The U.S. School That Trains Dictators & Death Squads – YouTube

28 minute video from Abby Martin.
The history is known- long and incidious. Latin America has paid the price of US imperialism.

The lessons are there to be learned because the plots continue across the globe.
What is happening in the Middle East is no accident and is not civil war and it is playing out in your neck of the woods.


Toe Knee interrupted me…. with more terror! So I’ve paid sarcastic attention to his detail.

The Benefit of the Doubt and the neoliberal concept of ‘exceptionalism’ and ‘the reasonable man’.

I had started a post on the above topic, found a suitable Leunig cartoon and was ensconsed when I was rudely interrupted by Toe Knee Ahh Butt’s speech today. But first a word from Michael Leunig to get you in the mood.

I was thinking about concepts like;

  • Neo-liberal lipservice to assumed values and unexplained values of ‘civilisation’.

  • “There must be something beyond slaughter and barbarism to support the existence of mankind and we must all help search for it.”(Carlos Fuentes’ last tweet)

I was reading a fabulous paper “Neoliberalising violence: of the exceptional andthe exemplary in coalescing moments” by Simon Springer 2012, and found this brilliant quote;

“I argue that the hegemony of neoliberalism positions it as an abuser, which actively facilitates the abandonment of ‘Others’ who fall outside of ‘neoliberal normativity’, a conceptual category that cuts across multiple categories of discrimination including class, race, ethnicity, gender, sex, sexuality, age and ability. I argue that the widespread banishment of ‘Others’ under neoliberalism produces a ‘state of exception’, wherein because of its inherently dialectic nature, exceptional violence is transformed into exemplary violence. This metamorphosis occurs as aversion for alterity intensifies under neoliberalism and its associated violence against ‘Others’ comes to form the rule. The purpose is to recognise that neoliberalisation – in as much as it claims a global domain– implicates all of humanity in a particular ‘moment’, a moment of abandonment wherein the social relations that afford privilege to the few and privation to the many are the very same social relations that occasion violence.” (My emphasis.)

Simon Springer 2012 Department of Geography, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

See his article in full here

Then I was interrupted…… by Toe Knee (SMH article with video and transcript here)

Toe Knee Ah...Butt's famous budgie smugglers "The Australian way of life"

Toe Knee Ah…Butt’s famous budgie smugglers “The Australian way of life”


AHH BUTT’S FULL NATIONAL SECURITY STATEMENT. (My sarcastic, and sometimes disbelieving comments are in italics)

I want to speak to you about the threat that we face; the work done already to keep you as safe as we humanly can; and the things still needed to prevent further terrorist attacks.

Today, my colleagues and I are joined by representatives of the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Defence Force, ASIO and agencies like Crimtrac – which helps police and other law enforcement bodies share information.

The men and women in this room are on the frontline of Australia’s fight against terror. 

There is no greater responsibility – on me – on the government – than keeping you safe. (How about improving income and social protections for the poor and vulnerable?)

This is the responsibility that’s discharged by the men and women in this room.

We know that these are testing times for everyone here – and for everyone sworn to protect democratic freedoms. Conflates his government with the protection of ‘democratic freedoms’

The terrorist threat is rising at home and abroad – (On what basis is this claim made? Mad Man Monis?) and it’s becoming harder to combat. (The word ‘combat’ is in itself inflamatory and totally consistant with the Bush meme “A war on terror” that justified his [and our] illegal invasion of Iraq)

We have seen on our TV screens and in our newspapers (MSM filtered) the evidence (loose use of the term) of the new dark age (at whose direction and with what support from where?) that has settled over much of Syria and Iraq. (But berated Assad as an evil dictator when he advised back in 2012 that his country was being invaded by Foreign fundamentalist terror cells preferring to call them Freedom fighters and totally ignored the years of CIA funding and training to many of those (many who were in Camp Bucca like Bagdadi) who currently fight with IS )

We have seen the beheadings, the mass executions, the crucifixions and the sexual slavery in the name of religion. (and the ones undertaken by ‘our good friends the Saudi’s under state sanctioned terrorism).

There is no grievance here that can be addressed; there is no cause here that can be satisfied; it is the demand to submit – or die.

We have seen our fellow Australians – people born and bred to live and let live – succumb to the lure of this death cult. (and knowing the root causes of this in our own country, dissaffection, racism, ignorance, youth unemployment, and mental illth, ignore these factors and continue to cut funds to programs that address these issues.)

We have heard the exhortations of their so-called caliphate to kill all or any of the unbelievers. (A man who spent four years [or 10 months depending on which reports you read] in US sponsored incarceration in Iraq’s notorious Bucca Gitmo)

And we know that this message of the most primitive savagery is being spread through the most sophisticated technology.

By any measure, the threat to Australia is worsening. (Fueled by what and whom Toe Knee?)

The number of foreign fighters is up. (evidence?)

The number of known sympathisers and supporters of extremism is up. (evidence?)

The number of potential home grown terrorists is rising. (evidence?)

The number of serious investigations continues to increase. (figures and analysis?)

During 2014, the government consulted with our experts – many of whom are in this room today; we talked with our allies; and we worked with the opposition, to improve Australia’s preparedness for any eventuality.

Last September, the National Terrorist Threat level was lifted to high, which means a terrorist attack is likely. (on what basis?)

Critics said we were exaggerating.

