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Everyone should condemn the horror in Syria, especially the left

With the butchery of children and the massacre  of over 100 more civilians in one town alone, the Syrian government has reached a new peak in its gruesome list of achievements. For over a year, the world has witnessed people being slaughtered, day after day.

These words will have little if any effect, and still they must be said: The actions of the Assad government, or any other forces involved in the unbearable killing of civilians is deplorable, contemptible, and inhuman. This is nothing short of a war crime and a crime against humanity. All of humanity.

I say this as a private individual. But the values also express what I view as the shared moral and ethical basis of my ideological community: the Israeli left. I don’t really like the label, because to me human rights are a universal starting point whether one is conservative or liberal. But certainly those who advocate human rights for Israelis, for Palestinians, for minorities, migrants, citizens and strangers, must share in this condemnation.

Lately, the new sport of certain right-wingers (and Im Tirzu is not the only one) is to accuse the left for failing to speak out strongly enough. This is a screaming hypocrisy from the right, who never shed even a crocodile tear over Arab tragedies, but mostly hopes they’ll all kill each other. And if they can bait the lefties in the meantime, they think, at least the Arabs turned out to be good for something. The sickening trivialization of suffering should be the shame of all right-minded right-wingers.

However, as a whole, the Israeli left has not been highly vocal on the topic, although some have indeed made statements of condemnation. I would personally like for all of us who struggle for human rights at home to join the chorus of condemnation – certainly as individuals, and where appropriate, as organizations. Any justifications of why the left has not done so pale in light of the urgency, or what Israelis call “the command of the hour.”

If we truly embrace the universalism of human rights based on the natural rights of all people, this value must arise out of our souls, and transcend the profane realm of politics or strategy, as an immutable truth. Many of us are secular and don’t have too many transcendent beliefs. This is the moment to call upon them.

I do hear the argument made by blogger and human rights worker Yoni Eshpar that Israeli human rights groups would be overstepping their specific mandates on this issue, when there are so many other ongoing and tragic violations around the world.  And he’s right that no such statement from the left will satisfy its critics.

But this isn’t the time for anyone on the left to give a &*^%$. It’s the Syrian people, stupid. That’s why I support Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak in their condemnation of the killing, although their motivations are so clearly cynical.

Let’s not be naïve – probably the last thing Syrians care about is the support of Israelis. But there is power in countries, organizations and individuals, regardless of identity, uniting to condemn and then putting policy behind their words. It’s this kind of global chorus that can lead to a stepped-up sense of international urgency following diplomatic efforts that have so far failed to stop the carnage, leading so far to the ousting of Syrian ambassadors on Tuesday and some talk of military intervention (although with high skepticism, which I share).

My colleague Noam Sheizaf set an excellent example when he concurred with Foreign Minister Lieberman, whose political positions we detest, when the latter recommended that the Israeli government denounce the killings. Noam also spoke precisely for me when he said:

Furthermore, dealing with a massacre taking place across the border would serve as another acknowledgment that Israel, and Israelis, are part of the Middle East, and as such, share the concerns of other people living in the region. It is the kind of psychological shift the local public discourse should have made years ago.

Yes, there are horrors happening elsewhere, too tragic and too numerous to name. But one-fifth of Israel’s population is Arab and Israel is located in the Middle East – this counts as our tragedy too. The people being killed are related culturally, ethnically, linguistically to the largest minority where I live and that minority is integral to my identity as an Israeli.

More importantly, they are related to me as human beings.

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    1. I can hardly expect you to agree with me, Dahlia, but my sources all confirm that ever since the insurgency began, the insurgents, increasingly brought into the country in organised batches from Libya, Jordan, and Turkey, have been either committing or provoking (more often, actually, committing) the atrocities themselves. The principal sources relied upon by the BBC are disinfo fronts, such as the so-called Syrian Observatory on Human Rights, which are based in London. I have reams and reams of material on this on my own blog, because I have been collecting it for a year or so, and I regard it as a textbook disinformation campaign.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Richard Witty

      Great points Dahlia.

      There is a sad irony on Syria.

      In Syria, approximately 9000 have died in conflict with the government. (Its hard to account exactly and by cause, as there is a press blackout.)

      In neighboring Iraq in the 1980’s, tens of thousands died (also unaccountable), without UN declaration or much mention particularly by the left.

      In Israel/Palestine a comparable number have died since the original nakba/independence war.

