Archive for the ‘Middle East’ Category

“THERE IS NOTHING LIKE AN ISRAELI PARTY” a line noted by journalists swarming around the Israeli singer Netta Barzilai who just had won the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 in Lissabon. She won the competition with an act & song that referrred to the #MeToo movement as could be heard in the lyrics that repeated several times the line “I am not your toy, you stupid boy”…


click image for larger version

Israel is now the country that will host next year’s Eurovision spectacle (as Israel is a member of the European Broadcasting Union)… and the town hosting that event will be what the state of Israel wants to see as “it’s capital”: Jerusalem.

Only one day after it was shown what sentiments lay behind that future host city of this innocent mass entertainment show. The day that the Americans opened their new embassy in Jerusalem and Palestinians were demonstrating against this act and claim, especially along the border with the Gaza strip.

Another kind of movement – #UsToo – manifested itself in a asymmetrical war like demonstration, whereby during the ‘wave attacks’, under cover of smoke fumes produced by burning car tires, attacks with catapults and stone slings against Israeli border troops, things did get so much out of hand that the Israeli army started to shoot with more than tear gas canisters…

The real numbers are not yet known, but it seems that there are over 40 dead on the demonstrators side and over one thousand wounded… Nobody wants to say that the demonstration was all peaceful, though most being present were not committing live endangering acts of violence … what we know for sure is that on the Israeli side there were no deadly casualties…

Will we see the day that there will be only events like ‘song contests’ that play out differences and competition between nations? Will it be the Broadcasting Union of the Levant & Mesopotamia that swarms the world with a new television show, the LEVANT/MESOPOTAMIA-VISION Contest, with female singers from a more liberal Iran, the new configured Syria displaying newly found brother- and sisterhood, Kurdish singers without war songs, an Iraqi bard duet with a Shia singer and a Sunni oud player… a sensational Israeli/Palestian post-punkband?

We will be all be watching it from our portable devices… there will be big screens in the open air to celebrate this great event… but first let’s do the ground work to make this happen in the future: take a stance beyond today’s hardliners and partisans of whatever unilateral ‘righteous causes’… we need to write the lyrics for a new top hit: #Us Too…. for all those good willing people that are fed up with harassment and assault in the name of national states, political power groups and religious organisations … a song that will “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem” [ref Wikipedia #MeToo]
NB curiously the Israeli version of the #MeToo movement hashtag is #UsToo in Hebrew :גםאנחנו#

Image & text sources used:
– “After Eurovision win, Jerusalem gears up to strut stuff on world stage” header of article in the Times of Israel of May 13th. 2018 on opening of American embassy in Jerusalem and winning of Israel of Eurovision Song Contest and Jerusalem as Eurovision event host in 2019.
The Times of Israel
– screenshot of Eurovision performance by Netta Barzilia of the song Toy
– two pictures of the confrontation on March 14 at the Gaza-strip border with Israel, near Zeitoun, by the photographer Mohammed Amed of an Israeli drone that drops tear gas canisters on Palestinian protesters and Palestinians running for cover from the gas.
Washington Post
– Celebration of national ‘Jerusalem Day’ 13 May 2018 on Western Wall Plaza in Jerusalem, a photograph I altered a bit by adding the silhouette of the ‘Dome of the Rock’; Western Wall Plaza was created in 1967 after the Six-Day War by bulldozing what was then the Moroccan quarter, an extension of the Muslim quarter.
Ray Tribune

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I republish this news-tableau originally launched on 4 September, 2013 on my Flickr page. It had 11,965 views since then.  It takes part in a debate in the aftermath of  a retaliation attack of USA and allies on Syrian governmental targets, as a punishment for the use of chemical weapons on the city of Ghouta on 21 August, 2013, allegedly by Syrian government forces. An attack that caused over seven hundred deaths. This was not the first and not the last attack with chemical weapons. A useful overview of all 80 or so cases – since October 2012 – can be found on a dedicated Wikipedia page “Use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Civil War” whereby it becomes clear that some cases are disputed and often the perpetrator of an attack using chemical weapons can not with full certainty be pointed at. Indeed the ‘news’ or ‘fakes news’ battles around these chemical attacks are poisonous themselves. When we take the highest estimation of casualties of the Syrian Civil Ear, since its start in the year 2011 then – according to the United Nations and the Arab League envoy to Syria, the total number of death is 400.000
The total number of deaths by the use of chemical warfare in Syria using the data of the list on Wikipedia cited above, plus the latest (alleged) attack on Douma is 2002 (again I take the highest estimates). Bombardments and (other) usage of high explosives may have caused – directly and indirectly – the highest death toll, whereby it is irrelevant for a victim if she/he was targeted or an unwanted side effect of an attack, a “collateral victim”. As my argument below is about the hysteric hypocrisy in the media and by ‘Western governments’, here the three chemical weapon attacks that did produce the highest numbers of deadly victims:
1) Ghouta (area) 21/8/2013: 800 + (numbers differ enormously: lowest 281, highest 1729)
2) Khan Shaykhun 4/4/2017: 100
3) Douma 7/4/2018: 70


There Are No Humanitarian Weapons – biggest lie of these days “THE GRADING OF KILLING METHODS IN SYRIA” as if Chemical Weapons are worse than Conventional Weapons as if there is a humanitarian red-line that must not be crossed in warfare.

Pondering for days how to expose THE BIGGEST LIE OF THESE DAYS “THE GRADING OF KILLING METHODS IN SYRIA” as if death by the dagger, sword, machete, pistol, riffle, mortar, land mine, machine gun, cannon, missile, aerial bombing, napalm, arson, dynamite, nitro glycerine, and hundreds of other explosives, electronic shocks and nuclear explosion, are any better. Dead is dead, also for those who remember the killed ones personally, those who stay behind.


HOW BRAINWASHED IS EVERYBODY that many start to doubt if they should support a military intervention of the Americans and their Allies in Syria. How brainwashed they must be when using the big number of violent death (just over 100.000) in Syria from the UN Human Right Research WITHOUT TAKING IN ACCOUNT WHO HAS BEEN KILLING WHO, how many of these killings were the result of all kind of inner strives and crimes by all sort of freedom fighters equally repulsive as committed by the governmental troops of Bashir Al-Assad. How naive to think that after the launching of missiles on Assad regime targets, civil war and terrorism will end in Syria.

The most massive use of chemical warfare in the narrow sense was last century in a war between Iran and Iraq that lasted 8 years and took over one million victims, of which tens of thousands died because of the use of chemical warfare methods, mainly against soldiers, but also in some cases against civilians, mainly in Iran, but also in Iraq itself, whereby also Iran attempted to use chemical warfare agents. The Iran Iraq War of the eighties last century did not trigger any call of ‘intervention’ and hardly any protest in the world. In the years 1987/88 there has been – well documented – tactical support by USA military and CIA personal for Iraq gas attacks on Iranian troops. There was no red-line then under that geo-political circumstances.

Because napalm, agent orange and depleted uranium weapons, and several kinds of so called nerve gasses for crowd control do fall outside of the international acclaimed definition of ‘chemical warfare’, the Western democracies think they can proudly pose as humanitarian warriors. Less forget the massive use of these human killing substances and devices in the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Algerian War, Madagascar, the Gulf War, the Iraq War… by all those humanitarian generals of the USA and its allies.

Let alone that we recall all the devilish plans that have been prepared, but not executed, or only partly, of devastating large agricultural zones, of breaking irrigation dams, of bombing hydro-electrical dams, drowning thousands, triggering famines, ill health and massive death of illnesses like TB and Cholera, from Korea to Indochina.

Miles of historical, juridical, medical and military books and reports can be dragged in to support this kind of argumentation, to rip away the blindfold of public opinion as it is daily put in position and fastened by the major media.


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This tableau picture and essay has been published first at my Flickr news-tableau page on the 18th of november 2012. It had over the years 96,875 views. I republish it today on this blog to be used as a reference in the never ending discussion on social-media on who and what is right and wrong in this part of the Middle East. Tjebbe van Tijen 10/4/2018

HOW TO REPRESENT THE ISRAEL/GAZA CONFRONTATION or if you want GAZA/ISRAEL confrontation of mid november 2012.

This has been on my mind the last days, seeing the usual Pavlov reactions to the conflict of people taking sides for what clearly are the underdogs, without much thought though of the consequences. There have been several demonstrations already that had as their main slogan STOP ATTACK ON GAZA (1) without even mentioning the attacks the other way around, however primitive the missile technology employed by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades the official military arm of Hamas and other para-military groups.

I am neither pro-Israel nor pro Hamas and see with dismay how each time the warriors from both camps take over. As for Hamas they not only endangers others, but also themselves or their dear-ones and neighbours, because Israeli counter-attacks always come. Forgotten in the turmoil of war is, that the exchange of rockets, missiles and bombs does not only sow fear, kill people and damage buildings and infrastructure, it also is an attack on the many good willing initiatives between citizens of Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Their activities are not catching the headlines of the world press. Less deadly, less sensational activities that aim at diminish suffering and easing tension: support of joint economic projects and zones; promotion of free border crossing and travel; helping reconciliation; sharing of suffering by parents from both camps who lost their children in the conflict; joint environmental actions especially about water resources; arabic/hebrew language learning in schools; promoting fair trade products from Palestine in Israel; medical assistance; mixed summer camps for kids from Israel, Palestine and other arabic countries; joint academic research and education opportunities; mixed orchestras and theatre companies; training for conflict resolution; face to face dialogues initiatives; to sum up just a part of this positive spectre. (2) All these good willingness from West Bank/Gaza and Israel added by international partners, attempts to resolve the stalemate, are brutally brushed aside, once more.


Was it the summary execution by a missile fired by the Israel Defense Forces on a Hamas leader, Ahmed Jabari, last wednesday November the 14th? A missile hitting him in his car while driving along Omar Mukhtar Street in Gaza City, in the middle of a crowded neighbourhood, killing also his bodyguard. The 8th remote control assassination by the Israeli Air Force since January 2010 in the Gaza strip. (3)

Was it the barrage of 26 rockets from Gaza on the 29th of October into the South of Israel, which – by sheer chance – did hit no Israeli people or property? A rocket launch that – according to the BBC message of that day – was in response to an incident whereby a Gaza man at the border had been shot by Israeli troops, because he was – allegedly – attempting to fire a mortar at Israeli troops? A series of incidents that was summarised by this BBC news item with the header: “Violence ends Israel-Gaza truce.”

BBC correspondent Jon Donisson (based in the West Bank) noted on October the 29th. how precarious it is….

“to pinpoint when a specific escalation in violence started – both sides will always remember what they see as a previous act of aggression by the other which enables them to justify their attacks as retaliation” (3)

There are many other sources that tell the story of how it began in differing ways, from the ‘Palestinian Centre for Human Rights’ to the ‘Electronic Intifadah’ website, and the British group ‘Media Lense’ specialised in scrutinising what they call the “biased” war reporting of the BBC. (4) The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights sums up a whole range of events starting on Saturday November 10th with Israeli army firing an artillery shell at a group of children playing football on a hill 1500 meters away from the border near the east part of Gaza City, killing two of them and a whole serious of subsequent incidents one involving the killing of two “Palestinian resistance” members by Israeli warplanes.

