Archive for Iran

Jailed Iranian Pastor Decries “Insulting Words” Against Islam

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , on May 11, 2012 by loonwatch

Pastor Youcef Naderkhani

Unfortunately, Pastor Youcef Naderkhani remains jailed in Iran, despite international pressure to secure his release. In March, we published the story of his plight, Message to Iran: Free Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani:

Youcef Nadarkhani should be released from Iranian jail immediately. In fact, he should have never been jailed in the first place.

Nadarkhani faces possible execution in Iran for the “crime” of apostasy and Christian evangelism. In the face of mounting international pressure, the Iranian regime has said Nadarkhani was actually charged with more serious crimes unrelated to religion, but barring new evidence to the contrary, this appears to be a face-saving lie.

The regime in the so-called “Islamic” Republic of Iran urgently needs to reread the Qur’an, including Chapter 109, Surat Al-Kafirun -The Disbelievers, and (among others) verses 2:625:69, and 2:256.

Since that time, the Iranian regime has made the situation worse by arresting his defense attorney. Yet despite the hardship he has faced at the hands of the regime in Iran, Pastor Naderkhani does not blame Islam or Muslims for his ordeal. In a letter he wrote from prison, he thanked his many supporters and spoke out against those who use his cause to bash Islam.

Jailed Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani writes thank you letter to supporters from prison

By , Fox News

The Christian pastor on death row in Iran has reportedly written a letter thanking his supporters and blasting those who he said use “insulting words” against Islam in what he considers a misguided effort to help his cause.

Washington-based human rights group American Center for Law and Justice released what it says is a letter written by Youcef Nadarkhani earlier this week from a prison in the Lakan Province of Iran, where he is currently being held  for charges of practicing Christianity and renouncing Islam. If the letter is real, it is the first time Nadarkhani has been heard from in a year.

“First, I would like to inform all of my beloved brothers and sisters that I am in perfect health in the flesh and spirit,” begins the letter, which is addressed to “All those who are concerned and worried about my current situation.”

“From time to time I am informed about the news, which is spreading in the media, about my current situation…or campaigns and human rights activities which are going on against the charges which are applied to me.” Another passage from the pastor’s letter reads, “I do believe that these kind of activities can be very helpful in order to reach freedom, and respecting the human rights in a right way can bring forth great results in this.”

Nadarkhani also mentions those who have used his cause to attack Islam, saying “burning and insulting” is not “reverent” behavior. He did not specifically mention controversial Florida Pastor Terry Jones, who claims to have burned Korans in April to show solidarity with Nadarkhani.

The letter was obtained by evangelic ministry Present Truth, which operates missions in Iran. The group also had the letter translated into English from the pastor’s native language of Farsi.

“Present Truth Ministries received the letter from its sources inside Iran. We believe the sources providing this letter have proven to be credible throughout this case and, therefore, we believe that Pastor Youcef is the author,” Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the ACLJ, told FoxNews.com.

Nadarkhani has been jailed since being arrested in 2009 after he went to his son’s school to complain about them starting mandatory Koran classes.

He was then charged with apostasy from Islam. He was found guilty by the Iranian Supreme Court and sentenced to death and has been imprisoned ever since.

His attorney in Iran was recently arrested and sentenced to nine years in prison. He has also been barred from practicing or teaching law for ten years.

Declaring War on ‘Political Islamism’

Posted in Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2012 by loonwatch
William KristolWilliam Kristol

The neocons have been around for decades, first to mobilize support against Soviet-led communism, and then, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, to wage a so-called “Global War on Terrorism.”

As the architects of the spectacularly disastrous Iraq War, the necons should have been thoroughly discredited and relegated to the political fringe. Yet it seems these foreign policy hawks have simply retooled their message, founded a new think tank, and are poised to wreak havoc once again.

By Robert Parry

Like George W. Bush, Mitt Romney has responded to his lack of foreign policy experience by surrounding himself with clever neoconservatives who are now looking forward to expanding Bush’s “global war on terror” into what neocon ideologue William Kristol calls a U.S. “war with political Islamism.”

In a Washington Post op-ed on Thursday, Kristol dismissed President Barack Obama’s phased military withdrawal from Afghanistan – and his statement that “this time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end” – as foolish wishful thinking.

“It would be wonderful if Obama’s view of 9/11 and its implications were correct,” Kristol wrote. “But if it’s not going to be true that Afghanistan is where ‘this time of war … will end’ — even if Afghanistan is pacified and we’re no longer fighting there — then the American people should know that.”

What the American people should know, in Kristol’s view, is that a post-Obama administration – presumably headed by Republican Mitt Romney and staffed by neocon hawks – will undertake a grander “war with political Islamism,” a conflict whose full dimensions even “war president” George W. Bush shrank from.

“This isn’t a pleasant reality, and even the Bush administration wasn’t quite ready to confront it,” Kristol wrote. “But President George W. Bush did capture the truth that we are engaged in — and had no choice but to engage in — a bigger war, a ‘global war on terror,’ of which Afghanistan was only one front.

“There are, of course, problems with ‘global war on terror’ as a phrase and an organizing principle. But it does capture what we might call the ‘big’ view of 9/11 and its implications.”

As part of an even “bigger” view of 9/11, Kristol called for engaging in a broader conflict, ranging “from Pakistan in the east to Tunisia in the west, and most visibly now in places such as Iran and Yemen and Somalia.”

In other words, Kristol and the neocons expect a President Romney to let them refocus the United States onto a “war” not simply against al-Qaeda and its affiliates but against nations where “political Islamism” gains power, which could include Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and many other Muslim countries.

One might as well say the United States will be at war with the Muslim world, though Kristol hastily added that this “war with political Islamism” does not always have to involve open warfare.

He wrote: “This doesn’t mean we need to be deploying troops and fighting ground wars all around the globe. [But] unfortunately, the war in which we are engaged won’t end with peace in, or withdrawal from, Afghanistan.”

A Romney Presidency?

Most political analysts say the November elections will turn on the economy with foreign policy a second-tier issue. In addition, many progressives have denounced Obama and his more targeted approach of relying on drone strikes to kill alleged terrorists as unacceptable, with some on the Left vowing not to support his reelection.

But it shouldn’t be missed that a President Romney would reinstall the neocons, including many who worked for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, at the levers of American power. Indeed, Romney’s foreign policy “white paper” was largely drafted by neocons. Even the name, “An American Century,” was an homage to the neocon manifesto of the 1990s, “Project for a New American Century.”

Romney’s foreign policy advisers include:

Cofer Black, a key Bush counterterrorism official; Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security; Eliot Cohen, a neocon intellectual; Paula Dobriansky, a former Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs; Eric Edelman, a national security aide to Vice President Cheney; Michael Hayden, the ex-director of CIA and the National Security Agency who defended Bush’s warrantless spying program; Robert Kagan, a Washington Post columnist; former Navy Secretary John Lehmanand Daniel Senor, spokesman for Bush’s Iraq occupation.

Romney’s foreign policy also would restore George W. Bush’s “with us or against us” approach to the world – except that Romney, like Kristol, advocates even a more confrontational style, essentially a new Cold War against “rogue nations,” a revised “axis of evil.”

“A special problem is posed by the rogue nations of the world: Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba,” Romney’s white paper declares. “Their interests and values are diametrically opposed to our own and they threaten international peace and security in numerous ways, including, as in the case of North Korea and Iran, by seeking nuclear weapons, or by harboring criminal networks, exporting weapons, and sponsoring terrorists. …

“Mitt Romney would work to protect and advance America’s interests by employing all the instruments of national power at the president’s disposal. He will defend our country, defend our allies, and restore American leadership around the world. It is only American power — conceived in the broadest terms — that can provide the foundation of an international system that ensures the security and prosperity of the United States and our friends and allies. …

“A Romney foreign policy will proceed with clarity and resolve. The United States will clearly enunciate its interests and values. Our friends and allies will not have doubts about where we stand and what we will do to safeguard our interests and theirs; neither will our rivals, competitors, and adversaries. …

“The United States will apply the full spectrum of hard and soft power to influence events before they erupt into conflict. In defending America’s national interest in a world of danger, the United States should always retain a powerful military capacity to defend itself and its allies.”

No Apologies

The Romney “white paper” also treats any recognition of past American errors as unacceptable “apologizing” and calls any notion of seeking multilateral consensus on a problem as an admission of weakness.

“A perspective has been gaining currency, including within high councils of the Obama administration, that regards that United States as a power in decline. And not only is the United States regarded as in decline, but that decline is seen as both inexorable and a condition that can and should be managed for the global good rather than reversed.

“Adherents of this view argue that America no longer possesses the resources or the moral authority to play a leadership role in the world. They contend that the United States should not try to lead because we will only succeed in exhausting ourselves and spreading thin our limited resources.

“They counsel America to step aside, allow other powers to rise, and pursue policies that will ‘manage’ the relative change in our national fortunes. They recoil from the idea of American Exceptionalism, the idea that an America founded on the universal principles of human liberty and human dignity has a unique history and a special role to play in world affairs.

“They do not see an international system undergirded by American values of economic and political freedom as necessarily superior to a world system organized by multilateral organizations like the United Nations. Indeed, they see the United Nations as an instrument that can rein in and temper what they regard as the ill-considered overreaching of the United States.

“This view of America in decline, and America as a potentially malign force, has percolated far and wide. It is intimately related to the torrent of criticism, unprecedented for an American president, that Barack Obama has directed at his own country. …

“Among the ‘sins’ for which he has repented in our collective name are American arrogance, dismissiveness, and derision; for dictating solutions, for acting unilaterally, for acting without regard for others; for treating other countries as mere proxies, for unjustly interfering in the internal affairs of other nations, for committing torture, for fueling anti-Islamic sentiments, for dragging our feet in combating global warming, and for selectively promoting democracy.

“The sum total of President Obama’s rhetorical efforts has been a form of unilateral disarmament in the diplomatic and moral sphere. A President who is so troubled by America’s past cannot lead us into the future. … Mitt Romney believes in restoring the sinews of American power.”

Hawks in the Middle East

As for the Middle East, Romney’s team advocates unquestioned support for Israel both regarding its treatment of the Palestinians and toward Iran:

“Israel is the United States’ closest ally in the Middle East and a beacon of democracy and freedom in the region. The tumult in the Middle East has heightened Israel’s security problems. Indeed, this is an especially dangerous moment for the Jewish state. …

“To ensure Israel’s security, Mitt Romney will work closely with Israel to maintain its strategic military edge. … The United States must forcefully resist the emergence of anti-Israel policies in Turkey and Egypt, and work to make clear that their interests are not served by isolating Israel.

“With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Romney’s policy will differ sharply from President Obama’s. President Obama and his administration have badly misunderstood the dynamics of the region. Instead of fostering stability and security, they have diminished U.S. authority and painted both Israel and ourselves into a corner.

“President Obama for too long has been in the grip of several illusions. One is that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is the central problem in the region. This has been disproved repeatedly by events, most recently and most dramatically by the eruption of the Arab Spring.

“But it nonetheless led the administration to believe that distancing the United States from Israel was a smart move that would earn us credits in the Arab world and somehow bring peace closer. The record proves otherwise. The key to negotiating a lasting peace is an Israel that knows it will be secure. …

“[Under President Romney] the United States will reduce assistance to the Palestinians if they continue to pursue United Nations recognition or form a unity government that includes Hamas, a terrorist group dedicated to Israel’s destruction.

“The United States needs a president who will not be a fair-weather friend of Israel. The United States must work as a country to resist the worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel. We must fight against that campaign in every forum and label it the anti-Semitic poison that it is. Israel’s existence as a Jewish state is not up for debate.”

Regarding Iran, the Romney “white paper” repeats many of the canards about Iranian intentions that have been debunked even by Israelis, such as the mistranslation of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statement regarding “wiping Israel off the map.” But Romney’s neocon foreign policy team even suggests using that mistranslation to indict Ahmadinejad for war crimes:

“Romney will also push for greater diplomatic isolation of Iran. The United States should make it plain that it is a disgrace to provide Iran’s Holocaust-denying president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the trappings and respect offered to responsible heads of state. He should not be invited to foreign capitals or feted by foreign leaders.

“Quite the opposite. Given his calls for Israel to be wiped off the map, Ahmadinejad should be indicted for incitement to genocide under Article III of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”

So, even Americans disappointed in Obama’s foreign policy should recognize what the stakes are in November. They include whether to put hard-line neocons back in charge of U.S. foreign policy and the American military.

[To read more of Robert Parry’s writings, you can now order his last two books, Secrecy & Privilege andNeck Deep, at the discount price of only $16 for both. For details on the special offer, click here.]  

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

Salah Al-Nasrawi: A Lesson From Iran: Islamic Sharia is Flexible After All

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , on April 28, 2012 by loonwatch

Stop Stoning

It might surprise many to learn the Qur’an never commands “stoning,” though death by stoning is specified as a punishment numerous times in the Bible:

For taking ”accursed things”

Achan … took of the accursed thing. … And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. … So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Joshua 7:1-26

For cursing or blaspheming

And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him. Leviticus 24:16

For adultery

If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city. Deuteronomy 22:23-24

For animals

“If a bull gores a man or woman to death, the bull is to be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible. Exodus 21:28

For a woman who is not a virgin on her wedding night

If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her … and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: And the damsel’s father shall say … these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. … But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she dieDeuteronomy 22:13-21

For worshipping other gods

If there be found among you … that … hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them … Then shalt thou … stone them with stones, till they die. Deuteronomy 17:2-5

If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers … thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die. Deuteronomy 13:5-10

For disobeying parents

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother … Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city … And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he dieDeuteronomy 21:18-21

For witches and wizards

A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20:27

For giving your children to Molech

Whosoever … giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stonesLeviticus 20:2

For breaking the Sabbath

They found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. … And the LORD said unto Moses, the man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones…. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded MosesNumbers 15:32-56

For cursing the king

Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die1 Kings 21:10

In the modern world, it’s Muslim-majority countries, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Afghanistan, that have become infamous for brutal punishments, including stoning. Ignoring dozens of Muslim-majority countries that don’t engage in such practices, anti-Muslim bigots constantly shine a spotlight on the most regressive regimes, leaving the public with the impression harsh punishments are an inevitable feature of Islamic Law.

