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We need to talk to Hamas

If we cared about peace we would be talking to Hamas

The west has a unique opportunity to help end the Gaza stalemate. But it suits us to turn a blind eye

In his house in the Gaza Strip last month, a senior Hamas minister was explaining to me that the movement needed to modernise its policies when the lights suddenly cut out, as they so often do under Israel’s siege of the territory. Ghazi Hamad’s disembodied voice rumbled on in the pitch black.

Shortly after that, Hamas, which governs Gaza, published what is effectively the first revision of its charter since it was founded 30 years ago. Most significantly, Hamas has for the first time put on paper its commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The movement, it said, was ready to discuss “a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital along 1967 lines”.

The policy reforms should have opened the prospect of an end to the west’s boycott of Hamas, in place since 2007, and hope too of an end to Israel’s economic blockade. Two million Gazans, mostly refugees, are today locked behind walls and fences and deprived of bare essentials – not least electricity, which is now cut to four hours a day or less. The International Red Cross warned this week that the electricity crisis was pushing Gaza to the point of “systemic collapse”.

But the international community is once again leaving Gaza in the dark about when its torment will end. Both the US and Britain have made clear they believe that nothing significant has altered in Hamas’s position. A Foreign Office spokesman said: “They must renounce violence, recognise Israel and accept previously signed agreements.”

True, what Hamas means by its new “General Principles and Policies Document” is still murky, particularly as it still holds out the possibility of a Palestinian state in all of historic Palestine. And it has published the changes now as a strategic move to secure its own survival.

After 10 years of a crippling economic siege Hamas is struggling to govern. It desperately needs money – not least to pay for fuel – and it needs Egypt to open its crossing into the Sinai. In return, both Egypt and Arab paymasters demand that Hamas show moderation.

This squeeze on Hamas, however, gives the west a unique opportunity to end the stalemate over the boycott, especially as the movement is at present adhering to a ceasefire, and has gone a long way towards meeting international demands.

After 10 years of a crippling economic siege Hamas is struggling to govern. It desperately needs money – not least to pay for fuel – and it needs Egypt to open its crossing into the Sinai. In return, both Egypt and Arab paymasters demand that Hamas show moderation.

This squeeze on Hamas, however, gives the west a unique opportunity to end the stalemate over the boycott, especially as the movement is at present adhering to a ceasefire, and has gone a long way towards meeting international demands.

Obviously, the only rational response if we really cared about peace would be to start talking to Hamas and push it to moderate further. If we continue to reject its overtures it will have no incentive to offer more, and the rejectionists in Gaza will win.

It is significant that the Hamas paper was published soon after the election of a former military chief and hardliner, Yahya Sinwar, as the movement’s leader in Gaza. A prisoner in Israel for 22 years, and a fluent Hebrew speaker, who negotiated with Israel over the Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011, Sinwar could bring a new voice to the table. He would also have the clout internally to bring some of Hamas’s own critics on board. Hamas is being increasingly challenged by Salafi jihadists whose popularity is small but growing in Gaza, and who accuse Hamas of too much moderation.

The uncomfortable fact is that the west is only too happy to leave the people of Gaza inside their prison; it suits us to do so. We don’t care about blighted lives, or about whether the electricity is on six hours or four hours or if there is none at all. Our governments just want to leave Gaza blocked off from view so we don’t have to face up to the painfully difficult problems it poses – many of our own making, not least the boycott of Hamas.

It was after all the US, 10 years ago, that insisted on Palestinian elections, hoping the moderates of the PLO would win. Instead Hamas came to power on a wave of anger after the failure of flawed peace efforts. The west then took the view that in Palestine democracy counted for nothing, and as punishment the boycott began.

By accepting that Hamas has met at least some of the west’s conditions, we would be forced to consider talking to its representatives, clashing with Benjamin Netanyahu, who has no wish to change the status quo. Keeping Gaza boxed in while he extends his illegal settlements across the West Bank and Jerusalem, suits the Israeli prime minister just fine.

