Archive for the ‘Opinions and Letters’ Category

marcell

Marcell Shehwaro: “Revolt”. Taken during Arab Bloggers Meeting in Jordan by Amer Sweidan. Photo from Global Voices Online

WRITTEN BY Marcell Shehwaro
I read Max’s article which aims to open our eyes to the dangerous hidden reality behind The Syria Campaign. I read it over and over and all I felt was a combination of patronisation and humiliation in detail after detail… Beginning with the focus on who took the photo of Omran and who published it and neglecting the fact that what happened to Omran did actually happen and the boy really was bombed. But of course this detail is marginal… just as marginal as all other Syrian men and women in that piece of writing. All of us are marginal details.

More important now is how to help the killer escape by spreading doubts around all the human rights violations they committed.

My organization is one of the 73 organizations that signed on to suspending cooperation with the UN. The decision was taken and planned as per the following steps. Months and days of dysfunctional coordination with the UN as a result of the political ties of the UN’s offices in Damascus. Let alone the grave failure, that the UN admits to, of dealing with the sieges. The Syrian anger towards this topic was portrayed through many responses, actions, banners and campaigns such as United Nothing. All those are purely Syrians but it seems not important enough for Mr. Blumenthal to mention.

We internally shared the statement, which was drafted by Syrian humanitarian organizations, for endorsement. We even objected to the mild language of the statement which some described as nice and friendly. After the internal agreement of the drafting organizations, which apparently it’s not convincing to the writer that the Syrian organizations have a decision-making mechanism, we shared the statement publicly for wider endorsement.

Of course Mr. Max is able to judge and knows better than all of us that we as Syrians have been influenced to shape our opinions! We have been “spurred” to sign! We are mislead, absent, easily manipulated.

This is how Syrian organisations are portrayed in the article.

On the no-fly zone and regime change. Here comes a more irritating speech. Early 2012, I wrote a “silly’ blog under the title “10 reasons why I am against no-fly zone”.

I wrote all possible and expected reasons in relation to sovereignty, imperialism and so on
I was “naive” back then to think there were global civilian protection mechanisms that will prevent us from tending to such solution ie; no-fly zone. I used to think that airstrikes will never be part of the regime response against people. I had the luxury to do so as by then we were not bombarded at from the sky yet.

Until today I regret that feeling of luxury.

Yes Max, The Syria Campaign say we need a no-fly zone and it is because it echoes what Syrians call for day and night.

Yes we want the shelling to stop. We want the aerial bombardment to stop. Which is until this moment just a small detail in your article.

Yes the Russian and Assad airstrikes target Syrians, their hospitals and schools. But this article is not about that small detail that takes the lives of hundreds every day. This one is about how dare an “advocacy” project for syrians to convey syrian messages to the world!!

Yes Max we do want a no-fly zone because two of our education staff were injured last week. Maybe because the manager of our education office in Aleppo has to face a decision whether to close schools and deprive children of their right to education or open schools and risk their safety and lives.

Because once we had to discuss a real decision, and not imagined, on what is the “normal” ij number of airstrikes where we would continue to operate civil and humanitarian activities and when do we cross the “Ok” number.

Because hospitals are underground. Because schools are now underground.

They brought us bunker buster bombs you know. I looked this word up in your article. It doesn’t sound that important.

Bunker buster bomb that destroys schools and hospitals and even shelters.

But what I found in your article that foreigners want a No Fly Zone. How dare they!!!
Dear Max, if you had listened to Syrians. If you just had assumed that we exist and do have opinions, maybe you would have figured out how we reached this point.

How do we live every day based on Whatsapp ringtone bringing the news of the location of each attack and who are the casualties.

Syrians there live on military air forces planes rhythm, wondering are we going to be bombed during the day only? Shall we work at night? Instead. No shall we do early mornings.

The Russians and the regime which you are discomforted with our will to topple are now working full time job. Day and night. We die. The simple logic is that we want to live. They attack us using air force. We want airstrikes to stop. Don’t you think this is logical? It is not because we are emotional people. All people across the world, I believe, don’t want to be attacked by air force. This is something common, no?

While discussing toppling the Regime it seems that you are missing some points dear Max. Let me make things clear for you. In 2011 we revolted against one of the toughest dictatorships. We called for freedom and for democracy. We as syrians, for sure if you managed to believe me, want democracy, we want the end of arrests, incommunicado arbitrary detention and shooting at peaceful demonstrations. We want the end of chemical attacks and Bunker buster bombs. We dream of change. Changing this regime, the same regime you referred to revolting against as a coup over a democratically elected government and not as a people’s will to restore its rights. Wait maybe you know better than us about our affairs.

Yes sir, The Syria Campaign as an advocacy group in support of us Syrians does say a lot of what we say over and over which no one listens to. Maybe this is considered political to you but I can see you are trying to take things to a level that is very dangerous for us Syrians. Not only as Syrians but you are undermining the activist movements across the world by painting democracy as a political issue. Hence justice, equality, freedom, and impunity become political issues that civil society activist should not get invloved in. This makes dictators happy while we work like doves of peace.

Yes Mr. Max, we syrians suffer daily from patronization over our advocacy as when we say Bashar Al Assad is killing us, our “supporters” rephrase to “ Syrians are being killed, Syrians were attacked, Syrians are starved”. The perpetrators are passive in that discourse.
Another example that comes to mind. We say:

“We want the shelling to stop so we can move on with our struggle for democracy”. Becomes “Syrians want the war to end so they can go back to peace.”

Our asks are trimmed or toned so we don’t disrupt anyone with such an ugly form of patronization. This what has forced us to see the need to define advocacy. Is it teaching Syrians what they should want while they face death everyday? Or conveying Syrian messages and voices to the world?

I will not even bother to comment on the White Helmets accusation. They have enough of the hallelujah of Syrian women every time they reach an airstrike site rushing to save people. In addition to cheers from children that they have saved and those are even more honoring than Nobel peace prizes even if I really hope they get it. We are just happy and proud as the White Helmets are from us.

Ah wait who are we? We are invisible in your article at the end. So no worries.”

101677e1441761633o6071WRITTEN BY Mary Rizzo

There are various moments / instances involved in the act of participation in discussions/debates

  • Launching the argument (starting the discourse)
  • Entering into a discussion that is already in course
  • Leaving a discussion (or closing a discussion)

For each of these, there are factors to consider: among which

  • Who is the interlocutor
  • Who is the listening public
  • Preparation of the participants
  • Preparation of the public – present at public events, broadcasts (real) or / Internet, Facebook, comments on articles (virtual)
  • Expectations of the public

Therefore, it is essential to know three things:

  • One’s own level of preparation and that of the interlocutor,
  • Determine the interest that the public has to follow your reasoning (and therefore, to adapt yourself, if necessary, to the climate of the debate and to the new elements that have emerged during the debate),
  • Know exactly what you hope to obtain and also that which you are unwilling to compromise on in terms or conclusion. The public often determines a “winner” of a debate. This is true even regarding interventions that do not include rebuttals, because the listener evaluates whether or not his or her own position has changed as a result of what the speaker has said.

Regarding our own preparedness, we are personally responsible, therefore, we have to keep well-informed of the arguments to handle, do our research, have an archive of facts and information that are easily accessible to us. We also have to be clear and convincing in our presentation of the information. We thus have to believe in what we are saying and also be able to support it with arguments based on reason, logic, supported by data that is as recent, reliable and convincing as possible.

In consideration of the level of preparation of the interlocutor, we also must do our research. Often, it is a person who has expressed his or her positions publicly, therefore, before the encounter, it is necessary to prepare ourselves on the arguments of this person. This means that we should know not only the probable content of her or her interventions, but also the sources he or she uses, the communication style, if in the past he or she has obtained something for supporting a position (we must not forget that almost all of the Assad supporters in Italy and Europe have been guests of the regime in Damascus or they have been paid or remunerated for their interventions, articles and sites in Europe). We have to mentally anticipate the discourse of the interlocutor, know his or her sources and their reliability, and we have to understand where he or she wants to bring the argument, as well as where he or she does not want to be brought by us.

The climate of the debate could also be determined by the moderator, or when there is no moderator, by the persons on the discussion panel. At times the public could also influence the climate, particularly when the debate begins to get heated or during the Q & A. Each interlocutor always tries to have the public on its side, and therefore has to always be aware of the signals it is sending. Sometimes it is possible to know if the public is sympathetic, hostile or neutral. If one does not know, it is a good policy to assume that it is sympathetic, but not too much. The approach in this case is to explain / define some lesser-known points, but assuming that the public has basic notions and also has already formed an opinion. It is also correct to assume that your values and the values of the public are specular or similar. It is a good policy to anticipate (mentally) the questions and the worries of the public and to satisfy their need to obtain answers that are honest, concise and correct. If, during the debate, one finds oneself on the defensive, it is preferable to acts as if the public were neutral and in this case, rather than be argumentative or assuming a defensive attitude (which is not appealing to anyone), it is necessary to take a step back and explain basic concepts in which a common ground can be found once more. In this case, it is also a good practise to assume that the public is in good faith, just as you are in good faith, but only that it does not have some necessary information. Your task is to provide the information they are lacking.

Instances of discussions:  

Launch: When one begins a discourse, it should be clear what he or she hopes to obtain, but it should also be clear to the public. Therefore, decide and express immediately if it is an informational meeting, if the public will be involved in some way, if some kinds of  actions are being asked of them, if there is also going to be the presence and participation of persons with opinions that are in conflict with their own (debate), etc.

The introduction (prior to opening the participation in the debate to others) should also incorporate the point or points that are going to be addressed. It is an ACTION THAT PROPOSES AND SHOULD NOT BE REACTIVE.  It also should not anticipate conflicting opinions (which could emerge during the debate). It is important that if we are the ones to launch the discussion, the evolution of the discussion follows specific paths that we are the ones to direct. Therefore, we have to use the concept of “framing the discourse”, in which we do not allow that the argument is changed into a different argument,  we should avoid becoming distracted or brought too far away from our theme, we should not lose control and ownership of the discourse. Every time it becomes necessary, we have to know how to bring the discourse back on track. In these moments, the adversary could attempt to use various “derailment” strategies, trying to not allow us to conclude our line of reasoning, and to make us feel frustrated. It is important to NOT become frustrated, to not lose patience, but to communicate in a clear and reasonable way that the argument is going to get back on track now. Often we find that the adversary uses “argumentative or logical fallacies” which are violations of the rules of critical discourse, when he or she is unsuccessful in taking down an argument based on merit of logic of with facts. A fundamental resource of the discipline of Pragmatics and with helpful suggestions for persons engaged in public debates is the Journal of Pragmatics: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/03782166

In conclusion, if you are launching the discourse, REMAIN THE OWNER OF THE DISCOURSE.

Argument already begun: This is generally the case during events when you are on the panel but have not organised the event, when you are in the public and have asked a question or “challenge” one of the interlocutors during the Q & A, when you are participating in a radio or television broadcast, when you participate in discussion groups in Internet, when you respond to comments in articles in newspapers or on sites.

Differently from the first instance, you are more REACTIVE and are responding to the points already expressed by others. Your form of response in general would be one of demonstrating the errors (or reasoning, source, data) of the information that’s been presented, or, if it is not a contrasting opinion, but only one that is not complete, to complement the intervention with further information.

It is always important to not deviate from the theme, or you actually CAN deviate the discourse of the others as long as it is logical and correct, but NEVER violating the rules of discussion. Always avoid fallacies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

Leaving a discussion or closing a discussion:  If it is an event that we or others have organised, the time limit has generally been established, and we should keep the discussion always within those temporal limits. The organiser has to always advise the public that the event is coming to its closure at around fifteen minutes prior to the end, and during this time will also try to express a conclusion or, if possible, to have the final word. If you are responsible for concluding the meeting, it has to be closed in a climate that is pacific, calm and conciliatory, even if during the event there has been heated debate. Never leave the public with the sensation that you are argumentative and quarrelsome or that you hold grudges. It is equally important to avoid using expressions that are exasperated or excessive.

If it is a virtual intervention, (that is, without a known time limit or the need to bring it to a conclusion) we have to always consider if it is worthwhile to persevere or if it is more beneficial to leave the conversation. Elements to consider: number of participants, if others are influenced/can be persuaded by our intervention, how many colleagues we have to sustain us and contribute or whether we are alone against everyone.

In addition, we have to always keep in mind the type of public that is present, and to choose both the method and the arguments where we can find common ground. There are various ways to convince the public of the correctness of our argument, but it will be more effective if our language, the issues we focus on and our conclusions are easily assimilated. We should participate in debates where we can contribute in a positive way with our knowledge, and we also have to know the terrain in which we are not knowledgeable and to leave the space to colleagues who are more informed than we are or who have particular experiences and information that could reach the public. We have to be aware of our own limits and recognise the merits of others, asking them to contribute in our place when they could communicate the concepts better than we can.

Also in Italian in Le Voci Della Liberta

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The greatest threat to Syrian civilians is not ISIS or terrorism, but the regime and its allies.

Any credible peace initiative cannot ignore the information that comes directly from the field nor the direct and indirect complicity of Italy and Europe in the massacre underway: this is not about taking sides with one of the warring parties, it is about saving the lives of civilians when they are buried in the rubble of their homes and not first determining what the geopolitical consequences of their tragedy might be.

More information about the weapons trade agreements of Italian companies with the Russian arms monopoly Rosoboronexport: https://www.change.org/p/laura-boldrini-impedire-contratti-…

Italian light weapons and targeting systems in Syria: http://www.unimondo.org/…/Siria-rifornita-di-sistemi-milita…

The Italian Iveco LMV vehicles deployed by Assad: https://www.facebook.com/Abu.Diana/posts/10153658728853627?__mref=message_bubble

Italian technologies in the service of repression of Assad: http://tetra-applications.com/21030 http://www.bloomberg.com/…/syria-crackdown-gets-italy-firm-… http://arstechnica.com/…/wikileaks-italian-firm-sold-syria…/

Open letter to Italian movements for peace, disarmament and solidarity. SIGN THE LETTER

The ongoing conflict in Syria since the beginning of 2011 has caused more than 250,000 victims, over 10 million people (half the population!) have been forced to flee their homes, hundreds of thousands of women and men have been arrested, tortured and made to disappear, while another 650,000 human beings are currently living in areas under siege, with no guaranteed access to water, food and medicine.

Despite the fact that the UN Security Council, with Resolution no. 2139, has unanimously called – as early as February 2014 – for the cessation of the bombing of the civilian population, it has continued, and alongside the bombing undertaken by the regime, including the use of the notorious barrels bombs, are the bombs of the “international coalition” that are justified by saying they are going against the terrorists of the so-called Islamic State, but that, to date, has hit mainly civilians, not sparing even schools and hospitals. In 2015 over 73% of the civilian victims were caused by the Syrian government forces, followed by ISIS with 8%, 6% for the armed opposition and in just three months the Russian air force has been responsible for 5% of the number of victims in the year. The direct entry into the conflict by Russia – which has supported and armed the regime of the Assad clan, along with Iran and Hezbollah – has worsened an already desperate situation: three months from the first Russian aerial bombing, less than 20% of them have hit targets linked to ISIS, while the vast majority of bombs were dropped on other targets, with no regard for the civilian population.

Affected were hospitals and schools, bread production facilities and civilian homes, adding more blood to the already huge amount that has run over the past five years. According to the NGO Syrian Network for Human Rights, which recently published a detailed report, between 85% and 90% of Russian bombings have hit areas controlled by opposition groups to the regime of the Assad clan and densely populated areas. They have bombed, among other things, 16 schools, 10 hospitals or health care facilities, 10 markets, 5 bread production facilities, two archaeological cemeteries and one bridge.

Even more recently, Amnesty International has documented of the Russian bombing campaigns on the Syrians, claiming that they can be configured as war crimes and defining the attempt of the Russian government to deny having committed these crimes as “shameful”.

It seems clear, therefore, as the renewed efforts of the international governments – born in the wake of the conferences in Vienna and New York in the last two months and aimed at reaching a political solution to the conflict in Syria – are at high risk of failure, when which (in addition to being launched in the absence of any Syrian party) do not call for the immediate cessation of attacks on civilians. Significantly, after the approval of Resolution 2254 of the UN Security Council of 18 December, they attacks and bombings have increased dramatically on all areas no longer under the control of the Assad regime. There is an upsurge in the use of cluster bombs, while the Damascene suburb of Moaddamye has denounced even a new chemical attack.

Faced with this scenario, the silence of the movements and organisations, of peace activists, of proponents of disarmament and of the Left in Italy is extremely embarrassing. Sorry to say it, but it seems that they think that the bombs from the White House are criminal and those of the Kremlin are innocuous or even positive. As hard as you look, you cannot find a statement or a simple comment on the devastation caused in Syria by Russian bombs, and no shortage of protests – sacrosanct – against sending Italian bombs and other weapons to Saudi Arabia, in the legitimate presumption that these bombs will be used in the ongoing conflict in Yemen. This double standard, in our opinion, is delegitimising the initiative of the movements and of the left: it is not credible to have a denunciation of the bombing on civilians when they are operated by the US at the same time as a total silence when similar bombings against civilians are carried out by another power. The excuse that these States are supposed to be our allies and so it is to Washington and the chancelleries close to it that we should focus our attention is a weak one, from the moment the Assad government has deployed the Italian means of production supplied to him by Moscow and still employs Italian targeting systems on his tanks, as well as Italian spy technologies used to detect and suppress nonviolent activists who gave birth to the Syrian revolt since 2011. Even the Italian weapons sold to the Russian Rosoboronexport are likely to be used against civilians.

