Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 149 (since 2012-01-14 23:46:14)

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  • Jews in Iran: a travelogue
    • Prof. Rabkin's article is an interesting and informative read. However, some of the conclusions drawn by the author are not well-supported. He mentions the positive image of Jews among the Iranians he came across as evidence that the European stereotypes of the “cheap”, “dishonest” and “rapacious” Jew are not the norm in Iran. These very stereotypes, and worse, do exist in Iran and are actually promulgated by certain government sectors every once in a while, even though it's quite possible that they are not shared by a large part, even a majority, of Iranians. An example of state-sponsored antisemtism would be Iran's broadcast media, entirely state-controlled, under the supervision of hardliners, which for years have broadcast Protocols-of-the-Elders-of-Zion type of stories as historical facts. In various state-funded historical films on Iranian TV, Jewish villains are depicted as the main characters behind British colonialism and Western imperialism (long before the creation of Israel) bent on subverting Islam in Iran. These Jewish characters are, in fact, often fictitious or, at best, of marginal, if any, historical relevance. The motivation for these Jewish conspiracies is often portrayed as fulfilling commandments from the Talmud and Kabalah, and sometimes even the Torah.

      Jewish representatives, on various occasions throughout the years, have objected to such vulgar and naked official antisemitism in the IRI. As an example, you can find this open letter from then-Jewish parliament rep Maurice Motamed to Ahmadinejad in 2005, currently posted at Tehran's Jewish Committee website:
      Excerpt: "I ... on multiple occasions in ... [parliament] speeches and in writings and direct visits to responsible authorities of the country have expressed my and the Jewish community's objections to publishing books and articles and producing programs or TV series, which under the guise of opposing Zionism, display their own antisemitic thoughts, and attempt to insult Jewish religious and moral precepts, thereby, in addition to dismaying Jewish Iranians ..., they have also provoked that group of individuals whose opinions and anxieties are inflamed by reading such articles, viewing antisemitic series, and who may unwittingly take actions which undoubtedly are not desired by the system [regime]. [In case the wording is obtuse, he means the propaganda may provoke antisemitic attacks.] In particular, recently in TV programming relating to the [holy] month of Ramadan we witness a TV series whose vitriol and attack are directed solely against the Jews." Motamed goes on to request that more respect towards Jewish rights and sensibilities be afforded in state-sanctioned/sponsored publications and broadcasts, so as to preempt propaganda against Iran in the foreign media. So far as I could tell, Motamed's protestations did not affect production of antisemitic propaganda during Ahmadinejad's presidency. Some years earlier, during reformist Khatami's administration, Motamed had even claimed that much of the emigration of Iran's Jewish population (currently between 10 to 20 thousand) from around 60,000 at the time of the revolution, may have been due to fears induced by IRI's antisemitic propaganda. While Islamic Republic's official line distinguishes Zionim from Judaism and claims that the latter is honored as a divine religion, a rule of thumb should inform us that often there can be a wide gap between propaganda and practice by any state.

      The roots of modern antisemitism in Iran are mainly attributed to 2 periods. One is the ascendancy of Shia fundamentalism in Iran in the 16th century, highlighting the ritual uncleanliness of non-Muslims with an emphasis on the Jews. The other is importation of Western antisemitic and Aryan supremacist notions during the modernization period from around mid 19th to mid 20th centuries.

      Former head of the Tehran Jewish Committee, Haroun Yeshayai, mentioned in the professor's article (and featured in the last photo, sitting between his daughter and the author) wrote an open letter to Ahmadinejad in 2006 criticizing his Holocaust denial:
      Excerpt from his letter: "Programming and daily emphasis of Islamic Republic's Radio & TV and some other mass media on the fictitiousness of the massacre of the Jews at the hand of Hitler's Nazi regime (the Holocaust) and challenging one of the most evident and saddest human incidents in the 20th century, has perplexed the world and caused apprehension and fear among Iran's small Jewish community." He added that the denial does nothing for the Palestinians and the oppressed Muslims, but "only alleviates psychological complexes of the racists." This provided the Ahmadinejad administration the excuse to force him out, as mentioned in the article.

      Another point of contention with the author's conclusions is his inference of the anti-Zionism of Iran's Jewry, which is mostly contrived and not deeply rooted. In fact, there's no history of significant, if any, anti-Zionism among Iran's Jewry prior to the Islamic revolution. On the contrary, as the Encyclopaedia Iranica indicates, "Iran’s first Zionist committee was formed in Hamadan in 1912, probably in reaction to the Bahais’ overwhelming success in converting Jews there ... Zionism and later the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 instilled a new sense of self-confidence in Iran’s Jewish community and provided them with a vital psychological boost. Many Persian Jews now saw the successes of their coreligionists in the Promised Land as a fulfillment of their messianic aspirations and an end to their misery as an impoverished and disadvantaged minority. Iran’s Jewish community gradually adopted a more Westernized version of Judaism, less preoccupied with issues of messianic expectation and more engaged with Zionism." Even during the reign of Reza Shah, founder of the Pahlavi dynasty, when Zionist activity was illegal and head of the Iranian Zionist organization, who encouraged emigration to Palestine, which was obstructed by the gov't, was executed, emigration did not cease. During the reign of the last Shah, when relations w/ Israel became close and emigration was allowed, about half of Iran's 80,000-strong Jewish community emigrated to Israel in the 60's & 70's, though a small number returned to Iran. In contrast to many Arab states, Iranian Jews emigrated to Israel voluntarily and not under gov't duress. Right before the revolution Iran's 60,000-strong Jewish community was the largest in the world. Now, Israel has around 250,000, the US around 65,000 and Iran under 20,000 Persian Jews. The author mentions a Skype conversation with a Persian Jew in Israel who pretended to be in the US. This is b/c they were worried that if the Iranian authorities were to detect contact w/ Israel, which is illegal, the Jewish host in Iran may have faced consequences. Jews from Iran occasionally travel to Israel to visit family or seek medical treatment by arranging with the Israeli embassy in Turkey to not stamp their Iranian passports.

      Iranian-American Jewish political organizations, such as "30 Years After," are basically an extension of AIPAC and the Israeli consulates. They actively lobby for strong sanctions and hawkish and neocon policies on Iran and unwavering US support for Israeli policies. There is a flow of Iran's Jews, mostly young, emigrating to the US and there's no discernible anti-Zionism among them. Almost all of them end up supporting the "Israel advocacy" of the existing Iranian-American Jewry or, at best, are not particularly engaged with the issue. All Persian synagogues in LA & NY are ultra-Zionist strongholds, and Netanyahu is quite popular among the Iranian-American Jewry.

      The anti-Zionism among Iran's Jewry is mostly contrived in order to be politically correct and acceptable as a Jewish minority w/in the ideological constraints of the Islamic Republic.
      Moreover, since the incessant anti-Israel and anti-Zionist propaganda of the Islamic Republic is tainted with vulgar antisemitism, as described above, it's not that surprising that Iran's Jews may counter that by identifying Zionism w/ their Jewishness. Iranian authorities are more than likely aware of these distortions, but status quo and pretenses are mostly maintained. Iran's Jewish leadership, presumably the 4 or 5 the author mentions as asking most of the questions during his talk, are mostly the ones fashioning an anti-Zionist narrative adapted from Western Jewry, such as Prof. Rabkin, b/c there is no indigenous version they can identify with. They may not be as zealously pro-Israel as their fellow AIPAC-dominated Persian Jews in America, but neither are Iran's Jews as ideologically anti-Zionist as their leadership professes. This is not an admirable circumstance as the author believes. It is much healthier and will have a more lasting effect to have an open exchange of conflicting ideas.

      The author also admires the ancient and native Jewish identity of his hosts. But there is some social engineering in that, as well. Essentially, Muslim-non-Muslim marriages are outlawed in Iran, which is over 99% Muslim, and the theocratically-motivated gov't encourages religiosity among the recognized religious minorities, as well as among Muslims. So traditional identities are less fluid than would be in more open societies. This also motivates young Jews of Iran to be continuously emigrating to the US for better marriage (and lifestyle) opportunities, thinning the native community even more. For more on modern history of Iran's Jewry:

      As a side note, censorship through deletion or modification, is not unheard of in official Iranian translations of political works. Unless an independent reader versed in both languages can verify it, suspicion of modification exists. (And as a minor point, the current [since 2008] Jewish MP's last name is Moreh Sedgh; Siamak is his first name.)

  • 'A better relationship with Iran' is the deal's secret promise, but supporters can't say so
  • Schumer defection raises fears about firewall on Jewish support for Iran Deal
  • Defying Obama on Iran deal, Schumer cites Hamas
  • Nine reasons Obama is going to win on Iran. The first: Netanyahu
    • @Kathleen

      "The Leverett’s are always pointing out how “democracy” based on alleged U.S. standards do not apply in Iran etc." That's b/c much of the Leveretts' views on Iran are at the level of Orientalist morons.

    • @Annie Robbins

      This "truly horrendous" so-called "Iranian Holocaust" perpetrated with "British complicity" is alleged by Mohammad Gholi Majd in his book "The Great Famine and Genocide in Persia, 1917-1919." Fortunately, according to historians inside and outside Iran, it is mostly a figment of the author's shoddy scholarship.

      Take, for instance, this report on the "Roundtable to Examine the Great Famine" held in 2013 in Tehran. It was a session on a scholarly project started the previous year examining 4000 documents from the National Library and Archives of IRI, and the archives of Iran's Foreign Ministry and parliament. Dr. Elham Malekzadeh, chair of the session, said that, contrary to common perceptions, during the relevant period, there is essentially no significant evidence of looting or attack on the population by the British, and a preponderance of evidence of looting and attacks perpetrated by the Russians and the Ottomans, mostly in western Iran. She indicated that various documents put Iran's population at no more than 13 million at the time and the number of deaths at no more than 1 million, in contrast to the 8 to 12 million deaths alleged by Majd. Furthermore, much of these deaths were not due to famine, but causes such as contagious diseases and various ethno-religious strifes.

      Majid Tafreshi, another scholar at the session, while agreeing that there was famine at the time, mentioned that Majd, whether deliberately or unknowingly, makes the mistake of counting any reduction in population in various areas of Iran as deaths, whereas much of those population reductions were the result of migrations within Iran. Dr. Ali Tetri, manager of the Documentation Center of the Iranian Parliament, indicated that 80-90% of the relevant documents at Iran's parliament regard complaints of Russian practices, while there are no complaints of British looting or attacks during the relevant period. There were also complaints of Ottoman behavior, while the Germans were the most popular.

      Mahmood Taher Ahmadi, another historian at the session, ridiculed the figure of 8-10 million deaths at the time, putting the figure at below a million and mostly due to Cholera and Influenza. He addes that, in contrast to significant documentation on "Mongol-style" attacks by the Russians in northern Iran, there are no documents in the National Library and Archives of IRI indicating forceful grain confiscation by the British.

      Historians outside Iran have also been dismissive of Majd's claims of an Iranian genocide. E.g., in an interview with the Iranian monthly Kheradnameh in 2007, Mohammad Tavakoli Targhi, Professor of History and Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto, is quoted as "There's no doubt in the existence of famine and deaths. But how can it be believed that in the era following the Persian Constitutional Revolution 8 million Iranians are killed and in Persian papers there are no news of that "genocide"? Due to the worldwide importance that public health had attained since the beginning of the 19th century, even if that number of Iranian cows and sheep had been killed, we would have certainly found news of that in Persian documents and publications. Believing in an era of ignorance is the presumption of such a strange account." Encyclopaedia Iranica, a project of Columbia University, in its detailed "Famines in Persia" entry, only refers to "serious episodes of famine ... during the two world wars" with no reference to Majd. Under "Demographic consequences," the article makes no reference to the alleged 1917-1919 "genocide."

      As for the term "Iranian Holocaust," it shows poor judgement, given the background of Holocaust denial and anti-semitic propaganda that became an industry in the Ahmadinejad years. Many of the Iranian radicals, while dismissing the Nazi Holocaust as a myth, would claim that "real Holocausts" have been perpetrated by Jews throughout history against Iranians and others. But, semantics aside, this alleged "Iranian Holocaust" is a myth.

  • 'We should seize it' -- Obama announces Iran deal as 'new direction' for the Middle East
  • Don't let's go to the war of civilizations again
  • 'Racist, fascist bullshit'-- Marcel Ophuls exposes Islamophobia in Israel
    • Although, given his family background as victims of the Nazis and his criticism of Israel, he is credentialed for the honor, Ophuls did not make Dennis Prager's latest "Jews-devoted-to-hurting-Jews" list:
      In that piece, the radio talk show host specifically attacks Shlaim, Pappé, Finkelstein and the 90-year old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein and concludes with,
      "These are only four of the many Jews who devote their lives to helping those who wish to destroy Israel. What makes these useful idiots of the Jew-haters tick? Well, these four all have something in common — they or their parents have suffered at the hands of Jew-haters — in three instances the Nazis, in the fourth Muslim Jew-haters (in Iraq, which Shlaim’s family fled when he was 5 years old). I am convinced that many Jews who hate Israel subconsciously believe that if they side with the Jew-haters, they will be spared if the Jew-haters win. Or, if you will, it is a form of the Stockholm syndrome. Finally, they believe they will show the world that whereas almost no Germans spoke up against the Nazis during the Holocaust, they will speak up against the Jews in the Palestinians’ “genocide.” They are, in a word, sick."
      Though he has previously held academic positions, Prager, who recently teamed up with Rabbi Boteach to debate whether "Hamas is a greater obstacle to peace than Israel," at the Oxford Union, does not provide any arguments as to why the views of his designated Gang of Four should be viewed as "sick."

  • Netanyahu at the United Nations: Hamas, Iran, ISIS and 100 cheering Israelis
  • When Rouhani says blaming ISIS on Islam is Islamophobic, is anyone listening?
    • While Rouhani's speech makes reasonable points, it also conveys notable hypocrisy. Rouhani, as the president of a Muslim country, would do well to set an example by practicing in his own society what he "high-mindedly" preaches to others. The Islamic Republic has a very poor record of tolerance & respect towards religions outside the state orthodoxy. The "phobia" of other religions that Rouhani criticizes in the West, are extensively engaged in by Iranian state media and some gov't officials. Vulgar anti-Baha'i and antisemitic propaganda on state TV are not infrequent and often reach lunatic levels. Other sects of Islam, including branches of Shi'ism, that differ from state orthodoxy are also demonized. Baha'is, as well as various sects of Islam are actively persecuted in the Islamic Republic.

