Saturday 26 August 2017


On Saturday, the Iraqi Army and the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) liberated the center of Tal Afar town including the historical Tal Afar citadel from ISIS terrorists. Moreover, the Iraqi forces captured al-Qadisiah, Sa’ad, Kifah and al-Rabia’a districts in Tal Afar town.
A report of the Russian “Russia Today” news TV channel claimed that the Iraqi forces allowed 400 families of ISIS fighters to withdrew from Tal Afar. It’s still unknown if this was part of a deal between ISIS and the Iraqi forces.
Iraqi sources claimed that Iraqi forces captured 95% of Tal Afar area west of Mosul. However, these claims still have to be confirmed. It’s expected that the Iraqi forces will make more gains today as the ISIS defense in Tal Afar is collapsing.


Iraqi Forces Besieged ISIS Members In Center Of Tal Afar Town
On Friday, the Iraqi Army and the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) captured al-Sa’ad and Second al-Wihdah districts in Tal Afar town in northern Iraq. With this move, government forces besieged dozens of ISIS fighters in Baghlar, al-Nida’a and Karki districts in the center of Tal Afar town.

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الفرقة 15 من الجيش العراقي وقطعات الحشد الشعبي تحرر مركز ناحية المحلبية جنوب-شرق تلعفر بالكامل، وتبدأ بتطهير المنازل
Furthermore, the Iraqi forces captured al-Mushirfah, Murishah, al-Akabat and Tal Alan al-Kabir villages near al-Muhilibiah town east of Tal Afar. The Iraqi forces also captured the following areas:
  • Silo Tal Afar area in southwest of Tal Afar area;
  • Al-Talia’a area in the center of Tal Afar area;
  • Al-Qhabat area southeast of Tal Afar area.
During its advance government forces killed 81 ISIS fighters and captured a large ISIS VBIED workshop in the center of Tal Afar area. The army and the PMU also captured a media center of ISIS and an ISIS depot and workshop for drones.
The ISIS-linked news agency Amaq claimed that ISIS fighters killed 13 PMU fighters during clashes on the Hasnkoy street near al-Nour district in the eastern part of Tal Afar town.
According to Iraqi sources ISIS begin relying mainly on VBIEDs and IEDs attacks and snipers to stop the Iraqi forces advance in Tal Afar town.


On Thursday, the Iraqi Army and the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) captured al-Khdra’a, al-Noor and al-Naser districts in the eastern part of Tal Afar town located west of Mosul.
The Iraqi forces also captured al-Wihdah and al-Mualimen districts in the northern part of the town, and al-Jazzera and Tal Khidr Elias districts in the southern part of Tal Afar.
Moreover, the the army and the PMU captured Qurahat Tabi village north of Tal Afar airport, and the road to the historical Tal Afar citadel.
The Iraqi forces killed 71 ISIS fighters during its advance, and destroyed 4 VBIEDs and 4 booby trapped motorcycles of ISIS. PMU artillery units and the Iraqi Air Force’s warplanes also destroyed several ISIS positions in the Tal Afar area.
The ISIS-linked news agency Amaq claimed that 16 Iraqi soldiers were killed after ISIS fighters detonated booby trapped houses in al-Naser district. Amaq also claimed that 9 vehicles of the PMU were destroyed with IEDs in al-Naser district.
A report of the PMU intelligence said that most ISIS fighters withdrew to al-Auruba and al-Talia’a district in the northern part of Tal Afar town, where they planted dozens of IEDs to stop the Iraqi forces advance.
The government advance:
Iraqi Army And Popular Mobilization Units Capture Seven New Districts In Tal Afar Town

Iraqi Army And Popular Mobilization Units Capture Seven New Districts In Tal Afar Town

Iraqi Army And Popular Mobilization Units Capture Seven New Districts In Tal Afar Town

Iraqi Army And Popular Mobilization Units Capture Seven New Districts In Tal Afar Town

Iraqi Army And Popular Mobilization Units Capture Seven New Districts In Tal Afar Town

Iraqi Army And Popular Mobilization Units Capture Seven New Districts In Tal Afar Town

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Assad is Here to Stay, West Tells Syrian Opposition: The Times

