Iran’s Barbarity in Sentencing Pastor Abedini to Eight Years

An American pastor who has been jailed in Iran since September has been sentenced to eight years in prison, the U.S. State Department said Sunday.  Spokesman Darby Holladay said the department is calling on Iran to respect Saeed Abedini’s human rights and release him.

Earlier this month, Iran’s semi-official news agency, ISNA, quoted Abedini’s attorney, Nasser Sarbazi, as saying his client stood trial in the Revolutionary Court on charges of attempting to undermine state security by creating a network of Christian churches in private homes.  The pastor, who is of Iranian origin but lives in Boise, Idaho, has rejected the charges.  “Mr. Abedini’s attorney had only one day (Jan. 21) to present his defense, so we remain deeply concerned about the fairness and transparency of Mr. Abedini’s trial,” Holladay said.

Iran needs to exercise justice instead of anti-Christian vengeance and free Pastor Abedini.   It is an act of barbarity to imprison a man, any man, or woman, or child, for the free and peaceful practice of their faith.  And American Christians need to let their voices be heard in the White House and at the State Department.  Free our brother.

Sullivan is Right- Under Netanyahu, Israel is No Ally

Sullivan observes

As long as Netanyahu is Israel’s prime minister, Israel is not our ally. It’s a liability, undermining US foreign policy in the most important struggle we still face: Jihadist violence.

He’s not wrong.  He’s also right when he succinctly observes

… Netanyahu, in alliance with neocons and Christianists, has had one main policy these past four years: getting rid of Obama so he can control Greater Israel for ever and get the US to bomb Iran for him.

I would offer one correction.  Sullivan’s ‘Christianists’ (whatever that’s supposed to be) should be changed to the more accurate ‘Christian Zionists’.  Otherwise, he’s right.  Again.  I hope policy makers in Washington are smart enough to realize it.

Gunter Grass is At It Again, With Another Poem About Israeli Policy

His second:

Nobel Prize literature laureate, declared ‘persona non grata’ by Israel over a poem criticizing its stance on Iran, lauds nuclear whistle-blower Vanunu as a ‘hero.’ After drawing fire for criticizing Israel’s stance on Iran in a controversial poem earlier this year, prominent German writer Gunter Grass confronts Israeli policy in a new poem, in which he lauds Mordechai Vanunu, a former nuclear technician imprisoned by Israel for years for revealing details of Israel’s nuclear program to the British media. In April, Israel declared the Nobel Prize literature laureate Grass “persona non grata” after he published a poem saying it threatened world peace in its standoff with Tehran and that it must not be allowed to launch military strikes against Iran.

It’s hard for some folk to stay out of trouble. If they only had no conscience…

Weekly Update

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for the weekly stat update-  it was another pretty good seven days (from last Thursday through last night at midnight)-

I’m still a bit sad that no one from Antarctica has shown up… since virtually every other country has in the last quarter-

What gives, Iran?  Where’s the love, Antarctica?

Bibi “The War Lover” Netanyahu Needs to Listen to Meir Dagan

Meir Dagan, a former head of the Israeli Intelligence service Mossad, says that an attack on Iran would be the ‘stupidest idea [I’ve] ever heard.”  Speaking to ’60 Minutes’ Dagan said: “An attack on Iran now before exploring all other approaches is not the right way how to do it [sic].”  Dagan, a man who Iranian authorities reportedly claim has dispatched assassins, computer viruses and faulty equipment in a bid to delay the country’s nuclear program, appears to have developed a surprising appreciation for the Islamic Republic’s regime – which is a sworn enemy of Israel.  “The regime in Iran is a very rational regime,” according to Dagan. Asked if he felt the regime in Iran was capable of backing down from an escalating crisis over the country’s nuclear program, he replied: “No doubt that the Iranian regime is not exactly rational based on what I would call ‘Western Thinking,’ but no doubt they are considering all the implications of their actions.”

Bib, if there’s an ounce of sense left to you, listen.

Benjamin Netanyahu Is Exactly The Same as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Both are equally insane and unhinged.  Both need to be removed from office.

Comments from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are ratcheting up diplomatic tension between Israel and the United States. During a joint press conference in Jerusalem with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, Netanyahu expressed his frustration with how world powers are handling Iran and its nuclear program.  “The world tells Israel ‘wait, there’s still time’. And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’ Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel,” Netanyahu said.

