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Tag: Syria (page 6 of 7)

What The Hell Is Going On

I hadn’t turned on the news and was working away in that zone of focused concentration that comes along every so often – quite ironically on a tourism piece for a British website – when Saar walked in the house, immediately turned on the TV and said, “Haven’t you seen all the balagan?” And there went my totally focused concentration and with it any need to be writing tourism pieces for British websites.

What the hellAnother two soldiers kidnapped on the northern border, the live news reports on every channel told me, then rumors about the ones who were missing, later the news that 4 were dead and 4 missing and then the confirmation that 8 were dead.

And then massive Israeli air strikes on southern Lebanon and Hezbollah started raining down Katyushas on the north, or was it the other way round, I can’t even remember and can’t keep up with just how fast things have exploded into catastrophe.

The next morning we wake, weary-eyed from a late night watching the round-the-clock coverage of the tragedy as it unfolded, and turn on the TV to see that rockets have hit Nahariya. Nahariya!

“Call Shelley,” I tell Saar, which he does after a couple of seconds it obviously takes his mind to absorb the information. Shelley, his sister, is already a good hour into her escape to Tel Aviv and launches hysterically into descriptions of whistling rockets, incessant booms, billowing smoke and fire and a house near her that was hit.
What the hell was going on? Katyushas in Nahariya? Bombs in Beirut?

A heavy depression hangs over the Haaretz offices when I come into work. It’s definitely a depression, not a panic, a depression, mixed with concern and a deep sense of confusion. Weren’t things slowly, ever so slowly, maybe, just maybe showing some slight hint of a sign of improvement not that long ago? How could the rug have been so quickly swiped from under our feet?

More strikes on Beirut and the news that Rosh Pina had closed its airport and then that rockets had hit Safed. I was there last weekend.

Everybody’s cell phones keep going off as we’re trying to put the weekend pages together, pages that normally attempt to bring some color for a Friday morning, maybe some art pieces, a few light features, but no one’s in the mood for cooking columns this week, and the pages are devoted to analyses and pictures of devastated buildings, blown up roads, rubble and fire.

“Can we call it war? Is this a war?” the editor’s asking. “Not yet, we can’t say war, throw that picture, change the headline.”

“They’ve hit Haifa!” someone shouts.

“My son’s there…”, “My daughter’s there…” and all the cell phones start ringing again.

I MSN Lisa, who generally knows everything about everything: What the hell is going on?

Iran, madness, crazy, Syria, Nasrallah, world opinion, U.S., UN, she gives me her sharp analysis and it doesn’t do anything to calm the slowly rising anxiety I am feeling in my stomach.

In the office, the discussion has moved on as to whether the suiciders on buses were worse (yes) and what would happen if they hit the oil refineries in Haifa, and general consensus settles on the word disaster.

But they won’t hit the refineries, right? Saar calls, “They’ve never hit Haifa before.”

Iris’ phone rings, and from the long conversation that proceeds in German we gather it’s her parents urging her to come home. And leave Elad? she says after hanging up. His army unit is based in the north and the emergency call-up orders for reserves are already in the post.

We send our paper to the printer and hand over the baton to the night desk.

In the morning, big headlines, red pictures.

All day we flick through the channels, CNN, BBC, Sky News, Channel 10, Channel 2, back again. We hit Nasrallah’s building. “Yes!” says Saar, his hands in the air. But the World Cup was last week.

The death toll rises, Beirutis flee, Nasrallah’s still alive. I turn back to my tourism piece as the planes are flying overhead. A Canadian friend pops up on MSN. We chat late into the night.

It’s only been four days and it feels like months already. This is madness. I check Lisa isn’t in the north and press her for more insights. Regional conflict or brokered ceasefire, Saudis, deep shit, things are BAD in Gaza ….missile in Tiberias!

Nasrallah says that Tel Aviv’s next.

But they can’t hit Tel Aviv.

Right …

Today on the Northern Front

Right after the attack yesterday of Nasrallah’s offices and the HQ buildings in the Dacha district of Beirut, an Israeli Class 5 gun ship, the “Achi Chanit” was attacked with a C802 Missile fired from within a residential area in Beirut. Again there are a bunch of questions being asked and we got a few of them today.

Army Intelligence was not aware the Hezbollah had the C802 (a Chinese made Iranian brand missile) and the attack was very accurate. At 16 KM out the ship did not expect the strike. Nasrallah in a recorded message right after the Air Force redecorated his home and offices exclaimed that the war in now going to be all out and continued to describe the burning Israeli ship and “tens of dying and burning soldiers on board”. A slight exaggeration to say the least, as I am writing these words I can see the ship sailing to the Ashdod port for repair. The ship was hit and a fire on board killed 1 sailor and 3 are missing presumed dead. A hard hit for the Navy and a lesson learned.
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Payback for Uncle Sam

As Operation Peace for Galilee, Part II continues into its third exciting day, the eventual outcome is already becoming evident. Israel’s combined military forces, despite some retaliatory action from either Hezbollah or the so-called Lebanese Army, is having a nearly unopposed carte-blanche control of the entire military theatre: by land, sea, and air. The Lebanese Air Force, in you want to call their small squadrons of outdated fighter aircraft that, was virtually incapacitated on Day One of this event. And the knocking out of several key bridges all over Lebanon, including those leading to their eastern neighbor, Syria, has eliminated the possibility of any large Syrian ground or armored forces coming to the rescue like the Calvary used to do in an old American Western movie. All that’s left, is Hezbollah’s remaining missile launching sites, as mobile as they still can be considering new ‘logistical factors’ now in place; thanks to the IAF.

While many concerned countries will undoubtedly point fingers at Israel for being aggressors once again, despite the quite obvious fact of who started this new conflict; one nation, and it’s leader, is not surprisingly vocal about Israel’s vendetta against Sheikh Hassan Harshallah and his Hezbollah Friendship Club. And unless you are either hopelessly retarded, or one of those people who prefer those boringly silly sitcom movies over watching all these Breaking News broadcasts; it doesn’t take much intelligence to figure out which country, and leader, I am referring to.

Ok, even they are asking Israel to ‘show restraint’ in their long overdue cleanup campaign, which has been put on the back burner for far too long. It took a very shocking, and embarrassing incident to push Israel over the line, especially while being involved with spraying for vermin with the Raid can in their southern parameters, also following a similar incident, also involving deaths and kidnappings of IDF soldiers. The truth is, the nation this article is talking about (all right you finally guessed it, the USA) and most of its leadership and military brass are smiling like Sylvester-type pussy cats who just swallowed a very tasty “Tweety-Pie” canary.

