TOON OF THE DAY ~~ 3 EASY WAYS TO ESCALATE TENSION IN JERUSALEM

Image by Carlos Latuff

Want to know what Netanyahu is thinking?

‘The metal detectors are just the first step’: Palestinians say Israeli takeover of Al Aqsa is red line that can’t be crossed

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East Jerusalem, occupied West Bank — “You have four minutes to leave,” the Israeli police officer yelled aggressively through the megaphone.

The peaceful atmosphere drastically shifted into one of panic within seconds. Girls who were standing on the ledge scrambled to get down to leave, some tripping and falling down over others.

Last Sunday hundreds of Palestinians had lined up in rows inside the Old City’s walls by Lion’s Gate waiting for the late evening prayer. In the hour prior to the beginning of prayer, they occasionally chanted in support of Al Aqsa and the Sheikh delivered his sermon. It was a calm atmosphere where even the officers themselves were standing with relaxed postures, perhaps bored.

However, about ten minutes before the start of the late evening prayer, the mood dramatically changed when the group of officers suddenly straightened their positions and all lowered their visors at the same time.

Once the officer started shouting through the megaphone, panicked voices were heard in the crowd. Some Palestinians started to make their way towards the exit.

Suddenly explosions were heard, causing a stampede towards the exit, but the passageway was too narrow for such a large crowd. A sense of panic and fear ensued as people ran for cover, screaming.

Only a minute had passed from the four-minute deadline, but the officers had already thrown stun grenades and tear gas into the crowd who had been sitting on the ground, waiting to pray. Those who couldn’t make it towards the exit, sought protection behind stone pillars.

This was a typical scene from the Palestinians’ non-violent prayer protests against the Israeli military takeover of Al Aqsa that has so far resulted in the deaths of four Palestinians and over 900 injured within a week.

Palestinians remain alarmed over Israel’s latest unilateral decision to install metal detectors, security cameras, and turnstiles at all the gates leading to the Al Aqsa compound; they see it as an attempt by Israel to change the status quo and eventually gain complete control over Al Aqsa.

Located in occupied East Jerusalem, the Al Aqsa compound, also known as Haram Al Sharif for Muslims and Temple Mount for Jews, is administered by the Jordanian Islamic Waqf. Under a 150-year agreement, only Muslims can pray at the site, while non-Muslims can visit. According to leading rabbis, it is forbidden for any Jew to enter any part of Al Aqsa.

Up until now, Palestinian guards have controlled the entrances to Al Aqsa and who may enter without any metal detectors and security cameras in place.

Palestinians say they’ll continue praying outside of Al Aqsa’s gates in protest until the security measures are removed. Installing them unilaterally without consulting the Islamic Waqf is seen as a way for the Israeli authorities to assert their dominance and control over the site.

Israeli security set up the metal detectors and security cameras after three Palestinians and two Israeli officers were killed in a gun battle at the Al Aqsa Compound on July 14.

“This is just the first step. If we accept these metal detectors it will get even worse. The next step will be to stop people who want to pray from even reaching the Al Aqsa mosque,” Khatija Khiews said, who has been praying outside of Al Aqsa everyday in protest.

“The issue is the occupation itself. The solution is to remove the occupation. It’s the only answer to all of our problems.

“These metal detectors were installed at every gate and we don’t accept to be searched in order to go pray at Al Aqsa. Even if we do go through the metal detectors, we won’t accept to get searched by the police. They shouldn’t even be there,” Khiews said.

Speaking to Mondoweiss from Friday’s prayer at Lion’s Gate, Sheikh Mustafa Tawil fears the latest measure will lead to partitioning the Al Aqsa mosque just like with Hebron’s Ibrahimi mosque in 1994.

“Muslims aren’t allowed to pray at the Ibrahimi mosque on Israeli weekends and holidays. The occupiers want to do the same thing to Al Aqsa mosque,” Tawil said.

“We refuse these gates because they were set up by the occupiers to force their control over the mosque. We refuse the Israelis’ sovereignty over the mosque at all. The metal detectors are just the first step in dividing Al Aqsa mosque.”

Jerusalem’s Old City has already started to resemble Hebron’s military ghost town. Many stores remain closed while groups of fully armed officers are positioned at every corner and open space and have barricaded many alleys.

Unraveling of negotiations by Israel

The negotiations reached in 2014 between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and King Abdullah of Jordan in order to maintain peace at the holy site have been unraveling in the past year, especially in the last month, largely due to a “change of policy on the Israeli side,” according to Ofer Zalzberg, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group.

Among the points agreed upon was to bar all Knesset members from entering the site, to limit entrance for religious Jewish groups and to ban provocative Temple activists and to refrain from imposing age-based restrictions for Palestinian Muslims.

However Israel hasn’t adhered to its commitments.

The prayer ban has been relatively lax following the nomination of the new head of the police’s Jerusalem district Yoram Halevy in January 2016. Since then he has changed the police’s conduct towards Temple activists who seek to change the status quo, Zalzberg explained.

On June 29 when Halevy joined Temple activists visiting the site “he received the priestly benediction from an activist in the group.”

Halevy, a senior official in charge of preserving the ban on non-Muslim worship, “in accordance with a more than 150-year old arrangement” participated in the worship, Zalzberg wrote.

In the last month, police have also imposed age restrictions for Muslims twice in order to protect large groups of Temple activists visiting on those days.

Since the attack, MKs called for closing the Al Aqsa compound for Muslims, threatenedwith creating a third “nakba” and to build a synagogue on Al Aqsa compound. Likud, Israel’s ruling party launched a petition to raise the Israeli flag over the Al Aqsa compound.

The rise of Temple movements

Once a radical fringe group in politics and religion, since 2000 Temple movements have gained a respectable position within the mainstream right and benefit from close ties with the State of Israel.

The ultimate goal for Temple activists is to eventually destroy the Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock to build the Jewish “Third Temple.” The Temple Institute has a blueprintfor its construction ready.

According to a 2013 report by Israeli research organization Ir Amim, “The movements’ growing momentum and dangerous provocations to change the status quo are not receiving adequate attention, nor is the disturbing connection between these movements and official Israeli institutions.”

