Month: May 2012


Peter Goodspeed

National Post, May 28, 2012

The massacre of the children of Houla and their families has deepened the sense of crisis in Syria, but the United Nations is unlikely to do anything about it.

Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan arrived in Damascus Monday for yet another round of emergency talks on his tattered and bullet-riddled six-week old UN peace plan. With only 271 of the 300 observers in place, the undersized, under-resourced and virtually impotent UN Mission in Syria has been unable to do much. The ceasefire at the heart of the plan never took hold: Syrian security forces continue to target and kill dissidents [and] rebel guerrillas remain active.…

The killings in Houla took place only 20 kilometres from a UN observer post in the blood-stained city of Homs. When Syrian troops began their nine-hour artillery and tank assault last Friday, activists in Houla pleaded with the UN peacekeepers to come to the town, in the hope their presence might protect residents. But the UN observers only arrived Saturday, in time to count the bodies. That has infuriated rebel leaders, who say the Houla massacre carries the stench of Srebrenica in 1995, when UN peacekeepers looked on helplessly as more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were slaughtered.

Monday, Mr. Annan, who was in charge of UN peacekeeping operations during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, could do little more than…call the Houla killings a “flagrant violation” of international law and Syria’s commitment to a ceasefire, [before] urg[ing] the Syrian government “to take bold steps to signal that it is serious in its intention to resolve this crisis peacefully.” Everyone is calling for an investigation into the killings. Nothing much has changed.…

Russia and China have repeatedly given the regime of President Bashar al-Assad the political cover it needs to unleash security forces to crush all dissent. Ever conscious of their vulnerabilities at home, Chinese officials advocate a policy of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states, while Russia regards Syria as its only real ally in the Middle East and depends on Damascus for Mediterranean basing rights for its navy. Russia is also Syria’s top weapons supplier. The day of the Houla massacre, a Russian-owned cargo ship, Professor Katsman, reportedly arrived in the Syrian port of Tartus, where it unloaded military equipment and ammunition.…

The real lesson of the Houla massacre therefore may be that in the absence of any effective UN action, Syria is doomed to suffer a prolonged and bloody civil war that could degenerate into a regional conflict.…


Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2012

The United Nations Security Council on Sunday condemned Syria’s government for the killing of 108 people, mostly women and children, in Houla last Friday. But the condemnation was incomplete: It should have included the Security Council itself for providing the diplomatic cover that has let the Assad government continue its killing.

Thanks to Russia and China, the Security Council has failed to impose any serious sanctions on Syria, much less endorse action to help the opposition amid thousands of deaths. That’s bad enough. But in April the U.N. turned to aiding and abetting the regime with its mission to send Kofi Annan to Damascus as a special “peace” envoy.

Mr. Annan, who as a former U.N. Secretary-General is perfectly trained for the role of accommodating dictators, brokered a cease-fire that he said Syria’s Bashar Assad promised to obey. As was widely predicted at the time, Mr. Annan’s truce succeeded only in buying time for the Assad regime to crush rebel havens in Homs and elsewhere and now to perpetrate the massacre in Houla.

On Monday, Mr. Annan made another trip to Damascus and proclaimed himself “personally shocked and horrified by the tragic incident in Houla.” Nice to know. He also called on “every individual with a gun” to disarm and stop the killing, which continues the moral equivalence that equates systematic shelling of civilian neighborhoods with small-arms resistance to organized military assaults. The U.N. is every bit as complicit in the Houla murders as it was when its blue-helmet Dutch peacekeepers stood by and did nothing as the Serbs massacred thousands of Bosnians in Srebrenica in 1995.

The Obama Administration signed onto the Annan mission as an excuse not to have to organize a coalition of the willing outside the U.N. to intervene in Syria. Bill Clinton was finally shamed into going around the U.N. in Bosnia in the 1990s, but Mr. Obama’s main goal seems to be to get past the election without again having to use American military force.

In a news leak on the weekend, White House aides let it be known that their latest strategy is to coax the Russians into agreeing to help ease Mr. Assad from power while preserving the bulk of the regime. It isn’t clear why the Russians would suddenly decide to throw over their last client in the Middle East. Nor it clear why a successor regime in Damascus, presumably still run by Allawites, would be any more likely to accommodate the largely Sunni opposition.

For months, we’ve been told that the U.S. and the West can’t intervene in Syria because it might lead to civil war, because the turmoil might spread in the region, and because we don’t know who might replace Mr. Assad. Well, civil war is breaking out anyway, the mayhem is spreading to Lebanon, and the bloodier things get the more likely that Syria will descend into a chaos that empowers the most radical elements.

At least in Libya, Mr. Obama eventually led from behind. In Syria, he’s following from behind a United Nations that has become an accomplice of Bashar Assad.


Washington Post, May 21, 2012

NATO’S “victory” in Libya, senior U.S. officials recently wrote, was a “model intervention,” a “teachable moment.” “The first lesson is that NATO is uniquely positioned to respond quickly and effectively to international crises,” the U.S. ambassador to NATO, Ivo H. Daalder, and NATO’s supreme allied commander, Adm. James G. Stavridis, wrote in the March-April issue of Foreign Affairs.

But what was it a model for? Not Syria, apparently; to read the article by Mr. Daalder and Adm. Stavridis, it’s not clear why not. NATO responded rapidly to a “deteriorating situation”—sounds like Syria—“that threatened hundreds of thousands of civilians”—check—“rebelling against an oppressive regime”—no daylight there. The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has killed some 10,000 civilians since peaceful pro-democracy protests began 15 months ago.

If anything, NATO has more of an interest in defusing Syria’s crisis than Libya’s. Turkey, a NATO member, is on Syria’s border and has seen violence spill into its territory. Other nations are threatened, too; [two weeks ago] a cleric sympathetic to Mr. Assad’s opponents was assassinated in Lebanon. Libya is of modest strategic importance, while the fall of the Assad regime, Iran’s major ally in the Arab world, would have strategic benefits for the United States, Israel and everyone else working to keep Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

And yet, at [this month’s] summit of NATO leaders in Chicago…Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen explained, “We are very much concerned about the situation of Syria,” but the alliance has “no intention whatsoever to intervene.” What happened to the “teachable moment,” just one year old?

There’s a hint in the Foreign Affairs article: “The United States facilitated this rapid international reaction,” the authors boast. In truth…the Libyan action would not have taken place without the promise of substantial U.S. support. On Syria, that promise is missing.…

President Obama and his allies cannot shirk this issue indefinitely. As Syria burns, the Libya “victory” rings increasingly hollow.

Elliott Abrams

National Review, May 29, 2012

“International Pressure On Syria Grows After Killings,” a New York Times headline read this week. The killings in question are the massacres perpetrated [in Houla] last weekend by the Assad regime’s soldiers and the rabble called the “shabiha.…”

But what is the “pressure” to which the Times referred? First is the return to Syria of Kofi Annan, whose “peace plan” has provided a useful façade behind which Assad could continue killing and various governments…could hide while wringing their hands. Annan is back, but what can he do? How many legions has a former secretary general? Does anyone believe that Kofi Annan scares Bashar Assad?

Second is the coordinated expulsion of Syrian diplomats by many governments [including the US and Canada]. This is symbolic of our disgust with last weekend’s killings, officials around the world have said. And that is precisely correct: The expulsions are symbolic. They do not hurt Assad nor do they help the Syrian people bring his bloody regime to an end any more than visits by Kofi Annan do.

In February US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said about the killings in Syria that “world opinion is not going to stand idly by.” Three months later, it is.… President Obama, for example, [recently] made a high-minded speech at the Holocaust Museum and announced formation of a new “Atrocities Prevention Board.” Bad timing, as he watches the atrocities occur in Syria and does so very little to prevent them. “The Syrian people still brave the streets,” he said.… “They have not given up, which is why we cannot give up.” More accurately, we cannot “give up” because we have hardly done anything to “give up.”

Why not? The real reason may well be the coming election: It seems the White House is avoiding any entanglements that might undercut the President’s ability to trumpet the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq and, soon, Afghanistan. The stated reason for failing to help the opposition is that we do not know them and/or they are infiltrated by jihadis. If today, 15 months into this rebellion, we do not know the rebels, that’s a remarkable intelligence failure that can only reflect a policy decision not to know them.…

There are two possible outcomes in Syria’s civil war: Assad wins, by killing enough people to crush the rebellion, in which case Iran and Syria (and the regime’s armorers in Russia) have a great victory. From this, dictators everywhere would learn that [former strongman in Tunisia] Ben Ali and [deposed Egyptian president] Mubarak had it all wrong and simply failed to kill enough protesters. Or, Assad loses, and with him Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia lose.

This latter result does not require American troops or planes, but does require American leadership.…

Barry Rubin

Pajamas Media, May 29, 2012

Some of my readers are unhappy that I keep criticizing President Barak Obama and his government. The problem, however, is that this administration keeps doing terrible things in the Middle East.… Here’s the latest such item: “U.S. Hopes Assad Can Be Eased Out with Russia’s Aid,” by Helene Cooper and Mark Landler, in the New York Times.

For almost three years, Obama insisted he would win over the Syrian dictatorship and make it America’s friend rather than Iran’s number-one ally. That was ludicrous. Forced by the ongoing uprising to back away from Damascus, the Obama Administration has spent more than a year bumbling about what to do.

The U.S. government’s main activity was to entrust to the Turkish Islamist regime the job of forming an umbrella Syrian opposition leadership. Not surprisingly, Ankara pursued its own interest by assembling a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated group, the Syrian National Congress. Though several members resigned, complaining of the radical Islamist control, the Obama Administration is still trying to force hostile oppositionists to join.

Now a new and equally terrible policy is unveiled. I’ll let the New York Times’ reporters explain it: “President Obama will push for the departure of President Bashar al-Assad under a plan that calls for a negotiated political settlement that would satisfy Syrian opposition groups but that could leave remnants of Assad’s government in place. The success of the plan hinges on Russia, one of Assad’s staunchest allies, which has strongly opposed his removal. Obama, administration officials said, will press the proposal with President Putin of Russia at their meeting next month. Obama’s national security adviser raised the plan with Putin in Moscow three weeks ago.”

Good grief! There are four different acts of strategic insanity involved in this paragraph. They are:

1. “A negotiated political settlement that…could leave remnants of Assad’s government in place.” The Syrian dictatorship is led by murderous thugs who know this is a case of kill or be killed. They aren’t going to give up any of their power. And why should they since they think they’re winning and may well be right. They know the outside world won’t do anything, despite the regime having killed around 10,000 civilians.

2. “A negotiated political settlement that would satisfy Syrian opposition groups.…” The opposition is not so foolish as a Washington pundit, policymaker, or politician. They know that their only hope is to destroy the regime entirely. The democrats want to do so in order to have a modern democracy. The Islamists want Islamism. The Kurds and Druze want autonomy.… If anyone in Syria might favor such a plan it’s the Muslim Brotherhood, which has toyed with the idea of using such a transition period to strengthen its own hand. So the idea cannot succeed but reveals once again that the Obama Administration seems to get many of its strategies from the Muslim Brotherhood.…

3. “The success of the plan hinges on Russia, one of Assad’s staunchest allies, which has strongly opposed his removal.” Just think about that sentence: The Obama Administration wants to depend on a country that’s disdainful of U.S. interests, wants to sabotage them, and is on the opposite side! The president wants to ask a country that is “strongly opposed” to Assad’s removal to remove Assad!

4. And finally, equally amazingly, “Obama, administration officials said, will press the proposal with President Putin of Russia at their meeting next month.…” It’s Obama, not Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who is pushing this plan to put Russia in control! If your enemy tries to fool or cheat you, that’s a problem. If you beg him and hand him the means to do so, that’s a betrayal of U.S. interests.

To summarize, the Obama policy shows three characteristics that have wider implications for the president’s strategies. It favors Islamist enemies; it “leads from behind” by giving the initiative to those who wish America no good; and it shows no interest in helping genuinely pro-American moderates who are fighting for their lives. And that, friends, is why I spend so much time bashing Obama’s Middle East policy, because it is so very bad and dangerous.…

Kenneth Bandler

Jerusalem Post, May 28, 2012

Impasses can engender complacency. That is precisely the danger underlying the current international positioning regarding Syria and Iran. President Bashar Assad’s dubious assent to a cease-fire and Iran’s talks with world powers over its nuclear program are the latest tactic of these two allies to resist mounting economic and diplomatic pressures.

Both regimes have gained some reprieve. Further action on Syria awaits the outcome of the UN observer mission. What more to do with Iran is on hold ahead of a third round of talks with the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany, known as the P5 + 1 group.

Yet, while world powers ponder what to do with these two recalcitrant regimes, neither Damascus or Tehran is changing its behavior or goals. In Syria, the costs in human suffering are rising far above the UN estimate of 9,000 dead. The quest for Iranian nuclear weapons capability advances as more centrifuges are installed to expand uranium enrichment.

Assad’s ostensible acceptance of Kofi Annan’s cease-fire plan did not come from the merciless Syrian dictator. It was announced by the former UN secretary general’s spokesman. Yet, the plan’s doom was foretold when Assad’s forces continued to pummel Syrian cities during Annan’s visit to Damascus in March.… Now, Assad has demonstrated again that he has no interest in ending his 15-month-old brutally violent crackdown. The weekend massacre of more than 100 in Houla was a particularly bloody outrage. It also was a reminder that Assad forces began assaulting the Syrian people by arresting and torturing schoolchildren in March 2011.

As long as Assad continues to ignore the cease-fire he allegedly accepted, the Annan plan will remain fanciful. And the observers’ mission, born out of the failure of the UN Security Council, due to Russia’s and China’s opposition, to adopt meaningful action, will continue to be ineffectual. The UN should reconsider, admit failure, remove the international monitors and regroup with stronger action.

Most disappointing for the Syrian opposition, international pressure on Assad has been steadily weakening. Nowadays, there is barely a mention of Assad’s need to step down, which was the call to action issued by the US and the European Union in the summer and fall of 2011.…

Iran’s record of deceit is similar to Syria. Tehran has ignored four UN Security Council resolutions, International Atomic Energy Agency reports, and ever-tightening economic and financial sanctions imposed by the US, EU and many other countries. Meeting in Istanbul on April 13, and again last week in Baghdad, the P5 + 1 group spent a lot of time talking with Iran but no agreements were reached other than to convene again in a few weeks in Moscow.…

The status quo in Iran and Syria, however, is unacceptable and poses security threats beyond their respective borders. The international community, led by the US, will need to make clear that patience is not limitless.… In short, complacency is not an option.

