We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.
Harper’s Principled Stand on Israel: National Post, May 25, 2015— It would be easy to scoff, in a worldly wise way, at Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recent speech in Montreal.
A Meeting of Kindred Spirits in Iraq: Paul Merkley, Baysview Review, May 1, 2015 — The activities described in two news items recently noted by Daily Mail (U.K.) pretty well sum up the progress being made these days by the group which several months ago declared the inauguration of the Caliphate — universal rule of the Godly as proclaimed by Muhammad himself.
Hebrew Inscriptions, Jewels of Palmyra’s Jewish Past, May be Lost Forever: Ilan Ben Zion, Times of Israel, May 25, 2015 — Among the archaeological gems from Palmyra, the pearl of Syria’s desert, at risk after the Islamic State’s takeover last week are vestiges of its Jewish past
Munich Museum Is Another Step in Acknowledging the City’s Nazi Past: Melissa Eddy, New York Times, May 1, 2015— The Nazis first displayed their overt hunger for power in lock-step parades through Munich’s elegant Königsplatz.
On Topic Links
Forgotten Facts and Distorted History of the Mideast: Zvi Mazel, Jerusalem Post, May 28, 2015
“Whoever Disbelieves, Strike Off His Head” Muslim Persecution of Christians, February 2015: Raymond Ibrahim, Breaking Israel News, Ma
y 14, 2015
At Easter Services, Iraqi Christians Under Threat From ISIS Consider Leaving Middle East: Campbell MacDiarmid, National Post, Apr. 5, 2015
The Ancient Ruins Terror Can’t Destroy: Patrick Symmes, New York Times, May 23, 2015
HARPER’S PRINCIPLED STAND ON ISRAEL
National Post, May 25, 2015
It would be easy to scoff, in a worldly wise way, at Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recent speech in Montreal. Harper, in town to receive the first-ever King David Award from the Jewish Community Council of Montreal, spoke of the deep friendship between Canada and Israel, of the unique challenges Israel faces as the sole democracy in the Middle East and of his government’s unwavering support for the Jewish state.
“Our government recognizes that Israel is a friend. A nation of democracy and constancy in a region of repression and instability,” said Harper. “Canada will continue to stand by Israel through fire and water.”
And yet, to the cynics, “Harper’s just courting the Jewish vote!” “It’s all strategy!” “We’re just talking tough because we lost out on that UN Security Council seat!” Yes, it’s easy to be cynical — too easy. There are any number of issues on which the prime minister deserves criticism, and many more on which his motives might be doubted. His support for Israel, however, is not one of them. It is honest, it is principled, and it is right. No one would suggest that Israel is above criticism. We share the concerns expressed by others that some Israeli policies and practices — particularly expanding West Bank settlements — have been unhelpful to the cause of peace in the Middle East. But we are also mindful that no other Western democracy, as Israel assuredly is, has had to live as it has since its founding: surrounded by hostile neighbours, on the front lines of a perpetual war.
Most Westerners, especially North Americans, have long enjoyed the ability to fight our wars on someone else’s real estate. With our civilian populations relatively immune from attack and the ugliness of war kept pleasantly out of view, we have enjoyed all the luxuries that a life of seemingly costless freedom has to offer. We forget how hard and painful defending a free society can be.
Members of our armed forces, our veterans and their families know this truth. For too many of them, it is seared into their flesh and bones. But the rest of us, those who live comfortably removed from the daily threat of attack, might not appreciate what an achievement it is for Israel to have maintained its democratic ideals as well as it has while living under siege all these many years.
Indeed, it is difficult to imagine any society doing a better job of balancing the competing demands of maintaining civil rights at home, protecting innocent civilian life in enemy territory during war — and, of course, protecting its own citizens from attack. The defence of the nation is the first responsibility of any government, as it is the first right of any people. Why would we deny the people of Israel the same right? And yet there are those who, while mouthing the principle in the abstract, take issue whenever it is exercised. Israel, it seems, has a right to defend itself, so long as it does not use its army.
For Israel’s supporters, the points above are familiar, even clichéd. They’ve been said before. In time, we’re sure we’ll have cause to say them again. But it is rare to hear a political leader set aside the soothing bromides of diplomacy — on the one hand this but on the other hand that — and say so clearly, without equivocation, what should not need to be said, and yet most desperately does: Israel is a tiny country doing its best to make a future for itself in a part of world where too many of its neighbours want it destroyed. As Harper said: “Israel is the frontline of free and democratic nations, and any who turn their back on Israel, or turn a blind eye to the nature of Israel’s enemies, do so in the long run at their own peril.”
Though many will dismiss the prime minister’s recent remarks as mere political grandstanding, they should look deeper. We often say we’d like our leaders to speak from their hearts instead of reading off talking points. Last week, Harper did exactly that.
A MEETING OF KINDRED SPIRITS IN IRAQ
Baysview Review, May 1, 2015
The activities described in two news items recently noted by Daily Mail (U.K.) pretty well sum up the progress being made these days by the group which several months ago declared the inauguration of the Caliphate — universal rule of the Godly as proclaimed by Muhammad himself.
“Shock [sic] new video shows ISIS thugs smashing historic Iraqi city of Nimrud with barrel bombs, bulldozers and jackhammers in orgy of destruction slammed as a war crime by the United Nations … ‘God has honored us in the Islamic State to remove all of these idols and statues worshipped instead of Allah in the past days,’ one militant says in the video. Another militant vows that ‘whenever we seize a piece of land, we will remove signs of idolatry and spread monotheism.’…
It is important for us to grasp that the methods by which this progress has been achieved and on account of which unlimited future progress is anticipated by these zealots are those mandated in the mission statement of the Prophet Himself: “When you encounter those [infidels] who deny [Islam],” he instructed the faithful, “then strike off their necks.” [Qur’an 47:4.]
Raymond Ibrahim notes that in the earliest Muslim literature there are exact parallels for the entire range of sadistically-inspired behavior that we have come to expect from ISIS – “beheadings and mutilations … humiliation and gestures of triumph (feet on chest of fallen victim, dragging his body, or head, on the ground), laughter, mockery, and celebration (for the hearts of the believers are now ‘healed.’)”… Muhammad would surely never begrudge these servants his full marks for clarity of purpose and for candour in regard to the principles and their goals.
We do not have to assume that in net terms ISIS is gaining on the ground – that is, that it governs more lives today than it did yesterday. Nobody really knows the answer to this question. Since the formation of the anti-ISIS Alliance spectacular losses of fighting manpower have been suffered by ISIS. Vast territory which was won in a spectacular manner just months ago in Iraq and in Syria has been abandoned by ISIS, apparently without net gain by ISIS in territory or population.
At the same time, it has to be kept in mind, that ISIS does not wholly-own the franchise in the field of Islamic Empire-building at this hour: other equally-bloody-minded organizations – Boko Haram, al-Qaeda, AQAP, al-Shaba, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, etc — all of whom hate each other more than they hate us – are increasingly active in the same cause. Their intramural differences mean nothing to us; and the moment we begin to image that they should, then it is game over. What cannot be denied is that more people every day are being dragged into Islamic slavery…
At the same time, the mainstream (that is, secular) media are working hard to keep our eyes averted from the imminent elimination of Christianity from the Arab world. (For dispatches from this front we are almost entirely dependent on dedicated Christian news-gatherers including Open Doors and the Voice of the Martyrs… But increasing sensitivity to this crisis in secular media is represented (inter alia) by “Christians who use the language of Jesus being uprooted by Islamic state.”…
But there may be a small victory for clarity to be reported on one front. Substantial news coverage is now suddenly being given to stories about the “barbaric” campaign of destruction of antiquities of all kinds in areas under ISIS rule. At Hatra, Nimrud, Nineveh and Khorsabad and other sites where ruins remain from the days of the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911 BC to 609 BC) official ISIS gangs have been systematically destroying everything. These deeds are eliciting alarm about the fate of “Our Cultural Heritage.”
Leadership on this theme is coming from the United Nations – which, it must be said, has not been at the forefront of the fight to save the living Christian people fleeing from Islamic zealotry in Iraq or anywhere else. Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO has condemned the latest IS attack on antiquities in Iraq as a “mad, destructive act that accentuates the horror of the situation… With their hammers and explosives they are also obliterating the site itself [Nimrud], clearly determined to wipe out all traces of the history of Iraq’s people.”…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
HEBREW INSCRIPTIONS, JEWELS OF PALMYRA’S
JEWISH PAST, MAY BE LOST FOREVER
Ilan Ben Zion
Times of Israel, May 25, 2015
Among the archaeological gems from Palmyra, the pearl of Syria’s desert, at risk after the Islamic State’s takeover last week are vestiges of its Jewish past, including the longest Biblical Hebrew inscription from antiquity: the opening verses of the Shema carved into a stone doorway. Western archaeologists who visited the site in the 19th and 20th century discovered Hebrew verses etched into the doorframe of a house in the ancient city. But whether that inscription is still at the site is unclear.
The last time a European scholar documented it in situ was 1933, when Israeli archaeologist Eleazar Sukenik of Hebrew University photographed it. “What may have happened to it since is anyone’s guess,” Professor David Noy, co-author of Inscriptiones Judaicae Orientis (Jewish Inscriptions of the Near East), said in an email on Friday.
Palmyra was one of the Roman Empire’s major cities, rising to prominence in the first centuries of the common era as a vassal state and entrepôt connecting West and East. Situated at an oasis in the desert frontier separating the empires of Rome and Parthia, Palmyra grew to an estimated population of 150,000-200,000 at its height in the third century CE. Textiles, perfumes, spices and gems came from India and the Far East, and metals, glass, wine and cash from Rome passed overland, bypassing the longer Red Sea trade route.
Because of its unique location, Palmyrene culture and art exhibited a fusion of Roman and Persian traditions. Traditional Mesopotamian mud bricks comprised the majority of the city’s architecture, Jørgen Christian Meyer, an archaeologist from the University of Bergen explained, but temples to Semitic gods such as Bel, Baalshamin and Al-lat were constructed in Classical style with stout columns hewn of stone.
When the city was abandoned following its destruction in 273 CE and left to the elements, the mud brick disintegrated, leaving behind a petrified forest of stone columns.
During its centuries of prosperity and decline it was home to a thriving Jewish community. “What we see in Palmyra is a multicultural, and possibly also a multi-identity city,” Meyer, who headed a Norwegian-Syrian archaeological excavation at the site in 2011, just as the civil war started heating up. “Here we’ve got this mixture of Greek, Aramaic, Middle Eastern, Roman culture. This is fantastic.” “That’s why it’s a unique place from a historical point of view, a cultural point of view,” he said.
That fusion included Jews. Two locally produced terra cotta lamps found next to one of the great pagan temples bear menorahs on either side of a conch, suggesting close integration of Jews and gentiles. Known in Hebrew and Aramaic as Tadmor, Jewish legend attributed the city’s construction to King Solomon. Josephus Flavius, writing in the first century CE, ascribed its construction to King Solomon, saying that the city of Tamar referred to in Kings I was the “very great city” Josephus’s contemporaries knew in the Syrian Desert.
“Now the reason why this city lay so remote from the parts of Syria that are inhabited is this, that below there is no water to be had, and that it is in that place only that there are springs and pits of water,” the Jewish Roman historian said. “When he had therefore built this city, and encompassed it with very strong walls, he gave it the name of Tadmor, and that is the name it is still called by at this day among the Syrians, but the Greeks name it Palmyra.”
Modern scholars, however, dispute the veracity of Josephus’s claim that it was built by Solomon. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Classical city of Palmyra didn’t predate the first century BCE, and the biblical city of Tamar was likely in today’s Negev Desert…
Nonetheless, during Palmyra’s height during the Roman era, the city became home to a substantial Jewish community, as testified in Jewish texts. Two 3rd century CE Jewish tombs in Beit Shearim, outside Haifa, identify individuals as the interred sons of Palmyrenes. A passage in the Mishnah, compiled in the first to third centuries CE, also refers to one Miriam of Palmyra as living in the city during the first century CE. “It’s clear that there was a serious Jewish community. Jews from [Palmyra] brought them for burial [in Israel] and wrote on the sarcophagus that they were from there.” Daniel Vainstub of Beersheba’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev said. “We know from the Talmud that some of the locals converted to Judaism.”
But most significantly, etched into the doorway of a house in central Palmyra, northeast of its main colonnaded street, were the four opening lines of the Shema, one of the central Jewish prayers, verses from the book of Deuteronomy. Scholars have debated whether it was an entryway to a synagogue, but now they lean toward it having been a private home. The Biblical passage differs from the traditional text only inasmuch as it substitutes God’s name Yahweh for adonai — my Lord.
On the sides of the doorway were two other apotropaic inscriptions in Hebrew script believed taken from Deuteronomy as well. It was last photographed in the 1930s, and scholars contacted by the Times of Israel couldn’t ascertain whether it was still at the site, or whether in the intervening decades it was destroyed or sold on the black market. “They’re part of the limited but clear evidence for Jews at Palmyra,” Tawny Holm, a Jewish Studies professor at Pennsylvania State University, said of the missing finds. They likely dated from before the 6th century CE, possibly from before the city’s destruction in 272-3, but “the inscription could have been added later,” she noted…
MUNICH MUSEUM IS ANOTHER STEP IN
ACKNOWLEDGING THE CITY’S NAZI PAST
New York Times, May 1, 2015
The Nazis first displayed their overt hunger for power in lock-step parades through Munich’s elegant Königsplatz. Today, against the backdrop of imposing neo-Classical buildings, the striking white form of the city’s new Documentation Center for the History of National Socialism appears oddly misplaced. It is too simple, too clean. That incongruity was the desired effect of the center, which opened its doors to the public on Friday, more than a decade after it was first approved. It is meant to force both residents and tourists in the Bavarian capital to stop and ask themselves: What is that building? And why is it here, in Munich?
Winfried Nerdinger, the museum’s director, who has worked since 1988 to see the center realized, said that the structure and its contents were designed to provide sobering answers. “This is a perpetrator site,” Mr. Nerdinger said. “Those who carried out the crimes actually sat here, and the emphasis is on retracing how it could have come to this.” The permanent exhibition follows the rise of the Nazi Party chronologically over three floors. Using a mixture of images, text and an audio guide, the center examines how the Nazi movement grew out of the German Workers’ Party, or D.A.P., founded in a Munich beer hall in 1919; was embraced by middle-class society; and grew into a force that spread throughout Germany and later Europe, leading to World War II and the Holocaust.
The exhibition starts on the fourth floor and works its way down, leading visitors through the role that Munich and its society played in creating fertile ground for the far right and the radical anti-Semitism preached by the Nazis. The lower floors are dedicated to an examination of how postwar Munich handled its Nazi history and how anti-Semitism and racial discrimination remain relevant today, through news reports and a study of neo-Nazis in the city. During the opening ceremony on Thursday, several dozen neo-Nazis gathered at the edge of the security perimeter, decrying the center as misleading, unnecessary and a waste of public funds.
Mr. Nerdinger said his main goal was education: “to examine what lessons can be taken away from this site, and how are they relevant in the present day?” Although some in the German news media criticized the exhibition as little more than a well-presented, life-size history book, its message seemed to reach and resonate with the visitors who turned up on the May 1 Labor Day holiday for its opening… Germany, more than most countries, has dedicated itself to working through the questions of its past crimes. In Bavaria alone, the memorial sites include the Dachau concentration camp and documentation centers at the Nazis’ rally grounds in Nuremberg and at the Obersalzberg mountain retreat, with its view of the Alps, where Adolf Hitler hosted foreign guests and Munich intellectuals. All are meant to recall the past and warn of its implications for the future.
But as the country struggles to cope with an influx of some 200,000 migrants fleeing conflict and poverty last year alone, reminders of Nazi sentiments have emerged. Refugee shelters in Bavarian villages have been defaced with swastikas or set on fire. In Dresden, thousands of Germans have joined weekly demonstrations against Muslims and other immigrants. While those demonstrations, organized by the anti-immigrant movement Pegida, drew support from across the country, nowhere were the counterprotests stronger than in Munich, where several hundred anti-immigrant demonstrators were drowned out by thousands who turned up to send a message of tolerance and diversity.
Yet Munich, more than any other place in Germany, has struggled to come to terms with its fall from what Thomas Mann described in 1926 as a society “once healthy and gay” to “a hotbed of reactionary sentiment and the seat of inflexibility and resistance to the will of the times.” After a thwarted communist revolution and a crippling economic depression, the far right found legitimacy among much of the upper middle class, which welcomed Hitler and his newly established party.
In 1930, the Nazis purchased an elegant villa just east of the Königsplatz, where they established their headquarters. Known as the Braunes Haus, or Brown House, the building was largely destroyed by bombing and cleared by the American Army after World War II. For decades, the site sat vacant, until the city decided to build the center there at a cost of more than $31 million…From a vantage point on the third floor, visitors can gaze out at the former Führerbau — today home to the Munich University of Music and Theater — where Hitler signed the treaty decreeing that Czechoslovakia cede the Sudetenland in 1938, while screens show film footage of Nazi parades past the site…
For decades after the United States Army marched into Munich on April 30, 1945 — 70 years to the day before the center’s opening ceremony — proudly brandishing the sign removed from the city limits declaring “Munich, Capital of the Movement,” the city preferred to think of itself as a “global city with heart,” largely ignoring the role it had played in giving birth to the Nazi movement. In the 1980s, that began to change. The municipal authorities conducted a study of the city’s role in Nazi-era history. At the same time, younger Germans were beginning to explore who had suffered under the Nazis…
In 2001, Munich set out to build the Documentation Center, to confront its past by examining the question of how and why it happened, while reminding visitors that history remains relevant. “The Nazi period will remain a thorn in Germany’s side,” said Andreas Wirsching, director of the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich. “We will continually be confronted with the question of how it could be that such a highly civilized country plunged into such an abyss of transgression, into a regime of injustice and murder. That is a lasting question of humanity that can be nightmarishly relevant.”
