LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation For
Galatians 04/01-31: "What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them. It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you. My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you! Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise. These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written: “Be glad, barren woman, you who never bore a child; shout for joy and cry aloud, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband.” Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. But what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.”Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.".
analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 24-25/14
Jews and Arabs can maintain good relations/Eitan Haber/Ynetnews/November 24-25/14
Hezbollah stockpiling more efficient, advanced missiles/Nicholas Blanford/The Daily Star/November 24/14
Hezbollah: The Party of Iran, Not Lebanon/David Daoud/Fikra Forum/November 24/14
The slaughter of innocents/MICHAEL COREN/Sun News/November 24.11.14
Israeli government vs. State of Israel/Ben-Dror Yemini/Ynetnews/November 24/14
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Iran nuclear talks extended 7 months
after deadline missed
Louis Charbonneau/Fredrik Dahl/Reuters/Nov. 24, 2014
VIENNA: Iran and six powers failed for a second time this year Monday to resolve their 12-year dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions and gave themselves seven more months to overcome the deadlock that has prevented them from clinching a historic deal.
Western officials said they were aiming to secure an agreement on the substance of a final accord by March but that more time would be needed to reach a consensus on the all-important technical details. "We have had to conclude it is not possible to get to an agreement by the deadline that was set for today and therefore we will extend the JPOA to June 30, 2015," British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told reporters at the end of the talks. He was referring to the so-called Joint Plan of Action, an interim deal agreed between the six and Iran a year ago in Geneva, under which Tehran halted higher level uranium enrichment in exchange for a limited easing of sanctions, including access to some frozen oil revenues abroad. Hammond said the expectation was that Iran would continue to refrain from sensitive atomic activity. He added that Iran and the powers "made some significant progress" in the latest round of talks, which began last Tuesday in the Austrian capital. Hammond said that there was a clear target to reach a "headline agreement" of substance within the next three months and talks would resume next month. It is unclear where next month's talks will take place, he said, noting that during the extension period, Tehran will be able to continue to access around $700 million per month in sanctions relief.
An Iranian official confirmed the extension, as did Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who echoed Hammond's comments about "substantial progress". The deadline for a deal, agreed in July when the two sides missed an earlier target date, was Monday.
The Vienna talks aimed for a deal that could transform the Middle East, open the door to ending economic sanctions on Iran and start to bring a nation of 76 million people in from the cold after decades of hostility with the West.
The cost of failure could be high, and Iran's regional foes Israel and Saudi Arabia are watching nervously. Both fear a weak deal that fails to curtail Tehran's nuclear ambitions, while a collapse of the negotiations would encourage Iran to become a threshold nuclear weapon state, something Israel has said it would never allow.
US Defense Secretary Hagel to resign: NY Times
Agence France Presse/Nov. 24, 2014/WASHINGTON: U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is to resign under pressure on Monday, the New York Times reported Monday, after criticism of the campaigns in Afghanistan and against ISIS.
The daily said President Barack Obama was to announce the 68-year-old former senator and Vietnam war veteran's departure later in the day in a statement from the White House
Army can protect Christian town on Syria border: Geagea
The Daily Star/Nov. 24, 2014/BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea assured Monday residents of the Christian town of al-Qaa on the northeast border with Syria that the Lebanese Army has taken security measures to shield them from violence spilling across the border.“There is no danger to the town of al-Qaa and the adjacent villages of Ras Baalbek and Jdeideh, as the Army has enforced the necessary measures in order to confront (any possible) threat,” Geagea told a delegation from al-Qaa who visited him at his residence in Maarab. “The Army is ready and determined to assume their role, and the Lebanese Forces will extend as much support to them as possible,” Geagea said. Geagea assured that the LF leadership was watching closely the developments in the border region and following up on any incident with the Army’s command. “The Lebanese Forces never forgot this region which is very dear to our hearts, and will continue, as always, to look after it in all aspects,” Geagea added. Al-Qaa, in the district of Baalbek in northeast Lebanon, is north of the town of Arsal, which was briefly overrun by Islamist fighters from ISIS and the Nusra Front in August, sparking fierce fighting with the Army, killing dozens of soldiers, militants and civilians.
Lebanon model of diversity: Russian delegation
The Daily Star/Nov. 24, 2014/BEIRUT: A Russian delegation Monday hailed Lebanon as a model for diversity and coexistence during a meeting with Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian. “All countries in the world should study the Lebanese Republic’s experience with regards to dealing and cooperating between spiritual and religious organizations and governmental bodies,” Russian head of Pilgrimage Affairs said. “Lebanon is an ideal state in terms of coexistence between ethnic groups and sects,” he added. The delegation included Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin, and was headed by Ilyas Umakhanov, the Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federal Council and Head of Pilgrimage Affairs of the government’s Religious Affairs Commission. The meeting discussed “means of coordination and cooperation between religious institutions,” Umakhanov said in a statement released after his visit to Dar al-Fatwa. The Russian official also extended an invitation to Lebanon’s grand mufti to visit Russia which is home to more than “150 ethnicities and over 20 million Muslims,” he said.
Lebanon hostage families burn tires outside Grand Serail
Hashem Osseiran/The Daily Star/Nov. 24, 2014/BEIRUT: The families of Lebanon's captive soldiers burned tires outside the Grand Serail in downtown Beirut Monday to renew pressure on the government to speed up negotiations for their release. The uncle of Lameh Mzahem, one of the soldiers held hostage by militants from ISIS and the Nusra Front, said that they decided to escalate their protests after a crisis cell formed to negotiate their release failed to respond to a request to meet with the families. The families wanted to ask the crisis cell about the claim that negotiations were stalled. Last week the family of one of the captives, Ibrahim Mgheit, was allowed to visit him on the outskirts of Arsal. During the visit, the captors complained that the negotiations were going nowhere after the government failed to respond to a list of demands that it had issued. The kidnappers are reportedly asking for the release of five inmates imprisoned in Lebanon for each of the 26 captives it is holding, but the release of 50 females prisoners in Syria. The kidnappers had originally demanded 15 prisoners for each captive, but reduced the number, according to Mzahem. “There is something wrong if, even after the kidnappers reduced their demands, the government is still prolonging the stalemate over negotiations,” he said. The last time the families met with the crisis cell was on Friday when the Secretary General of the Higher Relief Commission Maj. Gen. Mohammad Kheir, who is a member of the cell, told the families that the government was following up seriously on negotiations. But the families remain wary because of the contradictory information around the case emerging from the cell, the media and the captors themselves who have remained in contact with many of the families.
2 Syrian refugee babies die of cold in east Lebanon
Samar Kadi/The Daily Star/Nov. 24, 2014 /BEIRUT: Two newborn Syrian refugee babies died from cold over the weekend on the rugged outskirts of the Lebanese border town of Arsal, where thousands of Syrians are living in unheated tents in freezing temperatures, medical sources told The Daily Star Monday. A 3-day-old girl, identified as the daughter of Syrian refugee Diab Karkour, died Sunday from pneumonia in a field hospital in Arsal, after spending two days in an incubator. “The baby was born in a tent in the vicinity of Arsal without proper medical attention and in cold weather, contracting pneumonia and inflammation around the navel,” Dr. Kassem al-Zein, a Syrian doctor at Arsal’s field hospital. Zein said the field hospital lacked the necessary equipment to treat such a severe case and that he wanted to transfer the girl to a proper hospital in the Bekaa, but she died before her parents could reach her. “The parents could not arrive in time to accompany her to the Bekaa hospital,” he said, citing the low temperatures and lack of medical care as the reasons for her death. In a similar incident Saturday, another baby girl, born to a Syrian couple, arrived in Arsal’s al-Rahma hospital after having died from the freezing weather, the hospital’s director, Dr. Bassem al-Fares told the Daily Star. The second victim, Fatima al-Halouchi, was born less than 48 hours earlier, Fares said. The two deaths occurred as Lebanon witnessed a weekend rain and snow storm that cut off roads in the mountains. The medics cautioned that cases of pneumonia and respiratory problems are expected to rise among Syrian refugees in the absence of heating in harsh winter conditions.
