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  • As 100K Iranians Protest Trump; some thank Americans for defending Muslims
      Unlike George W. Bush, Obama understood the counterproductive effects of harsh rhetoric, calling for regime change, and supporting “democracy promotion” efforts. Therefore, “As Iran’s June 2009 elections grew closer, the Obama administration further toned down the anti-Iranian rhetoric that had defined the later years of the Bush administration. US officials said they didn’t want to allow Khamenei or Ahmadinejad to make the United States an issue during the campaign, which could give political ammunition to Iran’s conservative and hard-line political players….[T]he State Department also rolled back some of the democracy-promotion initiatives that the Bush administration had championed…, such as funding to train Iranian journalists and opposition websites. Khamenei had publicly denounced these programs as attempts to stir a ‘color revolution’ inside Iran, along the lines of those that had broken out in former Soviet states such as Georgia and Ukraine during the Bush administration….The Obama administration, for example, cut funding for the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center…” H/t: link to

  • How ISIL's attacks on Saudi Arabia aimed at Undermining the Monarchy's Legitimacy
    • Prof. Cole, You write that, "The charge sometimes made that Daesh or ISIL is just a form of Wahhabism is incorrect..." However, according to William McCants, "When [ISIS] needed textbooks to distribute to schoolchildren in Raqqa, it printed out copies of Saudi textbooks found online. Unsurprisingly then, most of the Islamic State’s hudud penalties are identical to penalties for the same crimes in Saudi Arabia: death for blasphemy, homosexual acts, treason, and murder; death by stoning for adultery; one hundred lashes for sex out of wedlock; amputation of a hand for stealing; amputation of a hand and foot for bandits who steal…But there are two ways the Islamic State distinguishes itself from Saudi Arabia, which it believes is ruled by apostates. Firstly, the State carries out its penalties in public whereas Saudi Arabia hides them because of international censure….Secondly, The Islamic State goes the extra mile in its penalties. It opts for eighty lashes for drinking and slander rather than leaving it to the judge’s discretion, as in Saudi Arabia. Whereas Saudi Arabia prefers to execute people by beheading, the Islamic State does that and more, [such as] throwing people off buildings…When Muslims raise a hue and cry that [ISIS’s] actions aren’t Islamic, the Islamic State’s jurists cite chapter and verse.”

  • In Fascist Turn, Thousands Demonstrate for Israeli Soldier who shot Dazed Palestinian in Head
    • Large elements of the Jewish Israeli society likewise celebrated Baruch Goldstein and Yigal Amir. The racism is so deep it can only be seen by fewer and fewer. Where are the voices like Yeshayahu Leibowitz's? This prophet predicted that Occupation would lead to a culture of racism that would consume Jewish society. He recognized that "Jewish-Israeli" values were becoming like those of fascist states. In 2009 two rabbis..., Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur, published a book called “The Law of the King.” “The book’s repeated themes are that a Jew’s life is worth more than a gentile’s, and that for a Jew to kill a gentile is a lesser sin than killing another Jew….Indeed, they claim, there is even a basis in religious law to argue that [gentile] children may be intentionally targeted, ‘if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us [Jews].’" link to

  • Israeli security agency exposes 'Jewish terror ring'
    • The “Israeli government does not support or condone settler violence, but it has failed to adequately combat it. Soldiers have been known to look on as violence occurs, and they sometimes do not aggressively seek the perpetrators after the fact.” In contrast, “when Palestinians attack Jews, the Israeli army often puts entire villages under curfew, and perpetrators sometimes have their homes bulldozed.”

      In recent years, “the extreme right wing has made inroads even into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s own party, the Likud, making any opposition to settlement activity a risk for more mainstream Likud politicians.” Settler terrorism “is undoubtedly working. It has made it more difficult for the IDF to govern the West Bank and fractured the settler movement, weakening the influence of the more moderate elements that would accept the legitimacy of the Israeli state even if it committed to another withdrawal.” (Note: The article refers to "settlements" and "illegal settlements". All the settlements are illegal in international law; some of the settlements are illegal even according to Israel's laws.) link to