With this open letter, we want to urge the movement and the Left towards undertaking a coherent initiative requesting the cessation of all military operations in Syria against civilians, by whomsoever they are committed, in the same way that we have to request the cessation of sieges and the creation of humanitarian corridors for cities, villages and refugee camps, that have been subjected to this collective punishment for years, as well as the release of all political prisoners.

In the absence of such an initiative, all talk of sustaining peace in Syria cannot but appear completely hypocritical.
Comitato Khaled Bakrawi

To join and support this open letter:  comitatokhaledbakrawi@gmail.com

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Original in Italian https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1iqSTSxnN5Af_TcWIzYIs90v0uQ14MDpZM_FS_BVrIm0/viewform?c=0&w=1&fbzx=-1784805715108071000

 

Thank you, from Nour, an artist in Syria.

Thank you, from Nour, an artist in Syria.

Dearest daughters, dear Vanessa and Greta,

Welcome home. We are very happy to know you are safe within the loving embrace of your families.  In these five months we have never stopped praying for you.

I want to just write a few lines to thank you for your sacrifice and your commitment, thank you for having made the cause of the long-suffering Syrian people your own and for having taken so fully to heart the suffering of the children, women, youth and the elderly who are dying in Syria. You are a noble example of what volunteering is, the pride and joy of Italy, where every day thousands of persons are dedicated to helping those in need. The Syrian people thank both of you and all the Italians who have never stopped sending their aid and who have welcomed and comforted refugees in transit on Italian soil.

You have been mothers to the little orphans and sisters to the many Syrian women who are paying with their lives without any reason for it. You have waved the flag of Free Syria, honouring the sacrifice of the 270 thousand Syrian victims who have died in the name of dignity and freedom.

As a father, I am so proud of your altruism and your generosity: so young, and yet at the same time, so sensitive to the pain of the millions of helpless civilians who have been undergoing a genocide for almost four years. My dear daughters, five months spent so far away from your loved ones, five difficult months of pain and suffering: you have paid so dearly for your altruistic instinct for which the entire Syrian population, 21 million persons, are indebted to you.

Please don’t apologise, on the contrary: the world of free men and women is on your side and is with you, and is very sorry for all that has happened to you and what you have had to undergo.

Welcome back, and may you receive the blessings that the Lord will grant you for your generosity and sensitivity.

Dr. Dachan Mohamed Nour

Syrian National Council

la comune 2From La Comune, a “Humanist Socialist” organisation in Italy that has always been side by side with us in the struggle for Syrian Freedom.  WRITTEN BY RENATO SCAROLA, Translated by Mary Rizzo

We are happy that Greta and Vanessa are alive and free. We are disgusted by the comments and by the articles that are vulgar and chauvinist, cynical and with evident instrumental manipulation of the truth that has followed their liberation Greta and Vanessa are being attacked as women and as persons who are in solidarity with a population caught between the vice grip of the Assad dictatorship and the Neo-Nazis of ISIS. The former Fascist Gasparri has distinguished himself in this flood of cynical sexist vulgarity.  Moreover, manipulating the truth, it has been insinuated that Greta and Vanessa have had ambiguous contacts with sectors connected to al Qaeda, that is, by those who had kept them imprisoned as hostages for months. From what the young women have declared and from what we know, their commitment and aid is devoted to the Syrian population and is against both the dictatorship of Assad as well as that of al Qaeda and the Neo-Nazis of ISIS. Analogously, put under accusation is also Yasser, an exponent of the Syrian Arab Community in Italy (and friend of Greta and Vanessa) of Bologna and of the Committee of Solidarity with the Syrian Karama population, a person who has signed the appeal that La Comune has promoted for a day of national action in solidarity with the Kurdish, Iraqi and Syrian populations against the Neo-Nazis of ISIS.

We denounce these cynical and ignoble attacks and we express our solidarity to Greta, Vanessa and Yasser, which for us cannot be renounced as a necessary part of the support alongside the Kurdish, Syrian and Iraqi populations in the people’s resistance to the Neo-Nazis of ISIS and dictators like Al Assad.
Original: http://www.lacomuneonline.it/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=973%3Agreta-e-vanessa-solidarieta&lang=it

van a casa greta a casa

Written by Mary Rizzo

Hundreds of articles, thousands of comments and dozens of conjectures have emerged since the liberation of Greta Ramelli and Vanessa Marzullo from their imprisonment in Syria. Reading them, I am continually shocked by the content, mostly because the relationship of the content of these articles with reality is close to nil. And, of course, since those of us who know these women have acted responsibly, following the instructions of our government to keep press silence for their sake, it has given space to the vultures and monsters of orientalist, conspiracy, reactionary yellow journalism, who see in them all the ingredients for their “articles”: beautiful young maidens who are victims of the evils they embraced. Articles are coming out basing their research on the trash articles full of falsehood and insane conjecture, because during those endless 5 and a half months, the trash writers had free reign and their inventions, which will naturally be held up to scrutiny now that it is possible to respond to them, and certainly lawsuits will arise from the defamation they contain.

Five and a half months where those who know, and those who know better, were discouraged from expressing in public our solidarity, prohibited from making marches, creating petitions, even from something so simple as making a supportive page in Facebook. Asking activists to go against their instincts of protesting, getting into the streets and involving the general public in awareness raising activities is asking a lot of them, especially if the thing they are being asked to do is to keep silence regarding persons they know and love very much. But this was done, some of us suspending our feelings of disappointment in how our government works, and simply trusting them and obeying them. Our government pulled through and fulfilled their obligation to bring back our co-citizens who were victims of criminals in a foreign country. We are so grateful to them for their efforts and thrilled at their success.

There are other Italians who are not so happy about it though. One of them, for instance, is a former minister, Luca Zaia who says, (taking the words of some unknown “Tweeter” account statement as legitimate against the word of his own government that states that no ransom was paid and international laws were adhered to) “there has to be a norm for whoever gets themselves in trouble, they have to find their own way to get out of the mess.” He suggests that the goods of the families of Greta and Vanessa should be confiscated for life, to repay the Italian State, in fact.  All of that is pretty rich coming from someone who, when he was minister of Agriculture brought upon the Italian State fines amounting to 2.4 billion Euros for not adhering to EU limits of milk production, “The smooth operators and cheaters in the milk quotas have cost us Italians 4.5 billion Euros. In 2009 then Minister of the Northern League Zaia bailed out the “tax evaders” and denied the Revenue Agency Collection the right to get back the amounts paid by the State on their behalf.”

Then there are those who say they were involved with Jihadis and militias of every kind. Others who say they ought to have stayed in Italy and taken care of our many poor and needy. Still others say they had no preparation to go where they went to do what they claimed they were there to do. Neither of the first two groups have the faintest idea of who Greta and Vanessa are. They don’t know that they have been involved in the humanitarian aspect of what is a war zone. They have absolutely a point of view, given their interest and knowledge of the situation, and it is impossible to remain “neutral in the face of oppression” or pretend that there is not a war going on and know how it started and what areas are suffering the most. They don’t know that they also have volunteered and been trained in Italy and other countries, and that they were not “sent” by anyone. It seems peculiar to these people that young adult women can have a grasp on a very complex situation. Just because those condemning them don’t have a grasp, they assume it should be the same for Vanessa and Greta. The third group of critics has a slight advantage in that while they are wrong about them being totally unprepared, they are right that this kind of volunteer work in a war zone has absolutely no rules and anything can happen, even to the most prepared person, so this is all the more true of two individuals representing a humanitarian group they were the founders of, without a history of safety regulations and a staff to organise every particular up to the smallest detail.

Those who doubt their sincerity, however, or why they should be so involved in Syria, evidently have not had the same exposure to the information that the women have had. Ones who are informed of the situation of the Syrian population, who have learned about the suffering and the slaughter of innocent people, particularly children, simply can’t just shut it off. It becomes a sort of obsession, a constant suffering. There are simply people in the world, empathic and humanitarian people, and Vanessa and Greta are two of them, who when they see the suffering of others, enter into a state of profound com-passion. They feel it fully, they share in the pain and it becomes so deeply felt that they feel that their duty is to help, they cannot NOT help. They believe in the power of love and the human duty to not look away but to do like others have done before them throughout the history of the world, where the people we are given as examples for life go to the den of the leper and embrace him, to make him feel that he is not alone in the world and to try to heal his wounds. They knew that their aid might be a drop in the bucket, but the power of sharing the suffering, taking part and witnessing, that is something that they felt compelled to do, and all the friendly advice of those who love them could not change the path that they set before them, to BE THERE for others. If there are those who doubt this sentiment can exist, I say, they are surrounded by grey people, and when they find themselves alone and in pain, they may not have someone there to stand by them, that kind of thing is not contemplated in their world. But this is the world of Greta and Vanessa, the world of compassion and sharing in the burden.

It is disgusting to read the various comments by people who only criticise them or even smear or defame them. But it is good to realise that they come from a world that is alien to mine and to that of Greta and Vanessa, who are thankfully enjoying the support of many, despite the louder voices of the vile and vulgar ones. In schools across Italy (if I take for an example my own child’s high school) the “hour of religion” – yes, Italian public schools have this, and given that the students prefer to stay together during the day, even those who are not Catholic participate and they are basically classes where ethics and current events are discussed – all of the students applauded the girls, said they were proud of them, admired them, thought they were the best representative of humane ideals, but simply that they were wrong to have underestimated how dangerous it was and to have caused their families the worry. In Italy, unlike America, young people often live at home even after they reach 18, and independence is not complete, though the right to make important decisions is recognised, it is still considered necessary to obtain parental approval for some things, and in this case, the students of my child’s class thought that this was the only thing they did wrong. It seems that 17 year olds have a better understanding than 50 year olds sometimes…..

But there is one subject that remains to be discussed, and that is how it happened. All we know is that despite the media circus, the “jihadi” theory is ridiculous and so is the one that they were working for the FSA. The dynamics are going to come out in time, and rather than the weak little Pollyannas that some may have thought they are, the two Italian women are proving to be stronger than lions. They not only had to undergo the horrors of their imprisonment, but they are fully collaborating with the magistrates who are investigating the kidnapping. They, in the first place, who believe in justice and dignity, are not going to withhold any information that leads to the arrest of those who are responsible for their abduction and detainment against their will. It is possible that those who are responsible don’t live in a war zone, so justice may indeed be served.

It is said that in their auditions before the investigators, who have opened the case to investigate and ultimately prosecute those responsible, they were aware of the reason they were abducted the moment they were taken away, because they asked, “Why??” and the response was, “For money”.

Yes, this is where those of us who not only love and admire Vanessa and Greta now have to take a stand. We, like them, believe in justice, human rights and most of us also support the revolution against Assad. We are quite willing to condemn any and every group and individual who not only has violated the rights of humanitarians but who have betrayed the very cause of opposition to Assad if they engage in actions that are against human rights and harm innocent people. If it is true that, as they admit, they were in a place considered as safe, only for it to instead have been a trap artfully set up by those who acted like friends only to betray them, then this is not going to be buried under the rug because it is shameful. Instead, we trust more than ever our authorities to investigate, find the evidence that will prove that they have been set up by guys who boast of their importance inside Syria with the oppostion and their excellent and safe connections, and there is going to be no rest if it turns out that these are individuals who are hiding behind the Syrian revolution flag or acting like they are for the overthrow of Assad or even if they are (as they may claim) greatly respected by the revolutionaries and even influential in Syria. If their tactics are the same, treating innocent people like merchandise, a cheap form of human trafficking, it is all the more shameful because it has brainwashed itself that it’s for “the cause”. It’s not for any cause that Vanessa and Greta and the rest of us stand for. If it is a person or persons involved in the opposition militia, my personal wish for them is that they simply keep on as they are doing, because even if they achieve martyrdom, they are not going to ever achieve Janna (paradise) because they have committed a crime so heinous that there is no way to atone. They will learn what imprisonment is, eternally.

If they have even the thought that the lives of these women have X value and they tricked them or led to them being tricked, then they are no different than what we are against, and they, hopefully soon exposed, should be made to pay their debt with justice until their last day on earth. They are not going to find any “friends” who cover for them or pat them on the back or who justify what they have done. Whoever it is, may they feel that the circle is closing in on them, and the sooner the Syrian people are rid of such traitors, the better. It is also unfortunate that thanks to situations like this, other humanitarian efforts are thwarted, relief to the suffering Syrian population is going to be denied and the end of the Assad regime is going to be set farther ahead. Yes. Thanks to the betrayal of such kinds of persons against all that is good and right, who abuse trust and good faith and the purity of decent people. They betray all of Syria by their actions.

Lastly, we thank Greta and Vanessa from the heart for proving to us that there is indeed humanity, for being the beautiful people they are. We wish for them only the joy, happiness, serenity they deserve so much and we are thrilled that they are reunited with their families who strongly supported them and went through their own suffering, but who are not punitive, because there is nothing to punish heroes for, because it is a blessing to be in the midst of heroes, humanitarians and persons who know the meaning of the phrase, “stay human”. No matter what choices Vanessa and Greta make in life, we stand by them, we trust them and we love them, and hope we are going to be worthy of them.

Greta Ramelli and Vanessa Marzullo, two human rights activists and aid volunteers for Syria.

Greta Ramelli and Vanessa Marzullo, two human rights activists and aid volunteers for Syria.

My dear daughters Greta and Vanessa,

in these days of silence we are living in a state of anxiety, worry and pain. Your good hearts, your profound humanity and sensitivity prompted you to not turn your backs, but instead to take to heart the cause of the Syrian people, as if it were your people, your family. You have taken the time to work to bring awareness to the situation and bring relief to the needy, thinking especially about the children. 200,000 dead, 50,000 died under torture, 500,000 prisoners in the prisons of the regime, 150,000 missing without a trace 3 and a half million refugees, 9 million internally displaces, 3 million homes destroyed, 1 million wounded, over 650,000 mutilated: behind these numbers, there are people, human beings, an entire population that is undergoing a genocide.

The proportions of this drama have left parts of the world indifferent, but not the two of you, who with your own small hands have been active and involved. I join in the prayers of your parents, friends, and everyone who knows you and who anxiously awaits your return. I join all of those who, like you, in these three years have wanted to be involved in concretely helping Syria. Selfless and generous men and women who work every day in silence to relieve the pain and suffering of so many innocent civilians. People who have not given up any of their own humanity, as instead have done those who revel in making judgements, comments, malicious criticisms certainly not worthy to be mentioned. People who behave like hyenas and jackals.

The situation in Syria is dramatic: the regime, which for over forty years has been repressing the entire nation continues its offensive on the cities using the air force and the army, sparing no bombs, including chemical ones. There are at least 26 groups of foreign mercenaries, with various acronyms and names, who are fighting against the people and the Syrian resistance. These terrorists, paid, armed, sent abroad, invade the liberated areas and carry out executions, kidnappings, crimes against the defenceless population and against the partisans who try to defend Syria and its people.

These same terrorists use religious names and clothes to disguise their wickedness and they are accredited by those same parties who favoured their onset and their operations, while the faithful know that such actions and such people are only an insult and blasphemy against religion and are useful to the purposes of disinformation and sectarianism, which is desired by the regime in Syria as in Iraq. Even the most unsophisticated people know that the caliphate is something else, but today we are faced with armed men in disguise who are committing unspeakable crimes against innocent people of every ethnicity, faith, social class, which in addition to enduring shelling, sieges and lack of medical care, food and education are also threatened by the wicked, persecutory and inhumane acts carried out by these barbarian invaders.

The acts of these criminals are a threat to the people of Syria and Iraq, but not only to them, because they are undermining the coexistence between religions and ethnicities that has lasted for centuries. It should be stressed that the reality of brotherhood, dialogue, respect, coexistence between religions has been in the hearts of the Syrians for centuries, from the very birth of these faiths, which have developed into the great monotheistic religions. It was not certainly the merit of the regime to create conditions of coexistence, conditions that today, however, are threatened by the arrival of these criminal occupants.

Our thoughts turn to Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, symbol of this coexistence and fraternal dialogue and it runs towards you, Greta and Vanessa, who have not been frightened by diversity, but have made it a richness. In the name of your example, in the name of the commitment of millions of Syrians, men and women of different ethnicities and faiths, we continue to believe in dialogue and support for the most vulnerable. Do not let the screaming of the sowers of discord prevail over the words of love and good sense that unites those who work in solidarity and peaceful confrontation. Dear Greta and Vanessa, dear Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, dear Syrians, we join our prayers for your immediate and unconditional release and your return in peace and serenity to your families.

Your uncle, Dr. Mohamed Nour Dachan

agnes (1) (StWC) invited Mother Superior Agnès Mariam de la Croix to speak at its November 30 International Anti-War Conference. Fellow guests included MPs Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn and journalists Owen Jones and Jeremy Scahill.

Responding to a firestorm of protest, Jones and Scahill vowed to boycott the event if the Syrian-based nun spoke alongside them. Eventually she decided to “withdraw” from the conference and StWC issued a statement without explanation. Nor did it divulge why anyone would object to a Syrian cleric’s participation in an ostensibly pro-peace event.

Here are some reasons why we consider Mother Agnès-Mariam’s inclusion in an anti-war event to be a “red line” for opponents of conflict. Despite contrary claims, she is a partisan to—rather than a neutral observer of—the war in Syria.

Mother Agnès claimed that the Syrian opposition faked films of Bashar al-Assad’s 21 August 2013 sarin-gas attack on Ghouta in the suburbs of Damascus. In her 50-page dossier on the horrible events of that fateful morning, she wrote that the dead, gassed children documented in those videos “seem mostly sleeping” and “under anaesthesia.”

