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Ed Webb

Parents protest as dream of bilingual education in Israel turns sour | Middle East Eye - 0 views

  • Hand in Hand operates four bilingual schools across Israel and two kindergartens. Jaffa’s primary school classes are the most recent addition.The idea of children from different cultural backgrounds learning together and speaking each other’s language may seem uncontroversial. But it has prompted a fierce backlash from right-wing Jewish groups in Israel.In late 2014 Hand in Hand’s flagship school in Jerusalem was torched by activists from Lehava, an organisation that opposes integration between Jewish and Palestinian citizens. Graffiti daubed on the walls read “Death to the Arabs” and “There can be no coexistence with cancer”.Three of the group’s members were jailed last year. In January Israel’s high court increased the sentences of two brothers involved in the arson attack.Although Lehava is a fringe group, it draws on ideas that have found favour with much larger numbers of Israeli Jews, especially over the past 15 years as the country has lurched to the right.A survey by the Pew polling organisation this month found that half of Israeli Jews wanted Arabs expelled from the state, and 79 percent believed Jews should have more rights than their Palestinian compatriots.
  • 1,350 children are currently in bilingual education, out of a total Israeli school population of some 1.5 million children.
  • The Jaffa parents argue that their coastal city of 50,000 residents, which is incorporated into the Tel Aviv municipal area, is the natural location for a bilingual school.A third of Jaffa’s residents are Palestinian, reflecting the fact that, before Israel’s creation in 1948, it was Palestine’s commercial centre.Although Israelis mostly live in separate communities, based on their ethnicity, Jaffa is one of half a dozen urban areas where Jewish and Palestinian citizens live close to each other.
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  • Within days of the bilingual first-grade classes opening last year, parents hit a crisis when school administrators refused to let the children take off the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha.When the parents rebelled and kept their children home, the management “flipped out”, said Ronel. “Now the trust has gone and we are demanding that they make commitments in writing that things will be different.”
  • Ronel, an Israeli Jewish journalist, said he had long been pessimistic about the region’s future and had contemplated leaving Israel with his family, taking advantage of his wife’s German passport. But that changed once his daughter, Ruth, began at the bilingual kindergarten.“I have become evangelical about it,” he said. “I see how her knowledge of Palestinian identity and the Arabic language has made her own identity much stronger.”He said knowing the other side was essential to strengthening Israelis’ sense of security and reducing their fears. “This is the model for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict too. I am sure this is what a solution will look like.”
  • bilingual schools are proving particularly popular in Israel’s mixed cities. Next year Hand in Hand will open the first bilingual elementary school in Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, following the success of a bilingual kindergarten there
  • Far-right Jewish religious groups, ideologically close to the settlers, have set up seminaries and exclusive housing areas in Jaffa and other mixed cities. “They are going the other way: they want even deeper segregation,” said Dichter.Hassan Agbaria, principal of the only bilingual school in a Palestinian community in Israel, located in the northern town of Kafr Karia, said there were problems in more rural areas too. This month the gated Jewish community of Katzir, close to his school, refused to allow Hand in Hand organisers in for a parents’ registration meeting, accusing the group of “political activity”.“It is a big psychological hurdle for some of them,” he told MEE. “Some think you must be crazy to send your young children into an Arab community every day.”
Ed Webb

It's been a year since the earthquake and Syrians feel forgotten once again | Turkey-Sy... - 0 views

  • The earthquake ravaged an already suffering population. Syrians lost family members, homes, livelihoods, the little sense of stability they may have had amid the continuing war. Over the past year, the number of Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance has surged from 15.3 million to 16.7 million, the highest since the start of hostilities about 13 years ago. And yet, the greater need has not been met with adequate funding; to the contrary, contributions have dwindled.
  • A staggering 90 percent of households struggled to cover essential needs, leaving families to make tough decisions for their children.
  • There’s almost no mental health support available for young people, despite almost 70 percent of children struggling with sadness, according to a survey by Save the Children. Around one-third of Syrian households have children showing signs of mental distress, the UN reported.
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  • Over half of healthcare workers, including qualified mental health professionals, have left the country over the past decade.
  • Before the earthquake, the education system in Syria was already struggling. According to the UN, more than 7,000 schools had been damaged or destroyed. Some two million children were not attending school and 1.6 million were at risk of dropping out. The earthquake made the situation even worse, especially in northwest Syria, where 54 percent of schools were affected.
  • The UN humanitarian response plan was only 37.8 percent funded in 2023. Late last year, media reports indicated that the World Food Programme (WFP) will stop much of its main food assistance programme in the country this year due to a lack of funding.

Freedomhouse Report: Egypt - 0 views

  • 920s, has undergone reform, especially with respect to its procedural elements. Legal prohibitions preventing women's equal access to and representation in the judiciary have been lifted, and social taboos that have restricted their access to certain professions have been broken. At the same time, increasing poverty and hardship have taken their toll on women and their families, limiting their choices and reducing their opportunities to assert their rights.
  • According to Article 40 of the constitution, all citizens are equal, irrespective of race, ethnic origin, language, religion, or creed.[4] Article 40 does not explicitly mention gender, but it is commonly interpreted as protecting women from discrimination. In 2007, Article 62 was amended to call for minimum representation of women in the parliament, opening the door for the establishment of a quota (see "Political Rights and Civic Voice").
  • cent legislative reforms, women do not enjoy the same citizenship rights as men. The parliament amended the nationality law in 2004, allowing the children of Egyptian mothers and foreign fathers to obtain Egyptian citizenship, but the law still prohibits such children from joining the army, the police, and certain government posts
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  • Egypt ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1981. It placed reservations on Article 9(2), regarding the right of women to pass their nationality to their children; Article 16, related to equality within marriage; Article 29(2), on the resolution of disputes related to the convention; and Article 2, which calls for the implementation of policies designed to eliminate gender discrimination, on the grounds that this could violate Shari'a in some cases. The reservation to Article 9(2) was lifted in 2008 after the nationality law was amended to allow women to transfer citizenship to their children. However, the other reservations remain
  • The Egyptian delegation to CEDAW justified the reservations to Article 16 by arguing that Shari'a provides equivalent—rather than equal—rights to women that balance the prop
  • attack, organized a demonstration that was attended by over 500 people.[41] These advocacy efforts have helped lift the taboo against discussing such issues, and t
  • media are increasingly covering both the offending events and the reaction of NGO
  • Government statistics have shown improvements in the gender gap in education level
  • The 2005 elections for the People's Assembly were marked by one of the lowest female participation rates in decades. There were only 131 women out of 5,165 candidates, of which only four were elected
  • As of 2009, there were 18 female members in the 264-seat Consultative Council. No women were elected to the body during the 2004 midterm elections
  • Many women have assumed leadership positions on a local level in recent years, thus increasing their ability to influence gender-based stereotypes, ideas, and values in their communities.
  • onomic dependence on men and a patriarchal culture that mistrusts female leaders
  • fewer Egyptians favor female political empowerment
  • Reflecting this lack of confidence in female leaders, political
  • parties tend to nominate few female candidates, meaning most run as in
  • overnment. In December 2008, lawyer and Coptic Christian Eva Kyrolos became the first female mayor in Egyp
  • On March 14, 2007, the long-standing ban on female judges was lifted
  • Although public voices of dissent are suppressed, women have found multiple ways of expressing themselves, participating in civic life, and seeking to influence policy.
  • he right of women to participate as candidates in elections is hindered by their socioec
  • Amal Afifi became the country's first maazouna, or female marriage registrar
Ed Webb

