The story of Lebanon’s oldest synagogue restored to its former glory, including with the backing of Hizbollah.
The publication is progressive and proud.
It has just released its 200th edition and a number of leading leftists were asked to briefly define the “Left” in 2010 and what it means to them.
Here’s my response:
In the 21st century, I comfortably find myself on the Left and not having to belong to a political party or advocacy group. To define the “brand” seems almost futile. A great opportunity was missed after the calamitous global financial crisis, when the failure of uncontrolled capitalism was clear for all to see. Very few prominent leftists, however, appeared to articulate an alternative economic model. That was our moment and we blew it. The GFC will happen again and the same journalists and finance gurus will be shaking their heads wondering why.
One issue that the Left is increasingly embracing is the Israel/Palestine conflict. Whereas in decades past the Left may have embraced “plucky” Israel, these days Israeli apartheid is endangering the world and the Jewish state is justifiably isolated. Its legitimacy is rightly challenged. I’ve discovered that many Jews who call themselves leftists still retain an emotional bond to Israel, a moral blind-spot that can somehow defend the Israeli occupation or Israel’s right to discriminate against Arabs. The true litmus test is therefore this: do you believe in the same equal rights for all, Jew, Arab, Christian, Muslim, Bedouin or atheist? Sadly, too many Jews are still unable to positively answer this question.
The world’s most high-profile climate change sceptic is to declare that global warming is “undoubtedly one of the chief concerns facing the world today” and “a challenge humanity must confront”, in an apparent U-turn that will give a huge boost to the embattled environmental lobby.
Bjørn Lomborg, the self-styled “sceptical environmentalist” once compared to Adolf Hitler by the UN’s climate chief, is famous for attacking climate scientists, campaigners, the media and others for exaggerating the rate of global warming and its effects on humans, and the costly waste of policies to stop the problem.
But in a new book to be published next month, Lomborg will call for tens of billions of dollars a year to be invested in tackling climate change. “Investing $100bn annually would mean that we could essentially resolve the climate change problem by the end of this century,” the book concludes.
Must we suffer these tiresome articles featuring the supposedly soothing words of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad – in office illegally, by the way – talking about his “vision” for a Palestinian state by 2011?
Good luck with that, with Israeli and American aid behind you.
A fascinating and murky tale of alleged arms dealer Viktor Bout who clearly was the best friend of anybody who paid, not least the US:
Accused of a 15-year run as one of the world’s biggest arms traffickers, Viktor Bout is thought to be a consummate deal maker.
Now his future may hang on whether he can strike one last bargain: trading what American officials believe is his vast insider’s knowledge of global criminal networks in exchange for not spending the rest of his life in a federal prison.
Justice Department officials were relieved on Aug. 20 when a Thai appeals court approved the extradition of Mr. Bout (pronounced boot), a Russian, from Bangkok, where he has been incarcerated since 2008. But they are wary of declaring victory in a long diplomatic wrangle with Russia until Mr. Bout actually arrives to face charges in Manhattan, a development that could be days or weeks away.
Immersed since the early 1990s in the dark side of globalization, Mr. Bout has mastered the trade and the transport that fuel drug cartels, terrorism networks and insurgent movements from Colombia to Afghanistan, according to former officials who tracked him. And he is believed to understand the murky intersection of Russian military, intelligence and organized crime.
“I think Viktor Bout has a great deal of information that this country and other countries would like to have,” said Michael A. Braun, chief of operations at the Drug Enforcement Administration from 2005 to 2008, when the agency was engineering the sting operation that led to Mr. Bout’s arrest in Bangkok two years ago.
“It’s a question of whether he sees his wife and kid again someday, after 10 or 15 or 20 years,” said Mr. Braun, now with Spectre Group International, a private security firm. “I think there’s potential for a deal.”
