Month: June 2012


Baruch Cohen

In memory of the victims of the Yassi Pogrom

“Please leave me my son if you are taking my husband.… Son and husband were both taken and killed.”—Leah Haimovich, a Yassi Survivor.

What happened in the city of Yassi (Iasi) in June 1941 epitomizes the millennia-old antisemitic fervor that enabled the Holocaust to occur. The Yassi pogrom was an expression of long-standing and deeply-embedded Romanian antisemitism, just as similar events in Western Europe exemplified other variations of antisemitism, many grounded in Nazi doctrine.[1]

The killing of Romanian Jews began in the summer of 1940, following the retreat of the Romanian Army from neighboring Soviet Union. The military, civil administration and the infamous Iron Guard enthusiastically participated in the government-sponsored policy of exterminating Jews.

In June 1940, close to 450 Jews were killed in the towns of Dorohoi and Galati.

The murders were possible as antisemitism had become entrenched throughout Romania. Official and popular propaganda depicted Jews as enemies of the Romanian people. Romanian Jews were Bolsheviks, foreign agents, even parasites!

At sundown on June 28, 1941, the Yassi sky was set ablaze by a rocket, signalling the upcoming slaughter. The following day, a Sunday now known as “Dominica Aceia,” “That Sunday,” was the bloodiest day in the history of Romanian Jewry.

Yassi’s Jews were forcibly assembled at police headquarters and randomly fired upon. The Romanian Army and the Iron Guard mercilessly targeted the mass of people; others were beaten or even smothered underneath corpses. The shrieks and wails had no effect on those who ordered and committed these atrocities. The population stood passively by.

Curzio Malaporte, an Italian journalist for Corriere della Sera who was in Yassi at the time, reported that Jews were chased in the streets by soldiers and civilians alike, armed with sticks and iron bars, while groups of gendarmes shot indiscriminately at the doors and windows of Jewish homes. As Malaporte witnessed, “packs of dogs ran up to the cadavers of Jews guarded by gendarmes, and soldiers armed with guns were watching over them, seeking to separate the corpses.”

Such is but one of the innumerable recollections of the terrible “ Sunday That Was”.

The Yassi pogrom was not an isolated event; it followed massacres in Bucharest on January 21, 1941, and the Dorohoi and Galati pogroms of 1940! Zahor! Remember!

On the eve of WWII, approximately half of Yassi’s 100,000 inhabitants were Jews. Of the 40,000-45,000 Jews still residing there in June, 1941, an estimated 13,000 to 14,000 were murdered, including women and children.

An additional estimated 3,000 Yassi Jews were crammed into thirty-nine cattle cars, forced in by their captors using bayonets and rifle butts. Between 80-200 Jews were herded into each windowless freight car, many of whom already were gravely wounded. The Romanian guards made a point to nailed shut the small ventilation shutters, and with the passing hours breathing became increasingly difficult. The Romanian military and authorities proudly decorated the cars with signs: “Communist Jews, Killers of Romanian and German Soldiers”.

The total number of victims of the Yassi pogrom was never officially determined!



As we struggle to remember, we must comprehend that memory affects the future. Through awareness, study and acceptance of our troubled past, we can ensure that Never Again is realized.


(Baruch Cohen is Research Chairman of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.)

[1] The Holocaust In Romania: The Destruction Of Jews And Gypsies Under The Antonescu Regime, 1940-1944, by Radu Ioanid (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2000).

Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein

Jerusalem Post, June 28, 2012

Rebbetzin Eva Sandler of Toulouse, France, recently spoke at Sinai Indaba, South Africa’s annual national Torah convention, which brings together more than 4,500 Jews. A modern-day Jewish heroine, she spoke with remarkable composure and dignity about her husband, Rabbi Yonatan Sandler, and their sons Aryeh and Gavriel, brutally murdered by an Islamic terrorist on March 25, 2012.

Eva Sandler’s fortitude in the face of horror was truly moving; her calm and brave presence in Johannesburg and Cape Town brought a message of strength and faith to us all. Although she spoke sentence by sentence through a translator, the language and cultural barriers—which by any rational analysis should have separated us into different worlds—seemed to dissolve; there was a strong sense of shared Jewish fate.

As Rebbetzin Sandler recounted the details of that terrible day, we all felt that Toulouse could have been, G-d forbid, Johannesburg or Cape Town, New York or London, Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. There is a shared Jewish fate which binds all Jews, in defiance of the natural laws of history.

Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, in his foundational essay Kol dodi dofek (“The voice of my beloved knocking”), identified two distinct covenants between G-d and the Jewish people: the “covenant of fate” and the “covenant of destiny.”

G-d entered into the covenant of fate with us whilst we were still subject to Egyptian slavery, when He said, “I will take you to me to be a nation.” Through this covenant we became a separate people with a shared and supernatural fate for all times, and from which there is no escape.

In the past 70 years, for example, we have seen the irresistible power of this covenantal shared fate as Nazi Germany sought to annihilate assimilated and religious Jews alike. And today the covenant of fate binds all Jews, willingly or unwillingly, to the State of Israel and to the events and pressures that accompany anything to do with it. Every Jewish community around the world has been thrust to the front lines facing the anti-Israel onslaught, which in its milder form can mean being denigrated and isolated and in its most virulent form poses a serious threat to life and limb as attested to by Eva Sandler’s tragedy.

Rav Soloveitchik explains that the covenant of fate binds us and imposes on us a…responsibility toward one another’s welfare. Every Jew must stand in solidarity with, and help, support and protect every Jew unconditionally, irrespective of political affiliation or religious observance or any other criterion. The all-encompassing covenant of fate connects us all, giving expression to the very concept of Jewish peoplehood and unity.…

The covenant of destiny, known also as “the covenant of Sinai” because it was entered into at Mount Sinai when G-d gave us the Torah, is about our shared values, moral vision and the Divine mission of the Jewish people. It is comprised of the Torah’s principles and values and calls us to a higher destiny, one which transcends mere survival. It is about why we want to survive, and what our purpose and moral calling is. It gives us our mission, articulating the raison d’être of the Jewish people.…

Rav Soloveitchik says further that the covenant of destiny redeems the covenant of fate from the latter’s potential victimhood. In the context of the covenant of fate we become subjected to the overpowering forces of history; we play a reactive role, with no choice but to respond due to force of circumstances, trying simply to survive. The covenant of destiny, however, is embraced freely and chosen, as it was first entered into at Mount Sinai.…

It was powerful and moving to witness these ideas of Rav Soloveitchik embodied in Eva Sandler, who transcended victimhood to become a modern-day heroine. At Sinai Indaba she spoke of her pain and of her moral mission to spread the light of Torah and faith in the world, calling on us to join her. She has moved beyond succumbing to despair from tragic events to rising to a moral vision and calling, redeeming the covenant of fate through the covenant of destiny.…

(Warren Goldstein is chief rabbi of South Africa.)

Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, June 27, 2012

A recent interview by [Haaretz] journalist Ari Shavit with former IDF chief of staff, now vice premier, Moshe Ya’alon, provides a fascinating insight into the thinking of one of Israel’s most sophisticated political leaders and covers the crucial challenges facing the nation.…

Coincidentally, precisely seven years ago I devoted a column to Ya’alon, describing him as one of the most adroit strategic thinkers to have headed the IDF. He was then accused of being disgruntled and embittered after his premature termination as chief of staff by then-prime minister Ariel Sharon in response to his fierce opposition to the withdrawal from Gaza—for which he was subsequently totally vindicated.

Ya’alon was retired in the wake of his successful military response to terror which demonstrated that, contrary to the mantras invoked by the bleeding-heart leftists, resolute military action can significantly neutralize terrorism. He was also proactive when he instituted dual-track initiatives of targeted assassinations and construction of the security fence, the combination of which effectively brought an end to the second intifada.

In my earlier column, I expressed frustration and anger that, in a country facing existential threats from its neighbors, a retiring chief of staff’s explicit warnings of disastrous repercussions arising from the policies of prime minister Ariel Sharon had been totally ignored by the government and opposition. Regrettably, his predictions were subsequently basically realized.

Although highly politically incorrect at the time, Ya’alon also asserted that Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat were birds of a feather. Far from being peace partners, he insisted that they were primarily committed to ending Jewish sovereignty in the region. He furthermore predicted that the Arab “right of return,” which other Israeli leaders contended was merely a PA negotiating ploy, was set in stone and would remain a cornerstone of the intransigent Palestinian demands. He also warned of impending missile attacks directed toward Israel’s civilians unless the government took steps to enforce tougher deterrence.

Vice-Premier Ya’alon is certainly not typical of contemporary right-wing activists. He is a follower of Ben-Gurion rather than Jabotinsky. He is a kibbutznik with a Labor background who displays traditionally liberal approaches in relation to most social, religious and economic issues.… This new interview provides fascinating insights into Ya’alon’s view of the current imbroglio and reaffirms his primacy as a profound strategic thinker in relation to Israel’s external military threats.

A major component is devoted to the Iranian nuclear threat. Ya’alon stresses that we must not, under any circumstances, stand by and enable “the apocalyptic-messianic regime of the ayatollahs” to obtain the bomb. Although hopeful that Israel will not be obliged to go it alone, Ya’alon insists that “we are not bluffing” and that despite the likelihood of considerable Israel casualties should armed conflict ensue, it is unquestionably preferable for us to bomb rather than to be bombed.

He points out that the IDF has the ability to hit the Iranian surrogate Hezbollah with 150 times the explosive power they could direct against us, which should make the Lebanese government weigh the consequences if they enable missiles to be launched against Israel from their territory.

Ya’alon also articulates what few other Israeli leaders are willing to say publicly. “I was ready to divide the land but they [Palestinians] are not.… As long as the other side is not ready to recognize our right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people, I am not ready to forgo a millimetre [of territory]. I am not even willing to talk about [territorial concessions]. After land-for-peace became land-for-terror and land-for-rockets, I am no longer willing to bury my head in the sand.”

He adds, “…We need to look not for a solution but for a path. There are problems in life that have no solution. At the moment the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a problem with no solution.… Anyone suggesting otherwise is promoting a false illusion. A golden calf. Self-deception.”

Yet Ya’alon remains optimistic: “When I see where my grandparents and parents were and where my children are—I see that time is not working against us.… The secret of Zionism is that when our ethos is to build and the ethos of the other side is to destroy, our ethos will triumph.… We must free ourselves of being solution-orientated and discard self-blame. We must free ourselves of thinking that if I give in to the enemy and please the enemy, the enemy will give me quiet. That is a…way of thinking unrelated to the reality of the Middle East.”

Ya’alon was asked, “As a Mapainik, a kibbutznik, a Rabinist, how did you become a Likudnik?” To which he responded, “The Labor movement had Yitzchak Tabenkin and Yigal Allon and Yitzhak Rabin. Even Rabin from the Oslo process was never from Peace Now. He supported the Allon Plan in the broad sense and firmly opposed withdrawal to 1967 lines. Before his assassination he spoke in the Knesset about an eternally united Jerusalem and about [retaining] the Jordan Rift Valley and about a Palestinian entity that would be less than a state.”

Ya’alon is perhaps the most understated minister in the government and is considered a highly untypical Israeli leader. He is not an adept political street-fighter. He is soft-spoken, even dour, and certainly lacks charisma. Despite his low profile he is one of our most capable leaders. He was a brilliant chief of staff who can take credit, to a large extent, for creating the strategy that brought an end to the era of the suicide bombings. His moral integrity would qualify him to serve as a role model for most Knesset members.…

It is comforting that a man of Ya’alon’s caliber is today a senior member of the security cabinet and influential in the formulation of defense policies. It is also reassuring to know that if Ya’alon ever considered that the government was initiating policies endangering the country, unlike numerous other politicians, he would not remain silent.

Jonathan Sachs

Jerusalem Magazine, June 14, 2012

…The phrase “Jewish leadership” is ambiguous. It means leadership by Jews, but it also means leadership in a Jewish way, according to Judaic principles and values. The first is common, the second rare. Throughout my life it has been a privilege to witness both. So by way of saying thank you for the past and giving blessings for the future, I have set out below seven of the many axioms of leadership done in a Jewish way.

Principle 1: Leadership begins with taking responsibility.

Compare the opening of Genesis with the opening of Exodus. The opening chapters of Genesis are about failures of responsibility. Confronted by God with their sin, Adam blames Eve, Eve blames the serpent. Cain says, “Am I my brother’s keeper?…”

By contrast, at the beginning of Exodus Moses takes responsibility. When he sees an Egyptian beating an Israelite, he intervenes. When he sees two Israelites fighting, he intervenes. In Midian, when he sees shepherds abusing the daughters of Jethro, he intervenes. Moses, an Israelite brought up as an Egyptian, could have avoided each of these confrontations, yet he did not. He is the supreme case of one who says: when I see wrong, if no one else is prepared to act, I will.

At the heart of Judaism are three beliefs about leadership: We are free. We are responsible. And together we can change the world.

Principle 2: No one can lead alone.

Seven times in Genesis 1, we hear the word “tov” (good). Only twice in the whole Torah does the phrase “lo tov” (not good) appear. The first is when God says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” The second is when Jethro sees his son-in-law, Moses, leading alone and says, “What you are doing is not good.” We cannot live alone. We cannot lead alone. Leadership is teamsmanship.

One corollary of this is that there is no one leadership style in Judaism. During the wilderness years there were three leaders: Moses, Miriam and Aaron. Moses was close to God. Aaron was close to the people. Miriam led the women and sustained her two brothers. The sages say it was in her merit that there was water to drink in the desert.

During the biblical era there were three different leadership roles: kings, priests and prophets. The king was a political leader. The priest was a religious leader. The prophet was a visionary, a man or woman of ideals and ideas. In Judaism, leadership is an emergent property of multiple roles and perspectives. No one person can lead the Jewish people.

Principle 3: Leadership is about the future. It is vision-driven.

Before Moses can lead he has to experience a vision at the burning bush. There he is told his task: to lead the people from slavery to freedom. He has a destination: the land flowing with milk and honey. He is given a double challenge: to persuade the Egyptians to let the Israelites go and to persuade the Israelites to take the risk of going. The latter turns out to be more difficult than the former.

Along the way, Moses performs signs and wonders. Yet his greatest leadership act occurs in the last month of his life. He gathers the people together on the bank of the Jordan and delivers the speeches that constitute the book of Deuteronomy. There he rises to the greatest heights of prophecy, his eyes turned to the furthest horizon of the future. He tells the people of the challenges they will face in the Promised Land. He gives them laws. He sets forth his vision of the good society.…

Before you can lead, you must have a vision of the future and be able to communicate it to others.

Principle 4: Leaders learn.

The Torah says that a king must write his own Sefer Torah which “must always be with him, and he shall read from it all the days of his life” (Deut. 17:19). Joshua, Moses’s successor, is commanded: “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night” (Josh. 1:8).

Without constant study, leadership lacks direction and depth. This is so even in secular leadership. William Gladstone had a library of more than 30,000 books. He read more than 20,000 of them. Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli were both prolific writers. Winston Churchill wrote some 50 books and won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Visit David Ben-Gurion’s house in Tel Aviv and you will see that it is essentially a library with 20,000 books.

Study makes the difference between the statesman and the politician, between the transformative leader and the manager.

Principle 5: Leadership means believing in the people you lead.

The rabbis gave a remarkable interpretation of the passage in which Moses says about the Israelites, “They will not believe in me.…” The [rabbis] said that the sign God gave Moses when his hand became leprous (Ex. 4:6) was a punishment for casting doubt on the Israelites. A leader must have faith in the people he or she leads.

There is a profound principle at stake here. Judaism prefers the leadership of influence to the leadership of power. Kings had power. Prophets had influence but no power at all. Power lifts the leader above the people. Influence lifts the people above their former selves. Influence respects people; power controls people.

Judaism, which has the highest view of human dignity of any major religion, is therefore deeply skeptical about power and deeply serious about influence. Hence one of Judaism’s greatest insights into leadership: The highest form of leadership is teaching. Power begets followers. Teaching creates leaders.

Principle 6: Leadership involves a sense of timing and pace.

When Moses asks God to choose his successor, he says: “May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community to go out before them and come in before them, who will lead them out and bring them in” (Num. 27:16-17).

Why the apparent repetition? Moses is saying two things about leadership. A leader must lead from the front: he or she must “go out before them.” But a leader must not be so far out in front that, when he turns around, he finds no one following. He must “lead them out,” meaning, he must carry people with him. He must go at a pace that people can bear.

One of Moses’s deepest frustrations—we sense it throughout the biblical narrative—is the sheer time it takes for people to change. In the end, it would take a new generation and a new leader to lead the people across the Jordan and into the promised land. Hence the rabbis’ great saying: “It is not for you to complete the task but neither are you free to desist from it.”

Leadership involves a delicate balance between impatience and patience. Go too fast and people resist and rebel. Go too slow and they become complacent. Transformation takes time, often more than a single generation.

Principle 7: Leadership is stressful and emotionally demanding.

Listen to Moses, the greatest leader the Jewish people ever had: “Did I conceive all these people? Did I give birth to them? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors?… I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin” (Num. 11: 11-15).

Similar sentiments can be found in the words of Elijah, Jeremiah and Jonah. All at some stage prayed to die rather than carry on. Transformative leaders see the need for people to change. But people resist change and expect the work to be done for them by their leader.

When the leader hands the challenge back, the people turn on him and blame him for their troubles. So Moses is to blame for the hardships of the desert. Elijah is to blame for disturbing the peace. Jeremiah is to blame for the Babylonians. No wonder the most transformative leaders feel, at times, burnout and despair.

Why then do they lead? Not because they believe in themselves. The greatest Jewish leaders doubted their ability to lead. Moses said, “Who am I?…” Isaiah said, “I am a man of unclean lips.” Jeremiah said, “I cannot speak, for I am a child.” Jonah, faced with the challenge of leadership, ran away.

