Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Seizing Opportunistic Influence

"The initial perception in Moscow is that we were making a complete mess of the Middle East, beginning with the invasion of Iraq, and then the invasion of Libya, and our giving [Egyptian president Hosni] Mubarak a push."
"In the Russian reading of all of this, the end result of American action is always to exacerbate the chaos and to empower radical jihadist forces who are hostile to Russian interests as well as to American interests." 
"We ended up tying ourselves in knots in Syria. We committed ourselves unambiguously at first to the prospect that Assad had to step down, but we didn't provide the force that would require him to do that. So our initial policy was pretty much a failure."
"As the conflict has dragged on and our options have looked less and less palatable, we've begun accommodating ourselves to the Russian view."
Jeffrey Mankoff, deputy director, Russia and Eurasia Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C.

"Russia now presents itself to the rest of the world as a preserver of the status quo and a supporter of existing regimes."
"[The Kremlin's support of Assad represents] wanting to ensure that you don't have more Arab Spring-type movements in the Middle East, and then that they don't come home."
"Because of what Russia is doing in Syria, primarily, he [Putin] gets all these meetings, and people see Russia as a major player. [Putin is] using that leverage to force the West to go back to dealing with Russia."
Angela Stent, professor of government and foreign service, Georgetown University

The abyss of deadly cruelty that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has launched with such huge success on his own people has had not an iota of the restraint of conscience on Russian President Vladimir Putin. The reason is obvious enough; each of these two men believe that expunging any possibility that rebellion can succeed to fully destabilize a nation's administration -- however inept, corrupt and miserable that administration may be -- is not to be countenanced.

In their joint view rebellion is tantamount to terrorism, and they deal with the symptoms coldly and with the efficiency of instinctive murderers.

The unfurling of the banners of dissent and the compulsion of citizens who decry their state of bondage to rebel are extremely perturbing to tyrants so that their move toward supporting one another becomes a common cause; what can derail one administration can impact on the other. And since the United States which had up to the present administration always had a stabilizing effect on those regimes that bordered on tyranny, finding common cause through those nations' oil reserves, suddenly deciding that withdrawal was to become the new U.S. policy, that vacuum begged to be filled.

Where the USSR once had influence equal to and surpassing that of the United States in the Middle East, then receded as the U.S. stepped up its campaign for influence, the tide has now turned in the opposite direction, with Russia eclipsing the U.S. A situation made easy for Vladimir Putin since Barack Obama decided his nation would withdraw its monopolistic power presence, turning over a new leaf, and Mr. Putin determining this opportunity to possess a new leaf of his own would suit his power politics play very well.

At least four incendiary submunitions burn on the ground of a narrow street in the al-Mashhad neighborhood of opposition-held east Aleppo
Malek Tarboush   At least four incendiary submunitions burn on the ground of a narrow street in the al-Mashhad neighborhood of opposition-held east Aleppo

Playing the chess game of influence and power with Washington, Moscow manipulated the Obama administration easily since it was an administration suffering lassitude of disinterest, surrendering its authority to Moscow's burgeoning interest in opening a new front in the Middle East. Leading the U.S. from its original opinion that Bashar al-Assad must, for the sake of humanity, be removed from the presidency, to the point where one feint was bypassed at solving the wretchedness that Syria had become by threats of retaliation, to doing nothing to help Syrian Sunnis withstand the deadly withering attacks by their government.

The Kremlin is not in the business of doing nothing; deploying its bombers and its personnel in Syria it has launched its common cause plan of nomenclature, transforming rebel Syrian Sunni militias into terrorist jihadists, the alteration in descriptive language enabling Moscow to emulate Damascus, utilizing the deadly fury of their bombs to destroy the ambitions of Syrians wishing to mount an effective removal of their mass-murdering president, to install a government of fair and equal judgement. In the process Moscow gained another deep-sea port and Middle East airstrip.

Putin's successful manoeuvring of the Obama administration into reluctantly accepting that the man they wanted removed for the greater good of a reconstituted Syria, could, after all, remain in his position, despite the barrel bombs, the chlorine gas attacks, the deadly, life-stifling sieges, the hatred compelling Shiites to slaughter Sunnis to the tune of a half-million deaths in a five-year span of tribal-sectarian bloodlust, speaks of his exploitative skills. The purpose behind the purging of Syrian Sunnis is to restore a level of stability.

Uprisings and revolutions are not to be countenanced, irrespective of the social and political reasons that generate them, for they are disruptive of continuity and generally represent upheaval in politics and between nation-to-nation relations. Just as Vladimir Putin dealt with the Ukraine uprising by supporting the ethnic Russian rebels and conspiring against the Ukraine regime straining toward the West, by depriving it of Crimea, he has turned the opposing face in relation to Syria; an ally dependent on Russian aid is supported and the rebels consigned to deadly attacks suitable for dealing with terrorists.

Syrian Civil war
A Syrian man carries his son to a field hospital after airstrikes hit Aleppo  Getty Images

So it is perfectly legitimate to target the White Helmets group dedicated to rescuing civilians from Russian air strikes in eastern Aleppo, just as flying over Aleppo to release chemical agents to target any Syrians hapless enough to live where the rebel militias control neighbourhoods passes muster with Mr. Putin. If, after all, hospitals and schools in Aleppo can be considered useful targets to deliver a message of surrender or die; live and continue to be violated by a conscienceless regime, then what's wrong with dealing death to civilians, fifty percent of whom turn out to be children?

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Civilization? What Civilization?