I hope and pray that when this madman subjects the region to full blown war that the United States allows him to suffer the consequences completely unaided.  Then let’s hear him talk about moral rights.  We have a moral right here not to have our foreign policy determined by a raving lunatic.  We have a moral right to abstain from interfering in a war started by a death-lover.  And we have a moral right to refuse to take sides in a conflict neither of our own making nor concerning ourselves.

Bibi, if you want a war so badly, enjoy it- alone.  And take John Hagee with you.

If Sheldon Adelson Wants War with Iran, Let Him Go Fight in It

And if Romney wants Israel to attack Iran, let him, and his 5 sons, hop on the first plane to Tel Aviv and jump in an APC and drive across the desert and attack Iran themselves.  They can be the ‘tip of the sword’.

These maniacal war lovers are always happy to send someone else to die in a foolish and pointless war, so they should shut up and man up and go.  Let them die for their precious cause if it means all that to them.

Those of us who aren’t insane will denounce the bloodlust, and those bent by hell itself to destruction, death, and murder.

The Rabbi Who Makes Pat Robertson Look Perfectly Sensible

Yes-sir, it’s a fact. This chap is totally unhinged.

Rabbi Ovaid Yosef

During his weekly sermon, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef says Jews should pray for destruction of the enemies of Israel, with an emphasis on Iran and Hezbollah. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who was updated last week on the Iranian nuclear project, called on Jews to pray for the destruction of Iran, this past Saturday. During his weekly sermon, the ultra-Orthodox leader of the Shas party stated that his followers should pray for the annihilation of the enemies of the Jewish people during Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year), with an emphasis on Iran and Hezbollah. “When we say ‘may our enemies be struck down’ on Rosh Hashana, it shall be directed at Iran, the evil ones who threaten Israel. God shall strike them down and kill them,” said Yosef.”

Not only does he make Robertson look sensible, he makes Judaism look just like the Taliban and al Qaeda.  Sadly the Ha’aretz report didn’t find anyone in the entire country to denounce such lunacy.

Bibi Wants to Attack Iran Before the US Elections

If he does, the United States should refrain from any sort of intervention or aid.  If Bibi is insane enough to want a war, then we should just let him hoist himself on his own petard.  Then, maybe, Israelis will see where their elected officials have led them.

Israel is planning a military strike against Iran’s nuclear programme before November, security sources in Israel have claimed.  British officials say prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has begun a process of ‘sounding out’ his voters to gauge support for airstrikes and build a case for military action.  Alon Ben-David, the well-informed military correspondent for Israel’s Channel 10 News, claimed on Monday that the country was ‘closer than ever’ to a strike against Iran.

Strike, Bibi.  But strike alone.  When Iran retaliates, we’ll help your civilians but we’ll leave you and your government and your military establishment to enjoy the consequences.

Fools and their war lust.  They are the world’s foulest curse.

Two Seemingly Unrelated Tweets Tell the Story of the Middle East

These two tweets arrived within seconds of each other and they tell the story of the Middle East concisely and understandably; for they show what’s wrong with the entire region.

To wit, on the one hand 15th century Islamic culture is returning in many quarters, and on the other bias and hatred and bigotry are never-endingly interwoven into the very fabric of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Prejudice and ignorance are the mother and father of destruction and death.  Those two give birth to every ill.  Those two are alive and well in the Middle East and until they are done away with that region will always be the birthplace of horrors.

 

The Government of Iraq, Backed by the US, is Helping Iran Skirt Sanctions

So once more American policy in the Middle East allows us to shoot ourselves in the foot whilst wasting billions of tax dollars to do it. Well done, US Government.

Iraqi banking institutions have been helping Iran sidestep regulations imposed by the United States, said American officials. The country’s cozy relationship with Iran little more than eight months after American troops left Iraqi soil has caused concern among American leaders, and Obama placed a call to Iraq’s prime minister recently after learning that Iranian supply planes were passing through Iraqi airspace en route to Syria.

Who’s in charge in Washington?  No one intelligent, that’s for sure.

Britain’s Outrageous Censorship Practices: ‘Archbishop Cranmer’ and the Advertising Standards Authority

This really, really is outrageous.  Because a blogger calling himself Archbishop Cranmer posted this pro-marriage graphic on his blog, the authorities in Britain are assaulting him with threatenings:

Here’s what the blogger says-

Apparently there have been a number of complaints about one of the advertisements His Grace carried on behalf of the Coalition for Marriage. He has been sent all manner of official papers, formal documentation and threatening notices which demand answers to sundry questions by a certain deadline. He is instructed by the ‘Investigations Executive’ of this inquisition to keep all this confidential.