But since then, we have witnessed the frenzied attack on two police officers in Melbourne and the horror of the Martin Place siege. (singular events, analysis of which does not reveal anything to support or justify the whipping up by your government of the legislative changes you have proposed and initiated)

Twenty people have been arrested and charged as a result of six counter terrorism operations conducted around Australia. (would this not have occurred without access to the new anti-terror legislation?)

That’s one third of all the terrorism-related arrests since 2001 – within the space of just six months.

The judgment to lift the Threat Level was correct. (Not a logical conclusion)

In proclaiming a caliphate, the Islam-ist death-cult has declared war on the world.

Not only has Australia suffered at the hands of terrorists – but so have Canada, France, Denmark, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria, Japan, Jordan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

We have seen the tactics of terrorists evolve. (On MSM and not heard any contradictory or less shock and awe media tactics)

In the decade after 9/11, our agencies disrupted elaborate conspiracies to attack our electricity supplies, the Grand Final at the MCG and the Holsworthy Army Barracks in Sydney.

Now, in addition to the larger scale, more complex plots that typified the post 9/11 world, such as the atrocities in Bali and London, sick individuals are acting on the caliphate’s instruction to seize people at random and kill them. (Not to mention the 9/11 deep state conspiracies, Bush Cheyney, Halliburten, Rumsfeld, G4S, drones, psy-ops and False Flags)

Today’s terrorism requires little more than a camera-phone, a knife and a victim. (One Bourbon, one scotch and one beer)

These lone actor attacks are not new, but they pose a unique set of problems.

All too often, alienated and unhappy people brood quietly. (How true)

Feeling persecuted and looking for meaning, they self-radicalise online. (let’s ban self radicalisation and forget dealing with the root causes of alienation)

Then they plan attacks which require little preparation, training or capability.

The short lead time from the moment they decide they are going to strike, and then actually undertake the attack, makes it hard to disrupt their activities.

Police do not have the luxury to wait and watch. 

They apply their best judgement – and they do so, fully aware that armchair critics, will find fault.

Still, police act because they have enough facts to make an informed judgement. 

Some of these raids may not result in prosecution. (let’s see how many)

But frankly, I’d rather lose a case, than lose a life. (Lawyer speak for better to be safe than sorry)

The protection of life must always rank ahead of the prospects of a successful prosecution.

The arrest of two men in Sydney earlier this month, who’d already recorded a pre-attack message, is just one example of how quickly a threat can develop. 

I should add that without our Foreign Fighters legislation, it is highly unlikely that these arrests could have been made.

This new terrorist environment is uniquely shaped by the way that extremist ideologies can now spread online.

Every single day, the Islam-ist death cult and its supporters churn out up to 100,000 social media messages in a variety of languages. 

Often, they are slick and well produced. (Perhaps even as ‘False Flags’ and Psy-ops by so-called people who hold similar values to us)

That’s the contagion that’s infecting people, grooming them for terrorism.

Already at least 110 Australians have travelled overseas to join the death cult in Iraq and Syria. 

At least 20 of them, so far, are dead.

Even if the flow of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq stopped today, there’s an Australian cohort of hardened jihadists who are intent on radicalising and influencing others.

The number of Australians with hands-on terrorist experience is now several times larger than those who trained earlier in Afghanistan and Pakistan. (110-20 = 90 times David Hicks?)

Of that group, two-thirds became involved in terrorist activity back here in Australia. (Where does he get those figures?)

The signs are ominous.

ASIO currently has over 400 high-priority counter-terrorism investigations. (Are you on their list? Am I?)

That’s more than double the number a year ago.

We are not alone in facing such challenges.

The same phenomenon is evident across Europe, in the United States and in South East Asia.

Many of those involved in anti-Western attacks in Indonesia over the last decade are now being released from prison—some neither reformed nor rehabilitated.

Australian and Indonesian agencies will continue to work closely together to tackle extremists – because it is in both our interests to do so.

In Australia and elsewhere, the threat of terrorism has become a terrible fact of life that government must do all in its power to counter.

So far, this is what we have done. (Here we go..)

Within weeks of taking office, I asked the Attorney-General to develop a government response to foreign fighters. (Excluding all those dual citizens who join the Israeli Occupation Forces to fight to protect ‘freedom’ in Israel because they’re our friends and are ‘legitimate combatants’ in the illegal war on Gaza and the Occupied Territories…Oh sorry Mr Brandis, their not occupied)

Last August, the government invested $630 million in a range of new counter-terrorism measures. (Just enough to

This funding gives our security agencies the resources they asked for to combat home-grown terrorism and to help prevent Australians participating in terrorism overseas.

The effect of these new measures has already been felt:

* Counter-Terrorism Teams now operate at all eight major international airports; (I’ll tell you later about Darwin Customs, Immigration and Border Protection)

* Sixty-two additional biometric screening gates are being fast tracked for passengers at airports to detect and deal with people leaving on false passports;

* Forty-nine extra AFP members are working in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra on the Foreign Fighter threat;

* Seven new financial analysts have been engaged to help crack down on terrorist financing; (And this later)

* A new “violent jihadist network mapping unit” in ASIO has been created to improve intelligence agencies’ understanding of the threat facing Australia;

* A Foreign Fighters Task Force has been established in the Australian Crime Commission with access to the commission’s coercive powers; and

* Last Thursday, the Attorney-General announced a series of measures designed to combat terrorist propaganda online. (Interesting must have missed that)

* We have legislated to cancel the welfare payments of individuals assessed to be a threat to security. 

