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WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

Volume XI, No. 2,684 • October 26, 2011

ISRAEL

Media-ocrity of the Week

 

It’s quite something, the prisoner swap between Hamas and the Israeli government that returns Gilad Shalit to his family, and more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners to theirs. The deal is widely viewed as a victory for Hamas, the radical Islamist group that gained power in Gaza after years of frustration at the intractability of the “peace process”. Conversely, it is being seen by some as a sign of weakness in Israel’s rightwing prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. All this, I fear, is simply an indication of how inured the world has become to the obscene idea that Israeli lives are more important than Palestinian lives. Netanyahu argues that he acted because he values Shalit’s life so greatly. Yet who is surprised really, to learn that Netanyahu sees one Israeli’s freedom as a fair exchange for the freedom of so many Palestinians?… There is something abject in [Israel’s] eagerness to accept a transfer that tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe—that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbours.”—Deborah Orr, in “Is An Israeli Life Really More Important Than A Palestinian’s?”, claiming that Israel was motivated to broker the Gilad Shalit deal by the “Zionist” belief in the superiority of Jews over Arabs. (Guardian, October 19.)

Weekly Quotes

 

It is no secret that Hamas was strengthened by the conclusion of its ransom deal with Israel in which over one thousand Palestinian terrorists were freed in exchange for the safe return of Gilad Shalit. But its Fatah rivals are not taking this triumph lying down. In the wake of the announcement that Hamas will be paying each of the released killers…a bonus of $2,000, the Palestinian Authority has also decreed that it will be paying every one of the murderers a separate honorarium.… That PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, the man that is supposed to be Israel’s peace partner, will pay this cash reward for murder, is an irony that is lost on an Obama administration that continues to urge the Jewish state to make concessions to the PA. This is of more than passing interest to American readers since hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer funds are transferred to the Palestinian Authority every year. That [means] Uncle Sam is paying a subsidy to mass murderers.…”—Jonathan S. Tobin. (Contentions, October 23.)

 

Mahmoud Abbas comes out and says, ‘Not only are these people heroes, but we’re going to work for the release of the terrorist who killed 39 people at a Passover Seder in Netanya, that’s a hero.…’ What kind of message does that send to Palestinian children?”—Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, blasting Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas for praising the Palestinian “martyrs” released as part of the Shalit deal. Oren asserted that the Palestinians’ glorification of terrorism “underscores the great difference between Israeli society and the society on the other side. We [Israel] celebrate life, they revel in death.” (Washington Times, October 25.)

 

A week ago, Yahya Dabassa Ibrahim was on a hunger strike, rotting away in an Israeli prison where he expected to spend the rest of his life. But the Oct. 18 prisoner swap between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas landed the Bethlehem native in a surreal place: the Gaza Strip’s brand-new luxury hotel. The eight-story Al-Mashtal Hotel, which opened in late July, is an oasis of fluffy white duvets, stunning ocean views, steaks cooked to perfection and sparkling swimming pools.… As he sat in the hotel’s dimly lighted courtyard on a recent evening, Ibrahim, a convicted bombmaker, struggled to describe how dramatically his luck had changed.… ‘It has been a very overwhelming feeling for us,’ he said as fellow ex-prisoners and their friends chatted animatedly at a nearby table. ‘Being in this hotel, I constantly have to ask myself: Am I seriously out of prison or not?’”—Ernesto Londono, in “Former Prisoners Pampered in Luxury Hotel,” describing the authorization of a $588,000 grant by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to finance the stay of 294 released Palestinian prisoners at a luxury hotel in Gaza. (Washington Post, October 24.)

 

It should be eminently clear that a recurring decision by the political echelon to circumvent due legal process and to grant clemency to murderers and other convicted terrorists will necessarily produce a loss of public faith in the justice system, which is a pillar of any democratic society.… How can this situation be remedied?… One obvious option is to introduce, in the most extreme cases, the use of the death penalty.… To date, the use of the death penalty in Israel has been reserved for Nazis, and was carried out only in the case of Adolf Eichmann. It could be that the time has arrived to reconsider those restrictions.…”—Jonathan Rosen, in “Time To Institute The Death Penalty For Terrorists,” suggesting that Israel reinstitute the death penalty, which would “ensure that the worst of all criminals are fully and irrevocably punished by the state and that justice has been publicly served.” (Jerusalem Post, October 18.)