They can't sail for Europe - so what's happening to migrants trapped in Libya? | Middle... - 0 views

  • the group were first taken to an official centre in Zawiya. “There were 1,200 of us, stacked in hundreds in each room,” she says. “We were so tight that we could not lie down, we had to take turns to sleep."
  • “Once we were inside the detention centre, they started to blackmail us. They used the phones they had taken away to contact our friends in Libya and ask for money in exchange for our release or else directly called our relatives, threatening to kill us if they did not find a way to send money."
  • Libya has become the preferred destination for migrants and refugees heading for Europe. In the first half of 2017, at least 2,030 people died or went missing while crossing the Mediterranean for southern Europe. The greatest number set off from Libya.
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  • armed Libyan groups are receiving payoffs to stop boats leaving Libya, in exchange for aid, aircraft hangars and money
  • Laura Thompson of the International Organisation for Migration told AFP on Wednesday that there “are somewhere around 31 or 32 detention centres, and around half are controlled by, or are in the areas controlled by, the government”. She said that nobody knew how many people were being kept in the facilities, where conditions were "extremely bad”.
  • illegal facilities, directly run by armed militias involved in human trafficking and fuel smuggling, often with the complicity of members of the coastguard service
  • Male captives are frequently beaten until they can somehow get relatives to send more money to Libya, or else set to work in factories or oil refineries. Women may end up being trafficked sexually.
  • a UNICEF report released in February, "detention centres run by militias are nothing but forced labour camps, armed robbery prisons. For thousands of migrant women and children, prison is a hell of rape, violence, sexual exploitation, hunger, and repeated abuses."
  • "Europeans think the problem in Libya is politics,” he says, “but we cannot build a government of national unity without a national army."
  • “When the centres are overflowing, migrants are taken out, there is no money to feed them all,” Ibrahim says. “Some guards are good people, but some of them are corrupt.”He hints at the tangled relationship which exists between centre personnel, smugglers, militia and human traffickers, which pass desperate migrants between themselves like a resaleable human commodity.The guards at detention centres may take money from the traffickers, then hand the migrants over.Or smugglers tip off the coastguard when their migrants are due to sail to Europe so that they will be captured and passed to militias.Or militias will seize migrants in the streets on the grounds that they do not carry the necessary documentation, a requirement in Libya. “They pretend to arrest illegal migrants and then keep them in their centres without food and water, take their money, exploit them, abuse women,” Ibrahim says.
  • The coastguard has repeatedly denied that its members are involved in the people-trafficking trade.But a UN report has found that:"Abuses against migrants were widely reported, including executions, torture and deprivation of food, water and access to sanitation. The International Organisation for Migration also reported enslavement of sub-Saharan migrants. Smugglers, as well as the Department to Counter Illegal Migration and the coastguard, are directly involved in such grave human rights violations."
  • Happiness and Bright's mother - I am never told her name - took all the money that their families could spare, then crossed the Sahara, reached the Libyan coast and paid smugglers to take them to Europe. It was then they were captured and brought to Surman.Happiness says that her friend became ill after Bright was born but received no medical aid. “Now her body is in the nearby hospital. It can’t be sent back to her family. She lost her documents at sea, and her family does not have the money to send the corpse.”
  • “They use us as slaves, and when we are no longer needed, they throw us away,” he says. "Humanitarian organisations do not come here. Sometimes some locals come to us with soap and bread. But no international."
  • She too crossed the Sahara, this time to escape Boko Haram. She was determined that her children would not grow up afraid, fearing every day that they would die."I do not care if they [the coastguards] have stopped me, I will try again," she says, looking at her newborn children. "I know it's dangerous. Nigeria is also dangerous. If war does not kill you, hunger will kill you, and here we are prisoners, the same hell. It's worth trying to cross the sea again.”Princess has yet to learn: she will be lucky to escape Libya.
Ed Webb

Could hydroponics save Yemen from starving? | Green Prophet - 0 views

  • The number of food insecure people in Yemen has risen by 3 million in seven months, with an estimated 17.1 million people now struggling to feed themselves
  • More than two-thirds of Yemen’s population of 27.4 million people now lack access to food and consume an inadequate diet. Another Syria-style crisis may be on our way, and climate change and lack of water is making it worse.
  • “We are witnessing some of the highest numbers of malnutrition amongst children in Yemen in recent times. Children who are severely and acutely malnourished are 11 times more at risk of death as compared to their healthy peers, if not treated on time. Even if they survive, these children risk not fulfilling their developmental potentials, posing a serious threat to an entire generation in Yemen and keeping the country mired in the vicious cycle of poverty and under development,”
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  • 80 percent of Yemenis are in now in debt, and more than half of all households have had to buy food on credit.
  • Up to 1.5 million households engaged in agriculture now lack access to critical agricultural inputs (including seeds, fertiliser, fuel for irrigation) and are in urgent need of emergency agricultural support. Of these, 860 000 households engaged in livestock production lack access to animal feed (fodder, concentrate, mineral blocks) and many livestock-dependent households have been forced to sell their herds to cater for other household needs
Ed Webb

Here's Why You Probably Won't Read This Article About Syria - 0 views

  • analysis by BuzzFeed News shows the number of shares on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites of the most-read stories about Syria in the past two months were a 10th of what they were just over a year ago
  • “I work so hard to try and post videos, but no one cares. I don’t know what to say. They just see the article or report, and just say: ‘Oh, that’s really sad.’ And after that they turn the internet off and go and live their lives.”
  • “People are feeling helpless, they are feeling [that] it is not that we don’t care — it’s that we just can’t do anything.”
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  • Once the footage is online people like Ethar El-Katatney, executive producer of AJ+, pick it up, and try to work out how they can tell the next story from Syria.“All of the footage I am looking at today looks the same as the footage I saw a year ago and it’s the same dust, and blood, and screaming, and hospital rooms and hospital floors,” El-Katatney told BuzzFeed News. “It has become normalized.”
  • “We have hit a ceiling in shocking people,” El-Katatney said. “From [a] pool of blood, or a dying child, and now people have come across severed limbs, decapitation. I don’t think there is anything that I can show that will shock anyone, no matter what it is.
  • In the final two months of 2016, as the four-year siege of the rebel-held city of Aleppo ended in brutal fashion, the four more-shared stories were all shared more than 300,000 times. The best performing story (about how people could help civilians trapped in Aleppo) was shared more than half a million times, almost entirely on Facebook.However, in January and February this year, as the Syrian regime and Russian forces bombarded the enclave of Eastern Ghouta, the most viral piece across all publishers (a BBC News article about children struggling to survive) was shared just 42,000 times.
  • human brains are incapable of coping with prolonged catastrophes, a phenomenon called “psychic numbing.”
  • the more death and destruction you see, on social media for example, the more your feelings of empathy actually decreases. “One plus one is less than two,” in this situation, he said.“We do numb to repeated photographs, just like we numb to increasing numbers of individuals,”
  • almost half a million people have been killed, 5 million more have fled the country, and 6 million have been displaced internally
  • Decisions made by US President Donald Trump’s administration have contributed to keeping the conflict from the international community’s attention. Despite bombing Syria, Trump’s only focus in the country has been ISIS, leaving a vacuum that has been occupied fully by Vladimir Putin’s Russian forces, who have worked together with the regime of Bashar al-Assad to bombard the remaining rebels, like those in besieged Eastern Ghouta.
  • "I think the world is frustrated by the actions of the major powers," said Salwa Aksoy, vice president of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces. "The struggle has lasted so long, and the scale of the war crimes has reached a level where there is just too much pain for the international community to look at it,”
  • “All of our calls to protect children inside Syria have gone unheeded,” she said.“People are genuinely upset, if not angry or outraged, about what is happening now in Syria. For that I have no doubt about,’ she said. “There is, however, a certain element of fatigue among people about the suffering and the continuous horror stories. I think a lot of people feel helpless over what is happening and not being able to stop the bloodshed in Syria.”
  • “What kind of ways can we cover Syria that we haven’t done a thousand times before, whether it is with footage or with the scripting? And sometimes we fail. Sometimes there just really is nothing.”For Adam, messaging from a rooftop elsewhere in Ghouta, he could see the people not retweeting his stories, but he could also hear the shelling continue. “Today, like always bombing, airstrikes, and people killed. Like every day,” he said.“But no one cares.”
Ed Webb

