The Skies in Places That I Have Been, 2013 – 2016

These are photographs by a very amateur photographer – me – using some very professional cameras (at times), of the skies and weather on my travels in Syria, Vietnam, Turkey, Cambodia, Bulgaria, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Spain, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Macedonia, Greece, France, Serbia, Ukraine & on the Sea.

They are randomly ordered and not labelled – the best ones (IMHO) are not at the top – but between time pressures and Blogger usability issues that is just the way it is for now – so scroll down to the end – some of the most interesting shots are dotted throughout. I will at a later date re-order them in terms of my preferences and also add descriptions of place and time.

Subject Matter 

So many colors, so many natural phenomena, so much beauty including Dawn, Sunrises, Sunsets, Dusk, Storm Clouds, Rolling Fogbanks, Rainbows, Double Rainbows, The Moon, Lightning, the Full Sun, the Blood Moon 2015 & Eclipses. 

Camera Types 

The pictures are of varying quality because they were taken variously with a Nikon Camera, Canon Camera, Pentax Camera, Sight Camera, iPhone Camera, Scope Camera & Samsung Phone Camera. 

No Copyright – Free to Use 

I hope that you enjoy them – they are offered for those who are interested in travel and photography and nature and not as a professional gallery. I do not enforce copyright on any of these images. Mother nature provided the spectacle for free and so do I. Feel free to share them or post them or print them or bin them 🙂 

We do not travel to escape life but so that life does not escape us. (Quote author unknown – at least by me at any rate).


The Usual Mechanics of an Obama Speech

Case Study: Address to the UN General Assembly (09.28.2015)

Main Take Outs & Speech Summary 

Blah, blah, blah …. incorrect reference to historical precedent …. blah, blah …. sincere look …. blah …. fake empathy …. blah, blah, blah …. backslap and high five for fellow ultra-liberals (Choose Merkel or Pope Francis) …. blah blah blah …. dramatic pause …. blah …. knowing stare into the middle distance …. blah blah …. lots more words with no substance …. blah blah blah …. minorities matter, majorities must comply …. blah blah ….

Say more words that translate to weakness pretending to be strength …. blah, blah, blah …. more words that loosely mean more inaction disguised as diplomacy …. blah, blah …. make appeal to irrelevant emotions – your kids, my kids, the future …. blah, blah, blah …. some more vague general piffle …. blah, blah ….

Quote the US Constitution which you have rode rough shod over since 2008 (Choose creating own laws without due process using the Supreme Court, number of executive orders issued in last seven years, lack of consultation with Congress the alleged voice of the people) …. blah, blah ….

Make some more vague generalisations and non-specific argument …. blah blah blah …. point a finger (choose Israel, Syria or Russia in order of indifference to their respective motivations)…. blah, blah …. speak of friends and partners (choose Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia or Qatar) …. blah, blah, blah …. offer inappropriate comparison between problems resolved in Senegal, Singapore and Colombia and those of the current global war on terror specifically Syria and Iraq …. blah, blah ….

The end … cue lack lustre applause and eye rolling by the audience and a look of satisfaction and utter accomplishment from Mr. President …. meanwhile nothing changes for the better in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Ukraine, Crimea, the refugees crisis, the rest of the Middle East, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Balkans while race relations, illegal immigration and the deficit have all reached “basket case” scenarios in the USA.

Two Flawed Triumvirates Seek to Undermine Western Europe

Ultra Liberals Disguised as Capitalists

On one hand, we observe Obama peddling a socialist manifesto ignoring the reality of global sectarianism, energy imperialism and economic warfare while pretending to push a capitalist agenda to disguise his ultra-liberal policies. Obama’s arguments that he supports capitalism and democracy (the rule of the majority) are reductio ad absurdum if one accepts that capitalism is engineered for inequality and fails to function if it is expected to operate alongside a belief that within a system that rewards risk, innovation and merit that all people can be equal and all opinions accommodated. On his flanks are Merkel in Germany and the South American liberation theologian in the Vatican.

These three are not overtly aligned but each with a significant power base and influence are pushing the same concepts – all of which are detrimental to Western interests and influence and the ultimate outcome of whose policies, if allowed to succeed, can only place the West at the mercy of more martial and aggressive regimes.

Weakness Masquerading as Strength

Human nature does not change quickly – these alleged students of the human condition wish us to take a path that will only result in our demotion globally to mere slaves of external events and concepts, rather than masters of our destiny. It puts us on a path of inevitable identity and cultural destruction.

Our opponents do not struggle with such issues. They hold a set of beliefs which they pursue relentlessly with a vigour that leaves no room for dissent. How can one be expected to accept a compromised position that weakens our ability to defend our beliefs in the face of such ideologues and fanaticism.

On the other hand Obama et al. – like all of their persuasion – seek to rule by the consensus of the lowest common denominator. This results in the usual liberal conundrum – perpetual inaction or at the very least confused, misguided and misdirected action – generally too late to influence events.

The “Might is Right” Misfits 

The opposing trio, led in theory by the bully boy Putin cosy in his arrangements with Hassan Rouhani (Iran) and Xi Jinping (China), are resolutely opposed to a progressive agenda and firmly united in their anti-American sentiment. They possess a clear set of focussed short term objectives that play to all the basic human emotions – nationalism, aggression and a clearly identifiable common enemy to unite against – in this case two – ISIS a form of radical Islam (I do not denote it as “the” form of radical Islam as Iran is the Sh’ia version of the ISIS Sunni form) and of course the USA.