On the Gaza streets there is no expectation of any change, only predictions of a new war. After interviewing the Hamas minister I visited a Rafah girls’ school, speaking to a class of 17-year-old English students. Of the class, six had lost family members in the 2014 war. Their teacher had lost her husband and her father.

Yet here they were, bright-eyed, clutching English textbooks, and speaking of their ambitions to be doctors, social workers or journalists. The courage and resilience of the Gazan people is also hidden from view by the boycott and what they call the “apartheid wall”.

Before I left the school the girls put questions to me, including, “What does Britain know about us?” and “Why doesn’t Britain help us?” One offered her own answer: “I believe they think we live under a stone.”

The wonder, anger and occupation of Jerusalem

 

A Palestinian with his belongings after his home in East Jerusalem is demolished. Getty Images

 

My essay in The National newspaper about the city of Jerusalem:

House demolitions occur regularly in East Jerusalem, well away from the tourist path. According to the United Nations, Israel destroyed 190 Palestinian homes in 2016 and displaced thousands of people. It was the highest figure since 2000.

I’ve witnessed Palestinian families thrown out of their own houses, sometimes immediately replaced by radical, Jewish settlers, or standing in front of crushed, concrete structures with nowhere to go. Last year, a few hours after a Palestinian home was demolished in the neighbourhood of Wadi Joz, I arrived to find a solitary man sitting under a large, green plastic sheet. He had 12 children and a wife and all his possessions, including couches, fridge, table, crockery and cutlery, were exposed to the elements. “The Palestinian people don’t help me”, he said. Despite his situation, he gave me a cup of hot coffee and then began calling friends to see where he could sleep with his family.

The official policy of Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat is to make Jerusalem the “united capital”. In practice, this means the approval of thousands of Jewish homes in West Jerusalem, but nothing in the East where Palestinians live. Up to 20,000 Palestinian homes have been built without approval, giving Israel the justification to destroy them, but obtaining permits is almost impossible. It’s a daily reality faced by a Palestinian community that foreigners and Israeli Jews almost never witness nor want to.

To a Jew growing up in Australia, this Jerusalem is vastly different to the fantasy Jewish city described in my youth, although it remains a sparkling and beautiful place. I’m preparing to leave after living here with my partner for more than a year. During this time and in the course of many visits over the past decade, I constantly marvel at the shimmering Al Aqsa Mosque, cobbled streets in the Old City and the green and brown hills of the Mount of Olives. With few tall buildings and its famed cream-coloured stone, the city has a spiritual feeling that is perhaps unrivalled in the world.

However, the brutal politics of division sucks away any inkling of nostalgia. The ubiquitous presence of armed and aggressive Israeli soldiers and police harassing Palestinians increasingly defines it. Many secular, Jewish Israelis hate Jerusalem and try to avoid coming. For them, the comfortable bubble of Tel Aviv is preferable, where the occupation of Palestine is almost completely invisible. They like it that way, away from Palestinians and the ultra-Orthodox, Haredi Jews who ghettoise themselves in isolated neighbourhoods.

As Israel prepares to celebrate 50 years of conquest and occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, this holy city has rarely been so angry and volatile.

Recently released documents revealed that Israel knew from the beginning of its occupation that it was illegal and worried about international reaction. Israel annexed East Jerusalem three weeks after the 1967 war and sent a telegram to its ambassadors around the world explaining that this wasn’t “annexation” but “municipal fusion” to guarantee running services. Israel needn’t have been too concerned, though, because facts on the ground after 50 years have become permanent.

As a journalist in Jerusalem, it’s a strange experience and almost guaranteed to bring cognitive dissonance. It’s possible to spend time in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem during the day, witnessing suffering and occupation and be safely back at home in the evening. Considering what surrounds us, Jerusalem is perhaps too comfortable for foreign media.

For Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, the city can be a dark experience. I live in Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem that’s slowly being taken over by extremist, Jewish settlers. There are plans to build a religious school, a 10,000-square-metre complex in the heart of an Arab area, and accelerated moves, backed by the Israeli Supreme Court, to evict even more Palestinians from their homes. The clear Israeli aim, used over decades, is to make Palestinian lives so miserable that they simply pick up and leave. Some agree, most resist.

