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WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP—PURIM EDITION

Volume XI, No. 2,777 • March 7, 2012

ISRAEL

THE BOOK OF ESTHER
THE JOYFUL FESTIVAL OF PURIM 2012 (5772)
Baruch Cohen

In beloved memory of Malca z’l

“Should all Jewish festivals be abolished, Purim will remain.”
Tefilot Mikol Hashana(D.W. Libshitz, p. 419, 1878)

 

Purim will be celebrated forever. Purim will live on so long as prejudice, hatred, and enemies like Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad exist, reminding us of Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king who destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C.

Today, the Jew is again being attacked, with hostility and enmity largely directed at the Jewish state of Israel. Accordingly, this year’s Purim holiday should be celebrated with greater joy and with greater enthusiasm then ever! Davka! We are here!

The Book of Esther is a book in which not just one period of Jewish history is depicted, but all periods. It is a book that remains as relevant as ever—the enemies of the Jewish people strive to ensure this always holds true.

The Book of Esther is a story which connects one Jewish generation to the next, evidencing the indestructibility of the Jewish people! Am Israel Chai!

Today’s Amalekim, like the Hamans of the past, are Ahmadinejad and his cohorts. They aim to disrupt Israel’s journey towards its glorious destiny—the creation of a better and just world for all.

The joyful holiday of Purim calls upon all Jews, all over the world to:

“Remember what Amalek did to you.” (Deuteronomy XXV:17)

Hag Purim Sameach to all friends of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
and to the entire nation of Israel!

Media-ocrity of the Week

With his country contemplating an attack on Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visit[ed] his closest ally in the world [last] Friday: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Mr. Harper has changed Canada’s traditional positions on questions relating to Israel, to the intense satisfaction of Israel and, in particular, the very right-wing coalition government Mr. Netanyahu leads.… [Mr. Harper’s] government has become Israel’s pulling guard in the world. Inside meetings of la Francophonie and the G8, Mr. Harper has personally inserted himself…to block resolutions even mildly critical of Israel.… After last fall’s UN General Assembly meeting, Israel announced new settlements.… Canada said nothing. At that UN meeting, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird wrote his own speech, an over-the-top effort laced with fiery rhetoric supporting Israel and damning its foes.… Mr. Baird recently spent five days in Israel, with an Orthodox rabbi from Canada alongside.… By contrast, Mr. Harper spent four days in China, a rather more important country than Israel. But not more important, apparently, to the Harper government, whose insensitivity to the Palestinians is complete and whose support for anything Israel does or wants is unconditional. Should Israel attack Iran’s nuclear installations…he can assume complete support from Mr. Harper.…”—Jeffrey Simpson, in “With Friends Like Harper, Bibi Can Do No Wrong,” strongly denouncing the Harper government’s steadfast support for Israel. (Globe & Mail, March 2.)

 

Weekly Quotes

As for Israel, like any sovereign country, we reserve the right to defend ourselves against a country that calls and works for our destruction.”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, to reporters in Ottawa at the start of a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, reinforcing Israel’s right to defend itself in the face of the Iranian regime’s “relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons.” Netanyahu added that it is “particularly gratifying to be among such good friends in Ottawa,” and publicly thanked Harper for his “principled” support of Israel. For his part, Harper reiterated that Canada “of course recognize[s] the right of Israel to defend itself as a sovereign state, as a Jewish state.” (Reuters & National Post, March 2.)

 

After all, that is the very purpose of the Jewish state, to restore to the Jewish people control over our destiny.”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in the Oval Office on Monday with US President Barack Obama, explaining why Israel must always remain the “master of its fate” in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program. (Reuters, March 5.)

 

Let’s begin with a basic truth that you all understand: No Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe Israel off the map, and sponsors terrorist groups committed to Israel’s destruction.… A nuclear-armed Iran is completely counter to Israel’s security interests. But it is also counter to the national security interests of the United States. Indeed, the entire world has an interest in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.… I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say.…”—US President Barack Obama, to the AIPAC Policy Conference, reiterating his commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. (White House Website, March 4.)