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The former are offering a loose set of vague promises of future peace, prosperity and universal brotherhood based on complete sacrifice by the most powerful and the most comfortable nations – financially and politically – all the while eroding the cultural identities and traditional values of those constituencies they allegedly represent.

The real power lies in the “Might is Right” alliance and it is that challenge that needs to be addressed by the next US administration, the Conservatives in the UK and the other realistic member states of the EU and Eastern Europe.

The Political Landscape in the West

Obama and the Democrats have 14 months left in office before a generation in the political wilderness. Merkel is riding a wave of nauseating self-applause regarding her disastrous refugee policies and in the spirit of classic Teutonic arrogance continues to use the very federal institutions that were created in the EU to protect against historical German aggression and bullying to push the German agenda and harass the weaker EU nations.

When the UK inevitably decides that enough is enough and leaves the EU it will create at last a second lever of power in Western Europe. The path is clear for the Conservatives to take the initiative on this long held wisdom as the only viable opposition – the Labour Party – is now led by the divisive Corbyn, a figure of contempt for many in his own party, a thinly disguised Marxist and terrorist apologist.

Papal Hand-Wringing Hides Classic Self-Interest

Pope Francis is simply a sideshow to fill a few minutes at the end of the news segments with his appeals that are attractive to the billions of Catholics in developing South America, Asia and Africa. The Catholic church having lost its foothold in its traditional power base after decades of financial and sexual abuse scandals must now do what it does best – pretend to champion the poor in order to maintain its relevance and more importantly its coffers.

Whether the Pope realises it or not, his rhetoric is only a tool to keep the institution relevant to its current flock of poverty stricken less educated members and contributors to whom religion is always a salve in their world with few comforts or allies.

Pathetic Justification of Obama’s Foreign Policy Free-Fall

Yesterday Obama delivered a “why can’t we all just get along” plea at the United Nations General Assembly in the spirit of the most self-deluded, self indulgent, unrealistic antics of the 60s “love and peace to all men, women and the gender neutral” movement. Obama imposed forty minutes of nonsensical rationalisation for inaction and justification, informed by hindsight, for the train wreck that is his administrations foreign policy outcomes.

He sees a world of “equals” albeit that some will be more “equal” than others. A world where a centrally based well armed unelected power – the United Nations – will “implement” policy at a global level despite its failure to do so on umpteen occasions in the past and without an awareness apparently of the veto that his main opponents possess at that forum.

Perpetual Flux & Cultural Abandon

He envisages the first world in a state of perpetual flux and cultural abandon – welcoming countless un-vetted refugees as “brothers and sisters” and granting every seemingly minority view a status equalling that of the majority. Regardless of the prevailing “mood” of the populace in our countries we are to be forced to allow every refugee, asylum seeker or economic migrant to choose our locale for their new start and to be pleased.

Many of these “travellers” are neither Syrian or from conflict zones. Those that are, have in the main, been created by US foreign policy disasters but the bill for these adventures is being picked up in general by Western Europe and in particular the populations of the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden whose social structures and rampant political correctness are so attractive to these “travellers”.

However, Obama has saddled his own nation with a similar version of unbridled immigrant access from Mexico and South America.

Breathtaking Paradoxes

He notes that “democracy”, in his view, will and should take different forms in nations across the globe as it takes account of local “cultural” variations, religious preferences and regional ethnic themes. Failing it would seem to appreciate that his administration and he himself personally have done all they can to undermine these local variations in his own nation and in Western Europe.

Clearly, with a sideways glance at irony his speechwriters then ignored the juxtaposition of his comments regarding capitalism beside what amounted to a socialist policy document.

“The commitments we’ve made to the Sustainable Development Goals speak to this truth. I believe that capitalism has been the greatest creator of wealth and opportunity that the world has ever known. But from big cities to rural villages around the world, we also know that prosperity is still cruelly out of reach for too many. As His Holiness Pope Francis reminds us, we are stronger when we value the least among these, and see them as equal in dignity to ourselves and our sons and our daughters.”

A Legacy of Failure & Betrayal

Obama stands atop a pile of the corpses of US veterans, coalition partners and local militia’s whose past efforts he has squandered or current efforts left unsupported via his administrations stuttering hesitancy. Obama has presided over a foreign policy free-fall that has seen countless Middle Eastern and North African bombed-tortured-enslaved-persecuted-murdered-drowned civilians, led Europe to a state of cultural collapse in the face of unhindered economic migration, and seen factions across the globe create allegiances that are firmly polarised across religious and sectarian lines.

The lampoonish figure of this man who is responsible for these outcomes lecturing us like a Mandelaesque wannabe all the while waving a CND flag while allowing Iran access to the technologies for a nuclear weapon, clutching his pro-choice card and popping dandelions in the barrels of jihadi AK-47s is all the more aggravating as he has the audacity to look as smug as his co-conspirators while pontificating. Completely ignorant of his own legacy of failure.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. At best this is what Obama and Merkel and Francis are guilty of.

Yesterday Obama delivered a “why can’t we all just get along” plea at the United Nations General Assembly in the spirit…
Posted by TMG Corporate Services on Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Misguided Faith in Failed Institutions

“It is this international order that has underwritten unparalleled advances in human liberty and prosperity. It is this collective endeavour that’s brought about diplomatic cooperation between the world’s major powers, and buttressed a global economy that has lifted more than a billion people from poverty. It is these international principles that helped constrain bigger countries from imposing our will on smaller ones, and advanced the emergence of democracy and development and individual liberty on every continent.”

