Month: February 2014

DIASPORA COMMUNITIES: CONTRASTING ATTITUDES TOWARDS IRAN’S & AZERBAIJAN’S JEWS; AN UNSTABLE FUTURE FOR BUCHAREST’S JEWISH THEATER; REMEMBERING ZIONISM IN JASSY

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



                                           

The Mysteries of Azerbaijan: A Shiite Nation Embraces its Jews: Rob Eshman, Jewish Journal, Dec. 18, 2013— Red Village rises up along the Qudiyal River like a Jewish Brigadoon.

Light and Shadows: The Story of Iranian Jews: Richard McBee, Jewish Press, Jan. 24, 2014 — This extensive exhibition of more than 100 objects originated at the Beit Hatfutsot, Tel Aviv and surveys more than 2,500 years of Jewish presence in Persia, known since the early 20th century as Iran.

Bucharest’s Jewish Theater Struggles to Cheat Death: Can’an Liphshiz, Times of Israel, Feb. 24, 2014— When secret police opened fire on protesters near her home, Maia Morgenstern headed for the Jewish State Theater.

Zionism in Jassy, Romania: The Importance of History: Milad Doroudian, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 22, 2014 — Zionism, a polemical issue, still causes fiery debate amid Israeli and international politics and is seen by some as a movement, culture and mentality that is no longer viable in the current Israel.

 

On Topic Links

 

Freud and the Marranos: How Yosef H. Yerushalmi Gave Voice to Jews Caught Between Worlds: David N. Myers, Tablet, Feb. 10, 2014

Syria’s Israeli Guardian Angel: Itay Hod, Daily Beast, Jan. 31, 2014

Bouena Sarfatty of Salonika: A Partisan-Poet Holocaust Survivor: Renée Levine Melammed, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 28, 2014
BDS and the Oscars: How Screenwriter Ben Hecht Defied an Anti-Israel Boycott: Rafael Medoff, Tablet, Feb. 26, 2014

 

 

THE MYSTERIES OF AZERBAIJAN:

A SHIITE NATION EMBRACES ITS JEWS                                       

Rob Eshman                                                                       

Jewish Journal, Dec. 18, 2013

 

Red Village rises up along the Qudiyal River like a Jewish Brigadoon. To get there, you fly 13 hours from Los Angeles to Istanbul, then catch a three-hour flight to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan — a former Soviet country of some 9 million people on the Caspian Sea. From Baku, you take a bus past churning oil derricks and miles of empty desert, up into the Caucasus, through tiny villages surrounded by apple orchards. After two hours, you arrive in Quba, the capital of Azerbaijan’s northeast region. About a mile past an attractive central mosque, a simple steel bridge spans a wide, mostly dry riverbed and leads directly into Red Village.

 

One of the first things you see is a large brick building atop which sits — improbably, impossibly — a Jewish star. About 4,000 people live in Red Village, every one of them Jewish. That makes Red Village the largest all-Jewish settlement outside the State of Israel. This entirely Jewish town exists in an almost entirely Muslim country — ancient, placid, prosperous. It is also completely unknown to the majority of the world’s Jews. I had to see Red Village to believe it. I had to figure out: What’s the deal with Azerbaijan?

 

Earlier this month, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev convened 750 journalists, scholars, activists and scientists from around the world to participate in the annual Baku International Humanitarian Forum. The invitation offered a chance to see for myself a country that, from what I’d heard over the years, has never quite fit the standard American perception of Muslim = Fanatic and Shiite = Really Fanatic. After all, Iran, also a Shiite nation, lies just across Azerbaijan’s southern border. But while Iran is the Jewish state’s mortal enemy, Azerbaijan is Israel’s largest supplier of oil  and a major purchaser of Israeli defense technology. The Shiites of Iran would treat me, an American Jew with a passport full of Israeli stamps, as an enemy. In Azerbaijan, I was an honored guest…  

 

For most of the 19th and early 20th centuries, Azerbaijan was under the rule of the Russian empire, which exploited its resources. When the tsar fell in 1918, Azerbaijan quickly formed a secular republic, the first Muslim majority country in the world to do so. Its parliament immediately granted women the right to vote — a year before the United States did. But the flowering of democracy, commerce and art was brief. The Bolsheviks arrived just 22 months after Azerbaijan declared independence, attacked what they called liberal and decadent Baku Muslims, crushing a rebellion and absorbing Azerbaijan into the USSR. When Hitler invaded Russia, his brass ring was Baku’s oil, which provided more than 80 percent of the fuel for the Soviet war effort. In 1942, Hitler’s general staff gave him a cake in the shape of the Caucasus. Hitler ate the slice with “Baku” written on it. “Unless we get Baku oil,” Hitler said, “the war is lost.” With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Baku finally won its independence in 1991. Its first president, Heydar Aliyev, who died in 2003, and his son and successor, Ilham Aliyev, have managed to negotiate lucrative long-term oil and gas contracts that, for the first time, keep Azerbaijan’s money at home and have tilted the former Soviet satellite westward. Oil money has enabled a modern, busy city with cutting-edge architecture and luxury stores to grow up around the well-preserved walls and narrow cobblestone streets of the Old City. Baku is a cleaner Tel Aviv surrounding a smaller-walled Jerusalem.

 

What’s even more surprising about Baku is its people. The majority are traditional but secular. Few women wear headscarves — the look is skirts and heels, more Westwood Boulevard than Riyadh. But Azerbaijan’s tolerance is not a Western import. It’s homegrown, even ancient. “The multinational, multiconfessional society is one of our assets,” President Aliyev said in the conference’s keynote address. “All nationalities see their religion respected. … This contributes to the building of a civil society.” For the Jews, that is remarkably true. “There has never been anti-Semitism in Azerbaijan,” Arye Gut, the Azeri-born founder of the international association Israel-Azerbaijan (AZIZ), told me. Like many Azeris who have immigrated to Israel, he maintains strong personal and business ties to his home country.

 

In a meeting at his office, Ambassador Elshad Iskandarov, chairman of the State Committee for Work With Religious Organizations, pointed out with some understatement that Azerbaijan has resisted the increasing anti-Semitism in the Muslim world. Iskandarov, an urbane graduate of Columbia University, theorized that Azerbaijan’s location on the Silk Road international trade route long ago encouraged its people to accept all kinds of cultures. Or, as a Cambridge-educated Azeri told me later in my week there, “Our philosophy is, ‘Why fight when you can trade?’” Like many Azeri officials I met, Iskandarov could rattle off the names of famous Azerbaijani Jews — who are pretty much the most famous Azerbaijanis, period — among them pianist Bella Davidovich, Nobel Prize physicist Lev Landau, Israeli singers Sarit Hadad and Yaffa Yarkoni, pioneering physician Gavril Ilizarov and chess master Garry Kasparov, who is half Armenian. There is also writer Lev Nussimbaum, aka Essad Bey and Kurban Said, author of the most famous Azeri novel, “Ali and Nino.”…

 

Iskandarov wondered aloud whether the nation didn’t share a lineage with the eighth-century Khazars who converted en masse to Judaism. Perhaps, the ambassador posited, Azerbaijani Shiites have Jewish blood. “When we are talking about Jews,” he said, “this is tolerance of our own past.” I asked how the government keeps extremist Islamic ideologies from taking root in Azerbaijan. Iskandarov pointed to his bookshelf, where there were thick tomes of sermons prepared by government-appointed imams and distributed to mosques — local imams were encouraged not to veer from these more liberal teachings. There is freedom of religion — but not too much. Many countries, including Iran, say they love the Jews — it’s just Israel they can’t stand. Azerbaijan is different. It has strategic defense partnerships with Israel, and the two countries conduct $5.5 billion in trade annually. Last year, Iran protested and even threatened “consequences” after the Azerbaijan foreign minister announced an official visit to Israel. President Aliyev refused to back down.

“I know who my friends are,” Aliyev said, “and who my enemies are.”

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

Contents
                                        

LIGHT AND SHADOWS: THE STORY OF IRANIAN JEWS             

Richard McBee         

Jewish Press, Jan. 24, 2014

 

This extensive exhibition of more than 100 objects originated at the Beit Hatfutsot, Tel Aviv and surveys more than 2,500 years of Jewish presence in Persia, known since the early 20th century as Iran. While this is primarily an intriguing historical exhibition chronicling the heroic as well as disastrous history of Jews in the Shiite Islamic empire, it also features significant works of Jewish art. The most exciting artifact is in the first section: the Cyrus Cylinder, dated from 530 BCE. This reproduction of the original found in The British Museum is a cuneiform inscription by Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid Empire and conqueror of most of the civilized states of the ancient Near East. Seen by some as the “oldest known declaration of ‘human rights,’” it specifically permits Babylonian captives to return to their homelands and religious practices. This historical proof of the Jewish return from the Babylonian exile is overtly praised in Ezra 1:1 -11 and reflected in Isaiah’s approbation of Cyrus; “So said the Lord to His anointed one, to Cyrus, whose right hand I held, to flatten nations before him…” (45: 1-7). It is here that Jewish history leaps alive in the artifacts of an ancient civilization.

 

Jewish life in Persia came with many trials and tribulations, but the establishment of a Shiite Muslim regime from the early 16th century well into the 19th century created an institutionalization of the oppression of the Jewish minority. According to Shiite belief, Jews are ritually impure and therefore the slightest physical contact is anathema. Persian Jews were discriminated against and forced to live in isolated Jewish neighborhoods called the Mahale. Forced conversion, mismatched and distinctive clothing, limited profession opportunity along with occasional violence kept the Jews subservient, even while paradoxically there was a traditional Jewish elite of doctors and healers essential to Persian society.

 

The intolerant nature of Persian society resulted in periodic attacks, including the pogrom in the city of Mashhad on March 26, 1839 resulting in the death of 30 Jews and the forced conversion of close to 2,000, many of whom continued to secretly observe Jewish practices. Tens of thousands of their descendants are in Israel and New York to this day and many artifacts of their dual existence that were necessary for daily life are seen here including ketubot that mimic Muslim marriage contracts, weekly Torah readings that imitate Koran readings, tiny tefillin boxes for secretive use and similar ruses. Nonetheless, Jews were able to operate on the fringes of Persian society, even maintaining a surprising role in preserving secular poetry and musical traditions that Shiite tradition suppressed. Utilizing many videos the exhibition documents the notable contributions that Jews made to Persian society whenever they were allowed to exercise their natural creativity.

 

Not surprisingly in the literate and affluent Persian society all types of illuminated manuscripts flourished, including Jewish literature. Many of the manuscripts selected here, including those only represented in digital format, are amalgams of traditional Jewish texts, such as the Book of Esther, and that of Persian kings and history. Additionally poetic paraphrases of biblical stories based on Jewish, Islamic and Persian sources, such as Shahin-Torah Nama by Mawlana Shahin (1877) are seen here illuminated. Unfortunately, these beautifully complex works that blend multiple cultural influences and visual traditions derived from the extremely rich illuminated Persian manuscript tradition are not adequately explained or shown to their best advantage. The manuscript Prayer Book by “the Young Yosef Avraham Shalom Abd al-Raziq from Yazd, Iran (1860)” is an exception; its well-lit and open presentation allows for a full appreciation of its beauty, skill and sensitivity…

 

Equally surprising is the introduction of the entire exhibition with a large Kashan wall carpet from the Ben Ephraim Family Collection in Tel Aviv. This beautifully complex image presents an eschatological program starting with Moses and Aaron and the Mishkan on the bottom and proceeding up to the Temple Mount and the Sanctuary above, depicted in perspective as a kind of futuristic grand synagogue. Along the borders are depictions of Noah’s Ark and Sacrifice, Binding of Isaac, Sale of Joseph and Finding Moses in the Reeds. Further research reveals that the prototype of this carpet “was presented by the Shah of Iran, Nasser-e-Din (1848-1898) to his Jewish doctor, Hakim Nour Mahmood, in honor of Mahmood’s survival from an assassination plot by his envious colleagues” (Jewish Carpets by Anton Felton, 1997; pg 156). And just as it is especially perplexing that none of this information is available in the exhibition, neither is there an exploration of the extensive history and iconography of Persian Jewish carpets. Yet, in spite of these omissions, Light and Shadows at YUM still serves as a significant introduction to the history and art of Persian Jews, and, by their example, a courageous model for Jewish culture wherever it is found in our vast and sometimes troubled Diasporas.

                                                                                                 

Contents
                                  

BUCHAREST’S JEWISH THEATER STRUGGLES TO CHEAT DEATH  

Can’an Liphshiz                                                             

Times of Israel, Feb. 24, 2014

 

When secret police opened fire on protesters near her home, Maia Morgenstern headed for the Jewish State Theater. It was 1989 and Morgenstern, then 27, and a few of her friends took refuge in the theater as protesters outside clashed with forces loyal to Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Hundreds died in two weeks of chaos that culminated with Ceausescu’s execution and the end of decades of communist tyranny. For Morgenstern and her friends, the theater was a natural destination amid the chaos. Between the bunker-like walls of its 19th-century building, Romanian Jews have historically found a rare space in which they could come together as a community even during their country’s bloodiest periods. “It was my second home,” said Morgenstern, who became the institution’s manager in 2012. “We went there because it offered us a sense of safety.”

 

Throughout Romania’s tumultuous 20th-century history, the Jewish State Theater remained open and Jewish, providing the capital’s Jewish community an island of sanity and a sense of continuity through difficult times.

More recently, the theater has become a cultural bridge, attracting large non-Jewish crowds to its Yiddish-language performances, an unlikely development made possible by simultaneous translation technologies and Morgenstern’s star status. As an actress, Morgenstern has appeared in dozens of Romanian films and television shows and, in 2004, came to the attention of English-speaking audiences when she portrayed Mary in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.”

 

But the institution’s future was plunged into uncertainty last month after a snowstorm destroyed parts of its dilapidated roof and interrupted performances for the first time in decades. The theater is now mounting a campaign to repair the structure and ensure the institution’s survival. Earlier this month, a cast of 20 performed the comedy “Mazl Tov and Justice for All” on the street in front of the theater to raise awareness about its plight. “This show is meant to be a warning to public opinion but also for the authorities,” said a statement announcing the show. “Do not let a theater with a unique tradition and identity disappear from Europe’s cultural landscape because of carelessness.”

 

The Bucharest city council has promised to repair the theater. Legally, it is required to do so, as the building is registered as a national monument. But Morgenstern is skeptical. She says the council had made repeated promises to upgrade the building before the accident, but nothing happened. Complicating matters is that the building was neglected for so long that merely repairing the roof won’t suffice. Morgenstern points to deep cracks that crisscross the ceiling, pillars and beams. The cost of fixing it all is estimated at several million dollars. “The building is so rundown that a renovation won’t do,” Morgenstern said. “It needs restoration, not renovation.” On Jan. 25, about 80 square yards of the theater’s roof caved in under snow, producing a cascade of moisture that destroyed the building’s old wood floor. The theater suspended shows, which had been running every other day.

 

Before the roof collapse, the theater had a mostly non-Jewish cast who performed 70 percent of their shows in Yiddish before a predominantly non-Jewish crowd. Attendance jumped over the past year from 50 audience members a week to roughly 500. Staff say this was made possible by Morgenstern’s outreach to non-Jews and her celebrity status. Romanian leaders had long visited the theater on Jewish holidays as a gesture of closeness to the Jewish community. But Morgenstern wanted ordinary Romanians to come. She enlisted support from friends in the entertainment industry and launched a public relations campaign that helped raise the theater’s profile among non-Jewish patrons. Morgenstern also drew non-Jewish acting students to the theater, helping them hone their craft at a private acting academy. Some students began performing at the theater and are now part of the rescue campaign, giving interviews to local and international media. “I think it would be a tragedy for all Romanians if this place is lost,” said Irina Varius, an 18-year-old, non-Jewish acting student who rehearses at the theater every day.

 

During the Holocaust, the theater’s importance grew for Bucharest’s Jews because it was the only Jewish cultural institution left standing. It was also the only venue open to dozens of Jewish actors, among them some of the greatest names in Romanian theater. Artists like playwright Moni Ghelerter and director Alexanderu Finti had been barred from working elsewhere because of racist laws passed under Romanian leader Ion Antonescu. About half a million Romanian Jews perished in the Holocaust, but Bucharest’s 100,000 Jews were never deported or harmed. “Throughout the Holocaust era, Jewish theater professionals continued to work at the Jewish theater, turning the theater into a pillar of civil society for Jews,” according to Liviu Rotman, a Jewish historian at the National University for Political Science…

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

 

Contents
                                  

ZIONISM IN JASSY, ROMANIA: THE IMPORTANCE OF HISTORY       

Milad Doroudian                         

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 22, 2014

 

Zionism, a polemical issue, still causes fiery debate amid Israeli and international politics and is seen by some as a movement, culture and mentality that is no longer viable in the current Israel. Whatever the case may be, how can one understand the viability of an ideology, without first understanding the history of its design? Jassy might only be a small piece amid the long and complex battle of Zionism for the Jewish people in the 19th and 20th centuries, but it can help to show how to facilitate the organization of a people surrounded by adversity. In better words the formation of a strong collective – something that not only helped to make Israel a reality, but continues to keep it one today.

Once a great center of Jewish culture, Jassy seems to have disappeared from the view of Jewish historians, let alone the general public. In fact, few know that it was the place where the famous Naphtali Imber wrote “Hatikvah,” the poem which gave Israel its national anthem. Or the fact that it was once the home of the first Yiddish theater of Eastern Europe, founded by Abraham Goldfaden. The great bulk of Jassy’s Jews, which at one point amalgamated to 45,000, could trace their roots to Poland, where thousands of Jews facing persecution at the hands of the Cossacks migrated southward across into Romania. Although the majority of the population consisted of Ashkenazi descendants, there were very small remnants of Shepherdim that escaped Spain in the 15th century.

The history of Jassy’s Jews is as comprehensive and as complex as most communities that once inhabited Eastern Europe. Yet Romania, called by Hannah Arendt the most anti-semitic country prior to the rise of National Socialism in Germany, was not very welcoming to its Jewish populations. In fact, Jassy’s Jews, although they got along with the national and local government, were in constant turmoil with the severely xenophobic Moldavian populations. It was of no surprise that even before Zionist organization became a viable reality in Europe, and as some sources claim even before Hibbat Zion, Jassy’s Jews began organizing groups based on proto-Zionist ideas. The first among these was Dorshei Zion, which sought after the creation of literary framework by building libraries.

 

The reformation of Jewish and Hebrew culture became the most important goal, as was the trend with most Zionist-oriented groups in the 19th century. Perhaps the best example of this being the foundation of the Ohalei Shem foundation in 1878, that had as its main goal to educate the Jewish masses in Hebrew and Jewish studies. This cultural rebirth played an important role in creating a mentality of secularization among Jassy’s Jewish population, amid religious tradition and convention. Something which in itself would become the vanguard goal of Herzlian Zionist groups, which sought at the creation not just of a Jewish state, but a Jewish culture devoid of religion.

 

The most important Zionist organization to have ever existed in Jassy was Yishuv Erez Israel, founded by Lippe Karpel in 1880 as a response to the incessant anti-Semitism that Romanian Jews faced across the nation. The group helped facilitate the transport of numerous Jews from Romania to Palestine between 1882 to 1890. Although Karpel was opposed to the creation of a Jewish state he still encouraged the formation of Jewish culture in Palestine in order to escape persecution in Europe. Karpel famously gave the opening speech at The First Zionist Congress in 1897 advocating for the purchase of land in Palestine, but also representing Romanian and Jassy Jewry. Immediately after the congress the Jewish community of Jassy began to be far more organized in the creation of Zionist organizations. About nine of them had formed, until they all conjoined into one in 1919 under the name of the Romanian Zionist Movement. The first meeting took place in 1920 in Jassy. In the period up until 1941, when the notorious Jassy pogrom took place resulting in the death of 14,000 Jews, the movement helped to organize the community, build schools. libraries and educate the Jewish populace. Its greatest accomplishment was aiding thousands of Jews to achieve aliyah before they could be murdered. Unfortunately a great many of Jassy’s Jews did not leave for Eretz Israel, as was the case of the rest of European Jewry.

You might be asking yourself what the reason for knowing all of this might be. Well in short, by understanding small insular pockets in the greater narrative of European Jewish history, such as Jassy, we can better form an understanding of the way Israel came to be in 1948, and more importantly an understanding of the necessity of moderated Zionism as a means to facilitate a cultural and national Jewish identity. Zionism is not nationalism, it is cultural and physical self-preservation. Jassy’s Jews used Zionism to ensure their survival as a community, and as a people.

                                   

CIJR wishes all its friends and supporters Shabbat Shalom!

                                                                          

Freud and the Marranos: How Yosef H. Yerushalmi Gave Voice to Jews Caught Between Worlds: David N. Myers, Tablet, Feb. 10, 2014 —To those who studied with Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, the great Jewish historian, the encounter was unforgettable.

Syria’s Israeli Guardian Angel: Itay Hod, Daily Beast, Jan. 31, 2014 —If there’s an afterlife, Anat (not her real name) has earned herself a ticket to heaven’s VIP section. 

Bouena Sarfatty of Salonika: A Partisan-Poet Holocaust Survivor: Renée Levine Melammed, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 28, 2014 —While investigating an eminent Sephardi family named de Botton from the Ottoman Empire in 1989, I wrote to all the Sephardi communities abroad in search of any of their descendants.
BDS and the Oscars: How Screenwriter Ben Hecht Defied an Anti-Israel Boycott: Rafael Medoff, Tablet, Feb. 26, 2014 —Hollywood screenwriter Ben Hecht said he “beamed with pride” when he heard the news on that autumn afternoon in 1948: The British had declared a boycott against him.

