Israel, Syria, Iran, Turkey

Jonathan Spyer: Israel, Syria, Iran. 'The title is hyperbolic and not mine,' cautions Jonathan in a social media post, but it is true that Israel and Iran are headed for a direct confrontation, with Syria being the battlefield. The Iranian regime seeks to form a land bridge through Syria (which scarcely exists as a state today) in order to attack Israel directly. (They currently do this through proxy militias like Hezbollah.) The rise of Daesh (Islamic State) temporarily put these plans on hold, but with that distraction soon to be out of the way ("the period of Arab unrest in 2010, during which Islamist and Salafi forces, seemed briefly ascendant, is now a spent force," writes Spyer) the situation resembles the pre-2010 picture - but now with the additional factor of a strong Russian presence.

Al-Monitor: Putin, Erdogan pleased after Ankara meeting. Al-Monitor's Yekaterina Chulkovskaya writes that the Russian and Turkish leaders seemed satisfied with the outcome of last week's meeting in Ankara. Significantly, other participants in the meeting included Russian leaders representing the Energy Ministry, Gazprom, and Rosatom. While it's not clear whether all the issues announced ahead of time on the agenda were discussed (Russian S-400s, for example), it did stress energy cooperation, Syria policy - and the recent Kurdish independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan.


Gmar Chatimah Tovah

An easy and meaningful Yom Kippur fast to all who observe.


Liberals often think that conservatives are obsessed with guns, flags, and bibles. But the truth is there's a place for bibles, there's a place for flags, there's a place for guns. As Natan Sharansky understood, a cultural identity and a shared set of moral values can give you the strength to defend your individual identity.


Donald Trump UN Speech

Donald Trump's speech at the United Nations is magnificent.


'The scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the United Nations is based. They respect neither their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries.

If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph. When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.

No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the wellbeing of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea. It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans, and for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more. ...

It is far past time for the nations of the world to confront another reckless regime -- one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.

The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. The longest-suffering victims of Iran's leaders are, in fact, its own people. ...

We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program. (Applause.) The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it -- believe me. ...

The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran's people are what their leaders fear the most. This is what causes the regime to restrict Internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protestors, and imprison political reformers.

Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed, and terror? Or will the Iranian people return to the nation's proud roots as a center of civilization, culture, and wealth where their people can be happy and prosperous once again? ...

The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented. (Applause.) From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure. Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems.

America stands with every person living under a brutal regime. Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action. All people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests, and their wellbeing, including their prosperity. ...

Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain. ...

The true question for the United Nations today, for people all over the world who hope for better lives for themselves and their children, is a basic one: Are we still patriots? Do we love our nations enough to protect their sovereignty and to take ownership of their futures? Do we revere them enough to defend their interests, preserve their cultures, and ensure a peaceful world for their citizens?

One of the greatest American patriots, John Adams, wrote that the American Revolution was "effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people."

That was the moment when America awoke, when we looked around and understood that we were a nation. We realized who we were, what we valued, and what we would give our lives to defend. From its very first moments, the American story is the story of what is possible when people take ownership of their future....'

Ambassador Friedman: "Settlements Are Part of Israel"


'David Friedman, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, said on Thursday that he believes Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are part of Israel.

“I think the settlements are part of Israel,” Friedman said in an interview with the Hebrew-language Walla website.

“I think that was always the expectation when Resolution 242 was adopted in 1967. It remains today the only substantive resolution that was agreed to by everybody,” he added.

“The idea was that Israel would be entitled to secure borders,” said Friedman. “The existing borders, the 1967 borders, were viewed by everybody as not secure, so Israel would retain a meaningful portion of the West Bank, and it would return that which it didn’t need for peace and security.” ...'

AfD and the Jews

Tuvia and Isy Tenenbom at Arutz Sheva:

Orit Arfa visits a German AfD victory party:

'So, it was not out of character for me to enter an AfD victory party on the eve of elections, at a Munich beer hall no less, and find Nazis to expose and challenge. After all, the AfD is widely considered the neo-Nazi party. Take a walk inside with me into the lion’s den…'

[English captions available at Settings control in lower left.]


Jonathan Spyer on Ukraine's Jews

Jonathan Spyer:
In summer, Kiev is a charming city, filled with cafes and light. But the peaceful atmosphere is deceptive. History has not departed. Ukraine has been shaken in recent years once again – by revolution, and its handmaiden, war.

The ‘Euromaidan’ revolution toppled the pro-Russian government of President Victor Yanukovych in March, 2014. Yanukovych’s departure was followed by the Russian seizure of Crimea, and then the outbreak of a Russian-supported ,separatist insurgency in the Donbass – the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk. The ill-equipped, rusty Ukrainian forces moved to crush the insurgency, but were then met by the entry of conventional Russian troops in August. The Ukrainians suffered bloody setbacks in the battles of Iovitsk and Debaltseve, before a ceasefire agreement was signed in Minsk on February 11, 2015.

The war is not over, and the issues that led to its outbreak have not been resolved. Today, the Ukrainians and their Russian enemies face one another along a static 400 kilometer front line. Observers from the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) monitor the ceasefire. This reporter spent several days in the warzone of eastern Ukraine, and shooting across the lines is a nightly occurrence. Not just rifles. RPG, self propelled grenades and machine guns too. 10,090 people have died in this largely forgotten conflict over the last three years. Over 2 million people have been made homeless.