Leaders lead because there is work to do, there are people in need, there is injustice to be fought, there is wrong to be righted, there are problems to be solved and challenges ahead. Leaders hear this as a call to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness. They lead because they know that to stand idly by and expect others to do the work is the too-easy option. The responsible life is the best life there is, and is worth all the pain and frustration.…

(Jonathan Sachs is Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth.)


Barak Ravid

Haaretz, June 21, 2012

Iranian stalling tactics, veiled threats from the six powers, an odd PowerPoint presentation about religious rulings by Iranian spiritual leader Ali Khamenei, and nary a word about Israel: That is some of what happened behind closed doors at Moscow’s Golden Ring Hotel, where a third round of nuclear talks with Iran took place [June 18-19].

The intensive talks…between Iran and the six powers—the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany—ended in failure. The six powers were unable to bridge their major gaps with Iran.

A Western diplomat who asked to remain anonymous in light of the sensitivity of the talks said that one major obstacle revealed by the Moscow talks relates to the underground facility for uranium enrichment in Fordo, near the city of Qum. According to the diplomat, the Iranians responded only in a broad, vague fashion to demands that it limit its enrichment of uranium to a level of 20 percent and move such uranium outside the country, and they refused to discuss the Fordo plant at all.… “We learned that Fordo is a taboo subject for the Iranians, and that it is the flagship of their nuclear project,” the diplomat said.

After ending the second round of talks in Baghdad with the feeling that the six powers were desperate to forge an agreement, the Iranian delegates arrived in Moscow feeling confident. But Western diplomats, who realized that expectations had been raised too high in Baghdad, came to Moscow skeptical and cautious. The message they broadcast was that the powers want an agreement, but not at any price.…

The six powers presented tough terms to the Iranians, and they rejected Iran’s request to conduct a fourth round of talks with higher-level representatives.… They did agree to arrange a meeting of jurists and nuclear experts to conduct a detailed review of the positions presented by both sides during the Moscow discussions. But the powers made it clear to the Iranians that they “want concrete actions, not just talks.…”

Jamie Fly & William Kristol

Weekly Standard, Jul 2, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 40

Recently, we wrote…that given the Obama administration’s lack of leadership on Iran in this “period of consequences,” Congress should step in to fill the void. As our editorial went to press, a bipartisan group of 44 senators began to do just that. In a letter organized by Senators Robert Menendez and Roy Blunt, the group outlined a series of steps Iran would have needed to take at the June 18-19 Moscow talks to justify further negotiations. These included shutting its previously covert enrichment facility near Qom, freezing enrichment above 5 percent, and shipping its stockpile of uranium enriched above that point out of the country.

The letter noted, “Absent these steps, we must conclude that Tehran is using the talks as a cover to buy time as it advances toward nuclear weapons capability.” And the senators called on the president to “reevaluate the utility of further talks at this time and instead focus on significantly increasing the pressure on the Iranian government through sanctions and making clear that a credible military option exists.”

With the subsequent failure of the Moscow talks, President Obama should heed this sensible advice from nearly half the Senate. At this point, the futility of further talks is pretty clear to any honest observer. The United States and our allies have made proposal after proposal, imposed sanction upon sanction, and even apparently deployed covert tools which we learn about on an almost daily basis as administration officials desperate to burnish the president’s image leak sensitive national security information. Despite all of this, the centrifuges continue to spin, the stockpile of enriched uranium grows, and Iran gets closer and closer to a nuclear weapons capability.

As “technical experts” meet in the coming weeks, and the Obama administration clings to a “process” that is going nowhere, Iran will undoubtedly use the intervening period to create additional facts on the ground, install more centrifuges, enrich more uranium, and continue to wreak havoc in Syria and plot attacks against U.S. interests and those of our allies. Iran’s strategic calculus remains unaffected.

Stephen Rademaker, one of the witnesses at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on June 20, testified that Iran has not been “sufficiently persuaded that military force really is in prospect should they fail to come to an acceptable agreement to the problem.”

The key to changing that is a serious debate about the military option. But even in the wake of the collapse of the talks, far too many otherwise serious people continue to hold out hope for a negotiated settlement brought about by increased economic pressure. All additional sanctions should be explored and enacted as soon as possible, but what the track record of more than a decade of negotiations with Iran tells us is that this is not a country about to concede. This is not a regime on the ropes or on the cusp of compromise, as many would have us believe.

This is a regime committed to developing nuclear weapons, despite the cost to the Iranian economy and the toll on the Iranian people. Time is running out and the consequences of inaction for the United States, Israel, and the free world will only increase in the weeks and months ahead. It’s time for Congress to seriously explore an Authorization of Military Force to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

Alan M. Dershowitz

Jerusalem Post, June 14, 2012

…It is clear that sanctions and diplomacy alone will not convince the Iranian mullahs to halt their progress toward their goal of an Iran with nuclear weapons. The only realistic possibility of persuading the Iranians to give up their nuclear ambitions is for them to believe that there is a credible threat of an American military attack on their nuclear facilities. Unless this threat is credible, the Iranians will persist. And if the Iranians persist, and the Israelis do not believe that the American threat is credible, the Israelis will undertake a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. It is crucial, therefore, for America’s military threat to be credible and to be perceived as credible by both the Israelis and the Iranians.

Enter J Street.

J Street is a lobby in Washington that advertises itself as “pro-Israel and pro-peace.” But its policy with regard to Iran is neither pro-Israel nor pro-peace. It is categorically opposed to any “military strike against Iran.” It is also opposed to maintaining any credible military threat against Iran, through “legislation, authorizing, encouraging or in other ways laying the ground work for the use of military force against Iran.” This is according to its official policy statement.…

By advocating this path…it is sending a message to both Iran and Israel that there is no credible military threat, and that if Iran is prepared to withstand sanctions and diplomacy, it will have nothing further to worry about if it moves forward with its nuclear weapons program.

The Obama administration has tried very hard to persuade Israel that there is no space between the American position and the Israeli position on Iran. Whether or not this is true, there is a hole the size of a nuclear crater between Israel’s position, reflecting a widespread consensus within that country, and J Street’s position. Virtually every Israeli wants the United States to keep the military option on the table. This includes “doves” such as President Shimon Peres.…

J Street can no longer pretend to be pro-Israel, since it is actively seeking to undercut a joint Israeli and American policy designed to protect Israel and the world from a nuclear armed Iran. Nor can J Street claim to be pro-peace, since its policy will likely encourage Iran to take actions that will inevitably result in an attack either by Israel, the United States or both.…

The Obama White House sometimes seems to be embracing J Street and its followers. This public embrace sends a message to Iran that the Obama administration may not mean it when it says that it will use military force if necessary to prevent a nuclear armed Iran. This may be a false message, but it is a dangerous one nevertheless.

Absolutely no good has come from J Street’s soft policy on Iran. Either J Street must change its policy, or truth in advertising requires that it no longer proclaim itself a friend of Israel.…

The following is excerpted from Alan M. Dershowitz’s June 28, 2012
FrontPage article, titled, “Iran Declares War Against The Jewish People”

The Iranian government, long known for its Holocaust denial and anti-Zionism, has now declared war against the Jewish people. In a speech delivered [Tuesday] in Tehran, [Iranian] Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi accused the Jewish people of spreading illegal drugs around the world, killing black babies, starting the Bolshevik Revolution and causing many of the world’s other ills.

His “proof”: “The Islamic Republic of Iran will pay for anyone who can research and find one single Zionist who is an addict. They do not exist. This is the proof of their involvement in drugs trade.…” He also cited “proof” that the Jews caused the Bolshevik Revolution: not a single Jew was killed during that Revolution. Of course, thousands of Jews were murdered during the Bolshevik Revolution as well as during Stalin’s purges in the decades following the establishment of the Soviet Union.…

Vice President Rahimi cited the Talmud as the source of his claptrap and in support of his claim that Jews believe that they are racially superior and that “God has created the world so that all other nations can serve them.”

These bigoted claims would be laughable if they did not have such a long and disturbing history. Virtually everything stated by Vice President Rahimi came directly out of Hitler’s playbook of the 1930s and Stalin’s playbook of the 1940s and 50s. They must be taken seriously in light of the fact that Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons and has already called for the Jewish state to be wiped off the map. Moreover, Iran’s surrogate, Hezbollah, has invited all the Jews of the world to move to Israel so that it will be easier to destroy them in one fell swoop.

Taken together, these statements and actions constitute a clear incitement to genocide, which is explicitly prohibited by international law and by the rules governing the International Criminal Court. Professor Irwin Cotler, the former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, has drafted a brilliant brief making the case for indicting the Iranian leaders for inciting genocide against the Jewish people. Vice President Rahimi’s speech constitutes additional evidence of that crime, if any were needed.…

I am asking people of good will to condemn all anti-Jewish bigotry…and to take action against the danger posed by the noxious combination of radioactive words and radioactive weapons.

Elliott Abrams

Council on Foreign Relations, June 27, 2012

Why is it significant that the vice president of Iran has used a United Nations forum to deliver an appalling anti-Semitic speech?… Because it reminds us that the assumptions behind the nuclear negotiations with Iran are questionable at best. Those assumptions include mirror-imaging, the belief that Iran’s regime will make the sorts of “rational” calculations the governments of the EU and United States would make in their place. Impose sanctions on Iran, reduce its income from oil sales, harm its economy, and surely the Supreme Leader and his advisers will react as we would, weighing almost mathematically the costs and benefits of the nuclear program.

Then comes Mr. Rahimi, teaching us that math may not be the best way to predict Iranian policy decisions. How do we factor in irrational hatred of Jews? How do we weigh a deep desire to destroy the Jewish state? How do we calculate the effect of beliefs that seem to us in the West to be preposterous, ludicrous, impossible? Or a better question: how do Israelis make those judgments?

As many historians—most recently, Andrew Roberts in The Storm of War, his superb history of the Second World War—have reminded us, lucid calculations are often absent, statesmanship often pushed aside by ideological obsessions, hatred more powerful than rational calculations. Just because we think it irrational for Iranian officials to make such speeches, or wreck their economy to pursue nuclear weapons, or threaten Israel, does not mean that such things are not happening and will not happen. Sitting around conference tables they may appear unlikely or impossible, but the Rahimi speech may be a better guide to Iranian foreign policy than the words spoken at those sessions.

Daniel Pipes

National Review, June 26, 2012

How would Iranians respond to an Israeli strike against their nuclear infrastructure? The answers given to this question matter greatly, as predictions about Iran’s response will affect not only Jerusalem’s decision, but also how much other states will work to impede an Israeli strike.

Analysts generally offer best-case predictions for policies of deterrence and containment (some commentators even go so far as to welcome an Iranian nuclear capability) while forecasting worst-case results from a strike. They foresee Tehran doing everything possible to retaliate, such as kidnapping, terrorism, missile attacks, naval combat, and closing the Strait of Hormuz. These predictions ignore two facts: Neither of Israel’s prior strikes against enemy states building nuclear weapons—Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007—prompted retaliation; and a review of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s history since 1979 points to, in the words of Michael Eisenstadt and Michael Knights, “a more measured and less apocalyptic—if still sobering—assessment of the likely aftermath of a preventive strike.”

Eisenstadt and Knights of the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy provide an excellent guide to possible scenarios in “Beyond Worst-Case Analysis: Iran’s Likely Responses to an Israeli Preventive Strike.” [Click HERE to view the full report—Ed.] Their survey of Iranian behavior over the past three decades leads them to anticipate that three main principles would likely shape and limit Tehran’s response to an Israeli strike: an insistence on reciprocity, a caution not to gratuitously make enemies, and a wish to deter further Israeli (or American) strikes.

The mullahs, in other words, face serious limits on their ability to retaliate, including military weakness and a pressing need not to make yet more external enemies. With these guidelines in place, Eisenstadt and Knights consider eight possible Iranian responses, which must be assessed while keeping in mind the alternative to pre-emptive action—namely, apocalyptic Islamists controlling nuclear weapons:

1. Terrorist attacks on Israeli, Jewish, and U.S. targets. Likely, but causing limited destruction.

2. Kidnapping of U.S. citizens, especially in Iraq. Likely, but limited in impact, as in the 1980s in Lebanon.

3. Attacks on Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. Very likely, especially via proxies, but causing limited destruction.

4. Missile strikes on Israel. Likely: a few missiles from Iran getting through Israeli defenses, leading to casualties likely in the low hundreds; missiles from Hezbollah limited in number due to domestic Lebanese considerations. Unlikely: Hamas getting involved, having distanced itself from Tehran; the Syrian government interfering, since it is battling for its life against an ever-stronger opposition army and possibly the Turkish armed forces. Overall, missile attacks are unlikely to do devastating damage.

5. Attacks on neighboring states. Likely: especially using terrorist proxies, for the sake of deniability. Unlikely: missile strikes, for Tehran does not want to make more enemies.

6. Clashes with the U.S. Navy. Likely, but, given the balance of power, doing limited damage.

7. Covertly mining the Strait of Hormuz. Likely, causing a run-up in energy prices.

8. Attempted closing of the Strait of Hormuz. Unlikely: difficult to achieve and potentially too damaging to Iranian interests, because the country needs the strait for commerce.

The authors also consider three potential side effects of an Israeli strike. Yes, Iranians might rally to their government in the immediate aftermath of a strike, but in the longer term Tehran “could be criticized for handling the nuclear dossier in a way that led to military confrontation.” The so-called Arab street is perpetually predicted to rise up in response to outside military attack, but it never does; it’s likely that unrest among the Shiite Muslims of the Persian Gulf would be counterbalanced by the many Arabs quietly cheering the Israelis. As for Iran leaving the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and starting an overt, crash nuclear-weapons program, while “a very real possibility,” the more the Iranians retaliated against a strike, the harder they would find it to obtain the parts for such a program.

In all, these dangers are unpleasant but not cataclysmic, manageable not devastating. Eisenstadt and Knights expect a short phase of high-intensity Iranian response, to be followed by a “protracted low-intensity conflict that could last for months or even years”—much as already exists between Iran and Israel. An Israeli preventive strike, they conclude, while a “high-risk endeavor carrying a potential for escalation in the Levant or the Gulf…would not be the apocalyptic event some foresee.”

This analysis makes a convincing case that the danger of nuclear weapons falling into Iranian hands far exceeds the danger of a military strike to prevent this from happening.




Dore Gold

Le CAPE de Jérusalem, 26 juin 2012

Avant même la déclaration annonçant officiellement les résultats des élections présidentielles et la victoire de Mohamed Morsi, plusieurs observateurs ont tenté d’analyser les retombées d’un pouvoir islamiste en Égypte, dans le pays arabe le plus influent de la région. Les milieux  diplomatiques n’ont pas été surpris de cette victoire, car depuis déjà quelques années ils avaient tendance à reconnaître la confrérie des Frères musulmans comme organisation légitime.

 En février 2011, James Klaper, conseiller du président Obama dans les affaires des services de renseignements, a osé dire devant la commission du Congrès américain : « les « Frères musulmans » est une notion qui qualifie en terme général divers mouvements; dans le cas de l’Égypte,  il s’agit d’un groupe très hétérogène, en majorité laïc, qui évite d’utiliser la violence et a même condamné Al Qaïda  pour avoir déformé les valeurs de l’Islam ». Mais voilà que trois mois plus tard, le site officiel des Frères musulmans condamne les États-Unis pour avoir assassiné Ben Laden.

Même si Klaper a déjà rectifié le tir et s’est rétracté quelque peu de ses propos, il semble que les analyses et les commentaires indiquent un changement de politique aux États-Unis comme en Grande Bretagne. Ils se sont accentués après la chute de Hosni Moubarak.

 Ainsi, en juin 2011, la Secrétaire d’État Hillary Clinton a expliqué que l’administration Obama  poursuivra  sa politique, en précisant que des contacts limités avec les Frères musulmans sont en cours et qu’ils existent déjà par intermittence depuis plus de cinq ans ». Clinton a ajouté que « Washington souhaite entamer des liens avec tous ceux qui défendent la paix et s’engagent à agir contre  la violence, car ils vont de pair avec les intérêts des États-Unis ».

 Et pourtant, au Moyen-Orient les Frères musulmans sont considérés différemment, et pour preuve…: En 2005, l’ancien ministre de l’Éducation du Koweït, Dr. Ahmed al Rabi, écrit dans le quotidien saoudien « A-Chraq al Wassad : « la source du terrorisme religieux qui déferle  aujourd’hui provient de l’idéologie des Frères musulmans… » Et il  ajoute : « toute personne  qui a collaboré avec Ben Laden et Al-Qaïda était à l’origine un Frère musulman ». Deux ans plus tard,  Hussein Shovokashi, célèbre chroniqueur du même quotidien écrit : « À ce jour, les Frères musulmans n’ont  apporté aucune contribution, mis à part  fanatisme, querelles et parfois assassinats ».

 Ces analyses sont parfaitement exactes en voici quelques exemples éloquents: Abdullah Azam, qui fut le mentor de Ben Laden, était à l’origine membre  de la confrérie des Frères musulmans en Jordanie. Ayman Azwahiri, qui fut l’adjoint de Ben Laden et actuellement son successeur à la tête d’al Qaïda, a été membre  actif des Frères musulmans en Égypte. Khalid Cheikh Mohammed, l’architecte des attentats du 11 septembre, a été formé dans la branche koweïtienne des Frères musulmans.

Après de longues années de soutien financier, l’Arabie Saoudite à aussi compris que la confrérie poursuit d’autres objectifs. Le prince héritier saoudien Naïf, (décédé au début du mois suite à une longue maladie) avait déclaré juste après les attentats du 11 septembre que les Frères musulmans sont « la source de tous les malheurs du monde islamique ».

