Which Syrian Narrative Is The Truth?

Posted on September 17, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

P1000889-1Australian priest Dave Smith is known as the “Boxing Priest” for his years of involvement in the sport of boxing. In this talk at an Islāmic Center in Australia from early August he describes the two narratives of the war and violence in Syria, which since 2011 – longer than three years – has claimed the lives of over 190,000 and displaced one-third of the Syrian population.

The situation in Syria is the largest humanitarian crisis on Earth.

After listening to U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and head of the U.S. military General Martin Dempsey speaking to the Senate, where a larger part of the questions and answers than one would expect was about Syria – then hearing Father Dave Smith describe the separate (Western and alternative) Syria narratives – one becomes forced to think long and hard on what exactly is the “mission” for the United States and its “coalition of the willing”.

Should Father Dave Smith be part of an alternative narrative/truth panel that is given the opportunity to speak to the U.S. Senate? Will the U.S. Congress listen to all perspectives before taking any actions of war and peace – from distinguished, intelligent men and women who are sincerely concerned about potential escalation of violence in the Middle East?

Mr. Dempsey told the Senate committee that there are an estimated 31,000 ISIL fighters. If these fighters average $500/month in salary, that’s $15,500,000/month. ISIL has been able to come up with the financial means to pay their soldiers, plus pay for food, guns, mortars, ammunition, vehicles, fuel, and other necessities of life for months, but only now are Senators considering ways to block their money supply.

The question all Americans need to deeply consider, before giving their government the approval for yet another potentially destructive, ill-considered, years-long, foreign policy catastrophe/war in the Middle East, is – which Syrian narrative is the truth? 

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(Thank you to (Father) Dave Smith at YouTube)

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Syrians, Ukrainians Search For Peace. Why They Won’t Find It On American Media.

Posted April 26, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

thCACHL51Q-1After coming up with this writing”s title, the thought/question came to mind: “has any American television corporation ever – repeat ever – devoted any weekly program, or significant amount of air-time, to peace?”  If there are any elders in the age range of their 60s, 70s, 80s, or 90s reading this, please enter your answer or thoughts regarding that question below.  Because peace on Earth is a really, really big deal for people all around the world, one would think that major media companies might consider – because peace is such a huge issue – the viewership they would garner from such a project.

Let’s just imagine if, say, CNN or ABC or CBS or NBC or FOX produced a two or three-hour Saturday or Sunday night prime-time program with the title “Search For Peace”, featuring guests from all nations and regions where war and violence were occurring. Now, these guests would consist of men and women who are actively involved in bringing about conditions to bring peace to their areas and, because the program is two or three hours, those men and women would represent the entire range of economic, political, and religious/spiritual viewpoints.

Now, let us think about what goes through the minds and hearts of those who have the literal power to make such a programming decision at these companies. We’re talking about John Smith or Susan Jones “Network Vice-President of Programming” or, even better, – Network Chief Executive Officer John Smith or CEO Susan Jones. Can we think about what has gone through all the minds of all the Vice Presidents of Programming and CEOs of every major television corporation since television first existed – regarding peace programming?

Can we imagine all of those separate corporate entities and their “deciders” of what shows to air and which become turned down – what went through their minds and hearts – when there were instances of men and women lower on the corporate hierarchy walking into their offices and proposing various formats for programs focusing on world peace? Evidently, because no such program has ever made the airwaves, those creative and idealistic underlings had their proposals kind of blown out of the water. Why?

Maybe the “deciders” came to conclude innocently enough that such a program “wouldn’t get any viewers”, and so the company’s profits would surely suffer, and then went back to the tried-and-true template many have called “if it bleeds, it leads”. But you’d think that, since television first became invented and came to the living rooms of more and more American homes since the 1950’s, at least one, just one, of those “deciders” would have gambled on such a TV program new genre. But, it’s never happened, with all those CEOs and VP’s of Programming over the decades even once. Again, why not?

It is very and extremely interesting that these mass media corporations have through the decades and all the wars devoted millions of hours to reporting on killing and violence occurring in nations and regions around the world, but have never devoted anything more than a miniscule – microscopic – fraction of that same air-time to ending or preventing war. No man or woman can deny that there have been an overwhelmingly large number of people on Earth all during the decades after television was born who’ve had legitimate ideas for making the world a more peaceful place. So, it’s not as if the “deciders” didn’t have any persons available to fill up the peace program(s) with talk and creative ideas.