Syrian Killed, Several Injured in Brief Clashes at Burj al-Barajneh Refugee Camp
Naharnet/A female Syrian refugee was killed and several were injured in clashes that erupted on Monday between two groups linked to Fatah movement at Burj al-Barajneh refugee camp in Beirut's southern suburbs. The state-run National News Agency reported that the clashes broke out after the supporters of Mohammed Ghdeiyeh set on fire a motorcycle that belongs to Hekmat Akar, the leader of the second group. Several were injured among them the brother of Akar. NNA said that machinguns and rocket-propelled grenades were used in the battle. Unknown assailants had also opened fire at an ambulance moving a wounded person from Akar family to Haifa hospital at the camp. His family reportedly banned the ambulance from moving him to a hospital outside the camp as he is wanted on several arrest warrants. The news agency said that the supporters of the two factions are on alert at the camp.
Change and Reform Calls for Preserving Coexistence, Implementing Constitution
Naharnet /The Change and Reform bloc held on Monday onto its proposal to allow the people to choose their "true" representatives, calling on the implementation of the constitution to preserve coexistence. “The bloc made more than one initiative” to end the presidential deadlock and “return to the Lebanese in general and the Christians in particular their right to choose a president and have a good representation,” said MP Ibrahim Kanaan. Following an extraordinary meeting held by the bloc, Kanaan read a statement “urging all blocs to preserve Lebanon and its coexistence and to steer clear of personal and sectarian interests.”The statement also urged “the people to elect their true representatives as stipulated by the constitution” and called for an “end to the policy of dominance to preserve the rights” of the Lebanese. Change and Reform MPs submitted a draft-law in August under which the Lebanese would elect their president in two rounds. The draft-law was based on a proposal made by the head of the bloc, Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun, to resolve the presidential deadlock. Lebanon has been without a head of state since May when President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended with MPs unable to find a successor over their differences on a compromise candidate. Kanaan said letters were sent to Arab leaders in July to guarantee the implementation of the Taef Accord. In relation to that, the bloc will follow-up the meetings of the Constitutional Council on the appeal that it has made against the extension of parliament's term, the MP said. Change and Reform lawmakers believe “the Council's judges have a historic role in ending the violation of the constitution.” The bloc will hold open-ended meetings pending a decision by the council on the extension appeal, said Kanaan. The parliament extended its term earlier this month until June 2017 despite the boycott of the Change and Reform bloc and Kataeb MPs. Two others voted against the law but 95 lawmakers extended their own terms for the second time, giving them a full eight years in power— double their allowed mandate. Kanaan reiterated that the parliament “lacked legitimacy” and called on the Constitutional Council judges to “preserve the constitution.”The Council has so far held two meetings to discuss the appeal against the extension law.
Russia Loses $40 bn from Sanctions but Putin Says Damage 'Not Fatal'
Naharnet/Russia is losing around $40 billion (32 billion euros) per year due to Western sanctions over the Ukraine conflict, its finance minister said Monday although President Vladimir Putin dismissed the economic damage as "not fatal". "We are losing around $40 billion per year due to geopolitical sanctions," Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said in a speech at an economic forum in Moscow, quoted by RIA Novosti news agency. He added that falling oil prices were causing Russia economic damage of "some $90 to $100 billion per year".
The European Union and the United States have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia over its role in the Ukraine conflict, sending the ruble plunging and inflation soaring. The embargoes targeting Russia's key energy, defence and finance sectors have been compounded by sliding crude prices. But Putin insisted that the plunging ruble would only hurt the Russian economy "to an extent, but not (cause) fatal" damage. In Sunday's interview with TASS news agency, he stood firm over the Ukraine issue, saying that Russia is "right" and that its "strength comes from the truth". Putin also rubbished a Western blacklist of Russian officials and businessmen from his inner circle, saying that the decision to impose sanctions on those individuals in an attempt to hurt him was based on a "false premise".Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday accused the West of attempting to achieve "regime change" in Russia through sanctions aimed at destroying the economy and rousing public protests.
Russia has retaliated by imposing an embargo on most food products from the United States, Canada, Australia, Norway and the European Union. Food prices have noticeably risen in recent weeks. - 'I say look at the oil prices' - Russia's finance minister on Monday sought to play down the impact of sanctions on Russia's economic woes, saying it is crude prices which is the key determinant. "The oil price has fallen 30 percent since the beginning of the year. By the way, the ruble has also fallen the same 30 percent... I say look at the oil prices. However they behave, the ruble exchange rate will too." The ruble has fallen to a series of record lows against the dollar and euro during the conflict in east Ukraine before rallying a little this month after the European Union decided not to impose yet another round of sanctions. On Monday at around 1100 GMT, the ruble was trading at 44.80 to the dollar and 55.54 to the euro. Russia is likely to record capital outflows of $130 billion, Siluanov said, as citizens and businesses hedge against the falling ruble by converting their savings in the Russian currency to foreign ones.Energy minister Alexander Novak had said Friday that Russia was considering cutting its oil production in a bid to shore up prices. He said that Russia did not have the technical means to quickly lower and raise production like Saudi Arabia but that the government was studying the "expediency of such methods." A major producer of crude oil, Russia is not a member of the OPEC oil producers cartel, which is to discuss later in the week whether to cut output. OPEC's poorer members, led by Venezuela and Ecuador, have called publicly for a cut in output, while Iran has also hinted at a need to reduce production. But the cartel's Gulf members, led by kingpin Saudi Arabia, are rejecting such calls unless they are guaranteed market share, according to analysts.
Kommersant business daily on Monday cited a Russian government source saying that Venezuelan foreign minister Rafael Ramirez had suggested cutting production when he visited Moscow last week. "We had thought about it before but it did not gain much support. The situation changed last week," the source said. Russia gets around half of its revenues from oil profits. Its budget for next year, passed by the lower house of parliament on Friday, is based on an oil price of $96 per barrel.
Crude prices have however fallen below $80. Agence France Presse
Ain el-Hilweh Leadership to Investigate Mawlawi's Presence, Rejects Shaker's Statements
Naharnet /The Palestinian leadership at the southern Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp pledged to investigate the presence of Islamist fugitive Shadi al-Mawlawi and singer turned fugitive Islamist Fadel Shaker, fearing the occurrence of a war similar to Nahr al-Bared.
As Safir newspaper reported on Monday that contacts are ongoing between the Army intelligence and the Higher Palestinian leadership at Ain el-Hilweh over Shaker's recent statements and Mawlawi's reported presence in the camp. The Army intelligence reportedly urged the Palestinian leadership to investigate Mawlawi's presence in Ain el-Hilweh and carry out the necessary measures in this regard. Media reports said last week that Mawlawi fled Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood in the northern city of Tripoli to take the southern refugee camp as a refuge to prepare for a security operation in cooperation with wanted Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir, who is also hiding there. Al-Asir had gone into hiding following deadly clashes between his supporters and the army near Sidon in June last year.
Mawlawi has been charged with belonging to an armed terrorist group in order to stage terrorist acts, and holing up at a Tripoli mosque with the aim of preparing bombs and explosive devices to target Lebanese troops in the area. Earlier this month, the militia led by Mawlawi and Osama Mansour clashed with the army in Tripoli and Akkar district. The gunbattles left dozens of fighters, soldiers and civilians dead and injured. “The Palestinians have no interest in harboring a fugitive wanted on terrorist charges,” Palestinian sources told As Safir newspaper. The sources also slammed recent comments by Shaker after the Army intelligence said they will leave a bad effect on ties between the military and the camp's leadership. Shaker stressed on Saturday that his ties with Asir have reached an end after the 2013 Abra clashes. “I will not hand myself over to the judiciary,” Shaker said, denying that he assaulted the army during the clashes with the army in the southern town of Abra, near the city of Sidon. Shaker had fled justice more than a year ago following bloody incidents that erupted in June 2013 in Abra, between the army and supporters of al-Asir. Sidon’s clashes were the most intense bouts of violence in Lebanon linked to the conflict in Syria, and have resulted in the death of at least 16 troops. According to As Safir a Palestinian higher political committee held a meeting on Sunday night to tackle Mawlawi's and Shaker's cases. Sources described the meeting as “stormy,” fearing that a war similar to the northern refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared would occur in Ain el-Hilweh. “We will evict Mawlawi if he was found at the camp,” the sources quoted gatherers as saying, revealing that a committee was formed to investigate the matter. Nahr al-Bared was almost totally destroyed in the fierce fighting between the military and a small al-Qaida-inspired group called Fatah al-Islam in 2007. Some 400 people were killed, including 168 soldiers, and 30,000 camp residents fled.
