Tag Archives: Syria

Tiny crowded Israel

Journeying through northern Israel

Much of the world’s political troubles are centered on the question of Israel in the middle of the Middle East. In both the Arab world as well as in some western intellectual circles, there are whole campaigns to make it go away (some peaceful, some genocidal). Politicians, pundits, and intellectuals argue incessantly about the rights of the Palestinians and the Jews, the best solution of achieving peace, and even the question of whether the Jews who have immigrated there have a right to stay.

I have just returned from spending two weeks in Israel, a trip I do somewhat regularly to see family. Each of these visits has given me an on-the-ground close-up look at the situation there, something that is difficult to get from the typically shallow media coverage of the region. And from each of these visits comes at least one essay, something I think is required because of Israel’s significance in much of the world’s political turmoil.

This year, we took a three day sightseeing trip to northern Israel, to visit some Roman ruins, the Sea of Galilee, and an incredible nature preserve that is the springtime home for thousands upon thousands of migrating birds. This excursion thus made this particular Israel visit far different from my half dozen or so previous trips, in that it was the first time I spent a considerable time in Israel proper. All my previous trips visiting family had me spend almost all my time going from one West Bank settlement to another. (That experience resulted in a series of essays on what those settlements are really like, which not surprisingly has no resemblance to their portrayal in the western press. My previous essay, A look at some Israeli West Bank settlements, provides a good summary, but it also provides links to all the previous essays, which are definitely worth the time to read if you want to find out what it is really like in the West Bank. I will give you one clue that might shock you: Hitchhiking is one of the most popular ways to get around.)

Anyway, this three-day trip allowed me to get my first look at Israel itself. The map above shows our route, as indicated by the dotted red line. The numbered Xs were our stops, of which I will discuss below.
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The dying Palestinians in Syria

Link here. If you want to really understand the corrupt and evil nature of the Palestinian leadership, you need only read this one article.

A Palestinian refugee camp has been under siege for more than 1,660 days. Hundreds of the camp residents have been killed, while tens of thousands have been forced to flee from their homes.

Those who have remained in the camp — mostly the elderly, women and children — live in unspeakable sanitary conditions and drink polluted water. More than 200 Palestinians from the camp, which has been under siege since 2013, have died as a result of lack of food or medicine. The conditions in the refugee camp, by any standard, are horrific.

Why have most of us not heard about the hair-raising “living” conditions that characterize this camp? Because it is not located in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. The name of the camp is Yarmouk, and it is located about five miles from the Syrian capital of Damascus.

More than 100,000 Palestinians used to live in the 2.11 square-kilometer Yarmouk camp before the civil war erupted in Syria in 2011. By the end of 2014, the number of the camp residents had plummeted to 13,000.

And what has Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas done about this?

While his people are being killed, starved, displaced and denied medical treatment in Syria, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appears to be more concerned about US President Donald Trump’s recent announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Picking a fight with the US administration has become a daily national sport for Abbas and his top officials in Ramallah. Hardly a day passes without another Palestinian Authority statement strongly denouncing Trump and his administration’s policies toward the Palestinians. But when it comes to the suffering of Palestinians in Syria, Ramallah is mute.

Palestinian leaders who hold regular meetings in Ramallah simply ignore the atrocities their people face in the Arab countries, especially Syria. Instead, the leaders devote most of their time to issuing condemnations of Israeli settlements and the Trump administration, as if Palestinians are not being killed by the thousands in an Arab country.

The 82-year-old Abbas, meanwhile, has made clear where his priorities stand. Instead of searching for ways to help his people in Syria and the Gaza Strip, where hospitals are facing a deathly shortage of fuel and medicine, Abbas has just spent $50 million to purchase a “presidential plane.” [emphasis mine]

Remember the last detail highlighted above the next time Trump announces that he is cutting funds to the Palestinian Authority. It is clear that any money given to them is not going where it should, and should therefore be cut off.

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ISIS capital Raqqa falls to U.S. backed forces

Raqqa, the last major urban stronghold held by ISIS, has fallen today to U.S. backed Kurdish forces in Syria.

There remain a lot of mopping up to do, but this victory signals the end of at least one brutal Islamic regime. Meanwhile, the Syrian civil war continues, and the conflict between the Kurds and all of its surrounding neighbors (Turkey, Syria, and Iraq) simmers.

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Putin to revive the KGB

The coming dark age: One day after Putin’s party won an easy election victory it has announced that they plan on reviving the secret security force known previously as the KGB.

“The KGB was one of the strongest special services in the world – everyone recognised this,” Sergei Goncharov, who served in Russia’s now disbanded Alpha counter-terror unit in the 1990s, told state media. Mr Goncharov also said the creation of the MGB would provide Russia with a “strong fist” overseen by a unified leadership.

Kremlin critics were horrified by the possible rebirth of an organisation synonymous in Russia with political oppression. “It’s time to get out [of the country],” wrote Elshad Babaev, a Twitter user. “Anyone who can should take the opportunity.”

Unlike the 20th century, however, the west can no longer be called “the free world”, as it was then. Instead, we are lumbering toward the same evils, and thus do not necessarily provide a safe haven for real political refugees that we were then. Instead, our bankrupt intellectual leadership has been rushing to bring in fifth columnists from the Middle East while leaving the real refugees there to suffer persecution by Islamic radicals.

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Syria’s only astronaut now a refugee

The uncertainty of life: Muhammed Faris, the only Syrian to ever fly in space, is now a refugee living in Turkey with his family.

Then in 2011, just as he was preparing to enjoy a life in retirement, it all went wrong – as it did for his country. In 2012, he defected from the Syrian Air Force and joined the armed opposition. He was deemed a traitor, had all his honours revoked and his belongings confiscated. He eventually had to flee his country, leaving almost everything behind.

Read it all. He says that his reasons for leaving the air force were because it was bombing its own citizens but I wonder if it might be more complicated than that.

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Maps showing the territories of the Kurds and the Islamic State

Since I think it useful to have a rough geographical understanding of the situation, I have been digging around to find some maps that will outline the territories controlled by the both the Kurds and the Islamic State (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS]), including the areas of dispute. This link provides the best selection I’ve found so far.

Based on these maps, I wonder when ISIS will start moving into next door Iran, as its western regions are adjacent to their present holdings.

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A modern intellectual looks at the Syrian revolt and immediately concludes it was global warming that caused it

A modern intellectual looks at the Syrian revolt and immediately concludes that it was caused by global warming!

Climate change: is there anything it can’t do?

Seriously, the drought in Syria might be a factor behind the revolt, but to assert that the drought was caused by global warming is weak at best. There is no data to make that assertion, none at all. All we have is the opinion of some global warming scientists that such extreme droughts might happen more frequently as the Earth warms. And since the temperature increase as predicted by those very same scientists has not occurred, we should take all their predictions with a big grain of salt.

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