Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
L'institut Canadien de Recherches sur le Judaisme
Strength of Israel will not lie

Month: February 2013

ISRAEL POLITICS: AS MAR.16 DEADLINE NEARS, NETANYAHU JUGGLES CENTER-LEFT/RIGHT COALITIONS; HAREDIM : IN OR OUT?

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Contents:                          

 

(Please Note: articles may have been shortened in the interest of space. Please click link for the complete article – Ed.)

 

Coalition Talks Enter Overtime: Mati Tuchfeld, Gideon Allon & Yehuda Shlezinger, Israel Hayom, Feb. 28, 2013The deadline for forming a government expires this week, but Netanyahu may get an additional 22 days • Prime Minister's Office denies report of a planned two-phased government that would have the ultra-Orthodox join only after votes on military draft and state budget.

 

Israeli Politics: On the Edge of the Precipice: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Wed. Feb 27, 2013There is madness in the air. Israel faces extraordinary challenges whilst virtually all our leaders uninhibitedly continue their intrigues and machinations in pursuit of power. They regard their responsibility to the national interest as a distant mirage uttering occasional hypocritical rhetoric. 

 

Bennett-Lapid: Genius Tactic or Gross Irresponsibility?: Gil Ronen, Arutz 7, February 25, 2013The big story currently driving the political system in Israel to distraction is the completely unexpected and unprecedented post-election pact between Bayit Yehudi, under MK Naftali Bennett, and Yesh Atid, under MK Yair Lapid.

 

On Topic Links

 

Hagel Proves Politicians Have No Shame: Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, Feb. 26, 2013

Hagel’s $160 Billion 'West Bank' US Troops Deathtrap: Mark Langfan, Arutz Sheva, February 23, 2013

Sleepy Chuck Hagel Has Some Bigger Questions to Answer: Jeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg, Jan 31, 2013

Kerry, Hagel & ’Nam: The Dog That Didn’t Bark: Seth Lipsky, New York Post, Feb. 22, 2013

 

 

COALITION TALKS ENTER OVERTIME

Mati Tuchfeld, Gideon Allon & Yehuda Shlezinger

Israel Hayom, Feb. 28, 2013

 

After almost four weeks of official coalition talks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to arrive at President Shimon Peres' residence on Saturday to receive a 14-day extension to form a government. While the president has legal authority to issue a two-week extension, in practice, due to the Knesset's procedural rules, this would give Netanyahu an additional 22 days to present his coalition to the Knesset. If granted the extension, he would have to conclude talks by March 16 and then inform Acting Knesset Speaker MK Binyamin (Fouad) Ben-Eliezer that his government is ready to be sworn in. Ben-Eliezer would then set in motion a process that would culminate with the Knesset plenum convening several days later to vote on the new government.

 

Article 13b of the Basic Law: Government stipulates that this session must take place within seven days of the Knesset speaker being informed on the new government. Thus, Netanyahu would have until March 24. With Passover Eve falling on March 25, the Knesset may decide to postpone the vote by another week.

 

Meanwhile, talks between Likud-Yisrael Beytenu and the other parties have entered crunch time. The talks are primarily focused on whether Yesh Atid and the haredi parties can coexist in the coalition. Another lingering question is whether the alliance between Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi can withstand the various and intensive efforts to break it.

 

People in Netanyahu's inner circle say he is currently trying to forge a coalition that would include the haredim, Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi. Talks with Habayit Hayehudi have intensified over the past several days, with a special emphasis placed on a new national service mechanism and the state budget. The Likud-Beytenu and Habayit Hayehudi held two additional meetings on Wednesday.

 

Yesh Atid and Likud-Beytenu negotiators were expected to meet Thursday. Likud-Beytenu officials reported significant progress on Wednesday after holding talks with Habayit Hayehudi, saying the two sides had bridged some of the gaps on a military draft bill that would be acceptable to both Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi. Habayit Hayehudi and Yesh Atid have reportedly agreed on a joint stance on the matter.

 

Habayit Hayehudi officials say that the alliance with Yesh Atid will remain intact and that the former will enter the government only if the latter enters as well. However, they stressed that the alliance will expire once the parties join the government and that after the parties' ministers are sworn in, the factions would go their separate ways and neither would be bound by the other.

 

Likud-Beytenu officials say that it would not be possible to convince Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid to sit with the haredim as he would like to see them left out of the government for political reasons, even if there is agreement on the new military draft bill.

 

The ruling party has mulled the possibility of signing a coalition agreement with the haredim if no progress is made in the coming days. Officials in the party believe that if this happens, Habayit Hayehudi would pressure Yesh Atid to join the government. Alternatively, Habayit Hayehudi might become convinced it should discard the alliance with Lapid and enter the government without Yesh Atid.

 

On Wednesday [Feb. 27], Channel 2 reported that Netanyahu associates had informed haredi parties Shas and United Torah Judaism that they might have to stay out of the government until a new national service bill and the 2013 state budget is passed. Sources at the Prime Minister's Office and the Likud negotiating team denied the report. Haredi lawmakers rejected such a two-phased approach outright on Wednesday. One top Shas official said the party would "serve as a true opposition and would not enter the government in a future date or in any later phase."

 

"A haredi-free government would not survive and we would have no interest in entering such a government, we would simply wait for it to topple," he said. Some politicians believe, however, that the haredim may indeed be left out of the coalition for several months. They say that the haredim would be promised several portfolios which would remain vacant until they officially joined the coalition, after the budget was passed and the new draft mechanism was enacted.

 

Interior Minister Eli Yishai from Shas attacked Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi on Thursday [Feb. 28] and stressed that his party could serve Israel well from the opposition benches. "I don't know what the future has in store. The various reports suggest that Lapid and Bennett's efforts to have Shas out of the government are bearing fruit for now," he wrote on his Facebook page….

 

"Saying you are going to be part of the opposition, if that becomes necessary, should not be considered foul language. Those who have come to serve the public and consider it their over-arching concern should do so regardless of their location. It is unfortunate that some have been rallying against the world of the Torah and its representatives in politics. It is unfortunate that some politicians are not ripe and fail to realize that change must be effected with respect, understanding and handshaking, not through alienation, radicalization and the ruling out of others. It is unfortunate that they have failed to realize that their actions may transform a society that has divisions into a society that is divided."

 

Yishai further stressed that being in the opposition was as plausible as entering the government. "Shas will strive to be part of the next government, and to continue where it has left off when it comes to housing, internal affairs, the defense of the state's Jewish character, the return of the infiltrators back to their home countries and so forth," he said.

 

"But it will not engage in a sell-out of its values, its convictions and its principles for sake of sitting in the same government as those whose only common denominator is their shared desire to hurt the world of the Torah, which has protected us and served as our identity over the years. Shas may take part in the government, but it will not hesitate, if the need arises, to serve as a worthy and determined alternative, until the government serves out its term."

 

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ISRAELI POLITICS: ON THE EDGE OF THE PRECIPICE

Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, Wed. Feb 27, 2013

                                     

There is madness in the air. Israel faces extraordinary challenges whilst virtually all our leaders uninhibitedly continue their intrigues and machinations in pursuit of power. They regard their responsibility to the national interest as a distant mirage uttering occasional hypocritical rhetoric. Our friends and allies rub their eyes in disbelief and the barbarians at our gates rejoice as they observe such irresponsible posturing. Enough is enough. We must convey the message that if our politicians fail to behave responsibly and get their act together, we will send them home at the next elections.

 

I appeal to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Let the nation know that you are willing to accommodate and reach an agreement on the central issue which purportedly represents a barrier to the formation of a government. Make it clear that you accept, with possible minor modifications, the demand from Yesh Atid that gradually, over a five-year period, haredim will be obliged to serve in the IDF or a form of National Service; that reforms will be implemented to enable ultra-Orthodox Jews to earn a livelihood rather than rely on state welfare; that any haredi school receiving state subsidies will be obliged to teach a core curriculum; that state religious instrumentalities will be staffed by religious Zionist rabbis; and that the government will endorse Rabbi David Stav, the head of the Tzohar rabbinical movement, as their candidate to assume the role of Chief Rabbi.

 

Such intervention in religious and state issues is highly overdue and would clearly reflect the will of the people. This is an historic opportunity to bring about these reforms. Any attempt to maintain the old regime by merely introducing cosmetic changes will enrage the nation. Besides, in view of the dramatic demographic growth of the haredi sector, failure to act now could undermine the social fabric of Israeli society and, in a few short years, result in an economic crisis as a consequence of an ever-growing number of able bodied Israelis becoming dependent on state welfare. Once agreement is achieved around these parameters there should be absolutely no excuse for not forming the widest possible national government.

 

In terms of the peace process, other than Bayit Yehudi which seeks to annex Judea and Samaria, the divergence between Netanyahu and other parties over external policies are minimal. Yesh Atid calls for greater efforts to negotiate with the Palestinians but is clearly not promoting additional unilateral concessions and supports an undivided Jerusalem and the retention of Ariel. Even if Tzipi Livni retains her absurd fig leaf role of “heading the peace process”, her activities are unlikely to eventuate because Mahmoud Abbas and the PA are neither willing to compromise nor in a position to exercise any reciprocity. Indeed, their preconditions would probably preclude Livni from engaging in any discussions with them.

 

Ministerial portfolios at such a critical time should not be regarded as sacred cows and should be allocated to the most appropriate candidate rather than extorted on a purely party political level. Aside from the position of Prime Minister, even allowing for political representation and senior ministerial roles being affected by numbers, positions such as Foreign Minister should be filled by the person best equipped to promote the case for Israel. In all probability, had Netanyahu not so stubbornly protected the vested interests of the haredim, a new government would already have been formed.

 

But this is water under the bridge. If Netanyahu now accedes to the reforms relating to religion and state, both Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi – who publicly proclaim that, like the majority of the nation, they also support him as Prime Minister – should speedily overcome any remaining minor obstacles and join the government. Yet, regrettably there are signs that both of these parties, somewhat giddy about their electoral triumphs, are making additional unreasonable demands.

 

I personally have little sympathy for Shas and believe that throughout their existence they have concentrated on exploiting successive governments and extorting exclusive privileges for their own sector rather than being concerned with the national interest. Furthermore, they contributed to the degradation and corruption of state religious instrumentalities and played a major role in creating the tensions and prejudice against religion. They have also behaved abominably towards the religious Zionist sector of the community.

 

Nevertheless Shas is a democratically elected party and if it (unlike United Torah Judaism) accommodates the will of the people in terms of religious reforms, it would be discriminatory if they were excluded from participating in a broad national government.

 

There are unconfirmed rumors that Yair Lapid (backed by Naftali Bennett) is now refusing under any circumstances to join a government in which Shas is also a component. If this is true, it is scandalous. Both Lapid and Bennett are political newcomers and they should not lose sight of the fact that voters supported them despite the absence of any track record. The bulk of their support was generated because Israelis were fed up with the machinations of the establishment political parties.

 

If Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi are now calling for a boycott or exclusion of any political party willing to accept the will of the people, they are contradicting all the rhetoric of unity which they were promoting during the course of the elections. Lapid and Bennett should display a little humility, at least initially, until they learn the ropes. If, after Likud meets their demands to reform the religion and state issues, they make additional unreasonable demands, obliging the nation to face another costly election, they would be opposing the will of the nation and betraying their voters who supported them to overcome petty politics and unite the nation.

 

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BENNETT-LAPID: GENIUS TACTIC OR GROSS IRRESPONSIBILITY?

Gil Ronen

Israel National News, Feb. 25, 2013

 

The big story currently driving the political system in Israel to distraction is the completely unexpected and unprecedented post-election pact between Bayit Yehudi, under MK Naftali Bennett, and Yesh Atid, under MK Yair Lapid. The heads of the two parties have agreed between them that neither will enter the coalition without the other. The chances that Labor (15 seats), which is extremely leftist on economic matters and suspiciously coy about diplomatic and security matters, will join Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, are extremely slim.

 

Given the election results, therefore, Netanyahu (with 31 seats) cannot establish a coalition if both Yesh Atid (19 seats) and Bayit Yehudi (12 seats) refuse to join it. The pact between the two parties is one of three things, or a combination thereof. It could be a brilliant, cynical tactical move by Bennett to force Netanyahu to give him powerful portfolios in his new government. It could be a revolutionary ideological-political pact signalling a seismic change in Israeli society and government, which will drive non-Zionist forces to the sidelines. It could also be an act of irresponsible and amateurish brinkmanship that might bring down Likud and the entire nationalist camp from its leadership position. It cannot be all three.

 

Bayit Yehudi is the current incarnation of the National Religious Party, or Mafdal, which has been a part of Israeli politics in one form or another since the state's establishment, and which in turn represented the movement known in the early decades of modern Zionism as the Mizrachi movement.

 

Yesh Atid is a new party. It belongs to the centrist variety of parties, which Israel has seen in numerous elections over the years. Centrist parties in Israel usually stand for very little other then the fact that they are neither too leftist nor too nationalistic, and they tend to disappear from the scene after a few years in the Knesset.

 

A favorite centrist issue, however, is the objection to what is perceived by many Zionist Israelis as an unfair hareidi privilege: the exemption of men from compulsory military service. The main plank in Yesh Atid's platform is a plan to force most hareidi men to enlist into the military or national service, and to limit the exemptions for Torah students to 400 annually. The fact that the hareidi world is largely perceived as un-Zionist and even anti-Zionist feeds a general anti-hareidi sentiment which bolsters support for the anti-exemption initiative. This sentiment is particularly strong in secular and leftist circles. The further left one goes, the more likely one is to see hareidim demonized, alongside right wing "settlers."

 

Over the years, Israel's religious parties, including the hareidi ones, have come to be seen as part of the "right wing bloc." They are perceived, rightly or not, as "natural allies" of Likud. Although hareidi parties, and Mafdal as well, have been accused of betraying nationalist causes on different occasions, it is undeniable that by definition, the religious parties tend to be less leftist and more traditionalist than non-religious parties. By siding forcefully with Lapid on hareidi enlistment, Bennett is thus adopting an issue that is generally perceived as one that unites the Israeli center and left wing, while splitting the religious-nationalist camp….

 

Another factor working in his favour is that besides angering secular Israelis, hareidi leaders have succeeded in alienating many religious Zionist leaders as well. Pre-election statements slamming Bayit Yehudi as "the home of gentiles" and accusing it of "uprooting the Torah" deeply insulted the religious Zionist sector, and the apologies delivered thus far have been partial in nature. Religious Zionists are also upset over what they see as their deliberate distancing, over the years, from seats of influence in the Chief Rabbinate, Rabbinical Courts, Religions Ministry and other official positions, by the hareidi parties.

 

Likud warns that the Bennett-Lapid pact is forcing it into taking in Lapid as a primary partner, which will be able to topple the coalition at any point it desires. Lapid has declared that he sees himself replacing Netanyahu as prime minister, and recent polls suggest that this is a realistic possibility. Lapid's list of MKs includes some radical left wingers, and should new elections be held and Lapid elected as prime minister, it is highly likely that he would embrace leftist parties like Meretz and Labor as his partners. Reckless and disastrous acts of surrender like the 2005 Disengagement would probably follow.

However, Bennett thinks Netanyahu is being disingenuous when he accuses him of helping the Left. He says that it is Netanyahu who wants to establish a leftist government with Yesh Atid, Tzipi Livni, and the hareidim, who usually do not object too strenuously to leftist policies as long as they receive the portfolios they desire….

 

Bennett appears to believe that by giving Lapid what he wants, regarding hareidi enlistment, he is actually helping to forge a Zionist coalition that redraws Israeli politics. Hareidi parties would be sidelined, at least for a while, and the government would be established on solid Zionist foundations. Hareidi men would have to start pulling their weight in modern Israel, which depends on its young men – and to a lesser degree, on its young women – to defend it on the field of battle in the daily struggle for existence. Israeli Jewishness itself would be redefined, as the chasm between some parts of the Torah world and the rest of Israeli society would begin to be bridged….