There may be no checkpoints separating East and West Jerusalem, unlike throughout the West Bank, but the divides are clear. The vast majority of Jews here have no interest or knowledge of Palestinian history before the 1948 Nakba.

Israel is pushing for millions more tourists in Jerusalem in the coming decades, but this can only be achieved by isolating and silencing Palestinian residents, many of whom lost residency unless they regularly proved that this city was their “centre of life”.

Jerusalem will seduce even the most jaded traveller, but only the blind can ignore the racial and political discrimination undertaken in the name of Zionism.

Antony Loewenstein is a Jerusalem-­based journalist and author, most recently, of Disaster Capitalism: Making A Killing Out of Catastrophe

source

Arabs Without God

Qunfuz

Robin Yassin-Kassab

Arabs Without God

with 2 comments

isis-flagThis was first published at NOW.

In the Arab world, the public declaration of religious disbelief is as taboo as the open profession of homosexuality. Publically-declared atheists and agnostics can wave goodbye to social respect, marriage prospects, even legal recognition. Yet a 2012 poll in Saudi Arabia – a state whose legal system equates atheism with terrorism, and which potentially applies the death penalty to apostates – found that 19% described themselves as ‘not religious’ and a further 5% as atheists.

In his new book “Arabs Without God: Atheism and Freedom of Belief in the Middle East” (soon to be translated into Arabic as ‘Arab bala Rab’) journalist Brian Whitaker interviews activist and quietist unbelievers from around the region, and investigates the pressures ranged against them. Most usefully, the book provokes a question – how can a revived Arab secularism (freed from the taint of the so-called ‘secular’ dictatorships) provide a future in which the rights of religious majorities as well as unbelieving or sectarian minorities will be respected and strengthened?

Demands to believe and submit go far beyond religion. Whitaker quotes sociologist Haleem Barakat, who noted that, like God, the Arab head of state and the Arab family patriarch require absolute respect and unquestioning compliance. “They are the shepherds, and the people are the sheep.” (This is why ‘rab’ – which means ‘Lord’ rather than only the monotheist God – is as apt a translation as ‘Allah’ for the book’s Arabic title). So intellectual atheism is perceived as an attack on family and state, and on community solidarity. The contemporary politicisation of religious identity makes unbelief akin to treason in some minds; for this reason minority sects, dissenters and atheists are frequently seen as fifth columnists, agents weakening state and nation on behalf of foreign powers.

Identity politics in the region took on its modern forms with the building of centralised nation states. Nationalism itself was an assertion of a politicised cultural identity, first against the Ottomans, then against the European empires. For the new rulers of post-independence states, a fear of disloyal communities turned to a generalised rage for homogeneity – ‘the good citizen’, depending on where they found themselves, was to be an Arab, or a Muslim, (or a Turk, or a Jew) as imagined by the state. Many states standardised dress, dialect and worship.

The state’s top-down approach to culture is infectious. Opposition groups too, whether nationalist, leftist or Islamist, have sought to emulate the rulers by seizing control of the state apparatus and imposing their vision from above.

Whitaker points to the failure of secular nationalism as demonstrated by the 1967 war as a turning point. Certainly the often-posed dichotomy between ‘secular’ dictatorships and activist Islamism is a false one – it was during the reign of the security states that Salafism came to dominate, for a variety of reasons. Some – like rapid urbanisation and population explosion – would have applied anyway; other factors were a direct result of oppression. Leftist and democratic alternatives were silenced or eliminated. Islamism was sometimes co-opted, usually repressed, and never combatted on the level of ideas. The European association of secularism with freedom of thought and expression never existed in the Arab states. Secularism didn’t mean the irrelevance of private belief to citizenship but the intrusion of the state into private life.