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
Forgotten Facts and Distorted History of the Mideast: Zvi Mazel, Jerusalem Post, May 28, 2015—The Middle East is in flames and the world community is still clinging to the theory that when a Palestinian state arises, peace will descend upon the region.
“Whoever Disbelieves, Strike Off His Head” Muslim Persecution of Christians, February 2015: Raymond Ibrahim, Breaking Israel News, May 14, 2015—Throughout February, members of the largest Christian minority in the Middle East, the Copts, were slaughtered.
At Easter Services, Iraqi Christians Under Threat From ISIS Consider Leaving Middle East: Campbell MacDiarmid, National Post, Apr. 5, 2015—For many Iraqi Christians commemorating Easter Sunday, this year’s church services were not just a time for marking the Resurrection, but a time to reflect on their future, with many considering new beginnings overseas.
The Ancient Ruins Terror Can’t Destroy: Patrick Symmes, New York Times, May 23, 2015 —The guard from the antiquities authority was asleep when I arrived at the Temple of Bel, deep in the Syrian desert.
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LE DROIT LÉGITIME D'ISRAËL SUR JÉRUSALEM EST SOUVENT FALSIFIÉ. HUIT MYTHES SUR « L'OCCUPATION DE JÉRUSALEM »
http://jcpa-lecape.org, 28 mai 2015
La question de l’avenir de Jérusalem est sensible sur plusieurs plans et elle demeure toujours un sujet controversé dans toute négociation régionale et internationale.
Pourtant, depuis la création de l’Etat juif, et même avant, les droits souverains d’Israël sur Jérusalem sont bien ancrés dans l’Histoire et le Droit international.
Hélas, il existe de nombreux Israéliens insuffisamment conscients de leurs droits.
De fait, voici 8 points que vous devriez connaître à propos de notre combat pour Jérusalem :
Une majorité juive à Jérusalem existait déjà cent ans avant l’unification de la Ville
Un siècle avant la création de l’Etat d’Israël, il existait une majorité juive à Jérusalem. Toutes les sources et documents confirment que jusqu’aux années 1860 les Juifs constituaient une majorité dans la Ville sainte.
A la veille de la Première Guerre mondiale, les Juifs y représentaient près de 60% de la population, d’après les données du Mandat britannique, 40% étant répartis entre Chrétiens et Musulmans. Selon des recensements sur la population de la Ville, faits séparément par la Jordanie et par Israël en 1961 (six ans avant la guerre des Six Jours) 72% étaient Juifs, 22% musulmans et 5% chrétiens.
La Résolution 181 de l’ONU de 1947 et l’internationalisation de Jérusalem : une résolution retirée de l’ordre du jour face à l’invasion d’Israël par sept Etats arabes.
La proposition faite en 1947 par l’ONU d’internationaliser Jérusalem en corpus separatum et qui figure en annexe de la Résolution 181 de l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU, n’était qu’une recommandation non-contraignante. Il était prévu que 10 ans plus tard un référendum devait se tenir pour l’ensemble des résidents sur la question de la souveraineté de la Ville.
Soulignons qu’en 1948, lors du siège de Jérusalem imposé aux habitants juifs de la ville par les envahisseurs arabes, l’ONU fut complètement indifférente à leur sort. De fait, Israël a considéré que la proposition de l’internationalisation de Jérusalem manquait de fondement moral et deviendrait « nulle et non avenue » comme l’avait affirmé à l’époque le Premier ministre David Ben Gourion.
La partie arabe a été définie comme agresseur en 1948 et en 1967 par les instances internationales
L’invasion des pays arabes en 1948 a été définie comme un « acte d’agression » par le Secrétaire général de l’ONU. De même, en juin 1967, ce sont bien les Jordaniens qui ont déclenché la guerre sur le front Est. Ils avaient demandé à des divisions égyptiennes de combattre en Cisjordanie et ont permis à l’armée irakienne de traverser le territoire du royaume hachémite par les ponts du Jourdain.
Soulignons que le gouvernement israélien avait à deux reprises demandé, par l’intermédiaire des représentants de l’ONU, d’arrêter les hostilités mais les Jordaniens ont refusé et intensifié les tirs. En décidant d’entrer à Jérusalem-Est, Israël a donc commis un acte de légitime défense.
Après la guerre de 1967, l’ONU a voté en faveur d’Israël – contre l’Union soviétique et les Etats arabes
Après la guerre des Six Jours, l’Union soviétique a compris qu’elle n’était plus capable de défendre ses protégés arabes, et donc, elle a tenté sans succès de présenter Israël comme agresseur. Elle a déposé en ce sens, à deux reprises, une requête au Conseil de sécurité et à l’Assemblée générale, mais au moment du vote en séance plénière de l’Assemblée, seuls 36 pays ont soutenu sa requête et 80 ont voté contre.
Cela signifiait clairement que la communauté internationale avait bien compris qu’Israël avait agi en légitime défense. Ce vote a évidement des implications en Droit international et offre à Israël des avantages spécifiques.
Lire la suite.
ISRAËL: DES DIPLOMATES DÉNONCENT « LE MANQUE DE COHÉSION » AUX AFFAIRE ÉTRANGÈRES
i24news, 28 mai 2015
Des diplomates israéliens ont fait part lundi soir de leur "consternation" face à la répartition des responsabilités liées aux Affaires étrangères décidée par le Premier ministre israélien Benyamin Netanyahou, a indiqué le Times of Israel cette semaine.
Les responsables ont dénoncé "un manque de cohésion" qui nuit à la capacité de l’Etat d’Israël d’être représenté efficacement lors des réunions internationales.
Depuis l’entrée lundi de Gilan Erdan au cabinet israélien lundi, Netanyahou et cinq autre membres du Likoud se partagent les principales responsabilités liées aux Affaires étrangères.
L’ex-ministre des Affaires étrangères Avigdor Lieberman – aujourd’hui dans le camp de l’opposition – a estimé que le nouveau gouvernement n’avait défini "aucune ligne claire" concernant la création d’un Etat palestinien.
"Soutenons-nous deux États pour deux peuples où sommes-nous contre cette approche ?", a-t-il déclaré en faisant référence à la déclaration de la semaine dernière de l’assistante du ministre de Affaires étrangères, Tzipi Hotovely, affirmant qu’Israël devait affirmer ses droits sur toute la terre entre le Jourdain et la mer Méditerranée, une position en contradiction directe avec le soutien déclaré de Netanyahu pour une solution à deux États, durable et pacifique.
Israël ne pourra pas combattre efficacement la campagne de "délégitimation" dont il fait l’objet sans ministre des Affaires étrangères, ont affirmé plusieurs responsables du ministère à la chaîne israélienne Arouts 10.
Netanyahu conserve le porte-feuille de ministre des Affaires étrangères dans le nouveau gouvernement, et a renvoyé lundi le directeur général du ministère, Nissim Ben Shitrit, qui avait été nommé par Liberman.
A la place de Ben Shitrit, Netanyahou a choisi un proche de longue date, Dore Gold.
Aux côtés de Netanyahou et de Hotovely, vice-ministre des Affaires étrangères, Erdan, un autre dirigeant du Likud, a rejoint le ministère des Affaires stratégiques.
Erdan a aussi été chargé de superviser la lutte d’Israël contre les efforts internationaux de boycott, traditionnellement à la charge du ministère des Affaires étrangères.
CORRUPTION DE LA FIFA: « C'EST LES SIONISTES ! » EXPLIQUE UN CORROMPU !
JSSNews, 28 mai 2015
L’ancien vice-président de la FIFA Jack Warner a blâmé le « sionisme » pour les circonstances qui l’ont conduit lui et l’ancien chef Confédération asiatique de football (Mohammed Bin Hammam) à quitter le monde du football.
Warner, 68 ans, a démissionné de la FIFA après des enquêtes d’éthique lancées avec Bin Hammam.
Le qatarien Bin Hammam a est condamné à vie par la FIFA (à ne plus jamais pouvoir intégrer cette organisation), pour son rôle dans des affaires de corruption concernant l’attribution de la Coupe du Monde de Football au Qatar.
Warner, dans une lettre au journal Trinidad Guardian, (lettre qui sera publiée dans son intégralité mardi), affirme :
«Je vais parler du sionisme, qui est probablement la raison la plus importante pour laquelle cette attaque contre Bin Hammam et moi a été montée. »
Les paiements de 40.000$ aux fédérations qui ont votées pour le Qatar (fédérations des Caraïbes), sont au coeur de l’enquête actuelle lancée par la Suisse contre les dirigeants de la FIFA.
Jack Warner a été arrêté ce matin à Trinidad et Tobago. Il pourrait être extradé vers Zurich ou Washington, en vue de répondre aux enquêteurs internationaux.
Ils sont forts ces sionistes !
FIFA: BLATTER ANNONCE « D'AUTRES MAUVAISES NOUVELLES » À VENIR
i24news, 29 mai 2015
«D'autres mauvaises nouvelles sont à venir», a prévenu le président de la FIFA Joseph Blatter, jeudi dans son discours d'ouverture du 65econgrès de l'instance à Zurich, après le nouveau scandale déclenché par l'arrestation de plusieurs responsables soupçonnés de corruption.
M. Blatter, 79 ans, qui briguera jeudi un cinquième mandat à la présidence de la FIFA et qui n'a pas évoqué les nombreux appels à sa démission, a estimé que les suspects arrêtés «jettent la honte et l'humiliation» sur le football mais s'est défendu en soulignant qu'il ne pouvait «pas surveiller tout le monde».
«Les événements d'hier, sans précédent, ont jeté une ombre sur le football et sur le congrès» et les actions des suspects arrêtés «jettent la honte et l'humiliation sur le football et demandent des actions et du changement», a-t-il déclaré.
«Je ne peux pas surveiller tout le monde. Si certains veulent mal faire, ils tenteront aussi de s'en cacher», a-t-il ajouté.
«Les prochains mois ne seront pas faciles pour la FIFA. Je suis sûr que d'autres mouvaises nouvelles sont à venir. Mais il est important de restaurer la confiance», a-t-il encore souligné.
Le patron du football mondial, en poste depuis 1998 et qui doit faire face à l'un des plus grands scandales ayant touché la FIFA, s'est gardé de répondre directement aux appels à sa démission, dontcelui de Michel Platini, le président de l'UEFA qui a appelé à voter en faveur d'unique autre candidat, le prince jordanien Ali bin Hussein.
Des voix s'élèvent de toutes parts contre le Suisse, après la révélation-déflagration mercredi de deux procédures judiciaires concernant la FIFA ouvertes par les justices américaine et suisse, pour corruption présumée à grande échelle, avec arrestations à Zurich de sept élus de la FIFA et perquisitions à son siège.
LE HAMAS A PROCÉDÉ À GAZA À DES EXÉCUTIONS D'ARABES-PALESTINIENS DURANT LE CONFLIT DE L'ÉTÉ 2014
http://www.dreuz.info, 26 mai 2015
Le groupe fascislamiste Hamas, qui fait régner la terreur islamiste à Gaza, s’est servi une nouvelle fois du conflit avec Israël pour régler ses comptes avec ses rivaux. Au moins 23 personnes auraient été liquidées dans ce qui pourrait s’apparenter à des crimes de guerre, affirme mercredi Amnesty international.
C’est ainsi que devant la force de l’évidence, un nouveau rapport sur la guerre d’Amnesty international, l’ONG basée à Londres, dénonce « une campagne brutale de la part du groupe islamiste, d’enlèvements, de tortures et de crimes contre des arabes-palestiniens accusés, ou plutôt au prétexte de ‘collaborer’ avec Israël ».
Le rapport détaille « les exécutions sommaires d’au moins 23 Palestiniens et l’arrestation et la torture de dizaines d’autres ».
« Il est absolument épouvantable, que, tandis que les forces israéliennes combattaient les groupes islamistes, les forces du Hamas en aient profité pour régler sans vergogne leurs comptes, menant une série d’assassinats et d’autres graves violations des droits de l’Homme », affirme le directeur d’Amnesty pour le Moyen-Orient et l’Afrique du Nord, Philip Luther.
En mars, Amnesty avait déjà accusé des groupes armés islamistes arabes-palestiniens de crime de guerre pendant le conflit. Selon le rapport paru ce mercredi, « les forces du Hamas ont aussi enlevé, torturé ou attaqué des membres du Fatah, leur principal rival politique à Gaza, dont d’anciens membres des forces de sécurité de l’Autorité palestinienne ».
Luther accuse également le Hamas de « crimes révoltants contre des individus sans défense », qui, dans certains cas, constituent des crimes de guerre. Selon lui, « le mouvement a méprisé les règles les plus élémentaires du droit humanitaire international. »
Il faut rappeler que lors des conflits précédents, le Hamas avait déjà « nettoyé » l’enclave de ses opposants, et plus encore lors du putsch qu’il organisa contre le Fatah de Mahmoud Abbas en juin 2007. Déjà, discrètement, La Croix-Rouge internationale avait estimé que plus de 550 personnes avaient été blessées et au moins 116 tuées au cours de ces affrontements.
Amnesty appelle « l’Autorité palestinienne » basée à Ramallah, en Judée et Samarie, et le Hamas à « coopérer avec des mécanismes d’enquête internationaux indépendants et impartiaux », et à traduire les suspects en justice.
A l’annonce de ces nouvelles, on s’attend à des manifestations dans les capitales européennes pour dénoncer ces actes de barbarie …
OLIVIER HANNE, ISLAMOLOGUE: L'ÉTAT ISLAMIQUE, UN TOTALITARISME SEMBLABLE AU NAZISME
http://www.europe-israel.org, 28 mai 2015
Il faut le répéter : l’État islamique reste actuellement la force militaire la plus dynamique du Proche-Orient, du moins tant que la Turquie et Israël ne s’investissent pas directement dans le conflit.
Le régime de Damas est sous pression et accumule les échecs. La chute de Palmyre, suffisamment médiatisée, le prouve. La tweetosphère salafiste assure, photos à l’appui, que des soldats de l’EI se trouveraient déjà à plus de 50 km à l’ouest de la ville et se rapprocheraient de Homs.
Une vidéo postée sur internet le 21 mai montrait la fuite tragique des soldats syriens, courant à perdre haleine par centaines pour échapper à la mort, tandis que les djihadistes leur tiraient dans le dos en riant. À Ramadi, 6.000 soldats irakiens auraient fui devant 150 combattants de l’EI ! C’est dire que la terreur est efficace et que l’organisation est partout précédée d’un sentiment d’apocalypse.
Ses membres ne profitent pourtant guère de leurs victoires. Certes, ils gagnent un salaire, des femmes et du butin, mais le nombre de kamikazes volontaires est stupéfiant. Nul ne paraît vouloir s’y dérober. Depuis août 2014, plusieurs camps d’entraînement pour adolescents, et pour même jeunes enfants, ont été ouverts.
On prêche le djihâd aux petits. Depuis quelques semaines, les premiers garçons soldats sont apparus sur les champs de bataille, plutôt à l’arrière pour le moment, mais armés et cagoulés comme les autres. Dans trois ans, ils auront autant de résistance que les adultes.
Des hommes présentés comme des juges, des oulémas ou des chefs de bataillon interviennent sur certaines vidéos en conduisant des camions bourrés d’explosifs. Même Al-Baghdâdî, malgré son pouvoir, vit dans une clandestinité austère, se cachant pour éviter les frappes.
IRAN: UNE DÉLÉGATION DE CORÉE DU NORD A VISITÉ DES SITES NUCLÉAIRES EN AVRIL
Une délégation nord-coréenne de spécialistes en têtes nucléaires et en missiles balistiques a visité un site militaire près de Téhéran en avril, rapporte jeudi un groupe d'opposants iraniens en exil, sur fond de discussions sur le nucléaire iranien.
L'équipe de sept experts a été emmenée dans le plus grand secret dans le complexe de l'Imam Khomenei, contrôlé par le ministère iranien de la Défense, dans l'est de la province de Téhéran, la dernière semaine d'avril, indique le Conseil national de la résistance iranienne (CNRI), citant des sources présentes en Iran, y compris au sein des Gardiens de la révolution.
Il s'agit de la troisième visite d'une délégation nord-coréenne de ce type en Iran depuis le début de l'année. Une délégation de neuf experts devrait revenir en juin, ajoute le CNRI, basé à Paris.
"Téhéran n'a montré aucun intérêt à renoncer aux armes nucléaires, le programme de nucléarisation se poursuit et ils n'ont pas ralenti le processus", estime le porte-parole du CNRI Shahin Gobadi.
Reuters n'était pas en mesure de vérifier ces informations de manière indépendante.
Le Conseil de sécurité de l'Onu a adopté ces dernières années une série de sanctions contre la Corée du Nordqui a mené trois essais nucléaires en 2006, 2009 et 2013.
UN CANDIDAT US AUX PRÉSIDENTIELLES: « ON NE LAISSERA PAS LA FRANCE AGIR AU PROCHE-ORIENT »
En visite à Jérusalem, le sénateur républicain Lindsey Graham et candidat à la présidence des Etats-Unis, a été très dur vis-à-vis de la diplomatie française au Proche-Orient.
Graham, président du sous-comité sénatorial qui supervise le financement américain d’organisations internationales, a déclaré lors de sa conférence de presse que si le Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU adopte une position anti-israélienne (définir les lignes du processus de paix sans rien demander aux israéliens), alors il créera un effort « afin de suspendre le financement de l’ONU. »
Les commentaires de Graham visent directement la France et la Nouvelle-Zélande qui vont proposer au Conseil de Sécurité de définir aux-même les frontières entre Israël et les territoires palestiniens.