      Israel gets a much greater degree of attention than the rest of the world. (Even in the Balkans, it took the death count reaching comparable numbers before anyone took notice. In Africa, the numbers were multipled by 10, in the 100,000’s in Rwanda, Sudan, elsewhere historically, before anyone took notice.)

      Syria is seen because it is near Israel, a both hopeful (better that the cruelties be seen than unseen) and cynical outcome (that they receive attention only because it is near Israel).

      The far left expressed great animosity towards Jews and Israelis that had the audacity to speak out about Rwanda and Sudan rather than Palestine, even though the numbers of deaths and brutality of the deaths were in the range of 100’s times the scale of in Palestine.

      The world should speak out about Syria, as confusing as the configuration of the rebels is: comprised of those appreciative of western assistance, and Al Quaida- like movements, in a repeat of the ironies of Afghanistan arming the precursers of Al Quaida in the effort to defeat the Soviets.

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    3. Rowan has a valid point; at best we can’t know who is carrying out which atrocities in many cases. The Syrian government is undoubtedly killing civilians in its use of massive military force on its won population centres
      I suggest anyone interested in this reads http://www.infernalmachine.co.uk/?p=1773 .

      Of course anyone who cares about humanity must condemn any such atrocity, and I guess the Right-wing point is that things are a lot worse in Syria than in Israel/Palestine – at least between major operations like Cast Lead (remind me, how many children died or were maimed in Gaza?).

      But excusing one set of abuses because there are worse elsewhere doesn’t really work, one must first and foremost fight injustice in one’s own community and society as well as taking a consistent stand on all such cases.

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    4. Rowan and Paul – actually I am aware of that. The victims are the issue. That’s why I wrote that they should condemn gov’t forces – or anyone responsible for the killing. simple it’s not – but the point is to express solidarity and protest the killing of civilians.

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    5. Proudzionist777


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    6. Adam Schwartz(AS)

      This is the same Rowan Berkeley who, on another 972 channel, stated his belief that there was Jewish involvement in the 9/11 attacks and offered up a lunatic conspiracy theory that the towers had been brought down by explosive charges that had been secretly planted in the towers prior to the attack.

      I urge all all readers to keep this in mind when considering the credibility of his “sources.” He leaves out the most compelling and obvious evidence– that the Assad family, both father and son, have a long legacy of butchering their own civilian population.

      It’s sad, but not surprising, that RB would turn reality on its head and blame the victims rather than the Assad regime for the massacre of thousands of civilians.

      Reply to Comment
    7. That’s an interesting comparison to Algeria, Paul, and I haven’t seen it made elsewhere. But insurgents masquerading as govt troops doesn’t seem to me to have been a major feature of the Syrian insurgency. Sheer disinfo regarding who did what has been the main feature, starting with the mysterious ‘rooftop snipers’ who used to fire into peacefully demonstrating crowds, something like a year ago. Even when direct armed attacks on govt troops and police began, the insurgent propaganda steadfastly maintained in each and every case that the regime was killing its own troops and police in order to discredit the insurgency, and to a remarkable degree this claim gained credence in the western press. This piece by Sharmine Narwani of al-Akhbar is a good expose of the western media treatment:

      Reply to Comment
    8. Aaron the Fascist Troll

      Regarding crimes against “all of humanity,” (1) I consider myself to be part of humanity, and (2) I don’t consider these to be crimes against me. If I’m wrong, then I must be wrong about either (1) or (2), but anyway, that’s how I feel. So maybe they’re “crimes against all of humanity except for Aaron,” I don’t know.
      “Crimes against humanity” is a POLEMICAL concept. It defines an enemy of humanity, in this case Assad – someone who’s placed outside of humanity, who therefore deserves whatever humanity, represented by the United States, Western Europe, and Dahlia Sheindlin, decides to do to him and his supporters.
      On human rights being a starting point for both conservatives and liberals, well, (warning: history lesson ahead!) opposition to the politics of human rights – “natural rights” or “the Rights of Man” – was one of the founding principles of conservative ideology back at the time of the French Revolution: Edmund Burke and Joseph de Maistre, to name two of the founders of modern conservatism. (Burke didn’t go quite so far as to deny the existence of abstract, universal, “metaphysic rights,” but he denied their applicability to politics, if they did exist.) Without getting into a polemic about “true” conservatism, I’d say that *opposition* to the politics of human rights is, or was, the starting point of conservatism.

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    9. Ted

      Dear Dahlia,

      Perhaps best Israeli show of concern would be to push hard for Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights, the part of Syrian territory that Israel holds under military occupation?

      I couldn’t find ending Israel’s occupation of Syrian territory in your article.