In Syria, a rhetorical secularism coexisted with a reality in which the regime’s security chiefs were overwhelmingly drawn from the Alawi sect. Public discussion of this fact was taboo, as was any public examination of the differences between the sects. As a result, the unlanced boil of sectarian resentment seethed in secret.

After the Muslim Brotherhood challenge of the 1980s had been put down in blood, concessions were sometimes made to reactionary Islamist demands – to ban certain books for example – and photogenic Islamist violence was sometimes allowed or encouraged as a message to threatening foreign powers. In the wake of the 2006 Danish cartoons affair, for instance, an angry crowd was permitted to attack the Norwegian and Danish embassies in Damascus. More significantly, Damascus facilitated the passage of jihadists to US-occupied Iraq, calculating that an Iraqi bloodbath would deter the Americans from Syrian regime change.

Today Iran and Assad on the one side and Sunni jihadists on the other exploit sectarian identity to rouse the cannon fodder they require to implement their respective authoritarian projects. The extremes on both sides feed off each other. Assad released hardline Salafists from prison in 2011 (simultaneously targetting non-violent, non-sectarian activists for assassination) because he knew their acts and rhetoric would terrify minority groups into loyalty to his regime. And the Sunni jihadists love the presence of Iranian, Iraqi and Lebanese Shia on the battlefield, because it reinforces their narrative – that Syria is not engaged in a revolutionary war for democracy and self-determination, but in a defensive war against an international Shia conspiracy.

No section of the people profits from this cruel game. In the Alawi community perhaps a third of fighting age men are dead, sacrificed to a dying dictatorship. An enormous proportion of the Sunni population has been killed, injured, imprisoned or displaced. And unless Syrians can surpass the identities fashioned for them by policemen and war lords, their country faces a future of sectarian dismemberment.

But the potential alternative can be found in Syria too, in the councils and committees in which local people cooperate on the practical business of living, to provide themselves with education, sanitation, and health care in the absence of the state. Most people involved are religious, but this self-organisation, where it works well, is a pure and natural form of secularism. Everyone is entitled to their personal, ethnic and sectarian identity, and of course to their spiritual beliefs. But these ties are largely irrelevant when neighbours organise on specific issues.

The Iraqi civil war, the regional counter-revolutions, the rise of Daesh and the failure to contain it – all these are examples of how the old identity politics have failed the Arabs in general, foiling specifically their desire to live free and dignified lives. True believers as much as atheists have been exploited, oppressed and murdered by political actors claiming religious or sectarian authority.

Disgusted by the political uses of religion, today a surprising number of Syrian activists admit privately to atheism, or at least mistrust of organised religion. And many more religious activists than before understand the importance of freedom of thought. When, for example, the Aleppo-based activist Basel al-Junaidi was briefly detained by militia for speaking out for secularism, Islamist as well as secular activists protested for his release.

In any case, it seems very unlikely that tormented Arab societies are about to lose their religious character. Brian Whitaker quotes Phil Zuckerman’s conclusions after studying UN Human Development Index data: “Societal health seems to cause widespread atheism, and societal insecurity seems to cause widespread belief in God.” This observation doesn’t of course disprove religion, but it does suggest why Arab societies are, outwardly at least, so much more religious than half a century ago.

p.s. https://youtu.be/5W1XXMPgG8M

SYRIA: THE STORY OF AN IMPOSSIBLE REVOLUTION

The New Rules of the Syrian Conflict

The project is about simplifying the meaning of the conflict in Syria and drawing small icons to refer to some issues in the daily life of Syrian families and Syrian people.
The purpose of choosing those simple elements (electricity source, light, food, movement, transportation and so on) was to draw attention to the fact that war has changed everything in our routines and daily lives and has made it harder in all those aspects

Work as part of Urbegony – Architects Without Borders.Syria group

Click on image to view full project


Families are smaller, some of their members don’t live anymore. There is no family that doesn’t feel the bitterness of losing one of their members because a bomb of a shutting or mabye drawning in the sea trying to escape the war

