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M i d e a s t Newsstand

Riddle of the Ages Solved: Where Did the Philistines Come From? – Julia Fridman/Haaretz, Archaeology

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Anomalous discoveries in southern Turkey now explained: The Philistine ‘Sea Peoples’ didn’t invade Kunulua, they lived there.

As civilization collapsed 3,200 years ago, the Sea People – of whom the Philistines were but one – arose, seemingly sweeping away all that stood before them. Now we know where they came from, and it’s not what scholars thought.

Back then, the mighty Hittite kingdom spanned much of the territory known today as Turkey and Syria. Then, as the Late Bronze Age graduated into the Iron Age I, around 1177 BCE, the entire civilization of the Mediterranean and the Near East collapsed – and the “Sea Peoples,” including the Philistines, ascended.

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Why Israel wants a religious war over Al-Aqsa – Al Jazeera English

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Much of the media coverage of recent raids and protests by Israeli police and settlers at Al-Aqsa Mosque have focused on the “exclusive Muslim control” over the compound in Israeli-occupied Jerusalem, and Palestinian fears of the demand by Jewish settlers to “divide it”. Lost in the religious warfare narrative is the colonial impulse governing both Israeli actions and Palestinian reactions. Where does the struggle for Al-Aqsa fit within the wider Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Four leading Palestinian figures give their take on the latest round of Israeli violence at Al-Aqsa.

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Drinking Kosher Moonshine in Pariah Town

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Bibi:  Goddam this moonshine’s good – give me more!

General Z:  Think you’ve had enough – should go home now and–

Bibi:  Awww put a sock in it and give me s’more – I’m in the middle of having a great fish-fish… fission: I mean vision–

General Z:  Mr. Prime Minister, I urge you please stop drinking or you’ll–

Bibi snatches the bottle of moonshine from the General’s hand and takes a long spilling swig.

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Israel, Russia to coordinate military action on Syria: Netanyahu – Reuters

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NOVO-OGARYOVO, Russia – Israel and Russia agreed on Monday to coordinate military actions over Syria in order to avoid accidentally trading fire, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a visit to Moscow.

Recent Russian reinforcements for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which regional sources say include warplanes and anti-aircraft systems, worry Israel, whose jets have on occasion bombed the neighboring Arab country to foil suspected handovers of advanced arms to Assad’s Lebanese guerrilla ally Hezbollah.

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Most Palestinians no longer support two-state solution – Ali Sawafta/Reuters

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RAMALLAH, West Bank – More than half of Palestinians no longer support a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel, a survey released on Monday showed, rejecting the goal that has underpinned four decades of international diplomacy.

The poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, a leading research group in the Palestinian territories, found that 51 percent of Palestinians oppose the two-state solution while 48 percent support it.

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IS defectors ‘disillusioned with killing Muslims’ – AFP

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London – A growing number of “disillusioned” Islamic State fighters are defecting from the jihadist group and could be used by governments to deter potential recruits, a report published Monday said.

At least 58 people have left the group and publicly spoken about their defection since January 2014, according to the report by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ISCR) at King’s College London.

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US singer Pharrell faces protest at S.African concert – AFP

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Cape Town – Grammy award-winning American musician Pharrell Williams will face a protest by thousands of Palestinian supporters at a concert in Cape Town on Monday, organisers of the demonstration said.

Members of pro-Palestinian group Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) are campaigning against the singer’s partnership with major South African retail group Woolworths, over its imports from Israel.

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Yes, America’s Military Supremacy Is Fading (And We Should Not Panic) – Robert Farley/The National Interest

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Last week, Air Force General Frank Gorenc argued that the airpower advantage the United States has enjoyed over Russia and China is shrinking. This warning comes as part of a deluge of commentary on the waning international position of the United States. The U.S. military, it would seem, is at risk of no longer being able to go where it wants, and do what it wants to whomever it wants. Diplomatically, the United States has struggled, as of late, to assemble “coalitions of the willing” interested in following Washington into the maw of every waiting crisis.