 

Land surrenders are not on the table anyway, as Bennett sees it, and Lapid, while a prime representative of the smooth-talking and pampered chattering class, is not an ideological leftist. It is true that he wrote an infamous column in which he said that the Disengagement was meant primarily to teach the settlers a lesson, and that another column disgustingly attacked a religious soldier who refused to shake hands with the IDF Chief of Staff because of the Disengagement. But Lapid has also made some nationalist-pleasing declarations about the pointlessness of negotiating with the Palestinian Authority. He has refused to form a bloc with "the Zoabis," and he chose to deliver his maiden political speech at Ariel in Samaria….

 

Bennett and Lapid have found a common denominator in the masculine ethos, as well: Lapid is an amateur boxer and a has been a writer for Blazer, a glossy men's magazine. In Tel Aviv's "metrosexual" culture, he is a figure that still stands for the more old-fashioned kind of masculinity, even if his military service as a reporter for the IDF's Bamachaneh magazine was less than heroic. Bennett is an officer in the IDF's most vaunted elite commando unit. The two neophyte parliamentarians appear to have formed excellent chemistry and trust in a very short time…..

 

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Netanyahu Said Ready to Cut Deal With Yesh Atid, Jewish Home: Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, Feb. 27, 2013 Realizing that he cannot break an alliance between Yesh Atid and Jewish Home, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ready to build a coalition with these two parties and exclude the ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism, sources close to the coalition negotiations said on Wednesday night.
 

Tzipi Livni's Misguided Sense of Accomplishments: Eli Hertz, Israel National News, Feb. 24, 2013Tzipi Livni was recently offered the position of Minister of Justice in Netanyahu's government. At first, Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni advocated honesty and accountability, but when it came to the Second Lebanese War in 2006, those principles seemed to have left the room.

 

The Party Faithful: David Remnick, The New Yorker, Jan 21, 2013—Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett, who are running for the Knesset in the Jewish Home Party. Bennett says, “There will never be a peace plan with the Palestinians.”
 

Lieberman: 'Good Chance' Hareidi Parties Will Join Gov’t: David Lev, Arutz 7, Feb. 28, 2013Avigdor Lieberman, the number two MK in the Likud/Yisrael Beiteinu, said hareidi parties might still be included in the coalition. Avigdor Lieberman, the number two MK in the Likud/Yisrael Beiteinu, said Thursday that contrary to reports, Binyamin Netanyahu had not given up on the idea of a government including hareidi parties. “There is a good chance the hareidi parties will be able to join,” Lieberman said of Shas and United Torah Jewry.
 

Two-State Solution is a Deadly Illusion: David Kirshenbaum, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 27, 2013Only the dangerously foolish would believe that the Arabs would long forgo a fundamental attribute of sovereignty and agree to remain demilitarized.

 

 

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Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

Contents:  Weekly Quotes |  Short Takes

 

Download Today's Isranet Briefing.pdf

 

On Topic Links

 

Exposing The UN's Dirty Little Secrets:  Daniel Schwammenthal, The Commentator, Feb. 24 2013

France to Return Art Stolen By the Nazis: Kim Willsher, Telegraph, Feb. 24, 2013

New Implant is Alternative to Spinal Fusion: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21C, Feb. 27, 2013

 

 

“Real apartheid, genocide and ethnic cleansing are occurring on our watch, yet these people have become so obsessed with the end of Zionism that the suffering of others had become a side show. Protest the oppression of women in Saudi Arabia and you'll have my respect. Protesting against an Israeli theater group is pathetic.”Kasim Hafeez, a British-born pro-Israel Muslim in an op-ed article in Ynet News. (Ynet, Feb. 20, 2013)

 

“A political lie of a variety well known in the twentieth century and scarcely exceeded in all that annal of untruth and outrage. The lie is that Zionism is a form of racism. The overwhelming truth is that it is not.”Daniel Patrick Moynihan, coming to the defense of Zionism in his effort to block UN resolution 3379, passed by the General Assembly in November 1975, declaring Zionism to be a form of racism. Moynihan further proclaimed that, in the approval of this resolution, the “abomination of anti-Semitism…has been given the appearance of international sanction,” and that the General Assembly had granted “symbolic amnestyand moreto the murderers of  million European Jews.”  The resolution was ultimately repealed in 1991 with 111 countries voting for the motion to repeal. (National Review, Feb. 11, 2013)

 

"To many who know little or nothing about Hollywood or the falsity of such Jewish stereotypes, there’s a much higher potential for the ‘Jews control Hollywood’ myth to be accepted as fact. It only reinforces stereotypes which legitimize anti-Semitism. It is sad and disheartening that the Oscars awards show sought to use anti-Jewish stereotypes for laughs."Abe Foxman of the ADL, in response to a Seth McFarlane comedy routine at the Oscars which suggested that  in order to "work in this town" (Hollywood) he [had to] be Jewish. He then [went] on to say, "I was born Theodore Shapiro and I would like to donate to Israel and continue to work in Hollywood forever." (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 26, 2013)

 

"[Palestinian] children grow up learning that Jews are 'Satan with a tail'… Adults hear that Jews are evil and not to be trusted. It is perhaps not surprising that the [Palestinian] hatred is growing. The messenger is a [PA] government that receives large amounts [of money] from Norway."Norwegian state-owned TV, NRK in a recent program on Palestinian Media Watch's findings concerning the direct connection between the Palestinian Authority's promotion of hatred and terror glorification and the Norwegian funding of the PA, at 300 million kroner a year ($52,628,700). (Palestinian Media Watch, Feb. 27, 2013)

 

Iran is closer than ever to achieve enrichment for a nuclear bomb.”a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu’s office in response to a recent UN report indicating that Iran has made significant progress in upgrading it’s nuclear capabilities. Furthermore, the statement said, the report’s findings “prove that Iran continues to advance to the red line” that Israel considers intolerable. (Montreal Gazette, Feb. 22, 2013)

 

“After [Mohamed] Merah the French are afraid of terrorism. They are afraid that you can have one or two or three Merahs. And they could be right; no one really knows.”Marc Trévidic,  France’s most prominent investigative judge dealing with terrorism, commenting on the potential spillover effects of the French government’s intervention against Islamists in Mali. “The field of suspects is much larger, so the situation gives me a little fear. We’re fighting groups that are less powerful and organized than before, but which are much more difficult to detect. The young Muslims I see in my office have developed a kind of paranoia,” he said. “They are sure that we want to fight Islam, that we’re against Islam. They were born in France and were not practicing Muslims, but now they pray and they are sure we are against Muslims.” (New York Times, Feb. 24, 2013)

 

“Bashar al-Assad and the security and military leadership responsible for the state of Syria today must step down and be considered outside this political process. They cannot be part of any political solution for Syria and must be held accountable for their crimes.”Syrian opposition coalition in a statement contradicting recent statements by its leader, Sheik Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, who had said he was open to talks with members of Mr. Assad’s government about a political solution to end the conflict. (New York Times, Feb. 23, 2013)

 

“This new document… shows we are no longer dealing with an isolated local problem, but with an enemy which is reaching across continents to share advice.”Bruce Riedel, a 30year veteran of the CIA, now the director of the Intelligence Project at the Brookings Institution, commenting on an al-Qaeda tipsheet left behind by Islamist fighters fleeing French troops in Mali. The tipsheet provided advice on how to best avoid drone detection, amongst other things.

   “These are not dumb techniques. It shows that they are acting pretty astutely.”Col. Cedric Leighton, a 26-year-veteran of the United States Air Force, who helped set up the Predator drone program. “What it does is, it buys them a little bit more time — and in this conflict, time is key. And they will use it to move away from an area, from a bombing raid, and do it very quickly.” (National Post, Feb. 22, 2013)

 

 “A non-militarized Palestinian state, together with security mechanisms that address Israeli concerns while respecting Palestinian sovereignty, and a U.S.- led multinational force to ensure a peaceful transitional security period. This coalition peacekeeping structure, under UN mandate, would feature American leadership of a NATO force supplemented by Jordanians, Egyptians and Israelis. We can envision a five-year, renewable mandate with the objective of achieving full Palestinian domination of security affairs on the Palestine side of the line within 15 years.”from a 2009 report, co-authored by newly sworn-in US Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, and released by the U.S./Middle East Project (USMEP), on whose board Hagel serves. The report recommended, among other things, the imposition of a “peace agreement” on Israel despite the potential for alienating the American Jewish constituency. (Breibart, Feb. 24, 2013)

 

"From early on, people are taught in religious schools that slaves are the masters’ properties, who are passed along as inheritance and where the condition of slavery is transmitted from parent to child, where women slaves must submit their bodies to their masters."Abidine Merzough, a man born as a slave to slave parents in Mauritania, speaking at UN Watch’s annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. Some 20 percent of Mauritanians, about 600,000 people, are still slaves. Mauritania uses Sharia to justify a racist system where Arabs exploit the country's black African population.  (The Commentator, Feb. 24, 2013)
 

“Despite his admission and his regret, Jonathan continues to serve a sentence unprecedented in American history [for the crime he committed]. His health is fleeting and the remainder of his life is diminishing.”Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau in a letter to US President Barack Obama in anticipation of the latter’s visit to Israel in March. He noted that Pollard would soon mark the unfortunate milestone of 10,000 days in prison. “Let him live the rest of his life with his wife, Esther, in the State of Israel that granted him citizenship. This action would be seen as a humanitarian gesture by the seekers of freedom in the world.” Lau wrote. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 23, 2013)

 

“The opening of the [Canadian] Office of Religious Freedom is a positive step forward in helping to secure fundamental freedoms across the globe and we were pleased to be part of the original consultation process. Canada has an obligation to display moral leadership and do its part to protect vulnerable communities around the world. Today’s announcement…will hopefully be the first step in a series of important initiatives by the Office to further the rights of religious minorities.”Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, commenting on the Canadian government’s recent announcement establishing the new ‘Office of Religious Freedom’. (B’nai Brith Canada, Feb. 19, 2013)

 

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U.S. SET TO SEND DIRECT AID TO SYRIAN REBELS—(Paris)  America is poised to provide direct assistance for the first time to rebel forces fighting to overthrow the Syrian regime, in an attempt to end a stalemate in the country's bloody two-year civil war. John Kerry, the new US secretary of state, signaled yesterday that Washington is actively considering a shift in policy that would send financial aid and equipment such as armored vehicles, body armour and night vision goggles to Syria's opposition council. There was however no indication that weaponry would be supplied. "We are examining and developing ways to accelerate the transition the Syrian people seek and deserve," Mr Kerry said in Paris, after meeting Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister. A White House spokesman confirmed the move. (Telegraph, Feb. 27, 2013)

 

CHUCK HAGEL SWORN IN AS US DEFENSE SECRETARY—(Washington) After rocky confirmation process, Republican described by his own party as showing 'troubling lack of judgment on critical issues' finally takes office. Chuck Hagel took charge of the US Defense Department on Wednesday after a bruising confirmation fight – and two days before billions in budget cuts are scheduled to hit the military. The Republican, who still faces skepticism and anger from some former Senate colleagues of his own party, was sworn in after a deeply divided chamber voted Tuesday to confirm him. The vote was one of the closest seen in the House – 58-41. The twice-wounded Vietnam combat veteran now faces $46 billion in automatic, across-the-board budget cuts that will hit the Pentagon on Friday unless a deal can be made by the Obama administration and Congress to avoid them. But no talks on an agreement appeared to be under way.  (Israel News, Feb. 27, 2013)

 

IRAN ROCKET EXPERTS HELPING MILITANTS IN GAZA—(Tel Aviv)  Expert rocket makers dispatched from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have in recent days arrived in the Gaza Strip, senior Palestinian security sources have told the Israeli news outlet Walla!  on Tuesday. According to the report, the sources said that they are in Gaza to help Hamas and the Islamic Jihad develop long-range missiles. Israeli security and diplomatic sources have reportedly confirmed the Palestinian claims that there is an Iranian presence in Gaza, but did not elaborate. Walla! quoted the Israeli sources as saying that Iranian agents have previously visited the Gaza Strip as well. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 26, 2013)

 

BRITISH JIHADI SUICIDE BOMB GANG GUILTY OF PLOTTING TERROR ATTACK—(London, UK)  The ringleaders of an al-Qaeda-backed British jihadi group – Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27 – have been found guilty of plotting the worst terror attack on UK soil. The Birmingham-based gang planned to use eight suicide bombers, armed with guns, to cause "mass death" and "carnage" on the streets of Britain and wanted to carry out "another 9/11." Targets included an unnamed synagogue. Naseer and Khalid traveled to Pakistan for terror training, where they made martyrdom videos to be released by al-Qaeda after they had blown themselves up. The gang raised more than £20,000 by claiming to be collecting for Muslim Aid to fund their atrocity. (Telegraph, Feb. 21, 2013)

 

'58% RISE IN ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACKS IN FRANCE IN 2012'—(Paris) France saw an increase of 58 percent in anti-Semitic incidents in 2012 compared to the previous year, according to a report by the French Jewish community. The report released Tuesday by the SPCJ, the security unit of France’s Jewish communities, showed that 614 anti-Semitic acts were documented in the republic last year compared to 389 in 2011. "2012 has been a year of unprecedented violence against Jews in France,” according to the report, which referenced the shooting murders of a rabbi and three Jewish children on March 19 by an Islamist radical at a Jewish school in Toulouse. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 20, 2013)

 

COURT ORDERS GAZA TUNNELS DESTROYED—(Cairo)A Cairo court ruled that the Egyptian government must destroy all tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. The labyrinth of tunnels is an infamous smuggling route for arms trafficking. It is also believed that 30% of the goods that reach the Gaza Strip, as well as over 1.5 million people a year, make their way through the tunnels in an attempt to bypass the blockade that has been imposed by Israel and Egypt for more than seven years. The underground maze stretching beneath Rafah, Sinai and Gaza is said to include 450 main tunnels and 750 sub-tunnels. (Israel News,  Feb. 27, 2013)

 

SYRIAN REBELS ATTACK HIZBULLAH POSITIONS IN LEBANON—(Beirut) Syrian rebels started to attack Lebanon's Hizbullah on Feb. 21, after the Free Syrian Army (FSA) chief of staff issued a warning to Hizbullah to stop shelling territory held by the insurgents. "We have bombed the territories of Hizbullah in Lebanon and Syria. The Free Syrian Army will continue bombing these positions," said Col. Hisam al-Avvak of the Group of Free Officers, which operates under the umbrella of the FSA. (Hurriyet News, Feb. 21, 2013 )

 

SYRIAN REBELS CLAIM TO KILL HEZBOLLAH DEPUTY CHIEF—(Beirut) Hezbollah's deputy chief, Naim Qassem, was killed Tuesday when Syrian rebels bombed a convoy consisting of high-ranking Syrian government officers near the Lebanon border, news portal Now Lebanon quoted the Free Syria Army as saying on Wednesday. “It has been confirmed… that Hezbollah’s number two man died after [receiving] a serious injury,” the Free Syria Army posted on its Twitter account. Lebanese newspaper al-Mustaqbal quoted the Syrian rebels as saying mines placed on the Beirut-Damascus highway had detonated as the convoy returned from a high-level security meeting in Lebanon. The explosion reportedly took place near the town of Jdeidet Yabous near the Lebanon-Syria border. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 27, 2013)

 

OXFORD STUDENTS REJECT ISRAEL BOYCOTT CALL—(London) A controversial motion calling for a boycott of Israeli institutions, goods and produce at Oxford University was unequivocally defeated by students on Wednesday [Feb 27]. Students at the prestigious university voted against the motion at Oxford University Students’ Union (OUSU), with 69 votes against, 10 for and 15 abstentions. A margin of seven to one. Oxford University’s collegiate system is made up of 38 colleges and six private halls founded by various Christian denominations. Each college has a “junior common room” that votes at the OUSU. The number of votes each college has is determined by the size of the college. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 27, 2013)

 

TALKS RESULT IN  EASED SANCTIONS FOR IRAN(Almaty, Kazakhstan) World powers offered broader concessions than ever to Iran in attempts Wednesday [Feb. 27] keep alive diplomatic channels that seek to rein in the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program and prevent it from building an atomic weapon. The offer was hailed by Saeed Jalili, Iran’s top official at diplomatic talks in Kazakhstan, who said it represented a “turning point” by world powers to compromise on Tehran’s uranium enrichment program. The deal allows Iran to keep a limited amount of highly enriched uranium — but not make any more — stops short of demanding the full shutdown of an underground nuclear facility, and offers to remove some trade sanctions that have hurt Iran’s economy. Still, a senior US official said, crippling sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial industries would remain in place as negotiations continue. (Times of Israel, Feb. 27, 2013)

