Thursday, June 30, 2016

Jordan and Israel, Striving to Endure and Surmount Terror

"We have an extending of the network of ISIL in Jordan. It is a minority but it is very dangerous."
Mohammed Abu Rumman, extremists expert, Amman, Jordan

"Jordan is at a level just like any other societies in the world. [The government is challenged to reach and prosecute extremists to] make sure we have enough awareness in the society against these elements."
Mohammed Momani, Jordanian government official, Amman, Jordan
Any 'gesture of sympathy' with ISIL violates Jordan's anti-terror law, government officials say [AP]
"Things are getting worse and worse. What kind of future do we have here? What are we going to leave for our kids and young children?"
"[Although peace is elusive] still something can and should be done right now."
General Amnon Reshef, former commander, Israel armoured corps
Hundreds of Muslims on the Temple Mount, yelling and throwing objects, surround three Jewish men and their children, as about a dozen police officers try to hold back the angry crowd and evacuate the Jews -- Gatestone Institute:

Where in the Middle East is there no threatening presence of violent jihad? Even as governments of Islamic nations attempt to protect themselves against the infiltration of Islamic State operatives establishing bases in their countries, the Islamic State is succeeding in making a notable presence in those countries where no functional government exists that is capable of amassing a force required to destroy their viciously bloodthirsty presence.

Both Iraq and Syria have failed, enabling the Islamic State to venture well beyond a foothold, to establish the basis of their caliphate on vast tracts of land both of these countries were unable to prevent falling into the hands of the jihadists who have gone on to their program of ethnic and religious extermination of minority tribal groups unable to defend themselves from mass rape, murder and slavery. Libya and other African countries find themselves beset by ISIL.

Epidemics of viral violence are all too common in the Middle East, thanks to viciously fractious relations resulting from traditional historical tribal antipathies and sectarian hatred. The madrassas that Saudi Arabia funded to aid in the prosetylization of their brand of Wahhabist Islam has bred a Salafist-pure lust for a return to the Islam of the 7th Century with its unbridled violence in conquest to prosecute surrender to Islam, when assassinations of rivals was rampant.

Jordanian authorities are attempting to impose state security to identify and imprison Jordanians who express through social media their support for the Islamic State; any links to ISIL brings suspects in for questioning under anti-terror laws. Recent attacks and suspicions have surfaced the reality that homegrown extremism is as much and more of a concern in Jordan and elsewhere as it is in the West with its own problems echoing those of the Middle East.

A suicide attack emanating from Syria detonated a car bomb close by a Jordanian border post targeting and killing soldiers in the kingdom. The problems besetting the Middle East with its proliferation of jihadist violence has become a global concern. According to an understatement from U.S.-based analyst David Schenker, recent increases in jihadi activity "points to a threat that is not insignificant".

Jordanians returning from Afghanistan where the faithful were called to defend Islam against the occupation of Soviet troops, brought back with them the message so beloved of fanatic Islamists. An estimated ten thousand jihadi Salafists are present in Jordan and loyal to ISIL, with roughly two thousand fighting in ISIL and al-Qaeda ranks in Syria and Iraq.

Israel is not an island to itself, secure and at peace as a Jewish state dedicated to the safety and security of Jews while remaining a haven for ethnic and religious and ideological and gender minorities, singling it out as an anomaly in an otherwise-Muslim geography where Christians, gays, tribal and religious minorities are oppressed, threatened and murdered.

Palestinian Arab young men with masks, inside Al-Aqsa Mosque (some wearing shoes), stockpile rocks to use for throwing at Jews who visit the Temple Mount, September 27, 2015. Gatestone Institute:

But it is a nation aspiring even now to fulfill the biblical prophecy that it is meant to be a 'light unto the world' by welcoming plural diversity, protecting the vulnerable, upholding universal ethics of equality and human rights through its judiciary. And frustrated ultimately in an unending series of military and guerrilla attacks against the state and its people, unable to bring peace and security either within the state or to the region.

While Jordan, long a key ally in the region to the West is struggling to contain the jihadi elements that threaten its stability, Israel has long been beset by differing attitudes on how best to contain the threats that endanger the state and its population both from within and without. Now, over 200 retired leaders representing the nation's military, police, spy agency and security service have devised a plan to end what is viewed as the occupation of the Palestinians.

The solution they bring to the excruciating dilemma is nothing new. It is for the absolute abandonment of any West Bank presence, in a desperate hope that there would not be a repeat of what occurred when the decision was made to abandon its presence in Gaza. Yet given the explosive mass temperament of tribal psyches allied with the viral message of jihad in the Koran it is difficult to see what else could be anticipated under those circumstances.

Israel's six million Jews, goes the thought, must detach themselves from the equivalent number of Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza. To do so, goes the wishful thinking, would result in the mass pacification of the Palestinian Arabs who would no longer have a 'reason' to view Israel and its Jews as threats to their own aspirations as a nascent nation, one with no legitimate heritage in the region to match that of Israel's, but whom constant historical rewrites have convinced they do have.

Both the relatively moderate Arab nation of Jordan whose citizens consist of minority Bedouin originally from Saudi Arabia, and the far less-inclined-to-moderation majority Palestinians who make up the greater bulk of Jordan's population, and the Jewish state with its population mixture, hope against hope that good intentions and a determination to endure and to persevere will gain them the existential advantage they hope for.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Differentiating Approved Brands of Islamist Terrorists

"If the Islamic State is indeed behind this attack, this would be a declaration of war. This attack is different: the scope, impact and deaths of dozens in the heart of the country’s economic capital. It will have widespread ramifications [and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has depicted himself as a strong, conservative leader] cannot afford to let this go."
"They [the Turkish government and Islamic State] went from a cold war to a limited war and are now moving towards full-scale war."
"This would represent a significant escalation by the Islamic State toward Turkey. This is a symbolic attack against the heart of Turkey."
Soner Cagaptay, director, Turkish Research Program, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Investigators remove a body after the attack.
CNN -- Istanbul Airport Attack
Turkey is at war now on two fronts. Initially Recep Tayyip Erdogan saw himself countering the Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad, in support of the Syrian Sunni rebellion against the Shiite Baathist tyranny that oppressed Syria's majority Sunni population. Erdogan found it simple enough to tolerate, if not actively aid the growing influence of Islamic State militants who found Turkey's willingness not to notice their presence in Turkey very useful indeed.

