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December 03, 2012

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John: would you please comment on how our stance toward Israel fits here? Some see this as a festering sore and a lack of realistic policy that would treat the Palestinians fairly. Kissing Bibi's nalgas does not seem to be answer.

Excellent piece Jon.
Morecleanair:
Some young Israelite soldiers are suggesting turning Palestine into a scorched earth PARKING LOT.

morecleanair,

I don't think our national interests are served by being chained to Israel, particularly to the Bibi government. A fair and humane settlement with the Palestinians is essential. It would go far to cutting the legs out from under anti-American extremism.

morecleanair,

I don't think our national interests are served by being chained to Israel, particularly to the Bibi government. A fair and humane settlement with the Palestinians is essential. It would go far to cutting the legs out from under anti-American extremism.

Jon: I understand and agree with your point of view. What I DON'T understand is our unswerving support of Israel. Is their lobby that strong? Is our myopia that strong? Do we believe that it is unChristian (or something) to expect a higher standard of behavior?

The lobby is that strong, plus the evangelicals.

OT, but here's a story of how solid blue Seattle ensured that red/purple Washington state elected another Democratic governor. Imagine if Phoenix voters could act with such purpose.

http://blogs.seattletimes.com/politicsnorthwest/2012/12/03/seattle-powered-inslee-victory/?cmpid=2628

i'm sure gonna vote against militarism and indefinite detention/assassinations the next time it's on the ballot.

Also OT, but worth a look. I know some of you tire of Jim Kunstler, but he nails it this time. Metro Phoenix, meet a mirror:

http://kunstler.com/blog/2012/12/homeless.html

To the Kooks, any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism. Besides we are in a global war against Islam and all people who are not true Kooks are Communists.

I read Kunstler every Monday, as he is a talented writer and has an interesting take on things. There were a couple of jewels today:

"a narcissistic vapor-realm of canned entertainment, pornography, texting (i.e. melodrama created to fill a void of purposelessness), and the sado-masochistic combats of video games (a substitute for purposeful, virile endeavor), all floating on a virtual river of relentless advertising."

"...storage containers for lives unspent"

Although I don't share the utopia of us all foraging for firewood (or in Phoenix's case, compressed particle board and dessicated plants).

There is an Amber-alert for Jan Brewer.

If you see a little girl who looks like Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies wearing a blond wig, please call your local authorities.

Jon, Kunstler was good. I sent the site around with the statement "if you cant find the energy to read the entire article at least read the last paragraph.

"I had a fugitive thought the other evening walking through my beaten-down small town in the late fall chill. I imagined that instead of the blue tomb-like glow of television emanating from house to house that I could hear the sequential music of parlor pianos, and voices singing to them, and of healthy people coming and going from warm kitchens to fetch firewood, and of groups of people gathered around tables for a meal, and generally of buildings that were truly inhabited, not just storage containers for lives unspent. I grant you it was a fleeting nostalgic fantasy. But isn't nostalgia just a state of being homesick?"

Very good, Mr. Talton.

Some supplemental figures on national defense spending, for those interested:

(1) As a percentage of GDP:

1988: 5.8%
1998: 3.1%
2011: 4.7%

(2) As a percentage of federal spending:

1988: 27.3%
1998: 16.3%
2011: 19.6%

See Table 3.1:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Historicals

Mr. Talton is quite right in saying that military spending is far greater now in inflation-adjusted dollars than in 1988 or in 1998. You can find constant dollar figures (base year 2005) for national defense spending for every year from 1962-2011 with projections through 2017 in Table 8.8 (same link above).

With the wars winding down, the White House (OMB) projections show a huge decrease in military spending: by 2015 this is expected to shrink to a Clinton era (1998) 3.1% of GDP, and 14.1% of federal spending (even less than in 1998), as well as $457 billion in inflation-adjusted (2005) dollars, as compared to $476 billion in 1988 and $349 billion in 1998.

Of course, getting there may require the cooperation of House Republicans (and some Democrats). Meanwhile, money is at stake, and money talks.

"With 82 percent of our company’s sales derived from U.S. government customers, we naturally have interactions with virtually every standing committee in the United States Congress who has oversight authority over the budgets and policies of all federal agencies, and by extension, the products and services that Lockheed Martin provides to them."