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The iconic Beirut kebab house that thrived even during war – Hugh Naylor/The Washington Post

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BEIRUT — In a country that has long faced the uncertainty of war and religious strife, you can bet on one thing. The doors that lead to Barbar’s world-class kebabs will be open.

Arguably the most famous eatery in Lebanon has never closed since opening for business in 1979, the many fans of the establishment will tell you.

The spits that rotate Barbar’s succulent hunks of beef and chicken over slow-roasting flames didn’t stop during the civil war that ended in 1990, management and employees say with pride. They say the grilling continued – 24/7 – even on the day that a rocket-propelled grenade struck the Beirut-based restaurant’s entrance.

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Rebels see tougher war with Russians in Syria, evoke Afghanistan – Tom Perry/Reuters

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Rebels who have inflicted big losses on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad say Russia’s intervention in support of its ally will only lead to an escalation of the war and may encourage the rebels’ Gulf Arab backers to pour in more military aid.

Russia’s deployment is prompting a reassessment of the conflict among insurgents whose advances in western Syria in recent months may have been the catalyst for Russia’s decision. U.S. officials say Russian forces are already arriving.

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Settler Terrorism: An American Problem – Ibrahim Sharqieh/HuffPo

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Writing to the Huffington Post has proven to be much easier for me than explaining to my Virginia-born, 12-year-old daughter why a group of youths near the West Bank city of Nablus where throwing stones at the Israeli army last month as we found ourselves stuck in traffic due to the crossfire. I had to tell her that the protests were because Israeli settlers living nearby had attacked the home of a Palestinian family, setting it on fire as they slept and burning 18-month-old toddler Ali Dawabsheh to death. Last week my task became harder as I had to explain to my daughter that the toddler’s mother also died after a month of fighting serious burns in the hospital, just as his father did several weeks ago.

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Biggest Threat to US National Security – Preston James/Veterans Today

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The biggest threat to true US National Security is the Establishment itself, best referred to as the “National Security State”.

America is now plagued by an Establishment controlled National Security Apparatus which itself is our current biggest threat to National Security.

Yes, the biggest current threat to our real US National Security is from the Establishment itself: the network of Establishment controlled institutions and agencies that claim their main function is to protect US National Security.

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Brazil rejects naming of former settlement director as Israel ambassador – Fox News Latino

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Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff rejected Israel’s naming of a former settlement director, Dani Dayan, as the Jewish state’s ambassador in Brasilia because of the message that could send.

Rousseff informed Israel of her discomfort with Dayan’s appointment because he had lived in a settlement in occupied Palestinian territory and had been the head of a movement that the international community rejects, the daily Yediot Aharonot reported Sunday.
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Israel Needs New Friends – Shmuel Rosner/The New York Times

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TEL AVIV — Now that the Iran nuclear deal is a fait accompli, it has become a well-established belief that relations between America and Israel are at a low point. Most Israelis argue that this is mainly because of President Obama’s policies.

Opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tend to point their finger at the Israeli prime minister. But the two camps agree on the way forward: the kind of relations the countries used to have must be restored, they say. The first step in this healing process is supposed to occur when Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu meet in Washington in early November.

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Refugees: Pawns on Chessboard – Piotr Iskenderov/Voltairenet.org

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It stands to reason that Brussels does not have any direct political and legal mechanisms to impose a mandatory refugee allocation quota system on Serbia. At the disposal of the European Commission, however —which is currently Germany-centric in every way possible— is an even more sophisticated way to use the territory of Serbia in its own interests: to turn the country into a cesspool for all those illegal immigrants that Germany, Austria and the other ‘civilised’ EU members refuse to accept.