Indeed, there are limits as to how far this clean up and fumigation operation will be allowed to go; to ensure that other possible elements won’t decide to join the party. But this one country, whose leader recently labeled the Hezbollah and Sheikh Narshrallah as no less a threat to the world than Al Qaeda and Usama bin Ladin, has a long festering score to settle with them, as well as with their predecessors, the Shiite composed Amal Militia. This chancre sore has been there since 1982, when a large number of U.S. Marines were killed when their barracks were blown up by a car bomb driven by suicide bombers belonging to those aforementioned organizations. Other incidents, including skyjackings, and kidnappings (and related killings) of American diplomats and personnel, going back to Lebanon’s 1976-80 civil war also have required a long over due ‘pay-back’ as well. Repeated comments by the American President that Hezbollah would have to be dealt with sooner or later, has now come to pass, relieving this country of having to do this task themselves (give us a break, guys, we still a bit more fumigation work to do in other places, like Afghanistan and Iraq).

If another ‘concerned country’ decides to find a way to become part of the fracas going on in Lebanon, and both of these countries (Syria and Iran) are high on the list of ‘next in line’ candidates for ‘bug spraying’, then Israel might be also have to be involved in these tasks, to the obvious appreciation of Uncle Sam as well. As everyone knows, even the best ‘fumigations’ are only guaranteed for six months to a year. But for a while, anyway, there will be fewer cock roaches to put up with: at least in Israel’s own back yard.

The truth about the latest Middle East Crisis

We know that the IDF will have to stop its activists in Lebanon. We know that our chances of getting back the abducted soldiers are slim to none. We also know that since the beginning of these events the “window of opportunity” began closing. It was a matter of time until the calls by the international community and especially the weaker links – Russia and France – would bring about an end to our ability to operate in the region and retaliate to the “slap in the face” Nasrallah and Hezbollah gave us.

NasrallahWe also need to thank Nasrallah at this point. He gave us the chance to “clean house”, get rid of a festering puss filled boil that is the Hezbollah. For that we thank him. Iran and Syria are countries that are truly behind these recent events but getting started with the foot soldier is a good start. Hey Nasrallah, have you been to the office lately?
We redecorated, hope you like it.

So let’s start at the beginning. A few days before the attack and abduction of the two soldiers on the Northern border, an Iranian diplomat on his way back to Iran diverted his flight to Damascus, Syria. His mission was to arrange for a distraction from the Iranian nuclear issue that was to gain momentum at the G8 Summit in St. Petersburg. As some of you may know that mission was accomplished and that summit in now all about the crisis in the Middle East and less about the Iranian threat. Nice move Ahmadinejad. Nasrallah and Hezbollah was charged with the task of “heating up the northern border”. Also, please note that during all these attacks on Lebanon, Syria has not made a sound or comment.

To be fair, the Israeli army screwed up – it was amateurish at best and everyone knows it. Commanders in the North were as recently as May heard to say that Hezbollah has made no strides forward in recent years. In the press conference General Adam, commander of the Northern front said there was no intelligence warning at the time and their was a stand down just days before the abduction. All this despite the outright announcements of Nasrallah that Hezbollah has the right and duty to kidnap Israeli soldiers and that was the intention in the near future. Right after the abduction he was mockingly laughing and amused at the ease at which the soldiers were kidnapped and at the fumbling behavior of the Israeli Army. He was right to do so – he promised warned and he found us unprepared. Lesson learned.

The army had repeated warning by reserve soldiers in the area complaining about the lack of visual surveillance along certain areas of the border road. Second screw up was the fact that the 2 hummers moving along the border were not covered by artillery as they should have been. Third screw up – the time it took for the army to realize that the soldiers were kidnapped, reportedly as long as an hour and a half before the “Hannibal” (soldier kidnapping protocol) procedure was called.

Finally, the knee jerk military response was reckless at best. The tank following the escape route long after the trail was cold and then running into an ambush killing 4 more soldiers on top of the first 3 killed during the abduction. The Hezbollah sniper

The army is trying to cover all this up using the heat of battle but it won’t work. Announcing an internal investigation by a low level Lieutenant Colonel with aspirations for future advancement is an obvious sham. These cases should be investigated by an external party or a retired full bird colonel with nothing to lose. This will not and should not fly – heads must roll and going all the way to the top of the food chain.

So putting all that aside, we are now in this new situation. Israel left Lebanon in 2000. Lebanon during these last 6 years did nothing to secure and stabilize the region and the border with Israel. Lebanon did however build up Beirut. The “Switzerland” of the Middle East has risen again. Tourism was back and things were looking up financially. BUT, the cancer was left to grow and fester. Hezbollah during these 6 years built up positions, arms and troops and was given free rein by the Lebanese government. The Lebanese government let the Hezbollah into its “veins”. This is the cancer that is now eating Lebanon and destroying the tourism and financial gains made in the last few years. Now of course Lebanon is calling for a cease fire in the region and this is after its been standing by while a terrorist organization has been attacking another country from within its borders. That seems perfectly logical to the Lebanese government. Now there have been voices calling for the replacement of the Prime Minister and the removal of Hezbollah from Lebanon – but these need to be a little louder and be accompanied by actions.

Israel will not enter with ground troops into Lebanon. We’ve been there and it sucks to say the least. That means that we will operate from a distance and what is happening in the last few days is exactly that. Hezbollah has its offices and homes within the civilian population in Beirut. That means that when attacking the Hezbollah there will be civilian causalities regardless of how hard we try to avoid them. The air force has dropped flyers in the recent 24-48 hours warning the civilians to stay away from known South Beirut neighborhoods controlled by Hezbollah.

The international community including the US is calling for Israel’s restraint. Kofi Anan our “impartial and loving” friend at the UN and the European Union are starting to make demands and threaten with financial sanctions. The window is closing.

Hezbollah represents 50% of Shiite Muslims in Lebanon. That means that we can not and will not destroy Hezbollah. We will however make the Lebanese people realize that in order for them to have a good, peaceful life; Israel will need to have the same. They will be held responsible for actions from their territory and they will need to get rid of the “cancer” within.

Summer Rain or Summer Cloudburst – Is Israel Going Too Far?

Israel’s current military maneuvers in the Gaza Strip appear to keep going on with no one really knowing how for it will go. Initiated from the outset due to the continuous barrage of Palestinian launched Kassam missiles, and actually sparked off by the commando-like attack by Palestinian militants on an Israeli armor unit that resulted in the deaths of two IDF soldiers and the abduction of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, the operation seems to have reached a point where many people are wondering where it will end. Demands by Cpl. Shalit’s kidnappers appear to be changing as well; from Israel releasing at least 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, to a much smaller group including women and ‘long term’ prisoners – many of whom actual terrorists. Regarding the new demands, this time by the Hamas organization itself, one might understand their willingness to help find a solution to this problem as a number of their own governmental ministers and other higher ranking cohorts are currently ‘guests’ of the Israel government, who regard them as bargaining chips in any negations to free Shalit.

