Month: September 2015

WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

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

 

On Topic Links  

 

Is Syria On the Way to Becoming a ‘Frozen Conflict’?: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 26, 2015

The Second Conquest of Afghanistan: Max Boot, Commentary, Sept. 28, 2015

Some Part of Our System For Producing Intellectually Responsible Adults Has Failed Alex Johnstone: Colby Cosh, National Post, Sept. 24, 2015

The NDP’s Anti-Israel Grassroots: Pat Johnson, National Post, Aug. 20, 2015

 

 

SUKKOT (FEAST OF TABERNACLES) GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED, 2015

Yoram Ettinger

Jewish Press, Sept. 27, 2015

 

1. The US connection: Columbus Day is celebrated around Sukkot. According to “Columbus Then and Now” (Miles Davidson, 1997, p. 268), Columbus arrived in America on Friday afternoon, October 12, 1492, the 21st day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, the Jewish year 5235, the 7th day of Sukkot, Hosha’na’ Rabbah, a day of universal deliverance and miracles. Hosha’na’ Rabbah is celebrated 26 days following the beginning of the Creation, and 26 is the numerical value of Jehovah (יהוה). Hosha’ (הושע) is the Hebrew word for “deliverance” and Na’ (נא) is the Hebrew word for “please.” The numerical value of Na’ is 51 (נ=50 and א=1), and Hosha’na’ Rabbah is celebrated on the 51st day following Moses’ ascension to Mt. Sinai, which marks the conclusion of the repentance process (of Yom Kippur).

 

2. Sukkot – the 3rd Jewish pilgrimage, following Passover and Shavou’ot (Pentecost) – is a universal holiday, inviting all peoples to come on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, as expressed in the reading (Haftarah) of Zechariah 14: 16-19 on the first day of Sukkot: “Then, the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up [to Jerusalem] every year to worship the Lord Almighty and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.” According to the Sukkah tractate of the Mishnah (the oral Torah), the 70 sacrificial bulls of Sukkot represent the pilgrimage of 70 nations to Jerusalem; a demonstration of universal solidarity and comity. Sukkot expresses the yearning for universal peace, highlighting the Sukkah of Shalom (peace). Shalom is also one of the names of God. Shalem (שלם) – wholesome and complete in Hebrew – is the ancient name of Jerusalem and of 32 towns (Salem) in the USA.

 

3. Sukkot has been celebrated for the last 3,300 years, commemorating the Exodus, liberty, the 40 years of wandering in the Sinai Desert, the construction of the Holy Tabernacle, the victories along the way – and the reentry – into the Land of Israel, as well as the reaffirmation of faith in God; thanking God for redemption, the harvest and the ingathering, reality-based optimism and the recognition of human limits (humility).

 

4. The origin/statute of Sukkot, which is launched on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei (Leviticus 23: 42-43): “Live in Sukkot (temporary and military dwellings; a ritual hut) for seven days; all Israelites are to live in such dwellings, so your descendants will know that I settled the people of Israel in Sukkot when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” The first stop of the Exodus was in Sukkota in the Sinai Desert. The meaning of the Hebrew root of Sukkah (סכה) is “wholesomeness” and “totality” (סך), “shelter” (סכך), “to anoint” (סוך), “divine curtain” (מסך) and “attentiveness” (סכת).

 

5. The four species of Sukkot: “On the first day [of Sukkot], you will take for yourselves a fruit of a beautiful tree, palm branches, twigs of a braided tree and brook willows (Leviticus 23:40).” The 1 citron, 1 palm branch, 3 myrtle branches and 2 willow branches are bonded together, representing the unity through diversity of the Jewish people. They also represent the agricultural regions of the Land of Israel: the Negev and Arava (palm), the slopes of the Golan Heights, Upper Galilee and Mt. Carmel (myrtle), the streams of Judea, Samaria and the Galilee (willow) and the coastal plain (citron). They underline leadership prerequisites: solid backbone (palm branch), genuine humility (willow), compassionate heart (citron) and penetrating eyes (myrtle)…      

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

                                                                       

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ENTER RUSSIA, EXIT U.S. CREDIBILITY

National Post, Sept. 29, 2015

 

The Western strategy on Syria is in ruins. The United States, Britain, Germany and NATO have accepted Russia propping up the bloody tyrant Bashar al-Assad and helping massacre his adversaries, not as part even of a bad plan but because they have no plan at all. The failure is largely an American failure. Its allies including Canada have neglected their defence budgets to the point that they cannot project force independently. So it’s America or bust. And bust it is.

 

Press accounts describe Russian President Vladimir Putin “forcing (U.S. President) Barack Obama to respond to bold moves on the geopolitical chess board,” as if the latter were a grandmaster grimly shoring up his position against one strategically cunning and tactically menacing stroke after another. But in fact Obama is not making any moves at all. The game seems to interest him so little there’s serious doubt whether he knows how the pieces move.

 

We suppose a “realist” case could be made for allowing a hostile Russia to overextend itself in a Middle Eastern quagmire, much as the Soviet Union did in Afghanistan — a case that neatly overlooks the appalling human cost of such realpolitik, and the inevitable strategic blowback that follows. Whatever the cost of intervention, it must be measured against the cost of non-intervention: in Syria, as the Economist recently put, the cost has been “half the population dead or running.”

 

We consider the Syrian civil war a humanitarian and strategic disaster that requires intervention to protect civilian populations against both sides, the brutal dictator Assad and the brutal Islamist ISIL. So do the humanitarian groups urging Canada to take the lead in imposing a no-fly zone in Syria. But nothing can be done without determined American backing. And right now the United States is not following a mistaken strategy. It is simply failing to act.

 

Bold words are occasionally spoken. But no serious plans are drawn up to back them. Instead, each fresh setback is dismissed as unimportant, while underlying realities are blithely denied. Russia is depicted as a strategic partner rather than an implacable opponent and Putin as a man with whom one can do business although no business done with him ever turns out well. Assad’s hatred of ISIL does not make him an acceptable partner morally or pragmatically, while Putin’s call for a broad anti-terror coalition is cover for Russian efforts to undermine Western interests in the Middle East as elsewhere.

 

Yes, if Russia succeeds in “pacifying” Syria it might even help stem the flood of refugees, as those not killed might be prevented from leaving, or persuaded to settle grimly amid the ruins. But it will not erase the evil Assad has done, from using chemical weapons to indiscriminate bombing of civilians. Nor will it erase the impression of Western paralysis, strategic and intellectual, its inability to respond to Russian offensives, beyond erecting a screen of misleading rhetoric around various faits accomplis. So it might be fitting, on the anniversary of the Munich Accord, to ponder what has traditionally come of Western fecklessness and make-believe respecting tyrannical ambitions regarding far-away countries about which we know little.

 

The Western strategy on Syria is in ruins. It is time to face it, and find a new one: bolder, more decisive and less shameful. America’s allies must rearm. And in the meantime, they must persuade Washington that dithering followed by appeasement is as bad as it sounds.

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“In Syria, Iran is presented as part of the solution, when it is actually the problem…Iran supports [Syrian President Bashar] Assad enormously. Without Iran, there would be no Assad. The Assad regime survives thanks to Iran. The commander there is [Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards commander] Qassam Soleimani and his deputy commander is [Hezbollah Leader Sheikh] Hassan Nasrallah, and they do what needs to be done to preserve Assad.” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu intends to use his upcoming speech at the United Nations to tell the world that Iran remains the root cause for the unrest in the Middle East. (Times of Israel, Sept. 30, 2015)

 

“The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict (in Syria). But we must recognize that there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the pre-war status quo… Yes, realism dictates that compromise will be required to end the fighting and ultimately stamp out (ISIL). But realism also requires a managed transition away from Assad and to a new leader.” — U.S. President Barack Obama. Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin traded barbs Monday in speeches at the United Nations General Assembly. Their remarks highlighted the strained relations between the two nations and stark differences in their approaches to resolving the Syrian conflict. (National Post, Sept. 28, 2015)

 

“We think it is an enormous mistake to refuse to co-operate with the Syrian government and its armed forces, who are valiantly fighting terrorism face-to-face. We should finally acknowledge that no one but President Assad’s armed forces and Kurd militia are truly fighting the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in Syria.…We must join efforts to address the problems that all of us are facing on the basis of international law, and create a genuinely broad international coalition against terrorism. Similar to the anti-Hitler coalition, it could unite a broad range of forces that are willing to resolutely resist those who just like the Nazis sow evil and hatred of humankind.” — Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Washington Post, Sept. 25, 2015)

