The Guardian’s Misleading Editorial

November 20, 2014

 Nasir Khan, November 20, 2014

The Guardian’s editorial on 18 November 2014 (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/18/guardian-view-on-jerusalem-killings) deals with the violent killing of four Israeli worshippers at a synagogue in a Jerusalem neighbourhood on Tuesday 18th November 2014. On hearing the news the PA President Mahmud Abbas condemned this act of violence by two Palestinians, who were immediately killed by the Israeli police. The American rulers and media condemned these brutal killings vociferously. But as far as I am concerned I have always condemned and opposed any acts of violence against anyone because all bloodshed is wrong, unacceptable and indefensible no matter who the perpetrators of such crimes are, Israelis, Palestinians or someone else.

In the last two short paragraphs of the editorial, the editor raised some  fair questions about the policies of the Netanyahu government. But the editor’s portrayal of the gory acts in the first three paragraphs is much flawed and misleading. If the writer has some inkling of the forces that created Israel, not as espoused by the hasbara, but by historians of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict then he would have seen and wrote about them otherwise.

However, it is quite common to see amateur journalists who can easily skip facts to push a story on their readers. But we expect an editorial of the Guardian to present facts in a sober and judicious manner to help readers to understand the issues involved. Melodramatic and emotive language used here hides the facts more than it enlightens. All acts of violence, killings, desecration or provocation in a place of worship are reprehensible. We all readily agree on this. What the two killers did at Bar Nof synagogue was a crime.

At the same time we should also keep in mind what the Israeli authorities and righting Jews have been doing for quite some time at Al-Aqsa Mosque are also crimes and incessant provocations. In fact, the Israeli state and Zionist provocateurs bear the full responsibility for their criminal actions surrounding at Al-Aqsa Mosque for the last few weeks while such provocations by Israeli leaders have a long history. No wonder if such actions lead to their anticipated or unexpected fallout. The killings at the synagogue and the desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque are not isolated incidents; they are interrelated. Obviously, it does not suit hasbara to admit any such connection.

The editor writes, “Attacks like this were precisely what the creation of the state of Israel was meant to prevent. Israel was to be the one place in the world where Jews could pray in peace and safety. Synagogues in London, Paris or New York have grown used to having a security presence on the door. Now there are calls for the same precaution to be taken in Israel, a bleak thought for a country established to be a safe haven.” Here the whole narrative becomes untenable in the light of history. The state of Israel was not created, as the editor asserts, to provide a country to Jews where they could pray in “peace and safety”.

The British imperialists laid the foundations for such a state in 1914 many years before the Nazis under Hitler gained political power in Germany. After the Balfour Declaration in 1917, the plans for the expropriation of the Palestinian people of their land were in place. During the inter-war period, the growing Jewish migration to Palestine and subsequently at the end of the Second World War, the Zionist terrorist organisations in Palestine lost no time to force the British as the mandatory (colonial) power to run back to the British isles. Now the Zionists were in full control. This was the creation of Israel and the start of the process of the Zionist colonisation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

What started in 1948 is still going on. The West Bank has gradually been devoured by Israeli settlements and in East Jerusalem the pace of settlements has increased. Whereas the Gaza strip remains a virtual concentration camp. After the 51-day Israeli war on Gaza, the Zionists have devastated Gaza from which it may take years to recover. Moreover, it is Israel that tells PA President what to do or not to do. Living under Israeli occupation, he has few options. He is a nominal figure operating under a colonial power. As a result he conforms to Tel Aviv’s edicts.

Obviously, the creation of Israel was not to provide a safe place of worship to the Jewish believers. In fact, there was no restriction on Jews going to their synagogues. That was so in Europe, Asia and America. The present-day safety measures in the synagogues of London, Paris or New York, as the editor erroneously explains, are not due to any inherent hatred against the Jews but rather due to the genocidal policies of the state of Israel and its brutal oppression of the Palestinians.

The editor pushes his/her line of thinking even further and along the same lines as before and comes up with an explanation that many observers may find amusing: “By attacking men as they pray – not, it is worth stressing. In the occupied West Bank or in annexed East Jerusalem but inside the boundaries of pre-1967 Israel proper – . . .” No one from Israeli ruling class has ever defined where Israel’s borders and boundaries lie or would lie. To have done so would have meant to forego the Zionist objective of creating Greater Israel. Consequently, the easiest thing to do was better served by keeping the question of ‘Israel’s borders’ a matter in the grey zone, where nothing was definite and all was subject to change as the chances arose.

