If you don’t support regime change in Syria at this point, what is wrong with you?
— Eli Lake (@EliLake) September 27, 2016
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) September 28, 2016
If you don’t support regime change in Syria at this point, what is wrong with you?
— Eli Lake (@EliLake) September 27, 2016
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) September 28, 2016
Syrian Ground Troops Clash With Rebels in Aleppo
Hwaida Saad, Anne Barnard, Sewell Chan, Maher Samaan, NYT, Sep 27 2016
BEIRUT/ LONDON/ PARIS — Government soldiers made advances in the center of the Aleppo on Tuesday, as aerial bombardments by Syria and Russia continued for a fifth day, state-run media said. Syrian state television reported that government troops had captured the rebel-held neighborhood of Farafra. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that government forces had pushed into the center of Aleppo as part of their siege of rebel-held areas in the eastern part of the city. Airstrikes on Tuesday afternoon killed at least 11 people in the Sha’ar and Mashhad neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo, the group reported. The ground offensive, if confirmed, would represent a major development in the battle for Aleppo. Social media accounts associated with opposition fighters said the government was exaggerating the magnitude of its advances. Insurgents from groups that identify themselves as the FSA said they had blocked an attempt by government forces to advance on the eastern sections of Aleppo’s Old City. Rebels have been fortifying the eastern neighborhoods under their control for years, and any ground offensive would likely be long and grinding. Over the last week, Aleppo has been the site of some of the most ferocious fighting in the 5-year-old civil war, following the collapse of a ceasefire negotiated by Pindostan and Russia. Mohamed Abu Jaafar Kahil, the head of a medical charity, said in an electronic message:
Conditions in Aleppo are desperate. Hospitals have no more room to receive even one more case, due to the huge number of casualties, of wounded and of martyrs who died today at the hands of barbaric Russian warplanes backed by Syrian warplanes.
Kahil recounted “non-stop bombing” by rockets and other artillery, including cluster munitions. He estimated that dozens had died and hundreds had been wounded. Dr Mohamed al-Ahmad, a radiologist reached via the messaging app Viber, described a dire situation at the hospital where he worked. “We’re running short of drugs, we’re running short of respirators, we don’t have baby milk, especially for newborns,” he said. Bassem Ayoub, an Aleppo resident, said:
Food and medical supplies are running out. Every day is worse then the last. Every day I leave my house, I keep in mind that I might not be back. All the people are doing the same here. We’re living day by day.
Humanitarian organizations were trying to make repairs to a water pumping station serving the eastern part of the city. Hanaa Singer, the Syria country representative at UNICEF, said that officials were worried that the supply of drinking water might run out, putting 100,000 children at risk of dehydration. There was no progress on diplomatic efforts to halt the bloodshed. In Germany, Merkel denounced the violence but expressed skepticism that a no-fly zone could be instituted. She said:
What we currently see on the ground is very, very brutal and clearly targeting civilians … (This is) a deep, deep setback. I’m skeptical that in the current situation we can enforce an immediate no-fly zone. It clearly now is up to the Assad regime and also Russia to take a step to improve the chances for a cease-fire and humanitarian aid.
The minister of culture who knows nothing about democracy
Lisa Goldman, +972 Magazine, Sep 27 2016
(Photo: Hadas Parush/ FLASH90)
Miri Regev, Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sport, caused an uproar at last week’s Ophir Awards, the annual red carpet ceremony for the Israeli film industry. First she ostentatiously walked out of the auditorium to protest the performance of a cover version of Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish’s most famous poem, “Identity Card.” Then she returned, only to give a speech in which she claimed Darwish’s poem includes a line about eating the flesh of the Jewish nation. To top it off she accused the Israeli film industry of being an elitist institution that excluded Mizrahi actors. In fact Darwish’s poem does not mention Jews; furthermore, Mizrahi actors are among the country’s most prominent and successful, both in Israel and internationally. One of those Mizrahi actors, Roi Assaf, tried to storm the stage in protest during Regev’s speech, while calling upon fellow audience members to leave in protest, shouting angrily, “Anyone who stays seated is a efes gadol (big zero)!” Regev, meanwhile, raised her voice to be heard above the booing from the audience to insist that she would not leave until she had finished her speech. But her speech was remarkably discordant and false, even by Regev’s standards.