      Rouhani, himself, by any indication I know of, is probably not in support of such practices, at least, not to the extent that is happening. The state media is in the hardliner camp, and its directors act under the Supreme Leader's supervision. Judicial persecution of certain faiths is also headed by clerics loyal to Khamenei and not directly controlled by the Rouhani administration. However, as president of the country, Rouhani has at least a platform and some influence in speaking (and acting) against such abominations taking place under his watch. But all that seems to have taken place in the 1 year since his inauguration, has been respectful messages towards Iran's Jews, such as his foreign minister's, Zarif's, acknowledgement of the Holocaust & Rosh Hashana message to Iran's Jews last year. (Jews are mostly allowed to practice their religion, as they're officially a "recognized faith." But Jews in general are demonized in state media and by certain officials.) But persecution and demonization of faiths, including Islamic ones, not acceptable to state orthodoxy continue unabated. Since Iranian propaganda often refer to the Supreme Leader as "Leader of the Faithful," meaning Muslims worldwide, you could say that Iranian leaders are aiding and abetting Islamophobia by engaging in such intolerant practices, and Rouhani hasn't done much to alleviate it.

      To say that "Rouhani is as high-minded as Chomsky" is quite a stretch. Chomsky has for decades been criticized for being too "anti-American" for not criticizing other states as strongly as the US gov't. His response has always been that, while he has criticized other states (including the Islamic Republic), a citizen's responsibility is first & foremost towards the actions of his own state & society, which is why he mainly focuses on US policies. Rouhani, being part of the leadership, is more than a citizen in his country and, hence, should at least show as much commitment to combating religious intolerance taking place under his watch, as he advocates in sermonizing others.

  • The best U.S. 'strategy' to combat ISIS? Stop supporting religious states
    • The author should have worked out some of the glaring inconsistencies in the article more attentively. To argue that the US needs to "stop supporting religious states" and then to recommend forming "a natural alliance with one of the strongest nation-states in the region, [Islamic Republic of] Iran," seems inconsistent. If the author has a "natural alliance" in mind which doesn't amount to "supporting" the theocratic state, it requires elaboration, as it is not evident. Israel is more of an ethnocratic and racist state, while Iran is more of a theocratic and religiously-ruled/religiously-intolerant state. (In this comment, by Israel is meant w/in the Green Line, excluding the occupied territories.) Saudi Arabia, US's first and foremost MidEast ally, is even more theocratic than Iran.

      That "Israel wants to demonize Iran forever because it needs an existential threat" is only part of the story. Whatever one thinks of Israel's belligerence and aggressions, there is a case she can make that Iran at least wants to act as an existential threat to her. That the Islamic Republic should do its utmost to bring an end to the "Zionist regime" has been part of Islamic Republic's rhetoric since its inception. During Israel's latest attack on Gaza, Iran's Supreme Leader prescribed armed struggle to commence in the West Bank, as well. The main reason, though he didn't explicitly state it that way, is that Iran would then be in a better position to gain a foothold in that territory, as it would be a natural source of arms and related support, while w/ peaceful (on the part of the Palestinians) resistance, Iran wouldn't have much of an influence to exert. Iran's ideological vision of a "just solution" to the Israel-Palestine conflict, envisions the majority of immigrant and immigrant-descended Israeli Jews to be expelled from that area (although in international venues Iran typically votes w/ majority nations in support of the 2-state solution, while denouncing the latter). While Israel grossly exaggerates the Iranian threat as nuclear & Nazi-like in character, a threat nevertheless exists. Of course, Israel also poses a threat of aggression to Iran. Much of IRI's official enmity towards the US ("world arrogance") and Israel ("international Zionism") is for the same reason that any ideological state, including the US & Israel, would posit official enemies to "demonize forever." The only obstacle to the "natural alliance" between US & Iran is not from Israel. Iranian propaganda also excludes such a possibility. Even though Iran & the US already have an at-least-tacit alliance in fighting the Islamic State, IRI propaganda states that ISIS is a creation and tool of the US, UK & Israel, and, therefore, no such alliance can take place. The Rouhani administration has been under constant attack from Iranian hardliners, who view themselves as foremost devotees of the Supreme Leader, for attempting detente w/ the US, w/ Khamenei himself engaging in double talk. The Israeli gov't & US radicals are not the only significant obstacles to a US-Iran rapprochement.

      To say that Iran is of more relevance in fighting ISIS than Israel, is true. But on the flip side, Iran has been more of a factor in creating ISIS than Israel. The IRI is perceived to have supported, perhaps tacitly, the Maliki gov't and various Iraqi Shia militias in repressing and ethnically-cleansing the Iraqi Sunnis. Iran is perceived to be the main state actor supporting the Alawite Syrian regime in attacking its mostly-Sunni protesting and then rebelling population. Internally, the IRI has many issues involving human rights violations against the Sunni minority, mostly concentrated in the peripheral ethnic regions, and suppression of their political activists, even though Iranian propaganda claims that she seeks Shia-Sunni unity.

  • Seven congresspeople go to Israel on AIPAC's dime-- and one gets defensive about it
  • Video: If you voted for Hamas, Israel has a right to kill you, says president of NY Board of Rabbis
    • Is this the same woman as the one on the bus?
      "... there [at the pro-Israel rally] were a couple of people with signs, in English, Arabic and Hebrew, mourning the dead in Gaza. “To the older woman who kept following me with her own ‘Stand with Israel’ sign to block my own sign and yelling out loud—look at the traitor—he’s a mamzer—a bastard—I turned and said, calmly—my father is a Holocaust Survivor, please respect him if not me,” wrote the rabbinical student Amichai Lau-Lavie. “To which she replied—he should have died there. There were other obscene and racist statements that I won’t describe.” People like this woman, obviously, are not reachable."

    • Symphony for Palestine composed by the Iranian-American Kayhan Kalhor.
      Shorter clip:
      Full performance:

    • There were apparently a whole lineup of various public officials at the rally, estimated at about 10,000, trying to outdo each other in expressing support for Israel. Here's freshman Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, who should write the next Netanyahu speech:

      Reps. Eliot Engel, Nydia Velazquez, Grace Meng & Steve Israel didn't miss the boat:
      "Rep. Steve Israel announced he will be traveling to Israel on Saturday to express his support for Israel. “Not only do we stand with Israel in New York, we stand with Israel in Israel,” he said. [Congressman] Israel also announced a congressional letter directed to the UN in which congressional members warn the international body not to investigate Israel’s operation in Gaza. “If you want to investigate Israel for alleged war crimes, give it up! Investigate Hamas instead,” he said to thunderous applause."
      And more from Senator Schumer,
      "“Let us not forget one word describes why there are so many innocent who died: Hamas. Who is responsible for the deaths of so many of these Palestinian civilians?” The crowd chanted “Hamas!” “That is exactly right. The bottom line is very simple. We must send a message from one corner of this globe to the other and to that building over there [the UN] that you will not have peace as long as Hamas has power. Hamas is a terrorist organization sworn to Israel’s destruction who believes they have a moral right to start war at any occasion [apparently, w/ no sense of irony].”"
      A rally participant:

    • Maybe Weiss has more footage of it, but here's a short clip of senator Chuck Schumer at the rally calling for more attacks:

      An acquaintance of mine happened to be on a public city bus at the same time that some of the participants who were leaving the rally were on it. He says that a couple of the older women (rally participants) on the bus were loudly calling for the wiping off of all Gazans from the face of the earth based on fatwas issued by some rabbis against enemies of Israel. The loud genocidal outbursts embarrassed even the other rally participants on the bus, who admonished the women to tone down the racism in public.

    • Norman Finkelstein has called for civil disobedience action at the Israeli mission to the UN for today, Tue 7/29/14:
      The goal was to get at least 100 people, which I'm not sure if they've reached yet, but they're down there at the moment, "WE'RE MARCHING AND WE'RE GETTING ARRESTED!" & "IT'S TIME TO ACT! ISRAEL MUST BE STOPPED!" His latest message at the FB page reads, "CAN SOMEONE BRING SOUND EQUIPMENT TO THE DEMO?"

  • Assault on Gaza fuels surge of civil disobedience in protest of Israeli actions
    • Video of today's civil disobedience and arrests in NY, called by Finkelstein:

      The article currently states that this action was "in front of the Israeli consulate," whereas it was in front of the Israeli mission to the UN.

  • Destruction of Gaza's children is something 'every one of us must confront' -- Jon Snow
    • @Annie Robbins,

      According to the CBS interviewer, apparently. I was referring to the title of the Face the Nation interview w/ Meshaal, which I linked to.

    • @Kris,

      Thanks for writing them. What's really ridiculous is that this "seasoned journalist" doesn't even try to strike a formal "balance" and, even if in a lame manner, present "both sides." He simply reflects the most extreme Israeli view of the conflict, doesn't even bother w/ paying lip service to complaints of the other side, and essentially calls those falling for dead Palestinian babies as fools (unlike himself).
      I haven't yet watched the interviews on that program w/ Netanyahu & Meshaal, which I linked to, but the titles are suggestive. Netanyahu expresses his view of the current conflict, but the essential question for Meshaal to answer, even given the current killings, is recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

    • @Pixel,

      I provided the link; check their description.

    • Contrast Jon Snow with CBS's Bob Schieffer. In his commentary on today's (7/27/14) Face the Nation, Schieffer blames the Gaza conflict on Hamas terrorists getting their own kids killed for sympathy, which he says is working "in some [gullible] quarters," and then cites the well-known Golda Meir quote (which he's just discovered) about Arabs forcing Israel to kill their babies being worse than their killing of Israeli babies:
      Is there any difference between his commentary and Netanyahu's analysis? People should complain about the racism in his commentary.
      This program also included interviews w/ Netanyahu, "Benjamin Netanyahu denounces Hamas for violating cease-fire agreements," and Khaled Meshaal, "Will Hamas recognize Israel as a Jewish state?":

    • Meanwhile, the Jewish Agency is seeking donations in support of foreign jihadis:
      "Israel calls them the lone soldiers. They are men and women who left their parents behind in places like Ukraine, France, New York, London, Los Angeles and elsewhere to help defend Israel. Since Operation Protective Edge, three lone soldiers have been killed. Some have been injured.
      Donate $150 and receive a copy of the award-winning One Egg Is A Fortune coffee-table cookbook as a free gift!"
      "JAFI [Jewish Agency For Israel] in partnership with the Ministry of Immigration and IDF work together.
      This week, we buried soldiers from Morocco, Russia and Ethiopia here. Soldiers who fought for the Jewish nation."

  • Breaking: Israel shelling hospital in Beit Hanoun, injured Palestinians and internationals trapped inside
  • 'Israel is wrong by any moral standard' -- Robinson says, as US media pile up
  • In photos: Over 1,000 New Yorkers protest Israel's attack on Gaza
  • Finally, Israel is alienating the US mainstream media
    • Someone who'll, apparently, never abandon his cowboys-vs-savage-Indians diatribe is Bill Maher w/ a panel of like-minded propagandists:
      He even manages to drag in the number-of-Jewish-Nobel-laureates-vs-Muslim-ones argument into this Gaza discussion! He claims that good science is done by atheists, which can't exist in the Arab world. He, of course, forgets the contributions of the Muslim world to the development of science by observant Muslim scientists & philosophers when Europe wallowed in witch burning. He also forgets that some of history's top Western scientists have been religious of one sort or another, such as Isaac Newton & Leonhard Euler. In more modern secular times, most scientists (in Europe & its offshoots) tend to be secular or atheist. But there exist top Western scientists who are religious, including Jewish ones. One of the Muslim world's Nobel laureates that Maher is referring to was the late Pakistani physicist Abdus Salam, a devout Muslim from the Ahmadiyya branch of Islam (though the Ahmadiyyas have been persecuted in Pakistan).

  • Massacre in Gaza: At least 60 killed in Shuja'iyeh, over 60,000 in UN shelters
    • seafoid:

      I hope they continue to separate meat and dairy. Have to get the priorities right.

      The meat-dairy separation, as far as I know, originates in the Biblical command "Thou shalt not cook a kid in his mother's milk." (By "kid," of course, is meant a baby goat, not a human one, for which no boiling medium is specifically ruled out.) Subsequent rabbinic law expanded the injunction considerably, such as to include poultry and dairy: "Do not cook a chick in its mother's milk!"
      When I first came across this biblical injunction, my immediate impression was of an attempt to engender empathy towards food animals; be mindful of the suffering and deprivation inflicted on the slaughtered young animal and its mother, denied a nurturing opportunity. It's, of course, symbolic, as you are killing the kid, anyhow.
      So, some of those who observe this injunction fastidiously, would, nevertheless, not hesitate to kill human kids and adults indiscriminately, under whatever pretext, without much regard. Observe a law or ritual, but reject the spirit or the underlying moral message of it.

  • Activists occupy UK govt office demanding end to arms trade with Israel
  • Terror in Gaza: 57 seconds after 'warning,' Israel destroys a house
    • There seems to be some sort of mismatch between the 2 projectile hits in the clip. There's a larger white building which gets demolished after the missile hit. Beside it is the gray shorter building, which is the one that gets the mortar "knock on the roof or balcony" at the beginning. A person, apparently in white outfit, comes out on the gray roof/balcony around 0:55, and shortly thereafter is the missile hit, after which the white building lay in ruins but the neighboring gray one that got the "roof knock" is standing.

      In other words, it appears that the building that got the warning and the one that got the hit are not the same! Does that mean that the white building had gotten a warning earlier, as someone suggested above, and the gray one possibly got demolished later on? Or did the Israelis make a mistake in either the warning or the hit? In any case, it is terrorizing.

  • Protest the Israeli onslaught: Demonstrations planned worldwide against Israeli attack on Gaza
  • Video: Diane Sawyer misrepresents photo of Gazans in aftermath of Israeli bombing as Israeli victims of Palestinian missiles (Updated)
    • On the ABC evening news, just a few minutes ago, Sawyer clearly apologized for yesterday's error, saying she was "truly sorry," and correctly identified the family in the photo as being in Gaza.

  • What's your politically-correct World Cup bracket?
  • Why I pull against the U.S. in the World Cup
    • Besides international sports competitions, national sports events should be viewed more critically. Chomsky, e.g., considers national sports to be a highly organized attempt to nurture chauvinism and obedience to authority in the population. This also applies to various degrees to international competitions.

      The author mentions the case of Iran's soccer team. It's a big nationalist cause there w/ large public support. The public's reaction to the game vs Argentina appears to be what Rouhani indicated in the cited tweet. However, there have been differing voices. Sadegh Zibakalam, a political science prof. at Tehran University, recently made the controversial wish that Iran would not win, for 2 reasons.

      One was that, as he put it, the Iranian authorities would act similarly to those of the former Eastern Block countries, like the USSR & E. Germany, advertising athletic victories as evidence of the superiority of their system & ideology. The other was the chauvinism & racism that would follow a major win, interpreting it as an indication of the superiority of the heroic Iranian people and their glorious millennia-old civilization, and the like. Therefore, he argued, a loss would avert the ensuing government propaganda and national chauvinism that would contribute to masking the country's many shortcomings. So, perhaps, sports victories for underdeveloped/developing countries should also be viewed more critically.

