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  • Watch the cathartic Vietnam documentary
    • The documentary "Hearts and Minds," which users "strangefriend" & "Philip Weiss" referred to in earlier comments, can be viewed online:

      or for a version with higher definition options (may require signing in)

  • 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 ...

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