Netanyahu’s greatest fear: Linkage

Israel/Palestine
on 146 Comments
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the press at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv on November 8, 2013 (Pool/AFP/File, Debbie Hill)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the press at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv on November 8, 2013 (Pool/AFP/File, Debbie Hill)

Before heading to Geneva this weekend for the P5+1 negotiations with Iran, John Kerry was in Israel, where he gave a lengthy interview on Channel 2, harshly criticizing Israel’s settlement expansion policy. According to Haaretz, that was the reason Kerry traveled to Israel “to try and deal with the crisis that resulted in Israel’s announcement of settlement expansion.”

The next day Kerry met with Netanyahu about Iran. The meeting, which went on for two hours, was described by multiple outlets as tense, and a scheduled joint appearance with the media was canceled. Haaretz reported Netanyahu exhibited “disturbing outbursts“.  The Washington Post reported Netanyahu left “little doubt that the fate of the Palestinian talks is linked to the outcome of negotiations with Iran.”

The “ferocity of Netanyahu’s rage” was surely compounded by Kerry’s warning about settlement expansion, and a third intifada if Israel continues to colonize Palestinian territory, and the secretary of state’s impatience with those, e.g. Israel, using “fear tactics” to stop the P5+1 Iran negotiations. Abe Foxman said Kerry’s criticism was outrageous; “It is chutzpah to lecture Israel about the risks of peace and war.” To heed Kerry would mean that Netanyahu would succumb to Obama’s priorities over those of his own– an ongoing competition that’s marked the relationship between the officials since day one.

But this competing narrative has been absent for the most part from all mainstream reports.

The battle between US priorities and Israeli ones shows up in Jeffrey Goldberg’s latest Op-ed: Hagel falls into the Israel-Palestinian trap. Goldberg is regarded as the go-to American guy for the Israeli government, the reporter who tells Americans what they’re really thinking. Some said he carried water for that government when he published their warning three years ago about an imminent Israeli attack on Iran.

The interview with Hagel dealt with the idea of “linkage”– of resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict as one of America’s main strategic interests.

Goldberg:  “What does the Barack Obama administration believe the United States’s overarching strategic interests to be?……simply describe the main American strategic interests in the region”.

Hagel’s answer: Israel-Palestine.

“The main strategic interests have not changed, I don’t think, from administration to administration. A peace settlement with the Israelis and the Palestinians, which has been Bush policy, Clinton policy, going back to Bush 41.  . . . So, a peace settlement, and working with our allies to bring some security and stability to the region, to continue to develop their respect for human dignity, recognizing that the ethnic and religious currents are running against those currents. You can’t impose, you can’t occupy, you have to work with the people there. It takes time.”

Goldberg followed up by asking if combating Iranian influence was part of this same strategy. Hagel says Yes, but went right back to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This didn’t please Goldberg. It showed an erroneous article of faith in D.C., the “linkage” theory:

Hagel, like much of Washington’s foreign policy elite, still seems enamored of the idea that reaching a final agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians would help solve many of the Middle East’s other problems. I wasn’t that surprised, in fact, that he listed this item first in his description of America’s strategic challenges. Hagel is partial to a theory, known in shorthand as “linkage,” that is no longer operative in reality. The Israeli- Palestinian conflict is irrelevant to the great earthquakes of recent Middle East history….. But it is still an article of faith among very smart people that a peace treaty would lead to broad tranquility.

So the Israel-Palestine conflict is “irrelevant to the great earthquakes of recent Middle East history.” There is no connection between Israeli actions and American difficulties in the Middle East. And the same day, according to the Washington Post, Netanyahu left little doubt the “fate” of the negotiations with Palestinians was “linked” to the deal with Iran.  Haaretz said that, according to his advisers, Netanyahu “was feeling the American knife imbedding in his back.”

Why is this important? Because it’s starting to sink in publicly how Israel has been using Iran to divert attention from Israel’s never ending expansion. Because Netanyahu wants to use Palestine as a negotiating tool: his joker card in the high stakes game of ‘forget about settlement expansion and have another Middle East war.’ That’s his idea of linkage.

And if the situation is reversed, if the US were to appear unhappy with Israel’s progress over negotiations with Palestinians—would our government dare to hold linkage over Israel’s head? Ever—or right now? Or is any “linkage” just a one way street? This power struggle seems to be going on now behind closed doors. Which may be why Netanyahu tweeted this photo of his meeting with Kerry on Nov. 6:

Netanyahu and Kerry in Jerusalem this morning

Netanyahu and Kerry in Jerusalem

After Obama won a second term he jump-started pressure for a resolution of the conflict. And I find it not so coincidental that the nine-month period of talking, during which P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas agreed not to go to the UN, are unfolding in complete synchronization with the P5+1 negotiations with Iran.

I believe we’re seeing a US government effort to link the two conflicts in the public mind– with the possibility that an interim deal with Iran, which seems to be what they’re negotiating over in Geneva, coincides with the end of the time frame we agreed on with Palestinians, regarding a “halt of unilateral Palestinian actions at the United Nations during the nine months of negotiating.” That time frame ends in April. Then what happens? Do we see the Palestinians at the UN and the International Criminal Court, without pushback from US, even as Iran is on a back burner for another two or three months?

If you think Netanyahu is p.o.’d now, imagine that time crunch. And Obama still has 3 more years in office.

146 Responses

  1. HPH
    November 11, 2013, 10:08 am

    I think this is a very good and useful summary and interpretation of the recent events. I never see this information in the US MSM.

    • Krauss
      November 11, 2013, 11:14 am

      Yeah, this is why I donated(and those who haven’t still should hurry up and do it).

      OT:

      Chemi Shalev, the center-right Zionist in Haaretz went as far as saying this is the end of the ‘special relationship’.

      America is on the cusp of not importing any oil from the Middle East. It will still care about the global price of oil, just like India or China, but it can afford to dump the Saudis in a way that wasn’t possible before, hence you now see Israel and Saudi Arabia becomming closer in their view of the Middle Eastern geopolitical situation.

      America is not only becomming more indepedent in its energy situation, but also on Middle Eastern policy. Whoever wins the Democratic primary is most likely going to get the WH in 2017 as the term begins. I hope the Democratic base gets this lesson in order and avoid Clinton and select someone more indepedent(Warren is great on domestic policy but sold out fast on I/P).

      • pabelmont
        November 11, 2013, 12:34 pm

        The end of the S/R? Wouldn’t that be nice! Tell Congress about it when you have a chance. And tell AIPAC to turn out the light when the last AIPAC lobbyist leaves. (So to speak.)

        But if you are looking for a signal, how would this be as a short speech from Kerry:

        Israel has been building settlements on West Bank land since 1967 much as if it owned the property or at least held an option to purchase. In fact it does not own the West Bank, or East Jerusalem, and has no option on it. This’ll come as a surprise to the settlers (other than the lawyers among them who know international law). soon, it will be time for the USA to insist that the settlers move out and even that the settlements come down. Think about it. Iran is not Israel’s biggest problem — its foolish settlement policy is.

  2. just
    November 11, 2013, 10:08 am

    What a great article, Annie.

    I sincerely hope that the end of Israel’s stranglehold over our lawmakers is on the horizon. I hope that the sunlight that you, MW and many others continues to expose the many roaches that scurry and spit on our “foreign policy”, and put us on the side of the unbearable and cruel Apartheid Zionists of Israel. It’s all a demonic bait- and- switch. It’s a terrible fraud that has been enabled for far too long.

    Well done.

    • Kathleen
      November 11, 2013, 10:49 am

      Netanyahu afraid of the” linkage” and leakage of accurate information about the issue

      • seafoid
        November 11, 2013, 11:06 am

        I’d say his greatest fear is not getting any attention any more and having the status of the leader of an insignificant country, the way it should be.

      • Kathleen
        November 11, 2013, 11:21 am

        “insignificant country” don’t think so. Major player, manipulator, power broker. Although that looks like it may be waning. We can only hope and pray and keep pushing hard.

      • Citizen
        November 11, 2013, 12:01 pm

        It’s not Israel that’s the major player, manipulator, power broker–it’s AIPAC et al, Bibi’s appeal to what was once called “World Jewry,” when it called for a world-wide boycott of Germany (which was quickly followed by Krystalnacht). Things change, but remain the same?

      • American
        November 11, 2013, 12:09 pm

        Israel, the country itself is actually insignificant—-it’s ‘major player’, power etc. comes strictly from ‘outside ‘Israel—it’s diaspora Zionist organizations/influence in other country’s governments.
        Remove them and you have a different Israel or no Israel.

      • lysias
        November 11, 2013, 4:35 pm

        That worldwide boycott never got off the ground, because the Yishuv undermined it with the Havara Agreement. That was in 1933, five years before the Kristallnacht.

    • Annie Robbins
      November 12, 2013, 2:50 pm

      thanks just, ditto to justpassingby, ritzl and everyone for the positive /constructive feedback. why i love this place.

  3. Justpassingby
    November 11, 2013, 10:20 am

    Great Annie!

    Netanyahu enjoy the idea of dead palestinians/iranians. Kerry needs to show who is the boss and stop this man!

  4. ritzl
    November 11, 2013, 10:24 am

    Perceptive as usual, Annie.

    I hope this “linkage” struggle doesn’t paint the US into a diplomatic corner. It seems that linking Iran to Palestinian rights has the potential to do less of what’s right and beneficial on both fronts. If doing a less than optimum/durable deal with Iran is the price of getting Israel to [temporarily make noises about a] budge just a little on Palestinian rights/statehood, it’s a lose-lose.

    Netanyahu wants the US to link the two because that’s how he gets us to offer him up a win-win. The US doesn’t have a corresponding win-win scenario. If linked by the US, should the diplomatic “plum” of Palestine be solved beyond anyone’s wildest expectations, that can only mean that Iran remains unsolved. Zero-sum, from the US’s linkage perspective.

    Sadly, the US is disposed to falling into the linkage hole to the benefit of Israel.

    Good article. Thanks.

  5. Kathleen
    November 11, 2013, 10:36 am

    Helping folks connect the dots “linkage” has been growing by leaps and bounds

    Even though the MSM has been silent about the stronger language coming out of the Obama administration (Kerry) towards Israel’s continued expansion of illegal settlements. Kerry’s language was the strongest that I have heard. Although James Baker’s was right up there.

    And all of us know that the wall of silence when it comes to rock solid facts having to do with the I/P issue are well embedded in the U.S. MSM.

    Some of us have been calling into Cspan’s Washington Journal and other MSM radio shows for decades chipping away and making little cracks in the wall. Hit the wall on Washington Journal the other day again about Israel, Dennis Ross pushing the U.S. into a military confrontation with Iran. For several decades have kept bringing up Israel’s refusal to sign the NPT. These kinds of fact based calls have measurably increased over the last decade on the Journal. Folks are building the “linkage”
    My call is at 44:16. They were talking about the Affordable Health Care act but a previous caller had made numerous inaccurate statements about Iran so they opened up the door wide for my comment.
    link to c-spanvideo.org

    For years I foolishly continue to believe that if Americans or anyone hears fact based information about an issue the majority of folks will support the right action or legislation. My focus has been to politely use these outlets and hammer these outlets to put out accurate information, have particular guest on their shows, lead them to the UN website, Iaea website and to sites like Mondoweiss, Going to Tehran, Informed comment etc.

    • Annie Robbins
      November 12, 2013, 3:03 pm

      hey kathleen, just got around to listening to your question. excellent you’re out there doing that, non proliferation treaty iran has/israel hasn’t. and i noticed her response, suggesting people tweet cspan wj topics /hashtag wjtopics so maybe they can bring that up as a topic…long shot but you never know.

      • Kathleen
        November 12, 2013, 4:00 pm

        Been doing this for 20 years on Cspan on NPR(Rehm show and the former Talk of the Nation) too. Have solid verification that have gotten guest on those programs. Should have been keeping a log. Although now Camera has a list of my phone calls the last couple of years. They missed about 18 years. Proud to have my own file at Camera’s Cspan watch Last call on Sept 8th
        link to camera.org

        Camera Used to have links to all my phone calls the last two years. Darn Camera is reducing my file and ease of links to phone calls

        Starting in the run up to the invasion of Iraq was when I started calling into the Rehm show and Talk of the Nation (long gone) I was on fire doing everything I could do to stop that invasion. Dorie one of the main screeners at the Rehm show let me through all of the time I was hoping that I did not get her in trouble for letting me through so often (they had received complaints) I was able to get points and information across that people were not getting on NPR or anywhere else in the MSM. Blogs had opened up and followed what Prof Cole, former weapons inspector Scott Ritter, Scheuer and others were saying.