Obama spoke these words as fact – the test however is “time” and to put forward this thesis as fact bears no witness to the truth that since 1945 the “institutions” which he refers to are just seventy years old and are not mature enough or tested enough to offer, as he does, as the undisputed “global solution” going forward.

In fact on countless occasions the economic, social and military concepts of co-operation and mutual self interest and “self-evident truths” – a phrase he borrowed from a Constitution which he has shamelessly trampled on since his inauguration – have crumbled in even the most minor of crises.

We are globally more unequal now than we have been at any point in the past and all the credible studies show this is to continue and not reverse.

Add to that climate change, population growth, failures in disease control, economic uncertainty and global regional conflicts and one wonders how Obama can expect those who have in the previous centuries suffered and dragged themselves from these deprivations are simply going to mortgage their nations and families futures to those who have either abandoned or destroyed theirs in their own countries.

A Race To The Lowest Common Denominator

These are facts and not ultra-liberal fiction – Obama views “equality” not as the improvement of the conditions of those who are already comfortable but a race to the lowest common denominator where those in the first world move downwards to joined those in the second and third world as they rise upwards.

It is a dreamers concept where the hodge-podge of argument and rationalisation for such a policy can only be realistic in the mind of a egocentric with a mood of entitlement.

Misquoting History

“The people of our United Nations are not as different as they are told. They can be made to fear; they can be taught to hate—but they can also respond to hope. History is littered with the failure of false prophets and fallen empires who believed that might always makes right, and that will continue to be the case. You can count on that. But we are called upon to offer a different type of leadership—leadership strong enough to recognize that nations share common interests and people share a common humanity, and, yes, there are certain ideas and principles that are universal.”

His reference to reasons for the failure of historical empires and the cherry picking of examples to support his argument makes assumption that while he is arguing against holding strong values and opinions that the number of empire’s that fell because they stuck rigidly to their beliefs is matched by those that fell by allowing the utter dilution of the very principles that made them great – most notably the greatest of them all – the Roman Empire. Obama is no student of history.

But Obama was never one for digging deep to rationalise his opinions – he after all represents a minority view of sweeping generalisations but considers himself above reproach with respect to minority affairs. A worn out notion but one which still seven years on he pulls out of his single bag of tricks to push down any opposition as radical, racist, extreme or all three preferably – completely undermining the very “message” that he purports to be the on-high appointed courier for – namely tolerance.

The Erosion of US Prestige

He has failed to grasp and those willing nodders around him have also left unobserved the awkward fact that US influence and prestige has eroded globally over the last seven years to a point where former stalwart allies and client states have sought or are seeking options elsewhere.

In May 2014 we paraphrased coverage of Obama’s whistle stop tour of the East that stated:

America’s allies are nervous. With Russia grabbing territory, China bullying its neighbours and Syria murdering its people, many are asking: where is Globocop? Under what circumstances will America act to deter troublemakers? What, ultimately, would America fight for?

In the intervening seventeen months we have been given the answer: America – under its current leadership will fight for nothing.

Filling the Vacuum

Russia is still grabbing territory but has now been joined by China and Iran who have observed – in the spirit of Chamberlain – Obama’s lack of firm intervention with respect to both the de-stabilisation of Eastern Ukraine and the annexation of the Crimea by Russia.

Obama offers the “success” of economic sanctions as the justification of not wielding a stronger stick. The uncomfortable fact is that economic sanctions have led Iran to negotiate a pro-Iranian nuclear deal which the misguided President still believes is verifiable. And pushed Russia to further expansion as a direct result of US actions. Clearly Putin is protecting Assad who has vehemently opposed the construction of the Qatari gas pipeline which actions protects Russia as the key supplier of that resource to Western Europe and the foreign currency he so badly needs.

To quote Global Research: “A battle has raged over whether pipelines will go toward Europe from east to west, from Iran and Iraq to the Mediterranean coast of Syria, or take a more northbound route from Qatar and Saudi Arabia via Syria and Turkey. Having realized that the stalled Nabucco pipeline, and indeed the entire Southern Corridor, are backed up only by Azerbaijan’s reserves and can never equal Russian supplies to Europe or thwart the construction of the South Stream, the West is in a hurry to replace them with resources from the Persian Gulf. Syria ends up being a key link in this chain, and it leaned in favour of Iran and Russia; thus it was decided in the Western capitals that its regime needs to change. The fight for democracy is a false flag thrown out to cover up totally different aims.”

In January 2015 in our post “Risks Ahead in the South China Sea” we noted that China continues to bully in the region around the Spratly and Paracel Islands.

Syria in the intervening period, along with Libya, is a failed state witness to destruction, genocide and a regional humanitarian crisis on a scale not seen since the 1940’s. The outcome of Obama inaction is that the isolated Assad and the vacuum created by lack of Western support for a lesser evil in the face of ISIS has meant that Russia, China and Iran have moved to a position of unassailable control in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

Iran has been allowed to position its Sh’ia militias all across non-KRG Iraq and embolden its proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon and Golan.

Putin’s Vision of the Middle East

Putin has a vision of a wall of Iranian-dominated, Russia-friendly, anti-American states stretching from western Afghanistan through Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean Sea. And he’s well on his way to achieving it, thanks to the nuclear deal with Iran, US military hesitancy in the region and, now, an open alliance between Russia, China, Iran, Iraq’s Shia militias, Hezbollah and the forces of the Assad regime.

That wall would not only keep out the United States, it would isolate the Kurds and overshadow the last US clients in the region, including Israel who has already moved to improve relations with Moscow and receive assurances with respect to Moscow and Beijing’s intentions as they commence a military buildup based around the port of Tartus and the Assad heartland of Damascus.

