Saturday, March 31, 2007

The 'Surge Success' that Wasn't

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a powerful Kurdish political leader, says that far from the U.S. military's recent "surge" being the cause of the lessening of factional and sectarian violence, this decrease is the result of the decision of Shi'i leader Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr to order the Mahdi Army to "stand down." The Mahdi Army is the paramilitary wing of his socio-political movement, Jama'at al-Sadr al-Thani (Movement of al-Sadr the Second).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Myanmar's Military Autocrats on Parade

Myanmar has held a huge military parade to celebrate its armed forces day. International journalists were allowed rare access to cover the event by the southeast Asian country's repressive military regime. The parade was held in the newly built capital Naypyidaw situated around 400 miles north of the old capital Yangon. The military regime has been condemned internationally for its appalling record on human rights.
The event also marked a rare public appearance for the generals who ensure oppostion to government rule is stifled.
Around 15,000 troops listened to an address by the country's most senior general, Than Shwe. Than Shwe used his speech to warn that the regime would "crush" any opponents of the state.

Human Rights Watch section on Myanmar (Burma):

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Future of Palestine

Palestinian schoolgirls rally for national unity. For those Israelis who hope that the Palestinians will accept the occupation, think again.

Palestinian Woman Attacked by Israeli Army Dog

Civilian Palestinian woman in Bethlehem attacked by an Israeli Army attack dog.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tens of Thousands of Sufi Mystics Gather in Cairo

Shaykh Akram is head of the Ibrahimiya Sufi order. He became a shaykh at 28, taking over from his father. He has hundreds of followers. It is a huge responsibility, he says, and he admits he sometimes feels confused about his role. In his other life he runs a flower shop in Cairo. [BBC News]

Literally, the word mawlid means birth.
The Tanta mawlid celebrates the memory Ahmed el-Bedawi, a local 13th century Sufi saint. Sufism is a generally defined as Islamic mysticism. Followers perform the dhikr, chanting the name of God over and over again, at an ever increasing tempo. Some achieve a trance-like state.
[BBC News]

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Twelver Shi'a Flock to Karbala

Hundreds of thousands of Twelver Shi'i Muslim pilgrims throng the plaza outside the shrine of Imam Husayn in commemoration of the 40th-day anniversary of his martyrdom at Karbala, Iraq in the year 680 C.E. The event, Arba'eena, marks one of the largest gatherings of Twelver Shi'i pilgrims throughout the year outside of the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Muharram, when Husayn was killed with 72 of his male relatives and companions.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Israel=Judaism, Judaism=Israel ?

"I believe Jimmy Carter is an anti-Semite and his intention is to hurt Jewish people."
-Shmuel Herzfeld, rabbi at Ohev Sholom in Washington, D.C., conflating a beautiful religion that is thousands of years old with a modern nation-state that is less than a century old.
The modern Zionist project of blurring the definition of what it means to be "really Jewish" has worked. By their definition a "real Jew" logically has to support the "Jewish state." This "Jewish state" also does not descriminate based on religion or cultural/ethnic identities, they say.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Israeli Troops Observe 'Human Rights'

Soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) using 24-year-old Sameh Amira, a resident of the Palestinan city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, as a human shield as they conduct a house raid. Amira was not wanted by the IDF and lived next door to the house raided. The video from which this clip was taken was shot by the Associated Press. The IDF said that upon review of the tape it sees nothing wrong with what its troops did in Nablus and said that its troops operate within the boundaries of the "laws of war."

Friday, March 02, 2007

Windbag of the Week

Harvard University's Alan Dershowitz, author of The Case for Israel, The Case for Peace, and What Israel Means to Me. The two former titles are essentially the same book and under a thin guise of impartiality Dershowitz's unabashed love affair with Israel becomes apparent. There's no problem with the fact that he's biased toward one side. However, pretending not to be is where the facade becomes insulting to his readers. It's akin to Fox News' statement that its coverage is "fair and balanced;" it is indeed in the esteemed opinions of such intellectual giants as Ann Coulter, Michele Malkin, and "Dr." Laura Schlessinger.

Rhetorical Questions for Thought:

Can a self-described "Jewish state" be inclusive to all people equally? Will there not be some level of inequality?

When did Israel equal Judaism and vice versa?