 Au Moyen-Orient,  les Frères musulmans sont donc perçu différemment qu’en Occident. La rhétorique employée par les leaders de la confrérie est la preuve la plus tranchante qu’il s’agit bien d’une organisation qui prône la violence aveugle. Leur guide suprême, Mohamed Badi, a écrit le 23 décembre 2010, dans son message hebdomadaire publié dans le site officiel des Frères musulmans: « je m’oppose farouchement à toute négociation avec Israël » et il ajoute : « La Palestine sera pas libérée  par l’espoir et les prières, mais par le djihad et le sacrifice ». Lorsqu’en janvier 2012, Badi est devenu officiellement le leader incontesté  des Frères musulmans, et d’ailleurs contrairement aux prédictions et analyses de Washington et de Londres, plusieurs observateurs ont conclu que la confrérie se radicalise. Ce fut en effet le cas en  Syrie mais aussi en Jordanie.

Ainsi n’est-il pas surprenant que lors de la dernière campagne électorale, un influent prêtre égyptien du nom de Safuat Higazi déclarait : « nous envisageons l’accomplissement de notre rêve pour établir le califat islamique, et si Allah le veut, avec Dr. Mohamed Morsi, ses frères, ses partisans et son parti… Notre capitale ne sera plus le Caire, la Mecque ou Médine, mais Jérusalem! ».

L’installation des Frères musulmans en Égypte aura des conséquences énormes et graves pour tout le Moyen Orient. Durant cette dernière décennie, lorsque Abou Mazen avait souhaité un soutien politique dans le cadre de ses négociations avec Israël, il s’est tourné généralement vers le Président Moubarak ; À qui s’adressera –t-il aujourd’hui ? Si les Frères musulmans accéderaient au pouvoir également en Syrie, cela mettrait le roi Abdallah de Jordanie dans un grand embarras. Il sera dans l’obligation de déléguer plus de pouvoir au Parlement jordanien, et cédera probablement aux exigences de nommer un Premier ministre et des membres du Cabinet proches de la confrérie. Dans la nouvelle donne le Hamas marque des points et se renforce considérablement.

 Nous avons  parfois tendance d’oublier que les Frères musulmans ont un ordre de jour planétaire.  Tous les porte-parole de l’organisation ont déclaré à maintes reprises que l’Islam « envahira » par la prédiction l’Europe et l’Amérique. Les Frères musulmans vont-ils utiliser leurs réseaux européens pour faire avancer leur agenda politique international ? Les Frères musulmans vont-ils modérer leurs positions suite à la prise du pouvoir ? Les régimes islamiques au Soudan et dans la bande de Gaza, n’ont-ils pas appliqué à la lettre les lois religieuses?  Au début des années 90, Khartoum, n’avait-elle pas donné refuge à des dizaines d’organisations terroristes, tels que le Hamas et Al Qaïda? Les Frères musulmans suivront-ils cette voie dans la péninsule du Sinaï ?

Le nouveau pouvoir en Égypte se comportera en fonction des réactions de la communauté internationale. Si l’Occident adopte en son sein l’organisation des Frères musulmans comme « mouvement modéré » et n’adresse à son égard aucune critique, il est fort douteux que la confrérie islamiste modifiera son caractère combatif et ses projets politiques.


Guy Millière, 25 juin 2012

Il ne fait aucun doute que les carnages qui s’opèrent en Syrie sont atroces. Il ne fait aucun doute que l’armée de Bachar Al Assad est une armée barbare et criminelle. Il ne fait aucun doute, non plus, que les Casques bleus de l’ONU dépêchés sur place sont abominablement inutiles, et ne servent, comme partout où des Casques bleus sont dépêchés, qu’à compter les cadavres.

On peut comprendre que certains clament qu’il faudrait intervenir. Je pense qu’une intervention n’aura pas lieu, et qu’il y a plusieurs raisons à cela. La première est le précédent constitué par la Libye. L’intervention destinée à chasser Kadhafi a eu, comme c’était prévisible, des résultats effroyables que Bernard-Henri Lévy sera bientôt le seul à nier.

À une dictature brutale a succédé un régime islamiste tout aussi brutal, qui a pratiqué l’épuration ethnique et tué des Africains noirs par milliers. Des armes ont été disséminées dans toute la zone sud du Sahara, en Somalie, au Yémen, dans le Sinaï et à Gaza. Aucun dirigeant européen ou américain n’enverra, pour le moment, d’ambassadeur vers la République islamique de l’Azawad, née d’une partition de fait du Mali. Mais tous les dirigeants européens et américains savent que la République islamique de l’Azawad est née grâce à l’intervention en Libye.

Un changement de régime, quand des abominations sont commises, est possible et concevable, mais il implique une intervention armée directe et une supervision de moyen terme. En Libye, il n’y a eu ni l’une, ni l’autre.

Une intervention en Syrie ne pourrait être une intervention armée directe et ne serait pas accompagnée non plus d’une supervision de moyen terme. Aucun dirigeant européen ou américain, après la Libye, ne voudra s’impliquer en Syrie et assumer la responsabilité des effets secondaires susceptibles d’en découler.

La deuxième raison est l’implication directe en Syrie de plusieurs acteurs géopolitiques majeurs. Kadhafi avait pour alliés les pays occidentaux, qui se sont retournés contre lui. Assad n’a pas fait la même erreur. Ses alliés sont l’Iran et la Russie. L’Iran joue, en Syrie, son hégémonie régionale et ne laissera chuter le régime Assad qu’après s’être battu jusqu’au bout. Intervenir en Syrie serait intervenir contre l’Iran. Les dirigeants européens et américains le savent et n’entendent, jusqu’à nouvel ordre, pas prendre ce risque.

La Russie, elle, joue sa présence en Méditerranée. Sans le port de Tartous, elle n’aurait plus un seul port sur une mer cruciale, qui relie l’Europe à l’Afrique. La Russie ne laissera pas non plus chuter le régime Assad. Espérer même qu’elle se fasse à l’idée d’un régime Assad sans Bachar al Assad est trop espérer.

Si, pure hypothèse que je ne veux pas exclure totalement, une intervention devait avoir lieu malgré tout, celle-ci pourrait, au mieux, désormais, se révéler être un remède égal au mal. Si, au début de l’insurrection en Syrie, il existait des factions modérées, celles-ci, depuis, ont été sacrifiées par l’administration Obama sur l’autel de ses liens avec l’islamisme sunnite.

Désormais, le choix en Syrie est entre le maintien au pouvoir du régime Assad, qui, sans nul doute, continuera à massacrer, et l’arrivée au pouvoir d’une coalition de circonstance où les Frères musulmans voisinent avec al Qaïda. Et, si cette coalition arrivait effectivement au pouvoir, nul ne peut douter que des massacres de grande ampleur auraient lieu aussi : les premiers tués seraient les alaouites, membres de cette branche du chiisme à laquelle appartient la famille Assad. Suivraient immédiatement les chrétiens, qui constituent une part notable de la population syrienne et qui se sont ralliés d’emblée au régime.

La situation peut se résumer ainsi : un régime allié au djihadisme iranien combat les adeptes du djihadisme sunnite. C’est donc djihad contre djihad. Une victoire finale du régime Assad serait un bain de sang effroyable. Une victoire des opposants au régime Assad serait aussi un bain de sang effroyable.

C’est terrible à dire, mais la poursuite de la guerre civile serait, presque, la moins pire des issues. Des djihadistes tuent d’autres djihadistes. Des carnages atroces ont lieu. Il faudra un jour regarder en face l’atrocité du djihadisme lui-même. C’est là que réside le problème, et il dépasse la seule Syrie.


Dr. Efraim Kam

JSS News, 26 juin 2012

Les dernières séries de négociations avec l’Iran ont apporté un nouveau souffle d’optimisme. Les pourparlers ont commencé il y a deux mois et ont eu lieu jusqu’à présent à Istanbul, Bagdad et Moscou. Lors de la dernière ronde de négociation qui s’est tenue à Moscou, l’Iran a présenté un regain d’intérêt pour la parlotte, en raison de la pression exercée sur elle de tous les côtés : de lourdes sanctions qui lui sont imposées exigent que la République Islamique paye un tribut de plus en plus élevé – et c’est sans même parler de la menace militaire, à savoir une attaque israélienne – un sujet qui revient régulièrement dans la presse internationale. Les iraniens ne peuvent pas l’ignorer. En outre, avant les pourparlers à Bagdad, le chef de l’Agence Internationale de l’Energie Atomique avaient fait une rare visite à Téhéran et avait annoncé qu’un accord était en préparation, même si certains détails n’ont pas encore été fixés. L’Iran a montré sa volonté par des signes visibles de flexibilité.

Au cœur des pourparlers, trois exigences ont été posées à l’Iran. Tout d’abord, la fermeture de l’installation nucléaire de Fordo, une usine secrète (au départ), construite au plus profond d’une montagne pour dissuader de toute attaque militaire. La seconde demande internationale est l’arrêt de l’enrichissement de l’uranium après la barre des 20% (après 20%, il ne s’agit plus d’uranium à usage civil mais militaire). Ces deux dernières années, l’Iran n’a fait qu’enrichir son uranium à des niveaux plus élevés que 20%. Enfin, l’AIEA réclame une augmentation significative des visites dans les installations nucléaires, en particulier à Parchin, soupçonné d’être une installation d’essais pour les armes nucléaires.

D’une part, les Iraniens ont signalé leur intention tout au long des entretiens, de parvenir à un accord sur leurs conditions en ce qui concerne l’enrichissement et l’observation, et en excluant la fermeture du centre de Fordo. D’autre part, les Iraniens ont exigé que les sanctions occidentales soient levées et que l’occident reconnaisse le droit à l’Iran d’enrichir de l’uranium.

On le comprend : on est encore loin d’un accord. Et malgré les pourparlers se terminant encore par un échec (sauf selon les agences de presse), ce n’est certainement pas la fin de l’effort diplomatique. Les gouvernements occidentaux ne feront qu’ajouter de nouvelles sanctions : les gouvernements européens sont actuellement dans un processus d’approbation d’une décision d’arrêt des importations du pétrole iranien à partir juillet, et les États-Unis se prépare une nouvelle vague de sanctions. Il est possible que l’administration américaine signale que l’option militaire est toujours sur la table. L’Occident va tenter d’exploiter la pression sur l’Iran pour les ramener à la table des négociations encore et toujours pour tenter, encore et toujours, d’obtenir un accord qu’ils n’obtiendront jamais.

Mais à chaque échec des pourparlers, les deux partis se rapprochent de l’instant de vérité. L’Iran devra décider combien il est prêt à concéder avant que les sanctions. Il peut être disposé à faire des concessions tactiques, tant que le chemin vers des armes nucléaires ne lui est pas complètement bloqué. L’administration américaine devra décider, compte tenu des progrès actuels de l’Iran, s’il s’en tiendra à son engagement d’empêcher une arme nucléaire en Iran, en utilisant s’il le faut y compris l’option militaire, ou en admettant qu’il ne peut pas empêcher l’Iran et ainsi de passer à une politique de dissuasion nucléaire et de confinement.

Le manque de percées dans les négociations présente une réalité complexe pour Israël. D’une part, Israël est accablé par la possibilité d’un accord plein de trous qui permettrait l’Iran de poursuivre son chemin de pavage vers des armes nucléaires. On n’en est encore pas là, mais cela demeure possible. D’autre part, tandis que les efforts diplomatiques ont échoué jusqu’à présent, la porte d’une opération militaire n’est pas vraiment ouverte pour Jérusalem. Les gouvernements européens continuent à s’opposer à cela, et il est juste de supposer que le gouvernement américain ne soit pas encore mûr pour une attaque. Obama voudrait peut-être d’autres sanctions avant une attaque.

Si tel est le cas, Israël sera lui confiné à sa position familière, c’est à dire mettre la pression sur l’Iran, affirmant que l’échec diplomatique en cours signifie la non-intention iranienne de stopper la construction d’armes nucléaires. Israël affirmera entre autres que les négociations sont inutiles aujourd’hui et qu’elles ne permettent, dans les faits, à l’Iran, que de gagner du temps.

Et pendant ce temps, la fenêtre d’opportunité pour une frappe militaire ne cesse de se rétrécir.


Jean-Patrick Grumberg, 26 juin 2012

Lors de son séjour en Israël, Vladimir Poutine a souhaité se rendre au Kotel, ou mur des lamentations, (NDLR appellation impropre mais en usage en France) l’un des pans du mur restant du temple juif reconstruit dans la capitale juive il y a deux mille ans.

C’est la troisième visite de Poutine au mur, et, fort bien informé des manœuvres des arabes pour déjudaïser Jérusalem, lesquels ont contraint l’UNESCO, grâce à une majorité automatique, à faire disparaître tout lien historique entre les Juifs et leur capitale, Poutine a fait, sur place, cette déclaration en apparence anodine, mais qui est tout sauf le fait du hasard : « on peut voir comment le passé Juif est gravé dans la pierre de Jérusalem ».

On attend la même déclaration de Barack Obama…


Media-ocrities of the Week


Israel claims the [targeted Palestinians] were about to launch a rocket over the border from Gaza. Hamas of Gaza denies that, but retaliatory rocket attacks were launched from Gaza after the Israeli strike. They were the first rockets fired from Gaza in more than a year.…”—Canadian Broadcasting Corporation news anchor Reshmi Nair, erroneously claiming that last week’s unprovoked and indiscriminate firing of more than 130 rockets into Israel from Gaza represented the first such incident in over a year. According to the Israel Defense Forces, in “2012 alone, over 270 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip hit Israel” and “in 2011, 627 rockets from Gaza hit Israeli towns.” In response, HonestReporting Canada contacted senior editors at CBC News to alert them of the misstatement; the station thereafter commissioned an on-air correction expressing “regret” for the “error.” (HonestReporting Canada, June 20.)


In a race for Congress between an anti-Zionist black activist and a black activist who is a bought and paid for Zionist Uncle Tom, I’ll take the anti-Zionist any day.… Why? Because I think there’s no greater danger facing the…world than the unbridled power of Zionist globalism.”—Former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard and self-described “white nationalist,” David Duke, endorsing African-American and fierce anti-Israel critic Charles Barron in New York’s 8th Congressional District Democratic primary. Barron has in the past referred to Gaza as “a virtual death camp, the same kind of conditions the Nazis imposed on the Jews,” and accused Israel of “massacr[ing] the Palestinian people…[in] what amounts to genocide.” [According to preliminary results, Barron lost the primary race to state Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries by a two-to-one margin—Ed.] (FrontPage, June 22 & JTA, June 27.)


I must mention human rights violations in Syria and, being in Israel, human rights violations in the West Bank. Silence in the face of evil is evil.”—Michael Wernstedt, grand-nephew of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who rescued 100,000 Jews during Holocaust, equating Israel’s policies in the West Bank with the Syrian regime’s violent suppression of the ongoing uprising. Wernstedt has since backtracked from his comments—made at a symposium at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum marking 100 years since Raoul Wallenberg’s birth—conceding he has never visited Judea and Samaria and that his information comes from three notoriously anti-Israel NGOs: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem. (Jerusalem Post, June 27.)\


Weekly Quotes


Egypt is for all Egyptians, all of us equal in our rights and our responsibilities to this nation.”—Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi, in his first speech after being declared winner of Egypt’s presidential election, pledging to establish a “modern, democratic, and constitutional government.” Carrying “a message of peace,” Morsi also promised to “honor international treaties and agreements,” a possible reference to the 1979 peace deal with Israel. He concluded by paying tribute to the “blood of the [Egyptian revolution’s] martyrs.” (Times of Israel, June 24 & Wall Street Journal, June 25.)


He did not give any interview to Fars News and everything this agency has published is baseless.”—Spokesman for Egyptian president-elect Mohamed Morsi, after Iran’s Fars News Agency published excerpts of an alleged June 24 interview with Morsi in which he vowed to “revise the [Israel-Egypt] Camp David [peace] treaty”. (Weekly Standard, June 25.)


We look forward to working together with President-elect Morsi and the government he forms.… The United States…stand[s] with the Egyptian people as they pursue their aspirations for democracy, dignity, and opportunity, and fulfill the promise of their revolution.”—White House spokesman Jay Carney, congratulating the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi on behalf of the Obama administration. (Weekly Standard, June 24.)


Israel looks forward to continuing cooperation with the Egyptian government on the basis of the peace treaty between the two countries, which is a joint interest of both peoples and contributes to regional stability.”—Excerpt of a statement issued by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Office, urging the new Egyptian government to uphold the 1979 peace agreement. (JTA, June 24.)


I am confident that the West will deal with Hamas and remove the movement from the terrorism list.”—Hamas official Ahmad Yousef, predicting that the ascendance of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’ progenitor, will pave the way for “the international community to recognize [Hamas].…” (Independent Media Review and Analysis, June 26.)


We hope that the first action to be taken by the new Egyptian president will be the removal of the siege of the Gaza Strip, reopening of the border crossings and facilitating transit of construction materials and financial aid…[into] this war-stricken region.”—Yousef Rezqeh, a political advisor to Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh, calling on Egypt’s president-elect to pressure Israel into removing the legal blockade on Gaza. For his part, Haniyeh confirmed that his terror group “will look to Egypt to play a big, leading role…in helping the Palestinian nation get freedom [and] return home.…” (Independent Media Review and Analysis & FrontPage, June 26.)


We will not accept our citizens’ way of life being harmed and we will not tolerate citizens getting hit from Sinai terror.”—Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, warning Egypt that Israel “will not accept [Sinai-based] rocket fire.” [Over the last several months, Israel’s response to the growing terror threat emanating from Sinai has been reserved, in part because it did not want to be seen as interfering in the Egyptian election. Now that the election is over, however, Defense Minister Barak appears to have toughened his stance—Ed.] (Jerusalem Post, June 25.)


The image shows heavy machinery tracks and earth displacement throughout the site. There is evidence of…excavation activity near the…building suspected to contain the high explosive [nuclear] testing chamber.”—Excerpt of a report by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a US security organization which monitors Iran’s nuclear program, claiming new satellite imagery of the Islamic Republic’s Parchin military facility “shows what appears to be further sanitization activity.” ISIS last month voiced concerns that Iran was trying to “destroy evidence” of atomic research at Parchin, including the razing of two small buildings. International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors continue to be denied access to Parchin despite repeated appeals. (Reuters, June 20.)