At the time (May 2014) the following was noted of Obama’s questioning by the media:

The answer to this question matters. Rogue states will behave more roguishly if they doubt America’s will to stop them. As a former head of Saudi intelligence recently said of Vladimir Putin’s land grab in Ukraine: “While the wolf is eating the sheep, there is no shepherd to come to the rescue.” Small wonder that Barack Obama was asked, at every stop during his four-country swing through Asia, how exactly he plans to wield American power. How would the president respond if China sought to expand its maritime borders by force? How might he curb North Korea’s nuclear provocations? At every press conference he was also quizzed about Ukraine.

None of these legacy issues have been materially addressed by Obama and Co. in the intervening months and yesterdays speech suggests that will be the case until November 2016 – for that speech naively pleaded for reasonable actions from unreasonable people as the solution to these problems.

Indifference in the Audience

The sceptical faces of many at the Assembly was not just made up of the usual suspects but many formerly “standing ovation” members when any US President previously delivered a keynote address at a time of great import. The lack lustre applause at the appointed times throughout the cringe worthy oratory was also notable and telling.

Obama’s own rationale and metrics can equally be applied to the foreign policy failures that he has created and presided over. In trying to cater to everybody he caters to nobody and undermines not emboldens the principles that he allegedly finds so appealing. His removal from office by the expiry of his abused mandate (making his own laws via the Supreme Court / signing Executive Orders on a weekly basis / failure to consult the “Voice of the People” – Congress) or impeachment cannot happen too quickly for the West. An abrogation of responsibility, in favour of unproven and previously failed strategies, on the scale of Obama’s has not been witnessed before and hopefully will never be again.

Terrorist Hamas uses extreme violence but not to further the Palestinian cause or to defend Palestinians

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsI am vehemently anti-Hamas although not exclusively because they arm themselves and use violence. Every society past and present has used violence to defend itself and/or to protect its interests and will continue to do so. Some were/are “just” causes others were/are not. 

Violence is & always was an integral element of human nature

The type and scale of violence and the “standards” with respect to armed conflict that used to apply – in theory (a gentleman’s code if you will / Geneva Convention most recently) – have long since fell by the wayside. 

Violence is unsavoury in all its forms but Hamas’ use of violence and the methods of its equivalents (Radical Islamists) has passed all acceptable thresholds from as far back as the 1970’s. 

Hamas Hijacking: This time it’s the Palestinian Cause not an Airplane

Hamas claim that they use force to protect their “people” against oppression, occupation, injustice and persecution. This is simply not the case. This disconnect results in tacit and in some cases outright support in the West for the Palestinian cause “represented” by Hamas. However, Hamas has in fact hijacked the Palestinian cause to further an entirely different set of strategic goals. Many in the West who lend this support misunderstand or are taken in by the false propaganda that Hamas peddles to disguise the true objectives of its use of extreme violence and aggression. 

Western Audiences Rationalising the Unthinkable

People understand others based on their own experiences. When we approach a topic like suicide bombing which is alien to all right thinking people they ask: “Wow…what would it take to make me strap a bomb to my chest to blow up a bunch of innocent people in a neighbouring country?” 

Some would say that this type of barbarous activity could only be justified because of provocation of the most extreme kind that resulted in the death of family and friends, or intense humiliation, or pure desperation. The fact is no justification exists that could legitimise anyone committing such a dreadful act. 

The Role of Veneer Thin Analysis & Biased Media Reportage 

The Western media then showcases the actions of a large, modern, well-funded army (IDF) apparently crushing an underdog that is fighting with stones and light weapons. They publish pictures of bloodied children in Gaza, bombed out houses and dead civilians to generate the impression that these actions which they describe as atrocities or state sponsored terror fuel the response from Hamas. 


Extremism & Frames of Reference

Suicide bombing is extreme, but in the context of how the media report it some people see a kind of twisted rationale behind it. However, the public’s thinking short circuits when it comes to groups like Boko Haram and ISIS, which all view as barbarians. 

Every sane person draws a blank when asking themselves “What circumstances would it take for me to behead all the men in a neighbouring town, enslave the women, and rape them until they have my children?” They have no answer – they lack anything resembling a perspective that could comprehend this let alone justify it or support it. 

The Israelis as victims of Hamas, the Christians and Muslims of the Northern States of Nigeria as victims of Boko Haram and the Kurds as victims of ISIS and Turkish State Terror all understand the perspective they are dealing with. 

Hamas, Boko Haram and ISIS all use violence as a form of religious devotion justified by their twisted interpretation of a book that was written 1400 years ago and which they interpret to suit their agenda and to develop their charters. 

The key difference between Hamas and Boko Haram / ISIS is not its ideology, it is merely that Hamas’ military tends to lose more regularly and spectacularly and use that “underdog” being bullied by an aggressor (Israel) as the key ingredient in their propaganda and funding strategies.  

They share only one thing – they are murderous extremists who cannot be negotiated with and are entrenched in views which they will not compromise for the sake of peace because they feel their cause is divine. 

The West labels it all “extremism” without fully realising that in these societies for these people it is normality and indeed seen as a religious duty. 

The Actual Strategic Objectives of Hamas

Hamas’ goal with their use of violence is not peace nor is it the achievement of a two state solution and it most certainly is not the defence of the Palestinian people. 

The Hamas objective is the explicit destruction of the sovereign State of Israel, the elimination of all Jews – man, woman and child, and the purification of a land currently held by non-believing infidels – not just Jews but Christians, Hindu’s, Buddhists, minorities – all in fact who are not Radical Islamists. This is not conjecture. The following excerpts are from the Hamas founding charter:

On Hamas belief system: 
Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur’an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief.