-- Jennifer Allen, Lockheed Martin spokeswoman

Officially, additional lobbying by some defense sectors doubled from 2010 to 2011. Not all of the increased spending is counted officially, however:

"What these numbers show is that government records only capture a portion of the money spent to influence politicians. The definition of lobbying is quite precise, and therefore, things that might legitimately be regarded as influencing government policy sometimes do not fall under the category of lobbying for purposes of the law."

-- Loren Thompson, CEO of The Lexington Institute

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20120707/DEFREG02/307070001/U-S-Firms-Spending-More-Lobbying

A wealth of additional information can be found here:

http://www.pogo.org/pogo-files/resources/defense-contractors-driving-the-pentagon-budget-battle-2012-07-30.html

morecleanair wrote:

"John: would you please comment on how our stance toward Israel fits here? Some see this as a festering sore and a lack of realistic policy that would treat the Palestinians fairly. Kissing Bibi's nalgas does not seem to be answer."

Can someone please explain to me exactly how the current U.S. administration is kowtowing to Israel? Specifically?

The Israeli Prime Minister wanted to U.S. government to either physically attack Iran itself, or else explicitly sanction an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. The Obama administration refused to do either, instead counseling Israel to be patient and allow the tightening noose of financial and business sanctions to take effect.

Those sanctions are not a response to Israeli pressures or sensibilities: they are the result of America's longstanding hostile relationship with the fundamentalist government of Iran since the embassy takeover and the hostage crisis.

It's true that Israeli policy is not conducive to peace:

"Since 1967, the number of Israelis living in settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem has risen to half a million, compared with 2.7 million Palestinians in those areas, and continued construction makes partition of the land increasingly unlikely."

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2012/11/30/20121130israel-to-build-in-disputed-territory.html

At the same time, Israel cannot be expected to make peace with a "country" with two governments, one of whom (Hamas) has steadfastly refused to acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as a state, within pre-1967 boundaries or any other.

Until the governments of the occupied territories (including Hamas) are willing to trade land for peace (not just a cease-fire or temporary cessation of hostilities), to put this issue as a plebiscite to their people, and to sign a formal treaty incorporating this resolution, no peace will be possible.

The hawks in Israel don't want a consolidated, peaceful government in the occupied territories. They build settlements in the hope of making the post-1967 borders permanent (how can international bodies insist on the displacement of half a million resident settlers?). Hamas gives them the excuse they need to continue down the road of de facto annexation beyond the point of no return.

Hamas, meanwhile, is concerned only with its own political power. A peace treaty that resolved longstanding land issues would render them completely irrelevant, since their whole existence is predicated upon violent resistence to Israeli displacement of Palestinians, not since 1967 but from the time that the British mandate created the new state.

Yes, Israel conducted a policy that today would, in honest circles, be called ethnic cleansing, to drive Palestinians from the new state and in so doing obtain a majority. That is what Palestinians refer to as "Zionism" and it is an accurate criticism.

Hamas depends upon perpetuating the vain hope of impoverished and displaced refugees (and their offspring in subsequent generations) that they can regain their lost land and property by destroying the state of Israel as a political entity.

Of course, this can never be, any more than American Indians will destroy the United States as a political entity and retake the land stolen from them.

But whereas the displacement will never end, the impoverishment might conceivably be ended or at least ameliorated. Hamas has no interest in seeing the Palestinian population under its control become more comfortable. A comfortable population is far more likely to let go of lost dreams and to accept a pragmatic way forward. Such a way cannot include armed resistance, and therefore it cannot include Hamas as long as its political identity is built upon the principle of unwaivering armed resistance.

Jon, "America is not a country, its just a business"

Charles Kupchan of Oxford in his new book speculates on how the US will become not the dominate power on the planet but a power sharer with India, China and Brazil.

Will that reduce the US Waring around the globe?

http://www.theglobalist.com/storyid.aspx?StoryId=9594


Interesting article about Adelson, Cal.

