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The Guardian of Judea

By Devon Nola | March 19, 2019

In the last week, we saw yet another organised smear campaign of hate and slander orchestrated by Jewish interest groups and Labour Party affiliates wielded against Internationally acclaimed Jazz musician, Gilad Atzmon. A protest was planned for Atzmon’s concert at The Vortex Jazz Club after numerous emails from local Labour Council members and members of these groups demanded the cancellation of the gig fell on deaf ears. They claimed Atzmon plays ‘Nazi-apologist Jazz.’ Personally, I’m not familiar with the genre. The chief organiser was Jewdas, a group that qualifies itself as “Radical Jewish Voices”. The four co-sponsors were: Momentum, an alleged grass-roots collective, Socialists Against Antisemitism, whose name is self-explanatory if not contradictory, London Young Labour and The Jewish Labour Movement.

What is most interesting is this event was supported and promoted by journalist for The Guardian, Owen Jones. It’s always shocking when a journalist supports any sort of censorship. Jones posted the event on his Facebook page and within two days, managed to rack up over 350 comments telling him what a huge mistake he was making, the accusations against Atzmon were false and totally absurd, and might he provide some proof to substantiate the claims. Many came from avid readers and supporters of Jones’ usual commentary but were aghast at his support of preventing a respected musician from earning a living and they expressed this in no uncertain terms.

When Jones finally did respond, it was to attach a hit piece that came from an ultra-Zionist website full of misquotes, quotes out of context and even completely fabricated quotes. Rather than sifting through Atzmon’s prolific body of written work to decipher if the accusations against him were legitimate, Jones instead chose this piecemeal missive full of lies.

Realising, at that point, Jones hadn’t actually read anything by Atzmon, I attached a copy of a page from Atzmon’s book, “The Wondering Who”. I assumed once he read Atzmon’s thoughts, directly, versus some bastardised fictional version, he would realise his error in judgement and deliver a swift apology. This is what an honest journalist, a person with integrity would do. Astonishingly, Owen Jones chose a different path. He didn’t admit to his mistake (giving him the benefit of the doubt, here), but rather removed the entire thread, or shall I say, the evidence. This was a calculated, conscious decision, by Jones, suggesting he was fully aware of the deceit being peddled in both the protest he was supporting and the piece he scrounged up to defend it. This isn’t the behaviour one expects from a journalist. It’s typically something one finds in a sleazy tabloid writer whose articles are printed next to ads for miracle serums to cure baldness or penis enlargement.

Some time ago, Atzmon coined the phrase “The Guardian of Judea” for the well-known paper. Witnessing one of their journalists engaged in such a slanderous campaign, where completely unfounded accusations of antisemitism, Nazi apologist and holocaust-denier are being lobbed at an innocent man like tennis balls on the final Sunday of Wimbledon, I’m inclined to think this is yet one more astute observation by the legendary saxophonist.


List of signatories to letters demanding the ouster of Gilad Atzmon:

As’ad AbuKhalil, The Angry Arab News Service, Turlock, CA
Suha Afyouni, solidarity activist, Beirut, LEBANON
Max Ajl, essayist, rabble-rouser, proprietor of Jewbonics blog site, Ithaca, NY
Haifaa Al-Moammar, activist, stay-at-home mom, and marathon walker, Los Angeles, CA
Electa Arenal, professor emerita, CUNY Graduate Center/Hispanic & Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Women’s Studies, New York, NY
Gabriel Ash, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Geneva, SWITZERLAND
Joel Beinin, Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
Dan Berger, Wild Poppies Collective, Philadelphia, PA
Chip Berlet, Boston, MA
Nazila Bettache, activist, Montréal, CANADA
Sam Bick, Tadamon!, Immigrant Workers Center, Montréal, Québec
Max Blumenthal, author; writing fellow, The Nation, New York, NY
Lenni Brenner, author, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, New York, NY
Café Intifada
Paola Canarutto, Rete-ECO (Italian Network of Jews against the Occupation), Torino, ITALY
Paulette d’Auteuil, National Jericho Movement, Albuquerque, NM
Susie Day, Monthly Review, New York, NY
Ali Hocine Dimerdji, PhD student at The University of Nottingham, in Nottingham, UK
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, professor emerita, California State University
Todd Eaton, Park Slope Food Coop Members for Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions, Brooklyn, NY
Mark Elf, Jews sans frontieres
S. EtShalom, registered nurse, Philadelphia, PA
Benjamin Evans, solidarity activist, Chicago, IL
First of May Anarchist Alliance
Sherna Berger Gluck, professor emerita, California State University/Israel Divestment Campaign, CA
Neta Golan, International Solidarity Movement
Tony Greenstein, Secretary Brighton Unemployed Centre/UNISON, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, Brighton, UK
Andrew Griggs, Café Intifada, Los Angeles, CA
Jenny Grossbard, artist, designer, writer and fighter, New York, NY
Freda Guttman, activist, Montréal, CANADA
Adam Hanieh, lecturer, Department of Development Studies/SOAS, University of London, UK
Swaneagle Harijan, anti-racism, social justice activism, Seattle, WA
Sarah Hawas, researcher and solidarity activist, Cairo, EGYPT
Stanley Heller, “The Struggle” Video News, moderator “Jews Who Speak Out”
Mostafa Henaway, Tadamon!, Immigrant Workers Center, Montréal, CANADA
Elise Hendrick, Meldungen aus dem Exil/Noticias de una multipátrida, Cincinnati, OH
Doug Henwood, Left Business Observer, New York, NY
Ken Hiebert, activist, Ladysmith, CANADA
Elizabeth Horowitz, solidarity activist, New York, NY
Adam Hudson, writer/blogger, San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Dhruv Jain, Researcher at the Jan Van Eyck Academie and PhD student at York University, Paris, FRANCE
Tom Keefer, an editor of the journal Upping the Anti, Toronto, CANADA
Karl Kersplebedeb, Left Wing Books, Montréal, CANADA
Anne Key, Penrith, Cumbria, UK
Mark Klein, activist, Toronto, CANADA
Bill Koehnlein, Brecht Forum, New York, NY
L.A. Palestine Labor Solidarity Committee, Los Angeles, CA
Mark Lance, Georgetown University/Institute for Anarchist Studies, Washington, DC
David Landy, author, Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights: Diaspora Jewish Opposition to Israel, Dublin, IRELAND
Bob Lederer, Pacifica/WBAI producer, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, New York, NY
Matthew Lyons, Three Way Fight, Philadelphia, PA
Karen MacRae, solidarity activist, Toronto, CANADA
Heba Farouk Mahfouz, student activist, blogger, Cairo, EGYPT
Marvin Mandell and Betty Reid Mandell, co-editors, New Politics, West Roxbury, MA
Ruth Sarah Berman McConnell, retired teacher, DeLand, FL
Kathleen McLeod, poet, Brisbane, Australia
Karrie Melendres, Los Angeles, CA
Matt Meyer, Resistance in Brooklyn, New York, NY
Amirah Mizrahi, poet and educator, New York, NY
mesha Monge-Irizarry, co-director of Education Not Incarceration; SF MOOC City commissioner, San Francisco, CA
Matthew Morgan-Brown, solidarity activist, Ottawa, CANADA
Michael Novick, People Against Racist Terror/Anti-Racist Action, Los Angeles, CA
Saffo Papantonopoulou, New School Students for Justice in Palestine, New York, NY
Susan Pashkoff, Jews Against Zionism, London, UK
Tom Pessah, UC Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine, Berkeley, CA
Marie-Claire Picher, Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB), New York, NY
Sylvia Posadas (Jinjirrie), Kadaitcha, Noosa, AUSTRALIA
Roland Rance, Jews Against Zionism, London, UK
Danielle Ratcliff, San Francisco, CA
Liz Roberts, War Resisters League, New York, NY
Emma Rosenthal, contributor, Shifting Sands: Jewish Women Confront the Israeli Occupation, Los Angeles, CA
Penny Rosenwasser, PhD, Oakland, CA
Suzanne Ross, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, The Riverside Church Prison Ministry, New York, NY
Gabriel San Roman, Orange County Weekly, Orange County, CA
Ian Saville, performer and lecturer, London, UK
Joel Schwartz, CSEA retiree/AFSCME, New York, NY
Tali Shapiro, Anarchists Against the Wall, Boycott From Within, Tel Aviv, OCCUPIED PALESTINE
Simona Sharoni, SUNY, author, Gender & the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Plattsburgh, NY
Jaggi Singh, No One Is Illegal-Montreal/Solidarity Across Borders, Montréal, CANADA
Michael S. Smith, board member, Center for Constitutional Rights, New York, NY
Pierre Stambul, Union juive française pour la paix (French Jewish Union for Peace), Paris, FRANCE
Muffy Sunde, Los Angeles, CA
Bhaskar Sunkara, editor of Jacobin, Bronx, NY
Tadamon! (http://www.tadamon.ca/), Montréal, CANADA
Ian Trujillo, atheist, Los Angeles, CA
Gabriella Turek, PhD, Auckland, NEW ZEALAND
Henry Walton, SEIU, retired, Los Angeles, CA
Bill Weinberg, New Jewish Resistance, New York, NY
Abraham Weizfeld, author, The End of Zionism and the liberation of the Jewish People, Montreal, CANADA
Ben White, author, Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination, and Democracy, Cambridge, UK
Laura Whitehorn, former political prisoner, NYS Task Force on Political Prisoners, New York, NY
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, founding member, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG)
Asa Winstanley, journalist for Electronic Intifada, Al-Akhbar and others, London, UK
Ziyaad Yousef, solidarity activist

and also:

Ali Abunimah
Naseer Aruri, Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
Omar Barghouti, human rights activist
Hatem Bazian, Chair, American Muslims for Palestine
Andrew Dalack, National Coordinating Committee, US Palestinian Community Network
Haidar Eid, Gaza
Nada Elia, US Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Toufic Haddad
Kathryn Hamoudah
Adam Hanieh, Lecturer, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London
Mostafa Henaway, Tadamon! Canada
Monadel Herzallah, National Coordinating Committee, US Palestinian Community Network
Nadia Hijab, author and human rights advocate
Andrew Kadi
Abir Kobty, Palestinian blogger and activist
Joseph Massad, Professor, Columbia University, NY
Danya Mustafa, Israeli Apartheid Week US National Co-Coordinator & Students for Justice in Palestine- University of New Mexico
Dina Omar, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine
Haitham Salawdeh, National Coordinating Committee, US Palestinian Community Network
Sobhi Samour, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London
Khaled Ziada, SOAS Palestine Society, London
Rafeef Ziadah, poet and human rights advocate

March 19, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 7 Comments

Time to Confront the Media’s Anti-Corbyn Bias

By Jonathan Cook | Dissident Voice | June 1, 2017

Those journalists who should have been behind Corbyn from the start – who could have been among his few allies as he battled the corporate media for nearly two years as Labour leader – are now starting to eat humble pie. Polls suggest that Corbyn may be gradually turning the election around, to the point where the latest poll, published in the Times, indicates that Britain could be heading for a hung parliament.

No one is surprised that the Daily Mail, Telegraph and Times have been relentless in their hatchet jobs on Corbyn. But it has been disconcerting for the left that the Guardian and BBC never gave him a chance either. He was in their gun-sights from day one.

Owen Jones, a Labour stalwart and Guardian columnist, should have been Corbyn’s number one ally in the press. And yet he used the invaluable space in his columns not to challenge the media misrepresentations, but to reinforce them. He engaged in endless and morose navel-gazing, contemplating a Labour rout.

In an Evening Standard interview in February, he imparted the following wisdom: “Things change but only if people will it to be.” But then almost immediately ignored his own advice, saying that if another Labour leadership election were held: “I’d find it hard to vote for Corbyn.”

In early May, Jonathan Freedland, the Guardian’s most senior columnist, wrote a commentary entitled: “No more excuses: Jeremy Corbyn is to blame for this meltdown.” In fact, though he did not mention it, he had been making that very same argument for the previous two years.

But as Corbyn has begun chipping away at Theresa May’s lead – and equally significantly, forced the media to widen the public debate into political territory it has avoided for nearly four decades – Freedland finally admitted this week, very reluctantly, that he and others may have misjudged the Labour leader.

Freedland’s reassessment, however painfully made, was still an evasion. He and Jones continue to avoid facing up to the central problem of British politics – and must do, because they are at its very heart.

The lesson of Corbyn’s much-improved polling, according to Freedland, is this:

If May is returned with a Commons presence far below the expectations of even a month ago, it will suggest that one more bit of conventional wisdom needs to be retired along with all the rest. It will prove that campaigns matter.

But that is not the real lesson. The turnaround in Labour’s fortunes is not chiefly about the party getting its act together, staying on-message and communicating better with the media. Rather, it is that the formal requirements of an election campaign – equal coverage, reporting the speeches of candidates, leaders’ debates – have made it much harder for the media, especially the broadcasters, to entirely obscure Corbyn’s winning qualities. His honesty, warmth and humanity eclipse May’s stiff, evasive and charmless demeanour.

It was precisely those qualities in Corbyn that proved so attractive to voters in the Labour leadership elections. He inspires a rare passion for politics when he is heard. That is why he is the only politician filling stadiums. That is why the Labour party now has hundreds of thousands of members, making it the largest party in Europe. That is why young people have been registering for the election in record numbers.

The demographic breakdown of support for Corbyn and May is largely generational. Corbyn enjoys a huge lead among young people, while May can rely on overwhelming backing from those aged over-65.

It may be comforting to imagine this is simply the natural order of things. Radicalism is the preserve of those starting out in life, while old age encourages caution and conservatism. This may be one factor in explaining the generational divide, but it clearly will not suffice. In much of the post-Thatcher era, the young have proved to be even more conservative than their parents.

The reason for the Corbyn-May split has to be found elsewhere.

The fact is that the young are least likely to trust the traditional, corporate media, and most likely to seek out information from alternative sources and social media, which have been fairer to Corbyn. Youtube clips of Corbyn’s speeches, for example, are one way to bypass the corporate media.

Conversely, elderly voters are mostly still relying on the BBC, Sky and the Daily Mail for the bulk of their information about politics. The over-65s have little sense of who Corbyn is apart from what they are told by a media deeply wedded to the current neoliberal order he is threatening to disrupt.

But neither Freedland nor Jones has been prepared to admit that all of the corporate media – not just their trusted scapegoat of the “rightwing press” – have been to blame for preventing Corbyn getting a fair hearing. It is an admission they cannot make because it would expose their own complicity in a media system designed to advance the interests of corporate power over people power, oligarchy over democracy.

A desire to avoid facing this simple truth has led to some quite preposterously contorted reasoning by Freedland. In a commentary before his recent reappraisal of Corbyn, he dismissed suggestions that the media had played any significant role in the Labour leader’s troubles. Freedland cited two focus groups he had witnessed. It is worth quoting the section at length to understand quite how ridiculous his logic is.

With no steer from the moderator, who remained studiedly neutral, they described Jeremy Corbyn as a “dope”, “living in the past”, “a joke”, as “looking as if he knows less about it than I do”. One woman admired Corbyn’s sincerity; one man thought his intentions were good. But she reckoned he lacked “the qualities to be our leader”; and he believed Corbyn was simply too “soft”. …

Corbyn’s defenders will blame the media, but what was striking about these groups was that few of the participants ever bought a paper and they seldom watched a TV bulletin. Corbynites may try to blame disloyal MPs, but, whatever its impact elsewhere, none of that Westminster stuff had impinged on either of these two groups, who couldn’t name a single politician besides May, Corbyn and Boris Johnson. They had formed their own, perhaps instinctive, view.

Blaming others won’t do.

How do people form an “instinctive view” on political matters, if they never read a paper, never watch TV and never attend a political rally? Through the ethers?

The answer should be obvious. They can do so only through conversations with, or impressions gained from, family, friends, acquaintances and work colleagues who do watch TV and read papers. Given that it is impossible for most voters to see Corbyn in the flesh, most are either getting their information and opinions directly mediated for them by the media, or receiving the mediated information second-hand, from people they know who have been influenced by the media.

Freedland’s assumption that it is possible for voters to form a view instinctively that Corbyn is a “dope” – the view of him that has been uniformly cultivated by the media – is laughable. It is evidence of a profound unwillingness to confront the power of the media, and his own irresponsible complicity in wielding that power.

Corbyn is a “dope” not because that’s the way he’s seen by voters. He is a “dope” because that is the way he has been characterised for two years by all of the media, including the Guardian. The fact that a growing number of voters are starting to question whether Corbyn is quite the dope they assumed is because he has finally had a chance to talk to voters directly, even if in the leaders’ debate Jeremy Paxman did his best to prevent Corbyn from forming a complete sentence.

If we had a fair, pluralistic media driven primarily by the desire to serve the public’s interests rather than those of corporations, who can doubt that Corbyn would be winning hands-down in the polls?

May 1, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 2 Comments

Why is Owen Jones helping to subvert Jeremy Corbyn?

By Jonathan Cook | Dissident Voice | February 15, 2017

I have never been overly sold on Owen Jones. From his platform at the Guardian, he has spent far too much time whining about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his failure to reach out to voters rather than using his rare spot in the mainstream media to help him to do precisely that.