On killing Jews (pre-amble):
Muslims will fight the Jews and kill them; until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!

On peace (article 13):
Peace initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement.

On Israel (article 28)
Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims.

Read in full the published document: The Charter of the Hamas

Fostering A Culture of Violence and Hate 

From cradle to grave, Hamas and its predecessors have attempted to ingrain in their people a belief that the highest form of religious sacrifice is to commit violence and to give ones life for their “truths” as interpreted by them to suit their sinister agenda. Those who make that sacrifice are honoured in this world and the afterlife – by the governemnt. Streets are named after martyrs: PA names Ramallah street after Hamas terror mastermind 

Money is paid to their families as incentives rather than compensation: Documents: Saudis Paid Bombers’ FamiliesPalestinians get Saddam funds

The government has and continues to support this sacrifice by their citizens including their children who they encourage to become Shahid (witness or martyr): Arafat – “Dead Palestinian Children are the Greatest Message to the World”


Children are taught their role in the struggle: MEMRI: Hamas TV Children’s Show Encourages Killing of Jews. Palestinian children aspire to death as martyrs:

And some children play a more active role: Israel Says Children Enlist Children as Suicide Bombers – here a 14 year old suicide bomber:

Hamas possesses a entirely different mentality than Boko Haram or ISIS. Hamas many misinformed Westerners believe use violence to resist the Israeli “occupation” without realising that Hamas refers to the mere existence of Jews in Israel as an “occupation”. 

Bodies of dead and injured civilians are released and picked up globally by a liberal anti-Israeli media and attract audiences who do not understand that Hamas encourages and highlights these tragedies as a key weapon in their black propaganda efforts. 

An entire Hamas industry exists to stage powerful propaganda videos to elicit sympathy from the broader world. 

What really happens in Palestinian Media: Pallywood

This is an interesting “60 Minutes” segment about how the Palestinians use their own camera crews and actors to basically set up war scenes in their favour. Observers call it Pallywood:


Global sympathy elicited from pictures and videos of dead children are Hamas’ primary defence against the technologically stronger IDF. Sympathy is their primary source of funding from nations and individuals abroad; whether it be from those that are sympathetic to the goal of destroying Israel or those who are sympathetic to Palestinian suffering.

And the real Palestinians are suffering. Through the deprivation of their basic rights, through the stifling of their freedom to live differently, and through the constant state of war they find themselves in from both within and without – fostered by their “protectors” – Hamas.  

In summary, I do not disapprove of the use of violence to protect rights and preserve justice and oppose tyranny. But the Palestinians have a government that uses violence for far different reasons and not as a last resort – and rather than protecting free speech they stifle it, rather than uphold the rights of women to vote they suppress it, rather than encouraging new ideas to flourish they crush them, and instead of defending the Palestinian people they place them in harms way – for their own sake, for their twisted ideologies and for their personal enrichment.

The Noble (and Uber Wealthy) Man of the People

Yasser Arafat was the original head of the PLO, the mastermind behind the suicide bombing tactic, and the leader of the Palestinian PR strategy. Hamas has since taken control of Gaza, but they mention their close relationship with the PLO in their charter. 

Arafat was estimated by Forbes to have a net worth of US$300m at the time of his death, and a peak net worth of over US$1b; almost all of which was international aid and donations. His wife was well-known for her extravagant lifestyle in France, where she rented entire floors of luxury hotels and spent millions on high fashion: Why was €1m a month sent to Arafat’s wife?

Sixty Seconds to Show You What Hamas Does With Foreign Aid for its People



Acknowledgements:

First published Anonymously on Quora here.

My answer to "Why can’t Palestinians vote in Israeli elections?"

My answer to “Why can’t Palestinians vote in Israeli elections?”


Original question and other contributors’ answers can be read on QUORA at: https://www.quora.com/Why-cant-Palestinians-vote-in-Israeli-elections

The question is basically flawed and demonstrates a lack of understanding regarding the difference between Palestinians and Israelis and the states of Palestine and Israel. Like most of the debate on this subject the question is attempting to be rhetorical, it is emotive, uninformed and leads the debate down the usual “cul-de-sac” which is typically nuanced by anti-Israeli sentiment and blind support for a Palestinian cause that is flawed and fundamentally at odds with and supported by elements totally alien to Western / Israeli interests.

Palestine, Gaza, the West Bank, Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah and so on are all subjects on which many Westerners are prepared to hold very strong opinions regarding a subject on which they are generally thoroughly misinformed (based on biased media reports or blanket “liberal” agendas) or regarding which they possess no context or actual information – based on facts – that would inform an educated view on the matter.


The Palestinians do exercise their votes locally and most recently did so to choose Hamas – a terrorist organization – as their “democratically” elected representatives. Hamas – a group – who have zero interest in democracy.

Iran & Saudi Arabia – Proxy Wars

Iran and Saudi Arabia have been and are presently fighting proxy “sphere of influence” wars across the region via terrorist / extremist groups such as Hamas / Hezbollah / Fatah / ISIS and most recently in Yemen via Zaidi Shia rebels known as Houthis / AQAP.


Hamas –  Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah Islamic Resistance Movement

Hamas (Arabic: حماس‎ Ḥamās, “enthusiasm”, an acronym of حركة المقاومة الاسلامية Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah Islamic Resistance Movement) is a Palestinian Islamic organization, with an associated military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, in the Palestinian territories and elsewhere in the Middle East including Qatar. Hamas or its military wing is designated as a terrorist organization by Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The organization was also banned in Jordan.