 

The Israeli government, with its radical right-wing Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, represents the main obstacle for peace.  The international community must put real pressure on Tel Aviv to put a limit to its racist and bloody policy against the Palestinians. Israel practically does not want to stop settlement activities nor end the siege on the Gaza Strip, and practices incitement policy against President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian leadership. Israel wants formal negotiations through which it continues stealing our land and expanding settlements.”—Fatah central committee member and Commissioner of International Relations, Nabil Shaath, rejecting on behalf of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas all proposals to resume Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that are not based on a full settlement freeze, Israel’s recognition of the 1967 borders as terms of reference for negotiations, and the termination of the blockade on the Gaza Strip. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, October 25.)

 

Looting is not made legal under any circumstance. Attempting to draw such false distinctions exposes the true intentions of the Israeli government.”—Chief Palestinian “negotiator”, Saeb Erakat, rejecting Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s offer to freeze all government-sponsored—but not private—construction in Israeli “settlements,” a gesture aimed at jump-starting direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, October 22.)

 

Any law that violates sharia is null and void legally.”—Interim Libyan leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil, in a speech declaring Libya’s “liberation” following the death of deposed leader Moammar Qaddafi, confirming that sharia will be Libya’s principal law, and vowing to lift restrictions on polygamy, which is permitted in Islam. (Associated Press, October 24.)

 

The Shura Council set that [ceiling] when elections were still based on a single-winner system. When the system became list-based, we were obliged to fill the lists with names so that they get accepted.”—Muslim Brotherhood SecretaryGeneral, Mohamed Saad al-Katatny, confirming for the first time that the Muslim Brotherhood-led electoral alliance will compete for a number of seats in Egypt’s upcoming election that surpasses the 50-percent threshold set by the Brotherhood’s Shura Council earlier this year. By previously saying it would refrain from running for more than half of the parliamentary seats, the Brotherhood was trying to reassure secularists that it had no intention of Islamizing the state. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, October 26.)

 

In the framework of efforts by Israel and Egypt, and with the assistance of the US, Egypt has agreed to release Ilan Grapel. At Egypt’s request, Israel has agreed to release 25 Egyptian prisoners, including three minors. The Government of Israel wishes to make it clear that these are not security prisoners.…”—Statement issued by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Media Adviser, confirming that Israel has reached a deal with Egypt to secure the release of Ilan Grapel, who was arrested in Egypt in June and accused of spying for Israel. (Independent Media Review and Analysis & Wall Street Journal, October 25.)

 

American soldiers have launched a major operation this week that has seen hundreds of US and Afghan troops mass near Afghanistan’s eastern border with Pakistan, raising suspicions over a possible unilateral military strike in North Waziristan. If undertaken, the assault would end years of frustration with Pakistani military inaction concerning Islamic terrorists who take refuge there after staging hit-and-run attacks against American and coalition forces in Afghanistan. Called ‘Operation Knife Edge,’ the allied forces are deploying right up to the Pakistani border with helicopter gunships and heavy artillery, blocking the main road between the two countries and conducting house-to-house searches. An Afghan Defense Ministry official said the operation was ‘largely against the Haqqani network,’ the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) and the Afghan security forces’ chief threat in eastern Afghanistan.”—Stephen Brown, in “Is U.S. Set to Invade Pakistan?”, describing the buildup of coalition forces along the Pakistani border. Last month, Haqqani network fighters carried out an assault on the US embassy in Kabul, and also wounded 21 US troops in a bombing in Wardak province. (FrontPage, October 20.)

 

A certain Arab author by the name of Mr. Alaa Alsaegh…was attacked on August 14, 2011, by Muslims in the streets of St. Louis, Missouri. They stabbed him and carved a Star of David onto the flesh of his back. His crime? He published an Arabic language poem titled ‘Tears at the Heart of the Holocaust’ on the website ArabsForIsrael.com. The poem expressed his love for the Jewish people and his sorrow over their fate in the Holocaust. The Muslim community in which he lived was outraged by this thought crime. He was called an infidel and received many threats for articulating his taboo feelings.… In broad daylight and heavy traffic on Aug. 14, Alsaegh paid the price for expressing love for the Jews.… Question:…Where exactly is this horrific story of Sharia street justice in America being reported? It is nowhere in the media.”—Jamie Glazov, editor of FrontPage Magazine, in “Star of David Carved on Infidel’s Back in St. Louis,” describing the media’s reluctance, for political and ideological reasons, to report the growing incidence of hate crimes perpetrated by Muslims in the US. (Pajamas Media, October 6.)