Hezbollah: The Party of Iran, Not Lebanon
David Daoud/Fikra Forum
Hezbollah’s standing in Lebanese society has plummeted. By allying with Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the Syrian civil war, the group revealed that it prioritizes patronage over patriotism and, as a result, many non-Shiite Lebanese now regard it as a foreign proxy serving Iranian interests. But this is not the first of Hezbollah’s missteps in recent years.
Following the 2005 assassination of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, the group threw its support behind the Syrian regime, which many Lebanese blamed for Hariri’s murder. Although Damascus denied any involvement in the killing, massive protests broke out in Beirut calling on Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon. Yet Hezbollah and its allies stood by Assad. What is more, it refuses to cooperate with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is investigating the assassination, or hand over its members who are suspected of being involved. In 2006, Hezbollah unilaterally launched a month-long war against Israel without the consent of the Lebanese government. In 2008, Hezbollah fighters occupied parts of the Lebanese capital after the government discovered its secret surveillance system at the airport in Beirut. So Hezbollah’s decision to drag Lebanon into a sectarian war in nearby Syria – which has invited Sunni militants to carry out attacks across the country – is simply yet another strategic miscalculation that has tarnished the image of Lebanon’s so-called “Islamic resistance.”
But all is not lost for Hezbollah. Ironically, its salvation seems to have inadvertently come from the most unlikely of sources: ISIS. The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham has swept across Syria and Iraq, wreaking havoc on religious minorities and leaving the entire region on edge, including Lebanon. Given the fragile state of their country, Lebanese are once again looking for a national savior, and Hezbollah is ready to fill that role.
ISIS’s push into the eastern Beqa Valley town of Arsal this past August demonstrated the threat posed by the group. Along with elements of Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, ISIS invaded Arsal after Lebanese security forces arrested a Nusra commander who had recently sworn allegiance to the so-called Islamic State. With the help of Sunni clerics, the army was able to restore calm, but dozens of soldiers were killed and captured in the process. Hezbollah, for its part, stayed out of the fight for tactical reasons. But in October, when ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra elements attempted to infiltrate eastern Lebanon, the group fought back and successfully repulsed the militants on its own, without the help of the army and with fewer casualties.
As a result, for a growing number of Lebanese, Hezbollah seems to be the only barrier between them and ISIS. Sensing the opportunity to reenter mainstream Lebanese society, Hezbollah simultaneously plays up its ability to successfully confront ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, while playing on existing fears of support for these groups among the growing Syrian refugee population in Lebanon. Capitalizing on the change in domestic sentiment, Hezbollah has resurrected the Lebanese Resistance Brigades, established in 1988 for non-Shiites who wanted to fight against Israel, to combat ISIS. Reports indicate that Sunnis have even joined the brigades.
Hezbollah has also signaled its re-entry into the Lebanese mainstream by attacking Israel. On October 7, Hezbollah detonated a bomb in Shebaa Farms, injuring two soldiers. Aside from occasional attacks against Israel from across the Blue Line, Hezbollah has avoided open confrontation with Israel since the 2006 Lebanon war. But Hezbollah openly claimed responsibility for the recent bombing and even acknowledged its violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war. And in doing so, Hezbollah may not have sought to provoke the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), but rather convey a twofold message: it is not spread too thin to fight against Israel, and it has reclaimed its place and legitimacy in Lebanon. While some Lebanese politicians criticized Hezbollah for risking a conflagration with the IDF, the group may be more in tune with the sentiments of the Lebanese street. As the ISIS threat grows, support for Hezbollah will grow too. Considering the dearth of support for ISIS among Lebanese of all sects, it is no surprise that among non-Shiites, Hezbollah is increasingly viewed as the lesser of two evils, if an evil at all, giving it more freedom both domestically and abroad.
Hezbollah is highly adaptable organization and, if it acts strategically, it may once again reemerge as Lebanon’s rescuer. But it would be a mistake to think that the Shiite militia has not learned from its experiences over the past 14 years. When the ISIS threat recedes, Hezbollah will likely once again opt for a more conciliatory approach toward Lebanese society in order to maintain popular support. But such a tactical shift should not be seen as a genuine change in its ideology. Hezbollah was and remains the party of Iran, not Lebanon.
**David Daoud holds a juris doctorate in international law, and aided by his native fluency in Arabic, has worked in Lebanon and Egypt.
STL defense exasperated by prosecution’s change of tack
Kareem Shaheen/The Daily Star
Nov. 24, 2014
BEIRUT: A top defense lawyer at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon spoke out Sunday against prosecutors for radically changing the scope of trial as they began to examine the breakdown of relations between Syrian President Bashar Assad and former premier Rafik Hariri ahead of the latter’s assassination. He said that defense lawyers had understood the political testimony that began last week in the Hariri trial as pointing to Syria being ultimately behind the assassination, and called on prosecutors to clarify whether they would amend their indictment in the case. “The accusation in this case began with the four generals, then went to Syria, then from there to Hezbollah through individuals that are alleged to be members in Hezbollah, and now it is returning to Syria,” Yasser Hassan, a defense lawyer for Hussein Oneissi, one of five suspects allegedly involved in the assassination plot, told The Daily Star in an interview.
“After nearly a whole year of trial there was no mention of motive, now the prosecution is making this fundamental addition, the political motive for carrying out the crime,” he said. “This has the effect of adding a new dimension to the trial [and] constitutes a change of extreme importance in the case, which may have legal consequences in the future.”Hassan’s comments came as defense lawyers grow increasingly frustrated at the radical change in the trial’s scope to include Syria’s alleged role in what is the worst political crime in recent Lebanese history – a surprise reversal in a case that has long ignored Syria. They are also frustrated at what appears to be the prosecution’s dithering in the case – it is now pointing to Syria for a political motive for the killing without presenting an indictment formally laying out Syria’s role. MP Marwan Hamade, a former minister and Hariri confidante, was the first political witness to testify at the STL last week.
A dozen other politicians, witnesses and advisors are expected to testify in the coming months on Syrian-Lebanese tensions. Their testimony raises the specter for the first time of formal accusations against Syrian officials in the case, though none have been made yet by prosecutors. Prosecutors have never presented a motive for why the five accused, all supporters of Hezbollah, may have assassinated Hariri. The lack of motive in the indictment was seen as a serious flaw in a case that is built largely on circumstantial evidence.
It was also particularly problematic since relations between Hariri and Hezbollah were at a high point before his assassination, with regular, intimate meetings between Hariri and the party’s secretary-general Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
Prosecutors never said the suspects had a personal motive to kill the former premier. They now say the political testimony of Hamade and others will reveal the political motive for the crime.
Hassan said the expansion in the scope of the trial would place a great burden on defense lawyers, who have so far been preparing for a case primarily based on telecommunications evidence.
“It is forcing [the defense] to investigate the political motives tied to the case after the investigation was focused on it being a telecommunications case,” he said.