 

“(Putin) is not the one who needs a deal. He has time on his side. It is us who needs a deal more…Whatever happens in Syria, we know that he will probably be a part of it…Meanwhile, we see that he is attempting to steer the conversation away from Ukraine entirely.” — A senior Western diplomat in Moscow this week, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The diplomat said there is a growing appetite for dialogue with Putin about the Syrian crisis, particularly as Europe faces an unprecedented flood of migrants, many fleeing the war in Syria. (Washington Post, Sept. 25, 2015)

 

"The (Islamic State) terrorists plan on killing several hundred million people. The west is drastically underestimating the power of ISIS…They are the most brutal and most dangerous enemy I have ever seen in my life. I don't see anyone who has a real chance to stop them. Only Arabs can stop IS. I came back very pessimistic." —Jurgen Todenhofer, a veteran German journalist who became the first to gain access as an embedded reporter with Islamic State. Todenhofer released his findings in a book called "Inside IS – Ten Days in the Islamic State." (Arutz Sheva, Sept. 25, 2015)

 

“The initial aim was to train between 5,000 and 6,000 fighters, and then 12,000 more…It turns out that only 60 of these fighters have been properly trained, and as few as 4 or 5 people actually carry weapons, while the rest of them have deserted with the American weapons to join ISIS.” —Vladimir Putin, gloating over the failure of the American programme to train anti-Assad rebels to fight I.S. on the ground. (Telegraph, Sept. 27, 2015)

 

“It is all about the future…There is no life left in Syria.” — Mohammed Khadra, a Palestinian refugee from Damascus who deserted the Syrian Army and fled to Turkey with $470 zipped into the pocket of his track pants. The vast majority of the nearly half-million migrants and refugees who have entered Europe by sea this year have arrived from Turkey, according to the United Nations. Turkish officials say they strive to stop illegal migration and have detained 57,000 travelers and 107 human traffickers this year. (New York Times, Sept. 26, 2015)

 

"You can tell the world I hate Finland. It's too cold, there's no tea, no restaurants, no bars, nobody on the streets, only cars." —22-year-old Muhammed, an Iraqi migrant, in Tornio, Finland. Hundreds of predominantly Iraqi migrants who have travelled through Europe to reach Finland are turning back, saying they don't want to stay in the sparsely-populated country on Europe's northern frontier because it's too cold and boring. Anti-immigrant sentiment may also be prompting some migrants to leave Finland. Early Friday, around 40 demonstrators — including one dressed in a Ku Klux Klan outfit — threw fireworks at a bus transporting asylum seekers to a new reception centre in the southern city of Lahti. Prime Minister Juha Sipila, who has offered to personally shelter refugees in his home, called the protests racist. (Yahoo News, Sept. 25, 2015 & New York Times, Sept. 25, 2015)

 

“When you have something that is against the rights of women, against the rights of gays, subjugates other religions, and a host of things that are not compatible with our Constitution, why, in fact, would you take that chance?…What I would like for somebody to show me is an improved Islamic text that opposes Sharia…If you can show me that, I will begin to alter my thinking on this.” — Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson. Last week, Carson said that he “would not advocate” putting a Muslim in the White House. (New York Post, Sept. 27, 2015)

 

"Now, once again, Israel’s existence is imperiled by an empty agreement that will allow the Iranian radical regime to become a nuclear power and give it billions of dollars for increased terrorist activities. The ayatollahs who rule Iran proudly proclaim and are busy plotting the destruction of the Jewish state…At the crucial moment, when lines were being drawn, and commitments put to the test, every single vote for or against the deal could have been the one to turn the tide. Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz is the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee and had the power to influence this important vote one way or the other. She faced the same dilemma as Truman and Nixon, whether to give in to the powerful forces of the political establishment, or to stand up for what is true and right, and take the action necessary to ensure Israel’s safety. But what Wasserman-Schultz offered us was tears rather than action, emotion over substance. I have no doubt that she loves and cares about Israel. But who cares about her feelings? It’s what she does [vote for Obama's Iran deal] that matters." —Shmuley Boteach. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, announced on September 6 that she would support the nuclear agreement with Iran. (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 24, 2015)

Contents

SHORT TAKES

 

TALIBAN SEIZE CONTROL OF KUNDUZ (Kabul) — Taliban militants seized control of most of the northern city of Kunduz, marking the first major Afghan city to fall to the insurgency in 14 years of war. Insurgents stormed the city from three sides early Monday, armed with AK-47 rifles and heavy machine guns and riding vehicles stolen from Afghan troops. The Taliban also stormed the prison in Kunduz, freeing more than 600 inmates—about 140 of whom are insurgents. The fall of the city marks a devastating blow to Afghanistan’s Western-backed government and its security forces, which have largely fought on their own since U.S. and allied forces mostly ended their combat role last year. (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 28, 2015)

 

HAJJ STAMPEDE DEATH TOLL RISES TO 769 (Riyadh) — The death toll in a stampede at the annual hajj pilgrimage outside Mecca rose to at least 769, Saudi Arabia said. The worst disaster to befall the Islamic event in a quarter of a century occurred on Thursday as two large groups of pilgrims arrived together at a crossroads in Mina, outside the holy city. Shia Iran, which is locked in a series of proxy wars in Arab countries around the Sunni Muslim kingdom, said that at least 136 Iranians are among the dead, sparking protests and outrage in IranIran. At the UN General Assembly, Iranian President Rouhani used his address to the summit to demand an investigation into the tragedy. (CBC, Sept. 26, 2015)

 

SAUDI-LED AIRSTRIKES ON YEMEN WEDDING KILL MORE THAN 100 CIVILIANS  (Sana’a) — The death toll from Saudi-led airstrikes that hit a wedding party in Yemen has risen to 131, making it the deadliest single incident since the start of the country’s civil war. The UN says at least 2,355 civilians have been killed in fighting since March, when the coalition began launching airstrikes against Shiite Houthi rebels and allied army units, who control the capital and are at war with the internationally recognized government as well as southern separatists, local militias and Sunni extremists. The Saudi-led and US-backed coalition apparently struck the wedding party by mistake Monday in al-Wahga, a village near the town of Mokha. (New York Post, Sept. 29, 2015)

 

NEARLY A THIRD OF MIGRANTS IN GERMANY CLAIMING TO BE SYRIANS AREN’T FROM SYRIA (Berlin) — German officials said Friday that nearly a third of all asylum seekers arriving in Germany and claiming to be Syrian in fact come from other nations. So far this year, Germany has received 527,000 asylum seekers — more than any other nation in Europe. Tobias Plate, an Interior Ministry spokesman, acknowledged estimates Friday that roughly 30 percent of asylum seekers who claim to be from Syria are making erroneous claims, and come from other countries instead. Because of the civil war in that country, roughly 87 percent of Syrians are successfully winning asylum in Germany. (Washington Post, Sept. 25, 2015)

 

NDP CANDIDATE APOLOGIZES FOR NOT KNOWING WHAT AUSCHWITZ WAS (Ottawa) — Alex Johnstone, running in the federal election for the New Democratic Party (NDP), has apologized for a controversial remark she posted on social media several years ago, where she commented on a friend’s Facebook picture taken at the Auschwitz concentration camp museum that featured an electric fence and its curved concrete supports. "Ahhh, the infamous Pollish (sic), phallic, hydro posts," Johnstone’s comment reads. After the comment surfaced on satirical publication the True North Times, the Hamilton trustee claimed ignorance: “Well, I didn’t know what Auschwitz was, or I didn’t up until today.” Johnstone has temporarily stepped down from her role as vice-chairwoman of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. (CJN, Sept. 24, 2015)

 

LE PEN FACES TRIAL OVER MUSLIM NAZI COMPARISON (Paris) — Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s Front National (FN) party, will stand trial over historic comments she made comparing Muslim street prayers to the wartime occupation of France. Le Pen made the comments during her 2010 campaign to take over the FN’s leadership from the party founder, her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. According to France 24, when addressing a rally of supporters in Lyon she said: “I’m sorry, but for those who really like to talk about World War II, if we’re talking about an occupation, we could talk about the [street prayers], because that is clearly an occupation of territory.” (Breitbart, Sept. 23, 2015)

 

