Monday, December 05, 2016

Syrian civilians complain about how Syrian rebels shot at them

And CNN puts this banner to the story: "Syrians caught in a crossfire".  This is exactly how US media report shooting at civilians by Israeli occupation terrorists.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Amos Oz

I defy you to find me one negative unfavorable review of any of the books by Amos Oz EVER in an American publication. 

Using children as propaganda props

I know of no group or regime or movement which used children (as corpses or alive) as propaganda props like the Syrian rebels.  It is pretty nauseating.  

I bet he will profusely apologize: Syrian opposition figure, Michel Kilu, insults and mocks House of Saud

He insults and mocks Saudi king and princes in this audio tape.  I bet you that he will issue a statement in which he will apologize and claim that he was misunderstood.  

This is a conservative estimate of the victims of some recent US wars

Read the full report from Watson Institute at Brown University.  

On why Oxford University Press would publish Lister's book on ISIS

My college, Fred Lawson, sent me this (I cite with his permission):  "Just for the record, As'ad (if anyone still cares about facts these days), the Lister book was published originally by Hurst in London, which is not really an academic press.  It was then picked up by Oxford New York, which seems to have separate editorial policies and standards from those of the head office.  For years, Oxford New York has put out  titles that I'm sure would not pass muster with the staff and referees of the former Clarendon Press."

Iraqi poet Ma`ruf Al-Rasafi on the universe (from early 20th century)

وهل بكِ مثل هذه الارض ارض وفيها مثلنا متخالفونا
وهل هم مثلنا خُلقاً وَخَلقاً هناك فيأكلون ويشربونا
وهل هم في الديانة من خلاف نصارى أو يهود ومسلمونا

My translation: "And do you have an earth like this one, and does it contain people like us in conflict
And are they like us in creation and manners, and do they there eat and drink
And are they in religion in dispute, between Christians, Jews, and Muslims"

The movie, Arrival.

The movie, Arrival:  The premise of the movie (the visit of space ships from outer space to earth) is interesting but was typically ruined by Hollywood. But you only expect from Hollywood to ruin a good premise. The cast is excellent: I like Forest Whitaker and Amy Adams, but I don't like that actor who Michele keeps telling me proudly that he was born and grew up in Modesto (Jeremy Renner?).  Now without giving away the ending (Amy kills everyone at the end), here are my comments.  1) Why do space visitors always show more interest in US and Americans than other residents of earth?  2) Look.  The notion that only an American linguist would be able to communicate with them is silly, and she did not even devise a mechanism. She would write her name on a board in English and she kept repeating her name, Louise, to them. Why would they understand?  So if she wrote Louise in Arabic they also would get it? If people travel from one planet to another it is more likely that the travelers have a superior civilization than the residents of the destination planet.  Once they make that journey, they would not rely on hand gestures from Amy Adams to communicate with them (although the ships landed in other countries, but only Amy Adams was worthy of their attention).  3) space travel between people of different planets is quite difficult. Distances are quite prohibitive. Which means that you need to figure a way of traveling millions of light years without having to carry cumbersome gigantic tanks of highly inflammable fuels.  4) this is not to rule out life on other planets. Not at all.  But we need to think about life on other planets differently from the stupid Hollywood presentations.  At least the movie portrayed the visiting creatures differently.  And we need to think about different life forms.  The conventional view has been that for life to occur on a planet, we need to apply the standards of earth to humans: that you need plenty of water, and being not too close to the sun but not too far from the sun. But the discovery of Tardigrades (which can adjust to extremes in temperature) changed all that. It is most likely that there are forms of life on other planet: there is a trillion planet in this galaxy alone, and there are 2 trillion (not 200 billion as previously thought) galaxies out there.  And if you apply the Drake’s equation, there are many factors which enter into the calculations of number of civilizations in the Milky Way which could be communicating by radio signals.  5) the discussion of UFOs as in US popular culture, should be ruled out as too stupid.  It is not a coincidence as one astronomer once observed that all those who report UFO sightings are people who are extremely uneducated about science, and thus can be easily deluded and deceived.  Also, why do they always report that the visiting creatures of outer space interacted with earthy humans though anal probing? Is that the limit of their understanding of scientific research? Anal probing? The movie begins with a good premise and then got interested more in linguistics but not with too many interesting elements.  It failed, I think. 

