Month: February 2012


Media-ocrity of the Week


The following is a letter written by CIJR’s Publications Chairman
to the
Jerusalem Post’s editor.


Re: Of Hate and Hope (Jerusalem Post, February 23.)


The publication of Daniel Eisenbud’s denigration of a “nefarious breed of Jewish immigrant [that] comes [to Israel] filled with rage” crosses the line. That any law-abiding Jew who has made aliyah be described in the world’s premier Zionist newspaper as a “ravenous shark surrounded by chunks of fish in bloodied waters,” and be compared to “cancer cells,” is scandalous. And for the author to suggest that the presence of these Jews “most upsets the balance” in Israel, as opposed to the surrounding countries’ “murderous hatred that tries to permeate [Israel’s] borders day after day, second after second,” is preposterous.


Mr. Eisenbud’s subsequent refusal to reveal the identity of this “toxic” group, coupled with his failure to at the very least inquire as to the nature of the purported grievances of these “immigrant[s] with a mentality of anger,” further puts into question the author’s journalistic integrity.


Worse is that Mr. Eisenbud implies that these “ailing” Jews, primarily for the likes of whom Israel was reborn in 1948, are somehow destroying the Zionist dream. Rather than reaching out, Mr. Eisenbud encourages these Jews to “go back to where [they] came from” because they have “nothing of substance to offer” and are merely “expedit[ing Israel’s] destruction.”


This type of know-nothing chauvinist statement is expected from “oil-rich countries with ideologies about Jews that would have made Hitler glow with pride.” Not from a Jew. And, equally disturbing, is why the Jerusalem Post, under new editorial direction, would see fit to publish such a vicious and poorly-written piece.

Weekly Quotes


Since I last wrote to you ten days ago, ten more rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli communities. Ten days. Ten rockets. Not one word of condemnation from the Security Council. It is time for the Council to speak with one voice and act with one purpose against the terrorists that operate with impunity in the Gaza Strip.”—Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, in a letter sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, expressing outrage over the UN Security Council’s failure to condemn the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israel. (Ynet news, February 28.)


The Agency continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.”—Excerpt of an International Atomic Energy Agency statement, confirming in a new report that Iran has sharply increased its uranium enrichment in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. The nuclear watchdog also announced the failure of its mission to Tehran last week, saying that Iranian officials refused to respond to allegations of research relevant to developing nuclear arms. (Reuters, February 24.)


“[Iran] has not made a decision to produce a nuclear weapon, they are not on the verge of getting a nuclear weapon, and there is still time and space for diplomacy to work.”—Anthony Blinken, National Security Adviser to US Vice President Joe Biden, describing the Obama administration’s Iran policy as “buying time and continuing to move this problem into the future.” According to Blinken, “if you can do that strange things can happen in the interim. You never know.” (Haaretz, February 28.)


One issue will be central: the increasing power of Iran.”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, confirming his upcoming March 5 meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington will primarily concern Iran. (Jerusalem Post, February 26.)


Israeli officials’ remarks about launching an attack against Iran are ridicules [sic].” A military attack by the Zionist regime will undoubtedly lead to the collapse of this regime.”—Iranian Defense Minister, Brig.-Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, claiming that Israel is “on the verge of dissolution,” and that a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would hasten the Jewish state’s demise. (Jerusalem Post, February 25.)


If Iran’s goal is to convince the world its nuclear program is not aimed at creating a weapon to use against Israel, it’s going about it the wrong way. Tehran’s government-run Farsi News Agency has published an interview with the widow of the nuclear scientist who was recently killed under mysterious circumstances that most observers believe is the work of Israel’s Mossad.… But rather than attempt to tug at the heartstrings of the West or to convince the world her husband was innocent…Fatemeh Bolouri Kashani’s statement will have quite the opposite effect. According to Kashani, her late husband…had strong feelings about his work: ‘Mostafa’s ultimate goal was the annihilation of Israel.…”—Jonathan S. Tobin, in “Slain Iranian Nuclear Scientist’s Goal: Annihilate Israel.” Similarly, following last November’s mysterious death at a missile factory of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Gen. Hassan Tehrani-Moghadam, the Iranian press published his last will and testament, in which he requested the epitaph, “This is the grave of someone who wanted to destroy Israel.” (Contentions, February 22 & 24.)


I’m disappointed that the game was cancelled. They told me it was cancelled because I’m Israeli.”—Avram Grant, coach of Serbia’s Partizan Belgrad soccer club, following Iran-based Sepahan Isfahan’s decision to cancel a training match between the teams due to Grant’s Israeli nationality. (Jerusalem Post, February 20.)


The commission received credible and consistent evidence identifying high- and mid-ranking members of the armed forces who ordered their subordinates to shoot at unarmed protesters, kill soldiers who refused to obey such orders, arrest persons without cause, mistreat detained persons and attack civilian neighborhoods with indiscriminate tanks and machine-gun fire.”—Excerpts from a United Nations report on Syria, confirming that crimes against humanity have been perpetrated by Syrian forces under orders from the “highest level” of army and government officials. (Reuters, February 23.)


There are credible reports that the death toll now often exceeds 100 civilians a day, including many women and children. The total killed so far is certainly well over 7,500 people.”—UN Under-Secretary-General for political affairs, Lynn Pascoe, informing the Security Council that more than 7,500 people have been killed in Syria during the Assad regime’s brutal 11-month crackdown on protesters. (Reuters, February 28.)


The event was held in order to reject the conspiracy taking shape against Syria, with the US leading this move along with Qatar and Saudi Arabia. They wish to sow terror within Syria and hold the regime accountable.”—Arab-Israeli Knesset member Issam Makhoul, at a conference in Haifa organized by the Popular Committee for Syria’s Victory, expressing solidarity with Syrian President Bashar Assad, and claiming the turmoil in Syria is the result of a conspiracy led by “enemies of the Syrian people.” According to Makhoul, “The State of Israel is an important player in this state of affairs and continues to support the bloodshed in Syria.” (Ynet News, February 26.)


I salute all the nations of the Arab Spring and I salute the heroic people of Syria who are striving for freedom, democracy and reform.”—Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, publicly severing the terror organization’s former close ties to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, and casting Hamas’ lot with the Syrian opposition. (Reuters, February 24.)


“The Israeli government is determined to destroy any chance of resuming the peace process. The leaks are intended for public relations.”—Chief PLO negotiator, Saeb Erekat, accusing the Israeli government of leaking information pertaining to the recent peace talks in Jordan. Erekat’s comments came in response to Israeli media reports that the positions on the issue of borders presented by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the Palestinians did not significantly differ from those tabled by then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni at the Annapolis Conference in 2007. (Jerusalem Post, February 22.)


Palestine is a state built on struggle
With the Martyr’s blood, with gunfire
It [Palestine] will restore the plant to its land
It will bring home those who are distant
It will return the stolen [property] to its inhabitants
So that Arab honor will not be degraded
Oh treacherous aggressor, oh sinner [Israel]
We will rise like the sun shining on dry grass.
”—Excerpt of a song broadcast on official Palestinian Authority television. The video aired on Jan. 20, 2012 and Feb. 1, 2012. (Palestinian Media Watch, February 23.)


I’ve had the great privilege of sitting next to the giants of the judicial system. The turnover of justices in the Supreme Court casts heavy responsibility upon us, the incumbent judges. We must preserve the magnificent tradition of the court. The State of Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, and it must preserve the Jewish values and protect the ways of democracy.”— Asher Grunis, after being sworn in as the new president of Israel’s Supreme Court, replacing outgoing chief justice Dorit Beinisch. (Ynet news, February 28.)


It’s an outrage.… These are hypocritical candidacies. [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez throws judges and critics in jail, bullies young student activists and uses his UN vote to shield the atrocities of others. Venezuela just voted against UN action on the horrific massacres perpetrated by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Pakistan persecutes religious minorities, including Sufis, Shiites, Ahmadis and Christians. Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, is on death row in Pakistan under Pakistan’s medieval blasphemy law. Pakistan’s judicial system punishes women who are victimized by rape instead of the rapists.… We call on all UN member states to state clearly that Venezuela and Pakistan are not qualified to be members of the Human Rights Council, and to strongly oppose their candidacies.”—Executive director of UN Watch, Hillel Neuer, condemning bids by Venezuela and Pakistan to join the UN’s 47-nation Human Rights Council. Last year, UN Watch exposed Syria’s candidacy to the council, and initiated a diplomatic campaign that pressured Damascus to drop its bid at the last minute. (UN Watch, February 22.)


Short Takes


PM: IAEA REPORT PROVES IRAN CONTINUING NUCLEAR PROGRAM—(Jerusalem) According to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest report proves that Iran’s nuclear program is progressing “without let-up.” The report shows that Iran has carried out a significant expansion of activities at its main uranium enrichment plants, Natanz and Fordow. At Natanz, the IAEA said 52 cascades—each containing around 170 centrifuges—are now operating, up from 37 in November. At the Fordow facility, buried beneath 80 meters (265 feet) of rock and soil, almost 700 centrifuges are now refining uranium to a fissile concentration of 20 percent and preparations are under way to install many more. (Jerusalem Post, February 25.)


UN CONDEMNS TERRORIST ATTACKS ON ISRAELI OFFICIALS—(Jerusalem) The United Nations Security Council has condemned “in the strongest terms” the Iranian-sponsored terrorist attack against Israeli diplomats in New Delhi, India and the attempted attack in Tbilisi, Georgia. The UN resolution stated that terrorism poses “one of the most serious threats to peace and security,” and that terrorist acts are “criminal and unjustifiable.” Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, welcomed the resolution, saying it was the first time the Security Council condemned a terror attack against Israeli targets since 2005. (Jerusalem Post, February 24.)


PALESTINIANS ATTACK CHRISTIAN TOURISTS AT TEMPLE MOUNT—(Jerusalem) Palestinians worshiping at the Temple Mount have attacked a group of Christian tourists with stones, reportedly in reaction to a rumor that a group of right-wing Jews were planning to destroy the Al-Aksa mosque and build the Third Temple in its place. Some 18 Palestinians were arrested in connection with the attacks, following clashes with Jerusalem police, which left three officers injured. The incident comes a week after a regularly scheduled visit to the Temple Mount by Likud Party member Moshe Feiglin was canceled after flyers appeared in the area claiming he was visiting the historic site in order to “declare that healthy leadership begins with total control over Temple Mount.” (JTA, February 19.)


‘FRIENDS OF SYRIA’ DEMAND ACCESS FOR AID AT ONCE—(Tunis) Representatives from more than 60 governments have met in Tunis for the first “Friends of Syria” summit. At the one-day gathering, participants backed an Arab League plan calling on President Bashar Assad to cede power, and recognized Syria’s main opposition, the Syrian National Council, “as a legitimate representative of Syrians seeking peaceful democratic change.” A draft declaration from the meeting called on Syria to “immediately cease all violence,” to allow the United Nations access to Homs, and to let agencies deliver humanitarian aid to civilians. Following the meeting, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said he would dispatch former UN chief Kofi Annan to Syria as a joint U.N.-Arab League envoy. (Reuters, February 24 & Wall Street Journal, February 25.)


KREMLIN: RUSSIA, IRAN OPPOSE INTERVENTION IN SYRIA—(Moscow) Following a phone conversation between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Kremlin has released a statement reiterating Moscow and Tehran’s position that the crisis in Syria be resolved without foreign intervention. According to the statement, the two Presidents discussed “the dramatic situation developing around Syria” and called for an internal Syrian political dialogue “without preliminary conditions”—wording suggesting Assad should not be required to step down as a condition for talks. Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has protected Syrian President Bashar Assad from UN condemnation and potential sanctions throughout the regime’s crackdown on protests. Syria is Iran’s sole ally in the Arab world. (Reuters, February 22.)


ABBAS URGES ARABS TO FIGHT JUDAIZATION OF J’LEM—(Jerusalem) Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called on Arabs and Muslims to visit Jerusalem to counter what he called Israel’s accelerated efforts to ‘Judaize’ the city. Speaking at the International Conference for the Defense of Jerusalem in Doha, Qatar, Abbas urged participants to defend Jerusalem “against Israeli violation at all levels,” and was quoted by the Palestinian Ma’an news agency as saying: “The Israeli occupation authorities are using the ugliest and most dangerous means to implement plans to erase and remove the Arab-Islamic and the Christian character of east Jerusalem.” In response, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Office issued a statement calling Abbas’ comments “harshly inflammatory” and “not how one makes peace.” Hamas immediately rejected Abbas’ invitation to visit Jerusalem, with spokesman Fawzi Barhoum saying Hamas officials would only enter the city in order to “liberate Jerusalem” and “deliver it from the occupation.” (Jerusalem Post, February 26 & 27.)


CAIRO TRIAL OF NGO WORKERS ADJOURNED TO APRIL—(Cairo) An Egyptian court has adjourned until April 26 the trial of dozens of democracy activists, including 16 Americans, following the opening session of a case that has strained US-Egypt relations. Forty-three foreign and Egyptian non-profit workers—including the son of the US transportation secretary—stand accused of receiving illegal funds from abroad and carrying out political activities unrelated to their civil society work. According to Khaled Suleiman, a lawyer acting against the defendants, the trial’s postponement will allow for more time to arrive at a diplomatic solution to the case. A senior US official confirmed that Washington and Cairo are holding “intense discussions” to resolve the crisis. Otherwise, Congress has threatened to cut off 1.5 b. in annual aid to Egypt. (Reuters, February 26.)


ISLAMISTS DOMINATE IN EGYPT’S UPPER HOUSE VOTE—(Cairo) The Muslim Brotherhood has won 58 percent of the seats contested in the Egyptian parliament’s upper house, known as the Shura Council, further solidifying its role as the country’s most powerful political group. Egypt’s election commission also confirmed that the ultraconservative Al-Nour party placed second, claiming a quarter of the seats, while liberal parties, including the Egyptian bloc and Wafd, came in third with a combined 12 percent of the seats. Two-thirds of the seats are filled by elections and the rest are appointed. The 270-seat upper house has no legislative powers and enjoys only a consultative role. (AFP, February 26.)


WIDESPREAD ATTACKS KILL DOZENS ACROSS IRAQ—(Baghdad) A barrage of explosions and drive-by shootings have killed and wounded dozens of people across Iraq. According to security officials, who provided a preliminary toll of at least 33 killed and 127 wounded, most of the attacks occurred in Baghdad and targeted security forces as well as civilian neighborhoods usually congested during early morning rush hour. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks; however, an audio statement issued last month, allegedly from the spokesman for an al Qaeda affiliate known as the Islamic State of Iraq, had vowed “open war” against the country’s Shiite-led government and warned that members of the country’s security forces would be targeted unless they quit their jobs. The terror group, which espouses a severe form of Sunni Islam, previously claimed responsibility for most of the bombings that have taken place in the country since the end of the U.S. military mission in December. (Wall Street Journal, February 23.)