For some very odd reason the men and women who had ideas to present on-air about war have through those decades been omnipresent on programming dealing with history’s wars, but those with ideas on peace have been virtually, and literally, absent. So in the history of television, on issues of war and peace, the voices of war have received air-time in a very unbalanced ratio – perhaps 1,000,000 to 1? No empirical studies/work has been done on this issue of war-speak and peace-speak TV time comparison, yet even without any scientific, mathematical analysis it could be said that there is essentially no – zero, nada, zilch – peace programming in the history of American television.

When one really thinks about this, it’s truly, truly amazing – no?

Peace programs are bad for television corporations’ business. Because the owners of those corporations profit from war.

From Ben H. Bagdikian’s book “The Media Monopoly” pages 22-28:

Louis Brandeis, before joining the Supreme Court wrote: “The practice of interlocking directorates is the root of many evils. It offends law human and divine… It tends to disloyalty and violation of the fundamental law that no man can serve two masters… It is undemocratic, for it rejects the platform: ‘A fair field and no favors’.

Members of corporate boards have impressive power over their corporations. They hire – and fire – the corporate leaders. They set corporate policy. They decide if the corporation will borrow money (or lend it) and for what purpose. They decide how the corporation will deal with the public and with the government.

In 1978 when the Department of Justice wanted to use its computer to show the number of interlocks among major American corporations, business leaders were powerful enough to prevent it. Through more tedious methods the department found that in 1976, of 130 major corporations, the largest interlocked through their directors with 70 percent of the others. Exxon, for example, interlocked with its leading competitors, Atlantic Richfield, Mobil, Standard Oil of California, Standard Oil of Indiana, and Texaco.

Brandeis called this the “endless chain”. The corporations from which Americans get most of their news and ideas have now entered the “endless chain”.

For example, Exxon, the world’s largest corporation, has two directors on the board of Citibank, alongside directors of Mobil and Standard Oil of California, General Electric, Westinghouse, General Motors, Ford Motor Company, DuPont, AT&T, IBM, and RCA. RCA and Westinghouse, two major media companies, are interlocked competitors and both are interlocked with Exxon, whose news they report.

Today the country’s major organs of public information are no longer local. Consequently, any conflict of interest is on a national or global scale, as are the consequences.

A 1979 study found Gannett, the largest seller of newspapers in the country, shared directors with Merrill Lynch (stockbrokers), Standard Oil of Ohio, 20th Century-Fox, Kerr-McGee (oil, gas, nuclear power, aerospace), McDonnell Douglas Aircraft, McGraw-Hill, Eastern Airlines, Phillips Petroleum, Kellogg Company, and New York Telephone Company.

Times Mirror of Los Angeles has on its board directors from Bank of America, Norton Simon, TRW, Rohr Corporation, Kaiser Steel, Ford Motor, American Airlines, Colgate-Palmolive, and Carter Hawley Hale Stores.

The New York Times interlocks with Merck, Morgan Guaranty Trust, Bristol Myers, Charter Oil, Johns Manville, American Express, Bethlehem Steel, IBM, Scott Paper, Sun Oil, Ford Motor, and First Boston Corporation.

The Washington Post interlocks with CBS, Allied Chemical, Blu Chip Stamps (which controls Berkshire Hathaway textiles, Buffalo Evening news, Pinkerton’s, and Munsingwear), IBM, Ford Motor, Levi-Strauss, TWA, Utah International, and Wells Fargo Bank.

Another study of interlocking directorates found that an even greater concentration of international industrial and financial figures dominates other media. American Broadcasting Co., for example, has on its board executives from the oil and gas industries, major banks, insurance companies, IBM, General Motors, and General Dynamics. CBS share directors with major international banks, Aerospace Corporation, Institute of Defense Analysis, Eastern Airlines, Gannett Co., Trilateral Commission, Memorex, Aluminum Company of America, Pan American Airways, and the Asia Society.

Almost every major industry whose activities dominate the news of the 1980s – the leading defense contractors and oil companies – sit on controlling boards of the leading media of the country.

There is hardly a major international bank or insurance company, or investment company, that is not represented on boards of directors of the major media that control most of what Americans learn about the economy.

It is not always easy to discover who, in reality, holds and votes on stock in media corporations. The law permits some shares to be held by “street name” firms whose real beneficiaries remain secret, an invisible hand with special significance when it has influence over the mass media.