Sally Field?

Oh, please. Don't cite Sally Field against Donald Trump. Sally Field's movie, Not Without my Daughter has more bigotry and racism than all the speeches of Donald Trump.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

The two dangerous academic and media consensuses on the Middle East in the West

There is the known Zionist consensus, and now we have the Syria consensus.  And the first consensus is responsible for the promotion and propagation of the second consensus.  

Bassam Haddad at AUB

For friends in Lebanon, Bassam was my student at Georgetown before he became a colleague and a dear friend. Go watch him--and don't throw shoes if you disagree--temptations of Arab culture notwithstanding.

This is the chief Syrian opposition negotiator: I am not making this up

He says: "Look, o Arabs, o Muslims at the Muslims sons of Arab Syria.  Being killed by the descendants of apes and pigs from Russia and Iran." With such Western supported opposition, you can rest assured Syria will be heading toward a secularism that we have never seen since the days of Salah Jadid or Anver Hoxa.  

Did the Syrian regime "create" Salafite Jihadism? Did the Jordanian regime "create" Salafite Jihadism?

Of course the answer is complicated and is certainly beyond the comprehension of the Daily Beast but this can be said: of course they were not created by regime but were used and manipulated by the Syrian regime (especially after 2003 US invasion of Iraq, although the manipulation fluctuated between repression of those groups and facilitation of their move into Iraq).  But this is what curious about Western media propaganda talking point about the subject: there is no regime in the region which has used and manipulated Islamists and particularly Salafite Jihads more than the Jordanian regime and yet: let me know if you can find ONE article in any Western media about Jordanian regime manipulation and sponsorship of those groups.  As you know, King Khusayn (as Shimon Peres called his dear friend) personally appeared on television and talked about his role in sponsoring Syrian Islamists during the 70s and 80s.  Today, the key ideologues of the ISIS and Al-Qa`idah are safe and sound in Jordan and the regime in fact facilitates their political activities when it suits its interests. But that is never ever in Western media. When it comes to the Middle East (and ever since the Syrian war) this is propaganda time.  No sober or rational analysis is welcome in Western media and to some degree in Western academia.  Read here about the recent activities of the chief of ideologue of Jihadi terrorism, Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi.  So those groups were not created by any regime per se as they rose in a context in which the left and Arab nationalists failed, and Sadat was the first to sponsor, along with Israel and US, conservative Islamists to use against their foes.  So there are underlying causes for their rise.  Those groups, however, have been used and manipulated by the Syrian regime and Jordanian regime and by GCC regimes but the notion that Syrian regime went as far as bombing itself to convince the West that it faces Jihadi terrorism is a story best suited for either Instabul cafes or for...The Daily Beast.

Castro and his victims: Let me count the ways

My weekly article in Al-Akhbar: "Castro and the Regurgitation of US Propaganda: Calculating the Victims".

Matt Taibbi reviews Thomas Friedman: quite delicious

"We will remember Friedman for interviewing 76 percent of the world's taxi drivers, for predicting "the next six months will be critical" on 14 occasions over two and a half years (birthing the neologism, "the Friedman unit"), and for his unmatched, God-given ability to write nonsensical metaphors, like his classic "rule of holes": "When you're in one, stop digging. When you're in three, bring a lot of shovels.""

How Charles Lister documented the Syrian regime's role in the creation of ISIS and Al-Qa`idah

This is not a joke.  And shame on Oxford University Press (one of my favorite publishers with whom I have had good relations as a teacher) for publishing this less than journalistic book.   But since the release of the trashy Daily Beast "investigation" about Syria (which should have been titled: Series about Chatter in Istanbul cafes), Charles Lister has been promoting on Twitter his book about ISIS and his chapter about the role of the Syrian regime in the creation of ISIS.  This is how exactly Lister documents his theory that Abu Al-Qa`qa` (of course, he screws up the name consistently in the book) was created by the Syrian regime, he says: "Certainly, in the days and weeks following his death, commentary across the Middle East was obsessed with the issue of the ISI being a creation of a hidden, mysterious and all-powerful intelligence bodies, including Syria's". (p. 43, of Lister, Charles, The Syrian Jihad: Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State And the Evolution of An Insurgency).  But what is the source of Lister's "all over the Middle East commentaries?  Here it is: Endnote 35: Abdul-Rahman Al-Rashed, "The Killing of Abu Al-Qaqaa` (sic), Ash-Shraq Al-Awsat, 3 October 2007, p. 398 of the book. Kid you not.  