Since His Grace does not dwell in Iran, North Korea, Soviet Russia, Communist China or Nazi Germany, but occupies a place in the cyber-ether suspended somewhere between purgatory and paradise, he is minded to ignore that request. Who do these people think they are?

The advertisement in question is reproduced above. His Grace would like to make it clear to the ASA that he is reproducing this ‘offensive and homophobic’ advertisement as an educative illustration of allegedly offensive and homophobic advertising; not as an offensive and homophobic advertisement per se. Naturally, His Grace apologises in advance to all those who find this educative illustration offensive and homophobic, for it is never his intention to be either offensive or homophobic. But those of you who do find it offensive and homophobic are free not to visit His Grace’s blog whenever you wish.

There is NOTHING homophobic or offensive about that graphic and only the most idiotic bureaucrat could imagine there is.  And whilst normally my practice is to ignore anonymous blogs and bloggers, in this instance, because the British government’s actions are so egregious and inept, I’m going to make an exception.  Go visit his blog and read the remainder of his explanation of what’s gone on.  It’s authentically shocking.

And, America, believe me, our government is heading in the same direction.  So if you think this doesn’t matter, wake up and glance into the not too distant future.

Elie Wiesel on Netanyahu’s Bombast

The Times of Israel reports

Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel has dismissed comparisons between Iran’s intentions for Israel and the fate of Jews during World War II.

Asked about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s increasing tendency to invoke parallels between the regime in Iran and the Nazis, Wiesel said the comparisons were out of place.

“Iran is a threat, but can we say that it will make a second Auschwitz?” Wiesel said in an interview published in the Hebrew daily Globes on Thursday. “I don’t compare anything to the Holocaust.”

Netanyahu made the parallel most recently on Wednesday night, in a speech marking Holocaust Remembrance Day, saying that warning of the Iranian threat was the best way to honor the victims of the Holocaust. “I know there are some who don’t like it when I express uncomfortable truths like these,” Netanyahu said. “They would prefer that we not speak of a nuclear Iran as an existential threat. They claim that this statement, even if it is true, only spreads fear and panic… Those who dismiss the Iranian threat as a whim or an exaggeration have learnt nothing from the Holocaust… The memory of the Holocaust is a command to learn the lessons of the past in order to ensure the future.”

Wiesel, in the interview, said he did not approve of the frequency with which comparisons with the Nazis were made, and mentioned isolated incidents in which ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel put on yellow stars in protest at ostensible persecution. “Putting yellow stars on children?  And in Israel? What have we come to?

Wiesel is a man of eminent sense.  It’s a shame Israelis haven’t elected someone as bright.  Netanyahu is Israel’s own version of George Bush.

It Didn’t Take Bibi Long to Play the Anti-Semitic Card Against Guenter Grass

Al Arabiya reports

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday it was no surprise that German writer Gunter Grass, who for decades had hidden his membership of the Nazi Waffen SS, had described Israel as a threat to world peace.

The Nobel Prize-winning writer criticized Israel and said it must not be allowed to launch military strikes against Iran in a poem published earlier this week.  “Gunter Grass’ shameful moral equivalence between Israel and Iran, a regime that denies the Holocaust and threatens to annihilate Israel, says little about Israel and much about Mr. Grass,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said.  “For six decades, Mr. Grass hid the fact that he had been a member of the Waffen SS. So for him to cast the one and only Jewish state as the greatest threat to world peace and to oppose giving Israel the means to defend itself is perhaps not surprising,” Netanyahu added.

But Grass hit back Thursday at what he called a “campaign” by critics of his poem accusing Israel of plotting Iran’s annihilation and threatening world peace.  The 84-year-old sparked outrage at home and abroad Wednesday when he published “What must be said” in a newspaper in which he said he feared a nuclear-armed Israel “could wipe out the Iranian people” with a “first strike.”