When Islamic State took possession of Syrian oilfields Turkey made itself equally useful as a conduit for the blackmarket fossil fuels whose sales contributed hugely to Islamic State's war chest. But even before then, Turkey viewed the rebels and the rise of the Islamic State as worthy of support in their battle against the Syrian regime. And when the Kurds in Syria and Iraq fought off the Islamic State, Turkey had its own reasons for supporting the terrorist group, in view of its ongoing PKK separatist dilemma.

He hoped that the enclave in northern Syria for the Kurds would be destroyed by the terrorist militias which had already demoralized the Syrian and Iraqi militaries to the point where they preferred to decamp rather than confront ISIL, and in the end left it to scoop up major cities and oil fields into their caliphate. President Erdogan was uneasy at the very thought of Syria's YPG Kurds establishing geographic independence, as a certain goad to the Turkish PKK agitating for a sovereign area of their own in opposition to Turkey's refusal to part with any portion of the land it clings to.

The ISIL fighters found their comfort zone in Turkey's relaxed attitude to their presence. Turkey was seen as an assured weapons route, a safe corridor for recruits and supplies aided and abetted by deliberately lax enforcement allowing the militants to establish networks within Turkey, while simultaneously establishing their caliphate across huge swaths of Iraq and Syria. Under pressure from NATO however, Turkey was forced to join the U.S.-led coalition and to allow U.S. aircraft into Incirlik Air Base.

The second shoe dropped when Turkey decided that the peace agreement with its Kurdish PKK was dispensable after the Kurdish political party gained too much influence through a popular general election vote, giving it authority and powers to confront Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, keeping it from the majority it wanted to enable Erdogan's position as president to alter the country's constitution to give the presidency greater powers and longevity in office.

Since then, there have been a number of suicide attacks in Turkey, some for which the PKK was clearly responsible; attacks on the military and police, and others the work of the Islamic State jihadists targeting crowded civilian areas for maximum death counts. The latest attack hit Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport, and the modus operandi is that of the Islamic State. Three terrorists armed with automatic rifles evaded security to shoot up the entrance to the airport before the three detonated their suicide vests.

The death toll may yet rise, but it stood at 41, with 147 people injured. Since this is Europe's third largest airport, though the bulk of the dead and injured were Turks, the international community was also hit, travelling on through Turkey into Europe. "What is noteworthy is that this attack came at a time when our country is putting up a merciless fight against separatist terrorism and recording significant success", said Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. What Syria's Assad and Turkey's Erdogan have in common is their characterization of those rebelling against them as terrorists.

Turkey is bearing the brunt of a catastrophe partly of its own making. It is an Islamist government which holds the Muslim Brotherhood in great esteem and supports the terrorist Gaza group Hamas as a legitimate political movement even as both the Brotherhood and Hamas's endgame is the destruction of the State of Israel. Which alone characterizes them through intent as terrorists, while their violent destruction aimed at the country and its Jewish population consolidates their identity as terrorists.

So Turkey identifies the Kurdish militias intent on finally establishing their own sovereign country in their heritage, indigenous geography as terrorists, while supporting violent terrorism against Israel whose continuous historical presence in the Middle East cannot be construed as other than indigenous. The logic of the Islamist mind is convoluted and unreceptive to reason, while clasping tribal and religious illogic and violent emotional and physical responses as justified.

"For the terrorist organizations, there's no difference between Istanbul and London, Ankara and Berlin, Izmir and Chicago, Antalya and Rome", said Turkey's Erdogan. And he's certainly correct in that statement. But he differentiates between terrorists, content on his belief that the  terrorist Islamists whose vision he supports are not terrorists but rather conscientious Muslims whose purpose is misunderstood by the West, while those whom the West is aiding and calling rebels, are the terrorists whom Erdogan despises.

"The probability of copycat attacks goes way up high after one of those attacks. From a terrorist perspective, Brussels was a success. You can see how they would be motivated to copy that", offered Hans Weber, aviation consultant, adviser to the U.S. federal government on airport security.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Getting It Right

"I cannot stress too much that Britain is part of Europe, and always will be. There will still be intense and intensifying European co-operation and partnership in a huge number of fields: the arts, the sciences, the universities and on improving the environment. EU citizens living in this country will have their rights fully protected, and the same goes for British citizens living in the EU."
"There is every cause for optimism; a Britain rebooted, reset, renewed and able to engage with the whole world. This was a seismic campaign whose lessons must be learnt by politicians at home and abroad. We heard the voices of millions of the forgotten people, who have seen no real increase in their incomes, while FTSE-100 chiefs now earn 150 times the average pay of their employees. We must pursue actively the one-nation policies that are among David Cameron's fine legacy, such as  his campaigns on the Living Wage and Life Chances. There is no doubt that many were speaking up for themselves."
"But they were also speaking up for democracy, and the verdict of history will be that the British people got it right."
"It's clear now that project fear is over, there is not going to be an emergency budget, people's pensions are safe, the pound is stable, the markets are stable, I think that's all very good news."
Boris Johnson, Conservative Member of Parliament, former London mayor

    A copy of the London Evening Standard with the headline 'We're Out' is put out in the trash on Friday.
    A copy of the London Evening Standard with the headline 'We're Out' is put out in the trash on Friday. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

"We should hold fast to a vision of Britain that wants to be respected abroad, tolerated at home, engaged in the world and working with our international partners to advance the prosperity and security of our nation for generations to come."
"I have fought for these things every day of my political life and I will continue to do so."
British Prime Minister David Cameron
Stock markets declined right across Europe in response to the shock waves of the European Union losing one of its political-economic anchors in a deliberate choice made by a slender majority of Brits voting to leave its union with 27 other European countries. The pound plummeted to a new 31-year low, then dropped another 3.5 percent. Despite the buoyant interpretation by Boris Johnson who may become the next British prime Minister.  On the other hand, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is determined to avoid an austerity budget.