(Kenneth Bandler is the American Jewish Committee’s director of media relations.)


Media-ocrities of the Week


We won’t agree to recognize something called the Jewish state.”—Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in an interview with Lebanon’s An-Nahhar, reiterating his refusal ever to recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, and threatening that unless “new ideas” are presented to revive the peace process, the Palestinians again “will go to the United Nations to extract a seat for ‘Palestine’ as a non-member state.” (Jerusalem Post, May 24.)


The [rebirth of Israel constitutes the] greatest theft in history…the most criminal act that humanity has ever seen…[the establishment of a] fascist state upon the ruins of the Palestinian people, which has suffered the greatest and ugliest ethnic cleansing known to modern history. We remember you, all of Palestine. You are present within us…until we return to you, oh Haifa, Acre, and Jaffa.… All the temporary ones [Israelis] will go away.… May their independence collapse, and may Palestine come back to life.”—Excerpt of a May 15 article in the official Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, commemorating the founding of the modern state of Israel as a “Nakba”—catastrophe—and reiterating the Palestinian leadership’s commitment to eradicating the Jewish state. (Palestinian Media Watch, May 24.)


Hundreds organized a sit-in…to protest the planting of fake Jewish graves south of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem.… Protesters expressed anger at the deliberate falsification of the Arab-Islamic and Christian history of the city of Jerusalem.… Deputy Head of [Hamas], Sheikh Kamal Al-Khatib, said that occupation authorities seek to steal the land’s history and the geography [by] convincing the world that Jerusalem [has] contain[ed] Jewish graves for hundreds of years.…”—Excerpt of an article published in Al Qassam, the media outlet of Hamas’ armed wing, claiming Israel is “trying to legitimize its presence [in Jerusalem] by planting fake graves to show that it is the land of Jews.” (Independent Media Review and Analysis, May 29.)


Weekly Quotes


We will maintain intensive contacts with our Iranian counterparts to prepare a further meeting in Moscow.”—European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, following two days of fruitless nuclear negotiations between world powers and Iran in Baghdad, announcing that both sides have committed to meeting again in Moscow on June 18-19. Despite not reaching any formal agreements in Baghdad, which followed an earlier round of unsuccessful talks in Istanbul in April, Ashton justified the decision to continue the diplomatic track by invoking “Iran’s readiness to address the issue of 20 percent [uranium] enrichment.” (Reuters, May 24.)


“We have no reason to cede on 20 percent.”—Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, rejecting the possibility of halting uranium enrichment to 20% purity. He also indicated that Iran would not abide by a second key Western demand, granting the International Atomic Energy Agency access to the Parchin military site—at which the IAEA suspects Iran of engaging in nuclear weapons development—as “reasons and document[ation] have still not been presented by the agency to convince [Tehran] to give permission for this visit.” (Jerusalem Post, May 27.)


As we lay the groundwork for these talks, we will keep up the pressure as part of our dual-track approach. All of our sanctions will remain in place and continue to move forward during this period.”—U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, announcing there will be no easing of sanctions against Iran prior to next month’s talks in Moscow. (Reuters, May 24.)


This approach of pressure concurrent with negotiations will never work. These countries should not enter negotiations with such illusions and misinterpretations.”—Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, warning Western countries that pressuring Tehran with sanctions while engaged in nuclear talks will jeopardize chances of reaching an agreement. (Reuters, May 29.)


Israel is blessed to be a nation possessing superior technology. These achievements of ours open up all kinds of possibilities.”—Israeli Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon, in what Israeli media is interpreting as an insinuation to Israel’s involvement in the creation of the “Flame” computer virus, the latest piece of malicious software to attack Iranian installations. Dubbed “the ultimate spy,” Flame is the third major cyber weapon directed against Iran, after Stuxnet in 2010 and more recently its data-stealing cousin Duqu. (Jerusalem Post, May 29.)


This is not an imaginary fixation of mine or anyone else’s. You can hear it directly from the leaders of the Iranian regime, and you can see the actual steps they are taking to create the weapons of mass destruction for that end. That is what is similar between today and previous ages where the hatred of the Jews permeated parts of humanity. [The difference, however,] is that today we have a state to protect ourselves.…”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, imploring the international community to take at face value the genocidal threats against Israel emanating from Iran, while reassuring the Jewish people that the existence of the State of Israel has “transformed the Jewish condition. For generations we were totally helpless against this kind of incitement, hatred and violence. Today we are not helpless.” (Jerusalem Post, May 25.)


We took this action [to expel Syrian chargé d’affaires Zuheir Jabbour] in response to the massacre in the village of Houla—an absolutely indefensible, vile, despicable massacre against innocent children and women, shot at point-blank range by regime thugs, the shabiha, and aided and abetted by the Iranians, who were actually bragging about it over the weekend.”—US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, “holding the Syrian government responsible” for last Friday’s slaughter of more than 100 civilians in the Syrian town of Houla. [The deputy head of Iran’s Quds Force publicly confirmed on Saturday the Islamic Republic’s role in training and assisting the Syrian forces which perpetrated the Houla assault—Ed.] (Wall Street Journal, May 30.)


We palpably feel the Zionist regime’s hand in Syria’s internal developments. Any crime committed [in Syria] can be traced back to the regime’s hirelings.”—Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, blaming Israel for the Houla massacre. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, May 29.)


We believe consideration in the Security Council of any new measures to influence the situation now would be premature.”—Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, describing Sunday’s nonbinding UN Security Council statement condemning the carnage in Houla as a “strong enough signal to Syria,” while reiterating Russia’s “categorical opposition to any external intervention in the Syrian conflict.” (Wall Street Journal, May 30.)


These walls built by Israel along the border with Palestine and Lebanon [and Egypt—Ed.] show that the project of ‘Greater Israel’ is over.”—Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, commemorating on Liberation Day the IDF’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000, and calling Israel’s construction of walls along three of its borders a testament to the victory of armed “resistance groups.” (Jerusalem Post, May 25.)


Israel is our closest friend and democratic ally in the Middle East. Adding Israel to the Visa Waiver Program will boost business, tourism, and job creation here in the U.S. and enhance cultural ties between our two nations.”—U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), after introducing in conjunction with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) the Visa Waiver for Israel Act, legislation which if approved will allow Israeli nationals to enter the US as temporary visitors for tourism or business for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. (JTA, May 22.)


Sebag has been under threat for years and has bodyguards assigned to him.”—Israeli police spokesman Eran Shaked, after a bomb was discovered and successfully defused near the parking space of Nahariya mayor Jacky Sebag. (Jerusalem Post, May 21.)


We contend that modern anti-Semitism lives in the disproportionate criticism Israel receives, and the refusal to accept its right to exist. The world cannot take the words of Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran as mere rhetoric and risk appeasing these malicious actors in the same way the world appeased the Nazis.… Under our prime minister, and under this foreign minister, Canada will stand with the Jewish state and people as they struggle to protect their very right to exist.”—Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, reinforcing the steadfast support of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government for the Jewish state. (Huffington Post, May 24.)


I do not struggle with the question of whether it was worth it or not. A person’s life, any person’s life, is more valuable than anything.”—Nadav Ben-Yehuda, 24, an Israeli mountain climber who saved the life of his Turkish friend during an excursion on Everest. For his heroics, Ben-Yehuda will next month receive a Presidential Medal of Honor from Shimon Peres. (Ynet News, May 28.)


Short Takes


GAP STILL EXISTS BETWEEN ISRAEL, U.S. OVER IRAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM—(Jerusalem) Senior Israeli officials reportedly have expressed dissatisfaction to US counterparts over what they consider non-satisfactory demands made by world powers to Iran during last week’s nuclear talks in Baghdad. According to one source, “The Iranians arrived at the Baghdad talks to gain time.… They have given nothing up to this point…but gained weeks to continue their nuclear program.” The statement came a day after a US delegation, headed by U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, arrived in Israel to brief a contingent which included Defense Minister Ehud Barak about the Baghdad negotiations. Following the meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu conveyed disappointment, saying “It was expected that the world powers would ask Iran to stop all enrichment in light of the [country’s] serial violations. Instead, they are lowering their demands.” Netanyahu then reiterated Israel’s long-standing position: that Iran stop all uranium enrichment, ship its existing stockpiles outside the country, and dismantle the underground nuclear facility near Qom. (Haaretz, May 28 & Wall Street Journal, May 30.)


IAEA: IRAN BOOSTING SENSITIVE NUCLEAR CAPACITY—(Vienna) According to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest quarterly report, Iran has raised its capacity to manufacture nuclear material by 50% by installing hundreds more uranium enrichment centrifuges at its underground Fordow facility. The UN nuclear watchdog also disclosed that inspectors recently found traces of uranium at the bunkered site refined to at least 27% purity—a higher level than previously reported (20%)—raising fears that the Islamic Republic is working towards enriching uranium to 90 percent, bomb-grade material. Moreover, the report revealed evidence of “extensive activities” at Iran’s Parchin military complex, access to which has repeatedly been denied to IAEA monitors. (Reuters, May 25.)


INT’L OUTCRY OVER SYRIA MASSACRE; 109 DEAD—(Jerusalem) Multiple voices within the international community have condemned last week’s massacre by Syrian government forces of at least 109 civilians, including dozens of women and children, in the village of Houla. Initially, activists reported that the Syrian army unleashed an artillery barrage on protestors; however, the UN human rights office has since revealed that most of the victims were summarily executed. The US, Canada, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia and Turkey protested the killings by expelling Syrian envoys. Syrian state television blamed the attack on “terrorist” gangs. (Jerusalem Post, May 27 & Reuters, May 29.)


OFFICIAL EGYPT RESULTS PIT MURSI, SHAFIQ IN RUN-OFF; PROTESTORS TORCH SHAFIQ HQ—(Jerusalem) According to official results, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Mursi has won the first round of Egypt’s presidential election and will face off against ex-air force chief Ahmed Shafiq in a run-off scheduled for June 16 and 17. In response, thousands of protestors torched Shafiq’s campaign headquarters, furious that the last prime minister to serve Hosni Mubarak had advanced to the final voting stage. Analysts had predicted that a Shafiq-Mursi run-off would spark outrage, leading to a ballot box struggle between a symbol of the military-based autocracy of the last six decades and one of the emerging Islamist movements. A new Egyptian president is scheduled to be sworn in by July 1. (Jerusalem Post, May 28 & Reuters, May 29.)


SAUDI KING VOWED TO OBTAIN NUCLEAR BOMB AFTER IRAN—(Jerusalem) Former senior U.S. diplomat Dennis Ross has revealed that Saudi King Abdullah explicitly warned the U.S. in 2009 that if Iran obtains nuclear weapons Saudi Arabia will seek to do so as well. According to Ross, during a meeting with Abdullah in April of that year the Saudi monarch vowed that “If they [Iran] get nuclear weapons, we will get nuclear weapons.” Ross’ direct quote of the Saudi king is the first public affirmation by a current or former US official of the Saudi position and of the threat of a Middle East nuclear arms race if Tehran acquires an atomic bomb. It follows comments in June 2011 by Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to Washington, warning that the existence of an Iranian bomb “would compel Saudi Arabia…to pursue policies [with] possibly dramatic consequences.” This past February, the London Times quoted a “senior Saudi official” as saying Riyadh would launch a “twin-track nuclear weapons program” should Tehran realize its nuclear ambitions. (Haaretz, May 30.)


TURKISH COURT INDICTS FOUR ISRAELI MILITARY LEADERS—(Jerusalem) A Turkish court has approved indictments against four senior Israeli military figures for their alleged involvement in the 2010 raid on the Mavi Marmara, in which nine Turkish nationals were killed trying to breach Israel’s legal blockade of Gaza. Istanbul’s Seventh Criminal Court unanimously accepted the 144-page indictment, which seeks multiple life sentences for former Israeli chief of staff, Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi; former naval forces commander, Vice Adm. Eliezer Marom; former military intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin; and former head of air force intelligence, Brig. Gen. Avishai Levy. One senior Israeli official responded to the indictments by saying the Turkish government had apparently decided to kill what was left of the diplomatic relationship between the two countries. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made “very clear” to IDF soldiers and officers that “the State of Israel will always stand at your side, everywhere and everyplace. You defended us, we will defend you.” (NY Times, May 28 & Jerusalem Post, May 29.)


US SENATE DISTINGUISHES BETWEEN PALESTINIAN REFUGEES AND DESCENDANTS—(Washington) The US Senate Appropriations Committee has approved language that differentiates between Palestinian refugees alive in 1948 and their descendants. The amendment to the foreign appropriations bill, initiated by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and passed last week, requires the State Department to determine and disclose within one year the number of people “whose place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948 and who were displaced as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict; and who are descendants” of those people. According to a senior Senate aide involved in shaping the amendment, “This will have major implications for future [Israeli-Palestinian] negotiations over final status issues with regard to refugees,” as the new requirement, if heeded, would negate Palestinian efforts to leverage the “right of return” by aligning U.S. policy with Israel on the matter. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees estimates there are approximately 5 million Palestinians currently eligible for its services, whereas a mere 30,000 Palestinians would qualify under the stricter definition of refugee. (JTA, May 24.)


DOCTOR WHO HELPED U.S. FIND BIN LADEN GIVEN JAIL TERM—(Peshawar) Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped the Central Intelligence Agency uncover Osama bin Laden’s location, has been convicted of treason by a Pakistani tribal court and sentenced to 33 years in prison. In January, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed that the United States had been working with Afridi in the months before the raid on Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad. He said that the doctor had been running a hepatitis B vaccination program as a ruse to obtain DNA evidence from members of Bin Laden’s family, who were thought to be hiding in the city. Afridi’s fate has heightened tensions between Pakistan and the United States, at a time when the two countries are already at odds over reopening supply lines through Pakistan to Afghanistan. Last week, a US Senate panel voted 30-0 to cut aid to Pakistan by a symbolic $33-million, one million for each year of jail time handed to Afridi. (NY Times, May 23 & National Post, May 25.)