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
In a significant policy shift on the civil war in Syria, Britain and its western allies have finally dropped their long-standing demand that President Assad must step down — and may even accept elections in which he is allowed to stand again, a report said.
Ministers yesterday confirmed a turnaround in policy towards Syria, The Times reported on Saturday.
The British daily said the Syrian opposition leaders were told this week in Riyadh that they now had little choice but to accept that Assad was in Damascus to stay.
“There was no longer any point in holding up talks over Syria’s future by sticking to the position that he (Assad) had to step down before negotiations could begin.”
Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, hinted at the change in an interview on Radio 4’s Today program, according to the daily.
“It is overwhelmingly in the interests of the Syrian people that Assad should go,” the Times quoted Johnson as saying.
“We used to say he has to go as precondition. Now we are saying that he should go but as part of a transition. It is always open to him to stand in a democratic election,” the British foreign secretary added.
In the same context, the daily quoted diplomats as saying that Johnson was confirming a gradual shift forced on the opposition and the West by events on the ground.
The new position was shared by Britain’s allies and the opposition’s regional backers, the daily reported.
It said that Yahya al-Aridi, an opposition spokesman was disappointed with western countries.
The Times also quoted another source as saying:
“Our policy is based around pragmatism and realism. It’s hard to see any future stable and peaceful Syria with Assad still there, given how much damage he has caused. But whether or not he is staying is no longer a precursor to discussions.”

US, Saudi Ask Syria Opposition to Accept Assad’s Political Role: Report

August 25, 2017
US and Saudi diplomats have reportedly been urging the armed Syrian opposition to come to terms with President Bashar al-Assad’s role in Syria’s future, a report said, indicating to the major policy U-turn in the western stance from the Syrian crisis.
In an article published on Thursday, the Associated Press said the Syrian army holds the upper hand on the battlefield against militant groups, pointing to the major shift in the strategies of Western and regional supporters of Syrian opposition groups and militants with regard to the developments in Syria.
“Western and regional rebel patrons, currently more focused on advancing their own interests rather than accomplishing regime change in Damascus, are shifting their alliances and have ceased calls on Assad to step down,” the report said.
Former US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, who is widely considered as Washington’s civil war engineer in different parts of the world and a key instigator of the Syrian conflict in 2011, has ruled out the likelihood of Assad’s removal, saying, “There is no conceivable military alignment that is going to be able to remove him.”
“Everyone, including the US, has recognized that Assad is staying,” said Ford, who is currently a fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C.
According to an interlocutor, who mediates between the opposition and state capitals and requested anonymity, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told the opposition it was time to formulate “a new vision.”
“He did not explicitly say Bashar [Assad] is going to stay, but if you read between the lines, if you say there needs to be a new vision, what is the most contentious issue out there? It is whether Bashar stays,” said the interlocutor, according to the article.
Source: Press TV
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نتن ياهو يتجرّع السم ويتهيّب المنازلة الكبرى

أغسطس 26, 2017

محمد صادق الحسيني
أفاد مصدر استخباري غربي متابع للقاء بنيامين نتن ياهو مع الرئيس الروسي يوم أمس الأول، في سوتشي، بما يلي:

اولاً: إنّ نتن ياهو قد خرج من اللقاء خالي الوفاض، كما عاد رئيس الموساد، يوسي كوهين، من واشنطن.

ثانياً: إنّ بوتين لم يُعِر كلام نتنياهو، حول أنّ «إسرائيل» لن تقف مكتوفة الأيدي إذا تخطت إيران الخطوط «الإسرائيلية»، أيّ اهتمام. وكان نتن ياهو قد قال ذلك خلال اللقاء. ومعنى تجاهل الرئيس بوتين لتهديدات نتن ياهو بأنّ «إسرائيل» ستشنّ حرباً ضدّ إيران وحزب الله في سورية، أنّ بوتين يعتبر ذلك ليس أكثر من هراء لا يستحقّ الردّ عليه.

ثالثاً: إنّ قيام «إسرائيل» بأيّ تحرّك عسكري ضدّ أهداف لحلف المقاومة في الأراضي السورية لا يمكن أن يحصل من دون الحصول على ضوء أخضر أميركيالأمر الذي يستبعده الرئيس الروسي تماماً، في ظلّ التفاهم الحاصل بين بوتين وترامب.

رابعاً: لم يعلّق الرئيس الروسي على اعتراض نتن ياهو على وجود إيران وحزب الله المسلح في قاطع الجولان/ درعا، مما يعني أنّ روسيا موافقة على ذلك، وأنها ليست في وارد التفكير بالتعامل مع المطالب «الإسرائيلية» غير الواقعية.

خامساً: يجزم المصدر المشار اليه أعلاه بأنّ العلاقات الإيرانية الروسية ستشهد تطوّراً هاماً في الفترة المقبلة خاصة على الصعيد العسكري.

سادساً: إنّ أحد أسباب نمو العلاقات العسكرية بين الطرفين يعود إلى أنّ روسيا تعتبر الوجود العسكري لمحور المقاومة في سورية مكمّلاً، لا بل معززاً للوجود الروسي هناك. كما انه عامل مساعد للجهود الروسية في توسيع الوجود العسكري والاقتصادي الروسي ليس في سورية فقط، وإنما في لبنان ايضاً.

