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

Month: November 2013

NO SURPRISES THIS HOLIDAY SEASON AS UN PERPETUATES ONE-SIDED CAMPAIGN AGAINST ISRAEL— DESPITE INCREASING PATENCY

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:         

The Festival Of Lights 5774: Baruch Cohen, Nov. 29, 2013 — The first Hanukkah was celebrated in Jerusalem in the year 164 BCE on the twenty-fifth day of Kislev.

Chanukah Guide For the Perplexed, 2013: Yoram Ettinger, Algemeiner, Nov. 27, 2013 — For the first time – and never again – the first day of Chanukah will be celebrated on Thanksgiving, the fourth Thursday in November, Nov. 28, 2013.    

UN Condemns Israel 6 Times, Declares “Year of Palestine”: Hillel Neuer, Times of Israel, Nov. 27, 2013 — The U.N. General Assembly is poised to condemn Israel in six resolutions today, the most significant of which declares 2014 as a “Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian people.”                                  

The UN and Israel: A History of Discrimination: Joshua Muravchik, World Affairs, Nov/Dec, 2013 — Unfortunately . . . Israel [has] suffered from bias—and sometimes even discrimination” at the United Nations, said none other than the UN’s highest official, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, speaking in Jerusalem in August.                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Banality of Robbing the Jews: Sarah Gensburger, New York Times, Nov. 15, 2013 — The recent discovery of more than 1,400 prized paintings in the Munich residence of Cornelius Gurlitt, an art collector whose father collaborated with the Nazis, has brought the pillage of the Jews back into the limelight.

 

On Topic Links

 

From “Four Score” to “Yes We Can!”: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 18, 2013                                                                 

An Outbreak of Lawlessness: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Nov. 28, 2013

Teaching About the Holocaust in a Small Town in Romania: Raphael Vago, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 7, 2013

Exile, Prejudice, Victory: A Jewish Thanksgiving Story From the New World: Steve Brodner, Tablet, Nov. 27, 2013

 

 

THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS 5774                                                    Baruch Cohen  

Nov. 29, 2013

 

                                                                       In Loving Memory of Malka z’l

 

The first Hanukkah was celebrated in Jerusalem in the year 164 BCE, on the twenty-fifth day of Kislev.

 

To understand the meaning of Hanukkah, we must look into the ancient world, and see some of the similarities that exist between that period and our present day lives.  Hanukkah in fact celebrates the victory of Hebraism over Hellenism. The victory of the camp of light over the camp of darkness. A flame rising from the camp of freedom and democracy – against the principles of totalitarianism, and bigotry.

 

The primary aim of the Maccabees to preserve their own identity in face of Syrian Greek religious oppression, to safeguard Israel's role as a “light unto the nations.” It was not only a struggle against the danger of physical extermination, but one to affirm the value and joy of Judaism.

 

The Jewish people have a long history of surviving in defiance of savage murder and aggression. Our roots are in ancient, and modern,  Israel, our old/new homeland, and our defense today, as then, lies with our heroic Maccabees, today the IDF, Israel's Defense Force . Our brave Israeli soldiers are the shield of the Jewish people in our ongoing fight for freedom, democracy, independence, and security–for the Jewish state, the land of Israel, and the entire Jewish people.

 

The splendor of our Fathers' lives!  Hod avinu chai! Hag Hannukah Sameach! Happy Festival of Lights 5774 to all CIJR's supporters and friends, to the Jewish people, and to all men and women of good will!!

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CHANUKAH GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED, 2013                                 Yoram Ettinger

Algemeiner, Nov. 27, 2013

 

1.  For the first time – and never again – the first day of Chanukah will be celebrated on Thanksgiving, the fourth Thursday in November, Nov. 28, 2013. Since the Jewish calendar is based on a 19 year cycle (when a “leap month” is added – seven times – to the shorter Jewish year) and Thanksgiving is part of a 7 year cycle, they coincide every 133 years.  However, Thanksgiving was formally adopted by President Lincoln in 1863, and therefore it could not coincide with Chanukah 133 years ago, in 1861. Moreover, due to the moving gap between the Jewish lunar calendar (with 29-30 day months) and the general Gregorian solar calendar, they will not coincide before the year 79,811….

 

2.  David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of the Jewish State, stated: “The struggle of the Maccabees was one of the most dramatic clashes of civilizations in human history, not merely a political-military struggle against foreign oppression…. The meager Jewish people did not assimilate, as did many peoples.  The Jewish people prevailed, won, sustained and enhanced their independence and unique civilization…. The Hasmoneans overcame one of the most magnificent spiritual, political and military challenges in Jewish history due to the spirit of the people, rather than the failed spirit of the establishment ….” (Uniqueness and Destiny, pp 20-22, Ben Gurion, IDF Publishing, 1953).

 

3. Chanukah is the only Jewish holiday that commemorates a Land of Israel national liberation struggle, unlike Passover (the Exodus from Egypt), Sukkot/Tabernacles and Shavuot/Pentecost (on the way from Egypt to the Land of Israel) and Purim (deliverance of Jews in the Persian Empire). Chanukah is the longestJewish holiday (8 days) with the most intense element of light (8 consecutive nights of lighting candles).

 

4. The critical Chanukah developments occurred, mostly, in the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria: Mitzpah (also the Prophet Samuel’s burial site), Beth El (Judah’s first headquarters), Beth Horon (Judah’s victory over Seron), Hadashah (Judah’s victory over Nicanor), Beth Zur (Judah’s victory over Lysias), Ma’aleh Levona (Judah’s victory over Apolonius), Adora’yim (a Maccabean fortress), Elazar and Beit  Zachariya (Judah’s first defeat), Ba’al Hatzor (where Judah was defeated and killed) and the Judean Desert.  Unified Jerusalem was the Capital of the Maccabees. Thus, Chanukah is not a holiday of “occupied territories”; Chanukah highlights the moral-high-ground of Jews in their ancestral land.

 

5. Shimon the Maccabee – who succeeded his brothers, Judah and Yonatan – defied an ultimatum by the Syrian emperor, Antiochus (Book of Maccabees A, Chapter 15, verse 33), who demanded an end to the “occupation” of Jerusalem, Jaffa, Gaza, Gezer and Akron. Shimon declared: ”We have not occupied a foreign land; we have not ruled a foreign land; we have liberated the land of our forefathers from foreign occupation.”

 

6.  The name Maccabee (מכבי or מקבי) is a derivative of the Hebrew word Makevet (מקבת), Power Hammer, which described Judah’s tenacious and decisive fighting capabilities. Or, it could be a derivative of the Hebrew verb Cabeh (כבה), to extinguish, which described the fate of Judah’s adversaries. Another source of the name suggests that Maccabee, מכבי, is the Hebrew acronym of “Who could resemble you among Gods, Jehovah” (מי כמוך באלים יי). However, the saga of the Maccabees was written, during ancient times, in Latin, which sometimes pronounces C like a TZ.  Hence, Maccabee could be the Latin spelling of the Hebrew word Matzbee, the commander.

 

7.  Chanukah’s historical context is narrated in the Books of the Maccabees and the Scroll of Antiochus. Alexander The Great – who held Judaism in high esteem and whose Egyptian heir, Ptolemy II, translated the Torah to Greek — died in 323 BCE following 12 glorious years. Consequently, the Greek Empire disintegrated into five provinces, and 30 years later into three kingdoms: Macedonia, Syria and Egypt. The Land of Israel was militarily contested by Syria and Egypt. In 198 BCE, Israel was conquered by the Syrian Antiochus III, who considered the Jewish State as an ally. In 175 BCE, a new king assumed power in Syria, Antiochus (IV) Epiphanies, who wished to replace Judaism with Hellenic values and assumed that Jews were allies of Egypt. In 169 BC, upon his return to Syria from a war against Egypt, he devastated Jerusalem, massacred the Jews, forbade the practice of Judaism (including the Sabbath, circumcision, etc.) and desecrated Jerusalem and the Temple. The 167 BCE-launched rebellion against the Syrian (Seleucid) kingdom featured the Hasmonean (Maccabee) family: Mattityahu, a priest from the town of Modi’in, and his five sons, Yochanan, Judah, Shimon, Yonatan and Elazar. The heroic (and tactically creative) battles conducted by the Maccabees, were consistent with the reputation of Jews as superb warriors, who were frequently hired as mercenaries by Egypt, Syria, Rome and other global and regional powers.

[To Read The Full Article Follow This Link – ed. ]

 

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UN CONDEMNS ISRAEL SIX TIMES, DECLARES “YEAR OF PALESTINE”    Hillel Neuer

Times of Israel, Nov. 27, 2013

 

The U.N. General Assembly is poised to condemn Israel in six resolutions today, the most significant of which declares 2014 as a “Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian people.” In a related development, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has categorically rejected the now-famous UN interpreter’s criticism of anti-Israel bias, caught on an open microphone, through his spokesperson’s response to a reporter’s question seeking the UN chief’s views on the now-famous gaffe, the video of which Prime Minister Netanyahu played to his cabinet meeting last week. As seen on the YouTube video, publicized by UN Watch today, Ban’s spokesperson on November 19th told journalists that “the Secretary-General respects the right of the Member States as they move forward on their resolutions” which, he insisted, “need to be upheld by all countries.”

 

Given that Ban Ki-M oon has himself criticized the singling out of Israel by UN bodies such as the Human Rights Council, I am disappointed that he is rejecting and refusing to acknowledge the simple truth of the UN interpreter’s candid and entirely correct observations. After all, if the secretary-general could voice disappointment at the Human Rights Council’s “decision to single out Israel as the only specific regional item on its agenda, given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world,” why can’t he endorse the virtually identical sentiment expressed by the interpreter at this year’s absurd amount of General Assembly resolutions singling out Israel?

Today’s cluster of condemnations will be adopted as the UN observes its annual “Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” which was held four days earlier than usual due to the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. The event is usually held on November 29, to effectively mourn the day the UN voted to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. Beyond the hypocrisy of adopting six resolutions on Israel and none on egregious abusers of human rights such as China, Russia, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia, there is a particular absurdity in the content of the resolutions. We have a resolution condemning Israel for its actions on the Golan Heights yet none on Syria’s massacre of 100,000 of its own people; the same text also absurdly asks Israel to immediately hand the population in the Golan over to the murderous rule of Syria’s Assad regime. There are also resolutions recognizing the self-determination of the Palestinians, even though the UN already recognized Palestine as a state; yet there is no resolution on the right to self-determination of the Tibetans, who really could use such a text.

 

There will be massive politicization in 2014 at the UN now that it has been declared a year for “Palestinian solidarity.” The resolution requests the UN “to organize activities to be held during the year, in cooperation with Governments, relevant organizations of the United Nations system, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations.”

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THE UN AND ISRAEL: A HISTORY OF DISCRIMINATION                      Joshua Muravchik

World Affairs, Nov/Dec, 2013

 

“Unfortunately . . . Israel [has] suffered from bias—and sometimes even discrimination” at the United Nations, said none other than the UN’s highest official, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, speaking in Jerusalem in August. Back at headquarters a week later, Ban withdrew the substance of the comment without denying he had made it. The retraction was less surprising than the original assertion, which was remarkable because of the identity of the speaker, not for what was said, the reality of which is about as well concealed as the sun on a cloudless noon.

 

Israel’s status as a pariah state at the United Nations reflected a change in the world body dating from the 1970s. In its early decades, the UN was dominated by the Cold War competition between East and West, but between 1952 and 1968 these two blocs became outnumbered by a third, as the UN’s rolls increased from eighty-two to one hundred and twenty-six member states. Most of the new members were former colonies that had recently won their independence, and they formed what became the leading bloc at the UN, the Non-Aligned Movement. The dearest cause of the NAM was anti-colonialism, which put the West in the dock. Thus, the new bloc was non-aligned far more emphatically with the West than with the Communist world. Indeed, while the Soviet Union was held at arm’s length by the NAM, other Communist states, some of them Soviet-allied, such as Cuba and Vietnam, played leading roles in the organization.

 

The new anti-Western, anti-American zeitgeist of the UN, and the dominance of the NAM, with President Nasser of Egypt among its leaders and many Arab and other Muslim states among its members, reshaped the body’s stance toward the Middle East and its central “conflict.” It became the principal instrument for advancing Arab claims and actions against Israel, including even legitimating Palestinian terrorism.

 

Thus, in October 1974, fourteen years before the Palestine Liberation Organization even nominally forswore terrorism, the General Assembly voted to invite the organization to send a spokesman to take part in its deliberations. No one who was not a representative of a government—except the pope, and even he was the head of a quasi-state—had ever before been granted such a privilege, but the vote was overwhelming, one hundred and five to four, with only the United States, Israel, and two Latin American governments opposed.

Not a single European or other major industrial state joined America in resisting this extraordinary move. Most of them abstained, although a handful voted with the majority, largely because the PLO had proved so adept at playing on European fears. Harris Schoenberg, an author who represented the NGO B’nai B’rith at the UN, interviewed various European delegates who told him that “PLO spokesmen had undertaken to halt and actively seek to prevent further Arab aerial piracy and terrorist attacks in countries other than Israel if permitted to participate in the General Assembly debate.”

 

The assembled delegates heard Yasir Arafat proclaim the necessity of getting at the “historical roots” of the issue, namely, “the Jewish invasion of Palestine [that] began in 1881,” and addressing it with a “radical . . . antidote,” rather than “a slavish obeisance to the present.” The “present” from which Arafat wished to banish “obeisance” was the very existence of Israel. He pledged his “resolve to build a new world . . . a world free of colonialism, imperialism, neo-colonialism, and racism in each of its instances, including Zionism.” This harangue was received with a standing ovation unique in its intensity. An alliance of Communist and third-world states was after the scalps of its chosen enemies. The United States, in the throes of losing its agonizing war in Vietnam, resisted with diminished strength, often unable to rally even its Western allies.                                                                                                                                            [To Read The Full Article Follow This Link – ed. ]              

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 THE BANALITY OF ROBBING THE JEWS

Sarah Gensburger

 New York Times, Nov. 15, 2013

 

The recent discovery of more than 1,400 prized paintings in the Munich residence of Cornelius Gurlitt, an art collector whose father collaborated with the Nazis, has brought the pillage of the Jews back into the limelight. Yet the bulk of anti-Semitic looting during World War II was at once much more banal and more widespread. In Paris, the plunder of Jewish possessions began with the arrival of German troops in June 1940. At first, it applied only to art collections. But as soon as the Final Solution was devised in January 1942, the confiscations spread to the entire Jewish population, most of which comprised poor immigrants from Eastern Europe. Stripping Jews of their belongings was part and parcel of the effort to destroy them; pillage was an essential tool of extermination.

 

But what would be done with these items? Could they be reused, or were they too Jewish for that? Were the dishes and the blankets that had been touched by Jews fit for use by Aryans? In Berlin in February 1942, Hitler himself ordered Alfred Rosenberg, who had been overseeing the looting of artworks throughout Western Europe, to entirely empty the apartments of Jews who had been deported or arrested, or had fled. The spoils would then be sent back to the Reich. This widespread plunder, known as Möbel Aktion, occurred in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. From 1942 to 1944, at least 70,000 dwellings were emptied; in Paris 38,000 apartments were stripped bare by French moving companies at the request of the German authorities. It took 674 trains to transport the loot to Germany. Some 2,700 train cars supplied Hamburg alone.

Everything was taken: toys, dishes, family photos, tools, light bulbs. The goods were placed in crates and taken to warehouses and sorting centers specifically established for this purpose in the heart of Paris. Pianos were stored in the cellars of the Palais de Tokyo in the 16th arrondissement. Porcelains and fabrics went nearby, to Rue de Bassano. Books and musical scores were gathered at 104 Rue de Richelieu, furniture at the Quai de la Gare. The plunder of the Jews spread far beyond the famous Jeu de Paume and Louvre museums, the main gathering sites for looted art. With German soldiers busy fighting on the Eastern Front, the Nazis in Paris were short-staffed for the sorting and crating required for Möbel Aktion. So they turned three warehouses into work camps. And they resorted to Jewish prisoners from the Drancy internment camp, a vast cluster of lodgings under construction just outside the city, and an antechamber to Auschwitz.

 

From 1943 to 1944, nearly 800 Jewish men and women worked — ate, slept, lived — among these objects. Some saw their own possessions or those of family members pass before their eyes, and at that moment understood that they, too, had been slated for internment or deportation. The contents of each apartment were divided into two groups. Damaged objects or personal ones, like papers or family photos, were burned almost daily in a bonfire at the Quai de la Gare. The other items were sorted and classified by category, rather than source. A saucepan taken from one family would be added to a stack of other saucepans rather than kept in the original set. Stripped of their provenance, items lost their identity. Belongings became goods. The supervisors of Möbel Aktion set aside the most appealing items — porcelain, fine linens, fur coats — for themselves and their friends. Former prisoners from the sorting work camps later described regular inspections by German soldiers; they would come to shop “just like at the Galeries Lafayette,” the Parisian department store. Detainees who had been tailors, cobblers or leather workers before their arrest were forced to make luxury clothes for the Nazi dignitaries and their wives. Shipments of spoons, dishes, clothes and other items were regularly sent on to Germany. They were distributed to German civilians as compensation for losses caused by the Allied bombings or to support their immigration eastward, where they were sent to populate newly conquered territories.

 

But the systematic looting and redistribution of everyday goods of little value and often in poor condition suggest a motivation that goes well beyond economic calculation in a time of hardship. Indeed, several Nazi services, including those of Hermann Göring, regularly questioned the financial rationale of Möbel Aktion. If the project endured nonetheless it’s because one of its fundamental objectives was to destroy all trace of the Jews’ very existence. Since the end of the war, the French and German governments have offered some indemnities, though often partial, to the small number of looted owners or their descendants who have asked for compensation. The goods themselves could not be retrieved. Unlike stolen works of art — some of which were preserved and continue to resurface — the colossal spoils of that other, mundane looting have vanished. Either they have been destroyed, or they remain with German families, who to this day probably have no idea where they came from.     