A nuclear Iran will be the end of the nonproliferation regime: Saudi Arabia will turn nuclear immediately, Turkey within several years, and probably the new Egypt will start moving to do it. Not to mention the potential of weapons-grade material leaking into the hands of terrorist groups from Iran.”—Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, warning the West that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons will trigger a proliferation race in the Middle East. When asked about the likelihood of reaching a diplomatic solution to Iran’s drive for nuclear capability, Barak stressed that Israelis “hope [to] wake up and there will be an agreement…but we are too realistic.” (Jerusalem Post, June 21.)


If the Zionist regime takes any [military] actions against Iran, it would result in the end of its labors.…  It is they who will be destroyed.”—Brigadier-General Mostafa Izadi, deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, claiming an Israeli military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities would lead to the collapse of the Jewish state. (Reuters, June 23.)


The Iranian regime is…composed of…anti-Semitic fanatics who have a detailed worldwide plan, part of which, as they admit openly, is the destruction of the State of Israel.… Hitler also said crazy things and succeeded in carrying out his plan.”—Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, condemning Iranian first Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi for a speech he gave at a UN-sponsored conference in Tehran in which he blamed “Zionists and Jews” for controlling the international drug trade, orchestrating the Russian Revolution and ordering the killing of black babies. Rahimi also claimed that the Talmud teaches to “destroy everyone who opposes the Jews.” (Jerusalem Post, June 27.)


We live in a real state of war from all angles. When we are in a war, all policies…and all sectors need to be directed at winning this war.”—Syrian President Bashar Assad, describing Syria as being in state of civil war, and ordering loyalists to direct all their efforts towards vanquishing the uprising against his regime. (Reuters, June 26.)


Up to 1.5 million people now need humanitarian assistance in Syria.”—Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), announcing that the number of Syrians requiring humanitarian aid has risen to 1.5 million. (Reuters, June 22.)


We believe that nobody has the right to decide for other nations who should be brought to power, who should be removed from power.”—Russian President Vladimir Putin, reiterating Russian opposition to any foreign intervention in Syria. US President Barack Obama thereafter confirmed that both Russia and China have not “signed on at this point” to any plan for the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad. (Reuters, June 20.)


Everybody should know that Turkey’s wrath is strong and devastating. Every military element approaching Turkey from the Syrian border and representing a security risk…will be treated as a military target.”—Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, following last week’s shooting down by Syria of a Turkish F-4 Phantom jet in international airspace, warning Syrian President Bashar Assad that the incident “would not go unpunished” and that the Turkish army’s rules of engagement along the Syrian border have now changed. Turkey has demanded backing from its NATO allies and called a meeting in Brussels under Article 4 of the alliance’s charter, which provides for consultations when a member state feels its security is threatened. (Reuters & Wall Street Journal, June 26.)


It’s another example of the Syrian authorities’ disregard for international norms, peace and security, and human life. NATO allies have expressed strong condemnation of this completely unacceptable act and we have expressed strong support for a solidarity with Turkey.”—NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, denouncing Syria’s downing of a Turkish jet and for the first time describing the Assad regime as a threat to international security. Rasmussen pledged to respond to further Syrian provocations and said NATO would “discuss what else could be done.” (Wall Street Journal, June 26.)


I believe that there is an opportunity to restart negotiations. I have a firm basis for believing this will happen in the near future.”—Israeli Vice Premier and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, following a meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington, predicting Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations will soon be renewed without preconditions. (Jerusalem Post, June 21.)


I discussed with Clinton the Palestinian stance.… How can we negotiate while Israel is continuing to build settlements?… Israel must choose between peace and settlements.”—Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat, following a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary in Washington, reiterating the Palestinians’ refusal to return to peace talks unless Israel freezes all construction in “settlements” and releases 123 Palestinian security prisoners. Last week, PA President Mahmoud Abbas declared the peace process “clinically dead.” (Jerusalem Post, June 21.)


The lives of about a million Israelis are paralyzed.… As long as Israel’s southern communities will not know quiet, it will not be quiet in Gaza.”—Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, lodging an official complaint with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon over last week’s firing of more than 130 rockets into Israel from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. (Jerusalem Post, June 22.)


Short Takes


EU CONFIRMS FULL IRAN OIL EMBARGO TO START SUNDAY—(Luxembourg) European Union foreign ministers have confirmed that a full embargo of Iranian oil exports will enter into force July 1 as initially planned. The ban is the centerpiece of a stricter EU approach to Iran over its nuclear program, which also includes sweeping financial sanctions and an asset freeze and travel ban on scores of senior officials and Iranian companies. The confirmation of the embargo had been widely expected after last week’s nuclear talks in Moscow between international powers and Iran ended in failure. EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton has since reiterated that the gap between the two sides remains “extremely wide.” (Wall Street Journal, June 25.)


REPORT: SENIOR SYRIA REGIME FIGURES TRYING TO DEFECT—(Jerusalem) According to the Daily Telegraph, citing unnamed US sources, members of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s inner circle are covertly planning to defect and join the opposition in the event the Syrian regime becomes critically threatened by the uprising. The report claims that senior Syrian military commanders have outlined “exit strategies” and are making direct contact with rebel forces to ensure that they will be welcomed and not persecuted. The news follows the key desertion last week of a Syrian air force colonel, who defected to Jordan by aircraft after abandoning a mission to attack the city of Dera’a. The Syrian regime so far has headed off mass diplomatic defections as occurred in the fall of former Libyan dictator Col Muammar Gaddafi. Syrian opposition groups confirmed they are actively courting American help to encourage more defections. (Jerusalem Post, June 22.)


AHMED SHAFIQ FLEES EGYPT FOLLOWING ISLAMIST ELECTION VICTORY—(Cairo) Ahmed Shafiq, Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister and loser of Egypt’s presidential runoff, has fled the country for the United Arab Emirates. Shafiq’s campaign claims that he left for a short visit and will return after making a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia; however, the move came only hours after Egypt’s prosecutor-general opened an investigation into allegations Shafiq wasted public funds during his 8-year term as a civil aviation minister in the ousted regime. The Egyptian daily Al Shorouk reported that at least 24 lawsuits have been filed against Shafiq and that a judge was planning to summon him for questioning. (Times of Israel, June 26.)


RIVLIN MUST EXPLAIN REJECTION OF TIBI ‘NAKBA’ BILL—(Jerusalem) Israel’s High Court of Justice has issued an interim order demanding that Knesset Speaker Reuben Rivlin justify his refusal to allow MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) propose a bill relating to the “Nakba,” or Catastrophe, a term used by Palestinians to describe the founding of the State of Israel. Tibi’s Nakba Bill would empower Israel’s Finance Minister to cut state funding to organizations that “deny publicly that Nakba Day was a historical, real event that constitutes a disaster for the Palestinian people.” In preventing Tibi’s bill from being tabled, Rivlin explained that he had the power to deny any audience for it because the legislation rejected Israel as a Jewish state. (Jerusalem Post, June 20.)


WAKF TO UK STUDENT: NO KIPPOT ON TEMPLE MT.—(Jerusalem) An official from the Islamic trust—Wafk—that administers the Temple Mount in Israel has denied entry to a visiting orthodox student because he was adorning a kippah. The 20-year-old from London, who attends the University of Leeds, was told that Jewish ritual head coverings were not allowed in what the official called “an [Islamic] holy place.” The Wakf restricts non-Muslims from entering the site outside specific visiting hours, and no form of non-Muslim worship is tolerated. However, religious clothing such as kippot and tzitzit have in the past been permitted. Accordingly, Rabbi Chaim Richman of The Temple Institute described the incident as “the opening of a new front of anti-Semitism at the hands of the Islamic Wakf committed to eradicating all Jewish connection to the site.” The student chose not to enter the Temple Mount instead of removing his kippah. (Jerusalem Post, June 21.)


DUTCH SENATE RATIFIES DEAL ALLOWING SHECHITAH—(The Hague) The Dutch senate has approved a deal to continue allowing ritual slaughter, shechitah, in the Netherlands. The agreement represents a compromise between Jewish and Muslim leaders and the Dutch Animal Rights Party, which withdrew a bill that had passed the lower house of parliament in June 2011 that would have made mandatory the stunning of all animals before slaughter, thereby rendering them unkosher. According to he compromise, ritual slaughter will be permitted so long as the animals lose consciousness within 40 seconds. (JTA, June 13.)


NORWEGIAN PARTY SEEKS TO OUTLAW CIRCUMCISION—(New York) A member of Norway’s governing coalition, the Centre Party, has announced it will seek to outlaw circumcision in the country. Ervin Kohn, president of the Jewish Community in Oslo, described the issue as “an existential matter,” as “banning circumcision would send a loud message that the Jewish minority is not wanted.” The ruling Labor Party has yet to formulate a stance on the issue. Norway is among a handful of European countries where the kosher slaughter of animals is prohibited. (JTA, June 25.)


U.S. CONGRESSMEN URGE HUNGARIAN PM TO OPPOSE ANTI-SEMITISM—(The Hague) Fifty U.S. congressmen have written a letter to Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban urging him to “use [his] authority to speak out against anti-Semitism.” The letter focuses on the “anti-Semitic…positions espoused by members of the Jobbik Party”—an extreme-right nationalist movement and the Hungary’s third largest political party—whose presidential candidate, Krisztina Morvai, has called Israelis “lice-infested, dirty murderers.” Earlier this month, Elie Wiesel renounced Hungary’s highest honor, the Order of Merit, Grand Cross, awarded to him in 2004, after several Hungarian lawmakers participated in a memorial ceremony for Jozsef Nyiro, a WWII member of Hungary’s parliament who supported Hitler. Following the participation of Hungarian National Assembly Speaker László Kövér in the ceremony, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin retracted his invitation to Kover to visit Israel’s parliament for an event honoring the 100th birthday of Raoul Wallenberg, who was based in Hungary during the Holocaust. Last week, the president of Hungary’s Jewish community declared that Hungarian Jews “feel increasing danger.” (JTA, June 24 & Jerusalem Post, June 25.)


NEW $1 MILLION ‘JEWISH NOBEL PRIZE’ ESTABLISHED—(Jerusalem) The establishment of a new $1-million “Jewish Nobel Prize,” the Genesis Prize, has been announced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in conjunction with Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and Genesis Philanthropy Group founder Mikhail Fridman. According to Fridman, “The Genesis Prize emphasizes the contribution of the Jews to world history. Far-reaching achievements in science, the arts, business, medicine, diplomacy and other fields of human endeavor have been realized thanks to the Jewish people’s natural aspiration to improve the world, and to its desire to pass its moral values on to coming generations.” (JTA, June 26.)


On Sunday, Egypt’s electoral commission released the official results of the country’s first ever—and possibly last—democratic presidential election: the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamist candidate, Mohamed Morsi, was declared winner, having garnered approximately 52% of the run-off vote against ex-military man Ahmed Shafiq.


Dore Gold

Israel Hayom, June 22, 2012

The announcement that the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsi, had won the presidential elections in Egypt…caused many across the Middle East to consider the implications of an Islamist victory in the most important and influential Arab state. In the West, it is doubtful that foreign ministries are in a state of shock, since there has been a growing readiness to accept the Muslim Brotherhood in recent years.

In February 2011, James Clapper, U.S. President Barack Obama’s senior intelligence advisor made an embarrassing statement in front of the House Intelligence Committee, when he said: “The term ‘Muslim Brotherhood’…is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried al-Qaida as a perversion of Islam.” Three months later on its official website, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood condemned the U.S. for eliminating Osama bin Laden.…

Clapper’s assessment about the Muslim Brotherhood appeared to reflect a growing shift in the U.S. foreign policy establishment that…became more prominent…after the fall of Mubarak. Thus at the end of June 2011, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained that the Obama administration was “continuing the approach of limited contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood…[as] it was in the interests of the United States to engage with all parties that are peaceful and committed to non-violence.…”

But how was the Muslim Brotherhood seen in the Middle East? In 2005, a former Kuwaiti Minister of Education, Dr. Ahmad al-Rabi’, wrote in the Saudi-owned Asharq Alawsat: “The beginnings of all the religious terrorism that we are witnessing today were in the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology.” He added that “all those who worked with bin Laden and al-Qaida went out under the mantle of the Muslim Brotherhood.…”

Shabokshi’s analysis was correct: bin Laden’s mentor, Abdullah Azzam, came out of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood; Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s deputy (and current head of al-Qaida) came from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood; and the mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, grew up in the Kuwaiti branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.…

Without a doubt, the Middle Eastern understanding of the Muslim Brotherhood is more accurate. The rhetoric of the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood is the best proof that it still remains an organization advocating violence. Its General Guide in Egypt, Muhammad al-Badi’, published a weekly message on the Muslim Brotherhood website on December 23, 2010 opposing negotiations with Israel and adding that “Palestine will not be liberated by hopes and prayers, but rather by Jihad and sacrifice.” When al-Badi’ became the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in January 2010, contrary to the analysis in Washington and London, many Middle Eastern commentators in fact said that the movement was moving in a more radical direction; the same was true of the leadership changes in the Syrian and Jordanian branches of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well.

Given these regional trends with the Muslim Brotherhood, it should then have come as no surprise that when Morsi’s campaign for the presidency was formally launched on May 1, 2012, an Egyptian cleric, Sawfat Higazi, who shared the stage with Morsi announced: “we can see how the dream of the Islamic Caliphate is being realized, Allah willing, by Dr. Mohamed Morsi.…” He added “Our capital shall not be Cairo, Mecca, or Medina. It shall be Jerusalem, Allah willing our cry shall be: ‘Millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem.…’” Morsi did not challenge this message.…

There remains the question of whether the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood will moderate its policies should it come to power, given that any Egyptian government first and foremost has tens of millions of mouths to feed. In the past, other Muslim Brotherhood regimes in Sudan and in Gaza rigidly adhered to their Islamist agenda. Indeed, the regime in Khartoum, under Hassan Turabi, hosted dozens of terrorist organizations from Hamas to al-Qaida in the early 1990s. It was at that time that Osama bin Laden made Sudan the center of his operations prior to his move to Afghanistan. Will the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood do the same with Sinai in the future?

The answer to this question depends on the future relations between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian army which is trying to retain certain powers for itself. But it will also depend to a great extent upon what it hears from the international community…[and] spokesmen for the U.S. State Department and the Pentagon [are] press[ing] the Egyptian Army to relinquish the governing role it is seeking to carve out for itself.…

[In fact], according to the Los Angeles Times, U.S. officials…were “deeply concerned by an Egyptian military decree giving the generals sweeping powers to pass laws and decide whether to go to war.” This was a stunning statement…given the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and its ties to its Palestinian branch, Hamas. Leaving Egypt’s war-making powers with the Egyptian military is far safer for the world than transferring them to a Muslim Brotherhood government.…

If the West continues down this course and uncritically embraces the Muslim Brotherhood, then it will be extremely unlikely that it will temper its confrontational political program in the future and become a more moderate movement as many in the West presently hope.

(Dore Gold, a former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations,
is President of the
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.)

Bret Stephens

Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2012

Egypt is lost.

Don’t console yourself with the belief that the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in the country’s first free presidential election is merely symbolic, since the army still has the guns: The examples of revolutionary Iran and present-day Turkey show how easily the conscripts can be bought, the noncoms wooed and the officers purged.

Don’t console yourself with the idea that now the Islamists will have to prove themselves capable of governing the country. The Brotherhood is the most successful social organization in the Arab world. Its leaders are politically skillful, economically literate and strategically patient. Its beliefs resonate with poor, rich and middle class alike. And it can always use the army as a scapegoat should the economy fail to improve.

Don’t console yourself with the expectation that the Brotherhood will play by the democratic rules that brought it to power. “Democracy is like a streetcar,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s Islamist prime minister, observed long ago. “When you come to your stop you get off.” Any party that rules street and square makes its own “democratic” rules.

Don’t console yourself, finally, with hope that Egypt will remain a responsible, status quo player on the international scene. By degrees, Egypt under the Brotherhood will seek to arm Hamas and remilitarize the Sinai. By degrees, it will seek to extract concessions from the U.S. as the price of its good behavior. By degrees, it will make radical alliances in the Middle East and beyond.

Who lost Egypt?The Egyptians, obviously. This was their moment, opportunity, choice. They chose…a party that offers Islamic stultification as the solution to every political and personal problem. By the time they come to regret their choice, they won’t be in a position to change it.

But there are other players in this debacle, too.

First, the Obama administration. “Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable,” said Hillary Clinton as protesters began descending on Tahrir Square in January 2011. President Obama didn’t help matters by calling instantly for Mr. Mubarak’s removal—thereby demonstrating how foolish it can be to be an ally of the U.S.—after doing nothing in the previous two years to pressure Mr. Mubarak to relinquish power while he still had a chance. As a result, the U.S. has no credibility with Egyptians, secular or religious, and just 19% of Egyptians approve of Mr. Obama’s leadership, according to Gallup. So much for the Cairo Speech.

Next, the Bush administration. “Naturally, here in Egypt as in the U.S., there is freedom of speech, so it is possible for anyone to complain about any personal or social problem.…” This bit of sycophancy was uttered in March 2006 by Frank Ricciardone, then U.S. ambassador in Cairo, just as the Mubarak government had imprisoned Ayman Nour, its only challenger in the 2005 election.… What did it suggest to Egyptians about the sincerity of Mr. Bush’s freedom agenda? The question [is] self-answering.