 

IMAGES INDICATE IRAN PURSUING ‘PLAN B’ FOR NUKES(London)  New satellite images reveal that an Iranian nuclear site that has been kept away from the inquiring eyes of UN inspectors is operational and apparently producing materials that could eventually be used to make an atomic bomb. Fresh photographs of the Arak facility, published late Tuesday [Feb 26] by Britain’s Daily Telegraph, indicate that heavy water production has commenced at the site. Arak is a heavily guarded facility that contains two main sections: a nuclear reactor and a heavy water production plant. The heavy water section of the facility has been off-limits to international inspections for the past 18 months. The images show a large number of anti-aircraft batteries protecting the Arak site. Most of the missiles are on the western side of the complex, facing toward Israel and the direction from which an Israeli airstrike would likely emanate, the report said. (Times of Israel,  Feb. 27, 2013)

 

DISPUTED JEWISH TEXTS TO STAY IN RUSSIA, PUTIN SAYS—(Moscow) A disputed collection of Jewish writings will remain in Russia because returning it to a New York-based group would set a precedent paving the way for more such claims dating back to Soviet times, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday. Dispute over the Jewish books and documents claimed by the Chabad-Lubavitch group adds to tensions between Moscow and Washington, which have seen ties deteriorate over human rights and security issues since Putin's return to the Kremlin in May. "The Schneerson Collection belongs to Russia," Putin said in a grand new Jewish museum in Moscow, in referring to texts held in Russian libraries and archives, some of them confiscated by the Soviet Union from Nazi forces during World War Two. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 19, 2013)

 

SEARCH FOR JEWS OF KAIFENG—(Jerusalem) In recent decades, a vast resurgence of a large variety of religious, ethnic and cultural identities has been sweeping China. The wave of interest in old traditions has had a major effect on the descendants of the ancient Jewish community of Kaifeng. With no synagogue or rabbi since the mid-19th century, until very recently the Jews of Kaifeng had almost completely assimilated into the Chinese world around them. In recent years, some members of the community have begun to examine and explore their Jewish roots. Interest in the faith of their ancestors and increasing contact with Jews from Israel and elsewhere has even led some of the community members towards conversion to Judaism. This talk by scholar Gideon Elazar is based on a visit with the community in Kaifeng under the auspices of the organization "Shavei Yisrael" during the holiday of Sukkot, and an analysis of their history and current situation in the context of contemporary China.  (The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Video, Feb 14, 2013)

 

NEW IMPLANT IS ALTERNATIVE TO SPINAL FUSION—(Tel Aviv)  One of the most common causes of back pain is spinal stenosis of the lower back – a narrowing of the spinal canal that causes pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots. Fixing the problem usually involves spinal fusion, an operation to permanently join two or more vertebrae bones so there is no movement between them. The Israeli company Premia Spine is offering a unique and – it believes – better option. Its trademarked TOPS (Total Posterior Solution) System aims to revolutionize the spinal implant market. “We believe patients suffering from spinal stenosis can also get joint replacement rather than fusion,” CEO Ron Sacher. “We’ve developed an implant that recreates all functions of the posterior spinal column…[including] control over twisting, bending and flexing.” The titanium-sandwiched implant not only gives patients normal, pain-free mobility, but it also protects adjacent levels of the spine from similar degeneration – a common unwanted side effect of fusion surgery.  (Israel 21 C, Feb. 27, 2013)

 

FRANCE TO RETURN ART STOLEN BY THE NAZIS—(Paris) The French government has launched a new bid to return paintings stolen by the Nazis to their rightful owners – or, given the seven decades that has passed – their descendants. President Francois Hollande's administration is setting up a group of experts and curators to pro-actively track down families, rather than simply waiting for them to come forward. The group, which will start work next month, will carry out its detective work with the help of a new computerised database compiled of digital scans of thousands of pages of relevant documentation currently gathering dust in archives. French museums currently hold some 2,140 art pieces that are thought to have been looted from Jewish families, including paintings by famous names such as Cezanne, Degas, Van Dyck, Ingres, Pissarro, Rembrandt, Renoir, Rubens, and Tiepolo. (Telegraph,  24 Feb 2013)

 

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France to return art stolen by the Nazis: Kim Willsher, Telegraph, Feb. 24, 2013The French government has launched a new bid to return paintings stolen by the Nazis to their rightful owners – or, given the seven decades that has passed – their descendants.

New Implant Is Alternative To Spinal Fusion: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21C, Feb. 27, 2013Israel’s Premia Spine has a transformative solution for spinal stenosis inspired by the success of total hip and total knee replacement.

Exposing The UN's Dirty Little Secrets:  Daniel Schwammenthal, The Commentator, Feb. 24 2013A gathering of the tortured in Geneva shames the UN Human Rights Council by giving victims not perpetrators a platform to tell their story.

 

 

Ber Lazarus
, Publications Editor
 Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
/L'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme   www.isranet.org  Tel: (514) 486-5544 Fax: (514) 486-82843

 

 

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OBAMA’S HOLDING FIRM ON HAGEL NOMINATION THROWS HIS MIDDLE EAST, ISRAEL VIEWS INTO HIGH RELIEF

Download Today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

 

Contents:                          

 

(Please Note: articles may have been shortened in the interest of space. Please click link for the complete article – Ed.)

 

 

Petition For Pollard: We, the People of Israel, look forward hopefully and with pleasure to your visit to our country. In anticipation of this important occasion, we would like to appeal to you about a matter which is deeply troubling to every one of us. Our President, Shimon Peres, and our Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu have both issued formal appeals to you on behalf of the People of Israel, imploring you to release Jonathan Pollard.
 

Why Obama Picked Hagel: Bob Woodward, Washington Post, January 27, 2013In the first months of the Obama presidency in 2009, Chuck Hagel, who had just finished two terms as a U.S. senator, went to the White House to visit with the friend he had made during the four years they overlapped in the Senate.

 

Chuck Hagel’s Plan for U.S. Forces in ‘Palestine’: Joseph Klein, Front Page Magazine, February 26, 2013On the eve of a Senate vote to confirm Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, a 2009 report co-authored by Hagel has surfaced titled “A Last Chance For A Two-State Israel-Palestine Agreement.” It called for Israel to make “the hard compromises and painful concessions for peace” without asking anything comparable from the Palestinian side.

 

20 Crazy Things Hagel Believes About Israel: Joel B. Pollak, Breibart, Feb. 25, 2013Here is a partial list of the bizarre views on Israel that Democrats [and some Republicans] have proven willing to accept in a high official by backing Hagel to lead the Pentagon….1.U.S. troops should be deployed to Israel and a new Palestinian state at the head of an international peacekeeping force. 

On Topic Links

 

 

Hagel Proves Politicians Have No Shame: Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, Feb. 26, 2013

Hagel’s $160 Billion 'West Bank' US Troops Deathtrap: Mark Langfan, Arutz Sheva, February 23, 2013

Sleepy Chuck Hagel Has Some Bigger Questions to Answer: Jeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg, Jan 31, 2013

Kerry, Hagel & ’Nam: The Dog That Didn’t Bark: Seth Lipsky, New York Post, Feb. 22, 2013

 

 

 

PRESIDENT OBAMA, COME [TO ISRAEL] WITH POLLARD!

Sign the Petition to Release Jonathan Pollard
 

Dear President Obama: 
 
We, the People of Israel, look forward hopefully and with pleasure to your visit to our country.

In anticipation of this important occasion, we would like to appeal to you about a matter which is deeply troubling to every one of us. Our President, Shimon Peres, and our Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu have both issued formal appeals to you on behalf of the People of Israel, imploring you to release Jonathan Pollard.
 
Jonathan Pollard has now served 28 years of a life sentence in American prisons. A few short weeks from now, he will mark his 10,000th day in jail. Both he and Israel have repeatedly expressed remorse.  We have learned our lesson and have been living with the painful consequences for nearly 3 decades.  We are encouraged by the appeals of Secretaries of State Kissinger and Schultz, among the many American officials calling for Jonathan Pollard's release, including many who have first-hand knowledge of the case, because of the gross disproportionality of his sentence.  Jonathan's failing health lends urgency to their appeals.
 
We, The People, simple citizens of the State of Israel, sincerely hope that you will take this opportunity to respond positively to the many requests for Jonathan Pollard's release, including those made by Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres on our behalf.
 
We appeal to you as one who symbolizes the shared values of humanity, compassion and hope for a second chance, that both of our nations embrace. We implore you to commute Jonathan Pollard's sentence to time served without delay and allow him to live out his remaining days as a free man. It is our fervent hope and prayer that your upcoming trip to Israel will bring us the good news we have waited for, for so very long, and that this tragic and painful episode can finally be put to rest once and for all.
 

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WHY OBAMA PICKED HAGEL

Bob Woodward

Washington Post, January 27, 2013

 

In the first months of the Obama presidency in 2009, Chuck Hagel, who had just finished two terms as a U.S. senator, went to the White House to visit with the friend he had made during the four years they overlapped in the Senate. So, President Obama asked, what do you think about foreign policy and defence issues?

 

According to an account that Hagel later gave, and is reported here for the first time, he told Obama: “We are at a time where there is a new world order. We don’t control it. You must question everything, every assumption, everything they” — the military and diplomats — “tell you. Any assumption 10 years old is out of date. You need to question our role. You need to question the military. You need to question what are we using the military for. “Afghanistan will be defining for your presidency in the first term,” Hagel also said, according to his own account, “perhaps even for a second term.” The key was not to get “bogged down.”

 

Obama did not say much but listened. At the time, Hagel considered Obama a “loner,” inclined to keep a distance and his own counsel. But Hagel’s comments help explain why Obama nominated his former Senate colleague to be his next secretary of defense. The two share similar views and philosophies as the Obama administration attempts to define the role of the United States in the transition to a post-superpower world. This worldview is part hawk and part dove. It amounts, in part, to a challenge to the wars of President George W. Bush. It holds that the Afghanistan war has been mismanaged and the Iraq war unnecessary. War is an option, but very much a last resort.

 

So, this thinking goes, the U.S. role in the world must be carefully scaled back — this is not a matter of choice but of facing reality; the military needs to be treated with deep skepticism; lots of strategic military and foreign policy thinking is out of date; and quagmires like Afghanistan should be avoided. The bottom line: The United States must get out of these massive land wars — Iraq and Afghanistan — and, if possible, avoid future large-scale war.

 

Although much discussion of the Hagel nomination has centered on his attitudes about Iran, Israel and the defence budget, Hagel’s broader agreement with Obama on overall philosophy is probably more consequential. Hagel has also said he believes it is important that a defence secretary should not dictate foreign policy and that policy should be made in the White House.

 

He privately voiced reservations about Obama’s decision in late 2009 to add 51,000 troops to Afghanistan. “The president has not had commander-in-chief control of the Pentagon since Bush senior was president,” Hagel said privately in 2011.

 

If Hagel is confirmed, as appears likely, he and the president will have a large task in navigating this new world order. Avoiding war is tied directly to the credibility of the threat to go to war. Hagel’s experience provides two unusual perspectives. The first is as a former E-5 Army sergeant in 1968, which he has described as “the worst year of the Vietnam War.” In summation, another Vietnam must be avoided.

 

The second is the Georgetown University class that he taught called “Redefining Geopolitical Relationships.” He asks the class the basic question: Where is all this going? For example, he has said that one result of the Iraq war has been to make Iran the most important country in the Middle East, and he worried that Iraq could become an Iranian satellite.

 

When I interviewed President Obama in the summer of 2010 for my book “Obama’s Wars,” his deeply rooted aversion to war was evident. As I reported in the book, I handed Obama a copy of a quotation from Rick Atkinson’s World War II history, “The Day of Battle,” and asked him to read it. Obama stood and read: “And then there was the saddest lesson, to be learned again and again . . . that war is corrupting, that it corrodes the soul and tarnishes the spirit, that even the excellent and the superior can be defiled, and that no heart would remain unstained.”

 

“I sympathize with this view,” Obama told me. “See my Nobel Prize acceptance speech.” I had listened to the speech when he gave it, Dec. 10, 2009, and later read it, but I dug it out again. And there it was:

 

“The instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another — that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier’s courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause, to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious” — Churchill had called it that — “and we must never trumpet it as such. So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly irreconcilable truths — that war is sometimes necessary and war at some level is an expression of human folly.”

 

That is probably the best definition of the Obama doctrine on war. Applying such a doctrine in today’s dangerous and unpredictable world will be daunting — but on these issues Obama seems to have found a soul mate.

 

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CHUCK HAGEL’S PLAN FOR U.S. FORCES IN ‘PALESTINE’

 

Joseph Klein

Front Page Magazine, Feb. 26, 2013

 

On the eve of a Senate vote to confirm Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, a 2009 report co-authored by Hagel has surfaced titled “A Last Chance For A Two-State Israel-Palestine Agreement.” It called for Israel to make “the hard compromises and painful concessions for peace” without asking anything comparable from the Palestinian side. Indeed, the report warned against “the Jewish-American and Christian Zionist groups that feel comfortable amplifying the positions of Israeli politicians hostile to hard compromise and painful concession.”

 

One of Hagel’s principal co-signatories on the report was Zbigniew Brzezinski, who had advised Obama on foreign policy during his first presidential campaign. Brzezinski has been openly hostile to Israel, accusing it of “brutal repression” and colonialism among other things – i.e., the Palestinian party line. Hagel was obviously not interested in teaming up with an objective analyst, as reflected in the report. Its tone was set when it questioned the historic “intimacy of the American-Israeli relationship,” which it said is presenting “policy and security challenges for the U.S. in the Middle East and beyond.”

 

The principal painful concession recommended in the report was a two-state solution that would result in Israel having to retreat largely behind the indefensible pre-June1967 lines, with minor land swaps.  President Obama’s own proposal for a two-state solution mirrored this recommendation.

 

The report also endorsed a Jerusalem divided into two national capitals “with Jewish neighbourhoods falling under Israeli sovereignty and Arab neighbourhoods under Palestinian sovereignty.” The reality on the ground, however, is that there is no such strict separation of populations all over Jerusalem. Rather there are some mixed Arab-Jewish neighbourhoods. Many Jerusalem-area Arabs also would not want to give up so easily the benefits of living under Israeli sovereignty, such as superior health care, social security and better access to jobs.

 

Christian holy places would be administered by Palestine, a dubious proposition considering the experience in Palestinian-administered Bethlehem where Christians were a majority in 1990 and constitute only 15% of the population today. Christians there found the same type of conditions that Christians in Egypt, Iraq, Libya and other Muslim-controlled countries and regions have encountered – beatings, Palestinian occupation of churches, discrimination and other forms of intimidation. The one safe haven for Christians in the Middle East turns out to be Israel, where the Christian population has grown nearly five-fold since Israel gained its independence in 1948.

 

The report envisions a non-militarized Palestinian state for at least a transitional period, which has about as much chance of succeeding as the failed plan for disarming Hezbollah and other militias in Lebanon. Who would enforce an imposed two state solution according to the recommendations signed off by Hagel? A “U.S.-led multinational force” which would be “under a UN mandate” and “feature American leadership of a NATO force supplemented by Jordanians, Egyptians and Israelis.” Jerusalem would have “a special security and administrative regime of its own.”

 

A NATO researcher estimated that about 60,000 US/NATO troops and about 160 billion dollars over 10 years would be required to carry out this UN mandate. Moreover, our troops would be sitting ducks for the kind of terrorist attacks that have killed thousands of American soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon. And if the report’s recommendation to include Jordanian and Egyptian soldiers in the U.S.-led multi-national force is followed, there is a risk of jihadists committing acts of terrorism from the inside as we have seen all too often in Afghanistan.  The last thing we need to do is engage in another long nation-building exercise that Islamists will propagandize as a Western crusader occupation and use to recruit more foot soldiers for jihad.