سابعاً: إنّ التسليح الروسي المحتمل للجيش اللبناني يَصب في تحقيق هذا الهدف وتمكين روسيا من توسيع وجودها ليشمل الساحل اللبناني، مما يعني دوراً أكبر لروسيا في صناعة النفط والغاز في كلّ من سورية ولبنان، ولاحقاً شواطئ فلسطين المحتلة وقبرص من خلال مناورات مدروسة في هذا المجال.

سابعاً: إنّ فشل نتن ياهو في تحقيق أيّ مطلب من مطالبه خلال اللقاء مع بوتين يزيد من هشاشة الوضع الاستراتيجي لـ«إسرائيل» في المنطقة، وبالتالي تعميق المأزق الاستراتيجي الذي تعاني منه.

من جهة أخرى فقد جاء في تقييم داخلي للاستخبارات العسكرية «الإسرائيلية»، حول الوضع الميداني في سورية وعلى حدودها مع فلسطين المحتلة وشرق الأردن، تمّ إنجازه بتاريخ 11/8/2017، جاء فيه ما يلي:

أولاً: إنّ نجاح الجيش السوري وحلفائه في السيطرة على 57 كيلومتراً من الحدود السورية الأردنية في محافظة السويداء، ومواصلة الهجوم شرقاً باتجاه مثلث الحدود العراقية السورية الأردنية، وفي ظلّ وجود قوات أميركية خاصة في التنف وقوات روسية في درعا، يعتبر نجاحاً استراتيجياً مهماً للنظام السوري وحلفائه.

ثانياً: إنّ ما يجب أن يثير القلق لدينا الجهات العسكرية «الإسرائيلية» هو أنّ سيناريو السيطرة على الحدود الأردنية السورية قد يتكرّر قريباً في القنيطرة، رغم وجود قوات روسية على بعد كيلومترات قليلة من الحدود مع الجولان. أيّ أننا قد نجد أنفسنا، نحن والأردن محاطين بقوات إيرانية، الى جانب الجيش السوري وقوات حزب الله، من كلّ جانب.

ثالثاً: إنّ الولايات المتحدة وروسيا، ورغم ادّعائهما بأخذ مصالح «إسرائيل» الأمنية بعين الاعتبار خلال مرحلة التفاوض على اتفاق مناطق خفض التصعيد، فأنهما لم تتخذا ايّ إجراء لوقف التهام الجيش السوري لمحافظة السويداء كاملة. كما أنّ الولايات المتحدة والأردن لم تقدّما أية مساعدة للمجموعات السورية المسلحة لمواجهة هجوم الجيش السوري في السويداء.

رابعاً: إنّ بقاء قوات حزب الله ووحدات الحرس الثوري الإيراني على بعد أقلّ من كيلومترين من الحدود مع الجولان في ريف القنيطرة يؤكد أنّ الوعود التي قطعت لنا، من قبل الروس والأميركيين خلال مرحلة التفاوض على اتفاق وقف التصعيد، لا قيمة لها أيّ الوعود إذ إنهما لم يلتزما بسحب هذه القوات إلى مواقع تبعد 49 كم عن الحدود مع الجولان.

خامساً: وما يعزز توجهنا إزاء نيات سورية وإيران وحزب الله في الجولان هو عجز الولايات المتحدة أو عدم اهتمامها بوقف الانهيار الذي تعاني منه الجماعات المسلّحة المدعومة أميركياً. وقد لاحظنا ذلك على جبهات السويداء عندما قام المسلحون بتسليم أسلحتهم الأميركية لجنود الجيش السوري ومقاتلي حزب الله والهرب الى الأردن من دون أن تقوم الولايات المتحدة بعمل أيّ شيء. وهذا ما يجعلنا نخشى تكرار هذا السيناريو في منطقة القنيطرة مما سيشكل تهديداً استراتيجياً لقواتنا في مرتفعات الجولان كلها وسيفضي الى وضع استراتيجي ليس في صالحنا، خاصة إذا ما أضفنا احتمال حصول الشيء نفسه في منطقة حوض اليرموك.

سادساً: يبدو أنّ انهيار المجموعات المسلحة في سورية سيتواصل، لا بل سيزداد تسارعاً خلال الأسابيع المقبلة، خاصة بعد إبلاغ الجبير لقادة المعارضة السورية قرار بلاده وقف الدعم الذي تقدّمه لمجموعات سورية مسلحة، والتحاق تركيا بهذا الركب، اذ أعلنت أنقرة، يوم السبت 12/8/2017، عن قرار وقف تقديم الدعم للمسلحين السوريين.

وهذا يعني أنّ هناك قراراً أميركياً بحصر الهدف الأميركي في محاربة داعش فقط ونسيان موضوع الأسد نهائياً. أيّ أنّ تركيا والسعودية والأردن تلتزم بالقرار الأميركي ولم تعد تطالب بإسقاط نظام الأسد.