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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

Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

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

 

 

Contents:  Weekly Quotes |  Short Takes On Topic Links

 

 


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

 

On Topic Links

 

Ukraine’s Jews Ponder Their Future: Sam Sokol, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 24, 2014

After Yanukovych, Maidan’s Next Fight Will Be To Preserve a Ukraine Safe for Minorities: Amelia Glaser, Tablet, Feb. 25, 2014

Obama Calls Retreat: William Kristol, Weekly Standard, March 2014

If BDS Wins, the Jews are Next: Eylon Aslan-Levy, Times of Israel, Feb. 24, 2014

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

"This is a time for reality."—U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, unveiling plans to shrink the US Army to its smallest size since before the U.S. entered the Second World War. The Pentagon chief proposed trimming the active-duty Army to 440,000-450,000 personnel, down from 520,000 currently. Cold War-era Air Force fleets – the U-2 spy plane and the A-10 attack jet – will also be retired. Hagel added "this is a budget that recognizes the reality of the magnitude of our fiscal challenges…since we are no longer sizing the force for prolonged stability operations, an Army of this size is larger than required to meet the demands of our defence strategy." The proposed Army staffing levels would be the lowest since 1940, when the US employed 267,767 active-duty soldiers. The number was 482,000 in 2000, a year before the attacks of 11 September 2001. After those attacks, the force peaked at 566,000 in 2010. (BBC, Feb. 24, 2014)

 

 “We are in constant contact with the leadership of the Ukrainian Jewish community and are following the events closely. The Jewish Agency’s assistance aims to increase security at Jewish communal institutions in Ukraine.”—Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, announcing that his organization will extend immediate emergency assistance to the Jewish community of Ukraine and will help secure Jewish institutions. The Ukrainian community, one of the largest Jewish communities in the Diaspora, has some 200,000 members. Unrest in Ukraine has led to a rise of antisemitism. Following several attacks on Jews in Kiev, one of the rabbis of the city, Moshe Reuven Asman, told Ma’ariv that he recommended that the Jews of Kiev leave the city and, if possible, the country. Eduard Dolinsky, executive director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, has asked Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman for help providing security to members of the community in Ukraine. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 23, 2014)

 

“Amazing in Ukraine. Yanukovich was running, the people were fighting for freedom, and Obama was chatting with Putin.”—Garry Kasporav, former World Chess Champion and chairman of the Human Rights Foundation, tweeted on Saturday. Kasporav, who was born in the former Soviet Union, has criticised President Obama on foreign policy issues. Slamming Obama for “negotiating” with Russia during the Ukraine crisis, Kasporav questioned Obama's relationship with President Vladimir Putin. “I've said it before, but if Barack Obama had been president instead of Ronald Reagan, I'd still be a citizen of the Soviet Union,” added Kasporav. (Independent, Feb. 26, 2014)

 

 “I know that there are those in Europe who have been calling on a boycott for Israel so I want to be very clear: there can be criticism of Israel. That's legitimate. But it's hard not to notice the fact that those who call for boycotting Israel are not calling for the boycott of any other country. They boycott only Israel…these boycotts push back peace. They only serve to strengthen Palestinian intransigence. They also don't help the Palestinian economy…there are 30,000 Palestinian workers who work in the settlements and the Jewish communities and their economy would be hard hit.”—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is in Israel this week. (Prime Minister’s Office, Feb. 25, 2014)

 

“If the BDS movement achieves its goal of normalising a blanket boycott of Israel, its next target will be the Jews. That, if nothing else, is why Jews in the Diaspora must get a grip and battle the demonisation of Israel before it endangers their own wellbeing.”—Eylon Aslan-Levy, member of the Board of Deputies for the UK Union of Jewish Students. (Times of Israel, Feb. 24, 2014)

 

"The new aggression is a blatant assault on Lebanon and its sovereignty and its territory…the Resistance (Hezbollah) will choose the time and place and the proper way to respond to it."— Hezbollah spokesperson, acknowledging for the first time that it had been targeted by Israeli air strikes on Monday night. The Shi'ite Islamist organization had previously denied reports that targets connected to it were hit by IAF jets. Prime Minister Netanyahu has failed to confirm or deny reports that Israel struck targets on the Syria-Lebanon border late Monday night. Netanyahu has said repeatedly that Israel would not allow the Syrian regime to transfer chemical weapons or "game-changing" weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 26, 2014)

 

“Would you hand over half of Britain to someone who keeps on killing you?”—Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, in an interview on BBC’s Hard Talk this week. “For 20 years we tried this direction, in [the international peace agreements of] 1993, in ’95, 2000… and you know what they did? They killed 1,000 Israelis,”  Bennett said. “It’s not working. It’s time to try a different approach…peace between the people. Businesses in Judea and Samaria of Israelis and Palestinians together. That’s the real bridge to peace, build it bottom-up, because clearly the diplomats are failing.” (Algemeiner, Feb. 25, 2014)

 

“If an ordinary person does not pay his electricity bill, we disconnect him within a week. Here, despite the huge debt to the company, we are forced to continuing supplying electricity to the Palestinian Authority. Our owners are the government, and it has to make a decision on this matter. This debt must be collected.” —Israel Electric Corp (IEC) chairman Ron-Tal told the Knesset Finance Committee Tuesday. The Palestinian Authority debt to the IEC stands at $400 million and, Ron-Tal added, “if we were a private company, we would have stopped supplying electricity to the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip long ago.” In the past, when the IEC complained they were not receiving electricity payments from the PA, the Israeli government would stop sending to Ramallah monthly payments of taxes on goods from Israel. The usual tactic has been discarded since Kerry came to town. Most of the debt is owed by the Jerusalem District Electricity Company, a private Arab distributor of electricity that supplies Arab parts of Jerusalem, The PA wants these parts of Jerusalem  as part of the new country Kerry is trying to help them create. (Jewish Press, Feb. 25, 2014)

“…For a civilian nuclear program there is no need for centrifuges and no need for a heavy-water reactor.”—Statement released Thursday by the Israeli government, arguing that the interim agreement reached by Iran and six world powers had not brought about “any change in Iran’s nuclear program.” (New York Times, Feb. 20, 2014)

 

"Tunisia is not less important than other countries in Europe such as Greece or Ukraine, so it's in the interest of everybody that Tunisia succeeds in this transition…we must ensure that Tunisia is a success story because if it doesn't then no other Arab country will succeed."—Tunisian Foreign Minister Mongi Hamdi, during a visit to Paris to boost economic ties and seek help to bolster security to fight Islamist militants. Hamdi added that his country had done "exemplary" work to move towards elections by the end of the year, but more support was needed. After a crisis last year brought on by the killing of two opposition leaders, Tunisian factions finally adopted a new constitution in January and the ruling Islamists stepped aside for a caretaker administration to govern until the elections. (Reuters, Feb. 26, 2014)

 

“The police could not have monitored New Jersey for Muslim terrorist activities without monitoring the Muslim community itself. While this surveillance program may have had adverse effects upon the Muslim community after the Associated Press published its articles; the motive for the program was not solely to discriminate against Muslims, but rather to find Muslim terrorists hiding among ordinary, law-abiding Muslims.”Federal judge William J. Martini, dismissing a lawsuit against the New York Police Department brought by Muslim groups and individuals after the Associated Press exposed elements of the police department's anti-terror program in 2011. (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 21, 2014)

 

“…[Jonathan Pollard’s] pardon will certainly carry a high strategic cost (just as did the release of Gilad Shalit). I expect an exorbitant price in the currency of Israeli concessions toward the Palestinians or even toward the Islamic Republic of Iran. Cool U.S.-Israel relations have their benefit when Obama, Kerry, Hagel, Brennan, and Rice are running the foreign policy show. Accordingly, and with a heavy heart, I call on the free-Pollard advocates to cease their efforts until a president with an understanding of American interests comes to office.”—Daniel Pipes, President of the Middle East Forum and a CIJR Academic Fellow. (Jewish Press, Feb. 25, 2014)

SHORT TAKES

 

JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER, SYNAGOGUE FIREBOMBED IN UKRAINE (Kiev) — A Jewish community center and synagogue were firebombed in Ukraine late Monday, according to the Chabad Lubavitch organization. Fears that the tumult in Ukraine would place the Jewish community in harm’s way appeared to be realized when Chabad, the religious outreach program which has managed to create a global presence, said that Molotov cocktails were hurled at a newly built facility in the southeastern Ukraine town of Zaporozhye. Jewish religious officials have expressed concern that law enforcement’s preoccupation with the political turmoil and rioting would leave Jewish institutions exposed to violent forms of anti-Semitism. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 25, 2014)

 

IRAN AND 6 POWERS AGREE ON TERMS FOR NUCLEAR TALKS (Vienna)—Iran and six world powers have agreed on a timetable and framework for negotiating a comprehensive agreement to end the confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program, the European Union’s foreign policy chief and Iran’s foreign minister said Thursday. While details were vague they said that groups of experts would meet early in March and that the full delegations would meet again on March 17, with the expectation that they would meet monthly. (New York Times, Feb. 20, 2014) 

 

IRANIAN OIL EXPORTS RISE MARKEDLY SINCE INTERIM DEAL: REPORT (Washington) — Iran appears to have sharply increased its oil exports over the past few months, in what may be an early sign that oil sanctions have eased significantly since Tehran signed an interim deal to freeze its nuclear program. China’s average monthly imports of Iranian oil during the past three months were 29 percent above the monthly average for the previous six months, while Indian imports were 53 percent higher. “The numbers should be a red flag for the administration,” said Nat Kern, who heads Foreign Reports, a Washington-based energy consulting firm. “What is the U.S. going to do at the end of May if Iran has punched such a deep hole through the core sanctions on oil? The horse would be out of the barn.” (Washington Post, Feb. 24, 2014)

 

OBAMA WARNS OF REDUCED US PRESENCE IN AFGHANISTAN (Kabul) —  America is preparing for the possible total withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan at the end of this year, President Barack Obama warned his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, yesterday as the two leaders wrangled over security plans. The warning, delivered in a phone call between the two presidents, raises the stakes in the negotiation between Kabul and Washington over the size of the American military presence in the country after Dec 31. Mr Karzai, who will step down as president after elections in April, is refusing to sign a formal agreement that would allow 10,000 US troops to remain in Afghanistan for counter-terrorism and training purposes. (Telegraph, Feb. 25, 2014)

 

TALIBAN HIT ARMY AHEAD OF AFGHAN VOTE (Kabul) — A Taliban attack on an army outpost killed at least 21 Afghan soldiers Sunday morning in eastern Kunar province following a weekend of backroom political intrigue in the capital. Two leading presidential candidates held talks about uniting their campaigns, which would give them a significant edge in the contest to succeed President Karzai, who must step down this year. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on an outpost near the village of Shirghaz in the Ghaziabad district of Kunar, a mountainous region near the Pakistan border. (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 24, 2014)

 

PAKISTAN BOMBS MILITANT HIDEOUTS IN TRIBAL AREAS (Lahore) — Pakistani fighter jets have launched air strikes on suspected militant hideouts in the north-west, killing at least 15 people, local officials say. Raids focused on Mir Ali town and surrounding areas of North Waziristan, but military sources said strikes were also carried out in the Khyber area. Peace talks between Pakistani government negotiators and Taliban militants broke down earlier this week. On Sunday a Taliban-linked group said they killed 23 paramilitary soldiers. (BBC, Feb. 20, 2014)

 

AL QAEDA EMISSARY IN SYRIA KILLED BY RIVAL ISLAMIST REBELS (Damascus)—Al Qaeda's top emissary in Syria was killed by rival Islamist rebels in a suicide bombing, deepening the violent power struggle between extremist groups that has undermined the battle to unseat President Bashar al-Assad. The attack on Sunday in the northern city of Aleppo killed Abu Khalid al Suri, one of the founders of the Islamist rebel group Ahrar al Sham. His group said he had been asked by al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri to help settle differences between the two main al Qaeda offshoots in Syria. (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 23, 2014)

 

SYRIANS SEEK NEW DELAY IN EXPORT OF CHEMICAL ARMS (Damascus)—The Syrian government has sought a new delay, until mid-May, for the export of its chemical weapons arsenal and is balking at a deadline looming in three weeks to destroy the 12 facilities that once produced the munitions, Western diplomats said Friday. The announcement is a new indication that Syria’s pledge to eradicate the banned arsenal — under a timetable already weeks behind schedule — is fraying. Threats by the Obama administration of military intervention over Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile were  averted with an American-Russian deal under which the Syrian government joined the global treaty banning the weapons. (New York Times, Feb. 21, 2014)

 

MILITANTS SHOOT DOWN IRAQI HELICOPTER AND OCCUPY NORTHERN TOWN (Baghdad)—Militants shot down a helicopter on Saturday and briefly occupied a town, in an escalating turf war with Iraq's government that has killed at least 25 people in two days, police said. All four crew members were killed when their helicopter was downed during a reconnaissance flight over the town of Karma in Iraq's western province of Anbar, where the army is engaged in a standoff with anti-government fighters. Sunni Islamist insurgents have been gaining ground in Iraq over the past year and in recent weeks overran several towns. (Reuters, Feb. 22, 2014)

 

AL-SHABAAB MILITANTS ATTACK SOMALI PRESIDENTIAL PALACE (Mogadishu)—Islamist Militants carried out a deadly attack on Somalia's presidential palace Friday. A U.N. representative, in a post on Twitter, said that President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was unharmed. Terror network Al-Shabaab, al Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the attack. Somalia's national security minister, Adbikarin Hussein Guled, said at least 12 people, seven of them Al-Shabaab attackers, were killed in the attack. Al-Shabaab, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, hopes to turn Somalia into a fundamentalist Islamic state by force and has launched attacks in other countries, such as Kenya and Uganda, that have killed dozens. (CNN, Feb. 21, 2014)

 

CHRISTIAN MILITIAMEN KILL 70 MUSLIMS IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (Guen)—Christian militiamen killed at least 70 people in the remote southwest of C.A.R., at one point ordering a group of Muslims to lie on the ground and shooting them one by one, witnesses said Monday. The militiamen, known as the anti-Balaka, slaughtered the Muslims in the village of Guen earlier this month, said Rev. Rigobert Dolongo, a Catholic priest who helped bury the bodies. At least 27 people were killed on the first day of the attack, while 43 others were slain on the second day, he said. Human rights groups have documented hundreds of deaths since early January, when the Muslim rebel government crumbled and Christian fighters sought to avenge the regime’s abuses. (Toronto Star, Feb. 24, 2014)

 

NIGERIA SCHOOL RAID IN YOBE STATE LEAVES 29 DEAD (Lagos)—At least 29 students have been killed after suspected Boko Haram militants attacked a boarding school in north-east Nigeria. All the victims were teenage boys and 11 others were seriously injured. Most of the school was burned to the ground. Islamist militants have attacked dozens of schools in north-east Nigeria. Last September, 40 students were killed at an agricultural college during another night-time raid. Teachers at the school in Buni Yadi said the gunmen gathered the female students together before telling them to go away and get married and to abandon their education. The name Boko Haram means Western education is sin. The group says it aims is to replace Nigeria's political leadership and establish a new state under strict Islamic law. (BBC, Feb. 25, 2014)

 

FATWA: MUSLIMS CAN'T TRAVEL TO MARS (Abu Dhabi)—Muslim clerics have issued a religious ruling (“fatwa”) forbidding any Muslim from traveling to Mars. The ruling, published in the UAE's Khaleej Times, says that space travel in general, and to Mars specifically, is too dangerous. “Such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam,” the clerics wrote. By taking such a dangerous trip astronauts were taking unacceptable risks, the ruling says; if they ended up dead, they would suffer the same punishment in the Hereafter meted out to those who commit suicide – namely, an eternity in Hell. (Arutz Sheva, Feb. 20, 2014)

 

U.S. MUSEUM TO EXHIBIT BERTRAND RUSSELL'S 'BE NICE TO HITLER' LETTER (Los Angeles)—The Museum of Tolerance has acquired a 1937 letter written by Bertrand Russell in which the Nobel Prize-winning philosopher says if the Nazi army invades his native England the British should invite Adolf Hitler to dinner rather than fight. The museum, part of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, announced Wednesday that it paid $4,000 for the letter at a London auction last month. Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Wiesenthal Center's founder, says Bertrand's letter will be placed in the museum alongside one that Hitler wrote in 1919 outlining the anti-Semitic views that would lead to the Holocaust and killing of 6 million Jews. (Ha’aretz, Feb. 20, 2014)

 

THE JEWISH DEMOGRAPHIC BOMB: JUDEA AND SAMARIA UP 4.3% IN 2013 (Jerusalem) —Work on analyzing the figures of the 2013 population census is being concluded, and once again the Jewish Settler communities are showing a resounding increase. Based on these figures, 2013 has seen a 4.3 percent population growth in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan valley. As of last December (which means the real figures for today are even higher), the Jewish settler population in Judea and Samaria is about 375,000, with an addition of some 15,400 new residents. The Judea and Samaria annual growth rate is more than twice the average in Israel west of the 1949 armistice line—aka the green line—which is 1.9. (Jewish Press, Feb. 25, 2014)

PM SENDS CONDOLENCES TO FAMILY OF 110-YEAR-OLD HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR (London)—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday sent a letter of condolence to Ariel, the grandson of Alice Herz-Sommer, the world's oldest-known Holocaust survivor. Herz-Sommer passed away Sunday. "Your grandmother was born at the beginning of the 20th century to a well-known Jewish family. Dear Ariel, I am with you at this difficult time. I have no doubt that as the son of a Jewish, Zionist family you will keep her memory alive and pass her legacy on to the next generation of your family," Netanyahu concluded. Herz-Sommer, a pianist and music teacher, was born in Prague on Nov. 26, 1903 and interned in the Czech concentration camp Theresienstadt from 1943 to 1945. She is the subject of a documentary film, "The Lady in Number 6: How Music Saved my Life," which has been nominated for an Oscar. (Israel Hayom, Feb. 25, 2014)

 

On Topic Links

 

Ukraine’s Jews Ponder Their Future: Sam Sokol, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 24, 2014—Despite the lack of a defined threat against them, representatives of Ukrainian Jewry indicated that they feel a general sense of unease as the pro – tests that shook Kiev for the last three months wind down.

After Yanukovych, Maidan’s Next Fight Will Be To Preserve a Ukraine Safe for Minorities: Amelia Glaser, Tablet, Feb. 25, 2014—Kiev’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti—Independence Square—is a 20-minute walk from where I lived a decade ago.

Obama Calls Retreat: William Kristol, Weekly Standard, March 2014—Kiev is ablaze. Syria is a killing field. The Iranian mullahs aren’t giving up their nuclear weapons capability, and other regimes in the Middle East are preparing to acquire their own.

If BDS Wins, the Jews are Next: Eylon Aslan-Levy, Times of Israel, Feb. 24, 2014—If the BDS movement achieves its goal of normalising a blanket boycott of Israel, its next target will be the Jews.

.

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

WITH A LIKELY PQ MAJORITY LOOMING, AND THE CONSTANT THREAT OF THE DRACONIAN “CHARTER,” WILL JEWS CONTINUE EXODUS FROM QUEBEC?

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



                                           

Who Will Speak Up For Minority Rights in Quebec?: Andrew Coyne, National Post, Jan. 24, 2014— Discussion of the Parti Québécois’ “Charter of Quebec Values” has until now been conducted rather on the same lines as discussion of a third referendum: as a theoretical possibility, but not an immediate likelihood.

Values Charter Could ‘Devastate’ Community: David Lazarus, Canadian Jewish News, Jan. 26, 2014 — Young Jews will seriously consider leaving Quebec if the Parti Québecois (PQ) forms a majority in the next provincial election and the proposed charter of values becomes law, predicts one of the country’s best-known demographers.

Quebec Charter Can’t Turn Back Demographic Clock 100 Years: Jason Moscovitz, Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, Feb. 14, 2014— I have this sick feeling. Not because the Parti Québécois (PQ) will soon call a Quebec provincial election in which it can win a majority; I feel sick about how the PQ is going to go about it. The Charter of Quebec Values is blossoming as a positive election issue for the PQ.

The PQ’s War Against Faith: Barbara Kay, National Post, Jan. 22, 2014 — It’s not often that we Canadians get to see a show trial in progress. But we’re watching one now — namely, the public hearings on the Quebec government’s proposed Bill 60, popularly known as the Charter of Quebec Values, which would ban religious symbols in the public service to ensure visible neutrality with regard to religious convictions and visible conformity to (Quebec-style) gender equality.

 

On Topic Links

 

Video Shows 'Positive' Criticism of Quebec Charter: Aaron Derfel, Montreal Gazette, Jan. 21, 2014

The PQ Charter and the Jewish Community: Don Macpherson, Montreal Gazette, Jan. 16, 2014

Quebec’s Values Charter Debate Fuels Stereotyping, Tension: Poll: National Post, Jan. 13, 2014

Quebec Business Leaders Sound Warning on PQ Values Charter: Allan Woods, Toronto Star, Feb. 2, 2014

 

 

 

WHO WILL SPEAK UP FOR MINORITY RIGHTS IN QUEBEC?

Andrew Coyne                                                        

National Post, Jan. 24, 2014

 

Discussion of the Parti Québécois’ “Charter of Quebec Values” has until now been conducted rather on the same lines as discussion of a third referendum: as a theoretical possibility, but not an immediate likelihood. The thing was so outlandish, so crude, so ugly in its implications and so obvious in its motives — to this day we have yet to be given a shred of evidence of its necessity — that the consensus was that it was unlikely ever to be put into effect. Quebecers would not stand for this, we told ourselves. It was a throwback to an earlier time, catering to old insecurities, unrepresentative of the Quebec of today. Oh, perhaps it might fly in a few rural backwaters, but never in cosmopolitan Montreal.

 

At any rate, the opposition parties would block it in the legislature. Some watered-down version might pass, an affirmation of the secular character of the Quebec state blah blah blah, but the core of it, the ban on religious garments in the public service — effectively, a ban on religious minorities in the public service — could not possibly become law. Indeed, as more and more hospitals, school boards and municipalities spoke out against Bill 60 (as the legislation is called), as demonstrators marched against it and lawyers denounced it as unconstitutional, and as divisions began to emerge even among Péquistes as to its merits, it seemed increasingly evident the PQ’s desperate gambit — for surely that is what it was — had backfired. Evident, that is, to everyone but the PQ leadership, whose response to this firestorm of opposition was … to tighten the bill further.