But this news has knocked me sideways. It was announced yesterday that Jones is lined up to give a memorial lecture in April on behalf of the Jewish Labour Movement – the same group implicated in the recent efforts of the Israeli embassy to damage a Corbyn-led Labour party with confected allegations of anti-semitism. All of this was exposed last month in an undercover Al Jazeera investigation.

The Jewish Labour Movement was effectively shown to be acting as a front for the Israeli government’s efforts to oust Corbyn over a supposed anti-semitism crisis in the party. Israel hates Corbyn because of his long-standing position in support of Palestinian rights.

The announcement of Jones’ lecture was written by Ella Rose, the former Israeli embassy official who tried to conceal her past after she became the director of the Jewish Labour Movement.

She was one of those caught on Al Jazeera’s hidden cameras – in her case threatening to beat up black-Jewish Labour party activist Jackie Walker, who has been the prime target of these phoney anti-semitism allegations. None of this is secret history. I first wrote about the Jewish Labour Movement’s role in trying to subvert Corbyn back in September.

It is not even as though we can credit Jones with some kind of live-and-let-live attitude to free speech. Remember back in 2013 he pulled out at the last minute, and without warning, as a speaker at an important Stop the War rally to prevent British military intervention in Syria. His grounds? He had come under fire from the armchair interventionists because he was to speak alongside Mothers Agnes, a Syrian-based nun who was seen as being too pro-Assad. (The reasons Syrian Christians like Mother Agnes might support Bashar al-Assad were pretty obvious even then, but are blindingly so now.)

Mother Agnes pulled out of the rally to try to salvage it, but Jones continued to refuse to take part.

I criticised Jones then over his cowardly and irresponsible behaviour. Now he needs to explain how the principles that drove him away from the Stop the War rally can allow him to support a group, the Jewish Labour Movement, that is so clearly and maliciously attempting to subvert the elected leader of the Labour party.

Owen Jones has responded to this blog post both on Twitter, calling it “tedious nonsense” in his usual, dismissive style, and with a post here that tries to deflect attention from my argument with a straw man: that a conspiracy theory is painting him as a stooge of the Israeli government.

No conspiracy is being posited here – only very, very poor judgment. I have also not accused him of working on behalf of the Israeli government. Only of assisting, presumably thoughtlessly, those who are working on behalf of the Israeli government inside the Jewish Labour Movement, including most definitely its current director, Ella Rose.

Sadly, though predictably, he has avoided addressing the point of my criticism.

It is great that he wants to pay his respects to a friend’s late father, and I am sure there are responsible ways he can do that. But one of them is certainly not by adding his name and credibility to an organisation that was recently exposed by an undercover investigation to have been acting as a front for Israeli government efforts to subvert the elected leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

The Jewish Labour Movement has been working to confect allegations of anti-semitism against other Labour party members. That is a serious form of verbal violence against members of Jones’ own party that has the power to do its victims great harm, personally and professionally.

Let’s not also forget, as I pointed out, that Ella Rose, who will be hosting Owen Jones’ lecture, was filmed threatening physical violence against a fellow Labour party member, Jackie Walker.

I was astounded that Jones accepted this offer from the Jewish Labour Movement. I am even more astonished that he is so casually dismissive of the very real harm caused by the actions of this organisation and its leaders.

Update 2:

Depressing to see that Owen Jones has now retweeted approvingly a conspiracy theory against critics like me. Apparently we are CIA-funded.  Paradoxically, in Jones’ original response, he accused his critics of being “conspiracy theorists”.

February 16, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Owen Jones: vote for Hillary because when she’s POTUS we can ask her nice to be progressive

By Catte | OffGuardian | July 26, 2016

Owen Jones – one time darling of the liberal Left, is now, officially, endorsing Hillary Clinton.

True, they changed the headline shortly after publication. It originally read “The Sanders movement is bigger than Bernie. Now it must work with Hillary” But someone snuck in with the scissors and paste and now the headline reads “The Sanders movement is bigger than Bernie. Now it must defeat Trump”.

But even if this might make Jones and his supporters feel a tad less queasy, it changes nothing. No matter how many sophisms and evasions are employed to try and make it seem he’s still standing by his principles even while he’s openly flouting all of them, Jones, who last year was defending Corbyn, is now endorsing Hillary “I will obliterate Iran” Clinton,

But you see Owen wants us to understand that Clinton isn’t Trump. And being not-Trump is always better than being Trump. So, even though Clinton also isn’t progressive, or honest, or sane, and even though she has no interest in helping the disadvantaged or rebuilding social infrastructure, and even though she conducted state business on a private email server so no one would be able to tell what nefarious and illegal, and potentially insanely dangerous things she was doing, and even though she presided over the Honduras debacle, and even though she authorised and gloated over the illegal murder of a foreign head of state, and even though she has threatened to “obliterate” Iran and take the confrontations with Russia and China to new heights that really might result in WW3, we absolutely have to get behind her because – hello – she isn’t Trump. And anyhow if we get her to be POTUS and make sure there are lots of lovely Democrats in Congress, maybe we can ask them to please do some of the socialist things Bernie talked about. They will probably say yes, of course And anyhow, Owen’s not sure if he mentioned this but Hillary isn’t Trump

Yes, this is what passes for political analysis when the neolibs are slipping you wads of cash to endorse the unendorsable, the discredited and the morally broken.

The likes of Jones are paid to surrender their dignity and ethics and pretend this macabre farce is something called “democracy”, and to sell the decaying relics offered up for candidacy as if they were real choices. That doesn’t mean we have to pretend to believe them. If I were a US citizen I’d take the only truly free choice left and decline to play this game of fake reality any longer. And if we all did that, the game would be over, wouldn’t it.

July 27, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 2 Comments

Mother Agnes Mariam: In Her Own Words

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By Sharmine Narwani | Mideast Shuffle | November 29, 2013

American national security journalist Jeremy Scahill and leftist British columnist Owen Jones announced recently that they would not share a platform with a Palestinian-Lebanese nun at the Stop The War Coalition’s November 30 UK conference.

Neither Scahill nor Jones provided any reason for their harsh “indictment” of Mother Agnes Mariam, who has worked tirelessly for the past few years on reconciliation in war-torn Syria, where she has lived for two decades.

The journalists – neither of whom have produced any notable body of work on Syria – appear to have followed the lead of a breed of Syria “activists” who have given us doozies like “Assad is about to fall,” “Assad has no support,” “the opposition is peaceful,” “the opposition is unarmed,” “this is a popular revolution,” “the revolution is not foreign-backed,” “there is no Al Qaeda in Syria,” “the dead are mostly civilians,” and other such gems.

For some of these activists, anything short of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s departure is no solution of any kind. Mother Agnes Mariam, whose Mussalaha (Reconciliation) movement inside Syria works specifically on mediation, dialogue and the promotion of non-violence, is unmoved by black-and-white solutions: Reconciliation, after all, is a series of political settlements forged on both local and national levels. There are only compromises there, not absolute gain. She doesn’t actually care who leads Syria and who wins or loses, providing the choice comes from a Syrian majority.

Yet the smear “Assad apologist” persists in following Mother Agnes on her visits to foreign capitals to gain support for Massalaha and its methods. It puts her at risk on the ground in Syria and inhibits her ability to open communications with those who would otherwise welcome the relief she brings.

When Scahill and Jones announced they would not share a platform with Mother Agnes at the STWC conference, she withdrew so as not to undermine the event’s anti-war unity objective. But instead of bringing this incident to a close, a maelstrom has erupted around the actions of the two journalists: “Who are they to pass judgement? Why would reporters seek to censor any voice?”

Award-winning British journalist and author Jonathan Cook perhaps put it best in his piece entitled “Bowing before the inquisitors on Syria”:

“Scahill and Jones have not done something principled or progressive here. They are trying to stay ‘onside’ with the corporate media, the main political parties and the Syria war-mongers. In short, they are looking out for their careers…They are looking to keep their credibility within a wider political system that, they otherwise seem to acknowledge, is deeply compromised and corrupt. In this episode, they are not chiefly worrying about countering moves towards an attack or saving Syrian lives, even while they claim this is exactly what their participation is about.”

Both journalists are outspoken against the censorship of information by the “establishment media” so it is particularly galling to see them succumb to the bullying narratives that have so dominated Syria coverage in the mainstream. In their own domain and area of expertise they don’t trust establishment voices, so why trust them in any other arena? This rather obvious contradiction has turned the tables on Scahill/Jones – if anything, generating interest in Mother Agnes and what she has to say.

