• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 2 augustus 2014

Zionist Fascism 133





Ron heeft een nieuwe reactie op uw bericht "Jewish Voice for Peace 3" achtergelaten: 

How can journalists be objective when writing about dead children?

"And the double frustration is that screaming is generally understood to be what you do when you have lost the argument. Whereas I can’t shake the feeling that, in these circumstances, screaming is the most rational thing to do."

"Being calmly rational about dead children feels like a very particular form of madness. Whatever else journalistic objectivity is, it surely cannot be the elimination of human emotion. If we don’t recognise that, we are not describing the full picture."

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2014/aug/01/journalists-objective-writing-dead-children 

How can journalists be objective when writing about dead children?

Being calmly rational about Gaza feels like a very particular form of madness. Journalism must convey the emotion too
Israeli attack kills Palestinian baby
Palestinians gather around the body of 40-day-old baby Kerem Ebu Zeyid, who died after Israeli attacks in Gaza on 29 July. Photograph: Belal Khaled/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
It’s a controversy as old as the fifth century BC. “Man is the measure of all things,” said Protagoras. No, replied Plato. Nothing imperfect can be the measure of anything. And there we have the essence of a philosophical squabble about the possibility of human objectivity that is as alive in modern newsrooms as it was in the Athenian agora. For when a visibly shaken Jon Snow stepped out from behind the supposed neutrality of his newsreader’s desk to present a piece to camera on his recent trip to Gaza, it felt like he was crossing a journalistic fourth wall, thus allowing the audience to recognise his anger, his passion and his opinion.
“I can’t get these images out of my mind,” said Snow, describing a small girl he met in hospital, “terribly crippled by shrapnel that had penetrated her spine.” Was that objective, some asked?
Well, I admit it: I have been losing my cool. During the week, I decided that it didn’t make sense for me to write about Gaza any more. I was no longer interested in sitting calmly at my desk turning out more apparently ordered sentences, purporting to run smoothly from one solid proposition to another. At times, I feel shut down by the sheer horror of it all, encased in some bitter despondency, unable properly to process the frustration.
And then, by contrast, I worry that I am going to blurt out something that I will come to regret. Maybe I did that in this column last week, floating the possibility of what I called “just terrorism”. My friend, UN spokesman Chris Gunness, broke down during an Al-Jazeera interview. He managed the words “the injustice of it all is enough to make any heart burst” before he sank sobbing into his hands, unable to say any more.
On yesterday morning, the Guardian’s leader-writing team were talking together, entirely calmly and sensibly, about the way forward: we discussed Binyamin Netanyahu’s inaction, lost opportunities for peace, the problem of attack tunnels. But my mind wandered off and the conversation became distant chatter. All this being cool about it didn’t work for me. I think of the remains of that two-year-old boy that our Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont was presented with in a plastic bag. And the kids packed into that UN school, sleeping on mattresses, expecting that a blue flag would keep them safe. My focal point wouldn’t extend past that horror. I see it up close and personal.
Funeral ceremony of Palestinian siblings killed in Israeli airstrikes
Mourners attend the funeral ceremony of siblings killed in Israeli airstrike in Gaza. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
I know that traditional journalism prides itself on maintaining a strict firewall between objective and subjective, between news and comment. The New York Times, for instance, has a separate management structure for each for precisely this reason. But isn’t this just a convenient fiction? I want the paper to write, in big bold capital letters: we hate this fucking stupid pointless war. “Reason is a slave to the passions,” as David Hume famously once put it.
I know, I know: this sort of emotion is not going to solve anything. But in the midst of unimaginable suffering, the idea of calm objectivity feels like a desperate attempt to maintain some thin veneer of civilisation protecting us from the total futility of it all. And when Netanyahu’s spokesman, Mark Regev, comes on the radio, intoning that false, calm sympathy straight out of the PR handbook, I want to scream. And the double frustration is that screaming is generally understood to be what you do when you have lost the argument. Whereas I can’t shake the feeling that, in these circumstances, screaming is the most rational thing to do.
Being calmly rational about dead children feels like a very particular form of madness. Whatever else journalistic objectivity is, it surely cannot be the elimination of human emotion. If we don’t recognise that, we are not describing the full picture.
Twitter: @giles_fraser