 

In providing a thumb-nail revisionist history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by way of background, the report highlighted the “considerable and ongoing Palestinian suffering” that accompanied “the creation and sustaining of a democratic Jewish State in the wake of the Holocaust.” This buys into the Palestinian victimhood narrative that they were innocents forced to pay a heavy price for a European event in which they had no part. 

 

The truth is that the Palestinian leadership and its Arab neighbours threw away the chance for an independent Palestinian state which they could have had for the last sixty-four years. Moreover, the Palestinians under the leadership of such men as Haj Mohammed Effendi Amin el-Husseini collaborated with Nazi Germany. They ended up on the losing side, but still could have had their own state, living side by side in peaceful co-existence with Israel, if it weren’t for their determination to destroy the Jewish state from its inception.

 

Hamas maintains the same rejectionist stance today, but the report bearing Hagel’s name recommended U.S. engagement with the jihadist terrorist organization: In brief, shift the U.S. objective from ousting Hamas to modifying its behavior, offer it inducements that will enable its more moderate elements to prevail, and cease discouraging third parties from engaging with Hamas in ways that might help clarify the movement’s views and test its behavior.

 

The idea that there are any “moderate elements” in Hamas is an oxymoron. Hamas is dedicated to the complete destruction of the Jewish state. This has not changed since the enactment of Hamas’s founding charter, which remains in effect. Last December, for example, Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal stated: ”We are not giving up any inch of Palestine. It will remain Islamic and Arab for us and nobody else. Jihad and armed resistance is the only way. We cannot recognize Israel’s legitimacy. From the sea to the river, from north to south, we will not give up any part of Palestine — it is our country, our right and our homeland.”

 

So much for engaging Hamas on the contours of a two-state solution. In 2011, Hamas’s former minister of “culture,” Atallah Abu Al-Subh, called Jews “the most despicable and contemptible nation to crawl upon the face of the earth.” Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense will be in a position to push the disastrous recommendations of the report he co-authored. It would not take much to convince Obama that they are worth trying, particularly if the UN puts its stamp of approval on the plan and it is conducted under the UN’s auspices. Any Senator foolish enough to confirm Chuck Hagel, given his demonstrated incompetence, will also have to explain to U.S. soldiers put in harm’s way if the recommendations endorsed by Hagel move forward.

 

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20 CRAZY THINGS HAGEL BELIEVES ABOUT ISRAEL

Joel B. Pollak

Breibart, Feb. 25, 2013

 

…Here is a partial list of the bizarre views on Israel that Democrats [and some Republicans] have proven willing to accept in a high official by backing Hagel to lead the Pentagon….

 

1. U.S. troops should be deployed to Israel and a new Palestinian state at the head of an international peacekeeping force.

 

2. The U.S. should negotiate with Hamas, a terror group devoted to Israel’s total destruction, and which rejects talks or peace with Israel.

 

3. The U.S. should impose a peace deal on Israel and the Palestinians, if necessary.

 

4. The U.S. should not pressure the European Union to add the Hezbollah terror group to its official list of terror organizations–i.e. Hezbollah should be allowed to continue to raise money and to organize activities in Europe.

 

5. Israel should not have defended itself against cross-border raids and terror rockets during the Second Lebanon War.

 

6. It is acceptable to refuse to express solidarity with Israel when it faces a brutal terror campaign consisting almost entirely of suicide attacks against civilians, in violation of all laws of war.

 

7. It is appropriate to urge dialogue with Hamas even in the midst of a war in which that organization is firing a barrage of deadly rockets at Israeli civilians.

 

8. It is acceptable to decline to endorse almost every pro-Israel letter circulated in Congress.

 

9. It is appropriate to characterize Israel’s future as “apartheid” if it does not make deep concessions as urgently as possible, despite the fact that Israel would have a sizable Jewish majority even including the West Bank.

 

10. Israel’s supporters in the U.S., known as the “Jewish lobby” (or, as Hagel put it in his confirmation hearing, the “Israeli lobby) exert undue influence on foreign policy that the government must resist or ignore.

 

11. It is inappropriate to apply sanctions, unilateral or multilateral, to Iran in order to encourage compliance with binding UN resolutions about its nuclear program.

 

12. The U.S. must engage the Iranian regime diplomatically, opening a U.S. consulate in Tehran if possible, even if the Iranian regime rejects negotiations.

 

13. The U.S. should not attack Iran, even if the Iranian regime launches an attack that threatens Israel.

 

14. While it is right to pressure Israel, it is wrong to pressure Arab states to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

 

15. It is acceptable to accept organizational funding from a known supporter of Hamas as well as from governments that refuse to recognize Israel, such as Saudi Arabia.

 

16. It is acceptable to be honored by an anti-Israel organization that named a scholarship after Helen Thomas even after she was exposed as an antisemite.

 

17. It is acceptable to distort essential facts of Israeli history, such as the substance of the Balfour Declaration, or the conduct of the Israeli military during the Second Lebanon War.

 

18. It is acceptable to describe the Israeli-Palestinian issue as the “core” of Middle East conflict.

 

19. It is acceptable to make politically convenient conversions on many of the above issues, even when those conversions fail serious examination by the Senate.

 

20. It is appropriate to mislead the Senate about recent speeches relevant to the issues….

 

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Hagel Proves Politicians Have no Shame: Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, Feb. 26, 2013Another day and another previously undisclosed Chuck Hagel speech replete with dumb and controversial remarks. Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan joins the government of Iran, the National Jewish Democratic Committee and, as far as we know, every Democratic U.S. senator in giving Hagel a thumbs’ up to head the Pentagon.

 

Hagel’s $160 Billion 'West Bank' US Troops Deathtrap: Mark Langfan, Arutz Sheva, February 23, 2013There is only one reason that Chuck Hagel was picked by President Obama to be US Defense Secretary, and why Obama will go nuclear to get him confirmed: Hagel is the only person alive now dumb enough to deploy US “peacekeeping” troops to what is surely a "West Bank" deathtrap.

 

Sleepy Chuck Hagel Has Some Bigger Questions to Answer: Jeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg, Jan 31, 2013During the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, I interviewed then-Senator Barack Obama on the subject of the Middle East. Much of our discussion was pro forma — he was trying to convince certain hawkish elements of the American Jewish community that he wasn’t Yasser Arafat in mufti — and so he expressed, at some length, his appreciation for Israel as a haven for Jews and as a friend of the U.S.

 

Kerry, Hagel & ’Nam: The Dog That Didn’t Bark: Seth Lipsky, New York Post, Feb. 22, 2013Call it the dog that didn’t bark. Both John Kerry, the new secretary of state, and Chuck Hagel, the defense secretary-designate, are Vietnam veterans. Both turned bitterly against the war — and that view plainly informs the sensibilities that have guided them ever since.

 

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CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Ber Lazarus, Publications Editor, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

IRANIAN NUCLEAR: U.S. WEAKNESS EMBOLDENS TEHERAN, DESPITE ITS INTERNAL DIVISIONS—NORTH KOREAN BOMB AS MODEL

Download Today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

 

Contents:                          

 

(Please Note: articles may have been shortened in the interest of space. Please click link for the complete article – Ed.)

 

 

Iran Can’t Agree to a Damn Thing: Patrick Clawson, Foreign Policy, Feb. 20, 2013During the chaotic days of Iran's Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the country's emerging "supreme leader," assured Iranians that their supposed oppressor, the United States, would not be able to put the hated shah back on his throne.

 

The US and Iran: Pre-Negotiation Maneuvering: Prof. Eytan Gilboa, BESA Center, Feb. 19, 2013The United States and Iran are exchanging tough messages on possible negotiations towards a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear weapons crisis. Both sides are presenting conditions for direct negotiations, which would be the first of their kind.

U.S. Weakness Provokes N. Korea and Iran: Max Boot, Commentary, Feb.12, 2013So much for the exaggerated hopes of those that believed Kim Jong-un would turn out to be a different kind of dictator. Following a long-range rocket test in December, North Korea has now apparently tested a nuclear weapon bigger than any it has tested before.

On Topic Links

 

 

Spy Fail: Why Iran is Losing Its Covert War with Israel: Karl Vick, Time World, Feb. 13, 2013
The Collapse of Iran's RialSteven Plaut, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 21, 2013
North Korea Shows Dangers of Half-Deal with Iran: Gary Milhollin, Bloomberg, Feb 24, 2013

Iran's Shrewd Move: Michael Makovsky and Blaise Misztal: Weekly Standard, Feb 22, 2013

Are Iran Sanctions Working?: Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations, Feb. 21, 2013

 

 

 

 

IRAN CAN’T AGREE TO A DAMN THING

Patrick Clawson

Foreign Policy, Feb. 20, 2013

 

During the chaotic days of Iran's Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the country's emerging "supreme leader," assured Iranians that their supposed oppressor, the United States, would not be able to put the hated shah back on his throne. "America can't do a damn thing against us," he inveighed, a winning line that became the uprising's unofficial slogan. It's a catchphrase Iran has deployed time and again since….

 

Khomeini's slogan was true enough at the time: There wasn't much U.S. President Jimmy Carter could do to intervene in one of the most stunning uprisings in history. But today, when it comes to Iran's endless nuclear impasse with the West, one might turn the phrase back on the Iranians: The problem, in a nutshell, is that Iran can't agree to a damn thing.

 

Indeed, the slow pace of nuclear negotiations with Iran are only the beginning of the reasons to be discouraged about resolution of the standoff. More worrying is that political infighting in Tehran is so bad that Iran might not be able to bring itself to accept unilateral U.S. unconditional surrender were it to be offered. To be sure, eight months between negotiating sessions — June 18-19, 2012 in Moscow, followed by the upcoming session slated for Feb. 26 in Almaty, Kazakhstan — is bad news enough. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hit the nail on the head when he warned last week, "We should not give much more time to the Iranians, and we should not waste time. We have seen what happened with [North Korea]. It ended up that they [were] secretly, quietly, without any obligations, without any pressure, making progress" on nuclear weapons.

 

But the pace of talks is only the beginning of the problem. More important is the political meltdown among the Islamic Republic's leaders. Their problems should help put ours in perspective. Many Americans think Washington faces gridlock from hyper-partisan politics, though in fact Iran is an exception to that rule. Bills about Iran's nuclear program typically enjoy stunning levels of support — 100 to 0 in the Senate in the December 2011 round of sanctions. In the November 2012 vote on another sanctions round, several senators were absent, so the vote was a cliffhanger 94 to 0.

 

By contrast, Iranian leaders fight about everything, even where vital national security interests are at stake. In many respects, a divided Iran is nothing new. The Islamic Republic has from its beginning been characterized by sharp internal divisions. And that has long influenced debate about policy toward the United States. For at least 20 years, the rule in Iran has been: Whoever is out of power wants talks with the United States, which they know would be popular, while whoever is in power moves haltingly if at all toward talks. Several times, those on the outs became the ins and then quickly shifted position on relations with Washington. When Mohammad Khatami was running for president in 1997, he was all in favor of talks with the Great Satan, but then once in power, he did little if anything and refused to speak clearly on the issue. And so too with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: When he was riding high, he only had disdain for the United States, but as he got into trouble at home, he called for talks with Washington.
 

But now, the situation is much worse than before. It used to be that once Khomeini's successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, spoke, that ended the debate, but no longer. Khamenei no longer enjoys the respect nor commands the power to stop the infighting. No matter how often or bluntly he rejects the idea of negotiations with the United States, other important officials — most loudly and frequently, Ahmadinejad — call for such talks.

 

Khamenei couches his call for obedience as a need for unity and vigilance in the face of the enemy. A typical speech on January 29 warned, "Today the world of Islam is faced with the plot of enemies… We should not fuel the fire of discord by arousing shallow and vulgar feelings. This will burn the fate of nations. It will completely destroy them. It will help the enemies of Islam." Consistent with his longstanding reluctance to publicly weigh in directly on political disputes, Khamenei has usually confined himself to elliptical criticisms, such as his warning in a Feb. 7 speech to Air Force commanders, "The improper conduct which is witnessed in certain areas from certain government officials — they should end this." He concluded with another strong call for unity.

 

Admonished by the supreme leader to close ranks, Iranian leaders promptly put on a full display of their bitter enmity. The Majlis, Iran's legislature, called in for questioning Labor Minister Reza Shaikholsislami, a close ally of Ahmadinejad. In response, the Iranian president went to the Majlis for the Feb. 3 debate and insisted on accusing Speaker Ali Larijani and his family (including his brother Sadegh Larijani, head of the judiciary) of corruption, playing a recording he claimed supported the charge. Ruled out of order, Ahmadinejad stormed out. The Majlis then voted Shaikholislami dismissed by a vote of 192 to 56; Ahmadinejad promptly added him to his official delegation leaving for Egypt. Five days after the Majlis brawl, 100 Ahmadinejad supporters pelted Ali Larijani with shoes, disrupting a speech he was trying to give in Qom.

 

Khamenei was clearly appalled that neither his public admonitions nor his reported firm private orders had been enough to stop the feuding. So he lit into the two sides in a Feb. 16 address, saying, "What is the reason behind impeaching a minister a few months before the end of the life of the government, for a reason that had nothing to do with that minister? … The head of one branch of power [Ahmadinejad] accused the two other branches of power based on a charge that was not raised or proved in a court…Such acts are against the sharia as well as the law and ethics." Turning to the disputes about corruption, he added, "I expect the officials to enhance their friendship at this time that enemies have intensified their [hostile] behavior. Be together more than before. Control your wild sentiments." He warned that if they did not follow his counsel, there would be grave consequences.

 

Khamenei was ignored again. Two days after this speech, the Supreme Court — largely controlled by Sadeq Larijani — upheld four death sentences against close Ahmadinejad allies in a high-profile corruption case. Neither the president nor his equally conservative, hard-line opponents seem to fear Khamenei or much respect his authority anymore.

 

By their actions, Iranian leaders are giving the strong impression that they are so preoccupied by their internal differences that they cannot agree on, well, a damn thing. Disunity helps the enemy, Khamenei frequently says. But the world powers negotiating with Iran would be glad to see more unity in Tehran, because a more unified Iranian government would be better able to reach a deal and then implement it. That seems less and less likely. The time is rapidly approaching when the big powers, or at least the United States, need to set out a stark choice for Iran's leaders: Either accept a generous offer to resolve the nuclear impasse or be prepared for the consequences.

Top of Page

 

 

 

THE US AND IRAN: PRE-NEGOTIATION MANEUVERING

Prof. Eytan Gilboa

BESA Center, Feb. 19, 2013
 

The United States and Iran are exchanging tough messages on possible negotiations towards a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear weapons crisis. Both sides are presenting conditions for direct negotiations, which would be the first of their kind. In international relations theory this phenomenon is called “pre-negotiation.” During this phase the sides calculate the benefits and drawbacks of the negotiating process itself and of a possible agreement.

They present tough opening positions which they know the other side can’t accept, and they attempt to obtain concessions from the other side just for agreeing to negotiate. This has been the negotiating style of both the Palestinians and the Iranians. It seems that the West in general and the United States in particular don’t know how to effectively handle this style.

 

During a February 2013 international security conference in Munich, American Vice President Joe Biden said that there “is still time…[and] space for diplomacy backed by pressure to succeed. The ball is in the government of Iran’s court.” He added that the discussions would be held on condition of a “real and tangible” Iranian offer. Biden hinted that the atmosphere surrounding previous negotiations was not serious, because Iran was not ready to make a single compromise; its sole purpose was to buy time and advance its drive to the nuclear bomb in the interim.

His message was clear: the United States will not agree to such negotiations, and will not remove sanctions merely in exchange for Iran’s entrance into deliberations. In his 2013 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama called upon Iranian leaders to “recognize that now is the time for a diplomatic solution, because a coalition stands united in demanding that they meet their obligations.” He concluded that the United States “will do what is necessary to prevent [Iran] from getting a nuclear weapon.”

 

The Iranian reply was immediate. The two Iranian leaders – the spiritual and more significant leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; and the political leader, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – responded negatively and conditionally to Biden’s invitation. We are ready for negotiations, they said, but only if the United Sates and the West announce support for Iran’s right to a nuclear program, and on condition that the heavy sanctions against Iran are removed. It is obvious that the United States can’t accept these demands, because the sanctions’ removal would eliminate any chance, remote as they are, to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program. The sanctions and the heavy damage they have inflicted on the Iranian economy pushed the Iranian leaders to seek negotiations, and suspending them now will eliminate any incentive they may have to compromise.

