Plagues of Israel

Let my people go,” the man repeated before…

A man went unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, “Thus saith the Lord, Let my people go, that they may serve me.” He was rep


eating the words Moses had said do many years before while warning Pharaoh of the plagues. Yet, the situation was the inverse. Not for the people; they suffered now as harsh restrictions on their freedom as in Ancient Egypt. The different was in the source of the plagues. In Biblical times, they had been sent by God; nowadays, the uncrowned pharaoh was their source. Most of his ingenious plagues would have been unthinkable in ancient times. In its obsession to control, evil knew no boundaries.

Methodically, the man presented the plagues’ shortlist.

“Let my people go,” the man repeated and added “because people have the right to eat cottage cheese without going broke.” This was an unconvincing beginning. Cottage was a staple food there; thus, he got pharaoh’s attention immediately. Encouraged, the man continued.


“Let my people go,” the man repeated and added “because people have the right to be governed by a fair, clear, and properly disclosed law system.” The Speaker of the Knesset had confirmed that the Israeli government acted according to secret protocols, never allowed by law. Years before, it had been made public that Israel routinely performed illegal medical experiments on its population without the latter being warned. Moreover, the Israeli government routinely violated the rule of law, by recognizing its official precognition capabilities. In contradiction to the Criminal Law, which formally defined the country’s legal system, these officials could act on their feeling that an individual was to commit a crime.

Plagues of Israel Plagues of Israel

“Let my people go,” the man repeated and added “because people have the right to purchase a house without paying an enslaving mortgage for the rest of their lives.

“Let my people go,” the man repeated and added “because people deserve to live without being threatened with imminent wars. Governments ruling by fear, are unrighteous.”

“Let my people go,” the man repeated and added “because people have the right to choose their religion and spouses in complete freedom.”

“Let my people go,” the man repeated and added “because people deserve a system of justice which does not favor the rich.” Shortly before, Israel had deleted $360 million debt from one of its richest citizens, on the grounds of his control of the local energy market.

“Let my people go,” the man repeated and added “because people deserve the security of knowing that they are not surrounded by provocateurs of the secret police.” Years before, it had been proven in the Israeli court that the assassin of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had been provoked by a secret police agent. Inexplicably, the latter was sent free by the court. Without stopping to breathe, the man continued:

“Let my people go,” the man repeated and added “because people deserve an honest leadership, one which is not busy accusing others of crimes it also commits. You accuse Nazi Germany of atrocities; yet, you defended Jewish Mr. Morel until his death in 2007. He had left Poland in 1994, when he became an Israeli citizen. That was the result of inquiries that began for was his war crimes during WWII and right after it. His crimes were backed by over a hundred witnesses, including 58 former inmates; compare that with the very questionable evidences–possibly forgeries–and no witnesses in the case of John Demjanjuk. The main event refers to the period in which he was commander of the Zgoda camp in Poland, between March and November 1945. Between 1500 and 2000 inmates were tortured to death. It seems Morel took special joy in the perpetration of these murders. Justice cannot be relative.”

“Hey! These are not ten plagues. I declare your argument invalid for failing to meet Biblical standards,” Pharaoh summarized smugly. Rising his impressive voice, he called his Minister of Defense. He urgently needed a war to silence this fool.

Fifth Plague of Egypt by J. M. W. Turner

Fifth Plague of Egypt by J. M. W. Turner, 1800 | it depicts the Seventh Plague – Hail and Fire | at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

Standing up to evil, the man continued. “All these are bad and terrible. Yet, pharaoh could repent, correct the situation and be forgiven. Yet, in your ungodly kingdom, one disturbing topic can’t be forgiven. Instead of sacrificing yourselves for the sake of your sons, you sacrifice your sons for the sake of your profits.” Pharaoh Netanyahu jumped to attention.

