Latest Israeli Provocation in Jerusalem

On Friday, three Palestinians and three Israelis died after the Netanyahu Administration infringed the status quo of the Temple Mount by installing metal detectors and banning Palestinian men under the age of fifty from entering the holy site.

Thousands of Palestinians were gathered in the area when Israeli security forces began to use force against the demonstrators, who responded by throwing stones at police.

In an ‘attempt to control the situation,’ numerous Israeli policemen used tear gas, water cannons, and fired real bullets randomly against the demonstrators, causing the death of three of them, and injuring hundreds more.

The demonstrations spread rapidly to Gaza and the West Bank, where a young Palestinian stabbed three Israelis to death in revenge for Netanyahu’s decision to violate a Muslim holy place.

Abbas announced, “the suspension of contacts with Israel on all levels and the suspension of coordination until all the measures currently being taken at al-Aqsa mosque are stopped.”

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres issued statements condemning both incidents. He called “on all to refrain from any actions or words that could further escalate an already volatile situation.”

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said, reporters, that “ultimately, what is important is for all of the people at the holy sites, including all the worshipers at the holy sites, to feel that their religious freedoms are being respected.”

On Saturday, Netanyahu said that the metal detectors will remain at the entrance of the Temple Mount, despite the fact that numerous advisors had recommended their removal. They also believe that Netanyahu’s unilateral action will worsen the Palestine-Israeli conflict, leading to unpredictable consequences.

Despite the different versions of the facts, many still believe that the second intifada began in September 2000 when Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount, seen by Palestinians as desecration and which has resulted in the death of thousands of Palestinians and Israelis.

The Temple Mount is one of the holiest places in Islam and in Judaism. According to Judaism, this is the place where God’s divine presence is manifested more strongly than at any other holy site. For Muslims, the site is one of the first places where God was worshiped. They believe it was from here that the Prophet Muhammad ascended to the “Divine Presence” on the back of a winged horse.

Over the last few years, the Palestinians have accused PM Netanyahu of planning to build a Third Temple on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, which is currently illegal under Israeli law. However, Netanyahu’s coalition with the far right-wing leader Avigdor Lieberman, who supports the construction of the new Jewish temple in the compound has many Palestinians concerned that Netanyahu will soon change the law in order to allow it.

Several international human rights organizations have said that the current situation in Jerusalem has deteriorated to the point that if it does not soon improve a new uprising may occur.

Some have suggested that Netanyahu and Lieberman are intentionally instigating the current increase in violence in Jerusalem with the intention of using it as a pretext to occupy the Temple Mount compound and expand what many consider to be their ethnic cleansing operations in Palestine.

The international community, however, has yet to condemn PM Netanyahu’s actions, which are currently illegal under Israeli law.

Over the next several weeks, several countries will likely be involved in the conflict. Until then, more incidents, which could occur in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as well as in Jerusalem, are expected.

 

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One Year after Turkey’s Failed Coup Attempt, the Purge Continues

One year after the failed coup in Turkey, the situation in the country has worsened significantly and Erdogan has begun a transition from ”democracy” to dictatorship, backed by fanatical supporters willing to die for him.

Taking advantage of this situation, Erdogan has criminalized and jailed all critical voices by linking them to the coup and Fethullah Gülen’s movement, who is considered the coup’s mastermind by Erdogan.

To that end, Erdogan has detained 118,235 people, arrested 55,927, including 269 journalists, sacked 138,148 people, including some 4,424 judges and prosecutors, and around 9,000 teachers, and has also shut down 2,099 schools, dormitories, and universities, and 149 media outlets. The co-leaders of the second-largest opposition party in the Parliament are also in prison.

More recently, Erdogan has detained eight human rights defenders, Amnesty International’s Turkey Director Idil Eser and two international trainers on the absurd suspicion of being members of an ‘armed terrorist organization.’

In the aftermath of the failed coup attempt, Erdogan believed he would be able to keep Turkish society united behind his authoritarian project while directing a purge against the opposition and critics.

However, his authoritarian actions, like the rigged constitutional referendum to grant super powers to him in April, and the increasing repression against anyone who criticizes him have divided Turkish society to levels never seen before.