This year’s Ophir winners are collectively a panoply of diversity and liberalism. They include Sand Storm, a drama about Bedouin women with a script that is entirely in Arabic and directed by a woman, Elite Zexer. It won for best film and will be Israel’s entry for best foreign film at the Oscars. Ruba Blal Asfour, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, won best supporting actress for her role in Sand Storm. Tamer Nafar, the acclaimed Palestinian rap artist from the group DAM, won an award for the musical score of Udi Aloni’s Junction 48, about an aspiring rap musician (played by Nafar himself) in the drug-ridden inner city of Lod/Lydda. Morris Cohen, a Mizrahi Jew, won best actor for his role in Avinu (Our Father) as a nightclub bouncer who is seduced by the money of organized crime. Regev walked out of a performance given jointly by Tamer Nafar and Yossi Tsabari, a Jewish Yemenite-Israeli who is a spoken word artist. In an angry post-ceremony press conference, she said her objection was to the anti-Jewish sentiments in Darwish’s poem, which she falsely claimed included a line about eating Jewish flesh. She also falsely claimed that Nafar and Tsabari’s use of the black power salute (one gloved fist held aloft) was actually the Nazi salute. But I think her real objection was to Yossi Tsabari, the gay spoken word artist who identifies as an Arab Jew and has been outspoken in his opposition to Regev’s policies. The rap song that Nafar and Tsabari performed at the Ophirs is ironically titled “Ana Mish Politi” (Arabic for “I Am Not Political”); Nafar opens with several lines spoken in Hebrew and a bit of Arabic, but then Tsabari joins him and adds an excerpt from his own cover of Darwish’s poem, which he recorded last July in Hebrew and uploaded to social media. It is addressed directly to Regev and takes her to task for threatening to cut funding for cultural institutions that present a Palestinian narrative.
Below is the video of Nafar and Tsabari at the Ophirs performing “Ana Mish Politi.” Nafar opens alone on the stage, rapping ironic lines in Hebrew and Arabic about Israeli Jews who think eating hummus and Middle Eastern salads in Arab restaurants amounts to co-existence. The next lines, difficult to translate because they are a play on words, are about how Jews stop believing in co-existence when Arabs become politicized. Then Tsabari walks in as we hear Darwish’s disembodied voice intone the famous opening line to Identity Card, his best-known poem: “Sajel! Ana Arabi.” (Write it down! I am an Arab). Darwish composed the poem in 1964, when he still lived in Israel, an internally-displaced Palestinian living in the newly-established state, during the period in which Palestinian citizens lived under martial law that severely curtailed their freedom of movement and political expression (martial law was officially lifted in 1966). Below is the video of Tsabari’s spoken word poem addressed to Miri Regev, in which he riffs off Darwish’s poem. He released it on social media in July of this year, with the title “Farewell Poem.” My translation follows the video. Tsabari speaks Hebrew with the Arabic aspirated ‘het’ and a glottal ‘ayin.’
Write it down! [“tirshom”: addressing a man]
I am an Arab
My identity card number is 50,000
I have eight children
And the ninth will be born after the summer!
Does that make you angry?
Write it down! [“tirshemi”: addressing a woman]
Tirshemiri! [portmanteau of “write it down, Miri”]
I, too, am an Arab
But in contrast
To Darwish Mahmoud
I am an Arab min al yahoud [in Arabic: “from the Jews”]
My parents were born in Yemen
And immigrated to this place not long ago
My skin is black
And my accent sounds like one from this region.
I, too, am an Arab.
A broken Arab,
And I’ve tried on several identities
But then I decided what I wanted to be;
An Arab Jew with Messianic aspirations,
Who next to the beds of laboring women
Does not make a noisy celebration.
You [addressing a woman / Regev] are an Arab too.
As Arab as you can possibly be.
But you ran away from that as though from a burning fire.
Because Mizrahi Jew is easy to say
But Arab Jew is a recipe for catastrophe
You speak in lofty terms about equality and liberty
And religious freedom and education and culture
But you trample with an arbitrary foot
Over every opportunity for compromise
And possibility for dialogue.
We are Arabs.
And even though we live between Egypt and Lebanon
We continue to believe without any logic
That we are in Europe, and not in the Middle East.
Arabs who don’t sing in quarter tones
Arabs who didn’t learn the jargon,
We speak French and Italian as though it were nothing
But we read Emile Habibi in translation,
So here’s a little more Darwish to wrap things up:
“Write down on the top of the first page:
I do not hate people
Nor am I an invader
But if I become hungry
The conqueror’s flesh will be my food!”
There is a lot to parse both in Tsabari’s spoken word poem and in the incident that occurred at the Ophir Awards. First, it should be noted that Miri Regev is not exactly an Arab-Jewish or otherwise. Her family is from Morocco, and not all Jews from North Africa or the Middle East identify as Arabs. Some do; some don’t. And just as Tsabari has the right to self-identify as an Arab Jew, so does Regev have the right to self-identify as a Mizrahi Jew. The point is not to impose one’s identity on the other. I write these words while freely acknowledging that Miri Regev is a rather unsympathetic person. As a career army spokesperson, she was infamous among journalists for being a serial liar. When she retired from the army and entered politics under the auspices of the Likud party in 2008, she went on to distinguish herself by embracing pretty much every ugly, far-right populist cause she could find. She has played an active role in inciting violent, racist hatred against African asylum seekers, in fanning the flames of Mizrahi resentment against the Ashkenazi elites, in inciting against Palestinian citizens of Israel, and so on. Her power depends on her ability to feed into people’s grievances, on divide and conquer.