“I will mention only two examples, but innumerable cases exist,” the man said and continued “In 2006, Israel was defeated in Lebanon. The army commander back then was Dan Halutz. In the morning of the Israeli attack, he gave the order and then he found time to contact his broker and sell his stocks in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Then, you, Pharaoh Netanyahu, transformed the affair of bringing your captive son—Gilad Shalit—into a business. You let him suffer for years after the negotiations had ended for political profit considerations. You are not better than General Halutz. A key event in your history is the Binding of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-24) in which Abraham is requested by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. After Abraham’s Faith is successfully tested, an angel of God stops the event before Isaac is sacrificed. Somehow, even this simple event is twisted by the Jews. Based on this, the sacrificing of the young is defined by you as a righteous event. It has become a role-model for Jews along history. Is this a true teaching? Even if you don’t know what’s going on in the Middle East, you can correctly judge a violent event there. Who is right: a nicely dressed general explaining his crimes on television or his victims? Jesus said: (John 10:11) I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. The general didn’t die for his sheep: he sent others to die in order for him to survive. You are a bad shepherd, misinterpreting the Bible and abusing innocents for your own convenience and profit.” The man ended his speech when Netanyahu raised in his seat in clear protest.

Pharaoh was smiling; his smile deformed that old scar on his fat lip, creating a grotesque image. “Bring here the torturer,” he commanded. Appearing out of nowhere, guards seized the man. “Let my people go,” the man repeated before being strangled.

The Arrivals pt.50…At The Cross Roads….What Do You Believe In, And Why ?

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Inside Iran: A view from the booming, modern streets of Tehran

Paul Koring – Globe and Mail May 25, 2012

Big, boisterous and booming, Tehran defies the caricature so often painted in the West portraying Iran as a repressed, bitter, colourless society, throttled by sanctions and in the relentless grip of dour-faced mullahs.

Tehran seems utterly transformed since my first grim wartime visit to Iran in 1988, near the end of a bloody eight-year conflict that left a million people dead.

Even before landing, and even at 3 a.m., Tehran is vast and sprawling, a carpet of lights sweeping down from the cool heights of the wealthy northern neighbourhoods to the overcrowded poor slums in the south.

A mother and her two daughters stand on a corner in Jolfa, where young people socialise. Click to enlarge

By day, it’s a chaotic, traffic-choked modern city of more than 10 million (perhaps 15 million, if weekday commuters are included), capital of a nation defiantly proud of its history, culture and heritage and intent on reasserting itself as the region’s most powerful player.

For much of the Arab world, Iran remains the historic Persian rival and enemy. Israel sees the Islamic Republic as an existential threat, one that has called for the destruction of the Jewish state. Successive U.S. administrations see it as a rogue, terrorism-sponsoring state. According to Human Rights Watch, Iran’s theocracy is engaged in a “broad-based campaign … to severely weaken civil society by targeting journalists, lawyers, rights activists, and students” after the 2009 post-election demonstrations.

As the propaganda war rages and a confrontation looms over its controversial nuclear program, Iran forges ahead.

Its capital doesn’t look beleaguered. Cranes festoon the skyline. Modern blocks of multimillion-dollar apartments march up the Alborz mountain foothills in prime locations north of the city. Hundreds of thousands are betting on a housing boom. Fuelled by vast reserves of oil and gas, Iran’s economy has boomed even as successive U.S. administrations have attempted to isolate it.

As far away as Karaj, 30 kilometres to the west, modern new housing complexes, mostly high-rises but also planned communities of single-family dwellings, are sprouting in a fast-growing corridor that resembles the edge cities in the United States. A four-lane highway and high-speed commuter trains bring tens of thousands into Tehran daily.

As in most of the world’s great cities, talking house prices is standard fare at north Tehran dinner parties full of the upwardly striving middle class.

“We borrowed from my family, my wife’s family and the bank when we bought five years ago,” says a middle-class, 30-something engineer, with the near-certain confidence that he got into the market at the right time. “And our house has more than doubled,” he says, before adding with a tinge of worry, “so it was worth it – as long as we don’t get a bubble burst like in America.”

It’s far different from the dark, fearful and partially deserted capital that I remember from 1988 during the so-called “war of the cities” when Iran and Iraq traded salvos of Scud-B missiles. Then the sickly smell of death wafted from buildings destroyed by the incoming missiles and everyone lived in fear of the next random blast.

Nearly two-thirds of Iran’s 80 million people are too young to remember either the Islamic Revolution of 1979 or the devastating war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq that followed. Yet both continue to shape Iran’s world view, even as it attempts to transform its economy from a massive oil-and-gas exporter into a diversified, 21st-century country.

In less than a decade, Tehran has opened four Metro lines that now whisk more than two million passengers daily on four lines. Two more are under construction. Fares are about 20 cents, less for monthly passes. But, like straphangers everywhere, there are complaints, mostly about crowding, less so about the cars at the front and back of each train reserved for women, although women can also choose to ride elsewhere. And cellphones work even in the tunnels. So, to the irritation of many, near-constant conversations fill the trains.