«Nous fournissons 25 pour cent du financement de l’Organisation des Nations Unies», a déclaré Graham. « Nous avons beaucoup d’influence. Nous ne recevons pas grand chose en retour de notre argent. »
Shabbat Shalom à tous nos lecteurs!
Hamas Using Truce to Prepare for Next Clash with Israel: Yaakov Lappin, IPT, May 18, 2015— In the nine months since Hamas fought a 50-day war with Israel, the terrorist group has exploited the months of recent quiet to prepare itself for the next clash, which it assumes will inevitably come.
Fatah’s Armed Militias Warn Israelis: “You Must Leave!”: Khaled Abu Toameh, Breaking Israel News, May 25, 2015 — Many in the international community often refer to the Palestinian Fatah faction, which is headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, as a “moderate” group that believes in Israel’s right to exist and the two-state solution.
Return or Die?: Alexander Joffe & Asaf Romirowsky, American Interest, May 17, 2015 — Faced with the suffering of their own people, the Palestinians recently decided not to help. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas rejected a deal with Israel brokered by the United Nations that would allow Palestinian refugees living in Syria to resettle in the West Bank and Gaza.
The Plight of Palestinian Women: Robert Fulford, National Post, Apr. 10, 2015— Their many admirers in the West like to depict Palestinians as innocent victims of imperialism, anxious to live free under their own state but tragically locked within boundaries imposed by Israel.
Israeli Warplanes Strike Gaza Targets After Rocket Attack: Jerusalem Post, May 27, 2015
Hamas: Masters of Deception: Dr. Shaul Bartal, Israel Hayom, May 28, 2015
Palestine (State of): ‘Strangling Necks’ Abductions, Torture and Summary Killings of Palestinians by Hamas Forces During the 2014 Gaza/Israel Conflict: Amnesty International, May 26, 2015
Amnesty Using Hamas Crimes as Another Excuse to Attack Israel: Elder of Ziyon, Algemeiner, May 27, 2015
HAMAS USING TRUCE TO PREPARE FOR NEXT CLASH WITH ISRAEL
IPT, May 18, 2015
In the nine months since Hamas fought a 50-day war with Israel, the terrorist group has exploited the months of recent quiet to prepare itself for the next clash, which it assumes will inevitably come. Hamas is in the midst of a full-scale rocket rearmament and tunnel reconstruction drive. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is also preparing its responses for the next time the Gazan regime attacks.
Despite its extremist ideology, Hamas does not appear interested in sparking another costly and damaging war now, and yet, a large number of potential triggers are in place that could start one anyway. The military wing, the Izzadin Al-Qassam Brigades, has restarted its domestic rocket and mortar production program, and built, in all likelihood, more than 1,000 rockets since the Aug. 26 ceasefire went into effect. The new rockets include dozens of projectiles with a range of more than 75 kilometers, putting central Israeli cities in reach. By the end of Operation Protective Edge last year, Hamas was left with about 3,000 rockets – a third of its original stockpile.
Israel's Iron Dome anti-rocket batteries proved more than capable of shooting down volleys of incoming Gazan rockets that threatened populated areas in the last conflict, intercepting 580 incoming threats.
Despite Israel's effective air defenses, Hamas is pushing to produce more rockets, since they still have the ability to disrupt Israeli civilian life with air raid sirens, force millions to take cover, and harm Israel's economy. Due to Egypt's stringent policy of destroying smuggling tunnels, Hamas is not able to smuggle weapons in from outside, and uses metal workshops in Gaza to make rocket tubes and fins instead. It uses dual use materials like farming chemicals and mixes them together to create explosive warheads.
The IDF destroyed 32 cross-border attack tunnels last summer, which Hamas dug with the intention of injecting murder squads into southern Israel to kill and kidnap Israelis civilians and soldiers. Hamas had employed around 1,000 diggers at relatively low cost, and worked them in shifts to create the underground network. It linked the cross-border tunnels to a series of subterranean passages within Gaza itself. Such tunnels were used for the transport of arms and terrorists, out of view of Israel's air force and intelligence services. Should a new Hamas tunnel be found to cross the border into Israel again, violating Israeli sovereignty, another round of fighting could soon follow.
Meanwhile, the Gazan economy remains stagnant. A small percentage of the $5.4 billion pledged by international donors towards Gaza's reconstruction has reached the Strip. The hold-up in transferring the funds is rooted in an ongoing dispute between Gaza's rulers and the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA), which governs Palestinians in the West Bank. A failure by the PA and Hamas to agree to a joint mechanism to receive the funds means that reconstruction is proceeding slower than a snail's pace. Tens of thousands of Gazan buildings that were damaged or destroyed in the 2014 conflict remain unrepaired.
Hamas, for its part, uses the resources it does have to rebuild its offensive military assets, largely ignoring the plight of Gazan civilians. The longer reconstruction is held up, the more the chances of a renewed conflict grow. Israel, being well aware of this possibility, is making efforts to facilitate the entry of reconstruction material. In April alone, according to figures from the IDF's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, 63,468 tons of construction materials entered Gaza via Israeli crossings. Since October, 167,673 tons of construction material entered Gaza.
Gazan civilian pressure on Hamas could grow, and the military wing could find an excuse to initiate a new conflict: to force the international community to facilitate reconstruction. Such a move would be designed to deflect domestic pressure away from Hamas. When Hamas initiated war with Israel last June, it did so because Hamas leaders felt regionally barricaded, and their regime was on the brink of economic collapse. Hamas hoped that a conflict would to strengthen its position, and used its military bases, hidden in the heart of residential areas, to attack Israel regardless of the suffering this decision ended up causing to the residents of Gaza.
Today, all of the same factors that caused Hamas to turn towards conflict remain in place. To the south, in Egypt, Hamas's sister movement, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, is hunted and repressed by the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, contributing to Hamas's isolation. Egypt views Gaza as one large terrorist base, where Salafi-jihadist organizations freely arm themselves and move through tunnels into Egyptian territory to carry out attacks. Egypt identifies Hamas a branch of its Islamist domestic foe, the Muslim Brotherhood, and a direct threat to its national security, leading to a ban on the military wing this year. Egypt created a kilometer-wide buffer zone with Gaza, destroying homes on the Sinai-Gaza border, and blocking off hundreds of smuggling tunnels in the process.
Hamas has few regional allies, though it does enjoy some backing from Turkey, Qatar, and an old-new friend has reappeared: Iran. Hamas and Tehran reestablished ties this year despite mutual mistrust, and Iran started bankrolling Hamas's rearmament program to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. In addition, tensions exist between various ruling factions within Hamas, a fact that could lead to future instability…
FATAH’S ARMED MILITIAS WARN ISRAELIS: “YOU MUST LEAVE!”
Khaled Abu Toameh
Breaking Israel News, May 25, 2015
Many in the international community often refer to the Palestinian Fatah faction, which is headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, as a “moderate” group that believes in Israel’s right to exist and the two-state solution. What these people do not know is that Fatah, the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), consists of several groups that hold different views than those expressed by Abbas and other English-speaking Fatah officials.
Some of these Fatah groups do not believe in Israel’s right to exist and continue to talk about the “armed struggle” as the only way to “liberate Palestine and restore Palestinian national rights.” One of these groups is called The Aqsa Martyrs Brigade – El Amoudi Brigade. The Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is Fatah’s armed wing, established shortly after the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000. Although the Palestinian Authority leadership maintains that the group has been dissolved and its members recruited into its security forces, scores of gunmen continue to operate freely in Palestinian villages and refugee camps in the West Bank.
Based in the Gaza Strip, the El Amoudi Brigade, which consists of dozens of Fatah gunmen, is named after Nidal El Amoudi, a top Fatah operative killed by the Israel Defense Forces on January 13, 2008, after he carried out a series of armed attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers during the second intifada. During the last war in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas (“Operation Protective Edge”), the El Amoudi Brigade claimed responsibility for firing dozens of rockets at Israeli cities and IDF soldiers. Sources in the Gaza Strip claim that many of the group’s members are former security officers, still on the payroll of the PA. Other sources claim that the group is funded by ousted Fatah official Mohamed Dahlan, who is currently based in the United Arab Emirates, and the Lebanese Shiite terror group Hezbollah.
It is worth noting that the Palestinian Authority leadership has never distanced itself from the El Amoudi Brigade’s rhetoric and actions. In addition to an official website, Fatah’s El Amoudi Brigade regularly issues threats to pursue the armed struggle against, and destroy, Israel. Last week, the group posted a video with a message to the “Israeli enemy” on the 67th anniversary of the creation of Israel — which Palestinians refer to as “Nakba Day” (Day of Catastrophe). Entitled, “A Message to the Israeli People” and accompanied by Hebrew subtitles, the video declares that the “battle for the liberation (of Palestine) was closer than ever,” and warns Israelis: “Our Nakba (catastrophe) is unforgettable; soon you will have to leave because you have no other choice.” The Fatah video shows the group’s members during military training in the Gaza Strip, in preparation for the next battle against Israel. “We have prepared the best soldiers,” says the song in the background.
In a separate statement on the same occasion, the Fatah group emphasizes that the “armed struggle” against Israel “is the only means to liberate Palestine.” It also stresses that the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees to their former homes inside Israel cannot be compromised and is non-negotiable. “Our people reject all alternative options to the right of return,” the statement read, repeatedly referring to Israel as the “Zionist enemy.” Elsewhere, the Fatah group boasts that its men have been able to manufacture a new 12-kilometer range rocket called 107 that was used against IDF tanks and soldiers during the last war in the Gaza Strip.
The El Amoudi Brigade is not the only armed Fatah militia operating in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Another significant group in the Gaza Strip, which also participated in the last war against Israel, is called the Martyr Abdel Qader Hossaini Brigade. Like its sister group, El Amoudi Brigade, the Martyr Abdel Qader Hossaini militia also supports the armed struggle against the “Zionist enemy.”
A third major Fatah terror group is called the Abu al-Rish Brigades, which has been responsible for many terrorist attacks against Israel and the kidnapping of foreigners in the Gaza Strip. The gang, which describes itself as the “military wing of Fatah,” also refers to Israel as the “Zionist enemy” and claims to have participated alongside Hamas in the last war in the Gaza Strip.
The international community and the media often ignore the fact that Fatah has a number of armed groups that are still openly dedicated to the “armed struggle” and terrorism as a way of “liberating Palestine.” They also ignore that “moderate” Fatah leaders who speak in favor of peace and the two-state solution do not distance themselves from these groups. Several Fatah leaders, in fact, often speak in English about the need for reviving the peace process, while in Arabic they praise and endorse the Fatah gunmen…
RETURN OR DIE?
Alexander Joffe & Asaf Romirowsky
American Interest, May 17, 2015
Faced with the suffering of their own people, the Palestinians recently decided not to help. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas rejected a deal with Israel brokered by the United Nations that would allow Palestinian refugees living in Syria to resettle in the West Bank and Gaza. Abbas stated unequivocally that “we rejected that and said it’s better they die in Syria than give up their right of return.” The Palestine Liberation Organization has also ruled out any military action to help the 18,000 or more refugees who are trapped in the Yarmouk camp near Damascus.
Abbas’s cold-blooded response reveals something fundamental about Palestinian society and identity. Far more than territory, the key Israeli-Palestinian issue is the idea of a Palestinian “right of return”—the belief in a legal and moral right of Palestinian refugees, and more importantly their descendants from around the world, to return to ancestral homes in what was once Mandatory Palestine. This belief is so vital to Palestinian national identity that their leaders would rather they die than give it up and have a chance to live.
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) of December 1948 supposedly codifies this “right.” However, a closer look reveals it to be conditional: “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return.” The resolution also calls for the United Nations “to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation.”
Interestingly, all the Arab States in the UN at the time (Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen) voted against the resolution, since it implicitly accepted the partition of Mandatory Palestine that recognized the Jewish right to a state. But the actual text of the resolution has been irrelevant since the beginning; Palestinian identity has crystallized around the dream of an unconditional “right of return,” as has Palestinian propaganda to the world.
Since 1948, the “right of return” has been repeated innumerable times and has become rooted deeply in Palestinian culture. Abbas himself stated that “the right of return is a personal decision… neither the PA, nor the state, nor the PLO, nor Abu-Mazen [Abbas], nor any Palestinian or Arab leader has the right to deprive someone from his right to return.” Put this way, which Palestinian would be the first to violate a cultural norm?
More amazing still is the extent to which this imaginary right has been embraced elsewhere. One example, of many, is the American Friends Service Committee, a leading architect of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, which calls for the “implementation of refugees’ right of return, equality, and justice for Palestinians and Israelis.” This simply means the end of Israel as a Jewish state, hardly equality or justice for both peoples. Such dishonesty about this pivotal Palestinian demand prolongs the crisis. So, too, do high-ranking UNRWA officials who defend the Palestinian “right of return,” in speeches and official web pages, not to mention through pervasive promotion in UNRWA schools. How does promoting the claim that Palestinians are entitled to return to places in Israel once occupied by their parents, grandparents, or even great-grandparents serve the cause of peace?
Yet pointing out, however gently, that they are unlikely ever to return to these places violates a code of silence. Such was the case with former UNRWA spokesman Andrew Whitley. In a 2010 speech to an Arab-American group, he stated, “We recognize, as I think most do, although it’s not a position that we publicly articulate, that the right of return is unlikely to be exercised to the territory of Israel to any significant or meaningful extent… It’s not a politically palatable issue, it’s not one that UNRWA publicly advocates, but nevertheless it’s a known contour to the issue.” UNRWA swiftly condemned Whitley, saying it “unequivocally distances itself from the statements,” and Whitley himself recanted, saying, “I express my sincere regrets and apologies over any harm that my words may have done to the cause of the Palestine refugees and for any offence I may have caused… It is definitely not my belief that the refugees should give up on their basic rights, including the right of return.”
Abbas’s statement takes that “right” a step further still. He has effectively said it is an obligation for Palestinians to die rather than return under the wrong circumstances by moving to the territories of the Palestinian Authority itself and renouncing the desire to settle in what is now Israel. The centrality of the “right of return” to Palestinian identity, along with the concept of “resistance” as a means to restore both “justice” and “honor,” have reliably thwarted any consideration of resettlement. Now Abbas has laid out fully the idea of death before dishonor, or even the possibility of life under Palestinian Authority rule.
There have only ever been two solutions to the Palestinian problem, repatriation and resettlement. While at the beginning Israel offered to accept meaningful numbers of Palestinians, anything short of a complete restoration has always been off-limits politically among Palestinians. Now as Palestinians are dying, the barriers have been raised that much higher.
Al-Jazeera editor Mehdi Hasan recently wrote, “Now is the time for those of us who claim to care about the Palestinian people, and their struggle for dignity, justice, and nationhood, to make our voices heard” but added that “Our selective outrage is morally unsustainable. Many of us who have raised our voices in support of the Palestinian cause have inexcusably turned a blind eye to the fact that tens of thousands of Palestinians have been killed by fellow Arabs in recent decades.” That criticism applies first and foremost to the Palestinian leadership.
THE PLIGHT OF PALESTINIAN WOMEN
National Post, Apr. 10, 2015
Their many admirers in the West like to depict Palestinians as innocent victims of imperialism, anxious to live free under their own state but tragically locked within boundaries imposed by Israel. The myth of the virtuous Palestinian flourishes especially on North American campuses where naive students vigorously press the case again Israel. But that sentimental notion collapses under scrutiny. Students in the West would be appalled if they learned a little about the rights of women under the Palestinian Authority (PA). Some of the truth is available even in the official daily paper of the PA, Al-Hayat al-Jadida, published in Ramallah. The position of women today in the West Bank and Gaza provides chilling insight into what life in a Palestinian state will be like if that state ever becomes a reality.
About half of Palestinian women have been exposed to domestic violence, according to Al-Hayat al-Jadida. In 2014 a senior official in the PA Ministry of Women’s Affairs reported a 100 per cent recent increase in “family honour” killings. No one was particularly surprised. Zainab Al-Ghneimi, who runs the Women’s Legal Counselling Centre, says that this is a product of the entire society’s culture. Al-Ghneimi believes that a Palestinian husband assumes the right of ownership. A man is his wife’s guardian, free to command and forbid. She points out that violent husbands are not following Islamic doctrine; no religious text encourages violence against women. But the idea has become so entrenched that it’s now assumed to be correct doctrine.
Typically, Al-Ghneimi says, a man believes he has bought the woman and paid for her. She has become his property and must obey his orders. But it becomes more complicated when women are surveyed. The PA newspaper claims that many women accept violence as their due. About four out of 10 agree that violence is justified if a woman leaves home without notifying her husband. About three-quarters believe it’s justified if she neglects her children. Palestinian Media Watch, an independent online service, says Palestinian laws have been interpreted as allowing violence against women. Mahmoud Abbas, the PA chairman, has been criticized by women’s rights groups for failing to revise the legislation. A headline, “Violence against women in Gaza: The undermining of family life,” ran in Al-Hayat al-Jadida.
The article said that in Gaza violence against women increased after the 50-day rockets-and-bombs struggle with Israel in 2014. A statement from the Palestinian Centre for Democracy and Conflict Resolution in Gaza said poverty explains the increase. Men become more stressed and angry when they can’t support their families and live in crowded conditions with no privacy. “There has also been a reversal in gender roles where women accept low-paying jobs which men consider below their status as the head of families. This has all fed into men’s feelings of inadequacy and to them taking their frustrations out on their female relatives.”
Khaled Abu Toameh, an Israeli Arab reporter with the Jerusalem Post, has recently written an account of how women are treated in Gaza. Hamas imposed strict rules on women after taking control in 2007. Women are required to wear veils, especially in offices and on college campuses. They can’t walk in public except with a male relative. They can’t smoke in a café. They are not allowed to use hairdressing salons owned by men. If mannequins displayed by retailers are shaped like women, they must be dressed modestly.