 

Huron University College (HUC) in Ontario [has] announced…the appointment of Ingrid Mattson…as the first London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at its Faculty of Theology. The move validates widespread concern…that the support of several Islamist groups in funding the chair would lead to the appointment of a radical Islamist as the first holder.… Mattson, an Ontario native and convert to Islam…has a long history of defending, denying, and obfuscating the true nature of radical Islam in settings both academic and political. She was the first woman and convert to lead [the] Islamic Society of North America, which has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2007 U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation, a terrorism financing case that tracked monies funneled to Hamas.… Her new perch at HUC was funded in part by organizations with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood: the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) and the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT).…”—Director of academic affairs at the Middle East Forum, Winfield Myers, in “Academic Pay to Play: Radical Islamists Fund One of Their Own in Ontario,” describing the hiring by Ontario’s Huron University College of Ingrid Mattson as its first Chair in Islamic Studies (American Thinker, October 16.)

 

Short Takes

 

ISLAMIST PARTY SET TO WIN TUNISIAN VOTE—(Tunis) Tunisia’s Islamist Nahda Party appears set for a decisive victory in the country’s elections, in an historic test for how the region’s Islamic movements will govern. According to preliminary votes, Nahda captured 43 of the 101 seats so far assigned—or about 43%—in the 217-seat assembly, a substantially better showing than many predicted. In another surprise, two other parties beat pollsters’ expectations, together capturing 26% of the vote. The two center-left parties, Tekatil and the Congress Party for the Republic, campaigned on secular values but also advocated cooperation with Islamists. The party most predicted to place second, the staunchly secular Progressive Democratic Party and Nahda’s most outspoken critics, placed fifth, far worse than expected. Many Tunisians remain deeply suspicious of Nahda and small protests have since broken out in the capital against the movement. (Wall Street Journal, October 25 & 26.)

 

UNSC MAY VOTE ON PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD IN EARLY NOVEMBER—(United Nations) According to UN diplomats, the Palestinian quest for UN membership is likely to come to a head on or around Nov. 11, when Security Council ambassadors hold a final meeting to decide their response. The date represents a delay in dealing with the Palestinian application, submitted by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sept. 23, amid hopes that indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks scheduled for this week could jump-start the peace process. Under UN rules for applications, Council diplomats are currently discussing the technical issues of whether “Palestine” meets the criteria for statehood and is willing to fulfill the obligations of the UN charter. (Jerusalem Post, October 19.)

 

BLAIR: QUARTET WANTS BORDER PROPOSALS FROM ISRAEL, PA—(London) According to Quartet envoy Tony Blair, international mediators will start pressing Israel and the Palestinians to table their ideas on security arrangements and the borders for a two-state solution within three months. Blair confirmed that mediators will hold separate meetings with the Israelis and Palestinians this week in Jerusalem, the latest effort to revive the peace process. By holding indirect talks, the Quartet failed to meet a goal set out in a Sept. 23 statement to bring the parties together for a “preparatory meeting” aimed at reviving the peace talks which broke down more than a year ago. (Reuters, October 19.)

 

ABBAS: OLMERT PROMISED ME MORE PALESTINIAN PRISONERS—(Cairo) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called on Israel to release more Palestinian prisoners, saying a pledge was made to him by the previous government. Abbas alleges that former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert assured him that however many prisoners were set free as part of the Shalit deal with Hamas, the same number or more would be released into his custody. According to senior Palestinian officials, Abbas is demanding that the Quartet pressure Israel to fulfill this promise, including the release of Marwan Barghouti, leader of the second Intifada, and Ahmad Saadat, Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). (Independent Media Review and Analysis, October 22 & Haaretz, October 25.)

 

OBAMA PULLING TROOPS FROM IRAQ BY END OF YEAR—(Washington) President Barack Obama has announced that the U.S. will withdraw all of its troops from Iraq by the end of December. “As promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year,” Mr. Obama said in a briefing at the White House. The announcement signals the imminent end of a war that has cost the U.S. nearly one trillion dollars and claimed the lives of more than four thousand American service members. Obama administration officials had considered extending the U.S. troop presence beyond the end of the year, but a deal to grant immunity to American soldiers could not be reached with the Iraqi government. Military leaders wanted to keep a presence in Iraq as a deterrent to expanding Iranian influence. (Wall Street Journal, October 21 & 23.)

 

CANADA IMPOSES BAN ON IRANIAN OFFICIALS—(Toronto) Canada has imposed sanctions on several senior Iranian officials implicated in a scheme to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, becoming the third country to do so after the United States and Britain. The sanctions target five Iranians, four of them members of the covert Quds Force, which attempted to pay a Mexican drug cartel US$1.5-million to kill Adel AlJubeir. Calling Iran’s actions “absolutely and totally unacceptable,” Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced the measures in the House of Commons, thus restricting the men from travelling to Canada, and banning Canadians and Canadian institutions from have any financial dealings with them. (National Post, October 19.)