      Incidentally, Zibakalam has recently been sentenced to 1.5 years in prison on the charges of propaganda against the Islamic Republic, spreading untruths to confuse the public mind and insulting the judicial authorities. The main culprit for his prosecution is apparently the complaint by the notorious editor of a hardline paper b/c of a letter the reformist Zibakalam wrote him criticizing Iran's nuclear program as mostly a waste of resources.

  • Analyst on NPR lets the cat out of the bag - briefly - about Washington's Iran obsession
    • The author quotes Sadjadpour saying that Khamenei "has stated consistently that Iran’s goal is not the military destruction of the Jewish state or the Jewish people, but the defeat of Zionist ideology and dissolution of Israel through a “popular referendum.”" He then laments that "Unfortunately, Sadjadpour doesn’t appear to have any particular sympathy for this perspective." Actually, neither do the editors of this site and probably the author himself, whether they realize it or not.

      The author, who cites from the profile of Khamenei, hasn't bothered to read the sentences immediately following that quote from Sadjadpour (page 20), where Khamenei is quoted as,
      "There is only one solution to the issue of Palestine ... [which] is to hold a referendum with the participation of all native Palestinians, including Muslims, Jews and Christians, the Palestinians who live both inside and outside the occupied territories. Any government that takes power as a result of this referendum and based on the Palestinian people’s vote, whether it is a Muslim, Christian or Jewish government or a coalition government, will be an acceptable government, and it will resolve the issue of Palestine. Without this, the Palestinian issue would not be settled."
      What does the author think the reference to "native Palestinians" means? Khamenei's proposed "popular referendum" includes all Palestinians inside or outside of Israel/Palestine, but excludes all Jews who cannot trace their ancestral connection to the land to before the Zionist settlement.

      This view was reiterated, for example, at the "International Conference on Palestinian Intifada" held in 2011 in Tehran, where Khamenei said,
      "We neither propose a classical war with the armies of Islamic countries, nor do we propose throwing Jewish immigrants into the sea or intervention of the United Nations and other international organizations. We propose a referendum among the Palestinian people. Just like any other nation, the Palestinian nation has the right to determine its own destiny and to elect its own government. All the original people of Palestine - including Muslims, Christians and Jews and not foreign immigrants - should take part in a general and orderly referendum and determine the future government of Palestine whether they live inside Palestine or in camps or in any other place. The government that is established after the referendum will determine the destiny of non-Palestinian immigrants who migrated to Palestine in the past."
      The references to "the original people of Palestine" and "not foreign immigrants," as well as the future gov't determining "the destiny of non-Palestinian immigrants who migrated to Palestine in the past," imply excluding immigrants and their descendants, which, I believe, would constitute a clear majority of Israel's population. This view of a "just resolution" of the conflict didn't originate w/ Khamenei and has been the Islamic Republic's ideological position since its inception. It's essentially the view espoused by the majority of the Arab and Islamic worlds pre-1967 war, after which the 2-state compromise took its place. So, is Sadjadpour's characterization of this view as “antiquated ideology” so outlandish?

      It should be pointed out, however, that, as far as I know, Iran has consistently voted w/ the global consensus in favor of the 2-state sol'n in international venues and has signed on to such a position taken by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, for more than a decade and a half. However, in rhetoric they have consistently maintained their ideological position and have vehemently denounced the 2ss (in favor of which they've voted) as betrayal of the Palestinian cause. Quoting from the same Khamenei speech at the Intifada Conference I linked to,
      "... our demand is the liberation of Palestine, not the liberation of a part of Palestine. Any plan to divide Palestine is completely unacceptable. The two-state idea which has been presented in the self-righteous clothing of "recognizing the Palestinian government as a member of the United Nations" is nothing but giving in to the demands of the Zionists - namely, "recognizing the Zionist government in Palestinian lands". This would mean trampling on the rights of the Palestinian nation, ignoring the historical right of the displaced Palestinians and even jeopardizing the right of the Palestinians settled in "1948 lands". It would mean leaving the cancerous tumor intact and exposing the Islamic Ummah - especially the regional nations - to constant danger. It would mean bringing back decades-long sufferings and trampling upon the blood of the martyrs. Any operational solution must be based on the principle of "all of Palestine for all Palestinian people". Palestine is the land that extends "from the river to the sea", not one inch less than that."

  • My Disillusionment with Hillel: Feeling censored and unwelcomed in the Jewish community
    • What's noteworthy about the author is her ethnic background, which she states as "first generation Jewish Iranian-American" in her profile. It is quite rare to find a Jewish Iranian-American, a community mostly concentrated in certain parts of LA & NY, to espouse anything but unconditional support for the more hawkish elements of Israeli leadership and policies. Prof. Saba Soomekh of Loyola Marymount U., herself an Iranian Jew, approvingly describes this fanatical worshiping of Israel:
      Soomekh considers the recent emergence of arms of AIPAC among Iranian-American Jewry, such as the youth group "30 Years After," as a rising civic involvement of that community in American politics. In fact, it's first & foremost AIPAC and its affiliates recruiting Iran.-Am. Jews to lobby for their cause.

      So Ms. Etehad is quite an exception and it would be interesting to hear of her experiences w/in her community on discussions of Israel. How have her family & friends reacted to her views and activities relating to Israel? Has she tried to open up the discussion w/in the Iran.-Am. Jewish community? Since she says that she gave up her activism w/in the Jewish student body at UCSD, I presume that she didn't interact w/ Iranian Jews in that regard either. Does she know of others in her community who have considered a more open discussion on Israel like herself? More than likely, if any other such examples exist, they would be of the younger generation. Etehad reminds one of David Shasha,
      who, if I recall correctly, hails from the Syrian-American Jewry, a community w/ similar uncritical attitudes towards Israel.

  • Iran & the Nuclear Question: Framing the debate, one picture (and one think tank) at a time
    • Should add that part of the reason the Jewish community in Iran may prefer to participate in such rallies, is also to avert suspicion and accusation by the more radical elements that they may be Israel's 5th column. Following Israel's assaults on Gaza, e.g., they also held rallies denouncing the attacks. In such cases, they probably consider it more imperative to hold such rallies, to whatever extent these may be gov't initiated.

    • The photo shows 2 banners. A couple of the Persian words on the one on the left are blocked but it seems to read, "We believe in the Islamic Republic of Iran['s right] to peaceful use of nuclear energy and insist on this issue." Can't read the Hebrew. The one on the right is half cut off, but the slide show at the Haaretz link
      contains a full photo of that banner, which in English reads, "Iranian monotheists are proud of suprene [sic] leader fatwa for prohibition of mass killing weapons", while in Persian reads, "Monotheist Iranians are proud of of the Supreme Leader's fatwa on the prohibition on the production and application of weapons of mass slaughter." That this crowd came to express support for the gov't's nuclear policies is more than likely gov't initiated, but is not much different from other such rallies that the gov't orchestrates. On many occasions, they also bring out school children, workers or other strata of society to participate in rallies. This sort of bring-out-the-right-crowd-for-the-right-occasion is common to authoritarian regimes. E.g., I haven't heard of a similar rally by the Zoroastrian or the much-larger Christian minorities. Presumably, b/c the Jewish community expressing support for the nuclear program makes more of a statement.

      However, in Oct., a letter signed by the head of the Tehran Jewish Committee and addressed to Obama was posted at the Committee's website,
      expressing support for the Islamic Republic in general and Rouhani's initiatives in particular, rejecting Netanyahu's claim that the recent elections weren't free and that Iranians don't have the right to wear jeans, and adding that the Jews of Iran have total freedom of worship. Was this the Committee head's own initiative and does it fairly represent the community's views? I don't know. But some such coming-outs in support of whatever the regime likes are clearly based on demand. E.g., a few days ago was Shi'ism's holiest occasion, Ashura, when large public expressions of mourning and self-flagellation take place across Iran. The state media put out clips of the "recognized religious minorities" participating in at least one such ceremony, expressing support for Shi'ism.

      Here are 2 such clips (in the 1st go to 00:40)
      where Zoroastrians & Christians are shown expressing envy towardsd the Shia and love and adoration for Shia holy figures. The announcer says that Jews are present at the ceremony as well (and a banner instructs that Muslims & non-Muslims should get their ceremonial free food from different areas). There are no political statements in these clips, purely religious (though religious is also used politically in Iran).

  • David Cameron and liberal Zionist groups try to shore up support for Iran deal
    • Since I brought up Kh.'s own tract on religious obligations, checking it out through the link @ states that, even though clerics differ on such a designation, Khamenei doesn't consider "people of the Book" as "najes" by nature.

    • "... was responded to with chants of “Death to America”— PM of Israel ... Netanyahu is evidently referring to a series of tweets from the account linked to Iran’s Supreme Leader." How is it so evident that it's about tweets if Israeli PM mentions Death-to-America chants? And how did the author miss the reports of Khamenei's speech the day before (w/ their usual chants), but not his tweets?

      The Supreme Leader is trying to maintain the radical pose even if he's going along w/ the current negotiations, in order to maintain credibility w/ the hardliners, who are his most devoted subjects, and perhaps also not to appear softer than Israel's hostile posturing. He'll probably make such hardline speeches even if the negotiations proceed on course, which should provide Netanyahu w/ ample propaganda opportunities.

  • Lift the cruel, unfair sanctions on Iran, and you can close the nuclear dossier
    • He [Ziabari] made no such claim. He is explaining the reason for Iran insisting the deal be kept confidential.

      Ziabari is simply deferring to state authority as to why details of a process that the public everywhere is highly interested in should be kept secret, projecting future blame on Iran's official enemies, "extremist and neo-conservative elements in the Western gov'ts." This is even less credible than Western analysts reiterating the state's claim that Assange, Manning & Snowden's revelations harm national security. Ziabari is just following the familiar pattern of state-approved journalists deferring to state authority whenever it demands so on the grounds of national interest or security. (It may be that Rouhani's side is also partly worried about the reaction of its own extremists, hence demanding secrecy, but cannot openly say so.)

      That’s debatable, seeing as the World Bank predicts the Iranian economy will grow in 2014. In fact, the sanctions have lead to improved efficiencies and diversification of the economy, namely reduced reliance on imports.

      Just referring to an analysis as "drek" is not a logical rebuttal. Al-Monitor is "drek" when I cite it, but you don't have objections when Ziabari refers to it for support in the article. Al-Monitor is "pro Washington," but you find The World Bank, part of the so-called "Washington Consensus" and a promoter of neoliberalism, as reliable. The kind of prediction you mention, had been made previously by other neoliberal outfits, such as the IMF, and Ahmadinejad himself. Even the current Rouhani administration doesn't buy it.

      The hardliners do not call the shots in Iran, the Supreme Leader does, and for decades, his fatwa against nukes has remained unchallenged. The hard liners may be opposed to Rouhani’s willingness to compromise on the nuclear program, but that doesn’t mean they are pushing for nukes. There are no nukes being developed or pursued in Iran and there never have been.

      The SL, Khamenei, is generally considered in the hardliner camp, although there's variation w/in each of these factions. The "hardliners" are generally the most loyal to and espouse the most extreme unwavering support for Khamenei. I didn't claim that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, or even that the hardliners/Khamenei intend as such; just that they don't necessarily want areas of confrontation w/ the US completely patched over.

    • The author is sympathetic to the Iranian gov't's demand that the contents of the current negotiations be kept confidential until an agreement is reached, arguing that the media would distort such disclosure to the detriment of the results. It's rather odd for a journalist to prefer to be kept in the dark about his gov't's activities and to express distrust in his own institution. But this is not really surprising given that Ziabari is a state-sanctioned Iranian journalist, meaning that he only publishes and advocates points of view that happen to be compatible w/ those of the Iranian authorities, as evidenced by the articles he's published at the site linked to at the end of his article. Therefore, he prefers not to be informed and keep his readers in the dark on certain issues, if that's how his gov't likes it. In other words, the name of the online journal he's published at notwithstanding, a "dissident voice" he is not. Maybe the author does not trust himself w/ handling the information properly, but he may wanna refrain from blanket accusations against the media in general, such as his prediction of "spreading falsehoods."

      Ziabari talks about the long history of sanctions on the Islamic Republic and their "devastating impact on the Iranian people." Although the effects of the sanctions on the Iranian public have been the most dire in the past year or two, the most significant failings of the Iranian economy prior to that period have been the results of mismanagement and corruption. As puts it, "The purpose of this study is to alert the international community to the mounting costs inflicted on the Iranian population by the current sanctions regime. To be sure, as the study has shown, regime policies have contributed significantly to the economic hardships of the Iranian people. Indeed, during the bulk of the existence of the Islamic Republic, poor government policies and inefficient and corrupt institutions far outweighed the impact of sanctions in impeding economic growth, producing a dysfunctional and vulnerable economy, and undermining the economic well-being of Iranians. Moreover, the Iranian government’s continued economic mismanagement, which reflects either a willful exacerbation of the sanctions’ effects for political gain or the result of managerial incompetence, has magnified the impact of the 2012 sanctions. Yet the fact remains that sanctions have now combined with regime policies to cause a severe deterioration in the living conditions of Iranians. Increasingly, the Iranian people have become unable to pursue their basic economic and social rights to employment, food, shelter, healthcare, and employment." During the last year or so of Ahmadinejad's administration, it was routine for various officials outside his faction to lay significant blame for the economic condition on mismanagement and corruption:

      The article's claim that the nuclear dossier can be closed once the sanctions are lifted, remains to be seen. While the opening presented by Rouhani's overtures should be pursued, there are hawkish forces w/in Iran that are not happy w/ agreements that may come out of these talks and seek to derail them. It remains to be seen how such factionalism plays out domestically in Iran.

  • The Desert of Israeli Democracy: A trip through the Negev Desert leads to the heart of Israel’s national nightmare
    • On his next trip to the Negev, Max needs to take the counter-protesters appearing in the following video for a tour and interview. This is, apparently, from a recent small protest against the Prawer plan and in support of boycotting settlement goods at some retailer in London. A group of Kahanist types crash on the protest and start their circus act, which picks up around 9:45 when the guy wearing a beret and a prayer shawl, who sounds American, starts screaming. One of them, an Iraqi Jew, talks about Palestinians, b/c of their culture and savagery, raping Kuwaiti women en masse during Saddam's invasion. The clip contains crass and lewd annotations w/ some quite offensive ones, such as referring to Rachel Corrie "being pancaked" (20:45):
      The police seem ineffective in maintaining proper order for the protest. Do they really believe that this kind of behavior is gonna positively impress the passersby, or are they just doing it for the kicks?

