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Set Artists Hack ‘Homeland’ to Expose Show’s Racist Narrative

Thanks to creative intervention, Arabic graffiti stating ‘Homeland is racist’ featured in key scene

By Sarah Lazare | Common Dreams | October 15, 2015

The U.S. television series “Homeland”—widely criticized as Islamophobic and racist—was hacked by three street artists who were hired to paint “authentic” Arabic graffiti for a film set depicting a refugee camp on the Syria/Lebanon border.

The artists staged an intervention by tagging the slogan “Homeland is racist” on the set, which is located just outside of Berlin. Because the production company could not or did not read the Arabic graffiti, the subversive message was featured in a key scene of Season V, Episode II that aired Sunday and depicts the character of CIA agent Carrie Mathison, played by actress Claire Danes.

“In their eyes, Arabic script is merely a supplementary visual that completes the horror-fantasy of the Middle East, a poster image dehumanizing an entire region to human-less figures in black burkas and moreover, this season, to refugees,” declared the artists—Heba Amin, Caram Kapp, and Stone—in a statement released Wednesday.

The artists painted numerous other slogans on the set, including: “This show does not represent the views of the artists” and “Black Lives Matter.”

The trio said they were hired after being approached in June by a German artist who had been contacted by “Homeland’s” production company that was looking for “Arabian street artists.”

In their initial meeting, the artists said they were “given a set of images of pro-Assad graffiti—apparently natural in a Syrian refugee camp. Our instructions were: (1) the graffiti has to be apolitical (2) you cannot copy the images because of copyright infringement (3) writing Mohamed is the greatest, is okay of course.'”

The artists wrote that they ultimately decided to take the job to seize on “our moment to make our point by subverting the message using the show itself.”

The Showtime series has been widely criticized for its Islamophobic and racist stereotypes, as well as its glaring misinformation about the Middle East. Writer Laura Durkay argued last year in the Washington Post, “The entire structure of ‘Homeland’ is built on mashing together every manifestation of political Islam, Arabs, Muslims and the whole Middle East into a Frankenstein-monster global terrorist threat that simply doesn’t exist.”

“Granted, the show gets high praise from the American audience for its criticism of American government ethics, but not without dangerously feeding into the racism of the hysterical moment we find ourselves in today.” — Artists Heba Amin, Caram Kapp, and Stone

And Pakistani lawyer and social activist Mohammad Jibran pointed out that Season IV, which sends CIA character Carrie Mathison to Pakistan, is rife with inaccuracies and absurdities, including naming a terrorist villain after the actual former Pakistani ambassador to the United States.

The “Arabian street artists” behind this latest sabotage listed numerous other offenses. “The very first season of ‘Homeland’ explained to the American public that Al Qaida is actually an Iranian venture,” they wrote. “According to the story-line, they are not only closely tied to Hezbollah, but Al Qaida even sought revenge against the U.S. on behalf of Iran. This dangerous phantasm has become mainstream ‘knowledge’ in the US and has been repeated as fact by many mass media outlets.”

“Five seasons later, the plot has come a long way, but the thinly veiled propaganda is no less blatant,” the artists continue. “Now the target is freedom of information and privacy neatly packaged as the threat posed by Whistleblowers, the Islamic State, and the rest of Shia Islam.”

Yet the program continues to receive high accolades and viewership, in what critics say reflects—and perhaps feeds—a culture of racism and ignorance that has real consequences.

“Granted, the show gets high praise from the American audience for its criticism of American government ethics,” the artists noted, “but not without dangerously feeding into the racism of the hysterical moment we find ourselves in today.”

October 15, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Islamophobia, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Caught Faking It in Syria

By Thomas S. Harrington | CounterPunch | October 12, 2015

The great danger of faking your ability to do something in the public square is that someone with an actual desire to the job you are pretending to do might come along and show you up.

This is what has just happened to the US in Syria with the entrance of Russia into the fight against ISIL.

And as is generally the case with posers caught with their pants down, the US policy elites are not happy about it.

You see, the US strategic goal in Syria is not as your faithful mainstream media servants (led by that redoubtable channeler of Neo-Con smokescreens at the NYT Michael Gordon) might have you believe  to  save the Syrian people from the ravages of the long-standing Assad dictatorship, but rather to heighten the level of internecine conflict in that country to the point where it will not be able to serve as a bulwark against Israeli regional hegemony for at least another generation.

How do we know? Because important protagonists in the Israelo-American policy planning elite have advertised the fact with a surprising degree of clarity in documents and public statements issued over the last several decades.

The key here is learning to listen to what our cultural training has not prepared us to hear.

