We all know about the importance of context in understanding and judging the actions of others. If the person who stole a loaf of bread was starving, and trying to feed her starving child, we judge the theft differently from the way we judge an equivalent theft carried out by some opportunistically looting hooligans. So what would you think of someone who told you about the horrifying details of a wife’s premeditated murder of her husband, but completely omitted to mention the fact that he’d been abusing her terribly, physically and mentally, for 20 years? What would you think of someone who told you of the appalling punishment of ‘necklacing’ carried out by some members of the ANC in the 1980s and early 1990s in South Africa, without ever mentioning the brutalising facts of apartheid in that country at that time? What would you think of someone who described black American criminality without ever so much as mentioning racism or slavery? You might, at the very least, raise an eyebrow and murmur the word ‘context’. Even though each of these cases involve wrongful, sometimes horribly wrongful, actions, you might think that the context is important in judging those who carried out the actions. (And of course context is just as important in judging rightful action too). You might also think that the people who so ignored the context in these cases had rather poor and blinkered moral and political judgment. And if you wanted to explain this lack of judgement, these blinkers, you might in some cases make reference to the persistence of longstanding prejudices against women or Africans or American people of colour.
Now considerthis article in openDemocracy, about ‘the Israel Lobby’. The article walks us through the development of Zionist sympathies among British Jews and others in the UK.
Coptic Church, Shubra El-Kheima
Deacon Michael Habib spoke with sadness about the damage his church in al-Minya province sustained in an attack by a group of armed men in July.
“The aim of this church is, and always has been, to serve the neighbouring villages,” he said. “We had nothing to do with politics and were in fact loved and respected by everyone, so why was the church attacked and burned?”
Over the past four months, about 70 Coptic churches and church buildings have been burned and attacked, according to government statistics. A number of mosques also have been attacked, mainly following the dispersal of the Rabea al-Adawiyah and al-Nahda sit-ins in August.
This prompted Beit el-Aela el-Misriyah, a non-governmental organisation, to launch an initiative to renovate houses of worship damaged in recent acts of violence with support from the government, Al-Azhar, the Coptic Church and private individuals and businesses.
The initiative, launched October 31st, aims to promote tolerance and encourages all Egyptians to help repair damaged houses of worship, the organisation said. […]
‘All Egyptians are brothers’
“The initiative essentially aims to affirm that all Egyptians are brothers in every way, that protecting houses of worship is the responsibility of every Egyptian, and that when a Muslim or Christian house of worship is attacked, all members of both sects participate in renovating it,” said Mahmoud Azab, Beit el-Aela co-ordinator and adviser to Sheikh of Al-Azhar on dialogue.
Accounts have been opened at all Egyptian banks to receive donations, Azab told Al-Shorfa. A number of companies and businessmen have already announced they will make sizable donations, and renovation projects will soon kick off with help from the armed forces, he said.
Beit el-Aela el-Misriyah was co-founded by Al-Azhar and the Coptic Church in Egypt in November 2011, and aims to “preserve Egypt’s social fabric in co-ordination with all relevant government bodies and ministries”, Azab said. […]
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), the civil rights and constitutional defense foundation of which I’m Founder and President, received the shocking testimonials of over 250 armed servicemember clients regarding the obsessed anticipation of apocalypse emanating from their superiors among the ranks of officers both commissioned and non-commissioned, spanning all four service branches. The Book of Revelation is their blueprint for “success” and they are all too happy to trumpet this “Good News” to their helpless armed forces subordinates. You see, they interpret almost ANYthing that will further inflame the Middle East, and its nexus to bloodshed in Israel, as a divinely prophesied accelerant or lubricant to hasten the End of Days apocalypse wrought by their avenging warrior “flavor” of Jesus Christ. The proposed attack on Syria has these U.S. military superiors licking their chops in delicious delight as an absolutely necessary and foretold event to herald the advent of the Armageddon they pray for endlessly.
To be sure, our very own American Jihadists, the fundamentalist evangelical Christian Dominionists, are just as steeped in the horrendous expectation of “rapture” as our ostensible Islamist foes. How about a good example? Permit me to present to you one Rod Parsley, leader of the enormous World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio, and one of the most influential leaders of the fundamentalist dominionist Christian movement in the USA. Parsley’s fire-and-brimstone tinged sermons regularly include promises of a 200-mile long river, four and a half feet deep, filled with nothing but the blood and gruesome remains of those slaughtered by his weaponized version of the Lord Jesus Christ at the Battle of Armageddon. After describing this unimaginable river of endless blood and death, Parsley delivers his rapturous denouement by raising his hands to the ceiling and exhorting his massive thousands of eager-beaver congregants to “Rejoice! Rejoice, for the worst is yet to come!”
According to this past couple of weeks’ batch of new MRFF clients, “Rejoice, rejoice!” is precisely the sentiment of their military superiors, the highest ranking of whom is a 1-star Brigadier General, senior commander. These avid anticipators of “Rapture” are anxiously awaiting the battle of their lives, the battle to end all battles. In their sick minds the fighter jets and bombers of the United States Air Force and the vessels of the United States Navy are simply Jesus’ means for raining fire and brimstone down from heaven.
Being that we now have reports that the rebels received chemical weapons from the Saudis, and mishandled them to their own demise in the tunnels I thought to link a source to the contrary. With regards to our possible missile attack, I’m fine with waiting for really solid evidence before we strike, if we strike at all.
