  • The Second Iran-Iraq War and the American Switch
    • There is a Shia plurality in Lebanon.

    • It would be very interesting who specifically is backing ISIS - which is a group that is so extreme that al-Qaeda has denounced it due to its actions in Syria in fracturing the opposition to the Baathists.

      When the U.S. Marines were fighting ISIS at Falluja, there were some stories that the Assad regime was helping ISIS - and there is also suspicion that ISIS has been covertly supported by the Syrian government in fighting other anti-Assad elements within Syria.

      ISIS, like Hezbollah, has become a government-within-a-government in areas of Iraq and Syria. It has its own council of ministers and has been known for its extreme brutality against the inhabitants of areas it controls.

      What is significant is that there are reports of former Baathists from Saddam Hussein's regime, including former Iraqi Baathist General Izzat al-Douri, a former confidante of Saddam Hussein and the "King of Clubs" in the legendary "Deck of Cards" issued by the U.S. Department of Defense to promote apprehension of fugitives from that regime, engaged in the fighting at Mosul.

  • And the Walls Come Tumbling Down: Israeli PM Netanyahu on Notice from both Left and Right
    • Israel, under PM Ehud Barak, withdrew from Lebanon almost 15 years ago but it has been an almost completely stable border since 2006.

      The same rationale can occur with respect to Palestine.

      Mutual deterrence has prevented further armed conflict between the IDF and Hezbollah since 2006.

    • "Enter Yair Lapid, head of centrist party Yesh Atid........"

      Yair Lapid in 2013 was picked by Time magazine as one of the world's 100 most influential persons and hailed as a rising star in Israeli politics. His focus on advancing the interests of the Israeli middle class and curtailing the privileges of the ultraorthodox Jewish community found a wide audience among Israeli voters

      Six months into his first term his unpopularity ratings have rose to 75% in polls in Israel by the end of 2013. It is estimated that if his party had to face elections today they would retain no more than ten Knesset seats.

      Lapid is viewed as a novice on foreign affairs issues. He had earlier in his term as finance minister stated that he would support normal Jewish settlement growth in the West Bank and only changed his tune once the BDS movement was seen as endangering the Israeli economy. He had, before his ministerial appointment, advocated a "high fence" between Jews and Palestinians and his call above for a "complete (separation) from the Palestinians" above is a reiteration of his prior position.

      Lapid's threat to withdraw his centrist party from the Likud-led coalition may result in the rise of a more right-wing prime minister - such as Bennett or Lieberman.

  • The Fall of Mosul and the False Promises of Modern History
    • There are reports that former Baathists from the Saddam Hussein era are playing a role in ISIS.

      Very clearly, many fugitives listed in the famous "Deck of Cards" were never apprehended and have played a part in the resistance to the post-Baathists governments in Iraq. Izzat al-Doury is an example a general from the Baathist regime who has never been located and has organized an insurgency.

  • Prelude to Ethnic Cleansing? Israel Plans 3200 more Squatter homes on Palestinian Land
    • The Palestinians need to file complaints with the International Criminal Court in lieu of a request for UN Security Council intervention, as any Security Council consideration can (and likely will) end in another gridlock due to the veto power of the U.S.

      Moderates within the Netanyahu ruling coalition - including
      Hatnua's Tzipi Livni and Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid have already publicly denounced recent plans announced by PM Netanyahu to annex parts of the West Bank and indicated they would not support it. Lapid has stated that annexation will lead to his party's withdrawal from the ruling coalition.

  • US support for Palestinian Gov't a 'Knife in the Back' says Israel, after Sabotaging Kerry Talks
    • This is a major, major turning point in U.S. foreign policy.

      It is also the biggest foreign policy failure of the Netanyahu government since the November 29, 2012 UN General Assembly vote granting the Palestinian Authority observer status at that body.

      The State of Israel was indirectly responsible for the rise of Hamas in Gaza when it abruptly withdrew its Civil Administration and IDF occupation forces from Gaza during the historic 2005 disengagement without effectuating an orderly transition of power akin to what the U.S. did when it left Iraq. This created a power vacuum that led to shaky Palestinian Authority control over Gaza and the violent coup there in 2007 that placed Gaza under sole Hamas control.

      There are liberal voices in Israeli politics that wish a direct peace dialogue with Hamas and see it as necessary to a binding final status peace pact. One of these voices is former Defense Minister Amir Peretz.. The Hamas-Palestinian Authority unity agreement with U.S. State Department recognition will aid in making this a reality and Israeli right-wingers are well aware of this. It effectively makes Hamas a key player in Israel/Palestine peace negotiations.

      My guess is that the U.S. State Department was angry over the recent Netanyahu government pronouncements on the intended annexation of East Jerusalem and the vaunted West Bank Jewish settlement augmentation plans and chose this course of action as a response.

  • Is the Prisoner Swap Hysteria a sign of GOP War withdrawal Symptoms?
    • The Bowe Bergdahl Wikipedia page cites recent articles in the U.S. News and World Report, Yahoo News and Miami Herald for the 2010 Pentagon document.

