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

Month: March 2014

TURKEY: AKP WIN OVERSHADOWED BY CORRUPTION SCANDAL, SOCIAL MEDIA CENSORSHIP, & CONFRONTATION WITH SYRIA — WILL ISRAEL TIES BE RESTORED?

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 Trouble in Turkey: Tom Rogan, National Review, Mar. 24, 2014— Across the Black Sea, about 330 miles directly south from the Russian forces in Sevastopol, Crimea, is Ankara, Turkey.

Turkey’s Teflon Don: Jonathan Schanzer & Emanuele Ottolenghi, Foreign Policy, Mar. 31, 2014 — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan triumphantly addressed thousands of supporters last night from the balcony of his party's headquarters in the capital of Ankara.

Will Regional and Domestic Challenges Force Renewed Israel-Turkey Normalization?: Sean Savage

, JNS, Mar. 31, 2014 — Today Canada’s foreign minister proved once again why the Great White North is one of the world’s outliers with regard to the Middle East.

The Ottoman Revival Is Over: Elmira Bayrasli, New York Times, Mar. 30, 2014— For Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s embattled prime minister, a win in Sunday’s local elections will be a Pyrrhic victory.

 

On Topic Links

 

Syria Deploys Anti-Aircraft Missile Batteries Along Turkish Border: Ariel Ben Solomon, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 31, 2014

Turkish Leader Disowns Trials That Helped Him Tame Military: Tim Arango, New York Times, Feb. 26, 2014

U.S. Recording Studios Embroiled in Sprawling Turkish Government Scandal: Lisa Fleisher & Joe Parkinson, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 28, 2014

No Crimean Wars for Turkey: Dimitar Bechev, European Council on Foreign Relations, Mar. 13, 2014

                  

THE TROUBLE IN TURKEY                   

Tom Rogan

National Review, Mar. 24, 2014

 

Across the Black Sea, about 330 miles directly south from the Russian forces in Sevastopol, Crimea, is Ankara, Turkey. There you’ll find Recep Tayyip Erdogan — another fervent authoritarian. Last Thursday, Erdogan tried to “wipe out” the ultimate 140-character threat: Twitter. His intention was to dampen allegations of corruption that have engulfed his administration. Then, yesterday, Erdogan answered the questions of those who had been asking whether we’d see a Wag the Dog type of conflict in Syria. In an apparently calculated act, a Turkish air-force jet downed one of Assad’s bombers. In some sense, of course, this air attack wasn’t exactly a bad thing. After all, Assad is using his bombers to annihilate the Syrian people. Nevertheless, considered together, Erdogan’s latest actions should trouble us.

 

For a start, they come from a troubling playbook. At home, Turkey’s leader has repeatedly proven he’s willing to use violence to quell dissent. As Turkish investigative journalists have found, inquiry can easily end up in incarceration. In his foreign policy, Erdogan has shown a similar penchant for extremism, as typified in his reaction to the 2010 Gaza-flotilla incident. As Netanyahu formally apologized for the death of nine Turkish citizens aboard the flotilla, Erdogan cranked up the tension by calling Zionism a “crime against humanity” and comparing it to fascism.

 

The latest incidents continue in this vein and suggest that Erdogan is capable of just about anything. Think about the irrationality of his Twitter war. The Internet is a frontierless informational commons. In political terms, it’s a realm that’s extraordinarily difficult to control. That’s especially so in Turkey, where a young population has easy access to technology. Unsurprisingly, as the BBC explains, Erdogan’s ban is proving to be an unbelievable farce. In fact, far from silencing his critics, the prime minister has only reinforced their vocal anger, as Turkey’s explosion of tweeting illustrates. Turkish society is increasingly fragile — last summer’s bloody showdown in Istanbul’s Taksim Square shows that — and Erdogan seems determined to expand the divisions. In a sign of Turkey’s internal conflicts, even Erdogan’s fellow party leader, the Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, has condemned him, albeit probably in part because he wants Erdogan’s job.

 

These are the facts. But how do we explain the social roots of Turkey’s increasing instability? First, we can blame the battle between Erdogan and Turkey’s political establishment. As Mustafa Akyol has noted, Turkey is suffering from the long-term rot of its political class. Decades of corruption have insulated powerful interest groups at various levels of Turkish political society. Born partly of Turkey’s turbulent military-political history, this rot is made worse by the absence of credible non-partisan institutions and by the flourishing of political patronage. Thus, as Erdogan seeks to consolidate his authority, he’s being challenged by others who are committed to retaining their power.

 

Second, Erdogan’s populist-ideological struggle with Turkish secular society is a destabilizing force. Many secularists once regarded Erdogan as a tolerable figure, but the majority of them now share the Kemalist assessment of him: He’s an existential threat. Fearful of Erdogan’s creeping authoritarianism and of his intoxicated, hectoring diktats (aimed at both public and private behavior), many now see him as the corporeal figurehead for an approaching Islamic dictatorship. Correspondingly, the more aggressive Erdogan becomes in his social restrictions, the louder and more desperate is the opposition response.

 

To be fair, we must accept that Erdogan retains significant popularity within his party, the AKP. Regarding education and the economy (notwithstanding Turkey’s problematic current account deficit), his record is at least somewhat impressive. More important, in his mix of fiery nationalism and genuine Islamism, Erdogan has offered his supporters an imam Ataturk. That ironic character sits well with the AKP party faithful, those who regard Turkey as a proud beacon for political Islam. Still, it’s increasingly clear that Erdogan’s unrestrained ambition is leading his nation down a hard path. In the arrogance and entitlement he displays when attacking his opponents, Erdogan reveals himself as calculating and gleefully undemocratic. In the unpredictability of his Syria policy, he adds another dimension to an already brutally convoluted war. And for a leader so personally associated with political Islam, Erdogan’s paranoid intolerance is an uninspiring example for that cause. Attentive to these truths, Erdogan would be well advised to find some humility. If he fails to do so, Turkey and the world will face an increasingly precarious future.                                    

 

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TURKEY’S TEFLON DON                                                 

Jonathan Schanzer & Emanuele Ottolenghi                                

Foreign Policy, Mar. 31, 2014

 

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan triumphantly addressed thousands of supporters last night from the balcony of his party's headquarters in the capital of Ankara. He thanked his supporters for "protect[ing] the ideal of a great Turkey," and promised to deal decisively with his enemies. Despite a litany of leaks that raised questions of corruption within the top ranks of his government, Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) secured a comfortable victory in the country's municipal elections, which were largely viewed as a referendum on Erdogan himself.

 

With a grueling campaign behind him, Erdogan is riding high. But even if he increasingly looks bulletproof among Turkey's electorate, he still should be worried about how the most recent corruption allegations will damage Turkey's sagging standing in the West. Two weeks ago, a Turkish prosecutor's report that included 300 pages of corruption allegations against his government leaked to local media. The leak was undoubtedly an attempt by Erdogan's enemies to weaken him before the elections — the top suspect is presumably followers of Pennsylvania-based cleric Fetullah Gulen, who have been accused of leaking damning recordings of top Turkish officials discussing everything from how to hide millions of dollars to whether to provoke a war with Syria.

 

The prosecutor's report sheds further light on Turkish involvement in a money-laundering scheme that helped Iran evade international sanctions. It has already been revealed that Turkey helped Iran profit from some $12 billion in illicit gold sales between 2012 and 2013 — but the scope of the money laundering is now alleged to be even greater. The prosecutor's report charges that a raft of front companies and intermediaries across Turkey – with help from entities in Dubai and China — helped launder Iranian oil and gas revenues.

Due to U.S. sanctions, Iran's foreign currency was locked up in escrow accounts overseas that the regime could only use in local currency to buy local products. Turkey now appears to have been Iran's country of choice to circumvent these strictures. The bulk of this illicit activity appears to have been between 2012 and 2013; it's unclear whether it is still ongoing.

 

As the report explains, Turkish front companies issued invoices for fake transactions for goods such as food and medicine that were permissible for Iran under international sanctions. For example, the report cites one May 2013 invoice detailing a luxury yacht company selling nearly 5.2 tons of brown sugar to Iran's Pasargad Bank, with delivery to Dubai, using Turkey's state-owned Halkbank at the whopping price of 1,170 Turkish Lira per kilo — the equivalent of approximately $240 per pound. This is a classic example of a money laundering technique called over-invoicing, which "allows illegal organizations the opportunity to earn, move, and store proceeds disguised as legitimate trade." In this way, at the height of the sanctions regime designed to deprive Iran of cash, Iranian banks accumulated untold sums in hard currency from Halkbank, where Iranian funds from oil and gas sales to Turkey were held in escrow, only to be transferred as approved transactions. Indeed, the bank transactions receipts in the prosecutor's report include assurances that the "goods and services are not related to EUR Reg 423/2007 and 428/2009" — the European legislation restricting authorized exports to Iran.

 

The Turkish network bypassed past sanctions offenders, which had already been cut off from the financial system, and instead moved funds through companies in Turkey and money exchange houses in Dubai (which may well have converted the Turkish lira to more universally-accepted currencies, like dollars or euros). The funds eventually made their way to the handful of Iranian banks — including Karafarin, Pasargad, Parsian, Saman, and others — that were not cut off in 2012 from the SWIFT electronic transfer settlement platform. The Iranian money also passed through China. The prosecutor's report, along with a leaked document believed to have been issued by Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MIT), further asserts that Turkey was working with Chinese banks to process transactions that helped Iran circumvent sanctions. It is unclear whether the banks were aware of this. Nor is it clear whether the five China-based international trading firms were cognizant of their role in the complex financial scheme — but the prosecutor's report specifically demonstrates that there were millions of dollars moved to Iran in bank transactions involving several of these entities. The proof comes in the form of actual SWIFT receipts.

 

The prosecutor's report further alleges that several Dubai-based entities played an integral role in Turkey's illicit scheme with Iran. Al-Nafees Exchange and Al-Massoumi General Trading, based on phone transcripts, are alleged to have issued forged invoices to other companies involved in the scheme. The prosecutor's report also confirms countless stories out of Turkey that identify Reza Zarrab, an Iranian with Turkish nationality, as the lynchpin of this scheme. Barely 29 years old at the time of his arrest, Zarrab rose quickly from obscurity to celebrity gossip status by amassing a fortune and splashing it around. He boasted a pop-star wife, yachts, private jets, a $72-million villa, and a racehorse (registered in his wife's name) aptly named "Duty Free." Zarrab apparently financed his lavish lifestyle by leveraging a complex web of companies — sometimes officially owned by close associates — to rake in healthy commissions on Iranian transactions.

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link  -Ed.]                                       

 

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WILL REGIONAL AND DOMESTIC CHALLENGES FORCE RENEWED ISRAEL-TURKEY NORMALIZATION?                             

Sean Savage

JNS, Mar. 31, 2014

 

Israel’s relations with Turkey, once its closest Muslim ally, have grown increasingly strained under the leadership of Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But after formally severing ties due to the fallout from the May 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, Israel and Turkey are reportedly on the brink of restoring full diplomatic relations. In the midst of a messy election year in which Erdogan faces domestic political backlash over his increasingly authoritarian and Islamist policies, as well as the presence of growing regional threats like Syria and Iran for both Israel and Turkey, what would normalization offer the former allies? “The domestic situation in Turkey is extremely tense and polarized,” Dr. Michael Koplow, who maintains a blog on Turkey and Israel called “Ottomans and Zionists” and serves as the program director at the Washington, DC-based Israel Institute think tank, told JNS.org. “Turkey is quickly hardening into dueling camps of people who believe every allegation that is made against the government and people who believe that none of the allegations have a shred of truth to them,” he said.

 

Since taking office more than a decade ago, Erdogan’s biggest claim to success has been the stability he has brought after decades of military coup d’états. Under his leadership, the economy has dramatically improved and the country’s international profile has grown. But that success has dwindled over the past year, with a growing number of Turks becoming disenchanted with Erdogan’s increasing authoritarian policies, including attacks on the media, judicial system and military as well as political corruption in his AKP party and a stalling economy. This came to a head last summer when protests called the “Gezi Park Protests” erupted in Istanbul and quickly spread to other major Turkish cities…

 

Amid the domestic upheaval, Israel and Turkey are reportedly nearing a deal on restoring ties. A NATO member, Turkey in the past found Israel to be a reliable ally against 20th-century threats like pan-Arabism and communism. But with the rise of Erdogan and his Islamist AKP party, strong ties with the Jewish state became a political liability as Erdogan sought to reassert Turkey’s role as a Middle Eastern power. The situation reached a breaking point in May 2010, when eight Turkish citizens and one Turkish American were killed in clashes after they attacked Israeli soldiers on board the Mavi Marmara flotilla, which was trying to breach Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. The incident led a formal suspension of Israeli-Turkish ties. According to Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, a deal under which Israel would pay compensation to the families of the Turks killed abroad the Mavi Marmara could be signed as early as April, the Daily Hurriyet reported.

 

 “The gap between the expectations of the two sides is closing,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuoglu told AFP. “Progress has been made to a great extent, but the two sides need to meet again for a final agreement.” A flotilla compensation deal would lead to a restoration of full diplomatic ties between Israel and Turkey, including the reopening of embassies. There have even been reports that Erdogan would visit Israel and the Palestinian territories. While reports of the deal appear have appeared in Turkish media and have cited Turkish leaders, the Israeli government has denied that a deal is imminent. Koplow believes the impetus for reconciliation on the Turkish side has come from two places— pressure from the U.S., and a string of foreign policy failures over the past year. “The Turkish government believes that making up with Israel will alleviate some of the recent tension with the U.S., and President Obama reportedly emphasized his expectation that Erdogan make tangible moves toward patching things up,” he told JNS.org.

 

The U.S. has been highly involved in fixing the relationship of its two key Middle East allies. In March 2013, during his publicized trip to Israel, President Barack Obama pushed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to call Erdogan and apologize for the deaths of the Turkish citizens aboard the Mavi Marmara. After the call, Erdogan’s office issued a statement saying that Turkey valued its “friendship” with Israel.Yet since then, negotiations on restoring ties have been slow to bear fruit, despite several rounds of talks over compensation. Some in Israel are skeptical of Erdogan’s true intentions in the negotiations.  “I’m not certain that Erdogan is committed to a deal, as long as he demands the removal of the blockade on Gaza, there is no deal as far as Israel is concerned,” Professor Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University and an expert on Turkish-Israeli relations, told JNS.org.

 

While it remains uncertain if Erdogan is truly motivated to restore ties with Israel, on a geopolitical level, a Turkish-Israeli alliance would enable both countries to confront myriad of regional threats. “An Israeli-Turkish alliance makes sense in a lot of ways. Both countries have need of countering and containing Iranian regional influence, both countries border an increasingly unstable Syria, and both countries can benefit from Israel’s natural gas finds as Turkey is a large energy importer while Israel is now poised to be an exporter,” Koplow said. But the biggest challenge for restoring ties may lie in the growing anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment in Turkey, undoubtedly fostered by Erdogan and his AKP party. While Turkey has a sizable secular population with strong ties with Europe, most Turks, like their counterparts in the rest of the Muslim world, do not have a favorable view of Israel, and anti-Semitism is rampant in the country…            

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

                                                                                                 

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THE OTTOMAN REVIVAL IS OVER                                                             Elmira Bayrasli    

New York Times, Mar. 30, 2014

 

For Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s embattled prime minister, a win in Sunday’s local elections will be a Pyrrhic victory. While his Justice and Development Party, or A.K.P., will likely retain a majority of municipalities, Turkey as a whole, particularly as an international player, has lost. Mr. Erdogan’s decade-plus grip on power has been weakened by anti-government protests, corruption allegations, and an ugly confrontation with the powerful and admired Muslim religious leader Fethullah Gulen. In a desperate effort to prevent any further hemorrhaging of his power, Mr. Erdogan has abandoned the ambitious foreign policy that was the basis for Turkey’s regional resurgence in recent years and has resorted to attacking his enemies. The prime minister is now so fixated on his own political survival that he recently attempted, in vain, to shut down Twitter across the country.

 

It’s a far cry from 2003, when Mr. Erdogan ascended to the premiership and announced a determined and democratic agenda to strengthen Turkey’s economic and global standing. I visited him soon afterward in Turkey’s capital, Ankara. He told me then, “There are approximately 72 million people in this country — and I represent each and every one.” To represent everyone, he pushed for the passage of laws that granted increased freedoms to Turkey’s minorities, particularly the Kurds. He implemented economic policies to increase foreign investment. He reached out to far-flung capitals in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, opening more than a dozen embassies and many new markets. He even secured a rotating seat for Turkey on the United Nations Security Council in 2009 and made contributions to Washington’s “war on terror.”

 

Nearly every road that has been fixed, public transportation project approved, school built and reform passed has been done so with an eye to extending Turkey’s regional and global influence. In 2009, Mr. Erdogan began to advance a “zero problems” foreign policy. The brainchild of his foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, the policy was predicated on the idea that Turkey isn’t merely a “bridge” or “crossroads” between East and West, but an integral player in international diplomacy, security and trade. Turkey sought closer relations with neighbors in the Balkans, Russia, and especially the Middle East. “Zero problems,” guided Mr. Erdogan to deepen ties with Turkey’s southern and eastern neighbors, including Iran and Syria. Both became major trading partners and, in Iran’s case, a vital source for Turkish energy.

 

Some have called it “neo-Ottomanism” — an attempt to restore the former Ottoman Empire and its vanished regional glory. Whatever the label, Turkey managed to become a key foreign policy player in the eyes of American and European leaders. President Obama traveled to Turkey in 2009 and spoke about the country’s strategic importance and increasing global role. During the Arab Spring, Western leaders held Turkey up as a progressive and prosperous democratic model for other Muslim-majority nations. Mr. Erdogan even took Turkey further toward European Union accession than any leader before him. That model has now crumbled and the bold foreign policy agenda that made Turkey the world’s 16th-largest economy has disappeared. The once dynamic economy has weakened, consumer confidence has declined and the Turkish lira has depreciated nearly 20 percent since May 2013.

 

Beset by domestic crises, Mr. Erdogan has turned his focus toward his core constituency, a largely conservative, anti-Western population in the heartland. In doing so he has reverted to a tactic that has resonated with them: aggression. Frantic to recreate the enthusiasm he garnered after storming off a panel with Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, in Davos in 2009 and his decision to cut ties with Israel after Israel attacked a Turkish flotilla in 2010, Mr. Erdogan has ramped up hostile rhetoric against his opponents — abroad and at home. He has attacked what he calls the “interest rate lobby,” called last summer’s protests a “dirty plot by foreign-backed elements,” and blamed the “provocative actions” of “foreign diplomats” for concocting corruption allegations. Recently, he slammed Mr. Gulen and his followers as a “spy ring” seeking to overthrow the government.

 

Moreover, Mr. Erdogan’s current governance strategy has gutted the country’s foreign policy. Nearby Crimea, a former Ottoman stronghold and the native land of the Tatars, an ethnic Turkic people, is a case in point. When Russia invaded and annexed the Black Sea peninsula, Mr. Erdogan failed to come to the defense of his cultural and religious brethren, as he did in Egypt. Indeed, after the Egyptian military ousted Mohamed Morsi in July, Mr. Erdogan dismissed their actions as “illegal,” refused to recognize the new government and recalled Turkey’s ambassador to Cairo. On Crimea, the Turkish prime minister has restricted himself to grunts of disapproval despite the fears of the Tatars who will now fall under Russian control just 70 years after Stalin deported hundreds of thousands of Tatars to Siberia.

