Writing festivals are often tired, stilted affairs, but the 38th Adelaide Writers’ Week did not promise to be that run-of-the-mill gathering of yawn-inducing, life draining sessions. For one thing, social media vultures and public relations experts, awaiting the next freely explosive remark or unguarded comment, were at hand to stir the pot and exhort cancel culture.
For four days now my old body is fighting the COVID19. In this I had joined some 360 million fellow human beings. I was reluctant to write on this for many reasons including that the experiences of many others is far more poignant. Two faculty members at the university and two close relatives andseveral friends lost their lives already tp this virus. Dozens of friends and relatives also survived it and described the experience to me in detail.
Stella Moris @StellaMoris1), the mother of two of Julian Assange's children, spoke today to a London protest in support of the Palestinian resistance to Israel's recent aggression against the Gaza strip. She told the large crowd how Julian had previously revealed secret communications amongst Senior Israeli officers in their planning of wars against Palestinian men, women and children.
Can Palestine be liberated while the US illegally occupies Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq? Apparently Melbourne's pro-Palestine movement thinks Palestine can be liberated while Syria has much of its territory illegally occupied and US troops also illegally occupy Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Independent and Peaceful Australia Network calls on the Australian Government to stop its support of the Israeli occupation and condemn the theft of Palestinian homes and land by Israel.
The Australian Government cannot pretend it does not have a role in the violence perpetrated by the Israeli military against Palestinians.
The Government has given a substantial amount of money to Israeli weapon manufacturers who supply the occupation, including $1.8 billion worth of Government contracts to Israeli weapon manufacturer Elbit Systems since 2010.
Furthermore, the Government's claim that occupied Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and failure to recognise both the Palestinian State as well as Palestinians' right to self-defence, amounts to support of the illegal occupation of Palestinian land.
Over recent days, we have also seen the Israeli military raid Al-Aqsa Mosque, which may amount to a war crime; kill over 100 people, including 28 children; assist extremists in stealing Palestinian houses; and conduct a ground invasion of Gaza.
Due to these events, the ongoing occupation and, as Humans Rights Watch recently reported, Israel's perpetuation of an Apartheid system, IPAN calls on the Government to:
- Unequivocally condemn the violence against Palestinian protesters
- Call for Israel to immediately stop its occupation of Palestinian territory
- Pursue a policy of diplomacy and non-violence
- Stop awarding contracts to weapon manufacturers who supply the Israeli military
The U.N.'s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva has compiled and released a list of companies which operate in the illegal settlements in the West Bank, which is a chunk of land east of Israel, formerly Palestine, of which Israel took military control in 1967. Israel has encouraged property development in the region and for Jewish settlers to move in, but Palestinians (and most of the international community) consider it illegally occupied Palestinian land. The tragic political impasse between Israel and Palestine has recently been highlighted by property developer and US President Donald Trump's so-called "Deal of the century," involving his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is also a real-estate developer. The 'deal' advocates for Israel further fragmenting what land remains to Palestinians and further reducing their exiguous political rights. Palestinians were not included in the consultation surrounding this 'deal', although they are its object.
"About 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel's occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967. The settlements are widely considered illegal under international law, though Israel has always disputed this. The Palestinians have long called for the removal of the settlements, arguing that their presence on land they claim for a future independent Palestinian state makes it almost impossible to make such a state a reality." (BBC https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-51477231"
The role that property development plays in this and other land-grab conflicts is striking. The materials used in construction are also excellent vehicles for money laundering. Property developers take over many of the roles of government, driving massive immigration, and birth rates where they can, in order to keep up demand and maintain land-price inflation. Property development is often mistaken for a constructive activity, but the reality is that bulldozers trash both nature and democracy, just like tanks. Planning requires strict control by citizens. Putting it in the hands of vested interests destroys self-determination. Australia is the victim of similar land-grabs and erosion of democracy, although at this point, Australians are still free to move within their continent. Australian state governments, Australian property developers, and Israel have and seek mutual investments in property development and population growth engineering. 
List of Companies operating in the illegal settlements in the West Bank, according to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva
Afikim Public Transportation Ltd.
American Israeli Gas Corporation Ltd.
Amir Marketing and Investments in Agriculture Ltd.
Amos Hadar Properties and Investments Ltd.
Ariel Properties Group
Ashtrom Industries Ltd.
Ashtrom Properties Ltd.
Avgol Industries 1953 Ltd.
Bank Hapoalim B.M.
Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M.
Bank of Jerusalem Ltd.
Beit Haarchiv Ltd.
Bezeq, the Israel Telecommunication
C Mer Industries Ltd.
Café Café Israel Ltd.
Cellcom Israel Ltd.
Chish Nofei Israel Ltd.
Citadis Israel Ltd.
Darban Investments Ltd.
Delek Group Ltd.
Dor Alon Energy in Israel 1988 Ltd.
Egged, Israel Transportation Cooperative Society Ltd.
Energix Renewable Energies Ltd.
EPR Systems Ltd.
Expedia Group Inc.
Field Produce Ltd.
Field Produce Marketing Ltd.
First International Bank of Israel Ltd.
Galshan Shvakim Ltd.
General Mills Israel Ltd.
Hadiklaim Israel Date Growers Cooperative Ltd.
Hot Mobile Ltd.
Hot Telecommunications Systems Ltd.
Industrial Buildings Corporation Ltd.
Israel Discount Bank Ltd.
Israel Railways Corporation Ltd.
JC Bamford Excavators Ltd.
Jerusalem Economy Ltd.
Kavim Public Transportation Ltd.
Lipski Installation and Sanitation Ltd.
Matrix IT Ltd.
Mayer Davidov Garages Ltd.
Mekorot Water Company Ltd.
Mercantile Discount Bank Ltd.
Merkavim Transportation Technologies Ltd.
Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd.
Modi’in Ezrachi Group Ltd.
Mordechai Aviv Taasiot Beniyah 1973 Ltd.
Motorola Solutions Israel Ltd.
Municipal Bank Ltd.
Naaman Group Ltd.
Nof Yam Security Ltd.
Ofertex Industries 1997 Ltd.
Bank Otsar Ha-Hayal Ltd.
Partner Communications Company Ltd.
Paz Oil Company Ltd.
Pelephone Communications Ltd.
Proffimat S.R. Ltd.
Rami Levy Chain Stores Hashikma Marketing 2006 Ltd.
Rami Levy Hashikma Marketing Communication Ltd.
Shalgal Food Ltd.
Shapir Engineering and Industry Ltd.
Sonol Israel Ltd.
Tahal Group International B.V.
Unikowsky Maoz Ltd.
Zakai Agricultural Know-how and inputs Ltd.
ZF Development and Construction
ZMH Hammermand Ltd.
Zriha Hlavin Industries Ltd.
Alon Blue Square Israel Ltd.
Altice Europe N.V.
Amnon Mesilot Ltd.
Ashtrom Group Ltd.
Booking Holdings Inc.
Brand Industries Ltd.
Delta Galil Industries Ltd.
eDreams ODIGEO S.A.
Export Investment Company Ltd.
General Mills Inc.
Hamat Group Ltd.
Indorama Ventures P.C.L.
Mayer’s Cars and Trucks Co. Ltd.
Motorola Solutions Inc.
Villar International Ltd.
University of Sydney suspended professor Dr. Tim Anderson from his position as a senior lecturer after he had worked for this university for more than 20 years because of his criticisms of war propaganda against Syria, Iraq and Palestine. Dr.Tim Anderson is the author of the excellent book, "The Dirty War on Syria". This action by Provost Garton is an infringement on academic freedom and on Dr Anderson's human right and freedom of speech. His offence to the establishment is to inform, educate and organise for the end of wars, in which Australia is complicit.
While the ostensible reason for this extreme and totally illegitimate expulsion is because of Tim’s advocacy for Palestinian equality, it’s hard not to see it as motivated mainly by his advocacy for Syria, and as an attempt to suppress the “pro-Assad” point of view.
Perhaps I’m drawing a long bow, but it also seems no coincidence that this week, after barely a mention of Syria since mid-October, suddenly we heard the tired old story of the Caesar photos and the need to somehow get Assad to trial – or rather to be prosecuted for war crimes, as there is no-one suggesting that he didn’t commit them.
Which just means we need to redouble our efforts in support of both Palestine and Syria, as Israel ramps up its military aggression and propaganda on both fronts.
The current atmosphere in Australia is highly anti-Russian and anti-Syrian, while at the same time absolutely nothing is discussed that would offer any perspective; there is only one setting – Assad brutal dictator killing his own people, and Putin the calculating and misleading leader of a pariah state that “carelessly” poisons people it doesn’t like. If a news story doesn’t fit this pattern it’s either forgotten or adjusted to suit.
Incidentally I find it interesting that the graphic under dispute refers to Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza, rather than the most recent attack, or the six months of target practice on the Gaza border by the IOF. I should also say that the point being made is one I always find the most disingenuous claim of Israel and its allies – that Hamas’ rockets are “indiscriminate” – as if it is that which makes them criminal. By comparison the IDF’s precision strikes that intentionally target and obliterate families, TV stations, water pumping stations, schools and ambulances, are “legitimate responses”.
[...]The evidence presented here is only the tip of the iceberg. No doubt that some Palestinians, like some traitorous Iraqis, Syrians and Lebanese, joined the destabilization scheme, but when we get down to the nitty gritty, like most Syrians, most of Syria’s Palestinian citizens back the Syrian Arab Republic, the only Arab nation that has given them a home, supported their righteous cause and treated them as equals. It is shameful beyond shameful that these truths and more were not only ignored but deceptively covered up by “Palestine Solidarity Movement” activists to push a cookie-cutter propaganda line that meshed with the increasingly toothless nature of “solidarity” speak and praxis, not to mention the worldview of their Jewish and Khaleeji “colleagues”. [...] This publication is an extract only from the original article by Jonahtan Azaziah, published 18 April, 2016 at "Meet The Pro-Syria Palestinians That Electronic “Intifada” Will Never Tell You About."
Notable Palestinian supporters of the Syrian Government [Candobetter editorial heading]
~ Anwar Hadi, the spokesman of the PLO, who said from day one of the ungodly crisis in Yarmouk that the blame lies squarely at the feet of the Takfiri rebels, who entered the once-vibrant Syrian-Palestinian camp in massive numbers and committed massacres, chased out civilians and looted homes along with businesses. Electronic “Intifada” and company wrote numerous articles attacking the Syrian government for the humanitarian disaster, like Jabhat al-Nusra, the FSA and ISIS were/are mere daydream-constructs “the regime” and its “Shabiha” brought forth from thin air.
~ The Palestine Liberation Army (PLA), the Syrian Arab Army’s Palestinian branch, which has fought on numerous fronts throughout Syria and offered countless martyrs in the struggle against Daesh and its ideological counterparts.
~ Fatah al-Intifada, a Palestinian Resistance group which has been ultra-active in the ongoing fight to liberate Yarmouk. Many volunteers, like Tayseer Mousa and Waleed Suleiman, left their homes in the Damascus countryside city of Jaramana to defend their brethren. Portraits of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah can be found all over their offices.