This is not window dressing – as of last September, 55 of the 57 Australian extremists then fighting with terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq had been on welfare. (I wonder why?)

We have made it easier to ban terrorist organisations which promote and encourage terrorist acts. (Who are the terrorists? And who will be next? Will those who questions the nature of world events and the increasing government agenda to moniter its citizens in a ‘lowest common denominator’ inspired universally applied internet spyforce, alternative appraisals and possible government conspiracies, poorly masked neo-con capitalist agendas and acts of state terrorism be next or are they already there?)

We have strengthened the offences of training with, recruiting for and funding terrorist organisations.

We have made it easier to prosecute foreign fighters by making it illegal to travel to a declared area overseas. (And the IDF in Gaza?)

Last December, we proscribed travel to Syria’s Al Raqqa province – where the death cult is based – without a legitimate purpose. (But if someone goes to Turkey and gets in that way will you even know?)

We are now looking at listing Mosul district in Ninawa Province, in Iraq, which the death cult also controls.

And we have given ASIO the further power to request an Australian passport be suspended, pending further security assessment – that’s happened eight times so far.

This year, we will consider what further legislation is needed to combat terrorism and keep Australians safe. (That should keep you busy and the populace engrosed, forget all your failed policies and Hockey’s pitiful budget razorcuts)

But we cannot do it alone. (?)

The government is working with local communities to counter violent extremism.

I acknowledge the readiness of parents, siblings and community leaders to let the police know about people they think are falling under the death cult’s spell. (As opposed to believing your neo-con spin….can we please stop this witchworld language …..please)

Our law enforcement agencies could not operate without their help.(That’s a bit sad after all we the tax payer are funding this to the tune of an additional $630 million!)

I acknowledge the cooperation the Commonwealth enjoys with all States and Territories on counter-terrorism issues.

That cooperation was highlighted by the Martin Place siege.

Yesterday, Premier Mike Baird and I released the Martin Place Siege Joint Commonwealth – New South Wales Review.

What we learnt from that Review was that there were no major failings of intelligence or process in the lead up to Martin Place. (Except agreeing that the man was in the first instance to answer charges in Iran of embezelling money from his customers and extradition was requested….How many times has Iran requested this of its nationals and was it ever investigated here, considering extensive police checks are sought from anyone seeking asylum in Australia, oh but of course that was Iran…..and then we were paying Iranian refugee detainees $3000 to go back from Baxter IDF to Iran, but that’s another story.)

Everyone did their job as required by law. (Nuff said)

But now, there’s more to do.

It’s clear that in too many instances the threshold for action was set too high – and the only beneficiary of that was the Martin Place murderer himself.

For too long, we have given those who might be a threat to our country the benefit of the doubt. (I’m not sure what you mean Toe Knee?

The perpetrator was given the benefit of the doubt when he applied for a visa. (Not exactly)

He was given the benefit of the doubt for residency and citizenship.(Not exactly)

He was given the benefit of the doubt at Centrelink.(Who knows what doubt they had)

He was given the benefit of the doubt when he applied for legal aid. (What doubt was he not elligible?)

And in the courts, there has been bail, when there should have been jail. (Toe Knee of the bar)

This report marks a line in the sand.

There is always a trade-off between the rights of an individual and the safety of the community. (But is this the way to ‘make us safe’?)

We will never sacrifice our freedoms in order to defend them – but we will not let our enemies exploit our decency either. (More slogans)

If Immigration and Border Protection faces a choice to let-in or keep out people with security questions over them – we should choose to keep them out. (A dangerous move, what security questions are we talking about)

If there is a choice between latitude for suspects or more powers to police and security agencies – more often, we should choose to support our agencies.

And if we can stop hate-preachers from grooming gullible young people for terrorism, we should.

We have already made a start on removing the benefit of the doubt for people who are taking advantage of us.

We’ve introduced legislation to refuse a protection visa to people who destroy evidence of their identity. (Not a bad idea when people smugglers and pimps remove documents from those seeking asylum and women interned in prostitution rackets)

And the same applies if you present a bogus document.

This Bill is currently stalled in the Senate. (Thank goodness someone’s having a closer look)

It’s reasonable. (What is? that someone’s having a closer look or the Bill? Sorry if I forgot how reasonable you are.)

It’s in our country’s interest. 

And I call on all senators to support it.

The government’s Data Retention Bill – currently being reviewed by the Parliament – is the vital next step in giving our agencies the tools they need to keep Australia safe. (Rubbish, vital next step indeed)

Access to metadata is the common element to most successful counter-terrorism investigations. 

It’s essential in fighting most major crimes, including the most abhorrent of all – crimes against children. (What about the children?….took you long enough to get the Royal Commission underway and we still lock them up in Madatory detention, ofshore so we can wash our hands of the range human rights abuses being perpetrated.)

Again, I call on Parliament to support this important legislation.

We need to give our agencies these powers to protect our community.

Today, I am releasing the Counter Terrorism review that the government commissioned last August.

The review finds that we face a new, long-term era of heightened terrorism threat, with a much more significant ‘home grown’ element.

From the SMH today….

“Second, there’s the push for stronger prohibitions on “vilifying, intimidating or inciting hatred”. For most of recent memory, the Coalition wanted to loosen such limits on free speech by watering down Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

The new move would use the criminal code instead and any new laws would obviously apply to everyone, not just Muslim preachers. Nevertheless, Mr Abbott is sending a signal to the Muslim community that six months ago the government wanted to increase free speech for the general community and now it wants to curb free speech for Muslims.