        The point being is that we can use these outlets to get accurate information out there and direct people to Informed Comment, Mondoweiss, Going to Tehran, the IAEA’s website etc. Use these outlets to get accurate information out there, ask the MSM to do their jobs……is the point

      • Kathleen
        November 12, 2013, 4:12 pm

        Annie know it works. Was able to get my friend Christian Peace Maker Team Member Peggy Gish on Talk of the Nation and the Diane Rehm show as a guest and a caller. Peggy who had been in Iraq before the invasion and started documenting interviews with family members of people who were in Abu Gharib(summer of 2003) with the CPT team and who went to Paul Bremer with the reports and were ignored was on the Rehm show while Seymour Hersh was on the show and they exchanged information. Seymour then used CPT’s reports about abuse in Abu Gharib in his report in the New Yorker about torture. CPT could not get out there reports through the powers that existed in Iraq but Peggy and the CPT team got those reports out through Seymour and they made contact by my pushing Peggy to get on the Rehm show. Am very proud of this connection. You just never know is one of my mottos. CPT started documenting abuse in Abu Gharib in summer of 2003 and continued to document for several years link to news.bbc.co.uk

        The CPT’s work is phenomenal. They are true and honorable justice seekers.

        Have also sent petitions with several hundred signatures to lobby these outlets to have particular guest and topics on these shows. It can work I know it works. Hammer hammer hammer makes cracks in the walls of silence

  6. seafoid
    November 11, 2013, 10:47 am

    “So the Israel-Palestine conflict is “irrelevant to the great earthquakes of recent Middle East history.”

    It is to the bots who believe that the reason all the locals hate Israel is because of all that anti-Semitism. Nothing to do with all the IDF atrocity material on youtube.

    Anti-semitism is great because it can’t be cured so you don’t have to do anything about the atrocities. But it’s such a shortsighted excuse for a strategy.

    • Ecru
      November 11, 2013, 3:17 pm

      @ seafoid

      “…the bots who believe that the reason all the locals hate Israel is because of all that anti-Semitism.”

      I have to disagree there seafoid. I don’t think the bots believe that for a second, they just find it a convenient cover for their own rampaging bigotry.

      • seafoid
        November 11, 2013, 3:47 pm

        @ Ecru

        Believing everyone hates them is part of their indoctrination. Why are 25% of Israeli final year students sent to Auschwitz ?

      • Ecru
        November 11, 2013, 4:17 pm

        @ seafoid

        Yeah that’s a point, but what about the non-Israeli bots, what’s their excuse?

      • EUR1069
        November 11, 2013, 7:30 pm

        “Why are 25% of Israeli final year students sent to Auschwitz ?”

        Because the Zionists turned Holocaust into a secular national religion – i.e. CELEBRATING DEATH [with a pathological dose of braggadocio] along the way pressuring everybody into a guilt trip, expecting crocodile tears, concessions, PR & political benefits & breaks at every turn. This is no way to live. This is a profoundly sick way of life & that’s why Israelis with their bunker mentality, paranoid schizophrenia, national pastime of listening to Army Radio news every hour & living in a super-Ghetto armed to the teeth will never become normal people.

      • Walid
        November 12, 2013, 1:18 am

        Interesting video, seafoid, for those that didn’t have a chance of viewing it, 3 of the many important messages from it:

        a) that Jews are always the soft targets; a mugger given the choice of victims between a Jew and a black man, would prefer to mug the Jew because the black guy could be carrying a gun or a knife.

        b) that the Ukrainians must never ever link their own catastrophe of Stalin’s deliberate starvation of Ukrainians in 1932 of 10 million people with the tragedy of the Jewish holocaust, which would be counterproductive for them. (We’ve seen a similar objection when Armenians try to link their genocide with that of the Jews)

        c) that according to Rabbi Hecht, a human rights commissioner, the charge of antisemitism and racism for any and all criticisms of Jews is an absurd and over-milked concept.

      • seafoid
        November 12, 2013, 3:32 am

        “that the Ukrainians must never ever link their own catastrophe of Stalin’s deliberate starvation of Ukrainians in 1932 of 10 million people with the tragedy of the Jewish holocaust, which would be counterproductive for them.”

        I think that’s the worst, Walid.
        The chosen victims take precedence over everyone else.
        I’d like to see them try this schtick in China with the victims of Mao.

      • lysias
        November 13, 2013, 3:22 pm

        Jay W. Baird’s To Die for Germany: Heroes in the Nazi Pantheon is a very interesting book.

  7. Citizen
    November 11, 2013, 11:32 am

    RE: “But this competing narrative has been absent for the most part from all mainstream reports. ”

    Fox Business News Channel just gave this headline news sans any discussion: “Iran Does Not Accept Kerry’s Framework For Peace.” Nothing about France’s, nor Israel’s hand in the current stalemate.

    • Justpassingby
      November 11, 2013, 12:38 pm

      Nonsense just like Clinton blamed Arafat. Kerry is too Pro Israel to accept a deal.

      • Citizen
        November 11, 2013, 6:18 pm

        On Fox News channel now, at 615PM: France had the courage to derail the plan, viva la France! Kerry is shown saying Iran is the culprit. Meetings will resume in a week, including with Iranian chief negotiator, whom Brits praise. Brit Hume comes on now. “Economic sanctions are now biting so hard Iran is ready to deal. Iran’s saying no. Who whats the deal more? Obama wants to end wars, and his second term is going nowhere, with his first term Obamacare hitting the ropes. What is the role of France: Hume: France sounded the alarm, and we should listen. Obama wants to lead from behind, and France is showing how that’s done, maybe.

        Personally, I don’t think Kerry is a leader. He follows Obama. The question is what will Obama allow Kerry to do next? It’s all about Obama and AIPAC. Everyone else is secondary.

  8. talknic
    November 11, 2013, 11:40 am

    Netanyahu’s greatest fear? The US dropping the UNSC veto vote and Israel being made to face the legal consequences of 65 years of illegal facts on the ground rather than being able to force the Palestinians into ceding their territory to Israel by so called ‘negotiations’.

  9. American
    November 11, 2013, 11:46 am

    “Why is this important? Because it’s starting to sink in publicly how Israel has been using Iran to divert attention from Israeli’s never ending expansion. Because Netanyahu wants to use Palestine as a negotiating tool: his joker card in the high stakes game of ‘forget about settlement expansion and have another Middle East war.’ That’s his idea of linkage.”

    Netanyahu using Palestine as a negotiating tool for Iran or Iran as a tool for Palestine is not anything Israel would ever live up to —-and as craven as US may be on Israel both Kerry and Obama know that..
    Psychopaths dont really ‘negotiate’ period—they pretend to negotiate and play you and lie—they dont compromise or do deals–they want everything they want.
    The “linkage’ concept as put out by the like of the Goldbergs is to make it appear the US is doing the linking of Iran to Palestine to force Israel…instead of Israel trying to hoodoo the US on Palestine over Iran.
    Being optimistic for a change I dont think the US is playing that game, trading Iran for Palestine —appears to me the US is pursuing Iran and Palestine on *seperate* tracks….and THAT is what really has Netnayahu’s head exploding……that he cant sucker the US on a linkage there this time around.

    • Annie Robbins
      November 11, 2013, 1:08 pm

      the US is pursuing Iran and Palestine on *seperate* tracks

      iow, you think it is a coincidence of timing perhaps, that landed kerry on national tv in israel lecturing the public there, the day before he was headed off to geneva for the iran talks?

      and isn’t it interesting the US completely ignores this television interview? and if he had discussed iran extensively instead, the US press would have covered this interview don’t you think? i can’t ignore the timing. i do think obama’s priority is a palestinian state, over and above anything having to do with iran.

      • American
        November 11, 2013, 2:33 pm

        annie…

        I dont know about ‘timing’……I am just of the impression that Obama/Kerry have *simplified* their stragety, are pushing the US goals and they arent going to waste time and play trade off games with Isr because they know thats never worked in the past.

        Obama may want an end to I/P to be his crowning acheivement but
        I dont think I/P necessarily comes ahead of preventing any major turmoil that the Iran issue is stirring. I also dont think he’s going to give Isr an attack on Iran for Palestine and it is obvious that is the ‘only thing’ Isr would settle for. Attacking Iran is not going to be an option the American public would stand for at this time. And if Isr thought they could suceed in attacking Iran without US military involvement they would have already done it.
        Looks like to me if Kerry/US is playing any game with Isr this time around it’s one of ‘chicken’.
        I think they are treating Isr, Saudi and all the other worms in the can as ‘background noise’ they will occasionally pay lip service to while they plow ahead to the US end goals this time.
        Maybe I am wrong and giving them too much credit, but this time is gradually looking different from the past efforts.
        Course every time I become hopeful the US has smartened up on Isr I have to eat my words…so we will see.

      • Annie Robbins
        November 11, 2013, 3:08 pm

        I don’t think I/P necessarily comes ahead of preventing any major turmoil that the Iran issue is stirring.

        what do you mean by ” major turmoil that the Iran issue ”

        the only major turmoil i can think of is an attack on iran. you already said “if Isr thought they could suceed in attacking Iran without US military involvement they would have already done it.” and i don’t think the US will attack iran. and i really do not think iran will initiate an attack. so what ‘turmoil’ might you be discussing?

        iran getting nuclear energy? iran getting the bomb? AEI’s pletka already said link to mondoweiss.net “The biggest problem for the United States is not Iran getting a nuclear weapon and testing it, it’s Iran getting a nuclear weapon and not using it. so is iran getting a nuke and not using it the ‘turmoil’ we have in store for us? does it mean iran could become the regional bully israel has become with their nukes? it’s hard to imagine iran becoming worse for the region than israel but i suppose it could happen.

      • American
        November 11, 2013, 4:04 pm

        “what do you mean by ” major turmoil that the Iran issue ”..annie

        I mean there is more in the Iran mix now than just Isr—–we now also have Saudi hijinks to contend with and there is more than one way to start a war than an outright bombing of Iran. Saudi has shown what lengths they will also go to maintain their dominance by formenting the Syria war.

        We need a ‘major powers sanctioned deal’ with Iran in hand.
        Then if and/or as long as Iran lives up to it— it will be a game changer for how much Saudi or Isr can get away with in their shit stirring.
        Neither Isr or Saudi is going to stop going after Iran regardless, so if they try a Syria on Iran and the major powers have a agreement with the present Iran government- and it’s being followed –then the international hammer will fall on the side of the present Iran government – not a regime overthrow by Isr or Saudi.
        That is what I mean by preventing more turmoil.
        Besides which Saudi is currently of no use to us in the I/P problem. They have ditched the Palestines in favor of their royal throne-dom problems and the Arab Springs threats. So we have nothing to lose by cutting their nuts off either.

      • lysias
        November 11, 2013, 4:37 pm

        Why should Iran get a nuclear weapon, particularly if it does not intend to use it? Surely whatever benefit it could get from actually having such a weapon could also be gotten by following the Japanese example, and letting it be known that it could build such a weapon within months.

      • Theo
        November 12, 2013, 11:40 am

        lysias

        Was it not Truman who said: talk softly, but carry a big stick?

        Nuclear weapons are not for use, they are deterrents to any possible attack. Israel may bomb iranian targets now, because Iran cannot match the power of the israeli weapons, however, if Iran has a few nuclear warheads it is a game changer. It takes only 2-3 nuclear missiles and Israel stops being a country, on the other hand Iran is huge, it can take a lot more hits.

        Since Iran did not attack any of its neighbours since three centuries, I trust them, and in my opinion they having a nuclear arsenal will have a positive effect on the ME. Isreal certainly will stopp its wars and settle with the palestinians.

      • EUR1069
        November 12, 2013, 1:17 pm

        Theo, It was Teddy Roosevelt. Truman called Jews “a selfish bunch” & silently gave a thumb down when asked about the long-term future os Israel by one of his aids in 1948.

  10. David Doppler
    November 11, 2013, 11:47 am

    Great post, Annie.

    Now if Mondoweiss was truly effective as a voice in the popular discourse, everyone would be asking, is there linkage between settlements in Palestine and sanctions in Iran? what is the linkage? how are they linked? where does this linkage take us? why are they linked? How is Obama using the linkage, and how is Netanyahu?