~ Liwa Al-Quds, the third most powerful Syrian military force after the Syrian Arab Army and the Hizbullah-trained NDF according to Al-Masdar News. Liwa Al-Quds has been a tremendously key part of the battle for the liberation of Aleppo, particularly the camps of Handarat and Nayrab.
~ The PFLP-GC, led by the indefatigable Ahmad Jibril and known for their strong support of the democratically elected government in Damascus, these warriors have also been fighting in multiple arenas, from the capital to Aleppo to Latakia and elsewhere. They played an important role in the historic liberation of the besieged Shi’a towns Nubl and Al-Zahra, showing that there is a united Syrian-Palestinian-Lebanese-Iraqi-Iranian, Sunni-Shi’a, Muslim-Christian front against the usurping Zionist regime’s Wahhabi vassals.
~ Hizbullah moujahid Ali Fawzi Taha ( Haydar al-Hajj Jawad) from Bourj el-Barajneh. Born to a Palestinian father and a Lebanese mother, Ali was martyred during the liberation of the strategic, ancient city of Al-Quryatayn. He participated in many victories across Syria, including game-changers like Al-Qusayr and Al-Qalamoun. Considering he was a member of the Lebanese Islamic Resistance, the only Arab force to ever drive ‘Israel’ out from sovereign Arab lands, is it not significantly newsworthy that this hero had a Palestinian background?! If only he had been a BDS activist or an Amnesty International “researcher”, then Electronic “Intifada” would’ve assuredly profiled him.
~ Muhammad Rafeh, a beloved Palestinian-Syrian actor from the popular TV show Bab al-Hara and outspoken supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Muhammad had lost family members a year before in the Zionist entity’s massacre of protesters in the occupied Golan Heights on Naksa Day and was also known for his strong stance against the ‘Israeli’ enemy. The FSA kidnapped Muhammad and slaughtered him for standing with the Syrian government; very “revolutionary”, wouldn’t you say?
~ Archbishop Atallah Hanna, Palestine’s highest-ranking Orthodox Christian authority and a fiery, BLISTERING vocal backer of the Syrian Arab Republic. Not only has Theodosios of Sebastia spoken in no uncertain terms about the aggression against Syria being a Zionist plot, but he’s also defended Islam and the importance of Muslim-Christian unity in the face of Takfirism at length. The Archbishop is a true Arab hero and is undoubtedly on the path to sainthood.
~ Samer al-Issawi, Palestine’s most epic hunger striker (277 days) and a living legend in every sense of the phrase; the man’s will is of such an unbreakable nature that it will forever echo in history and forever haunt the Zionist enemy. Samer, whose fam goes way back with both the PFLP and the DFLP, supports the Syrian Arab Republic and stands firmly against the war on this sovereign nation. His steadfast anti-Imperialism only adds to his larger-than-life character. Yet, apart from PFLP and DFLP affiliated media, this fact remains largely unknown.
~ Palestinians across occupied Falasteen, not to mention Syrians throughout the Golan Heights, have protested in full support of the Syrian Arab Republic and Hizbullah on too many occasions to make mention of here. And we’re not talking about minuscule rallies but bright, rowdy, militant, BIG demonstrations with seas of Syrian Arab Republic flags waving and portraits of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad standing tall. Not even one of these events was covered by “Palestine Solidarity Movement” mainstreamers.[...]
[...] Simply put, to defend Palestine today is to defend Syria and vice versa, for as Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah declared years ago, the Syrian Arab Republic is the backbone of the Mouqawamah and only a fool or a traitor would sit idly by as his backbone is being broken. So what category do the “activists” of the “Palestine Solidarity Movement” fall under? Fools? Traitors? Or a lil’ bit of both?
The next really big difference between Palestinians and ISIS is that ISIS is composed of jihadi "foreign fighters" and mercenaries who are in it for the bucks -- and, yes, for the raping and pillaging aspect too. On the other hand, Palestinians have spent the last 65 years protesting against their own enslavement and genocide by a neo-colonialist power with no heart. "If force doesn't work, use more force," is the current policy of Israeli neo-colonialists.
For the past 65 years, Palestinians have been brutalized, robbed and enslaved by Zionist neo-colonialists armed to the teeth with panzer divisions, gestapos, concentration camps, blitzkriegs, chemical weapons and storm troopers. And now Palestinians are fighting back with stones, knives and their bare hands -- just like back when the slave Spartacus finally told the Romans, "Enough!"
"What did you think, the Palestinians would sit still indefinitely?" says Gideon Levy's latest article in Haaretz. "Did you really think Israel would continue on its course and they’d just bow their heads in submission? Jerusalem has become the capital of apartheid. No other city so discriminates and dispossesses or is so violent. Gun-toting Mayor Nir Barkat, who’s largely responsible for the discrimination and dispossession in his city, incites against a third of its population — an unbelievable phenomenon in its own right. And you thought 300,000 people would acquiesce?" http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.680443
"But aren't Palestinians being anti-Semitic?" you might ask me at this point. Yes and no. Yes, there is a Spartacus-like slave rebellion taking place in Jerusalem right now, against a supposedly Jewish state. So on the face of things, this rebellion does actually look kind of anti-Semitic.
But, no, the current Palestinian rebellion isn't anti-Semitic at all -- because the self-styled "Chosen People" master-race wannabees who currently control Israel have poisoned what used to be the shining ideal of a Jewish State and now, under these oligarchs' thumb, Israel has degenerated into just one more dying slave-state carcass whose ideals have been compromised. Israel today is no more a Jewish state than the greedy oligarchs who viciously put down Spartacus's rebellion were supporters of the ideal of a shining Roman democracy.
"But aren't Palestinians all just a bunch of terrorists who go around knifing Israeli soldiers?" you might finally ask me in desperation. Knifing soldiers? Really? You are complaining that Palestinians are now using kitchen knives to defend their families against fully-armored storm troopers and panzer divisions who kill their children, enslave their adults and steal their land? Really?
Hell, Spartacus used a knife to rebel against slavery too. I rest my case.
The only real difference between King Herod in the Bible and Bibi Netanyahu in Tel Aviv today is that Bibi has a much better public-relations team. Does Netanyahu now suffer from buyers' remorse after killing all those babies in Palestine during the past few years? Hardly. Not if he can fix it with propaganda!
After Netanyahu (and the rest of that sleazy neo-colonialist gang who have seized control of Israel) had so much fun blowing up, murdering and/or maiming approximately one thousand Palestinian children in the past two years, Bibi suddenly started to get a bit worried about his current international image as a baby-killer, right? Just look at all the bad press that Herod received after doing the exact same thing! http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/09/18/429769/Israeli-soldiers-Aqsa-mosque-Jerusalem
So Netanyahu got to worrying that he too might go down in history as the 2.0 version of King Herod.
And so he put all his vast propaganda weapons and skills to work in order to dispel all of this latest "anti-Semitic" talk from people who actually objected to babies being maimed, burned alive and killed. "I've got an idea," said one of Bibi's propaganda guys. "How about that we publish a children's book showing Israeli soldiers rescuing abandoned kittens in Gaza?" http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4694647,00.html
And that makes it okay to slaughter a few hundred Palestinian children and maiming over a thousand more?
I guess so.
"By massacring hundreds of children, actual kittens were saved!"
But why the freak were those kitten abandoned in the first place? Because the children who owned them were melted alive by white phosphorus bombs of course. Shame on those thoughtless, bad children!
"But what does all this kitty propaganda have to do with trying to make America great again?" you might ask at this point. That's easy.
So much of American taxpayers' money is being funneled to Israeli neo-colonialists and to the American "war" industry in the Middle East these days that there is hardly any money left to spend here at home on stuff like infrastructure and schools. And all those trillions of dollars spent on bombing other countries, no matter how carefully the cluster-bombs and daisy-cutters and drone strikes are aimed, can only result in killing thousands more babies -- and even, God forbid, also killing more kittens! http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/09/15/obamas-response-to-the-refugee-crisis-regime-change-in-syria/
Americans don't seem to even care that their tax dollars are being used to violently slaughter thousands of children in the Middle East and even all over the world right now, and that their tax dollars have been used to carry out this slaughter of the innocents routinely since the Eisenhower era.
America's rapid return to greatness can only be achieved if America will only just stop killing kittens. Stop killing kittens in Palestine, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen. And stop killing kittens in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia too. Just stop it right now -- if for no other reason than we owe that much to the millions of kitten-followers on YouTube.
PS: Also in heavy competition for the King Herod Award for slaughtering innocents is King Salman, titular head of the infamous House of Saud in Arabia. He is currently fire-bombing, barrel-bombing and neutron-bombing Yemen like it was barbecue time for kittens!
"But why is he doing that?" you might ask. For the oil, of course.
PPS: If you find this article particularly offensive, then please ask yourself why you don't find America's "war" on the world's babies offensive as well -- and then go out and do something to stop all these hideous wars on babies. And kittens.
PPPS: A large part of me wants to be a war correspondent and fight against injustice both at home and abroad -- but some small part of me still just wants to be normal. And the normal part of me has just become addicted to the peanut-butter-creme-filled-sandwich cookies featured at the "Love at First Bite" cupcakery in north Berkeley. http://www.loveatfirstbitebakery.com/index.html
Oh if only the starving children of Syria, Palestine and Yemen now under deadly siege by the American/Saudi/Israeli/Turkish neo-colonial military-industrial complex could have some of these cookies too!
"We do not pretend to tell Syrians what is right for Syria, just as Syria has respected the Palestinian right to liberate Palestine since the time of the Nakba. However, we declare that the enemies of Syria are the enemies of Palestine, and those who bear arms against the Syrian people and the Syrian army – regardless of their names and affiliations – are mere pawns that serve Israel and its project to divide and control the Arab region. The people who abduct, murder and slaughter in Syria are the enemies of the Arab nation, just like Israel, with which they share goals and criminal nature."
Candobetter.net Editor, Sheila Newman: The statement published in full in this article (which the reader may wish to sign) is the result of an international effort by many individuals to try to help stop the destruction of Syria and the creation of more refugees and stateless persons. It supports the Syrian government and expresses solidarity with the Syrian people. It identifies imperialist forces, including Israel, as trying to divide and reconquer the Arab nations. My understanding is that this statement arose in part out of the fact that Syria has resettled many Palestinians where other states refused, but that political opportunism has caused some Palestinian factions to undermine Syria. I am running this statement because it is anti-war and helps to define the position of Syria in contrast to the deforming lens that Australian and other European Press and governments apply continually. I do not support any anti-Jewish sentiment, but I acknowledge Israel's role in this problem, along with the roles of United States, NATO and Australia. Peace.
Statement of Palestinian groups and individuals in the occupied homeland, refugee camps and the diaspora about the global war on Syria
We are Palestinians and Palestinian organizations that declare our solidarity with the Syrian people in their historic struggle for survival, now in its fifth year. We are in a unique position to understand and appreciate the challenges facing our Syrian brothers and sisters, because we face the same challenges.
We understand what it means to have our lands and our property taken by foreign usurpers. We understand what it means for millions of our people to be driven out of their homes and to be unable to return. We understand what it means for our interests and our national rights to become the plaything of the most powerful nations on earth. We understand what it means to suffer and die in defense of our sovereignty and human rights.