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    10. Richard Witty

      Are you asserting that the Syrians did not fire on demonstrators, that the number of 8500 killed by the government (per UN sources in March), is fabricated?

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    11. max

      @Dahlia, here you are, calling for a universal condemnation of horror, and yet can’t refrain from accusing the ‘right’ – without any proof – while acknowledging that the ‘right’ was there early? The hate stronger than all the rest?

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    12. I assume that question is addressed to me, Richard, since Paul, the other doubter, actually says: “The Syrian government is undoubtedly killing civilians in its use of massive military force on its own population centres.” I believe that, on a number of occasions, insurgent snipers have fired on troops from among, behind, or over the heads of unarmed demonstrators and drawn return fire. As for the number of 8,500 killed by the government (per UN sources in March), I should like to know, 8,500 of what? The way you put the question together implies 8,500 unarmed demonstrators, and I would certainly deny that. The UN is normally (1) unable to distinguish inflated figures from accurate ones, (2) the deaths of armed insurgents from the deaths of unarmed demonstrators, and (3) the identities of those who killed them, whoever they were.

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    13. Here’s a fairly useful assessment written today by Tony Cartalucci:
      In the wake of the Houla massacre in Syria, and evidence exposing the West’s initial narrative of Syrian troops “shelling to death” around 100 people to be categorically false, people are struggling to understand just what happened. The BBC has admitted that only “most” of the accounts they’ve received implicated what they “believe” were Syrian troops, or pro-government militias, and by doing so, implied that some did not and have told a different account. The BBC was caught initially using years-old photos from Iraq for their Houla coverage, while papers and networks across the board have had to adjust their narratives entirely as each new piece of verified evidence emerges. What is known is that Syrian troops were engaged with armed militants of the FSA in and around Houla. Syrian troops, as they have been doing throughout the conflict, were using artillery and tanks to target heavily fortified rebel positions from a distance. During or shortly after this exchange, militants began entering homes and killing families with knives and small arms fire. The FSA and Syrian opposition claim the militants were pro-government militias, while the government claims they were foreign-backed Al Qaeda terrorists, known to be operating throughout the country. What they weren’t, by all accounts, were Syrian troops. The FSA has been regularly engaging in armed combat with government troops and now more than ever, are better equipped with communication equipment, weapons, cash and logistical support from the West and the Gulf States. Militants in Syria have already demonstratively drawn troops into a conflict used as cover to commit manufactured atrocities to be used as propaganda against the government. In 2011, “mystery gunmen” would regularly start firefights during protest rallies, firing on both Syrian troops and protesters, with both sides describing elusive “rooftop snipers.” Houla appears to simply be on a much larger scale, involving militants most likely not affiliated with local FSA fighters or the Syrian government, but foreign elements just as the Syrian government has claimed. FSA fighters, Houla residents, and Syrian troops all seem baffled as to who exactly committed the atrocities. Clearly there is the distinct possibility that a third party took advantage of a prolonged engagement between the FSA and government troops in Houla, to manufacture a very real atrocity. With so few facts in hand, it would be the height of irresponsibility to lay blame on anyone so squarely that punitive actions are leveled.

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    14. noam

      ted – you are so detached it’s frightening. what on earth does the dispute over the golan have to do with what’s currently happening in syria? if anything, now is the single obvious moment NOT to step off of the golan since 1967. in the future, in return for peace – yes. but how would stepping off of the golan now help anything or anybody? what could it do but strengthen assad’s regime?

      it’s sad that israel holding the golan (hardly a humanitarian crisis) bothers you more than the actual tragedy of syria these days. you’re like a caricature of a real nut.

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    15. Devin

      Most leaders showed no respect for human rights. Remember how G.Bush and his gang created war based on nothing and killed thousand and thousand civilian, dislocated more than few millions and destroyed Iraq completely. Which internation organization questioned him or have you seen Internation court send him any complain letter? Have you seen Tony Blair gets a call from International court? Most leaders are brutal and anti human rights and most dangerous one are living in Middle East. Sadam Hussain(dead), Mobarak (almost dead), Netanyahu, Ahmadinejad, Assads family and all the kings in S.Arbia learned their lesson from Western Countries leaders. US complains about Bashar Assad and they can not remember they killed and buthered too many civilian and still do in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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    16. Ted

      Dear Noam,

      I think the point was far too subtle and ironic for you, and perhaps for some others who are similarly myopic.

      1) It’s self-evident that any human being who cares about human rights should condemn the actions of the Assad regime.