URI BLAU TO FACE AGGRAVATED ESPIONAGE CHARGE—(Jerusalem) Israel’s attorney-general has announced that Uri Blau, the Haaretz journalist who accepted and published classified IDF documents from former IDF OC Central Command secretary Anat Kamm, will stand trial on charges of aggravated espionage. Blau will be charged under Israel’s Penal Code, which stipulates that “if a person obtained, collected, prepared, recorded or kept secret information without authorization, but without intent to harm state security, he will face a maximum seven years in prison.” For her part, Kamm, now aged 22, is serving a four-and-a-half year prison term following her February plea-bargain conviction. (Jerusalem Post, May 30.)


OHIO MAN GETS SIX YEARS FOR PLOT TO SMUGGLE MONEY TO HEZBOLLAH—(Cleveland) An Ohio man has been sentenced to more than six years in federal prison after pleading guilty to planning to ship $200,000 to Hezbollah in Lebanon in order to target Israel. According to court records, Hor Akl, 39, a dual US-Lebanese citizen, began meeting with a man, an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in August 2009 over plans to smuggle money to Hezbollah by stuffing it inside a 2004 Chevrolet TrailBlazer and shipping the vehicle by container ship. Akl also told the informant he had previously smuggled $100,000 to Lebanon by hiding money in appliances. Hor’s wife, Amera, also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide support to a designated foreign terror group and is serving a 40-month prison sentence. (Reuters, May 21.)


IDF CENSORS VIDEO OF PALESTINIAN USING HUMAN SHIELD—(Jerusalem) The Israel Defense Forces has imposed an embargo on a video documenting a Palestinian terrorist using a woman as a human shield. The incident took place two weeks ago near the Gaza border, when seven Palestinians planting explosive devices north of Beit Lahia were intercepted by IDF soldiers. After the soldiers opened fire, one of the terrorists ran towards a group of farmers, grabbed a woman and used her as a shield until taking cover behind a building. According to an IDF spokesman, the video has been censored “for security reasons.” (Ynet News, May 27.)


WALLENBERG MONUMENT IN BUDAPEST DEFILED—(New York) Vandals have defiled a monument in Budapest to Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust. According to pictures published by Hungarian media, four or five severed pigs’ feet were strung on rope and affixed to the statue, one of them positioned by Wallenberg’s head. While a neutral Swedish diplomat in Budapest after the German occupation in 1944, Wallenberg issued Swedish travel documents—known as “Wallenberg passports”—to at least 20,000 Jews and also set up more than 30 safe houses for Jews. This year, the centenary of Wallenberg’s birth, is being marked in Hungary as Raoul Wallenberg Year. (JTA, May 23.)


CANNES CANCELS ANTI-SEMITIC FILM SCREENING—(New York) The Cannes film festival screening of “The Anti-Semite,” starring French comic Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, has been cancelled. The film, produced by the Iranian Documentary and Experimental Film Center, pokes fun at the Auschwitz concentration camp and includes a cameo appearance by Robert Faurisson, a convicted Holocaust denier. Last month, Quebec’s largest concert promoter, Evenko, cancelled four Montreal shows by Dieudonne, who has been convicted of inciting hatred in France. (JTA, May 28.)


Egypt’s first free presidential elections have flung up a shock as a military representative of the former regime will fight it out with a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. This direct clash between diametrically opposed authoritarian and religious visions of Egypt’s future firmly marginalizes the liberal and secular option. This kind of choice is absolutely not what the protestors in Tahrir Square were looking for when they toppled Mubarak’s dictatorship early last year.”—Excerpt of a Gulf News editorial, entitled “Shock in Cairo”, describing the official first-round results of Egypt’s presidential election. (Gulf News, May 28.)

Fouad Ajami

Wall Street Journal, My 25, 2012

The prevalent view that [last] week’s presidential election is Egypt’s first experiment with the ballot box is only partly true. Egyptians of a certain age knew parliamentary life and the competition of political parties. This was during the liberal interlude between 1923, when the country became independent from British rule, and 1952. In that year a cabal of young military officers led by Muhammad Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser upended the old order, abolished the monarchy—and delivered Egypt into six decades of authoritarianism.

The new men in charge disdained parliaments and political parties and banished the resident foreigners—Italians, Greeks, Armenians, Jews—who had been the driving force in the nation’s economic life. They sequestered property, and they vowed to make Egypt a dominant military power. In the process, they broke their burdened country, thwarting its bid for modernity.… Hosni Mubarak was the last centurion of that revolution.


Now two presidential candidates will face one another in a runoff scheduled for mid-June. Mohammed Morsi is an American-educated engineer and the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, which had early on indicated it would not contest the presidential election. [Egypt’s electoral commission confirmed] he came in first. His runoff opponent, Ahmed Shafiq, is a former commander of the Air Force and Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister. He ran on a platform of law and order, presented himself as a bulwark against the “forces of darkness”—the Islamists. And so it will be the Brotherhood against the feloul, the remnants of the old regime.

It is not a coincidence that this runoff is between a member of the old guard, the military-bureaucratic class, and the Muslim Brotherhood. It is rather very symbolic of Egypt today. The larger field of a dozen contenders included all the currents of the country’s political life. But to simplify, among the top five vote-getters were two Islamists and three secularists.

Amr Moussa was a diplomat with a long record as foreign minister and secretary-general of the Arab League. He had made a career of bashing Israel, but he could not sell the public on his separation from the Mubarak regime that he had served as foreign minister for years. Mr. Moussa trumpeted his secularism. But he was outflanked by Mr. Shafiq, who was unyielding in his assault on the forces of political Islam.

Rounding out the secularists was Hamdeen Sabahy, a devotee of the late Nasser, who hearkens back to the 1960s and its preference for the public sector. The labor unions and the working class in the urban world of Alexandria came out for Mr. Sabahy, so deep runs the nostalgia for Nasserism. But he was always a long shot.

Arrayed against Mohammed Morsi was Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a lapsed member of the Muslim Brotherhood with a decidedly liberal message about Islam’s “inclusiveness.” But Mr. Foutouh could not make the sale to Islamist voters. Among believers, the advantages of membership in the Brotherhood were too powerful for him to overcome.

For the Brotherhood, this election is the culmination of a dream of eight decades. Formed in 1928, it has alternated between the politics of the ballot and the resort to violence. Its founder, a plotter named Hassan al-Banna, said that the organization rested on the Quran and the gun.

The Brotherhood was dismantled and driven underground in 1954, and brutalized by the Nasser regime, but it never went away. And with Mubarak gone, it was ready: It has money and numbers, and a sense of political cunning bequeathed it by its founder, who in his time was a chameleon of supreme pragmatism and concealment. And so the Brotherhood was part of Tahrir Square—those magical 18 days that toppled Mubarak—and yet it wasn’t. It played cat-and-mouse with the armed forces and signaled its unease with the politics of mass protest.

Representing the feloul is Ahmed Shafiq. His was the appeal of the military uniform, and the promise to the Copts that his presidency was a safe alternative to the rule of the Islamists.… Mr. Shafiq [did] well among rural voters; not for them was the romance with Tahrir Square. For all the talk of an Egypt obedient to its rulers, submissive under an eternal sky, the period since Mubarak’s fall has witnessed a massive breakdown in public order. True, Mubarak had stepped aside unlamented, but the lawlessness and the rise in unemployment has offered him—and his remnants—a measure of rehabilitation.


This is a faded, burdened country that has known many false dawns. Its saving grace at so critical a time is innate skepticism of grand claims and those who make them.

Egypt is the top importer of wheat, and food and bread riots are the horror of its rulers. Since the fall of Mubarak, Egypt has run down two-thirds of its foreign currency reserves, unemployment has soared, and tourism has collapsed. A loan of $3.2 billion on offer by the International Monetary Fund, at nominal interest, is yet to be accepted, so sanctified is the principle of economic independence.

Since no would-be ruler today has a magic wand for the country’s maladies, it is perhaps no wonder that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has been so eager to cede power to a civilian government. The officer corps will protect its economic and security prerogatives—it will keep for itself the domain of security and defense, dealings with Israel and the U.S. military—but it is keen to be relieved of the burden, and the responsibility, of the economy.

In the vision of the Islamists, Egypt would be ruled by Shariah law and the secularists reined in. This cannot be sustained on Egyptian soil. Theocracies like Iran, or Saudi Arabia for that matter, rest on oil wealth, on the margin such wealth allows the rulers to mold the society. In Egypt, so dependent on foreign aid, remittances, the revenues of tourism and the kindness of strangers, a religious utopia would be undone.

Today Egypt’s social and political balance has ruptured, and the population explosion—to 80 million from 18 million in 1952—has damaged its old stability. And yet the stereotype of a (largely) cautious country on the banks of the Nile that dreads grand causes is still true.

This is not a people known for violent jihads. Egypt has been spared the kind of bloodletting that visited Lebanon, Syria and Iraq in recent decades. May it be so for years to come. This election may have had its flaws, a constitution is yet to be drafted, but the old civility still holds.

A new republic has emerged, born in Tahrir Square. Two contenders for the presidency of the republic are not creatures of that square. But this is not the first time that the fruits of a revolution were picked by those who were strangers to its exertions.

(Fouad Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.)

Eric Trager

New Republic, May 28, 2012

In the run-up to the first round of Egypt’s presidential elections, which concluded last Thursday, the Muslim Brotherhood’s downfall was widely anticipated. Only four months after winning a 47-percent plurality in the parliamentary elections, The Washington Post reported that the Brotherhood’s stock was “plunging,” while The Wall Street Journal insisted that the Brotherhood’s fortunes had “faded” due to “mounting public criticism” and “internal defections.” Pre-elections polls bolstered this storyline, pegging support for notoriously uncharismatic Brotherhood nominee Mohamed Morsi at a paltry three to nine percent, and it was widely expected that many Muslim Brothers would buck their parent organization and support ex-Brotherhood leader Abdel Monem Abouel Fotouh.

Yet reports of the Muslim Brotherhood’s demise, it seems, were greatly exaggerated: Morsi won a first-round plurality with roughly 26 percent of the vote, and will face former Mubarak regime figure Ahmed Shafik in the second round, which begins on June 16. Morsi’s strong performance, which comes despite his many deficiencies as a candidate, is a testament to the Muslim Brotherhood’s unmatched mobilizing capabilities, which have made the organization’s political dominance practically inevitable since the moment that Hosni Mubarak resigned.

It is not merely that the Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt’s “best organized” group, as many commentators frequently note. It is the only organized group, with a nationwide hierarchy that can quickly transmit commands from its Cairo-based Guidance Office (maktab al-irshad) to its 600,000 members scattered throughout Egypt. The hierarchy works as follows: The twenty-member Guidance Office sends its marching orders to deputies in each governorate (muhafaza), who communicate with their deputies in each “sector” (quita), who communicate with their deputies in each “area” (muhafaza), who communicate with their deputies in each “populace” (shoaba), who finally communicate with the leaders of each Brotherhood “family” (usra), which is comprised of five Muslim Brothers and represents the organization’s most basic unit. This chain of command is used for executing all Guidance Office decisions, including commanding Muslim Brothers to participate in protests, organize social services, and—during the most recent elections—campaign and vote for Mohamed Morsi.

There are two additional elements of the Muslim Brotherhood’s internal structure that ensure that the Brotherhood leadership’s commands are followed. First, the social lives of members are deeply embedded within the organization. Muslim Brothers meet with their five-person Brotherhood “families” at least weekly, where they study religious texts, discuss politics, organize local Brotherhood activities, and share their private lives with one another.…

Second, the very process of becoming a Muslim Brother ensures that only those who are deeply committed to the organization and its principles become full-fledged members. Indeed, becoming a Muslim Brother is an intricate five-to-eight-year process, during which each member is gradually promoted through four tiers of memberships before finally becoming a “working Brother” (ach amal).… Those who become Muslim Brothers are highly unlikely to turn their backs on an organization in which they have invested so much time and energy in joining.

Morsi’s victory in the first round of the presidential elections demonstrates the importance of these structures in determining Egypt’s political future. While other constituencies—including Egyptian Christians and Salafists—are significantly larger than the Brotherhood, none can mobilize similarly committed supporters as consistently or cohesively.…

The Brotherhood’s unmatched mobilizing capabilities suggest that, in a certain sense, it hardly matters whom they nominate for office. The gruff, uncharismatic Morsi was, after all, the Brotherhood’s “spare tire”—a reluctant understudy forced to perform after the group’s initial nominee, Khairat al-Shater, was disqualified from the elections due to a technicality. Moreover, Morsi made little attempt at reaching out to the non-Islamist public, whereas the eloquent Abouel Fotouh drew support from a broad coalition that included Salafists on the far right and socialists on the far left. But in a presidential contest featuring five major candidates, Abouel Fotouh’s broad coalition was no match for the Brotherhood’s reliable legions of foot-soldiers, who could mobilize superior get-out-the-vote efforts in every Egyptian governorate.

The Brotherhood’s disciplined infrastructure has thus put Mohamed Morsi one election away from Egypt’s presidency, and—barring massive fraud—he stands an excellent chance against former prime minister Shafik. While Shafik can count on support from Egyptian Christians and many of the rural clans that previously backed Mubarak’s ruling party, Morsi is already drawing support from many non-Islamists who fear a return to the old regime more than a Brotherhood-dominated Egypt. Moreover, early reports indicate that, faced with the choice between the autocratic Shafik and theocratic Morsi, many voters will stay home—a decision that will bolster Morsi, since low turnouts benefit well organized parties.…

(Eric Trager is the Next Generation Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.)


Jerusalem Post, May 28, 2012

Were preliminary results in Egypt’s first round of presidential elections good for the Jewish state or bad for the Jewish state?

On the positive side, there was a sharp fall in support for the Islamists. If in the parliamentary elections, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist Nour party garnered between them 75 percent of the vote, in the presidential elections the two Islamist candidates—Mohammed Mursi and Abdel Moneim Abul-Fotouh—managed to receive just 44% of the votes. This seems to indicate a public backlash against calls on the part of the Islamists to implement Islamic law.