We do not pretend to tell Syrians what is right for Syria, just as Syria has respected the Palestinian right to liberate Palestine since the time of the Nakba. However, we declare that the enemies of Syria are the enemies of Palestine, and those who bear arms against the Syrian people and the Syrian army – regardless of their names and affiliations – are mere pawns that serve Israel and its project to divide and control the Arab region. The people who abduct, murder and slaughter in Syria are the enemies of the Arab nation, just like Israel, with which they share goals and criminal nature.
We therefore reject violence and murder against the people and state of Syria, which has nothing to do with any just demands; rather it merely seeks to destroy the Syrian state. Any attack on Syria is an attack on the Arab nation, and a true national opposition is one that commits to its country’s principles and flies its flag, and that doesn’t receive orders from abroad.
The Palestinian and Syrian struggles are not religious struggles. We respect a state that guarantees freedom of religion without preference for any faith over any other. Dividing Arab communities into conflicting sects only serves the Israeli regime and allows it to implement its plots for the region.
While Palestinian refugees have suffered and are suffering in many places, Syria has welcomed them and granted them all the rights of Syrians except the right to vote. We are grateful for this policy of brotherhood/sisterhood and can do no less than to reciprocate with our solidarity for Syria in its time of greatest need. It is the least we can do.
The cynical and genocidal policies of NATO and its proxies in the Middle East have as their main policy to destroy the last remaining independent nations and forces that are not compromised by complicity with Zionist and imperialist forces. These nations and forces wish no harm to others, yet their mere existence is intolerable to Zionism and imperialism. It is our duty to stand with Syria and all nations and movements that resist the intruders and seek an independent course and policy for the benefit and interest of our own people and not to become puppets of foreign powers.
We therefore stand with Syria in its efforts to repel the foreign invaders and the countries that are creating, training, financing, arming and supporting the terrorist groups in Syria. We call for the expulsion of these groups back to their own countries, and for their supporters to devote their resources to improving the lives of their own citizens in their own countries rather than destroying the lives of our citizens in our countries. Like the alien and racist Zionist regime, these criminal countries and their leadership must be prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity for waging illegal wars against sovereign states and peoples, including Palestine, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
More than 1000 Palestinians and Palestinian organizations from across the world have signed this statement, and we now welcome all persons and organizations [whether Palestinian by blood or by heart] to add their names. Just fill in below and submit. Thank you for your support.
Previously published on the PressTVYouTube channelDozens of locals followed the unlikely pet walk to the beach where they gathered round to take photos with the felines. The owner had purchased the two infant lions from a run-down zoo in Gaza at the start of the year. The cat-loving family has been raising the cubs in a three-room apartment with their four children. But what will happen when the cubs grow up? Your comments invited.
Editor's comment: The following three comments were posted YouTube in reponse to the above video:
#10;<p style=" line-height:120="">"Liked" for others to view. Let's hope someone acts and rescues these poor creatures.- offwithtefairies
#10;</blockquote> <p style=" line-height:120="">Your own opinions about the content of this video are welcome. Please post your own views in the comment form below. - Ed
Your own opinions about the content of this video are welcome. Please your own views in the comment form below.
Kennedy, the Lobby and the Bomb (6/9/13) | VoltaireNet. This article, by Laurent Guyénot, first published on Voltaire Net on 2 May 2013, covers critically important historical events which commenced with John F. Kennedy's Presidency (1961-1963) and ended with the 6 Day War of 1967. On 8 June 1967, the fourth day of the Six Day War, even though the United States was an ally of Israel, Israeli warplanes bombed the intelligence ship, the USS Liberty in the Mediterranean Sea and began strafing sailors in the water in an attempt to ensure that there were no survivors. The clear intention was to blame the sinking of the USS Liberty on Egypt and use that as a pretext for the United States to join Israel in its war against Egypt and other Arab nations.
This article is based on a press release dated 9 April 2015 from Ahmed Majdalani of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), published by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) in Damascus. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said any decision about the terrorist-besieged Yarmouk Camp neighborhood will be coordinated with the Syrian government. According to this information, the Syrian government has so far evacuated 12,000 people from Yarmouk (which is a permanent suburb) to temporary shelters in Damascus in order to protect them from ISIS. It is thought that the ISIS attack on Yarmouk may be part of a plot by enemies of the Syrian government to reduce the Palestinian population whom Syria has given a safe home now for years, in order to make the Palestinian 'problem' disappear. Candobetter.net comment: If this were true then the major beneficiaries would be Israel/US and their allies. See Voltaire.net article alleging Mossad involved in these attacks. http://www.voltairenet.org/article177039.html
Terrorists, mostly from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), in cahoots with Jabhat al-Nusra, entered the neighborhood recently and have been committing terror acts against its inhabitants, which include Palestinian refugees and Syrian citizens.
Any future steps to be taken in Yarmouk Camp will be coordinated between Syria and the Palestinians, Member of the PLO Executive Committee Ahmed Majdalani told a press conference on Thursday.
“The decision will be jointly made by the two sides to retake the camp from the obscurantist terrorists who seize it now,” added Majdalani, who is on a visit to Syria.
He stressed that the Syrian leadership has been dealing with the situation in the neighborhood, which is located in southern Damascus city, with a high level of sensitivity given its special status as it symbolically stands as “the capital of Palestinian Diaspora” in terms of its size, the population and the national and historical role it has played for the launch of “the Palestinian revolution of today.”
Stemming from this sensitivity, Majdalani said, there has not been “any Syrian security solution” in order not to look as if there is a Syrian attitude to liquidate the Palestinian cause.
“Nor has there been Palestinian intervention so that it wouldn’t appear as a Palestinian infighting,” he added.
Terrorists have aborted attempted political solutions
Speaking about the options for the coming period, Majdalani said former options of reaching a political solution were aborted by the terrorists and their criminal acts of killing, kidnapping and rape against civilians.
He said, "This leaves us with other options of going for a security solution that takes into consideration the partnership with the Syrian state in view of its sovereignty over its territories.”
He made it clear that the issue is first and foremost in the Syrian state’s hands in terms of preserving the security and stability of the Palestinians and Syrians alike.
About the results of calls made with the Syrian government and Palestinian factions regarding the arising situation, Majdalani said it has been agreed with the Ministry of Social Affairs to secure the requirements of “safe evacuation” for residents who want to leave Yarmouk Camp.
Makeshift residential centers will be secured for those in Qudssaya area, along with garnering the necessary humanitarian and relief support, in addition to the support provided by the Syrian government, he added.
Out of the 17,500 residents who were in the neighborhood before ISIS entered it, approximately 12000 Palestinians have been evacuated in cooperation with the Syrian government.
Over the past two days, Majdalani has met with a number of officials and stressed that implicating the Palestinian refugee camps in the current events in Syria is aimed at attempting to liquidate the Palestinian issue and ending the refugees’ right to return home.
MikoPeled, whose father Mattitya Peled served as a General in the Israeli Army, speaks at a forum in Seattle, in the United States on 9 Oct 2012.
The talk includes a comprehensive explanation of how the Palestinians were progressively expelled from more and more of their homeland since 1947. Myths that depict Israel as merely defending itself from the aggression of Palestinians and neighbouring Arab nations in the wars of 1947 and 1967 are demolished. (The talk is embedded in this article. It can be found on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etXAm-OylQQ .
Editorial comment: The humanity and moral courage of both Miko Peled and his late father Mattiya Peled (pictured, right) can be seen from this broadcast of one hour and eight minutes. Also the knowledge, insight and judgment of Miko Peled are very helpful.
However, I dispute Mattiya's analysis in the following points, which, although not directly related to the question of Israel and Palestine, are nonetheless major issues in their own right:
1. He considers the issue of #iran">Iran as a 'distraction' to the critical issue of justice for Palestine.
2. Just before the end of the talk, he implies that the anti-Vietnam-War protest movement successfully stopped the #vietnam">Vietnam War.
Infowars said its "inside source" listed the following June issues for discussion:
destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities within three years;
prolonging war on Syria by arming anti-Assad elements;
Whilst Palestine remains a critical issue, it has, on a number of occasions in recent months been given focus by the mainstream media in obvious attempts to momentarily divert attention away from its losing campaign of lies in support of the Western imperialists' proxy terrorist war against Syria. This war is aimed ultimately at Iran, Russia and China. So Iran cannot rightly be considered a 'diversion'.
The Vietnam War was not stopped until after horrific devastation was inflicted upon the whole of the Indo-China peninsula by US and allied bombers, warships and ground forces. The real fight to end the war was fought by President John F. Kennedy, murdered in 1963 and his younger brother Bobby Kennedy, who was murdered in 1968 and by Jim Garrison who fought legal battles in New Orleans to unmask the murderers of JFK. Had JFK or his brother lived or had Garrison succeeded, the war would almost certainly have ended by 1969 at the latest.
In reality, the leaders of the anti-Vietnam-War protest movement, failed to support Garrison's investigation into the murder of JFK. Had they done so, Garrison almost certainly would have succeeded. With JFK's killers unmasked, Bobby Kennedy would almost certainly have lived to become US President and been able to end the war by no later than January 1969. Instead, Bobby Kennedy was also murdered and President Nixon, who was elected in his place, continued the ground war and aerial bombardment of Vietnam until 1973. The fighting against the US puppet government of South Vietnam persisted until 1975.
After Vietnam's formal victory in 1975, its economic ruin from the war caused it to be subsequently enslaved to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This has taken away from the Vietnamese people much of what little they were able to gain in 1975.
#fn1" id="fn1">1.#txt1">↑ This article on VoltaireNet is exceptionally helpful and informative. It covers events of the mid-1960's in the Middle East which followed the 1963 murder of JFK. The bombing of the USS Liberty by the Israeli Air Force during the Six Day War of 1967 was raised by a member of Miko Peled's audience in the broadcast embedded above.
On 8 June 1967, the fourth day of the Six Day War, the USS Liberty surveillance vessel was bombed and survivors machine gunned. Only the presence of Soviet Air Force fighters, who witnessed the attack, prevented all the survivors from being killed and the sinking of the USS Liberty then being blamed upon Egypt. This attack was also covered up by President Johnson, who intended to use the false flag sinking of the USS Liberty as a pretext to join Israel's war against Egypt and overthrow the government of Gamal Abdel Nasser.
This also reveals why the Israeli Intelligence agency Mossad almost certainly had a hand in the murder of JFK. As an outspoken supporter of Arab nationalism, particularly the struggle of the Algerian FLN against the French colonialists, from when he was elected to the US Senate in 1952, John F. Kennedy understood the insidious role played by Israel in the Middle East and in thr United States itself.
This article shows it most implausible that JFK was the imperialist war-maker that the likes of Noam Chomsky and the phoney left have attempted to depict him as.
Given that the supporters of the armed insurgency against the Syrian Government of President Bashar al-Assad, namely the governments of United States, Australia, their NATO allies and the Arab dictatorships of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, are the same who waged the illegal wars against Iraq in 1991 and 2003, from which 3.3 million Iraqis died, according to one estimate shouldn't we expect Australia's newsmedia, this time to subject the claims made by these same governments to more scrutiny? Shouldn't the Syrian government, which is being accused by the Western newsmedia of making foreign intervention necessary, at least, be allowed to put its case? Evidently not, judging by the Australian newsmedia's failure to report on the included interview of Bashar Al-Assad conducted by The Sunday Times on 3 March.