 

Contents

 

On Topic

 

From “Four Score” to “Yes We Can!”: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 18, 2013 — Seven score and 10 years ago, Abraham Lincoln delivered his sacred speech on the meaning of free government.

An Outbreak of Lawlessness: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Nov. 28, 2013 — For all the gnashing of teeth over the lack of comity and civility in Washington, the real problem is not etiquette but the breakdown of political norms, legislative and constitutional.

Teaching About the Holocaust in a Small Town in Romania: Raphael Vago, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 7, 2013— Knesset Member Shimon Ohayon’s recent article, “Teaching about the Holocaust as an antidote to rising hate in Europe”

Exile, Prejudice, Victory: A Jewish Thanksgiving Story From the New World: Steve Brodner, Tablet, Nov. 27, 2013— In 1642, a ship of Jewish émigrés left a colony in Recife, Brazil, headed for New Amsterdam.

 

On Topic Links

 

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

WHEN MAPS BOW TO MULLAHS: ASSAD FOMENTS SECTARIAN TENSIONS—HELPED BY IRAN, HEZBOLLAH, RUSSIA, GENEVA DEAL, & U.S. MANOEUVRES

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:         

REPORTEDLY: U.S., HEZBOLLAH IN INDIRECT SECRET TALKS — The US and Hezbollah are in secret indirect talks managed by London dealing with the fight against Al-Qaida, regional stability and other Lebanese political issues. Senior British diplomatic sources said British diplomats are holding discussions with leaders of the Lebanese organization and transferring the information to the Americans. The discussions “are aimed at keeping tabs on the changes in the region and the world, and prepare for the upcoming return of Iran to the international community,” according to diplomatic sources in Washington. (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 27, 2013)

 

Contents:

 

With Help From Tehran and Moscow, and Inaction by the U.S., Assad is Poised to Stay: Jonathan Spyer, Tablet, Nov. 13, 2013 — As the Syrian civil war grinds on toward its fourth year, no end appears in sight. It is the greatest disaster in the Levant in a generation: More than 115,000 people have died.

The Invisible Rider on the Deal: Michael Weiss, Now, Nov. 27, 2013 — Much has been written about the technical points of the P5+1 interim agreement that authorized international sanctions relief in exchange for a slowdown (but not cessation or cancellation) of Iran’s nuclear program.

Lebanese Salafis Amidst Syria’s War: Geneive Abdo, Foreign Policy, Nov. 28, 2013 — One recent cool and sunny afternoon in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli, Sheikh Bilal Baroudi, a Sunni Salafist cleric, showed me the charred remains of the Salam mosque. He was preaching there on Aug. 24 when a bomb detonated, killing dozens of worshippers. Only a few walls remained. Middle East: Cracking Up: David Gardner, Financial Times, Nov. 26, 2013 — When Arabs started pouring on to the streets to challenge dynastic despots almost three years ago, a wave of euphoria swept over their world as its citizens dared to dream they were finally on their way into the 21st century.

 

On Topic Links

 

Beirut Attack Marks Militant Resurgence: Maria Abi-Habib, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 21, 2013

Attack in Beirut Through the Lens of Hezbollah TV: Robert Mackey & Liam Stack, New York Times, Nov. 21, 2013

Dispatch From Syria: Can Rebels Learn to Govern?: Kristin Deasy, World Affairs, Nov/Dec., 2013

 

 

          WITH HELP FROM TEHRAN AND MOSCOW, AND INACTION BY THE                                          U.S., ASSAD IS POISED TO STAY

                                                     Jonathan Spyer

                                                  Tablet, Nov. 13, 2013

 

As the Syrian civil war grinds on toward its fourth year, no end appears in sight. It is the greatest disaster in the Levant in a generation: More than 115,000 people have died. Around 2 million refugees have departed the country—for Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and beyond—while untold more who have left their homes remain in Syria, seeking with increasing desperation to put themselves and their families out of reach of the guns. But while the war appears far from ending, its direction and likely outcome have shifted significantly in the past year. At the beginning of this year, the Assad regime looked beleaguered, with an end-game fast approaching. Rebel groups had entered the main cities, and Aleppo, the “capital of the north,” was largely in rebel hands. The battle for Damascus seemed about to begin as Assad’s foes pushed into the city’s eastern suburbs.

 

Today, as 2013 draws to a close, the situation looks very different. Bashar al-Assad is still in power and has succeeded in ending any immediate threat to his regime. He is no longer in control of the entirety of Syria—his overstretched forces have ceded around half the country’s territory, concentrating their strength in this region around the capital, the Alawite heartland of the western coast, and the area linking the two—but that was never the issue at stake this year. The question was whether the rebels would succeed in pushing into areas of regime control. They have not and are unlikely to in the immediate future. Indeed, rebel advances have ceased, and in some areas, the insurgents have been turned back. The lines between the two sides are largely static, although the daily death toll continues to mount.

 

The factors driving this new war of attrition derive from both the weakness and disorganization of the rebels, and the relative cohesion of the regime, in particular from the staunch assistance of its regional and global allies and backers, who have come together in unprecedented ways in the course of the last 18 months in order to prevent his downfall. Russia has continued to supply arms to the regime, and its veto power on the U.N. Security Council has prevented any coherent international response to the crisis. But it is Iran that has played the really crucial role in propping up the government. The Syrian central bank has announced that Iran has facilitated a credit line worth at least $4 billion to Assad. One Arab official estimated that Iran was providing around $700 million per month to Syria.

 

Meantime, the rebellion itself has fallen into disunity, muddying what was once a clear fight between a brutally oppressive, dictatorial regime and an apparently concerted rebellion against it. A local al-Qaida franchise, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), is clashing with less extreme Islamist groups, such as the Ahfad al-Rasoul Brigade. ISIS has proven itself one of the most effective of the Syrian rebel brigades in combat. It now administers major parts of rebel-held northern Syria. Its area of control includes the city of Raqqa, the only provincial capital to fall to the rebellion—but its extremist Islamist outlook has alienated many among the populace. The clash between ISIS and the non-al-Qaida Islamist forces is only a symptom of a larger malaise affecting the rebellion—its chronic inability to unify its ranks. There are, according to Charles Lister of Jane’s Information Group, now about a thousand separate rebel groupings or “brigades.” For an insurgency numbering at most around 100,000 fighters, this is an astonishing number. These brigades do not all operate entirely independently from one another. Rather, they are gathered into a bewildering and interlocking series of alliances.

 

The rebel-controlled area remains a patchwork of different fiefdoms of varying degrees of size and cohesion, each ruled over by a different rebel chieftain and militia. In addition to the fighting between ISIS and less extreme rebel groups, a second war within a war has erupted, this one between the Islamists and the Kurdish YPG militia, which controls a section of northeast Syria comprising around 10 percent of the country’s territory. The United States attempted to rationalize this situation by supporting the Supreme Military Council of Maj. Gen. Salim Idris, chief of staff for the Free Syrian Army. That initiative may now be judged to have failed. Still more glaring is the failure of the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition, to which Idris’ SMC was affiliated, to have any impact on events within the country.

 

The external leadership had a problem from the start in claiming the loyalty of fighting units within Syria to which it could offer little or nothing. In my many conversations with rebel fighters and opposition activists during my reporting trips into Syria, I never once heard a single positive or even non-mocking word regarding the external ‘leadership’ of the revolution. A commander of the Tawheed Brigade in Aleppo in the summer of 2012 expressed it most succinctly when he said that the Syrian revolution “would be led by those fighting and suffering within Syria, not those in hotels outside of it.” The absence of rebel unity and leadership has been a huge boon for Assad. It has been compounded, and partly caused, by the failure of the rebellion’s backers to offer it adequate support. American policy specifically and Western policy more generally toward the Syrian rebellion has proceeded erratically, in fits and starts. Both political and practical assistance have been late in coming and meager in nature…

[To Read The Full Article Follow This Link – ed. ]  

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 THE INVISIBLE RIDER ON THE DEAL

                                             Michael Weiss

                                          Now, Nov. 27, 2013

 

Much has been written about the technical points of the P5+1 interim agreement that authorized international sanctions relief in exchange for a slowdown (but not cessation or cancellation) of Iran’s nuclear program. Much attention has also been paid to the anatomy of the deal, with an intense focus on secret Oman-based negotiations the Obama administration held with the Iranians as early as eight months ago. However, the details about breakout capacity, inspections regimes, and the dollar amount of actual sanctions relief have distracted from the invisible rider on this accord, which is Western acquiescence to Iran’s gradual takeover of Syria.

 

As analysts Mike Doran and James Glassman have written, the six-month nuclear deal may now be used to retroactively explain President Obama’s seeming incoherence in responding to nearly three years of a grave humanitarian catastrophe. At minimum, 110,000 people have been killed and many millions more Syrians internally or externally displaced, all while the Obama administration has rescued the United States from getting involved in what the President termed “someone else’s civil war,” knowing that Russia and Iran had no such compunctions. This is a policy for which he has been roundly criticized, not least by the majority of his own cabinet through well-timed leaks to American broadsheets. Obama’s failure to arm the anti-Assad rebels when they were still moderate and carried expectations of US help; his refusal to publicly disclose intelligence about the Assad regime’s dozen or so “small-scale” chemical weapons attacks even when other Western countries were angrily doing so; his improvised establishment, and then neglect, of a “red line” on large-scale chemical attacks – all this makes sense in the context of pursued rapprochement with Iran. “Rather than merely being feckless,” Doran and Glassman write, “the administration may actually have a long-term plan, and this initial nuclear deal is only a tactic in a broader strategy. The overall aim is a strategic partnership with Iran because the administration sees that country as the only island of stability in a sea of chaos and violence.”

 

This is the direst assessment that can be made of the White House’s intentions at Geneva, and conclusions that derive there from are quite cynical. Yet there’s some evidence to support Doran and Glassman’s thesis.

For one thing, although the administration still clings to vaguely democratic talking points about supporting the Syrian opposition and demanding Assad’s removal from power, it has not prevented Iran’s inheritance of the regime’s security detail, the breathtaking extent of which has never once been publicly articulated or condemned by Obama. True, the US Treasury Department sanctioned a handful of IRGC and Hezbollah figures for their involvement in Syria – not a hard thing to do when both groups had already been heavily sanctioned by the US – but the rhetorical fixation of this administration has always been on the composition of the rebels, specifically its jihadi quotient. When the bulk of the anti-Assad forces in Syria were still either defectors from the regime or civilians who had taken up arms to defend themselves, Hillary Clinton was comparing them to Hamas or saying she didn’t know who they were or saying that arming them might benefit al-Qaeda. (We now know she didn’t agree with this schizophrenic analysis and supported gun-running to the Free Syrian Army, as did almost every other relevant secretary or intelligence chief in the administration.) Even the supposed realpolitik of White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, who, according to The New York Times, “suggested that a fight in Syria between Hezbollah and al-Qaeda would work to America’s advantage,” was belied by the fact that the CIA shared intelligence with Hezbollah informing it that al-Qaeda-linked groups were planning terrorist attacks in the Party of God-dominated districts of south Lebanon "as well as other political targets associated with the group or its allies in Syria." For McDonough’s let-them-kill-each-other prescription to work, salafi cells in Tripoli must have also been tipped off by Langley about pending Hezbollah operations against them. Somehow I doubt that ever happened…

 [To Read The Full Article Follow This Link – ed. ] 

                                                                                               

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LEBANESE SALAFIS AMIDST SYRIA’S WAR

Geneive Abdo

                                      Foreign Policy, Nov. 28, 2013

 

One recent cool and sunny afternoon in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli, Sheikh Bilal Baroudi, a Sunni Salafist cleric, showed me the charred remains of the Salam mosque. He was preaching there on Aug. 24 when a bomb detonated, killing dozens of worshippers. Only a few walls remained. While a construction crew worked tirelessly that afternoon to rebuild the gutted building, Baroudi blamed the attack on a local group of Alawites who back the Alawite president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad. He said his mosque — as well as the Taqwa Salafist mosque in Tripoli, which was bombed that same August day — had been targeted because members of both congregations support the insurgency in Syria. The Alawites are a minority sect with ties to the form of Shiism prevalent in Iran. They comprise a small portion of Lebanon's population of approximately 4.4 million people. The percentages of Shiites and Sunnis are not known and are a matter of speculation because the last census conducted in Lebanon was in 1932. The small Alawite community of Tripoli, Lebanon's second-most important city, has long been at odds with the local Sunnis. And soon after the Syrian uprising began, clashes broke out in the mountainous areas to the north of the city, between the Alawite-dominated neighborhood Jabal Mohsen and the Sunni-dominated Bab al-Tabbaneh.

"The Syrian regime wants to transport the conflict to us here," Baroudi told me that day. For him, as well as many other Sunnis I have met in this part of Lebanon, the twin bombings of the Tripoli mosques last summer were intended to heighten sectarian tensions. Baroudi told me Assad's regime was trying to foment violence by convincing local Shiite groups that the Sunnis were out to get them — and then supplying them with explosives. Whether or not this is true, there is no doubt that the sectarian divide in Lebanon has indeed been widening. Just this week, two explosions hit the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, in suicide attacks for which Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a Lebanese Sunni group with links to al Qaeda, has claimed responsibility.

The struggle to dislodge Assad has disturbed an unwritten social contract among Lebanon's many sects. The country secured a fragile peace after enduring a civil war from 1975 to 1990. Syria occupied Lebanon from 1976 until 2005, when it withdrew only due to international pressure. Syria has had a longstanding claim on Lebanon; during the Ottoman era, Lebanon was part of Greater Syria. But stability has been increasingly difficult to maintain since Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite movement backed by Iran, has actively supported Assad financially and militarily, including fighting alongside his troops inside Syria. The war next door is also inspiring distorted ideas. Baroudi and other Salafists accuse the United States of enabling the Shiites to stay in power in Syria. Some of the Salafists in Tripoli point to President Barack Obama's historic call to the newly-elected President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, as well as talks on Iran's nuclear program, as evidence that the U.S. government is now backing Iran in the Middle East. According to Baroudi, Washington "can no longer fight wars directly," and needs Tehran "to take on this role." And there is no ally "more loyal or more successful or more powerful" than Iran "to force the region into submission, weaken the Sunni, and extort the Gulf."

In October, in Bab al-Tabbaneh, one Salafist sheikh — who wished to remain unidentified out of concern for his safety — complained that even as the U.S. government had become less critical of Hezbollah because of warming ties with Iran, it readily condemned Sunni extremists. He did not respond when I reminded him that Washington considers Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization. Such misperceptions have a radicalizing effect. And many Lebanese academics, journalists, and officials I have spoken with over the last year believe that is precisely what Assad had hoped for: It bolsters the argument that his regime, no matter how brutal, is a better option than any Sunni-led government. "Assad wants to make the Syrian revolution not one of people against Assad, but one of Shiite-Sunni strife," Ali Amin, a journalist at Al Balad newspaper in Beirut and an expert on sectarianism, told me.

If this is indeed Assad's strategy, it appears to be working. Western governments, as well as Russia and Iran, seem to be scrambling to maintain stability in the region by negotiating a settlement with Assad that would leave his regime intact. They are hoping to hold negotiations in Geneva in December. Some Sunnis in Lebanon, perceiving the U.S. government to be endorsing the status quo in Syria, are feeling more threatened, and are increasingly ready to take up arms to fight for their survival. Such feelings of anger and desperation could be the motivation behind this week's attack on the Iranian Embassy and future violence inside Lebanon, which undoubtedly would end Lebanon's fragile social contract. One consequence of this assessment — however misguided — is that while progress toward a deal over Iran's nuclear program would calm minds in the West, it would unnerve many Sunnis in the Middle East. Their main concern is the Shiites' increasing influence, with Iran as their protector. As perceptions of Iran's growing power increase among the Sunnis, it is imperative for the United States to send a signal to the region that it is not taking sides in the sectarian conflict, which certainly will continue.                             

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MIDDLE EAST: CRACKING UP

David Gardner                                                                                           Financial Times, Nov. 26, 2013

 

When Arabs started pouring on to the streets to challenge dynastic despots almost three years ago, a wave of euphoria swept over their world as its citizens dared to dream they were finally on their way into the 21st century. Now, it looks as if they have been pitched back almost a century, to the period after the first world war when the Arab territories of the Ottoman Empire were dismembered. Then, it was the imperial machinations of Britain and France that carved up their lands and future. Now, a raging civil war in Syria that is spilling over into neighbouring countries threatens to bulldoze post-Ottoman borders. Are the states of the Near East coming apart – especially along fault lines between Sunni and Shia Muslims that run from Beirut to Baghdad? Are the frontiers in the Levant about to shatter, spawning the Arab equivalent of a post-Soviet jigsaw?

 

The first contours of those frontiers were sketched by the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916, a deal meant to limit Anglo-French rivalry in the Levant that might undermine the alliance against Germany. This fabled line in the sand, from Mediterranean Palestine to the Zagros Mountains on Iraq’s border with Iran, bisected Greater Syria and Mesopotamia into French and British mandates. It was later ratified by the League of Nations. These were spheres of influence tailored to Europe’s eastern empires rather than organic and cohesive future nation-states, much less the pan-Arab independence Britain had dangled to incite Arab revolt against Germany’s Ottoman allies. The vicious mayhem in Syria slicing up territory within and beyond its borders has already engendered a sort of geopolitical shorthand among pundits – the end of Sykes-Picot. But what seems to be happening looks messier – as last week’s twin suicide bombing of Iran’s embassy in Mediterranean Beirut well attests.