"We are living on the last of the aid, and the last of the vegetables that came from the countryside. There is no milk, no cheese, nothing."
"None of us have cooking fuel ... so we make bonfires outside."
Om Majed KaMran, 58, Aleppo

"We will continue to defend our people in Aleppo and our existence. We will not surrender. We will repel them."
"Aleppo will remain free of Assad, his sectarian militias, and thugs."
Nour el-Din el-Zinki, insurgent group, Aleppo

"American officials -- they say something in the morning and they do the opposite in the evening.  We cannot take them at their word, to be frank."
"We don't listen to their statements, we don't care about it, we don't believe it."
Bashar al-Assad, Damascus

"This has been a tremendous success for Russia across the board -- I don't see why they would want to bring this [their aid to Assad in destroying Aleppo while slaughtering Sunni Syrians] to a close."
"Not only in fighting terrorism, killing Russian jihadis, and re-establishing a role in the Middle East, but sticking a finger in the eye of Washington."
David Schenker, director, Program on Arab Politics, Washington Institute
Two men sit on an old couch looking at the rubble around them.
The aftermath of an airstrike near Aleppo on the weekend. (AFP)
Bunker-busting bombs flown by the Syrian airforce and reinforced by Russia's airforce are being deployed in civilian areas in rebel-held Aleppo. Bunker-busters would be most useful in areas where people attempt to shelter themselves in subterranean havens like bomb shelters. The bombs' notable capability in destroying reinforced underground chambers hugely useful as measure to destroy an enemies' defences, and useful to the Assad regime in directly targeting civilian enclaves, in a new version of a burnt-earth policy of total destruction.

It appears that fully 50 percent of the victims of the vicious bombardment that was initiated on Wednesday in an all-out attack have been children already suffering deprivation resulting from months of siege. As Syrian and Russian jets continue to blast Aleppo preparatory to a ground assault, the Syrian rebel volunteer civil defence White Helmets has mobilized all their resources to rescue whomever they can from the hellfire and the rubble, and in the process have themselves become targets of regime attacks. Of their four action centres, three have been destroyed.

"The White Helmets are completely exhausted. Aleppo is being burned", civil defence volunteer Ammar al-Selmo despaired. "I have not seen in my life such bombardment. It is very, very intense", Ibrahim Alhaj, a Syrian Civil Defence member stated. And to complete the picture of a people whose existence is being obliterated as the world watches and the United Nations twists its hands in hapless inadequacy to yet another demonstration of grand-scale atrocities, Abdulkafi Al-Hamdo, a teacher in Aleppo said "This means welcome to hell. We expect extermination."

The bombardment has identified in its focus its clear and unequivocal intentions, targeting residential areas, infrastructure and civil defence centres for a complete sweep of whatever is left of the residents' and the rebels' defences and desire to surmount this grim threat to their existence. There is little mystery to the purpose, while a Syrian military official confirmed the continuation of airstrikes and shelling until the operation is prepared to expand into a planned ground invasion of the Aleppo districts held by the rebels.
Airstrikes on Aleppo have causing widespread destruction that has overwhelmed rescue teams
Airstrikes on Aleppo have causing widespread destruction that has overwhelmed rescue teams Photograph: Thaer Mohammed/AFP/Getty Images
Leaflets were dropped by the military over the city, urging regime opposition members' surrender; to take advantage of an limited-time-offer amnesty for fighters agreeing to surrender their arms. "The belt is getting tighter around you. Surrender now or you will meet your inevitable destiny". The leaflet came complete with a photograph of a bearded militant lying dead, a rocket-propelled grenade beside him.

A prolongation of the most recently-failed ceasefire is out of the question, since Assad 'doesn't trust the Americans'. As though he imagines himself loftily trustworthy in any index of human empathetic conviction, as though he cares for the welfare of the population of Syria beyond those who cravenly support him in his lust for continued power and pathology of vengeance he exerts toward those who have the criminal audacity to question his divine right to rule and to ruin.

Just as the Syrian regime feels itself to be beyond reproach for its belief that it is emulating the Israeli military when it rains leaflets beforehand, down on areas it plans to assault, to warn residents to remain clear of targeted areas, the Syrian military equates that effort to save civilian lives with its extended warning to Syrian rebels complete with gruesome retribution striking "paid" for daring to offend the Syrian Shiite Alawite regime by contesting its legitimacy. The Israeli leaflets offer life, the Syrian ones, death.

Assad scorning what he terms as American inconstancy as though the United States administration and its military have negotiated poorly with his blameless administration, represents a mind-boggling mental challenge in and of itself. Is he complaining that the U.S. administration that warned of consequences to follow should the "red line" of chemical weapons be used, never followed through when Assad ordered their use, killing hundreds of Syrian civilians, turning the other way rather than making good on their threat?

While the United Nations declares criminal acts on a grand scale by a brutal totalitarian regime, no one powerful nation and no group of confederate nations would pledge to confront the barbarians to protect a people whose ruler loses no opportunities to slaughter, a clique of grimly conscienceless nations like Russia, Iran and Lebanon have become deadly co-predators with no opposition. Five years of civil war with each year of the odious Assad destroying 100,000 lives represents a monumental toll, growing still, of lives lost, with no end in sight.
A Syrian man looks at a heavily damaged building following air strikes on rebel-held eastern areas of Aleppo.
 A Syrian man looks at a heavily damaged building following air strikes on rebel-held eastern areas of Aleppo. (AFP:Karam Al-Masri)

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Misadventurous Errors of Mission

"[The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies] are outraged by last night’s [September 19] horrific attack on a SARC warehouse and an aid convoy in Orem Al Kubra (Big Orem) in rural Aleppo."
"Around 20 civilians and one SARC staff member were killed as they were unloading trucks carrying vital humanitarian aid. Much of the aid was destroyed."
September 20 joint SARC, Int.committee of the Red Cross Int .Fed. of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies press release 

"We’re totally devastated by the deaths of so many people, including one of our colleagues, the director of our sub-branch, Omar Barakat."
"It is totally unacceptable that our staff and volunteers continue to pay such a high price because of the ongoing fighting."
 SARC President Abdulrahman Attar

A damaged truck carrying aid is seen on the side of the road in the town of Orum al-Kubra on the western outskirts of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Sept. 20, 2016, the morning after a convoy delivering aid was hit by a deadly airstrike. (photo by GETTY/Omar Haj Kadour)
“Look, this was a difficult and trying day in Syria that I think raises very serious questions about whether the Russians can deliver their end of the arrangement that we’ve been negotiating with them and trying to implement."
"What happened [Sept. 19] has dealt a serious blow to our efforts to bring peace to Syria. It is up to the Russians to demonstrate … that this process remains viable."
Senior U.S. Administration Official
So then, the week-long truce that brought a brief respite to the long-suffering and besieged Sunni residents of Aleppo and nearby rebel-controlled towns never did succeed in allowing the main event the truce was meant for, the trucking in of humanitarian supplies to bring relief and hope for life to the beleaguered Syrians their government is attempting to slaughter. The deliveries were stuck at the Turkish border because a broad agreement could not be secured that they would be safe driving over the border into Syria, thanks to stalling by the regime.