Prosecutors are relying primarily on reams of telecommunications data that they say shows the surveillance of Hariri by the suspects ahead of his assassination. Hassan cited a statement by Hamade, in which Hamade said Druze leader Walid Jumblatt had advised Hariri to leave Lebanon after he was directly threatened by the Syrian president, as being an example of testimony pointing to Syria being behind the assassination. “It means I have to look into Hariri’s relations with Syria,” Hassan said.
Even more problematic is how prosecutors will tie the political testimony to the actions of the Hezbollah members who allegedly carried out the conspiracy. The prosecution has not explained the specific ties between the Hezbollah suspects and Syria.
“If you are saying they have no personal motive, then their motive is political,” Hassan said. “So you are going to link at a future time these individuals, through their political affiliation, and the Syrian motive that you are talking about.
“You will find a link between Syria and the suspects. Well, how? “You are saying that Assad threatened Hariri and Jumblatt is witness to this, okay, what relation does that have to [Mustafa] Badreddine?” he asked, referring to a senior Hezbollah operative who is accused in the case. “Was he in any of the meetings? You did not mention any of the suspects.”
Hassan said that the prosecution would have to bring forth individuals to testify about the exact ties between the Syrian regime and the suspects who allegedly carried out the assassination.
But it would be difficult to conceive of a scenario in which prosecutors would try to prove these links without amending the indictment to incorporate this Syrian angle, and perhaps to indict Syrian suspects. Such an amendment, while permitted during trial, could put it on hold for months while it was reviewed and the suspects searched for or possibly tried in absentia. The latest version of the indictment has been scrubbed of any mention of Hezbollah, except to say that the suspects are supporters of the party, and relations with Syria are barely addressed. “I have said, if you want to accuse Hezbollah, then do it explicitly,” Hassan said, adding that the lack of clarity in the prosecution’s case was making it increasingly difficult for the defense. “Do not leave us in this gray area. Vagueness in the indictment is legally wrong.”The fact that Syria’s alleged role has not been formally acknowledged in the indictment – only through the new political testimony – has led defense lawyers to question why the Syrian aspect has been introduced at all.
“If this isn’t going to change the indictment, then why are you saying it?” Hassan asked. “What is the motive to bring political witnesses delivering political accusations against a side that was not in the indictment?”
Hezbollah stockpiling more efficient, advanced missiles
Nicholas Blanford| The Daily Star
Nov. 24, 2014
BEIRUT: Hezbollah has acquired advanced Iranian missiles with “pinpoint accuracy” that provide a “real deterrence” to Israel, Sheikh Naim Qassem, Hezbollah’s deputy secretary-general, revealed Sunday.
His comments to Iran’s Tasnim news agency came on the eve of a deadline in knife-edge nuclear talks between world powers and Iran amid waning hopes a deal can be struck in time.
“They [the Israelis] are well aware that Hezbollah is in possession of missiles with pinpoint accuracy, and thanks to the equipment Hezbollah acquired, and with the Islamic Republic’s support and Hezbollah’s readiness for any future war, [the next] war will be much tougher for the Israelis,” Qassem was quoted as saying.
The timing of Qassem’s interview appeared to be connected to the climax of negotiations between the so-called P5+1 of leading world powers and Iran in Vienna. Israel has warned that it could bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities if the talks fail and Tehran proceeds with its nuclear agenda.
Qassem’s comments also seemed to confirm a report two weeks ago in which a senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officer said that Iran had provided Hezbollah with advanced Fateh class short-range guided ballistic missiles.
“Considering the range of their [Hezbollah’s] missiles, they are able now to attack targets from southern to northern parts of the occupied territories [Israel],” said Brig. Gen. Seyyed Majid Moussavi, the IRGC’s air defense commander, according to a Feb. 12 report by the Iranian Fars News Agency.
“Based on what has been announced so far, their operational missile capability includes a fully vast, but of course hidden, [number and variety] of Fateh class missiles, and this missile capability can be used and has been organized,” Moussavi added.
The Israeli media and some Gulf newspapers belatedly picked up the Fars report over the weekend, adding that Hezbollah’s Fateh missiles carry a 500 kilogram warhead, have a range of between 250 to 350 kilometers and could strike Israel’s nuclear reactor at Dimona in southern Israel. The English-language version of the Fars report carried none of the details of the Fateh missile’s capabilities published by the Israeli media. Nevertheless, the quoted specifications conform to the fourth-generation Fateh A-110 introduced in 2012 and considered by defense experts to be the most advanced of Iran’s Fateh family of short-range guided ballistic missiles.
Dimona lies 225 kilometers south of the border with Lebanon which means that at the quoted maximum range of 350 kilometers, the Fateh rockets could be launched from Hezbollah’s bases in hills west of Baalbek in the Bekaa Valley and still strike Israel’s nuclear facility deep in the Negev desert.
The Fateh A-110 missile, the first version introduced in 2002, is among several rocket systems that Hezbollah is believed to have acquired since the end of the monthlong war with Israel in 2006. The fourth-generation version was first tested in August 2012. It has a range of 300 kilometers and a warhead weight of 650 kilograms. Iranian engineers may have reduced the warhead size to 500 kilograms in order to increase the range to 350 kilometers. A fifth version of the Fateh, known in Iran as the Khalij Fars, was developed as an anti-ship ballistic missile.
In early May 2013, Israeli jets attacked targets near Damascus on two separate occasions that reportedly contained advanced weapons systems destined for Hezbollah, including Fateh A-110 missiles.
Iran and Syria embarked several years ago upon a collaborative program in missile development and production. The Syrian M600, or Tishreen, missile, which also is believed to be in Hezbollah’s possession, is thought to be a variant of the Fateh-A110 with an improved GPS guidance capability that allows it to strike with 500 meters of its target at a maximum range of 250 kilometers.
“The missile production plants in Syria have been built by Iran and the missiles designed by Iran are being produced there,” Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the IRGC’s air force commander, said earlier this month.
Israel believes Hezbollah also has acquired a “few dozen” Scud D missiles with a range of 700 kilometers stashed in the northern Bekaa, according to diplomatic sources. However, the Scud D is a logistical headache for Hezbollah compared to other rocket systems. Scuds are liquid-fueled which makes for a lengthy, complicated and potentially hazardous launching process compared to solid-fueled alternatives. They also require dedicated truck-sized launch platforms that are harder to smuggle into Lebanon, hide and employ without being spotted. The solid-fueled Fateh A-110s and M600s, on the other hand, are thought to be launched from converted shipping containers mounted on the backs of trucks. The roof of the shipping container flips open allowing the launch rail to be raised and the missile fired.
Most targets in Israel worthy of Hezbollah’s attention are found in the northern half of the country where the bulk of the population lives and where most of Israel’s military facilities, businesses and industries are located. There is relatively little worth striking in Israel south of a line drawn between Ashdod and Jerusalem, a distance of 143 kilometers from the Lebanese border, which puts the main target bank well within reach of the M600s, let alone fourth-generation Fatehs.
The one exception south of the Ashdod-Jerusalem line is Israel’s nuclear reactor at Dimona. If Israel were to launch an attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities, a retaliatory Scud strike by Hezbollah against Dimona may have been suitably reciprocal and possibly worth the logistical challenges posed by the missile. But if Hezbollah really has acquired the fourth-generation Fateh missile, the party would seem to no longer require the cumbersome Scuds for the purpose of attacking Dimona.
Salam pessimistic, but Berri upbeat on presidential vote
Hussein Dakroub/Hasan Lakkis/The Daily Star
Nov. 24, 2014/BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam sounded downbeat Sunday about the election of a new president soon, in sharp contrast with Speaker Nabih Berri, who has repeatedly spoken about “positive internal and external signals” to break the 6-month-old presidential stalemate. “The presidential election is no longer easy,” Salam told visitors at his Mosseitbeh residence.
Asked to comment on Berri’s optimism, Salam replied he did not have any specific details and information pointing to positive developments over the presidential election. “Speaker Nabih Berri, in his position as Parliament speaker and the head of a large parliamentary bloc, has information which I don’t have for several reasons, the most important of which is that I don’t head a political or parliamentary bloc.”
