The Problematics of Selective Progressivism, and Selective Media.

[What do you call a white Republican who is against same-sex marriage? If you call them a bigot, then you’re calling 90% of Muslims bigots. While you accuse others of racism, you are actually being racist here because you’re applying different standards to different people based on their race because Islam is viewed as a “brown man’s religion”. You are not being liberal by supporting illiberal ideas coming from people from different countries, religions, and cultures.

I would ask somebody who reads Salon, if you claim to be against homophobia, like I am and many people are, you should stand against it whether it comes from the Evangelicals, the black church, or the Muslim in Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Iran. Otherwise you are the racist. If you think it’s acceptable for “other” people do it just because they’re a different race other than a “white male” then you’re not really a liberal — you don’t subscribe to the concept of equal rights and anti-racism. You’re propagating racism and you’re part of the problem….]

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Faisal Saeed Al Mutar is a secular and human rights activist who was awarded The President’s Volunteer Service Award, Gold, from the Obama Administration in 2016. He’s experienced life under Saddam Hussein and lived in Iraq during the American invasion and civil war which followed after. He escaped Iraq in 2009 after the loss of his brother, cousin, and friends to Al Qaeda. Faisal focuses on helping liberal, secular ideas and dissidents flourish in the Middle East and is currently writing his first book. He started the Global Secular Humanist Movement, and recently launched a podcast called the Grey Zone and joined the Secular Jihadists podcast.

I think many people who study liberal arts and subjects like sociology are exposed to only one type of history — which is white history and white colonialism. They’re inculcated with the idea that the Holocaust, genocide against Native Americans, and Japanese internment camps represent white people. When people are only exposed to these ideas, of one oppressor — meaning white people — what they’ll do when they hear a person criticize a foreign culture is to get immediately defensive on behalf of that culture. And they’ll do it to protect a former victim of imperialism, racism, etc. _____________________________________________________________________________________________

[But the people who are most hurt by this — by preventing this discussion — are the minorities within the minorities….

I think another problem is that people see Muslims as a minority, but they’re not a minority globally. They’re the second biggest religion in the world. The true minorities are those living within them who do not subscribe to conservative Muslim values….

I’m all for acknowledging the problem of Islamic extremism and how we should fight it. But that means you have to look for the people with good values within these communities, the individuals who subscribe to ideas of universal human rights, liberal values, and you have to stand with them. Because when you generalize, you are literally equating the fighters of the terrorists with the terrorists themselves. You’re equating the Maajid Nawazs’ of the world with Al Qaeda. That is so far from the truth. If you say that Maajid, Ali Rizvi, Sarah Haider and all of these people are as bad as ISIS, you’re literally advocating for killing us as well. If you’re saying the solution to ISIS is bombings and drone attacks and all of us are ISIS, you’re asking for us to be killed as well just because we share the same skin color and same language….

One of the things many people don’t know about Al Jazeera is that is mostly owned by the royal family of Qatar which is financed by oil and gas. It’s a company that doesn’t rely much on advertising because they have other sources of revenue.

The version I grew up with of Al Jazeera is a channel that is literally the spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood and a light version of Al Qaeda. You can see them entertaining the idea of supporting groups like Jabhat Al Nusra in Syria — which is literally Al Qaeda’s affiliate. Let’s not talk about what they think about homosexuality and Jews and their anti-semitism, because it’s bad….

But then you have Al Jazeera English speaking about Black Lives Matter, pandas, climate change, because what they’re trying to do is make Islam look as good as possible. They want to make Muslims appear victimized. And they want to make the West look as bad as possible. They show the worst that exists in the West. Flint, Michigan — they were reporting on that constantly. Standing Rock as well, you get the idea.

But you never see them criticizing Islam, Islamists, or the Muslim Brotherhood. They only show you the side of Aleppo that is controlled by Islamist and Jihadist groups. They never criticize Qatar but they criticize Saudi Arabia because they’re rivals….

This is one of the reasons why many ex-Muslims and Muslims who support ideas about liberalism and separation of Mosque and State are afraid to speak out. They know they’ll receive a huge backlash from many out there.

The biggest backlash people like me face is actually from Islamists. They think my ideas are antithetical to Islam and an enemy according to their ideology.