Numerous voices have arisen across the country stating that Erdogan could have directed last year ‘s failed coup attempt against himself to have a pretext to install a dictatorship, extend his mandate, and get rid of the most prominent opposition leaders who could have disputed his leadership of the country.

Erdogan administration has not yet proven the link between Gulen and the failed coup. And Erdogan’s claims that the coup was organized without his knowledge by hundreds of thousands of people during more than a decade is absurd.

Keeping a secret in a small group for years is hard, and it is impossible to do among hundreds of thousands of people, especially while Erdogan was leading the country and had many of his supporters infiltrated in all governmental institutions.

World precedents show that, at first stages, coup d’États are always organized by a small number of people until things are up and running and people see that the coup can succeed. This is then when a large number of people join the project.

Despite the fact that Erdogan is installing a dictatorship and jailing teachers, judges, and journalists on a regular basis, the Western world is still endorsing him and indirectly his actions.

Numerous European leaders have suggested that Merkel keep a “friendly” position with Erdogan due to the fact that the EU and Turkey have an agreement on immigration, which prevents thousands of immigrants and refugees from entering the EU annually. And Erdogan has suggested that he could break this pact, causing a flood of immigration in Europe.

Trump has also venerated and congratulated Erdogan for overweening superpowers in the constitutional referendum in April. Trump, who has also shown to be an authoritarian, speaks the same language as Erdogan. And unless this affects the US, he appears to be willing to allow Erdogan to install a dictatorship in Turkey.

With the endorsement of the Western world, this coming year will be harder than the previous one in Turkey. Erdogan will continue deploying his superpowers, repressing the Turks, firing thousands of teachers, judges, and will continue his purge against the opposition, human rights activists and the independent media.

Unless the international community led by Trump and Merkel take action to stop Erdogan’s authoritarian drift, hundreds of thousands of innocents will soon suffer the devastating consequences of Erdogan’s actions.

Although initially the US and the EU will not help the Turks reinstating democracy in Turkey, the firm determination of the Turkish opposition to challenge Erdogan and bring back democracy to the country will cause tensions, and if as predicted, Erdogan reacts by using force against millions of peaceful people, the US and the EU will have to decide then between allowing this to happen or intervening to return the power back to the Turkish people.

As usual, the future of the Turks will be in Western world’s hands, and perhaps, this time, they will not make the same mistakes made previously in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, by choosing to defend democrats instead of villains.

U.S. Strike on Syria

On Thursday night, Donald Trump directed a strike against a Syrian military airbase, which targeted fighter planes, ammunition bunkers, radars, and petroleum storage. The Syrian regime said that the attack killed 7 soldiers and wounded 3.

In a brief press conference, Trump assured the American public that the strike was in retaliation for the last chemical attack against innocent civilians in Khan Sheikhoun in north-western Syria, which caused as many as 80 casualties, including many children.

Despite the fact that the UN could not reliably determine the accountability of the Syrian regime over the chemical attack, the U.S. government and the mainstream media launched a campaign to accuse them.

Ignoring the resolution of the UN, the NATO and other allies expressed their support for the strike and said that it was proportional. On the other hand, the Russian government condemned the attack and said that the U.S. is helping terrorists on the ground. Furthermore, the Russian Army announced the cessation of its communications with the U.S. in Syria and reiterated its support for the Syrian regime.

48 hours after the strike, in a joint statement, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, and several local militias said that the U.S. had crossed the line and that the next time they will respond with force. According to this coalition, there are many reasons to think that the U.S. wants to exert utter control over Syria due to its geolocation.

Despite their many lies, Russia and the U.S. have committed several war crimes in Syria. For years, the U.S. has bombed civilians and assisted rebel groups with ties to terrorist organizations, which have killed thousands of innocents. And Russia has supported the Syrian regime, which has also killed thousands of innocent civilians.

Everyone still remembers, when in 2003, at an assembly of the UN, the then U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, assured that the Iraqi government had WMD, which could soon cause carnage in the region and perhaps worldwide. As a result, the international community created a coalition to invade Iraq, which caused as many as 1 million of deaths. It was not until after some years that the international community found out that the CIA deliberately fabricated that story to intervene in Iraq.