 

Well, now, here we are months later, and every one of these wishful myths has been destroyed. The PQ, far from dwindling to a reactionary rump, can now see a majority government within reach: A Léger poll, taken several days after hearings on the bill had begun, put them ahead of the Liberals, 36% to 33% overall, but 43-25 among the francophone population, where elections are won or lost. That wasn’t a tribute to the leadership of Pauline Marois. Neither was there any great surge in support for sovereignty. Rather, it seems clearly to be based on popular support — enthusiasm would perhaps be more apt — for the charter.

 

While nearly half of all Quebecers — 48% — support the bill, according to Léger, that’s almost entirely due to the support it enjoys among francophones, at 57%, compared with just 18% support among the province’s linguistic minorities. The ban on religious garb, in particular, attracts even more support: 60% overall, 69% among francophones — up 11 points since September. And while support is particularly strong outside the metropolitan areas, it is very nearly as strong in Montreal and Quebec City as well.

 

But you don’t need to consult the polls to see how this is playing out. You need only look at how the political parties are reacting. Neither opposition party has come out foursquare against the bill, or even the ban on religious clothing. The Coalition Avenir Québec would restrict its application to persons in positions of authority, such as police officers or judges (as suggested earlier by the Bouchard-Taylor commission on “reasonable accommodation”). Marvellous: so only the minority police officers and judges would be fired.

 

And the Liberals — ah, the Liberals. After dithering for months, while various figures within the party freelanced a range of positions on the issue, the party leader, Philippe Couillard, emerged with a stance of such infinite nuance that it ended up contradicting itself more than the bill. The party would allow public servants to wear the kippa and the hijab, but not the burka and the niqab. OK: the latter two cover the face, which suggests at least some sort of principled underpinning. But then why ban the chador, which does not? Such exquisite parsing has earned the party the ridicule of all sides. With the opposition in disarray, there is growing talk of a spring election, with Bill 60 as its central issue. What once was a theoretical possibility has become a real, and disturbing, probability.

 

By this point, Quebecers can be under no illusion what the bill portends: the expulsion from the public service of thousands of observant Jews, Sikhs, Muslims and even the odd Christian (among the bill’s other anomalies, crucifixes would be permitted, so long as they are not too large), unless they submit to stripping themselves of any outward manifestation of their faith. And the majority seem quite content with this. Rationalize it all we like — a distinctly French approach to secularism, the legacy of Quebec’s Catholic past etc. etc. — but if the polls hold the province is about to elect a separatist majority government, on an explicit appeal to ethnocultural chauvinism. The moral implications of this are profound, and not limited to the province, or its government. They involve us all. Put simply: Is this a state of affairs we can live with in this country? Will our consciences allow it? What, in particular, will be the reaction of the federal government? Will it defend the rights of local minorities, in the role originally envisaged for it, as it has pledged to do? Or will it do as federal governments have done since Laurier, faced with a determined local majority: shrug and abandon them to their fate?

                                                                         

                                                                                   

Contents
                                        

VALUES CHARTER COULD ‘DEVASTATE’ COMMUNITY                      

David Lazarus    

Canadian Jewish News, Jan. 26, 2014

 

Young Jews will seriously consider leaving Quebec if the Parti Québecois (PQ) forms a majority in the next provincial election and the proposed charter of values becomes law, predicts one of the country’s best-known demographers. “It would be naive to think it’s not a serious risk,” said Jack Jedwab, 55, director of the Association for Canadian Studies. Jedwab, who served as director of the Quebec branch of the now-defunct Canadian Jewish Congress from 1988 to 1998, told The CJN that while the province’s Jewish community remains vital and influential, it’s “in a state of serious, serious flux.” But “if this charter thing passes, it could be devastating.”

 

Some 30,000 Jews are believed to have left the province since the PQ formed its first provincial government in 1976. The community’s population now numbers about 90,000. Jedwab said a PQ majority government combined with the passage of Bill 60 would be “a worst-case scenario.” For the Jewish community, the proposed secular charter “is affecting the sense of who we are in society, that we are not equal to our de vieille souche [old stock] co-citizens,” said Jedwab, who is regularly asked to comment on minority issues by French- and English-language news outlets. “It’s coming across as an attack on our identity.”

 

Jedwab said he’s been impressed with the stance taken by the publicly funded Jewish General Hospital, which pledged that it would not enforce a charter rule barring workers from wearing religious symbols on the job. But, like many others, he had no idea how the provincial government would react to the hospital’s civil disobedience. “It’s a major question,” he said…

 

The government is so intent on achieving a majority and getting the charter passed into law by pandering to the province’s most base and xenophobic elements, he said, that it’s “ready to sacrifice its relationship with the Jewish community,” which almost never supports the PQ anyway. It’s clear from the current legislative hearings on Bill 60 that the party is cynically striving to exploit those xenophobic elements and distract from real issues such as the economy, Jedwab said.

 

One of the most troubling aspects of the charter debate for Jedwab is that religious rights are no longer being seen as fundamental or immutable, but as subject to legal manipulation. “It is one of the most worrisome dimensions,” he said. Jedwab is quite familiar with these issues. He was at Congress during the 1995 referendum on sovereignty, when the “No” side barely won and then-PQ premier Jacques Parizeau uttered his infamous comments blaming the “money and ethnic” vote for the razor-thin result. He was also at CJC when the late Quebecor tabloid publisher Pierre Péladeau referred to Quebec’s Jewish community as taking up “too much space,” and when Mordecai Richler suggested that anti-Semitism continued to play a role in Quebec national life. But Jedwab seems more concerned now than previously, saying that the charter is “one of the ugliest initiatives I’ve seen. I’m very, very saddened by the turn of events.”

                                                                                                 

Contents
                                  

QUEBEC CHARTER CAN’T TURN BACK

DEMOGRAPHIC CLOCK 100 YEARS                                              

Jason Moscovitz                                                              

Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, Feb. 14, 2014

 

I have this sick feeling. Not because the Parti Québécois (PQ) will soon call a Quebec provincial election in which it can win a majority; I feel sick about how the PQ is going to go about it. The Charter of Quebec Values is blossoming as a positive election issue for the PQ. Recent polls demonstrate how a growing majority of French Quebecers see the charter as a positive force to bolster their collective rights, emboldening them to almost scream out loud, “They are Quebecers and this is French Quebec.”

 

A few weeks ago, a young woman boarded a plane from New York City to Montreal. She overheard a Québécois couple in conversation about Jewish religious people on the same plane. In French, and not thinking they were being understood, one of them muttered, “I thought we were flying to Montreal not to Israel.” That is the mindset behind the charter.

 

The charter was not as popular when it was first presented six months ago. Even two former Quebec PQ premiers opposed it, as did some nationalist interest groups. They believed proposed legislation eliminating “conspicuous” or overly noticeable religious symbols worn by people in the public sector in Quebec was uncalled for and not worthy of Quebecers. They thought it silly to debate how people serving the public can wear a small crucifix or a small Star of David but not a big one around their neck. They opposed the whole notion of burkas, hijabs, turbans and kippahs being made matters of public policy. What they also knew, but probably wouldn’t say, is how the number of people who actually serve the public with any form of religious garb is so minuscule you would have to ask why any Quebec government would run the risk of having the majority look like heavy-handed bullies.

 

The reason reflects Quebec’s French majority being a minority in North America. Insecurity within that context has always made Quebecers keenly aware of the difference between collective and individual rights. To protect themselves from what they see as a never-ending threat to their language and culture, they believe laws need to be passed sometimes at the expense of individual rights of others. The Charter of Quebec Values follows the template of the Charter of the French Language. The rationale behind both is to protect Quebecers, by protecting their language, their culture and their very existence and growth in Quebec.

 

Perhaps you can better see why that Québécois couple on the Montreal bound plane would ask themselves if they were flying to Montreal or Israel when they saw religious Jews on the plane. You could say they are small-minded xenophobes or you could try to explain it by adding they feel what they feel because the Quebec of their ancestors is, in their minds, threatened. The Charter of Quebec Values may make some Quebecers feel better, but it is not going to change anything concretely. No charter of values can turn the demographic clock back a hundred years. But feeling better is important. Politicians learned a long time ago that the better you make people feel, the more votes you get.

 

The Charter of Quebec Values is not just the product of instant electoral gratification, although it sure looks that way. To be fair, the thinking behind the charter goes back several years to Quebec’s hearings on religious and cultural accommodation. The thinking of that arduous process was accommodation was always possible and desirable in Quebec, as long as limits were set. And that brings us to the beginnings of the legislative word “conspicuous.”

 

Some years back, a rabbi put up a big, “conspicuous” mezuzah in a Montreal condo where few Jews lived. For the record, the other two mezuzahs in the building were small and discreet. Within a month, the condo owner, yours truly, got a call from the administrator of the building. It was a polite and respectful conversation in which I was asked if it were possible to replace the big mezuzah with a small mezuzah. He talked about accommodation. My conclusion, long before the Charter of Quebec Values, was that, if you want a mezuzah in a shared building, make it small so Quebecers can hardly see it, or, perhaps more politely, remember they have a collective right, which enables them to tell you how big they think it should be.

 

                                                                                                 

Contents
                                  

THE PQ’S WAR AGAINST FAITH                                                        

Barbara Kay                                             

National Post, Jan. 22, 2014

 

It’s not often that we Canadians get to see a show trial in progress. But we’re watching one now — namely, the public hearings on the Quebec government’s proposed Bill 60, popularly known as the Charter of Quebec Values, which would ban religious symbols in the public service to ensure visible neutrality with regard to religious convictions and visible conformity to (Quebec-style) gender equality.

 

The outcome of the hearings already is known: Bill 60 will remain unchanged. The show trial’s purpose is to keep Quebec’s francophone populace continuously distracted and tribally pumped until an election is called. Since they cannot win on the usual grounds of good economic management and governance, the Parti Québécois are gambling on fear and ethnic pride as their ticket to power. It could pay off. A new Leger Marketing survey for QMI Agency suggests the PQ is, for the first time, “mathematically in position to win a majority government since their [minority] election [win] in 2012.” Nearly half the respondents reported themselves pleased with the Charter, with support much higher among francophones than other groups.

 

With hostility to the bill largely centralized in multicultural Montreal; with the anti-PQ vote split between two parties (the Liberals and Coalition Avenir Québec, both emanating equivocal, somewhat panicky vibes on the Charter); and with voting power weighted to Quebec’s homogeneously francophone regions: The reality is that Quebec may, through an impeccably democratic process, become a province where self-identifying members of faith communities are second-class citizens when giving and receiving public services.

 

The rationale for the Charter is similar to the thinking behind draconian language laws such as Bill 101. Quebec is a distinct, but vulnerable society, René Lévesque believed, with French the vehicle for Quebec’s unique culture; therefore the “face” of society must be French, with English minimized, to preserve the culture. Following the same logic, overtly expressed religious faith now is perceived as threatening to the secular character of Quebec culture. Bill 60 would neutralize the “face” of Quebec with regard to religious belief, especially belief in traditional gender roles.

 

This is poor reasoning. People may love one language, yet speak many, according to their situation. Language is a means to personal, cultural and transactional ends. But settled convictions are ends in themselves and never interchangeable. So unless a faith symbol actively harms the civic environment, there can be no democratic reason to ban it. (I will concede, however, that the actual covering of one’s face — as opposed to merely one’s hair — is psychologically threatening, and does impede social reciprocity. If the Liberals’ fully justifiable Bill 94, banning face-covering in public services, had been passed, the PQ’s Bill 60’s appeal would have been sharply diminished.) Bans on jewellery and head cover not only change the relationship of individuals to the state; they also transform relations between citizens, creating a hierarchy of civic worthiness in the minds of all, according to which participation in Quebec culture is predicated on the trivialization of faith.

 

Because Quebec’s elites are so hostile to their own Catholic cultural roots (even though cynical politicians have no problem exploiting their former faith’s religious symbols as protected “heritage” symbols in exploiting residual nostalgia amongst older voters), they have lost the capacity to understand faith’s character and its collective resilience when under threat. Politicians should realize that promoting secular conformity through voluntary submission to moral authoritativeness would be a far better path, in the end, than demanding sullen compliance through political authoritarianism.

 

Judaism, Islam and Christianity are the three main religions targeted by the Charter. Adherents of all three who wear faith symbols are precisely those representatives of their religions who are most likely to find meaning in sacred traditions and conventions deriving their authority from the pre-state past, and for whom sexual restraint and the family are the pillars of civilization.

 

How likely are these groups to accept humiliation from political masters whose own “culture” is based in rejection of the religion that created it? How likely are they to respect a “gender equality” ideal that is accompanied by indifference to marriage, widespread family breakdown and high abortion rates? Indeed, to any person of real faith, Quebec’s aggressive secularism seems more a source of cultural malaise than a strength.

 

It’s clear that Bill 60 is a transparently coarse, fear-mongering appeal to the least rational, most xenophobic elements of Quebec’s population. It may come to pass (even if it involves over-riding constitutional barriers with the Charter of Rights’ notwithstanding clause). But if that happens, the PQ may be surprised at the depth of the backlash.

 

Contents

                                                                          

Video Shows 'Positive' Criticism of Quebec Charter: Aaron Derfel, Montreal Gazette, Jan. 21, 2014 —It’s a video that some staunch supporters of the Charter of Quebec Values don’t want you to see. Produced with the full co-operation of the Jewish General Hospital, the video shows moving, compassionate images of health-care workers treating patients — all the while wearing the hijab, kippa and turban.                                                       

The PQ Charter and the Jewish Community: Don Macpherson, Montreal Gazette, Jan. 16, 2014—The Parti Québécois “values” charter would have a “devastating” effect on Quebec’s Jewish community. It could “damage” its “continuity,” and “compromise (its) acquired rights and its future.” And it risks creating “social conflicts.”                                           

Quebec’s Values Charter Debate Fuels Stereotyping, Tension: Poll: National Post, Jan. 13, 2014—As hearings begin Tuesday on the proposed Quebec Charter of Values, a new public opinion poll suggests even some Quebecers who support restrictions on religious symbols in public institutions think the move is already fuelling stereotyping and tension among the province’s communities and is likely to foster civil disobedience.                     

Quebec Business Leaders Sound Warning on PQ Values Charter: Allan Woods, Toronto Star, Feb. 2, 2014 —You know an issue has touched a nerve in Quebec when the business community turns to the microphones and television cameras. The province’s captains of enterprise did it in advance of French-language laws introduced in the 1970s.

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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

ARAB WINTER: AS ISLAMISM, SECTARIAN VIOLENCE, AND A HATRED OF ISRAEL CHARACTERIZE THE M.E., TUNISIA STRUGGLES WITH THE NEW REALITIES OF AN ARAB WORLD IN CRISIS

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



                                           

The Sick Middle East: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, Jan. 23, 2014— The recent fall of Fallujah to an al Qaeda-linked group provides an unwelcome reminder of the American resources and lives devoted from 2004 to 2007 to control the city — all that effort expended and nothing to show for it.

Crisis in Arab Civilization: Leon De Winter, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 17, 2014 — There has never been such a thing as the “Arab Spring”; a true Arab spring can only develop when the Arabs start developing civil societies.

Will Tunisia Defy Arab Spring Pessimism?: Michael Rubin, Commentary, Feb. 17, 2014—Many writers at Commentary cautiously welcomed the Arab Spring, myself included, even with a dose of caution about what might happen should the Muslim Brotherhood hijack the popular uprising that caught them as much as the regimes against which they plotted by surprise.

Do ‘Syria,’ ‘Iraq’ and ‘Lebanon’ Still Exist?: Jonathan Spyer, The Tower, Feb., 2014 — For almost a century, the Middle East has been defined by the nation-states that emerged following the Allied victory in World War I and the end of the colonial era.

 

On Topic Links

 

The Arab Spring Killed the Left’s Foreign Policy: Daniel Greenfield, Frontpage, Jan. 27, 2014

In Tunisia, It’s Shoot First, Ask Questions Later: Asma Ghribi, Foreign Policy, Feb. 17, 2014

Tunisian B-Boys’ Biggest Battle: Keeping Youths From Extremism: Carlotta Gall, New York Times, Feb. 17, 2014

 

THE SICK MIDDLE EAST

Daniel Pipes                                                            

Washington Times, Jan. 23, 2014

 

The recent fall of Fallujah to an al Qaeda-linked group provides an unwelcome reminder of the American resources and lives devoted from 2004 to 2007 to control the city — all that effort expended and nothing to show for it. Similarly, outlays of hundreds of billions of dollars to modernize Afghanistan did not stop its reversion to public stoning as a punishment for adultery. These two examples point to a larger conclusion: Maladies run so deep in the Middle East (minus remarkable Israel) that outside powers cannot remedy them.

 

Here’s a fast summary: Water is running out. A dam going up on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia threatens to substantially cut Egypt’s main water supply by devastating amounts for years. Syria and Iraq suffer from water crises because the Euphrates and Tigris rivers are drying up. The narcotic qat plant absorbs so much of Yemen’s limited water supplies that Sana’a may be the first modern capital city to be abandoned because of drought. Crazy wheat-growing schemes in Saudi Arabia depleted aquifers. On the flip side, the poorly constructed Mosul Dam in Iraq could collapse, drowning half a million immediately and then leave many more stranded without electricity or food.

Sewage runs rampant in Gaza. Many countries suffer from electrical blackouts, especially in the oppressive summer heat that routinely reaches 120 degrees.

People are also running out. After experiencing a huge and disruptive youth bulge, the region’s birthrate is collapsing. Iran, for example, has undergone the steepest population decline of any country ever recorded, going from 6.6 births per woman in 1977 to 1.6 births in 2012, thus creating what one analyst calls an “apocalyptic panic,” fueling government aggression. Poor schools, repressive governments and archaic social mores ensure abysmal rates of economic growth. Starvation haunts Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan.

 

Vast reserves of oil and gas have distorted nearly every aspect of life. Miniature medieval-style monarchies such as Qatar become surreal world powers playing at war in Libya and Syria, indifferent to the lives they break, as a vast underclass of oppressed foreign workers toils away and a princess deploys the largest budget for art purchases in human history. The privileged can indulge their cruel impulses, protected by connections and money. Sex tourism flourishes in poor countries such as India. Efforts at democracy and political participation either wither, as in Egypt, or elevate fanatics, who intelligently disguise their purposes, as in Turkey. Efforts to overthrow greedy tyrants lead either to yet-worse ideological tyrants (as in Iran in 1979) or to anarchy (as in Libya and Yemen). One commonly roots for both sides to lose. The rule of law remains a Fata Morgana.

 

Islamism, currently the most dynamic and threatening political ideology, is summed up by a morbid Hamas declaration to Israelis: “We love death more than you love life.” Polygyny, burqas, genital mutilation and honor killing make Middle Eastern women the world’s most oppressed. Middle Eastern life suffers from acute biases — often official — based on religion, sect, ethnicity, tribe, skin color, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, age, citizenship, work and disability. Slavery remains a scourge. Conspiracy theories, political zealotry, resentment, repression, anarchy and aggression rule the region’s politics. Modern notions of the individual remain weak in societies where primordial bonds of family, tribe and clan remain dominant.

 

The Middle East uniquely suffers from an urge to snuff out whole countries. Israel is the best-known potential victim, but Kuwait actually disappeared for a half-year, while Lebanon, Jordan and Bahrain could be swallowed up at any time. Middle Eastern states spend outsized amounts of their wealth on intelligence services and their militaries, creating redundant forces to check each other. They venture abroad to buy tank, ship and airplane baubles. They devote inordinate resources to chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and the platforms to deliver them. Even terrorist groups such as al Qaeda plot to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Cutting-edge methods of terrorism are developed in the Middle East.

 

Economic and political failure creates large bodies of refugees. Afghans have made up the world’s largest refugee population since the 1980s, but Syrians now threaten to overtake them, bringing poverty and chaos to their lands of refuge. Desperate souls attempt to leave the region altogether for Western countries, with more than a few dying along the way, and those who make it bring their region’s maladies to such orderly countries as Sweden and Australia. Nineteenth-century diplomats dubbed the Ottoman Empire “the sick man of Europe.” Now I nominate the whole Middle East as the “sick man of the world.” The region’s hatreds, extremism, violence and despotism will require many decades to remedy. While this process takes place, the outside world is best advised not to focus on helping the Middle East — a hopeless task — but on protecting itself from the region’s manifold threats, from Middle East respiratory syndrome and harems to megaterrorism and electromagnetic pulse.                                                                                      

 

[Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum and a CIJR Academic Fellow.]
 

                                                                       

 Contents
                                        

CRISIS IN ARAB CIVILIZATION                                            

Leon De Winter   

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 17, 2014

 

There has never been such a thing as the “Arab Spring”; a true Arab spring can only develop when the Arabs start developing civil societies. But until now the value systems of ethnicity and tribalism, which fit organically within the value system of Islam, have been crippling obstacles to the development of such Arab civil societies, societies in which politicians peacefully transfer power to the newly elected. Because of the lack of independent civil institutions which neutrally guarantee the continuation of the state, the only effective way of running an Arab nation-state is by dictatorship. The sense of loyalty to the state is weak compared to the sense of loyalty to the tribe and the religion. Corruption and tribalism always appear as twins. Therefore, expectations that a Palestinian state-to-be would function as Denmark is a cruel illusion. Only the introduction of the basic elements of a vital civil society can force a dramatic change in the Arab world, which is struggling with existential questions.

In order to find their place among the great nations of the world, the various tribes, ethnicities and peoples of the Arab and Islamic world have to find a way to overcome the traditions which have been part of their survival strategies – with often amazing success – since the seventh century. In a globalizing world these deeply ingrained traditions and value systems have outlived themselves. The process of decay started about 200 years ago, after Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt, and took a structural downwards turn with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Various solutions have been tested to prevent the Arab-Islamic way of life from imploding, from pan-Arabism to extreme religiosity. In the present world, which demands radical levels of individuality, equality between the sexes, personal autonomy, creativity, the ability to question authority and to do research and development without the limitations of religion or self-censorship, the tested Arab and Islamic value systems have proven to be impotent. The Arab nations cannot participate in the great adventure of human progress but are being crippled by paralyzing cultural traditions.