      The New York Times also recently cites GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss, an Obama administration critic of the negotiations, confirming that the Obama White House has denied existence of the"note" that the Pentagon heavily relied upon in its 2010 conclusion that Bergdahl was a deserter.

      Also, the "hate mail and nasty phone calls" have been believed to be the result of the recently-disclosed 2010 Pentagon investigative report concluding a desertion occurred - that indirect causation was the gist of my post.

    • Bowe Bergdahl will continue to be a controversial figure.

      The Taliban had claimed that Pfc. Bergdahl was captured while intoxicated and apparently had inadvertently strayed from his unit.

      The Pentagon in 2010 had declared it had "incontrovertible" evidence that he was a deserter and cited an alleged "note" found that indicated he was leaving "to start a new life".

      The "note" evidence had doubt cast upon it by Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the ranking GOP member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, who stated that the confidential U.S. intelligence file on the Bergdahl abduction given to him by the government did not mention the existence of any note.

      The Pentagon statement also does jibe with why the U.S. Department of Defense issued a press release in 2011 announcing that Bergdahl had been promoted to sergeant and inviting persons to contact its public relations office with any questions on Bergdahl.

      Bergdahl's hometown cancelled a homecoming celebration for him due to the continued controversy created by the Pentagon's prior statements on his alleged deserter status.

    • Bowe Bergdahl's father grew a beard to exhibit solidarity with the Taliban and had communicated with Taliban leaders via Twitter to express his desire to see Guantanamo detainees discharged and to criticize the U.S. for its conduct against Afghan civilians.

      Some have compared him to the Israeli Noam Shalit, who likewise expressed sympathy to Palestinians while his son was in captivity in Gaza.

  • Dear GOP: The US has negotiated with Terrorists and Amnestied Them all through History
    • Both the IDF and Shin Bet leadership recommended that PM Olmert agree to a prisoner exchange right off the bat when Gilad Shalit was first abducted - he refused.

      At the time that Shalit was released, 79% of Israelis polled supported the prisoner swap.

      IAF navigator Ron Arad was never exchanged after being captured by Hezbollah in the 1980s. Would it have been better in retrospect if his release had been negotiated?

      Were more Americans captured and held hostage in Lebanon after the Reagan administration negotiated for their release? Not at all.

      I do agree with you that there were reports that Gazans attempted to abduct IDF soldiers during Operation Cast Lead - but none were actually taken.

    • Being a "state actor" does not immunize one from a war crimes prosecution, but only gives the prisoner protections granted members of a regime's armed forces.

      Panama's Manuel Noriega, for example, had Geneva Convention protections as a captured general during Operation Just Cause, but was prosecuted by several governments and has spent decades behind bars.

      The Taliban, although diplomatically unpopular and undemocratic, was the de facto ruling power over Kabul and most of Afghanistan since 1996.

    • State actors are exempt from a terror organization designation by the U.S. government.

      Furthermore, Afghanistan was a signatory to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and the Taliban, as one-time ruling power in that country, has the protections of that document extend to its armed forces members.

      By contrast, the Al Qaeda militants are "enemy combatants" who have no such Geneva Convention protections.

    • The ultimate irony about how politics swing back around is that after the fall of South Vietnam in 1975, the luxurious Cam Ranh Bay military installation came under Communist control and leased to the Soviet Union, but after the fall of communism there, the Russian government could no longer afford the $200,000,000 per annum rent and vacated the base after it had become a major counter-balance to the U.S. naval presence in the Phillippines.

      In 2012, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was given a tour of Cam Ranh Bay by the Vietnamese government who was willing to lease it back America - who no longer wants it.

      More Vietnamese died in the Vietnam War than all American servicemen in all U.S. wars put together since the Revolutionary War.

      The Viet Cong's political arm, the National Liberation Front, had a seat at the Paris Peace talks, and after the fall of Saigon, the Viet Cong complained bitterly that the North Vietnamese government never gave them control of the conquered south, but put their own cronies in place as an occupying government.

    • The irony is that Israel has vilified Iran as a danger to world peace, yet they happily sent some of THEIR missiles to Iran as long as the U.S. replenished the Israeli government's supply.

      The use of fronts is nothing new to Israel. They paid a commission to the Norwegian company Noratom to purchase twenty tons of heavy water in Noratom's name from Great Britain for use in Israel's nuclear weapons program. The heavy water was delivered straight to Israel from the U.K.

      The purchase contract contained a proviso that the heavy water was only to be employed for peaceful purposes - which it was not after being received from the British government.

  • Now Palestinians must go to the Int'l Criminal Court, and US Should Back Them
    • International Criminal Court exercise of jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute violations of international law is necessary not only to mete out punishment to violators, but also to deter future misconduct.

      The U.S. support of I.C.C. jurisdiction in Syria is laudable and the corresponding failure to oppose such jurisdiction in Palestine is unexplainable.

      The importance of the Nuremburg trials was its setting of a precedent that accountability shall be had for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

      In the instant case, it is important to note that large-scale human rights violations have not only been committed by Israeli security forces - but by Palestinian police as well - both with impunity.