The State of Israel directly funds various Temple movement activities. Along with funding Temple organizations, the Ministry of Education disseminates their ideas through the educational system.

“There is a correlation between the escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif and around it since 2000 and a parallel increase in the activity of Temple organizations,” the report noted.

The current tension could further spike as the ban preventing members of the Knesset from accessing the Al Aqsa compound were lifted on July 23 for a five day trial period in order to test the reaction.

The ban has been in place since October 2015, with the assumption that visits by MKs might spark violence. In 2000, when Likud leader Ariel Sharon visited the holy site accompanied by a 1000 police officers, it helped trigger the second intifada.

Likud MK Yehudah Glick, a leading figure in the Temple movement overturned the ban after petitioning to the High Court. Earlier this month he called for all MKs to ascend to the Temple Mount.

The rise in Temple movements’ prominence has been accompanied with an increase in violent Israeli incursions at Al Aqsa, including detaining and attacking the Al Aqsa guards.

Al Aqsa Compound director Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani stated to media that over 700 settlers, “an unprecedented amount” raided the compound for Jerusalem Day last May.

Every year Israel’s far-right settlers parade through Palestinian neighbourhoods, celebrating Israel’s conquest of East Jerusalem in 1967. The settlers call out for the Al Aqsa compound to be destroyed and shout “Mohammad is dead,” “Death to the Arabs” and other statements calling for genocide of Palestinians.

This past April, Jews from the far-right also held a ceremony near Temple Mount for the first time, where they slaughtered a lamb just a few hundred metres away from the mount.

Shimshon Elboi, active in the Temple Mount movement, was quoted in Haaretz saying, “We were privileged to get near the Temple Mount, the proper place. The authorities today are more open and the public is more open.

“Ultimately the government wants to serve the people, and the people want the Temple; the people want to offer sacrifices. At this rate the day isn’t far off – just a few more years – when we’ll be privileged to do sacrifices on the Temple Mount itself,” Elboi said.

Having historic Palestine reduced to the Gaza Strip and bantustans in the West Bank, Palestinians see the military takeover of Al Aqsa as a red line that can’t be crossed.

“This is our mosque and the occupation has to retreat so we can pray five times again in the mosque,” Sheikh Tawil said.

“We are going to keep praying by the gates of the masjid, until they remove the humiliating electronic gates.

“The world should pressure the occupation politically and economically and besiege the occupation until it listens to the UN resolutions and withdraws to the 1967 borders. The world shouldn’t abandon the Palestinians while watching them get killed, arrested, beaten, humiliated for 50 years until now.”

IN PHOTOS ~~ SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINIANS ON THE TEMPLE MOUNT

With the increasing intensity of conflict at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Zionist state and the deaths of three Palestinians the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) of New Jersey  called for a protest street demonstration at the cross roads of the world: New York City’s Times Square.

Here where hundreds and hundreds  of people pass  every hour about five hundred people took to the street to shout their anger and demand a free Palestine. Older people and younger ones, mothers with their children in strollers carried the Palestinian colors.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer, Report by Chippy Dee

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THE TEMPLE MOUNT ~~ ISRAEL’S MIGHT, BUT NOT ITS RIGHT

The claim that the Haram al-Sharif belongs to Israel has as much legitimacy as a rapist’s claim that the body of his victim belongs to him.

Image by Carlos Latuff

The best cartoon to describe the Israeli brutality against unarmed Palestinians…

Temple Mount belongs to Israel……but only by the standard of might, not the standard of right
By Khaled Amayreh  in Occupied East Jerusalem
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An Israeli cabinet minister has repeated the stale Zionist propaganda claim that the “Temple Mount” belongs to Israel. He is correct in a certain sense. Israel has been in control of the Haram al- Sharif (Noble Sanctuary)  as well as the entirety of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since the six-Day war of 1967.  This  means that the holy site, which has been an exclusively Muslim place of worship for the past 1400 years, now “belongs” to Israel by the standards of might, not by the standards of right  But right, not might, comes first because right is a constant whereas might is a variable.
 
In fact, the claim that the Haram al-Sharif belongs to Israel has as much legitimacy as a rapist’s claim that the body of his victim belongs to him.
 
In fact, the historical and even religious claims often cited to prove that the holy  site belongs to Jews are dubious and erroneous.
 
Historical records show that King David conquered Jerusalem from the Jebusites around 1100 BC.  The Jebusites, a Canaanite people believed to be, at least partly, the ancestors of modern-day Palestinians, had been in Jerusalem for some 2000 years.
 
Indeed, for fifty years of intensive excavations, Israeli archeologists  left no stone unturned   underneath  the Islamic shrine, but utterly failed to find  any credible evidence corroborating the gigantic canard that the Aqsa Mosque stands right on top of the Temple of Solomon.
 
 
A few years ago. George Wesley Buchanan, Professor Emeritus of New Testament Theology at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, published a meticulously researched scholarly monograph titled “What if the ruins of King Solomon’s Temple are NOT under the Dome of the Rock?” http://www.ameu.org/Current-Issue/Current-Issue/2014-Volume-47/In-Search-of-King-Solomons-Temple.aspx
 
 
According to the research, which this writer had the honor to translate into Arabic; archaeologists have discovered no ruins in the Haram area that might have belonged to the temple.
 
 “Instead they have found an image of a soldier on a horse, a brick with the mark of the 10th Roman legion on it, and an image of Mars, the Roman god of war.
 
“They have also found in the an inscription once carved over an arch, honoring Titus, Vespasian, and probably Silva for their leadership in the war of AD 66-72.”
 
 According to the scholarly monograph, published in the Journal “Americans for Middle East Understanding” (AMEU) in 2014, another inscription that was intended to fit on the interior wall of the Haram,  honored Hadrian, the Roman emperor who defeated Bar Kochba in the revolt that ended in 135 AD.
 
  In conclusion, Buchanan  asks the most  central question:  “Is there any evidence that the Haram was ever the Temple Mount?”
 
Here is his answer: (clearly, “No!”).
 
Finally, it is true that Jews were in control of Jerusalem more than 2500 years ago.  But so what?   Most of the cities of the world were then inhabited by peoples unrelated to their current inhabitants.
 