The cruel violence among ethnic and tribal brothers in Syria is indicative for the depth of the crisis in that civilization. No coalition of warriors can open the way to the creation of an open civil society. The identities of the groups are being defined by ethnicity and/or religious affiliation. If a coalition of warriors would be able to defeat the other coalitions, a new dictatorship will be created – and this new dictatorship can only equal the old one since there is no prospect of successfully suppressing the traditional value systems while introducing those of liberal open societies. This is a bitter dilemma for the ruling classes running Arab dictatorships: giving up complete control over the security forces and media to freely elected politicians, the initial conditions for a civil society, leads automatically to unleashing the extremist powers which would immediately overthrow the ruling classes – in other words: giving up control is a form of suicide. In order to legitimize their hold on power, dictatorships by definition need antagonists.

The ideal enemy is Israel, the land of the Jews, who have been ridiculed by the Arabs since the very beginning of the Islamic religion. The obsession with Israel (which rules over a relatively small group of Arabs whose educational and medical situation is relatively better than those in most Arab countries and creates higher life expectancies than Turkey) is not restricted to the ruling and media classes. Israel has to be destroyed, otherwise some of the core tenets of the Islamic religious revelation as described in the Koran will be proven to be false – which is impossible since the Koran is Allah’s book which has been devised before time existed. According to Islamic theology, Jews have refused Mohammed’s message and therefore are condemned to live within precisely defined limitations as a second-class people. It is impossible to accept a state run by Jews on soil considered to be part of the Islamic Arab cultural heritage – land which has been Islamic will be Islamic for ever. The issue is tiny in size (Israel is about the size of New Jersey), but enormous in meaning. Within the context of Islamic tradition, the existence of Israel is the denial of the truth of Mohammed’s acts and sayings.

In civil society, by its nature, church and state are separated – civil society can only be a secular society in which religious sensibilities belong to personal habits and preferences. But Islam, which can be considered the universal and mostly monotheistic translation of tribal values, is an essential aspect of the Arabs’ identity. And because they lack the sense, and the institutions to carry it, of being individuals in a civil society, the culture of the Arabs is paralyzed in its own existential crisis, which is being fed with hatred of Israel, the ultimate “other,” the dynamic and prosperous and mighty denial of Islam’s truth and claim on the holy territory of Palestine.

World powers try to find an understanding with the non-Arab Islamic nation of Iran – which shows the same deficiencies as the Arab nations. Its religiously legitimized dictatorship cannot be but obsessed by Israel, which by its very existence is an actual denial of the Islamic message. The Iranian dictators can only function as protagonists focused on antagonists – they have to operate as warriors because they serve a universal religious message (“the world will be Islamic because of the truth of Islam”) which needs to be proven true in the real world. And the proof in the real world lies in the destruction of Israel. Muslims can only liberate themselves from their cultural paralysis when they start accepting Israel’s existence. That means that they have to re-interpret Mohammed’s message. A peace treaty with non-Arab Iran will be an empty gesture as long as Iran doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist. The dilemma is: it cannot do that since by recognizing Israel, Iran would betray Mohammed’s message. Destroying Israel is the ultimate consequence of Iran’s religious tenets and of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which is defining the direction of world history as a movement towards global Islam and the victory over world Jewry. No peace treaty can soften that ambition. The political, religious and military leadership of Iran legitimizes its hold on power by the pledge to execute Allah’s will. So peace can only be established by a re-interpretation of Allah’s will as expressed in the Koran and the Hadith.

Nobody knows if that is possible. Still, Western nations should strictly keep on demanding the recognition of Israel; the only way to an Islamic reformation, and the road to Arab civil societies, lies in the re-interpretation of Mohammed’s legacy. An Arab nation that can…live with Israel will automatically put in motion a cultural and religious reformation. Recognition of Israel’s existence as a Jewish state is the only hope for the Arabs and Muslims to join the rest of mankind in healing the world.

 

                                                                                                 

Contents
                                  

WILL TUNISIA DEFY ARAB SPRING PESSIMISM?                           

Michael Rubin                                                                

Commentary, Feb. 17, 2014

 

Many writers at Commentary cautiously welcomed the Arab Spring, myself included, even with a dose of caution about what might happen should the Muslim Brotherhood hijack the popular uprising that caught them as much as the regimes against which they plotted by surprise. It was not long before the Arab Spring turned chilly. The Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates rose to dominate Egypt and Tunisia. Yemen, Libya, Bahrain, and Syria descended into violence. While some analysts pointed out that the monarchies—Bahrain excepted—showed particular resilience amidst the winds of the Arab Spring, this might have less to do with fundamentals and could instead have been sheer dumb luck. Jordan, for example, remains highly susceptible to an uprising that could challenge if not unseat the regime. Stability in Saudi Arabia remains far from assured.

 

The fundamental problem has been that both governments and opposition movements have embraced the rhetoric of democracy, but not its spirit. Opposition groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt have looked at the Arab Spring as an opportunity to seize power and replicate the same dictatorship against which they once fought.

 

The exception, of course, has been Tunisia. Ennahda, an Islamist party affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, won a plurality in elections to form the government which would oversee drafting of a new constitution but, against the backdrop of popular discord with its conservatism, it agreed to step down last month in favor of a caretaker government rather than seek to dominate as have Islamist parties elsewhere in the Middle East. Today, polls show that 70 percent of Tunisians believe their country is heading in the right direction, a sharp uptick since only 15 percent believed it was before Ennahda agreed to step down.

 

Tunisia isn’t out of the woods yet. Oussama Romdhani, a former communications minister under the Ben Ali government, yet a figure widely respected as a self-made and honest man despite his association with the previous regime, has a must-read column in Al-Arabiya assessing the current state of Tunisian politics and the dangers which lurk ahead. Every post-Arab Spring government, even the best intentioned, has had to confront unrealistic expectations of supporters and the conspiracy theories of critics. Still, rather than give into America’s new isolation trend, it is important to support Tunisia as it moves forward, because if one Arab state can navigate Arab Spring turbulence into a more tranquil future, then it can become a model for others who otherwise might teeter between Islamist dictatorship or regression to more secular authoritarianism.

 

                                                                                                 

Contents
                                  

DO ‘SYRIA,’ ‘IRAQ’ AND ‘LEBANON’ STILL EXIST?                      

 

Jonathan Spyer                                        

The Tower, Feb. 2014

 

For almost a century, the Middle East has been defined by the nation-states that emerged following the Allied victory in World War I and the end of the colonial era. Since then, strategic analyses of the region have concentrated on the relations between these states, and diplomatic efforts have generally attempted to maintain their stability and the integrity of their borders. As a result, the current map of the Middle East has remained largely unchanged over more than nine decades. But this is no longer the case. The old maps no longer reflect the reality on the ground, and the region is now defined not by rivalry between nation-states, but by sectarian divisions that are spilling across the old borders and rendering them irrelevant. Today, there is a single sectarian war underway across the Middle East, one that threatens to engulf the entire region.

 

This war has a number of fronts, some more intense and active than others, but it is everywhere defined by sectarian conflict, especially the divide between Sunni and Shia Muslims. It is most intense in the area encompassing the current states of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon; but has also spread further afield—to Bahrain, northern Yemen, and to some degree Kuwait and eastern Saudi Arabia. The core power on the Shia side is the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror and founding patron of Hezbollah, which until 9/11 held had killed more Americans than any terror group in the world. The Assad regime in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Maliki government and assorted Shia militias in Iraq, the Houthi rebels in northern Yemen, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are all allies or proxies of the Islamic Republic, which is capable of rendering substantial assistance to its friends through the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), a powerful military and economic force that possesses substantial expertise and experience in building proxy organizations and engaging in political and paramilitary warfare.

 

On the Sunni side, the dominant power is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which after 9/11 has been wary of Tehran, but also has struggled against the Islamists of Al Qaeda. Its allies include various groups among the Syrian rebels, the March 14 movement in Lebanon, the military regime in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, and sometimes Turkey. The Saudis, however, are at something of a disadvantage. They possess no parallel to the IRGC, and have problematic relations with the extreme Sunni jihadists of al-Qaeda, who have played a prominent role in the fighting on all three major fronts. How did this situation come about? Is there evidence of a clear linkage between the various forces on the respective sides? Why is this conflict so extreme in certain countries—like Syria and Iraq—where it appears to be leading to the breakup of these states? How dangerous are these changes for the West? Focusing on the areas of most intense conflict—Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon—can help us answer these questions.

 

This war is a result of the confluence of a number of circumstances. First, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are all home to a host of different sectarian and ethnic communities. The stark divisions that exist in these societies have never been resolved. In Syria and Iraq, they were suppressed for decades by brutal dictatorial regimes. The Assad regime in Syria and Saddam Hussein’s in Iraq were family dictatorships based on minority sectarian communities—the Alawis in Syria and the Arab Sunnis in Iraq—while claiming to rule in the name of pan-Arab nationalism. In service of this ideology, the Syrian and Iraqi regimes ruthlessly put down ethnic and sectarian separatism in all its forms; in particular, Shia Islamism in Iraq, Sunni Islamism in Syria, and the Kurdish national movement in both countries. All were treated without mercy. Lebanon, by contrast, is a far weaker state, which was ruled by a power-sharing arrangement between ethnic and religious groups that collapsed into civil war in 1975. The issues underlying that war were never resolved; instead, between 1990 and 2005 the Syrian army presence in Lebanon ended all discussion of basic issues of national identity.

 

Over the last decade, the once ironclad structures of dictatorship and suppression that kept ethnic and sectarian tensions from erupting have weakened or disappeared. The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq destroyed the Saddam Hussein regime. A sectarian Shia government, based on the Shia Arab majority and conditionally accepted by the Kurds, took its place. In Syria, a brutal civil war has severely curtailed the power of the Assad regime, which now rules only about 40 percent of the country’s territory. The Sunni Arab majority and the Kurdish minority have carved out autonomous sectarian enclaves in the 60 percent that remains. Western hopes that a non-sectarian identity would take hold in the areas formerly ruled by Saddam and the Assads have proved persistent but illusory. Remarks about Iraq made by then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in 2004 sum up these hopes and the tendency to self-delusion that often accompanies them. “What has been impressive to me so far,” Rice said, “is that Iraqis—whether Kurds or Shia or Sunni or the many other ethnic groups in Iraq—have demonstrated that they really want to live as one in a unified Iraq…. I think particularly the Kurds have shown a propensity to want to bridge differences that were historic differences in many ways that were fueled by Saddam Hussein and his regime… What I have found interesting and I think important is the degree to which the leaders of the Shia and Kurdish and Sunni communities have continually expressed their desires to live in a unified Iraq.”

 

This faith is shared by the Obama Administration, and as a result, it has continued to support the Shia-dominated government in Iraq, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. It sees Maliki’s opposition to Sunni insurgents in western Anbar province as an elected government’s opposition to extremist rebels. This fails to take into account the sectarian nature of the Maliki government itself and the discriminatory policies he has pursued against the Sunnis of western Iraq…                                

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

                                                                          

The Arab Spring Killed the Left’s Foreign Policy: Daniel Greenfield, Frontpage, Jan. 27, 2014 —Three years later, no one talks about the Arab Spring.

In Tunisia, It’s Shoot First, Ask Questions Later: Asma Ghribi, Foreign Policy, Feb. 17, 2014 —Tunisia's nascent democracy is facing a difficult yet painfully familiar conundrum: How to fight "terrorism" without encroaching upon human rights and going back to the draconian practices of the former oppressive regime.

Tunisian B-Boys’ Biggest Battle: Keeping Youths From Extremism: Carlotta Gall, New York Times, Feb. 17, 2014 —The youth center in this small provincial town is brimming with energy on a Saturday morning.

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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

AMERICAN JEWRY, ALREADY FACING MOUNTING BOYCOTT, BDS PRESSURES, SEES SITUATION WORSENED BY NETANYAHU’S PEACE PROCESS AMBIVALENCE

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



                                           

Mr. Prime Minister: Don’t Take Diaspora Jews for Granted: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 16, 2014— Under the leadership of the indefatigable Malcolm Hoenlein, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a unique umbrella organization, is gathering in Jerusalem this week.

The Dark Side of the War on 'the One Percent': Ruth R. Wisse, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 3, 2014 — Two phenomena: anti-Semitism and American class conflict. Is there any connection between them?Book

Review: 'Genesis,' by John B. Judis: Jordan Chandler Hirsch: Wall Street Journal, Feb. 11, 2014— The library of books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is vast, and it grows every year.  

Arab, Muslim and Pro-Israel: Abdel Bioud, Times of Israel, Feb. 11, 2014 — I know, I know, I know what you’re already thinking: ‘’oh God, not another piece on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the same old arguments regurgitated over and over again, for the last 60 years’’. You couldn’t be more wrong. Bear with me.

 

On Topic Links

 

Interview: The Sweeper of Dreams, with Alma Deutscher (Video): Youtube, Jan. 3, 2014

Arab Demonization of Jews Is a Historical Anomaly—and Shows the Limits of Today’s Leaders: Aomar Boum, Tablet, Feb. 21, 2014

Hillel Explains When ‘Open Hillel’ Will Result in Disaffiliation: Lori Lowenthal Marcus, Jewish Press, Feb. 20, 2014

Film Exposé of J Street Reveals Decaying Core of Moral Narcissism: Lori Lowenthal Marcus, Jewish Press, Feb. 21, 2014
 

 

MR. PRIME MINISTER: DON’T TAKE DIASPORA JEWS FOR GRANTED     

Isi Leibler                                                                 

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 16, 2014

 

Under the leadership of the indefatigable Malcolm Hoenlein, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a unique umbrella organization, is gathering in Jerusalem this week. Its members, leaders of America’s most prominent Jewish organizations, will be briefed directly by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and senior government ministers. Alas, unless the unexpected happens and the prime minister reads the riot act to his ministers, these American activists will receive mixed messages and are likely to return to the US more confused than when they arrived.

They will be baffled by what they learn about the current round of the so-called “peace negotiations.” It now appears that Israel will accept – with major reservations – the framework accord for negotiations as a non-binding document. In contrast, the Palestinians seem poised to reject it outright. And yet, despite the Palestinian intransigence, Israel will continue to be bombarded by demands to make further concessions.

They will find it difficult to make sense of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s role in the process. Encouraged by a flow of demands and petitions from Jewish liberals urging Netanyahu to be “grateful” to Kerry and “not sit idly by” (whatever that means) and risk forgoing the opportunity for peace, Kerry has displayed a complete lack of evenhandedness in the negotiations. He does not pressure the Palestinians, although he has made multiple threats against Israel, and proposed extreme and dangerous interventions, such as substituting the IDF presence in the Jordan Valley with electronic fences and NATO troops.
 

Disregarding the fact that he represents Israel’s ally, he has alluded to the “dangers” of boycotts, sanctions and delegitimization unless Israel becomes more accommodating – a thinly veiled threat that we can be sure the Europeans heard. Moreover, it was unconscionable that Kerry failed to relate to the vicious incitement of recent weeks, when released Palestinian killers were sanctified as national heroes and, in many cases, actually recounted their ghoulish murders of innocent civilians on state television.

But ultimately, Netanyahu and his government bear the main burden of responsibility for the bewilderment that Diaspora Jews (and many Israelis) are experiencing over the negotiations. While the prime minister initially robustly rejected key security concessions that Kerry demanded, he subsequently caved in to pressure and papered over the differences. Meanwhile, in absolute contradiction to the position adopted by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman – the traditional hardliner – then embarked on an “I love Kerry” campaign, preposterously suggesting that the deals proposed were the best Israel could ever expect. If Netanyahu orchestrated this as a “good cop, bad cop” performance, it seriously backfired. On the other hand, if the foreign minister is running his own mini-government, that is totally unacceptable.

This confusion has had major ramifications in the US, particularly for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the jewel in the crown of American Israel activism. But in recent months, its reputation was tarnished and its standing weakened by failed efforts that resulted primarily from mixed signals it received. Despite AIPAC’s strong Iranian sanction campaign (it obtained bipartisan endorsement and the backing of 59 members of the US Senate, just four votes short to carry the vote), it backed down from its effort due to massive pressure from President Barack Obama, who went so far as to misleadingly proclaim that passage of tougher sanctions against Iran was tantamount to a declaration of war. While Prime Minister Netanyahu initially encouraged AIPAC to proceed with its campaign he is also said to have pressured AIPAC to withdraw in order to placate Obama prior to their meeting in March.

AIPAC is also facing problems that are unrelated to Israel’s current lack of strategic clarity. It has become so obsessed with bipartisanship that the withdrawal of a number of Democrats made them fear a breakdown, and this is said to have also contributed to the decision to pull out its support for the initiative. In the process, AIPAC alienated and left some of its key congressional supporters out on a limb with the Republicans defiantly carrying on. With the increasingly aggressive attitudes against Israel emerging from leftist minority groups within the Democratic Party, complex challenges are likely to arise in future which cannot always be subordinated to the interests of bipartisanship. Nonetheless, the AIPAC debacle is symptomatic of the strained relationship between the Netanyahu government and Jewish organizations trying to support it. The government’s impulsive statements and ministers’ irresponsible public criticism and shrill outbursts have understandably exasperated even committed mainstream supporters of Israel and made them lose credibility…

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

                                                                         

Contents
                                        

THE DARK SIDE OF THE WAR ON 'THE ONE PERCENT'                     

Jordan Chandler Hirsch                  

Wall Street Journal, Feb. 3, 2014

 

Two phenomena: anti-Semitism and American class conflict. Is there any connection between them? In a letter to this newspaper, the noted venture capitalist Tom Perkins called attention to certain parallels, as he saw them, between Nazi Germany's war against the Jews and American progressives' war on the "one percent." For comparing two such historically disparate societies, Mr. Perkins was promptly and heatedly denounced. But is there something to be said for his comparison—not of Germany and the United States, of course, but of the politics at work in the two situations? The place to begin is at the starting point: with the rise of anti-Semitism, modernity's most successful and least understood political movement.

 

The German political activist Wilhelm Marr, originally a man of the left, organized a movement in the 1870s that charged Jews with using their skills "to conquer Germany from within." Distinguishing the movement that he called anti-Semitism from earlier forms of anti-Judaism, Marr argued on professedly rational grounds that Jews were taking unfair advantage of the emerging democratic order in Europe, with its promise of individual rights and open competition, in order to dominate the fields of finance, culture and social ideas. Though some of Marr's rhetoric and imagery was based on earlier stereotypes, he was right to insist that anti-Semitism was a new response to new conditions, channeling grievance and blame against highly visible beneficiaries of freedom and opportunity.

 

These were some of its typical ploys: Are you unemployed? The Jews have your jobs. Is your family mired in poverty? The Rothschilds have your money. Do you feel more insecure in the city than you did on the land? The Jews are trapping you in factories and charging you exorbitant rents. Anti-Semitism accused Jews of undermining Christian authority and corrupting the German legal system, the arts and the press. Jews were said to be rabid internationalists spreading Bolshevism—and ruthless capitalists exploiting for their own gain the nation's natural and human resources. To ambitious politicians seeking office, to rulers of still largely illiterate populations, "the Jews" became a convenient catchall explanation for deep-rooted and sometimes intractable problems.

 

But though the origins of modern anti-Semitism may be traced to Germany, anti-Semitism itself remains sui generis and cannot be simply conflated with either Germany or Hitler. True, the latter gained power on a platform of anti-Semitism and then proceeded to put his Final Solution into effect, but the modern organization of politics against the Jews is independent of Nazism—and of fascism, since the Italian variant did not specifically target the Jews. Features of anti-Semitism are present in other political movements, on the left fully as much the right.

 

The parallel that Tom Perkins drew in his letter was especially irksome to his respondents on the left, many of whom are supporters of President Obama's sallies against Wall Street and the "one percent." These critics might profitably consult Robert Wistrich, today's leading historian of anti-Semitism. His "From Ambivalence to Betrayal: The Left, the Jews, and Israel" (2012) documents the often profound anti-Semitism that has affected socialists and leftists from Karl Marx to today's anti-Israel movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions. It was Marx who said, "The bill of exchange is the Jew's actual god," putting a Jewish face on capitalism and accusing both Judaism and capitalism of converting man and nature into "alienable and saleable objects."

 

Herein lies one structural connection between a politics of blame directed specifically at Jews and a politics of grievance directed against "the rich." The ranks of those harping on "unfairly" high earners include figures in American political life at all levels who have been entrusted with the care of our open society; in channeling blame for today's deep-rooted and seemingly intractable problems toward the beneficiaries of that society's competitive freedoms, they are playing with fire. I say this not only, and not even primarily, because some of those beneficiaries happen also to be Jews. So far, mainstream American politicians and supporters of movements like Occupy Wall Street have confined their attacks to the nameless "one percent," and in any case it is doubtful that today any U.S. politician would be electable on an explicitly anti-Jewish platform.

 

My point is broader: Stoking class envy is a step in a familiar, dangerous and highly incendiary process. Any ideology or movement, right or left, that is organized negatively—against rather than for—enjoys an inherent advantage in politics, mobilizing unappeasable energies that never have to default on their announced goal of cleansing the body politic of its alleged poisons. In this respect, one might think of anti-Semitism as the purest and most murderous example of an enduring political archetype: the negative campaign. That campaign has its international as well as its domestic front. Modern anti-Zionism, itself a patented invention of Soviet Communism and now the lingua franca of the international left, uses Israel just as anti-Semitism uses Jews, directing grievance and blame and eliminationist zeal against an entire collectivity that has flourished on the world scene thanks to the blessings of freedom and opportunity.

 

Herein lies a deeper structural connection. On the global front today, the much larger and more obvious beneficiary of those same blessings is the democratic capitalist system of the United States, and the ultimate target of the ultimate negative campaign is the American people. Anyone seeking to understand the inner workings of such a campaign will find much food for thought in Mr. Perkins's parallel.

