Netanyahu’s swearing-in speech draws roars of laughter from Arab MPs

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You don’t need to know Hebrew to find the humour in Netanyahu’s swearing in speech during Friday’s Knesset session:

From the London Review of Books:

Yesterday, on the 67th anniversary of the establishment of Israel (Palestinians commemorate the Nakba today), Binyamin Netanyahu was sworn in as prime minister. It’s taken him a while to put together a governing coalition of 61 seats, against 59 in the opposition. It’s worth watching the first minute of Netanyahu’s speech to the Knesset. You don’t have to understand Hebrew. ‘Tonight with God’s help,’ he begins, ‘we will create a government in Israel.’ He pauses for a second. ‘We will defend Israeli security.’ Another pause. ‘And we will strive for peace.’ At the word ‘peace’ (‘shalom’) many members of the Knesset couldn’t contain themselves. Bursts of spontaneous laughter broke out from the opposition benches. Led by Arab MKs from the Joint List, the contagious laughter carried away more and more members of the opposition. The word ‘peace’ in Israel, especially spoken by Netanyahu, is a joke. It is indeed funny to watch. Yet it is the tragic story of Israel.

Netanyahu’s Joke

I can’t say this didn’t make me chuckle 🙂 .

“Jerusalem Day” 2015: Calls to demolish Al-Aqsa, Chants of ‘Mohammed is Dead’

On so-called “Jerusalem Day” today – an annual event held to celebrate the occupying of the city – extremist Israeli settlers marched through the streets chanting slogans such as: ‘Death to Arabs’ and ‘Mohammed is Dead’.  They also distributed flyers calling for the destruction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque – Islam’s 3rd holiest site. A Jordanian TV crew were attacked and chased through the streets by these colonialist terrorists.

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Update – a female correspondent for RT Arabic was assaulted by Israeli police. From RT;

Dalia Nammari and the cameraman Muhammad Aishu were filming the march of settlers, which they had been accredited to, when the police interfered with their work and took away the camera. The crew continued to report from the scene using a smart phone and going on air live via Skype, when the police attacked them again.

Last year, Israeli forces raided a building in Ramallah where the offices of several media outlets, including RT’s Arabic channel, were located. The troops broke down the doors of the offices, destroyed some of the equipment and confiscated records.

During last year’s siege of Gaza, Israeli forces killed a total of 18 journalists.

(2011 footage)

Iran is the Future

BRAZIL - JUNE 21:  Iran fans cheer during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group F match between Argentina and Iran at Estadio Mineirao on June 21, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 491933191
BRAZIL – JUNE 21, 2014: Iran fans cheer during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group F match between Argentina and Iran at Estadio Mineirao 

This is a comment I posted on a Guardian article reporting on King Salman’s decision not to attend the GCC meeting with Obama at Camp David. It sum’s up what I think are the real motivators behind the Persian Gulf countries, and Israel’s, fear of the Iran nuclear deal:

How exactly does a deal to LIMIT Iran’s (peaceful) nuclear programme harm the GCC? Iran isn’t the one bombing it’s neighbour and covertly waging a war against Iraq and Syria. The only aid Iran has given the Houthis is financial, as well as negotiating food imports into the country, and a new airline linking Sanaa to Tehran. The Houthis, like everyone else, are fighting with American-made weapons. By the way, I just read that Yemen is on its way to becoming the worst man-made crisis of the 21st century, due to the blockade making it impossible to get fuel and food (90% of Yemen’s food is imported).

I think the real problem for these despots is what will happen to their economies once sanctions are lifted. 90% of KSA’s income is through oil sales, and it’s population are unskilled and uneducated. Iran’s population is the opposite, and they actually manufacture things, such as cars. Though it’s not reported in the Western press, delegations from all over Europe have been visiting Tehran to sign trade deals in recent months. In fact, there was even a US delegation there yesterday.

Without the sanctions, Iran has the ability to become an economic powerhouse. In fact it is also about to start building hundreds of new hotels to keep up with its blossoming tourist industry. All this strikes fear into the heart of Salman, Netanyahu, Tom Cotton, and the rest.

One further point is, how will lessening restrictions in Iran’s energy sector affect the price of oil? The market is currently flooded with Saudi oil, what happens when it’s also flooded with Iranian oil?

It can’t be emphasised enough how much potential there is for Iran. If you read Fars News or Press TV there are almost daily articles reporting on economic delegations from Poland, visits to Tehran by French car manufacturers, meetings between Iranian ministers and Swiss ministers, and so on. The power they exert is very much in the Chinese tradition, ie. investing in infrastructure rather than selling weapons and dropping bombs, as the American’s and the Saudi’s do.

