2016 Gaza Corner Archive
Heard live Saturday nights 11pm on Tangents 91.7 FM KALW San Francisco
This weekly feature includes news and opinion from the Middle East (and beyond) often ignored by the mainstream media followed by music from the relevant country or culture.
Gaza Corner was originally conceived to focus attention on relieving the humanitarian crisis in Gaza which has been under a severe blockade imposed by Israel since 2007. Gaza Corner has evolved to include the Middle East, Magreb, Kurdistan and Turkey.
June 25, 2016
Katz: Gaza port would absolve us of responsibility for Gaza
Transport and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz describes the benefit of building a port near Gaza.
Israel may build artificial island off Gaza Strip coast
Environmentalists says plans are 'complete madness' and warn public to be skeptical
June 18, 2016
ISIS abducts 210 Kurdish civilians in Syria’s Aleppo
“They drove young people out of their homes, including men and women, and they moved them away by large trucks. We don’t know where they’ve been taken,” an eyewitness told ARA News, speaking on condition of anonymity. “ISIS fighters left behind the elderly and children."
“Most of the kidnapped were young men and some of them were women. We are concerned about their destiny, as the group may use them as human shields in its battles with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces,” Kurdish lawyer Omran Mansour told ARA News in Aleppo.
The best source for updates on Syrian War and Kurdish news in Rojava (Western Kurdistan): PeterCliffordOnline.com
June 11, 2016
In addition to being a symbol for black nationalists and anti war activists, Muhammad Ali became a symbol of Palestinian solidarity.
Ali leaves behind a legacy of forging ties between black and Palestinian struggles. The Black-Palestinian Solidarity he championed continues to grow, especially between Black Lives Matter and Palestinians living under occupation.
Muhammed Ali in a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon, 1974. (unknown credit)
Millions Mourn The Death Of Muhammad Ali As The Black-Palestinian Solidarity He Championed Continues
‘I declare support for the Palestinian struggle to liberate their homeland and oust the Zionist invaders,’ Muhammad Ali said during a 1974 visit to Palestinian refugee camps in southern Lebanon.
Sometimes he stung like a bee: Muhammad Ali’s uneven ties with the Jews
Ali raged against ‘Zionist control’ and slammed Jewish promoters, but also attended grandson’s bar mitzvah, appealed for Daniel Pearl.
Billy Crystal at Muhammad Ali funeral: I was his Jewish ‘little brother’
Comedian reveals how Ali helped him raise funds for a Hebrew U. peace theater group and quit a sports club that didn’t accept Jews
June 4, 2016
Gaza Corner reflects on 1953's Qibya massacre, a virtually forgotten massacre, up there with the worst of Israel's Palestinian terror attacks.
May 28, 2016
Gaza Corner discusses the "Basement Massacre" by Turkish forces in Cizre. a Kurdish town in SE Turkey. Turkey's military committed mass murder when it deliberately burned to death about 175 people who sought refuge in 3 basements.
This is a war crime that European countries and the US have chosen to ignore for geopolitical reasons. Europe wants Turkey to take in the majority of refugees. The US is reluctant to criticize Turkey because it wants it as an ally in the fight against the Islamic State.
Inside Cizre: Where Turkish forces stand accused of Kurdish massacre
Includes 4 minute video with scenes of devastation and heartbreak in Cizre.
Cizre destruction (photo by Getty Images)
'Unprecedented destruction' of Kurdish city of Cizre
An extensive independent report from the Turkish human rights NGO Mazlumder (pdf file) concludes that Turkish army campaigns in the predominantly Kurdish city of Cizre in the country's far southeast turned the city into a "war zone" where over 200 people were killed during the curfew. More than 10,000 homes were destroyed.
The majority were killed when Turkish security forces stormed three residential basements in which hundreds were sheltering from the fighting. Kadir Kunur, co-mayor of Cizre, told the NGO. "A total of 176 people were massacred altogether in three basements."
The war in southeast Turkey: ‘This country hates the Kurds’
Cizre, originally a city of some 130,000 inhabitants, had been under constant siege since December last year and the clashes between young armed PKK sympathisers and the Turkish army were merciless. Groups of civilians ended up stuck in basements of half destroyed buildings with hardly enough water and food, often injured and without ambulances being permitted to take them to hospital. Kurdish politicians kept in touch with people in the basements and tried to convince the Minister of the Interior to intervene, but to no avail: the basements were set alight. Post-siege videos showed civilians, politicians and journalists in the basements, their faces showing abhorrence at the sight of charred human remains and the smell of decaying flesh.
