Muslim radicals colonising the country, Indonesian bishops say

NDONESIA

Muslim radicals colonising the country, Indonesian bishops say

by Mathias Hariyadi

The bishop of Padang warns against the systematic and organised spread of radical Islamic ideology. Political authorities are criticised for failing to stop the wave of violence. In the meantime, police is out in force to prevent anti-Christian violence over the Christmas period.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Mgr Mathinus D Situmorang, president of the Indonesian Bishops of Conference’s (KWI), warned Indonesian political elites on a potentially serious threat to the national interest. The prelate, who is the bishop of Padang (Western Sumatra), delivered his word of caution during the admission ceremony for new members of the Indonesian Catholic University Student Association (PMKRI). In his address, he criticised the state for its powerlessness in the face of dozens of attacks carried out by Islamic fundamentalist groups against churches and Christians. 

“In the past, Indonesia was occupied and colonised by foreign rulers. However, the present situation is not much better even if we are ruled by fellow Indonesian citizens,” the bishop said. Here, he was referring to recent attacks carried out by the Islamic Defender Front (FPI), which stormed two places of worship in Rancaekek, Bandung Regency (West Java), forcing their closure. More broadly, he is deeply concerned that religious intolerance is spreading and taking rook among ordinary people. Muslim extremists, he explained, had no legal right to interfere with the aforementioned places of worship even if they did not have a building permit. What is more, the situation is getting worse because law enforcement is not stopping the Islamists, and it is not clear why.

Nonetheless, for the prelate, “A spirit of intolerance is finding fertile ground because of political interests”. In Parung, Bogor Regency, local authorities issued a ban against the Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church to prevent Christmas celebrations. 

“If some Christian communities in Indonesia hold religious ceremonies in the streets or in the open, it is out of necessity because they have been unable to secure a building permit for their place of worship, and this, for years,” Bishop Situmorang explained.

“If the [central] government and local authorities are stopped by every extremist Muslim group, the situation will get worse and the state’s sovereignty will be given away to illegal groups that will carry out actions against the law,” he lamented.

Still, the 3,000 parishioners who belong to the Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church will be able to celebrate Christmas at a local nuns’ compound. Indonesia’s Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro, who is Catholic, rejected the accusation, saying that any violent act would be punished. Mgr Situmorang is not so sure. For him, the state is powerless and incapable of dealing with the problem. Yet, he is still “proud to belong to a multicultural society, where the spirit of intolerance is restrained”. 

In the meantime, hours before the start of Christmas services, the country has been placed under tight security with thousands of police deployed near churches, 8,000 in Jakarta alone. In Bali, police has secured every strategic site, including churches.

A study by the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace warns that whilst most violent actions are carried out by the infamous FPI, less noticeable actions by other radical Muslim groups are equally worrisome, especially since they are increasingly supported by ordinary people and are attracting even liberal groups and moderate clerics.

There are also rumours that radical elements have infiltrated the moderate Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI), the country’s most important organisation of Muslim clerics, which wields the greatest influence in moral and political terms. According to the Setara report, beside the FPI, other important violent Islamist groups are the Islamic Reform Movement (Garis) and the Islamic People’s Forum (FUI).

The same study noted that in “2005, FUI’s chief Al Khaththath [. . .] made it to the MUI’s board of directors,” and at the organisation’s annual meeting that year, he was among those who “actively lobbied the MUI to issue an edict forbidding the practice of liberal Islam”

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FPI raids, seals church in Bandung

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Hardliners from three Muslim organizations have raided and sealed homes belonging to Christians in Rancaekek, Bandung, they claim were being used as churches. Some 200 to 300 supporters of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the Islamic People’s Forum (FUI) and the Islamic Reform Movement (Garis), along with local public order officers began the raid at 9 a.m, on Sunday, kompas.com reported.

They sealed seven homes and called on the Christians to hold prayers in official churches.

Local Christians canceled their prayer services due to the incident. Fortunately, no clashes between Christians and Muslims occurred.

Islamism versus Islam according to Professor Kara

http://www.majalla. com/en/interview /article86374. ece

Islamism Versus Islam
An Interview with Professor Ismail Kara

Turkish Islamists women attend 26 November 2006 in Istanbul a rally against the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI.

By Nicholas Birch

Published: Sunday 18 July 2010 Updated: Sunday 18 July 2010

In this interview with The Majalla, Ismail Kara, professor of Turkish intellectual history, speaks about Islam’s relationship with modernity and the state. Professor Kara discusses, among other things, political Islamism and its origins, and the increasing visibility of Islam in Turkey.

Born in 1955 in the north-eastern Turkish province of Rize, the son of a village religious teacher, Ismail Kara is professor of Turkish intellectual history at the Marmara University Theology Faculty in Istanbul. An editor at Dergah Yayinlari, one of Turkey’s most respected publishing houses, Kara is the author of 14 books, including Islamist Thought in Turkey, On Philosophical Language and, more recently, The Issue of Islam in Republican Turkey. Professor Kara spoke with The Majalla in his office at Marmara University, located on the Asia side of Istanbul.

Istanbul, 15 June 2010

The Majalla: In the West, Islamism tends to be understood as political Islamism. How do you define it?

To a certain extent, Islamism can be seen as the antithesis of traditional Islam, or popular Islam. From the start, back in the very early 19th century, it has been a movement of intellectuals, the product largely of people who had a western-style education. In effect, it set out to find answers to the question “what sort of a relation should Islam build with modernity.” That was its starting point.

Q: What were the main contradictions early Islamists saw between Islam and modernity?

Here, I think there is an issue that European scholars have perhaps not sufficiently understood. The idea of laïcité-a state without religion-is quite literally incomprehensible to traditional Muslims. Among Turks particularly, the idea of the state is infused with what you might call a religious or spiritual meaning.

Q: How is that “spiritual” meaning expressed?