In an interview with the Voice of Lebanon radio station Saturday marking the 71st anniversary of Independence Day from France in 1943, Salam said external circumstances were not conducive to the election of a president.
However, Berri stuck to his optimism over the presidential election, reiterating that he still saw “positive signals” both at home and abroad in this regard.
Berri, according to visitors, called for watching the outcome of the ongoing negotiations in Vienna between Iran and Western powers over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Berri also said he was still optimistic about launching a long-awaited dialogue between the Future Movement and Hezbollah, whose strained ties have heightened political and sectarian tensions in the country.
“This dialogue will be held without preset conditions. This point has been settled and is behind us,” Berri was quoted as saying. He said efforts were underway now to prepare the agenda of the dialogue.
Speaking to visitors, Salam said he was in contact with all the parties over the presidential impasse and was working to energize Cabinet work, which has been paralyzed as a result of differences among the ministers.
“I am carrying a trust and I support and encourage any solution in the Cabinet for any of the [unresolved] files. But this is not enough because what is required is a decision by the political parties to reach positive results,” Salam said.
He added that he had adopted the formula of consensus among ministers in order to facilitate the government work.
Among the unresolved issues he cited were the Syrian refugee crisis, the 26 Lebanese soldiers and policemen still held hostage by militants on the outskirts of the Bekaa town of Arsal, the contracts of mobile phone operators, oil prospecting tenders and the issue of solid waste disposal.
Salam, who canceled Independence Day celebrations because of the deadlock over electing a president, received a letter Sunday from French President Francois Hollande congratulating him on the independence anniversary, which fell Saturday, and pledging support for Lebanon’s unity and stability.
Hollande called in his letter for the election of a president as soon as possible. “France will continue to work, more than any other time in the past, in the interest [of Lebanon’s], unity, stability and sovereignty,” he said in his letter to Salam.
The French president said his country’s support would be manifested in the work of the International Support Group for Lebanon, which was established to help cope with the Syrian refugee crisis and Syria-linked security problems – by supporting the Lebanese Army and state institutions.
Hollande expressed his satisfaction with the fact that Lebanon is garnering international support in an effort to reinforce its security. He said the implementation of the French-Saudi donation pledged to the Lebanese Army serves to bolster the military’s capabilities in the battle against terrorism.
Shipments of French weapons for the Lebanese Army paid for by a $3 billion grant from Saudi Arabia are expected to start arriving in Lebanon early next year.
For his part, Kataeb Party leader Amine Gemayel called for a single dialogue among the rival political leaders to agree on the election of a president. He implicitly accused Hezbollah and MP Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement of scuttling the presidential vote with the aim of changing the country’s political setup.
“Why don’t we meet in a single dialogue session to agree on one decision, that is the election of a president?” Gemayel said in a speech at a ceremony marking the 78th anniversary of the Kataeb Party’s founding. “Why don’t we meet first as Christian leaders since we are mainly responsible and concerned with this top post?”
“Delaying the election of a new president has ceased to become a tactical political stance to boost the position of one side at the expense of another,” Gemayel said, adding: “It has become a strategic stance [that aims] to change the Lebanese status-quo and the Lebanese Republic.”Gemayel said such a strategy violates not only the political system, but also the formula by which the country was founded.
“It is an adventure that nobody can control, neither by force, nor by law, and neither by the Constitution, nor by dialogue,” he said.
“We fear that some practices are part of an obstructionist process that would later justify a coup against the [political] system, the National Pact and the entity,” Gemayel added.
Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea said he was ready to visit Aoun at his residence in Rabieh, if this would help reach an agreement to end the presidential vacuum. In an interview with MTV website to be published Monday, Geagea described Aoun’s latest initiative to break the presidential deadlock as “excellent.”Aoun last week offered to face off with Geagea, the March 14-backed candidate, in a presidential vote in Parliament if the battle was restricted to them only. However, Aoun’s proposal has been denounced by many March 14 politicians as “undemocratic.”
Separately, Aoun’s parliamentary Change and Reform bloc is expected to hold a special meeting at 10 a.m. Monday ahead of the Constitutional Council’s decision, expected this week, on the challenge presented by the bloc against the extension of Parliament’s mandate for two years and seven months. If the council does not pronounce its verdict within 20 days after the challenge was presented, the extension of Parliament’s term would become effective.
Will Aoun accept consensus president to help break deadlock?
Antoine Ghattas Saab/The Daily Star
Nov. 24, 2014
Will Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun back off from his adamant stance on the presidential crisis and accept the election of a consensus candidate in a bid to end the political impasse that has left Lebanon without a president for six months?
Diplomatic sources expressed the belief that the internal Lebanese situation, particularly within the Christian community, and the international situation would probably push Aoun to accept a consensus president in whose election he plays a major role and to be content with being the top Christian leader in Lebanon instead of vying for the country’s top Christian post.
Aoun, according to the sources, would adopt a policy to retreat step by step from his unyielding stance so that the expected compromise over the presidential election would not come at his expense.
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s public nomination of Aoun as the March 8 alliance’s candidate for the presidency earlier this month, coupled with the Shiite party’s support for the extension of Parliament’s mandate, which ran contrary to the will of its key Christian ally, enhanced the belief that the FPM leader’s chances of being elected president have largely been weakened, the sources said.
Aoun, the head of the largest Christian bloc in Parliament, has vowed not to withdraw from the presidential race. Last week, he offered to face off with his Christian rival, Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, in a presidential vote in Parliament if the battle was confined to both of them.
Hezbollah does not want to lose Christian cover, which it badly needs today in view of its military involvement in the Syrian war, the sources said.
But at the same time, Hezbollah is committed to comply with decisions that might be taken by the Iranian leadership if and when Tehran joins any settlement with the Saudis and Americans over the region and Lebanon, they added.
Should a regional settlement materialize and the name of the next president, which is the result of an internal and external decision, become known, Hezbollah will frankly tell Aoun that it will go along with any agreement that might be reached between Riyadh and Tehran, the sources said.
On this basis, those who meet Aoun these days get the impression that the FPM leader is feeling that the time is drawing close for a regional and international agreement on the need to pull Lebanon out of the 6-month-old presidential vacuum that has paralyzed the government’s capabilities and the state’s work, the sources added.
However, such a regional and international settlement needs some time, especially since Lebanon currently is not on the agenda of influential foreign powers, the sources said.
Therefore, the sources added, the fate of the presidential election should not be linked to the outcome of the ongoing negotiations between Iran and Western powers over Tehran’s nuclear program or to a long-awaited Saudi-Iranian rapprochement.
Among the factors that might accelerate the presidential election, the sources cited the fact that there are 23 Arab and foreign ambassadors in Beirut waiting to present their credentials to the president in order to formally begin their work.
Meanwhile, senior political sources said Speaker Nabih Berri, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and MP Walid Jumblatt had wanted Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai to play a role in persuading both Aoun and Geagea to withdraw from the presidential race, but the patriarch had unfortunately failed in this endeavor.
On Berri’s attempts to revive a dialogue between the Future Movement and Hezbollah, sources close to the speaker said serious preparations to bring the two rival parties together have reached an advanced stage after Berri sought to keep his efforts in complete secrecy and after he was assured that the two sides had agreed to preliminary arrangements for talks.
Noting that the first round of dialogue between the Future Movement and Hezbollah could be held at Berri’s residence in Ain al-Tineh, the sources said that Hezbollah’s refusal to respond to the Saudi envoy at the United Nations who called for adding the party to the list of terrorist organizations is one of the positive signals for the launching of dialogue.
Berri is also waiting to hear clarifications on the Saudi envoy’s statement from the Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Asiri when he meets him Tuesday.
Moreover, Hariri’s meetings with his ministers and Future lawmakers in the past few days have signaled that he is tending toward giving dialogue with Hezbollah a chance. Hariri is expected to talk about this topic, as well as other issues, during an interview with LBCI TV Thursday night.
