General

Murder of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir

As is the practice and policy of Israel, following the confession from 3 out of 6 Israelis arrested over the murder of the Palestinian teen – I would like to ask the question:  Is Israel going to demolish their family homes, and of those who still remain as suspects?

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The Pope Prays in Bethlehem, Lets Graffiti Do the Talking

Shalom Rav

Pope Francis touches the wall that divides Israel from the West Bank in the West Bank city of Bethlehem

In the wake of Pope Francis’ recent visit to Israel/Palestine, many watchers have commented on his unscheduled visit to the separation wall in Bethlehem – and are already referring to the picture taken there as “iconic.”  It is indeed a powerful image: with the Pope leaning his head against the wall in prayer standing next to a young girl holding a Palestinian flag. Emblazoned across the wall, the graffiti pointedly reads, “Pope, we need some 1 to speak about justice” and “Pope, Bethlehem look like the Warsaw ghetto.”

Though the Pope made many stops at both Palestinian and Israeli sites, it is safe to say that his visit to the wall in Bethlehem will provide the most enduring image of the trip. Here we see the Pope praying at a very different kind of “wall.” While Popes and other religious dignitaries have long visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem as…

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America and Axis of Evil to be Allies

There is no doubt in my mind that one referred to as Axis of Evil Iran will be, either direct or indirect, ally of America (and the west).  With growing concern with ISIS and their progress in Iraq – the tone of war towards Iran by America has calmed down.  This may seem like a wise choice by America, to let another dirty neighbor do the dirty work, but on the long run – what role will Iraq play in Shia controlled Iraq?  The problem with America is they simply can’t do a good job of anything.  Iraq is a oil producing nation and so naturally America (and the West) will remain engaged in its politics – but it far easier to control Iraq if a) it is divided and b) if security remains a problem between Shia, Sunni and Kurds – in other words, if they continue to fight themselves then they’ll have no energy or resources to pose a threat to US allies such as Israel.

Makes sense?

 

 

The dividing of Iraq is now in motion.

If I had put up this picture during the early stages of the Iraq war (2003/2004) – you would probably look at it and call it a ‘conspiracy’.  Yet today, this picture brings home the truth, painfully as it might be, that Iraq had been lined up to be divided into three separate states all along.

I have a a few reasons to believe that for Iraq, right now, this is the game being played:

1 – The language of the media has changed.  No longer are they using words such as ‘terrorism’ or ‘Al-Qaeda’ to describe parties in Iraq.

2- Words such as Sunni, Shia and Kurds is being used instead to describe the parties involved in this new conflict.

3- ISIS is a group no one has ever heard of.  In fact it took me a long time to find out what ISIS was short for, and to this group is suddenly making ‘military style’ strides inside Iraq and controlling territory, military hardware and well organized to take on US trained Iraqi military and government begins to sound alarm bells of who is behind them and what is their motive? As in the past, sectarian violence was the preferred method to harm the government.

3- The media such as BBC and their reports have started hinted of ISIS intention to control their occupied territory and making it their permanent state.

As the news unfolds, and ISIS continue to make ground – like always I expect the US and UK (along with their allies) to drag their feet.  It serves in the interest of the west, and more importantly, it makes Middle East more unstable thus easier to control by the west along with their assets.

So, I predict in the next few months, the US/UK begin to talk to ISIS and seek to understand their terms.  Their terms no doubt (as described in the picture above) will be to break a section away of Iraq to be governened and control by Sunni Muslims, leaving northern Iraq to be broken away for the Kurds and remaining part of the Shia Muslims.  US/UK will ensure this is the case and so the new map of Middle East will be born.

Let’s see how it pans out.

 

Israel army shoots 2 Lebanese after Israeli soldier killed

The facts remain unclear at this stage, but recent news on this matter seems to suggest Israel army have retaliated after one of their soldiers was killed hours earlier.

In the past, and I recall similar incidents and escalations in 2010, when Israel army crossed and infiltrated into Lebanon, and of course the exact details were never confirmed or denied but ignored by Israel – the usual “no comment” policy.

After reading a news articles, one interesting piece of information which draws my attention is:

Israeli army spokeswoman Lt. Libby Weiss said Israeli forces identified “suspicious movement” along the border just after midnight, and shot two members of Lebanon’s armed forces. The shooting occurred near where Cohen was killed, she said but had no details on the condition of the Lebanese. [source]

Don’t you find it strange that Israel in one paragraph echo confusion or a contradiction?  First “suspicious movement” is identified.  Shots are then fired, and then that suspicious movement becomes Lebanese Forces.  No exact location is specified and no direct link to indicate if the “suspicious movement” was indeed Lebanese Forces or just couple of cats playing near the border.