By attacking Syria, Trump has gained as much popularity as Bush did during the Iraqi invasion. Since the strike, the mainstream media, including the most critical such as CNN, and The New York Times have praised Trump’s military action and elevated him as an excellent President.

It is deeply troubling that Trump has found out the key to gain popularity. Due to his incapacity to govern the country, it appears that he will launch more military interventions in countries such as North Korea and Iran.

It is important to remember that for years, Donald Trump suggested that Obama’s intervention in Syria was a political move to gain popularity. However, he is now adopting the same ploy. Fortunately for everyone, he could not delete his past tweets and here there is a sample of them:

Screenshot from 2017-04-08 13-55-13Screenshot from 2017-04-07 23-10-42

Despite the complexity of the Syrian conflict, this will only end when all parties negotiate a realistic resolution. Apparently, Trump is not willing to do so, but a strong antiwar movement may force him (like in the past with previous administrations) to step back in his bellicose decisions.

While the U.S. antiwar movement is organizing to become stronger, Trump is deploying warships, and troops in the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula. Over the next months, the world will observe whether the antiwar movement succeeds or Trump causes chaos everywhere.

 

Donald Trump: The War on Terror

From the outset of his presidency, Donald Trump has appeared to be willing to follow in the footsteps of previous presidencies in the “war on terror.” His cabinet has started to hammer out an international plan which, once approved will give green light to the U.S. military forces deployed in the Middle East to direct air strikes on civilian areas in the name of killing terrorists.

Despite his many promises and oaths, Obama embraced Bush’s military strategy to fight terrorism, and endow the JSOC (Joint Special Operations Commands) with the capability of operating undercover in countries such as Pakistan and Iraq with absolute immunity. The JSOC often targeted innocent civilians (including children) causing a real massacre in the region.

Emulating the legacy of previous administrations, and during his first week in the white house, Trump directed a fatal raid in Yemen, which jeopardized the lives of several members of the American special forces, and caused the death of Chief Petty Officer William and 30 civilians, including the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born “radicalized” leader who was killed in a drone strike in 2011.

During his first intervention at the Congress, Trump vehemently used the death of Officer William to make propaganda and reaffirm that the fatal raid in Yemen was necessary to protect the country against terrorists.

Far from stopping his acts of barbarism, Trump recently announced the deployment of 1000 additional soldiers to Syria. In addition, Trump has ordered the U.S. military commanders in Syria to escalate their operations in civilian areas to target and kill terrorists.

The tragedy came swiftly, on March 17, when the US-led coalition directed an air strike in a residential area in West Mosul (controlled by ISIL.), which slaughtered as many as 200 civilians. That was preceded by the killing of dozens of civilians in a school in Raqqa province where refugees were being sheltered, which itself was preceded by the US-led destruction of a mosque near Aleppo that also killed dozens.

Because of these atrocities, a large pool of U.S. commanders announced an investigation to establish accountability for the above-mentioned carnage against innocent civilians in Mosul.

“We have an investigation going on, but our initial assessment… shows we did strike in that area; in fact there were multiple strikes in that area, so is it possible that we did that? Yes, I think it is possible,” Lt. Stephen Townsend told reporters Tuesday.

“Because we struck in that area, I think there’s a fair chance that we did it.”

Unfortunately, several U.S. soldiers and commanders justified the lethal air strike, which caused so many deaths, alleging that since ISIL uses civilians to shield then the air strikes are justified because it is more important to kill terrorists.

Later on, numerous civilians fearful of reprisal expressed their concerns, and asked the authorities if there was any justification for bombing innocent civilians who are denigrated, mistreated, tortured, and raped on a regular basis by the most inhumane terrorist group on earth.

It is worth recalling that the international law prohibits the targeting and bombing of civilians. The deliberate assassination of civilians constitutes a war crime, and essentially if someone commits it, he or she is liable to face prosecution at the International Court. However, the world’s most powerful countries do not bear any legal responsibility for their crimes since they control the very organizations which investigate war crimes.

Another concerning fact is Trump’s struggle to re-establish the network of U.S. secret military prisons to torture terrorists and civilians worldwide. Several experts argue that torture programs are ineffective in fighting terrorism. Most of the prisoners who are tortured on a regular basis are likely to incriminate themselves to stop the physical and mental suffering.