Pakistani blasphemy laws and minorities

November 6, 2014

Nasir Khan, November 6, 2014

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This unthinkable and horrifying news of the breaking of the legs of  a working-class Christian couple and burning them alive by a large mob of Muslims in Pakistan shows the utmost inhuman acts in the name of religion in general and blasphemy laws of Pakistan in particular. (For details, see:
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-147-2014) It is also important to see that this was an extreme example of that social and moral degradation that prevails in Pakistan. The morbid disregard shown by some extremist or even some ordinary Muslims for crimes against the members of any religious minority, such as Christians, Ahmadis or Hindus, etc. is not frowned upon by many Muslims but is rather viewed as an act of devotion to God and the Prophet. Such is the lower depth of depravity that prevails in Pakistan and very many indoctrinated ignorant  people  rejoice over such acts of  unspeakable savagery in that  country.

But there is little ground to criticise only the ‘uneducated’ or ‘brainwashed’ people; many ‘educated’ people including many lawyers also support such blasphemy laws. For instance, in 2011 Mr Salman Taseer, governor of the Punjab province, a secular leader and opponent of the unjust blasphemy laws, was killed by his own bodyguard because he had spoken against the ill-treatment of Christians and advocated the repeal of the blasphemy laws. It may come as a somewhat surprise to many people in the world that many people in Pakistan had zealously demonstrated in favour of the murderer and among such demonstrators were the Pakistani lawyers who wanted to stand by the murderer and protect the blasphemy laws!

Pakistani rulers and legislators imposed the blasphemy laws in a country where Muslim populace was religious but never morbidly extremist or intolerant of other faiths or viewpoints. However, the introduction of the blasphemy laws changed things drastically. They strengthened further the hands of the rightist and obscurantist forces in the land. Such laws could easily be used and exploited in matters that had nothing to do with religion as such. For instance, they provided a pretext, a cover-up to those who to settle their private conflicts or disputes could readily accuse their opponent of having said anything derogatory about matters covered by the blasphemy laws. Thus any Christian or the follower of any other minority faith can be falsely accused by anyone; it has been happening regularly. Once charged, their fate was sealed. There was little any such accused people could do to prove their innocence because the charge of blasphemy had already tilted the balance of justice against them. To the outside world such things may seem too primitive and stupid for a country in these times. But that’s how the things are in Pakistan. And the injustices ordinary innocent people suffer especially the religious minorities are getting worse in Pakistan.

What can the international community do to stop this savagery in Pakistan? Let me leave this question for consideration to other writers and activists also. In this context, I appeal to all human human rights organisations, individuals who defend human rights and political activists for their help and solidarity for a common struggle against the most frightening crimes committed in Pakistan against the ordinary people belonging to various religious minorities. As long as the present blasphemy laws are on the statute book such brutal crimes as we saw in the case of the inhuman murder of this Christian couple will not stop. The minorities of Pakistan are extremely vulnerable and they need our help and protection. There are many things that need to be done; to demand the repeal of the blasphemy laws in one of them because these laws are a flagrant violation of human rights and a sickening misuse of Islam, a great and noble religion of compassion and toleration. This matter should also be brought before the organs of the United Nations. All civilised people around the world have a moral responsibility to raise their voice against the violations of basic human rights under the blasphemy laws and the victimisation of religious minorities in Pakistan.

(The server to Humanrights.Asia for the link seems out of order now. But the tragic news can be read on this link: http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article33445)

Violence in Pakistan and religion

November 3, 2014

Nasir Khan, November 3, 2014

Yesterday 60 people were killed in Pakistan and many were injured. Such killings of the innocent people have become a matter of routine that are repeated so often. Ordinary people are helpless; they can’t do anything. The government cannot control this pervasive violence because the causes of violence are many. It is obvious that no pious wishes can change the situation because without uprooting the causes of violence, none can stop the violence. There are many causes for this, starting from the manipulative policies of Pakistani rulers and their subservience to US imperialism, to the Saudi role in Pakistan and the exploitation of religion in general for well over six decades.

A tree is known by the fruit it bears. Pakistan is harvesting the fruit now in the shape of senseless killings, violence and religious fanaticism. In this country different political and social forces have done much to banish sanity from the public and private lives of its citizens. Political elite and religious establishment had set the process of making Pakistan a citadel of ‘pure’ Islam. We see how that citadel looks and how the rest of the world sees it. The results of myopic indoctrination and misuse of religion are clear. No realist observer can predict any change for the better in the foreseeable future either because the communal hatred, sectarianism and ignorance [jahilia] have taken deep roots that cannot be uprooted by any emergency measures. Pakistan needs a new direction in politics and in educational system to stop the misuse of religion and new strategies to cope with violence and fanaticism.

Religious freedom or religious coercion?