So when a Yemenite-Israeli who identifies as an Arab Jew stands up with a Palestinian citizen of Israel to proclaim solidarity via a poem by Mahmoud Darwish, the poet laureate of the Palestinian people, and when Mizrahi actors in the audience boo and walk out during her speech, Miri Regev’s power is threatened. Here are Mizrahi citizens of Israel telling her that they identify as Arab Jews, or that they identify with the Palestinian struggle. Or that Israeli society is not simplistically divided into downtrodden Mizrahim denied advancement by an Ashkenazi elite, and that she cannot count on Mizrahi voters identifying with the right-wing parties. Perhaps the most salient fact of all: the man who appointed Regev to her position is Benjamin Netanyahu, an Ashkenazi prime minister. We also see that even as Israeli society has become increasingly populist, repressive, reactionary, and right wing, it can still support a Palestinian citizen standing on a stage at the Ophir Awards and rapping a subversive political message. Indeed, in recent years there has been a rising political assertiveness amongst young Palestinian citizens of Israel. On the other hand, had Tamer Nafar been born an Israeli Jew he would have been a superstar by now. He is brilliant and amazingly talented, but he’s now 37 years old, 20 years into his career, and still not a mainstream artist in Israel, nor will he ever be. His music is not played on popular radio stations, and not because he raps in Arabic, but because of what he says in Arabic (and in Hebrew). So a subversive message is fine for a select audience; but that message won’t penetrate the mainstream discourse and it certainly will not bring change.
Quite a few analysts have pointed out that criticism of Miri Regev is often couched in snobby and racist terms. That’s true. But that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be criticized. It just means that we need to stick to the correct terms to criticize her with, and to the legitimate reasons. So I don’t really care that she’s never seen the film Pulp Fiction and hasn’t read a single poem by Mahmoud Darwish. But I do care that she falsely claimed Darwish expressed genocidal sentiments toward Jews, that she lied when she conflated the black power raised fist with a Nazi salute, that she called Sudanese asylum seekers a “cancer” in Israel, and that she wants to deprive Israeli artists of state funds if they deviate from her political views. I care very much that she clearly does not understand the most basic democratic values, like freedom of expression. On the one hand she insists on her right to speak; but on the other hand she wants to deprive people who disagree with her politics of their own right to speak. It is also true that Miri Regev has become a bit of a lightning rod for the center left, traditionally made up of Ashkenazim. This works for her, because she can claim to her base supporters that she is a victim of Ashkenazi anti-Mizrahi sentiment. But resentment of Miri Regev and all she represents, ie a prime minister who is positioned to stay in power for many years to come as he presides over a motley governing coalition of right-wing populists and quasi-fascists, is also a big distraction from the increasingly intractable issue of the ongoing closure of Gaza and the nearly 50 year-old occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Otherwise known as the one-state scenario that everyone is afraid to name.
IDF Censors Reporting on Mossad “Mole” Who Spied for Iran
Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam, Sep 27 2016
Israel’s chief military censor, Col Ariela Ben Avraham, has assumed unto herself new and unprecedented powers to restrict the freedom of journalists to cover stories related to national security. Yossi Melman in an interview with 7th Eye offers three examples of heightened censorship that goes far above any standard observed by previous censors. In the second example, he created a fictional incident set in a past era to exemplify the attitude of military censorship. Even though Melman’s copy specifically noted the incident was imagined, the censor made him remove it. When he appealed her decision, he was told:
“We know what you were referring to. You were alluding to something.” He protested: “First of all, I wasn’t hinting at anything. Second, what is this? The Thought Police? They know what I’m thinking? They must examine a text according to the words that are on paper and not the author’s intent.” It was useless. They censored it anyway.
In the third instance, Melman wrote about a series of national security lapses which damaged Israel’s military-intelligence capabilities. The censor disqualified one particular incident Melman wished to include in his article. He appealed this decision as well, pointing out that the year before he’d published a column in Maariv on the same subject and that other publications had also previously had articles approved as well. It’s likely the incident above involved the Mossad’s former director of operations for Iran who became a double agent for the Iranians. His case has been covered by Amir Oren in Haaretz and I have written about it as well. The disgraced agent was exposed, presumably by counter-intelligence, arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to prison: all in secret. Oren begged the prisoner’s wife to speak to him about his case, but she refused out of fear, no doubt, that she would jeopardize his chances of going free. By the time he’s released he’ll have served about fifteen years in prison.