Today, the manifestly pyromaniac Israel government, made up of Talmudic fanatics and Zionist jingoists, is striving to set Jerusalem and the entire region on fire under the rubric of Jewish Messianism and millenarianism.  This madness must be stopped immediately because madness breeds madness and blood breeds more blood.

PLAYING WITH FIRE ON THE TEMPLE MOUNT OF JERUSALEM

 Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is dealing with latest tensions at the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem with an odd combination of insolence, recklessness, irresponsibility  and a great deal of shortsightedness.

Israeli soldiers patrol the Temple Mount in Jerusalem

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In Jerusalem Netanyahu is playing with fire 
By Khalid Amayreh
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Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is dealing with latest tensions at the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem with an odd combination of insolence, recklessness, irresponsibility  and a great deal of shortsightedness.
 
 Indeed, a fleet examination of his behavior following the regrettable shooting at the site last week, caricatures a leader who doesn’t look before he leaps.  Otherwise, he wouldn’t have succumbed, rather unhesitatingly, to the whimsical demands by millenarian Talmudic circles to restrict Muslim access to the holy place. In fact, doing so is a grave provocation to Muslims sensibilities which could cause the gates of hell to open loose.
 
Netanyahu seems to forget the fact that when Israel treads on the most sensitive nerve in Islam, at least in our region, the masses won’t heed calls for calm and self-restraint neither from the PA nor from this or that Arab king or head of state.  Al-Aqsa, after all, is the mother of all issues.  It transcends politics and geography. Don’t you see that this issue is galvanizing the Palestinian street as no other issue would? Even Hamas and Fatah are adopting a concordant discourse in the face of this flagrant Israeli provocation. Certainly, I wouldn’t want to see fanatics and provocateurs take over the stage in order to urge seven million Palestinians to morph into seven million time-bombs or suicide bombers. None the less, the task to defuse the current crisis is not the responsibility of Palestinians alone. Israel, too, if only by being the main player who possesses many vital cards, should make the first step, but without procrastination, deception pr foul-playing.
 
That is why I hope and pray that Netanyahu and his colleagues in the government will immediately return to the status quo ante lest things get out of hand.  I am not making threats, but I know my people very well. For them, there is no other issue under the sun that could provoke them more. I am sure the Shin Beth knows quite well what I am talking about.
 
Israel can always seek and find alternative ways to prevent the smuggling of weapons into the Third Holiest place in Islam. Indeed, smuggling of fire arms into the Aqsa esplanade has been extremely rare. It occurred only once or twice since 1967, and the smuggler was neither Arab nor Muslim.  In fact, there is a fierce opposition among Palestinians to the very idea of smuggling fire-arms into the Haram al-Sharif  since a manifestly stupid feat of this sort would give Israel a long-sought pretext to tamper with the delicate status quo at the site. Hence, the Palestinians would be the main if not sole losers if such a folly were to be allowed to become a phenomenon, God forbid.
 
Some people might correctly argue that Israel will continue to seek pretexts and excuses to change the rules at the al-Aqsa Mosque.
 
Well, I hope insolence and impetuousness will give way to wisdom.  Fanatics from all sides must be reined in because if they are allowed to be in the driver’s seat, they could drive the entire region into the abyss.
 
Tomorrow is Friday when tens of thousands of Muslims will converge at the Aqsa Mosque for the weekly Juma’a congregational prayer. I hope the Israeli authorities will instruct their security personnel to refrain from provoking the worshipers or denying them free access to their holy place. Let them pray peacefully.

PALESTINE AWAITS THE DEMISE OF ISIS

 

Like many Muslims and non-Muslims alike, I have breathed a sigh of relief, seeing the latest retreats, defeats and setbacks of the so-called Islamic State (IS) both in Iraq and Syria.

The IS, as a group may well soon become part of history, but the idea encapsulated by the IS is likely to live on and on and on, constantly assuming different forms and names.

Nothing but a meat grinder …

Pyrrhic victory 

By Khalid Amayreh

 

Like many Muslims and non-Muslims alike, I have breathed a sigh of relief, seeing the latest retreats, defeats and setbacks of the so-called Islamic State (IS) both in Iraq and Syria. This evil group has inflected gigantic calamities on Muslims, first and foremost, as well as non-Muslims. Moreover, the criminal acts of terror carried out by the group, especially in Europe, has caused irreparable damage to the image of Islam and Muslims, which will take many many years to rectify. Yes, we must come to terms with the fact that IS has been a gargantuan public relations disaster to the religion of Islam which exhorts its followers to “invite to the Way of thy Lord, with wisdom and fair preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious.”

 

Having said that, I don’t imply in any way any modicum of support or sympathy for the regimes IS has been fighting in Iraq and Syria. The Iraqi regime, created by the US in 2004 in order to plunge the region in endless violence and turbulence, is shamelessly sectarian. It torments, even murders, its own citizens because they have the |”wrong” religious affiliation. And it has effectively handed Iraq over to Iran on a silver platter. As to the Syrian regime, it is decidedly nefarious. No person with any iota of rectitude would give that regime the benefit of the doubt, if indeed there were any doubts as to the nefariousness of that regime. What else can be said of a regime that has destroyed its own country, virtually completely, murdered close to half a million of its own citizens, even by using deadly chemical weapons, and forced 11-14 million Syrians (70% of the population) out of their homes. And the reason? To extend its lifespan in power a few more years against the will of the overwhelming majority of the Syrian people.

 

Indeed, in the first few months into the Syrian uprising, the thuggish regime of Bashar al-Asad instructed its Gestapo-like Shabbiha thugs to scrawl the following slogan on walls all over Syria: Imma al Asad…Aww Nihreq al Balad ( either Asad stays on, or we will burn down the country.) Well. Thanks to Russia, Iran, Hizbullah as well as western treachery and betrayal of the Syrian people, Asad has made good on his threats. He has remained in power, but Syria has been nearly completely destroyed.

 

I most sincerely believe that it is only the naïve and the hopelessly stupid that are celebrating the demise of the IS.   The IS, as a group may well soon become part of history, but the idea encapsulated by the IS is likely to live on and on and on, constantly assuming different forms and names. This is because IS and other extreme Muslim groups especially in the Middle East are, whether we like it or not, the legitimate daughters of the illegitimate tyrannical Arab regimes and police states.   Don’t you believe anyone who would tell you otherwise?