Time to give her that platform back – no need for others to filter your information, you can judge for yourself below. And because so much of this debate has taken place on Twitter and the blogosphere, I invited “tweeps” from all sides of the Syrian divide to pose some questions too:

So without further ado, here is Mother Agnes Mariam, in her own words:

Did the Stop The War Coalition ask you to withdraw from their anti-war conference or did you choose to do so of your own volition?

I was invited to this conference, then I was informed about people that were against my coming and threatening to blow it up because of me. I preferred to immediately withdraw for the sake of this conference. Now, to tell you the truth I also have fear that this conference will not be useful, because these people attending are not applying non-violence principles. Non-violence principles means to be open to all adversaries. We can deal with people who don’t think like us. A non-violent approach is to dialogue precisely with people who are different. For a peace conference to begin like this, I felt like it is not a peace conference.

Have you ever heard of Jeremy Scahill and Owen Jones before this?

No, not at all. Who are they? Didn’t even notice who the people were. I heard about this from my organizer – that some people opposed even my presence. I understand everybody – I have been in dialogue with precisely the kind of people who opposed my presence. But it is the first time I hear their names, so no, I don’t know them. I’m not a person in the “scene.” (laughs)

What do you think of the attempt to censor views on Syria – and does your own experience this week have any correlation with how the mainstream media has covered Syria for almost three years?

You know, before working in reconciliation, I thought the so-called “democratic world” was really protecting freedom of expression and political choices. I am not involved with politics but they are ‘framing’ me; politicizing me. Am very shocked to learn that in this democratic world it is forbidden to think differently, talk differently and act differently from people who proclaim themselves as the ‘absolute reference’ for public opinion. This is a campaign of defamation. I am threatened by them: not by Jabhat al-Nusra, with whom I sometimes have good relations, or Al Qaeda – but by French media, by prominent leaders and CEOs of catholic NGOs, and by reporters. Am really astonished at how a reporter can become a prosecutor and a judge and can issue the sentence, and I am afraid that he can apply this sentence because today I see he works in total impunity.

Some media outlets and activists have accused you of brokering a civilian evacuation in rebel-held Moadamiya, only to hand them over to the Syrian authorities. What actually happened?

It was a purely humanitarian endeavor. Our (Mussalaha) team receives calls from all over Syria asking us to investigate people who have disappeared, to find out conditions for their release, to mediate on prisoner exchanges, to get food supplies to populations in need, how to transport humanitarian aid to hot areas, how to bring medical equipment to dangerous areas, how to arrange ceasefires, how to help violent opponents to shift to non-violence. We help to implement a non-violent spirit – we work with everybody, all sides, to do this.

This particular evacuation was requested by the civilian population itself in Mouadamiya. We have Mussalaha team members from Mouadamiya who are mediators. We were addressing the humanitarian issue in Moadamiya for many months before this, to try to make reconciliation from a violent opposition to a non-violent opposition. And when I saw photos of starving children on the Facebook – like in Biafra – I went to the Syrian Minister of Social Affairs Kinda al-Chammat to say this was not acceptable and that we should do something. Then we made contact with all the world health groups and international NGOs – we had talks with them to provide food. A caravan of more than 20 trucks was ready to enter Moadamiya, but it was forbidden to enter. It is difficult to say by who – I think it was from the army that was besieging this rebel stronghold, but also from the warlords that fix enormous prices to provide the entrance of food. Minister Chammat was really open to finding a solution, I said if they are not giving us the green light, I will go myself to take the 18 children who were under threat of dying. So we were entrusted to negotiate with the notables and the families in Moadamiya. Our mediators (also from Moadamiya) were surprised when whole families expressed the wish to be evacuated – because they are the families of the rebels, and to ask to be evacuated means they will be relying on the government. When we heard this we thought it was an easier and safer solution because if you bring in food but the violence continues, those civilians will be harmed anyway.

You know, under the Geneva Convention, it is illegal to transform a residential area into a battleground and if you do that you cannot keep civilians there like human shields. So the evacuation was motivated first by the desire of the families (not all, you know). The first project was to evacuate 100-200 women and children without any of their belongings, because there was a big fear that undisciplined members from either side would breach the ceasefire. It was delicate. Then on the very day, Minister Chammat, seeing hundreds of women and children arriving, told us “let as many who want to leave come out, because we cannot make discrimination,” so she made it open for that day. The government agreed to let us go alone; we were not escorted. All this was done in negotiations between the ministry and the governor of rural Damascus. Our responsibility was to bring the civilians to the barricade, but when we went there the rebels did not allow the women to proceed. I concluded, through contacts with the families that they were willing to come out, but we had to negotiate directly with the rebels. So I took a white flag into the area called no man’s land. I was followed by two of our mediators and by Sister Carmel – and it was heroic from her because she is a fearful person but she didn’t want me to go alone. There were tens of young rebel men, some armed, others not. And we were taken on a tour to see the destruction of the city and they asked us to come to the military council. (A video of Mother Agnes inside Moadamiya can be viewed here) They gave us security assurance. The commander arrived and they asked me to make a statement, which they recorded by video. But then we were detained, they wanted us to remain like ransom in exchange to let the women go out. We were hearing many noises and even gunfire while we were waiting. Then a real battle broke out – it was a big danger for everybody. We noticed that among them there was no unity, each would say their own thing. Finally, another leader came and agreed to the evacuation. Many of the leaders of fighters wanted their own families to leave. Others who don’t have families didn’t care. All we did was to answer a humanitarian request from rebel families.

In total, we evacuated 6,600 women and children – we have all their names, they are all registered. More than 200 are not registered because they left immediately with relatives. Also 650 young men came on their own to surrender. The army considered them as fighters. A few were badly wounded and they were taken to hospital. The (media) criticism was based on fake stories because the opposition (not the ones in Moadamiyada) do not want to accept the success of reconciliation based on mediation between the government and rebels. And because – after the success of the Moadamiya evacuation – ten other points in Syria have asked for the same mediation. Yesterday, for example, we had another evacuation – from Beit Sahm I believe – who were evacuated temporarily until the violence ceases. These critics said many were killed, abducted, raped when they came out of Moadamiya. Yes, there have been some errors and undisciplined acts. For instance, nine of the women were robbed. Volunteers from the ‘popular committees’ robbed their gold. We have done this evacuation in three separate days. On the first day we had 20 boys that were arrested, but we launched a campaign about this and they have been released. There are only two young boys now who are detained. We are still following up to secure them. The rebels with whom we have negotiated have entrusted us with their families, and they are the families of leaders and fighters, not just normal families. Until today, the two boys who disappeared after the Moadamiya evacuations are a problem for me and my credibility with the rebels. I am struggling with the authorities to find these boys right now.

The other major attack against you stems from a report you wrote about the aftermath of an alleged chemical weapons (CW) attack in Ghouta. You are accused of whitewashing the incident, blaming rebels for it and even charging children of “faking death.” How do you respond to these charges?

I have been accused of denying CW attacks, of protecting the Syrian regime and of accusing the rebels of launching those attacks. I have never said this. In the forward of a study I did on this, I affirm: I am not an expert. I am not talking on a military basis, or a forensic or medical basis. I just questioned some videos. It started because I was asked by the parents – survivors of a terrible massacre in the Latakia mountains – to help find some children abducted with women after the massacre. Some had recognized their children in the pictures of the chemical attacks. They delegated me to look into this for them. I was tracking those children in the videos – without this task I would not have had any incentive to look at the videos. My work at the monastery was in iconography and restoration (preservation) – I am very used to using my eyes to look for tiny details. I noticed discrepancies in the videos. I came to look at them for one thing (the abducted children) and in the process I discovered these videos were fake. When I went to Geneva to the commissioners in the Human Rights Council, I told them about my findings in relation to the missing children and the videos, and they said they would be interested to have something written. I do not incriminate anybody in this study. I do not pretend to decide if there was a CW attack or not. There were discrepancies and I am simply asking questions. The study was done in a hurry – we even said it was a beta version. Now I am finalizing the study that will introduce even more evidence. Those videos – numbers 1, 6, 11, 13 among the 13 videos claimed by the US intelligence community as authenticated and verified to be presented to Congress as genuine evidence of CW attacks – are fake, staged and pre-fabricated. Nobody thus far is answering my charges – they are incriminating me without answering. My goal in this is to find the children; that’s my only goal. If they were used for staging, are they alive? Where are they now? If they are alive they must be returned to their families. If they are dead, we want to see their bodies to bury them so their parents can mourn them and we want to know how they were put to death and where. I am asking to see the graves where 1,466 alleged corpses are buried in Ghouta and to take from the pit samples to conduct an honest inquiry. Because I doubt that there is such a pit.