This will only increase the sense among Muslims that they are being singled out.”

Carry on Toe Knee……

While the review did not recommend major structural changes, it did recommend strengthening our counter-terrorism strategy and improving our cooperation with at-risk communities.

The government will carefully consider the findings and act as quickly as possible.

In fact, some recommendations have already been acted upon:

We will ensure returning foreign fighters are prosecuted or closely monitored using strengthened control orders.

We will appoint a National Counter Terrorism Coordinator.

We want to bring the same drive, focus and results to our counter terrorism efforts that worked so well in Operation Sovereign Borders and Operation Bring Them Home.

Over recent months, I spent many hours listening to Australians from all walks of life. (We were told by your own party you did not confer on much at all)

Clearly, people are anxious about the national security threats we face.

Many are angry because all too often the threat comes from someone who has enjoyed the hospitality and generosity of the Australian people.

When it comes to someone like the Martin Place murderer, people feel like we have been taken for mugs. (So that’s why you sacked Ruddoch?…..He was the responsible Minister at the time….doubtful)

Australian citizenship is an extraordinary privilege that should involve a solemn and lifelong commitment to Australia.

People who come to this country are free to live as they choose – provided they don’t steal that same freedom from others. (debatable)

We are one of the most diverse nations on earth – and celebrating that is at the heart of what it means to be Australian. (Blah, blah)

We are a country built on immigration and are much the richer for it. (Not after we incarcerated ‘indefinitely’, ‘boat people’) and called legitimate refugees queue jumpers)

Always, Australia will continue to welcome people who want to make this country their home. (?) 

We will help them and support them to settle in.

But this is not a one-way street. (Slogan)

Those who come here must be as open and accepting of their adopted country, as we are of them. 

Those who live here must be as tolerant of others as we are of them.

No one should live in our country while denying our values and rejecting the very idea of a free and open society. (Your neo-con view of ‘free and open’ society that is.Respect my authoritie.” …Cartman, South Park…yes I’m loosing interest)

It’s worth recalling the citizenship pledge that all of us have been encouraged to recite:

I pledge my commitment to Australia and its people; whose democratic beliefs I share; whose rights and liberties I respect; and whose laws I will uphold and obey.

This has to mean something.

Especially now that we face a home-grown threat from people who do reject our values. (perhaps you should examine the ‘home grown’ reponsibility aspect more)

Today, I am announcing that the government will look at new measures to strengthen immigration laws, as well as new options for dealing with Australian citizens who are involved in terrorism. 

We cannot allow bad people to use our good nature against us. (Your either with us or with the terrorists…Bush OR “Four legs goooood, two legs baaaad” Sheep in Animal Farm)

The government will develop amendments to the Australian Citizenship Act so that we can revoke or suspend Australian citizenship in the case of dual nationals. (Makes you wonder where Palestinians or other previously stateless peoples will sit with only one ‘nationality?)

It has long been the case that people who fight against Australia forfeit their citizenship. (Funny, I thought they were fighting Assad in Syria)

Australians who take up arms with terrorist groups, especially while Australian military personnel are engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq, have sided against their country and should be treated accordingly. (We are not there under any UN sanctioned intervention even if we call it ‘humanitarian’.)

For Australian nationals, we are examining suspending some of the privileges of citizenship for individuals involved in terrorism.

Those could include restricting the ability to leave or return to Australia, and access to consular services overseas, as well as access to welfare payments. (Hmmmnnn)

We will also clamp down on those organisations that incite religious or racial hatred.(Including Zionists?)

No-one should make excuses for Islam-ist fanatics in the Middle East or their imitators here in Australia. (Make excuses, or do you really mean ‘actively support violent jihad’… this is sounding like the BBC panel attack on George Galloway)

For a long time, successive governments have been concerned about organisations that breed hatred, and sometimes incite violence. (I’m tired of this, role of government rant)

Organisations and individuals blatantly spreading discord and division – such as Hizb ut-Tahrir – should not do so with impunity.

Today, I can confirm that the government will be taking action against hate preachers.

This includes enforcing our strengthened terrorism advocacy laws.

It includes new programmes to challenge terrorist propaganda and to provide alternative online material based on Australian values.

And it will include stronger prohibitions on vilifying, intimidating or inciting hatred.

These changes should empower community members to directly challenge terrorist propaganda.

I’ve often heard Western leaders describe Islam as a ‘religion of peace’.

I wish more Muslim leaders would say that more often, and mean it.

I have often cited Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia, who has described the Islamist death cult as ‘against God, against Islam and against our common humanity’.

In January, President al Sisi told the imams at Egypt’s al Azhar university that Islam needed a ‘religious revolution’ to sweep away centuries of false thinking. (Let’s not tbring Al Sisi into this, Pleeeese)

Everybody, including Muslim community leaders, needs to speak up clearly because, no matter what the grievance, violence against innocents must surely be a blasphemy against all religion.

I can’t promise that terrorist atrocities won’t ever again take place on Australian soil.

But let me give you this assurance:

My government will never underestimate the threat.

We will make the difficult decisions that must be taken to keep you and your family safe.

We have the best national security agencies and the best police forces in the world. 

Our agencies are working together. (No they’re not, I have that on good advice and personal knowledge, integrated activities and communcations between agencies is not part of the policy implementation of the ATLaw and the Departments involved are not actively sharing intel, this means risk problems and problems for innocents caught in the crosshairs)

All levels of government are working together.

We are doing our duty.