    Here’s a link to Netanyahu on Face the Nation yesterday, in which he spoke directly to the US public against the Iran deal, glibly saying that, if Arabs and Israelis are united in opposing this deal, the US and P5+1 should listen (around 4:00)

    link to cbsnews.com

    Norah O’Donnell cautiously asks him, “are you lobbying against this deal?” Of course, to say the least (or words to that effect), comes the reply. I guess suggesting Israel has a lobby is Anti-Semitic until it is then too obvious, it goes without saying. Operative point: don’t talk about it.

    She asks why a slight easing of pressure on Iran can’t be used to initiate a process that leads to a comprehensive deal, and Netanyahu skillfully uses a hole-in-the-tire analogy, once the pressure starts escaping, the direction is perceived in markets as inevitable, countries compete to expand trade, and we end up with a “flat tire.”

    No question about Iranian moderates using enhanced engagement to marginalize their domestic extremists. No question about Netanyahu’s two decades of failed predictions that Iran is within a year or two of achieving a nuclear weapon. No question about Likud/Neocon policies of destroying every regime in the region that is not already a reliable Israeli ally.

    And no question about settlements and linkage to Iran.

    Despite the loss of Steve Jobs, the art and practice of the “reality distortion field” is alive and well.

    • Annie Robbins
      November 11, 2013, 2:39 pm

      Now if Mondoweiss was truly effective as a voice in the popular discourse, everyone would be asking, is there linkage between settlements in Palestine and sanctions in Iran? what is the linkage? how are they linked? where does this linkage take us? why are they linked? How is Obama using the linkage, and how is Netanyahu?

      all i can say is you have to say it over and over before it becomes part of the national discourse. and there’s an amazing amount of pushback against any mention of linkage, as can be demonstrated recently when alterman tried to claim max blumenthal was off course in goliath, and he mocked him. max came back and demonstrated with numerous examples how he was not the only person who had made the same claims. i don’t have the exact quotes but this all came down last month.

      another thing, that one little line that slipped out in the wapo article, which is what set me on the course for this article, it is so rare to ever read anything like this. so rare. and i don’t believe netanyahu would have said that had he not been furious. and that was one of the only indications in all the press that day, that palestine was on the table in that meeting, or even discussed. and the tv interview w/kerry had taken place the night before.

      and another thing that is interesting is the timing of goldberg’s article. friday, same day as the wapo revelation, and i don’t believe anyone could have expected that little piece of news. all the reports were just iran iran iran. and then:

      Netanyahu left “little doubt that the fate of the Palestinian talks is linked to the outcome of negotiations with Iran.”

      and all i can ask is ‘why’? because this has been going on for decades/since israel’s founding. and now we are to believe it’s the outcome of iran that’s going to make the difference? imho, it was almost like a threat.

      anyway, we have to unmask this bs, and if we keep saying it people will start to realize all this screaming about iran is akin to the boy crying wolf all these years, while israel steals palestine. and it’s no different than iraq. as soon as we invaded settlement expansion goes on steroids and it’s hardly mentioned in the press. everythings just about iraq iraq iraq.

      • ToivoS
        November 11, 2013, 4:27 pm

        annie, you might be right about that linkage but I hope not. It would give Israel too much leverage in our negotiations with Iran. That deal should be our focus. If we have learned anything in the last two decades it is that we are powerless to move Israel on the WB issues.

        Netanyahu’s threats on the sidelines are empty. Basically he is saying the Israel will commit suicide if the US comes to an agreement with Iran. If Israel attacked Iran now the military affect would be insignificant but the international reaction would wound Israel deeply. The only threat he has is to mobilize AIPAC against Obama’s administration. That will be damaging but it shouldn’t derail any deal with Iran.

        Of course, we can’t discount that Netanyahu has gone insane but somehow I suspect there are forces inside Israel that will not let him lead the country over a cliff.

      • lysias
        November 11, 2013, 4:40 pm

        I imagine Bibi’s hope is that, if Israel once goes to war, the influence she has over politicians, especially in Congress, can force the U.S. to come to her rescue.

        Irresponsible, no doubt, but I’m not sure if it’s insane.

        Junior partner Austria had Germany in such a dilemma in 1914: either support Austria’s irresponsible actions, or lose Germany’s sole major ally.

  11. NickJOCW
    November 11, 2013, 11:54 am

    I’ve just been watching Alon Liel interviewed over on RT where he identified a current trade off between Netanyahu holding back from an attack on Iran in exchange for the US not pushing him on settlements. It may well be so but it is surely a tactic rather a strategy, not least for the time scale reasons Annie identifies. Liel also confessed he was at a loss to understand what Netanyahu really seeks, and it set me wondering the same thing. It occurred to me that it could be as simple as his legacy, that he wants above all else to secure and hold the West Bank and the Golan Heights in such a way that even if they ever are released back to their former occupiers it won’t be on his watch. That’s just speculation, of course, but quite a lot would fall into place were it so.

  12. W.Jones
    November 11, 2013, 11:56 am

    You are a good writer, Annie.

  13. Mike_Konrad
    November 11, 2013, 1:05 pm

    Netanyahu nearly had a breakdown the other day, when he heard about Obama and Iran. The video of Netanyahu shows a man seething with rage and desperation.

    BTW: I think Obama was dead wrong to ease sanctions.

    A wounded animal (I do not use the term perjoratively) is the most dangerous. Israel feels mortally threatened. It will get desperate. THIS IS NOT GOOD. So do not gloat.

    Israel will attack Iran alone. World War III may start over it.

    Israel is not going to stop settling Judea and Samaria. They see Judea and Samaria as their ancient homeland. They are not going to tolerate Iran.

    Obama should have kept the sanctions up.

    What should have been done was Obama should have cut a deal whereby the US participates in a joint military action against Iran in return for civil rights concessions. More permits, stop with demolitions.

    Israel will not concede Judea and Samaria. Israel will attack Iran.

    Obama’s actions were very unwise.

    What if Israel attacks Iran, and pulls it off without US help, like it did with the Osiris reactor in Iraq in 1981?

    What if Netanyahu tells Obama, we are going to strategically nuke Tehran, and if Russia gets upset, we will nuke Moscow?

    This is how Golda Meir got Nixon to expedite aid in 1973.

    Get it through your head, the Israelis will NOT back down.

    I did not say this is always right. I am saying it is a fact; and it has to inform all decsions.

    • Annie Robbins
      November 11, 2013, 2:46 pm

      Israel will attack Iran alone. World War III may start over it.

      World War III would start if the US attacked iran and israel would have no problem with that. if israel is going to attack iran, let them do it alone and pay the consequences alone.

      israel and their cronies can’t be running the world by constant threats of attack. what kind of world is that? 6 world powers are negotiating with iran and the little pipsweak bully israel is over on the wayside threatening war if everybody doesn’t do it their way.

      have you ever raised a toddler? you don’t give in to screaming hissyfits, or those kinds of threats. it’s not responsible. grow up.

    • American
      November 11, 2013, 3:13 pm

      ‘Get it through your head, the Israelis will NOT back down.”’….Mike Konrad ”

      o.k….but you do need to realize that in real world terms Israeli fury is rabid dog not a 6ooo lb elephant.

    • Dutch
      November 11, 2013, 3:14 pm

      Wow, Mike, that’s really something. Does the Israeli public know all this? I mean, they’re in for a huge amount of trouble if this is only half true.

    • eljay
      November 11, 2013, 3:39 pm

      >> Mike_Konrad @ November 11, 2013 at 1:05 pm

      Thanks for highlighting, yet again, how utterly insane are Zionist Jews, their hateful and immoral ideology, and the supremacist “Jewish State”.

    • amigo
      November 11, 2013, 4:20 pm

      “The video of Netanyahu shows a man seething with rage and desperation.”mk

      Your post shows the same about you mike.

      Where are you going to be when this W111 starts???.

      Micro Nesia.

    • lysias
      November 11, 2013, 4:41 pm

      Bismarck said starting a preventive war is like a man committing suicide because he’s afraid of dying. What you suggest is similar.

      • EUR1069
        November 12, 2013, 12:53 pm

        Bismarck was a rare genius. He also warned that Germany should never start a war against Russia. They didn’t listen. Twice.

        Not to mention the first national health care system in the unified Germany.

      • James Canning
        November 12, 2013, 7:29 pm

        Bismarck also recognised the balance of global power was weighted in favor of the British Empire and its likely allies in any major war, due to simple fact Britain defeated France in the wars of the 18th century.

    • ToivoS
      November 11, 2013, 7:24 pm

      Mike stop talking nonsense. You are just hysterical because you can see that the US is about to agree to a peace treaty with Iran. Get used to it. There is nothing Israel can do to stop that. They are not going to attack Iran. They are not going to start WWIII. Nor will they drive the remaining Palestinians out of historic Palestine.

      For Israel to carry out any of those threats would result in an international reaction that the Jewish Israeli state could not survive. Just calm down. You can survive but you will have to grant the Palestinians their state.

  14. bijou
    November 11, 2013, 1:14 pm

    My reading on what Netanyahu seeks is that he seeks more time to consolidate the greatest amount of land possible as a Jewish state without any possibility of compromise for another national entity to arise. And the more chaos he can wreak on Israel’s regional rivals, the better. War with Iran is a smokescreen for gobbling Palestine on Israel’s sole terms and continuing with the ethnic cleansing project of Palestinians. For Israel it is a race against time because demography in historical Palestine is really not in their favor. If a major regional war broke out with threat of nuclear attack and it could provide cover for actual mass expulsions, that would suit Netanyahu more than fine.

    • Annie Robbins
      November 11, 2013, 2:36 pm

      exactly bijou, i agree completely.

    • Citizen
      November 11, 2013, 6:23 pm

      @ bijou
      I agree.

    • Walid
      November 12, 2013, 2:42 pm

      “If a major regional war broke out with threat of nuclear attack and it could provide cover for actual mass expulsions, that would suit Netanyahu more than fine.” (bijou)

      In support of bijou’s above statement, not to forget Natanyahu’s in 1989 when he was Deputy Foreign Minister; he doesn’t appear to have given up on that sick dream:

      “Israel should have taken advantage of the suppression of the demonstrations in China [Tiananmen Square], when the world’s attention was focussed on what was happening in that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the Territories. However, to my regret, they did not support that policy that I proposed, and which I still propose should be implemented.”

  15. sandhillexit
    November 11, 2013, 1:15 pm

    This weekend was historic. The U.S. Foreign Minister talked directly to his Iranian counterpart. It is past time. It’s been 34 years since the hostage crisis. Persia is an old culture, with a long history of effective governance. Seize the opportunity, it will be as significant as the thaw with China. It is important to keep a clear eye on events, because the fight in Washington is soon to turn nasty and personal. The single most constructive thing that could happen in the global community would be to bring the populations of Egypt (81 mm), Iraq (35 mm) and Iran (79 mm) back into the global economy. We need these consumers, and so does the EU/Japan/China. But Saudi Arabia has an enormous problem in its oil-rich Shiite Eastern province. Firing Shiite employees at Aramco will not eliminate the anger. American boys should not be policing this hatred, it’s not our fight. Wahhabi-ism has no attractions for us. We will buy oil from whoever pumps it. That’s it.

    • Bumblebye
      November 12, 2013, 12:52 pm

      One of the US talking heads on the radio last week claimed that since *the talk* there had been 7 hours of direct talks with Iran, which was way more than there had been during the whole of the previous 34 years!

      • sandhillexit
        November 13, 2013, 12:32 am

        Yes, and there is business to be done. Not charity, business. Like Germany, like Japan, like Vietnam, like Russia. How much more effective is business than warfare, at creating a world we want to live in. These guys are good at trade, smart and educated. The kind of ally we need in that particular neighborhood. So overdue.

  16. casaananda
    November 11, 2013, 1:37 pm

    All the US has to do is NORMALIZE relations equally between Iran and Israel. Then we see Netanyahu do down as he must.

  17. broadside
    November 11, 2013, 2:12 pm

    You write: “But this competing narrative has been absent for the most part from all mainstream reports.”

    A lot’s been missing. The mention of law, for example. Just like the legality of Jewish settlements is a non-issue in that particular discussion, the media, for all the current talk and hype about Iran’s supposed nuclear intentions, consistently fails to mention Iran’s right to nuclear energy under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which of course Israel hasn’t signed. The implication w both topics is that while Israelis might be better neighbors, they’re not doing anything that’s actually ILLEGAL, right? Wrong. malvernthenovel.com

    • chet
      November 11, 2013, 3:27 pm

      On the silence of the MSM re Iran’s NPT rights –

      From today’s NYT:

      “GENEVA — As Secretary of State John Kerry and foreign ministers from other world powers sought to work out an interim agreement to constrain Iran’s nuclear program, the Iranian government’s insistence on formal recognition of its “right” to enrich uranium emerged as a major obstacle, diplomats said Sunday.”