I probably wouldn’t have started this blog if it wasn’t for the sudden interest I found in Iran last year. Having researched women’s rights in the Middle East, I couldn’t believe that the country so demonised for its human rights abuses was Iran, whose women seem so fiercely independent, and not Saudi Arabia, which goes to extraordinary lengths to keep their women segregated from men, and whose  women must cloak themselves in black tents, while the Persians put Western women’s dress sense to shame. I actually started trying to copy some of the looks I found, which can be seen in my post: Iranian Street Style.

While human rights in KSA are regressing – they have just fired their first female minister – human rights in Iran are making slow but welcome progress – they have just appointed their first female ambassador to represent them abroad. Iran is the future, while the Americans and their Gulf cronies are on a sinking ship.

Anti-Zionist Jews Protest Bibi’s Speech

Two weekends ago, as the annual AIPAC conference took place, Orthodox Jews in New York, Washington and Jerusalem protested against the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s presence in the US. Prior to his “controversial” speech to Congress (in which he would claim that a nuclear deal with Iran would pose an existential threat to his country) Netanyahu declared that he would go to Washington as he went to Paris: to speak for all Jews.

The audacity of such a statement was all the more astonishing when taking into consideration the fact that President Hollande had specifically asked the Israeli PM not to attend the march in Paris.

There’s not much to say about Bibi’s speech itself – I think anyone familiar with the man can guess what he had to say – but the resulting protests did give the world this amusing slogan:

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Which – whether deliberately or not – was a delightful play upon one of Likud’s current election campaign ads…

Whose arms have the Obama Administration been twisting?

In an interview with Vox last month Barack Obama said: ‘We occasionally have to twist the arms of countries that wouldn’t do what we need them to do.’ He elaborated, stating that “if it weren’t for the various economic or diplomatic or, in some cases, military leverage that we had — if we didn’t have that dose of realism, we wouldn’t get anything done, either.”

Thanks to a cache of intelligence cables that were leaked to the Guardian, we now have an example of one such occasion. The leaked documents revealed that Barack Obama once “threatened” Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. This was in relation to the 2012 bid by the Palestinian Authority to seek ‘non-member observer status’ at the United Nations. The article states:

A South African state security agency report from November 2012 records a Palestinian intelligence officer handing over a memo detailing a phone call made by the US president to the Palestinian leader “where President Obama threatened President Abbas if he goes ahead with the UN bid”.

Abbas pressed ahead with the application to the UN, and a fortnight later the general assembly backed the bid, which smoothed the way for the Palestinians to attempt to bring cases against Israel at the international criminal court.

The nature of Obama’s threat isn’t expanded upon in the cables, however that the administration sought to punish Abbas and the Palestinians for seeking to use the appropriate and legal international bodies as a means of establishing their state says a lot about the White House’s disregard for democracy and human rights – despite the constant invoking of such principles by the administration as a reason for bombing non-compliant nations, or applying sanctions etc.

Surely this proves once and for all that the U.S. is not a neutral mediator between Israel and the Palestinians. If anyone needs to be threatened, Obama should be telling Netanyahu that he will no longer be receiving $3 billion of aid every year until Israel proves itself willing to return to the pre-1967 borders, and commit to a meaningful resolution to the conflict.

* * * * * *

When I first heard Obama actually admitting to twisting arms, I immediately thought of the US’s insistence that the EU impose sanctions on Russia following the downing of MH17 last summer. Despite – almost a year later – no investigation apportioning blame having been published, within hours of the crash Obama had proclaimed Vladimir Putin to be personally responsible. New sanctions were implemented, and the EU soon followed suit. This definitely seemed like a case of arm-twisting; Joe Biden even said that the White House had had to “embarrass” European leaders into imposing the sanctions.

For months now the behaviour of Angela Merkel and others has been so at odds with reality, that blackmail seems like the only credible reason for this. It seems like the NSA certainly picked up some good dirt on Merkel while bugging her phone. When she and Hollande flew to Moscow to meet with Putin in January, the lack of an American or British presence was telling. So was the fact that the three leaders spoke for hours without aides. Then, when Merkel visited the White House the week after, some incriminating photographs of her with a group of skinhead/neo-Nazi types were published only hours before she and Obama met. Anonymous took credit for this, however due to the decentralized nature of the group, it would be possible for anyone with an agenda to have published these photos on behalf of the hacker collective.

* * * * * *

Obviously this is all just speculation, but as Obama has admitted to using coercive means to achieve his objectives – as is evidenced by his threatening of Mahmoud Abbas – it seems likely that he and his administration have issued threats to the EU.

