Month: August 2013

ISRAEL, AN OASIS OF SANITY IN A DESERT OF MURDER & MAYHEM, STILL AN OBJECT OF LEFTIST VENOM – EU ANITSEMITISM FLOURISHES WHILE HIDDEN POLISH JEWS SURFACE TO DISCOVER LOST IDENTITY

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Contents:

 

The Israeli Spring: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Aug. 29, 2013—Israel could be forgiven for having a siege mentality — given that at any moment, old frontline enemies Syria and Egypt might spill their violence over common borders. The Arab Spring has thrown Israel’s once-predictable adversaries into the chaotic state of a Sudan or Somalia.

 

On Foreign Shores, Anti-Semitism Still Rages: Barbara Kay, National Post, Aug. 28, 2013—It’s been many years since anti-Semitic motifs — like cartoons showing money-obsessed Jews lusting after power — have been part of mainstream culture here in North America. Yet in other parts of the world, such offensive notions are flourishing.

 

Questions for the European Left: Pilar Rahola, Portal of Ideas, Jan. 3, 2009—I am not Jewish. Ideologically I am left and by profession a journalist. Why am I not anti-Israeli like my colleagues? Because as a non-Jew I have the historical responsibility to fight against Jewish hatred and currently against the hatred for their historic homeland, Israel . To fight against anti-Semitism is not the duty of the Jews, it is the duty of the non-Jews.

 

Young, Hidden Polish Jews Discover Heritage in Israel: Rachel Avraham ,Jewish Press, Aug. 27, 2013— Shavei Israel, an Israeli organization dedicated to discovering hidden Jewish communities and lost Jews, recently brought 16 Polish Jews to Israel to rediscover their Jewish identity.

 

On Topic Links

 

Jews with Six Arms: Pilar Rahola, Jerusalem. Dec. 16, 2009—I accuse, then, in a formal manner: the main responsibility of the new antisemite’s hatred, disguised as anti-zionism, comes from those who should have to defend freedom, solidarity and progress. Far from it, they defend despots, forget their victims and remain silent before medieval ideologies which aim at the destruction of free societies. The treason of the left is an authentic treason against modernity.

 

Zionist Wine and Sour Grapes: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Aug 11, 2013— Catherine Ashton and her acrid European Union colleagues that are boycotting Israel are going to miss out on a lot of great Israeli wine. Perhaps it bothers the EU that there are Biblical echoes resonating in every glass…

 

Rediscovering the Real Bar Kokhba: Eli Kavon, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 25, 2013— Yigael Yadin, the prominent Israeli archeologist and statesman, made an extraordinary discovery in the Judean desert, near Ein Gedi, in 1961. Yadin and his excavation team found letters in a canyon crevice signed by Simon Bar Kosiba. The letters confirm that Bar Kosiba was the leader of an independent Jewish state that rebelled against the Roman Empire for three years, from 132 to 135 CE.

 

 

THE ISRAELI SPRING

Victor Davis Hanson

National Review, Aug. 29, 2013

 

Israel could be forgiven for having a siege mentality — given that at any moment, old frontline enemies Syria and Egypt might spill their violence over common borders. The Arab Spring has thrown Israel’s once-predictable adversaries into the chaotic state of a Sudan or Somalia. The old understandings between Jerusalem and the Assad and Mubarak kleptocracies seem in limbo.

 

Yet these tragic Arab revolutions swirling around Israel are paradoxically aiding it, both strategically and politically — well beyond just the erosion of conventional Arab military strength. In terms of realpolitik, anti-Israeli authoritarians are fighting to the death against anti-Israeli insurgents and terrorists. Each is doing more damage to the other than Israel ever could — and in an unprecedented, grotesque fashion. Who now is gassing Arab innocents? Shooting Arab civilians in the streets? Rounding up and executing Arab civilians? Blowing up Arab houses? Answer: either Arab dictators or radical Islamists.

 

The old nexus of radical Islamic terror of the last three decades is unraveling. With a wink and a nod, Arab dictatorships routinely subsidized Islamic terrorists to divert popular anger away from their own failures to the West or Israel. In the deal, terrorists got money and sanctuary. The Arab Street blamed others for their own government-inflicted miseries. And thieving authoritarians posed as Islam’s popular champions.

 

But now, terrorists have turned on their dictator sponsors. And even the most ardent Middle East conspiracy theorists are having troubling blaming the United States and Israel. Secretary of State John Kerry is still beating last century’s dead horse of a “comprehensive Middle East peace.” But does Kerry’s calcified diplomacy really assume that a peace agreement involving Israel would stop the ethnic cleansing of Egypt’s Coptic Christians? Does Israel have anything to do with Assad’s alleged gassing of his own people?

 

There are other losers as well. Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted to turn a once-secular Turkish democracy into a neo-Ottoman Islamist sultanate, with grand dreams of eastern-Mediterranean hegemony. His selling point to former Ottoman Arab subjects was often a virulent anti-Semitism. Suddenly, Turkey became one of Israel’s worst enemies and the Obama administration’s best friends.

 

Yet if Erdogan has charmed President Obama, he has alienated almost everyone in the Middle East. Islamists such as former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi felt that Erdogan was a fickle and opportunistic conniver. The Gulf monarchies believed that he was a troublemaker who wanted to supplant their influence. Neither the Europeans nor the Russians trust him. The result is that Erdogan’s loud anti-Israeli foreign policy is increasingly irrelevant.

 

The oil-rich sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf once funded terrorists on the West Bank, but they are now fueling the secular military in Egypt. In Syria they are searching to find some third alternative to Assad’s Alawite regime and its al-Qaeda enemies. For the moment, oddly, the Middle East foreign policy of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the other oil monarchies dovetails with Israel’s: Predictable Sunni-Arab nationalism is preferable to one-vote, one-time Islamist radicals.

 

Israel no doubt prefers that the Arab world liberalize and embrace constitutional government. Yet the current bloodletting lends credence to Israel’s ancient complaints that it never had a constitutional or lawful partner in peace negotiations.

 

In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak’s corrupt dictatorship is gone. His radical Muslim Brotherhood successors were worse and are also gone. The military dictatorship that followed both is no more legitimate than either. In these cycles of revolution, the one common denominator is an absence of constitutional government.

 

In Syria, there never was a moderate middle. Take your pick between the murderous Shiite-backed Assad dictatorship or radical Sunni Islamists. In Libya, the choice degenerated to Moammar Qaddafi’s unhinged dictatorship or the tribal militias that overthrew it. Let us hope that one day westernized moderate democracy might prevail. But that moment seems a long way off.

 

What do the Egyptian military, the French in Mali, Americans at home, the Russians, the Gulf monarchies, persecuted Middle Eastern Christians, and the reformers of the Arab Spring all have in common? Like Israel, they are all fighting Islamic-inspired fanaticism. And most of them, like Israel, are opposed to the idea of a nuclear Iran.

 

In comparison with the ruined economies of the Arab Spring — tourism shattered, exports nonexistent, and billions of dollars in infrastructure lost through unending violence — Israel is an atoll of prosperity and stability. Factor in its recent huge gas and oil finds in the eastern Mediterranean, and it may soon become another Kuwait or Qatar, but with a real economy beyond its booming petroleum exports.

 

Israel had nothing to do with either the Arab Spring or its failure. The irony is that surviving embarrassed Arab regimes now share the same concerns with the Israelis. In short, the more violent and chaotic the Middle East becomes, the more secure and exceptional Israel appears.

 

Contents

ON FOREIGN SHORES, ANTI-SEMITISM STILL RAGES

Barbara Kay

National Post, Aug. 28, 2013

 

It’s been many years since anti-Semitic motifs — like cartoons showing money-obsessed Jews lusting after power — have been part of mainstream culture here in North America. Yet in other parts of the world, such offensive notions are flourishing. Extreme Judeophobia is widespread in the Middle East, where many Arabs imbibe it at home, school and mosque. All educated people know that. But many readers might be shocked at how acceptable openly expressed Jew-hatred has become among some people in the “civilized” countries of Britain, Europe and Scandinavia.

 

Since 9/11, many reliable polls have revealed rampant credulity in these nations around anti-Semitic myths, fraudulent reports and conspiracy theories. Often the culprits disseminating them are intellectuals and the media. According to the Simon Weisenthal Center, six out of 10 of the world’s most virulent anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli slurs are of European origin.

 

Anti-Semitism thrives in the far left and the far right. But the latter has no credibility with ordinary citizens. The far Left, however, finds respectable conduits for its anti-Semitism, sometimes thinly veiled as anti-Zionism, through academia, the media, NGOs, some Christian organizations such as the World Council of Churches, trade unions, “peace” activism, far-left Jewish academics and the UN. Some political centrists trustingly sip their toxic Kool-Aid, its poison dissolved in sugary compassion for Israel’s enemies, who are always, for the far left, the victims.

 

Evidence for these assertions can be found in the newly published book “Demonizing Israel and the Jews,” a useful compendium of interviews with scholars, politicians, journalists and artists from a wide variety of countries and professional domains, edited by the Israeli writer Manfred Gerstenfeld. Gerstenfeld, an expert on anti-Semitism attached to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, focuses half of his interviews on the demonization of Israel, and half on the demonization of Jews. Highlight contributors to his volume include Canada’s Irwin Cotler on Iran; U.S. lieutenant colonel and psychiatrist Daphne Burdman on the indoctrination of hatred and incitement to violence in Palestinian children; Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Kenneth Levin on the “psychology of Jews who embrace their enemy”; and Norwegian academic Hanne Nabintu Herland, who has declared that Norway is “the most anti-Semitic country in the West.”

 

Ronald Evans, founder of the world’s first complaint bureau for combating Internet hatred, writes that Facebook’s European director told him they remove most postings on Holocaust denial, but not “the Holocaust denial which is not considered hatred.” Eissens says he expressed incredulity, for Holocaust denial is always evidence of hatred.

 

In terms of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe, the worst — such as the 2006 torture-murder of Ilan Halimi in France — tend to be perpetrated by first- or second-generation immigrants from developing countries. The influx of significant numbers of Judeophobes into European culture is a serious threat to Jewish communities, who rightly voice concern at their own government’s failure — France, Sweden, others — to adequately protect them.

 

The Netherlands, with its justifiably uncomfortable war memories, and its million Muslims, many overtly Judeophobic, is particularly tense for its 45,000 Jews. Frits Bolkestein, former Dutch defense minister, and professor at Leiden University, has said: “Jews have to realize that there is no future for them in the Netherlands and that they best advise their children to leave for the United States or Israel.”

 

Leon de Winter, a well-known Dutch writer, says what many Jews secretly think: “What is happening in the Netherlands and Europe is a prelude of terrible things to come. The great story of the love Jews have for Europe has come to an end. In this sense, the Nazis have been successful. The presence of Jews in Europe will end.” Anyone wishing to grasp the diversity and scope of the global cultural and ideological war being waged against Israel and Jews will find an excellent reference tool in this compact, enlightening anthology.

Contents

 

QUESTIONS FOR THE EUROPEAN LEFT

Pilar Rahola

Portal of Ideas, Jan. 3, 2009

 

Why don't we see demonstrations against Islamic dictatorships in London, Paris , Barcelona?  Or demonstrations against the Burmese dictatorship?
 
Why aren't there demonstrations against the enslavement of millions of women who live without any legal protection?
 
Why aren't there demonstrations against the use of children as human bombs where there is conflict with Islam?
 
Why has there been no leadership in support of the victims of Islamic dictatorship in Sudan?  Why is there never any outrage against the acts of terrorism committed against Israel?
 
Why is there no outcry by the European left against Islamic fanaticism?  Why don't they defend Israel's right to exist?
 
Why confuse support of the Palestinian cause with the defence of Palestinian terrorism?  And finally, the million dollar question: Why is the left in Europe and around the world obsessed with the two most solid democracies, the United States and Israel, and not with the worst dictatorships on the planet? The two most solid democracies, who have suffered the bloodiest attacks of terrorism, and the left doesn't care.
 
And then, to the concept of freedom. In every pro-Palestinian European forum I hear the left yelling with fervor: "We want freedom for the people!"
 
Not true. They are never concerned with freedom for the people of Syria or Yemen or Iran or Sudan, or other such nations. And they are never  preoccupied when Hamas destroys freedom for the Palestinians. They are only concerned with using the concept of Palestinian freedom as a weapon against Israeli freedom. The resulting consequence of these ideological pathologies is the manipulation of the press.
 
The international press does major damage when reporting on the question of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. On this topic they don't inform, they propagandize.
 
When reporting about Israel, the majority of journalists forget the reporter code of ethics. And so, any Israeli act of self-defense becomes a massacre, and any confrontation, genocide. So many stupid things have been written about Israel that there aren't any accusations left to level against her.
 
At the same time, this press never discusses Syrian and Iranian interference in propagating violence against Israel, the indoctrination of children, and the corruption of the Palestinians. And when reporting about victims, every Palestinian casualty is reported as tragedy and every Israeli victim is camouflaged, hidden or reported about with disdain.

And let me add on the topic of the Spanish left. Many are the examples that illustrate the anti-Americanism and anti-Israeli sentiments that define the Spanish left. For example, one of the leftist parties in Spain has just expelled one of its members for creating a pro-Israel website. I quote from the expulsion document: "Our friends are the people of Iran, Libya and Venezuela, oppressed by imperialism, and not a Nazi state like Israel."
 
In another example, the socialist mayor of Campozuelos changed Shoah Day, commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, with Palestinian Nabka Day, which mourns the establishment of the State of Israel, thus showing contempt for the six million European Jews murdered in the Holocaust.
 
Or in my native city of Barcelona, the city council decided to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel, by having a week of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Thus, they invited Leila Khaled, a noted terrorist from the 70's and current leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization so described by the European Union, which promotes the use of bombs against Israel.
 
This politically correct way of thinking has even polluted the speeches of President Zapatero. His foreign policy falls within the lunatic left, and on issues of the Middle East, he is unequivocally pro-Arab. I can assure you that in private, Zapatero places on Israel the blame for the conflict in the Middle East , and the policies of Foreign Minister Moratinos reflect this. The fact that Zapatero chose to wear a kafiah in the midst of the Lebanon conflict is no coincidence; it's a symbol.
 
Spain has suffered the worst terrorist attack in Europe and it is in the crosshairs of every Islamic terrorist organization. As I wrote before, they kill us with cell phones hooked to satellites connected to the Middle Ages. And yet the Spanish left is the most anti-Israeli in the world. And then it says it is anti-Israeli because of solidarity. This is the madness I want to denounce in this conference.

 

Conclusion:

I am not Jewish. Ideologically I am left and by profession a journalist. Why am I not anti-Israeli like my colleagues? Because as a non-Jew I have the historical responsibility to fight against Jewish hatred and currently against the hatred for their historic homeland, Israel. To fight against anti-Semitism is not the duty of the Jews, it is the duty of the non-Jews.
 
As a journalist it is my duty to search for the truth beyond prejudice, lies and manipulations. The truth about Israel is not told. As a person from the left who loves progress, I am obligated to defend liberty, culture, civic education for children, coexistence and the laws that the Tablets of the Covenant made into universal principles, principles that Islamic fundamentalism systematically destroys. That is to say, that as a non-Jew, journalist and lefty, I have a triple moral duty with Israel, because if Israel is destroyed, liberty, modernity and culture will be destroyed too.  The struggle of Israel, even if the world doesn't want to accept it, is the struggle of the world.

Pilar Rahola is a Spanish-Catalan journalist, writer, and former politician and MP. Her areas of interest include women's rights, international human rights, and animal rights. In recent years she has spoken out about what she considers to be the hypocrisy of left wing politicians with regards to Israel and Zionist. In 2013 the Keren Kayemet planted a forest with 2,500 trees in her honor in Yatir, in the Negev.