 

It is very possible that the tough stance of the Iranian leadership stems from its perception of the new senior appointments of the Obama Administration in foreign and national security affairs: John Kerry as Secretary of State and Chuck Hagel as the nominated Secretary of Defense. Both men are veterans of the Vietnam War and are almost fundamentally opposed to using any type of force to bring results. In the past, Hagel even opposed sanctions and claimed that it is impossible to halt the Iranian nuclear program. In his Senate testimony he also made an embarrassing statement by characterizing the Iranian regime as “legitimate.”

 

The Iranian leaders interpreted these appointments, as well as Obama’s and Biden’s invitation to open talks, as signs of weakness to be exploited for advancing their nuclear weapons program and for setting tough conditions for negotiations. The Iranian leaders have also closely observed the North Korean defiance of the United States and the Western pressure to stop the testing of nuclear weapons and long range missiles, and could have concluded that the US warnings and intimidations are not credible….

 

The current stalemate threatens to cripple Obama’s Iranian strategy. He planned heavy sanctions that he hoped would soften the Iranian position and bring them to negotiations and direct discussions with a good chance to stop the bomb. It is apparent that the goals of the two sides contradict each other: America wants Iran to stop enriching its uranium, while Iran wants to end the sanctions. The Iranians know how to conduct negotiations much better than the Americans; they have thousands of years of experience in bazaar-like bargaining. Thus, if the United States and Iran reach an agreement to begin direct negotiations, the ultimate results may be favourable to the Iranians. The American desire to avoid the military option almost at any cost may produce a vague agreement which will still enable Iran to clandestinely continue developing nuclear weapons. If no direct negotiations are held, or if they are held but fail to stop Iran from continuing to develop nuclear weapons, and if Obama stands by his commitments to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb – the Administration may have no choice but to use military force…..

 

Prof. Eytan Gilboa is Director of the School of Communication and Director of the Center for International Communication, both at Bar-Ilan University, and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

 

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U.S. WEAKNESS PROVOKES N. KOREA AND IRAN
Max Boot

Commentary, Feb.12, 2013
 

So much for the exaggerated hopes of those that believed Kim Jong-un would turn out to be a different kind of dictator. Following a long-range rocket test in December, North Korea has now apparently tested a nuclear weapon bigger than any it has tested before. This, despite warnings not only from South Korea, Japan, and the United States, but also from China, not to test. Far from being the reformer as many naively imagined, Kim is showing himself a chip off the old dynastic bloc, once again using North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction to posture before the world and no doubt to shake concessions out of the U.S., South Korea, and other states.

 

What makes this test truly disturbing is the close cooperation that is known to exist between Iran and North Korea in the development of ever-more destructive weaponry. The two countries have worked closely together on missiles and may well be working together on nuclear weapons. If so, the North Korean test is an indication of growing danger not only in Northeast Asia but also in the Middle East.

 

And what is the American response to this latest provocation? To his credit, President Obama has not repeated the pattern of his predecessors in trying to shower North Korea with aid to get it to desist from its dangerous behavior—a pattern that only subsidized North Korean malfeasance. Rather than trying to relaunch stalled six-party talks, he has actually pushed for the toughest sanctions yet on North Korea although their ability to actually coerce Pyongyang is limited as long as China refuses to cut off economic aid.

 

But these tough responses are undermined to a large extent by the symbolism of Obama proposing steep cuts in the American nuclear arsenal—from 1,700 to 1,000 warheads—in the State of the Union address on the very day when North Korea is testing a nuke and Iran is drawing closer to acquiring its own nukes. It is hard to know why the president imagines unilateral American cuts will encourage more responsible behavior from the likes of Iran and North Korea. The more likely consequence is to call into question America’s deterrent capacity, an especially pressing issue if, as Bret Stephens argues in this Wall Street Journal column, China’s nuclear arsenal is actually larger than commonly supposed.

 

With the danger growing from both Iran and North Korea it is all the more incumbent on the US to reassure regional allies—from Saudi Arabia to South Korea–that they will be sheltered securely underneath the American nuclear umbrella. If we cut our own nuclear forces drastically, the credibility of our guarantees diminishes and the likelihood goes up that our allies will seek nuclear weapons of their own, potentially setting off two nuclear arms races.

 

Of course it is not just in the nuclear realm that the US is undertaking defense cuts. Our overall military budget is to undergo drastic cuts within weeks assuming that the Congress and White House do not reach an agreement to turn off the sequester. Already the military services are cutting back on readiness and training. The Navy, for one, has announced that the Persian Gulf area will for the time being have only one aircraft carrier battle group on station, rather than two.

 

It is hard to think of a more threatening prospect than unilateral American military reductions at a time when our enemies our growing stronger. Weakness, it is often said, is provocative. By that measure we are provoking two of the most dangerous rogue states in the world.

 

Top of Page

 

 

 

 

Spy Fail: Why Iran is Losing Its Covert War with Israel: Karl Vick, Time World, Feb. 13, 2013Slumped in a Nairobi courtroom, suit coats rumpled and reading glasses dangling from librarian chains, the defendants made a poor showing for the notorious Quds Force of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

 

The Collapse of Iran's RialSteven Plaut, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 21, 2013The Iranian economy has been imploding, at times even nudging news of Iran's nuclear program off of the front pages. In the first ten months of 2012, the Iranian currency, the rial, lost more than 80% of its exchange value. In a single day, on October 1, 2012, it dropped by 15%, and, after a brief reprieve, resumed its trend downwards in early 2013. At least one commentator has compared Iran's economic meltdown with that in Zimbabwe.

 

North Korea Shows Dangers of Half-Deal with Iran: Gary Milhollin, Bloomberg, Feb 24, 2013Negotiators from the world’s major powers sit down with Iran this week for more talks on its nuclear program, just weeks after North Korea tested another nuclear weapon. If the connection between these two events isn’t obvious, it should be: North Korea’s nuclear saga is a cautionary tale for anyone attempting to bargain with the Islamic Republic.

Iran's Shrewd Move: Michael Makovsky and Blaise Misztal: Weekly Standard, Feb 22, 2013With the next round of international talks on Iran’s nuclear program scheduled for February 26, the United States needs to understand Iran’s negotiating strategy. Recent Iranian tactics suggest a seemingly contradictory approach: simultaneously slowing down and speeding up their nuclear program. But by buying time now, Iran is shrewdly seeking to evade international pressure while hastening its advance to nuclear weapons capability.

 

Are Iran Sanctions Working?: Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations, Feb. 21, 2013It’s a commonplace to say that sanctions against Iran are tighter than ever and are working. Here’s an example from White House spokesman Jay Carney last Fall: ”We have diplomatic isolation and international isolation that’s unprecedented in history and it’s having a profound impact on both the Iranian economy and the Iranian regime’s internal political structure.”

 

 

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Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
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CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Ber Lazarus, Publications Editor, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

POURIME, LA SAISON DES MIRACLES

 

 

 

Pourime, Suze et Jérusalem

Julien Bauer

Sept années à Jérusalem, Éditions du Marais, Montréal, 2012, p. 95

 

Pour visionner le texte, veuillez accéder le lien ci-dessous:

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Israël, puissance gazière : le miracle et l'ironie

Sébastien Castellion

menapress.org, 18 février 2013

 

 

Dans environ deux mois (la date précise n'a pas encore été rendue publique) se produira un événement qui marquera le début d'une ère nouvelle pour l'économie israélienne : le site de production de gaz naturel Tamar, situé à 80 kilomètres au large de Haïfa, commencera ses premières livraisons commerciales à la Hevrat haHachmal, la compagnie israélienne d'électricité.

 

Tamar a été construit durant les quatre dernières années, pour un coût d'environ 3 milliards de dollars, après la découverte des réserves de gaz par le consortium israélo-américain (Noble Energy, Isramco, Delek Drilling, Avner Exploration), le 17 janvier 2009. Il contient cinq puits, qu'un pipe-line sous-marin de 150 kilomètres relie à une station de traitement située au large d'Ashkelon.

 

Au moment de sa découverte, Tamar était le plus gros champ gazier ou pétrolier jamais identifié dans la région du Levant. Dix-huit mois plus tard, cependant, des réserves encore plus abondantes étaient trouvées par le même groupe d'investisseurs dans les eaux territoriales israéliennes, non loin des eaux cypriotes. Les ressources de ce deuxième projet, baptisé Léviathan, sont estimées à 470 milliards de mètres cubes de gaz naturel. Les premières livraisons sont attendues pour 2015.

 

Au total, les ressources identifiées dans les eaux israéliennes sont largement suffisantes pour assurer l'indépendance énergétique du pays pour les 20 à 25 prochaines années. Ce n'est probablement qu'un début : les découvertes qui restent à faire pourraient, si l'on en croit les expériences précédentes, multiplier ce résultat par trois ou quatre. Ces chiffres laissent encore de la place pour qu'Israël puisse se positionner comme exportateur.

 

Le développement du gaz israélien arrive à point nommé après la rupture, suite au "Printemps arabe", des approvisionnements qui représentaient traditionnellement l'essentiel des besoins d'Israël et de la Jordanie : les livraisons de gaz égyptien par le pipe-line du Sinaï. Victime d'attentats répétés après la chute du régime de Moubarak, ce pipe-line n'assure plus la sécurité énergétique d'Israël, qui, depuis deux ans, a dû jongler avec ses réserves stratégiques et avec des livraisons ad hoc pour satisfaire les besoins en énergie de son économie et de son armée.

 

Naturellement, cette bonne nouvelle pour Israël ne concerne pas seulement l'économie. Les questions énergétiques ont toujours une influence géopolitique, même dans les régions du monde les plus paisibles – et à plus forte raison au Moyen-Orient. Au total, la découverte d'importantes réserves de gaz ne peut que renforcer la position d'Israël dans la région. Cependant, la question des exportations futures et des relations énergétiques avec les voisins d'Israël reste à résoudre. De plus, le pays devra éviter la "malédiction de la richesse" ; nous reviendrons sur ce risque en détail par la suite.

 

Du point de vue géopolitique, les nouvelles ressources gazières d'Israël ont fait plus que renforcer son indépendance énergétique. Elles pourraient fonder les bases d'une alliance durable du pays avec Chypre – et, au-delà, avec la Grèce et les autres pays de l'Union Européenne, comme la Bulgarie, qui se méfient de l'influence turque.

 

Léviathan est en effet le gisement jumeau – par la géographie et par l'existence d'investisseurs communs – d'un forage situé dans les eaux cypriotes mais à proximité immédiate des eaux israéliennes, Aphrodite.

 

Or, la Turquie cherche à empêcher le développement d'Aphrodite (elle revendique le gisement pour la fictive "République turque de Chypre du Nord", inventée pour donner une forme légale à l'occupation d'une partie de l'île par l'Armée turque) – ou du moins à obtenir pour elle-même, par l'intermédiaire des "Nord-Cypriotes", une partie du gâteau.

 

En 2011, la Turquie a envoyé un navire et des avions militaires dans la région d'Aphrodite pour affirmer ses prétentions. Son objectif principal était d'intimider les investisseurs éventuels et d'empêcher, faute d'argent, le développement du gisement – à moins que Chypre accepte de payer tribut aux Turcs en leur reversant une partie des produits futurs.

 

Il y eut, à l'époque, des informations selon lesquels le navire turc dépêché en eaux cypriotes avait été approché d'un peu trop près pour son propre confort par des avions israéliens ; cependant, cette information n'a jamais été confirmée par Israël ni par Chypre et on ne peut pas la considérer comme établie. En revanche, aucune nouvelle approche turque n'a eu lieu depuis lors.

 

Si Israël montre assez clairement, dans ce jeu politico-militaire de "gesticulations", dans lequel on envoie des forces suffisamment en vue pour faire passer son message, mais en principe sans tirer, qu'elle est prête à défendre le développement cypriote en cas de besoin, la Turquie n'aura pas d'autre solution que de reculer.

 

Dans l'intervalle, des discussions sont en cours entre Chypre – soutenue par la Grèce – et Israël pour construire un gazoduc qui permettrait de vendre en Europe, non seulement le gaz d'Aphrodite, mais aussi une partie de celui de Léviathan.

 

Les discussions sur ce gazoduc (qui pourrait être complété par une installation de liquéfaction de gaz à Chypre) se poursuivent lentement, comme toute discussion portant sur des investissements aussi lourds : Chypre n'a pas les ressources financières nécessaires et doit introduire des investisseurs étrangers, qui sont naturellement prudents vu la situation sécuritaire complexe dans la région.

 

En Israël même, l'idée de dépendre, pour les revenus futurs, d'installations situées à l'étranger ne fait pas l'unanimité. Cependant, là aussi, les développements gaziers à venir dépendront de l'apport d'investisseurs extérieurs. Ceux-ci ne mettront pas autant d'argent sur la table si la production israélienne est réservée au marché domestique, qu'ils ne le feront si des exportations sont prévues.

 

La compagnie d'Etat israélienne, qui gère les gazoducs, a annoncé, la semaine dernière, qu'elle chercherait à lever 1 milliard de dollars sur les marchés d'ici 2015 : or, l'argent ne viendra que si les investisseurs ont une idée claire de l'origine des revenus futurs.

 

Chypre et la Grèce représentent la solution la plus crédible pour assurer ces revenus. L'autre voie d'export en principe ouverte à Israël – vers les pays arabes non gaziers qui l'environnent – est politiquement fermée pour ce qui concerne le Liban et la Syrie. La Jordanie pourrait, en revanche, devenir un client, mais elle n'est pas un marché suffisamment important pour attirer les investisseurs.

 

Dans la reconfiguration régionale des intérêts qui est en train de se jouer en prévision des premières productions de gaz israélien, le grand perdant – à part la Turquie qui a choisi une tactique de confrontation vouée à l'échec – est le Liban.

 

Immédiatement après la découverte de Tamar, en 2009, le Hezbollah, maître du pays, avait prétendu que les ressources se trouvaient dans les eaux libanaises et menacé Israël d'attaquer le projet si elle en poursuivait le développement. Comme cette menace ne s'appuyait sur aucune capacité d'action (le Hezb n'a pas de moyens de frappe en mer), la seule réaction des observateurs fut de signaler qu'il était amusant de voir, pour une fois, le Hezb promettre "de jeter les Juifs hors de la mer".

 

Le Liban, depuis lors, a reculé sans fanfare par rapport aux prétentions du Hezbollah et reconnu, dans un rapport aux Nations Unies de 2010, que Tamar ne se situe pas dans les eaux libanaises. Le Liban a ajouté que d'autres réserves pourraient se situer dans ses eaux – ce qui est parfaitement exact, mais les investisseurs ne vont sans doute pas se bousculer pour développer ces ressources, aussi longtemps qu'ils risquent les exactions du Hezbollah. La situation est la même (en remplaçant "Hezbollah" par "Hamas") pour les gisements dont l'existence a été confirmée au large de Gaza.

 

A plus long terme, Israël devra prendre garde à éviter la "malédiction de la richesse", qui a conduit trop de pays devenus soudainement riches en ressources naturelles à porter plus d'attention à l'emploi de leur nouvelle fortune qu'aux facteurs de croissance plus durables : le développement des compétences, la qualité des travailleurs et la sécurité des investissements.

 

 

La fin d’un ordre colonial

Christophe Ayad

Le Monde, 15 février 2013

 

Les révolutions arabes déclenchées en 2011 sont des processus historiques dont nous sommes loin de mesurer la portée et les conséquences. L’une d’entre elles pourrait bien être la mise à bas de l’ordre dessiné il y a bientôt un siècle, le 16 mai 1916, par les accords Sykes-Picot. Signés dans le plus grand secret à Londres, par les plénipotentiaires britannique (Mark Sykes) et français (François Georges-Picot), ces textes assortis de cartes établissaient un partage du Proche-Orient post-ottoman, attribuant des sphères d’influence à la France et au Royaume-Uni mais aussi dessinant les frontières des futurs Etats de la région.