  • Rouhani statement on the Holocaust should lead to reconsideration of Ahmadinejad's similar message
    • In the post above I made a reference to Shirazi's webpage on Ahmadinejad's 2012 Quds Day speech @ and stated that he "completely overlooks posting a single translation of this [MA's] speech." Technically, NS quotes 1 line from that speech, regarding Zionist regime as an insult to humanity, presumably from English sources and w/o any links. No other quotes from that speech are entertained. By veering off into the topic of Israeli Apartheid, he's apparently implying that Ahmadinejad is on par w/ anti-Apartheid activists, completely ignoring and hiding from his readers the Protocols-of-the-Elders message of the speech.

      I should add that, contrary to what's attributed to Rosen in this post, I am not suggesting that editors of this site, or even Shirazi, are Holocaust deniers/revisionists themselves. The issue is honesty and accuracy by so-called progressives who adamantly present themselves as flag bearers of such standards.

    • Ridiculous article by a dishonest author. Lets look at the evidence Nima Shirazi (NS) brandishes for his claim that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (MA) had acknowledged Nazi genocide against Jews and was more or less saying the same thing that Rouhani's administration is saying, and then look at the evidence he deliberately omits. First note that, contrary to his conventional practice of disputing translations of IRI statements and going to the original Persian source for accurate translation, the author's links are either to American & Israeli, or non-existent sources. Shirazi refers to MA's Columbia U. speech and quotes WaPo's translation referring to "My first question was if -- given that the Holocaust is a present reality of our time, a history that occurred, why is there not sufficient research that can approach the topic from different perspectives?" But 1st part of MA's speech in the original Persian is @ where the referenced quote is around 22:00 min, "My 1st question was that if Holocaust is an historical event, why don't they allow researchers to research on it?" There's no reference to "present reality of our time, a history that occurred," but the usual "even if it's true, why not allow researching it?" Shirazi then quotes from the same source, though mistakenly links to another site, "I am not saying that it didn’t happen at all. This is not that judgment that I am passing here. I said ... granted this happened, what does it have to do with the Palestinian people?” The original Persian is around 7:30 min in the 2nd part @ "I'm not saying it didn't 'hap' [doesn't complete the phrase "didn't happen"], I'm not judging. In the 2nd question I made the assumption that it has happened and I said let's assume it happened, what does it have to do w/ the people of Palestine?"

      Shirazi then quotes MA from Ynet in 2006, "Don’t you think that continuation of genocide by expelling Jews from Europe was one of their [the Europeans'] aims in creating a regime of occupiers of Al-Quds?" and claims that this is a clear affirmation of the Nazi genocide. Again going to the original Persian, which NS has done when it's suited his purpose in the past but not now, @ in the last paragraph, MA actually says, "A question has occurred to me which I now present: don't you think that by establishing the fabricated regime of 'occupation of Jerusalem' and moving the Jews of Europe there is a sort of continuation of the same antisemitism, meaning that their goal was the expulsion of Jews from Europe and a sort of ethnic and religious cleansing?" There is no reference to a Nazi genocide or Holocaust against the Jews, but "traditional European antisemitism" and cleansing of Jews from that continent. But we shall see how MA maintains that view.

      The author then refers to MA's letter to Merkel through a dysfunctional link, where MA allegedly acknowledges "past wrongs." The original letter can be found @ where MA states,
      "For a while I have been thinking, why today some nations who can, and their history shows that in the past they have been able to, play important and prominent roles in material and spiritual advancement of humanity in various scientific, artistic, literary, philosophic and political arenas and be civilization-makers, are not permitted, as a great nation, to be proud of their historical achievements in a worthy manner and correctly play their constructive role on the global stage. Rather they [WWII victors] try to constantly maintain a black cloud of humiliation and disgrace and apology over their [Germans'] head. And even more unfortunate is that some officials and managers of that nation consider this situation worthy of themselves and their nation and defend it. Isn't this one of the wonders of the world today? Propaganda efforts since the second world war have been so extensive that some of them have believed that they are the historical culprits and have to pay for the sins of their fathers for consecutive generations till an undetermined time ... I do not intend to review the subject of Holocaust here. But isn't it logical that some victorious countries in the war have intended to create an excuse based on which they would constantly keep the people of the defeated country apologetic in order to weaken motive, movement and elation in them and pose a barrier to the advancement and deserved power of that country. In addition to the people of Germany, the people of the ME and, in fact, all of humanity have suffered losses from presenting the topic of Holocaust ... The question is that if these countries, and in particular England, feel responsibility vis-a-vis Holocaust survivors, why didn't they provide them a refuge in their own country and why, by starting the current of antisemitism, forced them to emigrate to the lands of others, and with the excuse of housing Holocaust survivors, they encouraged Jews worldwide to emigrate, and today an important part of the inhabitants of the occupied lands are non-European Jews ..." According to Shirazi, Ahmadinejad advising Merkel that German leaders have to realize that Germany has been victimized and should not be apologetic for its past, but rather proud of it, is evidence of "acknowledgement of past wrongs."

      But what does Shirazi leave out? Whatever doesn't suit his deceptive narrative. Here's MA in a 2012 Tehran interview w/ the German public TV as quoted at the official Iranian presidency website (with all the grammatical errors) @ "How did this nation, this regime came to be? It was a colonialist planning, everyone knows that it created by a lie ... They have invented a story with the title Holocaust ... President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the Holocaust a “lie” and accusing Zionist regime of using it to suppress Palestinians. Zionist regime statehood “was a colonialist plan that resulted from a lie,” ... Responding to this question, is that the reason that you once said "This country will vanish from the map?"President said we said that occupation and crimes have to be stopped and prevented lies." Ahmadinejad, it seems, feels a responsibility to instruct and correct Germans on their recent history. In his 2009 Quds day speech MA noted
      "After the 2nd world war they claimed that during this war the adventure of Holocaust has taken place and claimed that a large number of Jews have been killed in the ovens. In fact, they instituted 2 slogans; one is the the victimhood of the Jewish nation with complicated propaganda lies and plots and the creation of the psychological atmosphere that they are victims, and second that they need an independent land ... During the past 4 years I have discussed topics regarding their fake victimhood, but here I want to point out how rooted and fabricated this victimhood is ... Why don't you allow uncovering the secret of this [Holocaust] adventure and for truth and reality to be revealed?" Yet another example of his acknowledgement of the "fabricated Jewish victimhood."

      Or consider this 2013 article in an Iranian news site, titled "Renewed defense of the president [Ahmadinejad] of the slogan of Holocaust denial/people's farewell with Ahmadinejad," which quotes MA's 2011 Quds Day speech as "All the preludes to the establishment of this regime were based on lying and deception and one of these grand lies is the myth of the Holocaust." To let MA summarize it himself, in a July 2013 official farewell event in his honor, he insisted
      "The topic of Holocaust demolished the spine of the capitalist regime b/c it was the only remaining sacred element in the capitalist regime. God is not sacred there, the prophet is not sacred, values are not sacred. They were all prejudiced on one topic and no one should enter it. We are, like you, a Baseeji [those who would sacrifice for the cause]. We entered it head on [chuckles]." In other words, till the waning days of his presidency, MA was quite proud of his Holocaust denial, considering it a decisive blow, presumably to the "capitalist regime." Somehow Shirazi has not yet come across these sources. Maybe this knowledgeable author should contact MA's rivals in the presidential elections of (the disputed) 2009 and 2013 and correct them on their rejection of MA's Holocaust denials during the debates and interviews. Apparently, they had misunderstood Ahmadinejad.

      And then there is the whole Holocaust-denial industry that MA's presidency unleashed in Iranian media and officialdom that we won't get into. But since the author mentions the Holocaust cartoon contest that was ushered following the Danish newspaper's Mohammad cartoons, here are 20 short wonderful animations, tastefully named "Holocartoons," that the organizers of that contest have proudly provided for public viewing:
      Basically, don't miss any opportunity, no matter how unrelated, to deliver yet another blow to the "capitalist regime" by mocking the "fabricated Jewish victimhood" and suffering.

      Shirazi quotes Velayati regarding the Holocaust, but why waste time w/ the underlings when the alpha man, the Supreme Leader, himself can provide guidance. Here's Khamenei at a 2012 gathering of the clerics of the Assembly of Experts
      which is conveniently translated at Khamenei's official English site
      as "When a person expresses his objection to the myth of Holocaust and announced that he does not believe it, they throw him into prison. They sentence him to prison for denying a fictitious event. Even if we assume that the event is not fictitious, even if we assume that it is a true story, is it a crime to deny a true historical event? If a person is not convinced of the truth of the Holocaust and he denies the story or expresses doubt about it, he is thrown into prison. This is what they are doing in the European countries that claim to be civilized. If somebody protests the Holocaust, expresses doubt about it or denies it, European courts convict him in a court of law. However, when they openly insult the Holy Prophet of Islam (s.w.a.), that prominent man of the entire history of mankind, when they insult what 1.5 billion Muslims hold sacred, nobody is allowed to protest against their actions. Notice how wrong and disgraceful their frameworks are."

      Shirazi further claims that the "alleged" Holocaust denial is always accompanied by asserting the Palestinians' innocence in that even-if-we-assume-it's-true event. But such denial is usually accompanied by a whole narrative of history. Take for example one of MA's finest moments, his 2012 Quds Day speech. Real-time translation of it is provided courtesy of Iran's state PressTV @
      Starting around 11:25 min, follows his dialog on the "Zionists," which takes over half of the speech. I won't bother quoting verbatim, but a synopsis of it would be that "Zionists" for the past 2000 years have been responsible for the worst crimes against humanity, including slavery, colonialism (not just in Palestine), the 2 world wars, and much of current poverty and misery in the world. The "Zionists" dominate the world banking system, media and governments. But what is noteworthy here is that Shirazi made a post at his website @ about this speech. The author, who routinely demands accuracy in quoting Iranian officials and presents sometimes-multiple translations to that effect, somehow completely overlooks posting a single translation of this speech and instead quickly veers off into "Israeli Apartheid."

      On the lunatic and Protocols-of-the-Elders-inspired views of history, there have been many "historical documentaries" presented in Iranian state media, esp. during MA's presidency, elaborating and expanding on the views similar to the above speech of MA, which are available on the web. In fact, Ahmadinejad's vice president and close adviser, Mohammad Reza Rahimi, gave this lesson on "Zionist" mischief at an international conference:

      My issue here is not so much the pronouncements of IRI officials. But rather standards of honesty and accuracy that progressives demand and claim to uphold, but segments of which, with utmost hypocrisy, flush 'em down the toilet when it doesn't suit their preconceived narratives. Do those who engage in such deception, and, in the case of Shirazi, act as shills for the most lunatic and racist segments of Iranian gov't (rejected even by other segments of the same regime), expect to be taken seriously? And a question to editors of this site, using Ahmadinejad's favorite rhetorical/logical conditional: even assuming that (in a parallel universe) your go-to guy on Iranian affairs is a reliable and honest observer of such matters, do you really believe that always relying on the same person on such issues is providing the best understanding for your readers? Wouldn't some modicum of diversity of views be beneficial when it comes to a large country, diverse and complicated as Iran?

  • Global edition of 'NYT' runs op-ed against 'Arab women giving birth' in Israel
    • On the other hand, some mass media outlets are now uncharacteristically providing more balanced discussions of the occupation. NY metro's PBS station, Ch. 13, the largest in the country, recently featured "The Law in These Parts" & "5 Borken Cameras," along w/ director interviews and panel discussions representing the "2 sides." The 2 movies can be viewed at their website for a limited time (will be removed sometime in Sep.).

      The links ...
      The Law ...
      Discussion of "The Law"
      "The Law" director interview
      "5 Cameras"
      Discussion of "5 Cameras"
      "5 Cameras" director interview
      (The connections for these links may be intermittent.)

      The most hilarious of the panelists is the confrontational Brooke Goldstein of the LawFare Project in the 5-Cameras discussion, who even gets on the moderator's nerves. She starts off by claiming that 200 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the violent Bil'in protests, brandishing photos of some alleged victims. Later on, she talks about "innocent 18 or 19 year old Israeli soldiers who are there peacefully" being provoked by violent rock-throwing Palestinian kids, who are used as human shields by their elders. Goldstein also accuses Huwaida Arraf, also on the panel, and her International Solidarity Movement of praising suicide bombings and of being in bed w/ Hamas & Islamic Jihad. And the evidence for all this, she claims, "is on the internet." As if ...

    • Page: 1
  • Iranian president's description of occupation as a 'wound' echoes Obama's description of conflict
    • @Donald,

      Safe to say no state follows that dictum; it's not specific to Iran, Israel or the US.

    • @just

      Since you consider it the "eternal screed of the hasbarists" to suggest that states & their leaders should primarily focus on & answer for their own crimes, and since I'd presume you're not a "hasbarist," it would follow that you'd advise the Israeli state to engage more in trash talking its enemies by focusing on their misdeeds and to stop being too harsh on itself.

    • @yrn,

      The "cancerous tumor" quote is from Ah.'s 2012 Quds Day speech. He made those comments in reference to the 2-state sol'n. He was rejecting the 2ss as a matter of principle. Most of that speech consisted of Protocols-style antisemitism, such as "Zionists" have been responsible for the worst of human misery for the past 2000 years, including slavery, colonialism, the 2 world wars and present-day world-wide poverty. He also called on the world to unite in ending this historic enemy of mankind once and for all.

      It's fair to denounce extremist speech. However, these statements (by Ah.) are not pronouncements of plans of action. The Israeli claims that such rhetoric indicate Iranian intention of annihilating Israel ASAP are highly exaggerated propaganda.

    • States, like people, should stop their own crimes & misdeeds before crying for those of their official enemies. The Iranian gov't should set its own house in order, irrespective of the model Israel follows.

    • The curious thing that has mostly escaped attention so far is that much of these mistranslations originate from Iranian sources themselves. ISNA, the original source of the Rouhani mistranslation, is an Iranian news agency. The "wipe-Israel-off-the-map" translation was also at first provided by a semi-official Iranian organization. There are other examples. The more radical news outlets in Iran are notorious for outright fabrication of "news." So these mistranslations are small change to them (although ISNA is of more of a reformist bent).

    • The Iranian president would do well to address the various injustices and apartheids that his Islamic Republic perpetrates on its own population before shedding crocodile tears for Palestinian suffering. He should start by healing the wounds and sores on "the body of the Islamic world" that are now under his presidential purview, thereby setting a model for others to follow.

  • Hey New York, get ready for the big (anti-Zionist) parade!
  • J Street is no longer on outs with Netanyahu
    • W.Jones,
      What exactly had J St. proposed for the borders inside the Palestinian territories? Is it a modification of pre-67 border to include settlements w/ mutual exchange of territory? If so, did they intend to x'fer Israeli Palestinians in such an exchange?

    • So you're confirming my interpretation that Weiss is objecting to the 2ss on principle? Even if it were to become feasible, he & like-minded BDS'ers would campaign against such an outcome, and the we-don't-support-2ss-b/c-it's-not-feasible-anymore pose, that's ubiquitous on this site, is just a ruse?