The far-Left, or the regressive-Left as Maajid Nawaz refers to them, believe in the narrative that to criticize Islam and even Islamism is a form of imposing your own values on them. Regressives consider values like liberalism to be Western values so they think that you are imposing the white Western values on the brown Muslim — and to them that’s terrible. They think that Islam is a brown man’s religion. Even though there are many adherents to Islam who are white, black, Bosnian, Sudanese, Chinese. So any criticism of it from a white person is a form of racism. Any criticism coming from a brown person who was adhering to that religion is the equivalent of a black person supporting white slave-owners. That’s where terms like “Uncle-Tom” and “House Muslim” come from. They think  you are trying to assist the white imperialist “agenda” against the brown victims.

On the far-Right there are strong elements of xenophobia. There are many people who adhere to the concept of white superiority — which is a bad idea — and they subscribe to this idea that there is a clash of civilizations. That there is a war between the East and the West. That’s wrong. There are many people from the East who are liberals and who adhere to universal liberal values. Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia, Ali Rizvi from Pakistan, I’m from Iraq. So there’s many people in the East who support universal human rights — sometimes more than the people in the West!]

Faisal Al Mutar on Media Bubbles, the Two Faces of Al Jazeera, and Nuance

Advertisements

The Plausible Scenario that We May be Heading to a War with Iran | … and the Significance of Israel

The mainstream media has attempted to frame Donald J. Trump’s election victory as a sort of collusion between Russia and Trump — a scheme allegedly intended to promote an American president who would do Vladimir Putin’s bidding. But the truth is that there is one other country that stands to be the prime beneficiary of Trump’s reign as president: Israel.

Under the Obama administration, the United States had a curious relationship with Israel. In 2011, Obama vetoed a U.N. Security Council Resolution that would have condemned Israel’s settlement expansion. During Obama’s tenure, Israel’s settlement population increased from 500,000 to 600,000. According to Obama’s secretary of state, John Kerry, no administration in U.S. history has done more for Israel than Obama’s did:

“Our military exercises are more advanced than ever. Our assistance for Iron Dome has saved countless Israeli lives. We have consistently supported Israel’s right to defend itself by itself, including during actions [in] Gaza that sparked great controversy.”

In 2016, Obama approved a “record” military package to Israel worth $38 billion, nullifying claims that Obama “abandoned” Israel following the decision to withhold its veto on a resolution marking Israel’s settlements illegal at the end of 2016. As noted by Kerry:

“In the midst of our own financial crisis and budget deficits, we repeatedly increased funding to support Israel. In fact, more than 1/2 of our entire global foreign military financing goes to Israel. And this fall we concluded an historic $38 billion memorandum of understanding that exceeds any military assistance package the United States has provided to any country at any time.” [emphasis added]

However, on the surface, Obama appeared to be at odds with Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over one key issue: Iran. The Iranian nuclear agreement reached in 2015 was heralded as a progressive move by some, but Israel completely rejected it and has refused to be bound by the agreement.

That being said, there is something Israel has done throughout Obama’s presidency that has barely attracted a blink from the U.N. Following the outbreak of war in Syria, Israel struck Syria multiple times (for example, during 2012201320142015, etc).

Why is this important? Because Iran and Syria are bound by a mutual defense agreement. In fact, Israel assassinated an Iranian general in Syria in 2015 with little to no outrage from the international community.

isfahan

A Brief History of U.S.-Iran Relations

Iran has been a major problem for the U.S.-Israel establishment for a long time. Iran’s defiant stance and desire to control its own oil supply in the face of U.S. hegemony has been a big issue for decades, as has its proximity to Russia and China. In 1953, the CIA overthrew Iran’s democratically elected leader, Mohammed Mossadegh, because he nationalized Iran’s oil fields. As noted by the Guardian:

“Britain, and in particular Sir Anthony Eden, the foreign secretary, regarded Mosaddeq as a serious threat to its strategic and economic interests after the Iranian leader nationalised the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, latterly known as BP. But the UK needed US support. The Eisenhower administration in Washington was easily persuaded.”