 

This speech is part of Obama’s election campaign.”—Chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, criticizing US President Barack Obama’s address to AIPAC for “ignor[ing] the requirements for peace as it did not touch on urging Israel to accept the two-state solution, halt settlement activities, and stop imposing facts on the ground.” (Jerusalem Post, March 5.)

 

It’s pretty straightforward in my view. If Barack Obama is re-elected, Iran will have a nuclear weapon.”—Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, claiming Iran will obtain nuclear weapons if US President Barack Obama is re-elected for a second term. (Jerusalem Post, March 5.)

 

I don’t believe that an Iranian nuclear weapon is just a threat to Israel. It is also…a danger more broadly, not least because there are signs that the Iranians want to have some sort of intercontinental missile capability. So we have to be clear this is potentially a threat much more widely.”—British Prime Minister David Cameron, reiterating that Tehran’s drive to develop nuclear weapons poses a global threat. (Daily Mail, March 7.)

 

The agency continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program. [The IAEA] is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”—Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), announcing that Iran has tripled its monthly production of higher-grade enriched uranium since November, and conveying the IAEA’s “serious concerns” about the military dimensions to Tehran’s nuclear activities. (Reuters, March 5.)

 

We are witness to state-sanctioned assaults that are tantamount to crimes against humanity, including the highest per capita rate of executions in the world; the imprisonment and silencing of more journalists and bloggers than any other country; the persistent and pervasive assault on women’s rights; the targeting of religious and ethnic minorities, particularly the Baha’i and the Kurds; the criminalization of fundamental freedoms of speech, association and assembly; and the imprisonment of opposition leaders, human rights defenders, and the lawyers who would defend them.”—Prof. Irwin Cotler, Canadian MP and member of the Inter-Parliamentary Group for Human Rights in Iran—an international consortium of Parliamentarians dedicated to promoting and protecting Iranian human rights—condemning on the eve of Iranian Parliamentary elections the “massive state-sanctioned assault on the human rights of the Iranian people.” (Office of Irwin Cotler, February 29.)

 

On more than one occasion, we have captured IRGC officers and Iranian experts. There is a full armored IRGC brigade operating on Syrian soil…along the Lebanese-Syrian border. This is information that we are revealing publicly for the first time, although they [the IRGC armored brigade] have been present there since 2007, following Hezbollah’s war with Israel.”—Free Syrian Army commander, Brigadier General Hussam Awak, disclosing for the first time that an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp armored brigade is fighting alongside Bashar Assad’s forces in Syria. He added that Assad “is also utilizing…Hezbollah Brigade 101, [which] specializes in street battles and sniper attacks…against the Syrian people.” (Independent Media Review and Analysis, March 1.)

 

If Hezbollah decided to support the democratic process in Syria, there would not be any barrier [to relations]. We will not sacrifice Hezbollah if Hezbollah does not sacrifice us as a people and as a cause.”—Leader of the Syrian National Council, Burhan Ghalioun, announcing the opposition group’s willingness to engage with Hezbollah after assuming power. Ghalioun added that “Hezbollah’s greatest popularity in the past in the Arab world was in Syria because it did a glorious job when it stood against Israel.” (Jerusalem Post, February 29.)

 

The nations gathered here, including Syria, have solemnly pledged to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet when a government massacres thousands of its own citizens—innocent men, women and children—it violates that declaration’s most basic right: the right to life. When a government turns heavy artillery upon its own cities, day after day, it commits inhuman acts that shock our collective conscience.… We ask: Does Syria believe the UN will be silent while it commits mass murder before the eyes of the world? If so, perhaps it is because, for too long, this council turned a blind eye to Syria’s gross human rights abuses.… For too long, this council adopted Syrian-sponsored resolutions against a neighboring state [Israel], a liberal democracy that protects, not attacks, its citizens.… As a result, millions have suffered. For the sake of Syria’s victims, it is time to right this wrong.… Today, it is time for this council to send a clear message: a government that murders its citizens must go.”—Executive director of UN Watch, Hillel Neuer, providing testimony at an urgent UN Human Rights Council session on Syria session. The meeting concluded with a resolution criticizing Bashar Assad’s widespread violations, but fell short of calling on the Syrian President to step down. Both Russia and China defended the Assad regime during the proceedings. (UN Watch, March 1.)