Elections in Gaza and the West Bank

In the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, Hamas won a decisive majority in the Palestinian Parliament, defeating the PLO-affiliated Fatah party. Following the elections, the Quartet (the United States, Russia, United Nations and European Union) made future foreign assistance to the PA conditional upon the future government’s commitment to non-violence, recognition of the state of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements. 

Hamas rejected those changes, which led to the Quartet suspending its foreign assistance program and Israel imposing economic sanctions on the Hamas-led administration. In March 2007, a national unity government headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas was briefly formed, but this failed to restart international financial assistance.

Internal Fighting – The Battle of Gaza 2007

Tensions over control of Palestinian security forces soon erupted in the 2007 Battle of Gaza, after which Hamas took control of Gaza, while its officials were ousted from government positions in the West Bank. Israel and Egypt then imposed an economic blockade of the Gaza Strip, on the grounds that Fatah forces were no longer providing security there. 

In 2011, Hamas and Fatah announced a reconciliation agreement that provides for creation of a joint caretaker Palestinian government. Progress has stalled, until an April 2014 agreement to form a compromise unity government, with elections to be held in late 2014. In 2006, Hamas used an underground cross-border tunnel to abduct the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, holding him captive until 2011, when he was released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. 

Since then, Hamas has continued building a network of internal and cross-border tunnels, which are used to store and deploy weapons, shield militants, and facilitate cross-border attacks. Destroying the tunnels was a primary objective of Israeli forces in the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict – Operation Protective Edge.

The Palestinian National Authority

Elections in the Palestinian National Authority refers to elections held in Palestinian Autonomous areas from 1994 until its transition into the State of Palestine in 2013. Elections were scheduled to be held in 2009 per the state’s own laws,[1] but the Next Palestinian general election was disrupted amidst a conflict between Hamas and Fatah.

President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to stay on until the next election, but he is recognised only in the West Bank and not in Gaza. The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) has held several elections in the Palestinian territories, including elections for a president, legislature and local councils. Until 2007, the National Council had 133 members, with 66 members elected in 16 multi-seat constituencies, 66 elected proportional to the vote for each party, and the president as ex officio member. 

In 2007, the voting system was changed by Presidential Decree to abolish the constituency seats, and also prohibiting parties from contesting the election which did not acknowledge the PLO’s right to represent the Palestinian people (specifically Hamas). An opinion poll suggested that a majority of Palestinians supported the change, while Hamas called it illegal. 

Fatah and Hamas / Gaza and the West Bank

The PNA has a multi-party system, with numerous parties. In this system Fatah was the dominant party. The first Legislative and presidential election were held in 1996; the first local elections in January–May 2005, organized by PNA president Yasser Arafat before his death. Previous (failed) legislative Council elections were held in 1923 under the British Mandate. Previous municipal elections were held in 1972 and 1976 and were organized by Israel.

The January 2005 presidential election, won by Mahmoud Abbas, preceded the Hamas victory during the legislative election in January 2006.

Sources & Acknowledgements: Wikipedia / TMG Corporate Services / BBC News  

France’s contradictory stance continues to stupify

It would appear that the Obama administration is de-listing Iran as a state-sponsor of terror in order to reach a deal on nuclear weapons development. The administration is also intent on de-listing terrorist group Hezbollah, according to sources, leading to the bizarre situation where a clearly radical terrorist Islamic group is being described by this “basket-case” administration as a legitimate organization. 

This is one of those rare situations where even though Iranian Shi’a backed militias and Hezbollah are fighting against ISIL the adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is not applicable. Remember Iran and Hezbollah support the Assad regime in Syria – the lack of support from the West to rebels fighting Assad since 2011 facilitated the rise of ISIL. Not content with that extremely poor outcome it now seems that Iran and Hezbollah can look forward to being given a freer rein in the pursuit of their equally extreme agendas in return for their support in fighting ISIL and so that Obama can claim an ego driven victory as he fiddles and waits to exit the White House after eight disastrous years of foreign policy decisions. Decisions which Europe is starting to pay dearly for and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

That would seem like enough bad news for Israel this week but amazingly less that three months after the Hebdo attacks and other outrages perpetuated by radical Islamists in France the deluded French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called for a relaunch of the Middle East peace process based on a two-state solution.