Accountability for Islamic State Fighters: What Are the Options? - Lawfare - 1 views

  • Trump’s sudden announcement that the U.S. would withdraw forces from along the Syria-Turkey border has already had dramatic consequences. Turkish armed forces launched an invasion into northern Syria dubbed “Operation Peace Spring,” in response to which the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the predominantly Kurdish military backed by the U.S.-led coalition, has warned that it will be forced to withdraw some of its guards from the Islamic State detention centers and camps to deal with the invasion
  • both the Islamic State and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are taking advantage of the Turkish invasion to launch their own attacks within Syria: On Oct. 9, the Islamic State attacked an SDF position in Raqqa, the former de facto capital of the Islamic State, and Assad’s Russian-backed forces moved further into Manbij and Idlib. The same day, the U.S. reportedly helped move some of the “most dangerous” Islamic State detainees out of SDF custody but subsequently ordered a halt to any further operations against the Islamic State
  • By some estimates, the SDF is currently holding more than 10,000 Islamic State fighters—including at least 8,000 Iraqis and Syrians and 2,000 foreign fighters—in overflowing temporary detention centers in northeastern Syria. Thousands of family members of detainees are being held in camps for internally displaced persons in the same region
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  • The SDF has consistently asserted that it has limited capabilities to guard these facilities and has continually called for support from the coalition countries. Even before Trump’s announcement on Sunday, the head of the Kurdish forces expressed concern that the camp was at risk of falling under the control of the Islamic State. Despite the general consensus that the status quo was not sustainable, coalition countries have done little to address the problem and there has been no agreement on how to handle these fighters and their families.
  • Iraq reportedly intends to execute at least seven French nationals who were convicted under charges of being members of the Islamic State. There has been little clarity about exactly how these French citizens who had been fighting in Syria ended up in Iraqi detention centers, but experts suspect that they were transferred to Iraq by the SDF at the request of the French government after the French refused to allow them to return home
  • The situation may depend on who—among the SDF, Turkey, Syria and Russia—gains control of the northeastern territory. But if the security surrounding the detainees deteriorates, the Islamic State will likely exploit the situation and create a further opportunity for its ongoing resurgence
  • Although national courts in a conflict region usually provide the most obvious mechanism for criminal proceedings, neither Iraq nor the Kurds controlling territory in Syria have courts that are capable of achieving a just and fair form of accountability
  • a small subset of European governments—along with the SDF—have been calling for some sort of tribunal to deal with the detainees
  • Some see local prosecutions in Syria and Iraq as unrealistic options for foreign fighters, arguing instead for active repatriation followed by possible prosecution in the fighters’ home countries. This is also the option being urged by the U.S. government. Some practitioners even argue that European countries have an obligation to bring foreign fighters to justice under certain international legal instruments (specifically under U.N. Security Council resolutions 2178 [2014] and 2396 [2017]).
  • Countries outside of western Europe, including Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have demonstrated the most initiative in repatriating their nationals. Kosovo, the country that had the highest number of its citizens per capita leave to join the caliphate, has made particularly notable repatriation efforts. In April, for example, the Balkan republic brought back 32 women, 74 children, and four men from SDF custody in Syria. The male returnees were immediately placed in detention, pending prosecution, while the women and children were allowed to return home.
  • some western European examples of the successful handling of returned foreign fighters:
  • European Union has also recently set up a counterterrorism register meant to facilitate prosecutions of returning foreign fighters from Iraq and Syria. The database is intended to be a repository for information from all EU countries about ongoing investigations and prosecutions of terrorist suspects who fought in Iraq and Syria so that all 28 member states have access to the same data and evidence
  • a growing number of calls for the establishment of some sort of ad hoc international criminal tribunal to deal with Islamic State fighters. Leaders from relevant U.N. agencies, Sweden, the Netherlands and the SDF have raised the idea of an international tribunal located in the region to deal with the detainees
  • President Trump maintains that Turkey will take control of the Islamic State prisoners, but it is unclear whether any Turkish officials agreed to assume this responsibility and the detainees are located further inside Syria than Turkey is expected to occupy during the current phase of their offensive. Even if the Turkish forces did start to police the camps, there is concern that Turkey’s security would be inadequate given the country’s past failures to crack down on and contain Islamic State cells within its own borders.
  • Russian-backed Syrian forces may end up in control of the detainees since the U.S. withdrawal from Syria has created an opening for Assad to strike a deal with the SDF. Given Assad’s history of putting thousands of Syrians into “filthy dungeons” to be “tortured and killed,” the Islamic State detainees would potentially be subjected to severe conditions with no prospect of a fair trial
Ed Webb

Between British integration and Arab identity: The history of the Moroccan merchants of... - 0 views

