Posts Tagged ‘Iran’


While some friends of the Jewish state are preoccupied with the possibility of a sushi shortage in Israel thanks to the disaster in Japan, Harvard’s crazed law professor Alan M. Dershowitz has more important things on his mind.

His most recent dispatch, entitled “Israel Now Has The Right To Attack Iran’s Nuclear Reactors,” begins with the assertion that “Iran’s recent attempt to ship arms to Hamas in Gaza is an act of war committed by the Iranian government against the Israeli government.”

As we well know, it is not necessary for Harvard law professors to specify that Israel has merely alleged that Iran attempted to ship arms to Hamas, or that the credibility of Israeli arms allegations has been called into question by the fact that the photographs published by the Israeli Foreign Ministry of the “weapons cache” found on board the Mavi Marmara last year ended up consisting of items like a metal pail and marbles.

It is meanwhile unclear why Dershowitz has chosen to include the word “Now” in his title, given that he immediately announces: “Nor is this the first act of war that would justify a military response by Israel under international law.” Other acts are said to include the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992: “That bombing, which was carried out by Iranian agents, constituted a direct armed attack on the state of Israel, since its embassy is part of its sovereign territory.”

Persons required to adhere to truth and logic, such as investigative historian and journalist Gareth Porter, have noted that in 1992 the Iranians clearly viewed with optimism the prospect of the resumption of transfer of nuclear technology from Argentina to Iran—thus removing the presumed motive for the attack. This suggests that the bombing may have instead been orchestrated by groups opposed to the Iranian acquisition of such technology.

Absolved of reason, Dershowitz spews on:

Two other recent events enhance Israel’s right use military means to prevent Iran from continuing to arm Israel’s enemies. The recent disaster in Japan has shown the world the extraordinary dangers posed by nuclear radiation. If anybody ever doubted the power of a dirty bomb to devastate a nation, both physically and psychologically, those doubts have been eliminated by what is now going on in Japan. If Iran were to develop nuclear weapons, the next ship destined to Gaza might contain a nuclear dirty bomb and Israel might not intercept that one. A dirty bomb detonated in tiny Israel would cause incalculable damage to civilian life.

Moreover, the recent killings in Itamar of a family including three children, demonstrate how weapons are used by Israel’s enemies against civilians in violation of the laws of war. Even babies are targeted by those armed by Iran.”

First of all, if anybody ever doubted the power of a dirty bomb to devastate a nation, both physically and psychologically, their doubts would most probably have been dispelled by events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 rather than current radiation leaks from nuclear power plants. Second of all, it would seem that civilian life currently suffers a greater threat of incalculable damage not from a hypothetical Iranian dirty bomb but rather from Israel’s sizable nuclear arsenal—not mentioned by Dershowitz—which exists in violation of the very same Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that is invoked as an excuse for attacking Iran. Lastly, the fact that Israel slaughtered 300 children in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09 indicates that those armed by the U.S. rather than by Iran are exceedingly capable of targeting babies.

After stressing the right of Israel to prevent its citizens from being murdered, our law guru concludes the following:

This is not to say that Israel should attack Iran’s nuclear reactors now. That it has the right to do so does not mean that it should not wait for a more opportune time. The law of war does not require an immediate military response to an armed attack. The nation attacked can postpone its counterattack without waiving its right.”

That the Palestinians do not enjoy the same right of response to military attack is obvious. A note to the Chinese, however: Remember that time NATO accidentally bombed your embassy in Belgrade? You can still retaliate!

And as for the United Nations, if you ever feel like attacking Israel, just invoke the 1996 bombing of your compound in Qana, or the 2006 bombing of your outpost in Khiam.

cartoon of the day

Posted: 03/03/2009 by editormary in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Click to enlarge the cartoon by Bendib.

WRITTEN BY Kourosh Ziabari 

“Journalism” is the profession of informing people; feeding them with the accurate and reliable information, making the world a better place for life and spreading the messages of peace, stability and friendship by all of the technical and professional means at one’s disposal.


The above sentences are not the captivating and mesmerizing slogans of hawkish leaders who accumulate nuclear weapons in their arsenals, enjoying the UNSC immunity and meanwhile chanting clumsily the call of peace and friendship. These are the obscured and muddled objectives of journalism which were once the ambitious aims of our ancestors.


“The duty of the journalist is to further [those] ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty.” Isn’t it inspirational and dreamlike? It isn’t a part of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but the Preamble of Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics Statement.


The very concept of journalism was once interlaced with trustworthiness, candor and sincerity. However, it was revolutionized gradually to some level that you cannot any longer separate it from black propaganda, fabrication and slander.