US OFFICERS KILLED IN AFGHAN INTERIOR MINISTRY—(Kabul) NATO’s top commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, citing “force protection reasons,” has recalled all staff working at ministries in Afghanistan’s capital after two high-ranking American officers were shot dead inside the Interior Ministry. Rage continues to grip Afghanistan over last week’s accidental burning of Korans at a US military base north of Kabul. The total death toll since riots broke out throughout stands at more than 30, with hundreds more injured. Numerous high-ranking US officials have apologized for the incident. (Reuters & LA Times, February 25.)


REPORT: ISRAEL’S SECURITY SITUATION WORST IN DECADES—(Jerusalem) According to a study released by Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, the Arab revolts and an emboldened Iran have created the most precarious security situation for Israel since the end of the Cold War. The report, “The 2011 Arab Uprisings and Israel’s National Security,” was authored by the center’s director, Prof. Efraim Inbar, who claims that Israel’s security environment is “worse now than at any time in the last two decades.” [Please see ‘On Topic’ section for the full report—Ed.] (Jerusalem Post, February 29.)


ISRAEL NAMES FIRST EVER ETHIOPIAN-BORN AMBASSADOR—(Jerusalem) Israel’s Foreign Ministry has announced the appointment of Beylanesh Zevadia as envoy to Ethiopia, the Jewish state’s first ever Ethiopian-born ambassador. Zevadia, 44, grew up in the village of Ambova in the Gondar province before making aliyah 28 years ago. After attending ulpan at Jerusalem’s Ulpan Etzion, Zevadia went to work for the Jewish Agency during Operation Moses, the airlift from November 21, 1984 to January 5, 1985 that brought some 8,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Zevadia previously served at Israel’s consulates in Houston and Chicago. (Jerusalem Post, February 28.)


CANADIAN MINISTER SUPPORTS ISRAELI-OWNED STORE—(Jerusalem) Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, has visited Lavan, a store in Vancouver which has been the target of anti-Israel demonstrators. Local pro-Arab groups have called for a boycott of the cosmetics store due to its sale of beauty products made in Israel’s Dead Sea. During his stop at Lavan, Kenney expressed the support of the Canadian government, and purchased a few products. Minister Kenney, along with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is known for his staunch support for Israel. (Israel National News, February 24.)

COMMUNITY COLLOQUIUM: Syria, Egypt and the “Arab Spring”: Israel’s Security Situation

Canadian Institute For Jewish Research 
& Congregation Shomrim Laboker


Cordially Invite you to a COMMUNITY COLLOQUIUM


Syria, Egypt and the “Arab Spring”: Israel’s Security Situation




Prof. Frederick Krantz, Chair (Concordia University),
Prof. Harold Waller (McGill University),
Prof. Norrin Ripsman (Concordia University)


Sunday, March 4, 2012 at 9:30 a.m.

Congregation Shomrim Laboker, 5150 Plamondon Ave., Montreal

General Admission: $10; Seniors: $5; Students & Shomrim Laboker members: Free

RSVP: 514-486-5544;

Breakfast will be served @ 8:30 a.m.

Posted in Uncategorized


Jonathan Kay

National Post, February 25, 2012

In Syria, the Assad regime continues to rain artillery on rebel positions in the city of Homs, killing journalists and innocent civilians alike. Iran’s mullahs are set to execute a Canadian citizen for the crime of operating a web site they don’t like. The new Libyan regime is torturing Gaddafi loyalists. And Egypt’s rulers are prosecuting NGO leaders on trumped-up charges. And so next week, Canadian left-wing activists will congregate in Toronto to express their hatred of…you guessed it: Israel.

The events of March 5-9 will take place as part of the 8th annual Israel Apartheid Week (IAW), and will feature presentations such as “Cutting the Ties to Israeli Apartheid: Cultural and Academic Boycott,” and “Rhymes Of Resistance And The Sounds Of Existence—with poets Remi Kanazi, Red Slam and Chand-nee.” The IAW website is full of the usual rhetoric about Israel’s “criminal” actions. There is not a word of acknowledgement about how utterly ridiculous it is to run a week-long event vilifying Israel when right next door in Syria, the government has just exterminated more Arabs than were killed in both Intifidas, the 2008 Gaza conflict, and the 2006 Lebanon war combined.

The timing of IAW this year truly does represent something of a farce. The eyes of the entire world are focused on Syria and the Strait of Hormuz. Even West Bank Palestinians themselves now seem more concerned with building up their economy than with grand international gestures aimed at the Jewish state.… In the streets of Cairo, Sana’a and Tunis, no one is talking about Israel—only about when they will get the democracy they were promised. Only among cultish, single-minded anti-Israel activists has the news of the Arab Spring failed to circulate.

The word “cultish” is used here advisedly—because even some veteran anti-Israel activists are getting tired of the false mantras that circulate at IAW events. This includes no less an anti-Zionist than Norman Finkelstein (who has called Israel a “vandal state” that “relentlessly and brutally and inhumanly keeps these vicious, murderous wars”). Speaking to an interviewer earlier this month, he attacked the animating philosophy behind IAW—the movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel (BDS)—as a “cult,” and an unsuccessful one at that.…

“All [the BDS] claims about ‘victories’ [against Israel]: These 10 fingers more than suffice to count their victories,” Mr. Finkelstein said this month. [According] to Finkelstein…“We have to be honest: They [BDS activists] don’t want Israel. They think they’re being clever. They call it their three tiers. ‘We want to end of the occupation,’ ‘We want the right of return [for Palestinian refugees],’ ‘And we want equal rights for Arab citizens.’ But they know the result of implementing all three is—what? You and I both know: There’s no Israel.…”

[Everyone] should understand that IAW and BDS are not what they seem: As some of Israel’s own fiercest critics themselves now admit, these are dishonest cults meant to enlist ill-informed activists in a campaign to destroy the Jewish state.

Zvi Mazel

Jerusalem Post, January 27, 2012

Western countries, it appears, deluded themselves about the so-called Arab Spring and the compatibility of Islam and democracy.

Since Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979, it has received $70 billion from the United States in military and civilian grants. Civilian grants were intended to help improve education, infrastructure and develop the economy, as well as further democracy. Grants to the army were meant to ensure the stability of the country and help Egypt sustain its role as a leader of the Arab world against Iran and terror organizations.

Hundreds of modern F-16 planes, Abrams tanks and other state-of-the-art materiel replaced outdated Soviet-era equipment. Joint exercises were held; thousands of officers were sent to the US for advanced training, in the hope that they would discover and appreciate the merits of democracy.

During the long rule of Hosni Mubarak the army was often called “the silent partner.” Generals did not try to interfere in the ruling of the country, though they quietly started taking over greater and greater segments of the economy. First military industries then industrial and trade companies; the army now holds about one third of the economy.…

Army leaders were careful not to let Islamist militants into their ranks. They remembered only too well the Sadat assassination, carried out in 1981 by a member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad movement during a military parade. Mubarak, who had survived that day, was convinced that by favoring his generals and letting them enrich themselves he would ensure their continuing loyalty and support.

Yet it took only one week of violent street demonstrations in Cairo for America to abandon its ally of 43 years and for President Barack Obama to tell Mubarak to go. Obama probably thought that freed of the chains of dictatorship, a new regime would turn to democracy and strengthen its ties with America. It was a very bad miscalculation.

There was an outpouring of hatred towards the United States; worse, extremist Islamic parties won 75 percent of the seats of the new parliament. The Muslim Brotherhood…defeated democracy by knock-out.

What now? America watches impotently as the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF)…accused the American University of Cairo, situated not far from Tahrir Square, of fomenting troubles.… The generals may have been trying to deflect criticism in a time-honored Egyptian manner by throwing the blame on another—and America made a convenient scapegoat.

Then came the December raid on 17 NGOs, including well known American civil organizations. Documents were seized, offices closed in what was seen as a deliberate provocation against America.… Though Egypt insists that it is a purely legal issue and that the organizations did not have the necessary permits to operate…it is not a satisfactory explanation: instead of launching the raids with no advance warning, why not first warn the United States that if the organizations did not register within a given number of days or weeks, sanctions would be taken? In the meantime 43 NGO employees, including 19 American citizens, are being prevented from leaving the country.…

The SCAF appears unfazed by the turn of events, as if it has come to the conclusion that channeling against the hated Americans the frustration of increasingly disillusioned masses who have yet to see some positive results of the revolution is a sound political move. Both the Muslim Brothers and the Salafists, who view American democracy as their most dangerous enemy, support them. When Congress threatened to cut off aid, public opinion polls showed that 71% of the Egyptians declared that Egypt did not need that money and that they could get the same amount from Arab states, a position which was backed by Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri as well as by the head of Al-Azhar University.

However, and at the same time, Issam Alarian, one of the leaders of the Brotherhood, warned that should the Americans stop their aid, it would lead to a review of the peace treaty with Israel.…

What happened to the much touted friendship between American top brass and their Egyptian counterparts? What about a little gratitude for the considerable sums poured into Egypt to help the country’s development and the modernization?…

To sum up: far from leading to greater openness and democracy, the ouster of Mubarak has led to brutal oppression and an open rift with the United States.… As for the Muslim Brothers,…they see in democratic America a major stumbling block on the road to setting up an Islamic regime in Egypt and doing away with the peace treaty with Israel.

Barry Rubin

Jerusalem Post, February 5, 2012

Dear readers, I’d like to share a secret. Every day I read articles, or some form of writing, by people who claim to be experts on the Middle East. I have read them on land; I have read them at sea; I have read them in the air. And they will never surrender to reality. Here are the two main causes of error:

1. They think the Middle East is just like the West, so they can extrapolate from their own experience. When someone say[s], “If I were Yasser Arafat, I’d…” my response [is always]: You are not Arafat or [Ayatollah] Khomeini or Saddam Hussein or whatever, and unless you have some understanding of how they actually think—and not your own Western idea of what they should think—there’s no sense in discussing it.

2. They think the Middle East is just what they’d like it to be. Peace? Easy. They have a plan. My response: I’d love to hear your plan but I’m all booked up to hear Middle East peace plans for the next three years. I’ll put you on the waiting list and get back to you.

By the same token, they sometimes lie to make things seem better. You can’t criticize the Palestinian Authority—or the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Turkish regime, etc.—even by telling the truth about them, because that would damage the cause of “peace.” They don’t understand that not telling the truth is the best way to undermine any chance for peace, or any understanding of why there is no peace.

The Middle East is so strange in Western terms, so different, that unless you are really aware of those differences, please pick something else to be an expert on. And that brings me to a case in point that I have before me right now.

The Wafd is a “liberal,” “moderate” Egyptian party, right? It is the biggest non-Islamist party in Egypt’s parliament with 7.6 percent (pretty pitiful, huh?) of the seats. So if you are a Western reporter, policymaker, or “expert” you would say that it is one of the great hopes—perhaps the greatest—for moderate, liberal Egyptian democracy, right?…

But how many “liberal,” “moderate” parties have had: A deadly shoot-out between two factions over control of their headquarters; An alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood—which might be renewed; A deputy leader who explains that September 11 was a US-Zionist plot, the Holocaust never happened, and Anne Frank was a phony?

And now this article, courtesy of the party’s official newspaper, appearing on January 27, 2012.… In brief, the article charges that a small US Navy Medical Research Unit in Cairo that conducts research on tropical and Third World diseases is in fact engaged in plotting to send “Medicines, pesticides, food products and seeds [to Egypt], after these have been dangerously tampered with, so as to harm the Egyptians’ health.… [These are] biological weapons, which, if deployed, could exterminate the entire Egyptian nation, or any other nation.…” It goes on to suggest that various disease epidemics in Egypt were caused by the United States and charges that the US “sees the Egyptian children as an opportunity to test new medicines…causing increases in infertility, mental retardation and disability among Egyptians born in recent years.…” And all this is done “in accordance with America’s will, which has Israel standing forcefully behind it.…”

This one article is a rich source of knowledge about Egypt and the Arabic-speaking world, not so much in terms of health issues but in terms of political and intellectual structures. Of course, there are the common conspiracy theories and the idea that the Zionists are everywhere, but that’s only the beginning of the issue. Don’t be fooled into thinking that conspiracy theories are silly, funny, archaic ideas that don’t mean anything precisely because they are inaccurate.

Here are some of the implications: 1. An American attempt to help Egypt is portrayed as a harmful and aggressive activity; 2. The priority for the nation is to fight foreign conspiracies, not to fix domestic shortcomings; 3. Since internal problems are blamed on outsiders they are thus made impossible to solve. Science and modernity are viewed not as solutions but with suspicion, as attempts to destroy one’s own society through imperialist takeover, social transformation, and atheism.…; 4. If Americans are so evil then it makes sense for people to become terrorists and to slay or drive out the horrible villains.…

Together these four symptoms block progress, inflame hatred and extremism and produce conflict. This is a common pattern in the Middle East whether aimed against Israel, the United States, or the West in general.…

So, in short, the Islamists are not “moderate,” and many of the alleged moderates are not moderate. Hence, the hopes for moderation and real democracy is limited by the small numbers of those who hold them. We were told not so long ago that the young, social-media using kids who made Egypt’s revolution would dominate the country thereafter. Question: What percentage of the vote in parliamentary elections did the young, social-media using kids who made Egypt’s revolution get? Answer: 1.3 percent.

(Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research and International Affairs (GLORIA) Center.)

National Interest

Bruce Riedel, February 10, 2012

In the year since Hosni Mubarak was toppled, most of our attention has rightly been focused on Cairo and the Nile heartland of Egypt.… But there have also been important developments in Egypt’s eastern frontier, the Sinai Peninsula bordering Israel.

The Sinai has long been at odds with Cairo. The Bedouin population that lives in the arid and forbidding desert has long felt neglected by the government in Cairo and ignored by the Egyptian mainstream. Smuggling and crime are rampant among the tribes. Several acts of terror against Western and Israeli tourists along the Gulf of Aqaba in the last decade were blamed on the Bedouin.…

During the revolution last February, police stations in the Sinai were abandoned or attacked and looted by disaffected Bedouins. A shadowy new organization emerged that went by several different titles, including al-Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula and Ansar al-Jihad. It took credit for attacks on the Egypt-Israel natural-gas pipeline that crosses the Sinai.

At the end of July, dozens of armed men attacked the police station in El Arish, the capital of the peninsula. In the wake of this attack, pamphlets were circulated announcing a “Statement from al-Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula.” The statement called for creating an Islamic emirate in the Sinai, implementing sharia law, breaking the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, halting discrimination against the Sinai’s Bedouin tribes and demanding Egyptian military intervention on behalf of the Hamas regime in Gaza. The mix of global jihadist demands with local Bedouin grievances suggested the long-repressed Bedouin population of the Sinai had been radicalized by al-Qaeda activists or at least sympathizers. A video surfaced soon after repeating the demands.

In response to the violence and chaos, the Egyptian military sent a couple thousand more troops and police into the Sinai to restore order, at least in El Arish. Under the terms of the 1979 peace treaty, Egyptian military forces in the peninsula are limited in numbers and equipment, so Cairo had to get Israeli approval for the troop deployment.