Alarming' reports of major violations in south-east Turkey – UN rights chief
“Most disturbing of all,” the High Commissioner said, “are the reports quoting witnesses and relatives in Cizre which suggest that more than 100 people were burned to death as they sheltered in three different basements that had been surrounded by security forces.”
Cizre destruction (no photo credit)
Kurds make ends meet in the ruins of Cizre
Article includes 2 minute video
The city has experienced a kind of destruction without parallel in Western Europe since World War II: street after street has been reduced to rubble, houses with holes in their sides the size of articulated lorries, multi-story apartment buildings burned out leaving only hollow shells, the rooms within them now a trichrome scheme of black, grey, and white ash.
Turkish forces accused of 'mass murder' in southeast
Article includes 2 minute video
The Turkish army has been accused of committing "mass murder" in the mainly Kurdish southeastern city of Cizre by the leader of one of the country's major political parties.
Based on the evidence some sort of incendiary device may have been used "because many of the bodies were burned - they were totally unrecognizable they had been burned so badly."
Behind the Barricades of Turkey’s Hidden War
Much of the violence has been hidden from public view by state censorship and military “curfews” — a government word that scarcely conveys the reality of tanks encircling a Kurdish town and drilling it with shellfire for weeks or months on end. The conflict has revived and in some ways exceeded the worst days of the P.K.K.’s war with the Turkish state in the 1990s.
Journalists are strictly barred by the Turkish government from reporting on the insurgency, and even the mildest expression of sympathy for the rebels can earn a prison sentence. As a result, what has happened behind the barricades and under “curfew” has gone largely unreported."
Dore note: This is an in-depth article written by a reporter who was able to avoid Turkish check points and meet with the Kurdish YPS Civil Protection Units in Nusaybin and visit Cizre after the curfew was partially lifted.
Back home after months of fighting, Kurds in Turkey's historic Sur district in Diyarbakir find only debris
Some look for their homes, others for the bodies of relatives as Kurdish civilians are finally allowed to return to devastated neighborhoods in Diyarbakir after months of fighting between the Turkish military and Kurdish Civil Protection Units (YPS).
May 21, 2016
Israelis Will Pay Dearly for Their Prime Minister's Reckless Appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as Defense Minister
Netanyahu has demonstrated that he is prepared to drag the country into a potentially disastrous military adventure, to remove all moral constraints and to encourage blatant racism for the sole purpose of staying in power.
Avigdor Lieberman (photo by Emil Salman)
Israeli PM asks Avigdor Lieberman to be defence minister in shock move
One of Israel’s most outspokenly hawkish and divisive political figures, the ultranationalist politician Avigdor Lieberman, has been offered the post of defence minister.
Lieberman, a former nightclub bouncer from Moldova with little military experience, has advocated for policies including the bombing of Egypt’s Aswan dam, the toppling of the Palestinian Authority, the introduction of the death penalty for terrorism as well as the transfer of Israeli Arabs into the Palestinian territories.
Dore note: Lieberman has also called for the assassination of Hamas leaders and urged the reconquering of the Gaza Strip.
To Preserve His Rule, Netanyahu Willing to Stomach Even His Greatest Political Rival
Even from the perspective of Israeli politics, which have always lacked dignity, morality and ethics, Wednesday's events were among the most insane and unpredictable ever.
Lieberman (“the man who isn’t qualified to be a military analyst,” as Netanyahu put it a few weeks ago), is the ultimate evidence of what Netanyahu really cares about – diminishing and restraining the military brass in an effort to stay in power. To achieve this, all means are justified – risking Israel’s security and undermining the relative, fragile quiet in the volatile West Bank by throwing a lit match named Lieberman into it.
With Lieberman as Defense Minister, Israelis Should Head for the Bomb Shelters
The mere fact of offering Avigdor Lieberman the position of defense minister is the crossing of a red line that has never been crossed. The offer has no legitimacy because Lieberman has no legitimacy. For the first time in Israeli history, fascism is a clear and possibly present danger.
Now the state is in the hands of someone who could destroy it.
May 14, 2016
Times are changing in American politics as bipartisanship on Israel is falling by the wayside. A Pew research survey reveals for the first time that more "liberal Democrats" are sympathetic toward Palestinians than toward Israel.