That is what you have a right to expect – and to demand of me and of us.

Well thankfully that’s finished. I’ll let Simon Springer have the final word. His paper (link above) is really worth a read.

Neoliberalising violence’ signifies the increasingly fantastic character of violence as our political imaginaries knowingly and unknowingly come to embrace the anomie and social disarticulation of neoliberalism’s dystopia of individualism. Within neoliberalism’s imaginative geographies of a global village, what is not spoken is the desire for a particular homogeneity, an impulse to remake the ‘Other’ in ‘our’ image, whereby the space of ‘the peculiar’, ‘the exotic’, ‘the bizarre’ is continually (re)pro-duced through the relation of the ban. As an ascendantform of sovereignty that attempts to (re)constitute classpower (Harvey 2005) and maintain hegemony through the production of a series of ongoing crises or ‘shocks’ used to pry national economies open to global markets (Klein 2007), neoliberalism exaggerates the abandonment that calls the state of exception into being. To Agamben (2005), the state of exception relies on conditions of crises, wherein individual rights may be diminished,superseded and rejected in the process of extending existing governmental power structures. Insofar as neo-liberalism isapraxis of socio-spatial transformation that proceeds as both a quantitative destruction and discreditation entailing the ‘roll-back’ of certain state functions,and a qualitative construction and consolidation, which sees the ‘roll-out’ of reconfigured economic management systems and an invasive social agenda centred on urban order, surveillance and policing, the very logic behind neoliberalism’s exigent modalities melds with the state of exception. Indeed, the state of exception ‘marks a thresh-old at which logic and praxis blur with each other and a pure violence’ is realised (Agamben 2005, 40).

My emphasis, couldn’t have said it better thanks Simon!

Dear Syria: From One Refugee to Another – Ramzy Baroud repost from Dissident Voice

Ramzy Baroud often touches a nerve for me, his writing is thoughtful and always shows connectedness to his subject.

I have wanted to post on recent issues relating to the Australian Counter Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014 and its capacity for thoughtless personal impact through poor policy interpretation of an overly zealous law initiated under the cloud of ‘Terror Threats’ to Australia trumpeted by our government. The implementation of Policy in Australia means the fact that you are Palestinian, will never be forgotten (even if you become a citizen of this country and carry her passport) by security forces of Customs and Border etc and the various Police entities involved in working under this Act.

Double whammy if you are a Palestinian from Syria.

Triple whammy if your birthplace as a part of the diaspora post 1948 was Libya.

Quadruple whammy if you were once an asylum seeker to these shores.

Quintuple if you had to return to Syria for any valid reason over the past few years.

I am still debating whether it is timely to post my piece or if I should do further research and wait for the right moment to be more in tune with the universe and less fucking angry. (Takfiri outsiders in Al Yarmouk killed by multiple poorly aimed gunshots at least 3 men in recent street ‘court assassinations’ for swearing as I just did- Fuck them and their proxy war trainers, suppliers, financiers and supporters)

I want to THANK you Ramzy for this piece, for the 7 reminders and warnings and particularly for the reminder that some people really do understand why you think of your mother when you hear the word ‘refugee’ and why you say, “Dear Syria”……………….

Dear Syria: From One Refugee to Another

Whenever the word ‘refugee’ is uttered, I think of my mother. When Zionist militias began their systematic onslaught and ‘cleansing’ of the Palestinian Arab population of historic Palestine in 1948, she, along with her family, ran away from the once peaceful village of Beit Daras.

Back then, Zarefah was six. Her father died in a refugee camp in a tent provided by the Quakers soon after he had been separated from his land. She collected scrap metal to survive.

My grandmother Mariam, would venture out to the ‘death zone’ that bordered the separated and newly established state of Israel from Gaza’s refugee camps to collect figs and oranges. She faced death every day. Her children were all refugees, living in shatat – the Diaspora.

My mother lived to be 42. Her life was tremendously difficult. She married a refugee, my dad, and together they brought seven refugees into this world – my brothers, my sister and myself. One died as a toddler, for there was no medicine in the refugee camp’s clinic.

No matter where we are, in time and place, we carry our refugee ID cards, our undefinable nationalities, our precious status, our parents’ burden, our ancestors’ pain.

In fact, we have a name for it. It is called waja’ – ‘aching’ – a character that unifies millions of Palestinian refugees all across the globe. With our refugee population now dominated by second, third or even fourth generation refugees, it seems that our waja’ is what we hold in common most. Our geographies may differ, our languages, our political allegiances, our cultures, but ultimately, we meet around the painful experiences that we have internalized throughout generations.

My mother used to say – ihna yalfalastinieen damitna qaribeh – tears for us Palestinians are always close by. But our readiness to shed tears is not a sign of weakness, far from it. It is because throughout the years we managed to internalize our own exile, and its many ramifications, along with the exiles of everyone else’s. The emotional burden is just too great.

We mask the unbearable aching somehow, but it is always close to the surface. If we hear a single melody by Marcel Khalifeh or Sheikh Imam, or a few verses by Mahmoud Darwish, the wound is as fresh as ever.

Most of us no longer live in tents, but we are reminded of our refugee status every single day, by the Israeli occupation, by the Gaza siege and the internally-displaced Palestinians in Israel, by the Iraq war and the displacement of the already displaced Palestinians there, by the despicable living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and throughout the Middle East.