 

Cet ordre colonial a perduré au Proche-Orient après les indépendances qui ont suivi la seconde guerre mondiale. Il a en effet été repris à leur compte par les élites militaires nationalistes qui se sont emparées du pouvoir un peu partout dans la région. Tout en revendiquant un idéal panarabe, Saddam Hussein en Irak et Hafez Al-Assad en Syrie ont été les gardiens jaloux des frontières dessinées par les colonisateurs, pourtant vilipendés pour avoir dépecé la grande nation arabe. Les dictatures bassistes, qui occupaient les deux pays clés du Machrek, n’ont cessé de cultiver leur « nationalisme national », renforçant les identités de pays aux frontières arbitraires.

 

Les accords Sykes-Picot ont en effet tranché dans la délicate marqueterie ethnique et confessionnelle du Proche-Orient, créant un Liban séparé de la Syrie pour complaire aux Français, éparpillant les Kurdes sur quatre Etats, dont deux arabes, l’Irak et la Syrie, en plus de la Turquie et de l’Iran. De même Mossoul, sunnite et chrétienne, s’est retrouvée séparée de sa « soeur » syrienne Alep. Des grandes confédérations tribales, comme les Chammakh, vivent à cheval sur quatre Etats : l’Arabie saoudite, la Jordanie, l’Irak et la Syrie. D’autres arrangements ont rejeté une partie des Alaouites syriens en Turquie avec le rattachement à Ankara du sandjak d’Alexandrette.

 

Mais cette matrice, reprise à leur compte par les pouvoirs qui ont dirigé après les indépendances, est en train de voler en éclats. L’ébranlement du Proche-Orient de Sykes-Picot a commencé en 2003 avec l’invasion de l’Irak par les Etats-Unis. Cet événement majeur a jeté à bas et rebâti l’un des Etats les plus forts, jacobins et centralisateurs de la région : l’Irak de Saddam Hussein était un mélange de descendant de la civilisation hydraulique de l’ancienne Mésopotamie et de férule sunnito-baasiste. Les idéologues néoconservateurs, qui avaient ourdi à Washington l’invasion et la reconstruction, ont voulu en faire un Etat faible, fédéral et fondé sur une logique ethnico-confessionnelle. Ce projet, établi sur un mélange de militantisme néolibéral et d’a priori coloniaux, avait pour but d’en finir avec le vieux nationalisme arabe, désigné comme la source de tous les maux régionaux, à commencer par l’hostilité radicale à Israël.

 

Mais dans un pays fragile et meurtri comme l’Irak, la mise en concurrence des ethnies et des confessions a ouvert la boîte de Pandore des rivalités entre Kurdes et Arabes, entre chiites et sunnites. L’Irak, en proie à des forces centrifuges d’une extraordinaire puissance, est devenu – et reste à ce jour – le terrain de jeu des ambitions et ingérences régionales. Chacun (Turquie, Iran, Arabie saoudite) y pousse ses pions, à travers ses clients ou ses agents d’influence.

 

L’avènement des révolutions arabes, en affaiblissant les Etats et leurs appareils de coercition, a fait ressurgir des solidarités, des voies d’échange (de personnes et de marchandises) et des identités anciennes. Il suffit de voir comment le conflit syrien étend profondément ses ramifications dans les sociétés libanaise, turque et irakienne. Ainsi, les réseaux tribaux des Chammakh, auxquels appartient le roi Abdallah d’Arabie saoudite, ont été mis à contribution par Riyad pour armer les rebelles de l’est syrien, dans la région de Deir ez-Zor.

 

A la faveur du conflit syrien, les Kurdes de Syrie ont gagné une autonomie, qui vient s’ajouter à la quasi-indépendance des Kurdes d’Irak, et qui ne manquera pas d’avoir des répercussions régionales, même si pour l’instant les divisions interkurdes empêchent l’émergence d’un front commun. Les Alaouites du sud de la Turquie et de Tripoli au Liban se sentent menacés par la probable chute d’un régime étranger. Tandis que sunnites libanais et irakiens y voient une revanche sur leur propre impuissance politique.

Même hors du coeur du Levant, en Libye notamment, la disparition de l’Etat Kadhafi a réveillé les régionalismes toubou et touareg dans le Grand Sud, tandis que la tentation autonomiste de Benghazi – plus proche d’Alexandrie que de Tripoli – n’a jamais été aussi forte. Si le mouvement devait se poursuivre, il affecterait à coup sûr les pays du Golfe, où d’importantes minorités chiites vivent dans la discrimination à Bahreïn, en Arabie saoudite et au Koweït.

Ce grand chambardement entraînera-t-il une révision des frontières héritées de la colonisation ? C’est peu probable, tant le tabou est grand au niveau international, surtout dans la région du monde qui compte les plus importantes réserves d’hydrocarbures. Mais rien ne sera plus comme auparavant non plus. Des grandes compagnies multinationales l’ont compris, comme ExxonMobil, Total ou Chevron, qui traitent désormais directement avec l’entité kurde d’Irak, sans même prendre la peine d’en aviser Bagdad. Les chancelleries occidentales semblent, elles, plus lentes à envisager l’écroulement du monde qu’elles avaient bâti pendant la première guerre mondiale.

 

 

L’Europe et le « Parti d’Allah »

Freddy Eytan

Le CAPE Jérusalem, 13 février 2013

 

Le Hezbollah a été créé en 1982 juste après la Première guerre du Liban. Plus de cinq mille Iraniens membres des « Gardiens de la révolution » se sont installés dans la région de Baalbek au Liban pour « remporter la victoire d’Allah ». L’idéologie est claire : la révolution islamique devrait s’installer dans tout le Moyen-Orient balayant ainsi les monarchies arabes et chassant les Sionistes de toute la Palestine et notamment de Jérusalem !

 

Pour aboutir à son objectif, le Hezbollah emploie des méthodes de terreur et de terrorisme contre des cibles occidentales, israéliennes et juives. Depuis 1983, le Hezbollah a enregistré des dizaines d’attentats spectaculaires, des prises d’otages et des missions suicides à travers toute la planète.

 

Rappelons pour mémoire : le 8 avril 1983, l’explosion d’une voiture piégée devant l’ambassade des Etats-Unis à Beyrouth, 61 morts et 120 blessés. Le 23 octobre 1983, explosions de deux voitures piégées dans les casernes des soldats français et américains à Beyrouth. 239 Marines et 74 parachutistes français sont tués et des dizaines d’autres blessés ! Le 17 mars 1992, l’explosion de l’ambassade d’Israël à Buenos-Aires fait 29 victimes et plus de deux cents blessés. Et deux ans plus tard, toujours dans la capitale argentine, une nouvelle explosion contre le centre communautaire juif tuant 85 civils et blessant plus d’une centaine. Et enfin, sans évoquer l’attentat contre l’ancien Premier ministre libanais Rafic Hariri par le Hezbollah, rappelons l’attentat meurtrier à Burgas, en Bulgarie, contre des touristes israéliens (6 morts et une trentaine de blessés).

 

Ces deux dernières années le Hezbollah a planifié de nouveaux attentats et grâce à la vigilance des services de renseignements ils ont tous été déjoués.

 

Cette liste d’attentats n’est que partielle et pourtant certains pays européens dont la France hésitent toujours à désigner le Hezbollah « organisation terroriste ». Cette valse hésitation dépasse largement l’entendement ! Toutes les questions juridiques ou politiques soulevées par les Européens ne sont que prétextes ! Voilà plus de trois décennies que le Hezbollah est une organisation terroriste « par excellence » et l’Europe fait la sourde oreille. Actuellement, seuls l’Amérique, l’Australie et Israël affirment sans ambages cette vérité toute simple. Cependant, les Pays-Bas ont agi seul dans ce sens et la Grande- Bretagne considère que seule « la branche militaire » du Hezbollah est terroriste. En février 2005, suite à l’attentat contre Rafic Hariri, le Parlement européen a voté une résolution indiquant qu’« une preuve claire existe sur les activités terroristes du Hezbollah ». Et pourtant, concernant l’attentat de Burgas, la France rejette une requête israélienne et refuse de voter au Parlement une résolution désignant le Hezbollah organisation terroriste.

 

Nous constatons donc que l’Union européenne demeure divisée sur une question si grave au moment même où la France combat au Mali contre des organisations terroristes. Pourquoi ne pas appeler un chat un chat et également le Hezbollah chiite libanais, financé et entraîné par l’Iran : « organisation terroriste » ? Pourquoi toujours distinguer la soit- disant branche politique de la branche militaire, ne s’agit-il pas de la même organisation, du même commandement militaire ? Comment ignorer le chaos en Syrie et les milliers de milices iraniennes soutenant le régime de Bechar Assad et installées à nos frontières ? Par sa position passive l’Europe a-t-elle réussi à réduire les attentats commis par des chiites en soutanes ? L’Union européenne a-t-elle évité de nouvelles prises d’otages ? A-t-elle réussi à arrêter les révolutions islamiques suite au « Printemps arabe » ? A-t-elle sauvegardé l’indépendance et la souveraineté du Liban ? La FINUL au Sud Liban a-t-elle joué un rôle efficace contre la contrebande d’armes et les missiles déposés sous leur nez dans les villages chiites ?

 

L’Europe devrait donc sortir de sa torpeur, changer de cap, et prendre une décision audacieuse  et non mercantile. Le Hezbollah devrait être mis au ban des nations. Les banques européennes devraient geler tous les avoirs et tout financement iranien au Hezbollah, sinon c’est bien l’Europe qui deviendra la plaque tournante du terrorisme international, cette terreur religieuse aveugle et meurtrière orchestrée par « le Parti d’Allah »

 

 

PURIMSPIEL 5773

Download Today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

 

Contents:                          

(Please Note: articles may have been shortened in the interest of space. Please click link for the complete article – Ed.)

 

Purim 5773: Baruch Cohen, CIJR, Feb. 22, 2013The festival of Purim first appears in historical sources from the 2nd Century B.C.E – it was a significant time. Judah the Maccabee won his first great victory over the Syrian general Nicanor on the 13th – 14th of Adar in the year 161 B.C.E, during the time of year that had been declared a holiday: Purim.

 

Jewish Riots Erupt Following Netanyahu Cartoon – Not: Adam Chandler, Tablet, January 29, 2013In the wake of a controversial cartoon published in the Sunday Times of London, massive crowds of angry Jewish protestors gathered in Hyde Park yesterday and, whipped into a fervor by local rabbis, took to the streets of London.

 

PURIM SHORT FAKES & QUIRKY QUOTES

 

Uncertain World: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 21, 2013—Megilat Esther is a book of contradictions, filled with events that are unreasonable, coincidental, seemingly pure chance. At one moment, Jews live in security in Persia; the next, they face destruction. Mordechai is threatened with execution; then, suddenly, he becomes prime minister. Irrational events and moods transform fear into festivity. “Venahafoch hu” – everything gets turned upside down and backward.

 

On Topic Links

 

Not a Coincidence: Shmuel Rabinowitz, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 21, 2013

Megila Millennium: Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 21, 2013
Judaism: Drinking on Purim: When Ignorance is Bliss: Rabbi Eliyahu Safran, Arutz Sheva, Feb. 22, 2013

PURIM 5773

Baruch Cohen
CIJR, Feb. 22, 2013
 

In loving memory of Beloved Malca, ז״ל

 

“Should all festivals be abolished,  Purim will remain” Tefilot Mikol HaShana – D.W. Libshitz

 

The festival of Purim first appears in historical sources from the second Century B.C.E – it was a significant time. Judah the Maccabee won his first great victory over the Syrian general Nicanor on the 13th – 14th of Adar in the year 161 B.C.E, the time of year that has been declared a holiday: Purim.

 

Today’s Amalekim – Ahmadinejad, Hamas, and the like – aim to disrupt Israel’s march through history, and toward its unique destiny – that of being the state for all Jews. The likes of Ahmadinejad, Hamas, and their friends will never reach their goal: Israel will always be victorious. Am Israel Chai

 

The calumny that floated 2500 years ago about Jewish “otherness” (a “certain people”), “a foreign element, “disloyal,” continue unabated to this very day. We experience daily virulent outbreaks of anti-Semitic insults, deeds, over and over again – and this, for centuries.

 

Purim gives us the strength, and  courage to see our darkest times: tikvah, the hope that will see the downfall of all  the Amaleks. The Book of Esther is a book depicting not just one period of Jewish history, but ALL periods. It is a book that will remain forever new. Am Israel Chai!

 

Hag Purim Sameach u’mvadeach! Happy Purim and enjoy yourself!

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

 

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JEWISH RIOTS ERUPT FOLLOWING NETANYAHU CARTOON – NOT

Adam Chandler

Tablet, January 29, 2013

 

In the wake of a controversial cartoon published in the Sunday Times of London, massive crowds of angry Jewish protestors gathered in Hyde Park yesterday and, whipped into a fervor by local rabbis, took to the streets of London.

 

Incited by the inflammatory, blood libel-themed cartoon, which featured a hook-nosed caricature of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall using Palestinian blood as mortar and was released on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the crowds descended on the Harvey Nichols on Sloane Street, where they broke windows and set fire to the Charlie Allen and Ted Baker collections. The mob, unabated, next stormed the Royal Portrait Gallery, tearing down the centuries’ old collection of British kings and queens. “We left the new portrait of Kate Middleton up” said Gerald Stein of Stamford Hill, “it’s offensive enough on its own.”

 

In north London, Jewish football hooligans loyal to the Tottenham Hotspurs assembled their so-called ‘Yid Army’ and looted local pubs, emptying them of their Bass and Boddington kegs before raiding the various fish n’ chip shops across the Haringey borough. As the group laid waste to a biscuit factory, the entirety of old blighty stunk of burning gingerbread. A cloud of soot traveled north, turning the white cliffs of Dover grey. There were also reports that numerous spokes of the London Eye were removed and bent into the shape of a Star of David.

 

Residents of London have been advised to stay in their homes until further notice and all British journalists have been put under police protection. No word yet on the status of London Mayor Boris Johnson, who was thrown into the Tower of London.

 

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PURIM SHORT FAKES & QUIRKY QUOTES

 

   

 

United States Senate Committee on Armed Services
Room 228, Russel Senate Building
Washington DC 20510-6050

 

TRANSCRIPT: Secretary of Defense nominee hearing, January 28, 2013       page 2 of 27
 

Levin: thanks you for joining us this morning, Senator Hagel. Also, Secretary Powell, you were adamant about appearing today with Senator Hagel, so, uh, welcome, I guess.
 

Powell: I certainly was, certainly. Just wanted to be here for moral support, because who couldn’t use some support these days, am I right? Times are tough – not that it’s President Obama’s fault, that’s not – but you know what I mean. So…yeah.

 

Levin: Okay. Now Senator Hagel, our first question comes from Senator Ayotte of New Hampshire.

 

Ayotte: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Senator Hagel, your nomination has faced some pretty vocal opposition from various groups. Would this affect your ability to work on behalf of all Americans?

 

Hagel: Well, it’s pretty apparent that the Jewish lobby

 

Secretary Powell clears his throat loudly.

 

Powell: Uh, excuse me.

 

Hagel: As I was saying, those Jew

 

Secretary Powell clears his throat again, coughs repeatedly, elbows Senator hagel.

 

Hagel: What? Oh, right. The, uh, those groups that support Israel, well, they’re just fine Americans, in my opinion. And I look forward to working with them. And whatnot. Yep.

 

Levin: Moving on, the next question comes form Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut.

 

Hagel: Oh, the Jewish senaOw! Why did you kick me?

 

Powell: Restless Leg Syndrome. Sorry.

Blumenthal: Senator Hagel, the Obama administration has clearly made cutting defense spending a priority in their first term. As defense secretary, will you push back against the administration as Secretary Panetta did on items essential to our defense missions?

Hagel: Well, I generally agree with the administration’s approach. We are in a fiscal crisis, having just ended two wars, so I think it only makes sense to reduce spending in a sensible way. But let me state, unequivocally, that I will not make cuts that will compromise the integrity of our defence capabilities and put the great men and women of our armed services at risk as they protect this great nation.

Powell: Good answer, Chuck.

Hagel: I’m not gonna try and Jew the army out of their funding, is what I’m saying.

Powell: Oh, Christ….