Last week and for the first time, I paid a memorable visit that will be recorded in the annals of my personal chronicle evermore. Although I am myself based in the northern city of Rasht and do not commute over Tehran so regularly, I made a trip to the mega-capital in order to have a meeting with the people of Tehran Times newspaper, the most prominent English language paper in Iran which is being published for 30 years ceaselessly.


Upon my arrival and after a couple of hours dashing to find the correct address of the headquarters, I finally landed up with the bureau which was located on the end of a calm and narrow alley, somewhere close to the Pakistan Embassy and the Kuwaiti Airlines Representative office in a northern district.


The newsroom was almost silent and you could not find the people scampering from this room to that corner with turmoil and noise. A monitoring agent, putting a massive earphone on his head, was responsible for taking care of the mainstreams and what they say about Iran. He was regularly switching between CNN, Al-Jazeera, BBC and CBS, sitting before an aged Pentium III desktop and pursuing the live shows and commentaries through a TV Broadcast software and his headset.


Each of the editors and reviewers possessed his/her own PC and I could behold near to 20 computer desks in a single room.


There was for the first time when I meet some people whom I can never forget; the people to whom I should pay an immense tribute and a timeless homage.


I first met a distinguished Pakistani journalist to whom I had just chatted online and talked via phone earlier. I met Mr. Gul Jammas Hussain, a esteemed editor at the Tehran Times and one of the most committed, dedicated journalists that I’ve ever seen.


His tranquil, modest demeanor was exemplary for me. His voice tone would not exceed a certain amount and his warm welcomes I can by no means forget. Seeming abundantly taciturn and reserved in speech and appearance, you should have struggled hard to elicit the flashes of his treasures of knowledge and cognition.


He was the first one who punished me overtly, and made me face the obscured realities which the compromising society was long withholding from me. Although I had made his acquaintance just a few weeks previous to our reunion, I can name him the only one who genuinely unveiled the price of humility and meekness for me, and helped me encounter the reality of unassumingness.


Aside from being a successful journalist whose articles are published in the most prestigious newspapers of Pakistan and Iran, he is now to me, an exalted mentor, educative trainer and dependable brother. It’s my duty, and will be forever, to thank him for the opportunities which he offered me.


The next figure, which I conferred with, was indescribable and unprecedented. Mr. Hamid Golpira, a senior editor at the Times and an internationally accomplished journalist. The symbolic scarf which he always ties around his neck in the sign of solidarity with the oppressed nation of Palestine would not be detached from him.


Talking to me in a charismatic and unique manner, he uttered vigorously: “Even this scarf is older than you.” And he was right; the American-Iranian Hamid was living with that historic scarf for years, shared a series of memories and anecdotes with “him”.


In Hamid, I’ll remain loyal and faithful perpetually. He knows whatever he says, and you can compile an encyclopedia of general information from the overflowing, excessive amount of data which he releases while working and speaking.


I don’t know how to describe my feelings about this respected and cherished man, who is a “human”, rather than an old-hand journalist. The image of his pale, wheaten hairs, sparse beard and matchless way of walking is incorporated in my mind and I wish I could expose myself, for endless hours, to the ocean of his knowledge and conscience.


I should not overlook Mr. Mohammad Ali Saki, another expert journalist and editor, to whom I owe the honor of becoming a contributor of Tehran Times. He gave a leg up to me, and helped me pull the string and climb. He prized his confidence and trust to me, and I hope I can respond his trust with merit and hard-work.


All of these people that I named have their own stories and anecdotes. You can figure out the most interesting and exceptional legends and tales from their lives, and the most common thing which they all share is that they are doing every kind of sacrifice to fulfill the dreams of their ancestors.


With their unpretentious yet brilliant and outstanding endeavors, Tehran Times is now standing on the pinnacle of independent media in Iran, and a wide range of international audiences count on it as their number-one source of undistorted, unbiased and impartial news not only about Iran, but on the whole international affairs.  

Although I’m not a regular contributor to Tehran Times, I honor to have friends in a media outlet where sincerity, authenticity and “humanity” is still enshrined and preserved.


WRITTEN BY M. Shahid Alam


As the United States prepares to escalate its eight-year war against the Taliban, it might be useful to weigh its chances of success.


Consider, first, the fate of three previous invasions of Afghanistan by two great European powers, Britain and Soviet Union, since the nineteenth century.


These invasions ended in defeat – for the Europeans.