 

Contents

 

 

YOUNG, HIDDEN POLISH JEWS DISCOVER HERITAGE IN ISRAEL

Rachel Avraham

Jewish Press, Aug. 27, 2013

 

Shavei Israel, an Israeli organization dedicated to discovering hidden Jewish communities and lost Jews, recently brought 16 Polish Jews to Israel to rediscover their Jewish identity. Michael Freund, chairman of Shavei Israel, explained, “In Poland, in most people’s eyes, to be Polish means Catholic. In Poland, the sense of identity is very much linked to religion, so when a person discovers he is Jewish or has Jewish ancestry, it comes as a shock to people. They become outsiders. It can be traumatic.”

During the Holocaust, 90 percent of Polish Jewry was murdered, decimating the 3 to 3.5 million Jews that lived in Poland on the eve of the Nazi invasion, leaving only 350,000 alive by war’s end. While most surviving Jews left Poland after a brief return to search for relatives, some remained. Due to communist rule and memories of the Holocaust, many hid their Jewish identity. Today, there are many communities with “hidden Jews,” who are disconnected from their Jewish roots and ancestry.

 

“There are people who suspect they might have Jewish roots and want to know yet don’t change their life styles. Others could return to Judaism or pursue a secular journey to learn about Jewish culture. We are talking about a human phenomenon, so different people react different,” Freund explained. “Some of them become religious Jews and do a conversion, while others are struggling with their new identity and are trying to figure out what to make of it and how it should impact their life. One thing that unites them is that they all want to learn more about their heritage and want to see the land of their ancestors.”

 

Some hidden Jews grew up as Catholic, the children of Jews who converted while hiding in Catholic orphanages. Others were raised without religion playing any role in their lives. According to Freund, “One young man [in this group of 16] who began to get interested in his family genealogy and then at the same time took a DNA test discovered that he has Jewish background. That combined with documents he found convinced him he has Jewish ancestry. He was even able to locate distant cousins in the US that are Jewish. This prompted him to study more about Judaism. He converted and became religiously observant.” Most of the 16 Jews in this group, however, are at an earlier stage in their journey.

 

“In many other cases, they have a grandparent who revealed it to them or are people who don’t know for sure, since their family will not discuss it with them,” said Freund. Their suspicion grew out of their lack or church attendance or extended family. “They have relatives who refuse [to speak about it] and that fuels their speculation even more.” Freund believes that roots are powerful. “When we walk the streets of Jerusalem, the trees are uneven and the roots have spread out and lifted the rocks up. If that is true of a tree, how much more so of a human being! Sometimes they burst upwards to show they are still there. More people through out Poland are discovering and embracing their Jewish roots. They are trying to go home.”

 

Contents

 

 

Jews with Six Arms: Pilar Rahola, Jerusalem. Dec. 16, 2009—I accuse, then, in a formal manner: the main responsibility of the new antisemite’s hatred, disguised as anti-zionism, comes from those who should have to defend freedom, solidarity and progress. Far from it, they defend despots, forget their victims and remain silent before medieval ideologies which aim at the destruction of free societies. The treason of the left is an authentic treason against modernity.

 

Zionist Wine and Sour Grapes: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Aug 11, 2013—Catherine Ashton and her acrid European Union colleagues that are boycotting Israel are going to miss out on a lot of great Israeli wine. Perhaps it bothers the EU that there are Biblical echoes resonating in every glass…

 

Rediscovering the Real Bar Kokhba: Eli Kavon, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 25, 2013—Yigael Yadin, the prominent Israeli archeologist and statesman, made an extraordinary discovery in the Judean desert, near Ein Gedi, in 1961. Yadin and his excavation team found letters in a canyon crevice signed by Simon Bar Kosiba. The letters confirm that Bar Kosiba was the leader of an independent Jewish state that rebelled against the Roman Empire for three years, from 132 to 135 CE.

 

 

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Jews with Six Arms

Jews with Six Arms

Pilar Rahola

Jerusalem, Dec. 16, 2009

 

Meeting in Barcelona with a hundred lawyers a month ago. They have come together to hear my opinions on the Middle-Eastern conflict. They know I am a heterodoxal vessel, in the shipwreck of “single thinking”, regarding Israel, which rules in my country. They want to listen to me, because they ask themselves why, if Pilar is a serious journalist, does she risk losing her credibility by defending the bad guys, the guilty? I answer provocatively – You all believe that you are experts in international politics, when you talk about Israel, but you really know nothing. Would you dare talk about the conflict in Ruanda? In Chechnya? – No. They are jurists, their turf is not geopolitics.. But against Israel, they dare, as does everybody. Why? Because Israel is under the permanent media magnifying glass and its distorted image pollutes the world’s brains. And, because it is part of what is politically correct, it seems solidary, because talking against Israel is free. And so, cultured people when they read about Israel, are ready to believe that Jews have six arms, in the same way that during the Middle Ages people believed all sorts of outrageous things.

 

The first question, then, is why so many intelligent people, when talking about Israel, suddenly become idiots. The problem that those of us who do not demonize Israel, have, is that there exists no debate on the conflict. All that exists is the banner; there’s no exchange of ideas, we throw slogans at each other; we don’t have serious information, we suffer from the “burger journalism”, fast food, full of prejudices, propaganda and simplism. Intellectual thinkers and International journalists have resigned in Israel. They don’t exist. That is why, when someone tries to go beyond “single thinking”, he becomes a suspect and unsolidary, and is immediately segregated. Why?

 

I’ve been trying to answer this question for years: why? Why, of all the World’s conflicts, only this one interests them? Why a tiny country which struggles to survive is criminalized? Why does the manipulated information triumph so easily? Why are all the people of Israel, reduced to a simple mass of murderous imperialists? Why is there no Palestinian guilt? Why is Arafat a hero and Sharon a monster? Finally, why when it is the only country in the World which is threatened with destruction, it is the only one that nobody considers a victim?

 

I don’t believe that there is a single answer to these questions. Just as it is impossible to completely explain the historical evil of antisemitism, it is also not possible to totally explain the present-day imbecility of anti-Israelism. Both drink from the fountain of intolerance and lie. If, also, we accept that anti-Israelism is the new form of antisemitism, we conclude that contingencies may have changed, but the deepest myths, both of the Medieval Christian antisemitism and of the modern political antisemitism, are still intact. Those myths are part of the chronicle of Israel. For example, the Medieval Jew who killed Christian children to drink their blood, connects directly with the Israeli Jew who kills Palestinian children to steal their land.

 

Always they are innocent children and dark Jews. Similarly, the Jewish bankers who wanted to dominate the world through the European banks, according to the myth of the Protocols, connect directly with the idea that the Wall Street Jews want to dominate the World through the White House. Control of the Press, control of Finances, the Universal Conspiracy, all that which created the historical hatred against the Jews, is found today in hatred of the Israelis. In the subconscious, then, beats the western antisemite DNA, which produces an efficient culture medium. But, what beats in the conscious? Why, today a renewed intolerance surges with such virulence, centred now, not against the Jewish people, but against the Jewish state? From my point of view, this has historical and geopolitical motives, among others, the bloody Soviet rôle during decades, the European Antiamericanism, the West’s energy dependency and the growing Islamist phenomenon.

 

But it also emerges from a set of defeats which we suffer as free societies, leading to a strong ethical relativism.

 

The moral defeat of the left. For decades, the left raised the flag of freedom, wherever there was injustice. It was the depositary of the utopian hopes of society. It was the great builder of future. Despite the murderous evil of Stalinism’s sinking the utopias, the left has preserved intact its aura of struggle, and still pretends to point out the good and the evil in the world. Even those who would never vote for leftist options, grant great prestige to leftist intellectuals, and allow them to be the ones who monopolize the concept of solidarity. As they have always done. Thus, those who struggled against Pinochet were freedom-fighters, but Castro’s victims, are expelled from the heroes’ paradise, and converted into undercover fascists.

 

This historic treason to freedom, is reproduced nowadays, with mathematical precision. For example, the leaders of Hezbollah are considered resistance heroes, while pacifists like Noa, the singer, are insulted in the streets of Barcelona. Today too, as yesterday, that left is hawking totalitarian ideologies, falls in love with dictators and, in its offensive against Israel, ignores the destruction of fundamental rights. It hates rabbis, but falls in love with imams; shouts against the Tsahal, but applauds Hamas’ terrorists; weeps for the Palestinian victims, but scorns the Jewish victims, and when it is touched by Palestinian children, it does it only if it can blame the Israelis. It will never denounce the culture of hatred, or its preparation for murder. A year ago, at AIPAC’s conference in Washington, I asked the following questions: Why don’t we see demonstrations in Europe against the Islamic dictatorships? Why are there no demonstrations against the enslavement of millions of muslim women? Why don’t they declare against the use of bomb-carrying children in the conflicts in which Islam is involved? Why is the left only obsessed with fighting against two of the most solid democracies of the planet, those which have suffered the bloodiest terrorist attacks, the United States and Israel? … Because the left no longer has any ideas, only slogans. It no longer defends rights, but prejudices. And the greatest prejudice of all, is the one it has against Israel. I accuse, then, in a formal manner: the main responsability of the new antisemite hatred, disguised as anti-zionism, comes from those who should have to defend freedom, solidarity and progress. Far from it, they defend despots, forget their victims and remain silent before medieval ideologies which aim at the destruction of free societies. The treason of the left is an authentic treason against modernity.

 

Defeat of Journalism. We have, a more informed world than ever before, but we do not have a better informed world. Quite the contrary, the information superhighway connects us with anywhere in the planet, but it does not connect us with the truth. Today’s journalists do not need maps, since they have Google Earth, they do not need to know History, since they have Wikipedia. The historical journalists who knew the roots of a conflict, still exist, but they are an endangered species, devoured by that hamburger journalism which offers fast-food news, to readers who want fast-food information. Israel is the world’s most watched place, but despite that, it is the world’s least understood place. Of course, one must keep in mind the pressure of the great petrodollar lobbies, whose influence upon journalism is subtle but deep. Any mass media knows that if it speaks against Israel, it will have no problems. But what would happen if it criticised an Islamic country? Without doubt, it would complicate its existence. Certainly part of the Press that writes against Israel, would see themselves mirrored in Mark Twain’s ironical sentence: ” Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please”.

 

Defeat of critical thinking. To all this, one must add the ethical relativism which defines the present times: it is based not on denying the values of civilization, but rather in their most extreme banalization. What is modernity? Personally, I explain it with this little tale: If I were to be lost in an uncharted island, and would want to found a democratic society, I would only need three written documents: The Ten Commandments (which established the first code of modernity. “Thou shalt not murder“, founded modern civilization.); The Roman Penal Code; and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And with these three texts we would start again. These principles, are relativized daily, even by those who claim to be defending them. “Thou shalt not murder” … depending who is the target…, must think those who, like the demonstrators in Europe, shouted in favour of Hamas. “Hurray for Freedom of Speech!”….. , or not. For example, several Spanish left-wing organizations tried to take me to court, accusing me of being a negationist, like a Nazi, because I deny the “Palestinian Holocaust”.They were pretending to prohibit me from writing articles and to send me to prison. And so on… The social critical mass has lost weight and, at the same time, ideological dogmatism has gained weight. In this double turn of events, the strong values of modernity have been substituted by a “weak thinking”, vulnerable to manipulation and manicheism.

 

Defeat of the United Nations. And with it, a sound defeat of the international organizations which should look after Human Rights. Instead they have become broken puppets in the hands of despots. The United Nations is only useful so that Islamofascists like Ahmadineyad, or dangerous demagogues like Hugo Chavez have a planetary loudspeaker where they can spit their hatred. And, of course, to systematically attack Israel. The UN, too lives better against Israel.

 

Finally, defeat of Islam. The Islam of tolerance and culture suffers today the violent attack of a totalitarian virus which tries to stop its ethical development. This virus uses the name of God to perpetrate the most terrible horrors: lapidate women, enslave them, use youths as human bombs. Let’s not forget : They kill us with cellular phones connected to the Middle Ages. If Stalinism destroyed the left, and Nazism destroyed Europe, islamic fundamentalism is destroying Islam. And it also has, an antisemite DNA. Perhaps islamic antisemitism is the most serious intolerant phenomenon of our times, indeed , it contaminates more than 1,400 million people, who are educated, massively, in hatred towards the Jew.

 

In the crossroads of these defeats, is Israel. Orphan of a reasonable left, orphan of serious journalism, orphan of a decent UN, and orphan of a tolerant Islam, Israel suffers the paradigm of the 21st Century: the lack of a solid commitment with the values of liberty. Nothing seems strange. Jewish culture represents, as no other does, the metaphor of a concept of civilization which suffers today attacks on all flanks. You are the thermometer of the world’s health. Whenever the World has had totalitarian fever, you have suffered. In the Spanish Middle Ages, in Christian persecutions, in Russian pogroms, in European Fascism, in Islamic fundamentalism. Always, the first enemy of totalitarianism has been the Jew. And, in these times of energy dependency and social uncertainty, Israel embodies, in its own flesh, the eternal Jew.

 

A pariah nation among nations, for a pariah people among peoples. That is why the antisemitism of the 21st Century has dressed itself with the efficient disguise of anti-Israelism, or its synonym, anti-Zionism. All criticism against Israel is antisemitism? NO. But all present-day antisemitism has turned into prejudice and the demonization of the Jewsih State. New clothes for an old hatred.

 

Benjamin Franklin said: “ Where liberty is, there is my country.” And Albert Einstein added: “The World is a dangerous place. Not because of the people who are evil; but because of the people who don’t do anything about it”. This is the double commitment, here and now; never remain inactive in front of evil in action and defend the countries of liberty.

 

Pilar Rahola is a Spanish-Catalan journalist, writer, and former politician and MP. Her areas of interest include women's rights, international human rights, and animal rights. In recent years she has spoken out about what she considers to be the hypocrisy of left wing politicians with regards to Israel and Zionism. In 2013 the Keren Kayemet planted a forest with 2,500 trees in her honor in Yatir, in the Negev.

Posted in Uncategorized

SYRIAN CRISIS: TO STRIKE OR NOT TO STRIKE – OBAMA STILL UNDECIDED, UN DEADLOCKED, MOSCOW IN A MUDDLE, AS IRAN, SYRIA, HIZBALLAH THREATEN ISRAEL

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail:  ber@isranet.org

 

 

 Download a pdf version of today's Daily Briefing.

 

Contents:

 

America’s Impending Defeat in Syria: Barry Rubin, PJ Media, Aug. 27, 2013—It’s really pretty simple. The American people understandably don’t want to go to war with Syria — not to mention with Syria’s patron, Iran — and especially not for the goal of putting the Muslim Brotherhood and murderous Islamists into power there.

 

Syria Resolution Dies at U.N., and British Lawmakers Balk: Paul Richter and Henry Chu, LA Times, Aug. 28, 2013—The Obama administration's move to punish Syria's government for allegedly using chemical weapons in a deadly attack last week appeared to suffer a setback Wednesday when the U.S. failed to get United Nations approval for use of force and British support was thrown into question.

 

Moscow Muddle: Editorial, The Daily Star, August 29, 2013—According to Vladimir Putin, the world faces a “terrible precedent” and a development that could “shake the entire foundations of the international system,” should it come to pass.

Putin was not speaking about an impending military strike against the Syrian regime, but rather the possibility – back in 2000 – that countries would dare to support the independence of the Kosovo region. Needless to say, the international order did not collapse.