One of the expressions you find very frequently in the communications of Ottoman bureaucrats is din u devlet: in other words “religion and state.” The two are inseparable. Among Ottoman intellectuals, meanwhile, one of the most common expressions for the same thing is din asil, devlet fer’idir: “religion is the foundation, the state one of its parts.” These are ideas that were shared by ordinary people, and still are.

Q: So Islamism played a sort of bridging role, then?

In a sense, yes. Islamism started because modernization movements imported from the West proved unable to provide a religious legitimization for change. It is what made modernization of the Muslim world possible, because popular conceptions of Islam were not compatible with modernity. It also had a secular character.

Q: In what way?

Let me give you a concrete example. In the 1970s, one of the most popular slogans of radical Turkish Islamists was “the Koran is our constitution. ” The slogan is a hybrid. Few words are more important to Muslims than the Koran. The word constitution is a key concept of modern, secular political thought.

Q: Can you give any other examples?

Think about that most Republican of concepts-milli hakimiyet-national sovereignty. It is a concept borrowed, again, from secular western political thought. But the word millet has a double meaning: It means nation, but it also means religious community. When a modern Turk says national sovereignty, the phrase contains both those meanings. Modernization in the Muslim world has been conceptualized in religious terms. That is perhaps the main reason why Islam has become more visible the more “modern” Muslim countries become.

Q: It would be wrong to see the increasing visibility of Islam in Turkey merely as a delayed response to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s radical secularizing reforms, then?

Yes. It is a fundamental attribute of the whole modernization process in the Muslim world as a whole. Furthermore, I would question the description of the Republic as radically secular. It is true that it represented a serious break with earlier reform movements, particularly after 1924 [when the Caliphate was abolished and traditional religious schools and dervish lodges were closed]. But it also shared some similarities with Islamist thought.

Q: What sort of similarities?

Islamism is about trying to pull Muslims towards an interpretation of Islam in step with the modern world, open to modern ideas. It does that by going back to the sources, trying to excavate what it sees as an “unadulterated” interpretation of Islam. To a degree, Republican ideology has tried to do something similar. It opposed popular Islam, which it saw as backward and superstitious. Set up immediately after the abolition of the Caliphate, the Diyanet [the state department in charge of religious affairs] has always advanced an interpretation of Islam which emphasizes the Koran and the traditions of the Prophet.

Q: Are you talking about the Republican authorities’ emphasis on Islam as a “religion of reason and science?”

That is part of it, but the real issue here is that, in the eyes of Islamist modernizers, the negative conditions of the Muslim world are not the result of Islam itself but of the fact that contemporary Muslims have misunderstood Islam’s teachings. They blame the accumulated traditions and history of the Islamic world for its backwardness. In essence, their call for a return to the sources means pulling Islam out of its history altogether.

Q: You are an outspoken critic of the Islamist movement. Is this why you criticize it?

What differentiates me from Turkey’s Islamists is that I am interested in the internal dynamics of change and they are not. Ideologically, they are internationalist, to use a Marxist concept. They defend a vision of Islam which has its roots outside Turkey.

Q: You are talking now about the radical political Islamists influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood, I assume?

I am talking about them, but I am also talking about an attitude shared by many of the products of Turkey’s state-controlled religious education and many educated members of religious orders.

Q: When did this view arrive in Turkey?

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood began to radicalize immediately after the Second World War. Egypt was closer to the Soviet Union than the West, as you know, and the Muslim Brotherhood borrowed concepts from Marxism, became more rebellious, even revolutionary. Turkey had meanwhile allied itself with the United States. In the 1940s, the new radical rhetoric of the Egyptian Brotherhood had no equivalent here. It only began to grow in Turkey after the 1960 coup.

Q: Radical Islam contained an implicit criticism of the traditional idea of the state as defender of the faith, din u devlet. Is that why it took so long to put down roots in Turkey?

In part, yes. But it is also, as I implied before, because the Islamist vision of Islam clashed with the Islam practiced by many Turkish Muslims. Religious brotherhoods [tarikat] are powerful in Turkey. Radicals see them as the worst form of blasphemy. As far as they are concerned, the attachment a follower of one of these brotherhoods feels for his sheikh is idolatry.

Q: Are you saying religious brotherhoods are closer to popular Islam than the Islamists?

In terms of their structure and their rituals, yes. This is perfectly comprehensible. These are movements that address themselves to the masses. They are not particularly open to exceptional ideas. They seek a homogeneous style of person, a vision of the world. And that brings them closer to the views of your average Turkish Muslim.

Q: The most powerful Muslim group in Turkey today is the Fethullah Gulen Movement, a conservative group opposed to political Islam. Is its popularity a sign that radical Islamism was a blip, that Turkey is settling back into its traditional, conservative ways?

Political Islam was a product of a period when ideologies were everything. It grew after the 1960 coup, along with the other ideological movements of the time, socialism and right-wing nationalism. After 12 September 1980 [Turkey’s third military intervention] , they fell together. But today’s conservatives are not the same as the conservatives before 1960. Indeed, it is questionable whether they are conservative at all. Look at the AKP government. It calls itself a “conservative democratic” party. It is a good slogan. But the party behaves as though there isn’t very much in need of conserving at all.

Q: More radical Islamists criticize the AKP for having “taken its [Islamist] shirt off” and taken on a stance indistinguishable from liberalism. Is that your criticism?

I am making a broader point. Since 1980, the ideological heart of all the major political movements in Turkey has been emptied out-the left, Islamism, Kemalism. The current clash between the AKP government and secularists is an argument over bones. What worries me is that seems to me that a country needs to have an idea, an identity, if it is to carry itself forward. That requires reflection, self-criticism. I see neither.

Q: So what needs to be done, in your opinion?

A recent article I wrote was entitled “remembering what we have forgotten.” Turkey is a country whose language has changed so fast that the speeches of the man who founded it are now understood with difficulty by the younger generation. Ottoman Turkish, because the Republic introduced the Latin alphabet, is a foreign country. What is needed is a conscious effort to recuperate the past. You can only know where you are going if you know where you come from. Otherwise all you can do is to move in the direction the international or national wind is blowing.