      ““The United States does not believe there is an inherent right to enrichment, and we have said that repeatedly to Iran,” a senior administration official said before the latest round of talks in Geneva.”

      link to nytimes.com

      There is not the merest mention of the NPT in this article supposedly outlining the issues separating the parties.

  18. David Doppler
    November 11, 2013, 2:35 pm

    Further linkage: If interim deal is signed with Iran, Israel will attack Iran.

    link to timesofisrael.com

    • Annie Robbins
      November 11, 2013, 2:44 pm

      yeah, that will be the threat. but i think israel, via goldberg, already said something similar in 2010 to get the US to attack. so the US didn’t attack and neither did israel.

    • Justpassingby
      November 11, 2013, 3:09 pm

      Nonsense. Israel just threat west with that to get them to attack Iran themselves.

    • EUR1069
      November 12, 2013, 12:20 pm

      “If interim deal is signed with Iran, Israel will attack Iran.”

      I wonder. This is just in:

      A former Israeli official has admitted that a possible nuclear agreement between Iran and the United States would be disappointing for Israel as Tel Aviv’s plans for unilateral strike against Iran would be diminished.

      “Practically speaking, [a deal] shuts the [Israeli military] option down,” former National Security Advisor Maj. Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland told Israeli media.

      “It doesn’t matter what we think about the deal. Israel won’t be able to do a thing,” he added.

      Eiland said acting against the agreement between Iran and six major powers would make Israel as the world’s menace.

      Iran and the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany ended the latest nuclear talks in Geneva without a deal. But the two sides planned to meet again on November 20.

      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is angry about the talks and denounced a possible agreement with Iran as a “historic blunder.”

      Netanyahu said the deal would not be a “good deal” for Israel and the United States.

      However, the participating nations in the negotiations said progress was made and they narrowed their differences over the weekend.

      British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the talks have made “very good progress” and a nuclear deal with Tehran could be reached.

      In an interview with Press TV on Sunday, political analyst Ralph Schoenman said not reaching a nuclear deal during the Geneva talks reflects “the determination on the part of the Israelis and the Saudis, not only to prevent such an agreement, but it takes even military action against Iran in order to completely destroy it.”

  19. Hostage
    November 11, 2013, 3:14 pm

    The fact is that in the past, the Palestinians have obtained letters of assurance from the US government regarding the terms of reference for peace conferences and the road map, in exchange for their agreement to negotiate with the Israelis, e.g. link to palestine-studies.org

    The Palestine Papers revealed that George Mitchell and Obama had refused to honor the US imposed terms of reference contained in the Quartet Road map, which were based upon the legal conclusions of the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee Report (the “Mitchell Report”). You really can’t ask the Palestinians to undertake confidence building measures, while you pull the rug from under their feet.

    After the UNESCO and General Assembly vote the Quartet gave Netanyahu 90 days to furnish a map of the proposed borders. So it’s only the United States which is still insisting on another 9 month window for empty talks. You can bet that Abbas got that hiatus period in writing and that the US is probably obliged to stay out of Palestinian treaty accessions, including attempts to become a party to the UN Charter and the Rome Statute. If it plays out that way, it would be the beginning of the end for the special relationship.

    • Annie Robbins
      November 11, 2013, 11:00 pm

      So it’s only the United States which is still insisting on another 9 month window for empty talks. You can bet that Abbas got that hiatus period in writing and that the US is probably obliged to stay out of Palestinian treaty accessions, including attempts to become a party to the UN Charter and the Rome Statute. If it plays out that way, it would be the beginning of the end for the special relationship.

      hostage, i assumed abbas/palestinians got some agreement in return for the extra nine months. i think everyone is completely exasperated with waiting for the palestinians to go back to the UN and get on with the show. when you say “if it plays out that way, it would be the beginning of the end for the special relationship.”

      which relationship are you referencing?

      • Hostage
        November 12, 2013, 12:09 am

        when you say “if it plays out that way, it would be the beginning of the end for the special relationship.”

        which relationship are you referencing?

        The one where the US uses its veto at the behest of Israel to prevent the international community from affording Palestine the same rights and privileges as any other state.

        The US didn’t tell Israel that it could only achieve statehood through negotiations. There are a number of treaties and treaty bodies beside the ICC and Rome Statute, like the WIPO, UN or Geneva Conventions on the Law of the Seas, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, the New York Convention on foreign arbital awards, and the WTO which can prescribe resolution procedures and treaty bodies that exist to settle disputes over territory, airspace, trade, & etc. peacefully and impose solutions.

      • Annie Robbins
        November 12, 2013, 10:07 am

        hostage, towards the end of my penultimate paragraph in the article, when i ask “Then what happens? Do we see the Palestinians at the UN and the International Criminal Court, without pushback from US…” i was wondering if we were in for a showdown coming up, and what it would look like.

      • Hostage
        November 12, 2013, 11:06 am

        “Then what happens? Do we see the Palestinians at the UN and the International Criminal Court, without pushback from US…”

        I think that is a likely possibility. The Palestinians have been pushing for a map of the proposed borders from Israel and accountability for failure to produce one during the negotiations.

        The EU have painted the US into a corner, by announcing on several occasions that no changes to the 1967 armistice lines will be accepted without Palestinian consent. Any provisional borders will do under the terms of the Road Map and the applicable international law. A decision to either use the 67 lines or some other negotiated boundary is the only other unfulfilled item on the Phase II agenda of the Road map for the Palestinians. That’s what’s holding-up the black letter Quartet obligation to promote recognition and UN membership for the Palestinian State. That’s supposed to happen prior to any Phase III negotiations on the so-called “final status issues”.

        When this hiatus is over, I don’t think the US will be in the position veto the UN membership application based on the 67 lines without violating its own resolution 1515 obligations and triggering another ICJ case on the question of whether or not membership is merely a “procedural matter”. If it is, then it shouldn’t be subject to a veto from the P5 in the first place. See Article 27 of the Charter on voting in the Security Council. link to yale.edu

        There have also been General Assembly resolutions which say that the option of a Palestinian state is not subject to any veto or the peace process. The ICJ already ruled that every state has a legal interest in removing any impediment to the exercise of that option. Instead, we see Israel and the US creating new impediments, like the crap about recognizing Israel as the State of the Jewish people. So a lot of these issues have come to a head and are ripe for Court cases, whether or not the US and Israel approve.

  20. seafoid
    November 11, 2013, 3:40 pm

    Netanyahu looks really jaded in the top photo. I wouldn’t normally wish a nervous breakdown on anyone but I’ll make an exception for him.

    • Justpassingby
      November 11, 2013, 4:01 pm

      It could happen (sharon), I wouldnt weep.

      • seafoid
        November 12, 2013, 3:33 am

        Begin had a breakdown, Rabin was murdered, Sharon is a vegetable.

        It is a high risk job, being a sociopath for Zionism.

    • ziusudra
      November 12, 2013, 4:36 am

      Greetings seafoid,
      …. N. looks really jaded in the top photo….
      He does seem to withering at the neck having expired all those ox paddies over the yrs. He may be fading quicker than we know? His Dorian Grey Syndrome is manifesting beautifully. Exit the Golem. Long live the Avi Lieberman Golem.
      ziusudra

  21. James Canning
    November 11, 2013, 4:40 pm

    On Israeli TV, John Kerry asked if Israel wanted another intifada. I think Netanyahu may well wish for round three.

  22. James Canning
    November 11, 2013, 4:42 pm

    Regarding “linkage”, the US in my view should tell Iran that a deal with P5+1 will lead directly to American pressure on Israel to get out of the West Bank.

  23. ToivoS
    November 11, 2013, 6:11 pm

    Kerry’s statement in the UAE that Iran walked away from the negotiations is not as bad as it first appeared. link to rt.com has the story in some detail. He did not deny that the French provoked the crises. What the French did was insist on new language in the proposal that the US had worked out in advance with the Iranians. This new language was not acceptable so they returned to Tehran for consultations. Kerry’s statement was factually correct, but by omission a diplomatic nuance or what regular folks consider a lie.

    In any case the language Kerry used leaves open the process that resulted in the tentative agreement in the first place. Iran might be miffed but it is not likely that they will stiffen there demands, which basically were met informally. The danger is that this will give Israel, Republicans and the lobby to create a political firestorm that forces the US to accept all of France’s demands.

  24. yonah fredman
    November 12, 2013, 12:40 am

    I may be wrong, but I think that the US (and France) and the other countries involved in negotiations with Iran will reach a deal with Iran, certainly a short term deal with Iran, within the next two months.

    Regarding Israel-Palestine negotiations: No one is expecting these to yield solid results. I don’t think that sufficient pressure can be brought on Israel before the elections of 2014, so I don’t really think that these negotiations will yield anything before then. I realize that this differs from the time schedule offered by Kerry.

    Regarding the role the I/P conflict and the resolution thereof will have on the rest of the Middle East: Jeffrey Goldberg is right that the conflict is not at the base of all the problems of the Middle East. But I think that it is a major factor in the hatred that is felt towards the US in much of the Middle East. Thus a resolution (not that I expect one at least before Nov. 2014 and dubious even thereafter) would help the US in its “winning minds and hearts” in the region, but it won’t win minds and hearts to stop the tensions that Goldberg mentions: Iran (Shiites) versus the Sunnis, Islam versus modernity, educational and economic backwardness, drought and water supply problems.

    • Walid
      November 12, 2013, 1:39 am

      “…tensions that Goldberg mentions: Iran (Shiites) versus the Sunnis, Islam versus modernity, educational and economic backwardness, drought and water supply problems.” (Yonah, Goldberg, or a combination of the two)

      You’re back at it, Yonah, planting your Zionistic Goldberg cluster bombs all over the countryside in the same way you planted the 2 stink bombs about Assad and Morsi yesterday to symbolize evil incarnated:

      It’s not Iran Shiites versus the Sunnis, it’s the Sunnis that are against the Shiites that they consider as apostates and heretics that should be wiped from the face of the earth.

      It’s not Islam that’s against modernity, but modernity that is against Islam that is giving rise to Islamic sicko fundamentalism that would have it regress into the safety of the backward Middle Ages.

      It’s not the educational and economic backwardness that’s at the cause of drought and water supply problems, it’s the evil that is Israel that is stealing the region’s water that’s creating localised drought for the people it’s stealing the water from and it’s the evil of Israel that’s preventing the Palestinian people for advancing academically to improve themselves economically.

      • ziusudra
        November 12, 2013, 4:55 am

        Greetings Walid,
        Mahaba Salam,
        Habibi, i would really appreciate if you could elaborate on the diff. across the Sunni/Shite strife since Califa Ali’s demise by the 5th
        Califa Muawiya in 661AD of the Umayyaden dynasty.
        Why should there be a perpetual struggle betw. both because
        Muawiya politically hijacked Islam?
        Shocran, Mash’Salam
        ziusudra

      • Walid
        November 12, 2013, 10:01 am

        Greetings ziusudra, you have to go back a bit earlier to the terminology and the history of the Prophet’s succession. In a nutshell Shiism was to Sunnism what Protestantism was to Catholicism. The word Shiism is derived from Shia or more completely, from “Shia’t-Ali “that means “followers of Ali”. The word Sunni is derived from the word “Sunnah” or more completely, “Ahl as-Sunnah” meaning “people of the tradition” of the Prophet or the orthodoxy. Sunnis comprise 80% of all Muslims and the Shia comprised of the remaining 20% is made up of several sub-sects, such as the Druze, the Alawites, the Fatimid, the Twelvers, Ismailis, Zaidis and other protestants.

        When the Prophet died he had left word that he should be succeeded by the one closest to him and it’s with these vague instructions that the political problems started. Some interpreted “closest” to mean his relative Ali, his cousin that was also his son-in-law. Others interpreted “closest” to mean the person that was standing closest to the Prophet when he uttered these words, and this was Abu Bakr, the Prophet’s father-in-law. A council of relatives and followers preferred Abu Bakr to be the first Caliph. That was the early beginning of the disagreement but Ali and his followers went along to keep the Muslims united. Caliph Abu Bakr ruled for 27 months when he suddenly fell ill and died, probably of old age, but he had willed that Umar, another faithful follower of the Prophet would replace him as the second Caliph. Caliph Umar ruled for 10 years until he was assassinated by Persians (that should ring a bell). The third Caliph Othman was also killed after a 12-year reign and it was then that the Muslims having run out of candidates decided to finally call in Ali to become the fifth Caliph. Ali ruled for 6 years when he too was assassinated in 661, as you said.