Also, the man who garnered the second largest number of votes was Ahmed Shafiq. An Egyptian Air Force commander, a long-time aviation minister and the last prime minister under the Mubarak regime, Shafiq enjoys strong support from the Coptic Church and the liberal-minded upper-class who stand to lose most from increasing emphasis on Islamic piousness in the public realm. Shafiq has voiced his willingness to visit Israel provided the Jewish state “gives something to show it has good intentions.” He would undoubtedly maintain the peace treaty with his country and Israel.

Unfortunately, Shafiq, whose popularity is less a product of his personal attraction and more to do with the fear of the meteoric rise of extremist political Islam and concern over lawlessness, is also a defender of some of the less democratic aspects of Egyptian rule. He has close ties to big business and high-ranking military personnel and seems to endorse continuing Egypt’s much hated, 30-yearold “emergency law” allowing extrajudicial detention. In cases of emergency, his platform suggests, the application of such measures should still be exempt from parliamentary review.

Still, Shafiq is undoubtedly the best candidate from an Israeli perspective. However, it was Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, who appears to have received a slim plurality of the votes. Mursi, who has a PhD in engineering from the University of Southern California, has a track record of inflammatory statements about Israel, including repeatedly calling its citizens “killers and vampires.”

Last month, Mursi sat impassively at a Cairo stadium rally on his behalf as a radical preacher pledged to create a new Islamic caliphate based in Jerusalem, and an emcee led the crowd in chants of “Banish the sleep from the eyes of the Jews; come on, you lovers of martyrdom, you are all Hamas!” The candidate has called for the 1979 peace treaty with Israel to undergo “revisions.”

Mursi is also a proponent of basing Egyptian law on Shari’a, the religious code of Islam. He led a boycott of a major Egyptian cellphone company because its founder, Naguib Sawiris, a Coptic Christian, had circulated on Twitter a cartoon of Mickey Mouse in a long beard with Minnie in a full-face veil—a joke Mursi said insulted Islam.

In essence, in the final stage of presidential elections, slated for June, we will be witnessing a rematch of the struggle that has driven Egyptian politics for six decades, between secular authoritarians—represented by Shafiq—who vow to restore stability, and Islamists—led by Mursi—who promise a novel experiment in religious democracy.

Shafiq still has a real chance of beating the Islamist Mursi: The three non-Islamist candidates enjoyed a majority of the vote. If these votes go to Shafiq he would win. To succeed, Shafiq will have to woo most of the 20% of Egyptian voters who supported the communist-Nasserist Hamdeen Sabbahi, no easy task.

In an interview with the Iranian Fars news agency, Sabbahi said he would “tear up” the peace treaty with Israel and would not recognize a “Zionist element” that occupies Arab land. He also called to form an Egyptian-Turkish- Iranian alliance, noting relations with Iran had deteriorated “for no clear reason.” In short, Sabbahi’s supporters might be more inclined to support the Muslim Brotherhood than the pragmatic Shafiq.

And even if he succeeds beating Mursi, Shafiq will preside over a parliament controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists that can effectively marginalize him. He will also have to cater to an Egyptian society that is virulently anti-Israel.

A recent BBC poll found 85% of Egyptians hold negative views of Israel, up 7% from the year before. Under the circumstances, it is difficult to be overly optimistic about the future of Israeli-Egyptian relations.


Kress, Jeffrey S. Development, Learning, and Community: Educating for Identity in Pluralistic Jewish High Schools. (Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2012).  xi+202 pages.  ISBN: 978-1-936235-30-8.


All Jews are agreed that the Jewish future, whatever it will look like, will be keyed to the education Jews receive. What should that education be like?  Nearly all committed Jews have come to the conclusion that a day school education is ideal for maximizing a student’s Jewish identity. The inherent difficulty in day school education, however, is that at present it largely services an Orthodox clientele, and Orthodoxy, while claiming a larger share of North American Jewish public space than a few decades ago, is still a distinctly minority phenomenon among contemporary Jews.


The important thing about Jeffrey Kress’ new book is that it attempts to come to grips with the difficulties and the prospects of day school education in  a pluralistic environment that is inclusive of, and respectful toward the non-Orthodox.  It is a study of the practice of educating Jewish high school students enrolled in community day schools in order to maximize their Jewish identity.


Kress teaches at the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and from nearly the beginning of his tenure there, he found himself challenged by standard conceptualizations of “formal” versus “informal” models of education.  This challenge ultimately led him, with generous support from the AVI-CHAI Foundation, to undertake research on Pluralistic Jewish high schools, often called “community schools”, where Jewish students from a wide variety of Judaic backgrounds and beliefs are enrolled.


Specifically, the author has intensively studied three such schools, identified for purposes of the study as “Abraham”, “Isaac” and “Jacob”. The study is meant in the first place for education professionals, and parts of it are densely written in the jargon of the scholarship of education. On the other hand, the book as a whole has much to interest the general reader.


That reader will be absorbed by Kress’ “thick” descriptions of Shabbaton experiences at the three schools, where students and faculty leave their school to experience a Shabbat together in a different location.  In this Shabbaton experience, Kress, argues, formal and informal aspects of Jewish education are intermingled in interesting and important ways.


While concentrating on the Shabbaton experiences and their significance, the author touches at least briefly on many of the important issues and challenges facing these schools.  How should these schools go about addressing a broad spectrum of Jews, particularly when current sociological trends within North American Jewry speak to us of the decline of collective identity?  How can they teach this broad spectrum of students when the teachers at these community schools tend to be significantly more “traditional” than the students, if not outright Orthodox?  How can they keep the students’ attention on the community-building issues they deem of crucial importance when what students really want to discuss is “Who is the hottest guy in the school”? (p. 147) Clearly there are ambient tensions inherent in the educational process “between strong [Jewish] commitments and openness to the idea that not everyone shares these commitments” as educators try to “stack the deck…in favor of Jewish growth”. (p. 38)


In his concluding remarks, Kress wants to impress on his readers two primary notions. The first is that “[s]chools function in ways that go well beyond the cognitive learning of points of content”. The second is that “identity is described both by…what one does, thinks, feels, etc… and by…what one considers important or central to who one is.” (p. 172) It is in relation to these two primary foci that this study of community school Shabbatons attempts to map the future of Jewish education in which a holistic educational approach will not merely “provide knowledge about Judaism but also…assist in the acculturation of students as participating members of the Jewish community”. (p. 15).


Ira Robinson

Academic Fellow, CIJR

Department of Religion, Concordia University



Guy Millière, 24 mai 2012

Le 15 mai dernier, les « Palestiniens » célébraient le jour de la naqba, la catastrophe qu’est censée avoir été la création de l’État d’Israël. Nombre d’Arabes israéliens l’ont eux-mêmes célébré, montrant ainsi qu’ils sont infectés par le même venin que les Arabes de Judée-Samarie et de Gaza. Des Juifs israéliens, ce qui est beaucoup plus grave, et montre que le venin peut susciter dans certains esprits dérangés une haine de soi, ont eux aussi participé aux célébrations. Bien sûr, des journalistes européens ont parlé de la naqba, en reprenant à leur compte la narration « palestinienne ».

Ce qui doit être dit à tous ces gens est qu’ils contribuent à une imposture. Le mot naqba a été utilisé au Proche-Orient pendant une longue période pour désigner le redécoupage régional effectué lors du démantèlement de l’empire ottoman, et qui a séparé la Syrie, placée sous Mandat français, de la Syrie du Sud placée sous Mandat britannique sous le nom de Mandat palestinien.

Ce fait a été rappelé récemment par Steven Plaut dans un article appelé Happy Nakba Day, et Steven Plaut cite le livre qui décrit la naqba : c’est le livre fondateur du nationalisme arabe, The Arab Awakening de George Antonius. Cette conception de la naqba est spécieuse, mais à l’époque, Israël n’existait pas, et le « peuple palestinien » n’avait pas encore été inventé.

Ce qui doit être dit à tous ces gens qui parlent de naqba aujourd’hui est qu’ils sont, de surcroît les acteurs et les participants d’une falsification de l’histoire. Non seulement il n’y a jamais eu d’État palestinien dans la région, aussi loin qu’on remonte dans le temps, tout comme il n’y a jamais eu de « peuple palestinien » avant que ce « peuple » ne soit inventé au milieu des années 1960, mais les choses ne se sont pas passés comme elles sont décrites par les adeptes de la « cause palestinienne ».

En 1920, quand le Mandat palestinien a été institué pour (re)créer un foyer national juif au Proche-Orient, les terres du Mandat palestinien étaient peu peuplées. Un État arabe a été très vite créé (dès 1921), sur plus des trois quarts des terres du Mandat, État confié à l’un des héritiers de la dynastie chérifienne chassée de La Mecque, mais peuplé de la plus grand part des Arabes de la Syrie du Sud. Cet État est l’État arabe palestinien : qu’il soit gouverné par une dynastie monarchique venue de la péninsule arabique, bien que sa population ne soit pas venue de la péninsule arabique en même temps que lui est un problème qui ne concerne pas Israël.

Sur le territoire restant, les Britanniques ont favorisé l’immigration arabe, freiné l’immigration juive, y compris pendant la période où le Troisième Reich exterminait les Juifs en Europe, et confié le pouvoir spirituel à un fanatique antisémite qui travaillera ensuite pour Hitler, Amin Al Husseini. Cela a fait des Britanniques des complices de la Shoah et du nazisme, même s’ils l’ont combattu par ailleurs, et cela a fait d’eux les créateurs d’une situation perverse.

En 1948, quand le plan de partition du territoire restant a été voté, puis quand, les dirigeants juifs acceptant le plan de partition, Israël a vu le jour, nul dirigeant juif n’a chassé le moindre habitant arabe. Il y a eu une guerre d’extermination menée par les pays arabes de la région contre les Juifs et contre Israël. Cette guerre a échoué, comme les guerres ultérieures lancées contre Israël. On doit le souligner : Israël n’est pour rien dans ces guerres et en a été la victime.

Quand la guerre d’extermination a été enclenchée lors de la (re)naissance d’Israël, ce sont les dirigeants arabes (dont Amin Al Husseini, revenu dans la région) qui ont demandé aux Arabes vivant en Israël de partir, le temps que les Juifs soient tous tués. Les juifs n’ont pas été tous tués. Les Arabes qui sont partis l’ont fait parce que les dirigeants arabes le leur ont demandé, ou à cause de la guerre. Leur situation est de la responsabilité des dirigeants arabes et pas de celle d’Israël, qui considère, à juste titre, que partir pour ne pas être éclaboussé par le sang juif que des armées doivent venir verser, est se faire complice des armées concernées.

On doit le dire : Israël n’étant pour rien dans les guerres dont Israël a été la victime, Israël n’est pour rien dans les conséquences de la guerre déclenchée contre Israël, et donc dans le départ de milliers d’Arabes vivant sur le sol israélien en 1948-49. Le problème des « réfugiés » est un problème arabe que le monde arabe aurait dû résoudre depuis longtemps comme d’autres problèmes du même genre ont été résolus ailleurs sur terre.

C’est aussi un problème entretenu par les instances internationales : sans l’existence de l’UNWRA, il n’y aurait pas des « réfugiés » depuis plus de trois générations, il n’y aurait pas de « réfugiés » dont le nombre s’est multiplié par dix en soixante ans, et il n’y aurait pas de « réfugiés » n’ayant eu à prouver que deux années de résidence en Israël pour devenir « réfugiés ».

Le problème des « réfugiés » n’est pas une seule seconde de la responsabilité d’Israël. On peut rappeler qu’Israël a dû gérer un problème de réfugiés qui n’intéresse personne hors d’Israël : celui des réfugiés juifs chassés du monde arabe. L’invention du « peuple palestinien » et celle de la « cause palestinienne », plutôt que de contribuer à la paix et à la prospérité, a transformé les « réfugiés » arabes et les Arabes de Judée-Samarie et de Gaza en otages de la volonté du monde arabe de détruire Israël et d’exterminer les Juifs. Les otages sont devenus instruments : on leur lave le cerveau et on en fait des auteurs d’attentats et d’autres formes d’assassinat.

On doit le préciser : la prise d’otage et la transformation des otages en instruments ne sont pas la faute d’Israël, mais celle du monde arabe, celle des instances internationales qui ont créé l’UNWRA, celle des pays occidentaux qui financent le tout. Si on voulait parler en termes de catastrophes, on pourrait dire qu’il y a eu une succession de catastrophes dans la région : les décisions britanniques, l’imprégnation du monde arabe par des idées haineuses qui l’ont conduit vers l’impasse, la volonté répétée de détruire Israël et d’exterminer les Juifs, la création des « réfugiés » arabes et la perpétuation de ce statut de « réfugié », l’accroissement du nombre des « réfugiés » en question de génération en génération, l’invention du « peuple palestinien » et de la « cause palestinienne ».

Le seul fait historique qui n’ait pas été une catastrophe dans la région, strictement le seul, a été la (re)naissance d’Israël. Que les « Palestiniens » protestent contre le seul fait historique qui n’ait pas été une catastrophe dans la région et continuent à être utilisés comme des instruments de haine génocidaire est répugnant et consternant. Que nombre d’Arabes israéliens protestent eux aussi montre que l’abcès de fixation créé par l’invention du « peuple palestinien » et de la « cause palestinienne » devra se trouver vidé de sa substance.

Qui dira que la « cause palestinienne » est une imposture, et qui rappellera haut et fort comment et pourquoi le peuple palestinien a été inventé ? Que des Juifs israéliens protestent contre l’existence de leur propre pays donne la nausée. Que des journalistes européens reprennent à leur compte la narration « palestinienne » montre que nous vivons dans une époque sordide où les leçons de l’histoire ne sont plus enseignées, et où le pire peut aisément recommencer.


Laura Kam, 24 mai 2012

Le temps et l’ampleur accordés au sujet d’une éventuelle attaque militaire israélienne contre l’Iran par les médias, les équipes d’analystes, la blogosphère et les gouvernements du monde entier (sans oublier les analyses aussi abstraites que dépourvues d’intérêt sur qui parmi les ministres israéliens ou les anciens hommes politiques est pour ou contre une frappe militaire) ont détourné l’attention de la seule question vraiment importante que la communauté internationale et le public en général devraient se poser au sujet de l’Iran : que deviendrait le monde si l’Iran réussi son pari de fabriquer une arme nucléaire ?

