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

Month: March 2013

IRAN, ÉGYPTE, ISRAËL : RISQUES, CONFLITS ET ENJEUX

 

 

 

 

 

La fête de la liberté – Pessah 5773

Baruch Cohen

ICRJ

 

A la mémoire de Malca z”l

Pessah est une histoire d’espoir (Élie Wiesel)

 

Pessah, Pâque, est la fête de la liberté. Se réunir autour de la table du Seder fournit un sentiment de chaleur et de joie.

 

La Haggada est l’histoire d’un événement vivant, non pas la compilation d’un fait disparu. Quand nous récitons la Haggada nous nous rappelons, nous nous identifions de façon unique et personnelle avec le ici et le maintenant.

 

Historiquement, l’esprit de Pessah représente un symbole glorieux du combat pour la dignité

 humaine, la quête éternelle pour la liberté et la justice.

 

Durant des siècles de difficultés, nous, Juifs, avons trouvé une force renouvelée et l’espoir dans l’histoire de Pessah. Chacun, à chaque génération, doit se considérer comme ayant été personnellement libéré de l’esclavage. De notre passé nous renouvelons la force et la confiance du combat pour la victoire ultime : Eretz Israel, Israel.

 

Autour de la table du Seder, nous racontons les événements de notre longue histoire, et nous retrouvons la confiance dans notre conviction que la justice et la liberté l’emporteront pour tous.

 

La lecture de la Haggada réaffirme notre confiance en nous-mêmes et notre conviction que le Dieu d’Israël apportera amour et justice à Israël et à toute l’humanité.

 

Hag Pessah Sameah

 

Joyeux Pessah à toute la Maison d’Israël et à tous les contributeurs et amis de ICRJ.

 

Toute concession rapproche l’Iran de la bombe atomique

Dore Gold

Le CAPE de Jérusalem, 14 mars 2013

 

Les informations médiatiques sur les dernières négociations des pays occidentaux (« P5+1 ») avec l’Iran, tenues récemment au Kazakhstan, ont été positives de manière surprenante. Le Washington Post du 27 février dernier en soulignait le ton positif tandis que Saad Jalili, le représentant iranien, déclarait aux correspondants étrangers que les deux parties étaient arrivées à « un tournant » dans les négociations. Cet optimisme béat est-il vraiment justifié ?

 

Jalili défend bien entendu les intérêts iraniens, mais il a expliqué que les Etats-Unis font actuellement de nouvelles concessions qui les rapprochent de Téhéran. Selon le Wall Street journal, le comportement iranien autour de la table des négociations a été influencé par la décision de Washington de réduire à un seul le nombre de porte-avions américains dans le Golfe persique, ce qui affaiblit le pouvoir de l’Occident à négocier.

 

Le Washington Post a également adopté une ligne critique à l’égard de l’administration Obama. Dans son éditorial publié le 28 janvier, il se pose la question en ces termes : « les Etats-Unis s’agenouillent-ils devant l’Iran ? » Le journal rappelle qu’au cours des précédentes négociations, tenues à Bagdad en mai 2012, le forum des Etats « P5+1 » a exigé de l’Iran de fermer définitivement l’installation souterraine de Fordue, spécialisée dans l’enrichissement de l’uranium. Les puissances occidentales avaient aussi insisté sur le fait que l’Iran retire toutes ses réserves d’uranium enrichi à 20% pour les acheminer hors du pays. Cependant, lors des négociations au Kazakhstan, les pays occidentaux se sont contentés de suspendre l’activité de l’installation à Fordue sans exiger sa fermeture. Selon certaines informations, l’Iran pourra également garder une partie de l’uranium enrichi à 20%.

 

Il semble que les Iraniens cherchent à atténuer les positions des pays principalement européens afin de pouvoir exercer des pressions sur Washington pour qu’elle fasse des concessions supplémentaires. La chargée des Affaires étrangères de l’Union européenne, Catherine Ashton, utilise d’ailleurs un langage différent de celui du Secrétaire d’Etat américain John Kerry, qui déclarait que « le temps presse pour une solution diplomatique ».

 

Au cours d’une Conférence pour les Affaires sécuritaires tenue à Munich au début du mois dernier, Ashton a refusé d’adopter une position claire et ferme à ce sujet. Il semble qu’elle reflète une vision européenne commune, selon laquelle les négociations avec l’Iran doivent se poursuivre à tout prix, même si elles ne pourront conduire à des résultats concrets.

La position israélienne sur ce sujet est bien connue mais celle de l’Arabie Saoudite est aussi intéressante et claire. Lors d’une conférence de presse commune tenue le 4 mars dernier à Riyad avec John Kerry, le prince Saoud al-Faysal, ministre des Affaires étrangères d’Arabie saoudite, a déclaré que les pourparlers avec l’Iran ne peuvent pas durer éternellement, et a-t-il ajouté : « les négociations doivent s’achever à un certain moment ».

 

Il a souligné que les Iraniens manquent de sérieux dans leurs discussions avec l’Occident et précisé : « ils poursuivent leurs négociations uniquement pour les maintenir. Nous nous trouverons un jour face à des armes nucléaires, et donc nous ne pouvons permettre que cela se produise. » La vision réaliste des Saoudiens est liée sans doute à leur position stratégique : l’Arabie Saoudite est entourée de satellites chiites bénéficiant d’un soutien direct de Téhéran.

 

Rappelons certains faits : au Yémen, un troisième navire transportant des missiles et des katiouchas en provenance d’Iran destinés au rebelles chiites a été arraisonné et la cargaison confisquée. En Irak, le Premier ministre Nourri al-Maliki est considéré par l’Arabie Saoudite comme un agent des Ayatollahs. Et au Bahreïn, les forces de sécurité viennent d’accuser les Gardiens de la Révolution de la planification d’attaques terroristes dans le pays, situé à 25 kms seulement de la province orientale de l’Arabie Saoudite.

 

Dans ce contexte, et face aux tentatives des Ayatollahs de semer la terreur au sein même de l’Arabie Saoudite, il n’est pas surprenant que les Saoudiens parlent en connaissance de cause. Ils connaissent parfaitement la ruse iranienne et la technique de négociation qui permet de gagner du temps et de progresser ainsi vers l’arme atomique.

 

De nombreux experts estiment à ce sujet que Téhéran adopterait la même stratégie que la Corée du Nord puisque elle rejette la supervision de l’Agence internationale d’énergie atomique (AIEA) et agit en conséquence pour pouvoir achever rapidement l’enrichissement de l’uranium à un niveau militaire. C’est justement pour ces raisons que le Premier ministre Benyamin Netanyahou a défini une ligne rouge en ce qui concerne l’uranium enrichi à 20%, quantité qui permet la fabrication d’une bombe (d’environ 225 kgs).

 

L’Iran poursuit donc son projet dans le cadre d’une nouvelle stratégie qui permet l’installation d’un nombre considérable, et sans précédent, de centrifugeuses dans l’usine de Natanz. Certaines sont sophistiquées pour accélérer la production d’uranium enrichi et produire plusieurs bombes.

 

Téhéran a donc réussi à ce jour à obtenir des Européens des concessions supplémentaires face à la fermeté américaine et israélienne. l est clair qu’en observant les manigances de l’Iran dans notre région, toute concession de la part de l’Occident encouragera le comportement agressif de l’Iran.

 

Iran-Egypte : Les enjeux des relations sunnites-chiites

Michel Segall

Le CAPE de Jérusalem, 20 mars 2013

 

Le « printemps arabe » a aggravé le conflit entre les Etats arabes et l’Iran. Tandis que l’Iran continue à observer les manifestations islamiques pour promouvoir ses objectifs hégémoniques, les bouleversements dans le monde arabe ont en fait élargi le fossé entre Téhéran et les capitales arabes. Cette profonde divergence est due principalement au soutien sans équivoque de l’Iran à la Syrie d’Assad et à l’opposition chiite au Bahreïn.

 

La participation d’Ahmadinejad à la conférence de l’OCI tenue au Caire le 5 février 2013 a mis en lumière le grand écart existant entre les camps chiites iraniens et les camps sunnites arabes. Ces derniers sont engagés dans un processus de consolidation : le resserrement des rangs dans le monde arabe augmente les conflits entre les Etats arabes et l’Iran. Les pays arabes de la région s’opposent farouchement aux interventions iraniennes dans leurs affaires internes et déjouent les tentatives de fomenter le chaos et l’instabilité dans leurs régimes.

 

Cependant, l’Iran réalise que l’Egypte est toujours plongée dans une révolution islamique inachevée mais qu’elle demeure encore sous influence des Etats arabes « modérés » – l’Arabie saoudite et les Etats du Golfe – et maintient ses relations avec les Etats-Unis et Israël.

 

Cette donne n’indique pas un changement significatif dans l’hostilité fondamentale iranienne envers l’Egypte et les autres pays arabes de la région, toujours considérés comme faisant partie du camp occidental.

Les progrès réalisés par l’Iran dans son programme nucléaire augmentent les craintes des Etats arabes. Ils redoutent en effet qu’un Iran nucléarisé ne sème la subversion politique, la terreur et les graines de la révolution chiite. Ces craintes sont de nature à renforcer l’unité du camp arabe dans sa confrontation avec l’Iran.

 

La dernière visite du président iranien en Egypte, première effectuée depuis la révolution islamique, fut destinée au départ à être une première étape vers l’amélioration des relations bilatérales à la suite de la révolution islamique et le renversement du régime de Hosni Moubarak. En fait, cette visite a mis au jour les tensions entre les deux pays concernant le leadership régional et a approfondi les désaccords fondamentaux entre sunnites et chiites.

 

Cette visite a été publiquement humiliante pour le président iranien lors de la conférence de presse tenue avec les hauts responsables d’Al-Azhar, où une chaussure lui a été jetée dessus… Cette humiliation a été fortement critiquée à Téhéran et d’ailleurs aucun représentant du dirigeant suprême Ali Khamenei ne s’est présenté à l’aéroport pour accueillir Ahmadinejad à son retour.

 

Le « péché originel »  de l’Egypte demeure, aux yeux des Iraniens, la décision historique du Président Sadate d’ouvrir la voie à la normalisation des relations avec Israël. Il s’agit pour les ayatollahs d’une trahison pure et simple du monde arabo-musulman. Ainsi Téhéran a rompu ses relations diplomatiques avec le Caire après la signature du traité de paix et suite à l’asile politique donné au Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

 

Rappelons la glorification de l’assassin d’Anouar el-Sadate, Khalid Islambouli, dont une rue de Téhéran porte le nom ; un timbre fut même créé à son effigie. En outre, l’Iran a mené des activités subversives en Egypte et a utilisé le Hezbollah libanais pour coordonner son aide militaire et financière au Hamas et au Djihad islamique palestinien à Gaza.

En 2009, un réseau du Hezbollah a été arrêté pour avoir planifié des attaques terroristes et avoir propagé le chiisme en Egypte. Des contraintes ont été imposées par Moubarak sur les activités des chiites dans le pays.

 

Aujourd’hui, malgré la montée des islamistes, l’Egypte de Morsi continue d’entraver les ambitions régionales de l’Iran. La stabilisation du régime égyptien dirigé par les Frères musulmans ajoute un élément religieux idéologique dans la lutte pour l’hégémonie dans le monde arabe et cette situation ne fait qu’amplifier les différences entre l’Egypte et l’Iran en soulignant la rivalité historique entre sunnites et chiites en Syrie, au Bahreïn, en Irak, en Arabie saoudite et en Afrique du Nord, et bien évidemment en Egypte.

 

En conclusion, les relations irano-égyptiennes demeurent tendues et la visite du président iranien au Caire n’a pas contribué à rapprocher les positions ni à renouveler les liens entre les deux Etats. Cette visite a révélé le grand écart existant entre les camps chiites et les camps sunnites ; une confrontation latente et historique qui se réalise quotidiennement sur le terrain, principalement en Syrie.

 

Enfin, soulignons que l’Arabie saoudite et le Qatar contribuent dans ce sens et empêchent l’Egypte de tomber dans les bras de l’Iran. Dans le pays des ayatollahs, les prochaines élections détermineront l’avenir des relations avec le Caire mais à ce stade rien n’indique que la page tumultueuse entre les deux pays soit tournée.

 

Pessah à l’espagnole

Sandra Ores

Menapress.org, 25 mars 2013

 

Pessah, fête juive en l’honneur de la libération des Hébreux du joug égyptien aux temps bibliques, sera célébrée, ce soir, dans le village de Galice de Ribadavia. Evènement notable, car cette commune du nord-ouest de l’Espagne de cinq mille cinq cents âmes n’avait pas fêté Pessah depuis… 1492.

 

Jusqu’à cette date, Ribadavia abritait une forte présence juive, comme le reste de la province et de la péninsule Ibérique par ailleurs. Les Israélites d’Espagne représentèrent, jusqu’au XVème siècle, l’une des plus importantes et des plus prospères communautés de diaspora. Mais pendant la période de l’Inquisition, ils furent forcés de choisir entre la conversion ou la fuite du royaume catholique d’Espagne.

 

Cinq siècles plus tard, pas une famille juive n’habite encore les lieux. Cependant, depuis plus d’une décennie, Ribadavia a décidé d’embrasser son héritage culturel juif ainsi qu’une partie intégrante de son histoire ; et de se rapprocher de traditions ancestrales qui participaient du caractère du village aux temps anciens.

 

Chaque année, depuis le milieu du XXème siècle, la ville se livre à la Festa da Istoria, la fête de l’histoire, le dernier samedi d’août. A l’occasion de cet évènement aux couleurs médiévales, les rues se décorent au goût du Moyen-âge, la population enfile des vêtements d’époque, et un tournoi de chevaliers est organisé.

 

Le caractère juif est érigé au premier plan : des comédiens s’adonnent à une mise en scène rituelle de noces juives, de même qu’à une représentation, sur les planches, d’un procès de l’Inquisition. "C’est un spectacle folklorique et touristique", me raconte Abraham Haïm ; Haïm est l’instigateur  du seder de Ribadavia, le dîner rituel de Pessah, qui se déroulera ce soir, le premier jour de la fête1, en partenariat avec la mairie et le Centre d’Etudes Médiévales de Ribadavia.

 

Abraham Haim est un Israélien d’origine espagnole, docteur en histoire établi à Jérusalem. Eu égard à son action de relais entre les associations culturelles espagnoles et Israël, il a été nommé président d’honneur dudit Centre d’Etudes Médiévales. "Grâce à la tenue de cette soirée particulière, je souhaite montrer une tradition dans les conditions réelles et contemporaines, afin de permettre à des non Juifs de vivre une expérience in situ", m’explique-t-il ; poursuivant : "il s’agira d’un évènement authentique, avec de la matza (le pain azyme non levé), des salades, du poisson grillé, une soupe aux légumes ; je ferai la prière". Le dîner est ouvert à tous, sous condition de s’y inscrire.

 

Haïm estime qu’il rassemblera une population quasi unanimement non juive. Même sa famille n’aura pas l’occasion de participer à la fête. Le dîner se tiendra dans un restaurant du quartier juif de la ville, un arrondissement historique, conservé dans son aspect ancestral.

 

Ribadavia fut la première d’une vingtaine de cités espagnoles, depuis une décennie, à s’être investies dans la promotion de son patrimoine culturel juif longtemps mis de côté. Elle fait partie, avec entre autres Tolède, Besalu ou Caseres, de l’association Red de Juderias, le réseau des Juifs. L’objectif de ce projet consiste à faire connaître, au niveau international, l’héritage juif des villes membres.

 

Par des initiatives culturelles et artistiques, telles l’ouverture de musées, la rénovation architecturale ou la promotion d’anciens quartiers juifs, ces villes illustrent la fierté qu’elles retirent d’un passé dans lequel ont pris part les Israélites.

 

Abraham Haïm me rapporte qu’à Ribadavia, certains marranes, ou conversos3 (convertis), revendiquent ouvertement leurs origines juives. Le mot péjoratif marrane, signifiant porc en espagnol, désigne usuellement les Juifs qui se sont convertis au christianisme pendant l’Inquisition tout en conservant, secrètement, leurs traditions juives.

 

Si les coutumes ont pu se perdre au fil des siècles, chez certaines familles, l’identité s’est transmise à travers les générations. Des études montrent qu’environ 20% de la population espagnole moderne possèderait une ascendance hébraïque.

 

Ces revendications identitaires librement décidées sont récentes. C’est qu’en Espagne, à partir de 1492, alors que le décret d’Alhambra ordonne l’expulsion des Juifs d’Espagne, et pendant le plus clair de la durée de l’Inquisition jusqu’à son abolition au milieu du XIXème siècle, s’adonner à des pratiques juives ou se revendiquer de la religion mosaïque pouvait mener au bûcher.

 

En 1869, une nouvelle constitution fut enfin votée en Espagne, qui rétablit, officiellement, la liberté religieuse. A partir de ce moment, se reforma lentement une population juive en Espagne, venue, dans un premier temps, notamment du Maroc, terre d’accueil où quelques milliers d’exilés ibères avaient trouvé refuge plusieurs siècles auparavant.

 

Quelques deux mille Juifs gagnèrent également le pays après la Première Guerre mondiale, notamment des Turcs, à la suite de la chute de l’Empire ottoman. Au XXIème siècle, une immigration en provenance d’Amérique du Sud vint augmenter le nombre d’Israélites. Selon la Fédération des Communautés Juives Espagnoles, et comme le soutient Abraham Haïm, ils seraient aujourd’hui entre quarante et cinquante mille.

 

Autour de Ribadavia, en Galice, quelques petites communautés juives existent, notamment dans le port de pêche de Vigo. L’essentiel d’entre elles reste toutefois concentré à Madrid et à Barcelone. L’introduction d’évènements culturels, à l’instar du dîner de Pessah à Ribadavia, témoigne d’une volonté certaine, parmi la population espagnole, d’intégrer dans le présent une partie de l’identité du pays, écartée pendant plusieurs siècles.

 

La présence juive, relevée dans la péninsule ibérique depuis au moins l’époque romaine, engendra une culture riche, notamment sur les plans littéraire et linguistique. La communauté juive espagnole, dite sépharade, développa en outre son propre dialecte, le judéo-espagnol, dérivé du vieux castillan et de l’hébreu, et connut son âge d’or sous le premier califat de Cordoue, au Xème siècle.

 

Au même titre qu’ils souhaitent se réapproprier ce capital historique, les Espagnols se plaisent à valoriser l’héritage culturel de la domination musulmane, laissé par les royaumes mauresques qui régnèrent dans la région entre les VIIIème et XVème siècles. Au-delà du patrimoine artistique et architectural, la tolérance envers les autres cultes religieux a en outre marqué cette période.

CAMPUS PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGNS OF LIES AND BLOOD LIBELS AGAINST ISRAEL/JEWS CONTINUE—HERE A BATTLE LOST, THERE A BATTLE WON

Download an abbreviated version of today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

 

Contents:                          

 

 

Battleground York University: Joanne Hill, Jewish Tribune, March 28, 2013 —Pro-Israel students were visibly upset and some were crying after the York Federation of Students (YFS) passed a motion to endorse and promote boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

 

Campus Blood Libel: Charles Jacobs, Front Page Magazine, March 15, 2013—It is time Jewish students stopped crowing that gays can march in Tel Aviv and started calling the propaganda crusade against us what it is: Bull! Lies! A hoax! The most inconvenient truth for our adversaries is that the horrors the Arab/Islamic world has falsely charged against Israel, are things they have actually done themselves — and are still doing….