      There is little doubt that the "negotiations" that have been supposedly endangered since the late 1980s have produced precious little progress except for the Oslo Accords and even that achievement was largely torpedoed by PM Netanyahu.

      The Bus 300 scandal in Israel during the 1980s when two Arab teenagers were bludgeoned to death while in custody of Shin Bet apparently on orders of the highest levels of the Israeli government shows everyone there is no real accountability when violations of Palestinian human rights occurs - in that case the Israeli President Chaim Herzog issued a myriad of pardons for those implicated in the killings and not a single individual was successfully prosecuted, despite the attempts of the Israeli Attorney General to seek justice in the matter. This would never had occurred in any "democracy" by Western standards.

  • Mr. Kerry: Why Snowden can't "Make his Case" in "Our System of Justice"
    • The large amounts of prisoners in the U.S. can be traced to several factors:

      (A)the so-called "War on Drugs" since the 1980s that has authorized stiff prison terms and even mandatory prison sentences for mere possession of relatively small amounts of proscribed substances;

      (B) the abolition of parole in the U.S. Bureau of Prisons;

      (C)the tendency to criminalize almost every facet of social nonconformity - jailing citizens for such offenses as non-payment of child support obligations, talking too loudly on the phone in public, jaywalking etc.

      Corrections is big business and is being privatized more and more. Once you inject a profit motive for incarceration, you have a lobby advocating to legislators for mandatory sentences and criminalizing almost every act imaginable deemed inimical to the "public interest".

  • Israeli PM Netanyahu Vows never to Return Occupied E Jerusalem to Palestinian Residents
    • Jerusalem has its Armenian Quarter also.

      Many Armenians fled the genocide almost 100 years ago to settle in Jerusalem and a substantial percentage have stayed.

  • Egypt: Passive Aggression and Counter-revolution: Voters, Youth Stay Home
    • Sherifa Zuhur was a professor at the Army War College and had General al-Sisi as a student there some years ago.

  • Turkish Court asks Interpol to arrest 4 Israeli ex-Generals for Gaza Aid Ship Murders
    • "An Israeli probe found that the raid did not violate international law........."

      Any surprises there?

  • Pope Francis Calls for Palestinian State, Prays at Apartheid Wall
    • I find as significant that the Pope's invitation to the Vatican was extended not to PM Netanyahu - but the Israeli President Shimon Peres, who earlier received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in negotiating the Oslo Accords.

      Also noteworthy is his placing his hand in the immediate vicinity of "Free Palestine" graffiti.

      The "Apartheid Wall" stands as a powerful symbol of the divisions between Jews and Christian Arabs in that area that is historic to both religions.

  • Pope Francis to call for Sovereign, Independent Palestinian State from Bethlehem
    • Good question.

      I authored a paper decades ago in college on that massacre and could locate no response by the Vatican. If anyone has found something in this regard I would be glad to have them share it here.

    • Israel has always been concerned about the fondness that the Vatican has exuded to the Palestinians. This was expressed by Victor Ostrovsky, the ex-Mossad agent author of the best-seller By Way of Deception.

      PM Menachem Begin criticized Pope John Paul II over his September 15, 1982 audience with Yasser Arafat. It was the first of a dozen meetings the two would have. Arafat in 1990 married Suha Tawil, who was raised Roman Catholic.

      In 2000, the pontiff visited Arafat in Bethlehem and wished "blessings from heaven" upon him, his family and the Palestinians.

      The Roman Catholic Church's Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem has regularly given pronouncements critical of the oppression visited upon the Palestinian population.

      80,000 Roman Catholic adherents inhabit Israel/Palestine.

  • Israel Accused of War Crime over Army "Execution" of Innocent Palestinian Teens
    • "......the IDF operates with complete impunity and its soldiers are not punished for these killings."

      An IDF sergeant was convicted of manslaughter over the death of Briton Thomas Hurndall, an activist in the International Solidarity Movement, in Rafah and sentenced to prison.

      There was a manslaughter prosecution against an Israeli soldier fro the killing of a civilian arising out of the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead invasion into Gaza.

      That said, it is very rare for an IDF member to be charged with homicide - and less so if the victim is an Arab.

  • Occupartheid is Isolating and Degrading Israel
    • Tunisia for one.

      23% of their popularly-elected national legislative body is composed of women - which outpaces the U.S. Congress.

      There exists freedom of the press.

      The synagogue in Tunis receives round-the-clock security provided by the government.

    • ".....Racist, nationalistic, and anti-democratic rhetoric and acts have become the normative life of the society."

      Agreed.

      Israeli citizens continue to elect to the Knesset a majority of some of the most virulent and brutal anti-Arab politicians from Israel's population. These elected officials wind up on the powerful Defense and Foreign Relations Committee and other key committees of the Knesset that control both the peace process and occupation of the West Bank.

      Labor Party, Meretz, Kadash and Arab List members of the Knesset have common sense solutions to ending the ongoing stalemate that has caused so much strife and grief since 1967. Yet they cannot get elected in sufficient numbers to make any difference in the peace process.