According to Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, a Jesuit priest exiled by the Assad regime for speaking out against its suppression of peaceful protests and currently a prisoner of al-Qa’ida’s Syrian affiliate, ISIS, Mother Agnes “has been consistent in assuming and spreading the lies of the regime, and promoting it through the power of her religious persona. She knows how to cover up the brutality of the regime”.

Moreover, Syrian Christians for Peace have denounced Mother Agnès for claiming there had never been a single peaceful demonstration in Syria. The also accused her of failing to disburse any of the money she raised in the name of their beleaguered community. They have asked “that she be excommunicated and prevented from speaking in the name of the Order of Carmelites.”

Having a massacre denier and apologist for war criminals like Mother Agnès speak alongside respected journalists such as Jeremy Scahill and Owen Jones is not only an insult to them and their principles. It is also, more insidiously, a means of exploiting their credibility and moral authority to bolster hers, both of which are non-existent.  No journalist should be sharing a platform with Agnès when she stands accused of being complicit in the death of French journalist Gilles Jacquier by his widow and a colleague who accompanied him into Homs during the trip arranged by Mother Agnès in January 2012.

Given that her UK speaking tour is still scheduled to last from the 21st to 30th November we, the undersigned, feel compelled to express our profound and principled objections to those who give a platform to a woman condemned by Syrian pro-peace Christians for greasing the skids of the regime’s war machine.

Signatories:

  1. Prof. Gilbert Achcar, SOAS
  2. Assaad al-Achi, Local Coordination Committees in Syria
  3. Rime Allaf, Syrian writer
  4. Omar al-Assil, Syrian Non-Violence Movement
  5. Hussam Ayloush, Chairman, Syrian American Council
  6. Noor Barotchi, Bradford Syria Solidarity
  7. Mark Boothroyd, International Socialist Network
  8. Kat Burdon-Manley, International Socialist Network
  9. Clara Connolly, Human Rights lawyer
  10. Paul Conroy, photojournalist
  11. Donnacha DeLong, National Union of Journalists
  12. Hannah Elsisi, Egyptian Revolutionary Socialist
    Raed Fares, Head of Kafranabel Media Centre
  13. Naomi Foyle, writer and co-ordinator of British Writers in Support of Palestine
  14. Razan Ghazzawi, Syrian blogger and activist
  15. Christine Gilmore,  Leeds Friends of Syria
  16. Golan Haji, poet and translator
  17. Marcus Halaby, staff writer, Workers Power
  18. Sam Charles Hamad, activist
  19. Nebal Istanbouly, Office Manager of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SOC) in the UK
  20. Tehmina Kazi, human rights activist
  21. Ghalia Kabbani, Syrian journalist and writer
  22. Khaled Khalifa, Syrian writer
  23. Malik Little, blogger
  24. Amer Scott Masri, Scotland4Syria
  25. Margaret McAdam, Unite Casa Branch NW567 (pc)
  26. Yassir Munif, sociologist and activist
  27. Tom Mycock, Unite shop steward (pc)
  28. Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation
  29. Tim Nelson, Unison Shop Steward (pc)
  30. Louis Proyect, Counterpunch contributor
  31. Martin Ralph, VP Liverpool TUC (pc)
  32. Ruth Riegler, co-founder of Radio Free Syria, Syrian International Media Alliance
  33. Mary Rizzo, activist, translator and blogger
  34. Christopher Roche and Dima Albadra, Bath Solidarity
  35. Walid Saffour, Representative of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SOC) in the UK
  36. Gita Sahgal, Centre for Secular Space
  37. David St Vincent, contributing writer and editor, National Geographic Books
  38. Reem Salahi, civil rights lawyer
  39. Salim Salamah, Palestinian blogger
  40. Yassin al-Haj Saleh, Syrian writer
  41. Richard Seymour, author
  42. Bina Shah, author and contributor to the International New York Times
  43. Leila Shrooms, founding member of Tahrir-ICN
  44. Luke Staunton, International Socialist Network
  45. KD Tait, National Secretary, Workers Power
  46. Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner
  47. Paris Thompson, International Socialist Network
  48. Hassan Walid, Anas el-Khani and Abdulwahab Sayyed Omar, British Solidarity for Syria
  49. Robin Yassin-Kassab, author and co-editor of Critical Muslim
  50. Qusai Zakariya, activist from Moadamiyeh, Syria
  51. Nisreen al-Zaraee and Wisam al-Hamoui. Freedom Days
  52. Tasneem al-Zeer, activist
  53. Razan Zeitouneh, human rights lawyer

    originally published on: http://pulsemedia.org/2013/11/20/open-letter-to-the-stop-the-war-coalition/

1460303_10151719963817016_1488318310_nWRITTEN BY MOHJA KAHF

We are going through hell and our friends inside Syria are being torn limb from limb. You come in after three years of it and tell us what our uprising is and isn’t and what it should be and shouldn’t. We all started out together in it, hopeful, finding each other, Syrians, talking to each other again after years of monstrous silence twisted by so many layers of fear, generations of fear handed down by the trauma of families with absent members in prison. Young people began hearing their own voices for the first time, shouting “freedom.” “It was the first time I ever heard my own voice,” young women, young men, street protesters, have told me over and over. Working-class urban neighborhoods and farming- and middle-class rural villagers across the country came out for clearly stated goals of human rights and democratic freedoms and no more being ruled by police state, and it had nothing to do with Islamists but that was before you bothered to notice. Some 920 different locales were protesting nonviolently on a weekly basis by summer 2011, with at least 4 million of Syria’s 23 million people having protested at the height of 2011. Even this first reality, you won’t acknowledge.

Stunning arrogant brutality is how this police state met this uprising. Insane brutality and duplicity. House-to-house raids, tank and machine gun fire, ground troops, snipers, home burnings, the capture and torture of children, the siege of Daraa—all this before the uprising began to arm. The pressure for self-defense was intense. Come live in it for a day. I don’t think you’ve ever been stopped cold by the tears and the anguish in the individual self-defense argument from a real Syrian human being demanding, “if a regime militia is raiding my home, about to kill my children, how dare you tell me not to lift arms to try to save them.” I am stopped cold by it, every day. 

My only answer is: “look, I’m really sorry, but look at the facts; after the revolution lifted arms, your children are dead and so is the whole neighborhood. Arms are not working; self-defense is not defending; it is making you a more legible target for the lethal regime. It defended that home for two hours or two weeks, but in the end the entire neighborhood was flattened by the regime, because the regime is hugely more armed. Nor will outside military intervention save you. You can only win if you band together in slow, organized, nonviolent resistance.”

I say this and I staunchly advocate nonviolence over the din of shelling, but my voice breaks saying it to someone whose children are cowering tonight because the home is shaking because the town is being shelled and his parents are already dead. Some far-sighted Syrians got that having the (secular) FSA only drew heavier regime fire. Most Syrians did not get it—gasp, they live in a pro-violence culture like most of the world—and felt the only answer to the inequity in arms only means all their problems would be solved by heavier arms for the (secular) FSA which they see as defending them. I know they’re only harming themselves in believing this romance of armed liberation, but I know it from their pain, and I can only tell them with my voice shaking because I am at a privileged distance from them, and because I haven’t been able to help them in any other way stronger than they see the (secular) FSA helping them, and then the armed Islamists—who did not come in until 2012, able to wedge in because of the regime devastation wreaked on nonviolent uprising Syrians whose screams went unheard by you, able to ride in on the false promise of armed liberation and humanitarian aid not provided by others.

And you hear their cry for arms, and you brand them intransigent militants, and demand why they won’t go to Geneva. I demand that too, but I do it from inside a Syrian anguish, at far higher damage to myself than it costs you. You then turn around and cast aspersions on me and Syrians with similar stands, not even allowing us our embattled path, because of our “associations;” we wake up damned if we do advocate nonviolence, and damned if we don’t.

Our “associations?” We are Syrians. We all started out together. Hopeful. Three years ago, we did not know how things would unfold. We began working together and creating histories and relationships. And now that different paths have been trod in this revolution, you come in and tell us we are not allowed to be associates, to be related to other Syrian people in this revolution who’ve taken other paths? There are people on the pro-FSA side who I think have done no end of damage to this revolution, but for whom I’d give my life as much as for people in civilian resistance. Yeah, those are my associations.

You breeze in and say, in effect, “how dare these Syrians fall for the romance of armed liberation. They offend my anti-imperialist stance as a progressive American. Every leftist revolution has fallen for that romance and every other revolution too, but how despicable and primitive of these Syrians to fall for it.” You demand we apologize for “associating” with each other. You demand we devote our energies to proving we are nonviolent and meet your standards, like a man demanding a feminist prove she is not a man-hater and has never associated with militant separatist feminists. This, while we get derision from fellow Syrians every day for insisting that this brutal regime can be stopped by nonviolence, hisses from starving freezing impoverished people facing its gun barrels in their faces every day, before whose trauma we tremble. Insulated from realities on Syrian ground, you point to one of us and say, in effect, “How dare any of you Syrian activists abroad be tempted, even for a moment, to see an iota of use in bombing assad’s military airports that are bombing your people?” In the din of this shriek of pain that we hear unceasingly, to the edge of our insanity, from Syrians in Syria, how dare we as Syrian peace activists abroad ever register the temptation to sympathize with the primal desire that someone, anyone just come and bomb the fuck out of this monster killing people we know daily. How dare I have a friend like that.

Instead of offering one bit of solidarity, you come in to tell us who we are and who we should be and are suspicious of us if we are not packaged into discrete separate compartments for you. We’re not up to your standards. We are Syrians and yes, we associate with each other, nonviolent proponents and Coalition and FSA-proponents and hard-drinking Syrian atheists and Muslim Brotherhood and gay Syrians and Nusra sympathizers, all fighting the regime together in our different ways; and some of us even have nephews in assad’s army just as much as nephews in assad’s prisons and in the FSA, and regime loyalist aunts, and military officer dads about whom we are terrified they could be killed and horrified they could be torturing someone. Yes, simultaneously. Because that is what it is to be Syrian today. Yes we are all cousins, all in-laws, all related, all family, and we all will have to live with each other for years to come in this Syria boat that is a life and a home and a country for Syrians even if it is an equation on a piece of paper for you, and we in this Revolution hate and love each other and fight with each other all while struggling against a brutal regime for a future Syria that has some ounce of justice, some human dignity and freedom in it, and for us there is green and good in Syrians worth struggling for still, and who on earth are you to drain one drop of our precious few remaining energies.

suora    This is a letter that can be sent to every venue that is hosting Mother Agnes-Mariam De La Croix as a speaker. It can be personalized and altered as required. As activists and responsible human beings, we cannot stand by while an apologist for genocide is given a platform in spaces that claim to promote peace, justice, and human rights:

Dear Sir/Madam,

In reference to the visit of Mother Agnes-Mariam De La Croix, the Superior of the Monastery of Deir Mar Yacoub, (and any other persons participating at DATE/ADDRESS), we would like to draw your attention to the following:
Large scale massacres against civilian populations have been committed by government military forces and pro-regime militias in Syria. Those invited to speak about this immense tragedy should be examined carefully as to their position in support of the forces behind the massacres. It is unethical to give a platform to persons who support these massacres or facilitate them by spreading information that has been proven again and again to be misleading, false, and in many cases pure propaganda of the regime perpetrating the crimes. It would be completely unconscionable for a religious or spiritual organization to put their facilities at the disposal of such persons.

We fully respect the principle of debate and freedom of expression, but in this case the person you have invited expresses blind support for a dictator who has massacred and is still massacring his own population, including over 11,000 children. The only reason for this violence is the regime’s intention to crush any and all people who stand up for their human rights and who they deem to be a threat to their tyrannical rule. The regime has killed countless numbers of people for trying to exercise their right to free expression. It is clearly evident that the uprising in Syria started peacefully, and was not militarized. Nor was it based on religious intolerance or sectarianism. It began with non-violent protests demanding reforms and basic freedoms that they had been denied for far too long. These protests were met with extreme violence and repression, and in order to justify that, a machine of propaganda was put in place, disseminating lies, passing off hoaxes as fact, and claiming that minorities in Syria were under threat of harm from religious extremists. The speaker you have invited is one of the key players in this propaganda machine, many of her claims have been debunked by experts and witnesses, while the voices of those murdered by the regime have been silenced once and for all.

The peaceful nature of the protests that your guest attempts to depict as a violent insurgency against Syria’s minorities has been recognised by the European Union, the United States and the United Nations. The crimes against humanity committed by Assad have also been recognised by these entities, as well as by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. People in Syria only took up arms against the regime when the killing had reached such a scale that they were forced to defend themselves and their families militarily.

We are astonished that you have made your venue available to supporters of a murderous dictatorship. What is happening in Syria is in the public domain and cannot be ignored. Support for this project may amount to complicity in crimes against humanity. This is not just a legal issue but also a moral one.

It is extremely ironic that the photo used by the organisation promoting the event depicts damage in Syria caused by airstrikes. It is common knowledge that ONLY the regime possesses air power and the capacity to bomb cities and residential areas in this way. The use of the image in this way is further evidence of the bad faith of the organisers of this event. 

We request that you cancel this event immediately and we would like to suggest that you organise a new event that will present what is happening in Syria in a truthful and objective way. We thank you for your solidarity with the people of Syria.

Written by NOT George Sabra. [Submitted this to any number of publications, none picked it up. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone after Rania Masri…]

The anti-war movement in the West got what it wanted: the war in Syria grinds on without the involvement of the only force capable of ending the bloody stalemate, the U.S. military.

The anti-war movement in the West accomplished what it set out to do: American F-16s remained grounded while the Assad regime’s MiGs returned to the skies to bomb hospitals for the first time since Bashar al-Assad crossed President Obama’s “red line” on August 21.

The anti-war movement in the West succeeded: the big guns aboard America’s battleships parked off the Syrian coast remained silent as the regime’s big guns opened fire once more on defenseless civilian neighborhoods.

The anti-war movement in the West won a great victory: while the war-making regime in Damascus enjoys the unlimited and unconditional financial, military, and diplomatic support of Iran and Russia, the popular uprising still stands alone as the red-headed stepchild of the Arab Spring, without a steady source for the heavy weapons it needs to survive.

These are the bloody real-world consequences of this so-called anti-war movement’s triumph in the West.

This movement that arose on the basis of Sarah Palin-style concern for Syrian lives – “so we’re bombing Syria because Syria is bombing Syria?” – is nowhere to be found now that the regime’s savage campaign to end their lives has resumed in earnest. This movement that was so worried about the fate of innocent Syrians in the face of American bombs has not uttered a single word, not called a single Congressman, nor organized a single demonstration to demand the Obama administration send Syrians gas masks, something the administration has steadfastly refused to do despite its talk about basic human decency and the sanctity of children’s lives. Thus, the administration and its anti-war critics are united as one in treating Syrian lives as fodder for their political agendas, as a rhetorical device in finely-worded speeches about high-minded principles and universal ethics.

Leading figures of this movement like Rania Masri (who should know better because of her workaround Israel-Palestine) continually draw a false equivalence between the infrequent atrocities committed by a poorly armed, untrained, undisciplined, disorganized rag-tag opposition desperate to save themselves and their families from an oppressive dictatorial regime that uses sarin, tanks, jets, scud missiles, and artillery against them daily. Imagine blaming “both sides” for the carnage of the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising and you get an idea of how monstrous this is.

What is worse than this “anti-war” movement’s highly selective faux outrage over the plight of the Syrian people are the bald-faced lies it continually spreads to substantiate its position.

In the run up to the 2003 Iraq war, the anti-war movement fought the Bush administration’s lies with pure, unadulterated truth. Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter declared that Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed by the U.N. in the 1990s and pointed out that Iraq was a basket case militarily thanks to a decade of crippling U.N. sanctions. For his trouble, Ritter was shut out of the halls of power as lawmakers in Washington, D.C. authorized President Bush to disarm a disarmed Iraq by invading and forcibly occupying it.

In the run up to the 2013 Syria war that wasn’t, the anti-war movement fought the Obama administration’s truths with pure, unadulterated lies. Antiwar.com founder Justin Raimando saidthe Assad regime’s sarin gas attack in Ghouta on August 21 was a “hoax” and referred to it sarcastically as a massacre – in quotation marks. Retired CIA officer Ray McGovern and his Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) claimed that the Ghouta gassacre was a false-flag attack staged by the opposition in a bogus, unsourced Curveball-style “report” that VIPS plagiarized from Global Research, a conspiracy theory website founded by a man withdirect ties to the Assad dynasty.

“Bush lied, people died” is what the anti-war movement said when the Downing Street memo revealed that the Bush administration fixed the facts and the intelligence around their policy of regime change in Iraq. This time, the movement lied, Syrians died as anti-war activists went into overdrive to spin the facts and intelligence coming out of Syria in 2013 to fit the Iraq template of 2003. U.S. politician Dennis Kucinich even recapitulated in his own way Donald Rumsfeld’s infamous handshake with the Butcher of Baghdad as he was gassing Kurds and Iranians by having friendly sit down with Bashar al-Assad in the middle of his killing fields.

The movement to stop U.S. military action failed in 2003 and succeeded in 2013. In both cases, the result was needless bloodshed and brutality borne by people far from our shores.

No "more" bombs...the ones from Russia and Iran dropped by Assad's army can keep coming though... there are terrorists, you know.

No “more” bombs…the ones from Russia and Iran dropped by Assad’s army can keep coming though… there are terrorists, you know.

RE: Stop the War in Syria

Hello Antiwar Activist,

How are you? It’s been 2 and half years. I’ve missed you. I hope all is well. Thank you for writing back. Yes you’re right, we have to stop this war!