Question from Twitter user ‏‪@MortenHj‬: “Can she elaborate on how she conduct her talks between the warring sides? How do they acknowledge her; promise safety?”

Normally, we are called by the rebel sides who invite us for some settlements. Usually Syrian fighters either want to shift to non-violence, surrender and continue their lives, or they want us to mediate an exchange between abductees and detainees. We mediate among the responsible parties in government, like the ministry of justice and ministry of social affairs – it depends, since each case has its own context. We do it on a neutral basis – we are mediators, not part of the conflict. We want to ease the fate of civilians and we consider the fate of the Syrian rebels. We do not care about foreign fighters. Those foreign fighters are legally not allowed to enter or be in Syria. But we have special care for the Syrian fighters. We consider them as victims. A 17 or 18-year-old boy who is to be jailed, his mother is crying, what am I to do?

We talk via phone or Skype, sometimes we visit them as I did in many places. Sometimes the leader of a rebel group come to see me in a disguised way. Our (more detailed) talks are preferably face to face to build trust and transparency.

Sometimes you have rebels who request the release of their people who have been captured, others want to surrender – they don’t want anymore to participate in the armed struggle. Sometimes the liberal factions ask for help against the radical factions. I always say that between Syrians there is not a real wall. There is not a watertight impervious wall, so we receive many requests. We have had meetings with Jabhat al Nusra (JaN). When they are Syrians they can be flexible, when they are radical (foreigners) they will not talk to you, they will kill you. It’s like the Baggara tribe of around 3 million – they have relatives in Liwa al-Tawhid and JaN too. Half the tribe are loyalists, half are opposition. And this is a hope for the future. Everybody can talk to everybody. Once in Raqqa they put me on the phone with the emir because they wanted dialysis equipment for their hospital and so we mediated and the ministry of health sent 3 dialysis machines for the sake of the civilian population. I am always astonished how my people in the reconciliation committee know everybody.

Question from Twitter user @Kreasechan – What does she think should happen to those in command positions in the regime who have committed or commissioned war crimes and crimes against humanity?

I will tell you something. All this ‘apparatus of incriminations’ is politicized. If you can read between the lines of the report of the international Commission of Inquiry, you will see that the Syrian government has a hierarchy so it is easy to incriminate the government as a whole. But the rebels don’t have a hierarchy – you have 2,000 different battalions. Every time you see violence by rebels, large scale ones with hundreds of civilians now killed every week on a sectarian basis… If you study the more than 100,000 dead in Syria, you will be surprised to see that more than 45% of them are from the army and security forces. Then you have 35% of civilians among those dead, more than half of whom are killed by opposition. Then you have 15-20% of dead who are rebels. So it is not true to say the government is the only one perpetrating things against human rights. The Commission of Inquiry will have to work without political pressure to implement a good inquiry where everyone will be heard, because we are scandalized that light is shed on one side, but not on the other side. I know by saying this, they will incriminate me. But in reality, I am on side of the victims – I care that they will be heard. If you don’t hear from every side, these victims will continue to be under violence with impunity. We must ask accountability from everybody. Those incriminated by a fair, unbiased inquiry will have to pay their crimes, even those who have instigated and financed sectarian crimes.

Question from Twitter user @Paciffreepress – Do you love Assad, Mother Agnes?

I live in Syria and I have a burden on my shoulders for Syria. I believe beheading Syria from its government is a dangerous aggression when the UN still continues to consider the government of Assad to be the legal government. I rely on the UN position, which is the legal position. I consider that the dismantling of any State is a crime against humanity because it deprives the citizens of their citizenship and from their legality. They become pariahs. The Syrian people should decide through fair elections.

Question from Twitter user @r3sho – What is her opinion about Kurdish autonomy in Syria?

I am with the Syrian people – they will choose their own way, even if they want to make a federation or whatever. I am personally against the division of Syria, but federalism is up to the people. In my view, dividing a country is an aggression, but if the country decides to be a federation, it is a legal thing. They are free to do so.

Question from Twitter user ‏@broodmywarcraft: what does she have to say to those who call her a stooge for Assad?

I am a stooge only for peace, not for Assad. I am for peace through reconciliation. I am for dialogue and I am for discussing issues with everybody who wants to discuss peace. If any Syrian, on any side of this horrible conflict wishes to discus peace or work toward peace through reconciliation, I am ready to help.

Question from Twitter user ‏@bangpound: Does she still think the children were faking it in Ghouta?

They were not faking it. I never said that at all. I believe that they were either under anesthesia or that they were killed. But as the videos are fake, my terrible question is what were they doing with them?

Question from Twitter user ‏@Nouraltabbaa: If she is trying to perform a Mussalaha why is she meeting with Ali Kayyali and other militias but not the opposition fighters?

For some hard cases, I have to go beyond the civil administration to negotiate with the warlords. We go there officially as a reconciliation committee, accompanied by some Muslim clerics. I have to mediate with the opposition and the government and the popular committees. I have to mediate with everyone.

Question from Twitter user ‏@HRIMark: What effect is the campaign of defamation and threats against her having on her and her work?

It affects my life. I cannot go back to my monastery. I was saved by the Free Syrian Army (FSA). They informed me about orders to abduct and kill me by foreign parties. They helped me to go out from Qara and they protected our monastery and they have not, to this day, given me the green light to return. A lot of them were workers in our monastery.

Question from Twitter user ‏‪@Net_News_Global‬: Ask her, if she thinks, that there was, besides murderous propaganda, a real CW attack.

We have witnesses and ‘social sensors’ everywhere in Damascus. Until today we have received 88 claims of death in Moadamiya (from the August 21 attack).

We are told they were not killed because of sarin, that they were killed because of heavy shelling from the army and from suffocation from heavy shelling. The deceased were together in a shelter and they suffocated from this. Moadamiya people told us this. One of the reasons that I would like to see the graves is because 1,466 deaths is a real “social tsunami” in the Syrian society where everybody knows everybody and everybody is related. In the case of East Ghouta, we did not even have one case show up. We did not know of one single person who is dead. You know, to have relatives claiming this – the brother, the friend – nobody did. We did not have the “echo” of the death of 1,466 people. We are asking for a neutral inquiry with the presence of witnesses from both sides, where they will open the pits, see the victims, they will take samples randomly – where they took it, how they took it, etc. Samples should be sent to 5 labs under the same conditions and precautions. Until then there is a question mark on everything. I cannot say yes, I cannot say no.

Question from Twitter user ‏‪@tob_la‬: How would she describe her relationship with Syrian intelligence services?

There is no relationship. This is despite the wild allegations of some people who believe that the heads of the Syrian intelligence meet with me, a simple nun, on a daily basis. Do you believe that these people would spare such time?

I have no “relations” with such authorities. As mediators we have to deal with these people when necessary. And without my mediation task I don’t have anything to do with them.

Question from Twitter user ‏‪@MortenHj‬: What does she view as the biggest problem facing the refugees, especially children, with the approaching winter. How can anyone support?

This is a very big problem. We need warm clothes, blankets urgently. During my trip in the US – from California – they are sending me a container with a special kind of textile that is very warm. “Oakley” warm clothing. We can provide for the local diaspora or NGOs to come collect these things from anywhere in the world and send them in containers to Syria. We are trying to do a big push for winter now. We’re also getting some tents. I will be going back to the US where an NGO will be providing us with something that resembles tents, but is rectangular. We are planning to get thousands of these – one per family. You have whole neighborhoods that are destroyed. Instead of displacing residents outside their areas, I would like to return them to their home, even if it is destroyed, and put them on their land in a refurbished structure. Like this, slowly by slowly they can rebuild their homes.

Question by Twitter user ‏@edwardedark: Could you please ask her why the Vatican has not been more outspoken on the plight of Christians in Syria?

I don’t know – maybe because the Vatican and all of us we are in solidarity with all the civilian population in Syria and we don’t want to emphasize a sectarian dimension because we viewed this as artificial. Christians have shared the same fate as Muslims in Syria – everybody faced the same violence. Monsignor Mamberti and the Pope are finally expressing their sadness for the sectarian nature that the conflict is taking, I think because now there is too much targeting of Christians now in Maaloula, Sadad, Qara, Deir Atieh, Nabek and other places. Every day Christian buses, schools are being targeted. In Bab Touma, Bab Sharqi, Jaramana, Kasa’a, Malki…

Now the Vatican is talking. Mgr. Mamberti is saying loudly and clearly that The Holy See cares about unity, sovereignty, and the place of the minorities so they will not be isolated, cornered, or forgotten. The Holy See is promoting reconciliation, dialogue and a peaceful settlement of the crisis. They are against the arming of any side. They want more creativity for peace and not creativity for war. What I found outstanding about the Monsignor’s recent comments is that he said the Syrian people should isolate the foreigners, distance themselves and denounce them. This is a very clear statement against foreign intervention. Then he opened the issue of humanitarian aid and the dialogue between religions – interfaith dialogue. This is not the task of experts, but the task of everybody, the believers. So there is a real change in language from the Vatican. The Holy See is no longer shy about Syria – and to tell you the truth, it is time. What is left for the Christians in Syria otherwise?