And when an American-led series of strikes meant to hit Islamic State terrorists went astray and mistakenly hit regime troops, killing 62 Syrian soldiers, according to Syrian government claims, it was all bets off. Effectively permitting Russia and Bashar al-Assad to paint the U.S. as a deliberate spoiler of the truce, with the intention of benefiting the rebels. Hard to reach that conclusion when the immediate effect was to have Russian planes flying surveillance over the besieged towns, directly afterward being bombed once again by regime warplanes, with predictable results.

So the UN humanitarian aid convey once inside Syria became sitting ducks, hit by airstrikes even while the Syrian military spoke of the uselessness of the U.S.-Russia-brokered cease-fire as a failure. But not yet, evidently, since neither the U.S. nor the Russian negotiators claim they are prepared to countenance the agreement's cancellation; Russia has itself grimly declared it is prepared to extend the ceasefire for another week. But the humanitarian coalition has also announced its intention to pull out.

Humanitarian assistance geared to aid 78,000 people in a town west of Aleppo has failed with about 18 of the 31 convoy trucks hit, their contents destroyed. The Red Crescent warehouse and its contents was also hit; as accidental targets, needless to say, ostensibly mistakenly taken for rebel groups preparing to assault regime-held positions once again. According to the Syrian Observatory for Hyman Rights a dozen, mostly truck drivers and Red Crescent workers died in the attack.

Another group of civilians was also killed when airstrikes hit the rebel-held area of Aleppo and surrounding areas. A measure of 'balance' was introduced when Russia claimed that government positions came under militant attacks in the south-west portion of Aleppo. Plenty of hatred and violence to go around, unerringly steered into place by proxy mentors who deplore the ongoing loss of human life and hope.

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Inspired to Incitement and Jihad

"A bomb exploding in New York is obviously an act of terrorism, but it's not linked to international terrorism."
"In other words, we find no ISIL connection, etcetera."
"Whoever placed these bombs, we will find them and they will be brought to justice but no evidence links to an international terrorist group]."
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

"It was only a matter of time. There's kind of this New York spirit that's like, whatever. Let's get on with life."                                                                              Graham Mills, 52, Chelsea area, New York

"It was an extremely loud noise. Everything was shaking, the windows were shaking. It was extremely loud, almost like thunder but louder."
Rudy Alcide, bouncer, Vanity Nightclub

"[The] executor of the stabbing attacks in Minnesota yesterday was a soldier of the Islamic State."
"[The attack took place responding to ISIL's call to] target citizens of countries belonging to the crusader coalition [US.-led bombing mission in Syria and Iraq]"
Amaq news agency, ISIL

"He [off-duty police officer Jason Falconer] clearly prevented additional injuries and, potentially loss of life."
"The suspect was lunging at him with a knife, he fired, the suspect went down and came back up at him on three different occasions."
Mayor Dave Kleis, St.Cloud, Minnesota
Jihadist terrorist attacks taking place all over the United States. And what authorities, from state governors to mayors, to the FBI to news media all have in common is pussy-footing around identifying the source for what it is; fanatical Islam. Hesitating to be blamed for placing Islam in the spotlight of being identified as the sole world source of terrorism, inspired by its most basic tenet of jihad and the obligation of the faithful to engage in it.

Rick Thornton, an FBI official charged with the investigation of the stabbing of nine people in a Minnesota shopping mall, maintains that the stabbing event was in the process of investigation as a "potential act of terrorism" even while Islamic State uses its singular authority to proudly claim the event reflective of their influence on the faithful abroad, inciting them to mount their attacks in situ; no need to travel to Mideast hot-spots, folks.

There remains plenty, cautioned Mr. Thornton, to the news media to be investigated since there is "a lot we don't know" about the possibility of international links for the man who was shot dead but whom ISIL claims to be one of its "soldiers". Not bad for a day's work, actually, for Islamic State; in one single day, an attack in New York, another in Minnesota and a third at a New Jersey charity race.

FBI Bomb Squad is on scene and continuing the investigation at the train station in Midtown Elizabeth.
CNN -- FBI Bomb Squad is on scene and continuing the investigation at the train station in Midtown Elizabeth.
The St.Cloud event northwest of Minneapolis had witnesses reporting that the attacker was spouting Arabic promises to Allah, and was heard to enquire of one person at the very least before lunging at them with deadly intent, whether they were Muslim. Inspired by al Shabaab, by the ongoing rounds of attacks by Palestinian Arabs in Israel, everyone wants to be regarded as a martyr for the cause, to 'resist' the oppressors of Islam.

One bystander at the Minnesota mall reported seeing two men, one with blood on his face, the other bleeding from his back, stumble out of the mall shouting to everyone to get out because someone with a knife was attacking people. And did attack nine people wounding them, without their having sustained life-threatening injuries. But of course the secondary effect of such attacks, like the one in the Chelsea area of New York that wounded 29 people, is not only to maim and hopefully kill, but to inspire terror in targeted populations.
The stabbings took place in several locations within the mall.
CNN -- The stabbings took place in several locations within the mall.

And another jihadist has achieved martyrdom; the knife-wielding jihadist was identified as an ethnic Somali of 20, by the name of Dahir Adan whose mourning family has no idea how, where or when their beloved son was radicalized. And the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Minnesota chapter, executive director Jaylani Hussein, declared: "We cannot give ISIS and other terrorist organizations more air time and propaganda without real facts".