None of al-Qaeda’s official media outlets has recognized the jihadists in the Sinai as a formal branch of al-Qaeda. And yet Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian who has replaced Osama bin Laden as emir of al-Qaeda, has publicly congratulated those jihadists who blew up the pipeline and has called for more attacks on Israeli targets in his audio commentaries on the Egyptian Revolution. Many Zawahiri supporters are among those released in the jailbreaks in Egypt last year, and he has long tried to rebuild the infrastructure of the terror underground he led in Egypt in the 1990s.…

Now the group in the Sinai using the name Ansar al-Jihad has formally pledged its loyalty to Zawahiri and recognized him as the legitimate successor to bin Laden. It released a message in late January to Zawahiri supporting him as the leader of their jihad. This month, the group attacked the Egyptian-Israeli natural-gas pipeline for the twelfth time since the revolution.

For Israel, the chaos in the Sinai means the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and intelligence community must reorient scarce resources to the South. For the last few decades, the Sinai was quiet and the border peaceful. That changed last year with a major Palestinian terror attack on the border and the mob sacking of Israel’s embassy in Cairo. The IDF is already building up its capabilities in the Negev adjacent to the Sinai and must strengthen its intelligence resources devoted to Egypt as a whole and the Sinai in particular.

The Sinai is the land bridge between Africa and Asia; it is also the gateway to Gaza and Israel from Egypt.… For Zawahiri and al-Qaeda, the emergence of a sympathetic jihadist infrastructure in Sinai would be a strategic gain in a pivotal arena. Even a relatively small number of terrorists hiding in the remote mountains of the central Sinai would be a dangerous threat to the stability of the region. They could target the pipeline, the border, tourists at Sharm el-Shaykh and even American troops serving with the twelve-nation-strong Multinational Force Organization that is charged with monitoring the peace agreement in Sinai. If al-Qaeda can open a new front here, it will be a danger to peace and stability in the region as a whole.…


Rick Richman

Commentary, February 2012

The following is a review of Condoleezza Rice’s No Higher Honor:
A Memoir Of My Years In Washington (Crown Publishers, 766 pages.)

…Condoleezza Rice’s memoir of her service as national-security adviser and secretary of state…covers a decade, starting in 1999 when she joined George W. Bush’s presidential campaign as foreign-affairs adviser.

She has written a straightforward chronological account, providing a great deal of detail but relatively little reflection on the lessons of her experience. The lessons she does draw and that one can draw about her tenure are worth noting, however, particularly on the issue that appears to have been the most important to her personally, to which she devoted most of her last two years as secretary of state and nine chapters (and parts of others) in this book: the Middle East peace process.…

Once Rice became secretary of state, she was no longer simply a broker, but a player. She knew it would mean a different relationship with the president…and a different institutional role, and she decided that before accepting the appointment, she needed to talk with him “as directly as we ever had.” She wanted him to confirm her primacy in foreign policy, and she raised “the one substantive issue that was on my mind.” “Mr. President,” she said, “we need to get an agreement and establish a Palestinian state.” Bush told her, “We’ll get it done.”

The story of how they failed to get it done is an important part of Rice’s book and a fair standard by which to judge her service, since she made a Palestinian state her priority. In 2001, the Bush administration inherited a new Palestinian terror war that began after the Palestinians rejected a state at Camp David. Rice writes that the conflict “dominated our security agenda” in the spring of 2001, as the administration sought to “avoid all-out conflagration in the region” and to develop a new approach to the conflict—one that “relied much more on fundamental change among Palestinians as the key to peace.”

Bush had decided the focus would henceforth not be simply on the contours of a Palestinian state but rather on, in Rice’s words, “what the nature of the Palestinian state would be.” He believed Palestinians needed to establish institutions to end terrorism, govern democratically, and act responsibly toward Israel before they would be ready for a state. Rice describes Bush as frustrated with the “indirect language” of the peace process—he wanted U.S. goals stated clearly.

That led to a 2002 speech in which Bush endorsed a Palestinian state, but conditioned U.S. support on the creation of a “practicing democracy.” Rice recounts that all hell broke loose in the Arab world after the speech, as Arab states failed to credit Bush for committing the U.S. to a Palestinian state and instead engulfed him in criticism for attaching his condition. The experience taught Rice an “important lesson”: “Whatever you do for peace in the Middle East, it is never enough for the Arab parties.”

Then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stunned Rice in 2004 by informing her he was considering a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza if he could get assurances that Israel would retain the largest West Bank settlement blocs. Rice led negotiations to provide the necessary assurances, with her deputies Stephen Hadley and Elliott Abrams going to Israel for long sessions with Sharon, leading to a 2004 Bush letter about accommodating the “already existing major Israeli population centers.” Rice spent three hours with Sharon going over the letter the night before it was issued, and she acknowledges an informal agreement to apply a “Google Earth test” for settlements: no new ones or building outward from existing ones. This effectively permitted construction within settlement blocs that Israel would keep in a peace agreement, without diminishing the land area available for a Palestinian state.

Israel thereafter withdrew from Gaza. Within 18 months, Hamas won control of the Palestinian legislature, took over Gaza in a bloody coup, and escalated its rocket war against Israel. The Palestinians had failed to dismantle terrorist groups; half the putative state was in the hands of terrorists; no institutions of democracy had been built (the Palestinian president had run essentially unopposed in 2005 in a rapid election held six weeks after Arafat’s death, and the Palestinian legislature no longer functioned).

Rice nevertheless decided this was the time for an international conference to launch final-status negotiations on the shape and size of a Palestinian state (Bush was “immediately skeptical”). She faced what she described as a “sticky sequencing problem” in the so-called Road Map to which Bush had committed the United States in his 2004 letter. As she writes: “The original Road Map had a strict three-phase structure. Political negotiations were not to begin until the third phase, when the Palestinians would, in effect, have created all their institutions and defeated the terrorists. That had been a key element in Sharon’s acceptance of the document.”

Rice proposed to take the “original” Road Map and “accelerate” it. She “rearranged the sequence” to move straight to Phase III, converting what had been a principled policy into a euphemistic repetition of the past: Once again the focus was on the contours of a Palestinian state, not on the precondition Bush had set in 2002. The Road Map had not been “accelerated” but disregarded.

Rice’s summary of her efforts to convene a discussion to lay out this new approach is a small classic of unintended diplomatic humor. She thought the time was “particularly propitious” to launch negotiations on “all the big issues,” but it took a long time simply to resolve whether to call the event a “conference” or a “meeting” and to frame an invitation. Bush announced what Rice calls a “conference, meeting, whatever” without a date or location.

Then Rice found that, after years of “begging for a peace conference, the Arabs suddenly had all kinds of reservations, worries, and demands.” She had to go to the Middle East four times to urge them to participate, finding herself “flabbergasted at the seeming lack of enthusiasm.” (Three hundred pages earlier, she had described her inability to get wealthy Arab states to increase financial support for the Palestinian Authority as “my first lesson in how stingy the Arabs could be toward the Palestinian cause that they so zealously championed”).

Ten days before the “whatever” was to convene in Annapolis, “we didn’t have agreement on who would come or what the invitation would say.” She made more than 20 phone calls to Arab countries and finally persuaded them to attend last-minute negotiations.… Rice concludes her chapter on “The Road to Annapolis” with this sentence: “We were ready for the international meeting, which, by the way, had come to be called a conference after all.”

It was a triumph of indirect language: The Road Map had been “accelerated” to discuss “core issues” (the new term for “final-status issues”), which would be resolved but supposedly not “implemented” until the Palestinians met the conditions they had already demonstrated neither the will nor ability to meet. This was to be done with a kickoff meeting elevated to a “conference” to give it an unearned credibility.

Two days before the Annapolis conference convened, there was still no agreement about what the president would announce at it, and his statement was finalized only 10 minutes before it began. The reader cannot help recall one of Rice’s lessons from 400 pages earlier: “Only a fool goes to an important meeting in which the President will be involved without an agreed text.” The Annapolis statement announced that the parties had agreed to agree and had set a one-year deadline for agreement.

At the end of 2007, Rice told Bush she was looking forward to the final year to “tie up a lot of loose ends and maybe—just maybe—declare the creation of a Palestinian state.” The loose ends of Iran and North Korea never got tied up, but Rice stepped up her push for a Palestinian state, traveling to the Middle East monthly, and sometimes even more frequently. In mid-2008, she dined alone with [then-Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert, who presented to her a “remarkable,” “extraordinary,” “unbelievable” proposal: He would offer Abbas 94 percent of the West Bank, with land swaps for the rest, a capital in East Jerusalem, and joint control of the holy sites. He conveyed the offer personally to Abbas in September, but Abbas never returned to discuss it.

In December, Bush met with Abbas alone in the Oval Office and “appealed to him to reconsider,” but Abbas “stood firm, and the idea died.…”

Rice concludes that “in the end, the Palestinians walked away.” The administration ended up without a Palestinian state, much less the practicing democracy that had once been the U.S. precondition for one. As Rice left office, there was an unelected Palestinian entity in the West Bank and a new tyranny in Gaza—and after three years of rocket attacks, Israel had found it necessary to go to war there against Hamas. Rice’s insistence to Bush that “we need to get an agreement and establish a Palestinian state,” with an end run around the Road Map, led to a tenure as secretary of state most remarkable for its pointlessness.

Barak Ravid

Haaretz, February 19, 2012

Three weeks after the end of the talks that took place between Israel and the Palestinians in Amman under the patronage of the King of Jordan, Israeli officials revealed their version of the events, laying the blame for the failure of the talks on Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.…

The five rounds of talks in Amman were the result of international pressure placed on Abbas [in response to his attempt to obtain a unilateral declaration of statehood at the UN] and immediately after his speech to the General Assembly on September 23, 2011. On that same day, the members of the Quartet—the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations—declared a new outline for talks and called on both sides to respond positively.

After a few weeks, both Israel and the Palestinians responded to the request with a “yes, but…” with both sides presenting a list of reservations. A month after the assembly, delegations from the Quartet arrived [in the Middle East] for first-round talks with Israeli and Palestinian representatives.

According to a top Israeli official, on the day of the meeting, the prime minister’s envoy, Isaac Molho, arrived at the hotel and entered the meeting room only to discover that his Palestinian counterpart, Saeb Erekat, did not make it to the meeting. Mohammad Shtayyeh, a member of Fatah’s central committee was sent in his stead. The Palestinian side did not agree to sit with Molho in the same room, and the envoys were resigned to hopping between different rooms in the hotel in order to hold discussions between the two sides.…

For over a month, the Quarter envoys attempted to bring the Palestinians to the negotiation room, but only when King Abdullah II began to apply pressure did things begin to move. The king came to Ramallah on a rare trip and pressured Mahmoud Abbas. Finally, on January 3, the Jordanians were able to bring together Erekat and Molho in Jordan’s Foreign Ministry in Amman.

First meeting: The blame game

A senior Israeli official said that the January 3 meeting began in a wider forum where Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian officials were present, as well representatives of all the Quarter members. While speaking in front of no less than 20 people, Saeb Erekat pulled out two documents: one on the Palestinian position regarding borders, and one on the Palestinian position regarding security.… On the topic of borders, the Palestinians called for a return to 1967 borders with an acceptance of land-swaps of 1.9% of the West Bank. On the topic of security, the Palestinians agreed to a demilitarized state (devoid of heavy weaponry), and the stationing of an international force on the border between Israel and Jordan, with no presence of Israeli soldiers.

After the meeting in the general forum, the sides moved to a smaller meeting with only Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian representatives alone. According to the Israeli official, the Palestinians immediately demanded a freeze on settlement building, freeing prisoners and emphasized that from their point of view, the talks would end on January 26 as that was the date that the Quartet set for negotiations on the subject of borders and security.

The Israeli delegation was surprised by the announcement. “We had just begun and you are already threatening to end the talks,” said Molho to Erekat. The Israeli side emphasized to the Palestinians that the talks are only in their beginning stages and that with such a short timeframe it is impossible to hold serious negotiations. At that same meeting, Molho presented a 21-point document that included all the topics Israel is interested in discussing during the talks, including borders, Jerusalem, settlements, security arrangements, Palestinian incitement and more.… The meeting produced very little progress, except for the fact that the two sides agreed to decide on another two meetings that would take place during January.

Second Meeting: Molho asks for clarification

On January 9, a second meeting took place between Molho and Erekat, this time in a smaller forum. Present alongside the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams was Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh and his top adviser. Molho, who went over the documents presented by the Palestinians during the previous meeting, passed along a document with 19 requests for clarification regarding the Palestinians’ positions.

One of Molho’s questions was about the future of the settlements in the Palestinian state. Would they be evacuated or would they be allowed to remain?… “Erekat told us that he prefers not to respond to the question, and until this day we have not received an answer,” said a top Israeli official. Another question brought up by Molho to Erekat had to do with the PA’s relationship to Hamas and the situation in the Gaza Strip. Erekat responded that the Palestinian state will be “a strong democracy,” and blamed Israel for Hamas’ takeover of Gaza.

Molho further asked whether the position on borders was final. The top Israeli official claimed that among the Palestinian delegation there were contradictory positions on the issue. “On the one hand, Erekat told us that the documents are not the Quran and are not holy. On the other hand, Mohammad Shatyyeh told us that the Palestinians had already made their compromise and that a land swap of 1.9% is the maximum they are willing to give,” he said. “In the end, the Palestinian proposals were a step backward from the more progressive positions that they presented in Annapolis.”

Fourth meeting: Israeli general sits outside the room

A third meeting between the two sides took place on January 14, but did not produce any results. During a meeting on January 18, the Israeli delegation brought with it the Head of the Strategic Planning Division in the IDF Planning Directorate, Brigadier-General Assaf Orion in order to summarize Israel’s position on security arrangements. The Palestinians refused to allow him to speak. “We came to the meeting place and were delayed for an hour and a half because the Palestinians were not willing to hear the Israeli general. They said that they are not willing to hear a military person speak,” said the Israeli official.

When both sides finally entered the room, Erekat handed Molho a letter that demanded the release of Hamas member and Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council Aziz Duwaik, who was arrested a few days earlier. A few hours later, the contents of the letter were leaked to the Palestinian media.

The Israeli side also presented documents to the Palestinians, including one on incitement against Israel in the Palestinian media. The document contained quotes from the Mufti of Jerusalem that called for the killing of Jews. Erekat rejected the claims. “The accusations are wrong, and in the end you will have to apologize for this slander,” said Erekat to Molho.

In the meeting that took place afterwards, the Palestinians had understood that they had a problem on their hands, and suggested organizing a joint committee that would deal with the issue of incitement. Head of Israel’s National Information Directorate Yoaz Hendel, who participated in the meeting, told Erekat that instead of organizing a committee, they themselves can take care of the issue of incitement.

Fifth meeting: Molho presents Netanyahu’s proposal on borders

On January 25, a day before the date which the Palestinians threatened to walk out on the talks, the final round of talks took place between the sides. During the discussions, Molho presented Netanyahu’s proposal on the borders of the Palestinian state. Molho presented several principles:

1. The border will be drawn in a way that will include the maximum amount of Israelis living in the West Bank, and the minimum amount of Palestinians.

2. Israel will annex the large settlement blocs, without defining what exactly is considered a ‘bloc,’ nor defining its size.

3. It is necessary to first solve the problem of borders and security in relation to Judea and Samaria, and only afterwards move to discuss the topic of Jerusalem which is far more complicated.

