Month: May 2013

A PROMISED LAND; THE SISTINE’S JEWISH ‘CODE’ DECIPHERED AS CAIRO GENIZA IS DIGITALLY STITCHED AND THE OLDEST(?) TORAH UNCOVERED; RUSSIAN JEWISH WAR VETS REMEMBER


Contents:                          

 

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My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel: Ari Shavit, Spiegel & Grau, 2013—There will be no utopia here. Israel will never be the ideal nation it set out to be, nor will it be Europe-away-from-Europe. There will be no London here, no Paris, no Vienna. But what has evolved in this land is not to be dismissed. A series of great revolts has created here a truly free  society that is alive and kicking and fascinating.

 

Religious Jewish Guide To Sistine Chapel Decodes Michaelangelo’s ‘Jewish Symbols’: National Post, May 26, 2013 —The first religious Jew to be authorized by the Vatican to act as a docent in Catholic museums, bestselling author Roy Doliner’s life seems like it could be taken directly from a Dan Brown novel. Labeled by the Italian media as “Rome’s Jewish Robert Langdon,” Mr. Doliner conducts tours of the Sistine chapel for the high-profile politicians, ambassadors and celebrities.

 

Italy Prof. Says Has Found World's Oldest Torah: Reuters, May 29, 2013—An Italian professor said on Wednesday he has identified what he believes is the world's oldest complete scroll of the Torah, containing the full text of the first five books of Hebrew scripture.

 

Israeli Scientists Match Cairo Geniza Fragments: Jeremy Sharon, Jerusalem Post, May 30, 2013—A team of computer scientists and programmers in Jerusalem, working in collaboration with Tel Aviv University, says it has achieved a breakthrough in piecing together the disparate fragments of the Cairo Geniza.

 

Russian Jewish Veterans of World War II Swell with Pride: Sue Fishkoff, JTA, Apr. 27, 2013—May 9 marks the 60th anniversary of V-Day, the date in 1945 when Nazi Germany capitulated. Nowhere has it been as resolutely commemorated each year as in the former Soviet Union, which lost a staggering 25 million citizens during what is still called the Great Patriotic War.

 

On Topic Links

 

The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo's Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican: R. Benjamin Blech, Orthodox Union, May 1, 2012 (YouTube video)

BDS Movement Suffers Defeat in SEC Divestment Battle: Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Jewish Press, May 30th, 2013

 

 

MY PROMISED LAND: THE TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY OF ISRAEL

Ari Shavit

Spiegel & Grau, 2013

There will be no utopia here. Israel will never be the ideal nation it set out to be, nor will it be Europe-away-from-Europe. There will be no London here, no Paris, no Vienna. But what has evolved in this land is not to be dismissed. A series of great revolts has created here a truly free  society that is alive and kicking and fascinating. This free society is creative and passionate and frenzied. It gives the ones living here a unique quality of life. Warmth, directness, openness. Yes, we are orphans. We have no king and no father. We have no coherent identity and no continuous past. In a sense, we have no civic culture. Our grace is the semibarbaric grace of the wild ones. It is the youthful grace of the inbound and the uncouth. We respect no past and no future and no authority. We are irreverent. We are deeply anarchic. And yet, because we are all alone in this world, we stick together. Because we are orphans, we are brothers in arms, brothers in fate.

 

There was hope for peace, but there will be no peace here, not soon. There was hope for quiet, but there will be no quiet here. The foundations of the home we founded are somewhat shaky, and repeating earthquakes rattle it. So what we really have in this land is an ongoing adventure. An odyssey. The Jewish state does not resemble any other nation. What this nation has to offer is not security or well being or peace of mind. What it has to offer is the intensity of life on the edge. The adrenaline rush of living dangerously, living lustfully, living to the extreme. If a Vesuvius-like volcano were to erupt tonight and end our Pompeii, this is what it will petrify: a living people. People that have come from death and were surrounded by death but who nevertheless put up a spectacular spectacle of life. People who danced the dance of life to the very end.

 

I walk into the very same bar I walked into some weeks ago. Once again I sit by the bar and sip my single malt. I see the ancient port through the windows, and I watch people sitting in restaurants and walking into galleries and wandering about the pier. Bottom line, I think, Zionism was about regenerating Jewish vitality. The Israel tale is the tale of vitality against all odds. So the duality is mind-boggling. We are the most prosaic and prickly people one can imagine. We cannot stand Puritanism or sentimentality. We do not trust high words or lofty concepts. And yet we take part daily in a phenomenal historical vision. We participate in an event far greater than ourselves. We are a ragtag cast in an epic motion picture whose plot we do not understand and cannot grasp. The script writer went mad. The director ran away. The producer went bankrupt. But we are still here, on this biblical set. The camera is still rolling. And as the camera pans out and pulls up, it sees us converging on this shore. Clinging to this shore. Living on this shore. Come what may. [Excerpted from My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, Avi Shavit, Spiegel & Grau, 2013 – Ed.]

 

Ari Shavit is a leading Israeli journalist and a columnist for Haaretz.

 

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RELIGIOUS JEWISH GUIDE TO SISTINE CHAPEL

DECODES MICHAELANGELO’S ‘JEWISH SYMBOLS’

Jen Gerson

National Post, May 26, 2013

 

The first religious Jew to be authorized by the Vatican to act as a docent in Catholic museums, bestselling author Roy Doliner’s life seems like it could be taken directly from a Dan Brown novel. Labelled by the Italian media as “Rome’s Jewish Robert Langdon,” Mr. Doliner conducts tours of the Sistine chapel for the high-profile politicians, ambassadors and celebrities. A playwright and the author of four books, the most recent of which The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo’s Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican, is slated to become a Discovery Channel documentary.

 

His findings caused a stir in the church: he said he found signs in the works of Michelangelo that suggest the famous Renaissance painter had studied Jewish wisdom literature — such as the Kabbalah — and hid symbols in his paintings. The Post spoke with Mr. Doliner during his recent visit to Calgary where he lectured on behalf of Congregation House of Jacob-Mikveh Israel, the city’s oldest Jewish organization.

 

Q: Can you tell me why they call you “Rome’s Jewish Robert Langdon”?

 

A: The Italian media, they love nicknames and because whenever there’s a mystery in the art history world, when there’s an artwork that they’ve not been able to figure out who made it or what it’s really saying, I get called in.

 

Q: Why do you get called in?

 

A: Because of the book I wrote. Sistine Secrets sounds like a Dan Brown novel except this is all true. It’s all documented, it’s all accepted. It was my dumb luck to decode the Sistine chapel.

 

Q: How did you stumble upon that particular mystery?

 

A: My friends in the Vatican — and thank goodness I have a lot of friends in the Vatican — tell me I’m the first religious Jew to spend enormous amounts of time in the Sistine Chapel. And what was being said by the authorized Vatican guides and the authorized Vatican guidebooks didn’t jibe with what Michelangelo was painting on the ceiling.

 

And I started to notice Jewish stuff and I thought it was just my imagination. I was enormously skeptical. It took years and years of research. I found out Michelangelo was a devout Christian his entire life, but at the age of 13, he was introduced to a private tutor that taught him Jewish wisdom literature and he went nuts over it and kept on quoting it visually.

 

Q: Can you give me an example of the kind of Jewish stuff you were noticing in the Sistine Chapel?

 

A: Well, here’s one thing. What’s the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden?

 

Q: Isn’t there some debate over whether it’s a pomegranate or an apple?

 

A: That’s right, and the standard tradition. However, in the original Jewish tradition, in the Talmud, they figure out it’s a fig tree. God always gives us the solution to a problem hidden inside the problem itself so when Adam and Eve figured out they were stark naked, the solution to the problem is a fig leaf. According to Talmudic logic, if the fig leaf was nearby, guess what else would need to be nearby. In almost all of Western art, it’s the apple tree and the forbidden apple. Yet you go to the Sistine chapel and all the fruits connected with the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden are figs. Every single panel on the ceiling, there’s not a single Christian figure, not a single Christian symbol. It’s all Jewish stuff.

 

Q: Can you tell me about a few more examples you found?

 

A: For instance, in the last judgement over the altar, right in the inner circle of saintly souls surrounding Jesus and Mary in paradise [Michelangelo] sneaks in two Orthodox Jews. That’s blasphemy in the 1500s, and the Vatican didn’t know they were there until the book came out.

 

Q: But you’re not asserting that Michelangelo was Jewish?

 

A: No, no, he was a devout Christian his entire life. What he’s putting into his art works — and we know this because he put it in his private letters — was that as a religious Christian, he was extremely angry at the scandals and abuses of power he was seeing every day in the Vatican.

 

Q: Why did he pick Jewish symbolism to express this anger, and why didn’t he get caught?

 

A: Back then, he had three different papal censors looking after his every move, spying on him, but he locked out that staff and brought in five childhood friends from Florence. On the day he finished the painting, he destroyed the special scaffolding he built to paint the ceiling so nobody else could get back up there to closely inspect it unless they wanted to render the chapel unusable for several years. His engineering skills saved the ceiling. Meanwhile, the censors had figured out all the hidden codes the other artists were using, whether they were birds, flowers, gestures or positions. References to Greco-Roman myth, for instances, they knew that inside and out. One thing they didn’t know was the deep end of the pool, Jewish wisdom literature, the Talmud, parables and, of course, the Kabbalah. It was like a message in a bottle waiting 500 years.

 

Q: How did the Vatican react when the book came out?

 

A: At first they were in high dudgeon. There were some holdouts when it came out, but now they are thrilled with the message; Michelangelo was looking for inter-religious brotherhood and that’s what we say in the book. He was making a bridge, he was bridging the Christian faith and the Jewish faith. That might sound cliche and banal in 2013, but we’re talking about five centuries ago. That could get you burned alive in public.

 

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ITALY PROF. SAYS HAS FOUND WORLD'S OLDEST TORAH

Reuters, May 29, 2013

 

An Italian professor said on Wednesday [May 29] he has identified what he believes is the world's oldest complete scroll of the Torah, containing the full text of the first five books of Hebrew scripture. Mauro Perani, professor of Hebrew at the University of Bologna, said experts and carbon dating tests done in Italy and the United States dated the scroll as having been made between 1155 and 1225. The scroll, which has been in possession of the Bologna University Library for more than 100 years, had been previously thought to be from the 17th century. It had been labeled "scroll 2".

 

There are many fragments of the Torah that are older but not complete scrolls with all five books. "A Jew who was a librarian at the university examined the scroll in 1889 for a catalogue and wrote '17th century followed by a question mark,'" Perani said in a telephone interview. But in preparation for a new catalogue of the university's Judaica collection, Perani, 63, studied the scroll and suspected that the librarian had made too cursory an examination in 1889 and not recognised its antiquity.

 

"I realised that the style of the writing was older than the 17th century so I consulted with other experts," he said of the scroll, which measures 36 metres by 64 cm (39 yards by 25 inches). He said the scroll showed many graphical features and scribal devices that were no longer used by copyists of Hebrew scripts in the 17th century. The scroll is made up of 58 sections of soft sheep leather each sewn together, most of them with three columns of script.

 

After the experts he consulted agreed that the scroll was probably several centuries older than previously believed, Perani had fragments of it subjected to carbon-14 dating tests. The tests, at the University of Salento in southern Italy and the Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory at the University of Illinois, dated the scroll as from the second half of the 12th century to the first quarter of the 13th century. The Torah, also known as the Hebrew Pentateuch, consists of the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

 

The complete version of the Torah that was previously considered the oldest was from the late 13th century, Perani said. He said that before the scroll came into possession of the University of Bologna in the 18th or 19th century it had been in the custody of the Dominican convent in the city that is home to the world's oldest university. Perani said it was not clear where the Torah had been copied but most likely it was not in Italy. It was probably made by a copyist trained in the oriental tradition and likely done in the Middle East.

 

Perani has for two decades been head of the Italian Genizah project, which locates and catalogues fragments of Hebrew manuscripts in Italy. Genizah is the Hebrew word for the room in a synagogue where religious books or papers are stored. The Genizah project has found, photographed and catalogued some 13,000 fragments of Jewish compositions from various branches of Talmudic literature, Biblical commentary, Jewish thought, the Hebrew language and Jewish history. For his work in Jewish studies, Perani is due to be given an honorary degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem next month.

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ISRAELI SCIENTISTS MATCH CAIRO GENIZA FRAGMENTS

Jeremy Sharon

Jerusalem Post, May 30, 2013

 

A team of computer scientists and programmers in Jerusalem, working in collaboration with Tel Aviv University, says it has achieved a breakthrough in piecing together the disparate fragments of the Cairo Geniza. Prof. Ya’acov Choueka, a Cairo-born chief computerization scientist, is leading a team of 15 programmers from the Friedberg Geniza Project, which is collaborating with Tel Aviv University to “solve the problem” of genizas, or Jewish archives, by scanning the contents of 67 geniza collections around the world.

 

His team has been able to make more matches between fragments in a matter of weeks than researchers have using traditional methods over the course of decades. For the past century, scholars have gleaned a wealth of information from the documents discovered in the Cairo Geniza, but research has been hampered by the fact that they were found in pieces and were subsequently split among dozens of collections. Scholars seeking to piece together the documents have been forced to travel to far flung locales and attempt to make the scraps of paper fit together by hand, a long and cumbersome process.

 

The Cairo Geniza was the archive of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat, a suburb of Cairo until it was swallowed by the Egyptian capital’s urban sprawl. The documents there were in large part carted off to England, and Cambridge owns some 60 percent of them. For over a thousand years, sacred texts were deposited in the storeroom, as well as documents attesting to the day-to-day life of medieval Jewish and Arab residents of the Middle East and North Africa. Included were many original manuscripts, variant texts of the Talmud and letters from ordinary people.

 

Following agreements with Cambridge University and other institutions, Choueka and his team scanned hundreds of thousands of fragments at high resolution, enabling his team to perform more than 4 billion comparisons. Using several large networked computer clusters at Tel Aviv University, his Jerusalem-based team was “reconstructing the original geniza,” he said on Thursday.

 

Using several algorithms, his team aims to find all of the “joints,” or matches between fragments, within two weeks. The results of the research were being posted online at genizah.org for public viewing by academics and laymen alike, revolutionizing the study of the geniza documents, he said. Physical attributes of the documents are measured by the computers, and fragments from the same pages, and even by the same author, can be paired together. The results of the research are to be presented at the 16th World Congress of Jewish Studies, to be held at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem from July 28 to August 1.

 

Not every institution has been cooperative, he said. According to Choueka, the University of Oxford has been unwilling to provide scans of its manuscripts that are incredibly important to his work. Talks with the university “did not come to a happy end,” he said, adding that he did not know why. Oxford did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

 

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RUSSIAN JEWISH VETERANS OF WORLD WAR II SWELL WITH PRIDE

Sue Fishkoff

JTA, Apr. 27, 2013

 

May 9 marks the 60th anniversary of V-Day, the date in 1945 when Nazi Germany capitulated.

Nowhere has it been as resolutely commemorated each year as in the former Soviet Union, which lost a staggering 25 million citizens during what is still called the Great Patriotic War. Of approximately 11,000 World War II veterans still alive in the southern Russian capital of Rostov-on-Don today, 211 are Jewish.

 

Three of those Jewish soldiers marched in the great Victory Day parade in Moscow's Red Square on June 24, 1945. One was 90-year-old Leonid Abelich Klevitsky, a tall, white-haired man of erect bearing who heads the city's Jewish war veterans association. "It was the day before my 20th birthday," he told JTA in an interview conducted during last year's Victory Day celebration. "I'd been celebrating all night, and almost fell flat on my face in Red Square."

 

When Germany attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941, Klevitsky was a student in a prestigious military academy. He graduated in time to fight on the Ukrainian front and took part in the bombing of Berlin. "I never understood my Judaism," he says of his upbringing. "I had a Marxist-Leninist education in the military academy. And only because I was Jewish, I got a 'D' instead of an 'A' because I corrected the teacher when he quoted Stalin wrong." After a 25-year career in the army, in 1967 Klevitsky retired, and he and his wife moved back to Rostov. He became head of the city's Jewish war veterans association when it was founded six years ago.

 

Rostov-on-Don lies just over the border from Ukraine, right in the path of the 1941 Nazi onslaught. Few of the city's 20,000 Jews fled the advancing German forces. Rostov's Jews were urbanized, and many had studied in German universities. Their diplomas didn't help them. On Aug. 11, 1942, the city's Jewish men were marched to a ravine outside the city and shot; the women, children and elderly were gassed in trucks, and their bodies buried in the same ravine, called Zmiyovskaya Balka, or the ravine of the snakes. Communists and Red Army soldiers also were killed and buried there, along with their families.

 

Altogether, some 27,000 bodies lie in the grass-covered ravine, which has become the site of annual memorial ceremonies. Some of Rostov's Jews, both men and women, escaped the massacre because they were serving in the Soviet Army. The biggest day of the year for these veterans is the festive luncheon the city's Jewish community hosts for them every May. Last year's event, held May 7 in Rostov's historic synagogue, drew more than 100 aging veterans, all wearing their medals with pride. "Everyone who can walk is here today," Klevitsky said.

 

One of those who could not attend was his own wife, bedridden for three years. “I love her so," he said. The couple was married 53 years earlier in a civil ceremony. Now that Rostov has a Chabad rabbi, Klevitsky and his wife want to have a Jewish ceremony. But the rabbi told them they'd have to go to the mikvah, or ritual bath, Klevitsky said, adding defiantly, "I won't go."

 

He was in a buoyant mood all afternoon, displaying his veteran's ID card to anyone who showed the least interest. The feast was a typical Russian affair, with lengthy speeches by the heads of every relevant organization, as well as the requisite appearance by the city's deputy mayor. The vodka and champagne flowed, toasts were made, and there was cheek-to-cheek dancing to 1940s-era tunes.

 

But the lavish spread stood in ironic contrast to these honoured war veterans' stark financial situation. Like elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, these men and women who laboured all their lives for the Soviet state, expecting to be taken care of in their old age, are now penniless, scraping by on meagre pensions, unable to pay for medical care, clothing or food.

 

According to figures from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which helps elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union through its Hesed welfare agencies, more than half of southern Russia's 66,000 Jews are older than 50. Twenty-five percent live below the poverty line. At the end of last year's Victory Day feast, some of those elderly poor were wrapping up cookies and bread rolls to take home to their empty cupboards….Ilya Gorensteyn, a local bigwig who made his money in construction, was one of them. "I donated the bottled water, a guy who owns a fish plant gave the fish, the owner of a vodka plant gave the vodka," he said, pointing down the line of business leaders seated at the head table. Gorensteyn said he knows of many other newly wealthy Jewish men in Rostov, but "unfortunately, not many of them are willing to give."

 

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The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo's Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican: R. Benjamin Blech, Orthodox Union, May 1, 2012 (YouTube video) — Rabbi Benjamin Blech tells the fascinating story of how Michelangelo embedded messages of Judaism in his painting to encourage "fellow travelers" to challenge the repressive Roman Catholic Church of his time.

 

BDS Movement Suffers Defeat in SEC Divestment Battle: Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Jewish Press, May 30th, 2013 — Shurat HaDin sent a warning letter to TIAA-CREF last month informing its leadership that the boycott resolution was a violation of both federal and New York State law

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Le Sinaï plonge l’Egypte dans un bourbier

Zvi Mazel

Le CAPE de Jérusalem, le 24 mai 2013

 

Le 22 mai dernier, sept Egyptiens – six policiers et un soldat – kidnappés dans le Sinaï ont été libérés sains et saufs. De longues tractations ont été menées entre un représentant de la sécurité militaire, un cheikh salafiste et un dignitaire de la tribu bédouine Swarka. Selon la version officielle, aucune concession n’a été faite ; cependant les ravisseurs courent toujours. Ils ont compris combien leur position était intenable : l’Egypte a refusé de céder à leur chantage. Pour une fois, la classe politique toute entière et l’opinion publique ont condamné l’opération. L’armée a massé hélicoptères, blindés et forces spéciales en vue d’un assaut ; furieux de l’attaque contre leurs collègues, les policiers ont bloqué le poste frontière de Rafah, et des milliers de Palestiniens se sont trouvés pris au piège. Inquiet, le Hamas a proclamé qu’il n’était pour rien dans l’affaire.

 

On attend toujours un communiqué de revendication. On sait que les ravisseurs ont réclamé la remise en liberté de dizaines de terroristes djihadistes impliqués dans les attentats de Taba et Charm al-Cheikh en 2004 et du nord Sinaï en 2011. Certains sont sous le coup d’une condamnation à mort. Selon des « sources provenant de milieux salafistes » publiées dans les médias, ces terroristes se réclament de l’organisation « Al Tawrid wa al Jihad », la plus puissante du Sinaï. Se réclamant d’al-Qaeda, elle regroupe des djihadistes égyptiens, des salafistes de Gaza et des Bédouins traditionnellement hostiles au pouvoir central. Tous appartiennent à la faction la plus dure de l’Islam, les « Takfiri », apparus en Egypte dans les années soixante-dix sous l’impulsion de Frères musulmans.

 

L’un des chefs du djihadisme en Egypte, le cheikh Nabil Naim, a déclaré au quotidien AlShark alAwsat que la Confrérie des Frères musulmans, au pouvoir en Egypte, entretient des liens étroits avec les djihadistes au Sinaï et se garde bien de les heurter. Deux raisons à cela : tout d’abord, ils partagent la même idéologie et aspirent au rétablissement du califat ; ensuite le régime se réserve la possibilité de faire appel à eux dans sa lutte contre l’opposition. C’est pourquoi le président Morsi a freiné les tentatives de l’armée pour libérer les otages par la force. Les généraux pensent, eux, que les organisations terroristes au Sinaï sont un danger pour l’Egypte. Ils n’oublient pas le massacre de seize soldats en août dernier par des djihadistes toujours en liberté. Une vaste opération a pourtant été lancée à l’époque : l’armée a engagé des blindés – en violation de l’annexe militaire au traité de Camp David – avant de les retirer sous la pression d’Israël. Cependant, Israël a accepté l’augmentation du nombre de soldats dans la zone démilitarisée.