Au vu des six résolutions du Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies exhortant l’Iran à mettre fin à son programme d’enrichissement nucléaire, il est clair que les puissances du monde partagent une vision unanime : la quête iranienne de l’arme nucléaire ne contribue point à la paix et à la sécurité mondiale, et ferait du monde un endroit considérablement moins sûr. Pour eux, il est évident que pendant des années, l’Iran a menti de façon délibérée à leur agence de surveillance nucléaire, l’AIEA, et que leur prétendu programme nucléaire civil est tout sauf « pacifique ».

La nature théologique de l’État islamiste, son soutien au terrorisme, sa violation des droits de l’homme, et son refus depuis une décennie de négocier une solution à la question nucléaire ne font qu’aggraver l’immense malaise mondial que nous ressentons tous au moment où les sanctions internationales contre l’Iran se durcissent. Quelles seraient les conséquences d’un Iran nucléaire au niveau international ?

L’existence d’une arme nucléaire en Iran aurait très certainement des effets immédiats sur des pays tels que l’Egypte, la Turquie et l’Arabie saoudite, car elle les inciterait à développer leur propre arme nucléaire, et déclencherait une course à l’armement nucléaire dans une région du monde qui deviendrait de plus en plus instable et qui revêt une importance capitale pour les intérêts des puissances économiques de la planète. 

Les efforts régionaux et internationaux constants de l’Iran pour élargir son influence (notamment ses incursions diplomatiques et économiques en Amérique latine et en Afrique) continuent d’être un facteur de déstabilisation. Partout dans la région, de l’Afghanistan à Gaza, les Iraniens sont en train d’armer et de former des groupes radicaux et fondamentalistes dont l’objectif est d’établir des régimes forts qui imposeraient l’Islam comme impératif national, sans laisser place au libre choix. Gaza et le sud du Liban sont des exemples “réussis” du développement de ce genre de régimes. 

Dans d’autres pays du monde, l’Iran soutient des organisations terroristes telles que les cellules du Hezbollah (de l’Amérique latine au Moyen-Orient en passant par l’Asie de l’Est), le Djihad islamiste palestinien (au moins jusqu’à récemment), le Hamas, ainsi que des groupes militants en Irak, tels que le Kata'ib Hzezbollah, la Brigade du jour promis et Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq. L'anée dernière en Afghanistan, le Pentagone a remonté la piste d’un achat de rockets par les Talibans jusqu’à l’Iran. Ces roquettes augmentent la force de frappe de ces combattants contre des cibles de l’OTAN et des États-Unis. L’année dernière également, les États-Unis ont confirmé l’existence d’un lien entre l'Iran et Al-Qaida, et ont accusé Téhéran de faciliter les opérations d’Al-Qaida visant à faire passer clandestinement de l’argent et des personnes depuis son territoire jusqu’aux sièges des leaders de ce groupe terroriste en Afghanistan et au Pakistan.

Ces groupes ont fait des victimes américaines, britanniques, australiennes appartenant aux forces multinationales. Parallèlement au programme nucléaire, le programme, divers et ambitieux, de développement de missiles balistiques de l’Iran continue d’avancer, selon des experts internationaux et des représentants des gouvernements d’Occident. En effet, on s’accorde à dire que l’Iran possède maintenant des missiles capables d’atteindre certaines parties de l’Europe et de la Russie. 

Selon les experts, ce n’est qu’une question de temps avant que toute l’Europe soit à la portée des missiles iraniens. Déjà en 2010, le secrétaire de la défense de l’époque, M. Robert Gates, affirmait que l'Iran est capable de lancer une attaque contre l'Europe, au moyen de "dizaines ou même de centaines" de missiles en une seule frappe. Un programme de missiles dont la portée est constamment augmentée, associé à l’existence d’une arme nucléaire, représente un scénario stratégique cauchemardesque pour l’Occident. Et, comme si ce n’était pas déjà assez, à maintes reprises et de façon ferme, le régime iranien a menacé de détruire Israël en le qualifiant de “cancer” qui doit être “extirpé”.

Téhéran a souvent utilisé les dialogues du P5 +1 (les Etats-Unis, la Chine, la Russie, la France, le Royaume-Uni et l’Allemagne) pour gagner du temps et réussir à développer son programme nucléaire. De nombreux experts et hommes politiques craignent que l’Iran, une fois de plus, ne fasse la même chose cette fois-ci. Les leaders du P5+1 et leurs négociateurs ne devraient pas oublier cette inquiétante habitude iranienne lorsqu’ils entament les négociations tant attendues avec les Iraniens à Bagdad, et lorsqu’ils en évalueront les résultats. Ils ne devront accepter aucune tactique iranienne visant à gagner du temps.

Nous espérons et prions tous pour l’adoption d’une solution négociée qui satisfera toutes les parties concernées. Mais compte tenu des expériences du passé avec l’Iran, le monde ne peut pas se permettre d’être naïf. La pression diplomatique et économique forte et toujours croissante sur le régime islamique est tout à fait justifiée, et c’est sur cette justification que le monde devrait rester concentrer.


Victor Perez, 21 mai 2012

« L’Afrique du Sud envisage d’imposer la mention «Palestine» ou «Territoires occupés» sur les produits provenant des colonies israéliennes ». Telle est la décision (1) du Ministre du Commerce Rob Davies de « permettre aux Sud-Africains qui ne soutiennent pas Israël, mais soutiennent les Palestiniens, d’identifier ces produits». En fait, complète Macdonald Netshitenzhe, directeur pour la politique et la législation commerciale au ministère sud-africain du Commerce, « la loi sur la protection du consommateur impose de ne pas induire en erreur sur la provenance exacte du produit. Si par exemple c’est un vin de Bordeaux, il ne peut pas venir de Bretagne ».

Si nul ne contestera ici les droits du consommateur, cependant il est étonnant de voir que le seul pays à subir cette discrimination est encore une fois l’état juif. Nul ne réclamera par exemple la suppression Made in China sur les produits fabriqués au Tibet. Ni sur ceux manufacturés au Kurdistan turc et définis comme produits par la Turquie. Deux exemples parmi tant d’autres qui ne préoccupent point l’Afrique du Sud, pays ayant vécu dans sa chaire la ségrégation ethnique, ni sa défense des droits des consommateurs si chère à son ministère.

 Une préoccupation exclusive donc en faveur des « Palestiniens, occupés, violentés, pillés ». Tout le mantra nécessaire à une condamnation systématique et automatique du peuple israélien. Une propagande assurant que la « Palestine » est un très vieux pays, Jérusalem une ville sainte musulmane, et les autochtones de la Judée, de la Samarie et de la bande de Gaza les « Palestiniens » d’origine.  Un ‘’peuple’’ et un ‘’pays’’ qui n’ont pourtant comme passé que l’histoire construite par la propagande depuis 1967. Une intoxication intellectuelle reprise en chœur par les pays occidentaux pour de basses raisons mercantiles et qui se rachètent en réclamant, au nom des droits de l’homme, la sécurité pour Israël.

Quant à reconnaître que ce pays est celui du peuple juif, cela est une toute autre affaire ! Affaire qui arrange bien les affaires du Hamas. Mahmoud Zahar, l’un des dirigeants de ce groupe de criminels, a donné une interview (2) à Euronews. Dans celle-ci il pose une série de questions au bloc occidental.« La première est la suivante : notre terre, avant 1948, était-elle un territoire juif ? S’agissait-il de la terre d’Israël ? Ou était-elle plutôt la terre des musulmans arabes palestiniens ? ». « Deuxième question : un retour des Juifs, trois mille ans plus tard, pour établir un état sous prétexte que leurs ancêtres vivaient ici, est-ce que c’est cela que l’Occident appelle le droit au retour ? Acceptez-vous le droit de la politique au retour ? Dans ce cas, retournons donc en Espagne puisque nous l’avons quittée en 1492 ».

Le Fatah de Mahmoud Abbas se contente pour une paix juste et durable, en version anglaise uniquement, des « frontières de 1967, d’Al-Qods comme capitale et d’une solution juste pour les réfugiés » au sein de « l’entité sioniste » évidemment. Le Hamas, lui, n’a pas ces pudeurs. Que fera alors l’Occident si ce groupe prend les commandes de l’Autorité palestinienne et diffuse, matraque SA propagande en l’accompagnant de menaces implicites mais suffisamment précises à son égard ? A savoir, celle de Juifs « colonisateurs de terre arabes » y compris celles attribuées par l’ONU en 1947.

Après combien d’années, pour le bien de l’humanité, sera-t-il alors conseillé puis exigé de l’Etat d’Israël de se transformer en un état binational et, en conséquence, au peuple juif de retrouver sa condition d’apatride ? Après combien d’années, suite à son refus de cette ‘’solution peine de bon sens’’ agrée par la communauté internationale, seront prises des mesures de rétorsions à l’encontre de cet état évidemment « colonisateur, génocidaire et pilleur » ?

Si l’on en juge par les gains ‘’palestiniens’’ obtenus par la propagande actuelle depuis une quarantaine d’années auprès du bloc occidental et au vu de la lâcheté de celui-ci, guère plus longtemps qu’il n’a fallu pour reconnaître internationalement la « Palestine » et les « Palestiniens ». La ‘’justice’’ n’est pas un vain mot en cette contrée !




According to preliminary results, Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Muhammad Mursi has won the first round of Egypt’s election and will face off against Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister to serve under Hosni Mubarak, in a run-off vote scheduled for June 16 and 17. With ballots counted from about 12,800 of the roughly 13,100 polling stations, Mursi reportedly garnered 25 percent of the vote, Shafiq 23%, followed by Islamist Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh with 20% and leftist Hamdeen Sabahy with 19%. Official results will be announced next week. (Reuters, May 25.)

Michael Carin

Montreal Gazette, May 23, 2012

In 1944, when the Holocaust came to Hungary, Agnes Lörinczi Kent was a teenager in Budapest.… She ended up being one of the thousands of Hungarian Jews whose lives were saved by Raoul Wallenberg.

This summer will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Swedish diplomat hailed as one of the heroes of the 20th century. In downtown Montreal this week, Agnes Kent joined a commemoration in Place Wallenberg, in the garden of Christ Church Cathedral. Wallenberg’s achievements proved that a single man can light the torch of civilization, even in the midst of the darkest barbarity—and make it shine brilliantly.

By the beginning of 1944, the Allies knew that Germany under Adolf Hitler was systematically exterminating the Jews of Europe. Eyewitness testimonies about the gas chambers of Auschwitz had removed any doubt as to the meaning of “the final solution.” [As] Hungary had allied itself to Germany, however, Hungarian Jews, numbering about 700,000, had thus far been spared.

After the fall of Stalingrad, Hungarian leader Miklós Horthy sued for a separate peace, prompting Hitler to order the occupation of Hungary. With the country under the German boot, the Nazi annihilation machine went to work. By July 1944, upwards of 400,000 Hungarian Jewish men, women and children had been deported, in cattle cars, to their deaths in Auschwitz. The man directing the genocide, Adolf Eichmann, now turned his attention to the 200,000 Jews of Budapest.

At this point Raoul Wallenberg arrived as first secretary of the Swedish legation.… Wallenberg came with a single mission: to rescue as many Jews as possible. With nothing more than the authority of his character and a mantle of diplomatic licence, he proceeded to bluff, deceive and defy the Nazis. He distributed thousands of pseudo “passports” that identified the bearers as emigrants to Sweden. With bundles of such life-saving documents, he appeared at train stations and pulled Jews off death cars. He interceded at forced marches and plucked Jews from death columns. He purchased food and medicine, hired doctors and guards, protected Jews in rented safe houses.

Over a period of six months, at mounting risk to his own life, Wallenberg negotiated with the Nazis, bribed them, intimidated them. Days before liberation, in his most daring stroke, he prevented a massacre in the ghetto by threatening a German general with execution as a war criminal. Wallenberg’s example inspired similar rescues by neutral Switzerland, Portugal and Spain. His actions are estimated to have saved about 100,000 lives.

Agnes Kent’s life was one of them. She has been a Montrealer for over six decades, but she remembers certain events as if they happened yesterday. She and her family watched from their Budapest apartment as a group of German soldiers stripped a man in the courtyard. Seeing that he was circumcised, they executed him on the spot. She remembers the day her father and uncle were seized, both fated to perish when they could not continue on a forced march. She and her mother were saved by papers provided by Wallenberg.

Agnes Kent lived her life, thanks to a man with no personal stake save his own conscience. She brought up two children, and now glories in two granddaughters. Her experience is emblematic of tens of thousands of other lives—lived!

The exact fate of Wallenberg will never be known. The Red Army arrested him in 1945. He was never seen again. The Soviets claimed he died in Lubyanka prison in 1947.

Books, articles and movies have commemorated his boldness and the scale of his achievement. I asked Agnes Kent for counsel. What could I add about Wallenberg’s heroism to the mountain of words already written? Remind people, she told me, that while statesmen and whole countries remained silent and did nothing, a single individual chose to act, with ramifications that proved enormous. Similar choices confront us today. Write that simple truth, she said. It can never be repeated often enough, because the world keeps forgetting it.

(Michael Carin is a member of the Montreal Committee
for the Commemoration of Raoul Wallenberg.)

Christoph Gunkel

Der Spiegel, May 2, 2012

In downtown Vienna under the Nazis, two members of the SA had decided to humiliate an old woman. A crowd gathered and jeered as the stormtroopers hung a sign bearing the words “I’m a dirty Jew” around the woman’s neck. Suddenly, a tall man with a high forehead and thick mustache pushed his way angrily through the mob and freed the woman. “There was a scuffle with two stormtroopers, I hit them and was arrested immediately,” the man later said in a matter-of-fact statement.

Despite this open act of rebellion, the man was released immediately. He only had to say his name: Albert Göring, brother of Hermann Göring, the commander of the German air force and Hitler’s closest confidant.

Years later, after the fall of the Third Reich, Albert Göring was arrested once again, this time by Americans. Again he gave his name, but this time it had the opposite effect. “The interrogation of Albert Göring…constitutes as clever a piece of rationalization and ‘white wash’ as the SAIC (Seventh Army Interrogation Center) has ever seen,” American investigator Paul Kubala wrote on September 19, 1945.… Kubala’s interpreter, Richard Sonnenfeldt, was likewise skeptical. “Albert told a fascinating story, but one I had trouble believing,” he commented.