Apart from what has been the real chain of events (5), with each item added or left out, resulting in a change of classification – assault or retaliation – there is the extra input of political scheming on the Israeli political front in the preparation for legislative elections in January 2013. This – cynically – always stimulates the ‘hawks’ in power or the ones aiming at that, to give or call for ‘a good pre-election military show’ in the occupied territories.

—- interlude —-
It was less than a century ago we could still speak of ‘The Levant’ and see a future beyond the vague historical memories of the Mamluk Sultanate and the more recent Ottoman and British empires. The Levant having regional mixed ethnic and religious demarcations that still carried the potential for a new future with very different borders and states as we know them now. There were many plans of reconstructing ‘imagined nations’ from a past that never existed in the way as imagined by all those ideologists, the historical parade of religious and political leaders with their: Zionism, Greater Syria, Greater Arabia, and similar bordering visions of unity and hegemony like Pan-Arabism and Pan-Turkism, or the even greater idea of Pan-Islamism, the ‘Ummah’ as a unification of all countries in the world, deemed to be or become Islamic States.

The positive potential of the actual population of the East Mediterranean countries with its diverse ethnic and religious mix, has hardly been used as a source of inspiration. Each party seeking, finding and proving by means of archeology their favourite slice of historical time to lay a unilateral claim on the land. Political and religious particularism fired by the disasters of two World Wars have created the violent carving up, expulsion and mass migration that ended in fortification and imprisonment of divided populations, we know now.

So the question in the once more flaring up conflict is:


Beyond the flood of ‘psychological warfare’ and ‘internet disinformation’ campaigns, that overwhelm us once again, each trying hard to force a singular ‘truth’ on us, there still is the space for multiple visions, a space that needs to be defended.

There is not only war in Israel and Gaza, there is a related ‘cyber war’, invading our social-networks in countries far away from the actual conflict zone. The Israeli army is real-time on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Partisan web initiatives for the Palestinian cause are counter attacking. ‘Ready Made’ arguments are produced by all sides, that multiply and circulating with just a click of a mouse. It is as if we need to make a choice: for of against israel; for or against Palestine. No other options. No ‘middle ground’. A ‘mass mediated dichotomy’ with many reminiscences of ‘Cold War rhetoric’.

We all know that the state of Israel is many times more powerful – in military sense – than any of its subjected regions and neighbours. This does not imply that we should neglect the relative small violent and criminal acts of its adversaries. Hiding or explaining away a smaller crime because of a related bigger one does not help to overcome what remains to be wrongdoing.

The fact that the confrontations between Palestinians in Gaza and Israelis in Israel tends to be mostly through the air by both advanced and primitive forms of artillery, says it all. Direct communications are failing. Israel certainly is responsible for a great deal of the actual stalemate, but not solely so. Israel persistently – for decades – using hard core military tactics only, failing totally in diplomacy, in social and economic measures to ease the situation of the Gaza-strip inhabitants. Murder having become a state endowed practice with remote control assassination as the highest Israel Defense Force attainment. The opposite side presents us – one can not be surprised – with a mirror image of such practice and mindset.

We are once again flooded with images of the shock and awe of modern weaponry, of fear and death, also similar photographic documentation of the terror spread by the uncontrolled launching of home-made rockets.

Weapons of peace are less spectacular. They are also more radical, in the sense that what is demanded is ‘compromise’, series of small temporary practical solutions that ease the life of the Palestinians, no more great and detailed ‘Peace Plans’ but small steps that need to prove themselves in practice, before the next one is taken. The actual self-righthousness, the shining historically polished positions – diamond hard – on both sides will only lead to further killing and destruction. Many say there is no space for such compromise, that the violence perpetrated now is the only thing that is left to the Palestinians.

I think that is just lazy thinking and it will leave people who have of another opinion trapped within a spiralling violence fired by sequences of misdeeds and retaliation that have become so frequent and continuous that any finger pointing to who started first will be countered by the other party with a reference to an earlier incident or act.

Taking sides in the actual conflict for either the Israeli Army or the Hamas military brigades and associated para-military groups, is equal to abandoning people on both the Israeli and the Palestinian side, who are long fed up by these warriors, who have another agenda, without the force of weapons. They need support. They need space to breath, They need some safeguards – especially within Gaza – to be able to speak out without being threatened or even liquidated by the reigning regime over there. (6)

The creation of a new union of nations forming a 21st century Levant / بلاد الشام Bilād ash-Shām may sound as a totally utopian idea, but anybody can see that the group of nation states that have been created in this part of the world are totally unstable and not able to offer their citizens the minimal level of peace each human should be able to enjoy.

An association of nation states into a Union of the Levant – in some way comparable to the European Union – is not a new idea and it may take a long time to come into existence. Still it will give a positive perspective for the whole region.

There are of course pre-formations of this idea in the Arab League which includes the Palestinians with a special status, with the ‘Arab Peace Initiative’ of 2002 which would normalise the position of Israel if it will withdraw from all occupied territories and make arrangements for the return of Palestinian refugees. This plan has only be sniffed at by some Israeli politicians and for the rest been refuted as a plan that has been made about israel without Israel. Still it has some formal status, not in the least with the Obama administration.

There are major shifts taking place in several of the Arab states that are members of the Arab League, other regional and supra-regional associations of countries could be formed. Circum Mediterranean countries have a potential to associate from Spain to Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. Turkey could over time become a member of both the European Union and such a new Union of Levant countries. These are the macro weapons that need to be forced by diplomacy.

Small arms are needed also for construct a peaceful situation. Opening of borders. Relaxing of social economic interaction between areas that are now sealed off. Freeing ways for all forms of assistance and cultural exchange. De-militarisation and reconciliation initiatives, employment opportunities for all those active in weapon production and military activities, and so on… It all may sound too idealistic and silly… still these are the kind of weapons needed for the self-defence of people against the all overruling violent forces of fear and hate.

NB several years ago the then owner of Flickr (Yahoo) classified all my 700 and so news-tabelaus as ‘adukt material’. Completely wrongly as I do no porn, not even erotics, my tabelaus are well studied picture colages and my texts are all in a well controlled non-onscene language… I have protested this indirect censor measure, but only macjibes did answer me… I do not have the time and money to hire a lw firm to deal with the unjust classification of my materials… so bear with e with some of the links, you may need to click and say that you are aware of the (imposed and wrong) status of my visuals:

1) See my news-tableau on Flickr dated November 16 2012, which is a reaction on a call of the Dutch Palestina Komitee fro a demonstration: “Stop Attack On & From Gaza” stop supporting either war mongers side in the conflict”

Also another reaction on singular views of the conflict, starting with a cartoon by Simon Farr published in The Guardian in 2008 and used again for a call to demonstrate on November 17, in Amsterdam: “Gaza: Israeli Overkill does not legitimise Palestinian Terror Rockets”

2) List of fifty or so ‘Arab-Israeli peace projects’ that will be hampered by the “defending” warriors on Wikipedia

3) 29 October 2012 Last updated at 19:34 GMT “Violence ends Israel-Gaza truce – Militants in Gaza have fired 26 rockets into Israel, officials say, amid a flare-up in fighting which shattered a brief ceasefire between the two sides.”

4) Here short indications and links to non-main stream news sources that challenge the BBC reporting, though I must say that we can not expect a world news organisation to continuously report on each incident. Even when a local correspondent would send in such reports we can be sure that often things more fashionable or deemed more important will come first. In fact is the dilemma of our whole news systems that they only report when something grows out of hand grossly and than time restrictions and the haste of ‘the news’ as such make that the events that did lead up to a crisis deemed big enough to be represented, are simply left out. Social internet media, that is the good part of it, tend to fill up now-a-days the gap. Blaming of mainstream media is understandable and also helpful to keep up the quality of news broadcasts, but the problems are more structural in the whole idea of having ‘world news in half an hour or so’.

– Palestinian Centre for Human Rights: “New Israeli Escalation against the Gaza Strip, 7 Palestinians, Including 3 Children, Killed and 52 Others, Including 6 Women and 12 Children, Wounded; Sunday, 11 November 2012 – 00:00

– Electronic Intifada: “As Israel assaults Gaza, BBC reporting assaults the truth” by Amena Saleem; London 16 November. “On the morning of 15 November, the day after Israel carried out the extrajudicial killing of Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari and unleashed a wave of terror against Gaza’s civilian population, the BBC put an article onto its website headlined: “Gaza rocket arsenal problem for Israel.” / The article goes into minute detail about what the BBC’s diplomatic and defense correspondent Jonathan Marcus describes as “the Palestinian rocket arsenal.” / Nowhere in the article, or elsewhere on the BBC, does Marcus investigate Israel’s weapons stockpile, which is funded to the tune of $3 billion a year by the United States. / There are no reams of paragraphs devoted to describing the different types of bombs, mortar shells, drones, fighter jets, gunboats, tanks, guns, nuclear warheads or white phosphorus shells that are in Israel’s arsenal. Yet, with the exception of nuclear missiles, all of these have been used at some point against the people of Gaza with devastating consequences.”

– Media Lens: “Gaza Blitz – Turmoil And Tragicomedy At The BBC” by David Cromwell and David Edwards; November 16, 2012. “The Israeli attacks have routinely been reported as ‘retaliation’ for Palestinian ‘militant rocket attacks’ on southern Israel. In a study of news performance in 2001, the Glasgow Media Group noted that Israelis ‘were six times as likely to be presented as “retaliating” or in some way responding than were the Palestinians.’ A BBC correspondent in Gaza said ‘there are now fears now (sic) of a major escalation of violence’. But the Israeli execution of Ahmed al-Jabari was a major escalation of violence. BBC News reported three Israeli deaths by rockets fired from Gaza with the briefest mention of the earlier deaths of ‘eleven Palestinians – mainly militants but also children’. As ever, there was no explanation of how a Gaza civilian is distinguished from a ‘militant’.”

5) A “List of Israeli assassinations” from the 1950s onward can be found on Wikipedia

There are of course a whole series of lists that involve killing by all sides, from Palestinian rocket attacks to suicide attacks, the index page of these lists can be found at:

6) The non-biased Israeli peace organisation B’Tsalem keeps for many years a refined classification of casualties that helps to understand this point.. For the period 19/1/2009 to 30/9/2012 for the Gaza strip and the West Bank. For the Gaza strip it lists: “Palestinians killed by Palestinians = 45”; “Palestinians executed by the Hamas Government = 14.” The number of Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces over this period for Gaza = 271, of which 158 are detailed as “Palestinians who took part in the hostilities and were killed by Israeli security forces.”

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Ik analyseerde op mijn blog het zaterdag 17 maart 2018 in de VK geplaatste interview met Frits Bolkestein, waarin hij zegt uitbreiding van opvang van asielzoekers in Amsterdam “ABSURD!” te vinden waarna hij in één adem het raadslid voor de VVD Hala Naoum Néhmé aanprijst als “hoop in bange dagen.” De vraag dient nu publiek gesteld te worden… Is deze vrouw, zelf dochter van christelijke Syrische asielzoeker (1999) ‘tegen asielzoekers’, ik kan het bijna niet geloven, maar Hala Naoum Néhméh dient zelf voor de verkiezingen duidelijk uit te spreken wat zij wat betreft toelating en opvang asielzoekers van plan is te doen in de Amsterdamse Gemeenteraad.