Mr. Bout, who has lost about 70 pounds while imprisoned in Thailand, has shown no inclination to cooperate with investigators. In interviews, he has portrayed himself as an honest businessman who would transport whatever he was paid to carry, whether disaster relief supplies or attack helicopters. On his Web site he calls himself “a born salesman with undying love for aviation and eternal drive to succeed.”
He has labeled as “ridiculous” American charges that he agreed to sell shoulder-fired missiles to D.E.A. agents posing as members of a Colombian leftist guerrilla group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. “I have never traded in weapons,” he said in a statement released Friday. His wife, Alla, who has visited him in Bangkok with their teenage daughter, Elizabeth, has told reporters he traveled to South America “for tango lessons.”
By the mid-1990s, Mr. Bout’s growing private air force had come to the attention of Western intelligence agencies. By 2000, when Lee S. Wolosky became director for transnational threats at the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton, Mr. Bout’s web of companies was turning up in country after country, Mr. Wolosky said.
“My colleagues who worked on Africa noticed that he was popping up in each conflict they were trying to resolve: Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola,” said Mr. Wolosky, now a lawyer in New York. “He had a logistics capability that was matched by very few nations.”
Mr. Bout developed ties with such notorious figures Charles Taylor of Liberia, bedded down next to his plane in African war zones and sometimes took payment in diamonds, bringing his own gemologist to assess the stones. His arms escalated the toll of the fighting. “Wars went from machetes and antique rifles to A.K.’s with unlimited ammunition,” Mr. Farah said.
Former American officials say they worked on a plan to grab the arms dealer and deliver him to either Belgium or South Africa to face criminal charges, a procedure known as “rendition to justice.” Before they could act, the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks made Mr. Bout a lower priority.
Mr. Wolosky said he and his colleagues were astonished to learn from later news reports that Mr. Bout’s companies were used as subcontractors by the American military to deliver supplies to Iraq in 2003 and 2004, earning about $60 million, by Mr. Farah’s estimate.
“I read those reports with shock,” Mr. Wolosky said. “Personally, I attributed it to the disorder of the Iraq war effort.”
Now who could be to blame for this “mis-understanding“?
A majority of Republicans believe that President Barack Obama “sympathizes with the goals of Islamic fundamentalists who want to impose Islamic law around the world,” according to a survey released on Monday.
That figure, buried at the very end of a newly released Newsweek public opinion poll, reflects the extent to which a shocking bit of smear and misinformation has managed to become nearly commonplace within the GOP tent.
Seven years in Iraq. One million deaths. Mass destruction. US liberation:
The shell of a prison that will never be used rises from the desert on the edge of this dusty town north of Baghdad, a hulking monument to the wasted promise of America’s massive, $53-billion reconstruction effort in Iraq.
Construction began in May 2004 at a time when U.S. money was pouring into the country. It quickly ran into huge cost overruns. Violence erupted in the area, and a manager was shot dead in his office. The Iraqi government said it didn’t want or need the prison. In 2007 the project was abandoned, but only after $40 million of U.S. taxpayer money had been spent.
The prison is just one of the more vivid examples of what is likely to be “a significant legacy of waste” in the reconstruction program, said Stuart Bowen, the head of the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, which audited the project as well as many others littering the battered Iraqi landscape.
Perhaps nothing symbolizes the failure of America’s aspirations in Iraq more than the lack of electricity. Back in 2003, the newly installed U.S. occupation authority announced plans to increase Iraq’s power generation to 6,000 megawatts a day by the summer of 2004, deemed enough to give Iraqis a big boost compared with the Saddam Hussein era.
Six summers and $4.9 billion in U.S. taxpayer money later, Iraqis are sweltering in temperatures that routinely hit 120 degrees with no more than a few hours of electricity a day in most places. Domestic production has peaked at around 5,500 megawatts, public anger is growing, and demonstrations protesting the lack of power have turned violent.
Security accounted for a huge portion of the costs, said Charles Ries, who headed the economics section at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in 2007-08. He estimates that 30% of the money spent on reconstruction went toward paying foreign security contractors to guard sites and personnel, a cost that Iraqis wouldn’t have incurred.