Yet Iran has recently passed a law abolishing stoning as a punishment for adultery. As fixated as the major media usually are on that country, the story has attracted relatively scant coverage–and predictably, it’s been completely ignored by hate sites devoted to demonizing Muslims and generating hysteria about “creeping sharia.”

A lesson from Iran: Islamic Sharia is flexible after all

by Salah Al-Nasrawi, Ahram (Egypt)

A new law by the Islamic Republic of Iran to abolish stoning to death for adulterers passed last month has been received with a lot of skepticism in the West and little attention in the Arab and Islamic world.

But the ruling could have a significant bearing on the debate about the role of Islamic Sharia as Islamic groups gain power throughout the Middle East with many of them aspire to see Islamic jurisdiction as the law of the land.

Iran’s Guardian Council and Iranian parliament have approved an amendment to the country’s penal code by removing all executions by stoning which will come into effect once signed by the country’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Under Iran’s old penal code, stoning to death was one of the sentences applied for adultery. Iranian activists who campaigned against the practice said at least 99 men and women have been executed by stoning over the last 30 years.

The stoning sentence against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 45-year-old Iranian woman, on charges of adultery and murder in 2006 has turned the spotlight on Iran as one of very few countries which adopts Sharia, or Islamic law.

The concept was equated in the West and among Muslim secularists with a variety of retributions including stoning of adulterers, chopping of limbs of thieves, death in blasphemy cases and restrictions on rights of women and minorities.

Ashtiani’s was convicted of having an “illicit relationship” with two men after the murder of her husband and was sentenced to 99 lashes. The verdict led to an international condemnation which has made Tehran delay carrying out the sentence.

While Ashtiani’s case points to a larger divide between the West and Iran, the punishment of the mother of two has highlighted how the contentious issue is a practice that has largely survived through centuries’ long cultural heritage.

The sentence, and now its abolishment, renewed a theological controversy in Islam on whether the harsh punishment is God’s commands, or a man-made effort to interpret Islamic Sharia, or Islamic law.

The case has spilled over into larger and even more complex issues within Islamic discourse, such as what consist Sharia, and if it is compatible with modern day human rights standards.

Most of Iran’s legal code was based on the constitution enacted under guidance of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, after the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled secular regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

The document declared Iran as a Muslim nation whose laws are derived from Islamic Sharia, which it defines as God’s “exclusive sovereignty and the right to legislate”, based on God’s commands in Quran and Sunnah, which is Prophet’s Mohammad’s teachings.

Sharia is still wide open for judgment under Islamic principle of Ijtihad. The term means an endeavor of a Muslim scholar to derive a rule of divine law from the Quran and Prophet Mohammad’s heritage.

Since the Islamic revolution some Iranian clerics have said stoning should be stopped because it may harm the reputation of Islam or the Islamic nation.

Others believed stoning is a divine punishment.

Some Muslim scholars believe stoning to death was never contemplated by Islam as a punishment for the act of adultery since the Quran does not even mention the word “stoning” or ‘death by stoning in any of its verses.

According to the Holy book of Islam all sexual intercourse outside the marital bond is considered sinful. Some scholars say Quran makes no distinction between adultery and fornication; in both cases the punishment is flogging to those found guilty.

In Quran verse “The Light (24:2) says: “The adulteress and the adulterer shall each be given a hundred lashes. Let no pity for them to cause you to disobey Allah.”

On the other hand, many Islamic legal scholars and judges agree that the Quranic text does not refer to executions by stoning but state they are part of the Sunnah.  They say there is no necessity that all orders of Sharia to be mentioned in Quran, one by one.

Other clerics say that even if stoning was practiced by Prophet Mohammad and his immediate followers it cannot be enforced nowadays. They believe stoning is a part of Islamic law but only the Prophet and his immediate successors are authorized or qualified to order and implement it.

In theory, stoning to death is still enacted in laws of countries which apply Islamic Sharia, such as Saudi Arabia, and Sudan. It has been also carried out in the previous Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and some parts of Nigeria.

Iran’s amendment of the penal code is believed to have been adopted in response to international criticism of its violations of human rights. It also coincides with mounting tension with the West over its nuclear program and increasing fear of a military conflict.

Critics, however, say the new code still considers adultery for married persons as a crime, although it doesn’t designate any specific punishment for it, leaving that for the judge to rely on a fatwa by a reliable cleric. Human rights organizations argued that such measures were inadequate and insisted that real change in the law is necessary.

Whether Iran wants to improve its human rights record or it is trying to ward off increasing Western pressure, the revision of its Islamic law now remains highly significant from both political and theological standpoints.

As Islamic groups gain power throughout the Middle East, the role of Sharia is coming under increased focus. Modernist forces in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia were shocked by the remarkable collective rise to power of these parties and the sudden transformation of their civil states into states with budding theocratic inclinations.

While fundamentalist movements, such Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Tunisia’s Enhhada Party and the Justice and Development Party in Morocco speak about a broadly defined application of Sharia as “a main source” for legislation, other ultra-orthodox groups want a full-fledged Islamic legal code.

Yet there are increasing signs that show Islamic groups in these countries want more religion than previously admitted. Multiple reports and research works are suggesting that these countries are evolving towards more conservative rules and an Islamisation of social life.

There have already been calls from some Islamists to close down the tourist sites and to impose Islamic dress codes on the costal resorts. Women are also worried that political Islam might impose new restrictions on them such as forcing them to wear the Hijab (veil) and restrict their personal freedom.

Christians, a religious minority in the countries recently taken over by Islamists, complain of more intolerance and say they fear for their safety after increased cases of sectarian violence and discrimination.

Many secularists and liberals in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, and other countries now want to see their next constitutions to have solid guarantees of democratic and civic commitments.

Here comes the Iranian experiment of abolishing a deep rooted Islamic concept of retribution and the lesson to be drawn from that by newly empowered Islamic groups in these three Arab countries and perhaps in others that will soon follow.

In Egypt, where the debate will open soon on drafting a new constitution, focus will increase on the role of Sharia in the country’s political and social life, especially in balancing Islam with democracy, personal freedom and modernity.

Although it is generally agreed among mainstream political groups that Sharia is the point of reference in legislation, the challenge will remain about how to distinguish what directly comes from the Quran and Sunnah from man-made interpretation of God’s revelations and the Prophet’s teachings.

Article 2 of Iran’s constitution provides such a room for maneuverability by combining both Ijtihad by qualified Faqih, or scholar(s) and the resort to “sciences, arts and the most advanced results of human experience” with Quran and Sunnah in legislation.

Under such overwhelming circumstances, the most liberal, secularists and reform minded Egyptian Muslims can argue for is that any stipulation of Islamic Sharia in the new constitution should provide flexibility, so that Islamic laws should be viewed and amended in light of time and changing circumstances.

New and Improved Rules for Drone Warfare

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , on April 27, 2012 by loonwatch

Drone in Iran

This photo released, Dec. 8, 2011, by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, claims to show US RQ-170 Sentinel drone which Tehran says its forces downed. (AP Photo)

Drone warfare has made killing people from afar easy and virtually risk free.

Now the Iranians claim that they’ve reverse engineered a captured US drone and cracked its secrets. This claim was met with skepticism, but even if it’s true and the technology proves useful, can anyone imagine Iranian drones in the skies over Western countries? Of course not!

In the real world, we kill and they die, not the other way around. If that sacred rule is broken, they are clearly engaging in “terrorism,” which merely gives us an excuse to unleash even more death and destruction. If the Iranians don’t grasp the rules, they can expect to be obliterated.

US drones prowl the skies of a growing list of countries, killing suspected terrorists and innocent civilians with mindless efficiency. Heavy with sarcasm, Hamilton Nolan describes new, relaxed (and frightening) rules that will allow the US to expand drone warfare, in Yemen and beyond.

New and Improved Rules for Drone Warfare

by Hamilton NolanThe Gawker

Good news for people who love freedom, hate terrorism, and people who do not live in Yemen and will never visit Yemen and do not appear to be from Yemen or its surrounding areas: the U.S. government is relaxing its rules for drone strikes in Yemen. When it comes to incinerating more or less inscrutable targets with unseen missile attacks like Zeus himself, why be encumbered by a bunch of bureaucratic rules?

The new policy reportedly ”includes targeting fighters whose names aren’t known but who are deemed to be high-value terrorism targets or threats to the U.S.” No more pesky hours of intelligence-gathering before you can vaporize that jeep from above. But do these rules go far enough in eliminating those who Hate Our Freedoms and Familes and Children, and Our Children and Families’ Freedoms™? We think not. A few common sense edits for the future of warfare:

  • If someone is carrying a machine gun, RPG, or shoulder-fired missile that looks like an imminent threat to any Coalition soldiers, whether from the Western world or from the Muslim world, they may be killed.
  • If someone in an area known for militant activity appears to be transporting cargo with brown and grey markings consistent with databases of the graphic skin that covers the outside of missiles or rockets and moves with an intent to set up and fire those armaments at Coalition forces, they may be blown up.
  • If someone is determined through confirmed intelligence of a reliable nature to be forming a terrorist group with the intent and capability of causing mass casualties in America or in any territory of an American ally in the Middle East, and they cannot be apprehended without significant risk of loss of civilian life, they may be kabazongaed to bababooey with a f***ing Hellfire, bro.

A little common sense goes a long way.

**********

Christians for Palestine

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2012 by loonwatch

 

Jerusalem Church

“Jesus was the first Palestinian martyr.” –Yasser Arafat

A few months back Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren penned an article titled, “Israel and the plight of Palestinian Christians,” in which he attempted to manipulate the reality of Christians in the Holy Land. Oren’s article came on the heels of an Islamophobic screed by Ayaan H. Ali in Newsweek titled, “The War on Christians.”

Also, today, Bob Simon of 60 minutes will be reporting on the “slow exodus of Christians from the Holy Land.”

As the birthplace of Christianity, Palestine is home to the oldest Christian populations in the world. But after centuries of continuous presence in the Holy Land, the creation of modern-day Israel in 1948 precipitated a quiet exodus of native Christians.

Although Christian opinion on the Arab-Israeli conflict has always been mixed in Western countries, many evangelicals have been blind to the plight of  Palestinians in favor of Israeli hardliners. Though their unconditional support for Israel can be attributed to many factors, the phenomenon of “Christian Zionism” can at least in part be traced to concerted outreach efforts on behalf of Israel–bolstered by negative portrayals of the Palestinian people, and an absence of their narrative.

Christian Palestinian groups like Sabeel Center and Al-Bushra have had an on-line presence for years, but they were not widely known outside the Middle East. Recently, Palestinian Christians reached out to the global community with the launch of the Kairos Palestine Document, modeled after the South African Kairos Document published in 1985 as part of a successful effort to abolish Apartheid:

This document is the Christian Palestinians’ word to the world about what is happening in Palestine. It is written at this time when we wanted to see the Glory of the grace of God in this land and in the sufferings of its people. In this spirit the document requests the international community to stand by the Palestinian people who have faced oppression, displacement, suffering and clear apartheid for more than six decades. The suffering continues while the international community silently looks on at the occupying State, Israel. Our word is a cry of hope, with love, prayer and faith in God.

We address it first of all to ourselves and then to all the churches and Christians in the world, asking them to stand against injustice and apartheid, urging them to work for a just peace in our region, calling on them to revisit theologies that justify crimes perpetrated against our people and the dispossession of the land.

Also, last month in the West Bank city of  Christ’s birth, the Bethlehem Bible College  held an annual conference under the banner, “Christ at the Checkpoint.” Hundreds of Christians from around the world attended, and organizers hailed the event as, ”a major breakthrough in the evangelical world.”

While Palestinian Christians have so far reached only a small minority of their Western counterparts, their apparent success has captured the attention of Israel’s increasingly worried supporters.

Christians for Palestine

By Lee SmithTablet

For most American Jews and Israelis, evangelical Christians are synonymous with zealous, biblically inspired support of the Jewish state—so zealous, in fact, that it makes some Jews uneasy. But the days when Israel could count on unconditional support from evangelicals may be coming to an end.

Last month, a conference convened in Bethlehem by Palestinian activists and Christian clergy long at odds with the Jewish state managed to bring a number of leading lights from the evangelical community in North America and Europe to the Holy Land. Many of the speeches at the conference touched on themes that one would commonly hear at a BDS teach-in, like blaming the entire Middle East conflict on Israel’s occupation and the settlements.

Indeed, the name of the conference, Christ at the Checkpoint, is indicative of the different direction this segment of the evangelical movement is heading toward. The idea is that evangelicals should rethink their support for a state that occupies another people and oppresses them. Once they get the full story, conference organizers hope, Western evangelicals may find they have more in common with the downtrodden Palestinians than with the Israelis.

To pro-Israel evangelicals and Zionists who were paying attention, Christ at the Checkpoint was a wake-up call. The larger trend, which for want of a better phrase might be called the pro-Palestinian evangelical movement and is indeed spearheaded by Palestinian Christians, is already changing minds. Giving them momentum are money raised in the United States, theology, and perhaps most important of all, a movie. The documentary film With God on Our Side is leaving many former pro-Israel evangelicals wondering why they never heard the Palestinian side of the story.

Many friends of Israel, as well as Israelis, have long been concerned that evangelical support is premised largely on self-interest of an especially macabre nature. Israel, in this reading, is ground zero for the apocalypse: Before Christ can return to Earth, the Jews must return to Israel and the Temple must be restored, ushering in first a time of tribulation and then a reign of peace.