Curieus is dat wat in die hele slotpassage van het Volkskrant interview met Frits Bolkestein gezegd wordt. Ik herhaal het eerste deel en geef daarbij ook zijn uitspraak op wie hij dan wel gaat stemmen:

Op wie gaat u straks stemmen?

De VVD Amsterdam is al jaren veel te links

‘Nou kijk, de VVD Amsterdam is veel te links. Al jaren. Die lijsttrekker, Van der Burg, heeft gezegd dat Amsterdam meer asielzoekers moet opnemen. Absurd! Ik vind dat-ie weg moet. Zal ook wel gebeuren, maar jammer genoeg pas na de verkiezingen. Ik stem deze keer op Hala Naoum, de nummer 5 op de VVD-lijst. Zij is absoluut niet links. Ze is een Syrische christen die op haar 15de naar Nederland is gekomen. Hala is Nederlandse geworden, ze heeft gestudeerd, ook in Parijs. Ik ken haar persoonlijk, ik heb haar gesteund bij haar kandidaatstelling op de lijst. Een heel begaafde jonge vrouw. Voor mij, heren, is Hala de hoop in bange dagen.’

Als verlosser voor Amsterdam wordt hier een Syrische christen, Hala Naoum Néhmé, opgevoerd, die zo begrijpen we uit het eerste deel van Bolkestein’s uitspraken over de door hem beoogde VVD beleidslijn voor Amsterdam ‘tegen het opnemen van meer asielzoekers’ is en bij eventuele verkiezing, zal zijn. Bolkestein suggereert dat de dochter van asielzoekers in Nederland, wier ouders als Syrische christenen in het verleden (1999) de onderdrukking in hun land van oorsprong ontvlucht zijn, zich keert in het heden tegen opname van nieuwe asielzoekers, dus ook die uit Syrië, dit niet enkel als een tot Nederlander genaturaliseerde, maar ook als een christen, zonder enig erbarmen.

In een lang interview in Het Parool van 12 december 2017 onder de kop “Toekomstig VVD-raadslid Hala ­Naoum Néhmé (33) kwam hier vanuit ­Syrië”, wordt door haar hoog opgegeven over “Nederlandse waarden” en het voordeel bij integratie in Nederland door het christelijke geloof van het gevluchte gezin. Ik lees nergens iets over het beperken van asielaanvragen, laat staan met betrekking tot Amsterdam. Dit roept nog meer vragen op. Is er sprake van een verborgen agenda waarbij de geloofsovertuiging van asielaanvragers een rol speelt? Of heeft Frits Bolkestein domweg Hala Naoum Néhmé verkeerd begrepen, of wil hij haar zijn visie op een noodzakelijke beperking van asielzoekers via de media opdringen. Ook kan het zijn dat de helderheid van de geest van Bolkestein – gezien zijn hoge leeftijd – af en toe te wensen overlaat. Nog eens een keer die beide interviews (met Frist Bolkestein en Hala Naoum) overgelezen en het woord “absurd” als diskwalificatie van een streven door VVD wethouder Van der Burg, blijft nagalmen. Ook zie ik dit punt in de reacties in de pers van Van der Burg op het edict van Bolkestein, niet nader genoemd worden.

In een web-bulletin van het lokale nieuws van Zwolle, staat een wat uitgebreider artikel daterend van 27 mei 2016 waarin Hala Naoum aan het woord komt, met name over integratie. De geschiedenis van haar aankomst en de wijze waarop zij kansen kreeg om te integreren zijn leerzaam, zij zegt er zelf over dat wat haar overkomen is een ‘buitenkans’ was (opname in een Nederlands gezin om de taal en cultuur te leren, in haar tiener jaren). Zij weet ook zinnige dingen te zeggen over waarom integratie in andere gevallen niet goed verloopt. Hier een langer citaat:

Over het algemeen doen asielzoekers het beter qua integratie dan die arbeidsmigranten. Het is een heel bekend onderzoeksresultaat. Tegelijkertijd heb je binnen de groep vluchtelingen ook mensen die altijd hele grote uitkeringsafhankelijkheid hebben gehouden zoals Somaliërs. Ik ben nu vrijwilliger in een van de opvangcentra voor Syrische vluchtelingen in Amsterdam. Ik moet optimistisch zijn over hun integratie kansen, maar toch ben ik dat niet. Ze hebben allereerst een ongelofelijk trauma opgelopen in Syrië. Daarnaast zijn ze ook onrustig omdat ze hopen hun familie over te kunnen laten komen. Tot die familie hier is, is al het geld dat je in de integratie steekt weggegooid geld. En zelfs als ze dan blijven, zullen ze altijd rancuneus zijn dat het westen niet heeft ingegrepen in Syrië. Er zullen ook altijd uitzonderingen zijn, maar ik denk dat hun integratie nog slechter zal gaan.

Nergens staat er iets waaruit kan blijken hoe deze dochter van asielzoekers uit 1999, zich in 2018 tegen de komst van asielzoekers zou kunnen gaan richten. Het lijkt erop dat Frits Bolkestein op een schandelijke wijze zijn eigen visie en politieke manipulatiedrift heeft vermengd. Hoe kan het dat dit de twee journalisten die hem een  interview hebben afgenomen, Frénk van der Linden en Pieter Webeling, dat niet nagetrokken hebben?

ik heb mijn vraag ook op haar twitter-account gepost, maar kreeg GEEN ANTWOORD
(zondag 18/3/2018 17:24)

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SANA Syrian Arab News Agency voice of the Assad regime focusses on what they call US-led-international-coalition warplanes that did bomb Deir Ezzor (7th largest city in the country, orth-east of Damascus), also SANA publishes about Turkish artillery and aerial bombardments in the Syrian border areas with Turkey under Kurdish influence, while Western media publish about the Assad regime attacks, supported by their Russian allies, like the massacre of the last day which saw bombardments of an enclave near Damascus held by anti-Assad forces, Ghouta.

This is what one calls a ‘proxy war’: “a conflict between two states or non-state actors where neither entity directly engages the other. It encompasses two separate powers utilizing external strife to somehow attack the interests or territorial holdings of the other.” [Wikipedia]
… yes we do not need to to doubt whether loads of bombs have been dropped down on human habitat, we may doubt who did it, why, how, what went as planned, what went wrong, also we can observe that each side in the war will point to a massacre committed by the other party , while being silent about their carnage they wrought themselves …
some may even become pro-Assad again, just to stop the warfare, not because they have any sympathy for his murderous rule. That is how far we came with a quick & easy Spring Liberation of Syria in 2011 with a death toll which is estimated to be between 350,000 and 480,000 ….

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The Russians have just added their newest stealth warplane Su-57 to the Syrian Country Wide Laboratory for Advanced Weapon Systems.

Russia has tested over 200 new types of arms in Syria during its campaign in support of President Bashar al-Assad, a senior lawmaker said Thursday, as Moscow was accused of taking part in air strikes against rebel-held Eastern Ghouta. “As we helped the brotherly Syrian people, we tested over 200 new types of weapons,” said Vladimir Shamanov, a former commander of Russia’s airborne troops who now serves as head of the Russian Duma’s defence committee. “It’s not an accident that today they are coming to us from many directions to purchase our weapons, including countries that are not our allies,” he said. “Today our military-industrial complex made our army look in a way we can be proud of,” he said. Russia, a close ally of the Syrian government in the protracted multi-front war, has been accused of indiscriminate bombing throughout the conflict causing massive casualties. The latest criticism focuses on the air strikes against the enclave of Eastern Ghouta, where more than 350 civilians have been killed in five days, but the Kremlin denied involvement in the regime-led assault.
website defencetalk Friday February 23, 2018

Russia tested ‘over 200 new weapons’ in Syria: MP

Super power strive makes that each introduction of a new or stronger weapon system will be countered by the other side in this ‘proxy war’ that helps the Assad dicatorship survive for 7 years now. So osnetdaily.com which carries a lot of miliary news report today (February 23, 2018) reports:

F-22 Stealth Jets and Russian Su-35S Flankers have already been Shadow Boxing Over Syria for a while now, so this gamble by Putin can be understood as raising the stakes in the intelligence war following the devastating US attack on Russian mercenaries in the Euphrates a while ago, given the fact that F-22 jets participated in that bombing during Feb. 9 this year. The SU-57 could be used to spy, and test its innovative radar arrangement on the F-22. Russia tested ‘over 200 new weapons’ in Syria during the war, and it most likely wants to market the Su-57, which is still a prototype, as having been ‘combat-tested’ in a ‘real battlefield’. The F-22 is less maneuverable then its Russian opponent and has smaller weapon bays. On the other hand, the SU-57 has a radar cross section of about 0.1 square meters – far less stealthy then the F-22’s 0.0001 square meters. Its engines are not positioned in a stealthy manner and have no thermal sleeves to reduce heat signature. In fact, the platform’s final engines are still under development and won’t be available before 2025. For homeland airspace defense purposes, rear-aspect stealth is less important than other aspects and other locations, thus should theoretically suffice for defending Russia against intruders from western Europe in a future war.

It leaves the Syrian non-combattant, civilian population like testing-rats in a laboratory, caged in their encircled towns and villages, hostage of one of the surviving war-lord enclaves in the conflict. Humans as guinea pigs to test the effectivity of murderous weapons (including all the so called collateral victims)… whereby one needs also to say that whole sale slaughter of any troops pushed in the theatre of war is a criminal act as well and not a victory to be celebrated.


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First published on 30/3/2015 in the series ‘news-tableaus’ on my Flickr site (now unreachable because of censorship, all m7 700 so and so images & texts marked as ‘adult content ‘by Yahoo the owner of Flickr, my protest against it have never been answered; there is no pornographic nudity whatsoever in any of my news-tableau pictures, which had a wide readership almost 3 million hits in a few years) Republished on this blog on 5/§1/10§7; Creative Commons: name the author Tjebbe van Tijen/Imaginary Museum projects and give a direct link to this address.

USA to Saudi Arabia Your turn to bomb the world_16769282077_o

“YOUR TURN” says USA Secretary of State John Kerry to Saudi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during a meeting in Riyadh on March the 8th and Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud (1980-) has his playground as the youngest Minister of Defense in the World to test his toys, like the Eurofighter Typhoon, with good results as can be seen also in this tableau picture, the top photograph published on March the 26th with this caption:

People search for survivors under the rubble of houses destroyed by Saudi airstrikes Thursday near Sanaa Airport in Yemen. (Hani Mohammed/AP).