 

Mr. Erdogan may believe that his tactics have worked. But in the long run, he’ll have to accept that his increased belligerence has isolated his country. When it comes to regional issues like Egypt, Iran and Iraq, the United States has now largely marginalized Turkey. Not too long ago, the common question posed in Western capitals was “Who lost Turkey?” Many fingers pointed at Brussels and Washington. But today, as the prime minister steers Turkey away from its path of prosperity and international relevance toward antagonism and repression, the answer seems to be Mr. Erdogan himself.                             

                                                                                                 

                                                                          

Syria Deploys Anti-Aircraft Missile Batteries Along Turkish Border: Ariel Ben Solomon, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 31, 2014

Turkish Leader Disowns Trials That Helped Him Tame Military: Tim Arango, New York Times, Feb. 26, 2014

U.S. Recording Studios Embroiled in Sprawling Turkish Government Scandal: Lisa Fleisher & Joe Parkinson, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 28, 2014

No Crimean Wars for Turkey: Dimitar Bechev, European Council on Foreign Relations, Mar. 13, 2014

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CANADA, AGAIN, LEADS, RECOGNIZING 1948 JEWISH REFUGEES— NO FINAL M.E. PEACE WITHOUT JUSTICE FOR THE 850,000 EXPELLEES

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

 

NB: Today's Briefing topic reflects one of CIJR's important on-going research projects, our Jews Expelled from Muslim Lands (JEML) undertaking, designed to make known on a broad public scale both the expulsion of over 800,000 Jews from 1947-48 forward, and the value of Jewish real and moveable expropriated property, by various Arab and Muslim regimes.  This key issue, long overlooked, must be part of any final peace negotiations between Israel, the Palstinians and Arab states, and extra-regional interlocutors. (For more information on JEML, please contact us at [514] 486-5544 or email cijr@isranet.org.)


                                           

Canada Recognizes Experience of Jewish Refugees: Government of Canada, Mar. 26, 2014— Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement …

Reparations For Jews From Arab Countries Must be Included in Peace Talks, MKs Say: Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 26, 2014 —The government is ignoring Jewish refugees from Arab countries in negotiations with the Palestinians, Knesset Control Committee chairman Amnon Cohen said Wednesday.

The Other Refugees and the Path to Peace: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Mar. 27, 2014 — Today Canada’s foreign minister proved once again why the Great White North is one of the world’s outliers with regard to the Middle East.

Arab Refugees and Jewish Refugees – the Inextricable Link: Lyn Julius & Stanley A. Urman, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 9, 2014— Suddenly Jewish refugees from Arab countries have been catapulted into the headlines.

My Iraqi Jewish Heritage: What’s Left?: Robert Fattal, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 4, 2014 — Last month the National Archives in Washington unveiled an exhibit showcasing Iraqi Jewish artifacts recovered from Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters.

 

On Topic Links

 

What Made Canada Recognize Jewish Refugees From Arab Countries?: Vicky Tobianah, Ha’aretz, Mar. 24, 2014

A Page From Barker's Playbook: Sarah Honig, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 13, 2014

Battle Over Iraqi Jewish Archive Heads to US House: Times of Israel, Mar. 10, 2014

                                     

 

CANADA RECOGNIZES EXPERIENCE OF JEWISH REFUGEES             

Government of Canada, Mar. 26, 2014         

                                    

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement after the House of Commons concurred with the recommendations in the report by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development to recognize the experience of Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa:

 

“I am pleased that the House of Commons agreed with the recommendation of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, which is supported by the Government of Canada, and officially recognizes the experience of Jewish refugees who were displaced from states in the Middle East and North Africa after 1948. Fair and equal acknowledgement of all refugee populations arising out of the Arab-Israeli conflict requires the recognition of Jewish refugees. Such recognition does not diminish or compete with the situation of Palestinian refugees.”

 

“The Government of Canada agrees in principle with the committee’s second recommendation, that the experience of Jewish refugees should be taken into consideration as a part of any just and comprehensive peace deal, however, we believe that the peace process as it is currently structured offers the best hope for a positive solution. I thank the committee for its efforts and its continuing interest in the issues of human rights and religious freedom in the Middle East and North Africa…”

                                                                                               

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REPARATIONS FOR JEWS FROM ARAB COUNTRIES

MUST BE INCLUDED IN PEACE TALKS, MKS SAY                                  

Lahav Harkov

Jerusalem Post, Mar. 26, 2014

 

The government is ignoring Jewish refugees from Arab countries in negotiations with the Palestinians, Knesset Control Committee chairman Amnon Cohen said Wednesday. “We have to take our brothers from Arab countries into consideration. They don’t get any reparations from property worth billions of dollars, which they had to abandon because they were expelled,” Cohen (Shas) explained. Cohen pointed out that the government is disregarding a 2010 law requiring that reparations for Jews from Arab countries be included in any negotiations with the Palestinians.

 

However, US envoy in the negotiations Martin Indyk indicated earlier this year that a treaty could include such compensation. Cohen also called for Senior Citizens Minister Uri Orbach to prepare a report on the value of lost Jewish property to be used in the talks, as the topic falls under his jurisdiction, and to collect information previously gathered by the Justice and Foreign ministries on the matter. “Some justice ministers, like Tzipi Livni, aren’t interested in the matter, even though the UN recognized the legitimacy of Jewish refugees from Arab countries’ demands,” Cohen stated.

 

Orbach said collecting information “is important because of these people’s right to their lost property, but the chances of receiving compensation are small…. I don’t want to commit to missions that we may not be able to handle, but we will up the pace of the documentation.” However, Senior Citizens Ministry director-general Gilad Semama said that his budget is too low for the project. Still, by the end of 2014, Semama expects the ministry to gather testimony from 3,000 people. Finance Ministry representative Guy Harmati took issue with the complaint, saying that the Senior Citizens Ministry asked for a NIS 50 million budget, which is too high, and that he needs to see results before increasing funds.

 

Levana Zamir, head of the International Association of Jews from Egypt, said that 35,000 Jews were expelled from Egypt in 1956 and that the Foreign Ministry documented some of their abandoned property. According to Zamir, part of the peace treaty with Egypt said that Israel would demand compensation for the lost property, but it never happened. “Livni thinks that Jews from Arab countries are an obstacle to peace,” Zamir lamented. Meir Kahlon, representing Libyan Jews, said communal property should count, as well. “Palestinians document every tent, well and thicket they had here, but we left behind property worth billions of shekels,” he stated.

 

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THE OTHER REFUGEES AND THE PATH TO PEACE           

Jonathan S. Tobin

Commentary, Mar. 27, 2014

 

Today Canada’s foreign minister proved once again why the Great White North is one of the world’s outliers with regard to the Middle East. Foreign Minister John Baird said that the Canadian government stated that the fate of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries should be both recognized and taken into account in discussions about Middle East peace. The statement followed Canada’s parliament adopting a report on the subject and though Baird was careful to say that he didn’t want the issue to become a point of contention in the talks between Israel and the Palestinians sponsored by the United States, the mere raising of the topic is enough to cause some of Israel’s critics to claim the Canadians are trying to sabotage the negotiations. While the Israelis have repeatedly raised the issue of the hundreds of thousands of Jews who fled or were forced to flee their homes throughout the Arab world in the months and years following Israel’s birth in 1948, the Palestinians not only refuse to discuss the matter, they regard it as a distraction from the “nakba”—or disaster, as they refer to Israel’s creation. But in doing so they make it plain that this issue is central to understanding why peace has eluded the region.

 

The argument about competing sets of refugees is not an abstract historical puzzle. To even talk about Jewish refugees with their own history of suffering undermines the narrative that the only result of Israel’s War of Independence was the dispossession of a Palestinian refugee population whose descendants continue to demand a “right of return” to the homes they left 66 years ago. For the same reason that the Palestinian Authority refuses absolutely to recognize that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, so, too, do they and their supporters close their ears to any discussion about Jewish refugees. Palestinians fear that both subjects undermine their sense of themselves as victims who must be compensated by the world. But while they believe that any diminution of that victimhood, either to recognize the claims of other refugees or the state where most of dispossessed Jews found a home, would deprive them of their identity as a people, the truth is just the opposite. Discarding this mindset is the only way that they—or the Israelis—will ever find peace.

 

The Canadian report will undoubtedly be ignored by the international press that tends to treat any mention of Jewish refugees as somehow an illustration of Israel’s lack of contrition about the suffering of the Palestinians. But the more that one learns about the topic, the easier it is to understand that there was no monopoly on suffering in this conflict. Just as hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled or, in a few cases, were told to leave their homes in the former British Mandate for Palestine, almost an equal number of Jews throughout the Arab and Muslim world experienced the same fate.

 

The difference between the two populations was that the Jews were taken in and resettled by their brethren, either in the newborn state of Israel or in Western countries. Though their journeys and adjustment to their new homes was not always easy, none were allowed to languish in limbo. Today, they and their descendants in Israel or in the United States and other Western countries are members of successful communities where they enjoy equal rights.

 

By contrast, the Arabs who left the territory that would become the State of Israel were deliberately kept in camps to this day and denied any resettlement or citizenship in the countries where they found themselves. The reason for this was that they were useful props in the Arab world’s ongoing war to reverse the verdict of that war. Their future was held hostage to the struggle to destroy Israel, and the refugees and their numerous progeny have been kept apart and in squalor in order to further that effort. Their plight merits the sympathy of the world. So, too, does the way they have been exploited and abused by their own leaders and other Arab countries.

 

Unfortunately, many of those who wish the Palestinians well, including many Jews, have accommodated their nakba narrative demands and sought to pressure Israel to apologize for winning the war of survival in 1948. But the Palestinian decision to cling to this narrative of suffering rather than embracing one of nation building in the West Bank and Gaza, where Israel has repeatedly offered them an independent state, is the primary obstacle to peace. As Rick Richman noted earlier this week, the point of insisting on the so-called “right of return” is not really the refugees but to keep the war against Israel’s existence alive. Not until they realize that they were not the only ones who suffered and that the war that led to their dispossession was the result of their own unwillingness to compromise and share the land will the Palestinians be prepared to accept the current compromise that has been on the table from Israel for many years, and finally move on.

 

Far from harming the cause of peace, the best thing those who wish to promote a resolution of the Middle East conflict can do is to remind the Palestinians that they were not the only ones who lost their homes and that the Arab world has as much apologizing to do as the Israelis. If one group of refugees must be compensated, so must the other. Just as two states for two peoples is the only possible formula for peace, let the Palestinians recognize that they aren’t the only 1948 refugees. Until they do and acknowledge the legitimacy of a state for those Jewish refugees, peace will be impossible.

 

                                                                                                 

Contents
                                  

ARAB REFUGEES AND JEWISH REFUGEES –

THE INEXTRICABLE LINK                                                         

Lyn Julius & Stanley A. Urman                                            

Jerusalem Post, Mar. 9, 2014

 

Suddenly Jewish refugees from Arab countries have been catapulted into the headlines. The Kerry peace framework proposals will, it is rumored, contain a clause recommending compensation for both Jewish refugees and Palestinian refugees. This is music to the ears of us activists on behalf of Jewish refugees. It’s what we have been fighting for decades. At last, the rights of over 856,000 Jews displaced from Arab countries will be recognized and redressed. What’s not to like? Already discordant voices are being heard. In this newspaper, Sarah Honig’s February 13 column entitled: “Another Tack: A Page from Barker’s Playbook” suggested that a reported proposal to compensate Jewish refugees along with refugees from British Mandate Palestine is just a means for US Secretary of State John Kerry to sway the “hawks” of the Israeli electorate – Jews from Arab countries and their descendants.

 

At its core, advocating for the rights of Jews from Arab countries is not about money. Recognizing rights and redress for Jewish refugees is a quest for truth and justice, the prerequisite for true reconciliation between and among peoples in the region. While under international law the legitimate rights of Jews forced to flee Arab countries are neither identical to, nor symmetrical with, those of Palestinian refugees, there is significant linkage between these two refugee populations, underscoring the need to deal with both simultaneously: Both refugee populations were created by the Arab countries’ refusal to accept the 1947 UN Partition Plan and attacking Israel; both became refugees during the same period in history; and both were declared to be bona fide refugees, under international law, by the appropriate UN Agencies – UNHCR and UNRWA.

In the international, political arena, Jewish refugees have been inextricably linked to Palestinian refugees. The historic United Nations resolution 242 on the Arab-Israeli conflict stipulates, that a comprehensive peace settlement should necessarily include “a just settlement of the refugee problem,” language that, according to the expressed intent of the UN Resolution’s co-authors, would be inclusive of Arab refugees and Jewish refugees. The 1991 Madrid Peace Conference created a Working Group on Refugees whose mandate was to “…consider practical ways of improving the lot of people throughout the region who have been displaced from their homes” – generic language applicable to both Palestinian and Jewish refugees. The 2002 Road map to Middle East Peace also refers in Phase III to an “agreed, just, fair and realistic solution to the refugee issue,” language applicable both to Palestinian and Jewish refugees. The intention in all of these seminal blueprints for peace is for both refugee populations to be addressed in tandem.

 

Rights for Jewish refugees have been enshrined in legislation, as a matter of government policy, for years, both in Israel and in the United States. In 2008, the US Congress’ House Resolution 185 proclaimed that, in Middle East peace negotiations, “any explicit reference to the rights of Palestinian refugees must be matched by a similar reference to the rights of Jewish refugees.” In 2010, Israel’s Knesset passed a Law which requires that: “As part of negotiations to achieve peace in the Middle East, the government will include the subject of providing compensation for the loss of assets of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.”

 

So who will pay? There are those who pessimistically believe that compensation for Jewish refugees will never materialize. Surely it won’t come from the Palestinians. And Arab states in the throes of internecine warfare won’t want to pay. Even President Barack Obama may be loathe to pay out from the US’s depleted coffers. Compensation for Arab and Jewish refugees is not a new idea. The concept, which was first proposed by president Bill Clinton in 2000, was for the creation of an international fund to which many states would contribute, including the United States. But Uncle Sam should not foot the bill alone. Multilateral involvement would provide the legitimacy and commitment – as well as financial support – to cement the peace. The G-8, the EU, the Arab League, Arab countries, Israel and others as well – should all participate and contribute.

 

Arab participation is paramount; a genuine peace can only be achieved when all culpable Arab states accept responsibility and express regret for the injustices they perpetrated on their Jewish citizens. Some believe it illogical that such an International Fund could be created, with a mandate to provide compensation to both sides involved in the same conflict. In fact, in 1991, the United Nations established just such a precedent for the victims of the first Gulf War, by creating a unique Compensation Commission that can serve as a model for providing restitution equitably to both Jewish and Palestinian refugees. The responsibility to create an International Fund, and the lion’s share of its endowment, would have to be borne, of course, by the United States. The cost of compensating refugees on both sides with a few billion dollars is a drop in the ocean compared to the $6 trillion that the US has expended on its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a small price to pay for the ultimate prize – a permanent end to the Arab-Israeli conflict.                                                           

                                                                                                 

Contents
                                  

MY IRAQI JEWISH HERITAGE: WHAT’S LEFT?                             

Robert Fattal                                             

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 4, 2014

 

Last month the National Archives in Washington unveiled an exhibit showcasing Iraqi Jewish artifacts recovered from Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters. The controversy surrounding the find and whether the US should live up to its commitment and return the historic materials to Iraq has made me reflect on my own identity. Or rather, I should say, on my lack of any true Iraqi Jewish identity.

My parents, newly arrived Iraqi Jewish immigrants to Canada, sent me to Jewish school. Like most Hebrew day schools in North America we were basically taught the Ashkenazi Zionist worldview. Essentially, that Ashkenazim built and founded the State of Israel, and that Sephardi Jews generally didn’t contribute very much to Judaic heritage or Israel. For all intents and purposes, we were made to feel that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, King David, King Solomon and other biblical figures might have all hailed from the Levant, but their true descendants came to Israel by way of Eastern Europe and the Ashkenazi tradition. Overall, I admit I was satisfied with the education I received. I became somewhat fluent in Hebrew, and compared to my parents, whom I would describe as secular and very traditional, I was definitely more religiously informed than they were. However, being one of the few if not the only Middle Eastern Jew in my school, I was sporadically taunted, labeled a camel jockey or worse. Granted, the instances of bullying were very few and far between, but the ultimate result was that I had a sense of alienation that I couldn’t really get around.

My parents, content that other Iraqis had also immigrated to Montreal, hardly felt compelled or rarely felt welcome getting to know my classmates families. Looking back, perhaps it was a combination of my father trying to establish a successful business and my mother simply trying to help build a safe home that contributed to my segregated identity. It goes without saying that today my closest friends are children of Iraqi immigrants like myself. It wasn’t until recently that I began to ask serious questions about my heritage, any remaining legacy, and what I could potentially pass on to future generations. Sadly, I can’t say I can contribute very much. I certainly don’t want to sound like I am looking to cast blame, but it is true that a confluence of three independent interests conspired to discriminate against me and deny me my heritage.

I’ve already alluded to the first, Ashkenazim downplaying any Iraqi or Middle Eastern contribution to Jewish consciousness. It is well known that Israel’s Ashkenazi leadership constantly downplayed the history and suffering that Arab Jewish immigrants went through. It is well documented that the new citizens were discriminated against when they settled in Israel. To the Ashkenazim, it was as if Arab Jews should have been thankful to leave their 2,600-year-old traditions for the tents of the Ma’abarot. Forgotten refugees; their sole usefulness being to serve as a bargaining chip to counter Palestinian claims against the State of Israel. Lost in all these calculations is the fact that today there is no Jewish community in any Arab country.

Nor is there a movement or desire to promote their history or traditions. At this point preservation is the best we can hope for. It is difficult to illustrate this profound loss, however, when I visit the Wailing Wall on any religious holiday, the plaza is overwhelmed with haredi men wearing typical Ashkenazi religious attire: three-piece suits with furry black hats or fedoras. Where are the traditional Mizrahi religious haredim?

It is a pity that many observant Middle Eastern Jews have adopted the symbols of a 200-year-old tradition over their own, much older ones. I have to ask, which tradition should the Jews of Israel wish to preserve? Eastern European attire and customs of the 1800s, or those of a rich, over 2,000-year-old Middle Eastern Jewish tradition? Witnessing the black suits and furry hats, etc., what many would consider alien phenomena, is it any wonder that accusations stigmatizing Israelis as outsiders from Europe gain so much traction? Obviously, Arab governments themselves were ultimately responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from their countries, and erasing their history. To this day they refuse to acknowledge any responsibility or remorse for their actions.

In fact, the massive exodus depleting the Arab world of its millennial Jewish character is blamed solely on the victims themselves, and Israel. It was the Arab Jews themselves, it is argued, that wanted to leave, and for those that preferred to stay it was Israel that threatened them with violence if they didn’t leave. To add insult to injury Arab pundits advocate that “Arab countries… offer to take the Jews back.” This is a bad joke; one need only witness the exodus of Christians from the Middle East, and the violence they face if they stay, to realize this is nothing but a pathetic attempt to whitewash past misdeeds and culpability. One can only shudder at the fate of any Jews accepting such an offer….                                                                                   

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

CIJR wishes all its friends and supporters Shabbat Shalom!