 

Quelques 2 000 terroristes appartenant à des formations djihadistes regroupant des Egyptiens et des Palestiniens associés à des Bédouins opèrent toujours dans le Sinaï. Difficile de les repérer dans un territoire aussi vaste. Ils n’hésitent pas à lancer des raids contre des postes de police, des barrages routiers ou des patrouilles militaires ; opérations qui font peu de victimes mais portent atteinte au moral des troupes et au prestige de l’armée. C’est en vain que l’état-major attend le feu vert du régime pour y mettre fin. On le voit bien dans l’affaire de la dernière prise d’otages : Morsi n’a jamais condamné les kidnappeurs, se contentant de demander la libération des otages. Face à l’indignation publique qui a grandi contre son inaction, il a finalement donné son accord à une opération militaire. Sans attendre, les ravisseurs ont alors libéré les sept hommes.

 

A l’origine de la situation actuelle, il y a bien sûr l’état catastrophique de la péninsule du Sinaï, négligée depuis des années par le pouvoir central. La frustration née du manque d’infrastructure et de développement fait des Bédouins une proie facile pour les islamistes cherchant à infiltrer la région. Le Hamas, à la tête des réseaux de contrebande d’armes mis en place en coopération avec l’Iran, encourage cette infiltration.

 

La Confrérie se trouve bien embarrassée, partagée entre la nécessité de pacifier la péninsule et la crainte d’ouvrir un nouveau front alors que grandit l’opposition intérieure. Et puis comment ramener le calme sans s’opposer au Hamas, qui appartient aux Frères musulmans, les a aidés à renverser Moubarak et reste leur allié contre Israël ?

 

La situation n’est pas moins inquiétante pour Israël. Confronté à des tirs de missiles et à des attaques dans le sud, sans parler du flot d’armes et de munitions qui inonde la péninsule et Gaza, il prend sur lui de ne pas riposter. Heureusement, la coopération discrète entre les services de renseignement des deux pays se poursuit – pour le moment.

 

Des voix s’élèvent en Egypte pour demander la révision du traité de paix avec Israël. Apparemment les Frères musulmans ne saisissent pas que la solution ne passe pas par davantage de soldats à la frontière avec Israël, mais par une politique de développement économique et sécuritaire dans le Sinaï.

 

Dura : Israël s’exprime ; mieux vaut tard que jamais

Stéphane Juffa

menapres.org, 24 mai 2013

 

Le ministère israélien des Relations Internationales et de la Réflexion stratégique a publié, le 19 mai dernier, un rapport établissant la position du gouvernement hébreu sur la Controverse de Nétzarim. Durant sa rédaction, il avait invité Fr2 à participer au comité chargé de l’établir, proposition qui fut rejetée par la chaîne du service public français.

 

Avant sa publication, le brigadier-général de réserve et directeur adjoint du ministère, Yossi Kupperwasser, avec lequel j’ai eu un tête-à-tête mardi, avait soumis le rapport dont il est l’initiateur à l’ambassade de France à Tel-Aviv pour recueillir ses éventuels commentaires.

 

Difficile, dans ces conditions, de prétendre aujourd’hui que le ministère ait agi en vase clos, fermant la porte à d’éventuelles critiques, voire à des mises au point. Ce qui n’empêche pas le clan des enderlinards de se plaindre de ce qu’aucun représentant indépendant n’ait participé à l’élaboration du document.

 

C’est l’hôpital qui se moque de la charité, car il qualifie précisément le mode opératoire de la chaîne et de son correspondant permanent à Jérusalem depuis treize ans. Du premier contact que nous avions pris avec Olivier Mazerolle, début des années deux mille – à l’époque directeur de l’info sur Fr2 -, auquel nous proposions, avec des gages de discrétion, de corroborer les éléments que nous possédions mutuellement sur l’affaire afin d’aider à la recherche de la vérité, Mazerolle avait répondu qu’il "n’en avait strictement rien à foutre".

 

Et en 2004, lorsque celle qui lui avait succédé, Arlette Chabot, avait posté des gardes armés à l’entrée de l’immeuble de France-Télévisions, dans le seul but d’empêcher les journalistes de la Ména de participer à la conférence de presse qu’elle organisait. Plus récemment encore, quand le Dr. Richard Prasquier, en qualité de président du CRIF, avait passé un accord avec Patrick de Carolis, alors PDG de France Télévisions, en vue de faire examiner Jamal Dura et ses cicatrices par un médecin légiste à Paris, l’accord n’a pas été respecté.

 

Depuis, la société de télévision publique a tout fait pour que cet examen n’ait pas lieu. Carolis avait d’abord fallacieusement prétendu qu’Israël empêchait le "père" de la mise en scène de quitter Gaza, pour finir par déclarer par écrit – et au mépris de toutes les évidences – qu’il n’avait jamais passé d’accord avec Prasquier. Entre-temps, Jamal Dura, sur lequel Fr2 possède une influence certaine, a quitté plusieurs fois Gaza pour se rendre à l’étranger, mais chaque fois, en évitant consciencieusement de passer par la ville des lumières.

 

Aujourd’hui, Jamal suggère à l’AFP qu’une commission d’enquête internationale "comprenant des Arabes" ouvre la "tombe de Mohamed", procède à une analyse d’ADN et à l’examen du corps. Mais quelle autorisation attend-il donc ? Si j’étais à sa place, publiquement accusé depuis treize ans d’avoir participé à la mise en scène de la mort de mon fils et d’avoir feint être blessé par des balles, j’aurais effectué cette exhumation depuis longtemps. J’aurais aussi, très probablement, montré mes cicatrices à un médecin français dès la première occasion qui s’offrit à moi.

 

Le rapport du gouvernement israélien, dans le souci de ne pas envenimer les relations avec la France, épargne l’organe télévisuel du service public dans ses conclusions, de même que l’Etat français.

 

Il répond ainsi aux contraintes de la diplomatie auxquelles nous ne sommes pas tenus en tant que journalistes totalement indépendants. Car nous différencions deux affaires distinctes au sein de la Controverse de Nétzarim : d’une part, le tournage et la diffusion d’une fausse nouvelle ayant participé à provoquer des guerres et des assassinats et à éloigner les perspectives d’un règlement pacifique du conflit moyen-oriental. De l’autre, les efforts incessants de Fr2 afin d’entraver la marche de la justice, y compris par les pressions qu’elle a exercées sur des témoins et leur instrumentalisation dans le cadre de procès liés à l’affaire, doublés de faux intellectuels.

 

Comment considérer autrement l’envoi par Chabot d’un caméraman salarié de la chaîne, pour filmer, avec du matériel appartenant à la chaîne, les cicatrices apparaissant sur le corps de Jamal Dura ? Des cicatrices, séquelles de blessures qu’il avait subies en 1992, les faisant passer, à grands renforts de communication, pour les conséquences de balles que le "père" aurait reçues des mains des militaires israéliens en septembre 2000.

 

Comment nommer autrement le refus, quatre ans durant, de présenter les rushes que Fr2 prétendait détenir, censés montrer l’agonie de l’enfant, alors que ces images n’existent pas.

 

Les personnes concernées par les suites de cette affaire ne se limitent donc pas au menteur Charles Enderlin et au metteur en scène Talal Abou Rahma, loin s’en faut, avec ou sans rapport gouvernemental israélien. Lequel rapport n’a pas été établi sur la base de nouvelles enquêtes mais par la vérification de documents existants, procédant des enquêtes Shahaf-Ména, les seules à avoir été réalisées sur la Controverse.

 

En octobre 2000, il n’avait en effet fallu que quelques jours au physicien Nahum Shahaf pour présenter les preuves suffisantes de ce que le reportage français relevait d’une mise en scène. Début décembre, le gouvernement israélien possédait tous les éléments nécessaires pour affirmer qu’on était en présence d’une imposture.

 

A la mi-2003, l’investigation principale de la Ména était terminée et le même gouvernement se trouvait en situation d’émettre le même rapport que celui qu’il vient de rendre public, à l’exception des dossiers concernant le faux rapport médical jordanien et la question de l’origine des cicatrices, que nous avons révélés quelques années plus tard.

 

Yossi Kupperwasser ne nie pas les faits, il ajoute simplement – et on ne saurait lui donner tort – que les choses recèlent un poids différent lorsqu’elles sont présentées par un Etat ou par une agence de presse.

 

Quant au retard dans la présentation des faits, le haut-fonctionnaire l’attribue aux décisions de ceux qui ont précédé l’équipe actuelle au niveau de la prise de décisions. "Après avoir constaté que le reportage continuait à faire d’innocentes victimes, comme à Otzar Hatorah à Toulouse, il nous paraissait urgent de faire connaître le point de vue d’Israël de manière claire et précise", a poursuivi Kupperwasser.

 

Les premiers effets du rapport ont été immédiats : la plupart des media tricolores, dans leurs articles et autres dépêches, ont cessé de parler de "l’enfant mort en septembre 2000 au carrefour de Nétzarim" pour passer au conditionnel.

 

Dommage que l’Etat hébreu ne nous ait pas aidés entre 2001 et 2006, alors que la Ména était le seul media à soutenir que l’assassinat de Mohamed procédait d’une mise en scène. Pour être tout à fait précis, les cabinets successifs ne nous ont pas mis les bâtons dans les roues, mais ils n’ont pas levé le petit doigt afin de nous faciliter la tâche.

 

Dany Seaman, l’ex-directeur du bureau gouvernemental de la presse, faisait figure d’exception, qui s’en allait punaiser nos articles sur l’Affaire sur le tableau des communications de l’immeuble des Jerusalem studios pour s’assurer personnellement qu’Enderlin, de même que les autres journalistes des TV étrangères qui y sont concentrés, ne puissent éviter leur lecture au sortir de l’ascenseur.

 

En France, les dirigeants du CRIF, très majoritairement acquis à la thèse d’Enderlin, envoyaient des faxes aux associations qui accueillaient nos conférences sur la Controverse, les enjoignant de les annuler, au risque de se voir poursuivre devant les tribunaux. Il aura fallu attendre la présidence de Richard Prasquier pour que le Comité Représentatif des Juifs de France prenne enfin ses responsabilités.

 

J’ai lu que le même CRIF demande désormais à Fr2 d’ouvrir une enquête sur l’Affaire Dura ; à notre sens, il s’agit d’une erreur, car, ce faisant, l’on met en doute sans la moindre raison l’enquête existante – or on ne recommence une enquête que lorsqu’il y a des raisons de penser que la précédente a été bâclée ! -. Etrangement, je n’ai jamais vu les soutiens d’Enderlin mettre en cause la factualité de nos conclusions. Mais aussi, comment, sur quelles bases, pourraient-ils le faire ?

 

Nous amassons les évidences : nous en sommes, si je compte bien, à dix-huit preuves et plus de cent-cinquante éléments concordants, contre zéro chez nos adversaires. Iceux s’emploient à intenter des procès ad hominem, à stigmatiser politiquement les partisans de la vérité, à leur intenter des vices de forme et à faire l’apologie du courage et de la probité de Charles.

 

De cet étrange reporter qui a coupé la fin des images filmées par Abou Rahma, celles sur lesquelles on voit l’enfant "mort" relever la tête et regarder en direction du metteur en scène. Qui les a remplacées par l’affirmation selon laquelle il détenait les images de l’"agonie" de Mohamed, mais qu’elles étaient par trop insupportables pour être montrées aux téléspectateurs (et à qui que ce soit d’autre, d’ailleurs). Et qui, lorsque sommé par la justice de les montrer, a été contraint de reconnaître qu’elles n’existaient pas. Le bougre ! Le mythomane ! Le journaliste-voyou !

 

Le rapport émis par le gouvernement israélien ne signifie pas la fin de la dispute, loin s’en faut. Au contraire, les esprits s’échauffent à nouveau. A la fin du document Kupperwasser, il manque les mesures à prendre.

 

En 2003, Tommy Lapid, alors ministre de la Justice, bien que convaincu par les documents de l’enquête que nous lui avions soumis, après mûre réflexion, décida de ne pas poursuivre judiciairement Enderlin, Abou Rahma et France 2. Il m’avait expliqué qu’il n’était pas sain, pour un Etat, d’assigner un journaliste étranger devant ses tribunaux. Même s’il a commis un dol aux conséquences irréparables ; Lapid père soutenait que cela présenterait une image négative du pays et une immixtion dans la liberté de la presse. Lapid avait derrière lui une longue carrière de journaliste, ce qui avait sans doute motivé sa décision.

 

Je lui demandai : "dans le principe, je partage votre point de vue, mais ne doit-il pas y avoir de limites à la liberté octroyée à un confrère, un Etat doit-il lui accorder l’impunité dans tous les cas ?". Après s’être longuement gratté le menton, le ministre répondit : "Dans ce cas, il n’y a probablement pas de limites".     

 

Il ne semble pas qu’Israël ait, pour le moment, changé d’avis sur ce point. Mais une assignation reste la seule mesure concrète à prendre. Retirer sa carte de journaliste à Charles me semble un acte pathétique, réclamer cette sanction l’est plus encore. Pour le genre d’activités qu’il mène, il n’a guère besoin de cette carte.

 

Reste qu’au lendemain de la publication du rapport gouvernemental, je suis mieux dans ma peau que dans la sienne, ou dans celle de nombreuses autres personnalités qui se sont compromises dans la Controverse. Comme le beau-fils du Président Pérès, le Professeur Raphi Walden, qui est intervenu pour soutenir le faux rapport médical jordanien. Un rapport qui détaille les soins apportés à Jamal Dura les 1er, 2, 3 et 4 octobre 2000 à Amman, alors que le "patient" se trouvait à Gaza. Et pas même à l’hôpital Shifa mais à son domicile, dans le camp de réfugiés d’El-Bourej. Après avoir été atteint par treize balles à haute vélocité !

 

Comme Avi Issacharoff, journaliste à Haaretz, qui, après avoir publié les attendus de Walden sur le rapport jordanien, se refusa de diffuser le contenu de notre analyse.

 

Les élites du camp de concentration de Gaza

aiment les voitures de luxe

Philosémitisme, 27 mai 2013

 

La version médiatico-politique officielle en Europe est que le Hamas est populaire parce que vertueux et le Fatah impopulaire parce que corrompu. Ce serait donc pour cette raison que les Palestiniens plébiscitent le Hamas.  La situation mérite d'être nuancée: les élites du Hamas et du Fatah sont aussi corrompues les unes que les autres. Elles s'enrichissent grâce à la contrebande qui passe par les tunnels et aux trafics. Avec les aides faramineuses que leur accorde généreusement, entre autres, le contribuable européen, ces élites peuvent effectivement vivre dans le luxe.

 

Clarín s'est intéressé à cette question et rapporte que 60% du parc automobile dans la bande de Gaza serait composé de voitures neuves. Les élites du Hamas et les contrebandiers peuvent s'offrir des véhicules haut de gamme des marques Mercedes Benz, BMW et Toyota dont certains modèles coûtent plus de 55.000 dollars et qui viennent d'Egypte. La classe moyenne se contente de voitures coréennes importées d'Israël.  Curieusement on nous parle de blocus de la bande de Gaza.

 

Sur un autre registre tout aussi tragique, le journaliste Khaled Abu Toameh dénonce le silence de l'Union européenne face à la torture pratiquée par le Hamas et l'Autorité palestinienne. Why Doesn't the EU Condemn Palestinian Torture?. Nous connaissons la réponse – il faut faire croire que les Israéliens sont les seuls à pratiquer la torture, les seuls à être définitivement coupables et les Palestiniens à être définitivement les victimes les plus innocentes. Voir: Le Parlement européen rend hommage à Marwan Barghouti 'homme hors du commun' et aux terroristes palestiniens et Scénario: l'Europe exige la libération du terroriste du marathon de Boston!

 

 

HEZBOLLAH IN SYRIA, AL-NUSRA (AL-QAEDA) IN LEBANON —TWO COUNTRIES, ONE WAR?

 

Contents:                          

 

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

 

Iran’s Arms Supply to Hizbullah, International Dimensions: Dore Gold, JCPA, May 17, 2013—In an exceptional political signal, a senior Israeli official contacted Mark Landler of the New York Times and explained that the Israeli government was determined to continue to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hizbullah.

 

Nasrallah's Harangue: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, May 29, 2013—Hassan Nasrallah’s stirring and impassioned defense of Damascus despot Bashar Assad went far beyond the Hezbollah chief’s by-now expected bravado. This was something intrinsically different. Nasrallah is a proven master at toying with the emotions of both supporters and foes in Lebanon.

 

Syrian Devastation Is a Tale of Two Countries: Sam Dagher, Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2013 —By any measure Syria’s economy has been devastated by the uprising turned civil war, which entered its third year in March. But the fallout has been a tale of two Syrias. The regime has adapted to a shrinking economy as well as U.S. and European sanctions, while average Syrians bear the brunt of the pain.

 

Lebanon: Fault Line for Hezbollah's War on 'Takfiris' In Syria: Nasser Chararah, Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse, May 29, 2013 — With the fall of two rockets (a third failed to launch due to a malfunction) last week on the shiite-majority Chiyyah neighborhood in Beirut’s southern suburbs, Lebanon has entered a new phase of rising tension that threatens to import the conflict in Syria between Jabhat al-Nusra and the Syria  opposition on the one hand and Hezbollah on the other.
 

Iran's Strategy in Syria: Will Fulton, Joseph Holliday & Sam Wyer, Real Clear World, May 3, 2013—The Islamic Republic of Iran has conducted an extensive, expensive, and integrated effort to keep President Bashar al-Assad in power as long as possible while setting conditions to retain its ability to use Syrian territory and assets to pursue its regional interests should Assad fall.

 

On Topic Links

 

Kerry Getting Out-Foxed By Russia Over Syria: James P. Rubin, New Republic, May 29, 2013

The Folly of Waiting for a More Perfect Syrian Opposition: Shadi Hamid, The Atlantic, May 28 2013

Syrian Fault Lines in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley: Martin Armstrong, Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse,  May 29, 2013
In Jordan, Militias Form to Guard Against Potential Syrian Attacks: Taylor Luck, Washington Post, May 30, 2013

 

 

IRAN’S ARMS SUPPLY TO HIZBULLAH: INTERNATIONAL DIMENSIONS

Dore Gold

JCPA, May 17, 2013

 

In an exceptional political signal, a senior Israeli official contacted Mark Landler of the New York Times and explained that the Israeli government was determined to continue to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hizbullah. The official, who remained anonymous throughout the report, added that if Syria  President Bashar al-Assad reacts to this policy by attacking Israel – either directly or indirectly through a proxy force – he will “risk forfeiting his regime, for Israel will retaliate.”

 

Israel’s policy of preventing the supply of advanced weapons to Hizbullah has been in place for some time, but in the past was primarily the responsibility of the Israeli Navy which intercepted Iranian weapons ships in the Mediterranean. According to U.S. sources, Israel has more recently concentrated this effort in Syria  territory. The Syrians may have had an interest in assuring that some of their more advanced weaponry not fall into the hands of the Sunni extremist groups they have been fighting that are linked to al-Qaeda, like Jabhat al-Nusra. Should the Assad regime retreat to Alawite areas near the coast, it would not want to see those advanced weapons in the hands of the Sunni forces, with whom it may be fighting for years to come.

 

But a new motive appears to have become far more predominant in recent weeks. Iran appears to have decided that it must prevent a situation arising in which it loses its grip on Syria, which has been characterized by an Iranian institute tied to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the “35th district of Iran.” As a result, Iran appears to be providing itself with an option to take over Syria, if Assad falls. It has not only directly intervened by itself and deployed its own Revolutionary Guard forces on Syria  soil, but it has also sought to build up an expeditionary army made up of Lebanese Hizbullah and other Shiite militias from Iraq as well. Iran is training and equipping these forces. It is also providing Hizbullah with state-of-the-art weapons, partly as a reward for the services the organization is providing.

 

In the past, Israeli defense officials have said the supply of “game-changing weaponry” will not be tolerated and they have focused in their briefings on several specific types of arms transfers to Hizbullah:

 

a. Chemical weapons.

 

b. Iranian surface-to-surface missiles equipped with heavy warheads, like the Fateh 110, which has a highly destructive 600 kg. warhead as compared to the 30 kg. warhead on Hizbullah’s Katyusha rockets that it launched against Israel in the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

 

c. Long-range anti-aircraft missiles, like the Russian-manufactured SA-17, which can limit the freedom of action of the Israeli Air Force if deployed by Hizbullah in southern Lebanon. The SA-17 uses a mobile launcher. Israeli diplomacy has been especially concerned with the Russian sale of even more robust S-300 anti-aircraft missiles by Russia to Syria, though there are no indications that Hizbullah is a potential recipient of this system.

 

d. Long-range anti-ship missiles, like the Russian supersonic Yakhont cruise missile, that has a range of 300 km. and can strike at Israeli offshore gas rigs in the Eastern Mediterranean. Russia recently sent a shipment of the missiles which will be added to an initial inventory of 72 missiles received first in 2011.

 

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2012, Lt.-Gen. Ronald L. Burgess, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, pointed to the Yakhont as a threat to the U.S. Navy as well: “DIA remains concerned with the proliferation of advanced cruise missiles, such as Russia’s supersonic Yakhont anti-ship cruise missile which Moscow sold to Syria and Vietnam. The 300-km.-range Yakhont poses a major threat to naval operations particularly in the eastern Mediterranean.”