North Lebanon kidnappers abduct 3 in broad daylight
Antoine Amrieh| The Daily Star/Nov. 23, 2014/TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Unidentified gunmen kidnapped Sunday two veiled women and a young man near one of Tripoli’s coffee shops, security sources said. The two women and the young man, whose identities remain unkown, were standing on a sidewalk beside the Sah-Sah coffee shop in the Ashir al-Daya neighborhood. The kidnappers, who were driving two cars, a BMW and a Mercedes, kidnapped them in plain sight at around 1 p.m.
Canada Strongly Condemns Terrorist Attack in Afghanistan
November 23, 2014 – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:
“Canada condemns in the strongest terms the suicide attack that took place at a volleyball match in eastern Afghanistan, reportedly killing dozens of people and injuring scores more.
“On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my deepest sympathies to the victims’ families and friends, and wish a swift recovery to those injured.
”This heinous attack was clearly meant to target innocent civilians who had gathered to watch the sporting event. Afghan civilians continue to bear the devastating impact of this ongoing campaign of terror.
“Canada stands by the Government of Afghanistan as it strengthens its efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms in order to bring peace and prosperity to all Afghans.”
Iran's ultimatum to the West: All or nothing
Ynetnews/Published: 11.24.14,/ Israel Opinion
Analysis: Real reason for deadlock in nuclear talks that Iranians don't trust Americans in general and President Obama in particular.
There is an almost zero chance that Iran and the world powers will sign a historic agreement on Monday, but the reason for that has nothing to do with the details of the negotiations: Not with the number of centrifuges, not with the number of inspection years and not even with the West's insistence to get its hands on the Iranian military nuclear project.
The real reason for the deadlock is that the Iranians don't trust the Americans in general and US President Barack Obama in particular.
So on the eve of concluding the negotiations – after 18 months of talks, during which the Iranians realized that the Americans have a vital interest in reaching an agreement and are willing to pay a lot for it – they raised the ultimate demand, which even the eager Obama administration could not accept: Lifting the sanctions immediately upon signing the agreement.
Obama wants to lift the sanctions gradually, over a few years, both due to the need to examine how serious the Iranians really are and because the Congress will not approve an overall removal of the sanctions.
But the Iranians are holding a mirror to his face and saying: You are demanding that we freeze the situation and accept tight supervision for 10 years – but in three years' time, when we demand a further ease of the sanctions, you'll have a different president who might not fulfill the commitment you are giving us today.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani promised spiritual leader Ali Khamenei and his people a dramatic change in the country's economy following the removal of the sanctions, but the Iranians don't believe that the current agreement will lead to an immediate improvement in their situation, and are therefore setting an ultimatum to the West: All or nothing.
During the negotiations, the Americans agreed to everything. There is not a single intelligence agency in the West today which thinks the Iranians don’t have a nuclear military project, but the Americans dropped the demand to receive information and supervise the project.
The Americans also agreed that the Iranians would continue to produce enriched uranium through centrifuges. The only disagreement was over the number: At first, the US agreed to only 1,500 centrifuges, and then went up to 4,500, but the Iranians insisted on keeping everything they had already built – all the 9,000 centrifuges they have.
Then the Americans began inventing patents such as "leave the centrifuges, but just cut off the electricity supply so that we'll see they are not working." The Iranians wouldn't even agree to that.
In order to square the circle, the Americans sent up trial balloons in the form of reports that the Russians or anyone else would produce the fuel rods for the Iranians, but the Iranians thwarted the initiative by turning down the idea.
Washington's explanation of its generosity towards Tehran was that even an imperfect diplomatic achievement is preferable to a military conflict with harsh results.
The US admits that Iran is just around the corner from producing a nuclear weapon, and that within a year and a half it will be able to arm a nuclear bomb as soon as it decides. But according to the Americans, if this situation can be frozen for at least 10 years through tight supervision – it will be enough. They will rack our brains later as to what to do next. The important thing today is to recruit Iran for the sake of regional stability.
In light of the poor relations between Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has almost zero influence on the US on the Iranian issue. The Americans update the Israelis, and opinions are exchanged, but when there is no trust on the political echelon it means nothing.
Israel, however, can see a certain accomplishment in the fact that a permanent agreement has not been achieved, as this has postponed the inevitable conflict between Jerusalem and Washington.
And so once again it has been proven that the American administration has no decisive influence over processes in the region. The Americans will avoid another resounding failure in their foreign policy at any cost, and will therefore make every effort to continue the talks for at least three more months. By then, the Iranian may lower the price. The problem is that the US has nothing left to sell after selling almost everything.
Druze IDF soldier denied entry to
northern Israeli pub
Goel Beno /Ynetnews
Published: 11.24.14, / Israel News
Ran Abu Dolah fought during Operation Protective Edge and injured by an anti-tank missile but was not allowed entry to a pub in northern Israel over the weekend because he is not Jewish, 'Apparently, they are good enough to fight in Gaza but not to enter a pub,' says a friend of Dolah.
Ran Abu Dolah, a Druze IDF soldier who fought during Operation Protective Edge and was injured by a Hamas anti-tank missile, decided to head over to a pub in northern Israel with another Druze friend over the weekend, but was denied entry into the establishment. The security guard at the entrance said, “I’m not allowed to let in non-Jews,” according to Dolah.
Dolah is a 23-year-old from Yarka, a Druze village in northern Israel that is located northeast of Acre.
The owner of the Carmiel pub which the boys tried to enter said, “We do not discriminate, it’s a members only club.”
Dolah was drafted into the IDF after he completed a prestigious program sponsored by the IDF, which pays for studies of promising soldiers in return for an extended military service in a specialized field.
Dolah studied electronic and electrical engineering and served in the esteemed Golani Brigade in the IDF.
During Operation Protective Edge, Dolah entered Gaza with his unit directly into the battle stricken city of Sajaiya where 13 IDF soldiers were killed.
On the 27th of July, Dolah was wounded by a Hamas anti-tank missile and suffered a fractured pelvis and herniated disc for which he is still undergoing rehabilitative treatment.
Last Thursday night, Dolah intended to have a fun night with some friends at the Carmiel pub in northern Israel.
The security guard at the entrance to the pub allowed Dolah’s Jewish friends to enter without trouble.
However Dolah and his friend Amir Hamoud (22), who is also a resident of Yarka, were told they had to stay outside.
“We have a lot of Jewish friends from our studies, one of them served with us in the Golani Brigade, and usually we go out together. However when the security guard at the entrance saw where we lived on our IDs, he told me that the owner of the pub instructed him not to allow anybody who is not Jewish to enter,” said Dolah.
“I didn’t believe what I was hearing. What did we do to deserve this treatment?” added Hamoud.
The two men quickly told their Jewish friends, who were already inside the pub, that they were not allowed to enter. Their friends tried to help.
“I talked to the owner of the place. I told him these are our friends - great people. The owner avoided answering us and sent us to speak with the security guard who said ‘I do what the owner tells me,’” said Harel Charsky.
“When we saw that Ran and Amir were left outside, we got up and left the pub. This is shameful discrimination and racism,” said Charsky.
Another friend, Natanel Kalfon still seemed shocked by the incident: “I have never encountered this kind of racism. Apparently the Druze are good for military service, to fight in Gaza, but not good enough to enter a pub. The moment they take off their uniform nobody counts them.” Dolah and Hamoud were forced to shamefully go home that night.
“This is not the first time, and unfortunately probably not the last, that young Druze who give everything to the nation are discriminated against when they go out during the weekend,” said Dolah.
"They must decide – if we are truly speaking of a lifelong covenant between Jews and Druze in this country, then it must be manifested in life and not only in death," said Dolah.
The owner of the Carmiel pub responded and said that the “Carmiel pub is a members only club. The customers sign up during the week and receive a member's card.”