                                                                          

 

What Made Canada Recognize Jewish Refugees From Arab Countries?: Vicky Tobianah, Ha’aretz, Mar. 24, 2014— As a Jew growing up in Iraq, Gladys Daoud had an ordinary life. Her father served in the Iraqi army as a colonel and had a medical practice in Baghdad.

A Page From Barker's Playbook: Sarah Honig, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 13, 2014 —It’s a safe bet that John Kerry hasn’t heard of General Evelyn Hugh Barker, GOC (General Officer Commanding) of British forces in Palestine (Eretz Yisrael).

Battle Over Iraqi Jewish Archive Heads to US House: Times of Israel, Mar. 10, 2014 —A new House resolution urges the State Department to renegotiate the terms for the return to Iraq of an archive of Iraqi Jewish texts.

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Asaf Romirowsky: Why would Kings College entertain BDS?

For nearly twenty years, under the leadership of Middle East historian Efraim Karsh and his Middle East and Mediterranean Studies Programme, Kings College London was a beacon of light with respect to the study of Israel and the Middle East. King's has a superior reputation as one of Britain's foremost research and teaching institutions and the third-oldest university in the United Kingdom, having been founded by King George IV and the Duke of Wellington in 1829.

 

But the BDS movement does not respect an academic pedigree any more than it does Israel. Efforts are again underway to infiltrate King's with the goal of converting students and faculty to the almost religious viewpoint that the Jewish state is the source of all evil in the Middle East and beyond. At the upcoming Student General Meeting this Tuesday a motion proposed three months ago has resurfaced calling on Kings "to divest from Israel" and to "raise awareness of Israel's illegal occupation."

 

Moreover, the proposal calls to "pressure King's College London to divest from Israel", to "promote resolutions condemning Israeli violations of international law" and to "affiliate KCL to the Palestine BDS National Committee." Additionally, advocates of this motion would like "a plaque in all KCLSU student centres acknowledging that KCLSU formally supported the BDS call."

 

The BDS movement smacks of anti-Semitism: Targeting Israel and its advocates, it holds the world's only Jewish state to a far different and unrealistically high standard than any other democracy. Its supporters claim that their criticism is legitimate and is due to their "real concern" for the well being of Palestinians. Amidst flowery anti-imperialist rhetoric, the movement misleadingly implies that ending specific Israeli policies, deemed "apartheid" practices, would satisfy its backers. In fact, BDS supporters explicitly call for the destruction of Israel and its replacement by a bi-national state, the standard euphemism for an Arab/Muslim state in which Jews will be reduced to a status of permanent, underprivileged minority.

Unfortunately, academia is dominated by a loud minority of individuals who support BDS and who shape campus discussions regarding Israel. Consequently, it is the extreme voices that set the tone while the more moderate forces give in without much of a fight. All has led to a stifling environment where, in the name of free speech, sympathizers of the BDS movement have undermined free speech by ignoring, censoring, or white-washing uncomfortable and inconvenient truths.

 

In-fact, even the Palestinian Authority itself does not support the boycott movement, something that Mahmoud Abbas himself stated quite explicitly. Others Israel critics, like Norman Finkelstein who has accused Jews of using the Holocaust for their own gain, has described the BDS movement as "a hypocritical, dishonest cult" led by "dishonest gurus" who want to "selectively enforce the law" by posing as human rights activists.

 

That the BDS movement and its supporters, now tacitly endorsed by many departments and professors, have been given a platform to single out Israel as absolutely the worst society on Earth is deeply distressing and is nothing less than a "ready-made conclusion" of the most extreme sort.

 

BDSers intentionally ignore what Palestinians say in Arabic about their political demands or national identity, much less their attitudes toward Israelis, a common feature of American and European engagement with the Middle East.

 

The selective prosecution of the Jewish state, the mendacity of its accusers, and their willingness to abuse free speech to single out Israel – even as Syrians die by the thousands – should be a wakeup call to reality. It should also remind Kings College London of its long tradition of research and scholarship and cause the university to stand up against polemicists and abusers rather than legitimize them by offering a platform to promote their racist agenda.

 

Nicole Brackman & Asaf Romirowsky: It’s Always ‘Groundhog Day’ With the Israeli-Palestinian ‘Peace Process’

The 1993 movie “Groundhog Day,” in which the character played by Bill Murray relives the same day over and over again, is an apt description of official Palestinian attitudes toward Israel and the peace process.

 

The repeated Palestinian rejection of Israeli overtures raises the stakes and draws ever more attention to seducing the Palestinians to participate in talks. The “peace process” movie plays like a repeating loop, with new scenes punctuated by years and shifts in the political winds but without progress. The fatigue associated with this demand for peace circumvents any historical knowledge of the Middle East.

 

Moreover, with the ongoing suffering in Syria, one has to wonder where the need for attention is greater; and why the constant focus is solely on the Israeli-Palestinian dynamic, ignoring the real tragedies in the region.

 

As Secretary of State John Kerry prepares for yet another round of negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis, demands that Israel submit to various concessions just to bring the Palestinians to the table are again emerging. Reports from February reveal a new (old) request that puts the onus on Israel to "prove" seriousness of intent: “The Obama administration has asked Israel to impose an unofficial settlement freeze … if a framework agreement is agreed upon.” Though the Israelis have not yet responded, the pattern is true to form; a report from Feb. 16 highlighted a suspected "softening" in Mahmoud Abbas' position on the Palestinian refugees.

 

The "softening" was not flexibility at all, as was claimed. Rather it was a restatement of a commitment the Palestinians ostensibly made long ago but recanted — that Abbas does not want to "drown Israel with millions of Palestinian refugees to change its nature” in the case of a peace settlement. What's ironic about all this isn't just the obvious resemblance to “Groundhog Day” — it's the utter disconnect between expectations and reality.

 

The illusion that the Palestinians have fostered in their national narrative (in which millions of refugees in their descendants return and create a new state) is as destructive to their own national aspirations as it is unworkable. Attachment to the “right of return” is an escape clause from any serious negotiations with the Israelis because both sides recognize it as a nonstarter with untenable political consequences for each of the respective populations.

 

Fearful of what such “concessions” might do to the very fabric of Palestinian society, enraged individuals like Ali Huwaidi, the Director of Palestinian Organization for the Right of Return "Thabit" in Beirut, lashed out at Abbas for daring to even put the matter on the negotiating table. He said, “Regardless of Abbas's statements, the right of return is guaranteed, individually and collectively, through UN resolutions. The refugees will not give up their right no matter where they are living today. Abbas is worried about flooding Israel with five million refugees while Israel has brought one million people from the former Soviet Union and no one complained about this. Our refugees will not accept any alternative to their right to return to their homeland and we do not care what Abbas's position is.”

 

Such statements highlight the gap between the parties. If the right of return is a non-starter for a wider Palestinian constituency, and is presented by ideological leaders as a non-negotiable red line, there is little basis for negotiating a lasting, durable peace.

 

The refugee issue has been woven into the fabric of Palestinian national identity — a narrative generated by a leadership culture without any accountability for its own calculated decision-making. Good intentions aside, the Obama administration will not be able to create a functional Palestinian nation-state by pursuing the same tired and ineffectual strategy over and over.

 

(Nicole Brackman is a historian who writes extensively on Israeli and Middle East politics. Asaf Romirowsky is a CIJR Academic Fellow and an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Forum and co-author of Religion, Politics, and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief.)

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

 

Before Peace Now: Palestinian Democracy First: Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 25, 2014

It's Always 'Groundhog Day' With the Israeli-Palestinian 'Peace Process': Nicole Brackman & Asaf Romirowsky, Washington Examiner, Mar. 19, 2014

Obama Loses Complete Touch with Reality: Peter Wehner, Commentary, Mar. 26, 2014

Russia Threatens More Than Neighbors: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Mar. 25, 2014

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“I think it is important that we in the free world not accept the occupation of Crimea, that we continue to resist, and sanction the occupation of Crimea, and that there be no return to business as usual with the Putin regime until such time the occupation of Crimea ends,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea during remarks in Kyiv Saturday that got wide play on Ukrainian television. (National Post, Mar. 23, 2014)

 

“Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors, not out of strength but out of weakness… The fact that Russia felt compelled to go in militarily and laid bare these violations of international law indicates less influence, not more,” U.S. President Barack Obama, during an exchange yesterday with ABC’s Jonathan Karl. (Commentary, Mar. 26, 2014)

 

"We express our total rejection of the call to consider Israel as a Jewish state," statement from the final day of the Arab summit in Kuwait. The Arab League announced on Wednesday its full backing of a Palestinian refusal to meet Israel's demand to be recognized as a Jewish state, a condition Jerusalem says it requires for peace. On Tuesday Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the Arab heads, reiterating his refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and said that the Palestinians want an independent state on "all the territories that were occupied in 1967." (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 26, 2014)

 

“I don’t see how the Palestinians or the Arab world can accept that premise, that Israel is an exclusively Jewish state,” — former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, in an interview with The Associated Press. Carter added that “this has never been put forward in any of the negotiations in which I was involved as president, or any president, before (Benjamin) Netanyahu became prime minister this time. And now it has been put into the forefront of consideration…Israel can claim `We are a Jewish state.’ I don’t think the Arab countries will contradict that Jewish statement. But to force the Arab people to say that all the Arab people that they have in Israel have to be Jews, I think that’s going too far.” Carter accepts the absurd premise of Palestinian Arabs, as well as others across the Arab world, that if Israel is recognized as a Jewish state then it means that only Jews can live there. About a fourth of Israel’s people are Arab or other non-Jewish citizens. (Associated Press, Mar. 24, 2014)

“It is ugly…People are saying: ‘Is this the history of Fatah? Collaborators, corruption and killers — is this us?’ ” Mahdi Abdul Hadi, the director of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, an independent research institute in East Jerusalem. Palestinians say they are baffled by PA President Abbas’s decision to open up another front within his own Fatah movement by beginning a nasty, public campaign against a onetime ally, who Abbas now sees as a rival, Muhammad Dahlan, a former Gaza strongman and Fatah security chief. Arabic media has been filled with unproved accusations by Abbas about the long-ago killings of prominent Palestinians, and by both men about collaboration with Israel and financial corruption. Abbas even implied that Dahlan might have had a hand in the mysterious death of Yasir Arafat in 2004. For the most part, the two camps have not offered detailed responses to all the accusations. Months ago, through an Arab-Israeli law firm, Mr. Dahlan filed a complaint against the Palestinian Authority leadership in the International Criminal Court, accusing it of corruption, violations of human rights and political and personal persecution. (New York Times, Mar. 22, 2014)

 

“Mr. President: I am writing for your immediate consideration.  It has been reported in the press and confirmed to me by a Knesset member that President Abbas requested your assistance in securing the release of Marwan Barghouti as a condition for continued peace talks with Israel.  I sincerely request that you please not assist in any way in the release of this unrepentant mass-murderer.  Tomorrow will mark 12 years since our oldest son, then seven years old, and I were wounded in a suicide bombing in downtown Jerusalem. Yehonathon had the head of a screw pass fully through his right brain, while I had two screws pass through my left arm… The role of Marwan Barghouti in this attack was revealed in indictments against the heads of the Fatah terror cell behind the attack… The media have attempted to portray Marwan Barghouti as some kind of Nelson Mandela.  The truth though is quite the opposite.  Barghouti has never renounced violence as a legitimate means for advancing political goals, and he has never shown any remorse for his prolific terror activities that led to a forty-count indictment against him.  Instead, he has encouraged additional “resistance” (i.e., terror) from his jail cell.  Barghouti’s release may convince the Palestinians to sit around the table for an extra couple of months, but it will not bring peace…” — Alan Joseph Bauer, in a letter to U.S. President Obama. In order to continue the “peace process,” the PA has again made a ridiculous demand: the release of two major terror leaders,  Marwan Barghouti and Ahmed Sadaat.  The request to release the two terrorists was made directly to President Obama. (Jewish Press, Mar. 23, 2014)

 

“Twitter, schmitter…I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic.” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a speech to supporters in the northwest town of Bursa, vowing to “root out” the social media platform. Last week Turkey’s telecommunications authority served court papers on internet companies, ordering them to pull the plug on Twitter. Turkey had become only the second country – along with China – to try to block it entirely. From a technical perspective, the ban hasn’t worked well. Millions of tweets continue to come from Turkey, despite the fact authorities have been implementing increasingly tighter controls. Turks have become adept at tweaking their internet settings by installing and using anti-censorship software. (CBC, Mar. 24, 2014)

 

“We, the members of the Christian Lobby in Israel, found it appropriate to turn to you and cry out about the human and citizens’ rights condition of our Christian brothers across the Middle East. The slaughter, persecution, discrimination, apartheid, the ethnic cleansing, and all the crimes committed against the Indigenous Aramaic & Christians of the Middle East, in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority, among others, and continue to be committed without any intervention of the Western countries,” letter from the Christian Lobby in Israel to the EU Ambassador in Israel and 18 other western Ambassadors, protesting the EU’s silence in relation to what they termed “the ethnic cleansing of Christians throughout the Middle East.” (Jewish Press, Mar. 23, 2014)

 

“Unfortunately, antisemitism at U.S. colleges, and, especially, in California, is growing at an alarming rate,” Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a University of California professor and Jewish advocacy group AMCHA Initiative cofounder. “It is a concern we hear about daily from members of California’s Jewish community, including university alumni, rabbis, professors, religious school principals and, of course, students, parents and grandparents.” The leadership of the AMCHA Initiative will testified Friday, March 21, before a California Assembly Select Committee on Campus Climate, urging members to examine campus antisemitism and to take the proper steps to ensure Jewish students feel safe and welcome at California’s colleges and universities. (Jewish Press, Mar. 21, 2014)

 

SHORT TAKES

 

US WON'T RELEASE POLLARD TO AID ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN TALKS (Washington) — Jonathan Pollard will not be released by the U.S. government in a move to extend the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. "There are currently no plans to release Jonathan Pollard," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told the Jerusalem Post, adding that Pollard was convicted "of a very serious crime, was sentenced to life in prison, and is serving his sentence." The statement came after Israel's Army Radio, citing diplomatic sources, reported Wednesday that the U.S. had agreed to free Pollard in a deal to extend the April 30 deadline on negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Pollard pleaded guilty in 1986 to passing U.S. national defense information to the Israeli government, and is serving a life sentence. (Newsmax, Mar. 26, 2014)

MOLDOVA FEARS TERRITORY'S TILT TOWARD RUSSIA (Tirasopol) The Russian annexation of Crimea is threatening to reignite a conflict in an often forgotten corner of Europe. This week, lawmakers in Transnistria, a thin strip of land sandwiched between Ukraine and the former Soviet republic of Moldova, formally asked the Duma, Russia's parliament, if it could follow Crimea and join the Russian Federation. Transnistria declared independence from Moldova in 1990, but no U.N. member recognized it. Some two decades after a brief war flared between Transnistrian separatists and Moldovan government forces, the territory has autonomous status inside Moldova, with its own government, flag, police, military and currency. Its 509,000 inhabitants are a mix of ethnic Russians, Moldovans, Ukrainians and Bulgarians. (Wall Street Journal, Mar. 21, 2014)

 

‘MOST ADVANCED’ GAZA-ISRAEL TUNNEL IS FOUND (Jerusalem) The Israeli military announced that it had uncovered a sophisticated tunnel that stretched hundreds of yards into its territory from the Gaza Strip and could have been used to attack or kidnap Israelis. Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, told reporters that fresh footprints and tools found inside the tunnel from southern Gaza suggested it had been worked on even “in the last few days,” and that its design, with many offshoots, made it “the most advanced tunnel that we’ve exposed.” The IDF found three similar tunnels under the Gaza border fence last year, but Colonel Lerner described the recently discovered one as “the most substantial.” In 2006, Palestinian militants used a tunnel to enter Israel, kill two soldiers and kidnap a third, Gilad Shalit, who was held for five years. (New York Times, Mar. 21, 2014)

 

EGYPT SENTENCES 529 MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD MEMBERS TO DEATH (Cairo) An Egyptian court sentenced 529 members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to death for murder and other offenses on Monday, in a sharp escalation of a crackdown on the Islamist movement. Family members stood outside the courthouse screaming after the verdict – the biggest mass death sentence handed out in Egypt's modern history. Supporters set fire to a nearby school in protest, state television reported. Turmoil has deepened since the army overthrew Egypt's president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, in July. Security forces have killed hundreds of Brotherhood members in the streets and arrested thousands. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 24, 2014)

 

PAN-ARAB UNITY NOT EVIDENT AT THIS WEEK’S SUMMIT (Kuwait City) Pan-Arabists claim that Arabs belong to one nation, and Arab summits tend to play lip service to such lofty ideological rhetoric, though it mostly rings hollow. Presenting this line, Kuwait’s emir and the host of this week’s Arab League summit, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, said Tuesday, “The dangers around us are enormous and we will not move towards joint Arab action without our unity and without casting aside our differences.” However, on almost every issue, the Arab states are divided on how to proceed, whether it be on Syria, Iraq, Egypt or on how to deal with Iran. Because of the divisions among the Gulf states, the US canceled a meeting scheduled for later this week between President Barack Obama and Gulf leaders. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 26, 2014) 

 

CANADIANS AMONG NINE KILLED IN KABUL HOTEL ATTACK (Kabul) A Taliban assault on the restaurant of a luxury hotel, considered one of the safest places in Kabul and frequented by foreigners and Afghan officials, has swelled a tide of violence sweeping Afghanistan two weeks before a presidential election. Three children between two and five were found with bullets in their heads. Four of the nine dead were foreigners. The Interior Ministry gave conflicting accounts of their nationalities, but by late Friday said they included citizens of Canada and Paraguay.  The Islamist Taliban movement has ordered its fighters to use "full force" to disrupt the vote, and threatened to kill anyone who participates in what it calls a Western-backed sham. (Reuters, Mar. 20, 2014)

 

CSIS TRACKS 80 ‘FOREIGN FIGHTERS’ BACK IN CANADA (Ottawa)Intelligence officials are aware of about 80 Canadians who have returned home after going overseas for “terrorist purposes,” according to speaking notes prepared for the director of the nation’s spy agency. The document does not offer explicit information about their activities, though it makes it clear that not all were involved in combat. While some individuals may have engaged in paramilitary activities, others are believed to have studied in extremist Islamic schools or provided logistical or fundraising support. Others never achieved their goals and simply returned home. The so-called “foreign fighter” phenomenon has become a growing concern for the intelligence community, stoking fears that individuals could return to Canada more radicalized than when they left. (National Post, Mar. 23, 2014)

 

BDS RESOLUTION DEFEATED AT UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN (Ann Arbor) A resolution to begin a process to divest from companies that invest or operate in Israel was defeated by the U of M student government Wednesday morning. After a six-hour session, which included speeches by dozens of students, two Jewish professors and the anti-Israel journalist and author Max Blumenthal, who used the forum to repeatedly pitch his new book, the Central Student Government voted down the resolution, 25 to nine, with five abstentions. The vote was taken by secret ballot, as some members of the CSG had said they were intimidated by proponents of the resolution at its previous meeting. The Washington Free Beacon reported on Monday that at least one pro-Israel student “received death threats and that others have allegedly been called ‘kikes’ and ‘dirty Jews’” by proponents of the resolution. (Algemeiner, Mar. 26, 2014)