~

Follow Sharmine Narwani on Twitter, Facebook, and Al Akhbar English

Mother Agnes is now on Twitter https://twitter.com/MotherAgnesMari

December 1, 2013 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Activist Group Issues Statement on Mother Agnes and the Campaign Against Her

By Richard Edmondson | Fig Trees and Vineyards | November 26, 2013

The Solidarity Collective, a group of activists endeavoring to promote greater unity among the various alignments and groupings that make up the political left, has released a statement on the smear campaign being waged against Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross. Taken to task in the statement are leftwing journalists Jeremy Scahill and Owen Jones over their threat to back out of a London antiwar conference this weekend should they have to share a platform with Mother Agnes. Calling their “no platform” position “totally unacceptable,” the Collective deplores the attacks upon the Syrian nun and says it fully supports her right to be heard.

“We fully support the brave move by the London Catholic Worker group based at Guiseppe Conlon House who have invited Mother Agnes to a meeting during their retreat,” the statement reads. “It is only when we are fully informed on the Syrian conflict by those who live daily with the consequences that we will be be in a position to make decisions.”

Back in early September, when a US attack on Syria appeared imminent, I published an article entitled US Jews Back War on Syria But ‘Downplay’ Israel Angle. At that time AIPAC, the ADL, and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations had all issued statements supporting a military strike on Syria, but as I noted—and as a Jewish media outlet also noted—none of the statements mentioned Israel. It was as if Israel’s role in all this were being deliberately downplayed. I posted that article on September 5. One day later, on September 6, RT published an interview with Mother Agnes in which she discussed her belief that videos uploaded to the Internet in the immediate wake of the August 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria had been fabricated. Three days after that, on September 9, came the formal release of the ISTEAMS report providing convincing evidence this was indeed the case.

Just as it has been clear for a long time that prominent Jews would like to see the US go to war in Syria, so also has it been obvious to me for a while now that the attacks on Mother Agnes are Zionist motivated. And apparently this is growing obvious to others as well. The Solidarity Collective’s statement in fact discusses the role played by one Zionist in particular:

A marvellous smear campaign as designed by Michael D Weiss has done much to further the cause of promoting her [Mother Agnes] as an Assad apologist and all round devious character. Incidentally some of the highlights of his CV are as follows: former director of Zionist pressure group Just Journalism whose stated concerns included ‘how Israel and Middle East issues are reported in UK media’, former fellow at Neo-Conservative war lobby think-tank  Henry Jackson Society, he is a lead rebel advocate with Now Lebanon and also the author of proposals for US intervention for the Syrian opposition.

Weiss’ loathsome attack on Mother Agnes, in which he refers to her sarcastically as a “humble, pot-smoking emissary of God,” can be found here.

A little bit more from the Solidarity Collective’s statement is also instructive:

Much of the slander is sustained by her self proclaimed mission to provide what she believes are the true narratives of the conflict which are routinely, she says, misrepresented in global media. One such incident is the August 21st 2013 chemical attack in Damascus. The accepted truth as ‘assessed’ by the US government is that the attack was carried out by the Assad Regime. There was a threat of mass-resignation of CIA workers who refused to have their names attached to the document published pertaining to this ‘fact’. Mother Agnes as well as some credible impartial sources insist that it is much more likely that this was a rebel attack.

You can access the full statement here. A few days ago I wrote an article in which I commented that Mother Agnes “has considerably undermined the Western narrative on events in Syria,” and that obviously this has “upset a lot of plans and made a lot of people mad.” Judging from the timing of the events of early September, as I related above, this would seem to be the case.

November 27, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Solidarity and Activism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mother Agnes and the Self Destruction of the Political Left

By Richard Edmondson | Fig Trees and Vineyards | November 23, 2013

Leftist luminaries Jeremy Scahill and Owen Jones attempted to cast aspersions upon Mother Agnes, but instead they have brought discredit not only upon themselves, but upon the conference at which they are to speak in London next Saturday. We should not be surprised at the way all this has turned out.

As I reported previously, Scahill and Jones announced they would not take part in an antiwar conference organized by the Stop the War Coalition should they have to share the same platform with Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross, a Syrian nun who has worked tirelessly to bring about an end to the bloodshed in her country. As yet, no explanation or elaboration has been offered by the pair as justification for their laying down of such an ultimatum. But for her own part, Mother Agnes has taken steps to ensure they will not have to undergo the abhorrent ordeal of appearing with her. She has pulled out of the conference.

In the war in Syria, or more precisely in the way the war has been reported, radically different narratives have been presented, narratives that are, and have been, almost completely counter to one another. In one view, that reported by Western mainstream media, Syrian President Bashar Assad is a brutal, criminal dictator intent on killing his own people, while those fighting to bring his government down are freedom fighters (although following the posting of a video showing one of the freedom fighters eating a human organ, the media shifted slightly and began allowing that “some” of the insurgents were extremists). By contrast, the picture presented by Russian and other foreign media, and on blogs like this one, is that Assad has the support of a sizeable portion of the Syrian people and that the conflict has little or nothing to do with democracy. Instead it is aimed at effecting regime change to the benefit of Gulf oil monarchies as well as the West and Israel. Also in this view, Assad, while not perfect, is not nearly as ogreish and demonic as he is made out to be in the Western media.

It comes down to who has the greater credibility—the Western, and principally US, media, which promoted the war in Iraq on the basis of false claims about weapons of mass destruction, or Russian media outlets like RT, who have no record of peddling lies in an effort to justify wars. You would think that for leftists the choice would be clear. But for some reason, Scahill, a reporter for The Nation, and Jones, who has a column in The Independent, have taken a position that possibly would suggest they accord the Western media the greater credibility—at least insofar as the Syrian war in general, and Mother Agnes in particular, are concerned.

Those favoring US intervention in Syria no doubt had their hopes raised by the August 21 chemical weapons attack. An all out escalation into a regional and possibly even global conflict seemed imminent, but the hopes of warmongers were dashed through some clever statesmanship by Vladimir Putin and also after Mother Agnes released a 50-page report introducing evidence that some of the videos uploaded immediately after the attack had been staged and scripted and suggesting that the attack might have been carried out not by the Syrian government but by the opposition. You can read the full report here. Decide for yourself whether you think it’s credible.

My own take on it all is that through her report, as well as through her presence, her holiness, and her actions—including the evacuation of more than 5,000 people from a besieged town in October—Mother Agnes has considerably undermined the Western narrative on events in Syria. And that obviously has upset a lot of plans and made a lot of people mad.

“Why did the invitation from Stop the War to a nun working to stop war raise objections?” asks William M. Boardman in an article posted Thursday. Boardman goes on to comment, “It’s hard to find any evidence that Mother Agnes has committed anything worse than what others consider thought-crimes and politically incorrect obeservations, some of which are actually correct.”

So was somebody pressuring Scahill and Jones to disassociate themselves from Mother Agnes? Did they think doing so would advance their careers? Did Scahill think it would win him additional appearances on the Rachel Maddow Show or CBS Evening News? Is Jones hoping for more exposure on Sky News and the BBC? I don’t have an answer to these questions. I would note only that intoxication of power is not something leftists are especially immune to any more so than anyone else. The main problem is succumbing to such impulses at the expense of someone making a genuine effort to achieve peace.

When faced with a choice between taking a stand based upon principle and one based upon convenience, the left seems to opt more and more for the latter these days, and it is attitudes such as this that are leading it, much like Western society as a whole, toward self destruction. So what should the organizers of the conference do? Here is my suggestion: Re-extend the invitation to Mother Agnes. Do so publicly. She may decline. But you will at least regain some credibility. Should she accept, all the better. And if Jones and Scahill wish to pull out as a result, even better yet. Their presence at the podium at this point is probably more of a liability than an asset in any event. Proceeding under the present conditions—with Scahill and Jones on the bill and the curtain in effect drawn on any participation by Mother Agnes—will cheapen and devalue the event.

November 24, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, False Flag Terrorism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Owen Jones & Mother Agnes. A lesson on conciliatory “leftists”.