Real facts? Jihadis engaged in terrorist attacks are all Muslim, responding to Islam's rule that the faithful must observe their obligation to engage in jihad. All the jihadists, terrorists, martyrs have one thing in common; they are Muslim. Islam, therefore, is the source of jihadist attacks; a religion whose faithful have stunning problems of anger management, beginning with their deadly hatred of other Muslims who don't subscribe to the same sect that they do, or have the same tribal affiliations, then extended outward toward non-Muslims.
Stabbing suspect Dahir A. Adan went to college in St. Cloud and worked for a private security firm, Somali community leaders told CNN.
CNN -- Stabbing suspect Dahir A. Adan went to college in St. Cloud and worked for a private security firm, Somali community leaders told CNN.

Which is why it must be quite dispiriting to such attackers to hear New York's mayor Bill De Blasio contend that "New Yorkers will not be intimidated". That's a real fact. Another is that anyone who gives credence to anything that is emitted from the mouth of an authority representing CAIR, will believe anything since it is debatable how different the Muslim Brotherhood's aspirations are from those of the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham.

A large group of New York police stand on a street. In the background is a police vehicle with its emergency lights on.
Police officers block a road near the explosion in Chelsea. (AFP: William Edwards)

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Mutually Disagreeable Complaints: Denmark

"I've become a racist. [Migrants are draining Denmark's social-welfare, refusing to adapt to customs'."
"Just kick them out. These Muslims want to keep their own culture, but we have our own rules here and everyone must follow them."
Johnny Christensen, 54, retired bank worker

"We are a multiethnic society today, and we have to realize it."
"But we are not and should never become a multicultural society."
Bo Lidegaard, Danish historian

"Our problem in Denmark is that we've been too polite. No one dared talk about [immigration] because they were afraid they'd be called racist."
Anders Buhl-Christensen, city councilman, Randers, Denmark

"It's not racism to be aware of the difference -- it's stupid not to be aware."
"We do them a blessing by being very clear and outspoken as to what kind of country they have come to, what are our basic values."
Bertel Haarder, culture minister, Denmark

"We should be like this glass -- transparent. As long as we follow the rules of the country, we are part of Danish society."
Sherif Sulaiman, organic food scientist from Egypt, community organizer, Denmark

"Freedom of speech is now interpreted as freedom to say anything hateful."
"Denmark is closing in on itself. People are retreating inward."
Julie Jeeg, law student, antiracism group volunteer
A Friday prayer in the Grand Mosque of Copenhagen, also known as Hamad Bin Khalifa Civilization Center. Credit Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times

In the space of two years, tiny Denmark has absorbed over 36,000 Muslim asylum seekers. Immigration only became an issue in 1967, when "guest workers" were first brought in from Turkey and Pakistan and the-then Yugoslavia. Denmark's 5.7 million population was 97 percent Danish in 1980, and it now has been reduced to 88 percent. Germany and Sweden have absorbed far greater numbers of immigrants, but Danes are struggling with the presence of a demographic whose culture and religion is dramatically unlike their own and seemingly incapable of adapting to the greater culture.

Resentment has set in and strict measures supported by the center-right government has led to a spike in criticism and the rise in popularity of the anti-immigrant Danish People's Party. Not much surprising in a country that is seeing its social welfare system strained by the influx of dependent haven-seekers, with the spectre of terrorist attacks looming in the shadows. When thousands of Poles and Americans as well as other Westerners emigrated to Denmark in 2014 the adjustment seemed without fuss of any kind.

It has taken the arrival of 16,000 Syrians in the past two years to herald the rise of discontent and resentment with complaints that the refugees are not making a serious effort to learn to speak the national language despite that the Danish Ministry of Immigration reporting 72 percent having passed a  mandatory language test. Danes are uncomfortable with enclaves of ethnic groups, where Muslims settling in Aarbus and Copenhagen present views in public of women in abayas and men in prayer caps.

Muslim refugees are viewed as an economic drain on the country's economy in view of the fact that 48 percent of immigrants only, aged 16 to 64 are employed as compared to 74 percent of the native Danish population. Official Denmark attempts to thwart what it names as "parallel societies" comprised of migrants presenting as "vicious circles of bad image, social problems and a high rate of unemployment", precisely what the Danish public views as the reality.

Too many refugees were failing the simple citizenship test, and a whopping 86 percent of welfare recipients were identified as Muslim immigrants. Tolerant Denmark has permitted multiple wives to be brought over in a family reunification scheme, and with the wives comes a multitude of children, all supported by welfare payments when the father of the children claims physical disability and psychological debilitation in the most overt of the examples of immigration gone awry.

Which has led, though it may not be typical, to a backlash against Muslim immigrants. Sherif Sulaiman who has lived in Denmark for eight years speaks persuasively to other Muslims that they must open their expectations of themselves in Denmark to become integrated in the prevailing customs and society. As manager of an Islamic center inviting Danes to attend for an annual "harmony week", he dedicates himself to forging a bond between Danes and Muslims, of tolerance understanding on both sides.

At the introduction of 2015, Danish authorities had the right through a newly-passed law to confiscate valuable items from those newly arriving to aid the government in the costs associated with settling them into their new country. It appears to be a rarely-enforced situation. Denmark placed advertisements in Arabic language newspapers emphasizing new policies making it tougher for migrants to apply for status in an effort to dissuade immigrants from considering travelling to Denmark seeking haven.