Under Bush’s presidency, the U.S. unjustly targeted and jailed thousands of innocents civilians for years. Once out of the White House, Bush acknowledged some of his mistakes, although it does not exempt him from the war crimes that he committed during his presidency.

By unjustly killing thousands of innocent civilians, Trump will never annihilate terrorism. On the contrary, it will be used for terrorists as a propaganda tool to convince and persuade citizens that the U.S. is the real enemy of the Middle East.

The defeat of Islamic terrorism will only come when the international community shows citizens of the Middle East that they are there to help them. However, it is unlikely to happen since Trump could have several conflicts of interest in the Middle East.

During the last presidential campaign, Trump announced that if he became President, he would then try to take control of petroleum production in the Middle East, and this fact will undermine his efforts to build trust with the citizens.

While I am writing this piece, Trump is probably planning his next move in the Middle East. Or perhaps a deadly strike is being directed against defenseless civilians causing carnage in Syria or Iraq. What is certain is that the international media will be waiting for the next fatal event, and the international community, as usual, will lean on global superpowers and do nothing to stop the massacre in the Middle East.

 

 

 

 

Republicans and Democrats: The Hypocritical Team

Since its beginnings, Wikileaks has aroused both hatred and veneration among its followers and detractors as much as any other worldwide organization. However, what is most striking is that a large number of these people, including Donald Trump and the U.S. Democratic Party, have changed their opinions about Wikileaks several times over the last few years, revealing a high degree of hypocrisy.

In 2010, after Wikileaks published hundreds of thousands of classified documents and videos provided by Chelsea Manning, President Trump said:

“WikiLeaks is disgraceful, there should be like the death penalty or something.”

At the time of the above statement, Trump was often criticizing Wikileaks and its staffers. However, during the last Presidential campaign, Trump changed his mind, and started to praise Wikileaks’ work while encouraging the group to continue disclosing secrets related to John Podesta and Hillary Clinton. He also suggested that Wikileaks was the most reliable media organization in the world.

On Tuesday, Wikileaks disclosed the largest leak of classified CIA documents to date, exposing that the CIA had been hacking electronic devices for surveillance in mass, even abroad  (including the techniques used to break said electronic devices).

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said:

“While I don’t want to get into confirming or denying this particular thing, I think it is interesting that — how different subjects are approached. People immediately began rushing to question this, and expressed that there should be a lot more coverage going on.This alleged leak should concern every single American in terms of the impact it has on our national security.”

“It’s interesting how there’s sort of a double standard with when the leaks occur, how much outrage there is,” Spicer observed, referring to internal leaks which have plagued the Trump campaign in the media.

“The idea that we are having these ongoing disclosures of national security and classified information should be something that everybody is outraged over in this country,” he added.

About the specific WikiLeaks accusations, he said: “You know all of these occurred under the last administration. That is important. All of these alleged issues.”

“There’s a big difference between disclosing John Podesta’s Gmail accounts, about a back and forth and his undermining of Hillary Clinton, and his thoughts of her on a personal nature and the leaking of classified information.”

Spicer also suggested that the U.S. will prosecute all those who are behind the latest disclosures, including any Wikileaks staffers. He added that Trump’s concerns likely stem from the threats that the information could pose to national security.

Spicer’s statements revealed that President Trump has changed his opinion about Wikileaks again, demonstrating that the President only considers his personal interest. When Wikileaks was revealing secrets favorable to his campaign, it was the best journalistic organization ever, but when it does the same to governmental institutions during his term, the group suddenly turns into a criminal organization.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Democratic Party and its supporters have gone through the same mental gymnastics. During Manning’s disclosures, most liberals and Democrats officials supported Wikileaks amidst Manning’s leaks, because they saw the organization as one exposing the truth of government corruption. However, during the last presidential campaign, most of the Democrats decided to change their opinion about Wikileaks and its founder, alleging that they were colluding with Russia to help Trump win the election.

As if that were not enough, after the last Wikileaks disclosure, a large number of Democrats (including those who suggested that Wikileaks was colluding with Russia) have changed their minds again and now think that Wikileaks is a reliable and honorable organization.