"We are prepared for whatever happens. Our recovery is about as strong as it could be to face this challenge", stated Mr. Osborne. An influential business group has stated it believes 20 percent of its members had plans to take some operations away from the United Kingdom. A survey of the Institute of Directors, of its thousand members, indicated that 75 percent feel Britain's leaving the EU will translate into a poor business decision. A quarter of them announced their intention to freeze hiring, while five percent felt it was time to cut jobs.

    Traffic on London's Regent Street the morning after Britain voted to leave the European Union.
    Traffic on London's Regent Street the morning after Britain voted to leave the European Union. (Marc-André Cossette/CBC)
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The EU's heavy hitters, France, Italy and Germany saw agreement between Francois Hollande, Matteo Renzi and Angela Merkel that "we agree there will be no formal or informal talks", to gently usher Britain out of the EU without the British government proffering an official plan to leave, through invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which gives it a two-year period to clear out. That two-year respite during which Britain hoped to be able to negotiate favourable economic conditions for continued internal EU trade doesn't appear to find favour with a jilted EU.

And elsewhere in the membership of the European Union? In Berlin, voters are increasingly backing the Alternative for Germany party whose manifesto calls for the dissolution of the EU. "I understand the British", said 58-year-old Ralf Gotthardt. "Decisions are just being made over our heads, and we need a referendum. The English did the right thing." He cites washing machines that "break after only two years", obviously not manufactured in Germany. And the goods and services whose costs have risen.

He also faults the EU for its failure to construct a workable blueprint to deal with the volume of migrants entering from the Middle East, attributing a steep rise in crime, as a byproduct of the free flow of internal immigrants across and through European borders. According to a poll by the Pew Research Center, the extent of the citizen backlash is poorly understood by the EU. It is the populations, not necessarily the governments, in eastern Europe; Poland and Hungary, who support the EU.

Not the French, however, whose distrust and dislike of the EU surpasses the British. A majority of Greeks, Swedes, Dutch, Germans, Italians and French insist on a return of some EU powers co-opted from their national governments. The tight integration, disposal of internal borders, the common euro currency, appear to have failed the test of national pride. European Union rules infuriate many, including bakers in Scandinavia, when the EU attempted to limit cinnamon in baked goods to 15 milligrams per kilogram of dough.

Regulations relating to "bendy bananas", referring to a EU requirement that bananas be "free from malformation or abnormal curvature", elicited ridicule universally. "We must ask the question of whether so many decisions need to be taken in Brussels. It's simply too much. I don't think this is what the people of Europe want", pointed out Gunter Verheugen, former EU commissioner from Germany. But even from among the EU commissioners there is no common front.

"There's this anti-elite thing, populist movements, facts do not count. You have to do what is needed; do not be afraid of the populists. You have to prove that their accusations are wrong", countered Elmar Brok, a German member of the European Parliament. And in that vein British Prime Minister David Cameron mused on the possibility of a second referendum -- as a decision for the next prime minister to make. Allowing a "very strong case" for remaining in the single market, unlikely without bending to unlimited numbers of migrants from the Continent.

Which is precisely another of the main reasons propelling the vote to exit the EU. And which Mr. Cameron acknowledged when he stated that the exit vote did not represent "the outcome that I believe is best for the country I love. But it has to be respected." In respecting that slender majority voting to leave, it is implicit that the EU's insistence that access to the single market comes with free movement; precisely what voters rejected.

Now Britain must turn its attention to persuading Scotland and Northern Ireland to remain in Great Britain.

    A man takes a copy of the Daily Record newspaper reporting on the pro-Brexit result of the UK's EU referendum vote. The paper included an image of Scotland's First Minister and Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Nicola Sturgeon. London, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union but Wales and large swathes of England backed a Brexit.
    A man takes a copy of the Daily Record newspaper reporting on the pro-Brexit result of the UK's EU referendum vote. The paper included an image of Scotland's First Minister and Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Nicola Sturgeon. London, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union but Wales and large swathes of England backed a Brexit. (Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)
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Fairness In Education

"The traditional Chinese dream is the hope of advancement for children through a relatively open, meritocratic and egalitarian system."
"Outrage is triggered when there's a perception that this is being challenged."
Carl F. Minzner, professor of law, Fordham University, New York
The Communist government in Beijing has a gargantuan task to satisfy the aspirations, needs and hopes of the population of the world's most populous country. Han Chinese have proven they are adept and capable. There is a long tradition of scholarship, of arts and crafts of innovation. Known for the creation of gunpowder, paper making, printing and the navigational compass, it's a rather thin record for an ancient society to gloat over inventing.

But there is a long and honoured tradition in China of rewarding plum positions in government on the basis of merit, where elsewhere, say in Japan for comparison, positions were conventionally and historically granted not on merit but on membership in the aristocracy. The socialist mind appears to have cast itself on the perceived problem of fairness in admissions to university. And the Chinese mind is well recognized for its capacity to learn and develop.

Government officials recently announced a plan to admit students on a larger scale coming from impoverished areas of the country, and consequently fewer would be admitted to local universities if they come from the great burgeoning cities like Nanjing. No doubt rural dwellers rejoice, but those living in the Chinese megalopolises would be far less inclined to, since it means declining opportunities for their offspring.