Difficulties in assimilation, and a patriarchal culture that disallows women working outside the home, a culture that constrains free speech, one that has no concept of equality, all issues representing adequate enough reason that Danes and other European countries are finding it problematic to settle refugees and economic migrants who often disregard custom and law, with criminal activities taking place out of proportion to their numbers, engendering anger and backlash.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Turkey, a Blight Among Nations

"When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race."
"In their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact."
"[Theirs is a deliberate] campaign of race extermination."
Henry Morgenthau, American ambassador, Ottoman Empire, 1915
A picture released by the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute dated 1915 purportedly shows soldiers standing over skulls of victims from the Armenian village of Sheyxalan in the Mush valley, on the Caucasus front during the First World War. Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their forebears were killed in a 1915-16 genocide by Turkey's former Ottoman Empire. Turkey says 500,000 died and ascribes the toll to fighting and starvation during World War I.
A picture released by the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute dated 1915 shows soldiers standing over skulls of victims from the Armenian village of Sheyxalan in the Mush valley, on the Caucasus front during the First World War. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images
"The brutal treatment of the deportees, most of whom were made to walk to their destinations, made it apparent that the deportations were mainly intended as death marches. Moreover, the policy of deportation surgically removed the Armenians from the rest of society and disposed of great masses of people with little or no destruction of property."
Armenian National Institute, Washington, D.C.
Armenian genocide is 'fact of history and nothing to do with election' Armenia says up to 1.5 million of its people were killed during World War I by forces belonging to Turkey's former Ottoman Empire
"I decided to present his data [papers of Talaat Pasha, one of the Young Turks in charge of the Ottoman Empire, published by a Turkish journalist in 2011], as the official view of the Armenian Genocide according to Ottoman records... It has a column showing the Armenian population of different provinces in 1914 according to official Ottoman statistics, and it has a column that has been generated from the returns to the 1917 survey. Most of these missing Armenians were probably killed."

Raffi Sarkissian, co-chairman, Armenian Genocide Centenary Commemoration Committee. 
In April of 1914 the-then government of Turkey suspicious of Armenian allegiance, arrested two hundred Armenian community leaders in Istanbul. Their arrest went on to imprisonment but not for a very prolonged stay; they were mostly put out of commission when they were executed as traitors to Turkey. Echoes of that event can be seen in the mass arrests that have taken place in Turkey of those considered by Turkish authorities to be loyal to Methullah Gulen whom President Recep Tayyip Erdogan views as a threat to his Islamist rule of the country.

In this modern era, a month ago a failed attempt at a coup instigated the ruthless crackdown on the followers of Gulen who was once a supporter of Erdogan until he became disenchanted with the virulent Islamist tack he was leading the country into. Mr. Gulen's disavowal of Erdogan's politics enraged the president of Turkey who views the self-exile as plotting against him, convincing himself that tens of thousands of civil servants of all stripes including police, military, justices, journalists are all attempting to undermine his authority.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is planning to make Arabic-alphabet Ottoman language compulsory in high schoolsRecep Tayyip Erdogan  Photo: AFP

When the world's attention was diverted from an obscure corner of the world by the horrifying events of the First World War, Turkey felt free to dispose of its Armenian citizens by force-marching hundreds of thousands of men, women and children of all ages out of the country's borders, disowning them, leaving them to die of privation, illness and starvation in the process, and killing those who did not; an estimated total of one and a half million Armenians losing their lives. Turkey insists nothing of the kind occurred.

Turkey's leaders have a propensity to reach extremes in their denials; to even make mention of the genocide is forbidden by law. Those Armenians whose lives were forfeit were merely deportees. That they left Turkey by foot, with no provisions and no mechanical aids to their progress led them to they fall victim to unfortunate circumstances, and these were complex events that led to their unfortunate mass death, having nothing whatever to do with a Turkish plan for extermination.

That the Turks are Muslim and Armenians Christians is one of the complex circumstances of two ethnic groups living together under Ottoman rule. The Armenians have much in common with Jews; tending to be better educated and more financially well off than their Muslim counterparts. They also found much in common with Russia and at the time of the First World War, Turkey aligned itself with Germany. Turkey saw its Armenian population as a "wartime measure of military security" seeking a solution.

That solution was a forced death march through deportation. Massacres took place on the way with countless Armenians unable to defend themselves, simply shot while others became a helpless mass of famished humanity. And so, Armenians who for three millennia inhabited the highlands of their heritage lands, were forced to find a new home for those who survived. A small enclave was formed, Russian Armenia, by those who managed to evade the deportation proceedings. Late in 1920 the region was recognized under the Soviets as the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic.

With the collapse of the USSR, the Armenian enclave was renamed to the Republic of Armenia. Armenian activists have long been involved in insisting that governments give recognition to their plight, acknowledging that they had experienced genocide before Nazi Germany undertook the systematic obliteration of European Jewry, Hitler reasoning that no one remembered or cared about the Armenian genocide, leaving him free to achieve his goal of freeing Europe from any Jewish presence.

Turkey's skill and determination in denying equality and the division of Turkey's geography to non-Turks is legendary. Its incessant quarrels with Greece over Cypress more than adequately describing Turkey's scorn for its neighbours. Recep Tayyip Erdogan's renewal of Turkey's blisteringly violent war with Kurds, the world's largest ethnic group whom European colonialist politics cheated of their own homeland, speaks volumes of Turkey's incapacity as a Muslim quasi-democracy bordering Europe to ever become a stalwart of human rights.

© Ruptly
© Ruptly
Turkish authorities accuse Kurdish militants of detonating a car bomb in the city of Van in the southeast of Turkey. 48 people injured, no fatalities confirmed.The blast took place around 200 meters from the city’s provisional governor’s office. No group has claimed responsibility for the assault.
Up to the present, 28 nations have chosen to recognize the Armenian genocide, sending Turkey into vicious spasms of rage. Those nations who have the courage to recognize the reality of history and Turkey's place in it have been threatened and slandered by Turkey. That Pope Francis has also chosen to speak of the Armenian suffering as a genocide simply confirms for Islamist Erdogan that the Christian and non-Islamic world is an enemy of both Islam and Turkey.

A Turkish army tank drives towards to the border in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 25, 2016. © Umit Bektas

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Hard Truths in the Public Record

"Already, the tightening polls have caused great angst to Democratic leaders as they have watched Republican incumbents and candidates gain in the crucial Senate contests, also to be decided this year. The politicos have gone from supreme confidence to great doubt about whether they have a chance to take back Senate control and they now generally concede the U.S. House of Representatives to the Republicans."
"But what if Hillary Clinton's health issues are more serious than she is letting on? Some experts on Parkinson's disease claim to see its symptoms in her recent conduct. Her health record is far from good."
"So the U.S. presidential campaign has been plunged into unknown territory. There has never been a candidate forced to withdraw in the middle of the campaign. Despite Clinton's determination to plow ahead, she may not be able to do so."
Dick Morris, author: Armageddon: How Trump Can Beat Hillary
Blood pressure: 100/70

No one can claim with any degree of justification that this man doesn't know the Washington scene and its politics from the close and intimate inside. Formerly ex-P)resident Bill Clinton's chief political advisor, this man has worked for over thirty American senators or governors as well as for foreign political executives. If anyone has the inside track on the persona, capabilities and background of the woman running as an entitled goal for President of the United States, he most be regarded as an outstanding candidate.