سابعاً: أما النتيجة العملية والملموسة لكلّ هذه التطورات فتتمثل في أنّ «إسرائيل» تجد نفسها في مواجهة حلف معادٍ لها ثلاثي الأضلاع ويتكوّن من:

– الجيش السوري، الحرس الثوري الإيراني، حزب الله.

وهذا ما تعتبره تهديداً استراتيجياً مباشراً لأمن «إسرائيل» مما يستدعي العمل على مواجهة هذا التهديد بكلّ الوسائل المتاحة وعدم الاعتماد على الوعود الأميركية والروسية التخديرية…

مزيداً من كؤوس السمّ يتجرّعها «الإسرائيليون» على بوابات الشام، والمقبل أخطر وأعمق وأكثر مفاجأة خاصة إذا ما حان يوم المنازلة الكبرى.

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

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The Antisemitism Fallacy; Let’s Focus on Palestinians

‘We can thus confidently dissociate anti-Zionism from antisemitism.’ (Photo: File)

By Blake Alcott

Speaking to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on July 16, 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron repeated the popular formula that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitic. According to Macron, anti-Zionist and anti-Israel expressions are “a new type of anti- Semitism.” We hear this almost daily, and pretty soon one of us anti-Zionists will land in jail for arguing that only a democratic, Palestinian state in Palestine has a right to exist there.
Only a few decades ago, and only for a few decades, Zionism was racist, but now, according to the head of Security Council member France, the allegation is that it is anti-Zionism that is racist.
There is however a large logical flaw in this argument that believing Israel should be replaced by a democracy is antisemitic: The anti-Zionist position denies only the right of a Jewish state to exist in Palestineat the expense of the indigenous Palestinians. It does not deny the right of Jews, or ‘the Jews’, to a state of their own somewhere, at nobody’s expense. Nor does it necessarily affirm it. This pro-Palestinian position simply denies the right of any state, whether Jewish or anything else, to impose itself on Palestine against the will of the indigenous Palestinians.
The issue, that is, has never been Yes or No to the question of Jewish self-determination as such, embodied in a state. Even if the answer is Yes, a Yes to Israel does not follow: the claim of some Jews, or Zionist Jews, or European Jews, or Christian Zionists, that ‘the Jews’ own Palestine does not stand up. The land belonged and still belongs to the flesh-and-blood twentieth-century inhabitants whose ancestors had lived there for centuries or millennia.
Instead, the issue has always been on whose land and at whose cost a Jewish state could justly be established. Palestine could always be ruled out because on any rational moral standard the property rights and political rights of the Palestinians – be they Moslem, Christian, Jewish or atheist – had precedence.
These are the problems that make it impossible for Zionism – which insists its state must be in Palestine – to have any ethical justification. That the imposed state is Jewish is not relevant. Relevant is only that it imposed, necessarily through military force.
Anti-Zionism – better, pro-Palestinianism – thus takes no stand at all on the general question of Jewish self-determination. It can even, in spite of strong arguments in principle against ethno-religiously defined states, hold great sympathy for the wish of many Jews for a haven where they are safe from European persecution. But not at others’ existential expense.
For this discussion, it is not even necessary to define what one means by ‘Jewish state’. Whether it is something cuddly, with a flag showing the Star of David and Hanukkah instead of Christmas, or the real Zionist entity which legally privileges Jews and refuses ethnically-cleansed Palestinians their right of return, is of no relevance. Either state, if rejected by a majority of Palestine’s indigenous people, is illegitimate.
This is in fact what it means to reject Israel’s legitimacy: it is a British-enabled, European colony. A necessary condition of the Zionist state was and is the eradication of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination. The case for Israel’s illegitimacy thus has nothing to do intrinsically with Judaism or Jews, but only with the fact that Zionism threw the first stone of aggressive colonialism. The rightful polity never wanted Israel, period.
That is to say, that from a moral point of view Zionism’s problem is that Israel is in the wrong place. Any place would be wrong if the state’s existence presupposed military conquest and ethnic cleansing. That the antisemitism that gave rise to Zionism in the first place was European, having nothing to do with Palestinians, merely rubs salt in the wounds of Palestinians and of justice.
Thus, we can say that Israel has no right to exist (it is not right that it exists), where it is and in the manner that it maintains itself, without saying a single word about Jews, a Jewish collective, Jewish statehood or Jewish self-determination. We are talking about Palestine and Palestinians.
We should in fact start any discussion of Palestine and Israel with Palestine, not with philo- or antisemitism or with the ins and outs of the Zionist endeavor or with the historical claims of some long-ago residents. In the beginning of modern political Zionism were indigenous Palestinians, and their enduring and inalienable rights should be our focus, a positive focus in no need of defense against far-fetched accusations concerning one or the other attitude towards Jews and their national aspirations.