Emil said, “Hamas, meanwhile, is concerned only with its own political power. A peace treaty that resolved longstanding land issues would render them completely irrelevant, since their whole existence is predicated upon violent resistence to Israeli displacement of Palestinians,. . . “
I think there may have been more truth to this statement when Yasser Arafat was around but today I am more suspicious that this assessment may be just what Israel wants us to believe, true or not.

And lastly, I have a link too. http://www.councilforthenationalinterest.org/component/k2/item/583-billions-in-aid

Off topic, but on topic with the overall theme of this blog.

I have to say I am astonished.

I had a very interesting lunch today with a group of thirty-somethings comprised of:

One from the Phillipines
Two from India
Two from China
One from Indonesia
Three Americans

As a group they have lived in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and of course their home countries.

Now they all live and reside in the valley.

I posed the question to them, "Considering the cities where you've lived, how important is living where there is good mass transit, central city living, etc. versus the car culture of living in phoenix."

I expected a slow, thoughtful response from the group.

I was wrong.

The response was instantaneous and quite emotional.

To paraphrase their responses.

*Phoenix's car culture is way better.
*Core city living is crowded, noisy, dirty, crime-ridden, rude.
*If they wanted that life they would have stayed in their own countries.

I was surprised by their responses and their emotion.

I'm not at all sure why Suzanne suggested that my evaluation of Hamas might have been more true when Yassir Arafat was around. Could she be confusing Hamas with the PLO?

At any rate, Hamas is manifestly concerned only with its political power, for the simple reason that their core policy of armed resistance (including attacks using unguided rockets directed toward Israeli civilian population areas) cannot achieve any of its stated goals -- and they know this -- but does (by provoking overreaching and disproportionate attacks by Israel on Palestinian civilian population areas as well as an economically stultifying blockade) both isolate and further radicalize Palestianians living within their governing zone (and beyond): a dynamic that increases and perpetuates their political influence.

I'm a little surprised that nobody challenged my characterization of early Israeli treatment of Palestinians as a form of "ethnic cleansing" -- surely a provocative term and one which Americans are not accustomed to seeing used in this context. I'll go ahead and cite my source anyway, and see if this incites further comment.

Benny Morris is an Israeli professor of history in the Middle Eastern Studies Department of Ben Gurion University.

In 1986 he had a paper published in the journal Middle Eastern Studies titled "The causes and character of the Arab exodus from Palestine: the Israel defence forces intelligence branch analysis of June 1948".

It's important to remember that the basis of this paper was a report by the IDF intelligence branch roughly contemporaneous with the Palestinian exodus.

An excerpt:

The report then outlines what IDF Intelligence Branch regards, in June 1948, as the factors which precipitated the exodus, citing them 'in order of importance':

1. Direct, hostile Jewish (Haganah/IDF) operations against Arab settlements.

2. The effect of our (Haganah/IDF) hostile operations on nearby (Arab) settlements . . . ( . . . especially - the fall of large neighbouring centres.)

3. Operations of the (Jewish) dissidents (the Irgun Z'va'i Leumi and Lohamei Herut Yisrael).

4. Orders and decrees by Arab institutions and gangs (irregulars).

5. Jewish whispering operations (psychological warfare), aimed at frightening away Arab inhabitants.

6. Ultimative expulsion orders (by Jewish forces).

7. Fear of Jewish (retaliatory) response (following) major Arab attack on Jews.

8. The appearance of gangs (irregular Arab forces) and non-local fighters in the vicinity of a village.

9. Fear of Arab invasion and its consequences (mainly near the borders).

10. Isolated Arab villages in purely (predominantly) Jewish areas.

11. Various local factors and general fear of the future.

The Intelligence Branch then gives a detailed breakdown and explanation of these factors, stressing that 'without doubt, hostile (Haganah/IDF) operations were the main cause of the movement of population'.

The wave of emigration in each district, explains the report, followed hard upon 'the increase and expansion of our (Haganah/IDF) operations in that district'. May brought a major increase in large-scale Jewish operations; so it
also witnessed the widespread mass emigration of Arabs. 'The departure of the British ... of course helped the (Arab) evacuation, but it appears that the British withdrawal freed our hands for action more than it influenced the (Arab) emigration directly.'