The painful unilateral pullout from Gaza by Israel, in which 22 settlements were dismantled and many of their occupants literally carried out of their homes, was hoped to solve a lot of problems concerning Israeli-Palestinian relations by giving the Palestinians an entire parcel of real estate upon which to begin building what might eventually become a homeland and country for them. Subsequent events occurring afterwards, including a continuance of Kassam launchings, as well as the Hamas landslide political victory in January 2006, began to indicate that the Hamas-led PA Authority not only has no intention of making peace with Israel but has even formed closer bonds with countries like Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Islamic Republic of Iran. Even Al Qaeda is alleged to be operating in PA areas in even greater numbers, and are suspected of being jointly involved in Palestinian terror operations as well.
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Incidents Turn to the worst in Gaza

Israel’s expected retaliation to Sunday’s attack by Palestinian insurgents is now in full swing in Gaza. The continuing military action, involving air and ground forces has so far caused considerable damage to the Palestinian’s already disastrous infrastructure, including causing severe damage to the PA’s only electrical power station, as well as knocking out two land bridges that has literally “cut Gaza in two”. The massive military action came as a result of a diplomatic impasse which has occurred concerning efforts to gain the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier, PFC Gilad Shalit. This impasse appears to have occurred despite a world wide effort to free the young soldier by negotiators in various world capitals, including Damascus Syria.

Though international statespersons, including U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have asked all sides in the conflict to “give diplomacy a chance”, it now appears that Israel, which has been massing it’s forces on the border with Gaza for days now, finally decided that enough is enough. Israeli P.M. Olmert, his Defense Minister Amir Peretz, as well as IDF General Commander Dan Helutz, now say that Israel will not negotiate with terrorists, and that no prisoner exchange will take place.

The abduction of Shalit, alleged to have been carried out by ‘right-wing’ members of Hamas, the very party which now rules the P.A., has resulted in his captors declaring that they will only release him within the framework of a general prisoner exchange involving numerous Palestinian prisoners, many with ‘blood on their hands’, being held in Israeli jails. To further complicate the entire bowl of ‘fruit salad’, another young man,from a settlement on the West Bank, is missing and alleged to have been kidnapped as well.

The militants holding Shalit issued statements that the soldier is alive, and that they are holding him “a secure place where the Zionests cannot reach”. During these actions, Palestinian launched Kassam missiles have continued to be launched at Israeli targets, including the nearby town of Sderot, injuring several people. Both European and American government officials are taking all of these events very seriously, as it now appears that there is virtually no chance whatsoever to restart any peace negotiations between the two sides, now literally at war. Israeli P.M. Olmert even declared that the “entire territory of Gaza is completely closed, from the Sea to all its Borders with Israel”.

Some ‘behind the scene’ negotiations are continuing, however, including those for a prisoner release. The critical question now is whether these efforts will succeed to gain PFC Shalit’s release, as well as to bring about a cease fire. No details have been released, and most likely will not be divulged due to fear for Salit’s safety.

Judging from all of these events, and in respect to actions taken by the Hamas-connected terrorists, it reminds many of a statement made once by the international arch terrorist, Carlos the Jackal, who said in regards to his alleged enemies: “Shit is thicker than blood – make shit out of them”. It now looks like the Israeli forces, anyway, are heeding his advice in regards to present dealing with their Palestinian ‘neighbors’.

The Outcome of Violence

By Raz Koller

The Kasam rocket attacks and kidnappings have finely lead to the avoidable violence in the Gaza strip. The IDF has been operating in the Gaza strip since late last night. The military is bombing from the air Palestinian terror nests and infrastructure, intend to sabotage terror activities. Thus a small transformer was bombed last night (along with several bridges) and half of Gaza was blacked-out.

The operation was nicknamed “Summer Rain”, and according to military factors it is a “rolling operation with no established time frame”. But government sources within the Israeli government reassured that Israel has no intention of going back into the Gaza strip permanently. “Israel did not leave Gaza just to return to it” said Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livnie. Prime-Minister Ehud Olmert also clarified today that Israel has no intention to occupy Gaza again, but “the operations will continue. There will be no terrorist immunity. We have a primary goal – bring Gilad home“.

Gilad Shalit was kidnapped during a terrorist attack on one of the IDF’s posts within Israel’s borders during the last weekend. The past days raised concerns about his health in captivity. The Hamas terrorists who have him demanded Israel stop the operation in the Gaza strip or they will execute him. Israel on its side refuses to negotiate with terrorists but said that the release of the soldier and the settler that was kidnapped on Sunday might bring the operation to an end.

HamasIn the meantime Israel accuses not only the Palestinian, but also the Hamas leaders who sit in Syria, and the country that shelters them. “The USA and the international community can not stay indifferent to the fact that Syria is giving custody to the Arch-terrorists who had lad to these acts.” said Minister Haim Ramon.

And in the soldier Gilad Shalit’s home, many people have come to show support to the devastated family. One of the guests yesterday was Azam Azam, the Israeli citizen who was jailed in Egypt for the false charge of spying for Israel, and was released after seven years due to Israel’s massive diplomatic efforts. “Captivity is not simple, only inner-strength can help Gilad survive” said Azam yesterday.

No To Israeli Academic Boycott

The British paper “The Guardian” published yesterday a letter written by four British academics writing in the name of six hundred Academy people from all around the world, calling the NATFHE (National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education) to not boycott Israeli academics. This comes as a response to a Palestinian initiative to make British scholars boycott Israel “Due to the occupation and its Apartheid policies”.

Another academic organization, AUT (Association of University Teachers) has already declined the Palestinian initiative. Now the four British scholars want the NATFHE to do the same.

According to “The Guardian”, thousands of academy people have already sign the petition that was published on the Internet against the boycott. The petition was publish by the “Academic Higher Council for Freedom of Academic Teaching” which was founded in Bar-Ilan University, and has about five hundred people for twenty different countries as members. The petition says amongst other things that a boycott “Will weakened the bridge that lead to the end of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians”.

The letter in the Guardian was written by Derek Meyer from University of Westminster, Leslie Bash from Anglia Ruskin University, Paul Langston from Aylesbury College and Stephen Soskin from Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College.

The four say that the initiative is discriminating to Israel and writes, “Unions should have consistent policy with regard to human rights abuses and the curtailment of academic freedom that goes with them. We oppose the inconsistency of blacklisting Israelis, but adopting a different attitude to academics in the US, China, Russia, Britain, Sudan, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, Syria or Egypt – or in the long list of other states that are responsible for equal or worse human rights abuses”.