 

ASSAILANTS BREAK JEWISH TEACHER’S NOSE IN PARIS, DRAW SWASTIKA ON CHEST (Paris) A Jewish teacher from Paris told police that three men had assaulted and cursed him in Arabic before drawing a swastika on his chest, according to a report by the Drancy-based Bureau for National Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA). “They pressed him to the wall and hit his face, around the eyes and on his chest,” the report said. “One of the perpetrators opened the victim’s shirt and with a black marker drew a swastika on the man’s bare chest,” BNVCA president Sammy Ghozlan wrote in the report. The victim, who was wearing a kippah at the time of the attack, told police that the three men who attacked him appeared to be of North African descent and were in their twenties. The shouted “death to the Jews” and called him “dirty Jew” in French and also shouted insults in Arabic. BNVCA has recorded a spate of antisemitic incidents in France in recent weeks. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 23, 2014)

 

NORWEGIAN MUSEUM TO RETURN LOOTED MATISSE (Oslo) A Norwegian museum says it has agreed to return a Henri Matisse artwork once looted by Nazi leader Hermann Goering to the family of Jewish art dealer Paul Rosenberg. The 1937 painting, Woman in Blue in Front of a Fireplace, has been the centerpiece of the Henie Onstad Art Center near Oslo since the museum was established in 1968. The museum said in a statement Thursday that although it acquired the painting in good faith, it has "chosen to adhere to international conventions and return the painting to Rosenberg's heirs." Norway is a signatory of the 1998 Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, which requires museums to review their collections for potentially looted works and when such a work is found, to try to locate rightful owners. (CBC, Mar. 21, 2014)

 

MOSSAD BRINGS AN END TO THE MYSTERY OF MISSING IRANIAN JEWS (Tel Aviv)Mossad has brought an end to the mystery surrounding the disappearance of eight Iranian Jews in the 1990s, the Prime Minister’s Office announced on Thursday, saying they had been murdered. The families of eight out of 11 Iranian Jews who went missing two decades ago received notifications that their relatives had been slain while trying to immigrate to Israel. In a statement, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office said that Mossad had investigated and “received from a reliable source, privy to the details, information that these Jews were captured and murdered while escaping [Iran].” The statement did not elaborate on who might have carried out the killings. The investigation into the fate of the remaining three Iranian Jews, who disappeared in 1997, remains ongoing. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 20, 2014)  

 

EUROPEAN RABBIS COMMEMORATE THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF EXTERMINATION OF HUNGARIAN JEWRY (Budapest) — More then 200 rabbis on Monday commemorated the 70th anniversary of the extermination of Hungarian Jewry by the Nazis, during a memorial in Budapest. The commemoration was organized in the framework of the two-day annual conference of the Rabbinical Center of Europe, an organization dedicated to assist rabbis across the continent. The conference brought more then 200 rabbis from across Europe and Israel in the Hungarian capital in order to discuss issues relating to assimilation and communal attrition. Singing “Ani Maamin,” a Hebrew song affirming belief in the coming of the Messiah, the Chief Rabbis, heading a long train of black clad ultra-orthodox Jews marched several blocks along the banks of the Danube River to the Shoes on the Danube Promenade, a Holocaust memorial site. (European Jewish Press, Mar. 26, 2014)

 

On Topic Links

 

Before Peace Now: Palestinian Democracy First: Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 25, 2014 President Barack Obama’s disproportionate pressure on Israel in the peace talks is both one-sided and shortsighted.

It's Always 'Groundhog Day' With the Israeli-Palestinian 'Peace Process': Nicole Brackman & Asaf Romirowsky, Washington Examiner, Mar. 19, 2014 The 1993 movie “Groundhog Day,” in which the character played by Bill Murray relives the same day over and over again, is an apt description of official Palestinian attitudes toward Israel and the peace process.

Obama Loses Complete Touch with Reality: Peter Wehner, Commentary, Mar. 26, 2014 Last week I wrote that President Obama, having been bested by Vladimir Putin at virtually every turn, has retreated into a world of his own making.

Russia Threatens More Than Neighbors: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Mar. 25, 2014 Today while speaking at The Hague during a meeting of the newly contracted G-7 Nations, President Obama threatened Russia with expanded sanctions.

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

ISRAEL MILITARY: IN THE “SPIRIT OF MAHAL”, IDF GETS STRONGER DESPITE BUDGET CUTS & U.S. DEFENSE REDUCTIONS

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



                                           

Money, Politics and Israel's Defense: Shoshana Bryen,Gatestone Institute, Mar. 7, 2014— Early Wednesday, the IDF intercepted a shipment of Syrian-made M-302 rockets with a range of up to 200 kilometers (125 miles).

'IDF More Advanced and Accurate Than Ever’: Kobi Finkler & Ari Yashar, Arutz Sheva, Mar. 25, 2014— A senior IDF source discussed the encouraging advancements as well as the budget constraints of the army on Tuesday, exactly a week after an IAF airstrike hit Syrian army posts in response to an explosive placed on Israel's border.

The Spirit of Mahal Lives On: Smoky Simon, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 27, 2013— For me, at the age of almost 94, this evening presents an outstanding opportunity to express my profound gratitude for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me along my life’s journey.

 

On Topic Links

 

The Serious Side of Dressing Up: The Art of Camouflage (Video): IDF Blog, Mar. 16, 2014

‘Most Advanced’ Gaza-Israel Tunnel Is Found: Jodi Rudoren, New York Times, Mar. 21, 2014

Meet the Steel Cats: Preventing Terror on the Gaza Border: IDF Blog, Mar. 25, 2014

Israel Open to Joint Missile Defense With Jordan, Egypt: Dan Williams, Reuters, Mar. 10, 2014

 

                                               

MONEY, POLITICS AND ISRAEL'S DEFENSE                                            Shoshana Bryen                                                                                        Gatestone Institute, Mar. 7, 2014

 

Early Wednesday, the IDF intercepted a shipment of Syrian-made M-302 rockets with a range of up to 200 kilometers (125 miles). The missiles, which apparently went through Iraqi airspace to Iran and then by ship to the Red Sea, were likely headed to Sudan. From there, they would have gone by truck through the (mostly unguarded) Sinai to Gaza, from which they would have been capable of reaching nearly all of Israel.

 

That makes this a very bad day for the annual "Obama slashes Israeli missile defense programs and Congress puts the money back" dance. For years, the Obama Administration has sent a budget to Capitol Hill that included steep reductions in prior year spending for cooperative U.S.-Israel missile defense programs. Congress complains loudly then puts in the money it believes the programs merit. With the release of the budget figures two years ago, Defense News noted: “The Obama administration's recently released budget request details a cut in funding to the "Israeli Cooperative," as the jointly developed Arrow and David's Sling programs are known, from $106.1 million in fiscal 2012 to $99.9 million in fiscal 2013. And since Congress more than doubled the administration's request last year to $235.7 million, President Obama's budget would more than halve the cooperative's funding. Moreover, this marks the third consecutive year that the administration has requested less funding and it will not be the last, according to its own budget projections. And, indeed, the 2013 request (for 2014 spending) was $96 million, to which Congress added $174 million. The 2014 request (for 2015 spending) is $96.8 million for the "Israeli Cooperative."

 

Although the bipartisan effort in Congress keeps the money at a relatively even level, this is a terrible way for the Obama Administration to do business: Israel has made excellent use of the money and accounts for it in a well-established manner – unlike, say, much larger appropriations for Pakistan or Afghanistan. The American defense establishment wants, needs and appreciates Israeli missile defense capabilities and innovation. Money spent in cooperation with Israel on missile defense greatly expands the reach of American R&D dollars. And perhaps most important: When the President is leaning hard on Israel to be forthcoming and flexible on issues of its own short and long-term security, the signal that missile defenses are expendable as cost-cutting maneuver sends the wrong signal to both friends and adversaries.

 

The President told reporter Jeffrey Goldberg in a widely disseminated interview: “The legitimate question for Israel would be making sure that their core security needs are still met as a framework for negotiations led to an actual peace deal. [American interlocutors] have come up with a plan for how you would deal with the Jordan Valley, how you would deal with potential threats to Israel that are unprecedented in detail, unprecedented in scope.”

 

It might seem ungracious to point out that the highest echelon of Israel's defense and political establishment reject the fundamental American premise: that a multinational force, rather than the IDF, in the Jordan Valley will protect Israel. Furthermore, the plan is time-defined. With the disintegration of state boundaries around Israel and the rise of ungoverned or under-governed spaces that spawn jihadist groups of varying allegiance, size, and lethality, what happens when the end point is reached but the threats remain either within the West Bank or beyond?

 

The President was not unmindful of the larger problems: “You have the chaos that's been swirling around the Middle East…Syria…Lebanon…Gaza. And understandably, a lot of people (in Israel) ask themselves, 'Can we afford to have that potential chaos on our borders, so close to our cities? …There would still be huge questions about what happens in Gaza, but I actually think Hamas would be greatly damaged by the prospect of real peace.”

 

Does the president really believe that Hamas, the Palestinian franchise of the Muslim Brotherhood – supported, oddly, by Iran – would throw in the revolutionary towel if Israel makes a deal with Mahmoud Abbas for the West Bank? "Oh, okay," Ismail Haniyah, Hamas's boss in Gaza might say, "Abbas got a rump state for which he had to pay with a fixed Israeli border, no right of return and recognition of Israel as a Jewish State (Kerry parameters). I guess there's nothing for us to do but give up our Charter, our arms, and plans for the elimination of the Zionist entity, not to mention Fatah, and do the same. Never mind the Brotherhood, and never mind Iran." Not likely.

 

What worries Hamas in Gaza is the elimination of its sources of weapons supply; the possibility that Egypt will enforce the closure of the smuggling tunnels from Sinai; Israel's ability to intercept weapons shipments (not all, not all the time, but a lot of them); and the fact that Israel's entire defense calculus shifted the moment Iron Dome proved its worth. Israel no longer has to respond to every hostile act by Hamas. It takes the hair-trigger off the situation when the Israeli government can tell the public, "We can defend you from rockets; we ARE defending you; and we will determine how best to do that."

 

What is true for Gaza is true for Syria, Lebanon, and even for Iran. It should be a high priority for the Administration to ensure that Israel does not feel the need to engage in hostilities with the neighbors based on the agitation of an anxious populace. Missile defense buys time through reassurance for sound strategic reasoning, and the Administration should appreciate – and fund – that.

 

Even The Washington Post has come to understand that the President's management of foreign policy is:    based more on how he thinks the world should operate than on reality. It was a world in which "the tide of war is receding" and the United States could, without much risk, radically reduce the size of its armed forces. Other leaders, in this vision, would behave rationally and in the interest of their people and the world. Invasions, brute force, great-power games and shifting alliances – these were things of the past. … [Some leaders] will not be deterred by the disapproval of their peers, the weight of world opinion or even disinvestment by Silicon Valley companies. They are concerned primarily with maintaining their holds on power.

 

As long as that is true in Iran, Syria, Russia, Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon, Israel will have to rely on its military and intelligence capabilities to defend its people. President Obama has a well-known bias against missile defenses – our own and everyone else's. So perhaps the President is just having and eating his cake: while he knows Congress will change it, HIS budget doesn't support missile defense. While it is a poor choice on the part of the Administration to game that money, the so-far stalwart support of a Congress that understands that both Israel's security and our own require missiles defense is welcome.

                                                                         

                                                                       

Contents
                                        

'IDF MORE ADVANCED AND ACCURATE THAN EVER’                        

Kobi Finkler & Ari Yashar                 

Arutz Sheva, Mar. 25, 2014

 

A senior IDF source discussed the encouraging advancements as well as the budget constraints of the army on Tuesday, exactly a week after an IAF airstrike hit Syrian army posts in response to an explosive placed on Israel's border. "All of the national infrastructure is in the IDF's scopes," reported the source. "The army is preparing for the threats of the enemy, and for all scenarios demanding an immediate attack without time to prepare."

 

Speaking about the IDF's capabilities, the source noted "we are armed today with the most effective, advanced and, most importantly, precise weapons, that are much faster than in the past…If in the (2006) Second Lebanon War a time frame of half an hour was needed to conduct an air strike to take out an immediate threat, today that time frame stands at a mere two minutes," revealed the source.

 

IDF acquisitions ensure that the army will only continue to improve, according to the source. "We are about to acquire a new cannon, which not only fires at a rate four times faster than previous cannons, but also its precision and destructive power allow the army to respond immediately to threats, and also to drastically minimize the number of fighters in the cannon battery and unit," emphasized the IDF source.

 

"We're a very effective army," acknowledged the official. "You can compare the number of fighters under the Israeli air force's brigadier general as opposed to the same general in Western armies to understand how effective we are."

 

The senior captain subtly criticized IDF budget cuts, noting "the budget sword raised against the army forces us constantly to make creative technological solutions that can make operational activities cheaper while conserving human resources, such as in the new cannon. We're losing every fifth person in the standing army, and that isn't easy."

 

While efforts are being made to streamline the IDF and its chain of command, the source emphasized the importance of a strong presence on the ground. "It's true there is accurate fire, and quality information," noted the IDF official, "but still it's clear that the topic of ground maneuvers was and remains the greatest preparation need in the army." Without controlling the ground the IDF will never win a war, reports the source. "Without the exposed chest of the regiment commander standing opposite the terrorist and killing him, we won't be able to finish the fighting, and therefore the need for ground maneuvers is essential."

 

In closing, the source noted "we need to reach a situation where the amount of time fighting is reduced to minimize the damage to the home front as much as possible. That's our mission and we are preparing for it intensively, even in these days of resource cuts and reserve duty day cuts."                                                                                       

                                                                                                        Contents
                                  
              

THE SPIRIT OF MAHAL LIVES ON              

Smoky Simon                                                                                Jerusalem Post, Feb. 27, 2014

 

On Tuesday night, the South African Zionist Federation (Israel) hosted the 2014 TELFED Gala Dinner and Lifetime Achievement Award Celebration. The evening brought attention to South Africans’ contributions to the State of Israel and honored two exceptional South African olim: Smoky Simon and Morris Kahn. Approximately 300 members of the community attended, as did South African Ambassador to Israel Sisa Ngombane. Simon and Kahn presented moving and informative speeches, sharing remarkable histories that fascinated the audience. Below is an adapted version of Simon’s speech.

For me, at the age of almost 94, this evening presents an outstanding opportunity to express my profound gratitude for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me along my life’s journey. First and foremost, I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Almighty, which behooves me to recite the Shehehiyanu prayer. Secondly, to my family. To my wife Myra, who has been at my side for 66 years, and to our four children – Philippa, Saul, Dan and Aliza, who have given us great pleasure. We now have 15 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, of whom we are exceedingly proud. By the way, Myra is a veteran of two wars – she was trained and flew as a meteorologist in the South African Air Force in World War II, and she served as the first instructor in meteorology in the Israel Air Force in the War of Independence. My two sons Saul and Dan were fighter pilots in the IAF.

Three events have had a life-changing impact on my existence. Firstly, in January 1941, I volunteered to serve in the war against Nazi Germany. I was trained as a navigator-bombardier and served in the South African Air Force and Royal Air Force for five years in many theaters of that cruel war, from which I thankfully emerged alive and unhurt.

Secondly, in May 1948, I volunteered together with Myra to fight in the impending war against the Arabs, and I can state without hesitation that this was my finest hour and the most thrilling experience of my life.

There can be no doubt that the Holocaust, the Declaration of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, and the War of Independence were the absolute pinnacles of 2,000 years of Jewish history – a history of exile, oppression and injustice. On May 15, 1948, six Arab Armies attacked Israel – Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Kaukji’s Army of Liberation. Britain had supplied Egypt, Iraq and Jordan with aircraft, tanks and artillery.

France had supplied tanks and artillery to Syria and Lebanon. The Egyptian Air Force had a fleet of 62 frontline British Spitfire aircraft plus a squadron or two of Italian Macchi fighter aircraft. Israel did not have a single combat aircraft nor a single anti-aircraft gun. There was a total and overwhelming imbalance of troops and military equipment in favor of the Arabs. Britain, the US and the Arabs were convinced that the war would be over within a few weeks.

On May 14, the Jordanian Army, led by British officers, overran the Etzion Block – 240 military and civilians were killed, 420 were taken prisoners- of-war, and the kibbutz was burnt down. Jerusalem was under siege, and there was a tremendous shortage of water, food and military equipment. The road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem had been cut off by the Arabs. Tel Aviv was under constant attack from the Egyptian Air Force and suffered tremendous casualties. In its attempt to capture the British Fortress at Latrun, which had been handed over by the British to the Jordanian Army, the Israeli forces sustained tremendously heavy losses. The Egyptian Army had overrun the kibbutzim in the Negev, which had fought courageously with hand grenades and rifles against tanks and armored vehicles, and by May 29 the Egyptian Army had penetrated into Israel right up to Ashdod, 30 km. from Tel Aviv, and if Tel Aviv had fallen, the war would have been over.

Against this very somber background, the Israel Air Force was born in the heat of battle. We started flying in small civil aircraft – which had been smuggled out of South Africa. The crew consisted of a pilot and a “bomb-chucker,” who held a 20-kilo or a 25-kilo bomb plus incendiary bomblets on his lap, which he would drop manually on the Arab targets. Massive efforts were being conducted to recruit World War II air force veterans to join the nascent IAF, and at the same time, an incredible and heroic operation of smuggling aircraft into Israel was taking place. This was perhaps the biggest and most noble and ethical smuggling operation in history.

On Friday afternoon of May 14, at the very time that Ben-Gurion was declaring the establishment of the State of Israel, the late South African Boris Senior as pilot and myself as navigator with an Israeli aerial photographer flew in one of the Bonanzas smuggled out of South Africa on the IAF’s very first operational mission for the purpose of reporting to army headquarters on the strength of the invading Jordanian forces. The Jordanian Army was the first Arab army to attack Israel, and on that flight we saw the devastation which had been wrought on the Etzion Bloc.

In parallel to the arrival of the smuggled aircraft, combat air crews which had been recruited from abroad were coming into Israel. These volunteers were known as “Mahal,” which is a Hebrew acronym for “Mitnadvei Hutz La’aretz,” meaning “volunteers from abroad.” During the war, a total of 426 combat flying crews (including 81 from South Africa) served in the IAF – pilots, navigators, bombardiers, flight engineers, air gunners, radio operators, aerial photographers. These World War II veterans contributed their invaluable experience and skills in support of Israel’s war effort. In June 1948, I was appointed chief of air operations of the IAF. By the grace of God, on May 29, on the very day that the Egyptian Army had reached Ashdod, the IAF’s first four Messershmitts, which were smuggled out of Czechoslovakia, became operational.

The Egyptian Army was of course not aware that Israel had just acquired combat aircraft, and suddenly four Israeli fighter aircraft attacked the Egyptian Army with bombs, cannons and guns. The Egyptians were stunned and destabilized, and for several days and nights, the Israel Air Force maintained continuous attacks and the Egyptians never advanced beyond Ashdod. By July 1948, 70 percent of Israel’s territory was occupied by the Arab armies, but the tide of war was starting to change in Israel’s favor.