FOUR PALESTINIAN TEENS ARRESTED FOR DEADLY JERUSALEM ROCK ATTACK (Jerusalem) — Following an intensive multi-security agency search for the terrorists whose rock barrage led to the death of motorist Alexander Levlovitz in Jerusalem on Rosh Hashana, police announced that four Palestinian teenage suspects have been arrested. Levlovitz, a 64-year-old grandfather, died hours after losing control of his vehicle on the night of September 13 when its windshield was shattered by a rock thrown from an overpass. An investigation determined the rock was thrown by youths from the village of Sur Bahir. The four suspects are between the ages of 16 and 19 and are Israeli residents. (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 26, 2015)

 

SODASTREAM OFFERS TO HIRE 1,000 SYRIAN REFUGEES IN ISRAEL (Tel Aviv) — SodaStream International, the internationally-recognized producer of carbonated water machines, said that it will give 1,000 Syrian refugees jobs at its new factory. “As a son of a Holocaust survivor, I refuse to stand by and observe this human tragedy unfold right across our border,” CEO Daniel Birnbaum said. SodaStream originally operated out of Mishor Adumim, but BDS activists say they caused the company to leave Judea. In the process, the hundreds of Palestinians who worked in the factory lost their jobs. (Arutz Sheva, Sept. 20, 2015 & New York Post, Sept. 25, 2015)

 

TOURISM IN ISRAEL TRENDS BACK UPWARD IN 2015 (Tel Aviv) — Tourism in Israel in the past year has made a reported comeback from a downward spiral during and shortly after Operation Protective Edge last Summer. Many countries including the United States briefly banned flights from traveling to Israel, out of concern that planes were vulnerable to rocket fire from Gaza. Data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics show an increase in tourist entries for August 2015 compared to August 2014. This past August, there were approximately 213,000 tourists, which was 45% more than there were in August 2014. (Jewish Press, Sept. 27, 2015)

On Topic Links 

 

Is Syria On the Way to Becoming a ‘Frozen Conflict’?: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 26, 2015 — The latest moves on the regime side in the Syrian war suggest an effort by its allies, including Russia, to “freeze” the conflict rather than to continue it to victory. This is because victory in the form originally conceived of – the reconquest of the entirety of the country by the Assads – is clearly no longer achievable.

The Second Conquest of Afghanistan: Max Boot, Commentary, Sept. 28, 2015 —What used to be known as the Global War on Terrorism seems to be lurching from one defeat after another. In the Middle East, ISIS has taken control of cities from Palmyra to Mosul. Libya and Yemen and Syria and large swathes of Iraq have no effective governance, leaving their territory to be fought over between competing terrorist groups.

Some Part of Our System For Producing Intellectually Responsible Adults Has Failed Alex Johnstone: Colby Cosh, National Post, Sept. 24, 2015 —The many-tentacled social media terror stalking our federal election candidates has made an appearance in Hamilton, Ont., striking indirectly but fiercely at NDP candidate and school trustee Alex Johnstone. On Tuesday, a satirical website called True North Times uncovered a 2008 Facebook comment in which Johnstone had cracked an inopportune penis joke under a friend’s photo of a concrete fence post at the reconstructed Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

The NDP’s Anti-Israel Grassroots: Pat Johnson, National Post, Aug. 20, 2015 —Part of the Conservative party’s strategy against the New Democrats in this election includes the website Meetthendp.ca, which aggregates controversial statements by NDP candidates. Already the site has led to one Nova Scotia New Democrat being relieved of his candidacy — and presumably the Tories are saving their best fodder for later in the long campaign.

 

 

EUROPEAN IDEALISM TESTED BY MIGRANT CRISIS & CONTINUING ANTISEMITISM

 

The Migrants and the Elites: Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 10, 2015 — What a crisis Europe is in, with waves of migrants reaching its shores as the Arab world implodes.

Sweden’s Ugly Immigration Problem: Margaret Wente, Globe & Mail, Sept. 11, 2015 — In Europe, refugees from Syria and Iraq have been cramming the ferry-trains heading from Germany to Denmark.

The Boycott: Iceland’s Anti-Semitism Resurfaces Again: Manfred Gerstenfeld, CIJR, Sept. 24, 2015— Recent developments in Iceland fit well in the long history of that country’s anti-Semitism.

The Frying Pan and the Fire: Edward Rothstein, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 4, 2015 — Once, the Holocaust had an almost sacral quality: It was approached with fear and trembling as a cataclysm beyond comparison.

 

On Topic Links

 

Israel’s 9/11 Memorial from Ground Zero Wreckage – A Must See!: United With Israel, Sept. 17, 2015

Driven Across Dark Seas and Hostile Lands: The Muslim Refugee Problem and Europe: Frederick Krantz, CIJR, Sept. 21, 2015

An Open Letter to Reykjavik, Iceland, On Its Eruption of Anti-Semitism: Abraham H. Miller, JNS, Sept. 18, 2015

One Morning in Poland: Marci Shore, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 11, 2015

 

                                       

THE MIGRANTS AND THE ELITES                                                                                 

Peggy Noonan

Wall Street Journal, Sept. 10, 2015

 

What a crisis Europe is in, with waves of migrants reaching its shores as the Arab world implodes. It is the biggest migration into Europe since the end of World War II and is shaping up to be its first great and sustained challenge of the 21st century. It may in fact shape that continent’s nature and history as surely as did World War I.

 

It is a humanitarian crisis. As Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations notes, it will not soon go away, for two reasons. First, the Mideast will not be peaceful anytime soon and may well become more turbulent. Second, “The more that Europe responds the more it will reinforce the supply of migrants. Europe is caught.” If it doesn’t respond with compassion and generosity it is wrong in humanitarian terms; if it does, more will come and the problem grows. “This is now part of the architecture,” says Mr. Haass.

 

Three hundred eighty-one thousand detected migrants have arrived so far this year, up from 216,000 in all of 2014. Almost 3,000 died on the journey or are missing. The symbol of their plight is the photo of the 3-year-old Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi, who drowned along with his mother and 5-year-old brother when their boat capsized near a Turkish beach. Just as horrifying is what was found inside a Volvo refrigerated truck stranded on the shoulder of the A4 highway 30 miles from Vienna in late August. Inside were 71 bodies, including a 1½-year-old girl, all dead of suffocation. They’d been left there by human smugglers.

 

It is a catastrophe unfolding before our eyes, and efforts to deal with it have at least one echo in America, which we’ll examine further down. According to the U.N. refugee agency, 53% of the migrants are from Syria, 14% from Afghanistan, 7% from Eritrea, and 3% each from Pakistan, Nigeria, Iraq and Somalia. Seventy-two percent are men, only 13% women and 15% children. Not all are fleeing war. Some are fleeing poverty. Not all but the majority are Muslim.

 

The leaders of Europe have shown themselves unsure about what to do. It is a continent-wide crisis that began in 2011, as Tunisians fled to the Italian island of Lampedusa. The following year, sub-Saharan Africans who’d migrated to Libya made for Europe after Muammar Gadhafi’s fall. Since then the European response has largely been ad hoc and stopgap. European Union President Jean-Claude Juncker has proposed a “permanent relocation mechanism” with EU members taking greater shares of the refugees, but it is unclear how exactly it would work.

 

In many EU nations there will be powerful pushback. Like the crisis itself the pushback will build. Europe is in economic drift. As this newspaper has noted, even Germany is growing at only 1.6% a year. Welfare systems will be strained. Youth unemployment is already high. In Britain the crisis could contribute to a vote to leave the EU outright. There are fears, which the elites take lightly, that floods of displaced people will “alter the cultural balance of the country for ever,” as the columnist Melanie Phillips put it in the Times of London. The Gulf states have not offered a home to their Arab and Muslim cousins. Dutch right-wing leader Geert Wilders this week called the wave of migrants an “Islamic invasion” in parliamentary debate, “an invasion that threatens our prosperity, our security, our culture and identity.” A recent poll showed 54% of Dutch voters opposed to welcoming more than the roughly 2,000 refugees previously agreed to. Hungary is building a fence.

 

Reading the popular press of Europe you see the questions. Do we not have a right to control our borders? Isn’t the refugee wave a security threat? ISIS is nothing if not committed to its intentions. Why would they not be funneling jihadists onto those boats? Many things could be done to ease the crisis. States such as Jordan and Lebanon work hard to help refugees in neighboring countries and need help. Humanitarian relief is needed for the internally displaced. Go after the human smugglers, patrol the waters, take in those who are truly fleeing war and truly desire to become a peaceful part of their new, adoptive homes.