      2) Israelis, including many in the Israeli left, tend, however, to live in collective denial or at best amnesia about Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights. Israel’s primary relationship is as aa beligerent occupier of Syrian land, and probably secondarily as an oppressors of Palestinians, living as refugeees in Syria, or living under direct Israeli control.

      3) Dahlia (and before her Hoam) are displaying this Israeli amnesia/denial re the Golan. In completely ignoring this reality while speaking about how the Israeli left should relate to Syria, Dahlia consciously or unconsciously obfuscates Israel’s role is as an occupier of a part of Syria.

      4) I highly doubt that Syrians, as Dahlia notes, or for that matter most anyone else in the world, cares one bit what the Israeli left has to say about the current conflict in Syria. As currently constituted, this is an internal Israeli debate only.

      5) The best thing Israeli leftists can do is say to fellow Israelis that if you truly now want to claim that you care about human rights in neighboring countries and want to hold people accountable there, fine, but then you need to also end your own human rights abuses committed against that country as well. Israelis really need to be reminded that respecting human rights in Syria also means them taking their own action and ending the occupation of the Golan Heighst and supporting justice for Palestinian refugees there. Whatever the outcome of the current conflict in Syria, I doubt that Syria will ever be fully whole unless additionally the Golan is returned and the Palestinian refugee issue dealt with.

      All the proclamations and condemnations from Israelis ere Syria ring hollow unless they acknowledge the elephant in their room, Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights.


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    17. Richard Witty

      No press is allowed. Hard to know what is happening there, who are the players, what their motives are.

      If only 7000 non-violent civilian demonstrators were killed, is that any less significant?

      I don’t know anyone that has a proposal in play. Those questions don’t reach even Israeli press I expect, less than 150 miles away.

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    18. Adam

      Ted– I had the same reaction as Noam, and your point is not all that subtle; indeed, it’s just as crude and reprehensible: you are drawing a moral equivalency between Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights–territory Israel seized from Syria after Syria attacked them, territory from which Syria rained missiles down on Israel- and the Syrian regime’s slaughter of 8000 people. Only a morally myopic ideologue would draw a comparison of Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights and Assad’s brutal massacre of children.

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    19. Ted

      Yes, yes, Adam, I must be guilty of that. But… if you can just identify for me where I compared the behavior of the Assad regime with Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights, and evaluated which was more heinous, then of course I’ll plead guilty as charged to… moral equivalency!

      But so far all I can immedaietly find is where I suggested that Israelis need to focus on human right aabuses committed by both Syria and Israel in Syria, and not just those committed by Syrians.

      By the way, your imagery of Syrian missiles raining down on Israel is a bit dated (NB, over last 10-20 years you are supposed to mention the missiles when referring to Israel’s need to attack or occupy Gaza and Lebanon). You might consider coming up with a new rationalization. Otherwise you’ll just sound as if you too are in denial of Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights.


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    20. Joel

      Baathism=Nazism, whether it’s Saddam’s or Assad’s version.

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    21. Adam

      Ted– I agree that my reference to Syrian missiles raining down on Syria is dated; unfortunately, the brutality of the Assad family is not, and that’s the reality Israel has to live with. Why would Israel want to return the militarily strategic Golan Heights to a regime that has no moral compunction about slaughtering thousands of its own citizens?

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    22. Danaa

      Dahlia and others: I strongly urge you all to read this by Moon of Alabama:


      There are increasing indications that the actual massacre of civilians was undertaken by al-qaeda / salafi like forces injected from neighbooring countries and armed b and financed by Saudi Arabia and Quatar. These are the same type of groups that mounted a horrific suicide attack in Damascus last week – an attack fro which no one asked “the left” to apologize. There is absolutely no conceivable reason government forces or milita would go on a rampage that is bound to boomerang on the government. It’s also not the MO of the government. As the article above details – the UN has stepped back from earlier statements about sharpnel wounds, confirming only that fewer than 20 of the victims seem to have displayed signs of such attacks. In fact, it was also confirmed that earlier there was a concerted attack by the “rebel” forces (ie the ones financed and encouraged by the gulf states in collusion with the US and UK) on government forces in which several soldiers died and which was no doubt meant to provoke a retaliation by artillery etc. It was at about the same time that the killers perpetrated their massacre, which to the more inquisitive non-propagandized mind appear like a co-ordinated effort.