Third, the liberal abdicators. That’s a catch-all term for anyone who believes the result of any free election is ipso facto legitimate and that the world’s responsibility toward Egyptians’ democracy is to preserve a studied neutrality about their political choices. But a democratic election that yields a totalitarian result isn’t “legitimate,” except in the most cramped sense of the word. In reality, it’s a double-barreled catastrophe: a stain on democracy’s good name and a recipe for turbocharged political extremism.

Yet the deeper liberal abdication is the abdication of the idea that freedom is more than simply an end in itself. If you believe that any use of freedom is a legitimate use of freedom—that Larry Flynt inhabits the same moral plane as, say, Vaclav Havel—then what you have mainly succeeded in doing is destroying the attractiveness of freedom to a large segment of the world.…

What is to be done?

In 1979, the U.S. lost Iran as an ally but formalized an alliance with Egypt. Perhaps we might get lucky should the Assad regime fall to Syrians better disposed to the U.S., not that we’re giving the Syrian people much cause to like us.…

We could also spell out to the new Egyptian government our terms for maintaining financial support and diplomatic favor. The Egyptian economy is in enough distress that the new government could be pliant. But that window won’t be open for very long.…

So prepare for an Egypt that likes us about as much as Nasser’s did and behaves accordingly. It’s going to be a long and ugly haul. And it’s just beginning.

Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, June 21, 2012

You have to hand it to the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. They know how to play power politics. They know how to acquire power. And they know how to use power.

[Two Friday’s ago], the day before voters…elected the Brotherhood’s candidate Mohamed Morsi to serve as Egypt’s next president, The Wall Street Journal published a riveting account by Charles Levinson and Matt Bradley of how the Brotherhood outmaneuvered the secular revolutionaries to take control of the country’s political space.

The Brotherhood kept a very low profile in the mass demonstrations in Tahrir Square in January and February 2011 that led to the overthrow of then-president Hosni Mubarak. The Brotherhood’s absence from Tahrir Square at that time is what enabled Westerners to fall in love with the Egyptian revolution. Those demonstrations led to the impression, widespread in the US, that Mubarak’s successors would be secular Facebook democrats.…

In their report, Levinson and Bradley showed how the Brotherhood used the secularists to overthrow the regime, and to provide them with a fig leaf of moderation through March 2011, when the public voted on the sequencing of Egypt’s post-Mubarak transformation from a military dictatorship into a populist regime. The overwhelming majority of the public voted to first hold parliamentary elections and to empower the newly elected parliament to select members of the constitutional assembly that would write Egypt’s new constitution. As Egypt’s largest social force, the Brotherhood knew it would win the majority of the seats in the new parliament. The March 2011 vote ensured its control over writing the new Egyptian constitution.

In July 2011, the Brotherhood decided to celebrate its domination of the new Egypt with a mass rally at Tahrir Square. Levinson and Bradley explained how in the lead-up to that event Egypt’s secular revolutionaries were completely outmaneuvered. According to their account, the Brotherhood decided to call the demonstration “Shari’a Friday.” Failing to understand that the game was over, the secularists tried to regain what they thought was the unity of the anti-regime ranks from earlier in the year.

“Islamists and revolutionary leaders spent three days negotiating principles they could all support at the coming Friday demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. They reached an agreement and the revolution seemed back on track.” One secularist leader, Rabab el-Mahdi, referred to the agreement as “The perfect moment. A huge achievement.” But then came the double cross. “Hours before the demonstration, hard-line Salafi Islamists began adorning the square with black-and-white flags of jihad and banners calling for the implementation of Islamic law. Ms. Mahdi made frantic calls to Brotherhood leaders, who told her there was little they could do.” Checkmate.

The difference between the Brotherhood and the secularists is a fundamental one. The Brotherhood has always had a vision of the Egypt it wants to create. It has always used all the tools at its disposal to advance the goal of creating an Islamic state in Egypt. For their part, the secularists have no ideological unity and so share no common vision of a future Egypt. They just oppose the repression of the military. Opposing repression is not a political program. It is a political act. It can destroy. It cannot rule.…

While instructive, the Journal’s article fell short because the reporters failed to recognize that the Brotherhood outmaneuvered the military junta in the same way that it outmaneuvered the secularists. The article starts with the premise that the military’s decision to stage an effective coup d’etat last week spelled an end to the Egyptian revolution and the country’s reversion to the military dictatorship that has ruled the state since the 1950s.

Levinson and Bradley claim, “Following the rulings by the high court [which canceled the results of the parliamentary elections and ensured continued military control over the country], the Brotherhood’s strategy of cooperation with the military seems failed.” But actually, that is not the case. By permitting the Brotherhood to participate in the elections for parliament and the presidency, the military signed the death warrant of its regime. The Brotherhood will rule Egypt. The only thing left to be determined is whether its takeover will happen quickly or slowly.

To understand why this is the case, it is important to notice what happened in Turkey. When the Islamist AKP party won the 2002 elections, the Turkish military was constitutionally authorized to control the country. As the guardians of Turkey’s secular state, Turkey’s military was constitutionally empowered to overthrow democratically elected governments.

Ten years later, Turkey is a populist, authoritarian, Islamic state. Half the general officer corps is in prison, held without charge or on trumped up charges. Turkey’s judiciary and civil service are controlled by Islamists. The AKP is filling the military’s officer corps with its loyalists.…

The Egyptian military today is far weaker than the Turkish military was in 2002.… The only way for it to secure its hold on power is through brute force. And the generals have already shown they are unwilling to use sufficient force to repress the Brotherhood.… The regime’s decision to outlaw the parliament and decree the military above the president was not a show of strength. It was a panicked act of desperation by a regime that knows its days are numbered.…

The inevitability of the Islamic takeover of Egypt means that the peace between Israel and Egypt is meaningless. Confrontation is coming. The only questions that remain are how long it will take and what form it will come in. If it happens slowly, it will be characterized by a gradual escalation of cross-border attacks from Sinai by Hamas and other jihadist groups. Hamas’s sudden eagerness to take responsibility for the [recent] mortar attacks against southern Israel as well as [last week’s] murderous cross-border attack are signs of things to come.

With the Brotherhood ascending to power, the security cooperation Israel has received from the Egyptian security forces in Sinai is over. And the regime won’t suffice with doing nothing to stop terror. It will encourage it. Just as the Egyptian military sponsored and organized the fedayeen raids from Gaza in the 1950s, so today the regime will sponsor and eventually organize irregular attacks from Sinai and Gaza.

In the rapid-path-to-confrontation scenario, the Egyptian military itself will participate in attacks against Israel. Egyptian troops may take potshots at Israelis from across the border. They may remilitarize Sinai. They may escalate attacks against the US-commanded MFO forces in Sinai that are supposed to keep the peace with the goal of convincing them to withdraw.

Whether the confrontation happens tomorrow or in a year or two, the question of whether the military remains the titular ruler of Egypt or not is irrelevant to Israel. In their attempt to maintain their power and privilege, the first bargaining chip the generals will sacrifice is their support for the peace with Israel. With the US siding with the Brotherhood against the military, maintaining the peace treaty has ceased to be important for the generals.

This dismal situation requires Israel’s leaders to take several steps immediately. First, our leaders must abandon their diplomatic language regarding Egypt. No point is served by not acknowledging that the southern front—dormant since 1981—has reawakened and that Israel’s peace with Egypt is now meaningless.…

At a minimum, frank talk will ensure that the steps we take on the ground to meet the challenge of Egypt will be based on reality and not on an attempt to ignore reality. Straight talk is also important in the international arena. For the past 30 years, in the interest of protecting the peace treaty, Israel never defended itself against Egypt’s diplomatic assaults on its very right to exist. Now it can and must fight back with full force. This will enable Israel to wage a coherent diplomatic defense of whatever military action it will eventually need to take to defend itself against Egyptian aggression.

As to that aggression, we don’t have any good options on the ground. We cannot operate openly in Sinai. If we retaliate against missile attacks with air strikes, the Brotherhood-led Egyptian government will use our defensive action to justify war. So we need to massively expand our ability to operate covertly. Aside from that, we must equip and train our military to win a war against the US-trained and-armed Egyptian military.… The die has been cast. We must prepare for what is coming.


Linda Zlatkin

Jewish Tribune, June 19, 2012

Supporters renewed their commitment to Israel and the Jewish community recently at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research’s (CIJR’s) 24th anniversary gala. The 200 people who gathered at the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue in Westmount celebrated the great work CIJR does to strengthen public understanding of Israel as a progressive, democratic society in its difficult Middle Eastern context.

“I am proud to say that we have expanded into Toronto this year and that we’ve gotten certification like ours in the US too (American Institute for Jewish Research),” said Professor Frederick Krantz, the founder and director of Montreal-based CIJR. “We’re also connected to the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs and hope to celebrate our 25th anniversary with a major gala in Jerusalem next year.”

This is an amazing accomplishment given the fact that this unique, independent, non-profit, internationally-respected think tank has to raise all its own funds to survive.

“Our major goal is to bring to light to the public, the media, students on campuses and Jews and non-Jews alike unbiased up-to-date information on Israel,” said Krantz. “We have many publications including Dateline: Middle East (which guests got a copy of at the gala). There is also an important Student Israel-Advocacy Program, which comes to the rescue of students on university campuses exposed to anti-Israel agitation and propaganda.”

Guests were welcomed with cocktails, an introduction by Prof. Krantz and a message from incoming National Chairman Jack Kincler. Greetings from the state of Israel were conveyed by Joel Lion, consul general of Israel to Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. Ambassador Ron Prosor, Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations and a recently elected vice-president [of September’s General Assembly], gave a keynote address during the dinner.

“We need to stand up for the values we cherish and be proud of who we are and what we are,” said Prosor. “Respect is there, we simply have to keep pushing for it as much as we can. When I walk through the corridors of the United Nations, I walk through them tall and proud.

“When Israel initiated a resolution on agricultural technology, more than100 countries co-sponsored it. What’s more, Canada is on the front line defending the state of Israel. You can all be proud to be Canadians.”

There was a special address by award-winning British journalist and author Melanie Phillips whose latest book, The World Turned Upside Down, was available at the event.

“Truth and justice are at the very core of Jewish existence,” said Phillips. “Many British people think Israel stands for injustice, untruth and illegality. We have to show them the opposite is true in a more aggressive way. If we do so, we could change the nature of the hostility towards Israel. Our duty is to remain true to our tradition, no matter what the cost.”

Lilach and Smadar Brandes provided the guests with a musical performance throughout the evening. A dedication was given to Rabbi Ronnie Cahana of the Beth-El Synagogue who suffered a brain stem stroke. Romanian Holocaust Survivor, Baruch Cohen, 92, a courageous advocate of Israel and a critic of anti-semitism received the Lion of Judah Award (the symbol of the Israelite tribe of Judah in the book of Genesis).

Janice Arnold

Canadian Jewish News, June 20, 2012

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations deplored the continued abstention by Germany, the United Kingdom, France and other western countries from voting on anti-Israel resolutions that frequently come before the General Assembly. Only Israel, the United States, Canada and the Pacific island country of Palau have of late been voting against the condemnations of the Jewish state, Ron Prosor said June 12 at a Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR) benefit dinner at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim.

“The demonization and delegitimization of Israel is off the charts…repeated day in and day out,” said Prosor, who assumed the post last June after serving as ambassador to the United Kingdom and, before that, director-general of the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Of the 193 UN member states, only 88 are democracies. Meanwhile, 56 are part of a coalition of Arab and Islamic countries that routinely bring forward these resolutions, he said, and they can get a majority easily with support from other non-democratic nations.

But what most worries Prosor is the insidious indifference to and even acceptance of anti-Israel “lies and half-lies” among democracies, including Britain, “once the cradle of western civilization.”

“In the past our enemies tried to defeat us on the battlefield, and this failed, then they tried economically, and this also did not work out,” he said. “Today, they are going for our soft underbelly, trying to take us away from the family of nations, turning Israel into a pariah state. They are trying to divide Israel from within and from the Jewish communities abroad.”

These falsehoods include that the idea that ending the Arab-Israeli conflict will solve all the problems in the Middle East, and that the Jewish settlements in the West Bank are a major obstacle to peace.

According to Prosor, the biggest hurdle is the Palestinians’ claim of the right of return to Israel proper. This is a concession no one in Israel will ever accept, he said, even those on the political left. “It would mean the destruction of the State of Israel,” he stated.… “The Palestinian leadership never speaks of two states for two peoples, just two states. Why? Because they do not acknowledge the nation state of the Jewish people.”

Proser described Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ address to the UN last September as “antisemitic and racist to the core. He spoke of the children of Muhammad and the children of Christ, but about the children of Abraham, not one word.”

The tactic of repetition has also worked for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Prosor continued. When Ahmadinejad vowed to eradicate Israel a couple of years ago, “the international community was shocked. Today, through repetition, he has made it seem inevitable…or, at least, debatable.”

Prosor is worried that the western world has been lulled into complacency about Iran’s nuclear intentions. But some of Iran’s Arab neighbours are afraid, notably Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, he said. Unofficially, Israel is making contact with these states to discuss their mutual concern over the Iranian threat, he said.

Prosor praised the steadfast support of the Canadian government for Israel. “Under [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper, Canada is on the frontline of defending the State of Israel, with dignity and holding to principles, and there is huge respect for that.…”

Barbara Kay

National Post, June 22, 2012

Alice Walker, best known as the author of the novel The Color Purple, is a long-time political activist, with a special—one might even say obsessional—fixation on Israel as the avatar of political evil.

Last year, Walker was a highly publicized presence in the failed flotilla expedition to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. Undeterred by that flop, this year her strategy has taken a more artsy turn. She has announced that until Israel repents of its policy of “apartheid” treatment of the Palestinian people, she will not allow Yediot, an Israeli publisher, to translate her famous novel into Hebrew.

The world is full of celebrities who, having been rewarded for their talent in their chosen cultural or artistic milieu, presume they must be highly competent and credible in domains they are totally clueless about. Jane Fonda, who disgraced herself in Vietnam, and Shirley Maclaine, who waxed rhapsodic about life in Communist China, spring to mind.

But Alice Walker’s relentless self-promotion in the service of anti-Zionism is particularly irksome. She never stops looking for the hook that will bring the paparazzi running. And her attention-getting stunts always manage to garner the maximum of attention without her actually having to suffer for her cause. I mean, seriously, folks, forbidding a Hebrew translation of her book? Her Hebrew-only adult reading market is tiny: They represent a nugatory loss in revenues.…

Walker’s passion for the underdog reminds me of Charles Dickens’ ineffable creation, Mrs. Jellyby, in his novel, Bleak House. Mrs. Jellyby’s sentimental thoughts are always half a world away with the poor children in Africa, while her own dirty, neglected children must shift for themselves in her chaotic household.

The comparison is particularly apt because Walker has herself boasted that her anti-Zionist motivation springs from anguish over the sufferings of poor Palestinian children. At the time of the flotilla fiasco, she told CNN that all she wanted was to see “justice and respect” for Palestinian children: “One child must never be set above another.” And so, having adduced her love of children as her motivation for her activism, Walker has, as the lawyers say, “opened the door” to evidence of her own mothering practices.

In the light of her treatment of her own daughter, Walker’s kitschy Jellybesque hand-wringing over Palestinian children plumbs new depths in the word “hypocrisy.” Walker’s daughter Rebecca is now 42 years old. She has a four-year old son, a blessing in her life that, by Rebecca’s account in a 2008 article, Alice had up to then never seen. According to Rebecca, Alice did not acknowledge her grandson’s birth or come to her daughter’s side to commiserate when the baby had to be rushed into intensive care with breathing problems.

This great champion of Palestinian children, it seems, had no great love for her own child. Rebecca writes: “I came very low down in her priorities—after work, political integrity, self-fulfillment, friendships, spiritual life, fame and travel.” In fact Alice saw very little of Rebecca, leaving her with relatives for months on end while she globe-trotted and hobnobbed with others in her self-righteous cohort.… When Rebecca was 16, she found a poem her mother had written, comparing Rebecca’s birth to “various calamities” like early death and mental illness.…

It’s worth repeating Alice Walker’s words: “One child must not be set before another.” She should have added, “when it serves my ego needs and political ends.…”

A word to Yediot Publishing in Israel: You may want to think about translating Rebecca Walker’s book, Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence, into Hebrew. I think it might be a bestseller, and would serve Alice Walker right if it were.

Manfred Gerstenfeld

Ynet News, May 28, 2012

A variety of major elements in today’s delegitimization of Israel by European agitators recall what Jews experienced in the late 1930s. To study this thoroughly would require a huge effort. Formulating a few key ideas about this, however, could easily come from reading a single book which covers that period.

One example is Duff Cooper’s autobiography, Old Men Forget. The author is a former British Conservative minister. He was First Lord of the Admiralty—a British title for the Minister of Marine—at the time of the Munich agreements. On 29 September 1938, England and France abandoned Czechoslovakia to Hitler by agreeing that it had to give up part of its territory to Germany. This Sudetenland was mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans and all the Czechoslovak fortifications were there. This led to the German occupation of the entire country six months later.

Shortly before Munich, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain spoke on the radio. Cooper writes that he had no words of sympathy for Czechoslovakia, which he was prepared to betray. “The only sympathy expressed was for Hitler, whose feelings about the Sudetens the PM said that he could well understand.”

Cooper often quoted from his diaries. On 22 May 1938, at the time of continuous vicious German verbal attacks on Czechoslovakia, he wrote about a cabinet meeting: “The general feeling seemed to be that great, brutal Czechoslovakia was bullying poor, peaceful little Germany.… It was decided to send off a telegram to tell the French to…urge the Czechs to make large concessions.”

In diluted form this resembles the European Union’s ongoing criticism of Israel and Europe’s tip-toeing around the “peaceful Arab world” where many thousands have been slaughtered by their own countrymen.

In September 1938, another cabinet member Viscount Hailsham, said to Cooper: “It all depends on whether we can trust Hitler.” Cooper asked, “Trust him for what? He has got everything he wants for the present and he has given no promises for the future.”