Diaa Hadid of the New York Times is allowed by the Times to show sorrow for children---I am serious

Diaa Hadid has blocked me from Twitter but I am told that she has been allowed to express sorrow for Syrian children.  This is a correspondent who covers Palestine but would never dare to express sorrow for Palestinian children killed by Israeli occupiers.  

Clear tyranny: A Saudi regime writer says that "we" don't need democracy: that "clear tyranny" is better

الانتخابات عند العرب كقصور الرمال لأساس لها من حقوق وحريات يضمنها دستور وقانون. نحن في غنى عنها..استبداد واضح خير من ديموقراطية ناقصة..

Hizbollah article in Jacobin

The article on Hizbollah in Jacobin (which basically says that Hariri and March 14 were leading Lebanon toward a socialist republic but Hizbollah prevented them from doing so) offers a most original theory of what happened on May 7, 2008: "As explained by trade unionist Ahmad Dirani, Hizbullah’s military intervention was “aimed against the possibility of a large trade union and workers mobilization taking the lead against the government in a democratic way. Hizbullah did not favor this option.” Dirani argued that such a mobilization would not only have achieved social gains around economic issues but also could have addressed the threat to Hizbullah’s telecommunication system."  So the evidence is this one person. Can we know who this person is? What is his politics? And what is his evidence? Or evidence when it used in an argument against Hizbollah is not really important? "Reassessing Hizbullah’s Socioeconomic Policies in Lebanon," Joseph Daher, Middle East Journal, Summer 216., p. 412.  This is rather comical: so his entire (highly original theory which not even hard-core foes of Hizbullah in Lebanon have peddled) is based entirely on the opinion of ONE person, who just happens to be a political operative active in the political camp of Hizbullah's enemies of Lebanon.  The best part is this: this guy's dissertation on Hizbullah has been published (or will be published) by the University of Chicago Press, and one of the blurbs of the books says, to the effect that this is a good book because it is politically hostile to the agenda of the party.  I kid you not.  Look: there are legitimate and credible leftist critiques of Hizbullah but in Lebanon and Syria: there is a political propaganda effort to criticize Hizbullah for not being a leftist but from supporters of the Saudi regime. This is like whose in Lebanon and Syria who say: that they don't like Hizbullah because it is sectarian and not secular but they themselves are part of the Saudi coalition.  But politics aside, one expects scholarly documentation and substantiation and not accusations what are commonly leveled in Qatari regime and Saudi regime media. 

Friday, December 02, 2016

The richest administration in history

Daily Beast: your first source on foreign affairs now tackles Syria

"It should be noted that Awad al Ali’s judgment, while widely endorsed by top-level defectors from the Assad regime, is not shared by the U.S. government, which holds that Al Qaeda terrorists were behind the string of bombings. The CIA declined to comment."  Who cares. Keep telling us your stories from the cafes of Istanbul. We are riveted, man.  "The interview in an Istanbul cafe, his first, lasted six hours."  Did you drink coffee or tea? Please tell us more. You seem to have obtained deep knowledge of the Middle East in those cafe meetings.  And i don't know about you, but Youtube evidence has always impressed me: "One element in the evidence al Ali cited was a YouTube video shown at the time in which a military defector, identified as Lt. Abdulkader al Khatib, claimed that Syrian state security had requisitioned seven corpses to be brought to the scene of the first explosion."  Look: how many evidence do you need? One is enough for me but he produces more than one: "Another piece of evidence arguing that the bombings were staged, rebel supporters say, was the speed with which state television aired a report blaming al Qaeda for the attack." And there is more: "According to the two former officials, the bombings were timed in almost every instance to impress visiting diplomats."  But Amb Robert Ford has this to add to make the plot thicker: "Robert Ford, the former U.S. ambassador to Syria, said the bombing remains a mystery. “I don’t think we know how it was done,” he said."   Let me tell you this:  if someone deserve a Pulitzer for spending hours in Istanbul cafes, it is this writer of the series.  Cafe life is his calling.  Please encourage him not to quit.