Our arguments for the sole legitimacy of a state determined by the majority of the Palestinians – wherever they now live – do in fact entail the negatively-expressed conclusion that Israel is illegitimate. But the argument for Palestinian self-determination, in Palestine, makes no necessary mention of the particular non-indigenous ethnic or religious group in terms of which Israel defines itself. Thus, the claim that the anti-Zionism entailed by full recognition of Palestinian rights is antisemitic simply falls flat for lack of an object.
The IHRA Definition
The conflation of opposition to Israel with opposition to Jews is thus embarrassingly illogical. Yet we see the President of France doing exactly that, and likewise the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), but before looking at that organization’s definition, what is antisemitism? It is not all that complicated. It is antipathy or violence towards Jews, or any other abuse of them, because of their descent or religion. (Without this motive, violence and abuse remain crimes, but not racist ones.) Nobody can help who their ancestors are, so such attitudes and actions are criminal and racist.
The definition of antisemitism now being used to shift the term away from Jews as such over on to Zionism and Israel has a long history, but here it is, black-on-white, in its influential IHRA version: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Although the formulation “hatred toward Jews” leaves out the decisive phrase ‘because they are Jews’, let’s accept this so-called “non-legally binding working definition” adopted by the IHRA on May 26, 2016.
Then come the illogical parts: “Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. … Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life… include… denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”
But of course, anti-Zionism doesn’t target Israel because it is a “Jewish collectivity” (whatever that means) and it doesn’t deny the abstract right of any ethnic or religious group to try to peacefully set up its own state. It does identify Zionism as racist against the non-Jews of Palestine.
Again, you can shout from the rooftops for the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in the form of a sovereign state – if done without violence on land purchased fair and square – and still reject Zionism and Israel. Saying that the wrong of European persecution of Jews does not justify the wrong of Palestinian dispossession is an ethical stand independent of the ethnicities or religions involved. Where is the antisemitism?
Baffling, at first sight, is the IHRA’s use of the phrase “a state of Israel” in place of “thestate of Israel”. My guess is that the authors of the definition know very well that there are sufficient non-anti-Semitic reasons to reject Israel – mainly that it is in Palestine, paid for by the Palestinians. Through this elision I think they are trying to pin on us anti-Zionists opposition to any Jewish state, anywhere. But we have seen that this isn’t true. With full sympathy for any ethnic or religious groups under persecution, we are agnostic on this point.
Freedland Weighs in
Next we have the same conflation committed by J. Freedland, the Guardian’s house apologist for the violent colonial entity in Palestine and who, to the discredit of that paper’s editors-in-chief, was and perhaps still is entrusted with overseeing the paper’s foreign-affairs editorial policy.
On April 29, 2016 Freedland explained in an elaborate, if not baroque, piece in his newspaper why returning Palestine to its rightful owners – why affirming the Palestinians’ right to self-determination – is racist against Jews.
He sets the stage for the conflation by drawing an analogy with a theoretical black state, rather than a Jewish one – “the only place in the world where the majority of the population… were black.” He then imagines there are a lot of people who reject this state, want it replaced. Disingenuously omitting mention of any reasons for this rejection (for instance the state’s discrimination against non-blacks), he then asserts that such an attitude would obviously be anti-black racism, parallel to antisemitism: All good people “on the left… would be suspicious of this insistence that loathing of the world’s only black country was separate from attitudes to black people in general, especially because most black people had a strong affinity with this country, seeing it as a constitutive part of their own identity.”
The non-sequitur is obvious. To oppose Jewish or Aryan or Muslim or Hindu or Martian country X because it eliminates, expels and discriminates against other ethnic groups is not to oppose Jews, Aryans, Muslims, Hindus or Martians, respectively.
The argument is empty enough, but arguing from black people’s “strong affinity with this country” reduces it to a mere point about the subjective feelings of some ethnic or religious group. And in fact, Freedland then leaves his analogy with the hypothetical black state to attest that Jews have “this connection to – this need for – Israel. … 93% [of British Jews] told a 2015 survey that Israel forms some part of their identity as Jews. … Though Israel’s creation came at a desperately high price for Palestinians… it is impossible for most Jews to see it as a mistake that should be undone.”