 

Threatening Israel: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Aug.28, 2013—“If Damascus is attacked, Tel Aviv will burn,” a Syrian higher-up bristled this week. Israel, in light of such statements, cannot regard the escalating situation up north with the equanimity of a detached observer. There can be no passivity when a coterie of evil powers hurls deadly threats at Israel in the context of a struggle in which it is uninvolved.

 

What will the Syria Strikes Accomplish?: Max Boot, Commentary, Aug. 28, 2013—Yesterday I wrote about President Obama’s three options on Syria–light bombing designed to “send a message,” medium bombing combined with Special Operations raids to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, and heavy, sustained bombing in combination with ground action by rebel forces to topple Bashar Assad.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

Israeli Compassion Amidst Syrian Atrocities: Dave Sharma, Times of Israel, Aug. 28, 2013

Obama: I Have not yet Made Decision on Syria Strike: Michael Wilner, Maya Schwayder, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 29, 2013

Hezbollah Will Attack Israel if Strike Aims to Topple Assad: Hussein Dakroub, The Daily Star, Aug. 28, 2013

If  Bombs Hit Damascus, Israel Looks to Tehran: David Makovsky, Tablet Magazine, Aug. 28, 2013

Obama is Talking America into a War: George F. Will, National Post, Aug. 29, 2013

 

 

AMERICA’S IMPENDING DEFEAT IN SYRIA

Barry Rubin

PJ Media, Aug. 27, 2013

 

It’s really pretty simple. The American people understandably don’t want to go to war with Syria — not to mention with Syria’s patron, Iran — and especially not for the goal of putting the Muslim Brotherhood and murderous Islamists into power there. Going to war is a serious matter, to say the least. There’s no assurance how long it will take, how many lives it will cost, and what turns it may take. And the Middle East has just had several examples of these wars.

 

Iraq and Afghanistan cost a lot of money and lives as they extended for a much longer time than had been expected. In addition, they derailed the Bush administration’s electoral fortunes and domestic programs. With the main emphasis of the Obama administration being a fundamental transformation of America, such distractions are not desired.

 

There is one other important consideration: the Obama administration does not accept the traditional diplomatic and great power strategies. It believes that it can reconcile with Islamist states, it does not comprehend deterrents, it does not keep faith with allies, and it does not believe in credibility, the belief that only power exerted can convince a foe of seriousness. Of course, that wouldn’t rule out a one-time targeted attack. But even if that were to be done, is America going to fight a full-scale war on the ground with allies–including al-Qaeda –which will never be satisfied and will always be eager to stab them in the back?

 

The administration has trapped itself with two problems: the rebels who are being supported in Syria are extreme radicals who may set off bloodbaths and regional instability if they win; and a challenge has been given to the very reckless forces of Iran, Syria, and Hizballah. When the United States threatens these three players, the response is always: “Make my day!”

 

So this is the situation, and the Obama administration is bluffing. It does not want to exert force and probably won’t. Iran and Syria would be quite willing to fight a war, but the United States–people and government–do not have the will to do so.

 

What is the best option for the Obama administration? To try to negotiate — as unlikely as it is — a deal in which some kind of interim or coalition arrangement would be arranged with Russia and Iran to make a transition from the current regime. Mainly, this means a stalling tactic. This could work, though, if the regime does not actually win the war. Aid to rebels and some gimmicks perhaps, but no decisive action. There is, however, still a problem — the two Syrian sides want to wipe each other out.

 

Why should the Russians and Iranians make a deal if they have a winning hand? No diplomatic arrangement is possible. In fact, the diplomatic option is fictional. To put it flatly, there is no alternative. It is not inconceivable that the White House would consider easing sanctions on the Iranian nuclear program to have a chance in Syria. What is likely then is stalling, with the probability that the civil war will settle into stagnation for several years and thus a de facto partition of Syria.

 

The United States simply can’t win given what it is willing to do. And in a great power standoff, that’s a very dangerous situation. Remember, though: Iran cannot be said to have won as long as the civil war is continuing. The administration can simply depend on denial, which should be sufficient for domestic purposes. Finally, ask yourself one question: will the United States under Obama dare a confrontation with Iran, Syria, and Russia to keep up American credibility, deterrence, and the confidence of allies who it is already opposing on Egypt? Of course not. This is a president who could barely decide to kill Osama bin Laden.

 

Contents

SYRIA RESOLUTION DIES AT U.N., AND BRITISH LAWMAKERS BALK

Paul Richter and Henry Chu

LA Times, Aug. 28, 2013

 

The Obama administration's move to punish Syria's government for allegedly using chemical weapons in a deadly attack last week appeared to suffer a setback Wednesday when the U.S. failed to get United Nations approval for use of force and British support was thrown into question. The collapse of diplomatic efforts aimed at securing a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Syria was expected. The British impediment was not.

 

The developments came as President Obama warned in a TV interview that chemical weapons "that can have devastating effects could be directed at us" and made clear he is considering limited military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces. "I have no interest in any kind of open-ended conflict in Syria," Obama said on "PBS NewsHour." "But we do have to make sure that when countries break international norms on weapons like chemical weapons that could threaten us, that they are held accountable."

 

How soon such strikes might occur remained unclear after British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has repeatedly called for strong action on Syria, was unable to muster enough support from lawmakers to push ahead with a vote to approve military intervention. Members of Parliament from both his Conservative Party and the opposition Labor Party insisted that a vote be delayed until U.N. chemical experts now in Syria issue a report.

 

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the team needed four days to complete its work. "It is essential to establish the facts," he said. "The team needs time to do its job." On Wednesday, the team visited the eastern Ghouta region northeast of Damascus, the zone that apparently was hit hardest by poison gas before dawn on Aug. 21. Assad's government is suspected of carrying out the attack, which killed hundreds….

 

In London, Parliament will consider a weaker-than-expected motion Thursday that deplores the use of chemical weapons and says that a humanitarian response might require "military action that is legal, proportionate and focused on saving lives by preventing and deterring further use of Syria's chemical weapons." It will also say that "every effort" should be made to win a U.N. blessing for any military response. Russia, which is Assad's primary international supporter, made it clear Wednesday that it would not support any Security Council move to censure Syria or sanction military action.

 

At the U.N., in a meeting of the five permanent members of the Security Council, British representatives had proposed a resolution condemning Syria's use of banned chemical agents and called for "all necessary measures" to respond to it. But Russia killed the proposal and foreclosed any further discussion, diplomats said. Harf said U.S. officials would consult other countries about possible military action as well as other options, and "will take appropriate actions to respond in the days ahead."

 

The White House got a vote of support from the 28-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the key Western military alliance. After a meeting of the group's policymaking arm, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Brussels that the suspected use of poison gas "cannot go unanswered. Those responsible must be held accountable." His statement didn't commit NATO to joining a military operation but gave its blessing if one is launched, said Jorge Benitez, an analyst with the Atlantic Council of the United States and editor of the NATOsource blog. "They're saying, 'We support what you're going to do.' "

 

NATO members signalled fewer misgivings than before other recent U.S.-led interventions. Germany and Poland, which did not support the NATO-led air campaign against Moammar Kadafi's forces in Libya in 2011, supported the NATO statement on Syria, for example. The United States appears likely to have support from France, Britain, Turkey and at least four Persian Gulf states. The Arab League voted Tuesday to condemn Syria's apparent poison gas use but stopped short of supporting military action.

 

The U.N. special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, told reporters in Geneva that an armed response without U.N. approval would be illegal under international law. He also said the Obama administration had not shared its evidence on the Assad government's alleged role in the attack. "We will be very, very, very interested to hear from them what this evidence they have is," Brahimi said. U.S. officials are expected to release an intelligence report as early as Thursday that they believe shows Syrian commanders ordered the use of chemical weapons.

 

On Capitol Hill, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said the White House's outreach to Congress "has, to date, not reached the level of substantive consultation." His office sent the administration a list of questions about potential U.S. entanglement in Syria, including whether Congress would be asked to appropriate more money should a military operation drag on. Boehner urged Obama to "personally make the case to the American people and Congress for how potential military action will secure American national security interests, preserve America's credibility, deter the future use of chemical weapons and, critically, be a part of our broader policy and strategy." Assad's government has denied responsibility for the attack, blaming rebels who have fought to oust him from power since early 2011.

 

Contents

MOSCOW MUDDLE

Editorial

The Daily Star, August 29, 2013

 

According to Vladimir Putin, the world faces a “terrible precedent” and a development that could “shake the entire foundations of the international system,” should it come to pass. Putin was not speaking about an impending military strike against the Syrian regime, but rather the possibility – back in 2000 – that countries would dare to support the independence of the Kosovo region. Needless to say, the international order did not collapse. In the post-Soviet era, Moscow has sought to protect allies that it inherited from the USSR, such as Yugoslavia (in the form of Serbia), Iraq and Libya. Now it’s Syria’s turn, and Russian officials are busy sending out confusing signals in a policy that appears to be a case of hoping for the best.

 

Russia has signalled that it will veto any resolution at the United Nations Security Council authorizing punishment of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. However, Russian officials have also made it clear that their country doesn’t intend to act militarily if the West launches a military strike at Syrian regime targets.

 

Meanwhile, the Russians have taken the regime’s side on the issue of last week’s chemical weapons strikes. Moscow insisted that the attacks were the work of anti-government rebels, who apparently only have the technical ability to launch such projectiles into areas under their control, but not in the direction of military airports under the control of the regime. Russia’s stance of nearly unconditional support for Assad isn’t surprising, but the lack of forward thinking and leadership continue to puzzle some people.

 

Is Russia hugely confident that Assad’s forces will defeat the rebels and oversee a stable Syria in the wake of this victory? Moscow has begun evacuating Russian nationals, which doesn’t help its standing with Syrians who support the regime, after it alienated those Syrians who support the opposition. In the end, Russian officials are fond of showing how keen they are to protect their national interests, but their track record has been one of stubbornly hanging on, in the face of inevitable change.

 

For more than two years, Russia never managed to convince its Syrian ally that it should engage in meaningful change. Instead, it followed the regime mindset of reducing everything to a foreign-led conspiracy. Throughout all of the horrific carnage in Syria, Russia has declined to push forcefully in the direction of a political settlement, and is now faced with the prospect of international military action against its ally. And now, as Syrian officials make fiery statements of defiance, Russia is again following instead of leading, telling the world that it favors a diplomatic solution after doing nothing to see such a scenario come to pass.

Contents

 

 

THREATENING ISRAEL

Editorial

Jerusalem Post, Aug.28, 2013

 

“If Damascus is attacked, Tel Aviv will burn,” a Syrian higher-up bristled this week. Israel, in light of such statements, cannot regard the escalating situation up north with the equanimity of a detached observer. There can be no passivity when a coterie of evil powers hurls deadly threats at Israel in the context of a struggle in which it is uninvolved. In a fairer existence, this alone ought to have unsettled the international community. But it is futile to expect fair-mindedness where Israel is concerned.

 

The anti-Israel bluster from Damascus, Tehran and Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon appear to have disturbed none of the foreign statesmen or opinion-molders, whose alacrity to condemn Israel for any perceived transgression is nothing short of remarkable. Moreover, the veiled hints from Moscow about dire repercussions for the entire region in the event of an American attack on the Assad regime might imply warnings of punishment for Israel.

 

All the while, Israeli commentators strive to outdo each other with educated guesses about whether we are vulnerable, whether it would serve Bashar Assad’s interests to fire at us, whether we should retaliate and how. Much of the babble is superfluous. Regardless of what eventually happens, all Israelis should be deeply troubled by the profound indifference abroad to our lot – blameless as we are in the Syrian strife. The very fact that a neighboring state could be presumed to be held to ransom for events entirely outside control should shock world opinion. But it does not.

 

Israelis might be forgiven for suspecting the reaction would be radically different had any other country been similarly threatened for no fault of its own. Sadly we must come to terms with the likelihood that different criteria are applied to the Jewish state. This is disconcertingly reminiscent of our traumatic experience during the First Gulf War. Events then were also played out beyond the Israeli context. Nonetheless, Israel suffered repeated heavy missile attacks, including 40 Scud hits. The Iraqi warheads were aimed directly and unmistakably at civilian population centers.

 

Saddam Hussein’s raison d’être was that by targeting Israel he was hurting the US. In the view of all too many Middle Eastern despots and potentates, Israel is nothing but an American underling. At the time there was no audible international indignation. The only American response was to advocate Israeli restraint. Indeed Israel refrained from retaliating, thereby compromising its deterrence and underscoring its vulnerabilities for the sake of American interests. But there was no gratitude for Israel’s sacrifices.

 

Washington only pressured Israel for territorial concessions, never counted Saddam’s anti-Israel aggression among his sins and treated Israel largely as a mistress whose favors are required but must never be publicly acknowledged. The Obama administration might well want Israel to reprise this role. It is precisely this behavior that Israel must under no circumstances repeat. This time Israel has made it clear – through pronouncements by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz – that this country and its people will not be pawns in the wars that others wage.

 

Notice has been duly served to friend and foe alike and to all shades in between that Israel will not again consent to being a whipping boy. If anything can daunt the Shi’ite axis that buttresses Assad, along with his more distant supporters in Russia and China, it is such an unequivocal message from Israel. Some Assad-watchers in Israel maintain that he understands quite well that the Israel of 2013 is not the Israel of 1990. They note that it would make no sense for him to strike out against Israel because he knows that vigorous Israeli retribution would seal his fate.

 

The experts are right – in rational terms. We, however, heard precisely such learned estimations immediately before the first American invasion of Iraq, and they, too, sounded eminently reasonable… to us. The problem is that this region does not operate according to our logic.

Contents

 

 

WHAT WILL THE SYRIA STRIKES ACCOMPLISH?

Max Boot

Commentary, Aug. 28, 2013

 

Yesterday I wrote about President Obama’s three options on Syria–light bombing designed to “send a message,” medium bombing combined with Special Operations raids to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, and heavy, sustained bombing in combination with ground action by rebel forces to topple Bashar Assad. All of the news coverage since yesterday morning makes clear that–unless the administration is engaging in strategic deception on a gigantic scale–only the lightest of light options is likely to be implemented.

 

News accounts suggest that the likeliest scenario is a few days of strikes employing cruise missiles fired from warships in the Mediterranean safely out of the range of Syrian retaliation. Their target list would not include the actual depots where chemical weapons are stored but “would instead be aimed at military units that have carried out chemical attacks, the headquarters overseeing the effort and the rockets and artillery that have launched the attacks.”

 

The amount of damage that will be done, if only Tomahawk cruise missiles are used, will be strictly limited since they carry relatively small warheads of 260-370 pounds, compared with 500-pound, 1,000-pound, 2,000-pound, and even 15,000-pound bombs (the BLU-82 “Daisy Cutter”) that can be carried by aircraft. The use of airdropped munitions can make it possible to penetrate bunkers and incinerate chemical weapons stockpiles without risking the dispersion of the deadly weapons. And even if aircraft were to be employed, they would have to bomb for considerable periods to achieve any strategic effects–witness the 78 days of bombing of Kosovo in 1999 or the even longer bombing of Libya in 2011.

 

A few days of attacks with cruise missiles is a pinprick strike reminiscent of Bill Clinton’s attacks on al-Qaeda and Iraq in 1998. What did those strikes achieve? Precisely nothing beyond blowing up a poor pharmaceutical plant in Sudan wrongly suspected of manufacturing, ironically, chemical weapons. Actually, worse than nothing: those strikes, which Osama bin Laden survived easily, convinced him that the U.S. was a “weak horse” that could be defied with impunity.

 

Similar strikes would likely have a similar effect in Syria: It would convince Bashar Assad, and a lot of other people in the region, that he successfully defied the superpower. It could have, in other words, the effect of enhancing Assad’s aura of power–precisely the opposite of what Obama intends.