October 30, 2014

Nasir Khan, October 30, 2014

The whole history of mankind shows when Religion and State were united, the world saw only political and social oppression, injustice and disasters. The same thing is happening in many countries now where some people are killing others in the name of their religion and for imposing their brand of religion on others by terror and coercion to take political power. But they reject the other course, a humane and sensible course, which allows a peaceful existence of all people in a democratic way, which leads to the well-being of all, respect for all religions and their followers, such as, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Baha’is, Buddhists, animists, all sorts of believers or non-religious people.

Under such a democratic and humane system all people have equal social and political rights. There is no discrimination against anyone because of their religion or oppression of any religion under any pretext. All people have freedom to follow their religions according to their customs and traditions freely. Religion becomes a matter of personal choice over which no other authority, social or political, can intervene.

The question before all of us is: which is the better way? I think the people who have not been fully brainwashed and indoctrinated will accept the democratic path. But those who want to kill and terrorise to impose their only misguided convictions and dogmas will continue to kill and terrorise. If they gain power, they will impose their unjust laws, discriminate against other faiths and sects and make the life of minorities intolerable and brutish.

Stephen Lendman: America’s Deplorable Afghanistan Legacy

October 30, 2014

civilian-casualties

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg absurdly calls Afghanistan an Alliance success story. As ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) “completes” its “mission at the end of this year.”

“This unprecedented international effort has contributed to a better future for Afghan men, women and children,” Stoltenberg claims. “And it has enhanced global security.”

Disaster more accurately describes things. Conditions are horrific. Perhaps worse than ever. A testimony to US-led NATO high crimes against peace.

Afghanistan’s new puppet government agreed to let around 10,000 US troops remain indefinitely. Immune from Afghan laws. Free to rampage with impunity. On the pretext of serving in an advisory capacity.

Afghanistan today reflects “the grand illusion of the American cause.” What CIA officials called Vietnam decades earlier. After over 13 years of neo-colonial war, Washington won’t cut its losses and leave. For good reason.

Afghanistan is strategically important. A geopolitical prize. Straddling the Middle East, South and Central Asia. In Eurasia’s heartland. Permanent occupation is planned. War won’t end. At issue is exploiting Eurasia’s vast oil, gas and other resources.
Significant Afghan resources rarely discussed.

Continues >>

Haaretz: Harry Potter actress blames ‘stupid’ Israel for anti-Jewish backlash

October 28, 2014

Nasir Khan,  October 28, 2014

The Zionists have cultivated anti-Semitism by their anti-human hasbara, their ethnic cleansing of Palestine and their brutal genocidal wars against the captive Palestinians of the Occupied Palestine. The world sees now what they do and what they have done before. As a result many ordinary people have nothing but revulsion and disgust against what the Zionists stand for and the horrible war crimes they have committed. The last major crimes they committed were in Gaza in July-August in 2014 which we all witnessed on our telescreens. Unluckily many Jews have fallen in the trap of the Zionist deception. That has been a deeply tragic thing for the Jews, Palestinians and many other people around the world. The shameful ‘victories’ of the Zonists are losses for humanity.

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British Jewish actress Miriam Margolyes says anti-Semitism is horrible but Israel is ‘stupid for allowing people to vent it.’

By Haaretz | Oct. 28, 2014

The British Jewish actress who played Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter films has called Israel “stupid” for allowing people to “vent” anti-Semitism.

Miriam Margolyes told Radio Times, a British television and radio magazine, that there has been a “troubling backlash” against Jews in the wake of the summer’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, British media reported.

“I loathe Hamas, but they were democratically elected and Israel’s behaviour is not acceptable,” she said. “There’s been a troubling backlash.”

Margolyes grew up in a Jewish household in Britain, according to Sky News. Her parents are descendants of immigrants from Belarus.

Continues >>

Democratic rule or theocratic rule for the Muslim people

October 26, 2014

Nasir Khan, October 26, 2014

Islam is a religion, a great religion, but it is not a political ideology for multicultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic societies of the present times. It contains some golden principles such as equality, fairness and justice that are applicable in politics because such universal principles are recognised as the pillars of democracy and open society. But that does not mean religion, any religion for that matter, can be an alternative to democratic form of government because this inevitably leads to the concentration of power and influence in the hands of some potentates and despots. This has been the case in the the Middle Ages where the Church dominated states and it became a symbol of tyrannical rule and oppressive practices. It is quite so in some Islamic countries where dynastic despots and oligarchs rule by using Islam for their own ends and state oppression.

It’s not difficult to see that different people have different interpretations of Islam. Historically, there has never been any unanimity of views in Islam on a range of issues. During the formative period of the Islamic Caliphate after 632 C.E. differing and mutually exclusive interpretation of Islamic state and Islamic rule had soon started to take shape when the community split along the Sunni-Shia lines. Such differences have multiplied over the course of fourteen centuries. Even within the Sunnis different schools of thought emerged and there is no way they can ever be reconciled. Nor, can the Sunni and Shia concepts of what constitutes Islamic ruler be reconciled because of the differing concepts that underlie Caliphate (Sunni) and Imamate (Shia).

When some people dare to give their opinions, which do not repeat the centuries-old stereotypes they are attacked for their heretical views by the orthodox and rigid literalists of traditions. They assume only they have the ‘true’ version of Islam; therefore, only they are the ones who can rightfully speak on behalf of God and Islam while all the others are groping in the darkness of ignorance and suffering from the malaise of modern Western ideas of democracy and human rights. However, it is essential to explain that democracy is a form of government in which the will of the population of a country is decisive in forming policies that advance the cause of the citizens in social, religious, economic and political matters. In a genuine democracy this will reflects the actual needs of the people but in a bogus democracy the form of democracy is used to further individual or particular interests while paying lip-service to the values of democracy.

Condemned Christian woman to take blasphemy case to top Pakistani court

October 21, 2014

Nasir Khan,  October 21, 2014

First of all, as a Humanist I fully acknowledge the positive aspects of all major religions including Islam. But what ignorant people do in the name of a religion is a different thing; they negate or pervert the positve  sides of religions. Unfortunately the case of many indoctrinated and misled Pakistani people and their support for the blasphemy laws shows the degree of ignorance that prevails in that country. The misuse of the religion of the majority by the lawmakers shows how they enacted such laws in violation of basic human rights including the freedom of speech. No surprise if the judiciary upholds these laws and proves pivotal in perpetuating gross injustice and denial of justice on flimsy grounds. Thus Pakistani religious minorities suffer; they are victimised in the name of ‘safeguarding Islam’ as we can see in the case of Asia Bibi.

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By Adeel Raja and Susannah Cullinane, CNN
October 20, 2014

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) — A Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan plans to take her case to the country’s highest court after a high court last week rejected her appeal, her attorney says.

Asia Bibi, a mother of five from Punjab province, was accused of defiling the name of the Prophet Mohammed during a 2009 argument with Muslim fellow field workers.

The workers had refused to drink from a bucket of water she had touched because she was not Muslim.

In November 2010, a Pakistani district court found Bibi guilty of blasphemy. The offense is punishable by death or life imprisonment, according to Pakistan’s penal code, and Bibi was sentenced to hang.

Continues >>

A Note on Leon Trotsky

October 18, 2014

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by Nasir Khan, Oct. 18, 2014

Leon Trotsky has either been demonised or idealised within the socialist movement for various reasons. Those who have demonised him saw only a personification of counter-revolutionary in him. But those who idealised him see in him the only great revolutionary in the twentieth century. Thus unluckily the evaluation of Trotsky has become a question of putting him in one category or the other, nothing in between in these two extremes. Such modes of thinking are still common among his supporters or detractors. But this is not the way the historic role of an eminent Marxist leader and revolutionary should be judged and described. Neither hagiography nor calumnies do justice to a great revolutionary who despite his differences with the Bolsheviks came to the side of Vladimir Lenin and became a dynamic voice defending and serving the October Revolution. But he was not the man who could have survived the tumultuous times once Lenin was no more. What happened to him after the death of Lenin in 1924 is well-known story.

US Government Sanitizes Vietnam War History

October 17, 2014

For many years after the Vietnam War, we enjoyed the “Vietnam syndrome,” in which US presidents hesitated to launch substantial military attacks on other countries. They feared intense opposition akin to the powerful movement that helped bring an end to the war in Vietnam. But in 1991, at the end of the Gulf War, George H.W. Bush declared, “By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!”

With George W. Bush’s wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and Barack Obama’s drone wars in seven Muslim-majority countries and his escalating wars in Iraq and Syria, we have apparently moved beyond the Vietnam syndrome. By planting disinformation in the public realm, the government has built support for its recent wars, as it did with Vietnam.

Now the Pentagon is planning to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War by launching a $30 million program to rewrite and sanitize its history. Replete with a fancy interactive website, the effort is aimed at teaching schoolchildren a revisionist history of the war. The program is focused on honoring our service members who fought in Vietnam. But conspicuously absent from the website is a description of the antiwar movement, at the heart of which was the GI movement.

Continues >>

For more on the antiwar movement in US, see also: http://depts.washington.edu/antiwar/gi_mvmt.shtml


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