One can only ask, since when do the feelings of any group override ethical principles and historical context? Using the obvious analogy, since when would the “affinity” of southern U.S. whites for a slave-owning polity override the rights of blacks in that territory? Surely such whites were heartbroken upon the demise of the Confederate States of America.
Freedland next detaches the discussion from fact or ethics altogether by claiming, with a straight face, that “when Jews call out something to be antisemitic”, it is antisemitic. This is Alice-in-Wonderland logic.
He then three times says that that “something” which “Jews” subjectively declare to be antisemitic is opposition to Israel’s “right to exist”. “Most Jews will defend Israel’s existence”, although it was “forged in bloodshed”. Yes, this is chilling right-wing stuff, but the general problem is that if such group feelings are the only compass, disagreements can only be settled by violence.
Freedland also rides hard the fact that Israel is “the world’s only Jewish country” – implying I suppose that were there several Jewish states, it would not be antisemitic to fundamentally oppose one or the other of them. But whether there is one ethnocracy of type X, or many, is irrelevant to the point that it is the racist violation of others’ rights in any one of them that motivates fundamental opposition.
Finally, Freedland graciously allows us to criticize Israel “for this or that policy”, but if we feel it is “better that this one black [Jewish] country had never been created”, we are OK with the “periodic persecution and slaughter” of a black/Jewish “minority”. Opposing British imposition of Zionism in the 1930s, as we oppose it now, we “would have denied those 6 million [Jewish victims] the one lifeline that might have saved them.” And if that isn’t antisemitic, what is?
This seems to be the ‘lifeboat ethics’ argument of soft Zionism – it was either us or them. But Freedland is making the further claim that taking the side of the Palestinians in the lifeboat necessarily entails racial prejudice towards the Jews in the lifeboat. Again, a non-sequitur. But what is noteworthy is that since all Palestinians, ever since Zionism was put to paper, opposed the politicide it entailed, all Palestinians are, according to J. Freedland, anti-Jewish racists. A more slanderous, historically ignorant and generalized assertion, more devoid of empathy for the dispossessed and cleansed Palestinians, is not imaginable.
Go to Jail
Macron, Freedland and the IHRA don’t get the point because they don’t take Palestinians seriously. Palestinians are simply not relevant to their stories, which begin and end with the Jewish experience. Because the indigenous Palestinians are the monkey wrench ruining their conflationary arguments, they don’t count. Orientalism is alive.
Our immediate cause of concern however, due to the power of these Zionists, is now to stay out of jail. The IHRA, which has equated anti-Zionism and antisemitism, is not nobody. It is made up of countries, namely all EU countries except Bulgaria and Portugal plus Argentina, Israel, Switzerland and the US. The European Parliament Working Group On Antisemitism has adopted the IHRA definition word for word, as has the Austrian Government and the UK Government, albeit not as law but only as policy guidance.
We have seen that the President of France has a solo part in the IHRA choir, and it so happens that France has a recent history of trying to criminalize fundamental opposition to Israel and even to the rights-based Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Concerns about freedom of expression aside, the attempt is to criminalize as Jew-hatred the well-argued identification of Israel as a racist and usurpatory state.
In the US as well, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act passed the Senate unanimously on December 1, 2016. The Act’s Section 3 defines antisemitism by reference to the US State Department’s Fact Sheet of 8 June 2010, which in turn, you guessed it, adopts as its definition of antisemitism the IHRA definition. Under the Fact Sheet’s heading “What is Anti-Semitism Relative to Israel?” we find our old chestnut: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist.” Don’t forget, antisemitism is a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
The IHRA definition has, to be sure, recently been rejected in an essay in the London Review of Books and by a legal opinion refuting the definition’s allegation that “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” is antisemitic: “Unless such a claim was informed by hatred to Jews, it would not be antisemitic to assert that as Israel defines itself as a Jewish state and thereby by race, and that because non-Jewish Israelis and non-Jews under its jurisdiction are discriminated against, the State of Israel is currently a racist endeavor.” To date, fortunately, the Macrons and Freedlands do not openly assert that racist states have a right to exist.
In light of such refutations of the definition, a bill was unanimously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on 17 May 2017 seeking implicitly to unite all concerned behind the IHRA’s absurd definition.
My point about the definition’s basic fallacy is not new. Already forty-two years ago Palestinian liberationist Shafiq al-Hout gave a lecture in Ottawa soon after the General Assembly had passed its resolution condemning Zionism as racist: “There was an intense discussion after my speech, with one rabbi asking: ‘You have talked about the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, but don’t the people of Israel also have the right to live by themselves in their own state?’ I answered: ‘Yes, they do – as long as it is on land that legitimately belongs to them, and not over land that they have annexed.’ He then metaphorically cut his own throat by saying: ‘But that means less than 10 percent of the land.’ I smiled, as I fine-tuned his answer: ‘Yes, 6.4 percent, to be precise.’” (Al-Hout, My Life in the PLO, p 136)