vrijdag 1 augustus 2014

Jewish Voice for Peace 3

Analysis

Dear Stan,
I woke up this morning to the news that the latest short-term "ceasefire" lasted all of 90 minutes. The death toll in Gaza has now passed that of Cast Lead - an exceptionally grim marker. I am nearly without words.
But I urge you to read the piece excerpted below - an absolutely searing reflection on life right now in Tel Aviv from an Israeli-Dutch couple, which also captures so perfectly much of what it was like during Cast Lead when I lived there with my family. More than anything else I've read, it captures the effects of this assault on daily life for many Israelis - a mix of fear, complacency, mob-mentality, and detachment. These are phenomena that are familiar to us no matter where we live.
And it shows how difficult it is to oppose Israeli policies from within. Which is exactly why as US Jews,it is so important for us to support those brave Israelis out on the streets protesting, and why we must stand up to our communal “leaders” who have committed themselves to supporting Israel's disastrous war on civilians. 
Please read this excerpt, or visit our website for the entire piece
. I'm convinced that if we are to end this violence, it is absolutely essential that we build a platform for voices like these. Especially as Jews, it is our responsibility to try to understand why this brutal attack has won such extensive support from both Israeli and US Jewish communities, so we may transform that sad reality. 
Please forward it widely.
Thanks for showing such commitment,
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Executive Director

From Tel Aviv: "No to hate, yes to peace." That simple message has to get a lot louder. 
What is life like in Israel today?

Facebook Twitter icon Forward

What follows is an excerpt from a public letter written by Hilla Dayan & PW Zuidhof, an Israeli-Dutch couple spending the summer in Tel Aviv with their children:
Our family landed in Tel Aviv in steamy mid-July, just when the current violence started. As a Dutch-Israeli family from Amsterdam that travels frequently to Israel we are used to being teased in calmer times about why, for our own sanity, we do not choose a real holiday destination instead of a conflict zone. ...
The witch hunt of dissenters has reached epidemic proportions, targeting many, and women especially, who dare speak their minds against theOrna Banai, Gila Almagor, Shira Gefen are famous celebrities who were vilified for speaking out; a Palestinian psychologist working for the Lod municipality and many like her got fired for what they posted on Facebook. ...
Needless to say, the government does nothing to curb the climate of violence against dissenters. Instead it incites it with reckless disregard to its potentially disastrous consequences. We do not fear to go and demonstrate, we are still able to do that with reasonable safety, but staying safe on the street is a slightly more complicated task than calculating where the nearest building entrance is in case of a siren alarm. This regime of collective fear and collective mobilization in support of the war is so intense, that our “war vacation” is starting to feel like we took the wrong flight and landed in North Korea. ...
What is entirely lost or powerful sublimated is the consequence of being implicated in and authorizing crimes against humanity. Israelis consider the war of position between Hamas and their government to be an existential war, and the conduct of their enemy, they feel, absolves them from any accountability. In their battle of survival, real and imaginary, it only makes sense to let the enemy die and verify the killing (vidu hariga). In this savage place no laws of war apply.
At times like these mom is better off here in this normal-savage place where she is from, and where she directly partakes in efforts to stop the war. For dad it is crazy to be here, where he is surrounded by supporters of war crimes, who seem superficially normal and go about their normal lives.
The kids, they just soak up the sun and enjoy themselves tremendously, their family and friends keep them happy. Their happiness and safety is comforting, but what would we say when they start asking us: mom, dad, what is war, who is doing it, and why can’t you stop it?
-Hilla Dayan & PW Zuidhof
Tel Aviv
For the full text of this remarkable narrative, click here.