Can one trust Arab states or the Palestinians today? The great majority of Egyptians want to abolish the Camp David peace treaty in which their country got back Sinai without fighting. The Palestinian Authority glorifies murderers of Israeli civilians and names youth camps, streets and schools after them. Today we know that [the Oslo] agreement enabled the Palestinians to gradually mobilize large parts of the Muslim world against Israel.…

Since Oslo, we have had some Israeli governments emulate Chamberlain’s foolish position. They claimed that “if you do good, you do not need public diplomacy.” The current government does not adhere to that absurd maxim, but there is certainly vast room for improvement in the presentation of Israel’s case to the world.

(Manfred Gerstenfeld, Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is author of 20 books, several dealing with anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism.)

Bret Stephens

Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2012

Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. Everyone knows who said this, and everyone thinks it’s true. But is it, really?

After last weekend I’ve begun to have my doubts. In Egypt, the ruling military junta reacted to the apparent victory of Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Mohammed Morsi by stripping the presidential office of its powers. That came just days after Egypt’s top court dissolved the Islamist-dominated parliament, which had been freely elected only a few months ago.

How arbitrary. What an affront to the Egyptian people. Now let’s hope it works.

Then there’s Greece, which also had an election over the weekend. The Greeks are supposed to have made the “responsible” choice in the person of Antonis Samaras, the Amherst- and Harvard-educated leader of the center-right New Democracy party. Responsible in this case means trying to stay in the euro zone by again renegotiating the terms of a bailout that Greeks cannot possibly repay and will not likely honor.

Yet the more depressing fact about the election is that Mr. Samaras didn’t even get 30% of the vote. The rest was divided among the radical-left Syriza (27%), the socialist Pasok (12.3%), the anti-German Independent Greeks (7.5%), the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn (7%), the center-left Democratic Left (6.2%) and, finally, the good old Communist Party (4.5%). In other words, the Greeks gave a solid 46% of their vote to parties that are evil, crazy or both, even while erring on the side of “sanity” with parties that are merely foolish and discredited.…

Should anyone be surprised that democracy is having such a hard time in the land of Pericles? Probably not—and not just because Greece is also the land of Alcibiades. Despite its storied past, modern Greek democracy, like much of modern European democracy, is of a post-liberal variety. Post-liberalism seeks to replace the classical liberalism of individual liberty, limited government, property rights and democratic sovereignty with a new liberalism that favors social rights, social goods, intrusive government and transnational law.

In practice, post-liberalism is a giant wealth redistribution scheme. It bankrupted Greece and will soon bankrupt the rest of Europe. What happens to bankrupt democracies? Think Weimar Germany, Perón’s Argentina, and, more recently, Yeltsin’s Russia.

Now take Egypt. There, instead of post-liberal democracy, you have the energetic stirrings of pre-liberal democracy.

What is pre-liberal democracy? It is democracy shorn of the values Westerners typically associate it with: free speech, religious liberty, social tolerance, equality between the sexes and so on. Not only in Egypt, but in Tunisia, Turkey and Gaza, popular majorities have made a democratic choice for parties that put faith before freedom and substituted the word of God for the rule of law.

Apologists for this sort of democracy argue that it still beats the alternatives, not just the coarse authoritarianism typified by Hosni Mubarak but also the progressive-autocratic model that used to prevail in Turkey. They also argue that democracy has a way of taming ideologically extreme political leaders by tethering them to the needs and wishes of the people, just as a talented cowboy will rope and halter an unruly horse.

But there’s a problem with this analogy: In pre-liberal societies, it is the people who are the horse and the leaders who do the roping, not the other way around. An Egypt ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood will respect democratic procedure only to the extent that it does not infringe on the Brotherhood’s overarching goals: “Restoring Islam in its all-encompassing conception; subjugating people to God; instituting the religion of God; the Islamization of life,” according to Khairat Al Shater, the Brotherhood’s de facto leader.

That’s the kind of democracy we can soon expect from Egypt unless the military somehow gets the upper hand politically. Don’t bet on it. If post-liberal democracy is unsustainable (“They always run out of other people’s money,” as Margaret Thatcher quipped), pre-liberal democracy is irresistible. The objections of an aged and ambivalent junta will not long stand in the way of millions of Egyptians demanding their right to choose unfreedom freely.

The good news is that Egyptians may have a wider conception of freedom in 30 years or so, about the same amount of time it took Khomeinism to lose the masses in Iran. In 30 years, too, the Greeks may have a better appreciation of the notion of responsibility, both personal and political. As for what remains of the liberal democratic world…[consider] another famous political maxim: “A republic—if you can keep it.”

Please note that CIJR will be closed Monday, June 25.
Isranet Briefing will resume Tuesday, June 26.




Guy Millière, 19 juin 2012

Voici quelque temps, le gouvernement israélien a décidé de restituer les corps d’assassins à l’Autorité Palestinienne et au Hamas. Comme on pouvait s’y attendre, cette restitution a été prise comme un signe de victoire par les populations arabes sous le contrôle de l’Autorité Palestinienne comme par les populations arabes sous le contrôle du Hamas.

Le contraire eut été très étonnant. A chaque fois que des Israéliens sont assassinés, ces gens font la fête par milliers. Les rues de Ramallah et de Gaza City portent des noms d’assassins, qui sont considérés comme des héros ou, plus précisément, des « martyrs ». Les télévisions « palestiniennes » financées avec l’argent occidental sont des organes d’incitation à la haine antisémite et au meurtre. Les manuels scolaires « palestiniens » sont des instruments servant aux mêmes fins.

S’il fallait une preuve supplémentaire qu’aucune paix n’est possible avec le Hamas, bien sûr, mais aussi avec l’Autorité Palestinienne, on en disposerait ainsi. Mais faut-il une preuve supplémentaire ? Les preuves sont abondantes, et absolument accablantes, depuis longtemps. Ceux qui ne veulent pas voir sont des aveugles volontaires dont je ne peux m’empêcher de penser qu’ils sont imprégnés d’intentions aussi vomitives qu’inavouables.

Les gens qu’on nomme « Palestiniens » ne pourraient vivre en paix avec leurs voisins qu’après de nombreuses années passées en désintoxication, et ces années passées en désintoxication devraient être un préalable à toute forme de geste ou de déclaration. La désintoxication ne pourrait venir, bien sûr, qu’après un changement de régime à Gaza et dans l’Autorité Palestinienne.

Ce changement de régime devrait commencer par l’abolition du Hamastan de Gaza et par l’abolition de l’Autorité Palestinienne. Ces abolitions devront venir. Elles viendront tôt ou tard. Ceux qui pensent que des accords sont possibles avec le Hamas ou avec l’Autorité Palestinienne me font penser à ceux qui pensaient en 1938 qu’on pouvait s’entendre en Europe avec Adolf Hitler. Et ce n’est sans doute pas un hasard si Mein Kampf est un best seller dans une bonne part du monde arabe. Fort heureusement, le Hamas et l’Autorité palestinienne ont des moyens très réduits par rapport à ceux dont disposait Hitler.

Un changement de régime à Gaza et dans les territoires de Judée-Samarie occupés par l’Autorité Palestinienne serait un commencement en direction du règlement de la guerre musulmane contre Israël. Mais le règlement ne pourra venir tant qu’existera encore le mal, plus vaste, qui touche toutes les terres d’islam et une large part de la « communauté des croyants ». Et ce mal doit être regardé en face. Il existe une barbarie islamique qui touche depuis des années l’ensemble du monde musulman, et la barbarie « palestinienne » fait partie intégrante de la barbarie islamique. Les exemples de barbarie islamique sont trop nombreux pour qu’on les énumère. Il y faudrait des pages et des pages.

Faut-il rappeler les crimes innommables commis pendant des années par le GIA et le FIS en Algérie ? Faut-il évoquer les innombrables attentats commis par Al Qaida, qui ne se limitent pas aux attaques du 11 septembre 2001 ? Faut-il rappeler les actes abjects commis en Irak sous la dictature de Saddam Hussein et après la chute de celui-ci ? Faut-il dire, n’en déplaise à Bernard Henri Levy, que la Libye est passée des mains d’un dictateur brutal aux mains de hordes et de milices qui ont assassiné par centaines des noirs africains et mis en circulation des armes qui se retrouvent dans le Sinaï ? Faut-il décrire les meurtres commis par les talibans en Afghanistan, par des islamistes pakistanais en Inde ? Faut-il parler des scènes d’égorgements filmés en vidéo qui ont jalonnée la dernière décennie ? Faut-il parler des attentats multiples déjoués par les services de sécurité du monde entier ? Les attentats non islamiques sont des exceptions qui confirment la règle.

Je persiste à dire que tous les musulmans ne sont pas coupables, mais je dois rappeler que les coupables de la barbarie islamique sont musulmans. Et je dois dire que la barbarie islamique est le danger principal aujourd’hui sur la terre. La barbarie islamique passera et s’éteindra. Elle est stérile et destructrice, et ne peut donc que passer et s’éteindre. Ce qui importe est de veiller à ce qu’elle fasse le moins de dégâts possible avant qu’elle passe et s’éteigne. Ce qui importe est de ne se faire aucune illusion à son égard. Strictement aucune illusion. Ce qui importe est de l’appeler par son nom et de ne pas avoir à son égard des attitudes à géométrie variable, en considérant, par exemple, que la barbarie « palestinienne » peut être dissociée du reste de la barbarie islamique.

Nous sommes dans une guerre planétaire et multiforme. Nous devons la voir comme telle. Et, puisque c’est à l’ordre du jour, nous devons voir que ce qui se passe présentement en Syrie relève aussi de la barbarie islamique. J’avais écrit au début de l’intervention contre le régime Kadhafi en Libye que le choix serait entre la peste et le choléra. Le choléra Kadhafi a perdu, la peste a gagné.

Je dis qu’en Syrie, le choix est à nouveau entre la peste et le choléra. Le moment où des modérés auraient pu émerger est passé. Le choix est désormais entre le régime Assad et ses meurtres de masse, et un pouvoir passant aux mains des Frères musulmans, et des meurtres de masse. C’est abominable.

C’est la barbarie islamique qui est abominable. 



Dore Gold

Le Cape de Jérusalem, 19 juin 2012

La crise syrienne est la troisième preuve d’une série d’échecs de l’ONU. Durant ces deux dernières décennies, l’Organisation des Nations-Unies a  échoué dans ses tentatives  d’empêcher des massacres. Son incapacité flagrante d’intervenir au moment voulu dans les crises au Rwanda et en Bosnie. De nombreux éditorialistes évoquent même la faillite de l’organisation en raison de son cuisant échec d’accomplir l’un de ces principaux objectifs pour lesquels elle a été créée.

En 1994, le commandant des forces onusiennes au Rwanda, le général Romeo Delair, a expédié un message urgent au siège de l’ONU à New York. S’appuyant sur des informations crédibles, il alarmait que les dirigeants du pays, originaires de la tribu Hutu, avaient l’intention de commettre des massacres contre les Tutsis. Kofi Annan, alors chargé des Forces de la paix au sein de l’ONU, avait répondu en priant le commandant Delair de s’abstenir de toute ingérence. .. Et quelques mois plus tard…plus de 800 mille Rwandais sont massacrés!

L’échec de l’ONU se poursuivra  avec le déclenchement de la guerre en Bosnie, le cœur de l’Europe. Le Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU avait créé « une zone de sécurité » située dans les environs de la ville Srebrenica afin de garantir la sécurité aux musulmans bosniaques. Le Commandant local des Forces de l’ONU a assuré sa protection en ces termes: « croyez-moi, je vous promets de ne plus jamais vous quitter ». .. Et quelques temps plus tard, en juillet 1995, l’armée serbe- bosniaque  attaque l’enclave de Srebrenica et massacre plus de 8000 musulmans!

 Ainsi, à chaque fois que l’ONU est mise à l’épreuve, à chaque fois que ses forces pour le maintien de la paix dans le monde souhaitent protéger des populations en détresse elles échouent dans leur mission. Aujourd’hui, l’ONU affronte une « nouvelle Srebrenica »… Depuis mars 2011, une guerre civile se déchaîne en Syrie, mais en raison du veto imposé par les Russes et par les Chinois ce n’est qu’en mai 2012, seulement après  le massacre d’une centaine de civils dont de nombreux enfants à Houla, que le Conseil de Sécurité  condamne le régime d’Assad sans toutefois prendre des mesures adéquates.

 En février 2012, une nouvelle initiative de l’ONU dirigée par l’ancien Secrétaire général Kofi Annan et mandatée par la Ligue arabe échoue également et embarrasse fortement l’Occident. Dans ce contexte, il est clair que la raison principale de tous ces échecs   découle des intérêts des pays membres de l’organisation. L’ONU refuse d’adopter la morale et de condamner vigoureusement les responsables des massacres ou prendre contre eux des mesures efficaces.

 Le 28 mai dernier, le Wall Street Journal a même qualifié l’ONU « de collaborateur » pour avoir permis le massacre de Houla, et celui de Srebrenica en 1995. C’est sans doute une sévère critique, mais elle est justifiée par un argument essentiel que nous ne pouvons ignorer : l’ONU est une organisation dont les attentes de protection au sein des populations en détresse et regardant la mort en face sont quasiment immenses. En réalité, la déception est si profonde que l’impuissance de l’organisation onusienne.

 Si l’ONU est incapable de prendre des décisions pour éviter des génocides, et ne distingue pas entre assassins et victimes, est-il juste et possible  de lui attribuer  sérieusement un poids moral quelconque à ces déclarations au sujet du conflit israélo-palestinien ? La crise syrienne n’est-elle pas éloquente? N’illustre-t-elle pas la perte d’autorité morale qu’avait jadis l’ONU? Israël doit réaliser la situation néfaste et répliquer dans ce sens à chaque fois qu’un fonctionnaire officiel de cette organisation ose nous condamner injustement. 


Shmuel Trigano, 17 juin 2012

L’antisémitisme ne se résume pas aux actes violents qui peuvent frapper les Juifs dans la rue mais il comprend aussi un climat général d’inimitié et d’exécration touchant plus que les Juifs et l’État d’Israël : le judaïsme et la culture juive, l’identité juive elle même. De l’inimitié, on est en règle générale au courant, sauf les inconscients qui sont nombreux, y compris parmi les Juifs qui se sentent par principe coupables ou ont un compte à régler avec leurs origines. La scène médiatique est la scène de cette inimitié. Elle se manifeste par une hostilité de principe à Israël ou à la communauté juive quand elle sort de son image de « victimes de la Shoah » (on aura remarqué qu’elle est ou bien « martyre » ou bien « agressive » : ce sont ses 2 images autorisées).

Le scénario d’interprétation des événements du Moyen Orient est prêt avant même que les événements n’arrivent. Ils sont alors construits pour répéter la même histoire et l’enraciner encore plus dans les consciences. Son trait principal repose sur la culpabilité essentielle d’Israël, son illégitimité et sa criminalité : à Djénine, à Gaza il y a eu un génocide et l’État d’Israël souffre d’un racisme institutionnel qui tient à l’essence même de son existence. Ce mythe est omniprésent et il est partagé autant par la classe politique que l’opinion publique. Les perpétrateurs d’actes antisémites y puisent implicitement la raison et la légitimité de leurs actes.

Par contre, de l’exécration, l’opinion juive commune est moins consciente car elle se développe dans la littérature, les essais, les magazines, l’université. Il faut aussi, dans ces milieux, avoir l’esprit aiguisé pour la percevoir car elle concerne le judaïsme comme religion, pensée, culture, société. Ce domaine met en jeu, pourrait-on dire, le prestige de l’identité juive, son honneur, sans compter la vérité historique et la compétence académique.

Or ce sont les lieux mêmes de la production culturelle qui sont touchés. Il faut savoir par exemple que, dans les universités, les Instituts d’études politiques, c’est un discours qui accrédite la version palestinienne des faits qui est la référence, sans aucune confrontation possible avec d’autres thèses, et cela remonte jusqu’au Collège de France. Des générations d’étudiants qui, plus tard, assumeront des responsabilités politiques, sont ainsi formées, nourries d’une version viciée de l’histoire.

Plus généralement, sur le plan du destin étudiant, choisir un sujet de doctorat en rapport avec les Juifs (en quelque matière que ce soit) équivaut aujourd’hui à un suicide professionnel car cela vous condamne à être exclu en premier des jurys de sélection pour les rares postes universitaires au concours, sous prétexte de particularisme, d’étroitesse d’esprit ou de choix « idéologique » (« religieux »). On n’étudie pas les choses juives comme on étudie l’Amérique latine, ou le monde… arabe.

Le discrédit s’exerce en premier, bien sûr, sur le judaïsme dont la destruction symbolique est joyeusement perpétrée dans livres, magazines, compte-rendus de presse, sauf rarissimes exceptions. Si vous examinez dans le détail la place qui est reconnue au judaïsme et la façon de le traiter (notamment dans toute cette presse sur les religions – en fait, au départ, presse catholique – produisant nombre de numéros spéciaux sur religions, spiritualités et civilisations), vous remarquerez le traitement défavorable dont il est l’objet (souvent mis en œuvre par des spécialistes juifs). Par contre, l’islam y occupe une place centrale et abusive.

On a l’impression que le refoulé du tabou sur l’islam, à base de menaces de terreur, se déverse sur le judaïsme, moins « dangereux » et au plus bas de son prestige. Toute une gamme d’intellectuels juifs et de chercheurs est objectivement bannie de cette presse. On n’y rend compte ni de leurs travaux, ni de leurs interventions. La chose est réitérée depuis maintenant 10 ans au point que l’on se dise qu’il doit y avoir une liste noire qui écarte les auteurs non complaisants avec le discours de rigueur, le scénario des médias en matière juive. La chose est statistiquement démontrable, tant pour l’écrit que l’audio-visuel (les radios et TV publiques sont au sommet). L’atmosphère d’inimitié n’est pas le résultat d’une série de hasards.