 

Must We Combat [Campus] Anti-Semitism?: Kenneth L. Marcus, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 23, 2013—I was asked the question most recently last week in the well-appointed downtown offices of a major Jewish organization. But I have heard it surprisingly often since I founded the Louis D. Brandeis Center to combat campus anti-Semitism: “Do you really think that fighting anti-Semitism is the best approach to Israel advocacy?”

 

Oxford Students Resoundingly Reject BDS Movement: Lori Lowenthal Marcus, Jewish Press, Feb. 27, 2013—Oxford University, the oldest university in the English-speaking world, is an exemplar of academic elite institutions.  Tonight,  February 27, the student leadership there voted to reject the motion to join in and promote the economic and political warfare anti-Israel effort known as the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement.

 

On Topic Links

 

 

U.C. Lecturer Wages War Against Anti-Jewish Activity on Campus: Ben Harris, Campus Watch,  Nov. 3, 2011
Israel Apartheid Week: A Tale of Two Brothers: David Solway, Front Page Magazine, March 1, 2013
Israeli Apartheid Week 2013 (The Real Truth) – Video: Dennis Prager, Prager University, Feb. 14, 2013

 

 

 

BATTLEGROUND YORK U

Joanne Hill

Jewish Tribune, March 28, 2013

 

Pro-Israel students were visibly upset and some were crying after the York Federation of Students (YFS) passed a motion to endorse and promote boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Students felt angry, frustrated and “very dejected” following last week’s “kangaroo court,” said York student Geoffrey Aharon.

 

“To know that our union does not care about us, [that] they are more than happy to directly target Jewish, Israeli students and any student that is a supporter of Israel, and create a hostile environment at our university, is one of the most disappointing and upsetting things I’ve ever experienced at York. I am absolutely ashamed and disgusted to be a student at York University because…I am forced to be a member of the YFS.” The BDS supporters were obviously delighted by the vote.

 

“They now have their radical agenda signed, sealed and approved by the YFS,” said Chaim Lax, president, Hasbara at York. Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) presented a petition bearing more than 5,000 signatures and asked the YFS to endorse a global BDS campaign and demand that the university administration take part.

 

Five pro-Israel students, including Lax and Aharon, and five anti-Zionist students addressed the YFS before the vote. Only one board member – Ruth Johnson, director of Winters College – attempted to inject some measure of fairness into the motion. The meeting was “of interest to me because the entire student body needs to be represented and I didn’t feel like that was happening,” said Johnson. “Taking a stance on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to that degree and demonizing Israel wasn’t something that was conducive to the unity of our student body.”

 

It was only by chance that the pro-Israel side found out about the meeting. Johnson said she wasn’t informed of the meeting by YFS, either. Pro-Israel students have been gathering signatures for their own petition calling on the YFS to reject BDS. They were 1,000 signatures shy of the 5,000 required before a petition can be submitted. “We showed up with the petition anyway…and said, it’s true that we don’t have 5,000 but we have 4,000 of your constituents saying they don’t want this to happen, so you should take that into consideration before casting your vote,” said Lax.

 

The anti-BDS petition was ignored, according to Johnson, Lax and Aharon. Johnson proposed tabling the issue until the signatures on both petitions could undergo formal audits but no one seconded her motion. So she took another approach. “I removed the word ‘Israel’ from the motion and suggested inserting condemnation of all human rights infringements across the world,” said Johnson. That motion was not seconded, either. Johnson was told her amendment was too broad in scope. She tried a third motion. “I decided I would include Israel; however, I would also add Palestinian human rights violations to make it two-sided rather than simply demonizing Israel.” Again, no response.

 

Johnson said she and Kirsten LaBonte, director of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, voted against SAIA’s motion and everyone else voted in favour. “I think the big issue now is the Jewish students’ relationship with the YFS,” said Hillel Genesove, president, B’nai Brith on Campus. “We’re going to have to see next year how that changes or how people feel [and] if they’re comfortable with the YFS after this decision…. There’s definitely a lot more tension now, having to deal with the YFS, but I think we can work through it.”

 

Pro-Israel students are now discussing their next move, but it’s also time for donors to take a stand, said Aharon. “Donors should understand that the universities that they’re supporting financially are becoming radicalized institutions,” he said. “We know that [York] President [Mamdouh] Shoukri has said many times before that the administration would not adopt the BDS movement. But, if today’s radicals become the norm tomorrow, they won’t seem so radical anymore. The donors are supporting universities that have fostered…an environment that has become toxic for Jewish students.”

 

Hamid Osman, executive director YFS, did not respond to the Jewish Tribune’s requests for an interview.

An estimated 200 students attended the meeting. Anti-Israel activists Jesse Zimmerman, James Clark of the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War, and SAIA’s Hammam Farah were present. Before the meeting started, the YFS tried to have the Tribune’s reporter ejected from the building. When the Tribune resisted, a rabbi who runs a program at the university expressed fear that the Jewish students’ good relationship with York security might have been jeopardized.

 

Top of Page

 

 

 

CAMPUS BLOOD LIBEL

Charles Jacobs

Front Page Magazine, March 15, 2013

 

Spring’s coming. Get ready for Israeli Apartheid Week on campuses across the nation. Here in Boston last week, Harvard got off to an early start: the college’s Palestine Solidarity Committee placed mock eviction notices on students’ doors, warning students that their rooms were “scheduled for demolition in the next three days.” This was then likened to “the unlawful displacement of Palestinians.”

 

That little psychodrama is just the prelim to a full program which will include anti-Israel films, the construction of an “apartheid wall” in the Science Center Plaza, and a talk by Hizbollah supporter, MIT Professor Noam Chomsky — who just may be the American Jew most proud to be ashamed that he’s a Jew. At Northeastern University, where Professors Denis Sullivan and Shahid Alam have proudly been working for decades to foment hatred of Israel (see www.shameonneu.com) the schedule is even more fulsome: From March 11-15, students will be shown two anti-Israel propaganda films, one even narrated by Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple. There will be a mock checkpoint constructed on the Centennial Commons, and all week long there will be a lighted sign flashing: “End Israeli Apartheid.”

 

NEU President Aoun, who has finally come under pressure to do something about his radical, anti-Israel/anti-Semitic professors, might find it useful now to emulate Jason Kenney, the Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, who condemned Israeli Apartheid Week as simple anti-Semitism.  Aoun, who is Christian Lebanese, surely knows that Middle East Christians are the ones suffering from something pretty close to apartheid – in every one of the lovely Arab-dominated states they nervously inhabit. Condemning the lie about Israel while outing the real oppressors would be a double mitzvah.  True, he’d have a tenured tantrum on his hands. Meanwhile, the silence of the Jewish Studies Department there continues to astonish.

 

At Boston University, there will be a sham conference on “The Right of Return.” Several scholars who oppose the idea that Palestinians in vast numbers should be allowed to flood into Israel, thereby extinguishing the Jewish state, have submitted proposals to give papers. As of this writing the “conference” conveners have not responded to any of them, so any pretense that their panel is “academic” is a farce. Just more political theatre. So what do we do about all this? The ADL has said it is “outraged” by the Harvard eviction notices.  Nice, but then what?

 

I attended a workshop last week at the mammoth, yearly AIPAC Policy Conference which addressed the surge of anti-Israelism on the campuses.  The two speakers representing Jewish organizations that work on campuses came to promote what has become the Jewish Establishment’s only acceptable strategy; it’s called “retail engagement.” Responding to anti-Israel activity publicly with counter arguments, they say, has been shown to be ineffective. “Debate,” they argued, “has no audience.” A better approach is to get to know other students personally, especially student leaders, to build relationships with them, to “make friends, not arguments.”

 

Much of this makes sense. Cold facts and logic don’t win over most people. So much of politics is personal. Being popular and playing on emotion is often key.  This sort of engagement is clearly necessary — but why would anyone think it’s sufficient to win? Isn’t the other side much larger? Can’t they reach out to more leaders? To be truthful — aren’t they often more charming?

 

And don’t they have a big advantage? In our leftist-dominated culture which is obsessed with victimhood, the other side continually offers students what seems the high moral road — a victimhood campaign. In a low-information age, a picture of an Israeli tank next to a Palestinian child is enough to set people’s judgment against us, sometimes for good.

 

Our problem is that they lie. Another reason that “retail engagement” alone won’t win is that there is something more emotionally powerful than personal friendships at stake: In our world, people see themselves as good and moral people if they are for the underdog, and against oppression. If pro-Israel students, no matter how engaging, are seen to be supporting a cause that people fear taints them morally, friendship with charming Zionists will not often prevail.

 

No, friendship is not the magic bullet. To win, Jewish students will have to do harder things: They have to re-capture the emotional argument that counts most:  Not that we are individually nice people, but that Israel is a decent nation that is being lied about.  Jews are being victimized. That is the central truth of the matter, but exists now as the elephant in the PR room. Winning people to this central truth– that they are lying about us – means that pro-Israel students are going to have to do something the Jewish Establishment tells them not to do: they are going to have to call the campaign of lies what it is. They are going to have to talk to their friends about the people who are doing the defaming. They are going to have to “go negative.” What we face is more than a social popularity contest: it’s a political/ideological war; surely we know by now that it will take more than being charming if we mean to win.

 

It is time Jewish students stopped crowing that gays can march in Tel Aviv and started calling the propaganda crusade against us what it is: Bull! Lies! A hoax! The most inconvenient truth for our adversaries is that the horrors the Arab/Islamic world has falsely charged against Israel, are things they have actually done themselves — and are still doing…. While the “human rights” world keeps relatively mum. Land theft? The Arab world started out in Arabia and conquered the rest by jihad. Cruelty? Take a look at how women are treated, at how Sunnis treat Shias and vice versa. Is it now 70 or 80,000 dead in Syria? How many black slaves serve Arab masters across Arab north Africa?

 

Apartheid? Jewish students should say: “glad you brought that up. Because if you are truly interested in institutionalized subjugation in the Middle East, then talk to Simon Deng, an African who was enslaved by Arabs in Sudan; or to Mohammed Yahya, an African Muslim from Darfur, whose people are being massacred by Arabs for resisting Arabization; or to Caroline Doss, a Christian women from Cairo, whose people shiver to think what may soon happen to them because of the wonderful Arab spring. (They’re all available.) Apartheid in the M.E. is not about Israel at all. That’s a scam. The real apartheid is in the Arab/Islamic states.

 

If pro-Israel students can convince their classmates that anti-Israelism is based on lies  — inversions, actually — Israel might just win on campus. Sure, it helps if pro-Israel students are likeable but only if they have the courage to state the truth and the wisdom not to listen to their establishment “leaders” might their efforts be decisive.

 

Charles Jacobs is the President of the Americans for Peace and Tolerance.

 

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MUST WE COMBAT [CAMPUS] ANTI-SEMITISM?

Kenneth L. Marcus

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 23, 2013

 

I was asked the question most recently last week in the well-appointed downtown offices of a major Jewish organization. But I have heard it surprisingly often since I founded the Louis D. Brandeis Center to combat campus anti-Semitism: “Do you really think that fighting anti-Semitism is the best approach to Israel advocacy?” The question is invariably issued as a challenge, sometimes even an admonition. Implicitly, Jewish leaders want to know whether it makes sense to focus on the “negative,” when the vogue in Israel advocacy is to be relentlessly positive. “No,” I always reply, “It is not even the second best approach.”

 

I sometimes begin by pointing out that I do not fight anti-Semitism to advance Israel advocacy.

Rather, I fight anti-Semitism because anti-Semitism is evil, and it must be defeated. If the 20th century taught us anything, it is that Jew-hatred cannot be allowed to fester. But this sometimes feels like belaboring the obvious. As far as Israel advocacy goes, the best approach is undoubtedly very different. Those who want to give Israel a better image, on college campuses or elsewhere, really should focus on the positive. In this respect, the American Jewish establishment is not wrong. Israel’s positive attributes are quite compelling, whether one focuses on the country’s extraordinary history, cultural offerings, or scientific advances. When people think of Israel, they should think first of the country’s gifts to the world. Israel advocates increasingly understand this.

 

Fighting anti-Semitism should not come second for Israel advocates either. After painting a positive portrait of Israel’s assets, Israel advocates must focus next on addressing Israel’s legitimate critics. For many reasons, Israel is continually subjected to heaps of abuse in the international community. Israel’s defenders are wise to anticipate criticisms and respond to them. Advocates should present facts which rebut the fictions that are told about the Jewish state. When combined with positive pro-active messaging, a fact-based educational campaign can be very persuasive. But it will never succeed. That is to say, Israel advocates will never prevail if they stop there.

 

The problem is that key influentials are not convinced by rational arguments, fact-based approaches, or positive-imaging campaigns. Anti-Semitism it is at the root of intractable anti-Israel animus. That is the only rational explanation for the extraordinary double standards Israel always faces in the international community. Although there are relatively few hard-core anti-Semites on Western campuses, these hard-core haters are disproportionally influential, because university culture gives disproportionate credence to radical, anti-establishment voices. These opinion leaders are not persuaded by informational campaigns because their attitudes are more psychological than intellectual.

 

There was a time during the mid-20th century when American Jewish organizations generally believed in educational campaigns to defeat anti- Semitism. They felt, as one leader put it at the time, that “lack of information was basically responsible for group hostilities.” Their assumption was that prejudiced people accepted anti-Jewish stereotypes because they lack accurate information about or first-hand experience with Jews. Jewish leaders believed at that point that they could eliminate prejudice by teaching white American gentiles about the various ethnic, racial and religious groups within the United States.

 

That naïve perspective has long since vanished from the Jewish communal world, except when it comes to Israel advocacy. By the 1950s, it was well established that anti-Semitism could not be addressed by facts alone. Psychologists explained that, since anti-Semitism is the product of psychological factors, it is unlikely to be altered by superficial educational or propaganda techniques. Educational efforts which concentrate on disseminating correct information and disproving errors fail to address the psychological and sociological roots of anti-Jewish prejudice….

 

Never mind that we must fight anti-Semitism because anti-Semitism is wrong. Israel advocates must also fight anti-Semitism because, if that fight is not won, they will be forever doomed to the Sisyphean task of swatting down myths and distortions whose source they refuse to address. Israel advocates are wise to stress positive imaging first and fact-based campaigns second. But the third prong in their strategy must be an effective plan for combating anti-Semitism. Otherwise, no amount of positive imaging or educational pamphlets will succeed.

 

So do not ask me if combating anti-Semitism is the best way of doing Israel advocacy. It may be the third-best option, but it is still the sine qua non of any successful strategy. But we must fight anti-Semitism regardless of its importance to Israel advocacy, because it is the right thing to do.

 

Kenneth L. Marcus is founder and president of The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.

 

 

OXFORD STUDENTS RESOUNDINGLY REJECT BDS MOVEMENT

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Jewish Press, February 27, 2013

 

Oxford University, the oldest university in the English-speaking world, is an exemplar of academic elite institutions.  Tonight,  February 27, the student leadership there voted to reject the motion to join in and promote the economic and political warfare anti-Israel effort known as the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement.

 

Students had been discussing the motion and voted in their own colleges in advance of tonight’s vote. “This boycott goes against everything the university stands for.  The idea that we are not going to read your books or articles or hear your arguments on the basis of your nationality is ridiculous,” Henry Watson, a student at Magdalen College, a constituent college of Oxford, said.  Magdalen College voted to defeat the motion 39-3, earlier this week.

 

The representatives of the affiliated Oxford colleges, who comprise the Oxford Student Union Organization, met in St. Edmund Hall tonight where the motion was put immediately to a vote.  The motion was defeated, 69 – 10.  There were 15 abstentions. Had the motion passed, Oxford would have been required to recommend to Britain’s National Union of Students that they join the global BDS movement against Israel. A representative of Brasenose College, Eylon Aslan-Levy, said, “Tonight Oxford students showed that their commitment to intellectual freedom is unshakeable.  In rejecting calls for a boycott against Israel by a seven-to-one margin, we demonstrated resoundingly that we want Oxford to continue to cooperate with Israeli academics, trade with Israeli businesses and – yes – debate with Israelis in debating societies.”

 

Aslan-Levy was in the news earlier this week.  He was slated to present the opposing side in a debate the topic of which was, “Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank.” When he began his response, his opponent, British member of parliament George Galloway, stormed out of the room upon learning Aslan-Levy is Israeli. “I hope that other British universities will follow Oxford’s lead in standing up against divisive attempts to hinder academic cooperation and progress,” Aslan-Levy said.

 

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On Topic

 

 

Standing Tall in Santa Cruz: U.C. Lecturer Wages War Against Anti-Jewish Activity on Campus: Ben Harris, Campus Watch,  Nov. 3, 2011—For the past 10 years, Rossman-Benjamin has been following that same directive with single-minded determination: Focusing on "form" and "how it looks," she has been tracking incidents of anti-Israel activity at this coastal campus. Perhaps in isolation, the incidents she tracks might be considered legitimate stands against the Jewish state, even when the criticism is harsh, as it often is.

 

Israel Apartheid Week: A Tale of Two Brothers: David Solway, Front Page Magazine, March 1, 2013—Driving past the University of Toronto recently, I noticed a lone protestor on the perimeter of the campus carrying a sign objecting to Israel Apartheid Week. I was reminded that the University of Toronto was the first academic institution to host and promote the scandal of this event

 

Israeli Apartheid Week 2013 (The Real Truth) – VideoDennis Prager, Prager University, Feb. 14, 2013

 

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SYRIA CONTINUES TO CRUMBLE & EUROPE AND AMERICA CONTINUE TO DITHER AS JIHADIST FORCES MULTIPLY

Download an abbreviated version of today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

 

Contents:                          

 

The New Strategic Environment: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Jewish Press, March 19th, 2013—The way it looks now, it seems that the regime of al-Assad will not last more than a number of days or weeks. A coalition of Sunni jihad organizations will succeed in toppling the government of an Arab state despite the state having used every weapon in its arsenal – including scud missiles – in order to survive.

 

The European Dilemmas on Arming Syrian Rebels: Jean-Loup Samaan, Al-Monitor, Mar. 27, 2013—These last weeks have been marked by a new diplomatic battle within the European Union over the question of lifting the current embargo on arms to Syria in order to raise the level of support to the rebels on the ground.

 

America Inches Toward War in Syria: Doyle McManus, LA Times, Mar. 27, 2013—Military intervention in the Muslim world seems to bring the United States nothing but grief. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya: None looks much like a success story now. Yet the Obama administration is edging reluctantly into a civil war in Syria, aiding rebels who are fighting to overthrow the brutal regime of Bashar Assad. And it should: The longer this war goes on, the worse it will be for the U.S. and the Syrians.