 

The driving force is the overarching struggle between Sunni and Shia, which knows no boundaries and is bursting through the arbitrary borders drawn by the British and French. Some see this as primarily an interstate struggle for regional power between Saudi Arabia and Iran. That is part of the story but hardly explains the ferocity of ethno-sectarian bloodletting, which rivals anything seen in the wars that succeeded the break-up of Yugoslavia. First Lebanon, in its 1975-90 civil war, then Iraq and now Syria have been convulsed by ethno-sectarian conflict. But what had been a Sunni-Shia subplot in the drama – going back to the schism in seventh century Islam – burst on to centre stage after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. That catapulted the Shia minority within Islam (a majority in Iraq) to power in an Arab heartland country for the first time since the fall of the heterodox Shia Fatimid dynasty in 1171. The regional balance of power tilted towards the Islamic Republic of Iran – Shia, Persian, with ambitions as a regional hegemon to rival Israel – and fanned the embers of the Sunni-Shia stand-off into millenarian flame. Iraq dissolved into a sectarian bloodbath, grinding minorities such as its ancient Christian communities between the wounded identities of the Sunni and Shia. Syria, similar in its ethno-sectarian make-up, is heading the same way, grafting the Sunni-Shia schism and Saudi-Iranian contest on to what started as another Arab struggle against tyranny. Both Iraq and Syria seem to have lost any sense of a national narrative.

 

Iraq, notionally a loose confederation, has virtually fragmented into three blocs: the Kurds, who have quasi-independence, in the north, Sunnis in the centre and Shia in the south. After the sectarian carnage of 2006-08, Baghdad is pretty much a Shia city. Syria is fragmenting much more messily. Bashar-al-Assad’s regime clings on but has lost parts of the north and northeast to the Kurds, and big chunks of eastern Syria to Sunni rebels. The Assads’ Alawite sect, an esoteric offshoot of Shiism, is dug in along the northwest coast and mountains – a briefly autonomous enclave in the 1930s under French rule. In the summer, Hizbollah, Iran’s paramilitary Lebanese ally, joined the fight to save the Assads and reopen the road from Damascus to the coast. Now, the Alawite enclave in effect stretches back into the Party of God’s strongholds in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, near where an essentially Sunni-Shia battle is raging in the Qalamoun mountains. And that is not all.

 

The cross-border region between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, known as the Jazeera, is turning into a Sunni emirate as disaffected Sunnis in western Iraq link up with Sunni rebels in eastern Syria, under the malign influence of al-Qaeda-linked jihadi groups – a potential strategic nightmare for the region. Syria’s Kurds, in de facto control of what they call western Kurdistan, are linking up with Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government. The spectre of a Greater Kurdistan – for 25m Kurds with no state and spread over Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran – has alarmed Turkey. Ankara, as part of its effort to end a 30-year Kurdish insurgency in Turkey’s southeast, is trying to draw (mainly Sunni) Syrian and Iraqi Kurds into a sort of economic and cultural Turkosphere. Iran, with longstanding links to local factions, is also courting the Kurds. It is tempting to see this as a return to the Millets – the fluid system of Ottoman administrative regions that allowed subject peoples a degree of autonomy and ethno-religious cohesion in exchange for loyalty to the empire, stability and regular tax remittances – except that there is precious little stability and loyalty to go round.

 

Once virtually all state institutions collapse, the hard-wiring and subconscious grammar of sectarian affiliation kicks in hard, and the sects construct defensive laagers. That is what happened in Lebanon, shattered into relatively homogeneous fragments across the country and inside Beirut, a city ghettoised in much the same way as Damascus and Baghdad. The larger Levantine canvas designed by European imperialists will probably not see any clean breaks, rather a rearticulation of national and, in some cases, cross-border space, along with population transfers. In Lebanon – despite 22 years of Israeli occupation ending in 2000 and 29 years of Syrian occupation ending in 2005 – the external borders have not moved a millimetre and no one has sought to redraw them. As the fire in Syria continues to melt borders that may not always be the case. When many threads in these interwoven societies are being pulled at the same time, it is hard to know whether the result will be an unravelling or just another tangle.

 

Contents

 

On Topic

 

 

Beirut Attack Marks Militant Resurgence: Maria Abi-Habib, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 21, 2013 — As new details emerged about twin suicide bombings near the Iranian Embassy here, Lebanese officials described an outburst of violence that reveals the resurgence of al Qaeda-inspired groups in their country, a toxic byproduct of the Syrian war.

Attack in Beirut Through the Lens of Hezbollah TV: Robert Mackey & Liam Stack, New York Times, Nov. 21, 2013 — As our colleagues Hwaida Saad and Anne Barnard report from Beirut, the deadly bombings at the gate of the Iranian Embassy in the Lebanese capital on Tuesday were immediately interpreted there as a form of retaliation for Iran’s intervention in the civil war in neighboring Syria.

Dispatch From Syria: Can Rebels Learn to Govern?: World Affairs, Nov/Dec., 2013 — A sprawling tent city has sprouted up here amid the sand-flecked hills and ancient olive groves. Giant tarps twist up into the branches as rivulets of contaminated water run below. A tank watches from down the road, which leads to the nearby Turkish border.

 

On Topic Links

 

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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

 

 

Why Most of the Mass Media Can’t Report Honestly on Israel—or Other Middle East Issues: Barry Rubin, Rubin Reports, Nov. 4, 2013   

Iran's Nuclear Program Is Still Growing, and America's Fist Is Shrinking: Robert Satloff, New Republic, Nov. 25, 2013

The Hidden Cost Of The Iranian Nuclear Deal: Michael Doran, Brookings, Nov. 24, 2013

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

The Iranian Foreign Affairs Office issued an announcement Tuesday that calls the wording of the Geneva agreement distributed to the media by the White House “invalid…what was published on the White House’s website as facts is a one sided interpretation of the agreement that was signed in Geneva” — Marziya Afham, spokeswoman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry. “Some of the wording in the document that was published contradicts the agreement Iran reached with the world powers…One of the reasons the talks between the sides took longer was the Iranian insistence on precision in wording” Afham added. (Jerusalem Online, Nov. 27, 2013)  

“Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world,” ­— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also denounced the interim Iranian nuclear pact signed by the P5+1 as a “historic mistake” that does little to reverse Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Netanyahu repeated a reference to his own red line regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions plainly stating, “Israel will not allow Iran to develop a military nuclear capability.” (Washington Post, Nov. 24, 2013)

The Geneva pact signed by the P5+1 “brings us to a nuclear arms race.” — Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman added that “The world has to understand that this is the biggest diplomatic victory Iran has had in recent years…there's no doubt the agreement recognizes Iran’s right to enrich uranium.” (Washington Post, Nov. 24, 2013)

"No, there is no right to enrich…we do not recognize a right to enrich. It is clear in the NPT, in the Non-Proliferation Treaty, it's very, very clear, that there is no right to enrich." ­— U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry insisted. After the agreement had been signed, there was a disagreement over one of its central provisions: the right to enrich uranium. (CBN News, Nov. 25, 2013)

At odds with Kerry, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani sees the right to enrich uranium as the keystone of the agreement. "No matter what interpretations are given, Iran's right to enrichment has been recognized in the text of the agreement," — Rouhani declared. "And for that reason, I announce to the Iranian nation that Iran's enrichment activity will continue as before." (CBN News, Nov. 25, 2013)

“Since 2002…the Agency has become increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.”  — IAEA report, published Nov. 14, 2013, detailing the current state of Iran’s nuclear program.  (Weekly Standard, Nov. 26, 2013)

“Journalists and headline writers who characterized Geneva as a “freeze” or “halt” of Iran’s nuclear program have a strange definition of these words. When Jack Lord or Telly Savalas caught up with a bad guy, pulled a revolver and yelled “freeze” or “halt,” the culprit wasn’t being told to “keep moving, just more slowly”; he was being told to stop—or else. Geneva, however, does not stop Iran’s nuclear program. Under the agreement, thousands of centrifuges will continue to spin and produce enriched uranium, though within defined limits…few commentators have focused on what may be its most consequential aspect—an apparent promise that, at the end of the process, Iran may eventually be able to enrich as much uranium as it wants, to whatever level it wants…Washington and its partners are on record now agreeing that the final accord will allow Iran to enrich uranium, putting the last nail in the coffin of six United Nations Security Council resolutions calling on Iran to suspend its enrichment activities, even temporarily; and that any limitations the final agreement may impose will not be final at all but only for “a period to be agreed upon.”— Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (New Republic, Nov. 25, 2013)

“On the nuclear question specifically, I don't see this as stage one. In my view, there will never be a final agreement. What the administration just initiated was, rather, a long and expensive process by which the West pays Iran to refrain from going nuclear. We are, in essence, paying Ayatollah Khamenei to negotiate with us. We just bought six months. What was the price?…I see the deal as a deceptively pleasant way station on the long and bloody road that is the American retreat from the Middle East…we shredded the six United Nations Security Council resolutions that ordered the Islamic Republic to abandon all enrichment and reprocessing activities.” — Michael Doran, Senior Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution (Brookings, Nov 24, 2013) 

Canada is “deeply skeptical” of the weekend deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program — Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird commented Sunday. Baird added that “We have made-in-Canada foreign policy…We think past actions best predict future actions, and Iran has defied the United Nations Security Council and defied the International Atomic Energy Agency. Simply put: Iran has not earned the right to have the benefit of the doubt.” (Globe & Mail, Nov. 24, 2013)

"There may be light at the end of the tunnel, but it's a long tunnel,"  — said a senior U.S. Treasury official in response to the announcement of sanctions relief for Iran negotiated in Geneva over the weekend. "So any business, any bank, any broker, anybody who thinks it's open season to go into Iran today I think is sorely mistaken. We will enforce these sanctions and if someone thinks…it's time to jump back into Iran with both feet, they're just wrong." (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 26, 2013)

"As we go forward…the resolve of the United States will remain firm, as will our commitments to our friends and allies—particularly Israel and our Gulf partners, who have good reason to be skeptical about Iran's intentions." President Barack Obama sought to reassure America's partners in the region during his announcement of the “temporary” accord. (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 24, 2013)

"I think this is potentially a significant moment, but I'm not going to stand here in some triumphal moment and suggest to you that this is an end unto itself," — Secretary of State John Kerry, in a rare moment of restraint following two days of concentrated negotiations in Geneva. (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 24, 2013)

“We, the Jews, collectively rejected God and hung Him up on a cross to die, and thus we deserved the punishments that were heaped on our heads over the last 2000 years.” —Anonymous post on the student-run Harvard Ichthus Christian blog website. The website later apologized for the post, stating that its blogs are “intended to be areas of thoughtful dialogue…this particular piece has led to increasing misunderstanding and disinformation about the author’s views, the Ichthus, and Christianity…we do acknowledge that many of the claims of Christianity are offensive to those who do not believe it, but we think that much of the offense that has resulted from this article is not the offense of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And for that we apologize.” (Ha’aretz, Nov. 26, 2013)

Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, “is one of the world’s top Jewish writers and intellectuals, a Holocaust survivor who for decades has worked to keep alive the memory of the Holocaust across the world and is the leading figure in the United States of America on the subject,” ­— statement from the office of former Israeli President Shimon Peres. Peres awarded his Presidential Medal of Distinction to Wiesel in an emotional ceremony in New York on Monday
The President’s Medal of Distinction is the highest civil medal given by Israel. It was first presented on March 1, 2012, and is awarded to people who have made an outstanding contribution to the State of Israel or to humanity, through their talents, services, or in any other form. (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 26, 2013)

 

SHORT TAKES

 

ALLIES FEAR A U.S. PULLBACK IN MIDEAST — (Washington) America's allies in Israel and Saudi Arabia view the new nuclear agreement with Iran with a mixture of unease and alarm. But for some in the skeptics' camp, the broader concern extends well beyond the preliminary nuclear deal. Their underlying worry is that the negotiations with Iran represent just the latest evidence that a war-weary U.S. is slowly seeking to close the books on a series of nettlesome long-term problems, allowing Washington to pull back from its longtime commitment to the Middle East. (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 24, 2013)

EUROPE WILL BENEFIT ECONOMICALLY FROM IRAN ACCORD — (Berlin) The European Union stands to reap major economic benefits from the interim agreement with Iran over resolving Tehran’s nuclear program. As part of the agreement between the major powers and Iran, key areas where sanctions relief is provided are the lucrative automobile trade and access to its foreign reserves. The French-born Israeli Emmanuel Navon told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, “This temporary relief will benefit European car manufacturers that currently export to Iran, such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Rover, Audi, Volkswagen, Renault and Peugeot.” (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 2013)

IRAN: CONSTRUCTION WILL CONTINUE AT ARAK SITE — (Tehran) Iran will pursue construction at the Arak heavy-water reactor, Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif was quoted as saying on Wednesday, despite a deal with world powers to shelve a project they fear could yield plutonium for atomic bombs. France, one of the six powers that negotiated Sunday's interim pact with Iran, said in response to Zarif's statement that Tehran had to keep to what was agreed in the Geneva talks. Western powers fear Arak could be a source of plutonium – one of two materials, along with highly enriched uranium, that can be used for the core of a nuclear weapon – once it is operational. (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 27, 2013)

KARZAI REJECTS CALL FOR QUICK DECISION ON U.S. TROOP AGREEMENT — (Kabul) The Afghan government said Friday it would not be bullied by the United States into quickly signing a security agreement, stoking tensions that could unravel plans to keep thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014. One day after Afghan President Hamid Karzai shocked the Obama administration by telling an assembly of tribal elders and activists that he would not sign the bilateral security agreement until spring, he resisted calls to reconsider his timetable. Through a spokesman, Karzai said Afghans would decide the matter on their own terms and that the has no plans to sign the accord until after the country elects a new president on April 5. (Washington Post, Nov. 22, 2013)

SYRIAN REBELS TAKE OVER COUNTRY’S BIGGEST OIL FIELD — (Damascus)  Syrian opposition fighters, including members of the Al-Qaeda affiliated jihadist Al-Nusra Front, seized the country’s biggest oil field on Saturday, reports Al Arabiya. “Fighters from Al-Nusra and other groups have taken the Omar oil field in Deir Ezzor province after clashes overnight,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Abdel Rahman said government troops had withdrawn from the field. The loss of the al-Omar oil field in the eastern Deir al-Zor province, if confirmed, could leave Assad’s forces almost completely reliant on imported oil in their highly mechanized military campaign to put down a 2-1/2-year uprising. (Al Arabiya, Nov. 23, 2013)

SYRIA GOVERNMENT CONFIRMS GENEVA PEACE TALKS ATTENDANCE —(Damascus)  The Syrian government has confirmed it will attend peace talks planned for January, but says it is not going in order to negotiate a handover of power. Its delegation to the talks in Geneva will receive direction from President Bashar al-Assad and dismissed the opposition's key demand that Mr Assad play no role in any transitional period. More than 100,000 people have died since protests against Mr Assad erupted in March 2011. Almost nine million others have been driven from their homes, around two-fifths of Syria's pre-war population. (BBC, Nov. 27, 2013)

NEW LAW IN EGYPT EFFECTIVELY BANS STREET PROTESTS — (Cairo) Egypt’s military-backed government has issued a law that all but bans street protests by applying jail time or heavy fines to the public demonstrations that have felled the last two presidents and regularly roiled the capital since the Arab Spring revolt. The new law, promulgated on Sunday, is the latest evidence of a return to authoritarianism in the aftermath of the military takeover that removed President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July. It criminalizes the kind of free assembly and public expression that many Egyptians had embraced as a cherished foundation of their new democracy after the 2011 ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. (New York Times, Nov. 25, 2013)

SUICIDE CAR BOMBING IN EGYPT’S SINAI KILLS ELEVEN OFF-DUTY SOLDIERS — (Cairo) A suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden car into one of two buses carrying off-duty soldiers in Egypt’s turbulent region of northern Sinai on Wednesday, killing 11 and wounding 37, security and military officials said. They said the suicide bomber struck when the two buses travelled on the road between the border town of Rafah and the coastal city of el-Arish. The explosion damaged both buses, the officials said. The soldiers belong to the 2nd Field Army, which is doing most of the fighting against Islamic militants waging an insurgency against security forces in Sinai. (Globe & Mail, Nov. 20, 2013)

TRUCK BOMB AT OUTDOOR MARKET IN IRAQ, OTHER ATTACKS KILL 48 — (Baghdad) A truck bomb tore through an outdoor vegetable market in northeastern Iraq, the deadliest of a series of attacks Thursday that killed at least 48 people, officials said. The explosion in the town of Sadiyah, some 140 kilometres northeast of Baghdad, is the latest in a wave of attacks that has swept across Iraq since April, pushing violence to levels unseen since the country teetered on the brink of civil war in 2006 and 2007. Meanwhile Thursday, a suicide bomber set off his explosives-laden belt at an army checkpoint in the town of Taji north of Baghdad, killing six soldiers and wounding 12, a police officer and a medical official said. (Globe & Mail, Nov. 21, 2013)

THREE PALESTINIAN SUSPECTS KILLED IN RAID — (Jerusalem) Israeli security forces shot and killed three suspected militants in a West Bank raid on Tuesday aimed at thwarting an attack on Israeli targets, the military and police said. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said troops opened fire on two of the militants in their vehicle, which was found carrying explosive devices and two guns. The military said a third militant was killed in a gunfight that broke out with Israeli forces. Israeli military sources said the militants were linked to a violent, ultra-conservative Islamist movement known as the Salafi Jihadis, which draw inspiration from Al-Qaeda. Militants tied to the movement are said to operate in the Gaza Strip and to a lesser extent the West Bank. The military said the movement has expanded its network in recent months and that arrests of other suspected militants took place earlier Tuesday in other areas of the West Bank. (Washington Post, Nov. 26, 2013)