Q: Every religious brotherhood has a silsile, a kind of family tree going right back to the time of the Prophet. Is this the sort of unbroken chain you are referring to when you talk about recuperating the past?

Sufism is an important aspect of this recuperation of the past, yes, but it is not enough. The silsile is a concept you find in religious schools too from the 12th century onwards. There is a concept of icazet starting with you and going all the way back to the Prophet himself. The point I am making is that Islamists’ criticisms of Sufism and the culture of the religious schools shares the same logic. Both are a critique of Islamic history. Early Islamists believed, wrongly in my opinion, that the traditional Islamic world they had grown up in was incapable of building a new world, and they made a deliberate decision to cut themselves off from this web of connections and obligations. When you do this, the only thing left is you and the sources. And you can get them to talk as much as you like.

Interview conducted by Nicholas Birch – Worked as a freelance reporter in Turkey for eight years. His work has appeared in a broad range of publications, including Time Magazine, the Wall Street Journal and the Times of London.

Bekasi, insults and threats from Islamic extremists at a Protestant prayer meeting

07/21/2010 14:09

INDONESIA
Bekasi, insults and threats from Islamic extremists at a Protestant prayer meeting
Mathias Hariyadi
More than 500 blocked the entrance to the field where the function was being held. The Huria Protestant Church celebrates in the open because their prayer hall was declared illegal. Thanks to the police, there were no consequences for the faithful.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – A group of 500 Islamic extremists blocked Christians from the Huria Protestant Church (Hkbp) in a field where the Sunday service was taking place. The incident occurred last July 18 in the city of Pondok Timur in Mustika Jaya subdistrict, district of Bekasi (West Java).

Muslims blocked all routes to prevent Christians leaving the field and began to insult them, terrorizing them. The group of Protestant believers pray outdoors because their hall for religious functions was closed on the grounds that it was illegal.

The situation improved when a representative of the Bekasi Office for Religious Affairs, along with 200 policemen, arrived at the site.  Luspida Simanjutak, head pastor at the Hkbp church, told AsiaNews: ” We were forced to sign a pact with them, forcing us to stop our faith celebration but we strongly rejected the proposal. We asked the representative to help our congregation to leave the site without harm. Their goal is one and one alone, to eradicate all churches from Mustika Jaya”.

It is not the first time that the Hkbp church was targeted by Islamic extremists. “At Pondok Timur – continued the pastor – the Muslims have forced local government to outlaw the place where we held our services. They’ve already done so twice”.

That’s why different Hkbp communities decided to hold their services in an open field. Theopilus Bella an activist for interfaith dialogue, believes the incident last Sunday was premeditated. “Many of the faithful – he tells AsiaNews – received text messages from Islamic extremists which warned them of what they would do” and what in fact happened.

Despite threats by Islamic Rev. Simanjutak says that her community will continue to recite the Mass in the same place.

For years the Christians of Bekasi have been targeted by Islamic fundamentalists. Early in 2010, radical groups blocked religious services, prevented Christians from access to existing churches and stopped the construction of new churches. Since 2009, more than 17 churches have been affected by Islamic extremists. The Hkbp church, besides having to close its premises many times because deemed “illegal” in 2010, suffered the destruction of a church in 2004, after receiving permission to construct it.

Source: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Bekasi,-insults-and-threats-from-Islamic-extremists-at-a-Protestant-prayer-meeting-18994.html#

Al Qaeda’s First English Language Magazine Is Here

http://www.theatlan tic.com/internat ional/archive/ 2010/06/al- qaedas-first- english-language -magazine- is-here/59006/

As the U.S. struggles to manage its efforts to influence opinion about Al Qaeda abroad, Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula has produced its first English-language propaganda magazine.

It’s called “Inspire,” and you can read parts of it below. A U.S. official said early this morning that the magazine appears to be authentic.

“Inspire” includes a “message to the people of Yemen” directly transcribed from Ayman Al-Zawahari, Al Qaeda’s second in command, a message from Osama Bin Laden on “how to save the earth,” and the cover includes a quotation from Anwar Al-Awlaki, the American born cleric who is believed to be directly connected to the attempt to destroy an airplane over Detroit by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Christmas Day. (The director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Michael Leiter, made that disclosure at a security forum in Aspen, CO, Fox News reported.)

The table of contents teases an interview with the leader of AQAP who promises to “answer various questions pertaining to the jihad in the Arabian Peninsula.” It includes a feature about how to “make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom.”

AQAP’s first effort to post the magazine to jihadist websites failed Wednesday, as many of the pages were contaminated with a virus. (I half seriously believe that U.S. cyber warriors might have had a hand in that little surprise.)

The U.S. is quite worried about Al Qaeda’s new publishing ambitions, which mark a more sophisticated effort to engage the English-language world and to recruit English-speaking Muslims to join the cause.

The copy was obtained from a private researcher. AQAP had advertised for days that the magazine would appear with the interviews specified in the table of contents. It is possible, although not likely, that the magazine is a fabrication, a production of a Western intelligence agency that wants to undermine Al Qaeda by eroding confidence in its production and distribution networks. The U.S. is engaged in direct net-based warfare with jihadis; this sort of operation would not be too difficult to pull off.

Since I am not completely certain that the clean PDF doesn’t contain a hidden virus, I’ve elected not to post it just yet.

C.I.A. Sought Blackwater’s Help to Kill Jihadists

August 20, 2009

C.I.A. Sought Blackwater’s Help to Kill Jihadists

WASHINGTON — The Central Intelligence Agency in 2004 hired outside contractors from the private security contractor Blackwater USA as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top operatives of Al Qaeda, according to current and former government officials.