 

                                                                                                 

Contents
                                  

REVIEW: 'GENESIS,' BY JOHN B. JUDIS                                            

Lance Esplund                                                               

Wall Street Journal, Feb. 11, 2014

 

The library of books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is vast, and it grows every year. John Judis's Genesis claims to distinguish itself by focusing on President Harry Truman's efforts "to resolve the conflict between Jew and Arab." Mr. Judis thinks that we can learn from Truman's failures and wants readers "to approach the subject from when the conflict actually began." But Genesis distinguishes itself in another way: It isn't so much a history as an inquisition—one that weighs the moral balance of the conflict from on high and finds Zionism, and its American supporters, guilty.

 

The author, a senior editor of the New Republic, begins by surveying the 50 years of Jewish-Arab tensions in Palestine that preceded the birth of the Jewish state in 1948. While rehashing the origins of both Zionism and Palestinian nationalism, he casts the movement for Jewish statehood as an inherently colonialist enterprise and the Arabs as its victims. The Zionist pioneers settling in Palestine, the author writes, committed "many of the sins that Western European countries had visited upon native populations," displacing locals and stifling their "natural development." In making this charge, he equates Europe's mightiest powers with its greatest victims, the Jews—a stateless people seeking refuge in their ancient home by legitimately purchasing and cultivating land. Throughout this preamble, Mr. Judis accuses the Zionist movement of rejecting compromise and "social justice." But regarding the most heinous Arab actions—such as the 1929 massacre of the Jewish community of Hebron or the five-country invasion of the nascent state of Israel in 1948, which followed the Arabs' rejection of the first United Nations peace plan—the author is more forgiving. These he largely plays down or characterizes as understandable responses to Jewish provocation.

 

There is a good reason why this partisan early narrative sounds familiar: It is nearly 200 pages of mostly regurgitated secondary sources. If Mr. Judis were dedicated to telling an original story about Truman, he shouldn't have devoted half of his book to this carbon-copy history. But he isn't primarily concerned with how Truman came to recognize the state of Israel or even, really, with the fate of Palestine. Instead, Mr. Judis is consumed by what he views as the pernicious influence of diaspora Jewish Zionists on the British and American governments. The author traces the sinister sway of Zionism to the drafting of the Balfour Declaration, the 1917 document in which Britain pledged to establish a Jewish national home in Palestine. Chaim Weizmann, a chemist whose scientific discoveries greatly aided the British during World War I, "charmed his way up the ladder of authority until he reached the top," Mr. Judis writes, and then suckered some key British figures into supporting the Zionist cause. When, after the war, others attempted to dilute Britain's commitment to the Balfour Declaration, Zionist activists in Britain consistently "blocked" their efforts.

 

A running theme is that had these Jews been patriotic Britons, they wouldn't have lobbied for Zionism. Mr. Judis uncritically cites Prime Minister H.H. Asquith receiving a pro-Zionist memo from Herbert Samuel, a Jewish cabinet member, and noting in a private letter that "it is a curious illustration . . . that 'race is everything' to find this almost lyrical outburst proceeding from the well-ordered and methodical brain of [Samuel]." Mr. Judis thus deploys the bigotry of yesteryear to bolster his contemporary arguments.

 

What British Zionists did in London, Mr. Judis claims, American Zionists would do in Washington. By the end of the 1930s, Zionist activists, apparently not as all-powerful as "Genesis" would have readers think, failed to prevent Britain from decisively abandoning the Balfour Declaration. But as British power in the region receded following World War II, both Zionists and Arabs realized that their fortunes rested with the United States. Truman, who had no Middle East experience, was advised by Britain and by the U.S. Defense and State Departments to side with the Arabs. For three years, he anguished over whether to support Zionism. He weighed Arab sentiment against Jewish plight and political expediency against his sense of morality, while always seeking to uphold U.S. national interests.

 

"Genesis" reduces this tortuous deliberation into a simplistic tale of Jewish bullying. In its few pages of background on Truman's relationship with Jews and Zionism, the book discards well-documented complexity to insist that the president didn't sympathize with Jewish sovereignty. Truman, Mr. Judis says, was browbeaten by "unrelenting and obnoxious" pressure from Zionist activists. The president would ultimately bow before Zionist advocates "not because he believed in their cause," but out of electoral concerns. Mr. Judis accuses one figure, Abba Hillel Silver, of putting "the Zionist cause above party politics—and, in effect, above any domestic agenda." If a Democrat failed to fully endorse Zionism, Mr. Judis writes, Silver "tried to use the Jewish vote and Jewish contributions against him." Here and elsewhere, "Genesis" treats issue-driven voter lobbying, a staple of American democracy, as if it were high treason.

The author blames Truman's endorsement of a Jewish state—as opposed to a binational state in Palestine—on American Jewish liberals, who are the true targets of "Genesis." Mr. Judis is mystified by the fact that liberals who "supported labor rights, civil rights, and the first amendment," such as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, could also support Zionism. In doing so, he says, these otherwise stalwart progressive champions "abandoned their principles." Zionism, for Mr. Judis, is a kind of sin against liberalism. Near the end, he quotes a saying of Jesus: "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" and castigates Israel's Jews for having "gained a world of their own, but at the expense of another people." An author who brandishes his liberal commitments at every turn ends up invoking a Christian teaching on greed to condemn the Jews for sacrificing another people at the altar of their own interest.

                                                                                              

 

Contents
                                  

ARAB, MUSLIM AND PRO-ISRAEL                                         

Abdel Bioud                                                          

Times of Israel, Feb. 11, 2014

 

I know, I know, I know what you’re already thinking: ‘’oh God, not another piece on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the same old arguments regurgitated over and over again, for the last 60 years’’. You couldn’t be more wrong. Bear with me.

 

I’m Abdel. I was born in Algeria and lived there for a little over a decade. During that time, I had the distinct pleasure to go through a brutal civil war where Islamists (supported financially and morally by Hamas, Iran and Saudi Arabia) where trying to take over the country to impose their worldview on everyone else. Friends and family members of mine were killed and the country almost went down the drain. My parents, who were executives at the time, were also involved politically. Specifically, they were leading political parties who’re trying to get religion out of politics– in the midst of an Islamic insurgency. You can only imagine how more problematic their personal and familial situation became: regular death threats, bullet proof door in our home, different itineraries and time to get to work, et cetera. In sum, it was a living hell. Oh, did I mention that I’m the VP communication for McGill Students for Israel? Now, why? Why does a guy who’s born in a country that does not even recognize Israel come to support it? Below is the case for Israel from the perspective of someone who grew up and lived in a self-proclaimed Arab and Muslim country.

 

As a libertarian, individual liberty and freedom are values that I cherish very dearly. So, in order for me to understand a situation, I use those two values as guiding principles to shed some light on what is really happening. By applying that freedom filter to the Israeli-Arab conflict, you get the following: All Arab countries are dictatorships. That is, you have ruling gangster families on top, who use their monopoly of violence (via the military) to kill/imprison anyone who questions their business plan.

 

The business plan is the following:

 

1. Use force to maintain power and keep disarmed humans living in fear. 2. Send kids to government controlled schools so they can get indoctrinated with four things: The ruling family is great (à la Kim Jung Il). Their country is the greatest. The Palestinian cause is something that is part of their identity. Force feed them Islam so it can be used as a tool to control (I use the term force feed because I was force fed Islam in the Algerian government school since day 1). 3. While people are brainwashed and live in fear, negotiate a percentage on those resource/construction contracts (SNC-Lavalin anyone?). 4. Profit.

 

It comes as no surprise that the output of such a disastrous mix can only be chaos. On one hand you have the insane families in power who are trying to steal as much money as possible, while using violence against their own people. On the other hand, you have the by-product of this insanity- the Islamists. That is, confused people who had their vision of reality completely distorted by the system they were born in. This vicious cycle has been going on for decades, the result of which was the so-called Arab spring or Arab winter (i.e. the by-product of the system, the Islamists, is taking over). Clearly, this circus will go on for another decade if not more.

 

Now, what about Israel? If you’re a citizen there, your basic freedoms are respected. You can live peacefully, raise a family, and send your kids to competitive and globally recognized universities. This simple basic respect for human dignity put them light-years ahead of any Arab state. As a human being who seeks to improve himself, Israel is a logical choice. It is the only place in the Middle East where your potential can be fully expressed. Based on the values it stands for and the principles that it was founded on, Israel is a force of good for that region and for the world. And remember, this is not coming from a Jewish or an Israeli individual. It’s coming from someone with a Muslim name and an Arab face (which looks pretty good by the way), who actually lived and was raised in an Arab country. It’s not like I don’t know what I’m talking about and I’m just fantasizing from 5,000 miles away, like most people do.

 

From an individual and rational perspective, it is hard to argue against what I’ve said above. But even then, even if you drop any rational judgement and go tribal on this issue, the Jewish people are the Arabs’ cousins! If your cousins were being slaughtered and discriminated against all over the world (remember the MS St. Louis, the ship filled with Jewish refugees during WWII, that was turned away by Canada and the U.S. to go back to Europe?), wouldn’t you welcome them with your arms wide open? Jewish people have suffered greatly and the only people in the world that should have welcomed and protected them were their cousins, the Arabs. And it’s not like they had an option to flee to a “Jewish” country like you have for so-called Muslim and Christian ones. They were not welcome anywhere on planet earth. Do you fully realize the magnitude of this? The bottom line is this: this is a historical opportunity to start over but on the right foot this time. An opportunity to write history as it should have been from the beginning. Don’t let this opportunity go to waste; you might not have another one.

 

[Abdel Bioud is a graduate student at McGill Universitty and the is the vice president of communication for the McGill Students for Israel Association.]

 

CIJR wishes all its friends and supporters Shabbat Shalom!

                                                                          

Interview: The Sweeper of Dreams, with Alma Deutscher (Video): Youtube, Jan. 3, 2014

Arab Demonization of Jews Is a Historical Anomaly—and Shows the Limits of Today’s Leaders: Aomar Boum, Tablet, Feb. 21, 2014 —In his 1886 best-seller La France Juive, Édouard Drumont—the spiritual father of French anti-Semitism—wrote, “All comes from the Jew, all returns to the Jew.”

Hillel Explains When ‘Open Hillel’ Will Result in Disaffiliation: Lori Lowenthal Marcus, Jewish Press, Feb. 20, 2014 —Over the last few months, Jewish student groups on two American campuses affiliated with the Hillel International Foundation publicly rejected Hillel’s guidelines for partnership.
Film Exposé of J Street Reveals Decaying Core of Moral Narcissism: Lori Lowenthal Marcus, Jewish Press, Feb. 21, 2014 —Is it really possible to get all of the most important information about the no-longer upstart, but still disingenuous J Street into a one hour film, one that provides sufficient background information for the uninitiated to be able to grasp just what could be wrong with the organization that promotes itself as “pro-peace, pro-Israel”?

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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

JUDAISM, ZIONISM, & STATE: NYT PUSHES TINY MINORITY OF ORTHODOX ISRAEL CRITICS, REFLECTING THE “J-STREET” MENTALITY KERRY RELIES ON

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

 



                                           

Why Anti-Zionist Jews Are a Minority: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Feb. 16, 2014— It is a principle of journalism that news consists of those events that are out of the ordinary.

Why Religious Judaism Is Tied To Nationalism: Liel Leibovitz, Tablet, Feb. 18, 2014— This weekend, the New York Times ran a column by Mark Oppenheimer about what the author correctly identified as a small and curious minority of observant American Jews deeply opposed to Zionism.

Responding to the J Street Challenge: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Feb. 17, 2014 — Ever since its founding in 2008, J Street, the liberal Jewish advocacy group, has expended a great deal of time and energy trying to convince American Jews that it is a credible and more ethical alternative to traditional pro-Israel organizations like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Kerry's Israeli Supporters: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 3, 2014— Once again, on Saturday, US Secretary of State John Kerry tried to extort Israeli concessions to the PLO by threatening us with a Western economic boycott.
 

On Topic Links

 

A Conflict of Faith: Devoted to Jewish Observance, but at Odds With Israel: Mark Oppenheimer, New York Times, Feb. 14, 2014

As George Kennan Inspired Truman’s Foreign Policy, Now Stephen Walt Inspires Obama’s: Lee Smith, Tablet, Feb. 5, 2014

Go Left Young Man: Prejudice 101: Langdon Conway, Feb. 20, 2014

Richard Falk’s Final Report Accuses Israel of “Inhuman Acts” & “Apartheid”: UN Watch, Feb. 18, 2014

The Shame of Princeton: Sohrab Ahmari, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 14, 2014

 

WHY ANTI-ZIONIST JEWS ARE A MINORITY                                         

Jonathan S. Tobin

Commentary, Feb. 16, 2014

 

It is a principle of journalism that news consists of those events that are out of the ordinary. The old cliché is that when man bites dog, it’s news. A dog biting a man is not. Thus, the conceit of the New York Times Beliefs column feature on Friday met that basic standard for newsworthiness. A story about religious Jews who actively oppose the existence of the State of Israel is one in which it must be conceded that the subjects are unusual.

 

The Pew Research Center of U.S. Jews published in October reported that 91 percent of Orthodox Jews, 88 percent of Conservative Jews, and even 70 percent of those who identified themselves as Reform Jews are either very or somewhat emotionally attached to Israel. That means any discussion about observant Jews who are anti-Zionists is, by definition, one about a very tiny minority. But considering that three of the five Jews whose views are featured in the piece seem to fall into the category of Modern Orthodox, of whom 99 percent told Pew they were very or somewhat attached to Israel with one percent saying “not very attached” and zero percent “not at all attached,” the trio constitute a sample of a group that is not merely a minority but one so small that it is statistically insignificant.

 

Once that is understood, it becomes clear that one of the main failings of the article is not only the fact that its author has no interest in challenging their views but that it fails to put that fact in proper perspective. The Orthodox trio and the one Conservative Jew and one Reconstructionist movement rabbi (whose views may not be all that out of the ordinary among that small left-leaning demographic) highlighted are a peculiar minority. But the willingness of the paper to give them such favorable attention illustrates once again the falsity of the notion that it takes courage for Jews to oppose Israel. To the contrary, as was made clear last week by the controversy over two Manhattan rabbis who defied many of the congregants by signing a letter denouncing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), those Jews who publicly denounce Israel can always look forward to the applause of the mainstream media.

 

While this quintet are entitled to their views about Israel and appear to be none the worse for wear for being so determined to flout the views of their co-religionists, two aspects of the article are particularly objectionable. One is the article’s assumption that there is something remarkable about the fact that they are able to go about their business while living in a Jewish community and attending synagogue without much trouble. The second is the failure of the piece to acknowledge that the views their subjects express are inherently bigoted.

 

It should be acknowledged that the article is correct when it states that prior to 1948, support for Zionism was not universal among American Jews. Many Jews, especially those affiliated with “classic” Reform temples, viewed it as a threat to the rights of American Jews to be treated as equal citizens in the United States. The reason the adherents of that view declined from minority status to statistical insignificance is that Israel’s creation did no such thing. To the contrary, the creation of a Jewish state only a few years after the Nazis and their collaborators had killed nearly one third of the Jews on the planet engendered the respect of other Americans as well as enhancing the self-esteem of every Jew in the world whether he or she was religious or a Zionist.

 

Israel gained its independence because the Jews had a right to sovereignty in their ancient homeland and not as compensation for the Holocaust. The sweat and the blood of the Jews who built Israel and fought to defend it earned that independence. But the Holocaust made it abundantly clear, even to those who had never previously given the idea their support, that without a Jewish state to defend them, Diaspora Jews who had not been lucky enough to make it the United States or the other English-speaking countries that had not succumbed to the Nazis would always be at the mercy of violent anti-Semitism. That was just as true of Jews who lived in Muslim and Arab countries (who were forced to flee their homes after 1948) as it was of the Jews of Europe. Theodor Herzl’s understanding of the inevitable fate of a homeless Jewry—a thesis that he adopted after seeing Alfred Dreyfus being degraded in Paris as a mob shouted, “Death to the Jews”—was sadly vindicated by the events of the first half of the 20th century.

 

Though their neighbors and fellow congregants treat them with the toleration that Israel’s foes do not extend to the Jewish state, the common failing of the five anti-Zionist Jews in the Times story is their failure to account for this basic historical lesson that the rest of their community understands. One need not support every action of the government of the State of Israel or have no sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians to understand that not only does Israel have a right to exist but that its fall would endanger the lives of its people and, by extension, Jews everywhere. The notion put forward by one of the subjects that “non-statist Zionism” would succeed was exploded several decades ago by the refusal of Arab opponents of the Jewish presence in Israel/Palestine to accept Jews on any terms…                                      

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

                                                                       

Contents
                                       

WHY RELIGIOUS JUDAISM IS TIED TO NATIONALISM    

Liel Leibovitz

Tablet, Feb. 18, 2014

 

This weekend, the New York Times ran a column by Mark Oppenheimer about what the author correctly identified as a small and curious minority of observant American Jews deeply opposed to Zionism. The piece was well-written and compelling, and Oppenheimer’s five interviewees all came off as thoughtful and morally minded. But none, alas, sounded very Jewish. Uniting them all was a belief that Judaism, at its core, was somehow incompatible with the sort of earthly power on which states depend for their existence and which they apply daily in nearly every capacity. “I think nationalism and religion together are toxic,” said Stefan Krieger, a professor of law at Hofstra University. Corey Robin, a political science professor at Brooklyn College, put it even more poetically; “There are lots of ways to be Jewish,” he said, “but worshiping a heavily militarized state seems like a bit of a comedown from our past.”

 

You don’t have to be a noted rabbinical scholar to know that the past to which Robin alludes begins with a covenant that elects the Jews God’s chosen children and directs them towards the Promised Land, where they’re instructed to settle down and live according to the commandments of the Torah. Which, at first blush, seems like a strange idea: if the Chosen People are truly destined to serve as a light unto the nations, might they not better accomplish their mission by settling down among the goyim and preaching their truth to each nation in turn? Why shepherd them, like Abraham in his turn, to Canaan? Why insist on the establishment of a Jewish polity there?

 

The answer is a core tenet of Judaism, namely the realization that earthly power is indispensable. As Michael Walzer elegantly noted in his Exodus and Revolution, nothing inherent sets Canaan apart from Egypt and its houses of bondage; the Promised Land’s promise lies not in some external bit of magic but in the ability of the Jews to apply their sovereignty and turn their nation state into a concrete example of a just and merciful kingdom. In other words, Judaism suggests that if you’re going to live up to your calling and set a moral example, you do it not by shuffling off this mortal coil and declaring yourself too pure for the imperfect and compromise-ridden business of government, but by jumping right in and serving as an example of how a real nation addresses real problems right here in the real world.

 

Which is not to say that Israel’s current means of addressing its problems are perfect; far from it. But which is to say that seeking to define Judaism as antithetical to nationalism when it is, at its very heart, as much of a nationality as it is a religion, is a theological travesty against the ancient faith. Even the traditional religious opposition to Zionism, which Oppenheimer cites in his piece, stemmed not from a categorical rejection of a nation state but from a belief that such a political entity could be established only after the coming of the Messiah. Judaism, then, could certainly be understood as a critique of power, but never as a call for its abdication.

 

Oppenheimer’s subjects, however, don’t see it this way. Steeped in the kneejerk rejection of all forms of nationalism that is de rigueur in many parts of academia these days, they seem to tolerate the religion only if it deals in the ethereal realm of universal morals. Which, again, seems to have very little in common with our ancient faith. Of course, it’s poor practice to judge someone’s belief system on the basis of a few select quotes, however eloquent, in a newspaper article. The men and women Oppenheimer interviewed are all scholars and prolific writers, and this is a conversation well worth having. I’m curious to see how they would reconcile their seemingly modern ideas with the more traditional tenets of Jewish theology.                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                               

Contents
                                  

RESPONDING TO THE J STREET CHALLENGE                            

Ben Cohen

Algemeiner, Feb. 17, 2014

 

Ever since its founding in 2008, J Street, the liberal Jewish advocacy group, has expended a great deal of time and energy trying to convince American Jews that it is a credible and more ethical alternative to traditional pro-Israel organizations like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). J Street believes, not unreasonably, that there is a constituency for its work among those American Jews who are generally supportive of Israel but queasy over certain of its policies, most obviously creating and sustaining Jewish communities in the West Bank. Nor is this an unprecedented insight: from the 1970s onwards, there were organizations like Breira (“Alternative”) and New Jewish Agenda which aimed to give voice to the same disquiet.

 

J Street, however, is much savvier than either of those earlier incarnations. Unlike its ideological predecessors, there are no rumors circulating of its imminent demise. For the foreseeable future, then, J Street will remain a part of American Jewry’s political landscape. This reality is implicitly acknowledged in “The J Street Challenge,” a critical documentary film about the organization that has just been released by Americans for Peace and Tolerance, a Boston-based group run by the well-known anti-slavery activist Charles Jacobs. And it is a reality that, Jacobs and his co-producers insist, needs to be grappled with through honest debate and discussion.

 

The key question raised by the film is what it means to be “pro-Israel” not on a personal level, but within the context of the political lobbying and advocacy that swirls around American policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (or, as Harvard Professor Ruth Wisse more accurately terms it in her interview in the film, “the Arab conflict with Israel”). And when you examine J Street’s record, it becomes very hard to dispute Professor Alan Dershowitz’s assertion that the organization—despite its much-vaunted tagline—is “neither pro-Israel nor pro-peace.”

 

To begin with, there are J Street’s funders. As the film documents, ferocious critics of Israel like the hedge-fund billionaire George Soros and Genevieve Lynch, a board member of the pro-Iranian regime National Iranian-American Council, have donated significant sums to the organization. And although it says it is opposed to the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, J Street maintains close ties with those who advocate collaboration with the BDS movement in targeting West Bank settlements, like the writer Peter Beinart and the corporate lawyer Kathleen Peratis. This milieu is hardly conducive to J Street’s “pro-Israel” self-image.