 

But here is a problem with Europe’s decision-makers, and it connects to decision-makers in America. Damning “the elites” is often a mindless, phony and manipulative game. Malice and delusion combine to produce the refrains: “Those fancy people in their Georgetown cocktail parties,” “Those left-wing poseurs in their apartments in Brussels.” This is social resentment parading as insight, envy posing as authenticity. But in this crisis talk of “the elites” is pertinent. The gap between those who run governments and those who are governed has now grown huge and portends nothing good.

 

Rules on immigration and refugees are made by safe people. These are the people who help run countries, who have nice homes in nice neighborhoods and are protected by their status. Those who live with the effects of immigration and asylum law are those who are less safe, who see a less beautiful face in it because they are daily confronted with a less beautiful reality—normal human roughness, human tensions. Decision-makers fear things like harsh words from the writers of editorials; normal human beings fear things like street crime. Decision-makers have the luxury of seeing life in the abstract. Normal people feel the implications of their decisions in the particular.

 

The decision-makers feel disdain for the anxieties of normal people, and ascribe them to small-minded bigotries, often religious and racial, and ignorant antagonisms. But normal people prize order because they can’t buy their way out of disorder…

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

                                                                       

 

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SWEDEN’S UGLY IMMIGRATION PROBLEM

Margaret Wente                                                                                                   

Globe & Mail, Sept. 11, 2015

 

In Europe, refugees from Syria and Iraq have been cramming the ferry-trains heading from Germany to Denmark. But once in Denmark, many refused to get off. Where they really want to go is Sweden, where refugee policies are more generous. When the Danes said no, they hopped off the trains, and began heading toward the Swedish border by taxi, bus, and foot.

 

Sweden has the most welcoming asylum policies and most generous welfare programs in the European Union. One typical refugee, Natanael Haile, barely escaped drowning in the Mediterranean in 2013. But the folks back home in Eritrea don’t want to know about the perils of his journey. As he told The New York Times, they want to know about “his secondhand car, the government allowances he receives and his plans to find work as a welder once he finishes a two year language course.” As a registered refugee, he receives a monthly living allowance of more than $700 (U.S.).

 

Sweden’s generous immigration policies are essential to the image of a country that (like Canada) prides itself as a moral superpower. For the past 40 years, most of Sweden’s immigration has involved refugees and family reunification, so much so that the words “immigrant” and “refugee” are synonymous there (unlike in Canada). Sweden takes in more refugees per capita than any other European country, and immigrants – mainly from the Middle East and Africa – now make up about 16 per cent of the population. The main political parties, as well as the mainstream media, support the status quo. Questioning the consensus is regarded as xenophobic and hateful. Now all of Europe is being urged to be as generous as Sweden.

 

So how are things working out in the most immigration-friendly country on the planet? Not so well, says Tino Sanandaji. Mr. Sanandaji is himself an immigrant, a Kurdish-Swedish economist who was born in Iran and moved to Sweden when he was 10. He has a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago and specializes in immigration issues. This week I spoke with him by Skype. “There has been a lack of integration among non-European refugees,” he told me. Forty-eight per cent of immigrants of working age don’t work, he said. Even after 15 years in Sweden, their employment rates reach only about 60 per cent. Sweden has the biggest employment gap in Europe between natives and non-natives.

 

In Sweden, where equality is revered, inequality is now entrenched. Forty-two per cent of the long-term unemployed are immigrants, Mr. Sanandaji said. Fifty-eight per cent of welfare payments go to immigrants. Forty-five per cent of children with low test scores are immigrants. Immigrants on average earn less than 40 per cent of Swedes. The majority of people charged with murder, rape and robbery are either first- or second-generation immigrants. “Since the 1980s, Sweden has had the largest increase in inequality of any country in the OECD,” Mr. Sanandaji said. It’s not for lack of trying. Sweden is tops in Europe for its immigration efforts. Nor is it the newcomers’ fault. Sweden’s labour market is highly skills-intensive, and even low-skilled Swedes can’t get work. “So what chance is there for a 40-year-old woman from Africa?” Mr. Sandaji wondered.

 

Sweden’s fantasy is that if you socialize the children of immigrants and refugees correctly, they’ll grow up to be just like native Swedes. But it hasn’t worked out that way. Much of the second generation lives in nice Swedish welfare ghettos. The social strains – white flight, a general decline in trust – are growing worse. The immigrant-heavy city of Malmo, just across the bridge from Denmark, is an economic and social basket case. Sweden’s generosity costs a fortune, at a time when economic growth is stagnant. The country now spends about $4-billion a year on settling new refugees – up from $1-billion a few years ago, Mr. Sanandaji said. And they keep coming. Sweden automatically accepts unaccompanied minors. “We used to take in 500 unaccompanied minors a year,” he said. “This year we are expecting 12,000.”

 

Yet Sweden’s acute immigration problems scarcely feature in the mainstream media. Journalists see their mission as stopping racism, so they don’t report the bad news. Despite – or perhaps because of – this self-censorship, the gap between the opinion elites and the voters on immigration issues is now a chasm. According to a recent opinion poll, 58 per cent of Swedes believe there is too much immigration, Mr. Sanandaji noted. The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party is now polling at between 20 per cent and 25 per cent.

 

Sweden is a cautionary tale for anyone who believes that Europe is capable of assimilating the hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants who are besieging the continent, or the millions more who are desperately poised to follow in their wake. The argument that these people are vital to boost the economy – that they will magically create economic growth and bail the Europeans out of their demographic decline – is a fantasy.

 

It’s really very simple, Mr. Sanandaji explained. You can’t combine open borders with a welfare state. “If you’re offering generous welfare benefits to every citizen, and anyone can come and use these benefits, then a very large number of people will try to do that. And it’s just mathematically impossible for a small country like Sweden to fund those benefits.” Things will get worse before they get better. As Judy Dempsey, a senior analyst at a Berlin think tank, told The Wall Street Journal, “Europe hasn’t seen anything yet in terms of the numbers or the backlash.”

 

Meanwhile, Sweden’s neighbour, Denmark, has cut the benefits for refugees in half, and has taken out ads in Lebanese newspapers warning would-be migrants to stay home. The Danes don’t want to be a moral superpower. They can’t afford it.                    

 

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THE BOYCOTT: ICELAND’S ANTI-SEMITISM RESURFACES AGAIN                                                   

Manfred Gerstenfeld                  

CIJR, Sept. 24, 2015

 

Recent developments in Iceland fit well in the long history of that country’s anti-Semitism. Last week, the left wing majority on the Reykjavik municipal council decided on a boycott of all Israeli products. In view of the protests, the city’s mayor now wants to replace it with a boycott of settlement goods. There is more of the same. Every year, during the period of Lent before Easter, Icelanders get a daily dose of hymns full of hatred and derision for the Jews, broadcast on Iceland’s public radio station. These hymns were written in the seventeenth century by an Icelandic Christian priest, poet and inciter Hallgrimur Pétturson, many years before the first Jew arrived in Iceland. This ongoing tradition demonstrates how little Iceland has learned from the Holocaust.

 

In 2012, after I had drawn the attention of the Simon Wiesenthal Center to this hateful practice, Rabbi Marvin Hier and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, heads of the Center, wrote to Mr. Pall Magnusson, the General Director of Iceland’s Radio and TV. They mentioned that there were over fifty remarks about Jews in the poems, all negative. They also noted that it is considered a great honor in Iceland to be invited to read a hymn on the program. The many distinguished citizens who had accepted this distinction included a President of Iceland. The following are some examples of the many anti-Semitic slurs in these hymns: The Demand for Crucifixion//The Jewish leaders all decide//That Jesus must be crucified //The Prince of Life their prey must be//The murd'rer set at liberty…

 

At the time, the letter denouncing the hymn-reading practice had no result. With regard to the current boycott, however, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s travel advisory warning Jews not to visit Iceland and the angry reaction of Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, has apparently made more of an impact. Regarding the travel advisory, Rabbi Cooper stated that “when the elected leaders of its main city pass an extreme anti-Israel and anti-Semitic law, we would caution any member of a Jewish community about traveling there.”