By Phil Greaves | notthemsmdotcom | November 17, 2013

Following the news that Mother Agnes Miriam, a nun who heads the Musalaha (reconciliation) initiative in Syria, was due to speak at the Stop The War conference in London, two journalists also due to speak at the event, Jeremy Scahill and Owen Jones, decided to withdraw participation unless Mother Agnes was removed from the speaking list. At the time of writing, neither “journalist” has offered to explain their act of public censure and decision to bolster Zionist-led smear campaigns; aside from a few tweets expressing their “concern” over sharing a platform with an evil Assad-supporting nun. It seems baseless conspiracy theories are more than acceptable in the higher echelons of “professional” journalism, as long as the target of said conspiracy is a supporter of an enemy state of the west and Israel.

The justification for this blatant act of censorship came in the form of a crass campaign of smear and character assassination. One primarily led by outright Israeli/Neo-Conservative propagandist-extraordinaire Michael D. Weiss, a former Director of a now defunct Zionist pressure group called Just Journalism, whose stated goals included focusing on “how Israel and Middle East issues are reported in the UK media.” Weiss, also a former fellow at the Neo-Conservative war-lobby “think-tank” the Henry Jackson Society, is now a lead rebel advocate pimping his “expertise” at Saudi Arabia/Hariri propaganda outlet NOW Lebanon – all whilst writing up US military intervention proposals for the Syrian opposition. It is also no coincidence that Mr. Weiss was a lead proponent of the fairy-tale narratives of one Liz OBagy, an utter fraud sanitizing the image of the rebels on behalf of a US State Department funded rebel lobbying group and the equally hawkish Neo-Conservative PR outlet The Institute for the Study of War. Needless to say, Weiss, and his cabal of pro-rebel Hariri propagandists and Zionist apologists are more than pleased at Jones and Scahill’s somewhat orchestrated decision to pressure Stop the War into dropping Mother Agnes.

Mother Agnes, according to the plethora of pro-rebel US and Zionist media accounts, is an evil “Assad apologist”. As a result of Agnes’ support of the Syrian government and calls for peaceful reconciliation, the Al Qaeda apologists rife within western and Israeli media took it upon themselves to instigate a campaign of hatred-filled smear and baseless accusation.

Since the onset of the Syrian conflict, Mother Agnes has made efforts to combat the skewed narratives emerging from corrupt western, Israeli, and Gulf Oil and Gas media – not least regarding the controversial issue of the alleged chemical weapons attacks in Ghouta, Damascus. Contrary to the smears, Agnes doesn’t deny people died during the incident, nor offer a complete alternative narrative. Her questions surrounding the event are entirely focused on the many inconsistencies and inaccuracies within the “official narrative” and the dubious YouTube videos touted as impartial evidence. It seems the CIA were also less than convinced of the US governments “assessment”; so much so that a mass resignation was threatened if their name was attached to John Kerry’s dodgy dossier. Furthermore, a considerable open source collaborative effort to determine the perpetrator of the alleged chemical weapons attack has drawn the logical, and somewhat scientific conclusion that only the rebels could have been responsible. In addition, the much politicised UN report that attempted to point the finger at the Syrian army has also come under much scrutiny from highly qualified avenues for its poor methodologies and misleading conclusions. Regardless of all the  above, the fact Mother Agnes actually resides in Syria, is the head of an organisation that has mediated between warring factions and enabled the safe evacuation of civilians, and consistently calls for peaceful reconciliation and dialogue, doesn’t count for much in the eyes of rabid western pundits eager to demonize anyone that dare question, or offer a counter narrative to their fabrication-laden fantasies on Syria.

The self-described “leftist” UK political commentator Owen Jones, has written virtually nothing on the Syrian conflict. His understanding of events is largely based on the dominant narratives portrayed in western media. No doubt, like any self-respecting petty bourgeois leftist of London, Jones gets his information from the wests supposed liberal establishment newspapers, who in recent years have stood proudly alongside right-wing media in cheerleading for disastrous western-led wars of aggression. The conflict in Syria has been no exception, the Guardian’s totally skewed coverage,  that lends more from Whitehall/CIA/Mossad talking points than it does reality, has been well documented and debunked. Accordingly, Jones’ ideas on Syria fall in line with this narrative: yes, the “Islamist rebels” are BAD guys (meaning there are some GOOD moderate guys that nobody can find yet, or, in Owen’s case even name), but Assad is a dictator, a war criminal, “barbarous”, “he needs to go”. Any reflection on cause and effect; the long and relevant historical context of US-led subversion and instigation of terrorist insurgencies in the name of “revolution”; or the underlying geopolitical dynamics that helped to create and exacerbate the extremist-led insurgency is far too much nuance for Jones’ simplistic binary narratives: Assad is BAD, and anyone that supports the Syrian government or refuses to support its ouster through coercion or violence is also BAD, by definition. And what then, do Jones’ simplistic definitions mean for the millions of Syrians that still support their President and government? Well, like the nun, they are obviously evil and severely misguided. I mean, what would they know? Living in Syria and all. This stance of vulgar superiority is indicative of the vast undercurrent of western bourgeois Orientalism which still oozes from the pores of western media and its decrepit “journalists” when their stance on “others” threatens to detriment their self-imposed “credibility”.

The informative blog Interventions Watch, explores Jones’ apparent moral confusion further:

Jones is a member and supporter of the Labour party, and thinks other lefties should be as well. As is hardly a secret, Labour is a party that plays host to plenty of major war criminals and apologists for those war criminals, but that apparently isn’t enough for him to want to part ways with them. Indeed, he has in the past quite happily appeared on platforms with John Prescott, who was deputy Prime Minister at the time of the aggression against Iraq – not just an apologist for war crimes then, but an active participant in them.

Yet this predicament seems completely lost on Jones. In one instance, he is a paid-up member of a UK political party that played a lead role in no less than genocide; in an act of military and economic aggression on Iraq totally against International Law, not to mention morality. He sits beside these politicians and pleads with leftist thinkers to join them and “change them from within”. A million or so Iraqi lives can be forgotten, there’s a few good eggs in this elitist manifestation of conciliatory Mensheviks, join us! But when it comes to possibly sharing a stage with a nun from Syria who happens to support her government & army in its fight against a foreign-funded, foreign instigated, foreign-led, and extremist dominated terrorist insurgency, Jones wont be part of it.

This bourgeois trait of selective free-speech through groupthink coercion is indicative of just how corrupt the western media system truly is. Supposed “leftist” anti-war commentators now feel they are an authority to dictate and pressure who should be able to participate in public events, and wilfully swallow the smears of Zionist propagandists rather than do their own research, or, heaven forbid, judge people on the content of what they are actually saying.

Evidently, Jones’ moral outrage is selective at best, one could convincingly argue its nothing more than careerist popularism – with a dash of orientalist superiority for good measure. Sure, sit next to war-criminals of “our” variety, you wont get smeared with the dreaded “apologist” brush in the elitist media you participate and benefit from – hell, most of their “barbarous” crimes are long forgotten, so not much to worry about. But sit next to a nun that supports a current enemy of the west? Forget it.

Stop the War have just released a statement confirming that Mother Agnes has “withdrawn” from the conference. Cheers to Zionist apologists of the apartheid state, propagandists of an Al Qaeda insurgency in Syria, and Owen Jones.

November 19, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Owen Jones and the Stop The War Coalition

Interventions Watch | November 16, 2013

On Saturday the 30th November, the Stop The War Coalition will host a conference to discuss the most effective ways to resist the drive to war against Syria – stalled for now, but not necessarily indefinitely. Due to speak (at the time of writing) are Diane Abbott MP, Seamus Milne, Tariq Ali and Lindsey German, among many others.

To cut a long story short, the Stop the War website is also advertising that Mother Agnes Mariam is due to speak at the conference. Agnes is a christian Nun who is suspected by some observers of the war in Syria of being little more than a mouthpiece for the Assad regime. Let’s just accept for arguments sake that this is true, and that inviting her was a bad idea (I will confess here to not being totally au fait with her views).

The presence of Mother Agnes has lead to Jeremy Scahill, the excellent American investigative journalist, and Owen Jones, a columnist with The Independent newspaper, pulling out of the conference, on the grounds that they don’t want to share a platform with an apologist for war criminals.

But I just want to share a few thoughts on why I think Jones’ position is confused at best.

Jones is a member and supporter of the Labour party, and thinks other lefties should be as well. As is hardly a secret, Labour is a party that plays host to plenty of major war criminals and apologists for those war criminals, but that apparently isn’t enough for him to want to part ways with them.

Indeed, he has in the past quite happily appeared on platforms with John Prescott, who was deputy Prime Minister at the time of the aggression against Iraq – not just an apologist for war crimes then, but an active participant in them.