The first British occupation of Kabul lasted for four years. When the British garrison retreated from Kabul in 1842, it was picked off by Ghilzai warriors as they trudged through the snow. Only one British officer, William Brydon, survived this harrowing retreat. This solitary survivor was memorialized in a haunting painting by Elizabeth Butler, titled, Remnants of an Army.


The British occupied Kabul a second time in 1878, withdrew a year later, leaving behind a British resident to keep an eye on the Afghans. They returned the same year, when their resident in Kabul was killed in an uprising. When the British withdrew in 1880, discretely, they did not insist on leaving behind a British resident.


Nearly a hundred years later, 30,000 Soviet troops, invading from the north, occupied Kabul in December 1979. In order to oppose the growing Afghan resistance, the Russians soon raised their troop strength to 100,000 but never controlled any areas beyond the limits of a few cities. With 15,000 deaths, and unable to sustain growing casualties, the Soviets retreated in February 1989.


Will the United States fare better than Britain or the Soviet Union?

In terms of logistics, British India and Soviet Union were better placed than the United States. Afghanistan was next-door neighbor to both. It is half a world away from the United States, which, as a result, depends on long rail and road transit through Pakistan to supply and re-supply its troops. Moreover, the supply routes – from Karachi to Kabul – are vulnerable to attacks by the Taliban and their allies in Pakistan.


Alternative land supply routes would have to pass through Russia or Iran. Russia might make these routes available, at a steep cost, and keep raising the cost as US troop concentration in Afghanistan rises. Dependence on the Russians may turn out to be trap. Almost certainly, the Iranians will refuse, since, to do so, would badly tarnish its image with Sunni Islam.


The Soviet and British invaders primarily had to deal with Afghan fighters. The Americans are fighting the Taliban on both sides of the Afghan border, who, besides the Pushtuns, also have help from several Jihadi groups based in Punjab and Pakistani Kashmir.


Pakistan, America’s indispensable ally in the war against the Taliban, is an unwilling partner at best; it is also unreliable. Pakistan army has been gang-pressed and bribed into fighting the Taliban, and, as a result, the war is not popular with the junior officers and soldiers. In a rising spiral, Pakistan’s war against the Taliban has provoked them to carry their war deeper into Pakistan. At some point, this could split the Pakistan army, intensify Taliban attacks on Islamabad and Lahore, or force Islamist and nationalist officers to take over and end Pakistan’s collaboration with the United States.


Under pressure, the Taliban could launch another attack inside India. After the attacks on Mumbai last November, India was threatening ‘surgical strikes’ against Pakistan, forcing Pakistan to divert its troops to the eastern front. Another Mumbai, followed by Indian surgical strikes against Pakistan, could produce consequences too horrendous to contemplate.


Are US objectives in Afghanistan so vital as to bring two nuclear powers to the brink of a war?


Iran was not much of a factor when British India and Soviet Union were fighting in Afghanistan. It is now. In Iraq, Iran favored the defeat of the Sunni insurgency once it had denied the United States a victory. In Afghanistan, Iran prefers to create a quagmire for the Americans, ensuring a long stalemate between them and the Taliban.


In light of the consequences that have flowed from the US presence in Afghanistan, who would advise an escalation? President Obama still has time to put on hold his plans to send more troops to Afghanistan. Instead, the best political minds around the world should be examining the least costly exit from a war that promises to become a quagmire, at best, and, at worst, a disaster, which no US objective in the region can justify.


Unless, dismantling the world’s only Islamicate country with the bomb is an objective worthy of such horrendous costs. 

M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University. He is author of Challenging the New Orientalism (2007). Send comments to Visit the author’s website at

cartoon of the day

Posted: 02/23/2009 by editormary in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Mr Fish. Click to enlarge.

A long time ago, I obtained a degree in Psychology. While I never pursued work in that field, and opted instead for areas giving me greater personal freedom and less risk of falling into an area where there was danger of me controlling other people, becoming a professional art restorer and professional translator and editor to make a living, I have never abandoned my interest in all psychological phenomena, particularly those of a mass nature that are more readily classified as having sociological implications. I did most of my research based on my interest in finding a theory that would “explain” the apparently contradictory urge for personal liberty (individualism) and the need for being part of a mass (the theorised Crowd Instinct) in a post-industrial world based on transportation and communication by the combination of what I considered the best out of two schools of thought, that of Elias Canetti, (Crowds and Power) and that of Guy Debord and the other Situationists. I never quite found what I was looking for, but very often, I saw the paradigms of their viewpoints on crowd dynamics, which were about the power of persuasion to people who often were convinced they were acting independently, illustrated perfectly in religious cults and political movements, two areas that continue to interest me.