The Intelligence Branch notes that it was not always the dimensions of a Jewish attack which counted: it was 'mainly the psychological' factors which affected the rate of emigration. The report cites 'surprise', protracted artillery barrages and use of loudspeakers broadcasting threatening messages as factors which had a strong influence in precipitating flight.

An attack on one village or town often affected its neighbours. 'The evacuation of a certain village because of an attack by us prompted in its wake many neighbouring villages (to flee)', states the report. This was especially true of the fall of large villages or towns. 'The fall of Tiberias, Safad, Samakh, Jaffa, Haifa and Acre engendered in their wake many waves of emigrants.' The psychological motive force in operation here was 'im ba'arazim nafla shal-hevet' ('If the cedars caught fire ... ', a paraphrase of Kings I, 5/13).

The report concludes: 'It is possible to say that at least 55 per cent of the total of the exodus was caused by our (Haganah/IDF) operations and by their influence'. To this the Intelligence Branch adds the effects of the operations of the dissident Jewish organizations, 'who directly (caused) some 15 per cent ... of the emigration'. Intelligence Branch notes that the activities of the dissidents were of especial importance in the Jaffa-Tel Aviv area, in the coastal plain to the north and around Jerusalem. 'Elsewhere, they had no direct effect on the (Arab) evacuation.'

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00263208608700647

I am afraid that some Israeli policy can be characterized as ethnic cleansing. I call the illegal settlements "militarized sprawl."

Yes Emil, Suzanne could be confusing PLO with Hamas. Regardless, I think your comment was more true for Arafat and; I think both Israel and Hamas play a tit-for-tat destructive games that are ineffective for both.

What do you want us to say Emil?

The colonial powers created false states all over the world, where before there were none. Usually only tribes of varying races and religions.

Then the colonial powers looked around for a schmuck to police the new world boundries. Along came Joe Hayseed America and said, I'll give it a try.

Israel is a make believe state.
Palestine will be a make believe state.
Every country in Africa is a make believe state except Egypt.
Every country in the middle east except Iran is a make believe state.
Every country in South America is a make believe state.

So to address your charaterization, do we care what one of your make believe states does to another of your make believe states?

No, not really.

Endless war was the strategy that the state used in Orwell's book 1984 to keep the citizens in line.If you have not read or re-read this since 9-11,you should.And if it doesn't scare the bejesus out of you,please go back to watching "Dancing with the stars"

Thanks Suzanne, you are still invited to coffee.
Ethnic cleansing is part of the human evolution. Just because Jews have been thrown into the Nazi fires of hell does not mean they are not capable of the same feat. Hamas cannot win this war on the ground they have to win it at the UN. Don’t look for that to happen anytime soon. Regarding the survival of a Jewish place currently called Israel; Israel is going to do a number of things in addition to US sanctions that hopefully will collapse the religious nut jobs in Iran. And I would look for an effort by Israel’s political intelligence assassination folks to do something about the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The Syrian thing is about to put anti Muslim forces in Lebanon in a position to move against the Islamic militants. (My barber is a Catholic from Lebanon) Look for Israel assistance in making this happen. Israel is not going to need Obama in their wars and they are not counting on him, except to get out of the way. I met Moshe Dayan in 76 and in my opinion the boys and girls from Israel are some Terminator bad asses.

Orwell and Malthus were fairly visionary dudes. Watching Dancing with the Stars is prohibited by my religion.

This blog is not about college debate teams.

Now that I decided Israel can take care of its self.

Here is the force to watch. Take a look at how many temples they have erected around the world since 2001.
And then look at the comparable birth rates by religion.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wahhabi

Get ready to know what it is like to regularly bruise your forehead. Worse than being put to near death by a Baptist drowning ceremony.

Bingo! . . . AzReb.

cal: watching "Army Wives" is prohibited by MY religion . . or rather my belief that some of us still glorify war. Reviewing our failures in Korea, 'Nam and the Mid-East, it is hard to build a case for the US role as global cop. Or am I missing something significant?