  • The Syrian/Lebanese mercantile community of Manchester existed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but they were not the only Arab group in the UK during this period. Moroccan traders formed a very distinct Arab community in Manchester.
  • Moroccan merchants began visiting Britain as early as the sixteenth century, arriving at the port of St. Ives in Cornwall in 1589
  • In the nineteenth century, Moroccan Muslim and Jewish traders began to settle in Manchester on a more permanent basis. In the 1830s Britain and Morocco signed treaties permitting their subjects to travel and trade in each other’s territories.
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  • the words manisheester and rite – after products bearing the insignia of Manchester manufacturer Richard Wright – entered the local vocabulary in Fes, to refer to good quality tea trays and pots.
  • In his book, Reminisces of Manchester, Hayes noted how close-knit the merchants were and how different their style of business was from English merchants. The latter group were initially shocked by the openness and trust between Moroccan merchants and how, if you wanted to discuss business with one of them, you would have to do so in front of all the others.
  • The Manchester City News praises the Moroccan merchants for their honesty and hospitality. It also notes, however, that most of the Moroccan merchants had married black women, purchased as slaves in Morocco, and brought them back to England. 
  • “Taken as a whole, these Moors were a thoughtful, peaceable, kindly and sociable set of men. Mohammedans by faith one could not but admire and respect them for their strict observance of all that their religion enjoined”. 
  • Moroccans were fascinated with England’s public parks, green spaces, and seaside resorts and would often go on hikes and picnics as well as to the cinema and theatre
  • While his parents insisted that their son be exempted from Christian prayers at school, he and other children would celebrate Christmas, exchanging gifts with British children. 
  • He recalls that he was often bullied by other children because of his Moroccan origin and as a result developed a timid character. 
  • Most of this early Moroccan community had returned to Morocco by 1936 when the Lancashire textile trade declined.
  • While the early Moroccan community in Manchester was relatively small and eventually returned to Morocco, they provide an excellent example of how an Arab community integrated into British life at a time before modern conceptions of citizenship and racial equality – with their associated protections – had been established. 
  • By the 1930s when most of the original Manchester Moroccan community had returned to their country of origin, other Arabs – notably Yemenis – were establishing a more permanent presence in Britain’s cities.
Ed Webb