The final drive against the Egyptians took place in December 1948 to January 1949. By all accounts, it was a brilliant campaign under the command of Gen. Yigal Alon with Yitzhak Rabin as chief of operations. The Egyptians were driven out of the Negev and into the Sinai Peninsula. And then came a United Nations Security Council directive that a final cease-fire in the war would take effect on January 7 at 16:00 hours.

Israel’s victory in the War of Independence has no parallel in military history. Up to this point, I have focused on the Mahal component in the IAF, in which I served, but let me add that this was only a part of the Mahal story. There were in all 4,800 Mahalniks (including 832 from South Africa) who came from 59 countries to fight for Israel – men and women, Jews and non-Jews. The Mahalniks included men like Mickey Marcus, who had been a colonel in the US Army in World War II. He was appointed to command the Jerusalem Front, and also commanded the building of the Burma Road, which relieved the siege of Jerusalem. Paul Shulman (an American) was the first commander of the Israel Navy. Ben Dunkelman, a highly decorated Canadian officer in World War II, was the commander of the 7th Brigade, which liberated the Lower and Upper Galilee. Mahalniks held positions of command and leadership in most branches of the armed forces.

What a rare privilege it had been for me to have served as chief of air operations during this critical and dramatic period in Israel’s history. In 1968, I was elected chairman of World Mahal. We had a number of very successful Mahal reunions in Israel, and we kept in close touch with Mahal Associations abroad, which regretfully have now mostly faded away. Most of the Mahalniks who are still alive are indeed a highly endangered species. I recently launched Mahal’s final assignment by undertaking to expand and to increase the facilities of the Michael Levin Center for Lone Soldiers in Tel Aviv, where Mahalniks from abroad, together with Israeli lone soldiers, can relax and mingle with each other. Happily the tradition of Mahal lives on. There is a new intake of Mahalniks into the IDF each year, who serve for a period of 18 months. I have the gratifying experience of giving talks to these new volunteers prior to their induction into the Army. It is truly heart-warming to know that to this very day, Jews from the Diaspora are willing to risk their lives in defense of the State of Israel.

After my two-and-a-half years of service in the Israel Air Force, Myra and I returned to South Africa, and in 1962 we came on aliya with our four children. I had the same trepidations and uncertainties as most olim as to whether I would be able to earn a living in Israel for my family. Having worked in South Africa as an agent for the Sun Life of Canada for 10 years, I entered the life insurance field in Israel. In 1965, I made the best business decision of my life. I invited a guy by the name of Moshe Wiesel to join me as a partner in my insurance agency, and our partnership has endured for 49 years…                                                             

[To Read the Full Article Click the Link –Ed.]    

                            

On Topic

 

The Serious Side of Dressing Up: The Art of Camouflage (Video): IDF Blog, Mar. 16, 2014—In brush, sand or snow, IDF soldiers definitely know how to dress up. As people throughout Israel find costumes for Purim, IDF soldiers put even the most elaborate ensembles to shame.

‘Most Advanced’ Gaza-Israel Tunnel Is Found: Jodi Rudoren, New York Times, Mar. 21, 2014 —The Israeli military announced on Friday that it had uncovered a sophisticated tunnel that stretched hundreds of yards into its territory from the Gaza Strip and could have been used to attack or kidnap Israelis.

Meet the Steel Cats: Preventing Terror on the Gaza Border: IDF Blog, Mar. 25, 2014—The IDF Mechanical Engineering Company of the Northern Division in Gaza faces many challenges.

Israel Open to Joint Missile Defense With Jordan, Egypt: Dan Williams, Reuters, Mar. 10, 2014— A U.S. general proposed on Monday that Israel upgrade its anti-missile systems to include neighboring Jordan and possibly Egypt, and an Israeli official cautiously welcomed the idea.

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 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

ON CRIMEA & UKRAINE: “THE PAST…ISN’T EVEN THE PAST” HAND-WRINGING ISN’T POLICY— PUTIN UNDETERRED BY O.’S FAILED “RESET” — FOREIGN POLICY MAY YET BECOME A 2014 ELECTION ISSUE

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 Price of Failed Leadership: Mitt Romney, Wall Street Journal, Mar. 17, 2014— Why are there no good choices? From Crimea to North Korea, from Syria to Egypt, and from Iraq to Afghanistan, America apparently has no good options.

Russia’s Brutality With Ukraine is Nothing New: George F. Will, Washington Post, Mar. 17, 2014—While Vladimir Putin, Stalin’s spawn, ponders what to do with what remains of Ukraine, remember: Nine years before the January 1942 Wannsee Conference, at which the Nazis embarked on industrialized genocide, Stalin deliberately inflicted genocidal starvation on Ukraine.

Obama’s Failed Foreign Policy Just Another Drag on Democrats: John Podhoretz, New York Post, Mar. 18, 2014 —What could Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Crimea possibly have to do with the upcoming midterm elections in the United States? Indirectly, a very great deal. But only indirectly.

How to Stop — or Slow — Putin: Charles Krauthammer, National Post, Mar. 13, 2013—The president of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council challenges critics of President Obama’s Ukraine policy by saying, “What are you going to do, send the 101st Airborne into Crimea?” Not exactly subtle. And rather silly, considering that no one has proposed such a thing.

 

On Topic Links

 

The West’s Obligation to Ukraine: Madeleine Albright & Jim O’Brien, Washington Post, Mar. 21, 2014

Old Foes, New Allies?: Edan Landau, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 23, 2014

Putin's Unhindered Advance Won't Go Unnoticed in China: Edward N. Luttwak, Nekkei Asian Review, Mar. 16, 2014

Defense: Wishing the World Away: Rich Lowry, New York Post, Feb. 28, 2014

 

                                               

THE PRICE OF FAILED LEADERSHIP                                              

Mitt Romney                                                                                             

Wall Street Journal, Mar. 17, 2014

 

Why are there no good choices? From Crimea to North Korea, from Syria to Egypt, and from Iraq to Afghanistan, America apparently has no good options. If possession is nine-tenths of the law, Russia owns Crimea and all we can do is sanction and disinvite—and wring our hands. Iran is following North Korea's nuclear path, but it seems that we can only entreat Iran to sign the same kind of agreement North Korea once signed, undoubtedly with the same result. Our tough talk about a red line in Syria prompted Vladimir Putin's sleight of hand, leaving the chemicals and killings much as they were. We say Bashar Assad must go, but aligning with his al Qaeda-backed opposition is an unacceptable option. And how can it be that Iraq and Afghanistan each refused to sign the status-of-forces agreement with us—with the very nation that shed the blood of thousands of our bravest for them?

 

Why, across the world, are America's hands so tied? A large part of the answer is our leader's terrible timing. In virtually every foreign-affairs crisis we have faced these past five years, there was a point when America had good choices and good options. There was a juncture when America had the potential to influence events. But we failed to act at the propitious point; that moment having passed, we were left without acceptable options. In foreign affairs as in life, there is, as Shakespeare had it, "a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries."

 

When protests in Ukraine grew and violence ensued, it was surely evident to people in the intelligence community—and to the White House—that President Putin might try to take advantage of the situation to capture Crimea, or more. That was the time to talk with our global allies about punishments and sanctions, to secure their solidarity, and to communicate these to the Russian president. These steps, plus assurances that we would not exclude Russia from its base in Sevastopol or threaten its influence in Kiev, might have dissuaded him from invasion.

 

Months before the rebellion began in Syria in 2011, a foreign leader I met with predicted that Assad would soon fall from power. Surely the White House saw what this observer saw. As the rebellion erupted, the time was ripe for us to bring together moderate leaders who would have been easy enough for us to identify, to assure the Alawites that they would have a future post-Assad, and to see that the rebels were well armed.

The advent of the Arab Spring may or may not have been foreseen by our intelligence community, but after Tunisia, it was predictable that Egypt might also become engulfed. At that point, pushing our friend Hosni Mubarak to take rapid and bold steps toward reform, as did Jordan's king, might well have saved lives and preserved the U.S.-Egypt alliance. The time for securing the status-of-forces signatures from leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan was before we announced in 2011 our troop-withdrawal timeline, not after it. In negotiations, you get something when the person across the table wants something from you, not after you have already given it away.

 

Able leaders anticipate events, prepare for them, and act in time to shape them. My career in business and politics has exposed me to scores of people in leadership positions, only a few of whom actually have these qualities. Some simply cannot envision the future and are thus unpleasantly surprised when it arrives. Some simply hope for the best. Others succumb to analysis paralysis, weighing trends and forecasts and choices beyond the time of opportunity. President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton traveled the world in pursuit of their promise to reset relations and to build friendships across the globe. Their failure has been painfully evident: It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office, and now Russia is in Ukraine. Part of their failure, I submit, is due to their failure to act when action was possible, and needed. A chastened president and Secretary of State Kerry, a year into his job, can yet succeed, and for the country's sake, must succeed. Timing is of the essence.

                                                                         

Contents
                                        

RUSSIA’S BRUTALITY WITH UKRAINE IS NOTHING NEW

George F. Will                                                                                          Washington Post, Mar. 17, 2014

 

…While Vladimir Putin, Stalin’s spawn, ponders what to do with what remains of Ukraine, remember: Nine years before the January 1942 Wannsee Conference, at which the Nazis embarked on industrialized genocide, Stalin deliberately inflicted genocidal starvation on Ukraine.

 

To fathom the tangled forces, including powerful ones of memory, at work in that singularly tormented place, begin with Timothy Snyder’s stunning book. Secretary of State John Kerry has called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “a 19th-century act in the 21st century.” Snyder reminds us that “Europeans deliberately starved Europeans in horrific numbers in the middle of the 20th century.” Here is Snyder’s distillation of a Welsh journalist’s description of a Ukrainian city:

 

“People appeared at 2 o’clock in the morning to queue in front of shops that did not open until 7. On an average day 40,000 people would wait for bread. Those in line were so desperate to keep their places that they would cling to the belts of those immediately in front of them. . . . The waiting lasted all day, and sometimes for two. . . . Somewhere in line a woman would wail, and the moaning would echo up and down the line, so that the whole group of thousands sounded like a single animal with an elemental fear.”

 

This, which occurred about as close to Paris as Washington is to Denver, was an engineered famine, the intended result of Stalin’s decision that agriculture should be collectivized and the “kulaks” — prosperous farmers — should be “liquidated as a class.” In January 1933, Stalin, writes Snyder, sealed Ukraine’s borders so peasants could not escape and sealed the cities so peasants could not go there to beg. By spring, more than 10,000 Ukrainians were dying each day, more than the 6,000 Jews who perished daily in Auschwitz at the peak of extermination in the spring of 1944.

 

Soon many Ukrainian children resembled “embryos out of alcohol bottles” (Arthur Koestler’s description) and there were, in Snyder’s words, “roving bands of cannibals”: “In the villages smoke coming from a cottage chimney was a suspicious sign, since it tended to mean that cannibals were eating a kill or that families were roasting one of their members.”

 

Snyder, a Yale historian, is judicious about estimates of Ukrainian deaths from hunger and related diseases, settling on an educated guess of approximately 3.3 million, in 1932-33. He says that when “the Soviet census of 1937 found 8 million fewer people than projected,” many of the missing being victims of starvation in Ukraine and elsewhere (and the children they did not have), Stalin “had the responsible demographers executed.”

 

Putin, who was socialized in the Soviet-era KGB apparatus of oppression, aspires to reverse the Soviet Union’s collapse, which he considers “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century.” Herewith a final description from Snyder of the consequences of the Soviet system, the passing of which Putin so regrets:

 

“One spring morning, amidst the piles of dead peasants at the Kharkiv market, an infant suckled the breast of its mother, whose face was a lifeless gray. Passersby had seen this before . . . that precise scene, the tiny mouth, the last drops of milk, the cold nipple. The Ukrainians had a term for this. They said to themselves, quietly, as they passed: ‘These are the buds of the socialist spring.’ ”

 

U.S. policymakers, having allowed their wishes to father their thoughts, find Putin incomprehensible. He is a barbarian but not a monster, and hence no Stalin. But he has been coarsened, in ways difficult for civilized people to understand, by certain continuities, institutional and emotional, with an almost unimaginably vicious past. And as Ukraine, a bubbling stew of tensions and hatreds, struggles with its identity and aspirations, Americans should warily remember William Faulkner’s aphorism: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

                                                                                                 

Contents

                                               

OBAMA’S FAILED FOREIGN POLICY

JUST ANOTHER DRAG ON DEMOCRATS                                          

John Podhoretz                                                                                        

New York Post, Mar. 18, 2014

 

What could Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Crimea possibly have to do with the upcoming midterm elections in the United States? Indirectly, a very great deal. But only indirectly. It has become the most conventional of conventional wisdoms that American voters have tired of controversies beyond our shores, like Crimea. They want to focus on problems at home, not to get involved in what a notable figure of the 1930s described in a different context as “a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing.” This opinion is supported by an undeniable sea-change in the nation’s attitude toward military power generally: A bipartisan consensus in Washington has effectively agreed to shrink the US military to its smallest size since the demobilization after World War II, which will make the projection of American power abroad vastly more difficult in the coming decade.

 

Left-liberal ambivalence about military spending is decades old. But these liberals have now found unexpected allies in today’s House Republicans, who believe they’re serving the wants and wishes of their constituents on reducing the federal debt by supporting these severe cuts. Nearly half the GOP members of the House were first elected in 2010 or 2012. This means they are from the post-Bush, post-Iraq era, and don’t share the older conservative zeal for national defense and national security.

 

The new Republican Party has, to some extent, detached itself from its long-established moorings. With the exception of Ted Cruz, the loudest and most eloquent voices attacking President Obama on foreign-policy matters over the past few days have been John McCain and Mitt Romney, both of whom the president easily defeated and who therefore define their party’s past rather than its future. And yet, even if Republican politicians don’t take the lead in pressing the argument, there is strong reason to believe Barack Obama will be held accountable for the Crimean disaster by voters — and that Democratic candidates will pay the price in November. He is the president. It’s his watch. Americans may be war-weary, but they still look to the man in the White House to provide an overall sense of stability and safety.

 

Democrats need Americans to feel positively about the president going into the 2014 elections. All election experts say the party’s showing nationally in November will correlate strongly with how the country feels about the job the president is doing.  His poll numbers sank into the low 40s with the botching of the ObamaCare rollout. The incompetence and sense of disorder caused by that domestic-policy catastrophe can only be deepened by the worldwide chaos right now, and will only make the effort to climb out of the hole all the more difficult — and unlikely. At the least, it should feel like the president has his hand on the tiller, keeping things steady or trying to. And it doesn’t feel that way.

 

Russia has stolen Crimea, and is on the verge of gobbling up Eastern Ukraine. We protest, and our UN ambassador is photographed berating their UN ambassador — while Putin is celebrated in Moscow with a massive parade that gives off a May-Day-in-the-Communist-Soviet-Union vibe. Syria isn’t dismantling its chemical weapons, as it promised Russia and the United States it would do by this week to avoid an American airstrike last September. Why should it? The last rebel stronghold has fallen to the regime, because Syria understood it could act with utter impunity once the September deal had been struck. Syria has effectively won its civil war, at a cost of perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives, in part because it used chemical weapons and got away with it. Now it’s going to keep them, too. Oh, and it’s started attacking border towns in Lebanon for good measure.

 

On another front, we’ve gone back into talks with Iran on its nuclear program again, only a day after a senior State Department official told Reuters that Iran is “very actively trying to procure items for their nuclear program and missile program and other programs” — a clear violation of the agreement that started the talks and of existing UN resolutions. Meanwhile, the president has spent two days meeting with the head of the Palestinian Authority begging the man to accept a simple trade — thousands of square miles for a Palestinian state in exchange for his signature on a piece of paper that says, yes, Israel is a Jewish state. The president won’t get it.

 

Who knows what hell there will be to pay after these “framework” talks on which our secretary of state has labored relentlessly for seven months break down. Even the haunting confusion over the missing Malaysian aircraft, for which no rational person could hold our president responsible, is surely contributing to a general sense that the world is coming unglued — and that the president is hunting around under his desk for a glue stick he hopes one of his predecessors might have left there for him.

                                                                                         

Contents
                                  
              

HOW TO STOP — OR SLOW — PUTIN                                              

Charles Krauthammer                                                                          

Washington Post, Mar. 13, 2014

 

The president of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council challenges critics of President Obama’s Ukraine policy by saying, “What are you going to do, send the 101st Airborne into Crimea?” Not exactly subtle. And rather silly, considering that no one has proposed such a thing. The alternative to passivity is not war but a serious foreign policy. For the past five years, Obama’s fruitless accommodationism has invited the kind of aggressiveness demonstrated by Iran in Syria, China in the East China Sea and Russia in Ukraine. But what’s done is done. Put that aside. What is to be done now? We have three objectives. In ascending order of difficulty: Reassure NATO. Deter further Russian incursion into Ukraine. Reverse the annexation of Crimea.

Reassure NATO: We’re already sending U.S. aircraft to patrol the airspace of the Baltic states. That’s not enough. Send the chairman of the Joint Chiefs to the Baltics to arrange joint maneuvers. Same for the four NATO countries bordering Ukraine — Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. Urgently revive the original missile-defense agreements concluded with Poland and the Czech Republic before Obama canceled them unilaterally to appease Russia. (But first make sure that the respective governments are willing to sign on again after Obama left them hanging five years ago.)

 

Deter Russia in Ukraine: Extend the Black Sea maneuvers in which the USS Truxtun is currently engaged with Romania and Bulgaria. These were previously scheduled. Order immediate — and continual — follow-ons. Declare that any further Russian military incursion beyond Crimea will lead to a rapid and favorable response from NATO to any request from Kiev for weapons. These would be accompanied by significant numbers of NATO trainers and advisers.

This is no land-war strategy. This is the “tripwire” strategy successful for half a century in Germany and Korea. Any Russian push into western Ukraine would then engage a thin tripwire of NATO trainer/advisers. That is something the most rabid Soviet expansionist never risked. Nor would Putin. It would, therefore, establish a ring of protection at least around the core of western Ukraine.

 

Reverse the annexation of Crimea: Clearly the most difficult. In the short run, likely impossible. There are no military cards to play, Russia holding all of them. Ukraine’s forces are very weak. The steps must be diplomatic and economic. First, Crimean secession under Russian occupation must lead to Russia’s immediate expulsion from the G-8. To assuage the tremulous Angela Merkel, we could do it by subtraction: All seven democracies withdraw from the G-8, then instantly reconstitute as the original G-7.

 

As for economic sanctions, they are currently puny. We haven’t done a thing. We haven’t even named names. We’ve just authorized the penalizing of individuals. Name the names, freeze their accounts. But any real effect will require broader sanctions and for that we need European cooperation. The ultimate sanction is to cut off Russian oligarchs, companies and banks from the Western financial system. That’s the economic “nuclear option” that brought Iran to its knees and to the negotiating table. It would have a devastating effect on Putin’s economy. As of now, the Germans, French and British have balked. They have too much economic interest in the Moscow connection. Which means we can do nothing decisive in the short or even medium term. But we can severely squeeze Russia in the long term. How? For serious sanctions to become possible, Europe must first be weaned off Russian gas. Obama should order the Energy Department to expedite authorization for roughly 25 liquified natural gas export facilities. Demand all decisions within six weeks. And express major U.S. support for a southern-route pipeline to export Caspian Sea gas to Europe without traversing Russia or Ukraine.