 

There is another international context to Israel’s position on Iran’s weapons shipments to Hizbullah. At the end of the Second Lebanon War, the U.S. and France drafted the text of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which was adopted unanimously on August 11, 2006, with Russian and Chinese support. Article 15 states that the resolution prohibits all UN member states from allowing their nationals to engage in “the sale or supply to any entity or individual in Lebanon of arms and related material of all types.”…

 

Those who recall the UN Security Council resolutions that were adopted against Iran’s nuclear program might not recall that they entailed an arms embargo on Iranian weapons exports as well. Thus, UN Security Council Resolution 1747, adopted on March 24, 2007, specifically stated in paragraph 5: “Iran shall not supply, sell or transfer directly or indirectly from its territory or by its nationals or using its flag vessels or aircraft any arms or related materiel, and that all States shall prohibit the procurement of such items from Iran by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in the territory of Iran.” …

 

Israel, in taking measures against this activity, is not only acting in accordance with its own security interests, but in a manner consistent with the repeated decisions of the international community. Unfortunately, since the UN never effectively implemented its own resolutions, Israel was left with no choice but to act in its own self-defense.

 

Iran continues to ignore these UN resolutions and flagrantly violates them. Israel is receiving strong international support from the U.S. and Britain for the stance it is taking against Iranian weapons supplies to Hizbullah. But clearly, should Israel come under criticism in the future, it can point to the fact of the failure of the international community to halt Iran’s airlift to its proxy forces like Hizbullah.

 

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NASRALLAH'S HARANGUE

Editorial

Jerusalem Post, May 29, 2013

 

Hassan Nasrallah’s stirring and impassioned defense of Damascus despot Bashar Assad went far beyond the Hezbollah chief’s by-now expected bravado. This was something intrinsically different. Nasrallah is a proven master at toying with the emotions of both supporters and foes in Lebanon. This time, though, and perhaps for the first time, he displayed genuine emotion.

 

It may have been Nasrallah’s usual braggadocio when he vowed to stay in the Syria  conflict “to the end of the road” and to bring victory to his beleaguered ally Damascus despot Bashar Assad. But the significant portions of his harangue were those in which he listed the consequences to Lebanon if Assad should fall.

Nasrallah predicted a catastrophic outcome, from his point of view, in such an eventuality. He said Lebanon would be the next to cave under. The subtext is that Hezbollah would collapse in the Lebanese content. His Shi’ite organization would, in other words, lose its stranglehold over Lebanon.

 

It was always apparent that Assad was Hezbollah’s patron and benefactor. But now Nasrallah had admitted in no uncertain terms that Assad is not merely an ally but an indispensable mainstay. Hence Nasrallah must do absolutely everything to keep Assad in power, because Nasrallah’s own power hinges on that. The fates of Assad and Hezbollah are one and the same. If Assad loses his struggle to maintain its sway over Syria, Hezbollah would lose its ability to maintain its sway over Lebanon. Hezbollah is not merely repaying a trusted confederate; Hezbollah is waging the ultimate fight for its power base in Lebanon….

 

Nasrallah keeps pouring more and more manpower into Syria and anti-Assad forces have now aimed their rockets at Hezbollah’s stronghold in Beirut. Just as Syria is considered a legitimate battleground for Hezbollah, so its Syria  enemies are likely to consider Lebanon a legitimate target for retaliation. Nasrallah has compelling reasons to fear that Assad’s defeat would send his enemies into Lebanon to root out the last vestiges of Assad’s prime accomplice, i.e. Hezbollah. This is not a conflict of choice for Hezbollah but a desperate fight to the finish.

 

Hezbollah’s investment in Assad’s preservation has now superseded all its other agendas – including its enmity for Israel. The attacks – attributed to Israel – on convoys transferring weapons of mass destruction from Syria to Lebanon appear to bother Nasrallah remarkably less than the fear for the future of the Assad regime. Hezbollah is not, of course, the only player in Syria’s immediate vicinity that has a vested interest in safeguarding Assad. The biggest stake in Assad’s well-being is held by the godfather of the pro-Assad axis – Iran. To a great extent Hezbollah is fighting as Tehran’s surrogate….

 

Nasrallah’s fiery oratory notwithstanding, his organization faces odds it never encountered in the past. It is not only pitted against Israel and domestic Lebanese opponents. The entire coterie of fanatic Sunni baddies from all around the Muslim world both castigates and actively opposes it. Hezbollah is more vulnerable and far weaker than at any previous juncture. This is a heartening development for Israel and a welcome byproduct from its policy of non-intervention.

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SYRIA  DEVASTATION IS A TALE OF TWO COUNTRIES

Sam Dagher

Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2013

 

By any measure Syria’s economy has been devastated by the uprising turned civil war, which entered its third year in March. But the fallout has been a tale of two Syrias. The regime has adapted to a shrinking economy as well as U.S. and European sanctions, while average Syria s bear the brunt of the pain.

 

Economists and some Syria  government officials estimate the country’s gross domestic product, which stood at almost $60 billion in 2010 according to the World Bank, has shrunk by nearly 45 percent over the past two years. Since March 2011, the Syria  pound has lost 70 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar. The World Bank estimates inflation exceeded 50 percent last year.

 

So far the government remains able to pay salaries, provide basic services and subsidize essentials like bread in areas under its control, mostly in the central and western parts of the country. Syria is estimated to have had about $18 billion in foreign currency reserves on March 2011 and one Syria  economist believes the government can sustain itself for two more years if there are no dramatic changes in the current situation.

 

Iran and Iraq are now supplying the regime with almost all of its oil and gas needs, according to a senior official at Syria’s Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources and a Syria  businessman in charge of organizing fuel truck convoys from neighboring countries and within Syria. Iran has extended to the regime this year credit lines of up to $4 billion to finance imports and oil and gas purchases, Syria  Central Bank Governor Adeeb Mayaleh told the official Tishreen newspaper Monday.

 

He also said Iran is finalizing a $4 billion loan to the regime. Syria has also set up barter deals with Baghdad. For example exports of Syria  cement to Iraq have skyrocketed in recent months according to figures compiled by a Damascus-based economist. The outside help is often coordinated by businessmen with close ties to the regime.

 

The streets of Damascus and other towns and cities under regime control appear normal. Markets and retail stores are well-stocked and businesses are functioning, albeit at a fraction of their capacity. But among average Syria s, the erratic exchange rate over the past few weeks, the dramatic rise in prices of many goods and talk that the government may lift subsidies estimated at half a trillion Syria  pounds ($3.3 billion) a year is setting off alarm bells.

 

“Intentions to Lift Subsidies…Last Mercy Bullet,” screamed a headline in the Syria  daily newspaper Baladna Monday. The paper estimated that prices of most goods have gone up on average by 240 percent since March 2011. Minimum monthly wages, meanwhile, have largely stayed the same, ranging from the equivalent of $200 to $300 depending on the exchange rate.

 

Much of the talk about ending subsidies has been fuelled by a government mandated increase this month in the price of gasoline (petrol) and cooking gas, which is distributed in metal jars. Another privately-held newspaper Al-Watan said Monday that there were sharp disagreements inside the current government over whether to increase salaries or lift subsidies.

 

The paper quoting a “source” present at a cabinet meeting earlier this month said that Qadri Jamil, deputy prime minister in charge of economic affairs, was in favour of lifting subsidies and raising salaries of government employees by 200 percent.

 

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LEBANON: FAULT LINE FOR HEZBOLLAH'S
WAR ON 'TAKFIRIS' IN SYRIA

Nasser Chararah

Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse, May 29, 2013

 

With the fall of two rockets (a third failed to launch due to a malfunction) last week on the shiite-majority Chiyyah neighborhood in Beirut’s southern suburbs, Lebanon has entered a new phase of rising tension that threatens to import the conflict in Syria between Jabhat al-Nusra and the Syria  opposition on the one hand and Hezbollah on the other. The rockets were fired from Bsaba in mount Lebanon toward Chiyyah, an Amal and Hezbollah stronghold.

 

The rockets were fired only hours after Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah announced in a speech the party’s decision to fight in Syria alongside the Syria  regime. This means that military cells that support the Syria  regime are present in Lebanon and can carry out attacks at any time they are ordered.

 

According to Lebanese security forces, the attack had been expected for several days. It was considered likely that Jabhat al-Nusra might retaliate for Hezbollah’s participation in the fighting in Syria. During the middle of last week, Hezbollah was concerned that Jabhat al-Nusra might target the liberation day celebrations held in Mashghara, Bekaa (liberation day is about the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the security zone it had established in Lebanon’s south). In the celebration, Nasrallah gave a speech on a giant screen and announced that his party is fighting in Syria….

 

Lebanese security sources expect the war between Hezbollah and Jabhat al-Nusra to escalate in the next few days. According to available information, Jabhat al-Nusra controls Lebanese and Palestinian Salafist groups in northern Lebanon, in the Ein al-Hilweh refugee camp near the southern city of Sidon, and in Beirut and its suburbs, especially in the Burj al-Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp.

 

For weeks, pro-Jabhat al-Nusra salafist groups in Lebanon have been training dozens of displaced Palestinians from Syria in at least two locations in the Ein al-Hilweh camp. Lebanese intelligence said that Osama al-Shehab, an al-Qaeda operative, supervises those two locations in Ein al-Hilweh camp.

 

According to a Lebanese security assessment, Jabhat al-Nusra can fight a war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. There are hundreds of thousands of displaced Syria s who wish to see Syria  president Bashar al-Assad toppled and who live among the Lebanese Sunni community in Lebanon. Jabhat al-Nusra can use those displaced Syrians in its fight against Hezbollah.

 

Recently, there have been political and on-the-ground signs that the war between Jabhat al-Nusra and Hezbollah is heading toward becoming an open war in both Syria and Lebanon. Among those signs was when Nasrallah described the Islamist opposition in Syria as “takfiris.”…

 

Can there really be a war between the two sides in Lebanon?

 

In his speech last Saturday [May 25], Nasrallah said that they would fight only in Syria and asked his Lebanese opponents who wish to fight Hezbollah to do so in Syria and keep Lebanon outside the fight. But some of Nasrallah’s supporters were critical of his speech. One of them told al-monitor, “Nasrallah may have made a mistake in revealing his weak spot. So [his opponents] may choose to fight Hezbollah in Lebanon, which Nasrallah is trying to keep out of the fight.” The same source told Al-Monitor that Hezbollah can fight on two fronts at the same time.

 

On the same day when the two rockets fell on Chiyyah, another rocket was fired toward Israel. This raised questions on whether the two incidents are connected. Some said that the party that launched the rockets in the morning is the same one that fired the rocket on Israel in the evening as a message to the Lebanese government that if you don’t pressure Hezbollah to pull out of Syria, the Syria  opposition will blow up the security situation in Lebanon, whether internally or by means of re-activating the Israeli front.

 

Since the beginning of this week, many Lebanese have started feeling afraid because of all these developments. Economic activity has markedly slowed since the developments started.

 

Nasser Chararah is a contributing writer for al-monitor's Lebanon pulse and for multiple arab newspapers and magazines.

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IRAN'S STRATEGY IN SYRIA

Will Fulton, Joseph Holliday & Sam Wyer

Real Clear World, May 3, 2013

 

The Islamic Republic of Iran has conducted an extensive, expensive, and integrated effort to keep President Bashar al-Assad in power as long as possible while setting conditions to retain its ability to use Syrian territory and assets to pursue its regional interests should Assad fall.

 

The Iranian security and intelligence services are advising and assisting the Syrian military in order to preserve Bashar al-Assad's hold on power. These efforts have evolved into an expeditionary training mission using Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Forces, Quds Force, intelligence services, and law enforcement forces. The deployment of IRGC Ground Forces to conflict abroad is a notable expansion of Iran's willingness and ability to project military force beyond its borders.

 

Iran has been providing essential military supplies to Assad, primarily by air. Opposition gains in Syria have interdicted many ground resupply routes between Baghdad and Damascus, and the relative paucity of Iranian port-visits in Syria suggests that Iran's sea-lanes to Syria are more symbolic than practical. The air line of communication between Iran and Syria is thus a key vulnerability for Iranian strategy in Syria. Iran would not be able to maintain its current level of support to Assad if this air route were interdicted through a no-fly zone or rebel capture of Syrian airfields.

 

Iran is also assisting pro-government Shabiha militias, partly to hedge against Assad's fall or the contraction of the regime into Damascus and a coastal Alawite enclave. These militias will become even more dependent on Tehran in such a scenario, allowing Iran to maintain some ability to operate in and project force from Syria….

 

Iraqi Shi‘a militants are also fighting in Syria in support of Assad. Their presence became overt in 2012 with the formation of the Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas Brigade, a pro-government militia that is a conglomerate of Syrian and foreign Shi‘a fighters, including members of Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraq-based Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq and Kata'ib Hezbollah. Like other paramilitary forces operating in Syria, these militants escalated their involvement as the conflict descended into civil war. The open participation of Iraqi Shi‘a militants in Syria is an alarming indicator of the expansion of sectarian conflict throughout the region.

 

The Syrian conflict has already constrained Iran's influence in the Levant, and the fall of the Assad regime would further reduce Tehran's ability to project power. Iran's hedging strategy aims to ensure, however, that it can continue to pursue its vital interests if and when the regime collapses, using parts of Syria as a base as long as the Syrian opposition fails to establish full control over all of Syrian territory.

 

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Kerry Getting Out-Foxed By Russia Over Syria: James P. Rubin, New Republic, May 29, 2013—Secretary of State John Kerry has gotten off to a fast start as America’s chief diplomat, already racking up a half a dozen sessions with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

 

The Folly of Waiting for a More Perfect Syrian Opposition: Shadi Hamid, The Atlantic, May 28 2013—Today, the debate over Syria focuses once again on the composition of the Syrian National Coalition. And while the United States, Europe, and Saudi Arabia push the opposition to expand its ranks to include more liberals, the Assad regime continues to make significant gains against rebel forces, who report a loss of morale and lack even the most basic equipment.

 

Syrian Fault Lines In Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley: Martin Armstrong, Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse,  May 29, 2013—In a former classroom in Arsal, Sekra al-Ahmad, 60, gently grips the forearm of her grandson. With her other hand she gently applies a lotion to a shallow wound near the child’s elbow, the result of government shelling that claimed the life one of Ahmad’s other grandchildren in Qusair.

 

Jordan, Informal Militias Form To Guard Against Syrian Attacks: Taylor Luck, Washington Post, May 30, 2013—Mohammed Hamad and his cousins, many handling a firearm for the first time, awkwardly balanced Kalashnikov rifles on their shoulders and shot practice rounds into watermelon targets here at the edge of the Yarmouk Valley separating Jordan and Syria.

 

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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.
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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 Chairman, 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

 

 

Mahmoud Abbas not Ideal Peace Partner, Tzipi Livni Admits: Robert Tait, The Telegraph, May 28, 2013
Two rockets hit Hezbollah-controlled district in Lebanon: Ha’aretz, May 29, 2013

Explaining Obama’s Fixation with Israel: Daniel Pipes, The National Review, March 19, 2013

 

 

Weekly Quotes

 

[D]ear neighbors, we – citizens of Israel – want very much to live in Peace, in a region of peace where you and we enjoy it together. But we do not think that there is any point in signing an agreement with someone who today is here and tomorrow is in a grave, and his successors won’t honor his signature. When the Middle East becomes a region of peace, give us a call, perhaps we will join the peace that you will begin in the Middle East. until then please leave us alone. Mordechai Kedar, lecturer in Arabic at Bar Ilan University and former IDF Military Intelligence officer, in an open letter to the Arab League following it’s announcement that it had endorsed a two-state solution based on the 1949 armistice lines.  (Jewish Press, May 23, 2013)

 

“Many in the international community doubt UNRWA’s impartiality and motives. Israel supports UNRWA’s important humanitarian work; however, actions that encourage incitement, conflict and, ultimately, violence undermine this work….It’s quite something for UNRWA to insist that the map predates the creation of Israel, given that the PLO only adopted this flag in 1964. UNRWA’s grasp of history and geography is nothing short of appalling.” — Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, in a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon protesting the fact that Ann Dismorr, director of the UN Relief and Works Agency in Lebanon, stood in front of cameras holding a map of Israel labelled “Arab Palestine” with Israel non-existent. (Jerusalem Post, May 23, 2013)

 

“To see the Assad regime point the finger at Israel out of professed concern for the health of Syrians is, frankly, a sick joke. They've slaughtered 80,000 of their own people, and are now busy destroying the lives of millions more. The real question is this: Why is the UN allowing mass murderers to deflect attention from their crimes by scape-goating democracies? A world health assembly should be about Hippocrates, not hypocrisy.” — Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, a non-governmental monitoring group accredited to the UN, condemning the annual assembly of the UN’s World Health Organization’s for adopting its only country-specific  resolution  condemning Israel, (UN Watch, May 22, 2013)

 

“I think there is an opportunity [for peace], but for many reasons it’s not on the tips of everyone’s tongue. People in Israel aren’t waking up every day and wondering if tomorrow there will be peace because there is a sense of security and a sense of accomplishment and of prosperity.” —  John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, to reporters before entering a meeting with President Shimon Peres, during a recent trip to Israel in an attempt to re-start peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. (Times of Israel, May 23, 2013)

 

“I value our president [Shimon Peres], but the concept of withdrawals failed and brought thousands of victims. Every time we give up land, people are killed.” — Naftali Bennet, leader of the Bayit Yehudi party, responding to President Peres’ speech in Jordan at the World Economic Forum where he promoted a two-state solution.  Bennett called for the government to declare that “this is our land, and it is not for sale.” (Jerusalem Post, May27, 2013)

 

"A legitimate question is with whom we are going to sign an agreement. The Gaza Strip is being controlled by Hamas. They are not part of the peace. They are not willing…to accept Israel's right to exist, to renounce terrorism and to accept all the agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. And on the other side, we have Abu Mazen [Abbas], for many years without elections on the Palestinian side, without any possibility to change anything in Gaza, even if he wants to. So what's the use of signing an agreement?" Tzipi Livni, Israel’s Minister of Justice and specially designated peace negotiator said in an address to foreign diplomats in Jerusalem. (The Telegraph, May 29, 2013)

 

“Representatives of the Arab League are amending the ‘Saudi initiative’ and turning it into a ‘peace’ treaty with Israel. Really? Who does the Arab League represent? Only the regimes of the Sunni countries, or what's left of them. The Shiite countries – Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon – no longer cooperate with this league. So Israel makes peace with the Sunnis; but what about the others? We must keep in mind that the territory the IDF will withdraw from will be seized immediately by armed Salafis from all across the Arab world – as was the case in Sinai and Syria. Who will come to Israel's aid when it is attacked?” — Guy Bechor, head of the Middle East Division at the Lauder School of Government at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya. (Ynet News, May 28, 2013)

 

“She’s an accomplished scholar, but her views on Israel would be quite disturbing to many students. She doesn’t believe in a Jewish state and we want other schools to think twice before giving her awards because it offends students.” — Ilana Donohue, McGill Students for Israel co-president in a statement to the Montreal Gazette concerning Mcgill University’s intention of awarding an honorary doctorate to Judith Butler, an American academic and promoter of the boycott of Israel. Jeff Bicher, executive director of Hillel Montreal, on the other hand, said that,  while he supports the students’ position, “we do not believe that the honorary degree for her academic work condones in any way her anti-Israel activism.” (The Algemeiner, May 24, 2013)

“Do you want us to abduct other Shalits? This is not part of our culture. We cannot do this.” —Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority President, lamenting Israel’s failure to release pre-Oslo Palestinian security prisoners. Israel had only agreed to a mass prisoner release to free kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit from Gaza, he recalled. (Times of Israel, May 28, 2013)

 

“Those who refuse to abduct Zionist soldiers renounce the pain and suffering of thousands of prisoners yearning for freedom. Operations to capture enemy soldiers and trade them for our heroic prisoners are at the heart of our people’s culture, and are a source of pride for them and their resistance.” — Abu-Ubaida, spokesman for the Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, on his Facebook page. (Times of Israel, May 28, 2013)

"[It’s] like putting Jack the Ripper in charge of a women's shelter." Hillel Neuer,  head of UN Watch, a Geneva-based advocacy group that monitors the work of the United Nations, commenting on the selection of  Iran as chair of the UN Disarmament Conference. (UN Watch, May 13, 2013) 

 

“Clearly this move is a threat to us. At this stage I can’t say there is an escalation. The shipments have not been sent on their way yet. And I hope that they will not be sent.” But “if God forbid they do reach Syria, we will know what to do.” Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s Defence Minister, responding to Russia’s declared intention to ship sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles to Syria despite Israel’s protest that it would be an escalating factor in the war in Syria. (Globe and Mail, May 28, 2013)

 

'If the attacks of Hezbollah against Syrian territory do not stop within 24 hours, we will take all measures to hunt Hezbollah, even in hell.' General Salim Idriss, chief of staff of the Syrian rebels' Supreme Military Council, said in an interview with Dubai-based al-Arabiya television. (Sky News, May 29, 2013)

 

“We are very disappointed. We don’t have any patience [any] more” General Salim Idriss, military chief of the Free Syrian Army, responding to the apparent decision of the European Union not to send arms to Syrian rebels until after a planned peace conference in Geneva.  At the same time, British Foreign Secretary said peace talks were a priority and that “as we work for a Geneva conference, we are not taking any decision to send arms to anyone.” Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department’s Patrick Ventrell, said that Washington had not made a decision to arm the rebels and condemned “all support of arms to the regime,” referring to Russia’s declared intention of selling highly sophisticated S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to the Assad regime in Syria. (National Post, May 29, 2013)

 

Over the past few days, there have been additional mind-boggling exposures of further scandals, lack of transparency, cover-ups and ethical failures at the highest possible levels of the Claims Conference leadership and management. Unless these latest reports appearing in the Jerusalem Post and JTA are refuted, we must demand the immediate resignations of all those engaged in the subterfuges. It was in April 2007 that I wrote the first of 21 articles calling for a reform of the Claims Conference and appealing to the Board to ensure that wherever possible, all funds being directed to general projects be frozen and instead steered towards ameliorating the plight of the desperate elderly and ailing survivors unable to afford food, medicine and basic necessities of life. I repeatedly stated that it was our obligation as Jews, and in particular the duty of the Claims Conference, to ensure that these survivors would live out their remaining years with a modicum of dignity.” Isi Liebler, in an op-ed article in the Jerusalem Post. (Jerusalem Post, May 22, 2013)