Our Oligarch - 0 views

  • Abramovich is perhaps the most visible of the “oligarchs” surrounding Putin, who are widely perceived as extensions of the Russian president and keepers of a vast fortune that is effectively under the Kremlin’s control. Much of this wealth was extracted from Russia’s enormous energy and mineral resources, and is now stashed in secret bank accounts in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, in empty mansions and condos from London to Manhattan to Miami, and in yachts and private jets on the French Riviera.
  • as much as 60% of Russia’s GDP is offshore
  • The reserved, gray-bearded Abramovich is notoriously litigious toward critics who seek to detail his close ties to Putin. Last year, he successfully sued the British journalist Catherine Belton, who claimed in her 2020 book Putin’s People that the Russian president dictated Abramovich’s major purchases, including his decision to buy Chelsea. He also extracted an apology from a British newspaper for calling him a “bag carrier” for the Russian president.
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  • Abramovich—who, like many of the most prominent Russian oligarchs, is Jewish—has for years been a prolific donor to Jewish philanthropies. He has given half a billion dollars to Jewish charities over the past two decades, sending money linked to Putin’s kleptocratic regime circulating through Jewish institutions worldwide
  • Among other things, he has profoundly influenced Jewish life on three continents, developing deep financial ties with major communal institutions. He is partly responsible for the preeminent role played by Chabad in the religious life of post-Soviet Russia, for the growth of major Jewish museums from Russia to Israel, for a raft of anti-antisemitism programming involving leading American and British Jewish organizations, and for the expansion of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem
  • the Jewish world is forced to reckon with its long embrace of Abramovich, and with the moral costs of accepting his money
  • Certain Soviet Jews of Abramovich’s generation found themselves at the forefront of an emerging market economy. Concentrated in white collar professions but systematically excluded from desirable posts and from the top ranks of the Communist Party, they were unusually prepared—and, perhaps, motivated—to find legal and semi-legal points of entry into the tightly-regulated commerce between the Soviet Union and the West. This helps explain why, as the historian Yuri Slezkine writes in The Jewish Century, six of the seven top oligarchs of 1990s Russia (Petr Aven, Boris Berezovsky, Mikhail Fridman, Vladimir Gusinsky, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and Alexander Smolensky) were ethnic Jews.
  • Boris Yeltsin soon initiated the firesale privatization of state-controlled industries at the urging of Washington and the IMF—a reckless transition from a command economy to a capitalist one that drove millions of Russians into poverty
  • the Yeltsin administration implemented its infamous loans-for-shares program, selling off key state industries in rigged auctions to Russia’s new business elite for a fraction of their real value in order to stabilize the state’s finances in the short term. Berezovsky and Abramovich gained ownership stakes in Sibneft, one of the world’s largest energy companies, and became instant billionaires.
  • In 1996, the handful of leading oligarchs pooled their financial resources—and directed their media companies’ coverage—to reelect the deeply unpopular Yeltsin over his Communist challenger, Gennady Zyuganov, whose platform of re-nationalizing industries terrified both the Russian and Western business classes
  • Fearing that it was unsustainable for a small group of mostly Jewish billionaires to prop up an ailing, visibly alcoholic president—especially after the ruble collapsed in 1998, dragging down a generation’s living standards and initiating a hunt for scapegoats—Berezovsky spearheaded an effort the following year to replace Yeltsin with a young, healthy, disciplined, and then-obscure former KGB officer named Vladimir Putin. It was a decision he would come to regret.
  • wealth so easily acquired could just as easily be taken away. In 2001, Putin hounded Berezovsky and Gusinsky—whose TV networks had criticized the president’s mishandling of a naval disaster—with criminal indictments for tax fraud, forcing them to sell their media and energy holdings at a fraction of their true cost. As a result, Abramovich, who had never challenged Putin, acquired control of Sibneft, while Berezovsky fled to the United Kingdom and Gusinsky departed for Spain and then Israel. Abramovich again came out ahead in 2003, when the oligarch Khodorkovsky was sent to a Siberian prison on tax charges after criticizing Putin for corruption, leaving his assets in the energy sector to be redistributed among those on good terms with the president.
  • “I don’t think there is a percent of independence in Abramovich,” said Roman Borisovich, a Luxembourg-based Russian banker turned anti-corruption activist who once encountered Abramovich through Berezovsky in the 1990s. “For Abramovich to stay alive, he had to turn against his master [Berezovsky], which is what he did, and he has served Putin handsomely ever since.”
  • Whereas in the Yeltsin era, the term identified a system dominated by truly independent tycoons, “Putin’s top priority when he came to power was to break that system, replacing it with a system of concentrated power in which men who are inaccurately referred to as oligarchs now have only as much access to wealth as Putin allows them to have,”
  • Even as he built up his credibility with Putin, he joined many of his fellow oligarchs in stashing his billions in Western financial institutions, which proved eager to assist. “Elites in the post-Soviet space are constantly looking to move their assets and wealth into rule-of-law jurisdictions, which generally means Western countries like the US or UK,”
  • In 2008, Berezovsky sued his former protege over his confiscated Sibneft shares; then, in 2012, seven months after a judge rejected all of his claims, Berezovsky died in his London home in an apparent suicide. Some former associates believe he might have been murdered
  • In 2017, BuzzFeed reported that US spy agencies suspect Russian involvement in as many as 14 mysterious deaths in Britain over the previous decade, including Berezovsky’s. In the wake of the 2018 poisoning of the defected double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, British intelligence services became increasingly wary of wealthy expats with close ties to the Kremlin. Diplomatic strain stymied Abramovich’s effort to acquire a Tier 1 British visa, which would have enabled him to stay in the country for 40 months.
  • “No one forced the British or American real estate industries to toss their doors open to as much illicit wealth as they could find, or the state of Delaware to craft the world’s greatest anonymous shell company services,” said Michel. “Western policymakers crafted all of the policies that these oligarchs are now taking advantage of.”
  • Abramovich also safeguarded a significant part of his fortune in the US, especially during his third marriage to the Russian American socialite and fashion designer Dasha Zhukova. Even after their 2018 divorce, Abramovich began the process of converting three adjacent townhouses on Manhattan’s Upper East Side into what will eventually become the largest home in the city, an “urban castle” valued at $180 million—making him one of the many wealthy Russians sheltering assets in New York’s booming and conveniently opaque real estate sector. (The mansion is intended for Zhukova and their two young children; Abramovich also has five children from his second marriage based primarily in the UK.) He also owns at least two homes in Aspen, Colorado, a gathering place of the global elite.
  • the oligarchs are now credibly threatened with exile from the West. Countries like France and Germany have already begun confiscating yachts owned by select Russian officials. And although the UK is still struggling to come up with a legal basis for following suit, leading politicians like Labour Leader Keir Starmer are urging direct sanctions against Abramovich. “Abramovich’s reputation has finally collapsed, along with the other supposedly apolitical oligarchs,” Michel said four days after Russia invaded Ukraine. “There’s no recovery from this. This is a titanic shift in terms of how these oligarchs can operate.”
  • Israel has been more hesitant to hold him to account.
  • In 2018, Abramovich acquired Israeli citizenship through the law of return, immediately becoming the second-wealthiest Israeli, behind Miriam Adelson. As a new Israeli citizen, he joined several dozen Russian Jewish oligarchs who have sought citizenship or residency in the Jewish state—a group that includes Fridman, Gusinsky, and the late Berezovsky. Since 2015, Abramovich has owned and sometimes lived in the 19th-century Varsano hotel in Tel Aviv’s trendy Neve Tzedek neighborhood, and in 2020 he purchased a mansion in Herzliya for $65 million—the most expensive real estate deal in the country’s history
  • As an Israeli passport holder, Abramovich is eligible to visit the UK for six months at a time and is exempt from paying taxes in Israel on his overseas income for the first decade of his residency
  • Given his increasingly precarious geopolitical position, Jewishness has become Abramovich’s identity of last resort—and Jewish philanthropic giving has provided him with an air of legitimacy not only in Israel but throughout the Jewish world. Abramovich and his fellow oligarchs “need to spend some money to launder their reputations,” said Borisovich, the anti-corruption activist. “They cannot be seen as Putin’s agents of influence; they need to be seen as independent businessmen. So if they can exploit Jewish philanthropy or give money to Oxford or the Tate Gallery, that’s the cost of doing business.”
  • A 2017 article in Politico, which identified Abramovich and Leviev as “Chabad’s biggest patrons worldwide,” also referred to Lazar as “Putin’s rabbi.” Lazar has often run interference for the Russian president—for instance, by defending his initial crackdown on oligarchs like Gusinsky as not motivated by antisemitism, or by praising Russia as safe for Jews under his governance. (The researcher noted that Putin has also cultivated prominent loyalists in other Russian religious communities, including the Orthodox Church and Islam.)
  • Abramovich also significantly funded the construction of the $50 million Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow, which opened in 2012 (and to which Putin pledged to donate a month of his presidential salary). In a 2016 article in The Forward, the scholar Olga Gershenson suggested that the museum’s narrative bordered on propaganda, framing Jews as “a model Russian minority” and “glorifying and mourning . . . without raising more controversial and relevant questions that would require the viewer to come to terms with a nation’s difficult past.”
  • “It concentrates on the Soviet victory over the Nazis, and then it ends by saying that Jews in Putin’s Russia are all good and content.”
  • “Say No to Antisemitism” has brought together Chelsea players and management with many top Jewish groups; the currents heads of the ADL, the WJC, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and the Holocaust Educational Trust, among others, are all listed on its steering committee. The campaign is at least in part intended to address the antisemitism of some Chelsea fans, who have been known to shout “Yid!” and hiss in imitation of gas chambers when taunting fans of the rival club Tottenham, which has a historically Jewish fan base that proudly refers to itself as “the Yid Army.” Last November, Israeli President Isaac Herzog described the campaign as “a shining example of how sports can be a force for good and tolerance.”
  • Abramovich is also one of the primary benefactors of a Holocaust museum that opened in Porto last May. As of last year, Abramovich is a newly minted citizen of Portugal (and by extension, the European Union), which offers such recognition to anyone who can prove Sephardic ancestry dating back before the Portuguese expulsion of Jews in 1496.
  • Berel Rosenberg, a representative of the museum, denied that Abramovich had given the Porto Jewish community any money besides a €250 fee for Sephardic certification; regarding reports to the contrary, he alleged that “lies were published by antisemites and corrupt journalists.” However, Porto’s Jewish community does acknowledge that Abramovich has donated money to projects honoring the legacy of Portuguese Sephardic Jews in Hamburg, and he has been identified as an honorary member of Chabad Portugal and B’nai B’rith International Portugal due to his philanthropic activities in the country.
  • Abramovich has made a $30 million donation for a nanotechnology research center at Tel Aviv University; funded a football-focused “leadership training program” for Arab and Jewish children; and supported KKL-JNF’s tree-planting campaign in the southern Negev, which is dedicated to Lithuanian victims of the Holocaust—and which has drawn opposition from local Bedouin communities who view it as a land grab.
  • he has kept his support for Israeli settlements well-hidden
  • Abramovich has used front companies registered in the British Virgin Islands to donate more than $100 million to a right-wing Israeli organization called the Ir David Foundation, commonly known as Elad, which has worked since the 1980s to move Jewish settlers into occupied East Jerusalem. Elad also controls an archeological park and major tourist site called City of David, which it has leveraged in its efforts to “Judaize” the area, including by seizing Palestinian homes in the surrounding neighborhood of Silwan and digging under some to make them uninhabitable.
  • “In order for settlers to take over Palestinian homes, they need a lot of money,” said Hagit Ofran, co-director of the Settlement Watch project at the Israeli organization Peace Now, “both to take advantage of poor Palestinians for the actual purchases, and then for the long and expensive legal struggle that follows, and that can bankrupt Palestinian families. The money is crucial.” Of Abramovich’s support for Elad, she added, “That’s a lot from one source; I assume that if you give such a big donation, you know what it is for.”
  • Just two days before Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine, it was reported that Abramovich is donating tens of millions of dollars to Yad Vashem, the global Holocaust remembrance center in Jerusalem
  • Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan joined the heads of multiple Israeli charitable organizations in urging the US not to sanction Abramovich. The letter was also signed by Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau and representatives of Sheba Medical Center, Tel Aviv University, and Elad
  • Oleg Deripaska and Mikhail Fridman, were already calling for peace negotiations just three days after the invasion. (Fridman and Deripaska are also major Jewish philanthropists, as are other Russian oligarchs including Petr Aven, Yuri Milner, and Viktor Vekselberg. All of them now face global scrutiny.)
  • Even before he announced he would be setting up a charity to help victims in Ukraine, members of Abramovich’s family were quick to distance themselves from the war: A contemporary art museum in Moscow co-founded by Abramovich and Zhukova has announced that it will halt all new exhibitions in protest of the war. Abramovich’s 27-year-old daughter Sofia, who lives in London, posted a message on her popular Instagram account that read, “The biggest and most successful lie of the Kremlin’s propaganda is that most Russians stand with Putin.”
  • Abramovich and others have spent more than two decades loyally serving and profiting off Putin’s corrupt and violent regime—one that has been accused of murdering and jailing journalists and political dissidents and of committing war crimes from Chechnya to Syria. And for much of that time, Jewish institutions worldwide have been more than happy to take money from Abramovich and his peers
  • longstanding philanthropic ties may affect the Jewish communal world’s willingness to hold Russia accountable for its violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty
  • “I think the view of much of Jewish philanthropic leadership, right and left, conservative and liberal, has been the bottom line: If the purposes for which the philanthropy is given are positive, humane, holy, and seen to strengthen both the Jewish community and the whole of society, then to sit and analyze whether the donor was exploitive or not, and whether this was kosher or not, would be hugely diverting, amazingly complicated, and divisive.”
  • Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, acknowledged the difficulty of making ethical calls about donors, but argued that the attempt is still necessary. “In philanthropy, nearly all money is tainted, either because it was acquired by exploiting workers, by harming the environment, by selling harmful products, or by taking advantage of systems that benefit the wealthy to the detriment of others. That said, we can’t throw up our hands and say that we can either take no money or all money; there have to be red lines,” she said.
  • Berman, the scholar of Jewish philanthropy, agrees. “It is tempting to say all money is fungible, so where it came from does not or cannot matter,” she said. “But no matter how much we might want to launder the money, wash it clean of its past and its connections to systems of power, the very act of doing so is an erasure, an act of historical revisionism. Even worse, it can actually participate in bolstering harmful systems of power, often by deterring institutions reliant on that money from holding a person or system to account.”
Ed Webb