They also mention that, “Israeli universities are among the most open and anti-racist spaces in Israel. They have large numbers of Arab students and teachers. The Oslo peace process was forged by links between Israeli and Palestinian academics”.

NATFHE is supposed to make a decision in the days ahead.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and vote!

by Liza Farachdel

Vote

Less than one week shy of Election Day, and to say that pre-election excitement is in the air would be an almost dream-like exaggeration. Instead of the usual bombardment by Israeli youth pushing flyers and stickers at me at every intersection and junction, I only spot the occasional roadside billboard while riding the train to work, or banners hung half-heartedly on fences, flapping listlessly in the wind. Nobody I know is watching the daily election commercials, and not only do my friends not know who to vote for, but many of them have told me that they don’t think they’ll be voting at all – a most disturbing trend indeed.

Here we are, living in a society resembling a democracy, and while granted, this gives one the right not to vote, the question is why.

Why not exercise your right to vote? I can understand the lethargy, the lack of motivation, the frustration. The very act of living in Israel is exhausting, and we are tired of politics. I imagine that we are even more tired of politicians – their scheming and scandals, the perceived lack of progress on just about any issue (except, quite coincidentally I’m sure, for the issue of expanding salaries and benefits for Knesset members, which is always dealt with in a most efficient manner).

We are tired. And on many levels, we just don’t care anymore. Sadly, this is a poor excuse for not fulfilling your obligation – no wait, your right – as a citizen to vote.
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Schulz on Honor and Islam

By Denis Schulz

When Shane called Wilson a ‘dirty Yankee liar,’ Wilson reached for his shootin’ iron. What else was he to do? He had been insulted; demeaned; defamed. And unless he responded immediately to the challenge he would never be able to show his face in Grafton again. Suing was out of the question, lawyers were expensive, and Shane didn’t have a pot to boil coffee in. So Wilson went down to the hardware store and bought some bullets. His honor was at stake-such as it was.

Senator Sumner attacked by PrestonOn May 20, 1856, Senator Charles Sumner (R-MA) rose in the Senate to trash the Kansas-Nebraska Act During the course of the speech, he made several insulting references to Senator Andrew Butler (D-SC), one of the bill’s co-sponsors. Butler had taken” a mistress,” said Sumner, “who, though ugly to others, is always lovely to him; though polluted in the sight of the world, is chaste in his sight-I mean, the harlot, Slavery”. Two days later, Butler’s nephew, US Congressman Preston Brooks (D-SC), strode into the Senate chamber and beat Sumner half-to-death with a gutta-percha cane with a solid gold handle. Uncle Andy’s honor has been at stake; Preston ‘Bully’ Brooks’ honor had been at stake; the South’s honor had been at stake-such as it was.

So it is with Islam. The less honor reposing in a person or a group, the more angry and violent the response to any challenge, real or imagined, by said person or group.

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Kevin Sites: Citizen journalist arrives in Israel


Kevin Sites (middle) with his team.

Kevin Sites is a freelance journalist who is bringing blogging to a whole new level. He has undertaken to visit and report from every area of conflict in the world over one year. His goal is to report the stories that are not covered by the mainstream media and to put a human face on them. So far, Sites has visited eight locations – including Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. He has shot some remarkable video interviews and posted them on his site, The Hot Zone.

This week he visited Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. He did some powerful interviews with Israeli and Palestinian trauma physicians and with two women – one Palestinian and one Israeli – who suffered devastating physical injuries as a direct result of the conflict.

Take a look at the video reports shot in Israel:
Amani Al-Hissi, a blind woman who was injured by a tear gas cannister.

Kinneret Boosany, who suffered terrible burns all over her body when a suicide bomber detonated himself at the Tel Aviv cafe in which she worked as a bartender.

Dr. Raed Arini, a trauma surgeon at a Gaza hospital.

Prof. Avi Rifkind, a trauma surgeon at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital.

Jesus Mohammed and Moses walk into a bar

Muslim Cartoons

A little while ago we published a video created by Javier Prato depicting a humorous version of Jesus. Virginia made a comment about it and found it a little offensive, I apologized and she accepted. You can see her comment below the video.

This is what humor is all about. Humor and freedom of speech are part of our civilization and are not negotiable. What is happening out there with the 12 caricatures of Mohammed is ridiculous. What’s even more concerning is the fact that publications and newspapers have removed these images from their sites in fear.
In an apology written by the Editor Carsten Juste of the Danish, Jyllands-Posten he talks about “other” images involved that were the real cause for all this. Wrong! The other images have nothing to do with all this. In a normal situation, if these images were taken as offensive a quiet rally outside the newspaper would have gotten the apology it deserves. There were no other images involved and there is no need to rationalize this irrational behavior. Period. You did nothing wrong.
This was part of the statement:

“In our opinion, the 12 drawings were sober. They were not intended to be offensive, nor were they at variance with Danish law, but they have indisputably offended many Muslims for which we apologize. Since then a number of offensive drawings have circulated in The Middle East which have never been published in Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten and which we would never have published, had they been offered to us. We would have refused to publish them on the grounds that they violated our ethical code.”

An official statement was made just now by the Danish Foreign Minister calling for calm and responsible behavior. He mentions that this was not done to offend the Muslims and that these events have been taken out of proportions. If there was an offence then the courts should determine the outcome. The only parties, extremists and fanatics are the ones using this for their ends and are now using this to promote their own objectives. The Danish foreign minister asked for a dialog to be initiated and emphasized the need for civilized discussion. An apology was provided by the newspaper and it was time to move on. He and other world leaders were very surprised by the turn of events.

So this is so far the sequence of events

30 Sept: Danish paper Jyllands-Posten publishes cartoons
20 Oct: Muslim ambassadors in Denmark complain to Danish PM
10 Jan: Norwegian publication reprints cartoons
26 Jan: Saudi Arabia recalls its ambassador
30 Jan: Gunmen raid EU’s Gaza office
31 Jan: Danish paper apologizes
1 Feb: Papers in France, Germany, Italy and Spain reprint cartoons
4 Feb: In Damascus, Syria the Danish and Norwegian embassies are torched.
5 Feb: Riots in Beirut, Danish embassy torched. Statement by the Danish Foreign Minister calling for calm and responsible dialog.

In terms of Beirut. I know what you see on the news right now is a little concerning but please keep in mind its Beirut. That city has a Christian and Muslim population and the riots turned bad when a church was attacked prompting clashes in the streets between the two groups. This doesn’t take away from the fact that the Danish embassy is toast.

