Learning from US mistakes? – ‘Military means can’t cure Muslim woes’ – PressTV

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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has called for collective efforts among Islamic countries to deal with the problems gripping the Muslim world, saying the issues must be resolved through “non-military” solutions. “If there is a problem in the Muslim world, we should make efforts [for the issue] to be resolved through non-military means,” the Iranian chief executive said in a Tuesday meeting with Sudan’s new Ambassador to Tehran Adel Ibrahim Mustafa. Rouhani further said “the problems and challenges facing the Islamic world have to be resolved through the participation of Muslim countries,” adding, “We hope not to witness war and bloodshed in the region in the future.”

Source: PressTV-‘Military means can’t cure Muslim woes’

Do US Jews suffer needlessly from – #Iran and the Myth of #AntiSemitism? – In These Times

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Jeffery Goldberg of The Atlantic is a respected and well-connected American commentator on U.S.-Israel affairs and regional issues such as the nuclear deal with Iran. His access to top Administration officials like President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry is among the best in the business.

When he wrote a few months ago that a senior Administration official had described Benjamin Netanyahu as “chickenshit,” it caused gigantic waves in both Washington and Jerusalem. People in the know take Goldberg seriously.

So what is one to make of his latest effort, which propels the Iranian regime’s attitudes to Jews and Israel into the forefront of the ongoing debate (or virtual war) over getting the nuclear deal through Congress?

Goldberg’s confusion is evident from the start. The article is headlined “Why Iran’s Anti-Semitism Matters,” while the sub-headline is “A close read of Obama and Kerry’s comments on whether Iranian leaders seek Israel’s destruction.”

In other words, seeking Israel’s destruction—if that indeed is what the Iranian regime is after—is synonymous with anti-Semitism. But is it? And is there a consequential difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism (or anti-Israelism,) or is it OK to conflate the two, as Goldberg does?

(Being a journalist I know that writers are very often not responsible for the headlines attached to their article and are at the mercy of less-stringent copy editors. But that’s not the case here. Anti-Semitism and anti-Israel are used interchangeable by Goldberg throughout the piece, as in “Does the Iranian leadership seek the elimination of Israel? I had already discussed the nature of Iranian-regime anti-Semitism with Obama in a May interview.”)

Iran and the Myth of Anti-Semitism – In These Times.

U.S.- #Israel Conflicts of Interest Now Impossible to Ignore – Reason.com

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Thanks to the Iran nuclear deal, something remarkable is happening in American politics: the irreconcilable conflict of interest between most Americans on one side and Israel and its American supporters on the other is on full display and impossible to ignore. In the past the conflict could be papered over with grand empty rhetoric about the two sides being in “lock-step” and the absence of “daylight” between them. But no more. The conflict is out in the open where everyone can see it. Iran should be thanked for this valuable service.

War with Iran would be a catastrophe not only for the Iranians, including thousands of Jewish Iranians who openly practice their religion in their ancient community, and other people in the Middle East; it would also be a catastrophe for Americans—hence the conflict of interest between most Americans and the war party. Those, like Tom Cotton, Norman Podhoretz, Bill Kristol, and John Bolton, who think an attack on Iran would be a cakewalk, are either liars or fools. These are the same people, of course, who said the Iraq war would be easy and would usher in a new liberal Middle East. The result has been unspeakable sectarian violence throughout the region, culminating in the Islamic State and a reinvigorated al-Qaeda

via U.S.-Israel Conflicts of Interest Now Impossible to Ignore – Reason.com.

Pentagon’s early training of Syrian rebels seen as “failure” – CBS News

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WASHINGTON — A video purporting to show U.S.-trained fighters captured in Syria could not be independently verified, but there’s no doubt the Pentagon’s first attempt to insert fighters into Syria met with what one official called “abject failure.”

Nearly half the force was either killed, captured or missing and they never even came in contact with ISIS.

Officially called the New Syrian Force (NSF), the first contingent of 54 fighters was trained by the U.S. military at a base in Turkey and sent across the border into Northern Syria. But instead of fighting ISIS, they unexpectedly came under attack by al Nusra — a different radical Islamic group.

Pentagon’s early training of Syrian rebels seen as “failure” – CBS News.

But I’m sure the anti-Iran terrorists Obama supports won’t be any problem.

Has #Zionism found its #PopeFrancis? – Israeli President #Rivlin: Netanyahu’s Anti-Iran Drive Isolates Israel

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, right, speak during an event following the first session of the newly-elected Knesset in Jerusalem, Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (AP Photo/Gali Tibbon, Pool)

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, right, speak during an event following the first session of the newly-elected Knesset in Jerusalem, Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (AP Photo/Gali Tibbon, Pool)

JERUSALEM, Aug 6 (Reuters) – Israel’s president suggested on Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been overzealous in opposing the Iran nuclear deal, opening a “battlefront” with Washington and isolating his country.

Reuven Rivlin, who holds the largely ceremonial head of state post, argued in three separate newspaper interviews that Netanyahu’s vigorous campaign against last month’s nuclear deal between world powers and Iran could ultimately hurt Israel.