 

The U.S. goal in Syria, as enunciated by no less than the president himself, is to topple Assad and to end the suffering created by the Syrian civil war. That will not be achieved with cruise missiles. It will require months of bombing, combined with the arming, training, and coordination of rebel forces. Even a lesser goal of destroying Assad’s chemical weapons stockpiles–a reasonable objective given the strategic threat posed by WMD–would require weeks of bombing combined with commando raids. A few days of cruise missile strikes, by contrast, will only make the U.S. appear to be a weak, posturing giant.

 

On Topic

 

Israeli Compassion Amidst Syrian Atrocities: Dave Sharma, Times of Israel, Aug. 28, 2013—Some 72 Syrian patients have been admitted to Ziv Medical Center in Safed in northern Israel since February. If they had remained in Syria, most would have died or been left permanently incapacitated.

 

Obama: I Have not yet Made Decision on Syria Strike: Michael Wilner, Maya Schwayder, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 29, 2013

US President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he had not yet made a decision on intervention in Syria, acknowledging that military engagement in the country would not stop the killing of innocent civilians, but stressing the need to deter the use of chemical weapons.

 

Hezbollah Will Attack Israel if Strike Aims to Topple Assad: Hussein Dakroub, The Daily Star, Aug. 28, 2013—A massive military strike by the United States and its Western allies on Syria aimed at changing the balance of power in the country will likely trigger a swift intervention by Hezbollah, political analysts and sources close to the group said Tuesday.

 

If  Bombs Hit Damascus, Israel Looks to Tehran: David Makovsky, Tablet Magazine, Aug. 28, 2013—Amid the killing in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt—three of Israel’s four borders—one senior security official recently likened Israel to a “coffee shop in the middle of a slaughterhouse.” The US has widely advertised its pending missile strikes on Syria.

 

Obama is Talking America into a War: George F. Will, National Post, Aug. 29, 2013—Barack Obama’s foreign policy dream — cordial relations with a Middle East tranquilized by “smart diplomacy” — is in a death grapple with reality. His rhetorical writhings illustrate the perils of loquacity. He has a glutton’s rather than a gourmet’s appetite for his own rhetorical cuisine, and has talked America to the precipice of a fourth military intervention in the crescent that extends from Libya to Afghanistan.

 

 

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Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail:  ber@isranet.org

 

 

 Download a pdf version of today's Daily Briefing

 

Contents:  Weekly Quotes |  Short Takes On Topic Links

 

“Even if we speak of other neighboring countries – the dramatic conflict in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt – the fact remains that the Israeli-Palestinian issue is one of the issues, perhaps the central one, for the region.” — Laurent Fabius, French Foreign Minister, in Ramallah, after meting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday [Aug. 24]
   “I say that because for too long people believed that the root cause of this instability in the Middle East was the Palestinian-Israeli problem. It is not the root cause; it’s one of its results. If we have peace with the Palestinians, the centrifuges will not stop spinning in Iran, the turmoil will not stop in Syria, the instability in North Africa will not cease, the attacks on the West will not cease.” — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responding to comments made by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 26, 2013)

 

“Those who are here understand why the vision of two states is unrealistic and will ever happen. Those who think they can force us to build only within the Auschwitz borders are wrong. I suggest that one should look for those big criminals against humanity somewhere else, They won’t be found here, they are elsewhere in the Middle East.”— Israel’s Housing and Construction Minister, Uri Ariel, on Sunday evening as he helped dedicate two new neighborhoods of 160 homes in the West Bank settlement of Kedumim. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 26, 2013)
 

“I discovered from the Algerian Al-Watan newspaper, that al-Sisi is of Jewish origin. His mother is called Mulaika Titani, and her brother was a member of the Jewish Haganah organization. Thus, we see that this man, by any standard, is implementing a Zionist plot to divide Egypt… Whoever reads The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the writings of [the Jews], including those who were writing in the US, realizes that this Zionist plot was premeditated.” —Gamal Nasser, former media secretary to the General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, quoted by Sarah Honig in an opinion piece in Jerusalem Report. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 23, 2013)

 

"If the US goes in and attacks another country without a UN mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it. [The] US needs to "try to work within an international framework to do everything we can to see Assad ousted." — President Barak Obama, in an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo. (Jerusalem Post,Aug. 23, 2013)

 

“If there’s been any use of nerve gas it’s the rebels that used it. If there has been a use of chemical weapons it was Al-Qaeda that used the chemical weapons – who gave al-Qaeda the chemical weapons? Here’s my theory, Israel gave them the chemical weapons.” — George Galloway, pro-Iranian British MP, in a speech on Friday [Aug. 23], which was posted on a video by the Iranian government’s Press TV. (Jewish Press, Aug. 25, 2013)

“They will be there, Allah's soldiers. They will visit us, the Islamic fanatics. We, the lost ones of the West, need their blessing. Upon invitation from the Collectif Indépendence, sponsored by the charitable organization HCI (Human Concern International), they will come from Europe to save us from hell. They want to cleanse us of our sacrileges. They want to show us the right path, we the perverts, the debauched, the libertines, the egotists, the impious, the miscreants. They will preach on September 7th and 8th [2013] at the Palais des congrès in Montreal. They will preach the revealed Word, denouncing the Crusades and blaming our women. And they will do so in two languages, Arabic and French. Yes, they'll use the language of l'Homme rapaillé to try and reach the lost children of Quebec. They will offer us the recipe for a ticket to paradise.” — Karim Akouche, Quebec author and native of Kabilya, North Africa, in an opinion piece on Huffington Post. (Huffington Post, Aug. 26, 2013)

 

“In his heart of hearts Obama seems to yearn for a utopian synthesis of pious Islam with Jeffersonian democracy. He’d like to show all of Islam’s detractors that the Muslim Brotherhood and associated offshoots (like those in Turkey, Gaza or even Iran) can conduct their affairs with gentleness, tolerance and justice for all. That was the gist of the paean of praise for Islam that he delivered at Cairo University in 2009 and which he later followed up in Turkey. It was no accident that then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak absented himself from the milestone Cairo address. With his keen political antennae, pro-American Mubarak could feel the ill-winds blowing from Obama’s direction. He wasn’t wrong. Obama’s cold shoulder facilitated and expedited Mubarak’s ouster. Obama kick-started the disastrous Arab Spring. And now, say the Muslim Brotherhood’s rivals, Obama continues to evince sympathy for the deposed Mohamed Morsi and his theocracy-boosting supporters. So how do the pro-military agitators propose to punish Obama? By hitting Israel, of course.”  — Sarah Honig, in an opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 23, 2013)

 

“We cannot in the 21st century allow the idea that chemical weapons can be used with impunity, that people can be killed in this way and that there are no consequences for it.” — British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who has been leading the charge among Western countries to respond forcefully to the use of chemical weapons by Syria. (The Globe and Mail, Aug. 27, 2013)

 

“We are at the beginning of the storm.” — Ashraf Rifi, former chief of Lebanon’s police forces who lives near the scene of a powerful bomb that killed 42 people near two Sunni mosques in the Lebanese port city of Tripoli on Friday [Aug. 23]. (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 24, 2013)

 

“The use of force without the approval of the United Nations Security Council is a very grave violation of international law. If anyone thinks that bombing and destroying the Syrian military infrastructure, and leaving the battlefield for the opponents of the regime to win, would end everything – that is an illusion.” — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, commenting on the West’s proposed plans to use force against the Syrian regime for its use of chemical weapons against its civilian population. (The Globe and Mail, Aug. 27, 2013)

 

“Now, Hamas is an orphan. Hamas was dreaming and going up with its dreams that the Islamists were going to take over in all the capitals. Those dreams have been dashed.” — Akram Atallah, a political analyst and columnist, referring to the fact that the movement sprang from Egypt’s Brotherhood a quarter century ago. (Dialog Ireland, Aug. 24, 2013)

 

“My reading of Saturday’s Folio (Crisis in Syria – Aug. 24) ground to a halt when I came to the short history of chemical weapons. The threat of poison gas never materialized during the Second World War? I cannot fathom the logic of excluding mention Zyklon B as a weapon of mass destruction.” — Julie Hughes, from Ottawa, in a letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail. (The Globe and Mail, Aug. 27, 2013)

 

“That Friday's verdict in the Hasan case was preordained by the defendant's admission of the murders he committed in no way diminishes the value of the jury's finding of guilt. It was a clear statement of fact. Nidal Hasan gunned down 13 people in 2009 on the Fort Hood army base in Texas, a national debate broke out over whether political correctness in the military had permitted Hasan to advance his career despite clear evidence of Islamist radicalization. At issue was whether the Army, in deference to Muslim sensitivities, had failed to act on warning signs dating to 2003 that included Hasan's known email exchanges with the late Anwar al-Awlaki, the former Virginia-based cleric who fled to Yemen and proceeded to tutor terrorist killers. Hasan commenced his killing spree by shouting "Allahu Akbar"—God is great. A senior Army officer nonetheless appeared on the morning talk shows to say, "This terrible event would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty." Earlier in 2009, the Obama Administration quietly retired the phrase "war on terror," instead preferring "overseas contingency operation." On Friday the jury swept away the political hemming and hawing and said simply that Hasan was guilty of 13 acts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. The Hasan case carried so much emotion precisely because the connection between the awful murders and the murderer's politically inspired motives remained so clear. Hasan's Army colleagues were in his mind enemies of Islam, so he slaughtered them. If there is a time and place for capital punishment, it is for such acts and motives as Hasan's.” — editorial in the Wall Street Journal. (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 25, 2013)

 

“T’was the Arab Spring and we all clapped hands, and rooted for freedom in their hapless lands. Gaddafi and Mubarak were gone at last, no point in dwelling on the evil past. But beneath the blue Arabian sky, no birds of freedom did we spy. ‘Tis the Arab spring and the serfs have ris, and we wonder where the democrats is. They said the dems were close at hand, but they were just a mirage in the desert sand.” — William Bedford, in a letter to the editor in the National Post. (National Post, Aug. 27, 2013)

 

“If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a UN mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it – do we have the coalition to make it work?  Those are considerations that we have to take into account.” — U.S. President Barak Obama, hedging his bets on the possibility of conducting strikes against Syria for its use of chemical weapons. (Associated Press, Aug. 24, 2013)

 

“Lebanon has officially entered the regional war which has been raging in Syria and Iraq. There are serious fears that the country has entered a vicious cycle of tit-for-tat explosions and car bombs. A dynamic of violence and reprisals, once set in, is hard to reverse. Until the Syrian conflict reaches its conclusion, instability and periodic violence will be the order of the day in Lebanon” — Randa Slim, a scholar at the Washington-based Middle East Institute. (The Globe and Mail, Aug. 24, 2013)
 

“Don’t talk behind my back, don’t play with my honor. Here is the head of the man who played with my honor.” — Nevin Yildirim, a 26-year-old Turkish mother of two, to the men sitting in the coffee house on the [south-west Turkish village] square. Ms. Yildirim is awaiting trial after beheading a man who she says raped her repeatedly for months and is the father of her unborn child. "I thought of reporting him to military police and to the district attorney, but this was going to mark me as a scorned woman," Yildirim said at her preliminary hearing. "Since I was going to get a bad reputation I decided to clean my honor and acted on killing him. I thought of suicide a lot but couldn't do it. Now no one can call my children bastards.  I cleaned my honor. Everyone will call them the children of the woman who cleaned her honor." (CNN, Aug. 28, 2013)

 

"Donors will not be ready to keep funding Palestinian state-building much longer if we are not seeing a political horizon. I think this is important for the Palestinians to know, because if anyone there thought they could sort of just fall back to the comfort of an internationally subsidized state-building endeavor, that may be wrong," he said. "And I think that it is important for some people on the Israeli side…to know that this cannot continue forever." —Norway's Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide, in an interview with the Jerusalem Post Tuesday. Norway heads the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, the international donors group. The Norwegian foreign minister stressed that the release of 26 Palestinian terrorists was a "very important and very difficult concession which I know was hard to make. I also think that the Palestinians must now be ready to make some concessions, first and foremost on contributing a sense of security for the people of Israel."  (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 28, 2013)

 

Contents

 

 

NETANYAHU HAVING DOUBTS OVER PEACE NEGOTIATOR: REPORT(Jerusalem) Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly losing trust in the performance of Tzipi Livni, Israel’s chief negotiator, in peace talks with the Palestinians, amid suggestions that she is offering too many concessions. Israel’s prime minister is said to be unhappy that Livni has “strayed from the official line” during the first two sessions of the recently revived talks. Netanyahu is reported to be upset that Livni offered to compromise on Jerusalem, which both Israel and the Palestinians claim as their capital. She has also spoken of withdrawing from the West Bank, where around 350,000 Israeli settlers live, and dismantling settlements. While such concessions are widely seen as essential to any peace agreement, the prime minister is understood to oppose putting them on the table before it is known what the Palestinians will give in return. (London Daily Telegraph, Aug. 27, 2013)

 

TWIN BLASTS KILL MORE THAN 40 IN LEBANON'S TRIPOLI(Tripoli) Twin explosions hit two mosques in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli on Friday, killing at least 42 people and wounding about 500 hundred, intensifying the sectarian strife that has spilled over from the civil war in neighboring Syria. The apparently coordinated blasts – the biggest and deadliest in Tripoli since the end of Lebanon's own civil war – struck as locals were finishing Friday prayers in the largely Sunni Muslim city.  The explosions in Tripoli, 70 km (43 miles) from Beirut came a week after a huge car bomb killed at least 24 people in a part of the capital that is controlled by the Shi'ite Muslim movement Hezbollah. A recent resurgence of sectarian violence in Lebanon has been stoked by the conflagration in Syria, where President Bashar Assad is fighting a largely Sunni-led rebellion. Both Hezbollah and radical Sunni groups in Lebanon have sent fighters over the border to support opposing sides in Syria. (The Globe and Mail,  Aug. 23, 2013)

 

AL-QAIDA VOWS TO STRIKE AT HEZBOLLAH FOR LEBANON BOMBINGS (Tunisia) Al-Qaida's North African branch blamed Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim militant group Hezbollah for twin bombs that hit the northern city of Tripoli on Friday and threatened retribution, a US-based intelligence monitoring website reported on Saturday. Although al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, is not operational in Lebanon, its statement shows a growing regional hatred against Hezbollah by radical Sunni Muslim groups and a wider, deepening sectarian divide in the Middle East. AQIM said in tweets it knew "with certainty" that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah was responsible for the attack that killed more than 42 people in Tripoli. "That vile party… should know that it will meet retribution soon," AQIM said, according to the SITE monitoring service. (Reuters, Aug 24, 2013)

 

MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD MEMO BLESSES EGYPTIAN CHURCH BURNINGS—(Cairo) A memo posted on the Facebook page of a local office of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism shows a clear call to incitement against Egypt's Coptic Christian population, giving its blessing to the burning of churches. Over 40 Coptic churches have been burned by Muslim Brotherhood supporters since the Egyptian police cleared demonstrators protesting the overthrow of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Tuesday. Brotherhood supporters also reportedly blocked the road between Cairo and Aswan in southern Egypt looking for Copts, taking seven Copts hostage Thursday. They were later released after a ransom of 150,000 Egyptian pounds, roughly $21,500, was paid. (Investigative Project on Terrorism, Aug. 19, 2013)