    • I haven't followed the organization, so I'm not clear as to what is implied by "J Street ... pushed for fixing borders (inside Palestine) that would allow Israel to maintain a Jewish majority," w/ no references provided. Is "Palestine" referring to historic Palestine, and "borders" to the pre-1967 ones? Is this a complaint about their advocacy for the internationally-recognized 2-state-sol'n?

  • Islamophobia is as widespread and acceptable as anti-Semitism used to be
    • It's doubtful if "words by Khamenei" mean less than words by Philip's dentist & computer repair guy. Khamenei himself may be quite dismayed at hearing the pooh-poohing of his influence, given Iran's influence in several countries in the region. And for 77 million in Iran his words may not "mean little."

    • In situations of political or military conflict, demonization of the official enemy is the norm. It would precede my earliest recollections, but I don't believe that prior to about 30 years ago (but sticking to more modern times) there was much demonization of Islam in the West. Iran, for example, used to be associated w/ fine oriental art (as in Persian carpets & poetry), ancient liberator of Jews (per the Cyrus cylinder) and friend of the West (as a hospitable client state). But now "Iranian" evokes mad hostage-taking Mullahs. Arabs fared not as well, mainly due to their conflict w/ Israel, but even the anti-Arab sentiment back then wasn't couched in anti-Islam diatribe, as the Arab side was mostly led by seculars.
      This dehumanization of the official enemy is used by both sides to rationalize the enmity. As an example from the other side, you have last week's speech by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, at a women's gathering, in which he called the "European races" "savages by nature" who are violent towards women. It would be as if Obama, in a speech to a women's gathering, were to claim that the Middle-Easterners are savages by nature, who can do no better than abuse their womenfolk, in contrast to our Judeo-Christian civilization. Or other examples of crude antisemitic views expressed in Iranian state media and by some of their high-ranking officials. Countering such irrational dehumanization on both sides would help diffuse the conflict and restore sanity.

  • Dershowitz should stop lying about Tutu's record
    • Dershowitz forgot to include the evil archbishop's gross failure in condemning Israel's main official enemy, the Islamic Republic of Iran, as yet another instance of Tutu's hypocrisy: 1 2 3
      Why can't all these so-called human rights advocates share the law professor's impeccable even-handedness on such matters?

  • The power of Stephen Hawking
  • US promotes regional states/Israeli alliance against Iran while leading provocative naval drills in the Gulf
  • One-woman wrecking crew of Jewish community's image, Geller brings her show to Toronto
  • 'The policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster': Stephen Hawking pulls out of conference hosted by Shimon Peres, backs academic boycott of Israel (Updated)
    • Apparently, the Palestinians haven't completely boycotted the conference, as Munib Al-Masri, a member of the Palestine Legislative Council, aka the "Duke of Nablus" and the "Palestinian Rothschild," is on the list of speakers:
      There are several scientists on the list, including the American Nobel laureate in physiology Richard Axel. But I'd guess that Hawking would have been the best-known scientist to the general public. Among politicians on the list are Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo, and the monarch of Monaco. Most likely Al-Masri and Gorbachev will advocate for the two-state solution, but I don't know what the others will be saying.

  • NPR blames the victim: Emad Burnat brought suffering to Bil'in by filming occupiers
  • Meet the Knesset's newest settler members
    • A quick wiki search turns up the following quotes from Feiglin, which further illuminate his mindset:
      "Why should non-Jews have a say in the policy of a Jewish state?... For two thousand years, Jews dreamed of a Jewish state, not a democratic state. Democracy should serve the values of the state, not destroy them... You can’t teach a monkey to speak and you can’t teach an Arab to be democratic. You’re dealing with a culture of thieves and robbers. Muhammad, their prophet, was a robber and a killer and a liar. The Arab destroys everything he touches."
      "Hitler was an unparalleled military genius. Nazism promoted Germany from a low to a fantastic physical and ideological status. The ragged, trashy youth body turned into a neat and orderly part of society and Germany received an exemplary regime, a proper justice system and public order. Hitler savored good music. He would paint. This was no bunch of thugs. They merely used thugs and homosexuals."
      Based on his Ahmadinejad, Muhammad and Hitler comments, he, presumably, would not be raising the usual specter of Ahmadinejad-as-modern-day-Hitler.

    • Here's a 2010 speech/Q&A in LA by Feiglin, who was The Jewish Leadership party candidate:
      He wants the role of Israel as a special Jewish state to be emphasized internationally, so that it is not expected to behave like any other member of the family of nations, and wants his audience to recognize that the fate of world Jewry rests upon the success of Israeli policies. Around min 22:40 he states, "The problem is not Iran. The problem is Ahmadinejad and he should be killed," and goes on to explain how the assassination of Ahmadinejad would save millions of lives. We also learn from him that at the time of the Iran-Iraq war Ahmadinejad was already a high-ranking figure in the Islamic Republic and was personally responsible for sending thousands of kids, armed w/ Chinese-made keys to heaven, as human waves to clear mine fields.

      Feiglin propagates the ignorant or propagandist view, common in right-wing circles, of raising the bogeyman of Ahmadinejad as the ultimate dictator of the IRI, whereas anyone w/ a minimal knowledge of the Iranian system knows that decisions such as direction of nuclear technology and engagement in war are prerogatives of the Supreme Leader. Ahmadinejad doesn't have the authority to make such decisions and will be leaving office in a few months. Furthermore, while there's a debate about the use of children by Khomeini's regime in the Iran-Iraq war, no one else has suggested that Ahmadinejad, who was in his late 20s and did not have any high position in the system at the time, had any role in that matter. Feiglin is rolling all the living & dead leadership of the IRI during the past 30 years into the bugbear of Ahmadinejad, who should be eliminated for the sake of saving mankind.

  • Brooklyn College BDS event appears likely to go forward (as JVP explains it is in no way anti-Semitic)
    • Maybe the opponents of this event can employ the tactic that the Christian Zionist students at UC Irvine are participating in, namely cultivating supporters through high-tech job prospects:

      The student leader in the clip claims that "anti-Semitic" activism is not popular at UCI anymore, which must be why they'd rather entice students w/ high-tech prospects than engage in human-rights debates. Sounds like a birth-right trip for those w/ no such birth right.

  • Obama in Tehran
    • Apparently, there's a whole different subtext to this billboard which even the Guardian article didn't notice. After poking around some Iranian sites, I came across a pro-gov't one that, while admiring the billboard, pointed out that the design of the captions is meant as a jab at the BBC. There's the larger caption in red, followed by the smaller ones in white & gray. This is a rough imitation of the caption design in BBC news. Here's a random example from BBC Arabic news, w/ the red, white & gray captions & news feed:
      BBC Persian follows a similar format.

      The Islamic Republic has been waging an intense PR campaign against foreign news media aimed at Iranians, such as BBC Persian & VOA Persian, w/ BBC Persian as the main target, since it's quite popular inside Iran. Iranian media routinely run pieces about BBC Persian journalists being spies or engaged in corrupt practices. BBC satellite broadcasts have been jammed. Iranians granting interviews to the BBC risk prosecution and families of BBC journalists have been harassed & detained:

      This vilification campaign includes cyber warfare. The IRI has been setting up fake websites & Facebook pages to discredit the BBC. This is the actual BBC Persian site:
      And this is an imposter one set up from Iran, as indicated by its URL domain suffix, w/ an abundance of exclamation points (!!!):
      At the moment, at the fake site you can read headlines such as, "BBC's disrespect on the sorrowful 40th of [Imam] Hussein (PBUH)," "BBC and alcoholic beverages," "Colorful presence of BBC Persian's female anchor after rape [referring to fabricated news of rape among BBC Persian journalists]," "Rescue project for BBC Persian's spies; the Queen enters!," "Death of Bin Laden and Saddam, Washington's fabricated story," "America responsible for Egypt's recent events," "Iraq the next prey to Turkey, Arabia and Qatar." It's meant to trick Iranian visitors of the site w/ IRI-style news items disguised as BBC pieces. They've also set up fake Facebook pages in which BBC Iranian staff "confess" to various corrupt, immoral or criminal practices:
      Pieces from these fake sites & profiles are routinely presented in Iranian media as real evidence.

      So beside the billboard's overt message of defiance against the US, there's a subtler anti-BBC message. If the designers expected the passersby to pick up on that message, it'd suggest their recognition that many Iranians view & are familiar w/ the BBC. This may be part of the gov't's propaganda efforts in the lead up to the upcoming presidential election. Not so ironically, the BBC is heavily blamed by Iranian Monarchists for fueling the 1979 revolution by its shortwave broadcasts of protest events, when the Iranian media were censoring such news at the time.

    • Shemr & Yazid were not the same character. Yazid was the evil Caliph & Shemr was his henchman who beheaded Imam Hussein (IH):
      The billboard depicts Shemr. The annual Ashura mourning of IH's martyrdom at the hands of his oppressors is probably the topmost religious event in Iran. The imagery of that battle is widespread in the Iranian political discourse. The gov't claims that it represents IH & its enemies from the Shah to the US & Israel represent Yazid. In the 2009 pro-democracy protests, Mir Hussein Moussavi's supporters would chant slogans claiming he's on IH's side. The MEK uses an analogous religious imagery. So both the religious imagery and its political invocation are well-known to the average Iranian. And the smaller caption on the billboard claims that the same statement, "Be w/ us, be safe," was uttered by both Obama in 2013 & Shemr. I don't see why it would imply that Obama is necessarily a Muslim. Too bad Obama is also a Hussein.

  • The latest existential threat to Israel? Those Russians the world was implored to free
    • Since it's not practical for most not-fully-Jewish Israeli couples to travel abroad just for a marriage certificate, esp. since they wouldn't go to present neighboring countries, you could make yet another argument for the 2-state sol'n. For if a Palestinian state were to be established, the Israelis could just take a short bus trip across the border to Palestine, the gov't of which would issue a marriage certificate to interfaith or not-all-Jewish couples. Such Israeli couples then have a practical option, w/ less pressure on the gov't to alienate the religious block by allowing civil interfaith marriages, and the new Palestinian gov't could have an extra source of revenue. So replace the Qalandiya checkpoint w/ an Israeli-friendly marriage bureau in a Palestinian state.

    • I dunno if this recent campaign ad by the Shas against converting & marrying the said Russians was posted at this site or not:

  • Roots of Resistance: Israeli repression reminiscent of the first intifada may provoke a new uprising
  • The AP's George Jahn serves up Israeli propaganda on Iran yet again
    • Peter in SF,

      My point is not that your interpretation of "kT" (constant times temperature) is all that far-fetched. It's quite possible that the graph is for a system where a range of temperatures are to be considered, and placing "kT" inside or outside the parentheses is more a matter of personal preference. But if you wanna be more generous to the atom-bomb story, then the "kiloton" interpretation of "kT" may be a simpler one. Of course, the issue w/ the discrepancy between the power and energy curves remains in either case.

    • Since 1 kiloton TNT=4.184 TJ (TJ, TeraJoules, is a trillion Joules), if the units on the (left side) power axis were changed from kilotons/second (kT/sec) to 100 MJ (M, Mega, is a million), then the 2 curves would be roughly consistent and the energy curve would be showing a final yield equivalent to 2.5 times that of the Nagasaki bomb. I don't think such creative reinterpretations of the graph are particularly meaningful, but since you were looking for some way of making sense of the discrepancies in the graph ...

    • The way "kT" is placed on the graph is not the conventional way if "T" was meant to be a variable like temperature. But if you nonetheless interpret "T" as such, then the graph, as presented, is totally meaningless to the viewer, b/c "T," and, hence, the output energy, could vary between 0 & infinity. In other words, the graph could just as readily be referring to the energy output of a small flash light as to that of a superbomb that could destroy the solar system.

    • Your interpretation of "kT" as "Boltzmann's constant times temperature" does not apply to the graph, since the "kT" placed in parentheses as part of the axis labels indicates unit of measurement, whereas your interpretation of "kT" does not specify a unit, but a variable. As far as the lower/upper case convention (t/T) for tons, there doesn't seem to be such a definitive convention as you claim; I've seen it specified in both cases, although "t" is more common. These, however, are minor points.

  • Winona LaDuke: 'We can't talk about Israel because we are Israel'
    • If the editors of this site would read their own site, not to mention outside sources, more attentively, then they might not try to give credit for originality to their own writers for observations made by others before them. Horowitz seems to be implying that LaDuke & Shirazi came up w/ the connection in the American mainstream perception between the treatment of the American Indians & the Palestinians. But the co-editor could have read the comment by "Hostage" on 9/12/12 at 6:44 pm @
      where he quotes Chosmky from
      as, "... there are independent reasons why Americans tend towards Israel. Remember, this is a long-standing relationship that goes back long before Zionism. There’s an instinctive identification that’s unique. There’s the American Indian comparison, you know, the barbaric redskins trying to prevent progress and development and attacking innocent whites: that’s Israel-Palestine. In fact, it’s right there in the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, the most libertarian of the founding fathers. One of the charges in the Declaration against King George III is that he unleashed the merciless Indian savages against us, whose known way of warfare is torture and killing and so on. That could come straight out of Zionist propaganda. This is a very deep strain in American culture and history. After all, the country was founded by religious extremists who were waving the Holy Book and describing themselves as children of Israel returning to the Promised Land. So Zionism found its natural environment here ... For many Americans, it’s just instinctive that the Jews in Israel are reliving our history. They recognize themselves, and furthermore they recognize the crusaders who succeeded in throwing out the pagans. There’s the analogy to the American conquest of the national territory, the Zionists use this analogy as well, but positively. We are bringing civilization to the barbarians, which is after all the whole core of Western imperialist ideology. It’s very deeply rooted."
      Chomsky had made similar comments in previous interviews and lectures, as well. Did LaDuke or Shirazi make such statements before Chomsky? It's quite possible that Chomsky may have been influenced by other writers on these views, but I doubt if LaDuke or Shirazi were the ones. This is not to imply that such a view is not worth repeating by others, but to whether it's honest to claim originality for it.

  • From London to Cairo to Barcelona, Gaza assault sparks protests
  • Video: Israeli rightwing parliamentarian calls for 'erasing' Gaza because no one there is innocent
    • The following video shows the anti-war demonstration to which the above right-wing mob was reacting from across the street:
      A positive indication is that the loony demonstrators don't appear to outnumber the anti-war ones. Perhaps it indicates that, in spite of their support for the attack, most Israelis are still not attracted to such extremist displays.

