Link – Yarmouk – Played


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The Islamic State’s recent conquest of Yarmouk—a once thriving Palestinian suburb with the formal status of a refugee camp that lies on the outskirts of Damascus—provides far more than just insight into which aspects of the Palestinian plight get editorial privilege and which do not. Since the strangulation of Yarmouk began in 2012, the fate of its people has offered a bald reminder that within the Arab world, Palestinians still encounter an ambivalence that can spill into open contempt. Just as instructive, and certainly more novel, is the realization that the global Palestinian solidarity movement, by not holding mass demonstrations highlighting the slaughter and starvation in Yarmouk, has become complicit with the dictator Bashar al-Assad and the beheaders of IS.

Cohen, Ben.  “Yarmouk and the Failure of Palestine Solidarity.”  The Tower, Issue 26, May 2015.

Related on BackChannels:

I am an Arab Canadian, an organizer of small 2006 Gaza/Lebanon protests, and I am concerned on the rise of antisemitism.

The massive Gaza protests this year, organized by the Workers World Party, were about promoting antisemitism rather than concern for Palestinians. These protests excluded Arab voices so they could be free to demonize Israel. Worldwide, almost each time Syrian Palestinians brought a Free Syrian flag to protests, they were met with harassment, and, in some cases, violence. As one Palestinian woman from the Yarmouk Ghetto of Syria said, “We have been used.” – by Maria Al-Masani – 10/21/2014.

The truth, however, is Israelis have been quietly giving food to Jordan-based Syrian refugees while Jordan continues to strand them in the desert. While Hezbollah has been beating and even lynching Syrian Palestinians, the Lebanese army bombed refugee tents. Yet, Israel has, in the meantime, been medically treating and saving the lives of Syrians in Israeli hospitals assembled at the Syrian border. The Holocaust Museum hosted the photos of Cesar on the Syrian concentration camps. When the whole world abandoned Syrian Palestinians, Israel was there for them and Turkey took in millions of refugees. Even the Canadian opposition leader, Thomas Mulcair, referred to Assad as a genocidal maniac, but “Save Gaza” activists were silent. – by Maria Al-Masani – 10/22/2014.

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Link – Iraqi Theater – Iranian Disinformation


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The idea that the United States is effectively arming the Islamic State is a popular rumor, particularly on Iranian State-run media, but the extent of individuals who believe that mistruth reaches to the highest echelons of Iranian society, according to Crytzer.

“The Iranian Quds Force commander absolutely believes we’re supplying Daesh,” Crytzer told Defense One. “He’s not trying to play on it. He actively believes it.”.

Tucker, Patrick.  “US Helicopter Shot at By Anti-ISIS Forces; Commander Blames Iran.”  Defense One, May 19, 2015.

Disinformation suits the feudal/medieval mode and its concentration of power and wealth in a very few “malignars” (malignant narcissists) devoted primarily to their own absolute power and breathtaking aggrandizement.

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Link – Ramadi – The Way It Looks


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It’s obvious that the US did the bare minimum in the fight for Ramadi. The list of targets destroyed by American air strikes reads like satire or gallows humor.

“Near Ramadi, seven airstrikes struck one large and five small ISIL tactical units and an ISIL IED facility, destroying four ISIL resupply structures, three ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL buildings, two ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL VBIED and an ISIL motorcycle.”

No artillery positions were struck, even though they ringed the city. None of the ten trundling Islamic State armored bulldozers were struck. No waves of Islamic State assault infantry were struck. My guess is that President Obama wants to simply run out the clock and leave this mess to his successor. He’s pretending to help, but our contribution is often worthless.

Wictor, Thomas.  “Without Resolve, All is Lost”.  Thomas Wictor, May 18, 2015.

“Anybody who supported the government will probably be executed within the next 24 hours,” said Baer. “Their families will be driven out. It will be a bloodbath over the next couple of days. All the soldiers who were captured will be executed.”

A flood of residents has been pouring out of Ramadi toward safer parts of Anbar and Baghdad in recent days.

“We are witnessing a humanitarian crisis,” said Haimour, estimating that as many as 8,000 people had left the city Sunday.

Mullen, Jethro.  “ISIS seizes key Iraqi city of Ramadi: What happens next?”  CNN, May 18, 2015.

Related, same day: Hoft, Jim.  “ISIS Holds Massive Military Parade in West Anbar Celebrating Victory in Ramadi . . . (Where’s the Coalition?).  Gateway Pundit, May 18, 2015.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday he was “absolutely confident” that the situation could be reversed within days.

Merthi, Karim Abou.  “Iraq forces eye swift Ramadi fightback before IS digs in.”  Yahoo News, May 19, 2015.

The way it looks for Ramadi, Sunnis, and Shiites in Iraq is not good.