 

On Topic Links

 

 

 

Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.: C. J. Chivers & Eric Schmitt, New York Times, Mar. 24, 2013
Solution to Syrian Conflict Must Come from the Air: Faisal Al Yafai, The National (UAE), Mar 26, 2013
The Syrian Gulf War: Michael Weiss, Now Lebanon, Mar. 27, 2013

The Free Syrian Army: Elizabeth O'Bagy, Institute for the Study of War, Mar. 2013
As Syria Bleeds, Lebanon Reels: Dexter Filkins, New Yorker, Mar. 25, 2013

 

 

 

 

THE NEW STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENT

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Jewish Press, March 19th, 2013

 

The way it looks now, it seems that the regime of al-Assad will not last more than a number of days or weeks. A coalition of Sunni jihad organizations will succeed in toppling the government of an Arab state despite the state having used every weapon in its arsenal – including scud missiles – in order to survive.

 

During the past two years all of the red lines have been crossed in Syria , and both sides are sunk deep in this dirty, ugly struggle, which is fought with no moral or legal constraints.  Tens of thousands of citizens, women, children and elderly, have been brutally murdered , hundreds of thousands of houses and apartments have been rendered uninhabitable; infrastructures of the country are collapsing; the economy is paralyzed and the organizational framework of the state is falling apart.

 

The success of the Sunni coalition (Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan) in eliminating the heretical Alawite regime, which is supported by a Shi’ite coalition (Iran, Iraq and Hizb’Allah) might trigger a wave of terror in Arab countries, especially in Iraq and Turkey, because oppressed groups in these countries – such as Sunnis in Iraq and the Kurds in Turkey – will be encouraged by the success of the jihad organizations that are fighting in Syria and by the methods that they used in their battle against the regime.

 

This filthy war taking place in Syria is not a battle of good versus evil, because the regime and the rebels have both used inhumane, illegal and immoral practices. Both sides have committed crimes against humanity by eliminating groups of citizens indiscriminately and both sides have resorted to repressive measures and degrading treatment of helpless citizens.

 

As soon as the violence began, for example, the rebels understood that every time they show up in an open area, the forces of the regime could easily destroy them with merciless determination, so they transferred their activity to the crowded urban and settled areas. As a result, they turned citizens into human shields, without their having any say in the matter, dragging the cities and the settled neighborhoods into a rebellion that they were not at all interested in.

 

The most significant feature of the rebellion in Syria is that it has become a magnet for jihadists from all over the Arab and Muslim world who poured into Syria to take part in the jihad against the heretical ‘Alawites and their tyrannical regime. As of today there are hundreds of combat groups in Syria, and a few tens of them speak non-Syrian Arabic dialects such as Iraqi, Saudi and Moroccan. The linguistic diversity is even more complex because some of the jihadists speak non-Arabic Muslim languages – Turkish, Bosnian, Chechen, Pashtu (Afghanistan), Urdu (Pakistan) and languages from the Caucasus. The problem with having to deal with a multitude of dialects and languages is that the intelligence organizations get a significant amount of information by listening to various means of communication, but their work may have no value, because it is especially the most dangerous groups that speak dialects and languages not understood by the listeners of other countries that exist in the area.

 

Conventional forces too will have a great problem in dealing with jihadi communication methods. The jihadist organizations – contrary to a regular army- use the internet as a means of passing messages, reports and commands, and it is not easy to detect the communications channels they are using in the civilian network. There are organizations that pass coded messages via the internet, and it is difficult to identify, locate and decode them. Also the way the jihadist organizations use other civilian networks such as cellular telephones, makes it difficult to locate their communications and to keep track of their operatives.

 

The intelligence problem becomes even more complicated regarding visual intelligence, where the information is collected from observation points on the ground and in the air. Military intelligence gatherers undergo training on the various types of tanks, cannon, and the rest tools of destruction that a regular army has. But how are they supposed to identify jihadists? According to the type of jeans or T-shirt he’s wearing? According to the type of hiarcut or beard? The problem of identification becomes more difficult regarding vehicles in the service of jihadists, which are ordinary vehicles,indistinguishable from many others. How is a drone or someone who sees the material photographed by the drone supposed to identify the vehicle of a jihadist?

 

A regular army has bases and camps that can be identified and attacked. A jihad organization – in contrast – can live and operate in an ordinary neighborhood, among the people, the elderly and the children. How can the jihadists be identified? How is it possible to attack them without harming others who are not involved in the action?

 

Jihad organizations change their structure frequently: some groups join, others break off and form new organizations, while the objectives are only partly shared. The great structural fluidity of the organizations also poses a challenge to intelligence organizations, because information that was collected last month with great difficulty, may no longer be relevant today because of the splitting or joining of other groups to the organization.

 

Another aspect of the character of jihad organizations is the importance of the leader, the commander. In a military unit, if the enemy succeeds in eliminating the commander and the level of officers that surrounds him, the unit will usually continue to function, albeit partly and not with total effectiveness. In jihad organizations, the leader is very important for the functionality of the organization, but from the operational point of view almost any member of the group can replace him. Therefore the elimination of the head of a jihad organization does not usually cause paralysis and elimination of the organization. The best example of this is the al-Qaeda organization: bin Laden was forced into hiding since the end of 2001 and was ultimately eliminated. Did the organization cease to function when Osama bin Laden – and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri – went underground?

 

But the greatest advantage that a jihad organization has over a regular army is that a jihad organization does not impose upon itself the legal and moral constraints that international law and conventions require from a regular army. Jihadi propaganda enlists the Almighty as a reinforcing player,  while a regular army musters its soldiers by means of a human message – be it national, patriotic or civil.

 

These properties of jihad organizations give them a great advantage over state military organizations, which explains why it is jihad organizations, contrary to what one might expect, that have succeeded in toppling the Syrian police state and bringing down the bloody, cruel and totalitarian regime, which describes the regime of Assad ever since Hafez Assad rose to power in November 1970. All of the tanks, aircraft, missiles, and even chemical weapons, did not avail the regime against the hundreds of militias that were armed with much simpler weapons but imbued with religious belief, that their comrades are willing to die at any moment and therefore the threat of death is ineffectual. On the contrary: the more cruelty that the regime exhibited , the greater the motivation of the jihadists to topple it, even at the cost of their lives.

 

The army of a state fighting jihadist groups must match itself to the situation in the field. When the laws of conventional warfare are not observed by one side, the other side cannot be expected to limit itself to the accepted laws of warfare according to the Geneva Convention. A military that restricts itself to international law and tries to fight against a militia that does not limit itself to this law has lost the battle before it has begun.

 

A state that wants to survive within a jihadist environment must suit its intelligence gathering means  to the conduct of jihad organizations, whether by the internet or civil communications networks. Intelligence gatherers must be flexible regarding dialects and languages that serve the jihad organizations, otherwise they will be deaf and will not be able to track the operatives.

 

A state that wants to survive in the jihadist area must find a way to plant its agents inside the organizations or enlist agents who are already inside. Sometimes it is not possible to obtain true information by any other means, especially regarding information about the intention to carry out terror attacks.

 

In summary, it can be said that the collapse of Syria proves that guerrilla war can be more effective than conventional war, and uncompromising jihad that does not constrain itself to international law can bring down even a cruel and dark regime such as the Syrian regime,  which also does not constrain itself to observe human rights. How can a state that constrains itself to the laws of warfare and the principles of human rights survive against jihad organizations that do not limit themselves in any way?

 

TODAY, THE JIHAD organizations that are fighting in Syria openly declare that “The road from Damascus to Jerusalem is through Beirut.” Meaning that after the elimination of Assad in Damascus they will come to Beirut to send the body of Hasan Nasrallah to the garbage heap of history, and then they will continue their way to Israel in order to eliminate it from the face of the earth as well. Hasan Nasrallah should take them very seriously and Israel also must prepare for a kind of war in the not-too-distant future that it is unfamiliar with.

 

But Israel is not the center of the matter: jihad organizations – some of which are funded with oil monies from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Emirates or Iran – operate openly not only in Syria but also in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Somalia, Mali, and other states. Additional jihad organizations operate clandestinely in almost all other states of the world. No place is immune to jihad organizations, which operate in every arena possible, either overtly or covertly. If the world does not wake up in time to see the danger, Syria will be only the first domino to fall as a a result of the operations of jihad organizations funded by Sunni money from the Gulf or Shi’ite money from Iran.

 

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THE EUROPEAN DILEMMAS ON ARMING SYRIAN REBELS

Jean-Loup Samaan

Al-Monitor, March 27, 2013

 

These last weeks have been marked by a new diplomatic battle within the European Union over the question of lifting the current embargo on arms to Syria in order to raise the level of support to the rebels on the ground. The issue grew in earnest during an EU Summit in Brussels in mid-March when French President François Hollande stated straightforwardly, “We want the Europeans to lift the embargo on the weapons. Since we have to put pressure on and show we are ready to support the opposition, we have to go that far.” London is on the same page, as British Prime Minister David Cameron made similar statements in the days that followed.

The current EU arms embargo on Syria was imposed in May 2011, when the Assad regime was brutally suppressing the first peaceful protests. It included a ban on arms, military equipment and equipment which might be used for internal repression. It had already been slightly amended in February 2013 “to provide greater non-lethal support and technical assistance for the protection of civilians”.

 

The new initiative led by London and Paris aims now at allowing explicitly the transfer of weapons to the rebels. It reflects a significant evolution in the discussion of the support to the rebels. This occurs after another development in Washington as Secretary of State John Kerry pledged the provision of non-lethal aid amounting to $60 million. Until recently, the three Western countries that have been most active on the Syrian crisis had remained cautious, and sometimes opposed, on the issue of arming the rebels. True, there had been some forms of assistance and training provided to the Free Syrian Army, but overall it remained limited. It is worth noting that in practice the British-French initiative would even go further than the Obama’s commitment which includes only nonlethal aid.

 

This potential adjustment in Western policies is the result of the mutation of the Syrian conflict itself. For one year and a half, the Syrian issue was merely discussed within Western circles in reference to concepts such as the ”responsibility to protect.” However as the conflict is lasting and its regional ramifications unfold, the terms of the debate have been significantly altered and it has now become a matter of pure strategic stability. For the Western countries, the first significant change occurred following the shelling of villages and refugee camps in Turkey in late 2012. Ankara asked that NATO augments the air defense capabilities in its country and following the approval by the 28 allies, the US, the Netherlands and Germany deployed six Patriot missile batteries.

 

Still, the position of NATO on Syria is one of containment, meaning that it is limited to the defense of its allies. It is likely to prevent a spillover to the territory of the Atlantic Alliance but by no means can it alter the developments inside Syria. So can we explain this new shift to the offensive that would demand the EU lift its embargo?

 

This diplomatic move may be based on the realization of two intertwined negative trends on the ground in Syria. The first is that for all the tremendous efforts and progress made in the last two years, the Syrian opposition remains fragmented and did not yet reach a decisive military breakthrough against the regime. Specifically, the long-awaited battle of Damascus has yet to start. The second phenomenon Washington, London and Paris are considering very seriously is the radicalization of Syrian rebels and, in particular, the rise of Salafi Jihadism that undermines the efforts of the Syrian National Coalition as a central body. Factions such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Cham are progressively outstripping the “mainstream” opposition in some areas of the country. Already Western intelligence sources estimate that Jabhat al-Nusra is more effective militarily than the FSA.

 

In that sense, the new move by the Americans, the British and the French aims at strengthening the coalition as the primary actor of the revolution. In other words, this policy shift can be understood as a measure to rebalance the forces within the rebellion to insure the leading pole is still the one that can work with the West in the post-Assad era.

 

However, in the EU context, this position has encountered strong opposition from a majority of the member states. It was verified during the last EU Foreign Ministers meeting in Dublin on the 22th and 23th of March. In the press conference, Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger challenged the calculus driving French and British position by arguing, “Nobody can give a guarantee that weapons delivered to the opposition in Syria will end up in the right hands.”

 

While countries such as Austria or Sweden have expressed clear disagreement, Germany seems to be in two minds vis-à-vis the lifting of the embargo. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle acknowledged the “good reasons” that have led Britain and France to push for this change but also emphasized the need for measures of assurance: “We are still reluctant on lifting the arms embargo. We have to help and to support the Syrian people … but … we have to avoid a conflagration and we have to prevent that aggressive offensive weapons come into the wrong hands.”

 

In the meantime, the evolution of the Syrian crisis is not supporting the British-French initiative. The recent nomination by the Syrian National coalition of Ghassan Hitto as interim prime minister, has been met with mixed reactions. Hitto, who lived in the US for the past 30 years, has the difficult task to bring leadership to the fragmented opposition and to enforce the coordination of efforts on the ground in the post-Assad era. His close affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood and the fact that his candidacy was strongly supported by Qatar have led a group of 12 key figures of the National Coalition to suspend their membership to oppose the legitimacy Hitto’s election. It culminated with the resignation of Moaz al-Khatib last week end from the leadership of the Coalition.

 

This new internal crisis within the Syrian National Coalition will logically strengthen the position of those states who argue for sticking to containment. As a result, the diplomatic battle within the EU is likely to go on for the next weeks, if not months, the key date being June 1st when the sanction regime imposed by Brussels on Syria is scheduled for renewal.

 

Jean-Loup Samaan is a researcher in the Middle East Department of the NATO Defense College.

 

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AMERICA INCHES TOWARD WAR IN SYRIA
Doyle McManus

LA Times, Mar. 27, 2013

 

Military intervention in the Muslim world seems to bring the United States nothing but grief. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya: None looks much like a success story now. Yet the Obama administration is edging reluctantly into a civil war in Syria, aiding rebels who are fighting to overthrow the brutal regime of Bashar Assad. And it should: The longer this war goes on, the worse it will be for the U.S. and the Syrians. Already, more than 70,000 Syrians have died; perhaps 4 million have lost their homes. The arguments against intervention are eroding fast. Why? Because all the alternatives are worse.

 

At the moment, Syria's opposition is a mess. Last week, the U.S.-backed president of the rebels' governing council, the Syrian National Coalition, suddenly resigned, complaining that he was being undercut by the more radical Muslim Brotherhood. One side in that squabble (the moderate, Moaz Khatib) was backed by Saudi Arabia, the other (the Muslim Brotherhood) by the rival Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar. Both countries have won influence among the rebels by providing money and weapons. The United States, caught in the middle, has been trying to broker a reconciliation, but without the helpful currency of arms supplies.

 

U.S. restraint hasn't succeeded in stopping the war; it's merely made it more difficult to organize the opposition. Syria's neighbors — rival Arab states, plus Turkey — have funneled aid to their favorite rebel factions; that's been a recipe for division, not success.

 

Meanwhile, on the ground, the radical Islamist Al Nusra Front, an offshoot of Al Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq, has won a reputation as the most effective fighting force on the rebel side, a record that's helping it attract recruits. So the stakes for the United States in this conflict are high. Syria is surrounded by countries that are important to the U.S.: Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. A long sectarian civil war in Syria could spill over into any of them

 

A war that ends with restoration of the Assad regime would be a triumph for Iran and a disaster for the United States. A war that ends with a victory for Al Nusra would be even worse.

 

That's why the Obama administration is still trying to prod the regime and the rebels toward a negotiated truce that would remove Assad from power. But neither side appears ready to negotiate.

 

The administration has taken sides rhetorically, declaring that Assad must go and recognizing the rebels as legitimate players in any new government. It has pledged almost $385 million in humanitarian aid. It has provided communications equipment and training for opposition leaders. And according to recent reports, U.S. intelligence agencies have provided carefully chosen rebel units with military intelligence and training, and helped arrange weapons shipments from suppliers such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

 

One problem with that kind of quiet assistance: Most Syrians don't know about it. Even the most public part of the program, humanitarian aid, doesn't carry "Made in USA" labels. "Everybody [in Syria] asks … 'Why aren't they helping us?'" Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch told a House committee last week. "And that anger was directed particularly at the United States."

 

The arguments against doing more in Syria are familiar. We don't want to close off the possibility of negotiations. Military aid might prolong the war. We can't be sure that aid won't fall into the wrong hands. It might be a slippery slope toward putting boots on the ground. And we're tired, so tired, of wars in the Muslim world.

 

But at this point, military aid to the rebels is more likely to push the government toward negotiations, not foreclose that possibility. Military aid could shorten the war. Yes, weapons could fall into the wrong hands, but that's an argument against providing surface-to-air missiles, not rifles and ammunition.

 

Most important, aid doesn't need to turn into a slippery slope. In the 2011 intervention in Libya, Obama sent U.S. Air Force jets and Navy ships to war, but drew a line against putting boots on the ground, and that line held.

 

It's true that Libya didn't come out well. (What were you expecting, Switzerland?) Today's complaints about Libya forget the alternative at the time: air and tank attacks by Moammar Kadafi against his own cities, just as Assad is doing in Syria.

 

Obama has inched toward more direct intervention. Administration officials have considered options ranging from arms shipments to a U.S.-enforced no-fly zone and attacks on Syria's air force. But action has been agonizingly slow. It looks as if the president wants to make it clear that, whatever he does, it wasn't his first preference.

 

Last week, at a news conference during his visit to the Middle East, he complained about the no-win side of his job. If the United States "goes in militarily, then it's criticized for going in militarily," he said, "and if it doesn't go in militarily, then people say, 'Why aren't you doing something militarily?'"

 

The president's peevishness is understandable; he doesn't need another headache, let alone another war. But indecision is not leadership. It's not even leading from behind. We need to be doing more.

 

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On Topic

 

 

Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.: C. J. Chivers & Eric Schmitt, New York Times, Mar. 24, 2013—With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.

Solution to Syrian Conflict Must Come from the Air: Faisal Al Yafai, The National (UAE), Mar 26, 2013—The skies above Syria still regularly boom with the sound of military aircraft. The cities below still crackle with the sound of gunfire. In the outside world, politicians still bicker about what policy might work best. But inside the country, the concerns of ordinary people are more dramatic: sudden death, queues for food and fuel, the threat of rape, torture and murder.

 

The Syrian Gulf War: Michael Weiss, Now Lebanon, Mar. 27, 2013—The Syrian National Coalition’s assumption of the regime’s seat at the Arab League yesterday accomplished little practically but symbolically it represents a bodkin in Bashar al-Assad’s side. He has now been officially informed that the Sunni Arab world is united against him and is preparing for a future Syria without him.

 

The Free Syrian Army: Elizabeth O'Bagy, Institute for the Study of War, Mar. 2013— Fragmentation and disorganization have plagued Syria’s armed opposition since peaceful protestors took up arms in December 2011 and began forming rebel groups under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army. A lack of unity has made cooperation and coordination difficult on the battlefield and has limited the effectiveness of rebel operations. Download the PDF

As Syria Bleeds, Lebanon Reels: Dexter Filkins, New Yorker, Mar. 25, 2013— Wouldn’t it be ironic if the popular awakening sweeping the Middle East had the unintended effect of undermining the one established Arab democracy? On Friday, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati resigned. His departure followed a stand-off over extending the term of a senior official responsible for internal security and a new national election law, but it had every sign of being sparked by the civil war unfolding across the border in Syria, which has become increasingly sectarian.

 

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Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

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

PASSOVER: JEWISH FLIGHTS TO FREEDOM, RECENT & ANCIENT AND TO RECOVERED JEWISH SOVEREIGNTY, DIGNITY IN OUR LAND

Download an abbreviated version of today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

 

Contents:                          

 

 

 

Passover's Enduring Message of Freedom: Ruth R. Wisse, Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2013—On Monday, millions of children will ask their parents: Why is tonight different from all other nights of the year? Children asking this question in Jewish homes around the world will be told that the Passover festival commemorates the liberation of their people from enslavement in Egypt and celebrates the civilization that emerged from that breakout into independence.