  • Dear GOP: Top Myths about Syrian Refugees, refuted by Actual Facts
    • Unfortunately, when deceitful politicians have an agenda, fear normally trumps statistics. If statistics truly mattered, then the facts from this informative Terrorism Quiz would be influential: Question 20: What are the Annual Risks for an American to die from: Heart disease? Criminal homicide? Lightning strike? Terrorism?
      Answer: Heart disease: 1 in 300 people in America typically die of heart disease in a given year; Criminal homicide: 1 in 18,000; Lightning strike: 1 in 3,000,000; Terrorism: 1 in 5,293,000. link to

  • Rubio's 7 Fallacies on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
    • Worth noting that many Israeli security professionals share several of your observations. The following is from Prof. Rudolph's Detailed Political Quizzes site: In fall 2014, “In what appears to be the largest-ever joint protest by senior Israeli security personnel, a group of 106 retired generals, Mossad directors and national police commissioners has signed a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging him to ‘initiate a diplomatic process’ based on a regional framework for peace with the Palestinians. Several of the signers [stated] in interviews that Israel had the strength and the means to reach a two-state solution that ‘doesn’t entail a security risk,’ but hadn’t managed to reach an agreement because of ‘weak leadership.’ ‘We’re on a steep slope toward an increasingly polarized society and moral decline, due to the need to keep millions of people under occupation on claims that are presented as security-related,’ reserve Major General Eyal Ben-Reuven [said]. ‘I have no doubt that the prime minister seeks Israel’s welfare, but I think he suffers from some sort of political blindness that drives him to scare himself and us.’” link to

  • Israel's Netanyahu & Iran: Even former Intel Officials think he's Unhinged
    • Convincing! Thanks prof.
      Final proof Netanyahu knows Iran is not an existential threat: If he genuinely believed Iran was an existential threat to Israel (and the world, no less), he would have employed serious bombing of Iran.
      When Begin "genuinely" feared the existential threat of Iraq, he had the Israeli Air Force completely destroy the Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981. Begin was a serious man who deserved to be taken seriously. (He was wrong about Iraq, and a violent terrorist in the pre-state period, but he did not mess around with existential threats.)
      Netanyahu is the culmination of a grossly distorted political system. He, not Iranian leaders, requires the stick, not the carrot, to behave humanely.

  • Enter the Dragon: China offers Iraq Aerial Strikes on ISIL/ Daesh
    • Fascinating fact from the detailedpoliticalquizzes link: “When China had to evacuate 35,000 civilians from Libya in 2011, it had to rely completely on leased ships, ferries, and civilian aircraft from neighboring countries – as it did not have the air or naval capacity to deploy that far and did not possess military base arrangements in the Mediterranean region.”

  • In Rebuke to Israel, French Parliament votes Resolution to Recognize Palestine
    • Juan, is there any meaningful push in France for serious sanctions on Israel? Does France sanction Hamas? Does France leave such decisions to the EU?

  • Israel and Mississippi: Racist Plans for 2nd Class Citizens and Religious Legislation
    • Question 20 of the Ultra-Orthodox Quiz:
      As part of the 1993 Oslo Accords, were the Palestinians required to recognize Israel as a Jewish State?

      No. “[T]he Palestinians have…repeatedly recognised the State of Israel…in the 1993 Oslo Accords (which were based on an Israeli promise to establish a Palestinian state within five years — a promise now shattered) and many times since. [However, beginning in 2011,] Israeli leaders have dramatically and unilaterally moved the goal-posts [by insisting] that Palestinians must recognise Israel as a ‘Jewish State’.”
      link to

  • Americans 64 times more likely to be Murdered than die in Terrorism
    • Question 20 of the "Terrorism Quiz": What are the Annual Risks for an American to die from: Heart disease? Criminal homicide? Lightning strike? Terrorism?

      Answer: Heart disease: 1 in 300 people in America typically die of heart disease in a given year; Criminal homicide: 1 in 18,000; Lightning strike: 1 in 3,000,000; Terrorism: 1 in 5,293,000. (In 2012, according to the U.S. Department of State, 10 US citizens were killed as a result of terrorism; all of them were killed in Afghanistan.) link to

      Perhaps if Americans better understood the risk they face from terrorism — and better understood the relationship of US foreign policy and terrorism — they would fear it less and thus be less susceptible to manipulation by, for example, neoconservative chicken-hawks.