Regarding the propagation of the Wahhabi and other califate fantasies:

If it is happening at all (and who knows how these things all turn out,) we, the human race, are apparently deciding to through up more of the Islamic faithful in our population (and let's not get started on the Wahhabi sect anyway - that's sweet blowback from our partnership with Saudi "royals" in the pacification of their population in our geopolitical petroleum ambitions, not to mention that we have a lot of fundamentalist Christians here at home who stray uncomfortably close to the values of Fred Ward's Westboro Baptist Church.)

I say "we" advisedly, because this is a global democracy, all attempts to establish identity-laced "republics" aside. If we don't shed ourselves of the loathsome habit of this "those people" thinking, if we don't reject this impulse to "otherness" that seems to float so easily to the surface of our critical thinking, then all is lost.

And so I am not threatened in the least by the appearance of so-called "other-wordly" cultures. We're loathsome, too. This stuff needs to work itself out, and it doesn't matter one whit if it happens to churn in my culture or yours, because it's being worked out in all of it.

I know this sounds like some Kumbaya crap to some people, but the fact is that it is the one single thing that, if dismissed, flat out guarantees that the violence of the world, so elegantly encapsulated in the diorama that is the Middle East, will continue in perpetuity right in front of our hapless faces.

/sermon

Nice sermon Petro, Elmer would be proud.

I included your Baptists in my comment. Religion I guess will be shepherded off planet to the next colony along with real estate developers. Would not bother me if they all got that Liftoff" while I am still alive.

I quit looking for the nickel under my pillow when I was 4.

I think your OK morecleanair

The most dangerous madmen are those created by religion, and ... people whose aim is to disrupt society always know how to make good use of them on occasion. Diderot

I'm not surprised by the ethnic cleansing statement. Anyone who reads and doesn't follow the official line, knows it to be true. For that, some think me an anti-semite and a communist! Kooks, there's no getting around their ossified brains.

Whatever Israel has begun, they shall reap the reward. I have come to think of them, not as the chosen people, but as an example of what not to do least you risk otherworldly rath. How many times do they have to get kicked out of the promised land?

Religion and the sword.


Famous Agnostic Robert Ingersoll said of Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin:

They knew that to put God in the Constitution was to put man out. They knew that the recognition of a Deity would be seized upon by fanatics and zealots as a pretext for destroying the liberty of thought. They knew the terrible history of the church too well to place in her keeping, or in the keeping of her God, the sacred rights of man. They intended that all should have the right to worship, or not to worship; that our laws should make no distinction on account of creed. They intended to found and frame a government for man, and for man alone. They wished to preserve the individuality and liberty of all; to prevent the few from governing the many, and the many from persecuting and destroying the few.

To the question that retains its politically divisive power to this day—whether the United States was founded as a Christian nation—Ingersoll answered an emphatic no. The marvel of the Framers, he argued in an oration delivered on July 4, 1876, in his hometown of Peoria, Illinois, was that they established “the first secular government that was ever founded in this world” at a time when every government in Europe was still based on union between church and state. “Recollect that,” Ingersoll admonished his audience. “The first secular government; the first government that said every church has exactly the same rights and no more; every religion has the same rights, and no more. In other words, our fathers were the first men who had the sense, had the genius, to know that no church should be allowed to have a sword.”

For more go to American Scholar at
http://theamericanscholar.org/a-new-birth-of-reason/

Suzanne wrote:

"Yes Emil, Suzanne could be confusing PLO with Hamas. Regardless, I think your comment was more true for Arafat..."

Clearly not. The PLO under Arafat signed a land-for-peace agreement in which the PLO explicitly recognized Israel's right to exist: that's how the PLO got control over an autonomous territory (not a country, however).

"On May 4, 1994, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat reached agreement in Cairo on the first stage of Palestinian self-rule.

"The agreement was made in accordance with the Oslo Accords, signed in Washington, D.C. on September 13, 1993. This was the first direct, face-to-face agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and it acknowledged Israel's right to exist. It was also designed as a framework for future relations between the two parties."

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/rabin-and-arafat-sign-accord-for-palestinian-self-rule

Hamas, by contrast, consistently refuses to acknowledge Israel's right to exist. It refuses to alter its charter, which explicitly calls for the political destruction of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian state. It refuses to honor the PLO agreement made by Arafat.