After installing a brutal U.S. dictator in the form of Shah Reza Pahlavi, the people of Iran overthrew the Shah in the 1979 revolution and rejected almost all American influence thereafter. Shortly afterward, the U.S. backed Saddam Hussein in Iraq to take out Iran in a brutal and bloody conflict that lasted close to a decade, nearly killing off an entire generation. The U.S. knew Saddam Hussein was using chemical weapons, and the U.S. also secretly armed the Iranians to maximize the death toll.

Ever since the Iran-Iraq war came to an end, crippling sanctions and saber-rattling over Iran’s alleged nuclear program have been the go-to mantra for the U.S. establishment. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney prepped the Pentagon for a war with Iran in the early 2000s, but this war never occurred — most likely due to the duo’s lack of credibility after Iraq.

It must also be stated that Iran’s alleged nuclear program has been dramatically overhyped for decades (seriously, Netanyahu was crying wolf over Iran’s program as far back as 1996.)

In 2012, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that elements within both the CIA and Mossad agreed there was insufficient proof to determine whether Iran was building a nuclear bomb, despite “throwing everything they had” at the nuclear program. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s grandiose U.N. speech in 2015 claiming Iran was moments away from making nuclear weapons was contradicted by his own intelligence agencies, who stated Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce nuclear weapons.”

Still, regime change in Iran and Syria has always been the ultimate goal of Israel, even in the face of this intelligence. In 2013, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, told the Jerusalem Post:

“The initial message about the Syrian issue was that we always wanted [President] Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.”

According to the Post, Oren said this was the case even if the other “bad guys” were affiliated to al-Qaeda.

What does this mean? Exactly what it says: Israel prefers al-Qaeda – the group allegedly responsible for 9/11 – to the current governments of Iran and Syria.

Despite multiple strikes on Iran’s closest ally — and most likely due to Obama’s perceived success in diverting a war and securing an agreement that ultimately benefitted Iran’s rivals in the form of Israel and Saudi Arabia — Obama warned Israel not to surprise him with a direct strike on Iran.

Whether Obama was being sincere or not, on the face of it, this warning was successful in tying Israel’s hands.

The Road to War

 However, Obama’s (somewhat questionable) era is over. What we have now is Theresa May as prime minister of the United Kingdom and Donald J. Trump as president of the United States.

Speaking to Republican policymakers in Philadelphia, Theresa May stated that Britain and the U.S. will no longer invade sovereign foreign nations “in an attempt to make the world in their own image.” However, May also stated that pushing back on “Iran’s aggressive efforts” to increase its “arc of influence from Tehran through to the Mediterranean” was a “priority.”

Not surprisingly, as a result of her comments and commitment to the U.S.-U.K alliance, May just secured “100% support” for NATO from President Trump.

When the U.S. and U.K talk about Iran’s aggression in its attempts to spread its influence to the Mediterranean, they are referring to a number of different things. First, bear in mind that as explained above, there is no evidence Iran is building a nuclear bomb. Secondly, according to Colin Powell’s leaked emails, Israel has a stockpile of at least 200 nuclear bombs. Iran is well aware of this, as its former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once stated: “What would we do with one, polish it?’”

Third, it is no secret that Iran’s influence is spreading from Tehran to neighboring Iraq and through to Syria and Lebanon. But this in and of itself is not a crime; building relationships with your neighbors is common sense. Iran’s support for the designated terror group Hezbollah has all but been confirmed, but bear in mind that Hezbollah is one of the ground forces currently battling ISIS – the terror group that Trump singled out as his highest priority.

Finally, Iran has been accused endlessly of backing rebels in Yemen. This rationale has been used to promote an egregious and violent war, courtesy of Saudi Arabia. However, even just this past week, U.N. experts concluded:

“The panel has not seen sufficient evidence to confirm any direct large-scale supply of arms from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, although there are indicators that anti-tank guided weapons being supplied to the Houthi or Saleh forces are of Iranian manufacture.” [emphasis added]

So, in essence, Iran is not producing nuclear weapons, nor is it backing rebels fighting on Saudi Arabia’s doorstep. This point cannot be stressed enough: despite Iran’s many warranted criticisms regarding mass executions, treatment of women and authoritarian rule, Iran is not doing any of the things the U.S. has accused it of doing as a rationale for a military strike on its people.