How the DailyBeast (known for its sophisticated foreign policy knowledge) proved that Islamists were created by regime

What is hilarious about those accounts about how those Islamists did not really exist and that the regime created them is that: they never really explain why those organizations (the same ones or their ilk) exist also in every single Arab or even Muslim country.  They never tell us that. Did the Syrian regime like the Jordanian regime exploit those militant Islamists in the past? Of course, they have, just as the US did in the long years of the Cold war. But look at this investigation:  It even proves that the regime bombs itself as well: "the regime likely staged bombings of its own security facilities in 2011 and 2012 to foster the impression that al Qaeda had an armed presence in Syria long before it did. "  It also proves that Bashshar tried to assassinate himself many times as well.  But there is more: "Syrian intelligence has penetrated the leadership of extremist jihadist groups and at critical moments can influence their operations." So basically, ISIS and Nusrah really wanted to engage in peaceful struggle but that the Syrian regime forced them to behead and kill and maim. They never wanted to do that really.  But don't think that the account of the first rate professional journalism website, Daily Beast, is not substantiated or documented: it is very well-documented. You want evidence? Here is one: "That view is widely held in the region." But the writer really did his best to rely on neutral observers to bolster his case: "The regime said it was a response to activists’ demands to free political prisoners. U.S. intelligence officials, who spoke on background, offer a similar explanation. "  Did I not tell you that we are dealing with high journalism here?  And there are hard estimates involved: "Interviewed in a café in Istanbul’s popular Fatih district, which is now packed with Syrian refugees, he estimated that half the commanders in ISIS are working with the regime today".  You read this and want to scream: so ISIS and Nusrah are really misunderstood peaceniks who are manipulated by the sinister regime.  Oh, and the Jihadis like peaceful protesters: "One jihadist thanked Hakawati for helping organize the popular uprising. “It’s due to your demonstrations that we are all comfortable now,” he said."  This has been widely circulating in the last two days. I am not kidding you.  

Economist obituary of Castro: certainly not crazy like US newspapers

This is a fair assessment which is missing from ALL US accounts: "In the early days, at least 550 (and perhaps 2,000 or more) opponents of the revolution were executed. Many of them were Batista henchmen whose demise was popular. Once the revolution was secure, Mr Castro’s rule was repressive though not especially bloody. "

Mouin Rabbani on Syria: Trump's praise of Bashshar Al-Asad

Mouin says: "Yet his successor has heaped more praise on Damascus than any US president since the Ba’thists seized power in 1963."  Of course this is not true.  It is hardly true that Trump "praised" Bashshar as such.  In fact, Mouin would not have written this sweeping statement had he read the statements about Hafidh Al-Asad by Gerald Ford, or Bill Clinton, or George H.W. Bush, or Jimmy Carter in his retirement years..  They were certainly stronger in their praise.

What the language of Ken Roth of Human Rights Watch about Syria tells you about the biases of the organization

I noticed this yesterday.  When Human Rights Watch produces reports about human rights violations by US forces or by Israeli forces or by Saudi forces in Yemen, they always use the expression: "possible war crimes".  But notice that when it comes to Syria, they use a different more certain language.  Even in the case of rebels, they always say: "possible war crimes."

Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth)
Satellite imagery--950 bomb sites in a month--illustrates the extent of Russian-Syrian war crimes in eastern Aleppo.

When Western correspondents cover an event in the Middle East

Do you notice that they all sound alike and write the same stories and with the same terms of references and biases? I remember that in 2005, when Rafiq Hariri was killed and many Western correspondents gathered in Beirut: they all wrote the same narrative.  But at least there were Tony Shadid and Megan Stack who were free and independent.  I can't think of one today in Beirut writing about Syria. Not one.

Economist on Syria

Notice that it does not mention how the rebels have (in many cases) prevented civilians from leaving. There were scores of cases of protests by civilians against rebels and none were reported by the...Western correspondents of Beirut.  

Reviewing Amos Oz in the Washington Post

I have told you before: you will never read a negative review of any Israeli novel, or movie, or play, or restaurant, or even a potato in the US media.  I never ever have read a negative review of anything coming out of Israel.  This reviewer admits that the novel by Oz has no plot but then almost adds: but this is an Israeli author so I have to praise it and say how wonderful it is.