What has been hit here? The Newspaper header (The Columbian -on-line edition) says it: “Saudi Arabia, allies target Shiite rebels.” Because if the USA or Saudi Arabia is bombing there will be little change in reporting on the effects. An ‘enemy’ will be named and hit, collateral damage and victims will be just ‘unwanted exceptions’ that prove the rule of ‘pin-pointing’ precisely ‘military targets’ only. In other words: when you are hit you must be in the military class of ‘enemies’ because you are hit. (1)

Somehow all this far away rubble on the ground will produce ‘more safety’ elsewhere, if you like to believe so. (2)

Nobody seems to put the same amount of effort as goes into the bombing into a diplomatic and political solution. (4)

(1) We should be well aware of the realities of high tech warfare and the myth making of it being a kind of ‘humanitarian weapon’ affair, thanks to the newest equipment, good training and human rights being part of military planning. I cite here one of the many academic studies that prove the contrary:

Hostilities involving use of artilleries, mortars, air-delivery general purpose bombs, rockets and multiple launch rocket systems, among other explosive weapons, have taken a terrible toll on civilians, causing deaths, injury, disability and trauma. As the use of explosives in armed conflicts stands unacceptable according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, their deployment in the asymmetric warfare is becoming commonvii The hostilities recorded in Syria, Gaza Strip, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Ukraineviii, military occupation of territories in the Middle East, in Israel, Yemen, and others, the use of explosives targeting civilian objects has caused violations of the International Humanitarian Law. The protection of the civilians and the civilian objects has been increasingly defied. Civilians are the main victims in the proliferation of the Non-International Armed Conflicts. They are killed, maimed, traumatized, disabled and their objects are destroyed. This is in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention, rules and practice of the International Humanitarian Law, and the customary international humanitarian law on rules and practice.

[Peter Onyango Onyoyo “Explosive violence in densely populated areas menace to humanity”; School of Law, University Of Nairobi; (2015); p.23 (PDF version); www.academia.edu/11106468/USE_OF_EXPLOSIVES_IN_DENSELY_PO… ; p. 2. ]

(2) Another way of reporting can be found on the web-site of of Middle East Eye (4) of friday 27 March:

Cities and towns across Yemen were rocked by a second round of Saudi-led airstrikes overnight on Thursday.

Yemen’s Health Ministry, which is under control of the rebel Houthi movement that is being targeted by the strikes, said on Friday morning that at least 39 civilians had been killed since the bombing began late on Wednesday night.

Twelve of the victims were killed when a raid targeting a military base north of the capital, Sanaa, hit surrounding residential areas, according to the ministry.

Reporters on the ground say they fear that the death toll of Thursday night’s bombing may be the highest of the campaign so far.

The strikes continued into Friday afternoon, with strikes targeting a Houthi-controlled base in the central province of Marib and weapons depots in the southern city of Aden. The President Palace in the capital was also targeted by fighter jets on Friday afternoon, Reuters reported.

Amnesty International has so far confirmed that six children have been among those killed in the airstrikes, after speaking to medical sources and eyewitnesses.


Depending on which source one chooses the focus and the numbers and classification of victims quoted, differ. As an example this Iranian view on the web site The Iran Project, dated March 29th:

Doctor Ali Sarieh, the director of medical emergencies at the Yemeni Health Ministry, told the official military news service, 26september, on Sunday that the Saudi aerial attacks on Yemen have killed 35 people and wounded 88 others.

He added that Saudi military aircraft pounded areas in the Sana’a Province, where Ansarullah revolutionaries are in charge of the embattled seat of government, as well as the northwestern and western provinces of Sa’ada and Hudaydah.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Saturday that negotiations “remain the only chance to prevent long, drawn-out conflict” in Yemen. There, however, was no sign of condemnation of the Saudi invasion in the UN chief’s remarks.


(3) References to the position of the Middle East Eye point to the founders coming from The Guardian and Al Jazeera and some ‘activists’ and yes, complex long term conflicts like rage in the Middle East has made it so that ‘objectivity’ is a rare thing to find when it comes to reporting topical events. I am following this source now and then since it’s founding in February 2014 and find it at least ‘less partisan’ in it;s views than many others. Of course also the reference given here – a Wikipedia page – should be read with this in mind.

(4) In an article in The Guardian by Nussaibah Younis (research associate at the Project on Middle East Democracy) of sunday the 29th of March, the issue of the Yemen intervention being a ‘proxy war’ and the future failure of military solutions is expressed:

…talk of a proxy war risks over-estimating the level of power Saudi Arabia and Iran wield, and overlooking the local actors who truly shape the conflicts in question. The Houthi movement has been able to advance across Yemen largely because of its alliance with the ancien régime of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, and because of its ability to tap into disillusionment with the poor performance of the Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi government. Though Iran may have helped to hone the effectiveness of the Houthi movement, it is neither the cause of nor a major player in the emerging Yemeni civil war.

That reality, however, is lost on a Saudi Arabia that is so fearful of Iran’s mounting influence in the region that it has instigated air strikes that are more likely to exacerbate than to resolve the conflict in neighbouring Yemen.

If Saudi Arabia genuinely wants to undercut Iran’s influence in the Middle East, it must acknowledge and address the pain and suffering of marginalised groups across the Middle East. Giving them their rights and bringing them to the negotiating table is the best way to insulate them from Iranian influence.


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Originally published on 6/4/2015 by Tjebbe van tijen on his Flickr News-tableau pages; republished om 5/12/2017 on the Limping Messenger. [picture is Creative Commons: name the author and make a link to this original post]

Yemen Ground Zero in Okash near Sanaa on 442015 =_16856412329_o

GROUND ZERO YEMEN: my news-tableau based on a Reuter Press release and two pictures of a series of 10 taken on April 3 or 4 2015 by the photographer Mohamed Al-Sayaghi + overlay of Eu-fighter of Saudi Royal Airforce & text and statistical graphics:

People dig graves for the victims of an air strike in Okash village near Sanaa April 4, 2015. REUTERS/MOHAMED AL-SAYAGHI (photographer)

Link to original message and photo series: in.reuters.com/article/2015/04/05/yemen-security-idINKBN0…

The belligerents and those that bomb – be it from the air, using missiles, artillery, car bombs or bomb-belts – are many, not just the Saudis. It is the Saudi’s, though, that have the greatest military power, thus making the actual confrontation into what is called ‘asymmetrical warfare’. (1)

What will be the result of this ‘overkill capacity’ of the state of Saudi Arabia in the Yemen context, as one of the best equiped nations in military sense in the region, are described in a recent study of the International Red Cross in these terms:

Recent and current con!icts have been distinguished by mismatches of opposing capabilities among belligerents.31 This asymmetry can increase the appeal of populated areas as environments in which to launch attacks and then hide among civilians, or environments to dominate because control of the population is a strategic objective. Yet if explosive weapons are used, the higher the population density or concentration of civilians or civilian objects in a place, the more people and civilian infrastructure are likely to be within the blast and fragmentation radius of an explosion. Despite this, con!icts in Vietnam, Chechnya, Gaza, theWest Bank, Afghanistan, and Iraq have all shown that belligerents do operate out of populated areas, including locating military bases and other facilities there, thereby exacerbating the risks to civilians of being affected by hostilities. Demographic shifts from the countryside to urban environments this century are likely to continue or even exacerbate such phenomena. ‘Because resources, power, and people are concentrated in and around them, cities are by de”nition vulnerable entities’, in which the use of explosive weapons not only runs the risk of killing and injuring civilians but also damages physical infrastructure and disrupts essential civilian services.

[John Borrie and Maya Brehm; Enhancing civilian protection from use of explosive weapons in populated areas: building a policy and research agenda; International Review of the Red Cross; vol.93 no.883; September 2011; p.809-836: online PDF version: www.icrc.org/eng/assets/files/review/2011/irrc-883-borrie… ; p. 814. ]

The historical complexities of the power struggle in and around yemen are recognised by many from different camps. Each simplification lays the basis for simple solutions in a complex situation and of subsequent violence with this example -out of many – proving the point.

In our times where the old notion of military battle fields does not exists any more, it is civilians that bare the brunt.

The sad thing is that such a powerful and super rich nation like Saudi Arabia can come up with no other measures than copy-cat of the failure of USA strategy: enforcing peace by aerial bombardment.

This is GROUND ZERO in some small village for some unknown reason… is this ‘collateral damage’, or is so that all those who die in such an unplanned way, are by definition put in the category of ‘enemies ‘ or ‘terrorists’ by the army press-officers briefing the international press?

Early sources (starting fromApril 4th, the alleged date of the air attack was April 3) state this:

Residents near Okash village, which is near an air force camp on Jebel al-Nabi Shouieb mountain, said the air strike was on Friday night and killed nine people. Saba said the family consisted of two men, a woman and six children. It posted a picture on its website showing three children lying next to each other with pieces of papers with the date April 3, 2015 written on them. Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of photo. (2)


This news-tableau is only depicting one case, whereas there are many. One of the important non-partisan sources on human suffering is the United Nation Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which has an emergency section for Yemen. There we can read that the 9 death depicted here are just a pin point on a map that totals up to an estimate of 500 fatalities since the beginning of the intensification of the actual conlfict (Yemen Military Intervention 2015):

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), violence has killed 550 people and injured 1,746 – including many civilians – since 19 March. Casualty reports are often underestimates of true number of casualties, as people may not have the means to seek treatment in hospitals, and families may bury their dead before reports are collected. Displacement is also rising. Overall displacement estimates could not be verified

[Yemen: Escalating conflict Situation Report No. 2 (as of 3 April 2015) This report is produced by OCHA Yemen in collaboration with humanitarian partners. It was issued by OCHA Yemen. It covers the period from 31 March to 3 April. / Full report available on-line: reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/OCHA%20… ; p. 1. ]

To keep updated on the humanitarian side of the conflict reliefweb.int is a reliable source and they have a country page on Yemen, with links to news-flahes also like this one taken on monday April the 6th 19 hrs Amsterdam time:

In the last 24 hours, air strikes hit Aden, Al Dhale’e, Sana’a, Sa’ada, Al Hudaydah and Hajjah Governorates. According to local sources, one strike in Sa’ada killed eight civilians in the Al Anad area; impact reports from air strikes in other areas were unclear as of 10.00. Armed clashes also continued in the south. In Aden, fighting intensified and was spreading towards residential areas of Al Ma’ala and Tawahi Districts. Clashes involved bombardment of residential districts; four residential buildings in Ma’ala were reportedly destroyed. Bridges connecting two major roads from Aden to neighbouring areas have also been damaged. In Abyan, clashes were reported in Lawder and Zinjibar Districts.

In Al Dhale’e, a party to the conflict has reportedly seized three hospitals and evicted patients; snipers are reportedly firing from the building. According to international humanitarian law, all parties to conflict must refrain from targeting civilian infrastructure. Commandeering civilian infrastructure for military purposes is also prohibited.


(1) Asymmetric warfare can describe a conflict in which the resources of two belligerents differ in essence and in the struggle, interact and attempt to exploit each other’s characteristic weaknesses. Such struggles often involve strategies and tactics of unconventional warfare, the weaker combatants attempting to use strategy to offset deficiencies in quantity or quality. Such strategies may not necessarily be militarized. This is in contrast to symmetric warfare, where two powers have similar military power and resources and rely on tactics that are similar overall, differing only in details and execution.
The term is also frequently used to describe what is also called “guerrilla warfare”, “insurgency”, “terrorism”, “counterinsurgency”, and “counterterrorism”, essentially violent conflict between a formal military and an informal, less equipped and supported, undermanned but resilient opponent.


(2) In it’s later despatches Reuter and media all over the world that follow it, do show and quote these photographs without further reference on their authenticity. Curious remains that Yemen state news agency SABA which is quoted as a source by Reuter does not (in its English language version) give any report, when I double checked on Monday April 6. I still think there is not enough good reason for disbelieve, even when the name of the village – Okash – does not show up in the regular geographical/mapping on-line services. The mountain range mentioned does show. I may be because of transliteration of the Arabic name (?).