      When Noam Shalit ran for the Knesset on the Labor Party list on a peace platform after he was instrumental in pushing for his son's release along with the corresponding discharge of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners from custody, his campaign failed miserably.

      The last time Israel had elected a progressive politician as prime minister was when the Kadima Party was formed immediately following the 2005 Gaza disengagement. Virtually nothing was accomplished toward the peace process in the approximate four years he held office.

      Palestinians have two real choices: (1) seek the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israel for a number of offenses - including the unlawful settlement of the West Bank, or (2) initiate a Third Intifada.

      The fault of the United States in fostering this mentality of racism and violence cannot be understated and is severely disturbing - both in the United Nations Security Council and in Congress.

      Overall, the writer succinctly conveys the correct message on the improprieties committed and deficiencies within the Israeli government in its relations with its Arab minority.

  • Anti-Muslim Gadfly to run DC Bus ads linking Hitler to Islam (+Russell Brand video against Islam Hatred)
    • There are extensive federal court opinions that have established the parameters of the First Amendment in bus advertising cases that require the transportation authorities who allow political advertising to permit ALL such advertising regardless of actual content.

      In Ann Arbor, Michigan a pro-Palestine activist was denied a "Boycott Israel" ad on a bus and the ACLU filed a First Amendment lawsuit resulting in a preliminary injunction issuance and eventual monetary settlement with the ACLU in exchange for dropping the request to post the ad.

      Those governmental agencies who refuse to place such controversial ads risk the potential of being named defendants in court actions.

  • America as Torture Central: From Prisons to "Black Sites"
    • The use of torture and imposition of abuse by law enforcement and corrections agencies at the federal, state and county level within the United States is rampant.

      The State of Michigan a few years back settled a series of civil rights cases which eventually included approximately 900 plaintiffs that had alleged ongoing patterns of sexual abuse by state corrections officers against female inmates within the Michigan Department of Corrections.

      The action settled for $100 million dollars with the attorneys for the plaintiffs being awarded $28 million of that sum.

      Torture is a recognized interrogation technique in the U.S. by law enforcement.

  • Rising Numbers of Palestinian Children Subjected to Solitary Confinement
    • There has been a history of abuses carried out by the Israeli government against Palestinian youth.

      One of the great scandals in Israel's history was the Bus 300 affair in 1984 where 2 Arab teens suspected of complicity in a bus hijacking were bludgeoned to death while in the custody of Shin Bet.

      New York Times Jerusalem correspondent David Shipler acquired a photo showing one the youths alive and in police custody after his capture and had it published. This was after the Israeli government had claimed that all suspected assailants were killed in the police raid on the bus.

      An investigation revealed that Shin Bet director Avraham Shalom ordered the killings of the two teens, however President Chaim Herzog pardoned him as it was claimed in pardon papers that Shalom acted under the "approval and authorization" of his superior - his only boss at the time was PM Yitzhak Shamir.

      One of the Shin Bet agents pardoned openly admitted he had no regrets over his personal conduct in the actual fatal beatings - he was later elected to public office, serving in the Knesset on the Likud ticket in 2003-2006.

      The ongoing abuses of Palestinian children was a key element in fueling in the First Intifada.

  • Israeli Squatter anti-Church Terror in Jerusalem "Poisons" Papal visit
    • There are about 80,000 Catholics in Israel/Palestine region.

      Latin-rite adherents predominate over Melkites, however the Latin-rite Catholics are concentrated in the Jerusalem/Ramallah areas.

      The Lutheran church maintains school facilities in areas near Jerusalem.

    • Non-evangelical Protestant denominations have expressed solidarity with Palestinian interests.

      The Quakers have had educational institutions in Palestine since 1869 and continue to do so today. They have spearheaded boycott and demonstration protests in America against the Israeli government.

      Other Protestant denominations, such as the Seventh Day Adventists, have conducted missionary activity in the West Bank.

      However, most Palestinian Christians have been either Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic in orientation.

  • Human Rights NGOs Call for Palestine to take Israel to International Criminal Court
    • The only real choice for Palestinians is to seek the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. The other alternative is initiation of the Third Intifada - which will cause both Israelis and Palestinians tremendous economic injury and probable significant casualties from violence.

      Until now the ICC has been used sparingly, chiefly to prosecute dictators and warlords of sub-Saharan nations of Africa.

  • Is Israeli PM Netanyahu's Case against Iran Collapsing?
    • Israel has never had a constitution.

      It is governed by the Basic Law.

    • It was Israel's own civilian nuclear regulatory agency in the mid-1960s that had suspected that Israel had been acquiring a nuclear bomb capability and publicly warned that this conduct could open up Israel to international vilification.

      Canadian intelligence agents in the early 1960s had doggedly pursued information Israel had been in the process of acquiring enriched uranium from Argentina in bulk quantities.

      Israel had conducted some of the earliest research in the 1950s in the manufacture of heavy water and in the early 1960s purchased bulk quantities of heavy water from Great Britain using the Norwegian front company Noratom to acquire 20 tons of heavy water with the express proviso that it would not be used for construction of atomic weaponry.