Of course, the apocalypse and Christ’s return is not the only justification for Christian support of Israel. Indeed, this end-time scenario embarrasses some evangelicals whose support is premised on the idea that God keeps his promises, not only to Christians but also to Jews, to whom God pledged the land of Israel. This conviction is further buttressed by a sense of historical responsibility, specifically to stand with the Jews and atone for the failure of Christians during the Holocaust to save the nation that gave them their savior.

Though the vast majority of evangelicals still maintain that support, for the first time since the establishment of Israel in 1948, there is an increasingly heated debate in the evangelical community that may augur a shift in the political winds. And if the Christ at the Checkpoint camp wins out, the pro-Israel Jewish community that once looked warily upon evangelical support may come to regard that movement with nostalgia.

***

“The debate in the Jewish community should not be about whether or not to be comfortable with Christian support for Israel,” David Brog, executive director of Christians United for Israel, told me last week. “Christians are going to be involved in the issue whether we are comfortable or not. The question is whether they’re going to be on Israel’s side or not.”

Christians United for Israel is the United States’ largest and best-known Christian Zionist organization. Founded in 2006 by John Hagee, pastor of the CornerStone Church in San Antonio, Texas, CUFI boasts over a million members. Hagee has found himself in the middle of political controversy in the past—most recently during John McCain’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign when his statements regarding the Holocaust were misinterpreted and McCain rejected his support. (Hagee declined to comment for this article.)

John Hagee
John Hagee

Hagee and other figures base support for the Jewish state on biblical foundations, specifically on Genesis 12:3, where God tells Abraham, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee.” The message is clear: Those who support Israel will be rewarded by God. But pro-Israel evangelicals have sent their flock out into the field vulnerable—that is, without an account of the conflict that besets the citizens of the present-day homeland of the Jews. Armed only with a biblical defense of the Jewish state, evangelicals are unprepared to justify it on political grounds.

This gap has made room for people across the cultural and ideological spectrum—whose motivations run the gamut from genuine compassion for Palestinians to anti-Semitism—to fill the space with their own interpretations of contemporary Middle East history. Not surprisingly, many of these narratives tend to be drawn from precincts of the left, like the BDS movement, that are known for their hostility to the Jewish state. What is peculiar is that these accounts are being entertained and sometimes embraced in evangelical churches, Bible schools, and Christian colleges that are not typically known for their progressive politics.

It wasn’t difficult for these Christian critics of Israel to find a weak link in the Christian Zionist narrative—it’s the ethical morass inherent in the formulation of Genesis 12:3. The children of the Bible, Christians as well as Jews, believe that all people are created in God’s image and are therefore born with individual dignity. But if people of faith are supposed to bless Israel because they’ll be blessed in return, then they are treating others, Jews and Arabs, not as individuals but rather as instruments in their own spiritual drama.

You can’t treat people as chess pieces, says Porter Speakman Jr., the 40-year-old director of With God on Our Side. This 82-minute-long documentary, which premiered in 2010 and is now being shown at churches and college campuses, has had a major role in tilting evangelical opinion, especially among young people, against Israel. Speakman told me in a phone interview that isn’t aim isn’t to “delegitimize Israel, but to be critical of policies that are having an effect on real people’s lives.”

“I grew up in a Christian home in the south, where not to support Israel was to go against God,” Speakman told me. He said he made the film in order to explore a question that he thinks has been missing from the conversation in the evangelical community. That is: “What are the consequences of my beliefs and my theology for real people living on the ground?”

With God on Our Side follows the intellectual odyssey of Christopher Harrell, a twenty-something recent film-school graduate, who is trying to come to grips with the reality of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This is a very different story from the Bible-based injunctions that formed his spiritual life as a child. The film’s narrative trajectory starts with Harrell’s parents, who he recalls once celebrated Passover—“I’m not sure why we did that. We’re not Jewish. We’re just this normal American Midwestern family”—and who support Israel because that’s “just what everyone did.” The film moves then to a series of interviews with figures in the evangelical community known for their animus toward Zionism, like Gary Burge and Stephen Sizer, and writers outside the evangelical milieu whose reputation rests on their hostility to Israel, like Ilan Pappé and Norman Finkelstein.

These interviews challenge the mainstream evangelical narrative with well-worn accusations typical of BDSers. For instance, the Israeli occupation, says one South African evangelical, is “apartheid on steroids.”

“Growing up,” Speakman said of his childhood, “there was never a choice, you were supposed to love and support Israel. That meant following Genesis 12 as well as a fulfillment of endtime prophecies. But does supporting Israel mean supporting all of Israel’s geopolitical decisions?”

Speakman, who lived in Israel with his wife from 1998 until 2003, said that he thinks the role of Christians is to support both Jews and Arabs in their search for a solution. But some critics of his documentary think that the film goes much further. They see it as making the case that evangelicals have taken the wrong side—favoring a nation inhabited by those who rejected Jesus as their savior rather than the Christian communities that have existed in the Holy Land since the time of Christ. The issue is that key segments of the Palestinian Christian community have a vested political interest in delegitimizing Zionism—a fact that Speakman and other Western activists in the evangelical community may or may not be aware of.

Among the Palestinian outfits leading the campaign critical of Israel is the Bethlehem Bible College, which organized Christ at the Checkpoint, for which Speakman served as a media coordinator. The most prominent and active organization is the Jerusalem-based Sabeel, headed by a Palestinian Anglican priest, Rev. Naim Ateek. Its American branch, Friends of Sabeel North America, is based in Portland, Ore., and raises money for its Jerusalem affiliate.

“Sabeel is nakedly hostile to Israel,” Dexter Van Zile, Christian media analyst for CAMERA, told me in an interview. In an article on Sabeel and Ateek published last week, Van Zile quotes the clergyman at length, including this peculiar admission: “From my perspective as a Palestinian Christian, Zionism is a step backward in the development of Judaism.”

***

According to Randy Neal, Western Regional Coordinator of CUFI, the ideological foundations of the pro-Palestinian Christian movement are grounded in both liberation theology and replacement theology. The first is a politicized doctrine that requires a continual mindset of victimhood, in order to solicit political sympathy and action on behalf of the “oppressed” against the “oppressors.” The latter holds that the church has replaced Jews as God’s chosen and become the real Israel.

“It’s not just that church has replaced Israel,” said Neal, but for many of the Palestinian Christian clergy and their activist sympathizers, “the Palestinian church is the real church. Jesus, on this reading, was an underdog, who came to champion the underdog. He was oppressed by the Romans, so if you are Christ-like, you are also oppressed, like the Palestinians. This increasingly includes the idea that Jesus was a Palestinian. It’s an adopted narrative that is believed to have started with Yasser Arafat, but to some people it’s become a gospel fact.”

In other words, it’s a narrative that denies Jesus’ Jewish identity. “It is a very ugly expression of Christian anti-Semitism,” Neal said.

But Brog, Neal’s colleague, disagrees: “anti-Semitism is not the driving force.” Rather, he said, the impetus comes from a combination of two ideological streams. “There’s the anti-Israel perspective, which comes from the Palestinian Christians, who are using theology to preach a politically anti-Israel message. And then there are the Christians based in North America and Europe who are allowing liberal politics to trump Christian beliefs.”

The unpleasant reality is that Christian anti-Semitism has as much, if not more, theological justification as Christian support for Israel. Compared to two millennia of Christian anti-Semitism culminating with the Holocaust, one biblical verse is a pretty thin thread on which to hang support of the Jewish state.

Neal says that he believes Christian love of Israel is premised on Genesis 12:3 and on Joel 3:2: “I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will enter into judgement with them there for my people, my heritage Israel.”

“We are supposed to love what God loves,” Neal said. “We consider ourselves ambassadors of Christ. For centuries, Christians abused and abandoned the apple of God’s eye, and we are not going to let that happen again on our watch.”

But as CUFI pushes Genesis and Joel, the Christ at the Checkpoint crowd is focused exclusively on Palestinians’ distress and apparently ignoring history. CAMERA’s Van Zile, who attended last month’s conference, noted that nowhere in the pro-Palestinian evangelical narrative is there any account of Jewish persecution. “I’ve heard moving testimony about Palestinian suffering. But they don’t acknowledge Muslim anti-Semitism. They don’t talk about Palestinian leadership, or how it’s abused the Palestinian community. There’s no account of Hamas in their story about Israel.”

********

John Hagee of the rabid Zionist Christians United for Israel, trying to drag the US into a war with Iran:

Seymour Hersh Reveals that MEK Terrorists Were Trained in the USA by the Pentagon

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2012 by loonwatch

As Glenn Greenwald noted in his book “With Liberty and Justice for Some,” equality before the law is an illusion in the United States. If you are wealthy and have political clout you are most likely to get away with breaking the law and committing crimes, such as “material support” of terrorism.

We reported in July of last year that many politicians from both parties were working with and receiving money from a US State Department designated terrorist organization, the MEK. A group Islamophobes are also quite fond of at the moment.

It was then revealed that the US and Israel have been supporting the MEK to carry out terrorist missions in Iran. Now it has been revealed by the trailblazing investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh that the Pentagon has been training the MEK in Nevada for years, starting in 2005:

US Pentagon Trained Iranian terrorists in Nevada: Hersh

Posted on 04/07/2012 by Juan Cole

The intrepid Seymour Hersh reports at the New Yorker that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) of the US military gave members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK or People’s Holy Jihadis) training in signals intelligence at a facility in Nevada during the Bush era. The MEK was then and is now on the US State Department’s terrorism watch list, so the Pentagon’s deployment of this group was quite illegal.

The MEK was given a base in eastern Iraq by Saddam Hussein, who used the some 4,000 guerrillas who gathered there to harass the Islamic Republic of Iran. The MEK had its origins in an Islamic-Marxist guerrilla group of the 1970s that fought the forces of the Shah. It joined in the revolution against the Shah in 1978-79 but broke with the Khomeini regime and turned to a massive campaign of bombing and sniping against it. In return, the regime killed some 10,000 suspected MEK members, many of whom it just shot down in the street. The group evolved into a political cult, with insistence on glaze-eyed absolute obedience to the leader, Maryam Rajavi, and cult-like practices such as forced marriages and divorces (not to mention the long history of violence inside Iran).

When the US occupied Iraq, some in the Pentagon adopted the MEK at Camp Ashraf near the Iranian border for use against Iran. The MEK has bought a lot of big American politicians and seems to have promised the Israelis it would recognize Israel if it ever came to power in Iran; figures connected to the Israel lobbies have hypocritically campaigned to have the MEK delisted as a terrorist organization, despite it long and bloody record of attacks on civilians. As recently as this year, NBC quoted unnamed US government officials alleging that the MEK has been assassinating Iranian scientists in Iran.

Hersh reveals a trail of blatant hypocrisy on the part of the US government. “Our” terrorists are not terrorists even if they have blown up non-combatants, but national liberation groups such as Hizbullah in Lebanon are designated terrorists. Government officials have even brandished the word “terrorism” to describe perfectly peaceful protesters and dissidents inside the US, while JSOC was flying dyed-in-the-wool terrorists to Nevada for training.

The USG Open Source Center translated a report in the MEK newspaper regarding the hobnobbing of Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton and others with the MEK leadership in Paris recently:

“– On 24 March, the NCRI secretariat website published a report on an international conference held in Paris to address MEK concerns and issues, which was attended by NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi as well as former high ranking officials from the United States and Europe including Rudy Giuliani, Tom Ridge, John Bolton, Patrick Kennedy, and Colonel Wesley Martin.. According to the report, the issues raised included the adoption of a “decisive policy” against Iran’s regime, protection of the rights of Camp Ashraf and Liberty residents, and the elimination of MEK’s “terrorist label.” Rajavi said that “the only way to prevent an Iranian atomic bomb or the occurrence of an unprecedented conflict” was “regime change” by the Iranian people and resistance. On the issue of Camp Liberty, Rudy Giuliani said: “Let us go there. Let us see it with our own eyes.” He added: “Currently the enemy of stopping Iran becoming nuclear is appeasement. This wrong perception has made Iran more determined in becoming nuclear. Let us stop appeasement. Let us stop the efforts for negotiations. Stop writing letters to the ayatollahs. Let us rise up and say as Americans that we are for regime change in Iran and we will take every step necessary to stop Iran becoming nuclear” (National Council of Resistance of Iran in Persian — Website of an exiled political umbrella coalition of Marxist and Islamist organizations — Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO), National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA), People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI), National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and Muslim Iranian Students Society (MISS); on US State Department’s list of terrorist groups since 1997; URL: http://www.iranncr.org/).”

As Sheila Musaji points out, lots of American Muslims are in jail for ‘material support of terrorism,’ but American politicians and pundits get a free pass for actively supporting the MEK– which, remember, is definitively on the terrorism watch list.

Note to the US government and the Neocons: George Orwell’s 1984 was a dark political satire, not a blueprint for how you should do things.

Guenter Grass Being Labeled an Anti-Semite for Critical Poem of Israel

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2012 by loonwatch

The New York Times like many newspapers will not print Guenter Grass’ anti-War poem, I wonder if the hatemongers are going to compare this to the Danish cartoons that were supposedly “silenced” in attacks on “free speech” as they claimed at the time?

Quite a few commenters are calling Grass an “anti-Semite” and making hay out of his being drafted into the Waffen-SS in the final two months of World War II which dented his moral authority in Germany. Grass, for his part claims to have never fired a single bullet.

An opinion article in Haaretz has termed the poem “pathetic” but exonerates Grass from being an “anti-Semite,” which if anyone has read his works knows he is not.

Perhaps Guenter Grass is not the most astute individual when it comes to commenting on the geo-political intrigues playing out with regards to the war rhetoric between Israel and Iran, but it is a mistake to censor his work, not to take his points about double standards and hypocrisy seriously and to label him an anti-Semite.