On Syrians who fled the rule of Syrian rebels

Your politics aside, none of the Western media or correspondents in Beirut (all saying the same things, of course) bothered to report on the accounts of Syrian people who fled East Aleppo. Their horror accounts about life under the rule of the rebels are just not consistent with the Western narrative of Syria.

Trump is not a racist, writes a Saudi regime columnist

Defending Trump in Saudi regime media is now a daily sport.  This Saudi regime columnist argues that Trump is not a racist and that he is not even hostile to Islam and his evidence is that he has dealt with Muslim businessmen.  

Chief Israeli collaborator, Mahmoud Abbas, orders the arrest of a Palestinian who wrote against Fath conference

Even writing on Facebook can get you in jail, in the mini-police (non)state of Ramallah.

The general commander of Ahrar Ash-Sham

It is rather stunning that Western government still list this organization as a moderate Syrian rebel group.  Liz Sly (who does not know Arabic) would probably claim that this words are pure secularism.   Watch "the engineer".

Somebody who is Hebrew speaking scrawled anti-Christian graffiti at a Christian cemetery in Kfar Yasif, Palestine

The writer is clearly Hebrew speaking and he/she left the written obscenities  to make them seem written by a Muslim Arab.  It must be the same Israeli government unit which produced the famous assassination teams in Dubai.

Anarchy and chaos in the Middle East: History of Western policies

You know there is a story about Anthony Eden (did you know that he studied Persian and Arabic at Oxford? He was good with languages because he also was fluent in French and German) told by Anthony Nutting: that when Eden was fuming about Nasser in 1956, he was warned that there is no government ready to replace him. Eden fumed and yelled: "I don't care if there is anarchy and chaos in Egypt." This utterance still applies in Western policies toward the Middle East.

The ADL is now very much like the Council of Experts in Iran: it will decide who is qualified to run for office

I can't stand Ellison and I never liked his views or his expression, and I think he is pathetic in his sincere or insincere groveling to Zionists over the years, but for the ADL to decide who is "qualified" to run for a job?

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Castro's mass killing and US academic restraint in talking about Cuba

Look at this careful and nuanced title in Foreign Policy about Castro:  "Fidel was hell".  I think the writer (a professor at a liberal college) thought that he was being witty.  It is not an article so much as it is shouting and hectoring.  And the cliches are the same.  All commentaries about Castro basically blamed him for the nuclear brink which the US brought the world to.  The man without nuclear weapons was blamed for threatening the nuclear power of the US.  Such is the discourse about Cuba in this country.  This country was never rational in talking about Cuba.  When Jorge Dominquez (of Harvard) wrote his massive book on Cuba in 1978, he was attacked by all sides in the US because he dared to express admiration (gently and mildly) for Cuba's social justice and its educational policies and because he did not use the standard cliched language about Cuba.  But ever since I stepped into the US, I knew all along that you are not supposed to be rational about Cuba. When the US was sponsoring and arming dictatorships all over the world, I remember reading years ago in the New York Times about human rights abuses in Cuba; I swear to you that the writer talked about how hostile graffiti was sprayed on the wall of a "dissident" in Havana.  The horrors.  And this dissident complained about that to the Times, which was very sympathetic.  I thought to myself: in most of the Gulf potentates of the US you can't even exist as a "dissident" in those countries.  But the recent articles about Cuba were just insane.  But let me stick to the notion that Castro (who was largely non-violently repressive) enacted mass killings in Cuba.  It says by the professor cited above: " Estimates of killings under his rule range from 6,000 to 17,000."  And I read the same range (and it is quite a range) in most US media.  But this got my attention: in all articles about Castro (including this one by the racist Richard Cohen of the Washington Post), the source is always the same.  They all are traced to the propaganda outfit called The Cuba Archive.  But the Cuba Archive (which has been run by former US officials) is as reliable and precise in its estimate as the various outfits that the US and EU and GCC have set up to produce estimates about victims in the Syrian war, like the Syrian Observatory, whose director last week said that he "documented" from London a chlorine gas use in Syria.  Kid you not. But how do they reach the number? For that you have to go this article from last year in the Wall Street Journal and you discover that in fact, in counting the victims of Castro, they include people who die from heart attacks in Cuban jails, an insanely exaggerated number of Cuban soldiers who died in overseas "adventures" (she gives the figure of 17000 when the actual figure is probably around 5000), and people who die from natural disasters. We are talking here about a propaganda campaign of calculations reminiscent of the lousy propaganda French book, The Black Book of Communism, where people who died of hunger an famine and people who die in civil wars and external wars are considered "victims of communism".  Castro in fact arrested some 1200 people after Bay of Pigs but they were not killed.  And those who were arrested were held only briefly.  HE could have killed the mercenaries that the US sent to kill and sabotage, but he didn't.  From what I can tell, the killings were a few hundreds after the victory of the revolution, when the US and others hired mercanries and killers to try to overthrow the regime.  Compare that to Batista who killed in excess of 20,0000 at least.  In one day in the US war on Iraq or in one hour in the US bombing of Tokyo in WWII, the US killed more civilians than Castro killed of non-civilians in his long years in power.  Counting the victims of enemy regime has been an art and a political business for the US, and for that you should never trust it.  Look how the right-wing Western proaganda talks about the victims of the French revolution: they count the victims of the civil war and the external wars on France.  This is like saying that Abraham Lincoln killed 620,000 Americans.  Who are you fooling? Also, do you know that in recent years, when US officials talked about "political prisoners" in Cuba, they were talking about people who can be counted on the fingers of two hands (or even less)? But Cuban-American fascists in Miami would beef up the numbers by counting as political prisoners every killer and rapist in Cuban jails.  