Sunday Times: Mr. President your recent offer of political dialogue was qualified with a firm rejection of the very groups you would have to pacify to stop the violence: the armed rebels and the Syrian National Coalition, the main opposition alliance.
So in effect you are only extending an olive branch to the loyal opposition, mostly internal, that renounces the armed struggle, and who effectively recognizes the legitimacy of your leadership, who are you willing to talk to, really?
President Assad: First of all, let me correct some of the misconceptions that have been circulating and that are found in your question in order to make my answer accurate.
Sunday Times: Okay.
President Assad: Firstly, when I announced the plan, I said that it was for those who are interested in dialogue, because you cannot make a plan that is based on dialogue with somebody who does not believe in dialogue. So, I was very clear regarding this.
Secondly, this open dialogue should not be between exclusive groups but between all Syrians of every level. The dialogue is about the future of Syria. We are twenty three million Syrians and all of us have the right to participate in shaping the country’s future. Some may look at it as a dialogue between the government and certain groups in the opposition - whether inside or outside, external or internal -actually this is a very shallow way of looking at the dialogue. It is much more comprehensive. It is about every Syrian and about every aspect of Syrian life. Syria’s future cannot be determined simply by who leads it but by the ambitions and aspirations of all its people.
The other aspect of the dialogue is that it opens the door for militants to surrender their weapons and we have granted many amnesties to facilitate this. This is the only way to make a dialogue with those groups. This has already started, even before the plan, and some have surrendered their weapons and they live now their normal life. But this plan makes the whole process more methodical, announced and clear.
If you want to talk about the opposition, there is another misconception in the West. They put all the entities even if they are not homogeneous in one basket – as if everything against the government is opposition. We have to be clear about this. We have opposition that are political entities and we have armed terrorists. We can engage in dialogue with the opposition but we cannot engage in dialogue with terrorists; we fight terrorism. Another phrase that is often mentioned is the ‘internal opposition inside Syria’ or ‘internal opposition as loyal to the government.’ Opposition groups should be loyal and patriotic to Syria – internal and external opposition is not about the geographic position; it is about their roots, resources and representation. Have these roots been planted in Syria and represent Syrian people and Syrian interests or the interests of foreign government? So, this is how we look at the dialogue, this is how we started and how we are going to continue.
Sunday Times: Most have rejected it, at least if we talk about the opposition externally who are now the body that is being hailed as the opposition and where the entire world is basically behind them. So, most of them have rejected it with the opposition describing your offer as a “waste of time,” and some have said that it is “empty rhetoric” based on lack of trust and which British Secretary William Hague described it as “beyond hypocritical” and the Americans said you were “detached from reality.”
President Assad: I will not comment on what so-called Syrian bodies outside Syria have said. These bodies are not independent. As Syrians, we are independent and we need to respond to independent bodies and this is not the case. So let’s look at the other claims.
Firstly, detached from reality: Syria has been fighting adversaries and foes for two years; you cannot do that if you do not have public support. People will not support you if you are detached from their reality. A recent survey in the UK shows that a good proportion British people want “to keep out of Syria” and they do not believe that the British government should send military supplies to the rebels in Syria.
In spite of this, the British government continues to push the EU to lift its arms embargo on Syria to start arming militants with heavy weapons. That is what I call detached from reality–when you are detached from your own public opinion! And they go further in saying that they want to send “military aid” that they describe as “non-lethal.” The intelligence, communication and financial assistance being provided is very lethal. The events of 11th of September were not committed by lethal aids. It was the application of non-lethal technology and training which caused the atrocities.
The British government wants to send military aid to moderate groups in Syria, knowing all too well that such moderate groups do not exist in Syria; we all know that we are now fighting Al-Qaeda or Jabhat al-Nusra which is an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, and other groups of people indoctrinated with extreme ideologies. This is beyond hypocritical! What is beyond hypocrisy is when you talk about freedom of expression and ban Syrian TV channels from the European broadcasting satellites; when you shed tears for somebody killed in Syria by terrorist acts while preventing the Security Council from issuing a statement denouncing the suicide bombing that happened last week in Damascus, and you were here, where three hundred Syrians were either killed or injured, including women and children - all of them were civilians. Beyond hypocrisy when you preach about human rights and you go into Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and kill hundreds of thousands in illegal wars. Beyond hypocrisy is when you talk about democracy and your closest allies are the worst autocratic regimes in the world that belong to the medieval centuries. This is hypocrisy!
Sunday Times: But you always refer to the people fighting here as terrorists, do you accept that while some are from the Jabhat al-Nusra and those affiliated to Al-Qaeda but there are others such as the FSA or under the umbrella of the FSA? That some of them are the defectors and some of them are just ordinary people who started some of the uprising. These are not terrorists; these are people fighting for what they believe to be the right way at the moment.
President Assad: When we say that we are fighting Al-Qaeda, we mean that the main terrorist group and the most dangerous is Al-Qaeda. I have stated in many interviews and speeches that this is not the only group in Syria. The spectrum ranges from petty criminals, drugs dealers, groups that are killing and kidnapping just for money to mercenaries and militants; these clearly do not have any political agenda or any ideological motivations. The so-called “Free Army” is not an entity as the West would like your readers to believe. It is hundreds of small groups – as defined by international bodies working with Annan and Al-Ibrahimi - there is no entity, there is no leadership, there is no hierarchy; it is a group of different gangs working for different reasons. The Free Syrian Army is just the headline, the umbrella that is used to legitimize these groups.
This does not mean that at the beginning of the conflict there was no spontaneous movement; there were people who wanted to make change in Syria and I have acknowledged that publically many times. That’s why I have said the dialogue is not for the conflict itself; the dialogue is for the future of Syria because many of the groups still wanting change are now against the terrorists. They still oppose the government but they do not carry weapons. Having legitimate needs does not make your weapons legitimate.
Sunday Times: Your 3-staged plan: the first one you speak of is the cessation of violence. Obviously there is the army and the fighters on the other side. Now, within the army you have a hierarchy, so if you want to say cease-fire, there is a commander that can control that, but when you offer cessation of violence or fire how can you assume the same for the rebels when you talk about them being so many groups, fragmented and not under one leadership. So, that’s one of the points of your plan. So, this suggests that this basically an impossible request. You speak of referendum but with so many displaced externally and internally, many of whom are the backbone of the opposition; those displaced at least. So, a referendum without them would not be fair, and the third part is that parliamentary elections and all this hopefully before 2014; it is a very tall list to be achieved before 2014. So, what are really the conditions that you are attaching to the dialogue and to make it happen, and aren’t some of the conditions that you are really suggesting or offering impossible to achieve?
President Assad: That depends on how we look at the situation. First of all, let’s say that the main article in the whole plan is the dialogue; this dialogue will put a timetable for everything and the procedures or details of this plan. The first article in my plan was the cessation of violence. If we cannot stop this violence, how can we achieve the other articles like the referendum and elections and so on? But saying that you cannot stop the violence is not a reason to do nothing. Yes there are many groups as I have said with no leadership, but we know that their real leadership are those countries that are funding and supplying their weapons and armaments - mainly Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
If outside parties genuinely want to help the process they should be pressuring those countries to stop supplying the terrorists. As with any other sovereign state, we will not negotiate with terrorists.
Sunday Times: Critics say real and genuine negotiations may be the cause of your downfall and that of your government or regime, and that you know this, hence you offer practically impossible scenarios for dialogue and negotiations?
President Assad: Actually, I don’t know this, I know the opposite. To be logical and realistic, if this is the case, then these foes, adversaries or opponents should push for the dialogue because in their view it will bring my downfall. But actually they are doing the opposite. They are preventing the so-called ‘opposition bodies outside Syria’ to participate in the dialogue because I think they believe in the opposite; they know that this dialogue will not bring my downfall, but will actually make Syria stronger. This is the first aspect.
The second aspect is that the whole dialogue is about Syria, about terrorism, and about the future of Syria. This is not about positions and personalities. So, they shouldn’t distract people by talking about the dialogue and what it will or will not bring to the President. I did not do it for myself. At the end, this is contradictory; what they say is contradicting what they do.
Sunday Times: You said that if they push for dialogue, it could bring your downfall?
President Assad: No, I said according to what they say if it brings my downfall, why don’t they come to the dialogue? They say that the dialogue will bring the downfall of the President and I am inviting them to the dialogue. Why don’t they then come to the dialogue to bring my downfall? This is self-evident. That’s why I said they are contradicting themselves.
Sunday Times: Mr. President, John Kerry, a man you know well, has started a tour that will take him this week end to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, where he will be talking to them about ways to ‘ease you out.’ In London and Berlin earlier this week, he said that President Assad must go and he also said that one of his first moves is to draft diplomatic proposals to persuade you to give up power. Would you invite him to Damascus for talks? What would you say to him? What is your message to him now given what he said this week and what he plans to say to his allies when he visits them over the weekend? And if possible from your knowledge of him how would you describe Kerry from your knowledge of him in the past?
President Assad: I would rather describe policies rather than describing people. So, it is still early to judge him. It is only a few weeks since he became Secretary of State. First of all, the point that you have mentioned is related to internal Syrian matters or Syrian issue. Any Syrian subject would not be raised with any foreigners. We only discuss it with Syrians within Syria. So, I am not going to discuss it with anyone who is coming from abroad. We have friends and we discuss our issues with friends, we listen to their advice but at the end it is our decision as Syrians to think or to make what’s good for our country.
If anyone wants to ‘genuinely’ – I stress the word genuinely – help Syria and help the cessation of violence in our country, he can do only one thing; he can go to Turkey and sit with Erdogan and tell to him stop smuggling terrorists into Syria, stop sending armaments, stop providing logistical support to those terrorists. He can go to Saudi Arabia and Qatar and tell them stop financing the terrorists in Syria. This is the only thing anyone can do dealing with the external part of our problem, but no one from outside Syria can deal with the internal part of this problem
Sunday Times: So, what is your message to Kerry?
President Assad: It is very clear: to understand what I said now. I mean, not a message to Kerry but to anyone who is talking about the Syrian issue: only Syrian people can tell the President: stay or leave, come or go. I am just saying this clearly in order not to waste the time of others to know where to focus.
Sunday Times: What role if any do you see for Britain in any peace process for Syria? Have there been any informal contacts with the British? What is your reaction to Cameron’s support for the opposition? What would you say if you were sitting with him now, especially that Britain is calling for the arming of the rebels?
President Assad: There is no contact between Syria and Britain for a long time. If we want to talk about the role, you cannot separate the role from the credibility. And we cannot separate the credibility from the history of that country. To be frank, now I am talking to a British journalist and a British audience, to be frank, Britain has played a famously (in our region) an unconstructive role in different issues for decades, some say for centuries. I am telling you now the perception in our region.