 

“To me, when I look at Israel, I see not only a Jewish state rebuilt on the ancient Jewish homeland, I see an outpost of the civilization in which I believe. Because I do not believe that all civilizations are equivalent. I don't believe in a civilization that torments women and children, that's woefully corrupt, that in the 21st century, not only cannot build a competitive automobile, but cannot even build a competitive bicycle! And while I wish the Arabs well—I wish no man harm, with the exception of a few terrorists here or there—nonetheless, to me, Israel is a beacon of justice, for rule of law, humanity, decency, culture… in short, Israel belongs to the Jews; it belongs to my civilization.” Ralph Peters, Lt. Col. U.S. Army (ret.), in an interview with Arutz 7 prior to delivering a speech at the American Friends of Ateret Cohanim's 34th Anniversary Gala. (Arutz 7, May 23, 2013)

 

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LIVNI: ABBAS NOT IDEAL PEACE PARTNER (Jerusalem) Tzipi Livni, Israel's chief peace negotiator, has expressed doubts over the ability of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, to deliver an agreement. Addressing foreign diplomats and journalists, Livni – who also serves as justice minister in Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet – likened any agreement with Abbas to a signed check on an empty bank account because he does not control Gaza, which is run by the Islamist Hamas movement. She also acknowledged doubts over Abbas' legitimacy in the West Bank – which his Fatah movement controls – because he has not held elections for several years.(The Telegraph, May 29, 2013)

TERROR OVERWHELMING WESTERN INTELLIGENCE (Herzliya) The gruesome murder of a British soldier in London by two British Muslims, the first Islamist killing in Britain since suicide bombers killed 52 people in London in 2005, has revived the fear of the "lone wolf" jihadist threat in the Western world. The Boston Marathon bombing a month ago also comes to mind. Western democratic governments have not yet realized that the complete freedom of speech, propaganda and organization offered to radical Islamist religious and political leaders who actively support violence is the single greatest danger to their security. The security and law enforcement agencies seem to be overwhelmed by the large numbers of potential suspect terrorists they have to monitor and too cautious in their preventive operations. There is a salient pattern of plots or attacks against Jewish targets acting as the precursor for major terrorist plots against Western, Christian, and moderate Muslim targets. (Ha'aretz, May 29, 2013)

 

ROCKET ON HEZBOLLAH A TURNING POINT (Beirut) A rocket attack on the Hezbollah stronghold in south Beirut marks a turning point in the Syrian war and the clearest signal yet that the conflict is likely to escalate and spread to Lebanon, already on a knife’s edge due to sectarian divisions. Shi’ite- Sunni strife in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere is manifesting itself in the Syrian civil war, dragging neighboring countries into the conflict. The rocket attack seems to be the opening salvo in Lebanon by Sunnis against the Iran/Hezbollah/Syria axis. Further examples of this came on Sunday as Egyptian jihadist movements called on Mujahedeen from around the world to go to Lebanon and fight Hezbollah, according to a report on Now Lebanon’s website. And Bahrain’s foreign minister called Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah a “terrorist” a day after his speech on Saturday, which called for strongly supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to a report on Al-Arabiya. (Jerusalem Post, May 27, 2013)

 

FORMER ITALIAN LEGISLATOR MAKES ALIYAH (Rome) The Rome Jewish community leadership gave a rousing send-off to journalist and former Italian parliament member Fiamma Nirenstein ahead of her departure for Israel on aliyah Sunday. Born in Florence, Nirenstein was elected to Parliament in April 2008 as a member of the center-right People of Freedom ticket headed by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. During her tenure in Parliament, she was outspoken in support of Israel and in combating anti-Semitism. The Rome Jewish Community board, along with representatives of other Jewish organizations and the Israeli ambassador to Italy, toasted her at a ceremony ahead of Shabbat on Friday. “Her contribution in the last legislature was decisive, and not to be able to see her sitting in Parliament anymore is, for us, an insurmountable loss,” Rome Jewish community president Riccardo Pacifici said. (Jewish Press/JTA, May 26th, 2013)

 

RUSSIA TO ARM SYRIA REGIME WITH ANTI-AIRCRAFT MISSILES TO PREVENT FOREIGN INTERVENTION(Moscow) A top Russian diplomat confirmed that Moscow will provide Syria with state-of-the-art air defense missiles to prevent foreign intervention in the country. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov wouldn't say whether Russia has shipped any of the long-range S-300 air defense missile systems, but added that Moscow isn't going to abandon the deal despite strong Western and Israeli criticism. Ryabkov said the deal helps restrain some "hot heads" considering a military intervention in Syria. Russia has been the key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, protecting it from the United Nations sanctions and providing it with weapons despite the civil war there that has claimed over 70,000 lives. Ryabkov's statement comes a day after European Union's decision to lift an arms embargo to Syrian opposition. (Ha’aretz, May 28, 2013)

 

SYRIAN REBELS NEAR ISRAEL BORDER STOLE UN’S ARMORED TRUCKS (Golan Heights) A Syrian rebel group that twice abducted United Nations peacekeepers near the Israeli border in the past three months stole several UN vehicles, a UN Peacekeeping spokesperson acknowledged to The Times of Israel — including at least two sophisticated armored personnel carriers. An Israeli expert warned that the sophisticated UN-marked vehicles could be used in surprise border attacks on IDF targets. UNDOF reported in its quarterly report to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that on March 6, a supply convoy carrying 21 UN personnel was waylaid by Syrian rebels near the village of Jamlah, near the Israeli border. After several days in captivity the Filipino peacekeepers were released unharmed, but, as of the writing of the March report, their four vehicles were “yet to be recovered.”  Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade now has two ‘virtually indestructible’ vehicles, which Israeli expert warns could be used in surprise attacks. (Times of Israel, May 28, 2013)

 

HUNGARIAN MP: AUSCHWITZ ‘MAY NOT REFLECT REAL FACTS’(Budapest) An MP for the ultra-far right Jobbik party in Hungary has said that the Auschwitz concentration camp museum “may not reflect real facts,” the International Business Times reports. During a discussion in parliament of a bill funding visits of Hungarian teenagers in the Nazi death camp in Poland, Tamas Gaudi-Nagy said the country’s schools should not be “forced to take up such an expensive venture” to visit site whose historical accuracy is, he believes, doubtful. Gaudi-Nagy’s statements were attacked by the country’s ruling Fidesz party. Its leader, Antal Rogan, said: “Nobody has the right to question the Holocaust, the suffering and death of millions of people.” (Jewish Press, May 28th, 2013)

 

70-80% OF PALESTINIANS DISPLACED IN SYRIA (Homs Province, Syria) Conflict in Syria has displaced more than two-thirds of the Palestinian refugees in the country, AFP quoted the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNWRA) said on Wednesday. "We have registered approximately 530,000 Palestinian refugees. We believe that almost all of them, certainly maybe 70-80 percent, are displaced from their normal homes," UNRWA Commissioner General Filippo Grandi told AFP during a visit to Syria. Speaking after meeting Palestinian refugees at a camp in central Homs province, Grandi  told AFP that "12-15 percent of the refugee population in Syria is now [made] refugee again in another country." (Jerusalem Post, May 23, 2013)

 

PERI COMMITEE APPROVES SANCTIONS ON DRAFT DODGERS (Jerusalem) The ministerial committee for equalizing the burden [of military service] approved Wednesday imposing criminal sanctions on draft dodgers, including haredim. The clause in the proposed bill, that would mandate how to draft yeshiva students and punish those who evade service, also makes room for the exemption of 1,800 yeshiva students from serving in the IDF. Finance Minister Yair Lapid lauded the decision in a press conference following the vote, describing the measure as the first significant step toward equality in the burden. This government proved it can make a change, even in the most explosive topics," he said. "This issue ended coalitions," he added. "In three years, 70% of haredim will be drafted. This is a badge of pride for this government and our party. We promised our voters we would not give in and we are keeping our promise." (Jerusalem Post, May 29, 2013)

 

ITALY PROF. SAYS HAS FOUND WORLD'S OLDEST TORAH   (Rome) An Italian professor said on Wednesday he has identified what he believes is the world's oldest complete scroll of the Torah, containing the full text of the first five books of Hebrew scripture. Mauro Perani, professor of Hebrew at the University of Bologna, said experts and carbon dating tests done in Italy and the United States dated the scroll as having been made between 1155 and 1225. The scroll, which has been in possession of the Bologna University Library for more than 100 years, had been previously thought to be from the 17th century. The scroll is made up of 58 sections of soft sheep leather each sewn together, most of them with three columns of script. (Jerusalem Post, May 29, 2013)

 

CIJR NOTES PASSING OF LONG-TIME SUPPORTERS (Montreal) Noted Montreal entrepreneur and philanthropist Morton Brownstein z"l, at 85.  Heir to the Brown's Shoes business, founded in 1940, he built it into today's 40 cross-Canada outlets. Known for leading the Supreme Court challenge to Quebec's language laws, a supporter of many community causes, including the Jewish General Hospital, he was a strong and eloquent supporter of the State of Israel and of Jewish institutions in Montreal and Canada.

 

Colonel Bernard J. Finestone, z"l, at age 93.  Joining the fight against the Nazis  at age 17, he was a tank officer with the B.C. Dragoons, seriously wounded in the Italian campaign. A member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Col. Feinstone was a strong Zionist who supported the Jewish state, Israel, from the War of Independence onwards. He loved speaking to students, and was an avid reader of CIJR's Daily Isranet Briefing.

 

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Mahmoud Abbas not Ideal Peace Partner, Tzipi Livni Admits: Robert Tait, The Telegraph, May 28, 2013—Tzipi Livni, Israel's chief peace negotiator, has expressed doubts over the ability of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, to deliver an agreement even while insisting on the need for a historic deal to end the Middle East conflict.

 

Two rockets hit Hezbollah-controlled district in Lebanon: Ha’aretz, May 29, 2013—Two rockets hit a Shi'ite Muslim district of southern Beirut on Sunday, residents said, wounding several people, a day after the leader of Lebanese Shi'ite militant movement Hezbollah said his group would continue fighting in Syria until victory.

 

Explaining Obama’s Fixation with Israel: Daniel Pipes, The National Review, March 19, 2013—It’s not just that he’s spending days in Israel this week, but that he has spent a disproportionate amount of time over the last four years searching for a solution to the Arab–Israeli conflict. The Left thinks the Arab-Israeli conflict is key to world problems.

 

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.

 

 

 

MCGILL U. SHOULD BE ASHAMED TO CONFER PHD. ON PRO-TERRORIST, ANTI-ISRAEL RACIST BUTLER

“Understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the left, that are part of a global left, is extremely important.” — Judith Butler, 2006

 

“The loss of demographic advantage for the Jewish population in Israel would surely improve prospects for democracy in that region,” — Judith Butler, 2012

 

Contents:                          

 

Download a pdf version of today's Daily Briefing.

 

McGill Students for Israel and Hillel Mcgill Statement: McGill Students for Israel, Facebook, May 22, 2013—McGill Students for Israel would like to express its deep dismay and disappointment on your decision to confer upon Judith Butler an honorary McGill degree.

 

McGill's Judith Butler Bungle: Gil Troy, The Daily Beast, May 24, 2013—When I first heard that McGill University, my university, was awarding Professor Judith Butler an honorary doctorate, I winced, quietly. Butler is a caustic critic of Israel, with a blind spot for terrorist totalitarians. Nevertheless, I acknowledge that she is a respected scholar. And, frankly, I never wanted to be one of those hair-trigger activists who bellows predictably at every anti-Israel affront.

 

McGill Awarding Honorary Doctorate to Divisive Ideologue: Barbara Kay, National Post, May 23, 2013—Universities must be careful in the awarding of honorary doctorates. What seems like a safe choice at the time can come back to haunt a university later. Sometimes even five minutes later. McGill University will be awarding philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler of the University of California at Berkeley an honorary doctorate on May 30. The choice has stirred up controversy and no small degree of dismay amongst many students and some staff at McGill.

 

Judith Butler: More Palestinian than the Palestinians: Alan Johnson, World Affairs Journal, Oct. 16, 2012—In 2006 the rock star left-wing academic Judith Butler said that “understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the left, that are part of a global left, is extremely important.” (See 16:24 in this video.) Butler’s remark expressed all that’s wrong with the new style of “Palestinian solidarity work.”

 

On Topic Links

 

Anti-Israel Event at Brooklyn College Promotes Hate, Represses Dissent: Danielle Avel, Breibart, Feb. 19, 2013

Judith Butler Shouldn't Be Honoured by McGill University: Lauryn Oates, Huffington Post, May 27, 2013
 

 

MCGILL STUDENTS FOR ISRAEL AND HILLEL MCGILL STATEMENT

McGill Students for Israel
Facebook, May 22, 2013

 

Dear Chancellor Steinberg,

 

McGill Students for Israel would like to express its deep dismay and disappointment on your decision to confer upon Judith Butler an honorary McGill degree. An honorary degree “reflects McGill University’s highest aspirations and ideals”, and the recipient “…will serve as an inspiration and role model to our students, graduates and our community as a whole [and] to enhance the reputation of McGill University”. ” This is why we are so distressed that you have chosen to award an individual who calls for the boycott of the State of Israel and its dismantlement as a Jewish state.

 

Butler has called Hamas and Hezbollah, recognized terrorist organizations, “progressive” organizations that are part of the global left, later clarifying that “They are “left in the sense that they oppose colonialism and imperialism, but their tactics are not ones that I would ever condone.” A cursory examination of these organizations reveals the totalitarian and oppressive nature of Hamas and Hezbollah, who have their own brand of religious imperialism. In the aftermath of the Israeli army’s withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in 2000, over 6,500 Southern Lebanese fled to Israel, rightly fearing for their lives as Hezbollah waged a merciless media campaign against citizens from the South, with Hezbollah General Secretary Hassan Nasrallah saying, “We will enter their bedrooms, pierce their stomachs, slaughter them and slice their throats.”

Hezbollah has not only launched attacks on Israeli civilians inside Israel, but has also attacked Jews outside of Israel, such as in the 1994 Jewish community center bombing in Buenos Aires in which 87 people were killed and 100 injured, and the 2012 suicide bombing of a passenger bus carrying Israeli civilians in Bulgaria.

 

Hamas’ charter calls for the genocide of the Jewish people and borrows from the Czarist anti-Semitic forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. Its misogyny, homophobia (homosexuality is a crime in Hamas-ruled Gaza), glorification of terror and death, and lack of respect for basic human rights are well documented.  Since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, more than 12, 8000 rockets and mortars have been fired indiscriminately at Israeli towns.

Are these the highest aspirations and ideals of McGill University? 

Ms. Butler is a leader in Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to isolate Israel culturally, economically and academically, with the ultimate goal of eliminating Israel as a Jewish state. The BDS campaign opposes peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians and rejects the internationally endorsed two state solution. BDS actively opposes any form of cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian governments.

 

Is this something that McGill believes should inspire its graduates?

 

We consider the honor McGill is about to bestow on Professor Butler astounding and deeply offensive.  We urge you to rethink this decision. Butler’s support of Hamas and Hezbollah is an affront to the values that McGill holds dear as an institution of higher learning, and is offensive to those who have suffered from the tyrannical rule and terrorist attacks of these organizations. Her leadership of the BDS campaign to de-legitimize and demonize Israel does not consist of an accomplishment that McGill should celebrate.

 

Respectfully, McGill Students for Israel & Hillel McGill

 

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MCGILL'S JUDITH BUTLER BUNGLE

Gil Troy

The Daily Beast, May 24, 2013

 

When I first heard that McGill University, my university, was awarding Professor Judith Butler an honorary doctorate, I winced, quietly. Butler is a caustic critic of Israel, with a blind spot for terrorist totalitarians. Nevertheless, I acknowledge that she is a respected scholar. And, frankly, I never wanted to be one of those hair-trigger activists who bellows predictably at every anti-Israel affront.

 

However, on reconsideration, inspired by a powerful statement by McGill Students for Israel, I have decided to challenge the McGill honorary doctorate committee’s foolish decision, aware that the university will not change its mind—and hoping no protestors will disrupt commencement or repudiate McGill overall. I am not fighting my university, whose ideals I cherish. I am, however, fighting to uphold those very ideals for which McGill stands, along with all great universities.

 

Controversy focuses on Butler’s general support for boycotting Israel and, particularly, her remarks at a “teach in” on war, when she said, “Understanding Hamas/Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the left, that are part of a global left, is extremely important. That does not stop us from being critical of certain dimensions of both movements.” Her follow-up explanation was that they are “‘left’ in the sense that they oppose colonialism and imperialism, but their tactics are not ones that I would ever condone.”

 

The only thing “anti-imperialist” about these movements is that they use that label to mask their desire to destroy Israel. Her welcome telegraphs a show of solidarity with these two organizations because of that defining ideological stance.

 

Both times she failed to denounce the Hamas-Hezbollah religious zealotry, homophobia, sexism, anti-Semitism and genocidal aims. Her need to prettify these terrorist organizations as “social movements,” her reductionist insult to progressivism by suggesting that these brutal anti-democratic movements are at all progressive because they are imperialist meaning anti-Israel, reflects a moral obtuseness and intellectual sloppiness that has made many intellectuals enablers of Islamist terrorists and Palestinian rejectionism.

 

The McGill committee’s Butler blind spot reflects a broader intellectual malady today. This week, even the Wall Street Journal described the rioters in Sweden as angry youths without mentioning words like “immigrants” or Islamists. That is like covering the Watts or Rodney King Los Angeles riots without mentioning race.

 

Of course, we must not demonize any religion, race, or ethnic group. The objection to boycotting begins with its essentialist bigotry that attacks Israel as an entity rather than Israeli policy. Too many academics like Butler have been ideologically colonized by a form of totalitarianism which is intellectually imperialist—imposing a foreign regime of dos and don’ts, of likes and dislikes, that distort the truth, simplify the complex, reward the violent, and doom peace efforts.

 

Academics used to push politicians to see truth clearly—in all its messiness. Today, politicized professors like Butler push students to cloud the truth through their particular political prism. That McGill, like so many other universities, honors such academic saboteurs insults all truth seekers, left and right.

 

This is not about Butler’s right to free speech or her right to be wrong. An honorary doctorate rewards exceptional role modeling; tenure rewards good scholarship. As the McGill Students’ statement notes, an honorary degree “reflects McGill University’s highest aspirations and ideals,” celebrating the recipient as “an inspiration and role model to our students, graduates and our community as a whole to enhance the reputation of McGill University.”

 

Hmm. My McGill—our McGill—is about the noble, consistent ideals John Peters Humphrey and others from McGill Law School defined when writing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Not Butler’s amoral, sloppy, politically correct identity politics.

 

My McGill—our McGill—is about the sacrifices 5568 men and women of McGill made defeating totalitarianism in World War II not the weak intellectual fig leafs Butler provides today’s totalitarians.

 

My McGill—our McGill—is about the exemplary impact of an Irwin Cotler in fighting for human rights worldwide, not the damage a Judith Butler does in rationalizing Islamists’ human wrongs by uniting in anti-Israel zeal.

 

My McGill—our McGill—is about the tremendous bridge-building efforts of a Jim Torczyner, whose McGill Middle East Program in Civil Society and Peace Building has been fighting poverty, ignorance, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia with creative anti-poverty programs and joint social work studies involving Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, and Canadians for decades now. Not the bridge-burning efforts of Butler and her BDS comrades who polarize an already divided Middle East.

 

My McGill—our McGill—is about a scholarly tradition since 1821, which encourages complex thinking rather than the simplistic sloganeering of Butler’s boycotters, which reduces the messy Israel-Palestinian conflict to a black and white, good-guys versus bad guys fight.

 

And my McGill—our McGill—is about the courageous leadership in the fight against anti-Semitism spearheaded by our outgoing principal Heather Munroe-Blum, who said calls for McGill to boycott Hebrew University go “against everything McGill stands for. It suggests a cowardice that I, as Principal of this great university, categorically reject.” How tragic that one of her last acts as principal will reward someone who epitomizes that cowardice.

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MCGILL AWARDING HONORARY DOCTORATE TO DIVISIVE IDEOLOGUE

Barbara Kay

National Post, May 23, 2013

 

Universities must be careful in the awarding of honorary doctorates. What seems like a safe choice at the time can come back to haunt a university later. Sometimes even five minutes later. McGill University will be awarding philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler of the University of California at Berkeley an honorary doctorate on May 30. The choice has stirred up controversy and no small degree of dismay amongst many students and some staff at McGill.

 

According to McGill’s own definition, an honorary degree “reflects McGill University’s highest aspirations and ideals.” The recipient “…will serve as an inspiration and role model to our students, graduates and our community as a whole [and will] enhance the reputation of McGill University.”

 

I don’t think Judith Butler fits a single word of that description. Although a respected intellectual in the small hothouse world of radical feminists, Butler’s greater claim to fame arises from her fixation with (in her eyes) Israel’s crimes against humanity. She is a leading figure in the international campaign to delegitimate Israel.

 

Butler advocates for the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), singling Israel out from all other nations as a perpetrator of evil. The BDS campaign opposes the two-state solution to peace in the Middle East. Its ultimate goal is to replace Israel with a one-state “solution,” whereby Israel would be dissolved as a national Jewish homeland.