I am glad you are here now. We can use your help. You are against war, right? So you must really care about the Syrian people and want to help save them from the tragedies they have endured for far too long. Let me catch you up to speed so you can join the effort to help end this war.

The media is telling us that the West is about to attack Syria. You seem concerned. Just a heads up, Israel attacked Syria a month ago. The West attacked Mali last year, Libya the year before that, and continues to use drones worldwide every day. I didn’t hear from you then so you probably just didn’t get the memo. The war isn’t just about to start. It’s actually been going on for 2 and half years. 100,000 people are dead. 1 out of every three people is displaced. 1 out of every 3 people needs humanitarian assistance. The medical system has collapsed. And third of the country is in rubble because conventional weapons are being used indiscriminately every day.

So, the West is about to attack. We don’t want foreign military intervention right? Oh but Iranian and Lebanese forces have been there for some time now fighting with The Government’s army, and along with Russia have been arming them with sophisticated weapons. I guess that doesn’t count as foreign because those are not western countries. Israel attacked Syria a few times too but they are not Western so let’s forget about that too.

What’s important now is to stop the West. They’re always looking to start wars. They are the bad guy. So that means Syria must be the good guy. Oh you don’t know much about them. Let me fill you in. There is a dictatorship there. It’s been about 40 years. It comes with all the stuff you expect from good guys, no freedom of expression, no democracy, gross human rights violations, political prisoners, and complete theft of the economy. In fact one guy owns 60% of the entire Syrian economy! Hmm, let me see what else. Oh yeah they were responsible for the killing of an entire city of Hama killing over 20,000 people in 1982 and are a designated a state sponsor of terrorism since 1979. And in case you forgot they attacked, kidnapped, tortured, and killed peaceful protesters for the first 6 months of the conflict while people asked for their basic rights and freedoms. Most recently chemical attacks were used against people while they slept killing over a thousand men, women, and children. In case you were wondering, Syria has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world.

But they are not the bad guys, right? It’s more important to stop the West because they cause collateral damage. Never mind the existing collateral damage caused by The Government that has reduced a third of the country to rubble and killed tens of thousands in the process. No need to protest against the daily indiscriminate missile strikes being used by Syria’s military because the 3 days of missile strikes by the West will be much worse for the people of Syria.

I mean who does the West think its fooling? After their claims about Iraq, who can believe them? There is no proof that a war exists in Syria and that The Government is responsible for anything. Maybe we should check with someone else who we can really trust. Let’s see what AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, UN-OCHA, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS, AND REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS have to say. What? You’re kidding me? There actually IS a war going on and The Government IS responsible for the vast majority of crimes against humanity. You mean they have been using tanks, airplanes, helicopters and snipers indiscriminately against the population? You know, I don’t think I have heard you mention this war. Maybe you believe that war is only bad when other countries get involved, and that it is not a war when the government attacks its own people?

Let us be clear. When you say stop the war, you don’t just mean that West should not attack? You also mean that The Government should stop indiscriminately attacking its own population? I don’t think those countless reliable sources are wrong when they have repeatedly documented that a war has been going on, that The Government is largely responsible, and that this is not acceptable? You are against war, right? Or maybe it’s okay if the war is just inside the country itself? I mean the government’s crimes against humanity are needed because their enemy is foreign jihads who eat human hearts. That’s the real bad guy. Oh didn’t you know? The foreign jihadis have always been there. They have been there for 40 years so that’s why it was okay to have a dictatorship that trampled people’s freedom for decades. They were there during the peaceful protests, that’s why The Government had to attack and kill peaceful protestors for 6 months. And they are everywhere now. No Syrian has ever picked up a gun to defend himself after seeing his wife raped, his children slaughtered, and his home razed. The 100 000 people killed and 6 million people displaced are all foreign jihadis.

Don’t you know that dictatorship, oppression, waging war, and committing crimes against humanity does not cause a local population to resist? This is all just one big conspiracy by the West. Syrians don’t have a problem from 40 years of oppression. The scenes of millions of people across the entire country protesting peacefully for the human rights were all faked. And if they weren’t, well they must have been orchestrated by the West. I mean any human rights activist can tell you how easy it is to mobilize nationwide protests in the millions for 6 months. Even in the face of torture and death, they continued to protest because the West wanted them to. It had nothing to do with any internal desire for their own basic rights. We all know how easy it is to brainwash millions of people to go in the street and protest day after day when you’re facing possible death.

I mean in the end, it’s the people you care about right? That’s why you don’t want the West to attack. Protesting against a limited Western attack will help the people much more protesting against a war that has destroyed the country for 2 and half years, calling for more help in the largest humanitarian operation in the history of the UN, or demanding our governments do something, anything REAL to stop the bloodshed. Protesting against a limited Western attack will help the people by stopping the war all together. That’s what you really care about after all, the people. It has nothing to do with protesting yet another American foreign attack. You are there to protest because you truly care about the people.

Hmmm but where have you been. I haven’t seen you protesting and lobbying your government to increase humanitarian aid to the people of Syria. You do know it’s the largest humanitarian disaster of the century? That there are over 7 million people who need humanitarian assistance? I haven’t seen you asking for more pressure on the Syrian government to stop attacking civilians indiscriminately. You do know not a single UN Security Council on Syria has been passed?

Well you are here now. Nice to have you. I hope I can count on you to help the people of Syria. We need all the help we can get. We need to stop this war. We need to help the people. Let us stand together in solidarity and call for an end to the war in Syria. Let us stand together and demand protection and aid for the people of Syria. That’s why we are here right. It’s not just about stopping a small scale limited Western military intervention. It’s about ENDING THE WAR! It’s about helping the people of Syria. We are activists for a reason, right? Stopping wars is not our end goal, it’s just a means to saving our fellow man from oppression.

I have been here for some time now. I am exhausted. It’s nice to have you next to me. This war will likely not end anytime soon. I hope you will stay for the long haul.

Thank you,
A Human rights Activist

Italian protest (No War = Pro Assad)

Italian protest (No War = Pro Assad)

by Fouad Roueiha, translated by Mary Rizzo
On the pages of Facebook, we find ourselves often reading the analysis on the situation in Syria. The writers want to appear that they have at heart freedom, justice, peace. Here a post that passes itself off as No-War but instead is something different and sinister. In this case the author is the “foreign policy” voice of Rifondazione Comunista, an Italian “armchair and cocktail party left party”. Thank goodness there are people that are able to answer in a correct manner, in this case Fouad Roueiha, an Italian-Syrian.

The Post: FA writes: “Here we go again.  Imperialism has found and presented to the world the casus belli to justify a new aggression. We are dealing with a curious case of self-fulfilling expectations.  Obama has been talking about chemical  weapons for months.  It is likely that the same were used to justify the war against Iraq. The  Syrian civil war is full of horrors, like every civil war. To feed into that there has been the contribution of many, among them, precisely the usa, gb and france, together with their allies of the oil monarchies, that fund and train the rebels, avoiding any kind of  political solution. In Syria there is a proxy war between powers, regional and international, that  are destabilising the entire area, as the recent attacks in Lebanon show.  We are opposed to any aggression by the united states, nato, gb  or france against Syria. Italy better say out of this umpteenth  neo-colonial adventure.”

The Response: Fouad Roueiha You have left us alone, in silence, when inspired by the shout of freedom of our brothers, also our voices filled the streets and our only weapons were hope, dignity and desire for democracy. Our chants for democracy, for unity and for non-violence filled the spaces of our squares that saw history be born, while the ancient pavements of our streets were coloured with our blood. For 6 months no one responded to he provocations, to the fierce repression, to the siege of entire towns deprived of water and electricity in the middle of the summer heat. Then, when the cheeks to turn simply were no more, when our freedom fighters (like yours did) ascended on the mountains risking not only their lives but also those of the their loved ones, then you have condemned us. When we were under overpowering superiority of hostile fire, fed by the men, arms and fuel of Iran, Russia, Lebanon, Iraq and even Europe, you did not lift a finger to hinder this flow of death towards our land, clearly those forces are the Empire of Good. But if crushed by lead, explosives and MiGs of The Good, our freedom fighters have accepted the (anything but disinterested) help of the antagonists of the Empire that pleases you, finally able to give substance to the defamatory accusations that since the first hour you have directed towards us. And don’t show me maps and statistics, analysis and numbers, those work well ” in society”, in your posh meeting places, but not for those who have heard the words and the chants of those who have taken to the streets… now isn’t that odd, in Syria the children do not ask themselves which international power benefits the most from their protests; they come down to the streets for their right to a future, to have the dignity of choosing their own destiny, to demand democracy, slogans that i recall having heard in many other places, even right next to yours in Piazza San Giovanni (traditional meeting place for the Italian left protests and meetings, translator’s note) or under Montecitorio (seat of the Italian Parliament), although Italy seems like a paradise of democracy compared with our land.

Syria protesters in Baba Amr (Pro-freedom = Anti-Assad)

Syria protesters in Baba Amr (Pro-freedom = Anti-Assad)

Calm down “comrades”, the States (that Italy welcomes with open arms, when the nazi-fascists raped the lands) will not come simply because is not their interest therefore without too much effort you will obtain the result wished by “peaceful” Fabio… but the 1500 dead of Ghouta, that must be added to 100,000 lives broken from Assad and companions, are not a casus belli, but a disgrace for humanity and for you particularly, you that love to pose as champions of the oppressed and of the have-nots but you are deaf if the enemy of those oppressed is not that “traditional” one, if what happens does not answer to your narrative of the world.

Dear lazy or know-it-all judges of other people’s history, do us a favour if you can: do not come to cry over our children, do not shed a tear at the funeral of our nation, you are not invited. 

p. s.

A special thanks to all those who (how it always happens in these occasions), in response to what I have written and from on high of their knowledge of my person, of my land, of the realpolitik and of the international geopolitics,  want to define me as a rat, jihadist, throat-cutter, spy on the mossad payroll… your contribution will be really precious.

No-War? Non proprio!

Ecco sulle pagine FB, ci troviamo spesso degli analisi sulla situazione in Siria. Devono sembrare che chi li scrive ha a cuore la libertà, la giustizia, la pace. Ecco un post che si spaccia per No-War ma invece è qualcosa di diverso e di sinistro. Menomale che ci sono persone che riescono a rispondere in modo corretto.

Il Post: FA “Ci risiamo. L’imperialismo ha trovato e presentato al mondo il casus belli per giustificare una nuova aggressione. Si tratta di un curioso caso di aspettative auto realizzatesi. Obama è da mesi che parla di armi chimiche. É probabile che siano le stesse usate per giustificare la guerra all’irak. La guerra civile siriana è piena di orrori, come ogni guerra civile. Ad alimentarla hanno contribuito in molti, fra cui proprio usa, gb e francia, insieme ai loro alleati delle petromonarchie, che finanziano e addestrano i ribelli, evitando qualsiasi soluzione politica. In Siria si sta combattendo una guerra per procura fra potenze, regionali e internazionali, che sta destabilizzando tutta l’area, come dimostrano i recenti attentati in Libano. Noi siamo contrari a qualsiasi aggressione da parte di usa, nato gb o francia contro la Siria. l’Italia stia fuori da questa ennesima avventura neocoloniale.”

La Risposta: Fouad Roueiha Ci avete lasciati soli, nel silenzio, quando ispirati dal grido di libertà dei nostri fratelli anche le nostre voci hanno riempito le strade e le nostre uniche armi erano speranza, dignità e voglia di democrazia. I nostri canti per la democrazia, per l’unità e la non-violenza hanno riempito l’aere delle nostre piazze che hanno visto nascere la storia, mentre i selciati antichi si tingevano del nostro sangue. Per 6 mesi nessuno ha risposto alle provocazioni, alla feroce repressione, all’assedio di intere città private d’acqua ed elettricità in piena estate. Quando poi sono finite le guance da porgere, quando i nostri partigiani (come fecero i vostri) salirono sulle montagne rischiando non solo le loro vite ma anche quelle dei loro cari, allora ci avete condannato. Quando eravamo sotto la soverchiante superiorità del fuoco nemico, alimentato dalle uomini, armi e carburanti di Iran, Russia, Libano, Iraq e persino dell’ Europa voi non avete mosso un dito per impedire il flusso di morte verso la nostra terra, evidentemente quello è l’Impero del Bene. Ma se schiacciati dal piombo, l’esplosivo ed i mig del Bene i nostri partigiani hanno accettato il (tutt’altro che disinteressato) aiuto degli antagonisti dell’Impero che piace a voi, finalmente avete potuto dar sostanza alle infamanti accuse che fin dalla prima ora ci avete rivolto. E non mostratemi cartine e statistiche, analisi e numeri, quelli van bene “in società”, nei vostri salottini, ma non per chi ha sentito le parole e le voci di chi è sceso in piazza… pensate che strano, in Siria i ragazzini non si chiedono quali potenza internazionale tragga vantaggio dal loro manifestare, scendono in piazza per il loro diritto al futuro, per aver la dignità di scegliere il proprio destino, per pretendere la democrazia, slogan che mi sembra di aver sentito da tante altre parti, anche da parte vostra in Piazza San Giovanni o sotto MOntecitorio, nonostante l’Italia appaia come un paradiso di democrazia confrontata con la nostra terra.

Tranquilli “compagni”, gli States (che l’Italia accolse a braccia aperte, quando i nazi-fascisti ne violentavano le terre) non interverranno semplicemente perchè non è loro interesse quindi senza troppi sforzi otterrete il risultato auspicato da tovarish Fabio… ma i 1500 morti di Ghouta, che si aggiungono alle 100.000 vite spezzate da Assad e compagni, non sono un casus belli ma una vergogna per l’umanità e per voi in particolare, voi che amate atteggiarvi a paladini degli oppressi e degli ultimi ma siete sordi se il nemico di quegli oppressi non è quello “tradizionale”, se quel che avviene non risponde alla vostra narrazione del mondo.

Cari ignavi o saputelli giudici dell’altrui storia, fateci un favore però: non venite a piangere i nostri bambini, non versate lascrime al funerale della nostra nazione, non siete invitati.

p.s.

Un ringraziamento particolare a tutti coloro che (come avviene sempre in queste occasioni), a seguito di quanto ho scritto e dall’alto della loro conoscenza della mia persona, della mia terra, della real politic e della geopolitica internazionale vorranno definirmi ratto, jihadista, tagliagole, spia al soldo del mossad…. il vostro contributo sarà davvero prezioso.

WHEN YOU AREWRITTEN BY RUTH RIEGLER

What is it that the world doesn’t ‘get’ with Syria that leads to the continuing reluctance to unequivocally condemn and speak out against Bashar Al Assad’s regime among so many otherwise intelligent people?

The Assad regime is using warplanes, helicopter warships, tanks, Scud missiles, cluster bombs, phosphorous bombs, TNT-filled barrel bombs, rocket launchers and assorted other weapons against civilians. Over 70,000 Syrian people have been officially documented killed to date, more than 5,000 of those are children. The real death toll may be twice that and it is rising by the day. Hundreds of thousands are imprisoned, ”missing,” maimed, crippled, over four million in the country need urgent humanitarian aid, over 2.6 million are displaced, over 700,000 are refugees…the horror statistics go on and on…and the world collectively shrugs, sighs and turns away.

I realise that people have the right to say this isn’t happening. They also have the right to say that the sun doesn’t rise in the east, although repeating the latter patent falsehood at least doesn’t make them tacitly complicit in genocide, as repeating the former one does.

Of course, people have the right to believe what the Assad regime and its supporters tells them – that it is a heroic and embattled state fighting heinous and possibly fanged radical Islamists and jihadists intent on its destruction, who are part of a foreign plot by the CIA to overthrow The Only True Anti-Imperialist State In The Region.

People also have the right to believe what Israel and its supporters tell them – that it is a heroic and embattled state fighting heinous and possibly fanged radical Islamists and jihadists intent on its destruction, who are part of a foreign plot by Iran to overthrow The Only True Democracy In The Region.

Both arguments, for the Assad regime and for the zionist state, have exactly the same amount of legitimacy and merit and stand up equally well to even the briefest scrutiny or analysis, which is to say none and not at all.

People have the right to say that they wish to remain neutral on Syria. In the end, however, as Desmond Tutu wisely noted, ‘If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.’ ”Neutrality” – or simply indifference – from the outside world is what all abusive spouses, all dictators, all totalitarian regimes, all brutal and oppressive states rely on in order to continue with their brutality and oppression. Neutrality in such monstrously unjust situations is not an admirable and objective stance, but a tacit nod and wink to evil.

People have the right to suggest that maybe dictators are better for some – if they themselves are prepared to give up their own freedoms and live under dictatorship since of course they wouldn’t be hypocritical enough to wish for others what they don’t wish for themselves (perish the thought…).

People also have the right to say that Western democracy is a sham, and I would agree wholeheartedly that it could certainly be massively improved. But oddly I don’t notice the Western totalitarianism groupies actually rushing to renounce their citizenship of horrid sham democracies in favour of emigration to glorious people’s republics, or indeed campaigning for fewer rights in order to feel less oppressed by the horrors of democracy.

People have the right to say that Western leaders and governments are monstrously hypocritical, amoral and indifferent to human life, paying only lip service to the ideals of freedom and human rights while actually opposing them whenever expedient for their interests. And I would agree wholeheartedly without reservations. I’d also suggest that this is one more reason why we should not exhibit the same monstrous hypocrisy, amorality and indifference to human life – because if we pick and choose which people’s freedom and human rights to support or oppose we are no different, no less hypocritical, amoral and indifferent to human life, and certainly no better than those governments we condemn.