The longtime leftist activist told public broadcaster NDR Thursday that the media had piled on him without fully understanding his political message and that he found the personal accusations against him “hurtful.”  “The tenor throughout is, ‘don’t focus at all on the content of the poem’ but rather, conduct a campaign against me and claim that my reputation is now damaged for all time,” Grass said. “I have noticed that in a democratic country with press freedom that people are expected to toe the line and that there is a refusal to address the content and the questions I raise here.”  Grass said he was particularly stung by the widespread accusations of anti-Semitism against him in the German media.  “That is quite hurtful and not worthy of a democratic press,” he said.

Anyone with an eye could have seen this coming even if their vision was 20/400.  It is simply reprehensible and unacceptable to throw out the anti-semitic charge every time someone questions Israeli policy.  It’s absurd and it’s deceptive and it’s only aim is to distract the public from the real issue which is Netanyahu’s warmongering disposition.  Criticism of Israel’s government is NOT anti-semitism.  Childish politicians and far right fanatics have to stop pretending it is.

Wow: a German Nobel Laureate Criticizes Israeli Policy!

I bet that within 35 seconds of word getting out, Grass will be accused of antisemitism (even though criticism of Israeli policy isn’t at all the same thing except in the warped minds of some).

In his poem, the 85-year-old author claims that Israel’s nuclear reactor – and not Iran’s – presents a threat to world peace. Grass’ poem calls for Germany to cease supplying Israel with submarines, and warns against an Israeli strike on Iran.

Here’s the entire poem-

Warum schweige ich, verschweige zu lange,
was offensichtlich ist und in Planspielen
geübt wurde, an deren Ende als Überlebende
wir allenfalls Fußnoten sind.

Es ist das behauptete Recht auf den Erstschlag,
der das von einem Maulhelden unterjochte
und zum organisierten Jubel gelenkte
iranische Volk auslöschen könnte,
weil in dessen Machtbereich der Bau
einer Atombombe vermutet wird.

Doch warum untersage ich mir,
jenes andere Land beim Namen zu nennen,
in dem seit Jahren – wenn auch geheimgehalten –
ein wachsend nukleares Potential verfügbar
aber außer Kontrolle, weil keiner Prüfung
zugänglich ist?

Das allgemeine Verschweigen dieses Tatbestandes,
dem sich mein Schweigen untergeordnet hat,
empfinde ich als belastende Lüge
und Zwang, der Strafe in Aussicht stellt,
sobald er mißachtet wird;
das Verdikt “Antisemitismus” ist geläufig.

Jetzt aber, weil aus meinem Land,
das von ureigenen Verbrechen,
die ohne Vergleich sind,
Mal um Mal eingeholt und zur Rede gestellt wird,
wiederum und rein geschäftsmäßig, wenn auch
mit flinker Lippe als Wiedergutmachung deklariert,
ein weiteres U-Boot nach Israel
geliefert werden soll, dessen Spezialität
darin besteht, allesvernichtende Sprengköpfe
dorthin lenken zu können, wo die Existenz
einer einzigen Atombombe unbewiesen ist,
doch als Befürchtung von Beweiskraft sein will,
sage ich, was gesagt werden muß.

Warum aber schwieg ich bislang?
Weil ich meinte, meine Herkunft,
die von nie zu tilgendem Makel behaftet ist,
verbiete, diese Tatsache als ausgesprochene Wahrheit
dem Land Israel, dem ich verbunden bin
und bleiben will, zuzumuten.

Warum sage ich jetzt erst,
gealtert und mit letzter Tinte:
Die Atommacht Israel gefährdet
den ohnehin brüchigen Weltfrieden?
Weil gesagt werden muß,
was schon morgen zu spät sein könnte;
auch weil wir – als Deutsche belastet genug –
Zulieferer eines Verbrechens werden könnten,
das voraussehbar ist, weshalb unsere Mitschuld
durch keine der üblichen Ausreden
zu tilgen wäre.

Und zugegeben: ich schweige nicht mehr,
weil ich der Heuchelei des Westens
überdrüssig bin; zudem ist zu hoffen,
es mögen sich viele vom Schweigen befreien,
den Verursacher der erkennbaren Gefahr
zum Verzicht auf Gewalt auffordern und
gleichfalls darauf bestehen,
daß eine unbehinderte und permanente Kontrolle
des israelischen atomaren Potentials
und der iranischen Atomanlagen
durch eine internationale Instanz
von den Regierungen beider Länder zugelassen wird.