 

Now, we all know that these manifestly terrorist regimes owe their very existence and survival to foreign powers such as the United States, a superpower which we all know is at Israel’s beck and call. .

 

A few years ago, the Egyptian people elected a democratic government, to replace the autocratic and corrupt regime of long-time dictator Husni Mubarak. However, because the first-ever democratic regime in 7000 years of Egyptian history refused to grovel at Israel’s feet and decided to be responsible to the Egyptian people, first and foremost, not to Washington, London and Paris, the West moved hastily to topple that democratic experiment which would have changed the Arab world and eradicated terrorism. In the process, peaceful protesters were massacred en mass in full view of the capitals of Western democracy, which, instead of calling the spade a spade, chose to play the harlot. Interestingly, they continue to display their shockingly wanton political promiscuity with Muslim peoples everywhere? Have you forgotten the recent failed attempt to overthrow the Turkish democratic regime? Who backed, supported and directed that failed coup d’etat against Erdogan’s popular regime until the very end? Martians or entities from outer space?

 

The West and the entire world must understand that it is not the ineluctable destiny of hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims to languish forever and ever under criminal regimes, such as the Assad of Syria and the Sissi of Egypt. In 1775, Patrick Henry, in a speech he made to the Second Virginia Convention, said: “give me liberty or give me death.” Needless to say, One doesn’t have to be a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, or for that matter, an IS terrorist to long for freedom, justice and democracy. When will America, UK, and France understand this most axiomatic matter?

 

In a nutshell, I will say this to the governments and intelligence agencies of Europe and North America. IS could appear again and again, under different names. After all, it is a mere symptom. And the real root-cause, is your hand-made puppet terrorist regimes that persecute, repress, torment and murder every free voice demanding some of the very rights and freedoms that you people take for granted in your countries”

 

 

And, yes, we are not children of a lesser God.

WHAT WILL ISRAEL DO WITH 7 MILLION PALESTINIANS?

We are thoroughly inured to poverty, pain,  agony, and harsh life,  so no matter what Israel does to us short of physical extermination,  we will remain a thorn in its side until Israel’s comes to terms with our humanity and human rights, including the right to absolute  equality.  After all, Ismael was not a child of a lesser God.

What will Israel do with 7 Million Palestinians?
By Khalid Amayreh
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The Palestinian Bureau of Statistics (PBS) has published the latest data on Palestinian demography in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.  According to the published data, the Palestinian population of the occupied Palestinian territories (the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip) has reached 4.95 million. And if we add up the estimated 2 million Palestinians living in Israel proper, the overall number of Palestinians living within mandatory Palestine will be around 7 million.   If not already, the population is expected to reach that figure in a few years.  This is not wishful thinking or day-dreaming. It is reality.
 
Moreover, the estimated seven million people are expected to double their numbers in three or four decades.  Am I dreaming? I don’t think so. After all, people will continue to mate and sire children. Sixty years ago, my late father and late mother started our family.  Now their progeny exceeds a hundred people.
 
I know that the size of the Palestinian population alone will not make Israel budge and reconsider its military occupation and apartheid.  Today’s Israel, especially under the present quasi-fascist government, made up of   extreme nationalists and Talmudic fanatics (Likud and ha-Bayt ha-yehudi- present-day Gush Emunim) is too arrogant, too insolent, too impetuous and too intoxicated by their arrogance of power to really think wisely, even rationally. That is why it is utterly unlikely that the three jingoes (Netanyahu, Bennett, and Lieberman) will soon sober up from their false euphoria and begin to see reality on the ground.
 
Instead, they will continue to profusely  pass provocative racist laws consolidating the “Jewishness” of Israel, mainly at the expense of non-Jewish inhabitants.
 
Needless, to say, these laws are, in the final analysis, self-defeating feats reflecting Israel’s  historical predicament and gigantic failure to reach a just, dignified and durable peace with the Palestinians. In a certain sense, these racist laws, even if passed by an overwhelming majority in the Knesset (Israeli parliament) are also merely a  defensive reflex caricaturing Israel’s fear and uncertainty about the intermediate and fairly distant future.
 
Besides, since when was the consolidation of Jewish culture and roots dependent on the promotion of racism and apartheid as well as on meting oppression and discrimination out to non-Jews.  I strongly believe that Israel is insulting and doing a great disservice to Jewish ethics (the soul of Judaism) by indulging in these repugnant measures against the Palestinians.  These  measures will eventually be proven anti-historical. Indeed, the ancient Prophets of Israel had warned their followers repeatedly against oppressing “the strangers living amongst you for you were strangers yourselves in the land of Egypt”
 
Now, Israel will continue to bury her head in the sand following the proverbial ostrich.   But the denial tactic will take Israel nowhere except perhaps bringing the Jewish state closer to the hour pf truth.
 
I am in no way, out of naïveté.  seeking to underestimate Israel’s ability to do mischief and embark on tormenting the Palestinians even further and further, all in order to make them grovel at Israel’s feet, begging for surrender!  Yes, Israel could do the unthinkable to prevent history from taking its natural course?
 
None the less, the Palestinians won’t and wouldn’t surrender to Israeli brutality and repression, however nefarious this might be. We have learned the lesson of the Nakba.   This means that the vast majority of Palestinians would prefer dying, yes dying, here in Palestine, rather than leaving our ancestral homeland and living in exile..
 
Besides, we are thoroughly inured to poverty, pain,  agony, and harsh life,  so no matter what Israel does to us short of physical extermination,  we will remain a thorn in its side until Israel’s comes to terms with our humanity and human rights, including the right to absolute  equality.  After all, Ismael was not a child of a lesser God.

SUNDAY’S TOON ~~ PUTIN’S LATEST THREAT

Image by Carlos Latuff

Putin Meets Trump. Our Cartoon This Week

ANALYSIS ~~ IS MUSLIM UNITY POSSIBLE?