 

Butler has called the recognized terrorist organizations of Hamas and Hezbollah “progressive.” She has said that “understanding Hamas and Hezbollah as social movements that are on the global left is important.” Social movements? When she suffered blowback for what was widely perceived as terrorism laundering, she protested her words had been taken out of context, stating in an August, 2012 letter to the Jerusalem Post that “I do not endorse practices of violent resistance and neither do I endorse state violence.” In other words, adding insult to injury, she espouses the more pernicious, morally equivalent assignment of equal blame for terrorism to both Hezbollah and the state of Israel.

 

Although a pioneer of Queer Studies and an advocate for gay rights in the West, like many extreme leftists, Butler upholds double standards where persecution of gays is concerned. She denounced a gay organization in Germany as Islamophobic for criticizing Muslim violence against gays.

 

But quite aside from her offensive political views, Butler should not be honoured because she is a terrible writer. In 1999, The New Criterion, a highbrow cultural magazine, cited Butler for especially bad writing, one of a “triumvirate of absurd figures” .

 

In an essay, “The Professor of Parody,” renowned philosopher Martha Nussbaum raised the issue of Butler’s style, calling it “ponderous and obscure” and “dense with allusions to other theorists, drawn from a wide range of different theoretical traditions…It bullies the reader into granting that, since one cannot figure out what is going on, there must be something significant going on, some complexity of thought, where in reality there are often familiar or even shopworn notions, addressed too simply and too casually to add any new dimension of understanding.”

 

Most famously, in 1998, philosophy professor Denis Dutton’s journal Philosophy and Literature awarded Butler first prize in its “Bad Writing Competition,” which claims to “celebrate bad writing from the most stylistically lamentable passages found in scholarly books and articles.” Butler received the award for this 94-word  sentence that was published in the journal Diacritics:

 

The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.

 

So let’s tally up. We have an honoree who represents the most controversial aspect of the most toxic and divisive issue roiling campuses all over the world. We have extreme ideology that offends a wide swath of the McGill community. And we have egregiously bad writing that offends true scholars. Is Judith Butler really “an inspiration and role model” to students? The answer is no. And the question is: What was Chancellor Arnold Steinberg thinking in issuing this invitation?

 

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JUDITH BUTLER: MORE PALESTINIAN THAN THE PALESTINIANS

Alan Johnson

World Affairs Journal, Oct. 16, 2012

 

In 2006 the rock star left-wing academic Judith Butler said that “understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the left, that are part of a global left, is extremely important.” (See 16:24 in this video.) Butler’s remark expressed all that’s wrong with the new style of “Palestinian solidarity work.”

 

Viewing the two-state solution as a sell-out, Butler attacks the PA application to the United Nations for recognition. The bid’s only value, she argues, is that it allows the left to jump up and down on the grave of the “sham of the peace negotiations” and celebrate the “break with the Oslo framework.” She wags her finger at Salam Fayyad and Mahmoud Abbas. By seeking a deal with Israel they are “abandon[ing] the right of return for diasporic Palestinians” and “potentially abandon[ing] Gaza.” If they succeed, “half of all Palestinians may well be disenfranchised.”

 

The Guardian newspaper sounded the same note when it published the leaked “Palestine Papers” from the Olmert-Abbas Annapolis talks, with distorted editorial gloss, and called Palestinian negotiators “craven” for engage seriously in final status talks. The London Review of Books routinely denounces Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, as a collaborator. “Fayyad’s critics,” wrote Adam Shatz, “call him a ‘good manager of the occupation,’ a ‘builder of apartheid roads,’ ‘the sugar daddy who got us hooked on aid,’ and it’s all true.”

 

The Palestinian national movement is being policed from the “left,” and from the coffee shops and seminar rooms of London and New York by people who consider themselves more Palestinian than the Palestinians. Butler gives an outraged “No!” to Abbas. She will not “sacrifice the right of return for millions of Palestinians outside the region.” But think about that “No!” It is a program for the dismantling of the Jewish state. “The loss of demographic advantage for the Jewish population in Israel would surely improve prospects for democracy in that region,” she writes (optimistically, shall we say) in her new book, Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism. As Leon Wieseltier wrote in the New Republic back in 2003, “the one state solution is not the alternative for Israel. It is the alternative to Israel.”

 

The new style treats negotiations as useless. Butler claims the Oslo years have seen only “the indefinite deferral of all ‘permanent status issues’—effectively establishing the occupation as a regime without foreseeable end.” Quite as if there never was Camp David at which Ehud Barak offered the shop, ’67 borders more or less, settlements uprooted; nor the Clinton-era proposals which Barak accepted and Arafat rejected; nor Annapolis at which Olmert offered all of that and more, including a shared capital in Jerusalem.

 

Another part of the new style is to pose an entirely literary “alternative” to the two-state solution. Butler talks of “Palestinian self-determination … without external interference,” “the right of return for diasporic Palestinians,” “the one-state solution.” Refusing to travel to Israel, so with no feel for Israeli society, and with a prose style that secured her first prize in the “Philosophy and Literature Bad Writing Contest” Butler’s answers are, literally, literary. More importantly, Butler gets wrong what the conflict is actually about. Two highly developed and distinct societies, Israeli and Palestinian, each based on a powerful sense of national identity, must divide the land. When there are strong desires for national self-determination, the one-state idea collapses. Brit Shalom, the bi-national Zionist movement of the 1920s, could not know this. We can’t not know it.

 

To divide the land, each people needs to feel confident and secure if it is to make excruciating compromises. For that, each people must feel itself to be understood as a permanent feature of the Middle East. Butler’s one-statism does the opposite. It proposes to resolve a national question by denying the right to national self-determination of both peoples.

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Anti-Israel Event at Brooklyn College Promotes Hate, Represses Dissent: Danielle Avel, Breibart, Feb. 19, 2013—The most disturbing part of the evening occurred early on. In the midst of Judith Butler’s soft-spoken rant, the audience was utterly silent until a voice near the door exclaimed, “This is an oppression of freedom of speech, this an oppression.” Looking over, I noticed Jewish students being removed from the room and thought to myself, “I guess kippas are not allowed.”

 

Judith Butler Shouldn't Be Honoured By McGill University: Lauryn Oates, Huffington Post, May 27, 2013—I've been ashamed here and there over some of the output that comes out of my latest alma mater, the University of British Columbia, all of it belonging deep within the dump heap that is the pseudo-scholarship of post-modernism, but my first alma mater, good ol' McGill University, seems to be clambering on board more and more with the trending Nonsense Studies disciplines, and its associated culture of victimhood, identity politics, and relativisms. 

 

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DEFEATING ISLAMIC TERROR: KNOW CLEARLY WHAT IT IS, KNOW WHO WE ARE, FIGHT SHARIA & JIHAD

Download a pdf version of today's Daily Briefing.

 

Contents:                          

 

 

The New, Improved Axis of Jihad: Clare M. Lopez, Gatestone Institute, May 24, 2013—Two years into the seismic shift that brought the forces of Islamic jihad and Sharia law to power in country after country in the Middle East and North Africa — with the astonishing and extensive assistance from the U.S. — Iran, Hizballah and al-Qa'eda apparently judge that the U.S. and its Western allies still need another nudge to ensure their complete retreat from "Muslim" lands. That nudge, according to independent, reliable and mutually-corroborating sources, has now been prepared by this Axis.

 

Optimism in Struggle with Radical Islam: Robert Sibley, Ottawa Citizen, May 24, 2013— Westerners…need to recognize that the Islamist ideology is on par with fascism and communism as a threat to liberal democracy, and in order to fight it they need to know their enemy. “Just as a doctor can’t diagnose a disease without identifying it and understanding it, we can’t fight Islamism without identifying it for what it is.”

 

To Defeat Islamic Terror, We Must First Acknowledge What it Is: Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail, May 26, 2013—Ever since the spectre of Islamic terrorism in the West first manifested itself, Britain has had its head stuck firmly in the sand. After both 9/11 and the 7/7 London transport bombings, the Labour government promised to take measures to defend the country against further such attacks. It defined the problem, however, merely as terrorism, failing to understand that the real issue was the extremist ideas which led to such violence.

 

On Topic Links

 

Berkeley Profs: ‘Islamophobia’ Greater Threat than Islamic Terrorism: Cinnamon Stillwell & Rima Greene

Front Page Magazine, May 27, 2013

Islam and its Infidels: Daniel Pipes, The Washington Times,  Monday, May 13, 2013

40 Days After Boston Bombing, We Must Stop Radical Jihad: Karima Bennoune, The Guardian, May 27, 2013

U.S. Praises Sharia Censorship: Deborah Weiss, The Legal Project, May 24, 2013

 

 

 

THE NEW, IMPROVED AXIS OF JIHAD
Clare M. Lopez

Gatestone Institute, May 24, 2013
 

Indicators and warnings continue to grow concerning the resurgence of an "Axis of Jihad" comprised of Iran, Hizballah, and al-Qa'eda. This axis is not new: its three actors, both national and sub-national, have been working together in an operational terror alliance for over two decades. Still, so many seem unaware not just of this alliance, but of the ideological bonds that brought them together in Khartoum, Sudan, in the early 1990s and have kept them together to the current day. The bond is as old as Islam, and includes the commitment to jihad [war in the name of Islam] and Islamic Shariah law; the threat is to all free and democratic societies which stand in the way of global Islamic government and the forcible application of Islamic Shariah Law.

Foundation of the Axis of Jihad
 
This modern-day Axis of Jihad was formed in the Sudan under the aegis of the Muslim Brotherhood regime of Omar al-Bashir and his sometime political ally, National Congress Party chairman Hassan al-Turabi. Al-Qa'eda as such had not yet taken its current form, but after the end of the 1980s Afghan war against the Soviet Union, Usama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri had found safe haven in the Sudan. Al-Bashir and Turabi are pan-Islamists, meaning they see the world in terms of the Dar al-Islam (House of Islam, where Shariah is enforced) versus the Dar al-Harb (everywhere that is not under Islamic Law). Such a worldview chooses to disregard the ancient intra-Islamic schism between Sunni and Shi'a and instead to unify the entire Islamic world in jihad against the "infidel."

So it was that al-Bashir and Turabi invited the Iranian regime leadership and its Hizballah terror proxies to Khartoum in late 1990 to meet with the future leadership of al-Qa'eda. Then-Iranian president (and once again a 2013 candidate for the office) Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, intelligence director Ali Fallahian, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Mohsen Reza'i and other top Iranian leadership figures accepted al-Bashir's invitation and traveled to Khartoum, along with Islamic jihadis from around the region.
 
There, and in subsequent meetings that took place in Khartoum throughout the early 1990s, the alliance was formed among Iran, Hizballah, and what soon would be known as al-Qa'eda. Usama bin Laden was especially interested in the explosives expertise coupled with a "martyrdom" mentality he had seen demonstrated by Hizballah with such deadly effect against Western targets. It was arranged that Imad Mughniyeh, Hizballah's top terror operative, would commit to training Usama bin Laden's growing cadre of terrorists in explosives techniques, especially those involving suicide truck bombings that could bring down large buildings. Training camps were set up in Sudan, Lebanon, and elsewhere where al-Qa'eda's would-be shahid recruits could learn this craft. The attacks at Khobar Towers, the U.S. East Africa Embassies in Dar Es-Salaam and Nairobi, against the USS Cole, and eventually the 9/11 attacks themselves were all the result of this terror alliance.

The Axis Resurgent
 
The Axis of Jihad did not end on 9/11, as subsequent attacks in Tunisia, Istanbul, Riyadh, Madrid and elsewhere that were attributed to the al-Qa'eda Shura Council operating out of Iran post-9/11 all testify. After 9/11, however, the Axis did not again succeed in attacking the American homeland; the fierce U.S. response to 9/11 aggressively put al-Qa'eda on the defensive as across the globe its leadership was pursued, arrested, sanctioned, and eliminated. As Iran stubbornly forged ahead during the period with its nuclear weapons program, its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Qods Force, and Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) leadership also was sanctioned repeatedly, even as Israel dogged its scientists and security operatives in the so-called "War in the Shadows.'
 
The Iran-Hizballah-al-Qa'eda alliance survived, nevertheless — despite setbacks both external and internal — only to emerge once again from the shadows in 2013. Iran had reactivated its Hizballah terror proxy even earlier to attempt avenge the February 2008 Mughniyeh assassination. Attacks and plots — launched by Hizballah's rejuvenated Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO) terror operations unit either independently or in conjunction with the IRGC/Qods Force (and sometimes, criminal elements as well) — seemed to multiply in places as far-flung as Baku, Tbilisi, New Delhi, Istanbul, and Nairobi. At first, even as the tempo of attacks markedly picked up, many of the plots were disrupted by the authorities — until July 18, 2012, when a busload of Israeli tourists was blown up by a suicide bomber in Burgas, Bulgaria, with the loss of five Israelis and the Bulgarian bus driver (in addition to the bomber). Dozens more were injured.
 
It was the U.S.-Canada railway attack plot, though, announced, with arrests, by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in April 2013, that signaled the revival of the Axis. According to the RCMP, the plot, which would have derailed a NYC-Toronto passenger train over the Niagara River gorge, was directed by the Iran-based al-Qa'eda Shura, led by al-Qa'eda's Egyptian operations commander, Saif al-Adl. Alarmingly, even though the FBI was reportedly working closely with the RCMP on the U.S. side of the border, there were no arrests announced inside the U.S. and additional members of the plot network likely remained on the loose. The reluctance of U.S. intelligence and national security officials to acknowledge either the reality and critical threat of the Iran-al-Qa'eda alliance, or the fact that al-Qa'eda is not defeated but instead, since 2001, has metastasized on a global level, contributes to uncertainty about their ability to address Iran and al-Qa'eda's joint operations rather than treating them always as separate phenomena.

Indicators and Warnings
 
The new indicators and warnings come to us most urgently from Reza Kahlili, a former Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC] officer and undercover CIA agent and operative, whose contacts inside Iran advised him of a major 2013 attack to come inside the U.S. that would target a major (but unidentified) hotel in a Mumbai-style assault. Earlier, in February 2010, as Kahlili reports, a key meeting occurred inside Iran to coordinate the terror operations of the Qods Force, Hizballah, and al-Qa'eda. In attendance at that meeting were Qassem Suleimani, Qods Force commander; Seif al-Adl, the Iran-based operations chief for al-Qa'eda; and Mustafa Badr al-Din, the Hizballah terror operations commander who took the place of his brother-in-law, Imad Mughniyeh, as head of the "Special Research Apparatus" comprised of several hundred crack Hizballah cadre whose mission is international terror operations.
 
The Ideology That Binds
 
The ideology that holds Sunni al-Qa'eda so closely affiliated (at least in terror operational matters) with Shi'ite Iran and Hizballah over the course of decades is, simply, Islam. It is the fervent belief that Allah, the deity of Islam, commands all of his faithful to a pathway of supremacism and conquest. Obedience to Qur'an, Sunnah, and Shariah law is the highest form of devotion for Muslims who respond to the call to jihad.
 
In this, the Axis of Jihad rightly must be expanded to include those Muslims who pursue "civilizational jihad," as the Muslim Brotherhood terms it, rather than only the immediately violent sort of jihad identified with al-Qa'eda. The Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, reminded the 2012 presidential election crowds of the essential oneness of the Islamic creed when he recited the Brotherhood's motto to their roars of approval:
 
    Allah is our objective, The Prophet is our guide, The Qur'an is our law,Jihad is our way,  And dying in the way of Allah our highest aspiration
 
The false split that some analysts establish between these varieties of jihad misses the key underlying truth: they aim for the same objectives, namely Islamic government [Caliphate] and universal subjugation to Shariah law. If anything, the flamboyant jihad attacks of al-Qa'eda, HAMAS, Hizballah, or the Taliban serve to condition a society to the feeling of terror, as Brigadier General S.K. Malik explained so clearly in "The Quranic Concept of War:"
 
    Terror struck into the hearts of the enemies is not only a means, it is the end in itself. Once a condition of terror into the opponent's heart is obtained, hardly anything is left to be achieved.
 
This "condition of terror" is meant so to demoralize a targeted people that acquiescing to the seemingly non-violent Shariah demands of a Muslim Brotherhood front group seems eminently preferable, even reasonable, by contrast. Of course, imposition of Shariah law, by stealth or by overwhelming violence in the wake of assault and terror, or gradually from within, is the whole point of the exercise.
 
Why Now?
 
Despite the still-ongoing military campaign against "al-Qa'eda and its affiliates," the U.S. and more generally Western failure to acknowledge and counter the underlying Islamic ideology as the animating force that drives both al-Qa'eda and the Muslim Brotherhood, combined with a baffling willingness to welcome Brotherhood affiliates and operatives into the top ranks of the U.S. government elicits both anger and contempt from the jihadist enemy. Two years into the seismic shift across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region that brought the forces of Islamic jihad and Shariah law to power in country after country after country — with astonishing and extensive assistance from the U.S. — the Axis of Jihad apparently judges that the U.S. and its Western allies still need another nudge to ensure their complete retreat from "Muslim" lands.
 
That nudge, according to reporting from Kahlili and other independent, reliable and mutually-corroborating sources, has now been prepared under the joint command of the Iran-Hizballah-al-Qa'eda axis. The Iranian regime began to build the operational networks in the Western Hemisphere in earnest about 2005, the year that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in Iran. He initiated a diplomatic expansion across Latin America that saw an increase in Iranian Embassies from six to ten between 2005 and 2010. Each of those, and the Imam Ali Islamic Centers that serve as command and control centers for special units of the IRGC/Qods Force, provide cover positions for Iranian intelligence and security service operatives whose jobs include liaison with narcotrafficking, organized crime, and terror groups such as Hizballah.
 
The Tri-Border region of South America, where the borders of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay met, served as an early hub of terror operations from the 1980s onward for the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires and Hizballah, which jointly directed the 1992 and 1994 terror attacks against the Israeli Embassy and Jewish Cultural Center, respectively, from this lawless area. Since 2005, Iran's operational base in Venezuela has become the nexus for its operations across the Western Hemisphere, including South, Central, and North America. Diplomatic relationships with Venezuela and other Latin American regimes hostile to the U.S., such as Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua also provide Iran with a means of evading international isolation and sanctions, obtaining a ready source of fraudulent travel documents, and laundering money.
 
Hizballah's operations in the Western Hemisphere, including inside the U.S. and Canada, are noted with special concern by U.S. officials: former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff remarked that Hizballah made al-Qa'eda "look like a minor league team," while former Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage has called Hizballah the "A team" and al-Qa'eda the "B team." Masters of clandestine intelligence tradecraft, as well as among the most highly trained and ideologically-committed special operations forces anywhere, Hizballah (which is trained by the Iranians) expends considerable effort establishing cell networks across the Americas. These cells are assigned to pre-attack casing and surveillance; fundraising via a variety of scams like cigarette smuggling as well as narcotrafficking; and operational planning for terror attacks. Former U.S. Ambassador Roger Noriega testifies regularly for Congress to detail Hizballah's collaboration with narcotraffickers and guerrilla groups (such as the FARC — Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) whose drug-running and terror training activities are becoming ever more complex, dangerous, and threatening to U.S. national security, as well as that of friends and allies throughout the hemisphere.
 
Venezuela's Margarita Island, better known as a prime tourist destination, has become a safe haven for terrorists and drug smugglers, as well as Hizballah's banking and finance hub in the Western Hemisphere. According to Noriega, Hizballah runs countless businesses and safe houses on the island. Even closer to home, Hizballah has forged operational relationships with Mexican drug cartels such as Los Zetas. The links are opportunistic, rather than ideological, on both sides; Hizballah increasingly uses narcotics trafficking to fill funding gaps left by cutbacks in Iranian largesse, while the cartels benefit from Hizballah's explosives, tunneling, and weapons expertise. Al-Qa'eda, too, has boasted about the ease of moving non-conventional arms and weapons of mass destruction into the U.S. via the Mexican drug tunnels. Kahlili's reporting names al-Qa'eda operative Adnan Shukrijumah, who has been spotted and tracked over the years by U.S. and allied security agencies from Canada to the U.S., and south into Latin America, among the list of operational commanders awaiting attack orders from Iranian Qods Force commander Qassem Suleimani, the overall Iran-Hizballah-al-Qa'eda coalition commander.
 
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress in 2011 that senior Iranian officials "are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States…" Apparently either unaware or forgetful of the close Iranian and Hizballah coordination with al-Qa'eda in the 9/11 attacks, Clapper nevertheless conveyed the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community that a shift in Iranian strategic thinking may presage new Iranian-sponsored terror attacks against the homeland. Iranian officials, too, have indicated the regime's willingness once again to aim its asymmetric warfare campaign at American streets: in May 2011, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmed Vahidi openly threatened a "tough and crushing response" to any U.S. attack against Iran.
 
Vahidi's warning points to what may constitute possible triggers for an Iranian "green light" to its network of al-Qa'eda, Hizballah, and Qods Force operatives already in place in American communities. In addition to finally exacting revenge for the killing of Usama bin Laden and Imad Mughniyeh, such triggers could include a combined Israeli/U.S., or simply Israeli, military strike against Iranian nuclear weapons facilities; a direct threat to the survivability of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria from either Israel or Syrian rebels perceived to be backed by the U.S.; or, as Kahlili describes it, an Iranian imperative to shake America's sense of safety and security in the homeland in order to compel and hasten both a U.S. retreat from influence and military power projection in the Muslim world.
 
Reportedly, more than 2,000 targets "including public places, government buildings and military installations" already have been selected and cased. Separate but parallel reporting indicates that the "go" order may already have been transmitted from Tehran to the al-Qa'eda and Hizballah cells inside the U.S., placing them essentially on autopilot status. Of course, all of Kahlili's published warnings have been passed in full detail to U.S. security agencies, but the threat from this Axis of Jihad remains critical and poses a serious threat to America's homeland security.
 
Effective measures from America's national security leadership are urgently needed. Those measures must begin with an honest acknowledgement of the precepts and objectives of the enemy threat —that is, as they are derived from the doctrine, law, and scriptures of Islam—and should include a comprehensive strategic counterjihad plan as complete as the Axis of Jihad's plan.