The concentration of giant media firms that control American public information is troublesome by itself. The interlocking directorates with each other and with major industries and banks, insurance companies, and investment firms make it more troublesome still. The relationship of the news media and leading world bankers is corporate incest within corporate incest: The controllers control each other. A cluster of New York banks and life insurance companies held controlling shares in the New York Times; Newsday; McGraw-Hill; Dow Jones; Time, Inc.; ITT; CBS; ABC; Prentice-Hall; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; ABC; Doubleday; Knight-Ridder Publications; RCA; Thomson Newspapers; Westinghouse; Cox; Reader’s Digest; Harper&Row; the Washington Post; Xerox; and the Tribune Company.

The “summits of American business” now control or powerfully influence the major media that create American public opinion.

Since Ben Bagdikian wrote “The Media Monopoly” in 1983, media ownership has only concentrated, till in 2014 only a handful of media ultra-mega-conglomerates dominate the communications industry landscape around the Earth.

Interlocking directorates have only become more systemic and problematic an issue since 1983 as well, evidenced by the world’s extreme wealth inequality – the greatest inequality in history.

We can connect the dots now and fully understand why major media corporations, with their “summit of American business” controllers – and international markets to capture before they sleep – have “deciders” who feel peace-oriented programming may not make the men and women on the “board” too satisfied.

Connecting the dots helps men and women understand why people such as those talking here to George Galloway – Julian Assange’s father, Syrian peace activist Father Dave Smith, and a journalist critical of America and western nations’ actions in Ukraine – will not be seen any time soon – talking about peace on major media in America.

Marine Major General Smedley Butler (1881-1940) wrote a book titled “War Is A Racket”:

“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscleman for big business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short I was a racketeer – a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking-house of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American Fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated in three continents.” 

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(Thank you to Gallowayist at YouTube)

Syria October Update: Father Dave Smith.

Vietnam war memorial
Vietnam war memorial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Posted October 3, 2013

by Jerry Alatalo

The following is Father Dave Smith’s latest post on the situation in Syria, from his website fatherdave.org.

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I’m writing to you from the lovely town of Narooma on our state’s south coast. Our family is taking a few days off at Ange’s parents’ house and, as you can see from the pic below, the children are frolicking in the sunshine and enjoying the great outdoors!

Enjoying the great outdoors!

Enjoying the great outdoors!

I’m afraid that since we last spoke I seem to have been bogged down in desk work and other clerical duties, though I have been keeping myself up-to-date with Syria. Indeed, I’ve been finding myself increasingly mired in the ongoing information war.

I hope that you saw my article on “How Obama lost the first battle for Damascus”.  It got quite a wide circulation and can now be found on onlineopinion.com.au, orientalreview.org, and counterpunch.org, as well as on my own Syria blog – prayersforsyria.com.

My aim in the article was to try to unravel some of the rhetoric that was being used to prepare the ground for open war. Since writing, I’ve been made even more aware of just how deep and dirty this war of words really is!

The Battle for Hearts and Minds

Some of us are old enough to remember the only war in human history that was ever brought to a close due to popular demand – the war in Vietnam (1955-75). The reason the Vietnam War was so unique and was concluded in such a unique fashion was that it was the only war to have ever been televised by an independent media!

The power-brokers learnt their lessons from Vietnam. Mainline media is no longer so independent, and reporters are no longer allowed to move freely around the front lines. They are now safely ‘embedded’ at well-determined vantage-points.  The makers-of-war lost control of the narrative in Vietnam and determined not to lose their grip again. Then along came the Internet, and with it, the threat of the true democratization of information!

This where Obama came unstuck, I suspect. He announced that Assad had committed a crime that warranted his country being invaded and a million bloggers cried foul!

From what I could see, the mainline media did very little to question the official government narrative, just as they completely failed to notice that every sector of the church across the globe had united in opposition to US intervention. Even so, the multiple voices of dissent could not be kept below the surface. There were too many of them, and too many people had the capacity to hear them!