In 1982, as the Likud Party (which is to say, the institutional incarnation of the Revisionist Zionist belief, first articulated by Jabotinsky in the ”Iron Wall”  that the only way to deal with “the Arabs” in and around Israel was through unrelenting force and the inducement of cultural fragmentation) was consolidating its hold on the foreign policy establishment of Israel, a journalist named Oded Yinon, who had formerly worked at the Israeli Foreign Ministry,  published an article in which he outlined the strategic approach his country needed to take in the coming years.

What follows are some excerpts from Israel Shahak’s English translation of that text:

“Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target. Syria will fall apart, in accordance with its ethnic and religious structure, into several states such as in present day Lebanon….”

“Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel. An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north.”

“If Egypt falls apart, countries like Libya, Sudan, or even the more distant states will not continue to exist in their present form and will join the downfall and dissolution of Egypt.

“There is no chance that Jordan will continue to exist in its present structure for a long time, and Israel’s policy, both in war and in peace, ought to be directed at the liquidation of Jordan under the present regime and the transfer of power to the Palestinian majority.”

Yinon’s vision reappeared in the now infamous “Clean Break” document from 1996, authored by a consortium of US and Israeli “strategic thinkers” that included Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David and Meyrav Wurmser, which was meant to serve as a foreign policy blueprint for the first administration  of Benjamin Netanyahu.

The text is nothing if not obsessive regarding the need to seriously debilitate Syria’s ability to act in any way is a pole of regional influence in the in the area .

“Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq – an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right – as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.”

“Most important, it is understandable that Israel has an interest supporting diplomatically, militarily and operationally Turkey’s and Jordan’s actions against Syria, such as securing tribal alliances with Arab tribes that cross into Syrian territory and are hostile to the Syrian ruling elite.”

And as Dan Sanchez has recently shown, David Wurmser went into even greater detail about the need to balkanize Israel’s northeastern neighbor in articles published in approximately the same time period, talking quite openly in one essay about “expediting the chaotic collapse“ of Baathist Syria.

Then there is Wesley Clark’s famous interview, given in 2007, in which he revealed the true strategic aims of those running US foreign policy in the wake of the September 11th attacks.  In it, he tells of a conversation he had at that time with a Pentagon official who admitted that the real plan was “to attack and destroy the governments in seven countries in five years”.

Those countries, according to Clark, were: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iraq. In the same speech, he explicitly ties the hatching of the plan to Richard Perle, head of the cadre of people who wrote in the “Clean Break” document of the paramount importance of putting Israel in position to “shape its strategic environment”.

On September 5th, 2013, Alon Pinkas, the former Israeli Consul General in New York and well-connected member of Tel Aviv’s conservative policy elite described the Syrian conflict in the following terms in the New York Times :

“This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win – we’ll settle for a tie,….Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.”

I don’t think it can get much clearer than that. The US-Israeli plan in Syria has never been about helping anyone in that country, but rather insuring its effective dismemberment so as to further the perceived “strategic interests” of the Jewish state.

As Tomás Alcoverro, the longtime Mideast correspondent of Barcelona’s La Vanguardia newspaper wrote on 9 October 2015, in reference to the combined Russian and Syrian government attacks carried out during the previous week: “If this joint offensive is successful, the US plan for continuing the war of attrition until both sides are exhausted will lie in ruins”.

Yes, the US and Israelis, have been “faking it” in Syria for a good long time now.  And Putin has come along and called their bluff.

And they are not happy about it.   Which is why the ongoing campaign of demonization against the Russian leader is being ratcheted up – if that’s possible – to still higher levels of intelligence-insulting hyperbole.

Thomas S. Harrington is a professor of Iberian Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and the author of the recently released  Livin’ la Vida Barroca: American Culture in a Time of Imperial Orthodoxies.

October 15, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Obama to keep 5,500 troops in Afghanistan beyond 2016: Officials

Press TV – October 15, 2015

The US president will keep 5,500 of US troops in Afghanistan when he leaves office in 2017, according to senior unnamed Obama administration officials.

US President Barack Obama had originally planned to withdraw almost all US troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year. He just wanted to keep a small, embassy-based military presence in the Asian country.

But the Pentagon has been arguing for months that Kabul needed additional US military presence in order to defeat a resurgent Taliban movement.

The United States should deploy more troops to Afghanistan because local forces are not yet ready to take on Taliban militants, US Army General John Campbell has said.

Campbell, the commander in charge of the US-led military coalition in Afghanistan, made the remarks during a hearing before a US Senate panel last week.

President Obama is expected to announce the changes on Thursday morning during a news conference at the White House.

The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but after 14 years, the foreign troops have still not been able to establish security in the country.