Zionist Fascism 132

Jul
28
2014

Why Is Israel Attacking Gaza?

 Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel  (photo: Times of Israel)
Who murdered three Israeli teenagers? Media have largely accepted Israel's claim that it was Hamas–but little evidence has been offered to substantiate this claim.
Why is this war happening?
The conventional answer tells us that the June abduction and murders of three Israeli teenagers is the answer. This crime was carried out by Hamas, Israeli officials claim, and it led to a brutal crackdown on Hamas officials in the West Bank. Hundreds were detained, and several Palestinians died in clashes with Israeli security forces. Rocket fire from Gaza then intensified, forcing the Israelis to launch the current military assault.
But did Hamas actually kill Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar? And if there's no evidence that they did, shouldn't more journalists be pressing Israeli officials about their claims?
There seems to be agreement on the timeline. As the Washington Post(7/22/14) put it:
Israel accused Hamas of orchestrating the killing. Israeli troops cracked down hard on the militant group in the West Bank; Hamas responded by escalating rocket fire from Gaza into Israel.
Time magazine's Joe Klein (7/24/14) wrote that Hamas "was in an existential jam this spring," and their best option was simple: "Provoke Israel." He writes:
The initial provocation, the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers, was indefensible, as was a retaliatory murder of a Palestinian teen. In a moment of moral clarity, Hamas lauded its kidnappers, while a furious Netanyahu called the retaliation "reprehensible."
It is true that Hamas lauded the kidnappings, most likely as one way to strike a prisoner swap with Israel. The group did not claim responsibility for that action, though–which is precisely what one would have expected them to do.
So what is the evidence–other than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's word–that Hamas carried out these murders? A CNN report (6/15/14) noted:
A Hamas spokesman in Gaza told CNN that Netanyahu's comments attributing blame were "stupid and baseless."
"The arrest campaign made by the Israeli occupation in the West Bank is targeted to break the backbone of Hamas and bring it down, but the Israelis will not succeed in achieving their goal," Sami Abu Zuhri said.
Howard Kurtz (cc photo: David Shankbone)
Fox News' Howard Kurtz said Hamas killed the Israeli youth–then said his point was that Hamas praised their killing. Both claims were dubious. (cc photo: David Shankbone)
Fox News host Howard Kurtz (7/27/14) was, like Klein, sure about what happened: "There is no question that Hamas started the latest round of Mideast violence, first with the killing of three Israeli teenagers, and then by firing rockets indiscriminately at the Jewish state." When it was noted onTwitter that there were still no evidence that Hamas was responsible (Mediaite,7/27/14), Kurtz tweeted: "My point on the three slain Israeli teenagers is that Hamas praised killings as a heroic act." Which is, of course, not the same point at all.
(The Al-Jazeera interview in which Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal heralded the abduction of the teenagers as "a heroic act"–in the Times of Israel's paraphrase, 6/24/14–took place on June 23, a week before the discovery of the youth's bodies, so it's also inaccurate to say that Hamas praised the "killings.")
Controversy over who carried out the murders kicked into high gear recently when two reporters tweeted that Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeldhad admitted that they could not pin the crimes on Hamas. First from BBCreporter Jon Donnison:

And then Buzzfeed's Sheera Frankel:

Those posts garnered some attention–most specifically via a New Yorkmagazine post (7/25/14) that was originally headlined, "It Turns Out Hamas Didn't Kidnap and Kill the Three Israeli Teens After All." Then came some pushback in the form of a Daily Beast report (7/27/14) by Eli Lake, who got a denial from the Israeli source:
Rosenfeld said that he had told Donnison what the Israeli government had been saying all along. "The kidnapping and murder of the teens was carried out by Hamas terrorists from the Hebron area," he told the Daily Beast. "The security organizations are continuing to search for the murderers."
Donnison on Saturday said he stood by his earlier tweets.
Lake's piece does not substantiate the Israeli claims that Hamas bears responsibility. "Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay," Netanyahu famously declared after the victims' bodies were found (Washington Post,6/30/14). While the controversy over Rosenfeld's statement and subsequent walkback is interesting, it does not change the fact that linking the crime to Hamas has always been a stretch (FAIR Blog7/2/14), since the suspects were not considered to be part of any formal Hamas cells.
As Shlomi Eldar (Al-Monitor6/29/14) wrote, the suspects belong to a clan that "has a well-earned reputation as troublemakers. Not only does it tend to ignore the movement's leaders. It even acts counter to the policies being advocated by the movement."
Journalism about the current violence is bound to focus on the death and destruction in Gaza. But there remains ample space to ask whether the war was launched to punish Hamas for something it had nothing to do with.