The 1967 Obsession, Trump and Trivia By Miko Peled

Israeli Generals Dayan, Narkis and Bar-Lev at the Western Wall

Israeli Generals Dayan, Narkis and Bar-Lev at the Western Wall

I arrived in Jerusalem last night and as always during the weeks between mid-May and mid-June the media is full of romanticized memories. Within these weeks are the two most siginicfant dates in modern Palestinian history: May 1948 when Palestine was conquered and renamed Israel, and June, 1967 when the Israeli army completed the conquest of Palestine by taking East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. For Palestinians these dates bring back bitter memories, but for Israelis the memories are sweet – those were the days when we were young and brave and innocent.  Vintage photos of soldiers at the newly conquered Western Wall, generals announcing “the Temple Mount is in our hands,” and teary-eyed old Jews praying with devotion are everywhere. The horrors that make up the Palestinian memories, the piles of dead bodies, civilians panicking as they are forcibly exiled, children lost in the mayhem and ancient villages and communities bulldozed only to be rebuilt for Jews are rarely shown or discussed.

Palestinian refugees fleeing to Jordan across the wrecked Alenbi Bridge

Destruction of the 700 year old Mughrabi neighborhood was done immediately following the Israeli conquest of East Jerusalem to create the Western Wall plaza.

To add to all that, Donald Trump is expected to arrive in Jerusalem and this gives the press and the official state PR machine an even greater opportunity to deal with the two things they love best: smoke screens and trivia.  Gaza? never even heard of it! Fifteen hundred innocent political prisoners on a hunger strike for over a month? Nobody cares! But check this out: apparently Trump will fly directly from Saudi Arabia to Tel-Aviv and this is the first direct flight between the two countries; the King David Hotel in Jerusalem is preparing for Trump’s visit and a drone was spotted in the hotel parking lot! And the ongoing burning question, will the great deal maker be able to close the Israeli-Palestinian peace Deal?  All smoke screens and trivia which are the staples of tabloids – a category into which most Israeli media outlets fit perfectly – though in their defense one must admit that there is no point in dealing with substance because Trump’s visit will offer none.

Here are a few items that are sure not to be on Trump’s agenda: Two million people in Gaza have no access to clean water, proper nutrition or medicine.  They have been victims of devastating attacks for seven decades and before they can recover from one assault there is another one pending.  The Israeli water authority allocates only 3% of the water to Palestinians even though they make up more than 50% of the overall population. More than 55% of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship live below the poverty line, and even though they rate one of the highest in the world in literacy, there is massive unemployment among Palestinians. Palestinians in the West Bank live under a brutal military regime governed by Israeli commanders who impose inhumane laws and prevent people from enjoying the basic most human rights. Seven thousand political prisoners sit in Israeli jails in violation of international law, over fifteen hundred of them on a hunger strike for over a month.

Trump may also visit Ramallah, and there too these topics are not likely to come up. Though there are attempts to prop the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority, it is on life support and barely surviving. Municipal elections to West Bank cities were a failure – marked by boycotts of major political parties and a lack of voter interest. Mahmoud Abbas, the so-called president of the Palestinian Authority is old and tired and can no longer mask his disinterest in the fate of his people.  Hamas has made some changes to its charter and the newly elected head of Hamas’ political bureau is the Gaza resident, Gaza born Ismail Haniya, who is also the democratically elected Prime Minister of the now defunct Palestinian Authority.  The Authority has no real authority and neither party is relevant anymore.

The question of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem is also dead at this point although for political reasons Netanyahu will pretend it is a priority.  Both Trump and Netanyahu know that Jerusalem is a red line that even two reckless politicians such as them will not dare cross. Trump will not risk a multi billion dollar weapons deal with Saudi Arabia, and Netanyahu won’t risk an uprising for a symbolic gesture for which no country in the world can give its support.  The international community has never recognized Jerusalem as part of Israel, and international recognition of Israel’s jurisdiction is out of the question. So while Israeli politicians may try to create headlines over this topic, it is nothing but a smoke screen.