Laureate accuses Israel of plotting to ‘wipe out’ Iran Israel to build 1,121 settler homes – Hebron squatters evicted

BERLIN: German Nobel literature laureate Gunter Grass touched off a firestorm of protest yesterday with a poem accusing Israel of plotting Iran’s annihilation and threatening world peace. The 84-year-old longtime leftist activist wrote in “What must be said” that he worried Israel “could wipe out the Iranian people” with a “first strike” due to the threat it sees in Tehran’s disputed nuclear program. “Why do I only say now, aged and with my last ink: the atomic power Israel is endangering the already fragile world peace?” reads the poem, which appeared in the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung yesterday.

Grass answers that Nazi Germany’s “incomparable” crimes against Jews and his own fear of accusations of anti-Semitism kept him from openly criticising Israel. But now, “tomorrow could already be too late” and Germany could become a “supplier to a crime”, Grass wrote, referring to a deal sealed last month for Berlin to sell Israel a sixth nuclear-capable Dolphin-class submarine. “I admit: I will be silent no longer, because I am sick of the hypocrisy of the West”.

Israel slammed the poem, which also sparked a fevered debate on German-language news and culture websites. “What must be said is that it belongs to European tradition to accuse the Jews of ritual murder before the Passover celebration,” said Emmanuel Nahshon, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli embassy in Berlin, in a statement. “It used to be Christian children whose blood the Jews used to make matza (unleavened bread), today it is the Iranian people that the Jewish state purportedly wants to wipe out.” Nahshon said Israel was “the only state in the world whose right to exist is publicly doubted”. “We want to live in peace with our neighbours in the region. And we are not prepared to assume the role that Gunter Grass assigns us in the German people’s process of coming to terms with its history.”

The Israel director of the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Efraim Zuroff, accused Grass of making himself the spokesman “for anti-Semitic Germans sick of the Holocaust and seeking to rid themselves of any responsibility for its aftermath”. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle released a statement without mentioning Grass by name in which he warned against “making light of the dangers of the Iranian nuclear program”. “Iran obtaining nuclear weapons is not only a threat to Israel and the entire region but also a danger for the world’s security architecture,” he said, underlining Germany’s efforts to prevent Iran from having nuclear arms.

Grass, author of the renowned anti-war novel “The Tin Drum”, shocked his admirers in 2006 when he admitted, six decades after World War II, that he had been a member of the notorious Waffen SS – a revelation that severely undermined his until then substantial moral authority in Germany. Grass said he long kept silent on Israel’s own nuclear program because his country committed “crimes that are without comparison”, but he has come to see that silence as a “burdensome lie and a coercion” whose disregard carries a punishment – “the verdict ‘anti-Semitism’ is commonly used”.

Henryk M Broder, a prominent German Jewish columnist, accused Grass in light of his poem of having become “the prototype of the educated anti-Semite”. “Grass has always had a problem with Jews but he has never articulated it as clearly as with this ‘poem’,” Broder wrote in the daily Die Welt. The country’s most influential media commentators were unanimous in their criticism, saying Grass had offered up a one-sided portrayal of Israel as the aggressor and Iran as a victim of a mortal threat. “Never before in the history of the republic has a prominent intellectual waged a battle against Israel in such a cliched way,” wrote the website of news weekly Der Spiegel. Only Wolfgang Gehrcke of the far-left Die Linke party defended Grass in public, saying he had the “courage” to express “what is widely kept silent”.

Israel, the sole if undeclared nuclear power in the Middle East, has said it is keeping all options open for responding to Iran’s program which it says is aimed at securing atomic weapons, posing an existential threat to the Jewish state. Iran, whose President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad frequently questions Israel’s right to exist, has consistently denied that its sensitive nuclear work is aimed at making weapons.

Separately, Israel’s government yesterday published tenders for 1,121 new settler homes as it faced settler anger over its decision to evict Israeli families from a disputed home in the Palestinian city of Hebron. Documents published on the Israeli housing ministry website showed the government had issued tenders for 872 new homes in Har Homa, a contentious settlement neighbourhood in the southern part of Arab east Jerusalem. Another 180 are to be built in Givat Zeev, just to the north of Jerusalem in the West Bank, while the remaining 69 are to be built in Katzrin in the occupied Golan Heights, the documents showed. Read rest here

The full text of the poem:

Why I am silent, silent for too much time,
how much is clear and we made it
in war games, where, as survivors,
we are just the footnotes

That is the claimed right to the formal preventive aggression
which could erase the Iranian people
dominated by a bouncer and moved to an organized jubilation,
because in the area of his competence there is
the construction of the atomic bomb

And then why do I avoid myself
to call the other country with its name,
where since years – even if secretly covered –
there is an increasing nuclear power,
without control, because unreachable
by every inspection?

I feel the everybody silence on this state of affairs,
which my silence is slave to,
as an oppressive lie and an inhibition that presents punishment
we don’t pay attention to;
the verdict “anti-Semitism” is common

Now, since my country,
from time to time touched by unique and exclusive crimes,
obliged to justify itself,
again for pure business aims – even if
with fast tongue we call it “reparation” –
should deliver another submarine to Israel,
with the specialty of addressing
annihilating warheads where the
existence of one atomic bomb is not proved
but it wants evidence as a scarecrow,
I say what must be said

Why did I stay silent until now?
Because the thought about my origin,
burdened by an unclearing stain,
had avoiding to wait this fact
like a truth declared by the State of Israel
that I want to be connected to

Why did I say it only now,
old and with the last ink:
the nuclear power of Israel
threat the world peace?
Because it must be said
what tomorrow will be too late;
Because – as Germans and with
enough faults on the back –
we might also become deliverers of a predictable
crime, and no excuse would erase our complicity

And I admit: I won’t be silent
because I had enough of the Western hypocrisy;
Because I wish that many will want
to get rid of the silence,
exhorting the cause of a recognizable
risk to the abdication, asking that a free and permanent control
of the Israel atomic power
and the Iran nuclear bases
will be made by both the governments
with an international supervision

Only in this way, Israelis, Palestinians, and everybody,
all people living hostile face to face in that
country occupied by the craziness,
will have a way out,
so us too

(The original German):

Warum schweige ich, verschweige zu lange,
was offensichtlich ist und in Planspielen
geübt wurde, an deren Ende als Überlebende
wir allenfalls Fußnoten sind.

Es ist das behauptete Recht auf den Erstschlag,
der das von einem Maulhelden unterjochte
und zum organisierten Jubel gelenkte
iranische Volk auslöschen könnte,
weil in dessen Machtbereich der Bau
einer Atombombe vermutet wird.

Doch warum untersage ich mir,
jenes andere Land beim Namen zu nennen,
in dem seit Jahren – wenn auch geheimgehalten –
ein wachsend nukleares Potential verfügbar
aber außer Kontrolle, weil keiner Prüfung
zugänglich ist?

Das allgemeine Verschweigen dieses Tatbestandes,
dem sich mein Schweigen untergeordnet hat,
empfinde ich als belastende Lüge
und Zwang, der Strafe in Aussicht stellt,
sobald er mißachtet wird;
das Verdikt ‘Antisemitismus’ ist geläufig.

Jetzt aber, weil aus meinem Land,
das von ureigenen Verbrechen,
die ohne Vergleich sind,
Mal um Mal eingeholt und zur Rede gestellt wird,
wiederum und rein geschäftsmäßig, wenn auch
mit flinker Lippe als Wiedergutmachung deklariert,
ein weiteres U-Boot nach Israel
geliefert werden soll, dessen Spezialität
darin besteht, allesvernichtende Sprengköpfe
dorthin lenken zu können, wo die Existenz
einer einzigen Atombombe unbewiesen ist,
doch als Befürchtung von Beweiskraft sein will,
sage ich, was gesagt werden muß.

Warum aber schwieg ich bislang?
Weil ich meinte, meine Herkunft,
die von nie zu tilgendem Makel behaftet ist,
verbiete, diese Tatsache als ausgesprochene Wahrheit
dem Land Israel, dem ich verbunden bin
und bleiben will, zuzumuten.

Warum sage ich jetzt erst,
gealtert und mit letzter Tinte:
Die Atommacht Israel gefährdet
den ohnehin brüchigen Weltfrieden?

Weil gesagt werden muß,
was schon morgen zu spät sein könnte;
auch weil wir – als Deutsche belastet genug –
Zulieferer eines Verbrechens werden könnten,
das voraussehbar ist, weshalb unsere Mitschuld
durch keine der üblichen Ausreden
zu tilgen wäre.

Und zugegeben: ich schweige nicht mehr,
weil ich der Heuchelei des Westens
überdrüssig bin; zudem ist zu hoffen,
es mögen sich viele vom Schweigen befreien,
den Verursacher der erkennbaren Gefahr
zum Verzicht auf Gewalt auffordern und
gleichfalls darauf bestehen,
daß eine unbehinderte und permanente Kontrolle
des israelischen atomaren Potentials
und der iranischen Atomanlagen
durch eine internationale Instanz
von den Regierungen beider Länder zugelassen wird.

Nur so ist allen, den Israelis und Palästinensern,
mehr noch, allen Menschen, die in dieser
vom Wahn okkupierten Region
dicht bei dicht verfeindet leben
und letztlich auch uns zu helfen.

Peter King: Iran May Have ‘Hundreds’ Of Hezbollah Agents In U.S.

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2012 by loonwatch

Peter King: Iran May Have ‘Hundreds’ Of Hezbollah Agents In U.S.



WASHINGTON — Iranian-backed Hezbollah agents, not al Qaeda operatives, may pose the greatest threat on U.S. soil as tensions over Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program ratchet up, according to the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

“As Iran moves closer to nuclear weapons and there is increasing concern over war between Iran and Israel, we must also focus on Iran’s secret operatives and their number one terrorist proxy force, Hezbollah, which we know is in America,” said New York Rep. Peter King at a Wednesday hearing of his committee.

The hearing, which featured former government officials and the director of intelligence analysis for the New York Police Department, follows a foiled plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C., and testimony by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in late January that Iran’s leaders are “more willing to conduct an attack inside the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime.”

Opening the hearing, King said, “We have a duty to prepare for the worst,” warning there may be hundreds of Hezbollah operatives in the United States, including 84 Iranian diplomats at the United Nations and in Washington who, “it must be presumed, are intelligence officers.”

But Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said he was concerned that the testimony he was about to hear was based on outdated information and not current intelligence. He noted that “no current federal officials” were asked to testify on Wednesday.

“A word of caution is in order,” Thompson said. “When we examine our relationship with another country, we cannot look at any particular moment in time and pretend that it tells the whole story. We cannot view the politics, history and culture of any other country clearly by seeing a snapshot version.”

Referencing Clapper’s earlier testimony, Thompson said the director of national intelligence should be called in for a classified hearing, but added, “We should not engage in a public discussion that creates fear and delivers misinformation.”

King rejected the Democrat’s objections. “We’re not focusing on foreign policy,” he said. “We’re talking about an internal threat to this country.”

Most of the testimony — which came from former officials at the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and Treasury, among others — concerned Iranian-linked attacks in other countries that dated back decades in some cases. However, Mitchell Silber, head of the NYPD intelligence unit that has come under fire for spying on the city’s Muslim community, said that between 2002 and 2010 his agency and federal authorities detected “at least six events involving Iranian diplomatic personnel that we struggle to categorize as anything other than hostile reconnaissance of New York City.”

The suspicious events, some of them publicly revealed for the first time, involved security guards at the Permanent Mission of Iran to the United Nations and Iranian diplomats stationed in New York. Among the cases Silber cited:

    • On Nov. 16, 2003, at 2 a.m., uniformed NYPD officers on a subway train observed two men filming the train tracks. The men, who initially claimed diplomatic immunity, were security guards at the Iranian Mission who had recently arrived in New York.
    • In May 2004, despite warnings from the State Department, two more Iranian Mission security guards were observed videotaping infrastructure, public transportation and New York City landmarks. A month later, the guards were expelled by the United States, Silber said, for “engaging in activities that were not consistent with their duties,” or spying.
    • In May 2005, six individuals “associated with the Government of Iran” were interviewed by the NYPD after a call to a city hot line reported suspicious behavior. The individuals on a sightseeing cruise were reportedly photographing and videotaping landmarks such as the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges as well as “reportedly speaking on their cellphones in an unusual manner.” One of the individuals worked at the Iranian Mission while the other five had diplomatic immunity based on their positions within the Iranian government. They were later released.
    • In September 2008, during the U.N. General Assembly, several members of the Iranian delegation were seen taking photos of railroad tracks inside Grand Central Station. After questioning, they were “released without incident.
    • In September 2010, again during the U.N. General Assembly, federal air marshals reported suspicious behavior at the Wall Street Heliport, where four people were seen taking “still photos and videotaping the water line and structural area of the heliport landing pad” from a nearby parking lot. The four produced press cards showing they worked for the Iran Broadcasting Co. and were released.

Although authorities could link none of the incidents to actual plots, “Iran has a proven record of using its official presence in a foreign city to coordinate attacks, which are then carried out by Hezbollah agents from abroad, often leveraging the local community — whether wittingly or not — as facilitators,” Silber testified.

Israelis ♥ Iran: A Message of Love and Peace

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , on March 26, 2012 by loonwatch

Bibi Don't Bomb Iran!

Prominent, hawkish leaders in Israel are beating the drums of war, but according to a recent poll, a solid majority of Israelis, both Arab and Jewish, oppose a unilateral strike against Iran.

Israelis are finding creative ways to tell their leaders–and the world–they want peace. Tikkun Daily reports:

Last week, when graphic designers Ronny Edry and Michal Tamir decided to counter the war drums beating in Israel with a simple message of peace to the people of Iran, little did they know it would create a viral Facebook initiative which would help to inspire a massive anti-war rally in Tel Aviv.

On Saturday night, this is precisely what happened, as Israelis flooded Habima Square in Tel Aviv to protest the elevated war rhetoric coming from their leaders and to stand squarely against the hypothetical bombing of Iran.

It’s not difficult to trace much of the momentum for Saturday night’s rally back to the married duo of Edry and Tamir, who last week created images of themselves with the superimposed message, “‘Iranians, we will never bomb your country. We ♥ You.’”

