Category Archives:
Middle East

‘Village on the volcano’ is latest effort to trivialize the occupation

Philip Weiss on
Matti Friedman, by Sebastian Scheiner

Like the “villa in the jungle” and the “bad neighborhood of the Middle East” before it, the theme that Israel is a “village on a volcano” of radical Islam is being used by its apologists to try and change the subject from the near-50-year-long occupation, in which Palestinians have no rights

Judt on Brooks and Friedman’s role in pushing the criminal invasion of Iraq

Philip Weiss on
Tony Judt

The late Tony Judt on David Brooks and Tom Friedman pushing the Iraq war: “catastrophic acquiescence in authority and plain, old-fashioned dumb ignorance masquerading as commentary. These were the circumstances which allowed a criminal political action to be pushed through the public space with very little opposition.”

Europe wearies of Netanyahu’s diversions

Philip Weiss on
Netanyahu at the UN General Assembly

Anyone say regime change? Israel is losing its friends round the world, Financial Times and Americans for Peace Now agree, because of Netanyahu’s cynical settlement policy

The Missing Context: ‘Islamic State’ sectarianism is not coincidental 

Ramzy Baroud on
An image made available on a jihadist website during the summer of 2014 which shows Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants holding the organization's trademark flag in Iraq. (Photo: AFP)

The United States didn’t create Iraqi sectarianism. The latter always brewed beneath the surface. However, sectarianism and other manifestations of identity politics in Iraq were always overpowered by a dominant sense of Iraqi nationalism, which was violently destroyed and ripped apart by US firepower starting March 2003. But what the American truly founded in Iraq was Sunni militancy, a concept that has, till recently been alien to the Middle East. What makes ISIS an essential sectarian phenomenon with extremely violent consequences is that it was born into an exceptionally sectarian environment, and could only operate within the existing rules

Is ISIS a crisis for the so-called Jewish state?

Philip Weiss on
ISIS style adopted by rightwingers in Tel Aviv

The rise of ISIS makes clear how dangerous it is to fail to separate church and state. That argument for democracy is sure to bite Israel, which uses religion to justify Jewish supremacy.

American airstrikes and the universal ‘language of force’

Nima Shirazi on
President Barack Obama speaks during the general debate of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 24, 2014. (Photo: Justin Lane—EPA)

The rhetoric used by Obama to defend yet another illegal and ill-conceived American air campaign in the Middle East is well-worn. The very same word salad, notably the “language of force” line, has been routinely served up to justify lethal action against a seemingly intractable foe and it puts the onus on the target of that aggression for bringing such violence upon itself: if they weren’t such barbarians, we too wouldn’t have to resort to barbarism

Fineman and Robinson blast Sam Harris and HBO for promoting ignorance about Islam

Philip Weiss on
Eugene Robinson

The debate triggered by Bill Maher’s comments about Islam on his HBO show Friday night, alleging that it is inherently violent and intolerant, continued on Hardball last night. Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post, Howard Fineman of Huffington Post, and host Chris Matthews all condemned Bill Maher’s and Sam Harris’s comments about Islam– on a show

Shut Guantanamo now

Roland Nikles on
Camp_Delta,_Guantanamo_Bay,_Cuba

As news orgs sue to get videos of forced-feeding of Guanatamo hunger strikers, some facts: More prisoners have died in Guantanamo than have been convicted (9 to 8). There are now 149 prisoners; 78 have never been charged, 38 are deemed too dangerous to release and unconvictable; and the rest are in limbo. Close the prison now, set those free that the U.S. can’t bring to trial.

ISIS wants us to come in and bomb Arabs (Rouhani and Matthews agree)

Philip Weiss on
114-krauthammer-isis-plan-740

Last week the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said at the U.N. that ISIS wants the U.S. back in Iraq: They also have a single goal: the destruction of civilization, giving rise to Islamophobia and creating a fertile ground for further intervention of foreign forces in our region. Last night Chris Matthews said the same thing: Is

Modi and Netanyahu’s NY bromance

Philip Weiss on
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The Israeli and Indian prime ministers went out of their way to have a meeting in NY yesterday, reflecting an Indian shift from support for Palestinian aspirations to support for Israel. The third side of the triangle is the U.S., which forgives Narendra Modi his part in a Muslim massacre and never had a problem with Netanyahu’s recent massacre in Gaza

When Rouhani says blaming ISIS on Islam is Islamophobic, is anyone listening?