In the final analysis, Muslims will have to choose between the abyss of sectarianism on the one hand, or the salvation that could only come from following the truly universal Islam based on love, mercy, tolerance and commitment to truth and justice.

Khalid Amayreh

Is a Sunni-Shiite Modus vivendi possible?
By Khalid Amayreh
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I realize that I have to approach this sensitive subject, which is fraught with intense emotions, mutual animosity and suspicions, virulent recriminations,   and many taboos, with utmost caution and discretion.
 
Our beloved Sahabi (companion of the Prophet-s) Imam Ali bin Abe Taleb reportedly said “Try to overcome the harshness of the subject with a kind discourse.”
 
This may not be always possible especially when dealing with ancient,  deep-rooted religious hatreds bequeathed and inherited generation after generation.  However, meaningful efforts to establish a modus viveni or semblance of peaceful coexistence between Shiites and Sunnis must be continued and never given up. Otherwise, both communities would be condemned to a disastrous open-ended confrontation. In such a horrible quagmire, there are absolutely no winner, only losers and for that matter big losers.
 
  Moreover,  it has been crystal-clear for quite sometime that the enemies of Islam, who are fanning the fire of hatred between both communities, are wasting no time exploiting the Shiite-Sunni rift to debilitate and eventually ruin the Muslim world.
 
In fact, any meaningful effort toward de-escalation should not be aimed at making Sunnis and Shiites fall in love with each other. Such a goal, which is theoretically worthwhile,   is probably too illusionary to be even contemplated. It is a dream so distant that cannot be invoked in the realm of reality.  Yet even dreams, realistic or otherwise, are harbored and treasured since  man by nature can not give up the hope for peace with his fellow man especially compatriots and coreligionists.
 
Now, however, our immediate priority as Muslim intellectuals, journalists and opinion-shapers must focus on stopping the bleeding wound, stabilizing the condition of the patient, and inducing his immunity system to reactivate itself as much as possible.  Nothing is easy and nothing can be taken for granted.
 
The first order of business from this writer’s perspective is to study rather honestly and meticulously the real causes of the 1400-old fissure within the body of the Muslim Umma.
 
Again, the solution lies not in converting Shiism to Sunni Islam or converting Sunni Muslims to the Safavi Akhbari Shiism, which is a corruption of true, authentic Shiism. Instead it lies in adopting a new approach toward the “other,” based on mutual respect.
 
Unfortunately, this is not possible right now or in the immediate future since “slandering, cursing, vilifying and hating the “other” is an in-built component of some religious doctrines. Indeed, how can we possibly treat the “other” with any  modicum of true  respect when our views of the “other” is shaped by  ancient religious books that  incite us to “hate him from the depth of our hearts and even constantly  seek the opportune time to harm and even murder him.”
 
 Naturally, this intense hatred and vindictiveness didn’t come from nowhere. It emanated from the notoriously dubious narratives contained in such books as  Beharul Anwar and al-Kafee, to mention just a few sources, which judge the “other” as “Kaffer  (disbeliever), impure, usurper, oppressor, apostate, Nasibi (enemy of the Prophets’ household)  etc, who will rot in hell-fire for eternity.”  These manifestly false Riwayas or Hadith narratives can never be attributed to our great Prophet who was neither a curser nor a maligner. The Prophet, for example, would never have said, that apart fromAli’s supporters (the Shiites), all people are children of adultery!!! This is not the style of the Prophet.
 
Hence, For the sake of peace amongst Muslims, we must no longer hold fast to such cancerous narratives which scholars from both sides know quite well.
 
Moreover, Shiites in particular must put an end, once and for all, to the ancient repulsive  habit of cursing and slandering Sunni Muslims’ symbols including the wives of the Prophet, e.g. Lady Ayesha, and the first three caliphs as well as other Sahaba.  These are the very people who conveyed the Muhammadan message to us. In the final analysis, discrediting the messenger  is discrediting the message.
 
  Indeed, this particular issue of slandering the Sahaba remains the central reason and main cause for the enduring contention between the followers of the two schools.   It is the maker or breaker of any rapprochement between Shiites and Sunnis.
 
True, pronouncements disallowing slandering and badmouthing the Sahaba have been made by prominent religious leaders such as Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenaei.  However. Let us be frank and honest with ourselves. It should be amply clear that  Taqiyaa-inspired statements by this or that leader won’t end the problem. What we need is a meaningful, genuine, and honest departure by religious leaders and Seminaries from ancient doctrines that demonize the “other.”  I can write volumes and volumes in this regard, but I am sure the  Ulema and intellectuals from both sides understand, rather too well, what I am talking about.
 
Unfortunately, there is  now a little hope that the religious leaders, especially In Najaf and Qum, would abandon their ancient texts ….and, therefore,  ancient hatred, which the ignorant fanatics, interestingly enough, consider the “ultimate asset” and defining feature of the Mazhab!!!!  That is why, I cannot allow my self to be overly   optimistic.
 
Let us be honest, we can not await classical religious leaders and clergymen to sound the bill. Indeed, many of these figures are too ignorant, too fanatic and even too cowardly to communicate”unpopular truths” to their respective and often sheepish followers. They are part of the problem. They are the problem.
 
Instead, we need open-minded intellectuals, such as the late Iranian thinker Ali Shariati and the late Egyptian thinker Syed Qutub to be at the forefront to rid the Islamic Umma of both Shiite and Sunni parochialism. In the final analysis, Muslims will have to choose between the abyss of sectarianism on the one hand, or the salvation that could only come from following the truly universal Islam based on love, mercy, tolerance and commitment to truth and justice. 

MIDWEEK TOONS ~~ ISRAEL’S ROLE IN SYRIA

Images by Carlos Latuff

Israel has a finger in every pie!

 

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Israel’s role in Syria

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How Modern Imperialism Creates Famine Around the World

PHOTOS OF THE DAY ~~ GAY PRIDE FROM HEAVEN ABOVE

For Gay Pride Month, Double rainbow over New York City

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Great way to end Pride Month

PALESTINIANS CANNOT DEPEND ON THE ARAB WORLD FOR THEIR FREEDOM

We Palestinians will not allow Arab despots to tread on our dignity and honor. We will not entrust our just cause to those who didn’t and wouldn’t hesitate to murder their own people to please Israel and obtain a certificate of good conduct from the Zionist Golem and its guardian- ally, the United States.