This is Mustafa’s post on BeirutSpring.com and I found this:

The question is legitimate, but beside the point. Westerners will sooner or later accept the notion that many Muslims have a weird sense of prioritization. If they starve because of bad government policy or corruption, they attribute it to “God’s will”. But if some “heathen” westerner insults their beliefs, they will be seriously offended.

This is from Jamal’s Propoganda Site:

The controversial Danish caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad (prayed God upon him and saluted) are offensively bad, offensively unfunny, offensively childish (sort of like what I just said) . That is exactly why they are not worth all the fuss.

He also posted a new post today called Shameful:
Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us. Shame on Us.
(to which I say, thank you and we all know that shit happens…)

One opinion on the Watch hits the nail on the head. Charles Moore, The Daily Telegraph, 2006/02/04

“There is a great deal of talk about responsible journalism, gratuitous offence, multicultural sensitivities and so on. Jack Straw gibbers about the irresponsibility of the cartoons, but says nothing against the Muslims threatening death in response to them. I wish someone would mention the word that dominates Western culture in the face of militant Islam – fear. And then I wish someone would face it down.”

The following image gallery is a little collection we call: “Jesus, Mohammed and Moses walk into a bar”

A huge hat tip (damn I am taking the hat right off) to ZombieTime.com and the Mohammed Image Archive.
To a great cartoonist that runs JesusAndMo.net.
To another great Cartoon site CoxAndForkum.com
I know I missed some people and if I did I apologize – I mean it!

Jesus The Freshmaker

Image Problems - CoxandForkum.com

Jesus and Moses - Jesusandmo.net

Moses

Jesus

Moses

Dogs as god ??

Mohammed

This last image I found interesting, this is what ZombieTime had to say:

Iranian woman artist Oranous (who is a Muslim and lives in Tehran) created this iconic painting of a young Mohammed and is selling it online. Though this would seem to violate Islamic and Iranian law, an expert in Iranian Shi’ite customs writes in to say that this particular painting is not forbidden because it depicts a young Mohammed before he was visited by the Angel Gabriel and started receiving his visions, which means that at this stage in his life he is not yet the Prophet.

Denmark Freedom of Speech

Haim Harari – A View from the Eye of the Storm

This is published with permission. Thank you Haim. Talk delivered by Haim Harari at a meeting of the International Advisory Board of a large multi-national corporation, April, 2004.

As you know, I usually provide the scientific and technological “entertainment” in our meetings, but, on this occasion, our Chairman suggested that I present my own personal view on events in the part of the world from which I come. I have never been and I will never be a Government official and I have no privileged information. My perspective is entirely based on what I see, on what I read and on the fact that my family has lived in this region for almost 200 years. You may regard my views as those of the proverbial taxi driver, which you are supposed to question, when you visit a country.

I could have shared with you some fascinating facts and some personal thoughts about the Israeli-Arab conflict. However, I will touch upon it only in passing. I prefer to devote most of my remarks to the broader picture of the region and its place in world events. I refer to the entire area between Pakistan and Morocco, which is predominantly Arab, predominantly Moslem, but includes many non-Arab and also significant non-Moslem minorities.

Why do I put aside Israel and its own immediate neighborhood? Because Israel and any problems related to it, in spite of what you might read or hear in the world media, is not the central issue, and has never been the central issue in the upheaval in the region. Yes, there is a 100 year-old Israeli-Arab conflict, but it is not where the main show is. The millions who died in the Iran-Iraq war had nothing to do with Israel. The mass murder happening right now in Sudan, where the Arab Moslem regime is massacring its black Christian citizens, has nothing to do with Israel. The frequent reports from Algeria about the murders of hundreds of civilian in one village or another by other Algerians have nothing to do with Israel. Saddam Hussein did not invade Kuwait, endangered Saudi Arabia and butchered his own people because of Israel. Egypt did not use poison gas against Yemen in the 60’s because of Israel. Assad the Father did not kill tens of thousands of his own citizens in one week in El Hamma in Syria because of Israel. The Taliban control of Afghanistan and the civil war there had nothing to do with Israel. The Libyan blowing up of the Pan-Am flight had nothing to do with Israel, and I could go on and on and on.

The root of the trouble is that this entire Moslem region is totally dysfunctional, by any standard of the word, and would have been so even if Israel would have joined the Arab league and an independent Palestine would have existed for 100 years. The 22 member countries of the Arab league, from Mauritania to the Gulf States, have a total population of 300 millions, larger than the US and almost as large as the EU before its expansion. They have a land area larger than either the US or all of Europe. These 22 countries, with all their oil and natural resources, have a combined GDP smaller than that of Netherlands plus Belgium and equal to half of the GDP of California alone. Within this meager GDP, the gaps between rich and poor are beyond belief and too many of the rich made their money not by succeeding in business, but by being corrupt rulers. The social status of women is far below what it was in the Western World 150 years ago. Human rights are below any reasonable standard, in spite of the grotesque fact that Libya was elected Chair of the UN Human Rights commission. According to a report prepared by a committee of Arab intellectuals and published under the auspices of the U.N., the number of books translated by the entire Arab world is much smaller than what little Greece alone translates. The total number of scientific publications of 300 million Arabs is less than that of 6 million Israelis. Birth rates in the region are very high, increasing the poverty, the social gaps and the cultural decline. And all of this is happening in a region, which only 30 years ago, was believed to be the next wealthy part of the world, and in a Moslem area, which developed, at some point in history, one of the most advanced cultures in the world.

It is fair to say that this creates an unprecedented breeding ground for cruel dictators, terror networks, fanaticism, incitement, suicide murders and general decline. It is also a fact that almost everybody in the region blames this situation on the United States, on Israel, on Western Civilization, on Judaism and Christianity, on anyone and anything, except themselves.

Do I say all of this with the satisfaction of someone discussing the failings of his enemies? On the contrary, I firmly believe that the world would have been a much better place and my own neighborhood would have been much more pleasant and peaceful, if things were different.

I should also say a word about the millions of decent, honest, good people who are either devout Moslems or are not very religious but grew up in Moslem families. They are double victims of an outside world, which now develops Islamophobia and of their own environment, which breaks their heart by being totally dysfunctional. The problem is that the vast silent majority of these Moslems are not part of the terror and of the incitement but they also do not stand up against it. They become accomplices, by omission, and this applies to political leaders, intellectuals, business people and many others. Many of them can certainly tell right from wrong, but are afraid to express their views.

The events of the last few years have amplified four issues, which have always existed, but have never been as rampant as in the present upheaval in the region. These are the four main pillars of the current World Conflict, or perhaps we should already refer to it as “the undeclared World War III”. I have no better name for the present situation. A few more years may pass before everybody acknowledges that it is a World War, but we are already well into it.