4. Israel will maintain a presence in the Jordan Valley for a period of time. Molho did not mention how long nor what kind of presence.

During the meeting, Erekat asked for clarification regarding the Jordan Valley. Molho referred him to Netanyahu’s speech to the opening session of the Knesset, as well as to that in front of Congress in May 2011. In both speeches, Netanyahu spoke of a “military presence along the Jordan River,” yet he did not demand that Israel maintain sovereignty over the valley. “And if we refuse?” Erekat asked. Molho responded: “You would prefer that we annex the valley?”

Molho did not mention the exact size of the territory from which Israel will withdraw, but according to the principles he presented, it seems that it is similar, if not identical to that which was presented by Tzipi Livni during the negotiations that took place in 2008 after the Annapolis Conference. And although Netanyahu does not admit it, the meaning behind the principles Molho presented is a withdrawal that will cause Israel to give up 90% of its sovereignty.…

Erekat, who understood the principles, asked at the end of the meetings for a series of clarifications: whether Israel accepts the 1967 borders as a basic tenet upon which the two sides can negotiation, whether Israel accepts the principle of territory swaps, how many percentages of the West Bank is Israel interested in annexing, whether Israel has a map with border proposals, whether Israel is willing to evacuate settlements, etc.

“I’d be happy to answer all these questions in the next meeting,” said Molho to Erekat. But the next meeting never took place. A day later, the Palestinians said that they will not resume talks unless Israel freezes settlement building and accepts the principle of 1967 borders.

Israeli officials: Abbas ran away once again

Israelis are now admitting that the talks have come to an end and their renewal is not expected anytime soon, especially in light of the recent reconciliation between Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshal in Doha. Up until two weeks ago, Netanyahu had discussed a series of goodwill gestures toward the Palestinians with Tony Blair and the Americans, in order to enable the renewal of the talks. However, the [agreement] between Abbas and Meshal caused the Israelis to take the offer off the table.

In a briefing to journalists in Jerusalem, Israeli officials blamed the freeze in the talks on Abbas. “For the past three weeks, Abbas has run away from negotiations, and has done the same regarding the talks in Amman,” said a top Israeli official. “We had the willingness to make gestures and we presented a full package, but the Palestinians simply did not want it. More and more international bodies understand that we were not the ones that thwarted the talks. You can see it from the silence on the part of the Jordanians. They did not blame Israel in any way.…”

What now? Officials in Jerusalem are waiting to see which path Abbas will take: reconciliation with Hamas,…a return to the United Nations or, in a more optimistic scenario, a willingness to return to talks with Israel. “It is unclear what the Palestinians will choose, but we believe they will return to their campaign in the United Nations within a few weeks,” said the Israeli official.…


Ben Cohen

Commentary, February 2012

A blurb on a book jacket would seem an unlikely vehicle for the introduction of a new and sinister tactic in the promotion of an ancient prejudice. But in September 2011, a word of appreciation on the cover of The Wandering Who launched a fresh chapter in the modern history of anti-Semitism. And when the dust had settled…on the events surrounding the blurb, it had become horrifyingly clear that the role of defining the meaning of the term anti-Semitism did not belong to the Jews. It may, in fact, belong to anti-Semites.

The flattering quotation came from John Mearsheimer, the University of Chicago professor and co-author, with Harvard’s Stephen Walt, of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. Mearsheimer’s 2007 bestseller, which contends that Israel’s American supporters are powerful enough to subvert the U.S. national interest, has been controversial for its adoption of anti-Semitic tropes—tropes Mearsheimer danced around cleverly. But in endorsing The Wandering Who and its Israeli-born author, Gilad Atzmon, Mearsheimer crossed the boundary.

The man whose book Mearsheimer called “fascinating and provocative,” a work that “should be widely read by Jews and non-Jews alike,” is an anti-Semite, pure and simple.… Atzmon was born and raised in Israel but subsequently moved to London. He proclaims himself either an “ex-Jew” or a “proud self-hating Jew.…”

Atzmon fixates upon the irredeemably tribal and racist identity he calls “Jewishness.” The anti-Gentile separatism that compels Jews to amass greater power and influence is manifested, he preaches, in any context where Jews come together as a group. The Wandering Who finds Atzmon on territory well-trodden by anti-Semites past and present: Holocaust revisionism (one chapter is entitled “Swindler’s List”), the rehabilitation of Hitler (he argues that Israel’s behavior makes all the more tempting the conclusion that the Führer was right about the Jews), the separation of Jesus from Judaism (Christ was the original proud, self-hating Jew, whose example Spinoza, Marx, and now, Atzmon himself, have followed).

One would think this was categorically indefensible stuff. Yet, when the blogger Adam Holland emailed Mearsheimer to ask whether he was aware of Atzmon’s flirtation with Holocaust denial, as well as his recital of telltale anti-Semitic provocations, Mearsheimer stood by his endorsement of the book.… A number of prominent commentators…rushed to confront and condemn the professor, but Mearsheimer maintained in various blog posts that Atzmon was no anti-Semite and those who said otherwise were guilty of vicious smear jobs.… And that was that. No affaire Mearsheimer unfolded.

The fact that a controversy did not erupt, that the endorsement of a Holocaust revisionist by a prominent professor at a major university did not lead to calls for his dismissal or resignation or even a chin-pulling symposium in the pages of the New York Times’s “Sunday Review,” represents an important shift in the privileges that anti-Semites and their sympathizers enjoy. Now, it appears, anti-Semites are being given additional power to define anti-Semitism by stating that it is something other than what they themselves represent—before rising in moral outrage to denounce anyone who might say different. Their views are not offensive, not anti-Semitic; no, it is the opinions of those who object to their views that should be considered beyond the pale.

This is more than a change in the dynamics of anti-Semitism; it is an inversion of the accepted logic of minorities and bigots altogether. Unlike blacks, Muslims, Hispanics, or any other religious or ethnic group, Jews alone are now to be told by their enemies who does and who does not hate them.…

With this understanding, we can better appreciate a rare modification in the nature of anti-Semitism in our own time (I say rare, because, as a framework for interpreting the world, anti-Semitism resists innovation).… The modification rests upon a distinction between what I call bierkeller and bistro anti-Semitism. Bierkeller anti-Semitism—named for the beer halls frequented by the German Nazis—employs such means as violence, verbal abuse, commercial harassment, and advocacy of anti-Jewish legal measures. Certainly, the first and second generations of modern anti-Semitic publicists and intellectuals had no qualms about this sort of thuggery. Since the Second World War, though, this mode of anti-Semitism has waned sharply.…

Bistro anti-Semitism, on the other hand, sits in a higher and outwardly more civilized realm, providing…a “safe space” to critically assess the global impact of Jewish cabals from Washington, D.C., to Jerusalem. Anyone who enters the bistro will encounter common themes. These include the depiction of Palestinians as the victims of a second Holocaust, the breaking of the silence supposedly imposed upon honest discussions of Jewish political and economic power, and the contention—offered by, among others, Mearsheimer’s co-author, Stephen Walt, of Harvard—that American Jewish government officials are more suspect than others because of a potential second loyalty to Israel. To this list we can now add the assault upon what Atzmon calls the “Holocaust narrative.” This type of revisionism doesn’t deny that the Nazis killed Jews, but it redistributes a good deal of the blame among the victims. Additionally, it disputes the conclusion of mainstream Holocaust historians that total elimination was the goal of the Third Reich’s Jewish policy.

All in all, then, the bistro satisfies admirably: Its denizens can confront the cabals of Jewish power unencumbered by the vulgar anti-Semite label, and, freed from the Judeo-centrism the word Holocaust reinforces, they can also reevaluate the experience of Jews under Nazi rule.…

The truth, [however], is that the rising fixation with Jewish power in our time has unwittingly revealed Jewish emasculation instead. Jews do not control the discourse; rather, the discourse controls them. Nonetheless, if we accept that anti-Semitism has, by exchanging violence for discourse, also been emasculated, does its persistence matter, particularly during a period of history that stands out through the presence of a Jewish state and the absence of anti-Semitic legislation in nearly all countries Jews live?

That question can be posed in another way: Do we need to sink to the depths of the 1930s in order for anti-Semitism to be taken seriously? Furthermore, we must ask, do Jews need to be subjected to acts of violence and discrimination in order to remind the wider world who the true victims of anti-Semitism are? And even then, can we be confident that the blame for physical manifestations of anti-Semitism will be placed upon the anti-Semites and not the Jews?

The answer, judged on today’s trends, is sadly negative. The anti-Semite who avoids violence has no reservations about enabling, excusing, and rationalizing it. Israel, the supreme embodiment of Jewishness, would ultimately be held culpable for a pogrom in Istanbul, or, for that matter, in Tehran or Caracas, in which the protagonists carried signs and chanted slogans about the suffering of the Palestinians. By the same token, should the Holocaust-deniers and conspiracy theorists massed along Israel’s borders launch a war of extermination against it, we can be assured that this same theory of culpability would be articulated even more brazenly.

Since the Holocaust, Jewish communities have mistakenly concluded that the relative absence of anti-Semitism reflects a greater awareness that anti-Semitism, as understood and experienced by Jews themselves, is a grave social ill. There is no basis to think that anymore. As long as the adversaries and enemies of the Jews control the meaning of the term anti-Semitism, Jews will remain vulnerable to that most sacred of anti-Semitic calumnies: that they alone are the authors of their own misfortune.

(For the full version of this article, please see the ‘On Topics’ section below—Ed.)

(PANTHEON BOOKS, 1978, 260 PP.)

Michael C. Kotzin
New Republic, February 14, 2012

In 1946, I.F. Stone, the celebrated left-wing journalist, became the first American reporter to travel with Jewish “displaced persons” (DPs) in Europe who were attempting to enter British Mandatory Palestine. With the British deeming such immigration illegal, the trip was perilous for these Holocaust survivors. Published first as a series of newspaper articles and then in book form as Underground to Palestine, Stone’s recounting of his experiences is moving and dramatic in its descriptions of the painful fate that had been suffered by the people he joined, and of their subsequent resilience. Well worth reading today, the book offers a powerful eyewitness narrative in the period leading up to the establishment of the state of Israel. It is a narrative that shatters basic premises endorsed by people who today share Stone’s political leanings but reject the legitimacy of Israel as the Jewish State.

Stone opened the book this way: “This is a story of personal adventure. I was the first newspaperman to travel the Jewish underground in Europe and to arrive in Palestine on a so-called illegal boat. But this is more than the narrative of a journalistic escapade. I am an American and I am also and inescapably—the world being what it is—a Jew. I was born in the United States. My parents were born in Russia. Had they not emigrated at the turn of the century to America, I might have gone to the gas chambers in Eastern Europe. I might have been a DP, ragged and homeless like those with whom I traveled. I did not go to join them as a tourist in search of the picturesque, nor even as a newspaperman merely in search of a good story, but as a kinsman, fulfilling a moral obligation to my brothers.…”

Reflecting on the conditions that the DPs confronted, Stone quickly concluded that there was no way that the Europe they were attempting to leave was a place where they might successfully rebuild their lives. Their families had been decimated; their homes had been destroyed; and the anti-Semitic hatred that drove the Holocaust remained widespread.… Traveling with the DPs, he made clear that for him, as for those he was with, Zionist logic had become an imperative: “The ‘pull’ toward Palestine I heard expressed again and again, not only from the young Chalutzim [pioneers] on the train, but from older folk who would say, ‘…We have wandered enough. We have worked and struggled too long on the lands of other peoples. We must build a land of our own. Mir mussen bauen a Yiddish land (We must build a Jewish land).…’”

Like the survivors with whom he was traveling, Stone repeatedly referred to the intended destination as eretz, or “the land”—shorthand for the Land of Israel. Those displaced persons were attempting the trip, as his narrative makes clear, not as European colonialists but as proud Jews who intended to rebuild their lives in the land of their forefathers. Their goal was to join the Zionist pioneers who had come before them in the preceding decades to together determine their collective future as a free Jewish people.…

Stone participated fully in the harrowing experiences of the DPs in crossing the Mediterranean. They faced harsh British officials, and the vessel they traveled in was hardly seaworthy. At one point, erroneously believing that their boat was already approaching its goal, they each received “illegal immigration certificates” stating that they “had been found qualified by the representatives of the Jewish Community of Palestine for repatriation to Eretz Israel.” The certificates cited “four authorities for the Jewish community’s action”—authorities based not only on the Jewish people’s historic connection to the land as conveyed in ancient religious texts but also on modern legal documents and decisions: “The first was from Ezekiel: ‘And they shall abide in the lands that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers abode, and they shall abide therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children, forever.’ The second was from Isaiah: ‘With great mercies will I gather thee.’ The third was Lord Balfour’s Declaration of 2 November 1917, and the last was The [League of Nations] Mandate for Palestine.…”

In an Epilogue, Stone enlarged on the case for supporting the desires of the DPs: “…For most of them, Palestine is not merely the one possibility for a new life, is not merely a place of refuge, but the country to which they want to go.… Is this so hard to understand? They have been kicked around as Jews and now they want to live as Jews. Over and over again, I heard it said: ‘We want to build a Jewish country.… We are tired of putting our sweat and blood into places where we are not welcome.…’ These Jews want the right to live as a people, to build as a people, to make their contribution to the world as a people. Are their national aspirations any less worthy of respect than those of any other oppressed people?…”

In the years following his writing of this book, Stone’s status as a diligent journalist and icon of the left was only to increase. This was especially so at the time of the Vietnam War when, particularly through hard-hitting reportage and commentary circulated in I.F. Stone’s Weekly, he took on the establishment and unrelentingly made the strategic and moral case for withdrawal.…

A look at that newsletter now, starting with the issue published immediately after the Six Day War of June 1967, shows Stone to have been sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinian[s]…[and] fearful that Israel would not use the opportunity of its victory to withdraw from territories it conquered during the ‘67 war in return for a quickly-established peace with its Arab neighbors.… But despite his misgivings, Stone wrote then with a clear-eyed recognition that Israel was what he repeatedly, simply, referred to as “the Jewish State.…”

Today’s left includes individuals and groups who are engaged in an enterprise of delegitimation that would deny Israel its right to exist. They are driven partly by an inaccurately applied anti-colonial ideology, partly by a selectively applied belief in post-nationalism, partly by an acceptance of a maximalist application of the Palestinian narrative, and partly—one cannot help suspect about some of them—by a troubling though usually unacknowledged animosity to Israel and its supporters. I.F. Stone’s Underground to Palestine provides a useful corrective and alternative to these perspectives, based on its revealing account of the situation prevailing in the period preceding independence.…

(Michael C. Kotzin is Senior Counselor to the President of the Jewish Federation
of Metropolitan Chicago and a former faculty member at Tel-Aviv University.)


Jerusalem Post, February 13, 2012

Adolf Hitler’s favorite Shakespearean drama is now at the center of an ironic tug of war in London, between a Jewish theater troupe that wants to perform it, and an anti-Israel group that wants to shut it down.

Wait, what? There were no less than 50 productions of The Merchant of Venice in Nazi Germany during Hitler’s first six years in power. Understandably, the fuhrer saw it as a powerful tool for advancing anti-Semitism. With its portrayal of the cruel and wily Shylock, the Jewish money-lender who lusts for “a pound of flesh,” the play in some ways encourages the worst medieval anti-Jewish stereotypes.