These extreme changes expose how a large number of people easily change their minds in relation to their own interests. Most of them lack critical thinking and are susceptible to being manipulated by both political parties and the media, though the end is the same: none of them are able to stand by either their convictions or their words.

The truth is that Wikileaks has published several countries’ governmental secrets for a decade. During all this time, it has never changed its editorial staff (most of the editors have been working at the organization for years), and it operates in the same exact way.

Wikileaks has allowed people from all over the world to know about governmental corruption, and that the CIA has conducted surveillance programs to spy on everyone all the worldwide. Thanks to that, people now have the opportunity to act in order to protect their privacy against these governmental threats. 

Wikileaks is not the real problem in our society; governments and politicians who manipulate their citizens on a regular basis are. In addition, the American political system is completely obsolete and should change to make it harder for politicians to adopt megalomaniac behaviors. The system should allow organizations such as Wikileaks to freely operate because it just exposes the truth about governmental corruption. Those who are not corrupt do not have to fear anything from Wikileaks.

The lack of critical thinking in a global society is troubling since it makes it harder for people to know what is real or not. Instead, it pushes them to blindly believe what their governments say to them. For that reason, we can observe sudden changes in people’s minds in short periods of time. In order to prevent this, the education system should change by teaching students how to think critically.

When people try to change the education system to develop critical thinking skills, both Republicans and Democrats will strongly oppose it to continue manipulating their citizens, which guarantees the continued  misconduct and political corruption in all layers of government.

Wikileaks Revelations Expose How the CIA Wants to Destroy Everyone’s Privacy

On Tuesday, Wikileaks published 8,761 documents revealing how the CIA hacks Samsung TVs, computers, phones and cars to spy on civilians all over the world. A CIA team created a new program capable of infecting the above-mentioned devices, turning them into microphones ready to collect information on their owners, even when the devices are apparently off.

Once the device is infected, the CIA can bypass the encryption on apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal by using phones programmed with Google’s Android and IOS platforms to collect audio and message traffic before encryption is applied. Further, infected devices to the controlling agent the user’s current(geographic) location, audio and text communications as well as discreetly operate the phone’s camera and microphone.”

According to Wikileaks, each technique the CIA has created ‘forms a “fingerprint” that can be used by forensic investigators to attribute multiple different attacks to the same entity’.

A troubling piece of information is that, According to Wikileaks, the aforementioned cyber weapons were compromised and the tools are likely to be in the hands of criminals and foreign intelligence agencies.

As if that weren’t enough, the release also suggests that the U.S. consulate in Germany is in fact a secret American base. Apparently, most of the workers at the Consulate are undercover hackers that regularly collect information on Europeans, Africans, and Middle EasternersIt suggests that there could be many other secret hacking bases in unsuspected places worldwide.

A curious discovery from the disclosure is that the CIA had hidden its operations trying to appear as if they were Russian hackers.Moreover, when it has often been suggested that the Russian government interfered in the last election to help Trump winthis suggests that CIA agents might have fabricated part of that story.

Experts who have started to analyze Wikileaks revelations said they appeared legitimate. They added that the release was the biggest in the CIA’s history.

Wikileaks has a long history of publishing authentic documents that have been leaked from government agencies, corporations, and powerful individuals.

When asked, a CIA spokesperson said:

“We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents.”

Wikileaks announced that this is the first in a series of documents to be published which will cover the CIA’s full suite of hacking tools.

“We need to know if the CIA lost control of its hacking tools, who may have those tools, and how do we now protect the privacy of Americans… The potential privacy concerns are mind-boggling,” he said.

With this disclosure, Wikileaks has exposed how vulnerable we all are. Snowden’s disclosure exposed that the CIA had the capability to monitor and record conversations on the Internet and by phone. It also exposed the collaboration between the CIA and the biggest phone and computing companies by sharing data to spy on civilians. However, yesterday’s disclosure goes beyond this collaboration; the CIA can now spy on anyone through a broad spectrum of electronic devices. This disclosure indicates that, in the current technological era, there are few options to prevent such an espionage, removing any sort of privacy from people’s lives.