Gaza Corner music segment features a track from Istanbul based Israeli artist Yinon Muallem's new album "Meeting of Hearts". It is an intercultural project combining works of Turkish Sufi poet Yunus Emre with poets of the Spanish tradition of Judaism.
May 7, 2016
Two prominent Turkish journalists were sentenced to 5+ years for revealing the truth about Turkey's intelligence service (MIT) smuggling weapons into Syria.
Gaza Corner's music segment features two songs by Ferhat Tunç who is a Kurdish singer, human rights activist, writer, and dissident artist.
I revealed the truth about President Erdogan and Syria. For that, he had me jailed.
"When the state’s need for security contradicts the public’s right to information, which carries a higher priority? Can the threat to security be an excuse for government attempts to muzzle the media? When the stamp of “state secret” has turned into a veil concealing the dirty dealings of administrations, is it not the duty of a journalist to tear it away? Who determines what is in the best interests of the society?
As a journalist detained in solitary confinement in a prison in İstanbul, faced with accusations of “espionage”, I have been seeking answers to these questions. My conclusion is that no label of “state secret” and no rationale for “state security” permits a state crime."
April 30, 2016
Gaza Corner previews Middle Eastern flims scheduled May 1-5 at the San Francisco International Film Festival.
I recently screened this outstanding film but unfortunately it played earlier in the festival. However word is it will be independently distributed in the States. Therefore, I will plug this compelling documentary with a most unusual story.
Sonita Alizadeh is an undocumented Afghan refugee who escapes to Tehran after having fled from a close encounter with the Taliban.
She lives at the Tehran Society for the Protection of Working and Street Children. The charismatic Sonita discovers a passion and natural talent for rap music. At the same time she is from a poor family and at constant risk of being sold into marriage under the Afghan "bride price" system. The film exposes the nightmarish patriarchal control that is part of Afghani culture.
Ultimately what makes a good movie or documentary is the story. This story would seem unbelievable but it really occurred.
Winner of both a World Cinema Grand Jury Prize and an Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.
This is a Cinderella like true story is about a New Orleans rest-home caregiver with a sort of secret life writing and singing her own songs, primarily by posting Youtube videos that have virtually no followers.
An Israeli producer/composer who lives in a kibbutz in the Negev Desert creates mash-up versions of songs from scouring Youtube videos. He finds one of her songs, transforms it and the resulting video goes viral. This happens without the artists even knowing they’re part of his projects until they're posted on-line.
Ziad is determined to leave the family pizza business which is a front for criminal activity. Ziad aims to move up Beirut's underworld ladder. He comes up with the idea of smuggling stolen drugs past customs in film-reel canisters. In order to make the scam work, he and has brothers have to put together the semblance of a real movie production and their cover story starts to evolve into a genuine passion project. All of the skills Ziad honed as a criminal turn out to make him a top-notch movie producer.
Suspenseful war film that uses fear of the dark to great effect. There is a no-man’s land between the army and The Taliban where two army soldiers disappear. The Taliban send out a patrol in search of two of their own who have similarly vanished. The only clue to the odd occurrences is a supernatural tale spun by a village teenager. "The no-man’s land is the abyss that imperious Westerners plunge themselves into when they are on soil that doesn’t belong to them."
Described as a shiveringly good ghost story set in a Tehran apartment building in the waning days of the Iran-Iraq War. "It’s a rare and refreshing example of a horror film and political allegory that doesn’t need to spill blood to be truly scary."
The film is set in Tunisia the summer before Tunisia's 2011 Jasmine Revolution. The drama follows an 18-year-old who is a headstrong singer in an underground band who pushes back against her mother’s attempts to control her. The teenager also confronts the government-sanctioned cultural policing and dangers that she faces from the repressive Tunisian regime. The film shows interesting scenes of nightlife in Tunis. As I Open My Eyes provides perspective on the simmering unrest that propelled Tunisians to overthrow President Ben Ali and his corrupt government and spark the Arab Spring.
Billed as a psychological thriller, which recasts modern-day Istanbul as an eerie, dystopian surveillance state where no man, woman or even canine is safe.
Filmed in Jerusalem and shot against the tombstones of Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.
- Abu Ammar Is Coming
- A black-and-white photo of five men in 1980s Lebanon opens a speculative inquiry into the history of Bangladeshi freedom fighters in the PLO.