      Now what should the “left” come to terms with? that there is a co-ordinated directed effort at regime change in Syria as part of the overall neocon effort to “rearrange” the ME and surround Iran? that there is an unbelievably cynical effort underway to isolate Syria and bring it to its knees? that Israel-run US foreign policy supports the arming and wielding of suicide bombers and civilian massacres in order to get the propaganda value it craves? i

      Syria has its issues and could use some reforms. So can Baharain, Saudi Arabia and the increasingly theocratic Israel, which is persecuting civilians every day and which 3 years ago bombed over 600 women and children to smitherins. There is very little that the Assad regime did that israel hasn’t – or Yemen. It’s just different groups that suffer. How many lebanese civilians were murdered by Israel in 2006? in 1982? why not a regime change there?

      I am totally taken aback by the willingness of Dahlia and others ain israel and around the world to get sucked into the propaganda. This article contained not a shred of independent investigation, just a rehashing of MSM accusations – all co-ordinated in the West, all serving to mask the nasty bloody campaign mounted by retrograde forces in the Gulf, forces with which Israel is surreptiously allied. If this is the “left” in israel, well no wonder it numbers all of a few 100 (or is it 1000 yet? no I am not including the cottage cheese demonstrators or the J14 lifestyle rebels).

      As a confirmed leftist I do apologize not just for the heinous actions by the “Free” Syrian army and it s salafi allies but for the naive so-called left that’s really carrying water for the evil schemes of empires.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Ted

      Hi Adam,

      I see that my points are not really aimed at you. They’re aimed at people on the Israeli left, like writers on 972mag. I’m not setting out to convince people with completely divergent understandings on basic issues.



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    24. Power?

      With all due respect, Dahlia, you leftists should stick to what you are best at – supporting Mohammedan suicide bombings and legitimizing genocidal hatred of Jews in Europe.
      Its just completely bizarre to hear an Israeli leftist condemn the behavior of their Quranic allies . . . because why? Because they killed some of their fellow Mohammed-worshippers? Well, boo hoo. That’s Shari’ah. What do you think life is like by your allies in Malmo, Mecca or Ram’allah? What do you think life will be like if you successfully establish a Caliphate in Jerusalem – have you ever read the Quran?
      First stop the wickedness of your allies in the “Israeli Arab” and “Palestinian” communities and then maybe you’ll have standing to condemn violence abroad.
      Those who support the Ummah should shut their mouths. Leave the morality to Right-wing folk who actually believe in human rights and don’t have your blood-stained Mohammedan hands.

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    25. Danaa

      Another account based on the recent UN report of the Hula incident:

      “UN Report on Houla Massacre Conflicts With Rebel Accounts
      Fewer Than 20 Killed by Regime Artillery
      by Jason Ditz, May 29, 2012

      Western officials continue to cite Friday’s Houla massacre as they move to diplomatically isolate Syria, and France’s new president is following in the footsteps of his predecessor in pushing for a UN-backed war.

      But what exactly happened in Houla? The UN’s new report is adding even more questions than it answers, and is once again throwing the rebels’ version of the event, which has been reported unaltered by US officials, into serious doubt.

      The rebel version of the story of the Houla massacre is that Syrian tanks and artillery surrounded the tiny town and started shelling indiscriminately, massacring well over 100 innocent civilians for no apparent reason. Though the death toll seems roughly correct, the UN report revealed that the shelling killed less than 20 people, with the vast majority executed by gunfire at close range.

      This of course makes no sense, since the rebel reports from Friday didn’t even have troops entering the town, claiming that rebel forces had chased them away after artillery fire on a protest.

      The regime’s account doesn’t make sense either. It claimed that rebel troops had killed all of the civilians with small arms fire, and while such weapons do seem to have killed a large number of people, it insisted that there was no shelling, despite clear evidence of regime shells hitting the town.

      In the end we may never know what really happened in Houla, as both sides seem determined to spin patently false versions that lionize their side while demonizing their opponent. Since these narratives have trickled into the rhetoric of the international backers on both sides of this proxy war, there seems little interest in getting at the truth”

      Now, of course, the official story changed from “Government troops” to refer to “Government Militia” as the ones committing the massacre (just heard Rachel Maddow, Ms. progressive, repeat that line unquestioningly). The proof? one survivor said he “thought” that’s who they were. Why and how did he “know” that? who cares – if the glove fits, etc. . This is bering distributed to all news outlets and is being parroted everywhere, including here on the progressive +972, and other “left” channels. What happened to the quest for truth? does it even matter to anyone? and, while we are at it, has anyone in the US (don’t know about Israel) heard a single account of the events at Hula that attempts to sort through the rebel vs government versions with anything resembling honesty?