Nur so ist allen, den Israelis und Palästinensern,
mehr noch, allen Menschen, die in dieser
vom Wahn okkupierten Region
dicht bei dicht verfeindet leben
und letztlich auch uns zu helfen.

He isn’t wrong.  At all.

The World’s Worst

Violators of religious freedom that is. Here are the highlights-

– In Egypt, the transitional government has failed to protect religious minorities, especially Coptic Christians, from violent attacks at a time when minority communities have been increasingly vulnerable.

– “These governments too often stand idly by in the face of violent attacks against religious minorities and dissenting members of majority faiths.”

– Iran and China remain gross abusers of human rights and among the world’s worst religious freedom violators. Iran continues to detain, torture, and execute its citizens, and in the past year, Baha’is, Christians, and Sufi Muslims have been subjected to intensified attacks, harassment, detention, and imprisonment.

– In China — the only CPC designee with a seat on the United Nations Security Council – conditions for Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims are the worst in decades and in the past year, Beijing has stepped up its crackdown on Protestants and Catholics. Dozens of unregistered Catholic clergy, for example, remain in detention or have disappeared.

– The Report highlights the mistreatment of Ahmadis, Hindus and Christians in Pakistan, Buddhists in Vietnam and China, and Baha’is in Iran and Egypt. The report repeatedly notes the brutal assaults endured by Christians seeking to practice their faith peacefully. Muslims, too, suffer in Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan, and non-Muslim nations like Russia and Burma. The Annual Report also calls attention to the promotion of anti-Semitic bigotry in countries as diverse as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

– The following countries are on the 2012 Watch List: Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Laos, Russia, Somalia, and Venezuela.

And some silly people think that there isn’t a war on faith.  Obviously such persons never read.

The Perverse Government of Iran has Murdered Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani

Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been executed in Iran. He is the pastor who has been imprisoned and found guilty by the courts in Iran of being a Christian. Now he’s been executed in spite of international appeals to spare his life. He was hanged today. Where is the outcry from the White House over the murder of this innocent Christian minister? Where is the outcry from the church in America and around the world? The silence is deafening!  By: Michael Edds on Facebook (via George Athas).

Disgusting.  Absolutely disgusting.  And if true even more appalling given the fact that just 24 hours ago Iran declared that he would not be killed.

Fear of a Nuclear Iran is Irrational

And fear of a nuclear Iran is overhyped, suggests Paul Perrin in an essay sure to boil the blood of many.  He notes

the Israeli government, which has led the way in talking up the danger of an Iranian bomb, represents a significant hazard outside Washington’s control. It was most likely the Israelis, for instance, who orchestrated the provocatively timed attack on Roshan. Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently dialed down the heat somewhat by saying that an Israeli decision to strike Iran was “far off.” But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, mindful of the U.S. electoral calendar and the possibility that Barack Obama might pull off a victory in November, may see a temporary opportunity to precipitate a conflict in which a preelection U.S. president would feel obliged to join in on Israel’s side.

Israel’s objective in stirring the pot is patently self evident: to engender support for war against Iran- ‘preemptive’ war because Iran ‘might’ possess the capability of a nuclear attack (a capability we all know Israel itself already possesses).

Yet even without an Israeli decision to start a war, recent U.S., Iranian, and Israeli actions already constitute an escalation toward one. Rising tensions have increased the chance that even a minor incident, such as a seaborne encounter in the Persian Gulf, could spiral out of control. And Iran’s own covert actions—perhaps including the recent spate of car bombs targeting Israeli officials in India and Georgia and last year’s bizarre alleged plot to blow up a restaurant in Washington, D.C., and kill the Saudi ambassador—feed even more hostility from the U.S. and Israel, escalating further the risk of open conflict.

But more to the present point

What difference would it make to Iran’s behavior and influence if the country had a bomb? Even among those who believe that war with the Islamic Republic would be a bad idea, this question has been subjected to precious little careful analysis. The notion that a nuclear weapon would turn Iran into a significantly more dangerous actor that would imperil U.S. interests has become conventional wisdom, and it gets repeated so often by so many diverse commentators that it seldom, if ever, is questioned. Hardly anyone debating policy on Iran asks exactly why a nuclear-armed Iran would be so dangerous. What passes for an answer to that question takes two forms: one simple, and another that sounds more sophisticated.

It’s a brilliant analysis which policy makers should attend to reading.  And there are 4 more pages of it after the first (so it’s not the sort of shallow analysis most politicians will offer).