- My Aleppo
- Story of a young displaced Syrian family living in a cramped Pretoria, South Africa apartment. It examines their heartbreak and guilt when thinking about their beloved Aleppo - one of the oldest cities on earth.The film also shows them Skyping family and friends still living under war conditions in Aleppo.
- Sept-Oct 2015, Cizre
- Turkey unleashed war on the Kurds living in SE Turkey last summer. This 15 minute film focuses on the Kurdish populated town Cizre which is near the Syrian border and has been under siege by the Turkish military. Cell phones provide visual evidence of the aftermath of Turkey's devastating attacks in Cizre - which is still going on - and for the most part blacked out by the mainstream media.
Executive produced by Wim Wenders and Errol Morris (Director of The Fog of War), this documentary is about what the US government doesn’t want you to know about drone warfare by focusing on three veterans whose service experience causes them to question the usage of drones in overseas combat.
The story of Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble, which was originally conceived as a collective of musicians drawn from the Central Asian “Silk Road” countries including regions of China, India, Iran and the Arabian Peninsula. The group eventually broadened to include talents from all over the globe.
As the Oscar®-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville frames it, the Silk Road Ensemble arose out of Yo-Yo Ma’s quest to uncover Leonard Bernstein’s theoretical “universal language of music,” and to identify and cultivate the intersections between cultures where harmony connects disparity.
The film features archival footage from Ma’s career, including his performance as a seven-year-old prodigy in front of President Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline. This documentary includes many of the backstories of the ensemble members: Damascus-born clarinetist Kinan Azmeh (who was interested in working with Dore Stein on a Tangents Syria music tour before the war changed everything); Iranian exile and acclaimed kamancheh player, Kayhan Kalhor; and Wu Man, master of the Chinese stringed instrument. the pipa.
April 23, 2016
UN photo from 2014 of survivors at Yarmouk refugee camp waiting for food distribution.
Clashes between IS, Jabhat al-Nusra spell despair for Yarmouk residents
The fighting that broke out between Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State in Syria's Yarmouk refugee camp two weeks ago is compounding the already dire situation for several thousand families still inside the camp and many more previously displaced to the surrounding areas. The fighting that erupted on April 7 in what was once Syria's largest Palestinian refugee camp has placed several thousand civilians amid the frontline clashes between the two militant groups.
Destruction in the Yarmouk refugee camp (photo credit: AFP/STR)
Yarmouk’s Palestinians in Crossfire as ISIS, al-Nusra Vie for Control
ISIL and Nusra put Yarmouk civilians in line of fire
April 16, 2016
Dore Stein critiques Hilary Clinton's AIPAC speech. Hilary vowed to destroy BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) and worked up the crowd by proclaiming: “Are we prepared to take the US/Israel alliance to the next level?”
BDS’s “South Africa moment”?: As states pass resolutions condemning BDS, it’s more important than ever to fight for Palestinian freedom
April 9, 2016
The Dome of the Rock - the only Muslim site to be included in the new map of the Old City of Jerusalem issued by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism; photo by Moshe Gilad
Official Map of Jerusalem’s Old City Omits Key non-Jewish Sites
Map distributed to visitors features one Muslim site - Dome of the Rock - and dozens of synagogues, yeshivas and Jewish-owned buildings, many of which local tour guides have never heard of.
Israel’s constant attempts to turn Jerusalem into an exclusively Jewish city have taken another blatant turn
A map of the Old City of Jerusalem issued by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism attempts to reinforce their twisted narrative by trying to deny the physical reality of Jerusalem.
The map underreports Christian and Muslim sites while overexaggerating Jewish locations. Of the 57 sites on the map, only one Muslim site and five Christian sites are identified.
April 2, 2016
Hanin Zoabi being removed from the podium at the Knesset, Feb 8, 2016 (photo br Emil Salman)
Silencing Arab members of the Knesset would be a new low for Israeli democracy
MKs could find themselves suspended for having minority views, under a bill that doesn’t conform to the most basic principles of a democratic society.
Dr. Yousef Jabareen is a member of Knesset and a law lecturer.
“Suspension Law,” Aimed at Arab Members, Passes Knesset Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni called the law “intolerable,” and predicated on “hatred and fear.”
“We must not transform the Knesset into a courtroom,” said Yesh Atid MK Yaakov Peri, a former head of the Shin Bet, adding that “Israel has a clear interest in the Arab community participating in the Knesset.”