Clean, fast and frequent, the Metro would be the envy of many mega-cities. But there’s a tussle with the central government over funding, flooding remains a problem in some stations and some want nicer cars. “Last year I was in China, they have French trains so I wonder why we are stuck with Chinese trains,” one well-travelled commuter said.

Even “modesty” has been transformed. Tehran’s streets are a blaze of colour. Many, especially older women, still wear the traditional black hijab. But Tehran’s urban fashionistas wear clingy jackets, lots of make-up and flashy head scarves, pushing the limits with bright prints, gauzy whites and flimsy silks.

Long, elegant and tree-lined Vali-asr is called Tehran’s Yonge Street by those familiar with both cities. Window-shoppers peer at luxury-car showrooms and fancy shops full of imported designer goods. Businessmen moan about the new express bus lanes on the west side, complaining that their well-heeled customers can’t leave their cars (and drivers) idling at the curb any longer while they drop in to look at the latest offering in a fancy lingerie store.

Old Tehran still exists. South of the city’s centre, in the cool shadows of Tehran’s huge bazaar, beneath centuries-old arches, crowds jam the alleys. But there’s also wrenching dislocation. Chinese and Indian imports are bankrupting tiny manufacturing shops and small clothing makers in what is now the world’s 18th-largest economy.

At street-side coffee stands or high-priced restaurants, Iranians gossip about politics and hope, with apparent unanimity, that the looming confrontation with the United States will be defused.

When the talk shifts to domestic politics, the hot topic is whether Mohammed-Baqer Qalibaf, the hard-driving, pragmatic and wily mayor of Tehran, who has built a reputation for getting things done, will take a run at the presidency next year.

He has already clashed with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the hard-liner who is on the outs with the top religious leadership and also was once mayor of Tehran.

So closely do Tehranis dissect the tea leaves of their murky politics that there’s complex debate over whether Mr. Qalibaf is deliberately allowing huge revolutionary murals that covered some buildings to fade in parts of Tehran where they are unpopular, while repainting them in even more vivid colours in neighbourhoods where revolutionary fervour remains strong.

Mr. Qalibaf, a former Revolutionary Guard commander with a proven combat record and a growing power base in the capital, has been trying to build political bridges abroad – for instance, rubbing shoulders with world leaders at Davos. However, plans to visit the United States for a transit conference were blocked – apparently by Mr. Ahmadinejad.

There’s much grumbling, mainly about prices. International sanctions aren’t blamed, but rather the government’s reduction of subsidies on everything from gasoline (still only 50 cents a litre) to foodstuffs.

In place of across-the-board subsidies, the government created a set of direct payments to the poorest to cushion the impact of price hikes, a scheme that seems to have worked. Even the International Monetary Fund gave it high marks. “My monthly expenses have more than tripled but somehow I can still manage. Everyone manages, it’s the way we are,” a teacher says.

More quietly, many are furious about endemic corruption and – unlike most subjects – are afraid to talk too much about it.

Some things haven’t changed. The huge, walled complex that was once the U.S. embassy in the heart of Tehran remains a ghostly reminder of the takeover in 1979. Once a museum, then an “education centre,” the buildings seem frozen in time, now mostly deserted and guarded by only a few bored basiji, the paramilitary “civilian volunteers” of the revolution who zealously engage in policing moral transgressions and were front-and-centre in cracking down on anti-government protests in 2009.

“No matter how hard they try, America can’t crush us,” boasts a basiji, although he is far too young to remember the 1979 revolution that ousted the pro-Western shah and created an Islamic regime.

But even Iranians who quietly oppose the ruling theocracy (and no one dares publicly oppose it after the crushing of the 2009 demonstrations) believe the country has been badly miscast and is subject to an unwarranted double standard.

“We didn’t invade Afghanistan but we looked after millions of Afghan refugees,” said a musician with no links to the government. “I don’t want Iran to have nuclear weapons but I don’t understand why it’s okay for Israel to have them,” he added.

At the other end of the political spectrum, a woman who came back to Tehran after decades of self-imposed exile in France, remains bitterly disappointed that anti-government dissent has been crushed or scattered.

“This is an old, sophisticated society with a great history and literature,” she said. “Iran isn’t going to disappear, it will be a major player no matter who is in power.”