October 15, 2015 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia jails two human rights activists

Press TV – October 15, 2015

Saudi Arabia has sentenced two human rights activists to prison for various charges, including calling for political reform, a human rights lawyer says.

The lawyer, speaking anonymously over fear of reprisal, told the Associated Press that the pair were sentenced by Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court on Tuesday.

The court was initially established to deal with cases related to terrorism but since a 2014 law that defined actions towards “defaming the state’s reputation” as terrorism, it has been convicting rights activists.

According to the lawyer, both men, who are in their 40s and from the country’s central al-Qassim region, do have the right to appeal the court verdicts.

Abdelrahman al-Hamid, the founding member of the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights (HASEM), received a nine year sentence and was banned from traveling abroad for another nine years after his release. He also should pay a penalty equal to $13,300.

He was arrested last year over accusations of the illegal establishment of a human rights organization and questioning the judiciary’s credibility and independence.

A large number of HASEM’s members are currently behind bars. Apart from Hamid, six other founders are serving time in Saudi prisons and four others are yet to be sentenced.

The second activist, Abdelaziz al-Sinedi, received an eight-year sentence plus an eight-year travel ban and a $13,300 fine for social media activity concerning calling for reforms.

October 15, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

Settlers terrorize Palestinian farmers in Burin: burn trees and disrupt olive harvest

International Solidarity Movement | October 14, 2015

Burin, occupied Palestine – A Palestinian farmer and English human rights defender have been hospitalized and at least 40 olive trees burned following an attack by illegal Israeli settlers in the northern West Bank town of Burin today.

At 10am this morning, as ISM and other international volunteers accompanied olive farmers who have repeatedly been restricted from accessing their fields, gun shots were heard ringing out across the valley from the settlement above. Approximately thirty masked settlers from the illegal Yizhar settlement then descended the hill and started throwing stones at the group which had peacefully been picking olives for several hours. International human rights defender David Amos, a Quaker from London, was repeatedly attacked with rocks from three meters away, causing two head wounds and copious bleeding. The owner of the land, Abed Musaa, was hit in the front and back with stones and has been treated for lacerations and bruising. The attacking settlers also stole phones, a camera and a bag from the international human rights defenders.

The settlers were then witnessed setting four separate fires to grass on the edge of the olive groves which rapidly grew in dimensions, consuming olive trees and the grasslands between family plots. Two Israeli forces jeeps and two collaborating illegal settler vehicles drove into the valley, took photos of the scene, and then parked alongside each other on the road to Yizhar as more fires were lit by the masked settlers throughout the valley.

Israeli forces then scaled the valley and were witnessed saying to Palestinians, “yes you want peace, we want peace, they want peace,” referring to the settlers. Burin farmer and school teacher Doha and Samir were prohibited from continuing to pick olives on their land, being told they required a permit despite no legal provision to that effect, being within Area B zoning under the Oslo accords.

Palestinian firefighters were prohibited from accessing the fire for three hours, being told that a permit was required to utilize the road to the Yizhar settlement, which has been heavily restricted to Palestinian traffic in recent weeks. Palestinian civil workers, farmers, and international human rights defenders attempted to put out the blaze with sand, shovels, and olive branches but were unable to stop the spread of the fire amid 30 degree heat and rising winds.

Olives are a traditional produce of the Nablus district and constitute 25% of the West Bank’s economy (OCHA 2014). This critical October harvest season falls amid rising tensions in the West Bank, as Israeli forces increase their deployment of soldiers and use of violence in the occupied territories. The Yizhar settlement has also been implicated in the tragic [arson] death of 18 month old Ali Dawabsheh and his parents in the Palestinian village of Duma two months ago.

Armed illegal settler

Armed illegal settler

Settlers lighting fires throughout valley

Settlers lighting fires throughout valley

Masked settlers in the olive fields

Masked settlers in the olive fields

International human rights observer David Amos attacked by settlers

International human rights observer David Amos attacked by settlers

Israeli forces photograph fires

Israeli forces photograph fires

Palestinian civil workers attempt to put out fires while fire truck prohibited entry

Palestinian civil workers attempt to put out fires while fire truck prohibited entry

Fires rage across Burin valley

Fires rage across Burin valley

October 15, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Pentagon approves $495 million sale of Sikorsky helicopters to Riyadh

Press TV – October 15, 2015

The United States has approved selling Saudi Arabia nine UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, valued at $495 million, the Pentagon says.

According to Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the deal is aimed at providing security to the country, engaged in daily bombardment of neighboring Yemen, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Tasked with overseeing foreign arms sales, the agency said the Saudis had requested nine helicopters, 21 T700-GE-701D engines built by General Electric Co, embedded GPS systems, machine guns, and missile warning systems.