Recent Developments

Even so, the United States Congress is currently debating a bill that would “authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces to achieve the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.” Congress might actually pass a law that will directly allow the U.S. military to strike Iran, even before there is any evidence that they pose a threat.

In a further attempt to provoke Iran, Trump’s travel ban list includes Iran, a country whose citizens have never once attacked the United States. The list excludes Saudi Arabia, the country that produced almost all of the 9/11 hijackers. Even Forbes admitted that since 1975, no Americans have been killed in terrorist attacks in the U.S. by citizens of the countries included in the ban.

To top things off, at the end of January, the U.K. and the U.S. will take part in operation “Unified Trident,” a joint exercise in the Persian Gulf that will simulate a military confrontation with Iran.

Before taking office, Trump stated he would dismantle the nuclear agreement with Tehran. Trump’s vow to wholeheartedly support Israel raises the possibility of granting Israel the confidence to attack Iran without any prior approval, thereby forcing the U.S. to come to Israel’s aid once the fight escalates.

This implied confidence is very real. Even days before Trump’s inauguration, Israel attacked a Syrian government airport. How often can this happen before Syria and/or Iran respond directly?

In the meantime, Iran is already responding in kind to the Trump administration’s recent policy initiatives. Just this past Sunday, Iran test-fired a ballistic missile, the first known test since Trump took office. While Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated Iran would “never use ballistic missiles to attack another country,” the U.S. has already called an urgent Security Council meeting to discuss the matter. Russia said the missile test has not contravened the U.N. Resolution on the Iranian nuclear accord, signaling where Russia’s allegiance may ultimately lie.

Further, Iranian state-run news site Press TV reported that if parties to the nuclear accord refrain from honoring their commitments, Iran has warned it will resume its nuclear activities to the levels that existed before the agreement was enforced.

Most importantly, according to a report in the local English-language daily, the Financial Tribune, the Iranian government announced it is going to stop using the U.S. dollar in its official statements. There is much speculation that Iraq’s decision to drop the U.S. dollar for the Euro in 2000 prompted Bush to attack Iraq in 2003, so it would be wise to keep an eye on these developments.

According to AlterNet, Trump has assembled a team that is “obsessed with Iran.” Not surprisingly, in response to the Iranian missile launch, the Trump administration has officially put Iran “on notice.” The White House has even used the actions of the Houthi rebels in Yemen as an excuse to make sure the Iranians “[understand] we are not going to sit by and not act on their actions,” but as explained above, even the U.N. has found no evidence of direct Iranian involvement in Yemen.

Where are we headed?

A war with Iran would be the end of the world as we know it. Iran has an enormous ground force, including countless volunteer militias who are experienced in repelling invaders (as Iraq found out the hard way in the 1980s.)

Nuclear powers Russia and China have warned the U.S. countless times not to attack Iran or Syria. Russia was clearly not making idle threats, as in 2015 they put their money where their mouth was and overtly intervened in the Syrian war to defend the Syrian government against U.S.-backed mercenaries. It is not clear if Russia has the ability — or the willpower — to finance another defensive effort in support of Iran, but what Russia has been adept at, in addition to relentlessly dropping bombs, is diplomacy. Take, for example, Obama’s failure to strike Syria in 2013 in part due to Russia’s diplomatic intervention.

China, on the other hand, is less likely to attempt diplomacy with Trump. A Chinese military official has already warned that a Chinese-U.S. war is becoming a “practical reality” under President Trump, and given Trump’s hardline approach to China, it wouldn’t be a stretch to predict who China would side with in this dispute. Further, a Chinese general already previously stated that China would defend Iran even if it meant “World War III.”

Additionally, NATO member Turkey has indicated it may seek to formally align itself with Russia and China, a move that could put Turkey in direct alliance with Iran considering Iran is also looking to formally join this Eurasian alliance.

When will this madness end? In the words of Noam Chomsky, the United States has been “torturing” Iran for 60 years. The intention to take out Iran is still on the table, even with the so-called “anti-establishment” candidate in office.

Clearly, the world cannot continue down this path towards nuclear annihilation. The current industrial war machine must be dismantled.