HALF OF PALESTINIANS THINK PA ERRED IN RESUMING PEACE TALK WITH ISRAEL, POLL FINDS — (Jerusalem) Half of the Palestinians believe that the Palestinian Authority made a mistake when it decided to resume peace talks with Israel more than three months ago, according to a public opinion poll published Wednesday. The poll also showed that nearly 70% of Palestinians believe that the negotiations would not result in an agreement with Israel. One-third of respondents favored peaceful negotiations, while another one-third said that armed resistance was their preferred means. Twenty-seven percent said that they supported a “non-violent, peaceful resistance.” (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 27, 2013)

ISRAEL PUSHING FORWARD WITH SETTLEMENT PLANS — (Jerusalem) Plans to build 800 new housing units in the West Bank are moving forward, the Defense Ministry said Monday. The ministry said it had approved an initial planning stage for the housing earlier this month. The approval is an initial step in a protracted bureaucratic process and construction is not expected to begin for months. The approval came as Israel and the Palestinians conducted quiet, behind-the-scenes peace talks. The Palestinians want the West Bank, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, as part of a future state and oppose Israeli settlement building. (Times of Israel, Nov. 25, 2013)

FRANCE TO SEND 1,000 MORE TROOPS TO CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC — (Paris) France has said it will send an extra 1,000 troops to the Central African Republic (CAR) as pressure grows for outside intervention to arrest a chaotic sectarian conflict between Christians and Muslims. Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French defence minister, made the announcement a day after the UN warned of possible civil war in the CAR, where lawlessness prevails and armed groups have been accused of atrocities including killings, burning villages and the conscription of child soldiers. (The Guardian, Nov. 26, 2013)

NORWAY OFFICIAL WANTS TO “EDUCATE” JEWS AGAINST CIRCUMCISION — (Oslo) The anti-circumcision bill in Norway, which the country’s foreign minister vows will not become law, is being pushed by the country’s child welfare advisor who wants Jews and Muslims to understand that causing pain is tantamount to a sin far worse than violating the Jewish law of circumcision. New legislation on non-medical circumcision of boys under 18 is scheduled to be introduced before mid-April. “With good information about risk, pain and lack of health benefits of the intervention, I think parents from minorities would voluntarily abstain from circumcising children,” Anne Lindboe, Norway’s Children’s Ombudsmen, told the Norwegian Aftenpost daily last week. Her solution is simply to perform a “symbolic ritual,” presumably one in which the baby will not cry. (Jewish Press, Nov. 25, 2013)

MASTERPIECE LOOTED BY NAZIS INSTALLED AT L.A. MUSEUM — (Los Angeles) The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has welcomed the donation of a Baroque-era painting that was stolen in Italy by Nazis during World War II. The painting looted by the Nazis in 1944 was installed Monday at the museum’s galleries for European art after it was returned to its owner last week and promptly donated. The life-size figure of St. Catherine of Alexandria— painted in Italy around 1615 by Bernardo Strozzi — is a promised gift to the museum by Philippa Calnan, the original owner’s sole direct descendant. (New York Post, Nov. 27, 2013) 

CIA RECRUITED DOUBLE AGENTS AT GUANTANAMO — (Washington) The CIA used a secret base at Guantanamo Bay nicknamed 'Penny Lane' to turn some of Al-Qaeda's most dangerous terrorists into double agents, US officials have admitted. Inmates languishing under Guantanamo Bay's harsh regime were offered cash rewards, "hotel" style rooms and even pornography if they agreed to help the CIA track down and kill fellow Al-Qaeda operatives. The program, hatched when President George W Bush was in the White House, was potentially a huge gamble for the CIA, because of the risks that the "turned” inmates simply rejoined Al-Qaeda's ranks. (The Telegraph, Nov. 26, 2013)

TAMAR PARTNERS REPORT SIGNS OF NEW NATURAL GAS FIND — (Tel Aviv) Stakeholders in a potential new natural gas reservoir announced significant signs of hydrocarbons in the field, based on tests carried out during exploratory drilling trials. Although the partners involved in exploring the new field – called Tamar Southwest – have not announced an updated estimate as to the quantity of gas in the reservoir, before drilling began in August, they released a Tel Aviv Stock Exchange report on Tuesday estimating that the field would contain approximately 19 billion cubic meters of gas. (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 26, 2013)

ARCHEOLOGISTS DISCOVER OLDEST, LARGEST WINE CELLAR IN NEAR EAST — (Jerusalem) A team of archeologists unearthed what it describes as the “oldest and largest palatial wine cellar” ever discovered in the Near East. The cellar was found in a ruined palace near the sprawling Canaanite city in northern Israel called Tel Kabri. The site itself dates back to around 1,700 BCE and is located near Israel’s modern-day winemaking region in the Galilee and Golan Heights. “We found at least 40 large one-meter tall jugs that all hold at least 50 liters of wine, totaling 2,000 liters,” said Dr. Andrew Koh of Brandeis University, one of the leading archeologists on the discovery. (Algemeiner, Nov. 25, 2013)

On Topic Links

 

 

Why Most of the Mass Media Can’t Report Honestly on Israel—or Other Middle East Issues: Barry Rubin, Rubin Reports, Nov. 4, 2013 — Underlying any other factor regarding attitudes toward Israel in the Media-University-Government (MUG) complex  is the programmatic and ideological problem faced in honestly understanding and explaining Israel’s behavior.  

Iran's Nuclear Program Is Still Growing, and America's Fist Is Shrinking: Robert Satloff, New Republic, Nov. 25, 2013 — The blockbuster nuclear deal reached early Sunday morning in Geneva between Iran and the U.S.-led coalition is both less and more consequential than early reports suggest.

The Hidden Cost Of The Iranian Nuclear Deal: Michael Doran, Brookings, Nov. 24, 2013 — One's evaluation of the nuclear deal depends on how one understands the broader context of US-Iranian relations.

 

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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Prof. Ira Robinson: The “Charter of Values” and Freedom of Religion in Quebec

The "Charter of Values" (Bill 60) is being presented to the public by the present Quebec Government as a “social project “, essentially like that of the Charter of the French Language (Bill 101) . Therefore we must consider it in this light. In the case of the predominance of the French language in Quebec, we can see that, in the past decades, there has developed in Quebec a large consensus; though even today there is still debate on some details (e.g. whether eligibility for education in English schools in Quebec should be more inclusive or more restricted).

Now the question we must ask is this:  Has the “Charter of Values” achieved a similar broad consensus in our society? The answer to this question is decidedly negative. The opposition to Bill 60 among Quebecers certainly includes the minority religious and cultural communities directly involved. But, according to all public opinion surveys, opposition to this proposed legislation is much greater than the percentage of "cultural communities" in Quebec society.
Why is this so? I would say that the reasons the provisions of the bill are not being accepted by a large consensus in Quebec is because there is an appearance of a lack of equality in the project. In order to establish a system of religious "neutrality", the Quebec government is prepared to play around with another fundamental principle of Quebec, Canadian, and, indeed,  all advanced western societies : freedom of conscience and religious practice.  It is in this light that the legislation envisages amending the Quebec Charter of Human Rights.

In Quebec society, as it has evolved in recent decades, it is deemed possible to deny the rights of the individual in the interests of the perceived needs of society at large, e.g.  Bill 101 on the protection of the French language. But the law for the protection of the French language was established on the basis of a clear societal consensus and for a clear reason, and even those who oppose the details of this law agree that the law in principle is attempting to prevent the “disappearance” of a majority francophone society in North America, a situation that just might take place without special protection for the French language.

Now we need to ask another question: is the "danger" that is deemed by the authors of Bill 60 to threaten our society because of those who wear conspicuous religious symbols similar to the other existential danger– a francophone society disappeared—for which individual rights have been sacrificed? Even those who support Bill 60 recognize that in the current Quebec government and public service, those who wear overt religious signs are almost nonexistent. Thus, in order to establish the principle of the "neutrality" of the state, the people who have proposed this legislation are ready to amend the Quebec human rights charter.  They thus are attempting to protect Quebec society from a danger that exists now almost wholly in theory.
If, indeed, a problem with the public service of Quebec does not exist currently, why are the proponents of this legislation so willing to deny the rights of the individual to freedom of religious expression?   It is largely because they are afraid of the negative societal influence of religion in general. Primarily, this is expressed as a fear of religious communities relatively recently arrived in Quebec (especially Muslims). However we can discern in the debates and in the reportage on the bill a much more generalized fear of religion and its influence on our society. There is a great desire to emancipate Quebec from any and all religious influence. This desire harks back to a collective memory of “la grande noirceur”, the "great darkness", an almost mythical epoch today, in which the Catholic Church in Quebec controlled a vast network of educational establishments, health institutions, and social services. Even Christians, who do not generally wear conspicuous religious clothing, are now accused in the media of a negative influence on Quebec society, especially with respect to equality between women and men. For those who support this bill, the possibility of a return of the influence of religion is such a nightmare that on the basis of a theoretical possibility alone, they are ready to amend the right to full freedom of religious practice in Quebec.

According to the bill, public institutions, semi-public institutions such as universities, companies seeking government contracts, and even day care establishments would need to “prove" their religious neutrality. However, it is clear and evident that the real obligation of such "proof" falls on individuals. Individuals in our society who do not wear conspicuous religious symbols have no need to “prove” their bona fides.  It is just assumed they support the values of the secular state and of equality between men and women even if they are really opposed. However for individuals who wear overt religious signs, it is to be assumed that they are opposed to these principles, even if they actually support them. Thus, according to the bill, a bearer of a “conspicuous religious sign" would have no means of protesting his or her bona fides other than to stop wearing the kippah, turban or veil.

Martin Luther King said in his great "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington 50 years ago, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."  Now in Quebec, the authors of Bill 60 are saying to us, in effect, "We have a dream that one day, in Quebec, a person will not be judged by the content of his character, but rather by the appearance of his or her conspicuous religious clothing.”

 

(Prof. Ira Robinson, Religion, Concordia University, is a CIJR Academic Fellow)

IRAN “APPEASEMENT” BETRAYS U.S. ALLIES

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:         

 

Geneva: The Abandonment of the Jews: Michael Freund, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 2013 — With the stroke of a pen in Geneva, the world has entered an alarming new phase, one in which the United States has turned its back on its allies and embraced a long-standing foe.

Iran Looks Beyond the Nuclear Talks: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs, Nov. 26, 2013—    The West must ensure that by the end of the negotiating process, Iran will not have a breakout capacity toward a nuclear bomb, and the countries subject to the threat emanating from Iran must goad the West in this direction if it shows hesitation.

How U.S. Policy is Betraying Not Only Israel, But Also Sunni Arabs: Barry Rubin, The Rubin Report, Nov. 26, 2013 — In 1948, there were hopes that the Arab-Israeli conflict would be resolved in the long-run.
Worse Than Munich: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 25, 2013 — To adapt Churchill : Never in the field of global diplomacy has so much been given away by so many for so little.

 

On Topic Links

 

Alliance With U.S. Is Here To Stay: Moshe Arens, Ha’aretz, Nov. 26, 2013

The Goal of Obama’s Foreign Policy: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 2013

The Iran Nuclear Deal: Full Text: CNN, Nov. 24, 2013

The Geneva Accord: A Tale of Two Clashing Perspectives: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Nov. 24, 2013

How the European Media View the Iran Nuclear Deal: Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 26, 2013

On Iran: Imagine Romney in the White House: Oded Eran & Yoel Guzansky, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 2013 

 

 

 

GENEVA: THE ABANDONMENT OF THE JEWS

Michael Freund

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 2013

 

With the stroke of a pen in Geneva, the world has entered an alarming new phase, one in which the United States has turned its back on its allies and embraced a long-standing foe. Indeed, rather than ratcheting up the pressure on Iran, Washington has instead turned up the heat on Israel, forcing the Jewish state into a corner, and a dangerous one at that. Make no mistake. The agreement signed over the weekend between Iran and the West constitutes a surrender of historic proportions, one that rewards the misbehavior of the ayatollahs while punishing Israel’s steadfast reliability.

 

If international diplomacy had its own Richter scale to measure the magnitude of strategic earthquakes, Geneva 2013 would earn a place of pride alongside Munich 1938. Consider the following: Since July 31, 2006, the United Nations Security Council has adopted no less than six resolutions requiring the Iranians to “suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development.” Nearly all these resolutions were adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which means they are legally binding on Iran and all UN member states. Nonetheless, Tehran has merrily continued to violate its international obligations, enriching uranium to its heart’s content as it has advanced towards its goal of building a nuclear weapon.

 

Enter Barack Obama and John Kerry, who agreed at Geneva to soften economic sanctions against Iran while allowing their nuclear scientists to continue to enrich uranium up to a level of five percent, even though such activity has been repeatedly prohibited. In other words, the mullahs have now received an imprimatur from Washington to continue violating the UN Security Council resolutions which the US itself had supported. This, by definition, is an act of retreat in the face of Iranian obstinacy and disobedience, a move that sends a perilous message of weakness precisely at a time when determination is warranted. In effect, the Iranians are being told that if you violate and obfuscate long enough, eventually the West will fold. If that isn’t appeasement, then what is? Moreover, the Geneva accord does not require Iran to dismantle even a single centrifuge, leaving in place its future capacity to surge forward towards the nuclear finish line at a time of its choosing.

 

Yet one thing that Geneva most certainly did accomplish is that it tightened the screws on Israel, making it significantly more difficult for Jerusalem to take unilateral military action in the coming months against Iranian nuclear installations. With much of the world pinning its hopes on the flawed agreement with Iran, an Israeli resort to military force at this time would elicit more than just the usual howls of protest from the international community. The Geneva accord appears designed to pen in Israel more than it does Iran, an attempt to handcuff the Jewish state for the next six months by vastly raising the diplomatic and political costs of military action. And so, just as he has done with various other crises that have arisen on his watch, Obama is once again kicking the can down the road, pushing off the need to make hard decisions on Iran for a few months in the hopes that something, anything, will enable him to avoid the moment of truth.

 

BUT IN doing so, Obama is imperiling Israel and its future by signaling to Iran that he is willing to live with a situation in which they are on the brink of the nuclear threshold. For a president who famously told the Atlantic magazine in March 2012 that “We’ve got Israel’s back,” Obama sure has a curious way of showing it, by putting the squeeze on the Jewish state. Everyone who supports Israel, Jew or Christian alike, should be alarmed by this turn of events. The United States has recklessly rolled the dice with the fate of its closest ally in the Middle East, inexplicably placing its faith in a rogue regime, one that has repeatedly vowed to finish what Hitler began.

 

It was 29 years ago, in 1984, that historian David S. Wyman published a seminal volume, The Abandonment of the Jews, on America’s failure to stop the Nazi slaughter of European Jewry. Marshaling painstaking evidence, Wyman conclusively demonstrated that America and its leadership could have saved millions of Jews. In the preface to his book, Wyman concluded with a simple yet chilling question, “Would the reaction be different today?” Sadly, the agreement forged with Iran in Geneva gives us a glimpse of what the answer might be.      

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IRAN LOOKS BEYOND THE NUCLEAR TALKS

Lt. Col (ret.) Michael Segall

Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Nov. 26, 2013

 

    The West must ensure that by the end of the negotiating process, Iran will not have a breakout capacity toward a nuclear bomb, and the countries subject to the threat emanating from Iran must goad the West in this direction if it shows hesitation. The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, claims that the West is only using the nuclear issue as a pretext to harm and weaken Iran, just as it always has since the outbreak of the revolution. Khamenei underlines the decline in American power and influence (even among its friends) and the economic problems afflicting it, contrasting this with Iran’s rising power compared to the past. Even though he does not oppose the negotiations, he warns: “Do not trust the enemy who smiles at you.” Khamenei’s statements convey that Iran does not really need the negotiations. Iran does not come to the nuclear negotiations out of weakness, but, indeed, from a position of strength, and rather than having anything to lose from the talks, it only stands to gain from them, as it did in the interim agreement. Iran’s considerations in coming to the negotiating table are its assessment of America’s declining regional and international status and its own expanding reach. Iran is preparing for two main scenarios. One is ongoing negotiations, with Iran prepared for certain concessions that, in its view, will not derail it from the fast track to the bomb through clandestine channels, while entailing the removal of some of the sanctions and gradual erosion of the sanctions regime in general. In the second scenario, Iran remains firm in the face of the sanctions, upgrades its regional status, and progresses toward the bomb while taking a risk (which it does not see as great) of an attack on its nuclear facilities.

 

Since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took office, efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue have gained momentum, with the announcement on November 24, 2013, of an interim agreement between the P5+1 and Iran. It appears that the international community, and particularly the United States, is seeking to put the nuclear negotiations with Iran on a course that will eventually dispel the tense relations that have prevailed since Iran’s Islamic Revolution. It seems that the United States just waited for Ahmadinejad – who constitutes the true blunt face of the Islamic regime and who didn’t play by the diplomatic rules – to leave office in order to bring the nuclear dossier to a forced closure.  To cut a deal with Ahmadinejad was too embarrassing for the U.S. administration. President Rouhani and Foreign Minister’s Zarif’s social network diplomacy and charm offensive, combined with certain backchannels (Oman, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, The Asia Society), probably made the process much easier and smoother for the U.S.