Mais il y a aussi l’édition généraliste. Certes, elle est en crise en générale et le lectorat juif exigeant est très limité, en dessous du seuil de rentabilité commerciale pour une grande maison d’édition, mais les possibilités de publication de livres à thèmes judaïques (exceptée la marée en rapport avec la Shoah) se restreint de plus en plus. Il faut comparer, là aussi, avec le déluge éditorial concernant l’islam qui est le critère d’évaluation.

Ceci dit, ces dernières années a fleuri une littérature d’un genre très spécial qui dépeint pseudo critiquement le judaïsme comme religion, sous des traits conjuguant cruauté, violence et tromperie, parfois paganisme. La religion de l’Israël antique serait la source de toutes les violences, du génocide, de la haine de l’autre, de la cruauté sacrée. La semaine dernière, Le Point a publié 3 pages de plaidoyer de Michel Onfray pour défendre le cinquième livre (Qui est Dieu ?) d’une série très violente sur le judaïsme de Jean Soler où notamment il statue sur son côté sanguinaire et haineux. Michel Onfray cite une phrase de ce livre : « le nazisme de Mein Kampf est le modèle hébraïque auquel ne manque même pas Dieu » qui nous renseigne sur sa teneur.

La façon dont il prévient la remarque qui s’impose devant un tel discours montre bien la pirouette rhétorique la plus répandue pour exclure le point de vue juif : « l’accusation d’antisémitisme est celle qui accueille le plus souvent ses recherches. Elle est l’insulte la plus efficace pour discréditer le travail d’une vie et l’être même d’un homme ». Ainsi la boucle est bouclée entre ce que pense Al Djazira et ce que pense une certaine France : le « génocide de Gaza » était inscrit dans le judaïsme et l’État d’Israël est nazi.

Tant que les Juifs ne défendront pas leur honneur, tant qu’ils ne seront pas jaloux de leur réputation, on ne voit pas comment ni pourquoi cesserait leur maltraitance, leur rudoiement symbolique. Cette maltraitance est le premier pas vers le coup qu’on leur portera.

On ne peut se contenter de tirer cette seule leçon générale de la réalité. C’est ici aussi l’occasion de constater le degré de démission du judaïsme français face aux défis qui se pressent à son horizon. Ces questions devraient en premier lieu concerner le rabbinat français. Mais où sont les rabbins ? Où est le Grand Rabbin ? Il n’est pas possible que s’institue le partage entre ceux iraient toujours au charbon et ne récolteraient que la réprobation et ceux qui pontifieraient sur la scène de « l’éthique » et du politiquement correct.

Article additionnel (veuillez cliquer sur le titre pour accéder au lien) :


Shmuel Trigano

À partir d’une chronique sur Radio J, 1er juin 2012





Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2012

Syria continues to sink deeper into a civil war that we were told would break out if the U.S. and its allies intervened to oust Bashar Assad. So the West has stayed out, but the killings have multiplied to include at least four massacres in [three] weeks.… Even “leading from behind” worked better than this.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continued her intervention of words [last week], disclosing that “We are concerned about the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria.” Russia’s foreign minister responded the next day by saying the U.S. arms other countries in the region—which doesn’t do much for Syria’s opposition, which is carrying a gun to a tank and artillery fight.

This is the same Russia that has protected Mr. Assad from even the mildest U.N. sanctions. Readers may also recall that Russia and Syria were Exhibits A and B of Mr. Obama’s policy of engaging with countries that supposedly only disagreed with America because Dick Cheney was Vice President. Four years later, Syria remains Iran’s best ally and is slaughtering its own people, while Russia of the famous “reset” in relations is resorting to its Cold War vetoes of collective Western action.

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has called on the U.N. Security Council to enforce U.N. envoy to Syria Kofi Annan’s cease-fire, by military force if necessary. That would be the same cease-fire that Mr. Assad agreed to honor in April but has since violated every day. The Russians and Chinese can veto any such U.N. move.…

The reality is that Mr. Assad and his protectors aren’t going to accept any cease-fire or peace plan until it is the peace of the grave for his opponents. This is an existential fight for survival by a hard regime backed by even harder regimes that don’t want to lose a client. Mr. Assad isn’t going to accept a “transition”—Mrs. Clinton’s policy word of choice for Syria—until he is dislodged by force.

Mr. Assad the ophthamologist can see even without eyeglasses that Mr. Obama has no desire to intervene militarily to stop the slaughter. That perception alone gives Damascus a freer hand to carry out the very massacres Mrs. Clinton and her colleagues condemn.…

The Administration’s stated case against military intervention is that it would make the humanitarian situation worse, though we doubt that is how they see it in the massacre towns of Houla and Qubeir. There’s also the fear that we don’t know enough about the Syrian opposition and what it might do if it came to power.… But it’s hard to imagine how Syria under new leadership could be worse for U.S. interests than the Assad clan.

If the realists are right that Iran is America’s greatest threat in the region, then ousting Iran’s best friend would be a strategic victory. On the other hand, if Mr. Assad murders enough people to survive, he will be even more beholden to Iran and Russia, and more inclined to make trouble for Lebanon, Turkey, Israel and the Gulf Arab states. If he prevails, the rest of the region—and the world—will also know that he did so despite insistent but irrelevant calls from the U.S. that he had to go. American credibility and influence will be weaker for it.

Intervening in Syria does not mean reprising the war in Iraq. A Bosnia-style air campaign targeting elite Syrian military units could prompt the general staff to reconsider its contempt for international opinion, and perhaps its allegiance to the Assad family. Short of that, carving out some kind of safe haven inside Syria would at least save lives.

The best argument against intervention at this point is Mr. Obama himself. Only a U.S. President can lead a coalition of the willing outside of the U.N…and Mr. Obama clearly doesn’t want to do it.… Mr. Obama wants his Syrian nightmare to go away before the election, and with Russian helicopters and Mr. Assad’s efficient butchery, it might.

Fouad Ajami

Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2012

The ordeal of Syria has been a rebuttal of what the diplomacy of Barack Obama once promised and stood for. It is largely forgotten now that Syria and Iran were the two regimes in the Greater Middle East that Mr. Obama had promised to “engage.”

Back when he was redeemer in chief, Mr. Obama had been certain that the regime in Damascus would yield to his powers of persuasion. He cut Damascus a wide swath, stepped aside when the Syrian regime all but laid to waste the gains of the 2005 Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, assassinating and terrorizing its way back into its smaller neighbor.

When the storm that broke upon the Arabs in early 2011 hit Syria, the flaws of the Obama approach were laid bare. It took five months of hesitation and wishful thinking before Mr. Obama called on the Syrian ruler to relinquish power. That call made, he had hoped that the storm would die down, that the world’s attention would drift from the sorrows of Syria.

But the intensifying barbarism of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the massacres and atrocities have given Mr. Obama nowhere to hide. A United Nations report recently determined that children as young as 9 have been subjected to “killing and maiming, arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and ill-treatment, including sexual violence, and use as human shields.”

For months the abdication over Syria sought cover behind the diplomacy of Kofi Annan, the designated envoy of the Arab League and the U.N. But Mr. Annan has conceded that his diplomacy has been helpless before the violence. A regime built for a crisis such as this, fine-tuned by a ruling family and a dominant sect over the last four decades, had nothing but contempt for U.N. diplomacy.…

Indeed, the U.N. monitors [in Syria] came under attack last week. En route to the besieged town of Haffa, their convoy was shot at and set upon by thugs throwing stones and wielding metal rods. U.N. chief peacekeeper Hervé Ladsous described the situation on the ground well when he said, “Keeping a peacekeeping force when there is definitely no peace to observers—that summarizes the situation.” Last Saturday’s official suspension of that peacekeeping effort is an acknowledgment of that glaring reality.

Those hamlets of grief that came to fame in recent days, Houla, Qubair, sites of cruel massacres, tell us that the Assad regime is convinced that no outside intervention is on the horizon. Syria is in the midst of the sectarian war Assad sought all along. He has trapped his own Alawite community, implicating it in his crimes. In the recent massacres, Sunni areas have been sacked by neighboring Alawi villages. The army did the shelling, then the Alawi neighbors closed in and did the killing—women and children shot at close range, corpses burnt, crops and livestock and homes destroyed.

This sectarian slaughter is what the Assad tyranny had wrought, and what the abdication of the democracies had fed in the cruel, long year behind us. In this ordeal, there was always another appeal to the Russians. We ascribed to them powers they did not have because their obstructionism was useful. The Assad regime, long a Russian asset in the region, is a variation on the Russian autocracy of plunder and terror. By all accounts, there is glee in Moscow that Washington and NATO pay tribute to Russia.

And why would Russian strongman Vladimir Putin do us any favors over Syria? Despite Mr. Obama’s inane announcement Monday at the Group of 20 summit that he and Mr. Putin “agreed that we need to see a cessation of the violence,” Russia has come to believe the Syrian regime is engaged in a war with Islamist radicals much like its own against the Chechens. Grant Mr. Putin his due; the way he brushed aside Mr. Obama’s pleas on Syria should lay to rest the fantasy of a Russian compromise.…

The Obama policy rests on a blissful belief that Syria will burn out without damage to American interests, and that the president himself can stay aloof from this crisis.… The wider forces at play in the Greater Middle East do not detain this president. His political advisers have not walked into the Oval Office reporting that he’ll win re-election if only he takes a more assertive stance toward the dictators in Damascus or Tehran. The world can wait—Syria has twisted for 15 months, and it is only five months until [November].…

(Fouad Ajami is the author most recently of “The Syrian Rebellion.”)

Dore Gold

Israel Hayom, June 15, 2012

The crisis over Syria is the third major case of mass murder in the last 20 years in which the U.N. has completely failed to halt the continuing bloodshed. The inability of the U.N. to intervene in the previous crises in Rwanda and Srebrenica (Bosnia) caused many commentators to charge that the U.N. was becoming a bankrupt organization, that was not fulfilling one of its main original purposes.

After all, the U.N. was established in 1945, when the horrors of the Holocaust were on the minds of its founders. One of its most critical early documents, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, spoke of the “barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.” It was clear that the U.N. was founded to prevent this sort of mass murder from ever recurring. In that spirit, the U.N. General Assembly also adopted the Genocide Convention at the same time.

However, in the 1990s, the U.N. proved to be completely ineffective in halting the very acts of genocide it was intended to prevent.

In 1994, the commander of the U.N. forces in Rwanda, Gen. Romeo Dallaire, sent a cable to U.N. headquarters in New York saying that he had information from an informer that the country’s Hutu leaders were planning to massacre Rwanda’s Tutsi population. Dallaire wrote that he planned to destroy the Hutu militias’ weapons depots. The head of U.N. peacekeeping, Kofi Annan, cabled back instructions to Dallaire to refrain from interfering. In the months that followed, some 800,000 Rwandans were butchered. The U.N. Security Council debated what action should be taken but ultimately did nothing; the Rwandan regime in fact sat on the council as a legitimate diplomatic partner.

The failure of the U.N. to stop mass murder continued. After the outbreak of the Bosnian War, the U.N. Security Council created a “safe area” for Bosnian Muslims in the area of the town of Srebrenica. The U.N. commander declared to the Muslim population that had fled to Srebrenica: “You are under the protection of the United Nations.” He added: “I will never abandon you.” Yet, in July 1995, the Bosnian Serb army assaulted the Srebenica enclave and began systematically killing 8,000 Muslims.…

When tested, the U.N. peacekeeping force did not protect the Muslims. Its Dutch battalion fled. The Dutch press reported that while the massacres were underway, the peacekeepers held a beer party in the Croatian capital of Zaghreb. The U.N. launched an internal investigation about Srebrenica. The report concluded by saying that “the tragedy of Srebenica will haunt our history forever.…”

Now the U.N. has [a] new Srebenica.… So far more than 14,000 people in Syria have been killed. Yet again, the U.N. is failing…to prevent the mass murder of innocent civilians.

The reason why the U.N. fails time and again to halt mass murder and even genocide is because of the interests of its member states. It refuses to take a firm moral position condemning those who perpetrate massacres and then it refrains from imposing effective measures against them. In the case of the Darfur rebellion, which began in 2003, while the U.S. called the actions of the Sudanese army “genocide,” the U.N. refused to adopt the same term and adopted ineffective actions for the following eight years, while thousands died.

There are two lessons for Israel from the international response to the Syrian crisis. First, the behavior of the U.N. proves yet again that Israel must never compromise its doctrine of self-reliance when its own security is at stake by relying on the protection of international forces. A second lesson is how Israel should relate to the constant criticism it receives from various U.N. bodies.…  If the U.N. is a paralyzed organization that cannot take decisions about cases of genocide…then why should Israel listen to its moral judgments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?…

Indeed, the Syrian crisis is just the latest example of how the U.N. has lost the moral authority it had when it was founded. Israel must internalize the change in the U.N.’s status the next time a U.N. official decides to issue another politicized “condemnation” about its actions.

(Dore Gold, a former Israeli Ambassador to the UN,
is President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Yaakov Katz

Jerusalem Post, June 14, 2012

It was July 2007 and in Aleppo, Syria, the muezzins were just starting to issue the early-morning call for prayers. It was a different Syria at the time—Bashar Assad’s rule appeared stable and was not threatened by rebels.…

But then the city was rocked by an explosion. Looking out their windows, residents could see smoke rising from a military base located on the outskirts of the ancient city. The damage was isolated to a single building, one that very few people—even those who served in the base—knew the purpose of.

Fifteen people were reported killed and several dozen more were rushed to the Aleppo University Hospital nearby with severe burns all over their bodies.… The Syrians immediately blocked off the base and prevented the media from reaching the scene. They also tried to destroy any evidence of the work that was taking place inside.… A few months would pass before the real nature of the explosion was to be revealed.

Apparently, the base everyone in Aleppo thought was an old arms dump was really one of the most secretive installations in Syria’s chemical weapons program. The nondescript building that was destroyed in the blast had been a sophisticated laboratory used to manufacture non-conventional warheads with VX, Sarin and mustard gas. The explosion took place as Syrian and Iranian engineers were reportedly trying to weaponize a Scud missile with a mustard gas warhead. The blast led to the dispersion of various chemical agents, causing the severe burns on people outside the facility who were not wearing the necessary protective gear.…

The Syrian-Iranian alliance was the result of a series of defense agreements the countries had signed since 2005 aimed at advancing military cooperation, including assistance each side would provide the other in the event of a military confrontation with Israel or the United States. The agreements also reportedly included a Syrian commitment to allow Iran to store weapons on Syrian soil.

Two years later, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, then-head of Military Intelligence, gave a little more insight into the way the relationship worked between the countries. Weapons were usually designed and developed in Iran, Yadlin said in 2009, while production took place in Syria. When it was time to test the weapons, special invitations would be sent to Hezbollah and Hamas headquarters as well as to North Korea, which often sent its own military representatives to the events.…

The threat that Israel faces from Syria’s chemical weapons…focuses on two stark possibilities. The first is that the weapons will fall into rogue hands—either al-Qaida or Hezbollah, which is believed to already be working to move some of the advanced military systems it has been storing in Syria to Lebanon out of fear that they will be captured by rebel forces. The recent takeover of an air defense base in Syria by rebels underscores that fear.

The second option…is that Assad will use the weapons against Israel if he starts to think that his end is near. This way, he will try to divert attention away from the massacres his military forces have been perpetrating throughout Syria and instead have his people rally behind him in a war against Israel.…

It is not known how many times the Syrians were close to using their chemical weapons against Israel. One case, though, was in September 2007, shortly after Israel bombed the Al Kibar nuclear reactor Assad was building covertly along the Euphrates River. According to a US diplomatic cable from 2008 published by Wikileaks, Assad had put his mobile missile forces on high alert after the strike but ultimately ordered them not to fire.… Then-prime minister Ehud Olmert told a delegation of US congressmen visiting Jerusalem: “That took discipline.”

In recent years, as the explosion in [Allepo in] 2007 demonstrated, Iran has played a key role in helping Syria upgrade its chemical weapons and missile capabilities.… Today, Syria is assessed to have one of the largest chemical weapons arsenals in the world with thousands of bombs that can be dropped from the air alongside dozens of warheads that can be installed on Scud missiles.… While Israel has developed the Arrow missile defense system to protect against Syrian Scuds, the major question is what it will do if intelligence one day shows the chemical weapons beginning to proliferate to rogue actors throughout the region.…

Israel’s options vary. One possibility could be to attack from the air convoys of chemical weapons or bases where the weapons are stored. While this would be seen as an act of aggression by Israel, if done in the twilight of Assad’s regime, the chances that it would spark an all-out war would be slim. On the other hand, an Israeli strike against a weapons convoy in Syria could provide Assad with the opportunity to use Israel as a scapegoat and divert attention away from his violent crackdown.…

None of the options are particularly appealing for Israel but with the situation in Syria escalating daily, a decision will need to be made. What Israel does could determine the future balance of power in this ever-changing Middle East.

Daniel Nisman

Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2012

This [month] has witnessed a remarkable shift in the Israeli government’s approach to the Syrian conflict. Politicians and defense officials alike have taken turns slamming Bashar al-Assad’s regime, bringing an end to Israel’s year-long policy of disciplined ambiguity on the Syrian unrest.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led the charge, adding his voice to the chorus of national leaders who condemned Mr. Assad for the latest massacre near Hama. Mr. Netanyahu told his cabinet that “the axis [of evil] is rearing its ugly head”—a reference to Iran and Hezbollah. Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, declared that “on behalf of the Israeli people and the Jewish people, I say directly to the Syrian people: we hear your cries. We are horrified by the crimes of the Assad regime. We extend our hand to you.” Kadima Party Chairman and Israeli Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz has now called for international intervention in Syria.…

Until very recently though, Israeli’s leaders had been hesitant to speak out against the atrocities, leading Western pundits to suggest that Israel actually preferred the rule of the House of Assad to the chaos that might engulf Syria in its stead. Mr. Assad is, after all, the devil Israelis know—a ruthless dictator and staunch enemy, who nonetheless kept the peace on the Golan Heights. In the Arab world, Israel is commonly portrayed as Mr. Assad’s partner in genocide. Cartoons depicting Israeli and Syrian tanks side-by-side, flattening Sunni Arabs, have become common in Arab media (conveniently ignoring the decades-long, bitter rivalry between the two nations).