Not everyone sees it that way, of course. Actor Yossi Gerber, who portrayed Shylock in an earlier Israeli production of the play, says that Merchant—with its famous Shylock monologue about Jews being human like everyone else—is “anti-anti-Semitic.” Ilan Ronen, who will direct the new version in London, says it “allows us to attack the hatred of Jews and fear of strangers.”

As it happens, the opponents of the new production are upset not by the choice of Merchant but by the fact that the organizers of a London-based Shakespeare festival invited an Israeli troupe to participate. According to their web site, the protesters, known as Boycott from Within, regard Israel as “evil” and “an apartheid state,” and use the Arabic word for “catastrophe,” nakba, to characterize the creation of Israel.…

It would not have been a complete shock, though, if they had supported the choice of Merchant, when one notes how the Shylock slur has been used by some Arab denouncers of Israel. In a sermon last year, Muhammad Badi, leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, cited Shylock as revealing “the true character” of Jews, while Hafez Barghouti, editor of the Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jedida, has described Israel as “the Shylock of the lands and settlement” and Israeli banks as “Shylock-style banks that empty our pockets.”

American Jewish defense organizations have long been concerned about the impact of the stereotypes in The Merchant for Venice, and for good reason. Shylock references abound in American literature going back to the 19th century and even seeped into the political arena. Just weeks after General Ulysses Grant expelled all Jewish merchants from Union-occupied areas of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky in 1862, Confederate Tennessee congressman Henry Foote declared that unless the Confederacy took similar steps, “the end of the war would probably find nearly all the property of the Confederacy in the hands of Jewish shylocks.”

As early as 1912, the Central Conference of American [Reform] Rabbis urged the College Entrance Examination Board to remove Merchant from its lists of plays “to be intensively studied” as a prerequisite to college admission. The Anti-Defamation League in 1917 launched a campaign to ban the study of Merchant in American high schools on the grounds that “Shylock is erroneously pictured as typical of all Jews.” Several hundred schools acceded to the ADL’s request.

After World War II, perhaps reflecting the fact that American Jews now felt more secure in American society, the ADL changed its position. When parents in Brooklyn in 1950 tried to force the New York City Board of Education to drop The Merchant of Venice (and Oliver Twist, with its repulsive Jewish villain, Fagin) from high school curricula, the ADL likened the effort to “book-burning.”

There is, however, a middle ground between banning a controversial play and presenting it, unvarnished, to audiences that might not appreciate the context or implications of what they are viewing. Perform the play, but have a historian speak before it begins, and have a panel discussion when it concludes. In classrooms, use The Merchant of Venice as a teachable moment, just as teachers confront issues of racial stereotyping when their students read, for example, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.… Whether in London or anywhere else, [this approach] might help make the best of an otherwise bad situation.

(Dr. Rafael Medoff is director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.)

Jerold S. Auerbach

American Thinker, February 12, 2012

Ever since Moses received the Ten Commandments, the history of the Jewish people has been interwoven with law. An additional 613 commandments in the Torah were explicated in the Talmud, collected in the 16th-century Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Aruch) and interpreted and enforced over the centuries by rabbinical courts.

Since 1948 the State of Israel has had its own legal system, populated by the usual array of lawyers and judges. But until recently it lacked what has long been conspicuous in the American legal world: private defense organizations (such as the American Civil Liberties Union) litigating vital constitutional issues.

Just such an organization was founded in 2003 by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, an Israeli lawyer with a mission. Her American model was the Southern Poverty Law Center, which had successfully filed legal challenges to thwart the Ku Klux Klan and others it deemed racist. She was determined “to go after terrorists in the same way” in which the Center pursued its foes: through civil litigation. Named Shurat HaDin, the Israel Law Center has become the bane of anti-Israel groups throughout the world.

Shurat HaDin has instigated litigation against a range of perpetrators and abettors of terrorism. Its targets have included Iran (for its role in a Hamas suicide bombing in Jerusalem), the Lebanese-Canadian Bank and the Bank of China Ltd. (for transferring funds to Hezb’allah), and the government of Egypt (for abetting the smuggling of weapons into Gaza). Its efforts have been rewarded with substantial judgments totaling more than $700 million.

The Law Center, through its American office, has begun to monitor the rampant anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in colleges and universities. It has informed the presidents of academic institutions that their schools could face civil and criminal liability for tolerating “an environment of intimidation and hostility” that fails to protect Jewish and Israeli students against anti-Semitic harassment.

To be sure, Shurat HaDin does not always win—even in Israel. The High Court of Justice dismissed its petition on behalf of the families of missing Iranian Jews as a matter of “diplomatic concern” to be settled through government channels. Its attempt to block the recent exchange of more than one thousand Palestinian prisoners for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was thwarted.

But when it wins, it wins big. By far its most impressive recent achievement was to stymie the plan for a second flotilla to breech the Israeli blockade of Gaza. This flotilla’s notorious predecessor, the so-called “Freedom Flotilla,” became a major public relations disaster for Israel after Israeli naval commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara in an attempt to divert the ship to Ashdod for inspection. After an assault from passengers armed with knives and iron bars, the ensuing struggle resulted in the deaths of nine assailants—and the predictable worldwide storm of criticism against Israel.

The second attempt, last June, provided Shurat HaDin with another opportunity. It warned maritime insurance companies in Europe and Turkey that if they provided the required insurance, they could be held legally liable for “aiding and abetting” a terrorist organization. A French insurance company responded by refusing to insure a ship that was prepared to sail from Marseilles.

With cooperation from the Israeli government, eager to abort the mission and avoid another round of vituperative castigation, Shurat HaDin notified a satellite communication company that it faced legal action if it provided service to the flotilla. It also filed a lawsuit for violation of the Neutrality Act in federal court in New York. And, to cover all bases, Shurat HaDin notified the government of Greece that its own Neutrality Act prohibited ships from sailing to illegal ports (including Gaza). Lacking the necessary insurance or proper registration, the flotilla was prevented by the government from departing.…

Shurat HaDin recently launched forays against major communication companies. It notified Twitter that permitting Hezb’allah and other foreign terrorist organizations to maintain accounts violated American laws prohibiting assistance or support to terrorists, exposing the company to legal action from terror victims and their families. Last month it delivered a similar warning to Verizon to halt its phone service to PLO offices in Washington. Most recently, it quickly persuaded Delta Airlines that Ben-Gurion Airport in Israel is not, as its frequent flyer program on a Middle Eastern website suggested, located in “occupied territory.”

From ports to airports, and many places in between, the “lawfare” campaign waged by Shurat HaDin reveals the enduring power of law in Jewish tradition—with an innovative Israeli twist.

In yesterday’s Daily Briefing (Feb. 23), CIJR published a letter written by foreign policy professionals to U.S. President Barack Obama (“Obama Urged to Act on Syria,” Weekly Standard, February 17.) Below please find the names of the letter’s signatories—Ed.

Khairi Abaza, Ammar Abdulhamid, Hussain Abdul-Hussain, Tony Badran, Paul Berman, Max Boot, Ellen Bork, L. Paul Bremer, Matthew R. J. Brodsky, Elizabeth Cheney, Seth Cropsey, Toby Dershowitz, James Denton, Mark Dubowitz, Nicholas Eberstadt, Eric S. Edelman, Jamie M. Fly, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Abe Greenwald, John P. Hannah, William Inboden, Bruce Pitcairn Jackson, Ash Jain, Kenneth Jensen, Sirwan Kajjo, Lawrence F. Kaplan, Irina Krasovskaya, William Kristol, Michael Ledeen, Tod Lindberg, Herbert I. London, Clifford D. May, Ann Marlowe, Robert C. McFarlane, Joshua Muravchik, Martin Peretz, Danielle Pletka, John Podhoretz, Stephen Rademaker, Karl Rove, Jonathan Schanzer, Randy Scheunemann, Gary J. Schmitt, Daniel S. Senor, Lee Smith, Henry D. Sokolski, Daniel Twining, Peter Wehner, Kenneth R. Weinstein, Leon Wieseltier, R. James Woolsey, Khawla Yusuf, Dov S. Zakheim, Robert Zarate, Radwan Ziadeh.





Daniel Pipes

The Washington Times, 21 février 2012
Version originale anglaise: “Eventually, All Humans Will Be Palestine Refugees”
Adaptation française: Anne-Marie Delcambre de Champvert

De toutes les questions qui agitent le conflit israélo-arabe, il n'en est pas de plus centrale, de plus pernicieuse, de plus primordiale, de plus permanente, de plus chargée d'émotion et de plus complexe que le statut de ces personnes connues sous le nom de réfugiés palestiniens.


Les origines de ce cas unique, comme l'observe Nitza Nachmias de l'Université de Tel Aviv, remontent au comte Folke Bernadotte, médiateur du Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies. Se référant à ces Arabes qui avaient fui le mandat britannique sur la Palestine, il avait soutenu en 1948 que l'ONU avait une «responsabilité concernant l'allègement de leurs souffrances» parce que c'était une décision de l'ONU, la création d'Israël, qui en avait fait des réfugiés. Malgré le caractère inexact de son point de vue, ce dernier demeure vivace et puissant et contribue à expliquer pourquoi l'ONU consacre une attention sans pareille aux réfugiés palestiniens en attente de leur propre État.


Fidèle à l'héritage de Bernadotte, l'ONU a mis en place une série d’institutions spéciales exclusivement pour les réfugiés palestiniens. Parmi celles-ci, l'Office de secours et de travaux des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés de Palestine (UNRWA), fondé en 1949, se distingue comme étant la plus importante. C'est à la fois la seule organisation de réfugiés traitant d'un peuple spécifique (la Commission des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés s'occupe de tous les réfugiés non palestiniens) et la plus grande organisation des Nations Unies (en termes de personnel).


L'UNRWA définit apparemment ses domaines d'intervention avec une grande précision: «les réfugiés palestiniens sont des personnes dont le lieu de résidence était la Palestine entre juin 1946 et mai 1948, qui ont perdu à la fois leur domicile et leurs moyens de subsistance par suite du conflit israélo-arabe de 1948». Le nombre de ces réfugiés (qui à l'origine comprenaient quelques Juifs) a, bien sûr, beaucoup diminué au cours des 64 dernières années. En admettant le nombre (exagéré) de l'UNRWA des 750.000 réfugiés palestiniens du début, à peine une petite partie de ce nombre, environ 150.000 personnes, est encore en vie.


Le personnel de l'UNRWA a pris trois mesures importantes au cours des années afin d'élargir la définition de réfugiés palestiniens. Tout d'abord, et contrairement à la pratique universelle, il a étendu le statut de réfugiés à ceux qui sont devenus des citoyens d'un État arabe (Jordanie, en particulier). Deuxièmement, il a pris une décision peu remarquée en 1965 qui a élargi la définition de «réfugiés palestiniens» aux descendants de ces réfugiés qui sont de sexe masculin, un changement qui permet aux réfugiés de Palestine uniquement de transmettre leur statut de réfugié aux générations suivantes.


Le gouvernement des U.S.A, principal bailleur de fonds de l'agence, a seulement un peu protesté contre ce changement capital. L'Assemblée générale l'a entériné en 1982, de sorte que maintenant la définition d'un réfugié palestinien comprend officiellement «les descendants de réfugiés palestiniens de sexe masculin, y compris les enfants adoptés légalement.» Troisièmement, l'UNRWA en 1967 a ajouté des réfugiés de la guerre des Six Jours à sa liste; et aujourd'hui, ils représentent environ un cinquième du total des réfugiés de Palestine.


Ces changements ont donné des résultats spectaculaires. Contrairement à toutes les autres populations de réfugiés, dont le nombre diminue à mesure que les gens s'installent ou décèdent, la population des réfugiés de Palestine a connu une croissance au fil du temps. L'UNRWA reconnaît ce phénomène bizarre: «Lorsque l'Agence a commencé à fonctionner en 1950, elle devait répondre aux besoins d'environ 750.000 réfugiés de Palestine; aujourd'hui, 5 millions de réfugiés palestiniens sont admissibles aux services de l'UNRWA.». En outre, selon James G. Lindsay, un ancien conseil juridique de l'UNRWA, en vertu de la définition de l'UNRWA, ce chiffre de 5 millions ne représente que la moitié de ceux qui sont potentiellement admissibles au statut de réfugiés palestiniens.


En d'autres termes, plutôt que d'avoir une population 5 fois moins nombreuse sur plus de six décennies, l'UNRWA a une population de réfugiés qui a augmenté de près de 7 fois. Ce nombre pourrait croître encore plus rapidement, ceci dû au sentiment croissant que les femmes réfugiées devraient également transmettre leur statut de réfugié. Même lorsque, dans environ 40 ans, le dernier réfugié réel de l'époque du mandat sur la Palestine, mourra, les pseudo-réfugiés continueront à proliférer. Ainsi le statut de «réfugiés de Palestine» est voué à gonfler indéfiniment. Autrement dit, comme le fait remarquer Steven J. Rosen [qui fait partie] du Forum du Moyen-Orient, «étant donné les normes de l'UNRWA, tous les hommes seront un jour des réfugiés palestiniens.»


Si le statut des réfugiés de Palestine était sain, cette expansion sans fin n'aurait guère d'importance. Mais le statut a des conséquences destructrices pour les deux parties: Israël, qui souffre des ravages causés à une catégorie de personnes dont les vies sont brisées et faussées par ce rêve impossible de retour à la maison de leurs arrière-grands-parents, et les «réfugiés» eux-mêmes, dont le statut implique une culture de dépendance, de ressentiment, de rage, et d'inanité.


Tous les autres réfugiés de la Seconde Guerre mondiale (y compris mes propres parents) se sont établis depuis longtemps; le statut de réfugié palestinien a déjà trop duré et doit être restreint à de vrais réfugiés avant que cela ne cause davantage de dommages.

Éditorial, 21 février 2012

Le slogan «Deux États pour deux peuples» s’est imposé ces dernières années, au point de devenir une sorte de mantra que l’on répète inlassablement, comme s’il s’agissait d’une formule magique pour amener la paix au Moyen-Orient… Les événements récents – du «Printemps arabe» à l’hiver islamiste en Égypte, en Tunisie ou en Syrie – montrent pourtant que la réalité de cette région du monde est très fluctuante, et beaucoup plus complexe que les slogans simplistes. Non seulement les concessions unilatérales israéliennes, depuis les accords d’Oslo signés il y a bientôt 20 ans, n’ont pas amené la paix dans la région, mais elles ont renforcé le camp le plus extrémiste au sein de la société arabe palestinienne; celui du Hamas et du Djihad islamique. Le récent accord entre le Fatah de Mahmoud Abbas et le Hamas montre que ces deux organisations partagent aujourd’hui les mêmes objectifs, et que seule leur stratégie pour y parvenir diffère.


Il est en effet de plus en plus clair que les Palestiniens ne sont nullement intéressés à la création d’un État démocratique vivant en paix aux côtés d’Israël, et qu’ils font tout leur possible pour parvenir à l’éradication de l’État Juif, tantôt par la guerre et le terrorisme, tantôt par la délégitimation d’Israël et du sionisme sur la scène internationale.