Israel gives preliminary approval to controversial bill that could suspend Palestinian-Israeli lawmakers
The Knesset passed the first reading of a bill aimed at elected Palestinian-Israeli lawmakers that will see them suspended indefinitely for dissent.
Last month, three Palestinian MKs were suspended from speaking in the Knesset as a "punishment" for supporting the families of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces and whose bodies remained with Israeli authorities.
The Knesset's Latest Attempt to Disenfranchise Israeli Arabs
The bill by which lawmakers could be suspended from the Knesset is another phase in the Knesset’s years-long efforts to eject Arab MKs who support the Palestinian struggle against the occupation.
Knesset Attempting to Throw Out Its Arab Members
This means that – unless the Supreme Court declares this bill unconstitutional – the Knesset will soon be Araber-rein, free from Arabs. A purely Jewish Knesset for a purely Jewish state.
THIS WOULD be a disaster for Israel.
March 26, 2016
Dore Stein(berg) speaks out against UC Regents inclusion of anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism at 3/23/16 hearing
U of California Board Approves Intolerance Statement
The University of California's full Board of Regents voted Thursday, March 24, to endorse a controversial statement against intolerance that condemns anti-Semitism, including "some forms of anti-Zionism."
Jewish groups say this is an important step toward halting the anti-Semitism they say is growing on UC campuses, whereas others warn these principles, which do not specify which forms of anti-Zionism are anti-Semitic, may inhibit free speech on campus.
Suppressing criticism of Zionism on campus is catastrophic censorship
"The report is merely the latest manifestation of a well-funded and increasingly desperate — even panicky — political campaign to eradicate criticism of Israeli policy from American campuses."
March 19, 2016
The Greatest Threat to Campus Free Speech is Coming From Dianne Feinstein and her Military-Contractor Husband
March 12, 2016
The first in-depth study of religion in Israel conducted by the Pew Research Center in Washington found that religious and social divisions are reflected in “starkly contrasting positions on many public policy questions.,”
“These groups live in the same country, a small country, but it’s almost like they live in different worlds,” said Alan Cooperman, Pew’s director of religion research.
“All societies have various kinds of fractures and divisions,” he said, “but the size of the fractures in Israel, from a pollster’s point of view, are jaw-dropping.”
While 89 percent of Israel’s secular Jews, who make up 40 percent of the population, think democratic principles should take precedence over Jewish law on issues where the two collide, 89 percent of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jews, a smaller but fast-growing group, think the opposite.
The study found substantial differences among Israeli Jews on crucial questions. Even among self-identified centrists, opinion was split three ways on the issue of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Over all, a third believed the settlements hurt Israel’s security, a third thought they helped security and the remainder said they made no difference.
One alarming finding was that nearly half of Israeli Jews surveyed said that Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel.
One thing most Israeli Jews agreed on is that 76 percent of Israeli Jews believe Israel can be both a Jewish state and a democracy.
Dore note: This implies that either a majority of Israeli Jews believe democracy is compatible with unequal laws for its citizens or that 3/4 of Israeli Jews are blind to the unequal laws for Israeli Jews and Palestinians, within both Israel and the Occupied Territories.
The new study follows a major Pew survey of American Jews published in 2013 that found a significant rise in those who are not religious, marry outside the faith and are not raising their children Jewish, resulting in rapid assimilation in every branch of Judaism except Orthodox.
The new studhy also found that overwhelming majorities among both West Bank settlers (85 percent) and other Israeli Jews (79 percent) agreed or strongly agreed that Jews deserve preferential treatment in Israel.
Dore note: How can the above finding be aligned with the principles of democracy?
According to the poll, about eight in 10 Palestinian citizens of Israel believe there is heavy discrimination in Israeli society against Muslims, the biggest of the religious minorities, while a vast majority of Jewish respondents (74 percent) said they did not see such discrimination.
Dore note: When I was in Israel last October, I was stunned to learn that none of the Israeli Jews I spoke to had met a Palestinian. Outside of Jaffa and Haifa, Israel is a segregated country. In this context the above Pew finding about differing pespectives on discrimination is better understood.
Palestinians comprise approximately 20 percent of Israel's population of more than eight million people.