 

The interim agreement leaves Iran with sufficient wherewithal to produce military nuclear capabilities – both with regard to uranium enrichment (using advanced IR-M2 centrifuges) and through the plutonium channel – should it decide at some point to break out as a result of a crisis in the negotiations on a permanent agreement, violation of the agreement, continued clandestine development of a bomb, or what Iran would perceive as a change in the Middle Eastern geostrategic landscape, which is indeed changing rapidly. Thus, the West must ensure that by the end of the negotiating process in six months, which is still fraught with obstacles and potential Iranian stalling, Iran will not have any breakout capacity toward a nuclear bomb, and the countries subject to the threat emanating from Iran must goad the West in this direction if it shows hesitation. In addition, Iran must meet the strict conditions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) within the framework of the Additional Protocol (an issue that is under heated domestic debate in the Majlis). This would allow enhanced supervision of Iran’s nuclear program and, particularly, of what is still its clandestine components. Only this can ensure that Iran will not keep enriching uranium and developing the military component of its nuclear program in concealed sites, thereby progressing toward the bomb at the same time that it takes part in negotiations. That, after all, is what Iran did in the wake of the 2003 agreements, which were negotiated by none other than Rouhani.

 

Concurrently, the West must “maintain” the sanctions effectively. Iran has already shown, in the initial stages of the negotiations, that it seeks to transfer the sanctions from the P5+1 framework to the UN Security Council and thereby essentially get them canceled by international decree; this is part of its effort to gradually vitiate the sanctions. The West must also sustain the credible military threat that already proved itself in the past, including when Rouhani was head of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team in 2003. At that stage the U.S. military threat led Iran to temporarily suspend its enrichment program out of fear that, in the wake of America’s invasion of Iraq, it would be the next target.

 

The West must also draw the lessons from its own behavior and from the agreements it reached with Iran ten years ago. Today, Iran has all the components for assembling a bomb should it choose to do so. In a meeting with students on November 3, 2013, on the eve of the anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, observed: “Today Iran’s situation is different from when it agreed to suspend uranium enrichment [in 2003]. Back then we had begun to spin one or two centrifuges; today thousands of them are in use.” Iran has indeed been hit hard by Western sanctions, particularly those affecting its oil sector, and is losing about $5 billion per month. Yet, in contrast to other countries in the region, Iran is stable and had a quiet election campaign earlier this year. Rouhani, who emerged as the victor, has again joined the nuclear battle. This time he hopes to “rescue” Iran’s economy and return it to the family of nations, as well as complete the nuclear cycle and accomplish the mission of creating the first Shi’a nuclear bomb…

[To Read The Full Article Follow This Link – ed.]                                                                                                    

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HOW U.S. POLICY IS BETRAYING NOT ONLY ISRAEL,

BUT ALSO SUNNI ARABS

Barry Rubin

The Rubin Report, Nov. 26, 2013

 

In 1948, there were hopes that the Arab-Israeli conflict would be resolved in the long-run. But it wasn’t. In 1967, there was hope that the magnitude of Israeli victory meant that the Arabs would eventually come to terms (Egypt and Jordan did in a way, although the final word has not been written). In 1982, people believed that the conflict could still be solved, but it wasn’t. And finally, during the negotiations from 1993-2000, there were renewed hopes that the conflict would be resolved. It wasn’t. Today, the conflict is even further from being resolved, especially with the entry of Iran, Islamism, and the radical government in Turkey. Maybe it is time to conclude the Arab-Israeli conflict will never be resolved.

 

There have since been at least three more examples following the same pattern. The first is obviously Iran, its nuclear intentions, its trickery, and its desire to dominate the region. But that's not all; consider what the U.S. has done to Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. It is probable that Iran is going to give Syria a victory in the civil war. The fact is that Iran, Hizballah, and the Syrian government are on one side, and Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey have been on the other side. But now, in essence, the U.S. has objectively sided with Iran, and that is one of the reasons that the Saudis are angry. Here is what the Saudi ambassador to England, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, said: "Appeasement hasn't worked in the past, and I don't think it will work in the 21st century," he was quoted as saying. "That is why the frustration really is toward the main players within the United Nations Security Council, that's their responsibility. And they will share also the blame, whatever deal comes out, they are responsible for it."

 

The statement from the Saudi ambassador to London also expressed in his Times of London interview an unusually abrasive criticism of the West for what he said was a too-soft approach toward Iran, calling Washington's "rush" to engage with Tehran "incomprehensible." A senior Saudi diplomat issued a rare direct threat to Iran, warning that "all options are available" should the international community fail to rein in Iran's alleged drive to acquire nuclear weapons.This statement could easily come out of the mouth of an Israeli politician. It is amusing that with this parallelism to Israel's viewpoint, the senior diplomat had to deny that he saw something in common with Israel. In other words, Saudi Arabia feels that it has been betrayed by the United States, and will respond to that betrayal.

 

Then there is Egypt. Let's review American behavior. Two years ago, the United States basically helped and celebrated a Muslim Brotherhood electoral victory. Every anti-Islamist knows this. When the Egyptian military coup happened a year later, the U.S. opposed it. In other words, if the Muslim Brotherhood had won and crushed freedom by staying in office, it would be have been backed by the United States, but since there was a coup, the election was stolen. Doesn't everyone in Egypt know that if the coup had not taken place, the U.S. would have the supported the Muslim Brotherhood government? Don't the Egyptians know that the United States would be willing to sell Egypt into Islamic fundamentalist slavery? Would anyone believe the United States would protect any of its other allies?

 

But suddenly, the U.S. turned around and Kerry actually said that the Muslim Brotherhood had "stolen" the revolution. And that is why the Egyptians are turning toward Russia today and do not trust the U.S. Frankly you would think that the Obama administration wants to sabotage U.S. Middle-East policy. By the way, the Egyptians were so angered by their perception of Turkey cuddling up to Iran and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, that they threw out the Turkish ambassador.                 

                                                               

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WORSE THAN MUNICH

Bret Stephens

Wall Street Journal, Nov. 25, 2013

 

To adapt Churchill : Never in the field of global diplomacy has so much been given away by so many for so little. Britain and France's capitulation to Nazi Germany at Munich has long been a byword for ignominy, moral and diplomatic. Yet neither Neville Chamberlain nor Édouard Daladier had the public support or military wherewithal to stand up to Hitler in September 1938. Britain had just 384,000 men in its regular army; the first Spitfire aircraft only entered RAF service that summer. "Peace for our time" it was not, but at least appeasement bought the West a year to rearm. The signing of the Paris Peace Accords in January 1973 was a betrayal of an embattled U.S. ally and the abandonment of an effort for which 58,000 American troops gave their lives. Yet it did end America's participation in a peripheral war, which neither Congress nor the public could indefinitely support. "Peace with honor" it was not, as the victims of Cambodia's Killing Fields or Vietnam's re-education camps can attest. But, for American purposes at least, it was peace.

 

By contrast, the interim nuclear agreement signed in Geneva on Sunday by Iran and the six big powers has many of the flaws of Munich and Paris. But it has none of their redeeming or exculpating aspects. Consider: Britain and France came to Munich as military weaklings. The U.S. and its allies face Iran from a position of overwhelming strength. Britain and France won time to rearm. The U.S. and its allies have given Iran more time to stockpile uranium and develop its nuclear infrastructure. Britain and France had overwhelming domestic constituencies in favor of any deal that would avoid war. The Obama administration is defying broad bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress for the sake of a deal.

 

As for the Vietnam parallels, the U.S. showed military resolve in the run-up to the Paris Accords with a massive bombing and mining campaign of the North that demonstrated presidential resolve and forced Hanoi to sign the deal. The administration comes to Geneva fresh from worming its way out of its own threat to use force to punish Syria's Bashar Assad for his use of chemical weapons against his own people.

The Nixon administration also exited Vietnam in the context of a durable opening to Beijing that helped tilt the global balance of power against Moscow. Now the U.S. is attempting a fleeting opening with Tehran at the expense of a durable alliance of values with Israel and interests with Saudi Arabia. "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People" is the title of a hilarious memoir by British author Toby Young —but it could equally be the history of Barack Obama's foreign policy.

 

That's where the differences end between Geneva and the previous accords. What they have in common is that each deal was a betrayal of small countries—Czechoslovakia, South Vietnam, Israel—that had relied on Western security guarantees. Each was a victory for the dictatorships: "No matter the world wants it or not," Iranian President Hasan Rouhani said Sunday, "this path will, God willingly, continue to the peak that has been considered by the martyred nuclear scientists." Each deal increased the contempt of the dictatorships for the democracies: "If ever that silly old man comes interfering here again with his umbrella," Hitler is reported to have said of Chamberlain after Munich, "I'll kick him downstairs and jump on his stomach." And each deal was a prelude to worse. After Munich came the conquest of Czechoslovakia, the Nazi-Soviet pact and World War II. After Paris came the fall of Saigon and Phnom Penh and the humiliating exit from the embassy rooftop. After Geneva there will come a new, chaotic Mideast reality in which the United States will lose leverage over enemies and friends alike.

 

What will that look like? Iran will gradually shake free of sanctions and glide into a zone of nuclear ambiguity that will keep its adversaries guessing until it opts to make its capabilities known. Saudi Arabia will move swiftly to acquire a nuclear deterrent from its clients in Islamabad; Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal made that clear to the Journal last week when he indiscreetly discussed "the arrangement with Pakistan." Egypt is beginning to ponder a nuclear option of its own while drawing closer to a security alliance with Russia. As for Israel, it cannot afford to live in a neighborhood where Iran becomes nuclear, Assad remains in power, and Hezbollah—Israel's most immediate military threat—gains strength, clout and battlefield experience. The chances that Israel will hazard a strike on Iran's nuclear sites greatly increased since Geneva. More so the chances of another war with Hezbollah.

 

After World War II the U.S. created a global system of security alliances to prevent the kind of foreign policy freelancing that is again becoming rampant in the Middle East. It worked until President Obama decided in his wisdom to throw it away. If you hear echoes of the 1930s in the capitulation at Geneva, it's because the West is being led by the same sort of men, minus the umbrellas.

 

Contents

 

On Topic

 

 

Alliance With U.S. Is Here To Stay: Moshe Arens, Ha’aretz, Nov. 26, 2013— Since Hassan Rohani became president of Iran in June and began showing a smiling face to the United States, the manner in which the Iranian nuclear project should be handled has been a subject of disagreement between the president of the United States and the prime minister of Israel.

The Goal of Obama’s Foreign Policy: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 2013 — It isn’t surprising that the US and the other five powers signed a deal with Iran on Saturday.

The Iran Nuclear Deal: Full Text: CNN, Nov. 24, 2013 — The following is the full text of the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.

The Geneva Accord: A Tale of Two Clashing Perspectives: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Nov. 24, 2013—U.S. and Israeli perspectives on the accord signed in Geneva last night could not be more different.

How the European Media View the Iran Nuclear Deal: Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 26, 2013 — Major news organizations in France and Germany largely express approval of their political leaders for the six-month agreement reached in Geneva.

On Iran: Imagine Romney in the White House: Oded Eran & Yoel Guzansky, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 2013 — He publicly declared seven years ago that Iran must and can be stopped, that sanctions should be toughened, and that Iran should be isolated.

 

On Topic Links

 

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.

 

 

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

U.S.- IRAN ENTENTE VIOLATES UN RESOLUTIONS; NUCLEAR PLANTS INTACT, WHILE SANCTIONS ARE EASED

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:         

 

 

Iran’s Nuclear Triumph: Wall Street Journal, Nov. 24, 2013 — President Obama is hailing a weekend accord that he says has "halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program," and we devoutly wish this were true.

The Geneva Deal: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 24, 2013— The nuclear agreement signed in Geneva between the P5+1 and Iran over the weekend is a “bad deal” from Israel’s perspective.

Iran Deal Marks Vast U.S. Israel Gap on Existential Issues: Yori Yanover, Jewish Press, Nov. 24, 2013 — Israel’s freshly reinstated foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday morning told Army Radio he was unhappy with the signing of the deal between Iran and the West.
When the Obama Magic Died: Fouad Ajami, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 14, 2013 — The current troubles of the Obama presidency can be read back into its beginnings.

 

On Topic Links

 

White House Fact Sheet on the Iran Deal: Jerusalem Post, Nov. 24, 2013

Dangerous Times: A Looming Strategic Disaster in the Middle East: James Lewis, American Thinker, Nov. 24, 2013

Israeli Ministers Line Up To Lambast Iran Nuclear Deal: Algemeiner, Nov. 24, 2013

Obama’s Moves Could Start World War III: Noah Beck, American Thinker, Nov. 19, 2013

 

 

 

                                      IRAN’S NUCLEAR TRIUMPH

                                   Wall Street Journal, Nov. 24, 2013

 

President Obama is hailing a weekend accord that he says has "halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program," and we devoutly wish this were true. The reality is that the agreement in Geneva with five Western nations takes Iran a giant step closer to becoming a de facto nuclear power. Start with the fact that this "interim" accord fails to meet the terms of several United Nations resolutions, which specify no sanctions relief until Iran suspends all uranium enrichment. Under this deal Iran gets sanctions relief, but it does not have to give up its centrifuges that enrich uranium, does not have to stop enriching, does not have to transfer control of its enrichment stockpiles, and does not have to shut down its plutonium reactor at Arak.

 

Mr. Obama's weekend statement glossed over these canyon-sized holes. He said Iran "cannot install or start up new centrifuges," but it already has about 10,000 operational centrifuges that it can continue to spin for at least another six months. Why does Tehran need so many centrifuges if not to make a bomb at the time it pleases? The President also said that "Iran has committed to halting certain levels of enrichment and neutralizing part of its stockpiles." He is referring to an Iranian pledge to oxidize its 20% enriched uranium stockpile. But this too is less than reassuring because the process can be reversed and Iran retains a capability to enrich to 5%, which used to be a threshold we didn't accept because it can easily be reconverted to 20%. Mr. Obama said "Iran will halt work at its plutonium reactor," but Iran has only promised not to fuel the reactor even as it can continue other work at the site. That is far from dismantling what is nothing more than a bomb factory. North Korea made similar promises in a similar deal with Condoleezza Rice during the final Bush years, but it quickly returned to bomb-making.

 

As for inspections, Mr. Obama hailed "extensive access" that will "allow the international community to verify whether Iran is keeping its commitments." One problem is that Iran hasn't ratified the additional protocol to its International Atomic Energy Agency agreement that would allow inspections on demand at such sites as Parchin, which remain off limits. Iran can also oust U.N. inspectors at any time, much as North Korea did. Then there is the sanctions relief, which Mr. Obama says is only "modest" but which reverses years of U.S. diplomacy to tighten and enforce them. The message is that the sanctions era is over. The loosening of the oil regime is especially pernicious, inviting China, India and Germany to get back to business with Iran.

 

We are told that all of these issues will be negotiated as part of a "final" accord in the next six months, but that is not how arms control works. It is far more likely that this accord will set a precedent for a series of temporary deals in which the West will gradually ease more sanctions in return for fewer Iranian concessions. Iran will threaten to walk away from the talks without new concessions, and Mr. Obama will not want to acknowledge that his diplomatic achievement wasn't real. The history of arms control is that once it is underway the process dominates over substance, and a Western leader who calls a halt is denounced for risking war. The negotiating advantage lies with the dictatorship that can ignore domestic opinion.

 

Mr. Obama all but admitted this himself by noting that "only diplomacy can bring about a durable solution to the challenge posed by Iran's nuclear program." He added that "I have a profound responsibility to try to resolve our differences peacefully, rather than rush towards conflict." Rush to conflict? Iran's covert nuclear program was uncovered a decade ago, and the West has been desperately trying to avoid military action.

The best that can be said is that the weekend deal slows for a few weeks Iran's rapid progress to a nuclear breakout. But the price is that at best it sets a standard that will allow Iran to become a nuclear-capable regime that stops just short of exploding a bomb. At worst, it will allow Iran to continue to cheat and explode a bomb whenever it is strategically convenient to serve its goal of dominating the Middle East.

 

This seems to be the conclusion in Tehran, where Foreign Minister Javad Zarif boasted that the deal recognizes Iran's right to enrich uranium while taking the threat of Western military action off the table. Grand Ayatollah Ali Khameini also vouchsafed his approval, only days after he denounced the U.S. and called Jews "rabid dogs." Israel has a different view of the deal, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it a "historic mistake." He and his cabinet will now have to make their own calculations about the risks of unilateral military action. Far from having Israel's back, as Mr. Obama likes to say, the U.S. and Europe are moving to a strategy of trying to contain Israel rather than containing Iran. The French also fell into line as we feared they would under U.S. and media pressure.

 

Mr. Obama seems determined to press ahead with an Iran deal regardless of the details or damage. He views it as a legacy project. A President has enormous leeway on foreign policy, but Congress can signal its bipartisan unhappiness by moving ahead as soon as possible to strengthen sanctions. Mr. Obama warned Congress not to do so in his weekend remarks, but it is the only way now to stop the President from accommodating a nuclear Iran.    

                                                 Contents
                                       

THE GENEVA DEAL

                                  Jerusalem Post, Nov. 24, 2013

 

The nuclear agreement signed in Geneva between the P5+1 and Iran over the weekend is a “bad deal” from Israel’s perspective. Simply put, the deal does not roll back the vast majority of technological advances Iran has made in the past five years that have drastically shortened what nuclear experts call its “dash time” — the minimum time it would take to build a nuclear weapon if Iran’s supreme leader or military decided to pursue such as path. Iran’s centrifuges, which numbered a few thousand in 2009 when US President Barack Obama took office and have grown to 18,000, will not be dismantled and will continue to spin. What’s more, according to the deal, those that break down can be replaced with the same type of centrifuges so that Iran’s ability to “dash” for the bomb remains intact at its present level.