Studiously unimpressed with the Republican candidate's lack of political experience, combative and rudely insulting manner, he nonetheless notes that the team behind Donald Trump has prevailed upon him finally to tighten his address, and demonstrate his utter ignorance far less frequently by following a script prepared for him, abandoning for the most part -- albeit not entirely, given his return to the 'birther' controversy -- his clumsily ignorant bait-and-slander technique of attracting supporters.

Sept. 16, 2016 Donald Trump speaks in front of a group of Medal of Honor recipients and veterans during a news conference at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Exonerating himself and infecting Clinton with the disease they both revel in, the spores of his 'birther' denial of Barack Obama as a true-blue American and a Christian returned Trump to his bumptiously atrocious behaviour of the past year in grooming himself as the next president of the United States whose bloopers, accusations and stereotypes are so beloved of the typical politico-averse average American: "Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. President Obama was born in the United States. Period."

From incoherence to coherence and a return to incoherent blathering and outright lies. Wince and carry on. So do Americans truly envision this man as their soon-to-be president? Complacent with the reality of this non-stop village idiot setting the rules for the free world to follow? Of course, there's Hillary Clinton. Of course there is, and he and she enjoy the distrust and disfavour of 50 percent of voting Americans. Which translates nicely as half of the voting population having their heads screwed on right.

So, back to Clinton and setting aside the history of her conduct in the political arena, and her stint as Secretary of State along with her unfathomable decision-making on behalf of her country's security.
  • In 1998 during her New York campaign her right foot became grossly swollen and she was diagnosed with a large blood clot behind her right knee;
  • In 2005 she fainted, her aides catching her, blaming a gastrointestinal problem caused the interruption of a campaign speech;
  • In 2009 she fell, fracturing her right elbow and surgery followed;
  • In 2009 another blood clot developed, diagnosed as "deep vein thrombosis";
  • In 2011, she tripped and fell while boarding a plane;
  • In 2012, she fainted and fell, resulting in a concussion which her husband said "required six months of very serious work to get over";
  • Again in 2012 doctors discovered another, third blood clot in a large vein alongside her head between brain and skull;
  • In 2014 and 2015 she experienced prolonged coughing fits while speaking, attributing them to seasonal allergies;
  • In July of 2015 she experienced a seizure while campaigning, video recording her head moving uncontrollably for ten seconds;
  • At a 9/11 memorial service she became faint and required propping, then collapsed into a van, revealing eventually a diagnosis of pneumonia.
The scenario goes that, forced to withdraw from the presidential run-off, the Democratic National Committee would then be permitted to select a new candidate to replace Mrs. Clinton, with current Vice-President Joe Biden appearing to be the most preferentially logical choice, appealing to a relieved electorate who would bring him in with something close to popular acclaim, while the world, exhaled.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Telling It Like It Is ... Discreetly (alternately) A Mess of Pottage

"Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris."
"I would rather not have to vote for her [Hillary Clinton], although she is a friend I respect."
"A 70-year [old] person with a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational, with a husband still d---ing bimbos at home."
Clinton Presidential Library -- The newly-released photos underscore just how chummy GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump once was with the president and his wife Hillary.
"No need to debate it with you now, but Trump is a national disgrace and an international pariah."
"We all need to start voting for America and not our parties."
"Trump is taking on water. He doesn't have a GOP philosophy or even a conservative philosophy. We need a revolution and it will begin with the GOP crashing and burning up [in] its current form."
"Yup, the whole birther movement was racist. That's what the 99% believe. When Trump couldn't keep that up he said he also wanted to see if the certificate noted that he [Barack Obama] was a Muslim."
"To go on and call him an idiot just emboldens him [Trump]."
Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell

So now we know that there is substance to the allegations that Moscow has embarked on a mission to upend, embarrass and humiliate the United States, highlighting the absurdity of the fact that the most powerful, influential and military nation on Earth has fielded two presidential candidates, either of whom is certain to lead the country into a cesspool of errant directions, further despoiling the reputation of a nation that has indeed had an exceptional past, an enviable place in global regard, and which has, throughout its history balanced the ill it has done with the greater good.

The past two administrations, Republican under George W. Bush, and Democratic under Barack H. Obama, has suffered more than their share of disparaging views from abroad, and criticism from within. Each has good personal qualities; each made grievous errors in judgement. Each of those presidents held out great promise for their administrations, only to be buffeted by realities that led them to make choices most of which had questionable outcomes leading to greater world instability.

Each, in their disparate ways, opposing the other, and each confident that theirs was the right decision.

What is certain to follow in the wake of the new presidency is not only more of the same, but with an emphasis on 'more' in the sense of decision-making that will become more erratic and in the end help to make the world a more dangerous place than it already is. Both candidates are hugely flawed, as
unworthily egotistical candidates whose mettle needn't be challenged for the results of their promises to be known beforehand, causing earned apprehension world-wide.

Americans deserve better, and so does the greater world community.

There is no solace in knowing that the United States of America, conventionally relied upon to intervene on the side of human rights and the sanity of decency, has itself failed to come to terms with its obligations to itself as a pluralist society comprised of human beings capable of producing great scientific advances to advantage the world, while harbouring within itself a grudging acceptance of those of shared citizenship it considers inferior on the basis of perceived inherited traits.

The U.S. has 'saved the world' in a sense in notable ways; the destruction of Nazi Germany the most notable; challenges to brutal ideologies another; reasonably balancing the lopsided non-aligned nations co-opting of the United Nations another; encouraging liberal democracy in developing nations, even more. The withdrawal of its exceptional status under the Obama administration, humbly regarding itself as a nation among nations has served to belittle it in the regard of its challengers.