Clare M. Lopez is a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on national defense, Islam, Iran, and counterterrorism issues.

 

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OPTIMISM IN STRUGGLE WITH RADICAL ISLAM

Robert Sibley
Ottawa Citizen, May 24, 2013

 

Twenty-five years ago, few Westerners had given any attention to the threat of militant Islam. Sure, there were the usual upheavals in the Middle East — remember the First Gulf War in 1991? — and the endless terrorist assaults on Israel, otherwise known as the First Intifada, and the odd airline and bus explosion. But the idea that a few fundamentalist zealots would pervert Islam to justify a full-fledged terrorist campaign against the West was for most far-fetched.

One of the few who didn’t think this way was the American historian Daniel Pipes. In 1995, the founder of the journal Middle East Quarterly, and the author of nearly a dozen books on Middle Eastern issues, wrote: “Unnoticed by most Westerners war has been unilaterally declared on Europe and the United States.” The seemingly isolated terrorist attacks — the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 or the Bombay bombings that same year that killed nearly 300, for example — were part of a build up in a worldwide anti-western jihad. Only after the 9/11 attacks did Westerners begin to see their culture was under siege. As Pipes argued in a 2003 book, Militant Islam Reaches America, the Islamists “seek nothing less than to bring the Sharia to bear in the land of the free.” The question, of course, has always been how and why the West should respond….

The problem, he says, is that Islamist ideology is gaining influence in European and North American societies, slowly eroding traditions and values that have been a mainstay of western culture for centuries. He points, for example, to the allowance made in Britain for the Muslim practice of polygamy and the increasing acceptance of Shariah. “There are parts of London where you can’t get alcohol. There’s something like 100 Shariah courts in Britain, completely private courts that not only do civil law but criminal law. … There’s also a growing movement toward Muslim-only zones where not only is Shariah applied but non-Muslims are not welcome. This isn’t terrorism, but it is the gradual Islamization of Western society.”

Westerners, he says, need to recognize that the Islamist ideology is on par with fascism and communism as a threat to liberal democracy, and in order to fight it they need to know their enemy. “Just as a doctor can’t diagnose a disease without identifying it and understanding it, we can’t fight Islamism without identifying it for what it is.”

To know the enemy, it helps to know the enemy’s history. “The striking thing about Islam is its early success (in the 7th and 8th centuries). If you’d looked around the world at that time the cities of Damascus, Cairo and Baghdad were centres of commerce and technical development and literacy and medicine. This was the great period of Islamic civilization. Then things stopped roughly around 1200 A.D., partly as a consequence of the Mongol invasions and the dominance of the theocrats. There was a sudden hardening or attitudes toward things like philosophy and science that might question religious faith.

For some six centuries Muslims were able to ignore Europe as too backward to be of concern, but this complacency about their own cultural supremacy came crashing down in the late 18th and 19th centuries as Europeans used their science and a new-found impulse for exploration to make the West preeminent. This changed things dramatically, says Pipes. “Muslims saw this and asked themselves ‘what went wrong?’”

It a question they’re still asking, wondering why given the past successes of their culture they aren’t doing as well today. “It is this legacy of their great success in the past compared to today that weighs heavy on Muslims.” Efforts to shed this weight have differed — everything from emulating secular Europe to the pan-Arab socialism and nationalism. All have failed. And now we have the Islamist response. “The fundamentalists are saying ‘no, if you want Islam to be strong like it was 1,000 years ago, you have to live like we did 1,000 years ago.’ That means abiding by Islamic law, Shariah.”

Surprisingly, perhaps, Pipes sees the Islamist terror campaign ultimately failing. “If you looked around in 1943 you would likely have thought a 1,000 year Reich was possible. But it didn’t even last a dozen years. Islamism, I think, will be like that.” Despite outward appearances of strength, Pipes notes that Muslims are fighting each other in places like Syria and Egypt and takes encouragement from this. Much of the upheaval in Egypt is a backlash against the Islamist agenda, he suggests.

While Islamist terrorism will remain a problem, the greater concern is Islamists gaining influence in the institutions of the West. “I see terrorism as a tactic, and not a very good tactic … If I were an Islamist I would be counselling everyone to get jobs in the media, in the law courts, in the educational system, in the political process. That’s how you gain influence and change a society your way.” Will such change come to pass? I suspect we’ll find out over the next 25 years.

Robert Sibley is a senior writer with the Citizen, currently attached to the editorial board.

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TO DEFEAT ISLAMIC TERROR,
WE MUST FIRST ACKNOWLEDGE WHAT IT IS

Melanie Phillips

Daily Mail, May 27, 2013

 

Ever since the spectre of Islamic terrorism in the West first manifested itself, Britain has had its head stuck firmly in the sand. After both 9/11 and the 7/7 London transport bombings, the Labour government promised to take measures to defend the country against further such attacks. It defined the problem, however, merely as terrorism, failing to understand that the real issue was the extremist ideas which led to such violence….

 

Following last week's barbaric slaughter of Drummer Rigby on the streets of Woolwich by two Islamic fanatics, the Prime Minister has announced that he will head a new Tackling Extremism and Radicalization Task Force. And the Home Secretary has said she will look at widening the banning of radical groups preaching hate.

 

But at the heart of these promises remains a crucial gap. That is the need to define just what kind of extremism we are up against. The Government has been extraordinarily reluctant to do this — because it refuses to face the blindingly obvious fact that this extremism is religious in nature. It arises from an interpretation of Islam which takes the words of the Koran literally as a command to kill unbelievers in a jihad, or holy war, in order to impose strict Islamic tenets on the rest of the world.

 

Of course, millions of Muslims in Britain and elsewhere totally reject this interpretation of their religion.  Most British Muslims want to live peacefully and enjoy the benefits of Western culture. They undoubtedly utterly deplore the notion that the kind of carnage that occurred in Woolwich should take place in Britain And let's not forget that, worldwide, most victims of the jihad are themselves Muslims whom the extremists judge to be polluted by Western ideas.

 

Nevertheless, this fundamentalist interpretation of the Koran is what is being spouted by hate preachers in Britain and on the internet, and is steadily radicalising thousands of young British Muslims. Now the Prime Minister says he will crack down on such extremism. Yet after the Woolwich atrocity, he claimed it was 'a betrayal of Islam' and that 'there is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act'.

 

The London Mayor Boris Johnson went even further, claiming: 'It is completely wrong to blame this killing on the religion of Islam' and that the cause was simply the killers' 'warped and deluded mindset'. Yet the video footage of the killers — who had shouted 'Allahu Akhbar' when butchering Drummer Rigby — records one of them citing verses in the Koran exhorting the faithful to fight and kill unbelievers, and declaring: 'We swear by Almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.'

 

Frankly, these comments by the Prime Minister and London Mayor were as absurd as saying the medieval Inquisition, for example, had nothing to do with the Catholic Church, but was just the product of a few warped and deluded individuals. Their comments were also deeply troubling. For if politicians refuse to acknowledge the true nature of this extremism, they will never counter it effectively. But then, government officials have always refused to admit that this is a religious war. They simply don't understand the power of religious fanaticism.

 

Of course, there are fanatics in all religions. Within both Judaism and Christianity, there are deep divisions between ultras, liberals and those in between. In medieval times, moreover, Christianity used its interpretation of the Bible also to kill 'unbelievers', because early Christians believed they had a divine duty to make the world conform to their religion at all costs.  That stopped when the Reformation ushered the Church into modernity, and today no Christian wants to use violence to convert others to their faith. The problem with the extremist teachings of Islam is that the religion has never had a similar 'reformation'.

 

Certainly, there are enlightened Muslims in Britain who would dearly love their religion to be reformed. But they have the rug pulled from under their feet by the Government's flat denial of the religious nature of this terrible problem. Some people instead ascribe the actions of the Woolwich killers to factors such as thuggish gang membership, drug abuse or family breakdown.

 

But it is precisely such lost souls who are vulnerable to Islamist fanatics and who provide them with father figures, a sense of belonging and a cause which gives apparent meaning to their lives. Many people find it incomprehensible that such fanatics remain free to peddle their poison. Partly, this is because the Security Service likes to gather intelligence through their actions. But it is also because of a failure to understand what amounts to a continuum of extremism.

 

There are too many British Muslims who, while abhorring violence at home, nevertheless support the killing abroad of British or American forces or Israelis, regard unbelievers as less than fully human, and homosexuals or apostates as deserving the death penalty. Such bigotry creates the poisonous sea in which dehumanisation and religious violence swim. To the failure to understand all this must be added the widespread terror of being thought 'Islamophobic' or 'racist'.

 

It is quite astonishing that universities mostly refuse to crack down on extremist speakers and radicalisation on campus — despite at least four former presidents of Islamic student societies having faced terrorist charges. In a devastating account published at the weekend, Professor Michael Burleigh, who advised the Government on revising its counter-radicalisation strategy, described how this process descended into a 'sad shambles'.

 

He related how the Federation of Islamic Student Societies (FOSIS) had created a sexually segregated environment in which young people were being systematically indoctrinated in anti-Jew, anti-homosexual and anti-Western hatred by Islamist speakers on campus.

 

But although the Government condemned FOSIS for its failure to 'fully challenge terrorist and extremist ideology', with the Home Secretary even ordering that civil servants withdraw from its graduate recruitment fair, the Faith and Communities Minister, Baroness Warsi, actually endorsed it by attending one of its events at the House of Lords.

 

Nor has the Government done anything to stop extremist preachers targeting and converting criminals in British jails at a deeply alarming rate. On top of all this official incoherence is the paralysis caused by the excesses of the 'human rights' culture. Thus the Home Secretary is facing a monumental battle to get through Parliament a Communications Bill that would give police and security services access to records of individuals' internet use.

 

It is said that some of these extremist preachers exploit loopholes in the law. If so, then the law should be changed. But we all know what would befall any such attempt. It would be all but drowned out by shrieks that we were 'doing the terrorists' job for them' by 'undermining our own hard-won liberties'. Well, it's time to face down such claims as vacuous and lethal nonsense. The people threatening our liberties are Islamic radicals determined to destroy our way of life. It is those who refuse to acknowledge the true nature of this threat who are doing the terrorists' job for them. And unless Britain finally wakes up from its self-destructive torpor, all who love civilised values — Muslim and non-Muslim alike — will be the losers.

 

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Berkeley Profs: ‘Islamophobia’ Greater Threat Than Islamic Terrorism: Cinnamon Stillwell and Rima Greene

Front Page Magazine, May 27, 2013—The false narrative that “Islamophobia” is a growing threat received a boost at the “Fourth Annual International Conference on the Study of Islamophobia: From Theorizing to Systematic Documentation,” which took place at the University of California, Berkeley on April 19 and 20, 2013 under the chairmanship of its foremost conceptual proponent, Hatem Bazian

 

Islam and its Infidels: How Extremists Distorted a Religion Of Millions: Daniel Pipes, The Washington Times,  Monday, May 13, 2013—What motives lay behind last month’s Boston Marathon bombing and the would-be attack on a Via Rail Canada train? Leftists and establishmentarians variously offer imprecise and tired replies — such as “violent extremism” or anger at Western imperialism — unworthy of serious discussion.

 

40 Days After Boston Bombing, We Must Stop Radical Jihad: Karima Bennoune, The Guardian, May 27, 2013—In many Muslim societies, the 40th day after a death is a time to gather and grieve again with loved ones. So, in honor of this the 40th day after the atrocities in Boston, I find myself thinking again about the 264 injured people, some of whom are learning to live without their legs, and about the dead victims: 23-year-old Chinese graduate student Lingzi Lu, who had just passed her exams, friendly 29-year-old waitress Krystle Campbell, and eight year-old Martin Richard who famously carried a sign that said "No more hurting people. Peace."

 

U.S. Praises Sharia Censorship: Deborah Weiss, The Legal Project, May 24, 2013—The United States is silent as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) passes its most recent UN Resolution that unravels global consensus to support freedom of speech. From 1999-2010, the OIC succeeded in passing its "defamations of religions" resolutions, which ostensibly would protect Islam from all criticism, including true statements of fact. 

 

 

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AL-DURA, ON-LINE ISLAMISM: THE BATTLE FOR TRUTH IN AN AGE OF MEDIA ANTI-ISRAELISM AND INTERNET TERRORISM

Download a pdf version of today's Daily Briefing.

 

Contents:                          

 

 

Thanks to Kuperwasser Al-Dura Report, Truth Is on its Way: Philippe Karsenty, Jerusalem Post, May 22, 2013—For over 10 years, I’ve been fighting, along with many friends, to get out the truth about the al-Dura blood libel. For many years, the strongest argument of our opponents has been the silence of the State of Israel when my efforts were sometimes undermined by Israeli diplomats.

A Lonely Battle for the Truth: Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom, May 24, 2013—The first to try to stem the flow of lies and bloodshed that followed the Muhammad al-Dura affair — much like the Dutch boy who put his finger in the dike to stop the trickle that threatened to become a flood — was physicist Nahum Shahaf.

Biggest Battlefield In Terror War Is On The Internet: Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Fox News, May 23, 2013—There is one war that the terrorists are winning and if we don’t act, more Boston-style massacres, more horrific atrocities on the streets of democratic nations, like the unspeakable beheading Wednesday in London– and worse— are inevitable.

 

On Topic Links

 

The New, Improved Axis of Jihad: Clare M. Lopez, Gatestone Institute, May 24, 2013

U.S.: Israel's Prosperity a Problem: Shoshana Bryen, Gatestone Institute, May 24, 2013

 

 

THANKS TO KUPERWASSER AL-DURA REPORT, TRUTH IS ON ITS WAY

Philippe Karsenty

Jerusalem Post, May 22, 2013

 

For over 10 years, I’ve been fighting, along with many friends, to get out the truth about the al-Dura blood libel. For many years, the strongest argument of our opponents has been the silence of the State of Israel when my efforts were sometimes undermined by Israeli diplomats. So getting the support of Israeli public diplomacy was an important objective.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received Moshe Ya’alon’s and Yossi Kuperwasser’s report, which confirms my accusation against French public TV. It’s a milestone on the way to the truth. Yesterday, a French court of appeals was expected to release its verdict on another episode of my defamation trial against France 2, but the verdict was postponed, for the second time. It is now due to be given on June 26. My victory in that case could be an important step forward, but nothing is certain.

Five years ago, after I won the appellate court trial, France 2 denied the report was a hoax and appealed to the French Supreme Court on technicalities. Last year, they won and the verdict was annulled. The highest French court said we didn’t have the right to look at France 2’s raw footage to decide if I was right or wrong to accuse them of having staged their news report. Kafka was back! If I lose, you can be sure Israel demonizers and France 2 will use the verdict to slander Israel, and me, even if I lose on technicalities.

Almost 13 years after the broadcasting of the Dura hoax, Israel is still trying to recover its good name, and this should be a reason to worry for the State of Israel and its citizens. Thirteen years and so many lives lost because of Israel’s silence, because of Israel’s incapacity to understand global anti-Semitism is fed by Israel’s reluctance to defend its point of view.

During all these years, I’ve been undermined by Israelis, ambassadors, politicians, journalists and by a prominent American Jewish organization which preferred to keep access to the French politicians over fighting for the truth. Nevertheless, I was confident because the truth has always been on my side.

Now that the State of Israel has taken the official decision to fight for its good name, it is important to encourage it to continue and to analyze how this huge PR failure has been allowed to go on for so long. This Kuperwasser investigation committee has been important and productive. I strongly recommend that the State of Israel establish another investigative committee to determine the problems which led to this situation.

One day or another, Israel will face another lie, another blood libel or other false accusations during military operations. Israel was not prepared for this war, and Israel lost. Since the creation of the State of Israel, Arabs, with the complicity of some Western countries, have tried to destroy this tiny nation by open warfare. They failed.

Then they tried terrorism. In the end, that also failed. So, they turned to media war – and here, unfortunately, they succeeded. The result is that now, the wars Israel wins on the ground, while respecting international laws and treaties, are lost on the media battlefield, and then in the diplomatic arena.

The official Israeli report, which was issued on Sunday, shows a turning point in the Israeli authorities’ state of mind: they decided to fight for their good name. This is good news, and will be effective only if they are able to analyze their mistakes and draw conclusions in order not to repeat past mistakes. As in every previous war, Israel has no choice but to win. It’s a question of survival, and I’m sure Israel will succeed.

 

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A LONELY BATTLE FOR THE TRUTH

Nadav Shragai

Israel Hayom, May 24, 2013

 

The first to try to stem the flow of lies and bloodshed that followed the Muhammad al-Dura affair — much like the Dutch boy who put his finger in the dike to stop the trickle that threatened to become a flood — was physicist Nahum Shahaf.

 

On September 30, 2000, France 2, a French public television station, broadcast the images and the reporter's accompanying statements for the first time. Later on they were broadcast thousands of times by television stations the world over, including in Arab countries. This week it became clear, this time officially, that the story was a modern blood libel. Jamal al-Dura and his son Muhammad could be seen in those images, kneeling in fear behind a barrel at Netzarim Junction. Shots were supposedly fired at them from the nearby Israeli position, and Charles Enderlin, the station's main reporter in Jerusalem, stated against the backdrop of photographs taken by Talal Abu Rahmah (the Gaza station's local photographer): "Muhammad is dead, and his father is seriously wounded…"

 

That was the beginning of the al-Dura affair, which swelled to monstrous proportions and gave the Palestinians a smoking-gun "proof" that Israelis are child-killers. These photographs became a symbol of the Second Intifada.

 

It turns out that Muhammad did not die, at least not in that incident. It also turns out that some of the wounds and scars on his father, who was said to have been seriously wounded in the incident, resulted from a 1992 attack by Palestinians and the surgery he later underwent in an Israeli hospital. But the committee appointed by Minister Moshe Ya'alon, whose findings were published this week, did not discover much that was new. It only gave an official state imprimatur to the findings of many others who untiringly tilted at windmills, claiming that the story was a lie that the Palestinian propaganda machine had adopted for its own purposes.

 

The first to try to stem the flow of lies and ensuing bloodshed — much like the Dutch boy who put his finger in the dike to stop the trickle that threatened to become a flood — was physicist Nahum Shahaf of Ramat Gan. Almost everything Shahaf said at the time, when Yom-Tov Samia, then the head of the IDF Southern Command, appointed him as head of the IDF committee to investigate the incident, ultimately received the government's approval after a 13-year delay.

 

Shahaf, seen as odd and eccentric a decade ago, was right about almost everything. The government committee's examination of the raw footage showed that at the end of the film, in a segment that was never broadcast, the boy is seen alive and it is not certain that he was wounded at all. France 2's raw outtakes show no blood on the wall, the ground or the barrel. While Jamal claimed that he had been struck by 10 to 12 bullets, the film shows no bullet striking his body or any drops of blood on it, and there is a great deal of doubt as to whether any shots at all were fired from the Israeli position.

 

This week, 67-year-old Shahaf, who said years ago that the film showing the supposed death of Muhammad al-Dura had been staged, recalled everyone who had helped him in the struggle and believed him. He also recalled the officials in the Foreign Ministry, the IDF and the police who tripped him up and refused to help him.

 

When the al-Dura affair began, Shahaf was a brilliant physicist with a broad record of accomplishments. He played a role in developing unmanned aerial vehicles, technology that would enable people to see through walls and a system for compressed digital-video transmission that won him an award from the Science Ministry. He watched the report about Muhammad al-Dura on television and left a message for Yom-Tov Samia, the head of the Southern Command at the time. Shahaf asked him not to destroy the wall next to which al-Dura had been filmed so that a ballistics investigation could be performed. But Samia was out in the field. By the time he heard Shahaf's message, the IDF had already finished clearing the area around the Netzarim Junction and the wall had been demolished. Still, Shahaf, whom Samia appointed to head the IDF's investigative team, had already reached the conclusion, even without the wall, that there was no angle of fire from the IDF position to Muhammad al-Dura and his father.

 

"That wasn't all," Shahaf recalls. "There's a concept known as a sun clock. Shadow projection length varies with every hour of the day. One of the things I checked, from the direction of the shadows, was when the incident occurred. I was amazed to find that according to the shadow projection, the incident took place after the boy had arrived at the hospital as a corpse. In other words, according to the direction of the shadow, the boy who was buried under the name al-Dura was buried before the incident took place, before he was supposedly 'shot to death.'"

 

Although Shahaf's findings aroused interest in the local and worldwide media, they encountered a great deal of skepticism. Shahaf finds it hard to forget the article that was published in Haaretz. "The newspaper ran an article criticizing me, portraying me as insufficiently skilled. Unfortunately, it had an impact. Shaul Mofaz, who was chief of staff at the time, distanced himself. Some of the upper military echelon distanced themselves from me."

 

"Those were very hard times for me. Some people with whom I worked closely dropped hints, while others said openly that they had been ordered not to work with me."

 

Q. Who received such orders? Who gave them?

 

"Official personnel who deal with measurements and mapping stopped working with me, for example. There was also a building contractor, who was Jamal al-Dura's boss. When I asked him for information about Jamal, he promised to help me only if he got permission from the Southern Command. But according to him, officials from the IDF Spokesperson's Office in the command told him they weren't working with me anymore, so I found myself more or less on my own.

 

"In that near-impossible situation I contacted Ariel Sharon's adviser, Raanan Gissin, and Danny Seaman, who was the director of the Government Press Office at the time. Both of them listened to me. They watched the footage and saw the potential right away. Their behaviour was professional and straightforward. I got endless support and help from them. Sharon, for his part, supported them, but other people put heavy pressure on them not to work with me. I don't understand that to this day."