Permission to Narrate: Half the story: What @IDFSpokesperson leaves out about #Gaza - 0 views

  • In 2011, the projectiles fired by the Israeli military into Gaza have been responsible for the death of 108 Palestinians, of which 15 where women or children and the injury of 468 Palestinians of which 143 where women or children. The methods by which these causalities were inflicted by Israeli projectiles breaks down as follows: 57% or 310, were caused by Israeli Aircraft Missile fire, 28% or 150 where from Israeli live ammunition, 11% or 59 were from Israeli tank shells while another 3% or 18 were from Israeli mortar fire.Conversely, rocket fire from Gaza in 2011 has resulted in the death of 3 Israelis.
  • Last year, in a post about this issue, we showed how media portrayed a flare-up in cross border violence as a result of increased rocket fire while actual tweets from individuals in Gaza revealed that destructive Israeli strikes preceded and in fact provoked the upsurge in rockets. Of course, the events that came before the upsurge in Gaza-launched projectiles did not get reported.Now, with the daily data we have from UN OCHA and the data we have for launches from Gaza, we can graph the two lines next to each other.
  • Palestinian deaths from Israeli projectiles into Gaza led to a 22% increase in rocket launches the following day, Palestinian injuries led to an additional 4% increase
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  • increases in the red line, which signifies Palestinian casualties, typically precede increases in the blue line, which signifies launches of projectiles from Gaza. This is particularly evident before the most significant spikes in the blue line. This suggests that Palestinian launches may be explained, in part, as a response to Israeli projectiles which kill or injure Palestinians
  • The three Israelis who died as a result of Palestinian projectile fire died during periods of upsurge provoked by preceding Israeli projectile fire into Gaza. In fact, 75% of launches from Gaza came during these upsurges provoked by Israeli fire.
  • This suggests that it is the Israelis and not the Palestinians who, through their capacity to actually inflict high casualties with their projectiles, control escalation in cross border dynamics. While all launches from Gaza cannot be explained as responses to Israeli fire, most of them are.
Ed Webb

Cultural heritage and violence in the Middle East | openDemocracy - 0 views

  • According to reports of the activist Facebook group Le patrimoine archéologique syrien en danger, all six UNESCO World Heritage sites in Syria have been damaged, major museum collections at Homs and Hama have been looted, and dozens of ancient tells have been obliterated by shelling. In Iraq, recent media stories recount ISIS fighters’ use of antiquities to raise revenues. So-called blood antiquities function as cash-cows, fetching high prices from unscrupulous collectors and netting a handsome cut for ISIS. As devastating as this news is, Syria and Iraq are simply additional chapters in the long-running story wherein conflict is characterised by a two-fold assault on humanity: human bodies themselves as well as the objects and sites that people create and infuse with cultural meaning.
  • So-called blood antiquities function as cash-cows, fetching high prices from unscrupulous collectors and netting a handsome cut for ISIS.
  • Current scholarly discussion on the Armenian genocide, however, focuses almost exclusively on the human destruction, not taking into consideration the systematic annihilation of Armenian sites and monuments that has taken place since then
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  • The destruction of human communities is incomplete without cultural violence. This was the conclusion of lawyer and human rights advocate Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-born jurist who coined the term “genocide” and fought successfully for its recognition by international legal bodies as a crime. In Axis Rule in Occupied Europe (1944), he argued: By ‘genocide’ we mean the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group…[It signifies] a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. (Lemkin 1944: 80) Among the “essential foundations” of the life of human societies, Lemkin argued, were cultural sites, objects, and practices. The Holocaust galvanised his human rights work, but it was the tragic case of Turkish Armenians during the beginning decades of the twentieth century that served as the basis for Lemkin’s theory of genocide.
  • Also significant in this context was the systematic replacement of Armenian place names (on streets, buildings, neighbourhoods, towns, and villages) with Turkish names. The erasure of Armenians from collective memory was completed during the Turkish Republic; in their history textbooks, Turkish children hear nothing about Armenian culture or learn simply that they were enemies of the Turks.
  • the Turkish state and its governments have systematically removed all markers of the Armenians’ civilisation
  • This is cultural death, and it is especially dangerous because it legitimates the denial of diversity by authoritarian states and their societies.
  • Historical records document previous erasures of peoples and their culture: the Native Americans and First Nations of north America; the Mayas and Aztecs of Mesoamerica; and the Roman destruction of Carthage (north Africa), which some scholars point to as the earliest recorded organised genocide.
  • the harrowing plight of Syrian journalist Ali Mahmoud Othman, co-founder of Le patrimoine archéologique syrien en danger. Othman was arrested by government forces in March 2012 and has not been heard of since his televised “confession” in May 2012
  • Recurring Internet images of ISIS fighters beheading western men obscure the equally outrageous and horrific acts of sexual violence against women, torture of children, and destruction of homes, markets, churches, Shi’a mosques, and ancient monuments. All of this constitutes the challenging environment in which cultural activists must do their work.
  • Lemkin’s teachings still have something to say to us today: without monuments and cultural objects, social groups are atomised into disaffected, soulless individuals
Ed Webb

Oryx Blog: British Accuracy International AWM sniper rifles in Syria, From Russia with ... - 1 views

    British sniper rifles were sold to Russia, now being used by Assad's forces, which routinely snipe women & children
Ed Webb

UN to teach children about Holocaust in Gaza schools - Middle East, World - The Indepen... - 0 views

