January 1, 2016


          Traditionally Christmas is supposed to be a time of good cheer and the New Year celebrations filled with expectations of better things to come. But although the economy is improving, according to the people who are supposed to know, it is certainly not on a solid upswing for most of us. Wages are stagnant and since interest rates are so low saving accounts are not producing a yield that will compensate for inflation. Retirees can no longer rely on the interest of their savings but have to spend whatever capital they were able to accumulate during a lifetime of work The stock market is supposed to compensate for the inability to save one’s money in the traditional manner, but since this amounts to gambling, that especially older people are adverse to engage in, it cannot provide financial security. In addition, market analysts foresee at best stagnation while more pessimistically inclined ones, point to the unsustainability of the current financial system because the causes of the 2008 crash have not been eliminated. Speculation by banks, with our savings, is as rampant as it ever was. In addition, further mergers of banks and industries have occurred leading to monopolies and the few remaining banks are again “too big to fail.” Are we supposed to bail them out a second time when the next crash comes?

          This sense of unease was given voice, among other publications, in TIME magazine that placed the German chancellor Angela Merkel on its cover as Person of the Year. The selection was appropriate and the article well written. She is indeed the only one who at this time can hold Europe together and thereby the Western World. TIME called her Chancellor of the Free World which was correct but also a slap in the face of our ruling circles. We boast of leadership but are unable to provide it because of the massive political polarization that has taken place in the past few years. Leadership would require that the President and Congress agree not only on principles but also on the major aspects of their execution, which is currently not the case. The House of Representatives and the Senate are in Republican hands but the party is badly splintered. The election of so-called Tea-party candidates has led to a massive shift towards the extreme right that rules out cooperation with the Democrats, let alone the President whom they intensely dislike.

President Obama tried to retain some momentum in the foreign arena during the past year, as for instance with the conclusion of the Iran nuclear issue. But even this success hangs on a thin thread and the upcoming November elections can cut it. He has been relegated to “lame duck” status and if he were to wield his pen with executive orders they could readily be undone next January if the Republicans were to win. In addition, he has already been threatened with impeachment if he were to overstep his authority as determined by his Republican adversaries. Under these circumstances the practically year-long presidential campaign will continue to paralyze the country which has lost its moorings. The USS America is now drifting on an ocean of uncertainty; a toy of diverse conflicting interests driven by currents that defy control.

We are, however, not alone in this predicament because the world has become so interdependent that what hurts one is felt by all. Our 2008 financial crisis had repercussions in Europe that came to a head last year in Greece and threatened to tear the EU apart. It was temporarily solved and Chancellor Merkel deserves the credit for steadfastness in adversity. But this was then; the “now” is different. The Syrian refugee crisis with a tsunami of displaced humanity has strained resources in the neighboring countries and spilled over to Europe. The picture of two-year old Aylan Kurdi, who had drowned with his mother and four year old brother during the parents’ escape from war and destitution, aroused compassion and the newcomers were initially welcomed in some European countries, especially Germany. The country absorbed about 800,000 arrivals but it is highly unlikely that it will be able to tolerate more Muslims. In order to retain the chancellorship Merkel’s compassion has found its limit. This is likewise true for the rest of Europe, which still has not fully recovered from the 2008 crash. Compassion and good will are now replaced by fear, which is stoked by irresponsible politicians in their quest for office. The method is what is called in German: den Teufel an die Wand malen – to paint a portrait of the devil on the wall of the living room. He no longer sports horns and a cloven hoof, but is currently represented by the twin specter of “Terrorism” and “Islamization.”

As all of us know this phenomenon is not limited to Europe, but is also in full force here in the US.  The Christmas message of “Fear Not” has been replaced by a steady onslaught of the imperative: Fear! The future is no longer to be welcomed as an opportunity for personal and societal growth but we have to be afraid of everything and anything that might possibly befall us. We are, therefore, urged to “protect” ourselves. Domestically, the political representatives of the arms industry tell us that we have to protect our lives, homes and property by a variety of guns including semi- or fully automatic assault weapons. When these are then put to their use by irresponsible crazed individuals, as in the San Bernadino shootings, the blame is not placed on the ready availability of these weapons but on Muslim fanaticism. While the latter is indeed a potent motivating factor the means to create such havoc should not be so readily available both here and abroad. There is absolutely no reason why possession of assault weapons should not be outlawed for their use by private citizens and even police. They were never needed for personal safety or hunting in all of the past centuries and they are not needed now.