Moscow feels free to disport itself with American politics gone awry, having gained confidence in Vladimir Putin's demonstrated ability to manipulate American decision-making in vital matters influencing world affairs to reflect the Kremlin's line of thinking, not that of the United States, resulting in a demoralized America and a triumphant Russia. It is a war of wits and words with deeds trailing after, in humble obedience to a tune out of a contrary ideology's playbook.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Serendipitously Benefiting Bashar al-Assad

A pro-government tank in Aleppo, 9 September
Government forces have regained ground in Aleppo -- George OURFALIAN

"People are going about their business and children are even playing in the street."
"A Russian warplane is above us right now, but it is not signalling that it will drop anything. We are praying that it won't strike."
Mohamed Omar, civil defence volunteer, Aleppo

"We are trying to remain hopeful."
"We need petrol and food, fresh produce. We have been depending mostly on vegetables that we grow ourselves. We are currently just trying to survive the day."
Mohib Abdelsalam, 26, emergency responder, Aleppo Revolutionaries group

"We haven't heard any planes in the sky, and we haven't documented any [ceasefire] violations in our area."
Abu Muhammad, activist, lawyer, Kafranbel, Idlib province

"We've seen violations by both sides. We're continuing to monitor this very closely."
U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner

"The UN convoy from Turkey to eastern Aleppo is still in [the] customs area on the border this morning because of lack of de facto assurances of safe passage by all parties," Laerke said.
"The convoy is ready and will move as soon as conditions allow."
Jens Laerke, spokesman, UN humanitarian office
A boy carries a toy gun while riding a pick-up truck with other boys during a demonstration calling for aid to reach Aleppo near Castello road in Aleppo, Syria, September 14, 201
Children, one carrying a toy gun, protest against continuing aid delays in Aleppo -=- Reuters
According to United Nations reports, between 250,000 and 275,000 people in rebel-held parts of Aleppo, under siege since early July, are still awaiting the delivery of medical and food aid. The convoys, fully provisioned, have been positioned at the Turkish border, prepared to enter at any time but they have still not been given clearance. They carry a month's supply of food for 40,000 people, but 48 hours after the ceasefire began, they remain stuck at the Turkish border town of Cilvegozu. 
The emergency priority of delivering aid to the besieged eastern part of the city is being held up by lack of agreement between the two sides in the conflict, amid safety concerns. The major point of contention is Bashar al-Assad's government insisting on its imperative to control any aid that flows into the city. "It's crucially important [that] the necessary security arrangements" be made to enable the convoy to proceed, emphasized UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

"I have been urging the Russian government to make sure that they exercise influence on the Syrian government, and also the American side to make sure that Syrian armed groups, they also fully co-operate." The Syrian regime insists it must be in control of anything and everything that happens in the ruined country; it will only permit aid to enter once it is co-ordinated through its own auspices, and those of the United Nations, to reach Aleppo.
Syrian youths sits at a cafe in the government-held area of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo as they celebrate the Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday on September 13, 2016, a day after a fragile ceasefire was brokered. In the government-held western Aleppo, which is regularly targeted by rebel rocket fire, residents enjoyed the quiet of the morning and expressed hope that the truce would last.
Syrians in government-held western Aleppo celebrate Eid al-Adha amid the ceasefire -- AFP
Syrians in government-controlled areas of Aleppo have no fears of being bombed, since it is only the regime and its allies that are equipped and capable of bombing the civilians they target in the east. In Aleppo where life is 'normal', it can be enjoyed, something that Sunni Syrians have not experienced in five years. No shortage of food, gas or medical supplies let alone electrical power to enjoy lives of normalcy in those areas loyal to a butchering regime.

Whatever else happens, Bashar al-Assad stands to gain from the ceasefire that has been extended for an additional 48 hours. The issues bargained by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov are plans to coordinate attacks against the two major terrorist groups in Syria, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and the al-Qaeda-linked (but disengaged to appear more 'moderate') Jabhat Fateh al-Sham will relieve, if they are successful, the regime from two main sources of opposition.

Aleppo map


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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Saving A "United" Syria

"We as a nation ... are delivering a message that the Syrian state is determined to recover all regions from the terrorists and restore security, infrastructure."
"We come today here to replace the fake freedom they [Sunni Syrian citizens] tried to market at the beginning of the crisis ... with real freedom."
"Not the freedom that begins with them and is sustained by dollars ... and by some promises of positions [referring to the U.S. allying with rebels in support of a more representative regime]."
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

"[Any effort structured to put a stop to the suffering of Syrians] is a step in the right direction and we will deal with it positively."
Syrian National Coalition statement

"[Concern over an enforcement process aside, the opposition commits to compliance with the truce] because it is incredibly important that aid reaches people and that there is a decrease in the numbers of people dying."
"Also, we are hoping this is the beginning of a political solution to conflict."
Yasir Ibrahim al-Yusuf, representative, Noureddine al-Zinki movement

Syrian men carrying babies make their way through the rubble of destroyed buildings following a reported airstrike on the rebel-held Salihin neighborhood of the northern city of Aleppo, September 12. (Ameer Alhalbi/AFP/Getty Images

Syrian President al-Assad's statement oozes sanctimony in speaking of terrorists and the restoration of security and infrastructure. For one thing, from the very start of the Syrian civil war when peaceful protests by Sunni Syrians asked only for equal treatment with the minority Alawite citizens whom Assad represents, he responded with brutality against protesters he characterized as 'scum' and 'terrorists'.

Unwilling to entertain the option of listening and extending equality to all Syrians, he chose instead to launch a searingly vicious war against his critics.

That, in and of itself, instantly transformed Syrian Sunnis from critics, and protesters, to participants in a conflict of survival, when civil war became a reality because Sunnis were forced to defend themselves and their neighbourhoods from the military assaults, arrests, incarceration and torture practised on civilians, including children who aroused suspicion in the mind of their dictator who would brook no criticism for his methods of governing the country.