The terror under which Palestinians live – be it in their own country or in refugee camps  around it, is part of the daily bread of Palestinian existence. The causes for this existence, the wars of 1948 and 1967 are commemorated each year during the weeks between mid-May and mid-June.  The horror of the Palestinian reality is magnified when compared to the dishonest, romanticized narrative presented by Jews during that time: An Israel that is eternally young and brave and facing constant danger, yet winning and succeeding. Judging by Trump’s entourage, which includes David Friedman the new US ambassador to Israel and Jared Kushner, the famous Jewish son in law, Israel’s narrative of lies will dominate the agenda, while trivia and smoke screens will dominate the news.

 

Fake : Donald Trump Signs Executive Order Cancelling Saturday Night Live

I apologize, this was fake news; see http://www.snopes.com/trump-bans-snl/

Donald Trump signed an Executive Order today canceling the long running hit television show Saturday Night Live. (AP Photo / Dennis System)

 

 

Jimmy Rustling

The St. George Gazette | 2017-05-17T01:01:45+00:00

Donald Trump signed an Executive Order today canceling the long running hit television show Saturday Night Live. (AP Photo / Dennis System)

Donald Trump signed an Executive Order today canceling the long running hit television show Saturday Night Live. (AP Photo / Dennis System)

 

Donald Trump signed an Executive Order today canceling the long running hit television show Saturday Night Live. (AP Photo / Dennis System)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — Today President Donald Trump made what could very well prove to be the most controversial move of his presidency by signing Executive Order 14838, which cancels the television show Saturday Night Live, or SNL. Under the new order, it is now illegal for any private or federally funded agency to air or show footage of the popular television show in any format. Any company or individual who violates this order can now face fines of up to $250,000 and five years in federal prison.

During the press conference, Trump explained that his decision was based on a personal belief that the show is “divisive” and “contrary to America’s deepest held values.”

“Saturday Night Live is the definition of fake news and that is why it is now gone forever,” Trump told reporters. “It mocks the very beliefs that keep this great country running smoothly. I’ve never found the show to be humorous and I don’t know how it stayed on the air as long as it did, but I made sure to put an end to that today. I know some actions that I take are questioned by those who don’t want or understand freedom; these are people who hate America, but I know my true supporters are with me on this decision to cancel SNL, just like all my other brilliant ideas.”

Trump’s signing of Executive Order 14838 comes after more than two seasons of Saturday Night Live attacking the current President.

“In all my years of watching SNL, they’ve always mocked the current President in some way or another, but with Trump it’s a totally different ball game; they are actually trying to get him impeached and take down his administration piece by piece,” Paul Horner, a senior political analyst at CNN said. “I can see why he would want the show cancelled.”

Lorne Michaels, who created Saturday Night Live, which premiered on NBC in 1975, told reporters he was concerned if the show had gone too far in mocking Trump.

“Ever since Donald Trump became a blip on the political scene, SNL has done its best to make the public aware of the evils that this man is and what he stands for. I think it’s important that the general public sees how ridiculous it is that this man is actually President of the United States. Of course we are worried with the signing of this Executive Order, we’re all currently wondering if SNL will still air or not, if we still have jobs, but I will say with complete certainty that we won’t go down without a fight.”

“Saturday Night Live thinks they can mock me, the President of the United States?!!! NOT ON MY WATCH! THEY ARE GONE!!!”

Alec Baldwin, a regular on SNL who plays the role of President Trump in various sketches, told CNN that the true reasons behind Trump’s actions are only ones that Trump knows himself.

“He’s just mad that I’ve slept with all the women that he [Trump] couldn’t pay enough money to have sex with. Bottom line is, Trump hates watching SNL so much but his huge ego won’t let him turn it off; so I guess the signing of this Executive Order is his only recourse.”

Tom Downey, a professor of political science at the University of Arizona, says that he finds the entire situation very troubling.