Philip Weiss on
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There’s been a lot of attention to the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. But what about the rise of Islamophobia, which is being fostered by ISIS’s violent actions, which Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president and a cleric, says have nothing to do with Islam but are the fruit of western colonialism?

Why is the United Nations doing business with G4S, notorious prison supplier?

Kali Rubaii for Friends of Sabeel—North America on
eIMG_2129

In early September, I accompanied an Iraqi friend to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office in Amman, Jordan to help register him officially as a refugee. There was a G4S logo on the gate attendant’s shirt. And G4S all over the compound. Why is the British company that serves Israeli prisons a UN contractor?

When does ‘Unsustainable’ become ‘Unconscionable’?

Marc H. Ellis on
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The deaths of hundreds of Palestinians in the sea fleeing Gaza ought to be acknowledged around the world as evidence that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands is not just “unsustainable” — Obama’s mantra — but “unconscionable.”

Homegrown jihadis and the limits of the Israel lobby

Maggie Sager on
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Israel’s calculation of “Liberalism for us, oppression for our enemies” mirrors Western attitudes. The Israel lobby is not needed to sway western governments to support the Jewish state, Maggie Sager argues at Mondo

Did Snowden blow the whistle because of the US special relationship with Israel?

James North and Philip Weiss on
Edward Snowden

Explaining why Edward Snowden took his momentous step, James Bamford says, “Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization.” The damage of the special relations

After war, children in Gaza return to school

Kate on
The girl in this photo didn't wear the school uniform; she wore the last dress her mother bought for her - she lost all her family. (Photo: Mohammed Zeyara/Facebook)

The AP reports: Some half million Gaza children made a delayed return to school on Sunday after a devastating 50-day war with Israel that killed more than 2,100 Palestinians and damaged hundreds of school buildings

ISIS, 9/11, and the terrorism time loop

Deepa Kumar on
President Barack Obama delivers a prime time address from the White House to discuss the US strategy to counter ISIS, Sept. 10, 2014 (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

As we mark another anniversary of the attacks in 2001, it seems as if little has changed. We appear to be caught in a time loop where history keeps repeating itself again and again. If it was al Qaeda in 2001 that represented the pinnacle of all things evil that animated the US invasion of Afghanistan and later Iraq, today its al Qaeda’s evil twin Islamic State that is prompting air strikes in Iraq and upcoming airstrikes on Syria as well. Virtually absent in the media circus around ISIS is an honest discussion of how the US War on Terror, rather than halting the growth of violent Islamist groups, actually fosters fundamentalism

ISIS and Israel allies against a Palestinian state

Jonathan Cook on
Shmuley Boteach image for his New York Times ad, which he says the paper  insisted he change.

Netanyahu’s depiction of Hamas and ISIS, or Islamic State, as “branches of the same poisonous tree” is a travesty of the truth. The two have entirely different – in fact, opposed – political projects. ISIS wants to return to a supposed era of pure Islamic rule, the caliphate, when all Muslims were subject to God’s laws (sharia). Given that Muslims are now to be found in every corner of the globe, the implication is that ISIS ultimately seeks world domination. Hamas’s goals are decidedly more modest. It was born and continues as a national liberation movement, seeking to create a Palestinian state. Its members may disagree on that state’s territorial limits but even the most ambitious expect no more than the historic borders of a Palestine that existed a few decades ago. ISIS aims to sweep away Palestine and every other Arab state in the region

The best U.S. ‘strategy’ to combat ISIS? Stop supporting religious states

Philip Weiss on
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Barack Obama is working on his strategy to combat the radical Islamist group ISIS. How about upholding a core principle of democracy, the separation of church and state? We would affirm that principle not by sending drones and special forces to Syria but by opposing the idea of a Jewish state in Israel and Palestine.