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    26. Danaa, I remember hammering away at those people on AntiWar.com for months on months to pay attention to what Sibel Edmonds was telling them. She wrote that Col Riad al-Assad, head of the Free Syria Army, had been working since May 2011 with the US & NATO from inside the USAF base at Incirlik, smuggling US weapons into Syria, participating in US psychological and information warfare inside Syria as the middle-man whom Syrian protesters tended to trust, and helping to funnel intelligence and military operators across the border and organise night-time drop-offs by air. The joint US/NATO secret training camp in the USAF base at Incirlik began operations in Apr-May 2011 to organize and expand the dissident base in Syria. Since then, in addition to Col Riad al-Assad, several other high-ranking Syrian military and intelligence officials were added to operations HQ in the USAF base. Weekly weapons-smuggling operations were carried out with full US/NATO participation since May 2011. The HQ also includes an information warfare division where US-NATO crafted communications are directed to dissidents in Syria via the core group of Syrian military and Intelligence defectors.
      It turned out that Angela Keaton had personal issues with Sibel Edmonds. Keaton wrote:
      I am the Director of Operations at Antiwar.com. I make decisions everyday before anything is foisted upon the editors (who have very exacting standards) at Antiwar.com. Your pieces were rejected because they are simply not good. Often the articles on your site are substandard and in one case, sub-literate. Your reputation is also that of a highly difficult contentious prima donna who loathes women and Jews. Over the past years, I have had concluded (sic – RB) that is an accurate assessment. Angela Keaton.
      This is a bit rich coming from someone who told Russia Today that the mainstream media was downplaying the Syrian government’s atrocities because “Assad’s a US puppet.” Meanwhile on Facebook:
      Angela Keaton: Sibel and her friends are upset that I’m Jewish. If anyone is offended by that, I apologize. She just hates Jews. Several work at Antiwar.com. She’s a Jew hating douche. One of the joys of working at Antiwar.com is knowing that 98% of your critics are racist garbage cans.
      Jon Gold: Sibel doesn’t hate Jews. I am a Jew. We’re friends. And that’s all I’m going to say.

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    27. “Yes, there are horrors happening elsewhere, too tragic and too numerous to name. But one-fifth of Israel’s population is Arab and Israel is located in the Middle East – this counts as our tragedy too. The people being killed are related culturally, ethnically, linguistically to the largest minority where I live and that minority is integral to my identity as an Israeli.
      “More importantly, they are related to me as human beings.”
      Well said.
      In my view, a “crime against humanity” is an injuction that this we shall no longer be. It is an improving injuction, not absolute. As a once evolutionary biologist, I think improvement is all we can ever hope for. The injunction is against the behavior, not assigning actor in the first instance. You can call the 49 children documented murdered at close range a “crime against humanity” without assigning either the proximate or more ultimate cause(s).
      You are right that doing this places one’s own State’s future policy in jeopardy, as the present case might be used to constrain future acts of one’s State.
      There is always hypocrisy in declaring such a crime, for the delcaration is for an improving condition, not global absolute. But only by risking this can one see change. Universal human rights may be the last fiction of secularism, but I think it is an indispensable fiction.

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    28. Elisabeth

      Is it strange that Israeli’s who are concerned about human rights concentrate on issues that they can influence (i.e. the policies of their own country) rather than on violations carried out by one or more neighboring regimes that they cannot influence?

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    29. RichardL

      Depressing that Amnesty International USA sent me an email yesterday which began
      “On Friday, the Syrian military brutally killed over 100 people.

      Our sources tell us that the barrage of shells, mortars, rockets and raids on Friday left at least 108 dead, including 34 women and 50 children.

      For more than a year, Amnesty International has been the pre-eminent voice calling global attention to the crimes against humanity being committed in Syria.”
      AI has built up a formidable reputation over 50 years for careful fact checking on human rights abuses. Nothing lasts, and it looks unlikely that Amnesty International is going to be around as a responsible human rights NGO for another 50 years.

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    30. Danaa

      Rowan, amazing information you always have. Love your conspiracy mindfullness. Sibel indeed. WE need more of same to tear at the fabric of manufactured realities, our Metaverse.

      RichardL, Elizabeth – interesting comments. Don’t be so enigmatic now….

      To all who care: whatever are we to do, knowing what’s to come?

      bad sign: my posts are getting shorter….. when I get to one liners, it’s all but over….so there’s still time.

