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

Month: October 2013

20 MILLIONS DE MUSULMANS : LES NOUVEAUX JUIFS D’EUROPE ?

 

 

 

 

 

La VIE est morte à Auschwitz

Sebastian Vilar Rodriguez

terredisrael.com, 31 octobre 2013

 

C’est alors que je flânais dans les rues de Barcelone que j’ai réalisé la surprenante vérité : L’Europe est morte à Auschwitz.

 

Nous avons tué six millions de Juifs, qu’on a troqué contre vingt millions de Musulmans. A Auschwitz, nous avons incinéré toute une culture, toute une créativité et tout un talent. Nous nous sommes débarrassés du Peuple élu (et il l’est vraiment), dont sont sortis des génies et des personnalités grandioses qui ont changé la face du monde.

 

Les apports de ce peuple couvrent tous les domaines : les sciences, les arts, le commerce international, … etc. Ces gens qui représentaient la conscience du monde, nous les avons brûlés.

Ensuite, au nom de la tolérance et afin de prouver que nous avons été guéris du racisme, nous avons ouvert nos portes devant vingt millions de Musulmans qui nous ont apporté l’idiotie, l’ignorance, l’extrémisme religieux, l’intolérance, le crime et la pauvreté due à un manque d’appétit pour le travail digne.

 

Ils ont transformé les belles villes d’Espagne en des villes tiers-mondistes plongées dans le crime et la pollution. Ils s’enferment dans les maisons que l’Etat leur a gratuitement fournies pour planifier des attentats meurtriers et destructeurs contre leurs innocents hôtes.

 

Ainsi, stupidement, nous avons troqué la culture contre la haine, la capacité de création contre la capacité de destruction, l’intelligence contre la stupidité et les arts contre les croyances dépassées. A la place des Juifs d’Europe connus pour leur vénération de la vie et pour leur capacité à faire la paix et à nourrir l’espoir d’un meilleur avenir pour leurs enfants, nous avons fait venir des gens qui cherchent la mort et qui la souhaitent pour eux-mêmes et pour les autres.

 

Quelle erreur a-t-elle commis cette pauvre Europe ?

 

L’identité de Rodriguez reste mystérieuse et est le sujet de beaucoup de controverse sur le Web. Nous savons seulement qu’il est écrivain d’origine espagnole.

 

 

Libération de terroristes :

justice et moralité devant la Raison d’Etat

Freddy Eytan

Le CAPE de Jérusalem, 28 octobre 2013

 

Le gouvernement Netanyahou vient de décider de relâcher dans la nature 26 nouveaux terroristes détenus dans les prisons israéliennes depuis déjà deux décennies. Il s’agit de la deuxième tranche de détenus sur les 104 terroristes que le gouvernement a décidé de libérer dans le cadre des négociations de paix en cours avec les Palestiniens. Une décision grave et contraire aux principes fondamentaux de la Justice et aux valeurs morales. Comment libérer un assassin de la pire espèce ? Comment avoir pitié pour des bêtes humaines ? Tous ceux qui égorgent et massacrent à la hache des femmes et des bébés, ces sanguinaires, assoiffés par la haine du Juif et pour qui l’assassinat d’un enfant israélien est un devoir sacré, divin ! Sont-ils vraiment des combattants, des résistants, comme le décrivent les dirigeants palestiniens et certains médias internationaux ? Souhaitent-ils vraiment la paix et la coexistence avec le peuple israélien ou veulent-ils continuer à inciter à la haine et à perpétuer le conflit ?

 

Tandis que nos familles pleurent leurs victimes dans la douleur et manifestent leur colère noire, les terroristes, eux, refusent de prononcer des remords, ni même un seul regret ! Tous ces assassins sortis de prison se trouvent en excellente santé et sont accueillis tels des « héros de guerre ». Incroyable mais vrai ! Le fossé entre les sociétés et les mœurs demeure immense. Chez eux, tous les maux de la terre sont représentés par le Juif et par le sioniste !

 

Depuis les années 1970 tous les gouvernements israéliens on cédé au principe sacro-saint de ne jamais négocier ni relâcher des terroristes. Il est temps de mettre un terme à cette politique désastreuse car elle encourage en fait le terrorisme aveugle. Ce fléau devrait être combattu avec force et sans pitié et tous les assassins sans exception devraient purger leur peine jusqu’au bout. L’amnistie des terroristes par le Président de l’Etat juif est immorale et contraire aux valeurs du judaïsme ! Certes, la Raison d’Etat existe et souvent des décisions politiques prévalent sur toute autre considération, mais concernant la question fondamentale de la libération d’assassins un code de conduite doit être appliqué. Face à un ennemi impitoyable et devant des bêtes humaines, seule une politique ferme et intransigeante mettra un terme au chantage des Palestiniens ou au diktat des Américains.

 

La nouvelle tradition africaine d'Israël

upjf.org, 27 octobre 2013

  

Les Israéliens sont venus en masse assister à la Sigdiada attirés par la culture éthiopienne. Des stands de bijouteries et de broderies made in Ethiopia sont alignés devant le théâtre national Habima à Tel Aviv alors que la foule attend depuis plus d'une demi-heure afin d'acheter le pain éthiopien plat et citronné Injera à l'entrée du Sigdiada, le festival de la culture et du folklore de la communauté juive éthiopienne résidant en Israël.

 

A l'intérieur, les membres du groupe traditionnel musical Almaz interpellent les passants pour évoquer leurs difficultés financières. Le groupe reggae Zvoulon Dubb System et la chanteuse israélo-éthiopienne Ester Rada sont sur scène. Dans le même temps des mannequins de même origine défilent en vêtements traditionnels sous les applaudissements du public, rapporte le quotidien Haaretz.

 

Près de la moitié des 3.000 personnes qui se sont rendues au Sigdiada, ainsi nommé d'après le Sigd, une fête juive éthiopienne célébrée le 2 octobre dernier, n'étaient pas d'origine éthiopienne.

Cela témoigne de la puissance impressionnante de la communauté éthiopienne. Fin août cette communauté s'est agrandie avec l'arrivée des derniers juifs éthiopiens dans le cadre de l'opération "Ailes de Colombe". Quelque 450 nouveaux immigrants sont arrivés en Israël grâce à ce programme lancé en novembre 2010 par le gouvernement israélien, pour ramener des Juifs éthiopiens, majoritairement membres de la communauté Falashmouras.

 

"La fin de l'opération 'Ailes de Colombe' met un terme à un voyage historique qui a commencé il y a trois mille ans", avait déclaré à leur arrivée Natan Sharansky, président de l'Agence juive, chargée d'organiser le retour des Juifs en terre d'Israël. Au total la communauté ethiopienne compte quelque 100.000 personnes.

 

Durant la Sigdiada, racisme et discrimination sont mis de coté, souligne le quotidien Haaretz. Les sujets qui fâchent ont été également ignorés. Par exemple, l'école de Beit Dagan (sud-est de Tel Aviv) dont les parents d'élèves votèrent sur l'admission ou pas d'enfants éthiopiens (seuls trois parents d'élèves votèrent en faveur de ces enfants).Un autre exemple : cette adolescente israélienne d'origine éthiopienne, traînant dans le parc Gandhi à Lod (sud-est de Tel Aviv), tenant à la main une boisson énergisante et affirmant qu'à l'âge "mûr" de 14 ans, elle tenait déjà très bien l'alcool.

 

Il y eut bien un débat sur la discrimination au rez- de-chaussée où fut jouée "Gur Aryeh Yehouda" une pièce de l'organisateur du festival, Shaï Pardo. Dans la pièce, Pardo retrace douloureusement son autobiographie et rappelle que l'arrivée en Israël depuis l'Ethiopie débuta par la remise d'un survêtement et l'attribution d'un nouveau patronyme, Shaï à la place d'Ashto. Il raconte qu'il est interdit d'entrée dans les nightclubs et insulté dans la rue. Un spectateur hurle alors sa colère : "C'est une pièce du répertoire d'Habima ?"

 

Pardo ne s'est pas excusé d'avoir mis la culture traditionnelle éthiopienne au coeur du festival. "Depuis 30 ans, les Israéliens associent la communauté éthiopienne au racisme, à la misère et aux meurtres", affirme-t-il. "Ils firent une fois un travail de recherche, et presque toute la presse a réagi négativement. Même s'il s'agit d'un sujet divertissant, l'auteur de l'article évoquera toujours une mère de 10 enfants dans le besoin, omettant les aspects positifs. Nous sommes venus à Habima, dans le centre de Tel Aviv, nous avons été bien accueillis. La plupart des gens nous demandent où nous étions jusqu'à présent", ajoute Pardo.

 

Le Sigdiada, dont un des sponsors improbables n'est autre qu'Agmon, une association de vétérans du Mossad, est au coeur de l'effort pour faire du Sigd une fête nationale au même titre que la Mimouna, cette fête d'origine juive marocaine qui se déroule à l'issue de la semaine de Pessah (la Pâque juive).

 

Ce fut une bonne année pour la communauté éthiopienne, qui est actuellement représentée par deux députés à la Knesset (Parlement israélien), Shimon Solomon et Pnina Tamano-Shata, tous les deux du parti du centre_droit Yesh Atid de Yaïr Lapid. Elle est également personnifiée par Yityish Aynaw, la nouvelle Miss Israël et par Tahunia Rubel, un mannequin qui a remporté en août dernier le reality-show Big Brother. Gili Yalo, le chanteur du groupe Zvoulon Dub System, a déclaré avec enthousiasme sur la scène du festival : "La communauté éthiopienne est tout à fait épanouie. Nous avons même nos stars".

 

Des hommes politiques se sont également rendus au festival. Des membres de Yesh Atid ont distribué des ballons aux enfants. Le maire de Tel Aviv, Ron Huldaï, fraîchement réélu entre temps, a sautillé et dansé sans réserves avec les filles du groupe Almaz. "Il vient encore chercher quelques voix avant les élections", explique un des participants.

 

Le site de la mairie de Tel Aviv et plusieurs médias ont annoncé qu'il s'agissait de la première Sigdiada, bien que ce ne soit pas le cas. Ce fut effectivement la première fois que le festival s'est tenu à Habima, mais il se déroula l'année dernière dans le quartier Florentin dans le sud de Tel Aviv.

 

Pardo envisage cependant de retourner au théâtre Habima et d'étendre le festival sur plusieurs jours. "La Mimouna aussi a bien dû commencer quelque part", dit-il. Il a particulièrement été enthousiasmé par la queue au stand du pain Injera. "Cette file de gens me rappelle mon expérience à Manhattan lorsqu'on ouvre un nouveau magasin", ajoute-t-il.

"Ce fut une expérience visuelle", conclut Pardo

 

 

MIDDLE EAST CRISIS POINTS: TURKEY UNDER ERDOGAN, AFGHANISTAN UNDER, AND AFTER, KARZAI

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, 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: rob@isranet.org

 

 

 Contents:         

 

Download today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf

 

 

Candidly Speaking: Turkey’s Erdogan – An Autocratic Islamist Bigot: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 28, 2013 — After over 50 years of Israeli-Turkish intelligence cooperation, the Turkish disclosure to Iran of the identities of Mossad operatives – apparently subsequently executed – illustrates the depths to which Israel-Turkey relations have descended under Islamist autocrat Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan Taking Turkey Back 1000 Years With ‘Reforms’: Amir Taheri, New York Post, Oct. 4, 2013— Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan this week [Sept. 30, 2013]unveiled his long-promised “reform package” to “chart the path of the nation” for the next 10 years — that is, through 2023, 100 years after the founding of Turkey as a republic. Which is ironic, since Erdogan seems bent on abolishing that republic in all but name.

Is Iraq’s Present Afghanistan’s Future?: Max Boot, Commentary,  Oct. 28, 2013— Back in 2011, President Obama tried briefly and not very hard to attain a Status of Forces Agreement that would have allowed U.S. forces to remain in Iraq past 2011. That effort failed, as we know, with disastrous consequences–the civil war that was all but extinguished by the surge in 2007-2008 has reignited with a vengeance as al-Qaeda in Iraq has come roaring back from the grave.

Why U.S. Troops Want to Stay in Afghanistan: Michael M. Phillips, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 25, 2013— U.S. and Afghan politicians are in the middle of a heated debate over whether a small American and NATO force will remain in Afghanistan at the end of next year.

 

On Topic Links

 

Thorn in the Side: Why is Turkey Sheltering a Dangerous Hamas Operative?: Jonathan Schanzer, Foreign Policy, Sep. 17, 2013

Turkey Goes From Honest Broker to Iranian Ally: Mahir Zeynalov, Al-Arabiya, Oct. 27, 2013

The Taliban’s New Tactic to Derail Afghanistan’s Elections: Najib Sharifi, Foreign Policy, Oct. 29, 2013

Afghan Elections: the Warlords are Back: Ron Moreau & Sami Yousafzai, The Daily Beast, Oct. 16, 2013

 

CANDIDLY SPEAKING: TURKEY’S ERDOGAN-

AN AUTOCRATIC ISLAMIST BIGOT

Isi Leibler
Jerusalem Post, Oct. 28, 2013

 

After over 50 years of Israeli-Turkish intelligence cooperation, the Turkish disclosure to Iran of the identities of Mossad operatives – apparently subsequently executed – illustrates the depths to which Israel-Turkey relations have descended under Islamist autocrat Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan seeks to conceal his true intentions and convey the illusion that he is himself a role model for an enlightened Islam which blends with democracy.

 

Nothing could be further from the truth. Erdogan is a fanatical Islamist and a vile bigot who lavishes praise on the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Hezbollah and whose behavior is more reminiscent of an Ottoman sultan than a democratically elected leader. Erdogan has employed Islamist demagoguery to win three elections and has exploited his power and position to intimidate the media and destroy the opposition. He has purged the army of its secular officers through primitive show trials and brutally repressed freedom of speech. Today, there are more imprisoned journalists in Turkey than in Communist China and perhaps any other country in the world…

 

Since his demagogic outburst against President Shimon Peres in Davos live on TV in January 2009, followed by his dramatic storming out of the meeting, Erdogan’s attitude toward Israel has dramatically deteriorated. He shamelessly allies himself with the genocidal Hamas and refers to Israel as a “terrorist state” which “massacres children” and “knows well how to kill.” Only a few weeks ago, Erdogan hosted Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Turkey for the third time in 12 months. Clearly, he reached the conclusion that as a major global Israel-basher he reaps dividends among the Arab masses and furthers his dream of becoming head of a new Ottoman Sunni empire.

 

Erdogan’s anti-Zionism is a natural extension of his anti-Semitism. As far back as 1974, he directed and played a leading role in a play entitled Maskomya, based on the evil global influence of Jews, Communists and Freemasons. As mayor of Istanbul in 1998, he stated, “Today the image of the Jews is no different from that of the Nazis.” In 2006 he endorsed the popular virulent anti-Semitic film Valley of the Wolves about an American Jew who trades in body parts. He blamed the Gezi Park environmental protest on the “interest rate lobby,” the “dual loyalists” and the “rootless cosmopolitans,” clear references to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. His deputy explicitly attributed the blame for the riots on the Jewish Diaspora. Erdogan has made outrageous statements in international circles. At a UN conference in Vienna in February, Erdogan stated, “Just like Zionism and fascism, Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity.”

 

Only a few weeks ago he blamed Israel for the upheavals in Egypt, stating, “What is said about Egypt? That democracy is not about the box. Who was behind this? Israel is. We have evidence in our hands.” When subsequently pressed to substantiate this xenophobic outburst, all he could do was to quote the French Jewish philosopher Bernard Henri Levy (not an Israeli) who had made negative references to the Muslim Brotherhood in 2001. One of Erdogan’s favorite remarks is “There is no Islamic terror.” He also publicly undermines American efforts to boycott Iran and continues to provide Tehran with reliable trade outlets. Nonetheless, the US still considers Turkey a principal ally with which it shares “bonds of trust.”…

 

The surreal nature of Turkish influence is best exemplified by the ongoing story of the Mavi Marmara flotillas that sought to break Israel’s weapons embargo on Gaza in May 2010. Following the international incident, Erdogan demanded that Israel issue an unequivocal apology for the death of nine Turkish protesters associated with al-Qaida who were aboard the boat. When Israel acted in accordance with the ruling of an independent UN inquiry that found that it need not apologize for the loss of lives, Erdogan recalled his ambassador, orchestrated show trials against IDF personnel, and sought to exclude Israel from global organizations, including NATO – this, from a leader who has never acknowledged his country’s massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in World War I.

 

Following his visit to Israel in March 2013, President Barack Obama allegedly pressed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to apologize and pay compensation to the Turkish terrorists’ families. Despite bitter condemnation in Israel, Netanyahu complied in order to restore relations with Turkey so that Israel and Turkey could cooperate on issues emerging in Syria. Erdogan agreed to cooperate with Israel at all levels. But, unsurprisingly, the Turkish prime minister has failed to adhere to his commitment. Immediately after Israeli issued its apology, Erdogan announced his intention to visit Gaza, and demanded Israel lift its maritime blockade against Hamas. Six months later, Erdogan still has not restored diplomatic relations nor suspended the show trials of senior Israeli officials. The Greek ambassador to Israel informed The Jerusalem Post that Turkey was still continuing to block Israel’s participation in NATO . This month, President Abdullah Gul stated that Israel had extended its apology “too late.”

 

In light of this, it is disappointing that Obama continues to praise Erdogan as a “moderate Islamist” who “has shown great leadership,” ignoring the fact that he has effectively violated all the undertakings brokered by him in relation to Israel and continues to actively undermine efforts to impose sanctions on Iran . Not to mention that only a few weeks ago Erdogan announced a “strategic partnership” with China. The reality is that while the inveterate anti-Semite Erdogan has his way, he will veto any efforts to improve relationships with Israel, despite the major strategic and economic benefits that would accrue to both countries. Thus, even if the US clings to the fantasy that Turkey represents a moderate, democratically influenced form of Islam, we should not delude ourselves. Erdogan is running an anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli regime that supports Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. As long as he remains in power, Israel-Turkish relations will remain cold at best.

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ERDOGAN TAKING TURKEY BACK 1000 YEARS WITH ‘REFORMS’

Amir Taheri

New York Post, Oct. 4, 2013

 

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan this week [Sept. 30, 2013] unveiled his long-promised “reform package” to “chart the path of the nation” for the next 10 years — that is, through 2023, 100 years after the founding of Turkey as a republic. Which is ironic, since Erdogan seems bent on abolishing that republic in all but name. His plan to amend the Constitution to replace the long-tested parliamentary system with a presidential one (with himself as president and commander-in-chief) is only part of it. He’d also undo the key achievement of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

 

In the 1920s, Ataturk created the Turkish nation from the debris of the Ottoman Empire. Ataturk and the military and intellectual elite around him replaced Islam as the chief bond between the land’s many ethnic communities with Turkish nationhood. Over the past 90 years, this project has not had 100 percent success. Nevertheless, it managed to create a strong sense of bonding among a majority of the citizens.

 

Now Erdogan is out to undermine that in two ways. First, his package encourages many Turks to redefine their identities as minorities. For example, he has discovered the Lezgin minority and promises to allow its members to school their children in “their own language.” Almost 20 percent of Turkey’s population may be of Lezgin and other Caucasian origin (among them the Charkess, Karachai, Udmurt and Dagestanis). Yet almost all of those have long forgotten their origins and melted in the larger pot of Turkish identity. What is the point of encouraging the re-emergence of minority identities?

 

Meanwhile, Erdogan is offering little to minorities that have managed to retain their identity over the past nine decades. Chief among these are the Kurds, 15 percent of the population. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, the AKP, partly owes its successive election victories to the Kurds. Without the Kurdish vote, AKP could not have collected more than 40 percent of the votes. Yet his package offers Kurds very little. They would be allowed to use their language, but not to write it in their own alphabet. Nor could they use “w” and other letters that don’t exist in the Turkish-Latin alphabet but are frequent in Kurdish. Kurdish leaders tell me that the package grants no more than 5 percent of what they had demanded in long negotiations with Erdogan. Another real minority that gets little are the Alevites, who practice a moderate version of Islam and have acted as a chief support for secularism in Turkey. While Erdogan uses the resources of the state to support Sunni Islam, Alevites can’t even get building permits to construct their own places of prayer. Armenians, too, get nothing — not even a promise of an impartial inquest into allegations of genocide against them in 1915.