What is considered "fair" in opening opportunities to the less fortunate, is seen, naturally enough, as "unfair" to the deserving who live in crowded cities. The result has been that parents from about two dozen Chinese cities have launched protests denouncing the government's attempts to expand access to the less socially and economic fortunate. The Communist Party is faced now with a fierce backlash resulting from class conflict.

University admissions process is a cutthroat process at the best of times, a source of stress and concern. Now this additional complication has infuriated parents who see their children's educational prospects dimmed. In China, top schools are located in large, prosperous cities, situated on the coast. Underfunded, less desirable schools are located in the country's interior.

A single national exam, called the gaokao is administered across the country, a test so vital to the fate of a individual many parents prepare their children to write it even before they enter kindergarten. Space at universities is reserved for students coming from a city or province so that applicants from outlying areas find it difficult to be admitted to the best schools. This new initiative was seen as a partial solution, admitting underrepresented regions to top colleges.

A record 140,000 spaces representing roughly 6.5 percent of places in top schools was set aside by the Ministry of Education in the spring for students from provinces that are lesser developed. Because space is not infinite, the ministry informed that schools would be forced to admit fewer local students as a result. In a city a few hours' drive from Beijing parents are angry with government and the urban elite.

"When they need water, land and crops, they come and take it. But they won't let our kids study in Beijing", fumed electrician, 42-year-old Lu Jian. President Xi Jinping now faces a delicate challenge to defend the "China Dream" of fairness in educational opportunities for his vast population. Mr. Xi's government is attempting to ease the frustration in evidence in poorer areas through educational, health care and social services investment.

At the risk of alienating the urban middle class. Hundreds of new institutions of higher education have been installed over the past several decades with university enrolment surging to 26.2 million in 2015 from 1998's 3.4 million. This, even while the economy is now struggling, and job prospects have diminished for college graduates, leaving parents concerned about their life savings being wasted on substandard schools, forcing them to strive to have their children admitted into better ones.

The gaokao is a test that was modelled on the old imperial civil service exam and intended to enhance social mobility, opening universities to anyone who scored high enough to qualify. Universities in Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing have the reputation of producing graduates most likely to find jobs, while they're the most difficult to get admission into.

"When students from Beijing get into top universities and our students [attending inferior schools, poorly funded and inadequately staffed] fail to do so, some become migrant workers. Who is to blame?", demanded an open letter circulated by parents in Henan Province.

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Censuring the Abusers

"Citizens around the world listening to today’s debate have reason to be confused. For never before in the history of the United Nations have the pronouncements made here been more disconnected to reality.
In here, we have been told by various Middle Eastern nations that Israel is the greatest violator of the rights of health, women, equality and the environment."
"In reality, Israel, with all its flaws, is the only country in the Middle East whose hospitals treat Palestinians and Israelis; Jews, Muslims and Christians; the only country in the Middle East that respects women’s rights; the only country in the Middle East that respects the rights of minorities; and the only country in the Middle East that is a world leader in developing vital technologies such as desalination, water treatment, and drip irrigation."
"In here, Syria, Libya, Yemen are some of the countries that lecture on human rights. In reality, many of these are not even countries any more."
"Mr. President, Let us be clear. Israel should be subject to criticism like any other country. But Israel is not treated like other countries. No other country has an entire agenda item devoted to it—not even Syria, not even North Korea."
"There is, however, one silver lining today—the countries who did not speak. Democracies, like France, Germany, UK, the U.S., Canada, made the decision not to take the floor because this agenda Item singles out one country, Israel, for what Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon himself denounced as selective and unfair treatment. Today is just one of many devices employed here at the UN that cross the line from legitimate criticisms of Israel’s policies to attempts to delegitimize the state of Israel itself."
"Here at the United Nations, where the majority faction has the power to decide whatever it wants, and where the minority faction has no judicial recourse, no right of appeal, no remedy, democracies have protested this injustice in the only way possible."
"In 1968, René Cassin, at the 20th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which he helped to create, left early in protest at the singling out of Israel."
"Today, on the 10th anniversary of the Human Rights Council, the free world has protested the vilification of Israel by not showing up at all."
Hillel Neuer, Executive Director, UN Watch
The United Nations functions as a hotbed of international dysfunction, where resolutions are meaningless, couched in language meant to demonize not the countries who specialize in routinely practising human rights abuses, countries that oppress their populations under tyrannical governments but are nonetheless elected by one another through cliques like the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to the UN's Human Rights Commission.

This mutual support ensures that some of the world's most abusive regimes are represented on the UNHRC, a disgrace whose absurdity culminates in the never-ending condemnation of one sole nation in the world which exists as a vibrant democracy devoted to pluralist equality in a geographic sea of tyranny, repression and abuse. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has never given up its attempts to have the United Nations declare any criticism of Islam to represent a fundamental human rights assault.

A week earlier, Egypt wrote to the president of the 193-member General Assembly of the UN on behalf of the 51-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation objecting to the participation of 11 gay and transgender organizations attending a meeting of the United Nations on ending AIDS. A protest followed, led by the United States, Canada and the European Union. Although no reason was given for excluding the 11 gay and transgender groups the reason is obvious enough; in Islam such groups can elicit a death penalty.

In celebration of the tenth anniversary of the re-naming of the Human Rights Commission, from its previous incarnation as an institute corrupted by its own membership where countries like China, Russia, Venezuela, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Cuba, Saudi Arabia are regularly elected from the general body of the United Nations to sit in sanctimonious judgement on nations whose values include firm legal sanctions against human rights abuse internally and internationally, yet another absurdity has taken place.