      Reply to Comment
    31. Sibel’s original piece, “Secret US-NATO Training & Support Camp to Oust Current Syrian President,” appeared on her own blog, “Boiling Frogs,” on Nov 21 2011. Phil Giraldi’s AntiWar.com article, “Washington’s Secret Wars,” appeared on Dec 7, and his AmConMag piece “NATO vs. Syria” appeared on Dec 19. Giraldi says that the Free Syria Army are based at Iskenderun. Sibel says they are inside the USAF Incirlik base. Another important difference is that the NATO planes Giraldi talks about are bringing arms and volunteers from Libya to Turkey; Sibel’s planes are going over the Turkish border into Syria doing “night-time drop-offs.”

      Reply to Comment
    32. Rehmat

      No westerm mainstream media will dare to tell you about the dirty hands behind the on-going bloodshed to bring a pro-Israel regime change in Damascus.

      On July 4, 2011, a conference of Syrian anti-regime groups was held in Saint-Germain in France. The meeting was attended by 200 people representing none of the Syrian groups calling for reforms in Syria – the ‘Democratic change in Syria’. The meeting was organized by La Regle du Jeu (The Rule of the Game) magazine and website which is headed by Zionist Jew Bernard-Henri Levy. The other Zionist Jews who attended the meeting included Bernard Kouchner, former French foreign minister, Frederik Ansel, a member of Israel’s ruling Likud Party, Alex Goldfarb, former Knesset member and adviser to Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak and Andre Glucksmann, an Islamophobe French writer…..


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    33. Mohamed El-Ghazi interviews Alain Soral (autotransl)
      Algerie Patriotique, May 7 2012

      Q: Why do you think Bernard-Henri Lévy has been working so hard to encourage Arabs to rise up against their governments?
      A: As an agent of Israel, Bernard-Henri Lévy is working on the Greater Israel project, which is to willingly let Israel be surrounded by ”radical Islamist” regimes, in order to justify, in the eyes of world public opinion, a defensive war of annexation, as Israel has already done three times.

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    34. caden

      Rowan and Rehamt, you know what would be a big story, tell me who was on the grassy knoll in Dallas, 1963. Now that would be interesting.

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    35. Adam

      As this thread has developed, a classic anti-Semitic slander has become more and more pronounced- the Jews are behind it. You can spell “Jew” however you like: Zionist controlled U.S. government; neocons; Bernard-Henri Levy. These are the people, not the Assad regime, responsible for the carnage in Syria. I consider myself to the left of center politically, but over the years I’ve more and more disheartened at the reluctance of the Left to condemn the anti-Semitism within their own ranks.

      Dahlia– You wrote this as a call to the Israeli Left to condemn the atrocities in Syria. Will also you condemn the fact that your editorial has generated more anti-Semitic canards than condemnation of the Syrian government?

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    36. I would prefer it in Rehmat didn’t go, “the Zionist Jew X,” “the Zionist Jew Y,” but I can’t make him change his style.

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    37. I will only observe that the discussion has given me insight into a realm of people ideas and perceptions that are interesting to follow in a sort of anthropological way, but as you point out, Adam, have gone far astray from the purpose of this piece.
      I’d rather leave them behind and focus on questions like the one raised by Elisabeth, which is valid but here’s my response: sometimes we can directly affect a situation through activism – many times, even here in Isr/Pal, some of the most effective work is consciousness-raising. I can’t see any justification for not doing so in this case. If you measure success or impact only by policy change, it gets tricky – after all, it’s not like any left-groups managed to end the occupation so far…

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    38. Ted

      Hi Dahlia,

      Speaking of occupation as you just did, I find it rather astonishing that you still fail to reference in any way Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights.

      Surely as Israelis talk about human rights in Syria they need to always make reference to the need to change their one most salient involvement with Syria? It’s not as if Israeli activists are going to have any impact on the internal human rights situation in Syria otherwise.


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    39. charles

      Do you think that Bashar El Assad care one minute about a weak international condemnation?
      No, he does not care, he still has the support of Russia, China and Iran and also from part of his people.
      The sad thing is that nobody has enough money now to do the job on the field and topple Assad.
      What for anyway ? Al Quaida ?
      And let’s not lie to ourselves, I am sure that many Israelis think that for once that our ennemies are killing each others, why bother!
      They are doing a good job at being barbarics to themselves. In the meanwhile, we can still enjoy the Golan hights for a good few years.