 

The second leg of Erdogan’s strategy is to re-energize his Islamist base. Hundreds of associations controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood are to take over state-owned mosques, religious sites and endowment properties — thus offering AKP a vast power base across Turkey. Indirectly, Erdogan is telling Turks to stop seeing themselves as citizens of a secular state and, instead, as minorities living in a state dominated by the Sunni Muslim majority. Call it neo-Ottomanism. Erdogan is using “Manzikert” as a slogan to sell his package. Yet this refers to a battle between the Seljuk Sultan Alp Arsalan and the Byzantine Emperor Romanos in 1071, the first great victory of Muslim armies against Christians in Asia Minor. It happened centuries before the Ottoman Turks arrived in the region. Invoking the battle as a victory of Islam against “the Infidel,” Erdogan supposedly has an eye on the battle’s thousandth anniversary. Does he mean to take Turkey back 1,000 years? The Ottoman system divided the sultan’s subjects according to religious faith into dozens of “mullahs,” each allowed to enforce its own laws in personal and private domains while paying a poll tax. It’s doubtful most Turks share Erdogan’s dream of recreating a mythical Islamic state with himself as caliph, albeit under the title of president. His effort to redefine Turkey’s republican and secular identity may wind up revitalizing it.

Contents

 

IS IRAQ’S PRESENT AFGHANISTAN’S FUTURE?

Max Boot

Commentary, Oct. 29, 2013

 

Back in 2011, President Obama tried briefly and not very hard to attain a Status of Forces Agreement that would have allowed U.S. forces to remain in Iraq past 2011. That effort failed, as we know, with disastrous consequences–the civil war that was all but extinguished by the surge in 2007-2008 has reignited with a vengeance as al-Qaeda in Iraq has come roaring back from the grave. As the Washington Post notes, recent violence in Iraq “has virtually erased the security gains made in the past five years. More than 5,300 Iraqis have been killed this year.”

 

There are many reasons why the U.S.-Iraq accord failed to be completed. One of the less noticed but more important was Obama’s unwillingness to send more than a few thousand U.S. troops to Iraq in spite of U.S. commanders’ recommendations that he send at least 15,000 to 20,000. Many Iraqi politicians figured that a commitment of fewer than 5,000 U.S. troops would be mainly symbolic and ineffectual and would not be worth the resulting political controversy.

 

Is history repeating itself in Afghanistan? It’s too soon to say, but there is cause for concern when one reads articles like this one in the New York Times today reporting that “NATO has endorsed an enduring presence of 8,000 to 12,000 troops, with two-thirds expected to be American.” That translates into 5,300 to 8,000 U.S. troops, considerably below the 13,600 that Gen. Jim Mattis, former commander of Central Command, estimated to be necessary–and that itself was a low-ball estimate in the judgment of many military experts.

 

At some point there is a real risk of Afghan politicos, like their Iraqi counterparts, deciding there is no point in having their sovereignty violated and being exposed to anti-American criticism in return for a token force that can accomplish little. If that were to happen, the future of Afghanistan isn’t hard to imagine. Just look at Iraq today–only Afghanistan will probably be worse off because it faces a more malignant insurgency with more entrenched cross-border bases and its government and security forces are weaker than their Iraqi counterparts.

 

Contents

 

WHY U.S. TROOPS WANT TO STAY IN AFGHANISTAN

Michael M. Phillips

Wall Street Journal, October 25, 2013

 

U.S. and Afghan politicians are in the middle of a heated debate over whether a small American and NATO force will remain in Afghanistan at the end of next year. But what’s a political and strategic question at the negotiating table is an emotional question at bases around Afghanistan, where soldiers watch the discussions with one eye on their sacrifices over the past 12 years and the other on the American withdrawal from Vietnam four decades ago. In short, they don’t want to go home without the win.

 

After repeated combat tours, an untold number of divorces and nearly 2,300 U.S. dead, American servicemen want their losses in Afghanistan to have been worth it. For many of them, that means keeping a residual force here to help the Afghans fend off a resurgent Taliban. The sense is especially sharp among elite special-operations troops. They were the first U.S. forces on the ground in Afghanistan in 2001, fighting alongside Northern Alliance rebels to oust the Taliban regime that had sheltered Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. And they are the ones likely to form the backbone of any force the U.S. would leave in place to buttress the Afghan military and government after the bulk of coalition forces withdraw by the end of next year. “There’s some ownership of this,” says Maj. Gen. Austin Scott Miller, who has spent three years in Afghanistan since 2001 and now commands allied special-operating forces there. “There are people who have been here since the beginning.”

 

The U.S. military would like to keep close to 9,000 American troops in Afghanistan after 2014, with a smaller contribution from allied nations, according to a senior Obama administration official. That force would likely be heavy with Army Green Berets, Marine Corps special-operations troops, Navy SEALs and other specialized units, which work closely with select Afghan forces. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Afghan President Hamid Karzai made progress this month in hammering out an accord that would allow a continued American and NATO military presence beyond 2014. But the deal is still hung up on several points, including the touchy question of whether U.S. troops would be subject to Afghan law. Mr. Karzai has said that he won’t approve immunity for foreign troops unless it is approved by a gathering of traditional Afghan leaders, or Loya Jirga. A similar immunity dispute sank U.S. efforts to leave a rump force in Iraq in 2011. “We’d like to stay in the long term, and our [Afghan National Security Force] partners have indicated they want us to stay,” says Gen. Miller. “The relationships between us run deep after 12 years.”

 

The ignominious U.S. exit from Vietnam—helicopters lifting the last Americans and desperate Vietnamese from a Saigon rooftop—isn’t far from the minds of U.S. troops as American participation winds down in Afghanistan. A more personal fear, perhaps, is becoming like the Vietnam veterans of popular imagination, bitter over losing their friends and their youth in a failed effort to prevent a Communist takeover of the country’s south…

 

It isn’t that U.S. commanders express pessimism about the outcome in Afghanistan; Gen. Miller and Col. Roberson say that Afghan troops are better able than ever before to take on the insurgents. Nationwide, they often operate virtually independent of coalition support, although Afghan military casualties are soaring as a result. Still, there’s pervasive sense among elite U.S. troops that the end of next year is too early to go home. In Helmand’s Kajaki district, where the U.S. built a hydroelectric dam 60 years ago, one Marine staff sergeant reflected recently on his third Afghan tour in four years. He missed his daughter’s birth two months ago; he was on emergency leave, rushing home from the battlefield, when his wife went into labor. He has lost two very close friends in Afghanistan. He escorted one friend’s body home. Despite the heavy price—or perhaps because of it—he says: “I think we need to have the conviction as special-operating forces to finish this fight…”

 

In the headquarters building at a major base, Lt. Col. Joe McGraw, commander of 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, often finds himself walking a hallway lined with the photos of young Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen killed in Helmand province over the past 12 years. “You walk down that hallway and realize it’s not dozens—it’s hundreds and hundreds,” he says. The price paid in “blood and flesh” makes it hard for Lt. Col. McGraw to swallow the idea of leaving too early. “Nobody comes over here looking to lose,” he says.

Still, the elite troops recognize that the very concept of victory is elusive in Afghanistan, where religion, politics, corruption and crime mix together to muddy the definition of friend and foe. No matter how long U.S. forces stay, they say, there is unlikely to be a final battle or surrender. One Marine major—who has missed half of the Christmases in his son’s seven years—says, “For something like this, winning and losing is too black and white.” Afghanistan, he predicts, will long have pockets of violence. But, he says, however the next few years play out, the war has already achieved its major goal. “I don’t think there’s an al Qaeda-type element who will ever come back into power and threaten my country and my family,” says the major. “That’s victory to me.”

 

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Thorn in the Side: Why is Turkey Sheltering a Dangerous Hamas Operative?: Jonathan Schanzer, Foreign Policy, Sep. 17, 2013—Turkey is a member of NATO and an aspiring member of the European Union — but it has one alliance that sets it apart from its Western counterparts: It's an important base of operations for at least one high-ranking member of the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Turkey Goes From Honest Broker to Iranian Ally: Mahir Zeynalov, Al-Arabiya, Oct. 27, 2013—A few years ago, Turkey was the only country that could talk to everyone in a Middle East where distrust among nations is a prevailing mentality. Mishandling crises in most states hit by the mass uprising, Ankara was left alone. Officials in Ankara preferred to describe its international standing “precious loneliness.”

The Taliban’s New Tactic to Derail Afghanistan’s Elections: Najib Sharifi, Foreign Policy, Oct. 29, 2013— The assassination of Amanullah Aman, the Chief Election Officer of Afghanistan's Kunduz province, in September should be taken seriously, as it could mark the beginning of a devastating terror campaign targeting election workers that could potentially paralyze next April's presidential elections.

Afghan Elections: the Warlords are Back: Ron Moreau & Sami Yousafzai, The Daily Beast, Oct. 16, 2013— As the country gears up for presidential elections, several prominent warlords have already thrown their hat in the ring—including Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, the onetime mentor of Osama bin Laden and one of the country’s most powerful anti-Taliban voices. Ron Moreau and Sami Yousafzai report on the rogue’s gallery of candidates.

 

 

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

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

Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, 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

 

 

Contents:  Weekly Quotes |  Short Takes On Topic Links

 

 


Download a pdf version of today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf

 On Topic Links

 

“The release of terrorists is immoral, weakens Israel, endangers Israeli citizens…Israel has humiliated itself for the last 20 years with terrorist release deals, and it is time to put an end to it…This is due to the injustice that these evil doers are being freed without completing their sentence. My heart is with the bereaved families and the heart hurts,” Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home Party, wrote on his Facebook page in response to reports of the upcoming release of 26 Palestinian prisoners. (National Post, Oct. 29, 2013)

 

“My heart is with the bereaved families, and it pains me…This decision is a necessity given the reality in which we live.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressing the harsh dissent voiced about the peace-process-related release in recent days of Palestinian prisoners with “blood on their hands” from right-wing members of his government. Mr. Netanyahu said that since the decision had been made, all ministers “must act responsibly, with deliberation, and with a long-term perspective.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (New York Times, Oct. 28, 2013)

 

“In any other place in the world, if someone murdered a Jew and the government wanted to release him, we would shout that it’s an injustice,” MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi) responding to reports of the upcoming release of Palestinian prisoners. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 29, 2013)

 

“Unfortunately, Prime Minister Maliki's mismanagement of Iraqi politics is contributing to the recent surge of violence. By too often pursuing a sectarian and authoritarian agenda, Prime Minister Maliki and his allies are disenfranchising Sunni Iraqis, marginalizing Kurdish Iraqis, and alienating the many Shia Iraqis who have a democratic, inclusive, and pluralistic vision for their country. This failure of governance is driving many Sunni Iraqis into the arms of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and fueling the rise of violence, which in turn is radicalizing Shia Iraqi communities and leading many Shia militant groups to remobilize. These were the same conditions that drove Iraq toward civil war during the last decade, and we fear that fate could befall Iraq once again.” Letter by a bi-partisan group of U.S. senators to President Obama warning that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s “mismanagement” of Iraqi politics had contributed to the surge of violence there. (New York Times, Oct. 29, 2013)

 

“For any political solution to be successful, it is crucial to halt support for terrorist groups and the countries that sponsor them, facilitate the entry of terrorist mercenaries and offer them money, weapons and logistical support…The Syrian people alone are entitled to draw the future of Syria. Any solution must be approved by them and reflect their wishes away from any foreign intervention. This is paramount to prepare the circumstances for dialogue and put clear mechanisms that achieve this goal,” Syrian President Bashar Assad told the Arab League-U.N. envoy Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. (Washington Post, Oct. 30, 2013)

 

“The current charade of international control over Bashar’s chemical arsenal would be funny if it were not so blatantly perfidious, and designed not only to give Mr. Obama an opportunity to back down but also to help Assad to butcher his people,” Prince Turki, a member of the Saudi royal family and a former director of Saudi intelligence. (New York Times, Oct. 23, 2013)

 

“I will refuse, fiercely and until I die, to choose between the bitterness of the military or manipulators of religion…I will emigrate, because I don’t find that which expresses the spirit of the great revolution between those conflicting interests…Until we meet at the next revolution.” Cairo book publisher Mohamed Hashem, after announcing on Facebook his decision to leave Egypt. “They said, ‘You’re being a coward, and running away,” Hashem said. Other people supported his action. One online comment, by Mohamed Abdel Nasser, stated that Mr. Hashem’s was the only proper response until Egypt’s “madness” was over. (New York Times, Oct. 22, 2013)

 

“The president’s goal is to avoid having events in the Middle East swallow his foreign policy agenda, as it had those of presidents before him…We can’t just be consumed 24/7 by one region, important as it is,” Rice said, adding, “He thought it was a good time to step back and reassess, in a very critical and kind of no-holds-barred way, how we conceive the region.” Susan Rice, President Obama’s National Security Advisor. (New York Times, Oct. 26, 2013) 

 

“America’s allies should be grateful for surveillance operations which targeted terrorist threats…I would argue by the way, if the French citizens knew exactly what that was about, they would be applauding and popping champagne corks,” Mike Rogers, the chairman of the intelligence committee in the House of Representatives, responding on CNN’s State of the Union to reports of the NSA’s global eavesdropping operation and its targeting of world leaders. “It’s a good thing. it keeps the French safe. It keeps the US safe. It keeps our European allies safe,” Rogers’ said. (The Daily Telegraph, Oct. 27, 2013)

 

“I nearly fell off my rickety British chair today when former UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw spoke at the Round Table Global Diplomatic Forum in the British House of Commons. Listing the greatest obstacles to peace, he said "unlimited" funds available to Jewish organizations and AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] in the US are used to control and divert American policy in the region,” former Member of Knesset Einat Wilf reported on her Facebook page. Straw also blamed “Germany's ‘obsession’ with defending Israel,” she said, adding, “I guess he neglected to mention Jewish control of the media…”. (Arutz Sheva, Oct. 27, 2013)

Contents

 

SHORT TAKES

 

 

AJC SURVEY: AMERICAN JEW’S SUPPORT FOR US STRIKE ON IRAN DROPS

(Washington) The annual American Jewish Committee poll of American Jews shows a decrease in support for a US strike on Iran should diplomacy not end its suspected nuclear weapons program.

According to the 2013 poll released Monday, 52 percent of American Jews favor such a strike — 24 percent strongly and 28 percent somewhat. In last year’s poll, 64.1 percent of respondents said they would support such a strike — 36.1 percent somewhat and 28 percent strongly. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 29, 2013)

 

EU SHIFTS TACTICS TO BOLSTER IRAN SANCTIONS(Brussels) The European Union is moving to a new approach in reinforcing its Iran sanctions regime in a bid to prevent legal challenges by companies from undermining the West's efforts to counter Tehran's nuclear program. In recent weeks, the EU has informed more than a dozen companies with ties to Iran that have won rulings against previous restrictions that it plans to target them with new sanctions, an EU official said. The notices to the companies mark the first attempt in a broader effort to shore up economic sanctions against Iran after a raft of defeats in European courts last month…Western diplomats have credited the tighter EU restrictions on Iran's financial, energy and shipping industries since 2010 as playing a key role in forcing Tehran back to the negotiating table over its nuclear activities. (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 27, 2013)

 

SLOWDOWN OR SHOWDOWN EN ROUTE TO NEW IRAN SANCTIONS BILL(Washington) Concerned about a lack of support in the Senate for the administration’s plan to delay a new Iran sanctions bill, starting Wednesday the Obama administration is dispatching top-tier advocates to press the president’s cause on Capitol Hill. The push is expected to culminate in a closed-door meeting of the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday during which Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew are slated to make the administration’s case to delay any additional sanctions legislation. (The Times of Israel, Oct. 30, 2013)

 

OBAMA UNAWARE AS U.S. SPIED ON WORLD LEADERS: OFFICIALS(Washington) President Barack Obama went nearly five years without knowing his own spies were bugging the phones of world leaders. Officials said the NSA has so many eavesdropping operations under way that it wouldn’t have been practical to brief him on all of them. They added that the president was briefed on and approved of broader intelligence-collection “priorities,” but that those below him make decisions about specific intelligence targets. (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 27, 2013)

 

IAF ATTACKS GAZA TARGETS IN RESPONSE TO ROCKET FIRE ON SOUTH ISRAEL— (Tel Aviv) The Israel Air Force attacked the Gaza Strip on Monday morning, shortly after Palestinian militants fired two rockets at southern Israel. The Israel Defense Forces said it identified precise hits on two rocket launching squads and that the IAF aircraft returned safely to their bases. "The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm the citizens of the State of Israel or its soldiers and will continue to operate against any element that uses terror against the State of Israel," the IDF spokesperson said in a statement. The IDF added that it holds the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip responsible for the rocket fire: "The Hamas terrorist organization is the address and holds responsibility," the spokesperson said. The rockets, fired early Monday morning toward Israel, caused no injuries or damage . The Iron Dome system intercepted one of the rockets over Ashkelon. (Ha’aretz, Oct. 28, 2013)

 

ENDING A 1.5 YEAR BOYCOTT, ISRAEL IS RESUMING COOPERATION WITH UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL(Jerusalem) Israel will renew its cooperation with the United Nations’ Human Rights Council after a year and a half of boycott, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided on Sunday. In light of the decision, Israel will take part in the Council’s periodical hearings regarding human rights in Geneva on Tuesday, a senior Israeli official said…Over the last few weeks, the Foreign Ministry has been preparing a special report regarding human rights in Israel and the measures taken by the Israel Defense Forces to prevent harm to innocent civilians in the West Bank.The prime minster decided to renew ties with the UN Human Rights Council in light of pressure applied by the governments of the U.S. and Germany. (Ha’aretz, Oct. 27, 2013)

 

SYRIAN OFFICIAL SACKED OVER PEACE PUSH(Damascus) — Syria's president sacked a deputy prime minister who met U.S. officials over the weekend for acting without permission, the official government news agency said Tuesday. Qadri Jamil held talks with U.S. officials in Geneva over the weekend to discuss the possibility of holding a peace conference for Syria in that city, according to a U.N. official. No breakthroughs were reported to have come out of the talks. The U.N. official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions.

 

NOBELS AND NATIONAL GREATNESS(New York) Regarding the number of Israeli Nobel Prize winners, the Jewish state should be a Nobel powerhouse. Jews, 0.2% of the world's population, have won 20% of all Nobels, including six prizes this year alone. But while Israel can claim nine living laureates, three of them live and teach mainly in the U.S. Why? "There are a lot of smart people in Israel and at the same time there was not a job, so he left," Benny Shalev, brother of this year's chemistry winner, Arieh Warshel, explained to the newspaper Ha’aretz. Brett Stephens in the Wall Street Journal, Oct. 14, 2013

 

“NO WOMAN, NO DRIVE”: BEHIND THE VIRAL VIDEO(Washington) The idea behind the viral video ”No Woman, No Drive,” came to Saudi comedian Hisham Fageeh in the shower. He was singing Bob Marley to himself and the idea started turning around in his head. A couple of months later, when Twitter was abuzz with talk that Saudi Arabian women would defy the ban on driving by mounting a demonstration on October 26, Fageeh and his two friends, Saudi musicians Fahad Albutairi and Alaa Wardi, decided to produce a video to coincide with the day of protest. In the end, some 60 women defiantly took the wheel in the ultra-conservative Kingdom of Saudi of Arabia, but around the world almost 3 million (and counting) have watched Fageeh’s politically charged reggae spoof mocking the ban. (The Daily Beast, Oct. 28, 2013)

 

 

KING, Joseph
September 21, 1923 – October 26, 2013
CIJR notes the sudden passing of Joe King, the well-known pro-Israel Montreal journalist and author. A native of Toronto, his professional career took him to the four corners of the world, but particularly to the Middle East (19 visits in war and peace). His major publications include a trilogy on Montreal Jewish history ("From the Ghetto to the Main," "Baron Byng to Bagels," and "Fabled City"), "The Jewish Contribution to the Modern World" and "The Case for Israel", as a handbook and DVD. (Montreal Gazette, Oct. 28, 2013)

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Editor, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research/L'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme,   www.isranet.org Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284. mailto:ber@isranet.org

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

CRISIS IN SYRIA: U.S. WITHDRAWL LEAVES VACUUM FILLED BY IRAN, RUSSIA- AS ISRAEL SEEKS ALLY (DRUSE) THE SLAUGHTER CONTINUES

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, 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

 

 

 Contents:         

 

Download today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf

 

 

Syria’s Brutality Continues at Will: Michael Gerson, Washington Post, Oct. 28, 2013 — While chemical weapons disarmament proceeds in Syria, so do mass attacks on civilians. In the eastern suburbs of Damascus, where the regime used sarin, it now conducts a siege, blocking the entrance of food and the exit of refugees.
Syrian Stalemate: Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, Jerusalem Report, Oct. 7, 2013— The dizzying events of the past few weeks, in which an imminent American military strike against Syria was delayed pending congressional approval and then indefinitely shelved by a US-Russian deal to quarantine and ultimately dispose of Syria’s massive chemical weapons arsenal, have highlighted anew a number of enduring features of modern Middle East politics.