Syria 305

Wiping Out the Christians of Syria and Iraq to Remap the Middle East: Prerequisite to a Clash of Civilizations?

Global Research, July 30, 2014


Historically, the Levant is the birthplace of Christianity and the oldest Christian communities have lived in it and the entire Fertile Crescent since the start of Christian history. Early Christian called themselves followers or people of «the Way» before they adopted the term Christian; in Arabic their antiquated name would be «Ahl Al-Deen». [1] Traces of this original name are also available in the New Testament of the Bible and can be read in John 14:5-7, Acts 9:1-2, Acts 24:4 and 14. From the Fertile Crescent these Christian communities spread across Africa, Asia, and Europe. Since that time the ancient communities of Christians, many of which still use the Syriac dialects of Aramaic in their churches, have been an integral and important part of the social fabrics of the pluralistic societies of Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and Iran. Nevertheless, the Christians of the Levant and Iraq are now in the cross-hairs.
Deceit and mischief has been at play. It is no coincidence that Egyptian Christians were attacked at the same time as the South Sudan Referendum, which was supposed to signal a split between the Muslims in Khartoum and the Christians and animists in Juba. Nor is it an accident that Iraq’s Christian, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, began to face a modern exodus, leaving their homes and ancestral homeland in Iraq in 2003. Mysterious groups targeted both them and Palestinian refugees...
Coinciding with the exodus of Iraqi Christians, which occurred under the watchful eyes of US and British military forces, the neighborhoods in Baghdad became sectarian as Shiite Muslims and Sunni Muslims were forced by violence and death squads to form sectarian enclaves. This is all tied to a US and Israeli project of redrawing the map.
The Christian communities of the Levant and Iraq have long distrusted the US government for its support of Israel, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and fanatical militants with anti-Christian leanings. Lebanon’s Christians have also been weary of US support for Israeli expansion and ideas about resettling Palestinians into Lebanon. There is also a widely held belief that the US and Israel have been involved in a policy to remove or «purge» the Christians from Iraq and the Levant in some type of Zionist-linked resettlement plan. Since the US-supported anti-government fighters started targeting Christian Syrians, there has been renewed talk about a Christian exodus in the Middle East centering on Washington’s war on Syria.
Silencing the Ancient Church Bells of Sham and Shinar
Christian Arabs and both the Assyrian and Armenian ethnic communities, which are overwhelming composed of Christian, inside Lebanon and Syria have been in the crosshairs. From Homs and Maaloula to Kessab, Syria’s Christians have been under siege. Various ecclesiastic councils or synods have expressed concerns as have Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, the Vatican or Holy See, Russian Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow Cyril (Kirill) I, Armenian Apostolic Catholicos Aram I, the Maronite Greek Catholic Patriarchate in Lebanon, Jerusalemite Greek Orthodox Archbishop Theodosios (Attallah) Hanna of Sebastia, the Anglican See of Canterbury, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, the Free Patriotic Movement of Lebanon’s Michel Aoun, the World Council of Churches, and various interfaith bodies. Even US celebrities Cherilyn Sarkisian (Cher) and Kimberly Kardashian joined the chorus and voiced their concerns about Syria’s Christians after the Turkish government perfidiously helped Al-Nusra overrun the predominately Armenian town of Kessab in Lattakia Governate on March 24, 2014. [2]