Dans ces circonstances, parler de «deux États-nations», comme l’a fait récemment le Président de la République [Sarkozy], relève plus de l’incantation que de l’analyse objective de la situation. On ne peut à la fois proclamer son amitié pour Israël et son attachement à sa sécurité, et se dire favorable à la création d’un nouvel État arabe palestinien à l’Ouest du Jourdain, qui se transformera inévitablement en nouvelle base de terrorisme contre Israël, comme l’est devenue la bande de Gaza depuis le retrait israélien en 2006.


La mise en parallèle de l’État Juif, foyer national d’un des peuples les plus anciens au monde, qui a offert à l’humanité un apport inestimable sur le plan culturel, spirituel et intellectuel, et de l’État palestinien, revendiqué par une nation tout récemment apparue (certains diront «inventée»), dont la seule «contribution» majeure à l’humanité est, à ce jour, l’invention du terrorisme international, est insultante pour le peuple Juif. Il est surprenant qu’un ami sincère comme Nicolas Sarkozy ne comprenne pas cela…


L’insistance de la diplomatie française à vouloir à tout prix créer un État palestinien est d’autant plus suspecte qu’elle est totalement muette sur le refus palestinien de négocier directement avec Israël, sur les violations palestiniennes répétées des accords conclus, et sur l’incitation constante à la haine dans les médias officiels de l’Autorité palestinienne, qui qualifient de «martyrs» et glorifient les auteurs de l’odieux attentat d’Itamar. Ce mutisme est d’autant plus inacceptable que l’Autorité palestinienne ne fonctionne que grâce au financement généreux de l’Union européenne.


Dépêche, 16 février 2012

Le 15 février 2012, Télé-Québec a diffusé une interview de Fatima Houda-Pepin par Richard Martineau. […] L’interview de madame Houda-Pepin a été présentée au début de l’émission. Après avoir rappelé que Fatima Houda-Pepin est vice-présidente de l’Assemblée nationale depuis mai 2007 et députée depuis 1994, Richard Martineau a souligné combien sa contribution avait été importante pour empêcher l’introduction des tribunaux islamiques au Canada en 2005.


Richard Martineau: La preuve que même en tant que «simple députée» on peut faire une différence, vous l’avez fait (lors du) combat que vous avez mené, tambour battant, contre l’instauration de la charia, des tribunaux islamiques au pays. Vous étiez vraiment la première au front.


Durant l’entretien, Richard Martineau a demandé à madame Houda-Pepin d’élaborer sur son contact avec l’islam radical au Canada alors qu’elle n’y avait pas été confrontée dans le Maroc de son enfance.


Richard Martineau: Il y a une phrase que vous avez dite qui m’a très bouleversé. Vous, vous êtes née au Maroc, vous avez été à l’école coranique, vous avez fréquenté l’école coranique lorsque vous étiez enfant. (…) Vous avez dit: «J’ai connu le fondamentalisme en arrivant au Canada».


Fatima Houda-Pepin: En effet. En effet. (…) Moi je viens d’une famille très religieuse et pratiquante. Donc, la religion pour moi c’était la joie, c’était le partage, c’était la musique, c’était les fêtes. (…) La religion qui s’épanouit, qui se vit humblement, sereinement et une religion qui se vit dans la confiance et dans la sérénité. Ma mère exigeait d’inviter mes amies juives aux fêtes religieuses et mes amies chrétiennes. C’était un devoir. Il fallait qu’elles soient là. Et moi, j’allais célébrer avec elles leurs fêtes. Je célébrais Noël avec elles et ainsi de suite. J’arrive ici et là Noël c’est haram (interdit), l’arbre de Noël c’est haram…Tout est haram. Mais qu’est-ce que tu fais ici si tout ça est haram?


Madame Houda-Pepin a rappelé combien les opposants au radicalisme islamiste devaient être spécifiques dans leurs interventions s’ils espéraient avoir la moindre chance de ralentir le phénomène.


Fatima Houda-Pepin: Le combat contre les intégrismes de toutes les religions, c’est un combat périlleux. Il faut être prêt à le mener ce combat-là et la première condition, c’est la connaissance. Si vous ne connaissez pas ces phénomènes, si vous ne connaissez pas leurs structures, leurs organisations, leur agenda, où est-ce qu’ils s’en vont et ce qu’ils veulent, ça sert à rien de vouloir vous attaquer à plus fort que vous.


Victor Sharpe, 21 février 2012

Vraiment c’est une bonne question! Il y a plus de vingt États arabes au Moyen-Orient et en Afrique du Nord, mais le monde exige, en chœur avec une animosité à peine déguisée envers Israël, qu’un un autre État arabe soit créé au sein des quarante miles qui séparent la mer Méditerranée du Jourdain.


Israël, un territoire pas plus grand que le pays de Galles ou l’État du New Jersey, serait forcé de partager cette bande de terre avec une nouvelle entité arabe hostile appelée «Palestine», tout en voyant sa taille actuelle réduite à neuf miles de largeur autant dire un projet génocidaire – ce que l’homme d’État israélien, Abba Eban, décrit comme les frontières d’Auschwitz.


Rappelez-vous, il n’a jamais existé dans toute l’histoire une nation souveraine indépendante appelée la Palestine – et certainement pas non plus arabe. Le terme «Palestine» a toujours été le nom d’un territoire géographique, comme la Sibérie ou la Patagonie. Mais n’a jamais été un état. Mais il y a un peuple qui, comme les Juifs, mérite une patrie et qui vraiment peuvent remonter leur ascendance à des milliers d’années d’histoire.


Ce sont les Kurdes, et il est très instructif d’examiner leur remarquable histoire en parallèle avec celle des Juifs. Il est également nécessaire de revoir l’injustice historique qui leur a été imposée au fil des siècles par des empires et des voisins hostiles.


Revenons à la captivité des dix tribus d’Israël, ces tribus ont été déportées à partir de leurs terres par les Assyriens en 721-715 avant l’ère commune. L’Israël biblique a été dépeuplé, ses habitants Juifs ont été déportés vers une zone dans la région de l’ancienne Médie et de l’Assyrie – ce territoire correspondant à peu près aujourd’hui à celui du Kurdistan. L’Assyrie a été à son tour conquise par les Babyloniens. Les Babyloniens sous Nabuchodonosor ont ensuite envahit le royaume de Juda en – 586 avant l’ère commune.


Les deux autres tribus juives ont été envoyées à leur tour dans la même même zone que celle de leurs frères du nord du royaume. Lorsque le conquérant perse de la Babylonie, Cyrus le Grand, a permis aux Juifs de retourner sur leurs terres ancestrales, de nombreux Juifs sont restés et ont continuer à vivre avec leurs voisins Babyloniens – une région qui, encore une fois, correspond dans nos temps modernes au Kurdistan.


Le Talmud de Babylone se réfère dans un passage aux déportés Juifs de Juda ayant reçu l’autorisation rabbinique de communiquer le judaïsme à la population locale. La maison royale kurde et une grande partie de la population en général dans les années qui ont suivi ont accepté la foi juive. En effet, lorsque les Juifs se soulevèrent contre l’occupation romaine au 1er siècle après l’ère commune, la reine a envoyé des troupes kurdes visant à soutenir les Juifs assiégés.


Dès le début du 2ème siècle après l’ère commune, le judaïsme a été fermement établi au Kurdistan, et les Juifs kurdes en Israël parlent aujourd’hui une forme ancienne d’araméen dans leurs maisons et dans les synagogues. La vie juive est devenue si intime et à un tel degré que de nombreux contes populaires kurdes sont en rapport avec les Juifs.


[…] Après que la révolte ait échoué contre Rome, de nombreux rabbins ont trouvé refuge dans ce qui est aujourd’hui le Kurdistan. Les rabbins se sont joints à leurs collègues universitaires, et au 3ème siècle après l’ère chrétienne, les académies juives de la région étaient florissantes.


[…] Sous l’empire perse des sassanides les Juifs et les Kurdes ont souffert de persécution et cela a duré jusqu’à l’invasion arabo-musulmane au 7ème siècle. Les Juifs et les Kurdes se sont joints aux envahisseurs arabes dans l’espoir que leur action leur apporterait un soulagement aux déprédations et persécutions subies sous les sassanides. Peu de temps après la conquête arabe, les Juifs de l’État autonome Juif de Himyar (royaume antique du Yémen) ce qui est l’Arabie Saoudite aujourd’hui ont rejoint les Juifs dans les régions kurdes.


Cependant, sous l’occupation arabo-musulmane, leur situation a empiré, et les Juifs ont souffert en tant que dhimmis dans les territoires contrôlés par les musulmans. Les Juifs ont été chassés de leurs terres agricoles du fait des taxes onéreuses imposées par leurs suzerains musulmans. Ils ont donc quitté la terre pour devenir commerçants et artisans dans les villes.


Beaucoup de paysans Juifs ont été convertis à l’islam par la force et les circonstances désastreuses les poussèrent à se marier avec leurs voisins. De cette population kurde est issue une grande figure historique. En 1138, un garçon est né dans une famille de guerriers et d’aventuriers kurdes. Son nom était Salah-al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyoub – mieux connu en Occident sous le nom de Saladin.


Il a été l’artisan de la reconquête de Jérusalem contre les croisés chrétiens, et a donné la victoire aux musulmans sur les Francs même si les arabo-musulmans se méfiaient de lui du fait qu’il soit Kurde. Les Arabes de l’époque étaient au courant de la relation étroite qui existait entre le peuple kurde et les Juifs. Saladin a établi des mesures de justice et humanitaires en temps de guerre et temps de paix également. Cette situation contrastait avec les méthodes employées par les Arabes.


En effet, Saladin fut non seulement juste pour les chrétiens, mais il a permis aussi aux Juifs de se développer à Jérusalem et, à ses frais, à fait déblayé le Mur occidental du Temple Juif, enterré sous des tonnes de déchets pendant l’occupation chrétienne byzantine. Le grand rabbin et philosophe Juif Maïmonide était le médecin personnel de Saladin.


[…] Mais revenons à nos jours et les raisons pour lesquelles les clameurs du monde se font entendre pour un État palestinien arabe, et que ce même monde tourne étrangement le dos à l’indépendance nationale d’un état kurde. Le principe universellement accepté de l’autodétermination ne semble pas s’appliquer aux Kurdes.


Dans un article paru dans le New York Sun, le 6 Juillet 2004 intitulé «L’Exception d’un état kurde», Hillel Halkin expose la discrimination et les doubles standards employés à l’encontre des aspirations à l’indépendance des kurdes. La brutalité de la realpolitik, fait que les Arabes qui se disent Palestiniens ont de nombreux amis dans le monde arabe riche en pétrole – pétrole dont le monde a désespérément besoin pour son économie.


Les Kurdes, comme les Juifs, ont peu d’amis, et les Kurdes ont peu, ou aucune, d’influence dans les couloirs internationaux du pouvoir. M. Halkin a souligné que «les Kurdes méritent bien mieux un État que les Palestiniens. Ils ont leur propre langue et une culture unique, les Arabes palestiniens n’en n’ont pas. Ils sont un peuple distinct et ce depuis de nombreux siècles, les Arabes palestiniens ne sont pas un peuple distinct des arabes. Ils ont été trahis à plusieurs reprises par les promesses durant les 100 dernières années par la communauté internationale, tandis que les Arabes palestiniens n’ont été trahis que par leurs compatriotes arabes.»


[…] Pendant la tyrannie de Saddam Hussein, les Kurdes ont été gazés et assassinés en grand nombre. Ils ont subi un nettoyage ethnique par les Turcs et continuent d’être opprimés par le gouvernement turc actuel. L’actuel ministre des Affaires étrangères turques, Ahmet Davutoglu, a eu le culot de déclarer, lors d’une réunion du Centre d’études stratégiques et internationales, que la Turquie soutient les opprimés dans le monde.


Il a ignoré l’oppression des Kurdes par son propre gouvernement et appelle les terroristes sanguinaires de la bande de Gaza des «opprimés». Sur la base de la pure realpolitik, la légalité et la moralité de la cause des Kurdes est infiniment plus forte que celle des Arabes qui se disent Palestiniens. D’autre part, après le renversement de Saddam Hussein, les Kurdes ont fait preuve politiquement et économiquement d’une grande sagesse.


La différence avec les Arabes de Gaza est que, lorsqu’Israël a donné le contrôle total de la bande de Gaza, les Arabes n’ont pas choisi de construire des hôpitaux et des écoles, mais plutôt des bunkers et des lanceurs de missiles. En plus de cela, ils ont imposé la charia humiliant les femmes et les non-musulmans.


L’expérience kurde, en cours sur le territoire quasi-indépendant qui est le leur a montré au monde une société décente, où tous ses habitants, hommes et femmes, jouissent de libertés bien plus grandes que ce qui peut être trouvé dans le monde arabo-musulman – et certainement nulle part ailleurs en Irak, qui est en train de sombrer dans un chaos ethnique, maintenant que l’armée américaine l’a quitté. […]


Copyright © Israël Flash

PRESTIGIOUS CIJR RESEARCH INTERNSHIPS. Deadline for applications is March 15, 2012

The Canadian Institute for Jewish Research is offering an exciting Summer Internship opportunity to develop your research talents, under professional guidance, on Israel and Middle East Studies.


CIJR is a unique, independent, Montreal-based and internationally respected academic think-tank.  The Institute is devoted to bringing objective, up-to-date data on and analysis of Israel, the Middle East, and Jewish-related issues to the media, students and university campuses, and to the Jewish and non-Jewish communities.


Interns, under the guidance of CIJR Academic Fellows, will focus on research and writing on topics relating to Israel, the Middle East, and Jewish-world issues.

Candidates for the Summer Internship eight-week program, must be undergraduate students, with good research and writing skills, and basic computer experience.


Successful candidates completing the internship program will be able to list this internship on their cv. and will receive an official letter of recommendation from the Institute’s Director, Prof. Frederick Krantz. (We have been able, in a number of cases, to place CIJR Interns in Israeli research institutes’ summer programs).


To apply, please contact the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research,


Deadline for applications – March 15, 2012.


Canadian Institute for Jewish Research

Posted in Uncategorized


Weekly Standard, February 17, 2012

The following is a letter written by a group of foreign policy professionals
to U.S. President Barack Obama regarding the situation in Syria

Dear Mr. President:

For eleven months now, the Syrian people have been dying on a daily basis at the hands of their government as they seek to topple the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad. As the recent events in the city of Homs—in which hundreds of Syrians have been killed in a matter of days—have shown, Assad will stop at nothing to maintain his grip on power.

Given the United Nations Security Council’s recent failure to act, we believe that the United States cannot continue to defer its strategic and moral responsibilities in Syria to regional actors such as the Arab League, or to wait for consent from the Assad regime’s protectors, Russia and China. We therefore urge you to take immediate steps to decisively halt the Assad regime’s atrocities against Syrian civilians, and to hasten the emergence of a post-Assad government in Syria.