This is as tragic as comical. When will the Zionist lobby realise that more “effective” PR isn’t the answer to their problems? Until Israel changes its behaviour, the label “apartheid state” will be an understatement:
An Australian plan to spread good news about Israel via social media will be presented at an upcoming international Jewish conference.
Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) president Robert Goot will set out the strategy blueprint to heads of Jewish communities from around the globe when the World Jewish Congress (WJC) governing board holds a two-day summit in Jerusalem from August 31.
The strategy will target younger people who get their news from blogs and popular websites, including Twitter and Facebook.
“It’s no use trying to communicate with people in forms that aren’t foremost in their minds,” Goot said.
Goot, the action plan’s principal author, told The AJN it was critical to break through to a generation that has been duped by repeated assertions that Israel is “an apartheid state”.
“It is not, but most young people, even those well disposed, would not know why it is not. They would not be familiar with what apartheid was in South Africa and how that is totally alien to Israel and even the territories.
“Young people know little of Israel’s birth and of its triumphs, such as 1967 [the Six-Day War] and Entebbe [hostage crisis], but have been fed a fairly constant diet of Israel as a pariah nation, an apartheid state, a serial human rights abuser, and the like.
“Unfortunately, young Jews are all too familiar with the accusations, but insufficiently familiar with the rebuttals.”
Describing “delegitimisation” as “a strategic threat to Israel”, he said the action plan would target boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns and aim for closer ties with churches, cultural groups, academia and the media.
Goot was asked to prepare the plan on behalf of the ECAJ, after a WJC strategic review looked into the challenges facing Israel, including “the assault on Israel’s legitimacy”.
The roof body’s leader will present the plan before some 150 Jewish community leaders.
“We’re focusing on building and strengthening alliances and coalitions we have internationally,” Goot said.
Further WJC meetings will discuss how to implement the strategy, which will also involve the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and Foreign Affairs Office.
Senior Israeli leaders will attend the conference.
Goot added that Australia’s central role in devising the strategy was “a great tribute” to the local Jewish community.
And Israel recruiting legal experts to defend Israel internationally again simply misses the point. Anger towards Israel will continue and only increase while the Jewish state believes it can act brutally against the Palestinians.
So does this mean that Britain, involved in countless covert and illegal conflicts across the world, will be dead keen to “aid” one side in a civil dispute or back militias against London’s “enemies”?
The government is to introduce a wholesale change to Britain’s overseas aid budget by demanding that projects in the developing world must make the “maximum possible contribution” to British national security, according to a leaked Whitehall paper.
Labour, which established the Department for International Development to ensure overseas projects are funded on the basis of a country’s needs, warned tonight that Britain’s aid budget was being “securitised”.
The coalition came under fire after a leaked DfID document showed that the new national security council, which oversees all aspects of foreign policy, is requiring that national security considerations are placed at the heart of aid projects.
Fox News interviews Glenn Beck about his “restoring honour” event in Washington DC over the weekend and one gains an insight into a man who truly believes that America is a country that should embrace a Christian God. Shame about those Muslims, Jews and atheists:
How does the more enlightened establishment view the Middle East and America’s role?
Robert Malley and Peter Harling write in Foreign Affairs:
In the Middle East, U.S. President Barack Obama has spent the first year and a half of his presidency seeking to undo the damage wrought by his predecessor. He has made up some ground. But given how slowly U.S. policy has shifted, his administration runs the risk of implementing ideas that might have worked if President George W. Bush had pursued them a decade ago. The region, meanwhile, will have moved on.
It is a familiar pattern. For decades, the West has been playing catch-up with a region it pictures as stagnant. Yet the Middle East evolves faster and less predictably than Western policymakers imagine. As a rule, U.S. and European governments eventually grasp their missteps, yet by the time their belated realizations typically occur, their ensuing policy adjustments end up being hopelessly out of date and ineffective.