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KeysOfTheKingdom“As you know from the congressional inquiry, two years before the attack, bin Laden threatened the kingdom with revolution unless al-Qaeda’s operatives were given access to and support from the Saudi’s agents in the U.S. The old king capitulated.” Senator Bob Graham, Keys to the Kingdom, (Vanguard Press, 2011)

The ‘principles’ underlying the U.S./Saudi relationship are not only unsound but evil, with decades of slaughter to show for it. The latest being the destruction of Yemen and Syria. Those who have sought for Assad to “go” have brought hell to Syria and likely to themselves.

On a day that saw President Obama received coldly in Saudi Arabia and 500 refugees drown while fleeing murderous wars initiated by Saudi Arabia and supported by the U.S., one can only hope that the next U.S. president will freeze Saudi assets, halt weapon sales, and establish a no-fly zone over that country. But that would be unlikely if Hillary Clinton is the next president, given the enormous sums gifted to the Clinton Foundation by the House of Saud.

EasterMonday2016Remembering the Easter Monday Irish Rebellion (April 23, 1916).

“On his return, Mr. Asquith approached me with the suggestion that I should take up the task of trying to negotiate a settlement with the Irish revolutionary leaders. My sympathy with their cause was known.” D. LLoyd George, War Memoirs, 1938

 

HappinessDayguantanamo1The leaders of the world, thinking they are the creators of the world, are spreading misery — and calling it happiness.

President Obama, custodian of Gitmo and destroyer of Libya and Syria, has some nerve lecturing Raul Castro on human rights. Instead, he would do well to do everything in his power to close Guantanamo, returning it to Cuba unconditionally, and lifting the blockade.

Rather than kowtowing to AIPAC, Trump — the so-called anti-establishment candidate, ought to be saying: “Get ’em outa here!” Herzl would likely agree. Twenty-First century Zionism is toxic for Jews, America and the world.

 

ColumbiaUniversityHavel80Havel80bWhile Columbia University students basked in 77 degree temperatures today, several notable scholars and colleagues of Vaclav Havel (1936-2011) gathered at an event on campus to remember the life and impact of the renowned playwright, dissident, and president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. The discussion included Havel’s involvement in the Charter 77 movement, which led to the 1989 Velvet revolution and the end of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia.

Commenting in March 1986, on Charter 77, Havel wrote: “Charter 77 is neither left-wing nor right wing…as a civic initiative that is politically undefined and does not seek to implement a political program of its own, it is—if I may say so—‘above’ it all, or, to put it more modestly, outside it all. It is concerned with truth, with a truthful description of conditions, and with a free and objective criticism of those conditions. Which means that it is and must be concerned with truth no matter whom the truth favors.”

Havel adds, in his 3/86 letter, that Charter 77 is “not a secret branch of the Husak regime” and “not a secret Czechoslovak branch of the Reagan administration,” but rather “the Charter recognizes only a single authority, and that is the authority of truth and the authority of the conscience that demands that it speak the truth.”

One of the guest speakers, Jacques Rupnik, referred to the situation in Central Europe today as one of “identity and sovereignty” with the “hardening of identity politics,” and not what Havel had in mind 25 years ago. Michael Krauss said that Havel was skeptical of modern democracy’s ability to deliver (a healthy society), with political parties acting not as vehicles of the common good but as dividers of citizens.

In 1989 Vaclev Havel was awarded the German Peace Prize of the German Booksellers Association. It was presented to him in absentia, at the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 15, 1989. His remarks, read by Maximilian Schell, titled: A Word About Words included:

“It is not hard to demonstrate that all the main threats confronting the world today, from atomic war and ecological disaster to a catastrophic collapse of society and civilization—by which I mean the widening gulf between rich and poor individuals and nations—have hidden deep within them a single root cause: the imperceptible transformation of what was originally a humble message into an arrogant one.”

For happiness and peace to be realized in society, a culture of freedom is needed, and for that truthfulness is essential. The hardest truth to live is humility, which doesn’t mean being humiliated. In Havel’s 1990 New Year’s Address, his first major public address as president of Czechoslovakia, he suggested: “Our main enemy today is our own bad traits: indifference to the common good; vanity; personal ambition; selfishness; and rivalry. The main struggle will have to be fought on this field.”

Photographs: Stephen Wise

ZionismThe German Consulate in New York is presenting an exhibit exploring the “German Roots of Zionism” (through Feb. 26) — this amid reports that the conservative movement’s new siddur (prayer book) removes God as ‘King’. In both cases today’s Jews (secular and religious) are turning away from God — making themselves King (Superman), a far cry from the contrite heart that produced this prayer:

“Heal us, O Lord, and we shall be healed; save us and we shall be saved; for thou art our praise. Vouchsafe a perfect healing to all our wounds; for thou, almighty King, art a faithful and merciful Physician. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who healest the sick of thy people Israel.” The Standard Machsor, 1925

The remnant of Israel (Isaiah 10:22) is not the Modern State of Israel, but rather the Church — People of God — house of the Lord.

“Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.” John 4:21

Photograph: Stephen Wise

GrandCruDeBordeaux2016aGrandCrusDeBordeaux2016Just hours after a record setting blizzard pummeled the East coast of the U.S., some of the world’s leading, and most intrepid, wine producers made their way to Mid-town Manhattan, from Bordeaux, via Montreal to present their 2013 wines.

In Bordeaux, 2013 was a challenging year for reds, better for whites. Many of the producers in the room made excellent wines in a difficult year. We especially liked the Chateau Beychevelle, Rouge; Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Blanc; Chateau Bastor-Lamontagne, Sauternes.

NewYear2016

TELTEL2“Arabs could be swung on an idea as on a cord; for the unpledged allegiance of their minds made them obedient servants. None of them would escape the bond till success had come, and with it responsibility and duty and engagements. Then the idea was gone and the work ended in ruins.” T.E. Lawrence, Revolt in the Desert (Doran, 1927)

A trove of T.E. Lawrence materials will be part of the Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts sale at Christie’s NY, 12/8.

KoreanProtestSouth Korean protesters, for and against the Park Chung-hee government, squared-off Friday evening outside the Korean Consul General’s office in NYC.

RBSS2The CPJ 2015 International Press Freedom Awards included Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) a collective of citizen journalists reporting on IS and Syrian government activities in Raqqa, the Islamic State capital in Syria.

On the day that saw a Russian aircraft shot down over Syria, for a minor Turkish airspace violation, President Obama said “every country has a right to defend its territory and airspace” — which leads one to wonder why Syria should be denied the same right, with only two countries supporting her (Russia & Iran), according to Obama. The humanitarian crisis in Syria was created by plunderers posing as moderates, humanitarian interventionists and even journalists.

In his remarks, one of the RBSS members said “the evil which began in Syria will not stop there.” Actually the evil that is slaughtering Syria today began in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US (via Turkey)—and contrary to RBSS dreams won’t be producing “a free, democratic and united country.” One-half of Syria is already dominated by Islamic State.

It should be remembered that the Syrian uprising was fueled, in early 2011, by “Gay Girl in Damascus” — the deceit of a male American grad-student. Healthy change can’t be built on lies.

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Stephen B. Wise

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