Bollocks about Zygier, omitted – RB
While I railed against the past censorship regime run by Sima Vaknin-Gil, at least she permitted journalists to hint at the truth about sensitive matters. Ben Avraham has not only put the genie back in the bottle, she’s sealed it shut. This means that Israel’s press, which is purported to be freewheeling and independent, if you read the liberal Zionist panegyrics that David Remnick and others publish, is even more neutered than ever. Melman concluded:
I see this as a worsening of the current condition and selective enforcement. They’re refusing to acknowledge their own error.
Ben Avraham’s response would be laughable if it wasn’t totally and abjectly exasperating in its effrontery:
Due to ethical considerations and professional fairness toward the reporter in question, we cannot respond to his charges.
The notion that a military censor has ethical considerations, or feels any compunction about treating reporters fairly, is beyond derision (if that’s possible). On a side note: an Israeli security correspondent (not Melman) told me a few days ago that I should feel proud that figures like the censor and senior Israeli officials read this blog regularly. I can only hope Ben Avraham reads this post and realizes that there are eyes on her and what she does. Eyes that are not Israeli. The eyes of the rest of the world. A world which is truly democratic and which reacts with disgust at her version of what I’ll call “nanny state censorship” (i.e. Mother knows what’s good for you).
Goyim Must Obey
Gilad Atzmon, Sep 27 2016
The British Labour Party is constantly accused of being anti-Semitic. This is not very nice but the ‘pro-Semitic’ Liberal Democrats are far worse. Israeli press reports today that the UK’s Liberal Democrats have suspended a former MP for alleged ‘anti-Semitic’ tweets. On Sunday, Matthew Gordon Banks was suspended by the party after accusing party leader Tim Farron of winning his position due to the financing of his campaign by “London Jews.” In response, Marie van der Zyl, Vice President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BOD), said:
The comments by Matthew Gordon Banks on Twitter are of very deep concern. He talks about Jews and money and hints at the age-old canard of the ‘Jewish conspiracy.’
Van Der Zyl suggests that Jews buying British politicians is Kosher (fine and dandy) but gentiles pointing it out are guilty of hate crimes. Perhaps I can help Ms Van Der Zyl. If Jews did indeed fund Tim Farron’s election campaign then Banks is not a bigot but a truth-teller. If, on the other hand, Mr Banks made it up, if it is revealed, for instance, that not a single Jew funded Farron’s campaign, then Banks is simply deluded, misled or even a liar, but still far from being an anti-Semite. Whether Van Der Zyl accepts it or not, Jewish mammonites buying Western politicians is no conspiracy. It is all done absolutely in the open, it is, indeed, the reality in which we live. In the last few months, we saw Michael Foster boasting about all the shekels he spent on the Labour party, and he clearly listed what he wanted in return. Lord Cashpoint Levy was Blair’s chief fundraiser when Britain launched its Zionist criminal war in Iraq. Jewish oligarchs buy British political parties. Nothing new there. Van Der Zyl’s disrespectful attitude proves who really runs the British political universe. Despite Banks being an ex-MP and a director at the International Institute for Strategic Affairs, this vice-president of British Jews bluntly tells him what he must do, or else expect to face the consequences:
He must urgently clarify and apologise for his comments, otherwise we would expect the Liberal Democrat Party to invoke disciplinary procedures.
How is it possible that the vice-President of British Jews knows in advance what actions the Liberal Democratic Party is about to invoke? I’ll leave you to guess the answer to that one. Talking of apologies, the Board of Deputies has yet to apologise for Lord Janner allegedly raping British orphans when he was their president and therefore pretty much the representative of British Jews. Maybe telling Goyim of all ages and ranks what they must do is just part of being chosen. I’m not chosen any more, so I can’t say, but I can say that the so-called Jewish Anti-Zionists repeat exactly the same pattern. They too tell the Goyim and even Palestinians what they may or may not do and whom they may or may not listen to. Anyway, according to The Jewish Chronicle, the Lib Dems were quick to surrender, and soon after the party was made aware of the complaints against Banks, they confirmed his suspension. Ironically, it is precisely the Lib Dems’ craven submission that confirms Matthew Gordon Banks’ observation about the dominance of Jewish funding over his party.
Syrian State TV: Government Forces Advance in Aleppo
AP, Sep 27 2016
BEIRUT — Syrian state TV is reporting that government forces are advancing in the old quarter of the northern city of Aleppo and have captured several buildings. The station said Tuesday troops are now advancing toward the central rebel-held neighborhood of Farafra. The offensive comes after days of intense airstrikes on rebel-held eastern parts of the city, during which scores of people were killed and a number of buildings demolished. Over the weekend, government forces captured the Palestinian refugee camp of Handarat north of the city but rebels regained control of it hours later.