 

Then there are J Street’s statements. As Dershowitz points out, you “rarely” hear J Street praising Israel. A far more familiar refrain consists of slamming Benjamin Netanyahu’s government as an obstacle to peace, or opposing tougher sanctions on the Iranian regime—positions that don’t raise an eyebrow when articulated by anti-Israel groups, but which sound rather discordant coming from a group that claims to support Israel. In that regard, much of the J Street documentary studies why the organization’s analysis of Israel’s situation is wrong. Its emphasis on Israel’s land policies in the West Bank, its tin ear when it comes to Palestinian and Arab incitement, its embrace of a strategy that would result in the U.S. pushing Israel to make decisions contrary to its basic security interests—these moral and strategic errors are all familiar to anyone who has followed the debate about J Street’s contribution.

 

More enlightening is the film’s examination of why J Street exercises such an attraction to a particular kind of American Jew. Many of the interviewees argue persuasively that affiliation with J Street is more of a lifestyle choice than a political statement, in that it allows liberal Jews to equate their identity with their fealty to the “progressive” values they see Israel as betraying. But is that how the J Streeters themselves view it? Since no J Street representative appears in the film, it’s hard to say for sure. According to the end credits, Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s executive director, “declined” to be interviewed, which left the producers with no option but to use existing footage of Ben-Ami speaking to other audiences. J Street told me that Ben-Ami was not interviewed because he was not available at the time the producers suggested. Either way, the absence of a direct interview with Ben-Ami, in which he answers the points raised by J Street’s critics, slightly blunts the film’s impact.

 

The most heartening aspect of the film consists of young, pro-Israel activists eloquently expressing why they distrust J Street. Through their words, the viewer gets an insight into the courage and intelligence required to defend Israel on campus these days. Indeed, one of them, Samantha Mandeles, who currently works as campus coordinator for media watchdog Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), is so impressive that I found myself wondering whether she’ll apply for the post-Abe Foxman national director’s job at the Anti-Defamation League—she certainly deserves serious consideration. In any case, seeing and hearing the next generation of genuinely pro-Israel Jewish leaders is reason enough to give “The J Street Challenge” an hour of your time.

                                                                                               

Contents
                                       

KERRY'S ISRAELI SUPPORTERS                                                      

Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 3, 2014

 

Once again…US Secretary of State John Kerry tried to extort Israeli concessions to the PLO by threatening us with a Western economic boycott. Kerry is obsessed with Israel’s economic success. Last May he told us that we’re too rich to surrender our land. Now he’s saying we’ll be poor if we don’t do so. The anti-Semitic undertones of Kerry’s constant chatter about Jews having too much money are obvious. But beyond their inherent bigotry, Kerry’s statements serve to legitimize the radical Left’s economic war against the Jewish state. Administration supporters and fundraisers from Code Pink and other pressure groups, as well as the EU understand that if they escalate their economic and political persecution of the Jewish state, their actions will be met with quiet understanding, and even support from the Obama administration. This is so even if the State Department issues indignant press releases expressing fury that Israeli elected officials have the chutzpah to object to Kerry’s behavior.

Israel has been subjected to plenty of abuse from American secretaries of state. But Kerry’s incessant talk of “illusory” Jewish money is unprecedented. Why does Kerry believe he can get away with this? The overwhelming majority of US lawmakers oppose economic warfare against Israel. The vast majority of Americans support Israel and believe that a Palestinian state will support terrorism and be hostile to Israel.

So if the American public opposes Kerry’s obsessive aggressiveness toward Israel, who is supporting him? Who is giving him cover for his anti-Jewish smears and his irrational focus on Jewish communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines? The answer is as infuriating as it is apparent. It is the Israeli Left and through it, much of the American Jewish community that enables Kerry’s diplomatic aggression against the Jewish state. Operating under their cover, Kerry feels free to engage in anti-Jewish bigotry directed against Israeli society. He believes he is immune from allegations of ill-will toward Israel even as he places the full weight of the US government behind a plan that will endanger Israel, bring no peace, destabilize the Middle East and fail to win the US any friends or allies in the Islamic world.

On the face of it, it is hard to understand why leftist Israeli Jews cheer Kerry’s aggressive attacks and threats. After all, they live here. They know as well as the rest of the country that if Israel bows to his will and surrenders Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria to the PLO the move will bring no peace. Rather it will unleash a Palestinian terrorist assault the likes of which we haven’t seen before. They know that the international delegitimization of Israel only expands with every Israeli concession to the PLO, and that giving up the store will bring us no respite from the Western world’s assault on our right to exist.

So what do they gain by giving cover to Kerry? Why do people like Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich applaud Kerry for placing unrelenting pressure on the government to take steps that the majority of Israelis oppose and urge him to keep it up? Ron Pundak, one of the original architects of Israel’s embrace of the PLO and the so-called two-state solution at Oslo in 1993 supplied the answer in a recently published paper. Last November the George Soros-supported International Crisis Group published a paper by Pundak entitled “Leap of Faith: Israel’s National Religious and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” The purpose of his paper was to provide strategies for contending with the religious Zionist opposition to the two-state model. According to Pundak, non-secular Israelis oppose the two-state policy because it “is seen as… aimed at de-Zionizing the state.”

Rather than develop talking points to convince Israeli Zionists that they are wrong to view the two-state model as an anti-Zionist project, Pundak admitted they are right. Indeed, destroying the Zionist underpinning of the Jewish state is not a byproduct of the two-state model. It is the purpose of the two-state model. In Pundak’s words, “Peace is not an objective by itself. It is a way to transition Israel from one era to another: to an era of what I consider is a normal state. Israelisation of society rather than its judaisation…”

Pundak’s explanation is not new. Before the Sharon government surrendered Gaza to Palestinian terrorists and forcibly expelled its 8,000 Jewish residents from their homes, Haaretz published an unsigned editorial along the same lines. “The disengagement of Israeli policy from its religious fuel is the real disengagement currently on the agenda. On the day after the disengagement, religious Zionism’s status will be different.”

The editorial concluded that all the talk about enhanced security or peace was pure nonsense. The purpose of destroying the communities in Gaza was to destroy the political and social power of religious Zionism in Israel. “The real question is not how many mortar shells will fall, or who will guard the Philadelphi route [between Gaza and Egypt], or whether the Palestinians will dance on the roofs of [the destroyed communities]. The real question is who sets the national agenda.”

 

For Pundak and his colleagues in the post-Zionist camp, Kerry is a key ally. And to the extent Kerry weakens the government and its supporters, he is a strategic asset. True, Kerry’s “framework” will bring no peace. But if what Pundak and his camp were after was peace, they wouldn’t have embraced the PLO to begin with. They would have cultivated pro-Israel Arabs who would lead their people into Israeli society.

That is, they would have done precisely what center- right governing coalitions – that included religious Zionists – sought to achieve, with significant success, in the decade and a half that preceded the phony peace-process. Israel is a democracy. And it is perfectly legitimate for Pundak and his colleagues to try to advance their policy goal of replacing Zionism with a de-Judaized state or anything else they wish. What is illegitimate is the means they have employed to advance their goal…
[To View the Full Article Click the Following Link –ed.]

                  

Contents

 

A Conflict of Faith: Devoted to Jewish Observance, but at Odds With Israel: Mark Oppenheimer, New York Times, Feb. 14, 2014 — There is no question that Charles H. Manekin is a rarity.

As George Kennan Inspired Truman’s Foreign Policy, Now Stephen Walt Inspires Obama’s: Lee Smith, Tablet, Feb. 5, 2014— The postwar American strategy of containing the Soviet Union had an architect—George F. Kennan, the mysterious “Mr. X” who wrote the 1947 Foreign Affairs article that drew from the “Long Telegram,” which laid out a blueprint for American policy that prevailed until the end of Cold War.

Go Left Young Man: Prejudice 101: Langdon Conway, Feb. 20, 2014— Recent attention has been drawn to a young professor (Annette Tezli) for her use of an overtly Bin Laden-excusing, anti-Israel textbook in a University of Calgary sociology course called “Canadian Society.”

Richard Falk’s Final Report Accuses Israel of “Inhuman Acts” & “Apartheid”: UN Watch, Feb. 18, 2014— A controversial United Nations human rights investigator is accusing Israel of “inhuman acts,” and calling on the body world to support a “legitimacy war” against the Jewish state.

The Shame of Princeton: Sohrab Ahmari, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 14, 2014 — No matter how deep into the political fever swamps some scholars wade, it seems, progressive academe won't shun them.

 

 

 Contents:         

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

Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

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

 

 

Contents:  Weekly Quotes |  Short Takes On Topic Links

 

 


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

 

On Topic Links

 

The Salafi Menace in Sinai Goes After a Soft Target: Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 17, 2014

Syria Peace Plan: Kenneth Bandler, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 3, 2014

The Shame of Princeton: Sohrab Ahmari, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 14, 2014

Oxfam’s Middle East Blinders: Gerald M. Steinberg, National Post, Feb. 14, 2014

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

"Our goal is to prevent Iran from having the capacity to manufacture or put together nuclear weapons."—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They don't need enrichment for peaceful nuclear energy. They don't [need] a heavy water reactor for that. They don't need ICBMs, long range inter-continental ballistic missiles…they don't need a weaponization program that Iran of course refuses to open to inspection. They don't need any of these things, but these are precisely the things that Iran insists on. And they're precisely the elements that they have to be denied.” (Israel Hayom, Feb. 18, 2014)

 

"The Islamic Republic of Iran's defensive issues are neither negotiable nor subject to compromise. They are definitely among our red lines in any talks." —Iran's deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, on Iranian state television on Sunday. "We won't discuss any issue other than the nuclear dossier in the negotiations." Talks on a permanent Iran nuclear accord opened Tuesday with the U.S. pressing Tehran to agree the deal should encompass caps on its expanding ballistic missile capabilities. But Iran says the missiles are part of its defense establishment and beyond the limits of nuclear talks. Last week, Iran's elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, successfully test-fired what state media described as two domestically made ballistic missiles. The missiles are estimated to have ranges of at least 1,500 kilometers (900 miles) and could be capable of striking Israel and American military targets in the Middle East, though military experts question their accuracy. (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 18, 2014)

 

"I have said before … I am not optimistic about the negotiations. It will not lead anywhere, but I am not opposed either." —Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday. Khamenei told a large crowd during a visit to the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz he was not optimistic about upcoming nuclear talks with world powers: "What our foreign ministry and officials have started will continue and Iran will not violate its (pledge) …but I say again that this is of no use and will not lead anywhere." (Israel Hayom, Feb. 18, 2014)

 

“Everyone must know that America’s enmity is with the core of the Islamic Revolution and with Islam. This enmity will not end with the negotiations.” —Khamenei added on Monday. (New York Times, Feb. 17, 2014)  

 

“…American action in World War II came too late to save countless millions of innocent lives…Hitler’s rise and conquest of Europe did not come as a surprise. We must not repeat the same mistake by reducing our preparedness, accepting the notion that we are one of many or ceding global leadership to others.” —Rep. Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, in a speech Monday to the Virginia Military Institute citing the lateness of American actions against the Nazis in critiquing President Obama’s foreign policy. Cantor said that “evil and hateful ideologies still exist in the world,” citing as perhaps the most evident Iran’s “determined march” to produce nuclear weapons. “I can imagine few more destabilizing moments in world history than Iran on the threshold of being a nuclear power,” he said. “An America that leads is an America that must work to restore the badly eroded international pressure on Tehran,” Cantor said, adding that “we should lay the groundwork now for additional sanctions in the event Iran violates the terms of the interim agreement.” (Jewish Press, Feb. 18, 2014)

 

"Israel is saving the lives of those who have been wounded in the daily slaughter that is being perpetrated in Syria." —Benjamin Netanyahu. "This is the true face of Israel," he added. "The bad part is that Iran is arming those who are carrying out the slaughter. This is the true face of Iran. All of the children who have been injured, to say nothing of those who have been killed, were injured as a result of Iran's arming, financing and training the Assad regime in the massacres that it is perpetrating." Israel's prime minister met with wounded Syrians treated at an Israeli hospital Tuesday and blamed Iran for bloodshed in neighboring Syria as world powers meet in Vienna for talks over Tehran's nuclear program. Netanyahu visited a hospital in the Golan Heights where Israeli doctors treat Syrians wounded in the civil war raging across the border. Although Israel and Syria are enemies having fought several wars, Israel provides medical treatment and humanitarian aid for wounded Syrians that reach its border. (Montreal Gazette, Feb. 18, 2014)

 

“Right now, Bashar al-Assad has not engaged in the discussions along the promised and required standard that both Russia spoke up for and the regime spoke up for.” —U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, during a press conference in Jakarta. Kerry said Assad’s team “refused to open up one moment of discussion” of a transitional government to replace Assad’s regime. “It is very clear that Bashar Assad is trying to win this on the battlefield instead of coming to the negotiating table in good faith,” Kerry said. Peace talks last week in Geneva ended with no progress toward breaking the impasse in the nearly 3-year-old conflict in Syria. Kerry also had harsh words for Assad’s allies in Moscow: “Russia needs to be a part of the solution and not be contributing so many more weapons and so much more aid that they are in fact enabling Assad to double down.” The U.N.’s human rights office said in January it has stopped updating the death toll from the war, confirming that it can no longer verify the sources of information that led to its last count of at least 100,000 in late July. Millions have been driven out of their homes, seeking shelter in neighboring countries and in safer parts of their homeland. “The talks themselves are taking a recess for the moment,” Kerry said Monday, “but all of us need to remember that there is no recess for the people of Syria who are suffering.” (Washington Times, Feb. 17, 2014)

 

"If you want to prevent this region from falling into chaos that will not end for decades, stop the war on Syria." —Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, addressing all political forces in the Arab world. "Get the fighters out of Syria, let the Syrians reconcile," the leader of the Iranian-backed movement said. "Of course if that happened, we would not remain in Syria either." Hezbollah fighters helped turn the tide for Syrian President Bashar Assad in the military struggle against rebels last year. Assad now has a firm hold on much of central Syrian territory around the capital and the Syrian-Lebanese border. The Syria conflict has had a destabilizing effect in Lebanon, which is still recovering from its own 1975-1990 civil war. Earlier on Saturday, security forces found an explosives-rigged car that was headed to Beirut, an army statement said. Nasrallah said his Lebanese opponents, including Hariri's Future movement, could also be targeted by Sunni militants. "If these groups won, would there be a future for the Future party in Lebanon?" he asked. "All of us will be treated the same and the proof is what has happened in Syria…in Afghanistan or Pakistan or Somalia," Nasrallah said, referring to countries where al-Qaida-linked Islamist groups have at times seized territory. Nasrallah said Hezbollah could not allow rebels to win in Syria, characterizing them all as Islamist radicals, and asked his followers for more sacrifice and patience. "The people who died in these bombs – women and children, young and old – are just like our men who have been martyred in Syria," he said. "Is this part of the battle worthwhile? Yes it is worth it." (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 17, 2014)

 

“Pashtuns are the rulers and owners of Afghanistan; they are the real inhabitants of Afghanistan.” —Gen. Abdul Wahid Taqat, a former intelligence official. Taqat added that “Afghanistan means ‘where Pashtuns live.’ ” The words ignited protests in Kabul in December. To contain the uproar, President Hamid Karzai, a Pashtun, had General Taqat arrested and chastised the news media for trying to whip up hatred, something he said many outlets were increasingly doing. 

      "Ethnic tension is limitless.” —Sharifullah Safai, a police officer in East Kabul. “I don’t see a future of stability…the Afghan Army and police will not be able to prevent the Taliban from taking over,” Safai added. “The rise of the Taliban will be a precursor to an ethnic civil war.” (New York Times, Feb. 18, 2014)
 

 

"I think the most eerie thing, the most disgraceful thing, is to have people on the soil of Europe talking about the boycott of Jews. I think that's an outrage, but that is something that we're re-encountering." —Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "In the past, anti-Semites boycotted Jewish businesses, and today they call for the boycott of the Jewish state and, by the way, only the Jewish state," he continued. "Now, don't take my word for it. The founders of the BDS movement make their goals perfectly clear. They want to see the end of the Jewish state. They're quite explicit about it." Netanyahu said. "And I think it's important that the boycotters must be exposed for what they are…they're classical anti-Semites in modern garb. And I think we have to fight them. It's time to delegitimize the delegitimizers." The Palestinian-led movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) has been growing recently, mainly in Europe, where some businesses and pension funds have cut investments or trade with Israeli firms they say are connected to West Bank settlements. (CBN News, Feb. 18, 2014)

SHORT TAKES

 

HAMAS BLOCKS TEXTBOOKS THAT PROMOTE RIGHTS (Gaza) Gaza’s Hamas authorities have blocked a UN refugee agency from introducing textbooks promoting human rights into local schools, saying it ignores Palestinian cultural mores and focuses too heavily on “peaceful” means of conflict resolution. Motesem al-Minawi, spokesman for the Hamas-run Education Ministry, said Thursday that the government believes the curriculum does not match the “ideology and philosophy” of the local population. He said the textbooks, used in grades 7 through 9, did not sufficiently address Palestinian suffering and did not acknowledge the right to battle Israel. “There is a tremendous focus on the peaceful resistance as the only tool to achieve freedom and independence,” he said. Hamas, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and other attacks, says that “armed resistance” is a key component of its struggle against Israel. (National Post, Feb. 13, 2014)

 

RICHARD FALK’S FINAL REPORT ACCUSES ISRAEL OF “INHUMAN ACTS” & “APARTHEID” (Geneva) A controversial United Nations human rights investigator is accusing Israel of “inhuman acts,” and calling on the body world to support a “legitimacy war” against the Jewish state. A new report by Richard Falk, which he will present next month to the UN Human Rights Council as its special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, demands that the world court examine whether Israel is guilty of the international crimes of “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing,” and urges the UN to investigate corporations that profit from “unlawful Israeli activities.” Falk has been condemned by world leaders on multiple occasions for antisemitic acts such as his endorsement of a book that praises Adolph Hitler. As in years before, the upcoming March session is expected to enact half of all its condemnatory resolutions against Israel. Falk’s report is only one of four against Israel. By contrast, there will be no special reports or resolutions on systematic human rights violations committed by major abusers such as China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia. On the contrary, all four of these dictatorships were just elected as members. Likewise, fellow UNHRC members states Algeria, Pakistan, Venezuela and Vietnam will also enjoy immunity. (UN Watch, Feb. 18, 2014)

 

EGYPT: MILITANT GROUP BEHIND DEADLY TOURIST BUS ATTACK (Cairo) An Egyptian Islamist militant group that has carried out months of deadly assaults on the police and the military has claimed responsibility for the bombing of a tourist bus that killed four people in the Sinai Peninsula on Sunday. The assertion by the group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, signaled an ominous turn in a battle militants have waged against the government since the military ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in July. The bombing, in the Sinai town of Taba, was the first attack against tourists in years. Three South Korean citizens and an Egyptian bus driver were killed. In a statement posted on jihadist websites late Monday, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis said that the bombing was part of an “economic war against this regime of traitors.” (New York Times, Feb. 18, 2014)

 

EGYPT PROSECUTOR CHARGES 4, INCLUDING 2 ISRAELIS, WITH SPYING (Cairo) Egyptian authorities on Tuesday charged two Israelis and two Egyptians with forming an espionage ring for Israel, the second such trial to be called for in a month. Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat alleged that the two Israelis are Mossad officers, and that two Egyptians, including a woman, helped provide them with information. Prosecutors alleged in a statement that the Egyptian man had offered his services to Israel in 2009, and the Israeli officers provided training on gathering information and the use of sophisticated technology to send information to Israel. Earlier this month, the trial of eight people including five Israelis and three Egyptians on similar charges began in a court in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia. The trials are taking place amid near-daily reports of plots in the media, with foreign parties regularly accused of conspiring with the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group to destabilize Egypt. (Montreal Gazette, Feb. 18, 2014)

 

IRAQI CLERIC, EXITING POLITICS, URGES OTHERS TO KEEP SERVING (Baghdad) Moktada al-Sadr, the influential anti-American Shiite cleric, reaffirmed in a speech in Najaf on Tuesday that he was withdrawing from Iraqi politics, telling his followers in Parliament to continue to serve but not on his behalf. The speech disappointed supporters who hoped that his retirement, announced Saturday on his website, was a tactical move that he would soon reverse, as he had before. But it was welcomed by many political analysts, who said the country would benefit from greater separation between religion and politics. Sadr criticized the current Maliki government, saying it was behaving like a dictatorship and was using the army against the people. “Iraq is under a black cloud, bloodshed and wars, killing each other in the name of law and religion,” Sadr said, adding that the country had “no life, no agriculture, no industry, no services, no security and no peace.” Sadr’s withdrawal “is the first modern, unique step from a religious leader to put religion away from politics,” said Saad Saloom, a professor of political science at Al Mustansiriya University. (New York Times, Feb. 18, 2014)

 

PAKISTAN: EXECUTIONS THREATEN GOVERNMENT'S TALKS WITH TALIBAN (Peshawar) The Pakistani government’s improbable bid to negotiate a truce with Islamist insurgents verged on collapse Monday after reports that militants had executed 23 paramilitary soldiers held captive since 2010. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the “heinous, criminal act” and government negotiators canceled scheduled talks with Islamist representatives. A militant group operating in the Mohmand tribal area, in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border, issued a statement late Sunday claiming responsibility for the killings of the Frontier Corps paramilitary soldiers, believed to have been captured in an attack on a checkpoint in 2010. The militant group, which operates under the umbrella of the outlawed Pakistani Taliban, said the soldiers were executed in retaliation for the deaths of the group's supporters in military custody. (Los Angeles Times, Feb. 17, 2014)

 

DENMARK BANS KOSHER SLAUGHTER (Copenhagen) Kosher slaughtering becomes illegal in Denmark starting Monday, and the move has stirred the ire of Jewish organizations in that country and worldwide. "Animal rights precede religious rights, I am for religious slaughter, but it must be done in a way that does not bring pain to the animal. This can be accomplished only by stunning," Danish Food and Agriculture Minister Dan Jorgensen told reporters, after approving the law. European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin called on Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt to lift the ban. The Jewish population in Denmark stands at around 6,000, largely centered in Copenhagen. Speaking to EU officials, Margolin said the Danish government's decision contravened EU laws protecting religious freedom to slaughter animals according to religious guidelines, and that he was calling on Denmark to provide an explanation. (Israel Hayom, Feb. 14, 2014)