The problem with this government is that their shallow and immature rhetoric only highlight this tradition of bullying and hegemony. I am being frank. How can we expect to ask Britain to play a role while it is determined to militarize the problem? How can you ask them to play a role in making the situation better and more stable, how can we expect them to make the violence less while they want to send military supplies to the terrorists and don’t try to ease the dialogue between the Syrians. This is not logical. I think that they are working against us and working against the interest of the UK itself. This government is acting in a naïve, confused and unrealistic manner. If they want to play a role, they have to change this; they have to act in a more reasonable and responsible way, till then we do not expect from an arsonist to be a firefighter!
Sunday Times: In 2011 you said you wouldn’t waste your time talking about the body leading opposition, now we are talking about the external body, in fact you hardly recognized there was such a thing, what changed your mind or views recently? What talks, if any are already going on with the rebels who are a major component and factor in this crisis? Especially given that your Foreign Minister Muallem said earlier this week when he was in Russia that the government is open to talks with the armed opposition can you clarify?
President Assad: Actually, I did not change my mind. Again, this plan is not for them; it is for every Syrian who accepts the dialogue. So, making this initiative is not a change of mind. Secondly, since day one in this crisis nearly two years ago, we have said we are ready for dialogue; nothing has changed. We have a very consistent position towards the dialogue. Some may understand that I changed my mind because I did not recognize the first entity, but then I recognized the second. I recognized neither, more importantly the Syrian people do not recognize them or take them seriously. When you have a product that fails in the market, they withdraw the product, change the name, change the packing and they rerelease it again – but it is still faulty. The first and second bodies are the same products with different packaging. Regarding what our minister said, it is very clear.
Part of the initiative is that we are ready to negotiate with anyone including militants who surrender their arms. We are not going to deal with terrorists who are determined to carry weapons, to terrorize people, to kill civilians, to attack public places or private enterprises and destroy the country.
Sunday Times: Mr. President, the world looks at Syria and sees a country being destroyed, with at least 70,000 killed, more than 3 million displaced and sectarian divisions being deepened. Many people around the world blame you. What do you say to them? Are you to blame for what’s happened in the country you are leading?
President Assad: You have noted those figures as though they were numbers from a spreadsheet. To some players they are being used to push forward their political agenda; unfortunately that is a reality. Regardless of their accuracy, for us Syrians, each one of those numbers represents a Syrian man, woman or child. When you talk about thousands of victims, we see thousands of families who have lost loved ones and who unfortunately will grieve for many years to come. Nobody can feel this pain more than us.
Looking at the issue of political agendas, we have to ask better questions. How were these numbers verified? How many represent foreign fighters? How many were combatants aged between 20 and 30? How many were civilians – innocent women and children? The situation on the ground makes it almost impossible to get accurate answers to these important questions. We all know how death tolls and human casualties have been manipulated in the past to pave the way for humanitarian intervention. The Libyan government recently announced that the death toll before the invasion of Libya was exaggerated; they said five thousand victims from each side while the number was talking at that time of tens of thousands.
The British and the Americans who were physically inside Iraq during the war were unable to provide precise numbers about the victims that have been killed from their invasion. Suddenly, the same sources have very precise numbers about what is happening in Syria! This is ironic; I will tell you very simply that these numbers do not exist in reality; it is part of their virtual reality that they want to create to push forward their agenda for military intervention under the title of humanitarian intervention
Sunday Times: If I may just on this note a little bit. Even if the number is exaggerated and not definitely precise, these are numbers corroborated by Syrian groups, however they are still thousands that were killed. Some are militants but some are civilians. Some are being killed through the military offensive, for example artillery or plane attacks in certain areas. So even if we do not argue the actual number, the same applies, they still blame yourself for those civilians, if you want, that are being killed through the military offensive, do you accept that?
President Assad:Firstly, we cannot talk about the numbers without their names. People who are killed have names. Secondly, why did they die? Where and how were they killed? Who killed them? Armed gangs, terrorist groups, criminals, kidnappers, the army, who?
Sunday Times: It is a mix.
President Assad: It is a mix, but it seems that you are implying that one person is responsible for the current situation and all the human casualties. From day one the situation in Syria has been influenced by military and political dynamics, which are both very fast moving. In such situations you have catalysts and barriers. To assume any one party is responsible for all barriers and another party responsible for all the catalysts is absurd. Too many innocent civilians have died, too many Syrians are suffering. As I have already said nobody is more pained by this than us Syrians, which is why we are pushing for a national dialogue. I’m not in the blame business, but if you are talking of responsibility, then clearly I have a constitutional responsibility to keep Syria and her people safe from terrorists and radical groups.
Sunday Times: What is the role of Al-Qaeda and other jihadists and what threats do they pose to the region and Europe? Are you worried Syria turning into something similar to Chechnya in the past? Are you concerned about the fate of minorities if you were loose this war or of a sectarian war akin to that of Iraq?
President Assad:The role of Al-Qaeda in Syria is like the role of Al-Qaeda anywhere else in this world; killing, beheading, torturing and preventing children from going to school because as you know Al-Qaeda’s ideologies flourish where there is ignorance. Ideologically, they try to infiltrate the society with their dark, extremist ideologies and they are succeeding. If you want to worry about anything in Syria, it is not the ‘minorities.’ This is a very shallow description because Syria is a melting pot of religions, sects, ethnicities and ideologies that collectively make up a homogeneous mixture, irrelevant of the portions or percentages. We should be worrying about the majority of moderate Syrians who, if we do not fight this extremism, could become the minority – at which point Syria will cease to exist.
If you worry about Syria in that sense, you have to worry about the Middle East because we are the last bastion of secularism in the region. If you worry about the Middle East, the whole world should be worried about its stability. This is the reality as we see it.
Sunday Times: How threatening is Al-Qaeda now?
President Assad: Threatening by ideology more than the killing. The killing is dangerous, of course, but what is irreversible is the ideology; that is dangerous and we have been warning of this for many years even before the conflict; we have been dealing with these ideologies since the late seventies. We were the first in the region to deal with such terrorists who have been assuming the mantle of Islam. We have consistently been warning of this, especially in the last decade during the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. The West is only reacting to the situation, not acting. We need to act by dealing with the ideology first. A war on terror without dealing with the ideology will lead you nowhere and will only make things worse. So, it is threatening and it is dangerous, not just to Syria but to the whole region.
Sunday Times: US officials recently, in particular yesterday, are quoted as saying that US decision not to arm rebels could be revised. If this was to happen what in your view will the consequences in Syria and in the region? What is your warning against this? Now, they are talking about directly equipping the rebels with armament vehicles, training and body armaments.
President Assad: You know the crime is not only about the victim and the criminal, but also the accomplice providing support, whether it is moral or logistical support. I have said many times that Syria lies at the fault line geographically, politically, socially and ideologically. So, playing with this fault line will have serious repercussions all over the Middle East. Is the situation better in Libya today? In Mali? In Tunisia? In Egypt? Any intervention will not make things better; it will only make them worse. Europe and the United States and others are going to pay the price sooner or later with the instability in this region; they do not foresee it.
Sunday Times: What is your message to Israel following its air strikes on Syria? Will you retaliate? How will you respond to any future attacks by Israel especially that Israel has said that we will do it again if it has to?
President Assad: Every time Syria did retaliate, but in its own way, not tit for tat. We retaliated in our own way and only the Israelis know what we mean.
Sunday Times: Can you expand?
President Assad: Yes. Retaliation does not mean missile for missile or bullet for bullet. Our own way does not have to be announced; only the Israelis will know what I mean.
Sunday Times: Can you tell us how?
President Assad: We do not announce that.
Sunday Times: I met a seven year old boy in Jordan.
President Assad: A Syrian boy?
Sunday Times: A Syrian boy who had lost an arm and a leg to a missile strike in Herak. Five children in his family had been killed in that explosion. As a father, what can you say to that little boy? Why have so many innocent civilians died in air strikes, army shelling and sometimes, I quote, ‘Shabiha shootings?’
President Assad: What is his name?
Sunday Times: I have his name ... will bring it to you later.
President Assad: As I said every victim in this crisis has a name, every casualty has a family. Like 5 year-old Saber who whilst having breakfast with his family at home lost his leg, his mother and other members of his family. Like 4 year-old Rayan who watched his two brothers slaughtered for taking him to a rally. None of these families have any political affiliations. Children are the most fragile link in any society and unfortunately they often pay the heaviest price in any conflict. As a father of young children, I know the meaning of having a child harmed by something very simple; so what if they are harmed badly or if we lose a child, it is the worst thing any family can face. Whenever you have conflicts, you have these painful stories that affect any society. This is the most important and the strongest incentive for us to fight terrorism. Genuine humanitarians who feel the pain that we feel about our children and our losses should encourage their governments to prevent smuggling armaments and terrorists and to prevent the terrorists from acquiring any military supplies from any country.
Sunday Times: Mr. President, when you lie in bed at night, do you hear the explosions in Damascus? Do you, in common with many other Syrians, worry about the safety of your family? Do you worry that there may come a point where your own safety is in jeopardy?
President Assad: I see it completely differently. Can anybody be safe, or their family be safe, if the country is in danger? In reality NO! If your country is not safe, you cannot be safe. So instead of worrying about yourself and your family, you should be worried about every citizen and every family in your country. So it’s a mutual relationship.
Sunday Times: You’ll know of the international concerns about Syria’s chemical weapons. Would your army ever use them as a last resort against your opponents? Reports suggest they have been moved several times, if so why? Do you share the international concern that they may fall into the hands of Islamist rebels? What is the worst that could happen?
President Assad: Everything that has been referred to in the media or by official rhetoric regarding Syrian chemical weapons is speculation. We have never, and will never, discuss our armaments with anyone. What the world should worry about is chemical materials reaching the hands of terrorists. Video material has already been broadcast showing toxic material being tried on animals with threats to the Syrian people that they will die in the same way. We have shared this material with other countries. This is what the world should be focusing on rather than wasting efforts to create elusive headlines on Syrian chemical weapons to justify any intervention in Syria.
Sunday Times: I know you are not saying whether they are safe or not. There is concern if they are safe or no one can get to them.
President Assad: This is constructive ambiguity. No country will talk about their capabilities.
Sunday Times: A lot has been talked about this as well: what are the roles of Hezbollah, Iran and Russia in the war on the ground? Are you aware of Hezbollah fighters in Syria and what are they doing? What weapons are your allies Iran and Russia supplying? What other support are they providing?
President Assad: The Russian position is very clear regarding armaments - they supply Syria with defensive armaments in line with international law. Hezbollah, Iran and Russia support Syria in her fight against terrorism. Russia has been very constructive, Iran has been very supportive and Hezbollah’s role is to defend Lebanon not Syria. We are a country of 23 million people with a strong National Army and Police Force. We are in no need of foreign fighters to defend our country. What we should be asking is, what about the role of other countries, - Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, the UK, the US, - that support terrorism in Syria directly or indirectly, militarily or politically.
Sunday Times: Mr. President, may I ask you about your own position? Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov recently said that Lakhdar Ibrahimi complained of wanting to see more flexibility from your regime and that while you never seem to say ‘no’ you never seem to say ‘yes’. Do you think that there can be a negotiated settlement while you remain President, which is a lot of people are asking?