But for us, Syria has been our greatest waja’ in years. Aside from the fact that most of Syria’s half a million Palestinian refugees are on the run again, living the pain of displacement and loss for the second, third, or even fourth time. Nine million Syrian refugees are now duplicating the Palestinian tragedy, charting the early course of the Palestinian Nakba, the catastrophe of 1948.

Watching the destitution of the Syrian refugees is like rewinding the past, in all of its awful details. And watching Arab states clamor to aid the refugees with ample words and little action feels as if we are living Arab betrayal all over again.

I watched my grandparents die, followed by my parents and many of my peers. All of them died refugees, carrying the same status and the same lost hope of return. The most they ever received from the ‘international community’ was a few sacks of rice and cheap cooking oil. And, of course, numerous tents.

With time our refugee status morphed from being a ‘problem’ to an integral part of our identities. Being a ‘refugee’ at this stage means insisting on the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees as enshrined in international law. That status is no longer just a mere reference to physical displacement but also to a political, even a national identity.

Political division may, at times, dominate Palestinian society, but we will always be united by the fact that we are refugees with a common cause: going home. While for the Palestinians of Yarmouk near Damascus, being a refugee is a matter of life and death – often by starvation – for the larger Palestinian collective, the meaning of the word has become more involved: it has been etched onto our skin forever.

But what can one say by way of advice to the relatively new refugees of Syria, considering that we are yet to liberate ourselves from a status that we never sought?

There can be only reminders and a few warnings:

First, may your displacement end soon. May you never live the waja’ of displacement to the extent that you embrace it as a part of your identity, and pass it on from one generation to another. May it be a kind of fleeting pain or passing nightmare, but never a pervasive every day reality.

Second, you must be prepared for the worst. My grandparents left their new blankets in their village before they fled to the refugee camps because they feared they would have been ruined by the dust of the journey. Alas, the camps became home, and the blankets were confiscated as the rest of Palestine was. Please remain hopeful, but realistic.

Third, don’t believe the ‘international community’ when they make promises. They never deliver, and when they do, it is always for ulterior motives that might bring you more harm than good. In fact, the term itself is illusory, mostly used in reference to western countries which have wronged you as they have us.

Fourth, don’t trust Arab regimes. They lie. They feel not your pain. They hear not your pleas, nor do they care. They have invested so much in destroying your countries, and so little in redeeming their sins. They speak of aid that rarely arrives and political initiatives that constitute mostly press releases. But they will take every opportunity to remind you of their virtues. In fact, your victimhood becomes a platform for their greatness. They thrive at your expense, thus will invest to further your misery.

Fifth, preserve your dignity. I know, it is never easy to maintain your pride when you sleep in a barren street covered in cardboard boxes. A mother would do whatever she can to help her children pass into safety. No matter, you must never allow the wolves awaiting you at every border to exploit your desperation. You must never allow the Emir, or his children or some rich businessman or sympathetic celebrity to use you as a photo-op. Do not ever kneel. Don’t ever kiss a hand. Don’t give anyone the satisfaction to exploit your pain.

Sixth, remain united. There is strength in unity when one is a refugee. Don’t allow political squabbles to distract you from the greater battle at hand: surviving until the day you return home, and you will.

Seventh, love Syria. Yours is an unparalleled civilization. Your history is rife with triumphs that were ultimately of your own making. Even if you must leave to distant lands, keep Syria in your hearts. This too shall pass, and Syria shall redeem its glory, once the brutes vanquish. Only the spirit of the people shall survive. It is not wishful thinking. It is history.

Dear Syrian refugee, it has been 66 years and counting since my people’s dispossession began. We are yet to return, but that is a battle for my children, and their children to fight. I hope yours ends soon. Until then, please remember the tent is just a tent, and the gusts of cold wind are but of a passing storm.

And until you return home to Syria, don’t let the refugee become who you are, as you are so much more.

Ramzy Baroud is an author and a journalist. His latest volume is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London). He can be reached at Read other articles by Ramzy.

Israel’s youngest Palestinian female prisoner – this occupation regime calls itself civilised?


Yesterday, Al Manaar, a Lebanese online news agency reported on 14 year old Malak al-Khatab ‘detained’ on her way home from school in Occupied Ramallah by the IOF on December 31st 2014. See here.

The report is also on WAFA the Palestinian News Agency here

“A 14-year-old Palestinian girl has become the youngest prisoner in Israeli jails after an Israeli court sentenced her to two months in jail and a fine of 6,000 Israeli shekels (roughly $1,500), a Palestinian NGO said Sunday.”

The Ramallah-based Ahrar Centre for Prisoners’ Studies and Human Rights reportedly advised Al-Manar news that  Malak was “the youngest of around 280 Palestinian children in Israeli jails.” (Al-Manar)

Her crime?

On Wednesday 21st Jan she was convicted, her father Ali  said of “throwing stones at occupation forces, blocking a main road in the West Bank and possessing a knife.” He said Malak was “brought to the court with her hands and feet in handcuffs” and “when the judge read out the verdict, I looked at Malak and she was wiping off her tears as she shivered from cold,”.

Malak’s detention was extended several times and she spent around 23 days awaiting her ruling. At the time, the lawyer defending her was trying to reduce the fine, Malak’s father earlier told WAFA. …. She is now serving her sentence in Hasharon detention centre with another three female prisoners who are, according to her father, taking care of Malak and emotionally supporting her.

Her prison?  Hasharon……

A human rights organization warned of the “catastrophic and unbearable” situation of Palestinian female prisoners in the Israeli Hasharon detention center. The Prisoners’ Center for Studies said the Israeli prison administration has been abusing the Palestinian female captives held in Hasharon. (see here )

For a look at the prison and Press TV video (October 2014) on treatment of female prisoners see here.