PS Of course, the worst propaganda about human rights comes out of Human Rights Watch. Its director tweeted replicas of US propaganda and then the organization reproduced its report documenting human rights violations in Cuba. Here is a sample: "One former prisoner said that in his six years in Cuban prisons, his food rations included a total of six eggs and"never a single piece of chicken.""  Do you have doubt that Cuba's prisons are superior to the US secret prisons around the world?

Hizbullah and the left

Of course, Hizbullah is not a leftist party.  It never matched its gently developed general rhetoric about social justice with its internal politics.  But this article in Jacobin basically implies: that Hariri (and there is no mention of the Hariri economy or of Hariri control of the economy--Hariri name appears in two passing references here) and everyone else in Lebanon was trying to enact Marxist policies but that only Hizbullah prevented them.  But most importantly: there is no substantiation whatsoever.  Look at this: "The party holds increasing weight in professional associations, and some companies, especially in real estate, tourism, and trade, under Hezbollah’s direct influence have gained power in the Lebanese business community. A new fraction of the bourgeoisie linked to the party through Iranian capital and investments was created, while the rest of the Shi’a fraction of the bourgeoisie, whether in Lebanon or in the diaspora, came increasingly under the umbrella of Hezbollah — or at least close to the party because of its political and financial powers. These characteristics of Hezbollah’s political representation and social base indicate that though the organization continues to draw support from all levels of society, its priorities are increasingly oriented to the highest strata."  And whenever someone in academia speculates about how much Iran funds Hizbullah per year or per hour, I express puzzlement: how can you substantiate that?  Look what he says about that without even a footnote: "Hezbollah’s sources of funding also explains its rather conservative economic program. The Islamic movement’s financial resources are based on support first from Iran (estimates range from $100 to $400 million a year) and then from the Lebanese Shi’a middle class and bourgeoisie, and the alms (zakât) collected by Hezbollah on behalf of Khomeini.".  How on earth does he find that out?  This reminds me when I asked the American author of the Middle East, Sandra Mackey about her assertion in her lousy book, The Saudis, that Saudis keep their clothes on when they have sex.  I asked her: how did you find that out, assuming it is true? She said: everyone knows that.   Also, look at this reference to that day of May 7th: launched armed attacks on pro-March 14 neighborhoods.".  That tells the whole study, does it not? But as far as polemical attacks on Hizbullah go, this is another one.

Essential to live in a democracy scale

Finally, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate tell me how to express my views.