The idea, clothed in polite diplomatic wording, was brought to the attention of Serbian Prime Minister Alexander Vučić by Angela Merkel herself. She has called for the head of the Serbian government to set up temporary reception centres for refugees and migrants along the Serbian Macedonian border. In addition, the Serbian government is obliged to grant refugees unrestricted and priority passage through Serbia to its border with Hungary.
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Muslim group condemns Carson comment, calls for repudiation – The Washington Post

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OCCUPIED WASHINGTON — The nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group says lawmakers from across the political spectrum should repudiate Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson’s comments that the Islamic faith is inconsistent with the Constitution and that he would not agree with a Muslim being elected president.

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Hamas or the Palestinian Authority: Who will Fail First? – Daniel Byman/Lawfare

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As the Arab Spring went sour, country after country in the Middle East went from protest and nascent democracy to strife and even civil war. Yet one part of the region seemed relatively untouched: the Palestinian arena. This calm seemed particularly surprising, as many observers long pointed to the Palestinians’ unsuccessful national aspirations as the source of much of the region’s instability.

This lull may not last, however. Two movements dominate Palestinian politics: Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group and political movement that rules Gaza, and Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority (PA) that runs the West Bank. Both are on the ropes, and the failure of either—even Hamas—could make a bad situation even worse.
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Israel Up in Arms Over the Corbyn Threat – Neve Gordon/CounterPunch

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Following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour’s new leader, the news in Israel was bleak. “New Labor Leader in Britain: Anti-Zionist” read the headline of Yisrael Hayom, the most widely read newspaper in Israel, which is owned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s longtime supporter, casino king Sheldon Adelson. The subtitle explained: “Bad Surprise: The newly elected head of opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, who in the past called for a dialogue with ‘friends’ from Hamas and Hezbollah, is known as a radical lefty, an admirer of Karl Marx.”

The article goes on to claim that Corbyn has donated money to Holocaust deniers and notes with alarm that, as head of the opposition, he has the right to receive sensitive security and diplomatic updates.

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Lebanese communist fighters gear up to battle ISIL – Patrick Strickland/Al Jazeera English

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Caption, top: Lebanese Communist Party – bottom: We Will Resist..

Ras Baalbek, Lebanon – Abu Leila, a 53-year-old fighter and member of the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP), was first trained to carry weapons when the Israeli military occupied large swaths of the country during the Lebanese civil war.

“Everything I know about resistance, about carrying arms to protect this country, started during the Israeli occupation,” Abu Leila, who spoke under a pseudonym, told Al Jazeera, noting he was imprisoned in Israel “for resistance activities” in 1982 and released two years later during a prisoner swap. “Today we are ready to fight takfiri [extremist] groups here.”

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Russia is not the enemy – Stephen Kinzer/The Boston Globe

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Real enemies are a threat to any country, but imagined enemies can be even more dangerous. They sap resources, provoke needless conflicts, and divert attention from true challenges. The United States has constructed such a fantasy by turning Russia into an enemy.

Our current campaign against Russia was set off by what some in Washington call its “aggression” against neighboring Ukraine. Russia’s decision to aid the Assad regime in Syria has also angered us. The true reasons for anti-Russia sentiment, though, lie deeper.

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A Symbolic Act – Daoud Kuttab/Al Jazeera English

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The story of Imad Abu Shakra is emblematic of the struggle for sovereignty

Imad Abu Shakra was only 17 on the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba, the catastrophe which created the Palestinian refugee problem. Born in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp in Ein al-Hilweh, Abu Shakra spent May 14, 2011 visiting friends and paying back small debts he owed to a neighbour. His mother said that he kept on hugging and kissing her. He said he would miss her.

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Welcome to Israeli Nuclear Weapons 101 – Daniel R. DePetris/The National Interest

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The Iranian nuclear nonproliferation agreement has been the top foreign policy issue throughout Washington for the past two months.  Approving or disapproving the deal was the first order of business for the U.S. Congress until the very last day of congressional action under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (September 17).  Hours of debate have been conducted on the floors of the House and Senate, both chambers have held roll call votes, and Senate Democrats bonded together to filibuster a motion of disapproval — a resolution that would have prevented President Obama from providing the Iranians sanctions relief.