 

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has also exposed Iceland’s anti-Semitism on another occasion, in the case of the Nazi war criminal Evald Mikson. At the end of the 1980s, Efraim Zuroff, Director of the Israel branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, tried to bring Mikson to trial for his involvement in the murder of Jews in his native Estonia. Mikson found a warm refuge in Iceland, where his sons played in the national soccer team. Zuroff’s justified appeals for justice against an accomplice to murder led to many Icelandic media attacks against Israel. Mikson himself died shortly after the Estonian  government set up a commission to investigate his war crimes, over 10 years after Zuroff’s initial appeals. Only after Mikson’s death did the investigators find that he had indeed committed atrocities.

 

At that time, during a debate on the Mikson case in parliament, several Icelandic parliamentarians felt they had to comment on the Middle East and on Israel’s policies. One such was Olafur Grimsson, at that time leader of the left-wing People’s Alliance, who condemned Israeli attacks on southern Lebanese towns, and Israel’s “murder” of Hezbollah leader Abbas Musawi. Grimsson has been serving as the ongoing President of Iceland since 1996. Curiously, the First Lady of Iceland is a Jewish woman whom Grimsson married in 2003.

 

The current boycott of Israel was proposed by the Social Democrat Alliance. As part of the 2011 Icelandic government, they had already promised the Palestinians support for their bid for statehood at the next UN General Assembly. Ossur Skarphedinsson, the then Social Democrat Foreign Minister, is known for his frequent snubbing of Israel. During the first Gaza flotilla, some members of parliament suggested imposing sanctions on Israel, to the point of breaking off diplomatic relations. Iceland even refused to receive Minister Yuli Tamir, when she was sent to Europe during the Gaza “Cast Lead” war. Iceland’s 2005 decision to grant citizenship to former world chess champion Bobby Fischer constituted yet another shameful anti-Semitic Icelandic act. Fischer, a rabid anti-Semite of Jewish ancestry was detained in a Japanese prison at the time, and attempting to avoid deportation to the US.

 

Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson, an expert on the history of the Jews and anti-Semitism in Iceland, has written that several Icelandic members of the Waffen SS fought for Nazi Germany, and others served in concentration camps. He added that after the war, various former members of Iceland’s Nazi party quickly “attained high positions in society, including a couple of chiefs of police, a bank director and some doctors.”

 

Vilhjálmsson also describes Iceland’s 1938 deportation of an impoverished German Jewish refugee to Denmark. Icelandic authorities at the time even offered to cover all costs for his expulsion to Nazi Germany if Denmark didn’t want him. Other similar incidents became known in 1997, but did not make headlines in Iceland. In view of all this, one can only hope that even now the Icelandic government has dissociated itself from the boycott and after the boycott will probably be reduced the Wiesenthal Center will maintain its travel ban and will once again expose Iceland’s annual broadcasts of anti-Semitic hymns.

 

Manfred Gerstenfeld is a CIJR Academic Fellow

                                                                       

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THE FRYING PAN AND THE FIRE

Edward Rothstein                       

Wall Street Journal, Sept. 4, 2015

 

Once, the Holocaust had an almost sacral quality: It was approached with fear and trembling as a cataclysm beyond comparison. Now the tendency is to think of it not as something distinctive but as something representative. What, after all, made these killings any more horrific than the tens of millions of others during World War II—on battlefields and in prison camps, in forests and over ditches, in bombed cities and wasted fields? How is the Holocaust different from other genocides? Was Hitler’s murder of six million Jews so different in kind from Stalin’s deliberate terror-famine in the Ukraine in 1932-33 that left three million dead?

 

Such questions lie in the background of the Yale historian Timothy Snyder’s remarkable “Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning,” a book that extends his gripping, somber “Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin” (2010). In that volume’s account of purges, massacres, shootings, starvations, executions and incinerations in Germany, the Soviet Union and the contested lands in between, the Holocaust is but a subset of 14 million gratuitous yet calculated murders. In “Black Earth,” the Holocaust is the focus of attention, but we are never allowed to forget the surrounding charnel house. Mr. Snyder said that in “Bloodlands” he wanted to write a “transnational” history, taking a broad look at events from without rather than from within the world of a particular nation. “Black Earth” takes a similarly broad approach: He does not see the Holocaust as a “war against the Jews”—as the historian Lucy Dawidowicz called it—for which Hitler was prepared to sacrifice ordinary military strategy, but as an extreme example of Hitler’s wide-ranging racial obsessions.

 

One consequence of this approach is that the evil of the Holocaust comes to seem more organically connected to the excruciating barbarity of the bloodlands. It also alters—without eliminating—the nature of its singularity. These issues made some readers of “Bloodlands” uneasy because of a long tradition of Holocaust interpretation that, in its most vulgar form, denies either its extremity or its Jewish particularity. In the postwar Soviet Union, for example, no group, particularly not the Jews, merited special Soviet commemoration—not even at Babi Yar, the ravine outside Kiev where some 34,000 Jews had been lined up and shot by SS troops in 1941. The Soviets treated the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943 as a rebellion by Communists rather than by imprisoned Jews, and they associated the Nazi death camps with the epic martyrdom of Soviets and Poles. And there were plenty of examples: a million residents of Leningrad starved to death during the Nazi siege, 3.1 million Soviet prisoners of war were shot or deliberately starved to death by the invading Germans.

 

A similar resistance to particularity took root in the West as the Holocaust made its way into school curricula, museum exhibitions and popular consciousness. The subject is now usually treated as a prelude to a general discussion of genocide. Broadly prescriptive lessons and homilies are proposed that will, supposedly, make another Holocaust unlikely, urging tolerance or more empathetic attitudes toward minorities. The more Holocaust education there has been, it seems, the more often the Holocaust is casually invoked in trite or meretricious comparisons.

 

Mr. Snyder avoids such pitfalls, and “Black Earth” is mesmerizing. It is not a conventional history. As he surveys what took place, Mr. Snyder highlights lesser known events in order to discover anomalies, phenomena that need exploration or explanation. He begins with a disturbingly vivid foray into Hitler’s mental world. He looks at the prewar attitudes toward Jews, including the eccentric approach of Poland, which was thinking, in the 1920s, of sending Jews to Madagascar and, in the 1930s, actively trained and supported Revisionist Zionist groups in the hope that they would lure Jews to a national home in Palestine. Then the Nazis took over, murdering some three million Polish Jews. In describing the era of these killings, Mr. Snyder is sometimes mordant, often shocked, always probing…

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

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

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On Topic

                                                                                                        

Israel’s 9/11 Memorial from Ground Zero Wreckage – A Must See!: United With Israel, Sept. 17, 2015—The 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza commemorating the victims who died in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, is made partially from steel taken from the wreckage of the Twin Towers and is the only memorial outside the U.S. that includes the names of all who perished in the attacks.

Driven Across Dark Seas and Hostile Lands: The Muslim Refugee Problem and Europe: Frederick Krantz, CIJR, Sept. 21, 2015 —There are two key, related, and little-remarked dimensions of the current Middle Eastern migration crisis. These are, on the one hand,  the almost complete economic and political collapse of the Muslim societies and states furnishing the millions of desperate refugees.   The second dimension of the phenomenon is the immense strains the millions of Moslem refugees are putting on the European Union countries and the notion of a unified Europe and, indeed, on the much-vexed question of a ”European” identify itself.

An Open Letter to Reykjavik, Iceland, On Its Eruption of Anti-Semitism: Abraham H. Miller, JNS, Sept. 18, 2015 —Dear Reykjavik City Council members…You would think that your country, which routinely violates the international ban on commercial whaling—slaughtering 137 last year and turning its nose up at the very notion of endanger species—might not want to assume it has a “moral” role to play in something as long and complex as the Arab-Israeli conflict.

One Morning in Poland: Marci Shore, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 11, 2015 —Jedwabne is a small town in northeastern Poland. In September 1939, Hitler invaded the country, and Jedwabne came under German occupation—before being passed to Stalin a few weeks later and incorporated into Soviet Belarus.