 

The Jewish Exodus from Arab Lands: Rachel Avraham, United With Israel, Mar. 25, 2013—As Jews around the world celebrate Passover and remember their ancestors’ exodus from Egypt, it is also important to remember the modern day Jewish exodus from Arab lands. In 1945, around one million Jews lived in Jewish communities residing in Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Syria and Yemen. Many of these communities predated Islam.

 

The Exodus Enigma: Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 24, 2013—As Passover approaches it may be worth looking once more for extra-biblical evidence of the Exodus. Archaeologists are reluctant to discuss the subject as there is absolutely no external evidence for it, they say. On the other hand the Hebrew Bible is so explicit, and the folk memory is so important to us as Jews, that archaeologists prefer not to get involved. 

 

On Topic Links

 

 

Who are the Forgotten Refugees? : Forgotten Refugees.org

From Egypt to the Gulag: Making Matzot for the Needy: Jeremy Sharon, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 25, 2013

Portuguese Island to See First Seder in Decades: Times of Israel, Mar. 24, 2013

And I Shall Take You to Me for a Nation: Rabbi Yisrael (Kane) Kaniel, B'Ahavat Yisrael, Mar. 22, 2013

Seder 5773 – The Night of the Past and the Future: Shmuel Rabinowitz, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 24, 2013

 

 

 

PASSOVER'S ENDURING MESSAGE OF FREEDOM

Ruth R. Wisse

Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2013

 

On Monday, millions of children will ask their parents: Why is tonight different from all other nights of the year? Children asking this question in Jewish homes around the world will be told that the Passover festival commemorates the liberation of their people from enslavement in Egypt and celebrates the civilization that emerged from that breakout into independence. Families gathered at an orchestrated meal—the Seder—will begin the story by tasting the bitterness of subjection, make their way through debates over interpretations of the event, and culminate in joyful and occasionally (after the designated four cups of wine) raucous song.

 

Nor will the ironies of liberation be lost on households that have laboriously prepared for its re-enactment: No one who observes the exacting requirements of Passover can doubt the disciplining challenges involved in attaining freedom.

 

Our family celebrates Passover with personal as well as historical freight. In the summer of 1940, my parents executed our flight from a fate worse than slavery at the hands of the Soviets and the Nazis who took turns subjugating the Romanian city we escaped, Czernowitz. Every successful getaway like ours was studded with improbabilities that some call miracles.

 

In his recital of the Passover Haggadah (the text that guides the Seder meal), my father put special emphasis on the phrase: "And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt—not by the hands of an angel, and not by the hands of a seraph, and not by the hands of a messenger, but the Holy One, blessed be he, himself, in his own glory and in his own person." My father said we should likewise carry out life's toughest tasks ourselves rather than entrust them to agents. He may have had in mind his own rescue of us and his failure to save members of his family who were murdered.

 

We were never to forget that our timely exit from Europe coincided with the loss of several million others like us. Every year, we include in our family reading of the Haggadah a postwar insert circulated by the Canadian Jewish Congress honouring both those who perished at the hands of the Nazis and those who went down fighting:

 

"On the first day of Passover the remnants in the Ghetto of Warsaw rose up against the adversary, even as in the days of Judah the Maccabee. 'They were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided' [2 Samuel 1:23], and they brought redemption to the name of Israel through all the world."

 

This tribute concludes with one of Maimonides's 13 principles of faith: "I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the messiah—and though he tarry, yet I believe." Participants in our Seder traditionally differ in how deeply they linger over the tarrying and how fervently over the belief. Passover is the first of the Jewish holidays to have broken through ethnic boundaries—at least in America—to become regarded as a paradigm of the freedom story. President Obama has hosted Seders at the White House. An annual cascade of new Haggadahs demonstrates the multiple ways that the festival is nowadays observed and understood.

 

But the most inspiring incarnation of the exodus has been the one that reversed it: the recovery of the Jewish homeland from foreign occupiers after millennia of exile. Not by the hands of an angel and not by the hands of a messenger, but by the self-reliance that their ancestors had practiced for millennia, and by keeping faith with their vow to return to Jerusalem, the settlers of Israel accomplished one of the greatest national feats in history.

 

Jews reclaimed their political independence in the land of Israel in the same decade that witnessed the genocidal slaughter of one-third of their people. They did so not only by mobilizing skills honed through centuries of adaptation to foreign rule but by reactivating powers that were dormant for centuries. Can the legendary crossing of the Red Sea compare with the marvel of several million Jewish migrants and refugees from lands as disparate as Ethiopia and Latvia forging a common, democratic Jewish state? Are the plagues that persuaded Pharaoh to "let my people go" or the miracles in the desert as stunning as Israel's ability to withstand the preposterously asymmetrical Arab aggression against it? The revival of Hebrew from sacral high status into national vernacular is an unparalleled linguistic feat. Entrepreneurship in Israel has won it the title of "start-up nation."

 

The traditional Passover Seder concludes with the pledge, "Next year in Jerusalem," which the British poet William Blake nationalized in the vow not to rest "Till we have built Jerusalem / In England's green & pleasant Land." Yet modern Israel represents an immense human accomplishment that may even go beyond the prophetic vision. Passover today includes a story of national liberation at least the equal of the one in the Book of Exodus that served as its inspiration.

 

Ms. Wisse, a professor of Yiddish and comparative literature at Harvard, is the author of "Jews and Power" (Schocken, 20007).

 

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THE JEWISH EXODUS FROM ARAB LANDS

Rachel Avraham

United With Israel, Mar. 25, 2013

 

As Jews around the world celebrate Passover and remember their ancestors’ exodus from Egypt, it is also important to remember the modern day Jewish exodus from Arab lands. In 1945, around one million Jews lived in Jewish communities residing in Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Syria and Yemen. Many of these communities predated Islam. Jews in Arab states greatly contributed towards their societies. Sasson Heskel, a Baghdadi Jew, was an Iraqi Finance Minister in the 19th centruy, while an Egyptian Jew named Murad Bey helped draft the Egyptian Constitution in the 1930’s and Layla Murad, also an Egyptian Jew, was the great diva of Arabic music during the mid 1900′s. However, in the days leading up to Israel’s independence in 1948, many Arab states grew oppressive towards their Jewish citizens, who had lived beside Arabs since antiquity.

 

From 1947 through 1948, Jews in the Arab Middle East were systematically persecuted, with anti-Jewish pogroms erupting and Jewish property being confiscated. The Iraqi government declared that Zionism was a capital offense; the Syrian government froze Jewish bank accounts; a bomb set off in the Jewish Quarter of Cairo resulted in the death of 70 Jews; and a pogrom in Aden led to the death of 80 Jews, as well as the destruction of countless Jewish homes. As a result of such persecutions, between 1948 and 1972, 820,000 Jews from Arabian countries would become refugees, with 200,000 settling in Europe and the United States, while an additional 586,000 moving to Israel. The descendants of the Jewish refugees from Arab states presently make up around half of the Israeli population.

 

A Haggadah the from the Forgotten Jewish Exodus website includes the following prayer on Passover, “As we hold the bread of affliction, we recall that more than 3,000 years ago our ancestors went forth from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the land of Israel. Many never left the Middle East. Today, we remember not only the bitterness of that slavery, but also the forgotten exodus of one million Jews who fled the Middle East and North Africa in the 20th century. The Jewish people have been living in Egypt and throughout the Middle East for more than 3,000 years. As Jews, we take pride in being the Middle East’s oldest, existing ethnic group.”

 

Upon discussing Jewish contributions to Arab states and the oppression that Jews endured within Arab countries, which ultimately led to their exodus from these lands, it asserts, “We hold the bread of affliction and recall the 135,000 Jews of Iraq who once made up a plurality of the city of Baghdad; the 40,000 Jews of Libya, where today no Jews remain; and the 80,000 Jews of Egypt, many of whom in 1956 received government expulsion orders. Just as the Israelites did not have time to let their bread rise, these modern Egyptian Jewish refugees did not have time to pack their bags. And hundreds of thousands more.”

 

It concludes, “The scars of the past can heal. But justice can only be achieved when peoples and governments in the Middle East recognize the plight of the forgotten million refugees. This year, we pray for the day when justice will be achieved for the Jews of the Middle East and when all peoples of the region will live together in peace and harmony. Amen.” As one Egyptian Jewish refugee, Joseph Abdel Wahed, asserted, “On Passover, it is a Jewish tradition that in retelling the Exodus story we should feel as if we, ourselves, experienced persecution and the Exodus from Egypt. I hope that this year we can also take a moment to experience the modern exodus of Middle Eastern Jews.”

 

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THE EXODUS ENIGMA

Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg

Jerusalem Post, Mar. 24, 2013

 

As Passover approaches it may be worth looking once more for extra-biblical evidence of the Exodus. Archeologists are reluctant to discuss the subject as there is absolutely no external evidence for it, they say. On the other hand the Hebrew Bible is so explicit, and the folk memory is so important to us as Jews, that archeologists prefer not to get involved. It is true that there is no direct evidence, but there is the possibility of approaching the subject obliquely.

 

The biblical record of the whole Exodus episode is one set of miracles after another, from the slaying of the firstborn in Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea to the collapse of the walls of Jericho in Canaan. Moses is heavily involved but it is the hand of God that rules supreme, and attempts to explain the magic rod that cures scorpion bites, the blow that brings water from the rock, the manna that falls from heaven and so on, have all failed in terms of reality. They are all miracles and archaeologists cannot deal with miracles. However there remain a number of themes that can be re-examined in the light of Egyptian history.

 

First, the Children of Israel were in Egypt as slave-workers and specialists in producing and working in mud-brick, under harsh conditions. Secondly, they left Egypt as a scratch army under a scratch general, Moses. And thirdly, they constructed a shrine or tabernacle, the Mishkan, in glorious Technicolor and luxurious detail, all in the middle of a most barren wilderness. Now, there is one period of Egyptian history which can accommodate these three different scenarios.

 

Mud-brick in Egypt was not used for monuments, such as temples and pyramids, which were considered to be worthy of stonework. It was reserved for plain domestic houses, in a process that was both cheap and quick, and it would have been surprising to find great numbers of workers, such as the Israelites, engaged in such work, as domestic buildings were largely constructed by homeowners themselves.

 

But there was one enormous mud-brick project in Egypt that would have required large numbers of semi-skilled workers, and that was the city of Akhetaten (“Horizon of the Aten”). It was the brainchild of the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten, who required a new city as the center of his religious revolution, and needed it quickly. Akhenaten had imposed on his people the new religion of the worship of the one god, the Aten, the disc of the Sun, to the exclusion of the other multifarious gods, and he wanted his new city to be away from the traditional religious centers of Memphis and Thebes so that he could quickly promote his revolutionary ideas without contamination from the old beliefs and their priests.

 

With the help of slave laborers and the army, the main portion of the city was completed in two years, and the final works in another six years. It was the largest mud-brick construction known to us in the Egyptian world and it is probable that the Israelites were conscripted to carry out the work. They had to work hard and fast under insistent taskmasters in the burning heat of the site, later called El Amarna, on the east bank of the Nile, half-way between Thebes and Memphis, yet they had decent housing they were allowed to build for themselves and their families, just to the east of the new city, so they survived and multiplied in numbers.

 

Akhenaten had this city built to a well-ordered plan in record time, but his reforms were not popular, certainly not with the priests and not with the population, who were used to worshiping multiple gods and liked it that way. Thus, when Akhenaten died, only eight years after the city was completed, there was a general evacuation by the inhabitants, who went back to their old villages and took with them some of the wonderfully rich artifacts that the new town had produced. The city was left to the wind and the weather and the blowing sands that covered it until it was exposed by an early 20th-century German expedition that set out from Berlin, financed by the Jewish millionaire philanthropist James Simon.

 

As the population left, so did the workers, the army and the Israelites and, as compensation for their back-breaking work, they took with them precious materials and provisions for their long trek back to their ancient land of Canaan. To ready themselves for a dangerous journey through enemy territory, they formed themselves into an amateur army under the leadership of the amateur general Moses, who was one of theirs, but had been educated in Egyptian ways and had adopted the new religion of one God above all others. And what the Israelites needed on their journey was a shrine, a tabernacle, what their leader later called the Mishkan, where he could communicate with the one God.

 

Now, Akhenaten had been succeeded by one of his sons-in-law, the young Tutankhamun, whose duty it was to oversee the return to religious sanity after the death of his father-in-law, who had died without a son and heir. Tutankhamun was left to regulate the chaos that took place on the death of Akhenaten. But he was powerless to stop the population from leaving the city and, as we know, he himself left for Thebes where he died young, leaving a very rich set of royal treasures in his tomb, but there was no battle-shrine to be found.

 

Every Pharaoh had a battle-shrine, as we know from the case of Rameses II, whose own is shown on the walls of his temple at Abu Simbel, as erected for him at the battle of Kadesh. It is a two-room shrine within a large courtyard, and the inner room of the shrine had a central podium surmounted by two figures with outstretched wings protecting a single deity, which in this case is a non-representational tablet or cartouche.

This battle-shrine is uncannily like the biblical Mishkan described in Exodus 25, even up to the Ark with its two cherubim. From his tomb we know that the young Pharaoh Tutankhamun had a battle chariot, ready to go to war, so he would have had a battle-shrine to go with it.

 

WE MAY speculate that the shrine, which would have been of the finest materials, like all the rest of King Tut’s heirloom, was carried off by the Israelites in their escape from the city. In that way they had a ready-made tabernacle, and were able to have it adapted to their very own Mishkan, by Bezalel and Oholiab, the Israelite craftsmen, in the midst of that barren Wilderness where there were neither precious materials nor luxury furnishings to be found.

 

This scenario, of the Israelites building the mud-brick city of Akhetaten, escaping from it while impounding for their own use the battle-shrine of prince and Pharaoh Tutankhamun, could be equated with the account of the Exodus of the Children of Israel and the construction of the Mishkan, whose description takes up so many chapters of the biblical Book of Exodus.

 

And when would all that have taken place? Akhenaten died about the year 1334 BCE and Tutankhamun in 1325 BCE, so the period of the Exodus would have been between 1330 and 1320 BCE. That could correspond with the biblical date of 430 years after the Children of Israel entered Egypt (Exodus 12:40), which would then be about 1755 BCE, which is some hundred years before the Hyksos ruled Egypt, and it was with them, ancient Jewish historian Josephus claims, the Israelites came.

 

On the other hand it was a hundred years too late for the date of 480 years before the building of the Solomonic Temple (I Kings 6:1). In other words, it was a hundred years too early for one, and a hundred years too late for the other, thus not a bad average to correspond with the two fixed biblical dates for the Exodus.

 

As for the army formed by the fleeing Israelites, this is clearly hinted at in the biblical record, which says that they left Egypt “armed in groups of fifty” (Exodus 13:18). They were counted as men of military age, from 20 years of age and upwards, and they protected the Mishkan by encamping around it in military order by their individual standards, “Degel mahane Yehudah…” flag of the camp of Judah (Numbers 2:3) and so on, tribe by tribe. They were only a scratch army and nearly lost the first war with Amalek but, after Jethro had advised Moses how to form a professional force with trusted chieftains over ranks of ten and fifty, and a hundred and a thousand (Exodus 18:21), they never, as a complete army, lost another battle in Sinai or Transjordan.

 

In conclusion, we can say there was one period in Egyptian history when an Exodus could have taken place. It was after the completion of an enormous mud-brick project, when an opportunity arose for the Israelites to escape, when there was a practical foundation for the elaborate Mishkan of the Sinai Desert, adapted from an Egyptian model, and when there was good reason for the Israelites to form an army and be counted in military ranks and numbers. And if that was indeed the period, then Akhenaten was the Pharaoh of the Oppression and Tutankhamun the Pharaoh of the Exodus.

 

Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg is a senior fellow at the W.F Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, Jerusalem.

 

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On Topic

 

 

Who are the Forgotten Refugees? : Forgotten Refugees.org —The forgotten refugees are Jewish refugees from Muslim lands that: were forced to leave their birthplace due to intimidation from their governments and neighbors or  foresaw the eventual persecution at the hands of the governments of their host states and their neighbors These Jewish refugees, in many cases, were not allowed to sell their property, businesses or goods before departing.  Many Muslim governments profitted from their departure, obtaining in many cases large swaths of land and big businesses. 

 

From Egypt to the Gulag: Making Matzot for the Needy: Jeremy Sharon, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 25, 2013—The grandson of a Gulag prisoner, Avraham ben Avraham Haim, exiled by the Soviet regime to Siberia during the Second World War, has donated 500 boxes of hand-made matzot for soldiers and the poor. The descendants of Avraham, the Golinsky family, decided this year to commemorate a unique act of dedication to the Jewish faith that their grandfather performed in the cruel conditions of a Soviet forced labour camp.

 

Portuguese Island to See First Seder in Decades: Times of Israel, Mar. 24, 2013—Descendants of Jews forcibly converted to Catholicism centuries ago will attend the first seder in decades on the Portuguese island of Madeira off the coast of Africa. Thirteen Jews — some of them Bnei Anousim, the descendants of Portuguese Jews targeted for conversion during the Inquisition — will gather in Funchal, the capital of the archipelago, on Passover eve, according to Shavei Israel, an organization devoted to bringing so-called lost Jews back to Judaism. According to the organization, the seder will be the first recorded Passover feast to take place on the island in centuries.

 

And I Shall Take You to Me for a Nation: Rabbi Yisrael (Kane) Kaniel, B'Ahavat Yisrael, Mar. 22, 2013—As we approach the joyous holiday of Pesach (Passover) and we prepare for the festive seder, we are reminded of the verse in the Torah in which G–d tells the offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, “And I shall take you to Me for a nation” (Shmot 6:7).

 

Seder 5773 – The Night of the Past and the Future: Shmuel Rabinowitz, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 24, 2013—The Pessah Haggada conveys the secret which helped the Jewish nation survive for thousands of years: passing on to the next generation the heritage of the past and the history of how the Jewish nation was created. The message inherent in this is that without a past, one cannot build a future, and that if we do not remember where we came from, we will not know where to go.

 

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Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

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

ARAB SPRING: FROM TRIUMPH TO TRAGEDY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 THE SYRIAN CRISIS, THE ARAB SPRING 

AND OBAMA’S MIDDLE EAST POLICY

Frederick Krantz

 

As the US and the West continue to stand by, Syrian deaths in the now over two-year-long civil war surpass 70,000, a million barely-provided for people are external refugees in the midst of a cold winter, and an additional two million are displaced and dispossessed internally.

   What began as a spontaneous democratic protest against the Assad regime’s brutal oppression has long since turned into a complex confessional-tribal struggle. Rebel Sunni militias, increasingly dominated by Islamists like the al-Qaeda-related al-Nusra fighters with their suicide car-bombings, confront the minority regime’s well-armed Alawite forces and its ever-more-desperate aerial, artillery, and now missile bombing of civilian districts.