“Only the creation of viable sovereign Palestinian state… will ensure peace and prosperity in the Middle East,” he said in a statement that called for negotiations to resume to achieve “a comprehensive and lasting peace accord.” The words “comprehensive” and “lasting” and “peace” do not exist in the Iranian or Hezbollah / Hamas / Fatah lexicon when discussing Israel and Fabius knows that. 
Netanyahu won a closely-fought election on Tuesday, during the election campaign, Netanyahu specifically stated that he would not accept the establishment of a Palestinian state. This is a key part of the two-state solution backed by the EU and France in December 2014. Netanyahu had previously accepted this concept in 2009 before the Palestinian Authority demonstrated that their intention was and still is a policy of no compromise dismantling and destruction of the Israeli state.  
Palestinian Authority leaders reacted negatively to Netanyahu’s victory, expressing fear that the Israeli leader would thwart efforts to establish a Palestinian state. Now France sticks in its nose with a sweeping and unrealistic statement which once again shows those that seek to undermine Western society and Israel that they still have sponsors at the highest level of European politics. 
With Iran being courted by the US and seemingly allowed to continue towards the objective of possessing nuclear weapons, with Obama openly hostile to Netanyahu and Israeli interests, with ISIL attacking Lebanon and Hamas vowing a fresh spate of attacks on Israel does it seem realistic to ask Israelis to allow the creation of an openly hostile and extremist nation on its doorstep?
France once again adds its voice to a debate where in the past it has always been found to be lacking and where its follow through has always lagged behind its rhetoric. Does guilt play a part? It was the drawing of borders in the Middle East by France and Great Britain after World War 1, with total disregard for ethnic or historical precedent (solely based on self interest), that has allowed subsequent generations to inherit the Middle East problem. 
France has domestic problems that it should focus its attention on before confusing the international debate on issues where it has nothing constructive to add. The liberal agenda in France has always been perceived to hold sway to such an extent that the nation is uncompetitive and which policies, showing a complete disregard for its citizens, have led to a sustained and steady rise of far-right wing support in France. 
The EU and France in particular with a well worn and clearly “unfit for purpose” policy of appeasement towards radical Islam need to accept that concessions such as these will buy no good will or long term strategy alterations from those that seek to undermine all that the West and France holds dear. The rest of Europe should not pay the price for France’s lack of control of immigration since the 1960’s where policy is now being dictated by a sizeable section of voters whose ideals are fundamentally at odds with traditional European values. 
France does not speak for Europe, the current French government does not represent the views of its citizens, liberal France in its appeasement of radical Islam is as dangerous as the threat it seeks to appease. Fix your own house France before looking to cast aspersions on the state of others.

Graham Penrose

The Palestinian Paradox in French Foreign Policy

Hamas (Arabic: حماس‎ Ḥamās, “enthusiasm”, an acronym of حركة المقاومة الاسلامية Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah Islamic Resistance Movement) is a Palestinian Islamic organization, with an associated military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, in the Palestinian territories and elsewhere in the Middle East including Qatar. Hamas or its military wing is designated as a terrorist organization by Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The organization was also banned in Jordan.
Fig. 1 Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
Hamas Praising & Then Condemning the January 2015 Paris Terror Attacks
The Facebook page of Al-Rasalah, a publication of the Palestinian terror group Hamas, on Friday evening the 9th January 2015 ran a picture of the three Muslim terrorists behind the two deadly terror attacks in Paris – the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the connected shooting of a policewoman in Montrouge after which the gunman took several people hostage at a kosher supermarket at Porte de Vincennes in the east of Paris.
Fig. 2Paris Attacks – January 2015