Despite the confusion and disinformation surrounding this recent incident, it will be interesting to see how both sides handle this.  We have seen how the situation can deteriorate between both sides in the past and are these recent events a trigger to descend the region into turmoil, again?

 

Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri ‘million man plus’ demonstration turns into a Pakistani-spring

Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri ‘million man plus’ demonstration turns into a mini Pakistani-spring

Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri ‘million man plus’ demonstration turns into a mini Pakistani-spring

Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri ‘million man plus’ demonstration turns into a mini Pakistani-spring

This morning I was up at 6am (UK time) to tune into ARY News, probably the only Pakistani International News station which was reporting, the developments of Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri political challenge to the ruling government of Pakistan and its opposition party.  I followed this demonstration for almost a week now and last night when Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri reached Islamabad and addressed his gatherers – he announced that up until 11am the following day was the deadline for the government to salvage any integrity and to discuss reform with him.

For me, this has been an interesting development and change in politics for Pakistan albeit following it from UK.  Interestingly enough, I was totally surprised how Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri and the Tehreek-e-Minhajul Quran long march had developed ‘possibly’ into a ‘game changer’ for Pakistan and its current weak government – who, according to popular public opinion – have achieved nothing but anarchy at an unimaginable level in its first democratic five years.

The live broadcast from ARY News and its confident and courageous news presenters dotted strategically around the March since it started to this very second showed the power of Pakistani people.  Those very people, who feel betrayed, robbed and oppressed by an elite of political gangsters who have done nothing more than to serve their own interests.

The address this morning, which was scheduled for 11am by Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri but was actually given after 2pm was a true challenge to the current ruling government of Pakistan.  During the address, many technical difficulties were reported live as the authorities deliberately sabotaged the communication around the country and around the world – but that didn’t stop the address.  What was a true turning point in favor of the general public was when the Supreme Court of Pakistan authorised arrest warrants for the Prime Minister of Pakistan Raja Pervez Ashraf and his accomplishes in a pending corruption case.  This saga is ongoing.

What is remarkable to me, and at one point, a commentator echoed exactly what was in my mind was that since the current government of Pakistan has taken office – under the leadership of Asif Ali Zardari – three prime ministers have been appointed and each one removed due to involvement in corruption.  So is there any credibility left for the current PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party)?  Shouldn’t Mr Asif Ali Zardari resign from his post immediately and recall early elections to avoid this country from being destroyed?

Anyway I’d like to see what your view on this whole political change is?

Rabbi Shalom Rav speaks out about Israeli crimes in Palestine-Gaza Strip

The following is what Rabbi Shalom Rav writes – I must admit, although simple language is used it is inspiring and heart warming.

Israel’s military assault on Gaza in 2008-09 represented an important turning point in my own relationship with Israel. I recall experiencing a new and previously unfamiliar feeling of anguish as Israel bombarded the people living in that tiny, besieged strip of land over and over, day after day after day. While I certainly felt a sense of tribal loyalty to the Israelis who withstood Qassam rocket fire from Gaza, I felt a newfound sense of concern and solidarity with Gazans who I believed were experiencing nothing short of oppression during this massive military onslaught.

And now it’s happening again. Only this time I don’t think the term “anguish” quite fits my mindset. Now it’s something much closer to rage.

It’s happening again. Once again 1.7 million people, mostly refugees, who have been living in what amounts to the world’s largest open air prison, are being subjected to a massive military assault at the hands of the world’s most militarized nation, using mostly US-made weapons. And our President is not only looking on – he is defending Israel’s war crimes by saying that Israel had a right to “self-defense in light of the barrage of rocket attacks being launched from Gaza against Israeli civilians.”

Let’s be clear: this tragedy didn’t start with the Qassams.  It didn’t start with the election of Hamas. And it didn’t start with the “instability” that followed Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza.

No, this is just the latest chapter of a much longer saga that began in 1947-48, when scores of Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their cities and villages in the coastal plain and lower Galilee and warehoused in a tiny strip of land on the edge of the Mediterranean. By all accounts, most were simply too overwhelmed to realize what was happening. Some tried to return to their homes and were killed on sight. Others resisted by staging raids in the newly declared state of Israel. Sometimes they succeeded, more often they did not. Either way, Israel decided early on that it would respond to each of these reprisals with a overwhelming military show of force.  And those reprisals and that show of force have essentially been ongoing until this very day.