   Syria is fast becoming what Thomas Hobbes described in his great Leviathan during the English seventeenth-century civil war, a bellum omnium contra omnes, a desperate, grinding war of all against all. Food is increasingly scarce, medical facilities non-existent; people are living in ruins and caves, and brutal massacres are becoming everyday occurences.

    Indeed, critics and commentators are increasingly envisioning politicide, the destruction of the colonialist-created Syrian state and its reversion to the status quo ante, religiously- and tribally-based Sunni, Shiite and Alawite autonomous districts. (Indeed, even the small Kurdish community in the northeast is now armed and claiming autonomy.)

   As the Russians and Chinese continue to block UN Security Council resolutions while Moscow and Teheran arm and re-supply Assad, the European Union maintains its arms embargo. America’s new Secretary of State, John Kerry—in what the US media are describing as a “major” new step–declared in Turkey on his first regional visit that Washington was now envisioning enhanced ($60 million), but still “non-lethal”,  civilian aid. 

   His declaration went over like a wet balloon with the Syrian National Council, the loose grouping of “internal” rebel militias and “external” anti-Assad groups, desperately seeking anti-tank, anti-missile, and anti-aircraft weaponry.  To the oft-repeated American mantra of “we don’t want weapons to get into the wrong (i.e., Islamist) hands, one SNC leader replied “we don’t care how long [the fighters’] beards are, as long as our women and children are not massacred”.

   With the Arab Spring everywhere—from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya—moving from hope to tragedy, U.S. President Obama has moved away from “leading from behind” (Libya) to  simply not leading at all. (And, as the Benghazi fiasco aftermath [or, better, non-aftermath] indicates, his increasingly clear post-re-election neo-isolationist foreign policy seems impervious to Republican censure or public concern.) 

   As Israel’s confrontation with an Iran increasingly close to nuclear break-out sharpens, American interest, and influence, in the Middle East is at a nadir, a low point not seen since the 1967 Six Days War. While making some positive foreign-policy noises (e.g., “We’ve got your back”, re Israel), substantial US presence is in fact everywhere—from Iraq and Afghanistan to Egypt and Syria—shrinking, along with an American military  severely pressed by budget cuts before the current sequestration disaster.

   To paraphrase the old adage, “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make isolationist”.  Obama may think he can, ignoring the rise of Islamists everywhere,  turn away from the Middle East to focus on expanding his domestic liberal agenda, but–given the unstable nature of that region—he may be rudely surprised.  As another aphorism has it, “You may not be interested in history, but it is interested in you”.

(Prof. Frederick Krantz, Director of the Canadian Institute

for Jewish Research, is Editor of the Daily Isranet Briefing)

PASSOVER — FESTIVAL OF FREEDOM, OBAMA LECTURES ISRAEL BUT WON’T LET POLLARD GO!

Download an abbreviated version of today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

 

Contents:                          

 

 

The Festival of Freedom: Passover, 5773: Baruch Cohen, Mar. 22, 2013—Passover is the festival of Freedom! Gathering around the festive seder table provides a feeling of warmth and sustaining joy. The Haggadah  is the story of a living drama, not the record of a dead event.  When we recite it we are performing an act of remembrance, a unique and personal identification in the here and now!

 

The Buck Stops Here: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 20, 2013—Freedom for Jonathan Pollard is a matter of Israeli national consensus. More than 200,000 Israelis signed a petition calling upon President Barack Obama to bring Pollard with him to Israel, but that didn’t happen.

 

Obama Lectured Israelis, Promised and Applauded Arab Palestinians: Lori Lowenthal Marcus, Jewish Press, Mar. 22nd, 2013—U.S. President Barack Obama gave two speeches on Thursday, March 21, one to Arab Palestinians in a joint press conference with acting head of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, and the other to Israelis at the Jerusalem Convention Center.

 

On Topic Links

 

 

Obama in Jerusalem: Elliott Abrams, Weekly Standard, Mar 21, 2013

The Obama Visit and American Jewry: Isi Liebler, Israel Hayom, Mar. 20, 2013

Bennett: A Nation Cannot Occupy its Own Land: Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post,Mar. 21, 2013

‘Free Pollard’ Hunger-Striker Going Strong: Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 22, 2013

Full Text of Obama's Jerusalem Speech: Jerusalem Post, March 21, 2013

 

 

 

The Festival of Freedom: Passover, 5773

Baruch Cohen

 

In memory of our beloved Malca z”l

 

Passover is a story of hope.

Elie Weisel

 

   Passover is the festival of Freedom! Gathering around the festive seder table provides a feeling of warmth and sustaining joy.

 

   The Haggadah  is the story of a living drama, not the record of a dead event.  When we recite it we are performing an act of remembrance, a unique and personal identification in the here and now!

 

   Historically, the spirit of Passover represents a glorious symbol of the struggle for human dignity, the eternal quest for freedom and justice.

 

   During centuries of adversity, we Jews, have found renewed strength and hope in the Passover story. Every person, in every generation, must regard herself/himself, as having been personally freed from slavery. We renew from our past the strength and confidence to struggle for our final victory, our final aim: Eretz Israel, the State of Israel.

 

  Around the festive seder table the stories we tell recall our long history, and we gain confidence to hold firmly to our conviction that justice and freedom for all women and men will prevail.

 

   The reading of the Haggadah reaffirms our self-confidence and reliance on the god of Israel, and His love of justice and concern for Israel and all humanity.

 

Hag Pesach Sameach!

Happy Passover to the entire House of Israel and to all CIJR supporters and friends..

 

 

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THE BUCK STOPS HERE

 

Editorial

Jerusalem Post, Mar. 20, 2013

 

Freedom for Jonathan Pollard is a matter of Israeli national consensus. More than 200,000 Israelis signed a petition calling upon President Barack Obama to bring Pollard with him to Israel, but that didn’t happen. In the US, 30 national Jewish organizations have issued a pre-Passover appeal to President Obama led by Conference of Presidents leaders Richard Stone and Malcolm Hoenlein, requesting that Obama release Pollard prior to his 10,000th day of imprisonment, on April 8, 2013.

 

After wishing Obama a successful trip to the Middle East, they respectfully and urgently requested that the president “act on the commutation of his sentence to time served before this milestone is reached. Mr. Pollard, whose health has deteriorated, has expressed remorse and regret repeatedly.”

 

Obama’s answer to a question about Pollard in an interview with Channel 2 television last week was troubling and insensitive. He did not seem to be aware of the concern among the Israeli public and US Jewry over the injustice of Pollard’s life sentence, nor of the fear that Pollard’s failing health threatens to end his life after 28 years in prison.

 

On the contrary, Obama responded by reducing Pollard’s plight to that of a common criminal who just wants to get out of jail early. He implied that Pollard was trying to jump the line without following proper procedure.

The president’s response distanced himself from any direct responsibility for Pollard’s fate: He suggested that Pollard should avail himself of the procedures offered by the US justice system which may have “the potential to ultimately release him.”

 

Obama stated that his own involvement is limited by law to observing from a distance to ensure that all prisoners are treated equally, including Pollard. The truth of the matter is quite at odds with Obama’s take.

Pollard’s petition for executive clemency landed on the president’s desk on October 15, 2010. It was presented after Pollard had been in prison for 25 years and had exhausted all legal remedies and procedures.

 

Nine supplemental filings have been added to Pollard’s petition for clemency over the past two years. Each additional filing contained copies of letters from high-ranking American officials urging Obama to commute Pollard’s disproportionate sentence to time served as a matter of justice.

 

Among those calling for Pollard’s release are those who have first-hand knowledge of the case and are familiar with the secret files. They include former CIA director R. James Woolsey, former White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum, former senator and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dennis DeConcini, former US assistant secretary of defense Lawrence J. Korb, and former attorney-general Michael Muckasey. In their opinion, keeping Pollard in prison any longer is intolerable and unjust. Former secretaries of state George Shultz and Henry Kissinger have declared in letters to the president that the people who are best informed about the classified material Pollard passed to Israel favor his release.

 

Pollard’s clemency file contains numerous petitions by American congressmen and senators, public officials, religious leaders, retired judges, law professors and a host of other notable individuals and groups calling for his release as a matter of justice. Bolstering the outpouring of support for Pollard’s release, a recently declassified 1987 CIA damage assessment puts the lie to American allegations that have been used for over a quarter of a century to justify Pollard’s continued incarceration.

 

Now in Israel on his first official visit, President Obama owes a formal response to official appeals by President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for Pollard’s release. But more important, Pollard is owed a response to his petition for clemency, and not a brush-off. Pollard did as the president suggested. He followed procedure. That procedure, once exhausted, led to the petition that is sitting on the president’s desk.

 

It is not only the president’s constitutional right to set Pollard free from his grossly disproportionate life sentence. It is his duty. Pollard is not an ordinary prisoner. He is an Israeli citizen and the victim of a grave injustice that has gone on far too long. Only Obama can set Pollard free and with the same stroke of his pen repair the American system of justice and restore Israel’s confidence in our closest ally. Mr. President, the buck stops with you and the time is now.

 

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OBAMA LECTURED ISRAELIS, PROMISED AND
APPLAUDED ARAB PALESTINIANS

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Jewish Press, March 22nd, 2013

 

U.S. President Barack Obama gave two speeches on Thursday, March 21, one to Arab Palestinians in a joint press conference with acting head of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, and the other to Israelis at the Jerusalem Convention Center.

 

His talks were ostensibly about the state of relations between the different parties, but everyone knew that the animating impulse was to kickstart the “Middle East Peace Process.” Everyone who watched the speeches or read the transcripts, are now desperately looking at the tea leaves to see what just happened. The substance of Obama’s two speeches, the venues in which they were given, the words chosen, the words avoided, taken all together paint a vivid picture of this president and his beliefs about the region.

 

One speech he gave in Ramallah, the acknowledged seat of government of the Palestinian Authority, where he gave a joint press conference with Mahmoud Abbas, the acting leader of the PA.  The other he gave in Jerusalem, not at the seat of Israel’s government, and not directed to Israel’s elected leaders.

 

At the Jerusalem speech the U.S. president spoke directly to the citizenry of Israel, mostly university students – minus those, such as students at a newly credentialed Israeli university located in Ariel – which is situated beyond the “green line” and, apparently, for Obama is beyond the Pale, ironic given the large number of Arabs who are students at that university.

 

The speeches revealed little that is new: Obama believes there should be two states on the land, one, the Jewish homeland, Israel, and the other, a new one for Arab Palestinians, called Palestine.  He criticized Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorist entities, praised what he said was the Palestinian Authority’s transparency, institution-building and security services, and lauded Israeli ingenuity. “Only in Israel could you see the Dead Sea Scrolls and the place where the technology on board the Mars Rover originated,” Obama told the audience in Jerusalem.

 

But there were clear indications of what Obama believes, and what he wants to have happen between Israel and the Arab Palestinians. He believes that the Arab Palestinians, like all “oppressed” people, are yearning for freedom which, when granted, will quell their hatred for their oppressors.  He certainly sees their plight as akin to that of African Americans before the passage of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, abolishing slavery. And he links the idea of slavery and second status-hood of African Americans with Arab Palestinians.

 

And those of us in the United States understand that change takes time but it is also possible, because there was a time when my daughters could not expect to have the same opportunities in their own country as somebody else’s daughters.

 

Obama talked about the Jewish people who were slaves in Egypt, and who had suffered pogroms and genocide and their freedom, expressed in Zionism. “The idea that people deserve to be free in a land of their own,” Obama said, and that once the Jews achieved that, they should know that “responsibility does not end when you reach the promised land, it only begins.”  Suggesting, not too subtly, that it is the responsibility of Israelis to enable Arab Palestinians to enjoy their freedom in their own homeland.

 

Appealing directly to the Israeli people, the U.S. president said

 

The Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and justice must also be recognized.  Put yourself in their shoes – look at the world through their eyes.  It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own, and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day.  It is not just when settler violence goes unpunished.  It is not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; to restrict a student’s ability to move around the West Bank; or to displace Palestinian families from their home.  Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer.  Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.

 

In other words, Obama believes virtually every one of the points of the false narrative that have been spun since Arafat was brought back from Tunisia: the Arab Palestinians are the sole native people, Israeli “settlers” commit violence and that violence goes unpunished, Arab Palestinian farmers are prevented from farming “their” land, the movements of Arab Palestinians are restricted for no reason other than Israeli arrogance and greed, Arab Palestinians have been unfairly expelled from their land and they live under a state of Occupation in their own land, and, ultimately and completely, the land belongs, always belonged and must belong to the Arab Palestinians.
 

When in Ramallah, the U.S. president did not mention any responsibilities for peace owed by his listeners.  Instead, he talked about the recent release of U.S. funds “to help the Palestinian Authority bolster its finances.”  The only discussion of terrorism when speaking in Ramallah was directed at Hamas. As recently as last month, however, a PA terror group claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on Israel from Gaza.

 

Just as the U.S. president told the Israelis that the Arabs deserve their own state and that it is the responsibility of Israelis to give it to them, he made the same points to the Arab Palestinian audience gathered in Ramallah.

 

The Palestinian people deserve an end to occupation and the daily indignities that come with it.  Palestinians deserve to move and travel freely, and to feel secure in their communities.  Like people everywhere, Palestinians deserve a future of hope — that their rights will be respected, that tomorrow will be better than today and that they can give their children a life of dignity and opportunity.  Put simply, the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own.

 

When in Jerusalem, Obama talked about Hizbollah and the Assad regime, and also Iran, as contributing to Israel’s security issues, but nothing about the constant terror attempts by those under the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority, including the Al Aksa Martyrs’ Brigade, which is responsible for more terrorist attacks than any other Arab Palestinian terrorist group.

 

Obama proclaimed in Ramallah that the U.S. seeks “an independent, a viable and a contiguous Palestinian state as the homeland of the Palestinian people.”  To the Jewish crowd in Jerusalem, he said the same thing except he left out the word “contiguous.” And the U.S. president congratulated the PA on its achievements of which he and the U.S. , “as its single largest donor of assistance” is so proud: increased transparency, efficiency, stronger and more professional security forces, and institution building.

 

Obama acknowledged that there are disagreements between the two sides – he referred to them as “irritants”: the “Israelis have concerns about rockets flying into their cities at night,” and for the Arab Palestinians it is “the continued settlement activity in the West Bank area.”   But, he said,

 

My argument is even though both sides may have areas of strong disagreement, may be engaging in activities that the other side considers to be a breach of good faith, we have to push through those things to try to get to an agreement — because if we get an agreement then it will be very clear what the nature of that agreement is: there will be a sovereign Palestinian state, a sovereign Jewish state of Israel.

 

While side-stepping the Arab insistent focus on the problem of settlement building – and this is what gave rise to furious responses in the Arab media – Obama described the core goal in this way: “How do we get sovereignty for the Palestinian people, and how do we assure security for the Israeli people?” He wants a “broad-based agreement that assures the Palestinians that they have a state, and you have a comprehensive approach that ensures Israel the kind of security they need.” Apparently the new buzz words will be “sovereignty” and “security.”

 

The problem, of course, with Obama’s vision is that determining boundaries is a fixed decision – the land doesn’t move, there can’t be any change, while a promise, a commitment, even a sworn statement guaranteeing peace is permeable and depends on the commitment of millions of people – many of whom have rather poor track records – to honor it.

 

And just in case anyone hoped to pretend that the PA understands negotiations happen when both sides to a conflict agree to make substantial compromises in order to achieve a mutually satisfactory goal, that delusion was put to rest.  When Mahmoud Abbas introduced President Obama to the gathered crowd in Ramallah, he spoke briefly but made clear what his intentions are, have been, and will always be.

 

Abbas stated that his people have suffered from “the calamities of the Nakba (the re-birth of Israel),” that the land has belonged to the Arab Palestinian people” since ancient times,” Jerusalem “the Lady of the Cities” must be the capital of the “independent state of Palestine,” that peace cannot come so long as there are “walls, settlements, arrests, denial of refugee rights,” and that the Arab Palestinian people fully intend to join forces with Hamas, thereby “ending the division [to] achieve the Palestinian reconciliation.” Okay then.

 

There was one new hopeful development that the U.S. president hoped to see replicated.  When Obama spoke to the audience in Jerusalem, he revealed that he envisions the future state of Palestine to mirror the current state of Israel in terms of being an open society, committed to education, entrepreneurship, one that is opposed to corruption and is a hub for regional trade:

 

One of the great ironies of what is happening in the broader region is that so much of what people are yearning for – education and entrepreneurship; the ability to start a business without paying a bribe, to connect to the global economy – those things can be found in Israel.

 

Obama described a program run by a U.S. company, Cisco, in Jeruslaem, where “young Arab engineers and Palestinian engineers” are hired because they are so well qualified, so talented.  He went on to share his fantasy – and it is a fantasy – of such a program taking place in “Palestine”:

 

Well, imagine if you have a strong, independent state that’s peaceful — and all that talent that currently is being untapped that could be creating jobs and businesses and prosperity throughout this area.

 

Perhaps people have difficulty imagining that because everyone in the Middle East knows it is not going to happen.  There will be no Jews working in those programs alongside the “well qualified, so talented” Arab Palestinian engineers in “Palestine,” because no Jew will be allowed in the state that he and so many Westerners are trying so desperately hard to help create.

 

So “two states for two people” is likely to be replaced with “sovereignty and security,” the West will continue pretending that: the PA is a non-terrorist political group deserving of continuing U.S. aid, the Israeli government is intransigent and unwilling to make concessions, and it is Israel which bears all responsibility for ensuring that a Palestinian state  – created in its own image – comes into existence as soon as possible. Nothing new.

 

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On Topic

 

 

 

Obama in Jerusalem: Elliott Abrams, Weekly Standard, Mar 21, 2013—President Obama spoke to the Israeli people today, at the Jerusalem Convention Center. His remarks moved his administration toward the pre-Obama consensus views of the Clinton and Bush administrations, indeed at several points echoing Bush’s 2008 speech to the Knesset. But he presented a view of the chances for peace with the Palestinians that was far rosier than reality permits—or than he may really believe.

 

The Obama Visit and American Jewry: Isi Liebler, Israel Hayom, Mar. 20, 2013—[Obama] is arriving at a time when the political influence of American Jewry, the most affluent and powerful Diaspora community in our history, is in decline. This is starkly exemplified by its failure to influence successive Administrations to commute the sentence of Jonathan Pollard whose unprecedented inhumane treatment is now even raising ugly allegations of discriminatory prejudice.

 

Bennett: A Nation Cannot Occupy its Own Land: Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post,Mar. 21, 2013—Reactions from MKs to US President Barack Obama’s speech in Jerusalem on Thursday ranged from excited support to condemnation. Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett mentioned the rockets fired at Sderot in the morning, saying they were the result of the previous withdrawal from land, as were thousands of victims over the years.

 

‘Free Pollard’ Hunger-Striker Going Strong: Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 22, 2013—Over one week after beginning a one-man hunger strike under Jerusalem’s Bridge of Strings to free Jonathan Pollard, Michael Foa, 52, a member of Likud, remains resilient, and has been joined by another protester who is also foregoing food.

 

Full Text of Obama's Jerusalem Speech: Jerusalem Post, March 21, 2013—Shalom. It is an honor to be here with you in Jerusalem, and I am so grateful for the welcome that I have received from the people of Israel. I bring with me the support of the American people, and the friendship that binds us together.