“Clearly, you have a man in Donald Trump who is dangerously incompetent and is a clear threat to everything this country stands for. His rhetoric on everything from immigration to the first amendment is terrifying, but I’m even more worried about what he’s doing from a freedom of speech perspective. Donald Trump may be vile, but even his demons like SNL are protected by the first amendment. I think that by canceling this show, SNL will become a symbol that we can all stand around and salute as a tribute to what freedom really is.”

Sarah Bradley, a spokeswoman for Sock It Forward, a group that provides the homeless and those less fortunate with brand new socks, spoke to CNN about the cancellation.

“Everything Trump stands for is backwards. His appointment of racist Steve Bannon, the way he unites hate for the Muslim people in this country, his support of white power organizations. He appointed a cabinet full of billionaires and millionaires to standup for the lower and middle class. The person he puts in charge of the EPA denies climate change. His person in charge of education doesn’t believe in public education. The American people should not accept this and Saturday Night Live makes fun of him the best way they know how. The children of this country deserve a leader who will build a successful future for them and can take a joke and not attempt to stop freedom of speech.” Bradley said. “Also, I just want to say a big thanks to everyone that has supported our cause that gives brand new socks to the homeless. Please, donate what you can, every bit helps so much.”

Fappy The Anti-Masturbation Dolphin, a mascot for a Christian organization that travels around the country educating children about the dangers and consequences of masturbation, told CNN that he believes what Trump is doing is the right thing.

“This is a great first step in the war against masturbation in this great Christian nation of ours. From day one, Saturday Night Live has promoted self rape and other types of sinful behavior that Jesus would never approve of. Way to go Donald Trump, you are legendary! Praise!”

As of now, NBC does not have SNL scheduled for next Saturday. The FCC has yet to release a statement about the canceling of the show and instead setup a hotline for those wishing to voice any concerns or comments over the impending cancellation of Saturday Night Live. That hotline’s phone number is (785) 273-0329.

Watch: Sean Spicer Press Conference (Melissa McCarthy) – SNL

White House press secretary Sean Spicer (Melissa McCarthy) and secretary of education nominee Betsy DeVos (Kate McKinnon) take questions from the press (Bobby Moynihan, Kristen Stewart, Cecily Strong, Vanessa Bayer, Alex Moffat, Mikey Day).

 

A Republican plan for peacemaking: ‘break the will’ of the Palestinians and force them to ‘accept defeat’

Representative Bill Johnson, Republican-Ohio (L), at the launch of the Israel Victory Caucus in Washington DC, April 27, 2017. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Representative Bill Johnson, Republican-Ohio (L), at the launch of the Israel Victory Caucus in Washington DC, April 27, 2017. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

While President Donald Trump prepares to make his first trip abroad to Israel where he reportedly will announce his administration’s plan for the creation of a Palestinian state (without East Jerusalem as its capital), some members of his own party are calling for an alternative plan: “Israeli victory, Palestinian defeat.”

This is according to the tagline of the new congressional “Israel Victory Caucus” which was launched on April 27, 2017, at a press conference in the Rayburn House Office Building by co-chairs Rep Bill Johnson (R-OH) and Ron DeSantis (R-FL). Congressmen Keith Rothfus (R-PA), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), and Alex Mooney (R-WV) were also in attendance. The event outlined the key policies the caucus will be advocating for the Trump administration to pursue: moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, ending U.S. funding of the Palestinian Authority and UN agencies that give aid to Palestinians, and securing the safety of Israeli settlers living in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Israel should “convince the Palestinians that they have lost,” said the head of the Middle East Forum Daniel Pipes, who spoke at the event.

The caucus says it will not focus on historical compromises or division of territory. Instead, it asks Palestinians to accept Israel’s goals. “Victory means imposing your will on your enemy so that he no longer wants to fight, and I think that’s the essence here,” Pipes said.

“Winning doesn’t mean slaughtering your enemy, but it means imposing your will on your enemy,” he continued.

Pipes is a far right-wing historian who notably insists President Barack Obama is a Muslim. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists him as an “anti-Muslim extremist” and said his Middle East Forum is a “major funder of Muslim-bashers even more radical than himself.”