 

US: ‘CREDIBLE THREATS’ IN SYRIA FORCE AMBASSADOR PULLOUT—(Jerusalem) US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, has been pulled out of the country over security concerns. “Ambassador Robert Ford was brought back to Washington as a result of credible threats against his personal safety in Syria,” US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said. Ford, a veteran diplomat, infuriated Syria’s rulers by supporting the protest movement demanding an end to Assad’s rule. In July, Ford was cheered by protesters during a visit to the anti-Assad hotbed city of Hama, and also ignored a ban on Western diplomats traveling outside of Damascus by frequenting a town that had witnessed regular protests in the southern province of Deraa. In response, Syria’s ambassador to the United States, Imad Moustapha, has been recalled. (Jerusalem Post & Ynet News, October 24.)

 

TURKEY ASKS FOR QUAKE HELP, BARAK SENDING SPECIAL EQUIPMENT—(Jerusalem) Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has approved the delivery of special equipment to Turkey to aid in the country’s rescue and recovery following a deadly earthquake. The death toll from Turkey’s 7.2-magnitude quake has risen to 432, with the final count likely to rise further as many people are still missing. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to personally offer assistance with the recovery efforts and to “express his condolences” to the earthquake victims. The phone conversation between the two prime ministers is the first since Turkey downgraded Israel’s diplomatic status in September. (Jerusalem Post, October 25.)

 

136,785 TONS OF GOODS ENTER THE GAZA STRIP FROM ISRAEL—(Jerusalem)According tothe Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), 4,945 trucks carrying 136,785 tons of goods entered the Gaza Strip from Israel last month. Of the trucks, 1,728 were carrying food, 54 were carrying clothes, 66 were carrying electrical equipment, and 22 were carrying sports equipment, vehicles, washing machines and refrigerators. COGAT is a unit within the IDF responsible for transport of aid into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It works with the Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) of the Gaza Strip and West Bank’s Civil Administration to facilitate entrance of supplies such as gas, building materials, electrical appliances, ceramic parts, wheat and other foods, hygienic products and more. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, October 23.)

 

US JEWISH GROUPS SPLIT OVER PLEDGE FOR UNITY ON ISRAEL—(New York) A National Pledge for Unity on Israel issued jointly by the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee has created a backlash, with both the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) and the Republican Jewish Committee (RJC) refusing to sign it. The pledge was conceived “to encourage other national organizations, elected officials, religious leaders, community groups and individuals to rally around bipartisan support for Israel while preventing the Jewish state from becoming a wedge issue in the upcoming [US political] campaign season.” However, Republican Jewish Committee Executive Director Matt Brooks criticized the initiative, saying the RJC “will not be silenced on this or any issue,” and that “this effort to stifle debate on US policy toward Israel” contravenes American traditions of open and vigorous debate. Emergency Committee for Israel chairman William Kristol likewise condemned the pledge, saying “this attempt to silence those of us who have questioned the [Obama] administration’s foreign policy approach vis-a-vis Israel will re-energize us.” The release of the pledge comes as the one-year countdown to the 2012 presidential election is set to begin. (Jerusalem Post, October 26.)

On Topic

Foxman Backs Down on Partisan Pledge «  Commentary Magazine Contentions, October 26, 2011
Jonathan S. Tobin
Foxman Backs Down on Partisan Pledge « Commentary Magazine
Abbas is Torpedoing Negotiations «  Commentary Magazine Contentions, October 25, 2011
Seth Mandel
Abbas is Torpedoing Negotiations « Commentary Magazine
Viewpoint: The ... JPost - Jerusalem Report - Palestinian Affairs Jerusalem Report, October 22, 2011
Morton Klein
Viewpoint: The ... JPost - Jerusalem Report - Palestinian Affairs
‘44% of Italians have negat... JPost - Jewish World - Jewish News Jerusalem Post, October 25, 2011
Benjamin Weinthal
‘44% of Italians have negat... JPost - Jewish World - Jewish News

EDITORIAL BOARD

Prof. Frederick Krantz, Director Prof. Frederick Krantz, Director (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)

Prof. Harold Waller Prof. Harold Waller (McGill University)

Prof. Ira Robinson, Associate Chairman Prof. Ira Robinson, Associate Chairman (Department of Religion, Concordia University)

Baruch Cohen, Research Chairman Baruch Cohen, Research Chairman (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)

Rob Coles (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research) Rob Coles (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)

Ber Lazarus Ber Lazarus (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)

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