Executives from Blackwater, which has generated controversy because of its aggressive tactics in Iraq, helped the spy agency with planning, training and surveillance. The C.I.A. spent several million dollars on the program, which did not successfully capture or kill any terrorist suspects.

The fact that the C.I.A. used an outside company for the program was a major reason that Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A.’s director, became alarmed and called an emergency meeting in June to tell Congress that the agency had withheld details of the program for seven years, the officials said.

It is unclear whether the C.I.A. had planned to use the contractors to actually capture or kill Qaeda operatives, or just to help with training and surveillance in the program. American spy agencies have in recent years outsourced some highly controversial work, including the interrogation of prisoners. But government officials said that bringing outsiders into a program with lethal authority raised deep concerns about accountability in covert operations.

Officials said the C.I.A. did not have a formal contract with Blackwater for this program but instead had individual agreements with top company officials, including the founder, Erik D. Prince, a politically connected former member of the Navy Seals and the heir to a family fortune. Blackwater’s work on the program actually ended years before Mr. Panetta took over the agency, after senior C.I.A. officials themselves questioned the wisdom of using outsiders in a targeted killing program.

Blackwater, which has changed its name, most recently to Xe Services, and is based in North Carolina, in recent years has received millions of dollars in government contracts, growing so large that the Bush administration said it was a necessary part of its war operation in Iraq.

It has also drawn controversy. Blackwater employees hired to guard American diplomats in Iraq were accused of using excessive force on several occasions, including shootings in Baghdad in 2007 in which 17 civilians were killed. Iraqi officials have since refused to give the company an operating license.

Several current and former government officials interviewed for this article spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing details of a still classified program.

Paul Gimigliano, a C.I.A. spokesman, declined to provide details about the canceled program, but he said that Mr. Panetta’s decision on the assassination program was “clear and straightforward.”

“Director Panetta thought this effort should be briefed to Congress, and he did so,” Mr. Gimigliano said. “He also knew it hadn’t been successful, so he ended it.”

A Xe spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who leads the Senate Intelligence Committee, also declined to give details of the program. But she praised Mr. Panetta for notifying Congress. “It is too easy to contract out work that you don’t want to accept responsibility for,” she said.

The C.I.A. this summer conducted an internal review of the assassination program that recently was presented to the White House and the Congressional intelligence committees. The officials said that the review stated that Mr. Panetta’s predecessors did not believe that they needed to tell Congress because the program was not far enough developed.

The House Intelligence Committee is investigating why lawmakers were never told about the program. According to current and former government officials, former Vice President Dick Cheney told C.I.A. officers in 2002 that the spy agency did not need to inform Congress because the agency already had legal authority to kill Qaeda leaders.

One official familiar with the matter said that Mr. Panetta did not tell lawmakers that he believed that the C.I.A. had broken the law by withholding details about the program from Congress. Rather, the official said, Mr. Panetta said he believed that the program had moved beyond a planning stage and deserved Congressional scrutiny.

“It’s wrong to think this counterterrorism program was confined to briefing slides or doodles on a cafeteria napkin,” the official said. “It went well beyond that.”

Current and former government officials said that the C.I.A.’s efforts to use paramilitary hit teams to kill Qaeda operatives ran into logistical, legal and diplomatic hurdles almost from the outset. These efforts had been run by the C.I.A.’s counterterrorism center, which runs operations against Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks.

In 2002, Blackwater won a classified contract to provide security for the C.I.A. station in Kabul, Afghanistan, and the company maintains other classified contracts with the C.I.A., current and former officials said.

Over the years, Blackwater has hired several former top C.I.A. officials, including Cofer Black, who ran the C.I.A. counterterrorism center immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks.

C.I.A. operatives also regularly use the company’s training complex in North Carolina. The complex includes a shooting range used for sniper training.

An executive order signed by President Gerald R. Ford in 1976 barred the C.I.A. from carrying out assassinations, a direct response to revelations that the C.I.A. had initiated assassination plots against Fidel Castro of Cuba and other foreign politicians.

The Bush administration took the position that killing members of Al Qaeda, a terrorist group that attacked the United States and has pledged to attack it again, was no different from killing enemy soldiers in battle, and that therefore the agency was not constrained by the assassination ban.

But former intelligence officials said that employing private contractors to help hunt Qaeda operatives would pose significant legal and diplomatic risks, and they might not be protected in the same way government employees are.

Some Congressional Democrats have hinted that the program was just one of many that the Bush administration hid from Congressional scrutiny and have used the episode as a justification to delve deeper into other Bush-era counterterrorism programs.

But Republicans have criticized Mr. Panetta’s decision to cancel the program, saying he created a tempest in a teapot.

“I think there was a little more drama and intrigue than was warranted,” said Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.

Officials said that the C.I.A. program was devised partly as an alternative to missile strikes using drone aircraft, which have accidentally killed civilians and cannot be used in urban areas where some terrorists hide.

Yet with most top Qaeda operatives believed to be hiding in the remote mountains of Pakistan, the drones have remained the C.I.A.’s weapon of choice. Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration has embraced the drone campaign because it presents a less risky option than sending paramilitary teams into Pakistan.

Source: http://www.ny times.com/2009/08/20/us/20intel.html?_r=1&th=&emc=th&pagewanted=print

Attack on Gaza:As Usual, U.S. Media (And Most Liberals) Silent –As Israeli Newspaper Raises Doubts

Attack on Gaza:
As Usual, U.S. Media (And Most Liberals) Silent —
As Israeli Newspaper Raises Doubts

By Greg Mitchell
December 30, 2008
http://www.opednews .com/populum/ print_friendly. php?ok=y& p=Attack- on-Gaza-As- Usual–by- Greg-Mitchell- 081230-602. html

In the usual process, the U.S. government, media here — and many of the leading liberal bloggers — are silent or playing down questions about whether Israel overreacted in its massive air strikes on Gaza, while the foreign press, and even Haaretz in Israel, carries more balanced accounts.