(Weekly Standard, Jan., 28, 2013)

 

MUSLIM SUICIDE BOMBERS SET TO STRIKE OVER VIRGIN BENEFITS(London) Muslim suicide bombers in Britain are set to begin a three-day strike on Monday in a dispute over the number of virgins they are entitled to in the afterlife. Emergency talks with Al Qaeda have so far failed to produce an agreement. The unrest began last Tuesday when Al Qaeda announced that the number of virgins a suicide bomber would receive after his death would be cut by 25% in December from 72 to 54. A spokesman said increases in recent years in the number of suicide bombings has resulted in a shortage of virgins in the afterlife.

The suicide bombers' union, the British Organization of Occupational Martyrs (BOOM) responded with a statement saying the move was unacceptable to its members and called for a strike vote. General Secretary Abdullah Amir told the press, "Our members are literally working themselves to death in the cause of Jihad. We don't ask for much in return but to be treated like this is like a kick in the teeth".

Speaking from his shed in Tipton in the West Midlands, Al Qaeda chief executive Haisheet Mapants explained, "I sympathize with our workers concerns but Al Qaeda is simply not in a position to meet their demands. They are simply not accepting the realities of modern-day Jihad in a competitive marketplace. Thanks to Western depravity, there is now a chronic shortage of virgins in the afterlife. It's a straight choice between reducing expenditures or laying people off. I don't like cutting benefits but I'd hate to have to tell 3,000 of my staff that they won't be able to blow themselves up.” 
 

AYATOLLAH KHAMEINI MARKS PRESIDENT AHMEDINIDJAD FOR THE GALLOWS (Tehran) It has come to light that the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khameini, has made an about-face and condemned President Mahmoud Ajmedinidjad to hang for making incendiary threats against the Jews and for plotting to wipe them off the face of the earth. If reports are correct, this surprising development appears to have been the result of the diligent and dangerous work undertaken by a special female agent of  DOSOOM, Israel’s premier reality spy network. Originally from Persia, the agent, codenamed “Regina-E”, was reportedly able to penetrate to the highest levels of the Iranian power structure as a nanny for Ali Khameini’s children and a confidante to many of his wives. Through his wives the agent was able to convince the Ayatollah that killing the Jews would prevent, rather than encourage, the coming of the Twelfth Imam. People are expected to gather in Tehran from the three corners of Iran for the public execution. (Persian Times, Feb 22, 2013)

QUEBEC LANGUAGE WATCH-DOG ERASES HEBREW NAMES (Montreal, February 22)—The Office de la langue française, Quebec’s language police, has decreed that Montreal synagogues must conform to its unilingual norms by changing all public Hebrew signage and names to French.  Congregation Chevra Kadisha will become Communité Sainte, Congregation Beth Israel Beth Aaron will become Maison d’Israel et d’Aaron, and so on.  Beth Israel Beth Aaron’s revered spiritual leader R.-Dr. Reuben Poupko denounced the decree, threatening to take Quebec’s premier, Pauline Marois,  to a Hasidic Beth Din, or religious court, which could demand that she change her name to  Pnina Bat-Yam. (Montreal Gazoo, 22 February 2013)

 

AHMADINEJAD’S JEWISH ROOTS REVEALED (Baghdad, February 19)—After a scrupulous search of Baghdad’s Genizah documents (originally shredded), Shin Bet sources have revealed that Iranian President Ahmadinejad came from an Iraqi  Jewish family which fled Baghdad for Teheran after the 1939 persecution.  His name, subsequently changed, was actually Meyer Amchadin, and his work as an Israeli mole within Iran’s religio-political elite was hinted at.  (Montreal, Daily Sub-Human, 20 February 2013)

 

$10 MILLION GRANT AWARDED TO CIJR— Mexican Jewish philanthropist Carlos Rafael Brontesoros, in what is regarded as the single largest grant ever to an independent pro-Israel Jewish academic think-tank, said he wanted to right communal wrongs and do justice to North America’s outstanding Canadian Institute for Jewish Research. CIJR Board Chairman Yaakov Artisman, accepting the grant,  noted CIJR would, after 25 years, finally be able to move out of its one-room office in Trois Pistoles, Que. Director Pinchas Wreath, when asked what he would want to do with such a sum, asked whether he could  have “a hot roll, with butter?”.

 

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“After much anguish I have decided to become a Christian, to change my name, and to petition Israel—where I can worship freely and without fear of retribution–for citizenship.”_–Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi, henceforth to be called Hannah Ashwednesday (Al Quds, January 20, 2013)

 

“I come to Israel in a spirit of deep humility and great gratitude,  for the debt I owe Bibi Netanyahu can never be really repaid.”President Barack Hussein Obama, referring to his upcoming March visit to Jerusalem, and to the revelation that his much-disputed birth certificate, found in a Jerusalem archive, was presented to him by the Israeli premier. The certificate indicates he was born not in Hawaii, as initially believed, but in Jerusalem, where his American mother had come to study Kabbalah,   technically making him an Israeli citizen [although American authorities will not allow him to list “Jerusalem” on his new passport].

 

“Oh please, get real! It’s over! And as usual, I take full responsibility. Next question?”—Outgoing Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, testifying at the Senate Foreign Relations Sub-Committee after the second Libyan terrorist attack in late February in Tripoli, where six Americans, including the Ambassador, were taken captive by an Islamic terrorist group.  (Incoming Secretary of State John Kerry, noting that “one must talk with one’s enemies, most of whom are good guys”, said he would go to Tripoli personally “at some point in the future”, to negotiate their release.  Rep. Senator John McCain, looking, as usual, agitated, said something indecipherable, as usual.) (New York Tombs, Feb. 2, 2003)

 

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UNCERTAIN WORLD

David M. Weinberg

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 21, 2013

 

Doesn’t it seem that life lurches from one crisis to the next? Despite all the rules and laws we create to regulate, stabilize and give structure to our lives, you simply never know, especially here in Israel, what’s going to hit next. Our health, happiness and security are subject to whim, miscalculation, passion, the sudden, unforeseen, unexpected and absurd. We’re not really in control.

 

It’s the Itamar murders anniversary, juxtaposed this weekend with Purim, that gets me reflecting on the existential realities and uncertainties of life. Weekly upheavals in the Arab world, missile crises that come and go, bolt-from-the-blue deaths by auto accident, and health frailties that jar us from serenity add to my apprehension. We’re not really in control. The capriciousness of life is exactly what Purim is all about.

 

Megilat Esther is a book of contradictions, filled with events that are unreasonable, coincidental, seemingly pure chance. At one moment, Jews live in security in Persia; the next, they face destruction. Mordechai is threatened with execution; then, suddenly, he becomes prime minister.

Irrational events and moods transform fear into festivity. “Venahafoch hu” – everything gets turned upside down and backward.

 

The late, great Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik taught that even the name “Purim” (meaning “lottery” or “chance”) expresses the erratic capriciousness of events. Purim alerts us, he explained, to the fickleness of life and man’s susceptibility to accidental turns of fortune – despite the best laid plans.

But man’s vulnerability is not simply a tragic truth, he taught. “It is an ethical postulate that gives rise to modesty and humility in man…. Instability serves to ennoble, to dispel arrogance. The awareness of one’s vulnerability, that there ever lurks a hovering threat which can transform our condition, that suddenly without reason, man can be cast down from the throne of success to the pit of despair – should enhance our ethical character.”

 

In Israel these days, such humility seems to be in short supply. The rich and successful, and the politically powerful, exude a preening pride and overbearing self-confidence that leaves no room for self-criticism or selfdoubt. Nor for God. Israelis are, as a rule, absolutely certain that their individual viewpoint is absolutely correct, barring all others. So much for the Mishna, which reminds us to “be humble exceedingly” (Avot 4:4). Tolerance, which stems from humility, also remains largely a foreign concept.

 

So it might be a good idea to force all our would-be leaders to hear the megila read aloud in synagogue this week. A little humble pie would do them, and us, plenty good. The Purim story also provides an excellent lesson, to presidents, prime ministers and commoners, in understanding the link between Providence and human endeavor. The megila hints that beyond the intrigue of royal courtyards, and behind the politics of an Oval Office, lies a Hidden Hand operating on a transcendental plane.

 

Beyond the grasp of man’s finite mind, there is order and purpose, a higher Divine order into which man has not been initiated. In short, what appears random, isn’t. The “pur” (the “chance” mentioned above) is really planned. Even now, with all the bloodthirsty, genocidal and threatening actors around us, God is engaged. Israel at 65 – uncertain of its identity and direction – is not alone.

 

Moreover, the saga in Shushan proves that Divine decision-making can be influenced by virtuous and bold action; by wise leaders whose moral authority can unify and heal; and by sincere prayer. Leaders have the responsibility to act wisely, bravely and honestly – even though decisive control of history lies elsewhere. “Everything is in the hand of heaven,” says the Talmudic sage Rabbi Hanina, “but man still possesses moral freedom” (Brachot 33b)…..

 

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On Topic
 

Not a Coincidence: Shmuel Rabinowitz, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 21, 2013Mordechai was appointed a minister in the Persian kingdom, and the Jews obtained permission from the king to defend themselves from their enemies. The pair of words taken from Megillat Esther – “venahafoch hu,” meaning “the opposite happened” – symbolizes the change in the Jews’ status from a group whose murder was permissible, to a nation with the right to protect and avenge itself.

]

Megila Millennium: Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 21, 2013No one seems to have noticed that we are on the eve of the two-and-a-half thousandth anniversary of the story of Purim. Incredible that we still read and celebrate that story every year – twice a year in Israel.

 

Judaism: Drinking on Purim: When Ignorance is Bliss: Rabbi Eliyahu Safran, Arutz Sheva, Feb. 22, 2013—On Purim we are challenged to transform the Hamans in our lives into Mordecais. On Purim we must reach out to one another; all who “stretch out their hand” must be responded to. If only for this one, marvelous day, we must get beyond our stubborn refusal to acknowledge others who are “not like us”. If only for this one day, we must reach out to anyone and everyone in the Jewish community.

 

 

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Ber Lazarus, Publications Editor, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

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ISRAEL/PA/HAMAS—NO FINAL AGREEMENTS IN THE OFFING; PA’S DEMOCRACY MISSING-IN-ACTION & AGING ABBAS, PA’S LAST PRESIDENT?

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Contents:                          

(Please Note: articles may have been shortened in the interest of space. Please click link for the complete article – Ed.)

 

 

The Time for a Final Status Agreement Has Passed: Dore Gold, Algemeiner, Feb. 18, 2013In light of developments over the last few years, there has been a growing realization in Israel that the chances of reaching a complete final status agreement with the Palestinians are presently extremely small.

 

Palestine’s Democratic Deficit: David Keyes, New York Times, Feb. 12, 2013Last week, a 26-year-old Palestinian activist, Anas Awwad, was sentenced in absentia by a court in Nablus, the West Bank, to one year in prison for “extending his tongue” against the Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, on Facebook.

Is Abbas the Last Palestinian Authority President?: Mudar Zahran, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 6, 2013After Israel’s most recent military operation in Gaza, which ended with a cease-fire, Hamas has been claiming victory and enjoying popularity with the Palestinians, which comes as a setback for Hamas’s rivals: P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction.

 

On Topic Links

 

 

Fatah and Hamas Consider Interim Agreement to Manage Split: Daoud Kuttab, Al-Monitor, Feb. 20, 2013

 

Is Territorial Discontinuity a Real Obstacle?: Giovanni Quer, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 18, 2013

The Case for Judea and Samaria: Michael Freund, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 18, 2013

The Neighboring Kingdom of Mahmoud Abbas: Calev Meyers, Times of Israel, February 20, 2013

IDF: Expect Intifada, Not Talks with Palestinian Authority: Chana Ya'ar, Israel National News, Feb. 21, 2013

 

 

 

THE TIME FOR A FINAL STATUS AGREEMENT HAS PASSED

Dore Gold

Algemeiner, Feb.18, 2013

 

In light of developments over the last few years, there has been a growing realization in Israel that the chances of reaching a complete final status agreement with the Palestinians are presently extremely small. This is not just an ideological position coming out of certain quarters in Israel, but it is also the professional view of practitioners who have been involved in the political process itself.

 

Last June in an interview in Haaretz, Professor Itamar Rabinovich, Israel’s former ambassador to Washington and head negotiator with Syria, reached this very conclusion. He added, as part of his proof of this point, that “the bold proposals” by former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert were not even responded to by the Palestinians. Looking back on Olmert’s far-reaching proposals, Mahmoud Abbas himself told The Washington Post on May 29, 2009 that the gaps between the parties were just too wide.

 

There were other voices that reinforced this conclusion. At the end of 2009, Hussein Agha, who has advised Palestinian leaders over the last two decades, and Robert Malley, who was a member of President Clinton’s National Security Council also wrote in the New York Review of Books: “As currently defined and negotiated, a conflict-ending settlement is practically unachievable; even if signed it will not be implemented and even if implemented it will not be sustained.”

 

Events since that time have not made diplomatic movement any easier. What is called the “Arab Spring,” among other things led to the fall of President Mubarak, Abbas’ main regional source of support. Instead a Muslim Brotherhood regime came to power thereby strengthening Abbas’ Hamas rivals. Given the new regional realities that Israel was facing, even Rabinovich warned in Haaretz: “I would not advise entering into far-reaching territorial concessions in a situation of uncertainty.”

 

And yet there is new push underway to move forward with new negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians with the hope of concluding an agreement between them. Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague was just in Washington meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry where he called on the Obama administration “to inject the necessary momentum on this issue.” In December, he admitted in the House of Commons that he was consulting with the French and the Germans on how to put pressure on the U.S. to launch a new initiative. There was a diplomatic rumour in January that the Europeans wanted Kerry to put down on the table the parameters of a final settlement before Israel and the Palestinians, including a withdrawal to the 1967 lines.

 

Thus Israel finds itself in a paradoxical situation: just as international pressures are increasing for it to make new concessions in order to restart and advance the political process, there is a growing realization in Israel that the kind of final status agreement that the international community is hoping will be concluded is not about to happen. The Palestinian side knows this as well.

 

Moreover, there is a more fundamental question for Israel about how it should proceed in an era of total uncertainty about whether half the regimes that are currently in power in the Middle East will even be there in a few years. The Muslim Brotherhood, which even beyond Egypt is the main beneficiary of the Arab Spring, has been connected to plots against the governments of Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Its revolutionary drive in the region is likely to gain new momentum should Islamist forces take control of Syria.

 

How exactly does the Arab Spring influence Israeli military-strategic considerations? Is Israeli caution warranted here as well? Some try to make the argument that the conventional military threat to Israel is undergoing a transformation allowing Israel to make the very sort of new concessions that the Europeans are demanding.

 

With neighbouring armies, like that of Syria, involved in domestic upheavals, their conventional forces have been badly degraded. Would that mean that Israel can withdraw from territories that in the past were regarded as vital but whose importance may have changed? Historically, Israel based its security on a small standing army that had to neutralize the numerically superior standing forces of its Arab neighbours. To accomplish this goal, the IDF was structured around its reserve formations that would reach their full strength along Israel’s front lines after 48 hours of mobilization.

 

When Yigal Allon, Israel’s deputy prime minister and former commander of the Palmach, first presented his idea of defensible borders for Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War, it was partly based on the idea of providing Israel’s small standing army the topographical conditions it needed to withstand a surprise attack and fight against superior forces, until the reserve formations arrived. But if Israel no longer has to contend with this sort of threat, then could it pull out of the Jordan Valley, which previously every Israeli prime minister from Rabin to Sharon saw as Israel’s forward defence line?

 

This would be an irresponsible conclusion. First of all, the Arab states are likely to build up their conventional armies again in the future once their internal political situation becomes more stable; already Egypt has no problem seeking 200 additional Abrams tanks from the U.S., which will bolster the strength of its armoured forces. Others will follow suit in the years ahead. After all, decisiveness in wars is still a function of the movement of ground armies, and their manoeuvring units, and not the employment of air power alone. America’s two wars against Iraq proved that point conclusively in 1991 and 2003.

 

Secondly, in the immediate term, there is a new ground threat to Israel from terrorist organizations, many of which have many of the attributes of a fully equipped army. In May 2011, former Secretary of Defence Robert Gates noted that Hezbollah had more rockets and missiles than most states. The lethality of terrorist organizations has also dramatically increased with their acquisition of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, shore-to ship missiles, and advanced explosives that are far more potent than anything they used before.