Their images inspired countless Israelis to post their own Facebook versions, which in turn inspired Iranians to do the same, creating a virtual, imagistic message of love cycling between the two peoples. That message also helped to inspire Israeli activists – many of whom were involved with this summer’s social justice protest movement (J14) – to organize the county’s first significant anti-war rally concerning Iran.

Israelis from various walks of life have also posted their message on Youtube, and in a single day, one of the videos was viewed almost 40,000 times:

IRANIANS WE LOVE U: a message to Iran from Israel

Pro-Israel Hawks Steering Debate on Iran

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2012 by loonwatch

Tell us something we don’t know:

Pro-Israel Hawks Steering Debate on Iran

By and  (NYTimes)

WASHINGTON — Even before President Obama declared this month that “I have Israel’s back” in its escalating confrontation with Iran, pro-Israel figures like the evangelical Christian leader Gary L. Bauer and the conservative commentator William Kristol were pushing for more.

In a slickly produced, 30-minute video, the group that the two men lead, the Emergency Committee for Israel, mocked Mr. Obama’s “unshakable commitment to Israel’s security” and attacked his record on Iran as weak. “I’ll be brutally honest: I don’t trust the president on Israel,” Mr. Bauer, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, said in an interview. “I think his record on Israel is abysmal.”

With Israeli leaders warning of an existential threat from Iran and openly discussing the possibility of attacking its nuclear facilities, pro-Israel groups on all sides have mobilized to make their views known to the Obama administration and to Congress. But it is the most hawkish voices, like the Emergency Committee’s, that have dominated the debate, and, in the view of some critics, pushed the United States closer to taking military action against Iran and another war in the Middle East.

“It’s not about Israel,” said Representative Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, the House majority leader and a key Congressional ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

“It’s about the U.S.,” Mr. Cantor said in an interview. “It’s about our interests in the region. There have been a lot of conflicting messages coming out of the White House.”

Among those advocating a more aggressive approach toward Iran are prominent Republicans in Congress, like Mr. Cantor and Senator John McCain of Arizona; the party’s presidential candidates; groups like the Emergency Committee and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac; the so-called “neocons” from the George W. Bush administration who were strong proponents of the war in Iraq; pro-Israel evangelical Christians like Mr. Bauer, who is also active in the group Christians United for Israel; and many Democrats.

Urging diplomacy are liberal groups like J Street, which is helped by $500,000 a year in contributions from the liberal philanthropist George Soros, and Tikkun, a Jewish journal that has begun running newspaper advertisements here and abroad that urge, “NO War on Iran and NO First Strike!” Tikkun, based in Berkeley, Calif., is hoping to link its antiwar message with the Occupy protests.

“A lot of people talk about the ‘Israel lobby’ as if it’s a monolithic thing,” said Dylan Williams, head of government affairs for J Street. “It’s a myth. There is a deep division between those who support military action at this point and those who support diplomacy.”

Clear fissures have developed among pro-Israel groups — not only between hawks and doves over whether to use military force against Iran, but among hard-liners themselves over just how aggressively to confront it.

Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino owner who is a staunch supporter of Israel, was once a major donor to Aipac. But because of Aipac’s support for American aid to the Palestinian Authority, he has broken from the group. This year, Mr. Adelson has given at least $10 million, along with his wife, to support Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign.

Like Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, Mr. Gingrich has pushed for stronger support of Israel and attacked Mr. Obama’s policies on the Iranian issue as weak. He also described the Palestinians as an “invented people.”

The disagreements over what to do about Iran reflect the divisions among Jews themselves. In a survey of American Jews last September by the American Jewish Committee, an advocacy group, 56 percent of those polled said they would support American military action against Iran if diplomacy and sanctions failed, while 38 percent opposed it. Support was down slightly from a year earlier.

Rabbi Michael Lerner, a leader of Tikkun and an affiliated antiwar coalition of religious groups, said backers of diplomacy want to slow what they have seen as a “drumbeat to war” in recent weeks. Rabbi Lerner and other opponents of military action say the debate over Iran echoes the political climate in 2002 before the United States-led invasion in Iraq.

Representative Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat who opposes military action against Iran, said, “The rhetoric is overblown.”

Those advocating military intervention “whip up fear and whip up doomsday scenarios,” Mr. Ellison said in an interview. “It has an effect. If nothing else, they’re making Obama talk about military options with regard to Iran.”

But Mr. Ellison is in the minority on Capitol Hill, where the debate over Israel and Iran was largely settled long ago.

Message to Iran: Free Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on March 13, 2012 by loonwatch

Youcef

Youcef Nadarkhani should be released from Iranian jail immediately. In fact, he should have never been jailed in the first place.

Nadarkhani faces possible execution in Iran for the “crime” of apostasy and Christian evangelism. In the face of mounting international pressure, the Iranian regime has said Nadarkhani was actually charged with more serious crimes unrelated to religion, but barring new evidence to the contrary, this appears to be a face-saving lie.

The regime in the so-called “Islamic” Republic of Iran urgently needs to reread the Qur’an, including Chapter 109, Surat Al-Kafirun -The Disbelievers, and (among others) verses 2:62, 5:69, and 2:256:

There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing. (Qur’an 2:256)

Further reading should also include the excellent, in-depth article by Danios regarding apostasy in Islam: Fathima Bary Needs to Read Her Bible; Final Word on Islam and Apostasy.

No matter what excuses are offered by Iranian authorities, the persecution of religious minorities is un-Islamic and just plain wrong.

Pastor Nadarkhani, Islam and Punishment for Apostasy

by Harris Zafar, The Huffington Post

Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani is currently on death row in Iran for the “crime” of converting to Christianity from Islam. The charges of his initial arrest in 2009 were for protesting, which were later changed to apostasy and evangelism. In Sept. 2010, an Iranian court verbally delivered a death sentence, which was then delivered in writing a month later by the 1st Court of the Revolutionary Tribunal. After submitting an appeal to the Supreme Court the very next month, the third chamber of the Supreme Court upheld his conviction and death sentence in June 2011 and the execution orders were given in Feb. 2012, which can be implemented at any time. Throughout the process, he was told his life would be spared if he recanted his belief in Christianity, which he refused to do.

This verdict clearly violates numerous human rights, which is why President Obama, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Amnesty International and the American Center for Law and Justice have all condemned this conviction and called for Nadarkhani’s release.

As a Muslim, however, I find this verdict’s religious violations equally troublesome. Far too many people — Muslim and non-Muslim — mistakenly believe Islam prohibits freedom of conscience and religion by prescribing punishments for matters like apostasy and blasphemy, whereas Islam’s Holy Scripture and Prophet do not support such punishments.

If Islam prescribed any earthly punishment for leaving the faith, it would mean that it compels one to be Muslim against their will. But chapter two of the Quran — Islam’s Holy Scripture –rejects this notion, stating, “there shall be no compulsion in religion.”

There are at least 10 direct verses in the Quran about those who leave Islam, none of which sanction death in response. Exemplifying the Quran’s principles, the Prophet Muhammad never ordered any person to be killed for apostasy. In his peace treaty with Meccans, he agreed that any Muslim recanting their faith would be allowed to return to Mecca unharmed. Muhammad’s acceptance of this condition demonstrates that no such punishment exists for apostasy, as he would never accept anything that went against the Shariah.

Yet some within the Muslim world argue these verses only apply to non-Muslims, whereas Muslims can be compelled in matters of religion. They cite examples during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad when Ibn Khatal, Musailmah and Maqees bin Sababah were put to death. These were not religious punishments for apostasy, however. They were political punishments for murders each individual had committed.

Death for apostasy had its birth several decades after the demise of Prophet Muhammad — in an age when use of force for spreading influence and ideology was common around the world. The Ummayyad dynasty (661-750) — the political rulers of the Muslim empire — were regarded as secular kings and did not have the religious position of the previous pious caliphs. To guard the Sharia, the kings appointed clergy to positions much like the clergy after Constantine’s conversion. Respected for their religious knowledge, their support was pursued to legitimize unpopular political regimes.

Political and social rebellions then became justified in religious expressions, and dynastic power struggles developed significant disagreements in religious doctrine. Thus began politically motivated punishments (including executions and crucifixions) aimed at abolishing any forms of objection.

While this view finds no credibility from Prophet Muhammad’s example, it has admittedly become more prevalent in the last century. For example, Abul Ala Maududi, influential cleric and founder of the Pakistani political party Jamaat Islami, advocated this erroneous view beginning in the 1930s. He wrote, “in our domain we neither allow any Muslim to change his religion nor allow any other religion to propagate its faith.”

Many believe Maududi’s view was reactionary and in response to the growing influence of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad — who claimed to be the second coming Jesus and Messiah for all people to remove misconceptions in religion, unite everyone under the banner of true Islam, and bring mankind back to God. Half a century before Maududi, Ahmad condemned any punishment for blasphemy or apostasy and any violence to spread faith. He wrote, “Religion is worth the name only so long as it is in consonance with reason. If it fails to satisfy that requisite, if it has to make up for its discomfiture in argument by handling the sword, it needs no other argument for its falsification. The sword it wields cuts its own throat before reaching others.”

Sadly, apostasy and other “crimes” like blasphemy are punishable offences in some Muslim-majority countries today, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, etc. In these countries, apostasy and blasphemy are not only leveled against non-Muslims but even people the country deems to be the wrong type of Muslims.

The good news, however, is that though certain regimes apply extremist penal codes under the guise of Islam, the majority of Muslims recognize that Islam condemns religious compulsion. For example, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community — Muslims who believe in that Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian — has advocated this position for over a century. In this continuing war of ideas, true success is through peace and logic — never violence.

Any attempt to compel Pastor Nadarkhani to recant his Christian faith is barbaric and against the teachings of the Quran. The government leaders in Iran who have sentenced Pastor Nadarkhani to death, do so of their own accord. Quran and Prophet Muhammad, however, are clear — Pastor Nadarkhani must be set free.

About this ad ‘Bomb Iran’ Billboard’s Real Message Just the Opposite

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , on March 8, 2012 by loonwatch

About this ad ‘Bomb Iran’ billboard’s real message just the opposite

By Steve Fidel, Deseret News

WEST VALLEY CITY — A billboard along I-215 that says “Bomb Iran!” is meant to suggest just the opposite at a time when tensions between Iran and the West continue to escalate.

Iran halted oil exports to Britian and France on Feb. 19 in the latest move that follows economic sanctions against Iran over the nature of Iran’s nuclear capabilities and support of Islamic extremist groups.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report Friday that Iran has ramped up production of higher-grade enriched uranium in recent months.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Saturday that the report “constitutes additional proof that Israel’s assessments are correct” and that Tehran’s nuclear program is moving ahead unhindered.

“The war drums are beating very loudly,” said bombiran.org organizer Connor Boyack, a 30-year-old Web designer in Lehi, who hopes the somewhat-confusing design of his billboard prompts people who see it to “pause, think about it, ponder it and go read about it.”

Boyack is not suggesting a single, grand conspiracy is pushing the United States toward a war in Iran but believes the combined effects of propagandists and a diverse military-industrial complex could be. He said his objective is to push back.

“It’s hard to see the unintended consequences,” he said, pointing to the speed at which reports about Iraq’s nuclear capabilities led to war before those threats were fully vetted, and later found to be without merit.

“Let’s look at the past and apply those lessons to the future. Let’s slow down and look at this a little,” Boyack said.

He also hopes to unhitch the connection between “supporting the troops” and engaging in war. “We want to support the troops by keeping them home with their families,” he said.

The billboard went up Thursday, and Boyack said traffic to the accompanying bombiran.org webiste has been brisk since then. He said the initiative’s Utah roots have the financial support of about 50 financial contributors so far, many of whom are outside the state.

If financial support continues, Boyack said he and other supporters hope to put up similar billboards elsewhere, targeting primary-election states.

Contributing: The Associated Press

E-mail: sfidel@desnews.com

Original post: ‘Bomb Iran’ billboard’s real message just the opposite

Israeli Officials: Starve Iranians to Stop Nukes

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2012 by loonwatch

Where’s the humanity in saying you want to “starve” a whole group of people?

(H/T: Saladin)

Israeli officials: Starve Iranians to stop nukes

by Attila Somfalvi (YNetNews)

Iran’s citizens should be starved in order to curb Tehran’s nuclear program, officials in Jerusalem said Wednesday ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming trip to Washington.

“North Korea is halting its nuclear program in order to receive aid in food, and this is what should be done with Iran as well,” one unnamed official said.

“Suffocating sanctions could lead to a grave economic situation in Iran and to a shortage of food,” the source said. “This would force the regime to consider whether the nuclear adventure is worthwhile, while the Persian people have nothing to eat and may rise up as was the case in Syria, Tunisia and other Arab states.”

“The Western world led by the United States must implement stifling sanctions at this time already, rather than wait or hesitate,” the official said. “In order to suffocate Iran economically and diplomatically and lead the regime there to a hopeless situation, this must be done now, without delay.”

‘Iran has hidden capabilities’

Earlier Wednesday, North Korea said that it has agreed to suspend uranium enrichment and adopt a moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests.

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Wednesday the North has also agreed to allow International Atomic Energy inspectors to verify and monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment and confirm disablement of its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.

On Tuesday, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said the Islamic Republic has yet to reveal all of its military capabilities, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has many hidden capabilities which are kept for rainy days,” Vahidi said, adding, “We have not yet revealed all our capabilities.”

Addressing Israeli strike threats, the Iranian minister said Washington objects to statements on an Iran strike as the US is aware of Iran’s power and realizes that anyone who becomes embroiled in a conflict with Tehran will be defeated.