Anyone who cares should consult the respected Haaretz site often, if for no other reason than to learn that criticism of Israeli military actions are usually more heated inside that country than in the USA. The New York Times, for example, as of today (Monday), has not yet editorialized on the air assault. You may recall the lockstep support in the U.S. for Israeli’s invasion of southern Lebanon, which included the use of U.S.-made cluster bombs. That invasion turned out to be a genuine fiasco.

One Sunday analysis at Haaretz: “A million and a half human beings, most of them downcast and desperate refugees, live in the conditions of a giant jail, fertile ground for another round of bloodletting. The fact that Hamas may have gone too far with its rockets is not the justification of the Israeli policy for the past few decades, for which it justly merits an Iraqi shoe to the face.”

Another opinion piece in Haaretz — titled, “Neighborhood Bully Strikes Again” — by Gideon Levy: “Israel embarked yesterday on yet another unnecessary, ill-fated war. On July 16, 2006, four days after the start of the Second Lebanon War, I wrote: ‘Every neighborhood has one, a loud-mouthed bully who shouldn’t be provoked into anger… Not that the bully’s not right – someone did harm him. But the reaction, what a reaction!’ Two and a half years later, these words repeat themselves, to our horror, with chilling precision. Within the span of a few hours on a Saturday afternoon, the IDF sowed death and destruction on a scale that the Qassam rockets never approached in all their years, and Operation ‘Cast Lead’ is only in its infancy.”

Also from Haaretz, Zvi Barel writes: “Six months ago Israel asked and received a cease-fire from Hamas. It unilaterally violated it when it blew up a tunnel, while still asking Egypt to get the Islamic group to hold its fire.” Yet the U.S. media refers that only Hamas violated the ceasefire.

Another columnist there, Yossi Sarid, writes: “I can only hope that this time, for a change, we will know when to stop. This war must be described from the get-go as a war ‘to be on the safe side,’ rather than of necessity, and it is still unclear whether the last missile fired will be fired by us or by them.”

Amira Hass, the paper’s correspondent in Gaza, reports: “There are many corpses and wounded, every moment another casualty is added to the list of the dead, and there is no more room in the morgue. Relatives search among the bodies and the wounded in order to bring the dead quickly to burial. A mother whose three school-age children were killed, and are piled one on top of the other in the morgue, screams and then cries, screams again and then is silent.”

From the lead Haaretz editorial: “[T]he inherent desire for retribution does not necessarily have to blind us to the view from the day after….Israel’ s violation of the lull in November expedited the deterioration that gave birth to the war of yesterday. But even if this continues for many days and even weeks, it will end in an agreement, or at least an understanding similar to that reached last June.”

UPDATE: A McClatchy dispatch quotes Daniel Levy, a political analyst in Israel who once served as an adviser to Ehud Barak, who is leading the military campaign against Hamas: “I don’t see how this ends well, even if, in two weeks time, it looks like it ends well.”

Haaretz has just posted this from another columnist, Tom Segev: “[T]he assault on Gaza does not first and foremost demand moral condemnation – it demands a few historical reminders. Both the justification given for it and the chosen targets are a replay of the same basic assumptions that have proven wrong time after time. Yet Israel still pulls them out of its hat again and again, in one war after another.”

And this from another columnist, Akiva Eldar: “The tremendous population density in the Gaza Strip does not allow a “surgical operation” over an extended period that would minimize damage to civilian populations. The difficult images from the Strip will soon replace those of the damage inflicted by Qassam rockets in the western Negev. The scale of losses, which works in ‘favor’ of the Palestinians, will return Israel to the role of Goliath.”

The Monday editorial from the paper declares: “The current Israel Defense Forces operation in Gaza began with air strikes. In its first two days, there have been no reports of ground troops entering the Strip. But appetite is liable to overcome common sense and this tendency must be fought. Israel must adhere to the outline of Operation Cast Lead thus far, eschewing any major invasion that will end in occupation, a military administration and months (if not years) of fighting the local forces who will inevitably oppose the occupiers.”

The New York Times late Sunday reported, “At Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, women wailed as they searched for relatives among bodies that lay strewn on the hospital floor. One doctor said that given the dearth of facilities, not much could be done for the seriously wounded, and that it was ‘better to be brought in dead.'”

The Washington Post’s update: “By late Sunday night, the toll had reached 290 dead and as many as 1,300 wounded, Moawia Hassanain, a senior Palestinian Health Ministry official, said in an interview. The fatalities included 22 children younger than 16; more than 235 children were wounded, he said.”

———— ——— ——–

Featured
Barack Obama: “America’s First Jewish President”

By James Petras. Axis of Logic
Dec 13, 2008, 08:52
http://axisoflogic. com/artman/ publish/article_ 29031.shtml

“Obama asks Shimon Peres: “What can I do for Israel?”
– Haaretz November 17, 2008

“The UN Special Rappateur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories (Richard Falk) has said Israel’s policies there amount to a crime against humanity…He said the UN must act to protect the Palestinian population suffering what he called ‘collective punishment’…He said the International Criminal Court should also investigate whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law”

– BBC News  December 10, 2008

“We need to ratchet up tough but direct diplomacy with Iran, making very clear to them that their development of nuclear weapons would be unacceptable, that their funding of terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hizbullah, their threats against Israel are contrary to everything we believe in…We may have to tighten up those sanctions…and give them a clear choice…whether they want to do this the hard way or the easy way.”

President-Elect Obama on
NBC Meet the Press
December 7, 2008

Introduction

According to a nationally prominent Zionist spokesperson, former Congressman, Federal Judge, White House Counsel to President Bill Clinton and early backer of Obama, Abner Mikvner, “Barack Obama is the first Jewish President”.  Mikvner’s affirmation reflects both

Obama’s one-sided and longstanding commitment to the State of Israel and

loyalty to the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) in the United States, as well as

the long-term and successful effort of a network of financially and politically powerful Jewish Zionists to ‘embed’ Obama to their ‘Israel First’ political apparatus.