Clear Language
I’m suggesting it is a good defensive argument to explain that denying Israel in no way implies denying the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. Israel is a particular way in which (some) Jews can self-determine, and it is of necessity in a particular place, Palestine. There might be other places, and other ways of self-determining that do not require murder, dispossession and humiliation of another ‘self’. However, how and where the real Israel was ‘done’, and is still done, is immoral.
However, such defensive work is necessary only because Zionism has succeeded in setting the agenda of the debate. It has started with the Jewish, rather than the Palestinian, experience, and ridden on Western sympathy for persecuted Jews, enabling libelous accusations of antisemitism to seem legitimate. Anti-Zionists end up in the dock.
In reality, though, the burden of proof is on the person who accuses another person of something as horrible as racism. Supporters of all the rights of all the Palestinians are innocent until proven guilty. Proof of guilt requires demonstration of a necessaryconnection between wanting the removal of the state of Israel in favor of a Palestinian state comprised of all Palestinians, and ill-will towards Jews as Jews. This necessary connection cannot of course be found because it is not there.
I think we should simply say that when we are talking about who should rule the land of Palestine, we are first and foremost talking about just that – not about Jews, or Muslims, or Christians. Yes, it was Zionism which entered the picture through British power, uninvited, but it could have been anybody of any ethnicity. On the other hand, it wasn’t just anybody who got expelled and degraded, but by necessity the Palestinians who were living there.
In other words, I think we should shift the focus onto the rights of Palestinians. The end of the state presently occupying (all of) Palestine is not the point. It is only a consequence of justice. The entire argument which leads to a Palestinian successor state to Israel can and should be made without having to mention the specific ethnicity or religion by which Israel defines itself. If justice for Palestine leaves no choice but rejecting Israel, so be it. It has nothing to do with Israel’s being a Jewish state.
It might be a blessing in disguise that the Zionists have gone out on such an illogical limb, because it opens space for re-framing the debate from negative to positive: What? Anti-Jewishness? We only want to redress injustices to the population of a colonized country. We are looking for a state to function in a de-partitioned Palestinian homeland which achieves redress. There is no room for any state entity not chosen by the colonized and expelled, whatever its ethno-religious self-definition.
Macron’s statements to Netanyahu with which this article began have drawn a replyfrom Israeli writer Shlomo Sand, who balks when Macron says that “Anti-Zionism… is the reinvented form of anti-Semitism.” After first pointing out that Zionism is not Judaism and that many Jews were and are anti-Zionists, he fingers the ethical problem, namely the fact of the overwhelming anti-Zionist majority of indigenous Palestinians, and incisively wonders of Macron “if [he] seriously expect[s] of the Palestinians that they should not be anti-Zionists!” He says of himself, not as an anti-Semite, but “as a democrat and a republican… I cannot support a Jewish State.”
There is no need to beat around the bush any longer over Israel’s ‘right to exist’. Anti-Zionism is not just criticism of this or that Israeli policy but of the very idea of an ethno-religious state in violation of the wishes of Palestine’s rightful citizenry. It is a no-brainer that the Zionist state should give way to a democracy in Palestine. Yet many supporters of Palestinian rights often fudge this issue, claiming that a state in Palestine that is somehow ‘Jewish’ is somehow tolerable.
This includes supporters of the two-state solution such as Barack Obama or Jeremy Corbyn, a Zionist solution tautologically, because one of the two advocated states is, alas, an intruded Jewish state in Palestine. But there is no reason to fear charges of racism when rejecting Israel. That rejection follows logically from the positive rights of the Palestinians, absent all connection to the antisemitic type of racism.
We can thus confidently dissociate anti-Zionism from antisemitism. To do this we need only stress that what must be corrected – the usurpation of Palestine, against the will of the people of Palestine – has nothing to do necessarily with Israel’s Jewishness, only with its colonialism and racism. But we can go one better by retaining a Palestinian orientation. That is, the whole discussion is first and foremost a question of justice for the dispossessed, from which the illegitimacy of Israel simply follows. It is a question of Palestine, not of Israel.
– Blake Alcott is an ecological economist and the director of One Democratic State in Palestine (England) Limited. He contributed this article to