It further claimed they were supposed to be used by the Royal Saudi Land Forces Aviation Command (RSLFAC) for search and rescue, disaster relief, humanitarian support, counterterrorism, and combat operations.

Earlier in the day, Saudi Arabian warplanes bombarded Sa’ada and Ta’izz provinces, respectively in the northwest and southwest of the impoverished Yemen, taking the lives of at least five people.

Yemen has been under military strikes on a daily basis since Saudi forces launched a military aggression on March 26, in a bid to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to fugitive former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.

Around 7,000 people have reportedly lost their lives, including hundreds of Yemeni children.

October 15, 2015 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

France signs deals worth €10bn with Saudi

MEMO | October 14, 2015

France has signed deals worth €10 billion with Saudi Arabia, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said yesterday.

Valls, who is visiting the gulf kingdom, announced the deal on his official Twitter account saying it aimed to “mobilise our companies and employment”.

Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz met Valls in his palace in Riyadh yesterday.

The Saudi Press Agency said the two leaders discussed bilateral relations and ways of enhancing them as well as the latest developments in the region.

Meanwhile, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced during a press conference in Riyadh that the kingdom intends to purchase 30 French naval corvettes before the end of this year. France’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the deal includes the start of negotiations to provide Saudi Arabia with its own communication and observation satellites.

Valls arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday after a regional tour that included visiting Egypt and Jordan.

October 15, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Subjugation - Torture | , , | 1 Comment

Iran airs unseen footage of secret underground missile base


RT | October 14, 2015

For the first time ever, Iranian television has broadcast footage of a secret underground tunnel, stocked with missile and launcher units. Officials have said it is one of several such bases in the Islamic republic.

Located at a depth of 500 meters under the mountains, the footage shows a very long tunnel which appears to be about 10 meters high. It is one of many missile bases in Iran, according to the Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace division.

“The Islamic republic’s long-range missile bases are stationed and ready under the high mountains in all the country’s provinces and cities,” he said as quoted by the Guards’ website.

“This is a sample of our massive missile bases,” he said, adding that “a new and advanced generation of long-range liquid and solid fuel missiles” will replace the current weapons in 2016.

He issued a warning to anyone who might threaten Iran by suggesting that they had better “have a look at the Islamic republic’s army options under the table.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Iranian Parliament passed a nuclear deal brokered by the P5+1 group – the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany – in July. The agreement stipulates that Iran will partially curb its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of sanctions by Western states. However, the US has said multiple times that military options against Iran will be on the table for several years, despite the nuclear agreement.

On Wednesday, the Iranian general apparently hinted that the show of military power had been a response to Western threats.

“The missiles in various ranges are mounted on the launchers in all bases and ready to be launched,” he said as quoted by Press TV on Wednesday. They will be used if “enemies make a mistake,” he said.

The footage appeared after Iran successfully tested three Emad (Pillar) surface-to-surface long-range missiles, according Iran’s state news agency on Sunday.

October 15, 2015 Posted by | Video | , | 2 Comments

Pentagon Sermonizes Against Russia’s ‘Malign Influence’ in Middle East

Sputnik – 15.10.2015

Speaking at a US army convention, Pentagon chief Ashton Carter pledged to take “all necessary steps” needed to keep a tight rein on Russia, according to the British newspaper The Guardian.

The newspaper quoted Carter as saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin allegedly wrapped his country in a “shroud of isolation,” which Carter said only a drastic change in policy could reverse.

“We will take all necessary steps to deter Russia’s malign and destabilizing influence, coercion and aggression,” Carter said.

According to him, as long as Russia adheres to its “misguided strategy” in Syria to support President Assad, “we have not, and will not, agree to cooperate with Russia.”

The Guardian noted that Carter’s latest remarks became the Obama administration’s strongest language since its announcing the “reset of relations” with Russia back in 2009.

Carter made the comments against the backdrop of Washington’s refusal to receive a high-ranking Russian delegation led by the country’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to discuss the situation in Syria.

Commenting on the move, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that “we have been told that they can’t send a delegation to Moscow and they can’t host a delegation in Washington either.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, in turn, attributed Washington’s decision to Moscow’s alleged unwillingness to contribute to the fight against the Islamic State (ISIL).

Ernest claimed that Russia has its own agenda in Syria, which it carries out on its own, adding that Moscow’s attempts to convince Washington to partner with Russia indicated that Russia’s efforts left the country isolated. Meanwhile, Russia has partnered with Iraq, Iran and Syria to eliminate ISIL and return peace and stability to a region which has known neither since the fall of Baghdad in 2003.

October 15, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 1 Comment