The ‘Civilised’ Israeli Occupation, detention of children and International law

1. Detention a last resort for minors

Lawyer Ayed Abu Qutesh – even though the International law allows the detention of minors, it should be always the last decision that any court or state takes. All concerned parties should try to find other alternatives to the detention and actual imprisonment of children, such as fines and suspended imprisonment.

Lawyer Jawad Bolous  – “the Israeli occupation’s policy of arresting minors contradicts with all international laws regarding minors. It starts at the very moment of arrest where soldiers forget that they are arresting a minor, treating the children in a very barbaric way. The minors go through detention until the ruling, while Israel ignores the grave consequences of this detention on their lives.”

2. Family Visitation

Malak’s family wasn’t able to visit her at the detention center, and only saw her at the court on January 11 for the first time after her arrest (on the 31st Dec) . Her father said then that she looked distressed and scared. This lack of access in Israeli gaols is commonplace, many detainees are illegally shipped outside the Occupied areas to prisons to prevent this access.

3. Standards of due process

According to the Defence for Children International Palestine (DCI-Palestine), “Israel is the only state to automatically and systematically prosecute children in military courts that lack basic standards of due process.”

It said in a report on the arrest of minors by Israel that “Around 500 – 700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12, are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military detention system each year. The majority of Palestinian child detainees are charged with throwing stones.’

While Palestinian children endure such conduct, no Israeli children come into contact with the military court system, proving the amount of discrimination in the Israeli system.

4. Institutionalised ill-treatment

WAFA quotes a UNICEF report that concludes- ill treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears ‘widespread, systematic and institutionalized’. “On average 700 Palestinian children a year, appear before Israel’s military court,” According to the report, children detainees are treated harshly in most cases. It mentions binding hands and eyes, signing documents in Hebrew, physical and verbal abuse, night arrests, threats, strip searches and solitary confinement to name a few.

5. Not harsh enough says Israeli cabinet

Israel’s cabinet’s recent decision to back a law change allowing harsher sentences of up to 20 years for stone throwers after the recent tensions in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Ahmed Melhelm wrote for Al Monitor last year (see here) on Israeli torture of child prisoners…. he raised the following;

  • The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah)- request to Israel’s Attorney General to halt the physical and psychological abuse practiced against Palestinian children during arrest and interrogation, documenting dozens of cases of torture inside prisons.
  • Defense for Children International (DCI)- “The occupation forces arrest and try about 700 children annually. The monthly average of Palestinian children held in Israeli military detention during 2013 was 199.”
  • Salah al-Hammouri, researcher with the Conscience Foundation for Human Rights in Jerusalem – “The psychological effects of the interrogation are clearly visible on the children that come out of prison, and this is reflected by the fact that they appear older than their true age. They react in unexpected ways — sometimes violently — and many of them refuse to go back to school.”
  • Khodr Rasras, clinical psychologist, Center for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture, “There are immediate effects that are apparent on a child who has been detained, such as a sense of loneliness and isolation from his peers. [The child] seems older than his true age, and has a personality resembling that of an adult, in addition to fear and sadness inside the prison, because he is far from his parents. This creates a psychological state of unease and distress that accompanies [the child] for some time.”…A very small group [of these prisoners] are afflicted with mental illnesses such as depression.” and  “Erasing the psychological and physical effects of torture that appear on children after their release requires effort and time for psychological rehabilitation.”

In December 2014 Al Akhbar reported

“According to a report by The Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights, dozens of video recorded testimonies of children arrested during the first months of 2014, pointing out that 75 percent of the detained children are subjected to physical torture and 25 percent faced military trials.

Israeli forces detained at least four Palestinian children, aged 13 to 16, last month for allegedly throwing stones at Israeli cars, and attempted to detain two Palestinian children, a two-year-old and a nine-year old, on suspicion of throwing stones.”

We know this is wrong, numerous reports and representations fall on deaf ears, Israel continues to put on the mask of the civilised. Guess what Israel and your bastions of caring sensitive hasbara supporters………………WE DON”T BELIEVE YOU! boycott



The Tel Aviv stabbings: What the media left out

Repost from the site ‘If American’s Knew’

They introduce the post as a “response to the slanted media coverage on the recent Tel Aviv stabbings that contains statistics and facts that we think you may wish to share with others.” I heard an interview with a Palestinian busdriver who was talking about the brief strike they had after a colleague was stabbed to death by ‘settlers’, I prefer to call them ‘unsettlers’ (and that’s when I’m being generous). He spoke of having to work to feed his family and being spat on and abused daily by these doyens of diplomacy in Jerusalem.

I must be getting lazy again I was in the middle of posting and found this in my inbox so will work on something else, also just wondering why Americans are so America-centric, it’s certainly not just Americans who need to know this.

The Tel Aviv stabbings: What the media left out.

My next post is a repost of the recent Jonathon Cook article which addresses the complete madness confronted everyday by Palestinians under occupation…stay tuned.


VIDEO: “Israeli Control of Congress”, American intelligence team [FIRST TIME IN HISTORY!] gave a military briefing at ‘Damascus Terror Conference’, to an audience of key military leaders of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Russia


Must see video: Gordon Duff speaks in Damascus on US Policy links to organised crime and Israeli control of policy, John McCain and his Da’ash IS gangs and Chuck Hegals role in preventing US bombing of Syria over ‘gas attacks’.