I have always wanted to know how those corrupt clowns in the US Congress can guide me in the expression of my views.  Those racists, sexists, Islamophobes, and anti-Semites want to draw the parameters acceptable of political expression on Israel.  They tell me: 
  • Demonizing Israel by blaming it for all inter-religious or political tensions
  • Judge Israel by a double standard that one would not apply to any other democratic nation".  So for the 1st item, if I blame Israel for the Lebanese civil war in Lebanon and its prolongation, it would be anti-Semitic? What about blaming Israel for intensifying the conflict in South Sudan by arming for decades one faction over others? What about Israeli support for the monarchy in Yemen back in the 1960s? Would mentioning that be anti-Semitic?  Now for the second point: so how do I know in criticizing Israel that I am not guilty of double standards, i.e. anti-Semitism?  What if I couple criticism of Israel with criticism of Denmark, for example, would that protect the person from the anti-Semitic charge? 

Bidding farewell to the communist "dictator" in Cuba: I am sure Miami reactionaries are more popular, no?

If this was a pro-US client, like a Saudi King or Anwar Sadat (whose funeral was boycotted by all Egyptians) these pictures would be on the front page of all US newspapers.  Castro had more legitimacy and popularity than all of US clients in the Middle East.

Syria experts in the US

I was talking to one US Syria expert the other day.  Have you noticed that most established and seasoned Syria experts have been silent for the last several years.  Notice that there are new terrorism experts who now pose as Syria experts and those are the ones who are treated as Syria experts (and they usually are with Gulf funded or Zionist funded think tanks in the US and elsewhere).  But the known Syria experts are silent.  It is not easy, I maintain to challenge the dominant narrative on Syria.  I have argued before that it is easier for a US academic to use the term "apartheid Israel" than to bash Syrian rebels.  It is just not considered within the norms of acceptable discourse and for that many Syria experts are rather quiet.  And US media would rather hear from the likes of WINEP instant experts anyway.

Belén Fernández writes a delicious review of Thomas Friedman's new book: warning. It is too delicious

"In his new book, Friedman remarks briefly on the recent “flood” of unaccompanied children fleeing Central American violence — with no mention of the substantial role the United States itself plays in fueling such migration patterns via punitive economic and military meddlingin the region. According to Friedman, the situation boils down to this: “Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador are among the most environmentally degraded and deforested regions in Central America. They cut their forests; we got their kids.” It’s as simple as that, Kmart shoppers.  Never mind that the “they” cutting down their forests are less easily dismissed when one recalls Friedman’s favorable profiling of Canadian mining company CEOs implicated in Central American deforestation.  Let’s move on to Friedman’s treatment of the Arab/Muslim world, i.e. the point at which the generator under the next table leaps into bed with you, annihilating any prospect of tranquility and leaving you with only fantasies of a quick death."

Russian-Israeli alliance

One of the worst sins of any anti-Israel resistance group in the Middle East is to trust Russian intentions in the Middle East region.  Just as the Soviet Union betrayed Arab aspirations back in 1947, 1948, and 1967 and 1973 and 1982, this lousy Zionist Russian regime will betray Arab aspirations even more.  The notion that resistance Arab groups can trust Russian foreign policies in the region is one of the dumbest mistakes ever to be made.  This is like when the Russian prime minister visited Israel and signed various secret and non-secret deals with the occupation entity, and then they dispatched an assistant to the foreign minister to meet with Hasan Nasrallah.  I argue with people on this all the time but I maintain my stance: Hizbullah's involvement in Syria is not good for the resistance project at all.

Arab public opinion and Aleppo

This has been disproven: for several years, Western media (and governments) have parroted Arab Gulf regimes to the effect that Arab public opinion is now purely sectarian and thus, Arab potentates are now speaking on behalf of all Arab public opinion with the exception of Shi`ite and Christian infidels.  Yet, if you watch the Arab world today regarding what is happening in Aleppo, you read the following conclusion: Arab public opinion is not invested in what is happening.  To be sure, Gulf regime media are raising hue and cry while pro-Syrian regime media are sounding triumphalist.  But the bulk of Arab public opinion is really disengaged: I think that they are fed up with both sides and they feel that it is now in outside hands.  Otherwise, notice that there is no street mobilization or activism in any Arab capital on either side of the conflict.  

Imagine if a headline of a Western newspaper is: Israel MAY commit the worst massacre since WWII

"Aleppo could witness one of the worst massacres since World War Two, France warns"