Hezbollah Prepares for Syria Showdown in al-Qalamoun: Jamie Dettmer, The Daily Beast, Oct. 29, 2013— The Iranian-backed Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah is poised to launch a much-anticipated offensive to the north of Damascus in a counterinsurgency campaign that is likely to prompt hand-wringing in Washington and more Saudi frustration with Western inaction in Syria.

Druse State in Syria Could be Israeli Ally: Ariel Ben Solomon, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 29, 2013— Whether one wishes it or not, Syria may be on the way to partition or some kind of de facto break-up along the lines of ethnic division, regardless of what locals or the West want. Would such a break-up work in Israel’s favor?

 

On Topic Links

 

Mr. Kerry’s Empty Words on Syria: Editorial Board, Washington Post, Oct. 28, 2013

Putting Out the Syrian Fire: Rami G. Khouri, New York Times, Oct. 23, 2013

For Syrian Refugees in Jordan, Aid From Israel Comes in a Whisper: Debra Kamin, The Times of Israel,  Oct. 20, 2013

Syria’s War Viewed Almost in Real Time: Melik Kaylan, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 27, 2013

 

SYRIA’S BRUTALITY CONTINUES AT WILL

Michael Gerson
Washington Post, Oct. 28, 2013

 

While chemical weapons disarmament proceeds in Syria, so do mass attacks on civilians. In the eastern suburbs of Damascus, where the regime used sarin, it now conducts a siege, blocking the entrance of food and the exit of refugees. This technique involves less sophisticated chemistry, but it is still effective. Aid workers report hunger and malnutrition. Through trial and error, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is finding ways to attack women and children that the world finds more acceptable.

 

Events in Syria strain recent historical comparisons. Only Syria and Afghanistan have experienced the displacement of more than 6 million people. Only the violence in Syria and Rwanda has displaced tens of thousands in a single day. A third of the Syrian population has been forced from their homes; perhaps 100,000 are dead. As the conflict grows more chaotic, it becomes more opaque. Fewer journalists are willing to risk the growing anarchy, banditry and kidnapping. And the proliferation of rebel groups, some disturbingly radical, have left many confused about whom to pull for. The result is a vast tragedy within Syria and a vast emotional numbing outside it. Sooner or later the moral sensations return, leaving historians to wonder how such atrocities were allowed to recur. But Syria is not only a humanitarian nightmare. The rise of jihadist groups in the Syrian civil war — which has dissipated American sympathy for the rebellion — has also raised the strategic stakes of the conflict. The establishment of safe havens for these jihadist groups in large portions of Syria would destabilize the region and expand the capabilities and reach of global terrorism. (Recall what creative extremists accomplished from bases in Afghanistan.)

 

The main strategic question comes down to this: Who will be able to fight al-Qaeda? America doesn’t want the job. In Afghanistan and Iraq, we have spent tens of billions on training and equipment, attempting to transfer this role to their governments. In Syria, the government is brutal, sectarian and propped up by outsiders (Hezbollah and Iranian forces). Even with this support, Assad will not be able to reestablish effective control over regions he has alienated or savaged. He has shattered his legitimacy along with his country. Few would disagree on the best outcome: An interim government composed of moderate opposition elements and members of the Assad regime (other than Assad) who want to be part of a new Syria — a government that can begin to reduce violence in much of the country while going after al-Qaeda. But Assad believes he is winning and that the chemical weapons deal assures the continuation of his power. And the moderate opposition is weak — caught in a two-front war against the regime and al-Qaeda, and inadequately supported by the United States.

 

America is accustomed to arming and training friendly governments, but the training of non-state actors is a riskier proposition. It has caused serious objections in Congress and in parts of the Obama administration. The resulting indecision has further complicated matters. The Syrian National Coalition — the main opposition umbrella group — has fractured in frustration. And aid to the responsible opposition has gotten no easier with every border checkpoint between Turkey and Syria controlled by extremists. After years of inaction, America now stares some unpleasant strategic realities in the face: Six months from now, will any responsible opposition be left to support? Will America have any acceptable partners in the fight against al-Qaeda in Syria?

 

With limited leverage on the ground, American policy increasingly depends on a desperate Russian play. For a year and a half, the Obama administration has argued that Russia’s support for Assad is resulting in a disintegrating state that may transform northern Syria into Somalia or Yemen. Does this really serve Russian interests? If it was too risky to allow chemical weapons to float around in a disintegrating Syria — which terrorists might gain and use in Moscow — isn’t it also risky to allow terrorist havens so near Russia’s southern border? Wouldn’t it be better to offer Assad a nice dacha somewhere, allowing a consensus government to emerge out of peace negotiations? The argument has the virtue of being correct. But there is no indication the Russians are buying it. It is tempting — with civilians under siege, millions displaced, Congress conflicted and Russia intransigent — to conclude that engagement is pointless because things could hardly get worse. Unfortunately, things could get much worse — unless someone in Syria is readied to oppose the extremists.

                                                                                Contents
                                       

SYRIAN STALEMATE

Bruce Maddy-Weitzman

Jerusalem Report, Oct. 7, 2013

 

The dizzying events of the past few weeks, in which an imminent American military strike against Syria was delayed pending congressional approval and then indefinitely shelved by a US-Russian deal to quarantine and ultimately dispose of Syria’s massive chemical weapons arsenal, have highlighted anew a number of enduring features of modern Middle East politics.

 

As has been the case for more than two centuries, the Middle East continues to be an arena for great power competition and rivalry. The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union inaugurated a very brief, and largely illusory, period of American hegemony, beginning with Mikhail Gorbachev’s acquiescence to the American-led 1991 Gulf war against Iraq, a longtime Soviet ally. Vladimir Putin has been determined to avoid a replay of those events, and the more recent sidelining of Moscow while another longtime regional ally, Muammar Gaddafi, was toppled by NATO military intervention. Russia’s success in staving off US military action against Bashar Assad’s regime marks its return to Great Power status. Nonetheless, this does not transform Russia into the new hegemony, or return the region to the days of the Cold War, in which local wars carried the potential of morphing into a Soviet-American conflagration.

 

The Obama-Putin deal should not be seen only in zero-sum game terms, and carries at least the potential for enhancing international prohibitions against the use of weapons of mass destruction and legitimizing military action to punish violators. The proof will be in the pudding.

 

Since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, nearly a century ago, no regional hegemony has emerged, which can bring order to the region, and none is on the horizon. Great Britain and France had their fleeting, but oft-difficult, moment of dominance between the two world wars. From 1945 onwards, various bids for all-Arab leadership, mostly emanating from either Egypt or Iraq, ran up against countervailing local and international forces. The recent New York Times op-ed by two influential Saudis calling for the League of Arab States to shoulder its regional responsibility by organizing a massive force to intervene in Syria and oversee a transitional regime was utterly divorced from the reality of a weak and divided Arab state system. Turkey has made a concerted bid for regional leadership during the last decade, evoking descriptions of neo-Ottomanism, but currently finds itself with limited influence and at odds with most of its neighbors. This includes the ruling Egyptian military, which detested Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s support of the now-deposed Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood. Ankara’s early abandonment of Assad in favor of the Syrian opposition failed to produce the desired results, left Turkey with few options, and opened it up to harsh domestic criticism.

 

Thanks primarily to its alliance with the Assad family business, Iran has projected power into the eastern Mediterranean region to an extent not seen since late antiquity, just prior to the rise of Islam in the 7th century. American reluctance to unsheathe its sword against Syria was certainly noted with satisfaction in Tehran, which will be watching closely as to whether the framework for dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal is translated into action. More generally, a US-Iranian dialogue on Iran’s nuclear program may soon be renewed, which could include discussions on Syria as well. The nightmare scenario for Sunni Gulf monarchies – a US-Iranian “grand bargain” at their expense – is not in the cards, but both the Saudis and Israelis will be watching closely. More generally, Sunni-Shi’ite sectarian tensions have become far more salient than in the past. However, the prospects for a grand Sunni alliance (Turkey, Egypt and Arab monarchies) to combat Iran and its allies are as remote as the “grand bargain” scenario.

 

The Syrian state that emerged out of the wreckage of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent French mandate lacked the requisite social and political cohesion. Hafez Assad (1970-2000) combined an iron fist and considerable political skills to stabilize the country, which became an important regional actor in its own right. But the country’s centrifugal tendencies and pre-existing sectarian and communal loyalties have now reemerged with a vengeance, and the struggle to determine the future of an unraveling Syrian polity is now in full swing. For the time being, the violent stalemate in the civil war seems likely to continue, and a path towards political resolution remains absent. Assad can breathe easier for the moment, and Syrian rebel hopes for a deus ex machine in the form of American intervention have dissolved. Tragically, the millions of displaced Syrians will continue to suffer and, even worse, the number of dead (110,000) and wounded (untold) will continue to climb.

Contents

 

HEZBOLLAH PREPARES FOR SYRIA SHOWDOWN IN AL-QALAMOUN

Jamie Dettmer

The Daily Beast, Oct. 29, 2013

 

The Iranian-backed Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah is poised to launch a much-anticipated offensive to the north of Damascus in a counterinsurgency campaign that is likely to prompt hand-wringing in Washington and more Saudi frustration with Western inaction in Syria. The battle for mountainous Al-Qalamoun-a rugged region between the Syrian capital and Homs, the country’s third largest city-will be as significant in military terms when it comes, say diplomats and analysts, as the struggle in the spring for Qusair, a strategic town in sight of Lebanon, that was retaken by the Syrian army thanks to Hezbollah, whose fighters were in the vanguard of the assault.

 

Qusair’s capture goaded President Obama in June to pledge he would arm the Syrian rebels-a promise that hasn’t been fulfilled because of the administration’s worries about the growing influence of al-Qaeda affiliates in the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad. The offensive will again pit Hezbollah fighters directly against jihadists and militant Islamists. The al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamist militias Ahrar al-Sham and Liwa al-Islamhave been reinforcing towns and villages in the region to prepare for the expected Hezbollah assault. Some reports claim that as many as 20,000 rebel fighters have poured into the region, some being redeployed from Damascus suburbs.

 

A grueling confrontation in Al-Qalamoun-an area 50 miles long and 25 miles broad that runs from the rural outskirts of the Syrian capital to the Lebanese border-could see Saudi Arabia accelerate its arming of certain rebel groups that the Obama administration considers dangerous to the West, adding to strained relations between Washington and Riyadh…In a news conference earlier this month, the head of Lebanon’s pro-Assad Arab Democratic Party, warned that Saudi Arabia was planning to set Lebanon alight if Hezbollah joined the battle for Al-Qalamoun. “Saudi Arabia warned Hezbollah against participating in the battle,” he told reporters. The Al-Qalamoun region is seen as vital both by Syrian forces and the rebels. Controlling Al-Qalamoun would allow the Assad regime to secure land links between Damascus and Homs and interdict arms supplies from Lebanese Sunni supporters for the rebels coming through the border around the town of Arsal. For the regime, consolidating its hold on Homs is a priority, as it represents a central link between Syria’s interior cities and the Mediterranean coast north of Latakia, a stronghold of President Assad’s minority Alawite sect.

 

Hezbollah officials have been briefing Lebanese media outlets on an upcoming Al-Qalamoun offensive as part of an effort to manage and prepare their own followers, many of whom in the south of Lebanon have begun to express doubts about the wisdom of becoming further embroiled in their neighbor’s raging civil war. In Shiite areas of the Bekaa Valley, backing for Hezbollah engagement in Syria remains high, partly because of close family ties between Shiites on both sides of the border. But in the south,  rare behind-the scenes disgruntlement is growing with the Hezbollah leadership, says Hisham Jaber, a Shiite and retired Lebanese army general. He says southern Shiite families are questioning the wisdom of Hezbollah fighting fellow Muslims, even if they are Sunnis. “The family ties between the Shiite in the Bekaa and the Shiite in Syria is different than south Lebanon,” says Jaber. “People in south Lebanon don’t have such close ties with Syria.”

 

Lebanese officials and Western diplomats worry that Lebanon won’t be left unscathed in a prolonged battle for Al-Qalamoun. “This isn’t going to be a two-week battle like Qusair,” says a British military adviser to the Lebanese army. “The region is mountainous and the offensive will extend into the spring and there’ll be more chance of violent spillover into Lebanon.” A Hezbollah fighter acknowledged in an interview with NOW, a Lebanese website, that the battle for Al-Qalamoun would be different from the fight over Qusair and would take much longer “because of the nature of the terrain, which is made up of high mountains and deep valleys.”

 

An offensive in the region was predicted some weeks ago, soon after the retaking of Qusair by pro-Assad forces. Many of the rebel fighters who escaped from that battle headed to villages in Al-Qalamoun. A Hezbollah special forces commander interviewed by The Daily Beast in the summer suggested an offensive would be launched quickly but it was instead delayed, possibly because of diplomatic fallout from the August chemical-weapons attacks. FSA sources have warned of severe repercussions for Lebanon from a battle in Al-Qalamoun, involving a possible movement of rebel fighters into Lebanon and rebel rocket attacks on Hezbollah strongholds in the Bekaa Valley. In the summer, two car bomb attacks on a Hezbollah suburb of Beirut that left dozens dead frayed nerves. Last Thursday, the Lebanese security forces intercepted a car carrying 250 kilograms of explosives and clashed with Syrian rebels in the Bekaa Valley.

 

Opposition activists in Yabrud, a village in the Al-Qalamoun region, say airstrikes and artillery bombardments have picked up pace in the past few days.

 

Contents

 

DRUSE STATE IN SYRIA COULD BE ISRAELI ALLY

Ariel Ben Solomon

Jerusalem Post, October 29, 2013

 

Whether one wishes it or not, Syria may be on the way to partition or some kind of de facto break-up along the lines of ethnic division, regardless of what locals or the West want. Would such a break-up work in Israel’s favor? According to some analysts, weak Arab states with internal strife and divisions, as well as the break-up of the existing Arab state order, plays to Israel’s strategic advantage. In this way, Israel can form alliances with various ethnic groups that are able to form their own state or autonomous region, such as with the Kurds or possibly the Druse in Syria. For example, Sudan, a hostile Muslim state, divided into North and South, saw Israel immediately allying itself with the independent animist and Christian South Sudan. Israel had previously had covert relations with inhabitants of the south and other non-Muslim or other minority sects in the Middle East.

 

Having more of these minority groups upgrade their status to states or greater autonomy, would allow Israel to create more powerful relations with them. Prof. Martin Kramer, an expert of the Middle East and president of Shalem College in Jerusalem said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post that, regarding the possibility of some kind of breakup of the country: “It won’t be possible to formalize Syria’s fragmentation, because no faction will ever be satisfied with its borders. More likely is cantonization, in which authority devolves to the lowest denominator of city quarter or rural area. Some sects and ethnic groups would end up with more than one canton. Rather than four or five quasi-states, Syria would look like a patchwork.”

 

It was the Sykes-Picot agreement reached during WWI that charted out how to partition the Ottoman Empire. The British and French carved up the region according to their interests, not paying adequate attention to ethnic groups. However, even knowing what we do today, and with advanced mapping techniques and technology, could one imagine a foolproof plan that would divide and satisfy the various radical Islamic movements, tribes, Shi’ites, Sunnis, Christians, Druse, Kurds, and so on? But, perhaps a better partition of the region could have been possible.

 

According to a recent article by the US-based Syria expert Gary Gambill, in an article published by the Foreign Policy Research Institute, he states that a separate Druse state in southwest Syria could end up being an ally of Israel. Gambill states that Syria is not “going to become a stable, unified state again in the foreseeable future, let alone a remotely democratic one. It may be time to start thinking about alternatives.” He argues that Syria has essentially already broken into separate enclaves with the Sunni rebels controlling large parts of the north and east, while the Alawite regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad controls Damascus and major cities as well as non-Sunni coastal areas.

 

The Kurds control the border area in the northeast and the Druse are concentrated in the southwest. The country’s main minorities – Alawites, Kurds, Christians, and Druse – would mostly support partition, he says, if faced with the reality of an Sunni Islamist-dominated state, which would likely persecute them. The Islamist dominated Sunni rebels reject partition outright because they see themselves as the majority that should justly rule the entire state. Despite the fact that Islamists abhor the colonial drawn borders, they nonetheless have come to accept them for the time being, on the way to their goal of a unified Muslim Caliphate. In such a configuration in Syria, Gambill sees the Druse state as having good relations with Israel and Jordan, while the Alawite state would continue to ally itself with Iran and Russia and the Gulf states would wield influence with the Sunnis. When asked about a possible alliance between a Druse state and Israel and Jordan, Gambill stated, “In both cases, geographic proximity is the main driver – any landlocked Druse statelet determined to resist domination by the Sunni Arab successor state would have to be friendly with one or both.” Additionally, he said,  in Jordan's favor is the community's close relations with the Hashemites prior to the Baath Party's 1963 seizure of power, when Sultan al-Atrash is said to have privately urged King Abdullah I to annex Jabal Druse. "In Israel's favor is the strong role of Druse in the Israeli military-security sphere," he said adding, "You may recall that Walid Jumblatt (an important Lebanese Druse leader) dallied with the Israelis back when Israel was in a position to help advance Druze communal interests vis-a-vis Lebanese Forces in the early 1980s." Kramer agrees that Jordan has a better chance of allying with a Druse entity stating, “Israel isn’t just anathema, its record of sticking by embattled minorities is mixed. Given a choice, and given the geography, the Druse will align far more naturally with Jordan.”

 

                                                                                                Contents

On Topic

 

 

Mr. Kerry’s Empty Words on Syria: Editorial Board, Washington Post, Oct. 28, 2013  —According to Secretary of State John F. Kerry, Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad now is waging “a war of starvation” against his own people. In a robustly worded op-ed column posted Friday on ForeignPolicy.com, Mr. Kerry denounced what he said was “the systematic denial of medical assistance, food supplies and other humanitarian aid to huge proportions of the population.”

Putting Out the Syrian Fire: Rami G. Khouri, New York Times, Oct. 23, 2013 —The Syrian conflict has become the world’s greatest proxy war since Vietnam.

For Syrian Refugees in Jordan, Aid From Israel Comes in a Whisper: Debra Kamin, The Times of Israel,  Oct. 20, 2013— Sultana is 23 years old and very hungry. She grew up in the suburbs east of Damascus, but when her house was firebombed by an airplane belonging to the Syrian regime, she fled the city in the night along with her husband and their five children.

Syria’s War Viewed Almost in Real Time: Melik Kaylan, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 27, 2013— In one video, two men in jeans and hoodies take a rocket tube to a rooftop and fire it. From another angle, we see three Syrian tanks in a row.

 

 

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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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ISRAEL-GULF STATE RAPPROCHEMENT? SAUDI-U.S. RIFT— OVER IRAN, SYRIA, EGYPT, UN—WIDENS, AS A DRIFING OBAMA TURNS INWARD

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

 

 

 Contents:         

 

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Behind the Saudi-U.S. Breakup: Karen Elliot House, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 24, 2013 — When Saudi Arabia this week rebuked the United States, using media leaks to send a message to the kingdom's longtime ally, the episode was no petty fit of pique.
Saudi Arabia Gets Tough on Foreign Policy: Nawaf Obaid, Washington Post, Oct. 24, 2013— Last week, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry announced that the kingdom would not join the U.N. Security Council until the council “reformed so it can effectively and practically perform its duties and discharge its responsibilities in maintaining international security and peace.”

Quietly, Israel and the Gulf States Draw Closer Together: Jonathan Spyer, PJ Media, Oct. 24, 2013— Recent remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have fueled renewed speculation of behind-the-scenes links between Israel and the Gulf monarchies.