“We do not discriminate. I have a great respect for the Druze community. Many Druze businesspeople enjoy themselves here, and everything is okay. We employ Muslim security guards, and the bartender is a Lebanese Christian, and we respect and accept everyone,” he continued. Even though the sign outside the pub says the establishment is a “member's only club,” Kalfon claimed that this was a “lie and deceit” and the club is “open to everyone.”
“My friends and I have gone there and we are not members,” Kalfon said.
The spiritual leader of the Druze community, Sheikh Moafaq Tarif, said that “after 65 years it is a disgrace that the Druze are not properly integrated into Israeli society as they should be, and are not allowed to enter places in this country. The time has come for equality and not just in words, but in actions. This discrimination against Druze must be condemned.”
Jews and Arabs can maintain good relations
Eitan Haber/Ynetnews/Published: 11.24.14/ Israel Opinion
Op-ed: We don’t have to hug each other all day, but we must understand that we have been sentenced to live together.
One has to be a trouble collector these days to dare suggest that the State of Israel's Jewish residents try to maintain a different relationship with more than 20% of their neighbors – the Israeli Arabs.
It's an indisputable fact that relatively few Israeli Jews have ever visited Qalansawe, which is only a 20-minute drive from Tel Aviv. Many Israelis are willing to queue for a restaurant in Paris for two hours, but not to get into their cars and drive and drive to Tayibe for 30 minutes to drink coffee on a stool in a local café. Tayibe? Have you gone mad? They shoot there. They hate us. It's very dangerous.
Our relations with Israel's Arabs are portrayed as the relations between the psycho soccer fans of Bnei Sakhnin and the psychos of Beitar Jerusalem. Enemies, without a love story. A war.
On such a day, even before the explosive game in Sakhnin, how can anyone write about the good relations which Jews and Israeli Arabs used to have, and may still have one day? Excuse me, but those who have gone out of their time, including myself, should board a special flight even before the game to have some excellent ice cream abroad.
There are many among us who see Israel's Arabs as submissive, poor, ignorant, primitive. Their regular comments include "A good Arab is a dead Arab" or "One cannot trust an Arab even in the grave." And there are certain people in the State of Israel who are very interested in fixating this image. It serves them politically.
Quite a few people will consider it completely unpatriotic to report that although there are many in the Arab population who live in despicable conditions, there are also houses there which would put to shame the villas of Herzliya Pituach and Kfar Shmaryahu; that the young members of the Arab minority serve Israel's pharmaceutics industry in masses, work as doctors and as nurses in hospitals, as computer programmers, as teachers and more.
Jews will put their lives in the hands of an Arab surgeon in a hospital and call him an "Arabush" (a derogatory term for an Arab) two days later.
According to the Israel Democracy Institute's surveys, more than one-third of Israel's Arabs see themselves as Israelis and as an inseparable part of Israel's society and landscapes. They say that once, in the 1990s for example, the number was much higher. On one Independence Day, Arabs raised the flag of Israel over their homes in Nazareth for the very first time.
Since those years, there have been at least two violent "Land Days" with casualties (and that was also the Arabs' fault of course), and the humiliating and repulsive attitude towards them continued, alongside harsh statements made by the Islamic Movement's leaders against Israel, the populist and foolish behavior of some of the Arab Knesset members, and mainly the ongoing affiliation, which will likely never be severed, between Israel's Arabs and the Palestinian population in the territories.
We, who see every spit on a Jew in the alleys of Toulouse or Brussels as a spit in our own face, are unwilling to accept the affiliation between the Arabs of Tira and the Arabs of Khan Younis or Rafah.
We must understand even if we don’t want to: We have been sentenced to live together. If there are no good neighborly relations between Moshav Hagor and Qalansawe, there will never be good relations between Qalqilya and Kfar Saba. We don't have to hug each other all day. Israel has chilly peace agreements with Egypt and with Jordan, but there are no wars and no casualties. That's what we need.
How do we get there? We change our mindset and our patterns of behavior. We start thinking that a good Arab is a living Arab. We don't convince ourselves that "the Israeli Arabs should thank us" for all the good things we offer them.
We don’t say day and night that in Saudi Arabia or in Egypt or in Syria they wouldn’t dare talk the way they talk and act here. Excuse me, do we want to be like Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Syria?
Islamic State to Christians: Convert
to Islam, pay jizya or be killed
NOVEMBER 23, 2014
BY ROBERT SPENCER
“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” (9:29)
Bishop Bob would say something about this, but the “Muslim-Christian dialogue” meeting is tonight, and Imam Mahmoud is such a nice guy — did you hear the one he tells about the priest, the rabbi and the imam who walk into a bar? — and the hummus is so good over at Masjid Khalid ibn al-Walid…And anyway, Imam Mahmoud has assured the bishop that he condemns the persecution of Christians. What’s that? Did Bishop Bob ask him what programs Masjid Khalid ibn al-Walid had to teach Muslims to reject the understanding of Islam that led to the persecution? Oh, come now. You wouldn’t have expected him to be rude when everyone was being so nice, now, would you? A man doesn’t get to be a Cardinal by asking that kind of question. And that hummus — it’s out of this world!
“Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country,” by Patrick Cockburn, the Independent, November 23, 2014 (thanks to Thomas Pellow):
Two years ago Jalal Yako, a Syriac Catholic priest, returned to his home town of Qaraqosh to persuade members of his community to stay in Iraq and not to emigrate because of the violence directed against them.
“I was in Italy for 18 years, and when I came back here my mission was to get Christians to stay here,” he says. “The Pope in Lebanon two years ago had established a mission to get Christians in the East to stay here.”
Father Yako laboured among the Syriac Catholics, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, who had seen the number of Christians in Iraq decline from over one million at the time of the American invasion in 2003 to about 250,000 today. He sought to convince people in Qaraqosh, an overwhelmingly Syriac Catholic town, that they had a future in Iraq and should not emigrate to the US, Australia or anywhere else that would accept them. His task was not easy, because Iraqi Christians have been frequent victims of murder, kidnapping and robbery.
But in the past six months Father Yako has changed his mind, and he now believes that, after 2,000 years of history, Christians must leave Iraq. Speaking at the entrance of a half-built mall in the Kurdish capital Irbil where 1,650 people from Qaraqosh have taken refuge, he said that “everything has changed since the coming of Daesh (the Arabic acronym for Islamic State). We should flee. There is nothing for us here.” When Islamic State (Isis) fighters captured Qaraqosh on 7 August, all the town’s 50,000 or so Syriac Catholics had to run for their lives and lost all their possessions.
Many now huddle in dark little prefabricated rooms provided by the UN High Commission for Refugees amid the raw concrete of the mall, crammed together without heat or electricity. They sound as if what happened to them is a nightmare from which they might awaken at any moment and speak about how, only three-and-a-half months ago, they owned houses, farms and shops, had well-paying jobs, and drove their own cars and tractors. They hope against hope to go back, but they have heard reports that everything in Qaraqosh has been destroyed or stolen by Isis. Christians who fled Mosul pray at a church in Qaraqosh Christians who fled Mosul pray at a church in Qaraqosh
Some have suffered worse losses. On the third floor of the shopping mall in Irbil down a dark corridor sits Aida Hanna Noeh, 43, and her blind husband Khader Azou Abada, who was too ill to be taken out of Qaraqosh by Aida, with their three children, in the final hours before it was captured by Isis fighters. The family stayed in their house for many days, and then Isis told them to assemble with others who had failed to escape to be taken by mini-buses to Irbil. As they entered the buses, the jihadis stripped them of any remaining money, jewellery or documents. Aida was holding her three-and-a-half month old baby daughter, Christina, when the little girl was seized by a burly IS fighter who took her away. When Aida ran after him he told the mother to get back on the bus or he would kill her. She has not seen her daughter since.
It is not the savage violence of Isis only that has led Father Yako to believe that Christians have no future in Iraq. He points also to the failure of both the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to defend them against the jihadis. Christians in Iraq have traditionally been heavily concentrated in Baghdad, Mosul and the Nineveh Plain surrounding Mosul. But on 10 June some 1,300 Isis fighters defeated at least 20,000 Iraqi army soldiers and federal police and captured Mosul. The army generals fled in a helicopter. In mid-July Christians in the city were given a choice by Isis of either converting to Islam, paying a special tax, leaving or being executed. Almost all Christians fled the city.
