[NOTE: Updating now that the Syrian government has cheerily started reporting on this: "MacMaster's hoax aimed at enhancing continuous fabrications and lies against Syria in term of kidnapping bloggers and activists."
MacMaster claims he is trying to "educate" others about the conditions in the Mideast. Yet he didn't think of how the Syrian government could use his charade for their purposes if it was ever discovered? One really has to wonder if his motives were as pure as he'd like us to believe.]
I freely admit to being one of the many people around the world who was taken in by the hoax perpetrated by the blog “A Gay Girl In Damascus.” I applaud Ali Abunimah for his dogged efforts at exposing this sham, and thank him for doing so.
Any of you who have followed my bursts on Twitterabout this know I’m angry about it. Perhaps it’s because I hate being suckered. But I think the reasons are much deeper
Tom MacMaster, perpetrator of "Gay Girl In Syria" hoax
Tom MacMaster, the charlatan who perpetrated this hoax, initially issued a very thin apology, where he blamed “liberal orientalism” for the controversy. He later posted a much more sincere and convincing apology.
OK, what more could he do? He can’t be expected to rake himself over hot coals or something. But we should still take a long, hard look at this and understand just why so many activists were angered at what he did.
The real-life Syrian activist Sami Hamwi sums it up nicely in his blistering attack on MacMaster: “I say shame on you!!! There are bloggers in Syria who are trying as hard as they can to report news and stories from the country…We have to deal with more difficulties than you can imagine. What you have done has harmed many, put us all in danger, and made us fearful about (pursuing) our…activism…Your apology is not accepted, since I have myself started to investigate Amina’s arrest. I could have put myself in a grave danger inquiring about a fictitious figure.”
Sami Hamwi himself uses a pseudonym to edit the web site GayMiddleEast.com. And I’m sure more than a few of you are now saying “How can we believe that Hamwi is a real person? If Amina was a hoax, why couldn’t Hamwi be as well?” (more…)
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Posted in Golan Heights, Palestine, Refugees, Syria, tagged Assad, Golan Heights, international law, Israel, June 5, Middle east, Netanyahu, Occupation, Palestine, Palestinians, Peace Groups, Protests, Syria, United Nations, West Bank on June 6, 2011 |
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According to reports on Syrian television, 23 people were killed along the border with Israel as they tried to go across the border with Israel.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) disputed the numberand the circumstances.
Syrian President Bashar Assad
Considering the sources of both the accusation and the denial, both highly dubious with long track records of dissembling, I’m keeping my mind open on this. But there are some very important points to be made about the violent confrontations on the northern border.
Let’s start with this: Uri Avnery was right when he said the IDF used disproportionate force. The IDF itself said all the injuries were on the Syrian side of the border—this is why they say they cannot confirm any casualties. The IDF also says they shot live fire at the legs of protesters heading toward the border fence, but still on the Syrian side. Hard to see how that can be called proportionate force. And at least one witness, a journalist, said that the Israelis are understating the severity of their response.
Let’s also be clear about another point: Israel is not defending its borders here. The Golan Heights, which is the area Israel is defending in these incidents, is occupied territory, internationally recognized as Syrian. Unlike the West Bank, which is claimed by the Palestinians but was not previously part of any sovereign state (it was occupied by Jordan from 1949-1967 and part of Mandatory Palestine before that), the Golan is Syrian, and Israel’s annexation of it in 1981 is illegal and recognized by no other country, including the United States.
So, Israel is not defending its borders here, but is defending its occupation. And herein lies the problem, because what is happening on the Syrian border, though certainly heartfelt and significant, is counter-productive for the Palestinians. (more…)
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Posted in Arab League, Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert, Gaza, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, United Nations, United States, West Bank on February 22, 2008 |
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I have a new blog piece at http://www.allvoices.com examining the results of the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh. Click here to read the piece.
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Posted in Arab League, Golan Heights, Iran, Iraq, Israeli land, Lebanon, Peace Plans, Six Day War, Syria, United States, West Bank on October 23, 2007 |
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The Israeli daily, Yediot Ahoronot reported recently that the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, had reassessed its view on Syria’s sincerity in seeking talks with Israel. Mossad now agrees with all the other branches of Israeli intelligence that the Syrian overtures are sincere and that Israel should put Syrian President Bashar al-Asad’s willingness to the test.
The potential benefits of an agreement between Syria and Israel are enormous for many parties. The United States is one of those parties, although one of the few players who stand to lose from such an agreement are the neoconservatives and hawks in the Bush administration. There are also real obstacles to an agreement, especially in the arenas of domestic politics in Israel and the US. But the chief factor blocking Israel-Syria talks at this time is the Bush Administration’s refusal to allow them. This is not something often talked about, which is not surprising–one can only picture the response of the overwhelming majority of Jews to the news that the US is blocking Israel-Arab peace talks that Israel desires.
Yet for all the difficulties, a deal with Syria is a lot easier to attain for Israel than one with the Palestinians, and it might have just as many, maybe even a few more, benefits for Israel as well as the region as a whole.
The Ground On Which To Build An Israel-Syria Agreement
To understand the potential benefits, we must first understand where we are now. The Middle East as a whole is engulfed in burning conflicts, simmering conflicts and growing potential for conflict. The ongoing bloodshed in Iraq and Sudan, the deepening tensions in Lebanon and growing concerns over increasingly tense situations in Bahrain, other Gulf states, Egypt and even to some extent, Saudi Arabia make this always explosive region all the more so. The fuse that is sitting too close to the flame is Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
Though not always reported, there are multiple, daily incidents of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank as well as ongoing clashes between Fatah and Hamas as well as other Palestinian factions from time to time. Israel’s deepening of the infrastructure of the occupation makes matters worse. The wall continues to be built, Palestinian land continues to be appropriated and Israel continues to discuss its plans to hold onto various chunks of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. Promised relief from checkpoints and settlement “outposts” has not materialized, echoing for Palestinians the Oslo years when Israeli promises of peace were accompanied by a massive acceleration in settlement expansion. (more…)
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