The only reason I can think of why possession of assault weapons is legal in our country is the cowardice of Congress where some of its most influential members are supported by the arms manufacture industry. The New York Times International section carried on December 26 an article headlined: Arms Deals Ensure U.S. is Top Seller. Sales to Countries Increase 35% in 2014.”  The main message was: “The United States controls over half of the global arms trade.” The actual number for 2014, as reported to Congress, was $71.8 billion. But there also was an inconsistency that characterizes our time and may have escaped the attention of the typesetter who was responsible for formatting this page. The report on what can only be called the “merchants of death” was placed as a column on one side for the entire page while the main center portion showed a picture of Pope Francis blessing the faithful who had assembled for Christmas at St. Peter’s square. The caption was: “A call to the Peacemakers. Pope Francis delivered his Christmas message from St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Friday, calling for peace in Syria and elsewhere, and praising countries that have taken in refugees. Religious leaders around the world issued similar messages calling for peace. Excerpts from them are at nytimes.com/world.”

The article above the picture carried the headline: “Rugged Afghan Region Lies Beyond Reach of Aid and Time. As Billions Are Spent Elsewhere, Nuristan Province is Deprived.” The bottom section, below the picture, was devoted to: “In Blow to Syrian Insurgents, Airstrike Is Said to Kill Rebel Leader. The head of a group seen as terrorists by the Syrian and Russian governments.” The article also had an insert showing a picture of the victim, Zaran Alloush leader of the “army of Islam”, speaking at a wedding in July of last year. But there is more to it. He was a terrorist only in the eyes of the Russian and the Syrian government. Our government regarded him as useful in the quest to remove President Assad from power. Alloush controlled an outskirt of Damascus. It was assumed that he would have checked encroachment by ISIL and might have participated in peace negotiations.

What this page tells us is that war and its consequences are more important to report on than efforts by religious leaders of the world to create an atmosphere that could make peace possible. Those have to be excerpted and can then be found only on the Internet. Let’s face it; war makes money while the pursuit of peace does not yield this commodity which obviously rules this world.

Apparently the “War on Terror” also requires that we have the means to terrorize ourselves by the mentioned proliferation of assault weapons. As past experience abroad has shown, fear of chaos is the best way to abolish a democratic government in favor of an autocratic one where power can be wielded so much more readily. Let us remember that without the economic depression, and the concomitant street battles between Nazis and Communists, Hitler would never have been appointed Chancellor. With impending chaos most people bite their lips and submit to the only alternative. There is no reason to expect that what happened in Europe in the 1930s cannot happen here because human beings are the same throughout the world. On the other hand in America the picture of the “Wild West” is still retained in television shows where every male has a gun and uses it with minimal provocation. Some of us are, therefore, arming themselves against the consequences of potentially impending chaos and, if need be, an autocratic government. Although the latter attempt would be obviously useless.

For our politicians who stoke fear it is also necessary to have a foreign enemy and ISIS/ISIL/IS is now being portrayed as an existential threat to the U.S. This is ludicrous. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, who was the runner-up for first place as TIME’s Person of the Year just doesn’t have the wherewithal to defeat us on our shores. Yes, he can sponsor terror attacks that might kill hundreds and if he were to get his hands on a “dirty bomb” even thousands. He can create havoc, but he cannot destroy us unless we follow his script and become an outright police state. This is the real danger we are facing. We saw a preview after 9/11. Instead of a proper criminal investigation to find the culprits, wars were started abroad and domestically the “national security state” emerged. It created the deliberately mislabeled Patriot Act and a “Department of Homeland Security” which, because of its far-flung bureaucracy, cannot possibly achieve the goal that is supposed to be accomplished. It not only absorbs tax money that should be spent on infrastructure and other programs that benefit the citizenry but also makes life more ornery because of ever increasing regulations that are camouflaged as enhancing our “security.”