What is striking about the latter is the demeaning and arrogant claims made by some leading Jewish Zionist about their ‘central roles’ in the making of Obama’s professional and political careers – in effect denying the President-Elect any credit for his own academic or professional success.  (Historically this has been mirrored in the continuous claims of some American Jews to have fought and won the battle of Civil Rights in the 60’s on behalf of African Americans – essentially denying black Americans any independent political role in their own struggle.)  Even their personal flattery about his ‘wisdom’, ‘brilliance’ and ‘intellectual acuity’ is always linked with his unconditional support of the State of Israel.  One can envision how quickly his Zionist colleagues would replace their plaudits with crude insults regarding his intelligence if he suggested Israel end its starvation blockade of Gaza…  Needless to say the
Zionists know their man, as they confidently proclaim, he is a cautious and prudent politician, who measures power before he speaks, especially as he has filled the White House, economic councils and security apparatus with Zionist zealots.

The Making and Re-Making of Obama

The Chicago Jewish News, a nationally prominent Israel-First propaganda organ, published a lengthy article on ‘Obama and the Jews’ by Pauline Dubkin (October 24, 2008), which quotes approvingly a ‘long-time Jewish observer of the political scene’, who declared that, “Jews made him (Obama). Wherever you look there is a Jewish presence.”

This is not merely the usual arrogant self-aggrandizing boasts of a Zionist power broker, with which we are constantly bombarded on so many political topics, this reflects an important part of what Obama has become, especially in advancing his latter day political ambitions.  The Zionist self-promoters (ZSP), ever ready to take credit for any success (no matter how notorious and immoral) –

Wall Street speculators,

Ivy League professors,

Pentagon militarists,

cultural gurus, and

even the key patrons of art
forms like jazz and constantly rewrite history (or biography in the case of Obama) to maximize their self-importance in all aspects of American life.

The ZSP conveniently fail to mention in their articles that Obama’s white Gentile grandmother gave him the intellectual nurturing and encouragement and diligently petitioned for scholarships for him to attend elite private schools, which formed the basis for his intellectual skills to write, speak and reason as an educated man.  The ZSP exclude from their ‘revisionist and Judaized’ biography of Obama, the central importance of Reverend Jeremiah Wright who transformed Obama from an elite Ivy university graduate into an effective social activist.  Obama was able to participate and get involved in community organizing in Chicago’s African-American neighborhoods because of Wright’s endorsement and broad credibility.  If it were not for Rev. Wright, Obama would never have had a social base or organizational experience to engage in Chicago politics.  It is only after Obama had gained these skills and popular appeal that the Zionist politicos
noticed him and went to work on his ego and ambitions, recruiting him to their pro-Israel agenda and financing his political career.

The Zionist re-write of his biography has gone curiously unchallenged by Obama.  To suit his new mentors, the Israel-First ideologues and financial backers, he has willfully discarded and insulted his former mentors, as well as any current policy advisers and political colleagues who doesn’t adhere to the Zionist line of unconditional support for Israel.  Two cases come immediately to mind.  When leading Zionist ideologues objected to the presence of Zbigniew Brzezinski and Robert Malley, among Obama’s foreign policy advisors, the Zionists in Obama’s inner circle immediately marginalized them with his approval.  When the notorious torture-promoting Zionofascist Harvard Law Professor, Alan Dershowitz raised a howl about former US President Jimmy Carter (a principled critic of Israel’s apartheid policies) speaking at the Democratic Party Convention (following a century-long political tradition of honoring former presidents) the Zionist
operatives blatantly humiliated the elderly Carter by denying him even a five-minute speech – with Obama’s approval.  ‘Professor’ Dershowitz publicly crowed about his success and power over the Democratic nominee Obama in censoring the former President.

The conversion and promotion of Obama as an Israel-Firster is an excellent case study of the methods the ZPC has used to build a near invincible power base in the US political system.  The construction of the ZPC is not the result of a cabal with a preplanned centrally controlled operation.  Obama’s conversion began through

an ideologically diverse,

individual, family and community-based effort.

As Obama rose from local to national political office, Zionist promotion evolved from local into a nationally organized and concerted effort including campaign funding, business career appointments and paid propaganda and indoctrination junkets to Israel.

The ZPC offers positive inducements for the ‘recruitable’ and threats of retaliation and intimidation via media slanders and systematic public pillory through most Jewish communal organizations for the public political critics of Israel who remain recalcitrant and refuse to toe the Israel-First line.

Turning Obama into an Israel-Firster, according to the Chicago Jewish News article, began during his studies at Harvard Law School where he was ‘spotted’ by a Zionist professor, Martha Minow, as “smart, promising, and politically ambitious” and a likely recruit.  The professor proudly recounts how she contacted family members, including her father, a major Democratic powerbroker, and fellow Zionists who ran a law firm in Chicago and recommended they hire the Obama.  In brief, the first step in Zionist recruitment was using a prestigious academic post for initial contact, followed by a promise of career advancement through a professional network.

The next step was to introduce Obama to an association of ‘friends and neighbors’ in the Jewish Community including prominent Zionist financial supporters.  Obama’s early promoters played a key role in convincing him that his political future depended on Zionist allies and that support depended on his total commitment to an Israel-First agenda.  As Obama’s ties with his Zionist-liberal backers in the Democratic Party thickened, his links to black community organizing and his pastor and former mentor, the progressive African-American minister, Reverend Jeremiah Wright weakened.