  • The United Nations' refugee agency is planning to include the Holocaust in a new human-rights curriculum for pupils in its Gaza secondary schools despite strident opposition to the idea from within Hamas. John Ging, the UN Relief and Works Agency's (UNRWA) director of operations in Gaza, told The Independent that he was "confident and determined" that the Holocaust would feature for the first time in a wide-ranging curriculum that is being drafted.
  • Although the UNRWA director strongly emphasised that the de facto Hamas government had not sought to interfere with the agency – which is responsible for the welfare of some 1 million Gaza refugees – other figures in the movement have angrily condemned the idea of including the Holocaust in any part of the curriculum. Yunis al Astal, a religious leader and a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said last month that it would be "marketing a lie" and a "war crime" to do so.
  • "This is also part of the frustration here. There are so many global tragedies and travesties that are learned worldwide. Who learns about the Nakba? Again [that is] a very reasonable and legitimate demand but it's not 'either/or'; it's both."
Erin Gold

UN commissioner urges move forward on women's rights - The National Newspaper - 0 views

  • Women around the world are denied fundamental freedoms according to the UN’s human rights chief, citing in particular Sudan, Afghanistan and Gulf states.“Women’s rights continue to be curtailed in too many countries,” and efforts must be made to address this,
  • She highlighted recent positive developments in the Gulf, such as the election of nine women in 2006 to the UAE’s Federal National Council [FNC], the election of four women to the 50-member Kuwaiti parliament, and the recent appointment of the first female deputy minister in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.But, Ms Pillay said, the overall situation of women in the region “falls well short of international standards”.
  • South African legal expert, formerly the top judge on Rwanda’s war crimes tribunal, urged Gulf governments to adopt international conventions and reject home-grown laws that discriminate against women.“A crucial step in the right direction is the ratification and implementation of key human rights conventions, as well as the removal of the numerous reservations expressed by many Gulf countries regarding those human rights treaties they have chosen to accept,”
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  • She described “huge gaps” between the “lofty pledges” made by states and the realities of daily life for many of their inhabitants, pointing out that “no country in the world can claim to be free of human rights violations”.
  • Saudi Arabia’s record comes under particular scrutiny, with activists criticising a ban on female drivers and a system of male guardianship that sharply curtails a woman’s right to travel and control her own life.
  • All six members of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) have been censured for laws that block female nationals from passing on their nationality to their children if the father is a foreigner.
  • “We’ve raised several concerns about the situation for women in the Gulf, including a report on the system of guardianship in Saudi Arabia and the problems faced by female migrant workers,
  • Emirati and other Gulf envoys have proven responsive to such criticism at past council meetings.
  • Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign and FNC Affairs, acknowledged the UAE is “not a perfect society” and listed improving conditions for women as at the top of the Government’s agenda. He said limitations on Emirati women passing on citizenship to their children should be “reviewed and debated” with the focus on liberalising such laws.
Jim Franklin

The Associated Press: Bomb kills anti-insurgent cleric in Iraq - 0 views

  • A Sunni cleric known for denouncing insurgents in Iraq was killed Friday by a bomb that ripped apart his car, a police official said, in the second targeted attack on a religious figure in as many weeks.
  • Jamal Humadi was driving home after delivering his Friday sermon in Saqlawiyah, 45 miles (75 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, when a bomb attached to his car exploded, the official said. Two passengers were wounded.
  • calling on worshippers to turn away from the sectarian violence that engulfed the country two years ago.
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  • Last week, Sunni cleric Bashir al-Juheishi was killed by a bomb attached to a car — known as a sticky bomb — in Mosul as he left a mosque there.
  • Insurgents carrying out such targeted attacks are using booby-trapped cans of food and toys, the military spokesman for Baghdad security warned on Friday.
  • Al-Moussawi said troops were also alert to the possibility that insurgents could attempt to mobilize children to carry out attacks, though there have been no recent reports of teens attacking security forces.
  • The military has frequently said it believes al-Qaida in Iraq and other insurgent groups are recruiting children and women because they can more easily evade security measures.
Jim Franklin

Yemen child soldier tells of his hatred for al-Houthi rebels - Times Online - 0 views

  • Jubran, who thinks he is 14 but looks a lot younger, has spent the past few months as a fighter for the Government in the civil war against the al-Houthi rebels. Now the former child soldier is a refugee. With both parents dead, he lives in the squalid al-Mazrak refugee camp near the Saudi border.
  • “I don’t feel safe in the night. I always feel like a Houthi will be coming to get me,” says Jubran.
  • Ask him what he wants to do when he grows up, and he doesn’t hesitate. “I want to f*** those Houthis,” he says.
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  • “My dad was fighting against the Houthis when he died,” says Jubran. “Then I joined the fighters. When I was fighting in the mountains with the soldiers, I used to live in caves. I would just eat whatever, I was not afraid.”
  • “On these Houthis we found a piece of paper saying they will go to paradise. They convince children to fight by giving them this paper that promises they’ll go to paradise.”
  • The rebel leader, Abdul Malek al-Houthi, has said publicly that he wants economic equality and a Shia curriculum in schools but the movement uses darker rhetoric internally. Its slogan is: “Death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews, victory to Islam.”
  • Jubran’s military career ended in defeat. “The Houthis overtook our site and all of us were thirsty and looking for food. We felt like we’d lost the war and that’s why we ran away,” he says. “We were besieged for three days and then there was some negotiation and we left.”
  • Four have war wounds, including his five-year-old sister, who was hit in the leg when a bullet entered their house.
  • Their mother was with them, but she died of an unknown illness on the journey. Now Jubran shares two tents with 12 other children and his uncle and aunt.
  • Jubran says he cannot go to school. “I’m too busy queueing and asking for things,” he explains.
  • An estimated 150,000 people have been displaced and the death toll is unknown — but the world pays little attention. A UN appeal in September for $23 million fell on deaf ears.
  • Jubran hopes to go home eventually. “I don’t know what will be there. We used to have sheep but they all died, but we do have land. Maybe some time I’ll be able to go back.”
    Wow...basically the definition of a crappy life.
Ed Webb