The additional forces summoned by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi: Hashed al-Shaabi, Shiite “popular mobilization” units with a reputation for deeply seated Sunni-directed animus.  Merthi’s piece in Yahoo goes on to note, “Abadi and Washington had hoped to rely on regular forces and locally recruited Sunni tribal fighters newly incorporated into the Hashed al-Shaabi to fight IS in Anbar.”

In light of de facto black-and-white divisions in perception — for some (to many) in some spaces, one is either a this or a that, choose a label, and not to be noted for the better qualities of one’s more essential humanity — political habits may pit “all against all” (and some simply spoil for the Great Shiite vs Sunni War) when and where “all for all” is essential to forestall the march of the tyrannical.

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Link – Arab Anti-Semitism – Dismissing an Old Zeitgeist



Despite anything that is said to the contrary, there is no such thing as a pro-Palestinian movement, not at the United Nations, not on university campuses, not among “pro-Palestinian” demonstrators, not among world politicians, and not even in the highly “pro-Palestinian” Israeli extreme left. There is only an anti-Israel movement, born from antisemitism, and nurtured by idiocy and ignorance.

Maroun, Fred.  “the pro-Palestinian activists are not pro-Palestinian.”  Blog: An Arab Canadian’s Reflections on Israel, The Jerusalem Post, May 17, 2015.

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Link – Anti-Semitism in Europe – Analysis



And yet, while there is not a ‘wave’ of anti-Semitism and terrible things have occurred before, and while it is not a matter of centralised political mobilisation or state policy anywhere in Europe, the current upsurge of attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions and the deepening antagonisms directed from specific segments of European society are seriously worrying. The cumulative danger, stress, and burden of self-protection threaten lives and communities and also undermines liberal society.

Waltzer, Kenneth.  “Reflection on Contemporary Anti-Semitism in Europe.”  P. 3. Fathom, Insight / No. 1, 2015 (PDF)

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Taiz, Yemen – Fighting, Pleading, Fighting



Meanwhile, the three-days of talks on Yemen’s future saw hundreds of politicians and tribal leaders gather in the Saudi capital. The meeting was boycotted by the rebels and their Iranian backers voiced objections to the venue of the talks.

Western countries accuse Shiite power Iran of backing the Houthi rebels, something the Islamic Republic and the rebels deny. The absence of the Houthis at the conference in Riyadh, which is to end Tuesday, means the dialogue is unlikely to end the violence.

AP.  “After truce, Saudi-led coalition resumes airstrikes in Yemen.”  Boston, May 18, 2015.


Reuters. “At least 10 killed in overnight fighting in Yemen’s Taiz.”  May 17, 2015.

Posted to YouTube May 17, 2015.

Maria al-Masani: “I am a woman from Taiz, please save my family and loved ones, let the world know about the Houthi genocide of South and Middle Yemen and share this video.”

News24 – Posted to YouTube May 17, 2015.

Link rot inside of hours — the same footage may be seen by searching up “Taiz Battle: Heavy fighting erupts in Yemen streets”, and it should be found on RT’s YouTube channel.  Date of that posting: April 26, 2015.  :(

Update – 5/18/2015/1330 EDT

Al-Haj.  Ahmed.  “Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen resume after truce expires.”  Houston Chronicle, May 18, 2015.

As suggested by the now blank “News24″ patch in this post, even “newsies” appear to lift material and label it new.  BackChannels avoids doing that but until “vetted trusted direct sources” feed up authentic reportage, the view from journalism’s “second row seat to history” may be skewed by what appears and can be accessed in open source online.

Update – 5/19/2015/1251 EDT

SANAA, Yemen — The Saudi-led coalition carried out the heaviest airstrikes near the Yemeni capital since the expiration of a five-day truce with Yemen’s Shiite rebels, hitting weapons depots in the mountains surrounding Sanaa and shaking several residential areas on Tuesday.

The bombardment began shortly after midnight Monday, with airstrikes targeting rebel-held military depots in the mountains of Fag Atan and Noqom, where missiles, tanks and artillery are kept, the residents said.

Al-Haj, Ahmed.  “Saudi-led coalition carries out some of the heaviest airstrikes on Yemeni capital after truce.”  Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 19, 2015.

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If Doomed to Remember What the Pope Said About the PLO Leader


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"Guido Reni 031" by Guido Reni - The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

“Guido Reni 031″ by Guido Reni – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

The scribes have only described the medallion — “an angel of peace destroying the spirit of war.”

I should have liked to have been treated to a photograph, for I do wonder how the “angel of peace” and the “spirit of war” look drawn, engraved, or stamped on that most precious of political keepsakes that is now an object of interest worldwide.