The life of Hermann Göring’s younger brother indeed makes a fascinating story, one that has remained essentially unknown in the nearly seven decades since the end of the Nazi dictatorship. Perhaps it’s because today many have the same reaction that the American investigators had then: Can it really be possible that Hermann Göring’s brother was a member of the resistance?…

“It has been four months now since I was robbed of my freedom, without knowing why,” Albert Göring wrote in September 1945 in a heavy-hearted letter to his wife. He had turned himself over to the Americans voluntarily on May 9, 1945. After spending years trying to thwart his brother’s policies in various small ways, now he felt betrayed. So he took up a pen and paper and wrote an alphabetical list of 34 names, entitling it “People whose life or existence I put myself at risk (three Gestapo arrest warrants!) to save.”

For decades, that list and the few other existing documents on Albert Göring sat in archives, gathering dust.… In 1998, [however, Australian] William Hastings Burke, then 18…scraped together the money for a ticket to Germany.… [He] devoted the next three years…combing through archives and meeting with friends and family members of people Albert Göring was said to have helped. The result was “Thirty Four,” a book named after Albert Göring’s list, published in 2009. The German translation will be released on May 21 under the title “Hermanns Bruder: Wer war Albert Göring?” or “Hermann’s Brother: Who was Albert Göring?”

Burke’s book describes a man who could not have been more different from his infamous brother. “He was always the exact opposite of me,” Hermann said in a statement after the war. “He wasn’t interested in politics or the military, and I was.…” At first, Albert thus simply tried to keep out of the National Socialists’ way. A mechanical engineer, he chose not to join the Nazi Party, instead moving to Vienna, Austria in 1928.… But the world-power politics Albert so hated, and which his ambitious brother promoted, caught up with him there with the 1938 annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany.

At some point, Albert decided he wanted to help instead of turning a blind eye. For example, he helped Oskar Pilzer, former president of Tobis-Sascha-Filmindustrie, Austria’s largest film production company.… When the Gestapo arrested the film mogul in March 1938, Albert Göring intervened. “Albert Göring used the power of his family name and pulled out all the stops, first to find out where my father was and then to make sure he was released immediately,” Pilzer’s son George later testified.

That was no isolated incident, and many people had similar testimony to present after 1945. Alexandra Otzop, for example, recalled, “My husband and his son…were persecuted in the fall of 1939. Mr. Göring managed to get them deported, instead of being sent to a concentration camp.” It’s said that Albert Göring once even got down on his hands and knees to scrub a street in Vienna, out of solidarity with women who were being bullied by stormtroopers.… While his brother was hard at work perfecting his air force, Albert obtained fake papers, warned friends of impending arrests and provided refugees with money. Again and again, he deftly used his name to intimidate public officials.…

In late 1939, the younger Göring himself took an influential position, becoming export manager for the Skoda automobile factory in the Czech city of Brno. From this position, he supported the Czech resistance, activists later testified. If their statements are accurate, Albert Göring even revealed…[Germany’s] plan to break the non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union. This sensitive information, the Czech resistance fighters stated, was successfully passed on to Moscow and London.

But even that isn’t the whole story. Göring is also believed to have saved prisoners from the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1944. “He said, I’m Albert Göring from Skoda. I need workers,” Jacques Benbassat, the son of an associate of Albert’s, later related. “He filled the truck with workers, and the concentration camp director agreed to it, because he was Albert Göring. Then he drove into the woods and released them.”

A number of notes turn up in German files that prove these stories were not simply made up. The Gestapo’s Prague bureau, for example, complained that Göring’s office at the Skoda factory was “a veritable nerve center for ‘poor’ Czechs.” The general of the Prague police, SS-Obergruppenführer Karl Hermann Frank…asked permission to arrest [Albert] in 1944 on “profound grounds for suspicion.” Now the man who had helped others escape became the persecuted one.…

While Hermann Göring, sentenced in Nuremberg, escaped execution by committing suicide in October 1946, the Americans remained suspicious of Albert Göring after the war.… Although the last of a series of caseworkers did recommend his release, Göring was turned over to the Czech Republic and tried in Prague for possible war crimes, because Skoda had also manufactured weapons.

Only after many former Skoda employees testified on Göring’s behalf were the charges dropped, and Göring was acquitted in March 1947. He died in 1966 in a Munich suburb, an impoverished and bitter man. Despite being a highly qualified engineer, he had been unable to find work in postwar Germany. Being Hermann Göring’s brother, a fact that likely saved his life in the past, ultimately became a curse.

Moshe Arens

Haaretz, May 22, 2012

Many catastrophes occur in this cruel world. Some are caused by nature, and over them humans have no control. Some are man-made catastrophes caused by wars of aggression and wars of oppression by one people against another. Such was World War II, an attempt by Germany to conquer the world, oppress the non-Germanic peoples and exterminate the Jews. It took more than five years to roll back the conquering German armies, at great sacrifice to the Allied armies that defeated Germany. On May 8, V-E Day, the world celebrates the victory in Europe, the day on which Germany surrendered unconditionally in 1945. It was a victory of light over darkness.

The German people suffered during that war. More than 5 million German soldiers were killed during the fighting, and more than 2 million German civilians died. In addition, millions were left homeless and millions became refugees as eastern Germany was turned over to Poland and the Sudeten region was returned to Czechoslovakia after the war. German cities were destroyed by aerial bombardments…[meant] to disrupt the German war effort and force Germany to surrender.

Yet the German people do not commemorate V-E Day as their day of catastrophe, as the German Nakba. No demonstrations are held in Germany on that day. The German people know that they brought the devastation upon themselves. They know…they have only themselves to blame.

There is another day on which the world celebrates victory in World War II. It is V-J Day, August 15, the day in 1945 when Japan, Germany’s ally, surrendered unconditionally to the Allied forces. The Japanese people suffered grievously during the war—a war in which they tried to conquer China, the Philippines, Burma and Indonesia. More than 2 million Japanese soldiers were killed and more than 3 million Japanese civilians perished. Tokyo was firebombed, and two atomic bombs devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

But the Japanese people do not commemorate their suffering during the war on V-J Day as the Japanese Nakba.… They know that the blame for their suffering cannot be shifted onto others.

So what is the Palestinian Nakba all about? Those who promote the commemoration of the “Palestinian catastrophe” have chosen May 15—the day in 1948 on which the Arab armies invaded Palestine in order to destroy the infant Jewish state—as Nakba Day. The Arabs intended to destroy the Jewish community in Palestine, were confident that they were going to win, but in the end lost the war. That is the origin of the Palestinian catastrophe, a catastrophe the Arabs brought upon themselves.

So why is it that the Arabs do not accept that it was the war that they began…which is the cause of their suffering? That their catastrophe is self-inflicted? Why don’t they recognize their own responsibility for their catastrophe, as do the Germans and the Japanese following World War II, and instead try to place the blame on Israel?

The difference is that the Germans and Japanese were forced to surrender unconditionally, and when the war was over they harbored no hope and had no intentions of overcoming the powers that had defeated them. The Arabs, however, did not surrender; they were prepared for an armistice—no more.… And unlike the Germans and the Japanese after World War II, many Palestinians and their Arab supporters harbor hopes of ultimately defeating the State of Israel and destroying the Jewish state.

For them the Nakba demonstrations are one more stick with which to beat Israel. With a total disregard for the facts, they are out there demonstrating on May 15, blaming Israel for a catastrophe they brought upon themselves.…

Daniel Gordis

Jerusalem Post, May 17, 2012

Neshama Carlebach, daughter of the revered Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, issued a noteworthy message last week: “Two weeks ago, The Forward honored me with a request to perform their new version of our timeless and beautiful ‘Hatikva,’ the Jewish national anthem. My intention was not to make a political statement of any kind but to speak to the hearts of people from all faiths and backgrounds with love.…”

I’m willing to take Carlebach at her word that she intended no political statement by performing this “new” version of “Hatikva” (it’s on YouTube if you’re interested). But even if Carlebach had wholly innocent intentions, she was certainly naïve if she imagined that singing a revised version of “Hatikva” which effectively de-Judaized Israel’s national anthem would evoke only expressions of love.

The specific incident that prompted the latest renewed focus on “Hatikva” was Justice Salim Joubran, the second Israeli Arab to serve on Israel’s Supreme Court, who, at a ceremony marking the retirement of Israel’s Chief Justice, stood silently as the anthem was sung. And who can blame him? Why should an Israeli Arab, no matter how patriotic, sing “As long as Jewish spirit yearns deep in the heart”? (The Forward’s version, for example, says “an Israeli spirit yearns deep in the heart.”) Why should he say “Our hope is not yet lost, the hope of two millennia, to be a free people in our land?…”

In typical American fashion, which cannot easily abide cognitive dissonance and which believes that every problem has a readily apparent solution, American Jewish voices leapt to the rescue. Leonard Fein, to cite but one example, wrote an article to which The Forward gave the title “Judge’s Silent Protest of Israeli Racism.…” Yet whatever one wants to say about the “Hatikva issue,” the issue isn’t racism. Justice Joubran, after all, is on the Supreme Court.…

What is the issue, then? And why would intelligent people such as those at The Forward make the mistake of thinking that the issue is racism?

The problem stems from the often unspoken but widely held American Jewish assumption that Israel should be a Middle Eastern version of the United States of America. If the US does not mention Christianity in its anthem, the logic goes, then Israel should not mention Judaism. And if Jewish members of the US Supreme Court live in a country in which they have no problem singing their anthem, then surely Israeli-Arab justices should be accorded the same respect.

But matters are not that simple. For the United States and Israel have utterly different purposes, as indicated even by a comparison of their Declarations of Independence.… The American Declaration of Independence says that “We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.…” There is a purpose to the United States: It is to provide its citizens with the opportunity to realize their “unalienable rights” to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” without regard to their religion or ethnic background. And in that America has been an extraordinary success.

Now let’s look at Israel’s Declaration of Independence.… “The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious, and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance, and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books. After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people remained faithful to it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.”

There is a purpose to the State of Israel, too, and it is utterly different from America’s. Israel obviously does not object to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness, but that is not its purpose. Its reason for being is the restoration of political freedom to the Jews, and the revitalization of the Jewish People that that freedom has wrought. In that, Israel has also been an extraordinary success.

The challenge for us is to honor Israel’s citizens who are not Jews and who are loyal citizens without pretending that Israel is just a Hebrew-speaking America. Canada solved the problem by having two versions of its anthem, one in English and one in French, with intentional differences to satisfy the populations who would recite it. Should Israel have a version in Arabic that Israeli Arabs can sing with pride? Perhaps. Is some other solution possible? Maybe.…

But changing the anthem now to accommodate those who cannot feel the power of 2,000 years of Jewish yearning would be utterly destructive to communicating Israel’s very purpose. Would we also change the flag, which was consciously designed to look like a tallit [prayer shawl]? Yes, some Jewish Israelis want to rid Israel of its Jewish focus. That’s their right. And it is our right, indeed our responsibility, to remind them that Israel is the fulfillment of a 2,000 year old dream, and a Jewish one at that. It is more than a state with many Jews; it is a state with a distinctly Jewish purpose.…


Banish the sleep from the eyes of all Jews;
Come on you lovers of martyrdom, you are all Hamas.
Banish the sleep from the eyes of all Jews;
Come on you lovers of martyrdom, you are all Hamas.

Forget about the whole world, forget about the conferences,
Brandish your weapons, say your prayers.
Forget about the whole world, forget about the conferences,
Pray to the Lord that he banishes the sleep from the eyes of all Jews.
—Excerpt of a song performed at the May 1 campaign launch of Muhammad Mursi, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s presidential candidate.

According to Egyptian cleric Safwat Higazi, who emceed the event, “[Egypt] can see how the dream of the Islamic caliphate is being realized by Dr. Muhammad Mursi, his supporters, and his political party. We can see how the great dream shared by us all, that the United States of the Arabs be restored, will be [actualized] by Muhammad Mursi. The capital of the caliphate—the capital of the United States of the Arabs—will be Jerusalem. Our capital shall not be Cairo, Mecca or Medina; it shall be Jerusalem. Our cry shall be: ‘millions of martyrs march towards Jerusalem.’” [To view the video see ‘On Topics’ below—Ed.]

On Monday, Egypt’s electoral commission announced that Muhammad Mursi achieved a commanding victory in absentee voting for Egypt’s presidency. With results from 33 Egyptian diplomatic missions counted, the Brotherhood’s Mursi came in far ahead of competitors with 106,252 votes, followed by rival Islamist Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh with 77,499.

Voting began in Egypt on Wednesday, with a new president scheduled to be sworn in by July 1.

Elhanan Miller

Times of Israel, May 23, 2012

Hours before polls opened in Egypt Wednesday for the first free elections in 60 years, many in Egypt—and indeed in the Arab world at large—made plain their sense that they are living through a historic moment. “If only I were Egyptian and could vote,” mused Abd Al-Bari Atwan, editor of Arab-nationalist daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi. “More than 50 million Egyptian voters are heading to the polls to elect their first president following the success of their blessed peaceful revolution.…”

Atwan’s sentiments may sound melodramatic, but they reflect a deep Arab sense that something dramatic has changed in the Middle East. In fact, if the parliamentary elections of late 2011 where religious parties swept 70% of the vote are any indication, Egypt’s next president will be an Islamist. And judging by the results of the absentee votes…Egypt’s transformation from a military autocracy to Islamic [rule is nearly complete].

Muslim Brotherhood candidate Muhammad Mursi won 36% of the absentee ballots, followed by independent Islamist candidate Abd Al-Munim Abu-Fattouh with 27%. The two leading secular candidates, former foreign minister and Arab League chief Amr Moussa and former prime minister Ahmad Shafiq, won a mere 13% and 8% of the absentee vote, respectively. About 140,000 Egyptians living abroad cast their votes…a sample which…could be an indicator of the final results.…

Egypt’s first round of elections on May 23 and 24 is accompanied by a new-found sense of responsibility.… Even the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF)…issued a flowery-worded statement urging Egyptians to flock to the polls and stressing their political neutrality. “The Supreme Council of Armed Forces remains equally distant from all presidential candidates,” read the statement. “We allow the Egyptian voter complete freedom of choice.”