On this auspicious occasion of the anniversary, the 22-nation Arab League saw fit to yet again single Israel out for condemnation. Syria, a country whose president has authorized his military to attack Syrian civilians, extracting a wholesale death toll in the hundreds of thousands, and causing millions of Syrians to flee for safety, has accused Israel of exploiting "terrorism to continue to occupy parts of the Arab territories, including helping the terrorists and carrying them to their hospitals and providing them with health treatment."

Referring to Israeli hospitals treating ill and wounded Syrians fleeing the atrocities their own government has inflicted on them through chemical attacks and barrel bombs. Qatar, the oil-rich sheikdom that supports the terrorist group Hamas, spoke of Israel's "violence and terrorism worldwide." Iran, the supporter of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, took the opportunity on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement to condemn "Israel’s ongoing illegal colonization."

Pakistan, which supports and gives haven to the Afghan Taliban responsible for countless deaths in Afghanistan, and which hosted Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, had its opportunity as well to condemn Israel for  "its cynical discourse of being victimized and singled out at the UN", while being guilty of  "occupation, apartheid and colonization, in its policies of apartheid." Saudi Arabia which has used its vast oil wealth to fund madrassas all over the world, teaching its Wahhabist form of Islam favoured in the creation of violent jihadists excoriated Israel for subjecting Palestinians to "the worst forms of terrorism, oppression and intimidation."

Algeria, Venezuela, Kuwait, Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon all countries who know how to put down insurrections, had the opportunity to condemn the State of Israel for its "heinous crimes" in "contin[uing] to kill Palestinians in an arbitrary manner, confiscating lands and destroying homes", and its "indiscriminate use of force by Israeli forces against Palestinians and destruction of vital Palestinian infrastructure, and the killing and extrajudicial killing of Palestinian civilians including children".

Libya's charge that Israel is guilty of "wanton murder", from its perspective as a tribal basket case of vengeful militias spoke as well of the "Judaisation of Jerusalem", and Lebanon's accusations, censuring Israel for continuing "to flout all humanitarian values and international instruments" identifying it as "a real enemy to peace and security", further edified the gathered, particularly coming from a country where Christian, Shiite, Sunni and Druze militias were dwarfed in their violence by the surfacing of Hezbollah.

And then, there was Oman, casting aggrieved blame on Israel for all that has gone wrong in the Middle East because "peace and war in the region has the Palestinian problem at its core".
Even the European Union was censured for its absence, since its delegates walked out of the flaying session aimed once again at Israel as the EU's absence was identified by Oman as evidence of "a politicized alliance in support of one party", without so much as a blush.

Might it be ventured that the spirit of dominion of Islam over all other pretenders to religious piety, aligned with a sense of vengeance could be the motivating force here? Just as terrorists deliver their message of intent to dominate through inspiring fear and dread, the Islamic countries and their supporters revel in ongoing attacks to cause humiliation through slander.

The psychic state of terror towered over by a spiritual cause, reflecting a sense of injury. That injury represented by a democratic nation whose religion is not that of Islam but which has absorbed into its borders a multitude of other ethnic and ideological groups and religious minorities to offer them the comfort of inclusion and security.

Which the Baha'i, for example, an offshoot of a kinder, gentler Islam could not find in Iran, when it decided to headquarter itself in Israel. And where gay pride parades can take place in a sense of equality and safety denied that community anywhere in the Arab and Muslim world. That Arab and Muslim world whose collective sense of outrage at the morals and values and safeguarding of human rights leads it to ventilate its rage in the international temple of peace, brotherhood and human rights.

Aaron Magid, June 12, 2016, Tel Aviv

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Divided Loyalties and Ultimate Consequences in Iraq

"The Islamic State, meanwhile, has inserted itself into tribal life, recruiting members to its organization, committing atrocities, and causing pro– and anti–Islamic State splits within tribal ranks.
Similarly, since the Islamic State, also known by its Arabic acronym Daesh, has swept into power over large swaths of Iraq territory, a range of new actors is now purporting to be tribal leaders. The competing claims to legitimacy cause intratribal conflict over where the leadership of the various tribes rests. The Islamic State took advantage of the fact that Maliki’s government did not adequately compensate the tribes and thus did not maintain tribal distribution networks. As such, it was able to infiltrate tribes by providing members with money, land, and weapons. The tribal leaders were unable to keep command of their tribes, as the Islamic State attracted tribesmen with better compensation. As a tribal adviser in Ramadi lamented, Daesh 'presented better funding opportunities'."
"Today, there is not one tribe that does not have or has not had members affiliated with or supportive of the Islamic State. Many tribes have been split into pro- and anti-Daesh memberships. Tribes affiliated with the Islamic State have committed offenses against opposition tribes. For instance, after the Islamic State takeover of Ramadi, tribal forces executed Sheikh Majid Ali al-Suleiman and twelve of his relatives, including a two-year-old girl."
Renad Mansour, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

"I never would have imagined my simple, naive, quick-tempered brother would turn into a human monster."
"[Text message from his brother Hatim read] You chose the path of hell, and I chose the path of heaven."
Abu Anas, Diyala Province, Iraq
The Islamic State
"This is the last time we are going to go into Falluja. There is not going to be any appeasement. The Sunnis who liberate Falluja are going to govern Falluja."
"The tribal fighters don't even know how to pray. They like their booze and they enjoy life. They are motivated by two things: money and power."
Mouwafak al-Rubaie, Shiite politician, Iraq
When General Petraeus hit on the solution to the presence of al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2006 by persuading Sunni Iraqis tribesmen to strike back against the atrocities committed by al-Qaeda by agreeing to form Sunni militias trained and armed by the U.S., the Sunni Awakening was born which resulted in a rout of al-Qaeda from Iraq. With the withdrawal of U.S. troops and the handing over of the U.S.-supported Sunni militias to the Iraqi Shiite-led government, however, there was a refusal to incorporate the Sunni militias into the Iraqi military and a consequent belittling of the Sunnis.