It has never offered, under any negotiating conditions, an explicit recognition of, and permanent peace with, Israel: only a ten-year cessation of hostilities in exchange for a Palestinian state with the pre-1967 borders, during which time they would blithely arm to the teeth while sitting on Israel's doorstep.

Here is what top Hamas officials said in an interview with Al-Ahram, a weekly Egyptian newspaper based in Cairo:

Yassin, who escaped an Israeli assassination attempt a few months ago, said "the historical rights of the Palestinians (an allusion to the expulsion by Israel of the bulk of Palestinians from their historical homeland in 1948) would be left for future generations."

Yassin's remarks were echoed by Abdul-Aziz Al- Rantisi, the second highest-ranking official in Hamas. He told reporters on 25 January that Hamas would consider a 10-year truce with Israel if it withdrew from all the territories occupied in 1967. Rantisi was quoted as saying that the movement had come to the conclusion that "it is difficult to liberate all our land at this stage".

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2004/675/re1.htm

That doesn't sound like a serious peace offer. It sounds like temporizing while power is consolidated. It most definitely is not a recognition of Israel as a political entity or of its right to exist as such.

Arafat "may" have been poisoned? Not to many suspects. He became a problem for Hamas with his Peace gestures to Israel. Most Muslims want Israel to cease to exist. Israel is the other suspect but why is a little more complicated. Maybe Israel thought his usefulness was gone or they got mad that he was double speaking.
Or maybe his wife killed him for his $$.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39446327/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/hamas-leader-arafat-urged-attacks-israel/#.UL_RaVvSTzM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yasser_Arafat

The religious wars will go on forever.
Until God decides whose side he is on?

My theory is that Arafat was assassinated to clear the ground for a takeover by Hamas. Whatever his failings, Arafat was a legend and far too popular, both among Palestinians and much of the Arab world, for Hamas to manage either a political or military takeover.

With him out of the way, however, that is exactly what happened, and in comparatively short order. The passage of a little time was necessary so that a less charismatic PLO leader and the subsequent disallusionment of Palestinians, might pave the way for the emergence of Hamas as a dominant force.

Whether this assassination was engineered by Israel, by Syria, or by Iran is an open question. Israel has an advanced nuclear program but Iran and Syria both had simple research reactors from which Polonium 210 could be produced from easily obtained Bismuth 209.

I personally lean more strongly toward Hamas' benefactors, Syria in particular, where (at the time, though there has been a parting of the ways since the Syrian civil war began) Hamas's leadership -- its 15 member Political Bureau -- was based.

Syria has long undertaken assassinations as a tool of political intrigue, to advance the careers of its proxy forces. Arafat could not be assassinated with violence for political reasons, but Polonium, properly employed, could easily produce cancer or other fatal maladies appearing to result from natural causes taking place over time. (This assumes the administration of the correct dose: overdosing, of course, would produce clear and immediate symptoms of radiation poisoning.)

P.S. The reason for the assassination would be exactly the same in all three cases: the replacement of the PLO with Hamas.

Unlike Iran or Syria, however, Israel would have to have made a very difficult calculation: would it be worth it to derail Palestinian statehood by substituting an entity that, while far more easily isolatable in the international community, was nevertheless far more virulent than the PLO?

Hamas derails the Palestinian question precisely by virtue of its intransigence and provocations. It could easily justify a full-scale military ground operation aimed at reoccupation and ending the question once and for all. In the meantime, constant (if ineffective) attacks by Hamas would give Israel all the excuse it needed to ignore peace overtures by third parties. I don't think that Israel banked on the Arab Spring and the replacement of the Egyptian government by the Muslim Brotherhood, which made a ground operation less practical.

That said, I still strongly lean toward Syria as a suspect.

"That said, I still strongly lean toward Syria as a suspect."

Personally, I lean towards Col. Mustard, with a rope, in the study.

Syria, assassins and assassin creed.

Origin of assassins:

http://assassinscreed.wikia.com/wiki/Syria

Creed:
http://assassinscreed.wikia.com/wiki/Syria


Had Israel had a board member on Google they might have seen the Egyptian uprising coming.

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