During the 2016 campaign, Pipes endorsed Senator Ted Cruz, and compared Trump to Italian fascist Benito Mussolini, “If this kind of politics has no precedent at the highest precincts of American politics, it does elsewhere, and it has a name: neo-fascism,” Pipes wrote in April 2016.

Yet once Trump proposed banning Muslims from entering the U.S. in August of last year, Pipes warmed to Trump in an interview with Breitbart, where Pipes and other senior staff at the Middle East Forum have held stints as frequent contributors and are regular guests on its SiriusXM radio program.

Pipes and his think-tank are the brain trust advising Johnson and DeSantis. Both congress members are relatively new to formulating policy points on Middle East peace-making. Johnson told media his first trip to the region was on a Judeo-Christian tour free to U.S. elected officials in 2014 where he said he zip lined “over the Hebron valley” in the West Bank—“that was a scary thing,” he said.

Johnson explains, the caucus views the Israelis and the Palestinians as in a protracted state of “war.” If wars only end when one party becomes the victor, he wants the victor to be Israel.

“Israel has been at war with its immediate neighbors over the right to existence as the nation-state of Israel—the nation-state of the Jewish people—for nearly 70 years, and we believe that Israel has been victorious in this war. And this reality must be recognized,” Johnson said.

After the briefing, asked if he would endorse Trump’s vision for a Palestinian state, Johnson said he and the caucus would be against it, “I do not personally support a two-state solution. At least to the current Palestinian thinking, that is not the end result, that is a means to another solution.”

Johnson added, he was not told by the White House that a deal for a Palestinian state is in the works.

“I haven’t heard that myself from the administration. The only thing I’ve heard from the president is he supports moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” he said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with President Donald Trump, at the While House. (Photo: Reuters)

Yet in the days after Johnson’s group launch, Trump indicated that he may use his May 22, 2017 trip to Israel to announce a new paradigm for U.S. brokered negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. On May 3, 2017, Trump met with Abbas and the two held a joint press conference. The exchange was warm. Trump said the Israelis and Palestinians get along “beautifully.”

This was followed by a reluctant Netanyahu accepting Trump’s bid for peace talks, albeit not without making a dig at Abbas.

“The President [Trump] is seeking to examine ways of renewing the peace process with the Palestinians. I share in this desire as do the citizens of Israel. We want peace. We are also educating our children for peace. I heard Abu Mazen, who praises terrorists and pays them according to the severity of the murders they committed against Israelis; I heard Abu Mazen say that the Palestinians are also educating their children for peace. I regret that this is simply incorrect,” Netanyahu’s said.

With Netanyahu statement indicating he is on board with Trump’s plan, what exactly the Victory Caucus can achieve is likely limited to shaping the rhetoric of the administration.

“Israel is not the problem in the Middle East, Israel is the solution in the Middle East,” representative DeSantis said at the caucus lunch. Adding, Israel is “a diamond in the rough.”

Also speaking at the caucus launch, Gary Lee Bauer, undersecretary of education for Ronald Reagan and a board member of the Emergency Committee for Israel, a group that ran attack ads against Obama as “not pro-Israel” said, “If you see a conflict between barbarism and civilization, you have to rally for civilization.”

 

Flip Wilson

Clerow “Flip” Wilson Jr. (December 8, 1933 – November 25, 1998) was an African American comedian and actor, best known for his television appearances during the late 1960s and 1970s. In the early 1970s, Wilson hosted his own weekly variety series, The Flip Wilson Show. The series earned Wilson a Golden Globe and two Emmy Awards, and at one point was the second highest rated show on network television.
Wilson also won a Grammy Award in 1970 for his comedy album The Devil Made Me Buy This Dress.
In January 1972, Time magazine featured Wilson’s image on its cover and named him “TV’s first black superstar”.
According to The New York Times, Wilson was “the first black entertainer to be the host of a successful weekly variety show on network television.”

Christopher Columbus

Geraldine

Flip Wilson Show The Church Of What’s Happening Now

Michael Jackson – Maths skit with Flip Wilson

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