 

HUNGARIAN NATIONALISTS HOLD RALLY IN FORMER SYNAGOGUE (Budapest) Hungary’s far-right Jobbik Party held a political rally in a former synagogue, despite protests. The rally by the party, whose ultra-nationalist platform is laced with antisemitism and anti-Roma policy, was held Saturday night in the former synagogue in the town of Esztergom, located 29 miles north of Budapest. The building currently is operated by the local government as a cultural and meeting center. Several hundred demonstrators protested the meeting. They stood outside the former synagogue during the Jobbik rally reading the names of the 500 Holocaust victims who were deported to Auschwitz from the town in 1944. Jobbik party leader Gabor Vona told the demonstrators that “there is an atmosphere of hysteria due to the Holocaust Memorial Year in Hungary, which wants to make Hungarians feel guilty.” (Kosher Press, Feb. 16, 2014)

 

HUNGARIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY DISCOVERS 100 HOLOCAUST-ERA TORAH SCROLLS CONFISCATED IN WWII (Budapest) Budapest’s Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation (EMIH) on Monday said it will announce details regarding the discovery of more than 100 Holocaust-era Torah Scrolls that had been confiscated during World War II. In a statement, EMIH called a press conference for Tuesday at Budapest’s Obuda Synagogue, where Executive Rabbi Shlomo Koves “will announce a historic discovery of the largest single collection of priceless confiscated sacred property of the Hungarian Jewish community in the Holocaust.” (Algemeiner, Feb. 17, 2014)

 

ISRAELI START-UP VIBER PURCHASED FOR 900M BY ELECTRONICS GIANT (Tel Aviv) The Israeli-founded voice and video communications app Viber has been purchased for $900 million by the Japanese electronics giant Rakuten. Hiroshi Mikitani, the Japanese billionaire who controls Rakuten, said Viber will help provide a distribution channel for his company’s digital products. Viber has more than 300 million users of its instant messaging and free Internet phone services. The purchase of Viber is the third major takeover of an Israeli start-up company in the past year. In June 2013, Google acquired the social networking traffic app Waze for close to a billion dollars, while IBM acquired the cyber-security company Trusteer in August. (Jewish Tribune, Feb. 18, 2014)

 

ISRAEL PRODUCES "LASER BEAM" DEFENSE TECHNOLOGY (Tel Aviv) Dubbed the "Iron Beam," the system users fast-acting laser technology to shoot down incoming rockets at close range. "It's exactly like what you see in 'Star Wars,' " said Amit Zimmer, a spokesman for the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems company producing the beam, told the Associated Press. "You see the lasers go up so quickly, like a flash, and the target is finished." The Iron Beam is designed to take down short-range missiles too fast to be targeted by Israel's wildly successful Iron Dome system. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems is the same company working with the US to develop the David's Sling and Arrow 3 defense systems. (Virtual Jerusalem, Feb. 16, 2014)

 

2,300-YEAR-OLD VILLAGE UNEARTHED ON ROAD TO JERUSALEM (Jerusalem) Israeli archaeologists have discovered the remnants of a 2,300-year-old rural settlement near the "Burma Road" that leads to Jerusalem. The Israel Antiquities Authorities recently completed excavations at the site ahead of the construction of a 25-kilometer-long natural gas pipeline, which will run from the coast to the outskirts of Jerusalem. The route of the pipeline will now bypass this archeological site. The excavation uncovered 750 square meters of a settlement with stone houses and a series of narrow alleyways that were occupied for an estimated two centuries during the Second Temple Period, from 530 BCE and 70 CE. (Ha’aretz, Feb. 18, 2014)

 

On Topic Links

 

The Salafi Menace in Sinai Goes After a Soft Target: Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 17, 2014—Salafi jihadist terrorists based in Sinai struck again on Sunday, but unlike most of their recent targets, this time it was foreign tourists who were at the receiving end of their fanatical violence.

Syria Peace Plan: Kenneth Bandler, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 3, 2014—Does Syria have a future or is this Arab country doomed? The answer is not any clearer following the Geneva II peace talks.

The Shame of Princeton: Sohrab Ahmari, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 14, 2014—No matter how deep into the political fever swamps some scholars wade, it seems, progressive academe won't shun them.

Oxfam’s Middle East Blinders: Gerald M. Steinberg, National Post, Feb. 14, 2014—Global humanitarian aid and human rights groups, such as Oxfam, which have massive budgets and large staffs, wield a great deal of power.

 

.

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

ISRAEL: IDF: STANDING UP TO HAMAS’ TUNNELS, HEZBOLLAH’S ROCKETS, AND A LOOMING NUCLEAR IRAN— THE IDF FINDS TIME FOR MILITARY COOPERATION

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

 



                                           

A Raid on Iran? Uri Sadot, Weekly Standard, Jan. 6, 2014— As world powers debate what a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran should look like, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to maintain that Israel is not bound by the interim agreement that the P5+1 and Iran struck in Geneva…

Security Analysis of the IDF Intelligence Chief: IDF Blog, Jan. 30, 2014— For the first time in decades, enemy forces can attack all of Israel’s cities, Chief of the IDF Intelligence Directorate Major General Aviv Kochavi said on Wednesday.

Terror Underground: How Hamas Is Digging Tunnels and Building Rockets in Gaza: IDF Blog, Feb. 3, 2014 — Although 2013 saw fewer rocket attacks than previous years, terrorist organizations in Gaza are actively preparing to attack Israel.

India-Israel Defense Cooperation: Alvite Singh Ningthoujam, Besa Center, Jan. 27, 2014— Defense relations between India and Israel have come a long way, against all odds.

 

On Topic Links

 

'Above and Beyond: The Birth of the Israeli Air Force' (Video): Vimeo, 2013

Mapping Israel's Enemies (Video): Mark Langfan, Youtube, Oct. 30, 2013

IDF Looks on With Concern as 'People's Army' Model Faces Challenges: Ya’akov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 11, 2014

Going Green: Israeli Military Chooses Solar Energy over Diesel: IDF Blog, Feb. 5, 2014

 

A RAID ON IRAN?                                                                              

Uri Sadot

Weekly Standard, Jan. 6, 2014

 

As world powers debate what a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran should look like, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to maintain that Israel is not bound by the interim agreement that the P5+1 and Iran struck in Geneva on November 24. Israel, says Netanyahu, “has the right and the obligation to defend itself.” One question then is whether Netanyahu actually intends to strike Iranian nuclear facilities. The other question, no less important, is whether Israel could really pull it off.

 

American analysts are divided on Israel’s ability to take effective military action. However, history shows that Israel’s military capabilities are typically underestimated. The Israel Defense Forces keep finding creative ways to deceive and cripple their targets by leveraging their qualitative advantages in manners that confound not only skeptical observers but also, and more important, Israel’s enemies. 

 

Military triumphs like the Six-Day War of June 1967 and the 1976 raid on Entebbe that freed 101 hostages are popular Israeli lore for good reason—these “miraculous” victories were the result of assiduously planned, rehearsed, and well-executed military operations based on the elements of surprise, deception, and innovation, core tenets of Israeli military thinking. Inscribed on one of the walls of the IDF’s officer training academy is the verse from Proverbs 24:6: “For by clever deception thou shalt wage war.” And this has been the principle driving almost all of Israel’s most successful campaigns, like the 1981 bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor, the 1982 Beka’a Valley air battle, and the 2007 raid on Syria’s plutonium reactor, all of which were thought improbable, if not impossible, until Israel made them reality. 

 

And yet in spite of Israel’s record, some American experts remain skeptical about Israel’s ability to do anything about Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities. Even the most optimistic assessments argue that Israel can only delay the inevitable. As a September 2012 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies contends: “Israel does not have the capability to carry out preventive strikes that could do more than delay Iran’s efforts for a year or two.” An attack, it continued, “would be complex and high risk in the operational level and would lack any assurances of a high mission success rate.” Equally cautious is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, who argued that while “Israel has the capability to strike Iran and to delay the production or the capability of Iran to achieve a nuclear weapons status,” such a strike would only delay the program “for a couple of years.” The most pessimistic American assessments contend that Israel is all but neutered. Former director of the CIA Michael Hayden, for instance, said that airstrikes capable of seriously setting back Iran’s nuclear program are beyond Israel’s capacity.

 

Part of the reason that Israeli and American assessments diverge is the difference in the two countries’ recent military histories and political cultures. While the American debate often touches on the limits of military power and its ability to secure U.S. interests around the globe, the Israeli debate is narrower, befitting the role of a regional actor rather than a superpower, and focuses solely on Israel’s ability to provide for the security of its citizens at home. That is to say, even if Israel and the United States saw Iran and its nuclear arms program in exactly the same light, there would still be a cultural gap. Accordingly, an accurate understanding of how Israelis see their own recent military history provides an important insight into how Israel’s elected leaders and military officials view the IDF’s abilities regarding Iran. 

 

Any account of surprise and deception as key elements in Israeli military history has to start with the aerial attack that earned Israel total air supremacy over its adversaries in the June 1967 war. Facing the combined Arab armies, most prominently those of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, Israel’s Air Force was outnumbered by a ratio of 3 planes to 1. Nonetheless, at the very outset of the war, the IAF dispatched its jets at a time when Egyptian pilots were known to be having breakfast. Israeli pilots targeted the enemy’s warplanes on their runways, and in two subsequent waves of sorties, destroyed the remainder of the Egyptian Air Force, as well as Jordan’s and most of Syria’s. Within six hours, over 400 Arab planes, virtually all of the enemy’s aircraft, were in flames, with Israel losing only 19 planes.

 

Israel’s sweeping military victory over the next six days was due to its intimate familiarity with its enemy’s operational routines—and to deception. For instance, just before the actual attack was launched, a squad of four Israeli training jets took off, with their radio signature mimicking the activity of multiple squadrons on a training run. Because all of Israel’s 190 planes were committed to the operation, those four planes were used to make the Egyptians believe that the IAF was simply training as usual. The IAF’s stunning success was the result not only of intelligence and piloting but also of initiative and creativity, ingredients that are nearly impossible to factor into standard predictive models. 

The 1981 raid on Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak is another example of Israel’s ability to pull off operations that others think it can’t. The success caught experts by surprise because every assessment calculated that the target was out of the flight range of Israel’s newly arrived F-16s. The former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Israel Bill Brown recounted that on the day after the attack, “I went in with our defense attaché, Air Force Colonel Pete Hoag, to get a briefing from the chief of Israeli military intelligence. He laid out how they had accomplished this mission. .  .  . Hoag kept zeroing in on whether they had refueled the strike aircraft en route, because headquarters of the U.S. Air Force in Washington wanted to know, among other things, how in the world the Israelis had refueled these F-16s. The chief of Israeli military intelligence kept saying: ‘We didn’t refuel.’ For several weeks headquarters USAF refused to believe that the Israelis could accomplish this mission without refueling.” 

 

Washington later learned that Israel’s success came from simple and creative field improvisations. First, the pilots topped off their fuel tanks on the tarmac, with burners running, only moments before takeoff. Then, en route, they jettisoned their nondetachable fuel drop tanks to reduce air friction and optimize gas usage. Both these innovations involved some degree of risk, as they contravened safety protocols. However, they gave the Israeli jets the extra mileage needed to safely reach Baghdad and return, and also to gain the element of surprise by extending their reach beyond what the tables and charts that guided thinking in Washington and elsewhere had assumed possible.

Surprise won Israel a similar advantage one year later in the opening maneuvers of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. For students of aerial warfare, the Beka’a Valley air battle is perhaps Israel’s greatest military maneuver, even surpassing the June 1967 campaign. On June 9, Israel destroyed the entire Soviet-built Syrian aerial array in a matter of hours. Ninety Syrian MiGs were downed and 17 of 19 surface-to-air missile batteries were put out of commission, while the Israeli Air Force suffered no losses. The brutal—and for Israel, still controversial—nature of the Lebanon war of which this operation was part dimmed its shine in popular history, but the operation is still studied around the world. At the time it left analysts dumbfounded.                                                                                                             

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

                                                                   

Contents
                                       
                       SECURITY ANALYSIS OF THE IDF INTELLIGENCE CHIEF                   

IDF Blog, Jan. 30, 2014

 

For the first time in decades, enemy forces can attack all of Israel’s cities, Chief of the IDF Intelligence Directorate Major General Aviv Kochavi said on Wednesday. “About 170,000 rockets and missiles are pointed at Israel, and they are deadlier than ever,” the intelligence chief said. “Many of these weapons can be fired deep into Israel’s territory.” Speaking at the annual conference of The Institute for National Security Studies, Maj. Gen. Kochavi described Israel’s rising security challenges, ranging from regional instability, to organized terrorism and Global Jihad. “Every day, the enemy continues to advance,” he said. “For the first time in many years, Israel is almost completely surrounded by threats. These are not potential threats, but threats posed by an active enemy.”

 

Maj. Gen. Kochavi estimated that Hezbollah, the terrorist organization positioned along Israel’s northern border, now possesses 100,000 rockets and missiles. The extraordinary size of this stockpile redefines Hezbollah’s capabilities, placing it in the category of a “semi-military” organization. “Hezbollah is no longer a terrorist organization in the most basic sense of the term,” the intelligence chief stressed. “An organization that has more than 100,000 rockets resembles a military more than a terrorist organization.”

This change in definition applies to terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East, Maj. Gen. Kochavi stressed. “The line between ‘terrorist organization’ and ‘military’ is becoming increasingly blurred,” he warned. “They possess advanced anti-tank missiles and mortars. The same goes for Hamas,” the Gaza-based terrorist organization whose rockets threaten millions of Israeli civilians. “Thousands of our enemies’ missiles are armed with warheads and 700-900 kilograms of explosive material,” the intelligence chief said. “These weapons can define the course of war and our decision making [in battle]. As long as our enemies have rockets that threaten every part of Israel, they can continue to wage a war, even after we have taken [parts of enemy] territory.”

 

Terrorist groups near Israel have changed the nature of war, moving from open spaces into urban areas. “The enemy is hiding in cities and villages, wearing civilian clothing while equipped with advanced weaponry. Tens of kilometers of underground tunnels exist in Gaza and Southern Lebanon.” IDF forces must quickly adapt to this evolving reality of asymmetric warfare, Maj. Gen. Kochavi said. “Today we must provide them with precise details about every rocket launching site. Otherwise, the enemy will continue to fire on the Israeli population.”

 

In the wake of the Arab Spring, governments throughout the Middle East have lost control of their populations.  This widespread phenomenon of fragmentation has confronted Israel with an evolving and uncertain reality. “The Syrian side of the Golan region has fallen under the control of several different powers,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said. “Every village is controlled by different authorities, including the Syrian Free Army, Jihadist groups and the Syrian military.” The intelligence chief pointed to Global Jihad as “the most troubling phenomenon of all,” explaining that about 30,000 Global Jihad operatives are active in Syria. “Syria has turned into a magnet for these operatives – from Europe, Asia, Australia and even the Americas,” he said. “They may not take over Haifa, but for the first time in history, they are injecting a radical religious ideology against the west into the Middle East.” Maj. Gen. Kochavi focused on similar challenges in the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, where a changing landscape is creating uncertainty for Israel. “All of the small groups in these areas can become larger. This creates a tremendous challenge for the Intelligence Corps.”

 

The IDF is quickly enhancing its readiness for threats, improving its intelligence capabilities to maintain its edge over the enemy. Advancements in cyber defense constitute a major part of these efforts. “Today, the intelligence we used to gather with 40 people is now obtained with four,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said. “Cyber defense, in my modest opinion, will soon be revealed to be the biggest [military] revolution in the past century, more than gunpowder and the use of air power.” As he discussed upgraded capabilities in the air force and the navy, he focused on Israel’s tremendous strides in intelligence. “We are upgrading our units in order to obtain intelligence through greater means,” he said. “We are obtaining better-processed and more diverse intelligence from more sources, and we are providing it to our fighters.”

                                                                       

                                                                         

Contents
                                        

INDIA-ISRAEL DEFENSE COOPERATION                                       

Alvite Singh Ningthoujam

BESA Center, Jan. 27, 2014

 

Defense relations between India and Israel have come a long way, against all odds. Israel has emerged as India’s second-largest arms supplier, behind only Russia, with bilateral arms trade over the last decade estimated at $10 billion. 2013 witnessed major developments in India-Israel defense cooperation, most of which involved enhancing arms trade and furthering joint projects. There were certain constraints as well, none of which curbed ties.

 

Israel has carved its niche in India by supplying some of the most sought-after weapons systems, with the exception of bigger platforms, such as aircraft. The January 2013 visit to Israel by India’s former air force commander, Air Marshal N. A. K. Browne, further bolstered ties. Military officials from both countries discussed upgrading cooperation, specifically in the area of drones. Browne also expressed India’s desire to acquire Israeli-made air-to-air missiles, along with other precision-guided munitions. India also pushed for additional joint missile projects, despite Israel’s delay in the development of its own joint medium-range surface-to-air missile project.

 

In mid-2013, India considered buying Israel’s Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems. While at first Indian officials were hesitant to commit to Iron Dome, on the grounds that it would be ineffective for India’s long borders and congested air space, it has since been believed that Israel’s willingness to share the sophisticated technology behind the system may alter India’s decision. If these deals go through, they will not only benefit Israel, whose military industries and defense R&D largely depend upon arms sales, but will also enhance India’s air defense capabilities against her adversaries.

 

The US as a competitor in India-Israel arms trade surfaced in 2013. The US has long tried tapping into the Indian defense market, but its reservations over technology transfers remain a roadblock. However, efforts for such agreements are underway. The latest example is the US proposal to forge a joint venture partnership with India for the development of next-generation Javelin anti-tank missiles. This deal almost caused India to reverse its decision to purchase Israeli-made Spike anti-tank guided missiles. However, no major breakthrough has yet been reported, and the Spike was back on the Indian Army’s acquisition agenda in November 2013.

 

Another concern was the November 2013 interim nuclear deal between the US and Iran. With the thawing of US-Iran ties, certain doubts were raised about the impact of the deal on India-Israel defense cooperation, specifically because of past defense cooperation between India and Iran. Israel watched these ties cautiously, concerned that India might transfer Israeli-based military technology or training to Iran. However, with an agreement for a nuclear deal between India and the US in 2005, Israel’s worries over Indo-Iranian defense ties gradually dissipated. The initiative would see India place its nuclear facilities under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The US agreed, recognizing India’s non-proliferation record despite its refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. With certain preconditions from the US, India scaled down its defense ties with Iran, which have since remained almost non-existent.

 

India’s increasing focus on Iran has brought the possibility of a resumption of military ties. In July 2013, the Iranian Ambassador to India expressed interest in enhancing defense ties with India, a sentiment that was reciprocated by Indian Defense Minister A. K. Antony. Discussions were held to initiate more bilateral defense exchanges between the two countries. In December, two Iranian warships and a submarine paid a “goodwill” visit to Mumbai, and naval officials from both countries called for close naval cooperation. In addition, the need for a “framework for joint cooperation and security for vessels in India’s western waters to the Persian Gulf” was suggested. If New Delhi and Tehran succeed in furthering their now-dormant defense ties, the latter would lure Indian defense planners with its military equipment such as ground surveillance radar systems, personnel carriers, drones, destroyers, submarines, and missile-launching frigates. Only time will tell how the military-security relations between India and Iran unfold.

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

 

                                                                                 

                                                                                               

 Contents
                                  

TERROR UNDERGROUND: HOW HAMAS IS DIGGING TUNNELS AND         BUILDING ROCKETS IN GAZA                                                  

 IDF Blog, Feb. 3, 2014

 

Although 2013 saw fewer rocket attacks than previous years, terrorist organizations in Gaza are actively preparing to attack Israel. Under the guidance of engineering experts, Hamas continues to dig underground, building dozens of tunnels used to attack and kidnap Israelis. The terrorist organization is also manufacturing powerful weapons, producing rockets that can reach major Israeli cities such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

 

During the past several years, civilians living in the Gaza Strip have become experts in building underground tunnels. Such smuggling tunnels have been used by terrorists to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians and military personnel. In 2006, armed terrorists infiltrated Israel through a smuggling tunnel, killing two soldiers and taking hostage a third – Gilad Shalit. This growing trend is directly linked to the policies of Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules the Gaza Strip. Hamas’ military wing devotes about twenty percent of its budget to building these tunnels inside Gaza, many of which lead under the border into Israel.

 

In October 2013, IDF soldiers discovered the opening of a tunnel built by Gazan terrorists near the Israeli community of Ein Hashlosha. The tunnel, which stretched into Israel from the Gazan city of Khan Yunis, was approximately 1.7 kilometers long and 18 meters deep. According to experts, digging tunnels in the region’s terrain requires advanced knowledge of how they are built. This suggests that the terror tunnel was designed and constructed by professionals. “Today, there’s one Gaza Strip above ground, and another one underground,” says a senior officer in the IDF Intelligence Corps. “Tunneling has existed [in Gaza] since the mid 1990s, but it has really grown into an industry. More funds are invested in it – we’re talking about millions of dollars every year – and the need for engineers are growing.”

 

Today, the tunnels in Gaza pose as much of a threat as Hamas’ weapons. “Our estimate is that there are tens of tunnels from Gaza into Israel, only half of which we know about,” the officer says.  “Hamas pays professionals to train special military units that have one simple purpose: to dig and tunnel underground.”

 

Since the end of Operation Pillar of Defense, in November 2012, Hamas has been busy rebuilding its arsenal. Because importing weapons has become more difficult for Hamas, the terrorist organization has begun manufacturing rockets inside of the Gaza Strip. Today Hamas is producing its own rockets, namely the M-75, which can reach as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

 

Hamas routinely parades the streets of Gaza with the rocket to show off its strength. These public displays allow Hamas to establish its dominance in Gaza while inspiring members of the younger generation to join its ranks.