\

LARGE ARMS SHIPMENT REACHES SYRIAN REBELS: OPPOSITION — (Amman) Gulf-based supporters have sent a 400-ton shipment of arms to Syria's outgunned rebels, one of the biggest to reach them in their two-year-old uprising, opposition sources said on Sunday. The consignment – mostly ammunition for shoulder-fired weapons and anti-aircraft machine guns – came into northern Syria via the Turkish province of Hatay in the past 24 hours, and was already being handed out, the sources added. One rebel officer told Reuters the flow of arms bound for rebels had increased since opposition groups accused the government of launching deadly chemical weapons attacks in Damascus on Wednesday. "Twenty trailers crossed from Turkey and are being distributed to arms depots for several brigades across the north," said rebel official Mohammad Salam, who told Reuters he saw the weapons come over the border. (Reuters, Aug, 25, 2013)

 

ISRAEL'S EFFORTS TO NORMALIZE RELATIONS WITH TURKEY FALTER(Jerusalem)    Israeli government officials have signaled that Israel's efforts to normalize its diplomatic relations with Turkey have failed, even after Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized for the deaths of Turkish citizens during the Marmara incident in 2010.  The two issues that caused talks between the two countries to deadlock were the amount of compensation the Turkish victims' families would be paid and the very definition of the restitution payment. Turkey insisted on calling the payments "punitive damages" and not "compensation." (Israel Hayom, Aug. 26, 2013)

 

IN EGYPT'S SINAI, RISING MILITANCY THREATENS PEACEKEEPING FORCE(Sinai) A dramatic rise in militancy and violence in the Sinai desert is increasingly threatening a peacekeeping force there that includes nearly 700 U.S. troops acting as guarantors of a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. Heavily armed locals have blockaded bases and convoys of the Multinational Force and Observers, and, in a few instances, launched attacks against the peacekeepers, raising concerns about the long-term stability of their mission. The peacekeeping force, which includes American, Colombian, Fijian and Uruguayan troops, operates out of two main bases and a network of 30 small outposts. (Washington Post Aug. 27, 2013)

EGYPT POLICE ARREST BROTHERHOOD MEMBERS' RELATIVES (Cairo) Egyptian authorities detained more than 60 people associated with the Muslim Brotherhood in less than 24 hours, including relatives of the group's leaders, officials said Wednesday. The crackdown on the group, from which ousted President Mohammed Morsi hails, started shortly after the July 3 coup. It intensified this month after security forces cleared out two of the group's sit-ins, killing hundreds and sparking unrest that killed more than 1,000 people in a few days. The Interior Ministry says more than 100 policemen and soldiers have also been killed since mid-August. The local media, in close step with the new leadership after Morsi, repeatedly describe the actions of the Brotherhood and its supporters as acts of terrorism. Many have been charged with inciting violence. Security forces have arrested much the Brotherhood's senior and midlevel leadership, while others remain in hiding. (ABC News, Aug. 28, 2013)

WHERE MUSLIMS CAN SPEAK FREELY IN THE MIDDLE EAST (Tel Aviv) Arab journalists and columnists in Israel have been expressing their views about the Egyptian crisis without fear, while their colleagues in Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority are afraid to speak their mind. Israel, for example, is one of the few countries in the Middle East where Muslims are permitted to demonstrate in favor of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood organization. This is not because Israel supports Morsi or the Muslim Brotherhood; it is because the Muslim protesters know that in a democratic country like Israel they can hold peaceful demonstrations and express their views without having to worry about being targeted by the authorities. (Gatestone Institute, aug. 26, 2013)

 

THE PALESTINIANS DON'T WANT TO BE ALONE WITH ISRAEL (Tel Aviv) Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, has publicly complained about PA negotiators having to actually talk one on one with their Israeli counterparts: "The Americans from the beginning were supposed to be there. I don't see why the Israelis don't want the Americans there, as witnesses….These are not two-way negotiations." The Palestinian negotiators fear being trapped in a room with the people they are supposed to be crafting a deal with. That is because the last thing they want is to actually reach an agreement they'd have to justify to a Palestinian people that is still not ready to accept a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn. (Commentary, Aug. 22, 2013)

 

ISRAEL HELPING THE BEDOUIN MOVE INTO THE 21ST CENTURY (Yeruham) Negev Bedouin leader Sheikh Uda Zanoon has reached agreement with the State of Israel to establish a modern Bedouin settlement for his tribe near the Israeli town of Yeruham. The settlement will be planned with the full participation of the 300 families of the Uda Zanoon tribe, who today are without basic infrastructure, such as electricity, running water and roads. The Israeli government has decided to allocate $2.6 billion to resolve land disputes and promote economic development within the Bedouin sector. The plan includes building thousands of new housing units, expanding and developing existing settlements and establishing new Bedouin settlements. The guiding principle is to push for a dramatic improvement in Bedouin quality of life without harming tradition. (i24 News, Aug. 21, 2013)

 

ISRAELI SCIENTIFIC BREAKTHROUGH COULD EASE DROUGHTS AND FAMINES (Tiberius) A team of Israeli scientists has developed a new technology that may enable crops to weather droughts worldwide. The team, led by Professor Shimon Gepstein, Chancellor of Kinneret College, genetically engineered a plant that can withstand droughts by "freezing itself" after not receiving water for a certain period of time. The plant then "returns to life" after the water supply is renewed, and this occurs without any damage to the plant's physical structure. Moreover, the engineered plants flourished with only a third of the water other plants required. International firms have expressed interest in the technology. (Algemeiner, Aug 19, 2013)

 

END OF ETHIOPIAN ALIYA AS FINAL FLIGHT SET TO LAND IN ISRAEL(Ben Gurion Airport) The Jewish Agency is to bring the last of Ethiopia’s Jews to Israel on Wednesday afternoon with a flight of 400 Falash Mura, bringing an end to a saga that has spanned decades and seen tens of thousands of men, women and children coming to the Jewish state. Ethiopian-Israelis are planning a protest outside of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office at the same time that a plane representing the official end of Ethiopian aliya is scheduled to land at Ben-Gurion Airport. At the protest, which is being organized by activist Avraham Neguise as well as through Facebook, members of the Ethiopian community will hold aloft images of their loved ones who will remain in Gondar following the closure of the Jewish Agency’s facilities there. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 28, 2013)

 

Top of Page

 

On Topic

Israeli Scientific Breakthrough Could Ease Droughts and Famines: Anav Silverman, Algemeiner, August 19, 2013

A team of Israeli scientists has developed a new technology that may enable crops to weather droughts worldwide, thus minimizing famine and strife.

 

Another Tack: Egypt's Polish Syndrome: Sarah Honig, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 22, 2013—Jewish culpability always was – and apparently remains – a key element in lending moral authority to any contentious cause.

 

S#!t Debaters Say About Israel and “the Jews”: Eylon Aslan-Levy, Times of Israel, Aug. 27, 2013—The Israeli Debating League is heading home from this year’s European Universities Debating Championship in Manchester. This year, over two hundred teams battled over the motion: “This House Believes that Israel Should Allow Members of the Jewish Diaspora to Vote in its Elections“.

 

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EGYPT, WHERE TIME STANDS STILL, IS A ZERO SUM GAME — AND OBAMA’S PRO-M.B. STANCE WORKED AGAINST “DEMOCRACY”

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail:  ber@isranet.org

 

 

 Download a pdf version of today's Daily Briefing.

 

Contents:

 

The Choice in Egypt: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, August 22, 2013—Egypt today is a zero-sum game. We’d have preferred there be a democratic alternative. Unfortunately, there is none. The choice is binary: the country will be ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood or by the military.

 

How Close Is the U.S. to the Muslim Brotherhood?: Magdi Khalil, Front Page Magazine, Aug. 23, 2013—There is no question that the US and the Muslim Brotherhood have been engaged in a dialogue during the course of the so-called Arab Spring, in regards to the form and structure of government in Egypt and perhaps in the Middle East as a whole.

 

Egypt is Where History Goes to Die: Daniel Greenfield, Jewish Press, August 27th, 2013—One of the biggest differences between conservatives and liberals is that while conservatives believe that history is an expression of human nature, liberals don't believe in history, they believe in historical processes.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

Mubarak's Muslim Brotherhood Prophecy: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 15, 2013

The Evolution of the Revolution: Dr. Michael Evans, Jerusalem Report, Aug. 21, 2013

The Realist Prism: Indecision on Egypt Leaves U.S. Interests at Risk: Nikolas Gvosdev, World Politics Review, Aug. 23 2013

Is Egypt the next Algeria? Unlikely: Tawfik Hamid, Jerusalem Post, Aug 26, 2013

Gulf Islamists Irked as Monarchs Back Egypt's Generals: Egypt Independent, Aug. 27, 2013

Constitutional Tweaks May Empower Mubarak-Era Politicians in Egypt: Egypt Independent, Aug. 24, 2013

 

THE CHOICE IN EGYPT

Charles Krauthammer

Washington Post, August 22, 2013

 

Egypt today is a zero-sum game. We’d have preferred there be a democratic alternative. Unfortunately, there is none. The choice is binary: the country will be ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood or by the military.

Perhaps it didn’t have to be this way. Perhaps the military should have waited three years for the intensely unpopular Mohamed Morsi to be voted out of office. But Gen.Abdel Fatah al-Sissi seems to have calculated that he didn’t have three years, that by then there would be no elections — as in Gaza, where the Palestinian wing of the Brotherhood, Hamas, elected in 2006, established a one-man-one-vote-one-time dictatorship.

 

What’s the United States to do? Any response demands two considerations: (a) moral, i.e., which outcome offers the better future for Egypt, and (b) strategic, i.e., which outcome offers the better future for U.S. interests and those of the free world.

 

As for Egypt’s future, the Brotherhood offered nothing but incompetent, intolerant, increasingly dictatorial rule. In one year, Morsi managed to squander 85 years of Brotherhood prestige garnered in opposition — a place from which one can promise the moon — by persecuting journalists and activists, granting himself the unchallenged power to rule by decree, enshrining a sectarian Islamist constitution and systematically trying to seize the instruments of state power. As if that wasn’t enough, after its overthrow the Brotherhood showed itself to be the party that, when angry, burns churches.

 

The military, brutal and bloody, is not a very appealing alternative. But it does matter what the Egyptian people think. The anti-Morsi demonstrations were the largest in recorded Egyptian history. Revolted by Morsi’s betrayal of a revolution intended as a new opening for individual dignity and democracy, the protesters explicitly demanded Morsi’s overthrow. And the vast majority seem to welcome the military repression aimed at abolishing the Islamist threat. It’s their only hope, however problematic, for an eventual democratic transition.

 

And which alternative better helps secure U.S. strategic interests? The list of those interests is long: (1) a secure Suez Canal, (2) friendly relations with the United States, (3) continued alliance with the pro-American Gulf Arabs and Jordanians, (4) retention of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, (5) cooperation with the U.S. on terrorism, which in part involves (6) isolating Brotherhood-run Gaza. Every one of which is jeopardized by Brotherhood rule.

 

What, then, should be our policy? The administration is right to deplore excessive violence and urge reconciliation. But let’s not fool ourselves into believing this is possible in any near future. Sissi crossed his Rubicon with the coup. It will either succeed or not. To advocate a middle way is to invite endless civil strife. The best outcome would be a victorious military magnanimously offering, at some later date, to reintegrate the more moderate elements of what’s left of the Brotherhood.

 

But for now, we should not be cutting off aid, civilian or military, as many in Congress are demanding. It will have no effect, buy no influence and win no friends on either side of the Egyptian divide. We should instead be urging the quick establishment of a new cabinet of technocrats, rapidly increasing its authority as the soldiers gradually return to their barracks.

 

Generals are very bad at governance. Give the reins to people who actually know something. And charge them with reviving the economy and preparing the foundations for a democratic transition — most importantly, drafting a secular constitution that protects the rights of women and minorities.

 

The final step on that long democratic path should be elections. First municipal, then provincial, then national. As was shown in the post-World War II democratizations, the later the better. After all, we’ve been here. Through a half-century of cold war, we repeatedly faced precisely the same dilemma: choosing the lesser evil between totalitarian (in that case, communist) and authoritarian (usually military) rule.

 

We generally supported the various militaries in suppressing the communists. That was routinely pilloried as a hypocritical and immoral betrayal of our alleged allegiance to liberty. But in the end, it proved the prudent, if troubled, path to liberty.

 

The authoritarian regimes we supported — in South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Chile, Brazil, even Spain and Portugal (ruled by fascists until the mid-1970s!) — in time yielded democratic outcomes. Gen. Augusto Pinochet, after 16 years of iron rule, yielded to U.S. pressure and allowed a free election — which he lost, ushering in Chile’s current era of democratic flourishing. How many times have communists or Islamists allowed that to happen?

 

Regarding Egypt, rather than emoting, we should be thinking: what’s best for Egypt, for us and for the possibility of some eventual democratic future. Under the Brotherhood, such a possibility is zero. Under the generals, slim. Slim trumps zero.

 

Contents

HOW CLOSE IS THE U.S. TO THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD?

Magdi Khalil

Front Page Magazine, Aug. 23, 2013

 

There is no question that the US and the Muslim Brotherhood have been engaged in a dialogue during the course of the so-called Arab Spring, in regards to the form and structure of government in Egypt and perhaps in the Middle East as a whole. But the real question, which is frequently asked, is what kind of a role did the US exactly play in the Muslim Brotherhood’s arrival to power in Egypt? Is the US actually working alongside the Muslim Brotherhood to shape the future of the Middle East?…

 

First, it must be said that the US is not unacquainted with the Muslim Brotherhood, since the movement has had US-based activities, organizations and financial investments for more than five decades, particularly through its relationship with and presence in Saudi Arabia, which became its refuge after it fled from Egypt during Nasser’s rule. The Muslim Brotherhood sought to establish its presence in the American continent, starting with “The Muslim Students’ Association,” which was a small organization established in 1963. Later, they went on to establish bigger organizations such as the North American Islamic Trust in 1971; the International Institute of Islamic Thought in 1980; the Shura Council of the Muslim Brotherhood in America in 1980; the Islamic Society of North America in 1981; the Islamic Association of Palestine in 1981, which in turn established the Occupied Land Fund that later became the Holy Land Foundation; the American Islamic Council in 1990, and the American Islamic Society in1992. Furthermore, the international Muslim Brotherhood movement held its meetings several times in the US, specifically in the years 1977, 1978 and 1979. The Muslim Brotherhood had well known leaders in the US, such as Zaid Noman, Ahmed El Kady, Mohammed Ikram Elwani, as well as senior investors such as Youssef Nada.

 

Looking back, we can see that the starting point for the attempts to contain Islamist movements around the world, including the Muslim Brotherhood, was right after the events of September 11 [2001]. As the first shot was fired in Afghanistan, the US began also to formulate a plan to deal with the Islamist dilemma from a political angle. An endless war was not a viable solution, and a political alternative was required in order to control the emerging phenomenon. The Bush Administration primarily thought that the lack of democratic political participation was behind the phenomenon of international terrorism, believing that these individuals were hunted in their countries, and after being forced to flee, they had directed their excessive hatred and violence at the Western World. The solution seemed clear enough then: to find a way to redirect and assimilate that excessive energy through a local political process that would both embrace and contain said individuals. Bush chose Iraq as a starting point for the democratization of the region and the creation of a new Middle East, where he had expected democracy to spread in a domino-like effect.

 

However, democracy failed in Iraq. On one side, it was thwarted by the unleashed sectarian strife monster, and on the other it met with stubborn and unanimous resistance from neighbouring countries, including Iran, which worked together to defeat Bush’s plan and stop the tide of American democracy from reaching its shores.