On the other hand, Gaza women can go to war. Abu Toameh reports that women are being recruited to take military training with the Nasser Eddin Brigades, a famous terrorist militia, known for helping capture the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and for blowing up an Israeli tank. So far, 40 Palestinian women have graduated from military training camps and another 40 are being taught. These women have the special privilege of being in the company of men who are not their close relatives.
If many Palestinian women believe they are unfairly treated, where can they turn for support? They might consider the UN Commission on the Status of Women, whose stated goal is to “promote gender equality and the empowerment of women.” Last month the commission passed just one political resolution, sponsored by Palestine and South Africa. It declared, to no one’s surprise, that Israel is responsible for unequal treatment of women. That was a logical position. Israel must be guilty in that case, since the UN has already declared Israel guilty in all other violations of human rights.
Israeli Warplanes Strike Gaza Targets After Rocket Attack: Jerusalem Post, May 27, 2015—The Israeli Air Force attacked four targets in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday morning, following an earlier rocket attack on Israeli territory, the IDF spokesperson said.
Hamas: Masters of Deception: Dr. Shaul Bartal, Israel Hayom, May 28, 2015—The Grad rocket that exploded near Ashdod on Tuesday and Israel's retaliation shortly thereafter raised concerns of escalation once again.
Palestine (State of): ‘Strangling Necks’ Abductions, Torture and Summary Killings of Palestinians by Hamas Forces During the 2014 Gaza/Israel Conflict: Amnesty International, May 26, 2015—Hamas forces in Gaza committed serious human rights abuses, including abductions, torture and summary and extrajudicial executions with impunity during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict.
Amnesty Using Hamas Crimes as Another Excuse to Attack Israel: Elder of Ziyon, Algemeiner, May 27, 2015 —Some people were surprised that Amnesty International issued a report actually condemning Hamas for brutally killing “collaborators” during last summer’s Gaza war.
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: email@example.com
On Topic Links
Harper’s Principled Stand on Israel: National Post, May 25, 2015
Obama, Anti-Semitism and Iran: Walter Russell Mead, American Interest, May 25, 2015
‘Defending the Faith’ in the Middle East: David Motadel, New York Times, May 23, 2015
Research on the Islamic State: Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, Middle East Forum, April-May, 2015
“We have long refused to be neutral in supporting Israel’s right to defend itself against the violent jihadists who have threatened her for every single day of her 67-year existence…Israel is the front line among the free and democratic nations and any who turn their back on Israel, or turn a blind eye to the nature of Israel’s enemies, do so, in the long run, at their own peril,” —Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Harper spoke at the King David Award Gala, an event organized by the Jewish Community Council of Montreal. The group said on Facebook the Gala was designed to honour Harper, “a true, devoted and sincere friend of Israel.” (Globe & Mail, May 21, 2015)
"Hamas forces have displayed a disregard for the most fundamental rules of international humanitarian law…Torture and cruel treatment of detainees in an armed conflict is a war crime. Extrajudicial executions are also war crimes," —Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa director. Amnesty International accused Hamas terrorists of abducting, torturing, and carrying out summary executions of Palestinians during last year's conflict in the Gaza Strip. The report said that at least 23 Palestinians were shot and killed by Hamas, while dozens more were arrested and tortured. Amnesty said those targeted were either political rivals of Hamas, or people Hamas had accused of cooperating with Israel. "In one of the most shocking incidents, six men were publicly executed by Hamas forces outside al-Omari mosque … in front of hundreds of spectators, including children…The hooded men were dragged along the floor to kneel by a wall facing the crowd, then each man was shot in the head individually before being sprayed with bullets fired from an AK-47," the report said. (Fox News, May 27, 2015)
"What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight…They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight, they withdrew from the site, and that says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves," — U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in his first comments since the key town of Ramadi fell to Islamic State. In the wake of I.S. advances, some — including Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain –have called for more American forces on the ground in Iraq. Currently, there are about 3,000 U.S. military personnel training Iraqi forces, but they are not near combat areas. (CNN, May 24, 2015)
“Today, there is nobody in confrontation with [I.S.] except the Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as nations who are next to Iran or supported by Iran,” —Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of an elite unit in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Iraqi and Iranian officials reacted angrily to remarks from Ash Carter that Baghdad’s troops had been beaten by a far smaller force because they lacked motivation. Tehran responded by saying that the U.S. had not done “a damn thing” to prevent the alliance’s worst defeat. (Telegraph, May 26, 2015)
“Ramadi falls. The Iraqi army flees. The great 60-nation anti-Islamic State coalition so grandly proclaimed by the Obama administration is nowhere to be seen. Instead, it’s the defense minister of Iran who flies into Baghdad, an unsubtle demonstration of who’s in charge — while the U.S. air campaign proves futile and America’s alleged strategy for combating the Islamic State is in freefall…Iraq is now a battlefield between the Sunni jihadists of the Islamic State and the Shiite jihadists of Iran’s Islamic Republic. There is no viable center. We abandoned it. The Obama administration’s unilateral pullout created a vacuum for the entry of the worst of the worst,” —Charles Krauthammer (Washington Post, May 21, 2015)
"The longer (I.S.) is allowed to survive in Iraq and Syria, the more likely they are to attack us here at home…I think 10,000 troops would allow us to train the Iraqi army at a faster pace, give them capability that they don't have…It will take us thousands of American soldiers over there to protect millions of us back here at home," —U.S. Republican, and likely presidential candidate, Sen. Lindsey Graham. Graham criticized President Obama for not keeping a residual security presence in Iraq after troops left the country in 2011. If he was elected president, Graham said he would increase the number of U.S. troops from 3,000 to about 10,000 in order to stymie the growing threat posed by the Islamic State. (CNN, May 18, 2015)
“Only a generation removed from the Holocaust, it seems that antisemitic rhetoric and anti-Israeli rhetoric is on the rise…You have a Middle East that is turbulent and chaotic…You have Europe, where … there is an emergence of a more overt and dangerous antisemitism…And that will make people fearful…Precisely because I care so much about the Jewish people, I feel obliged to speak honestly and truthfully about what I think will be most likely to lead to long-term security, and will best position us to continue to combat antisemitism.” —U.S. President Obama, in an interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg. Obama continued to insist that the Iranian regime’s antisemitism had not completely tainted its policy. “The fact that you are antisemitic, or racist, doesn’t preclude you from being interested in survival…So the fact that the supreme leader [of Iran] is antisemitic does not mean that this overrides all of his other considerations,” Obama said. He said that precisely because the stakes are so high for Iran as it nears the deadline to complete an agreement with Western powers over its nuclear ambitions, antisemitism could not be the guiding principle behind the country’s political strategy. “What we’ve been very clear [about] to the Iranian regime over the past six years is that we will continue to ratchet up the costs, not simply for their anti-Semitism, but also for whatever expansionist ambitions they may have. That’s what the sanctions represent. That’s what the military option I’ve made clear I preserve represents,” he said. (Algemeiner, May 21, 2015)
“I also raised another concern—one that the president didn’t seem to fully share. It’s been my belief that it is difficult to negotiate with parties that are captive to a conspiratorial anti-Semitic worldview not because they hold offensive views, but because they hold ridiculous views…Anti-Semites have difficulty understanding the world as it actually works, and don’t comprehend cause-and-effect in politics and economics. Though I would like to see a solid nuclear deal (it is preferable to the alternatives) I don’t believe that the regime with which Obama is negotiating can be counted on to be entirely rational,” —Jeffrey Goldberg, responding to his interview with Obama in The Atlantic (American Interest, May 25, 2015)
“Iran, with the help of Hezbollah and its friends, is capable of destroying Tel Aviv and Haifa in case of military aggression on the part of the Zionists…I don’t think the Zionists would be so unintelligent as to create a military problem with Iran…They know the strength of Iran and Hezbollah,” —General Yahya Rahim Safavi, military adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Safavi said Hezbollah has more than 80,000 rockets ready to fire at Tel Aviv and Haifa. (Times of Israel, May 22, 2015)
“I do not understand this obsession against the settlements…If you are serious and you want this area to last forever as part of Israel, one way or another, you have to build, you have to add thousands of families, you have to assure it,” —Israel Harel, founder of the Jewish settlement of Ofra. The first settlement north of Jerusalem, created in 1975, Ofra is now a community of 740 families. But at 76, Harel still dreams of more. “I wanted to see a city of 30,000 here,” said Harel. There are 380,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank today, but Harel wants a million. As a journalist, academic and activist, Harel has devoted his life to the settlement movement. “We felt like the first Zionist pioneers…We were elevated…Jews walking again in the land of Israel, the land of the Bible,” he said. Harel just won the 2015 Lion of Zion Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed by the U.S.-based Moskowitz Foundation. (Washington Post, May 24, 2015)
“We have given the best years of our lives to remember—to remember the tragedy of what happened. … Now we are starting to see some light from all of our efforts,” —Ilana Romano, widow of Israeli weightlifter Yossef Romano, who was murdered by Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists along with 10 other members of the Israeli Olympic team during the summer of 1972 Olympics in Munich, West Germany. That fateful event became known as the “Munich Massacre.” In time for the Rio Olympics in the summer of 2016, a first-ever IOC-supported official memorial telling the story of the Munich Massacre will be erected in Munich, on the grounds of the Olympic stadium. Romano adds, “Now I can rest a little because I know that I am leaving the record straight for the next generation, from a historical perspective, so hopefully history will not repeat itself.” (Algemeiner, May 26, 2015)
ISRAELI WARPLANES STRIKE GAZA TARGETS AFTER ROCKET ATTACK (Tel Aviv) — The Israeli Air Force attacked four targets in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday morning, following an earlier rocket attack on Israeli territory. The IDF identified the targets, in the southern part of the coastal enclave, as terror infrastructure. The army added that it holds Hamas responsible. A rocket from Gaza exploded in the Gan Yavne region east of Ashdod, on Tuesday evening. Apart from a 15-year-old girl who suffered from a panic attack, the rocket failed to cause injuries. Tuesday's rocket was the first mid-range rocket attack since the ceasefire went into effect on August 26 following the month-and-a-half long war with Gaza known as Operation Protective Edge. (Jerusalem Post, May 27, 2015)
ISRAELI EX-PREMIER OLMERT IS SENTENCED TO 8 MONTHS IN JAIL (Jerusalem) — Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister who was forced out of office amid allegations of corruption, was sentenced on Monday to eight months in jail for fraud and breach of trust in a case involving an American businessman. The Jerusalem District Court agreed to postpone the start of the prison sentence to allow time for an appeal on behalf of Olmert, who is already contesting a sentence for taking bribes in a different case involving the construction of a housing complex. Olmert also received on Monday an eight-month suspended sentence and was fined 100,000 shekels, or about $26,000, in the case, which was pivotal in ending his political career. (New York Times, May 25, 2015)
DORE GOLD PICKED AS NEW FOREIGN MINISTRY DIRECTOR-GENERAL (Jerusalem) — Prime Minister Netanyahu named long-time foreign policy confidant Dore Gold as Foreign Ministry director-general. Gold, a former ambassador to the United Nations and currently head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, will be working under Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely. In recent years, Gold has accompanied Netanyahu on many of his trips to Washington and the UN, and over the years has been one of Israel’s foremost unofficial spokesmen, speaking in the media and at conferences around the world on Israeli policy. (Jerusalem Post, May 25, 2015)
NETANYAHU SAID TO OFFER ERDAN MINISTRIES, ENDING STANDOFF (Jerusalem) —Likud No. 2 Gilad Erdan will become a government minister as early as this week after ending a public battle with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu over the question of what cabinet position he will fill. Erdan will take over the Public Security Ministry and resume his old position as communications minister. In addition, he will head the Strategic Affairs Ministry — likely giving him a seat in the more exclusive security cabinet. A high-profile tiff between Netanyahu and the Likud no. 2 ultimately saw Erdan end up outside the cabinet and his requested ministerial positions scattered among other Likud faction members. (Times of Israel, May 25, 2015)
JEWS ARRESTED FOR PRAYING ON TEMPLE MOUNT (Jerusalem) — The Old City of Jerusalem erupted in various spates of violence over the last two days as Muslims clashed with Jews and Christians. On Monday, Israeli police arrested six Muslims and six Jews after a confrontation on the Temple Mount. Four Jews were arrested after being caught praying and two others for “causing disturbances.” The site of frequent tension, Jews are forbidden from praying of carrying out any religious act by the Muslim Waqf, who controls the site. In a separate incident on Sunday, one man was lightly injured during a massive street fight between Muslims and Christian Arabs in the Old City. The fight, which took place in the Christian Quarter, involved at least 30 people. (Breaking Israel News, May 26, 2015)
CANADA HELPS BLOCK PLAN TO RID WORLD OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS, CITING ISRAEL (New York) — Israel has expressed its gratitude to Canada for helping to block a major international plan towards ridding the world of nuclear weapons. Canada and Britain both supported the U.S. in opposing the document at the UN review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The document called on the UN to hold a disarmament conference on the Middle East by 2016. Such a conference could have forced Israel to publicly acknowledge that it is a nuclear power, something it has never done. Adopting the document would have required a consensus, but since none was reached, that means nuclear disarmament efforts have been blocked until 2020. In a weekend phone call, Netanyahu thanked Stephen Harper for what he called Canada's principled stand. (CTV, May 25, 2015)
NO IRAN DEAL WITHOUT FULL ACCESS TO MILITARY SITES: FRANCE (Paris) — France's foreign minister said on Wednesday his country would not back any nuclear deal with Iran unless it provided full access to all installations, including military sites. "France will not accept (a deal) if it is not clear that inspections can be done at all Iranian installations, including military sites," Laurent Fabius told lawmakers. Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week ruled out international inspection of Iran's military sites or access to nuclear scientists under any nuclear agreement. Iran's military leaders echoed his remarks. (Yahoo, May 27, 2015)
WASHINGTON POST REPORTER GOES ON TRIAL IN IRAN FOR ESPIONAGE (Teheran) —The espionage trial of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian opened behind closed doors in Tehran on Tuesday, 10 months after he was arrested at his home in the Iranian capital. Rezaian has also been charged with spreading propaganda against Iran. His wife, Yeganeh Salehi, faces similar charges. Rezaian, the Post’s Tehran bureau chief, was born and raised in California, and holds dual U.S. and Iranian citizenship. Rezaian has been held mostly at Tehran’s Evin Prison, known for its particularly harsh treatment of alleged political prisoners and dissidents. (Wall Street Journal, May 26, 2015)
NEARLY 100 PEOPLE KILLED IN SAUDI-LED AERIAL ASSAULT ON YEMEN (Sana’a) —Airstrikes hit Yemen’s capital, a Red Sea naval port and a border province Wednesday, killing nearly 100 people and injuring more than 270 others. It was believed to be the largest single-day death toll of the 2-month-old Saudi-led aerial offensive. The Saudi-led campaign has yet to drive the insurgents from the capital or from strongholds in the strategic city of Aden in the south. Other main targets included the port of Hodeida, home to the country’s biggest naval base, which had been in the hands of the rebels and elements of Yemen’s armed forces that took up the insurgent cause. Fighting has killed some 2,000 people and imperiled thousands of others, by international estimates. (Los Angeles Times, May 27, 2015)
SAUDIS SAY I.S. ORDERED SUICIDE BOMBING OF MOSQUE (Riyadh) —The Saudi Interior Ministry said that a Saudi man taking direction from the Islamic State had carried out a deadly suicide bombing a day earlier, bolstering the group’s claim of responsibility. The ministry’s conclusion added to the sense of alarm that the group might be extending its reach inside the kingdom, which has so far largely escaped the violence engulfing Iraq and Syria. The suicide bombing on Friday killed at least 21 worshipers at a Shiite mosque in a town near Qatif, in the Eastern Province. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in an official statement. (New York Times, May 23, 2015)
AFGHAN FORCES KILL FOUR TALIBAN FIGHTERS WHO TRIED TO ATTACK HOTEL (Kabul) — Four Taliban fighters who launched a gun and grenade attack in an upscale district of central Kabul have been killed. No civilians or members of the security forces were killed in the battle. The Taliban said the target of the attack was a hotel owned by the son of Afghanistan's former President. The terrorists singled out the Heetal Plaza Hotel because "foreign invaders" were staying there, the Taliban said in a statement. It's the latest in a long series of Taliban attacks targeting foreigners in Afghanistan. (CNN, May 26, 2015)
MOROCCAN AUTHORITIES TAKE DOWN ISRAELI JUDO TEAM (Rabat) — The Israeli judo team that traveled to the World Masters Judo Tournament, held in Rabat, Morocco, were nearly banned from entering the country, and competed before a hostile crowd. The Israeli team’s difficulties began even before they reached Rabat. When Shin Bet officials refused to provide security for the trip, the team went to Rabat with privately funded security guards — only to have their passports confiscated once they reached the airport in Morocco. The Israeli flag was absent from the venue where the event took place, and the Israeli team was also not mentioned on the tournament’s website. The spectators waved Palestinian flags, shouted “We’re going to kill you,” and booed each time a member of the Israeli team appeared. The Israeli team won no medals in the competition. (Times of Israel, May 25, 2015)
EGYPTIAN DONS ORTHODOX JEWISH GARB IN SEARCH OF CAIRO SYNAGOGUE (Cairo) — A journalist at Egyptian news site Dotmsr dressed up as an ultra-Orthodox Jew and walked the streets of Cairo asking locals for directions to a synagogue, and filmed it for a video uploaded to YouTube. Donning a black suit, hat, a fake beard and payot, the Egyptian man asked locals in Egyptian Arabic for directions to the “Jewish synagogue,” often eliciting shock from bystanders. “Are you Israeli?” an Egyptian man asks him, before walking away. At one point, the journalist tells a man on the street wrapped in a kaffiyeh that he is a Jew from Yemen, to which the Egyptian replies: “Great people.” Some estimates put the Egyptian Jewish community at about a dozen elderly people, mostly in Cairo and Alexandria. Watch the video here. (Algemeiner, May 22, 2015)
NEW POLISH PRESIDENT DENOUNCED HOLOCAUST APOLOGY (Warsaw) — Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski conceded defeat after having lost to his right-wing opponent Andrzej Duda of the Law and Justice party. Notably, Duda recently criticized Komorowski for apologizing over Poland's complicit role in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust, saying the apology was an "attempt to destroy Poland’s good name." While Polish Jews have generally enjoyed good conditions of late, with the outgoing government being seen as largely favorable towards Israel, the Jewish issue played a role in the presidential elections and it remains to be seen how Israeli-Polish relations may possibly be impacted. (Arutz Sheva, May 25, 2015)
VENICE POLICE SHUT DOWN MOSQUE EXHIBIT (Venice) —Authorities in Venice closed a working mosque in an ex-church that was Iceland’s contribution to the 56th Venice Biennale art fair on the grounds that it was being improperly used as a place of worship. Swiss-Icelandic artist Christoph Buechel’s exhibit inside a former Roman Catholic Church, creating the first mosque ever in the historic center of Venice, sparked controversy from the outset. Iceland chose the de-consecrated Church of Santa Maria della Misericordia for the exhibit titled “The Mosque” in Venice. The project envisioned a working mosque for the seven months of the Biennale, which opened May 8. Venice city officials withdrew authorization for the installation citing violation of the terms, including a ban on using the pavilion as a place of worship as well as security concerns. (Times of Israel, May 24, 2015)
AT RISK PALMYRA TREASURES INCLUDE VESTIGES OF JEWISH LIFE (Damascus) — Evidence of Palmyra's Jewish past during the Roman Empire, and possibly before, is among the archaeological gems at risk since the Islamic State’s takeover last week. Western archaeologists who visited the desert city in the 19th and 20th century discovered Hebrew verses etched into the door frame of a house. The Hebrew verses found in central Palmyra, northeast of its main colonnaded street, were the four opening lines of the Shema, one of Judaism's basic prayers, and verses from the book of Deuteronomy. On the sides of the doorway were two other inscriptions in Hebrew script believed taken from Deuteronomy as well. Syria's antiquities chief said on Tuesday that the historic city had been unharmed since insurgents seized it last week. (I24, May 26, 2015 & Arutz Sheva, May 27, 2015)
On Topic Links
Obama, Anti-Semitism and Iran: Walter Russell Mead, American Interest, May 25, 2015 —In a long and searching interview with President Obama that appeared in the Atlantic over the weekend, Jeffrey Goldberg asked President Obama whether the virulent and frequently expressed Jew hatred that senior Iranian officials spew had him concerned.