  • On the Jewish Israeli street, there's no solution to Palestinian issue but more violence
    • Since the Israel-Palestine conflict is often compared to Apartheid S. Africa, it's noteworthy that even though a minority of blacks have risen to positions of power and privilege, generally the black majority is economically worse off than during the Apartheid era:

    • With each major attack or war, Israel's options for the next attack/war become more constrained. Israel is having difficulty pulling a Cast Lead in this attack; its war options are shrinking. And w/ each attack Gaza & Hamas become more politically integrated into the Arab world, witness the parade of officials from the Arab countries & Turkey that have visited Gaza in the past few days or are scheduled for tomorrow. This increasing integration will also constrain Hamas' exercise of armed options, as diplomacy will be considered the preferred choice. Another constraining factor on Israel's military options is Hamas' increasing missile range.

    • "... no solution to Palestinian issue but more violence ... None of them paid even lip service to the two-state solution. Many expressed fears of Islamists taking power ... "I don't see a solution with the Arab" ... "Kill them all" ... not interested ... in human rights ... existential struggle that demands the law of the jungle."
      And yet many on this site steadfastly hold that the only viable solution to the conflict is a single democratic/binational state, where Netanyahu & Abbas take turns as heads of the ruling coalition, Barak & Jaabari's successor jointly supervise IDF al-Qassam military exercises with Nassrallah as a dignitary observer, Livni & Haniyeh hold hands while campaigning as the loyal opposition shuttling from the River to the Sea, and the Israeli & Palestinian flags have merged into the world's first psychedelically sext-colored (bi)national emblem featuring a post-Zionist Ahmar al-Davood symbol. The last sentence of the blog should be reiterated w/ a minor modification to read, "Who cannot observe these attitudes and wonder about the wisdom of establishing a single democratic/binational state."

  • Day Four of Israeli Attack on Gaza: Death toll hits 46 in Gaza, 381 civilians wounded; Israel destroys Ismail Haniya's office in Gaza City; Cairo hosting cease-fire talks
  • Video: Palestinian women occupy Israeli military base in West Bank to protest Gaza attack
  • An 'industry' built on hate: How the right-wing successfully brought anti-Muslim bigotry into the American mainstream
  • Israeli film 'The Gatekeepers' brings truths about occupation that Palestinians are vilified for saying
  • Courage in the face of intimidation: Rebuilding to remain
    • Speaking of (re)building on Arab land, the following ad was emailed to JPost subscribers recently,
      form which one may quote, "Arabs are buying and/or squatting all over Galilee (Northern Israel) Lands. Help save Jewish Sovereignty in Galilee ... Help stop the erosion of Jewish Control of the Galilee!" along w/ links to articles such as "Jews May Lose Out to Arab Encroachment" & "Illegal Arab Occupation and Unhindered Arab Building."

      When you click on the "Donate Now" button you're taken to their website w/ posts such as
      Notice that at the top of their site they mention involvement in charity work such as feeding the hungry & helping the sick. Are these charity works covers for their main effort? How many ostensibly Israeli charity groups are in fact fronts for extremist ethno-religious nationalism?

  • Josh Block likens Iran to Nazi Germany
  • American Jewish relationship with Israel is debated at New School
    • The full video of the Baltzer-Finkelstein debate is up @
      Finkelstein comes across as a more seasoned and persuasive debater. I don't think Baltzer, eloquent in her lecture, though somewhat ruffled during the debate, was convincing in her responses or when it came to specifics.

  • Israelis celebrating Sukkot beat Palestinians worshipers
  • Anti-Obama infomerical confirms Israel's role as a partisan election issue
    • "There's no indication from RightChange's website or their YouTube video feed they are an Israeli centric group." But the nonchalant plug for Birthright Israel by the narrator towards the beginning of the clip suggests collaboration between the 2 groups.

  • The crisis of the Israel lobby
  • A sharp response to the effort to link Palestinian refugees and Jewish ones
    • Jonathan Cook @ :
      "This month, the Israeli foreign ministry and US Jewish organisations formally launched the initiative, staging a conference in New York a few days before the opening sessions of the General Assembly. Israel's choice of arena - the UN - is not accidental. The campaign is chiefly designed to stifle the move announced by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his General Assembly speech last week to begin seeking UN status for Palestine as a non-member state. After opposition from the US forced the Palestinians to abort their bid for statehood at the UN Security Council last year, Mr Abbas is expected to delay making his new request until November, after the US presidential election campaign to avoid embarrassing President Barack Obama. Mr Abbas's move has spurred Israel to take the offensive. Anyone who doubts that the Israeli government's concern for Arab Jews is entirely cynical only has to trace the campaign's provenance. It was considered for the first time in 2009, when Mr Netanyahu was forced - under pressure from Mr Obama - to deliver a speech backing Palestinian statehood. Immediately afterwards, Mr Netanyahu asked the National Security Council, whose role includes assessing strategic threats posed by the Palestinians, to weigh the merits of championing the Arab Jews' case in international forums. The NSC's advice is that Arab Jews, known in Israel as Mizrahim and comprising a small majority of the total Jewish population, should be made a core issue in the peace process. As Israel knows, that creates a permanent stumbling block to an agreement. The NSC has proposed impossible demands: contrition from all Arab states before a peace deal with the Palestinians can be reached; a decoupling of refugee status and the right of return; and the right of Arab Jews to greater compensation than Palestinian refugees, based on their superior wealth. Israel is working on other fronts too to undermine the case for Palestinian refugees. Its US lobbyists are demanding that UNRWA, the UN agency for the refugees, be dismantled. And bipartisan pressure is mounting in the US Congress to count as refugees only Palestinians personally displaced from their homes in 1948, stripping millions of descendants of their status."

  • Anti-Iran street theater group denies it has Israel agenda. Wait a second--
  • Video: Israeli kids in the army museum ('I picture a dead Arab and that makes me happy')
    • The hope was that after the lion and the lamb lie together, not only would both get up again, but so would a hitherto-unknown "limb," which would be a miracle, since interordinal animal hybrids have not been observed:

    • Good to see that the army museum has succeeded in its mission to instill the Biblical Swords-into-Plowshares & Spears-into-Pruninghooks spirit in the kids. Clear sign that w/in a generation the lion and the lamb shall be lying together in the Holy Land.

  • Romney dirge for two-state solution causes widespread panic among those fearing for Israel
    • "A demilitarised Jewish population in Erez Israel would cop on very quickly. " And, short of an invasion, who's gonna demilitarize a conventional and nuclear power like Israel? Israel will probably use its nukes before allowing its own dismantling.

    • Chomsky's arguments regarding the 2ss as a path towards the 1ss are stated in this interview from last year at min 35 of the video:

      Barat did another interview w/ him a couple of year ago discussing related topics more generally:

    • "Avnery is disappointing “The possibility ... [of] one state ... is nil.” Why?"
      His reasons are quoted above: "Both peoples are intensely nationalistic ... have different cultures ... there is intense hatred between them." And in his article at
      he adds, "study the history of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Sudan, and the present situation of the French in Canada, Scots in Britain, Flemish in Belgium and Basques and Catalans in Spain," and suggests that "co-existence can take different forms: from a loose confederation with open borders and free movement to closer forms of evolving structures, like the European Union."
      His reasoning for advocating the internationally-recognized 2ss (not Israel's Bantustan version) is essentially the same as that of Chomsky.

  • Palestine: the path toward Iranian de-escalation
    • "If the Palestinian-Israeli conflict were to disappear, Iran would be deprived of its self-styled role as fearless champion of the Palestinian cause – the pretext that provides cover for Iran's quest for regional hegemony, that gives its anti-Zionist threats popular support on the Iranian and Arab streets, and that drives its fervent "Death to Israel" scapegoat policy."
      While it's true that the IRI uses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to divert attention from its internal problems, Israeli leaders of both Labor & Likud would also like the "Iranian existential threat" to be around as an attention-grabbing bogeyman, since both Israeli parties prefer a world distracted from the viable-Palestinian-state demand. It's a mutually-beneficial antagonism between Iran & Israel.

  • In new leaked tapes, Romney rejects two-state solution - 'The idea of pushing on the Israelis to give something up to get the Palestinians to act is the worst idea in the world'
    • Unlike the other parts of the Romney tape which dissed Obama supporters as free-loaders and got widely reported, I doubt if these parts of the tape, revealing his views on the US-Israeli-Palestinian conflict, will get widely reported or denounced in the mainstream media. It wouldn't be considered as scandalous as the voter-dissing part. Also, watching the Republicans carving up and eating their food, w/ cutlery noise & all, while Romney is rejecting any Palestinian sovereignty, is symbolic of Israel carving up and devouring the WB while Romney would be presiding over the Mideast conflict.

  • Moses and Mohammed are not equivalent figures in Jewish and Islamic faiths
    • In fact, according to NYT, members of the Iranian delegation at that meeting were taken aback by Rahimi's speech. There were speculations at the time that Rahimi did this to bolster his "radical" credentials, since the Iranian judiciary has been investigating him for fraud. In other words, to take the heat off of himself, he was willing to damage his country's interests, which he's supposed to be safeguarding.

      But demonizing aspects of Judaism that are not part of the Islamic tradition, can occasionally be found in the Iranian media. The small Jewish community in Iran, which is allowed to practice its religion and overall is not treated worse than other religious minorities in Iran, sometimes protests such portrayals of their faith. E.g., here's an open letter written in Persian to Rahimi by the Tehran Jewish Committee, which represents Jews of Iran, posted at their site following his speech:
      The letter politely advises Rahimi that he has a misunderstanding of the Talmud, which couldn't have advocated drug use or smuggling, that Zionism & Judaism should not be confused, per Khomeini's directive, and that such statements hurt Iran's standing internationally and serve the enemy, and offers to educate Rahimi on the Talmud. Rahimi's office replied back politely that he respects "true" Jews and their divine religion, was condemning Zionism, not Judaism, for many crimes including the international drug trade, and that foreign media had distorted his speech for propaganda purposes:
      (His speech, which was published w/ the same content in Iran, speaks for itself.)

    • "So two comments ago the Muslims were “demonising Judaism” but now we need an Judeo-Moslem alliance?"
      That's b/c after 2 comments & a spoonful of rants, even Muslims will desist from demonizing their allies.

      "Yup, another not-a-Zionist."
      Definitely not a Zionist; too petty bourgeois. But a ZioNazi IslamoFascist? Now that's a tattoo to wear w/ pride.

    • Your reference to the deicide charge brings up a worthy opportunity. As is well known, both Islam & Judaism deny paternal deity for Jesus, since it smacks them of violation of monotheism. The deicide charge suggests that the son of god and man's ultimate redeemer, JC, could not defend himself against mere humans, further violating monotheism by questioning the Lord's omnipotency. It's time for a Judeo-Islamic common cause to convert the infidel creed known as Christianity, whose members constituted the first Zionists planning the desecration of that holiest of lands.

    • "Really, Unconscious?" This is the 2nd time you've called me "unconscious," apparently equating the unconscious w/ mindlessness. This reminds me of creationists who are most offended by suggestions that their most glorious intellectual abilities could have possibly evolved from the lowly monkey of a couple of million years ago. So, as a friendly gesture, you may wanna tell your creationist neighbors to start tapping more into their unconscious:

      I dunno if it was done consciously on your part or not, but the logical transition from your "Really unconscious" paragraph to the subsequent "Zionist" one is nonexistent. My reference to the ultra-orthodox was in the same vein as the title of the blog, purely in religious attitudes. So it could as well apply to the anti-Zionist ultra-ortho.

    • The claim in the title, while it may be true depending on one's interpretation of theologies, is not particularly explanatory b/c it's too general, and the author doesn't really provide any argument to support it other than to say people can have different sensibilities, like Goldberg who's more sensitive to criticism of his favored state rather than a religion. Just b/c Hirsch has made a determination about the role of certain prophets in some religions, it doesn't explain specific reactions in various countries. For example, it appears that most Muslims in the world, though probably offended by the film, didn't necessarily support the riots. Some ultra-orthodox Jews may get as riotous if Muslims insult their holy figures. (And how are Christians supposed to react to Jesus insults, since he's even more of a focus in their religion than Mohammad in Islam?) And just like Goldberg has religious-like attachment to his holy state of Israel, there could be similarities among Muslims, as well. An example being the cult of personality created around Iran's Supreme Leader, Khamenei, who's essentially revered as a religio-political leader by some of his more fanatical followers.

      There's also the issue of consistency. It's perfectly reasonable for the Muslim world to demand cessation of insult to their religion as part of their culture. However, they should also be equally sensitive to similar insults in parts of the Muslim world towards other religions. An example would be the Iranian gov't, which also protested the racist film. Occasionally, though, gov't officials or state media demonize other Abrahamic religions such as Baha'ism & Judaism. The case of the Baha'i persecution, w/ occasional demonization of their religion in the media, is well known:
      And a recent example of demonizing Judaism was the speech of IRI's vice president at an international forum:

  • In caving on Jerusalem, Dems pulled back the curtain on the lobby
  • Dems buckle, will add language to party platform referring to Jerusalem as Israel's capital
    • On the bright side, at least Obama has not yet officially conceded Wash. D.C. as the other indivisible and eternal capital of the Likud.

    • Fanaticism has its inadvertently-humorous side.

    • Somebody filmed that segment of the convention from his TV and bit his tongue till the end, when he blurted out his feelings about the defeated terrorists who have infiltrated the Dem Convention:

  • Dems have thrown two-state solution under the bus -- J Street and Beinart say
  • Israeli rabbi with ties to gov't calls for obliterating Iranian leaders 'from the face of the earth'
    • MEMRI, w/ which I assume you're familiar, routinely finds media clips of or articles by individuals making inciteful comments in the Muslim M.E., suggesting that the Muslims are fanatics posing grave danger to the Jews. Do you also think it's important that they keep looking for these fringe fanatics in the Muslim world? O.Y., of course, is not just a fringe figure; he can affect viewpoints of the important religious block. And that's what's important about it. From that viewpoint, it doesn't matter much even if Yosef tomorrow reassures everyone that he definitely meant the Iranian regime/leaders and not the country in general. If that convinces his flock that the Iranian gov't should be attacked, then they'll support the Israeli gov't on that, and that's all the gov't needs. Bush II only needed the Americans to believe that the Iraqi gov't was a mortal threat to them, in order to launch the war. He never claimed that the Iraqi nation as a whole was a threat that needed to be eliminated, and he didn't need to. As far as the Shas block supporting the war effort, it doesn't matter whether they believe the existential threat is just from the Iranian leaders or from every single Iranian.

      As far as evangelicals, the End Times and Israel, I was referring to the likes of Pastor Hagee and his flock. I presume you've seen this M. Blumenthal video
      And there've been accounts such as this
      In polite company, meaning outside their communities, leaders such as Hagee deny such theological motivations, presenting it as a case of Christian solidarity with Jews. These characters believe that they're hastening the 2nd coming by their political activities, although everyone else, including Israeli leaders, views it as chasing a fantasy.