Privacy is important because it allows us to think as we please without any external manipulation. Without it, no one can develop critical thinking mind, which is central to becoming the owner of their life. People are all at risk of falling into a “vegetative state” in which people will passively accept everything told by their governments. One wants to believe that this phase is still far away, but if these surveillance methods are not phased out soon, we will reach a point of no return.

It is a fact that there is already a wide spectrum of journalists and citizens who are influenced by third parties. The way they investigate; act, or use the Internet is determined by the fear of being under surveillance. 

When critics thought that “1984” by George Orwell was just a fantasy novel, they were wrong. It is true that our society is not yet in the situation depicted therein, but no one can deny that there are many parallels and unless the CIA indefinitely suspends its surveillance programs, within a decade or two, everyone will be very tightly controlled by their government in all circumstances, even in those places without any electronic devices.

While we wait for the second part of the Wikileaks revelations, we should all think about what kind of world we want to build for future generations and start thinking about how to fight back to better protect their privacy.

Organizing to Resist Threats to Our Rights

Ongoing political degradation and the rise of bigoted movements in western countries such as the U.S., France, and the Netherlands represent a real threat to our democracy. Its birthplace can be found in the U.S where President Trump has launched his personal crusade against immigration, women, LGBT, and human rights. 

In addition to that, Marine Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands could soon both follow Trump’s steps as heads of their respective governments. Both have expressed their intent to target immigration and human rights if they win the next elections. They have aslo called on the international community to unite to create an international coalition to spread their ideas worldwide. Such a coalition could be catastrophic, since it would eliminate the rights that our ancestors achieved through decades of fighting.

As a result of all of this, there is clear evidence that, in the near future, bigotry will continue increasing to levels not seen in decades. It is in this context that we cannot wait any longer to unite and organize to resist these threats. For that reason, I suggest we start working to create a new inclusive organization to lead the resistance in western countries. It would fight back against any threat to our society regardless of political orientation.

In most cases, people tend to associate resistance against xenophobia with the Democrats in the U.S and Social Democrats in Europe. Both are supposed to be left organizations which defend the working and the middle class. However, their ties with the so-called establishment backed by previous administrations invalidate them from fighting xenophobic populism.

The resistance against bigoted movements must be broad and target xenophobic leaders, but also those who are acting indecorously by helping bigots such as Trump to win elections in their countries. For that reason, it is not possible to build an effective resistance, settled with old generations of unpopular Democrats (US) and Social Democrats (EU) leaders.

The alternative must come from those who have never represented any political party, instead, it should come through a new organization, which should represent all those minority groups who have been ignored in western countries for decades. It should come from below. Yet it is crucial that we know what this broad movement is for, as well as what it is against.

Under the existing context, a generation of true right defenders are leaving traditional political parties such as Democrats in the U.S., and Socialist Parties all across Europe. They are engaged in a process which causes divisions in their parties and finally, are forced to leave if they want to keep their convictions up. Unfortunately, after they leave their political parties, these brilliant minds feel betrayed and do not want to join any other project since they all seem very similar to each other.

Further, in just a few months, thousands of citizens from all over western countries have started to become interested in politics since they understand that it really impacts in their lives somehow. They are very energetic and want to protect their rights, but they have never participated in any political organization or movement, and they do not know how to do it.

For that reason, we need to start working to create a new inclusive organization to attract either, the millions of citizens from the working and middle classes who are interested in organizing a resistance, and those disenchanted brilliant minds who already left traditional political parties.

During the creation of this organization, there should be intense debate about who is allowed to take leadership positions. In my opinion, if this organization wants to repair the damage that has been caused by traditional political parties during decades, it should limit the participation of those who have ever had positions in other political parties or who have represented them. However, since this platform needs to be inclusive, I think it should discuss with them so we can learn how to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

As mentioned, there will soon be many challenges to confront, and unless we are ready, we will lose our freedoms. So let’s organize and resist these threats. Your contribution could determine the future of our global democracy and liberties. To that end, I am calling on you to share this as many times as you can with your contacts to begin an important discussion about the creation of such an organization.

If you are interested in this project contact me at: josepgoded@riseup.net