‘Defending the Faith’ in the Middle East: David Motadel, New York Times, May 23, 2015—THE last several months have brought a dramatic escalation in conflict across the Middle East, almost all of it involving tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims — which are in turn fueled by a power struggle between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia for regional supremacy.
The Rational Ayatollah Hypothesis: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, May 25, 2015— Can there be a rational, negotiable, relatively reasonable bigot? Barack Obama thinks so.
You Want Hypotheticals? Here’s One.: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, May 21, 2015 — Ramadi falls. The Iraqi army flees. The great 60-nation anti-Islamic State coalition so grandly proclaimed by the Obama administration is nowhere to be seen.
Islamic State Eyes Damascus: Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom, May 25, 2015 — One year after seizing vast areas of Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State group has once again reared its head.
As the Mideast Burns, Obama Talks About the Weather: Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Post, May 25, 2015— It’s commencement season, a time when the great and the good come to campus to encourage the graduates to strive not only for greatness but for goodness, too.
‘Look … It’s My Name on This’: Obama Defends the Iran Nuclear Deal: Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, May 21, 2015
How Islamic State’s Win in Ramadi Reveals New Weapons, Tactical Sophistication and Prowess: Margaret Coker, Wall Street Journal, May 25, 2015
Can the Islamic State Survive?: Ross Douthat, New York Times, May 23, 2015
The Last Battle?: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, May 8, 2015
THE RATIONAL AYATOLLAH HYPOTHESIS
Wall Street Journal, May 25, 2015
Can there be a rational, negotiable, relatively reasonable bigot? Barack Obama thinks so. So we learn from the president’s interview last week with the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg—the same interview in which Mr. Obama called Islamic State’s capture of Ramadi a “tactical setback.” Mr. Goldberg asked the president to reconcile his view of an Iranian regime steeped in “venomous anti-Semitism” with his claims that the same regime “is practical, and is responsive to incentive, and shows signs of rationality.”
The president didn’t miss a beat. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s strategic objectives, he said, were not dictated by prejudice alone. Sure, the Iranians could make irrational decisions “with respect to trying to use anti-Semitic rhetoric as an organizing tool.” They might also pursue hate-based policies “where the costs are low.” But the regime has larger goals: “maintaining power, having some semblance of legitimacy inside their country,” and getting “out of the deep economic rut that we’ve put them in.” Also, Mr. Obama reminded Mr. Goldberg, “there were deep strains of anti-Semitism in this country,” to say nothing of Europe. If the president can forgive us our trespasses, he can forgive the ayatollah’s, too.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that a man with an undergraduate’s enthusiasm for moral equivalency (Islamic State now, the Crusades and Inquisition then) would have sophomoric ideas about the nature and history of anti-Semitism. So let’s recall some basic facts. Iran has no border, and no territorial dispute, with Israel. The two countries have a common enemy in Islamic State and other radical Sunni groups. Historically and religiously, Jews have always felt a special debt to Persia. Tehran and Jerusalem were de facto allies until 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini came to power and 100,000 Jews still lived in Iran. Today, no more than 10,000 Jews are left.
So on the basis of what self-interest does Iran arm and subsidize Hamas, probably devoting more than $1 billion of (scarce) dollars to the effort? What’s the economic rationale for hosting conferences of Holocaust deniers in Tehran, thereby gratuitously damaging ties to otherwise eager economic partners such as Germany and France? What was the political logic to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s calls to wipe Israel off the map, which made it so much easier for the U.S. and Europe to impose sanctions? How does the regime shore up its domestic legitimacy by preaching a state ideology that makes the country a global pariah?
Maybe all this behavior serves Tehran’s instrumental purposes by putting the regime at the vanguard of a united Shiite-Sunni “resistance” to Western imperialism and Zionism. If so, it hasn’t worked out too well, as the rise of Islamic State shows. The likelier explanation is that the regime believes what it says, practices what it preaches, and is willing to pay a steep price for doing so.
So it goes with hating Jews. There are casual bigots who may think of Jews as greedy or uncouth, but otherwise aren’t obsessed by their prejudices. But the Jew-hatred of the Iranian regime is of the cosmic variety: Jews, or Zionists, as the agents of everything that is wrong in this world, from poverty and drug addiction to conflict and genocide. If Zionism is the root of evil, then anti-Zionism is the greatest good—a cause to which one might be prepared to sacrifice a great deal, up to and including one’s own life.
This was one of the lessons of the Holocaust, which the Nazis carried out even at the expense of the overall war effort. In 1944, with Russia advancing on a broad front and the Allies landing in Normandy, Adolf Eichmann pulled out all stops to deport more than 400,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz in just two months. The Nazis didn’t even bother to make slaves of most of their prisoners to feed their war machine. Annihilation of the Jews was the higher goal.
Modern Iran is not Nazi Germany, or so Iran’s apologists like to remind us. Then again, how different is the thinking of an Eichmann from that of a Khamenei, who in 2012 told a Friday prayer meeting that Israel was a “cancerous tumor that should be cut and will be cut”? Whether the Ayatollah Khamenei gets to act on his wishes, as Eichmann did, is another question. Mr. Obama thinks he won’t, because the ayatollah only pursues his Jew-hating hobby “at the margins,” as he told Mr. Goldberg, where it isn’t at the expense of his “self-interest.” Does it occur to Mr. Obama that Mr. Khamenei might operate according to a different set of principles than political or economic self-interest? What if Mr. Khamenei believes that some things in life are, in fact, worth fighting for, the elimination of Zionism above all?
In November 2013 the president said at a fundraising event that he was “not a particularly ideological person.” Maybe Mr. Obama doesn’t understand the compelling power of ideology. Or maybe he doesn’t know himself. Either way, the tissue of assumptions on which his Iran diplomacy rests looks thinner all the time.
YOU WANT HYPOTHETICALS? HERE’S ONE.
Washington Post, May 21, 2015
Ramadi falls. The Iraqi army flees. The great 60-nation anti-Islamic State coalition so grandly proclaimed by the Obama administration is nowhere to be seen. Instead, it’s the defense minister of Iran who flies into Baghdad, an unsubtle demonstration of who’s in charge — while the U.S. air campaign proves futile and America’s alleged strategy for combating the Islamic State is in freefall. It gets worse. The Gulf states’ top leaders, betrayed and bitter, ostentatiously boycott President Obama’s failed Camp David summit. “We were America’s best friend in the Arab world for 50 years,” laments Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief. Note: “were,” not “are.”
We are scraping bottom. Following six years of President Obama’s steady and determined withdrawal from the Middle East, America’s standing in the region has collapsed. And yet the question incessantly asked of the various presidential candidates is not about that. It’s a retrospective hypothetical: Would you have invaded Iraq in 2003 if you had known then what we know now?
First, the question is not just a hypothetical but an inherently impossible hypothetical. It contradicts itself. Had we known there were no weapons of mass destruction, the very question would not have arisen. The premise of the war — the basis for going to the U.N., to the Congress and, indeed, to the nation — was Iraq’s possession of WMD in violation of the central condition for the cease-fire that ended the 1991 Gulf War. No WMD, no hypothetical to answer in the first place.
Second, the “if you knew then” question implicitly locates the origin and cause of the current disasters in 2003 . As if the fall of Ramadi was predetermined then, as if the author of the current regional collapse is George W. Bush. This is nonsense. The fact is that by the end of Bush’s tenure the war had been won. You can argue that the price of that victory was too high. Fine. We can debate that until the end of time. But what is not debatable is that it was a victory. Bush bequeathed to Obama a success. By whose measure? By Obama’s. As he told the troops at Fort Bragg on Dec. 14, 2011, “We are leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.” This was, said the president, a “moment of success.”
Which Obama proceeded to fully squander. With the 2012 election approaching, he chose to liquidate our military presence in Iraq. We didn’t just withdraw our forces. We abandoned, destroyed or turned over our equipment, stores, installations and bases. We surrendered our most valuable strategic assets, such as control of Iraqi airspace, soon to become the indispensable conduit for Iran to supply and sustain the Assad regime in Syria and cement its influence all the way to the Mediterranean. And, most relevant to the fall of Ramadi, we abandoned the vast intelligence network we had so painstakingly constructed in Anbar province, without which our current patchwork operations there are largely blind and correspondingly feeble.
The current collapse was not predetermined in 2003 but in 2011. Isn’t that what should be asked of Hillary Clinton? We know you think the invasion of 2003 was a mistake. But what about the abandonment of 2011? Was that not a mistake? Mme. Secretary: When you arrived at State, al-Qaeda in Iraq had been crushed and expelled from Anbar. The Iraqi government had from Basra to Sadr City fought and defeated the radical, Iranian-proxy Shiite militias. Yet today these militias are back, once again dominating Baghdad. On your watch, we gave up our position as the dominant influence over a “sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq” — forfeiting that position gratuitously to Iran. Was that not a mistake? And where were you when it was made?
Iraq is now a battlefield between the Sunni jihadists of the Islamic State and the Shiite jihadists of Iran’s Islamic Republic. There is no viable center. We abandoned it. The Obama administration’s unilateral pullout created a vacuum for the entry of the worst of the worst. And the damage was self-inflicted. The current situation in Iraq, says David Petraeus, “is tragic foremost because it didn’t have to turn out this way. The hard-earned progress of the surge was sustained for over three years.” Do the math. That’s 2009 through 2011, the first three Obama years. And then came the unraveling. When? The last U.S. troops left Iraq on Dec. 18, 2011. Want to do retrospective hypotheticals? Start there.
ISLAMIC STATE EYES DAMASCUS
Israel Hayom, May 25, 2015
One year after seizing vast areas of Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State group has once again reared its head. As it turns out, while Washington was busy eulogizing the organization and spreading rumors about the death of its leader, Islamic State was gearing up for the next round of fighting. Last week, Islamic State dealt a one-two punch to the Syrian and Iraqi regimes by seizing the Iraqi city of Ramadi, 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of the capital of Baghdad, and the Syria city of Palmyra, 200 kilometers (124 miles) northeast of Damascus. It seems the Obama administration, which was convinced Islamic State was retreating and perhaps even on the brink of collapse, was the only one to be surprised by the group's success.
Islamic State's progress is resounding proof of the failure of the American strategy, which seeks to deal with the threat via airstrikes and covert commando raids. Moreover, the group's success is also resounding proof of how detached Washington is from the reality on the ground. The problem is that in their quest to get a better grasp of the situation, the Americans have decided to adopt the Iranian point of view, placing their trust in Tehran, and therefore in Hezbollah, to indirectly assist them in curtailing Islamic State's progress in Syria and Iraq.
The advances Islamic State has made in Iraq are disturbing, but it is doubtful the group is seeking to overrun Baghdad and the Shiite areas in southern Iraq, whose government, as everyone knows, has become defunct and no longer presumes to represent the Iraqi people. Essentially, all that is left of sovereign Iraq is the Shiite people, who enjoy the backing of the U.S. and the assistance of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. They have come together to fight Islamic State over the Shiite territories in southern Iraq, but have neither the interest nor the ability to defend northern Iraq from the jihadi group.
As opposed to the complicated situation in Iraq, Islamic State fighters view the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria as easy prey. In overrunning Palmyra, Islamic State dealt a blow to Assad, whose regime is barely holding on as it is. Assad has virtually no military forces fighting for him in the hundreds of battlegrounds across Syria. What is left of the Syrian army is a group of exhausted soldiers who are outnumbered and unmotivated, and Assad can do little to assist them.
While Assad, assisted by several thousand Hezbollah operatives, is fighting a rearguard battle at the Qalamoun Mountains on the Syria-Lebanon border, Islamic State has been able to seize some 100,000 square kilometers (38,600 square miles) of Syria, and although most of this area is uninhabited, it still represent two-thirds of the country. Control of Palmyra affords Islamic State a springboard to the heart of Syria, toward Damascus in the south and Homs, which connects the northern and southern parts of Syria, in the east.
Assad's problems, however, go beyond Islamic State, as he must also contend with the Nusra Front, which is collaborating with several rebel groups backed by Jordan, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Unlike before, the rebel groups have joined forces and are threatening the Assad regime from the south, near the city of Daraa and on the Syrian Golan Heights, and from the north, where they have already taken the cities of Idlib and Jisr al-Shughur. These groups are now threatening Aleppo, the second-largest city in Syria, as well as the regime's strongholds on the Alawi coast.
In this reality, the assistance Hezbollah lends the Assad regime is a drop in the bucket. It would take a miracle to save the regime, and despite Washington's illusions, Islamic State may soon become one of the entities filling the vacuum in Syria. This will pose a problem for Israel as well.
AS THE MIDEAST BURNS, OBAMA TALKS ABOUT THE WEATHER
Father Raymond J. de Souza
It’s commencement season, a time when the great and the good come to campus to encourage the graduates to strive not only for greatness but for goodness, too. Commencement speeches are meant to celebrate the graduates, but with carte blanche to say something important, they reveal rather a lot about the speakers, as well. Recent addresses have brought inspiration at home and foreboding abroad.
Ten days ago I was at the Royal Military College graduation, where the commencement speaker was the commander-in-chief, Governor General David Johnston. The day after sexual abuse in the military was the lead story in the news, he spoke eloquently about how the graduates need to have a solid moral code and how the military depends upon them for force of arms and integrity of life.
I wish I had been at the Mount Allison graduation to hear Kevin Vickers speak to the graduates about the events that took place on Oct. 22, when as sergeant-at-arms he defended Parliament against a terror attack. The mace-bearer brought force of arms to bear on the shooter, but never lost sight that the man he took down was just that, a man, with an eternal soul. Vickers, having exercised his duty to dispatch Michael Zehaf-Bibeau to his judgment, prayed that it might be a merciful one.
U.S. President Barack Obama spoke at the graduation of the Coast Guard Academy last Wednesday. He listed the various vital tasks the smallest of America’s military academies prepares its graduates for — safeguarding ports against terrorism, disaster relief, interdiction of smugglers, whether trafficking in people or drugs. The Coast Guard is deployed globally, including in the Persian Gulf alongside the Navy, in West Africa to fight Ebola and in the Pacific to preserve freedom of navigation along key trading routes. But that is not what the American commander-in-chief thought most pressing.
“And this brings me to the challenge I want to focus on today — one where our Coast Guardsmen are already on the front lines, and that, perhaps more than any other, will shape your entire careers — and that’s the urgent need to combat and adapt to climate change. As a nation, we face many challenges, including the grave threat of terrorism. And as Americans, we will always do everything in our power to protect our country. Yet even as we meet threats like terrorism, we cannot, and we must not, ignore a peril that can affect generations.”
It turns out that on the very same day, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was also on service academy commencement duty, addressing the graduates at Imam Hussein Military University in Tehran. According to the New York Times, the ayatollah did not get around to climate change, but did have some pithy words about the nuclear negotiations with America: “Regarding inspections, we have said that we will not let foreigners inspect any military centre.” For good measure, he also had a pointed warning for Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies not to make trouble for Iran, lest they suffer the consequences. Scimitar-rattling by a regional hegemon on the threshold of nuclear capability is even a less sunny graduation address than apocalyptic climate change.