Thus the lofty statements made by the White House, State Department etc alluding to the importance of democratic principles, self-determination, human rights, freedom of speech and so on become rather meaningless when these are not backed up by actions to support them.

Sadly there is another parallel to be drawn from the current situations in Palestine and Ukraine. While Russia receives sanctions for its so-called “annexation” of Crimea – despite the peninsula voting overwhelmingly to rejoin its homeland – Israel receives billions of dollars in aid every year to maintain their occupation of Palestine, when it can be guaranteed that given the choice, no Palestinian would choose to live under Israeli rule.

Oh the irony!

 

References:

CIA attempted to contact Hamas despite official US ban, spy cables reveal
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/23/spy-cables-leak-cia-contact-hamas-us-ban?CMP=share_btn_tw

Obama: ‘We have to twist arms when countries don’t do what we need them to’
http://rt.com/news/231279-obama-foreign-policy-power/

The Media and JSIL: Justifying the Occupation

Palestinian children throw stones at Isr

Today’s events in Jerusalem are a great example of the disturbing bias that pervades the mainstream media with regard to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The murder of four Israelis by two Palestinians is the top story on the BBC and the Guardian, complete with live updates as the story ‘develops’. There is little mention of the numerous Arab deaths that have occurred in the last few weeks; the Guardian merely states ’12 Palestinians have been killed’, yet devotes an entire article to naming and describing the four Israelis. Additionally, Palestinian killers are always labelled ‘terrorists’. For instance, a baby recently died after a Palestinian ran into a group of people in his car. He was shot dead at the scene and instantly deemed a terrorist, despite witnesses having said that the incident looked like an accident.

Of course, this suits the current narrative being peddled by Netanyahu and his government that equates Hamas, ISIS and Iran with one another; a comparison that is both ignorant and racist, as it assumes that all these groups are driven by the same agenda of mindless violence, have no individual motives for their actions, and cannot be reasoned with. This is just a further excuse to continue denying Palestinians their own state. A couple of weeks ago the New York Times published an op-ed by Naftali Bennett, Israel’s minister of the economy and a likely successor to Netanyahu, titled ‘For Israel: Two-State is no Solution’. In this he asserts that the Palestinians can’t be trusted to have their own country, and instead proposes more of the same, stating that:

There is a new reality in the Middle East, which has brought to an end to the viability of the Oslo peace process.

The regional upheaval and disintegration of nation states oblige us to act responsibility. We must work toward realistic goals that are capable of providing real security and economic prosperity.

Thus Bennett reasons that the current chaos in the Middle East such as the collapse of the Syrian-Iraqi border means that Israel cannot risk a two state solution, because the threat of Islamic extremism is too great. Ironically, Israel seems to be the one nation that hasn’t been affected by the rise of ISIS. In fact, the actions of ISIS are of some benefit to Israel: by creating sectarian divisions between Muslims, causing them to fight among themselves rather than standing united against Israel.

The premise of Bennett’s plan takes for granted that the security of Israel is more important than the Palestinians getting their own state; it’s not. As with the siege of Gaza earlier this year, Netanyahu is once again using this latest act of violence as an opportunity to collectively punish all Palestinians. He has ordered that the homes of the attackers be destroyed (with no regard for the other family members living there) and pledges a ‘heavy handed’ response to the killings. By continuing to ignore the crimes committed by Israel and its citizens and framing all of those carried out by Palestinians as “terrorism”, the corporate media are active participants in constructing the occupier’s narrative: that Israel has no choice to defend itself from terrorists who wish to see its destruction.

 

For Israel, Two-State is no Solution

Iranian Street Style

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Last year Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – having already threatened the Iranian people with military action over the country’s uranium enrichment programme – sought to appeal to them directly via an interview on BBC Persia. However the end result was not the desired national dialogue on Iran’s nuclear capabilities, or the existential threat these posed to the Jewish state, but derision over Netanyahu’s uneducated view of Iranian society – particularly by its ever-growing liberal youth demographic.

The Israeli politicians words would likely carry more weight with the outside world if they were in any way based in reality, but comments like:

“I think if the Iranian people had freedom, they would wear jeans, listen to Western music, and have free elections”

only serve to show that all his statements on the Islamic Republic should be taken with a pinch of salt. Contrary to popular assumptions, Persian women are not forced to dress head-to-toe in black cloth. While the law dictates that they must cover their hair, Iranian women are among the most stylish in the world, and are constantly finding new ways to push the boundaries of the state’s oppressive dress codes. These include the current leggings craze, which have caused outrage in Iran’s parliament, and would be considered an immodest outfit choice by many women in the UK.

Here are some images of Iranian street style, more of which can be found on the Tehran Times

‘Iran Parliament Up in Arms Over Leggings’:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-28034232

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