President Assad: Do not expect a politician to only say yes or no in the absolute meaning; it is not multiple choice questions to check the correct answer. You can expect from any politician a vision and our vision is very clear. We have a plan and whoever wants to deal with us, can deal with us through our plan. This is very clear in order not to waste time. This question reflects what has been circulating in the Western media about personalizing the problem in Syria and suggesting that the entire conflict is about the president and his future. If this argument is correct, then my departure will stop the fighting. Clearly this is absurd and recent precedents in Libya, Yemen and Egypt bear witness to this. Their motive is to try to evade the crux of the issue, which is dialogue, reform and combating terrorism. The legacy of their interventions in our region have been chaos, destruction and disaster. So, how can they justify any future intervention? They cannot. So, they focus on blaming the president and pushing for his departure; questioning his credibility; is he living in a bubble or not? is he detached from reality or not? So, the focus of the conflict becomes about the president
Sunday Times: Some foreign officials have called for you to stand for war crimes at the International Criminal Court as the person ultimately responsible for the army’s actions? Do you fear prosecution by the ICC? Or the possibility of future prosecution and trial in Syria?
President Assad: Whenever an issue that is related to the UN is raised, you are raising the question of credibility. We all know especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union – for the last twenty years - that the UN and all its organizations are the victims of hegemony instead of being the bastions of justice. They became politicized tools in order to create instability and to attack sovereign countries, which is against the UN’s charter. So, the question that we have to raise now is: are they going to take the American and the British leaders who attacked Iraq in 2003 and claimed more than half a million lives in Iraq, let alone orphans, handicapped and deformed people? Are they going to take the American, British French and others who went to Libya without a UN resolution last year and claimed again hundreds of lives? They are not going to do it. The answer is very clear. You know that sending mercenaries to any country is a war crime according Nuremberg principles and according to the London Charter of 1945. Are they going to put Erdogan in front of this court because he sent mercenaries? Are they going to do the same with the Saudis and the Qataris? If we have answers to these questions, then we can talk about peace organizations and about credibility.
My answer is very brief: when people defend their country, they do not take into consideration anything else.
Sunday Times: Hindsight is a wonderful thing Mr. President. If you could wind the clock back two years would you have handled anything differently? Do you believe that there are things that could or should have been done in another way? What mistakes do you believe have been made by your followers that you would change?
President Assad: You can ask this question to a President if he is the only one responsible for all the context of the event. In our case in Syria, we know there are many external players. So you have to apply hindsight to every player. You have to ask Erdogan, with hindsight would you send terrorists to kill Syrians, would you afford logistical support to them? You should ask the Qatari and Saudis whether in hindsight, would you send money to terrorists and to Al-Qaeda offshoots or any other terrorist organization to kill Syrians? We should ask the same question to the European and American officials, in hindsight would you offer a political umbrella to those terrorists killing innocent civilians in Syria?
In Syria, we took two decisions. The first is to make dialogue; the second is to fight terrorism. If you ask any Syrian, in hindsight would you say no to dialogue and yes to terrorism? I do not think any sane person will agree with you. So I think in hindsight, we started with dialogue and we are going to continue with dialogue. In hindsight, we said we are going to fight terrorism and we are going to continue to fight terrorism.
Sunday Times: Do you ever think about living in exile if it came to that? And would you go abroad if it increases the chances of peace in Syria?
President Assad: Again, it is not about the president. I don’t think any patriotic person or citizen would think of living outside his country.
Sunday Times: You will never leave
President Assad: No patriotic person will think about living outside his country. I am like any other patriotic Syrian.
Sunday Times: How shaken you were you by the bomb that killed some of your most senior generals last summer, including your brother-in-law?
President Assad: You mentioned my brother-in-law but it is not a family affair. When high-ranking officials are being assassinated it is a national affair. Such a crime will make you more determined to fight terrorism. It is not about how you feel, but more about what you do. We are more determined in fighting terrorism.
Sunday Times: Finally, Mr. President, may I ask about my colleague, Marie Colvin, who was killed in the shelling of an opposition media center at Baba Amr on February 22 last year. Was she targeted, as some have suggested, because she condemned the destruction on American and British televisions? Or was she just unlucky? Did you hear about her death at the time and if so what was your reaction?
President Assad: Of course, I heard about the story through the media. When a journalist goes into conflict zones, as you are doing now, to cover a story and convey it to the world, I think this is very courageous work. Every decent person, official or government should support journalists in these efforts because that will help shed light on events on the ground and expose propaganda where it exists. Unfortunately in most conflicts a journalist has paid the ultimate price. It is always sad when a journalist is killed because they are not with either side or even part of the problem, they only want to cover the story. There is a media war on Syria preventing the truth from being told to the outside world.
14 Syrian journalists who have also been killed since the beginning of the crisis and not all of them on the ground. Some have been targeted at home after hours, kidnapped, tortured and then murdered. Others are still missing. More than one Syrian television station has been attacked by terrorists and their bombs. There is currently a ban on the broadcast of Syrian TV channels on European satellite systems. It is also well known how rebels have used journalists for their own interests. There was the case of the British journalist who managed to escape.
Sunday Times: Alex Thompson?
President Assad: Yes. He was lead into a death trap by the terrorists in order to accuse the Syrian Army of his death. That’s why it is important to enter countries legally, to have a visa. This was not the case for Marie Colvin. We don’t know why and it’s not clear. If you enter illegally, you cannot expect the state to be responsible. Contrary to popular belief, since the beginning of the crisis, hundreds of journalists from all over the world, including you, have gained visas to enter Syria and have been reporting freely from inside Syria with no interferences in their work and no barriers to fulfill their missions.
Neighbours Israel and Palestine share long overlapping convoluted histories dating back to the ancient Canaanites, Egyptians, Hittites and Hebrews. Successive wars and empires saw control and power in the region change many times and also the territorial divisions by the conquerors. Might has ruled and been the recurring theme shaping the borders, not unlike other places of human occupation world over.
The Palestinian people are an Arabic-speaking ethnic group of mainly Muslim faith, which have been found to be closely related to Jews and represent modern "descendants of a core population that lived in this Asia Minor area since prehistoric times. The first widespread use of "Palestinian" as an endonym to refer to the nationalist concept of a Palestinian people by the local Arabic-speaking population of Palestine began prior to the outbreak of World War I, and the first demand for national independence was issued by the Syrian-Palestinian Congress on 21 September 1921.
Jewish history of persecution
Jewish history is ancient, emanating from the nearby Fertile Crescent and Canaan and a legacy of migration throughout what was once Asia Minor including Palestine. Since the Roman Empire, Jews have been persecuted, enslaved or forced to flee tyranny. Jews became scattered throughout the Roman Empire which included now Europe, becoming a homeless 'diaspora' (a displaced population sharing a common identity) connected by creed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_history#The_diaspora
From the 16th Century until World War 1, the Ottoman Turks of Asia Minor ruled Palestine.
Out of Europe's French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars and the new wealth of the Industrial Revolution and the colonialism that it fed, by the 19th Century nationalism was sweeping Europe and saw the emergence of 'new imperialism' driven mainly by Britain, France and Germany. "The period is distinguished by an unprecedented pursuit of what has been termed "empire for empire's sake," aggressive competition for overseas territorial acquisitions and the emergence in some colonizing countries of doctrines of racial superiority which purported to explain the unfitness of backward peoples for self-government." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Imperialism
In this nationalistic fervour, Jews, being distinguishable from European cultures (notably by religion, customs, appearance, and work ethic) were not seen as part of the nationalistic ideals and so continued to be outcast. In the face of continuing persecution, the Jewish diaspora increasingly sought a homeland and became more galvanised as an ethnic group.
In 1894, Jewish persecution in Europe culminated in the Dreyfus Affair, in which a French Jewish army captain was falsely convicted of spying for Germany. It became an inciteful anti-Jewish incident where many chanted "Death to the Jews!" This was symptomatic of the growing anti-Jewish sentiment across Europe which saw the emergence of Theodor Herzl, an Austro-Hungarian journalist and Jew. At this time Herzl grew to believe that anti-Semitism could not be defeated or cured, only avoided, and that the only way to avoid it was the establishment of a Jewish state, the tenet for political Zionism.
In Der Judenstaat, Herzl wrote: “The Jewish question persists wherever Jews live in appreciable numbers. Wherever it does not exist, it is brought in together with Jewish immigrants. We are naturally drawn into those places where we are not persecuted, and our appearance there gives rise to persecution. This is the case, and will inevitably be so, everywhere, even in highly civilised countries—see, for instance, France—so long as the Jewish question is not solved on the political level. The unfortunate Jews are now carrying the seeds of anti-Semitism into England; they have already introduced it into America."
Jewish desire for a homeland
In 1897 the first Zionist Congress was held in Basel, Switzerland deciding to establish a national home for Jews in Palestine. Argentina was another proposition, but in 1906 a subsequent Zionist congress returned to the idea that a Jewish homeland should be in Palestine. By 1914 with the outbreak of World War I, Jews in Palestine had steadily increased from 12,000 in 1845 to 85,000.
During the course of World War I (The Great War) commencing in 1915, with the Ottoman Turks of Asia Minor ruling Palestine and it sided with the German central powers. Since this alliance threatened Britain's communications with India via the Suez Canal, besides other strategic interests of the allies, Britain promised the Arabs the independence of Arab lands under Ottoman rule in return for Arab support against Turkey.
In an controversial exchange of letters between British High Commissioner Henry McMahon and Arabian Shareef Husein ibn Ali of Mecca (known as the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence), the Arabs were assured that their assistance would be rewarded by an Arab empire encompassing the entire span between Egypt and Persia, but according to the British version, only west of "Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo" since the British considered the area "to be purely Arab". The Arabs had a different account of the verbal early honourary promises made by McMahon that included Palestine.
Later during the Great War in November 1917 the British government issued the Balfour Declaration to a British Zionist leader from the foreign secretary Arthur J. Balfour promising him the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.
With the help of the Arab Revolt against the Turks, the British defeated the Ottoman forces in the region in 1917-18. Lord Balfour stated at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 that the Allies were committed to Zionism and had no intention of honoring their promises to the Arabs.
Eighty-five years later, in a 2002 interview with The New Statesman, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw observed "A lot of the problems we are having to deal with now, I have to deal with now, are a consequence of our colonial past. .. ..The Balfour Declaration and the contradictory assurances which were being given to Palestinians in private at the same time as they were being given to the Israelis - again, an interesting history for us but not an entirely honourable one."
After WWI, under the 'Palestine Mandate', Britain occupied and administered the Palestine region, which was formalised by the League of Nations in June 1922, continuing until 1948.
Palestine during the next twenty five years came under direct British rule in order to give effect to the Balfour Declaration with the aim of establishing Palestine as the national home of the Jewish people. The mandate was effectively a self-imposed sovereignty by the British over the conquered territory of Palestine. The mandate was a legal and administrative instrument supposed to be achieved without prejudicing the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.
The area of the Mandate was originally 118,000 km2. In 1921, Britain took the 91,000 km2 east of the Jordan River, and created Trans-Jordan (later the Arab country of Jordan) as a new Arab protectorate. In 1923, Britain ceded the Golan Heights (another 1,176 km2 of the Palestine Mandate) to the French Mandate of Syria. The total remaining area of the Mandate for Palestine, after these land deductions, was just under 26,000 km2. The balance of the Mandate, the inhabited part of Palestine, and only the part west of the Jordan, was just 14,000 km2.