President Rivlin urges ‘soul-searching’ over poll showing support for Arab transfer
Rivlin: "It’s ‘unconscionable’ for Jewish citizens to think democracy only applies to them"
Arab MK: "Findings should keep Israelis up at night"
March 5, 2016
courtesy of Palestine Advocacy Project
Words of Palestine’s national poet on San Francisco buses
If you ride on San Francisco’s Muni buses or light rail cars this month, you might pass the time contemplating the words of the late Mahmoud Darwish, often described as Palestine’s national poet. Throughout March, the nonprofit Palestine Advocacy Project is running ads on the public transportation system featuring selections of Darwish’s poetry. The posters also feature images of everyday life in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. The group creates “public media and education campaigns that expose Americans to the Palestinian struggle and advocate for an end to Israeli human rights abuses.”
Supreme Court declines to hear case over controversial ads on Boston's MBTA
The MBTA decided it would no longer accept advertisements about political or social issues, saying the moratorium did not violate the First Amendment.
New York MTA fights to prevent provocative anti-Islam ads
A series of provocative anti-Islam advertisements has embroiled New York City’s transportation authority in a free speech legal battle after a pro-Israel political group filed a federal lawsuit to force the city to include a rejected phrase in one of its controversial ads.
The group, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, launched in 2010 by blogger Pamela Geller, proposed an ad that displayed the quote, “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah.” The quote is displayed next to the head of a sinister-looking face wrapped in an Arab keffiyeh scarf, and also includes, “That’s #MyJihad. What’s yours?”
“These ads are outrageous, inflammatory and wrong, and have no place in New York City, or anywhere,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
February 27, 2016
SeaMac billboard in Chicago
Lamar Advertising censors ‘Boycott Israel’ billboard in Chicago
HELP SEAMAC BRING THE TRUTH TO PEOPLE ACROSS THE COUNTRY
More and more people are coming to understand that Israel is an apartheid state that commits ongoing crimes against Palestinians. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is making significant progress even while Israel and the U.S. try to outlaw it. Palestinians living under Israel’s military occupation and apartheid regime are increasingly desperate, with an extreme right-wing government taking control of Israel while a generation of traumatized children in Gaza try to survive without medicines, clean water or proper nutrition.
SeaMAC’s bus ads and billboards use the fewest possible words and compelling graphics to reach people who might not read a book on this topic or attend a presentation or a film. Our neighbors everywhere are bombarded with falsehoods and stereotypes about Palestinians and Israel, and everywhere there are efforts to blockade our facts and information. SeaMAC uses mainstream advertising to break through and show our neighbors everywhere that people like themselves care deeply about justice and equal rights for Palestinians.
Anti-BDS Laws Pick Up Steam — But Do Some Go Too Far?
excerpt:Nearly half the states in the country are considering legislation aimed at countering the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement. But critics say some bills are cause for concern, either because they seek to confer legitimacy on Israeli settlements or go so far in punishing boycott supporters they infringe on constitutionally protected speech.
February 20, 2016
Here, a hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders near Maaret al-Numan believed to have been hit in a Russian airstrike. Putin is now the most powerful man in Damascus and he appears to be following a strategy similar to the one he once employed in Chechnya: destroy everything until there are no more people left, there is no more resistance and no political alternative. (AFP)
The War of Western Failures: Hopes for Syria Fall with Aleppo
Russia has seized on the Syrian civil war to expose an impotent West and show its own geopolitical muscle. The West has been observing the consequential brutality of Putin's new foreign policy strategy with a mixture of awe, indignation and horror. The price of Western passivity is the endless suffering of people in Syria, the strengthening of Putin, divisions in Europe and the rise of the extremists.
While Obama has maintained there can only be a political solution to the war, the reality on the ground is there could very well be a military solution for Syria: the victory of Assad achieved with the help of Russian bombs and Syrian and Iranian ground troops.
The war has long since ceased being solely about Syria. The country has become Ground Zero of global geopolitics, an unholy mixture of Russia's desired return to superpower status, an increasingly authoritarian Turkey, tentative US foreign policy, the Kurdish conflict, the arch-rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Islamist terror and the inability of a divided, crisis-ridden EU to do much of anything.
The greatest risk right now, though, is that of a direct confrontation between Turkey and Russia.
As Russian planes decimate Aleppo, and hundreds of thousands of civilians in Syria’s largest city prepare for encirclement, blockade and siege — and for the starvation and the barbarity that will inevitably follow — it is time to proclaim the moral bankruptcy of American and Western policy in Syria.