In the end, people have the right to say, do (or not do) and believe whatever they want, about Syria or any other issue. But that right comes with the attendant acceptance of responsibility for the results of their words, action or inaction and beliefs. The results of neutrality of indifference towards Assad’s war on Syria are tacit support for and complicity with it. The neutral and indifferent people around the world are not flying Assad’s warplanes, dropping the cluster bombs and phosphorous bombs, carrying out the rapes, torture, massacres, but their silence gives their consent for the regime to continue doing so, tipping Assad a silent nod and wink to ‘Carry On Killing.’

If a regime’s internal structure resembles that of internal colonialism, and if its actions resemble those of a foreign colonial power—bombing their own country’s cities from the air and adopting an Orientalist mindset in their dealings with their own people— then such a regime’s rule may truly be described as internal colonialism. Thus, the right of a people to resist that regime as if it were a foreign occupying power remains intact. This remains true regardless of the nature of that regime’s international foes, bad as they may be. The nature of the people’s resistance, and their rightful struggle in the face of the regime’s crimes against humanity, remains unchanged.

As for those who defend the regime, they too must shoulder some of the blame for its crimes—with all of the nonsense being peddled by some of these defenders notwithstanding. They can be said to be defending this system of internal colonialism: nothing will be powerful enough to wash their hands of this blood.

Nothing will wash away their complicity in the terrorizing of the opposition by aerial bombardment of the cities; nothing will absolve them of culpability in this harrowing moral failure. Just as was the case with those who justified colonial powers’ bombardment of cities on the grounds that terrorists were present in those cities. Keep in mind: the fascist regime we are speaking of here is bombing its own people.

To fault the people who are fighting against such an internally colonialist regime by pointing out that the regime’s decidedly evil international foes make natural allies for the opposition does not take away from the virtue and justice of the opposition’s cause; nor does pointing this out soften the blow of the regimes multiple crimes against humanity, such as the aerial bombardment of their own cities.

The resilience of the Syrian people, with such limited world support, and in the face of such aggressive bombardment—both physical and oratorical—by the regime’s proponents is without parallel in history. One would think that the regime’s supporters really were plotting and carrying out resistance operations against the Israelis when the Syrian revolution broke out. In fact, they have long become used to rhetoric: it was no different during the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. As for the regime itself, they have never managed to bomb anybody save their own people, and that with unprecedented international apathy.

The author of these words recalls well the difference between the different players here: there were some who chose to make peace with Israel, while some chose to resist. Some stood in solidarity with Gaza, while others conspired against her. Yet such stands must always be based on principle, and not subject to the whims of people who simply exploit the cause of Palestine for their own ends. Yet this same author also understands the sharp contrast between those who stand with an oppressed people as their cities are bombed from the air and those who stand by. This author will not simply abandon this very oppressed people merely because the regime’s enemies happen also to be villains.

There can be no defense for the bombing of Daryaa, and for the other towns and hamlets in the environs of Damascus. Nothing at all can wash away the crime of this months-long bombardment of Syria’s cities.

http://yallasouriya.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/azmi-bishara-official-english-page-azmi-bishara-on-3/

Beware the Gatekeepers! They want to control all discourse, especially since open discourse might reveal the facts and the ugly truth!

WRITTEN BY CHRISTINA BASEOS

+++
I left the below comment under this piece (http://www.salem-ews.com/articles/july102012/rizzo-lies-sd.php).

QUOTE
Christina Baseos July 11, 2012 7:01 am (Pacific time)

Mr. Davis, In regards to the few paragraphs mentioning my name and making reference to the R2H’s convoy and the shipping incident that took place in Libya, please note that I can prove your claims false. In light of this, the admins of this page are kindly requested to advise how I can upload a couple of pictures in the comments section. If uploading pics is not possible, please let me know and I will give you the link to an external page where you can redirect yourselves in order to see them. Thank you.
UNQUOTE

Given that I haven’t received an answer from SN’s admins, I post here my response to Mr. Davis, who, given that he’s a a ‘fan’ of this blog, will read it.
+++

Mr. Davis,

First of all, let’s make clear that we do not know each other. We have never met and none of us have the slightest idea on each other’s existence. Just as I know nothing about you, you know nothing about me as well. For the purposes of this comment and just for the sake of good order, please note that I’m a shipping professional (and not a lawyer as falsely claimed by Ms. Merton in one of the below pictures). Moreover, please note that, unlike the hundreds of people who posted & commented back in 2010 about the R2H shipping incident in Libya, I was the only one (except for the infamous “Gaza 10” of course) who was there, on board the vessel, together with Ken O’ Keefe and the rest of the 9 members of the convoy and their Greek lawyers and all involved authorities. I was also there when the “Gaza 10” were arrested on the ship, brought to the port authorities and then to the court house.

Ken O’ Keefe and myself talked while they were all on the ship and I also talked to other members of the convoy, as well as to their lawyers. I believe Ken O’ Keefe will have no objection whatsoever to confirming the above, should you feel the need to cross-check this.

The reason I’m stating that I was there is in order to clarify that I don’t talk on behalf of anyone else, except for myself, and I certainly do not rely on third parties’ words, in order to take a position on this issue.

Having said this, let me cut to the chase, but before I do, note that I will not respond para by para to your ‘analysis’ of the alleged kidnapping incident in relation to Mary Rizzo’s article. I will though make an effort to explain some things, for the umpteenth time, which they should make you reconsider your stance on this, if you are indeed objective as you say and if you indeed base your thesis on facts & proof.

1) You claim that I was rightfully blocked by the R2H Facebook page due to my “repeated comments”, which as per your own admittance you only “assume” that they were “repeated” and that it would have been better if I had just left a post and left. Moreover, you claim that you “would have travelled half-way across the world to sue if not strangle someone who would have eased my concern only to find my loved one dead from a shipping incident”.

Since you “assume” that I repeated the same comments over & over and that they were annoying or misleading or false or whatever it is you’re insinuating, I refer you to the below 2 screenshots. One is a PM exchanged between the sister of one of the convoy’s members on board the ship, and myself. As you can see yourself, according to a FAMILY MEMBER, the info I left on R2H’s FB page was indeed relieving to the families and most importantly accurate, since according to that family member the info I posted were confirmed to her by the Foreign Affairs. Just for the record, I’m telling you that this family member did indeed call me the day she sent me the PM and I indeed handed my phone to her brother in order for them to speak.
(N.B. The last name of this lady, as well as the tel numbers shown in this PM, have been erased on purpose and substituted with “xxx” for privacy reasons).

private exchange between CB and sister of one of the persons on ship with Ken O’Keefe

In regards to repeating comments over & over again and that being somehow an abuse of ‘freedom of speech’, I will only ask you to have a look at the screenshot concerning Ms. Ellie Merton (R2H’s official liaison at that time), where she posted 10 times in less than 2 minutes the same comment (simply by copy/pasting it), falsely claiming that I am a “legal counsel”, which is not true as I have no relation to the legal profession whatsoever and this can be verified by anyone on this planet, and asking people not to liaise with me as I am ‘dangerous’. I will not comment on the second part of her post and if I’m dangerous or not, as Ken O’ Keefe and the rest of the convoy members can tell you directly if any of them were directly or indirectly endangered by me. As far as it concerns the first part of Ms. Merton’s repetitive post, please tell me Mr. Davis, given that you are a man of facts and proof, since I am not a legal counsel, how would you call Ms. Merton’s claim? Does it fall within the defamatory/libel category according to your criteria?

Ellie Merton posting repeat “warnings” containing untrue information

2) The so called “pre-contract” saga: What Mary Rizzo calls “pre-contract” is what is officially called in shipping a “firm offer”, which just for your guidance is an offer a shipowner makes to the potential charterer of the vessel (charterer in shipping = client in commercial business), which basically includes the freight the shipowner is asking for in order to execute a voyage, i.e. the carriage of a cargo between two destinations. A firm offer, except for the freight, includes a number of other terms & conditions, which are negotiated between the shipowner and the charterer and IF the two parties come to an agreement, then the fixture (as it’s called in shipping) is deemed concluded and a Charter Party (charter party in shipping = contract in commercial business) is then drafted and signed by both parties. In a few words, the ‘pre-offer’ was the shipowner’s firm offer. Note above that I said that a C/P (stands for Charter Party) is signed after the negotiating parties have reached an agreement. In the case of R2H, the charterer and the shipowner never reached an agreement, therefore all negotiations were dropped and eventually there was no fixture.

There are trails of exchanged messages between the shipowner, the charterer and their broker, which clearly show that the negotiations failed and that there was no agreement. Ken O’Keefe (and Ellie Merton) have a copy of these exchanged messages and it is THIS copy Ken O’Keefe sent to Mary Rizzo and he falsely named it as “contract”. Note, that it can only be the exact same copy of messages that was sent to Mary Rizzo by myself, as there were no other existing documents concerning the charter that could be sent, only it was named correctly by myself as “exchanged messages” and not “contract”, since it was not a contract.

At some point in your text, you write:

“…without giving any notice of if the agreement that Ken and his crew believed they had would be honored”.

Note the word you used: “BELIEVED”, i.e. the agreement Ken O’ Keefe thought he had. If he was so sure that there was an agreement and moreover if there was a breach of this agreement from the shipowner’s side, why do you insert the word “believed”? Mr. Davis, have you seen any of the proof you claim that Mary Rizzo doesn’t have in her hands, not to mention that according to you they are totally non-existent? Have you seen any document, whatever that is, with your own eyes? If you haven’t, then I suggest you check your facts first before you make any comments and if you have, then I suggest you read carefully the contents of these documents and make sure to consult a shipping professional to explain to you the process of a shipping negotiation, the meaning of a firm offer and a C/P.

3) A few words on your comments about the NATO’s involvement (or to be more specific, the non–involvement), your example of a taxi driver (although, thankfully, you admit yourself that this analogy is different by a few standards), the “international incident” and your comments about my ‘credentials’.

Ken O’Keefe admitted that he commandeered a ship’s radio and contacted a neighboring vessel seeking for help/intervention. For the sake of clarity, the vessel he contacted was a commercial one (a ship belonging to OOCL’s fleet) and not a NATO vessel. He also admitted that he made a distress call. I suggest you find out yourself the meaning & essence of a “distress call” in shipping. Anyhow, as we all saw from O’ Keefe’s own video, he sought help from a neighboring vessel claiming that he and another 9 persons were being kidnapped. FYI and because I suspect you once again have no proof of what you are claiming, all communications between the commercial ship of OCCL, which was the recipient of the distress call, with all relevant port authorities as well as the SRCC of the Greek Ministry of Maritime Affairs are recorded. Copies of the recordings are available upon request made to the relevant authorities. I presume, and I emphasize on the word presume, as I do not have firm knowledge on this, that the ‘Gaza 10’ lawyer has already obtained a copy of those recordings for the purposes of supporting their case in court. Since Ken O’ Keefe inadvertently (NOT), left out from his video the response he got from the OOCL ship, maybe you should check for yourself what it was and rest assured all your questions on why NATO wasn’t involved will be answered.

Nice try with your taxi-driver example although when you attempt to make an analogy, you should first make sure that the standards are the same. Your example is wrong by default and I will not explain why here, in the comments section of a webpage, as this would require speedy lessons on shipping and I’m not willing to give such lessons in the internet and especially not for free! I would advise you, if I’m allowed, to learn some basic shipping principles first, as well as shipping law, in depth instead of copying/pasting articles of the penal code from sources irrelevant to shipping and more importantly from irrelevant jurisdictions.

With regards to whether this incident was an “international” one and whether it almost lead to a diplomatic fallout between the involved countries, please note that Mary Rizzo, myself and I presume (again….I presume) the ‘Gaza 10’ lawyer have in our hands a document addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, marked as “Confidential and Urgent” and issued by the Maltese authorities (you might ask why the Maltese? Because the ship’s flies the Maltese flag, ergo it falls under the Maltese jurisdiction…please feel free do your research on the relationship between a ship’s flag and her jurisdiction or alternatively ask Ken O’ Keefe, who according to him is a Captain himself, therefore he should have knowledge on this), where it clearly describes all efforts made by the authorities of the Maltese, Libyan and Greek Authorities in order for a diplomatic fallout between the governments of those countries not to occur. Just for the sake of good order, Mary Rizzo was requested by me to not publish this document, as it is a confidential one, however just as the shipowner’s lawyers have it in their hands, I assume the lawyer of the ‘Gaza 10’ has it as well.

Lastly, as far as it concerns my ‘credentials’, to the best of my knowledge you Mr. Davis never asked me for them, however they are not secret. And since you wonder if Mary Rizzo sought my credentials before she,as you claim, almost entirely based her whole article on my report, I hereby inform you that she did ask for them and she did cross-check them well in advance. As far as I’m concerned, Mary Rizzo did show due diligence with regards to my credentials, in stark contrast with you, which you never did.

To conclude this long comment, I kindly request you Mr. Davis to check your facts first and have proof of your claims before you start analyzing cases, at least when they are related to shipping. Actions speak louder than words, therefore I would expect from someone who claims that he’s all about facts, proof and objectiveness to practice what he preaches.

As I said in the beginning of this comment, you Mr. Davis do not know me, just as I don’t know you; therefore you have no right to question my credibility, credentials and whatever else you question, without having firm knowledge of the actual facts and evidence of your claims. It is a paradox for someone who accuses a journalist for not having checked her facts or gathered evidence to support her writings, to question the credibility of another person, without having showed his own due diligence first.

There are numerous other inaccuracies in your statements above, with regards to R2H fiasco, but as I said, I will not respond to each & every one of them as it is of no merit and since all of them have already been addressed in the past and are posted in public fora. With regards to the rest of your piece, I have not read it as I’m in no way the right person to comment on any part of it, as I don’t have knowledge of the actual facts. The impression I have is that all this is an orchestrated attempt (if not a campaign) to discredit Mary Rizzo, in every way, on behalf of Ken O’ Keefe. I can’t help but wonder why you Mr. Davis are discrediting one person with such passion? I wonder if this orchestrated attempt is an effort to form a negative public opinion about Mary Rizzo a priori to some “big event”? Perhaps, Mr. O’ Keefe is planning his big come back to Gaza and deems necessary to prepare the ground in case Mary Rizzo dares to criticize again any of his future actions? But as I said, this is just an impression I have, in no way am I claiming that I’m right in my assumption…….

You wrote that Mary Rizzo deserves any character assassination results and you also advise her to learn what ‘character’ is.

Ken O Keefe is a great guy in my opinion. You and Kim were wrong to believe anyone is blindly following him. Thus you martyred him and now the truth is out and you all deserve whatever character assassination results. It is called responsibility.

Well, according to the Collins English Dictionary, ‘character assassination is the act of deliberately attempting to destroy a person’s reputation by defamatory remarks” and at when it comes to the R2H fiasco, your claims, comments, statements, etc are not only false but also defamatory as you don’t provide proof of your claims. I must admit though that it must have taken you some courage to admit publicly that you indeed exercise character assassination. Remember, Mr Davis, ‘Verba volant, scripta manent’.


And if that applies for Mary Rizzo, then it applies for you as well. Elbert Hubbard said that
Character is the result of two things: mental attitude and the way we spend our time”. Judging from the length of your piece, it’s crystal clear how you spend your time…as for the mental attitude, I’ll refrain myself from saying more in an attempt to keep things civilized.

Not only on FB, but FB makes it easy to avoid facts and hype rhetorical good and bad deeds

Here we go again, just when one thinks that the insanity of the personalisation of the PALESTINIAN CAUSE is finally running its course, long, long overdue, I add… I find that a blog called Shoah.org that purports to be very popular and pro-Palestinian, though featuring almost no Palestinians at all among those it publishes, has decided that acceptable content is bizarre personal vendettas becoming “our business and thus THEIR business”. The blog looks actually scarily similar to the National Inquirer. I have not had much opportunity to see the site in the past, but having seen the recent “popular” post I do worry about the state of activism and mostly, for what concerns this site, wonder if it is competing in the stakes of activism tabloids.

Happily being able to ignore the big flame wars between activists has been a wonderful luxury. I feel that most of these activists and campaigners are strictly relevant to themselves and basically just bringing grist to their own publicity mills, since they turn out to be little more than a few men glorifying their egos and repeating ad nauseam in public articles and posts their own self-worth and assuming the baton will be carried by others repeating the mantra that “if you are not with this (or that) “known” activist, you are a Zionist! You are a proven AGENT!”  But it’s easy and desirable to disengage with this lot, since when asked over and over to prove the claims made against those who dare criticise them, they never do provide any proof of it besides comical ones that they invent themselves. Agents certainly DO exist, but to call anyone an agent is dangerous and no intelligent person will accept that without evidence. It certainly does speak volumes that this claim is made so very often and at the flip of a hat, but rarely is there anything to support it, thus it is empty of meaning. It is quite clear by now that it’s more productive to ignore this lot, because it serves no purpose to engage in time-wasting battles that no one but the men involved and their “followers” (yes, their own way of referring to those who engage in battles on behalf of them or even anyone who they are “friends” with) care about.

Yet, again, I find my name brought up in one of these smear campaigns, and despite my reticence to waste more time on issues that do not interest me because they are so far removed from Palestine, this time I will respond, because the level of smearing (not only of me, but of a plethora of people, in fact ANYONE who points out a criticism of the “author” of a piece vying for the most insane bit of using the Palestinian cause to settle a personal vendetta to date) simply calls for it being exposed for what it is. The rhetoric used in these endless smear campaigns waged by a specific faction most definitely falls into what has been defined by as “Extremist Traits” by an analyst of the rhetoric and propaganda of several hundred militant “fringe” political and social groups across the political spectrum. Militant and “fringe” are not derogatory terms, they present the positioning of a cause as to how it fits into the mainstream or dominant framework of political or social opinion.  As such, I will address the issue and in those very terms. Extremist, however, is the style of the behaviour, and it certainly can be considered as being derogatory as it depends upon manipulation.