Unrelenting Assault on Aleppo Is Called Worst Yet in Syria’s Civil War
Rick Gladstone, Somini Sengupta, NYT, Sep 26 2016
Undeterred and infuriated by Western accusations of war crimes and barbarity in the aerial assault on Aleppo, the Syrian government and its ally Russia intensively bombed the city in northern Syria on Monday for the fourth consecutive day. Residents and rescuers there described the bombardment as among the worst yet in the five-year war. Both the Kremlin and the Syrian government appeared to harden their position that the United States and its partners had caused the disintegration of a fleeting cease-fire last week. The Russians went as far as suggesting that the Western portrayal of them as war criminals in the Syria conflict risked a further alienation in relations. Insurgent-held neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo were hit with dozens of air attacks in the predawn hours, killing and wounding many people, according to doctors, nurses and activists in the city. By some estimates the deaths totaled 100 or more for the fourth day. A number of monitor groups disseminated graphic photos and video clips portraying the medical mayhem wrought by the bombings. The Aleppo Media Center, a group of anti-government activists and citizen journalists who have sought to document the conflict, posted video footage of civilian victims on a dirty hospital floor getting little more than simple bandages for wounds:
Stockpiles of food and supplies have dwindled to near nothing on the rebel-held side, according to a report from AFP. It also said a shortage of blood for transfusions had forced doctors at the few functioning hospitals to amputate limbs of the seriously wounded. Save the Children, the international charity, said children were “dying on the floors of hospitals” for lack of ventilators, anesthetics and antibiotics.
— SAMS (@sams_usa) September 24, 2016
The crisis in Aleppo has drastically worsened since Thursday, and the volume of bombings has increased, residents and rescue workers in Aleppo have said, and incendiary weapons and heavy-duty bombs that can destroy underground shelters have been used for the first time, wreaking havoc on crowded neighborhoods. One Syrian ambulance crew called Shafak said Sunday that half the dead it had collected over the weekend were children, according to Save the Children. 40% of the population in eastern Aleppo are children, Save the Children said, a statistic that helps to explain the high rates of young casualties. Ahmad Mustafa Makiyya, a volunteer with the ambulance team, said he had to pull his own family members from the rubble of their house, which was struck on Monday. The house was close to a gathering point for day laborers, he said, making the area especially crowded. At an emergency meeting of the UNSC on Sunday, Pindostan, Britain and other allies said that the Russians were abetting war crimes in Aleppo by the government of Assad. Matthew Rycroft, Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, told the UNSC session:
Bunker-busting bombs, more suited to destroying military installations, are now destroying homes, decimating bomb shelters, crippling, maiming, killing dozens, if not hundreds.
Rycroft said that “in short, it is difficult to deny that Russia” is committing war crimes. (note position of unquote mark! – RB)
"Syrians are now facing an unprecedented, unrelenting onslaught of cruelty"
— Foreign Office (FCO) (@foreignoffice) September 26, 2016
Samantha Power accused the Russians of “barbarism”:
— Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower) September 25, 2016
Russia’s government, which has called the military campaign a necessary response to terrorist groups in Syria, responded harshly on Monday to the criticism. Dimitri Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, told reporters in Moscow:
We note the overall unacceptable tone and rhetoric of the representatives of Anglostan & Pindostan, which can damage and harm our relations. Moderate Syrian opposition groups backed by Pindostan and Western and Arab allies have not complied with the terms of the ceasefire by failing to separate themselves from Nusra. Terrorists continue their encroachments, they continue offensives, so that naturally the fight against terrorists is ongoing, and must not be stopped.
Video posted by Qasioun News Agency, an opposition media group showed residents of the Mashad neighborhood in the rebel-held part of Aleppo rescuing children after an aerial assault:
The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations, a Cincinnati-based group that supports hospitals in Syria, said the use of bunker-busting bombs in recent days had made the crisis more desperate. The group said in a statement:
These bombs have the capacity to destroy fortified hospitals, medical points and underground shelters (where tens of thousands are taking shelter) at high risk.
Ban Ki-moon, who has repeatedly denounced what he has called the Syrian government’s culpability in most civilian casualties of the war, also expressed shock at the use of bunker-busting bombs, saying:
These bombs are not busting bunkers. They are demolishing ordinary people looking for any last refuge of safety. International law is clear. The systematic use of indiscriminate weapons in densely populated areas is a war crime.
James Le Mesurier, parent of the White Helmets, said:
The power of these bombs is far more destructive than the barrels stuffed with explosives and shrapnel that Syrian government forces have been dropping on rebel-held areas, where they kill and maim indiscriminately. An ordinary building hit by the so-called barrel bombs will crumble, but the bunker busters obliterate buildings and also leave deep and wide craters. The power of these bombs is far more destructive than the barrels stuffed with explosives and shrapnel that Syrian government forces have been dropping on rebel-held areas, where they kill and maim indiscriminately. An ordinary building hit by the so-called barrel bombs will crumble, but the bunker busters obliterate buildings and also leave deep and wide craters. While underground bunkers in eastern Aleppo have afforded civilians some measure of protection from barrel bombs, the bunker busters leave no place to hide.