Obama Loses the Middle East: Daniel Greenfield, Frontpage Magazine, Oct. 28, 2013— There are things that Obama just doesn’t understand. Like math. And health care. And alliances.

 

On Topic Links

 

The U.S. Saudi Crackup Reaches a Dramatic Tipping Point: David Ignatius, Washington Post, Oct. 23, 2013

For Once, Saudi Arabia Has a Point: Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Post, Oct. 24, 2013

After Rejecting Security Council, What’s Next for Saudi Arabia: Khaled al-Dakhil, Al-Monitor,  Oct. 23, 2013

Saudi Women Rise Up, Quietly, and Slide Into the Driver’s Seat: Ben Hubbard, New York Times, Oct. 26, 2013

 

BEHIND THE SAUDI-U.S. BREAKUP

Karen Elliot House
Wall Street Journal, Oct. 24, 2013

When Saudi Arabia this week rebuked the United States, using media leaks to send a message to the kingdom's longtime ally, the episode was no petty fit of pique. It reflected a calculated decision by the Al Saud rulers that their own survival requires distancing themselves from the very country that has protected the royal family for more than half a century.

In a tribal society like Saudi Arabia's, it is well understood that weakness breeds contempt and invites aggression. To the Al Saud, the Obama administration's retreat from its red-line ultimatum on Syria's use of chemical weapons and the administration's unseemly rush to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program are simply the latest evidence of such weakness. It diminishes U.S. influence in the region while offending and endangering America's allies. Already facing social tensions inside the kingdom and confronting growing instability throughout the Mideast, the ruling Al Saud have concluded that they can no longer risk being seen holding hands with a timorous great power.

 

Sadly for the Saudis, there is no alternative protector, which means the two countries will continue to share an interest, however strained, in combating terrorism and securing stability in the Persian Gulf. The kingdom has courted Russia and China in recent years, but they won't protect the Saudis from the primary threat of Iran. Indeed, they support the regime in Tehran. This reality makes Saudi Arabia's distancing itself from the U.S. all the more startling.

To understand the U.S.-Saudi rift, it is essential to realize that from the capital in Riyadh the world looks more threatening than at any time since the founding of modern Saudi Arabia in 1932. There have been other menacing times. Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1960s sought to destabilize the Al Saud by fomenting trouble in neighboring Yemen. In 1979, religious fanatics took over the Grand Mosque in Mecca and had to be ousted by military action. The Saudis feared, in 1990, that their kingdom was next after Iraq's Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. In all those troubled moments, the U.S. was either a trusted if silent supporter of the Saudis or an active defender, as in the 1990 Gulf War.

Today, the Saudis find themselves alone regarding Syria, trapped in a proxy war with Iran, their religious (Sunni Saudi Arabia vs. Shiite Iran) and political enemy. The Saudis had sought and expected U.S. help in arming the rebels against Syrian ruler Bashar Assad, but the military aid never materialized. Instead, last month at the United Nations General Assembly gathering, President Obama eagerly sought a private meeting with Iran's new president, Hasan Rouhani, to discuss its nuclear program. Mr. Obama seemed desperately grateful merely to get him on the phone.

A few days later, the Saudi foreign minister abruptly canceled his own speech to the General Assembly. Then last week, Saudi Arabia took the extraordinary step of turning down a Security Council seat it had long sought. According to a Reuters report this week, Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, head of the kingdom's intelligence and national security operations, told European diplomats that both moves at the U.N. were intended as a blunt message to the Obama administration.

Only a year ago, Saudi officials expressed great confidence that Assad would be ousted from Syria by this fall. Instead, the Saudis now find themselves trapped with their foot on the snake Assad: They can't step away, lest the snake strike, but lacking American help, they don't have the means to kill the snake either. The kingdom's relationship with the rebels is similarly precarious. The longer the Saudis supply them with arms, the longer the war drags on, and the greater the risk that the rebels—whose ranks already include at least 500 Saudi jihadists—will grow more radical and eventually return home to fight the regime that funded them.

Worst of all for the Saudis is the new U.S. dialogue with Iran. The Saudis, much like the Israelis, fear the sort of deal likely to result from a weak and naïve U.S. administration eager to avoid a military confrontation. Such a deal, the Saudis worry, would paper over Tehran's nuclear ambitions while boosting Iran's prestige and influence at the expense of Saudi Arabia. If Iran can convince the U.S.—the country that Tehran still calls the Great Satan—to lift economic sanctions without first obtaining ironclad evidence that Iran has abandoned its nuclear program, in Mideast eyes Iran would be the clear winner. The Saudi nightmare doesn't end there. Iran, supported by Russia and China, is seen by the Saudis as a direct threat to their oil exports, the lifeblood that keeps the ruling Al Saud in power by providing the billions of dollars annually that allow the regime to buy, bribe and, when it deems necessary, brutally repress its citizens.

Meanwhile, with U.S. oil and gas production soaring, Americans may increasingly question the wisdom of spending billions on a military presence to protect the Persian Gulf through which Saudi oil exports flow—increasingly to China. When President Obama briefly threatened to strike Syria for using chemical weapons on its citizens, Saudi Arabia understandably sought a larger U.S. naval presence in the Persian Gulf to protect against a potential Iranian counter-strike. The U.S. told Riyadh it lacked the ships to meet the request, another shock to the Saudis.

These external challenges come at a time when senior members of the Saudi royal family are consumed with a generational succession. A geriatric band of brothers has ruled the kingdom since the death in 1953 of their father, Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, the country's founder. Power soon will have to go to a son of one of those three-dozen brothers. But who? Each brother feels one of his own sons deserves the crown—which would keep his family's branch in line for royal succession and likely shut out the others. There are hundreds of these grandsons of the founder. Managing royal family politics must be a daunting task for the 90-year-old King Abdullah, already weakened by three back surgeries in four years…

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal is fond of saying that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia no longer have a Catholic marriage but rather a Muslim one. This is a clever way of saying that Saudi Arabia and the U.S. are not faithful to each other. In the absence of any major-power alternative to the U.S., for the Saudis in this Muslim marriage the U.S. may well remain Wife No. 1. Even if she is not about to be divorced, however, the Saudis are clearly declaring a trial separation.

                                                                                Contents
                                       

SAUDI ARABIA GETS TOUGH ON FOREIGN POLICY

Nawaf Obaid

Washington Post, Oct. 24, 2013

 

Last week, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry announced that the kingdom would not join the U.N. Security Council until the council “reformed so it can effectively and practically perform its duties and discharge its responsibilities in maintaining international security and peace.” Although this decision stemmed from Saudi frustration over the council’s failure to end the civil war in Syria and to act on the issue of Palestinian statehood, there is more to the rejection. Saudi Arabia opting out of a temporary position in an international forum is a sign of things to come as the kingdom pursues a new, and assertive, foreign policy.

 

The decision came after several weeks of intense debate among senior officials in Jeddah, the summer capital, over whether Saudis can achieve more by assuming a relatively nominal position in an international setting or by unilaterally expanding their work and implementing their doctrine. Over the past two years, the Saudi government had expended a great deal of energy and resources to prepare their diplomats and U.N. mission to join the Security Council.

 

But events in Syria over the summer and the manner in which the debate over the war has played out on the Security Council changed the calculations of the Saudi foreign policy establishment. Central to the internal discussions was the question of whether, in such a charged regional environment, the kingdom could politically afford to be a powerless member — albeit with a “voice” on a docile council — when it faces the urgent imperative of ending the massacres in Syria.

 

The tipping point came the week before the U.N. General Assembly meeting last month, when a draft resolution on dismantling Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons circulated among the permanent members of the Security Council. The Saudis, supported by the French and, to a lesser extent, the British, wanted the draft to say that President Bashar al-Assad and his thugs would suffer extreme punitive military actions for noncompliance. The Russians, however, were adamant that even an insinuation of this sort would be unacceptable. To get the resolution through, U.S. officials acquiesced to Russian wishes and pressured France and Britain to drop this demand. The tyrant Assad, then, was saved and practically given a U.N. mandate to continue slaughtering the Syrian people and destroying the remnants of the Syrian state. For the Saudis, this was a cold lesson in the Security Council’s dysfunction.

 

At this point, the Saudis faced two options: become a non-binding member of a largely inactive clique in which only the five permanent members are able to push through policy, or excuse themselves from this ceremonial, and ultimately empty, responsibility. In choosing the latter, Saudi Arabia has sent a powerful message about the effectiveness of the Security Council and the Obama administration’s Middle East policy. The Saudis realistically assessed their limited options within the Security Council as well as the fact that the kingdom already has power to influence global events and exerts enormous influence in the Muslim world. Joining the Security Council would not change those things.

 

This unprecedented decision also signals the coming of age of Saudi Arabia’s forceful foreign policy and the methods it is willing to pursue to achieve its objectives. Out of necessity, the kingdom is reformulating its foreign policy to assess how best to solve the Syrian tragedy… this necessity is the result of deeper trends that are also guiding Saudi decisions: the lack of U.S. leadership in the region, regional turmoil sparked by the “Arab Awakening” and the new policy of Iranian rapprochement toward the West.

 

In short, the Saudis find themselves in a drastically different foreign policy situation than even one year ago, having essentially been left alone to maintain stability in the Arab world. Given the pressure of this predicament, the fundamental basis of the new Saudi foreign policy doctrine is about changing course from being protected by others to protecting themselves and their allies… It is clear…that the Saudis fully intend to pursue their national security interests much more assertively, even if that leads to a strategic break with the United States.

Contents

 

QUIETLY, ISRAEL AND THE GULF STATES DRAW CLOSER TOGETHER

Jonathan Spyer

PJ Media, Oct. 24, 2013

 

Recent remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have fueled renewed speculation of behind-the-scenes links between Israel and the Gulf monarchies. Netanyahu, speaking at the UN, said that “the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbors to recognize, finally recognize, that Israel is not their enemy.” He added: “This affords us the opportunity to overcome the historic animosities and build new relationships, new friendships, new hopes.”

 

There have been subsequent rumors of visits by senior Gulf officials to Israel, to discuss matters of common interest. While it is difficult to acquire details of these contacts at the present time, it is a near certainty that they exist, on one level or another. Conversations with Israeli officials suggest that much is happening behind the scenes. Israel and the key states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (most importantly, Saudi Arabia) share core views on the nature of key regional processes currently underway, and their desired outcome.  These commonalities have existed for some time, and it is likely that the contacts are themselves not all that new.

 

There are three areas in which Israel and the countries of the GCC (with the exception of Qatar) are on the same page. They are: the urgency of the threat represented by the prospect of a nuclear Iran, the danger represented by the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood over the last two years, and the perception that the United States fails to understand the urgency of these threats and, as a result, is acting in a naive and erroneous way on both.

 

On the Iranian nuclear issue, Riyadh is deeply troubled by the current Iranian ‘charm offensive’ and its apparent effects on the west.  Most importantly, the Saudis fear the prospect of a nuclear Iran, which could force Riyadh and the Gulf states to bend to its will, in return for guaranteeing the flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz, and avoiding direct encroachment on their sources of energy. Saudi Arabia faces Iran, directly across the Gulf.  It is a far more fragile construction than its Shia, Persian neighbor.  Over the decades, Riyadh and the other Gulf states sought to balance Iranian encroachment of this type through alliance with the U.S. But the U.S. no longer seems such a reliable ally. So new strong and like-minded friends are needed.

 

On the Muslim Brotherhood, the Saudis feared the spread of this movement across the region, and were infuriated by the role of Qatar in supporting its successes in recent years. Israel, too, was deeply concerned at the prospect of a new alliance of Sunni Islamist states, with AKP-led Turkey and Morsi’s Egypt chief among them. Over the past year, the advance of the Muslim Brothers has been halted and partially reversed. In Tunisia and Egypt, the MB administrations have gone.  Qatar has a new, less activist emir.  The Muslim Brothers and Qatar have grown weaker among the Syrian rebels.

Saudi Arabia has been responsible for some of this, through financial support and political action. It has welcomed all of it.  So has Israel.

 

On the U.S.: the Saudis think that the current U.S. administration is hopelessly naive on the Middle East.  They were shocked at the abandonment of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in 2011.  They are equally vexed at the current indications of American and Western willingness to lift some sanctions against Iran in return for cosmetic concessions that would leave the core of Teheran’s nuclear program intact.

The Saudis were the first to congratulate General Abd al-Fatah al Sissi following his military coup in early July.  They are utterly dismayed by the current U.S. withholding of part of Washington’s package of military aid to Cairo because of what the U.S. regards as the insufficiently speedy transition back to elections in Egypt. Again, Israel shares these perspectives. The absence of American leadership may well be the key factor in causing Israel and the Gulf states to draw closer.

 

On the face of it, any alliance between Jewish Israel and Salafi Saudi Arabia might appear an absurdity.  Israel is a liberal democracy and a Jewish state.  Saudi Arabia is a repressive absolute monarchy, based on a particular Salafi Muslim outlook which is deeply anti-Jewish and anti-Christian in nature…

 

But a clear distinction is made by the Saudis between the world of ideology/media/culture and the realm of raison d’etat.  Hence, there is no reason to think they would not be able to publicly vilify Israel, while maintaining off the radar links with it against more immediate enemies. In this regard, it is worth remembering the Wikileaks revelation of remarks made in private by Saudi King Abdullah to American General David Petraeus in April, 2008, in which he recommended military action against the Iranian nuclear program.  The king referred to Iran as the “head of the snake,” which should be cut off.   No similarly venomous remarks on Israel were quoted from the conversation, which took place far from the public eye.

 

Of course the common interests only go so far.  Saudi Arabia supports Salafi Islamist forces in both Syria and Egypt.  Saudi money finds its way to Salafi elements among the Palestinians.  But the areas of commonality are on issues of cardinal importance to both countries. The de facto, unseen alliance between Israel, Saudi Arabia and the GCC countries is one of the most intriguing structures currently emerging amid the whirling chaos of the Middle East.

Contents

 

OBAMA LOSES THE MIDDLE EAST

Daniel Greenfield

Frontpage Magazine, October 28, 2013

 

There are things that Obama just doesn’t understand. Like math. And health care. And alliances. Alliances are as vital to foreign policy as a website that works is to online health care enrolment…

 

During his two terms, Obama has managed to wreck nearly every alliance the United States had. The only alliances that survived were so low-pressure that even he couldn’t manage to destroy them. Obama’s alliance vandalism pushed aside allies and courted enemies…

 

It took a lot for Obama to lose the Saudis, but now even they have turned on him. America’s greatest Middle Eastern frenemy was an enemy who pretended to be our ally. The frenemy game had paid off for Saudi Arabia with American soldiers being sent off to protect the House of Saud, but by Obama’s second term, the Saudis had figured out that they could do better by being our open enemies than by pretending to be our friends. The Saudis, who had always been noted for being subtle, stopped being subtle when a member of one of their think tanks openly declared, “We are learning from our enemies now how to treat the United States.” There is no better metric of contempt in a region where everyone wears a false face than honesty like that. The Saudis have decided that we are no longer even worth lying to. They believe that we have become so worthless that they can tell us what they really think of us. There’s no easier way to tell that you’ve hit bottom than when the people who have been sponging off you decide to move on like lice fleeing roadkill or rats abandoning a sinking ship.

 

For generations the Saudis piggybacked their foreign policy on the United States, (though American diplomats liked to fool themselves into thinking that it was the other way around), but now the Saudis have decided that the United States under Obama only serves as a willing tool for open enemies.From their Iranian Shiite enemies, they have learned that Obama only responds to confrontation and intimidation. If a country isn’t openly threatening to nuke the United States, it no longer gets listened to. So the Saudis have abandoned the behind-the-scenes diplomacy that they used to be so good at and have begun engaging in open confrontations.

 

Their United Nations Security Council tantrum and their warning that they will no longer even pretend to filter their arms shipments to the Syrian rebels through the CIA are their attempts at getting Obama’s attention by slapping him around. Considering the long history of Saudi political influence in the United States, it’s a sign of a complete breakdown in foreign policy that they really think that their best option for getting Obama to do what they want is to engage in public spats. It’s not that the United States should be doing what Saudi Arabia wants, which in this case involves bombing Syria, but it’s a profound failure of foreign policy when your allies are convinced that their only way to get your attention is by humiliating you in public and worse still when they expect it to work. The fault lies in a leader whose foreign policy is completely unmoored from realpolitik. Obama’s first and foremost consideration is his ideological program with no concern for the real world consequences of implementing it. That is as true of his foreign policy as it is of his domestic policy.

 

Obama has done to America’s allies what he did to America by trashing their interests for ideological reasons with no concern for their feelings. Ideology drives the Obama agenda. And American allies, like Americans, are expected to be grateful for the privilege of sacrificing their own interests for his political agenda. It hasn’t worked out that way in the real world. The millions of Americans who work for a living may have no other option but to endure the depredations of a radical activist, but American allies have begun making different arrangements. While America’s foreign policy agenda is weighed down with Green Energy and Muslim self-esteem, Russia is beginning to politically dominate the old territories of its red empire. The Middle East has imploded into war and violence. And Latin America is once again dominated by a bankrupt left.

 

None of this is good news… Obama may have traded national interests for ideology, but the rest of the world still has interests that it is not about to sacrifice for ideological constructs like the Arab Spring. American allies have lost their ability to communicate with Obama. They don’t understand how to reach him and explain that while he thinks the United States no longer has national interests, they still do…

On Topic

 

 

The U.S. Saudi Crackup Reaches a Dramatic Tipping Point: David Ignatius, Washington Post, Oct. 23, 2013 — The strange thing about the crackup in U.S.-Saudi relations is that it has been on the way for more than two years, like a slow-motion car wreck, but nobody in Riyadh or Washington has done anything decisive to avert it.

For Once, Saudi Arabia Has a Point: Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Post, Oct. 24, 2013— This week, United Nations diplomats are rubbing their eyes in disbelief over Saudi Arabia’s decision to decline a seat on the UN Security Council.

After Rejecting Security Council, What’s Next for Saudi Arabia: Khaled al-Dakhil, Al-Monitor,  Oct. 23, 2013— Saudi Arabia’s decision to turn down a seat on the UN Security Council surprised everyone and confused many.

Saudi Women Rise Up, Quietly, and Slide Into the Driver’s Seat: Ben Hubbard, New York Times, Oct. 26, 2013—Hackers defaced their Web site. Delegations of clerics appealed to the king to block their movement. And men claiming to be security agents called their cellphones to leave a clear message: O, women of the kingdom, do not get behind the wheel!

 

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

UN Agency Promotes Palestinian Agenda: written by Paul Lungen, Canadian Jewish News, Oct. 25, 2013

It is pretty much accepted that around 650,000 to 700,000 Palestinians became refugees during and after creation of the State of Israel. Whether they left on their own or were pushed out remains an issue that’s hotly contested.

 

It turns out there’s also plenty of disagreement as to how many Palestinians should be considered refugees today.

 

According to the figures compiled by the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the figure stands at some seven million, or more.

 

Not so, said Asaf Romirowsky, an adjunct scholar at the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies and Middle East Forum. That figure is wildly inflated by bogus claims, by those who want to benefit from funds allocated to refugees and particularly by the very definition of “refugee” itself.

 

Of the number of people who might have been considered refugees 67 years ago, only about 30,000 remain. The others would not be refugees under any standard definition of the term, said Romirowsky, a former Israel Defence Forces international relations liaison officer in the West Bank and Jordan.

 

Romirowsky was in Toronto and Hamilton last week to address audiences as a guest of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR). He said UNRWA “has the most expansive definition of refugees in the world today.” It includes any Arab living in the area from 1946 to 1948, including temporary workers, as well as their descendants.

 

It’s the latter that really inflates the refugee numbers. Nowhere else are the children and grandchildren of refugees considered refugees. Under the definition employed by the UN’s main refugee agency, UNHCR, which is mandated to assist all the other refugees in the world, refugee status is not something that can be inherited, he said.

 

UNHCR attempts to settle refugees in host countries, something Palestinians and UNRWA have long rejected. Palestinian identity is wrapped up in self-perception as refugees and Israel’s foes long ago recognized that as a way to keep the conflict at the boiling point, Romirowsky said.

 

“It is the main ingredient for ensuring the longevity and continuation of the conflict from generation to generation,” he stated.