Belen Fernandez: In search of the ‘Islamic menace’ in Bolivia

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 29, 2012 by loonwatch

Anti-Iranian and anti-Islam propaganda is being pushed in South America:

In search of the ‘Islamic menace’ in Bolivia

by Belen Fernandez (AlJazeera English)

La Paz, Bolivia – Were I transcribing the wet dream of US Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen – self-appointed bulwark against the alleged Islamo-Bolivarian threat to homeland security – I might describe my arrival to La Paz two weeks ago as follows:

Descending from the city of El Alto into the Bolivian capital, my bus was stopped by a battalion of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. 

All passengers were required to pledge simultaneous allegiance to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Adolf Hitler, and Evo Morales. Once the Iranians had verified that there were no Jewish businesspeople on board available for kidnapping, the vehicle was allowed to pass.

Our progress was once again interrupted, however, by a parade of Iranian diplomats, whose infestation of Bolivia began when the Islamic Republic made the alarming decision to open embassies in Latin America – something no other country in the world has done. Augmenting the infestation are the more than two dozen Iranian diplomatic offspring who have reportedly been enrolled in the international school in La Paz.

I finally checked into a hostel in the city centre and turned on the television to find that the only available channel was HispanTV, Iran’s new Spanish-language extremist propaganda disseminator.

I turned off the TV, sat back, and waited for the bomb to explode.

The possibility of a bomb in La Paz was raised in December 2011 by Ros-Lehtinen, co-star of a non-factual documentary entitled “La amenaza iraní” (“The Iranian Threat”), in which she insinuates that the US should attack Iran in order to avert bomb explosions in various Latin American capitals. The film was released by Univision, the prominent US broadcast network, which is owned by someone who hosts galas in honour of the Israeli military.

The Iranians meanwhile acquired a new rival in the realm of multilingual extremist propaganda dissemination earlier this month when – as Charles Davis has wryly noted – the Spanish-language Univision re-released its film in English.

Quds Force in disguise

When, after several days in La Paz, Iranian penetration into the Western hemisphere was still not glaringly apparent, I set out for the epicentre of penetrating operations: the embassy of Iran, said to be guarded by the elite Quds Force.

Unable to find the address on the internet, I walked to the office of the Shia Bolivian Islamic Cultural Foundation on Landaeta Street. It was closed for Carnival, however, and I had to extricate myself from the grasp of missionaries in an adjacent office belonging to another entity to which Latin America has shown itself increasingly penetrable: the nutrition and weight-management cult Herbalife.

In the end, I found the embassy thanks to a meeting with a former Bolivian official, during which he happened to mention Evo Morales’ hypocritical authorisation of GMOs in Bolivia after having disapproved of Iranian GMO projects. I took advantage of the opportunity to enquire after the coordinates of Tehran’s mother ship in La Paz; he directed me to the website of the Bolivian Foreign Ministry, which did indeed contain an address – albeit an incorrect one.

My visit to the embassy, located in a house with a yard, revealed that the Quds Force had succeeded in disguising itself as a single Bolivian policeman.

The Bolivian receptionist meanwhile informed me that she was not authorised to divulge the address of the Iranian Red Crescent Society Hospital in the neighbouring city of El Alto, where it was rumoured that female employees wereforced to wear the hijab.

A Shia state within a state

I returned to the Bolivian Islamic Cultural Foundation, which was now open. There, a Bolivian convert to Islam, who introduced himself as both “Sergio Grover” and “Grover Musa”, told me how his dream of travelling to Iran on a religious scholarship had been thwarted by none other than the Univision documentary. According to Grover, there had been a moratorium on such scholarships, following the collaboration with Univision by former Mexican scholar-spies.

theory put forth several years ago by Ely Karmon of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, Israel, according to which Shia ideology might resonate among impoverished sectors of Latin American society, seemed to find confirmation in Grover’s contention that poor inhabitants of El Alto were responsive to the foundation’s discourse.

Though the community currently consists of only approximately 50 members, Grover reckoned that, once membership swells to 3,000, the community might pose a challenge to the modus operandi of the state. For example, he explained, Muslim Bolivian policemen would exhibit superior conscientiousness than regular Bolivian policemen – whose recent achievements include repressing a protest of disabled people.

As for the Iranian hospital, Grover claimed that the hijab had only been required for the inauguration ceremony in 2009, and added that there was a substantial discount for Muslim patients – a slightly subtler approach to conquest, perhaps, than others historically employed on the American continent, such as decimating indigenous populations via infectious disease.

The hijab hospital

The next day, I took the bus to El Alto and found the hospital, a mere several streets away from where Grover had said it was. There were no hijabs in sight.

The hospital’s CEO and general manager, both Iranian, agreed to speak with me after being initially unimpressed that I had failed to bring any form of identification. Over tea and then lunch, they reviewed the institution’s numerous amenities and other contributions to global health by the Iranian Red Crescent Society.

The men claimed that the hospital employees, who were all Bolivian aside from two of them and their wives, were entirely free to pursue their own religious and political beliefs, provided they did not drink alcohol at work. They added that the obligation of the Red Crescent Society was to treat all kinds of people, including enemies of Ahmadinejad.

The general manager declared: “Our concern is lessening the pains of human beings.”

Terror breeding-ground

Less benign motives behind Iranian healthcare initiatives in Latin America were detected in a 2009 Jerusalem Postarticle entitled “The ‘other’ America: A perfect terror breeding-ground”, in which the author invokes the post-World War II flight to Bolivia by various Nazis as evidence that “[d]isenfranchised and marginalised regions are prime targets for fundamentalists and fanatics of all kinds”.

He also curiously mentions Bolivian “dictatorships aided by high-ranking Nazi officials” but manages not to specify that the Nazi official in question is presumably Klaus Barbie – war criminal, torturer extraordinaire, and former head of the Gestapo office in Lyons – whose escape to Bolivia was facilitated by none other than the non-”other” America, ie the United States.

In Bolivia Barbie’s talents were put to use in coordinating events like the so-called “cocaine coup” of 1980, which installed the murderous narco-military regime of Luis Garcia Meza Tejada.

Contemporary peddlers of the notion of a Latin America-based Iranian threat, however, prefer to excise such facts from history – as well as the fact that it was not Iranian-backed overthrows of governments in places like Panamaand, more recently, Honduras that intensified said countries’ respective roles in the international drug trade. Instead, we learn from these experts that the geographic proximity of West Africa to Venezuela facilitates Islamic drug trafficking.

As for Ros-Lehtinen’s logic – according to which bombs on Iran will deter bombs in La Paz – it has yet to be explained why Iran would suddenly bomb its own alleged satellite, especially when the ostensible aim of Iranian penetration of Latin America is to threaten the US, not Bolivia.

At any rate, in the event that Ros-Lehtinen wants to have a little fun and exploit the coincidence that la paz means “peace” in Spanish, she could always convert her illogic into the following catchy war slogan: “Let’s destroy peace before Iran does”.

Belen Fernandez is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work, released by Verso in November 2011. She is an editor at PULSE Media, and her articles have appeared in the London Review of Books blog, CounterPunch, Guernica Magazine, and many other publications.

Follow her on Twitter: @MariaBelen_Fdez

Asghar Farhadi, Oscar Winner for Best Foreign Film: Despite War Talk World Sees Iran’s “Glorious Culture”

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2012 by loonwatch

Congrats to Asghar Farhadi, a side of Iran not many are shown.

Oscars 2012: ‘A Separation’ Director Pleas For Iran To Be Seen For Its ‘Glorious Culture’

by Joshua Hersh (HuffPo)

The director of the Iranian film “A Separation,” which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film Sunday night, delivered a heartfelt plea for the people of Iran to be recognized for their contributions to culture and not just for the harsh words exchanged lately between political officials.

“At this time many Iranians all over the world are watching us and I imagine them to be very happy,” said Asghar Farhadi, the writer and director of the film. “They are happy not just because of an important award or a film or a filmmaker, but because at the time when talk of war, intimidation and aggression is exchanged between politicians, the name of their country, Iran, is spoken here through her glorious culture.”

For the past several months, Iran has become a byword for threat and violence in much of the West, with Israel suggesting the country’s possession of a nuclear weapon would be grounds for war.

The U.S. has urged Israel not to take military action, and most American intelligence assessments still say Iran is not actively pursuing a nuclear weapon.

In a seeming response to war-like rhetoric from Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is often said to have called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” Farhadi added that he offered his award to “the people of my country, a people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment.”

As it happens, among the films “A Separation” defeated for the Oscar was an Israeli film, “Footnote.”

“A Separation” tells the story of an upper-middle class family living in Tehran and falling apart, as it struggles to balance its daily life with its competing desires to leave the oppressive society of Iran.

Even as Farhadi celebrated a different version of Iran being recognized at the Oscars, he also didn’t hold back in his critique about the regime there itself, accusing it of smothering “a rich and ancient culture…under heavy dust of politics.”

Farhadi’s extended remarks are below:

At this time many Iranians all over the world are watching us and I imagine them to be very happy. They are happy not just because of an important award or a film or a filmmaker, but because at the time when talk of war, intimidation and aggression is exchanged between politicians, the name of their country, Iran, is spoken here through her glorious culture. A rich and ancient culture that has been under heavy dust of politics. I proudly offer this honor to the people of my country, a people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment. Thank you very much.

http://www.5min.com/Video/Foreign-Language-Films-Vie-For-Oscar-Gold-517280126

Tucker Carlson: “Iran Deserves to be Annihilated”

Posted in Loon Media, Loon People, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2012 by loonwatch

The war-mongering calls for the invasion and destruction of Iran are multiplying at a horrific pace.

We saw this in the lead up to the decimation of Iraq, now we have Conservative pundits such as Tucker Carlson blatantly calling for “annihilation” as well as oddly claiming that the USA is the only country that has “moral authority” to engage in “pre-emptive war.”

Eli Clifton has some excellent analysis of all this (H/T: BA):

Tucker Carlson: ‘Iran Deserves To Be Annihilated

by Eli Clifton (ThinkProgress)

As the “drumbeat to war” with Iran, as Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) warns of, grows louder, a number of journalists have begun to compare the hawkish rhetoric from pundits with the calls for military action against Iraq in 2002. Scott Shane, writing on the frontpage of today’s New York Times, observed, “Echoes of the period leading up to the Iraq war in 2003 are unmistakable, igniting a familiar debate over whether journalists are overstating Iran’s progress toward a bomb.” Indeed, the ombudsman of The Washington Post and the public editor of The New York Times criticized their own journalists for overstating the evidence of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.

Over the past week, journalists have raised the alarm about the increasing carelessness of the mainstream media in hyping the calls for war with Iran. But Fox News commentator and The Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson openly called for war against Iran and argued for the full-scale annihilation of the Islamic Republic during an appearance on Fox News’s late-night show Red Eye. Carlson responded to a question about U.S. military action:

CARLSON: I think we are the only country with the moral authority […] sufficient to do that. [The U.S. is] the only country that doesn’t seek hegemony in the world. I do think, I’m sure I’m the lone voice in saying this, that Iran deserves to be annihilated. I think they’re lunatics. I think they’re evil.

Carlson, having called for the annihilation of Iran — a country with a population of over 74 million people — went on to acknowledge that “we should assess what will happen to the price of energy were we to do that.” Watch the clip:

Carlson doesn’t bother to make a case for why the U.S. should destroy Iran. But presumably he’s referring to the crisis over Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. However, neither the IAEA norU.S. intelligence reports conclude that Iran has restarted its nuclear weapons program. The IAEA and U.S. intelligence have expressed concerns about possible military aspects to Iran’s nuclear program and suspicions about Iran’s program intensified after Tehran refused IAEA inspectors access to facilities thought to be used for tests on how to produce nuclear weapons. Tehran also refused to agree to a process by which it would address IAEA concerns about “possible military dimensions” to its nuclear program.

But, much as in the case of the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, many journalists and politicians areignoring the facts on the ground and pushing forward with calls for increasingly aggressive actions. Carlson, however, may stand alone in publicly calling for Iran’s outright annihilation.

Update: Tucker emails Glenn Greenwald:

It’s my fault that I got tongue tied and didn’t explain myself well last night. I’m actually on the opposite side on the Iran question from many people I otherwise agree with. I think attacking could be a disaster for the US and am worried that Obama will do it, for fear of seeming weak before an election. Of course the Iranian government is awful and deserves to be crushed. But I’m not persuaded we or Israel could do it in a way that doesn’t cause even greater problems. That’s the main lesson of Iraq it seems to me.

That’s my sincere view, but I’d rather take some lumps and be misunderstood than seem like I’m reversing myself due to pressure from Twitter.

Newsweek Trumpets Hirsi’s War Against Muslims

Posted in Loon People, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2012 by loonwatch
War on Christians
February 12 Cover

Newsweek has apparently abandoned any pretense of actual reporting in favor of tabloid-style sensationalism. Career hatemonger Aayan Hirsi Ali‘s alarmist screed in the February 12 issue is a jumble of half truths culled together with the obvious purpose of demonizing Muslims, at the expense of Christian minorities she pretends to defend.

Hirsi ignores US-led invasions–actual wars–against one Islamic country after another, and the impact on Christians, especially in Iraq. In fact, according to her apocalyptic vision, the West must destroy Islam, by any means necessary–in the name of peace and civilization, of course.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s War

by Anthony Alessandrini, Jadaliyya

For a couple of centuries now, we have had to make due with Samuel Johnson’s famous phrase: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Thanks to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, we can now revise this phrase for the twenty-first century. Tthe last last refuge of a scoundrel, it appears, lies in taking up the battle against something called “Christophobia.”

Hirsi Ali coins this term as part of her alarmist and deeply hateful cover story for Newsweek. “The War on Christians” is splashed across the cover, but the actual target of Hirsi Ali’s piece becomes more clear in the title provided for the online version of the piece: “The Global War on Christians in the Muslim World.”

The terms of Hirsi Ali’s argument, such as it is, are all set out in her opening paragraph:

We hear so often about Muslims as victims of abuse in the West and combatants in the Arab Spring’s fight against tyranny. But, in fact, a wholly different kind of war is underway—an unrecognized battle costing thousands of lives. Christians are being killed in the Islamic world because of their religion. It is a rising genocide that ought to provoke global alarm.