    • O.Y. is a fundamentalist cleric who, in all likelihood, has a literal interpretation of the bible. The bible often talks of "obliterating the enemies" of God and the Jewish people. So it would be hardly surprising if the Rabbi thinks in those terms and uses that sort of language. You can easily find clerics of all flavors talking in such catastrophic terms. Evangelical clerics who are close allies of the Israeli gov't call for and work towards the destruction of Israel: they wanna bring about Armageddon (or Rapture), whereby Jews who don't convert will be annihilated. Extremist Muslim clerics can be found who call for annihilating Israel and Jews.

      These tendencies are only deserving of attention when they help influence and implement gov't policy. The evangelical clerics are noteworthy only b/c their flock can influence US Mideast policy. Rabbi Yosef's comment is only worthy of attention b/c, as has been pointed out by others, it may indicate Israeli gov't's success in convincing the religious block in its coalition of the necessity of an attack. Otherwise, it's pure waste of time to try to decipher O.Y.'s comments; quite possibly the nonagenarian fundamentalist wasn't even clear in his own mind exactly which entity he wished obliterated.

    • Since the comparison you're imagining wasn't mine, I'll have to respectfully refuse your "nice try." Obviously, I was only contrasting Weiss' interpretation of O.Y.'s particular comment about "Iran" vs a specific oft-quoted comment of Ahmadinejad. Nobody compared the 2 figures in general.

    • The title of this post refers to "Iranian leaders" being obliterated. And the Daily Beast article by A. Sullivan that is referenced also emphasizes that he was referring to the leaders. In that case, isn't this just equivalent to Iranian leaders calling for the "cancerous tumor" to be removed? Isn't Ovadia Yosef just wishing for the Islamic Republic to "vanish from the page of time"? If so, then why does the post end w/ "Let there be no mistake: this is an Israeli rabbi calling for another people to be obliterated from the face of the earth. The ironies seem lost."? You wouldn't refer to Ahmadinejad's statement about "vanishing from the page of time" as calling for another people's obliteration.

      On the other hand, this report
      puts it as, "When we say ‘may our enemies be struck down’ on Rosh Hashana, it shall be directed at Iran, the evil ones who threaten Israel. God shall strike them down and kill them," in which case it's not clear to me what he means by "Iran" here.

      So just like w/ the Ahmadinejad quote, you need to indulge in years of linguistic analysis, parsing the grammatical inferences of his precious words to arrive at divergent conclusions.

  • Breaking the Silence report details soldiers humiliating and torturing Palestinian children and using them as human shields
  • 'Get ready to fight Iran,' Washington Post warns in URL
    • And as for specific plans for settling the Israel-Palestine conflict, Ahmadinejad said, "Even if 80% of this land is given to the Palestinians, the remainder portion that is given to the Zionists, is again a danger; establishment of 2 states means a historic opportunity for their own [the Zionists'] reconstruction. Acceptance of 2 states means wasting 100 years of resistance, and whoever accepts this matter should know that he's not in line with the nations but is at the opposite pole to the nations."
      While the IRI categorically rejects the 2 state sol'n, it has repeatedly voted in favor of such proposals at the UN and other international venues over the past several years.

    • @ Stephen Shenfield
      You can see the video of Ah.'s 2012 Quds day speech along w/ real-time translation, as presented by IRI's PressTV, at
      A condensed version of the speech is posted in Persian at Ah.'s website at
      and also in English at
      But, as seen from comparing sizes, the English version is a highly redacted version of the Persian one.

      Besides whatever he says about removing the Zionist entity, he makes a couple of other noteworthy references. The Persian version at his site reads (also in the video),
      "Dr. Ahmadinejad named the Zionists as deviant humans who are only after power and wealth and domination over others, and by referring to their 2000 year old record in creating mayhem in the world stated that: in contemporary times, it's been at least 400 years that a small number of Zionists have afflicted the human society with turbulence and the heaviest of damages which cannot be completely rectified."
      And further down,
      "It's been several hundred years that nations have been in conflict with the Zionists and it's been about 100 years that nations have been imprisoned in a direct and complete manner at the hands of the policies and management of world Zionism."

      What exactly does he mean by referring to the 2000, 400 and "several hundred" years history of the Zionists? I think the most plausible interpretation is that he's making a Protocol-of-the-Elders-of-Zion type of reference, namely that a clique of Jews has been acting as enemies of mankind for hundreds or thousands of years. This comes at the heels of the recent speech by his Vice President, Rahimi, at an international venue in which he referred to Zionists and the Talmud as enemies of mankind to benefit the Jews:

  • Democracy Now, interviews with Phyllis Bennis, Trita Parsi on Israel's threat to attack Iran
  • It's a lie that Ahmadinejad took responsibility for Bulgarian attack
    • @lysias
      Your parochial school and all its basements should be immediately subjected to comprehensive inspections on suspicion of nuclear weaponization. Were you required to sign the NPT upon graduation?

    • @Roya
      And how does your judgement of my translational skills affect my main point that foolish rhetoric from the Ahmadinejad side, such as the recent Rahimi speech (which wasn't translated by me), inflames the situation and aids in the propaganda for war?

    • @Roya
      Since my "brilliant Farsi skills" are yet more unwarranted assumptions on your part, I'll have to take your suggestion and "make it up." I simply did a literal translation, which can sometimes lose nuances of the language. The Persian word Rahimi uses is "sorkhpoost" which literally means "redskin." However, in Persian, unlike in English, it's not considered derogatory, and, as far as I know, it's the most common term used for Native Americans. So it's just as fair to translate it as Native American or American Indian. (And I won't even ask why there's still a football team operating under that name in the US.)
      But my alternate translation was not meant to highlight that term. I was trying to be more fair to Rahimi by pointing out that in the video he refers to a "Zionist gynecologist," whereas the Iranian media transcribed it as a "Jewish gynecologist," making it sound worse:

      These are, however, minor considerations relative to the whole speech, which was antisemitic and plain loony. According to the NYT account, even some members of the Iranian delegation were taken aback by it.

    • @Nima Shirazi,

      As should have been clear from my first sentences, I agreed w/ the main point of your post, encapsulated in its title. What I said about your added translations was not a major criticism; just pointing out that even from the Times' own translation it was clear that their conclusion was not warranted.
      As far as the dis to Chris./Jud. in MA's speech that I pointed to, every responder seems to have read into it far more than I stated or remotely implied. At least your response is w/in the bounds of reason; almost all the others went hog wild injecting their own imaginations.
      I'm aware of how Islam views the other Abrahamics & Ahmadinejad's other comments in that regard. All it shows is that MA's "shop" reference is not fully in accord w/ his other statements, which is not surprising, since politicians tune their statements depending on the audience and the occasion. But I attached no significance to this, let alone suggest any response to it, as the other responders imagined, other than pointing that the Israel Times writers (thankfully) did not pick it up as a propaganda point. As far as far-right evangelicals "flooding the internet tubes with cries of horror" regarding this, I have no knowledge of that, and only noticed that statement from the links you provided. As far as "Making a big deal out of this" being "foolish," I agree, but tell that to the other responders to my comments.

      Though these are not the points of your response here, my next comment was about Rahimi's (MA's vice president) recent inappropriate speech at an international forum, w/ the point made in the 3rd comment that the occasional inflammatory talk that has come from the Iranian side (the "shop" reference not being a main part of it) has contributed to the propaganda efforts of those who advocate war.

    • Since your oozy is crying for action and you beat me to the inevitable conclusion that MA's statements are an irrefutable call to war, you should be the one to make sure the ball is not dropped on that casus belli.

    • Uncanny prescience, Roya! Your Jew-dar is impeccable. Anyone who objects to racist comments by Ahmadinejad or Rahimi (per my comment below) can only be one of "them." Nudge, nudge, know what I mean? Don't forget to leave a similar comment in response to my comment on Rahimi.

    • How foolish of me! And I erroneously referred to it as the Freedonian Republic of Iran. Will adjust my sensitivity scale accordingly. Similarly, you should also reconsider your oversensitivity to statements by Israeli officials that are disparaging of Muslims or non-Jews. After all, Israel is the Jewish State.

    • This is stating the obvious, but much of the discrediting of the Islamic Republic in the international arena is the result of such imbecilic and hateful public statements that I mentioned in my 2 previous comments. Antisemitic rants, dogged Holocaust denials, 9/11 trutherism at the UN and religious Messianism exhibited in international settings by the Ahmadinejad administration, which implies the Supreme Leader's approval, contribute significantly to Western propaganda depicting Iranian officials as loonies bent on nuclear Armageddon. The "loony" part is fair, the "nuclear Armageddon" presumption is specious. But the general public assumes both to be the correct, if the former is.

    • Adding to my comment above about Ahmadinejad's insult to Christianity & Judaism, it should be noted that only recently his vice president, Mohammad Reza Rahimi, made a scandalously antisemitic speech at an international forum on drug prevention. The text of the speech is @
      and here's the NYT account of it

      As a minor note, but examples of incorrect translations, the NYT article states that Rahimi referred to black babies being killed at orders of Zionists, whereas the English translation at the pro-gov't Iranian website I linked to states it as "a Jewish gynecologist castrated 8,0000 American Indians to reduce their number." But Rahimi in this clip
      actually says, "a Zionist gynecologist at some juncture has castrated 8000 redskins." Rahimi is one of those in Ahmadinejad's administration who's been accused by other officials of massive fraud, which I referred to in my previous comment.

    • The translation of part of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's (MA's) speech by both The Times of Israel & those provided by N. Shirazi are qualitatively the same. MA is saying that blows against Iran will be strongly retaliated. But the Islamic Republic leaders have routinely made such claims. After every scientist assassination the government has blamed the US, Zionists and their allies as the culprits and has promised retribution. The unwarranted claim by the Times is that MA was referring to the Burgas bombing, whereas he makes no specific reference to any act. The problem was not with the translation but with the interpretation.

      But there is one set of claims in MA's speech that could readily be deemed offensive to Christians & Jews, which, surprisingly, neither the Israeli sources mentioned above nor Shirazi mention. The English & Persian versions of MA's speech that Shirazi links to (at MA's website) are very different in that the English version cuts out much of the speech. In the Persian version, MA talks about different topics, including the importance of mosque & Islam in society, how the US controlled by a handful of Zionists rules the world, how their system is failing and the Islamic Republic should pick up the lead in promoting worldwide justice & equality, how Iran is making substantial progress that the enemies try to strike against but their blows will be retaliated, how those who are slandering the gov't inside Iran are helping the foreign enemy [in apparent reference to accusations (by various officials) of and judicial actions against massive fraud and corruption in MA's administration], and the importance of acknowledging the coming of the Mehdi (the Shia Messiah).

      But an ostensibly offensive and gratuitous part of the speech posted at his Persian website @
      states, "The religion of Islam is the religion of all people because fundamentally god has not descended more than one religion and all prophets were ordained to invite people to this religion.
      The president added: Has god sent a religion called Christianity and a religion called Judaism or have shops been set up under these names? All prophets were Muslims for if they were not they would not have been ordained as prophets ... and the multitude of prophets does not imply the multitude of religions." Referring to Christianity & Judaism as "shops," whereas suggesting that Islam is the one true religion could easily be deemed offensive. But this has nothing to do with nuclear development or terrorist attacks, so apparently it's been ignored.

  • All eyes on Moscow
    • Iran's rights under the NPT should be acknowledged, but so should its government's obligations and its people's rights under various international and human rights conventions that it's a signatory to. As advocated by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), whose president Trita Parsi has been featured at this site, the sanctions should be targeted towards the government's repressive apparatus and not the country's people,
      Easing of targeted sanctions should be made conditional on improvements in Iran's human rights record, consistent w/ Desmond Tutu's message of solidarity on the anniversary of the 2009 democratic uprising,
      Unfortunately, it appears that human rights improvements are not particularly on the agenda, rather defanging Iran b/c it's not a Western ally. As far as the US and its allies are concerned, the Islamic Republic could remain as oppressive as it is and even be allowed to further develop its nuclear capabilities (as Iran was during the Shah) if only it would reorient itself westward.

  • Beinart thought he was serious, 'NY Magazine' calls him Sammy Glick
  • Iran didn't threaten to 'wipe' Israel out -- Israel's deputy prime minister
    • Regarding a couple of Meridor's assertions, he says that Iranian officials making statements about Israel's disappearance, illegitimacy or destruction has no parallel in the world today and should be of grave international concern. Then, what about US & Israel obstructing and subverting self-determination for a people, which is recognized by the rest of the world and various international organizations? Does that have a parallel in today's world and should that be a focus of international concern?

      As for his repeated statements that major Arab countries have expressed grave concerns regarding Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons, but none have expressed such concerns regarding Israel's arsenal, that's true if by the "Arab world" he means its ruling elites. As Foreign Policy argues, based on polls in various Arab countries, @
      w/ the title "Misreading Arab public opinion on Iran's nuclear program,"
      "The vast majority of the Arab public does not believe that Iran poses a threat to the "security of the Arab homeland." Only 5 percent of respondents named Iran as a source of threat, versus 22 percent who named the U.S. The first place was reserved for Israel, which 51 percent of respondents named as a threat to Arab national security ... while Saudi Arabia is often cited as the primary Arab state in support of belligerence against Iran, the data indicate that this view doesn't seem to extend to its public. In the Saudi Arabian sample, only 8 percent believed that Iran presents a threat -- a lower percentage even than that which viewed the U.S. as a source of threat (13 percent). " Furthermore, "More than half of all respondents (55 percent) believe that Israel's possession of nuclear weapons justifies other states in the region seeking to acquire such weapons. Interestingly, this percentage is about 60 percent in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan (the so-called "Sunni" alliance)."

  • Jeffrey Goldberg's claim that Iran's Supreme Leader wants to kill Israeli Jews is based on shoddy sources
    • AllenBee,

      Your comments are just plain bizarre. You distort people's statements as if the readers cannot read the plain English and judge for themselves. E.g., when you say, "subconscious DID establish a 'comparison' that you ... took down," it's obvious that I just listed several documents of IRI's human rights violations w/o a single comparison to anything. Annie Robbins injected the comparison to the US, but even she didn't explicitly suggest that I had made any comparisons. I can't even tell anymore what exactly you're objecting to in Sykes' blog. Your first comment, which started this thread, was clearly about Sykes' initial paragraph, which referred to IRI's human rights record. Now you've shifted the target of the discussion by telling us your state of mind as you read the rest of the article. When you make statements like "the links to Amnesty International reports and even videos were not that persuasive" and "the salacious and hatemongering snapshots that AI prefers to spotlight," it's clear that there's no point in referencing professional and objective documentation by respected organizations in response to you. So I shouldn't bother w/ that anymore; lets just pull stuff out of thin air and our imaginations as "evidence and documentation."