The first element is the suicide murder. Suicide murders are not a new invention but they have been made popular, if I may use this expression, only lately. Even after September 11, it seems that most of the Western World does not yet understand this weapon. It is a very potent psychological weapon. Its real direct impact is relatively minor. The total number of casualties from hundreds of suicide murders within Israel in the last three years is much smaller than those due to car accidents. September 11 was quantitatively much less lethal than many earthquakes. More people die from AIDS in one day in Africa than all the Russians who died in the hands of Chechnya-based Moslem suicide murderers since that conflict started. Saddam killed every month more people than all those who died from suicide murders since the Coalition occupation of Iraq.

So what is all the fuss about suicide killings? It creates headlines. It is spectacular. It is frightening. It is a very cruel death with bodies dismembered and horrible severe lifelong injuries to many of the wounded. It is always shown on television in great detail. One such murder, with the help of hysterical media coverage, can destroy the tourism industry of a country for quite a while, as it did in Bali and in Turkey.

But the real fear comes from the undisputed fact that no defense and no preventive measures can succeed against a determined suicide murderer. This has not yet penetrated the thinking of the Western World. The U.S. and Europe are constantly improving their defense against the last murder, not the next one. We may arrange for the best airport security in the world. But if you want to murder by suicide, you do not have to board a plane in order to explode yourself and kill many people. Who could stop a suicide murder in the midst of the crowded line waiting to be checked by the airport metal detector? How about the lines to the check-in counters in a busy travel period? Put a metal detector in front of every train station in Spain and the terrorists will get the buses. Protect the buses and they will explode in movie theaters, concert halls, supermarkets, shopping malls, schools and hospitals. Put guards in front of every concert hall and there will always be a line of people to be checked by the guards and this line will be the target, not to speak of killing the guards themselves. You can somewhat reduce your vulnerability by preventive and defensive measures and by strict border controls but not eliminate it and definitely not win the war in a defensive way. And it is a war!

What is behind the suicide murders? Money, power and cold-blooded murderous incitement, nothing else. It has nothing to do with true fanatic religious beliefs. No Moslem preacher has ever blown himself up. No son of an Arab politician or religious leader has ever blown himself. No relative of anyone influential has done it. Wouldn’t you expect some of the religious leaders to do it themselves, or to talk their sons into doing it, if this is truly a supreme act of religious fervor? Aren’t they interested in the benefits of going to Heaven? Instead, they send outcast women, naïve children, retarded people and young incited hotheads. They promise them the delights, mostly sexual, of the next world, and pay their families handsomely after the supreme act is performed and enough innocent people are dead.

Suicide murders also have nothing to do with poverty and despair. The poorest region in the world, by far, is Africa. It never happens there. There are numerous desperate people in the world, in different cultures, countries and continents. Desperation does not provide anyone with explosives, reconnaissance and transportation. There was certainly more despair in Saddam’s Iraq then in Paul Bremmer’s Iraq, and no one exploded himself. A suicide murder is simply a horrible, vicious weapon of cruel, inhuman, cynical, well-funded terrorists, with no regard to human life, including the life of their fellow countrymen, but with very high regard to their own affluent well-being and their hunger for power.

The only way to fight this new “popular” weapon is identical to the only way in which you fight organized crime or pirates on the high seas: the offensive way. Like in the case of organized crime, it is crucial that the forces on the offensive be united and it is crucial to reach the top of the crime pyramid. You cannot eliminate organized crime by arresting the little drug dealer in the street corner. You must go after the head of the “Family”.

If part of the public supports it, others tolerate it, many are afraid of it and some try to explain it away by poverty or by a miserable childhood, organized crime will thrive and so will terrorism. The United States understands this now, after September 11. Russia is beginning to understand it. Turkey understands it well. I am very much afraid that most of Europe still does not understand it. Unfortunately, it seems that Europe will understand it only after suicide murders will arrive in Europe in a big way. In my humble opinion, this will definitely happen. The Spanish trains and the Istanbul bombings are only the beginning. The unity of the Civilized World in fighting this horror is absolutely indispensable. Until Europe wakes up, this unity will not be achieved.

The second ingredient is words, more precisely lies. Words can be lethal. They kill people. It is often said that politicians, diplomats and perhaps also lawyers and business people must sometimes lie, as part of their professional life. But the norms of politics and diplomacy are childish, in comparison with the level of incitement and total absolute deliberate fabrications, which have reached new heights in the region we are talking about. An incredible number of people in the Arab world believe that September 11 never happened, or was an American provocation or, even better, a Jewish plot.

You all remember the Iraqi Minister of Information, Mr. Mouhamad Said al-Sahaf and his press conferences when the US forces were already inside Baghdad. Disinformation at time of war is an accepted tactic. But to stand, day after day, and to make such preposterous statements, known to everybody to be lies, without even being ridiculed in your own milieu, can only happen in this region. Mr. Sahaf eventually became a popular icon as a court jester, but this did not stop some allegedly respectable newspapers from giving him equal time. It also does not prevent the Western press from giving credence, every day, even now, to similar liars. After all, if you want to be an antisemite, there are subtle ways of doing it. You do not have to claim that the holocaust never happened and that the Jewish temple in Jerusalem never existed. But millions of Moslems are told by their leaders that this is the case. When these same leaders make other statements, the Western media report them as if they could be true.

It is a daily occurrence that the same people, who finance, arm and dispatch suicide murderers, condemn the act in English in front of western TV cameras, talking to a world audience, which even partly believes them. It is a daily routine to hear the same leader making opposite statements in Arabic to his people and in English to the rest of the world. Incitement by Arab TV, accompanied by horror pictures of mutilated bodies, has become a powerful weapon of those who lie, distort and want to destroy everything. Little children are raised on deep hatred and on admiration of so-called martyrs, and the Western World does not notice it because its own TV sets are mostly tuned to soap operas and game shows. I recommend to you, even though most of you do not understand Arabic, to watch Al Jazeera, from time to time. You will not believe your own eyes.

But words also work in other ways, more subtle. A demonstration in Berlin, carrying banners supporting Saddam’s regime and featuring three-year old babies dressed as suicide murderers, is defined by the press and by political leaders as a “peace demonstration”. You may support or oppose the Iraq war, but to refer to fans of Saddam, Arafat or Bin Laden as peace activists is a bit too much. A woman walks into an Israeli restaurant in mid-day, eats, observes families with old people and children eating their lunch in the adjacent tables and pays the bill. She then blows herself up, killing 20 people, including many children, with heads and arms rolling around in the restaurant. She is called “martyr” by several Arab leaders and “activist” by the European press. Dignitaries condemn the act but visit her bereaved family and the money flows.