The criminally careless tossing out of the term “genocide” gives us a clue about what is to come. So too does the style, which is a classic version of her usual mode, that of the lone brave voice crying out about injustice in the wilderness, surrounded by dupes who are too busy portraying Muslims as “victims or heroes.” Fortunately, Hirsi Ali is prepared to offer us “a fair-minded assessment of recent events and trends,” leading to what she sees as her inevitable conclusion and allowing her to coin her useful new term: “the scale and severity of Islamophobia pales in comparison with the bloody Christophobia currently coursing through Muslim-majority nations from one end of the globe to the other.”

Having already reached her inevitable conclusion in her opening, Hirsi Ali appears to feel little need to support it with anything so mundane as actual facts. Instead he offers a loosely-connected cherry picking tour that ties together incidents of violence against Christians and other religious minorities in Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, and Indonesia. All the instances she references are real and terrible acts of violence. And all of them are symptoms of complex political and social situations that need to be analyzed and addressed. This makes it all the more horrible that Hirsi Ali treats them as mere data to be added to her deeply simplistic argument. Indeed, she raises the same two points in each case: first, that Muslims are killing Christians; second, that the world (by which she means “the West”)—apparently distracted by its uncritical admiration for the revolutionaries of the Arab Spring and its obsession with stamping out Islamophobia—stands idly by and watches. So Hirsi Ali is forced to beg her readers to help break what she refers to as a “conspiracy of silence.”

Were the consequences of such an argument not so grave—and I will come to those consequences shortly—it would be possible to simply dismiss this article as the nonsense that it is. To reduce the complexity of the political violence in Nigeria and Sudan to instances of “Christophobia,” for example, is simply ludicrous, as is the suggestion that somehow Western political and media figures have been “reticent” or “silent” when it comes to Darfur. This is in no way to downplay the full horror of these situations; indeed, what is most disturbing here is Hirsi Ali’s cursory citing of them—Nigeria merits just two paragraphs of her article, Sudan just one—in the service of her hateful argument.

In other cases, what is striking is the utter thinness of the arguments she tries to marshal. When, for example, she tries to make the case that “not even Indonesia…has been immune to the fevers of Christophobia,” she cites data complied by the Christian Post suggesting an increase in violent incidents against religious minorities of nearly forty percent between 2010 and 2011. Again, this is certainly a cause for concern, but it would be interesting to ask Hirsi Ali how she would compare this increase to the more than fifty percent increase in hate crimes against Muslims in the United States between 2009 and 2010, as reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She might also have turned to data on Indonesia produced by Human Rights Watch rather than that of an obscure Christian website, which would have confirmed her point about an increase in attacks on religious minorities (including Ahmadis) in Indonesia—except that rather than attributing this increase to the rise of “Christophobia,” HRW’s conclusion about this key US ally is quite different: “The common thread is the failure of the Indonesian government to protect the rights of all its citizens.”

Of course, these sorts of fact-free claims about the “Muslim world” by conservative commentators are nothing new. What is more worthy of note, however, are those claims by Hirsi Ali that suggest a number of moves taken out of the contemporary neo-conservative playbook. Hirsi Ali’s connections to the neo-con movement—she is, among other things, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute—have been widely noted. For example, Hamid Dabashi lists her prominently among the “comprador intellectuals” who have helped sell the neo-con agenda in the United States and Europe. (Indeed, it is clear that the title of her article is meant to resonate in this election season with the claims being made by conservatives about an alleged “war on Christians” here in the United States.)

One strand of this neo-conservative reasoning as it can be read out of Hirsi Ali’s article has to do with her references to Egypt. She only devotes one paragraph to Egypt, but the print version of the article includes four images (including the cover image), some quite graphic, of violence against Copts in Egypt. Hirsi Ali preludes her point by noting that the alleged rise of Christophobia in Egypt comes “in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.” Her key example is the attack by security forces on pro-Coptic protesters outside Maspero on 9 October 2011, which killed at least twenty-four people and wounded more than three hundred. From this example, Hirsi Ali moves forward with her relentlessly superficial line of argument: “By the end of the year more than two-hundred thousand Copts had fled their homes in anticipation of more attacks. With Islamists poised to gain much greater power in the wake of recent elections, their fears appear to be justified.”

The first and most obvious problem here, of course, is Hirsi Ali’s attempt to transform an attack by security forces against protesters—the sort of attack that has marked the bloody fule of the Supreme Council of Armed Force (SCAF)—into yet another example of “Muslims attacking Christians,” driven solely by the relentless power of Christophobia. The deeper problem, and the one that betrays the mark of neo-con logic, is her implication that the source of this violence springs from, not the US-supported and armed military junta currently ruling Egypt, but the forces supposedly unleashed by the Arab Spring. This becomes clear in the final sentence, which resonates with the neo-con mantra that has been constant since the beginnings of the popular uprisings: if they get their democracy, we’ll wind up with the Islamists.

This disdain for the forces of democracy in Egypt (as contrasted to the neo-cons’ own preferred model of “democracy promotion” through military intervention) becomes even clearer in the admiring take on Hirsi Ali’s article posted on the blog of the National Review by Nina Shea. Concurring with Hirsi Ali’s thesis regarding the rise of Christophobia in the region, Shea adds, “Unfortunately, Arab democracy in Iraq and Egypt, the ancient homelands of two of the three largest Middle Eastern Christian communities, seems to be exacerbating the religious persecution.” (“Arab democracy,” we are thus invited to conclude, must be quite different from, say, “Western-style democracy.”)

As Shea notes, Hirsi Ali also uses the example of violence against Christians in Iraq, which is again awarded a full paragraph of attention. “Egypt is not the only Arab country that seems bent on wiping out its Christian minority,” she writes, continuing her “fair-minded assessment.” She goes on to note the rise in violence against Iraqi Christians since 2003, and the fact that thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled the country—“as the result of violence directed specifically against them”—leading to what she calls “an incipient genocide or ethnic cleansing of Assyrians in Iraq.”

And then, she moves on. The fact that 2003 is hardly an arbitrary date is not so much as acknowledged. Here we find yet another example of the almost unbelievable gall exhibited by neo-cons, as part of the larger forgetting of the war on Iraq in the United States. That Hirsi Ali—who was, like her neo-con colleagues, a vocal supporter of the war—can avoid not only accepting responsibility for the shattering of Iraqi society, but can actually use this shattering to advance her own hideous Islamophobic arguments, is simply obscene. Just as she fails to acknowledge that the attacks on pro-Coptic protesters in Egypt need to be understood within the larger framework of SCAF’s systematic attacks on all protesters, so she refuses to acknowledge that the thousands of Christians who have fled from Iraq are part of the one and a half million Iraqis who have been made refugees by the war she supported.

This forgetting of the carnage unleashed by the criminal war against Iraq is especially important today, as some of the same neo-con forces have not ceased to bang the drums for a new war against Iran. Hirsi Ali, not surprisingly, whole-heartedly endorses an attack on Iran. This is one of the clear dangers presented by her article in the current moment. I had decided not to mention another, more intimate connection between Hirsi Ali and neo-con ideology, represented by her marriage to the dean of neo-imperialists, Niall Ferguson. But it becomes impossible not to mention this connection when, in the very same issue of Newsweek—in fact, only four pages away from her article—we find an article by Ferguson, arguing vigorously for supporting an Israeli attack on Iran, using logic that could have been lifted straight out of the pro-war op-eds of 2002 (“Sometimes a preventive war can be a lesser evil than a policy of appeasement.”) Hirsi Ali only manages to work Iran into her argument regarding “Christophobia” in an indirect way, but given her long-standing views—she has, for example, argued that the Bush administration should have attacked Iraq and Iran after 9/11—her larger framework is clearly intended to support this march towards a new war.

But this is still not the most insidious aspect of Hirsi Ali’s argument. This becomes apparent only as she reaches her conclusion, which begins with a reiteration of her two theses: “It should be clear from this catalog of atrocities that anti-Christian violence is a major and underreported problem.” Helpfully, she goes on to offer an explanation for both aspects of the problem. This “global war on Christians” is not, she suggests, the result of coordination by “some international Islamist agency.” “In that sense,” she goes on, “the global war on Christians isn’t a traditional war at all. It is, rather, a spontaneous expression of anti-Christian animus by Muslims that transcends cultures, regions, and ethnicities.”

In a word: Muslims are killing Christians because Muslims hate Christians. And if this global war remains “underreported,” Muslims are to blame for this as well: part of the reason for “the media’s reticence on the subject,” she suggests, “may be the fear of provoking additional violence,” but the “most likely” explanation is “the influence of lobbying groups such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.” Such groups, she concludes, “have been remarkably successful in persuading leading public figures and journalists in the West to think of each and every example of perceived anti-Muslim discrimination as an expression of a systematic and sinister derangement called ‘Islamophobia’—a term that is meant to elicit the same moral disapproval as xenophobia or homophobia.”

We discover a few important things here. The first is that the seeming disconnectedness of Hirsi Ali’s argument is in fact intentional. There is no need to draw logical or factual connections between the various incidents she raises because the logic can be found in the very structure of her thesis: what she cites are simply examples of Muslims attacking Christians, and Muslims attack Christians because Muslims hate Christians. When Egyptian security forces attack Coptic protesters, it is not the army attacking protesters; it is Muslims attacking Christians. When Iraqi Christians flee the violence of a country destroyed by a US-led war and occupation, it is not Iraqis fleeing from carnage; it is Christians fleeing from Muslims. Hirsi Ali has developed the perfect machine for circulating and defending Islamophobia, since it directly implicates every individual Muslim in the actions of every other individual Muslim—not to mention the actions of any government of any Muslim-majority state. And, as an added bonus, it even manages to implicate the imputing of Islamophobia itself as part of the problem, since she sees this as part of the sinister “conspiracy of silence” that allows this global Christophobia to flourish.

Hirsi Ali’s “war,” in other words, guarantees the continuing stigmatization of Muslims in North America and Europe. This is what allows her to speak of a “global war on Christians in the Muslim world.” In addition to resonating with the US’s “global war on terror,” what this phrase signifies is that the Islamic “threat” is a global one. So what might appear to be a minority community under siege in the United States, Hirsi Ali suggests, is in fact part of a threatening wave of genocide; the “spontaneous expression of anti-Christian animus by Muslims that transcends cultures, regions, and ethnicities” exists, in inchoate form, everywhere. No one (Christian) is safe.

Allow me to state the obvious, which is that Hirsi Ali’s argument has an immediately recognizable pedigree. The attempt to justify the oppression of minority groups by producing them as threats to “our way of life”—including the assertion that the same groups have the mysterious power to bewitch, dupe, and silence the unwary through conspiratorial means and shadowy organizations—has been a standard practice of racism and fascism, those precursors of Islamophobia; Hirsi Ali is a connoisseur of all three. Her supposed defense of an embattled minority is a thinly disguised attempt to extend and expand the ongoing repression of Muslim minority communities. The logic of her argument is precisely the same as that which has underwritten the violent policing of Muslim communities in the name of fighting “homegrown terrorism,” which has had such horrific consequences for these communities (not to mention for civil liberties more generally).

Hirsi Ali, like Ferguson and the rest of the neo-con forces, is eager to wrap herself in the mantle of “Western” virtues such as skepticism and secularism, against the forces of sectarianism and fundamentalism that they see as constitutive of the “Muslim world.” But what could possibly be more sectarian and fundamentalist than Hirsi Ali’s vision of the world, with its terrifying simplifications and generalizations, and its reduction of genuine situations of violence and suffering to data whose only purpose is to power her relentless Islamophobia machine?

Oliver Stone’s Son Converts to Islam: The “Islamization” of Hollywood Continues?

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2012 by loonwatch
Sean_Stone_Islam_Iran
Sean Stone

Islamophobes are all upset that Oliver Stone’s son Sean Stone converted to Islam.

For some reason the Islamophobes are hurt by this, perhaps they believe that Hollywood is about to be overtaken by Muslims or that it is a symbol of the Leftist-Muslamic axis of evil. First it was Liam Neeson and now Oliver Stone’s director son!:

Oliver Stone’s Son Converts to Islam in Iran

Tehran, Iran (CNN) – The son of Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone converted to Islam in a ceremony in central Iran, a national news agency reported.

Sean Stone became a Shiite Muslim in the city of Esfahan Tuesday and chose Ali as his new Islamic name, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported.

“The conversion to Islam is not abandoning Christianity or Judaism, which I was born with,” Stone told Fars News Agency. “It means I have accepted Mohammad and other prophets.”

He did not say why he converted.

Stone, 27, is also a filmmaker and has collaborated on his father’s projects. His father is Jewish and his mother, Christian.

Oliver Stone directed “Platoon,” “Born on the Fourth of July” and “JFK.”

US Officials Confirm: Israel Financing, Training and Arming MEK Terrorists to Murder Iranian Scientists

Posted in Feature, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2012 by loonwatch

Tehran_Scientist_Iran_Israel_MEKIranian scientists car blown up by MEK terrorist

This past July I wrote a piece on the collaboration between, and support for the MEK (Mujahideen-e-Khalq) from US congressmen, as well as the intense effort to delist the group from the US State Department’s “designated terrorist” list.

Congressmen (including Democrats) and former government officials have met with the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an organization that was designated a terrorist group in 1997 when the list was first compiled, and is STILL ON THE LIST–for now.

MEK has a very aggressive and organized lobby effort in Washington D.C. According to one House staffer, the MEK is “the most mobilized grassroots advocacy effort in the country — AIPAC included.” Their mission is to be delisted as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), push the USA to foment war with Iran, i.e. “regime change,” and have themselves installed into power. Sound familiar?

This exposed several issues which I touched upon in my July article:

1.) It is a felony to provide a designated terrorist organization with “material support,” which many elected officials it can be argued have been doing!