 

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OBAMA EN ISRAËL : AMITIÉS ET RÉALITÉS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Devant les jeunes Israéliens,

Obama plaide pour une paix «nécessaire» et «possible»
RFI, 21 mars 2013

 

«La paix est nécessaire, la paix est juste et la paix est possible» : c’est le message que Barack Obama a voulu délivrer à la jeunesse israélienne dans un discours prononcé jeudi 21 mars devant plusieurs centaines d’étudiants réunis à Jérusalem. Auparavant, à l'issue d'une rencontre avec le président palestinien Mahmoud Abbas à Ramallah en Cisjordanie, le président américain a indiqué «penser que la possibilité d'une solution à deux Etats continuait à exister».
 
Le président américain n’a dévoilé aucun plan de paix, aucune initiative. Mais il a délivré un vibrant plaidoyer en faveur de la paix et de l’établissement d’un Etat palestinien indépendant.« La Paix est possible, je le crois. Je crois que la paix est la seule façon de parvenir à une vraie sécurité », a insisté Barack Obama.
 
« Vous avez la possibilité d’être la génération qui sécurise définitivement le rêve sioniste. Ou vous pouvez faire face à un défi devenant de plus en plus conséquent avec le temps. Si l’on considère la démographie à l’ouest du Jourdain, le seul moyen pour Israël de durer et de prospérer en tant qu’Etat juif et démocratique, c’est l’établissement d’une Palestine viable et indépendante », a-t-il continué, déclenchant un tonnerre d’applaudissements.
 
Israël doit «inverser la tendance de son isolement croissant.» « C’est la vérité. Etant donnée la frustration de la communauté internationale, à propos de ce conflit, Israël doit inverser la tendance de son isolement croissant », a-t-il enjoint.
 
« Et étant donnés les progrès technologiques, la seule façon de protéger le peuple israélien à long terme, c’est l’absence de guerre. Car aucun mur n’est assez haut et aucun Dôme de fer n’est assez fort ou assez perfectionné pour stopper chaque ennemi qui aura décidé de frapper ».
 
Parmi les étudiants, il y a les convaincus, comme Osnat. « Très bien. J’ai beaucoup aimé. Je pense qu’il a parlé de choses très importantes et j’espère qu’il va amener la paix à Israël et la Palestine », confie la jeune femme. Et les sceptiques, comme Avitai : « Je pense qu’il a dit de bonnes choses, mais aussi des choses très naïves. Il vient des Etats-Unis, le plus puissant pays du monde, et il nous dit de faire la paix. Peut-être qu’il a raison mais nous avons essayé. Nous avons donné Gaza et nous n’avons reçu que des roquettes ».
 
Ce vendredi, Barack Obama soit se rendre à Bethléem, en Cisjordanie, où il passera quelques heures.

 

 

Obama en Israël – amitiés et réalités
Freddy Eytan
Le CAPE de Jérusalem, 17 mars 2013

 

Le Président des Etats-Unis sera reçu en grandes pompes et avec tous les égards dus à la politesse et les respects du protocole. C’est naturel et normal pour accueillir le chef de la plus grande puissance de la planète, celui qui nous dicte l’ordre du jour mondial.

Obama a enfin choisi l’Etat juif pour marquer son premier voyage officiel à l’étranger. Il avait manqué le rendez-vous historique lors du précédent mandat et sans doute a commis une erreur stratégique en préférant Le Caire à Jérusalem. Obama n’a pas prédit la chute de Moubarak et la montée des islamistes comme il n’avait pas non plus réfléchi avant d’imposer un gel des implantations et d’exercer de fortes pressions sur le gouvernement Netanyahou. En fait, sa politique au Moyen-Orient a subi un échec cuisant. Au nom d’une politique pacifiste et naïve, Obama a perdu des alliés et a renforcé indirectement le camp chiite et les islamistes de la Tunisie à l’Irak en passant par la Syrie.

Les nominations de John Kerry et de Chuck Hagel ne pourront pas effacer complètement cette faiblesse dans la conduite des affaires. La Turquie par exemple, pourtant membre de l’OTAN, refuse toujours la médiation américaine pour tourner la page dans son contentieux avec Israël.

Certes, les relations bilatérales avec Washington n’ont pas été endommagées et sont mêmes particulièrement bénéfiques sur le plan stratégique et dans le domaine du renseignement, mais Obama, toujours téméraire dans ses raisonnements, vient en Israël pour relancer surtout le processus de paix, en témoigne sa visite prévue à Ramallah. Le gouvernement Netanyahou souhaite la reprise des négociations sans conditions préalables mais doute fortement des intentions sincères du chef de l’Autorité palestinienne. Son double jeu et ses récentes déclarations falsifiant notre Histoire trimillénaire sont criants et tout à fait probants. La proclamation de l’Etat palestinien à l’ONU, contrairement à l’avis des Etats-Unis et sans notre consentement, témoigne aussi mauvaise foi et faiblesse.

En ce qui nous concerne, il ne s’agit pas seulement de faire de nouvelles concessions mais d’aboutir à un accord solide, du moins intérimaire, pour pouvoir écarter le lancement d’une Troisième Intifada encouragée par le Hamas, et de mettre un terme au boycott de l’Etat juif au sein des chancelleries et dans les instances internationales. Personne, ni même Abbas lui-même, ne se fait d’illusions sur la fin définitive des hostilités et sur la signature prochaine d’un accord sur le statut final. Malgré les déclarations et les promesses, aucune réconciliation avec les frères ennemis du Hamas n’est en vue. Ce mouvement des Frères musulmans refuse catégoriquement de reconnaître l’existence même de l’Etat juif !

Pour consolider nos relations avec Washington et obtenir lors de cette visite une meilleure compréhension sur tous les aspects problématiques et sur les raisons de nos divergences fondamentales avec les Palestiniens, nous devrions trouver ensemble des solutions pragmatiques et utiles sur les plans sécuritaires et économiques. Toutefois, ceux qui croient toujours que le règlement du conflit avec les Palestiniens aboutirait immédiatement à la fin de la belligérance dans toute la région sont des irresponsables ou simplement des naïfs.
Comment ignorer aujourd’hui les réalités sur le terrain et toutes les turbulences qui agitent les pays voisins ? Quel rapport y a-t-il avec la chute d’Assad ou les manifestations contre Morsi en Egypte ? Quel lien existe-t-il entre le programme nucléaire iranien et les revendications des Palestiniens ?

Notre amère expérience avec les Accords d’Oslo et le désengagement de la bande de Gaza, ainsi que la générosité de nos précédents chefs de gouvernements, Barak et Olmert, envers Arafat et Abbas, n’ont donné aucun résultat positif. Le refus de gestes audacieux a plongé une grande partie des Israéliens dans le désespoir de ne pouvoir un jour aboutir à une paix viable.   

Dans ce contexte, il est important d’isoler le Hamas et de formuler avec Obama un accord séparé avec l’Autorité palestinienne et la Jordanie. Dans la même veine, et sous la direction des Etats-Unis, il est impératif de former un front stratégique régional qui permettrait à d’autres pays arabes sunnites pro-occidentaux de se rallier, tels que l’Arabie Saoudite et les Emirats du Golfe, riches en pétrole. Cette nouvelle coalition devrait inclure Israël pour combattre ensemble l’hégémonie menaçante de l’Iran mais aussi soutenir un accord séparé en Cisjordanie sous les auspices du roi hachémite.

Pour ceux qui n’ont pas saisi la "nouvelle politique" israélienne 
Stéphane Juffa
menapress.org, 18 mars 2013

 

 
Lorsque des media français se sont jetés sur un édito d’Haaretz qui qualifiait la nouvelle alliance au pouvoir à Jérusalem de "coalition cauchemardesque", ils ont à nouveau instrumentalisé un malentendu. Car ce n’est pas pour Israël – ce qu’ils semblaient insinuer – que la nouvelle association de partis aux affaires est angoissante mais pour son 1er ministre, Binyamin Netanyahu.
 
Pour ce qui concerne l’intérêt de l’Etat hébreu, de ses habitants et de ses voisins, il faudra juger sur pièces, car la composition de l’équipe gouvernementale promet à la fois le pire et le meilleur, tout en se présentant parée des meilleures intentions.
 
A la Ména, nous éviterons d’intenter un procès d’intention au nouveau cabinet – ce qui serait injuste -, et préfèrerons observer sa gouvernance avant de le critiquer. Ce que nous devons dire, en ce lundi durant lequel il reçoit le vote de confiance de la Knesset, est qu’il nous semble composé d’éléments dont les démarches politiques sont, en principe, hautement incompatibles.
 
D’une part, Yesh Atid (il y a un avenir), de Yaïr Lapid, et Hatnouha (le courant), de Tzipi Livni, affirmant vouloir faire évaluer rapidement les discussions avec l’Autorité Palestinienne ; de l’autre, la "Bayt hayehoudi" (le foyer juif) de Naftali Bennett, dont la quasi-totalité des membres et des nouveaux ministres proviennent du milieu de Judée et Samarie.
 
Etrange double évolution au demeurant antithétique, la nouvelle coalition marque simultanément une ouverture à gauche relativement à la précédente : il n’y avait pas de composantes non pointées à droite dans le dernier gouvernement, et un glissement à droite, avec l’arrivée en force dans l’exécutif des cadres du Grand-Israël.
 
Et comme pour annoncer la couleur, Avigdor Lieberman, privé de portefeuille ministériel à cause de son inculpation dans une procédure pénale, vient juste d’avertir que sa formation – partie intégrante du Likoud – fera tout son possible afin d’empêcher la reconduction d’un moratoire sur les constructions en Cisjordanie.
 
Le cauchemar se précise ? Pas si l’on a pris la peine d’observer le comportement de Bennett et Lapid durant les quarante jours de négociations serrées ayant présidé à la constitution de la nouvelle coalition. Le religieux de droite et le centriste hyper laïc ont même fait bloc de manière compacte pour obliger Netanyahu de respecter leurs conditions.
 
Il est vrai qu’à eux deux ils totalisent 31 sièges sur les 68 que compte la nouvelle majorité, et qu’ils ont un intérêt tactique certain à accorder leurs violons.
 
D’ailleurs, lors de discussions entre eux, Bennett a promis à Lapid de ne rien faire pour mettre des bâtons dans les roues d’une éventuelle négociation avec les Palestiniens. De plus, les deux hommes s’entendent sur la nécessité d’imposer la conscription à tous les Israéliens en âge de servir ; ils sont même parvenus – et cela n’était plus arrivé depuis des temps immémoriaux -, à obtenir que les partis ultra-orthodoxes soient privés de ministères.
 
En contrepartie de ses bonnes intentions en matière de politique étrangère, Bennett a reçu de son nouvel ami centriste l’assurance que, dans son nouveau costume de Grand argentier, Lapid l’aidera à établir le mini-empire économique qu’il vise au sommet de l’Etat.
 
Pour y parvenir, Bennett a déjà entrepris ses grandes manœuvres ; il a fait débaptiser le ministère de l’Industrie, du Commerce et du Travail, pour le renommer ministère de l’Economie et du Commerce. Quid de l’industrie et du travail ? Personne ne le sait, mais le chef de file de la Bayt hayehoudi a de l’appétit.
 
Il a placé ses amis du parti, tous des anciens militants du mouvement des implantations, aux postes-clés du logement. Et Nissan Slomiansky, ex-secrétaire général de l’organisation edenniste Gush Emounim (le bloc de la foi), à la tête de la très puissante Commission des Finances du parlement.
 
Question arrangement avec Mahmoud Abbas, cela a plutôt des allures de Mur de l’Atlantique, mais pour faire passer ses réformes radicales, c’est parfaitement adapté. Naftali Bennett ambitionne de s’attaquer aux concentrations d’affaires (trusts), d’augmenter la concurrence pour faire baisser le coût de la vie et, principalement, les prix des appartements.
 
Sa seconde priorité concerne le système religieux ; officiellement, il veut en rendre les services plus accessibles au public. Dans le fond, il entend arracher ce domaine réservé aux partis ultrareligieux, comptant notamment s’attaquer aux procédures de conversion au judaïsme et d’élection des grands rabbins nationaux.
 
C’est peu dire que Shass (11 députés) et le parti du Judaïsme Unifié de la Torah (7) n’apprécient pas. Un journal orthodoxe titrait, en fin de semaine : "Une déclaration de guerre au monde de la Torah", et tous les ministres religieux ont boycotté hier, dimanche, le dernier conseil des ministres du gouvernement sortant.
 
Bennett va créer, dans la foulée, un nouvel organisme qu’il appellera "Administration de l’Identité Juive". Un creuset destiné à concentrer des prérogatives appartenant à d’autres ministères. Les harédi détestent, d’autant plus que le trublion des implantations est bien décidé à leur faire porter l’uniforme ou à les soumettre au service civil obligatoire.
 
Cela annonce un été chaud ; on pourrait revoir six cent mille toques noires envahir le cœur de Jérusalem pour montrer aux athées leur façon de penser. Cela se produira dès que le nouveau cabinet tentera de réduire les allocations aux écoles talmudiques ou aux familles nombreuses.
 
Mais le sioniste-religieux Naftali Bennett s’est donné les pouvoirs pour agir, lui, l’ex-membre du commando de l’état-major (sayeret matkal) durant son service militaire, l’un des meilleurs de la planète à ce qu’il paraît.
 
Il faut, aussitôt qu’il aura prêté serment, s’adresser à lui de la façon suivante : M. le ministre de l’Economie et du Commerce, des Services religieux, de Jérusalem, et des Affaires de la Diaspora. Avec interdiction de reprendre son souffle entre les titres !
 
Ceux qui considèrent que le nouveau gouvernement ne représente qu’un changement dans la continuité n’entendent pas grand-chose en matière de politique israélienne. On peut en effet parler d’une révolution semblable à celle de 1977, date à laquelle le Likoud avait remplacé les Travaillistes à la gouvernance de l’Etat hébreu.
 
D’abord avec cet échange de religieux aux manettes du régime : exit les docteurs de la foi barbus, issus des cours de grands sages, d’inspiration antisioniste et sans réelles aspirations politiques ; bonjour les partisans du Grand-Israël, hyper politisés, sionistes exerçant une religion "israéliennisée".
 
Au revoir aussi à Sa majesté Binyamin Netanyahu, oint par Ovadia Yossef et le rabbin Porush, et à son pouvoir de droit divin. Arrivée de Monsieur Bibi, dont le trône constitutionnel dépend du bon vouloir de Lapid, Bennett et Lieberman. Chacun disposant d’assez de députés à lui seul pour défaire le cabinet nouveau-né et provoquer des élections anticipées. 
 
Qu’adviendra-t-il, par exemple, si Avigdor Lieberman est condamné par la justice ? Ce lundi, le portefeuille des Affaires Etrangères n’a pas été attribué, dans l’attente du verdict. Et si le procès s’éternise ? Combien de temps Israël peut-elle fonctionner sans ministre des AE ? Et le risque existe de voir un Lieberman condamné et fâché quitter la scène avec ses onze députés.
 
Le royaume d’Israël tiendra à pas grand-chose ces prochains mois. Avec des parlementaires orthodoxes qui ne se gêneront pas le moins du monde pour user le gouvernement avec l’opposition de gauche et les partis arabes ; cela annonce des sessions… heu… sportives.
 
Résultat de la révolution, l’enterrement de première classe du "camp national" au parlement. C’était cette majorité quasi-automatique, qui unissait l’extrême droite, le Likoud et les orthodoxes sur les questions majeures.
 
Désormais, il faudra convaincre et discuter chaque projet point par point. Pour les observateurs borgnes qui ont aussi manqué cela, Israël est entrée dans ce qu’on appelle, à l’ombre du mur du temple de Salomon, la "nouvelle politique".
 
Celle des jeunes loups qui ne se situent à priori dans la poche de personne, et que l’on n’achète pas en rallongeant un budget pour les yeshivas, en repoussant aux calendes grecques la décision sur la conscription obligatoire, ou en refusant d’aborder la question du mariage civil.
 
Bennett et Lapid sont jeunes et très bien conseillés par des experts ayant pour noms Shalom Shlomo (Bennett), Hillel Kobrinski ou Uri Shani (Lapid). Durant les négociations en vue de former la coalition, ils ont fait suer Netanyahu à grosses gouttes, parfaitement conscients de leur puissance et n’abandonnant aucune exigence à leur portée.
 
L’ancien-nouveau 1er ministre craint à raison les nouveaux carnassiers. Ils ont pour eux la jeunesse et l’énergie, ils incarnent la virginité politique et ils ont les faveurs du peuple.
 

Chavez, Khadir, et Rose : Même combat
Laurent Proulx
Le Prince Arthur, 19 mars 2013

 

Dans cet article, j’ai l’intention de comparer certains gestes posés par Amir Khadir, Hugo Chavez et Paul Rose. Il n’est pas question ici de faire un exercice démagogique sur la violence, mais bien d’illustrer une corrélation au niveau de la philosophie sous-jacente de ces actes.

 

Pour Amir Khadir : Son apparition dans une manifestation anti-Israël devant un commerçant de chaussures juif de la rue St-Denis.

 

Pour Hugo Chavez : Faire arrêter 2 journalistes pour avoir écrit un article qui remettait en cause son leadership.

 

Pour Paul Rose : Le kidnapping de Pierre Laporte. Compte tenu des multiples théories qui circulent sur la mort du ministre Laporte, je préfère que nous nous en tenions à l’enlèvement, un fait avéré et incontestable.

 

Il n’y a pas de liens apparents entre ces gestes posés par les acteurs susmentionnés. Par contre, ma prétention est à l’effet qu’une certaine philosophie similaire les relie. Ce mode de pensée se résume en une phrase toute simple : ‘’ la fin justifie les moyens’’. Pour ces gens, le fait qu’une cause soit noble (à leur avis) justifie certains écarts de conduite. Une sorte de mal nécessaire.

Pour Amir Khadir, c’est un mal nécessaire de priver un honnête marchand de ses revenus du samedi pour faire passer un message en ce qui concerne la politique étrangère israélienne. Pour Chavez, la poursuite de son œuvre pour le bien du peuple justifie de faire taire les dissidents. En ce qui a trait à Paul Rose, la libération du peuple du Québec était bien plus importante que la vie d’un seul homme.

 

Ces personnages ont fait l’erreur de se questionner sur les moyens pour faire passer le message plutôt que sur le message en soi. Si vous êtes rendus à kidnapper des gens, à commettre des méfaits ou à emprisonner arbitrairement des journalistes, c’est peut-être le message qui est le problème…

 

Je crois qu’il est important de spécifier que les frères Rose ne se sont pas levés un beau matin pour aller enlever Pierre Laporte au hasard. Le kidnapping de Laporte est le point culminant d’une longue escalade de moyens étalée sur plusieurs années et qui s’est amorcée par des gestes anodins (vandalisme, méfaits publics etc.). Toutefois, ils ont toujours été légitimés ou amoindris par cette même philosophie qui unit les acteurs dont je vous parle dans cet article :

Pour eux, la fin justifie les moyens. À mon sens, cette philosophie est l’ingrédient de base des évènements malheureux de l’humanité.
 