It was a perfect, almost painful, juxtaposition. Obama spoke of how “confronting climate change is now a key pillar of American global leadership — a core element of our diplomacy.” The defiance in Teheran paints a rather different picture. American leadership looks rather less impressive in Teheran’s part of the globe. The Obama administration has been begging the Iranians for a nuclear deal for years. The Iranians have not yet decided the terms on which they will grant Obama his wish, though Khamenei’s speech indicates that it will include the capacity to violate any such agreement with impunity.
If climate change is a new core element of American diplomacy, it may be because the traditional priorities of diplomacy are not faring as well. Watching Obama’s humiliation in Syria, reversals in Iraq and capitulation to Iran, American allies in the Gulf are highly nervous. A few weeks back, Obama sought to reassure them with invitations to a Camp David summit. Three of the five heads of state took a pass on meeting the president, including the new Saudi king. The king of Bahrain opted instead to attend the Royal Windsor Horse Show with Queen Elizabeth. The petro-monarchies have more pressing concerns than climate change.
Commencement addresses are often forgotten by the graduates to whom they are delivered. Perhaps it was so last week, though one expects the malevolent powers around the world took careful note that as Ramadi fell to ISIS, and Iran sets a course for nuclear weapons, Obama spoke about the weather.
‘Look … It’s My Name on This’: Obama Defends the Iran Nuclear Deal: Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, May 21, 2015—On Tuesday afternoon, as President Obama was bringing an occasionally contentious but often illuminating hour-long conversation about the Middle East to an end, I brought up a persistent worry.
How Islamic State’s Win in Ramadi Reveals New Weapons, Tactical Sophistication and Prowess: Margaret Coker, Wall Street Journal, May 25, 2015—In late April, a commander for Islamic State said his forces were ready to launch an offensive to take Ramadi, and the group called for fighters to redeploy to Iraq from Syria.
Can the Islamic State Survive?: Ross Douthat, New York Times, May 23, 2015—The fall of an autocrat leads to foreign occupation and civil war. A revolutionary movement with a messianic vision capitalizes on the chaos to gain power.
The Last Battle?: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, May 8, 2015 —The Kalamon mountains range from Mount Hermon northwards for tens of kilometers, overlooking the Lebanon Valley to the west. The official boundary between Lebanon and Syria runs along the crest of the mountain range, with the western slopes of the mountains part of Lebanon and the eastern slopes part of Syria. The Beirut-Damascus highway serves as the northern edge.
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs staged a highly successful event at the 5th Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem between 12-14 May.
Delegates from around the world gathered to hear an impressive array of speakers, led by Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The conference was intense. Even the lunches during the three days became platforms for keynote speakers including Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Confederation of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization, Robert Wistrich, Jerusalem mayor, Nir Barkat, and US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro.
The third day was taken up with numerous working groups each delegated to address specific aspects of global anti-Semitism and come up with solutions and action plans to counter this ongoing plague.
I joined the group discussing Anti-Semitism in the Guise of Delegitimization and Anti-Zionism, which was chaired by Mitchell Bard and Dr. Pascal Markowicz.
We were presented by a screen listing the many challenges and questions faced by everyone affected by anti-Israel activism that morphs into expressions of Jew-hatred and Israel denial.
It was clear, hearing the problems faced by students of campus to the problems that heads of Jewish communities are increasing dealing with, that anti-Semitism posing as anti-Zionism is rampant worldwide.
Participants from North and South America, Europe including the UK, South Africa and Australia, told of the challenges they are trying to counter in their countries.
True to the title of our session, it became apparent that, although we discussed in depth the difficulties that Jews abroad and Israel in general have been suffering from in recent times, the big black cloud that shadows all our concerns is the anti-Semitism linked to all aspects of the Palestinian cause.
As described in my book ‘Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism,’ its fertile roots are deeply embedded in Gaza and Ramallah. Here is the spearhead of a wider Arab malevolence against Jews rooted in their faith and political systems.
As the title of our working group suggests, this strain of anti-Semitism radiates from the Middle East into Western societies, fanned by far left agitators, racial professors, lecturers and other voices who call and act for the delegitimization of Israel and an end to anti-Zionism.
The excuse that “we don’t hate Jews, we only hate Israelis” won’t wash anymore. We in the know are now on the case, exposing the fraud of this lie, a lie that has replaced the older canard of “I can’t be an anti-Semite, some of my best friends are Jewish.”
The evidence is clear and is now being documented. It’s time the name and shame the perpetrators, and call it for what it is.
Anti-Semitism is an international crime. However, despite the efforts of major European Jewish organizations, the EU has been dodging the issue of coming up with a definition of what is Anti-Semitism. We were witness to statements made at the Jerusalem conference by European representatives of an attempt of lumping any resolution or definition of anti-Semitism with other issues such as Islamophobia into a broader mix of “hate crimes.” We need to make the case that we deserve, especially in Europe, a specific attention to our individual and collective predicament.
One important outcome of the event was a wall-to-wall affirmation that only Jews have the right to define what is, or isn’t, anti-Semitism. As one person at the conference said, just as most Americans accept that African Americans are the ones to recognize anti-black racism, it is the Jews, and not the goyim who instinctively know, from generations of bitter experience in every culture, what is anti-Semitism.
If anti-Semitism is evil, and if the world desperately desires peace between Israel and the Palestinians, it is legitimate to demand that the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League stop supporting the development of a national movement that has the words “Oh Muslim, there’s a Jew hiding behind me! Come out and kill him” as the cornerstone of their founding charter as does Palestinian Hamas.
It is this, together with their declared admission that the Palestinian cause is an Islamic movement of jihad in the name of Allah, that must give every reasoning mind, let alone the political representatives of Western liberal democracies, pause.
How is it possible that they invest hundreds of millions of dollars and euros in the advancement of a Palestine that will, inevitably, be a Jew-hating, Jew-denying entity?
How can there be any doubt of this when the Hamas hatred and the Jewish state denial of the Palestinian Authority spills over into the manifestos and charters of the PLO (adopted by the Palestinian Authority) and the constitutional document of the Fatah Party?
The aims and objectives of the Palestinian cause are blatantly defined. They are consolidated by the statements of Mahmoud Abbas, he of the Holocaust denial doctorate, who denies three thousand years of Jewish heritage and existence, rejects the Jewish state and the existence of Israel as the national home of the Jewish people as legitimated in the international treaties of the League of Nations and further enshrined in Article 80 of the United Nations Charter. In further anti-Semitic references, Abbas has declared that Palestine will be Jew-free and that any Arab selling land to a Jew will be executed.
This is part of the Palestinian anti-Semitism that denies and delegitimizes Israel.
A question that usually leaves European diplomats with a blank look in their eyes is what sort of Palestine they are trying so hard to create. Some mutter that they are working to develop institutes necessary to achieve a democratic Palestine living in peace with Israel. But they are stumped when asked what responsibility they take if Israel surrenders essential territory according to their demands and political pressure that results not in peaceful Palestine but a radical Hamastan?
According to all Palestinian polls and elections, Hamas consistently gains the support of between 64-78% of Palestinian society. That’s a majority every time. The latest evidence that Palestine will be Hamastan was the student elections at Bir Zeit University in April where Hamas won 26 seats compared to Fatah’s 19. It must be pointed out that Bir Zeit is not in the Gaza Strip but seven kilometers north of Ramallah within easy reach of Palestinian Authority headquarters, and only 20 kilometers from Jerusalem. So a Hamas controlled Palestine is not a guess. It’s a certainty.
This makes the US Administration and European urging for the establishment of a Jew-hating, jihadi state standing on territory belonging to a liberal democracy, highly disturbing.
What is equally disturbing is the apparition of the fevered efforts of hundreds of dubious NGOs, supported politically, morally and financially by most European governments. Some have politicians who are being exposed for their dislike of Jews.
Those of us active in defense of Israel against the demonization and delegitimization campaigns that use thousands of eager young European volunteers regularly witness their Palestinian lovefest comes with an equal, if not more passionate, Israeli hatefest which leaves us wondering if Jew-hatred is not at the heart of it.
Therefore, we are entitled to ask why they adopt this aspect of Palestinian concern yet ignore the abuse of Palestinian rights at the hands of both Palestinian leaderships in Ramallah and Gaza. They also do or say nothing about Palestinians that are suffering in Arab lands. Their exaggeration of anti-Israel claims and insults is out of proportion to other world crisis points that apparently do not concern them. This obsessive behavior that targets the Jewish state points to anti-Semitism. In fact, colleagues can attest to fairly regular outbursts of anti-Jewish utterances from these NGO volunteers.
And so we see the spread and growth of anti-Semitism in the guise of delegitimization and anti-Zionism. Once, and for a period far too long, they claimed victory with a slogan of “Zionism is Racism” which won favor in the United Nations for sixteen years until, after a prolonged struggle, it was struck down in 1991. It was struck down, but didn’t die. It is still alive and killing.
It is the anti-Zionists who are the racists. It is the Israel deniers who are the discriminators.
It is essential to define anti-Semitism to include the denial of Jewish rights to freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and the denial of Jewish rights to self-determination as enshrined in internationally binding documents.
The delegitimization of Israel and the attempt to deprive the Jews, and only the Jewish people, of the right to self-determination and nationhood is anti-Semitism.
(These are the personal reflections of the author and not the official positions of the working group or the Israeli government.)
Barry Shaw is the consultant on delegitimization issues to the Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College and the author of ‘Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism.’ https://www.createspace.com/5333306 ,or in Kindle format on Amazon.com
Professor Robert Wistrich was the leading historian of anti-Semitism, and published important books in other fields of history as well. The combination of his intellectual depth and prolific authorship reflected his being an expert in many aspects of the anti-Semitism field. His presence was most important in an area where the number of scholars has unfortunately not caught up with the recent explosion of hatred and its mutations, from despising the Jewish religion and the Jewish people to the defamation of the Jewish State.
Robert was a spokesman and a representative of the Jewish people, roles to which he stayed fully committed. The many projects he led included a joint exhibition of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and UNESCO on “Book, People, Land – The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People With the Holy Land.”
A very different matter was his membership of the International Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission – established in 1999 – which reassessed Pope Pius XII’s role in the Second World War. Robert did not let his integrity become affected by pressure from Church sources, which eventually contributed to the premature suspension of the Commission’s work.
When one writes the obituary of such an outstanding intellectual, his biography and many human qualities show some aspects of his personality, and others can be seen by focusing on some of his great analytical work.
Decades ago, I read a publication of the World Union of Jewish Students. Among the many articles written by the student authors was one which stood out by far above the rest. That was how I came across Robert’s name for the first time.
Anti-Semitism studies became a field of research thanks to the French scholar, Léon Poliakov (1910-1997), who wrote much of the fundamental works in the field. However, it required the development of a high-level institute to cover the field in greater scope, and Robert was instrumental in this endeavor. He held the Neuberger chair for Modern European and Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. When Robert took over as head of the university’s Vidal Sassoon International Center in 2002, he transformed it into a place which published a broad array of anti-Semitism scholarship, covering many countries and subjects.
Robert was not only a very skillful writer but also a sophisticated speaker. Born of Polish Jewish parents in the Soviet Union, English was not his mother tongue, but one among the languages he mastered. This and his encyclopedic knowledge allowed him to gain deep insight into various cultures.
It is impossible to review all of Robert’s works unless one writes a lengthy essay – so I will focus on some of his more recent publications. His magnum opus, A Lethal Obsession, subtitled Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad, came out in 2010. Its individual chapters can be read as self-standing essays.
In this book, Robert devoted an entire chapter to “Jews against Zion”. He covered the history of Jewish self-haters, beginning with the apostates in Christian Spain after the massacres of the Jews in 1391. He referred to a statement already quoted by the turn of the 19th century Viennese playwright, Arthur Schnitzler: “Anti-Semitism did not succeed until the Jews began to sponsor it.” Extreme masochistic trends, including psychological self-flagellation, which regularly occur among Jews, probably exceed those among other cultures. Robert’s analysis, for example, of the post-war Austrian Jewish chancellor, Bruno Kreisky, a socialist whitewasher of former Nazis, was lethal.
Many scholars look away from the widespread anti-Semitism emanating from Muslim states and from parts of the Muslim population in Western countries. Despite the backlash, Robert remained outspoken when his post-9/11 essay on Muslim anti-Semitism, originally published in English, was updated and republished in German in 2011. Therein, Robert claimed that the hardcore anti-Semitism in the Arab and Muslim world is comparable only to that of Nazi Germany. Expressing such an opinion was far more than an academic judgment. It was an act of courage. Much more gentle criticism about extreme ugly phenomena in Muslim societies was already being labeled as Islamophobia. Such criticism is constantly stifled not only by Muslims but also by many “politically correct” Westerners. Robert explicitly stated that Muslim hatred for Israel and Jews is “an eliminatory anti-Semitism with a genocidal dimension”.
From Ambivalence to Betrayal: The Left, the Jews, and Israel came out in 2012. The book includes the chapter, “Great Britain: A Suitable Case for Treatment?” Robert had studied in the UK, where the British literary classics on the school’s curriculum were almost all anti-Semitic in nature. Robert’s analysis started with Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales from the late 14th century and Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta from the end of the 16th Century. He came out unequivocally against the whitewashing of the anti-Semitism of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.
Probably more so than anyone else, Robert has proven that anti-Semitism is not only inherent in European history but that it is an integral part of European culture. I once persuaded him to lecture at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs about the long tradition of intellectual anti-Semitism. He illustrated how each change in the social environment brings about a mutation of anti-Semitism. In Europe, Catholic anti-Semitism laid down the ideological infrastructure from which much of the demonizing of the Jews, Judaism and the Jewish people developed. From Martin Luther and Protestantism to the Enlightenment, including Voltaire, from the great German idealist philosophers, the early French socialists, to Karl Marx – many intellectuals and innovative movements gave their own “contribution” to anti-Semitism.
Robert was a passionate and tireless fighter for his ideas. A comrade-in-arms against the many ugly enemies of the Jewish people, and a man of principle, I had the privilege of last speaking with him – a lengthy, and as always, stimulating and pleasant conversation – during the recent Global Forum for Combatting Anti-Semitism, a few days before his passing. His sense of purpose remained unabated until the very end. Like all great intellectuals, he will live on through the legacy of his profound work and original thought.
The Rage Of The New York Times: Andrea Levin, Andrea Levin, Apr. 8, 2015 — A three-story billboard opposite the newsroom of The New York Times sponsored by CAMERA currently reads “The New York Times Against Israel: All Rant, All Slant, All the Time. Stop the Bias!”
J’Accuse: Globe and Mail Delegitimizes Israel’s Claim to Jerusalem: Mike Fegelman, Times of Israel, Apr. 24, 2015— Despite the Jewish people’s continuous and unbroken physical presence in the land of Israel for over 3 millennia, Jews are routinely presented as foreign occupiers of their own ancestral and biblical homeland.
The Jewish Connection to Lampedusa: Josephine Bacon, Algemeiner, May 11, 2015 — Lampedusa, a tiny island off the coast of Sicily, has been in the news in Europe lately. This is where the boats land that are packed with illegal immigrants from Africa, who often board in Libya.
Love is What Links Us to God: Jonathan Sacks, Algemeiner, May 21, 2015— One of the most amusing scenes in Anglo-Jewish history occurred on 14 October 1663.
The Latest "Breaking the Silence" Report Isn't Journalism. It's Propaganda.: Matti Friedman, Mosaic, May 14, 2015
CBC Provides New Definition for Balanced Reporting: Diane Weber Bederman, Canada Free Press, May 18, 2015
BBC Conveniently Fails to Report on Rocket Attack From Gaza Strip: Hadar Sela, Algemeiner, Apr. 27, 2015
In Idiotic Editorial, New York Times Prioritizes Iranian Pride and Jobs Over Israeli Concerns: Elder of Ziyon, Algemeiner, Apr. 8, 2015
THE RAGE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES
Jewish Press, Apr. 8, 2015
A three-story billboard opposite the newsroom of The New York Times sponsored by CAMERA currently reads “The New York Times Against Israel: All Rant, All Slant, All the Time. Stop the Bias!” The same message and others dot billboards on expressways in and out of the city as well as avenues in Manhattan, including approaches to tunnels traversed daily by tens of thousands of commuters. Across the metropolitan area, millions of people are reading the messages of the billboards.
The messages are not an overstatement. The unhinged fury of The New York Times over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his reelection by the people of Israel is only the latest event that points powerfully to underlying attitudes that permeate the publication’s acrimonious obsession with the Jewish state. The editorial tirade against Netanyahu on the occasion of his victory – calling him “craven” and “racist,” a builder of expansive settlements and a duplicitous obstacle to peace – underscores the extreme and factually distorted sentiment about not only the Israeli prime minister but the nation of Israel, sentiment that pervades all too much of the news coverage as well as the opinion pages.
The Times presents Israel continuously as the cause of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the only real actor on the stage. Palestinians and their leadership are foils and backdrop, victims with little or no political or moral responsibility for their own actions. Their own culture, faults, corruption, and human rights issues are almost entirely invisible. They are primarily rung in to denounce Israel in one guise or another. A sampling of reports before and after the vote gives a taste of the bias.