2.) “Numerous Muslims inside the U.S. have been prosecuted for providing ‘material support for Terrorism’ for doing far less than these American politicians are publicly doing on behalf of a designated Terrorist group.” Read Glenn Greenwald’s piece for a far from comprehensive list of Muslims who have been charged for doing far less than what these politicians did! (H/T: Believing Atheist)

Danios has written several pieces on the “Greater Islamophobia,” i.e. “bombing, invading, and occupying Muslim lands.” His and Glenn Greenwald’s analysis of the uptick in war propaganda, covert operations by both the USA and Israel are must reads. It is clear that we are reaching a crucial point from which we will be unable to return: are the wheels turning irreversibly towards war?

According to the Iranian American Islamic scholar Reza Aslan, the fact that there is so much public discussion of “war” against Iran is indicative of a private aversion to confrontation, he told us:

Nobody is going to war with Iran, neither the United States or Israel. I can tell you for a fact that Israel is not going to war with Iran because Israel keeps talking about it. If anybody who has studied Israeli politics at all can tell you anything is if Israel talks about bombing Iran then that means it has no intentions of doing it. When the Israelis want you dead you just die, OK.

Reza’s logic is pretty sound and lets hope he continues to be right, but sometimes, even when no one wants war you get war. History is replete with such a fact.

In the meantime we have the Israeli effort at sabotaging the Iranian nuclear program by targeting and killing Iranian scientists. It has been a not-so-well-hidden-secret that Israel has been using the MEK as a proxy in this war, a claim leveled by Iran for quite some time.

Now we have US officials confirming this fact. Of course, if true, this is nothing less than government sponsored terrorism!

All of these mysteries received substantial clarity from an NBC News report by Richard Engel and Robert Windrem yesterday. Citing two anonymous “senior U.S. officials,” that report makes two amazing claims: (1) that it was MEK which perpetrated the string of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists and (2) the Terrorist group “is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service.” These senior officials also admitted that “the Obama administration is aware of the assassination campaign” but claims it “has no direct involvement.” Iran has long insisted the Israel and the U.S. are using MEK to carry out Terrorist attacks on its soil, including the murder of its scientists, and NBC notes that these acknowledgments “confirm charges leveled by Iran’s leaders” (MEK issued a statement denying the report).

The ramifications for this are disturbing to say the least. The hypocrisy and double standards it exposes once again are evident. Greenwald summarizes the questions and conclusions reached from the NBC report far more eloquently than I could, so I repeat them:

If these senior U.S. officials are telling the truth, there are a number of vital questions and conclusions raised by this. First, it would mean that the assurances by MEK’s paid American shills such as Howard Dean that “they are unarmed” are totally false: whoever murdered these scientists is obviously well-armed. Second, this should completely gut the effort to remove MEK from the list of designated Terrorist groups; after all, murdering Iran’s scientists through the use of bombs and guns is a defining act of a Terror group, at least as U.S. law attempts to define the term. Third, this should forever resolve the debate in which I was involved last month about whether the attack on these Iranian scientists constitutes Terrorism; as Daniel Larson put it yesterday: “If true, the murders of Iranian nuclear scientists with bombs have been committed by a recognized terrorist group. Can everyone acknowledge at this point that these attacks were acts of terrorism?”

Fourth, and most important: if this report is true, is this not definitive proof that Israel is, by definition, a so-called state sponsor of Terrorism? Leaving everything else aside, if Israel, as NBC reports, has “financed, trained and armed” a group officially designated by the U.S. Government as a Terrorist organization, isn’t that the definitive act of how one becomes an official “state sponsor of Terrorism”? Amazingly, as Daniel Larison notes, one of the people who most vocally attacked me for labeling the murder of Iranian scientists as “Terrorism” and for generally arguing that Terrorism is a meaningless, cynically applied term — Commentary‘s Jonathan Tobinyesterday issued a justification for why Israel should be working with Terrorist groups like MEK. As Larison wrote about Tobin’s article:

In other words, Israeli state sponsorship of a terrorist group is acceptable because it’s in a good cause. . . . Because Israel is overreacting to a perceived threat from Iran, Tobin believes it is entirely defensible for Israel to partner with a recognized terrorist group. In other words, Tobin believes that terrorism is “entirely defensible” so long as it is committed by the right people and directed at the right targets. It’s as if he is going out of his way to vindicate Glenn Greenwald.

Of course, as I documented in my last book, those who are politically and financially well-connected are free to commit even the most egregious crimes; for that reason, the very idea of prosecuting Giuliani, Rendell, Ridge, Townsend, Dean and friends for their paid labor on behalf of a Terrorist group is unthinkable, a suggestion not fit for decent company, even though powerless Muslims have been viciously prosecuted for far less egregious connections to such groups. But this incident also underscores the specific point that the term Terrorism is so completely meaningless, manipulated and mischievous: it’s just a cynical term designed to delegitimize violence and even political acts undertaken by America’s enemies while shielding from criticism the actual Terrorism undertaken by itself and its allies. The spectacle whereby a designated Terrorist group can pay top American politicians to advocate for them even as they engage in violent Terrorist acts, all while being trained, funded and aided by America’s top client state, should forever end the controversy over that glaringly obvious proposition.

Here is the original NBC Report:

By Richard Engel and Robert Windrem (NBC NEWS)

Deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists are being carried out by an Iranian dissident group that is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service, U.S. officials tell NBC News, confirming charges leveled by Iran’s leaders.

The group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, has long been designated as a terrorist group by the United States, accused of killing American servicemen and contractors in the 1970s and supporting the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran before breaking with the Iranian mullahs in 1980.

The attacks, which have killed five Iranian nuclear scientists since 2007 and may have destroyed a missile research and development site, have been carried out in dramatic fashion, with motorcycle-borne assailants often attaching small magnetic bombs to the exterior of the victims’ cars.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Obama administration is aware of the assassination campaign but has no direct involvement.

The Iranians have no doubt who is responsible – Israel and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, known by various acronyms, including MEK, MKO and PMI.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

“The relation is very intricate and close,” said Mohammad Javad Larijani, a senior aide to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, speaking of the MEK and Israel.  “They (Israelis) are paying … the Mujahedin. Some of their (MEK) agents … (are) providing Israel with information.  And they recruit and also manage logistical support.”


Moreover, he said, the Mossad, the Israeli secret service, is training MEK members in Israel on the use of motorcycles and small bombs.  In one case, he said, Mossad agents built a replica of the home of an Iranian nuclear scientist so that the assassins could familiarize themselves with the layout prior to the attack.

Much of what the Iranian government knows of the attacks and the links between Israel and MEK  comes from interrogation of an assassin who failed to carry out an attack in late 2010 and the materials found on him, Larijani said. (Click here to see a video report of the interrogation shown on Iranian televsion.)

The U.S.-educated Larijani, whose two younger brothers run the legislative and judicial branches of the Iranian government, said the Israelis’ rationale is simple. “Israel does not have direct access to our society. Mujahedin, being Iranian and being part of Iranian society, they have … a good number of … places to get into the touch with people. So I think they are working hand-to-hand very close.  And we do have very concrete documents.”

Two senior U.S. officials confirmed for NBC News  the MEK’s role in the assassinations, with one senior official saying, “All your inclinations are correct.” A third official would not confirm or deny the relationship, saying only, “It hasn’t been clearly confirmed yet.”  All the officials denied any U.S. involvement in the assassinations.

As it has in the past, Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined comment. Said a spokesman, “As long as we can’t see all the evidence being claimed by NBC, the Foreign Ministry won’t react to every gossip and report being published worldwide.”

For its part, the MEK pointed to a statement calling the allegations “absolutely false.”

Ali Safavi, a long-time representative of the MEK, underscored the denial after publication of this article,

“There has never been and there is no MEK member in Israel, period,” he said. “The MEK has categorically denied any involvement. The idea that Israel is training MEK members on its soil borders on perversity. It is absolutely and completely false.”

The sophistication of the attacks supports the Iranian claims that an experienced intelligence service is involved, experts say.

In the most recent attack, on Jan. 11, 2012, Mostafa Ahamdi Roshan died in a blast in Tehran moments after two assailants on a motorcycle placed a small magnetic bomb on his vehicle. Roshan was a deputy director at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility and was reportedly involved in procurement for the nuclear program, which Iran insists is not a weapons program.

Previous attacks include the assassination of Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, killed by a bomb outside his Tehran home in January 2010, and an explosion in November of that year that took the life of Majid Shahriari and wounded Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, who is now the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.

In the case of Roshan, the bomb appears to have been a shaped charge that directed all the explosive power inside the vehicle, killing him and his bodyguard driver but leaving nearby traffic unaffected.

Although Roshan was directly involved in the nuclear program, working at the huge centrifuge facility between Tehran and Qom, Iran’s religious center, at least one other scientist who was killed wasn’t linked to the Iranian nuclear program, according to Larijani.

Speaking of bombing victim Ali-Mohammadi, whom he described as a friend, Larijani told NBC News, “In fact this guy who was assassinated was not involved in the nitty-gritty of the situation.  He was a scientist, a physicist, working on the theoretically parts of nuclear energy, which you can teach it in every university. You can find it in every text.”

“This is an Israeli plot.  A dirty plot,” Larijani added angrily. He also claimed the assassinations are not having an effect on the program and have only made scientists more resolute in carrying out their mission.

Not so, said Ronen Bergman, an Israeli commentator and author of “Israel’s Secret War with Iran” and an upcoming book tentatively titled, “Mossad and the Art of Assassination. (Read the rest)

************************************************************************

I will end by saying that this hypocrisy and double standards are nothing new to us. We reported back in July on the collaboration between US politicians and the material support they were clearly lending to a “designated terrorist organization.” Muslims and Islamic groups who have far less power than these hypocritical politicians are tarnished with the “unindicted terrorist” label and hence marginalized while the politicians roam free and actually put money into their pocket books from these terror groups.

Israel’s lies, distortions and terror are also well known to us. This is not the first time Israel has delved into “government sponsored terror” and it likely won’t be the last! On a daily basis Israel is terrorizing the Palestinians, a point many seem to miss! The question is when will we wake up and hold our political class to account for the hypocrisy, the double standards, the erosion of our civil liberties or are we willing to give it away for the false mirage of “security?”

Glenn Greenwald: The Growing Iranian Military Behemoth

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on February 4, 2012 by loonwatch

Even as the United States threatens to invade Iran, you must always remember: Iranians/Muslims are the violent, aggressive, and warlike ones.

The growing Iranian military behemoth

By Glenn Greenwald

The tranquility of my Saturday morning was disrupted — and that’s putting it mildly — when I read on Glenn Reynolds’ popular right-wing “Instapundit” blog that we can learn important “Lessons About Iran From Hitler.” To know that we have yet another New Hitler in our midst is alarming indeed. Reynolds’ link takes one to an even more jarring warning about the Persian menace, by David Goldman, that extensively compares the fallen Nazi leader to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and argues that because both figures are maniacal monsters presiding over a dying nation, only a full-scale military attack can stop them. ”However much it costs in Iranian blood and well-being, it’s still worth it,” Goldman casually decrees.

Sociopathic calls for aggressive attacks on other nations and cheap invocations of Hitler are not worth commenting on: neocons churn those out reflexively. But what is worth noting is the event Goldman is flagging as proof of Iran’s aggressive intentions: “Iran is planning to double its defense budget even though its currency is collapsing,” he warns. A doubling of its defense budget! Who among us can remain calm in the face of such naked militarism?

That Ahmadinejad claims that Iran will increase its military budget for next year by 127% was widely reported this week. For a variety of reasons relating to Iran’s economic difficulties, that plan is quite infeasible — typical Ahmadinejad blustering — but let’s assume for the moment that it will actually happen. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Military Expenditure Database, Iran’s total annual military spending is $7 billion; an increase of 127% would take it to $15.8 billion — also known as: less than 2% of total U.S. military spending (which was$698 billion for fiscal year 2010). According to Defense News, Iran’s official military budget for 2011 is actually $12 billion; an increase of 127% would bring it to $27.2 billion, also known as: less than 4% of U.S. military spending. Taking the largest number possible for Iranian military spending (the one provided by Defense News), behold the frightening, Nazi-like military threat Iran poses:

These kinds of scary claims about Iran’s military might have been issuing for years. Back in 2006, Gen. John Abizaid, chief of the U.S. Central Command,announced that Iran has the most powerful military in the Middle East, even though Israel has a large stockpile of nuclear weapons, as many as 200, while Saudi Arabia annually spends almost $60 billion on its military (more than 5 times Iran’s current spending) or “10% of GDP on defence, more than double the proportion spent by America.” Both of those Iranian rivals (Israel and Saudi Arabia), and many others in that region, are recipients of vast amounts of sophisticated military weaponry from the U.S.  Here is a list of 11 extremely sophisticated weapons that the U.S. — and it alone in the world — possesses. And then there’s the fact that the U.S. basically has Iran completely encircled, as demonstrated by this graph from Juan Cole’s blog, showing U.S. military bases near Iran:

As Cole put it: “Each star is a US base. But just to be clear, Iran is the one that is threatening us.” Indeed: imagine if the blue in that map were the U.S. (rather than Iran), and the large red areas were Mexico and Canada (rather than Iran’s neighbors), and the stars represented Iranian military bases. Then further imagine that Iranian political leaders and media figures routinely told their population that it was the U.S. that was an aggressive, threatening power that had to be stopped: the mocking condemnations of that level of propaganda would be endless. Yet American political officials and commentators feel free to insist, with a straight face, that Iran is an aggressor nation posing a serious threat to the U.S.: such a serious threat, in fact, that war may be necessary to stop it. And there is, tragically, little doubt that if there is an attack on Iran by Israel — with direct U.S. involvement or, more likely, U.S. support and approval — there will be little opposition in either American political party, and even less challenge to the ludicrous claims about the Grave Iranian Threat that will be invoked to justify it.