Racial violence between Palestinians and Jews grew and culminated with the 1920-21 Arab riots as a consequence of the wave of Jewish immigration and the problematic British administration. Following the ongoing racial tension and an investigation into the riots, the British Government issued an official manifesto, referred to as the White Paper of 1922.
The White Paper stated that Britain stood by the principles of the Balfour Declaration to facilitate a Jewish homeland in Palestine, but did not support a separate nation as a Jewish National Home, only a continuation of the community within the larger Palestine region.
The White Paper stated: "it is contemplated that the status of all citizens of Palestine in the eyes of the law shall be Palestinian, and it has never been intended that they, or any section of them, should possess any other juridical status."
This made British rule of Palestine contradictory and unworkable. Then in July 1922 the British partitioned the area of the Palestine Mandate by excluding the area east of the Jordan River from Jewish settlement. That land, 76% of the original Palestine Mandate land, was renamed Transjordan and was given to the Emir Abdullah to rule.
The 'Arab uprising' of 1936-1939 was followed by the 1939 White Paper that imposed severe restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine. A limit of 75,000 Jewish immigrants was set for the five-year period 1940-1944 and it effectively reversed teh principle of the Balfour Declaration.
During World War II, the persecution of the Jews by Nazi Germany was unprecedented in the Holocaust involving the genocide of approximately six million European Jews under a programme of systematic state-sponsored extermination. Many Jews desperately fled Europe during the war and went to the United States. Many also went to Palestine, despite the British immigration limits there. By 1945 Britain was still limiting Jewish immigration into Palestine.
Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry
After WWII, the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry was set up jointly between Britain and the United States to review the policy on Jewish immigration to Palestine, especially in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust, and to consider the future government of Palestine.
The Committee recommended the immediate admission of 100,000 Jewish refugees from Europe into Palestine. It also recommended that Palestine remain a mandated territory, that facilities be put in place to ensure Jewish migration and that the 1940 Land Act which banned Jews from purchasing land in 95% of Palestine be rescinded.
It recommended the following principles :
I. That Jew shall not dominate Arab and Arab shall not dominate Jew in Palestine.
II. That Palestine shall be neither a Jewish state nor an Arab state.
III. That the form of government ultimately to be established, shall, under international guarantees, fully protect and preserve the interests in the Holy Land of Christendom and of the Moslem and Jewish faiths.
Thus Palestine must ultimately become a state which guards the rights and interests of Moslems, Jews and Christians alike; and accords to the inhabitants, as a whole, the fullest measure of self-government, consistent with the three paramount principles set forth above.
The effect of the Committee’s findings was that the US refused to recognise most of its findings except for supporting the 100,000 refugee intake, which threatened to provoke an Arab uprising. A compromise was reached and from October 1946 1,500 Jews were allowed into Palestine every month.
1947 UN Partition of Palestine
In 1947 Britain decided to transfer the Palestine problem it had created to the United Nations. On 29th November that year, the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine or United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 (II) Future Government of Palestine was adopted. The resolution recommended the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the partition of the territory into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, with the Jerusalem-Bethlehem area being under special international protection, administered by the United Nations.
The resolution also contained a plan for an economic union between the proposed states, and a plan for the protection of religious and minority rights. The resolution sought to address the conflicting objectives and claims to the Mandate territory of two competing nationalist movements, Zionism (Jewish nationalism) and Arab nationalism, as well as to resolve the plight of Jews displaced as a result of the Holocaust.
The resolution called for the withdrawal of British forces and termination of the Mandate by 1 August 1948, and establishment of the new independent states by 1 October 1948. A transitional period under United Nations auspices was to begin with the adoption of the resolution, and lasting until the establishment of the two states.
The proposed plan was accepted by the leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine, through the Jewish Agency. However, the plan was rejected by leaders of the Arab community.
The passing of the UN resolution marked the start of the 1948 civil war in Palestine.
With no plan for a smooth transition of authority to a new administration, Britain announced its intention to unilaterally withdraw from Palestine by 15 May 1948. During their withdrawal, the British refused to hand over territory or authority to any successor. On the day before Britain was to complete its withdrawal, (i.e. 14 May 1948) the Jewish community in Palestine published a Declaration of Independence as the State of Israel, and five Arab armies crossed into the former Mandate as the start of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.
And so we have the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continuing to today, sixty odd years and three generations later.
Edward Cranswick reflects upon the significance of his grandfather's death at Beersheeba on 31 October 2007 where Australian soldiers on horseback charged Turkish position in the struggle for oil which was to destroy the culture of the horse in the 20th century.
While drinking coffee in a local Adelaide cafe one afternoon last year, 31 October 2007, I read in the local paper, The Advertiser, that there was to be a memorial service that evening for the 90th anniversary of
the successful attack of the Australian Light Horse on the Turkish Army in Beersheba, Palestine, on 31 October 1917 during WWI. My maternal grandfather, Thomas Roydon Hogarth, 3rd Light Horse Regiment, was a stretcher bearer who died there at the age of 35 from wounds sustained whilst carrying wounded from the battlefield, and he was posthumously awarded the Military Medal -- consequently, I have always had an interest in the history of conflict in this region. Furthermore, my mother, Mrs. Isobel Hilary Cranswick, née Hogarth, had died six weeks before, leaving me living in her home, the walls of which are covered with photographs of family members or other people I cannot identify. One of the few photographs I know well is that the head and shoulders of my grandfather in half-profile dressed in his Light Horse uniform wearing a Digger hat. The whole question of my family roots has become increasingly important to me since I have learned of and met my Aboriginal cousins on my grandfather's side of the family, and it has become particularly acute with my mother's death, leaving all sorts of unresolved questions related to her birth in 1915 and growing up with her sister and mother and no father. It occurred to me that the memorial service might provide insight into some of these family matters, and
hence, I decided to attend.
I originally went to the memorial service only to listen, but I changed my mind when I encountered about fifty people standing around the War Horse Memorial Trough and Obelisk at the north end of East Terrace, at least half of whom were either wearing military uniforms or wearing medals pinned on to civilian clothes. As I listened to the military chaplain assure us that God had been and was on the side of the Australian troops, I decided I had to say something about my family history and its relationship to the current crisis in the Middle East. Having decided that I would speak, I became nervous and tense at the prospect of doing so. I was standing about five meters (15 feet) away from the chaplain, and at the conclusion of the playing of the pipes and bugle, I loudly said something to the effect:
"My grandfather, Thomas Hogarth, was killed at Beersheba with the Light Horse fighting Muslims for oil. He died then for the King, and now young Australian soldiers are dying for George Bush. Stop the War! Get the Australian troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq!"
Everyone seemed initially surprised by this outburst because there was no response at all for about five seconds, but then three or four men came up to me, one of whom said something about bashing me. Another quite calmly but firmly tried to lead me away, saying that I'd had the opportunity to speak and express my thoughts and that now my presence was no longer needed there. I told him that I had left my bicycle locked up near the monument and so he accompanied me to it -- I suppose he was concerned that the ceremony run smoothly, and hence, he wanted to shield me from participants who might want to confront me. I unlocked my bike and walked off towards Rundle Street, and one of the men said, "Fuckwit" as I walked by, but I repressed my first reaction and said nothing.
I felt very shaken by the whole experience, and walking down Rundle Street, I felt like an outcast from the "tribe". The strength of the tribal feeling that I sensed in the participants in the ceremony was matched by my not feeling a part of it. The archetypal confrontation between the self and society reminded me of the tribalism of the Old Testament. And this triggered my customary paranoia and insecurity about my right to inhabit this land, my right to live in Adelaide, my right to membership in the tribe. But as I thought further about this -- my grandfather was one of 73 men killed or mortally wounded at Beersheba, my parents met whilst both were serving in the Australian Army in New Guinea during WWII -- it became clear to me that whether I like it or not, I am largely a product of the Australian Army.
#ArmenianEarthquake" id="ArmenianEarthquake">1988 Armenian Earthquake and Turkish massacre of Armenians in 1915
I worked as a seismologist for the US Geological Survey (USGS) for 22 years, and in 1988, I was a member of the team of seismologists and seismic engineers that was requested by the Soviet Union to assist in the investigation of the 1988 Armenian Earthquake -- 25,000-50,000 people died there, about 1% of the Armenia population -- the first time the USSR had requested assistance from the US government since WWII. At the time there was a conflict going on between the Soviet republic of Christian Armenia and the adjacent Soviet republic of Muslim Azerbaijan to the west. In particular, Soviet citizens of Armenian descent living in Azerbaijan were being persecuted by some Soviet citizens of Azerbaijani descent, and a few months before the earthquake many of these Armenians had sought refuge with their relatives living in Armenia. This ethnic conflict had some of the elements of the Armenian genocide conducted by the Turks in 1915 during WWI and just prior to the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. It is estimated that more than a million Armenians died in the genocide with the result that the Armenian population of Turkey is now only about 40,000. When I told my Armenian colleagues how my grandfather had died fighting the Turks, they said, "You are our brother!"
A decade later, there was a similarly devastating earthquake in Turkey in 1999, and I went there with the USGS to investigate it. I worked with a Turkish seismologist, and one day when we were talking about our families, I told her that my grandfather had died fighting the Turks. She responded, "It is his fault he was killed! Why was he in Turkey? If he had stayed in Australia, he would not have been killed." Certainly that made me think -- the Turks did not come over the hill and shoot him on the property he managed in South Australia.
Later, she and I spent a night at a tent camp that had been established to house people whose homes had either collapsed in the earthquake or might collapse in an aftershock. That evening about ten of us congregated in a tent for a dinner of cheese, olives, bread, tea and raki, and afterwards we listened to a man play a saz (Turkish guitar-like musical instrument) and sing traditional Turkish folksongs. One song was about a young Turkish woman in Istanbul who laments the death of her young Turkish fiancé -- he had joined the Turkish army and had died fighting the British and the Arabs in Palestine.
#AboriginalDispossession" id="AboriginalDispossession">Dishonouring of British promises to Arabs and Aboriginal dispossession in Australia
It was actually the Arabs, the Palestinians, who were fighting for their native land -- the Turks and the British were both invaders who competed to control Palestine. The British -- as represented by T. E. Lawrence, a.k.a., Lawrence of Arabia -- had recruited the Arabs as allies with the promise that the British would liberate the Arabs fromTurkish rule, but at the same time the British also promised the same land to the Zionists. Three decades later, almost a million Palestinians were dispossessed of their native land by Europeans of Jewish descent who occupied it and built upon it the state of Israel.
My grandfather had two brothers, and they also served and in the Australian Army during WWI (all three listed their occupations as "Station Manager" when they enlisted), but the brothers survived. However, my grandfather's first cousin, Francis Dunbar Warren, did not serve -- he stayed on "his" station property of Finniss Springs near Marree with his Arabuna wife, their children, and her other Aboriginal relatives. Her family had already been dispossessed of their land -- it was not necessary to go to Palestine to dispossess other native people of their land.