The Times’s indictment of Israel often centers on settlements as the greatest impediment to ending the conflict – despite Palestinian rejection of peace offers entailing Israeli concessions on the issue and despite Israel’s unilateral removal of all settlements from Gaza, a move that, of course, did not reduce tensions there. Thus, among the news stories prior to the election that seemingly aimed to tar the incumbent prime minister was a striking 3,000-plus word, front-page, above-the-fold article on Jewish settlements that appeared on March 13, four days before the election. The piece, by Jodi Rudoren and Jeremy Ashkenas, included an entire two-page spread on inside pages with an enormous photo and aerial images of individual settlements expanding – it was implied – cancer-like over decades. The online version was titled: “Netanyahu and the Settlements.”…
Three times in the first three paragraphs readers were told settlements would impede a “future state” for Palestinians, “threaten prospects of a two-state solution” and complicate “creation of a viable Palestine.” Repeatedly the story came back to this – that Netanyahu’s settlement policies “deepened the dilemma for peacemakers.” Martin Indyk was quoted harshly charging that in the failed 2014 peace negotiations, “Mr. Netanyahu’s ‘rampant settlement activity’ had a ‘dramatically damaging impact.’” (Unmentioned was the fact that Indyk was outed six months ago in the Times itself as a recipient of $14.8 million in Qatari funding to the Brookings Institute where he’s executive vice president. Qatar supports Hamas and al Jazeera and is the largest funder of Brookings.)
There was not a word in the story to convey that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and before him Yasir Arafat, rejected Israeli peace offers that would have curtailed settlement expansion and removed some outlying settlements. Other basic counterpoints to the story line were also simply omitted. For example, no hint was given that there might not be any impediment to a future Palestinian state if the Palestinians did not insist that their state be Judenrein but rather were open to including Jews and their communities the way Israel includes one and a half million Arabs – over 20 percent of its population.
Pro forma references to international “ire” regarding Jewish settlements were cited but there was no exploration of the contending positions. In 3,000 words there was no mention of any of the core legal issues. There are obviously differing views about the political advisability and future of settlement development, but there are also basic facts that can aid in understanding the merit of each side. For example, as literally hundreds of international jurists have attested, the right of Jews to live in these areas was clearly established by the original League of Nations Mandate for Palestine (1922), which called for “close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands” of the Mandate. This Jewish right was reaffirmed by Article 80 of the United Nations charter, which preserved the application of the League of Nations Mandate’s stipulations.
The contending argument is that Israeli settlements violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relating to the transfer of populations. Israel disputes the relevance here, arguing the Convention is not applicable because there is no forcible transfer; Jews have moved voluntarily to the disputed areas to establish communities. In a few sentences, the Times could have added to reader awareness about the differing views on this contentious subject. But the thrust of this story was to tar Netanyahu as a settlement zealot, an effort that’s actually made difficult when even the Times’s own charts show the prime minister doing about the same – or sometimes less – than previous Israeli leaders in housing starts in settlements.
In a nod to the obvious reality that statistics regarding settlement building don’t set Netanyahu notably apart from his fellow prime ministers, especially during his second administration, the reporters inject other negative innuendo, charging: “He has taken more heat over settlements than his predecessors, analysts said, in part because of his broader intransigence on the Palestinian issue and the use of construction as a retaliatory tool.” Which “analysts” are leveling these charges? What is their expertise on the topic? What exactly was the “broader intransigence on the Palestinian issue”? What and when was the “use of construction as a retaliatory tool?”…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
J’ACCUSE: GLOBE AND MAIL DELEGITIMIZES
ISRAEL’S CLAIM TO JERUSALEM
Times of Israel, Apr. 24, 2015
Despite the Jewish people’s continuous and unbroken physical presence in the land of Israel for over 3 millennia, Jews are routinely presented as foreign occupiers of their own ancestral and biblical homeland.
The Jewish people’s un-renounced legal and religious claims to their historic and national homeland – a claim recognized by the international community and enshrined in legal instruments by the pre-UN League of Nations and Article 80 of the UN Charter – is routinely met with antipathy by Canada’s journalists and Israel’s detractors.
All too often, Canadian news outlets delegitimize the Jewish people’s historical connection to Jerusalem, Israel’s proclaimed capital. A land Jews have lived in for 3,000 years and the site of ancient Jewish temples. It was only during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 (an unprovoked pan-Arab attack to destroy the nascent State of Israel) that Jordan captured and occupied the city until 1967, when Israel reunified and retook the eastern portion of Jerusalem. In the 19 years of forced exile, Jewish holy sites and homes were burned and destroyed, and Jews themselves were ethnically cleansed from Jerusalem. Upon liberation, the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem was rebuilt and Jewish life and reverence in Jerusalem resumed and continues to present day.
Israel’s Basic Law of July 30, 1980, declares “Jerusalem, complete and unified, is the capital of Israel. Jerusalem is the seat of the President of the State, the Knesset, the Government, and the Supreme Court.” On December 5, 1949, the Israeli government declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Even though some countries, including Canada, don’t recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, and insist on the “corpus separatum” status of Jerusalem, most accept the validity of Israeli law. Considering the importance of the status of Jerusalem, our media must report accurately and with necessary context. Regrettably, the Globe and Mail, a national newspaper regarded as Canada’s “paper of record”, produced coverage that maligns Israel’s claim to Jerusalem.
In a commentary published by the Globe on March 7, international affairs columnist Doug Saunders erroneously stated the following: “In 1993, the Palestinians recognized Israel as a legitimate state for the first time. In turn, Israel was to recognize the Palestinians’ national ambitions and negotiate a border based on the 1967 lines, beyond which Israeli populations would not extend. Both parties would share Jerusalem and renounce violence. It was a solution based on mutual compromise, ratified in the Oslo accords of 1993 and 1995.” In making this statement, Saunders erroneously claimed there was agreement via Oslo that Israelis and Palestinians would “share Jerusalem”. Instead, the final status of Jerusalem is to be determined by negotiations between the parties. Oslo didn’t prejudice the outcome of Jerusalem and Israel never agreed to this.
Having communicated these concerns to Globe and Mail Public Editor Sylvia Stead on March 13, I received the following reply from Ms. Stead: In the 1993 Oslo agreement, Jerusalem was included in the ‘Final Status Items,’ which is to say that its division between Israel and Palestine, as mandated in the United Nations resolution which created Israel (181(II)). The understanding, during the negotiation and ratification of the Oslo agreements, was that this would lead Jerusalem to be divided between Israeli and Palestinian authorities. In fact, this was guaranteed in a letter sent in 1993 by Foreign Minister Shimon Perez, acting on the prime minister’s authorization, in which the Palestinians were informed that ‘all the Palestinian institutions of East Jerusalem, including the economic, social, educational and cultural, and the holy Christian and Muslim places, are performing an essential task for the Palestinian population… the fulfillment of this important mission is to be encouraged.’ In sum, Oslo ratified an agreement which included the division of Jerusalem as part of its mission.
Contrary to Ms. Stead’s contentions, the 1993 Declaration of Principles (the term “Oslo agreement” is a misnomer), Jerusalem was included in the “Final Status Items.” At the time, Prime Minister Rabin stated that “Jerusalem is the ancient and eternal capital of the Jewish people.” An undivided Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty, with religious freedom for all, is and remains a fundamental Israeli position. The Declaration did not contain any reference to UNGA 181, and the side letter from FM Shimon Peres means precisely what is written and nothing more. The claim that the DOP in any way committed Israel to shared sovereignty in Jerusalem is entirely and demonstrably false.
In consultation with Dr. Jacques Gauthier, a Canadian international human rights lawyer who is considered to be the foremost expert on the legal status on Jerusalem, Dr. Gauthier confirmed there’s no validity to the Globe’s argument that there was an agreement via Oslo that Israelis and Palestinians would “share Jerusalem”. In Dr. Gauthier’s 2007 thesis entitled “Sovereignty Over the Old City of Jerusalem: A Study of the Historical, Religious, Political and Legal Aspects of the Question of the Old City,” he states the following about the Oslo Accords:
For a period of eight months in 1993 secret negotiations were pursued by a group of specially appointed Israeli and Palestinian representatives. The Oslo Peace Accords were the products of these secret negotiations. The Oslo Accords postponed the discussion of the difficult Jerusalem issue until the completion of permanent-status negotiations. The question of Jerusalem was therefore for the first time included on the list of matters for negotiations between the parties. However, the underlying principles of the Oslo Accords comprised the concept of ‘land for peace’ based on the U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338 and the discontinuance of the occupation of Palestinian territories which was interpreted by the Palestinians as including all of East Jerusalem and the Old City. On September 13, 1993, the ‘Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements’ was signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization on behalf of the Palestinian People. These Agreements are often referred to as the ‘Oslo I Accords.’ The Declaration of Principles makes reference to Jerusalem but only in the context of the rights of the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem to participate in municipal elections and of confirmation that the parties accepted the principle that, although the self-governing authority did not have jurisdiction in Jerusalem and the Old City during the interim self-governing phase, the Jerusalem issue would be included in the permanent-status negotiations.
Despite our protestations, the Globe refused to correct its material errors and altogether failed to provide sources (despite repeated requests) to back up its claims…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
THE JEWISH CONNECTION TO LAMPEDUSA
Algemeiner, May 11, 2015
Lampedusa, a tiny island off the coast of Sicily, has been in the news in Europe lately. This is where the boats land that are packed with illegal immigrants from Africa, who often board in Libya. Lampedusa is a tiny rocky outcrop, so small that it does not even show up on some maps, but it is now packed tightly with refugee camps. It is so crowded that the cemetery is full, and there is no room to bury the bodies of the many escaping Africans who drowned at sea.
Yet the island of Lampedusa has a Jewish connection. It is an extraordinary story. In June, 1941, Flight-Sergeant Sydney Cohen, a Royal Air Force pilot, was trying to fly back to his base in Malta in his Swordfish bi-plane. He veered off course and was forced to make an emergency landing on Lampedusa. He and his crew decided to surrender to the large Italian garrison, but before they could do so, the garrison of 4,300 Italian troops stationed there rushed out waving white flags! They made Syd the commander of the island! In his own words, “A crowd of Italians came out to meet us and we put our hands up to surrender, but then we saw they were all waving white sheets and shouting, ‘No, no – We surrender!’” And that’s how Sydney Cohen became King of Lampedusa!
Sydney Cohen, a tailor’s cutter from Clapton, a Jewish suburb of London, accepted the Italian surrender (confirmed on a scrap of paper) from the Commandant. Afterward, he flew back to Malta where he delivered the “document of surrender.” The positive propaganda created by the incident was soon relayed back to Britain, where it was widely circulated. In 1941, British morale was at its very lowest, a Nazi invasion being feared daily. One English newspaper, the News Chronicle, carried the headline “London Tailor’s Cutter is now King of Lampedusa.”
This inspired a Yiddish playwright, S.J. Charendorf, to turn the story into a Yiddish musical. “The King of Lampedusa” was staged in 1943, first at the New Yiddish Theatre on Adler Street, and later at the Grand Palais in the Mile End Road. It starred the doyen of London’s Yiddish Theatre, Meier Tzelniker, and his daughter Anna. It had the longest run of any production in Yiddish and was even staged in Palestine. The BBC broadcast an English translation, the hero being played by the famous English-Jewish actor, Sidney Tafler. News of the play reached Germany and attracted the attention of Nazi sympathiser “Lord Haw-Haw” (the Nazi equivalent of Tokyo Rose), who mentioned it in his propaganda broadcasts and even threatened the theatre with a visit from the Luftwaffe (It never happened, but the theatre eventually closed due to lack of support and is now part of Queen Mary College of London University).
The story of the King of Lampedusa ended sadly. After the war was over, Flight-Sergeant Cohen and his plane were flying back home to England but were lost without a trace over the English Channel on August 26, 1946. His body was never recovered. Happily, he had seen the play before he died while on leave in Haifa, Palestine, in 1944. In 2001, rumors circulated that Hollywood had decided to turn the play into a movie, but with a different ending: the survival of Flight Sergeant Cohen and the realization of his dream to emigrate to Australia and become a sheep-farmer. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened yet.
LOVE IS WHAT LINKS US TO GOD
Algemeiner, May 21, 2015
One of the most amusing scenes in Anglo-Jewish history occurred on 14 October 1663. A mere seven years had passed since Oliver Cromwell had found no legal bar to Jews living in England (hence the so-called “return” of 1656). A small synagogue was opened in Creechurch Lane in the City of London, forerunner of Bevis Marks (1701), the oldest still-extant place of Jewish worship in Britain. The famous diarist Samuel Pepys decided to pay a visit to this new curiosity, to see how Jews conducted themselves at prayer. What he saw amazed and scandalised him. As chance or Providence had it, the day of his visit turned out to be Simchat Torah. This is how he described what he saw:
And anon their Laws that they take out of the press [i.e. the Ark] are carried by several men, four or five several burthens in all, and they do relieve one another; and whether it is that every one desires to have the carrying of it, I cannot tell, thus they carried it round about the room while such a service is singing … But, Lord! to see the disorder, laughing, sporting, and no attention, but confusion in all their service, more like brutes than people knowing the true God, would make a man forswear ever seeing them more and indeed I never did see so much, or could have imagined there had been any religion in the whole world so absurdly performed as this.
This was not the kind of behavior he was used to in a house of worship. There is something unique about the relationship of Jews to the Torah, the way we stand in its presence as if it were a king, dance with it as if it were a bride, listen to it telling our story and study it, as we say in our prayers, as “our life and the length of our days.” There are few more poignant lines of prayer than the one contained in a poem said at Neilah, at the end of Yom Kippur: Ein shiyur rak ha-Torah ha-zot: “Nothing remains,” after the destruction of the Temple and the loss of the land, “but this Torah.” A book, a scroll, was all that stood between Jews and despair. What non-Jews (and sometimes Jews) fail to appreciate is how, in Judaism, Torah represents law as love, and love as law. Torah is not just “revealed legislation” as Moses Mendelssohn described it in the eighteenth century. It represents God’s faith in our ancestors that He entrusted them with the creation of a society that would become a home for His presence and an example to the world.
One of the keys as to how this worked is contained in the parsha of Bemidbar, always read before Shavuot, the commemoration of the giving of the Torah. This reminds us how central is the idea of wilderness – the desert, no man’s land – is to Judaism. It is midbar, wilderness, that gives our parsha and the book as a whole its name. It was in the desert that the Israelites made a covenant with God and received the Torah, their constitution as a nation under the sovereignty of God. It is the desert that provides the setting for four of the five books of the Torah, and it was there that the Israelites experienced their most intimate contact with God, who sent them water from a rock, manna from heaven and surrounded them with clouds of glory.
What story is being told here? The Torah is telling us three things fundamental to Jewish identity. First is the unique phenomenon that in Judaism the law preceded the land. For every other nation in history the reverse was the case. First came the land, then human settlements, first in small groups, then in villages, towns and cities. Then came forms of order and governance and a legal system: first the land, then the law.
The fact that in Judaism the Torah was given bemidbar, in the desert, before they had even entered the land, meant that uniquely Jews and Judaism were able to survive, their identity intact, even in exile. Because the law came before the land, even when Jews lost the land they still had the law. This meant that even in exile, Jews were still a nation. God remained their sovereign. The covenant was still in place. Even without a geography, they had an ongoing history. Even before they entered the land, Jews had been given the ability to survive outside the land.
Second, there is a tantalising connection between midbar, ‘wilderness,’ and davar, ‘word.’ Where other nations found the gods in nature – the rain, the earth, fertility and the seasons of the agricultural year – Jews discovered God in transcendence, beyond nature, a God who could not be seen but rather heard. In the desert, there is no nature. Instead there is emptiness and silence, a silence in which one can hear the unearthly voice of the One-beyond-the-world. As Edmond Jabès put it: “The word cannot dwell except in the silence of other words. To speak is, accordingly, to lean on a metaphor of the desert.”…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom and Happy Shavuot Holiday!
The Latest "Breaking the Silence" Report Isn't Journalism. It's Propaganda.: Matti Friedman, Mosaic, May 14, 2015—Last week, a report by an Israeli group called Breaking the Silence made headlines in the U.S., Britain, and most of Europe, becoming one of the week’s biggest international stories.
CBC Provides New Definition for Balanced Reporting: Diane Weber Bederman, Canada Free Press, May 18, 2015—Last March I once again contacted the CBC regarding their bias-this time against the Harper Government’s response to the Supreme Court ruling allowing the right to wear the niqab during the citizenship ceremony.
BBC Conveniently Fails to Report on Rocket Attack From Gaza Strip: Hadar Sela, Algemeiner, Apr. 27, 2015—With the BBC having sent at least two of its Jerusalem Bureau staff to cover the story of migrants and refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean (Quentin Sommerville has been reporting from Libya and Yolande Knell from Sicily), coverage of events in Israel has been decidedly sparse over the past two weeks.
In Idiotic Editorial, New York Times Prioritizes Iranian Pride and Jobs Over Israeli Concerns: Elder of Ziyon, Algemeiner, Apr. 8, 2015 —While many, many newspapers, from both the left and the right, are publishing strong reservations about the Iranian nuclear deal, the New York Times is firmly in line with the Obama administration – and even more in line against Binyamin Netanyahu.
A Tribute to Robert Wistrich: Revered Teacher and Ferocious Defender of ‘Klal Yisrael': Abraham Cooper, Jerusalem Post, May 20, 2015 — Today we accompany Professor Robert Wistrich to his final resting place on Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuchot, which literally means “the Mount of Those who are Resting.”
Anti-Semitism and Jewish Destiny: Prof. Robert S. Wistrich, Jerusalem Post, May 20, 2015— There are few topics of more pressing concern today to Jewish communities around the world than the current resurgence of anti-Semitism.
Global Anti-Semitism Continues Escalating: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, May 11, 2015 — This week, the Foreign Ministry and the Diaspora Affairs Ministry are jointly sponsoring the 5th Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Decades-Long — Perhaps Generations-Long — Islamic Reform Project: Jonathan Kay, National Post, May 14, 2015— Brandeis University in Massachusetts showed itself to be gutless and pharisaical this week by revoking an invitation to award the international advocate for women’s rights under Islam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an honorary degree.