The war has impacted on Ukraine’s Jewish community in two central ways. Firstly, Jews resident in eastern Ukraine have suffered the direct physical effects of the fighting. Most of Donetsk and Luhansk’s Jews fled westwards as the frontlines approached their homes in 2014. The provisions offered by the Ukrainian authorities to those made homeless by the war are minimal. Efforts are ongoing by a variety of Jewish organizations to provide for those Ukrainian Jews made refugees by the events.

The second impact is a little less tangible. The war of 2014 was an important moment in the ongoing development of national identity in independent Ukraine. ...

Melanie Phililps on Liberal Rabbis and Trump

Melanie Phillips:

'In America, four liberal rabbinic organizations have scrapped their participation in the annual conference call in which the president traditionally offers his greetings for the Jewish New Year.

Their reason? President Donald Trump’s statements about the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville were “lacking in moral leadership and empathy for the victims of racial and religious hatred.”

After that rally, which gave rise to a violent counterprotest and the murder of a young woman when a white supremacist driver plowed his car into a group of “antifa” (or anti-fascist) protesters, Trump provoked widespread fury by observing there had been violence on both sides. ...

There is now ample evidence of the hatred, intimidation and violence these supposed anti-fascists direct – not just against far-right extremists, but against all conservatives and white people, and Israel, too.

Last weekend on the Berkeley campus, more than a hundred antifa members attacked a small number of Trump supporters, injuring six, while screaming their true intention – to destroy the USA.

If anyone is “lacking in moral leadership and empathy” for the victims of hatred, it’s surely those liberal rabbis.

Faced with left-wing aggression and bigotry, many American Jews display a high degree of cognitive dissonance. That’s because they think not as Jews, but as leftists – not least because they can’t discern the difference. ...'



People tend to want to believe things that are flattering to themselves.

If you believe that most of the people around you are ignorant, racist bigots, then you get to be special and enlightened just by virtue of not being a bigot. Slandering the masses is a great way to feel good about yourself.

If, on the other hand, most people are not particularly prejudiced, then not being a bigot doesn't make you special - it just makes you normal.


Covenant Lands: Updates

I moved back to Portland at the beginning of 2014, after living in San Francisco for a few years for family reasons. At the beginning of 2017, I moved back to my old building in downtown Portland, and I'm working full-time in IT these days.

So I've been away from blogging for a while, but I mean to find time to start posting regularly again. When I first started posting at this blog (then called Dreams Into Lightning) some thirteen years ago, the big stories were chiefly in the Middle East, specifically Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran.

A lot has happened in those thirteen years. I still follow the Middle East closely - in fact, I had the opportunity to visit Iraqi Kurdistan in April of 2015. I'm now also following events in Africa, and I visited Kenya and Uganda in 2016.

But I'm also paying a lot of attention to events closer to home. The election of President Donald Trump unleashed a wave of destructive and sometimes violent leftist riots in many left-leaning cities, including Portland and San Francisco. Conservatives and their allies - including the Patriot Prayer organization - responded with rallies in those same cities. It is, literally, a battle for control of the streets, and it's still ongoing.

I joined the pro-Trump patriots in the June 4 rally in Portland; my friend Andy Ngo covered the rallies for National Review, and reported on Chadwick Moore's appearance at Portland State University.

There's a lot more that I want to write about politics and free speech, and about how my understanding of the world has developed and evolved since I started blogging in 2004. (I also post at Lightning Times, formerly Dreams Into Lightning 2, on current news items.) But for now I'm going to leave you with Liberty Wolf on the cancelled San Francisco rally:

Today my beautiful old hometown San Francisco celebrated mob rule and the death of freedom of speech. Congratulations San Francisco! On the urging of your corrupt political class, including Mayor Lee and Nancy Pelosi, you ran a ragged bunch of black men, Latino men, a white woman, a Muslim woman, a Samoan, and assorted other “white supremacists” out of town. How brave, how courageous, how righteous. What a very sad day and what a silly bunch of people. ...


The Rally

So, I went to the June 4 rally at Terry Schrunk Plaza in Portland.


Short version first: It was an amazing experience. I saw Andy there, and finally got to meet Athena and Leo and a number of other local people that I'd only interacted with online. Marco and Harim came up from Cali and I got my picture taken with Harim. A street preacher talked about sin and forgiveness, and a trans activist stomped on a communist flag. This big, friendly Polynesian guy named Tiny started the whole thing off with a warrior dance.

The folks on the other side tried to make trouble for us, but they didn't even make a dent. The Portland police did a good job of keeping order. I had been a bit apprehensive about the event, and didn't decide until the last minute that I was going to go at all. But it was incredible, energizing, and a great chance to build bonds with people I hadn't met before but needed to.

I've already posted (without much context) a few pictures from the event. I'll have more to say soon, both about the rally itself and events leading up to it. But I've had a super busy day and I need to be turning in soon.

Originally posted here: http://asher63.livejournal.com/653076.html

UPDATE: The Federalist has photos.