 

UNRWA is something unique unto itself, he continued. Its 30,000 employees – UNHCR employs only around 6,000 people – are highly sympathetic to the Palestinian narrative, which isn’t surprising, given the vast majority of UNRWA’s staff are Palestinians.

 

UNRWA advances the Palestinian agenda: its school textbooks are rife with calls to violence and the denial of a Jewish link to the Land of Israel, and it has adopted the Palestinian claim of a “Right to Return,” which links any peace with Israel to the return of million of “refugees” to Israeli territory.

 

UNRWA long ago gave up any hint of neutrality in the conflict, he maintained.

Romirowsky noted that Peter Hansen, the former UNRWA commissioner-general in Gaza, stated in 2004: “I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll, and I don’t see that as a crime… we do not do political vetting and exclude people from one persuasion as against another.”

 

Furthermore, UNRWA is a self-perpetuating bureaucracy. It subsists on donations from private and state contributors.

 

“UNRWA learned since its inception that there’s always a need for more and  more money. It learned that the Arab world would give the money as long as it became the voice of the Palestinian people,” Romirowsky stated.

 

Canada has de-funded UNRWA because of its lack of accountability and transparency, though the United States and the European Union continue to send it money every year. The U.S. contribution runs to some $230 million (US), but recently, Sen. Mark Kirk has initiated calls for more accountability for those funds.

 

“They asked for an audit and [UNRWA] went ballistic,” Romirowsky said.

Steps have also been taken by individual U.S. members of Congress who have called for “an end date for the right of return.” Based on the way UNRWA defines refugees, the number is bound to expand indefinitely, a situation that’s ultimately unsustainable, he suggested.

ANTISEMITISM, PHILOSEMITISM, & AMERICAN JUDAISM— IN OPERAS AND MUSICALS, AND IN OPINION POLLS

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, 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

 

 

 Contents:         
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An Opera Fights Hungary’s Rising Antisemitism: Rachel Donadio, New York Times, Oct. 20, 2013— Ivan Fischer is best known as a first-class conductor whose Budapest Festival Orchestra has entranced audiences worldwide. Last week, Mr. Fischer took on a new role — social critic — when the orchestra gave the premiere of an opera he had composed as a rebuke to what he and others see as growing tolerance for anti-Semitism in today’s Hungary.

Loving Us To Death: Jonathan Tobin, Commentary, Nov., 2013— In the first half of the 20th century, the political and social perspective of the American Jewish community was defined by its collective experience of anti-Semitism—both in the countries from which Jews had emigrated and, in far more muted form, inside the United States.

On Jewishness, as the Fiddle Played: Alisa Solomon, New York Times, Oct. 20, 2013 — “Fiddler on the Roof” — created by Jerry Bock (music), Sheldon Harnick (lyrics), Joseph Stein (book) and Jerome Robbins (direction and choreography) and based on the stories of Sholom Aleichem — was a blockbuster success when it opened in 1964, smashing all box office records in its day.

 

On Topic Links

Pope Tells Jewish Community Leaders Christianity and Antisemitism are ‘Incompatible’: Zach Pontz, Algemeiner, Oct. 13, 2013

 

                                                                                                                                                                                    Top 10 Non-Jews Positively Influencing the Jewish Future 2013: Brian Efune, Oct. 17, 2013    

                                                                                                                 10 Israeli Technologies That Are Changing the World: Sophie Imas, No Camels,  Oct. 15, 2013

                                            

Obituary: Marcel Reich-Ranicki: The Telegraph, Oct. 1, 2013

 

AN OPERA FIGHTS HUNGARY’S RISING ANTISEMITISM

Rachel Donadio

New York Times, Oct. 20, 2013

 

Ivan Fischer is best known as a first-class conductor whose Budapest Festival Orchestra has entranced audiences worldwide. Last week, Mr. Fischer took on a new role — social critic — when the orchestra gave the premiere of an opera he had composed as a rebuke to what he and others see as growing tolerance for anti-Semitism in today’s Hungary. Based on an infamous 19th-century case in which a group of Jews were wrongly accused in the death of a Hungarian peasant girl, Mr. Fischer’s opera, “The Red Heifer,” is a vivid display of how cultural figures have emerged as some of the most vocal critics of Hungary’s rightward and authoritarian drift under Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

 

At a time when the traditional left-wing political opposition is hobbled by corruption scandals and its Communist past, Mr. Fischer is among a growing group of artists challenging a government that has tested the ideals of the European Union. The others include the pianist Andras Schiff and a popular theater director, Robert Alfoldi, who was ridiculed by right-wing politicians for his homosexuality.

The tensions in Hungary come as many right-wing parties are on the rise across the Continent and cultural figures from France to Greece to Eastern Europe are starting to respond. At the same time, many former Soviet countries are wrestling with their identities, pulled between the market and social forces of the West and deeply rooted national tendencies.

 

But in few places are cultural figures taking as strong a part in the debate as they are in Hungary. Since coming to power in 2010, Mr. Orban’s government has changed the constitution to limit the power of the judiciary and restrict press freedom, civil liberties groups say. More troubling, the far-right Jobbik party controls about 12 percent of Parliament, with a nationalistic, anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant platform unthinkable in most of Europe. “The Red Heifer” is based on a blood libel from 1882 that divided the country much as the Dreyfus affair later did in France. His ambitious composition uses both a full orchestra and a Gypsy band, with references to music from Klezmer to rap to Mozart. The production, featuring adults and children, is set in the 19th century but includes pointed contemporary references. Onstage, a red papier-mâché cow stomps on the peasant girl’s foot. Another scene features lively folk dancing by the same crowd that later turns into soccer hooligans blowing vuvuzelas, waving Hungarian flags and calling for retribution against the Jews. After that, the 19th-century Hungarian statesman Lajos Kossuth arrives out of the past, singing in a deep bass-baritone: “I am ashamed by the anti-Semitic agitation; as a Hungarian, I feel repentant toward it, as a patriot, I scorn it.”

 

In an interview this month, Mr. Fischer said that he had long wanted to write an opera based on the case, but it was the rise of Jobbik that spurred him to action. “In the last one or two years, it came up to me, and I thought, ‘Now I have to write it,’ ” Mr. Fischer said as he sat in the study of his airy home here, near a grand piano and a wall of books in many languages — an island of cosmopolitanism in a country increasingly turning inward. “Culture shouldn’t be interested in day-to-day politics,” said Mr. Fischer, who has also been the principal conductor of the Washington National Symphony Orchestra. “We want to be valid next year and the year after. But I think culture has a strong responsibility to find the essence, the real concealed truth which lies behind the day to day.”

 

Today, that picture shows Mr. Orban subtly courting voters on the far right, hoping to preserve his majority in elections scheduled for next spring. This has contributed to a climate in which, as part of more generalized criticism against foreign forces — especially the European Union and the International Monetary Fund — it has become acceptable public discourse to blame Jews for the country’s economic problems. Last year, Imre Kertesz, Hungary’s Nobel Laureate novelist, compared Mr. Orban to the Pied Piper and said democracy had never fully taken root in Hungary. That same year, Mr. Schiff, a renowned pianist, stirred debate when he said he would not set foot in his native Hungary while Mr. Orban was still in power. Mr. Fischer, who is Jewish, said he doesn’t feel the same way and is dedicated to the Budapest Festival Orchestra, which receives funds from the government. Still, he has moved his family to Berlin, commuting to remain part of the conversation in Hungary.

 

The blood libel, known as the Tiszaeszlár (tea-sa-ESS-lar) affair, after the eastern Hungarian town where it took place, is well known in Hungary. Last year, a member of Parliament from Jobbik urged lawmakers to reopen the case, in which the Jews were eventually acquitted of the girl’s death. He was roundly condemned. Indeed, the Orban government has taken pains to separate itself from Jobbik. “There is no cooperation or partnership with Jobbik, and its support is not required for any decision in Parliament,” a government spokesman, Ferenc Kumin, wrote in an e-mail.

 

The rise of the far right also comes amid a significant Jewish revival in Hungary since the fall of the Berlin Wall. This month, Hungary’s deputy prime minister said in Parliament that Hungarians must accept responsibility for the Holocaust. Next year, Hungary plans to dedicate millions of dollars for programs commemorating the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Hungarian Jews. Mr. Fischer said he welcomed the steps but wished the government would go further, “to isolate themselves from everything that the far-right does.” As part of a family-values campaign, in the past two years, Jobbik politicians have publicly ridiculed Mr. Alfoldi in Parliament for being gay. He was ousted as director of the National Theater last summer, replaced by a director closer to the government.

 

While Mr. Fischer is better known abroad than at home, Mr. Alfoldi has become something of a national hero. Before his ouster, Mr. Alfoldi’s productions, from revamped Hungarian classics to Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America,” had been so popular that people camped out all night for tickets. He is now starring on television in the Hungarian version of “The X-Factor,” which he said averages 2.5 million viewers in a country of 10 million. A speech he delivered this month in Vienna about the role of culture in a democracy was widely republished and debated in the Hungarian press. In an interview here, Mr. Alfoldi touched on its themes. “I am not what the government thinks a Hungarian citizen ought to be,” he said. “According to them, a good citizen ought to be Christian, heterosexual, have more than one kid; he should not have a critical attitude and should believe in the past.” He added: “A citizen should not ask questions either. But I think it is the job of a theater director, especially the job of the director of the National Theater, to ask questions, and to ask questions that are important for the whole society,”

 

Hungary has a vocal civil society. Since 2011, thousands have taken to the streets to protest the government’s changes to the constitution and its new media law. Journalists and analysts say that the changes have not stifled free speech but are a potential threat — a weapon the government could use if it decided to. The result has been self-censorship. (The government denies that the law represses free speech.) After the performance of “The Red Heifer,” audience members debated its impact. “If 700 or 800 people see this opera, it will have no effect,” said Josef Janos. A friend, Katalin Patkos, chimed in. “We shouldn’t be so pessimistic,” she said. “It’s a contribution. How effective a contribution, that isn’t Fischer’s problem.”

 

Contents

 

 

LOVING US TO DEATH

Jonathan Tobin

Commentary, November, 2013

In the first half of the 20th century, the political and social perspective of the American Jewish community was defined by its collective experience of anti-Semitism—both in the countries from which Jews had emigrated and, in far more muted form, inside the United States. Four percent of Americans were estimated to be Jewish at mid-century, twice as many as at present. But the Jews of that time were insecure about their place in American society and often unwilling to make a show of their background and faith. They felt themselves a people apart, and they were. It was difficult if not completely impossible for them to live as American Jews entirely on their own terms.

 

Now the situation is reversed. As an explosive new survey of 3,400 American Jews reveals, 94 percent say they are proud of being Jewish. That data point dovetails neatly with the current place of Jews in American society—a society in which they make up 2 percent of the population but in which there are virtually no barriers to full Jewish participation. American Jews can live entirely on their own terms, and they do. But the stunning finding of Pew’s A Portrait of Jewish Americans—the most comprehensive portrait of the community in 20 years and, in the richness of its detail, perhaps of all time—is the degree to which American Jews are now choosing not to live as Jews in any real sense. Secularism has always been a potent tradition in American Jewry, but the study’s analysis of what being Jewish means to its respondents reveals just how much irreligion has taken center stage in American Jewish life.

 

There has been a startling increase over the past quarter century of Jews who say they regard themselves as having “no religion.” Intermarriage rates in that group are now at 70 percent. And the proportion of families raising their children as Jews by religion is 59 percent, while only 47 percent are giving them a Jewish education. Jews are not being driven from Judaism due to social difficulties. Fewer than 20 percent claimed to have experienced even a snub in a social setting, let alone an anti-Semitic epithet, in the last year. Such numbers are not only without precedent in American history; they are without precedent in the millennia-long history of the Jewish people. The Pew survey paints a portrait of a group that feels none of the shame or fear that once played a major role in defining Jewish attitudes toward other Americans. But this loss of shame, and the concomitant growth of pride when it comes to having a Jewish heritage—these have come at a heavy cost, it appears. It is now inarguable that American Jewry, or at least the 90 percent that does not hew to Orthodox practice, is rapidly shrinking, and the demographic trend lines are stark.

 

The same American Jewish community that is bursting with pride also now regards Jewish identity as a matter of ancestry and culture almost exclusively. Forty-two percent think a good sense of humor is essential to being Jewish; almost exactly the same number, 43 percent, think it means supporting the State of Israel. When asked about the fundaments of Judaism itself, Jews speak of values and qualities that apply equally to other faiths and are followed just as readily by those who have no faith at all. After all, there is nothing distinctively Jewish about believing one should lead an ethical and moral life or about working for justice. And yet these are the defining characteristics of Judaism for American Jews. Only 28 percent think being Jewish has something to do with being part of a Jewish community. Only 19 percent think it means abiding by Jewish religious law.

 

This is what happens after several generations of the most highly educated minority group in the United States have allowed themselves and their children to become functionally illiterate about Judaism itself, its belief system, its history, and the obligations of Jewish peoplehood. The Pew data make it abundantly clear that the cultural values of secular Jews have proved to be perfectly portable—they can carry their liberal political and cultural beliefs everywhere without having to carry the Jewish trappings that go with them.

The increasing Jewish desire to give up what is distinctive about Jewish faith and practice while maintaining mushy positive attitudes about their colorful backgrounds and the social-justice aspect of the tradition is more than a recipe for self-extinction. The ingredients have been assembled and mixed, and the dough has begun to rise. American Jewry is on the brink of a demographic catastrophe. And yet here is the paradox: This catastrophe is also a triumph—a triumph both for American Jews and for the American experiment.

The existential crisis that threatens the future of American Jewry has only been made possible by this nation’s embrace of the Jewish people. There is no social or economic penalty to be paid in this country for making an open showing of Jewish identity. Jews face almost no difficulty making friends with non-Jews, working with non-Jews, playing with non-Jews, socializing with non-Jews—or marrying non-Jews. A quarter century ago, a White House aide named Richard Darman desperately offered to provide scoops and inside information to a Washington reporter if she would agree not to reveal he’d been born a Jew and had actually received a bar mitzvah. A few years later, the newly appointed secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, professed herself astounded to discover her parents were Jewish. Albright and Darman, born in 1937 and 1943 respectively, were the last American Jews who would ever imagine the need for such disreputable subterfuges and denials. Consider: Darman served as head of the Office of Management and Budget in 1989. Two decades later, that same post was filled by Jack Lew, an Orthodox Jew who later became White House chief of staff—itself a position previously held by a Jewish day-school graduate (and son of an Israeli immigrant) named Rahm Emanuel, now mayor of Chicago.

 

The transformation of the fearful, largely passive community into the more assertive ethno-religious group that throws its weight around on national issues is primarily the function of the marginalization of anti-Semitic attitudes that were once part of the American mainstream. In public affairs, that marginalization enabled the creation of the so-called Israel Lobby that inspires fear and loathing from the Jewish state’s opponents. To their frustration, they find themselves opposed by a group that inspires support across the entire spectrum of American politics. A figure such as former Senator Joseph Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew who observed the Sabbath even when he was the Democratic Party’s vice-presidential nominee in 2000, was admired for his faith, not abused for it.

 

Thus, even as a rising tide of anti-Semitism calls into question the future of Jewish communities in Europe, and as hatred for Israel becomes a thinly veiled substitute for traditional Jew-hatred around the globe, the acceptance of Jews at every level of American life might be the ultimate proof of American exceptionalism. America is not insisting in any way that Jews assimilate, give up religious practice, or do anything differently. It is Jews themselves who are choosing this path…[for the remainder of this article please use the following link].

Contents

 

ON JEWISHNESS, AS THE FIDDLE PLAYED

Alisa Solomon

New York Times, Oct. 20, 2013

 

“Fiddler on the Roof” — created by Jerry Bock (music), Sheldon Harnick (lyrics), Joseph Stein (book) and Jerome Robbins (direction and choreography) and based on the stories of Sholom Aleichem — was a blockbuster success when it opened in 1964, smashing all box office records in its day. The initial production played 3,242 performances, the longest-running show on Broadway for years. There have been four Broadway revivals and countless national tours; some 200 schools across the country put it on each year. As the first work of American popular culture to recall life in a shtetl — the Eastern European market towns with large Jewish populations — “Fiddler” felt tender, elegiac, even holy. It arrived just ahead of (and helped to instigate) the American roots movement. It was added to multicultural curriculums and studied by students across the country in Jewish history units, as if “Fiddler” were an artifact unearthed from a destroyed world rather than a big-story musical assembled by showbiz professionals.

 

Beyond its continuing vibrant life in the theater, “Fiddler,” like no other musical before or since, has seeped into the culture more widely, functioning in sometimes contradictory ways, which makes sense, since the show’s essential gesture is dialectical: it looks backward and forward, favors both community and individual needs, honors the particular and the universal, struggles between stasis and change, bewails and celebrates. Tevye, the milkman hero, seems to be constantly caught in these opposing forces and, before our eyes, weighs the arguments of every dilemma — on the one hand, on the other hand … .

 

“Fiddler” also regularly serves as a Jewish signifier: “Now I know I haven’t been the best Jew,” Homer tells a rabbi from whom he is trying to borrow money in an episode of “The Simpsons,” “but I have rented ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ and I intend to watch it.” How could a commercial entertainment do all this? How does a work of popular culture glow with a radiant afterlife, illuminating for different audiences the pressing issues of their times? The answer lies in large part in where “Fiddler” came from and how it was made. “It never entered our minds that it was Jewish,” Mr. Harnick recalled. “We all felt the same way about the stories, that they were just very beautiful and we couldn’t wait to work on them.”

 

Or as Stein liked to put it, “These were stories about characters who just happened to be Jewish.” Robbins kept searching for what he called a special “ordinary” quality for his cast — he didn’t want actors who looked too polished or flashy to be convincing as poor Jews. Yet he and his collaborators also didn’t want actors who, in their view, overplayed some put-on idea of Jewishness. They rejected stereotypical portrayals that showed vestiges of the American vaudeville “stage Jew” with Old Country accents, flailing hands or singsong intonations; they quickly eliminated anyone who seemed to have arrived at the audition hall directly from Second Avenue, which was largely the erstwhile home of the Yiddish theater district, or from the borscht belt. (They did, however, arrange with the Hebrew Actors’ Union — the 65-year-old association of Yiddish performers — to audition some of its members.) Robbins’s notes on the show repeatedly sound his contempt for representations of Jews as “lovable schnooks,” and his collaborators shared his concerns.

 

Whoever played Tevye first would have to combine the general realness Robbins insisted on with the magnetism and virtuosity — the ineffable “it” — that make a Broadway star. The actor would have to live in two places simultaneously onstage: inside the world of the play as a convincing Pale of Settlement patriarch and on the outside of the dramatic action as a crowd-pleasing performer of magnificent feats. And he would have to be equally and constantly lovable in both realms: intimate with audience members and beyond their ken, winning their empathy and their awe.

 

Zero Mostel and Robbins had briefly worked together, and the once-blacklisted actor and the director who had named names before the House Un-American Activities Committee did not like each other. So Robbins’s eagerness to cast Mostel, and Mostel’s zeal for the part, spoke to both men’s prevailing sense of artistry — they recognized and respected each other’s talents. Even more, the draw of the Sholom Aleichem material trumped their mutual distrust and distaste.

 

Two more opposite temperaments are tough to imagine. Mostel was confident and free as an actor could be, Robbins a sack of insecurity as a director. Their very bodies exemplified the contrast: an uncontainable, jiggling mass on the one hand, an utterly flab-free, erect carriage on the other. For both of these Jewish artists, albeit in vastly different ways, this project was personal. Mostel would have seemed the perfect choice to Robbins for a deeper reason, too: He represented an image of Jewishness that Robbins had done all he could do to distance himself from but that exerted a pull on him all the same. He described it in one of his journals as a “crude, vulgar, but healthy and satisfied” way of being, a way of saying, “I don’t care what they think.”

 

Like Robbins, Mostel fought an inner war over Jewish identity, but the enemy fire came from a different place. Mostel never sought to evade his Jewishness — on the contrary — but he rebelled against, and came deeply to resent, the Orthodox practice his parents maintained and expected their eight children to carry forward. The family lived in the concentrated community of some 230,000 Jews in Brownsville, Brooklyn, in 1915, when Mostel was born (his given name was Samuel), and later moved to the Lower East Side. Yiddish was spoken at home and in the neighborhood. Mostel would have made an excellent rabbi, his father thought. Mostel understood that choosing to pursue painting and performance meant leaving his family’s world behind.