It would be interesting to do a detailed comparison of the various lies that have been used to justify wars and see how this latest set compares. Even putting to one side the obvious lies concerning Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction and his supposed links to Al Qaeda, we could push back a little further and compare:

  • The stories told by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, in April 2011, about how Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was issuing Viagra to his troops to encourage the systematic rape of civilians – a charge that was later investigated by both ‘Doctors Without Borders’ and ‘Amnesty International’, and shown to be without foundation (see here).
  • The eerily similar 1993 story of an unnamed Serbian General who commanded his troops to “Go forth and rape”. It made the front page of the New York Times and helped grease the wheels for NATO’s intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The paper later published a small correction saying that “the existence of “a systematic rape policy” by the Serbs “remains to be proved.”” but this received little attention.
  • The Kuwaiti girl who testified before Congress in 1990 that she had seen Iraqi soldiers storm the hospital where she worked and dump newborn babies out of their incubators. She turned out to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US, if you remember, and the whole ‘baby-killer’ story turned out to be the brain child of an American marketing firm, but nobody questioned the story until well after it had played its role in justifying the first invasion of Iraq.
  • George Bush I’s outlandish depiction of Manuel Noriega, accompanied by the transparently false claim that American lives were at risk in Panama, used to justify the invasion of 1989, cynically named “Operation Just Cause”!
  • The outrageous lies told by Ronald Reagan back in 1983 to justify the invasion of the tiny Caribbean nation of Grenada – claiming that the tiny country was being developed into a Cuban-Soviet military base that would be used to launch communist attacks against the US!
  • The staged “The Gulf of Tonkin” incident that launched America into a full-scale war in Indochina in 1964!

Most of us are too young to remember this last incident, but recently declassified documents reveal quite unambiguously that the “unprovoked attack” by North Vietnamese vessels on the USS Maddox on the night of August 4, 1964, never actually took place!

In short, government lies are nothing new and they are rarely particularly sophisticated. You get the impression that the great powers assume that their voting public will believe anything that comes from the top, and history shows that generally we do!

I think the reason for this is simple. The papers inevitably report what our leaders say. If there is a denial of the leader’s statement, it’s nestled somewhere deeper in the paper, on the pages that most people never reach.

But nowadays the counter-narrative is in your face! It’s coming at you through your smart-phone, and it’s all over Facebook and Twitter before the papers carrying the official narrative are even printed! This must be causing those who reap the big profits from war and human misery to panic!

The Machinations of Propaganda

It’s macabrely fascinating to watch the way the power-players are handling these latest developments.

On the one hand we see the relatively sophisticated US propaganda machine try to reframe the argument for war and refocus us on other issues (using their full arsenal of ‘weapons of mass distraction’ as Chomsky calls them). On the other hand we see basic thuggery and intimidation being used in the Arabic press!

One saga that has gripped me has been the unraveling of an article published in Mintpress News on August 29 that was the first to claim eye-witness accounts of the gas attacks in Ghouta! According to the two Jordanian journalists to whom the article was attributed, it was actually the Saudis who were behind the attack!

Since the publication of that article, one of the journalists seems to have disappeared and the other is trying to distance herself from the work completely. Apparently she’s under pressure from … (you guessed it) … the Saudi’s! (see the full story here).

In the middle of all these machinations is our own dear Mother Agnes, who published a lengthy study of her own that disputes the official US version of the gas attacks. This has earned her praise from some quarters and ridicule from others. Mother Agnes’ study can be downloaded here.

Mother with Mairead and myself in Beirut

Mother Agnes with Mairead and myself in Beirut

I found it difficult to study Mother Agnes’ report in detail as it contains multiple images of apparently dead and suffering children, and it is hard to look at such images analytically. Even so, I appreciate that if we are to take these children’s suffering seriously we must investigate these crimes scrupulously, and this is what Mother Agnes has done. If you’d prefer an abbreviated version, this RT News article draws directly on Mother Agnes’ work and makes it clear that at least some of the videos used by the US to justify the proposed attack on Syria cannot be trusted!

And so, as Mother Agnes tries to unravel the propaganda, she becomes a target of propaganda herself! Media sources from Russia and other countries that oppose foreign intervention in Syria have been praising her while those in favour of intervention pillory her.

The effort from Australian mainline media seem particularly pitiful. One recent article published in the Melbourne Age that was straightforwardly critical of Mother Agnes turned out to be a simple cut and paste job done on an article that appeared in the New York Times. The interesting thing is that the New York Times article is actually far more balanced. The Australian version has all the balanced bits cut out!

And now ‘Human Rights Watch’ have come out in opposition to Mother Agnes! This might sound like a damning indictment, but it probably says more about ‘Human Rights Watch’ – an organisation whose objectivity has been under suspicion for some years – than it does about Mother Agnes. Read this article published on the ‘Ron Paul Institute’ site if you’d like to know more about this

A Solution for Syria?