When I was in University, there really weren’t many religious cults going around that I could identify clearly as such, but that energy (which Canetti and others describe as irresistible) would need to be directed someplace. Those were the days when New Age started to take a foothold in almost every place one could go. Being vegetarian, I guess I must have bumped into their world more often than most people do, as the practice of abstaining from meat is a frequent one in many New Age practices. My discount card at the vegetarian diner or food shop seemed to have put me on hundreds of mailing lists of all kinds. I resisted all the recruitment calls that were either blatant or veiled and I only took part in two events (a group hypnosis event, which I am still attempting to understand fully, and a drumming event, since I was a drummer and thought maybe I could learn something useful.) New Age carried a lot of the same features as any religious cult, such as the belief that its initiates were part of the creation of a New Society, while at the same time, increasing Personal, Individual Potential. Yet there is that little grey area that a sceptic, a rationalist such as I am would come to loggerheads with each and every time: the request to not really believe what you see and hear, but to believe in some kind of faith concept, often freely exchanged with various forms of Guruhood, hero-worship, deference to a “spiritual” or “political” head who was looking out for us, making great personal sacrifices, yet could SEE himself what we were still blinded to. Another feature is to reject facts, prior information or even information coming from other sources. In order to render this effective, you actually do need a group of people, including friends, to go along with it too. Recruitment (often for no other purpose than pure recruitment) has an element of a pyramid structure “con” to it which in today’s world of emails is a lot faster than it was in the 80s, and I would imagine, a lot more widespread. Although I do tend to believe that with the speed in which internet relationships are born and dissolved, it may not be as dangerous as it was in the past, since there is perhaps a more flippant attitude towards it. One may not even have to be a “true believer”, it’s enough to have your name added onto a “friends” list or a “mailing list” that will go into a market research kitty. In the end, gaining consensus seems to be little more than convincing someone that “everyone’s into it” so that the pinnacle of the pyramid feels himself entitled to act in the name of an enormous popular mandate. 


There is a lot of this in the Obama campaign, and myself and others far more entitled to an informed comment on it have pointed out here and elsewhere, and the macroscopic difference is, that while his hordes of adoring masses sometimes go off the deep end in idolising him, he was actually elected into office, he does have a mandate. But, this is not where I am going today. What actually started me thinking was a call from a friend of mine who is a practicing Psychologist. He asked me to lend a hand in some research regarding a certain cult that he knew I had familiarity with because our next-door neighbour was involved and had tried to recruit us both. My friend had only the sketchiest memory of the group and wanted to ask me what I remembered and could find out about the group structure and praxis, so that he could know what kind of levels of “self-surrender” his patient had been exposed to. While researching, I found some interesting things, which at some point, in another venue, I will write about, but what I found again and again were the characteristics of


1)      a group leader that had “reserved information” and “high-level contacts”. In a word: clout and prestige that the seeker would need to tap into so that he or she could be released from ignorance.

2)      a request that the seeker make some kind of commitment (economic, recruitment, active) to the purposes of the group.

3)      the insistence that the group was not an end in itself, but that there was a higher purpose that would be achieved through it, often in escatological or apocalyptical terms.

4)      slickness in the campaigning that demonstrates there is a large organisation behind it, perhaps a LOT of money, but not much disclosure of the organisation’s structure or finances. When it was disclosed, often the information could not be clearly verified and more often than not, one would find denials and contradictions with one Google search further.

5)      insistence that there were going to be great changes ahead, either personal or collective and in some cases, global. 


Now, there are many very innocent groups and organisations that may have some or all of these characteristics, but there is one constant characteristic that a legitimate group would never have, and that is the insistence that we have to “believe them” and not objective information, information obtained through personal perception or through sources that we trust. To make a fear, a projection or an illusion into a case bigger than a reality that can be objectively verified is a common trend in these groups. They want us to feel urgency, panic, outrage about the same things they do, and they present numbers, figures and projections out of all meaningful parameters. 


While trying to help my friend, I got caught up in a few quite competent Cult Watch organs, many of them doing admirable work and only to be commended. I cried while reading some of the testimonies, of how people who only sought positive things, love, knowledge, peace, were denied their liberty, mental well being and critical tools. I thought, the day freedom comes to the Palestinian people, I will direct my energies to work towards these slaves of gurus, healers and charlatans. Then, I thought, it’s probably a bigger industry than even Zionism… I think I am out of my league here! 