 

This plan’s failure was promptly followed by a hunt for a second alternative, and the idea to assimilate Islamists into their own countries through an Islamist rule of the region was born. In 2005, Ms. Condoleezza Rice, then the Secretary of State, made a speech in Cairo which suggested that the US did not mind if Islamists assumed power. This notion soon gained popularity, and dozens of seminars, conferences and meetings that took place in Washington, London, Madrid and Brussels started to promote in earnest the participation of Islamists in government. Many of these gatherings were funded through Qatar, with evident “green light” from the US.

 

With the support of Qatari funds, Al-Jazeera Channel started to back the Islamist project, i.e., an Islamist rule via elections, until the Channel became the official media platform of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic movements in the region. The role played by both Qatar and Al-Jazeera expanded throughout the Arab Spring uprisings, seeking to speed up a “brotherhoodization” process that would reshape the entire region to reflect Muslim Brotherhood beliefs and practices. Later, they worked to engage the US in extensive dialogues about government requirements and structure, the conditions of Western cooperation, and particularly US-Muslim Brotherhood cooperation.

 

Since the collapse of Mubarak’s regime, Washington and Cairo had maintained contact as attested by frequent Washington-Cairo trips and intense phone consultations between the White House and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance office in Al-Mokattam. It had reached a point where the almost nonstop contact became the subject of a widespread political joke among foreign diplomats in Egypt, who said that you can measure the time that passes between President Mursi issuing a decision and reversing it by the time difference existing between the Office of Guidance and the White House–the joke clearly speaks for itself.

 

In the beginning, the US terms were as follows: 1) to take into consideration American interests in the region; 2) to stay away from Iran; 3) to maintain the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty; 4) to resort to the ballots in political issues; 5) to take into consideration the rights of women and minorities. The Muslim Brotherhood agreed to all conditions, even if it was merely a form of dissimulation.

 

The outcome of the Gaza crisis [Operation Pillar of Defense] increased the trust between Obama’s Administration and the Muslim Brotherhood, with Obama praising Mursi at length after the crisis was averted. In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood had offered what no other Egyptian president has ever offered to the US, pledging the following to Obama: 1) Hamas will not launch a single rocket, fire a single shot or conduct a single operation against Israel in the next four years, which represented Obama’s second term; 2) Egypt will monitor crossings and tunnels to ensure that no weapons are being smuggled to Hamas; 3) The US will be allowed to set up advanced equipment at the borders to conduct its own surveillance of the crossings; 4) In case the violence originating from Sinai gets out of control, American troops will be allowed to guard the Egyptian-Gaza borders.

 

In a nutshell: To restrain Hamas and keep Israel from harm while the Muslim Brotherhood is let loose in Egypt to do as it wishes. Even worse, there are serious noises about Qatari/Egyptian/American discussions aiming to bypass the Palestinian Authority and open a dialogue with Hamas directly, followed by political talks which may lead to an individual peace treaty between Hamas and Israel….

 

The bottom line is that while Mubarak had delivered the government into the hands of the military represented in the Military Council, the Military Council, in cooperation with the US, has handed the government over to the Muslim Brotherhood. Mubarak showed more intelligence in that regard, and had previous knowledge of the US intentions, as indicated by his statement to Dr. Hossam Badrawi that the US has been planning since 2005 for the Muslim Brotherhood to assume power in Egypt. The Military Council failed the people, perhaps because it made some sort of deal with the Muslim Brotherhood, or due to increased US pressure, or even because of poor political skills; what matters is that these factors combined to place Egypt under the thumb of the Muslim Brotherhood.

 

It is up to Egyptians now to reshape history once more for the sake of the people, the homeland and the future, rather than the past. There is hope yet for their voice to be heard and for their will to prevail.

Contents

 

 

EGYPT IS WHERE HISTORY GOES TO DIE

Daniel Greenfield

Jewish Press, August 27th, 2013

 

One of the biggest differences between conservatives and liberals is that while conservatives believe that history is an expression of human nature, liberals don't believe in history, they believe in historical processes. The shortage of conservatives explains why so many politicians and pundits glowingly endorsed the Arab Spring as the "end of history" because the historical processes had been achieved, the check boxes were ticked and Egypt, Tunisia and the rest of the Arab Spring countries would shortly reach the same historical terminus that Sweden, France and the United Kingdom had achieved.It also explains why so many politicians are frantically trying to "fix" Egypt by putting it on the right historical track.

The liberal understanding of history is so hopelessly dominant that it never occurs to most of them that countries can't be fixed. They aren't leaky sinks, but systems emerging from a national culture. Egypt can't be fixed by calling the plumbers of democracy to tighten a few valves and bully the natives into holding another election. The last election didn't fix Egypt. There's no reason to believe that another one will. Elections did not fix a single Arab Spring country. They didn't fix Russia. They won't fix China….

To the liberal misreading of history, a failed state is like an overweight fellow. Map out a diet and exercise regimen for him based on historical processes, things that he must do and mustn't do and he'll get better. If he isn't following orders, make him run through the right historical processes. If the whole thing backfires, refuse to admit it, because progressive policies never fail. Push that logic forward and there is no reason to think that the past is relevant to a nation at all. Not when historical processes break away the present from the past and the future from the present.

There is no real need to understand Egypt or the Muslim Brotherhood in any great depth. Not when they are about to be transformed by the magic of democracy. The Muslim Brotherhood may have been a terrorist organization in the past, its branches may still engage in terrorism, but that stops mattering once the Brotherhood bows to the historical process of democracy. Egypt's history also vanishes once it is transmuted through the magic of elections. Democracy didn't actually change Egypt. Egypt is still the same country it was before Obama's Cairo speech. It's poorer, more unstable and more dangerous. But it hasn't really changed….

The assumption that historical processes align with a forward motion, that the liberalization of a society moves it forward, are so innate that it goes unquestioned. It is why democracy is held to be a good, entirely apart from its outcome. Even if democratic elections lead to a takeover by a junta of fanatical cannibals, the very act of holding an election moves a society forward through one hoop in the great circus of historical processes. The immediate result may be cannibalism, but in the long run, as Arab Spring advocates remind us from the editorial pages, the society moves forward.

The liberal understanding of history made it impossible to see the Muslim Brotherhood for what it was because its victory did not fit the march of progress. The victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in a democratic election meant that it was progressive. Because that is how the forward motion of history is meant to work. And its overthrow had to be considered reactionary, regardless of the issues.

This blinkered view discarded the issues and nature of the participants. It traded the contents of the system, for the addiction of process. It made the same mistakes as in Iraq and Afghanistan, drifting on a democracy high without paying attention to who was actually winning the elections and what their plans for the future were. The conviction that Afghanistan or Iraq or Egypt were moving forward was not borne out by anything except the spectacle of process and the conviction that everything was bound to keep moving forward, especially if we gave it a push or two.

The conservative understanding of Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt was that these places were backward because the culture of the people, their occupations, the way that they chose to live, kept it that way. But in the liberal understanding of history, they were backward because they had been denied access to modern processes for upgrading their societies. Give them democracy and they'll be Europe in no time at all.

 

It did not occur to them that the reason Egypt wasn't England had nothing to do with elections and everything to do with the culture of a broken country that hasn't gotten all that far past feudalism, and whose "modern" face was slapped together by European colonialism and local dictators borrowing European ideas and applying thin layers of them across the surface of a much older culture. Processes don't move a society forward. The striving to learn and grow, to push beyond the next horizon and find out what is over the next hill. That innate organic expansionism, that creative dissatisfaction, cannot be transplanted or imposed externally. It either grows out of the soul of a culture or it does not. The historical processes that matter are a by product of such strivings….

We are not bound to move forward. It is quite possible that we are moving back. And even that sense of direction is a matter of opinion. To the Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood, backward is forward, as they push on toward the 7th century. The sense of historical direction in Cairo or New York is not an abstract, but a function of culture, a product of the things we value and strive toward. It is possible to distinguish the healthy and unhealthy cultures through the outcome of these products, but it is not possible to make a culture want not only the things we want, but to want them in the same way and through the same means.

Egypt is where history goes to die. Beneath its sands, there are ages and ages of lost time, lost civilizations and lost pasts that might have been. They lie there untouched by the mantra of historical processes. They simple were and are no more. The Arab Spring is nothing but another one of those many sedimentary layers of history that fall into the sands and crunch under the sandals of the cultures that take each other's place….

 

Islam has cloaked [Egypt] in its characteristic darkness that teaches its followers to strive for nothing except the subjugation of others to its will….There is no future here. There is no history here. Egypt is where history goes to die, buried in its tombs with its ancient kings, lying in wait for another time when the sands will shift, the stones will fall and time will begin moving again.

Contents

 

Mubarak's Muslim Brotherhood Prophecy: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 15, 2013—In a video of Hosni Mubarak when he was still Egypt's president, the strategies of which he accuses the Muslim Brotherhood have come to pass. What follows are Mubarak's words from a conference in Egypt (date unknown; author's translation).

 

The Evolution of  the Revolution: Dr. Michael Evans, Jerusalem Report, Aug. 21, 2013—The streets of Cairo are caught in the midst of a murderous frenzy — the Egyptian military on one side and Muslim Brotherhood supporters of recently-deposed president Mohamed Morsi on the other. The death toll now hovers at over 1,000 including twenty-five off-duty policemen murdered execution-style in northern Sinai.

 

The Realist Prism: Indecision on Egypt Leaves U.S. Interests at Risk: Nikolas Gvosdev, World Politics Review, Aug. 23 2013—As the Obama administration grapples with what to do next in Egypt, it may be instructive to review the U.S. efforts of the past decade to bring about fundamental political and economic change in Egypt and the other countries of the greater Middle East.

 

Is Egypt the next Algeria? Unlikely: Tawfik Hamid, Jerusalem Post, Aug 26, 2013—Many fear that banning the Muslim Brotherhood group will result in the use of violence, similar to what happened in Algeria during the 1990s. When the Algerian people refused to give the radical Islamists – who later won the elections – political power, Algeria endured the blood shed of 100,000 innocent people, over a ten year period.

 

Gulf Islamists Irked as Monarchs Back Egypt's Generals: Egypt Independent, Aug. 27, 2013—While they have been careful to express only muted dissent in public, Islamists and some other conservative Gulf Muslims are quietly seething at Saudi Arabia's whole-hearted backing of Egyptian army chief General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

 

Constitutional Tweaks May Empower Mubarak-Era Politicians in Egypt: Egypt Independent, Aug. 24, 2013—Islamists and liberals have voiced alarm about the proposals made by a constitutional committee set up by the generals who removed the Muslim Brotherhood's Mursi on July 3 amid widespread protests against Egypt's first freely elected leader.

 

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

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SPECIAL BRIEFING: SYRIAN CRISIS – ASSAD’S MURDEROUS GAS ATTACK CALLS OBAMA’S BLUFF— BUT THE REAL “ROAD TO DAMASCUS” RUNS THROUGH IRAN

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail:  ber@isranet.org

 

 

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Contents:

 

Syria Will Require more than Cruise Missiles: Eliot A. Cohen, Washington Post, Aug. 25, 2013—In 1994, after directing the U.S. Air Force’s official study of the Persian Gulf War, I concluded, “Air power is an unusually seductive form of military strength, in part because, like modern courtship, it appears to offer gratification without commitment.” That observation stands.

 

More Questions than Answers as Attack on Syria Looms: Zvi Bar'el, Ha’aretz, Aug. 25, 2013— “When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk,” says Eli Wallach’s character in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” But he also says, “If you miss, you had better miss very well.” It seems that the fear of missing is the dilemma now facing the United States and Europe over Syria.

 

The Road to Damascus Starts in Tehran: Michael Ledeen, PJ Media, Aug. 25, 2013—It’s Middle East Groundhog Day all over again.  The discussion of What To Do About Syria is a replay of What To Do About Saddam:  it’s all about the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong way.

 

Israel’s Interest: That Assad not Be Victorious: Mitch Ginsburg, Times of Israel, Aug. 25, 2013—With four US warships prowling the eastern Mediterranean, poised to respond to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s apparent usage of chemical weapons, Israeli security chiefs have likely swiveled their intelligence-collecting antennae to the Syrian front and lowered their public profiles, seeking neither to be seen as the instigator of a US strike, nor as provoking a Syrian response.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

Looking the Other Way: Amir Taheri, New York Post, Aug. 25, 2013

Networks of Spies Aid Syria Gas Probe: Adam Entous, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 23, 2013

‘IDF Intercepted Syrian Regime Chatter on Chemical Attack’: Adiv Sterman, Times of Israel, August 26, 2013

Assad Calls Obama’s Bluff: Lee Smith, The Weekly Standard, Sept. 2, 2013

The Chemical Attack in Syria: Implications: Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, JCPA, Aug. 25, 2013

 

 

SYRIA WILL REQUIRE MORE THAN CRUISE MISSILES

Eliot A. Cohen

Washington Post, Aug. 25, 2013

 

In 1994, after directing the U.S. Air Force’s official study of the Persian Gulf War, I concluded, “Air power is an unusually seductive form of military strength, in part because, like modern courtship, it appears to offer gratification without commitment.” That observation stands. It explains the Obama administration’s enthusiasm for a massive, drone-led assassination campaign against al-Qaeda terrorists. And it applies with particular force to a prospective, U.S.-led attack on the Syrian government in response to its use of chemical weapons against a civilian population.

 

President Obama has boxed himself in. He can no longer ignore his own proclamation of a “red line.” The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a breach of proper civil-military relations, has publicly telegraphed his skepticism about any use of force in Syria. But the scale, openness and callousness of the Syrian government’s breaking of an important taboo seems likely to compel this president — so proud of his record as a putative war-ender — to launch the warplanes yet again in the Middle East.

 

The temptation here is to follow the Clinton administration’s course — a futile salvo of cruise missiles, followed by self-congratulation and an attempt to change the topic. It would not work here. A minority regime fighting for its life, as Bashar al-Assad’s is, can weather a couple of dozen big bangs. More important, no one — friends, enemies or neutrals — would be fooled. As weak as the United States now appears in the region and beyond, we would look weaker yet if we chose to act ineffectively. A bout of therapeutic bombing is an even more feckless course of action than a principled refusal to act altogether.

 

A serious bombing campaign would have substantial targets — most plausibly the Syrian air force, the service once headed by Assad’s father, which gives the regime much of its edge over the rebels, as well as the air defense system and the country’s airports, through which aid arrives from Iran. But should the Obama administration choose any kind of bombing campaign, it needs to face some hard facts.

 

For one thing, and despite the hopes of some proponents of an air campaign, this would not be surgical. No serious application of air power ever is, despite administration officials’ claims about the drone campaign, which, as we now know, has killed plenty of civilians. A serious bombing campaign means civilian casualties, at our hands. And it may mean U.S. and allied casualties too, because the idea of a serious military effort without risk is fatuous.

 

The administration would need congressional authorization. Despite his professed commitment to transparency and constitutional niceties, Obama has proved himself reluctant to secure congressional authorization for the use of force, most notably with Libya in 2011. Even if an authorization is conferred retroactively, it needs to be done here because this would be a large use of force; indeed, an act of war.

 

And it probably would not end cleanly. When the president proclaimed the impending conclusion of the war with al-Qaeda, he disregarded the cardinal fact of strategy: It is (at least) a two-sided game. The other side, not we, gets to decide when it ends. And in this case neither the Syrian government nor its Iranian patrons, nor its Hezbollah, Russian and Chinese allies, may choose to shrug off a bombing campaign. Chess players who think one move ahead usually lose; so do presidents who think they can launch a day or two of strikes and then walk away with a win. The repercussions may be felt in neighboring countries; they may even be felt in the United States, and there is no excuse for ignoring that fact.