 

The point of elections is that the outcome should be uncertain. This was not the case in Russia. According to our assessment, these elections were unfair.”—Tonino Picula, a monitor for the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), claiming last weekend’s presidential election in Russia was skewed to favor Vladimir Putin, who secured nearly 65 percent of vote. (Reuters, March 5.)

 

Dollis is one of Israel’s best friends in Greece. He has been arguing for more than 20 years that Greece should get closer to Israel.… [He] was one of the architects of Greece’s decision to upgrade its relationship with Israel, which has only flourished since then.”—Israel’s envoy to Athens, Aryeh Mekel, following the announcement of a joint Israel-Greece Conference to take place in Thessaloniki (Salonika) this summer, describing Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitrios Dollis as a major force behind Athens’ dramatic realignment of its foreign policy toward Israel. Dollis described the warming relations between the countries as “taking place in a truthful manner, with an emphasis on the long run.” The Conference will focus on ways for both countries to strengthen ties to their respective Diaspora communities. (Jerusalem Post, February 29.)

 

Short Takes

WORLD POWERS ACCEPT IRANIAN OFFER OF NUCLEAR TALKS—(Jerusalem) European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has written to Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, accepting an offer to resume negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program. Ashton, who represents the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany in dealings with Iran, was responding to a previous letter from Jalili claiming Iran had “new initiatives” to bring to the table. Last week in Canada, Israeli prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu cautioned the West over Tehran’s purported willingness to resume negotiations, saying “[Iran] could again…exploit the talks…to deceive and delay so they…can get to the nuclear finish line by running up the clock.… I think the international community should not fall into this trap.” (Reuters, March 2 & 6.)

 

CANADA SANCTIONS SYRIA, MCCAIN CALLS FOR STRIKES—(Toronto) Canada has shut its embassy in Damascus and is imposing fresh sanctions on Syria, banning all dealings with the country’s central bank and seven cabinet ministers. “Our message remains clear: Assad must go,” Foreign Minister John Baird said in reference to Canada’s latest moves. Meanwhile, US Senator John McCain became the first high-ranking US official to publicly advocate for military intervention in Syria. McCain called on the Obama administration to lead an international effort to protect key Syrian population centers through air strikes on President Bashar Assad’s forces, saying “The ultimate goal of air strikes should be to establish and defend safe havens in Syria…in which opposition forces can organize and plan their political and military activities against Assad.” McCain affirmed in remarks on the Senate floor that “The time has come for a new [Syria] policy. Assad needs to know that he will not win.” (Reuters, March 5.)

 

MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD FORMS POLITICAL PARTY IN LIBYA—(Tripoli) The Muslim Brotherhood in Libya has announced the formation of a political party, the Justice and Development Party, after six decades of repression under dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s regime. The Brotherhood’s spokesman, Mohamed Gaair, said the group has representation in more than 18 cities across the country, and that more than 1,400 members attended last Friday’s meeting in Tripoli to formally declare the formation of the body. The Brotherhood is considered the most organized political movement in Libya. Meanwhile, tribal leaders and militia commanders in eastern Libya have declared the formation of a semiautonomous region, raising fears the country is witnessing the first stages of political disintegration due to the failures of the Western-backed National Transitional Council (NTC) in Tripoli. A conference of about 3,000 delegates in Benghazi installed Ahmed al-Senussi, a great nephew of Libya’s former king, as head of the new Cyrenaica Provincial Council, and proposed that the Eastern region run its own affairs apart from foreign policy, the army and oil resources. The Cyrenaica province would cover nearly half of Libya’s territory. (Associated Press, March 3 & National Post, March 7.)

 

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS CALL ON A-G TO INDICT FREED TERRORISTS—(Jerusalem) A group of 52 US congressmen and women have called on US Attorney-General Eric Holder to prosecute those Palestinian terrorists, released in October as part of the Gilad Shalit deal, who are responsible for killing and maiming Americans. Under the 1991 US Anti-Terror Act, the United States may prosecute foreign nationals who perpetrate terrorist acts against American citizens, even if those acts are not carried out on US soil. However, for prosecution to proceed, the law requires written certification from the attorney-general that the alleged offenses were intended to “coerce, intimidate or retaliate against a government or civilian population.” In a bipartisan letter to the Attorney-General, the lawmakers slammed as “disappointing” the US Department of Justice’s record regarding terrorism committed in Israel, saying that the US has never indicted, extradited or prosecuted any of the Palestinian terrorists responsible for perpetrating the 71 terrorist attacks since 1993 in which Americans were killed or injured. (Jerusalem Post, March 2.)