The fact is that Israel, perhaps more than any other nation in the region, stands to benefit from Mr. Assad’s downfall. Despite the 40-year stability along their shared border, tension between the two states has long been boiling beneath the surface. The Syrian military is the focus of a high number of the Israeli Defense Forces’ large-scale training exercises.… Most importantly, Mr. Assad remains the key link to Iranian influence in the eastern Mediterranean.…

The silence from Jerusalem over the past 15 months of Syrian conflict was not due to Israeli fears over a destabilized Syria, nor of the rise of a more radical, Sunni-dominated regime. It was rather part of Israel’s closely adhered-to government policy aimed at preventing the Assad regime from delegitimizing its opponents by portraying their struggle as a foreign conspiracy. The decision to break that silence was also carefully strategized—both in timing and in nature.

In condemning Assad’s regime, the Israelis appealed directly to the hearts and minds of the Sunni-Arab world at a time when both find themselves pitted against a common enemy: Mr. Assad. Accusations of Iranian involvement in Syria are meant to remind Mr. Assad’s opponents in the Gulf that Israel stands on their side in the struggle against Shia regional domination.

The recent appointment of Syran-Kurdish activist Abdelbasset Sida to head the main opposition group in exile, the Syrian National Council, now presents Jerusalem with an opportunity to express tacit support for a possible successor to Mr. Assad. The Kurds have traditionally maintained positive views of Israel, a relationship that grew from their peaceful coexistence with Jews in northern Iraq prior to the Jewish expulsion after World War II.…

Ultimately, the Israelis are convinced that the hourglass of Mr. Assad’s tenure has been flipped on its head, and have begun making preparations for the day after his ousting.… While few in Jerusalem expect a peace agreement to follow Mr. Assad’s downfall, Israeli leaders have made their position clear to the region and world: When it comes to Syria, they’ll take anyone but Mr. Assad.


Media-ocrities of the Week


[The] Israeli and American spreading of poisoned terms continues, with its penetration through the media into broad spheres of world public opinion. Even more dangerous, however, is the penetration of these poisoned terms into Arab and Palestinian public opinion, which is drawn into the trap of using them, without careful examination.”—Excerpt of a new book, Terminology in Media, Culture and Politics, published by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Information, outlining the “proper” phrases to be used by Palestinians when discussing the conflict with Israel. According to the Ministry, “the Israeli terminology acts to distort the Palestinian national struggle, transforming the essence of Zionis[m] from a racist, colonialist endeavor into [one] of self-definition and independence for the Jewish people.” Therefore, for example, the book instructs Palestinians to replace the name “Israel” with the term “Israeli colonialism,” and the words “Palestinian terror” with “resistance.” (Palestinian Media Watch, June 19.) [To view the full PMW report see “On Topics” below—Ed.]


The Arab awakening—at its core—was a nonreligious event, led by young people frustrated that they lacked the space, job opportunities and educational tools to realize their full potential. That was the volcanic energy source that blew the lid off Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Yemen and Libya.”—Thomas Friedman, describing the “Arab Spring” as nonreligious, despite the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamic in movements in “Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Yemen and Libya.” Friedman, who initially hailed the upheavals in the Middle East as “a quest for personal empowerment, dignity and freedom,” now admits that “the Arab awakenings…will have no chance of really empowering the new generation without [a] revolution in education.” (NY Times, June 16, 2012 & February 15, 2011.)


Weekly Quotes


We are hopeful that…[European Union foreign policy chief Catherine] Ashton and I can reach a decision regarding the time and place for the next negotiations.”—Lead Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, calling for another round of diplomacy after this week’s two-day talks with world powers in Moscow—the third round of negotiations since April—again failed to resolve the dispute over Tehran’s illicit atomic program. Citing the “significant gaps” that remain between the two sides, Ashton agreed to a low-level, technical follow-up meeting in Istanbul on July 3. (Reuters & Wall Street Journal, June 19.)


Our enemies should know that arrogance and unsubstantiated demands from Iran will lead to nowhere.”—Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reiterating Iran’s refusal to compromise on its nuclear program. (Wall Street Journal, June 19.)


Eight years are enough. I will not found any political party or group.”—Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, claiming he will not run in Iran’s June 2013 presidential elections. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, June 17.)


If Iran and Egypt stand beside each other, there won’t be any more need for war to root out enemies and Zionists’ domination. The news of unity between Iran and Egypt will make timorous and coward Zionists prefer to escape rather than to stay in the region.”—Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, claiming Tehran’s ongoing rapprochement with Cairo will bring about the end to “Zionist hegemony” in the Middle East. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, June 16.)


What’s happening in Sinai [is that] terror bases are being established. We expect the Egyptians to exert their sovereignty there.”—IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, calling on Egypt’s government to immediately restore control over the Sinai, after terrorists launched a cross-border raid from the increasingly lawless territory which killed one Israeli. (Jerusalem Post, June 19.)


The situation is now even more serious and abominable. To prevent this civil war from getting worse, we need…a viable alternative.”—French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, announcing his country will introduce a resolution in the UN Security Council providing member states with a mandate to intervene in Syria, possibly as part of a military operation. (Wall Street Journal, June 13.)


Any data or information produced by this system will only be available to the alliance.…”—Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz, rejecting the possibility that Israel be given access to data from NATO’s X-band radar system, stationed in Kurecik, Turkey, designed to protect against ballistic missile threats from Iran. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, June 13.)


There will be no peace with secularism. The only peace is first with God, then with Jihad, then with resistance, then with the people and with martyrs.”—Fathi Hammad, Interior Minister in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, at a graduation ceremony for 184 Palestinian police officers. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, June 13.)


When I grow up I’ll join Islamic Jihad and the al-Quds Brigades. I’ll fight the Zionist enemy and fire missiles at it until I die as a shahid (martyr).… I want to blow myself up on Zionists and kill them on a bus in a suicide bombing.”—Hamza, at his kindergarten graduation ceremony in Gaza. During his commencement speech, the kindergarten’s director affirmed: “It is our obligation to educate the children to love the resistance, Palestine and Jerusalem, so they will recognize…who the enemy [Israel] is.” (Ynet News, June 12.)


We find it puzzling that President Obama would say that the Israeli government is of the extreme right. There is no factual or analytical basis for it. First, the Netanyahu government, from its inception in 2009, made it clear that it accepted in-principle the idea of a negotiated Palestinian state.… Second, the Netanyahu government…agreed to a 10-month freeze on all Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, a unilateral concession that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself described at the time, correctly, as ‘unprecedented.…’  Third, despite the failure of Mahmoud Abbas’ PA to negotiate virtually at all during the freeze and its failure to negotiate to date, Israel has made it clear that it is willing to negotiate with the PA immediately, without preconditions. Fourth, it is singularly strange that President Obama would say that the Israeli government is of the extreme right only days after Prime Minister Netanyahu formed a coalition with Shaul Mofaz’s leftwing opposition Kadima party.…”—Morton A. Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America, debunking US President Barack Obama’s recent claim to a delegation of rabbis from the Orthodox Union that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government is “extreme right-[wing].” (Independent Media Review and Analysis, June 14.)


If the UN were to form an anti-terrorism group dedicated to attacking the menace on a global scale, who do you think would be asked to lead it? A nation with a proven track record of anti-terror initiatives? A nation that esteems human rights and freedoms above all else? Unfortunately, in the case of the UN Centre for Counter Terrorism, the answer is emphatically neither.… In a move more befitting Alice in Wonderland than the United Nations, Saudi Arabia was named chair of the organization.…”—Brooke Goldstein and Zack Kousnetz, in “Saudi Arabia to Lead UN Counter Terrorism Initiative.” [For the complete article see ‘On Topics’ below—Ed.]


He has lost more than 100 pounds since his arrest. He suffers from severe degenerative arthritis and is no longer able to walk in his cell. He has other health problems that cause pain and require treatment.”—US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, “call[ing] on the government of Cuba to release [from prison] Jewish-American Alan Gross immediately.” Gross, 63, was arrested in Havana in December 2009 and sentenced to 15 years in prison for setting up Internet networks under a US program aimed at promoting political change. (Reuters, June 15.)


It has become increasingly clear that Hungarian authorities are encouraging the whitewashing of tragic and criminal episodes in Hungary’s past, namely the wartime Hungarian government’s involvement in the deportation and murder of hundreds of thousands of its Jewish citizens. I do not wish to be associated in any way with such activities.”—Elie Wiesel, in a letter to the speaker of the Hungarian Parliament, Laszlo Kover, renouncing Hungary’s highest honor, the Order of Merit, Grand Cross, awarded to him in 2004, after several Hungarian lawmakers participated in a memorial ceremony for Jozsef Nyiro, a WWII member of Hungary’s parliament who supported Hitler. (JTA, June 19.)


This summer’s Olympic Games in London will mark the 40th anniversary of the worst terrorist atrocity in the history of the Games—the 1972 hostage murder of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches in Munich. Civil society groups and political leaders around the world have been calling on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to hold a moment of silence at the opening ceremony of the London Games. I am delighted that the Canadian Parliament is the first to unanimously support this call. The adoption of this motion is part of our responsibility to remember the victims of this terrorist assault 40 years ago—le devoir de mémoir (the duty of memory).”—Canadian Member of Parliament Irwin Cotler, after the House of Commons unanimously passed his motion calling on the IOC to commemorate at the upcoming London Games the Israeli victims of the 1972 Munich massacre. (Office of Irwin Cotler, June 13.) [The following is a link to a petition urging the IOC to hold a moment of silence:]


Short Takes


DOZENS OF ROCKETS FIRED INTO ISRAEL; HAMAS RESPONSIBLE—(Jerusalem) Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip have fired approximately 100 rockets into Israeli territory since Monday, with Hamas claiming responsibility for many of the launches. The announcement by Hamas’s armed wing, the Izzaddin al-Kassam Brigades, marks a significant departure from the terrorist group’s position over the last few months; in recent rounds of violence Hamas has refrained from firing rockets and mortar shells itself, while encouraging other Palestinian terror groups to do so. [Hamas’ emboldened posture is at least in part a result of the strengthening in Egypt of the Muslim Brotherhood, the terror group’s progenitor—Ed.] (Jerusalem Post, June 20.)


U.N. SUSPENDS OBSERVER MISSION IN SYRIA—(Istanbul) The United Nations has suspended its observer mission in Syria, citing a surge in violence over the last two weeks that posed a significant risk to the monitors. Syrian President Bashar Assad blamed the collapse of the mission on opposition fighters, with state news agency SANA claiming that “international parties are still supplying terrorists with advanced weapons…to commit their crimes and defy the United Nations and its plan.” The UN effort was part of a six-point peace plan, brokered by UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria Kofi Annan, that failed to stem the Syrian regime’s nearly 16-month crackdown on protests. Annan, meanwhile, reportedly is now working to bring world powers together—including Syrian ally Iran—for a meeting aimed at breaking the diplomatic deadlock. (Wall Street Journal, June 17.)


MUBARAK “CLINICALLY DEAD”; BROTHERHOOD APPEARS VICTORIOUS—(Cairo) Egyptian state media has declared Hosni Mubarak “clinically dead” after suffering a stroke; however, several sources in the military and security services denied the report, alleging instead that the deposed Egyptian president is in on life support in a Cairo hospital. The deterioration in Mubarak’s health came as hundreds of thousands of Egyptians rallied across the country to denounce recent moves by the military to consolidate power, and to support Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Mohammed Morsi, whose campaign claimed victory following last weekend’s run off election against ex-army man Ahmed Shafiq. Preliminary results show Morsi winning 51.8 percent of the vote to Shafiq’s 48.2 percent with 98 percent of the more than 13,000 poll centers counted. Egypt’s Presidential Election Commission, headed by a judge appointed by Mubarak, announced Tuesday that it would delay the release of official results of the election, originally expected on Thursday, a move being construed as another possible power grab by the country’s ruling generals. (JTA, June 18 & Reuters, Wall Street Journal, June 20.)


ISRAELI KILLED FOLLOWING EGYPTIAN BORDER ATTACK—(Jerusalem) Said Phashpashe, an Arab-Israeli father of four, has been killed in a terrorist attack near Israel’s border with Egypt. Israeli workmen involved in constructing a security fence along the border were driving in a car when a road-side bomb went off, killing Phashpashe and seriously injuring another. An IDF unit immediately arrived at the scene and a gun fight ensued; two terrorists were killed and a third is believed to have escaped into the Sinai. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu denounced the cross-border attack and vowed to expedite the completion of the fence, which he described as “a supreme national interest.” A group tied to al Qaeda, the Mujahedeen Shura Council of Jerusalem, claimed responsibility, confirming Israeli assertions that the terror network is operating on its doorstep. (Jerusalem Post, June 18 & Associated Press, June 19.)


TURKEY INVESTIGATING IHH HEAD FOR FUNDING AL-QAIDA—(Jerusalem) Turkish legal authorities are investigating allegations that one of the key figures behind the May 2010 Gaza flotilla, Bülent Yildirim, has connections to al-Qaida. According to the Turkish daily Habertürk, special prosecutors in both Istranbul and Diyarbakir are conducting separate investigations into claims that Yildirim, president of the IHH, an organization that was one of the main planners of the Gaza flotilla and is considered a terrorist organization by Israel’s government, has been secretly “providing financial aid to al-Qaida via his foundation.” The Israeli NGO The Intelligence and Information Center claims the IHH also is affiliated with Hamas and the Union of the Good, an Islamic umbrella affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. (Jerusalem Post, June 15.)


UN DRAFT RESOLUTION REJECTS PALESTINIAN BID—(Geneva) A draft resolution rejecting a Palestinian bid to list the birthplace of Jesus as an endangered World Heritage site is being circulated in the UN, after a report by the International Council on Monuments and Sites—a Paris-based entity that advises the World Heritage Committee on which nominated properties to list—dismissed Palestinian claims that the Church of Nativity is under threat due to the “Israeli occupation”. The draft resolution will be considered by UNESCO’s 21-nation World Heritage Committee at a meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, later this month. The panel—which includes Algeria, Cambodia, Iraq, Malaysia, Mali, Qatar, Russia, Senegal, and the United Arab Emirates—has the power to overturn the expert-drafted text but insiders say that Arab states may not win the required two-thirds majority. “This is the first time in recent memory that a draft resolution circulated by the UN—let alone by UNESCO, which recently elected Assad’s Syria to its human rights committee—openly rejected a Palestinian claim or position,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. According to the UN watchdog, “The reason for the extraordinary occurrence is very simple: the Palestinians have just been admitted to UNESCO as a member state, and this is their first time taking advantage of the World Heritage procedure, which is governed in its initial stages by experts who are non-political—instead of by the very political 195 governments, most of whom join the automatic UN majority that rubber-stamps Arab resolutions.” (UN Watch, June 13.)


PARIS UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT APOLOGIZES FOR GAZA EXAM QUESTION—(New York) The president of a prestigious university in Paris has apologized for an exam question which asked whether a 2009 bombing by Israel in the Gaza Strip constituted a “crime of war; crime against humanity or genocide.” Vincent Berger, president of Paris Diderot University, expressed his “dismay” and “regret” at the inclusion of the question in an exam for medical students on June 12, conceding that the question did not fit the relevant pedagogic framework, being irrelevant to medicine. Paris Diderot was ranked as France’s 4th best university for 2011 in the Academic Ranking of World Universities. (JTA, June 14.)


PULITZER-WINNING AUTHOR WON’T LET ISRAELI PUBLISHING HOUSE PRINT BOOK—(Jerusalem) Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple, has refused to authorize an Israeli company to republish her book because of what she called Israel’s “persecution of the Palestinian people.” In a June 9 letter to Yediot Books, Walker denounced Israel as an “apartheid state” and expressed hope that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement “would have enough of an impact on Israeli civilian society to change the situation.” Walker, who participated in a flotilla to Gaza last year, recently has intensified her anti-Israel activities,. (JTA, June 19.)


JEWISH GROUPS DECRY NAZI SALUTES AT QUEBEC STUDENT PROTESTS—(Montreal) The Montreal Jewish community has strongly condemned the repeated usage of Nazi salutes by Quebec student protesters. The “Heil Hitler” salute has been employed in recent weeks to mock Montreal police at demonstrations in which chanting crowds have referred to local officers as the “SS” for their alleged brutality. According to B’nai Brith Canada CEO Frank Dimant, “th[e] inexcusable display of hate by Quebec student protesters…defile[s] the memory of the Holocaust and remind[s] us just how quickly anti-Semitism…can venture into our public discourse.” His comments came on what would have been the 83rd birthday of Holocaust victim and child author Anne Frank. (Gazette, June 12.)


WHITE HOUSE WON’T BUDGE ON POLLARD RELEASE—(Washington) The Obama administration reportedly has denied Israeli President Shimon Peres’ plea that former Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard be granted clemency. Peres, who last week received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Obama in Washington, said he would ask the US President in a private meeting before the ceremony to consider commuting Pollard’s sentence to time served. Pollard, who is in ill health, has served more than 26 years in a federal prison for passing classified information to an American ally—Israel—during peace time, an offense which historically has garnered an average term of 2-4 years. (JTA, June 13.)


GILAD SHALIT NAMED SPORTS COLUMNIST—(Jerusalem) Former captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has been named a sports columnist for the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot. Shalit, whose first column appeared in the newspaper last Friday, is reportedly in the US to cover the NBA finals. Shalit was released last October after more than five years of captivity in Hamas-ruled Gaza. (JTA, June 13.)