        Muawiyah, a faithful soldier under the Prophet and his successors had been named governor of the province of Syria (that should ring a second bell). After the death of Ali, Muawiyah declared himself the Caliph and started a dynasty of his own, the Umayyad operating out of Damascus.

        Meanwhile back in the capital at Kufa, Ali’s eldest son Hassan, was named leader but after a few military skirmishes against the usurper Muawiyah, Hassan gave up the fight and accepted Muawiyah as the Caliph on conditions that there would be peace and justice for all Muslims and that upon the death of Muawiyah, the Caliphate would be returned to Ali’s family. Hassan then retired to Medina where he was killed by his former soldiers (the Kharajites) disappointed in him because he had abandoned the fight.

        Ali’s youngest son, Hussein, was then chosen to replace Hassan to continue the battle to regain the Caliphate from the Umayyads in Syria. By then, Muawiyah had died and was succeeded by his son Yazid, contrary to the agreement that Ali’s son would inherit the Caliphate. The followers of Hussein resolved to mobilize and attack Yazid’s forces. They called on Hussein to come to Kerbala to lead them, which he did along with 72 members of his family and followers, but Yazid’s forces were waiting for them in an ambush and killed Hussein and most of those with him, the rest taken as prisoners to Damascus. The day the massacre happened was on Ashura, the 10th day of the month of Muharram and it became the most solemn day in the Shia calendar. BTW, we are in the Ashura commemoration 10-day period of fasting, mourning, prayer and introspection now. The tenth of Ashura is in a couple of days on Thursday when mostly all Shias all dressed in black will join in a mournful procession in memory of Hussein and the treachery against him by the Sunna forces at Kerbala in today’s Iraq. It was from that day that the split between Shia’t Ali and Islam’s orthodox Sunna became permanent. That’s it for the historic part. Ashura by the way is also a Sunni feast celebrated in parts of Pakistan and elsewhere to commemorate Moses’ deliverance of the Jews from Egypt’s slavery. In Islam’s early days, this feast was picked up from the Jews’ observance of the 10 days of Yom Kippur; I think it was called “Asor”. It was by coincidence that the massacre of Hussein happened on that day, and it became a solemn day for the Shia. In time, the Sunni celebration of what was really a Jewish feast became optional, the Muslims having instituted instead a full month of fasting called Ramadan.

        As to the religious differences between the Shia and the Sunni, the orthodox Sunni go by the literal interpretation of the Quran with no latitude whatever. The Shia go by the interpretation of the Quran as provided by their Imam that is the highest authority on interpretation. The Shia therefore ended up delving very deeply into the esoteric meanings behind everything written in the Quran and for this, the Sunni consider them heretics and apostates. Historic problems with the Persians and the Syrians don’t help either. Hope this short explanation helped a bit.

      • Taxi
        November 12, 2013, 10:57 am

        Walid,

        Thank you. That is a most clear and succinct review of the history of islam.

        Arab history since the death of the prophet Mohamad, religious history, that is, seems to all be political history.

      • Annie Robbins
        November 12, 2013, 1:16 pm

        that’s a keeper of an explanation walid, thanks.

      • RoHa
        November 12, 2013, 6:54 pm

        Being Caliph was a dangerous job.

        Sunni interpret the Qu’ran in the light of several large collections of Hadith (traditions of the sayings and acts of Muhammad).

        Shia reject all the Sunni collections of Hadith, and use different collections.

        This leads to differing theologies, practices, and legal systems.

      • Walid
        November 13, 2013, 12:58 am

        “Being Caliph was a dangerous job.”

        It sure was, Roha. You’re right about the Hadiths being more or less legitimized interpretations of their own of the Quran and of the sayings and actions of the Prophet by the Sunni, so that doesn’t make them much different from the interpretations of the Shia Imams.

      • gamal
        November 13, 2013, 7:28 pm

        cool Walid, bit broadbrush and do I detect a little Shia sectarianism here, Sunni’s are a terrible shower but your version ignores the context and the forces at play in the new state, really Abu Bakr became Caliph because he was standing next to Muhammad, and some thought that significant? not credible when you think about it, even though I know people do talk about it in this jejune fashion. All the material is available, much in English too.

        “The new State had to learn to govern itself without the guidance of the Prophet Muhammad on whom they had come to rely. Umar was unable to believe that the Prophet was dead, but Abu Bakr quoted a verse of the Quran (3.144″ Muhammad is no more than an apostle; the apostles have already passed away before him; if then he dies or is killed will you turn back upon your heels?”) to the effect that, “Whoever worships Muhammad, let them know Muhammad has died; But whoever worships God let them know that God is alive and does not die”.

        With these words Islam entered into its post-prophetic phase.
        After listening to Abu Bakr, the Muslims dispersed and rumours spread that some of the Ansar (Helpers, those who became associated with Islam after the Hejira) were gathering around Sa’d ibn Ubadah, and wanted to elect him as their leader. Abu Bakr and a deputation of the Muhajirun (Emigrants, the core community of the Meccan period who fled that city with the Prophet ) intervened and Abu Bakr spoke to the assembly. He reminded the Ansaris that Islam had spread throughout Arabia and that the Arabs as a whole would not accept a leader from any other source than the Prophet’s tribe, the Quraysh. After some debate, Abu Bakr offered them Umar ibni al-Kattab or another Qurayshi, but Umar nominated Abu Bakr. He was, after all, the first adult male convert to Islam and had been a close friend of the Prophet Muhammad. No one was inclined to claim precedence over Abu Bakr so he was chosen as the first Caliph, or ‘Successor of the Messenger’.”
        From Philips Guide to World Religion, By Faris Badawi, I believe the author in typical Sunni fashion looks for a material basis for developments and doesnt even mention Ghadir Khom etc,

        The association of Shi’ism with the Persian speaking world is relatively recent and derives from the state building and anti-Ottoman activities of their Azeri erstwhile rulers, who recruited scholars from the Arab Shia, many of them Lebanese or southern Iraqi Arab Shia, its all in the wiki link.

        link to en.wikipedia.org

        “The Shia therefore ended up delving very deeply into the esoteric meanings behind everything written in the Quran and for this, the Sunni consider them heretics and apostates”
        which is weird when you look at the works of the most revered Sunni scholar
        Al Ghazzali, have you read the “Inner dimension of ritual” or the great classic “Revivification of the Religious Sciences” one of the key aspects of the coterie of Sunni anti-Shi’ites is their rejection of spiritual experience tout court, in other words they no less reject traditional Sunnism than Shi’ism, they need a new name, anyway since the time of Talabi (12th century), Sufism has become institutionalized or should that be thoroughly integrated in to Sunni Tafsir, so I am puzzled by the Sunnism as literalism assertion, that Sunnis scholars are largely unimaginative and doctrinaire nowadays no one can dispute, but it aint Sunnism that causes them to be thus rather its just the grim work of imbecilic religious functionaries in stressed societies and the malevolent governments for whom most of them work. Finally in case you missed it Ashley Smith has written an interesting article on the resurgence of the first Fitna, worth recalling that the 2nd was occasioned by Muawiya’s nomination of Yezid, which pissed everybody off and led to years of war, involving every flavour of Muslim on the anti-Umayya side in the struggle.

        The current fundamental difference between Sunni and Shia can be summarized briefly, all Sunnis used to be Sufis also, since the emergence of a de-Sufied Sunnism, that hardly qualifies as religion but as a politics or set of social mores is pretty repressive, which is reflected in what you wrote, it is a truncated ideology that were it not so utterly soaked in blood and sunk in infamy would be a cause for mirth, the Shia, whatever their failings take “spirituality” quite seriously and, since they are represented by sophisticated Iranians and Levantines, they can never achieve the haughty stupidity, gross inhumanity and ill mannered histrionics of their opponents in the Gulf.

        link to counterpunch.org

      • gamal
        November 13, 2013, 7:51 pm

        i meant to post a link to a piece about sunni/shia polemics and their tangled history.
        link to iranicaonline.org

      • Taxi
        November 13, 2013, 11:36 pm

        gamal,
        Thanks for your sunni/shia info.

        Just so you know, Walid is a sunni and his post imho does not include “a little Shia sectarianism” whatsoever.

      • Walid
        November 14, 2013, 1:19 am

        Hi, gamal and Taxi, it was broadbrush, but not just a bit but a lot. It was to answer ziusudra’s question about the difference between the two and where it was coming from. Ziusudra had a small notion and a general time frame of when it happened and I simply tried to sharpen them with as few onerous details as possible. I took the opportunity to put in a few words about Ashura since we were past the midpoint of the 10 days that are so solemn for the Shia and slightly less for the Suni; today is the tenth of Muharram, Ashura.

        If you or others wish to see an Ashura procession, you can get a glimpse of it that’s getting ready to start from the link below. The people are now gathering while prayers are being recited. The procession to the sound of mournful music and prayers by over a million will start from 4 different locations and converge into one main stream in about 3 hours when it will end. People are apprehensive of the terrorists threats that had been received. The annual procession in Kerbala, Irak has been marked by terrorist bombs since the occupation started.

        For the Lebanese procession:
        link to almanar.com.lb

      • Bandolero
        November 14, 2013, 1:39 am

        Walid

        What’s wrong with Ashura and Kerbala?

      • gamal
        November 14, 2013, 2:16 am

        yes i guessed, as a Sunni I recognize everything he says, pro-Shia sectarianism is a very Sunni characteristic, I am a little that way myself, as is everyone I know.

        When I was kid in Asia my Mother was deputed to give a talk to a local Shia women’s group, She chose as her subject the glorious Aisha, she delivered it to an appreciative audience who fed us chatted and congratulated her fulsomely for her wonderful speech.
        We returned to the office where we sat with a senior Sunni Alim who asked her about her talk, to that Shia womens groups when she told him he laughed till the tears rolled down his face, once he realized she was not joking. So ignorant were we as Sunni’s we didnt realize, oh yeah of course, perhaps the Shia don’t revere Aisha as we do, they never say, oh yeah because of that stuff she did, well they never complained, or even let her know of her faux pas.

        Shi’ism has always been an avenue of Sunni revolt, they are interpretively deeply interlinked, all Shia tafsir is based on Sunni works, most of my beneficial Islamic experience has been with Shi’i mainly the Al-Khoie family and that weirdest of beasts Shia sufis of the Nimatullahi persuasion, and yet the two ‘opposing’ ideologies can be set to war, wonders will never cease and the native stupidity and bad faith of much of Sunnism will never be surpassed.

        it may coincidental that the only wing of “Islamic World” currently putting a brake on the insane destructiveness of the Imperium are Shi’i, , the only people whose blood lust exceeds even that of the United States, Europe and Israel are undoubtedly those warriors of Sunni exclusivity in the Gulf in Egypt wherever you find them.

        All of our stories have devolved in to nonsense, happily I believe a rethink is on the cards, Islam will be reformed by engineers, physicists and social theorists, I meant be afraid, I am.

      • Walid
        November 14, 2013, 3:45 am

        “pro-Shia sectarianism is a very Sunni characteristic, ”

        That’s news to me, gamal, unless that was a typo meant to be “anti-Shia” rather than “pro-Shia”. As a general rule, Sunnis were brought up in the mentality that they were to walk on the sidewalk on one side of the street with the Shia walking on the other, not on the sidewalk but in the rain gutter. But this is all slowly changing now with the younger generations that are growing up with the proper respect for each other, except of course in those kingdoms and emirates that would take everyone, Sunnis and Shia (subject to their recanting, of course) alike back to live in the salafist/purity ways of the days of the Prophet 1400 years ago.

        You are right about the Shia today putting on the brakes. It was evident in the year 2000 when Israel that had been occupying 20% of Lebanon for 20 years was kicked out and the conquering Shia had given the order that not a hand was to be laid on the Muslims and Christians that had been collaborating with Israel during the occupation, and not a single person was harmed. It again became evident in 2006 with Israel’s assault on Hizbullah while Sunnis from inside and outside the country were pressuring Israel that was ready to quit after 6 days to keep going on with the war and Hizbullah let that one go unanswered to keep peace in the country.

        The Shia’s docility was again seen during the so called Arab Springs everywhere that were extremely violent in the Sunni countries except for the one in Bahrain where the majority of the population is Shia and the uprisings that are still ongoing are very peaceful, in spite of the protestors being met with extreme violence by the government and its GCC allies’ military forces.