One enemy, such as al-Baghdadi, clearly is not enough to create sufficient fear; we also have to fear the Russians and Chinese. In order to make this credible we engage in deliberate provocations as for instance removing a Russophile government in Ukraine, with its attendant Russian countermoves (Ukraine Crisis; March 15, 2014. Ukraine: Let truth be told; April 1, 2014), and patrolling the South China Sea’s artificial coral islands, thereby inviting accidental shootouts, with the possibility of escalation.

We have succeeded to some extent to demonize Russia and its economy is faltering. The value of the Ruble is steadily sinking and has not yet hit bottom. This is partly a result of sanctions, lower oil prices and a fair amount of corruption within the ruling elite. President Putin tries to divert attention from a looming crisis to foreign affairs and the Syrian plight. For this endeavor he might even get some help from our John Kerry who seems to be indefatigable and together with Russia’s Sergei Lavrov would certainly be a candidate for a Nobel peace prize. But Kerry is handicapped by our official stance that President Assad, who has now reached in propaganda terms the status of Saddam Hussein, must be deposed.

It seems that our ruling circles in Washington are incapable of learning. They know, but refuse to acknowledge, the chaos we created in Iraq by removing a dictator who held a diverse country together by force and we seem to be determined to repeat this failed experiment in Syria. It should be abundantly clear that we can’t get Western style democracy in the Middle East by executive fiat. So what is our choice: swallow our pride and make do with Assad for some time or continuing chaos with an ever increasing refugee problem and the danger of war with Russia? Our, as well as Russia’s, fighter planes are flying separate missions in the relatively small Syrian airspace and it is only a matter of time for some accident to happen when both sides will accuse each other of deliberate provocation. The Turkish air disaster was already a preview. The fact that we don’t share intelligence information on our targets with the Russians, although they repeatedly asked for it, is not only harmful to a successful prosecution of the war but amounts to criminal negligence because accidents are bound to happen under present circumstances. Is our leadership really too stupid not to understand this danger or are other more sinister efforts at work?

With intolerable living conditions some people who can will emigrate while others, who either don’t have the inclination or the means, will be radicalized. This may take the form of random violence or a “return to basics;” a fundamentalist type of religious thought. The latter has now come to dominate the Middle East. ISIS, to stay with one of the common abbreviations, was born in the chaos of Iraq when John Bremer, our “Vice-Roy,” ordered “de-Ba’athification” and dissolution of the Iraqi military. Hundreds of thousands were overnight deprived of income and literally thrown out on the streets. When one adds to this the indiscriminate incarcerations at Abu Ghraib and other jails one should not be surprised when previously relatively decent human beings are subjected to these experiences turn to their image of God and become fanatics.

   Sections of the Holy Koran are then taken out of historical context, pasted together and, in disregard of others which proclaim the opposite, are formed into an ideology that justifies killing in the name of God. When this is coupled with the assurance that to be killed in the service of god amounts to martyrdom and ensures instant accession to paradise one has a mental state that will defy not only reason but also threats and bombs. When initial fear is turned into hate it cannot readily be stifled. When one adds an expected heavenly reward for this conduct it is not hard to see why disenchanted young people would want to join “jihad.”  This is so obvious that one may even regard it as a “normal” i.e. “common” human mental mechanism.

While our media concentrate mainly on the efforts of ISIS in Syria, Iraq and various African countries there is an additional battleground in the making which will hit the headlines if not this year then soon thereafter. The plight of the Palestinian people under Israeli rule is not properly recognized by our media and ruling circles because the “Jewish vote” is more important. Yet, it is an incubator for violence which has to erupt sooner or later. Intelligent people, both here and in Israel, know that the current status of the West Bank and the Gaza strip is untenable. Yet the “two state” solution, as initially accepted to in the Oslo agreement, is now dead and buried without an alternative in place. There is no “peace process” and even John Kerry had to give up on it. Therefore, Israel although it still has a leader in the person of Binyamin Netanyahu is also adrift because he is not a free agent. To keep his post he has to make compromises with the religious parties of the country some of whom are just as “fundamentalist” as their Muslim counterparts although they do not export their violence to the rest of the world. The reason is not that they are adverse to violence, as the early history of the State of Israel shows (Bowyer Bell: Terror out of Zion). But it is currently not needed and would be counterproductive, except as a “false flag” operation. The Likud government and other Israeli rightwing parties live in a fool’s paradise because the status quo is unsustainable. 