Following even a bad example is the way that social pressure groups work when thinking for oneself is not encouraged

I am being referred to in comments on the “popular” post, which is very little else but a character assassination based on the personal feud someone has with the subject, I have seen probably the worst displays by “activists” available, even vying with some of the most absurd smear posts on Facebook, attempting to create a sort of mobbing and consensus as to the character of a person who shares one thing in common with me, and that is that she does not think Ken O’Keefe is such hot shit as he claims, but who actually has a big difference with me in that she once actually supported him and then changed her mind, without any solicitation from me, but independently and of her own freewill (and this shared view regarding Ken O’Keefe creates in the minds of the Ken O’Keefe Fans the automatism that this person and I are affiliated.) Besides the point being that this entire thing is nonsensical, especially as Siraj Davis (the author of the piece) is a legend in his mind alone, having claimed that I was posting things to him, totally debunked and with MY screenshots to demonstrate it, the issue of Ken O’Keefe being the pillar of activism is entirely outdated and misleading. (At the bottom of this post, 4 screenshots concerning Siraj Davis, his unsolicited harassment of me and my response to it, as well as evidence of some bizarre stalking-like behaviour in my regards and his own uncontrollable addiction to pornography, which he also has used the Shoah org blog to promote these screenshots he himself made showing his “particular tastes in that regard).

It is clear and acceptable that there are many, particularly from the ranks of O’Keefe’s former “most dedicated followers” who no longer see him as relevant enough to form the dividing line between supporters of the struggle and its opponents. Indeed, the moment they so much as voice a criticism of him, they are accused of being paid agents or somesuch. His former “spokesperson” who had publicly stated that he had hijacked a vessel, despite having claimed the opposite a few months earlier, also quite publicly, was accused by him of being an MI6 agent, and those who had most vocally defended him (by attacking those who criticise him) have been dragged over the coals, one by one and there are dozens of such examples, should anyone care to look.

For a site to facilitate this and allow the use of a space ostensibly for the Palestinian struggle to attack someone to settle a personal issue he has with someone – and without a real argument or substantial proof to boot – is the blog’s own business, but it has damaged any reputation the blog might have had as being about the Palestinian issue. Again the Palestinians are caught in the middle of some activists who are NOT Palestinian to settle their own disputes. They are used as an excuse to create a consensus surrounding someone that is not natural. Actually, Palestinians stay out of the discourse for the most part, seeing it as a distraction and an abuse of their cause. But then again, what a blog puts up is its own business. I really don’t care that much what these blogs and sites say when they are either hagiography or smears. They truly cease to hold any interest for me, and I would not be surprised if I were not alone in this assessment. Yet, again I am dragged into the smear campaigns because I have not bent to the mobbing. It would not be appropriate for me to feed this campaign, and yet, since I will be accused of not being able to support my point of view, I for the last time will refer those interested to the factual events, and they can be their own best judge of the righteousness of certain persons and of the wrongfulness of the smear campaigns, especially when they are jumping the back of the Palestinian cause to justify their wrongdoing.

I am addressing something I would prefer to ignore given my lack of interest in the persons involved, as it is clear that I do not really care about the lies and the capacity to engage in such character assassination and abuse of the cause by these subjects whose ethics and integrity (as well as mere accountability) are filled with quite a large number of gaping holes. It is generally preferable to allow those engaging in these attacks to their own devices, since it will become clear over time that they are lacking in accountability and that they invent things as they see fitting, avoiding truthfulness when they feel it suits their ends. It is evident that I have taken my position based on facts and evidence, and it is likewise evident that people are free to judge as they see fit based on the available facts. I have not attempted to influence or win over anyone. Like all I have written, it stands on its own and people are free to judge with their own minds. I do not live on internet as many of the other activists seem to do, and I do not need to convince anyone at all of the logic of my argument. If people are convinced, they have reached this awareness not by my insistence, but upon their own judgement.

As I have written, The Truth Sunk during the Road to Hope Fiasco (https://wewritewhatwelike.com/2011/06/14/truth-justice-and-peace-nearly-sunk-as-rth-convoy-facts-emerge-and-as-usual-gazans-get-the-worst-part-of-the-deal/), and caused a big mess in the meantime. No one was obligated to “follow me” as I have no followers, nor do I want them. If people are going to take a position, however, they are advised to be informed of the facts, as objectively as possible, this is itself a bare essential for TRUTH.  As Ken had refused to even be interviewed once it was clear that the article was not going to become his personal Tazibao, but all parties were going to be interviewed and all of their statements both in a public domain and those they had made in interactions with me (as declared openly and correctly that I was going to examine the evidence and write up an assessment of it) and all documents were going to be taken into consideration, not only his personal testimony and the information given by those who got it from him. Upon learning that other parties, including those who both at the time and subsequently, would be listened to and that he would not be given a list of the questions prior to the agreement to be interviewed (a condition no other parties had placed before me, all of them willing to subject themselves to “the investigation” without demanding any particular benefits or any right to view the material during its assembly and prior to publication). Ken demanded special treatment, and he wanted to control an independent observer. If he was unable to control her, he changed his tactic that she was an enemy to the cause since he believes he alone represents the cause! When the outcome did not please him, he conveniently forgot that he had the same exact opportunity to reply to questions and to express himself as all the other involved parties. Instead, he decided that it was in his best interests to “ignore” what was written, advising his “followers” to not read the (admittedly) long article complete with photos, documents, communications between the authorities and others, direct quotes taken from press releases and from communications in the public domain. His “followers” were advised to engage instead in smear campaigns against me and to use almost all of the techniques that have been pointed out so well by Laird Wilcox in his seminal study of “Extremist Traits” https://wewritewhatwelike.com/2012/06/25/laird-wilcox-on-extremist-traits/ reprinted here with definitions that come painfully close to the entire modus operandi of this faction. Most glaring was the tendency to engage in Inadequate Proof For Assertions. I was labelled as a CIA or Mossad Agent, as being a paid infiltrate, as being an Israeli and much more besides with some at times hilarious “proof” by the Ken O’Keefe minions.

However, the one thing lacking was even ONE serious attempt to provide evidence to confute the thesis of the failed Road To Hope convoy, that it was managed in a bizarre way at least from the “leadership change” and the outcome of this were false claims of being kidnapped in order to attempt to create confusion, consensus and mostly to elicit donations and support from those who were already fully determined to support Palestine – allowing the cause to morph into Supporting Ken O’Keefe.

None of them were able to confute, and Ken in primis, the lack of a contract, which was the crucial circumstance upon which all else depends in that most bizarre of events! In fact, what is most clear throughout the entire debacle is that Ken was indeed somehow convinced of the veracity of a fact that was patently false, so convinced that he himself sent me what he labelled as “The Contract”, when it was clear as the light of day that this was not a contract at all, and it was merely a pre-Contract negotiation, which by its very nature is non-binding until the stipulation of what instead IS a contract! When I pointed out that I was aware it was not a contract, it dawned upon him that he had to turn me into the adversary since his entire story had no backbone to sustain it.

That a contract was broken and the counter-party scooted off with the loot to his Israeli masters is the first of the bizarre stretching of truth, this accessory big fish story of the captain being really on the Mossad payroll and jumping off his own ship with the wad of money itself was quite hilarious and indeed worrying when spread as if it were fact the same way old gossips do, when the facts are brought to the fore instead of just one extremely false claim. I was already watching the playing out of the events, called as I was by other concerned activists to ensure the safe passage of the chartered convoy when trouble first started, in an ad hoc group I was invited to, and kicked out of when I asked that we seek confirmation of any claim being made prior to disseminating what could later be demonstrated as dangerous false rumours and nothing more.

It was when I was invited by persons whose loved ones were on the convoy and who found them stranded in Libya without any more resources that I began collecting evidence in earnest from all parties involved, deciding to not further participate in the public debate, but to merely collect the evidence. Why did these people ask me? Because for a long time I have been involved in the activism for Palestine camp and it was and still is clear that my only loyalties are to Palestinians. I am not, nor have I ever been beholden to anyone. I have been and remain thoroughly independent and am influenced merely by facts. It was this objectivity that was considered as being the best guarantee of a faithful assessment of the reality, as there was all of a sudden a complete shift from the convoy being about the entire convoy and instead being about Ken O’Keefe and those who were most loyal to him. It was indeed logical that others who had different priorities, and for this reason did they agree to sacrifice their own time, money and effort in order to participate in a long and trouble-ridden land convoy, would seek to know the truth and would be asking that a third party that had nothing but a solid record of support of the Palestinian cause to attempt to clarify all the hazy and contradictory points.

Ken O’Keefe making “distress calls” to the NATO for a kidnapping that never was, but you weren’t supposed to challenge that or wonder what good that does the Palestinians

It was the research that convinced me of the correctness of the thesis that things were NOT as they were being presented to the activists, and that the conflicting reports coming from Libya were proof enough that there was indeed a serious conflict between “factions”. Why did Ken O’Keefe claim there was going to be a “confrontation on the Egyptian border” when there had not been any arrangements for a land transit anyway and this would be detrimental in the extremely precarious situation of those in Libya without the proper paperwork and without adequate economic support? Why would he claim that he and 9 others were being kidnapped and some people spread this without it being verified? Why would it be taken as fact that this vessel had taken people against their will off the coast of Libya? Why would Ken O’Keefe engage in actions with the intent of involving NATO and the Libyan armed forces as well? Would this not endanger any future convoys to Palestine and would it not cast a very dark shadow over the efforts made to break the siege which did not resort to such reckless measures? Would not the abuse of trust that ensued be disastrous for further (more well planned and feasible) interventions? Since I presented the evidence that Ken O’Keefe did not get “kidnapped” off the Libyan coast and instead had unlawfully boarded a vessel he had no right to board and analysing as well the knee-jerk response to his “appeals” that were not backed up by facts and were instead abusing the trust of many sincerely caring individuals who were involved both in the convoy itself and those following it at a distance, I became the target of a huge smear campaign.

But I was the first of many. It seems that instead of presenting a stitch of evidence to dispute the claims, the issue has become that I am an “irrational Ken Hater, fuelled by my jealousy of him”. I could not even bother to engage with this level of discourse, though the great number of comments on this blog (https://wewritewhatwelike.com/2011/08/05/the-171-comments-to-the-ken-okeefe-rth-fiasco-reprinted-from-ptt/) attest to the fact that there was indeed some discussion of the facts, but never by the minions of the “Ken Followers”. It was instead just one smear campaign after another waged by them, and at a certain point, valuing my time more than needlessly “debating” people who do not know how to debate and would not be interested in it anyway, I simply began ignoring whatever it is they do or say, and focussing on the Arab and Palestinian freedom causes, which has always been my priority. I find the whole “cult” quite comical and at some level am certain that sooner or later they will self-destruct because their major enemies are those who had turned on Ken after having felt that they had been taken advantage of by him and who have opinions of him that do not match the “godlike” one that he and his cult have built around him.

It is very interesting that the way to address any human being who dares to have decided that Ken is not worth their support and they will not only not “follow” him, but they will avoid him, are subject to a more or less organised smear campaign. It is quite alarming that this has got to do with the issue of Palestine, because each and every one of these “tendencies” have been utilised in the “war” Ken has with anyone who does not think he is so “godlike”
1. CHARACTER ASSASSINATION.

Extremists often attack the character of an opponent rather than deal with the facts or issues raised. They will question motives, qualifications, past associations, alleged values, personality, looks, mental health, and so on as a diversion from the issues under consideration. Some of these matters are not entirely irrelevant, but they should not serve to avoid the real issues.

Extremists object strenuously when this is done to them, of course!

2. NAME-CALLING AND LABELING.

3. IRRESPONSIBLE SWEEPING GENERALIZATIONS.

4. INADEQUATE PROOF FOR ASSERTIONS.

5. ADVOCACY OF DOUBLE STANDARDS.

6. TENDENCY TO VIEW THEIR OPPONENTS AND CRITICS AS ESSENTIALLY EVIL.

7. MANICHAEAN WORLDVIEW.

8. ADVOCACY OF SOME DEGREE OF CENSORSHIP OR REPRESSION OF THEIR OPPONENTS AND/OR CRITICS.

9. TEND TO IDENTIFY THEMSELVES IN TERMS OF WHO THEIR ENEMIES ARE: WHOM THEY

HATE AND WHO HATES THEM.

10. TENDENCY TOWARD ARGUMENT BY INTIMIDATION.

11. USE OF SLOGANS, BUZZWORDS, AND THOUGHT-STOPPING CLICHES.

12. ASSUMPTION OF MORAL OR OTHER SUPERIORITY OVER OTHERS.

13. DOOMSDAY THINKING.

14. BELIEF THAT IT’S OKAY TO DO BAD THINGS IN THE SERVICE OF A “GOOD” CAUSE.

15. EMPHASIS ON EMOTIONAL RESPONSES AND, CORRESPONDINGLY, LESS IMPORTANCE ATTACHED TO REASONING AND LOGICAL ANALYSIS.

16. HYPERSENSITIVITY AND VIGILANCE.

17. USE OF SUPERNATURAL RATIONALE FOR BELIEFS AND ACTIONS.

18. PROBLEMS TOLERATING AMBIGUITY AND UNCERTAINTY.

19. INCLINATION TOWARD “GROUPTHINK.”

20. TENDENCY TO PERSONALIZE HOSTILITY.

21. EXTREMISTS OFTEN FEEL THAT THE SYSTEM IS NO GOOD UNLESS THEY WIN.

Since my name has been brought up countless times by a specific group of persons who do very little else but engage in their facebook wars and online smearfests, rather than debate and discuss pertinent issues, I feel it is simply par for the course to consider the “source” of this new and most ridiculous round of the eternal war of Ken Supporters against the world as being a tabloid.

I do not feel I need to be “bullied” into participating in this juvenile “debate”, as it is clear that the editor of said site uses zero responsibility in allowing the same author to participate using at least a dozen screen names in order to be abusive to any commenter that bothered to criticise both the form and the content of said article and further commentary by Siraj Davis, and while doing it is unable to even remotely respond to the major questions about the ethical qualities of the author, as evidenced in his own screenshots which are a catalogue of his weird porno fetishes in addition to being simply too ridiculous to take into consideration by any serious person that this issue of his private war with two persons (extended to include others not even related to them, myself included). I certainly do not need to “debate” about Ken O’Keefe, as all are free to read whatever is available for reading and make up their own minds regarding the issue.

I consider my time too valuable to engage further with a group of persons I, in a moment of generosity, consider to be nothing more than clowns and self-deluded extremists.

my first contact with Siraj Davis pt 1

part 2 Siraj Davis

siraj 3

Note well the name in the search, the tab including a Tony Greenstein smear piece on me and mostly, the many open tabs of pornography, which he published far and wide on his FB page and a public site for maximum dissemination.

We Want A Free Syria / Vogliamo la Siria Libera. Syrian Italians, Syrians and Italians together in the struggle for freedom. Italo-siriani, siriani ed italiani insieme nella lotta per la libertà.

A group of Syrian Italians, joined by Syrians and by Italian sympathisers for the cause of a Syria free of the dictatorial and brutal rule of the Assad regime has been communicating (and often organising actions) together in a group that meets under “Vogliamo la Siria Libera” (We Want Syria to be Free) and other internet groups. Mirco Tau asked a simple question to everyone, “Why are you against the regime?” and the answer of some of the members follows (in English and Italian).