See also my news-tableau of 30/3/2015: “USA to Saudi Arabia: “Your turn” to bomb the world into safety”

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iHitNews no.15 4/12/2017 [for full description of image elements see footnote [*]

De NOS bericht: “Tv-maker Floortje Dessing zit vast in Jemen: ‘Situatie is heel heftig” gisteren in het 8 uur Journaal.
Al jaren woedt de afgrijselijke oorlog in Jemen met Saoedi Arabië als lokale super-macht tegen Iran als een lokale supermacht, een ‘proxy war’ tussen deze lokale machtscentra, waarbij het hoofdpodium van de oorlog verschuift van Bahrein, naar Iraq, Syrië en Jemen.
De Nederlandse berichtgeving over de voortdurende bombardementen op met name stedelijke gebieden, waarbij de gevechtsgroepen nu en dan geraakt worden als ware zij de ‘collateral damage’, daar waar de bevolking het hoofdslachtoffer is, die berichtgeving is spaarzaam en meestal door correspondenten op veilige afstand van het strijdgebied.

Afgelopen weekeinde echter kwam een Nederlandse cameraploeg – waarbij als ankervrouw Floortje Dessing [**] – midden in zo’ bombardement en bijbehorende straatgevechten terecht… er was een internet verbinding en plots was er dat gevoel van kneuterige saamhorigheid die een ‘dappere journalist’ bij uitzondering ten deel kan vallen. Vaderlijke bezorgdheid van Rob Trip live vanuit de studio via een Skype verbinding met de stad Saana en Floortje niet op straat maar in een kelder… in zijn bekende Trip-kleuterstijl met het stellen van eenvoudige vragen aan Floortje in haar benauwde toestand… Hoe het nu precies zit met die elkaar bestrijdende partijen – bovengronds – we kwamen het niet te weten in dit ‘spannende NOS-nieuws item. Zo ook niet wat nu de halfzachte houding van deze en voorafgaande Nederlandse regeringen waren en nog zijn met betrekking tot de inzet van superieure wapensystemen van de Saoedi’s tegen een weerloze bevolking. Dat bleef onbesproken… laat staan dat er enig bericht was over het Nederlandse Koningshuis, die toch zulke dikkke vrienden is met het Saoedisch Koninkrijk (Willem Alexander en PvdA minister Koenen kwamen er noh met een zware delegatie in 2015 bij de begrafenis van de vorige koning, toen het conflict in Jemen al speelde)… geen enkel bericht dus over een humanitaire interventie van Koning Willem Alexander ten faveure van de Jemenitische bevolking die door zwaar militair materieel en blokkades van hulpgoederen door de Saoedische marine, aan het afsterven is.
Heel die malle vertoning – met alle waardering voor de goede bedoelingen van Floortje Dessing en “haar” Rode Kruis crew op een gevaarlijke missie – kreeg Kuifje in Jemen proporties door de aandacht die de NOS redactie en later ook de rest van de vaderlandse pers had voor het wel en wee van deze zo aardig ogende vlog-reporter, die per ongeluk – leek het wel – in een echte oorlogssituatie aangeland was.
Gelukkig wist nog geen 8 uur later het Algemeen Dagblad met enige trots te melden: “Floortje Dessing ontsnapt uit Jemen // Televisiemaakster Floortje Dessing is vandaag uit het door oorlog verscheurde Jemen ontsnapt. Ze is samen met hulpverleners van het Rode Kruis veilig geland in het nabijgelegen Djibouti. Het gaat naar omstandigheden goed met hen.”

He, he, gelukkig maar… nu we hebben wel weer even genoeg slecht nieuws uit Jemen gehad… tijd voor een leuke foto-shoot van het Koninklijk gezin, in de sneeuw (ooo… dat ging destijds mis met die lawine, maar daar hebben we het gelukkig niet meer over, alhoewel ook dat ‘slachtofferschap’ indringend verslagen werd door het altijd alterte NOS-journaal, want wanneer die iets op de buis brengen “DAN IS HET NIEUWS.”

Zie ok mijn eerder ‘nieuws-tableau’ over de Saoedi-bombardementen op Jemen gepubliceerd in april 2015, herplaatst op dit blog.


Bij het Rode Kruis is er een dubbele reactie zo te zien, aan de ene kant beseffen zij hoe genant het is dat de media-aandacht zich richt op een televisiepersoonlijkheid die ‘ontsnapt’ aan het geweld, aan de andere kant zijn ze blij met zoveel publiciteit. De vraag is wat zulke foute publiciteit netto oplevert aan de slachtoffers. “Merlijn Stoffels van het Rode Kruis, die met Dessing in de kelder zat, roept op het lot van de Jemenieten niet te vergeten. ,,Wij hebben het land kunnen verlaten, maar de mensen daar kunnen geen kant op en zitten vast in een afschuwelijk conflict.” De groep hoopt zo snel mogelijk door te kunnen vliegen naar huis.
Het Rode Kruis kon vooralsnog niets kwijt over de manier waarop Dessing en het team zijn ontkomen aan het geweld. De organisatie laat weten dat de groep een tijdelijke mediastop inlast om bij te komen van alle indrukken van de laatste paar dagen.”

[*] Dit nieuws-tableau is een assemblage van 5 elementen die tezamen ‘een nieuw gecreëerd beeld’ vormen door de wisselwerking van betekenissen tussen de verschillende elementen:
1) PRI (Public Radio International) reportage van 25/6/2015 met een beeld van mensen die vluchten voor een luchtaanval op de residentie van de voormalige Jemenitische president Ali Abdullah Saleh


2)  Detail van het omslag van Kuifje/Tintin”Le Crabe aux pinces d’or” (1941/1944) verhaalt over een jonge reporter (tintin) die samen met Kapitein Haddock afreist naar Marokko om een bende opiumsmokkelaars te ontmaskeren….


3) Een mixed media illustratie van Orlagh Murphy (Dublin, Ireland), een portret van Floortje Dessing voor de VARA-gidsvan 16/12/2014


4) NOS logo ontwerp behorend bij een ‘pitch’ van jonge ontwerper (Jonge Honden) voor een twitter gestuurde nieuws site van de NOS:

De nieuwe NOS.nl website is als het ware één grote filter die ervoor zorgt dat jij het nieuws ontvangt dat belangrijk is. Kunnen we dit gegeven gebruiken om duidelijk te maken dat als je wilt weten wat er écht is gebeurd je op NOS.nl moet zijn?
De NOS introduceert een nieuwsfilter voor dé plek waar nieuws samenkomt: Twitter. Gedurende 24 uur kun je jouw eigen NOS nieuwsteam samenstellen bestaande uit redactieleden en oud nieuwslezers die alle berichten op jouw Twitter timeline controleren en filteren.


5) Icoontje van een straaljager/bombardementsvliegtuig dat ik iets heb aangepast om het enkel tot een silhouet te maken.


[**] Er is een Wikipedia pagina over de ‘ondernemende’ Floortje Dessing, waaruit blijkt hoe succesvol zij zich in de nieuws-markt als ‘product/brand’ heeft weten te plaatsen: Laat ik er twee citaten uit geven (ik heb de links in blauw in de Wikipedia tekst laten staan, in de Wiki zelf zijn die klikbaar):
In juli 2007 stapte ze over naar omroep LLiNK.[1] Ze presenteerde daar onder andere het programma 3 op Reis met Sebastiaan Labrie en Froukje Jansen. Uit het jaarverslag van de publieke omroep over 2007 bleek dat Dessing meer verdiende dan de Balkenendenorm.[2] Op 10 februari 2009 maakte Dessing in het radioprogramma van Ruud de Wild bekend dat zij mede onder druk van de publieke opinie met haar werkgever een salarisverlaging van bijna 10 procent, van 190.000 euro naar ca. 170.000 euro, was overeengekomen.[3] In maart 2009 werd bekend dat haar contract niet werd verlengd, vanwege de financiële problemen van de omroep.”
“In 2014 begon Dessing aan de presentatie van het programma Floortje naar het einde van de wereld, met bezoeken aan mensen die op afgelegen plekken over de hele wereld wonen.[6] In mei 2014 won Dessing voor dit programma de BVN Prijs[7] en in 2016 de Gouden Televizier-Ring. In 2015 presenteerde ze voor BNN De Zeven Zeeën, een realityserie dat de beste actievoerder onder tien bekende Nederlanders voor Greenpeace zocht.[8][9] In september 2015 werd Dessing genomineerd voor de Zilveren Televizier-Ster Vrouw.[10] In 2016 reisde Dessing naar Syrië, een land waar ze acht jaar eerder ook al was geweest. In het land ging ze op zoek naar de mensen die ze er toen ontmoette en bezocht ze plaatsen waar ze was geweest voor de tweedelige documentaire Floortje terug naar Syrië.[11] Hiermee won ze in 2017 de ‘Rockie Award’ in de categorie ‘Social & Investigative Issue’ tijdens het Banff World Media Festival in Canada, dat elk jaar gehouden wordt in de Canadese Rocky Mountains.[12]

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MARY CLINTON “unfortunate and counterproductive”

JOSEPH TIMMERMANS “premature and unwise”

Two foreign policy Ministers speaking out on the vote on November the 29th 2012 in the United Nations on upgrading the status of Palestine in the UN. The United States voted Against with 8 other states and The Netherlands was one of the 41 abstention states that did vote neither ‘for’ nor ‘against’, still favouring a new Palestinian state, but along another trajectory. In the end 138 of the 193 states of the United Nations were voting ‘for’ the proposal.

Palestine President Abbas called it “the birth certificate of the reality of the state of Palestine”.

The name of the (new) Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs ‘Timermans’ means ‘carpenter’ in Dutch, and thus my association with the Biblical scenes of ‘Joseph the Carpenter’ who has ‘no voice’ in the scriptures, but is believed to be the one who changes the feeding ‘crib’ in the stable where the Blessed Virgin Mary delivered the Child of God, into a ‘cradle’ for the the new born Son of God.

Palestine, the ‘land of milk and honey’, symbolised by a crib to both feed live-stock and as a warm comfortable nest for a new born to be laid down on a cloth covering the straw: either a Jewish ‘tallit’ (Hebrew: טַלִּית) or a Palestinian ‘kufiya’ (Arabic: كوفية).

Metaphorical questions arise from this imagery. One crib for two infants? Two separate cribs, or a Judgement of Solomon whereby Joseph the Carpenter will be asked to take his saw and split the crib into two? There are other possible readings. Is the Holy Infant single or multiple? If more than one, are they twins, Siamese twins? In the case of twins is there an oldest one, having ‘oldest rights’?

The Israeli ambassador at the United Nations Ron Prosor made an absurd historical claim in his speech: “No decision of the United Nations can break the 4000 year old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel”, trying to overbid his Palestinian competitor.

You need to be a true believer to be convinced that virgins can deliver babies. Still, many Christians, do accept the complicated concept of the ‘immaculate conception’ of Maria herself by her mother and father Saint Joachim and Saint Anne. It rendered her “forever free of sin“ preparing her for the ‘incarnation’ of God in the human form of Jesus Christ. Becoming a mother that remained a virgin.

“And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.