Overview Last updated: December, 2011
Although rumors surface occasionally that Saudi Arabia is interested in acquiring weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), there is no concrete evidence to support such contentions. Saudi Arabia has not expressed an interest in acquiring chemical or biological weapons, and has joined international agreements to ban such armaments. Rumors that Riyadh has explored procuring nuclear weapons have not been substantiated. No evidence suggests that Saudi officials are currently interested in developing a nuclear arsenal, and Saudi Arabia lacks the domestic infrastructure and physical resources required to develop advanced nuclear weapons domestically. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1988 and signed a comprehensive safeguards agreement in 2005. Since 1999, Saudi leaders have consistently supported the establishment of a nuclear weapons free zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia does possess about 36 intermediate-range ballistic missiles that could be used to deliver unconventional warheads, although it has publicly declared that it will only use these missiles with conventional payloads. For all of these reasons, Saudi Arabia does not appear to be interested in developing — or seem to be developing — weapons of mass destruction.
Biological and Chemical
There is no confirmed evidence that Saudi Arabia possesses either a chemical or biological weapons program, or that Saudi Arabia intends to develop such weapons. Saudi Arabia signed and ratified the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in 1972, and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1996. A 2005 law bans the production, possession, and storage of both chemical and biological weapons within Saudi Arabia, and declares that any individuals found to be in noncompliance will face a fine of one million Riyals and prison for up to 20 years.
Source: “Saudi Arabia: Weapons of Mass Destruction Capabilities and Programs,” James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, cns.miis.edu.
More: Saudi Arabia
The leader of the Yemen-based al-Qaida offshoot vowed in a message posted Monday to free fellow militants from prisons and urged jailed fighters to remain faithful to the terror group’s ideology.
The note by Nasser al-Wahishi, a onetime aide to Osama bin Laden, came after last week’s closure of 19 U.S. diplomatic missions in the Middle East and Africa. The shutdowns were triggered by the interception of a secret message between al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri and al-Wahishi about plans for a major attack.
The message also followed an announcement by Yemeni authorities that they had discovered an al-Qaida plot to target foreign embassies in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and international shipping in the Red Sea.
In the note, al-Wahishi rallied al-Qaida prisoners not “to be lured by their jailers” and false promises of a “lush life if they abandon jihad,” or holy war.
He addressed his message to “prisoners who are in the jails of the oppressors because of their religion” and told them to “rejoice … as your brothers are pounding the walls of injustice and demolishing the thrones of oppression.”
Al-Wahishi also said “victory is imminent” to ensure their freedom, adding: “We have not forgotten you and will never forget you.”
The note did not name the prisons from which al-Qaida fighters would be freed or give any details of the purported plans. The authenticity of the message could not be independently verified, but it was posted on a website commonly used by the militants.
In the past seven days, we’ve seen a major terror attack on Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad Iraq where 500 prisoners, including senior members of al Qaeda were freed by terrorists, and now we’ve got reports of a major attack on a prison complex in Pakistan has meant several hundred more terrorists and Taliban have been freed.
Pakistani Taliban disguised as policemen attacked a prison in the country’s northwestern town of Dera Ismail Khan, freeing more than 300 prisoners late on Monday.
The jail officials said that several of the prisoners, four security personnel and two assailants were killed in the attack. The prison was housing at least 5000 prisoners, 250 of them hardcore militants.
Malik Qasim Khattak, advisor to the ministry of prisons, said that around 50 to 60 gunmen attacked the jail with bombs and guns before entering into the detention facility. “They detonated about 60 bombs inside the facility which caused the collapse of prison wall. The assailants succeeded in freeing more than 300 prisoners,” Khattak said, adding that the militants blew up two electricity transformers which created complete darkness.
While accepting responsibility for the attack, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had claimed that their attackers had freed around 300 inmates.
Bill Roggio indicates at least 30 of those escapees were hardcore militants. Roggio further indicates those responsible are the Ansar al Aseer, a joint Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan unit that has been designated to free imprisoned jihadists.
At the time of the attack on Abu Ghraib (now called the Baghdad Central Prison), I warned that those freed would not only rejoin the insurgency in Iraq, but could spread across the region causing mayhem in Syria’s civil war, or spark violence in Jordan, Egypt, or Turkey.
Now, we’ve got a second high profile incident involving attacks on detention facilities where high value al Qaeda and/or Taliban prisoners have been held - in a single week.
That doesn’t just happen out of thin air, though this is not the first time that the Taliban have attempted attacks on detention facilities with the goal of freeing Taliban/ and/or al Qaeda leadership. It’s part of a long term trend to bolster their numbers by taking on a major offensive. High profile attacks against detention facilities would do the trick.
The breakout in Pakistan means that terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the frontier provinces that are nominally under Pakistani control are likely to be emboldened to carry on further attacks, including against detention facilities. They may also seek out attacks against the ISAF in Afghanistan, the supply lines, as well as India. This doesn’t bode well for those countries as the terrorist attacks have largely resulted in significant civilian casualties.
US Secretary of State John Kerry named former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk as his main envoy in Israeli-Palestinian talks starting in Washington later on Monday and said he was seeking “reasonable compromises” in the tough negotiations.
“It is no secret that many difficult choices lie ahead for the negotiators and for the leaders as we seek reasonable compromises on tough, complicated, emotional and symbolic issues.”
Kerry said Indyk is ‘realistic’ about the difficulties facing the Israelis and Palestinians and US negotiators in the resumption of the long-stalled talks.
At a State Department announcement, Kerry said that “the cause of peace” has been Indyk’s life’s mission.
A detailed look at two cases of a deadly new respiratory virus called MERS suggests people who have the disease should be isolated for at least 12 days to avoid spreading it, doctors reported Wednesday.
The new germ, a respiratory infection, was first seen in the Middle East and so far has sickened more than 40 people worldwide, killing about half of them.
In the report published online in the journal Lancet, French scientists said the first patient visited Dubai. He is thought to have caught MERS there before passing it onto the second patient, who had no travel history and with whom he shared a room for three days.