Inside Syria, Maronite Greek Catholic Archbishop of Damascus Samir Nassar, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham, Antiochian Greek Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius IV, and Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas have all condemned the violence. The leaders of Syria’s other faiths, Druze Sheikh Al-Aql Hamoud Hennawi, Sunni Grand Mufti Ahmed Badreddin, and Ashari Imam Mohammed Said Ramadan, have joined the Christian leaders in their calls for peace and condemnations of Washington’s war on Syria. These leaders have risked their lives and the lives of their loved ones by taking these positions. Sheikh Ramadan, who was also an ethnic Kurd, was murdered while he was teaching in a mosque for his backing of the Syrian government on March 21, 2013. Patriarch Ignatius IV had his brother kidnapped in Aleppo whereas Grand Mufti Hassoun had his twenty-two year-old son murdered on his way to university in Idlib. Despite the threats, all these figures have spoken against the insurgency as a cancerous threat to coexistence in Syrian society and the broader region. Melkite Patriarch Gregory III Laham has very vocally said that his country is being attacked by bandits and terrorists under the fiction of a revolution that seek to destroy the Christians and all Syria. [3]
The Christian communities of Syria, which constitute at least 10% of the Syrian population, have been systematically targeted; their churches have been attached and desecrated; their priests, monks, and nuns murdered; and generally discriminated against by the anti-government forces that the US, UK, France, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and their allies support. The objectives of establishing this exodus are reflected by the anti-government chants: «Alawites to the ground and Christians to Lebanon!» What this chant means is that Syria is no longer a place where either Alawis or Christians can live.
America’s Foot Soldiers and the Rape of Christians in Syria and Iraq
Fides News Agency, the official news agency of the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church, has reported that the so-called religious leaders of the anti-government fighters declared it lawful for the anti-government fighters to rape «any non-Sunni Syrian woman» that they desired; the declarations of these corrupt pastors have been used to justify the rape, humiliation, torture, and murder of women and girls in towns and territory captured by groups like the so-called Free Syrian Army, Jabhat Al-Nusra, and the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant/Al-Dawlah Al-Islamiyah fi Al-Iraq wa Al-Sham (ISIL/DAISH). [4]
Here is the account given to the Fides News Agency by two priests about what was done to one fifteen year-old Syrian Christian girl in Homs Governate after the anti-government fighters took control of it:
The commander of the battalion «Jabhat al-Nusra» in Qusair took Mariam, married and raped her. Then he repudiated her. The next day the young woman was forced to marry another Islamic militant. He also raped her and then repudiated her. The same trend was repeated for 15 days, and Mariam was raped by 15 different men. This psychologically destabilized her and made her insane. Mariam, became mentally unstable and was eventually killed. These atrocities are not told by any «International Commission» say to Fides two Greek-Catholic priests, Fr. Issam and Fr. Elias who have just returned to town. [5]
These same US-supported multinational insurgent groups have begun to do this to Iraqi Christians too. «On June 12, [2014,] only two day after capturing Mosul and other territories in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria issued a decree ordering the people to send their unmarried women to ‘jihad by sex’» and made a decree ordering that unmarried women sexually be offered to their fighters for fornication. [6] The following account, which was confirmed by the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights and reported by the Assyrian International News Agency, deals with Mosul after its takeover by the insurrectionary forces entering Iraq from Syria on June 25, 2014:
A Christian father who watched his wife and daughter get brutally raped by members of the militant group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) because he couldn’t pay them a poll tax in Mosul, Iraq, killed himself under the weight of the trauma this past weekend. [7]