      It's probably beating a poor dead horse but to reiterate, everything Sykes said in his 1st paragraph is valid. "To take the Iranian government at its word is folly." That's a no-brainer, since it's universally true of all gov'ts; by nature, all gov'ts are in the business of producing propaganda for their cause. "The Islamic Republic reserves its most egregiously, immediately and consistently malevolent behavior not for the Great Satan in America or the Zionist regime in Israel, but its own people." That's about as controversial as saying that Saddam's regime reserved its worst crimes for its own people, not the US or Israel, which is what all principled opponents of the Iraq war were saying at the time. Sykes is saying that even though the IRI is an internally tyrannical regime, it's not an existential threat to the US & Israel, as the warmongers make it out to be. "[The IRI] harasses daily, hangs in droves for offenses not more than suspicion of homosexuality, and shoots to kill [its own population] when democratic demands are taken to the street in peaceful, often silent marches." Well, I attached plenty of links to support that. But that would only convince people who don't think AI is a malicious propaganda agency. The rest of Sykes' article discusses an example of how Western propagandists distort a blog written in Iran to build a case for IRI's grave threat to the West. I'm not sure if you got that point.

      As for your offer that "If subconscious wants to get into a more honest discussion of a) how Iran’s system of justice differs from American; b) how Iran’s overall cultural and ‘socio-spiritual cohesiveness’ are never represented in US MSM ... then we can have that conversation," the answer is no: I don't think much of this discussion is honest and it would be hijacking this blog into a different direction to discuss your a) & b).

      Your explanation of the YouTube video that I linked to, in which a woman is clubbed in the head by a security man, and the guy who comes to help her is pulled by the hair and knee-punched in the belly by another security guy, is baloney. The voices we here in the video are of the people who were filming from a distance, not the ones involved in the incident, as you claim. They are expressing their shock at what they're witnessing from a distance. I also don't understand these "nuances" you refer to, such as "Iran’s overall cultural and ‘socio-spiritual cohesiveness’". Rather than preaching here about such "cohesiveness," you'd do better to explain them at a seminar for the security forces we see in these videos, since they seem to act towards their own population in the same police-state manner that security forces in the territories, Egypt & Bahrain do.

    • My previous reply has mysteriously disappeared, so I'll rephrase it. The focus of the comments by AllenBee and me, in repsonse to Percy Sykes, was just the internal human rights record of the IRI. None of us tried to compare it to violations by other countries or draw conclusions in that vein, and child executions is only one instance of such violations. Bringing in US-Israeli (or anyone else's) crimes was not part of the exchange. In any case, the Wikipedia article you link to, doesn't contradict what AI is saying about Iran's child executions. AI refers to child executions in various countries in its detailed article and draws its conclusions about Iran. Another thing to note is that unlike in the US, (as AI points out) many executions of various offenders (possibly including children) are not publicized by the Iranian gov't, so the known cases may not be providing the full statistics.

    • Your contrast is specious and outside the logic of the posts. It's as if in response to blogs about abuse of Palestinian children detained by Israel, someone says "but we all know that pales in comparison to hundreds of thousands of children killed in the Congo in the past several years." When they posted blogs about Mubarak's abuse of protesters (or those in Bahrain, etc.), did you respond by belittling the casualties of Mubarak's forces by comparing them to those of US-Israel or in the Congo or in Darfur or those executed in China? Wouldn't that have been viewed as anything other than whitewashing?

      Organizations like AI & HRW, from which I quoted, are professional w/ a long-standing record of defending human rights across the globe. They're aware and have extensively documented the US-Israeli records, among others. So, when they make the above specific reports about Iran, they're being quite principled.

      Your comment also defies the logic of the posts. The blog started by referring to IRI's ongoing and sordid human rights record, to which AllenBee objected, demanding documentation. I was just pointing out the extensive and easily-accessible documentation regarding the IRI's across-the-board internal violations of human rights. It's strange that you picked one item and (w/o refuting it) made a specious comparison.

    • As an accompaniment to the AI item I referenced above about Iran's distinct honor of "being the world’s last official executioner of child offenders," are the following 2 videos (the lawyer in the 1st video is in exile and the 2nd clip is graphic):

    • Very ironic for someone who hasn't bothered to do minimal checking of extensive & readily available sources to be giving out advice on proper documentation to others. Apparently, someone has to carry out the burden of your laziness; so here's what a few minutes of straightforward web searching yielded.

      -- Amnesty International's 2011 annual report on Iran @
      "The authorities maintained severe restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly. Sweeping controls on domestic and international media aimed at reducing Iranians' contact with the outside world were imposed. Individuals and groups risked arrest, torture and imprisonment if perceived as cooperating with human rights and foreign based Persian language media organizations. Political dissidents, women's and minority rights activists and other human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and students were rounded up in mass and other arrests and hundreds were imprisoned. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees were routine and committed with impunity. Women continued to face discrimination under the law and in practice. The authorities acknowledged 252 executions, but there were credible reports of more than 300 other executions. The true total could be even higher. At least one juvenile offender was executed. Sentences of death by stoning continued to be passed, but no stonings were known to have been carried out. Floggings and an increased number of amputations were carried out."

      -- "Amnesty International Says Iran Focused on Covering Up Horrific Abuses Committed During Post-Election Period" @

      -- Says AI, "Iran: The last executioner of children" @
      "Iran has the shameful status of being the world’s last official executioner of child offenders ... It also holds the macabre distinction of having executed more child offenders than any other country in the world since 1990, according to Amnesty International’s records."

      -- Says AI, ""We Are Ordered to Crush You": Expanding Repression of Dissent in Iran" @

      -- Says AI, "Iran Determined to Impose Total Information Blackout to Stifle Dissent" @

      -- Says AI:

      -- Plenty more on Iran @ AI's site.

      -- HRW's "World Report 2012: Iran" @
      "In 2011 Iranian authorities refused to allow government critics to engage in peaceful demonstrations. In February, March, April, and September security forces broke up large-scale protests in several major cities. In mid-April security forces reportedly shot and killed dozens of protesters in Iran’s Arab-majority Khuzestan province. There was a sharp increase in the use of the death penalty. The government continued targeting civil society activists, especially lawyers, rights activists, students, and journalists. In July 2011 the government announced it would not cooperate with, or allow access to, the United Nations special rapporteur on Iran, appointed in March 2011 in response to the worsening rights situation."

      -- Feel free to go through HRW's various Iran reports @
      where, just for 2012, you'll come across headlines such as, "Long Sentences in Newest Convictions of Human Rights Activists", "Opposition Imprisoned, Barred from Running in Parliamentary Elections", "Journalists’ Families Targeted in Campaign Against Media", "Iran: New Arrests of Labor Activists", "Journalists, Bloggers Arrested ahead of Elections".

      -- Says Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, "All you need to know: a quick breakdown of findings from Dr. Ahmed Shaheed’s UN report" @

      -- Just browse through

      -- Says Reporters Without Borders, "Press Freedom Index 2011-2012" @,1043.html
      "... Syria, Iran and China, three countries that seem to have lost contact with reality as they have been sucked into an insane spiral of terror ... In Iran (175th), hounding and humiliating journalists has been part of officialdom’s political culture for years. The regime feeds on persecution of the media."

      -- Sample public execution in Iran (graphic) @
      w/ plenty more on YouTube.

      -- Sample crackdown on post-2009-election protests @
      Tons more of such clips on YouTube for the minimally non-lazy.

  • Wallace interview with Ahmadinejad was little more than deliberate demonization
    • I'm not sure what MEMRI has to do w/ what I'm saying, since you bring 'em up w/o me referring to them. I was referring to the following points raised in Nima Shirazi's (NS's) post. Referring to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's (MA's) comments censored by CBS, NS writes that MA made "No military threats, only a call for democratic elections and a government that represents the will of the people." And further that the aired interview "purposefully obfuscated what the Iranian President had actually said to his interlocutor in order to further propagate a false narrative of an Iran is an "existential threat" to Israel and which officially denies the Holocaust."

      As far as Holocaust denial, there's ample record of what MA has said. The quotes from the Daily Star that I copied above make his Holocaust denial unambiguous. Here's a Persian account of MA's speech at last year's Quds Day,
      The title of the article reads, "Ahmadinejad on Quds Day: the Holocaust is a grand lie." And even more recent is his 3/2012 interview w/ German TV, which is posted in English at his own official site at
      in which he said,
      "How did this nation, this regime came to be? It was a colonialist planning, everyone knows that it created by a lie. They have never been rulers of this country. They have invented a story with the title Holocaust and the damage, the cost for that, had to be paid by the Palestinians. While the Palestinians played no role at all, neither during the 2nd World War, nor in the events afterwards. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the Holocaust a “lie” and accusing Zionist regime of using it to suppress Palestinians. Zionist regime statehood “was a colonialist plan that resulted from a lie,” He said: “They never were rulers of this land.""
      So how much of an exaggeration is it to call Ahmadinejad a Holocaust denier? (This, of course, doesn't imply that he intends to perpetrate one on Israel.) When I said he softens his rhetoric while in the West, I meant that he changes his tune to things like "I'm only suggesting an impartial investigation." As far as I can tell, this public overindulgence in Holocaust denial by the Iranian gov't started w/ the MA administration. In fact, in the debates preceding Iran's last presidential election several of his rivals questioned his indulgence in this topic as being unacceptable on either diplomatic or moral grounds. (Some of those rivals now languish in jail or are under house arrest.) Khamenei doesn't seem to indulge in that topic, but if he opposed that kind of rhetoric MA wouldn't be espousing it.

      As far as your comment that MA has been consistent in supporting the rights of the 48 & 67 refugees, that's true of all the post-79 Iranian leaders. But my point was that it comes as a package, the other component of which is to consider all Israeli citizens that have been immigrants or their descendants since Zionist settlement of the land as illegitimate and not entitled to participate in the "democratic elections and a government that represents the will of the people" that NS refers to, as evidenced by Khamenei's statement that I quoted from his own website. Their vision is not the 1-man-1-vote that the 1-staters on this site propound. However, various Iranian leaders (dunno if MA is 1 of them) in the past have also added that they'll abide by whatever the Palestinians' legit leaders decide on (though it's unclear whom they'd consider as legit leaders). American mainstream reporters are often lazy & dishonest, so rather than quoting Iranian officials accurately and then digging further into their positions, simply distort them.

      Roughly speaking, I'd say that the Iranian officials have 3 distinct sets of positions on the Israel-Palestine conflict. One is their diplomatic record. As N. Finkelstein has pointed out, since mid-90s Iran has voted in favor of the international consensus (the 2-state sol'n) at the UN and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. However, internally they maintain a rejectionist position, considering the majority of the Israeli Jewish population as illegitimate usurpers of the land that may need to leave the area in the future. When visiting the West, like deceitful politicians everywhere, they make ambiguous and equivocal statements w/o elaborating on crucial details: "I'm just suggesting an impartial investigation into history. What's wrong w/ that?" or "I'm suggesting a referendum among all legitimate inhabitants of the land. Isn't that democratic?"

    • Hamishe_Sabz,

      In general, Nima Shirazi's views are not the same as those of NIAC and Trita Parsi. In any case, agreement of 2 people on a given issue does not imply one is on the pay of the other. Otherwise, one would wonder if you're being paid by the Flat Earth Society. However, regarding what you call Shirazi "defending the AN," I've added my comments below.

    • Dear Nima Shirazi,

      While your article here seeks to demonstrate disingenuous editing of Ahmadinejad's statements on the part of the Western media, it also shows your own exclusion of relevant facts which would make Ah.'s comments more nuanced. Ah.'s repeated reference above to a "free and fair referendum" in Palestine has been echoed by various other Iranian officials elsewhere (e.g., on Charlie Rose). However, in the absence of elaboration in this interview, what a Western audience may infer from the phrase "free & fair referendum" would be drastically different from what the IRI officials actually imply.

      In that regard, here's the Supreme Leader's (Khamenei's) speech at last Oct.'s International Conference on Palestinian Intifada in Tehran posted @
      where he states,
      "The solution of the Islamic Republic to the issue of Palestine and this old wound is a clear and logical proposal that is based on political wisdom accepted by global public opinion and it has been presented in detail previously. We neither propose a classical war with the armies of Islamic countries, nor do we propose throwing Jewish immigrants into the sea or intervention of the United Nations and other international organizations. We propose a referendum among the Palestinian people. Just like any other nation, the Palestinian nation has the right to determine its own destiny and to elect its own government. All the original people of Palestine - including Muslims, Christians and Jews and not foreign immigrants - should take part in a general and orderly referendum and determine the future government of Palestine whether they live inside Palestine or in camps or in any other place. The government that is established after the referendum will determine the destiny of non-Palestinian immigrants who migrated to Palestine in the past. This is a fair and logical proposal which global public opinion understands and it can receive support from independent nations and governments."

      So, the "fair & logical" referendum that the IRI officials peddle, on the one hand, will include Palestinians of Israel/Palestine and refugees and their descendants, and, on the other, will exclude all Jewish Israelis who are either immigrants or their descendants since the advent of Zionist immigration. The fate of these millions of Jewish immigrants and their descendants is to be determined by the gov't born out of this referendum. This certainly is not the proposed one-state solution, as articulated at Mondoweiss. Needless to say, Khamenei is totally dismissive of the internationally-proposed 2-state sol'n,
      "The two-state idea which has been presented in the self-righteous clothing of "recognizing the Palestinian government as a member of the United Nations" is nothing but giving in to the demands of the Zionists - namely, "recognizing the Zionist government in Palestinian lands". "

      With regards to Ah.'s Holocaust denial, he has clearly and on numerous occasions repeated his unequivocal dismissal of the "Holocaust myth" w/in Iran, e.g., at his 2011 Quds (Jerusalem) Day speech as reported @
      where he's quoted as,
      "Ahmadinejad said the creation of a Palestinian state should be seen as merely a first step toward the annihilation of Israel and the establishment of Palestine in lands that include liberated Israeli territory. “Recognizing the Palestinian state is not the end goal. It is only one step forward toward fully liberating all of Palestine,” Ahmadinejad said. “The Zionist regime is a center of germs and cancerous cells and if it exists in even one small part of Palestine it will mobilize again and hurt everyone,” he warned. “The goal of all believers and seekers of justice should be the disappearance of the Zionist regime,” he said. Ahmadinejad also reiterated his view that the Holocaust was a “lie” used to justify Israel’s creation. “All of the foundations for the creation of this [Israeli] regime were based on a lie and deception, and the Holocaust was one of these big lies,” he said. Ahmadinejad warned the Israelis that they “had no place” in the Middle East. “Your era is over. It is in your interest to return to your homes wherever you came from and don’t make your dirty files more black. You have no place in our region,” he said."

      The views Ah. peddles in the West are deliberately softened in contrast to those he and other officials propound within the Middle East. I think your analysis of Ah.'s statements and their reflection in the Western media is lacking in the above relevant details. While the Western media may be over-demonizing Ah. and his views, you appear to be over-sanitizing them.

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