Image by Carlos Latuff

Palestinians will not entrust their just cause to Impotent Arab regimes 

By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Jerusalem

 

Having successfully decapitated whatever erstwhile prospects for the “two-state solution,” thanks to the massive  metastasizing of Jewish settlements all over the West Bank, Israel is now trying to so the impossible to retain as much as possible of the usurped Palestinian homeland, ostensibly in the context of a sham “peace deal”, not with the Palestinians, the most directly concerned party, but with Arab dictatorship.

 

The new-old game is as simple as it is cunning. The centerpiece of Israel’s latest illusion, we are told, focuses on pimping the corrupt, impotent and manifestly illegitimate Arab regimes to do what Israel consistently failed to do, namely getting Palestinians to accept the de facto liquidation of their just and enduring cause under the false rubric of regional peace. The ultimate goal, as one Israeli strategist put it, is to relieve Israel of the burden to resolve the Palestinian problem by placing the burden on the Arab regimes.

 

I have no doubt whatsoever that the new Zionist gambit .will meet the same fate and same failure that the numerous other Israeli schemes. such as the Village Leagues and attempted settling of Palestinian refugees in neighboring Arab countries,   had met since 1948.

 

In fact, the latest scheme should be viewed as an expression of the increasingly nagging realization on the Zionist establishment’s part that Zionism has more or less reached or is about to reach the ultimate  historical dead-end. I am talking about the six-million strong Palestinians now living in mandatory Palestine who will double their numbers in less than two generations. We know what happens to a snake, even a monstrous python, when it swallows a prey too big for it to digest. The reptile simply explodes.

 

True, the Zionists are not stupid, but they are absolutely unwise. And when the absence of wisdom is made to coalesce with characteristic Zionist insolence, intransigence, and arrogance of power the outcome could be a gargantuan disaster for everyone involved including the Jews themselves.

 

So, now Israel is trying to bully or cajole the humpty-dumpty Arab regimes, via the American Connection, to save Israel from itself, e.g. the historical predicament it has willfully reached.

 

Well, I have bad news for the Zionist entity. The comical and fragile Arab regimes, whose only “legitimacy” stems from America’s acceptance and protection will not be around for ever. They are cheap slaves who have no willed of their own, to put it in a nut shell. And the Palestinian people will not entrust their fate to these self-worshiping tyrants who might think that the world began with them and would end when with their death.

 

Does anyone in his right mind think that Abdul Fattah al-Sissi, who has transformed Egypt from a country with the weight of a 100 million people into a failed state with the weight of a beggar, will be around for ever? In the final analysis, Sissi and his ilk will only succeed in reserving a seat of ignominy in history.

 

The same thing should apply to the decadent, hedonistic Sheikhs who might be duped to think that putting all their eggs in the Israeli baskets is the best insurance policy that would ensure the longevity of their dynastic fiefdoms.   In fact, I can say rather candidly that there is nothing more precarious for the future of Jews in this region than forging a sinful partnership between Israel and these hated and corrupt regimes, which we all know can not survive even for one day without oppressing and tormenting their own people in order to stay in power.

 

Finally, Israel, thanks to its long experience with the Palestinians, should know better than thinking the Palestinians would just go with the flow and eventually succumb to Arab carrots and sticks…

 

Yes, the Palestinians may not be irresistible. But they are not just another “sheepish” Arab people as many Zionist orientalists might think.

 

We are different, and that is the reason the Palestinian cause has remained alive all these years despite Israel’s real but slow-motion holocaust which would have torn up any other community to smithereens.

 

We Palestinians will not allow Arab despots to tread on our dignity and honor. We will not entrust our just cause to those who didn’t and wouldn’t hesitate to murder their own people to please Israel and obtain a certificate of good conduct from the Zionist Golem and its guardian- ally, the United States.

 

We shoot the traitor just as we shoot stray dogs in the street, and be it as it may. And if we can not for whatever reason, we, at the very least,   reject the traitor’s policies, ideas and instructions with the utter contempt he   deserves…..even if the filthy rich Sheikhs happen to be the traitor’s bankroller and Donald Trump his bodyguard.

 

This is why I strongly advise and urge Israel to try to make true peace(not a foul play) with the average Hebronite, the average Nabulsi and the average Gazan. I mean ordinary Palestinians who have been through it all from creation to destruction. That would better for all of us.

IN PHOTOS ~~ PRIDE WITHOUT PREJUDICE

Gay Pride Parade in New York City

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Latuff added his 2 cents ….

TIMELY TOONS ~~ RADIOHEAD HEADING TO PLAY APARTHEID

A message to Radiohead – Performing in Israel is supporting apartheid!

Images by Carlos Latuff

Dear Thom Yorke will you play in Israel where Palestinian children are tortured in prisons?

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Dear Thom Yorke playing in Israel is backing a regime that systematically oppress/deny Palestinians in Gaza/West Bank the most basic rights

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International support of BDS …

Radiohead concert disrupted over Tel Aviv visit

British BDS protesters disrupt concert by Rdiohead band over upcoming concert in Tel Aviv.

From JTA

British protesters disrupted the band Radiohead’s performance at a festival in Britain over its upcoming performance in Tel Aviv.

Some waved Palestinian flags and raised a banner reading “Israel is an apartheid state. Radiohead, don’t play there,” the London-based website Jewish News reported. Some members of the audience shouted “free Palestine,” as well.

Radiohead performed as the headliner at the Glastonbury Festival in South West England on Friday.

The band was greeted with applause as it took the stage, according to the report.

Dozens of high-profile artists had signed a letter sent to Radiohead in February urging the band to cancel its July performance in Tel Aviv. Earlier this month, Radiohead singer Thom Yorke said the letter was “offensive” and called out its signees for assuming the band is not informed on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

IN PHOTOS ~~ YEMEN IS STARVING TO DEATH

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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NEW TOON ~~ THE OCCUPATION LITERALLY STINKS

Image by Carlos Latuff

Gaza’s sewage can’t be treated because of the ongoing Blockade & Israeli wars!!