The molestation and rape of Christian women and girls as sex objects has not been limited to Christians alone. Syrian women and girls, regardless of their faiths, that have been captured by the anti-government forces are being raped and molested. Muslims, Christians, and Druze are all equally at risk. These perverted acts are being encouraged by corrupt clerics issuing legal opinions and decrees (fatwas) that support rape and womanizing.
These twisted legal opinions and decrees being issued include calls for foreign women to become concubines to the anti-government fighters in Syria in what is disgracefully called a «sexual holy struggle» (jihad al-nikah). The Tunisian government was even prompted to react in mid-2013 to these calls for sexual offering, because they were exploiting young Tunisian girls. [8] Tunisian Minister of Religious Affairs Noureddine Al-Khadimi condemned the corrupt and ignorant clerics and individuals behind the calls, insisting that they had nothing to do with Muslim teachings:
The minister’s statements came after the spread of an anonymous «sexual jihad» fatwa on the Internet calling on young women to support opposition fighters in Syria by providing sexual services. According to media reports and mujahideen who returned to Tunisia after participating in jihad in Syria, 13 Tunisian girls headed to the battlefield in response to the «sexual jihad» fatwa. [9]
«After the sexual liaisons they have [in Syria] in the name of ‘jihad al-nikah’ — (sexual holy war, in Arabic) — [these girls] come home pregnant», Tunisian Interior Minister Lotfi bin Jeddou testified to Tunisian legislators months after Al-Khadimi’s condemnations, explaining that the misguided girls could have over a hundred partners. [10]
Targeting Bishops, Priests, Monks, and Nuns: Besieging the People of «The Way»
Since the start of the fighting, Christian spiritual figures have been targeted in one way or another. There are the cases of Greek Orthodox Archbishop Sayedna Paul (Boulos) Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Mar Gregorios John Abraham (Yohanna Ibrahim), which were kidnapped near the Turkish border, on April 22, 2013. Their driver, a Christian priest himself, was killed instantly for protecting the two Christian metropolitans by refusing to let them leave their car. A fourth person in the car, Fouad Eliya, managed to remain free (and explain what happened). [11]
The Turkish government is directly involved in the kidnapping of the two Orthodox Christian bishops. The Turkish newswire Dogan News Agency (Dogan Haber Ajansı) reported on July 23, 2013 that the murders or, using the report’s words, «assassins» of the two Syrian bishops were arrested in Konya. [12] The arrest happened to be of anti-Russian fighters from the North Caucasus, which corresponded to Foud Eliya’s account that Boulos Yazigi and Yohanna Ibrahim were taken by North Caucasian militants dressed like Taliban fighters from Afghanistan. [13]
Grand Mufti Hassoun revealed that Turkish-trained Chechen fighters were dispatched by Ankara to kidnap Sayedna Boulos Yazigi and Mar Gregorios, because of two important reasons. According to Sheikh Hassoun, the first reason is that Metropolitan Gregorios was asked by Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas to head a church committee to begin the process of reclaiming the vast holdings of the Syriac Orthodox Church that the Turkish government had confiscated during its persecution of Syriac Orthodox Christians. [14]
In a meeting between Prime Minister Erdogan and Mar Gregorios, the Turkish government asked that the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch establish a eparchy (an ecclesiastical province or administrative division of the church with a metropolitan) in Turkey and to even relocate its patriarchate from Damascus to Hatay (Antioch), but Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim refused and said that the patriarchate of the Syriac Orthodox Church will never change locations, that Syriac Orthodox Christians recognized the Levant as one unified land, and that a bishop would be assigned to Turkey when the Syriac Orthodox Church’s properties were returned by the Turkish government, which angered Turkish officials. [15] The other reason that the Orthodox Christian cleric was targeted was that he was reconciling anti-government fighters peacefully with the Syrian government in Aleppo Governate, which upset Turkey and its allies. [16]