Syria’s future is not purely a humanitarian concern. The Assad regime poses a grave threat to national security interests of the United States. The Syrian government, which has been on the State Department’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list since 1979, maintains a strategic partnership with the terror-sponsoring government of Iran, as well as with Hamas and Hezbollah. For years, it facilitated the entry of foreign fighters into Iraq who killed American troops. For years, it secretly pursued a nuclear program with North Korea’s assistance. And for decades, it has closely cooperated with Iran and other agents of violence and instability to menace America’s allies and partners throughout the Middle East.

Equally troubling, foreign powers have already directly intervened in Syria—in support of the Assad regime. Russia is providing arms and supplies to the Syrian government. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah are reportedly operating in Syria, and assisting Syrian military forces and pro-regime militias in efforts to crush the Syrian opposition. In turn, the lack of resolve and action by the responsible members of the international community is only further emboldening the Assad regime.

Given these facts, we urge you to take the following immediate actions to hasten an end to the Assad regime and the humanitarian catastrophe that it is inflicting on the Syrian people:

1. Immediately establish safe zones within Syrian territory, as well as no-go zones for the Assad regime’s military and security forces, around Homs, Idlib, and other threatened areas, in order to protect Syrian civilians.…

2. Establish contacts with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and, in conjunction with allies in the Middle East and Europe, provide a full range of direct assistance, including self-defense aid to the FSA.

3. Improve U.S. coordination with political opposition groups and provide them with secure communications technologies and other assistance that will help to improve their ability to prepare for a post-Assad Syria.

4. Work with Congress to impose crippling U.S. and multilateral sanctions on the Syrian government, especially on Syria’s energy, banking, and shipping sectors.

Unless the United States takes the lead and acts, either individually or in concert with like-minded nations, thousands of additional Syrian civilians will likely die, and the emerging civil war in Syria will likely ignite wider instability in the Middle East. Given American interests in the Middle East, as well as the implications for those seeking freedom in other repressive societies, it is imperative that the United States and its allies not remove any option from consideration, including military intervention.

The Syrian people are asking for international assistance. It is apparent that American leadership is required to ensure the quickest end to the Assad regime’s brutal reign, and to clearly show the Syrian people that, as you said on February 4, 2012, the people of the free world stand with them as they seek to realize their aspirations.

Elliott Abrams

National Review, February 7, 2012

What should the United States do when a vicious enemy is on the ropes, defended only by a core of murderous loyalists plus regimes that are themselves hostile to the United States? If you answered “Nothing,” you fail the course. If you answered “make more speeches,” you too get an F.

The case in question is Syria. There, an enemy regime faces hatred and opposition from the vast majority of citizens. The Assad clan made a specialty of helping kill Americans in Iraq, while also threatening and often murdering any Lebanese leader who objected to Syrian domination. It is Iran’s only Arab ally, and the armorer of Hezbollah. It is the only real Arab friend left for Putin’s Russia. There can be no doubt that the demise of the Assad regime is good for the United States and bad for our enemies.

It is quite clear that the Syrian people want the regime ended, for many reasons: They hate the oppression, the murders, the torture, the alliances with Shiite Iran and Hezbollah, and the domination by the minority Alawite sect.…

So what do we do? Of course, if success were made of speeches and sanctions the Obama policy would be marvelous—and adequate. The problem is that Syria is at war, and one side or the other will win that war. It will be the Assad/Russia/Iran/Hezbollah side, or the popular uprising with its European, American, and Arab support. A deus ex machina ending is possible, wherein some Syrian Army generals push Assad out and agree to a transition away from Assad and Alawite rule. But such a step by the generals is far more likely if they conclude that Assad’s war is lost.

So we must make sure he loses.… The next step is to provide plenty of money and arms, training, and intelligence to the Free Syrian Army and other opponents of the Assads.… If we are squeamish about providing it directly, we should strongly urge (and pressure) others—candidates include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Jordan, and Turkey—to pitch in.…

The arguments against this course are wrong. Would we be creating more violence? It was Assad who chose to make war on his people, and now the only question is whether his murderous repression will succeed. Would we be destabilizing the region? Assad’s war and the refugee flows it is creating will do that, and there will be no stability until he is gone. Would this be the path toward another Libya-like intervention? It is the way to delay and perhaps obviate the need for such an intervention without allowing an Iranian/ Russian/Hezbollah/Assad victory. Would the government that replaces Assad also be undemocratic? It certainly would be no bloodier or more repressive than his, and it would be a Sunni regime unattached to Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia.

The key issue in Syria today is who will win—our side or the opposing side, which is a real axis of evil. This isn’t about the exact confessional balance of those opposing Assad, or the exact provisions of the next Syrian constitution. All those questions will come with victory against the bad guys—but only with victory. The goal today is more simple, and more old-fashioned: to defeat our enemies. Iran and Russia appear to see this very clearly. So should we.

Fouad Ajami

Wall Street Journal, February 10, 2012

The bloodshed and the brutality of the dictatorship in Syria are at long last beginning to challenge the passivity of the Obama administration. The word is out that the Pentagon has launched a “scoping exercise” to determine what could be done should the president want to respond to the Syrian catastrophe.

For months, the administration pursued the mirage of a United Nations Security Council condemnation of Damascus, when there was no chance that Russia and China would go for it. The administration persisted even though a similar effort last October ended in failure. There was no need to court the Russians. We granted them the pride of being treated as a great power, and they played it for all it was worth, at home and abroad. The time wasted on the courtship of Russia should have been put to use “scoping” ways the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad could be brought down.

We have been here before: waiting in the face of rampant terror, exaggerating the power of regimes engaged in mass murder when deterrent power would have put an end to their barbarism. In the Obama world, the tendency to wait has become official policy.…

President Obama isn’t about to adopt the exercise of American power and burdens during the era of George W. Bush as his own. But in the face of this Syrian dilemma, he would be wise to consider the way Bill Clinton dealt with the crisis of Kosovo in 1999. Not unlike our current president, President Clinton wanted nothing to do with Kosovo when that last of the wars of Yugoslavia erupted with fury in early 1999.

American power, it should be recalled, had rallied to the defense of the Bosnians four years earlier. The horror of Bosnia had gone on for 30 cruel months, under George H.W. Bush and President Clinton alike. Legends were told about the might of the Serbs, but they were broken with relative ease and the Bosnians were rescued when President Clinton decided that American honor was sullied by the genocide in that corner of Europe—and he unleashed the power of NATO’s bombers.

But the Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic was not done. He was determined to deny the Kosovars their autonomy. There had been a terrible summer in 1998, more than 300,000 Kosovar Albanians had been forced to leave their homes. “Ethnic cleansing,” that awful euphemism, was again everywhere in the news.

For President Clinton, it was yet another plunge into the Balkan inferno. He authorized a NATO air campaign against Serbia that began on March 23, 1999, the very same day a bipartisan majority in both houses of Congress voted to support it. Two days later, President Clinton spoke to the American people and laid out the stakes in that conflict—the future of Europe, the line to be drawn for brigands and killers challenging the order of nations.

The air campaign lasted 11 weeks, included more than 30,000 sorties, and crippled Milosevic’s ability to wage war on the Kosovars. The economic and military infrastructure of Serbia was damaged, even the home of Milosevic was targeted. Though a “war president” is the last thought that comes to mind when thinking of Bill Clinton, he stayed the course.…

An independent Kosovo was mid-wifed by a moderate and limited exercise of American power. We lost no American soldiers in that campaign. Two planes were lost, but their crews were recovered safely. All this was done outside the suffocating confines of the U.N. Security Council. There was no court paid Russia, even when its president, Boris Yeltsin, was on the best of terms with Washington.…

Two weeks after the end of the fighting, more than 700,000 Kosovars returned to their homes and villages. President Clinton—who would, in time, note the shame of leaving Rwanda to its terrors—would speak of Kosovo with pride in his 2004 autobiography: “The burning of villages and killing of innocents was history. I knew it was a matter of time before Milosevic was history, too.”

In this Syrian ordeal, President Obama has a similar opportunity to stop “the killing of innocents” in Homs, Hama and Deraa. The Damascus regime is living on bluster, running out of money, and relying on an army that has no faith in the mission given it or in the man at the helm. It could be brought down without a massive American commitment.…

There are risks to be run, no doubt. But at present we have only the shame of averting our eyes from Syrian massacres. If we act now, President Obama, when he pens his memoirs, could still claim vindication, or at least that he gave Homs and Hama and Deraa his best.

Sarah Honig

Jerusalem Post, February 16, 2012

Forgotten is our peculiar urban folklore, yesteryear’s spontaneous fun of small Israeli kids rapidly rolling off their tongues the names of assorted Syrian tyrants. This singsong accompanied sidewalk games and was a staple of silly summertime tongue-twister contests.

Nobody then remotely believed that riots and havoc in neighboring autocracies could betoken the rise of democracy in the Arab-speaking sphere. But for too long we’ve lost touch with our not-so-distant past, a time when recurrent “Arab Springs” were once announced with dizzying frequency. In Syria especially they followed in furious succession until, in 1970, one Hafez Assad proclaimed the longest-lasting self-styled spring and actually managed to pass on control of the abundant Damascene sunshine and blossoms to his son, Bashar.

Both Assads’ nastiness and penchant for massacres were hardly unique in their country. Syria spawned carnage and “popular uprisings” a dime a dozen. Only the durability of Assad-dynasty despotism was unusual. Nonetheless, now—having learned to view the world through the tinted lenses of hypocrite Europe and bedazzled America—we, too, fall for the “budding democracy” babble.

But back in the less-blinkered day, our assessments were more clear-headed. Never would we ascribe high-mindedness to Syrian power-grabbers. Rather than be wowed, we laughed. Incomparable satirist Shai K.(Shaikeh) Ophir popularized a sidesplitting routine consisting of a roll-call of Syrian tyrants going back to 1948. He recited them with what in hindsight appears like a forerunner of fast-paced rapper-style chants.

It was so all the rage that little pigtailed girls skipped rope and did hopscotch stunts while rhythmically intoning a sequence of rhyming names like Adib Shishakli and Shukri al-Quwatli. For a while, these were basic fare at Israeli playgrounds.

Ophir’s register of names began with Husni Za’im, who led the Syrian army’s attack on newborn Israel in 1948 and then overthrew president Shukri al-Quwatli and imprisoned him. Za’im’s reign, alas, lasted merely four-and-a-half months. He was summarily executed by his deposer Sami Hinnawi. But before Hinnawi could get comfortable in the boss’s seat, he was unseated by Adib Shishakli and assassinated in 1950. All three coups occurred during 1949.…

[Shishakli] was toppled in 1954 and ultimately assassinated in his Brazilian supposed safe-haven. Next came caretaker president Hashim al-Attassi, who already had behind him two stints in power as president and two as prime minister. In 1955 he was replaced by that old favorite, Shukri al-Quwatli. Between 1946 and 1956, Syria had 20 governments and four florid constitutions.

In 1958, al-Quwatli amalgamated Syria with Egypt, forming the United Arab Republic. Formally Syria’s president was Egyptian Gamal Abdel-Nasser.… Within a few weeks, al-Quwatli was betrayed, and his Damascus power base was usurped by Salah Bitar and Akram al-Hawrani. The latter was Nasser’s Syrian deputy, until they began to bicker. By 1959, al-Hawrani had to flee Syria.

In 1961, Abdel-Karim al-Nahlawi overthrew Nasser’s men in Damascus, and Syria became a separate entity once again, a fact that didn’t discourage Egypt from exploiting the UAR epithet till 1971. Syria was now a Ba’ath stronghold, but different factions within that party battled each other with vengeance—literally. Nazim al-Qudsi was Syria’s first post-UAR president. Upon his removal, Luwai al-Attassi presided for four months till Amin al-Hafiz replaced him, ruling the roost from mid-1964 to early 1966, when Salah Jadid ousted Hafiz.

It’s roughly here that Ophir’s long lampoon ends, replete with many more names than mentioned above. In time, Jadid was booted out by Hafez Assad, and the epilogue is now unfolding before our credulous eyes.

Suffice it to note that the miscellaneous short-lived dictatorships served the interests of incompatible components of what’s misguidedly known as the Syrian nation. They all waxed ecstatic about democratic and reformist virtues. Way back, though, no Israeli was naïve enough to take any of the ornate rhetoric seriously.

Today, intellectually indolent molders of public opinion—smugly dismissive of the lessons of history—not only fall for the fallacy but excitedly hype it. It’s little wonder that most of the international community has lost sight of what Syria was and still is. In the mix feature ignorance and fatigue, along with lots of economic and geopolitical interests. It was expedient for the world to turn a blind eye to truth. For us here [in Israel], however, it was nothing but unimaginable folly.…

But Hafez Assad’s Yom Kippur War record, sponsorship of terror and patronage of Hezbollah were obstinately overlooked. Israeli governments hankered after a deal with the same Assad who, when he served as defense minister in 1966, addressed Israelis and blustered belligerently: “We shall never call for nor accept peace. We shall only accept war. We have resolved to drench this land with your blood, to oust you aggressors, to throw you into the sea.”

Assad never took back these words nor so much as pretended to have softened. Unsurprisingly, White House residents and perfidious Europeans pressured little unloved Israel to indulge the Damascus despot by inordinately imperiling the Jewish state’s survival prospects. Predictably, Israel’s own priests of pragmatism rushed with alacrity to ingratiate themselves and decree that by ceding the Golan to benign Syrian rule, we’d be blessed with blissful coexistence.

This encapsulated the homegrown omniscients’ dalliance with Assad-the-father. Staggeringly, their enthusiasm for concessions soared after he went the way of all flesh and his son inherited the blood-stained Assad mantle. Our in-house experts uncannily perceived the agreeable aspect of Bashar, the lanky ophthalmologist with a supposed Western orientation. Bashar, we were tirelessly preached to by retreat-promoters, looks less totalitarian than his dad.…

Yet, confoundingly, life refuses to mesh with established Israeli wishful thinking. Much to the embarrassment of our indefatigable deal-peddlers, Bashar’s own citizenry is exceedingly less mesmerized by him than his Israeli boosters were until quite recently. There’s no getting away from the fact that paying off dictators to secure a semblance of accommodation is a losing proposition, because eventually dictators disappear. With them vanishes the peace we’re required to fork out for. There’s no Better Business Bureau or Customer Service to refund Israel’s hefty, tangible and eminently risky investment in land-for-peace fantasies.

Thank heaven the Golan is still ours—a buffer between our small sliver of a state and the Syrian mayhem. Imagine our misfortune if Assad’s tanks were parked on the shores of Lake Kinneret.

Those who insistently brainwashed us that this is what’s prescribed for our national well-being should atone for their sins by memorizing Ophir’s skit and performing it daily in central city squares. Our street corners should again resonate with cadenced renditions of “Adib Shishakli and Shukri al-Quwatli.…” Hopscotch and jump-rope are optional.


Media-ocrity of the Week


I don’t have an assessment yet. I’m not sure I’ll ever answer that question in the way you’ve just framed it.”—Jodi Rudoren, the incoming New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief, responding to whether she thinks Israel is an apartheid state. When asked if she is a Zionist, Rudoren answered, “I’m going to punt on that question.” Rudoren, who is Jewish, came under fire last week when on the first day after assuming her new position she reached out to Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada. The online magazine has in the past published articles comparing Israel to Nazi Germany. (Contentions, February 16.)