And while the propaganda war rages, a solution to the actual war on the ground may be nearer than we had thought!

One consequence of the proposed intervention that the Americans may not have anticipated was that it has further fragmented the Syrian opposition, many of whom hate the Americans even more than they do Bashar Al-Assad!

One the one hand this has led entire units of the ‘Free Syrian Army’ to defect to Jabhat Al Nusra – the largest of the Islamist groups – who are by no stretch of the imagination fighting for a free and democratic Syria! Conversely, those Syrians who are still fighting for reforms to their homeland are now considering teaming up with government forces to help throw out the foreigners!

Robert Fisk reports that secret meetings between FSA and government officials have already taken place and that we may well soon see a complete reshaping of the conflict! If this happens I expect that the war in Syria will end pretty quickly. There will be no way that the US will be able to justify arming Al Qaeda against an all-Syrian coalition who are defending their country from foreigners. And once support for the opposition dries up from the US and its allies (the Saudis, Qatar, Israel and Turkey) it will not take long before the insurgents will be in full retreat!

I pray that this will happen quickly, as I would much rather return to Damascus when this is all over there than go there as a human shield. Even so, things are by no means resolved as yet, and the propaganda machine still has plenty of fuel left in the tank.

Father Dave Smith On Syria.

Posted September 21, 2013

by Jerry Alatalo

I first became aware of Father Dave Smith while reading Syria articles from various websites today. His article “How Obama Lost The First Round On Damascus” was posted at counterpunch.org, I thought it was an important message, so it appeared previously here as “Hold Your Ground In Second Battle For Damascus”.

After visiting his website fatherdave.org I found some of his recent writings on his blog, and feel that what he has to say is important for people to know. I was somewhat surprised to learn that he knows, and has worked with, Mother Agnes Mariam and other Syrian peace activists. So, he is a powerful voice and source of truth about the situation in Syria.

The rest of this post consists of words written by Father Dave Smith on his blog at fatherdave.org.

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Weekly Missive – August 28th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

Are we on the eve of Armageddon?

Love Syria

It’s Father Dave, and I confess that as I write to you today I’m feeling sick in my stomach.

It’s not something that I ate or drank (though I have had a second glass of red tonight to steel my nerves). It’s Syria, and it’s what I’m seeing on the news!

I’ve been watching and listening to European leaders and US and Israeli officials all talking about how urgent it is that we start bombing Bashar Al-Assad into submission, and all this before the UN inspectors have produced a single finding!

I remember having the same sick and sinking feeling on the eve of the Iraq invasion. I remember thinking then, “No. Surely they won’t do it. They’re not that stupid. They know there are no ‘weapons of mass destruction’. It’s all just saber rattling!” And now … 1,000,000 dead Iraqi’s later … history seems to be repeating itself!

Here’s how the scenario plays out in my mind:

  1. The US and NATO attack Syrian government forces on the pretext of the chemical weapon attacks.
  2. The government falls and the country crumbles into uncontrollable sectarian violence with jihadists gaining control of major areas (as in Iraq)
  3. Lebanon’s infrastructure cannot withstand the further influx of refugees (already almost 50% of the size of its citizenry) and so it falls into anarchy as well
  4. Iran is now left without allies (which I believe is one of the main aims of the game) and so Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities, confident that Iran will not retaliate.
  5. Iran declares war on Israel and the regional war against the Shi’a goes into overdrive.
  6. Shi’a majorities in Bahrain and Iraq and elsewhere rise up and turn the entire Middle East into a cauldron of bloody violence.
  7. Israel eventually becomes the focus of the wrath of all its neighbours.
  8. The reverberations are felt throughout the world. Terrorist acts take place in every major city. There is widespread religious and ethnic violence, reprisals, etc.
  9. It all climaxes with some massive nuclear detonations.
  10. Everyone looks back and realises that there never were any chemical weapons attacks carried out by the Syrian government.

You might think this is all very fanciful, but I have military friends in the US that were put on ‘Class 1 Alert’ on the weekend, indicating possible immediate deployment to Syria! Meanwhile, my sources in Damascus are expecting the bombing to start on Tuesday!

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness

with Mairead Maguire - my hero!

with Mairead Maguire – my hero!