      • Annie Robbins
        November 14, 2013, 3:54 am

        thanks for the link walid, watching nasrallah now

      • gamal
        November 14, 2013, 4:49 am

        “That’s news to me, gamal,”, it all depends on milieu, certainly since ’79 and the growth of Southern Lebanese Shia resistance they are often spoken of with admiration by both scholars and ordinary Sunni’s who are more concerned with issues of governance and legitimacy than denunciations of Mutu’a etc. But I of course realize that there is certainly anti-Shia prejudice, Lebanon is special case however, which Iraq and Syria are coming to resemble under the gentle hand of Washington and Riyadh, rather than Paris.

        I think i grew up hardly aware of Shiism even though a good few of our neighbours were Shi’i, I do recall a Sunni distaste for the extravagance of Shia rituals especially Ashura, I recall one scholar denouncing them as ‘Hindu’s’ a comment that to be fair met with universal derision, but sure its just a big world, nothing is ever 100%, I cant think of a single prominent Sunni scholar of my aquaintance who didn’t maintain all the great classics of Shi’ism, in their libraries, at the popular and political levels there may well be conflict nowadays, but the roots of these conflicts have always been political. It is Shi’ism’s zeal to confront injustice and foreign domination that has won it the admiration of many in the third world not just the Arabs or Sunni’s.

        but I have a very particular personal experience largely in the British Muslim environment, I dont doubt that your view is influenced by yours, Sunnism is very chaotic, far be it from me to imply that we are not often reprehensibly narrow minded, self righteous and prejudiced, rather I think we have become very much so, we are a petri dish of social, religious and political pathogens right now, it feels like “The age of deformity”, as Aswany wrote, I am in no position to deny your experience, just saying many Sunni’s have profound Shi’i sympathies in my experience, i have met very few of the worlds Arabs and am no expert.

      • Walid
        November 14, 2013, 5:00 am

        Bandolero, Kerbala in Iraq is where the massacre of the Prophet’s grandson, Hussein and his 70 companions by the Sunni coming out of Syria took place, which caused the permanent shism between the Shia and the Sunni about 1400 years ago. It’s been the main site of pilgrimage for Shia especially at Ashura and that’s where and when many are killed each year by suicide bombers, allegedly by Sunni al-Qayda terrorist that some say are sponsored by Sunni kingdoms, while others say by Americans to keep the pot boiling. Nobody knows for sure.

      • Walid
        November 14, 2013, 5:17 am

        “thanks for the link walid, watching nasrallah now”

        He also made a rare live appearance last night in an auditorium that held about 10,000. His personal bodyguard that was behind him both times looked spooked at what could happen while Nasrallah himself was relaxed and laughing occasionally. Last night’s talk ended by his instructions to all Shia to not be be afraid of participating in the Ashura procession in spite of the threats received that the event would be bombed. I guess after having told the people to not mind the danger and show up, he couldn’t not show up himself.

      • Walid
        November 14, 2013, 2:38 pm

        “What’s wrong with Ashura and Kerbala? (Bandolero)

        Bandolero, 6 hours after you asked your question, the Ashura killing in Kerbala happened; from al-Akhbar today:

        “Iraq attacks target Ashura commemorations, killing dozens
        Published Thursday, November 14, 2013

        Updated at 2:50pm: Attacks against Shia worshipers, including a suicide bombing that ripped through a religious procession, killed 41 people in Iraq Thursday despite massive security deployed for one of the holiest days of their faith.

        The bloodshed came as a flood of worshipers, including tens of thousands of foreign pilgrims, thronged the central shrine city of Karbala for the climax of Ashura, braving the repeated attacks by militants that have marred the festival in previous years.

        The suicide bomber, who was disguised in a police uniform, struck in the Diyala province north of Baghdad, killing at least 32 people and wounding 80, security and medical officials said.

        It was the third attack of the day to target worshipers.

        Earlier, coordinated blasts in the town of Hafriyah, south of the capital, killed nine people, while twin bombings in the northern oil city of Kirkuk wounded five.

        Shias from Iraq and around the world mark Ashura, which this year climaxed on Thursday, by setting up procession tents where pilgrims gather and food is distributed to passers-by.

        An estimated two million faithful gathered in Karbala, site of the mausoleum of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, who died in the city at the hands of soldiers of the caliph Yazid in 680 AD.”

        link to english.al-akhbar.com

      • Cliff
        November 14, 2013, 3:10 pm

        so crazy

        it seems like every other day it’s ‘suicide bomber kills [xx] people’ in Iraq.

        was it like this before the American invasion and occupation? what was it like during the 90s?

      • MahaneYehude1
        November 14, 2013, 4:43 pm

        @Walid:

        “In Islam’s early days, this feast was picked up from the Jews’ observance of the 10 days of Yom Kippur; I think it was called “Asor”. ”

        Yes, correct. There is a biblical phrase “Between Kesse to Asor בין כסה לעשור”. The Hebrew New Year Festival (Rosh Hashana – Ras Al-Sana) is also called “Kesse” from the word “cover” since the moon is covered and unseen. It is celebrated in the first day of Tishrei month. The day of Yom-Kippur, day of atonement, is also called “Asor” since it is celebrated in the tenth day of Tishrei month (Asor from the word Eser/Asara, ten in Hebrew, similar to Ashar/Ashara in Arabic). The ten days between both days are called “days of repentance” (עשרת ימי תשובה). They are very important days in the Jewish calendar.

      • Taxi
        November 14, 2013, 11:44 pm

        Actually, Mahane, you and Walid are wrong:

        It’s called Ashura (tenth) because the journey of the prophet’s family took ten days from Basra to Karbala – and some consequential and historic dramas took place in them ten days. Nothing to do with nothing jewish whatsoever.

      • MahaneYehude1
        November 15, 2013, 1:23 am

        @Taxi:

        Thanks for your clarification. In my comment I explained the meaning of Asor in Judaism, not the relation to Ashura. If I am not wrong, the journey of the prophet’s family from Basra to Karbala, is commemorated by the Shias. When Walid wrote about the Asor and Yom-Kippur, I think he mentioned the origin of Ashura among several groups of Sunni in Islam early days. Let’s wait for Walid’s input.

        Any way, a well done summaries by Walid and Gamal that I enjoy reading and learning. thanks.

      • Walid
        November 15, 2013, 4:51 am

        Mahane, you’ll be happy to know that you are right and Taxi is wrong on that one. Ashura also comes from the word meaning ten in Arabic, like the word Asor in Hebrew. It was but one of the Jewish customs picked up by the Muslims. The Prophet was in Medina when he learned of the Jewish observance of the 1o days of fasting and so on preceding the Yom Kippur and decided to adopt it. He called it Ashura and designated it as a commemoration of Moses’ deliverance of the Jews as well as Noah’s from the flood.

        Another Jewish custom picked up was the praying of 3 times each day facing Jerusalem, along with some of the hygiene and dietary ones and the custom of circumcizing male infants. Things went well between the Muslims and the Jews for a while until things sourred because of conflicting commercial interests and the refusal of the Jews to adopt Muhammad as their savior and leader.

        It was then that the Muslims started distancing themselves from the Jewish customs: the direction of the prayers was changed to face Mecca instead of Jerusalem, the number of daily prayers increased from 3 to 5, dietary laws slightly amended like the double stroke of Halal instead of the single stroke of Kosher slaughter, and the commemoration of Ashura/Asor becoming optional rather than compulsory and the instituting instead of a full month of fasting to occur during the Islamic month of Ramadan.

        The massacre of Hussein’s party at Kerbala occurred on the 10th of the month of Muharram (Muharram meaning “forbidden” as it was forbidden to make war during that month), which at the time happened to be Ashura.

      • Taxi
        November 15, 2013, 5:50 am

        Walid, buddy, sorry but you’re utterly wrong on this point. I’ve just witnessed (living on a farmhouse surrounded by shia villages), ten days of marking Ashura – heard many stories about it and been told by many shias that the ten days of commemoration signify the length of the journey it took from Basra to Karbala. Yes, dear, it took their caravan of camels and horses ten days to cross from Basra to Karbala.

        During Ashura, the shias visit their local majlis everyday for ten days in a row; and everyday they re-enact the events of Ashura as it happened: day by chronological day. Simply, they recall the historic event day by day, for ten consecutive days: the length of the journey itself.

        It is pure cosmic coincidence that the jews and shias share the same religious date in this instance. Although islam has adopted some jewish rituals, Ashura is not one of them.

        Moreover, the shias, after the tenth day (the 10th day being the day that the last of Ali’s family were slaughtered and his army defeated), many shias take Ashura further and wear black and mourn for another 40 days.

      • MahaneYehude1
        November 15, 2013, 6:07 am

        @Walid:

        “The Prophet was in Medina when he learned of the Jewish observance of the 1o days of fasting and so on preceding the Yom Kippur and decided to adopt it.”

        Correct, the 10 days between the two holy days in Judaism, Rosh Hashana and Yom-Kippur. Only little correction, please: The ten days are regarded as holy days, “days of repentance”, but the Jews don’t fast in these ten days, only in the last day, Yom Kippur, “day of atonement”.

        “Another Jewish custom picked up was the praying of 3 times each day facing Jerusalem”

        That’s the reason why Jerusalem is regarded as “Ulla Al-Quiblatein” meaning “the first direction”. The word “Quibla” (direction) is similar to the biblical Hebrew word “קבל” (Koval – in front of) which has connection to direction. The word is not in use today in modern Hebrew but Arabs still use it as “Kabel” (in front of, before).

      • Taxi
        November 15, 2013, 6:10 am

        ” Things went well between the Muslims and the Jews for a while until things sourred because of conflicting commercial interests and the refusal of the Jews to adopt Muhammad as their savior and leader.”

        You forgot to add that the Jews of Madina had collaborated with Mohammad’s enemies to assassinate him, and when the plot was discovered, Mohamad went to war with the jews of Madina.

        Also, you weirdly added ‘forced conversion’, which is actually against islam: haram – strictly enforced especially during Mohammad’s life.

        I’ve also been told that the jews of Madina, being well aware of Mohammad’s good reputation, cynically tried to brainwash/convince him that he was the ‘real’ messiah and should therefore publicly announce himself as such, but Mohammad responded by saying that he is NOT the messiah, but the messenger of god.

        And just to add to the Ashura/ten day point in the post above: the battle in Karbala took ten days too.

      • Walid
        November 15, 2013, 7:34 am

        “The word is not in use today in modern Hebrew but Arabs still use it as “Kabel” (in front of, before).”

        Arabs still call the direction of Mecca and more specifically the Ka’aba, the “Quibla” The 10 days in addition to being a sort of 10-day passion period during which they re-live the life and death of Hussein, and the other martyrs that fell at Kerbala, the 10 days are are also for introspection by the Shia.

      • Walid
        November 15, 2013, 9:08 am

        “heard many stories about it and been told by many shias that the ten days of commemoration signify the length of the journey it took from Basra to Karbala.”

        Taxi, you’d find very that some Shia are among ones to know the least about Shia history and some Sunnis, the ones to know the least about Sunni history. You’d surely find the same with Christians and Jews. What they know is what they had been told and more often than not, what they have been told is rooted in folklore. The minute you introduce history into a discussion, religious arguments begin to wobble. There aren’t many people that study religion from a purely historical aspect. Ask your neighbours where the word “ashura” comes from since the word for ten is “ashara” and for “tenth” it’s “a’asher”.

        About the 10-day trip from Basra to Kerbala, history tells it otherwise. Mu’awiya that had usurped the Caliphate from Ali’s eldest son, Hassan died in 680 and his son Yazid took his place. Hussein, the second son of Ali that had always wanted to reclaim the Caliphate, refused to swear allegiance to Yazid, fled Damascus and found refuge in Mecca. Meanwhile, the people of Kufa, mostly all pro-Ali partisans believing the time was ripe to take back the Caliphate, sent messengers to Hussain in Mecca inviting him to lead them in the fight against Yazid’s forces, but the Umayyad governor, Ubayd Allah finding out about the planned insurgency put up roadblocks on all roads from the Hejaz. Hussein was warned about the Umayyad’s trap but insisted on reaching Kufa anyway and was caught in an ambush and died. The Shia of Kufa never showed up as promised to help Hussein.

        The Sunnis regard this incident as orders of the governor that went wrong and that Yazid did not know about it beforehand while the Shia blame Yazid and everyone under his command as well as the Shia of Kufa that never showed up to help Hussein.