Weekly Quotes


There was a push on the car from behind and I saw the biker.… I even lowered the windowpanes to say something to him but he escaped by then.”—Tal Yehoshua-Koren, the wife of an Israeli diplomat who was injured in last week’s Iranian-sponsored attack in New Delhi, recounting to Indian investigators that a terrorist riding a motorcycle planted a bomb on her vehicle that exploded 30-40 seconds later. Koren, whose condition is stable, was transported last weekend to Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv. (Jerusalem Post, February 17.)


Iran today has the technical, scientific and industrial capability to eventually produce nuclear weapons. While international pressure on Iran has increased…we assess that Tehran is not close to agreeing to abandon its nuclear program.”—Lt.-Gen. Ronald Burgess, director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, to the Senate Armed Services Committee, confirming that mounting international pressure on Iran has not persuaded the Mullahs to consider aborting the country’s nuclear program. (Jerusalem Post, February 17.)


I’m confident that they understand our concerns, that a strike at this time would be destabilizing and wouldn’t achieve their long-term objectives.… I understand that Israel has national interests that are unique to them…[but] we have not concluded that Iran is an existential threat.…”—US Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, downplaying the Iranian threat to the Jewish state, and reiterating the US’ position that talk of military strikes against Tehran’s nuclear program is “premature.” (CNN, February 20.)

We estimate that in 2-3 years they will have inter-continental ballistic missiles that can reach the east coast of America. Their aim is clearly not only to be able to threaten Israel and the Middle East, but to put a direct nuclear ballistic threat to Europe and to the United States of America.”—Israeli Finance Minister, Yuval Steinitz, in a CNBC interview, claiming Iran is investing billions of dollars to develop inter-continental ballistic missiles that can reach the United States. (Jerusalem Post, February 22.)


Our strategy now is that if we feel our enemies want to endanger Iran’s national interests…we will act without waiting for their actions.”—Mohammad Hejazi, the deputy head of the Islamic Republic’s armed forces, warning that Iran will take pre-emptive action against its enemies if the country feels threatened. (Haaretz, February 21.)


Over at The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg says that the ‘most consequential news from the Middle East today’ is Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s promise to keep oil prices under $100 a barrel. Why does this matter? Argues Goldberg: ‘Because it clears the way for an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. I’m not suggesting coordination between Israel and Saudi Arabia on this.… I’m merely noting that one factor that inhibits Israel from striking at Iran is fear that an attack will cause…oil prices to skyrocket, which would, of course, generate a fair amount of anger directed against Israel.’
The ‘blame Israel first’ crowd continues to interpret the Iran-US crisis as an example of a sinister Israel lobby pushing the US into a war to serve the ambitions of the Jewish state. Not only does this analysis miss the vital US interests at stake in the region and the threat Iran poses to a balance of power the United States needs, it misses the reality that for several years now some of the strongest, most consistent pressures on Washington to act against Iran have come from the Arab world.… But the blame Israel firsters don’t care; if we have a war with Iran they will know who to blame.
”—Walter Russell Mead, in “Saudis Sing It Too: Bomb, Bomb Iran.” (American Interest, February 7.)


We see neighborhoods shelled indiscriminately, hospitals used as torture centers, children as young as 10 years old killed and abused. We see almost a certain [sic] crimes against humanity.”—UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, accusing Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime of perpetrating crimes against humanity, and calling on Syrian authorities to “stop killing their own people.” (Jerusalem Post, February 16.)


To the extent that the Obama administration associates with these bigots, they’re going to lose a lot of support among Christians, Jews and others who think that American support for Israel is in the best interest of the United States.… There is not enough room under the big tent for people like me…and the bigots of Media Matters.… I could not vote for anyone who has anything to do with Media Matters, that’s clear.… That’s like asking me to vote for Hezbollah or asking me to vote for Hamas.… I won’t do it.… [Obama] has to terminate any association with Media Matters and with the intellectual thugs who are behind it.”—Alan Dershowitz, a key supporter of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential bid, announcing he will not vote to re-elect the President unless Obama severs his intimate ties with the controversial anti-Israel group Media Matters. (Contentions, February 15.)


Five rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel [on February 15]. Thirty-two rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel since the beginning of 2012. These are acts of war. Why is it acceptable for the people of Gaza to fire rockets at civilians, schools and hospitals instead of building for themselves a peaceful society? And why does the media ignore it?”—CIJR supporter, David M. Sherman, strongly denouncing the ongoing, indiscriminate firing of rockets at Israeli population centers by Palestinians in Hamas-ruled Gaza.


Adele, the big-voiced British singer-songwriter-guitarist, spoke a highly insensitive ethnic slur while trying to joke with the crowd during her show at Massey Hall in Toronto in 2009. She was telling a story about how she had bought two guitars from ‘a rude Toronto pawn-shop owner’ earlier in the day. ‘He wasn’t Canadian—he was Jewish,’ she said, before realizing that statement was incredibly offensive to Jews in the audience.… If Adele had said: ‘He wasn’t Canadian—he was black,’ I suspect the media and public response would have been quite different. Somehow, in recent years, it’s become acceptable to disparage Jews in public, and we are all to blame for allowing it to just happen.…”—Ronna Rubin, in “Rolling in the Racism,” describing Grammy-award-winning singer Adele’s anti-Semitic comment during a 2009 concert in Toronto. (National Post, February 14.)


Phillip and Dorothy are probably the oldest olim [immigrant] couple that the State of Israel has ever absorbed, and they are proof that it is never too late to fulfill your dream and make such a significant decision in life.”—Erez Halfon, vice chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, a group that facilitates Jewish immigration to Israel, congratulating Phillip and Dorothy Grossman, ages 95 and 93, respectively, the oldest married couple ever to move to Israel. Phillip and Dorothy have been together for 71 years. (Jerusalem Post, February 14.)


Short Takes


SINGAPORE ASSASSINATION PLOT AGAINST BARAK FOILED—(Jerusalem) According to Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida, a plot to assassinate Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was foiled by Singaporean authorities during his visit to the country last week. The report claims that information regarding the plan was forwarded by the Mossad to security officials in Singapore, who then arrested three members of a Hezbollah-Iranian terror cell in connection with the plot. Al Jarida alleges that the cell was in possession of accurate information on Barak’s schedule and that it planned to assassinate the Defense Minister at his hotel. Following last week’s attacks in Georgia, India, and Thailand, Israel’s Counter-terrorism Bureau believes that Iran and Hezbollah are still trying to target Israeli and Jewish targets abroad. (Jerusalem Post, February 16 & 17.)


IAEA: TEHRAN TALKS FAILED TO SECURE AGREEMENT—(Vienna) The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, has announced its failure to secure an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program during a two-day inspection earlier this week, the second such visit in less than a month. The IAEA also said in a statement that “During both…round[s] of discussions, the agency team requested access to the military site at Parchin, [but] Iran did not grant permission for this visit to take place.” According to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, “It is disappointing that Iran did not accept our request.… We engaged in a constructive spirit, but no agreement was reached.” Amano’s spokesperson, Gill Tudor, made clear that no further meetings between the IAEA and Tehran are planned. (Reuters, February 22.)


UN ASSEMBLY ADOPTS RESOLUTION CONDEMNING SYRIA—(United Nations) The 193-nation UN General Assembly has overwhelmingly approved a non-binding resolution that “fully supports” an Arab League plan calling for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step aside. The resolution, similar to the one Russia and China vetoed in the Security Council on February 4, received 137 votes in favor; Russia and China again were among countries, including Iran, North Korea and Venezuela, opposing the resolution. Unlike in the Security Council, there are no vetoes in the General Assembly, and its decisions lack the legal force of council resolutions. Nevertheless, the resolution condemns Damascus for “widespread and systematic violations of human rights,” calls for the withdrawal of Syrian forces from cities, and sets the stage for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to appoint a special envoy to Syria. (Reuters, February 17.)


U.S. POINTS TO AL QAEDA’S ROLE IN SYRIA UNREST—(Washington) According to U.S. intelligence officials, al Qaeda operatives are aiding the Syrian opposition. James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, confirmed at a Senate hearing last week that recent attacks in the cities of Damascus and Aleppo, “had all the earmarks of an al Qaeda-like attack…[and that] al Qaeda in Iraq is extending its reach into Syria.” US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the crisis in Syria has become “that much more serious,” and that “it does raise concerns for [the U.S.] that al Qaeda is trying to assert a presence there.” (Wall Street Journal, February 17.)


IDF FEARS SYRIA ATTACK AS PRESSURE BUILDS ON ASSAD—(Jerusalem) Concern is mounting within the Israel Defense Forces over the possibility that Syria will attack the Jewish state as pressure mounts on President Bashar Assad to step down. According to reports, the IDF’s Northern Command has drawn up a number of operational responses to a range of scenarios that could evolve along the northern front. Last week, the IDF Spokesman’s Office released pictures of OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan and commander of the Northern Corps Maj.-Gen. Gershon Hacohen touring Mount Hermon and looking toward Syria. Israeli media interpreted the move as evidence the IDF is preparing for attacks along the border. (Jerusalem Post, February 16.)


EGYPT SETS TRIAL DATE FOR PRO-DEMOCRACY WORKERS—(Cairo) According to Egyptian media, the trial of 43 people charged with unlawfully conducting pro-democracy work in Egypt will begin Feb. 26. The announcement of a trial date for the defendants, including at least 16 Americans, came as the state-run newspaper, al-Ahram, published several stories portraying the work of non-government, pro-democracy organizations in Egypt as a threat to the country’s sovereignty. Al-Ahram also reported that Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had unsuccessfully lobbied Egyptian officials during a recent visit to release the Americans under indictment into his custody. Egyptian authorities continue to resist pressure from Washington to drop the charges despite warnings that $1.5 billion in yearly aid could be cut. (Washington Post, February 18.)


OBAMA TO SEEK WAIVER ON UNESCO FUNDING BAN—(Washington) The Obama administration has appealed to Congress to waive a ban on funding UNESCO over its recognition of Palestinian statehood. According to a footnote in the budget that the White House submitted to Congress this month, “The [US] Department of State intends…to seek legislation that would provide authority to waive restrictions on paying the US assessed contributions to UNESCO.” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, immediately opposed the motion, affirming that “Any effort to walk back this funding cutoff [would] pave the way for the Palestinian leadership’s unilateral statehood scheme to drive on, and send a disastrous message that the US will fund UN bodies no matter what irresponsible decisions they make.” US funding for UNESCO was halted late last year because of American laws banning contributions to any international organization that recognizes Palestinian statehood in the absence of a peace agreement with Israel. (JTA, February 16.)


US ARRESTS SUSPECT IN CAPITOL SUICIDE ATTACK PLOT—(Washington) An illegal immigrant from Morocco has been arrested for allegedly plotting to carry out a suicide attack on the US Capitol, the Washington building that houses Congress. According to US Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd, Amine El Khalifi, 29, was arrested while wearing an explosive vest that “had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement and posed no threat to the public.” US officials said the arrest capped a lengthy undercover operation in which the suspect thought he was dealing with members of al-Qaida. El Khalifi also considered as targets a federal building in Alexandria, Virginia, a restaurant and a synagogue. (Reuters, February 17.)


CANADIAN JOURNALIST’S ISRAEL REPORTING BIASED—(Toronto) The ombudsman for Radio-Canada, the French-language arm of Canada’s state broadcaster, has denounced journalist Ginette Lamarche’s reporting on Israel as biased and inaccurate. Ombudsman Pierre Tourangeau found that Lamarche used unverified facts and a lack of “diversity of opinion” in her coverage, leading him to overturn Radio-Canada’s earlier dismissal of complaints from Honest Reporting Canada that Lamarche often failed to show balance, impartiality, and accuracy as required by Canadian journalistic standards. (JTA, February 20.)


ENVOYS TO FIGHT ISRAEL APARTHEID WEEK ON CAMPUS—(Jerusalem) Israel’s Public Diplomacy Ministry is sending 100 Israelis abroad to represent and defend the state during Israel Apartheid Week. The “Faces of Israel” mission, which leaves this weekend, includes Arabs, artists, experts in national security, gay people, and immigrants from Ethiopia. The participants in the project have undergone several weeks of training in the Ministry, and will visit dozens of college campuses worldwide to battle the “apartheid” label. According Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein, “Most of those who hate Israel have the same disease: ignorance.” Accordingly, the mission’s participants were chosen to show that Israel has a diverse society that values equality and human rights. (Jerusalem Post, February 19.)


JEWISH GROUPS SLAM ANTI-SEMITISM IN VENEZUELA PRESIDENTIAL RACE—(New York) Jewish groups have condemned Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for anti-Semitic attacks on the opposition’s presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski. Capriles, the grandson of Holocaust surviviors, was raised Catholic and describes himself as a fervent Catholic despite the fact his maternal grandmother was Jewish. Nonetheless, a column published last week on the website of state-run Venezuela National Radio said Capriles “has a platform opposed to our national and independent interests” and called on citizens to reject “international Zionism” by re-electing Chavez. Likewise, Chavez last week in a televised speech compared Capriles to a pig and accused him of hiding his ideological leanings. The Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center in separate statements called on Chavez and his supporters to refrain from using anti-Semitism as a political tool. (JTA, February 21.)


ANNE FRANK BAPTIZED IN MORMON PROXY RITUAL—(New York) According to reports, Anne Frank has been baptized in a Mormon proxy ritual, at least the third Holocaust victim discovered to have been baptized posthumously this month. The ceremony, discovered by Helen Radkey, a former member of the Mormon church who has become a whistleblower on such activity, allegedly took place last weekend in a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple in the Dominican Republic. Posthumous baptism, also known as “baptism for the dead,” allows members of the church to stand in for the deceased to offer them a chance to join the movement in the afterlife. Earlier this month, it was discovered that the parents of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal also were posthumously baptized, and that the names of the father and grandfather of Elie Wiesel had been submitted for the ritual as well. In an interview last week, Wiesel called on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to tell his church to stop performing the practice on Holocaust victims. (JTA, February 22.)


AUTHOR WINS $100,000 PRIZE FOR JEWISH HISTORY BOOK—(Jerusalem) The Jewish Book Council has awarded Gal Beckerman the 2012 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for authoring “When They Come for Us We’ll Be Gone,” a history of Jews in the Soviet Union. The Rohr prize, which honors “an author’s potential to make significant contributions to Jewish literature,” comes with a $100,000 award. This year’s runner-up was Abigail Green’s “Moses Montefiore.” (Haaretz, February 16.)


NEARLY 3 OF EVERY 4 AMERICANS VIEW ISRAEL FAVORABLY, POLL FINDS—(Washington) According to a recent Gallup poll, Israel is the eighth most-favored country by Americans, with 71 percent of Americans—a three-point increase over last year’s results—viewing Israel favorably. In addition, the poll found that Americans rated Iran as the least favored country, with 87 percent of Americans viewing the Islamic Republic unfavorably. Canada was the most highly favored country at 96 percent. (JTA, February 22.)