  • Gaza: Why a 'Cease-Fire' is Not enough
    • Michael, much of what you have written is plainly wrong. Your ideas reflect limited reading. For example:
      1. Israel's illegal settlements in the occupied territories have made the occupation illegal. This is not disputed.
      2. Occupied Palestinians can legally resist occupation. This is not disputed. No one but you tried to interpret this to mean that terrorism is legal resistance, it isn't.

      Please provide a scholarly source that justifies Israel's settlements.

      Have you read "Scars of War, Wounds of Peace" by Shlomo Ben Ami or "Lords of the Land" by Zertal and Eldar or "Knowing Too Much" by Norman Finkelstein? It's time to read serious history.

      Don't just read the Jerusalem Post and Dershowitz.

  • Life In Gaza Explained (Video)
    • With respect to rockets from Gaza, we should remember the following information from before Israel broke the June 2008 ceasefire: In a “document entitled ‘The Hamas terror war against Israel,’ The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides striking visual evidence of Hamas’s good faith during the lull. It reproduces two graphs drawn up by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center: [Graphs provided] The graphs show that the total number of rocket and mortar attacks shrank from 245 in June to 26 total for July through October, a reduction of 97 percent.”
      link to

  • The Map: A Palestinian Nation Thwarted & Speaking Truth to Power
    • Great post Juan! I'm glad I make an annual donation.
      Just to add: Removing Arabs in some manner (land purchases, etc.) was at the heart of the Zionist project. Beginning in the 1930s Zionist leaders made preparations for a population transfer, setting up a special committee for the task. They addressed the question of whether the transfer would be forced or voluntary. In the words of Dr. Ruppin (head of the Zionists’ Land Settlement Department and the foremost land expert of the Jewish Agency), “I do not believe in the transfer of an individual. I believe in the transfer of entire villages.” link to

  • Gaza by the Numbers: Who the People are, how They got There
    • A fact I use to help explain the grotesque Occupation: When Israel "withdrew" from Gaza in August 2005, Jews constituted 0.6 per cent of the population (as approximately 8,000 Jewish settlers and 1.5 million Palestinians lived in Gaza); and, Israel and Jewish settlers controlled 25% of the territory, 40% of the arable land and a disproportionate share of the scarce water resources.
      link to

  • Sunni Radicals of ISIS seek showdown with Lebanon's Hizbullah
  • The New 1% isn't just the Rich, it is the Spoiled Oligarch Heirs (Krugman)
    • -For an example of the significance of norms and institutions to inequality, consider that Denmark’s Gini Index was 24.7 in 1992 and 24.8 in 2011(est.) while the US’s respective numbers were 43 and 47. (And, it is important to note, Denmark ranks highly on the Index of Economic Freedom.)
      -In 2010, the Walton family (of Walmart fame) own more wealth ($89.5 billion) than the bottom 40 percent of America (49 million families).
      -Essential reading on US inequality that Juan has posted in the past: link to

  • Why the US needs Electric Cars: Saudi Arabia threatens Pivot away from US
    • You may want to add the following to your understanding (which I have taken from an informative quiz on Saudi Arabia that Juan posted in the past):

      “The ayatollahs’ [1979] revolution in Iran had been a dazzling assertion of Shia power and identity” that challenged the Saud family’s legitimacy. The Saudi royals did not want to suffer the fate of the Shah. The lesson they took away was: the solution to religious upheaval was more religion.

      The Saudi rulers were naturally threatened by Khomeini’s doctrine of rule by the clerics (i.e. rule by Kings was unIslamic). Saudi rulers (along with most Muslims) disagree with Khomeini’s radical doctrine that the ulema (religious scholars) are qualified not simply to advise the ruler, but to exercise government in their own right. The executive power held by Iran’s clerics sets Iran apart from the Muslim world. Saudi leaders argue that from the first caliphs, the secular rulers have always been the executive rulers, while the job of the sheikhs and the mufti has been to give them advice.

      The Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88 “was a…bloody business.…When Iran launched a successful counterassault in…[1983] against Saddam Hussein’s unprovoked invasion of September 1980, the Saudis financed the Iraqi leader as a Sunni Arab ‘brother.’ Saddam was the best available barrier to the scary prospect of the ayatollahs taking power in Baghdad, while the United States backed the Iraqi tyrant as part of Washington’s enduring attempt to gain some redress for the humiliation of the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-81.”
      link to

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