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    40. Elisabeth

      What I mean to say, is that the fact that people in Israel concentrate on things happening in their own country does not mean that they do not care about what happens in Syria. The problem is, that it is hard to write an article about it that contains much more than: “This is horrible, I wish they would stop. I wish there would be an environment there where democratic traditions had the chance to develop that would also ensure the rights of minorities etc.” It would remain rather empty talk, although you may be right that it is nevertheless necessary to say this. But I can understand that people feel that this is out of their hands, and that they would rather put their own yard in order – where they can actually achieve things – rather than just utter hopeful wishes about a situation that they cannot influence.

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    41. sh

      “If you measure success or impact only by policy change, it gets tricky – after all, it’s not like any left-groups managed to end the occupation so far…”
      Could one of the main reasons for that not be that they spread themselves too thin?
      While individually we are horrified by the slaughter in Syria, the occupation should be the number 1 focus as a group; Israeli left-wingers pronouncing on Syrian affairs while ours are in such a sorry state seems futile, pointless (possibly offensive too), a distraction.

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    42. FancyNancy

      Like a lot of commenters here, I fall in the camp of wanting to condemn the atrocities, but not having any idea who is committing them and not trusting any news source whatsoever.

      I don’t trust the government and I don’t trust the NYT. Who would after Iraq?

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    43. Adam

      Nancy– If you’re referring to the reporting of NYT reporter Judith Miller, remember that she was fired by the Times because she allowed herself to be duped by her sources in the government. Here’s an interview with Marie Colvin just before she died covering the atrocities in Syria. She was in Homs, and had no doubt that the Syrian government was responsible for the killing:http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/22/video-journalist-syrias-government-lies/

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    44. Ah, well, if she was on Anderson Cooper’s CNN show, she has to be legit. I mean, remember Danny Dayem, another Cooper protégé, until out-takes appeared showing him standing in a deserted and silent street, muttering “Are we on air?” and waiting for the recorded mortar shelling to come on the soundtrack so that he could do his “we’re taking heavy casualties” number:

      CNN pioneered fake news in modern US media, starting with the first Gulf War in 1991, when their producers staged a faux missile attack from a broadcast studio in Saudi Arabia, complete with blue-screen backdrops, potted palm trees and fake air-raid sirens. CNN’s vintage Gulf War I agitprop theatrics also used fake gunfire sounds and mock explosions in order to make the US public believe something was happening live on air, when it really wasn’t.

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    45. Adam

      Right– and Marie Colvin faked her own death; she was no doubt lying when she said the Syrian army was responsible for the killings; and the dead baby in the video is clearly a doll.

      If you believe, as RB does, the Jews were involved in the 9/11 attacks, then anything is possible and no one is responsible except for the Jews/Zionists/neocons and their agents– the U.S. government.

      “Ah, well, if she was on Anderson Cooper’s CNN show, she has to be legit.” This sentence, more than any other, reveals RB’s moral callowness. He can’t even say her name. Marie Colvin. She died bearing witness to the atrocities committed by the Assad regime, but to recognize this reality, this truth, would be ideologically inconvenient for RB and so he turns Marie Colvin into an abstraction– so much of an abstractions that it’s easy for him to mock her legitimacy. Here is how legitimate Marie Colvin was:

      “Specialising in the Middle East, she also covered conflicts in Chechnya, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and East Timor. In 1999 in East Timor, she was credited with saving the lives of 1,500 women and children from a compound besieged by Indonesian-backed forces. Refusing to abandon them, she stayed with a United Nations force, reporting in her newspaper and on television.[2] They were evacuated after four days. She won the International Women’s Media Foundation award for Courage in Journalism for her coverage of Kosovo and Chechnya.[8][9][10] She wrote and produced documentaries, including Arafat: Behind the Myth for the BBC.[11] She is featured in the 2005 documentary film Bearing Witness.
      Colvin lost the sight in her left eye due to a blast by a Sri Lankan Army rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) on April 16, 2001 while crossing from a LTTE controlled area to a Government controlled area; thereafter she wore an eyepatch. She was attacked even after calling out “journalist, journalist!” while reporting on the Sri Lankan Civil War.[12][13][14][15] She told Lindsey Hilsum of Channel 4 News that her attacker “knew what he was doing.”[16] Colvin had walked over 30 miles through the Vanni jungle with her Tamil guides to evade government troops; she reported on the humanitarian disaster in the northern Tamil region, including a government blockade of food, medical supplies and prevention of foreign journalist access to the area for six years to cover the war.[15][16][17] Colvin later suffered post traumatic stress disorder and required hospitalisation following her injuries. She was also a witness and an intermediary during the final days of the war in Sri Lanka and reported on war crimes against Tamils that were committed during this phase.[15]”

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