By the end of the 1990’s, Obama was firmly embedded in the liberal Zionist Democratic Party network and through it he teamed up with two key Zionist figures who were crucial to his presidential campaign:  David Axelrod, Obama’s chief political strategist since 2002 and the chief architect and tactician of his presidential campaign in 2008 and Bettylu Salzman, daughter of Phillip Klutznick, a billionaire real estate developer, slumlord and zealous Israel-Firster.  Salzman/Klutznick admits she never would have bankrolled and promoted Obama simply because of ‘his smarts’ or liberal politics if he hadn’t pledged his commitment to Israel’s interests.  She states,
“Obviously I’m not going to support someone who is opposed to Israel and what it stands for.  He’s right on all the issues when it comes to Israel.  He is in exactly the same place (Hillary) Clinton is, maybe stronger.  He’s a clearer thinker.” (Chicago Jewish News, October 24, 2008)

While Obama served in the Illinois Senate, he shared an office with an Orthodox Jew and fanatical Israel-Firster, Ira Silverstein, who boasts of his role in ‘educating’ Obama about Jewish Orthodoxy and more important “shared pro-Israel feelings” to the point that … “When Silverstein sponsored numerous resolutions condemning PLO bombings Obama eagerly signed on as a co-sponsor.” (ibid)

Fully embedded in the Zionist Power Configuration of Chicago, Obama was advised by the Axelrods, Klutznicks and other key strategists to make the obligatory ritual pilgrimage to Israel and pay obeisance to its leaders in the course of his Senate campaign.  During his trip to Israel, two years later in 2006, Obama was accompanied and guided by the executive vice-president of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. Under Zionist guidance, Obama ‘connected’ with the Israeli state, totally ignoring the plight of the Palestinians who were being savagely repressed by the Israel Army and assaulted on a daily basis by Zion-Fascist settlers.  Obama returned a thoroughly committed Zionist African-American politician.

With the Israeli-ZPC certificate of approval, Obama’s financial base of support widened to include some of the wealthiest pro-Israel Jewish Americans in the Midwest including Lester Crown, whose son, James Crown headed Obama’s financial campaign in Illanois.  According to Crown (pater),
“From the time I met him, the times we talked about Israel and we talked about it several times, he has been an ardent backer of Israel’s defense position (sic), Israel’s security position.” (Ibid)

To those Zionfascists who demand that Israel annex all of Palestine and expel ‘the Arabs’ and were disturbed by Obama’s passing reference to a two-state solution, Crown assured them that Obama’s proposal was couched in such outrageously impossible demands for concessions from the Palestinians that it was a dead letter.

Not all Jews accept this view of a Zionist-embedded Obama: Some racists reject him as an untrustworthy and unqualified ‘Schvartze’ because of his ‘very close intimate relationship’ with Reverent Jeremiah Wright.  The Zionist-influenced mass media took their cue from the far-right and orchestrated a hate campaign against Reverend Wright and his links to Obama. The ‘liberal Zionists’, who strategized and ran Obama’s presidential campaign, easily convinced Obama to publicly dissociate himself from his former minister and mentor of the 1980’s.  Obama complied.  However, the alliance of the Republican Right and Zionfascists demanded Obama make a public denunciation of the Minister. The liberal Zionists prepared the script, which Obama recited, issuing a vicious condemnation of Rev. Wright and specifically listed Wright’s defense of the sovereignty and self-determination of the Palestinians as one of his ‘crimes’.

Obama had crossed the River Jordan. His capitulation to the Zionofascists was the inevitable consequence of his intimate and longstanding ties to his liberal-Zionist backers.

The public purging and scourging of a renowned African-American Christian theologian of the oppressed was only the beginning of the Zionist makeover of Obama as the first Jewish (or better Zionist) President of the United States.  It was followed by further purges of any ‘centrist’ or ‘realist’ establishment adviser, who might at any time in the past have issued the mildest criticism of Israel’s policies or even praised or associated with any other critic of Israel or the Jewish Lobby in the US.  It was ‘guilt by association’.

The Zionofascists soon pressed their campaign to force Obama’s liberal-Zionists to purge Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Cold Warrior National Security Adviser to former President Jimmy Carter, Samantha Power, author and lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and Robert Malley, a former Clinton adviser for their perceived crimes against Zionism.

Brzezinski was accused of advocating what he called “an even-handed Middle East policy”, something clearly ‘anti-Semitic’ in the eyes of the unconditional supporters of Israel who dominate the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (PMAJO). Worse still he praised the Walt-Mearsheimer book critical of the Israel Lobby, a capital offense in the eyes of most of the Jewish political spectrum.  Power and Malley also transgressed the Israel-First line.  Although Brzezinski later recanted his praise of Professors Walt and Mearsheimers’ study, he and the other members of the ‘objectionable three’ foreign policy specialists were marginalized and excluded from having any input on policy issues related to Middle East.

Control of Obama’s Middle East policy was taken over by Dennis Ross, a virulent Zionist advocate of Israel’s ultra-militaristic policies, including an armed preemptive attack on Iranian nuclear and military installations.  Ross is an unconditional supporter of the Israeli starvation siege of the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip and fully backed Israel’s savage air attacks against civilian targets in Lebanon.  Obama’s appointment of Ross is the clearest guarantee to all Zionists, liberal, orthodox or fascist, that US policy in the Middle East will continue to be subordinated to the interests of the Israeli State and its military.

Obama’s purge of any and all moderate voices on Middle East policy, his placement of fanatical Israel-Firsters in most key positions in his campaign and new Administration reflects his long-term, deep immersion into the Zionist Power Configuration.  The result is a “Jewish President” – in the sense that most key White House, economic and security appointments reflect pre-election Zionist power in the making, indoctrination and scripting of the Obama candidacy.

The Configuration of the ‘Jewish President’

One of Obama’s longest supporters, Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf, provides a clue to Obama’s affinity for Zionist appointments.  According to Rabbi Wolf,  “Obama is embedded in the Jewish world.”  While the Rabbi is presumptuous to assume that all Jews subscribe to his own Israel-First views, he is absolutely correct if he is referring to the Jewish-Zionist world.

Nothing better explains Obama’s selection of demonstrably failed economists and security officials than his long-term, large-scale links to the ZPC.