Kurdish peshmerga moved into Qaraqosh and other towns and villages in the Nineveh Plain. They swore to defend their inhabitants, many of whom stayed because they were reassured by these pledges. Father Yako recalls that “before Qaraqosh was taken by Daesh there were many slogans by the KRG saying they would fight as hard for Qaraqosh as they would for Irbil. But when the town was attacked, there was nobody to support us.” He says that Christian society in Iraq is still shocked by the way in which the Iraqi and Kurdish governments failed to defend them.
Johanna Towaya, formerly a large farmer and community leader in Qaraqosh, makes a similar point. He says that up to midnight on 6 August the peshmerga commanders were assuring the Syriac Catholic bishop in charge of the town that they would defend it, but hours later they fled. Previously, they had refused to let the Christians arm themselves on the grounds that it was unnecessary. Ibrahim Shaaba, another resident of the town, said that he saw the Isis force that entered Qaraqosh early in the morning of 7 August and it was modest in size, consisting of only 10 vehicles filled with fighters.
At first, IS behaved with some moderation towards the 150 Christian families who, for one reason or another, could not escape. But this restraint did not last; looting and destruction became pervasive. Mr Towaya says that the Isis authorities in Mosul started “giving documents to anybody getting married in Mosul to enable them to go to Qaraqosh to take furniture [from abandoned Christian homes].”
As so many had fled, there are few who can give an account of how IS behaved in their newly captured Christian town. But one woman, Fida Boutros Matti, got to know all too well what Isis was like when she and her husband had to pretend to convert to Islam in order to save their lives and those of their children, before finally escaping. Speaking to The Independent on Sunday in a house in Irbil, where they are now living, she explained how she and her husband Adel and their young daughter Nevin and two younger sons, Ninos and Iwan, twice tried to flee but were stopped by Isis fighters.
“They took our money, documents and mobile phones and sent us home,” she says. “After 13 days they knocked on our door and the men were separated from the women. Thirty women were taken with their children to one house and told they must convert to Islam, pay a tax or be killed. We told them that since they had taken all our money, we could not pay them.” Four days later, some fighters burst into the house saying they would kill the women and the children if they did not convert….
The slaughter of innocents
MICHAEL COREN/Sun News
November 23rd, 2014
I have walked through the streets of Har Nof several times over the years. It’s a quiet part of Jerusalem, in the far west of the town, distant from the tantrums and trumpeting of the old city and the claustrophobic, though spectacular, narrow streets around the Muslim, Jewish and Christian holy places.
It’s also a direct link, a conduit from the ancient, Talmudic Jewish state to modern Israel. Two thousand years ago it served the Jewish capital as an annex, a suburb, and today one can still see ancient wine presses and the foundations of buildings where Jews worked and lived at the time of scripture. And to think some people doubt this is Jewish land!
It’s also an ultra-orthodox area, a magnet for new immigrants whose only desire is to pray and live in peace to the rhythms of a land where their ancestors lived long before Islam existed or the Palestinians had settled. They are generally apolitical, they do not live in settlements and only the most racist of anti-Zionists would argue that Har Nof was in some way occupied.
But still the innocents were slaughtered - shot and axed to death because they were Jews and identifiable as such. But there is more. This was a direct and deliberate example of religious murder. There was no military point to the act of terror, no soldiers were targeted, no guns were stolen, no kidnapping took place. This was Muslim fanatics killing Jews.
The Islamic aspect is vital here. The culprits were not part of Hamas or Islamic Jihad but were affiliated to the PFLP, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a group founded by a Greek Orthodox Christian and long committed to Marxism and secular revolution.
The PFLP was always violent and extreme, but the notion that its members would scream the Islamic war cry of “Allahu Akbar” or “God is Great” as they killed rabbis at prayer is extraordinary and it shows how completely Islamist the Palestinian nationalist narrative has become. There was a time when the leadership of the Palestinian cause included many nominal Christians and leftists. That reality is long gone.
Israel’s reaction to the horror has been tempered and controlled, which it has to be. Hamas and their allies are losing influence, having waged a disastrous campaign in Gaza recently. Yet they’re not fools and know that if they can force Israel to attack them, the world will once again embrace the David and Goliath cliché and blame the Jews.
There are, of course, moderate Palestinian voices. A major Ramallah-based journalist wrote on Wednesday that slaughter in a synagogue was no different from slaughter in a mosque and that this was not heroism but criminality. Tragically, his voice is thin and the fanatical scream is thick with blood and gore.
I don’t believe there is very much hope for a so-called two-state solution, but then again there probably never was. The rise of Islamic fundamentalism has muddied the conversation, Israeli settlements have only worsened the relationship, the decay of the Arab status quo elsewhere in the region has unleashed dark and unpredictable forces.
This crime will not be the last. I wish I could say otherwise, but I can’t.
Israeli government vs. State of Israel
Published: 11.24.14/Israel Opinion
Op-ed: Both Israel's prime minister and right-wing ministers know Jewish nation-state law will only contribute to delegitimization campaign. So why are they giving Israel's haters exactly what they're looking for?
We have to listen to the arguments presented by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the right-wing camp. The things they say are sometimes logical. The absolute justice is on neither side. The arguments in favor of the Jewish nation-state law should also be heard.
But the right's arguments have never sounded more ludicrous. Why do we need this law? What will Israel gain from it?
The main explanation is strengthening Israel's character as a Jewish state. Is Israel suffering from any shortage in terms of recognition of its character? Well, the United Nations Partition Plan, which will be 67 years old in several days, mentioned the term "Jewish state" 29 times. The Declaration of Independence, the pivotal document of the State of Israel's establishment, declares that the State of Israel is a Jewish state. The justified Law of Return was enacted accordingly.
The two most important basic laws include the words "a Jewish and democratic state." Basic Law: The Knesset and the Elections Law also include the phrase "Jewish and democratic." And if that were not enough, almost every serious peace initiative, including the Clinton outline and the Geneva Initiative, include the recognition of Israel as the Jewish people's nation-state.
So why the hell do we need an addition? Those who need this addition are mainly saying something about themselves. Their intention isn’t to strengthen Israel's recognition as the Jewish people's nation-state. They have a completely different intention. Indeed, in the past few years, the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state has been undermined, internally as well. But this subversion belongs to the margins.
Now, because of the government's decision, the undermining will only grow. It’s not only the radical left which doesn't believe in a Jewish and democratic state. It's the exact same story of the radical right. The left wants a state which is democratic and less, if at all, Jewish. The right wants a state which is Jewish and less, if at all, democratic.
So there is one outcome: This initiative strengthens those who oppose a Jewish and democratic state, both from the left and from the right.
What troubles me more is that both the prime minister and the Likud and right-wing ministers know very well that there is no need for this law. They know it contains absolutely nothing. They know that its only contribution will be to the Israel delegitimization campaign.
Why there are many bad people who are looking for any excuse to present Israel as a racist, nationalistic, fascist state. They argue that there is no way to combine "Jewish" with "Democratic." And now Israel's prime minister, the man who knows this law is harmful and unnecessary, gives Israel's haters exactly what they're looking for. So I must ask again: Why?
The commentators say it's a political matter. The Likud primary elections. If that's the reason, then the Likud's ministers and Knesset members apparently see their voters as a group of fools craving provocative and unnecessary moves.
That may be true regarding a small number of the voters or Likud Central Committee members. But it's safe to assume that there is a big camp of sane people there. They are perfectly capable of telling the difference between a national interest and a foolish and provocative move. But the Likud leaders, it seems, don't think very highly of the Likud members.
Israel often has excellent arguments against the anti-Israel campaign. It's quite sad that this time it's the Israeli government which has waged a campaign against the State of Israel