I realize, of course, there is plenty of political subtext to this latest go-around.  I’ve read the timelines and have formed my own opinions on the latest “who started it?” debate. I’ve also read plenty of analyses by Israeli observers who believe that this was not a response to Qassam fire at all but was very much a “war of choice” waged by an Israeli administration looking to shore up political support in an election season.

I’ve also read a widely circulated article from Ha’aretz about Israel’s recent execution of Ahmed Jabari (the head of Hamas’ military wing). I learned that up until now, Jabari was “Israel’s subcontractor” for security in the Gaza Strip, that Israel has been literally funding Hamas through intermediaries in exchange for peace and quiet on their southern border, and that when Jabari failed to deliver of late, the decision came down to take him out. Another article, written by the Israeli who negotiated with Jabari for the release of Gilad Shalit, revealed that negotiations were still ongoing between Jabari and Israeli officials when Israel assassinated him with a drone strike.

Yes, the wonky side of me has been avidly reading all these analyses. And while I do believe they provide an important counterbalance to the mythic statements by Israel’s Foreign Ministry and the US State Department, the more I read the cynical political subtext for this war, the sicker I get. No, this isn’t about Qassams, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s about elections either. It’s really just the most recent chapter in a much longer litany of injustice – the latest attempt by Israel bring the Palestinian to their knees through the sheer force of their formidable military might.

Of all the analyses I’ve yet read, one of the very few that truly seemed to grasp this truth came from Yousef Munayyer, of The Jerusalem Fund/Palestine Center:

The problem Gaza presents for Israel is that it won’t go away—though Israel would love it if it would. It is a constant reminder of the depopulation of Palestine in 1948, the folly of the 1967 occupation, and the many massacres which have happened since them. It also places the Israelis in an uncomfortable position because it presents a problem (in the form of projectiles) which cannot be solved by force…

Israel has tried assassinating Palestinian leaders for decades but the resistance persists. Israel launched a devastating and brutal war on Gaza from 2008 to 2009 killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, but the resistance persists.

Why, then, would Israel choose to revert to a failed strategy that will undoubtedly only escalate the situation? Because it is far easier for politicians to lie to voters, vilify their adversaries, and tell them ‘we will hit them hard’ than to come clean and say instead, ‘we’ve failed and there is no military solution to this problem.’

Like last time, I know many in the Jewish community will say it is unseemly of me to criticize Israel this way while Israelis live in fear of Qassam fire out of Gaza. I know there are those who believe that by writing these words, I’m turning my back on my own people in their time of need. But I know in my heart that my outrage at Israel’s actions goes hand in hand with compassion for Israelis – particularly those who know that their leaders’ devotion to the sword is leading them into the abyss.

Additionally, as I wrote under tragically similar circumstances in 2009:

I believe Israel’s response to Hamas’ missile attacks have been disproportionate and outrageous. I believe their actions only further endanger the security of  Israelis while inflicting collective punishment and a severe humanitarian crisis upon Gazans. Indeed, just as I cannot understand what it must be like to be a citizen of Sderot, I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like to be a Gazan citizen at the moment, living under constant air attack, with no running water or electricity and dwindling food, as hospitals fill up with wounded and corpses lie rotting in the streets because relief workers are unable to reach them.

When will we be ready to accept that this is not a “balanced” conflict or even a “war” by any reasonable definition – and it never was.  When will we face the painful truth that this is not a story about one side versus the other but about one side oppressing the other?  Frankly, all the well-meaning liberal comments about “praying for peace on both sides” and leave me cold. Worse, I find them insidious because they simply serve to support the myth that this is a conflict between two equal parties. It is not. And peace will not come until we admit this – until we admit that there is an essential injustice at the heart of this tragedy and that try as it might, Israel will never be able to make it go away through the sheer force of its increasingly massive military might.

Beyond the rage, I’m heartened that this time around there is a growing community of conscience that is speaking out publicly and in no uncertain terms to protest Israel’s latest outrage in Gaza. I am so deeply grateful for my friends and colleagues at Jewish Voice for Peace, who is alone in the Jewish world in condemning this latest assault.  I urge you to read JVP’s courageous statement, which I know gives voice to increasing numbers of Jews and non-Jews, young and old, religious and secular, who are coming together through the courage of their convictions.

At this point in my posts I would typically write “click here” to lend your voice to some kind of collective statement.  I’m going resist that temptation and urge you instead to take to the streets.

I’ll see you there.