Iran has agreed not to enrich uranium beyond 5 percent and must either convert or dilute fuel stocks that are closest to the 20% weapons grade, But since its centrifuges will remain in operation, Iran will retain the capability to produce more of this weapon-grade fuel if it so chooses. And it could do this clandestinely: There is no provision in the agreement to allow the monitoring of underground sites where the CIA, Europe and Israel believe — but have no clear-cut evidence — that Iran is conducting enrichment. Also, a heavy water reactor outside the city of Arak – which has the sole purpose of producing a nuclear weapon — will not be dismantled.

And all of this nuclear weapon activity will be allowed to continue as the P5+1 relinquishes aspects of the sanction regime that have been put together meticulously for several years. The EU, the UN and the US all agreed not to put in place any new sanctions (if Congress votes for more sanctions after Thanksgiving break, Obama will have to veto the motion). And the US and the EU have agreed to suspend sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical exports; its auto industry; its gold and precious metals trade. The P5+1 has agreed to establish a financial channel to facilitate humanitarian trade for Iran’s domestic needs using oil revenues held abroad. Included under “humanitarian trade” are tuition payments to universities and colleges for Iranian students studying abroad.

It is difficult to gauge the economic significance of all these concessions — but even if the positive impact of these concessions is quite modest (the White House estimates they are worth about $7 billion) the psychological impact is clear: if the Islamic Republic’s mullah regime had been concerned that the deteriorating economic situation might lead to dissent, discontent and political upheaval, the mullahs now have some breathing space. Also, while it is easy to roll back sanctions, it will be much more difficult to reinstate them should the Iranians renege on their part of the deal. And cracks in the sanction regime combined with the tremendous pressures of business interests to resume “business as usual” with Iran might result in more economic relief than intended.

Understandably, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and others in the government such as Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Intelligence, International Relations and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni are calling it a bad deal. Netanyahu called it a “historic mistake” and reiterated Israel’s right to stop Iran with military means if necessary. “Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world,” Netanyahu said.

But Israel is not the only one critical of the deal. The Saudis, wary of seeing neighboring Iran with the bomb, might spark a nuclear arms race by turning to Pakistan, which developed its own nuclear weapons with Saudi funding. And Obama will face stiff opposition at home as well. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R –Virginia) expressed concern that the deal did not meet the demands of the UN Security Council resolutions which call for the full suspension of Iran’s nuclear activities. And a similar point was made in a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry signed by Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York.

At its best, the deal signed in Geneva might temporarily slow Iran’s progress toward nuclear arms capability. More likely it will provide the US and other western nations with a false impression that headway has been made while providing cover for the Iranians as they plod forward toward nuclear capability. Under the circumstances, there seems little cause for celebration.

 

Contents

 

IRAN DEAL MARKS VAST U.S. ISRAEL GAP ON EXISTENTIAL ISSUES

Yori Yanover

                                    Jewish Press, Nov. 24, 2013

 

Israel’s freshly reinstated foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday morning told Army Radio he was unhappy with the signing of the deal between Iran and the West. “There’s no dismantling of the centrifuges and no shipping out of the country of the fissile material from the uranium,” Lieberman said. Instead, he complained, “there is recognition of Iran’s legitimate right to enrich uranium, despite its blatant disregard for every possible agreement. As soon as they enter a nuclear arms race, all the countries of the region will follow.” Lieberman suggested the Iranians “possess enough material to produce several bombs, not just one.” Asked if Israel will attack Iran in light of the new reality, Lieberman said, “You must understand that this brings us to a new reality, us and the Saudis as well. Anyone who follows their reactions would realize that this isn’t just our concern, but the concern of all the states in the region. It looks like we’ll have to make decisions – with all the options on the table.” Lieberman also pointed out that “when you see the smiles on the faces of the Iranians, it’s clear that victory is theirs. The one making decisions there is still Khamenei.”

 

Sources in the prime minister’s office told Ma’ariv that this is a bad agreement, which “awards Iran everything it desired – both a significant reduction of the sanctions and preserving the most significant components of its nuclear program. The deal enables Iran to continue enriching uranium, and lets it keep all its centrifuges making fissile material for a nuclear weapon.” The same sources added that the deal does not require the dismantling of the heavy water plant in Arak, repeating Israel’s point that keeping Iran under continued economic pressure would have yielded a much better deal that included degrading Iran’s n uclear capabilities. Minister of Intelligence Yuval Steinitz said on Sunday that “Israel cannot partake in the international celebration which is founded on Iran’s con job and on self deception.” According to Steinitz, “the last minute changes are far from satisfying us, and the deal was and remains a bad deal, making it harder to reach a suitable solution in the future. Like the failed deal with North Korea, the current deal will most likely bring Iran closer to getting the bomb.” Nevertheless, the minister said that “despite our disappointment, we’ll continue to insist on our positions and to work with our friends in the U.S. and the world to seek an inclusive solution that will feature a real and complete dismantling of the Iran’s military nuclear infrastructure.

 

Finance Minister Yair Lapid told Army Radio that “it’s a bad deal. I’m concerned on two levels: one, about the deal and its ramifications, and two, because we’ve lost the ear of the world. Our role is to be the ones who issue the warnings. We have 6 months, at the end of which we must be back at a situation where the Americans are listening to us the way they used to.” Minister of the Economy Naftali Bennett said that “if in five years a nuclear suitcase explodes in New York or Madrid, it will be because of this deal. We woke up this morning to a reality in which a bad, very bad deal had been signed in Geneva.” Bennett warned that Israel is not obligated to keep a deal which threatens its very existence. Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon also warned that “all the options are still on the table and Israel has the duty and the ability to defend itself.” Likud MK Moshe Feiglin said the deal was “an Iranian Munich agreement. like Czechoslovakia back then, which was not allowed to participate in the discussion, and its fate was determined by the Western powers, Israel today is also looking on from the sidelines and seeing its national interest being sacrificed by the Western powers.” Likud MK Reuven Livni suggested that “the American attempt to calm us down worries me the most.” He noted that “undoubtedly, this deal reflects differences between us and the west and the U.S. which are not merely tactical but strategic. This is a dangerous agreement which prevents war only for the time being but does nothing to remove this option off the table.” Metetz Chairperson Zehava Gal-on and Communist MK Dov Haanin both praised the deal, saying it would now free Netanyahu up to reaching a deal with the Palestinians. See? Every cloud has a silver lining, and every serious political article must offer some comic relief.

                                                                                               

                                               Contents

 

WHEN THE OBAMA MAGIC DIED

                                             Fouad Ajami

                                Wall Street Journal, Nov. 14, 2013

 

The current troubles of the Obama presidency can be read back into its beginnings. Rule by personal charisma has met its proper fate. The spell has been broken, and the magician stands exposed. We need no pollsters to tell us of the loss of faith in Mr. Obama's policies—and, more significantly, in the man himself. Charisma is like that. Crowds come together and they project their needs onto an imagined redeemer. The redeemer leaves the crowd to its imagination: For as long as the charismatic moment lasts—a year, an era—the redeemer is above and beyond judgment. He glides through crises, he knits together groups of varied, often clashing, interests. Always there is that magical moment, and its beauty, as a reference point.

 

Mr. Obama gave voice to this sentiment in a speech on Nov. 6 in Dallas: "Sometimes I worry because everybody had such a fun experience in '08, at least that's how it seemed in retrospect. And, 'yes we can,' and the slogans and the posters, et cetera, sometimes I worry that people forget change in this country has always been hard." It's a pity we can't stay in that moment, says the redeemer: The fault lies in the country itself—everywhere, that is, except in the magician's performance. Forgive the personal reference, but from the very beginning of Mr. Obama's astonishing rise, I felt that I was witnessing something old and familiar. My advantage owed nothing to any mastery of American political history. I was guided by my immersion in the political history of the Arab world and of a life studying Third World societies.

 

In 2008, seeing the Obama crowds in Portland, Denver and St. Louis spurred memories of the spectacles that had attended the rise and fall of Arab political pretenders. I had lived through the era of the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdul Nasser. He had emerged from a military cabal to become a demigod, immune to judgment. His followers clung to him even as he led the Arabs to a catastrophic military defeat in the Six Day War of 1967. He issued a kind of apology for his performance. But his reign was never about policies and performance. It was about political magic.

 

In trying to grapple with, and write about, the Obama phenomenon, I found guidance in a book of breathtaking erudition, Crowds and Power (1962) by the Nobel laureate Elias Canetti. Born in Bulgaria in 1905 and educated in Vienna and Britain, Canetti was unmatched in his understanding of the passions, and the delusions, of crowds. The crowd is a "mysterious and universal phenomenon," he writes. It forms where there was nothing before. There comes a moment when "all who belong to the crowd get rid of their difference and feel equal." Density gives the illusion of equality, a blessed moment when "no one is greater or better than another." But the crowd also has a presentiment of its own disintegration, a time when those who belong to the crowd "creep back under their private burdens."

 

Five years on, we can still recall how the Obama coalition was formed. There were the African-Americans justifiably proud of one of their own. There were upper-class white professionals who were drawn to the candidate's "cool." There were Latinos swayed by the promise of immigration reform. The white working class in the Rust Belt was the last bloc to embrace Mr. Obama—he wasn't one of them, but they put their reservations aside during an economic storm and voted for the redistributive state and its protections. There were no economic or cultural bonds among this coalition. There was the new leader, all things to all people.

 

A nemesis awaited the promise of this new presidency: Mr. Obama would turn out to be among the most polarizing of American leaders. No, it wasn't his race, as Harry Reid would contend, that stirred up the opposition to him. It was his exalted views of himself, and his mission. The sharp lines were sharp between those who raised his banners and those who objected to his policies. America holds presidential elections, we know. But Mr. Obama took his victory as a plebiscite on his reading of the American social contract. A president who constantly reminded his critics that he had won at the ballot box was bound to deepen the opposition of his critics. A leader who set out to remake the health-care system in the country, a sixth of the national economy, on a razor-thin majority with no support whatsoever from the opposition party, misunderstood the nature of democratic politics. An election victory is the beginning of things, not the culmination. With Air Force One and the other prerogatives of office come the need for compromise, and for the disputations of democracy. A president who sought consensus would have never left his agenda on Capitol Hill in the hands of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

 

Mr. Obama has shown scant regard for precedent in American history. To him, and to the coterie around him, his presidency was a radical discontinuity in American politics. There is no evidence in the record that Mr. Obama read, with discernment and appreciation, of the ordeal and struggles of his predecessors. At best there was a willful reading of that history. Early on, he was Abraham Lincoln resurrected (the new president, who hailed from Illinois, took the oath of office on the Lincoln Bible). He had been sworn in during an economic crisis, and thus he was FDR restored to the White House. He was stylish with two young children, so the Kennedy precedent was on offer. In the oddest of twists, Mr. Obama claimed that his foreign policy was in the mold of Dwight Eisenhower's . But Eisenhower knew war and peace, and the foreign world held him in high regard…

 

There are no stars in the Obama cabinet today, men and women of independent stature and outlook. It was after a walk on the White House grounds with his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, that Mr. Obama called off the attacks on the Syrian regime that he had threatened. If he had taken that walk with Henry Kissinger or George Shultz, one of those skilled statesmen might have explained to him the consequences of so abject a retreat. But Mr. Obama needs no sage advice, he rules through political handlers. Valerie Jarrett, the president's most trusted, probably most powerful, aide, once said in admiration that Mr. Obama has been bored his whole life. The implication was that he is above things, a man alone, and anointed. Perhaps this moment—a presidency coming apart, the incompetent social engineering of an entire health-care system—will now claim Mr. Obama's attention.

Contents

 

On Topic

 

 

White House Fact Sheet on the Iran Deal: Jerusalem Post, Nov. 24, 2013 — Fact Sheet: First Step Understandings Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program

Dangerous Times: A Looming Strategic Disaster in the Middle East: James Lewis, American Thinker, Nov. 24, 2013 — If you think ObamaCare is bad, just wait till you hear the new "peace" agreement that is due to be imposed on the Middle East over the coming weeks.

Israeli Ministers Line Up To Lambast Iran Nuclear Deal: Algemeiner, Nov. 24, 2013 — As news broke in the wee hours of the morning of an interim deal reached between Iran and world powers over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, Israeli ministers and political figures from across the political spectrum took to the airwaves with sharp critique.  

Obama’s Moves Could Start World War III: Noah Beck, American Thinker, Nov. 19, 2013 — According to a recent news report, President Barack Obama has for over a year secretly conducted negotiations with Iran (through his adviser Valerie Jarrett) and the Geneva talks on Iranian nukes now appear to be just a facade providing international legitimacy for Obama's secret deal with Iran.

On Topic Links

 

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.

 

 

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

U.S. JEWS INCREASINGLY SECULAR, AS POLLARD LANGUISHES IN PRISON WILL U.S. – KHAMENEI NUCLEAR DEAL BETRAY ISRAEL? IN ARGENTINA, KRISTALLNACHT PROTEST AGAINST POPE’S LEGACY

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:         

 

The Coming Betrayal of Israel: Cal Thomas, Fox News, Nov. 12, 2013 — In Geneva, Switzerland, The United States and other major powers appeared close to a deal with Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for lifting some economic sanctions against the terrorist-sponsoring state.

U.S. Issues Belated Condemnation of Khamenei After Israel Protest: Yuval Bagno & Sof Hashavua, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 21, 2013 — Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, condemned on Thursday Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s remarks in which he referred to Israeli officials as those who “cannot be even called humans” and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as a “rabid dog.”                                          Loving Us To Death: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Nov. 01, 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.                                                   In Argentina, Catholic Supporters Opposed to Pope Francis Challenge His Legacy of Jewish Relations: In Argentina, Kristallnacht has come to be known as “el pogrom de noviembre”—the “November pogrom.”                                                                                              Pollard Supporters to Mark 28 Years Since Israeli Spy’s Arrest: Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 20, 2013 —Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard will enter the 29th year of his life sentence Thursday, the 28th anniversary of his arrest outside the Israeli embassy in Washington.

 

On Topic Links

 

Unless You Are Antisemitic, Consider This Before You Promote Boycotting Israel: Ari Lesser, Tent of Abraham, Nov. 18, 2013

Israel: It’s Time to Stand Up: Jerrold L. Sobel, American Thinker, Nov. 22, 2013

10 Tel Aviv Apps, Startups and Alternative Vehicles That Will Make Travelling So Much Easier: Adam Van Heerden, No Camels, Nov. 11, 2013

Saul Kagan Pursued a Relentless Quest for Justice: Paul Vitello, Globe & Mail, Nov. 19, 2013

                                 

                                                               

THE COMING BETRAYAL OF ISRAEL

Cal Thomas

Fox News, Nov. 12, 2013

 

In Geneva, Switzerland, The United States and other major powers appeared close to a deal with Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for lifting some economic sanctions against the terrorist-sponsoring state. Negotiations, however, fell apart at the last minute when France and Iran balked at the final wording on the interim draft. Talks are expected to resume within a few weeks, but it is worth pausing to consider what was nearly agreed to and what the outcome could likely be.

 

President Obama has pledged to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that America has Israel’s “back.” Who knew he had a knife? An agreement that trusts Iran’s promises and allows it to surreptitiously complete development of nuclear missiles would stab Israel in the back. North Korea promised former President Jimmy Carter during his 1994 visit to Pyongyang it would close a nuclear reactor at Yongbyon in exchange for food and humanitarian aid. The reactor was subsequently re-opened. Memo to the Obama administration: tyrants lie. Unlike North Korea, an officially atheist state, Iranian mullahs have repeatedly said they have a religious duty to annihilate Israel, not to mention America. How do secular diplomats negotiate with people who, in their minds, would be violating “Allah’s will” by making deals with the “great Satan”? While the negotiations between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran were taking place in Geneva, Ynetnews.com claims, “…the Iranian government sent a different message with a broadcast on state television of a simulated missile attack on Israel.” How much more evidence of Iran’s intentions and ultimate objective are needed?

 

Last month, Kerry and Netanyahu met for seven hours in Rome. Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post, citing the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot, writes, “The secretary of state told the prime minister that he heard from his European friends … that if the negotiations (with the Palestinians) fail, Israel can forget about participating in the European research and development program ‘Horizon 2020’.” Kerry is then quoted as saying, “And that will only be the beginning.” Doesn’t Kerry have this backward? Sanctions might be lifted against Iran for a promise that won’t be kept, but possibly imposed on Israel if it won’t agree to what amounts to assisted suicide? It would also appear that this “deal” had been in the works for at least several months before the Geneva meetings. The Daily Beast reports: “The Obama administration began softening sanctions on Iran after the election of Iran’s new president in June, well before the current round of nuclear talks in Geneva or the historic phone call between the two leaders in September.” The administration pledges to watch Iran closely and if it violates any provisions in a final agreement, sanctions would be re-imposed. If sanctions and other means, such as the introduction of the Stuxnet virus into Iran’s computers, failed to deter Iran’s nuclear program, why would anyone think additional threats and more sanctions would produce the desired results? Iran is playing for time and it appears the United States is willing to give it to them.

 

History is a great teacher, but not everyone pays attention. In The Guns at Last Light, Rick Atkinson’s chronicle of World War II, the author recalls President Franklin Roosevelt’s view of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin following their meeting at Yalta in February 1945: “‘Stalin doesn’t want anything other than security for his country,’ the president said. ‘He won’t try to annex anything and will work for a world of democracy and peace.’” Winston Churchill similarly misjudged Stalin, writes Atkinson, telling his war cabinet, “‘Stalin I’m sure means well to the world and Poland. … He will not embark on bad adventures.’ He added, ‘I don’t think I’m wrong about Stalin,’ whom he had called ‘that great and good man.’” Times and dictators change, but human nature remains the same. Roosevelt and Churchill were wrong about Stalin and the Obama administration is wrong about Iran.