Op-Ed Columnist - America vs. The Narrative - - 6 views

    Musing on an issue some of you wrote about in your midterm. Do you agree with Friedman?
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    I just think it is an interesting concept. "The Narrative" curbs their ideas on American initiatives in the middle east. How its ideals managed to make it to the U.S. and actually be followed is another question. The Narrative can succeed because it begins to spread ideas to children at a young age, which obviously poses an issue. Children legitimately believe the claims and learn that the only way to stop such American evil is by violence. Do I think that this man who killed 13 people at Fort Hood is mentally unbalanced? If you consider following Jihadist beliefs unbalanced then sure. I agree with Friedman, this man was just another case of a child influenced by these ridiculous concepts
    I think the most interesting part of this whole story is the fact that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan did not grow up being indoctrinated with this concept of "The Narrative." As Friedman points out early on in the article, he was born and raised in America, which makes his acceptance of this Arab/Islamic narrative of blaming America for all their problems all the more surprising. It is clearly a powerful force even beyond the Arab world. This links back perfectly to the other Friedman op-ed we read last week about America's role in Israeli-Palestinian peace. If the United States could somehow extricate itself from the region and just get out of the way (significantly easier said than done, unfortunately, but backing out of the peace process would be a start), it would eventually become clear that America is not the source of every problem in the Middle East. Arab governments might have to start answering to their people for some of the problems in their own countries, instead of just pointing a finger at the US. It will only be when this happens that "The Narrative" will begin to lose some of its power.
    What struck me the most is what Morgan commented on, that this was someone who was born and raised in the US. If this "Narrative" has the ability to reach that far and with that much force, then we need to take a look at what we're doing in the Middle East. Even if, as Friedman says, we were doing a kindness to the Arabs when we deposed the Taliban the Baathist regime, I think any good will or positive effect that may have had on the region has expired. I think we need to pull out as much as is possible for us. I don't agree with President Obama on a lot of issues, but I do like the quote that he included at the end. I think it's now the responsibility of the Muslims in the Middle East to take charge of what they can, and to not fall in with the more negative aspects of Islam, and show what good comes from Islam.
    With the way the media is, I don't think you have to live in a certain area to be indoctrinated with concepts from different regions. What is the whole purpose of us blogging? Our blogs can be seen as a historical account for people in the future. With technology we can read blogs from the Middle East, watch videos showing peoples' experiences with different aspects of their daily lives in their respective country, and watch/ read the news. It is pretty apparent that Hasan was mentally unbalanced. I read/ or saw something that he had been harassed for being a Muslim. Last week in my religion class my professor showed us a clip that mentioned he was working to join al-Qaeda. With the internet he was able to get in contact with people in the Middle East. When a person feels like a minority they will want to latch on to another group to have the feeling of belonging. This is a possibility for how Hasan was thinking when he if he got in contact with a member of al-Qaeda or why he shot all those people.
Ed Webb

Frankie Boyle's review of 2018: 'Let's forget Brexit and enjoy our last Christmas with ... - 0 views

  • Consider again the plight of the children starving in Yemen. It’s a hard thing to consider. It’s OK to admit that, I think – that it’s hard to empathise: you don’t know much about it, you have your own plight, and it’s a difficult thing to think about. To consider that, in a world that has pub lunches, wristwatches, golden retrievers, the novels of Donna Tartt, the music of Kendrick Lamar, flumes and The Amazing Spider-Man, there is still a plight where you starve to death, as a child, for no reason. I mean, there is a reason, that I suppose has somehow made itself too obvious to mention. The reason is that some people are addicted to money and power, many of them pathologically so, and we let them do what they like. In our name, and with our taxes, we let them kill who they like in the service of their bored, baroque perversity, because we don’t care enough to stop them. We cannot seem to rouse ourselves, even as they move to turn the world into a consuming flame. We are running out of time to save the children of Yemen, and ourselves – and yet we could still, in theory, be redeemed. Consider the plight of the satirist.
Ed Webb

Mohammed Bin Salman; A Prince Who Should Not Become A King » Deep State Radio... - 0 views

  • In a meeting with current and former U.S officials in Washington during his last visit in the Spring, crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman said that he was interested in spending up to a hundred million dollars to arm the “Lebanese Forces”, the civil war Christian militia turned political party to transform it from a political adversary of Hezbollah into a lethal enemy. According to a participant in the meeting, the crown prince found no interest in this scheme either in Washington or in Beirut. Contrary to its name, this political party does not have an armed wing and its leadership has disavowed publicly the use of force.
  • The Qatar crisis demonstrated clearly that the new younger leaders in the Gulf see politics as a zero sum game, that they  are more willing  than their more measured and cautious fathers, to double down and burn the last bridge.
  • No Arab country could match Iran’s Shi’a foreign legions, with sectarian legions of their own. Mohammed Bin Salman is very aware of this predicament, and of the embarrassing limits of Saudi military power.
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  • In his short tenure, Mohammed Bin Salman has blazed a trail of bold and bloody moves domestically and regionally that were norm busting, counterintuitive and precedent breaking. While every Saudi monarch since 1932 had interfered in Yemen’s domestic affairs politically, militarily and often aggressively, only Muhammed Bin Salman as the leader of the wealthiest Arab country waged a war to destroy the already weak and fractured economy and infrastructure of the poorest Arab country. His air war soon turned into a rampage of indiscriminate bombings and blockades amounting to possible war crimes, creating the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. Save the Children organization has estimated that 85,000 children might have died of malnutrition and starvation since the bombings began in 2015.
  • Saudi Arabia has had border disputes with Yemen and most of her smaller Gulf neighbors for many years. On occasions it tried to use coercive methods mostly employing tribes to settle these disputes the most famous of which was the Buraimi Oasis dispute of the 1940’s and 50’s, involving Saudi Arabia, Oman and what is now the UAE. But ever since the formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council in 1981 to coordinate economic, political and potentially military policies, disputes were expected to be resolved amicably among member states; Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. The grouping never amounted to an alliance and now it is in tatters because of political, personal and ideological tensions involving mainly Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE vs. Qatar.
  • The man who condemned civilians in Yemen to a slow death, blockaded neighboring Qatar, cracked down harshly on peaceful activists at home, ordered the brutal killing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi abroad, and engaged in a brazen shakedown of other Saudi royals, was in the process of trying to add to his list of depredations, the resumption of armed conflict in Lebanon.
  • Mohammed Bin Salman has trapped himself in a war in Yemen that he cannot win, but he has already lost his campaign against Qatar.
  • the case can be made that Mohammed Bin Salman’s war in Yemen made the Houthis more dependent on Iran and gave Iran and Hezbollah a military foothold on the Arabian Peninsula that did not exist before the war. The blockade of Qatar led to improved political, economic and trade relations between Doha and Tehran, and increased Turkey’s military profile in the Gulf for the first time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago.
  • Much has been written about Mohammed Bin Salman as a ‘reformer’, but most of the focus was on the ‘historic’ decision to allow women to drive, (a decision any new ruler was expected to take) to open up movie theatres, and to allow men and women for the first time to watch together sport competitions. The crown prince was praised because he wanted to diversify the ‘one crop economy’ and make it less dependent on hydrocarbon production, through greater foreign investment, an issue the Saudi elites have been discussing for years. At best these measures are necessary for any nation to survive let alone thrive in the modern world. But there was not a single serious decision to politically empower the population, or to open the public sphere even very slightly
  • the short reign of Mohammed Bin Salman has been more despotic than previous rulers. No former Saudi Monarch has amassed the executive powers, political, military and economic that the crown prince has concentrated in his hands except for the founder of the ruling dynasty King Abdul-Aziz  Al Saud. His brief tenure has been marked by periodic campaigns of repression. Long before the murder of Khashoggi, scores of writers, intellectuals and clerics were arrested for daring to object to the crown prince’s decisions. Many are still languishing in jails with no formal charges. Even some of the women activists who pushed hard for years to lift the ban on women driving, were incarcerated on trumped up charges of ‘treason’. Women are allowed to drive now – but the crown prince would like them to think that this is because of his magnanimity, and not their struggle- but they are still subject to the misogynistic and atavistic female guardianship system, which treat adult women regardless of their high education and accomplishments as legal minors.
  • Jamal Khashoggi is the last of a long trail of Arab journalists and men of letters murdered by their governments at home and abroad. But he was the first one to have a reputable, international medium, the Washington Post that published his columns in English and Arabic, which was one of the reasons that enraged the crown prince. Jamal, was the first journalist millions of people all over the world watched walking his last steps toward his violent death
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