 

Second, call for urgent bipartisan consultation with congressional leaders for an emergency increase in defense spending, restoring at least $100 billion annually to the defense budget to keep U.S. armed forces at current strength or greater. Obama won’t do it, but he should. Nothing demonstrates American global retreat more than a budget that reduces the U.S. Army to 1940 levels. Obama is not the first president to conduct a weak foreign policy. Jimmy Carter was similarly inclined — until Russia invaded Afghanistan, at which point the scales fell from Carter’s eyes. He responded boldly: imposing the grain embargo on the Soviets, boycotting the Moscow Olympics, increasing defense spending and ostentatiously sending a machine-gun-toting Zbigniew Brzezinski to the Khyber Pass, symbolizing the massive military aid we began sending the mujahideen, whose insurgency so bled the Russians over the next decade that they not only lost Afghanistan but were fatally weakened as a global imperial power. Invasion woke Carter from his illusions. Will it wake Obama?

 

On Topic

 

The West’s Obligation to Ukraine: Madeleine Albright & Jim O’Brien, Washington Post, Mar. 21, 2014—When President Obama and European allies meet next week, they can begin forming a meaningful response to Vladi­mir Putin’s adventurism.

Old Foes, New Allies?: Edan Landau, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 23, 2014 —During the past few months, we have witnessed what can only be perceived as a strategic change in US foreign and defense policy.

Putin's Unhindered Advance Won't Go Unnoticed in China: Edward N. Luttwak, Nekkei Asian Review, Mar. 16, 2014 —China is claiming hundreds of islands and reefs, along with millions of square kilometers of ocean, from Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Defense: Wishing the World Away: Rich Lowry, New York Post, Feb. 28, 2014—The Obama administration says that we need to end what it calls “the era of austerity” in Washington.

 

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“DOOMED” M.E. “PEACE PROCESS” ABBAS INCONSISTENT ON REFUGEE ISSUE, “CHAOS” WITHIN FATAH, & OBAMA P.P. TALKING POINTS

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 Failure of the Mideast 'Peace Process': Melanie Phillips, Wall Street Journal, Mar. 20, 2014— The Middle East peace process seems all but doomed.

The World From Here: Has Obama Unmasked Abbas?: Dan Diker, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 18, 2014 — The March 17 meeting between US President Barack Obama and PA President Mahmoud Abbas revealed little new information. There was no breakthrough.

Has Mahmoud Abbas Really Accepted the Clinton Parameters on the Refugee Problem?: Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Mar. 19, 2014 — An analysis of Mahmoud Abbas’ speech to the Fatah Revolutionary Council before he met with President Barack Obama in Washington on March 17 reveals that his claim to have accepted the Clinton Parameters on the refugee issue is not consistent with his demand for recognition of the personal right of return of each individual refugee.                                  

Four Things President Obama Should Tell Mahmoud Abbas: Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Fox News, Mar. 17, 2014 — On Yom Kippur, 1972, I was standing alongside a Soviet Jewish dissident outside Moscow’s lone synagogue when we were suddenly surrounded by KGB agents. Sensing my alarm, the refusenik sought to disarm my fear with some vintage Soviet humor.
 

On Topic Links

 

Tchaikovsky Flashwaltz at Hadassah Hospital (Video): Hadassah.org

Kerry is Not Pro-Palestinian Enough for Leftist US Jews: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 13, 2014

Israel's Top 5 Medical Breakthroughs in 2013: Virtual Jerusalem, Dec. 31, 2013

                                               

THE FAILURE OF THE MIDEAST 'PEACE PROCESS'                                                                  

Melanie Phillips                                                                          

Wall Street Journal, Mar. 20, 2014

 

The Middle East peace process seems all but doomed. Although U.S. President Barack Obama said he remained "convinced" it could still succeed when he met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas this week, Secretary of State John Kerry has said trust between the Israelis and the Palestinians has reached a "nadir." David Cameron visited Jerusalem and Bethlehem last week, his first visit to the region after four years as British Prime Minister. His government has kept the Middle East at arm's length. It is Secretary Kerry who has made all the running in this latest peace process, endlessly shuttling between the two sides.

 

Ostensibly, both the U.S. and the U.K. are urging both sides equally to take "tough political risks," as Mr. Obama put it, for peace. Alas, such exhortations seem to elicit merely disdain from both Jews and Arabs.

 

A poll by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University revealed last week that 64% of Israelis do not trust Mr. Kerry to treat Israel's security as a "crucial factor" in the framework peace proposal, while some 53% of Israeli Arabs don't trust him either. Both the U.S. and Britain present themselves as Israel's candid friends. Israel doesn't quite see it like that.

 

For all his well-received remarks in the Knesset, where he declared his "unbreakable" belief in Israel and "rock solid" commitment to its security, Mr. Cameron's government is widely viewed there with suspicion. Last year, the U.K. played a key role in the EU's provocative decision to label goods made in the disputed territories, and even issued an explicit warning to British companies over the risks of doing business there—initiatives the Israelis regarded as gratuitous acts of aggression.

 

More important, there is also deep shock within Israel at what it sees as bullying by the U.S. When President Obama met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month, he issued a veiled threat that if Israel did not accept the Kerry framework, the U.S. would no longer defend Israel against its enemies at the U.N. and elsewhere. This followed Mr. Kerry's remark last year that if Israel stymied the peace process, it might soon be facing an international delegitimization campaign "on steroids."

 

In Israel, there is bewilderment that it alone is being held responsible for the absence of peace. After all, while Mr. Netanyahu has accepted the prospect of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, Mr. Abbas has said repeatedly that the Palestinians will never accept that Israel is a Jewish state. He also continues to insist on the right of every Palestinian "refugee" to immigrate not just to Palestine but also to Israel, which would destroy it as the Jewish national home. In addition, despite President Obama's statement this week that Mr. Abbas has "consistently renounced violence," the Palestinian Authority continues to incite hatred against Israel through its educational materials and regime-controlled media, and permits and glorifies acts of terrorism by the al Aqsa brigades and others.

 

Yet the U.S. and U.K. hold only Israel's feet to the fire. Why? An important part of the answer lies in the inherent nature of the "peace process" itself. This rests on two premises. The first is the Western fallacy that everyone in the world is governed by reason and material self-interest, whereas in fact some have non-negotiable agendas. The second is the current liberal belief that trans-national instruments such as international law can transcend the grievances of nation states. War thus becomes a primitive throwback. It must be replaced by conflict resolution, negotiation and the "peace process." This then becomes a deeply problematic end in itself. Based on an amoral equivalence in such negotiations between aggressor and victim, the peace process has to be kept going at all costs if war is to be avoided. That means ignoring the fact that the aggressor in the dispute may still be violent or threatening. For if that is acknowledged, the "peace process" becomes something unconscionable: an enforced surrender to violence.

 

If the victims protest at this free pass to murderous aggression and refuse to submit, it is they who get the blame for derailing the peace process. That process is therefore innately inimical to justice, and biased in favor of the aggressor in a conflict. This is what happened in the Northern Ireland peace process. Widely viewed as a triumph in creating a power-sharing administration between the hitherto warring Catholic Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Protestant Unionists, this is the template for the Middle East negotiations and Mr. Kerry's last stand. The U.K. government first under John Major and then Tony Blair is credited with having turned IRA terrorists into statesmen by bringing them into this peace process. In fact, the IRA came in only because they were in effect beaten by the British army and British intelligence. They realized they could never win by military means. So they put their weapons "beyond use" and were given a share in the government of the province. But to keep the peace process on track, the Unionists were denied knowledge of certain facts, such as deals being made to not prosecute IRA terrorists. When these secret deals recently became public, Mr. Cameron had to move swiftly to stop the Unionists from destroying Northern Ireland's power-sharing administration, which brought the risk of a return of IRA terrorism.

 

Not so much a true peaceful democracy, therefore, as an institutionalized protection racket. For Northern Ireland, the peace process was a Faustian pact in one U.K. province. For Israel, the stakes are rather higher.

 

Contents
                                        

THE WORLD FROM HERE: HAS OBAMA UNMASKED ABBAS?            

Dan Diker                                                 

Jerusalem Post, Mar. 18, 2014

 

The March 17 meeting between US President Barack Obama and PA President Mahmoud Abbas revealed little new information. There was no breakthrough. This is little surprise; Abbas finds himself hemmed in by the US framework agreement, cornered by unprecedented dissension within the Fatah party, and left bereft of Palestinian support in the West Bank and Gaza. In previous diplomacy, since his four-year term began in 2005, Abbas had been able to dance around red lines to avoid compromises he could never make. However, the current American led efforts have tightened the screws on the Palestinians beyond their pain threshold. The tireless efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry and his team to broker a framework for further peace talks have revealed Palestinian red lines. They have also exposed fault lines within the ruling Fatah party that render Palestinian acceptance of Obama’s deal impossible.

Abbas is exposed on three issues in the American paper; long-term IDF active presence in the Jordan Valley, an undivided Jerusalem and recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. The irony in the Palestinian rejection of the American proposal on these issues is that it was King Abdullah of Jordan who had insisted that the IDF, and not Palestinian security forces, defend the Jordan Valley up to the Judea and Samaria hill ridge facing Jordan. Jordan’s insistence on Israeli troops in the Jordan Valley influenced the American position in recent months. On Jerusalem, Jordan’s insistence on remaining the sole custodian of the Muslim holy sites in line with the 1994 treaty of peace between Jordan and Israel that noted Jordan’s special role in Jerusalem also dashed Abbas’ demand to control the Temple Mount and most of the Old City. Abbas will not budge on the principle of mutual recognition; as he said repeatedly, “We will never sign an agreement recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.” Abbas’ local Arabic response to the US paper further illustrates his real positions.

As Abbas’s March 9, 2014, speech to Fatah revealed, Abbas remains faithful to Fatah’s founding principles. Fahmi Zaarir, vice-chairman of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, stated on Radio Palestine on March 11 that, “Everyone knows what these principles are: Palestine’s borders from the Jordan River to the 1967 lines and no compromise on all of Jerusalem along the ’67 lines.” Regarding refugees, Zaarir noted that, “They themselves will need to agree based on UN decisions and the Arab Initiative.” Abbas spoke of the “right of return” of all refugees – into the State of Israel itself. But Abbas’ Fatah constituency and wider Palestinian public clearly understood that Abbas’s commitment to Fatah’s principles also includes what had been affirmed in the 6th Fatah conference as recently as 2009 in Bethlehem. The Conference’s internal order document declared that, “The armed popular revolution is the only inevitable way to the liberation of Palestine,” and added that, “The struggle will not end until the elimination of the Zionist entity and the liberation of Palestine.”

Abbas faces a mountain of Fatah and Palestinian public opposition to any compromise on the US framework deal. The “pro-Abbas” demonstrations in Ramallah, Nablus and Jenin that took place on March 17 were protests led by Fatah against any Palestinian concessions. Notably, other PLO groups were absent. In Gaza, the Hamas assaulted and arrested Fatah activists and confined them to house arrest to prevent “pro-Abbas demonstrations.” The Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh reported that the latest Palestinian hit song, called “The People’s Message to John Kerry,” that has taken Youtube by storm, accused the US secretary of state of “presenting a Zionist plan.” It also warns Abbas to uphold Palestinian rights, otherwise, “The people and I will take to the street and chant against you and demand you go away.”

Palestinian political and popular rejection of compromise and acceptance of the US paper begs a larger question. Who will enforce any agreement on the Palestinian side? Abbas, nearly 79 years old, is in his 10th year of a four-year elected term. He stands to retire imminently, chalking up as his legacy standing up for Palestinian rights in the face of US pressure. There is no effective Palestinian parliament to affirm any prospective popular referendum. Hamas is reengaging with the Iranian regime and competing for power with other jihadi groups such as the Palestinian Jihad that fired tens of rockets at Israel recently at the Iranian regime’s behest.

The chaos within Fatah’s ranks also begs the question of control and accountability. Abbas has no clear successor. At the same time Abbas and arch-rival Mohammed Dahlan are trading accusations over who assassinated former PLO chairman Yasser Arafat. The US has unmasked the real Palestinian positions. US efforts to pin down a framework have also exposed the deep fissures within Fatah and among Palestinians at large. In this context, the Palestinian strategy will likely lead them back to the unilateralism they pursued at the United Nations in 2011. That program enabled the PA to lead international efforts to demonize, incite against and delegitimize Israel at the UN, the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. However, it failed to bring the Palestinians closer to a viable sovereign independent nation state. The implications are severe. Recently the European donor states have expressed impatience with Palestinian refusals and have threatened to curtail financial assistance to the PA. Palestinian rejection of the current US framework paper may signal the end of the Palestinian statehood project in parts of Judea and Samaria/ West Bank and Gaza for the foreseeable future.

 

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HAS MAHMOUD ABBAS REALLY ACCEPTED THE CLINTON              PARAMETERS ON THE REFUGEE PROBLEM?                                     

Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi                                                                  Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Mar. 19, 2014

 

An analysis of Mahmoud Abbas’ speech to the Fatah Revolutionary Council before he met with President Barack Obama in Washington on March 17 reveals that his claim to have accepted the Clinton Parameters on the refugee issue is not consistent with his demand for recognition of the personal right of return of each individual refugee. In his speech to the Revolutionary Council on March 12, 2014, Abbas, who carries the titles of “president of the state of Palestine,” head of the PLO, and leader of Fatah, set forth the basic tenets of the Palestinian stance on the negotiations with Israel for a permanent settlement. On the refugee issue, Abbas said the following (translated from Arabic):

 

The second point: the refugee issue. You know that [UN] Resolution 194 speaks of providing compensation to whoever does not desire to return. President [Bill] Clinton presented ideas [on this issue] that we accepted as a single package, and we find that they include four principles [for solving the refugee problem]. The first principle – a Palestinian who wants to remain where he is living will be able to do so and will receive compensation. [The second principle] – a Palestinian who wants to move to another country must obtain the agreement of the two countries and will receive compensation.The third principle – a Palestinian who wants [to live] in the state of Palestine will be able to return to it. The fourth principle – a Palestinian who wants [to live] in the state of Israel will be able to return to it in keeping with the right of return.

Everyone must receive compensation, and the countries that have hosted [the refugees], Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, must also receive compensation. These countries took in the Palestinians in 1948 and have a right to compensation for the burden they have borne and for their efforts during this period, which now comes to sixty-six years. The Clinton Parameters for a permanent settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, which were presented on December 23, 2000, state that:

 

The solution [to the refugee problem] will have to be consistent with the two-state approach…the state of Palestine as the homeland of the Palestinian people and the state of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. Under the two-state solution, the guiding principle should be that the Palestinian state would be the focal point for Palestinians who choose to return to the area without ruling out that Israel will accept some of these refugees.

I believe that we need to adopt a formulation on the right of return that will make clear that there is no specific right of return to Israel itself but that does not negate the aspiration of the Palestinian people to return to the area.

 

In light of the above, I propose two alternatives: 1. Both sides recognize the right of Palestinian refugees to return to historic Palestine, or, 2. Both sides recognize the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. The agreement will define the implementation of this general right in a way that is consistent with the two-state solution. It would list the five possible homes for the refugees: 1. The state of Palestine. 2. Areas in Israel being transferred to Palestine in the land swap. 3. Rehabilitation in host country. 4. Resettlement in third country. 5. Admission to Israel.

 

In listing these options, the agreement will make clear that the return to the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and areas acquired in the land swap would be the right of all Palestinian refugees, while rehabilitation in host countries, resettlement in third countries and absorption into Israel will depend upon the policies of those countries.                                                                                                                                                          [To Read the Full Article With Footnotes Click the Following Link –Ed.]              

                                                                                         

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               FOUR THINGS PRESIDENT OBAMA SHOULD TELL MAHMOUD ABBAS                                                

Rabbi Abraham Cooper                                   

Fox News, Mar. 17, 2014

 

On Yom Kippur, 1972, I was standing alongside a Soviet Jewish dissident outside Moscow’s lone synagogue when we were suddenly surrounded by KGB agents. Sensing my alarm, the refusenik sought to disarm my fear with some vintage Soviet humor. “In the Socialist Paradise,” he said with a nod toward the plainclothes men, “the workers make believe they worked and the State make believes they paid them.” That one-liner keeps coming to mind when trying to figure out if Secretary of State John Kerry’s tenacious and tedious struggle to create an agreed-upon “framework” for Israeli/Palestinian peace is real or just another expensive Middle East mirage.

Ask Israelis, and they will tell you the pressure from the Obama-Kerry team has been intense. The just-released Peace Index Poll of the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University found that 64 percent of all Israelis do not trust Kerry to take Israel’s security into account as a “crucial factor” in his “framework.” Seventy-four percent of Israeli Jews believe the U.S. is putting more pressure on Israel than the Palestinians. President Obama’s interview with Jeffrey Goldberg on the eve of Bibi Netanyahu’s U.S. visit, wherein he threatened to let Israel twist in the wind of growing international isolation, served only to deepen the concern of Israelis. Israel’s man in the street. And to top it all off, just days before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sits down at the White House, Kerry admits that mutual trust between Israel and the Palestinians is at an all-time low.

 

And the Iranians provide a 21-gun salute to that meeting by having their lackeys in Gaza launch 30 missiles targeting civilians in Israel’s southern communities. If Obama is serious about bringing about Mideast peace, it’s about time he got serious with Abbas, and here are four things he should tell him:
 
1. Stop the campaign denying the Jewish people’s historic link to the Holy Land. Denying that Solomon’s Temple stood on the Temple Mount and that a Jew named Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City is an affront to every Jew in the world and insults both Judaism and Christianity. Despite that historical link, Prime Minister Netanyahu has told his core right-wing constituents in Hebrew that he supports two states for two people. It is past due for you to deliver the same message in Arabic. Forget CNN. Try Al Jazeera.

2. Stop Teaching Your Kids to Lionize Terrorists. I'm talking about terrorists who murdered mothers and children in pizza parlors and city buses and at Passover Seders. In the Internet era, every street named after a mass murderer of Jews, every song celebrating convicted killers that is taught to pre-schoolers, reinforces the average Israeli’s conviction that you don’t want peace.

3. The USA is not an ATM Machine. If he wants more money from the American taxpayer, Abbas must end the endemic corruption in the Palestinian Authority. President Obama should tell him that. It’s no secret that if long-delayed elections were held on the West Bank tomorrow, Hamas and “None of the Above” would far outpoll the PA among a constituency fed up with bombast and empty promises.  

Obama should deliver a little tough love of his own by demanding proof that the PA is using the millions it receives in aid for nation and democracy-building. He should stress that Americans expect transparency and accountability from the P.A., or the U.S. Congress will vote to distribute our aid to the Palestinian people through other means.

4. Recognize Israel as a Jewish state now. Abbas has long called for self-determination for his people. If he cannot tell his constituents and the 21 other Arab states that he recognizes that millions of Israelis have that same right, any peace process or peace framework would be a delusional sham that could hasten another war.