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Finger-Pointing, but Few Answers, After a Syria Solution Fails – Peter Baker/The New York Times

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WASHINGTON — By any measure, President Obama’s effort to train a Syrian opposition army to fight the Islamic State on the ground has been an abysmal failure. The military acknowledged this week that just four or five American-trained fighters are actually fighting.

But the White House says it is not to blame. The finger, it says, should be pointed not at Mr. Obama but at those who pressed him to attempt training Syrian rebels in the first place — a group that, in addition to congressional Republicans, happened to include former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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How Dictation Software Makes Us Rethink Writing – Clive Thompson/WIRED

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If I’ve written you an email on my phone lately, you might have noticed something slightly off about it. It doesn’t read like email from me used to. I use fewer contractions, fewer adverbs, and I’m more likely to ramble.

What’s changed is that, a year ago, I discovered that Android and Apple phones have become so good at transcription, it’s now much faster for me to talk than type. (And that’s saying a lot: I was a fast phone-typist.) So while sending texts and emails or using chat apps on my phone, I started talking it out—then quickly cleaning up any wrong words. There are shockingly few. I’d estimate that fully two-thirds of all messages I compose on my phone are now spoken.

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Bombing is immoral, stupid and never wins wars. Syria is the latest victim – Simon Jenkins/The Guardian

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The British government will shortly ask parliament to approve its sixth war of overseas intervention in just two decades. The victim will be Syria. Such a war is incoherent. The “enemy” appears to be both sides in a civil war – Islamic State and the Syrian regime.

Worse, the war will be limited to the cruellest, most destructive and strategically most useless of weapons, the airborne bomb. Since its invention a century ago the bomb has maintained a mesmeric hold on politicians and soldiers alike. It is now the all-purpose totemic answer to “something must be done”. In Syria it impossible to understand what Britain will be bombing and to what strategic goal.

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Secrets of the Ancient Empires: The First Cities – History Documentary

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*Recommended viewing

Obama’s Fateful Syrian Choice – Robert Parry/Information Clearing House

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President Obama faces a choice that could define his legacy and the future of the American Republic: He can either work with Russia’s President Putin to stabilize Syria or he can opt for a confrontation that could lead to an open-ended war with grave risks of escalation, writes Robert Parry.

There is an obvious course that President Barack Obama could follow if he wants to lessen the crises stemming from the Syrian war and other U.S. “regime change” strategies of the past several decades, but it would require him to admit that recent interventions (including his own) have represented a strategic disaster.

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Why Are Gulf States Refusing To Take In Syrian Refugees? – The Young Turks News

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Don’t talk Zionism – Uri Avnery/Veterans Today

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[ VT Editor’s note: Oh my, I go overseas for a week and Uri writes an article on what a hoax Zionism is. An editor cannot turn his back for a minute without someone trying to slip a good piece by me without an editor’s note. But Erica gave me the heads up, so I now have the pleasure.

Something must be in the air. We are starting to see more publicizing on things like what a silly term “anti-Semite” is. I interviewed a Lebanese 79-year-old retired journalist today (yes, of Semitic origin) who told me with a twist of humor that he resents being told he is against himself, as he can’t afford the shrink bills.

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Why Iran, Saudi Arabia keep locking horns on Syria – Ellie Geranmayeh/Al-Monitor

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The opening created in the aftermath of the July 14 nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, or P5+1), which could have triggered a diplomatic uplift over Syria, has so far been wasted. Instead, the regional divide over Syria is deepening and major powers have failed to seriously press Riyadh and Tehran to de-escalate their proxy war in Syria. Meanwhile, the costs for the West and the Middle East continue rising as a result of the festering crises in Syria and Iraq.

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