        Therefore, this story has nothing to do with a 10-day journey. Wiki article with links describe how Muslims first copied the Jewish tradition of Yom Kippur and the massacre at Kerbala on that day for the Shia:

        link to en.wikipedia.org

      • LeaNder
        November 15, 2013, 10:17 am

        It is pure cosmic coincidence that the jews and shias share the same religious date in this instance.

        Sorry Taxi, I find Walid’s argument much more convincing in this debate. Would your Shia Muslim neighbors be aware of the whole history and development of the Ashura, its context and associated celebration? Are they representative of Shia’s customs or rituals everywhere?

        Anyway your reduction of the meaning of Ashura and it’s origins does not satisfy. Are you seriously suggesting that it did not develop in any way. Are you seriously suggesting the custom did not develop in any way and thus your neighbor’s ritual tells you something about origin and meaning?

        In any case the diverse Shia denominations, Walid suggested above, indicate that there probably hardly is just one custom even today:

        Day of Ashura

        Mourning of Muharram

        Thanks Walid. Good that the standard imagery of the “Arab Village”, as I have come to call it, triggered this interesting exchange.

        It’s pretty hard to get that difference in my head admittedly. This central difference helps a lot to make other information synapses work slightly better. ;)

      • andrew r
        November 15, 2013, 10:19 am

        The word “Quibla” (direction) is similar to the biblical Hebrew word “קבל” (Koval – in front of) which has connection to direction. The word is not in use today in modern Hebrew but Arabs still use it as “Kabel” (in front of, before).

        Interesting: The same root means receive (קיבל, מקבל) in modern Hebrew. Well, you have to stand in front of someone to receive it…

      • LeaNder
        November 15, 2013, 10:43 am

        The links that don’t work anymore after a slight editing action are these.

        Day of Ashura

        Mourning of Muharram

        I have even found a feminist approach to the commemoration.

        I know I have recommended this before, but maybe our dear jonah fredman takes a look at least at one chapter in Gil Eyal’s book, Chapter 5 The Discourse of the Arab Village

        The basic “culture” argument, and this type of argument seems pretty close, is a bit boring by now. Even without consideration of historical context.

        Goldberg mentions: Iran (Shiites) versus the Sunnis, Islam versus modernity, educational and economic backwardness, drought and water supply problems.

        Iranians, it seems are not at all an uneducated people, and that may be part of the desire to push them into ever more financial hardships via economic sanctions. If they were “educationally backward” would anyone need to kill their scientists?

      • Taxi
        November 15, 2013, 11:38 am

        Walid,
        What you say about people generally believing their own versions etc may very well be true, but when it comes to islamic history, is wikipedia really the best reliable source to believe?

        I just spoke by phone to an islamic history professor and he basically says that a chain of events rapidly developed over 9 days, leading to the battle of Karbala on the tenth. The chain of events began with Imam Hussein’s dream of Prophet Mohammad giving him instruction to face the army of Yazid, who was distorting and destroying the message of islam under his brutal rule. The professor added that it’s pure coincidence that the battle took place when the jews were marking their yom kippor at the same time.

        Well, after this phone conversation, I googled, and googled and googled and… found no mention, by any reputable islamic sites, of the ‘ten day’ connection between Ashura and Yom Kippor – not even in the islamic section of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

        Man! One has to do multiple verifications for each piece of info out there! One can easily spend the whole of one’s life doing nothing but verifications!

      • LeaNder
        November 15, 2013, 3:50 pm

        is wikipedia really the best reliable source to believe?

        You are not addressing me, Taxi, I know. May I respond anyway, before I shut up again? Wikipedia is fine with me to get a superficial impression. Nothing I saw contradicts Walid in any way. A scholar of history can only tell us of the ten days you are looking for if there are sources? Did you ask him which?

        Here is a series of articles by the Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project, the site seems to be hosted in the US. Personally the anti-Jewish Quran quotations,as well as suggesting the Jews some type of incarnation of “tahfir”, and also controlling media somewhat puts me off.

        In any case this seems from the Twelver Shi’ah Islamic school of thought.

        ‘Ashura – Misrepresentations and Distortions part 1 /First Sermon: ‘Ashura – History and Popular Legend

        Comment from yesterday:

        Incidentally, tonight is the “Evening of the Strangers” which is memorialized all over Iran and elsewhere by the Shia – reminding everyone of the sufferings of the family of Imam Hussein.

      • MahaneYehude1
        November 15, 2013, 3:59 pm

        @Taxi:

        “Well, after this phone conversation, I googled, and googled and googled and… found no mention, by any reputable Islamic sites, of the ‘ten day’ connection between Ashura and Yom Kippor – not even in the Islamic section of the Encyclopedia Britannica.”. taxi.

        The Quran, Surat Al-Baqara, phrase 183 says:
        “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become righteous”

        Sahih Al-Bukhari in his Hadith’s collection about this phrase:
        (Volume 3, Book 31, Number 222):

        “Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:
        The Prophet came to Medina and saw the Jews fasting on the day of Ashura. He asked them about that. They replied, “This is a good day, the day on which Allah rescued Bani Israel(The people of Israel) from their enemy. So, Moses fasted this day.” The Prophet said, “We have more claim over Moses than you.” So, the Prophet fasted on that day and ordered (the Muslims) to fast (on that day).”

        link to islamicity.com

        Please note, Taxi, that the connection to Yom-Kippur is exist only in the Sunni section of Islam.

      • Walid
        November 15, 2013, 6:42 pm

        Taxi, the Islamic history professor is giving you the Shia aspect of the 10 days of Ashura, but to go back into the first history of the Ashura, it was instituted by the Prophet in the last year of his life when he learned of the Jews’ Yom Kippur according to the hadiths and in the way described in Mahane’s sourced Quranic verses. The massacre at Kerbala happened 48 years later on the day known on the Islamic calendar as Ashura (October 10, 680 AD). By then, it was no longer a compulsory holiday but simply an optional one and it was replaced by the obligatory full month of fasting in Ramadan, a custom of fasting which had existed from pagan pre-Islamic days.. Here’s more about it from an Islamic learning site:

        Ashura of Muharram – A Shia and Sunni Muslim Observance

        10th of Muharram (the day of Ashura / Ashoora) is observed as an important day by both Sunni and Shia Muslims – however, for different reasons.

        Most scholars believe that Ahsura is named as such because of “tenth” of Muharram (ten is translated as “Ashara” in the Arabic language)

        Sunni Muslims look at Ashura as a day of “respect and gratitude” (for Prophet Moosa and his nation), while Shia Muslims believe that day to be a day of mourning and sorrow. The following is an explanation of the difference.

        Sunni Muslims

        Based on the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (saws), Sunni Muslims celebrate Ashura as the day when Prophet Moses (Moosa) fasted on that day because Allah saved the Israelites from their enemy in Egypt. One of the many Ahadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad) that attests to that is in Bukhari that states:

        Narrated by al-Bukhaari (1865) from Ibn ‘Abbaas, who said: The Prophet (saws) came to Madinah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of Ashoora. He said, “What is this?” They said, “This is a good day, this is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy and Moosa fasted on this day.” He (the Prophet Muhammad) said, “We are closer to Moosa than you.”

        So he (the Prophet Muhammad) fasted on this day and told the people to fast.

        There are many other versions of this Hadith in the books of “Muslim” and “Bukhari”.

        According to a version narrated by Muslim,
        This is a great day when Allah saved Moosa (Moses) and his people and drowned Pharaoh and his people.”

        Sunni Muslims celebrate Ashura by fasting on that day. Usually, Sunni Muslims are recommended to fast on the 9th and 10th of Muharram.

        Al-Shaafa’i and his companions, Ahmad, Ishaaq and others said: It is mustahabb [recommended] to fast both the ninth and the tenth, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fasted the tenth and intended to fast the ninth. Based on this, there are different ways of fasting ‘Ashoora’, the least of which is to fast the tenth only, but it is better to fast the ninth as well. The more one fasts in Muharram, the better. (islamqa.info)

        Other Ahadith on the subject are the following:

        “The prophet observed the fast on Ashuraa (the 10th of Muharram), and ordered (Muslims) to fast on that day. (Agreed upon Hadith i.e. Bukhari & Muslim).

        Narrated by Abi Katada: The prophet was asked about fasting on ‘Ashuraa’ (the 10th of Muharram), he said: “it expiates the previous year (for sins).” (Sahih Muslim)

        It was proven from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that the best fasting after Ramadan is fasting in the month of Muharram. It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The best fasting after Ramadan is the month of Allah Muharram, and the best prayer after the obligatory prayer is prayer at night.” Narrated by Muslim, 1163.

        Shia Muslims Observance

        Shia Muslims observance of Ashura is different altogether. They observe Ashura as the day of martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala. Shia Muslims, therefore, consider this a day of sorrow and observe it as such by refraining from music, listening to sorrowful poetic recitations, wearing mourning attire, and refraining from all joyous events (e.g. weddings) that in anyway distract them from the sorrowful remembrance of that day.

        link to iqrasense.com

      • Walid
        November 15, 2013, 7:12 pm

        LeaNder, the Arab village regrettably has more folklore than actual history.

      • Walid
        November 15, 2013, 7:22 pm

        “Please note, Taxi, that the connection to Yom-Kippur is exist only in the Sunni section of Islam.” (Mahane)

        When Muslims joined the Jews in the Yom Kippur by giving it a slightly different colouring, there still wasn’t such a thing as Shia-Islam. Shiism, developed only after the death of the Prophet and the debates on who would replace him as leader of the faith. The group that wanted Ali, the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law became known as Shi’at-Ali, or “followers of Ali” or more simply as “Shiites” or “Shia”. That’s why it’s as you said about the connection was to the Sunni since all Muslims at the time were Sunni, which remained as the originally orthodox branch of Islam.

      • gamal
        November 15, 2013, 10:10 pm

        dear Leander might i recommend Ali Shariati’s “Hajj and Reflections on its Rituals” i guess i think you will be both surprised and delighted by this great work.

        link to amazon.com

      • gamal
        November 15, 2013, 11:01 pm

        no you can not say ” the connection to Yom-Kippur is (huh! you fluent man, you think english) only exist in the Sunni section of Islam”, it is a meaningless remark. Shia are not like Christians, they are Muslims, you know and if Sunni’s are connected to Yom Kippur you will find the Shia there also, enriching rare metals and wiping clean the pages of time, there is one Islam which currently has 4 ( who is counting) flavours Sunni, Shia, Ibadi and Zaydi, they are all connected to Judaism and Christianity in the same way, Muslims would not think Judaism was dodgy if the Old Testament and Jewish spiritual wisdom did not indicate that that is the case, Muslims regard the taurat as an object lesson in how not to, as the text indicates, Muslims revere the spiritual insight of Judaism and Christianity, Muslims dont give a shit about genes, they feel that anyone of the Jewish faith is their spiritual cousin, it infuriated Michael Parenti, we infuriate ourselves.

        the rift between Sunnism and Shi’ism is that Sunni’s insist on a separation of spiritual and temporal authority, they insist on forming policy almost purely on pragmatic and material grounds, the Shia nurse tender ideals, like Ali, obviously revered by Sunni’s, but to Sunni’s Ali for all his incredible idealism, magnanimity and honesty ensured his own defeat by the cynical and efficient Mu’awiya, Sunni’s took the low road as it were, and accept that temporal power is never to be merged with spiritual authority or constrained by its elevated “Morality”, anyway apart from very minor differences, mostly Shia primary sources ( they have some extra stuff and reject all sources traceable to those unsympathetic to Ali), all the sources are common and so is the relationship to Judaism and Christianity.

        We may exterminate each other, well I cant account for that, I believe Sunnism still receives royalties from Shi’ism for Rumi, and that the Druze are not Arabs and that you want to be at peace dear Mehane but can not face yourself.

      • Taxi
        November 15, 2013, 11:56 pm

        LeaNder,

        I’m not an authority on shiaism, sunnism, and judaism combined. Neither is Walid, or you.

        But I do know what people I’m surrounded with believe in – it’s not MY belief, it’s theirs.

        But all you got to do dear in this case is check the history dates. The death of Imam Hussein was AFTER the death of the prophet Mohammad and it happened on the 10th of the month of Muharram, during a time when jews celebrate their yom kippor. Based on this, pray tell why would the devout shias commemorate a jewish ritual to express their bereavement of their muslim Imam?