Why we are against the regime 

* I am against this regime for the simple fact that after 40 years it has reduced the country to their own family farm where they think they are able to do things any way that suits them, depriving everyone else of their citizenship rights. I am against this regime because it’s been able to take the smiles away from children. -FS

* I am against the regime because any regime that uses violence against dissent is a sick regime. The dimensions and the tenacity of the dissent is the proof that there is no conspiracy directed by foreign agents or secret powers. It is a revolution of the people for their most basic rights. -MR

* I am against the regime for the simple reason that it is killing children, women, young people and elderly people in a systematic way, with no regard at all for human rights, the internal or international public opinion, as it lies until the bitter end, accusing the entire world of making a coalition against it with the lie of a conspiracy… It is a regime that for over 40 years has considered Syria and the Syrians as private property to manage in a personal way, subjugating civil living to the fear and terror of the secret services that control everything in the country, even personal relationships such as marriage! It is a regime that took power with blood and for 40 years has hidden behind false elections where systematically there was a 99.9% victory of false consent. A regime that has managed to weave ambiguous relationships with the rest of the Arab world and beyond… blackmailing its allies as it wishes and managing its dirty business without anyone being able to raise their voice against it… such a Nazi-Fascist regime of the sort should not exist in this day and age!  -MGN

* In addition to the violence, rape, repression, corruption, deaths… I am against the regime because a mother has been deprived of her own son for over 35 years, because he was exiled in Italy without permission to return to his homeland, for the sole reason that it is supposed that he is against the regime, a supposition that has broken up a family, caused litres of tears to run from the eyes of my grandmother and made my father live alone, alone without his parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends from his childhood. Alone with no one to give him comfort or help when he was in need, because only your family truly understands you and helps you in the darkest moments. Now I listen to my father (a severe and upright man) speak on the phone with a broken and trembling voice to his mother of 95, who now no longer hears or recognises anyone, repeating in the sweetest way, “mamma, do you remember me? I am your son. O mamma, forgive me and be proud of me, mamma, don’t cry and you will see that one day we will see one another again.” And she cries saying, “in paradise, my son. We’ll see each other in paradise if God so wills it.” This breaks my heart, to hear those words, but as long as I live, I will fight against this regime. -GZ

ان تطلق النار على مسلح فهذا مبرر. ان تطلق النار على مدني، فهذه جريمة. أما أن تطلق النار على المستشفيات * فهذه نازية وفاشية

Faisal Kassem wrote: I could accept the fact that you shoot at an armed revolutionary, but to shoot at a civilian is a crime and to bomb hospitals is nothing but Nazism and Fascism. -MT

* The Syrian regime has been compared to a mafia regime, but I think it is light years away from that, the mafia avoids killing women and children while the Syrian regime uses such atrocities to bring fear to the men. THERE IS NOTHING MORE DESPICABLE THAN THIS! Not even in the history books have I ever read about a regime that is comparable to the Syrian one. -IS

* I am against the regime because I am tired of hearing promises and speeches by the corrupt authorities, while they are shamelessly talking about fighting corruption. I am against the regime because I don’t want any Syrian citizen to spend his life in prison, to die from torture or to leave prison in a state of madness only because he has expressed his opinion. I am against the regime because I don’t want to see children scrounging through trash dumpsters only to find the remains of our meals, surrounded by the atrocious odour of a country where wealth is robbed every day by those who should be governing. I am against the regime because I don’t want the dream of young Syrians become exile and not travel. How sad it makes me to read in the local papers about their success in the lands of their diaspora, with the indication (of Syrian origins) only because their country gives them no possibility of expressing their talents. I am against the regime because I don’t want the young people of my nation to spend their lives studying and then leaving their degree in a drawer to go in search of a job (labourer, builder, taxi driver), while as time goes by they forget all that they have learned. I am against the regime because I want to see the plates on the scales of justice be in balance, I want to see the sick enter in the hospitals, not in slaughterhouses, because I want to see a profound reform of the system of instruction, police, the military and all the national institutions. I am against the regime because it taught us its slogans since we were children and they remained only slogans. I am against the regime because I don’t know who represents the people; I have recently discovered that one of the men in power is Mansour and I discovered it only because those who accompany him violently attacked a child, ruining his face only for a verbal discussion the child had with is youngest son. I am against the regime because it gets its help from evil persons only to protect its interests. I am against the regime because it invokes democracy, but it sets its militia against every individual who is asking for freedom. I am against the regime because I am tired of recognising the individual errors that have caused thousands of martyrs. I am against the regime because it says it fights against armed gangs and its death squads (Shabbiha) bring arms and use them brazenly against the protesters. I am against the regime because it invokes reforms and at the same time raises the rank of its corrupt affiliates and protects those who are responsible for the massacre of so many innocents. I am against the regime because it talks about conspiracies against it, as if it were doing its duty towards its people. Lastly, I am against the regime, I am against the opposition, I am against every drop of blood that a Syrian citizen shed, whatever his opinion may be. I am with the free Syrian people. -HD

* I am against the regime because its folly is not killing only the Syrian people, but it is trampling over the rights of all of humanity, and it has no pity, no mercy for anyone… There is a document that is essential as an ideal for all people to aspire to from every nation: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the preamble it is written: “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge… for this reason I believe that the Syrian people are struggling not only for themselves but for the whole of humanity. May Allah grant them victory. – JL

* I am against the regime because I am a TRUE ANTI-FASCIST and this regime is a NAZI regime.- PP

* I am against the regime, but I have used all the words I have to express the rage I feel for the atrocities it is committing, and I am finished with all the words to express the offence regarding a world (other regimes) that in part are looking silently at the massacre, and in part is unrepentant and unpunished while they feed the bloody regime. The words are ending, but there is still Faith, and it is Faith alone that sustains me against this regime outside every “human” logic. InshAllah the change is coming soon. -TI

* I principally am against the violence and it is clear that I also must say that to make the hostilities in Syria end, a No Fly Zone is needed. Don’t call me a warmonger because I still believe that diplomacy has to be used if there are intermediaries who are able to bring that ahead and who can at the same time assure that in the meantime, all violence ceases. -AC

* Before the March 2011 revolution.

I am an Italian journalist and I have always been against the Assad regime. I have always been against the regime because every regime wants to have total control of persons and I am a free woman, I would never renounce my independence and dignity.

I have always been against the regime because it incarnates the opposite of all the values in which I believe.

I have always been against the regime because human life is sacred, and the Assad’s for 40 years, have killed women, children, the young and the old.

I have always been against the regime because the regime whoever brings its armoured tanks into the cities and shells unarmed civilians is nothing but a criminal.

I have always been against the regime because the practice of censorship negates the freedom of the word, of thought, of opinion.

After the Revolt for Dignity

I am against the regime because it is true that I am Italian, but my blood is Syrian.

I am against the regime because I have never seen my land of origin and for thirty years, could not even talk about it.

I am against the regime because I saw the Syrian border from afar, but I could not go near it.

I am against the regime because that day I felt alone in the world, without roots, without a place to call home.

I am against the regime because it robbed me of my identity.

I am against the regime because it impeded me from living a great love story, the love of one’s homeland…

I am against the regime because every time that a new martyr falls a part of me dies.

I am against the regime because for every child that cries or who shakes in fear, my heart breaks.

I am against the regime because I never have forgotten the massacre of Hama and I will never forget the massacres of Homs.

I am against the regime because I am Syrian. I am a free Syrian and I would die to defend my country. -AD

* I am against the regime because I am the son of a dissenter, brother of a martyr, cousin of two martyrs, I am a dissenter until victory. -MT

* I am against the regime because I am against every form of dictatorship, especially if it is a dictatorship tolerated by powers that take advantage of it when they could make it go down in a week. I am against the regime because I believe in the human rights that you can recognise on the streets, not in the conventions and treaties signed during gala dinners and aperitifs by people who give to themselves from these achievements, which are often completely unknown by the true subjects. I am against the regime because one cannot allow that innocents live a life of terror or that they don’t live at all only because fate made them be born in that place. I am against (all) the dictatorial regimes because there are people who continue to negate the evidence with empty rhetoric and propaganda and because there are other superficial and a-critical people who continue, incredibly, to believe them.  -MMB

perché siamo contro il regime

* Sono contro questo regime per il semplice fatto che dopo 40 anni ha ridotto il paese ad una loro fattoria familiare dove credono di potere fare e disfare come vogliono loro privando tutti dei loro diritti di cittadinanza. Sono contro questo regime perchè è riuscito a togliere il sorriso dal volto dei bimbi. -FS

* Sono contro il regime perché qualsiasi regime che utilizza la violenza contro il dissenso è un regime malato. Le dimensioni e la tenacia del dissenso è la prova che non è un complotto da registi stranieri o poteri forti. E’ un rivoluzione del popolo per i loro più basilari diritti -MR

* Sono contro il regime per il semplice motivo che sta uccidendo bambini,donne ,giovani ed anziani in modo sistematico fregandosene dei diritti umani,dell’opinione pubblica interna ed internazionale ,mentendo fino alla fine accusando l’intero mondo di coalizzarsi contro di lui con la menzogna del complotto……un regime che da più di 40 anni considera la Siria e i siriani una sua proprietà da gestire come meglio crede soggiogando la vita civile alla paura e al terrore dei servizi segreti che nel paese controllano tutto anche i rapporti personali come il matrimonio! Un regime che ha preso il potere con il sangue e che per 40 anni si è nascosto dietro a delle false elezioni dove vinceva sistematicamente con il 99.9 % di falsi consensi, un regime che è riuscito a tessere dei rapporti ambigui con il resto del mondo arabo e non …..ricattando i suoi alleati a suo piacimento e gestendo i suoi loschi affari senza che nessuno abbia mai alzato la voce…………un regime del genere nazi-fascista,oggi non deve esistere più! –MGN

* Oltre per le violenze, stupri, repressione,corruzione, morti,… io sono contro il regime perchè una madre è stata privata di suo figlio per oltre 35 anni, pechè esiliato in Italia senza il permesso di tornare nella sua terra natia, per il solo fatto che si suppone che sia contro il regime, una supposizione che ha spezzato una famiglia, fatto versare litri di lacrime a mia nonna e fatto vivere mio padre solo, solo senza genitori, fratelli, parenti e gli amici dell’infanzia, solo senza qualcuno che potesse dargli conforto e aiuto quando ne aveva bisogno, perchè solo la tua famiglia ti capisce veramente e aiuta nei momenti più difficili. Ora sento mio padre (uomo fermo e severo) parlare a telefono con voce spezzata e tremolante con sua madre di 95 anni, che ormai non sente e riconosce più nessuno, che le ripete in modo dolce «mamma mi riconosci? sono tuo figlio, o mamma perdonami e sii orgogliosa di me, mamma non piangere vedrai che ci rivedremo» e lei piangendo gli dice «nel paradiso figliolo, nel paradiso ci rivedermo se Dio vuole» mi si spezza il cuore sentire quelle parole ma io finche vivrò lotterò contro questo regime. -GZ

ان تطلق النار على مسلح فهذا مبرر. ان تطلق النار على مدني، فهذه جريمة. أما أن تطلق النار على المستشفيات * فهذه نازية وفاشية

faisal kassem ha scritto: potrei accettare il fatto che tu spari a un rivoluzionario armato ,ma sparare a un civile e un crimine e bombardare gli ospedali non e altro che nazismo e fascismo -MT

* Si era paragonato il regima siriano ad una regime mafioso,ma invece e’ lontano anni luce ,la mafia evita di uccidere bambini e le donne mentre il regime siriano usa tale atrocita’ per spaventare gli uomini PIU’ INFAMI DI COSI’ NON ESISTE !neanche nei libri di storia non ho mai letto di un regime paragonabile a quello siriano… -IS

* Prima della rivolta

Sono contro il regime perché mi sono stancato di ascoltare promesse e discorsi da parte delle autorità corrotte, mentre parlano spudoratamente di lotta alla corruzione. Sono contro il regime perché non voglio che nessun cittadino siriano passi la vita in prigione, muoia a causa della tortura o esca di prigione ormai senza senno solo perché ha espresso una sua opinione. Sono contro il regime perché non voglio vedere bambini rovistare nei cassonetti e mangiare gli avanzi dei nostri pasti circondati da un odore atroce in un Paese dove la ricchezza viene ogni giorno rubata da chi dovrebbe governare. Sono contro il regime perché non voglio che il sogno dei giovani siriani diventi l’emigrazione e non il viaggio. Così come mi rattrista leggere sui giornali locali dei loro successi nelle terre della diaspora, con l’indicazione (siriano d’origine) solo perché nel loro Paese non trovano possibilità di esprimere le proprie capacità. Sono contro il regime perché non voglio che i giovani della mia Nazione passino la vita a studiare per poi lasciare la laurea in un cassetto e andare in giro a cercare un lavoro (operaio, muratore, tassista), mentre l’avanzare del tempo fa dimenticare loro ciò che hanno imparato. Sono contro il regime perché voglio vedere le braccia della bilancia della giustizia equipararsi, voglio vedere i malati entrare in ospedale, non in macelli, perché voglio vedere una riforma profonda del sistema d’istruzione, di polizia, dell’esercito e di tutte le istituzioni nazionali. Sono contro il regime perché il regime ci ha insegnato i suoi slogan da quando eravamo piccoli e sono rimasti solo slogan. Sono contro il regime perché non so chi rappresenta il popolo; ho scoperto di recente che uno degli uomini al potere è Mansour e l’ho scoperto solo perché i suoi accompagnatori hanno deturpato il viso di un bambino per un diverbio a scuola con il minore dei suoi figli.

Dopo la rivolta

Sono contro il regime perché si fa aiutare da persone infami per tutelare i suoi interessi.

Sono contro il regime perché invoca la democrazia, ma scatena il suo esercito contro ogni individuo che chiede libertà. Sono contro il regime perché mi sono stancato di riconoscere gli errori individuali che hanno causato migliaia di martiri. Sono contro il regime perché dice di lottare contro bande armate e i suoi squadroni della morte (shabbiha) portano e usano spudoratamente le armi contro i manifestanti. Sono contro il regime perché invoca riforme e allo stesso tempo eleva di grado i suoi affiliati corrotti e protegge i responsabili del massacro di tanti innocenti. Sono contro il regime perché parla di complotto ai suoi danni, come se intanto stesse facendo il suo dovere nei confronti del suo popolo.

Infine

Sono contro il regime

Sono contro l’opposizione

Sono contro ogni goccia di sangue che versa un cittadino siriano, qualunque sia la sua opinione

Sono con popolo siriano libero. -HD

* Sono contro il regime perchè la sua follia non uccide soltanto il popolo siriano ma calpesta i diritti dell’ intera umanità, e non si pente di nulla, non ha pietà per nessuno…… C’ è un documento che è essenziale come ideale da raggiungere da tutti i popoli e da tutte le Nazioni: La Dichiarazione Universale dei Diritti dell’Uomo. Nel preambolo c’è scritto: ” Considerato che il riconoscimento della dignità inerente a tutti i membri della famiglia umana e dei loro diritti, uguali ed inalienabili, costituisce il fondamento della libertà, della giustizia e della pace nel mondo;

Considerato che il disconoscimento e il disprezzo dei diritti dell’uomo hanno portato ad atti di barbarie che offendono la coscienza dell’umanità, e che l’avvento di un mondo in cui gli esseri umani godono della libertà di parola e di credo e della libertà dal timore e dal bisogno è stato proclamato come la più alta aspirazione dell’uomo;

Considerato che è indispensabile che i diritti dell’uomo siano protetti da norme giuridiche, se si vuole evitare che l’uomo sia costretto a ricorrere, come ultima istanza, alla ribellione contro la tirannia e l’oppressione;

Considerato che è indispensabile promuovere lo sviluppo dei rapporti amichevoli tra le Nazioni;

Considerato che i popoli delle Nazioni Unite hanno riaffermato nello Statuto la loro fede nei diritti fondamentali dell’uomo, nella dignità e nel valore della persona umana, nell’eguaglianza dei diritti dell’uomo e della donna, ed hanno deciso di promuovere il progresso sociale e un migliore tenore di vita in una maggiore libertà;

Considerato che gli Stati membri si sono impegnati a perseguire, in cooperazione con le Nazioni Unite, il rispetto e l’osservanza universale dei diritti dell’uomo e delle libertà fondamentali;

Considerato che una concezione comune di questi diritti e di queste libertà è della massima importanza per la piena realizzazione di questi impegni ……. Per questo credo che il popolo siriano stia lottando non solo per sè stesso ma per l’ intera umanità. Che Allah gli dia la vittoria.  -JL

* Sono contro il regime perchè sono un ANTIFASCISTA VERO e questo regime è NAZISTA.. -PP

* Io sono contro il regime , ma ho esaurito financo le parole per esprimere la rabbia per le atrocità che questi commette , e sto esaurendo pure le parole per esprimere lo sdegno di un mondo (altri regimi) che in parte guarda silente il massacro , e in altra parte impenitente e impunito foraggia il regime sanguinario. Le parole si stanno esaurendo , ma c’è la Fede ; ed è la Fede che mi sostiene contro questo regime fuori da ogni logica “umana”. InshAllah il cambiamento è prossimo. -TI

* Io principalmente sono contro la violenza sia chiaro pero’ devo dire che per far cessare le ostilità in Siria sarebbe necessaria una no fly zone, non datemi del guerrafondaio he pero’ credo che la diplomazia si possa usare se ci sono intermediari che riescano a portarla avanti e che si assicurino che nel frattempo cessioni le violenze. -AC

* Prima della rivolta del marzo 2011

Sono una giornalista italiana e sono contro sempre stata il regime degli Assad.
Sono sempre stata contro il regime perché ogni regime vuole avere il controllo totale delle persone e io sono una donna libera, che mai rinuncerebbe alla sua indipendenza e dignità.
Sono sempre stata contro il regime perché incarna l’opposto di tutti i valori in cui credo.
Sono sempre stata contro il regime perché la vita umana è sacra e gli assad, da 40 anni, uccidono donne, bambini, giovani, anziani.
Sono sempre stata contro il regime perché chi schiera i carro armati nelle città e spara sui civili disarmati non è che un criminale.
Sono sempre stata contro il regime perché pratica la censura e nega la libertà di parola, di espressione, di opinione.