 

The part offered a kind of vindication, a reconciling of Mostel’s past with his present, a means of honoring the background he had to reject in a form that, in itself, expressed, even celebrated, that rejection: playing Tevye on Broadway, he could have his kreplach and eat it too. Robbins, in contrast, had run from a specter of weakness that rose from his ignorance and fear and from his desire for acceptance. Mostel knew what he had given up and could represent it with affection as a trace of the past; Robbins was joyously discovering a cultural wealth that he’d been denied and that the show could display as a gleaming treasure — but crucially, one from long ago and far away.

 

In different fashions, both men were internally making the show’s primary contradictory gesture: embracing Jewish practice at arm’s length. Through “Fiddler,” Mostel and Robbins — and millions of spectators in the decades to come — could cherish, honor and admire a legacy in the safely secular, make-believe space of a theater. When Mostel blasted into rehearsals after the second week, he started ridiculing Robbins right away. “A couple of weddings in Williamsburg and that putz thinks he understands Orthodox Jews!” he’d snort with a roll of the eyes that seemed to trace the full circumference of the globe. Day after day he found a way to entertain his fellow cast members at Robbins’s expense. And most of the company — especially the younger actors — cheered him on with their laughter.

 

When they argued at all, it was over substance, and often over Jewish substance. “What are you doing?” Robbins demanded at one rehearsal as Mostel touched the doorjamb of Tevye’s house and then brushed his fingers over his lips. Mostel offered the obvious answer: “I’m kissing the mezuza.”

Robbins responded bluntly, “Don’t do it again.” But Mostel insisted that Tevye, like the Orthodox Jews with whom the actor had grown up, would never neglect to make the customary gesture of devotion that acknowledges the case of sacred parchment affixed to doorways of Jewish homes. Robbins bristled. Mostel held firm and kissed the mezuza again. Without raising his voice — in fact, the more emphatic he became, the more firmly and calmly he spoke — Robbins demanded that Mostel stop. The actor relented. And then, when he walked through Tevye’s doorway once more, he crossed himself. He’d made — and won — his point. The mezuza kissing stayed in.

 

No one was surprised that “Fiddler” swept the Tony Awards, winning as best musical as well as for book, score, direction, choreography, costumes, production and performances by Mostel and Maria Karnilova (as his wife, Golde). Mostel famously accepted his statue noting that, since no one else from the show who had been on the podium that night had bothered to thank him, he would thank himself. Then he carried on a bit in Yiddish.

Contents

 

On Topic

Pope Tells Jewish Community Leaders Christianity and Antisemitism are ‘Incompatible’: Zach Pontz, Algemeiner, Oct. 13, 2013Christianity and anti-Semitism are incompatible, the Pope told a group of Jewish community members Saturday during a meeting at the Vatican, the Catholic News Agency reported.                                                                                                                                                                                               

Top 10 Non-Jews Positively Influencing the Jewish Future 2013: Brian Efune, Algemeiner, Oct. 17, 2013 — Since publishing my first annual list of non-Jews who have wielded significant positive influence over the Jewish future, it seems that the popularity of the practice of list-making has ballooned. It is my sincere hope, however, that this list merits special attention, both in the Jewish world and beyond, as the individuals who are featured herein are truly worthy of recognition.    

10 Israeli Technologies That Are Changing the World: Sophie Imas, No Camels,  Oct. 15, 2013— Israel has been coined the “Startup Nation”; the country with the highest concentration of startups in the world. Over the past 63 years,  thousands of Israeli startups have given rise to innovations in fields as diverse as irrigation; GPS navigation; and cherry tomatoes.

Obituary: Marcel Reich-Ranicki: The Telegraph, Oct. 1, 2013—  Marcel Reich-Ranicki, who has died aged 93, survived the Warsaw Ghetto to become, in the words of one colleague, “Germany’s most read, most feared, most observed, and therefore most hated literary critic”.

 

 

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QUI MENACE LA PAIX AU PROCHE-ORIENT ?

 

 

 

 

 

Russie musulmane ?

Daniel Pipes

The Washington Times, 21 octobre 2013

Adaptation française: Johan Bourlard

 

Le 10 octobre dernier, un Russe, Yegor Chtcherbakov, âgé de 25 ans, a été poignardé à mort apparemment par un musulman originaire d'Azerbaïdjan. Ce meurtre a provoqué à Moscou des émeutes anti-immigrés, des actes de vandalisme, des agressions ainsi que l'arrestation de 1200 personnes, révélant ainsi les tensions majeures qui agitent la société russe.

 

Sur une population totale de 144 millions d'habitants, la Russie compte entre 21 et 23 millions de musulmans (15 pourcent de la population) dont la proportion grandit rapidement. On dit que la population russe en proie à l'alcoolisme possède le taux de natalité d'un pays européen, soit 1,4 enfant par femme, et le taux de mortalité d'un pays africain, avec une espérance de vie de 60 ans pour les hommes. À Moscou, une femme chrétienne a 1,1 enfant.

 

Par contre, les femmes musulmanes donnent naissance à 2,3 enfants en moyenne et ont moins souvent recours à l'avortement que les femmes russes. À Moscou, les femmes tatares ont 6 enfants. Quant aux femmes tchétchènes et ingouches elles en ont 10. En outre, quelque 3 à 4 millions de musulmans ont quitté les anciennes républiques d'URSS, principalement l'Azerbaïdjan et le Kazakhstan, pour s'établir en Russie, alors que certains Russes se convertissent à l'islam.

 

Ces tendances se traduisent par une diminution du nombre de chrétiens de 0,6 pourcent par an et une augmentation équivalente du nombre de musulmans avec à terme des effets spectaculaires. Certains analystes prévoient que les musulmans deviendront la majorité au XXIe siècle – une révolution démographique qui changerait fondamentalement la face du pays. Paul Goble, spécialiste des minorités russes, conclut que « la Russie traverse une période de transformation religieuse dont les conséquences pour la communauté internationale seront aussi importantes que l'effondrement de l'Union soviétique. » Un commentateur russe qu'il cite prévoit une mosquée sur la Place Rouge à Moscou. Selon lui, le raisonnement creux selon lequel Moscou est et restera tourné vers l'Occident « n'est plus valide ». Il prédit plus particulièrement que la poussée démographique musulmane « aura un impact immense sur la politique étrangère russe. »

 

D'ici quelques années, les musulmans composeront la moitié des conscrits dans l'armée russe. Joseph A. D'Agostino, du Population Research Institute, pose cette question : « Une telle armée sera-t-elle vraiment opérationnelle, étant donné la colère que ressentent de nombreux musulmans de Russie envers les choix militaires du pays dans la région musulmane de Tchétchénie ? Qu'adviendra-t-il si d'autres régions musulmanes de Russie – dont certaines possèdent d'immenses réserves de pétrole – se révoltent contre Moscou ? Les soldats musulmans vont-ils combattre et tuer pour les maintenir dans le giron de la Russie ?

 

Les musulmans décomplexés de Russie, de plus en plus nombreux, qui constituent une majorité dans 57 des 182 groupes ethniques que compte le pays, se mettent désormais à utiliser l'expression Russie musulmane pour manifester leurs ambitions. Selon l'analyste musulman Daniyal Isayev, cette expression affirme que l'islam est « une partie inaliénable de la Russie » et que « la Russie en tant qu'État et que civilisation ne pourrait pas exister sans l'islam et les musulmans. » Il observe que les musulmans ont précédé les Russes dans de nombreux territoires appartenant aujourd'hui à la Russie. Ses affirmations excessives en faveur des musulmans comportent des exagérations telles que la contribution capitale de ceux-ci à la culture et aux victoires militaires russes.

 

De tels propos causent chez les Russes d'origine de l'inquiétude face à la diminution de leur population d'au moins 700.000 personnes chaque année. Ils les incitent aussi à revenir à leur foi et à se retourner contre les musulmans, avec comme conséquences des relais médiatiques orientés, des attaques contre des mosquées et autres actes criminels, des tentatives pour contenir l'immigration musulmane et l'essor de groupes nationalistes russes extrémistes comme le « Mouvement contre l'immigration illégale » d'Alexander Belov.

 

Le Kremlin a répondu au problème d'une tout autre façon. En 2009, le président Dmitri Medvedev a joué la carte de l'apaisement en soulignant l'importance de l'islam pour la Russie et en observant que « les fondations musulmanes jouent un grand rôle dans la promotion de la paix dans la société en donnant une éducation morale et spirituelle à de nombreuses personnes et en combattant l'extrémisme et la xénophobie. » Il a également annoncé que, étant donné l'importance numérique de la population musulmane, « la Russie n'a pas besoin de rechercher l'amitié avec le monde musulman : notre pays est une partie intégrante de ce monde. »

 

Cependant, comme le fait remarquer Ilan Berman de l'American Foreign Policy Council, « le Kremlin a fait subir des discriminations à sa minorité musulmane et a feint d'ignorer (voire a encouragé) la montée parmi ses citoyens d'une xénophobie délétère qui a engendré le ressentiment et la prise de distance parmi les musulmans de Russie, autant de sentiments que les groupes islamiques radicaux se sont empressés d'exploiter. » Ajoutons encore les comportements qui trahissent une volonté de suprématie de l'islam et nous avons au final une minorité musulmane de plus en plus agitée.

 

Les discussions au sujet de l'islam en Europe tendent à se focaliser sur des lieux comme la Grande-Bretagne et la Suède alors que la Russie, pays qui compte la plus grande communauté musulmane tant en valeur relative qu'absolue, est plus que tout autre l'endroit à surveiller. Les violences anti-immigrés de cette semaine seront certainement suivies de problèmes beaucoup plus graves.

 

 

Tactique iranienne transparente

et intérêts économiques à la conférence de Genève

Freddy Eytan

Le CAPE de Jérusalem, 17 octobre 2013

 

L’optimisme plane bizarrement à Genève, l’espoir et l’assurance sur la marche à suivre donnent l’impression que les Occidentaux sont prêts à accepter l’initiative de charme iranienne à bras ouverts, telle une bouée de secours, un véritable fait accompli.

 

Un caricaturiste israélien a bien illustré ce changement inattendu en dessinant Catherine Ashton enchantée, affirmant avec satisfaction et un sourire radieux : « Ils sont extraordinaires ces négociateurs Iraniens, ils parlent avec nous en anglais… C’est formidable ! »…

 

Sur une question aussi grave et existentielle, la forme, le ton et le charme superficiels ont pris hélas le dessus sur le fond et les réalités du dossier. Ils prévalent sur l’essentiel et les réelles intentions des Ayatollahs.

 

Certes, les délégués européens et américains ne sont pas dupes et mêmes les Russes sont plus que jamais réticents, mais les intérêts économiques sont sans doute plus forts et dictent l’ordre du jour. A l’approche de l’hiver, les Européens et la Chine sont à la merci du pétrole et du gaz iraniens et souhaitent casser les prix coûte que coûte ! Qu’importent les sanctions et les menaces !

 

Déjà en 2004, nous avons assisté au même scénario et vu comment le négociateur iranien Hassan Rohani, aujourd’hui président de la République islamique, a réussi à tromper avec malice et ruse ses interlocuteurs puisque quelques mois plus tard les travaux d’enrichissement ont repris de plus belle et les centrifugeuses ont triplé leur capacité de rendement.

 

L’Etat juif suit avec lucidité et vigilance les négociations à Genève. Le gouvernement Netanyahou agit à contre courant et refuse très justement de tomber dans le piège. Malgré les avertissements et les preuves flagrantes, les Occidentaux poursuivent les pourparlers et la Grande-Bretagne a d’ores et déjà renoué ses relations diplomatiques avec Téhéran.

 

Nous le répétons souvent : Israël est favorable aux négociations avec les Iraniens comme d’ailleurs avec les Palestiniens, mais nous ne pourrons jamais admettre l’hypocrisie, la supercherie ou l’esprit de Munich. Soulignons une fois encore : l’Iran n’a pas abandonné son projet nucléaire et son but est d’anéantir par tous les moyens l’Etat juif ! Nous prenons donc très au sérieux les déclarations des ayatollahs et leurs intentions belliqueuses. Dans ce contexte, nous ne comptons dans ce dossier que sur nous-mêmes malgré les sincères assurances de Washington, Londres ou Paris. Nous ne permettrons jamais un Iran nucléarisé ! Rappelons que les discours de Netanyahou sur ce sujet sont compatibles avec la politique de ses prédécesseurs, Menahem Begin et Ehoud Olmert. Une attaque préventive pour la défense de l’Etat juif demeurera toujours une option viable !

 

Nucléaire iranien :

Israël met en garde contre un nouveau "Munich"

upjf.org

 

Le ministre israélien des Affaires stratégiques Youval Steinitz a exprimé mercredi son inquiétude face à la tournure prise par les négociations entre la communauté internationale et l'Iran sur le nucléaire, mettant en garde contre un nouveau "Munich". "Nous considérons les discussions sur le nucléaire à Genève avec espoir et préoccupation. Nous voyons des signes inquiétants et nous ne voulons pas que Genève 2013 se transforme en Munich 1938", a déclaré Youval Steinitz, dont les propos étaient retransmis par la radio militaire, lors d'une réunion au Parlement.

 

Le ministre, également chargé des Relations internationales et des Renseignements, faisait référence à la conférence de Munich en 1938, au cours de laquelle la Grande-Bretagne et la France avaient cédé aux exigences de l'Allemagne nazie pour éviter la guerre, qui éclata finalement un an plus tard. L'Iran et le groupe des 5 + 1 (États-Unis, France, Royaume-Uni, Russie, Chine, Allemagne) achèvent mercredi deux jours de discussions sur le programme nucléaire controversé de Téhéran, qui a présenté une proposition qualifiée d'"importante".

 

Le Premier ministre israélien Benyamin Netanyahou, qui voit dans le programme atomique de Téhéran une menace pour l'existence même d'Israël, a de nouveau agité mardi la menace d'une attaque préventive contre les sites nucléaires iraniens. Israël, considéré comme la seule puissance nucléaire de la région, redoute qu'en réponse au ton conciliant adopté par le nouveau président Hassan Rohani les 5 + 1 n'acceptent de desserrer le blocus économique et financier qui étrangle l'économie iranienne.

 

Qui menace donc la stabilité du Moyen-Orient ?

Jean-Pierre Bensimon

upjf.org, 24 octobre 2013

 

Le jeune journaliste et essayiste anglais Douglas Murray l’a dit avec des mots simples : « Rarement dans l’histoire diplomatique, quelque chose d’aussi faux a été véhiculé par tant de gens, pendant aussi longtemps. » (1) C'est pourquoi il n'est guère surprenant que dans les mois qui viennent de s'écouler, Laurent Fabius, François Hollande et Barack Obama aient fait presque simultanément la même déclaration.

 

Il s’agissait d’affirmer publiquement, sur le mode mesuré et convaincu du pédagogue, qu’Israël est la source principale de l’instabilité au Moyen-Orient. En premier Laurent Fabius. Le 22 août, il rode à Paris sa déclaration dans un entretien radiophonique avec Jean-Claude Bourdin : « on parle moins du conflit israélo-palestinien, mais c'est dans un sens la mère de toutes les batailles si je puis dire. », et la délivre le 24, deux jours plus tard, en visite chez Mahmoud Abbas à Ramallah : « il demeure que la question israélo-palestinienne est une, et peut être la question centrale de la région… »

 

Israël est visé mais aussi les Palestiniens, peut-on penser, puisque c’est « le conflit israélo-palestinien » qui est mis sur la table. Et bien pas du tout. Fabius a donné d’emblée le fond de sa vision : « Il n'y a pas de paix sans justice. Justice n'est pas rendue aux Palestiniens. Il faut que justice leur soit rendue » Il faut être aveugle pour ne pas voir que le doigt accusateur du ministre désigne Israël. Trois jours plus tard, le 27, François Hollande s’adresse aux ambassadeurs français réunis à Paris. Il énonce les valeurs auxquelles le monde arabe doit adhérer et trace la perspective d’une « Méditerranée des projets ». Et il conclut : « Mais j’ai bien conscience que rien de solide ne pourra se faire sans que le conflit israélo-palestinien n’ait été réglé. »

 

Un mois plus tard, le 24 septembre, à l’ONU, Barack Obama fait tout aussi fort. Il identifie deux questions centrales : « la volonté de l’Iran d’obtenir des armes nucléaire et le conflit israélo-arabe ». Et il poursuit : « Bien que ces questions ne soient pas la cause de tous les problèmes de la, région, elles ont été une source majeure d’instabilité depuis trop longtemps. » Et pour lever toute ambigüité sur la cible de son blâme, il poursuit : « [Les jeunes gens de Ramallah] …sont choqués de voir leurs familles subir les outrages quotidiens de l’occupation… »

 

Nous sommes à la mi-2013. La Syrie brûle dans l’horreur. Des massacres secouent l’Egypte à la chute de Morsi, certains déciment les Frères musulmans et d’autres sont commis par les Frères musulmans à l’encontre des Coptes. L’Irak hurle dans l’horreur des carnages infligés par les sunnites aux chiites, et par tous aux Chrétiens. La guerre redouble au Yémen et ses flammes lèchent le sud de l’Arabie. On tue en Libye où l'État s'est évanoui. En Tunisie, la rue fait trembler le pouvoir islamiste et une guérilla pointe à la frontière algérienne. On pourrait poursuivre.

 

Et voila que des dirigeants occidentaux parmi les plus éminents piétinent l’évidence aveuglante des fait et imputent plus ou moins directement ce chaos à l’État hébreu. Dans quel but ? Il y a cette volonté obsessive de faire pression sur Israël pour qu’il accepte les exigences de Mahmoud Abbas, en faisant l’hypothèse que le problème serait réglé par des concessions. On veut aussi envoyer un message d’empathie au « monde arabe » même s'il est aujourd'hui insaisissable, même si ses contours sont désormais très incertains.

 

La Reine de Cœur de Lewis caroll trépignait en hurlant une fois par minute à l'oreille d'Alice: "Qu'on lui coupe la tête !" La vérité, l'hygiène mentale aussi, justifient que l’on examine de plus près cette falsification répétitive, « portée par tant de gens depuis si longtemps, » et baptisée souvent « théorie de la centralité ».

 

Les origines du chaos arabe ne sont pas mystérieuses. A la différence de l’Asie et de l’Amérique du sud, voila des sociétés qui ont été incapables de s’inscrire dans la modernité au sortir de la période coloniale. Elles cumulent l’échec économique et technologique, l’omniprésence de régimes politiques dictatoriaux ou théocratiques, et l’incapacité d’offrir le moindre avenir à une jeunesse nombreuse. Plus au fond, cette funeste ankylose renvoie à l’héritage d’une culture tribale renforcée par la domination des courants intégristes de l’islam. Dans ce contexte la violence et le sang répondent à la révolte inévitable, et des forces totalitaires antagoniques se succèdent au pouvoir.

 

Au lieu d’insister sur l’essentiel, sur la nature endogène et culturelle du blocage des sociétés arabes et des éruptions répétitives qui les gangrènent, le schéma de Fabius-Hollande-Obama impute l’instabilité à une force étrangère, Israël. Il justifie l’un des artifices préférés des dirigeants arabes qui veulent garder le pouvoir face aux tentatives réformatrices : la désignation d’un bouc émissaire étranger. Il est remarquable que les premiers insurgés de Tunisie et d’Égypte aient évacué de leur horizon politique le fameux conflit israélo-arabe, et qu’il ait été réintroduit par les islamistes quand ils ont confisqué le pouvoir. Au lieu d’assumer son rôle pédagogique, le trio Fabius-Hollande-Obama, ne fait pas que rendre les « printemps arabes » inintelligibles pour les Occidentaux. Il renforce aussi le blocage des sociétés arabes, donnant du crédit à l’épouvantail juif brandi par les Arabes les plus arriérés, en tout cas les plus hostiles au progrès et à la modernisation de leurs sociétés. Et sous ce joug, les peuples arabes souffrent et se meurent.