There is a strong association with the long raging clerical debate about the ‘immaculate conception’ of Maria and the ‘incarnation of God’ and the tormented way in which these two “new nations” Palestine and Israel were conceived and fail to establish themselves. They are young national states, each with their own claim of an ancient origin. Their concepts are not so much about what exists already and what could happen from there in real life, but more about believe systems based on an imagined past. Concepts of such ‘imagined communities’ (1) are hardened by differing and warring schools of religious leaders, politicians, archeologists, linguists, historians, lawyers, geographers and anthropologists. All of them massage and shape “their facts” to let them fit “their own view” of  “their own promised land”, mostly neglecting the existing reality of other populations and settlements.

The voting on November the 29th in the UN came 65 years after the proposed partition, of what was then the British Protectorate of Palestine, into two states, one of them Israel. Two years later in 1949 Israel became the 59th member state of the United Nations. At that time the Soviet Union was one of the Great Powers that supported the creation of this new state. There was a lot of opposition and dissatisfaction though from Palestinians, finding themselves -in practice – excluded and expelled. All neighbouring Arab states were against the partition as such, or details of how territory was supposed to be cut up. A whole series of violent clashes, over territory and control, delayed the forming of a Palestinian State, that was finally proclaimed in the year 1988. Pro-Palestine votes were 90 from the then 159 member states of the United Nations in that year.

To use – 24 years later – the word “premature” for a vote on further acknowledging the rights of Palestinians to their own independent state, is best expressed with the Jidish/Dutch word ‘gotspe’, ‘chtuzpah’ in English usage, meaning an ‘aggressive boldness or unmitigated effrontery’.

The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Timmermans did use the word “premature” adding another one “unwise” (in Dutch “ontijdig en onverstandig”) and thus he echoed State Secretary Hilary Clinton with her widely quoted catchwords for the pro-Palestine UN vote: “unfortunate and counterproductive.”

Curiously Timmermans, before he accepted the job as Minister of Foreign Affairs in the new Dutch Government formed in autumn this year, has been actively pledging for a pro-Palestinian position in the Dutch parliament and also on the level of the European Union. He has extensively explained away his change of policy with lots of diplomatic finery, but for most voters on his party the social-democrat PvdA, it simply meant a betrayal of principles.

There are now 131 from 193 UN member states that voted for the upgrading of Palestine position toward a ‘de facto’ independent state. Against were 9 states with Canada, the Czech Republic, Panama, The USA and a series of small USA vassal states in the Pacific.

From the 41 states that chose to abstain from voting there was a big contingent from the European Union. The European Union is now split in two camps when it comes to the tactical view on how to favour a peace process in the Middle East with these ‘twins’ that do not want to fit in the same crib.

In favour: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Cyprus, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Sweden.

Abstentions: Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.

It should be noted that two world powers, other than the United States, China and the Russian Federation, have voted pro-Palestine.

How “unfortunate and counterproductive” the merely symbolic vote for the new Palestine state will be, will not only be determined by the State of Israel. The first reactions of the big loss of support for Israel in the UN were immediately followed by the usual Israeli accusations of “lies” being told by the President of Palestine, and punishing measures: expansion of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land, freezing of tax and other assets in Israel belonging to the Palestinian Authority.

A signal has been given now by the majority of members of the United Nations, that they want to see an end to what has become known as ‘the endless conflict’. It is a signal, not so much to ‘the old warrior guard’ that is leading Israel on the path of ‘no solution’ expressed by the continuous state of ‘low-intensity and asymmetrical war’ with an imprisoned neighbour, but to the Israeli population at large.


A continuous state of ‘low-intensity and asymmetrical war’. for a detailed report the November 2012 Gaza/Israel clashes see the extensive caption for this summarising visual depiction at my Flickr page (2)

Time for Israelis to think up a non-military vision of the future. Time for a new generation of politicians. Politicians that have to differentiate themselves fundamentally from all those who have failed in the past, decade after decade. Time to stop coming up with solutions that generate even more problems, with ‘the wall’ as one of the most obvious examples. Time to reflect on the failures within Israel itself with rampant inequalities and discrimination.


“The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) – Tzahal likes to use quotes from the Scriptures to name their operations. Those familiar with the Scripture would easily understand the meaning of the name “Pillar of Cloud.” According to the book of Exodus, God himself appeared in the form of a pillar of cloud before Jews and accompanied them during their wandering in the desert. Hamas does the same Its latest war against Israel was called “Stones of Baked Clay.” According to the Qur’an, Allah turned the Ethiopian army who invaded Mecca into dust with such stones. Perhaps, Islamists think of their missiles that hit Israel towns as such “stones of baked clay.” This slogan appears on the new logo of Hamas made for their celebration of their 25th birthday as an organisation (lets remember how Israel intelligence forces have had a hand in the creation of Hamas as a method to split up Al Fatah).
The statistics of the relation between number of attacks and casualties on both sides in the conflict is to show how the concept of ‘asymmetrical warfare’ should be understood. A military defeat by the superior forces of Israel, nevertheless, was celebrated as a victory in Gaza City by Hamas with a triumphal parade and a huge stage where the exiled leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, presented himself in front of a stage mockup copy of a long range rocket that is claimed to have been build inside Gaza and is named after it’s range of 75 kilometers. A few these rockets which seem to be based on the Iranian Fajr rockets, have been fired into Israel last November, One landing outside Tel Aviv and another landing in the fields outside of Jerusalem. Note the stage design in Gaza City with a replica of the Wall in Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The same mosque that appears in the Hamas logo.

Time for the Palestinians and their warying camps, to reflect on the failure of decades of militant and military strategies and tactics. Time to go beyond glorifying martyrdom and presenting defeats as victories. Time to allow those Palestinians, who have another vision, at least a voice. To overcome also the repressive violence within the own Gaza and West Bank territories by its own authorities and power groups.


“Stop the Attack on Gaza – Freedom for Gaza” was the slogan of the Dutch ‘Palestina Komittee’ in November 2012. STOP SUPPORTING A STALEMATE SITUATION I WOULD SAY be more intelligent than be used by the hawks, either Israeli or Palestinian ones! STOP wasting your good intentions taking sides for wrong causes. When you want Peace denounce all military and para-military actions. Only 200 or so demonstrators turned up, that was much lower than usual, maybe a sign to the one side partisans to reflect on their future actions

Time – as well – for all those supporters of the Palestinian cause, not to cast a blind eye on the internal and external violence perpetrated, by the leading Palestinian authorities and powers. Time for outsiders to use their special position as outsiders, to go beyond the usual single partisan support and extend it to those in the Israeli camp who seek other than military solutions. (3) Time to recognize that a balance of ‘means’ and ‘ends’ is needed, that drones, jets, rockets and missiles will only bring disaster from whatever camp and for whatever purpose they are fired.

There are NO ‘immaculate states’ in the world, the foundation of each of them has be done to the detriment of those who were discriminated, excluded, expelled, or massacred. The land that forms the body of a state is hardly ever ‘virgin land’ and most states are not ‘new born’ but ‘reborn’: conquered, recaptured, assembled into empires, associated, federated, divided and redivided.

Whence we overcome the shortsightedness of ‘nationalism’ and use real historical perspective we must admit that man is a migratory being and any state in the world proves to be – in the long run – a temporary entity – in spite of a-historical claims of millennia of state-continuity like certain Imperial China and State Zionist, and Inca-Empire reconstruction advocates claim.


Three maps showing partition plans for the Middle East region from the breaking up of the Ottoman Empire and confiscation by Western allied powers in 1916, at first with France, Great Britain, Italy and Russia, the last one falling out because of the turmoil of the Russian Revolution in 1917. The Brits getting Palestine as a protectorate and the subsequent carving up of territories into new – dependent – states, with one of the many maps showing a carving up proposal, between the new states of Israel and Palestine, dating from 1946. These are just three maps of a few thousand, each with their own reason of being drawn. As maps do represent always some kind of intend. There are no objective maps, let alone objective maps that treat history from different viewpoints in an equal way. When one reads through the thousands of partisan web pages pro/contra Israel, pro/contra Palestine now-a-days one always will see some maps coming up and people trying to make their point, or dismiss someone’s argument, all because of a certain map being reproduced. My idea of an Interactive Digital Atlas of all those maps would be hardly possible to make, its editorial committee would fail within a short time, accusations and denunciations would take up all of the time before real work even could have been started.

When we imagine an interactive map of the Middle East showing in layers all the complexities of ethnicity, religion, kingdoms, empires, states, colonies, protectorates, special zones and so on, it will become clear, that choosing any specific historical layer as a model for a future redivision of territory, will produce a chain-reaction of new problems and new violence. (3) Recent examples galore: the split up of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the ethnic cleansing between by Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey, the reemergence of the Balkan conflict, such an overview would be too long a list for this article.

The crib of of Palestine will thus need to be adjusted to give equal place to the two infants. A readjustment not in one big violent reshuffle, but in a constant series of smaller changes, allowing the by now elderly infant-states to accommodate themselves as good as possible in this cramped space.

Re-inhabiting and re-distributing the land and in this process finding more space by breaking down both physical barriers and mental borders.

Can we allow ourselves to see the United Nations as the ‘Holy Family’ that will be so ‘wise’ and ‘fortunate’ to find ways to assist this process?

(1) Benedict Anderson “Imagined Communities – reflection on the origin and spread of nationalism‘; first published in 1983 (the link is for an extended edition published in 2006).
“Finally, a nation is an imagined community because “regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. Ultimately it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die for such limited imaginings.” (p.17) “The fact of the matter is that nationalism thinks in terms of historical destinies, while racism dreams of eternal contaminations, transmitted from the origins of time through an endless sequence of loathsome copulations: outside history. Niggers are, thanks to the invisible tar-brush, forever niggers; Jews, the seed of Abraham, forever Jews, no matter what passports they carry or what language they speak or read. (Thus for the Nazi, the ‘Jewish ‘ German was always an impostor.” Anderson adds this note: “The significance of the mergence of Zionism and the birth of Israel is that the former marks the reimagining of an ancient religious community as a nation, down there among the other nations – while the latter charts an alchemic change from wandering devotee to local patriot.”) (page 136)

(2) 18/11/2012 Tjebbe van Tijen News-Tableaus on Flickr: “Only Self-Defense? ~ Gaza/Israel: Peace Needs other Weapons”

(3) List of Arab-Israeli peace projects on Wikipedia.