It is time for those who care about the moral standing of the United States to say that this policy is shameful. If the United States and its NATO allies allow their inglorious new partners to encircle and starve the people of Aleppo, they will be complicit in crimes of war.
February 13, 2016
Bernie Sanders and the question of Palestine
At a March 1988 news conference Bernie Sanders blasted Israel’s brutal treatment of Palestinian protesters as “an absolute disgrace.” “The sight of Israeli soldiers breaking the arms and legs of Arabs is reprehensible. The idea of Israel closing down towns and sealing them off is unacceptable,” said the then mayor of Burlington, Vermont.
Sanders was referring to the television images in those early months of the first intifada, of Israeli soldiers methodically breaking the limbs of Palestinian youths on the orders of then defense minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Sanders went so far as to suggest that the US use the “clout” that its billions in military aid to Israel and its neighbors gave it to force a change in behavior, “or else you begin to cut off arms.”
This was a bold appeal for any elected official in the United States both then and now.
Fast forward to August 2014 and the Vermont senator struck a very different tone, angrily shouting at his constituents as they challenged his defense of Israel’s killing rampage in the Gaza Strip that summer.
“You have a situation where Hamas is sending missiles into Israel … from populated areas,” Sanders said, deploying standard Israeli government talking points.
A year later, Palestine solidarity activists were thrown out of a Sanders campaign rally in Boston and threatened with arrest for bringing a sign that read, “Will ya #FeelTheBern 4 Palestine?”
The issue of Palestine has been virtually absent from the Democratic party debate. In an attempt to halt the momentum of voters flocking to Sanders’ populist demands for economic equality, Clinton has employed neoconservative anti-Iran talking points that frame the Vermont senator as dangerous for Israel.
It marks one of the few moments in which Israel has been mentioned at all during the Democratic primary campaign.
It is therefore worth examining his record on Palestine and the Israel, how his views have shifted and what we might expect from him as he attempts to broaden his appeal.
A review of Sanders’ record suggests that the changes in his views are rooted in political expediency rather than ideological commitment.
During a 1988 news conference Sanders said “You have the ability, when you have the United States of America, which is supporting the armies of the Middle East, to demand these people work out a reasonable settlement, protecting the rights of the Palestinians, protecting the rights of Israel,” Sanders said.
Later that same year, as he ran for a congressional seat, Sanders stuck to his position.
“The policy that Israelis shoot people is unacceptable. It is wrong that the United States provides arms to Israel,” Sanders told students at the University of Vermont. “We are not going to be the arms merchant for Middle Eastern nations.”
When questioned in 2015 about those statements from nearly three decades earlier, campaign spokesperson Michael Briggs claimed “He didn’t call military aid to Israel wrong, Bernie does not and has not ever supported cutting off arms to Israel and that has never been his position.”
Briggs’ attempt to revise history is contradicted by Sanders’ clear statements at the videotaped 1988 press conference. (see 16:24 mark)
February 6, 2016
Turkey's Hidden Humanitarian Crisis
Kurdish human rights organisations say fighting across southeastern Turkey has displaced 200,000 people in the last two months alone. At least 220 Kurdish civilians have been killed in the last six months, according to the opposition and pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP). Turkish authorities report that 246 security force personnel were killed in during the same period.
(Dore note - Perhaps 1000's of PKK associated fighters have been killed in the same time period as there are no reliable numbers.)
There are no camps for the displaced and no international organisations have offered help as yet according to IRIN news.(uncredited photo)
Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner said long-term displacement is a concern as more and more homes and business are wrecked across the southeast. “These are densely-populated residential neighbourhoods where tanks are being used, heavy artillery which will cause casualties to ordinary residents,” he said, citing allegations that security forces have been reckless or targeted civilians. “We do know that lots of people who are not carrying guns have been killed and injured – small children, women, elderly people who [don’t fit the] regular profile for fighters.” Gardner said civilians in the areas under curfew who need medical care or food can’t get it. Cuts in water, electricity, and mobile internet signals are becoming common in Kurdish areas across southeastern Turkey. Gardner said “all these things put together are starting to look like collective punishment.”