 

Despite all these facts, not to act would be, at this point and by the administration’s own standards, intolerable. The slaughter in Syria, tolerated for so long, now approaches the same order of magnitude (with the number of dead totaling six figures at least) as Rwanda, but in a strategically more important place. Already it is late, perhaps too late, to prevent Syria from becoming the new Afghanistan or Yemen, home to rabidly anti-Western jihadis. A critical firebreak, the use of chemical weapons on a large scale, has been breached.

 

No less important, U.S. prestige is on the line. Why should anyone, anywhere, take Obama’s threats (or for that matter, his promises) seriously if he does nothing here? Not to act is to decide, and to decide for an even worse outcome than the one that awaits us.

 

“War is an option of difficulties,” a British general once remarked. The question before the president is whether he will make matters worse by convincing himself that he has found a minimal solution to a fiendish problem. He will convince no one else.

 

Eliot A. Cohen teaches at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He directed the U.S. Air Force’s Gulf War Air Power Survey from 1991 to 1993.
 

Contents

MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS AS ATTACK ON SYRIA LOOMS

Zvi Bar'el

Ha’aretz, Aug. 25, 2013

 

“When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk,” says Eli Wallach’s character in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” But he also says, “If you miss, you had better miss very well.” It seems that the fear of missing is the dilemma now facing the United States and Europe over Syria.

 

The countries are still talking. Even the signs of preparations for military action, bringing warships armed with missiles nearer to the Syrian border, urgent consultations at the White House and coordination of positions with European countries, do not take the safety catch off just yet. That’s because it’s not tactically missing the target that is the concern, since the location of the Syrian army’s chemical weapons sites are known. The concern is over diplomatically missing it.

 

The decision makers have before them a few versions, each pointing a finger in different directions following last week’s reported use of chemical weapons east of Damascus. One version is that of the Free Syrian Army and the political opposition, whose spokesmen explaine at a news conference Saturday that the chemical missiles were fired by the Syrian army’s Brigade 115 from its Mount Kalamun missile base and that, during the attack, the head of the Syrian missile directorate, Taher Hamed Khalil, was present at the base.

 

Another version is that of Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq, relying on a source in the Free Syrian Army who claims that soldiers of the Fourth Elite Unit, commanded by Maher Assad – the Syrian president’s brother – raided the Scientific Studies and Research Center and captured quantities of the chemical weapons after killing a Syrian officer who refused to let them in.

 

A third version comes from the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Seyassah, through an Iraqi source close to the separatist Muktada al-Sadr, who says that fighters from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, in charge of some of the chemical weapons stores, fired the chemical weapons at the town of al-Ghouta, despite opposition by the Syrian army brass.

 

Yet another version, published on the Syrian opposition website al-Hakika, reported that the chemicals were smuggled from Turkey by activists of the Turkmen uprising and that these activists were the ones who fired the missiles to spark an international provocation.

 

The website, which published reports on the smuggling of the chemicals about a week before the attack – as well as after it – raises questions about the way the dead were found, plus the fact that the weather conditions on the day of the attack could not ensure that Syrian soldiers would not also be killed. The Syrian regime has its own version, in which five Syrian soldiers were killed and others rushed to the hospital after they were injured by the chemicals.

 

In this abundance of versions, it seems that, at least in one matter, the fog has been lifted. Chemical weapons, whose makeup is still not known for sure, were indeed used. Even Iranian President Hassan Rohani said on Saturday that Syrian citizens had been killed by chemical weapons – without, of course, saying who fired them.

 

The foot-dragging in the West stems from a lack of clear-cut proof about who fired the weapons. The United States wants to find the smoking gun in President Bashar Assad’s palace so the attack on Syria will not be restricted to aiming cruise missiles at some weapons stores, but rather, will lead to a strategic change that will decide the battle in Syria.

 

In contrast, the destruction of those stores is no assurance that quantities of chemical weapons have not already been distributed among Syrian army units, or have not made their way to rebel groups that do not answer to the Free Syrian Army – such as Islamic groups affiliated with Al-Qaida. One worrisome scenario is that after the aerial bombardment of the chemical weapons depots, such weapons will continue to be used, but then there will no longer be a clearly responsible target to be attacked.

 

Beyond tactical considerations, such an attack could cross the strategic boundary that has so far prevented military involvement in Syria. The immediate fear is of a Russian and Iranian response. But even if we assume that the Russians will make do with sharp condemnations and won’t send troops to defend the Syrian regime nor bring its warships closer to the Syrian port of Tartus (the site of a Russian naval facility), the question will still remain of what happens “the day after.”

 

Who exactly will reap the fruits of the attack? Who will take the reins of government in Syria if the strike leads to Assad’s downfall? No one knows the answer to that – neither the United States, Israel or Europe, nor even within Syria itself.

 

U.S. President Barack Obama can do himself a political favor and attack a few targets in Syria, showing his insistence on the “red line” he defined a year ago. That, of course, is an important consideration for a president whose popularity continues to slip. But when a superpower is made to strike another country or bring down a regime, the pretext and the outcome should be superpower-sized. Chemical weapons have killed more than 1,200 people, and conventional weapons have killed more than 100,000. That is a good enough reason to bring down the regime.

Contents

THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS STARTS IN TEHRAN

Michael Ledeen

PJ Media, Aug. 25, 2013

 

It’s Middle East Groundhog Day all over again.  The discussion of What To Do About Syria is a replay of What To Do About Saddam:  it’s all about the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong way. When the intel and military “experts” say, as they have been saying for many months, “there is no good outcome in Syria,” they’re talking about that war, the wrong war.

 

We invaded Iraq in the name of the War Against Terror, which President George W. Bush defined as a war against terrorist organizations and the states that supported them.  That should have made Iran the focus of our strategy, since Tehran was (and still is, now more than ever) the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism.  Nothing would have so devastated the jihadis as the fall of the Iranian regime, which–then as now–funded, trained, armed and gave sanctuary to terrorist groups from al-Qaeda and Hezbollah to Islamic Jihad and Hamas.  Unless we defeated Iran, it would not be possible for Iraq to have decent security, no matter how total the defeat of Saddam and the Baathists, and how well-intentioned the successor government.  As you can plainly see.

 

It’s not as if anyone should be surprised;  before the invasion, both Assad and Khamenei publicly announced that they would wage war against us in Iraq, just as they had in Lebanon a short generation before.  Today they warn us to stay out of Syria, or they will attack us on a global scale.

 

Here we go.  Again.  We are still the main target of the terror war, of which the leading sponsor is Iran.  The Assad regime in Damascus is a satrapy of Iran, as we are publicly told by both the Syrian insurrectionaries and the Iranian leaders, including The Great Moderate, President Rouhani.  There are thousands of Iranian killers in the front lines, hailing from the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force and from Hezbollah, long the regime’s foreign legion. Iranian advisers tell Assad’s loyalists where and how to attack, and if the Syrians have indeed used chemical weapons, you can be sure the Iranians approved it, and were probably involved in the operations.

 

So, as in Iraq, if you want to win this battle in the terror war, you must defeat the Iranian regime.  And, as in the early years of this bloody century, you can do it without dropping bombs or sending Americans to fight on the ground, because the overwhelming majority of Iranians want to rid themselves of Khamenei and Rouhani and all the rest of their tyrannical oppressors.  They can do it, with a bit of political, technological and economic support.  They could have done it in 2003, when they were on the verge of declaring a general strike against the regime.  Colin Powell and W abandoned them, and it never happened.  They could have done it in 2009, when millions of them took to the streets in demonstrations larger than those that led to the downfall of the shah.  Hillary Clinton and O abandoned them, and a brutal repression ensued.

 

A lot of Americans have been sacrificed to our failure of strategic vision, and American soldiers, the best of us, are at risk today in Afghanistan, targets of Iranian-trained Taliban fanatics.  You can be sure that more Americans will be at enhanced risk if we engage in Syria, from soldiers on military bases to civilians in embassies and consulates and resorts and stock exchanges, or even walking through Times Square or waiting at the finish line of a marathon.

 

It is like fighting a known arsonist by waiting for him to ignite a conflagration and then calling the firemen to put it out.  To be sure, if you eliminate the arsonist there will still be flames and smoldering embers, but that problem is easier to manage than the certainty of new conflagrations set ablaze by the same fanatic.

 

Iran is the engine of the Syrian bloodbath.  Remove Tehran’s killers, money, weapons, intelligence services and fanatical ideologues from the Syrian battlefield, and things will get better, perhaps much better.  And not only in the Middle East;  things will improve in Africa (talk to the Nigerians about that) and South and Central America.

 

How can so many policy makers, pundits, scribblers and babblers overlook Iran’s centrality?  And how can so many of them fail to recognize the enormous power of the ongoing revolt against the theological fascists who hold power in Tehran and who have just lost power in Cairo?  The uprising that defenestrated the Muslim Brothers in Egypt was the biggest mass demonstration in the history of the world, but the self-proclaimed deep thinkers debate whether it qualifies for “coup,” and suggest that the fascists should be given a share of power.

 

As the immortal Orwell reminds us, Winston Smith finally proclaimed “I love Big Brother.”  All too many of our corrupt elite are headed down that path.  Enough, already.  Don’t go to war against Eurasia yet again.  Fight the real war against the real enemy, with the lethal weapons our history has bequeathed us. No more Newspeak, tell it like it is: Win in Damascus by supporting freedom in Tehran.

 

Contents

 

 

ISRAEL’S INTEREST: THAT ASSAD NOT BE VICTORIOUS

Mitch Ginsburg

Times of Israel, Aug. 25, 2013

 

With four US warships prowling the eastern Mediterranean, poised to respond to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s apparent usage of chemical weapons, Israeli security chiefs have likely swiveled their intelligence-collecting antennae to the Syrian front and lowered their public profiles, seeking neither to be seen as the instigator of a US strike, nor as provoking a Syrian response.

 

The US, for reasons ranging from presidential prestige to moral imperatives to strict national interests, seems ready to act. “I think it is fair to say that, as difficult as the problem is, this is something that is going to require America’s attention and hopefully the entire international community’s attention,” President Barack Obama told CNN over the weekend. But of the many options open to the US — from a tongue lashing to a limited strike to a debilitating blow to the Assad regime — which, if any, serves Israel’s national interests?

 

Brig. Gen. (ret) Shlomo Brom, a senior research fellow at the Institute of National Security Studies, said his view has changed over the course of the brutal war in Syria. “At first, I was one of those who said that the best possible scenario is that Assad put down the rebellion like his father did,” said Brom, a former head of the IDF’s Strategic Planning Division. His thinking at the time, he said, was that if Syria was deterred by Israel, the chances of war were slim to none, and he believed that Assad, despite his ties to Hezbollah and Iran, sincerely sought a peace agreement with Israel.

 

“But now Syria has begun playing on a much bigger court,” Brom said Sunday, noting that the Syrian civil war had pitted Saudi Arabia and Qatar against Iran and, to a certain extent, the US against Russia. “Therefore, Israel’s interest is that he not be victorious,” he said of Assad.

 

From Israel’s perspective, there are two good US options and one bad one, Brom went on. The first and most likely scenario entails a strike that is punitive in nature and limited in time and scope. A one-time barrage of Tomahawk sea-to-surface missiles against a symbolic Syrian target — much like the 1998 US strikes in Sudan and Afghanistan — would not have a significant impact on the outcome of the conflict, said Brom, but it would be helpful in that it would likely deter Assad from continuing to use chemical weapons.

 

On the other end of the spectrum is a “true and effective intervention.” That type of move, perhaps entailing actions akin to the March 1999 invasion of Yugoslavia, is not likely, Brom said. But it would be far preferable to the middle ground — the bad alternative — which might entail “a true intervention that is not effective,” Brom said characterizing such a step as the kind that “allowed the war to grind on and on.”

 

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, in July wrote a letter to Congress outlining five possible options for US action in Syria, the independent military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported. Options No. 4 and 5 — creating buffer zones to protect civilians and seizing control of all chemical weapons, respectively — would fit neatly into Brom’s least desirable category.

 

Professor Efraim Inbar, the head of the BESA Center for Strategic Studies, was unequivocal about the ultimate Israeli interest. “There are no good options,” he said of the situation in Syria. “But the Israeli interest is that Bashar not survive.”

 

As an ally of Iran, Israel’s No. 1 enemy, Assad has to go, even at the cost of anarchy or extremist Sunni control in Damascus, Inbar indicated. Asked whether a US strike could trigger a retaliation against Israel, as happened during the first Gulf War, and whether the nature of the US strike might dictate the severity of Assad’s response, both Brom and Inbar were cautious yet dubious of Assad’s willingness to attack Israel.

 

“There was a broad Arab coalition against Saddam,” Inbar claimed, asserting that the point of Saddam Hussein’s missile launches in January 1991 was to drag Israel into the fray and thereby fracture the Arab unity. “Here there’s hardly any Arab coalition at all.” Brom said Assad’s bottom line was “survivability” — a goal that clashed with a major strike against Israel. “Syria is right on our border,” he said. “We can be very effective there… actually, more so than the Americans.”

Contents

 

 

Looking the Other Way: Amir Taheri, New York Post, Aug. 25, 2013—Assad has decided American indifference and UN ineffectiveness means he can commit mass murder in Syria As expected, the threat of a Russian veto has prevented the United Nations from adopting any position on the latest chemical attack in Syria, which killed hundreds in three suburbs of Damascus. An organization meant to act in support of peace has been turned into an instrument for preventing all such action.

 

Networks of Spies Aid Syria Gas Probe: Adam Entous, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 23, 2013—A growing Western consensus that Syria's government used chemical weapons this week against its own people is based on information from networks of informants in rebel strongholds, who collect tissue samples and video evidence for Western and Middle Eastern spy agencies, according to U.S., European and Arab officials.

 

‘IDF Intercepted Syrian Regime Chatter on Chemical Attack’: Adiv Sterman, Times of Israel, August 26, 2013

An IDF intelligence unit listened in on senior Syrian officials discussing a chemical attack that allegedly took place on the outskirts of Damascus and left hundreds of Syrian civilians dead last Wednesday, a major German publication reported.
 

The Chemical Attack in Syria: Implications: Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, JCPA, Aug. 25, 2013—The regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad has once again made use of chemical weapons in Syria’s bloody civil war, which has cost over 100,000 lives since it began in March 2011.

 

Assad Calls Obama’s Bluff: Lee Smith, The Weekly Standard, Sept. 2, 2013 —The timing was probably not a coincidence, falling as it did on two anniversaries. August 18, 2011, was when President Obama first demanded Syrian president Bashar al-Assad step aside, and August 20 last year was when Obama warned that the use of chemical weapons would “change my calculus.” 

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

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

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

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

 

 

Ber Lazarus, Publications 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

THE FRIDAY BRIEFING MENAHEM BEGIN’S CENTENARY, KNESSET CHAIR’S “J’ACCUSE!” TO KERRY, & A GREAT MONTREAL RABBI’S PROFILE IN COURAGE

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Contents:

Menachim Begin: His Legacy, A Century After His Birth: Daniel Gordis, Jerusalem Post, August 15, 2013— Menachem Begin, Israel’s sixth prime minister, was born 100 years ago today. A century after his birth, and more than two decades after his death, it behooves us all, regardless of our political stripes, to take a moment and reflect on the profundity of his contribution to the Jewish people.                                                                                                                                                                                            Jewish Home” Knesset Chair to Kerry: You Are a Hypocrite, Ayelet Shaked, Jewish Press, Aug 15, 2013— Mr. Secretary of State – by forcing Israel to capitulate to terrorism by releasing murdering terrorists with so much blood on their hands that the United States would never dream of releasing them if it was their own citizens whom they murdered – you are not only being extremely hypocritical, but are actually dabbling in experimentation and gambling, by putting me and my children's lives at risk.                                                                                                                                                                                               Rabbi Cahana Talks About Life After Devastating Stroke: Janice Arnold, Canadian Jewish News, Aug 13, 2013— Rabbi Ronnie Cahana tells a visitor to “watch this.” He says a quick prayer, tenses his lanky frame and shoots his feet out. A triumphant smile crosses his face. With good reason: two years ago, he was “locked in,” felled by a devastating stroke at age 57 that left him unable to move any part of his body, except his eyelids. He remained in that state for a month and a half. Doctors did not hold out much hope.