      Defense Secretary McNamara opposed Israel's acquisition of nuclear weaponry but the U.S. was given a runaround when they attempted to investigate information the Argentine government was selling large quantities of yellowcake to Israel.

      Israel is strongly believed to have secretly detonated a four-kiloton nuclear device in the Indian Ocean during a joint project with South Africa in 1979 that was detected by the Defense Intelligence Agency via a Vela satellite and the U.S. oceanic hydrophone network.

      Israel likely acquired its A-bomb capability in 1967-69 and a hydrogen bomb capability during the mid-1980s.

      Israel's current foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has previously publicly bandied about the possibility of a nuclear option in Gaza and also bombing the Aswan Dam in Egypt.

      Israel, only last year for the very first time, has capitulated in allowing an IAEA inspection of its Soreq nuclear reactor but has failed to ever permit IAEA inspectors access to the Dimona reactor facility that had been designed by French engineers in the 1950s and hidden following construction with palm groves to avoid overhead reconnaissance detection. The U.S. first became aware of the site during a U-2 overflight in 1958.

      Israel has become a menacing nuclear power in the Middle East in a manner that has repeatedly alarmed even its own civilian atomic regulatory authorities. The real danger to world peace from nuclear weaponry emanates not from Iran, but rather from Israel, and the international community has been habitually laggard in addressing this serious problem.

  • Calif. Republican Smears Arab-American Libertarian Congressman as ‘al Qaeda’s best friend’
    • A new low?

      How about this quote from Brian Ellis? - who has filed to oppose Congressman Amash for his Michigan 3rd U.S. Congressional District seat the August GOP primary:

      "Third District citizens deserve a representative who shares their commitment to our national security and our faithful ally Israel."

    • Rep. Justin Amash is a Palestinian-American whose parents are from Ramallah - his chief of staff is Jordan W. Bush. He attended the University of Michigan Law School. He is considered to be very articulate, well-informed and well-respected among his constituency

      He supports a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine question.

      He is also respected, if not revered, within certain Michigan GOP circles - especially the libertarian wing.

      His libertarian viewpoint likely emanates from the fact that the Arab-American community in Michigan - particularly Metro Detroit - have been targeted for highly invasive surveillance and investigation by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies over the past four decades.

  • Is Fall of Homs a turning point in Regime's Quest to Retake Syria?
    • "What 'peace process?' Isn't that phrase dead on arrival?"

      Absolutely. Nobody had any real faith that Geneva II was going to accomplish anything significant. The Department of State pushed the Syrian National Coalition to go along with that program and had leverage due to the diplomatic and military support provided by the U.S. to the FSA.

      The Ankara meeting between Western diplomats and the newly-minted "Islamic Front" umbrella rebel coalition revealed that this organization did not even want any foreign aid from those interests and preferred the continued funding and support of Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

      "....profiteers and contractors stuck to them like chewing gum under the bus station bench......."

      It would indeed be interesting to find out who is raking in the "big bucks" from this ongoing carnage. Memories of Brown & Root dredging Cam Ranh Bay or Dow Chemical manufacturing bulk quantities of Agent Orange and napalm for shipment to Vietnam or the more recent megabucks "earned" by Blackwater in Iraq have always reminded me that conflicts like these are expensive and there are a select few who enrich themselves immeasurably as "merchants of death".

    • Hezbollah appears to be a key to the recent military successes of the Assad regime. They played an important role in the recent retaking of Homs.

      The lack of coherent foreign policy by the Obama administration has damaged the cause of the Free Syrian Army(FSA). There has been no cogent proof that the Syrian government has divested itself of its chemical weapons program in the timetable promised. The FSA has received anti-tank missiles, but not needed surface-to-air missiles; the rebels have been sustaining heavy aerial bombardment in Aleppo and elsewhere.

      The death toll among Syrians from the civil war is well over 140,000 and continues to mount. There is no international leadership that has stepped in to assist in the peace process since the abysmal failures of the Geneva II conference.

  • Netanyahu's Blood and Soil: The Racist-Nationalism of his "Jewish State" Ideal
    • There exists de facto discrimination against Arabs in Israel by virtue of clever legislative enactments and judicial rules.

      Eligibility of an Israeli citizen in social welfare programs is dependent upon a relative serving the Israel Defense Forces. Since there is almost universal conscription of Jews into the IDF(with the exception of the ultraorthodox), this confers such eligibility upon almost all Israeli Jews but very, very, few Arabs - except for the Druze minority.

      There are segregated units within the IDF. The Bedouins who serve often stay in separate units. Racially segregated army units were abolished in the U.S. in 1948 by order of Harry Truman.

      Israelis who settle the West Bank have their legal cases heard in an Israeli civilian court, however Arabs in the West Bank are subject to criminal trial in a military tribunal only.

      Israel has never had any constitution but is governed by the Basic Law. When Arab political parties began winning court cases to keep themselves on the Knesset ballot after being decertified by an election commission, Israeli leaders discussed limiting the powers of the judicial branch via a Knesset election committee vote pushed by right-wingers.

