FTAC: A Little Wisdom: On Virtue


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Inspiration for the response:

Since there is good and evil in all of us, may God grant us the compassion and wisdom to see the good and not the evil.


“Since there is good and evil in all of us, may God grant us the compassion and wisdom to know the good and do it and not the evil.”

Language: such statements may be about our capacity for the doing of good and evil, and what may be most important, day by day, decision by decision, is that we do good and care to lean toward what is good.

The Persian Faravahar has come to my mind as symbolic of both the tension between good and evil and the taking of the direction of the good.


Image File Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Faravahar-Gold.svg

The awesome conversation has been working around the issue of virtue in other threads.  BackChannels’ own political virtues have long been posted near the top of the left sidebar: Compassion, Empathy, Justice, Humility, Inclusion, Integrity.

In Wikipedia, one may find listed the “Cardinal Virtues“: “Prudence, Temperance, Courage, Justice”.

Of course, there are other characterizations of what is good, but all may be reduced to {normative values x context / intentions} and good intentions further reduce to loving consideration and thoughtfulness.  Hillel the Elder distilled all of that into one golden expression:

“That which is distasteful to thee do not do to another.”

Barbaric cultures of cruelty complicate our lives as do the insatiable needs of the malign narcissists who set their lowest standards and tones, but even within those one hopes the good will continue striving to be so.

On goodness, never give up.



FTAC – Middle East Conflict (MEC) – The Big Wrap


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In the bridge between the medieval and modern eras, Germany’s Luther had at least opened the coffin’s lid:

“Luther’s influence was not decisive, and certainly not neutral, but ambivalent. So, for example, his writings communicated a generalized distrust, describing Jews as thieves in his preface to the 1528 edition of the influential 15th-century handbook for policing vagrants, the Liber vagatorum. This “evolved into a powerful and all-embracing stereotype—‘that of the Jews as a people of thieves and robbers extraordinaire,’” except that Luther by no means propagated this message alone.”


We shouldn’t be writing with crayons, but on the web where ideas move quickly in these small tiles, broad statements and telegraphing are what we do.

The intellectual history of modern “Jew hate” appears to move from Russia (with the “Protocols”) via White Russian emigre fleeing the Bolshevik Revolution; at the end of WWII, the Soviet Union was in position to amplify and leverage anti-Semitic sentiment in the middle east into political influence and power.


The Arab World could not have hated the Jews quite so much prior to WWII and Nazi and later Soviet influence for it’s states sustained a population of (that well-known figure) 800,000 Jews and their businesses and synagogues. There’s certainly a minority experience contained in the memory of that population, but that it was there and working tells us that the politics of the World War and its immediate aftermath set the stage both for the birth of Israel and the Arab expulsion of the Jews.

IF the Kingdom represents today’s Arab world, it is heavily invested in western success through Kingdom Holdings. It has taken small steps toward updating its culture (I have yet another blog piece standing signal to that), and it has taken interest in developing technology requiring the western interface. Nonetheless, the narcissistic medieval worldview needs must prevail for the time being, and cultural inertia continues to leverage anti-Semitism. (just a little more).

Rival Iran — Moscow / Moscow-Tehran — challenges the liberalism of the west with “absolute power” — the rule of the emperor or king for his own desired ends and with sufficient contempt and cruelty to enforce a malign will. One may consider the destruction of Syria by a tyrannical Assad as flanked by Putin and Khamenei merely a demonstration of the “principle” of absolute ownership of an entire people.

In 2011, Barack Obama offered President Putin a gambit: lean west — and Putin rejected the role of tempering Assad and instead embraced the KGB past — that which groomed Arafat and approved Abbas — and here we are. By focusing on ISIS and some on Tehran while “working with Russia”, we avoid a fast disaster.

For the Palestinians, all of the above involving Russia’s historic influence, has been a disaster, and this view — I don’t think I’m the only one propagating it — may be reaching the Arab World on the “Anglo and western axis”. The other channels and manipulates and incites along medieval lines that it means to sustain, and it wants the wars of all against all that lend it glory.

An earlier post noted social media’s unsuitability for “long copy”.

In “Life Online”, readers much prefer epigrammatic statements and slogans to digested narratives or overviews — we want to get the message quickly and then get back to the next social moment or breaking news.

I’ve tried with BackChannels to find a place between the scholarly tract and the lay observation with hope that other journalists — more powerful — and some in the generally interested public would pick up on the blog’s themes.