Dopo la Rivolta della dignità

Sono contro il regime perché è vero che sono italiana, ma il mio sangue è siriano.
Sono contro il regime perché non ho mai visto la mia terra d’origine e per trent’anni non ne ho mai potuto parlare.
Sono contro il regime perché un giorno ho visto da lontano il confine siriano ma non mi sono potuta avvinare.
Sono contro il regime perché quel giorno mi sono sentita sola al mondo, senza radici, senza una casa.
Sono contro il regime perché, mi ha privato della mia identità.
Sono contro il regime perché mi ha impedito di vivere un amore grande, l’amor di patria…
Sono contro il regime perché ogni volta che cade un nuovo martire muore una parte di me.
Sono contro il regime perché per ogni bambino che piange o che trema dalla paura mi si stringe il cuore.
Sono contro il regime perché non ho mai dimenticato il massacro di Hama e mai dimenticherò il massacri di Homs.
Sono contro il regime perché sono siriana, sono una siriana libera e morirei per difendere la mia patria -AD

* sono contro il regime perché:sono figlio di un oppositore,fratello,di un martire,cugino di due martiri,sono un oppositore fino alla vittoria -MT

* Sono contro il regime perché sono contro ogni forma di dittatura,peggio se si tratta di dittature tollerate da poteri che le sfruttano quando potrebbero metterci una settimana per rovesciarle. Sono contro il regime perché credo nei diritti umani che vanno riconosciuti per le strade,non nelle convenzioni e nei trattati firmati tra convenevoli e aperitivi da gente che si bea di testi di cui i veri destinatari spesso non saranno mai neanche a conoscenza. Sono contro il regime perché non si può ammettere che innocenti vivano una vita di terrore o addirittura non vivano solo perché la sorte li ha fatti nascere in quel posto. Sono contro (tutti) i regimi dittatoriali perché c’è gente che continua a negare l’evidenza con propagande vuote e retoriche e perché c’è altra gente acritica e superficiale che continua incredibilmente a crederci. -MMB

WRITTEN BY CHRISTINA BASEOS
to all those of you who became experts overnight on Greece, this is what a Greek has to say:

I’m not going to comment or make an analysis right now on the Eurozone crisis, on whether Greece should remain in the EMU, on whether Greece taking a 2nd bailout package or on the austerity measures the Greek Parliament voted for yesterday. One doesn’t need to be Greek or even live in Greece, to be informed, to read articles, to follow politics, to investigate. We live in era that no one has the excuse of not being able to have access in information. Whoever really wants to gain knowledge on something, he just have to ask and search. In our days, a large number of people have the impression that having a computer, a mobile phone and access to the internet, makes them experts, analysts, and most importantly revolutionaries. Well, they are only armchair revolutionaries, who hide behind their computer screens and the internet’s anonymity, who by writing a famous quote on Facebook or on Twitter, think they are part of a revolution, a foreign country’s revolution at that. But there is a rough sea in their brains. Evidently they have no idea what revolution means and moreover they have no idea of the difference between revolution and vandalism and/or intentional property damage. So let’s take a very quick look at what happened last night in Athens.

– More than 150 buildings set on fire and now completely destroyed

– Historical buildings built in the 19th century completely burnt

– More than 200 shops, bookstores, coffee shops, theatres, cinemas, banks burnt

– Shops looted and completely emptied from their merchandize

– Shop-owners threatened by thieves with knives and forced to give their money in return for their lives

– Monuments, pavements, public property, cars, parks, train stations totally destroyed

– The most important: Hundreds of injuries and people taken to hospitals

I dare anyone to try and refute that all above happened last night in Athens. As from this morning Athens looks like a warzone. The damages are countless; the smell of burnt materials is everywhere, shops completely destroyed, broken glasses in every single street, broken traffic lights, broken marbles, broken cars, burnt trees, stones and dust everywhere….in one word: mayhem!

Destruction everywhere! Let’s see what Athens’ next day looks like. Private properties completely destroyed, leaving business owners without a business to run any longer, leaving shop owners without a shop, leaving hundreds of employees looking at unemployment straight to the eyes as of this morning, leaving families without income to feed their children, leaving hundreds of people not being able to rebuild their businesses and reopen their shops, leaving a city with destroyed buildings and public property and last but not least, leaving an irreplaceable gap in the city’s history, as a number of classical historical buildings, that survived two wars, were completely destroyed. And all this for what? In the name of what idea? What ideology? What value? In the name of democracy? In the name of revolution? In the name of resistance?

As a Greek, I know better than any of all those armchair revolutionaries and fake pundits, who copy/paste sonorous quotes from MLK or Che Guevara or Malcolm X that last night was not a revolution. What happened last night didn’t happen in the name of democracy. What happened yesterday was pure vandalism and criminal behavior. Two thousand hooded men, organized in smaller groups, each group with its own leader, using communication codes and pseudonyms, armed with pries, marble stones, fire extinguishers that were stolen from Athens Law School, more than 500 molotov cocktails prepared a few days ago in the premises of Athens Law School and most importantly “armed” with inexplicable anger are the ones responsible for last night’s destruction. What brave men! What spartans! What revolutionaries!

Well no! Not a single one of them who burned, looted, stole, injured, broke, threatened people’s lives is a brave man. Each and everyone of them is a coward in every sense of the word. A coward who hides his face with a hood and a mask, who has not the guts to look in the eyes the old man he threatened with a knife to take the only 5 Euros from his pocket. A coward, who needs a hood to destroy a city’s history and public & private property. A hooded coward, who has a perverted sense of democracy, freedom and revolution. A hooded coward, who doesn’t know that his idols MLK and Che never needed a hood to perform resistance and fight for people’s freedom and dignity, who didn’t need a Molotov cocktail to set ablaze innocent people’s shops and who, for God’s sake, did not purposefully block ambulances from transferring patients to a hospital. Anyone, who sits behind a computer screen, safely in their home, and who supports this kind of “revolution” is as much a criminal as those who destroyed hundreds of people’s lives yesterday.

Whoever supports this kind of destruction is as guilty as those two thousand hooded cowards. Greeks don’t need this kind of support from anyone. Greeks don’t need a lawless state that promotes violence and destruction, Greeks don’t need this perverted sense of democracy and resistance. Greeks know better than anyone what democracy is because Greeks are the ones who invented it. Greeks know how to fight and resist and will always put dignity above all else. Rest assured that not a single Greek, who has one ounce of brain, supports the hooded cowards. And if we Greeks don’t support them, then no one should. Thanks, but no thanks. They should keep the support of destruction and violence for themselves.

Protesters for Libyan freedom in London

It seems like years ago, but only a few months have gone by. The anti-imperialist world raised their virtual glasses in a united toast to the people’s revolutions. When I say this phrase, it seems I need to define every term, so bear with me. I will try to not take any concepts for granted.

The anti-imperialist world as I have come to know it is generally comprised of generally well-to-do intellectual-type folks who engage more time in discourse and social networking than they actually do in developing strategies or training individuals for a radical change in society where local (indigenous) people are their own leaders and determine for their exclusive benefit the policies and economic organisation of their own territory. They however are generally very passionate about the need to seek justice against tyrants and they believe that the people themselves want the same thing, so they do what they can (far from the places themselves) ninety-nine times out of one hundred by raising awareness through their articles, videos, comments, social network activities and fundraisers for more public events to raise awareness (and this cycle continues until it exhausts itself into the next fashionable group of unfortunate others).

With all that awareness-raising, you would be sure that by now, this formidable band of selfless virtual warriors would have convinced all of the world that there is no way on earth that the will of the people should be trampled on and that sooner rather than later, each people will achieve its own autonomy and self-reliance. These people who have concretely moved towards self-liberation might even be so inclined as to bite the hands that looks like it feeds them, if this has to happen for them to truly be free, but an anti-imperialist should never look at his or her own interests as a member of the empire who enjoys the privileges of that status, and should even tolerate great levels of aggression against the empire he calls home.

That said, when first Tunisia, then Egypt, began staging independent demos to demand change in their government systems, inspired by their sheer numbers, they seemed to be fully successful. There was bloodshed among civilians, but it ended, and this was a revolution that was almost like a dream, almost too easy and certainly so full of promise and hope. It even adopted the name that will remain with it for all time, “Arab Spring”, the long-awaited renewal of Arabhood connected to the idea of development of a new society that was going to put people before anything else. That it gained support at a global level probably was intrinsic to its success.

Protesters in Gaza

How did that happen? Well, we all know it was through mass communications, some of it entirely spontaneous between those directly involved, and some of it presented to a wider community to enlist their sympathies and support. It was the fact that the world was watching that perhaps hastened the demise of Ben Ali and Mubarak, and it could also be the fact that a barrier of fear had been broken. Make no mistake, I have been  documenting Egyptian uprisings for at least 3 years, and there are others who like me were not under the impression that Egyptians were passively accepting a lack of political expression and a worsening social crisis. Several of us had commented that it was necessary to break through the impression that Egyptians were incapable of rebellion and to show that there was the emergence of a protest movement that was non-confessional, and was tying together the idea of the rebirth of Arabhood as well as an Egyptian national identity that was as vibrant as the Egyptian people. We could have been some of the few who were not surprised by the revolution, but what did surprise us was the enablement that  this gave to nearby peoples.

Living in the European country closest to Libya and with a colonial past which as recently as 1972 has seen mass expulsions of Libyans of Italian descent, whatever happens in Libya is going to be felt directly. In the past years, hundreds of boats full of refugees have headed toward our shores,  and as has been documented thoroughly, the Libyan regime had utilised the African migrants as a playing card to obtain many things from Italy. The Africans who were brought to Libyan Migrant Detention Centres were actually imprisoned there, and the thought of dying at sea on unsafe and overcrowded ships was a risk almost all of them were desirous to take after months of torment from the military and police branches of the Libyan government. There were truckloads of them driven to the confines of the desert and left there to die, documented by Italian film crews, who were concerned about lives in the face of the “Bilateral Agreements” so that Gaddafi could keep a foothold in Italy’s economy and obtain “aid” worth billions of Euros for infrastructure (some of it I can personally testify was for bunkers), weaponry and telecommunications in exchange for a policy of limiting African immigration from Libyan shores.

Gaddafi’s racism thought it found another foothold in the sensitivities of the Italian government, and his words were carefully used to obtain what he  wanted, a combination of greed and rank racism that I witnessed few anti-imperialists getting upset about.  It deserves being read word by word:

“Europe runs the risk of turning black from illegal immigration, it could turn into Africa. We need support from the European Union to stop this army trying to get across from Libya, which is their entry point. At the moment there is a dangerous level of immigration from Africa into Europe and we don’t know what will happen. What will be the reaction of the white Christian Europeans to this mass of hungry, uneducated Africans? We don’t know if Europe will remain an advanced and cohesive continent or if it will be destroyed by this barbarian invasion. We have to imagine that this could happen but before it does we need to work together.”

Gaddafi's recent "Rome By Night" outing

Gaddafi would come to Italy, honoured by Silvio Berlusconi and the best that the Italian government had to offer by way of hospitality, in order to seal more deals and to re-establish that these two neighbours had the same interests at heart: especially a thirst for petroleum and a provider who would make sure there would be preferential treatment under certain conditions, including keeping Europe white. Berlusconi was also an honoured guest in Libya, promising billions of Euros for schools, retirement homes, infrastructure and other things. It is curious that those continually claiming Libya was fulfilling all of its people’s needs on its own seem to not question why they would need so very much Italian money to do what they claim has already been done. During these visits, our news shows were almost suffering an embarrassment at how to represent it. The feelings run deep, and we had known of the abuses that were going on in Libya. Many of us know Libyans, some of them in exile, “You mean  you can’t go back? What do you mean you can’t go back?” Others who come on scholarships and seem to never want to talk about politics either. I would joke with two friends (one in each category) and call it the Libyan black hole. However, both would easily admit that Libya could be much more than it is, if only it could have the chance for that.

So, I watched the revolutions with other anti-imperialists, and the Libyan revolution had quite a few of us excited at the first moments because  Libya is not a Middle Eastern country and it also has ambiguous and collaborative relations with the empire, and with my nation in particular. I  was naively convinced that true anti-imperialists would welcome the will of the people as sovereign and that the information constantly withheld from us regarding many human rights violations would cause one of those powerful moments of decision: supporting an action that really was going to mean conflict and risk for my own nation. As February 17th approached, (with its planned march in Benghazi of the family members of the 1,200 political prisoners of Abu Salim who had been executed by Gaddafi ) I noticed that a few would start to say it was not a real revolution because a) it was against a leader who claimed to be anti-imperialist, b) it was a tribal conflict that we should not take part in, as it would lead to division of Libya (as if they actually knew or cared!), c)the protesters had some problems that did not make them revolutionary, with the sub-groups of 1) they are seeking the restoration of the monarchy, 2) they are religious fanatics that will turn back the clock on progressive revolutions and make Libya a theocratic state. I asked them if they had the right to determine when a revolution was valid and when it was not, and I was surprised to hear that they were putting conditions on the support of a people, and didn’t they notice the people were demanding their freedom?

I started to check into all my favourite anti-imperialist sites, most of the relevant articles indicated to me by friends on Facebook, and lo and behold, most of these were articles by Westerners. If I had kept count, and I should have, I would have the evidence in front of me that out of 100 articles perhaps 3 were actually penned by Libyans. I got to wondering what was happening when I had been reading and hearing the reports from Benghazi by Mohamed Nabbous, killed by Gaddafi’s squadrons and in the many comments surrounding these interventions, and noticed the enormous gulf in what the Pundits were saying, and what Libyans were saying. It was as if there were two worlds colliding. All of these people claimed to love freedom and to want to do anything necessary to obtain it, but there was that nasty issue of Gaddafi actually threatening to exterminate those who tried. At this point, one would think that this would be enough for one to firmly side with the Libyan people and wonder what the pundits were going on about.

And, at this time, many things entered the scene, such as NATO, which all of us detest, and transitional governments and Libyan officials abandoning their leader and an upsurge in refugees flooding into Tunisia and war and death in the land that only a few weeks before was the next domino with a tyrant’s face that had to be knocked down.

We read of infiltrations of Al Qaeda, (this was what Gaddafi claimed the Thuwar (“rebels” to those who hate them and “freedom fighters” to those who love them), of deals with Empire, of CIA infiltrates and anything else that you can imagine by way of establishing that those who were commemorating the massacre of their loved ones and who were massacred while doing so were SO BAD and if we supported them, we were dupes. I guess it would take a very self-assured person to still want to see the Thuwar and indeed the people opposing Gaddafi in a decent light.

Already involved in a few discussion groups regarding the events in the region, I was invited by friends to join a few private mostly-Libyan discussion groups. I wanted to observe the discourse, and since my sympathies and antipathies were known to me, but not backed up by enough concrete information, I took it as my “personal fact finding mission” to learn as much as I could about the situation from Libyans. Indeed, the discussions in these groups are lively, and shockingly, almost everyone in the groups (which are by no means small either) has a martyr for the cause and has family living in conditions of siege. It is quite a shocker to log in and see someone receiving condolences for his father, his uncle, her brother, a daily litany of suffering and loss… And even more shocking was the coming into contact with a world I should have been more aware of, that of the acceptance of the will and wisdom of God.

Yes, religion plays a big part in many of these struggles, and while this is not a religious war, (and all Libyans practice the same religion for the most part), the element of faith and perseverance that these people surely learned from over four decades of negation of their political freedom is omnipresent. I would also peek into Pro-Gaddafi boards and oddly, there was a sort of violence and lack of humanity that were not even hidden very well. It became almost apparent to me that there was a lot more to this situation than meets the eye.

I got into discussions with American Communists (self-proclaimed, naturally) and leftists in general and when they started to stress that they didn’t like the religious symbolism that they were seeing (as if their taste was going to matter) I had to ask them why they thought they knew better than the Libyans what was best for Libyans. I was told that the Libyans would put the monarchy in. I stated that the TNC issued a statement and it was supported by those I was discussing things with, that there were to be elections and there was going to be an establishment of democracy. These AC + Leftists told me that the Libyans were dupes for the empire and religious fanatics and that if they were not working for a world revolution but for a repressive and authoritative patriarchal set-up, and thus, as AC + Leftists, the Libyans would not be worthy of obtaining their support. I thought that was some cheek. So what I decided to do was to serve as a filter, I invited Libyans to use my board to engage with these anti-imperialists, and many willingly did so. They presented the Libyan point of view, they were kind, patient and tried to explain what the situation was so that it could be understood.

I admit I was shocked at the violent verbal reactions they got. I admit it was the classic Western Pundit thing of orientalism and ignoring the voice of the common man if that common man was not “politically advanced”. It was the thing I see time and again in Palestine activism: the great Western hero (usually white, male, often Christian or Jewish) determines that he or she knows what is best and becomes the spokesman and mouthpiece for Palestinians. It is denial of Palestinian agency, but it is so common and so normal that we tend to not notice it as the alarming trend it is.

McKinney not looking too objective there.

Working for the Man

So, when Cynthia McKinney stepped onto the scene, it is as if the secret prayers of the Gaddafi supporters who also are against the Libyan people’s revolution (they want to deny it’s what it is, but they are unable to turn off our memory cells that far back) had been answered. Black, female, present in the past in brave gestures for Palestine, outspoken against the robbery of the Democratic vote in the Bush elections, pacifist and they can plug their noses on the fact that she actually might represent empire by being involved in the presidential elections as a candidate and as a Roman Catholic. She does fine to complain against NATO abuses and even their involvement, but to become the mouthpiece of Gaddafi went above and beyond the call of duty, even going so far as to follow the game plan he provided while establishing the proper narrative to put forth. She did this as well on Libyan State TV, yes, the same state TV that has been accused by Libyans as sending out calls for ethnic cleansing of the Amazigh people (a linguistic minority in Libya) and those living in cities where protesting became resistance and then revolution.

And it seems, once again, we have thousands of eyewitnesses who the anti- imperialists, Leftists, American Communists refuse to listen to or when they are given the opportunity censor them or hurl insults their way, but when an American “eyewitness” (who has been shown where the Gaddafi cronies have taken her and nowhere else) speaks, she is the one who must be listened to, because she will not change anything, because she has no loved ones there, so whatever happens is politics, because she will have her hardcore followers and for all the ones she loses, she will pick up more, sensing where the anti-imperialist (banter) winds blow, feeding the fundraising machine for awareness-raising in an endless cycle. Those who actually are Libyans are treated to the usual “shut up” that is reserved for “counter-revolutionaries”. All from the comfort of these Western Anti-Imperialist homes far away from where the blood is being shed.

So what is my final remark to anti-imperialists, that group which I had felt I had proudly belonged to for decades? Quit lecturing with such an attitude of cultural colonialism and start listening to those who are actually the directly interested party. Answer them at least once when they ask  what alternative you would have offered when it was clear that their people were being violently crushed. Realise they are not interested in anything but their own freedom, and that includes freedom from you and your ideology and platitudes that contain nothing concrete for them to use towards obtainment of their freedom. If the anti-imperialists can’t understand that, then Khalas, because shutting up is golden.