Our official media stay away from reporting on events in the Gaza strip where 1.8 million human beings are crowded into an area that measures 25 miles in length and eight miles at is maximal width. It is an open air prison where the borders are sealed, the air space is filled with Israeli drones and the coast patrolled by Israeli gunboats. Ask yourself now: how long do you think it will take for this powder keg to explode? How long can unemployed young males be expected to tolerate these conditions? The recent wars with Israel with their attendant destruction of lives and property, have led to increasing loss of hope for outside help and some youngsters are now turning to ISIS as the answer. In their eyes HAMAS, which we regard as a terrorist organization, is not radical enough because it has negotiated a truce with Israel that has brought no benefit to the inhabitants of Gaza. There are to be no further negotiations and Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful, has to yield to the Old Testament God of Vengeance. The January 14, 2016 issue of the New York Review of Books carries an article by Sarah Helm that describes the situation.

Many, if not most, people in our country are not aware that the Holy Koran is a composite of Old and New Testament ideas rather than a completely separate document. Yet, this is important to realize because under those circumstances the Muslim religion is not something that is fundamentally alien to Western thought. It derives its legitimacy from the legend of Abraham and his first-born son Ishmael. Depending on political circumstances the Koran emphasizes either the Old Testament wrathful aspect of the Deity, or the Christian benign and merciful Father.

The “fundamentalist” aspects of the OT religion are, for good reason, currently not emphasized in our country but they are inextricable interwoven into the concept of the “Jewish State” of Israel. The country is not, in spite of protestations to the contrary, a Western type of democracy because a separation of Religion and State does not exist. To appreciate the full extent of current Israeli fundamentalism it is important that one reads “Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel” by Israel Shahhak and Norton Mezvinsky. It is available on the Internet in book form on amazon but also free of charge as a pdf document. Unless one is familiar with this aspect of the Jewish religion one cannot understand the Israeli political position in regard to what in the West is regarded either as the “West Bank” or occupied territories but in Israeli parlance Judaea and Samaria. Political Zionism has taken the Jewish religion back about 2300 years, to Maccabean times, and is enacting policies of that era as documented in Whither Zionism? that can be downloaded from this website.

The cornerstone of the Jewish-Palestinian debacle is the OT with its insistence that the Lord, is first and foremost the God of Israel, “who brought thee out of the land of Egypt.” Concern for “goyim” (other ethnicities) does not belong to his priorities. The Christian church tried to change this view but it is rejected by the true believers in the Jewish faith. For them the statement in Ex. 14-12 is still divine revelation:


Behold I am driving out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perrizite, and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, whither thou goest, lest they be for a snare in the midst of thee. 


          When put into modern parlance: the Lord will engage in “ethnic cleansing” and whoever remains in the land given to the immigrants must not be fraternized with. Strict segregation or in modern terms “apartheid” is to be enacted. Lest one think that the Exodus quote was an isolated occurrence please consult Deuteronomy chapter 20:10-20. It deals with how the inhabitants of besieged cities are to be treated. If a city that does not belong to Israel’s patrimony voluntarily surrenders the males are to be killed. The women, children and cattle are the “spoils” of war and to be used accordingly. But if the city is in the land “the Lord, thy God giveth thee as an inheritance thou shalt save alive nothing that breathes, but thou shalt utterly destroy them.” The quotes are from The Socino Chumash, an unimpeachable Jewish document rather than the King James Bible translation.

We now must remember that this is not just some man-made “Nuremberg law,” written by a secular government that can be undone. It is an order of God as expressed in the Torah which when translated into English stands for Law. It establishes an unbridgeable “them and Us” for all time. This has led in the past to the voluntary establishment by Jews of Ghettos for Jews in Christendom, and in this century Israel’s “Security fence” or ‘Wall of separation” behind which the Palestinians are forced to live.

It is, therefore, obvious that “racial purity” was not invented by the Nazis. They only adopted and adapted this aspect of the OT. We may now say that this concept has no validity in the modern world. But under these circumstances we avoid recognition of the power of faith which drives fundamentalist religious thought. Racial purity is alive and well in Israel where marriages between Jew and Gentile are not permitted. In ultra-orthodox Haredim society it reaches the level where according to Shahhak and Nemvitzky even the question of accepting blood transfusions from a non-observant Jew, let alone a Gentile is debated.  A similar situation exists for organ donations.