  • Taking Voting Rights from Felons preserves the Legacy of Slavery
    • It should be noted that Florida allows for issuance of a "certificate of restoration of civil rights" for felons who have completed their sentence so they can regain the opportunity to vote.

      The State of Michigan Legislature had passed a law at one point that allowed felons discharged from prison the ability to vote - but disenfranchised any incarcerated person - even those awaiting trial or jailed as the result of misdemeanor convictions.

  • Boycott, divestment, sanctions movement seeks justice for Palestinians
    • The Washington State Court of Appeals on April 7, 2014 upheld a trial court judgment dismissing a complaint filed against the Olympia Food Co-op and a number of its current and former directors for voting to boycott Israeli goods; the appeals panel also affirmed judgment on the counterclaim for the defendants awarding $160,000 in damages plus $60,000 in attorney fees - the appellate court further granted defendants legal fees incurred on appeal.

      The co-op and directors named as defendants had countersued the plaintiff-members of the co-op under Washington's anti-SLAPP(Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law.

      The plaintiff-shareholders opposing the boycott in the suit had met with the Israel Consul for the northwest United States, and a deputy minister of the Israel Foreign Ministry all but conceded at the time the suit was filed that it was being instituted with the support of the Israeli government.

      Other co-op BDS efforts against Israeli-manufactured products in the U.S. have failed e.g. Park Slope in Brooklyn and People's Food Co-op in Ann Arbor.

  • US calls Israeli Squatter attacks on Palestinians 'Terrorism'; Israel says 'only vandalism'
    • Arab mayors of West Bank cities were routinely targeted by Jewish settler extremists in shootings and bombings that killed or maimed many in the 1980s.

      There had beenpreviously little outrage in the Israeli government over this conduct. Now that the IDF themselves have been targeted for "price tag" attacks, they now see it expedient to denounce and pursue Jewish settlers who initiate such violence.

    • No, but his Democratic Party is up for re-election in U.S. Congress and a GOP-controlled House and Senate can make his final two years uncomfortable by opposing his policies.

  • The PLO-Hamas Unity Agreement: an Opportunity for the United States and Israel
    • It should be noted that dovish Israeli writers filed suit when a moderate Hamas diplomat during the Second Intifada was assassinated by the IDF as he was traveling in a vehicle trying to negotiate a peace plan with the Palestinian Authority. Those writers felt that the Israeli government was trying to torpedo an eventual peace deal involving Hamas.

      Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was killed by an IDF gunship in Gaza shortly after he announced a two-state solution was a possibility.

      The Likud-controlled government can only survive by promoting ongoing violence between Israel and Palestinians.

      The IDF on April 29th had soldiers guard bulldozers demolishing a mosque in a village near Nablus that had been in use since 2008 due to the fact it interfered with an IDF firing range. The parallels between this act and the former Nazi German practice of demolishing synagogues for frivolous reasons cannot be ignored. This act and recent similar tactics are clearly trying to evoke a violent response by Hamas so that the Netanyahu government can justify a military escalation and destabilize any unity among Palestiniains.

  • John Kerry admits Israeli Apartheid; and 5 Ways he is Understating It
    • The situation in the West Bank can also be compared to the plight of native Americans who either were forced to occupy reservations with limited autonomy under ultimate control of the U.S. government or, in the alternative, assimilate into American society where they faced and continue to face discrimination.

      On a separate note, Israel's heavy casualties it drew in the 2006 South Lebanon War (165 killed and hundreds more wounded) led to a mutual deterrence between the IDF and Hezbollah that has stood the test of time - no war for almost eight years. The decades of Israeli encroachment in south Lebanon permanently ended following 2006. The painful failures of the IDF in the Battle of Bint Jubeil and the Litani Offensive in 2006 led to public opinion in Israel souring on continued military incursions in that area.

      The Israeli opinion polls showed overwhelming support for the 2002 Operation Defensive Shield and the 2008-9 Operation Cast Lead actions by the IDF against Palestinian militants (91% and 94% approval rate, respectively).

      Likewise, until Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank create a viable paramilitary threat against Israel, the status quo of occupation and blockade may continue indefinitely. If Palestinian militants are able to inflict casualties in battle situations upon the Israel Defense Forces in numbers comparable to those the IDF sustained in the 2006 South Lebanon War, popular opinion in Israel will likely force a reasonable peace settlement.

      A promising development on the Palestinian side toward peace has been the resurgence of popularity in Gaza by the moderate Fatah Party during the last year or so. Israel has had a mild resurgence in dovish parties such as Labor and Meretz in the last year also.

  • Egyptian Youth Protest against Anti-Protest Law a month before Elections
    • It was ironic that the "V for Vendetta" film, which gave rise to the international popularity of the Guy Fawkes mask, was cited as the single piece of artwork that the Arab Spring demonstrators most often cited as associated with their cause.

      One cannot view that film without being reminded of Hosni Mubarak's oppressive reign in Egypt and the eventual collapse of his regime via the force of popular dissent.

  • When will Israel Stop Shooting at Gaza Civilians?
    • The rockets from Gaza are in direct response to the illegal naval blockade by Israel that denies Gazans delivery of goods.