 

Danny Seaman said this week that Foreign Ministry officials "were not at all enthusiastic, to put it mildly, about my work on the al-Dura affair, during Olmert's time too. The Prime Minister's Office put me under a lot of pressure, which included threats of dismissal, if I didn't leave the subject alone." Foreign Ministry officials commented on Shahaf's statements: "The approach to the al-Dura affair was completely professional. The assessment was that as long as there was no solid material that could show the lies for what they were, such work could do more harm than good, and even cause the images to be broadcast all over the world yet again."

 

But the threats did not deter Shahaf. His big breakthrough came in the form of an article by a supporter, James Fallows, a consultant to President Clinton, in the June 2003 issue of The Atlantic. The Wall Street Journal ran another article supporting Shahaf's research and hinting that the incident had been staged.

 

In February 2005, Shahaf gave a lecture in front of 750 criminologists at the American Society of Criminology in New Orleans, the world's highest-ranking professional forum of jurisprudence. Afterward, he was invited to lecture at other universities and met with Robert Morgenthau, the district attorney of New York. The support he received abroad reopened the doors in Israel that had been slammed shut. Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland, who at first tended toward supporting the assertion that IDF troops had shot al-Dura by mistake, met with Shahaf and Danny Seaman and watched a 20-minute presentation. The presentation impressed him and he made it public.

 

In 2007, Shahaf screened a film he had produced in which Muhammad al-Dura is seen changing position after his "death." He had the help of an expert, a pediatrician from the Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, whom he had asked to view the film. The government investigative committee also published those images this week. On Channel 10's current-affairs television program London & Kirschenbaum, Shahaf confronted Charles Enderlin, who told him to his face that he was talking nonsense. When London asked Shahaf whether he did not fear a libel suit, Shahaf invited Enderlin, on live television, to sue him.

 

As the various events unfolded, France 2 brought a libel suit against Dr. Yehuda David, who claimed that the scars Jamal al-Dura said were bullet wounds were actually from an operation that he, David, had performed on him in 1994 after Hamas operatives, who suspected al-Dura of collaborating with Israel, attacked him with knives and axes.

 

This week, Dr. David said, "Jamal al-Dura showed those wounds and claimed that they had been caused in the incident at Netzarim Junction. That was a lie." When David lost in the first round, he appealed, and in February 2012 the court of appeals in Paris acquitted him, ruling that some of Jamal al-Dura's wounds had been inflicted before the incident at Netzarim Junction.

 

A close look at the influence of the al-Dura case and its role in encouraging terrorism and violence shows how far things have gone. In Syria and in Darfur, more Muslim children are killed by Muslims in one month than in all the years of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But a single fiction about a Gazan child was inflated to monstrous proportions and provided inspiration for terror attacks and an ongoing delegitimization campaign against the state of Israel.

 

Ya'alon's committee, which was headed by Yossi Kuperwasser, the director-general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry, wrote in its report published this week, "Many leaders in the Arab sector who appeared before [the committee] held the opinion that the images of Muhammad al-Dura, which were broadcast by the media, were among the factors that led people of the Arab sector to go out into the streets during the events of October 2000."

 

But the al-Dura affair's influence was many times more tangible and concrete than that general statement. The crowds that lynched the two Israeli reserve soldiers who entered Ramallah by mistake in 2000 shouted for vengeance for the blood of Muhammad al-Dura. Nabil Faraj al-Areir, the first suicide terrorist of the Second Intifada, concluded the will he wrote before blowing himself up as follows: "To conclude, I say that I dedicate this act of martyrdom to the shahid Muhammad al-Dura and to all the shahids of Islam."

 

The Palestinian Authority itself used the al-Dura story to encourage children to take part in violent acts and sacrifice their lives. An excerpt from a video that was broadcast hundreds of times on official Palestinian television begins as follows: "I wave to you, not in farewell, but to say 'Follow Muhammad al-Dura.'" In the video, Muhammad al-Dura–played by a boy actor–runs joyfully in heaven, fying a kite and visiting an amusement park.

 

The committee appointed by Ya'alon and headed by Kuperwasser said this week that the report on France 2 served as an inspiration and justification for terror attacks, not only for Palestinian groups, but for global ones as well. The most significant use of the affair was made by Osama bin Laden, whose spokesperson mentioned the image of Muhammad al-Dura in a statement broadcast in October 2001.

 

Bin Laden himself alluded to the incident in an audio recording broadcast on Al-Jazeera, saying, "Pharaoh, the leader of oppression and unbelief, was known as a child-killer. But the sons of Israel do the same thing to our children in Palestine. The whole world saw how Israeli soldiers killed Muhammad al-Dura and many others like him…" The video showing the beheading of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal's South Asian bureau chief, by members of a Pakistani terrorist group, also included a brief excerpt of the report on France 2.

 

The Kuperwasser committee noted this week that the images of al-Dura were not only used as a justification for acts of terror. In Arab and Muslim societies, they also served as a symbol of the cruelty of Israelis and Jews and of the splendour of martyrdom in the struggle against them. "Muhammad al-Dura is celebrated in hundreds of Arabic songs, poems, movies, websites and Facebook pages in which Abu Rahma's and Enderlin's original accusation, that the child was murdered by Israel in cold blood, is taken as a given."….

 

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BIGGEST BATTLEFIELD IN TERROR WAR IS ON THE INTERNET

Rabbi Abraham Cooper

Fox News, May 23, 2013

 

There is one war that the terrorists are winning and if we don’t act, more Boston-style massacres, more horrific atrocities on the streets of democratic nations, like the unspeakable beheading Wednesday in London– and worse— are inevitable.  The battlefield is the Internet’s dynamic world of social networking where the most popular technologies have been leveraged to provide unprecedented access to vast libraries of how-to- tutorials on terrorism.

 

This was the key finding of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Digital Terrorism and Hate Project which was recently presented at a Capitol Hill briefing co-sponsored with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and ranking minority member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).

 

Before the carnage at the Boston Marathon in April shocked the world, our 2013 report had highlighted Inspire, Al Qaeda’s magazine and other online publications that provided the recipes for the pressure cooker bombs and radio signals the Tsarnaev brothers used to murder and maim so many innocent people.

Our researchers work only from open sources and are currently monitoring some 20,000 problematic hate and terror-related sites. But you don’t need to be the CIA or MI5 to see the clear trends:

 

Today, Islamists have created an online culture that spawns ‘lone wolf’ terrorists on steroids. With a special emphasis on online forums and social networking, online gurus of hate like the late Anwar al Awlaki validate and supercharge violent theological dogma targeting the United States, other western democracies, Israel and Russia.

 

Increasingly the "true believer" is being told they don’t have to travel to the Afghanistan/Pakistan region for training and indoctrination, they can get it all online. Let’s be clear. We are not talking about hate speech—there’s plenty of KKK and neo-Nazi type hate online—but about the growing existential threat from highly motivated and organized terrorists that must be dealt with.

 

In the past few months, I have met with intelligence and police officials on three continents, all of whom have the impossible task of keeping their citizens safe from terrorist attacks and finding the virtual (lone wolf) needle in the haystack.

 

So what can we do to degrade the terrorists’ virtual bases? For starters we need the collective attention of the Internet community itself. We have begun to grade the Internet giants on how they deal with digital terror and hate.

 

The Wiesenthal Center has given Facebook an A- because of their no- nonsense terms of usage, their transparency and the fact that they have two teams — one in Silicon Valley and the other in Ireland — who are generally responsive to our concerns and who are forging their own technological firewalls against online bigotry.

 

YouTube has barely earned a C-, for while they seem to have a good written policy, far too many do-it-yourself, how-to-terror videos still populate the giant online video provider.

 

Twitter has earned an F for its failure to provide transparency and a quick response to the proliferation of hate hashtags and links to terrorism libraries.

 

If we are to have any hope that we can degrade and thwart future lone-wolf style terror attacks, we will need to create a new voluntary coalition that brings law enforcement, homeland security, Internet giants and human rights groups to the table.  Will such deliberations work? I am not sure. But one thing is certain: maintaining the status quo is an invitation for the next unspeakable terrorist outrage.

 

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

 

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The New, Improved Axis of Jihad: Clare M. Lopez, Gatestone Institute, May 24, 2013—Indicators and warnings continue to grow concerning the resurgence of an "Axis of Jihad" comprised of Iran, Hizballah, and al-Qa'eda. This axis is not new: its three actors, both national and sub-national, have been working together in an operational terror alliance for over two decades.

 

U.S.: Israel's Prosperity a Problem: Shoshana Bryen, Gatestone Institute, May 24, 2013—At first blush, it might have sounded like praise, but it wasn't. Before meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Secretary of State John Kerry pronounced Israel's prosperity an impediment to "peace" with the Palestinians. "I think there is an opportunity [for peace], but for many reasons it's not on the tips of everyone's tongue. People in Israel aren't waking up every day and wondering if tomorrow there will be peace because there is a sense of security and a sense of accomplishment and of prosperity."

 

 

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POURQUOI LA LIGUE ARABE AVANCE À PAS DE TORTUE, ET PLUS : ISLAM CONTRE ISLAMISME

 

 

 

 

 

La Ligue arabe avance à pas de tortue

David Bensoussan

UQAM, 22 mai 2013

 

Fait peu connu : le Comité politique de la Ligue arabe regroupant sept pays proposa le gel des avoirs juifs en 1947, avant même l’indépendance d’Israël un an plus tard. La Ligue arabe rejeta la partition de la Palestine en deux états votée par l’ONU ; cinq armées arabes envahirent alors le nouvel État et furent défaites. Depuis, la Ligue arabe a appliqué un boycottage total d’Israël, sur les plans diplomatique, économique et culturel. Par la suite, d’autres pays nouvellement indépendants s’y joignirent et la Ligue arabe compte aujourd’hui 22 états.

 

L’adhésion à la Ligue arabe a obligé les nouveaux pays à souscrire à sa politique de boycottage. Ainsi, des pays modérés tels le Maroc et la Tunisie cessèrent toute relation ou contact avec Israël. On appliqua la censure des ouvrages ou des journaux qui présentaient Israël sous un aspect positif et on alla jusqu’à geler les échanges postaux. Or, ce boycottage total n’a fait que retarder un dialogue essentiel pour la compréhension mutuelle.

 

Le refus de normalisation des relations avec Israël a été réaffirmé par la Ligue arabe après la Guerre des Six Jours à Khartoum (non à la paix, non à la reconnaissance, non à la négociation). Le manque de soutien au plan de paix de Camp David II en 2000 fut une des raisons pour lesquelles Arafat décida de cesser les pourparlers et de se lancer dans une seconde intifada. En 2002, la Ligue arabe proposa une normalisation avec Israël en échange d’un retour aux frontières de 1967, la création d’un État palestinien avec Jérusalem-Est comme capitale et un règlement juste et équitable de la question des réfugiés palestiniens. Cette initiative de paix fut lancée en 2002 par l’Arabie saoudite suite aux évènements du 11 septembre 2001 : il était alors important de « redorer le blason » de ce pays d’où la majorité des terroristes furent issus. Ce plan basé sur le principe de la terre contre la paix fut réaffirmé en 2007. Il fut amendé en 2013 pour permettre des échanges de territoires mineurs et mutuellement agréés.

 

En 2002, la Ligue arabe fit appel à de nombreuses institutions internationales pour qu’elles soutiennent son plan de paix : les Nations Unies, les États-Unis, la Fédération russe, les États musulmans, l’Union européenne. Un seul pays ne fut pas appelé : Israël. Pourtant, bien des mesures devaient être prises par Israël en vue d’une solution de deux états. C’est pourquoi ce plan de paix donna à Israël l’impression d’un diktat (take it or leave it!) plutôt que celle d’une proposition de paix sincère.

 

L’enjeu des frontières sécuritaires et celui de la mise en pratique de la solution au problème des réfugiés constituent des obstacles majeurs. En effet, le lendemain de l’annonce du plan de paix de la Ligue arabe en 2002, un amendement vint préciser que la résolution 194 des Nations-Unies de 1948 – donnant aux réfugiés qui désirent retourner et vivre en paix la permission de revenir ou d’opter pour une compensation – devait être amendée par la résolution 14/224B de la Ligue arabe qui exige la reconnaissance du droit de retour des réfugiés palestiniens tout en ignorant la cause des réfugiés juifs des pays arabes.

 

L’année 2002 fut également l’année où fut lancée l’initiative complexe de la « Feuille de route » du Quartet réunissant l’ONU, les États-Unis, l’Union européenne et la Russie. Actuellement, le plan de paix de la Ligue arabe est dans les limbes en raison de la dissension interne des États membres – dissension exacerbée par la guerre civile en Syrie  – et par le manque d’unité au sein des Palestiniens : le Hamas à Gaza d’une part, le Fatah en Cisjordanie de l’autre. Comment prendre ce plan de paix au sérieux lorsqu’on sait que le retrait unilatéral du Liban et de Gaza a cédé la place à des organisations radicales qui ont saisi cette occasion pour bombarder Israël à tout vent ? Comment prendre ce plan au sérieux lorsque l’Égypte elle-même arrive difficilement à contrôler les groupes terroristes au Sinaï, que le Liban vit sous la dictature du Hezbollah et que l’Iran fait compétition à la Turquie pour aiguillonner le Hamas radical ?

 

En arrière-plan, la propagande de haine et d’enseignement de la haine notamment dans de nombreux médias électroniques arabes n’a jamais été aussi forte et a augmenté d’intensité depuis l’avènement du « printemps arabe. » Il est évident que cette haine va chercher ses racines dans des causes plus profondes qui ne se limitent pas à la résolution du conflit israélo-palestinien.

 

Le diplomate israélien Abba Eban avait coutume de dire : « les Arabes ne ratent jamais l’occasion de manquer une occasion. » Après plus de 50 ans d’immobilisme, la Ligue arabe s’est mise à avancer à pas de tortue avec… le retard d’une génération. Pour certains, la proposition de la Ligue arabe de 2002 a constitué une évolution sur le plan psychologique et relègue aux oubliettes la déclaration de Khartoum de 1967. Contrairement à la résolution 242 des Nations-Unies qui fait État de frontières sûres et reconnues dans le cadre d’un règlement du conflit, elle n’est accompagnée d’aucune garantie ou considération de sécurité. Pourtant, un simple coup d’œil sur la carte met en évidence l’importance du facteur de la sécurité dans tout règlement. La réalité est qu’il n’y a pas de solution instantanée à cette situation complexe. Il faut faire preuve d’imagination pour trouver la formule intermédiaire entre « céder des territoires pour obtenir la paix » et « obtenir la paix pour céder des territoires. » Une approche différente qui puisse rétablir la confiance des parties est nécessaire afin de collaborer à une solution graduelle et assurer que les considérations vitales de tout un chacun soient abordées dans l’aménité.

 

Islam contre islamisme

Daniel Pipes

The Washington Times, 13 mai 2013

Adaptation française: Johan Bourlard

 

Quels sont les motifs à la base des attentats du mois dernier à Boston et du projet d'attentat contre un train canadien de la compagnie Via Rail ?

 

Les gens de gauche et l'establishment offrent diverses réponses imprécises et éculées – telles que « l'extrémisme violent » ou encore la colère envers l'impérialisme occidental – indignes de toute discussion sérieuse. Les conservateurs, au contraire, s'engagent dans un débat interne animé et sérieux : alors que certains pensent que l'élément déclencheur est l'islam comme religion, d'autres avancent que la cause réside dans une variante extrémiste de la religion connue sous le nom d'islam radical ou islamisme.

 

En tant que participant à ce débat, je présente ici mon argumentation qui vise l'islamisme.

 

Le fait de voir le problème dans l'islam en tant que tel (comme c'est le cas d'ex-musulmanes comme Wafa Sultan et Ayan Hirsi Ali) souligne la suite logique observée depuis la vie de Mahomet et le contenu du Coran et du Hadith jusqu'à la pratique actuelle de l'islam. En accord avec le film Fitna de Geert Wilders, ils soulignent l'étonnante continuité entre les versets du Coran et les actions djihadistes. Ils citent les textes de l'islam pour démontrer l'importance capitale de l'idée de supériorité des musulmans, du djihad et de la misogynie et en concluent qu'une forme modérée de l'islam est impossible. Ils soulignent les propos du Premier ministre turc Recep Tayyip Erdoğan raillant l'idée même d'islam modéré. Et posent finalement une question redoutable : « Mahomet était-il musulman ou islamiste ? » Enfin, ils soutiennent qu'en condamnant l'islamisme comme nous le faisons nous cédons face au politiquement correct ou à la lâcheté.

 

À cela, nous répondons : Oui, il existe certains éléments de continuité et les islamistes suivent assurément le Coran et le Hadith de façon littérale. Mais il existe aussi des musulmans modérés qui, il est vrai, n'ont pas la force quasi-hégémonique des islamistes. Par ailleurs, le fait de nier, comme l'a fait Erdoğan, l'existence d'un islam modéré met en évidence un singulier rapprochement entre les points de vues islamiste et anti-islam. Ajoutons que Mahomet était un musulman à part entière et non un islamiste puisque l'islamisme est un concept datant seulement des années 1920. Mais non, nous ne sommes pas des lâches quand nous présentons notre analyse telle qu'elle est. Et voici en quoi elle consiste :

 

L'islam est une religion née il y a quatorze siècles et est aujourd'hui la foi de plus d'un milliard de croyants de toutes tendances allant des soufis quiétistes aux djihadistes violents. Les musulmans ont enregistré des succès militaires, économiques et culturels entre environ 600 et 1200 de l'ère chrétienne. À cette époque, être musulman signifiait appartenir à une équipe qui gagne, un fait qui a largement inspiré aux musulmans l'idée d'associer leur foi à la réussite d'ici-bas. Ces souvenirs glorieux du Moyen Âge ne sont pas que de simples réminiscences : ils demeurent centraux dans la foi des croyants en l'islam et en eux-mêmes en tant que musulmans.

 

Une dissonance majeure apparut vers 1800, lorsque les musulmans commencèrent, sans s'y attendre, à perdre des guerres, des marchés ainsi que le leadership culturel face aux Européens occidentaux. Cette situation perdure actuellement, alors que les musulmans occupent les dernières places de pratiquement tous les classements. Ce changement a provoqué à la fois une grande confusion et une grande colère. Que s'est-il passé, pourquoi Dieu a-t-il apparemment abandonné Ses fidèles ? Cette insoutenable divergence entre les exploits de l'âge pré-moderne et l'échec de l'époque contemporaine a provoqué un traumatisme.

 

À cette crise les musulmans ont réagi de trois façons différentes. Il y a d'abord les laïcs qui veulent voir les musulmans abandonner la charia (la loi islamique) et imiter l'Occident. Il y a ensuite les apologistes qui imitent également l'Occident mais affirment, en faisant cela, qu'ils suivent la charia. Il y a enfin les islamistes qui rejettent l'Occident au profit d'une application intégrale et rétrograde de la charia.

 

Les islamistes détestent l'Occident en raison de son identification à la chrétienté, l'ennemi juré historique, et de son énorme influence sur les musulmans. L'islamisme pousse à rejeter, vaincre et soumettre la civilisation occidentale. Malgré ce désir, les islamistes assimilent les influences occidentales, y compris le concept d'idéologie. En effet, l'islamisme représente la transformation de la foi islamique en idéologie politique. Islamisme désigne précisément une version de l'utopisme radical teintée d'islam, un -isme comme les autres -ismes, comparable au fascisme et au communisme. Singeant ces deux mouvements, l'islamisme, à titre d'exemple, se réfère abondamment aux théories du complot pour interpréter le monde, à l'État pour réaliser ses ambitions et à la force brutale pour atteindre ses objectifs.

 

Soutenu par 10 à 15 pour cent des musulmans, l'islamisme s'appuie sur des cadres dévoués et compétents dont l'impact va bien au delà de leur cercle limité. Il constitue une menace pour la vie civilisée en Iran, en Égypte et pas seulement dans les rues de Boston mais aussi dans les écoles, les parlements et les tribunaux occidentaux.

 

Quant à nous, notre question redoutable est la suivante : « Que proposez-vous pour vaincre l'islamisme ? » Ceux qui font de l'islam dans son ensemble leur ennemi ne succombent pas seulement à l'illusion du simplisme et de l'essentialisme mais se privent également d'outils pour le vaincre. Nous qui nous focalisons sur l'islamisme voyons la Seconde Guerre mondiale et la Guerre froide comme des modèles pour réfréner le troisième totalitarisme. Nous pensons que l'islam radical est le problème et que l'islam modéré est la solution. Nous travaillons avec les musulmans anti-islamistes pour vaincre un fléau commun. Et nous triompherons de cette nouvelle variante de la barbarie de sorte qu'une forme moderne de l'islam puisse voir le jour.

 

La Russie de Poutine alimente la guerre en Syrie :

le dilemme du gouvernement Netanyahou

Freddy Eytan

Le CAPE de Jérusalem, 18 mai 2013

 

La dernière rencontre de Benjamin Netanyahou avec Vladimir Poutine n’a pas réussi à dissiper les graves préoccupations israéliennes et il semble que la Russie soit déterminée à poursuivre ses livraisons d’armes sophistiquées à la Syrie et à soutenir, coûte que coûte, le régime de Bachar el-Assad.

 

Depuis la « Guerre Froide », la politique étrangère du Kremlin n’a pas vraiment évolué. L’ex-Union soviétique possède l’art de faire monter les enchères et de raviver la tension dans le monde, mais à ce jour, elle n’a pas disposé de moyens opérationnels pour mettre un terme aux crises régionales ou faire progresser un processus de paix équitable. Rappelons pour mémoire les conflits armés dans notre région : la campagne de Suez en 1956, la guerre des Six Jours en 1967, la guerre du Kippour de 1973, les invasions américaines en Irak, et les célèbres discours belliqueux des chefs du Kremlin brandissant sempiternellement l’arme nucléaire.

 

Les Russes menacent à chaque fois d’intervenir directement mais reculent devant les complications éventuelles d’un conflit armé et se replient toujours face à l’intransigeance de certains présidents américains, tels que J.F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon ou Ronald Reagan.