 

CANADIAN MUSLIM YOUTH GROUP LOSES CHARITABLE STATUS—(Toronto) Canada’s World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) has been stripped of its charitable status after a Canada Revenue Agency investigation found that its Saudi-based parent organization purportedly financed Islamist terror campaigns. Under the heading of “Adverse Reporting on WAMY and its Affiliates,” the Canadian government audit cites testimony by counterterrorism consultants before a U.S. Senate committee that says Osama bin Laden in 1993 identified three Muslim charities, including WAMY [in Saudi Arabia], as the “primary sources of al-Qaeda financial and fundraising activity.” Last month, Citizenship and Immigration Canada also stopped funding Ontario non-profit The Palestine House Educational and Cultural Centre due to the group’s “pattern of support for extremism.” (Canadian Jewish News, February 23 & National Post, March 7.)

 

RUBINSTEIN: ARAB CITIZENS DON’T HAVE TO SING HATIKVA—(Jerusalem) Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein has come to the defense of his judicial colleague, Justice Salim Joubran, claiming that the Arab-Israeli justice’s refusal to sing Israel’s national anthem was justified. Joubran last week faced harsh criticism for failing to sing “Hatikva” at a ceremony marking Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch’s retirement. According to Rubinstein, the criticism of Joubran was “a storm in a teacup” and “Arab citizens shouldn’t be required to sing words that do not speak to their hearts and which do not reflect their roots.” Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on Joubran to address his “split personality,” as one cannot be a Supreme Court justice while shunning Israel’s national anthem. (Ynet News, February 29 & Jerusalem Post, March 1.)

 

SBARRO TERRORIST GETS TV SHOW—(Jerusalem) Ahlam Tamimi, the Hamas terrorist who drove a suicide bomber to the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem where 15 people were consequently killed, has gotten her own television show. After being freed from an Israeli prison last October as part of the Gilad Shalit deal, the Hamas-affiliated Al-Quds satellite channel offered Tamimi a slot to present a weekly program called “Nassim al-Ahrar.” The show deals with Palestinian convicts imprisoned in Israel, and those who have been freed. In an interview published shortly after her release, Tamimi said she does not regret her involvement in the attack, which took place in 2001. (Ynet News, March 1.)

 

BIRTHRIGHT CONTRIBUTED NIS 2B. TO ISRAELI ECONOMY—(Jerusalem) According to Taglit-Birthright Israel, the organization’s trips have contributed more than NIS 2 billion to the Israeli economy since their inception in 2000. The Birthright program, which brings Jewish adults between the ages of 18 to 26 from the Diaspora to Israel on a free, 10-day educational trip, has brought some 280,650 people to the Jewish state since the program was established. CEO Gidi Mark estimated that around 40 percent of participants have returned to Israel at some stage, and that 7-10% have made aliya. Birthright expects to bring a record 50,000 visitors to Israel in 2013. (Jerusalem Post, February 26)

On Topic

Purim in Contemporary Guise Jerusalem Post, March 1, 2012
Jonathan Rosenblum
Purim in Contemporary Guise
Yossi Klein Halevi: Why Israel Still Can’t Trust That Obama Has Its Back | The New Republic New Republic, March 7, 2012
Yossi Klein Halevi
Yossi Klein Halevi: Why Israel Still Can’t Trust That Obama Has Its Back | The New Republic
Analysis: PM at AIPAC - powerful... JPost - Iranian Threat - News Jerusalem Post, March 6, 2012
Herb Keinon
Analysis: PM at AIPAC - powerful... JPost - Iranian Threat - News
Iran Elections Deal Blow to Ahmadinejad and the Presidency - NYTimes.com NY Times, March 4, 2012
Neil Macfarquhar
Iran Elections Deal Blow to Ahmadinejad and the Presidency - NYTimes.com

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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