 

D’ailleurs ils ne sont pas niais. Beaucoup d’entre eux sont irrités ou indignés par la fausse piété que l’Occident voue aux Palestiniens. En Égypte, Arafat et par extension le Palestinien moyen, reçoivent le titre de « fils de 10.000 prostituées. » La corruption de Ramallah, les villas et les grosses cylindrées sont légendaires. De nombreux intellectuels arabes, y compris de courageux saoudiens, sont captivés par la réussite israélienne qu’ils opposent au désastre arabe, et où ils pensent trouver peut-être des solutions à leurs propres problèmes.

 

Il existe une version plus sophistiquée de la « centralité » que l’on trouve par exemple chez Hubert Védrine. Védrine a plus de difficulté à nier l’évidence des faits (le malheur arabe a des causes arabes) que Fabius-Hollande-Obama. Pour lui le chaos des printemps arabes ne s’explique pas complètement par les travers d’Israël. Ouf ! Mais Védrine estime que la non-résolution du conflit israélo-palestinien –imputable à Israël– crée une toile de fond défavorable à la paix. Voila une affirmation intéressante mais qu’il faudrait étayer pour sortir des généralités. Védrine devrait expliquer en quoi cette « toile de fond » produit de l’instabilité pour toute une région. Il est à craindre qu’il ait bien du mal à faire sa démonstration.

 

On peut cependant identifier un facteur d’instabilité régionale manifeste, bien que secondaire ; la politique occidentale au Proche-Orient justement, celle des Védrine, Fabius, Hollande, Obama. En effet, chaque fois qu’ils menacent ou accusent Israël, ces dirigeants illustres injectent une dose d’euphorisant aux jihadistes. Fort de cet appui, leur bellicisme les incite à passer tout de suite à l’action.

 

Les exemples ne manquent pas pour illustrer cette réalité de la guerre au Proche-Orient encouragée volens nolens par l’Occident. La carrière terroriste d’Arafat a changé de dimension dans les années 70, à partir du moment où il a reçu la reconnaissance de l’Europe. En poussant furieusement à la politique d’Oslo, au soi-disant échange des « territoires contre la paix », l’Occident donnera à Arafat une infrastructure, une base arrière, de l’argent, des armes et des soldats. Il aura alors les moyens d’une guerre meurtrière, la seconde Intifada.

 

L’évacuation du Liban sud a donné au Hezbollah un tremplin rêvé pour agresser Israël, mais aussi pour subvertir les institutions du Liban au profit de l’Iran. En poussant Israël à évacuer Gaza, les euro-américains ont aussi donné au Hamas un tremplin rêvé pour agresser Israël, mais en même temps pour subvertir l’Égypte. Cette dernière a beaucoup de mal aujourd’hui à se débarrasser des métastases du Hamas au Sinaï.

 

Et aujourd’hui, le trio Fabius-Hollande-Obama est assez aveugle pour ne pas comprendre qu’avec un État palestinien aux mains de Mahmoud Abbas et du Fatah, une évacuation israélienne des anciennes Judée et Samarie, et une division de Jérusalem, des guerres israélo-arabes majeures sont inévitables. Et à la clé cette confrontation civilisationnelle entre l’islam et l’Occident qui est le cauchemar d’un Obama ou du Quai d’Orsay. En affaiblissant Israël et son pouvoir de dissuasion, les slogans de la centralité stimulent les forces de guerre et l’instabilité. Les apôtres occidentaux de la vertu et de la compassion alimentent de facto les feux de la violence au Proche-Orient, comme Gribouille se jette à l’eau par crainte de la pluie.

 

Ce n’est pas tout. Les mots dissimulent souvent une trame idéologique, qu’elle soit ou pas consciente et verbalisée. Quand on impute au minuscule Israël (8 millions d’habitants et 22.000 km2), les troubles structurels du monde Arabe (360 millions d’habitants et 13,7 millions de km2) et quand on maintient cette accusation en dépit des démentis criants de la réalité, on rejoint tout naturellement le long fleuve des réquisitoires antisémites. Comment ne pas voir qu’en soumettant Israël, le premier symbole juif contemporain, à l’infâme accusation d’être la source des troubles permanents d’une immense région, voire du monde (2), on réactive les grandes accusations antisémites, celle des Juifs ligués dans un vaste complot pour dominer le monde (Protocoles des Sages de Sion), et celle des nazis accusant les Juifs de provoquer des guerres.

 

Soulignant les différences entre l’antisionisme et l’antisémitisme, le journaliste anglais Brendan O'Neill a raison de se demander quand même ce que les antisionistes et les antisémites ont en commun. (3) Et il trouve qu’ils partagent quelque chose à coup férir : la tendance à lier les troubles et les vicissitudes du monde au comportement et aux croyances des Juifs, comme peuple ou comme État. En témoignent les sondages successifs à grande échelle qui placent Israël en tête des pays qui menacent la paix du monde. (4) Sur le champ politico-diplomatique, la doctrine de la centralité actualise l’accusation ancestrale à l’encontre des Juifs.

 

Les Fabius-Hollande-Obama tressailliront d’indignation à l’idée qu’on associe leurs savoureuses déclarations à quelque soupçon d’antisémitisme que ce soit. Ils en pratiquent pourtant la forme la plus actuelle en toute bonne foi, un peu comme monsieur Jourdain faisait de la prose. Les pratiques diffamatoires des Occidentaux sont d’autant plus répugnantes que les slogans de la centralité sont soigneusement calculés, et servis comme gages d’amitié à cette mince couche de potentats arabes au centre des exécrables campagnes antisémites qui déferlent sans répit sur le monde arabo-musulman depuis qu’Amin al Husseini, le mufti de Jérusalem, ami d’Hitler, a fait de la détestation des Juifs la pierre angulaire de son combat.

 

La ratification par la France, par l’Union européenne et par l’Amérique d’Obama du lien de causalité entre la politique d’Israël et l’instabilité du Moyen-Orient a aussi des effets directs sur les populations arabes et juives dans le monde. La confirmation par les grandes figures de l’Occident du mythe de l’occupant israélien, le corollaire de la centralité, tend à légitimer la détestation de l’État hébreu aux yeux des Arabes. Or c’est ce bouc émissaire qui les égare et les enchaine à des dirigeants corrompus et/ou incompétents qui profitent goulument du pouvoir. L’Occident aide ainsi à chloroformer des sociétés qui ont tant besoin d’oxygène et de nouveauté. S’ajoutant au fantasme de la souffrance coloniale, le mythe antisémite/antisionsite contribue aussi à entretenir des sentiments artificiels d’injustice et une posture victimaire véhémente dans les populations arabes vivant en Europe. C’est un obstacle important à leur implication dans la dynamique de leur continent d’accueil, en même temps qu’une menace physique potentielle pour les membres des diasporas juives.

 

Notes

 

1 – Favorite "Key Issue" Fizzles Out Douglas Murray 23 sept. 2013 http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3987/israel-palestinians-key-issue

 

2 – Dans sa version extensive, la centralité accuse la politique israélienne de menacer le monde entier dans la mesure où les troubles du Proche-Orient pourraient compromettre la paix mondiale.

 

3 – Anti-Zionists claim to be completely different to anti- Semites. But there's one key thing they have in common Brendan O'Neill The Telegraph 19 juill. 2013 http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/brendanoneill2/100227161/anti-zionists-claim-to-be-completely-different-to-anti-semites-but-theres-one-key-thing-they-have-in-common/

 

4 – Par exemple le sondage Eurobaromètre réalisé en 2003 par un groupe d'instituts d'opinion publique (Taylor Nelson Sofres/EOS Gallup Europe) sur commande de l'Union européenne, 59 % des Européens estimaient qu'Israël constituait aujourd'hui la "menace la plus sérieuse pour la paix du monde" Plus de 7500 personnes avaient été interrogées

 

 

PALESTINIAN PUZZLE: HAMAS BEFRIENDS HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS, REFUGEES, AND, ALONG WITH P.A., ASSAD

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, 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

 

 

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

 

Abbas, Hamas, Flirting With Syria's Assad: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Oct. 23, 2013— Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's gestures toward Syria's President Bashar Assad will only bring him closer to Iran, Hizbullah and radical Palestinian groups that oppose any peace with Israel.

Hamas: Benevolent Savior Of Syrian Refugees?: Nicole Brackman and Asaf Romirowsky, Forbes, Oct. 18, 2013 — Fiction and reality are often indistinguishably juxtaposed in the Middle East. This week, when Hamas called on Palestinians fleeing Syria to come to the Gaza instead of risking their lives at sea, it seemed a surreal caricature.

Hamas Strategy: Manipulate Human Rights Groups: Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi, Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, Oct. 24, 2013—Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh delivered a speech at the Rashad a-Shawa Center in Gaza on October 19, 2013, detailing Hamas’ positions on various issues, including adhering to the armed struggle to liberate all of Palestine and pleading for a third intifada (armed insurrection), as well as discussing inter-Palestinian relations and Hamas’ ties with Arab states, especially Egypt and Syria.

How Hamas dug its Gaza ‘terror tunnel,’ and how the IDF found it: Mitch Ginsberg, The Times of Israel, Oct. 16, 2013— The tunnel stretching from the outskirts of Khan Yunis to the fields of Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha was meant to facilitate a complex terror attack involving an assault on soldiers or civilians, with the intention of seizing a captive Israeli and holding him or her as a bargaining chip.

 

On Topic Links

Turkey — Friend or Foe?: Sheryl Saperia, National Post, Oct. 24, 2013       Middle East Peace Talks Go On, Under the Radar: Jodi Rudoren & Michael R. Gordon, New York Times, Oct. 23, 2013

Israel-Palestine Peace Talks: Where Are They?: Neville Teller, Jerusalem Post,  Oct. 23, 2013

Palestinian Authority – Billions in Aid Go Missing: David Singer, Arutz Sheva News, Oct. 22, 2013

Tunnel May Signal Shift In Hamas-Israel Conflict: Adnan Abu Amer, Al-Monitor, Oct. 22, 2013

 

ABBAS, HAMAS, FLIRTING WITH SYRIA’S ASSAD

Khaled Abu Toameh

Gatestone Institute, Oct. 23, 2013

 

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's gestures toward Syria's President Bashar Assad will only bring him closer to Iran, Hizbullah and radical Palestinian groups that oppose any peace with Israel.

Recently, both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas seem to have changed their policy toward the Syrian conflict. Neither Hamas nor the Palestinian Authority wants to be seen as siding with Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups, most likely out of fear that such support would cost the Palestinians Western sympathy and funding.

 

Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, relations between the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad regime and the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have been tense. Hamas's public support for the opposition forces led to the expulsion of its leaders from Syria; and the Palestinian Authority's failure to support publicly the Assad regime resulted in tensions between Damascus and Ramallah.

 

After losing faith in the Syrian opposition, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are now trying to mend fences with the regime of Syria's President, Bashar Assad. The two rival Palestinian parties are hoping that Assad will forgive them for failing to support his regime against the rebels – a move that has resulted, since the beginning of the civil war, in the displacement and death of tens of thousands of Palestinians living in Syria. More than 200,000 Palestinians have been forced to flee their homes in several refugee camps in Syria, while another 2,000 have been killed in the fighting between the Syrian army and the opposition forces.

 

The shift in the Palestinian Authority's stance became evident during Mahmoud Abbas's recent speech at the United Nations General Assembly. Referring to the Syrian crisis, Abbas said, "While we condemn the crime of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, we have affirmed our rejection of a military solution and the need to find a peaceful political solution to fulfill the aspirations of the Syrian people." The Assad regime did not conceal its satisfaction with Abbas's comments, especially his opposition to a "military solution." That Abbas refrained from holding the Assad regime responsible for the use of chemical weapons was also received with a sigh of relief in Damascus.

 

In his September 26, 2013 address to the UN General Assembly, PA President Mahmoud Abbas tried to improve damaged relations with Bashar Assad's regime, stating "while we condemn the crime of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, we have affirmed our rejection of a military solution and the need to find a peaceful political solution to fulfill the aspirations of the Syrian people." After Abbas's speech, Assad agreed to meet with senior PLO official Abbas Zaki, who relayed to him a letter from the Palestinian Authority president. The Syrian news agency Sana quoted the PLO envoy as telling Assad that the Palestinians support Syria in the face of "aggression." This statement means that the PLO has decided to support Assad against the various opposition groups fighting against his regime. Meanwhile, Hamas's efforts to patch up its differences with the Assad regime have thus far been less successful.

 

In the context of these efforts, Hamas leaders and spokesmen have stopped their rhetorical attacks on the Assad regime. In addition, Hamas has been working hard to distance itself from the Syrian "rebels," particularly those affiliated with Al-Qaeda. In a speech in Gaza City last weekend, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh assured Syria and other Arab countries that his movement does not meddle in their internal affairs. "We never sided with [Arab] country against the other," Haniyeh declared. "We are keen on a unified Arab and Islamic position toward the Palestinian cause." Like Abbas, Haniyeh also called for a "political solution and national understandings" in solving Arab disputes.

 

But while a rapprochement between Hamas and the Assad regime would only serve the Islamist movement's interests and help it rid itself of its growing state of isolation, especially in the aftermath of the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt, the renewal of ties between the Palestinian Authority and Damascus does not bode well for the future of the peace process.The Assad regime is not going to change its position toward peace with Israel to appease Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. Abbas's gestures toward Assad will only bring him closer to Iran, Hizbullah and radical Palestinian groups that oppose any peace process with Israel.

 

Contents

HAMAS: BENEVOLENT SAVIOR OF SYRIAN REFUGEES?

Nicole Brackman & Asaf Romirowsky

Forbes, Oct. 18, 2013

Fiction and reality are often indistinguishably juxtaposed in the Middle East. This week, when Hamas called on Palestinians fleeing Syria to come to the Gaza instead of risking their lives at sea, it seemed a surreal caricature.

 

The call — made by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh — came after the Libyan coast guard opened fire at a boat carrying 374 Palestinian refugees from Syria. The irony is that the Syrian refugees are indeed facing a real human tragedy, but it's not just the Palestinians among them. The Hamas offer — on the surface a generous humanitarian gesture — is in fact a none-too-subtle attempt to refocus global attention on the Palestinian refugee issue while turning a blind eye to the plight of non-Palestinians fleeing from Syria.

 

By all accounts, over a million Syrians have crossed the border seeking safe haven from the deadly violence there, which has killed upwards of 100,000 people in the last three years. The refugees have largely poured into Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Iraqi Kurdistan. These are areas which can ill afford to either house the refugees or endure the destabilizing economic, demographic, and potential political forces for which they become a catalyst. Other Arab nations — Gulf states with the petro-dollars to finance substantial aid efforts — have either refused to host Syrian refugees altogether (Bahrain) or sent token amounts of aid (Qatar, Saudi Arabia) to assist them.

 

The influx of Syrian refugees entering Lebanon (by August 2013, over 670,000) has challenged all conventional wisdom regarding the Palestinians refugees. Lebanon is singularly unequipped to absorb the refugees; the long memory of the shattering effects of an influx of Palestinians displaced by the Black September (1970) campaign of Jordan's King Hussein, and the subsequent decades-long bloody civil war that followed, lingers. The consequences of that war — a total devolution of Lebanon's political, economic, social, and religious infrastructure, a long occupation by Syria's Assad regime, and a shadow-state run by Shi'a dominated and Iran-financed Hezbollah — reverberate through Lebanon.

 

Jordan, which had (in August 2013) absorbed over half a million Syrians, has set aside separate refugee camps for Palestinians and forcibly repatriated some others. Accommodating by far the greatest number of Syrians, Turkey's resources are stretched to the limit and its government has begun accepting international resources; but Ankara is acutely concerned about the potential unrest fomented by the refugees (as well as Syrian rebel and Assad loyalist forces lurking among them).

 

Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey share another dilemma – that of how best to house the refugees. Refugees placed in camps are more easily organized and provided with services. Funding can be more transparently accounted through recognized agencies like UNHCR as well as other NGOs such as the Red Cross. The host countries also seem to believe that such camps can limit the potential political destabilization that rampant assimilation of the refugees into mainstream society may cause.

 

To date the United States has pledged more than $800 million in humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees. None has been specifically earmarked for Palestinians. Yet UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) continues to press for more money, arguing that its mission to 'provide emergency assistance to Palestine refugees' is endangered by the crisis. Another illustration of how UNRWA attempts to highlight the Palestinians as a "privileged group" that is the only group deserving attention from the world.

 

Unlike Lebanon, the 470,000 Palestinians in Syria have over the decades been granted the right to work in any profession; yet they are not citizens and cannot own property besides the houses in which they reside. Most Palestinians in Syria have never known another home and are effectively Syrian, as other groups in that country's ethno-religious patchwork. Unlike Christians, Druze and other groups now being turned into refugees or internally displaced persons, Palestinians have UNRWA to provide support and act as their advocate.

 

The Syrian refugee crisis highlights not only a temporary jurisdictional conflict between UNRWA and UNHCR; it also brings into focus questions over UNRWA's continued role. More than a bureaucratic snafu, the mandate of UNRWA – to protect and (at least ipso facto) perpetuate the status of Palestinians as refugees – is sharply at odds with that of UNHCR, which seeks to protect, integrate and resettle refugees so that they are no longer considered refugees. It is incumbent on the United Nations to reevaluate UNRWA's continued role. Hamas' exclusive offer reflects a larger 'truism' in global politics: Palestinian refugees – and the Israel/Palestinian dispute – are the fulcrum of conflict in the region and should necessarily draw special attention. The violence in Syria (as well as in Egypt) and the very real human tragedy visited upon over a million people, vividly underscores the spuriousness of the myth of Palestinian centrality.

 

Contents

 

HAMAS STRATEGY: MANIPULATE HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS

Lt. Col. Jonathan Halevi

Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, Oct. 24, 2013

 

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh delivered a speech at the Rashad a-Shawa Center in Gaza on October 19, 2013, detailing Hamas’ positions on various issues, including adhering to the armed struggle to liberate all of Palestine and pleading for a third intifada (armed insurrection), as well as discussing inter-Palestinian relations and Hamas’ ties with Arab states, especially Egypt and Syria.

 

In his address, Haniyeh expounded the strategy of Hamas, the largest Palestinian terrorist organization and offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. Hamas has established a political entity in the Gaza Strip, and supports a long list of terrorist groups, among them those ideologically identified with al-Qaeda. One of the significant means for attaining Hamas’ goals, according to Haniyeh, is a reliance on human rights organizations and Western left-wing groups whom he termed “liberals,” which, in his view, help the Palestinian people tackle the State of Israel in the political, legal, and public affairs arenas.

 

“We place our confidence on the support of the liberals in the world who oppose the occupation and iniquity caused by the Zionists to our people….Blessings to all the commissions, individuals, civil society groups, and human rights organizations that worked to break the siege on Gaza and who fought against the fence and the settlements. Moreover, we bear in mind those liberals of the world who stood by our cause and against the Zionist war on our land, and this reflects the consciousness of the nations regarding our just cause and the level of transgression and racism undertaken by the Zionist entity against our people,” Haniyeh said.

 

This reliance of a terrorist organization on human rights and left-wing groups as well as other international elements is but a stage in a general strategy by terrorists to employ diplomatic tools to serve as a complementary means to achieve the ultimate goals of Hamas’ Islamic ideology. According to Haniyeh, “It is well known that realizing the project of national liberation on the basis of the experience of peoples and nations requires the combination of (armed) struggle and diplomatic and political action, and diplomatic activity is no less important than armed conflict, and each aspect complements the other. Yet for this to succeed there must be no conflict between these policies and the struggle, the diplomatic action cannot be taken in isolation, neither can it be executed in a careless manner or at a distance from the basic tenets of this issue.”

 

On the basis of these principles, Haniyeh expanded on Hamas’ strategy, which is committed to conducting an all-out campaign against the State of Israel, which, in addition to Jihad (holy war), also has diplomatic, legal, media, and popular aspects. These measures, with boycott being one of the operative aspects most favored by Haniyeh in this context, are intended to wear down the State of Israel, eroding its staying power and resilience, and thus assisting in bringing about Israel’s ultimate elimination…

 

At the conclusion of his address the Hamas prime minister referred to the dire consequences of the “firm hand” policy employed by the military regime in Egypt vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip, manifested by curtailing the passage of people and goods through the Rafah crossing and the destruction of hundreds of tunnels that enabled uninterrupted imports from Egypt at a level above $1 billion annually, constituting an important source of revenue for the Hamas government.