Life in a septic tank

Hiba al-Ashi has to keep the windows of her apartment closed. It is the only way to avoid the foul odors from the polluted sea.

“Life has become unbearable,” said the 36-year-old mother, whose Gaza City home overlooks the Mediterranean.

Every day, 100,000 cubic meters of raw sewage are discharged into the sea around Gaza.

The Gaza Strip’s environmental problems have worsened in recent years.

Gaza has suffered from chronic electricity shortages ever since its sole power plant was bombed by Israel in 2006. Israel imposed an ongoing, severe economic blockade on the territory one year later, restricting the import of fuel and hindering repair of electricity infrastructure destroyed and damaged during successive military offensives.

Gaza’s power plant shut down entirely in April this year, and Israel further reduced electricity supply to Gaza this week – a violation of international humanitarian law, according to human rights groups. Electricity is currently available fewer than three hours per day.

One of the results – among others profoundly affecting daily life in Gaza – is that there is not enough power to run sewage treatment facilities in the territory. Desalination plants, which provide most of Gaza’s drinking water, are also operating at significantly reduced capacity.

“Unprecedented”

Visiting the beach used to be one of the only possibilities for enjoyment and relaxations for Palestinians living under siege in Gaza.

Pollution has narrowed such possibilities. Around 50 percent of Gaza’s beaches are unfit for swimming, according to the local Environment Quality Authority. A number of beaches have been closed to the public.

“The pollution rate of the sea water and beaches this year is unprecedented,” said Ahmad Helles, a representative of that authority. “This indicates that there is a real environmental disaster.”

According to Helles, both the sand and water are contaminated. The sand, he said, “carries a lot of microbes which may be harmful and cause illnesses in humans.”

Maher Salem, a leading administrator of water services in Gaza, said that the sewage facilities will “stop totally soon.”

“We are forced to pump all the sewage into the sea untreated,” he said. “This is preventing people from swimming and, in many cases, even going to the beach.”

Having a view of the sea or living near it is considered desirable throughout the world. In Gaza, however, many people wish to leave homes close to the shore.

“Living in a septic tank”

Taysir Abu Saada has lived in Beach refugee camp, part of Gaza City, for 18 years. He is trying to save money so that he can rent an apartment elsewhere. He wants to “take my family away from this unhealthy atmosphere,” he said.

“I feel like we are living in a septic tank, not a real house,” said his 19-year-old daughter Shaima.

Wisam Lubad, a 22-year-old student, used to enjoy walking on the beach. Now she has to hold her nose when she ventures towards the shore.

“Nothing is well in Gaza,” she said. “That includes the sea – our only escape.”

One recent day, a local family decided to eat a grilled lunch on the beach in Gaza City. The family found the experience so unpleasant that it abandoned the lunch after a short while.

“We’re living in a big tragedy in this country,” said Samar, one member of the family. “We have one disaster after another.”

Beaches in Rafah, an area of southern Gaza near its border with Egypt, have been closed – at the order of the local authority.

The closures are necessary “to protect our citizens from harmful diseases which may be caused by this pollution,” said Sobhi Abu Ridwan, who heads the Rafah municipality.

Masoud Matar is among a number of people in Gaza who have vowed to keep visiting the beach, despite warnings by the authorities.

“Everybody in Gaza considers the sea as their friend,” he said. “Most Gazans are poor. They cannot pay for holidays in resorts or go to swimming pools. The sea is their only hope for having a bit of fun when it is hot.”

The closure of beaches is also causing income losses. Many people in Gaza work as peddlers during the summer.

Muhammad Abu Assi is a recent college graduate, who was hoping to earn a little money by selling corn on the shore. “I was waiting for the summer to start my life as a peddler,” he said. “Now it seems that this is not going to happen.”

Fishermen, too, are worried about the consequences of the pollution.

One of them, Mahmoud al-Ghandour, said that much of the fish for sale in Gaza’s markets may be unsafe to eat.

“Fishing has been my life for 30 years,” he said. “I have never seen so much pollution as that which we’ve had over the past five years.”

Sarah Algherbawi is a freelance writer and translator from Gaza.

IN PHOTOS ~~ INTERNATIONAL REFUGEE DAY IN NEW YORK

March to Trump Towers ….

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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THE ENDGAME ~~ ANALYSIS OF THE PALESTINIAN CONFLICT

I  know that resistance against an evil  foreign military occupation is a legitimate right and even a sublime national duty.  However, Palestinians must approach this matter of resistance with utmost discretion, because it is never enough to be right as one has to be wise as well, and wisdom has a thousand doors!

THE ENDGAME:   It is either One democratic state for all or perpetual open-ended conflict

By Khalid Amayreh

 
It is no longer possible to deny the clarion reality  that Israel has succeeded, with or without American consent, in decapitating virtually all realistic prospects for the creation of a viable  and territorially- contiguous Palestinian state on the West Bank, e.g. an  entity that would have East Jerusalem as its capital.  The massive Jewish settlement expansion and aggrandizement all over the occupied West Bank has simply eliminated all possibilities for a true Palestinian state worthy of the name. We who live here in the West Bank see things on the ground and therefore know what we are talking about.  Please don’t lecture us on the reality we live around the clock.
 
This is not the view of one frustrated or  disillusioned Palestinian as some day-dreamers, who are detached from reality, would probably think. In fact, this is the candid impression of most serious pundits , Israeli and Palestinian alike, as well as American and European.
 
There are several reasons why a true and dignified peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians is ruled out. 
 
Israel today is ruled by a fully-fledged fascist and jingoistic government controlled by Jewish supremacists who reject  any notion for a balanced peace settlement   with the Palestinians involving “territorial concessions.”  Moreover, the Israeli Jewish society continues to drift rather steadily toward brash fascism and pornographic racism.  Even the Israeli justice system, the erstwhile last remaining “glimmer of hope” has been infiltrated rather heavily by Nazi-minded ideologues who are indoctrinated in Talmudic Jewish supremacy and who believe that the lives of non-Jews in general and Palestinians in particular have no sanctity.  We are talking about racist Talmudic thugs who think that non-Jews living “in the land of Israel” must either be expelled and massacred in the Biblical style! Or enslaved as woodcutters and water carriers,  also in Biblical style.
 