      The Qassam rockets cost about 100 shekels to make, however the Iron Dome interception system costs Israel $100,000 for every intercepted missile - not inclusive of the cost of that system itself. Only one Israeli was injured this year as an indirect result of a missile when she was injured trying to take cover.

      The municipality of Sderot, the primary target of the Gazan militants, has being kept financially afloat over the past several years via outside donations, but nevertheless has been near bankruptcy due to the consequences of rocket attacks. Many residents have moved out and and at one point the Sderot mayor announced his resignation over the Israel government's failure to stop the incoming missile attacks.

      The primary damage Israel has sustained from Gaza rockets is economic.

  • Israel, US Complain about not being able to Divide and Rule the Palestinians
    • Hamas and Fateh in a government of national unity?

      How can that occur when the Palestinian Authority cooperates with Shin Bet in tracking down suspected terrorist activity? With Hamas joining the Israeli government in helping them fight terror? - or with the Palestinian Authority ceasing its cooperation with Israeli authorities?

      Moshe Yaalon, the current defense minister in Israel opposed the 2005 Gaza disengagement and Likud espouses a "domino theory" that the IDF withdrawal from South Lebanon by then-PM Ehud Barak would commence a chain of events that will lead to Israel's collapse if not reversed. The Gaza disengagement was another domino and a West Bank disengagement will be a third.

      Likud Party diehards will never relinquish the West Bank and the spike in recent settlement expansion is powerful proof of the intent of the Netanyahu government. Netanyahu took great pride privately in torpedoing the Oslo Accords as well as the later Wye Agreement.

      A number of moderates in the Knesset see a two-state solution possible with Israel and Palestine confederating into a financial and trade union much like the European Union facilitates commerce in that continent. This would be an economic boon to both nations.

    • Jimmy Carter recognized that the rockets being fired by Gazan militants are in direct response to the naval blockade by Israel to prevent the free flow of goods into Gaza.

      There would be no rockets absent the blockade that violates international law.

  • The New York Times Criticized for Submitting to Israeli Censors
    • Sima Vaknin Gill is the Chief Censor for the State of Israel.

      She is an IDF colonel who serves under the military intelligence division of the Israel Defense Forces. Her formal job is to balance the interests of national security with the freedom of the press.

      The Office of Chief Censor is unique in nature and is rooted historically in the British Mandate period preceding Israeli independence.

      There have been questions about conflicts of interest - especially a case where a senior IDF intelligence official was alleged to have engaged in questionable conduct and the story was suppressed.

  • Too Big to Jail? Why Kidnapping, Torture, Assassination, and Perjury Are No Longer Crimes in Washington
    • Virtually all of these "crimes" were occurring to one degree or another in the 1950s, 60s and 70s and investigated by the Church Committee or even internally by the Central Intelligence Agency during the 1970s.

      Former Soviet KGB agent Yuri Nosenko was detained and tortured for years by the CIA until he was deemed a bona fide defector and released with compensation. In the "Family Jewels" report the CIA freely admitted that kidnapping laws may have been broken during his confinement. No one was prosecuted.

      Michael Townley may have been the only CIA contract agent ever convicted in a murder prosecution in the U.S. arising out of his complicity in the Orlando Letelier/Ronni Moffitt killings in Washington D.C., but he was almost immediately placed in the Federal Witness Protection Program after the conclusion of his case.

      Former FBI agent William Turner has written in his book, "The Fish is Red" about the non-enforcement agreement between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and the CIA during the Operation Mongoose project to destabilize the Cuban regime in Florida - even though the Neutrality Act and federal explosive and firearms laws were routinely being violated by anti-Castro exiles under the supervision of the CIA and Army in Miami. When Cuban exile leader Dr. Orlando Bosch was convicted of firing a bazooka at a Polish freighter off the coast of Miami in 1967, he was subjected to a rare federal prosecution and imprisonment - but was eventually pardoned by President Bush in 1989 during parole violation proceedings.

      It is exceedingly rare to see severe punishment meted out to those committing crimes while following orders or acting under the direction of the CIA.

  • Thousands of Palestinians Rally for Release of 5,000 in Israeli Jails, Including 200 Children
    • When Michael Dukakis, an ACLU member, was asked during his 1988 presidential run about the 6,000 Palestinians being held in Israeli jails as part of "administrative detention" without formal charge he replied -- and stuck to-- the position that the Israelis were "making the best of a bad situation."

  • Pictures Don't Lie: Refuting #there_was _ no _ Palestine
    • It is important to note that the native Jews in Palestine were very similar to the Arabs in their dress - often wearing the fez.

      It was the Jewish refugees from Europe in the late 1940s that aggressively formed settlements and wore Western garb.

      There are photos from November 29th, 1947 when the U.N. partition vote was announced that showed the celebrations among Jews and news accounts commenting their clothing was European in style, as opposed to native born Jews in Palestine.