Fahriye Cukur has been spending her days on the stage of a public hall in Diyarbakir, clutching a photograph of her 16-year-old daughter, Rozerin. She and other mothers are demanding that the authorities’ release their children’s bodies, which they believe to be rotting inside Sur. The high school student was in Sur studying for her university entrance exams, trapped inside the city, when fighting began and a curfew was imposed. Witnesses said she was shot in the head by a government sniper. “For 20 days, her body has been lying in the street,” Cukur protests. “They are killing our children. Our only crime is to be a Kurd.”
Undoing Years of Progress in Turkey
Abdullah Demirbas is the former mayor of Diyarbakir’s Sur district and a founding member of the Council of Forty, an interfaith dialogue group. Demirbas' piece is a must read if you are interested in this topic.
"Entire towns and districts are under siege. Tanks ram through narrow alleys closed off by barricades and trenches. Residents are trapped indoors for weeks because of curfews. Those who venture outside risk sniper fire. Their bodies lie on the streets for days before they can be collected. Bullets fly in through windows and buildings collapse under shelling, killing those seeking shelter at home. This is not Syria. This is Turkey."
January 30, 2016
BAN KI-MOON: GLOBAL CUPCAKE
Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon in his last year of office apparently got tired of being a global cupcake. He did not mince words when it comes to Israel and Palestine during an address to the Security Council on Jan 26.
"Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process.
Some have taken me to task for pointing out this indisputable truth.
Yet, as oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism.
Continued settlement activities are an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community."
The words of out going UN Sec General Ban Ki Moon who in his 10th year in office finally had the chutzpah to tell it like it is.
Global Cupcake Octo
(poem by Clara Hsu)
Whipped cream serves up a no-fault kiss.
Hi and bye to world oppression.
Better stay sweet than be gritty.
It doesn’t pay to be pretty
When dealing with world oppression.
A diet change—no cream, no kiss,
No more Ban-ki Global Cupcake.
January 23, 2016
In Syrian fog of war Israel has provided military and medical support to Jabhat al-Nusra (aka al-Nusra Front), the Syrian branch of al Qaeda, while the U.S. and Russia target al-Nusra with airstrikes.
combined excerpt from below articles
Syrian opposition activists in southern Syria say Israel has played a vital role in Jabhat al-Nusra gains near the Golan. There is clearly a growing divergence in U.S. and Israeli approaches over who represents the biggest danger—and who should be seen, if not as an ally, at least as a lesser evil in the regional crisis sparked by the dual implosion of Syria and Iraq.
In nearly two and a half years, around 2,000 Syrians have been admitted to Israeli hospitals. Only about 1/3 of the Syrians treated in Israel are women and children. The rest are combatants. An Israeli military official acknowledged most of the rebels on the other side of the fence belong to al-Nusra.
Al Qaeda a Lesser Evil? Syria War Pulls U.S., Israel Apart
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January 16, 2016
“We demand Turkey’s state to abandon its deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish and other peoples in the region.”
For international support, please send your signature, name of your university and your title to email@example.com
January 9, 2016
Kurdish youth run through smoke from gas canisters in Diyarbakir (photo not credited)
The (Turkish) State Doesn’t Talk; It Only Shoots
Turkey is waging a brutal war against Kurds (including civilians and youth) in Turkey's southeast (aka North Kurdistan). Few know what's really going outside this region because Turkey blocks media, politicians and humanitarian aid agencies from entering towns and villages under curfew. 'Curfew' is a polite term for total military siege where the military prevents civilians from leaving and does whatever it wants without the world watching. This chilling report is from a resident of Diyarbakir.
January 2, 2016
Endless Afghanistan War
The Taliban now holds more territory than in any year since 2001 when the US invasion removed the Taliban from power.
Meanwhile Afghan military attrition rates, are soaring. As Afghan security forces struggle, U.S. Special Operations troops are increasingly being deployed. Afghans, including senior military officials, no longer even pretend that they can fight the Taliban effectively on their own.
The True Cost of the Afghanistan War May Surprise You
According to a CRS report (Congressional Research Service), the cost of keeping a single American soldier in Afghanistan is $3.9 million.
Israel Bans Novel on Palestinian-Jewish Romance From Schools for 'Threatening Jewish Identity'
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Bennett wages a campaign against literature
Writer and Israel Prize laureate Amos Oz who is regarded as Israel's most famous living author wrote the blurb for the novel. The decision outraged Oz who called out Bennett for not taking parts of the Bible out of the official curriculum. “In everything dealing with sexual intercourse between Jews and non-Jews, the Bible is a thousand times more dangerous than Rabinyan’s book,” he wrote.