 

On June 14, 2009, I sat in the audience in Tel Aviv’s Bar Ilan University when Netanyahu delivered some straight talk to his core constituency. For the first time he endorsed a Palestinian state, as a neighbor alongside the Jewish state of Israel. Then, citing Isaiah’s biblical messianic vision of swords being beaten into plowshares, Netanyahu said of the Palestinians, “We do not want to rule over them, to govern their lives, or to impose our flag or our culture on them.” It was a powerful moment and an empowering gesture.A generation ago Egypt’s Anwar Sadat had the guts to bridge the abyss of conflict and hate to make peace with Israel’s Menachem Begin. Does Abbas have the courage to do the same? We wish our president and secretary of state well in convincing him to do so — but don’t bet the house or the safety of 8 million Israelis that he will.                                                                                                                                                    

CIJR wishes all its friends and supporters Shabbat Shalom!

 

On Topic

 

Tchaikovsky Flashwaltz at Hadassah Hospital (Video): Hadassah.org

Kerry is Not Pro-Palestinian Enough for Leftist US Jews: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 13, 2014 —Here is the emerging hard-left line on John Kerry’s peace process: It’s not good enough; not accommodating enough to the Palestinians.

Israel's Top 5 Medical Breakthroughs in 2013: Virtual Jerusalem, Dec. 31, 2013

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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NON-JEWISH JEWS? NEW “BIG TENT” CAMPUS VISION EQUALS LEFTIST ANTI-ISRAEL IDEOLOGY; THAT JEWISH STUDENTS SUPPORT IT, & “OPEN” HILLELS, IS A TRAVESTY

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 ‘Big Tent’ to Nowhere: Asaf Romirowsky, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 22, 2014— More and more, we hear from faculty and students about the need to have an “open tent” or a “big tent,” of ideas and opinions specifically, when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Anti-Israel Jews and the Vassar Blues: Lucette Lagnado, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 23, 2014 — Recently I was contacted by a fellow Vassar alumna through Facebook. She wanted to know if I was aware that our genteel alma mater had become a hotbed of anti-Israel, pro-boycott sentiment.

NYU Holds Secret Anti-Israel Conference: Liel Leibovitz, Tablet, Mar. 4, 2014 — Last week, I argued here that there was no point in debating with people who fundamentally disagreed with you; if you believed in Israel’s right to exist, I wrote, and someone didn’t, you really have very little reason to sit down and chat.

My University Won’t Stand Up For Israel: Justin B. Hayet, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 23, 2014 — Just as finals began to get into full swing this past December, the American Studies Association (ASA) passed a resolution that degraded its existing integrity as well as the values embedded within American culture that the ASA seeks to protect.

 

On Topic Links

 

An Academic Lynching Behind Closed Doors: Tammi Rossman-Benjamin & Leila Beckwith

JNS, Mar. 2, 2014

Boycott of Israel Delayed by University of Windsor Students: CBC, Mar. 14, 2014

The Funny, New Definition of ‘Diversity’ in America: Jonah Goldberg, New York Post, Feb. 24, 2014
This Academic Year’s War For and Against Israel on Campus: Edward S. Beck, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 12, 2014

                            

THE ‘BIG TENT’ TO NOWHERE

Asaf Romirowsky                                                                                 

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 22, 2014

 

More and more, we hear from faculty and students about the need to have an “open tent” or a “big tent,” of ideas and opinions specifically, when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict. While the nature of public discourse demands expressing a multitudes of ideas and opinions, the kind of openness espoused by this big tent idea is in fact myopic and limiting in its own narrow scope. The notion is sold as a non-binding position, when in reality those that sell it are simply uncomfortable or unwilling to take a firm position.

The big tent thus gives the impression of openness, but actually only caters to left-of-center views. The genesis of this in the American Jewish community lies in our need to be open and pluralistic, which is generally a good thing but can become self-destructive.

While the Diaspora Jewish community is hardly monolithic when it comes to Israel, Israelis or Israeli policies, mainstream Jewish groups and organizations since 1948 have adopted the line of “supporting the democratically elected government of Israel – Left, Right or Center – and ensure the safety and security of its citizens.” Of course not blindly, but under the belief that a strong, united front benefits the Jewish community at large. This is the line organizations such as Federations, AIPAC, AJC, ADL and others have adopted to show bi-partisan support for the democratically elected government in Israel. Yet, we are seeing today how this policy has been interpreted as a so-called right-of-center agenda. That is, support for Israel is perceived as a right-wing agenda – this is a farce.

Those who make these claims have gone to extreme measures, even to a point of adopting the Palestinian narrative, as if to say that if we (Jews) will become more Palestinian than the Palestinians, peace in the Middle East would come about. Thus, the extreme Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) has made J Street seem like the height of moderation. As Isaac Deutscher formulated in his “non-Jewish Jew” regarding the State of Israel, “on a deeper, historical level the Jewish tragedy finds in Israel a dismal sequel. Israel’s leaders exploit in self-justification, and over-exploit Auschwitz and Treblinka; but their actions mock the real meaning of the Jewish tragedy.” This has become the foundation for the adaptation and revisionism of the Arab-Israeli conflict among the Jewish Left, who feel the need to put aside their Jewishness to underscore their pluralism and openness.

Of late, these very issues were challenged by Hillel at Swarthmore College, where the students attempted to question Hillel’s own stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict. To its credit, Hillel’s newly- appointed international president and CEO Eric Fingerhut correctly held his ground and made it clear to Swarthmore where the red lines are, stating: “Your resolution [Swarthmore] further includes the statement: ‘All are welcome to walk through our doors and speak with our name and under our roof, be they Zionist, anti-Zionist, post-Zionist, or non-Zionist.’ This is simply not the case. Let me be very clear – ‘anti-Zionists’ will not be permitted to speak using the Hillel name or under the Hillel roof, under any circumstances.

“Hillel recognizes, of course, that ‘organizations, groups or speakers that as a matter of policy or practice’ violate these guidelines may well be welcomed on campus, according to the policies of the particular college or university. The Hillel on campus, however, may not partner with or host such groups or speakers.

This is entirely within our discretion as an organization, and we have clearly stated our intention to make these important decisions to protect our values and our critically important mission. “Just as the university decides who will teach classes, and what organizations it will allow on campus, so Hillel will decide who will lead discussions in programs it sponsors and with whom it will partner.”

Consequently, Hillel was criticized for limiting the debate on Israel – as if debating Israel’s existence as a Jewish sovereign state fell within the realm of serious discourse. We have witnessed how the self-proclaimed “pro-Israel pro-peace” organization J Street has attempted to sell its agenda as the alternative to the “mainstream” and demand that the tent of the Jewish community stretch to include its views. The Jewish community for the most part opened itself to J Street. At least, until we saw the aggressively anti-Israel pro-boycott agenda advocated by many branches of J Street University begin to pop up demanding to be in the “big tent.”

Now we see the even more extreme anti-Israel so-called Jewish Voice for Peace demanding that it be in the tent via its “Open Hillel” campaign. Where does it stop? Does the “big tent” allow those who wish to burn it down in, with flammable liquids and lit torches? The core of the problem regarding the “big tent” philosophy is that it has no red lines; everyone should be included, even at the expense of Jewish identity and survival of the Jewish state.

Israelis who live and breathe in Israel are hardly uniform in their own views, however, even those in leftist circles believe that Israel has the right to exist as a state in some capacity, within the 1949 or post-1967 borders. As such, one can understand why Israelis do not fully understand what is happening in the Diaspora with regard to these matters, as they have never faced the challenge of debating Israel’s legitimacy in the environment we find on North American college campuses and many Jewish leftwing circles.

This is not to say that diversity of opinion and academic freedom should not be exercised. The difference is that there needs to be a differentiation between criticism and delegitimization, and between open discussion and self-inflicted annihilation. Many, in their naiveté, have no grasp of how they fuel the anti-Israel groups on college campuses, groups like Jews for Justice in Palestine, the Muslim Studies Association and others who use this message to validate their own agendas. What is even more problematic are those groups within the Jewish community who believe that this kind of “discussion” will further peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Finally, making a case for Israel becomes increasingly more difficult when Israelis and Jews decide to adopt a Palestinian agenda that detracts from the real issue behind the conflict: Mutual recognition of one another. And above all, mainstream Jewish groups have a responsibility to their stakeholders to establish clear lines that they will uphold while affording their constituents a wide range of opinions that fall within the realm of legitimate debate and public discourse. Being a “big tent” doesn’t mean killing yourself to be in it.

 

[Asaf Romirowsky is an adjunct scholar at the Foundation for Defense for Democracies

and the Middle East Forum, and a CIJR Academic Fellow]

 

                                                                       

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ANTI-ISRAEL JEWS AND THE VASSAR BLUES  

Lucette Lagnado

Wall Street Journal, Feb. 23, 2014

 

Recently I was contacted by a fellow Vassar alumna through Facebook. She wanted to know if I was aware that our genteel alma mater had become a hotbed of anti-Israel, pro-boycott sentiment. Suddenly, my stomach was in knots—a feeling that Vassar has managed to evoke in me ever since I went there in the 1970s. An Orthodox Jewish girl from Brooklyn on a full scholarship, I fixated on this Seven Sister school as my entryway to the American dream, the epitome of style and grace that also prided itself on teaching "critical thinking."

 

In this case the cause of my angst was a young woman named Naomi Dann, the president of the Vassar Jewish Union. She had penned a piece for the campus paper strongly supporting the recent move by the American Studies Association to boycott Israeli academic exchanges—a decision denounced by college presidents across the country, including Vassar's. Her piece strung together all the familiar buzzwords and clichés used by Israel's critics: "atrocities," "oppressive," "abuses," "colonial," and, of course, "apartheid." Signed jointly with the co-president of Students for Justice in Palestine, Ms. Dann even slammed Vassar's president and dean of the faculty for daring to oppose the boycott against the Jewish state.

 

There was more to fuel my Vassar angoisse. The head of the Jewish Studies Program, a professor named Joshua Schreier, had also expressed support for the boycott movement. Prof. Schreier was quoted in the campus paper ruminating that while once "instinctively against" the boycott, he had heard more "substantiated, detailed" arguments on its behalf, and as a result "I am currently leaning in favor of it," he concluded delicately, as if choosing a flavored tea. As for Vassar's rabbi, Rena Blumenthal, she was MIA—on leave in Israel, no less—and emailed to say she couldn't weigh in from afar. Huh?

 

To be sure, I had been aware that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement had taken off on some college campuses, even in the Ivy League. It had become chic to attack Israel even—especially—if you were Jewish. I heard from an alum who was stopped by his own child, a Vassar student, from taking a public stand against the BDS movement. The student was fearful of being ostracized for having a parent who supported Israel. Suddenly the toxic essence of this movement to make Israel and its supporters pariahs in the groves of academe and the cocktail parties of polite society hit home in a way it hadn't before. It also brought back painful memories about my own Vassar experience, and the shattered illusions that had marked it.

I had gone to Vassar a naïf, a sheltered girl from an immigrant community. Mine was a neighborhood of Jewish exiles thrown out or pressured out of Arab countries in the 1950s and 1960s—in my family's case, Egypt. We were victims of the Middle East conflict who were barely mentioned in the history books. Though we had been mistreated and denied our homelands, we suffered alone and in silence. No cool campus groups spoke up for us then, or now. Our values were God, faith, family and Israel. We were passionate about the Jewish state, a country that took so many Middle Eastern Jews in when, one after another, Arab countries had forced or pressured us out. I was raised as a Sabbath observer, a keeper of dietary laws, and, oh, expected to marry young and refrain from sex before marriage. Those were the quaint values I carried to Vassar, which I had chosen from among a multitude of schools for the old-fashioned ideals its name evoked. I had read a brochure alluding to a tradition of students drinking sherry with faculty. To someone more familiar with Manischewitz wine, sipping sherry with my professors epitomized what I wanted on this earth: a life of civility and grace. This was Jackie Kennedy's Vassar.

 

Instead, I found myself on a campus in the throes of a 1970s rebellion. There was a drug culture and a drinking culture, but no sherry culture I could find. Vassar prided itself on being edgy and embraced open sexuality and every other cause of the tumultuous era. My disillusionment came fast. My first day I wandered to the "ACDC"—the forbidding central dining hall—and timidly asked a manager where I could find the kosher section. She looked at me as if I were from another planet. What followed were months of kosher TV dinners, in big aluminum packages. It was incredibly decent of Vassar to obtain those for me, yet every time I lugged one these dinners from the kitchen to the table in their silver foil, I felt the stares of my fellow-diners. It never got easier. I could never take that train from Grand Central back to Poughkeepsie on Sunday nights without the blues setting in. And now, so many years later, my Vassar blues were back.

 

The other night I received a press release from the president of the Vassar Jewish Union, Ms. Dann—yes, her again. This time, she was attacking Hillel, the venerable campus organization that has offered a home to generations of Jewish students. Following in Swarthmore's footsteps, the Vassar Jewish Union was becoming an "open Hillel"—no longer obliged to heed Hillel's pesky rule of banning speakers who demonize Israel or believe the Jewish state shouldn't exist. The release was replete with more clichés about needing a "diverse range of personal and political opinions" that it argued Hillel failed to provide. I am still waiting for the day a student or faculty member stands up to these academic hooligans at the Vassar Quad. Now that would show some "critical thinking." As for Vassar's Rabbi Blumenthal, she finally agreed to speak to me from Israel over the weekend. She firmly opposes the boycott, she declared, and has been upset by the anti-Israel sentiments on campus, noting: "I am here because I love this country. I am a Zionist." Bravo, rabbi. How nice to hear of one Israel defender at Vassar. I can only pray that others on campus listen.

                                                                                                 

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NYU HOLDS SECRET ANTI-ISRAEL CONFERENCE            

Liel Leibovitz                                                                                             

Tablet, Mar. 4, 2014

 

Last week, I argued here that there was no point in debating with people who fundamentally disagreed with you; if you believed in Israel’s right to exist, I wrote, and someone didn’t, you really have very little reason to sit down and chat. Apparently, Israel’s academic detractors were paying attention. This weekend, the American Studies department at NYU held a conference titled “Circuits of Influence: U.S., Israel, and Palestine.” With a morning session about the history and efficacy of boycotts and a lunchtime workshop devoted to organizing students on campus and featuring representatives of Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voices for Peace—both organizations being strong advocates of BDS—there could be little doubt about the conference’s true aim.

 

Not that you’d know about any of it: inviting friends and colleagues to the conference on her Facebook page, NYU professor Lisa Duggan—you may remember her as the president of the American Studies Association and a strong voice in support of the organization’s decision last year to boycott Israeli universities—asked that the conference be kept secret. “PLEASE DO NOT post or circulate the flyer,” read her message. “We are trying to avoid press, protesters and public attention.” Now, it’s one thing for a student organization like Hillel or private institutions like Jewish museums or high schools to decide that their intellectual horizons exclude those who do not share certain core beliefs. A university, however, does not have that privilege. It is—or should be—open to all ideas, to myriad points of view, to discussion, to dissent.

Because any attempt to seriously study human conduct is likely to stir up emotions and give rise to ideological barricades, our best universities have come up with policies to safeguard that sanctity of academic freedom in their midst. Title I of NYU’s own poignant faculty handbook puts it elegantly when it states that professors “should not introduce into their teaching controversial matter that has no relation to their subject,” and should at all times “exercise appropriate restraint” as well as “show respect for the opinions of others.” The recent conference’s organizers did none of that. Forgoing any semblance of serious study, viable research, or honest attempts to understand the intricacies of the subject at hand, they turned their classroom into a seminary designed exclusively to cultivate hatred for one particular nation state and fashion this animosity into ruinous political action.

 

Hence the call to keep things secret: while academic institutions are, of course, never obliged to let members of the public into their hushed sanctuaries—that’s a privilege obtained by paying a hefty tuition—one should be very, very suspicious of any learned person who insists—against the long-standing and proud American tradition of free inquiry, against the common-sensical and democratic expectation that the university see itself as part of the community that supports and sustains it and not as a small and zealous sect apart—on conducting intellectual work under the cover of darkness. The university should judge whether the organization of a discriminatory conference and the insistence that participants comply, Mafia-style, with a sort of academic Omerta meets its own standards. The rest of us are left with the less subtle and more tragic duty of witnessing the formerly solid tradition of intellectual freedom and debate melt into air.    

                                                                                         

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MY UNIVERSITY WON’T STAND UP FOR ISRAEL               

Justin B. Hayet                                        

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 23, 2014

 

Just as finals began to get into full swing this past December, the American Studies Association (ASA) passed a resolution that degraded its existing integrity as well as the values embedded within American culture that the ASA seeks to protect. The ASA resolution is a boycott of Israeli higher education institutions. Three Binghamton University professors – Joseph Keith, Ali Mazrui and James Petras – voted in favor of this resolution. Although Binghamton University does not have an official American studies department, these three professors are voting members of ASA. The boycott states that the ASA stands in “solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom and it aspires to enlarge that freedom for all, including Palestinians. The ASA’s endorsement of the academic boycott emerges from the context of US military and other support for Israel; Israel’s violation of international law and UN resolutions.” Binghamton University is a generally politically apathetic campus.

Furthermore, in reference to Israel, with over 30 percent Jewish students, Israel is rarely, if ever, questioned by the communal campus conversation. However, with the recent emergence of a SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) student group, a group that endorses the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement, Israel’s legitimacy is being interrogated voraciously. The recent tension between the quickly growing SJP and the pro-Israel community is heating up, however roughly 80% of the student population, many of whom are Jews, are strategically being targeted for support by SJP and we cannot falter or wait. We need our campus leadership to stand tall with over 200 other American university presidents in rejecting this heinous boycott.

“Zionism is Racism,” “Israel is an Apartheid State,” and even the tiny bit hilarious “Zionist Music Gives me the Blues.” These phrases are plastered at the front of my mind. These phrases are the reason I have not slept in days. These phrases attack and shame our history and seek to destroy our future. These phrases were screamed by SJP students protesting the Haifa Symphony Orchestra which came to visit Binghamton University last week. I stood peacefully and proudly with Israeli flags alongside five students. We stood next to these hateful students who attacked the very foundation of the Jewish state, the very same state I seek to dedicated my life and eventual legacy to. But Binghamton University was just business as usual. No uproar by the general population at students who bordered on anti-Semitism in their proud display of hate toward anything related to the Jewish state.

Beyond the boycott of Israel, the hypocrisy lies in the obvious truth that any academic boycott undercuts the values and even the history upon which the field of American studies is built. It’s shameful that American values are being manipulated and undercut by an organization that is so meticulously exercising the all-too-familiar double standard that the Jewish state knows all too well. There’s no boycott resolution by the ASA regarding Syria, after over 100,000 dead and 8 million displaced by President Bashar Assad’s murderous regime. And beyond the Middle East, there is no boycott of China’s academic institutions, despite China’s blatant disregard of anything that favors democracy or human rights. There is no boycott of Russian institutions, despite Russia mounting anti-gay laws and President Vladimir Putin’s heinous weekly statements regarding such issues.

Most shocking of all, there’s no resolution against the eight Palestinian universities, all built by Israel with Israeli taxpayer money, despite the Palestinian Authority’s praise of suicide bombers or the PA’s treatment of women and homosexuals. There’s no resolution by the ASA condemning the PA or their universities despite their weekly calls, during the peace talks, that within a future established Palestinian state there will be no Jews allowed, as President Mahmoud Abbas said in 2010: “I will never allow a single Israeli to live among us on Palestinian land.” That rhetoric, words blatantly ignored by the American media, speaks for itself…                                                                                                                                                                            [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link –Ed.]     