Caroline Anning, a spokeswoman for Save the Children in southern Turkey, said Syrian relief workers she had spoken to in recent days told her they no longer felt safe in underground bunkers. Schools, such as they are, operating in basements, have been shut since early July in rebel-held eastern Aleppo. They were scheduled to resume on Saturday, though that now seems unlikely, Anning said. There was little indication Monday that diplomacy could be revived to stop the Aleppo assault, with each side blaming the other. The Syrian government have said over the past week that they intend to retake the entire city by force if necessary. Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, said in a television interview that he considered Pindostan responsible for the collapse of the cease-fire and that Ban’s comments on the Aleppo bombings were “shameful.” Josh Earnest told reporters at the White House that diplomacy remained for now the only viable option for reducing the fighting in Syria and ending the war. He said:
It is hard to imagine Pindostan reaching any other negotiated agreement with the Russians until they have lived up to the commitments they have already made.
Tremendous clip of Trump interrupting Hillary 28 times during the debates and pouting like a child pic.twitter.com/f3fGMwa5gd
— Adam Khan (@Khanoisseur) September 27, 2016
Kremlin says worried that terrorists regrouping in Syria
Dmitry Solovyov, Reuters, Sep 26 2016
MOSCOW – The Kremlin said on Monday it was gravely concerned by the situation in Syria where it said terrorists were using a ceasefire to regroup and wage offensives against government troops. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters:
The Kremlin views the situation as extremely complicated. We are chiefly concerned that the terrorists were using the ceasefire to regroup their forces, to replenish their arsenals, to make obvious preparations for waging offensives. Moderate opposition forces were not being separated from the terrorists. Because there was no separation of moderates from terrorists going on, the terrorists were able to continue their encroachments and continue their offensives. Naturally, the fight against the terrorists is ongoing now. It must not be stopped. Regrettably, the ceasefire regime has not been effective enough to date. But nonetheless Moscow is not losing hope, and what is more important, not losing political will to spare no effort to achieve a steady process of political settlement in Syria. So far it’s been very hard. We can see absolutely no prospect for a summit. Western condemnations will hinder any resolution to the crisis and hurt bilateral relations with Russia.
Turkey welcomes withdrawal of Syrian Kurdish fighters from Manbij: Deputy PM
Ercan Gurses, Ayla Jean Yackley, Reuters, Sep 26 2016
A significant portion of Kurdish YPG militia fighters who were in the northern Syrian town of Manbij are withdrawing to the east of the Euphrates river in a move welcomed by Turkey, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told reporters on Monday.
Relations with EU, Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria, fight against FETÖ tops Cabinet meeting
Merve Aydogan, Daily Sabah, Sep 26 2016
ANKARA – The Turkish government’s Cabinet convened on Monday at Çankaya Palace in Ankara under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım. Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş informed the media members present that Turkish – EU relations were discussed as he underlined that the relationship between the two goes far beyond the refugee deal. In addition Kurtulmuş also spoke on the recent developments in Operation Euphrates Shield, underlining that the aim is to clear Daesh from Turkey’s borders. Though Turkish – EU relations were tense following the failed July 15 coup attempt due to the controversial stance of some EU officials, Deputy PM Kurtulmuş stated that the EU had comprehended the rising democracy and spirit of unity and togetherness in Turkey. Speaking to media persons during the Cabinet meeting, Kurtulmuş said:
Turkey – EU relations is not a matter to be approached under the framework of the refugee crisis, as it would be faulty to degrade relations due to the refugee matter.
As the Turkish deputy prime minister further addressed issues of ongoing investigations on the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and claims of the possibility of a new coup attempt, Kurtulmuş also noted that Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ had done a presentation to the Cabinet’s members where he had also suggested an amendment to the criminal procedures act. Commenting on Turkey – EU relations Kurtulmuş further stressed that additional chapters must be opened by the EU in Turkey’s membership process, added:
Turkey is in favor of opening new chapters with the EU as Turkey does not have any hesitations for these chapters to be opened, especially the chapters 23 and 24.
As Chapter 23 is on judicial and fundamental rights and Chapter 24 on justice, security and freedoms, Kurtulmuş said Turkey has no hesitations regarding these matters and that there is no need to take a step back on these topics. Continuing on by addressing the ongoing Euphrates Shield military operation, which is being conducted by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) jointly with the FSA, Kurtulmuş reminded the media of the three red lines for Turkey in carrying out the operation, saying:
The first is Turkey’s necessity to protect its borders from terror organizations in Syria. The second is Turkey supporting the territorial integrity of Syria, thus willing to do all means of interfering to preserve it. The third is preventing any PYD corridor in northern Syria, which would also affect the territorial integrity of Syria.