One thing though, that did trouble me in these forums, sites, lists, was the lack of appearance of some groups that I believe are every bit as dangerous and deluded, and I mean a category of groups that to me are on the wild side of rational thought, the Christian Zionists. I didn’t see any areas in these sites that would include this branch of cults. Christian Zionism has a few purposes, the practical one is to keep (especially US) international policy favourable to a Jewish State in Palestine, and to do this would do anything possible and imaginable so as to have leaders in office that will always have as their priority to render this scenario possible. The Christian Zionists need this for their escatological goal, the battle of Armageddon to be fought in Israel, thus saving the souls of the Christian Zionists who will be raptured. It gives me the creeps to actually write about it, to think of the implications, but all religions contain elements of a final scenario, and I suppose Christian Zionism has abandoned the principles that made Jesus Christ into a univeralist model of love and forgiveness, and instead focus in on the final countdown, where they can be protagonists in the big war. The focus of Christian Zionism has a narcissistic element, combined with the violent one, that obviously will be reflected in any campaign they do.


One group that has piqued my interest for a long time is CUFI, and I wrote about their big show “A Night to Honor Israel”. Here is another peice that shows their severe contradictions. I check them out from time to time, and this morning, I saw something that I think would be worthy of Cult watch, and that is, the campaign for a “Prayer Card for Israel”. 


To spare you having to actually give your personal information or visiting their site, I will show you the campaign. It starts out innocently enough, saying prayers for Israel (and America):

A Prayer Card to Help You Pray for Israel and America

Then click on it and you get to this page:

We Need to Pray for Israel

Your prayers are critical during these difficult times.   CUFI created a special prayer card to help you pray for Israel and the world.   

All of a sudden, America has become “the world”, but that’s just a little detail. Click further (they must get points for each click made, because you are forced to navigate for a while) and you come to the page where you request the “card”, needing to send them your name and email address. You get an email in less than a minute and you visit their site now from your email account, so they have your IP and NOW your email too. But, you are curious and you want to see this card so exclusive it has to be requested by email and you have to download a PDF, and damn the torpedoes! It hits you in the face with just that, there’s the image of a nuclear missile, a headshot of Ahmadinejad, writing in all caps: NOT ON OUR WATCH! And the tagline, Stand with one voice against the threats from Iran. Stand with Christians United for Israel 


This is the accompanying text:

Thank you downloading the prayer card to help you pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the world. You will receive a link to download your prayer in your e-mail shortly.

We want to provide this prayer card to millions of Christians around the world. We want to help every Christian pray for Israel and America.

Please help us reach millions of Christians worldwide. Please fill out the information below to send the prayer card to your family and friends.

Ah! the next step is the Pyramid one: you should send it around to friends. Hell, even your ENTIRE ADDRESS BOOK! Talk about obtaining a bunch of information for free!! Here is their text, misspellings and all – and note, the name of the text isn’t any longer “Israel prayer” but the hyperlink is “Iran prayer”, a classic bait and switch… but maybe it was about Iran the whole time?


In order to send to more than 5 friends, please enter your email to recieve a copy of this message to forward to your entire address book.



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 The threat from Iran is increasing with every day that passes.  As Iran gets steadily closer to obtaining nuclear weapons, we get that much closer to the possibility of a second Holocaust.  The risk that Israel and her six million Jews might be “wiped off the map” is too great for us to sit silently by as the world does nothing.  Now is the time to combine fervent prayer with urgent action.

We must pray that this threat to Israel and America will be removed.  Christians United for Israel has created a prayer card with scriptures to beseech our Lord to protect Israel and the world in this trying time.   


Please click below to download this prayer card.   

Please pray for Israel and America.  Please use the prayer card, and any other scriptures that are meaningful to you, to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the world.  



Israel actually has nuclear weapons. We aren’t supposed to think about that. (This follows the criteria of a cult of expecting people to not believe actual facts, but to trust the leader and to agree that his “fear” should be shared by you too). Israel has actually bombed others in the past few weeks, a fact we are also supposed to ignore. The problem is Israel’s existential threat coming from … Iran.


Well, this may be a nothing more than your average religious-political cult, but I believe that since they believe we should “pray” that this “THREAT TO ISRAEL AND AMERICA TO BE REMOVED”, convince others of this and give money, political consensus and … not a small matter … our mail contacts to them, since of course if they want to “read” the prayer, they have to fill out a form with their email address, etc., that this group may be just a bunch of Apocalyptic Messianic fanatics, they indeed should be monitored by anyone who not only sees a danger in the manipulation of facts to suit a limited and dangerous political agenda, as well as anyone who treasures privacy.


Since you’ve waited so long: here is that special prayer: