“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, April 22, 2013

Syria, what are we getting into?


  1. Is that the Patriot Day bombing you're referencing?

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Syrian War Spilling Into Lebanon, Rights Group Says

    Published: April 22, 2013

    BEIRUT, Lebanon — A Human Rights Watch report released Monday accused both the Syrian government and the insurgency of striking residential areas in neighboring Lebanon on several occasions and killing a number of its citizens. The cross-border attacks appeared to be largely indiscriminate and threatened to further destabilize the Syrian-Lebanese frontier, Human Rights Watch said.

    While the Syrian government and armed opposition groups have both said that their attacks on Lebanese villages were in retaliation for provocations, Human Rights Watch said it had not found any evidence of military targets when it visited the Lebanese villages that had been attacked.

    “The nature of the rockets and launchers that appear to have been used, together with the lack of any evidence of military targets in the villages, strongly suggests these attacks were indiscriminate and therefore violate the laws of war,” Human Rights Watch said in a summary of the report on its Web site.

    Lebanon has officially adopted a policy of dissociation from the Syrian conflict, which has pitted the government of President Bashar al-Assad against a Sunni-dominated rebellion, but violence is beginning to spill over the border, intensifying sectarian tensions in Lebanon.

  4. WASHINGTON – A legislative effort led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to enable Israelis to enter the United States without visas may be stymied by the government – Israel’s government.

    The hitch is Israel’s inability or unwillingness to fully reciprocate, something required for visa-free travel to the United States. Israel, citing security concerns, insists on the right to refuse entry to some US citizens.

    AIPAC is pushing for an exemption for Israel from this rule. But congressional staffers say Israel is unlikely to get such an exemption, which US lawmakers view as an attempt to bar Arab Americans from freely entering Israel.

    The exemption AIPAC is pushing for appears in the Senate version of the US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, one of the key issues for which AIPAC urged supporters to lobby after its policy conference last month.

    The language in that bill, proposed by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), requires that the Homeland Security secretary grant Israel visa waiver status after certifying with the secretary of state that Israel “has made every reasonable effort, without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel, to ensure that reciprocal travel privileges are extended to all United States citizens.”

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Fact can really be a downer when you look at them. Try a few and maybe you won’t get bumped. The news is what it is.

  5. No need to bother with a Visa and for that matter no need to bother with a war resolution

    Members of Congress, as we all know, are fond of making political gestures to play to whatever audience they are trying to play to. In private conversation members can be quite candid about this and will exhibit a bifurcated approach to their jobs in which the world of gesture-making is divorced from the world of sound policy-making. Seeing their political careers dependent on playing to audiences, members tend to be quick to brush aside any costs or hazards entailed in the gestures. This is particularly true of sense-of-the-Congress resolutions, which, as proponents of any such resolution can always point out, do not entail any changes carrying the force of law.

    The trouble with this casual attitude toward gesture-making statements is that there often is someone else with an agenda who knows how to exploit the statements to advance the agenda. Even something as legally soft as a sense-of-the-Congress resolution will subsequently be cited as policy and precedent. Anyone who supported or even acquiesced in the gesture will forever be counted as backing the policy it implies, thereby making it seem that the policy is not the project of a determined minority even if it really is. Any qualifications or caveats that are incorporated in the statement get forgotten or are left unmentioned in later agitation by the determined minority to implement their favored policy.

    All of these hazards are inherent in a draft joint resolution that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved this week. The resolution, one of the endless series of Congressional love letters to Israel, “urges” in its final operative paragraph

    that, if the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with United States law and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.

  6. From Ron Pauls’ website:

    Washington’s Syria Policy in Free-Fall
    wednesday april 17, 2013

    Washington is scrambling to apply a fig leaf to its program of covertly and overtly arming the armed rebels in Syria, trying to convince the increasingly skeptical that it can somehow thread the needle and ensure that sophisticated weapons and CIA training in Jordan will only benefit non-jihadist insurgents. Meanwhile, it has become painfully obvious that the Islamists are the only effective fighters in Syria, and most of them are not even Syrian but rather “have beard will travel” jihadis from such “Arab Spring” success stories as Tunisia.

    Worse, the last real lie about Syria has also become unraveled: the endlessly repeated maxim that the bloody two year battle in Syria only became bloody after the government forces fired on peaceful protesters thus forcing them to take up arms.

    As we see in this fascinating and critically important recent piece in the Daily Beast, this is the lie upon which the entire US support for the insurrection is based. But there was no “Arab Spring” in Syria. It had in fact been well planned in advance. The peaceful revolt turned violent may have been a tiny part of the story, but the real story was something completely different.

    Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq, recently released a recording clarifying that al-Qaeda in Iraq is closely tied to the Syrian rebels, and specifically to the main jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra. More importantly, he confirmed that the uprising in Syria falsely attributed to “Arab Spring” had in fact been long-planned as a violent revolt by highly trained terrorist cells burrowed into Syria. As the Daily Beast reports:

    “According to the Al Qaeda leader, there were already jihadist cells in Syria before the conflict erupted. These cells were ‘awaiting the chance’ to expand their operations and when the civil war started Abu Muhammad Al-Julani was dispatched along with other Iraqi jihadists to establish al-Nusra and to set strategy. Al Qaeda in Iraq has been splitting its funds with al-Nusra, he says.”

    Add to that the irrefutable evidence that the advanced weapons being shipped to Syria are most definitely falling into the hands of the most radical elements, and you have a Washington-led policy that is leading to unimaginable disaster.

  7. .

    Since there is plenty of blame to go around between Turkey and Israel in the blockade killings, I'll not take sides, and I only post the following article as an example of John Kerry's naive and/or ham-handed approach to foreign policy.

    Those who doubted the wisdom of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s apology to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in March had their first “I told you so” moment the very next day. Speaking to Turkish reporters, Erdogan appeared to immediately backtrack on his end of the rapprochement, which included dropping the case against the Israel Defense Forces for defending themselves from the Turkish-supported flotilla activists seeking to violently crash the naval blockade of the terrorist group Hamas...

    I suspect, the admonition, "Come on boys, kiss and make-up" is rarely an effective negotiating ploy when other interests are involved even when that encouragement comes from the U.S. SOS.


    1. ... violently crash the naval blockade ...
      Crock of shit, the "flotilla" was on the open sea, far from the blockaded port.

      The folks on the boats had every right to self defense against the Israeli aggression. More "right" than the Israeli have to attack Iran, because of their paranoid fear, or their uest for regional military hegemony.

    2. Why would the Turks let the terrorists that killed their citizen off the hook?
      The US pursued the terrorist that murdered Leon Klinghoffer, a retired US businessman, using US military assets to facilitate his arrest.

      Youssef Majed al-Molqi was convicted of killing Leon Klinghoffer and sentenced to 30 years. A sentence in an Italian prision hich he did not serve in its entirety.

      The PLO paid restitution to the Klinghoffer family.
      The Israeli should follow that moral leadership of the PLO, in regards the American citizen they murdered on the high seas.

    3. armed terrorists trying to break a legal blockade of a terror based land mass...

      Rat's siding with the terrorists is par for the course.

      birds of a feather flock together....

    4. Theoe ships were no where near the blockaded port, but on the opean ocean, attacked by pirates, they were.

      Just as US shipping, under President Jefferson, was attacked and boarded by Mediterranean pirates who thought they had God's blessings.

      Nothing much has changed, State sponsored piracy is alive and well on the Med, 200 years later.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. “Any attempts to draw a parallel between Chechnya and the Tsarnaevs, if they are guilty, are futile,” said the region’s Kremlin-backed strongman, Razman Kadyrov, last week. “They grew up in the U.S., and their views and beliefs were formed there.

    The roots of the evil should be looked for in America.”

    Kadyrov, who is accused by Washington of gross human rights violations and is reportedly on a classified U.S. sanctions list, struck a triumphalist tone by declaring that the whole world needed to combat terrorism. “We know this better than anybody else,” he said.

  9. Militants in a rebel-held area of northern Syria have abducted two bishops travelling from the Turkish border back to the city of Aleppo.

    The kidnapping was reported by Syrian state media and confirmed by a member of the official opposition leadership.

    Yohanna Ibrahim is head of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Aleppo and Boulos Yaziji leads the Greek Orthodox Church in the city.

    They are the most senior Christian clerics caught up directly in the war.

    The Assads probably didn't kidnap the Christians, in all the years they've ruled Syria the Christian population was pretty secure in their travels and churches.

    No mas

    1. State TV announced that an "armed terrorist group" had kidnapped the two bishops as they carried out "humanitarian work in Aleppo countryside".

      Abdulahad Steifo, a Syriac member of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, said the men had been kidnapped on the road to Aleppo from the rebel-held Bab al-Hawa crossing, which is close to the Turkish town of Reyhanli.

      Asked who was behind their abduction, he said: "All probabilities are open."

      Christian residents of Aleppo, speaking on on condition of anonymity. told AFP news agency gunmen had killed the bishops' driver.

      In September, Bishop Ibrahim told Reuters news agency hundreds of Christian families had fled Aleppo as rebels and soldiers battled for control of the country's biggest city.

      "In its modern history Aleppo has not seen such critical and painful times," he said.

      "Christians have been attacked and kidnapped in monstrous ways and their relatives have paid big sums for their release," the bishop added.

  10. Is the US really on the EU trail?

    Deficits Fall in Europe, but Debt Rises

    New York Times -

    PARIS - An austerity push in Europe helped to reduce government budget deficits in 2012 for a fourth consecutive year, official data showed on Monday, but in relation to gross domestic product, national debt burdens grew....

  11. Kerry and other U.S. officials described the Istanbul meeting as a turning point, at which the opposition political leadership promised to rededicate itself to seeking a political solution to the war, albeit without Assad as a negotiating partner — along with unity of purpose and protection of minority rights.

    Away from the Syrians, donor countries argued for hours behind closed doors about their own disputes.

    “How can we make those asks of the [opposition] coalition when we know we actually have to sort out our own house?” said another diplomat at the Istanbul meeting.

  12. Jordan opens skies for IAF drones flying to Syria’ By JPOST.COM STAFF04/22/2013 09:06

    ’Le Figaro’ quotes Western military source as saying armed Israeli drones conducting surveillance in Syria by way of Jordan.
    US unmanned aerial vehicle Photo: reuters

    Jordan has opened two corridors of its airspace to Israeli Air Force drones seeking to monitor the ongoing conflict in Syria, French daily Le Figaro reported on Sunday, citing a Western military source in the Middle East.

    According to the report, Jordanian King Abdullah made the decision in March during US President Barack Obama's visit to Jordan, which came immediately after his first trip as president to Israel.

    Le Figaro quoted the military source as saying that the Israeli drones fly at night to avoid detection. The source added that "the Syrians have Russian air defense assets, but Israeli aircraft are difficult to detect and therefore virtually immune to anti-aircraft measures."

    According to the source, the unmanned aerial vehicles are carrying out surveillance, but “they are also armed and therefore can hit targets anywhere in Syria.”

  13. More from RT On the kidnapping of the two Orthodox Archbishops by the US allies in Syria

    Two Syrian Orthodox bishops have been kidnapped on the outskirts of Aleppo. While both clergymen are believed to be alive, their driver was killed during the attack.

    Syriac Orthodox bishop Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Archbishops of Aleppo Paul, who also happens to be the brother of Patriarch John of Antioch and All The East were abducted en route to Aleppo from a town on the Turkish border where they were carrying out “humanitarian work.”

    As they neared the city, they were met with an armed group in the village of Kfar who forced them out of the car. The driver, who was also a deacon was killed during the attack.

    The bishops are believed to be alive and efforts are ongoing to secure their release, NNA reports.

    The Greek Orthodox diocese of Aleppo declined to comment on the incident. The Russian orthodox church has condemned the act.

    Metropolitan Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo. (Image from

    Earlier, Metropolitan Hilarion, the chairman of the Department of External Church Relations, noted that his close contact with the bishops of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, made him believe that “in those places where the authorities are replaced by the rebel groups, Christianity is being exterminated to the last man: Christians are expelled, or physically destroyed,” quotes Itar-Tass.

    He recalled that “Syria has taken more than two million Iraqi refugees, thousands of whom are Christians.” But now the Metroplitain says “thousands of militant extremists under the guise of opposition forces unleashed a civil war in this country. Extremist groups armed and trained by means of foreign powers are deliberately killing Christians, ” Metropolitan Hilarion said.

    No group has yet claimed responsibility for the act but member of the National Coalition, Abdulahad Steifo, told Reuters that the clergy were abducted on the road to Aleppo from the rebel-held Bab al Hawa crossing with Turkey and that “all probabilities are open” as to who could have kidnapped the bishops.

    In North America, where Patriarchate of Antioch has about 250 parishes and 400 priests, Bishop Basil, Secretary of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America has asked for prayers from the followers.

    In May 2011, International Christian Concern group suggested that the Christian minority in Syria are more afraid of the opposition forces than of the government, because under the Assad regime there has been tolerance towards religious minorities.

    Abductions have become common in Syria as the country is locked in a two-year internal conflict. Ten days ago the home of bishop Paul was attacked by rocket fire.

    Syria’s 10 percent Christian population is particularly vulnerable to such attacks especially from the opposition groups as they have remained largely neutral or supportive of the government.

  14. No problem, they are only Christians. There really aren’t that many anyway. I wonder how many?

    Syria's Christians Face the Threat of Annihilation

    By MidEast Christian News
    April 18, 2013|3:10 pm

    The head of Foreign Relations for the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion, stated that what is happening in "Syria is a humanitarian crisis," in warning against the threat of genocide against the Christians in Syria.

    "What is currently happening in Syria is a humanitarian disaster. I am in a close contact with the leaders of the Orthodox Church of Antioch. They stressed that the Christians face crimes of genocide through expelling of Christians from the areas dominated by the Free Syrian Army or killing them," Hilarion said during a speech at the Greek University of Ersutalis, according to a report in Russia Today.

    "Unfortunately, most western politicians ignore these clear realities," he added.

    The Russian Orthodox Church recently pledged to resume presenting humanitarian aids to the Syrian people, while attempting to convince the international community not to allow the continuation of the civil war in Syria.


  15. No problem, there are only 2,500,000. Almost a rounding error as they make up 10% of the Syrian population. Strange that they have lived in Syria for so long under the evil Assad regimes.

    Our new allies, supported by $250,000,000 of US aid and the always helpful Saudis and other helpful friend of the noble rebels will shelter the Christians, perhaps give them billions to build them walled settlements for their security.

    1. Don't forget what Danial Pipes tells US.

      People and Faith

      "'Alawi" is the term that 'Alawis (also called 'Alawites) usually apply to themselves, but until 1920 they were known to the outside world as Nusayris or Ansaris.

      The change in name - imposed by the French upon their seizure of control in Syria - has significance. Whereas "Nusayri" emphasizes the group's differences from Islam, "'Alawi" suggests an adherent of 'Ali (the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad) and accentuates the religion's similarities to Shi'i Islam. Consequently, opponents of the Asad regime habitually use the former term, while its supporters use the latter.
      Alawis celebrate many Christian festivals, including Christmas, New Year's, Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost, and Palm Sunday. They honor many Christian saints: St. Catherine, St. Barbara, St. George, St. John the Baptist, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Mary Magdalene. The Arabic equivalents of such Christian personal names as Gabriel, John, Matthew, Catherine, and Helen, are in common use. And 'Alawis tend to show more friendliness to Christians than to Muslims.

      For these reasons, many observers - missionaries especially - have suspected the 'Alawis of a secret Christian proclivity. Even T. E. Lawrence described them as "those disciples of a cult of fertility, sheer pagan, antiforeign, distrustful of Islam, drawn at moments to Christianity by common persecution."

      The Jesuit scholar Henri Lammens unequivocally concluded from his research that "the Nusayris were Christians" and their practices combine Christian with Shi'i elements.

      'Alawis do not act like Sunni Muslims, with only slight differences; rather, they resemble Christians and Jews in pursuing a wholly distinct way of life. Matti Moosa notes that, "like the other extremist Shiites... the Nusayris had total disregard for Muslim religious duties."

      Ignaz Goldziher put it succinctly: "This religion is Islam only in appearance." It is important to make this point very clear: 'Alawis have never been Muslims and are not now.

    2. Mr Pipes continues ...

      ... Benjamin Disraeli described the 'Alawis in a conversation in the novel Tancred:

      "Are they Moslemin?"
      "It is very easy to say what they are not, and that is about the extent of any knowledge we have of them; they are not Moslemin, they are not Christian, they are not Druzes, and they are not Jews, and certainly they are not Guebres [Zoroastrians]."
      The Islamic religion reserves a special hostility for 'Alawis. Like other post-Islamic sects (such as the Baha'is and Ahmadis), they are seen to contradict the key Islamic tenet that God's last revelation went to Muhammad, and this Muslims find utterly unacceptable. Islamic law acknowledges the legitimacy of Judaism and Christianity because those religions preceded Islam; accordingly, Jews and Christians may maintain their faiths. But 'Alawis are denied this privilege. Indeed, the precepts of Islam call for apostates like the 'Alawis to be sold into slavery or executed. In the nineteenth century, a Sunni shaykh, Ibrahim al-Maghribi, issued a fatwa to the effect that Muslims may freely take 'Alawi property and lives; and a British traveler records being told, "these Ansayrii, it is better to kill one than to pray a whole day."
      The Sunni response to the new rulers, which has taken a predominantly communal form, bears out this view. The widespread opposition of Sunnis - who make up about 69 percent of the Syrian population - to an 'Alawi ruler has inspired the Muslim Brethren organization to challenge the government in violent, even terroristic ways. Although unsuccessful until now, the Brethren have on several occasions come near to toppling the regime.

      It appears inevitable that the 'Alawis - still a small and despised minority, for all their present power - will eventually lose their control over Syria. When this happens, it is likely that conflicts along communal lines will bring them down, with the critical battle taking place between the 'Alawi rulers and the Sunni majority. In this sense, the 'Alawis' fall - be it through assassinations of top figures, a palace coup, or a regional revolt - is likely to resemble their rise.

      This, written in 1989

  16. Syrian rebels have asked their foreign supporters to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for "surgical strikes" on missile positions of Syrian government forces.


    So far, the US has provided an estimated $117 million in non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition, according to the US government.

  17. I wonder if the US Congress will allow Syrian Christians to enter the US without visas? Let’s see what else we can find about our noble allies, those Syrian rebels:

    Syria’s Christian Minority Lives in Fear of Kidnapping and Street Battles
    War-weary from months of fighting, one community attempts to co-exist with rebel militias.
    DANNY GOLDAPR 18 2013, 9:28 AM ET

    The bell tower of a church in Ras al-Ayn, which was used as a base for snipers. (Danny Gold)

    George Abdulahad stood on his balcony in the Syrian city of Ras al-Ayn filling in bullet holes with plaster. His apartment, like many in the Christian neighborhood, lay gutted, the walls destroyed by an RPG or some sort of incendiary device. The fighting had been over for nearly a month now, but Abdulahad still seemed devastated by his newfound homelessness. "Where can I go, I don't know," said the 58-year-old man. "There is no electricity, no water. The living here is like living in a coffin."

    On Easter Sunday, the churches that follow the traditional Christian calendar in this Syrian border town lay empty. They haven't had services for four months, and most of their congregations have fled or are picking through the rubble. Some fear that another round of fighting will break out. A recent spate of kidnappings has also cast a shadow over the Christian residents of this diverse city in northeastern Syria.

    During the last phase of the fighting, in which the FSA fought the YPG, Abdulahad lay trapped in his apartment for 17 days, subsisting on very little water and stale bread.

    Those still left in the city feel defenseless among the current vacuum of authority. Despite a truce currently in place, the constant presence of heavily armed rebel soldiers from different warring factions does little to assuage their fears. "There are so many battles in this city, I don't feel safe. There is no one in charge, no government," Abdulahad says. "I am afraid of anyone with a gun."

    Starting in November, roughly four months of fighting devastated the city. The Free Syrian Army, along with Islamist groups like Jabhat Al-Nusra, attacked Assad regime soldiers. After regime soldiers were forced out, the rebel coalition then battled the Kurdish militia known as the Popular Defense Forces (YPG), They fought pitched battles throughout the city streets as the Assad regime continued to send aircrafts on bombing runs.

    During the last phase of the fighting, in which the FSA fought the YPG, Abdulahad lay trapped in his apartment for 17 days, subsisting on very little water and stale bread. Many residents fled the city, with some activists speculating that 65 percent of the total population had left. In February, Syrian Christian dissident Michel Kilo brokered peace between the factions. Some residents have returned, despite power cuts, water shortages, and the constant presence of various armed fighters.

    Ras al-Ayn, located along the border with Turkey, is a city of 50,000 with a diverse population of Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Turkmen, Armenians, and Chechens, and it's home to three Christian churches. Christians make up an estimated 10 percent of Syria's 23 million citizens. Issam Bishara, regional director of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, recently told Asia News that approximately 300,000 Syrian Christians have fled the country. The increased sectarianism in the conflict, especially the growing influence of Jihadi forces, has left many fearful of what’s to come.

    Boring, 300,000 Christians fled, what’s the problem? Who is taking them in? Shall we have a look-see?

  18. The Turks seem to be doing their share. Some impressive numbers here. Check the last sentence on this piece:

    Syrian Christian refugees turn to churches for help
    James Martone Catholic News Service | Mar. 28, 2013

    ISTANBUL Churches and monasteries in Turkey are struggling to shelter a rising number of Syrian Christian refugees who are reluctant to seek help at government-run relief camps because of reported Muslim extremism, said a Catholic Relief Services staffer.

    Sleiman Saikali, program officer for the U.S. bishops' relief and development agency, told Catholic News Service that he met Christian refugees living in and around the southeastern Turkish cities of Mardin and Midyat; some lived in churches and two ancient monasteries.

    "All of these are about 200 people. Other Christians are coming day after day," said Saikali, who was in the region with a CRS delegation at the end of February looking at ways to help Syrian refugees on both sides of the border.

    The Christians are among the tens of thousands of Syrians refugees, most of whom are Muslim, fleeing to Turkey from Syria, where pro-government forces are engaged in armed conflict with rebel groups in a war the United Nations estimates has killed 70,000 people in two years.

    Turkey has provided aid and shelter to more than 150,000 refugees in border camps. More than 70,000 others are living outside the camps with little government assistance, according to the U.N.

    Saikali said Syrian Christians told him they were afraid go to the relief camps "because [of] who is going to the camps: Muslims, but not the Muslims who were living with Christians [in Syria]. They are from [Muslim] fundamentalist groups."

    A U.N. official in Turkey who asked not to be identified acknowledged Feb. 16 that Syrian Christians were living outside of the camps and that many had little money. The official said many Muslim refugees also refused to go to the camps, but for other reasons. In some instances, the official explained, some of the refugees are seen as being aligned with the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and were threatened by camp residents.

    Asked if Muslim extremism was a problem in any of the camps, the official who had visited one of the sites said, "Of course, we cannot rule it out."

    A spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees was cautious March 7 in addressing reports of Muslim extremism in the camps.

    "I don't have knowledge of such reports, which doesn't mean there are not such reports," spokesman Metin Corabatir told CNS.

    UNHCR helps manage the Turkish relief camps. Turkish officials said the government has spent more than $600 million aiding refugees since Syria's civil war began in 2011.

    Saikali said refugees he met also told him of kidnappings on the Syrian side of the border. Syrian Christians were mostly targeted, he said, with the kidnappers asking up to $200,000 in ransom.

    "Those kidnapped are Christians because they are [considered] in a better economic situation," Saikali said the Christian refugees told him. The kidnappers appeared to be neither from the government side nor with the rebels, and that "some are not even Syrian," he said.

    In addition to the assistance from churches and monasteries in Mardin and Midyat, the incoming Christian refugees are receiving assistance from local Christian families in the area, Saikali said. But he added that some of the refugees were still in "urgent need of rent money" to pay for apartments and rooms to live in.

    CRS has assisted Turkey and other nations bordering Syria in providing basic needs for some of the more than 1 million Syrian refugees who have fled the war.

  19. We have other allies surrounding Syria, they must be providing big time help to the Christian refugees, fleeing for their lives. One is even a strategic ally. Let’s check the numbers;

    Number of Syrian refugees to EU increases five-fold
    Published: 04.19.13, 00:00 / Israel News

    The number of Syrians trying to enter the European Union illegally increased five-fold last year, an EU agency said on Thursday, as refugees fled their war-ravaged country.

    Almost 8,000 Syrians without papers, and some with false passports, attempted to cross the Greek and Bulgarian borders to reach wealthy nations such as Germany and Sweden, said the EU's Frontex agency, which oversees the bloc's border controls. (Reuters)

    Not much help there. Let’s see what is happening in Lebanon

  20. Lebanon is being helpful. I forget , is Lebanon a strategic ally?

    Christian refugees from Syria have not been in Lebanon for very long. Or at least, you don’t hear much from them, as many are averse to reporters. Off the record, one refugee explained that Syrian Christians are often accused of bias in favor of President Bashar al-Assad.

    Walid Hasbani, one such refugee, said that he had been reluctant to leave home and move to Lebanon, “but life in Syria became impossible.” Hasbani said, “I lived in a suburb of Damascus. Because my family and I are Christians, we started feeling afraid at checkpoints or even walking in the street.”

    Life in Lebanon has not been easy for Hasbani. He resides in a Christian region “because it is safer and calmer, and the traditions and customs are similar.”

    The exact number of Syrian Christians who have settled in Lebanon is unknown, as many do not register with NGOs.

    Many of the younger Syrians see Lebanon as just a stopping point on their way to other countries, where they can finish their university education or find jobs. These youths now know the locations of foreign embassies by heart given their frequent visits to complete visa application processes. Rami is one such young Syrian.

    Rami, which is not his real name, began travelling between Damascus and Beirut more than five months ago. Before the conflict in Syria escalated dramatically, he was able to travel freely between the two capitals to follow up on his application at the French embassy in Beirut.

    Nearly two months ago, Rami, who has a degree in business administration, relocated to Beirut to find a job. “I try not to get involved in any protests, with or against the regime in Syria, and I do not state my political opinions explicitly to anyone. I am determined to go to France. I want to complete my studies and I believe in my future.”

    Rami chose France “because I’m Christian. This makes the whole process easier.” When he was asked why was that so, he answered, “Because Syrian Christians are peaceful and are not involved with the parties or in terrorism.”

    Many obstacles stand between young Syrians and European capitals, despite continuous appeals by the Syrian opposition to help these youths. For one thing, the visa procedures are very complicated.

    Hiba was able to get a British visa, but her sister Zeina remains in Beirut. “I believe that I will get the visa since my sister did. I now have a bigger chance to realize my dream and get out of the nightmare of the Middle East and the Arab Spring. But the paperwork takes a long time,” she said.

    Meanwhile, things are different for the refugee families. They simply dream of returning to Syria and repairing what’s left of their homes.

  21. I search on for other countries helping the Christians from the Islamic crazies and murdering hordes.

  22. The additional aid brings total non-lethal U.S. assistance to the opposition to $250 million since the fighting began more than two years ago. Washington has refused so far to provide weapons to Syria's rebels out of fears they could fall in the hands of extremists.

    The U.S. pledge was the only tangible, public offer of new international support at the meeting of the foreign ministers of the 11 main countries supporting the opposition and fell well short of what the opposition has been appealing for: weapons and direct military intervention to stop the violence that has killed more than 70,000 people.

    The Syrian National Coalition is seeking drone strikes on sites from which the regime has fired missiles, the imposition of no-fly zones and protected humanitarian corridors to ensure the safety of civilians.

  23. Strange, our greatest ally of all time ever, forever and beyond that, seems a little light on the offering of suffering Christians shelter from the storm:

    The latest existential threat to Israel? Those Russians the world was implored to free
    by Philip Weiss on January 26, 2013 104

    Two nights back, Charlie Rose had on former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy to talk about the Israeli elections, and at 12:30 he brings up what he calls a fundamental issue, one I’d never focused on, involving the citizenship of hundreds of thousands of Israelis. I thought he meant Palestinian Israelis. No:

    We have today a situation in Israel in which 100s of 1000s of Israelis do not have a personal status in the country. They are not recognized technically as Jews. They come from the Soviet Union or have been born to Soviet…

    When they want to marry, they have no way to marry and they have to go outside the country in order to marry. Their Jewish identity [is] not recognized by the state. These are very serious problems, because in the end this could be a major split inside Israeli society. Which I have said in the past… I think this is a greater threat to Israel than the Iranian nuclear threat.

    You can’t make this stuff up. Had enough hypocrisy yet?

  24. Ok, all you heavy duty Bible guys, tell me what I am missing.

  25. Well, they got the makings of a fine stew. Let them eat it. It's none of our business.

    1. And, no, I don't care what crazy-assed branch of the Abrahamic nightmare they fall under.

    2. The only thing of interest on this whole thread was Rat's observation that the EU countries have raised their Debt-to-GDP ratios by way of Austerity.

  26. Those Christians best not head for Israel ...

    Syrian refugees 'will not be allowed to cross Israel border'

    Refugees from Syria's civil war will be prevented from crossing into Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed, ...

    1. Really, shocking, must be a misquote.

    2. he said. "We will continue to guard our border and prevent passage and entry to Israel, except for exceptional, isolated cases, every one will be considered on its merits."

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. That’s the spirit! Check out their merits. Passports and merit badges please.

    5. You mean, the Christians that were not thrown out when the Eastern Europeans took over or recent arrivals? How about some fresh numbers? You being the expert and all.

    6. First Syrian to walk to a border crossing, we'll let 'em in.
      Just like the Guatemalans.

    7. We've done that for almost 20 million folks, how about the Israel letting in 10,000 Christians?

      The Israeli, as morally bankrupt today as the US was in 1939.

      Turning away war refugees, sending them back to their fate in bigoted country.
      Maintaining a Jim Crow society, upward mobility based upon membership in the favored Abrahamic sects of the governing elites.

  27. Well hell, you have been called a lot of things as I have read over the years. Heavy Duty Bible Guy is not one of them.

  28. I want to know what Jesus would do.

  29. The basic Israeli approach in cases such as this is to act in accordance with the proverb "don't look a gift horse in the mouth." This is true even when it is clear that the American gift has two broader contexts: Compensation for Israel on the big arms deals planned slated to take place with Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, based on the assumption that the gift will silence any Israeli criticism of these deals, as well as an expectation that the aid will reduce Israel's appetite to take action independently in Iran.


    It seems the Netanyahu's third term has opened with a clearer understanding in Jerusalem of the limits of force. It will be no great surprise, as it turns out after the fact, that despite the frequent threats of an attack, Obama and Netanyahu agreed during their private conversations during his visit to reduce the talk of an independent Israeli attack through the end of the year.

    It is hard to know what the two of them agreed to, but it gradually appears to be that the U.S. and Israel are more coordinated on the Iranian issue, at least for a while.

  30. I have an idea. Christian refugees are boring. Let’s go get Iran.

  31. That book in all the hotel rooms, that I was told about the other night; what does it say about helping your fellows in time of need, woman and children, old people fleeing for their lives, having lost their property and homes?

    Help me out, something pithy, something that Abraham would do, Judeo-Christian words to live by, words tin THE BOOK , the right thing.

    1. "Don't borrow trouble."

      That's in there, isn't it?

    2. "Beware Middle-Easterners bearing wars."

      I Know that's in there. :)

  32. Not in the Congo Line in the US Congress.

  33. Stand by please. Wio is going to give us some fresh statistics on Christian refugees, fleeing the Islamoids, taken in by Israel.

  34. What is "Occupation"Mon Apr 22, 10:56:00 PM EDT

    Israel is already has the largest number of christians living it’s borders than any other middle eastern nation.

    Sorry wrong answer>

    We just read that 2,500,000 Christians are looking for shelter from Syria. You may wish to revise and resubmit. How many can you take in?

  35. Being a strategic ally and all. What do you think?

  36. Can’t find any data? I tried and couldn’t find it either. You can estimate. We are all friends here. Strategic allies one and all.

    1. There are something like eight to ten million Christians in Egypt, aren't there?

      Lebanon, also, has a large Christian population. Probably larger than Israel's, I'd imagine.

    2. Israel has a population of Eight Million. 96% of said population is either Jewish, or Arab.

      That means the Christian population can't be any more than 320,000.

    3. Lebanon has approx. 1.6 Million Christians.


      I have a hunch that Israel is well down the list.

    4. Hell, Iraq has a Million Christians - three times the number in Israel.


    5. Jordan has more than Israel, with 400,000 Christians.


  37. We have been told here that the Islamoids are also Islamo-nazis.

    We were told, as Americans, we had a special guilt for denying access to the ship St. Louis which contained refugees fleeing the nazis.

    History repeats itself. The hypothetical becomes a current reality.

    How many Christians, fleeing the Islamo-nazis, will be taken in?

  38. One day you wake up and you smell the bullshit.

  39. by Robert Lindsay | March 12, 2012

    Israeli Abuse of and Attacks on Christians in the Holy Land

    ... Israeli liberal journalist Isak Letz has chronicled numerous instances of Orthodox Jewish groups becoming increasingly active in their opposition to Jews converting to Christianity, including violent acts against converts. These attacks often go unpunished by Israeli authorities.

    In general, Christian missionaries limit proselytism in Israel due to Christian Zionist beliefs, and many believe reports of proselytism made by Orthodox Jewish groups are exaggerated as a pretext to attack Christians in the region…
    Clergymen in the Armenian Church in Jerusalem have said that they are all victims of harassment, and that while most incidents are ignored, when they complain, the police don’t usually find the perpetrators.

    Father Goosan, Chief Dragoman of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, stated that, “I know there are fanatical Haredi groups that don’t represent the general public, but it’s still enraging. It all begins with education. It’s the responsibility of these men’s yeshiva heads to teach them not to behave this way.

    In May 2008, hundreds of New Testaments were burned in Or Yehuda, Israel after having been collected by the Deputy Mayor who described the material as “Messianic propaganda”
    In 2009 a church in Israel was vandalized. Messages such as “We killed Jesus” and “Christians out” were written on it, as well as “Fuck off” which was adorned with a Star of David. Churchmen at the site also stated that the church doors are urinated on almost every day.

    In 2012 a Greek Orthodox Christian monastery near Jerusalem was defaced with “Death to Christians”, and “Greeks out” slogans. Jerusalem’s Christian community was said to feel increasingly under assault.

    1. In May 2008, hundreds of New Testaments were burned in Or Yehuda, Israel after having been collected by the Deputy Mayor who described the material as “Messianic propaganda”

  40. There are 600 Christian churches in Iran, and a good solid 300,000 Christians. That's probably more than are in Israel (remember, I said the 320,000 was the absolute most it could be - if all non-arab/non-jews were christian. Common sense says there has to be a smattering of Hindus, etc.


  41. What the Mormons tell US about Israel and Christians


    Jewish: 75.5%

    Muslim: 16.8%

    Christian: 2.1%

    Druze: 1.7%

    other: 3.9%


    Denominations Members Congregations

    Catholic 100,000

    Messianic Jews 10,000

    Jehovah's Witnesses 1,332

    Seventh-Day Adventists 898

    Latter-Day Saints 234

    . Messianic Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, and evangelical Christians report the greatest societal abuse of religious freedom as they are frequently targeted by anti-missionary Jewish groups such as Yad L'Achim and Lev L'Achim.

    Religious Freedom

    Latter-day Saints are permitted to assemble and worship, but face many restrictions regarding proselytism, the baptism of converts and LDS children, and the translation and printing of Hebrew-language LDS materials. There are no full-time proselytizing LDS missionaries and local members are not permitted to conduct missionary work. Many of these restrictions were imposed by the LDS Church itself to safeguard against misunderstandings from the Jewish community and Israeli government and to secure the construction and operation of the BYU Jerusalem Center.
    ... intolerance for Christian proselytism have contributed to the lack of LDS missionary activity in Israel for decades. Recognizing the persisting societal and governmental challenges for prospective missionary work likely contributed to the decision of LDS leaders to promise to Israeli government officials that no proselytism would occur in the country if the building of the BYU Jerusalem Center was permitted.

    The reception of Christian missionaries (and LDS missionaries before the proselytism ban) has been low among Jews and Muslims and threats of violence or persecution have been widespread to those accused of proselytism.[


    2. That would put the Christian population at about 160,000 - below Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and even Iran.

  42. Obsession.

    Ahab was obsessed. He saw evil in a whale. He thought it was a white whale. It was after all just a whale. But he was so obsessed with what he considered the evil of the world that he projected his obsession onto a 'white' whale, which was after all just a whale. The author is very skillful at this. But he suggests here and there that the whale is after all just a whale. If one sees 'evil' where is really doesn't exist, as in a whale, one can become so twisted that a kind of evil comes to exist that wasn't there before. The jihadis are in this state. They think they see evil where it does not exist. And they end up doing evil, which they should not do, doing and creating evil that did not exist before. Beware of projecting your image of 'the evil of the world' onto something that is not evil in itself. It ends in self destruction.

    1. Bad, whale, bad, bad whale, bad bad bad whale.

      I am going to bed now. I am glad I didn't read here today.


    2. Pity that, you are such a good reader.

  43. Here is the kind of article about subjects we have been told that we should not read nor think about here-

    Note, of course, that all people actually do disobey; it's not as if we are counted sinners without actually being sinners (Rom. 5:12). Still, something within us is corrupt from the beginning, so that we do not love what is good with our whole hearts but are deeply inclined to evil. And once our excuses are stripped away, the reason we do evil remains as mysterious as the turning away of Adam and Eve. The most honest part of us sees that we could have done differently in any particular case, but didn't.

    The Mystery of Original Sin

    It is, of course, a myth, a 'fairy tale' as some here have asserted.

    Some interpretations say that the Tree of Life and the Tree of Good and Evil are really the same Tree.

    I like this way of thinking about it, but others do not.

    I like it because it seems to me to be a sort of northern European way of reading it.

    But, it is after all, just a myth, a 'fairy tale'.

    1. Original Sin
      It's a crock of hit, is what it is.

    2. Does it make any sense to “Bless Israel” while the scriptures clearly conclude that those who reject Jesus the Son as Messiah have made God a liar? If eternal life is only found in Jesus Christ does it make any sense to pamper unbelieving Israel into thinking that they are alright without Jesus? Is this not spiritual insanity? Has the modern day church been hoodwinked and infiltrated by false teachers, prophets and wolves? Yes.

  44. Arin Shaabi walks a fine line between Arab and Jew every day.

    When she drives to work, she crosses from Israel into the northern West Bank, not far from Jenin. Just over the border, inside her small trailer office on an Israeli army base, a stack of folders awaits her attention – pink for criminals, green for terrorists.

    All the files belong to Palestinians, who live beyond the maze of rusty fences, barbed wire, and concrete barriers that separate her from the offenders. Some are just kids, accused of throwing stones or Molotov cocktails.

    Prosecuting Palestinians

  45. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy...walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, 'Business as usual.' But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.

  46. I missed it all.

    Save all dear host.

    Thereby preserving the sanctity of The Monday.

    I'm sincerely worried about bob.

    Come back, bob! There’s a prize in it for you. His brain has been halved.

    What say?

  47. Confirm whose brain has been halved. Then I will consider it.

    Canadian police and intelligence agencies will announce later today they have thwarted a plot to carry out a major terrorist attack, arresting suspects in Ontario and Quebec, CBC News has learned.

    Highly placed sources tell CBC News the alleged plotters have been under surveillance for more than a year in Quebec and southern Ontario.

    The investigation was part of a cross-border operation involving Canadian law enforcement agencies, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

    The arrests Monday morning were co-ordinated and executed by a special joint task force of RCMP and CSIS anti-terrorism units, combined with provincial and municipal police forces in Ontario and Quebec.

    These planned attacks are the result of Canadian drone attacks.

    Now, back to beddyby after side trip to bathyroomroom.

    1. If you had a whole brain you would not have to ask. Don’t forget to put down the toilet seat and don’t soil your jammies.

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  49. Let’s stop pretending this is a “humanitarian issue” and just admit were playing a geopolitical game with human lives, and the objective of the game is to isolate Iran to please the Israeli hegemon. Let’s quit pretending that there is anything special about Israel. There is not one serious counter-argument to any of the points made on this post. The silence is damning. Whatever moral currency Israel once had, Israel has spent.

    As to the US, could you imagine what the US government would do if an armed force tried to remove Obama? Let's be realistic here, please.

    1. .

      I doubt you would consider it a serious counter-argument Jen but then you are merely a one-note pony, showing up occasionally to vent your vitriol against Israel. It appears to be your reason d'etre.

      My argument is that blasting Israel is ludicrous. AIPAC is a lobbying organization guilty of the same sins as the NRA, AARP, AMA, the Christian Association, and the Trial Lawyers. Granted, since AIPAC represents the interests of a foreign country, IMO, they should register as such. However, the U.S. is responsible for its own actions. It's the U.S. that grants the foreign aid. It's the U.S. that sends the troops. It's the U.S. that initiates our participation in wars.

      Israel can't force the U.S. to do anything it doesn't want to do. The slimy bunch in OZ give into AIPAC the same way they give into LaPierre and the dicks that lead the NRA. If America goes to war, it does so because the munchkins in OZ chose to go to war. So why don't you put on your big-girl panties and go back to sleep.

      This blog has become bifurcated and bizarre, all Israel all the time, with two whack jobs on one side defending everything that Israel does and at least two nuts on the other side declaring Israel the boogeyman and the cause of all the world's problems.

      America is not some stinking third-world country. We ought to be able to acccept that our problems are our own, created by us, that we are ruled by the muchkins in OZ and populated by the sheeple that allow it. Stop looking for scapegoats.


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  51. Who would have guessed that someone would take exemption to French participation in the NATO assault on Libya?

    French Embassy in Libya Attacked
    Published: April 23, 2013

    CAIRO — The explosion of a car parked outside the French Embassy in Libya wounded two French guards on Tuesday in what appeared to be the first major terrorist attack on a diplomatic compound in the capital since the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011.

    If deliberate, the blast would be the most significant such attack on a diplomatic facility in Libya since a siege of a United States outpost in Benghazi last September, in which Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed. A string of more minor attempted attacks on Western or United Nations diplomats began before that attack and has continued since then, although mostly outside the capital.

    No one claimed responsibility Tuesday, following the pattern of earlier attacks. But Libyans immediately suspected militant Islamists angry over the French intervention in Mali, where French troops are supporting government efforts to oppose Islamic militants in the north of the country. The assault came a day after the French Parliament voted to extend the French military deployment there.

  52. Deuce,

    You keep going on about our "new allies" in Syria - why? U am not aware of any alliance made. What suggests that the US has formed an alliance? Usually Congress would be involved in such formalities, no? Simply because we oppose a brutal dictator does not an alliance make.

    1. .

      More nitpicking from the 'great-white north'. Evidently, you would prefer us to say our new "frinds" in Syria.