Sunni Iraqis had more than ample reason to resent the majority Shiite Iraqis in the seat of power which had once been theirs under the Baathist government of Saddam Hussein. The American decision immediately post-invasion of Iraq to swiftly disband the Baathist-majority military led to aggravated resentment when former Sunni military elite found themselves unemployed. It was inevitable that in time they would be ready and eager to integrate themselves with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as senior commanders and advisers.

And although Sunni Iraqis suffered when Shiite militias freed towns and villages from the grip of Islamic State in the last year, unleashing a wave of raging violence by the Shiites against Sunni villagers, some were still persuaded to throw in their lot with Baghdad, while others remained in support of ISIL. This is how families were rent apart when brothers and cousins, uncles and parents cleaved to opposite ideologies; some going to fight with ISIL and others incorporating themselves into the Iraqi military.

The sectarian, ethnic fracture that is now reality in Iraq is not just between the majority Shiites, Sunni and Kurds, but between Sunnis as well, divided in their loyalties. Where once Sunnis were offered cash incentives by the Americans to fight alongside them to defeat al-Qaeda, Islamic State now offers financial compensation to Sunnis already aggrieved by their inferior status in a majority-led Shiite government, to join Islamic State.

Brigadier General Hadi Razaij is the leading Sunni police commander in the campaign to take Falujah by storm from Islamic State. He speaks of the resistance that the Iraqi forces met, resulting from the Islamists' opportunity to prepare themselves for months ahead of this major battlefield. But there is a local Sunni presence in the military, fighting for the liberation of their communities. And with that joining of Sunni forces to the Shiite forces, is a diminishing of the fears that a sectarian backlash would ensue.

On the other hand, it seems increasingly more likely that a intrasectarian backlash is in the offing. The governor-in-exile of Mosul, Nowfat Hammadi, is planning, alongside the U.S., for the city's liberation. As it happens, his brother appears in a video pledging allegiance to Islamic State as an Islamic State official, taking the opportunity to disown his brother. The alliance between Shiite and Sunni in the military appears to answer the question whether the two are capable of existing in a unified state.

Now the question becomes: might the country's divided Sunnis present an altogether different equation, unable to live in peace between themselves in reflection of a conflict where families are divided in their loyalties? Iraqi Sunnis fighting against the Islamic State do so in full knowledge that their sons and brothers, nephews and neighbours are fighting with Islamic State. "Today we don't necessarily need reconciliation between Sunnis and Shiites. We need reconciliation among one sect", observed General Razaij.

"If I catch him during the battles, I will kill him with my own hands because he is a criminal", stated Salih Ibrahim Sharmoot, a policeman from Fallujah fighting at the southern edge of the city, speaking of his brother Muwafaq who joined ISIL in 2013. Millions of Sunnis were displaced when fighting between government forces and ISIL took place across the dominant Sunni geography of Iraq. When General Razaij was asked whether peaceful reconciliation was possible between Sunnis, he responded: "Never. For those who slaughtered Iraqis, it's a crime for them to live."

A pattern of radicalization took place following the 2003 invasion and the following Sunni insurgency. Studying the Koran and plotting jihad, Sunnis incarcerated in prisons in the country, operated by the United States, reflected the widespread protests of aggrieved and radicalized Sunnis. These were the future prospects for exploitation by the Islamic State, to form the bulk of their membership of dedicated fighters.

On the other hand, thousands of Sunni tribal fighters and local policemen motivated in part through revenge for the devastation brought by the Islamic State to their communities, saw fit to join government security forces and to make common cause with Shiite militias in the fight for Fallujah.
All of which led prominent Shiite politician Mouwafak al-Rubaie to predict a bloody intra-Sunni battle once the city of Fallujah is completely liberated and left in Sunni hands.

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

"Taking Britain Back"

"A lot of people perceive that immigration has produced a huge cultural threat to the English traditions, way of life, Judeo-Christian religious traditions, and all those things. It's not politically correct to talk about it, but they are really concerned. Immigration was huge in this referendum."
"Negative attitudes towards immigration were a huge driver of Leave voting. That's something that's been building for years."
Harold Clarke, professor political economy, University of Texas, Dallas

"They mean back from Johnny Foreigner, back from the brink, back from the future."
"It's snorting a line of the most pernicious and debilitating Little English drug, nostalgia."
A.A. Gill, The Times of London
Slightly more immigrants coming to Britain are from outside the EU, net figures show.

There is London, the exemplary cosmopolitan European city of sophisticates, crowded with pluralism that has overturned tradition and culture, values and the sense of history that permeates the mindset of most Brits. The workforce in the city is heavily represented by youthful residents who know nothing of life outside the European Union, so boringly long ago when visas were required to visit Germany, Spain, Belgium, Slovakia. These are the smart young people who can pick up and travel at will, see their wider world, revel in cultural differences, show off their smarts.

Their world has just been turned inside-out and upside-down, and they desperately want the opportunity to rework the referendum, give it another go. Have the vote on a day when London isn't beset by tornado-like winds and rain and flooding, and the inclination to remain indoors, not forge their way outside to make an effort to go to the polls, some of which were forced to close down in any event, due to the inclemency. It was as though nature herself conspired against their futures. And as youth is prone to remark "it just isn't fair!"

London certainly appreciated the service industry represented by the movable feast of skilled and unskilled workers flooding the city and its environs. Of course those foreign workers also gravitated to places outside the urbanity that is London, leaving local service providers and skilled blue-collar professionals without the jobs that went to those who expected lower pay which was in any event, higher than they'd get in say, Poland.