There is a new game in town: The actual murderer is called “the military wing”, the one who pays him, equips him and sends him is now called “the political wing” and the head of the operation is called the “spiritual leader”. There are numerous other examples of such Orwellian nomenclature, used every day not only by terror chiefs but also by Western media. These words are much more dangerous than many people realize. They provide an emotional infrastructure for atrocities. It was Joseph Goebels who said that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it. He is now being outperformed by his successors.

The third aspect is money. Huge amounts of money, which could have solved many social problems in this dysfunctional part of the world, are channeled into three concentric spheres supporting death and murder. In the inner circle are the terrorists themselves. The money funds their travel, explosives, hideouts and permanent search for soft vulnerable targets. They are surrounded by a second wider circle of direct supporters, planners, commanders, preachers, all of whom make a living, usually a very comfortable living, by serving as terror infrastructure. Finally, we find the third circle of so-called religious, educational and welfare organizations, which actually do some good, feed the hungry and provide some schooling, but brainwash a new generation with hatred, lies and ignorance. This circle operates mostly through mosques, madrasas and other religious establishments but also through inciting electronic and printed media. It is this circle that makes sure that women remain inferior, that democracy is unthinkable and that exposure to the outside world is minimal. It is also that circle that leads the way in blaming everybody outside the Moslem world, for the miseries of the region.

Figuratively speaking, this outer circle is the guardian, which makes sure that the people look and listen inwards to the inner circle of terror and incitement, rather than to the world outside. Some parts of this same outer circle actually operate as a result of fear from, or blackmail by, the inner circles. The horrifying added factor is the high birth rate. Half of the population of the Arab world is under the age of 20, the most receptive age to incitement, guaranteeing two more generations of blind hatred.

Of the three circles described above, the inner circles are primarily financed by terrorist states like Iran and Syria, until recently also by Iraq and Libya and earlier also by some of the Communist regimes. These states, as well as the Palestinian Authority, are the safe havens of the wholesale murder vendors. The outer circle is largely financed by Saudi Arabia, but also by donations from certain Moslem communities in the United States and Europe and, to a smaller extent, by donations of European Governments to various NGO’s and by certain United Nations organizations, whose goals may be noble, but they are infested and exploited by agents of the outer circle. The Saudi regime, of course, will be the next victim of major terror, when the inner circle will explode into the outer circle. The Saudis are beginning to understand it, but they fight the inner circles, while still financing the infrastructure at the outer circle.

Some of the leaders of these various circles live very comfortably on their loot. You meet their children in the best private schools in Europe, not in the training camps of suicide murderers. The Jihad “soldiers” join packaged death tours to Iraq and other hotspots, while some of their leaders ski in Switzerland. Mrs. Arafat, who lives in Paris with her daughter, receives tens of thousands Dollars per month from the allegedly bankrupt Palestinian Authority while a typical local ringleader of the Al-Aksa brigade, reporting to Arafat, receives only a cash payment of a couple of hundred dollars, for performing murders at the retail level.

The fourth element of the current world conflict is the total breaking of all laws. The civilized world believes in democracy, the rule of law, including international law, human rights, free speech and free press, among other liberties. There are naïve old-fashioned habits such as respecting religious sites and symbols, not using ambulances and hospitals for acts of war, avoiding the mutilation of dead bodies and not using children as human shields or human bombs. Never in history, not even in the Nazi period, was there such total disregard of all of the above as we observe now. Every student of political science debates how you prevent an anti-democratic force from winning a democratic election and abolishing democracy. Other aspects of a civilized society must also have limitations. Can a policeman open fire on someone trying to kill him? Can a government listen to phone conversations of terrorists and drug dealers? Does free speech protects you when you shout “fire” in a crowded theater? Should there be death penalty, for deliberate multiple murders? These are the old-fashioned dilemmas. But now we have an entire new set.

Do you raid a mosque, which serves as a terrorist ammunition storage? Do you return fire, if you are attacked from a hospital? Do you storm a church taken over by terrorists who took the priests hostages? Do you search every ambulance after a few suicide murderers use ambulances to reach their targets? Do you strip every woman because one pretended to be pregnant and carried a suicide bomb on her belly? Do you shoot back at someone trying to kill you, standing deliberately behind a group of children? Do you raid terrorist headquarters, hidden in a mental hospital? Do you shoot an arch-murderer who deliberately moves from one location to another, always surrounded by children? All of these happen daily in Iraq and in the Palestinian areas. What do you do? Well, you do not want to face the dilemma. But it cannot be avoided.

Suppose, for the sake of discussion, that someone would openly stay in a well-known address in Teheran, hosted by the Iranian Government and financed by it, executing one atrocity after another in Spain or in France, killing hundreds of innocent people, accepting responsibility for the crimes, promising in public TV interviews to do more of the same, while the Government of Iran issues public condemnations of his acts but continues to host him, invite him to official functions and treat him as a great dignitary. I leave it to you as homework to figure out what Spain or France would have done, in such a situation.

The problem is that the civilized world is still having illusions about the rule of law in a totally lawless environment. It is trying to play ice hockey by sending a ballerina ice-skater into the rink or to knock out a heavyweight boxer by a chess player. In the same way that no country has a law against cannibals eating its prime minister, because such an act is unthinkable, international law does not address killers shooting from hospitals, mosques and ambulances, while being protected by their Government or society. International law does not know how to handle someone who sends children to throw stones, stands behind them and shoots with immunity and cannot be arrested because he is sheltered by a Government. International law does not know how to deal with a leader of murderers who is royally and comfortably hosted by a country, which pretends to condemn his acts or just claims to be too weak to arrest him. The amazing thing is that all of these crooks demand protection under international law and define all those who attack them as war criminals, with some Western media repeating the allegations. The good news is that all of this is temporary, because the evolution of international law has always adapted itself to reality. The punishment for suicide murder should be death or arrest before the murder, not during and not after. After every world war, the rules of international law have changed and the same will happen after the present one. But during the twilight zone, a lot of harm can be done.

The picture I described here is not pretty. What can we do about it? In the short run, only fight and win. In the long run – only educate the next generation and open it to the world. The inner circles can and must be destroyed by force. The outer circle cannot be eliminated by force. Here we need financial starvation of the organizing elite, more power to women, more education, counter propaganda, boycott whenever feasible and access to Western media, internet and the international scene. Above all, we need a total absolute unity and determination of the civilized world against all three circles of evil.