 

 

                                                                      

 

              

RECENT PALESTINIAN VIOLENCE PARTIALLY FUELLED BY PA INCITEMENT AND UN BIAS

 

 

Rabbi Sydney Shoham z”l, Rabbi of Beth Zion Congregation in Montreal, was our spiritual guide and good friend. He officiated at our son’s Bar Mitzvah and other family events.  When we heard the sad news this morning, after being out of town for a few weeks, we immediately began reflecting on what a great and inspiring individual Rabbi Shoham was.  In 2007, shortly after his retirement, while I was co-chair of the Israel Bonds-Business Division, we decided to honor the Rabbi and use the opportunity to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem. Under his resourceful direction and guidance, we put together an unforgettable audio-visual show about Jerusalem and its history. What a pleasure it was to work in a team with Rabbi Shoham, a brilliant scholar and an effective organizer.  We are deeply saddened by his sudden passing:  the Jewish community of Montreal has lost one of its pillars and most beloved spiritual leaders. May his memory be a blessing to us all and at this time we wish to offer Jewel and the extended Shoham family our most sincere condolences. ותנצב"ה  יהי זכרו ברוך .

                    

                    Jacob Kincler, Board Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research

 

[Rabbi Sydney Shoham served as sole spiritual leader of Beth Zion Congregation in Montreal for 50 years—Ed.]

 

 

Basic Protection: Jerusalem Post, Sept. 17, 2015 — Alexander Levlovitz, 64, was not killed in a car crash Sunday night, as some reports over-cautiously phrased it.

UN Bias Encourages Palestinian Violence: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Sept. 20, 2015 — With incidents of Palestinian violence growing in recent weeks, Israelis are wondering now if the Jewish New Year that is just beginning will soon bring with it a new war with Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

The Muslim Schism Over Jerusalem: Pinhas Inbari, JCPA, Sept. 22, 2015— The notion of a “conflict over Jerusalem” immediately brings an association with the Arab-Israeli conflict over the Holy City.

UN Gives Palestinians Flags, But No Democracy: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Sept. 17, 2015 — Last week, the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of a motion allowing the Palestinian flag to be flown in front of the UN buildings.

 

On Topic Links

 

More Than Half of Palestinians Oppose Two-State Solution, Survey Shows: Algemeiner, Sept. 21, 2015

Senior Israeli Official: World Needs to See Through Abbas's 'Charade': Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 24, 2015

Who are Temple Mount's Mourabitoun?: Shlomi Eldar, Al Monitor, Sept. 18, 2015

Obama’s Partners in the PA-PLO and Their American Victims: Michael Lumish, Jewish Press, Aug. 18, 2015

 

                                       

BASIC PROTECTION                                                                                                          

Jerusalem Post, Sept. 17, 2015

 

Alexander Levlovitz, 64, was not killed in a car crash Sunday night, as some reports over-cautiously phrased it. Levlovitz, driving home in Jerusalem from Rosh Hashana dinner, was murdered in cold-blood by Arab stone-throwers whose aim was hardly innocuous. Stone-throwers are terrorists in every sense of the word, and they are out to cause harm – preferably fatal, if they “succeed.”

Hurling rocks at moving vehicles is invariably an extreme act of malice aforethought. There are no pacifist and compassionate stoners. An act of intentional premeditated violence cannot be downplayed as nonviolent and trivialized as frivolous by harried law-enforcers, overworked prosecutors or aloof judges.

There are no scripted, guaranteed conclusions to any stone-throwing incident. Motorists may – as was the case with Levlovitz – suffer a coronary episode and lose control of their car. This doesn’t make the dire outcome the result of a random car accident because the misfortune wasn’t triggered by a medical mishap or by any haphazard misjudgment on part of the driver. In the circumstances of such attacks, there’s no telling which driver might crash and what may transpire as a result. This should be elementary to our judiciary, but evidently it isn’t.

Moreover, such essential context and information must be accentuated relentlessly to foreign news outlets, most of which failed altogether to even mention Levlovitz’s murder. Likewise, there was no condemnation from world leaders who rarely pass up any opportunity to rake Israel over the coals on any pretext. The tendency internationally is often to belittle the crime of stone-throwing and regard it as an expression of youthful exuberance, which is how the Arab communities which send out brainwashed youths to target Jewish traffic like to present things. Unthinkably, stoning Jews has become a popular sport which is glorified in Arab society as heroic.

There’s nothing grassroots or spontaneous about the end-products of systemic and incessant incitement to homicide. Regrettably, the fact that many of the rock-throwers are young puts temptation before our clogged judicial system to process the cases speedily by meting out negligible punishments. Therefore, the latest government initiative to legislate minimal sentencing requirements is nothing less than vital.

Maximum sentencing guidelines exist on our law books – and indeed were rendered more stringent only last July. Yet these don’t oblige judges and don’t mitigate the inclination to dispose of bothersome cases via ludicrously light sentences (some of them, involving only short stints of community service). Significantly, the heaviest sentence imposed this year on a stone-thrower was 22 months, in a case in which a baby was critically wounded. The cumulative total for the crimes committed in that particular incident could have amounted to a 30-year term.

Attacks on innocent travelers mustn’t be belittled merely because the weapon of choice isn’t a firearm. “Cold” projectiles can also kill and they have – too many tragic times. These projectiles aren’t necessarily tiny pebbles, though size shouldn’t count here. Often large rocks are hurled, heavy cement blocks and even outright boulders. Stones, rocks, blocks and boulders all kill.

Back in the 2000 intifada, Bechor Zhan, traveling with his brother south from Haifa on the coastal highway, was murdered by rock-throwing teens from Jisr a-Zarka. In 2001, Yehuda Shoham, just five months old, had his skull crushed by rock-throwers. Asher Palmer, and his infant son, Yonatan, were both killed in 2011 when their car was pelted with stones. Last February, four-year-old Adele Biton died after two agonizing years in which she lay semi-comatose following a March 2013 stoning attack. Arab terrorists hurled rocks at the family car driven by Adele’s mother, Adva. Its passengers were Adva’s three young daughters. As the vehicle passed near Ariel, a hail of rocks caused it to overturn.

Stoning attacks have claimed many more lives over the years and they are ongoing and rampant. Nobody is immune when private and public transport is targeted. The very least which the state and its legal establishment owe the public is basic protection. If this realization must be reinforced by legislation, so be it.  

                                                                       

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UN BIAS ENCOURAGES PALESTINIAN VIOLENCE

Jonathan S. Tobin                                                                                                                 

Commentary, Sept. 20, 2015

 

With incidents of Palestinian violence growing in recent weeks, Israelis are wondering now if the Jewish New Year that is just beginning will soon bring with it a new war with Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Hamas has been hard at work in recent months digging new terror tunnels and fortifying the strip with Iranian assistance. But the decision of the Palestinian Authority and its leader Mahmoud Abbas to try to compete with the Islamists by ramping up tensions in Jerusalem has made a renewal of last year’s fighting an even greater possibility. But rather than seek to calm these tensions, the United States has been largely silent about Abbas’s incitement as well as Iran’s role in stirring up more trouble. Just as troubling is the way the United Nations Security Council has reacted to the dispute over the Temple Mount. Last week, it issued a statement that made it clear the international community has no respect for Jewish rights in the holy city. But it also indicated that it is openly siding with Palestinians who are seeking to use this issue as a way to stir up even more hatred against Israelis and Jews. The willingness of the Obama administration to acquiesce to this disreputable stand shows its untrustworthiness as an ally as well as the dangers that lie ahead for Israel should the president seek to restart peace talks.

 

Any discussion about the Temple Mount must begin with an acknowledgment that Israel has sought to preserve the unsatisfactory status quo whereby the holiest spot in Judaism remains under the sole authority of a Muslim Wakf. Jews are prohibited from praying on the site, a rule enforced by Israeli police. But not even this is enough to satisfy Palestinian radicals who routinely harass non-Muslim visitors and subject Jews who dare to ascend the plateau to constant abuse. Just as bad, the mosques there have been used as staging areas for Arab violence with stones and firebombs stored there. While a minority of Jews has agitated for the right to pray there, the “hardline” Netanyahu has resolutely opposed them. But it has been forced to step in to forestall violence on the Temple Mount, which overlooks the Western Wall Plaza.

 

But as they have done throughout the last century, Palestinian leaders are using the Temple Mount to fuel more hatred by claiming that Jews are trying to destroy the mosques. Even supposed moderate Abbas said this week that he was seeking to prevent “filthy Jewish feet” from desecrating holy places and did so without criticism from the Obama administration that has lauded him as a force for peace. The number of incidents in which Palestinians used firebombs or stones to attack Jews, included one in which a 64-year-old Jewish man was murdered on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, is rising. Not to be outdone, the possibility of Hamas using its massive rocket arsenal to up the ante with both Israel and Abbas’s Fatah Party may bring the region to the brink of another war.