 

Dans les discussions diplomatiques et même lors des débats universitaires, les soviétologues ne seront jamais unanimes sur les réelles intentions du Politburo. En réalité, à l’intérieur des murailles du Kremlin, Poutine, comme ses prédécesseurs, laisse planer le mystère et demeure une véritable énigme.

 

A l’évidence, la crise syrienne n’est plus un conflit local ! Elle s’est transformée au fil des dernières semaines en une confrontation planétaire qui rappelle la « Guerre Froide » entre les deux superpuissances. L’échec de la Russie de ne pouvoir intervenir dans la chute de Kadhafi en Libye a été cuisant et humiliant pour Poutine. Les opérations de l’OTAN, en particulier celles de la France, ne pourront plus se reproduire avec Assad en Syrie. Ce pays est le dernier bastion des Russes dans notre région et Moscou considère le régime laïc d’Assad comme un allié précieux et un Etat stratégique face à la montée en puissance des Islamistes dans le monde arabe et les tentatives hégémoniques de l’Iran. Toute l’armée syrienne est équipée de matériel soviétique et dans la ville côtière de Tartous, les Russes abritent une importante base navale. Les deux pays sont liés par 6 milliards de dollars de contrats d’armements signés ces dernières années, et la Russie qui a perdu plusieurs contrats au profit des fabuleux accords signés avec les Américains tient à maintenir la livraison de ces nouvelles armes pour des raisons à la fois économiques et géostratégiques. Contrairement à l’avis des Occidentaux et d’Israël, ces armes sont qualifiées par le Kremlin de défensives, destinées à protéger des sites stratégiques en Syrie et à éviter toute intervention étrangère. 

 

Toutes les démarches du gouvernement israélien pour annuler la vente de ces armes dangereuses, notamment des missiles de croisière supersonique ainsi que des missiles antiaériens, ont été hélas vouées à l’échec. Pourtant, nos relations bilatérales avec la Russie sont au beau fixe, et la visite officielle de Poutine en juin 2012 en Israël fut apparemment une grande réussite.

 

Dans la lignée de sa conduite intransigeante, nous constatons que Moscou persiste et signe, alimente ainsi la guerre en Syrie et risque considérablement d’enflammer toute la région.

 

Devant la faiblesse de l’administration Obama et l’impuissance des Occidentaux à intervenir sur le terrain ou instaurer une zone d’interdiction de survol depuis des navires en mer, l’Etat juif est placé devant un grand dilemme, se trouvant dans l’obligation de poursuivre à la fois ses démarches diplomatiques mais surtout devant se défendre par tous les moyens possibles dont dispose Tsahal. Il s’agit effectivement de lignes rouges que les Russes ne devraient pas franchir. Nous devons à tout prix contrer l’utilisation de ces nouvelles armes russes par le régime d’Assad, par le Hezbollah iranien ou toute autre organisation terroriste.

 

Les dangers sont donc existentiels et les derniers raids en territoire syrien prouvent que le gouvernement Netanyahou est déterminé à protéger ses citoyens même au risque d’un affrontement involontaire avec la Russie de Poutine.

LEBANESE RELIGIO-POLITICAL CRISIS RADICALIZED BY SYRIAN CIVIL WAR, HEZBOLLAH—AL-NUSRAH CONFLICT

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Uncertainty over Electoral Law Prolongs Lebanon Political Crisis: Nasser Chararah,Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse, May 20, 2013—There have been mounting concerns about the situation in Lebanon during the coming period. Indeed, political factions have failed to reach a consensus on producing an electoral law that would remedy the [issue of] Christian representation, and develop the [former] electoral law that included glaring errors regarding fair representation.

 

The Imminent Hezbollah-Nusra War: Hanin Ghaddar, NOW Lebanon, May 15, 2013—Hezbollah will not save the Shiites. They have already determined that Lebanon and all the Lebanese will have to sacrifice their lives for their mission to serve Iran and its interests in the region. The Lebanese need to save themselves.

 

How Hezbollah Slowly Infiltrated Europe: Alexandre Levy, LE TEMPS/Worldcrunch, Apr. 9, 2013—While Cyprus was in the middle of a financial crisis, the court of Limassol, the island’s second largest city, made a ruling that largely went unnoticed. Yet it was a judicial first. On March 28, the Cyprus court condemned a 24-year-old Swedish-Lebanese man, Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, to four years in prison for helping plan attacks against Israelis on the Mediterranean island.

 

Hezbollah Campaigns for Preemptive War in Syria: Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse, May 22, 2013—Several Hezbollah fighters were killed or wounded by a booby-trapped tanker truck during a recent incursion into Syria. There had been several similar incidents in preceding days. In another episode, a Syrian opposition gunman appeared to surrender to Hezbollah forces, but as he approached them, he detonated the explosive belt he was wearing.

 

On Topic Links

 

Three in Europe Now Oppose Hezbollah: Nicholas Kulish, New York Times,  May 22, 2013

The Jihadist Threat to Lebanon: Jaafar al-Attar, from As-Safir (Lebanon). Al-Monitor, May 15, 2013

Hizbollah cannot Afford to Stay Long in Syria's Quagmire: Michael Young, The National (UAE), May 23, 2013

 

 

UNCERTAINTY OVER ELECTORAL LAW
PROLONGS LEBANON POLITICAL CRISIS

Nasser Chararah

Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse, May 20, 2013

 

There have been mounting concerns about the situation in Lebanon during the coming period. Indeed, political factions have failed to reach a consensus on producing an electoral law that would remedy the [issue of] Christian representation, and develop the [former] electoral law that included glaring errors regarding fair representation.

 

For instance, the provisions of the current electoral law, dubbed the “1960 law,” are in direct conflict with the Lebanese constitution, according to which Lebanese people have equal representation quotas. Pursuant to the current electoral law, certain MPs could secure a place in parliament with thousands of votes in some constituencies, while others may need tens of thousands of votes to win a seat. This is not to mention that according to the current law, a significant part of Christian MPs are elected by Muslim votes.

 

During the past months, there has been a need to formulate a new, fairer electoral law. However, intense political disputes in the country — which are connected to regional differences — have prevented the drafting of a new electoral law.

 

With the expiration of the constitutional deadline to amend the electoral law, and given that the term of the current parliament will come to an end in the second half of June, not to mention that political factions have yet to reach a consensus on a new electoral law, Lebanon stands today at a crossroads. It can either opt to extend the term of parliament to try to formulate a new electoral law and therefore hold elections on this basis; or it can hold elections based on the 1960 law, given that is the only legitimate solution in the absence of consensus on any other law.

 

In any case, both solutions reflect the depth of the political and constitutional crisis that Lebanon has been going through. The most dangerous implication of the current crisis is that it could lead the political system to a structural crisis that would be difficult to overcome with cosmetic solutions. This is not to mention that, in light of domestic and regional considerations, it is impossible to make any substantial changes to the system.

 

There have been several key signs emerging from the current crisis indicating the nature of challenges threatening Lebanon’s political stability and coexistence, according to its current rules that are not likely to be remedied in light of the internal and external situation.

 

First, a significant part of Lebanese Christians believe that balanced sectarian representation can be mended with their Sunni partners in peace. This representation was disturbed when Maronites were forced to relinquish some of their major political and constitutional power — which they had during the first Republic (1983-1989) — as the result of drafting the constitution of Taif.

 

Thus, the Orthodox electoral law has been put forth, according to which each sectarian group would elect its own candidates on a proportional basis. The major Christian political bloc (including the Free Patriotic Movement, the Marada movement, the Kataeb Party, and even Bikirki [the seat of the Maronite Patriarchy] indirectly) was expecting that the Sunni partners would accept the Orthodox proposal as an acknowledgement that the Taif Agreement needed to be amended in terms of fixing the Christian representation and not in terms of restoring the powers of the Maronite President of the Republic.

 

Nevertheless, the Orthodox proposal was rejected as the quorum was not reached during the parliament session due to the opposition of the Sunni bloc that is mainly allied with the Druze and some Christian parties. This indicated that Sunni partners (the biggest community in the country) have refused to establish a new settlement with Christians. Sunnis continue to insist that Christians relinquish powers under the Taif Agreement so as to reflect the new balances of power in the country and that they have to be realistic about this fact.

 

This also demonstrates that the Taif Agreement, which has served as a constitutional chart for the Second Republic in Lebanon, is no longer unanimously agreed upon by all Lebanese. It has become in the eyes of a large part of Christians an agreement that reflects their existence under a political system that reproduces their defeat in the civil war, which broke out during the 1970s and 1980s and resulted in the Taif Agreement under Arab and International auspices.

 

Moreover, [rejecting the Orthodox proposal] indicates that the country is going through a crisis that has been gripping the political system at all levels. This is especially true, since the crisis of a new electoral law that can produce a just sectarian representation, coincided with the crisis of the resigned government of Najib Mikati, about two month ago, which is now limited to managing day-to-day state affairs.

 

These overlapping crises suggest that Lebanon’s various institutions are no longer able to uphold the state’s affairs. The legitimacy of the Constitutional Council, which is in charge of monitoring constitutional legitimacy, has become disreputable. Meanwhile, parliament is paralyzed as a result of sharp divisions, preventing it from producing legislation.

 

Moreover, the military council (which is similar to the Government of the Lebanese Army) has been also become paralyzed. Thus, the military institution is likely to embark on the path of vacuum, as most of its members are retired, while no constitutional provision has been set yet to [choose] any alternatives.

 

What’s more, the commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces is set to retire in September. Thus, all leaders of the military institutions will soon become leaders by proxy. Hence, current events clearly indicate that the Lebanese crisis has gone beyond the political situation and has gripped the entire political system, undermining the state and sectarian coexistence.

 

Nasser Chararah is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor's Lebanon Pulse and for multiple Arab newspapers and magazines, as well as the author of several books on the Hezbollah-Israeli conflict.

 

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THE IMMINENT HEZBOLLAH-NUSRA WAR

Hanin Ghaddar

NOW Lebanon, May 15, 2013

 

The Syrian Salafist group Jabhat Al-Nusra declared in Jordan that it has set the confrontation with Hezbollah militants in Syria as a top priority. Jordan-based al-Qaeda-affiliate Mohammad Al Shalabi, alias Abi Sayyaf, said that Jabhat al-Nusra has taken a decision to fight Hezbollah militants, who have become "our Jihadists’ main target" across Syria. This came after Hezbollah’s secretary general Hassan Nasrallah declared last week that Hezbollah will stand by Syria and help it become a state of resistance. He announced that Hezbollah is ready to receive any sort of qualitative weapons even if it is going to disrupt the regional balance. 

 

For the Syrian rebels, al-Nusra and others, this is a declaration of war against them, knowing that what Nasrallah really means is that Hezbollah is now in charge of Syria, upon Iran’s decision. Hezbollah and Iran are running the show and if the Syrian rebels want to prevail, they need to target Hezbollah, not Assad or the Syrian regime. Assad has been pushed to the background to make way for Hezbollah. Therefore, it is not strange that Al-Nusra has decided to shift its priority to fighting Hezbollah as its main enemy.

 

Al-Nusra’s main mission is not to free Syria of its dictatorship and move to build a modern democratic state. Their goal is the umma and they will fight the enemies of the umma wherever they are. Therefore, their fight against Hezbollah will not stay in Syria and will eventually move to Lebanon. They do not differentiate between Hezbollah and the Shiite community just as they do not differentiate between Assad and Alawites.  This will lead to two dangerous consequences for Lebanon.

 

One, Shiites will be targeted by al-Nusra and other Sunni jihadist groups, especially that the sectarian tension among Lebanese Sunnis and Shiites has already reached unprecedented levels. In fact, while Hezbollah sends its fighters to Syria, many Lebanese Sunni groups are also moving to Syria to fight alongside the rebels.

 

What’s happening is that the Lebanese Sunni-Shiite civil war is already taking place, but in Syria. It is only a matter of time before it moves to Lebanon. These fighters will return to Lebanon with increased hatred toward each other; hatred rigged with blood and a desire for revenge. Al-Nusra are not organized enough to fight against Hezbollah in a conventional war, but they could cause great damage by organizing bomb attacks and suicide bombers against Hezbollah’s bases and public squares in the southern suburbs of Beirut or the South.

 

Their fighting tactics are usually based on bomb attacks, not bombing cities with rockets. They are an al-Qaeda-affiliated group, and they don’t usually dissociate between a militant and a civilian. They just target a place aiming at the maximum damage. Therefore, Hezbollah’s supporters and the Shiite community in general will be in danger.

 

Also, there are plenty of Lebanese jihadist and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups that had a presence in Lebanon before the Syrian conflict and can now be mobilized to target Hezbollah. Organizations like Fatah al-Islam, Jund al-Sham or Osbat al-Ansar have had bases in Lebanon for years, but they never engaged Hezbollah in direct confrontations. However, after the beginning of the Syrian conflict, jihadists reportedly regrouped in a new radical organization inspired by the emergence and successful military operations of Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria.

 

Two, Lebanon will become al-Nusra’s alternative battlefield. There are no state institutions to control their growing presence in Lebanon or the spread of arms. The current void in government is not helping and Prime Minister designate Tammam Salam seems to be incapable of forming a government that does not meet Hezbollah’s conditions, one that facilitates its involvement in Syria. So how can we protect Lebanon and the Shiites from the looming disaster?

 

Let’s start with the reality that the Shiite community in Lebanon is not one single bloc that supports Hezbollah. The diversity among the Shiites is wider than it is among other sectarian communities, for religious reasons related to the diversity of religious references (Marja’) and different interpretations of the Qur’an. On the political level, this community has never been as divided over Hezbollah as it is today. The feeling that Hezbollah is dragging them to hell is translating into serious discussion and refutation inside the community.

 

There is an urgent need to repeat this over and over. Every Lebanese official and media outlet should aim to highlight this diversity. Hezbollah will not save the Shiites. They have already determined that Lebanon and all the Lebanese will have to sacrifice their lives for their mission to serve Iran and its interests in the region. The Lebanese need to save themselves.

 

That’s why it is also important to safeguard Lebanon today by fighting Hezbollah’s hegemony over state institutions. A government that empowers Hezbollah and maintains Iran’s control over state institutions should not be an option. PM-designate Tammam Salam and President Michel Suleiman should not succumb to any threats. A government to save Lebanon is urgently needed now, more than ever. If this is not achieved, Lebanon will be naturally linked to Hezbollah and the Hezbollah-Nusra war will not spare anyone. If we lose this chance, we lose everything.

 

 Hanin Ghaddar is the managing editor of NOW.

 

 

HOW HEZBOLLAH SLOWLY INFILTRATED EUROPE

Alexandre Levy

LE TEMPS/Worldcrunch, Apr. 9, 2013

 

While Cyprus was in the middle of a financial crisis, the court of Limassol, the island’s second largest city, made a ruling that largely went unnoticed. Yet it was a judicial first. On March 28, the Cyprus court condemned a 24-year-old Swedish-Lebanese man, Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, to four years in prison for helping plan attacks against Israelis on the Mediterranean island. The man – a self-confessed member of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group – was a scout for the organization, tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of Israeli tourists on the island, in view of organizing a terrorist attack.

 

In front of the judges, Hossam Taleb Yaacoub denied being a terrorist, saying he had only “gathered information about Jews.” “That's what my organization does around the world,” he added. According to reports from the Cyprus police, the Hezbollah agent was particularly meticulous. He took notes on everything: flight schedules, bus license plates, the numbers of security guards, hotels, kosher restaurants etc. Hossam Taleb Yaacoub was arrested on July 7, 2012 by the Cyprus police. But it is only two weeks later that his activities started making sense, says Matthew Levitt, director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

 

On the other side of the Bosporus, in Burgas, on the Bulgarian coast, a bus transporting Israeli tourists was blown up, killing seven people, including the bomber. “It is clear that Hossam Taleb Yaacoub was preparing another attack that was supposed to take place around the same time,” says Levitt. In Feb. 2013, Bulgarian authorities announced their investigations led them to believe that the Hezbollah was behind the bus bombing. Bulgaria had suddenly become a pawn on the dangerous chessboard that is the Middle-Eastern conflict.

 

Bulgaria’s announcement also had important consequences from a European point of view. Some major countries of the EU, including France and Germany, have not designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, so as to preserve the fragile political equilibrium in Lebanon. In light of the events in Cyprus and Burgas, some are “reviewing” their stance, while others “are not sufficiently convinced,” according to Bulgarian Prime Minister Marin Raikov.

 

But in the U.S., there is no doubt. Early 2013, the U.S. Congress invited the EU to blacklist Hezbollah. An invitation reiterated by some of Washington’s top officials, to Israel's utmost satisfaction. For Matthew Levitt, Hezbollah is a key ally of Iran – maybe even its military proxy – playing “a central role in Iran’s shadow war with the West.” Taking advantage of the leniency of some European capitals, Hezbollah has strengthened its network in Europe, recruiting and positioning agents all across the continent. Bi-nationals with ties with Lebanon have the ideal profile. Recruited at age 19, Hossam Taleb Yaacoub had a Swedish passport and did not arouse the suspicion of European police. This allowed him to travel frequently from Turkey to the Netherlands, through Lyon, in east-central France, carrying mysterious packages for Hezbollah.

 

It was the same for the men who operated in Bulgaria: one of them was Canadian, the other Australian; they had entered the country legally. Nothing in their attitude betrayed the true objective of their stay. Bulgarian investigators describe them as smart-looking youths, dressed head to toe with big-brand clothes. They rented cars and booked hotel rooms with fake U.S. drivers’ licenses. That was their only mistake. “The documents were made by a forger in Lebanon, known by our colleagues from Western intelligence services,” explains Bulgaria’s organized crime czar, Stanimir Florov. Money transfers from Lebanon, as well as a photo on which relatives of one of the terrorists posed with high-ranking Hezbollah militants, convinced Bulgarian officials: All the tracks lead back to Beirut.

 

Counter-terrorism experts also noted a “professionalization” of Hezbollah agents abroad. “Using fake IDs, speaking foreign languages, conspiracy techniques and coded communications… as well as a secrecy between members, which is the best way to protect other members, ” explains a European police official.

 

Hossam Taleb Yaacoub has always claimed he had never been face-to-face with his Lebanese handler and that he did not know the real purpose of his mission. This could also be the case for the young man who died in the explosion of the bomb he carried in his backpack, in front of the Israeli tourists’ bus at the Burgas airport. First described as a “suicide bomber,” he was “probably fooled by the other two team members, who managed to escape the bombing,” says a Bulgarian investigator. Nothing, not even his DNA was able to establish his true identity.

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HEZBOLLAH CAMPAIGNS FOR PREEMPTIVE WAR IN SYRIA

Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse, May 22, 2013

 

Several Hezbollah fighters were killed or wounded by a booby-trapped tanker truck during a recent incursion into Syria. There had been several similar incidents in preceding days. In another episode, a Syrian opposition gunman appeared to surrender to Hezbollah forces, but as he approached them, he detonated the explosive belt he was wearing.

 

Hezbollah admits to thus far losing 32 fighters in the battle for Qusair, but some believe the actual figure to be much higher. On May 20, the party buried two brothers who had fought in Qusair, and a rumor circulated that their father died from sorrow during the funeral. The fact that such a story was making the rounds among Hezbollah’s base reflects the prevailing anxiety.

 

Most of the party’s militia members come from the same societal group, so when one of them is killed, it affects an entire community. Hezbollah’s participation in the Qusair fighting thus stands to affect the party’s relationship with its base.

 

The organization's propaganda machine is busy in its strongholds — the Bekaa Valley, south Lebanon, and Beirut’s southern suburbs — trying to preempt feelings of frustration. The campaign is focused on convincing Hezbollah supporters that Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah has wisely decided to fight Sunni takfiris in Syria because if they succeed in bringing down the Syrian regime, they will then target Lebanon and subjugate the Shiites.

 

In short, the propaganda campaign is about making the argument for a preemptive war. Hezbollah must fight the Sunni takfirists now, on Syrian ground beside the Syrian army, because if Hezbollah waits until the takfiris bring down the Bashar al-Assad government, it would be forced to fight them alone in Lebanon.

 

Another argument Hezbollah is making is that the party has a duty to defend sacred Shiite shrines in Syria, such as Sayyeda Zeinab in Damascus, which Syrian opposition militants have tried to destroy on more than one occasion.

 

Another part of the propaganda campaign involves promoting stories of heroic acts by party members in Qusair and portraying Hezbollah fighters as militarily superior, even to those in the Syrian army. Such boasting about Hezbollah’s strength and military competence is intended to raise the morale of the base and shift attention away from news reports of Hezbollah losses.

 

So goes the effort to convince Hezbollah supporters that the price of losing their sons is worth it.

 

 

Three in Europe Now Oppose Hezbollah: Nicholas Kulish, New York Times,  May 22, 2013—Three of Europe’s most powerful countries — Britain, Germany and France — have thrown their weight behind a push for the European Union to designate the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, a move that could have far-reaching consequences for the group’s fund-raising activities on the Continent.

 

The Jihadist Threat to Lebanon: Jaafar al-Attar, from As-Safir (Lebanon). Al-Monitor, May 15, 2013—Many officers do not deny that the Lebanese security services do not possess documented information on the numbers and locations of the “organized takfiri networks” in Lebanon. The head of one of those security services told As-Safir that “monitoring and information-gathering on terrorist networks cannot be precise, since they are located within the Palestinian refugee camps, especially in Ain al-Hilweh.”

 

Hizbollah Cannot Afford to Stay Long in Syria's Quagmire: Michael Young, The National (UAE), May 23, 2013 —Hizbollah is being drawn into the Syrian quagmire. as revealed by this week's reports of party members being killed fighting in the strategic Syrian town of Qusair. Victory in Qusair is vital for the Syrian regime, as it would clear a corridor between Damascus and the coast, the stronghold of the Alawite community.

 

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