For working with the idea, the convenient web readily coughs up images (and artisanal medallions) featuring St. Michael slaying a dragon (you-know-who).

Close enough?

Bolded letters added by BackChannels.

“As is tradition with heads of State or of government, Francis presented presented a gift to the Palestinian leader, commenting: “May the angel of peace destroy the evil spirit of war. I thought of you: may you be an angel of peace.” Pope Francis had called Abu Mazen a “man of peace” when he visited Bethlehem in May 2014, just as he called the then Israeli Prime Minister, Shimon Peres, a “man of peace” during his subsequent visit to Jerusalem.”

Aye, that is as “Brian o’ London” transcribes it into his piece in Israellycool (May 17, 2015).


The problem: the pope did not call Abbas — aka the terrorist Abu Mazen — an “angel of peace.”

He did utter the words “angel of peace,” and he suggested that Abbas could or might be one. In the context of the pope’s complete statement about the meeting, the implication was that Abbas could be an angel of peace if he resumed direct negotiations with Israel.

Dyer, J. E.  “MSM fail: Pope did NOT call Mahmoud Abbas an ‘angel of peace': UPDATE, with double-down.”  Liberty Unyielding, May 16, 2015.

Related: JTA.  “Pope Francis presents Abbas peace medallion at Vatican.”  May 17, 2015.

Unfortunately, the press screeches with AP parrots, and readers will find equivalents to this everywhere:

AP.  “Pope Francis calls Palestinian leader an ‘angel of peace'”.  New York Post, May 17, 2015.

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Link – Among those In the Endless Lists – Pakistan’s Ismaili Community

It was left to one of the wounded to drive the pink community bus full of the dead and dying to the nearest hospital.

Ismaelis are an international community of Muslims who, like other Shia, revere the Prophet Mohammed’s son-in-law Ali but also the Imam Ismaeli, and ­believe in a more allegorical, mystical interpretation of the Koran.

Muslims of all sects benefit from the philanthropy of their spiritual leader, the Aga Khan, whose charitable foundations ­finance schools, hospitals and the revival of classical Islamic culture and architecture throughout the Muslim world.

Hodge, Amanda.  “Ismaeli community in Pakistan mourns: For whom does bell toll?” The Australian, May 16, 2015.

Four days ago: – “Pakistan gunmen kill 45 on Karachi Ismaili bus.”

Three days ago: – “Pakistan at turning point on terror?” — “Extremists have a modus operandi: They destroy any and every evidence of pluralism, tolerance, and openness — which is why they focus on minorities, history, and scholarship, saving a special ire for Muslims who disagree. In Karachi, they targeted a group of Muslims — Ismaili Shia — who played a critical role in Pakistan’s formation. Don’t think that wasn’t deliberate.”  (Op-ed by Haroon Mohgul).

Two days ago:

Pakistani police say they have arrested 145 people over an attack on a bus carrying Ismaili Shia Muslims that killed at least 45 in Karachi.

Those arrested are thought to include 90 students from a madrassa, or religious school.


Sources further said it is expected that investigators will evaluate evidence regarding the connection of Indian spy agency ‘RAW’ in the attack.

There was no intelligence report present of such an attack, sources added.

With reference to Geo’s non-reporting reportage: Huh?


The terrorists did not attack and fire randomly. They put in single bullets to the head — a hallmark of executions — as if the murder was in response to a conviction, a crime. And these enemies of the state made it clear that in their eyes our Ismaili brethren, among others, are guilty by virtue of their faith. Op-ed in The Sunday News section of the The International News by Waqqas Mir.

Waqqas Mir, a lawyer, goes on in his condensed and lucid opinion to note the following:

No number of laws could have saved those 43 Pakistanis who died on that bus. No number of military courts will deter such murderous violence. But effective state action, driven by the political will to counter religious bigotry at its inception could have gone a long way. Groups like the ISIS and their partners are out to destroy our states as they exist. And the state must overcome its shortcomings. Religion is a constantly available sledgehammer that everyone can use in this country. Despite repeated failure, the state has been apologetic about coming up with a pluralist discourse. It is high time that this changes.

Pakistan is a country of ghosts. They are everywhere, the victims and the perpetrators both. On Wednesday morning, six gunmen wearing police uniforms stopped an Al Azhar Garden bus carrying 60 Ismaili Muslims in Karachi. The bus picked up Ismailies from the housing society dedicated to their community on the outskirts of the city and drove them to work. It was a journey the passengers made every day.

The gunmen boarded the bus. Sub ko mar dalo, one of them is reported to have said. Kill them all. By the time the gunmen got back on their motorcycles and fled, they had murdered 43 people.

Bhutto, Fatima.  “‘In Pakistan, anyone and everyone can be a target'”.  The Hindu, May 15, 2015.

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