 

Yet faced with this crisis, the UN Security Council issued a statement that both ignored the truth about what is happening on the Temple Mount. The Security Council referred to the Temple Mount — the site of the biblical Holy Temples — upon which Muslim conquerors subsequently built mosques only by its Arabic name, the Haram al-Sharif. This is a blatant denial of both Jewish and Christian ties to the site. Nor did it mention that Palestinians who seek to deny not only Jewish rights but also Jewish history in Jerusalem solely initiated the violence there.

 

It ignored the question of Jewish rights and merely stated that the “Muslim worshippers at the Haram Al-Sharif must be allowed to worship in peace, free from violence, threats, and provocations.” This is absurd since no one is threatening Muslim worshippers there with violence. To the contrary, it is the Palestinians who are threatening the Jews as well as seeking to prevent Jews from exercising their rights.

 

But while this latest example of UN bias against Israel might be dismissed as meaningless, it is actually quite significant. Palestinian leaders seeking to foment a wave of religious hatred against Israel will only be encouraged by this kind of international support to step up their incitement. Moreover, they cannot have failed to note that the United States went along with this sort of one-sided approach to a dispute in which the Palestinians are the ones who are seeking to escalate.

 

This does more than give Abbas an incentive to keep stoking the fires of hate in order to make his faction appear to be as militant as Hamas. It may provide the justification for more terrorism against Jews in Jerusalem or the West Bank that will be viewed by Palestinians as a defense of their religion. Just as last year’s war began with violence in the West Bank, there is always the chance that the same pattern could repeat itself leading to more bloodshed. But even if the cease-fire with Hamas holds and all Abbas will do is to posture and threaten without more violence, this stance on Jerusalem by the UN and the United States is a portent of future diplomatic trouble for Israel.

 

By treating the Temple Mount in this manner, the U.S. is signaling the Palestinians that they need not moderate their stance on seeking Jerusalem’s division should peace talks ever resume. It also illustrates the fallacy behind expecting the Palestinian Authority to respect Jewish rights even in the event that they were prepared to sign a peace agreement. This effort is more proof that the goal of the Palestinians isn’t just to re-partition Jerusalem but rather to deny Jewish claims and evict hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes in the currently undivided city.

 

Of course, that is a purely theoretical problem since Abbas has repeatedly showed that he will not agree to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn. But it does undermine Obama’s rationale for pressuring Israel to bribe the Palestinians to come back to the peace table should that be on the top of his agenda when he meets next with Prime Minister Netanyahu in November.

 

By backing Abbas in his effort to needlessly inflame Muslim sentiments about Jerusalem, the UN and Obama are playing with fire. If the president truly cares about peace, instead of backing Abbas’s incitement, he should be issuing a clear warning to the Palestinians that he will support Israel’s effort to crack down on terror. Anything less than that will constitute a green light to both Fatah and Hamas as they continue pushing the region down the road to more conflict.
                                                                       

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THE MUSLIM SCHISM OVER JERUSALEM                                                                                                

Pinhas Inbari                   

JCPA, Sept. 22, 2015

 

The notion of a “conflict over Jerusalem” immediately brings an association with the Arab-Israeli conflict over the Holy City. Surprisingly, however, amid the systematic destruction of mosques and holy places in the Arab world, it is precisely Israel’s responsibility for security at the mosque compound on the Temple Mount that protects the mosques there from a similar fate. To understand the nature of the danger to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one needs to understand the disputes within the world of Islam over the mosque and over the importance of Jerusalem in general.

 

Islam is divided into the Shia and the Sunna, but the Sunna is also divided into two main groups: the Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood. There are other groups as well, such as the Sufis, but that does not concern us in this discussion.

 

The controversy between the Salafis – from whom Al-Qaeda emerged and who are also known as Wahabis – and the Muslim Brotherhood is about, among other things, what constitutes the center of Islam. Whereas the Salafis view the Arabian sites of Hijaz and Mecca as the center of the faith, the Muslim Brotherhood locates it at the Cairo Al-Azhar University, founded in the year 970 as a center for Islamic studies from which rulings and edicts on Islam and Islamic culture emerge. But because Cairo has no special religious holiness, the Brotherhood regards Jerusalem as their religious center. Thus, from the Salafis’ standpoint, the Muslim Brotherhood’s enhancement of the special status of Jerusalem poses a danger to the status of Mecca.

 

The conflict is not only theoretical and theological but concerns positions of power. In Syria, for example, the Salafi Islamic State is engaged in an outright war with the Nusra Front of the Muslim Brotherhood. [Editor’s note: The author exposes Al Nusra’s affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. Until now, reports suggested Al Nusra was an offshoot of Al-Qaeda.]

 

The theological debate, of course, is undergirded by the political-military struggle between the Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood. One source of the theological disagreements between the two sides is the attitude toward holy places. Whereas the Salafis frown upon the cult of holy places other than Mecca and Medina and destroy such sites systematically – and not only antiquities and shrines of Christianity but Muslim shrines as well – the Muslim Brotherhood accepts the icons of holy places.

 

This religious controversy also involves Jerusalem. “Liberating Al-Aqsa” or “Al-Aqsa is in danger” are main motifs of the Muslim Brotherhood’s preaching throughout the region. Salafis, however, downplay the issue of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa to the point of omitting it altogether. And whereas the Muslim Brotherhood focuses on Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, the Salafis focus on a more immediate goal: “conquering Rome” – that is, the Christian world.

 

Although the Salafis do not state explicitly that they reject the status of Jerusalem in Islam, it can be inferred from where they place their emphases. For example, it appears that there is a Salafi cleric in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, and he has a website called The Blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque. At the site, however, the reference to Al-Aqsa is geographic – the marking of a place. There is no reference to its holiness, only to various religious matters with no discussion of Jerusalem or Al-Aqsa at all.

 

On one of the Facebook pages that reveal Salafi followers’ attitudes, a follower called Abdullah wrote: “One must ask why the Prophet first conquered Mecca and [many other places] before he turned to Jerusalem? Why didn’t the first caliph, Abu Bakr, conquer it? And why did Omar conquer it only after many other conquests? And also, why did Saladin conquer it only after he had defeated the Fatimids in Egypt and spread the Sunni school in Egypt and at Al-Azhar?” For him, Jerusalem was at the bottom of agenda for the Prophet and his successors, and Mecca was at the top. Against this backdrop, the proclamation that the Islamic State disseminated in Jerusalem during the most recent Ramadan should come as no surprise: it did not refer to Al-Aqsa or Jerusalem, but only warned Christians to leave the Muslims’ neighborhoods…                                                                                                                                                 

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

                                                           

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UN GIVES PALESTINIANS FLAGS, BUT NO DEMOCRACY                                                          

Khaled Abu Toameh                              

Gatestone Institute, Sept. 17, 2015

 

 

 

Last week, the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of a motion allowing the Palestinian flag to be flown in front of the UN buildings. The Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership and various "pro-Palestinian" groups have hailed the vote as a "symbolic victory" for the Palestinians. The Palestinian representative to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said that the vote regarding the flag would be "another step" towards solidifying Palestinian statehood.

 

The 119 UN member states that voted in favor of the motion are apparently convinced that this is a "big victory" for the Palestinians and their political aspirations. But what these countries do not know is that flying a Palestinian flag outside UN buildings is probably the last thing Palestinians need at this stage.

 

The vote in favor of hoisting the flag is not going to bring democracy, freedom of expression and transparency to Palestinians. The Palestinians do not need "symbolic victories" such as the one concerning the Palestinian flag. A Palestinian living in the West Bank or Gaza Strip does not really care if his flag is flown in front of a UN building. For Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, there are more urgent matters that need to be dealt with immediately, such as the harsh economic conditions and the repressive measures of the Hamas regime. For those living in the West Bank, economic development, employment and democracy are more important than any flag raised in front of the UN headquarters.

 

But the countries that voted in favor of the motion do not really care about the needs and interests of the Palestinians. They do not care if the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip respectively are functioning as repressive and corrupt regimes that have no respect for human rights or public freedoms. The vote was mainly directed against Israel. Its main goal was to taunt Israel rather than help the Palestinians move closer towards building an independent state. The vote at the UN concerning the Palestinian flag came amid increased human rights violations by both the PA and Hamas. But since when does the UN care about human rights violations committed by the PA and Hamas against their own people?