As the withdrawal of the terrorist PKK-affiliate, the PYD, to the West of the Euphrates River continues gradually, the Turkish deputy prime minister stressed that the matter has always been the withdrawal of the PYD’s forces.
In this respect, Turkey has persistently reiterated for the withdrawal of PYD to the West of the Euphrates River. We will continue our determination in the region until all means of terror is eliminated completely.
In regards to the discussions on a possible operation in Raqqa and Mosul, Kurtulmuş reminded those gathered that Turkey is in favor of local forces conducting such an operation, as he further underlined that the operations must be conducted under the surveillance of the international coalition. Adding on to his remarks by touching upon the ongoing investigations on FETÖ and the complaints on possible faulty dismissals, Kurtulmuş stressed that the country is going through a very sensitive period and he urged everyone to respect these sensitivities of the government. He said the government will be fair, as he highlighted that those who make anonymous tips are also conducting criminal activity. Commenting on claims of a possible new coup attempt, Kurtulmuş stated that though July 15 may have failed, the FETÖ terror group will still try to disturb the country. However, he assured that the government is taking all necessary measures to prevent such an incident from reoccurring.
Jackass meets Venezuelan president amid escalating tensions
AP, Sep 27 2016
Jackass & Maduro in Cartagena, Sep 26 2016. (Photo: Vivian Salama/AP)
CARTAGENA, Colombia — Jackass Kerry said Monday that he is “deeply concerned” about escalating political tensions in Venezuela as he held his first official meeting with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. The two met in Cartagena, Colombia, following the signing of Colombia’s historic peace agreement between the Colombian government and rebels with FARC. Jackass told reporters ahead of the meeting:
We’re very, very concerned for the people of Venezuela, for the level of conflict, starvation, lack of medicine. The humanitarian situation is of enormous concern.
Leading opposition politicians in Venezuela are demanding to hold a complex recall process on whether to cut short Maduro’s term before it ends in 2019. Venezuela’s opposition vowed Monday to press forward with its bid to recall (ie dismiss – RB) Maduro this year and promised street demonstrations should the government continue to stymie the vote. Opposition leaders spent most of the weekend holed up in a posh hotel debating how to respond to elections officials torpedoing what has been their main political effort, ousting Maduro and holding new elections. Venezuela’s professional class that makes up the bedrock of the opposition’s support is eager for a quick response. Anti-Maduro candidates swept legislative elections in December in the biggest defeat yet for the movement started by the late Hugo Chavez, but they have been outmaneuvered ever since with their legislation blocked by the government-stacked supreme court. The economy has only gone further into its tailspin as the price of oil remains low. Many basic foodstuffs and medicines have become impossible to find without turning to the black market, driving Maduro’s approval ratings down to a nine-month low of 21%. Jackass said delays to the recall (ie the dismissal of Maduro – RB) have been “problematic” (sic) and said:
We need a way forward that can provide a consensus that provides relief to a nation under siege. We’re not looking for conflict. We’re looking for a solution here that works for the people of Venezuela writ broadly.
IDF Censor redacts 1 in 5 articles it reviews for publication
Haggai Matar, +972 Magazine, Sep 26 2016
The Israeli Military Censor has outright banned the publication of 1,936 articles and redacted some information from 14,196 articles over the past five years. That is 1,936 articles that professional journalists and editors decided were of public interest but which never saw the light of day. In fact, the IDF Censor redacted at least some information from one in five articles submitted to it for review since 2011, according to data provided by the Israeli army at the request of +972 Magazine, its Hebrew-language sister site Local Call, and The Movement for Freedom of Information. Under the new chief IDF censor who entered the job last year, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of instances in which the Censor contacts publishers with demands to alter or remove items that have already been published, almost double the number of post-publication censorship attempts in years past. At the same time, the new IDF Censor is intervening slightly less in articles submitted to her office for review prior to publication. Since the start of 2011, the years that saw the most censorship were those in which Israel was engaged in warfare in the Gaza Strip. The highest rates and frequency of censorship took place in 2014, the year of Operation Protective Edge, and the second-highest was 2012, the year of Operation Pillar of Cloud. Furthermore, the data confirms that the IDF Censor’s office bans the publication of documents and materials from the State Archives, documents that have already approved for publication, and some of which have already been published in the public domain.