                 

On Topic

 

An Academic Lynching Behind Closed Doors: Tammi Rossman-Benjamin & Leila Beckwith

JNS, Mar. 2, 2014 —New York University (NYU) professor and president-elect of the American Studies (ASA) Association Lisa Duggan recently wrote on her Facebook regarding the Feb. 28-March 1 “Circuits of Influence: U.S., Israel, and Palestine” conference she helped organize, “PLEASE DO NOT post or circulate the flyer. We are trying to avoid press, protestors and public attention.”  

Boycott of Israel Delayed by University of Windsor Students: CBC, Mar. 14, 2014—There's still no decision on campus about whether the University of Windsor Student Alliance will adopt a referendum vote that would boycott companies with ties to Israel.

The Funny, New Definition of ‘Diversity’ in America: Jonah Goldberg, New York Post, Feb. 24, 2014 —Cancel the philosophy courses, people. Oh, and we’re going to be shuttering the political science, religion and pre-law departments, too.
This Academic Year’s War For and Against Israel on Campus: Edward S. Beck, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 12, 2014 —What a year it’s been on campus in the war for and against Israel on campus. Things are heating up on American campuses in a way we haven’t seen since the second intifada.

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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

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

Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: 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 Soviet Spring: George F. Will, National Post, Mar. 17, 2014

Three Years of Strife and Cruelty Puts Syria in Free Fall: Anne Barnard, New York Times, Mar. 17, 2014

Obama’s Failed Foreign Policy Just Another Drag on Democrats: John Podhoretz, New York Post, Mar. 18, 2014

Iran’s Fortunes Rising in a Middle East Vacuum: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Mar. 19, 2014

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“This ‘referendum’ is illegitimate, it has no legal effect, and we do not recognize its outcome,”—  Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who will travel to Ukraine this week, commenting on Sunday’s “so-called referendum” in the breakaway Crimea region. Crimea voted 93 per cent in favour of seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia, according to exit polls. “As a result of Russia’s refusal to seek a path of de-escalation, we are working with our G7 partners and other allies to co-ordinate additional sanctions against those responsible.” The EU and the U.S. have said they could retaliate against Moscow as early as Monday, and Ottawa has said financial sanctions remain on the table. “[Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] reckless and unilateral actions will lead only to Russia’s further economic and political isolation from the international community,” Mr. Harper said. (Globe & Mail, Mar. 16, 2014)

 

“[The U.S. has a short time to find a suitable] coalition, democratic government” to replace the “junta” government in Kiev. —Political analyst Sergei Markov, who is a long-time adviser to Mr. Putin. “If this doesn’t happen, Russia will probably move to protect the Russian-speaking coalition in Donetsk, Lugansk, Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk, Mykolaev and Kherson,” Markov said, referring to several cities in Eastern Ukraine. There are fears in Ukraine that Russia will seize on the unrest and move into these regions, which, like Crimea, have a sizable population of ethnic Russians. “There is no sovereign Ukraine. It doesn’t exist. We have a junta in Kiev that was appointed by Washington,” he added. (Globe & Mail, Mar. 16, 2014)

 

“This is a beautiful day that we have waited for a very long time and we thank Putin for it,” —Olga Voloshanovskaya, who took part in the pro-Russian celebrations in Sevastopol, Crimea, following Sunday’s referendum. “We were part of Ukraine for some years but we always remained a Russian city. Nobody made us vote for this. It is just something that we have wanted. After seeing what the fascists did in Kyiv a few weeks ago, we could not stay with Ukraine.” Her husband, Vladimir, provided a history lesson that was on the minds of many Crimeans as they voted on Sunday. “That Crimea became Ukrainian was the mistake of Nikita Khrushchev back in 1954,” he said, referring to the long dead Soviet leader. “He made this gift because of the guilt he felt at how badly Ukraine had been repressed by Moscow. But it was never ratified by CCCP (Soviet Union) or agreed to by the people here.” (Canada.com, Mar. 17, 2014)

 

“This referendum is contrary to Ukraine’s constitution, and the international community will not recognize the results of a poll administered under threats of violence and intimidation from a Russian military intervention that violates international law.” — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, in a statement denouncing Sunday’s poll in Crimea. (Wall Street Journal, Mar. 16, 2014)

 

"We continue to hope that there is a diplomatic solution to be found," —U.S. President Barack Obama, following a White House meeting with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny. Obama continued: "But the United States and Europe stands united, not only in its message about the Ukrainian sovereignty but also that there will be consequences if, in fact, that sovereignty continues to be violated." (Reuters, Mar. 14, 2014)

 

“What is most troubling about Mr. Putin’s aggression in Crimea is that it reflects a growing disregard for America’s credibility in the world. That has emboldened other aggressive actors — from Chinese nationalists to Al Qaeda terrorists and Iranian theocrats. Crimea must be the place where President Obama recognizes this reality and begins to restore the credibility of the United States as a world leader,” — John McCain, Republican senator from Arizona, in a New York Times op-ed. (New York Times, Mar. 14, 2014)

 

“From Putin’s perspective…the United States hardly looks in retreat. To the contrary, the post-Cold War period has brought one long march by America and its allies closer and closer to the border of Russia itself,” Peter Beinart, offering his considered view that NATO expansion is to blame for Russia’s aggression in Crimea.(The Atlantic, Mar. 3, 2014)  

 

“Thus, after the unprovoked invasion and annexation of the territory of a neighbouring democracy by a proto-dictatorship, much of the academic and journalistic world responded, not by condemning the aggressors, but by blaming the victims. While NATO’s allies in eastern Europe sought renewed assurances of its protection — and as Sweden and Finland debated joining — the smart set thousands of miles away in North America was assuring them they had it all wrong: NATO is the problem.”National Post columnist Andrew Coin (Canada.com, Mar. 17, 2014)  

 

“President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton traveled the world in pursuit of their promise to reset relations and to build friendships across the globe. Their failure has been painfully evident: It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office, and now Russia is in Ukraine,” —Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and the 2012 Republican nominee for president, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. (Wall Street Journal, Mar. 17, 2014)

 

“We had thought it would be the United States that would lead the campaign against Iran,” —Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who earlier this year called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “messianic” and “obsessive.” “People know Iran cheats,” he added, but the United States and its other Western allies “engage” Iran, leaving Israel with no choice other than “to behave as though we have nobody to look out for us but ourselves.” As for the talks with Iran, Ya’alon implied a zero rating for American and Western negotiators. “Unfortunately, when it comes to negotiating at a Persian bazaar, the Iranians are better,” according to Ya’alon. (Jewish Press, Mar. 18, 2014)

 

“I very much doubt that a presidential election and another seven-year term for President Bashar al-Assad will put an end to the unbearable suffering of the Syrian people, stop the destruction of the country and re-establish harmony and mutual confidence in the region,” Lakhdar Brahimi, UN Special Envoy to Syria. Syria plans to hold national elections in June or July, its ambassador to the UN said Friday. (New York Times, Mar. 14, 2014) 

 

 “Compassion does not, and should not, suffice,” —Paulo S. Pinheiro, chairman of a panel of investigators who told the UN Human Rights Council that both those fighting for and against the Syrian government are terrorizing the country’s civilian population in defiance of a recent Security Council resolution. Pinheiro added: “We cannot continue to sit for years in these rooms writing reports and making speeches lamenting the blood that is running in Syria’s streets.” But while atrocities are increasing, the international community, apart from providing humanitarian aid, “has done little but bear witness to the plight of those caught in the maelstrom,” according to Pinheiro. Mr. Pinheiro said the Syrian conflict, now entering its fourth year, had hit a new low with the death from starvation of civilians, including children, in the Damascus suburb of Yarmouk. A million Syrian children are cut off from the reach of aid agencies because of fighting or blockades, he added. (New York Times, Mar. 18, 2014)

 

“What is the meaning of Jerusalem for us?” —Ramadan Shalah, the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization, one of the most extreme terror groups in the world, telling religious leaders in Tehran that the Jews show their love for the city more than Muslims do, and quoted in Hebrew from an inspirational Israeli ballad to prove the point. “Learn from the Jews, from that accursed entity [Israel]. They love Jerusalem not just as a military matter, but as a cultural one,” he declared. “They have a song in the Israeli entity that their army sings on June 7, when they conquered the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Haram al-Sharif [the Temple Mount, in the 1967 Six Day War],” he added, and went on to quote part of the chorus of “Jerusalem of Gold.” “Jerusalem of gold. Jerusalem of bronze. Jerusalem of light,” he chanted, saying each phrase in both Hebrew and Arabic. “Every Israeli child and every accursed Israeli soldier says this song in their heart,” Shalah told the crowd at a clerical conference in the Iranian capital. (Elder of Ziyon, Mar. 17, 2014)

 

SHORT TAKES

 

UKRAINE CRISIS NOT SEEN HURTING IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS (Vienna)— Iran and six world powers sought on Tuesday to make headway toward resolving their decade-old nuclear dispute, with Western officials expressing hope the talks would not be further complicated by the Ukraine crisis. So far, diplomats said, there is little sign that the worst East-West confrontation since the Cold War would undermine the quest for a deal over Iran's atomic activity. The March 18-19 meeting between Iran and the P5+1 powers began a day after Washington and the EU imposed sanctions on a number of Russian officials over Moscow's takeover of Ukraine's Crimea region. (Yahoo, Mar. 18, 2014)

 

BOMB INJURES ISRAELI SOLDIERS ALONG BORDER WITH SYRIA (Jerusalem)An explosive device detonated along Israel’s border with Syria injured four Israeli soldiers Tuesday, according to the Israeli army. The bomb reportedly went off on the Israeli side of the border when soldiers patrolling the area of the Druze village Majdal Shams got out of an armored vehicle to inspect suspicious movements. Shortly after the incident, Israel’s army retaliated with artillery fire against military targets in Syria. Speaking in parliament Tuesday afternoon, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the border with Syria was “filling up with Jihadists and Hezbollah elements,” posing a new challenge for Israel. (Los Angeles Times, Mar. 18, 2014)

 

TURKISH PROTESTER, POLICE OFFICER DIE IN DAY OF CLASHES (Istanbul) A protester in Istanbul died from a head injury and a police officer suffered a fatal heart attack during Turkey's worst day of civil unrest since anti-government protests swept the nation last summer. Riot police clashed with demonstrators in several Turkish cities last Wednesday as mourners buried a teenager, wounded in the protests last June, whose death this week after nine months in a coma sparked a fresh wave of disturbances. A defiant Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, already battling a damaging corruption scandal weeks ahead of elections, cast the latest unrest as part of a plot against the state. (Reuters, Mar. 12, 2014)

 

ATTACKS ON CHRISTIAN VILLAGES IN NIGERIA LEAVE 100 DEAD (Kano) Gunmen attacked three Christian villages and killed more than 100 civilians in central Nigeria, government officials said Sunday. Police confirmed the raids by Muslim Fulani herdsman late on Friday on the villages of Ugwar Sankwai, Ungwan Gata and Chenshyi, in Kaduna state, but declined to give a death toll. Hundreds of thatched-roof huts were also set on fire. Thousands have been killed in recent years in competition for land and water between the Muslim herdsmen and Christian farmers across Nigeria’s Middle Belt. The unrest is not linked to the insurgency in northeast Nigeria by the al Qaeda-linked Boko Haram, which wants to impose sharia law in the country. (Washington Times, Mar. 16, 2014)

 

EGYPT CRACKDOWN BRINGS MOST ARRESTS IN DECADES (Cairo) Egypt’s crackdown on Islamists has jailed 16,000 people over the past eight months in the country’s biggest round-up in nearly two decades, according to previously unreleased figures from security officials. Rights activists say reports of abuses in prisons are mounting, with prisoners describing systematic beatings and miserable conditions for dozens packed into tiny cells. The Egyptian government has not released official numbers for those arrested in the sweeps since the military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July. But four senior officials — two from the Interior Ministry and two from the military — gave a count of 16,000, including about 3,000 top- or mid-level members of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. (Washington Post, Mar. 17, 2014)

 

BID TO LEGALIZE CHILD MARRIAGE ANGERS MANY IRAQIS (Baghdad) A contentious draft law being considered in Iraq could let girls as young as 9 get married and would require wives to submit to sex at the whim of their husbands. The proposed new measure is based on the principles of a Shiite school of religious law founded by Jaafar al-Sadiq, the sixth Shiite imam. The bill would make the father the only parent with the right to accept or refuse the marriage proposal. Also under the proposed measure, a husband could have sex with his wife regardless of her consent. The bill would also prevent women from leaving the house without their husband’s permission, would restrict women’s rights in matters of parental custody after divorce and make it easier for men to take multiple wives. (Montreal Gazette, Mar. 15, 2014)

 

GAZA 2-YEAR-OLD DIES FROM HAMAS ROCKET ASSEMBLY ACCIDENT (Gaza) — A two-year-old Gazan, Mohammed al-Hamadin, died on Monday from injuries suffered last week when a rocket exploded during assembly in his home in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip. The blast also killed his father, 26, and three other members of Hamas’s military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades. The rocket explosion also injured five other people in the house. Last week, Palestine Today said that the bodies of the “martyrs” were “cut to shreds” by the explosion. On Friday, a 62-year-old woman was reported to have died from a similar accidental rocket explosion, also in Beit Hanoun. Blogger Elder of Ziyon noted these accidental deaths were no longer being recorded by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), which “used to keep track of the people killed in ‘work accidents’, ‘internal explosions’ and the like. (Algemeiner, Mar. 17, 2014)

 

WHO KILLED ARAFAT? ABBAS SUGGESTS IT WAS RIVAL DAHLAN (Ramallah) Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has accused one of his main rivals, Mohammed Dahlan, of involvement in six murders, hinting that he might also be behind the death of former leader Yasser Arafat. Dahlan, who lives in exile in the Gulf, denied the allegations of his arch foe Abbas, their bitter row now playing out publicly across the Palestinian media and on social media. Once a prominent official in Abbas's Western-backed Fatah movement, Dahlan was ousted from the group in 2011 following accusations of corruption. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 13, 2014)

 

MAROIS DEFENDS PQ CANDIDATE ACCUSED OF ANTI-SEMITIC BELIEFS (Montreal)The Parti Québécois is under fire for the second time in a week over a candidate with controversial views on the province’s religious minorities. Louise Mailloux, a prominent Quebec feminist and philosopher, said this week she stands by her belief that circumcision and baptism are similar to rape and that kosher and halal certification is a tax that goes toward funding religious wars and lining the pockets of religious leaders. The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs called on the PQ to debunk the “urban legend of the kosher tax,” saying Mailloux is echoing a conspiracy created by the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups. PQ Leader Pauline Marois instead endorsed her candidate, saying she’s a respected academic who has thought long and hard about these issues, and that her separatist Parti Québécois is not antisemitic. (Globe & Mail, Mar. 14, 2014)

 

JEWISH CEMETERY IN HUNGARY VANDALIZED WITH ANTI-SEMITIC SLURS (Budapest) Unidentified vandals desecrated a Jewish cemetery in Hungary last week spray-painting swastikas and various anti-Semitic slurs on tombstones. Residents of the Jewish community in Tatabanya discovered the offensive slogans on Friday, which included “stinking jews,” “HoloLie” and “There was no Holocaust but there will be!”. “There is a very strong wave of antisemitism in Hungary,” said Zohar Meir, one of the leaders of the annual March of the Living in Hungary, “Based on past experience, these waves are getting stronger as the economic situation becomes more difficult and all the anger is taken out on the Jews,” he added. In July 2012, vandals desecrated 57 Jewish graves some 200 miles southwest of Budapest in Kaposvr. (Algemeiner, Mar. 16, 2014)

 

AUSCHWITZ STAMPS USED BY NAZIS FOR TATTOOING DISCOVERED IN POLAND (Warsaw) —  Metal stamps with embedded needles that the SS once used to tattoo inmates at the notorious Nazi death camp at Auschwitz have been discovered in Poland. The find has been hailed by the Auschwitz museum, which now stands on the site of the camp, as one "of the most significant in years" as it was thought no original tattooing equipment survived the war. SS soldiers used the small stamps, consisting of a two, two threes and a six or a nine, to tattoo inmates as they were processed on their arrival at the camp in German-occupied Poland. Some prisoners got the tattoo on the chest but most were tattooed on their arms, and the numbers became a hallmark of Auschwitz's inhumanity. (Telegraph, Mar. 12, 2014)

 

ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY TO BUILD LARGEST ARCHEOLOGY LIBRARY IN MIDEAST (Jerusalem)The Antiquities Authority announced Tuesday that it would construct the Middle East’s largest archeological library in Jerusalem. The adjacent Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel National Archeological Archives is to contain the authority’s archive as well as maps, permits, plans and publications of excavations from the British Mandate period through today, serving researchers and the public. The 35,000-square-meter campus, designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, is scheduled to be completed in April 2016. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 19, 2014)

 

OLDEST KNOWN MASKS IN THE WORLD ON DISPLAY IN ISRAEL (Jerusalem)A new display in Jerusalem is showcasing the oldest-known masks in the world, believed to have originated 9,000 years ago. The 11 masks are made of stones and were discovered in the Judean desert near Jerusalem. Experts believe the masks were meant to look like skulls, with each displaying a unique personality via emotional expressions of shock or grinning. “When you go back to objects that are this old, that are so much before the theology that becomes Judaism, Christianity and then Islam, to feel that there is a kind of a connection, that this is all part of a continuous story, is something that is pretty thrilling,” said Israel Museum director James Snyder. (Jewish Press, Mar. 13, 2014)

 

NETANYAHU, YA'ALON EULOGIZE DECORATED WAR HERO HAR-ZION (Jerusalem)Meir Har-Zion, the decorated IDF veteran whose commando exploits made him the personification of the Israeli military ethos, was laid to rest on Sunday near his home in the northern Jordan Valley settlement of Kochav Hayarden. He was 80. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon were among the dignitaries to eulogize him. Har-Zion was one of the best-known members of the short-lived Unit 101 force of the early 1950s. As chief of staff, Moshe Dayan once called him “the finest of our commando soldiers, the greatest Jewish warrior since Bar-Kochba.” (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 16, 2014)

 

On Topic Links

 

The Soviet Spring: George F. Will, National Post, Mar. 17, 2014 While Vladimir Putin, Stalin’s spawn, ponders what to do with what remains of Ukraine, remember: Nine years before the January 1942 Wannsee Conference, at which the Nazis embarked on industrialized genocide, Stalin deliberately inflicted genocidal starvation on Ukraine.

Obama’s Failed Foreign Policy Just Another Drag on Democrats: John Podhoretz, New York Post, Mar. 18, 2014What could Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Crimea possibly have to do with the upcoming midterm elections in the United States? Indirectly, a very great deal. But only indirectly.

Iran’s Fortunes Rising in a Middle East Vacuum: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Mar. 19, 2014 U.S. policy is increasingly impelling states in the Middle East to alter their framework of alliances. They view the United States as less and less reliable, and are seeking an alternate power instead. Possibilities include Russia, China, or – closer to home – Iran.

Three Years of Strife and Cruelty Puts Syria in Free Fall: Anne Barnard, New York Times, Mar. 17, 2014Day after day, the Syrian civil war has ground down a cultural and political center of the Middle East, turning it into a stage for disaster and cruelty on a nearly incomprehensible scale.

 

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

 

 

 

 

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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.