A former right-wing politician with a history of strained ties to the prime minister, Rivlin has voiced his own reservations about the deal but put it in a wider diplomatic context in the interviews.

via Israeli President Rivlin: Netanyahu’s Anti-Iran Drive Isolates Israel.

Madonna: I’m not Jewish, I’m an Israelite – Israel Jewish Scene, Ynetnews

She makes an interesting and thoughtful distinction between traditional practices and formal religion.  Not just a Material but an Intellectual Girl!

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When asked to what extent would she would characterize herself Jewish? Madonna reportedly laughed the question off, saying “No, I don’t affiliate myself with any specific religious group. I connect to different ritualistic aspects of different belief systems, and I see the connecting thread between all religious beliefs.” 

Madonna elaborated on her theological outlook, saying that though she studied Kabbalah, and does follows many religious practices affiliated with Judaism, like observing the Shabbat and holding a bar mitzvah for her son, she has not converted

Madonna: I’m not Jewish, I’m an Israelite – Israel Jewish Scene, Ynetnews.

Karen Armstrong on Sam Harris and Bill Maher: “It fills me with despair, because this is the sort of talk that led to the concentration camps.”

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On a cold Thanksgiving Day in 1994 I was about to interview Karen Armstrong about her new book, “A History of God’.  All I wanted was for her to be as wonderful in person as she seemed as a writer.  She was as they say, “all that and a bag of chips.”  In this interview with Salon.com she, as usual, lucidly articulates views I find inarguable.  The whole interview is absolutely worth reading but here are a few gems:

“Every fundamentalist movement that I’ve studied, in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, is rooted in a profound fear of annihilation.”

“We came to modernity under our own steam. It was our creation. It had two characteristics. One of these was independence — your Declaration of Independence is a typical modernizing document. And you have thinkers and scientists demanding free thought and independent thinking. This was essential to our modernity. But in the Middle East, in the colonized countries, modernity was a colonial subjection, not independence.”

“If you wrong somebody there’s a huge sense of resentment and distress. That is there, and that is part of it, too.”

Do you think the role of religion in modern global conflicts is overhyped?

Hot Sauce & the Neurobiology of the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict

[Script:] You can look at the neurobiology of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict through the prism of hot sauce. A glance at online hot sauce offerings shows that for millions, as one label proclaims, “Pain is good”. That certain people enjoy suffering is both common knowledge and punchline. “How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a lightbulb?” “It’s alright I’ll just sit here in the dark.” According to University of Pennsylvania researcher professor Paul Rozin, masochism, “the enjoyment of what appears painful or tiresome.” Exists on a spectrum of human pleasures- duh!. Riding on roller coasters, taking super hot baths, an affection for astringent drinks, the delight of sore muscles after a hard workout and many other human activities all the way to self mutilation can be considered forms of what professor Rozin calls “benign masochism”.

He studied the eating habits of Mexican children. Mexican babies react negatively to capsaicin, the chemical that makes peppers hot. As well they should. Capsaicin hurts. Capsaicin activates type C nociceptive fibers, which then release something called substance P, the “p” should stand for “pain” but it doesn’t. Substance P release is better known to your brain as “ouch!”

But our brains can be trained to experience the “ouch” as “oooh”. Mexican children and others grow up being told “the pain you’re feeling, that’s good!” In time it’s mom over matter. Cuisines from Indian Vindaloo to Chinese Szechuan to Buffalo chickens wings delight in the misery their recipes inflict. The malleability of our pain experience was dramatically demonstrated by great neuroscientist Jane Fonda. In the days BJF, before Jane Fonda, we exercised trying to avoid the pain. “I told the doctor, ‘It hurts when I do this’. He said, ‘Don’t do that’”. But post-Jane the goal was to “Make it burn.” With three little words pain became pleasure. Hurt was transformed from danger to desire The switch has to do with the interaction of two areas of the brain, the anterior cingulate cortex, a feeling part of the brain and the right ventral prefrontal cortex, a thinking part. It appears that our brain’s thinking parts can be reprogrammed so the that nociceptor (pain fiber) activation and the discomfort it entails seem just, exactly what we want.

Culture can pleasurize even severe forms of pain. Generations of Catholic school children have literally prayed for the chance to emulate the church’s glorified martyrs and suffer their gruesome tortures to prove their pubescent faith. Virtually every American is taught to revere Nathan Hale’s famous last words, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

European Jewry seems to revel in its historic hurts. Every summer we are religiously commanded to get depressed about the destruction of the second temple by the Romans in 57 CE. We celebrate Purim, a tale of one man who merely had a DESIRE to attack the Persian Jews centuries ago. A story exactly no one thinks is true and of course our seemingly endless outpouring of Holocaust memorials. Palestinians may embrace their suffering even more intensely. In March 2014 the elected Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh declared, “We are a people who yearn for death just as our enemies yearn for life!”

If the Palestinians and Israelis have developed cultures that on some neurologic level enjoy even desire the pain and suffering they inflict and inspire. Maybe part of the solution is to give both sides some alternative form of agonizing pleasure… hot sauce anyone?

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