One may now say that this is an extreme example that is irrelevant for the conduct of Israeli policy. This is true, but the separation from native Palestinians and the question to whom this land belongs, are the prime movers of the conflict. Americans who limit their information to the popular media are not aware of the views of Israel’s current Deputy Prime Minister Tzipi Hotovely on this topic. She was appointed by Prime Minister Netanyahu after the 2015 elections and, according to Wikipedia:


Hotovely rejects Palestinian statehood aspirations, supporting a Greater Israel spanning over the entire land of current Israel along with the Palestinian territories.[12] She later reiterated her hardline position in a speech to Israeli diplomats on 22 May 2015, rejecting criticism from the international community regarding the West Bank settlement policies and saying that Israel has tried too hard to appease the world and must stand up for itself. She has also stated that she will make every effort to achieve global recognition for West Bank settlements (a move which is widely opposed by the international community), as well as asserting that Israel owes no apologies for its policies in the Holy Land towards the Palestinians. She justified her position as she referenced religious texts to back her belief.

In October 2015, in an interview with the Knesset Channel, Hotovely said: "It's my dream to see the Israeli flag flying on the Temple Mount." She added: "I think it's the center of Israeli sovereignty, the capital of Israel, the holiest place for the Jewish people." Despite the government's insistence that it has no intention of changing the status quo at the site.


            The British people were informed of this stance in The Guardian but America’s media are silent on this obviously important topic. One might now argue that she is “only” the Deputy Foreign Minister and policy is made by Netanyahu who is not only Prime Minister but also Foreign Minister, and that Mrs.  Hotovely is merely responsible for the bureaucratic functions of the Ministry. But this would ignore the fact that Netanyahu appointed her and, therefore, either agrees with these views or regards them as sufficiently wide-spread that he has to placate this segment of Israel’s citizenry. It is obvious that this attitude can only lead to a radicalization of the Palestinian population not only in Gaza but also in the West Bank and Jerusalem. The Jewish Temple Mount is for all Muslims the “Noble Sanctuary” and any attempt to change its status would lead to a world-wide catastrophe. Hotovely’s statements are, of course, known in the Arab world and thereby provide an excellent recruiting tool for ISIS.   

When one keeps all the mentioned facts in mind one can see that ISIS was created by despair and that the obviously barbaric conduct of its troops is simply a regression to OT laws as incorporated in sections of the Koran. Cutting off hands is, of course, also the way thieves were to be dealt with in that document. In regard to the severing of the head of one’s enemy it needs to be pointed out that decapitation was the method of choice for centuries and the guillotine was used routinely in France, for instance, until the death penalty was abolished in 1977.

Under these circumstances it is obvious that although the “ISIS Caliphate” can be driven out of its strongholds with sufficient military force, this will not affect the hate and religious fervor that gave rise to the organization in the first place. The daily reports in our newspapers in regard to ISIS leaders who have been killed by us and our allies evoke memories of the body counts during the Vietnam War. They were useless then and killing “leadership” now is based on a concept that does not take religious fanaticism into account. The Romans couldn’t kill all the Christian martyrs and we can’t kill all the Muslims who are sacrificing themselves for the “greater good.”  There is an inexhaustible supply. When in 2006 we announced that we had killed Abu Musab al-Zarquawi in Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was already in the wings.  

The only way to end this war, with all of its attendant human misery, will be when Sunnis and Shiites put their sectarian differences aside in the manner presented last month and Israel releases its stranglehold on the Palestinians. But for this outcome we would need Divine intervention because the ruling circles on all sides of the conflict have no such interest and there is no one who is likely to initiate and can subsequently enforce such an agreement. Whether or not this inherently unstable situation will come to a head during this year or in a subsequent one cannot be foretold. But that some type of catastrophic reckoning will take place looks increasingly unavoidable. Political events that impact our society, and thereby our public lives, are truly adrift. All we can do as individuals is to bring our inner house in mental and spiritual order so that we can weather the oncoming storm. In that spirit I wish my readers a healthy and personally satisfying New Year.  

Feel free to use statements from this site but please respect copyright and indicate source. Thank you.

Please E-mail this article to a friend

Return to index!