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Ensuring The Existence of «Israel» in Hezbollah’s Crosshairs

The problem facing “Israel” is that the more its military and technological capabilities develop, the more Hezbollah’s deterrent and defense capabilities advance. The higher the motivation for aggression, the more it clashes with countermeasures that prevent Hezbollah’s capabilities from being liquidated.
"Israel's" Dimona nuclear plant
As a result, the gap between what it wants and what it can achieve is wide. This problematic reality usually provokes some experts and commentators who see a huge difference between what they perceive as enormous capabilities on the part of “Israel” on the one hand, and its decline in the favor of Hezbollah on the other.
The former chairman of the Council of Settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Israel Harel, pondered over the announcement by Hezbollah’s Secretary-General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on the anniversary of the 2006 victory, during which he labeled Dimona as a target for the rockets of the Resistance. He pointed out that this came after the “Israeli” court ruling, ordering the removal of ammonia containers from Haifa, following the declaration by Sayyed Nasrallah to target it in case of any full-scale aggression on Lebanon.
Harel, a regular columnist for the Haaretz daily, dubbed his article as “The Goal Is Dimona” – describing Dimona as a symbol of “Israel’s” strength and a guarantor of its existence. Thus, he wanted to suggest that this guarantor was in the crosshairs of Hezbollah’s rockets, while the “Israelis” are doing little else aside from threatening. He criticized the “‘Israeli’ acceptance” of the equation that Hezbollah succeeded in imposing because of its missile capabilities. He ridiculed the “response” to the threat posed by the concentration of Iran and Hezbollah in Syria, which involved the dispatching of a high security delegation to express concern to the heads of the security establishment in Washington. He criticized the hanging of hopes on this “maniac administration”.
It is clear that Harel sees the political and security contacts with Washington, as an attempt to avoid the aggressive options – employed by “Israel” since 1948 – following the “Israeli” army’s setbacks in Lebanon. He also sees a strategic retreat embodied by “Israeli” recognition – at the level of political and security decision-makers – of the counter-deterrence equation imposed by the Resistance in Lebanon.
The newly retired commander of the “Israeli” Air Force Major General Amir Eshel recently boasted about how “Israel” carried out about 100 attacks in Syria during the last five years. Harel who served as chairman of the Council of Settlements for 15 years described these comments as “the joy of the poor” simply because these attacks failed to prevent the transfer of some 150,000 rockets to Hezbollah. From here, Harel wanted to shed light on the dark side of the “battle between the wars” doctrine declared by “Israel” and aimed at preventing the growth of Hezbollah’s capabilities, since the standard for its success lies in results and implications on the level of capabilities. One of the most significant manifestations of these results is the terror and fear rising inside “Israel” due to the qualitative and quantitative growth of Hezbollah’s capabilities.
The assurances of Eshel and his successor Major General Amikam Norkin that “‘Israel’ has decisive means of retaliation” should Sayyed Nasrallah carry out his threats to attack Dimona, angered Harel. He pointed out that “the first attack is decisive, and could end up with thousands of casualties and serious damage to the security and economic infrastructure.” Therefore, the dilemma that “Israel” faces is: how will it use its ability and will to respond to this level [of threat], keeping in mind repeated “Israeli” threats of the total destruction of Lebanon?
Harel called on “Israel” to refrain from repeating the submission to the equations imposed by Hezbollah, and this time in the Syrian arena. He stressed that “‘Israel’ is prohibited from continuing to recognize long-term strategic changes.” He also warned of repeatedly acknowledging the deployment of the Revolutionary Guards on the borders of “Israel”, Syria and Lebanon, and soon in Gaza, and perhaps even in Jordan, “fearing it would be too late”, especially that “there is no limit to the flexibility of the ‘Israeli’ containment doctrine.”
He also believes that it is reasonable to assume that at this stage there will be no launching of any Iranian missile on “Israel” because it will not take place before the completion of Iran’s “regional hegemony” project in the region. He ridiculed, by implication, the argument that “Israel’s” deterrence power – after the “failed” Second Lebanon War – prevented Hezbollah from firing its rockets into “Israel”. He stressed that what is preventing the party is not this so-called “alleged deterrence”. Despair gripped the right-wing writer as he added that “even when Hezbollah launches thousands of rockets that have been stored, it is doubtful that the government will decide to target civilians or destroy the infrastructure, even when retaliating. For this right is reserved only for its enemies.”
In response to the “Israeli” leadership’s attempt to paint a picture of “national” immunity among the “Israeli” public, Harel pointed out that the problematic reactions of civilians in the north in light of the rocket attacks during the Second Lebanon War and the mass flight on the part of the Negev residents during Hamas’ bombardment [Operation Protective Edge], proved that the internal “Israeli” front possessed a low, troubling ability to respond. Thus, Harel was able to expose the “Israeli” political leadership, which is trying to mitigate its reluctance to act due to the counter-deterrence constraints, particularly after he saw that the performance of the decision-makers involved adopting a policy of containment, following the abandoning of the counterattack and initiation policy since the 1967 war.
According to Harel, “Israel’s” reluctance to neutralize the capabilities of the resistance factions in Gaza by “digging up negative land barriers, with enormous cost and questionable effectiveness” falls within the principle of abandoning the preventive and pre-emptive options policy. “This is the mentality,” he added.
As in every critical approach, “Israeli” writers and experts are keen to create some balance in the picture to avoid repercussions within “Israel”. Thus, Harel concludes, in the event of rockets fired from the north, east and south against “Israel”, the “Israelis” will win this battle, but after the death of tens of thousands within its own ranks!
Source: Al-Akhbar Newspaper, Translated by website team
26-08-2017 | 09:47
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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!