The Israeli military censor in Israel draws its authority from emergency regulations put in place during the British Mandate period, many of which have remained on Israel’s law books for upwards of 70 years. While other countries have formal mechanisms for requesting that journalists refrain from publishing certain information relating to national security, Israel is all but alone among Western democratic states that have a legally binding state censor. Nowhere else must reported materials be submitted for prior review. Media outlets in Israel, lately expanded to include independent blogs and websites (like +972 Magazine) are required to submit to the IDF Censor for prior review any articles that fall under a broad list of topics relating to national security and foreign relations. The Censor may forbid publication of part or all of the article. That said, the decision of which articles and news items are submitted to the censor for review is made on a case-by-case basis by news organizations and editors themselves. However, once an article has been censored by the military, the journalist is forbidden from revealing what information has been removed, or even to indicate that information has been censored. Adding to the lack of transparency is the fact that the IDF Censor is technically a part of IDF Intelligence branch (AMAN). Attorney Nirit Blayer, executive director of the Movement for Freedom of Information:
Because of that institutional association, it is not subject to freedom of information laws. Nevertheless, the person in charge of
freedom of informationcensorship in the IDF has an approach of publishing anything that can be published. Therefore, we received the requested information quickly and without much difficulty.
Here is the data. Between the years 2011 and Aug 2016, between 13,000 and 14,000 items were submitted to the IDF Censor for prior review each year. During 2011 and 2013, between 20% and 22% of items submitted for review by the IDF Censor were redacted either in part or in full, although in the vast majority only in part. In 2014 there was a significant spike in the frequency of censorship, most likely explained by the war in Gaza that year. Of the articles submitted for prior review by the censor that year, 26% (3,719 articles) were partially or fully blocked for publication (22% were partially redaction, 4% were fully censored). In the past two years, however, there has been a slight reduction in the percentage of articles that were redacted or censored. The IDF Censor partially or fully censored 19% of items submitted for review prior to publication. From the start of 2016 through August, that number dropped even further to 17%, the lowest rate of censorship intervention in the past five-and-a-half years. However, from the very beginning of her tenure as the current IDF Censor last year, Col Ariella Ben-Avraham has been expanding the scope of the IDF Censor’s purview, putting an emphasis on Facebook pages and blogs that self-identify as news or media pages. In late 2015, she contacted dozens of such Facebook pages (including +972 Magazine’s) and sent them a military censorship order requiring them to submit relevant materials prior to publication.
It is now apparent that Ben-Avraham’s proactive policies are not limited to demanding the submission of materials. The current IDF Censor has also been actively seeking the removal, in part or in whole (the data we received does not distinguish), of materials that have already been published. Between 2011 and 2013 the IDF Censor sought the removal of already-published materials, on average, 9, 19 and 16 times per month, and 37 times a month during 2014 (when a war took place). In 2015, a year that saw no wars take place, the IDF Censor contacted publishers on average of 23 times a month with demands to remove content that had already been published. Thus far in 2016 (through August), that number has soared to an average of 37 times a month, the same rate as in wartime, or in other words, nearly two-times more frequently than in 2012. The censor also revealed that between 2014 and 2016, roughly 9,500 files from the State Archives relating to national security were submitted for review. According to the censor, roughly 0.5% of those documents were partially or fully censored. It was not clear how many individual documents were contained in the 9,500 files.
The IDF Censor, in response to our questions, said that it has never approached third-party hosts of news or media (like ISPs or social media platforms) in order to seek the removal of information that was published despite its censorship attempts. However, authorities in Israel use other means of controlling the flow of information and censorship online, even when that information was not published by a person who falls under Israeli jurisdiction, as was reported on +972 earlier this summer. In that case, like many others, the state used another tool for blocking the publication of information it sought to keep secret: judicial gag orders. Gag orders are issued by judges, often without much deliberation and almost always without any consideration of the public interest to know. The number and frequency of judicial gag orders in Israel has grown dramatically in recent years. The number of gag orders issued by Israeli courts has more than tripled in the past 15 years, according to soon-to-be published research conducted last year by Noa Landau, editor of Haaretz’s English edition. Collecting data from Israeli police, the court system, the Israeli army, and Haaretz, Landau found that in the past five years alone, the number of gag order requests went up by roughly 20%. So while the IDF Censor is keeping the use of its powers at levels that remain relatively static, in some ways even reducing them except during wars, Israeli authorities have found a work-around in judicial gag orders. The one piece of data that is missing from the picture is self-censorship. How often do journalists and editors decide on their own not to investigate, look into or write about sensitive topics because they believe the military censor or a judge will stop them from publishing their story? How many stories simply disappear that way every year? We’ll never know.
I intend to complete the hebrew textfile for the whole book and unify it, so that it will be available as one big file to hebrew-reading students on a permanent basis, or as long as the blog lasts, which will ensure its survival and distribution.
Copyright on the hebrew text still belongs to the Magnes Press, I assume. But the date of publication was 1942, and there were no subsequent reprints of this seminal work. Copyright may have lapsed after 70 years, I really don’t know.
Tishby, Preface & Introduction
Tishby, Part One
Tishby, Part Two
Tishby, Part Three (in progress)