Jones’ argument for staying a member of Labour is that while he doesn’t agree with these people on various issues, he thinks it’s worth trying to win the argument against them to change the party for the better, from within. It’s not a totally unreasonable position, and I think he’s certainly sincere in arguing it.

Why couldn’t he apply that same logic to the Stop The War Conference though? Say that while he obviously doesn’t agree with the opinions of all the speakers there, he thinks it’s still worth going and making his argument as to what the best anti-war position is or should be? He could even outline why he doesn’t agree with people like Mother Agnes in his talk, and maybe change a few minds.

But no, unlike his continuing embrace of the blood soaked Labour party, he’s just going to shun the conference altogether, thus giving plenty of ammunition to those who are trying to smear Stop The War, and anti-war people in general, as pro-Assad. ‘Even Owen Jones wants nothing to do with them, see!’.

My hunch is that he’s scared of being tarred with a pro-Assad brush, because that would be damaging to his reputation (certainly in the eyes of a state-corporate media Establishment that has embraced him) in a way that being seen as broadly pro-Labour – despite their horrific track record and the massive trail of corpses they left behind them last time they were in power – isn’t, given that Labour are part of that Establishment themselves.

Nuns who’ve made some dodgy comments in defense of the Assad regime? He’ll have no part of it.

A political party who instigated some of the worst and most murderous war crimes of the modern era, and whose leader continues to act as an apologist for the perpetrators, as well as the brutal wars in Afghanistan and Libya? Count him in.

For me, it shows how even some lefties have a moral vision that is badly skewed by power, and the need for Establishment approval, when it comes to assessing and reacting to Their crimes (or even alleged supporters of Their crimes), and Ours

November 18, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 3 Comments

‘Investigative Journalist’ Scahill Takes Swipe at Mother Agnes

By Richard Edmondson | Fig Trees and Vineyards | November 17, 2013

Jeremy Scahill, the “investigative journalist” who once publicly expressed his belief in the official 9/11 story, says he won’t take part in an international antiwar conference scheduled for later this month if he has to share the same platform with Syrian nun Mother Agnes.

“I’ve informed organizers of @STWuk that I will not participate in their conference if Mother Agnes is on the platform,” Scahill tweetetd on Friday.

“@STWuk” is the Stop the War Coalition, which will hold the all-day conference in London on November 30, and which had apparently extended an invitation for Mother Agnes to speak, along with roughly a dozen or so other speakers.

The conference is to include a session on “The Syrian war in context,” and obviously Mother Agnes, who has struggled so hard to end the bloodshed in her country, would have provided a valuable perspective for all in attendance. But she will now no longer speak. In response to the controversy surrounding her participation, she has withdrawn. Blessed are the peacemakers.

Scahill, it seems, isn’t the only speaker in the lineup with an apparent disliking for the Syrian mother superior. British writer Owen Jones, a columnist for The Independent, reportedly also threatened to withdraw should she not be axed from the program.

Mother Agnes is head of the Syrian organization Musalaha (reconciliation). In October she played a key role in the evacuation of more than 5,000 people, mainly women and children, from the besieged town of Moadamiya. An account of the evacuation can be found here. In order for the operation to succeed, it was necessary for Mother Agnes to gain the trust both of government troops as well elements of the Free Syrian Army who were holding the town. Remarkably she seems to have pulled it off. Click here to watch a video of her sharing a dish of olives with one of the rebel leaders and some of her evacuees.

But it isn’t her relationship with the Western-backed mercenaries that has gotten her in trouble. In fact, had she been their vocal champion, she probably wouldn’t be near the controversial figure she is today. But Mother Agnes has seriously undermined the Western narrative of Bashar Assad as a brutal dictator intent on “killing his own people.” In September she published a report suggesting that insurgents, rather than the Assad government, were responsible for the August 21 chemical attack and that videos uploaded immediately after that attack had been staged and doctored. And for her trouble she has been maligned as an “apologist” for the Syrian government and worse. In September the New York Times published a highly-critical piece on her which is analyzed here by blogger Stephen Lendman.

Scahill, an author and frequent contributor to The Nation, is taking heat for his postion. Owen seems to be taking heat as well. Both are heavily criticized in an article by blogger Phil Greaves:

Following the news that Mother Agnes Miriam, a nun who heads the Musalaha (reconciliation) initiative in Syria, was due to speak at the Stop The War conference in London, two journalists also due to speak at the event, Jeremy Scahill and Owen Jones, decided to withdraw participation unless Mother Agnes was removed from the speaking list. At the time of writing, neither “journalist” has offered to explain their act of public censure and decision to bolster Zionist-led smear campaigns; aside from a few tweets expressing their “concern” over sharing a platform with an evil Assad-supporting nun. It seems baseless conspiracy theories are more than acceptable in the higher echelons of “professional” journalism, as long as the target of said conspiracy is a supporter of an enemy state of the west and Israel.

Another blogger, Joe Emersberger, has issued the following appeal to Scahill:

Dear Jeremy,

I read your book “Dirty Wars” and admired it greatly. It led to me to obtain a great deal of respect for your courage and political judgement.

You tweeted that you “informed organizers of @STWuk that I will not participate in their conference if Mother Agnes is on the platform.”

If you haven’t already, I think you shoud provide a very clear public explanation for your publicly announced stance.

There are extremely nasty allegations being circulated about Mother Agnes based on zero evidence.

For example, this piece accuses Mother Agnes of helping the Asaad regime assassinate journalists in Syria.

To avoid lending any credibility to toxic crap like this, I think you should elaborate on your position regarding Mother Agnes.

Joe Emersberger

So far as I’m aware, Scahill has not issued the “clear public explanation” that Emersberger has called for.

In a letter dated November 16, the day after Scahill posted his tweet, Mother Agnes notified the Stop the War Coalition of her decision to withdraw from the conference. Here is what she wrote:

My dear friends,

It has come to my attention that my participation in your conference has become a matter of serious contention, even prompting some other speakers to consider withdrawing. This is apparently due to a campaign of cruel and unsubstantiated accusations which seek to work against my efforts and those of the Mussalaha (Reconciliation) Initiative in Syria.

The basis of our work toward peace is reconciliation and forgiveness. This means extending an olive branch to some who may initially refuse it, and accepting an olive branch from others who are despised, even by our friends.

In the case of Syria, I am guided by the terrible events of human provenance that are reaping misery and death without end in sight. I and my fellow members of the Mussalaha movement feel compelled to find a path toward national redemption that applies the principles of reconciliation and forgiveness that is different from either the way of the sword or even the nonviolent exclusion of other Syrians, whatever their views or affiliations may be. This is by its nature a difficult path but I am a cleric and am guided by my love for all. We are all children of God.

Some may feel that an injustice will be done if I speak at your conference. Others may think that injustice will be done if I do not. Because my participation in your conference may be used by some to distract from your valuable efforts towards peace, non-violence and reconciliation, I believe it best to withdraw from participation.

I thank you for your sincere invitation, and wish to offer my blessings for a successful conference that brings together a multitude of people of good will who will work together for peace and justice through mutual cooperation and I hope we shall at a future date have an opportunity to meet and discuss this issue and the wider work of the Mussalaha in Syria.

Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross

The letter is available in pdf format here. During the early part of November Mother Agnes has been on a speaking tour of the US. Click here to read a report by blogger Madison Ruppert of a speech she gave in Los Angeles.

In the video below, uploaded in 2010, you will see Scahill sharing his views on 9/11:

“I believe that the United States was attacked by Al Qaeda on 9/11 by men who flew airplanes into those buildings,” says Scahill.

I would recommend Scahill watch the newly-released documentary September 11: The New Pearl Harbor. One of the things he will learn is that the “men who flew airplanes into those buildings” could barely pilot a twin engine plane.

In the above video you will also notice Mr. Scahill, the investigative reporter, discussing, almost angrily, his belief that efforts to determine the truth of what happened on 9/11 are “destructive” to “an honest dialog in this country about US policy,” and then going on to describe such efforts as “insulting to the people who died on 9/11.” Again, I would recommend he go here and watch a discussion by licensed clinical psychologists on cognitive dissonance and 9/11 denial.

See Also:

Mother Agnes of Syria: A Living Saint

Evidence of the Most Disgraceful War Crimes Imaginable

Potential US War on Syria Based on a Snuff Movie

Evident Propaganda Manipulation: Mother Agnes Issues Report on Syria Chemical Attack

Understanding Reality Manipulations in the Syrian Crisis

Also See: Short Film Clips of Mother Agnes online:

On the Rebel Uprising

On the Information War

On Syrian Secular Society

On the Mussalaha Movement

November 18, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video, Wars for Israel | , , , | 5 Comments