      The primary impetus of the creation of Israel was to relocate Jewish refugees from Europe who were displaced following WWII. Marek Edelman, a leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, was bitterly opposed to David Ben-Gurion's decision to declare a Jewish state in 1948 and considered himself a non-Zionist until he died a few years ago In Poland.

      Palestine is a region and denotes neither an Arab nor Jewish identity - just like Montenegro is a region of Yugoslavia that is populated by various ethnic groups. Palestinian-Americans often have Palestinian currency from the 1930s and allude to its trilingual components as proof that Jews and Arabs in the region were treated on an equal basis under the Mandate.

      A professor from Birzeit University in the West Bank published in the 1980s a genealogical history of the Christian clans of the city of Ramallah going back 400 years. Those same families have intermarried for hundreds of years while continuously inhabiting Ramallah. These inhabitants were part of the Ottoman Empire until the end of WWI, and it was after establishment of the British Mandate that the concept of independent Palestinian statehood began to form as an eventual goal.

      In the 1930s Fouad Shatara, a Christian from Ramallah had spearheaded the creation of a Palestinian state at a regional convention where he sought the support of other Arabs in the Middle East also seeking independence from colonial powers.

      There were however influential Jewish interests in the U.S. led politically by Congressman Goldberg from New York that goaded the United States government to support the creation of a Jewish state. The United States was able to use its foreign aid leverage with U.N. member states to get them to vote for the U.N. Partition Plan.

      David Ben-Gurion and a young diplomat named Abba Eban were very skilled in forming relationships with President Truman an U. N. leaders to convince them to support Israel's continued existence. Ben-Gurion presided over the signing of the Israeli declaration of independence ceremony while gunfire could be heard between Arab and Jewish militias outside the building in Tel Aviv. Ben-Gurion's next goal was the obtaining of a nuclear bomb capability with the help of a young Defense Ministry official named Shimon Peres, which he obtained via the establishment of a close diplomatic relationship with French President De Gaulle. By 1967-69, Israel became the sixth nuclear power in the world and became in a position to consolidate their national security from outside aggression.

  • US sent CIA Director as Ambassador to Tehran after CIA overthrew Iran's Democratic gov't (US now Complaining about Hostage-Taker Amb.)
    • Richard Helms received the ambassadorship to Iran in 1973 from Richard Nixon for several reasons:

      (1)he was a college roommate of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi when they studied in Switzerland;

      (2)the Watergate scandal had implicated several former CIA personnel - including E. Howard Hunt, who had been Helms closest aide at one point - and Nixon was anxious to place Helms in an area as far away as possible from the scrutiny of Watergate investigators;

      (3)Nixon wanted to mollify Helms after firing him by giving him a plum position as ambassador to prevent Helms from being cooperative with any Congressional investigations - and this worked as Helms was viewed by many as evasive during Church Committeee hearings.

      Helms was fired by Nixon as CIA director due to his refusal to invoke the "State Secrets Doctrine" to block the criminal investigations and prosecutions arising from the Watergate episode.

      Helms was revered within the Central Intelligence Agency with a cult-like following as the first career intelligence officer to become DCI when he was appointed by LBJ to replace Admiral Raborn in 1966. When he was convicted for being in contempt of Congress, Agency personnel donated the funds to pay for his fine.

      Here is a link to Helms' official CIA career bio:

      link to youtube.com

  • Made Homeless by Israel, defiant Bedouin vow to stay in Jordan Valley
    • The Bedouins, ironically, had historically been allies of the Israeli government and were valued soldiers in the IDF due to their ability as pathfinders. They endured the bulk of casualties defending against Gazan militants prior to the 2005 disengagement.

      Daphni Leef of the J-14 movement in Israel spoke out against their victimization by the Netanyahu government.

  • Top Ten Ways in which it was Actually the Israeli Gov't that Derailed the Peace Talks
    • Inside the Israeli cabinet conference room is a prominent portrait of Herzl - who was an atheist. None of his descendants ever resided in Israel. The most recent leadership of Israel's government's have included people who are descendants of original right-wing elements that founded Israel in the 1940s:

      (A) PM Netanyahu's father was personal secretary to Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism;

      (B)MK Tzipi Livni, a former foreign minister and Mossad employee is the daughter of a former Irgun leader and MK;

      (C)MK Tzachi Hanegbi, a former chair of the Knesset Defense and Foreign Relations Committee and Intelligence Minister is the son of the former operations commander of the Stern Gang;

      (D)Benny Begin, currently a senior figure in the Likud Party and a former MK is the son of former Irgun leader Menachem Begin.

      I could cite many more examples, but the theme is that the violent extremists that founded Israel have had their legacies continue via their children, who continue to control the Israeli government. They have no interest in ceding any land to Palestinians. They wish to perpetuate indefinitely the post-1967 status quo and will continue to do so as long as the U.S. government tolerates it.

  • US: Stop Blocking Palestinian Rights! (HRW)
    • An important aspect of these arguments is that Israel's own human rights organizations, such as Ir Amin, cited in the article, have been vocal opponents of Israeli government policies as violative of international law.

      The ability of the Palestinian Authority to petition the ICC for an investigation of war crimes against the Israeli government is a step in the right direction.

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