Originally posted on the real SyrianFreePress Network:

Israeli Control of Congress Cited in Terrorism Keynote

Russian and US delegations chiefs with Barakat of Syria reading findings-750

Damascus Terror Conference Gets a Taste of “AIPAC’s” Criminal Ties

By Gordon Duff, Veteran Today Senior Editor

Two days of meetings were brought to a screeching halt when Gordon Duff spoke at the Damascus conference.

Seated on his right, and speaking next, was Colonel James Hanke, US Army Special Forces (ret). On his left, the Syrian Minister of Justice Najm al Ahmad and Mike Harris. Handling the camera on this short video is Jim W. Dean.



This may well have been the first time in history an American intelligence team of “non-activists” gave a military briefing to an audience of this type, including key military leaders of diverse tribal forces throughout Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, a Russian delegation and others from around the world.

VT_s Colonel Jim Hanke, former Attache to Israel VT’s Colonel Jim Hanke…

View original 245 more words

the real Syrian Free Press

Israeli Control of Congress Cited in Terrorism Keynote

Russian and US delegations chiefs with Barakat of Syria reading findings-750Russian and US delegations chiefs with Barakat of Syria reading findings

Damascus Terror Conference Gets a Taste of “AIPAC’s” Criminal Ties

By Gordon Duff, Veteran Today Senior Editor

Two days of meetings were brought to a screeching halt when Gordon Duff spoke at the Damascus conference.

Seated on his right, and speaking next, was Colonel James Hanke, US Army Special Forces (ret). On his left, the Syrian Minister of Justice Najm al Ahmad and Mike Harris. Handling the camera on this short video is Jim W. Dean.



This may well have been the first time in history an American intelligence team of “non-activists” gave a military briefing to an audience of this type, including key military leaders of diverse tribal forces throughout Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, a Russian delegation and others from around the world.

VT_s Colonel Jim Hanke, former Attache to IsraelVT’s Colonel Jim Hanke, former…

View original post 243 more words

Israeli Naval attacks on Palestinian Fisherman

Palestinian fishermen off the Gaza coastline. Israel has an imposed 6 nautical mile limit to the distance they can fish from the shore. Image by MEMO Photographer Mohammed Asad.

Palestinian fishermen off the Gaza coastline. Israel has an imposed 6 nautical mile limit from the Gaza shore on the distance they can fish . Image by MEMO Photographer Mohammed Asad.

This is a daily harassment of people’s rights to harvest food and has a direct link to the monetary gain for Israel in the gas fields off the Gaza shore.
Ask yourself, what does this have to do with Israeli security?
What right does Israel have to impose a 6 nautical mile sea limit?
 Sedwith, 10.12.2014
A direct report below from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights…….

Israeli Naval Forces Escalate Attacks against Palestinian Fishermen in Gaza Sea; 12 Fishermen Arrested, 5 Fishing Boats Confiscated and Fishing Equipment Damaged.


from Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

Published on 07 Dec 2014


Israeli gunboats stationed in the Gaza Sea chased Palestinian fishing boats sailing within the limit allowed for fishing and opened fire at them. They arrested 12 fishermen, confiscated 5 boats off al-Waha shore in Beit Lahia town in the Northern Gaza Strip and damaged fishing equipment. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the continued Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip and is concerned over the continued targeting of fishermen and their livelihoods.

Economic and social rights of fishermen have been violated by the illegal naval blockade imposed by Israeli authorities on the Gaza Sea.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 18:30 on Saturday, 06 December 2014, Israeli gunboats stationed off northwest of al-Waha shore, northwest of Beit Lahia town in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 2-3 miles and then surrounded 5 fishing boats boarded by 12 Palestinian fishermen. Israeli forces arrested all fishermen and took them to an unknown destination. They also confiscated the five boats and fishing nets. The fishermen, who are so far under arrest, were identified as:

· Safwat ‘Abdel Malek Hasan al-Sultan (30) and Sa’ed Ziyad Mahmoud Zayed (32); both from al-Salatin neighborhood, who were on a boat belonging to Fahmi Mahmoud Mohammed Zayed. Israeli forces confiscated their boat and fishing nets.

· Mahmoud Mohammed Mohammed Zayed (29) and his brother Ahmed (30), from al-Salatin neighborhood, who were both on a boat belonging to their father. The boat was confiscated and fishing nets were cut and confiscated.

· Mohammed Amin Rushdi Abu Wardeh (22) and his brother Yousif (19); from al-Salatin neighborhood, who were both on the board of a boat belonging to their father. The boat was confiscated and fishing nets were cut and confiscated.

· Belal Abu ‘Odah (23), Mahmoud Naser Mahfouz (23), Sofian Mahfouz (25), Yaser ‘Othman Meqdad (26), his brother Adham (27), and Bahaa’ al-Deen al-Najjar (22); all of them from al-Shati’ refugee camo, west of Gaza City. They were on the board of two boats that were confiscated with fishing nets.

PCHR condemns the continued Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip, and:

  1. Calls for immediately stopping the policy of chasing and arresting Palestinian fishermen, and allowing them to sail and fish freely;
  2. Calls upon Israeli forces to release the detained fishermen and compensate them for the material damage that might have incurred to them; and
  3. Calls upon the international community, including the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, to immediately intervene to stop the Israeli violations against the Palestinian fishermen and allow them to sail and fish freely in the Gaza Sea.