But amid the platitudes and outbursts of unabated optimism, worrying signs of a grim future continue to emerge. The fragmented Egyptian parliament failed on Monday to agree on a constitutional declaration, casting doubt on the exact prerogatives of the president and the parliament following the elections. Some representatives of the youth movements who led the January 25 revolution are even calling for an election boycott. “How can we participate in elections completely controlled by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces?” asked the activists in a statement issued Tuesday.…

Yet according to one Egyptian security specialist, the military council will withdraw from political life following the elections, no later than July 1. “If the presidential elections end in the first round, SCAF will turn over power next week,” retired general Sameh Seif Yazal told the Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat.…

Will the military really sit back through Egypt’s historic moment and enjoy the show? We are about to find out.

Raymond Ibrahim

FrontPage, May 23, 2012

Despite the fact that some in the West portray Islam and democracy as being perfectly compatible, evidence continues to emerge that, for many countries in the Middle East, democracy and elections are various means to one end: the establishment of a decidedly undemocratic form of law—Islamic, or Sharia Law.

Thus, Egyptian cleric Dr. Talat Zahran proclaimed that it is “obligatory to cheat at elections,” his logic being that voting is a tool, an instrument, the only value of which is to empower Sharia. Likewise, Hazim Shuman, a cleric who has his own TV program, issued a fatwa likening the voting for Islamist candidates who will implement Sharia to “jihad,” adding that paradise awaits whoever is “martyred” during the electoral campaign.

According to Al Wafd, last Friday, May 18, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of if not the most authoritative clerics in the Islamic world, “called on all Egyptians to vote for one of the Islamist candidates.…” Qaradawi described them as “best for Egypt” because they will “apply the Islamic Sharia and achieve justice.” Moreover, during his Friday sermon, Qaradawi said that it is “mandatory for every Egyptian to go and vote at the presidential elections,” calling it a form of “obligatory testimony” on behalf of Islam, and quoting Koran 2:283 as proof: “And do not conceal testimony, and whoever conceals it, his heart is surely sinful; and Allah knows what you do.” In short, Egypt’s Muslims are being threatened with hell fire if they don’t vote for the Sharia-pushing candidates.

Qaradawi’s position was restated Monday, May 21, when, according to Al Ahram, the Sharia Body for Rights and Reforms—one of the most powerful Islamic organizations, with members from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafis, and Al Azhar—issued a fatwa asserting that it is “impermissible to vote for anyone not intending to apply Islamic Sharia, and it is obligatory to vote for those who do seek to implement it.…”

If Qaradawi and many others are stressing the obligation to vote for those Islamists most likely to enforce Sharia, Sheikh Osama Qassim, a member of Egypt’s notorious Islamic Jihad, which also seeks to enforce Islamic law, recently attacked the non-Islamist candidates—specifically naming Ahmed Shafiq and Amr Mussa—saying that if they win the presidential elections, it will only be “by cheating,” at which point “the Islamist organizations” will resort to “armed action” (code for Jihad). He added that such presidents will suffer the same fate of Anwar Sadat (assassination), but that this time, the struggle will see “the Islamists achieve complete domination” in Egypt.

Finally, beyond threats and commands are the sheer bribes—in this case, a form of Islamic “bread and circuses.” As they were accused earlier, the Muslim Brotherhood was just caught bribing Egypt’s poor with packets of food. On Tuesday, an Egyptian activist posted a video on YouTube about “the Brotherhood’s scandal: they buy the votes of the poor through food and drink.” The video shows several poor women sitting with bags of food from the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Freedom and Justice” party.…

Bribery is a form of deceit, and these presidential elections are something of a war for Egypt’s future; so, considering that Islam’s prophet Muhammad famously declared that “war is deceit,” all of the aforementioned approaches—threats of hellfire, threats of jihad, and food bribes—are legitimate.

Barry Rubin

Jerusalem Post, May 20, 2012

If I’ve ever seen a sentence that spells disaster in the Middle East it’s this one: “People say things in a campaign and then when they get elected they actually have to govern.”

The specific context of this statement by [US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland] were remarks by the Obama administration’s favorite Egyptian presidential candidate, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, in a debate. He called Israel racist, an enemy of Egypt, and a state based on occupation (that is, which has no right to exist), then calling to alter the Egypt-Israel peace treaty.

Pay no attention to the man in front of the curtain, says Nuland, he doesn’t really mean it. The problem with this, like hundreds of other statements by the currently dominant worldview in the West is that almost nobody is around in the mainstream media or academia to say: Wait a minute!… So let us parse Nuland’s sentence, which does accurately reflect US foreign policy today, and is indeed a death or prison sentence for many people in the Middle East.

Nothing is easier, of course, than finding examples of politicians who did not keep their election promises. But that’s not what we are dealing with here. No, the case here is: Do radical ideological movements say things in their campaigns to gain power, including election campaigns, which disappear due to the pragmatism forced by the need to govern?

I’ve heard this argument before, most notably in 1978-1979, when the Islamist revolution came to Iran. The Islamists have won every election since and have not been moderated by the need to govern. On the contrary, they have used their extremism to continue to govern.

“The depiction of Ayatollah Khomeini as fanatical, reactionary and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false.… Having created a new model of popular revolution based, for the most part, on nonviolent tactics, Iran may yet provide us with a desperately-needed model of humane governance for a third-world country.” It is only poetic injustice that Richard Falk, a man who totally misjudged the Iranian radical threat, has now been made by the UN the judge of Israel, which is facing that same threat.

The same kind of thing was said throughout the 1990s. Yasser Arafat will be moderated by having to pave roads and collect the garbage. Power is inevitably moderating and ideology is meaningless. This is not true, and history shows it isn’t true.

Were the Communists moderated by being in power? Well not in the USSR.… And not in China (well, yes, more than a bit, after only about a half-century). We’re still waiting for Cuba and North Korea, both between five and six decades old. Add in such examples as the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Ba’ath Party in Syria or Iraq, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

It is important to understand why this isn’t true. There are some dangerously false assumptions in Nuland’s simple sentence. She is assuming that radical movements are saying things to please voters in the same way that American politicians do. But American politicians are overwhelmingly unideological.…

But what if American politicians sincerely and passionately believed that every plank on their platform was ordered by the supreme being and that this was in fact the only reason their political party existed? Suppose their rivals were willing and able to destroy their careers or even kill them if they showed they were totally phony in their devotion? Suppose a large portion of the masses took all of this seriously and meant to hold them to their promises? And suppose they truly believed themselves that instituting Shari’a law…was the only way to govern? In other words, there are lots of reasons for radicals to remain radicals in government. And, after all, that is what usually happens.…

Daniel Suhareanu & Avi Nave

Jerusalem Post, May 23, 2012

Mr. President,

Undeniably, you have a momentous undertaking ahead of you. Your economy is on the verge of collapse. Millions of your citizens are jobless, lack security and any sense of hope for the future. Egypt’s Coptic Christian community continues to wither away at the hands of religious extremists. Moreover, after three decades of peace, the historic treaty between our two nations is under threat, shaking the very foundation of stability in our region.

Albert Einstein, perhaps the greatest mind in modern history, once said, “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Watching Egypt’s new leaders confront these challenges, we fear that Einstein’s logic has fallen on deaf ears.

During campaign rallies, you referred to Israel as an “adversary” or “enemy,” to uproarious applause from potential voters. Debates turned into Israel-bashing competitions over who was more determined to review, alter or abrogate relations between our two nations. Meanwhile, journalists, lawmakers and religious clerics across the country continue to promote the same hateful conspiracy theories that were rampant under Mubarak’s rule.

At a time when Egyptians are in desperate need of inspiration, their leaders have chosen to invest in populism, demagoguery and propaganda. It’s a familiar strategy in the Middle East. As we speak, [Syrian President] Bashar Assad continues to stake the legitimacy of his murderous regime on his hatred for the Jewish state. Your predecessor also vainly attempted to scapegoat Israel in order to divert attention from his own failures.

By fueling the flames of hatred, you condemn both of our peoples to an ominous future. After years of neglect, the sands of the Sinai Peninsula have become fertile ground for terrorist activity, fomented by those who seek to drive a wedge between us. In August 2011, those extremists nearly succeeded. In penetrating our border and killing eight of our citizens, they caused a crisis that culminated in a brazen assault on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.

Make no mistake; these terrorists remain determined to dismantle our decades-strong peace treaty. They have turned the Sinai into a launching pad for rockets aimed at our cities. Tell us, what will happen when a terrorist rocket strikes a hotel in Eilat? This nightmare scenario could materialize at any moment—and bring our two nations to the brink of war.

Despite this terrifying possibility, Egyptian leaders continue to incite their people using violent rhetoric. Even as they keep emergency rule firmly in place, your generals continuously call to “break the legs” and “cut out the tongues” of foreign states in the region—a clear reference to Israel.

While most Egyptians are too young to have experienced the brutal wars with Israel, their aging leadership would be wise to remember: It was the 30 years of conflict that drove our leaders to sign the Camp David accords. It was the tens of thousands of dead Egyptians and Israelis that prompted Anwar Sadat to fly to Jerusalem and address the Knesset. It was the billions of dollars wasted on our many wars which compelled our leaders to make peace and secure a better future for our two peoples.

Today, Egypt is once again at a historic crossroads. While the road ahead is uncertain, one thing is clear: Incitement against Israel will not create jobs for Egyptian youth. It will not build roads and infrastructure in the Nile Delta. It will not re-assimilate the citizens of the Sinai Peninsula back into society.

We implore you, don’t allow Egyptian society to descend into further chaos and instability. The narrative regarding Israel must be reformed. The inherent value of the peace between our two nations cannot be underestimated, and a future confrontation with the Jewish state is not in the best interests of your people. Rather, Israel has become a crucial security partner for Egypt and acts as a natural ally to counter the influence of those nations who seek to assert their influence over the entire region.

The Middle East needs a strong Egypt, one that will broker peace instead of war. The Egyptian people deserve a leader who will unlock their vast potential, reinvigorate their sense of hope, and guide them down the path to prosperity. Before you take your oath of office, it would be wise to take a good, hard look in the mirror. Will you be that leader?


Daniel Suhareanu and Avi Nave.

(The authors are reserve soldiers in elite combat units in the Israel Defense Forces.)




There’s a new offer on the table which addresses our concerns, not least the 20% enriched uranium. We’re hoping the Iranians will respond in a positive way.”—Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, claiming world powers tabled a possible deal during nuclear talks in Baghdad on Wednesday, seeking concessions from Iran over its higher grade uranium enrichment. According to Western diplomats, as part of the proposal Iran would be required to freeze its production of nuclear fuel enriched to 20% purity and to ship out its stockpile of the fuel to a third country. The officials would not specify the inducements offered to the Iranian delegation. (Wall Street Journal, May 23.)


Media-ocrities of the Week


The caption on a photograph featuring passengers on a tram in Jerusalem observing a two-minute silence for Yom HaShoah, a day of remembrance for the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, wrongly referred to the city as the Israeli capital. The Guardian style guide states: ‘Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is.’”—Britain’s Guardian newspaper, correcting a caption that appeared in its 20 April edition designating Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. In response, HonestReporting submitted a grievance with the United Kingdom Press Complaints Commission, citing Clause 1 of the commission’s official code requiring newspapers “to take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information.” The motion was summarily rejected even though the UK Foreign Office—while not recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem—does not specifically identify Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital. [The United Kingdom was the only country in the world officially to recognize Jordan’s annexation of, and ethnic cleansing of Jews from, Jerusalem following Israel’s War of Independence in 1948—Ed.] (JTA, May 22.)


Despite its condemnation of Zionists, [the newspaper] yet finds space to include an item in its daily quiz about Israel’s national bird. Is the Star not aware there’s a cultural boycott going on?… For goodness sake comrades, get your act together.”—Linda Claire, chairwoman of Manchester’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign, in a letter to the British daily Morning Star, condemning the paper for referring to Israel’s national bird—the hoopoe—in its daily quiz. According to Claire, “the methods chosen by the international solidarity movement of BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions]” preclude any mention of “the racist and apartheid State of Israel’s wildlife.” (Jerusalem Post, May 18.)


Weekly Quotes


Our generation had a great privilege—we saw the words of the prophets come true. We saw the rise of Zion, the return of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel, the ingathering of exiles, and our return to Jerusalem.… We developed Jerusalem in the north, south, east and west, and we will keep building. We will protect Jerusalem, because Israel without Jerusalem is like a body without a heart.… Our heart will never be divided again.”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, at a Jerusalem Day ceremony on Ammunition Hill, marking 45 years since the reunification of the Jewish people’s eternal capital. (Jerusalem Post, May 20.)


Obviously, nothing would be better than to see this issue resolved diplomatically. But I have seen no evidence that Iran is serious about stopping its nuclear weapons program. It looks as though they see these talks as another opportunity to device and delay just like North Korea did for years. They may try to go from meeting to meeting with empty promises. They may agree to something in principle but not implement it. They might even agree to implement something that does not materially derail their nuclear weapons program. Iran is good at playing this chess game. They know that sometimes you have to sacrifice a pawn to save the king. The goal of these negotiations should be very clear: Freeze all enrichment inside Iran; remove all enriched material outside of Iran; and dismantle [the underground nuclear facility near] Qom. When this goal is achieved, I will be the first to applaud. Until then, count me among the skeptics.”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, outlining Israel’s positions vis-a-vis the ongoing nuclear talks in Baghdad between world powers and Iran. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, May 18.)


The Iranians appear to be trying to reach a technical deal [to] create [the] appearance [of] progress…[and to] remove some of the pressure [caused by] an escalation in sanctions.”—Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, following the announcement by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano of a prospective deal between the IAEA and Iran. Amano claimed on Tuesday that during a rare visit to Tehran “a decision was made to conclude and sign [an] agreement” to give the UN nuclear watchdog access to Iranian nuclear sites, scientists and documents to restart its long-stalled probe into Iran’s secret nuclear work. (Jerusalem Post, May 22.)