“They focus on rockets of higher quality,” explains the officer. “During Operation Pillar of Defense, only five M-75 rockets were fired, but we expect more in a future conflict.” The rocket is only one part of Hamas’ expanding arsenal. Today there are more than 10,000 rockets, mortar shells and ammunition in the hands of the Gaza terrorists.                                                                                                                  

 

Contents

 

'Above and Beyond: The Birth of the Israeli Air Force' (Video): Vimeo, 2013 — Sample Reel for forthcoming documentary feature "Above and Beyond: The Birth of the Israeli Air Force" currently in production.

Mapping Israel's Enemies (Video): Mark Langfan, Youtube, Oct. 30, 2013— Mark Langfan of Americans for a Safe Israel examines Israel's borders with a set of interactive maps and what a Palestinian State in Judea and Samaria means for the entire State of Israel.

IDF Looks on With Concern as 'People's Army' Model Faces Challenges: Ya’akov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 11, 2014 — The IDF was not surprised on Monday when a Knesset committee voted in favor of shortening mandatory military service for men from 36 months to 32, but it is viewing the development with concern.

Going Green: Israeli Military Chooses Solar Energy over Diesel: IDF Blog, Feb. 5, 2014 — The IDF is the largest organization in Israel, with bases across the country. That means we have a responsibility to protect not just the people of Israel, but its environment too.

 

 Contents:         

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. PRESIDENT’S DAY 2014 IS NOTHING TO CELEBRATE: OBAMA’S RECORD ON “OBAMACARE”, BENGHAZI AND FOREIGN POLICY HAVE BEEN ABYSMAL

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

 



                                           

Obama's Hollow Promises Abroad: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, Feb. 12, 2014— As U.S. credibility and stature diminish in world affairs, the American president and his secretaries of state and defence engage in eloquent denial.

Obamacare’s War on Jobs: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Feb. 13, 2014 — In the ongoing saga of the Affordable Care Act, oddly referred to by Democrats as the law of the land even as it is amended at will by presidential fiat, we are beginning to understand the extent of its war on jobs.

Switching Sides: Richard Baehr, Israel Hayom, Jan. 24, 2014 — Earlier this week, The New Yorker published a 17,000 word article by its editor, David Remnick, summarizing his time spent recently in travels with President Barack Obama.

Credulous and Tendentious on Benghazi: National Review, Dec. 31, 2013— The New York Times has published a strange but unsurprising account of the attacks that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012…

 

On Topic Links

 

Syria Will Haunt the President and his Advisers: Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, Feb. 17, 2014

Handing the Middle East to Russia: Amir Taheri, New York Post, Feb. 16, 2014

Syria Will Haunt the President and his Advisers: Jennifer Rubin, Feb. 17, 2014

Stop Jerking Canada Around: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Jan. 23, 2013   

Survey: U.S. Press Freedom Plunges Under Obama to 46th in World, After Romania: Meghan Drake

, Washington Times, Feb. 11, 2014

The President Inhales: Wall Street Journal, Jan. 21, 2014

 

OBAMA'S HOLLOW PROMISES ABROAD                      

Daniel Pipes                                                                        

Washington Times, Feb. 12, 2014

 

As U.S. credibility and stature diminish in world affairs, the American president and his secretaries of state and defence engage in eloquent denial. Unfortunately for them, realities trump words, even persuasive ones.

At the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, “where the water-cooler chatter was about America’s waning influence in the Middle East,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry proclaimed himself “perplexed by claims … that somehow America is disengaging from the world.” Nothing could be further from the truth, he asserted: “We are entering an era of American diplomatic engagement that is as broad and as deep as any at any time in our history.” Likewise, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has called for “a renewed and enhanced era of partnership with our friends and allies.”

 

In this spirit, President Obama has made multiple promises to reassure allies. To South Korea, which depends on the American “tripwire” to deter a demented dictator who could flatten Seoul within the first few hours of an artillery barrage, Mr. Obama promised that “the commitment of the United States to the Republic of Korea will never waver.” To Japan, which depends on the U.S. 7th Fleet to deter increasingly aggressive Chinese encroachment on the Senkaku Islands, he reaffirmed that “the United States remains steadfast in its defense commitments to Japan,” which the State Department specifically indicated includes the Senkaku Islands. To Taiwan, whose security against mainland China depends on the American deterrent, he “reaffirmed our commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act,” which requires the United States to maintain the capacity “to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security” of Taiwan. To the Philippines, worried about its territories in the South China Sea claimed by China, particularly the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Reef, he reaffirmed a commitment to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty that provides, in the event of an armed attack, that the United States “would act to meet the common dangers.” To Saudi Arabia, alarmed by Mr. Obama’s appeasement of Iran in the Joint Plan of Action, he reiterated “the firm commitment of the United States to our friends and allies in the Gulf.” Finally, to Israel, isolated in a sea of enemies, Mr. Obama declared “America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security,” because standing by Israel “is in our fundamental national security interest.”

 

The trouble is, first, that Americans doubt these fine and steadfast words. Record numbers of Americans think that U.S. global power and prestige are declining, according to the Pew Research Center. For the first time in surveys dating back to the 1970s, “a majority (53 percent) says the United States plays a less important and powerful role as a world leader than it did a decade ago,” while only 17 percent thought American power has been enhanced. An even larger majority, 70 percent, “say the United States is less respected than in the past.” Another 51 percent say Mr. Obama is “not tough enough” in foreign policy and national security issues. More than two-thirds have a negative opinion of the president’s handling of Iran, the Mellman Group found. A majority (54 percent to 37 percent) support targeted military strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities, rather than allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons. McLaughlin & Associates finds that 49 percent of respondents think America’s standing has been diminished during Mr. Obama’s five-plus years in office; 40 percent think America’s adversaries now look at Mr. Obama with contempt.

 

Second, the Pew Research Center reports that half the populations in Britain, France and Germany, as well as a third in the United States and Russia, see China eventually replacing the United States as the world’s leading superpower. Two-thirds of Israelis think Mr. Obama will not stop the Iranians from getting nuclear weapons. Third, world leaders in countries as varied as Japan, Poland and Israel hear Mr. Obama’s promises as unrelated to reality. Speaking for many, Josef Joffe of Germany’s Die Zeit weekly finds “consistency and coherence to Obama’s attempt to retract from the troubles of the world, to get the U.S. out of harm’s way. to be harsh about it, he wants to turn the U.S. into a very large medium power.” Successful “diplomatic engagement,” as Mr. Kerry calls it, must be backed by consistency, power and will, not by nice words, hollow promises and wishful thinking. Will the Obama administration realize this before doing permanent damage? Watch the Iranian nuclear deal for possible changes, or not.

 

[Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, is a CIJR Academic Fellow]

 

                                               Contents
                                        

OBAMACARE’S WAR ON JOBS                                                        

Charles Krauthammer

Washington Post, Feb. 13, 2014

 

In the ongoing saga of the Affordable Care Act, oddly referred to by Democrats as the law of the land even as it is amended at will by presidential fiat, we are beginning to understand the extent of its war on jobs. First, the Congressional Budget Office triples its estimate of the drop in the workforce resulting from the disincentive introduced by Obamacare’s insurance subsidies: 2 million by 2017, 2.3 million by 2021.

 

Democratic talking points gamely defend this as a good thing because these jobs are being given up voluntarily. Nancy Pelosi spoke lyrically about how Obamacare subsidies will allow people to leave unfulfilling jobs to pursue their passions: “Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance.”

 

Nothing so lyrical has been written about work since Marx (in “The German Ideology”) described a communist society that “makes it possible for me to . . . hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner.” Pelosi’s vision is equally idyllic except for one thing: The taxes of the American factory worker — grinding away dutifully at his repetitive mind-numbing job — will be subsidizing the voluntary unemployment of the artiste in search of his muse. A rather paradoxical position for the party that poses as tribune of the working man.

 

In the reductio ad absurdum of entitlement liberalism, White House spokesman Jay Carney was similarly enthusiastic about this Obamacare-induced job loss. Why, Obamacare creates the “opportunity” that “allows families in America to make a decision about how they will work, and if they will work.” If they will work? Pre-Obama, people always had the right to quit work to tend full time to the study of butterflies. It’s a free country. The twist in the new liberal dispensation is that the butterfly guy is to be subsidized by the taxes of people who actually work. In the traditional opportunity society, government provides the tools — education, training and various incentives — to achieve the dignity of work and its promise of self-improvement and social mobility. In the new opportunity society, you are given the opportunity for idleness while living parasitically off everyone else. Why those everyone else’s should remain at their jobs — hey! I wanna dance, too! — is a puzzle Carney has yet to explain.

 

The honest liberal reply to the CBO report is that a disincentive to work is inherent in any means-tested government benefit. It’s the unavoidable price of helping those in need because for every new dollar you earn, you lose part of your subsidy and thus keep less and less of your nominal income. That’s inevitable. And that’s why we have learned to tie welfare, for example, to a work requirement. Otherwise, beneficiaries could choose to live off the dole forever. That’s why the 1996 Gingrich-Clinton welfare reform succeeded in reducing welfare rolls by two-thirds. It is not surprising that the same Obama administration that has been weakening the work requirement for welfare is welcoming the disincentive to work inherent in Obamacare.

 

But Obamacare’s war on jobs goes beyond voluntary idleness. The administration is now conceding, inadvertently but unmistakably, Obamacare’s other effect — involuntary job loss. On Monday, the administration unilaterally postponed and weakened the employer mandate, already suspended through 2015, for yet another year. But doesn’t this undermine the whole idea of universal health coverage? Of course it does, but Obamacare was so structured that it is crushing small business and killing jobs. It creates a major incentive for small businesses to cut back to under 50 employees to avoid the mandate. Your business becomes a 49er by either firing workers or reducing their hours to below 30 a week. Because that doesn’t count as full time, you escape both the employer mandate to buy health insurance and the fine for not doing so.

 

With the weakest recovery since World War II, historically high chronic unemployment and a shockingly low workforce participation rate, the administration correctly fears the economic consequences of its own law — and of the political fallout for Democrats as millions more Americans lose their jobs or are involuntarily reduced to part-time status. Conservatives have been warning about this for five years. This is not rocket science. Both the voluntary and forced job losses were utterly predictable. Pelosi insisted we would have to pass the law to know what’s in it. Now we know.

                                                                                                 

  Contents
                                  

SWITCHING SIDES                                                             

Richard Baehr                                                               

Israel Hayom, Feb. 17, 2014

 

Earlier this week, The New Yorker published a 17,000 word article by its editor, David Remnick, summarizing his time spent recently in travels with President Barack Obama. That Remnick should get such access to the president is not a surprise, since under his leadership, The New Yorker has shifted in a significant way from a magazine that was once known and widely respected for its fiction, essays and cartoons, to a magazine indistinguishable from many others for its role advancing the favored causes of the Left in the nation's political wars — whether it be hysteria about climate change, bashing Israel and its American supporters, or mocking Tea Party supporters and their preferred candidates, as well as Republicans of any denomination. Previous editor Tina Brown had turned The New Yorker into a Vanity Fair twin with fewer pictures and longer articles. Remnick has made The New Yorker a close relation of The Nation with more fashion ads and better paper stock, and the one constant — longer articles…

 

One part of Remnick's latest article has gotten a fair amount of attention. After the killing of Osama bin Laden, the administration hoped to coast to a 2012 re-election victory with the theme of "Bin Laden is dead (and so is al-Qaida), but General Motors is still alive." The attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, provided an inconvenient truth, as if there were not other evidence around, that al-Qaida will still alive and kicking. It is in light of the campaign's messaging, that the administration's desperate effort to mislead about who was responsible for what happened in Benghazi and why they did what they did, became so important. The New York Times, 16 months after the date of the attack and the killings of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, was still busy doing legwork to buttress the White House's original fabrication that the attack resulted from a spontaneous demonstration aroused by a Muslim-mocking video produced by a Coptic Christian in the United States, that of course, no one in Libya had seen. In any case, the Times author, David Kirkpatrick, maintained that no evidence existed that al-Qaida had its hands in the attack. The Times of course, had multiple objectives with the Kirkpatrick whitewash — make sure Obama came out looking truthful (a big problem after the Obamacare lies), and make Benghazi go away for Hillary Clinton to better enable her to glide to victory in 2016.

 

With chaos seeming to envelop one country after another since the start of the so-called Arab Spring, and the clear involvement of al-Qaida and Sunni terror groups in violence occurring in many countries at the moment, the president has been at pains to justify his sweeping confidence that al-Qaida was a solved problem. Remnick describes the president's latest "all clear" on al-Qaida this way: "In the 2012 campaign, Obama spoke not only of killing Osama bin Laden; he also said that al-Qaida had been 'decimated.' I pointed out that the flag of al-Qaida is now flying in Falluja, in Iraq, and among various rebel factions in Syria; al-Qaida has asserted a presence in parts of Africa, too.

 

"'The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn't make them Kobe Bryant,' Obama said, resorting to an uncharacteristically flip analogy. 'I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.'"

 

Yesterday came news that Israelis had prevented an al-Qaida attack on the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv. The jayvee squad involved was arrested (Laker benchwarmers?). Wednesday's Wall Street Journal in its front page news box had five of the top seven stories relating to Sunni and al-Qaida linked terror attacks…One might think that the president's characterization of the current terror threat from Islamic radicals (of the Sunni persuasion) missed the mark. Does a terror attack on a U.S. embassy count as a major operation? It didn't for Obama and his national security team in Benghazi, so why should a Tel Aviv attack be viewed differently? Would a major attack at the Sochi winter games show evidence that the jayvee team had sent a few of its top stars on to the next level? The president is very confident with sports metaphors, but even Remnick seems uncomfortable with this one. In any case, Kobe and the Lakers are well past their best days, and the shelf life of the "al-Qaida is decimated and on the run" meme seems also to have expired. The Remnick articles speak of Obama feeling the need to address the stale thinking that is so common in America on foreign policy, and work through the new realities that are out there. But the al-Qaida threat seems more like an old reality that is hanging in there, with new delusions about their demise being the real problem with the White House team's thinking.

 

One other prominent new reality for the administration seems to be that Iran is on the verge of becoming a partner of the United States, given how many common goals the two countries share. Again, The New York Times is first with the breakout of the new "special relationship." The new partners have their work cut out for them, since Obama has to deal with interference from Israel which the president and his team, none too subtly suggest is poisoning the waters in Congress (which Obama friend Tom Friedman has argued is controlled by Jews and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee). Rather than threatening new sanctions against Iran for failure to perform under the terms of its current agreement with the P5+1, as a strong bipartisan majority in each branch of Congress prefers, the president is letting slip out that his current plan is to gut the sanctions that are already in place, and that likely forced Iran to begin serious negotiations for the first time.

 

The White House seems to be creating the foreign policy version of "Fifty Ways to Please Your Lover." Abandoning existing allies? Check. Always reading the best into Iranian intentions? Check. Providing fodder for anti-Semites in the U.S., Iran and the region who think Israel controls the U.S. government? Check. Ignoring every public Iranian declaration that puts the lie to their having changed course with their nuclear program? Check. Love can be blind, but in this case, something else may be in play — the administration has switched sides, so it has become part of the Iranian propaganda machine. Maybe the president actually sat through those Reverend Jeremiah Wright sermons.  

                                                                                                      Contents
                                  

CREDULOUS AND TENDENTIOUS ON BENGHAZI                             

National Review, Dec. 31, 2013

 

The New York Times has published a strange but unsurprising account of the attacks that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012 — strange in that it presents the explanations and testimony of terrorists involved in the attack without comment or context, and unsurprising because that account supports the narrative the Obama administration aggressively promoted for weeks after the massacre.

 

The first of the Grey Lady’s two key findings: “Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault.” This means the Times reporter, David Kirkpatrick, has ignored the evidence that al-Qaeda-linked groups, such as the Egypt-based Jamal network, almost surely did have a role in the assault — as reported by the New York Times in October 2012. Such evidence has been uncovered by the American intelligence community, as attested to by Democratic and Republican representatives with knowledge of it.

 

The second finding: The massacre was partly a spontaneous event, and some of the Libyan attackers were angered by a YouTube video that Islamists across the Middle East cited as the inspiration for September 11’s violent demonstrations. This is remarkably thinly sourced — the account admits that “many [of those arriving at the U.S. compound] learned of the video for the first time,” and merely maintains that “Libyan witnesses . . . said they received lectures from the attackers about the evil of the film and the virtue of defending the prophet.” Even the Times didn’t manage to find witnesses who could support the Obama administration’s chronology. Susan Rice told us that a video-related demonstration gave rise to the attack; David Kirkpatrick and his Islamist sources say that those angered by the video arrived at a compound already overrun by attackers who had coordinated their assault.

 

The account is hard to believe on its face: Kirkpatrick pins the planned attack on Ahmed Abu Khattala, a local militia leader who granted him an interview. For his part, Khattala acknowledges his presence at the attacks but says he showed up late — and somehow “strolled coolly through” the raging firefight, Kirkpatrick reports. He heads the Benghazi branch of Ansar al-Sharia, a jihadist organization whose nearby franchise, in a town called Derna, is run by a former Guantanamo Bay detainee and associate of Osama bin Laden. The Derna group denies a role in Benghazi, but the groups share a propaganda outlet, and sources such as the Tunisian prime minister acknowledge there’s mounting evidence that the two groups are one, and connected to the al-Qaeda branch in North Africa. Khattala, like other Benghazi militiamen, gushes about his support for al-Qaeda’s worldwide efforts. Is it so hard to believe that, given the keen interest counterterrorism efforts take in the global network, he has been less than honest about his connection to it and its role in the Benghazi assault?

 

When Islamic terrorists who support the ideology and sport the heraldry of the global al-Qaeda network killed an American ambassador on the anniversary of 9/11, the Obama administration eagerly accepted their version of the story: that locally based protests had responded to offensive Western blasphemy. As the Islamist threat grows, the Obama administration has continually, carefully claimed success in defeating “the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11” — Arabs based in Afghanistan and Pakistan and known as “core al-Qaeda.” But there is evidence, though it’s not dispositive, to suggest that the groups participating in the attack in Benghazi had connections to this group. In fact, core al-Qaeda, now led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, urged the group’s affiliate in Yemen to “do something” on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, and his brother led the attack in Cairo that preceded Benghazi. In Benghazi, Islamist terrorist groups demonstrated, in a tragic and humiliating fashion, an ability to threaten the national-security interests of the United States. Rather than forthrightly address this failure, the administration has given credence to the idea that American deeds — words here, actually — are to blame for Islamist terrorism against the West. This claim is as poorly supported here as ever, but is convenient for this administration’s ideological leanings and political designs.

 

Ultimately, several other conclusions are undeniable: The Times report confirms that our representatives in Benghazi had laughably little security because of the administration’s naïve trust in Islamists, their inability to recognize the threat terrorist groups posed in Libya, and the efforts from the very top to keep the U.S. presence in the country low-profile. Those failures fall, first, at the feet of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. And the men who murdered Americans and humiliated our country have yet to pay any price for their crimes. That failure is ultimately traceable to her superior, President Barack Obama. The president will never contest another election, so he may not have to answer for these failures. The Times has done its best to ensure that Clinton doesn’t have to, either.

 

                                               Contents

Syria Will Haunt the President and his Advisers: Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, Feb. 17, 2014— It must be maddening spinning for the White House.

Handing the Middle East to Russia: Amir Taheri, New York Post, Feb. 16, 2014 —Some 40 years ago, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat ended his regime’s alliance with, and reliance on, the Soviet Union, and, in one of the Cold war’s most dramatic turnabouts, joined the Middle Eastern bloc of nations close to the United States.

Stop Jerking Canada Around: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Jan. 23, 2013— Fixated as we Americans are on Canada’s three most attention-getting exports — polar vortexes, Alberta clippers and the antics of Toronto’s addled mayor — we’ve somewhat overlooked a major feature of Canada’s current relations with the United States: extreme annoyance.  

Survey: U.S. Press Freedom Plunges Under Obama to 46th in World, After Romania: Meghan Drake, Washington Times, Feb. 11, 2014—The Obama administration’s handling of whistleblower Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency leaks and the investigation of a string of leaks produced a plunge in the country’s rating on press freedoms and government openness, according to a global survey released Tuesday.

The President Inhales: Wall Street Journal, Jan. 21, 2014 —To the delight of dorm rooms everywhere, President Obama has all but endorsed marijuana legalization.

 

 Contents:         

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

Daniel Pipes: The Rushdie Fatwa 25 Years Later

Twenty-five years ago today, Ayatollah Khomeini brought his edict down on Salman Rushdie. Iran's revolutionary leader objected to the author's magical-realist novel The Satanic Verses because of its insults to the Muslim prophet Muhammad and responded by calling for the execution of Rushdie and "all those involved in the publication who were aware of its contents."

That Rushdie was born in India, lived in Britain, and had no significant connections to Iran made this an unprecedented act of aggression, one that resounded widely at the time and has subsequently had an enduring impact. Indeed, one could argue that the era of "creeping Shari'a" or "stealth jihad" or "lawful Islamism" began on February 14, 1989, with the issuance of that short edict.

 

If Rushdie, 66, is alive and well (if not exactly flourishing; his writings deteriorated after The Satanic Verses), many others lost their lives in the disturbances revolving around his book. Worse, the long-term impact of the edict has been to constrain the ability of Westerners freely to discuss Islam and topics related to it, what has come to be known as the Rushdie Rules. Long observation of this topic (including a book written in 1989), leads me to conclude that two processes are underway:

 

First, that the right of Westerners to discuss, criticize, and even ridicule Islam and Muslims has eroded over the years.

 

Second, that free speech is a minor part of the problem; at stake is something much deeper – indeed, a defining question of our time: will Westerners maintain their own historic civilization in the face of assault by Islamists, or will they cede to Islamic culture and law and submit to a form of second-class citizenship?

 

Most analyses of the Rushdie Rules focus exclusively on the growth of Islamism. But two other factors are even more important: Multiculturalism as practiced undercuts the will to sustain Western civilization against Islamist depredations while the Left's making common political cause with Islamists gives the latter an entrée. In other words, the core of the problem lies not in Islam but in the West.

 

Originally posted in National Review, Feb. 14, 2014: http://www.nationalreview.com/node/371110/print

 

(Daniel Pipes is a CIJR Academic Council Fellow

and National Review Columnist)