 

                                                  Contents
                                 

                                           

U.S. ISSUES BELATED CONDEMNATION                                                OF KHAMENEI AFTER ISRAEL PROTEST

Yuval Bagno & Sof Hashavua

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 21, 2013

 

Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, condemned on Thursday Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s remarks in which he referred to Israeli officials as those who “cannot be even called humans” and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as a “rabid dog.” In an interview with CNN, Power said the remarks were “abhorrent.” Earlier in the day, US Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that “obviously we disagree with [Khamenei’s statements] profoundly.” "It's inflammatory and it's unnecessary, and I think at this moment, when we are trying to negotiate and figure out what can and can't be achieved, the last thing we need are names back and forth," Kerry said.

 

Israeli officials expressed shock Thursday that world powers negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program, and the US in particular, remained silent in regard to the scathing comments by Khamenei. Khamenei took swipes at Israel and France during a speech to tens of thousands of volunteer Basij militiamen in Tehran, broadcast live on Iran’s Press TV. “Zionist officials cannot be called humans, they are like animals, some of them,” said Khamenei. “The Israeli regime is doomed to failure and annihilation,” he said. The Iranian leader referred to the "Zionist regime" as the "rabid dog of the region."

 

Jerusalem awaited condemnation of the comments from senior officials of the states taking part in nuclear talks with Iran in Geneva, but such a reaction was not forthcoming. The P5+1 group of world powers negotiating with Iran consists of the US, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany. "We knew the Americans were eager, even more so than the Iranians themselves, to reach an intermediate deal in Geneva, but we did not estimate to how great an extent," a senior official in Jerusalem told The Jerusalem Post's Hebrew-language sister publication Sof Hashavua Magazine. The official added that "the West is choosing not to direct its gaze at Khamenei, who is the true face of Iran and its de facto ruler, and to accept the "pretty face" of Iran's new diplomacy instead. The comments by the supreme leader, who cursed America and France at the height of the talks, constitute spitting in the face of the enlightened world, not just Israel, but the world remains silent, thinking it is rain, and continues to talk with this leader's emissaries, who are masters of deception. They then blame us for making comparisons to the 1930s." An official in the US delegation to the Geneva talks skirted questions Thursday from journalists on the issue, saying, "Naturally, there are still expressions of the deep lack of trust between us and the Iranians – which stem from more than three decades of severed relations. We are trying to reach an agreement whose goal is to peacefully prevent the Iranian regime from obtaining nuclear weapons, while dealing with this atmosphere, and it is not easy."

 

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who flew to Russia on Wednesday to appeal for tougher terms, said Khamenei's comments showed Iran had not changed since so-called moderate Hassan Rouhani was elected as president in June. "He called Jews 'rabid dogs' and said that they were not human. The public responded to him with calls of 'Death to America! Death to Israel!' Doesn't this sound familiar to you? This is the real Iran! We are not confused. They must not have nuclear weapons. And I promise you that they will not have nuclear weapons," the premier said.
                                                                            Contents
                               

LOVING US TO DEATH

Jonathan S. Tobin

Commentary, Nov. 01, 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 per-cent 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 2percent 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 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.

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link – ed.]

 

Contents

 

 

IN ARGENTINA, CATHOLIC SUPPORTERS OPPOSED TO

POPE FRANCIS CHALLENGTE HIS LEGACY OF JEWISH RELATIONS

Natasha Zaretsky

Tablet, Nov. 22, 2013

 

In Argentina, Kristallnacht has come to be known as “el pogrom de noviembre”—the “November pogrom.” Last week, on the 75th anniversary of that tragic night, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires, a cavernous space in the symbolic center of the city, hosted an interfaith commemoration of the violence of that November pogrom convened by the archdiocese of Argentina and the nation’s B’nai B’rith.

 

Diana Wang, the daughter of survivors and president of the Argentine group Generations of the Shoah, was at the cathedral for the event and did not expect it to be different from any previous commemorations, including the one last year, which was led by then-Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio—now Pope Francis—and his friend Rabbi Abraham Skorka. As in other years, the cathedral was full, crowded with representatives of various Christian denominations, rabbis, Jewish community leaders, politicians, and Holocaust survivors.

 

But this year, for the first time in the nearly 20-year history of such memorials in Argentine churches, a protest erupted: Members of a far-right religious group, the Society of St. Pius X, staged a group prayer to oppose what they called “the profanation of this space.” According to Wang, it started as a murmur of “Our Father” and other prayers, and then the protesters began chanting the rosary louder and louder. Between 20 and 40 young men, some just teenagers, kneeled down and began praying fervently, their eyes fixed straight ahead. The Society, an international organization formed in the wake of the Second Vatican Council by Catholics who opposed the liberalization of church doctrine, rejects the promotion of interfaith dialogue—strongly promoted by Pope Francis, who from Vatican City described Jews as “big brothers” to Catholics in his own observance of the Kristallnacht anniversary. It has gained a particular reputation for anti-Semitism. One of its bishops has been convicted of Holocaust denial in the German courts. In October, the Italian branch offered to hold a funeral for Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke, who had been extradited to Italy from Argentina.

 

The Kristallnacht protest at the Metropolitan Cathedral was a disruption of remembering, an assault on a key moment in Jewish history and Holocaust memory. But it was also a challenge to Pope Francis, on his home turf, and to the entire post-Vatican II infrastructure of interfaith dialogue Francis has reinvigorated since his election as pontiff earlier this year. Wang—whom I first met through my fieldwork as an anthropologist working with survivor groups in Buenos Aires—told me she felt a sensation of fear. She worried that violence might erupt, in a church filled with elderly survivors. But they surprised her: The survivors in the cathedral, she told me, stood their ground “like soldiers,” refusing to leave. “I am not going anywhere from here,” they said later. “Ni loca”—not for anything—“would I go.” Others in attendance tried to intervene and stop the protest. Martha de Antueno, president of the Argentine Judeo-Christian Confraternity, decried their use of the rosary—a holy prayer—as a “weapon” against the memory of Holocaust victims being remembered that evening. But the men continued their prayers, murmuring louder and louder as they stared ahead. “They then confronted me, asking, how can I as a Catholic be supporting an event with those who had killed Jesus?” de Antueno told me afterward. One of the protesters took over the microphone and called out, “Leave, and stop this profanation.” After nearly an hour, the protesters finally left.

 

Jews have long occupied a tenuous position in Argentina, home to the seventh-largest Jewish population in the world, and the largest in Latin America. They built an array of synagogues, schools and social service organizations, but the country where they found refuge also became an infamous haven for Nazis, many living under assumed identities—including, of course, Adolf Eichmann, who was known as “Ricardo Klement” until his capture by the Mossad in 1960. At the time, neo-Nazi groups responded by unleashing violence that included the kidnapping of a young Jewish student named Graciela Sirota; they tattooed a swastika onto her body. Since then, Jews have experienced waves of anti-Semitism, especially during the political repression of the military dictatorship, from 1976 to 1983, and the trauma of two terrorist attacks that targeted Jewish sites in the early 1990s. But today, three decades after the collapse of the junta, Argentines memorialize the Holocaust through museums, monuments, archives, and commemorative programs like last week’s, as well as through active outreach to society at large, Jews and non-Jews alike, undertaken by the Holocaust Museum of Buenos Aires and survivor groups, like Generations of the Shoah. Argentina, as the only Latin American member nation in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, also gives official state support for Holocaust commemoration in the national school curriculum. Holocaust remembrance ceremonies like the event at the cathedral are generally not controversial affairs—simply part of the landscape of memorial practices in Buenos Aires.

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link – ed.]

 

                                                   Contents

 

 

POLLARD SUPPORTERS TO MARK 28 YEARS SINCE ISRAELI SPY’S ARREST

Gil Hoffman

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 20, 2013

 

Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard will enter the 29th year of his life sentence Thursday, the 28th anniversary of his arrest outside the Israeli embassy in Washington. Pollard’s wife Esther said she and her husband had not lost hope that US President Barack Obama would commute his sentence to the time he has already served.
“It is a terrible blow to Jonathan and to me that all the anguish and suffering he has endured for a full 28 years in prison now continues into year 29,” Esther Pollard said. “We had such high hopes that this nightmare anniversary would not occur again. After all the recent developments, we really hoped that by now we would be recovering from our ordeal and rebuilding our life , that we would finally live together here in Israel and get on with our life together.” She said she was encouraged by the numerous ranking American officials who have come out in support of her husband’s release, the declassification of materials exonerating him and many other factors. She called upon Obama to commute the sentence of her husband, whose health is deteriorating, as a matter of compassion and mercy.

MKs Hilik Bar (Labor), Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) and David Azulay (Shas) jointly called for Pollard’s release in a special discussion in the Knesset plenum. Bar said the effort to bring Pollard home crossed party lines. He complained that the US, which did not want Pollard’s deeds to be seen positively, had made him a hero by holding him so long. “Pollard paid a price for his actions that is higher and heavier than usual,” Bar said. “He should be allowed to go home to Israel and his family.” The government’s liaison to the Knesset, deputy minister Ophir Akunis (Likud) rejected charges that the government was not doing enough to bring Pollard home. He said the issue was not in the hands of the Israeli government, but of the president of the United States.

 

CIJR wishes all its friends and supporters Shabbat Shalom!

On Topic

 

Unless You Are Antisemitic, Consider This Before You Promote Boycotting Israel: Ari Lesser, Tent of Abraham, Nov. 18, 2013 — Friends and supporters of Israel, even those of us who don’t believe the Jewish State is beyond criticism, always find ourselves wondering why so many people support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement that encourages consumers, countries and the private sector from doing business with Israel.

Israel: It’s Time to Stand Up: Jerrold L. Sobel, American Thinker, Nov. 22, 2013 — Growing up in a tough Bronx neighborhood further back than I like to think, it was good to have an older tough friend.

10 Tel Aviv Apps, Startups and Alternative Vehicles That Will Make Travelling So Much Easier: Adam Van Heerden, No Camels, Nov. 11, 2013 — Tel Aviv is a hub of innovative transportation solutions that will help you get from A to B efficiently and in style.

Saul Kagan Pursued a Relentless Quest for Justice: Paul Vitello, Globe & Mail, Nov. 19, 2013 — Saul Kagan, a former refugee who for decades led the Jewish service organization that was primarily responsible for securing more than $70-billion (U.S.) in restitution for Holocaust survivors and their heirs, died Nov. 8 in Manhattan. He was 91.

 

On Topic Links

 

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Prof. Frederick Krantz: Obama, Kerry Threaten Israel’s Security By Linking “Peace Process” & Geneva P5+1 Negotiations With Iran

As the US and the UN P5+1 foreign ministers resume negotiations in Geneva with Iran over its  nuclear status,  Israel’s fate hangs  in the  balance.   The fix seems to be in–Obama clearly is ready to make a deal with Teheran “moderates”, one which Israel’s Netanyahu (seconded, mirabile dictu, by the Saudis) has already clearly denounced as a sell-out. 

   (As I write, news of the French foreign minister’s surprising withdrawal from what he terms a “con game” is being carried by the media—but will this opposition be enough to derail the deal?)

    In apiece published three months ago, I examined Foreign Secretary Kerry’s odd nine-month ultimatum-limit for an agreement with Abbas and the Palestinians, and related it to the growing crisis over Teheran’s rapidly accelerating nuclear program.

   It already was clear that containment, alluded to both by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Hagel Obama, and not military intervention, was Obama’s decided policy.  And, despite pious affirmations of Israel’s right to make its own defense decisions, President Obama and Administration officials  repeatedly underlined US unhappiness with any prospective unilateral Israeli action against Iran.

   I concluded then that what was really at stake between Jerusalem and Washington, was not direct US military action, but the US stance towards Israel if Israel in fact acted against an Iranian nuclear capacity.  In other words, a threatened US lining-up with the already-negative European Union states and their increasing delegitimation campaign against Israel.

   Such a threat, I argued, would also explain another mystery, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s sudden caving in to US Secretary of State Kerry’s pressure to agree to resume negotiations with the hostile Palestinians, as well as his striking pledge—despite almost unanimously negative Israeli public opinion–to release up to 104 convicted Palestinian terrorist murderers, as an unreciprocated initial concession. 

   My earlier analysis has now been borne out by a series of statements Kerry recently made: in Rome with Netanyahu at the end of October, again last week while he was in Jerusalem, Ramallah (wearing a green tie!) and Jordan, and in a joint Israeli-Palestinian television interview just before the resumption of the Geneva P5+1 negotiations with Iran.

   In all these venues, Kerry repeatedly threatened Israel, but not the Palestinians, with dire consequences  were the peace talks to break down.

   Kerry clearly warned that failure of the peace process risked European political and economic marginalization of Israel (and, implicitly, US support for it), and would also create a third Palestinian intifada. In the TV interview, Kerry came down hard on Israel, urging it to end its West Bank “settlements” and “perpetual military occupation” of Judea and Samaria, and explicitly noting that a direct consequence of the talks’ failure “will be an increasing campaign of delegitimization of Israel that has been taking place in an international basis”. 

    In all these remarks, there were no strictures against Palestinian obduracy, the PA’s antisemitic media propaganda, refusal to relinquish insistence on “the right of return”, or to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. (Indeed, so unbalanced were his remarks that one observer wondered if he had become Abbas’s Foreign Minister.)

    Obama now is seen by Israel (and by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states) as having  compromised his clear pledge that there would never be an Iranian nuclear weapon (just as he reneged on his “red line” post-poison gas attacks commitment to bomb Syria). Instead, he and Kerry—again in concert with Russia–have rushed into direct negotiations with the mullacratic dictatorship, and actively cooperated with Iranian President Rouhani’s diplomatic “charm” campaign.

   (Details leaking our of Geneva indicate a first-stage deal which would see Teheran cease production of 90% enriched uranium but continue refining 3% uranium and    bomb-grade plutonium [while the heavy-water reactor at Arak , for more plutonium, continues to be built]. In return, the U.S. and allies would, as a first step, release some currently escrowed Iranian funds and ease banking restrictions. 

   Netanyahu, as noted earlier [and, evidently, the French foreign minister] denounced this as a sell-out, not least because it leaves Iran’s nuclear facilities intact—achieved stockpiles of fissionable materials are untouched, and 3% uranium can quickly be ginned up to “break-out” weapons-grade by the Iranians’ increasing, and increasingly efficient, centrifuges, 10,000 of which would remain in place).

  That these two processes—peace-process pressure on Israel and the rush to a negotiated diplomatic “settlement” with Iran—are connected and overlap is shown precisely by the nine-month ultimatum given Israel.  Obama wants a diplomatic victory before Israel feels it must move against Teheran: and nine months from the July, 2013 beginning of Israeli-Palestinian talks will put us at  March, 2014. This is the date by which most informed experts see Teheran as achieving clear nuclear break-out, with enough enriched uranium for one or more nuclear weapons. Hence  March, 2014—five months away–is also Israel’s own terminus ad quem for a decision on military action.

    Here, note that a final Iranian-European-U.S nuclear deal before March, 2014 would, politically, make a subsequent Israeli military move against Iran more difficult.  Such an act would be represented as an aggression threatening “peace” both with the Palestinians and the Iranians, and alienating Europe and the UN and, clearly, Obama’s America as well. 

   To summarize: “Peace” between Israel and the Palestinians, and a diplomatic deal with the Iranians, are related; they are obverse sides of the same coin, the building-blocs of Obama’s (and Kerry’s) second-term foreign policy.  They are also key to Obama’s post-Presidential legacy, offsetting his dismal record of failures elsewhere—Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, Russia. 

   (They may also be crucial not only to John Kerry’s eligibility for a Nobel prize, but   to his viability, should Hillary falter, for a second run at the U.S. presidency in 2016.)

   Jerusalem, from Obama’s perspective,  stands in the way of both goals. This explains the clear Obama-Kerry readiness to pressure Israel both into an rushed and unstable peace agreement, and into living with the existential threat of an Iranian bomb. Extricating America from Middle East entanglements by playing to Muslim regional interests should also be related to Obama’s wider diplomatic plan, the much-vaunted new “pivot” to Asia.

    Here, if Obama can dissuade Israel from acting against Iran, so much the better; if not, and Israel acts despite his pressure, he can then support European sanctions,  abandon Jerusalem at the UN, and, finally, wash his hands of the uncooperative Jews and their pesky Prime Minister.

   Who is the loser here? Certainly not the Iranians, who would get the easing of sanctions while maintaining their nuclear infrastructure intact. Not the Palestinians, who will either get a sweet, and easily abrogable, “peace” deal (division of Jerusalem, restriction of “settlements”, financial aid, etc.) or an excuse for evading responsibility for a negotiations breakdown. Indeed, as usual, such a breakdown would enable them both to avoid accepting the small, demilitarized state-let they have never wanted and recognizing Israel as a legitimate, and permanent, Jewish state.

   Obama—especially given the weak and divided domestic opposition—is a winner here, not a loser. His appeasement of Iran in solidarity with Western Europe and Russia would be represented, like the Syrian debacle, as a diplomatic triumph, peace in our time. 

   No—the real potential losers are the Jewish state, and the American people.   Were Israel to accept being outmaneuvered it would have to live with the dangers of an eliminationist nuclear Iran as the new regional hegemon; and if it did finally move unilaterally–and remember, the window for such action is closing very quickly–it would, even if successful, face opprobrium and punishment not only from Europe and the UN, but also—and most importantly–from its sole current ally, the U.S. 

   And the American people? Sacrificing democratic Israel would mean they would have to face an inward-turning loss of their own democratic vitality, a declining world role, the rise of increasing tensions and instability in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, and—if domestic economic and social stagnation and political paralysis continue and even deepen—rising internal tensions and divisions as well.