Anti-Zionism, the Left, and the Islamists in Britain: Prof. Robert S. Wistrich, JCPA, Nov. 1, 2015
'International Community Should Criminalize Double Standards Against Israel as Anti-Semitism': Sam Sokol, Jerusalem Post, May 12, 2015
Universities Have Become Factories For Reinforcing Opinion: Rex Murphy, National Post, Apr. 12, 2015
Checking Charlie Hebdo’s Privilege: Ross Douthat, New York Times, Apr. 18, 2015
PROFESSOR ROBERT WISTRICH (1945-2015) Z”L
With deep sorrow CIJR announces the passing of one of the world’s leading authorities on the history of antisemitism, Professor Robert Wistrich.
Prof. Wistrich’s unique understanding of Jewish history, encyclopaedic knowledge and expertise made him a leading scholar of the history of antisemitism. His countless books and articles on the topic, including A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad (2010), From Ambivalence to Betrayal: The Left, the Jews, and Israel (2012), Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred (1994) and The Jews of Vienna in the Age of Franz Joseph (2006) contributed greatly to the historiography of global antisemitism, a phenomenon he termed “the longest hatred.”
CIJR and the Jewish community have lost a great teacher and friend. We will miss his tireless scholarship and dedication to the study of antisemitism and Jewish history. May his memory be blessed.
A TRIBUTE TO ROBERT WISTRICH:
REVERED TEACHER AND FEROCIOUS DEFENDER OF ‘KLAL YISRAEL'
Jerusalem Post, May 20, 2015
Today we accompany Professor Robert Wistrich to his final resting place on Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuchot, which literally means “the Mount of Those who are Resting.” But while Robert Wistrich lived there was no rest for this brilliant, kind and soft-spoken professor. He died of a heart attack in Rome earlier this week where he had been about to address the Italian Senate on the renewed scourge of European anti-Semitism.
Wistrich will long be remembered by academics for his prolific work on this issue. His colleagues and friends, myself included, were awed by his incredibly organized mind, brilliant writing, wry wit and especially by his menschlichkeit and openness.
But the Robert Wistrich I came to know and love was first and foremost a ferocious defender of his people. In an era when too many highly placed Jewish academics fail to speak up in defense of the State of Israel, Robert was always on the front line – even when it meant standing alone. He was not only a brilliant wordsmith but also a key strategic thinker whom Jewish activists like myself came to rely upon for guidance and inspiration. Robert, along with Natan Sharansky and Irwin Cotler, was among the key Jewish thinkers who helped formulate the response to vile new threats against Israel’s legitimacy presented at the infamous United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa in 2001.
Wistrich was at his best last week when he delivered a passionate and powerful call to arms at the 5th Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism. The Jerusalem Post published his last speech, which confirms a remarkably organized mind. In it, he told 1,000 activists what they needed – not necessarily what they wanted – to hear. He outlined the threats from the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaigns, Islamist Terrorism and what Wistrich labeled the “religion” of “Palestinianism.”
In his final public speech Wistrich also referred to the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s new exhibition, The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People With the Holy Land. Professor Wistrich’s genius and human skills were on full display both as the author of the exhibition and as he helped my colleague Dr. Shimon Samuels and I succeed in gaining official UNESCO co-sponsorship. Robert patiently defended his narrative before no less than four “academic reviews” and helped us overcome the formal opposition of 22 Arab states.
The exhibition opened last June at UNESCO headquarters and a few weeks ago at UN headquarters in New York at the delegates’ entrance to the UN General Assembly. The exhibition will soon open at the US Congress and we hope to dedicate its presentation at the Knesset to Professor Wistrich’s memory.
Finally, the integrity and humanity of Robert Wistrich was often taken for granted by those who knew him well, but his impact on people could be profound. We received the following words of condolence and tribute from Irina Bokova, the director-general of UNESCO:
“Professor Wistrich was a man of absolute integrity, guided by deep and abiding belief in the human rights and dignity of every woman and man. His works on Zionism and anti-Semitism…stand, indeed, as powerful references, underpinned by unique lucidity and unparalleled research…Professor Wistrich brought all this to authoring the exhibition of the Simon Wiesenthal Center that was presented at UNESCO in June 2014…UNESCO is proud to have been the first UN agency to organize such an exhibition on the relationship between the Jewish People and the Holy Land, reaffirming the Organization’s role as a universal platform for intellectual cooperation and intercultural dialogue….
“You may rest assured that, inspired by the resounding example set by Professor Wistrich, I am determined that UNESCO redouble its efforts in these directions, at a time when mutual understanding and respect has never been so important.” Yehei Zichro Baruch!
ANTI-SEMITISM AND JEWISH DESTINY
Prof. Robert S. Wistrich
There are few topics of more pressing concern today to Jewish communities around the world than the current resurgence of anti-Semitism. Thus, there could have been no more appropriate time for the 5th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism to meet than last week in Jerusalem. It was a large and impressive gathering of participants from all over the world, initiated by the Foreign Ministry, together with its Diaspora Affairs Department.
In my own remarks to the conference I emphasized the need to free ourselves from certain outdated myths. My first point was that even today, Jews in Israel and the Diaspora are fixated on the dangers of far-right traditional anti-Semitism – whether racist, religious or nationalist. While neo-fascism has not altogether disappeared, it is in most cases a secondary threat.
Second, there is an illusory belief that more Holocaust education and memorialization can serve as an effective antidote to contemporary anti-Semitism. This notion, shared by many governments and well-meaning liberal gentiles, is quite unfounded. On the contrary, today “Holocaust inversion” (the perverse transformation of Jews into Nazis and Muslims into victimized “Jews”) all-too-often becomes a weapon with which to pillory Israel and denigrate the Jewish people. Hence the approach to this entire subject requires considerable rethinking, updating and fine-tuning.
Third, we must recognize much more clearly than before that since 1975 (with the passing of the scandalous UN resolution condemning Zionism as racism) hatred of Israel has increasingly mutated into the chief vector for the “new” anti-Semitism. By libeling the Jewish state as “racist,” “Nazi,” “apartheid” and founded from its inception on “ethnic cleansing,” its enemies have turned Zionism into a synonym for criminality and a term of pure opprobrium. Hence, every Jew (or non- Jew) who supports the totally “illegitimate” or immoral “Zionist entity” is thereby complicit in a cosmic evil.
Fourth, today’s anti-Semitism is a product of a new civic religion that could be termed “Palestinianism.” The official Palestinian narrative seeks to supplant Israel with a judenrein Palestine from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. In the case of Hamas, this intent is absolutely explicit. With Fatah, it is partly veiled for tactical reasons. But when it comes to the Palestinian ideology and the millions around the world who support it, virtually all actions of self-defense by Israel are instantly classified as “genocide,” demonized and treated as part of a sinister Jewish-imperialist conspiracy. Not surprisingly, then, pro-Palestine demonstrations, beginning in the summer of 2014, were often accompanied by ugly chants of “Death to the Jews” and anti-Semitic incidents.
My fifth point is closely related to this reality. Since the turn of the 21st century, anti-Semitism has undergone a process of growing “Islamicization,” linked to the terrorist holy war against Jews and other non-Muslims with its truly lethal consequences. Yet most debates skirt around the issues of Iran and radical Islam.
However, if we do not confront the prime danger posed by radical Islamist and genocidal anti-Semitism, how can our common struggle hope to succeed? One of the symptoms of this vain policy of appeasement pursued by America and Europe is the almost Pavlovian reflex after every terrorist, anti-Semitic outrage to immediately disconnect it from any link to Islam. Of course, Islamist is not identical with Islam, only a minority of Muslim believers support terrorism, and stigmatization is wrong. Equally, we must empower moderate Muslims wherever we can.
But denial does not work. Levels of anti-Semitism among Muslims clearly remain the highest in the world, and the horrific consequences of jihadi movements like Islamic State for all minorities are impossible to ignore. Nothing can be gained by sweeping this threat under the carpet. The Islamists are the spearhead of current anti-Semitism, aided and abetted by the moral relativism of all-too-many naive Western liberals.
My sixth observation relates to the need for Israelis and Diaspora Jews to rediscover, redefine and reassess their Jewish identity, core Jewish values and the depth of their own connection to the Land of Israel as well as to their historic heritage. I was privileged to have authored two years ago the exhibition “People, Book, Land – The 3,500-Year Relationship of the Jewish People to the Holy Land” for the bold project initiated by the Simon Wiesenthal Center together with UNESCO. Against all the odds and in the face of predictable opposition, it opened at UNESCO headquarters in Paris in June 2014.
In April 2015, the exhibit was even shown at UN Headquarters in New York, and it will soon come to Israel. This is not merely a historical exercise, for it shows the extraordinary tenacity, cultural vitality, spirituality, and metaphysical as well as physical bonds of Jews and Judaism to the Land of Israel. None of this was intended, it should be emphasized, to negate the historical presence and significance of Christianity and Islam in this land. But it sets the record straight.
My final reflection flows from this experience. I believe that in an age of Jewish empowerment, living in a sovereign and democratic Israeli state, we can and must first clarify for ourselves our vocation, raison d’être, moral priorities, and the deeper meaning of our near-miraculous return to the historic homeland. This is the other side of the coin in our essential and relentless fight against anti-Semitism. As we celebrate Jerusalem Day let us be worthy of the scriptural promise that “the Torah will come forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
Here, in the beating heart of the Jewish nation, where its body and soul come together in the City of Peace, we must be true to the national and universal vision of our biblical prophets. Anti-Semitism, the long shadow which has for so long accompanied our bi-millennial Diasporic tribulations, and nearly 70 years of renewed statehood, is neither “eternal” nor must it prevent Jews from fulfilling their ultimate destiny to one day become a “light unto the nations.”
GLOBAL ANTI-SEMITISM CONTINUES ESCALATING
Candidly Speaking, May 11, 2015
This week, the Foreign Ministry and the Diaspora Affairs Ministry are jointly sponsoring the 5th Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism. It will be opened by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a host of prominent global leaders will participate and passionately condemn anti-Semitism. It will also be a gathering of activists from all over the world who will hear depressing reports of the growth of anti-Semitism in all countries and pleas for intensified action to curb the venomous hatred.
Unfortunately, aside from some limited media coverage and making participants “feel good,” this conference will be a mere talk fest with negligible impact. The world’s oldest hatred has reached surrealistic levels. Whereas most Western governments are inclined to condemn anti-Semitism, on a popular level the situation is terrifying and even worse than in the 1930s when at least liberals and the political Left spoke up for the Jews. Today they are frequently at the vanguard of the Jew-baiters.
The fusion of traditional anti-Semitism and its more current expression — demonization of the Jewish state — is rampant in most countries other than the U.S., Canada and Australia, although even there, it has emerged as a poisonous force on campuses. In most of Europe, the continent drenched with Jewish blood during the Holocaust, opinion polls indicate that almost half the population regard Israel as a greater threat to world peace than Iran and North Korea, equate Jews with Nazis, and believe that Israelis are seeking to commit genocide against the Palestinians. In this context, the upsurge of increasingly violent anti-Semitic incidents is hardly surprising. Jewish schools, synagogues and even kosher supermarkets require security protection, even the employment of military forces. Many Jews fear wearing kippot or Jewish symbols in public.
After returning from their murderous sprees in the killing fields of the Middle East, jihadists — who include second-generation homegrown Muslims and converts from comfortable middle class origins — view Jews as principal targets for assassination. Governments are loath to confront the issue of Islamic extremism or even identify the enemy because of the growing power of the Muslim vote. They seem more concerned to condemn “Islamophobia” rather than anti-Semitism, despite the fact that it is synagogues and Jewish schools rather than mosques and Islamic schools that are threatened by terrorists.
Despite the babble about an obligation for Jews to remain in Europe and fight anti-Semitism, the situation will only deteriorate. While understanding the discomfort of European leaders should there be a mass exodus of Jews from their countries, one must still ask why we should be encouraged to live in societies in which we are detested and considered pariahs? Especially so, recognizing the demographic increase of Muslims around them and knowing that public opinion is more hostile against the Jews than are governments.
We should challenge the absurdity of those who consider it inappropriate for Jews to make aliyah because of anti-Semitism. Of course, we would prefer to live in a world where Jews are accepted and respected and only come to Israel out of idealistic motivations. But surely it is common sense and incumbent on us to encourage Jews confronted with anti-Semitism to make aliyah. Jews will remain in Europe. But they will become a diminishing minority as many realize that they do not wish to raise their children in a society that makes them ashamed of being Jews. We should encourage those who can to make aliyah and must seek to provide them with livelihoods. Some may be unwilling to make the move but at least they should be encouraged to send their children.
Ironically, increased aliyah will strengthen the Jewish identity of those remaining and help them to retain their Jewish dignity and self-respect. None of this should detract from our obligation to combat anti-Semitism both because, as mankind’s oldest hatred, it is intrinsically evil and also because it impinges on the global foreign policies towards Israel.
While the most extreme manifestations of Jew-hatred now originate from Islamic sources, their efforts have coalesced with longstanding conventional anti-Semitic forces, which were dormant but have now been resurrected. We are thus confronted with a witch’s brew of the contemporary genocidal Islamic extremist anti-Semitism, the political Left and many liberals who project Israel as the new Satan, and traditional radical right-wing elements, all engaged in frenzied attacks on the Jewish state which is employed as a surrogate to demonic hatred of individual Jews…
[To Reade the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
AYAAN HIRSI ALI’S DECADES-LONG — PERHAPS
GENERATIONS-LONG — ISLAMIC REFORM PROJECT
National Post, May 14, 2015
Ayaan Hirsi Ali isn’t one to wax sentimental about her mother. “She wanted us to live only according to ‘pure Islam,’ ” the famous Muslim apostate writes — “which to her meant no singing or dancing, no laughter or joy.” I highlighted that line in my copy of Ali’s new book, Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now — not just because it’s a stinging thing for an author to say about her own mom, but because this single sentence neatly encapsulates everything the Somali-Dutch-American scholar hates about her childhood faith.
To Ali, the pathologies of Islamist societies aren’t just reflected in exhortations to jihadi violence and the excoriations of infidels. They also are manifest in the relentlessly dour, cloistered, stony-faced texture of day-to-day life. “Every punishment at school or at home seemed to be laced with threats of hellfire and pleas for death or destruction: may you suffer this disease or that, and may you burn in hell,” she writes. “When my mother spoke of ‘hellfire,’ she would point to the flaming brazier in our kitchen and tell me, ‘You think this fire is hot? Now think about hell, where the fire is far, far hotter and will devour you.’ ”
Since 9/11, Western intellectuals have put forward a variety of complex theories to explain the social backwardness and misogyny of the Muslim world. But by Ali’s account, a lot of it can be explained by the simple and relentless messaging that Muslims get as children: do right by Allah, or spend eternity roasting in his fire pits. This is Ali’s third book. In Infidel (2006), she detailed her upbringing in East Africa and Saudi Arabia, and her flight to The Netherlands, where she became a politician and activist. In Nomad: From Islam To America (2010), she struck the pose of militant anti-Islamist culture warrior, arguing that her old religion is beyond redemption.
Now, five years later, she believes that there may in fact be signs of hope. She calls Heretic an “optimistic” book — notwithstanding the depressing catalogue of Islamic-inspired violence it contains. “Seven months after I published Nomad came the start of the Arab Spring,” she writes. “I watched four national governments fall — Egypt’s twice — and protests or uprisings occur in 14 other nations, and I thought simply: I was wrong. Ordinary Muslims are ready for change.”
Ali’s analysis begins with the idea that conventionally minded Muslims typically can be divided into two groups — “Mecca Muslims” and “Medina Muslims.” These names correspond to the ancient cities (now in Saudi Arabia) where the Prophet Muhammad first rose to prominence. The teachings attributed to Muhammad during his time in Mecca generally are more peaceful in tone. But years later, after he had fled to Medina and become a ruthless desert warlord, his teachings increasingly became streaked with themes of violence and forcible submission. One example is the infamous Sword verse from Sura 9, which exhorts, in part: “Fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem [of war].”
Ali believes that Medina Muslims — who refer to Jews and Christians as “pigs and monkeys,” and applaud the mob-slaughter of children who accidentally deface the Koran — are largely immune to rational intellectual discourse. “They are not the intended audience for this book,” she writes. “They are the reason for writing it.” Rather, her argument is aimed at Mecca Muslims, who pray five times a day, perform the Hajj, give zakat, fast during Ramadan, and preach the oneness of Allah, but who are opposed to the nihilistic violence that the Islamic State and similar groups perform in Allah’s name.
Ali is not the first author to call for a Muslim “reformation.” But her manifesto is unusually detailed, identifying a group of specific precepts that must be “repudiated and nullified” before Islam can become a humane faith. These include: The conceptualization of Mohammed as a “semi-divine” superman; The obsession with the delights and torments of life beyond the grave; The encroachment of Islam into every aspect of human life through the institution of shariah; and The imperative to wage jihad…
[To Reade the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Anti-Zionism, the Left, and the Islamists in Britain: Prof. Robert S. Wistrich, JCPA, Nov. 1, 2015—My topic concerns primarily the United Kingdom, and two important, even major facets of the contemporary incitement against Israel and the Jewish people, which are increasingly visible in British society.
'International Community Should Criminalize Double Standards Against Israel as Anti-Semitism': Sam Sokol, Jerusalem Post, May 12, 2015—The international community should criminalize anti-Semitism and establish a multilateral body to monitor it, former Ministry of Foreign Affairs legal adviser Amb. Alan Baker asserted on Monday in the text of a draft international convention being promoted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Universities Have Become Factories For Reinforcing Opinion: Rex Murphy, National Post, Apr. 12, 2015—Brandeis University in Massachusetts showed itself to be gutless and pharisaical this week by revoking an invitation to award the international advocate for women’s rights under Islam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an honorary degree.
Checking Charlie Hebdo’s Privilege: Ross Douthat, New York Times, Apr. 18, 2015 —A living cartoonist lecturing his murdered peers makes for a curious spectacle, but that’s what transpired at journalism’s George Polk Awards a week ago.