Of course, I place some faith and hope in each post at the moment it’s published, and often that is all a writer may do.


Also in Media: “Can Ayaan Hirsi Ali Liberate Islam from Islamism?” | by Andrew Harrod | Religious Freedom Coalition | July 20, 2017


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“Dawa is to the Islamists of today what the ‘long march through the institutions’ was to twentieth-century Marxists,” writes Ayaan Hirsi Ali in her latest monograph, The Challenge of Dawa:  Political Islam as Ideology and Movement and How to Counter It.  In it the Somali-born political activist accurately analyzes the threat of, and necessary response to, Islam’s faith-based political ideology, yet the feasibility of her desire to reform this “Islamism” out of Islam is questionable.

Analyzing dawa’s call to Islam, Ali calls for a “paradigm shift that recognizes how violent jihad is intertwined with the ideological infrastructure of dawa,” the “subversive, indoctrinating precursor to jihad.”  Reflecting a commonplace myopic focus on jihadists, President George W. Bush “often referred to a ‘war on terror,’ but terror is a tactic that can be used for a variety of ideological objectives.”  Accordingly, “nonviolent and violent Islamists differ only on tactics; they share the same goal, which is to establish an unfree society ruled by strict sharia law.”

Source: Can Ayaan Hirsi Ali Liberate Islam from Islamism?


FTAC: On Governance and Realpolitik


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Okay — we know how smooth politics are with 300 million Americans — you design the system for 1.4 billion Chinese. 🙂

Possibly, Russia’s answer and part of the seduction of the EU / NATO states may be to protect the power of financial and political elites against the demands of great populations with needs to match.  Why not sew it all up with friends in the nomenklatura?

When the west demurred from engagement in Iran’s 2009 attempted revolution, I don’t know whether the decision was to buy time for Russia to run itself down or to capitulate to governments representing kleptocratic dictatorships. Instead of making the world safe for democracy (these days), we may be preparing it for governance by powerful and wealthy elites who think little of the liberties, lives, and happiness of others (who exist to serve them).


Module: Moscow and the Middle East Conflict


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The story begins in the feudal mode with medieval anti-Semitism.






The story may end with the Palestinian’s own recovery of integrity. 


19th Century Russian Anti-Semitic Obsession –> Developing Nazi Germany –> Middle East –> Development of Yasser Arafat | Development of an Orwellian Political Method | Encouragement of Left / Far Left Peace and Sunshine Organizations | Masking off the Violence (Political Repression) Applied to the Defense of Privileged Elites (from Czar to Party to Putin).

Organizations representing the Cultural Left appear to have split the scene with Moscow (man) each time Soviet tanks appeared in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and elsewhere.

If what the Soviet was selling was so good . . . why the intimidation and force?

The Soviet Union dissolved itself in history more than 25-1/2 years ago (Dec. 25, 1991).  However, in the course of Putin’s tenure, Moscow has continued to meet with Hamas and PFLP leadership and through war — direct, hybrid, or by proxy — continued to battle western integrity and liberal democracy in Syria and Ukraine — and if connected through cooperation with Tehran, than Yemen also.

How are things going for the Phantoms of the Soviet?

Have a look at Syria (start with Homs).

Have a look at Moscow’s financials.

Orwellian Politics and Palestinian Suffering

George Orwell’s Animal Farm turns out the template for how corrupt power manages (with totalitarian methods) “the masses” (AKA “the street”, “The People”) for its own aggrandizement and enrichment.

In politics, disinformation poisons cultures, and here it may be suggested that what the Soviets, the PLO, and Hamas have accomplished is neither the creation nor preservation of Palestinian anything but rather the destruction and impoverishment of Gaza City and Ramallah while growing their respective systems of patronage on skimmed funding and a host of shady enterprises.

Of course, after 70 years of cultural and political separation from the Arab world by way of the camps, which are now small cities, and by way of apartheid Arab social policy — that which set up the Yarmouk Camp in Syria for devastation by the Arab and Muslim forces of Syria and ISIS — the refugees of 1948, much abused by the Arab world itself, may now be truly a “Palestinian People” in need of detoxification from Soviet Era disinformation and manipulation and an Arab people nonetheless apart from the Arab politics that has so abused their existence.

Today, “The Occupation” may be better stated as “The Preoccupation with the Jews”.