Map of photos, london mosques

The young Brits simply don't think along the same lines of the older generation who recall most fondly an earlier Britain that regaled in its storied tales of heritage exploits as rulers of the sea and gentle autocratic imperialism exercising British generosity and systems of law and cultural underpinnings in exotic places abroad, known quaintly as the British "Empire". An empire that has shrunk, but for the memories to a crowded island sniffing about the ungentle demands of a European Union fixated on rules and regulations of their very own.

It's a safe bet that really elderly Brits made more of an effort to get out there and vote, and many of them live in the hinterlands of that sceptred isle, well away from the beating, bleeding heart of London. Recalling the blitz-bombing days of German bombers and blackened windows, fighting to keep a fascist regime from its goal of dominating Europe. Considering now grimly the influence of a different Germany wealthy as the previous one was not, and fixated now on its political and economic influence on a united Europe; achieving now what it could not then.

A not entirely unreasonable line of thought if one were particularly given to finding hidden meaning where none is meant to exist. London wanted to Remain, and the rest of England had no wish to do other than Leave, to regain and retain what had been lost; full sovereign autonomy, pride in self, the freedom to embark on changes from within, the ability to address issues pertaining to England with no interference from outside sources geographically and culturally removed.

Of course there are consequences, there are always consequences, and no one likes the squeamish thought of paying dearly for choices made that promise to complicate trade and income. Sometimes, they reason, those who never hesitated when they voted Leave, there must be sacrifices, and honour and tradition demand sacrifices on occasion. The working-class of the country, essentially, has had its say.

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Restoring Tradition, Authority in Britain

"Jo understood that rhetoric has consequences. When insecurity, fear and anger are used to light a fuse then an explosion is inevitable."
MP Stephen Kinnock

"Are we prepared to tell lies, to spread hate and xenophobia just to win a campaign? For me that's a step too far."
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, former co-chair, Conservative Party

"I think wisely people would want to sit and look to see how it works for Britain. I doubt you'll see a groundswell of 'Britain's done it so let's do it too'. The Domino effect, which is what people are most focused on within Europe, wouldn't happen immediately. It would take some time, like all of the things around an exit vote would."
Bobby Duffy, managing director of social research, Ipsos Mori

"Even though there is diversity in opinion among the ten countries we surveyed, we found that support for the EU has generally been declining in key European countries over the last dozen years we have been tracking this."
"We see France is actually a country that has some of the most unfavourable views of the EU."
"Much of the disaffection with the EU among Europeans can be attributed to Brussels' handling of the refugee issue."
Jacob Poushter, senior researcher, Pew Research Center
Leave supporters celebrate the result in Sunderland after polling stations closed
Leave supporters celebrate the result in Sunderland after polling stations closed. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters
The event that held the collective breath of the 28 members of the European Union suspended in anticipation of Brexit has come and it has gone. No more suspense, only concern for the future. Which is to say the future of the European Union, since the future of the United Kingdom is far less in question. Yes, there will be rumblings from the usual suspects; Scotland and Northern Ireland are reacting like malcontents, but there's nothing much new there.

And though it was thought that the "remain" side gained momentum after the horrible killing of "remain" stalwart MP Jo Cox, it likely did, but it was of a short-lived tenure. And her killer's voice although deplored -- the man a verifiable psychopath whose psychotic moment of rage took the life of a 41-year-old mother of two -- shouting "Britain first! Keep Britain independent! Britain always comes first!", made people recoil at the association, the sentiment resonated nonetheless.

Polls have proven lately, to be wrong as often as they have been right on the money. And though David Cameron's focus was on economics, urged as well by the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, it was of a lesser concern to those in Britain who have long viewed the dilution of their traditions and culture to an invasion that challenged religion and law, leading to an adverse reaction to continued immigration.

And while the presence of a million Poles who had migrated visa-less under the Schengen rule to find employment in Britain may have rankled, it was not so much as the EU-mandated 'fair share' of the flood of Muslim refugees and haven-seekers-after-economic-opportunities that motivated a lot of the "leave" support. Baroness Warsi who had her own arguments with the Conservatives over  Gaza, swivelled from "leave" to "remain" in opposition to the immigration blowback.
David Cameron Quits Downing Street with a ruined legacy: “THE British people have voted to leave the European Union and their will must be respected.”

Last month U.K. Ipsos Mori conducted a poll of people from Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain and Sweden for their views whether they might like their own country to hold a leave referendum and how they would respond. Italians and French wanted a referendum, Poles, understandably leaned pro-Europe; but overall 45 percent of respondents wished their country to hold a referendum; a third would vote to leave.

That doesn't reflect satisfaction on a wide scale with the European Union. "I think the theme from this is of a divided Europe", Ipsos Mori's managing director of social research stated. "It's not that big majorities of people in other European countries are clamouring for a vote or saying that they want to vote out. On the other hand, you've got significant proportions that actually want more European integration. So it's a real challenge for the EU if they have a very divided and varied population. There is no clear message", stated Bobby Duffy.

Almost half the people surveyed felt that Britain leaving the EU would have a "domino effect" right across Europe. Support for the EU is on the decline; a median of 42 percent of the ten countries surveyed felt a need to devolve some powers back to their own countries, a trend begun well before Britain's referendum. One that, had the EU read the signs positively and with a degree of sensitivity, might have led to a form of devolution being introduced to reduce some of that tension.

In 2004, 69 percent of French held a favourable view of the EU, as opposed to the present when a mere 38 percent do. As well, 94 percent of Greeks, 88 percent of Swedes and 77 percent of Italians disapprove of the European Union response to the problem of general disaffection. Professor of Politics at the Centre for Competition Policy, University of East Anglia, Hussein Kassim feels the EU should address the pressing issues of the eurozone and the migrant crisis.

"Those are enormous issues and so far there seems to be a lack of agreement on how to fix either of them, so those won't go away for a while."