The picture of the three – Cherif Kouachi, Said Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly (not pictured in the release was Coulibaly’s absconding associate and female Hayat Boumeddiene) was accompanied by the caption:
The shahidim [martyrs] who were dispatched by God, the heroes of the raid in Paris.”
Hamas later removed praise for the attacks from all official Hamas websites, Israel Hayom reported. On Saturday the 10thJanuary 2015, the Gaza-based terror group issued a statement condemning the Paris attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket, saying that there was no “justification for killing innocents.”
Fig. 3 Hamas Publication Praises Paris Terrorists
The Radicalisation of Hayat Boumeddiene
Fig. 4 Hayat Boumeddiene from bikini to Abaya
Little is known about the personal life of Hayat Boumeddiene. But she is believed to have met Amedy while working as a cashier and was said to have waited at least four years for him while he served time for an armed robbery conviction. In 2009 she quit her job and married her lover in an unofficial religious ceremony before settling down in Bagneux, Hauts-de-Seine. The pair mixed in radical Islamic circles and have been linked to the same groups as Abu Hamza. When she was once questioned by French media on the terror attacks committed by Al Qaeda and she responded by asking what about “the innocents killed by the Americans?”
The Hamas Political “Legitimisation”
In the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, Hamas won a decisive majority in the Palestinian Parliament, defeating the PLO-affiliated Fatah party. Following the elections, the Quartet (the United States, Russia, United Nations and European Union) made future foreign assistance to the PA conditional upon the future government’s commitment to non-violence, recognition of the state of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements.
Hamas rejected those changes, which led to the Quartet suspending its foreign assistance program and Israel imposing economic sanctions on the Hamas-led administration. In March 2007, a national unity government headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas was briefly formed, but this failed to restart international financial assistance.
Fig. 5 Read The Hamas Covenant also known as Hamas Charter
Tensions over control of Palestinian security forces soon erupted in the 2007 Battle of Gaza, after which Hamas took control of Gaza, while its officials were ousted from government positions in the West Bank. Israel and Egypt then imposed an economic blockade of the Gaza Strip, on the grounds that Fatah forces were no longer providing security there.
In 2011, Hamas and Fatah announced a reconciliation agreement that provides for creation of a joint caretaker Palestinian government. Progress has stalled, until an April 2014 agreement to form a compromise unity government, with elections to be held in late 2014.
In 2006, Hamas used an underground cross-border tunnel to abduct the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, holding him captive until 2011, when he was released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. Since then, Hamas has continued building a network of internal and cross-border tunnels, which are used to store and deploy weapons, shield militants, and facilitate cross-border attacks. Destroying the tunnels was a primary objective of Israeli forces in the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict – Operation Protective Edge.
Fig. 6 Palestinian Leadership Nodes (2010)
The Palestinian Diaspora
The first large-scale emigration of Palestinian Christians out of Palestine began in the mid-19th century as a response to the oppression of Christians by the Ottoman Empire.
Since the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Palestinians have experienced several waves of exileand have spread into different host countriesaround the world.In addition to the more than 700,000 in 1948, hundreds of thousands were also displaced in the 1967 Six Day War. The pattern of Palestinian flight continued during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
The countries outside the Palestinian territories with significant Palestinian populations are: Jordan 3,240,000; Israel 1,650,000; Syria 630,000; Chile 500,000; Lebanon 402,582; Saudi Arabia 280,245; Egypt 270,245; United States 255,000; Honduras 250,000; Mexico 120,000; Qatar 100,00; Germany 80,000; Kuwait 80,000; El Salvador 70,000; Brazil 59,000; Iraq 57,000; Yemen 55,000; Canada 50,975; Australia 45,000; Libya 44,000; United Kingdom 20,000; Denmark 19000; Peru 15,000; Colombia 12,000; Pakistan 10,500; Netherlands 9,000; Sweden 7,000; Algeria 4,030.
The majority of the estimated 100,000 Palestinians in the European Union (EU) are in the United Kingdom, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. Outside the EU is Norway and Switzerland.
Germany’s capital Berlin has one of the largest Palestinian communities outside of the Middle East with about 30,000-40,000 people of Palestinian origin residing in the city (~1% of the total population)
Support by France for Palestinian Nationhood and the Hamas Paradox
A mismatch between public opinion in support of the Palestinians’ cause and politicians’ compliance with Israel’s wishes has guaranteed no end to the strife, and no likelihood of conditions to create a Palestinian nation.
Increases in support for Palestinian nationhood were reported throughout 2014 from Spain, France, Germany and Britain. In Australia, polls also showed a majority of Australians supporting the Palestinian cause.
France has warned that if the international community fails to resolve the Middle East impasse, it would recognize Palestine as a state. French lawmakers are set to hold a vote on Palestine nationhood on December 2, 2014
French parliamentarians debated the December 2 vote. A similar resolution was approved by British lawmakers on October 3, by the Spanish parliament on November 18, and Sweden formally recognized the state of Palestine on October 3. A poll conducted by IFOP (French Institute of Public Opinion) showed 63 percent of the French population in favor of an independent Palestinian state.
The U.N. Security Council, in a close 8-2 vote with five abstentions, on 30th December 2014 voted down a Palestinian statehood resolution that set a deadline for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian territories by 2017.
Eight nations voted for the draft resolution — one vote short of the necessary nine to be adopted — including Jordan, which sponsored the resolution, and three permanent Security Council members: China, Russia and France. The United States voted against the resolution on the table and had been expected to exercise its permanent council member authority and veto the measure, had it passed.
Two weeks later Hamas – the “democratically” elected “government” of Gaza praised the Paris Terror attacks.
International Terrorist Designation of Hamas
Country
Designation
The military wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, is listed as a terrorist organization.[427]
The military wing of Hamas, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has been listed as a terrorist entity since 2010.[428]
Under the Anti-Terrorism Act, the Government of Canada currently lists Hamas as a terrorist entity, thus establishing it as a terrorist group, since 2002.[429][430]
The EU designated Hamas as a terrorist group from 2003 to 2014. In December 2014, the General Court of the European Union annulled this decision. The court stated that the move was technical and was not a reassessment of Hamas’ classification as a terrorist group.[431][432][433][434][435][436][437]
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs states, “Hamas maintains a terrorist infrastructure in Gaza and the West Bank, and acts to carry out terrorist attacks in the territories and Israel.”[438]
As of 2005, Japan had frozen the assets of 472 terrorists and terrorist organizations including those of Hamas.[439] However, in 2006 it publicly acknowledged that Hamas had won the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections democratically.[440]
Banned Hamas in 1999[441] In 2013, Jordan rejected requests to allow Hamas to return.[15]
Russia does not designate Hamas a terrorist organisation, and held direct talks with Hamas in 2006, after Hamas won the Palestine elections, stating that it did so to press Hamas to reject violence and recognise Israel.[442] An Israeli official has said that Russia will reduce its ties to Hamas.[443]
The Turkish government met with Hamas leaders in February 2006, after the organization’s victory in the Palestinian elections. In 2010, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described Hamas as “resistance fighters who are struggling to defend their land”.[444][445]
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades have been listed as a proscribed organization under the Terrorism Act since 2001, but Hamas as a whole is not listed.[446]
As of 2006, China does not designate Hamas to be a terrorist organization and acknowledges Hamas to be the legitimately elected political entity in the Gaza Strip that represents the Palestinian people. Despite U.S. and Israeli opposition, the Chinese government met with senior Hamas representative Mahmoud al-Zahar, who previously served as Palestinian foreign minister, during the June 2006 China-Arab Cooperation Forum in Beijing, an held direct bilateral talks with Hamas and the Arab World. In addition, during the same month, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry further elucidated China’s pro-Palestinian stance regarding Hamas in spite of U.S. and Israeli opposition to China’s associations and close relationship with the organization, stating, “We believe that the Palestinian government is legally elected by the people there and it should be respected.”[19][20][22][447]
Lists Hamas as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization”[448]
Banned Hamas in 2014 and branded it a terrorist organization. Egyptian authorities accuse the group of supporting al Qaeda-inspired Islamist insurgents in the Sinai peninsula.[449][450]
Banned the Muslim Brotherhood in 2014 and branded it a terrorist organization. While Hamas is not specifically listed, a non-official Saudi source stated that the decision also encompasses its branches in other countries, including Hamas.[451]

Acknowledgements
Stuart Rees, Professor Emeritus of the University of Sydney and Chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation.
The Algemeiner – The fastest growing Jewish newspaper in America
Twitter Account: Jewhadi @blastedsilver #2A #IstandWithIsrael #Kurds #Peshmerga #Yezidi #OpAntiISIS