IRAQ WAR TEN YEARS ON: AN INITIALLY POPULAR WAR, NOW MUCH DEBATED, MALIGNED AND CONTAMINATED WITH MYTHS

Download an abbreviated version of today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

 

Contents:                          

 

 

 

When Everyone Agreed About Iraq: Stephen F. Knott, Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2013—At 5:34 a.m. on March 20, 2003, American, British and other allied forces invaded Iraq. One of the most divisive conflicts in the nation's history would soon be labeled " Bush's War." The overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime became official U.S. policy in 1998, when President Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act—a bill passed 360-38 by the House of Representatives and by unanimous consent in the Senate.

 

Ten Years Ago, an Honorable War Began With Wide Support: Fouad Ajami, Real Clear Politics, March 20, 2013—Nowadays, few people step forth to speak well of the Iraq War, to own up to the support they gave that American campaign in the Arab world. Yet Operation Iraqi Freedom, launched 10 years ago this week, was once a popular war

 

A Decade Later and the Iraq Debate is Still Contaminated With Myths: Peter Feaver, Foreign Policy, March 17, 2013—Here on the 10-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, I wonder how long it will be before we can discuss the war free from the contamination of myths. It may be sooner than many myth-purveyors expect.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

 

The What-if's of Iraq: Max Boot, LA Times, Mar. 19, 2013
Why We Were in Iraq: David Horowitz, Front Page Magazine, Mar. 21, 2013

10 Years on, Paul Wolfowitz Admits U.S. Bungled in Iraq:Toby Harnden, Real Clear Politics,  Mar. 18, 2013

Arguing Iraq—Ten Years Later a Symposium: Anne-Marie Slaughter, Paul Berman, Leon Wieseltier, Michael Ignatieff, David Greenberg, James P. Rubin, David Rieff, And John B. Judis, The New Republic, Mar. 20, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

WHEN EVERYONE AGREED ABOUT IRAQ   
Stephen F. Knott

Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2013

 

At 5:34 a.m. on March 20, 2003, American, British and other allied forces invaded Iraq. One of the most divisive conflicts in the nation's history would soon be labeled " Bush's War." The overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime became official U.S. policy in 1998, when President Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act—a bill passed 360-38 by the House of Representatives and by unanimous consent in the Senate. The law called for training and equipping Iraqi dissidents to overthrow Saddam and suggested that the United Nations establish a war-crimes tribunal for the dictator and his lieutenants.

 

The legislation was partly the result of frustration over the undeclared and relatively unheralded "No-Fly Zone War" that had been waged since 1991. Saddam's military repeatedly fired on U.S. and allied aircraft that were attempting to prevent his regime from destroying Iraqi opposition forces in northern and southern Iraq.

 

According to former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Hugh Shelton, in 1997 a key member of President Bill Clinton's cabinet (thought by most observers to have been Secretary of State Madeleine Albright) asked Gen. Shelton whether he could arrange for a U.S. aircraft to fly slowly and low enough that it would be shot down, thereby paving the way for an American effort to topple Saddam. Kenneth Pollack, a member of Mr. Clinton's National Security Council staff, would later write in 2002 that it was a question of "not whether but when" the U.S. would invade Iraq. He wrote that the threat presented by Saddam was "no less pressing than those we faced in 1941."

 

Radicalized by the events of 9/11, George W. Bush gradually concluded that a regime that had used chemical weapons against its own people and poison gas against Iran, invaded Iran and Kuwait, harboured some of the world's most notorious terrorists, made lucrative payments to the families of suicide bombers, fired on American aircraft almost daily, and defied years of U.N. resolutions regarding weapons of mass destruction was a problem. The former chief U.N. weapons inspector, an Australian named Richard Butler, testified in July 2002 that "it is essential to recognize that the claim made by Saddam's representatives, that Iraq has no WMD, is false."

 

In the U.S., there was a bipartisan consensus that Saddam possessed and continued to develop WMD. Former Vice President Al Gore noted in September 2002 that Saddam had "stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country." Then-Sen. Hillary Clinton observed that Saddam hoped to increase his supply of chemical and biological weapons and to "develop nuclear weapons." Then-Sen. John Kerry claimed that "a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his [Saddam's] hands is a real and grave threat to our security."

 

Even those opposed to using force against Iraq acknowledged that, as then-Sen. Edward Kennedy put it, "we have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing" WMD. When it came time to vote on the authorization for the use of force against Iraq, 81 Democrats in the House voted yes, joined by 29 Democrats in the Senate, including the party's 2004 standard bearers, John Kerry and John Edwards, plus Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Sen. Joe Biden, Mrs. Clinton, and Sens. Harry Reid, Tom Harkin, Chris Dodd and Jay Rockefeller. The latter, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, claimed that Saddam would "likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years." Support for the war extended far beyond Capitol Hill. In March 2003, a Pew Research Center poll indicated that 72% of the American public supported President Bush's decision to use force.

 

If Mr. Bush "lied," as the common accusation has it, then so did many prominent Democrats—and so did the French, whose foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, claimed in February 2003 that "regarding the chemical domain, we have evidence of [Iraq's] capacity to produce VX and yperite [mustard gas]; in the biological domain, the evidence suggests the possible possession of significant stocks of anthrax and botulism toxin." Germany's intelligence chief August Hanning noted in March 2002 that "it is our estimate that Iraq will have an atomic bomb in three years." According to interrogations conducted after the invasion, Saddam's own generals believed that he had WMD and expected him to use these weapons as the invasion force neared Baghdad.

 

The war in Iraq was authorized by a bipartisan congressional coalition, supported by prominent media voices and backed by the public. Yet on its 10th anniversary Americans will be told of the Bush administration's duplicity in leading us into the conflict. Many members of the bipartisan coalition that committed the U.S. to invade Iraq 10 years ago have long since washed their hands of their share of responsibility. We owe it to history—and, more important, to all those who died—to recognize that this wasn't Bush's war, it was America's war.

 

Mr. Knott, a professor of national security affairs at the United States Naval War College.

 

 

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TEN YEARS AGO, AN HONORABLE WAR BEGAN WITH WIDE SUPPORT

Fouad Ajami

Real Clear Politics, March 20, 2013

 

Nowadays, few people step forth to speak well of the Iraq War, to own up to the support they gave that American campaign in the Arab world. Yet Operation Iraqi Freedom, launched 10 years ago this week, was once a popular war. We had struck into Afghanistan in 2001 to rout al Qaeda and the terrorists' Taliban hosts—but the 9/11 killers who brought ruin onto American soil were not Afghan. They were young Arabs, forged in the crucible of Arab society, in the dictators' prisons and torture chambers. Arab financiers and preachers gave them the means and the warrant for their horrific deeds.

 

America's previous venture into Iraq, a dozen years earlier, had been a lightning strike: The Iraqi dictator was evicted from Kuwait and then spared. Saddam Hussein's military machine was all rust and decay by 2003, but he swaggered and let the world believe that he had in his possession a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. The Arab redeemer, as he had styled himself, lacked the guile that might have saved him. A great military expedition was being readied against him in London and Washington, but he gambled to the bitter end that George W. Bush would not pull the trigger.

 

On the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom—the first bombs fell on March 19—well over 70% of the American public supported upending the Saddam regime. The temptation to depict the war as George W. Bush's and Dick Cheney's is convenient but utterly false. This was a war waged with congressional authorization, with the endorsement of popular acceptance, and with the sanction of more than a dozen United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for Iraq's disarmament.

 

Those unburdened by knowledge of the ways of that region would come to insist that there had been no operational links between the Iraqi despot and al Qaeda. These newborn critics would insist on a distinction between secular terrorism and religious terrorism, but it was a distinction without a difference.

 

The rationale for the war sustained a devastating blow in the autumn of 2004 when Charles Duelfer, the chief U.S. arms inspector for Iraq, issued a definitive report confirming that Saddam had possessed no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. The war now stood on its own—and many of its former supporters claimed that this wasn't what they had signed up for. Yet the "architects" of the war could not pull the plug on it. They soldiered on, offering a new aim: the reform and freedom of Iraq, and the example of a decent Iraq in the "heart of the Arab world."

 

There were very few takers for the new rationale. In the oddest of twists, American liberalism now mocked the very idea that liberty could put down roots in an Arab-Muslim setting. Nor were there takers, among those watching from lands around Iraq, for the idea of freedom midwifed by American power. To Iraq's east lay the Iranian despotism, eager to thwart and frustrate the American project. To the west in Syria there was the Baath dictatorship of the House of Assad. And beyond there was the Sunni Arab order of power, where America was despised for giving power to Shiites. For a millennium, the Shiite Arabs had not governed, and yet now they ruled in Baghdad, a city that had been the seat of the Islamic caliphate.

 

A stoical George W. Bush held the line amid American disaffection and amid the resistance of a region invested in the failure of the Iraq campaign. He doubled down with the troop "surge" and remained true to the proposition that liberty could stick on Arab soil.

 

There is no way of writing a convincing alternative history of the region without this war. That kind of effort is inherently speculative, subject to whim and preference. Perhaps we could have let Saddam be, could have tolerated the misery he inflicted on his people, convinced ourselves that the sanctions imposed on his regime were sufficient to keep him quarantined. But a different history played out. It delivered the Iraqis from a tyranny that they would have never been able to overthrow on their own.

 

The American disappointment with Iraq helped propel Barack Obama to power. There were strategic gains that the war had secured in Iraq, but Mr. Obama had no interest in them. Iraq was the "war of choice" that had to be brought to a "responsible close," he said. The focus instead would be on that "war of necessity" in Afghanistan.

 

A skilled politician, Mr. Obama made the Iraqi government an offer meant to be turned down—a residual American force that could hardly defend itself, let alone provide meaningful protection for the fledgling new order in Baghdad. Predictably, Iraq's rulers decided to go it alone as 2011 drew to a close. They had been navigating a difficult course between Iran and the U.S. The choice was made easy for them, the Iranian supreme leader was next door, the liberal superpower was in retreat.

 

Heading for the exits, Mr. Obama praised Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as "the elected leader of a sovereign, self-reliant and democratic Iraq." The praise came even as Mr. Maliki was beginning to erect a dictatorship bent on marginalizing the country's Kurds and Sunni Arabs and even those among the Shiites who questioned his writ.

 

Two weeks ago, Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, issued his final report, called "Learning from Iraq." The report was methodical and detailed, interspersed with the testimonies of American and Iraqi officials. One testimony, by an Iraqi technocrat, the acting minister of interior, Adnan al-Asadi, offered a compelling image: "With all the money the U.S. has spent, you can go into any city in Iraq and you can't find one building or project built by the U.S. government. You can fly in a helicopter around Baghdad or other cities, but you can't point a finger at a single project that was built and completed by the United States."

 

It was no fault of the soldiers who fought this war, or of the leaders who launched it, that their successors lacked the patience to stick around Iraq and safe keep what had been gained at an incalculable cost in blood and treasure. 

 

 

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A DECADE LATER AND THE IRAQ
DEBATE IS STILL CONTAMINATED WITH MYTHS

Peter Feaver

Foreign Policy, March 17, 2013

 

Here on the 10-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, I wonder how long it will be before we can discuss the war free from the contamination of myths. It may be sooner than many myth-purveyors expect….For my part, the myths that get thrown at me most often have to do with why the war happened in the first place. Here are five of the most pervasive myths:

 

1. The Bush administration went to war against Iraq because it thought (or claimed to think) Iraq had been behind the 9/11 attacks. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the Bush Administration did explore the possibility that Hussein might have collaborated with al Qaeda on the attacks. Vice President Dick Cheney (along with some officials in the secretary of defense's office) in particular believed this hypothesis had some merit, and in the early months gave considerable weight to some tantalizing evidence that seemed to support it. However, by the fall of 2002 when the administration was in fact selling the policy of confronting Hussein, the question of a specific link to 9/11 was abandoned and Cheney instead emphasized the larger possibility of collaboration between Iraq and al Qaeda. We now know that those fears were reasonable and supported by the evidence captured in Iraq after the invasion.  This has been documented extensively through the work of the Conflict Records Research Center (CRRC), which examined the captured files of the Hussein regime. A 2012 International Studies Association panel sponsored by the CRRC on "Saddam and Terrorism" was devoted to this topic and spent quite a bit of time demonstrating how those who insist that there were no links whatsoever simply rely on a poorly worded sentence referencing "no smoking gun" of a "direct connection" in the executive summary of the 2007 "Iraqi Perspectives Project – Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Documents" report and ignore the evidence of links and attempted connections uncovered in the report itself as well as subsequent work by the project.

 

2. The Bush administration went to war against Iraq because it wanted to forcibly democratize Iraq. The administration was, in the end, committed to using force to defend the democratization project in Iraq but this myth has the logical sequence out of order. The correct sequence, as Leffler and myriad memoirs and contemporaneous reporting demonstrate, is this: (1) Bush was committed to confronting Iraq because of the changed risk calculus brought about by 9/11, which heightened our sensitivity to the nexus of WMD and terrorism (believing that state sponsors of terrorism who had WMD would be a likely pathway by which terrorist networks like al Qaeda could secure WMD); (2) Bush was also committed not to making the mistake of Desert Storm, namely stopping the war with Hussein still in power and concluded that confronting Hussein must end with either full capitulation by Hussein or regime change through war; (3) given regime change, the best option for the new Iraq was one based on pluralism and representative government rather than a "man on horseback" new dictator to take Hussein's place.  To be sure, the Bush administration greatly underestimated the difficulty of the democratization path, but democratization was not the prime motivation — confronting the WMD threat was. Democratization was the consequence of that prime motivation.

 

3. The "real" motivation behind the Iraq war was the desire to steal Iraqi oil, or boost Halliburton profits, or divert domestic attention from the Enron scandal, or pay off the Israel lobby, or exact revenge on Hussein for his assassination attempt on President George H. W. Bush. These conspiracy theories are ubiquitous on the far left (and right) fringes, and some of them were endorsed by mainstream figures such as President Obama himself. All of them seem impervious to argument, evidence, and reason. The absence of evidence is taken as proof of the strength of the conspiracy. Contrary evidence — eg., that Israel was more concerned about the threat from Iran than the threat from Iraq — is dismissed.  Mel Leffler's lecture on Iraq is a bracing tonic of reason that rebuts many of these nutty charges, but I suppose true believers will never be convinced.

 

4. What Frank Harvey calls the "neoconism" myth — that the Iraq war was forced upon the country by a cabal of neoconservatives, who by virtue of their political skill and ruthless disregard for truth were able to "manipulate the preferences, perceptions and priorities of so many other intelligent people…" who otherwise would never have supported the Iraq war. Frank Harvey painstakingly reconstructs the decision process in 2002 and documents all of the ways that the Bush administration took steps contrary to the "neoconism" thesis — eg., working through the United Nations and seeking Congressional authorization rather than adopting the unilateralist/executive-only approach many Iraq hawks were urging. (Leffler makes similar points in his lecture). Harvey goes on to make an intriguing case that had Al Gore won the election in 2000, he would have likely authorized the Iraq war just as Bush did. Harvey has not fully convinced me of the latter, but he usefully rebuts much sloppy mythologizing about Gore's foreign policy views, documenting how Gore was, in fact, the most hawkish of officials on Iraq in the Clinton administration. At a minimum, Harvey proves that the Iraq war owed more to the Clinton perspective than it did to then-candidate George W. Bush's worldview as expressed during the 2000 campaign. The neoconism myth serves a politically useful function of fixing all blame on a specific group of Republicans, but, as Harvey shows, the truth is not quite so simplistic.

 

5. Bush "lied" in making the case for war. I have addressed this myth before. It is a staple of the anti-Iraq/anti-Bush commentary — and not just of the pseudonymous trolls in blog comment sections. John Mearsheimer, one of the most influential security studies academics, has written a book built around the claim that leaders regularly lie and that Bush in particular lied about Iraq. Mearsheimer claims "four key lies," each one carefully rebutted by Mel Leffler.

 

    The first is the question of links between Iraq and al Qaeda. As I noted above, while the Iraq files contain no "smoking gun" of an active operational link, the record includes ample evidence of overtures originating from either side — each pursuing precisely the kind of enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend alliance of convenience that Bush worried about.

 

    The second is the Bush administration statements of certainty about Iraq's WMD programs. It turns out the Bush administration officials were wrong on many of those particulars and should have been less certain about how they were reading the intelligence, but there is no compelling evidence that they knew they were reading the intelligence incorrectly, which is what is logically required to prove the charge of "lying" rather than being "mistaken."

 

    The third is the charge that Bush claimed Saddam was behind the attacks of 9/11. Here Mearsheimer ignores the explicit and repeated explanation by President Bush (and countless administration figures) about what they meant — namely that the links they saw were (i) how 9/11 had changed their risk calculus and (ii) how terrorist groups and states sponsors of terror should be treated as part and parcel of the same war. Again, the Bush administration may or may not have been wrong to view things that way but these are disputes of reasoning and policy, not fact.

 

    The fourth is the charge that Bush "lied" about sincerely pursuing a diplomatic solution short of war in 2002-2003. In fact, Bush was committed to a final resolution of WMD issue, which he believed would require either abject capitulation by Hussein or forcible regime change. Bush was not open to a wide range of face-saving and half-way diplomatic measures, but he never claimed to be. In other words, Bush was not willing to accept diplomatic solutions that others might have accepted, but he did go to great lengths to secure the diplomatic solution he was willing to accept but Saddam was not.

 

When one examines the historical record more fairly, as Leffler does, the "lying" myth collapses. This doesn't absolve the Bush administration of blame, but it does mean that those who allege "lying" are themselves as mistaken as are the targets of their critique.

 

All of these myths add up to the uber-myth: That the arguments made in favor of the Iraq war were all wrong and the arguments made against the Iraq war were all right. Sometimes this is recast as "those who supported the Iraq war were always wrong and those who opposed the Iraq war were always right." Of course, many of the arguments made in favor of the Iraq war were wrong.  Hussein had not yet made by 2002 the progress in reviving his WMD programs that most intelligence services thought he had made. Many specific claims about specific WMD programs turned out to be not true.

 

On the other hand, many of the arguments made by those who opposed the Iraq war turned out not to be correct, either.  For instance, Steve Walt cites favorably a New York Times advertisement paid for by a group of academics (virtually all of whom I consider to be friends, by the way). Some of their arguments were prescient, more prescient than the contrary claims by war supporters  — the warning about the need to occupy Iraq for many years, for example — but others not so much. It turns out, for instance, that there is considerable evidence of Iraq-al Qaeda overtures and attempted coordination, precisely what the Bush administration worried about. Likewise, contrary to what the war critics warned, neither Iraq's arsenal of chemical and biological weapons nor their skill at urban warfare posed much of an obstacle to the invasion — of course, insurgency tactics such as urban warfare did pose serious obstacles to the occupation and reconstruction phase of the conflict.

 

Moreover, Walt and the others he cites favorably almost to a person opposed the surge in 2007, and while some of them now admit that they were wrong about this others still cling to the thoroughly rebutted view that the surge was irrelevant to the change in Iraq's security trajectory.…The point is not that Walt and others were fools or crazy to doubt that the surge would work — on the contrary, they were squarely within the mainstream of conventional wisdom at the time. Rather, the point is that neither side in the Iraq debate has had a monopoly on wisdom.