In short, it is absolutely futile to count on the possible emergence in Israel of a genuine and pro-active peace camp, let alone a peace government,  in the foreseeable future.  This is, of course, in addition to the fact that the relentless and unceasing settlement expansion has put an end to all realistic and reasonable hopes for the establishment of a true Palestinian state, considered the ultimate basic requirement for a genuine and durable peace.
 
As to the United States, it is no secret that when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians, America is a real lame duck and   loses its independent will to  Israel, a foreign state  that willy nilly, occupies the driver’s seat in Washington,   with Washington utterly powerless even  to object or say a simple “NO”.  This isby means  a new story.  One of the best books which illustrated America’s shocking submission and subservience  to Israel is the Zionist Connection by Alfred Lilienthal, written in the late 1970s.
 
I am not doing to delve too much into the “adulterous” American-Israeli affair. But I do want to point out that it is futile to expect the US to force Israel to walk in the path of peace as the entire American political establishment continues to be thoroughly enslaved by Zionist money and influence. 
 
More to the point, there are those who would argue rather rightly  that the US had nearly seven long decades to achieve peace in the Middle East but to no avail. Hence, it would be naïve to expect Washington to undergo a sudden transformation  of mentality or awakening of  conscience. This would be like expecting a perfectly peaceful coexistence between ferocious wolfs and meek lamps.  Hence, I can conclude rather safely that getting the US to force Israel to return to the armistice lines of the 4th of June, 1967 is out of question.  It is a total illusion.
 
As to Arab states, it is equally pointless to count on them to help the Palestinians regain their usurped rights.   Most Arab regimes, as we all know, have no will of their own as these regimes grovel disgracefully at Washington’s feet. After all these autocratic regimes are not responsible to their peoples and they value the “legitimacy” that comes from America’s acceptance more than the legitimacy that should come from their people’s acceptance.  They  are  no more than cheap, ignominious slaves of Washington. Needless to say, a slave by definition has no freer will of his own.
 
Even Iran can not fare much better.  The intimate dark embrace between Iran and the manifestly nefarious regime of Bashar Assad has exposed Tehran’s fanatical and genocidal Shiite regime as  absolutely  unprincipled, thoroughly sectarian and unethically expedient.  Iran is only using the Palestinian cause as a propaganda tool to spread Shiism in the Arab-Muslim world. That is the crux of the matter.
 
So what is in the offing? No one knows for sure.  But a careful examination of reality suggests that the de facto  elimination of a prospective Palestinian state will leave us  with two main broad alternatives: First, the hypothetical creation of a unitary democratic state between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean where  Palestinians and Jews could live together  in peace as equal citizens.  It is utterly inconceivable , however,   that Israel would willingly agree to the emergence of  such a state since this sort of entity would effectively spell the end of Zionism and put an end to Israel as a Jewish state. 
 
Moreover, the Palestinians’ higher birth rate could eventually (in a few decades) cause Jews in Israel-Palestine to become a demographic minority.  (Palestinians already constitute 50% of the population in mandatory Palestine, including Israel Proper, West Bank, and the Gaza Strip). Hence, the so-called one-state solution, though the best possible historical solution, at least,  from this writer’s view point,  can not really be viewed as an absolute or inevitable alternative.
 
I don’t know for sure what Israel will do with six million Palestinians who will double their numbers in less than forty years.   What I do know and am sure of is that is that Israel is hoping for a “miracle” that would eliminate or at least neutralize  the Palestinians demographic “peril.”  In fact, I strongly  believe that a visibly and explicitly fascist Israel could embark on the “unthinkable” to prevent history from taking its natural course.  After all.  genocide is part and parcel of the Jewish-Talmudic mindset. This is why, the Palestinians must be very very vigilant and alert because nothing can be taken for granted.   I am not a prophet of doom and gloom, but  matters of survival can’t be subjected to chances.   The Palestinian people have survived despite history and we continue to survive thanks to the good will of the international community. That is why we must constantly strive to enhance and expedite every conceivable element that could help us consolidate our survival as a people. This must include  building real bridges with peace-minded elements in Israel.  In the final analysis, we are against Israeli oppression, racism, and aggression, not against Jews as Jews.  That is why  we must strive tirelessly to woo as many Jews of good-will as possible to our side.  This is good for  both us and  them and for  peace.
 
A final word: I  know that resistance against an evil  foreign military occupation is a legitimate right and even a sublime national duty.  However, Palestinians must approach this matter of resistance with utmost discretion, because it is never enough to be right as one has to be wise as well, and wisdom has a thousand doors!
 
But we must immediately stop  targeting innocent Israeli civilians even as revenge for the targeting by Israel of our innocent civilians.
 
Targeting innocent civilians, especially knowingly and deliberately,  is always immoral, self-defeating and utterly damaging to our cause.  Ours is a just and noble cause. We must not tarnish it with senseless acts of terror.  Does any Palestinian in his or her  right mind think that murdering a pregnant lady in full view of her children  will benefit our cause and make  people hasten to embrace our struggle against occupation, racism and apartheid.
 
 
Finally,  the second (and last)  alternative is perpetual  open-ended  conflict. This is by all means  a nightmarish and hair-raising scenario.   I hope,  for the sake of our  (Jewish and Palestinian)  children and their children that our leaders will prove themselves more farsighted than they have been.  Otherwise, future generations would curse the moment they were born.

‘LONG LIVE THE NEW KING’ IN TOONS

Images by Carlos Latuff

The next Saudi King

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Trump and Netanyahu are very excited with their new toy — Mohammed bin Salman, the heir apparent in Saudi Arabia

Related (Click on link)

Trump and new Saudi heir vow to pursue Mideast peace

Call comes with Jared Kushner in region for talks aimed at restarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations

IN PHOTOS ~~ WAS YOUR GRANNY ARRESTED YESTERDAY FOR DEMANDING PEACE?

15 PEOPLE WERE ARRESTED

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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IN TOONS ~~ ISLAM; RELIGION OF HATE Or RELIGION TO HATE?

MUSLIMS ARE PEOPLE TOO

Images by Carlos Latuff

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A much better solution!

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