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

“Bloody Harvest/The Slaughter: An Update”

"This is extremely difficult research to have done."
"It’s a mammoth system. Each hospital has so many doctors, nurses, and surgeons. That in itself isn’t a problem. China’s a big country. But where did all the organs come from?"
Li Huige, professor, medical center, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany

"There is no other plausible explanation for the sourcing of this number of organs than the killing of Falun Gong [and to a lesser extent, the killing of Uyghurs, Tibetans and House Christians] for their organs." 
"The ultimate conclusion of this update, and indeed our previous work, is that China has engaged in the mass killing of innocents."
David Kilgour, David Matas, Ethan Guttman: Bloody Harvest/The Slaughter: An Update
The report analyzed all known organ transplantation centers in China—over 700 of them. (Illustration by Jens Almroth/Epoch Times)
The report analyzed all known organ transplantation centers in China—over 700 of them. (Illustration by Jens Almroth/Epoch Times)
"To be able to complete such a large number of organ transplant surgeries every year, we need to give all of our thanks to the support given by the government. In particular, the Supreme People’s Court, Supreme People’s Procuratorate, Public Security system, judicial system, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Civil Affairs have jointly promulgated laws to establish that organ procurement receives government support and protection. This is a one-of-a-kind in the world."
China Medical University, Shenyang -- transplant center website
And unique in the world as well in that the industrialization of human organ transplants has been handed over to the Chinese military and security agencies to be responsible for. By the standards and values they feel entitled to exercise, the program is a resounding success; hence the pride of China Medical University. The staggering number of organs and their transplantation in a country which until 2014 had no official medical voluntary organ program, is difficult to comprehend.

In fact, when David Kilgour and David Matas began their investigation years ago, their contention that organs were being harvested from prisoners and from living involuntary donors went unheeded because the controversial claims were just too difficult to believe. But the two persevered, collecting evidence, interviewing Chinese with insider knowledge, to bolster their claims, resulting in a 2009 publication: Bloody Harvest: Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China.

This latest report is a blockbuster at 564 pages with several thousand footnotes. It lists all organ transplantation centres in the country they are aware of and that's 700 of such centres, counting the number of beds in each, the transplant numbers they advertise, the use of anti-rejection drugs and anything else that is pertinent to their case. Which includes surgical staff, training programs, infrastructure, wait times and with this data, an estimation of the number of transplants performed was posited.

Over one million.

The report relies in part on information drawn from the testimonies rendered by whistleblowers, along with Chinese medical papers in translation to conclude that some of the organ donors may have still been alive at the time that their organs were removed. A former paramilitary police officer who witnessed a live harvest operation without the use of anaesthesia and a former health care worker from Jinan gave additional valuable testimony.

Plain-cloth police brutally arrest Falun Gong practitioners on Tiananmen Square.   (Compassion Magazine)
Plainclothes police arrest Falun Gong practitioners on Tiananmen Square, Beijing, in 1999. (Compassion Magazine)

According to former Canadian cabinet minister David Kilgour, senior legal counsel of B'nai Brith David Matas, and London-based journalist and foreign policy analyst Ethan Guttman, whose books on the subject have been banned in China, it is prisoners of conscience, mostly practitioners of Falun Gong who are the targets of organ extraction by government agencies. China has become well known as a travel/vacation/organ transplant destination for foreigners desperate for an organ transplant. 
"When you were a kid, did you ever pick up a big rock and see all this life underneath it—ants and insects? That’s what the experience of working on this report has been like."
"They’ve built a juggernaut. We’re looking at a gigantic flywheel, which they can’t seem to stop. I don’t believe it’s just profit behind it, I believe it’s ideology, mass murder, and the cover-up of a terrible crime where the only way to cover up that crime is to keep killing people who know about it."
Ethan Guttman, author of The Slaughter, 2014.

Mr. Guttman's research concluding in the publication of his book in 2014, estimated that 65,000 Falun Gong practitioners have been killed to recover their organs for transplant to further China's organ market prospects, over the past few years. Hospital records, medical journals, databases translated from Chinese all helped to confirm that the estimates were judiciously on the cautious side. Amnesty International under-
estimated that in 2008 1,066 people were sentenced to death which is when death row organ extraction occurs.

Whenever Beijing is questioned over the 'rumours' of organ extraction from such sources by international medical associations among other NGOs, citing the disparities and fraudulent official numbers relating to its transplant industry, Beijing draws itself together in umbrage that it could be suspected of such inhumane practises. But it is undeniable that it places those it accuses of challenging its authority under arrest, and sentences to death political adversaries, including Falun Gong members who simply want to practise their contemplative form of religion.

The harvesting of organs is from that pool of helpless victims, to feed China's burgeoning industry of serving the international community represented by desperate people in need of organ transplants and prepared to travel to China to acquire there what a voluntary national organ donation scheme at home has been incapable of providing for them. State-controlled and -operated, the truth is a slippery eel that slides into the backwater of deceit and coverups, conveniently washed by the happy news that China's transplant program is wildly successful for recipients.

An re-enactment of organ harvesting in China on Falun Gong practitioners, during a rally in Ottawa, Canada, 2008. (Epoch Times)A re-enactment of organ harvesting in China on Falun Gong practitioners, during a rally in Ottawa, Canada, in 2008. (Epoch Times)
"I had to explain it in detail to a German friend who’s a bioethicist, who deals with many challenging international topics. She literally couldn’t believe me, and asked, 'Why didn’t I know about this already'?"
"This is very emotive for me [speaking of her close friend who suffered liver failure due to hepatitis requiring a transplant within three days if she was to live]."
"She was extraordinarily lucky to get one in that timeframe. But to do 46 of them in a row? It’s hard to think of another plausible explanation, apart from killing on demand."
Wendy Rogers, bioethicist, Macquarie University, Australia

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