Bashar al-Assad alone is responsible for the plight of Syrians, that over half of the pre-conflict population has had to flee their homes and of that number another half have become refugees in flight from their own government's malign intention to quell the public distaste for his tribal, sectarian divisions of practised inequality. As for restoration of the destroyed infrastructure, that too falls at the feet of a tyrant who chose to bomb his citizens rather than listen to their grievances.

This latest agreement reached between the United States and Russia acting as arbitrators between the rebel forces and the Syrian regime has raised hope in the minds of the rebel factions who prefer to negotiate with the man who has felt no compunction over using his people as targets for chemical gas attacks and barrel bomb shrapnel assaults, killing countless men, women and children. By last count, a number approaching a half-million have died in Syria in the past five years of conflict.

In his statements, Assad sounds typically belligerent, there is not an iota of conciliation in his tone or his intentions. The U.S. signed onto the agreement in the understanding that what will eventually result from negotiations is the departure of Bashar al-Assad from rule of the country. Assad interprets whatever was agreed upon in his own inimitable manner; with the considerable backing of Moscow and Tehran and Hezbollah, along with Shiite militias, he intends to rout all opposition and restore to himself the territory he once ruled.

As an immediate sign of his good will in accepting the ceasefire agreement, President Assad has sent more messages of responsible governance in the form of helicopter gunships releasing barrel bombs on an Aleppo neighbourhood even while loyalist forces have gone about shelling a route intended to be used for the delivery of humanitarian aid to the beleaguered city.
"To clarify: the arrangement announced last week makes no provision whatsoever for the U.S. and Russia to approve strikes by the Syrian regime, and this is not something we could ever envision doing."
U.S. State Department

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Volatile, Vicious Palestinian Hate-Mongering

Police keep Arab-Canadians celebrating Al Quds day and Jewish-Canadians protesters along with Gay activists apart at Queen's Park on Saturday July 2, 2016. Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network

In one of the most violent parts of the world, where Arab and Muslim tribal, sectarian antipathy to their varied counterparts has bred an atmosphere of brutal repression, oppression and vicious attacks, the one nation whose religion is exempt from the direction that motivates those that follow Islamist principles and values is portrayed as the catalyst for all the ills that befall the Middle East. When Israel was declared a universally accepted nation for and of Jews of the diaspora, the assembled armies of its surrounding neighbours marched to destroy the fledgling state.

The Arabs from Jordan and Egypt who settled in the ancient homeland of the Jews, co-opted for themselves the identification long denoting Jews as Palestinians, just as they co-opted the history of the ancient Hebrews declaring that the notable Biblical figures of Judaic history were in reality not Jews, but Arab 'Palestinians'. They certainly had an earlier, influential precedent to mount their claims; that of the introduction by the Prophet Mohammad of Islam to the Arab Bedouins of the 7th Century after having looted from Judaism its precepts, laws and sacred symbols; even its prophets.

The looting continues to the present day, with any historical artefacts attesting to the presence of Jews in ancient Jerusalem discovered by the Muslim authority (Islamic Waqf) -- invested with the care of the Temple Mount, the most sacred place in Judaism, but diplomatically handed over to Islamic rule as the Noble Sanctuary for its vaunted connection to Mohammad's rise to Paradise -- reacts on their discovery by hiding or destroying the artefacts validating the historical connection of Jews to Jerusalem.

Arab Palestinians, through the Palestinian Authority, have long launched  two sets of conflict against Israel in an effort to destroy the Jewish state. One is their violent attacks in succeeding modes dating from the earliest hijacking of planes and ships to bring attention to their claims of ownership of the land apportioned through the medium of Partition by the United Nations to both Jews and Arabs, which Jews accepted and Arabs did not.

That violence gradually changed to become grisly episodes of suicide bombings capable of destroying many lives at a time, when explosives-laden vests were detonated in crowded malls, buses, restaurants; anywhere that people gathered in the civic and civil arenas. Martyrdom in the name of 'resistance' against the presence of Jews among Arabs became a motivating social movement to destroy Israel.

The second half of the equation arose through a hugely successful public relations appeal to the international community, portraying Israel as a brutal occupier of Arab land, intent on committing genocide. Claims that were specifically addressed to the European and North American left, and adopted by unions, church groups and academics. Able to penetrate those groups and find support there, not least because anti-Semitism runs so deep in many societies but whose presence is denied.

Throughout Europe and North America, academic institutions have been co-opted to the 'cause' of the Palestinians; that cause obviously being a plaintive distress against the heartless, destructive agenda of the State of Israel against the helpless Palestinians. Jewish students on campuses were treated to jeers and accusations by those supporting the 'Palestinian cause'. Al-Quds Day (The concept that Jerusalem belongs to Islam), and BDS support is high on campuses. Visiting Israeli academics are boycotted.

Claims run rampant that the Israeli Defence Forces are in league with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, with placards reading "ISIS and IDF are the same: Only difference is their name", as well as "humanity devastated Zionist collaborated, ISIS and IDF activated", along with "Boycott IsraHell". Graphic images of Palestinian children drowning in blood, abused by the IDF make the point for genocide. Speakers claim the IDF executed a 17-year-old Arab, a Palestinian who had knifed to death a 13-year-old Israeli girl in her bed; her killer shot to death as he attempted to murder the rest of her family.

Little wonder Jewish students feel endangered, intimidated, and fearful as they attend university classes, with their university administrations loathe to 'interfere' in these exhibitions of free speech, and choosing to capitulate to free speech imperatives requiring restraints when speakers the defenders of Palestinian 'rights' declare to be off limits at the university become an issue, because they defend Israel against this hateful slander.

During Al-Quds Day events "die ins" are popular, and charades of fake IDF soldiers attacking students who pose as Palestinian are performed. The Palestinians love to portray themselves as violently oppressed. And Muslims in general claim that they are the victims of slander and of hate attacks. When the truth is that Jews are the most common targets of hate crimes. The contortion of reality and the destruction of truth is a usefully convenient and highly successful tool of those who feel they have been oppressed and who throw in their lot with hate-mongering Jew-haters.

Arab-Canadians celebrate Al Quds day and Jewish-Canadians protest at Queen's Park on Saturday July 2, 2016. Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network
Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun
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