Other cases include those of: Father (Abouna) Fadi Jamal Haddad, a Antiochian Greek Orthodox priest acting as a mediator in Qatana during the fighting, who was tortured and shot in the head after he tried to mediate the release of a doctor that was being ransomed for money; Father (Abouna) Francois Al-Mourad, a Catholic priest of the Franciscan Order, who was shot for preventing fellow Christians and Syrians from being hurt by the anti-government fighters; and Father Frans van der Lugt, a Dutch priest of the Jesuit Order working in Homs. When Abouna Fadi went to pay the insurgents for the doctor they had abducted, they kidnapped him too; they would later kill the Christian priests and leave him on the side of the highway, «horribly tortured and [with] his eyes gouged out», where his body would be found on September 25, 2012. [17]
According to the Franciscan Order’s representatives in Syria, the insurgents «broke into the convent, looted it and destroyed everything. When Fr. Franҫois tried to defend the nuns and other people, the gunmen shot him dead» on June 23, 2013. [18]
The insurgents murdered Father Frans van der Lugt on April 7, 2014.This an account of the circumstances behind his murder:
Wael Salibi, 26, recalled how when the Christian area in Homs was taken over by rebels, 66,000 of the faithful «left their home, and just few of them stayed there. He was the only priest, he stayed in his church.»
«Just months before he died, he said ‘I can’t leave my people, I can’t leave my church, I am director of this church, how can I leave them?’» Salibi told CNA on April 11.
Salibi, who hails from the now-ravished city of Homs, grew up as a close friend and pupil of Fr. Frans, who was brutally killed on April 7. Days before his 76th birthday, an unknown gunman entered his church, beat him and shot him in the head. [19]
In Hasakah (Hasce) many of the Christian Syrians fled, but almost 30,000 stayed as internal refugees. The Syrian Christians who belonged to the Chaldean Catholic Church, Syriac Orthodox Church, Syriac Catholic Church, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church, and the Armenian Catholic Church collectively asked the world for help and to put an end to the fighting, in an appeal that went unheard, in late-2012; they have suffered from persecution, lawlessness, kidnappings, ransoms, and murder. One Christian from the area told Fides News Agency that Al-Nusra was targeting «all young people who were born between 1990 and 1992. They look for them, accuse them of being soldiers for the national service and kill them cold-bloodedly. They want to terrorize young people to prevent them from enlisting.» [20]
Another example of the assault on the Christian community is Al-Nusra’s assault on the town of Maaloula. Maaloula is one of a few villages maintaining an old dialect of Aramaic, known as the language of Jesus of Nazareth. Many Christian structures and historic sites fill the Syrian town, but the Melkite Greek Catholic Saint Sergius (Mar Sarkis) Monastery and Antiochian Greek Orthodox Saint Thecla (Mar Taqla) Monastery standout. The town became the scene of fighting between Al-Nusra and the Syrian Arab Army and switched hands between the insurgents and Syrian government four times between late-2013 and mid-2014.
Many of Maaloula’s residents, both Christian and Muslim alike, became trapped in their homes and local buildings, including forty Greek Orthodox Christian nuns and the orphans they were looking after, which sparked panic in the Christian populations of Syria and Lebanon. Hence the strong backing of Bashar Al-Assad’s government by all of Syria’s minorities and the expression of these type of sentiments were nearly universal among Christian Syrians: «‘They’re coming after us,’ [said] Odette Abu Zakham, a 65-year-old woman in the congregation who lives in the nearby historic Christian district of Bab Touma. ‘All they do is massacre people, all they know is killing.’» [21] Not only were the nuns held hostage by Al-Nusra, but the anti-government fighters desecrated absolutely all of Maaloula’s shrines and Christian buildings, stole its historic artifacts to sell in the black market, and scattered the partially Aramaic-speaking population of the town. Eyewitnesses who escaped Maaloula give this account below:
[The insurgents] tried to change the religious and architectural-historical look of the ancient Christian town entirely: completely destroying some churches, the militants brought down all bells from other ones. The fate of two other world-famous monuments of Ma’loula was no less tragic: extremists blew up the statue of Christ the Savior, which had stood at the entrance of St. Thecla Convent, as well as the statue of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, which had stood close to the Safir hotel, the latter of which served as the main shelter for Takfirists for many months. [22]
Easter, in 2014 was a special time for Maaloula. Around Easter, the Syrian government regained the town. Maaloula was finally secured and residents were returning. «The display of hatred was clear — the houses are totally destroyed, the whole village was destroyed. I can’t describe the amount of damage to the village», a returning resident by the name of Lorain told the press about what the insurgents did. [23] President Al-Assad visited too. Al-Assad himself came to visit it as a sign of the Syrian government’s commitment to its entire population regardless of their faith or ethnicity. Both the Western rite and Eastern rite Christian celebrations of Easter, respectively using the Gregorian and Julian calendars, fell on the same date too: April 20, 2014.
(To be continued)
NOTES
[1] The term Christian is akin to the term Mohammedian, which was once used to describe Muslims. It was a name originally used as a derogatory term by non-Christians to identify the followers of Jesus of Nazareth and «the Way» by them, but would eventually be accepted and adopted by many of the Christians; the Arabic word «deen» means «way» and not religion as it is commonly substituted for.
[2] Pinar Tremblay, «Armenian-Americans blame Turkey for Kassab invasion, Al-Monitor, April 3, 2014.
[3] «Syria has been reduced to banditry and anarchy, says Gregory III Laham», Vatican Insider, May 4, 2012.
[4] «13 Syrian Christian Women Raped and Killed by Islamists» Pravoslavie, April 5, 2013; «Rape and atrocities on a young Christian in Qusair», Fides News Agency, July 2, 2013; Stoyan Zaimov, «Syrian Christian Mother Reveals Stories of Rape, Church Attacks in Streets of Damascus», Christian Post, October 17, 2013; Jamie Dettmer, «Syria’s Christians Flee Kidnappings, Rape, Executions», Daily Beast, November 19, 2013.
[5] «Rape and atrocities», Fides, op. cit.
[6] «ISIS in Mosul Orders Unmarried Women to ‘Jihad By Sex,’» Assyrian International News Agency, June 21, 2014.
[7] Leonardo Blair, «Christian Father Commits Suicide After ISIS Members Rape Wife and Daughter in Front of Him Because He Couldn’t Pay Poll Tax», Christian Post, June 25, 2014.
[8] Mohammed Yassin Al-Jalassi, «Tunisians Raise Alarm on Fatwa Encouraging ‘Sexual Jihad,’» Al-Monitor, March 27, 2013.
[9] Ibid.
[10] «Sex Jihad raging in Syria, claims minister», Agence France-Presse, September 20, 2013.
[11] Dikran Ego, «Turkey’s Role in the Kidnapping of the Syrian Bishops», Assyrian International News Agency, February 1, 2012.
[12] Ismail Akkaya, «Suriyeli metropolitlerin katil zanlıları Konya’da yakalandı» [«Syrian metropolitan’s alleged assassins were caught in Konya»], Dogan Haber Ajansı, July 23, 2013.
[13] Dikran Ego, «Turkey’s Role in Kidnapping», AINA, op. cit.
[14] Grand Mufti Hassoun explains this in a video released by the Stockholm-based Syriac Foundation on May 4, 2014.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Ibid.
[17] «Fr. Fadi Jamil Haddad: Priest, Trusted By All, Martyred in Syria», Pravmir.com, October 28, 2012: .
[18] «Custos of the Holy Land: Fr Franҫois Mourad killed by Islamist insurgents in al-Ghassaniyah», AsiaNews.it, June 25, 2013: .
[19] Elise Harris, «‘I can’t leave my people’: Priest killed in Syria hailed as martyr», Catholic News Agency, April 15, 2014.
[20] «Appeal from the people of Mesopotamia, left to themselves», Fides News Agency, January 17, 2013.
[21] Lee Keath, «Seizure of nuns stokes Syrian Christian fears», Associated Press, December 8, 2013.
[22] «All Shrines of Ma’loula Either Destroyed or Desecrated», Pravoslavie, January 13, 2014.
[23] Firas Makdesi, «Syria’s Assad pays Easter visit to recaptured Christian town», Reuters, April 20, 2014.