The principle misnomer — and misguidance — needs a complete and permanent deconstruction.

BackChannels has previously commented on the Boycott Divestitures and Sanctions (BDS) Movement — https://conflict-backchannels.com/2016/03/08/bds-cult-modules/ — and what it senses to be the Palestinian main base:  https://conflict-backchannels.com/2016/09/23/ftac-these-too-are-palestinians/ .



FTAC: Anti-Semitism: On the Left Sidebar’s Earliest Statement


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“Caution: The possession of anti-Semitic / anti-Zionist thought may be the measure of the owner’s own enslavement to criminal and medieval absolute power.”

The statement appears with many others down the left sidebar:


The greater contest associated with anti-Semitism may be that between feudal power supported by the medieval worldview — power descends directly from God to some benighted human — and the modern image of our glorious and variegated humanity. Those that recognize that God, nature, and the universe have produced and sustained for us at this time about 7,000 living language cultures, each of them addressing their environmental and social challenges differently, should not be able to remain with or return to an inflexible absolutism. 

The supremacist values — out of any people anywhere at any time — defy nature and human nature, and where they’re forced to work — because it takes force to get them to work — people suffer . . . and it could be said that everyone suffers.

Indulgence in anti-Semitic cant may be a good signal of having chosen to march one’s people backward in time.


Also in Media: On the Koch Brothers


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Oddly enough, the fiercely capitalist Koch family owes part of its fortune to Joseph Stalin. Fred Koch was the son of a Dutch printer who settled in Texas and ran a weekly newspaper. Fred attended M.I.T., where he earned a degree in chemical engineering. In 1927, he invented a more efficient process for converting oil into gasoline, but, according to family lore, America’s major oil companies regarded him as a threat and shut him out of the industry. Unable to succeed at home, Koch found work in the Soviet Union. In the nineteen-thirties, his company trained Bolshevik engineers and helped Stalin’s regime set up fifteen modern oil refineries. Over time, however, Stalin brutally purged several of Koch’s Soviet colleagues. Koch was deeply affected by the experience, and regretted his collaboration. He returned to the U.S. In the headquarters of his company, Rock Island Oil & Refining, in Wichita, he kept photographs aimed at proving that some of those Soviet refineries had been destroyed in the Second World War. Gus diZerega, a former friend of Charles Koch, recalled, “As the Soviets became a stronger military power, Fred felt a certain amount of guilt at having helped build them up. I think it bothered him a lot.”

In 1958, Fred Koch became one of the original members of the John Birch Society, the arch-conservative group known, in part, for a highly skeptical view of governance and for spreading fears of a Communist takeover . . . .


At a time when Americans are watching with some horror contests between the Trump Administration and responsible mainstream media, also between the Trump Administration and Congress, also between the Trump Administration and America’s ill and vulnerable, and, finally, between (not the Trump Administration) absurdly polarized American political parties, the Koch Brothers as cultural philanthropists and political activators seem ever an indirect part of the American experience.

Since reading a Mother Jones piece on the brothers, BackChannels has been compiling Koch Brothers articles without comment, but may here share the list and let that suffice for the time being.

Note: where date of publication appears embedded in the article URL, BackChannels will not repeat it in listing.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/05/koch-brothers-family-history-sons-of-wichita – 5/20/2014.



http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Column-One-The-Koch-Brothers-meet-the-crackpots-454481 – 5/19/2016

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/behind-make-america-great-the-koch-agenda-returns-with-a-vengeance – 11/21/2016.

















Also in Media: “How to save Gaza: Palestinian American says it’s time to stop blaming Israel” | by Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib | Jewish Journal | July 12, 2017


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Now, as an American citizen living in San Francisco, I can write about my experiences and perspectives in ways that many in Gaza cannot, fearing only that my parents, siblings and other family members who remain there are not held responsible for my opinions. My folks are sometimes jealous of my ability to speak my mind and remind me frequently to consider the implications for them of what I say.

While Israel continues to play a significant role in Gaza’s affairs, the grim anniversary of the Hamas takeover warrants focusing less on Israel than the role that Palestinian political organizations have played in worsening the misery for Gaza’s more than 2 million residents. And that has led me to conclude that the United Nations, for all its problems and the hate it incurs by Israelis, is perhaps Gazans’ best hope for progress.

Read the Whole Thing: How to save Gaza: Palestinian American says it’s time to stop blaming Israel – 7/12/2017.

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