 

On Topic Links

 

Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Soldiers Under Fire: Joshua Mitnick, Wall Street Journal, Aug 9, 2013

‘Most Wanted Nazi’ War Criminal Dies While Awaiting Trial: Ofer Aderet, Haaretz, June 16, 2013

A Too Humble America: John O’Sullivan, Globe and Mail, Aug 19, 2013

 

 

 

 

MENACHEM BEGIN: HIS LEGACY, A CENTURY AFTER HIS BIRTH

Daniel Gordis

Jerusalem Post, Aug 15, 2013

 

Menachem Begin, Israel’s sixth prime minister, was born 100 years ago today. A century after his birth, and more than two decades after his death, it behooves us all, regardless of our political stripes, to take a moment and reflect on the profundity of his contribution to the Jewish people.

That claim will undoubtedly strike many as strange, since more than half a century after he helped rid Palestine of the British, Begin is still disparaged by many of the very same Jews who see in the American revolution a cause for genuine pride. Begin himself seemed to sense the irony, so he spoke time and again about the American revolution. In an article commemorating the 35th anniversary of Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s death, he combined two passages from Thomas Jefferson’s letters to fellow statesmen – one to James Madison and another to William Stephens Smith. “I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical,” Begin quoted Jefferson, adding the American revolutionary’s sobering observation that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

It was natural that Begin thought about the Zionist revolution in light of what American revolutionary patriots had wrought 175 years earlier. After all, the American and Zionist revolutions shared much in common. Both were fueled by a people’s desire for freedom after long periods of oppression, in which religion had played a central role in their persecution. Both were designed to force the British to leave the territory in question so that they (the American colonialists and the Zionists) could establish their own, sovereign countries – in Israel’s case on the very ground where a sovereign Jewish nation had stood centuries before. Both produced admirable democracies. And both were violent revolutions.

Given those similarities, it is worth asking why many Jewish Americans bow their heads in respect to Nathan Hale, but wince in shame at the mention of the Hebrew freedom fighters who sought precisely what it was that Hale died for. Why is George Washington, who conducted a violent, fierce and bloody campaign against the British, a hero, while for many, Begin remains a villain or, at the very least, a Jewish leader with a compromised background? Some of the difference has to do with time. We have photographs of the two British sergeants Begin ordered hanged in response to the British hanging of his men, and of the shattered King David Hotel, which he ordered bombed. We know the names of the sergeants and of the victims in the hotel attack, but not of the British young men who died at the hands of America’s revolutionaries.

The passage of time and the absence of details have allowed the heroic story of America’s freedom fighters to endure, while the pain and suffering of those whom they fought has gradually faded into oblivion. The leaders and fighters of the Zionist revolution have been afforded no such luxury. The fighters of the Zionist revolution have also had the misfortune of another inequality. Native Americans are not the object of the world’s sympathies. Early Americans killed or moved entire tribes, yet the American revolution is now seldom assailed for its treatment of Native Americans as vehemently as is the Israeli revolution for its conflict with Arabs. The Palestinians have been infinitely more successful in their quest for international support, and the reputation of Israel’s revolutionaries – despite their similarity to those in America two centuries earlier – has borne the brunt of the international community’s displeasure.

And Begin’s reputation was also scarred by David Ben-Gurion’s refusal to acknowledge his own participation in some of the events for which Begin is vilified. Ben-Gurion consistently denied having had anything to do with operations that did not go as planned, while Begin stood ready to take responsibility. The Hagana’s David Shaltiel had approved the now infamous Deir Yassin operation, but when it went tragically and horribly awry and many innocent people died, Ben-Gurion painted Begin as a violent thug, pretending that his organization had had nothing to do with it. The Hagana was also intimately involved in the approval and planning of the King David bombing (for Ben-Gurion had come to see that Begin was right, that the British needed to be dislodged), but when civilians were killed because the British refused to heed the Irgun’s warnings to leave the building, Ben-Gurion assailed Begin, pretending that he and his men had known nothing of the plan.

Ben-Gurion was one of the greatest Jewish leaders ever to have lived, and the Jewish state might well not have come to be were it not for him. But his greatness notwithstanding, he was unfair to Begin – consistently and mercilessly.

Yet Ben-Gurion was not alone. Begin is, in many ways, still the victim of campaigns waged against him by Diaspora Jews. On the eve of Begin’s planned 1948 trip to the United States, when Albert Einstein and political theorist Hannah Arendt joined some two dozen other prominent American Jews in writing to The New York Times to protest his visit, they could probably not have imagined the long-term damage they would do not only to Begin’s reputation, but to the causes for which he stood. “Within the Jewish community,” Einstein and Arendt wrote, the Irgun has “preached an admixture of ultra-nationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority.” American Jews believed them. But that characterization of Begin was utterly false.

Unless believing in God makes one a religious mystic, Begin was far from any such thing. The Begin whom they accused of “racial superiority” was the same Begin who argued for the end of military rule over Israel’s Arabs, whose first act as prime minister was to welcome the Vietnamese boat people as Israeli citizens, who initiated the project of bringing Ethiopian Jews to Israel, and who gave up Sinai to make peace with Egypt.

That Einstein and Arendt, both immigrants to America who had found in the US freedom that they would never have been afforded in their native Germany, could not – or would not – see the similarities between the American and Zionist revolutions is astounding. They saw the American colonists as harbingers of freedom who created the world’s greatest democracy, a land of unlimited opportunity for those who came to its shores, but Begin and the Irgun as “terrorists” worthy only of shame and denigration.

Why? Part of the problem was that Begin’s Jewish worldview was, in many ways, infinitely more sophisticated than that of his detractors. He understood that life is a messy enterprise, and that great things cannot be accomplished in the pristine conditions of the laboratory.

Were he alive today, he would be perplexed by those American Jews who are despondent about the conditions of Arabs living under Israeli rule, but who rarely so much as mention the horrific conditions of Native Americans – whom those very same heroic American colonists cheated, deported and murdered.

He would in no way have condoned the treatment of Native Americans, of course; he was far too great a humanist for that. Indeed, he might well have identified with them, considering himself indigenous to Israel. What would have saddened him beyond measure was the Jewish people’s ability to be so intolerant of the messiness of life in its own unfolding history, yet so understanding of that messiness in the actions of others.

Begin was nuanced in other ways that make his worldview difficult for many to appreciate. His was a Judaism in which one could harbor both deeply humanist convictions and a passionate allegiance to one’s own people. A particularism that comes at the expense of broader humanism is inevitably narrow, and will likely become ugly, he would have said. But a commitment to humanity at large that does not put one’s own people first and center, Begin believed and made clear time and again, is a human life devoid of identity. He understood that to love all of humanity equally is to love no one intensively. Such unabashed yet nuanced particularism, even tribalism, was and remains difficult for many contemporary Jews, who see in Western universalist culture an ethos utterly at odds with the peoplehood that has always fueled passionate Jewish life….

Ed.: For complete article, please see link at the beginning of article.
 

Contents

 

 

 

 

JEWISH HOME KNESSET CHAIR TO KERRY: YOU ARE A HYPOCRITE

Ayelet Shaked

Jewish Press, August 15, 2013

 

 

 

To: United States Secretary of State John Kerry
 

Dear Sir,

In light of the current situation that you have brought about, I feel that I simply cannot be bound by the restraints of "politically correct" wording, and I therefore will allow myself to convey my following message to you in the most straightforward fashion:

Mr. Secretary of State – by forcing Israel to capitulate to terrorism by releasing murdering terrorists with so much blood on their hands that the United States would never dream of releasing them if it was their own citizens whom they murdered – you are not only being extremely hypocritical, but are actually dabbling in experimentation and gambling, by putting me and my children's lives at risk.

Your forcing us to release these terrorists with actual blood on their hands is made all the more absurd, cynical and vicious by the fact that your country refuses until this day to release Jonathan Pollard from jail, despite the unprecedented term he has served thus far.

Mr. Secretary: the price of releasing over a hundred convicted murders will be borne by my family & my people, not by you.

How will you carry the burden of the terrible price towards which you are leading us?

You have forced us into peace talks during a period of time that the entire Middle-East is in chaos, without realizing that by doing so, you have foolishly put us in an impossible situation, in which we cannot and will not make any concessions. By your own hand you have raised expectations to a dangerous level – one that might cause the whole region to spin out of control once those expectations are proven unrealistic, like so many times before.

The past four years in Israel have been as quiet and peaceful as ever. Therefore, I suggest to you that you perform your job in a much more effective and relevant fashion by focusing your attention on Syria and Egypt, where people are actually getting slaughtered.

Sincerely,

Ayelet Shaked, Member of Knesset
Chair, HaBayit HaYehudi Knesset Faction

 

 

 

RABBI CAHANA TALKS ABOUT LIFE AFTER DEVASTATING STROKE

Janice Arnold

Canadian Jewish News, Aug 13, 2013

 

 

MONTREAL — Rabbi Ronnie Cahana tells a visitor to “watch this.” He says a quick prayer, tenses his lanky frame and shoots his feet out. A triumphant smile crosses his face. With good reason: two years ago, he was “locked in,” felled by a devastating stroke at age 57 that left him unable to move any part of his body, except his eyelids. He remained in that state for a month and a half. Doctors did not hold out much hope.

That was July 2011. Rabbi Cahana had been spiritual leader of Congregation Beth-El for 10 years. He and wife, Karen, had five children, aged 13 to 23. “My doctor said to me, ‘You have lived a good life, you have a lovely reputation, you can say thank you for the beautiful life you have lived,’” Rabbi Cahana recalled in an interview at Maimonides Geriatric Centre, where he has lived since November. “She said, ‘You might get movement in some parts of your body, but we don’t think so. We think your body is completely severed from your mind.’ “Or, you might have a miracle and be restored.”

Rabbi Cahana believes that miracle has occurred – or at least, is underway, and he attributes the painfully slow but remarkable progress he has made to God. “What has happened to me has only strengthened my faith,” he said. “Every fraction of an inch of growth is a gift from God.”

 

Rabbi Cahana was initially treated at St. Mary’s Hospital, then at the Montreal Neurological Institute, before spending months in a rehabilitation centre. He made his first visit back to Beth-El on Chanukah in December 2011, when he was still a quadriplegic and had almost no audible voice. He was able to visit his home for the first time during Sukkot last fall.

Today, Rabbi Cahana speaks well, if low and with effort. Daughter Briah helps interpret when a visitor has difficulty catching a word. He has full movement of his face and neck, and operates an electric chair by himself by pressing a pedal with his head. He can control the speed and direction, as well as the angle of the seat. He can shrug his shoulders as he proudly demonstrates, flex his fingers and move his right arm slowly – to the extent that, he said, he can feed himself. Recently, he started trying to move his chair with his a hand on a joystick.

 

The computer has been a godsend. Rabbi Cahana has one in his room that he uses with a mouth-held device he touches to an on-screen keyboard. His physiotherapy continues and he is confident that what he can recover is “limitless.”

 

He remains a rabbi at Beth-El, a Conservative synagogue in Town of Mount Royal. The Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal conducted a community-wide campaign to help make that possible. Rabbi Cahana attends every Shabbat service travelling by adapted transportation. When given an aliyah, he is now able to stand. He spoke at last year’s Kol Nidre service and has taught at an Oneg Shabbat.

 

In June, he recited the Birkat Hamazon at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research’s gala dinner. Last month, he officiated at the wedding of non-members at Parc Jean Drapeau. Rabbi Allan Nadler, a native Montrealer, has been the congregation’s full-time spiritual leader since January, after filling in as interim rabbi from early 2012.

 

The cerebral tsunami that Rabbi Cahana survived has not changed his sweet, lyrical disposition. His spiritual, almost metaphysical, approach to life remains intact, if not enhanced. He speaks of thankfulness to the Almighty for “the gifts I have received because of the stroke. “He has given me the extraordinary gift of learning how to live in a new dimension. He has taught me to live in slow time. There’s no more frenetic pace, no more [urgency] to be somewhere else,” said Rabbi Cahana, who was known for his boundless energy.

 

He has found serenity, even joy, that astonishes him. Rabbi Cahana was never in a coma, nor did he lose consciousness when he was stricken. “There was, of course, extreme confusion. Everything was haywire, it was chaos. The body was terribly traumatized… it just wanted to cower inward.” The first calming presence he remembers, the one that cleared his mind, is of his eldest daughter, Kitra, reciting “the beautiful” Psalm 150, which concludes, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” His immediate worry was for his family, including his mother, the artist Alice Lok Cahana, living in the United States.

 

Rather than terror, Rabbi Cahana said his reaction was incredulity at being paralyzed. “I just couldn’t believe it,” he said. In his mind, his physical self felt normal. Even today, he has the sensation that his limbs contain their former energy, perhaps in the way an amputee experience pain in a leg that is gone. “I’m dancing, twirling, tumbling inside,” he explained. “I could be in the Cirque du Soleil.

 

When doctors first gave him the grim prognosis, Rabbi Cahana said that he “felt like I was in a fog with my feet dangling… bubbles were rising around me.” Then he felt a tugging at his trouser leg, and he is certain it was his father, Rabbi Moshe Cahana, who had died seven years earlier. “I’m convinced it was real. He said to me, ‘I promise you 100 per cent [recovery]…“I screamed out, ‘Choose life,’ again and again,” he recalled. “I was afraid [the doctor] would think I was saying, ‘Lose life.’” Of course, no one heard him.

 

With Kitra, he learned to communicate by blinking. She would go through the alphabet and when she came to the desired letter in the word he wanted, he blinked. In this laborious way, he wrote a letter to his mother, to allay her fears. It took 14 hours. Nevertheless, he soon began composing sermons for Beth-El in the same manner. The first movement he regained was in his lips, and gradually he could mouth words.

 

Rabbi Cahana is determined to continue to regain his abilities. “I have so much more to do in life,” he said. He wants to keep getting better out of gratitude for the love that has been shown to him by so many and for the excellent care he has received.

 

 

 

Contents

 

On Topic
 

Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Soldiers Under Fire: Joshua Mitnick, Wall Street Journal, Aug 9, 2013— An off-duty Israeli soldier was walking to visit relatives in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem last month, when suddenly he came under attack. Dozens of local men, incensed over the sight of a strictly religious Jew in uniform, started cursing at the soldier and shoving and beating him. The police had to send special units and anti-riot officers to the scene to rescue the soldier amid a hail of stones and rubbish. The soldier was unharmed, but six men were arrested.

‘Most Wanted Nazi’ War Criminal Dies While Awaiting Trial: Ofer Aderet, Haaretz, Aug 12, 2013— Laszlo Csatary, the world’s most wanted Nazi war criminal, died Sunday night in a hospital in Hungary, where he was awaiting trial for war crimes, Hungarian news sources reported Monday.

A Too Humble America: John O’Sullivan, Globe and Mail, Aug 19, 2013— In retrospect, we can see that the post-Cold War world ended in 2008, as a result of two events: Russia’s unpunished invasion of Georgia and the financial crisis triggered by the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, Wall Street’s fourth-largest investment bank.

 

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