Obama started with the appointments of dual US-Israeli citizen, Illinois Congressman Rahm Emmanuel and Zionist David Axelrod to top White House posts, as well as Lawrence Summers (long-time Harvard ally of the Judeo-fascist, torture advocate Alan Dershowitz) as chief White House economic adviser.  Summers is a life-time Israel-Firster, who used his presidency at Harvard University as a bully pulpit to attack a student-faculty group critical of Israeli policies in the Occupied Terrtories.  As the former Treasury Secretary under the Clinton regime he was a key architect of the speculator-dominate d financial system, which is currently in total collapse.  In line with the ‘Jewish Presidency’, Obama named one of the foremost, unconditional Israel-Firsters to be his key Middle East policymaker – Dennis Ross, a leading Zionist ideologue and co-author of a presidential position paper advocating pre-emptive war with Iran.  Ross is the pivotal Zionist
figure in Obama’s entourage and his appointment is the guarantee for the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (PMAJO) that the Obama regime will follow and support with American guns and American tax-payer money every Israeli war crime, assault or invasion on its Arab and Parsi-speaking regional neighbors.

Ross, Axelrod, Summers, Emmanuel and their craven followers in Congress together with the AIPAC and the entire Zionist community-based network will ensure that Obama is inextricably ‘embedded’ in their agenda.  They will not allow the publication or support of any intelligence investigation, judicial inquiry or United Nations report, which challenges Israel’s occupation of Palestine and promotion of pre-emptive war with Iran based on the fabrication of data about its so-called nuclear threat.  Each and every recently appointed Zionists has condemned the United Nations and International Atomic Agency reports refuting Israel’s phony claims of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.   They will make sure that newly appointed National Security Adviser, General James Jones will never bring up or make public his highly critical internal report based his on-site investigation of Israel’s crimes against the civilian Palestinian population in the
Occupied Territories.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, President Obama and Defense Secretary Gates are so deeply ‘embedded’ in the Zionist network and so deeply infused with the Israel-First ideology that ZPC ‘pressure’ will not be necessary.  The three are, in effect, Zionized Zombies, eager to fawn and truckle, even to grotesque excesses, at every wink and gesture, signaling military handouts, UN vetoes and repeated provocative acts of war against Iran.  They have even exceeded President Bush in their eagerness to please their Zionist mentors by recognizing Jerusalem as the ‘undivided’ capital of the Jews – effectively denying the rights of the Palestinian residents.

Nothing speaks to the dominance of the ZPC over US political life – domestic and foreign – than the election of their meticulously groomed first ‘Jewish President’ – and the subsequent takeover of strategic economic and security posts in his administration.

Conclusion

The ascent of a minority of ambitious power-driven political operatives acting first and
foremost for a militarist colonial power in a strategic region of the world economy represents the biggest threat to world peace and to US democratic values in recent history.

Think about it: Not only do the Zionists and their embedded clones rule the White House, they also have the political apparatus (left, liberal, center and right) to silence, insult, witch hunt and isolate any critic of their agenda, their organizations and of the State of Israel.  When confronted by a critic the entire apparatus brays in unison about ‘anti-Semitism’ and follows up with severe civil sanctions.  As Obama’s career under his Zionist handlers illustrates, they are capable of hurling repulsive denunciations against his former African-American mentor and spiritual councilor, Reverend Wright; capable of publicly humiliating and pushing aside a former President and Obama supporter, Jimmy Carter; capable of isolating and ‘sanitizing’ former top foreign policymakers from earlier Democratic Administration like Brzezinski, simply for pointing out Israeli crimes against humanity (although such observations are made daily in the European
press and political circles).

The apparatus combines the carrot (embedding and promoting Obama) and the stick (stigmatizing Carter):  It all depends on whether an individual, politician, academic, writer or journalist is ‘useful’ (i.e. an unconditional supporter) or ‘harmful’ (i.e. critical) to the State of Israel.

The Obama experience illustrates how a small, close knit, well-organized and well financed minority operating through prestigious professional posts and powerful economic enterprises can penetrate major political institutions, capture upwardly mobile politicians and ‘turn’ them into willing accomplices in promoting wars on behalf of a foreign colonial militarist power.  If in the past we have experienced Zionist thuggery mugging our freedom of speech in civil society, think of what we can expect when these thugs have complete control of the White House.  The ‘First Jewish President’ of the United States indeed!  Where does that leave the American people, their rights, their interests and their country’s independent foreign policy?

Epilogue

In early December 2008, Israel’s right wing party, Likud, under the leadership of ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu, met and nominated its slate of candidates for the upcoming national elections (February 12, 2009).  The majority of candidates nominated represent what most Israeli journalists call the ‘hard right’ or what might be accurately described as Zionfascism.  The Likud Party majority favors

the expulsion of all Palestinians (i.e. non-Jews) from Greater Israel,

the military seizure of Gaza,

the end of any pretense of peace negotiations and

the immediate bombing of Iran.

Currently Likud and its fascists have the support of a plurality of Israeli Jews.  If they win, it is a virtual certainty they will receive the automatic support of all the principal, respectable pro-Israel Jewish organizations in the US, who follow the line that: “It is not ours to question whom the Israelis vote for office.  It is our duty to back the State of Israel.”

The election of an Israeli-fascist regime will up the ante in Washington. Does Obama’s embedding in the Zionist apparatus include support for Jewish fascism, the total ethnic cleansing of Palestine and their unilateral decision to ‘nuke’ Iran?  Three weeks into his presidency Obama will face his biggest Middle East challenge, which will define the nature of US policy in the region.

Obama has recently suggested that Washington would nuke Iran to protect Israel –which has never yet signed a treaty with the US – to which the Bush Administration replied contemptuously that it would be very hard to convince American parents in Kansas that their sons should risk nuclear incineration for the sake of a small country in the Middle East.  Clearly Obama is a greater war monger on issues involving Israel then even Bush:  It comes with being a “Jewish President”.