      Still, “winning” in such circumstances is ambiguous.  If Obama and the Europeans  persist in isolating Israel, they may just engender what they are seeking to avoid: forced to choose this spring to choose between possible nuclear destruction at the hands of the messianic and antisemitic Iranian regime and suffering Western sanctions, one assumes (hopes?) Netanyahu will choose sovereign national Jewish survival.  And Israel’s resistance to Western pressures here would, if successful, also   have consequences insofar as the Palestinian issue is concerned.

    Israel going it alone against the Iranians, and in opposition to the US, is a nightmare scenario indeed. That it is even thinkable is a measure of the immense diplomatic-political distance travelled in the last five years of Barack Hussein Obama’s Presidency.  Will Israel find the strength to act alone, despite threats? Will the U.S. Congress find a leader able to rise to the occasion across party lines and oppose Obama’s abandonment of Israel, appeasement of Iran, and weakening of America’s position in the world?

   Finally, will the poorly-led and divided North American Jewish world—remembering in this Hannukah season the valiant struggle of the Maccabees against foreign oppression—now wake up, and come to the defense of the Jewish state?   

                                   (Prof. Krantz is Director of the Canadian Institute for
                                 Jewish Research, and Editor of its ISRAFAX magazine).

ARAB WORLD

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:         

 

 

 

Hezbollah Suffers Syria Blowback in Beirut Bombings: Fouad Ajami, Bloomberg, Nov. 20, 2013 Hassan Nasrallah, the dreadful Shiite cleric who commands the Lebanon-based Hezbollah movement, couldn’t get what he wanted.

Libya’s Resurgent Violence: Editorial Board, New York Times, Nov. 20, 2013 — One year ago, officials in the transition government in Libya spoke of making progress toward integrating rival militias into a cohesive security force that could stabilize the country as it seeks to become a democracy.

Russia and Egypt: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 14, 2013 — Just as the red carpet was being rolled out in Cairo in honor of the visiting Russian foreign and defense ministers, Egypt’s headliners were busy declaring that nothing had altered in their country’s geopolitical orientation.

A Saudi-Israel Alliance Against Iran?: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Nov. 17, 2013 — The administration is again floating rumors of an impending nuclear agreement with Iran this weekend, leaving Israel and other nations worried about the prospect assessing their options.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

U.S. Should Be Wary of Iran’s Goal to Dominate the Middle East: Joseph Lieberman & Vance Serchuk, Washington Post, Nov. 20, 2013

Egypt and Israel Spar Over Gaza as Sinai Crisis Escalates: Geoffrey Aronson, Al-Monitor, Nov. 20, 2013

Beirut Attack Marks Militant Resurgence: Maria Abi-Habib, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 21, 2013

U.S. Officials Warn of Insurgents Streaming Into Syria: Greg Miller, Washington Post, Nov. 20, 2013

Tunisia Islamists Seek Jihad in Syria With One Eye on Home: Patrick Markey & Tarek Amara, Reuters, Nov. 18, 2013

                                                               

HEZBOLLAH SUFFERS SYRIA BLOWBACK IN BEIRUT BOMBINGS

Fouad Ajami

Bloomberg, Nov. 20, 2013

 

Hassan Nasrallah, the dreadful Shiite cleric who commands the Lebanon-based Hezbollah movement, couldn’t get what he wanted. He had plunged his militia into the war in Syria, he had helped turn the tide of war in favor of the Bashar al-Assad regime, and he had bragged about the prowess of his fighters. Yet he had asked that the fight for Syria be waged only on Syrian soil. The two bombings that hit the Iranian embassy in a Hezbollah neighborhood of Beirut on Tuesday should have delivered to Nasrallah a truth known to all protagonists in this fight. There are no easy victories, no way that the fire could rage in Syria while life went on as usual in Beirut.

 

It was Nasrallah — and by extension his Iranian paymasters — who wrote the grim new rules of the Syrian war. Assad hadn’t been able to prevail against the Sunni rebellion. The Russian weapons and Iranian money, deployed on his behalf, hadn’t sufficed. The Iranian desire for a measure of deniability had come up against the incompetence of Assad’s armed forces: The dictator’s supporters were barbarians, but defections from the ranks, and the flagrant sectarian base of his regime, had forced the Iranians into the open. This is when Iran decreed the entry of Hezbollah into the fight.

 

It didn’t matter whether Nasrallah and his lieutenants were enthusiastic about this new mission beyond Lebanon’s borders. The Hezbollah leaders are at once players in the Lebanese political game and self-professed soldiers in Iran’s revolutionary brigades. The effective leader of Hezbollah isn’t Nasrallah in his bunker, but Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, in Tehran. Iran’s power and money and protection raised Nasrallah, a child of Beirut’s most wretched slum, to his position as mightiest warlord in Lebanon.

 

Iran may have been pressed for money at home, hobbled by sanctions, but the money kept coming to Beirut. There was money for Hezbollah’s gunmen, there was a television station, Al Manar, that spread Iran’s message. A vast relief network enabled Nasrallah to pose as a benefactor of impoverished Shiites and to ask his followers for ever greater sacrifices. Nasrallah’s mission was clear: He and his fighters were to make Iran a power of the Mediterranean and, by way of Lebanon, a veritable neighbor of Israel.

 

Once Iran had committed itself to Assad’s survival, Hezbollah forces were on their way to Syria. This war kept no secrets. At first, Hezbollah fighters who fell in battle were given quiet burials. Their death notices were ambiguous — they died while performing “jihadi duty.” A vicious battle last May for Qusayr, a town near the Lebanese border, shattered the ambiguity. Hezbollah fighters prevailed at a price. Their triumphalism was abhorrent. They defied the sensibilities of Sunnis everywhere. They raised Shiite banners atop a Sunni mosque. There had been an unwritten pact that all parties to the sectarian feuds of Lebanon would keep a distance from Syria’s struggle, lest the divisions tear Lebanon apart.

 

For the Sunnis of Lebanon, once masters of the coastal cities of Beirut, Sidon and Tripoli, Qusayr was a summons to battle. They had watched Hezbollah gunmen overrun their beloved West Beirut; they had seen Shiite squatters from the southern hinterland and Bekaa Valley swamp Beirut and alter its demography. They had bristled at the emergence of Iran and its embassy and its agents as a power in their midst. The two suicide bombers who struck the Iranian embassy, one on a motorcycle and the other behind the wheel of a car loaded with more than 100 pounds of explosives, were Lebanese members of al-Qaeda, “two heroes of the Sunnis of Beirut,” according to a statement on Twitter.

 

The Sunni jihad in Syria had come to Beirut, and Nasrallah and his Iranian masters have to accept that this was the war they made. Iran plays a double game. It feigns respectability in regional affairs; it even wants a role in the negotiations over Syria, if and when these negotiations materialize. Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, described Syria in an article under his name in the Washington Post as a “civilizational jewel,” even as Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah fighters have heaped grief and loss on Syrian civilians.

But the attack in Beirut is a stark confirmation that Iran has run out of deniability for its deeds in Syria

 

                                                  Contents

LIBYA’S RESURGENT VIOLENCE

Editorial Board

New York Times, Nov. 20, 2013 

 

 

One year ago, officials in the transition government in Libya spoke of making progress toward integrating rival militias into a cohesive security force that could stabilize the country as it seeks to become a democracy. Today, the situation teeters toward civil war as rival militias provoke a rising tide of violence and Libya, awash in arms, continues to serve as a base for the smuggling of weapons into places like Mali. Militia fighters on Friday killed dozens of people in Tripoli when they fired on unarmed demonstrators protesting against the militias.

 

After the rebels helped oust Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011, they banded into hundreds, some say thousands, of militias, each with its own ideology and regional alliance. Riven by feuds, they have largely refused government pleas to disarm or integrate into the country’s official armed forces. On Monday, the militias from the anti-Qaddafi stronghold of Misurata, who were blamed for most of Friday’s violence, withdrew from Tripoli and the Libyan army took up positions around the capital. The government has announced plans to remove all militias from the capital and eventually integrate them into the official security forces. Whether this can be accomplished remains unknown. Not only do the militias vastly exceed the army and police forces in size and arsenals, they have often been enlisted by the government to bolster its own security needs because the army and police are so weak. The withdrawal of the Misurata fighters still leaves other rival militias competing for influence in the city.

 

Gaining control of the militias is a huge challenge. Since last spring, the United States, Britain and Italy have been planning a multiyear program to train and equip a Libyan force of about 5,000 to 7,000 soldiers and a separate, smaller unit for specialized counterterrorism missions. This would give the government a core of strengthened forces around which to build its national security structure. On Saturday, however, the leader of the United States Special Operations Command, Adm. William McRaven, said no final decision on the training mission had been made. The project won’t deliver immediate results, but it needs to begin soon.

 

Despite the recent violence, hundreds of university students on Tuesday marched in Tripoli, chanting against the militias and demanding that the army and police assert themselves. There were reports that religious figures, including the grand mufti of Libya, has sided with the protesters and spoken out against the militias as well. If such groups form the backbone of a national reconciliation movement that unifies Libya’s tribal, regional and political groups there might be hope for a permanent, democratic structure. Libya will need the United States and Europe as more active partners in that difficult task.

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RUSSIA AND EGYPT

Editorial

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 14, 2013

 

Just as the red carpet was being rolled out in Cairo in honor of the visiting Russian foreign and defense ministers, Egypt’s headliners were busy declaring that nothing had altered in their country’s geopolitical orientation. According to them, all is as it was – they still are officially allies of the US, still cooperate with its intelligence agencies and would still welcome American economic largesse. But the very fact that the Egyptian leadership felt bound to articulate and accentuate a business-as-usual message indicates that its business agenda is anything but usual. The very fact that high-level and high-profile Russian visits are taking place for the first time in a very long time, replete with pomp and circumstance, attests quite loudly that things are hardly quite what they were.

 

It is not difficult to pinpoint the triggers for change. The ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood regime was greeted with undisguised American displeasure and was followed by Washington’s decision to suspend much of the $1.3 billion earmarked for military aid to Egypt each year. The US not only withheld cash subsidies but indefinitely deferred the delivery of large-scale military systems. Egyptian government spokesmen described this as “wrongheaded” and vowed that Cairo would “not surrender to American pressure.”

 

US Secretary of State John Kerry sought to punctuate the American moves with the assurance that this wasn’t “a withdrawal from our relationship.” Yet he was as unconvincing as the official Egyptian assurances that the Russian ministerial visits signify no policy departure on Cairo’s part. The more persistent the denials, the clearer it is that a marked shift is taking place in international ties that until recently bound the world’s single superpower with the most populous Arab state. The Russian ministerial visits were preceded by a visit by the chief of Russian intelligence and by Russian naval vessels. More important, the visits by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu involve a major sale to Egypt of sophisticated Russian military hardware – clearly a counter move to the American halting of weapons supplies.

 

The Egyptians are essentially saying that they can shop elsewhere and not have to shell out cash. According to reliable reports, another exasperated American ally, Saudi Arabia, is footing the bill for this transaction to the tune of $4b. The Russians may receive additional compensation in the form of access for their navy to port facilities on the Mediterranean. Like it or not, this smacks of a return – if not fully in substance then at least in appearance – to the days of the Cold War when Egypt enjoyed unstinting Soviet support, enabling Moscow and Cairo to thumb their noses at Washington.

 

Egypt’s latest rulers might be realistic enough not to expect the same now, and likewise today’s Kremlin likely does not expect to wield quite the same clout as yesteryear, but the direction is unmistakable. Russia is eager for a toehold in Egypt and Egypt has every reason to play along to spite US President Barack Obama and Kerry, who are resented for what are regarded in Cairo as their sympathies for the Muslim Brotherhood. Obama and Kerry may proclaim ad infinitum that they were only supporting democratic rule in Egypt but this will not wash. For one thing, the deposed Mohamed Morsi violated his country’s constitution and limited the authority of the courts in clear contravention of democratic precepts. But, far more telling, Muslim Brotherhood adherents denounce the Obama administration with vituperation that markedly exceeds that of their political antagonists in Egypt. Obama and Kerry figured this out a tad tardily and on his recent stopover in Cairo, Kerry sought to talk his Egyptian interlocutors out of the Russian deal by offering to restore full military aid. Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, however, made it clear that Egypt intends to take whatever it can get from both sides.

 

The Russian reappearance in this region is entirely made-in-America and it was hardly unavoidable. This serious-cum-superfluous complication in already too problematical an arena constitutes yet another spectacular US foreign policy flop, arising from a fundamental failure to fathom the Middle East’s intricacies.

 

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A SAUDI-ISRAEL ALLIANCE AGAINST IRAN?

Jonathan S. Tobin

Commentary, Nov. 17, 2013

 

The administration is again floating rumors of an impending nuclear agreement with Iran this weekend, leaving Israel and other nations worried about the prospect assessing their options. Given the proven lack of professionalism and incompetence of the Obama foreign-policy team and Iran’s predilection for stringing Western interlocutors along, any assumption that an accord is a certainty when the parties meet again in Geneva later this week is unjustified. But given Secretary of State John Kerry’s obvious zeal for a deal, both Israel and Saudi Arabia are looking to France for some assurances that it will continue to play the unlikely role of the diplomatic conscience of the West, as it did at the last meeting of the P5+1 talks. French President Francois Hollande reiterated his demands for a tougher deal that would make it harder for Iran to break any pact intended to spike their nuclear ambitions during a visit to Israel.

 

The French are still apparently holding out for conditions that Iran may never accept, such as putting all of their nuclear facilities under international control, ceasing construction of the plutonium plant at Arak and reduction of their existing uranium stockpiles. But France is still accepting the principle that Tehran can go on enriching uranium, albeit at low levels. Which means that Israel must still be pondering the very real possibility that it will be faced with a situation in which it will not be able to rely on the U.S. to act against Iran.

 

It is in that context that the story published today by Britain’s Sunday Times about Israel and Saudi Arabia preparing to cooperate on a strike against Iran must be understood. According to the paper, both countries rightly believe a Western deal with Iran would likely be a disaster that would expose them to a deadly threat. Accordingly, they are, if this report is to be believed, exploring the possibility of the Saudis offering the Israelis the use of their air space for strikes on Iran as well as providing rescue aircraft, tanker planes, and drones to facilitate a possible attack. Let’s state upfront that these details should be viewed with some skepticism.

 

There will be those who will file this story along with last year’s much-publicized rumor about Azerbaijan preparing to help Israel hit Iran. When that story was first floated, it was leaked by Obama administration sources that probably hoped to reduce any cooperation between the Azeris and Israel by exposing it. But the fact that the Saudis are almost as panicked by Washington’s desire for détente with Iran as the Israelis is not exactly a secret. Whether they have gone so far as to do some planning about how to help the Israelis hit their hated Iranian enemy may be debated. Certainly doing so would expose Riyadh to considerable criticism in the Muslim and Arab worlds. But even if the story is exaggerated or inaccurate, it says something about the current situation that an alliance of this sort between Jerusalem and a sworn enemy of Zionism is even thinkable.

 

The point here is that when Kerry assured the world that he was neither blind nor stupid, it’s obvious that the Israelis and Saudis are prepared to answer in the affirmative with respect to both adjectives. By rushing to a deal that would, even in its most stringent form, effectively guarantee Iran’s “right” to enrich uranium, the West is setting in motion a train of events that could very well lead to the Islamist regime eventually achieving its nuclear ambition. The Israelis and the Saudis both know Iran is, like North Korea, perfectly capable of cheating and evading international observers in such a manner as to use its considerable existing uranium stockpile to create a bomb. Moreover, they have also, like Iran, probably already come to the conclusion that the Obama administration has no intention of ever making good on any threat to use force against Iran.

 

Iran is probably still more interested in employing its traditional delaying tactics that give them more time to work on their nuclear project than in signing a deal, no matter how favorable it might be to their cause. But they’d be smart to snatch the kind of lopsided nuclear deal Kerry is trying to sell them. The Israelis and Saudis know this and have to consider the possibility that President Obama is about to leave them both on their own and that France won’t hold out indefinitely for better terms. So even if you don’t believe that the Mossad has already begun talks with Saudi officials, there’s no doubt both countries are clearly thinking about how they will survive a Western betrayal on Iran.

 

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U.S. Should Be Wary of Iran’s Goal to Dominate the Middle East: Joseph Lieberman & Vance Serchuk, Washington Post, Nov. 20, 2013 — As nuclear negotiators in Geneva renew their attempts to strike a deal with Iran, predictions of a diplomatic breakthrough are rife.

Egypt and Israel Spar Over Gaza as Sinai Crisis Escalates: Geoffrey Aronson, Al-Monitor, Nov. 20, 2013 —  Former Palestinian strongman Mohammed Dahlan was in Cairo recently where, according to a well-informed Palestinian source, he met with Egypt's military leader Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Beirut Attack Marks Militant Resurgence: Maria Abi-Habib, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 21, 2013 — As new details emerged about twin suicide bombings near the Iranian Embassy here, Lebanese officials described an outburst of violence that reveals the resurgence of al Qaeda-inspired groups in their country, a toxic byproduct of the Syrian war.

U.S. Officials Warn of Insurgents Streaming Into Syria: Greg Miller, Washington Post, Nov. 20, 2013 — The number of foreign fighters flowing into Syria is growing as the civil war stretches into its third year, raising concern that insurgents trained by Al-Qaeda-linked groups will spread their ideology and return to their native countries determined to mount attacks on Western targets, senior U.S. intelligence officials said Wednesday.

Tunisia Islamists Seek Jihad in Syria With One Eye on Home: Patrick Markey & Tarek Amara, Reuters, Nov. 18, 2013 — Aymen Saadi's brief call to jihad began with dreams of fighting for an Islamic state in Syria and ended with a botched suicide bombing attempt in a crowd of foreign tourists in Tunisia.

 

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