        And should we believe a sunni or jewish interpretation of what shia ritual is all about? Or should we look at shia sources for explanation? You chose the “argument” of a sunni. That’s your prerogative. Me, I’m just relaying what I’ve witnessed and heard verbatim from local Lebanese shias, who, btw, have a profound respect for judasim, as instructed to them by their ancient religious leaders. Ashura for the shias is simply about their bereavement over the death of their Imam, not the marking of a jewish ritual.

        Keeping it simple in the tangled web of Abrahamism.

      • Taxi
        November 16, 2013, 12:21 am

        Walid,

        “Shia Muslims observance of Ashura is different altogether. They observe Ashura as the day of martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala. Shia Muslims, therefore, consider this a day of sorrow and observe it as such by refraining from music, listening to sorrowful poetic recitations, wearing mourning attire, and refraining from all joyous events (e.g. weddings) that in anyway distract them from the sorrowful remembrance of that day.”

        Was precisely my point all along.

        Shias’ observance of Ashura has nothing to do with yom kippor.

        Thank you.

      • Taxi
        November 16, 2013, 12:27 am

        Walid,

        ‘the Arab village regrettably has more folklore than actual history”.

        As opposed to the urban myths of city dwellers – yeah right.

        My experience is that countryfolk all over the world keep their beliefs purer – for better or for worse, they keep it purer.

        And btw, there is always a strain of truth in folklore. We have come to understand unrecorded ancient history through deciphering folklore and epic poetry.

      • MahaneYehude1
        November 16, 2013, 1:06 am

        @Gamal:

        “no you can not say ” the connection to Yom-Kippur is (huh! you fluent man, you think English) only exist in the Sunni section of Islam”, it is a meaningless remark.”

        First, thanks for the compliment (it is the second one today :-) ). I understand from you and from Walid that my above sentence is not accurate. I thought that the Hadith collection (Ahadith) is more important (maybe “important” is not the appropriate word here) today among the Sunni section. Please, correct me if I wrong. I will be glad to learn new things.

        What do you mean by ” taurat”? Do you mean Thorah?

      • Walid
        November 16, 2013, 3:26 am

        “Shias’ observance of Ashura has nothing to do with yom kippor.”

        100% correct, Taxi, and I’ve never contested that fact from the begining. You surely missed my opening remarks on the subject, when I said:

        “… Ashura by the way is ALSO a Sunni feast celebrated in parts of Pakistan and elsewhere to commemorate Moses’ deliverance of the Jews from Egypt’s slavery. In Islam’s early days, this feast was picked up from the Jews’ observance of the 10 days of Yom Kippur; I think it was called “Asor”. It was by coincidence that the massacre of Hussein happened on that day, and it became a solemn day for the Shia. ”

        We’re really talking about the same thing but looking at Ashura from different time perspectives. The initial Ashura was started by the copycat Muslims 48 years before the Massacre at Kerbala took place on the 10th of Muharram, which for the followers of Ali, the Shia, it then became like Good Friday for the Christians, the most solemn day of the year.

        BTW, I’m keen about learning about folklore for the reason you stated, but rather than believing or disbelieving it, I enjoy researching when the folklore started and the reason behind how it was started. It’s as you said, an important part of history that cannot be ignored.

        I noticed from your post to LeaNder, you also misunderstood me to have said that the Shia commemorated Ashura along with the Jews’ Yom Kippur. I never said that either. I simply said that the day of the massacre occurred on the 10th of Muharram, happened to be the former obligatory celebration day of Muslims known as Ashura.

        Ask your Shia neighbours how was it that Hussein was on his way to do battle with Yazid’s forces during the month of Muharram when it was absolutely forbidden to make war during that month. They’ll probably answer you that they didn’t know what the month of Muharram had anything to do with anything. They’ll probably not believe you either if you tell them that the fasting during the full month of Ramadan was a pagan custom that existed before Islam.

      • Taxi
        November 16, 2013, 4:10 am

        Walid,

        Right or wrong, we’ve both just demonstrated how easy it is to misunderstand another person’s interpretation of religious detail :-)

        I have my limits into religious inquiry – not really that interested in religion in itself, only its effects on global political life – it starts to give me an annoying headache to get too involved in parsing religious detail. That’s just me. And I’m not like you, Walid: over-presumptuous about what large swaths of countryfolk think about their religious practices. So, regrettably, I won’t be asking my “shia neighbors” what they think about this Imam and that Imam. I think I’ve had my fill of religious education already – what with 10 days of Ashura and all just passed. That’s about my religious ed intake limit for the year – ten days is plenty for me. My very own personal Ashura :-)

  25. Taxi
    November 12, 2013, 2:13 am

    Great article, annie. Should be read in tandem with:

    The Cost of Netanyahu’s Campaign Against an Iran Deal:
    “Referring to Netanyahu’s demand to draw “red lines” for Iran, Obama told his aides, according to the book [Double Down, Game Change 2012 - by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin]: “We all know that Bibi Netanyahu is a pain in the ass.””
    link to al-monitor.com

  26. Citizen
    November 12, 2013, 7:57 am

    Here’s a strategic take on where the US is going that suggests an analogy to the Nixon -China switch, and that the US and Iran are both contemplating a greater balance of power in the Middle East (not merely working on Iran’s nuclear status) which is in their mutual interest, and does not mean US is ditching either Israel or Saudi Arabia, just putting both of them in their proper place from a geopolitical perspective. The key point is that rabidly opposing ideologies always bows in the end to necessity. It did with Stalin, and it did with Mao. An important practical point is that the US no longer needs Saudi oil. Unfortunately, the piece does not address the power of the Israel Lobby in the USA: link to stratfor.com

  27. NickJOCW
    November 12, 2013, 9:07 am

    Whatever may have happened in Geneva, it is apparent that Kerry is now cutting and editing the US account to make it appear to have failed through Iranian intransigence whereas one can be pretty certain the US directly or indirectly caused the negotiations not to conclude as all others had hoped and expected. We should bear this in mind while the truth is morphing before our eyes. link to bbc.co.uk Meanwhile failure to reach agreement caused crude oil prices to rise by USD 1.06 a barrel on Monday. In Spain we now pay the equivalent of around USD 7.14 per US gallon at the pump (€1.40 per litre).

  28. Citizen
    November 12, 2013, 3:15 pm

    To put Kerry in practical context, here’s how Bibi N has been growing illegal settlements while Kerry is running around and babbling peace earnestly: http://peacenow.org/entries/new_peace_nowapn_report_bibis_settlements_boom_–_march-november_2013#.UoKLnKWizLQ

    Nothing will change without Obama-Kerry threatening Israel (at least) with stoppage of US financial aid to Israel unless it stops these settlement expansions. Nothing has changed.

    • Bumblebye
      November 12, 2013, 8:59 pm

      Oops! Well it’s just been reported on radio that Bibi’s nixed 24.000 new settlement builds – due to impact on the p** process.

  29. biorabbi
    November 12, 2013, 5:19 pm

    Annie, don’t you find Kerry kind of repulsive? I’m not talking about his deal with Israel, but his statements about Syria, almost crossing the line into a demand for war not too far back. I remember his words with disgust. Even on the Iranian issue, he’s now disseminating some sort of “unity among the Europeans/US” and how Iran balked, when, in obvious reality, the French played hardball.

    • Annie Robbins
      November 12, 2013, 8:35 pm

      he’s not my favorite cup of tea biorabbi. however i wouldn’t use the term repulsive.

      and here’s the interview, not repulsive at all: link to state.gov

      • biorabbi
        November 12, 2013, 11:18 pm

        Repulsive is too hard of a word. I think he thinks he is a great diplomat(and he it not that shrewd). I actually think Kissinger might have been a better SOS today(but he’s too old). He also rubbed people the wrong way and the Israelis hated him.

      • Annie Robbins
        November 13, 2013, 10:44 am

        tablet on his 90th birthday link to tabletmag.com

  30. eGuard
    November 13, 2013, 12:26 am

    Abe Foxman: … the risks of peace

  31. Annie Robbins
    November 13, 2013, 11:39 am

    Update: the state department’s full transcript from of the ‘harsh’ interview with kerry on channel 2 is now embedded in the first sentence of the article if anyone is interested in reading it. here’s one interesting exchange referenced in the haaretz article:

    (my bold)

    MR. SEGAL: Mr. Secretary, let me ask you a basic question. Can you confirm that the two sides – Israeli Palestinian – agreed to free murders versus building in the settlement deal as part of the resumption of the negotiation, i.e., every time that Israel will release the prisoner, there will be a wave of construction?

    SECRETARY KERRY: No, I cannot confirm that, because that is not true.

    MR. SEGAL: All right.

    SECRETARY KERRY: That is not the agreement. The agreement specifically was that there would be a release of the pre-Oslo prisoners, 104, who have been in prison now for many, many years, who would be released in exchange for the Palestinian Authority not proceeding to the UN during that period of time. Now, the Palestinian leadership made it absolutely clear they believe the settlements are illegal, they object to the settlements, and they are in no way condoning the settlements. But they knew that Israel would make some announcements. They knew it, but they don’t agree with it, and they don’t support it.

    MR. SEGAL: So you definitely can (inaudible) —

    SECRETARY KERRY: Let me just finish.

    MR. SEGAL: — aware of that, but it was not agreed upon?

    SECRETARY KERRY: That’s correct. That is correct. They disagree with it. In fact, they said: We don’t agree. We do not think you should be doing settlements. We, the United States, say the same thing. We do not believe the settlements are legitimate. We think they’re illegitimate. And we believe that the entire peace process would, in fact, be easier if these settlements were not taking place. Now, that’s our position. That is also the position – but we knew that there was not going to be a freeze. We didn’t negotiate a freeze. So there’s a difference here between knowing something may happen and objecting to it. The Palestinians profoundly object to it. The international community objects to it. The United States policy has always been that the settlements are illegitimate, and we believe this process would be much easier if we didn’t have the tension that is created by settlements.

    it’s interesting segal asks “can you confirm” there was an agreement between the 2 parties to exchange prisoners for settlement expansion. it indicates in his framing israelis had that understanding. i had not read that anywhere before and wonder if the allegation was ever in the hebrew press.

    here’s the link again link to state.gov

    • eljay
      November 13, 2013, 1:19 pm

      >> SECRETARY KERRY: That’s correct. That is correct. They disagree with it. In fact, they said: We don’t agree.

      They disagree with it and, in fact, they said “We don’t agree.” Imagine that!

      >> We do not think you should be doing settlements. We, the United States, say the same thing. We do not believe the settlements are legitimate. We think they’re illegitimate. And we believe that the entire peace process would, in fact, be easier if these settlements were not taking place. … The Palestinians profoundly object to it. The international community objects to it. The United States policy has always been that the settlements are illegitimate, and we believe this process would be much easier if we didn’t have the tension that is created by settlements.

      So what did you do about it?

      >> We didn’t negotiate a freeze.

      Wonderful.

    • Walid
      November 14, 2013, 2:00 am

      Annie, we discussed this here on Nov 6th but from an Israeli press report. My post that day:

      “From Haaretz 3 days ago:
      Although the Palestinians knew the announcement on settlements was coming, they expected neither that construction would start immediately nor the scope of the plans – some 5000 new housing units. The Americans were also not aware the number would be so high. When the news broke on Wednesday evening a storm befell the Palestinian presidential compound in Ramallah. Senior officials of the Palestinian Liberation Organization demanded to cease negotiations and attacked Erekat.

      On Thursday, Channel 10 and Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported Erekat tendered his resignation before Abbas but that the latter rejected it. What actually transpired was a little different. According to Israeli officials, Erekat did not deliver a resignation letter, but instead tossed out a verbal statement at a PLO meeting.

      The officials said Erekat wanted publicity for internal Palestinian purposes: On the one hand to relieve that pressure on him from within the PLO and on the other to calm the public outcry.”

      link to haaretz.com

      • Annie Robbins
        November 14, 2013, 4:54 am

        i completely missed all this walid. i wasn’t following this thread link to mondoweiss.net

        the post was so frustrating but the link puts it all in context. it’s so frustrating i can barely stand it. 6 more months of this!!!! it’s torture.

  32. talknic
    November 14, 2013, 6:30 am

    We interrupt this thread to bring an important announcement

    link to foia.cia.gov

    • Citizen
      November 14, 2013, 11:22 am

      Interesting to read the pdf back then regarding US take on Arab view of US-Israel special relationship. Back then, there were high hopes they, the Arab states involved, could convince the US government the best USA interest lay in enhancing US-Arab relations, but those more adaptable Arab states realized the US congress was the major problem, not the WH. So, what has changed? Here’s the pdf: link to foia.cia.gov

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