Amidst all the beating of war-drums, I was greatly encouraged to hear the lone voice of my friend (and Nobel Peace Prize winner) Mairead Maguire, calling upon her Foreign Minister to stop agitating for war! Says Mairead:

“Arming rebels and authorizing military action by USA/NATO forces will not solve the problem facing Syria, but indeed could lead to the death of thousands of Syrians, the breaking-up of Syria, and it falling under the control of violent fundamentalist jihadist forces. It will mean the further fleeing of Syrians into surrounding countries which will themselves  become destabilised. The entire Middle East will become unstable and violence will spiral out of control.”

You can read Mairead’s complete press release here.

And while Mairead Fights the Good Fight in Britain, my dear friend Ghinwa (who you met last week) is just fighting to stay alive in Damascus!

Ghinwa visting the Ummayyad Mosque in Damascus

Ghinwa visiting the Ummayyad Mosque (Damascus)

Ghinwa and her family are on the move, looking for somewhere safe to shelter. They have lost many friends and family members. As an Alawite, Ghinwa knows she is a target to Jabhat Al-Nusra and the armies of foreign mercenaries that besiege her city.

We haven’t been able to secure a time yet when Ghinwa can join us for a conference call and it will have to wait until she finds somewhere safe to stay. In the meantime, let me share with you our latest text exchanges:

 Ghinwa: I was supposed to contact with you on Sunday but I was caught in Damascus because of clashes on the way back home. I was lucky on Monday to avoid mortar shells. Anyhow, we are all OK. Trying to find a safe place to move on to in Damascus …

Dave: You are in my constant prayers, my friend – you and your dear sister. I hope we can speak again soon. … Just let me know if you want to do that phone conference.

Ghinwa: I wanted to do that but every day something new happens. I was unable to leave home in the past two days, and until now … there are clashes in the area around the place I live in. There are military operations now around Damascus, heavy clashes around us, I have information that there are around 4,000 Al-Nusra fighters in Muadamia. This morning those fighters used chemical weapons against the Syrian Army…

After the massacres against Alawites that killed some 350-400 people (we have the names of 256 persons of them) two massacres took place – one against Christians in Wadi-Alnasara area. 20 Christian people were killed there in what Islamist fighters called the Islamist battle to control Wadi Al-Nasara, meaning “Christans’ Vallley”, and a massacre against Kurds that killed more than 200 Kurds.

… I don’t know what to say!

Dave: God bless you, my sister. It tears at my heart to hear these things. Out here we are being told of various accusations against the government for the use of chemical weapons. I have no idea whether there is any truth to these but certainly things are terrible.

Ghinwa: Yes, I know these stories, but I know the accusations to the government are not true. When I checked videos on the Internet, telling the story that the government used chemicals against people in Ghota, I noticed those videos were uploaded to YouTube before the time the alleged massacre took place…

We see the same people in three different videos. Each video claims that those were killed in a different place. The only difference is that they changed the places of the bodies and arranged the scene in a different way. They put once that those people were killed in Kafr – batna, and the other video tells those where killed in Irbeen area.

I’ll check the videos and send them by email if you wish, Father.

Dave: I will publish what you send me, sister, and try to get the word out. My only concern is whether it’s putting you at any greater risk by having your name and face associated with this information.

Ghinwa: I am already on their death lists. Belonging to Alawites is a justification to kill me. It is something I was born with, not something I chose. So no problems of putting my name and pictures there.

Ghinwa with our delegation in Damascus

Ghinwa with our delegation in Damascus

In case you think Ghinwa’s claims about the videos are outrageous, I note that Veterans News Now are reporting that Al Jazeera and Reuters published news of the latest Syrian massacre one day before it happened (see here)!

Faith without Love = Fundamentalism

As we all know, the looming war on Syria is not just a political issue. It’s also a faith issue.

In the New Testament “Letter to the Hebrews” (chapter 11) the author eulogises over all the wonderful things that people have accomplished throughout history through their faith. When I read this though the first thing that occurred to me was that Al Qaeda and Jabhat Al-Nusra also claim to be ’faith organisations’ , though it seems to be a very different sort of faith to anything I’m familiar with.

How do we distinguish between good faith and bad faith? As a child I once believed that anybody who espoused the Christian faith must be a person of good faith whereas all members of other faiths are the bad guys. Then I studied the history of the church and realised (to use Desmond Tutu’s phrase) that “God is not a Christian”.

I believe the New Testament itself gives us a straightforward way of distinguishing between the faith that kills and the faith that gives life, and I it’s something that I think all Christian people need to take to heart.