(4) G.W. Bowersock “Palestine: Ancient History and Modern Politics” (in “Blaming the Victims – spurious scholarship and the Palestinian Question“; Verso 1988)

“one constantly stumbles over the obstacles thrown up by the deliberate fragmentation of a fundamental unified region. If Palestine, together with Syria to the north, constituted between tem a cohesive and relatively stable area in Roman and Byzantine times, this was, not as some would undoubtedly suspect, because the Romans imposed the structure. They inherited it from the indigenous populations. In taking over Syria well before the Romans annexed Arabia, the Seleucid monarchs did relatively little to alter the cultural and administrative patterns they inherited. And when both Syria and Palestine were firmly within the sphere of Roman and Byzantine influence, the concept of a combined Syria-Palestine as an overall geographical and cultural unity became a reasonable one.” (page 186)
“The fragmentation of recent times has precipitated endless tragedy. Diplomats and negotiators keep hoping that problems can be resolved by carving up pieces to satisfy the various interested parties. (…) In historical perspective the convulsions of the region in the last decade represent a frantic and bloody effort to recapture some of the lost coherence, to restore the natural balance. The Syrian presence in Lebanon, the Israeli invasion of the same nation, not to mention the Israeli seizure from Jordan and Syria, all point to a primordial effort to eliminate, from one side ot the other, the unstable and unwise fragmentation of the area.” (page 187)

I quote Bowerstock just as one of many other examples how each layer of time chosen will generate another perspective on the past and future of this area of the world. Bowerstock published his study “Roman Aarabia” in 1983 with Harvard University Press and he obsreves the difficulty of making such a study not in line with neither the Biblical study tradition, nor the Israeli stae supported archeology for political reasons: “The politics of archeology are everywhere. The late Yigael Yadin was both an eminent archeologist and a political figure. The intermingling of his two carreers is neciely exemplified by the care with which he brought to public attention his discovery of authentic letters of the Jewish rebel Bar Kokhba. These letters survice from the time of the Jewish revolt against Roman rule in the reign of Hadrian.  To a dispassionate eye they scarcely show that famous figure as an inspiring leader (I once called him a pious thug), but nonetheless Yadin was pleased to introduce him to the Israeli public as nothing less than the first president of Israel.(…) Meanwhile, although the Bar Kokhba letters had been given prompt and broad publicity, another discovery made by Yadin and his fellow archeologists has remained unpublished for nearly twenty-five years.” Bowerstock continues to describe that the other letters discovered were less welcome to the archeologist and politician Yadin as they were from a Jewish woman by the name of Babatha who gives another perspective on the once glorified revolt of Bar Kokhba. “It is clear that the relation between Jews and Arabs in the territory south of the Dead Sea was a harmonious one.”  (P.185)

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click picture for full size view



“On the 39th Anniversary of October Liberation War (*), President al-Assad Visits the Martyr’s Monument on Qassyoun Mountain (October 6th 2012)” and there is again almost the same photo reportage as last year and the year before.. as if there is NO war now in Syria to take in account.

On top of a screenshot from this Syrian state agency web page, I have montaged a screenshot of the latest ‘death count’ of the ‘Center for Documentation of Violations in Syria’ (CDVS), of  today October the 7th.

Note the numbers by CDVS fail to give the death count suffered by government related troops and personnel; this in spite of announcing for a month or more that they will do so (**).

The ‘civilian’ and ‘non-civilian’ classification of men that died by CDVS, remains questionable. We can be sure that of the 25.365 ‘civil males’ a fair number from another perspective should be classified as ‘combatants’. Any death, combatant or not, is a tragedy, but we all know that the body count is part of the war games played by all these factions and behind the scene powers, so we can not take the Syria body count at face value.

Absurd it remains this ceremony yesterday with laying a wreath at an eternal burning flame and everybody in clean suits and uniforms, not a stain of blood around, just the blood red of the flowers on the wreath that symbolises the wrath aroused by his regime.

The state news agency SANA in its report tells us:

“Later, President al-Assad laid a wreath on the Martyr’s Monument and recited al-Fatiha along with a number of the senior officials for the souls of the martyrs.

 The ‘Martyr’ and ‘Farewell’ music was played.

 Before leaving, President al-Assad exchanged talk with a number of the martyrs’ sons on the sublime meanings of heroism that the martyrs of the homeland achieved throughout Syria’s history.”

The  war of 1973 being commemorated by Bashar al-Assad – the ‘October Liberation War’/’Yom Kippur War’ of October 1973 – had a total cost of life of approximate 13.000.

The ‘Warfare and Armed Conflicts statistical encyclopedia’ of Micheal Clodfelter (2008 edition) gives a breakdown of this number: Syrian Front 3.500; Egyptian Front 7.700; Israeli 2.838 + 508 Missing In Action. There are no finite numbers of such wars, so Clodfelter also quotes a total of casualties of the Arab forces of 8.528. (page 623)

In short for Syria we are speaking of a number of ‘October Liberation War’ casualties between three and four thousand.

When this number is compared to a total number of casualties of between 28.000 and 30.000 of  insurgency and repression, civil war if you want in Syria for over one year now, the whole martyrs commemoration ceremony of last saturday must have been felt as such a big lie by all attending, that one wonders how they managed to act it out in all the fixed protocol details, set by years of Assad dictatorship. There was no one – I guess – shouting out loud “what a lie”, but this shout must have been resounding in the heads of all attending.

screenshot of CDVS on 7/10/2012 16:45 hrs (NB this page is regularly updated, so this a screen shot documented the state of this date)

screenshot of SANA Syrian government agency made on 7/10/2012 15:00 hrs

click image for full size view

(*) What Syria calls the ‘October War of Liberation’ is called by Israel the ‘Yum Kippur War of 1973’, being the joint attack by Egypt and Syria to regain lost territory they lost to Israel in the ‘Six Day War of 1967’. This attack surprised Israel, that this time had a hard time to fight back. In the end one can say that Israel won the battles, but for the Syrians and the Egyptians it was a seen nevertheless as some sort of honourable victory. The commemoration of this war is especially for Syria a moment of self-assurance and fits in their vision of a Great Syria somewhere in the future without any Israel and with the Palestinians embedded in the new Great Syria.
Just outside of Damascus is a special panoramic museum that glorifies the Syrian army, a gift of comrade Kim Il Sun of North Korea and this happy picture of a united nations of all Syrian ethnicities and religions lead on their way by the greta leader Hafez Assad, father of Bashar.

Hafez Asad hailed by top figures in the military and Baath party, and all sectors of Syrian society.

The museum that certainly will have a hard time to survive the Civil War like situation and its possible aftermath, is documented  (together with its Egyptian sister institute) by Martin Kramer on his Flickr website “October 1973: Panorama and Myopia.”

(**) On the web page of the ‘Center for the Documentation of Violation in Syria’ under the clickable heading si said for a few weeks now the following, but there is no overview of  the “Regime fatalities” mentioned:

New Classifications

The new website classifies victims in two major types, according to the regime authority that committed the crime. Consequently, we have two separate tables and statistics for the revolutions’ martyrs and the regime’s fatalities.

In the first type, “The Revolution’s Martyrs,” there are two sub-classes: Civilian and Non-Civilian. The latter contains information on defected recruits and officers, and Free Syrian Army (FSA) non-military volunteers. Those types of Non-Military victims can be easily differentiated via the “Military Rank” field: if it has a value, the victim is a recruit or an officer. If it does not, the victim is an FSA volunteer.

In the second table, named “The Regime’s Army,” a value in the “Military Rank” field indicates that the fatality was one of a recruit or an officer. If no value is associated, the the fatality is non-military.

source: http://vdc-sy.org/index.php/en/about

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For years I am on the mailing list of the Israeli Peace movement B’Tselem, as I also frequent several Palestinian human rights web sites…and this week there was this instructive Passover discussion manual in my email box from the American section of B’Tselem. It inspired me to make this simple tableau:


You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat matzos (*), the bread of affliction; for in haste did you come forth out of the land of Egypt; that you may remember the day when you came forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life. —Deuteronomy 16:3

Below the text from the B’Tselem email mailing list, just to show another facet of the conflict that is often hidden in over-simplified pro and contra positions. One does not need to fully support these arguments, that is not my reason to post them here, it is important to know that such reasoning and willingness exist. Willingness to overcome the generation long ‘stalemate’ in a land that has for long diverted the streams that channel the ‘flowing of milk and honey’:

Are you tired of your uncle depicting you as the “wicked child” at the Passover Seder table just because you are willing to ask the tough questions about human rights in Israel and the occupied territories? I know I am. But the answer is not to become the “silent child.”

B’Tselem has you covered with some answers. Here are our “four questions” and the answers that will make you the “wise child” at your Passover Seder: (If you are celebrating Easter or just enjoying the early spring, these answers will be helpful too)

1. Why do you call it “occupation”?

There is an international consensus that the territories that were captured by Israel in the Six Day War in 1967, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem, are occupied territories. This is also the US official position under all administrations since 1967. Even according to the Israeli domestic law, the West Bank (or “Judea and Samaria”) excluding East Jerusalem, remains under the sole control of the Israeli military. Only the Israeli military commander via military orders makes law. Any development – be it trash collection or city planning – is done under the authority of the military commander. There are those who claim that the West Bank is a disputed territory. However, there is no dispute that the legal framework, as well as the daily reality governing the West Bank in the last 44 years is one of military occupation.

2. What’s wrong with the settlements?

Despite the fact that international law states that an occupying country is not allowed to transfer its population to an occupied territory, there are over half a million Israelis living beyond the Green Line. The majority of human rights violations in the West Bank are a result of such Israeli enclaves and include extensive exploitation of land and water, massive military presence to protect those Israelis, a network of roads paved to serve them and them only, and the separation barrier, the route of which was largely dictated by the settlements. A radical fringe of settlers remains a source of friction and violence.

3. The Palestinians control their own lives – don’t they have their own government and president?

The Palestinian Authority (PA) was established in 1994 as an interim body – it is not now nor has it ever been a sovereign government. The interim period was supposed to end in 1999 with a permanent status agreement. As a result of the failure to achieve a peace agreement, however, the interim arrangement continues today. In this agreement, Palestinians have control over civil affairs in the 40% of the West Bank that was defined as Areas A and B. Israel retains complete control over the remaining 60% of the West Bank – and security control of the territory as a whole. Because Areas A and B are islands within Area C, Israel controls all movement throughout the West Bank, as well as urban development of the whole territory, the taxation system, the ability to travel abroad, the water resources, and many, many other spheres of life.

Since the 2005 Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and Hamas’s takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, the Israeli military does not have control on the ground in Gaza. However, Israel still largely controls the borders, airspace, and sea access around Gaza, and also its population registry, tightly limiting export-import and the movement of people between Gaza and the West Bank.

4. How can Israel ensure its own security without control over the occupied territories?

No one can deny Israel’s security challenges. The first obligation of a state is to protect its citizens, and Israelis have been subjected to horrific attacks over the years, one particularly terrible attack killed thirty people sitting at the Seder table, in 2002, and injured another 160. Within this difficult reality it is crucial to understand what are necessary and legitimate security measures and where security concerns are exploited to advance other agendas. This is the crucial role of government watchdogs like B’Tselem, which have documented violations of Palestinians’ basic rights by abusing legitimate security measures. In fact, there is no real contradiction between respect for human rights and ensuring security – and both are in the best interest of Israel’s citizens.

So, why is tonight different than any other night? Because tonight, you are leading an honest discussion about the challenges we face in achieving a just and democratic State of Israel. Be an informed part of the discussion. To learn more, read our latest report at http://www.btselem.org. Click here to read my full op-ed in The Times of Israel, “Four Questions About the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.”

Next year in a Jerusalem that protects human rights and complies with its obligations under the law!

Chag sameach and happy spring,

Uri Zaki

Director, B’Tselem USA

(*) For an exposé of the different meanings of the Matzos see this Wikipedia page. I was inspired by these lines: “The other reason for eating matza is symbolic: On the one hand, matza symbolizes redemption and freedom, but it is also lechem oni, “poor man’s bread.” Thus it serves as a reminder to be humble, and to not forget what life was like in servitude. Also, leaven symbolizes corruption and pride as leaven “puffs up”. Eating the “bread of affliction” is both a lesson in humility and an act that enhances the appreciation of freedom.”