 

 “In light of this negative development we emphasize the following,” Haniyeh stated. “We place full responsibility for this siege on the Israeli occupation and its consequences and we register a violation of international law, which is tantamount to crimes against humanity, and we appeal to reopen all crossing points and allow all goods into the Gaza Strip, especially construction materials and raw materials according to international law.” Thus, Hamas, which supports an all-out struggle against Israel and backs a boycott of Israel, demands that the State of Israel supply the Gaza Strip with Israeli products.

 

Haniyeh also saw fit once again to plead with left-wing Western organizations to help Hamas on this point, not versus Egypt, which has curtailed exports to Gaza, but with regard to Israel, which he portrayed as the enemy Hamas strives to annihilate. “We call upon our people and our nation and liberals around the world, in Europe and in other places that support our cause, to continue their activity to break the siege and expand them (these activities),” Haniyeh stated. He called on “human rights organizations, civil society groups and the liberals of the world to condemn the Zionist siege of Gaza,” noting that “we call on anyone who can to press legal charges in the International Criminal Court against the Israeli occupation on grounds of war crimes against our helpless Palestinian people.”

 

Regarding the genocide of the Syrian population and the wide-scale massacres taking place in the Arab world in recent years (in Iraq, Libya, Egypt, etc.), the Hamas prime minister did not request the assistance of left-wing groups and human rights organizations. To him, these are merely “internal issues” of these states.

 

Contents

 

 

HOW HAMAS DUG ITS ‘TERROR TUNNEL,’ AND HOW THE IDF FOUND IT

Mitch Ginsburg

The Times of Israel, Oct. 16, 2013

 

The tunnel stretching from the outskirts of Khan Yunis to the fields of Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha was meant to facilitate a complex terror attack involving an assault on soldiers or civilians, with the intention of seizing a captive Israeli and holding him or her as a bargaining chip. Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk confirmed as much on Tuesday, two days after Israeli authorities revealed their discovery.

 

“The tunnel which was revealed was extremely costly in terms of money, effort and blood,” Abu Marzouk wrote on his Facebook page. “All of this is meaningless when it comes to freeing our heroic prisoners.” He went on to detail the lucrative nature of the Gilad Shalit deal, in which 1,027 prisoners were released after the Israeli soldier was kidnapped in just such an attack.

 

Slightly less clear was the manner in which such an “extremely advanced and well prepared” tunnel, as the Gaza Division commander called it, was dug and, later, detected. “They’d begin with a shaft, drilling straight down,” said a former Southern Command officer who served in the IDF’s geology unit. “Then they’d start to move horizontally.” The earth in which the tunnelers began drilling, in the eastern Gaza Strip, he said, is characterized by calcium carbonate – a sort of sand that is fossilized with sea shells. Other parts of Gaza have simple sand layers – beneath dunes – and shallower water tables, and are thus, on both accounts, less conducive to tunneling. In the Rafah region, for instance, he said the water table was perhaps 20 meters beneath the surface. In the Khan Yunis-Ein Hashlosha region, northeast of Rafah, the water table, which sits at around sea level, was roughly 60 meters beneath the surface. The Ein Hashlosha tunnel, which was discovered on October 7 and revealed to the public on Sunday, was 20 meters at its deepest. Counterintuitively, the deeper one digs the more stable the tunnel.

 

“Tunneling is a question of stability of the rocks or soils surrounding the underground cavity,” said the IDF reserves officer. “In principle, the deeper the tunnel, the greater the stability.” To illustrate the difficulties of tunneling just beneath the surface in sand, he suggested recalling days at the beach as a child and the constant caving in of all holes “at the face of the excavation near the surface.” Tunneling through uncemented sands, he said, “can be a nightmare in terms of stability.” The fossilized dunes are more difficult to dig through but are likely to be more stable. He said that the tunnelers in the Gaza Strip have “a very good knowledge” of the ground conditions and would likely have chosen the more stable soil as their surface of choice. Nonetheless, the diggers, whom he deemed professionals, took the unusual precaution of supporting the tunnel with cement arches all through its length. “More often one sees wood used as a support structure,” he added.

 

All told, some 3,400 cubic meters of soil were excavated from the earth in carving the tunnel, the geologist estimated. A mountain of earth that size, even if carted away daily on trucks, leaves a traceable signature and is one way in which the IDF is able to spot the hallmarks of a tunnel. Other ways, according to an academic tunnel-detection expert, include devices that measure sub-surface sound, the strength and direction of a magnetic field, and the propagation or spread of radio and light waves. The seismic method is the most intuitive and monitors the tremors created by people moving and digging underground…

 

Finally, Israeli researchers Asaf Klar and Raphael Linker, both of the Technion Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, developed a system based on fiber-optic cables that can detect a tunnel at a depth of more than 20 meters. The system forms an underground fence that could “analyze the tunneling-induced changes in the optical fiber,” according to the Technion’s literature, and, on the basis of computer software models, pinpoint the location of the tunnel. The tunnel detection expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the Technion-developed system analyzes the shift in the wavelength of a laser beam that travels through a fiber optic cable and in that way detects tunneling activity. And yet, he said, each technique has its drawbacks and “what usually works is a combination of all of these approaches.”

                                                Contents

On Topic

 

Turkey — Friend or Foe?: Sheryl Saperia, National Post, Oct. 24, 2013  Is it time for Canada to designate Turkey as a state sponsor of terror? The question may strike some as surprising.  

                                                                                                        Middle East Peace Talks Go On, Under the Radar: Jodi Rudoren & Michael R. Gordon, New York Times, Oct. 23, 2013 A recent Israeli editorial cartoon depicted the lead Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators beleaguered on treadmills, with Secretary of State John Kerry between them. Hands on the controls, Mr. Kerry was shown saying, “I’m upping the tempo a bit more.”                                                                                                                                                                                              Israel-Palestine Peace Talks: Where Are They?: Neville Teller, Jerusalem Post,  Oct. 23, 2013: It does not seem beyond the bounds of possibility that, far from breaking up in failure and recrimination, the peace discussions may indeed yield something positive.                                                                                                                            

 

Palestinian Authority – Billions in Aid Go Missing: David Singer, Arutz Sheva News, Oct. 22, 2013: A European watchdog reports that billions have disappeared into PLO leaders coffers.     

 

                                                                                                          Tunnel May Signal Shift In Hamas-Israel Conflict: Adnan Abu Amer, Al-Monitor, Oct. 22, 2013:  There has been a lot of talk in the Gaza Strip about the Israeli army’s announcement on Oct. 10 that it had discovered a tunnel dug by Palestinians from east of Abasan, in southern Gaza, to the nearby kibbutz of Ein Hashlosha, in Israel.
 

 
 

 

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Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

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Contents:  Weekly Quotes |  Short Takes On Topic Links

 

 


Download a pdf version of today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf

 On Topic Links

The (Social) World in Which Israel and Hamas Do Converse : Joshua Mitnick, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 22, 2013

The Last of the Sheiks?: Christopher M. Davidson, New York Times, Oct. 20, 2013

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“I think a partial deal that leaves Iran with these capabilities is a bad deal…you wisely insisted there wouldn’t be a partial deal with Syria, you were right. If (Syrian President Bashar) Assad had said, ‘I’d like to keep 20 percent, 50 percent, or 80 percent of my chemical weapons capability,’ you would have refused — and correctly so.”—   Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at a private meeting in Rome. (Washington Post, Oct. 23, 2013)

“I’ve worked in this field for a long time, and I’ve studied the history. I know of no analogous period. I’ve never seen so many disagreements on so many key fronts all at once. And I’ve never seen such a willingness on the part of the Saudis to publicly express their frustration…Iran is the number one issue — the only issue for Saudi policy makers. When you add up the whole Middle Eastern map — Syria, Iraq, Iran — it looks to the Saudis as if the US is throwing Sunni allies under the bus by trying to cut a deal with Iran and its allies.” — Michael Doran, a Middle East expert with the Brookings Institution who served on the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration, commenting on Saudi Arabia’s rejection of a UN Security Council seat and criticism of US foreign policy in the Middle East. (Daily Telegraph, Oct. 23, 2013)

 

“The greater the pressure, the greater the chances for diplomacy to succeed…It would be unwise, to say the least, to ease the pressure on Iran before you get a final and satisfactory solution to the problem…The Iranians are trying to save the Iranian economy and to save their nuclear project. They’re trying to have them both, to save them both, and to manoeuvre in order to get this,” Mr. Steinitz said. “And the world should tell them, enough is enough. … If you decide to proceed with your military nuclear project, you will destroy the Iranian economy, and maybe expose yourselves to military attack…and there is no third way. Nothing in between. No place to manoeuvre…Canada is very influential and can exercise its influence elsewhere – in Europe, in China, in America, in Russia, and elsewhere. It’s very important. And I know that the Canadian government is already doing so.” With Iran, he said, the world must stop its military nuclear program, and only pressure will work. “This is the main working tool. Actually the only tool, why give it up before satisfactory results?” — Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, in Canada this week for meetings with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. (Globe & Mail, Oct. 20, 2013)

 

“Given Iran’s refusal to halt its illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs, the Senate should immediately move forward with a new round of economic sanctions targeting all remaining Iranian government revenue and reserves.” — U.S. Senator Mark S. Kirk, an Illinois Republican and Iran hawk. (New York Times, Oct. 18, 2013)

 

“Anyone who seeks to harm Israel should know it is more powerful than meets the eye”, President Shimon Peres said Tuesday during a visit to the Palmahim Air Force base. Commenting on the IAF’s hidden strength, and hinting to Iran and other enemies of Israel, Peres said: “The full power of the army and the air force is not visible to the naked eye, but anyone who is disdainful of Israel and plans to attack us, should take this into account.” —Former President Shimon Peres, speaking on Tuesday, Oct. 22. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 22, 2013)

 

 “In December 2010, Nigeria experienced its first wave of terrorist bombings at Christian churches. In 2011, we had our first-ever suicide car bombing, at the United Nations headquarters here. The explosion rattled my nearby office building. Flinging myself on the floor, I assumed it was an earthquake. A bomb was still the last thing on my mind. Just a few years ago, we thought terrorism was something that happened in faraway countries, like Israel. Now we know differently; the threat hangs over us all the time. Some weeks ago, shortly before Nigeria’s independence day, I received a mass text message. Nigeria was going to turn 53 years old a few days later, on Oct. 1, and there were concerns that the [Islamist] terrorist group Boko Haram might have planned something special to mark the big day in the country’s capital city. “Dear All,” the message read, “The Diplomatic Missions in Abuja have received a security alert today morning from the Federal Govt requesting everyone to stay indoors and not to visit any shopping malls or public places which is crowded for the next few days. Please inform all your dear ones!” — Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, Nigerian author of the novel I Do Not Come to You By Chance, in a New York Times op-ed piece. (New York Times, Oct. 23, 2013)

 

“In an hour, we will bury a soldier who was murdered by a Palestinian so that his body could be traded and a terrorist could be released from jail, this is a tactic that, unfortunately, has been used in the past. 1,500 Israelis were killed after Israel signed a peace accord with the Palestinians. These are the fruits of peace” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, expressing skepticism about the current round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, calling it “another political process our allies think will bring peace.” —Ya’alon was speaking with Christian lawmakers from around the world at the Israel Allies Foundation’s Jerusalem Chairman’s Conference. (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 23, 2013)

 

 “I grew up with the words, ‘never again,’ it is kind of inconceivable that there are people who say the Holocaust didn’t exist. George Horner is a living contradiction of what those people are saying.” (Ma) said Horner was able to survive “because he had music, because he had friends, because the power of music could fill in the empty spaces. To me George Horner is a huge hero, and is a huge inspiration, he is a witness to a window, and to a slice of history, that we never want to see again, and yet we keep seeing versions of that all over the world. I hope we are inspired by that and we keep that memory forever.” —world renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma speaking about George Horner, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor who made his orchestral debut with Ma on Tuesday to benefit a foundation dedicated to preserving the work of artists and musicians killed by the Nazis. (The Times of Israel, Oct. 23, 2013)

 

FROM THE PAST: “The Zionists want only one thing, Jewish immigration; and this Jewish immigration is what the Arabs do not want. This means that [Zionist colonization] can proceed and develop only under the protection of a power that is independent of the native population – behind an iron wall, which the native population cannot breach. In this matter there is no difference between our ‘militarists’ and our ‘vegetarians.’ Except that the first prefer that the iron wall should consist of Jewish soldiers, and the others are content that they should be British.”— Revisionist Zionist Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote in The Iron Wall (1923) (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 22, 2013)

 

Contents

 

SHORT TAKES

 

JERUSALEM’S SECULAR MAYOR FENDS OFF STRONG CHALLENGER TO WIN REELECTION—(Jerusalem) Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem — a former high-tech venture capitalist who has been fighting to maintain the city’s secular and less strictly religious population — won reelection here as final votes were counted early Wednesday and his opponent conceded. Barkat faced a strong challenger, Moshe Leon, who was supported by two powerful political brawlers — and strange bedfellows: Avigdor Lieberman, founder of a nationalist, sometimes even anti-rabbinical party created to represent the interests of Russian-speaking Israelis, and Aryeh Deri, the leader of the Shas party, which serves ultra-Orthodox Jews whose roots are in the Middle East and North Africa. Leon’s loss will reflect less on the candidate and more on his patrons Lieberman and Deri, who are seen by supporters as political kingmakers in Israel — a designation that could take a hit after his defeat. Barkat’s political base is built upon the middle-class, center-right Jerusalem Jews who are less strict in their religious practices than the ultra-Orthodox residents, who now make up about one-third of the city. (Washington Post, Oct. 22, 2013)

 

TRADITION OF NOT VOTING KEEPS PALESTINIANS POLITICALLY POWERLESS IN JERUSALEM—(Jerusalem) As part of a broader “anti-normalization” campaign, the Palestinian leadership has for decades warned residents against casting ballots. So a vast majority do not vote, despite the possibility that their large numbers could win a solid blocking minority on the 31-member City Council, if not a winning coalition with sympathetic Israelis. “The whole thing is not really rational,” said Sari Nusseibeh, president of Al Quds University, whose family has 1,300-year roots in Jerusalem. “It’s not by reason that people are guided; it’s by sentiments and feelings and fears and histories.” Mr. Nusseibeh once advocated Palestinian voting, backing an Arab newspaper publisher who ran for mayor in 1987 but withdrew after his cars were burned and his home vandalized. Yet Mr. Nusseibeh himself has never voted here, either. (New York Times, Oct. 21, 2012)

 

YA’ALON: WEST BANK SEEING ‘INFECTIOUS’ WAVE OF TERROR ATTACKS,’ BUT NO SIGNS OF INTIFADA— (Hebron) Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Tuesday warned that an "infectious wave of terror attacks" was being seen in the West Bank over the past month, but said he did not see signs of a third intifada. Speaking during a tour of Hebron, Ya'alon said that six terror attacks had taken place in the West Bank over the past month, but added that they were carried out by individuals and did not have an organization such as Fatah or Hamas behind them. Ya'alon blamed continued incitement by the Palestinian Authority for the attacks. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 22, 2013)

 

ISLAMIC JIHAD PLANNER OF BUS BOMB KILLED IN EXCHANGE OF FIRE WITH IDF—(Tel Aviv) An Islamic Jihad member, who took part in the planning of a 2012 Tel Aviv bus bombing during Operation Pillar of Defense, was killed in an exchange of fire with the IDF at a cave hideout near the West Bank village of Bil’in, security forces announced on Tuesday. Muhammad Asi, of the Palestinian village of Bet Likya, was one of the planners of the bus attack that injured 29 civilians in Tel Aviv, the IDF said. The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) spent months tracking down his location, before homing in on his hideout in the cave, where he had been staying for several weeks. Launching an operation to apprehend him early on Tuesday, the Shin Bet, IDF, and Israel Police circled the cave, a senior army source said, and came under fire. Soldiers fired two LAV anti-tank missiles in response, killing Asi. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 22, 2013)

 

BOMBER TIED TO AL QAEDA KILLS DOZENS IN SYRIAN CITY— (Beirut) A suicide bomber detonated a truck filled with propane tanks at a crowded military checkpoint in central Syria on Sunday, killing more than 30 people, most of them civilians, in the second such attack by fighters linked to Al Qaeda in two days. The attack, which was reported both by the state-run news media and by antigovernment activists, shook the city of Hama, ignited dozens of cars and sent up a column of smoke visible for miles around. One activist said the secondary explosions of bursting gas tanks had continued long after the initial blast. Activists said the Nusra Front, one of the two Qaeda affiliates fighting alongside the rebels who seek to topple President Bashar al-Assad, was responsible for the attack. The bombing followed a similar attack that killed 16 soldiers east of Damascus the day before, suggesting an increasing reliance on suicide attacks to try to break government strongholds that the rebels are unable to take by conventional means. More than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria in two and a half years of conflict. (New York Times, Oct. 20, 2013)

 

TORONTO TRANSIT TURNS DOWN ‘INACCURATE’ ANTI-ISRAEL ADS— (Toronto)  The Toronto Transit Commission rejected four anti-Israel advertisements for being “inaccurate and misleading.” Brad Ross, a spokesman for the transit commission, [said] Monday that the ads were turned down because they were “inaccurate and misleading.” The ads were intended to run on buses and subways, as well as the commission’s shelters. Proposed by the Montreal-based Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, the ads were similar to the “Disappearing Palestine” ad that ran this summer in Vancouver’s transit system. The Vancouver ad showed four maps, spanning from 1946 to 2012, that suggested Israel was taking over Palestinian land. The CJPME ads claimed that Palestinian “loss of land” has been “unfair” and “illegal under international law.” “Our legal opinion,” Ross said, “is that there has never been a finding by any international court or tribunal with respect to the illegality of loss of land, and by making that statement, it potentially could cause discrimination or advocate hate towards a specified group, in this case Israelis and/or the Jewish people.” Ross said the four ads contained similar language, maps and the line “illegal under international law.” He said “the real legal issue” for the transit commission “was a statement that we determined to be either inaccurate or misleading.” (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 22, 2013)

 

ISRAEL’S NEWEST GENERAL, 100 YEARS OLD, FINALLY HEALS HIS WOUNDS—(Tel Aviv) Israel’s newest general, a 100-year-old man who received his longed-for promotion in August, was exasperated. Seated on the couch in his Kfar Yona home, beyond earshot of his in-house caretaker, he lamented the roller coaster of calm and crisis on Israel’s southwestern border. “Give me Gaza,” Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yitzhak Pundak said, “and I’ll do just what I did back when I was the governor.” That was in 1971. At the time, Pundak said, the locals would ask his permission to play soccer. They’d ask him to ref the matches. The border was quiet. The train ran daily from Gaza to Tel Aviv. Terror, he went on, would be met with a firm hand. Here’s what he would not be doing: fortifying more Israeli homes and bombing tunnels. “People fire at you and you bomb their tunnels. “How nice,” he said in his broad Polish accent, stretching the Hebrew vowels. “How nice.” No, he would open up the Strip and offer residents ample employment, and he would wage war each time a rocket was fired on Israel to force the Palestinians “to sit quietly.” “But I’m 100 years and 2 months old. What do I know?” (Times of Israel, Oct. 21, 2013)

 

 

Contents

 

 

On Topic

The (Social) World in Which Israel and Hamas Do Converse: Joshua Mitnick, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 22, 2013—Officially, Israel and Hamas don’t talk. In the so-called Twitterverse, however, the two sworn enemies engaged in a rare, but brief, dialogue on Tuesday. The direct exchange began with a tweet by Lt. Col. Peter Lerner. The Israeli army’s foreign media chief spokesman defended an arrest operation reported Tuesday in which a Palestinian accused of involvement in a 2012 bus bombing was killed in the West Bank.

The Last of the Sheiks?: Christopher M. Davidson, New York Times, Oct. 20, 2013— This summer, disgruntled Saudis took their grievances online in droves, complaining of ever-growing inequality, rising poverty, corruption and unemployment. Their Twitter campaign became one of the world’s highest trending topics. It caused great alarm within elite circles in Saudi Arabia and sent ripples throughout the region. The rallying cry that “salaries are not enough” helped to prove that the monarchy’s social contract with its people is now publicly coming unstuck, and on a significant scale.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Editor, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research/L'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme,   www.isranet.org Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284. mailto:ber@isranet.org

 

 

 

 

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