My grandfather's family were members of the Hogarth-Warren business partnership that began with the marriage of his aunt, Margaret Hogarth, to John Warren in 1865, and it became one of the largest pastoralist enterprises in South Australia in the late 1800's -- Anna Creek, SA, now the world's largest working cattle station, occupying an area greater than that of Israel, was just one of their properties. The success of the family business was based on the presence and labour of hundreds of Aboriginal people, mostly Arabuna, who worked on the station, starting with the many Aboriginal stockmen who mustered the thousands of cattle and sheep; reciprocally, the Aboriginal people became dependent upon the rations provided by the pastoralists of European descent because the overgrazed land could no longer sustain the native food supply. This mixing of fortunes of the two peoples inevitably led to the mixing of blood, and I have met many of my cousins of Aboriginal descent whose grandfather was Francis Dunbar Warren, a pastoralist who had married the Arabuna mother of his children as formally as was then possible for a black and white to marry in that day. Francis acted to live the best life with those with whom he shared life -- their example is a light from the past that beckons us into the future.
The charge of the Light Horse at Beersheba was one of the last horse races in the race for the oil that destroyed the culture of the horse. Oil abruptly became the most strategic resource in the British Empire just prior to WWI after Churchill realized that ships fuelled by oil could travel significantly faster and more efficiently than those fuelled by coal -- the supremacy of the British Empire was based on the strategic superiority of the Royal Navy. To ensure the critical supply of oil, the British government bought a controlling interest in the company producing oil in Iran, Anglo-Persian Oil (later renamed the British Petroleum Company, i.e., BP), and largely controlled Iran for the next 40 years.The British also took Mesopotamia from the Turks during WWI -- the British army first invaded Baghdad in 1917, and they waged a war of occupation against the Iraqis over the next decade. The British competed with the Russians to control the region between the Mediterranean and India for a century -- a British army of 16,000 was completely obliterated in Kabul by the Afghanistan resistance in 1842.
As British imperial power declined throughout the world after WWII, particularly in the Middle East, it was replaced with American influence. This also includes Australia where America has dispossessed Aboriginal people of their land to build US military bases such as the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap outside of Alice Springs, a satellite-war-fighting base where much of the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan is being waged by American nerds who use satellite imagery to target weapons strikes on men, women, and children. In 2003, George Bush sent the US Army into Iraq to subdue its native population and take control of its mineral resources -- last year, John Howard sent the Australian Army into the Northern Territory for similar reasons.
So if we want to honour and lament our fallen dead, we should be honest in admitting that many died to further European domination of the world, and in doing so, some participated in the genocide of native peoples to steal the land and mineral resources that are the basis of modern industrial society -- a way of life that poisons the health of the Earth. If by some warp of space-time the Australian veterans of WWI were to return directly from their foreign battlefields of last century to the devastated land and drying/dying River Murray of present-day Australia, they might think that some enemy had ravaged the land whilst they were away at war. And with the inexorable process of climate change that we have set in motion, soon they might think that they had come to Hell.
#ReturnOfTheHorse" id="ReturnOfTheHorse">Will exhaustion of oil resources lead to the return of the culture of the horse?
The developing global oil shortage, i.e., Peak Oil, might signal the return of the Light Horse -- we may soon be returning to the ways of transport that existed before fossil fuels raised their ugly heads in human life. Thousands of Aboriginal stockmen on horseback have lost their jobs and their life on their own land as they were replaced by a few men on motor bikes or driving utes and four-wheel-drives who were in turn were replaced by a very few flying small planes around vast properties.
My mother and her older sister, Betty, grew up in Hawthorn, an old suburb of Adelaide, and they shared the one pony they kept in the paddock in the back. Betty was a proficient rider and once tried to teach her younger sister how to jump a horse. After the third time my mother lost her nerve at the last minute and pulled the horse up just before the jump, her sister, sitting on the fence, shouted at her, "Hilary, you'll ruin the horse -- I'll have to take him over the jump myself." Not long after that, upon finishing her nursing certificate, my mother left to travel to Britain where one could read books instead of having to jump horses -- she arrived shortly before the outbreak of WWII and was in London during the bombing of the 1940 Blitz. Betty stayed in Australia, was nearly killed in a fall while out fox hunting on horseback, she was in coma for 8 days, she later worked in the Land Army during the War when women replaced the men on the land, and after she married a man who had a sheep station in the Outback -- they had no children.
I am my mother's only child, and to the best of my knowledge, I am my grandfather's the only surviving issue (I've heard some reports up in the bush about an Aboriginal man called "Tom's son", son of Tom Hogarth -- but that's another story). My grandfather left Australia with the 3rd Light Horse because he was a proficient horseman -- but because he did not want to kill, he walked and carried a stretcher instead of a gun. Thinking of him, perhaps it is time for us to begin to repair the damage we have done.
First ViewI have hesitated to use the word 'genocide' to date because I think often the rhetoric can get very inflated in discussion of this conflict. Inflated rhetoric muddies the waters and prevents clear thinking. (That doesn't mean we shouldn't use words that express our emotions, but these need to be meaningful. Mistaken and over-use of emotive rhetoric devalues the currency of language. Then we don't have words for realities which do exist. People stop listening when the language has lost meaning. And 'genocide' is problematic because of the wide gap in ordinary usage and its meaning in international law.The condition of the people of Gaza is utterly dreadful as the #approachingGenocide">article below shows, far worse than for those in Lebanon, bad though that is. So what other word adequately describes what is now going on in Gaza?The approaching genocide in GazaPalestinians forced to scavenge for food on rubbish dumps
By Patrick Cockburn in Jerusalem
Published: 09 September 2006
The Israeli military and economic siege of Gaza has led to a collapsein Palestinian living conditions and many people only survive bylooking for scraps of food in rubbish dumps, say international aid agencies.
"The pressure and tactics have not resulted in a desire forcompromise," Karen Abuzayd, the head of the UN Relief and WorksAgency is said to have warned. "But rather they have created massdespair, anger and a sense of hopelessness and abandonment."
Israel closed the entry and exit points into the Gaza Strip, home to1.5 million Palestinians, on 25 June and has conducted frequent raidsand bombings that have killed 262 people and wounded 1,200. Thecrisis in Gaza has been largely ignored by the rest of the world,which has been absorbed by the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.
"Women in Gaza tell me they are eating only one meal a day, breadwith tomatoes or cheap vegetables," said Kirstie Campbell of the UN'sWorld Food Programme, which is feeding 235,000 people. She added thatin June, since when the crisis has worsened, some 70 per cent ofpeople in Gaza could not meet their family's food needs. "People areraiding garbage dumps," she said.
Not only do Palestinians in Gaza get little to eat but what food theyhave is eaten cold because of the lack of electricity and money topay for fuel. The Gaza power plant was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in June. In one month alone 4 per cent of Gaza's agriculturalland was destroyed by Israeli bulldozers.
The total closure imposed by Israel, supplemented by deadly raids,
has led to the collapse of the Gazan economy. The 35,000 fishermen
cannot fish because Israeli gunboats will fire on them if they go
more than a few hundred yards from the shore. At the same time the
international boycott of the Hamas government means that there is no
foreign aid to pay Palestinian government employees. The government
used to have a monthly budget of $180-200m, half of which went to pay
165,000 public sector workers. But it now has only $25m a month.
Aid agencies are frustrated by their inability to persuade the worldthat the humanitarian crisis is far worse in Gaza than it is inLebanon. The WFP says: "In contrast to Lebanon, where humanitarianfood aid needs have been essentially met, the growing number of poorin Gaza are living on the bare minimum."
It is possible for foreign journalists to visit Gaza but it is alaborious process passing through the main Israeli checkpoint at Erezand then walking down a long concrete tunnel. The kidnapping of twoFox television employees by criminals - though they were laterreleased - has also dissuaded several TV companies from covering thecrisis.
The total closure imposed by Israel dates from the seizure of CplGilad Shalit by Palestinian militants on 25 June. Between then andthe end of August, Israeli security forces killed 226 Palestinians,54 of them minors, in the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli humanrights organisation B'Tselem. Of these it says that 114 were taking no part in any hostilities.
The quickest way to alleviate the crisis would be for Israel to allowthe Rafah crossing into Egypt to reopen, according to the mayor ofGaza City. But any restoration of the economy would require thereopening of the other crossing points at Erez and Karni.
* Israel lifted its sea blockade of Lebanon yesterday after aninterim maritime task force led by an Italian admiral deployed offthe Lebanese coast, the commander of UN peacekeepers said.
The "Gaza Genocide" article brings a new dimension to your forum, one perhaps not welcomed by all.
I am a Jew, of the proud rather than self-hating variety, having said that I have over the years been abused for being a leftie, opposing war, especially in Iraq and being concerned with human rights issues.
I try hard to view the middle east with as much objectivity as possible, I only wish there were more adherents of Islam with whom I could discuss ideas. It seems always the Jews/Israeli's who monopolise soul-searching.
Like other readers, I have not visited Gaza (except briefly 40 years ago as a civilian) and therefore I read other peoples biased perspectives.
The article you disseminated was composed by a professional Arabist, but ignoring stupid words like "genocide" suggesting the wish to exterminate perhaps half a million people? Many of the facts concerning the suffering of Gazans were correct, they are indeed suffering and the poor are likely to be hungry. In London in the 1960's I used to listen to Moscow English language radio, the news was often similar to the BBC, just some words and inferences altered. The article is of the same kind.
Israel has cracked down hard on Gaza and the suffering and loss of life is undeniable, but please allow me a couple of paragraphs of perspective. Since 1948 the Egyptians, who have either controlled or bordered their brethren, have absolutely refused citizenship or even afforded Gazans entry or travel permits So the simplest solution has gone.
Since Israels (unilateral and overdue) withdrawal from the area ther have been tunnels for armaments, terrorist incursions and regular shelling of Israel. Presumably these acts have been orchestrated by the same "criminal elements" who regularly kidnap westerners, and of course are not connected with the Palestinian Government.
Years ago, before the intafada was organised, most Gazans had a rising standard of living, the majority worked in Israel at high rates of pay. Their exclusion is a direct result of the majority of terrorist murderers in Israel coming in from the Gaza with the workforce.
The cutting of aid to Gaza from Europe and the US is directly resulting from the Government refusing to recognise Israel's existence, I seemed to miss that point in the genocide hysteria, perhaps I mistakenly thought that the Arabs wanted to exterminate Israel.
The Israeli attacks on Gaza are a direct result of cross border raids, kidnapping and shelling of Israel's towns.
I detest war and condemn all parties to conflicts, but before rattling on about genocide, remember the causes of the problem.
I call upon those who disagree with me to offer a solution, as long as it recognises all parties right to exist ... I am sad to note that whilst Israels record is far from perfect, each recent withdrawal has resulted in further attacks in defiance of all commonsense
The only successful peace has been with Egypt and Jordan, where strong Governments signed a peace treaty and have upheld it, so why no genocidal attacks there?
To this simple soul the only end to suffering will be when a government in Gaza takes control,is able to halt terrorist activities and recognises borders. Then the Israelis will clear out and the West will resume aid.
Whether self hating or just hatemongering, there can be no less productive human action.