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I have a hard time understanding the aerial combat over Israel and Gaza. What is the idea of the Palestinian brigades to fire their low tech rockets to penetrate the Iron Shield protected area of Israel? 90% of such rockets – it is said – are now destroyed in mid air by the the Israeli defence system, whereas the people in Gaza have no defence whatsoever against incoming retaliation bombardments from the endless military arsenal of Israel. The picture with the dog in the foreground and the smoke trail of the Israeli anti-rocket system intercepting a Gaza-strip fired rocket, was taken on Saturday the 9th of April 2011 in the field near Ashkelon in Israel with the following command: “Nicole was out walking her dogs when she heard the distant siren and the booms. In the fields there is nowhere to hide, so she just watched the Iron Dome shooting the rocket out of the sky, leaving a puff and white smoke trail.” (3)

I need two arms and two fingers to point at all those despicable missile launchers. The only ones gaining from this ‘iron brains game’ is the weapon industry that uses the territories of Israel and Gaza as a testing grounds for the most advanced military products as is summarised in these visuals from trade brochures…

More than one hundred rockets fired from Gaza at Israeli territory, 6 Israelis’s wounded, retaliation attacks on Gaza 21 dead (March 12, 2012). There must be an immense hatred for all those ‘iron brains’ launching their explosive devices, from whatever side, for whatever ideological or security claim. But, who can earnestly express such a view, either in Israel or Gaza?

click picture for link to information source as shown below: al-akhbar.com

<quote>Wounded Palestinian children are seen in a hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, after an Israeli airstrike 12 March 2012. (…) Israeli airstrikes killed an additional three people in the Gaza Strip overnight, including a teenage boy, bringing the total death toll to 21 after three days of attacks on the Hamas-controlled territory.</quote>

 <quote>”A drone strike hit a group of students who were walking by empty land on their way to school,” he told AFP, saying six others had been injured, two of whom were in critical condition. The latest killings came after another schoolboy, 12-year-old Ayoub Assaleya, was killed in an Israeli airstrike on a predominantly civilian neighborhood on Sunday in the Jabalya refugee camp, according to medics. His seven-year-old cousin was injured in the attack and taken to Kamal Adwan hospital in Jabalya, north Gaza.</quote>

 <quote>Earlier, the Israeli army said that it had targeted a “terrorist squad” preparing to fire rockets from northern Gaza. It also confirmed a direct hit on “two rocket launching sites, in the northern Gaza Strip, used by terror organizations.” Gaza militants have responded to Israeli airstrikes with more than 100 rockets since Friday, injuring six Israelis, one of them seriously. Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees said it had fired rockets and mortars into Israel on Friday and Saturday.</quote>

Notes, pictures with their original caption, click pictures to see original context of images:

(1) “Masked Palestinian militants from Islamic Jihad run with homemade rockets to put in place before later firing them into Israel on the outskirts of Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008. (AP Photo/Ashraf Amra)”

(2) “A battery of Iron Dome anti-aircraft missile launches from the town of Ashdod, Israel, Palestine to intercept a missile. / EFE”

(3) “Nicole’s dog Heidi and the Iron Dome defense system in action in the background.”

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The backdrop of the policy for Libya and Syria by European Union and associated NATO countries is always painted with oil. (1) British/Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, French Total,  CNPC from China and ONGC of India are main investors in Syrian crude oil and gas. (2)


His Excellency President Al-Assad described his talks with President Sarkozy as ‘very successful”, ‘constructive” ”transparent” and as ”bolstering the confidence built between Syria and France”, ”dealing with many international as well as regional issues, bilateral relations, the Iranian nuclear file, the recent positive developments in Lebanon, particularly following the formation of the Lebanese Government, which we expect to be an important step for the stability in Lebanon.” (…) ”The talks, further, dealt with the situation in Gaza from a human perspective; I asked President Sarkozy to interfere as to stop the daily killing of the Palestinians by the Israel Army,” said H.E. President Al-Assad citing today’s killing of a Palestinian citizen.

 “… discovery of treasure, a huge oil and gas in the basin of the Mediterranean is estimated reserves to 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 107 billion barrels of oil.”

SYRIAN OIL AND GAS NEWS: Announcement for International Offshore Bid Round 2011 Category: Oil Ministry Decisions & Declarations | Posted on: 30-03-2011 The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and General Petroleum Corporation (GPC) invite international petroleum companies for an International Bid Round to explore, develop and produce petroleum from three offshore blocks in some areas of the territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone of the Syrian Arab Republic in the Mediterranean Sea according to the production sharing contract.The announcment contains three marine areas ( block I, block II, blockIII) with covarage area estemated by 3000 cubic kilometers per one block. the annoncement date starts in 24/3/2011 for six monthes and closed on 5/10/2011.The modern American studies recently confirmed the discovery of treasure, a huge oil and gas in the basin of the Mediterranean is estimated reserves to 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 107 billion barrels of oil. (4)

(1) oilprice.com 14/4/2011: “Oil Production Figures in Areas of Unrest (Middle East & North Africa)”

(2) royaldutrchshellplc.com 3/12/2011: “E.U. sanctions force Shell to leave Syria.”

(3) www.presidentassad.net: Presidents Al-Assad/ Frnace visit statements (13/11/2009)

(4)  Syrian Oil and Gas News; 8/2/2010:International announcement for developing 7 oil field in Arraqah

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Images courtesy of Syrian Arab News Agency:
– 2012-01-31 President al-Assad Visits Army and Security Wounded Members at Martyr Yousef al-Azmeh Hospital in Damascus
2010-12-30 President al-Assad Participates in Afforestation Campaign

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WORLD NEWS ON THE CHEAP like yesterday a Dutch crew of the television news (NOS/NTR Nieuwsuur) in Egypt doing ‘street interviews’ and proving that the support for the Egypt Revolution is faltering with two third of those interviewed speaking some form of English and only one or two questions posed in Arabic, whereby it remains unclear who is posing the question.

Gone are the days of a correspondent in Cairo for the Arab world, gone are the days of at least having a journalist speaking Arabic being part of a crew, gone is any historical knowledge on the part of the journalists, at best a quick check of Wikipedia before leaving or in the hotel room…. as a multi-cultural nation it is a shame that the Netherlands have not been able to train and recruit a group of say Moroccan young students to become journalists for events in the Arabic world….

“Who speaks English here?” asks the camera crew on Tahrir Square in Cairo untill they bump into a man that does not like the way they are filming… and when people on the street might return the question to them  (hal tatakallam al-lughah al-‘arabīyah?) هل تتكلم اللغة العربية؟, the Dutch journalists of the crew fail to understand.

There seems to have been a translator with the crew, but  the position of the translator remains unclear. The tiny bit of Arabic we hear spoken from the side of the crew seems clumsy, was it a Dutch Arabic speaker or a locally rented service. If the last thing is the case, how much embedded is this translator in the Egyptian state media, how does the translator relates to the political spectrum of Egypt, how were the choices of who to speak to made?

The clumsiness of the reportage is at times embarrassing, but fully in line with the cheap glamour of the Nieuwsuur television studio in the Netherlands and the anchor woman waving her hairs while posing question to the crew in Cairo to enlighten the Dutch audience.

Nieuwsuur (NOS/NTR) reporter Jan Eikelboom explains how he found out that the Egyptian revolution is faltering on the basis of "hear say" from the streets, speaking with shopkeepers in the bazars, tourist entrepreneurs and a man at the Cairo stock exchange, they outcome of these talks are of course fully predictable, as all these people see their business frustrated by the social unrest. Shopkeepers, tourist workers and a broker can of course not stand as a representative group for Egyptian society as a whole... but the Dutch crew clearly had no access to other social layers.

(19':50'') Dutch captions for a tourist entrepreneur in Giza interviewed in English: "I do not know what those people want. It is not good for us, we are working with tourists"

(20':38'') Dutch captions for an interview in English. "On the square they say: We want peace." Actually the reporter says not 'peace' but 'freedom'... sloppy translator there, at the NOS/NTR... The over-generalized question may have been posed in English by Jan Eikelboom and the answer is as general as the question: "...freedom will come, but slowly."


Source = http://beta.uitzendinggemist.nl/afleveringen/1116886

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Some side images of the killing of Gaddafi near Sirte, of the alleged bombing by NATO of a retreating/escaping convoy of Gaddafi (*), reminded me of the Highway Of Death in Kuwait in 1991, the bombarding of retreating Iraqi troops… a massacre not only of soldiers and their equipment but also of civilians related to the Iraqis that tried to make their way out of Kuwait City. Kicking your adversary in the ass… there is a ‘virtual black book of military history’ to which a page seems to have been added by NATO. Do you let your enemy escape or will you destroy him? What are the long lasting effects of such non glorious  military acts of revenge on an enemy that has lost or is about to loose. Is there art in ‘the bombing of retreating troops’?

The pictures I choose are not the most gruesome that exist. The Kuwait highway bombing photographs include charcoaled faces of  people burnt alive by the aerial strike, images that have burnt themselves in my memory as a reminder that ‘the art of surrender’ is a much more noble art that should be exercised by the troops of our European nations. We need a civilian campaign on how war is conducted.

There is not enough public scrutiny on NATO military strategies. The critical level of reporting in the news of war events remains often 19th century imperial, rejoicing in what is thought to be ‘a victory for the good of the human race’. The NATO involvement in this last phase of the Libyan war seems to be completely out of line with their mandate based on the UN resolution that asks to bring to court the Libyan head of state Gaddafi, not to kill him or have him killed without a trial.

Let me give one example of historical back firing: the massacre of the retreating Croatian troops of the fascist regime of Ante Pavelic in May 1945, near the town of Bleiburg at the Slovenian/Austrian border by partisan troops (40/50.000 killed). This negative event has remained a rallying point for Croatian nationalist ever since and played its nasty role in the much later enfolding new Balkan War at the end of the 20th century..

*) Mail on-line gruesome photographs, scroll down the page for the vehicles bombed out by NATO photograph

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Pictures of tanks advancing on Hama and demonstrations in that town of these last days.

‎”Syrian tanks storm the city of Hama”
I read today and the mere name of that haunted town makes me shiver, as tens of thousands of people were massacred there in the year 1982 on orders of Assad Senior, the death toll ranges between 20 and 40 thousands. A genocide forgotten – some say – a political mass-murder would be a more apt classification. The movie below commemorates the 1982 ordeal of Hama in Syria.


The well documented Syrian Human Rights Committee has this report on the 1982 Hama Massacre: http://www.shrc.org/data/a​spx/d5/2535.aspx

Infringements on human rights in Syria have been documented for decades by organisations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. This has not led the ‘international community’ to take any serious action against the Assad regime. The Assad dynasty is a stabilising power in the region, as was the Egypt of Mubarak. The fate of Syrian citizens is judged as being less important than the Middle East Entente.

Also the International Criminal Court in The Hague – sadly enough – is more lead by the geo-politics of its constituent states, than by the rule of international law. Whereas the UN Security Council asked the ICC to research whether the Libyan government should be indicted for its threats to the civilian population. No such actions have been taken against the Syrian government of Assad Junior. The balance of power in the Middle East is more important than the balance of international justice. Or will the attack of tanks on demonstrating citizens of the town of Hama make the bascule of justice move to its proper position?

Of the 139 states that have signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, 34 have not ratified the treaty, Syria is one of them.

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