 

I know I haven't had a monopoly on wisdom either and, indeed, my own personal views on Iraq have evolved over time. I opposed putting the Iraq issue on the front-burner in the 2001-2002 time frame and refused to sign a petition arguing for that because I thought the higher priority involved chasing AQ out of ungoverned areas. When the Bush administration did put the Iraq issue on the front-burner over the summer of 2002, I found the arguments of Bush opponents to be over-drawn and unconvincing — in particular, the anti-Bush position seemed not to take seriously enough the fact that the U.N. inspections regime had collapsed nor that the sanctions regime was in the process of collapsing — and so I found myself often critiquing the critics. I found the Bush argument that Hussein was gaming the sanctions and poised to redouble his WMD efforts when the sanctions finally collapsed to be a more plausible account of where things were heading absent a confrontation (and as we now know from the interviews with Hussein after his capture that was exactly what he was planning to do). 

 

However, as the march to war accelerated in February 2003, I was one of those who recommended  to the administration that the deadline be extended in the hopes of getting yet another UNSC resolution, one that would provide a united international front at the outset of the war. The administration rejected that course, and, in retrospect, I doubt whether what I was calling for was achievable.

 

Since the war started, I have had my fair share of criticisms for how the war has been handled, but I have always supported the position that having invaded, we now had to succeed. I supported the surge, and I opposed the Obama administration's decision to walk away from the commitment for a small stay-behind force that would be a makeweight in internal and regional balances of power.

 

I feel more confident about the positions I took on Iraq later in the war than the ones at the outset. But more importantly, I am increasingly confident that the judgment of history will be more nuanced and less simplistic than the judgment of contemporary critics of the war. And, hopefully, less contaminated by myth.

 

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On Topic

 

 

The What If's of Iraq: Max Boot, LA Times, Mar. 19, 2013—It is entirely fitting that the invasion of Iraq began, 10 years ago Tuesday [Mar. 19], based on faulty intelligence: Our actions throughout the war were marred by miscalculation and wishful thinking time and again.

 

Why We Were in Iraq: David Horowitz, Front Page Magazine, Mar. 21, 2013—Just before American and British troops entered Iraq to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein, a videotape of Osama bin Laden was aired on Al-Jazeera TV. The tape was aired on February 12, 2003, and in it bin Laden said: “The interests of Muslims and the interests of the socialists coincide in the war against the crusaders.”

 

Arguing Iraq—Ten Years Later a Symposium: Anne-Marie Slaughter, Paul Berman, Leon Wieseltier, Michael Ignatieff, David Greenberg, James P. Rubin, David Rieff, And John B. Judis, The New Republic, Mar. 20, 2013—Ten years ago this week, the U.S. began its invasion of Iraq, ostensibly in search of "weapons of mass destruction." Today, the American war in Iraq is over, but the argument about it still hovers over our foreign policy. We asked eight writers—some of whom supported the war, others who opposed it—to reflect on what the past decade has meant.

 

10 Years on, Paul Wolfowitz Admits U.S. Bungled in Iraq:Toby Harnden, Real Clear Politics,  March 18, 2013—The former deputy Pentagon chief, Paul Wolfowitz, a driving force behind the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, has conceded that a series of blunders by George W. Bush’s administration plunged Iraq into a cycle of violence that “spiralled out of control”.

 

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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

Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

Contents:  Weekly Quotes |  Short Takes

 

Download Today's Isranet Briefing.pdf

 

On Topic Links

 

 

The New Strategic Environment: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Jewish Press, Mar. 19, 2013

The Powerful New Antioxidant Made of Sun and Algae: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21C, Mar. 17, 2013

Arab Peace Initiative and Israeli Concessions: Daniel Frank, Times of Israel, Mar. 20, 2013

 

 

 

“I walk with you on the historic homeland of the Jewish people.”US President Barack Obama, in his remarks upon his arrival at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. Invoking the Jewish people’s 3,000-year history in the land, he referred to modern Israelis as “the sons of Abraham and the daughters of Sarah.” Obama said that his visit was "an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our nations, to restate America's unwavering commitment to Israel's security and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors. We stand together because peace must come to the  Holy Land. I am confident in declaring that our alliance is l'netzach, eternal, is forever." (Jerusalem Post, New York Times, Mar. 20, 2013)

 

“Thank you, Mr. President, for upholding the Jewish people’s right to a Jewish state in our historic homeland, and for boldly defending that right at the United Nations. And thank you for strengthening the unbreakable alliance between our two nations during your presidency.…Mr. President, on this historic visit, you will have an opportunity to see a different side of Israel. You will see past, present, and future in this tiny land which has left such a huge imprint on the course of civilization. You will see the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls, the world’s oldest text of the Bible, written in Hebrew here 2,000 years ago, scrolls that bear witness to the timeless bond between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel….We extend our hand in peace to the Palestinians. Israel has proven time and again it is ready for concessions in exchange for real peace, and the situation today is no different. With a Palestinian partner, that is willing to hold negotiations in good will, Israel will be ready for a historic compromise that will end the conflict with the Palestinians once and for all.”—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his opening remarks upon the arrival of US President Barack Obama to Israel. (Times of Israel, National Post, Mar. 202, 2013)

 

Thank you for the hopes you carry with you. In a few minutes you will be on your way to Jerusalem. Our ancient capital. The cradle of all believers, of all prayers. You will see the hills and mountains where our prophets preached. Where the soul of the Jewish People was born. Where the State of Israel was created. America and Israel are somewhat different in size. In size, not in destiny. The American dream stems from the bible. The Israeli spirit is inspired by American exceptionalism.”—Israeli President Shimon Peres, in his opening remarks upon the arrival of US President Barack Obama to Israel.” (Times of Israel, Mar. 201, 2013)

 

"Three American presidents have spoken on the Knesset stage, as well as [former Egyptian president Anwar] Sadat and leaders from Europe."MK Reuven Rivlin, former Knesset Speaker (Likud Beytenu), commenting on US President Barack Obama’s decision not to address the Knesset.  Rivlin asserted that "President Obama should speak to the people of Israel through its elected representatives,"  He maintained that Obama's decision not to speak in the Knesset is a cause for concern because it shows that he does not have faith in the representatives of the nation to which he is speaking. "Unfortunately…President Obama decided not to visit the Knesset, a decision which is in bad taste." he said. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 18, 2013)

 

"It is unfortunate that the information that was first communicated [by the Foreign Ministry] to Parliament and which was based on information obtained from the PA at the time, in retrospect, is imprecise."Foreign Ministry of Norway's statement corroborating Palestinian Media Watch’s report that Norwegian financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority is being used to pay salaries to convicted terrorists in Israeli custody.  "According to the PA, the discussed support program is not a salary – but direct support for the prisoners' canteen expenses and social allowance to the families of prisoners. The social allowance compensates for the loss of income because the main breadwinner is no longer able to contribute."Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide, in a letter to the Norwegian Parliamentary Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs. (Palestinian Media Watch, Mar. 20, 2013)

 

“By urging the removal of all [Jewish] settlers living beyond the green line, the report [of the UN Commission of Inquiry into Israeli Settlements] is inconsistent with Security Council Resolution 242, endorsed by the [Security] Council decision establishing this commission. It could lead to the utterly grotesque consequence that the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem should be returned to the desolate condition that existed between 1948 and 1967. I regret to say that the [UN Human rights] Council displays the same selectivity that led to the abolition of the earlier Commission. I urge you to heed the criticism by successive UN secretary-generals of this Council’s habit of singling out only one specific country, to the exclusion of virtually everything else.”Lord David Trimble, Nobel Peace Laureate and member of the British House of Lords, in an address to the UN Human Rights Council during its debate, on Mon [Mar 18], of its report on Israeli settlements beyond the 1948 armistice line.  (UN Watch, Mar. 18, 2013)

"Our history is replete with lies… [including] the lie about Al-Qaeda and the September 11 events, which asserted that Muslim terrorists committed it, and that it was not an internal American action by the Freemasons."…"Churchill and Roosevelt were alcoholics, and in their youth were questioned more than once about brawls they started in bars, while Hitler hated alcohol and was not addicted to it. He used to go to sleep early and wake up early, and was very organized. These facts have been turned upside down as well, and Satan has been dressed with angels' wings…Had Hitler won, Nazism would be an honour that people would be competing to belong to, and not a disgrace punishable by law."Hassan Ouda Abu Zaher, from an op-ed article in the official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, just prior to the arrival in Israel of US President Barack Obama. (Palestinian Media Watch, March 18, 2013)

“The world is talking about dividing Jerusalem — it’s in many ways churning water. What has happened since 1967 in the Old City and around the Old City has made any discussion of dividing Jerusalem the way the Arabs see it irrelevant, because on the ground it ain’t going to happen.”—Daniel Luria, executive director of Ateret Cohanim, commenting on objections to two new private Jewish housing developments in predominantly Arab neighbourhoods of  the Old City. Ateret Cohanim is an organization that is not involved in these particular projects but has led many other efforts to establish Jewish beachheads in the area. (New York Times, Mar. 17, 2013)

 

“If the Americans once again do not honor their commitments and keep on disobeying, then this will be considered as an occupation, and they may expect to see a reaction to their action…. As the Koran says: Almighty Allah has never paved the road for infidels to rule and govern Muslims.”— the Afghan Ulema Council, which represents all of the country’s Islamic clerics and whose members are appointed by President [Hamid] Karzai.  It referred to American forces in Afghanistan as “infidels,” echoing language used by the Taliban. (New York Times, Mar 17, 2013)

 

I hope to “contribute to the progress that relations between Jews and Catholics have known from the Second Vatican Council, in a spirit of renewed collaboration.”—Pope Francis I, in a message to the chief rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, on the day of his election. (New York Times, Mar. 16, 2013)

 

“France must first convince its European partners. But we cannot let a people be massacred like this. So already the British and French are in favour of lifting the embargo.French President Francois Hollande to reporters in Brussels, where he is attending an EU summit. The British government said that it is not ruling out any options to help the [Syrian] opposition. (Globe and Mail, Mar. 15, 2013)

“In reality, the existential threat to Israel posed by Iran’s nuclear weapons program puts the Palestinian issue into the proper perspective. And despite extensive administration bluster about ‘keeping all options on the table,’ the chances of Obama actually using force against Iran’s nuclear program are as close to absolute zero as one can get except in outer space. He wants to reduce Israel’s odds of using force to the same level, and that is his trip’s highest priority. So here’s the real message to Israelis from Americans: Whatever our religious backgrounds, we do not agree with Obama’s views on Israel or the Middle East.”—John Bolton, former US Ambassador to the United Nations, in an op-ed article in the Jerusalem Post. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 20, 2013) 

 

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BARACK OBAMA TO DINE WITH FIRST BLACK MISS ISRAEL—(Jerusalem) An advance party of White House officials insisted on inviting Yityish Aynaw, 22, to next Thursday's gala dinner hosted by Shimon Peres, Israel's president, after hearing how she became the first Israeli of Ethiopian origin to win the country's premier beauty queen contest last month. The mass circulation Yedioth Ahronot newspaper reported that Ms Aynaw – who emigrated to Israel from Ethiopia with her Jewish grandparents after the death of her mother when she was 12 – would have the chance to exchange pleasantries with the president. "For me, he is a role model who broke down barriers, a source of inspiration that proves that every person really can reach any height, regardless of their religion, race or gender," Ms Aynaw said. (The Telegraph, Mar. 13, 2013)

 

 

ISRAELI OFFICIAL: CHEMICAL WEAPONS USED IN SYRIA(Jerusalem) A senior Israeli official said Wednesday that it is "apparently clear" that chemical weapons were recently used in Syria, and that the attack will be a main topic of conversation with visiting President Barack Obama.
The statement by Yuval Steinitz, the newly appointed Minister of Intelligence and Strategic Affairs, conflicts with U.S. assessments that there is no evidence behind accusations traded the day before between Syrian rebels and the Bashar Assad regime. A senior defence official told AP that he concurred chemical weapons had been used, basing that on intelligence reports. (ABC News, Mar. 20, 2013)

 

BAYIT YEHUDI MINISTER ARIEL TO OBAMA: PLEASE FREE POLLARD(Ben Gurion Airport) Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel asked US President Barack Obama to free Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard as he shook the visiting US president's hand upon his arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport on Wednesday. "Please free Pollard," Ariel stated, noting that Obama listened, but did not respond. Obama said in a Channel 2 television interview last week that he had no plans to free Pollard in the immediate future. "After 28 years that Pollard is caged in American captivity, I felt a personal obligation to turn directly to President Obama and to ask him to pardon Jonathan out of humanitarian considerations," Ariel stated after having met Obama. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 20, 2013)

 

PALESTINIANS ERECT PROTEST TENTS IN E-ONE(Jerusalem) Dozens of Palestinians erected protest tents in the E1 region between Ma'ale Adumim and Jerusalem in the West Bank on Wednesday, Israel Radio reported. The protesters flew a large Palestinian flag and hung a photo of US President Barack Obama on one of the tents. Around 150 Palestinians came to the site and put up a number of smaller tents.   The Palestinian Authority has said that E1 land is needed so the future Palestinian state will be viable and have territorial continuity. It warned that Israeli construction there imperils the two-state solution. On the other hand, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in January that the area must be linked to Jerusalem saying, "We will not allow anyone to harm the contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim." Netanyahu made the January remarks to his cabinet after the IDF evacuated Palestinian activists from the region. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 20, 2013)

 

UK: SYRIA CHEMICAL ATTACK BOOSTS CASE FOR REBELS(London) Britain said on Wednesday reports of a chemical attack in Syria strengthened the case for relaxing a European Union arms embargo on the country, and warned that a failure to do so could lead to the kind of wartime massacres seen in Bosnia. Britain and France are pushing for the EU ban to be eased to allow a flow of arms to outgunned rebels waging a two-year-old uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad, but several EU countries and Russia oppose the move. "The French president is concerned and I am concerned that we should not be restricted for months and months ahead when we don't know exactly what could happen in Syria, including the very worrying reports of use of chemical weapons," British Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament. (Reuters Canada, Mar. 20, 2013)

 

CANADIAN AMONG TERRORISTS KILLED IN ALGERIAN GAS PLANT STANDOFF (Ottawa) Two months after an Al Qaeda splinter group attacked a gas plant in the Algerian dessert, killing almost 40 foreign workers, the RCMP has confirmed that at least one of the terrorists was a Canadian citizen. The RCMP said Monday it had identified “Canadian human remains” in Algeria. About three dozen armed Islamists led by Al Qaeda-linked Mokhtar Belmokhtar stormed the In Amenas plant on Jan. 16 and held hundreds of workers hostage for four days. All but three of the terrorists were eventually killed by Algerian troops. (National Post, Mar. 18, 2013)

 

LABOUR PEER SUSPENDED OVER CLAIMS HE BLAMED IMPRISONMENT ON 'JEWISH CONSPIRACY'(London)Lord Ahmed, a Labour life peer, is alleged to have told a TV station in Pakistan that he was imprisoned in 2009 because of pressure on the courts from Jews “who own newspapers and TV channels". Labour immediately suspended the peer “pending an investigation” and Ed Miliband, the party’s leader, described Lord Ahmed’s reported comments as “disgraceful”. In the TV broadcast it is alleged Lord Ahmed said of his jail sentence: “My case became more critical because I went to Gaza to support Palestinians. My Jewish friends who own newspapers and TV channels opposed this.” Ed Miliband, the Labour leader said: "I think that the comments reported by Lord Ahmed are disgraceful comments. There's no place for anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, and frankly anybody who makes those kinds of comments cannot be either a Labour lord or a Labour member of Parliament." (The Telegraph, Mar. 14, 2013)

 

HUNGARIAN JEWS SET UP ADL-INSPIRED WATCHDOG GROUP—(Budapest) The Budapest-based, nongovernmental entity was registered recently in Hungary as Action and Protection Foundation, or TEV by its Hungarian-language acronym, and is set to have six employees and about 20 volunteers by June, according to Daniel Bodnar, chairman of the organization’s board. Bodnar said TEV is made up of delegates from the major organizations representing Hungarian Jews. “We decided to create this body out of the realization that anti-Semitic statements have become more common and acrimonious as public discourse continues to deteriorate in Hungary — a country which unfortunately has a strong par excellence neo-Nazi party in its Parliament,” Bodnar said in reference to Jobbik, the country’s third largest party. In November, a senior lawmaker for Jobbik said in Parliament that Jews needed to be listed as “security threats,” drawing international condemnations and triggering several protest rallies in Hungary. (JTA, Mar. 4, 2013)

 

SURGERY WITHOUT SCARS OR SCALPELS—(Tel Aviv) Surgery without scalpels and scars? It’s not science fiction. Israel’s InSightec is in the midst of transforming the operating room with its ExAblate MRI-guided high-intensity ultrasound technology. The ExAblate O.R. system uses interchangeable “cradles” set on a regular MRI treatment table. The tool allows doctors to destroy targets, such as tumors and uterine fibroid cysts, deep inside the body without incisions. ExAblate O.R. is already being used in several countries, including Europe and the United States, to treat uterine fibroids and pain caused by bone cancer. “We started with uterine fibroids, which afflict a quarter of all women sometime in their lives and usually are treated with a hysterectomy,” says InSightec president and founder Kobi Vortman. “We believe for patients looking for alternative treatment to preserve the uterus, this is effective and safe.” (Israel21C, March 19, 2013)

 

BOMBINGS IN IRAQ KILL 65 A DECADE AFTER INVASION(Baghdad) Insurgents sent a bloody message on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion, carrying out a wave of bombings across the country Tuesday that killed at least 65 people in the deadliest day in Iraq this year. The nearly 20 attacks, most of them in and around Baghdad, demonstrated in stark terms how dangerously divided Iraq remains more than a year after American troops withdrew. More than 240 people were reported wounded. It was Iraq's bloodiest day since Sept. 9, when an onslaught of bombings and shootings killed 92. Violence has ebbed sharply since the peak of Sunni-Shiite fighting. (Yahoo Daily News Mar.19, 2013)

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The New Strategic Environment: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Jewish Press, Mar. 19, 2013—The way it looks now, it seems that the regime of al-Assad will not last more than a number of days or weeks. A coalition of Sunni jihad organizations will succeed in toppling the government of an Arab state despite the state having used every weapon in its arsenal – including scud missiles – in order to survive.

The Powerful New Antioxidant Made of  Sun and Algae: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21C, Mar. 17, 2013— How about some astaxanthin with your tea and scones? Made from sunshine and red microalgae in Israel’s Arava Valley, the antioxidant is believed to support and protect the immune, cardiovascular and nervous system, joints and muscles.

 

Arab Peace Initiative and Israeli Concessions: Daniel Frank, Times of Israel, Mar. 20, 2013—Earlier today, it was reported that American Secretary of State John Kerry would try to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process based on the Arab Peace Initiative. For those unaware, the Arab Peace Initiative is based on a complete Israeli withdrawal from to the 1949 armistice lines and the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Although appalling, this is not very surprising.

 

 

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

 

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine (current issue: “Israel’s Levy Report”:  ISRAZINE.

 

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by fax and e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends and family to visit our website for more information on our Briefing series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, contact us at http://www.isranet.org/.

 

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible membership contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address or “Donate” button on Website)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s Briefing series 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 opinion of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Institute.