Allow me, for a moment, to depart from my alleged role as a taxi driver and return to science. When you have a malignant tumor, you may remove the tumor itself surgically. You may also starve it by preventing new blood from reaching it from other parts of the body, thereby preventing new “supplies” from expanding the tumor. If you want to be sure, it is best to do both.

But before you fight and win, by force or otherwise, you have to realize that you are in a war, and this may take Europe a few more years. In order to win, it is necessary to first eliminate the terrorist regimes, so that no Government in the world will serve as a safe haven for these people. I do not want to comment here on whether the American-led attack on Iraq was justified from the point of view of weapons of mass destruction or any other pre-war argument, but I can look at the post-war map of Western Asia. Now that Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are out, two and a half terrorist states remain: Iran, Syria and Lebanon, the latter being a Syrian colony. Perhaps Sudan should be added to the list. As a result of the conquest of Afghanistan and Iraq, both Iran and Syria are now totally surrounded by territories unfriendly to them. Iran is encircled by Afghanistan, by the Gulf States, Iraq and the Moslem republics of the former Soviet Union. Syria is surrounded by Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. This is a significant strategic change and it applies strong pressure on the terrorist countries. It is not surprising that Iran is so active in trying to incite a Shiite uprising in Iraq. I do not know if the American plan was actually to encircle both Iran and Syria, but that is the resulting situation.

In my humble opinion, the number one danger to the world today is Iran and its regime. It definitely has ambitions to rule vast areas and to expand in all directions. It has an ideology, which claims supremacy over Western culture. It is ruthless. It has proven that it can execute elaborate terrorist acts without leaving too many traces, using Iranian Embassies. It is clearly trying to develop Nuclear Weapons. Its so-called moderates and conservatives play their own virtuoso version of the “good-cop versus bad-cop” game. Iran sponsors Syrian terrorism, it is certainly behind much of the action in Iraq, it is fully funding the Hizbulla and, through it, the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad, it performed acts of terror at least in Europe and in South America and probably also in Uzbekhistan and Saudi Arabia and it truly leads a multi-national terror consortium, which includes, as minor players, Syria, Lebanon and certain Shiite elements in Iraq. Nevertheless, most European countries still trade with Iran, try to appease it and refuse to read the clear signals.

In order to win the war it is also necessary to dry the financial resources of the terror conglomerate. It is pointless to try to understand the subtle differences between the Sunni terror of Al Qaida and Hamas and the Shiite terror of Hizbulla, Sadr and other Iranian inspired enterprises. When it serves their business needs, all of them collaborate beautifully.

It is crucial to stop Saudi and other financial support of the outer circle, which is the fertile breeding ground of terror. It is important to monitor all donations from the Western World to Islamic organizations, to monitor the finances of international relief organizations and to react with forceful economic measures to any small sign of financial aid to any of the three circles of terrorism. It is also important to act decisively against the campaign of lies and fabrications and to monitor those Western media who collaborate with it out of naivety, financial interests or ignorance.

Above all, never surrender to terror. No one will ever know whether the recent elections in Spain would have yielded a different result, if not for the train bombings a few days earlier. But it really does not matter. What matters is that the terrorists believe that they caused the result and that they won by driving Spain out of Iraq. The Spanish story will surely end up being extremely costly to other European countries, including France, who is now expelling inciting preachers and forbidding veils and including others who sent troops to Iraq. In the long run, Spain itself will pay even more.

Is the solution a democratic Arab world? If by democracy we mean free elections but also free press, free speech, a functioning judicial system, civil liberties, equality to women, free international travel, exposure to international media and ideas, laws against racial incitement and against defamation, and avoidance of lawless behavior regarding hospitals, places of worship and children, then yes, democracy is the solution. If democracy is just free elections, it is likely that the most fanatic regime will be elected, the one whose incitement and fabrications are the most inflammatory. We have seen it already in Algeria and, to a certain extent, in Turkey. It will happen again, if the ground is not prepared very carefully. On the other hand, a certain transition democracy, as in Jordan, may be a better temporary solution, paving the way for the real thing, perhaps in the same way that an immediate sudden democracy did not work in Russia and would not have worked in China.

I have no doubt that the civilized world will prevail. But the longer it takes us to understand the new landscape of this war, the more costly and painful the victory will be. Europe, more than any other region, is the key. Its understandable recoil from wars, following the horrors of World War II, may cost thousands of additional innocent lives, before the tide will turn.

Syrian chief’s assets frozen by US

Assef Shawkat - Syrian Intelligence ChiefSyrian President Bashar Al-Assad brother in-law’s assets in the U.S. were frozen by the treasury department, Assef Shawkat Syria’s military intelligence chief is accused by Washington of contributing to violence in Lebanon and Iraq. He is also accused of playing a direct and major role in Syria’s support for terrorism, including the insurgency in Iraq.

Here is an interesting little story about him:

Assef Shawkat, the mysterious figure who has recently emerged as one of Bashar’s top security chiefs, was born in the coastal city of Tartous in 1950 and grew up in modest comfort. In 1968, he moved to Damascus to pursue his higher education in the field of law. He graduated in 1972, and finding himself attracted to the arts, enrolled at the University of Damascus in history. His dissertation was on the Great Syrian Revolt of 1925 and the rural chieftains who led it. For unknown reasons, he lost interest in the subject and instead, hired an expert to write it for him. His professors found out and failed him. Having no choice, he stayed on in graduate school, rewrote his dissertation, and obtained his degree in 1976.

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The Elders of Hollyweird

By Denis Schulz

(Written, directed, produced, authorized, authenticated, evaluated, comprised, inspected and denied by maxflackreport)

Less than a week after the election of George W. Bush in 2000 AD, the Elders of Hollyweird met at an undisclosed location to discuss what they considered to be a political catastrophe. They had met before-when Ronnie Reagan was elected and when the notorious Mr. Milhous had seized the Presidency in 1968. Those had been stirring times-calling for extreme measures-but now the cause of humanity was in jeopardy as never before. Capitalism was running amok; the religious right was threatening to tear down the wall between Jerry Falwell and the people’s government; the neocons were acting so much like liberals that Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean were looking and sounding more like George Wallace standing in the door of the schoolhouse than FDR; and the Iraq War was stripping them of what little was left of their progressive pretensions. Something had to be done.

So they met in the back lot of one of Roger Corman‘s old sets – Droid Gunner or Marquis de Sade; or it could have been in John D. Barrymore’s mausoleum. One undisclosed location is as good as another. A cemetery would have been the ideal spot-that’s where Elders are supposed to meet, but Susan Sarandon is afraid of ghosts. They cursed Elia Kazan and the House Committee on Un-American Activities and they praised Lionel Stander, the American Communist Party and the Screen Writers Guild and then got down to business.
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