Unsurprisingly, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, a man with vast experience in diffusing nuclear tensions, has warned that the whole world appears to be preparing for war. His message is one that the whole world needs to hear:

In [the] modern world, wars must be outlawed, because none of the global problems we are facing can be resolved by war — not poverty, nor the environment, migration, population growth, or shortages of resources.” [emphasis added]

 

 

This article (America’s Looming War with Iran: What You’re Not Being Told) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Darius Shahtahmasebi and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11 pm Eastern/8 pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, please email the error and name of the article to edits@theantimedia.org.

Towards a Post-Apartheid Palestine: Atlas of the Israeli Settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem

[…. Although we do not hear this discourse from the voice of the successive Israeli governments, I share the conviction with many other scholars and activists that the second best scenario for a Zionist agenda is to be found in the implementation of an official Palestine State “within the borders of 1967” (i.e. on two separate territories, West Bank+East Jerusalem and Gaza). Such a scenario, explicitly sought by the Palestinian Authority (as well as many Western countries that see in it the opportunity to forever ‘wash their hands’ from the Palestinian struggle) would ratify the ethnic cleansing that founded the State of Israel in 1948 and, as such, would finalize to crystallize a profound separation between the refugees and the rest of the Palestinian population (see past article for a list of additional problems). The Israeli settlements, because of their extremely difficult ousting — this is how they were built in the first place — are therefore a strong obstacle to such a scenario, hence the provoking idea to praise them. In addition to a material problem, we should have the courage of ethical consistency and thus condemn the idea of the forced displacement of a young Israeli settler population who lived their entire life in the West Bank and imagine a future where they can continue to do so….

The following Atlas is therefore less the inventory of evidences of the current state of apartheid — although it clearly shows an important part of its materialization — than a toolbox to imagine a post-apartheid Palestine scenario in which the problem/opportunity constituted by the settlement can be fully investigated.]   Read the full article here, and see the maps | THE FUNAMBULIST1 PALESTINE

United Kingdom Has Voted to Recognize Palestine as a State

Read the full article here | VICE NEWS

The United Kingdom’s Parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favor of a non-binding motion recognizing Palestine as a state alongside Israel.

The House voted by 274 MPs to 12 to adopt the motion, which called on the government to “recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel,” with an amendment adding the words “as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”

The decision will not change government policy but could have international implications. Government ministers, including Prime Minister David Cameron, abstained in the vote.

 

Under the Radar | Israeli Ship Blocked From Unloading in Oakland for Four Days

San Francisco Bay Area activists have not allowed a vessel from Israel’s largest shipping company to unload in the Oakland Port for four consecutive mornings.
Organizers had initially planned a one-day action for 16 August, delaying the weekly, Saturday-scheduled offloading of the Zim ship by just one full work day. Saturday’s success was seamless: the Zim Pireaus avoided the Oakland Port completely, preferring to remain at sea south of Oakland rather than meet the thousands of protesters who had descended onto the docks.

But, fueled off the initial triumph, activists returned to Berth 57 at the Oakland Port the next evening, on Sunday, 17 August. On Tuesday, 19 August, at 6:45am, activists declared yet another victory against the Zim Line, which has been trying to make its way into Oakland since Saturday, 16 August.

Read the full article here | The Electronic Intifada

Keith Harper on Indigenous Rights, Redskins and the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Keith Harper, a Cherokee Nation citizen, was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as the United State ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 3, 2014. Harper is the first citizen of a federally recognized tribe to reach the rank of U.S. ambassador. He arrived in Geneva a week after his Senate appointment and has been on the job non-stop since then.

HARPERSenate Confirms First Native American Ambassador | The Huffington Post

More on Keith Harper | Mission of the United States | Geneva, Switzerland

Keith Harper | Discussion with Indian Country Today

 

First Nations in Canada and Israel | Genocide and Rhetoric

Read the full article here | Global Research

[Why would Canadian Jewish leaders suddenly take such an interest in Natives and support their struggle for reparations from the Canadian government? Is it altruism, because of the Jewish tradition of being ‘a light unto peoples’? This is what CIJA (Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs) would have us believe, with its claims to “profound cultural and historical similarities”, “striving for acceptance, equal rights, rights to their own land”.

There is another, very different explanation. The Native resistance movement has continued to grow in the past half century. As Natives become more aware of their common struggle with other aboriginal peoples around the world, they are bound to identify with the Palestinians and their struggle against the colonial settlers.]