The announcement is a step forward. It’s an agreement in principle.… [However], promises are one thing, actions and fulfillment of obligations are another. [Accordingly], we will continue to pressure Tehran, continue to move forward with the sanctions that will be coming online as the year progresses.”—White House spokesman Jay Carney, praising the IAEA’s purported deal with Tehran, while stressing that it is premature to discuss easing sanctions, including on Iran’s vital oil exports, which are due to take force in July. (Reuters, May 22.)


The Iranian nation is standing for its cause that is the full annihilation of Israel.”—Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, calling for the complete destruction of the Jewish state. (FARS News, May 20.)


That option is not…just available, but it’s ready. The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it’s ready.”—US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, claiming the American military has plans in place to attack Iranian nuclear facilities if necessary to prevent the Islamic republic from acquiring nuclear weapons. (Associated Pres, May 17.)


I understand the missions that stand before the IAF, and we have done everything we can during this period to create capabilities so we can fulfill these missions.”—Outgoing chief of Israel’s Air Force, Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan, affirming that the IAF is prepared for a possible operation against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Nehushtan also expressed dissatisfaction over the manner in which current and former senior Israeli officials have publicly criticized the Israeli government’s Iran policy, saying “that in this specific issue [Iran] we should not talk.… A public discourse on this issue is lacking the basic facts needed to hold it.…” Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel is slated to replace Nehushtan. (Jerusalem Post, May 17.)


While the world is understandably focused on the Iranian nuclear threat, we must not ignore the massive domestic repression in Iran.… We are witness to state-sanctioned assaults that are tantamount to crimes against humanity, including the highest per capita rate of executions in the world; the imprisonment and silencing of more journalists and bloggers than any other country; the persistent and pervasive assault on women’s rights; the targeting of religious and ethnic minorities; the criminalization of fundamental freedoms of speech, association and assembly; and the imprisonment of opposition leaders, human rights defenders, and the lawyers who would defend them.”—Former Canadian Minister of Justice and current Member of Parliament Irwin Cotler, marking Iran Accountability Week in Canada by condemning the Iranian regime’s massive and ongoing human rights violations. (Office of the Honourable Irwin Cotler, May 18.)

Syria is now facing the serious problem of terrorism.… Terrorists don’t…fight for the sake of reforms, they fight for the sake of terror.”—Syrian President Bashar Assad, in a rare interview with a state-run Russian television station, claiming Western “terrorists” are behind the 14-month uprising against his rule, and threatening that “If you [the West] sow chaos in Syria you may be infected by it yourself.” (Reuters, April 16.)


We must live up to our motto…which says, we will not recognize Israel.”—Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh, claiming there is no future for Israel within any borders “on the land of Palestine.” (Jerusalem Post, May 18.)


In light of the financial expenses [of the PA leadership], the talk about a financial crisis is repugnant and baseless. We hear about the suffering and hunger of the poor and the difficulties facing the unemployed, farmers, villagers and civil servants. At the same time, we hear about the luxurious life of senior and influential officials and the involvement of some in money laundering.”—Hasan Khreishah, deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, claiming that corruption in the Palestinian Authority “is bigger than it was in the past.” (Jerusalem Post, May 12.)


[Abbas used to] take millions of dollars from the Palestinian Authority and the private sector under the pretext of helping Arab parties in Israeli elections.”—Muhammad Rashid, a former economic adviser to Yasser Arafat, claiming PA President Mahmoud Abbas has in the past siphoned money from the PA to Arab parties campaigning in elections in Israel. (Jerusalem Post, May 17.)


Unfortunately, this response is unacceptable as it rejects the central principles of global fraternity on which the Olympic ideal is supposed to rest.… The terrorist murders of the Israeli athletes were not just an attack on people because of their nationality and religion; it was an attack on…the international community. Thus it is necessary for the Olympic Games as a whole to commemorate this event in the open.…”—Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, after International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge denied his personal request to hold a minute silence at the upcoming London Games in memory of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, May 17.)


The Munich 11 were part of the Olympic family, and IOC’s rejection thus far of a minute of silence is unacceptable. We intend to put the US Congress on record that those who died deserve to be remembered in a respectful manner to mark this anniversary.”—Excerpt of a joint statement issued by US Congressman Eliot Engel and Congresswoman Nita Lowey, after introducing House Resolution 663 calling on the IOC to commemorate the 1972 Munich terrorist attack during the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. (Jerusalem Post, May 18.)


I would like to be next to our young athletes at the 2012 Olympics but the host has a problem with this.”—Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, suggesting Britain has barred him from attending the upcoming Olympic Games. Some 50 Iranian athletes have qualified to participate in London. (Washington Post, May 17.)


We’ve got a special feeling for Israel’s situation—that of a small nation surrounded by enemies. We remember our situation in the 1930s, when the small democratic Czechoslovakia had neighbors that wanted to destroy it or take part of our territory.”—Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas, expressing solidarity with Israel after meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Prague. At a joint press conference, Necas said his government “fundamentally rejects delegitimization and any boycott of the State of Israel…[and] clearly supports Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorist attacks.” For his part, Netanyahu said Jerusalem “deeply appreciated” Prague’s friendship. (Jerusalem Post, May 18.)


Short Takes


IRAN FLOUTS UN SANCTIONS, SENDS ARMS TO SYRIA—(United Nations) According to a report by a UN panel of experts, Syria remains the top destination for Iranian arms shipments in violation of a UN Security Council ban on weapons exports by the Islamic Republic. The report, which has been submitted to the Security Council’s Iran sanctions committee, said there were three seizures of large shipments of Iranian weapons investigated by the panel over the past year and that “Two of these cases involved the Syrian Arab Republic.…” The report also describes at length efforts by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) to circumvent sanctions, saying its subsidiaries continue to operate vessels and that the IRISL is constantly changing the ownership, names and national flags of its ships. Finally, the report discusses Iran’s nuclear progress, noting that “prohibited activities continue, including uranium enrichment” despite four rounds of punitive measures imposed on Iran by the Security Council between 2006 and 2010. (Reuters, May 16.)


REPORT: SYRIA REBELS KILL ASSAD’S DEFENSE MINISTER, BROTHER-IN-LAW—(Jerusalem) Syrian opposition forces have killed several top officials in President Bashar Assad’s regime, including Defense Minister Dawoud Rajiha and Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat, as the country teeters on the brink of full-scale civil war. Meanwhile, the Obama administration is reportedly preparing with Middle Eastern allies for a series of likely crises in Syria in the coming months, including the possible loss of government control over some of the country’s chemical weapons stockpiles. Allegedly involving intelligence and military officials from at least seven countries, the planning includes arrangements for securing chemical arms with special operations troops in the event parts of the country are seized by Islamists. (Washington Post, May 19 & Haaretz, May 20.)


UNREST OVER SYRIA HITS BEIRUT—(Beirut) Reports of the abduction of Lebanese Shiite pilgrims by rebels in Syria have sparked new unrest in Beirut, threatening to further inflame Lebanon over the uprising across the border. Residents of the Shiite-dominated southern suburbs of Beirut have taken to the streets to protest the kidnapping by gunmen of as many as 12 Lebanese nationals on a bus in Syria en route home from a Shiite shrine in Iran. Lebanese media identified the kidnappers as members of the anti-Assad Free Syrian Army, the armed faction of the largely Sunni uprising. Sectarian clashes across Lebanon between members of political groups opposing and supporting President Bashar Assad’s Syrian regime have left 10 people dead this month. (Wall Street Journal, May 22.)


MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD’S CANDIDATE TOPS EGYPT ABSENTEE RESULTS—(Jerusalem) The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate has amassed a commanding lead in absentee voting for Egypt’s presidency. With results from 33 diplomatic missions counted, the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi came in far ahead of competitors with 106,252 votes, followed by rival Islamist Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh with 77,499. Hamdeen Sabahy, a leftist nationalist, came in third with 44,727 ballots, with former foreign minister Amr Moussa and ex-premier Ahmed Shafiq rounding out the top five. Voting begins in Egypt on Wednesday, with a new president scheduled to be sworn in by July 1. (Jerusalem Post, May 21.)


TURKEY PREPARES INDICTMENTS OVER FLOTILLA INCIDENT—(New York) A special prosecutor in Istanbul reportedly has prepared an indictment against the four top Israeli commanders who led the 2010 raid on the Mavi Marmara ship, in which nine Turkish nationals were killed while attempting to breach Israel’s legal blockade on Gaza. According to the English-language Turkish news service Today’s Zaman, citing the Sabah daily, the 144-page indictment seeks 10 aggravated life jail sentences for each commander, including former Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, Israeli Navy commander Vice Adm. Eliezer Marom, Israel’s military intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, and Air Forces Intelligence head Brig. Gen. Avishai Levi. The indictment has been submitted to Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Turan Çolakkadı, who is expected to approve and forward the documentation to the appropriate court. (JTA, May 23.)


YEMEN: JEWISH COMMUNITY LEADER STABBED TO DEATH—(Jerusalem) Fifty-year-old Harun Yusuf Zindani, a Jewish community leader in Yemen, has been stabbed to death by a Muslim assailant who accused him of witchcraft. According to Harun’s son, Yehya, the victim was stabbed in the neck and stomach by a “well-known person who says [Harun] had ruined him by casting a spell on him.” The Jewish community in Yemen numbered some 60,000 in 1948, but shrunk significantly in the years following the establishment of the State of Israel. By the early 1990s there were approximately 1,000 Jews living in Yemen; today, barely 300 remain. (Ynet News, May 22.)


IDF CHIEF GANTZ MAKES HISTORIC VISIT TO CHINA—(Jerusalem) In another sign of the growing ties between Israel and China, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz has made a historic visit to Beijing for high-level talks with the Chinese defense establishment. Gantz was officially invited by Chief of General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Gen. Chen Bingde, who visited the Jewish state last August. It was the first time that a Chinese military chief visited Israel and followed a June 2011 trip to China by Israeli defense Minister Ehud Barak. Since 2010, Israel has significantly upgraded its defense contacts with China after they had been downgraded due to American pressure which precluded Israeli companies from selling weaponry to China. Although a ban on arms sales is still in effect, China is interested in learning from the IDF’s combat experience. (Jerusalem Post, May 16.)


SOUTH AFRICA DRAWS ISRAEL’S IRE OVER SETTLEMENT LABELS—(Jerusalem) South Africa’s Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has announced that South African importers will no longer “incorrectly label products that originate from the Occupied Palestinian Territory as products of Israel,” as the country “recognizes the State of Israel only within the borders demarcated by the United Nations in 1948.” In response, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman charged Pretoria with assuming an anti-Israel policy and asserted that it was not coincidental that the 2001 Durban Conference, one of the most anti-Israel forums ever, took place in South Africa. He also confirmed that Israel’s Foreign Ministry could not summon South Africa’s ambassador to Israel to protest the move as the envoy had intentionally turned off his phone. For his part, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor accused Minister Davies of ignorance since the UN never demarcated Israeli borders in 1948. (Jerusalem Post, May 20.)


HAMAS FATAH SIGN PALESTINIAN UNITY DEAL…AGAIN—(Tel Aviv) Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas reportedly have reached a deal to establish a unity government by June and to hold elections within six months. The Egyptian-mediated accord is the latest in a series of attempts over the past year aimed at resolving a five-year feud between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. Given the past failures to finalize a pact, many Palestinians and Israelis are skeptical the latest agreement will be honored; under a May 2011 deal, for example, Hamas and Fatah were supposed to have set up an interim government months ago and held elections for a new parliament this month. (Wall Street Journal, May 21.)


SHIN BET UNCOVERS PALESTINIAN SQUAD BENT ON KIDNAPPING ISRAELIS—(Jerusalem) Israel’s Shin Bet has captured a Palestinian cell that attempted to kidnap Israelis in order to negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners. The squad, which was arrested in an operation two months ago, included nine members from Ramallah and was led by 22-year-old Muhammad Ramadan. According to indictments issued by the Judea military court, cell members attempted to kidnap Israelis on three different occasions, while driving a rental car equipped with a taser, tear gas, clubs and a replica gun. In all instances, the targeted Israelis managed to escape. (Haaretz, May 20.)


BOMBING VICTIM’S FAMILY WINS JUDGMENT AGAINST IRAN, SYRIA—(New York) The family of a Florida teenager killed in a Palestinian suicide bomb attack in Tel Aviv has won a $323 million judgment in a U.S. court against Iran and Syria. Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court in Washington DC ruled that Iran and Syria were responsible for the attack by an Islamic Jihad terrorist that killed Daniel Wultz, 16, and ten other people in a bombing in April 2006. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the family by the Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center, under a special provision in U.S. federal law that allows U.S. citizens to bring claims against foreign governments for terrorist acts. The judgment was announced six years to the day after Daniel died. (JTA, May 16.)


TORONTO ISLAMIC SCHOOL’S PERMIT SUSPENDED FOR ANTI-JEWISH CURRICULUM—(Toronto) An Islamic school that had been using teaching materials that refer to “crafty,” “treacherous” Jews and contrasted Islam with “the Jews and the Nazis” has lost its license to use Toronto District School Board property. The board suspended a permit issued to the Islamic Shia Study Centre, which operated the East End Madrassah out of a Toronto high school until an outcry last week over the content of its curriculum booklets. According to Ryan Bird, a TDSB spokesman, “The Islamic Shia Study Centre will not be able to [use] TDSB property until the police investigation is complete and they are able to demonstrate that they comply with board policies and procedures.” Published by Iranian foundations, various passages in the school’s textbooks also told children that Islam was the “best” religion, and provided a list of “unclean things,” including pigs, dogs and “a person who does not believe in Allah.” (National Post, May 16.)


POLLARD PETITION PASSES 60,000—(Jerusalem) A petition calling on Israeli President Shimon Peres to do everything in his power to bring about the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard when he goes to Washington on June 13 to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom has surpassed 60,000 signatures. The petition, whose drive began two months ago and which has attracted support from across the world, implores Peres to “take advantage of [his] unprecedented diplomatic standing in order to work for Jonathan’s immediate release.” Pollard has served more than 26 years of a life sentence for passing classified information to an ally during peacetime, an offense which has historically garnered an average term of 2-4 years. US President Barack Obama has thus far rejected repeated calls by top Israeli and American officials to commute Pollard’s sentence. (Jerusalem Post, May 18.)