 

The growing capabilities of the international terrorist organizations in the Middle East has reached such a scale that they have even become challenging for the region’s regular armies. In Sinai, the Egyptian army fought regularly with al-Qaida in the area of Jabal Hilal, where an Egyptian general was killed in one battle. The Syrian Army has been repeatedly defeated by an al-Qaida affiliate in Syria, known as Jabhat al-Nusra, which has been equipped through Syria’s porous borders. In short, the Arab Spring has led to a different but no less challenging security environment for Israel that will affect how we view the question of our future boundaries.

 

Third, it would be a dangerous error to dismiss the possibility that terrorist organizations will attempt to acquire weapons of mass destruction and use them against their adversaries. Hezbollah is an extension of the Iranian security establishment. Should Tehran be permitted to cross the nuclear threshold, it would be a cardinal error to simply dismiss the possibility that Hezbollah would not eventually get to share in this technology. Hezbollah would not need ballistic missiles; it could put a nuclear device in the same sort of truck it used against the Marine Barracks in Beirut during 1983 or against Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996.

 

Al-Qaida in Iraq already planned a chemical weapons attack in Amman, Jordan in 2004 that was thwarted. Should Syria’s chemical arsenal fall into the hands of the jihadist groups currently fighting the Assad regime, then unfortunately, non-conventional terror attacks may become more common against those who leave themselves vulnerable. Foreign Secretary Hague, who just warned on Feb. 14, during a speech at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, about a new jihadist threat to Europe coming out of Syria should be the first one who understands the new position Israel finds itself in….

 

Israel learned the hard way the significance of its withdrawal from the Philadephi Route between the Gaza Strip and Sinai, which led to a qualitative leap in the weaponry that Hamas could smuggle and eventually deploy. Before its 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip the only rocket that Hamas fired was the short-range Qassam. By 2006, Hamas was using longer-range Grad rockets from Iran against Ashkelon for the first time and enlarging the arc of Israeli cities it could target. In 2012, that arc extended even further once Hamas was equipped with Iranian Fajr rockets that it fired at Tel Aviv. Hamas in Gaza also acquired shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles from Iran and later from Libya’s arsenal, after the fall of Gadhafi. In Oct. 2012, Hamas fired its first SA-7 against an Israeli helicopter.

 

Israel has three choices given the diplomatic reality that it faces. It can just give up and make the concessions that the Europeans are demanding that the Obama administration impose, but that would put the Israeli population in a precarious position that no responsible government could agree to. It can say that given the uncertainty it faces, now is not the time for any diplomatic initiatives.

 

But it could also indicate that it is willing to explore new ideas with the Palestinians, as long as its vital security interests are not undercut, but are fully protected instead. Both sides should seek to reach agreements where possible, leaving harder issues for later. Europe could play a positive role if it encouraged the Palestinians to reach more limited arrangements with Israel instead of insisting on the kind of Israeli concessions for final status agreement that did not lead to a peace treaty before and are unlikely to produce a stable peace today.

 

The result of all this talk coming out of Europe about getting the U.S. to impose a solution will be completely self-defeating as it hardens the Palestinian readiness to come to the negotiating table — since Israel will be delivered on a silver platter anyway — and makes any real diplomatic progress more difficult than ever.

 

Dore Gold  is the current President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He also served as an advisor to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his first term in office.

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PALESTINE’S DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT

David Keyes

New York Times, Feb. 12, 2013

 

Last week, a 26-year-old Palestinian activist, Anas Awwad, was sentenced in absentia by a court in Nablus, the West Bank, to one year in prison for “extending his tongue” against the Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, on Facebook. Thousands have joined a Facebook group to show their solidarity with Mr. Awwad, but the damage has been done. Free speech has been set back, and a chill sent throughout Palestinian society.

 

It should come as no surprise that the Palestinian Authority is cracking down on basic freedoms. From the top down, a culture of repression reigns supreme. President Abbas’s term ended four years ago. He has clung to power as an unelected autocrat for nearly half a decade. In November, a senior adviser to Mr. Abbas, Mohammad Shtayyeh, told me that Mr. Abbas had no desire to continue ruling, but that he simply could not leave because of the divisions in Palestinian society. Suppressing criticism by resorting to a 50-year-old Jordanian law — designed to punish critics of Jordan’s monarchy when it ruled over the West Bank — has not helped burnish the questionable democratic credentials Mr. Abbas so often claims when meeting Western leaders.

 

This is not the first time the Palestinian Authority has used antiquated laws to clamp down on Internet activists.  Last year, the Palestinian blogger Jamal Abu Rihan was arrested for starting a Facebook campaign called “The People Want an End to Corruption.”  Like Mr. Awwad, Mr. Rihan’s crime was “extending his tongue” against the Palestinian leadership.  In April, the university lecturer Ismat Abdul-Khaleq was arrested for criticizing Mr. Abbas on Facebook.  Days later, a journalist, Tarek Khamis, was detained for criticizing the Palestinian Authority’s treatment of Ms. Abdul-Khaleq. George Canawati, the director of a Bethlehem radio station, and the journalist Rami Samar were similarly detained for posting criticisms of the Palestinian Authority on Facebook. 

 

So long as Mr. Abbas says he is committed to peace, there appears to be little pressure from the West on issues of human rights. Human rights for Palestinians, it seems, continue to play second fiddle to the peace process. A good indicator of how committed a government is to upholding peace with its neighbors is its commitment to protecting the human rights of its own citizens.  Nations that disregard the freedoms of their own people are not likely to care much about maintaining peace with their historic enemies. Palestinian human rights, in other words, are key to the peace process. 

 

In Gaza, where Hamas shuts down social media conferences, represses women, tortures dissidents and arrests journalists, there is scant hope for constructive steps toward regional peace.  With the latest crackdown on free speech, the Palestinian Authority seems to be moving in a worryingly similar direction when it comes to human rights. Last August, in a speech encouraging jihad against enemies who set foot on Muslim land, the deputy speaker of the Hamas parliament, Ahmad Bahr, called on God to kill all Jews and Americans as well as their supporters. “Count them one by one, and kill them all, without leaving a single one” he said.

 

Rather than repudiating such genocidal rhetoric, when an Al Jazeera interviewer asked Mr. Abbas last year if there were political and ideological differences between his party, Fatah, and Hamas, he replied, “In all honesty, there are no disagreements between us.” But there should be enormous — indeed unbridgeable — gaps between any potential peace partner and a terrorist organization that acts tyrannically and calls for the annihilation of a people.

 

The sentencing of Mr. Awwad reminds us that despite rhetoric to the contrary, the Palestinian Authority has little respect for democracy and freedom of speech. Rather than continuing to give Mr. Abbas a free pass, the West should roundly criticize crackdowns on dissidents and stand firmly with Palestinian democrats. A positive first step would be linking Western economic aid to the Palestinian Authority’s respect for free speech. Human rights, too often seen as a diversion from the peace process, are in fact the secret to it. 

 

David Keyes is executive director of Advancing Human Rights.

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IS ABBAS THE LAST PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT?

Mudar Zahran

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 6, 2013

 

After Israel’s most recent military operation in Gaza, which ended with a cease-fire, Hamas has been claiming victory and enjoying popularity with the Palestinians, which comes as a setback for Hamas’s rivals; Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction. With Hamas popularity on the rise, Abbas was left with one desperate option to boost his image: pressing his quest for UN recognition of Palestine as an independent state.

 

Still, Abbas has other problems in his own house; there is friction within Abbas’s Fatah, as Abbas’s rival, Muhammad Dahlan, is still very influential and has a huge following. Dahlan was a senior member of the Fatah Central Committee and the chief of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service. For years, he served as the main Palestinian counterterrorism coordination figure with Israel. Abbas’s Fatah managed to expel Dahlan in June 2011 following allegations by Abbas that Dahlan had murdered Arafat using poison.

 

Dahlan lives in exile now, but he has the money and the followers to disrupt Abbas nonetheless, if not necessarily to topple him. It is not unlikely that rivalry between Abbas and Dahlan would evolve into further friction between their followers should Abbas exhibit further signs of weakness or step down. In addition, the Arab Spring has drawn attention from the Palestinian cause as a whole and from Abbas as the poster child for the Arab-Israeli conflict; the media now has Syria, Egypt and other hot-spots to cover over Abbas’s heart-felt speeches, or his meetings with world leaders.

 

As a result, Palestinians in the West Bank are no longer seeing Abbas in the international media, or mingling with world leaders, and are therefore focusing more on their miserable living conditions, which, as revealed by a recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 70 percent of them believe are due to PA corruption.

 

Last October, prominent Israeli political scholar and Arabist Mordechai Kedar told a crowd in London that “the biggest victim of the Arab Spring is the Palestinian cause, as the world’s media is no longer occupied with it” – and with the fading significance of the Palestinian cause goes Abbas’s own significance. Adding to Abbas’s woes is that the Palestinians in the West Bank do not seem to be too enthusiastic about his quest to gain UN recognition for Palestine as an independent state. While Abbas’s UN stunt succeeded – Palestine is now an observer state in the UN – its very success could cause Abbas’s disappearance from the political scene, because the Oslo peace agreement requires the Palestinians to not unilaterally seek international recognition as a state, and therefore Abbas’s stunt gives Israel the full legal right to end Oslo altogether.

 

But say he does disappear, due to a “Palestinian Spring,” a coup by his rivals or even retirement – the man is 77 after all – would the PA survive? First of all, the PA is not favoured within its own jurisdiction, as confirmed by the above-mentioned poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. In 2005, renowned scholar Daniel Pipes reported Palestinians under the PA were already saying that “Israel’s hell was better than Arafat’s paradise,” and considering that Arafat had much more credit with the Palestinians than does Abbas, one can only imagine how Palestinians would view a PA without even Abbas.

 

In fact, a 2011 poll conducted by Pechter Middle East Polls in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations, when asked if they preferred to become a citizen of Palestine, with all of the rights and privileges of other citizens of Palestine, or a citizen of Israel, only 30 percent chose Palestinian citizenship.” True, Abbas’s second in command, Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, has a reputation for transparency and decency, but since Abbas appointed him in June 2007, the Palestinian Legislative Council has not confirmed his appointment. It is therefore, unlikely he would be able to secure the presidency.

 

With no heir apparent for Abbas, who could secure public support and control the various military factions? With the PA’s reputation for corruption and the disapproval of it among the Palestinian public, it is possible that the PA’s future will be in jeopardy if Abbas steps down, quits, or retires. While there are a few who argue that the West Bank should be handed to the Hashemite regime in Jordan, King Abdullah faces his own domestic challenges. Despite the media’s low coverage of unrest in Jordan, there is an on-going, relentless public call to topple the Hashemite regime. Those hoping the Jordanian regime could play a future role in the West Bank ignore the possibility that the Hashemite regime itself might not exist in the near future.

 

It is about time those concerned with peace and regional stability start considering contingency plans for a West Bank without Abbas, and possibly even without the Palestinian Authority. There is much to consider, and not necessarily as much time.

 

The writer is a Palestinian-Jordanian living in the UK.

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Is Territorial Discontinuity a Real Obstacle?: Giovanni Quer, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 18, 2013November 19, the UN Security Council voted on a resolution against Israel for the government’s decision to build in the settlements and east Jerusalem. The resolution was vetoed by the US, but European members of the Security Council, including France, the UK, Germany and Portugal, together with India and South Africa, adopted a joint declaration of condemnation for the building plan.

 

 

The Case for Judea and Samaria: Michael Freund, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 18, 2013At the end of January, the United Nations Human Rights Council declared war on Israel, issuing one of the harshest reports against the Jewish state in recent memory. Replete with falsehoods and half-truths, the document is a chilling assault aimed at undermining the legitimacy of Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria.

 

The Neighboring Kingdom of Mahmoud Abbas: Calev Meyers, Times of Israel, February 20, 2013Anas Awwad, a 26 year old Palestinian Authority resident, was recently sentenced to one year in prison by a Palestinian court in Nablus. What was Awwad’s heinous crime? He dared to upload a post to his Facebook page displaying a photo of Mahmoud Abbas kicking a soccer ball, with the caption, “Real Madrid’s New Striker.” The Palestinian court found Awwad guilty of breaking a Jordanian law, which forbids “cursing the king.”

 

IDF: Expect Intifada, not Talks with Palestinian Authority: Chana Ya'ar, Israel National News, Feb. 21, 2013Israel's military is training for the possibility the Palestinian Authority may soon launch a formal third intifada. A senior IDF officer warned Thursday morning during an interview on Army Radio that army analysts believe it is likely the PA will choose to launch an intifada over returning to the negotiating table for final status talks with Israel.

 

 

Fatah and Hamas Consider Interim Agreement to Manage Split: Daoud Kuttab, Al-Monitor, Feb. 20, 2013While all indications, actions on the ground and public statements appear to show movement in the Palestinian national-reconciliation process, the reality is that it is still facing stumbling blocks.

 

 

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Ber Lazarus, Publications Editor, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

CIJR In the News:

 

IN CANADA, TEACHING ZIONISM, ONE STUDENT AT A TIME
Alexandra Markus

Israel Campus Beat, February 11, 2013

 

Five years ago, Concordia University professor Frederick Krantz noticed a lack of preparedness among Jewish students when faced with the growing anti-Zionist fervor he witnessed on his campus. “Zionism was becoming a negative term and we at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR) wanted to do something about it,” he said, “so we started the Student Israel Advocacy Program (SIAP), a year-long seminar with college faculty for the public, to give them facts and data about Jewish and Zionist history, the Arab-Israel conflict and the rise in propaganda.”

 

Krantz, a professor of liberal arts and humanities who completed his PhD at Yeshiva University on the history of anti-Semitism, is the director of CIJR, a 25-year-old organization that is connected with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. The SIAP is one of its many outreach projects.

 

“Frequently, Jewish students, even those who went to Jewish schools, don’t know much history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, so when they are confronted with highly propagandistic Arab students, professors and speakers, they are not prepared,” Krantz noted. SIAP aims to change that by building upon participants’ knowledge of Jewish and Middle East history, their rhetorical skills and their ability to debate and organize on campus, through seminars and workshops. The program stresses the importance of mutual support among Israel supporters.

 

“Our overarching goal is to provide students with the truth about the history of the conflict, facts that allow them to dispute the assertions which are made on campus,” Krantz said, adding, “we try to not only teach these skills, but provide participants with the psychological confidence to put them to good use.”

 

Faculty from three of Montreal’s four universities work together to lead seven workshops each year. Enrolment in the program largely consists of college and university students, but a small contingent of older participants also enrols each year. Generally, 15-20 people complete the program annually. Krantz estimated that approximately 40% of program participants are non-Jewish: “Some of these non-Jewish kids become the most sincerely committed Zionists in the groups we have educated over the years, which has been very satisfying for us,” he said.

 

Laura Ariza Pena Corea, 24, who studies public policy at Concordia University and is not Jewish, completed the program two years ago. She hails from Colombia, a predominantly Catholic country with a small Jewish population. “When I came here, I made some Jewish friends and expressed an interest in learning more about the history and culture, so I was referred to the program,” she explained.

 

Krantz emphasized that the program aims to impart facts rather than opinions, giving participants enough background and history to make informed decisions as to their views on issues related to the conflict. Ariza agreed, saying, “I’m more informed, so when I hear people talk about it, I know the two sides of the coin.”

 

Several participants have gone on to be successful pro-Israel advocates. Hillel Neuer, who heads UNWatch in Geneva, is an alumnus. The program’s remarkable success has pushed it to think bigger. “We’re being imitated now,” Krantz said with satisfaction. “People want to do something similar in Toronto at York University and in Winnipeg at the University of Manitoba.”

 

In the meantime, graduates of the program continue to make positive change in their communities, armed with a new determination to combat ignorance. “A lot of people are brainwashed for such a long time,” Ariza said. “They don’t really know the story…. This program exposed me to a whole new perspective.”

 

(Please Note: Professor Krantz obtained his Ph.D. from Cornell University and did his post-graduate work at Yeshiva University – Ed.)