 

The UN state members that voted in favor of raising the flag pay attention to human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip only when there is a way to lay the blame on Israel. In recent weeks, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have reported a number of incidents that demonstrate how the Palestinian Authority and Hamas continue to show complete disregard for due process, human rights and freedom of expression. These incidents continued even as the 119 UN members raised their hands in favor of the hoisting of the Palestinian flag.

 

In the Gaza Strip, for example, Hamas security officers beat and detained a number of local journalists who tried to cover the removal of debris from homes that were destroyed during last year's military confrontation between Hamas and Israel. One of the journalists, Fadel al-Hamami, was hit in the face with the butt of a rifle and had to rush to a hospital for treatment. Hamas does not want journalists to cover any reconstruction work in the Gaza Strip. It wants the world to continue believing that the Palestinians are still unable to rebuild their houses because of Israeli "restrictions" and lack of international funds. That is why the journalists who tried to cover the removal of the debris were physically assaulted and detained for interrogation.

 

The UN General Assembly, of course, did not hear about this incident when its members voted in favor of raising the Palestinian flag outside its buildings. Even if the UN does hear about it, it is unlikely that the General Assembly or the Security Council would ever issue a statement condemning the assault on representatives of the media. Nor is the UN going to condemn Hamas's use of force to disperse Palestinians protesting against power cuts in the southern Gaza Strip. The lack of electricity has triggered widespread protests throughout the Gaza Strip, where many Palestinians hold the Hamas government fully responsible. Eyewitnesses said Hamas policemen used live ammunition and clubs to disperse the protesters…

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

 

Contents                                                                                                                                               

 

On Topic

                                                                                                        

More Than Half of Palestinians Oppose Two-State Solution, Survey Shows: Algemeiner, Sept. 21, 2015— Fifty-one percent of Palestinians now oppose a two-state solution with Israel, according to the results of a survey conducted among 1,270 people in the West Bank and Gaza from Sept. 17-19 by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

Senior Israeli Official: World Needs to See Through Abbas's 'Charade': Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 24, 2015 — The international community should end the “charade” whereby Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refuses to negotiate with Israel, deliberately creates a crisis, adds to the crisis through inflammatory rhetoric and then pleads to the world to “save us,” a senior government official said on Wednesday night.

Who are Temple Mount's Mourabitoun?: Shlomi Eldar, Al Monitor, Sept. 18, 2015— The battle over the Temple Mount is heating up. It is no longer just an occasional violent clash between Muslims and Jews, but daily battles with increasingly violent and growing numbers of participants. Loyal “soldiers” in “God’s army” are deployed on both sides, willing to sacrifice themselves in the religious war being waged over one of their holy sites.

Obama’s Partners in the PA-PLO and Their American Victims: Michael Lumish, Jewish Press, Aug. 18, 2015 —The Obama administration has asked a judge Monday to “carefully consider” the size of the bond demanded from the Palestinian Authority (PA) for its role orchestrating years of terror attacks against Israelis and Jews – directly interfering in a US court case.

 

 

 

                                                                      

 

              

Manfred Gerstenfeld: THE BOYCOTT: ICELAND’S ANTI-SEMITISM RESURFACES AGAIN

 

 

 

Recent developments in Iceland fit well in the long history of that country’s anti-Semitism. Last week, the left wing majority on the Reykjavik municipal council decided on a boycott of all Israeli products. In view of the protests, the city’s mayor now wants to replace it with a boycott of settlement goods.[1]

 

There is more of the same. Every year, during the period of Lent before Easter, Icelanders get a daily dose of hymns full of hatred and derision for the Jews, broadcast on Iceland’s public radio station. These hymns were written in the seventeenth century by an Icelandic Christian priest, poet and inciter Hallgrimur Pétturson, many years before the first Jew arrived in Iceland. This ongoing tradition demonstrates how little Iceland has learned from the Holocaust.

 

In 2012, after I had drawn the attention of the Simon Wiesenthal Center to this hateful practice, Rabbi Marvin Hier and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, heads of the Center, wrote to Mr. Pall Magnusson, the General Director of Iceland’s Radio and TV. They mentioned that there were over fifty remarks about Jews in the poems, all negative. They also noted that it is considered a great honor in Iceland to be invited to read a hymn on the program. The many distinguished citizens who had accepted this distinction included a President of Iceland.

 

The following are some examples of the many anti-Semitic slurs in these hymns:

 

The Demand for Crucifixion

The Jewish leaders all decide 
That Jesus must be crucified 
The Prince of Life their prey must be 
The murd'rer set at liberty

 

Christ led from the Judgment Hall

The Jewish crowd replied
"Away with Him!" they shouted, 
Their enmity undoubted 
"He must be crucified!"
The righteous law of Moses 
The Jews here misapplied, 
Which their deceit exposes,
Their hatred and their pride.

 

At the time, the letter denouncing the hymn-reading practice had no result. With regard to the current boycott, however, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s travel advisory warning Jews not to visit Iceland and the angry reaction of Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, has apparently made more of an impact. Regarding the travel advisory, Rabbi Cooper stated that “when the elected leaders of its main city pass an extreme anti-Israel and anti-Semitic law, we would caution any member of a Jewish community about traveling there.”[2]

 

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has also exposed Iceland’s anti-Semitism on another occasion, in the case of the Nazi war criminal Evald Mikson. At the end of the 1980s, Efraim Zuroff, Director of the Israel branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, tried to bring Mikson to trial for his involvement in the murder of Jews in his native Estonia. Mikson found a warm refuge in Iceland, where his sons played in the national soccer team. Zuroff’s justified appeals for justice against an accomplice to murder led to many Icelandic media attacks against Israel. Mikson himself died shortly after the Estonian  government set up a commission to investigate his war crimes, over 10 years after Zuroff’s initial appeals. Only after Mikson’s death did the investigators find that he had indeed committed atrocities.[3]

 

At that time, during a debate on the Mikson case in parliament, several Icelandic parliamentarians felt they had to comment on the Middle East and on Israel’s policies. One such was Olafur Grimsson, at that time leader of the left-wing People’s Alliance, who condemned Israeli attacks on southern Lebanese towns, and Israel’s “murder” of Hezbollah leader Abbas Musawi. Grimsson has been serving as the ongoing President of Iceland since 1996. Curiously, the First Lady of Iceland is a Jewish woman whom Grimsson married in 2003.

The current boycott of Israel was proposed by the Social Democrat Alliance. As part of the 2011 Icelandic government, they had already promised the Palestinians support for their bid for statehood at the next UN General Assembly. Ossur Skarphedinsson, the then Social Democrat Foreign Minister, is known for his frequent snubbing of Israel. During the first Gaza flotilla, some members of parliament suggested imposing sanctions on Israel, to the point of breaking off diplomatic relations. Iceland even refused to receive Minister Yuli Tamir, when she was sent to Europe during the Gaza “Cast Lead” war.[4]

 

Iceland’s 2005 decision to grant citizenship to former world chess champion Bobby Fischer constituted yet another shameful anti-Semitic Icelandic act. Fischer, a rabid anti-Semite of Jewish ancestry was detained in a Japanese prison at the time, and attempting to avoid deportation to the US.[5]

 

Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson, an expert on the history of the Jews and anti-Semitism in Iceland, has written that several Icelandic members of the Waffen SS fought for Nazi Germany, and others served in concentration camps. He added that after the war, various former members of Iceland’s Nazi party quickly “attained high positions in society, including a couple of chiefs of police, a bank director and some doctors.”

 

Vilhjálmsson also describes Iceland’s 1938 deportation of an impoverished German Jewish refugee to Denmark. Icelandic authorities at the time even offered to cover all costs for his expulsion to Nazi Germany if Denmark didn’t want him. Other similar incidents became known in 1997, but did not make headlines in Iceland.[6]

 

In view of all this, one can only hope that even now the Icelandic government has dissociated itself from the boycott and after the boycott will probably be reduced the Wiesenthal Center will maintain its travel ban and will once again expose Iceland’s annual broadcasts of anti-Semitic hymns.

 

 



[1] Herb Keinon, “Iceland's capital votes to boycott all Israeli products,” The Jerusalem Post, 16 September 2015.

 

[2] “Wiesenthal Center tells Jews not to go to Reykjavik,” Times of Israel, 18 September 2015.

[3] Efraim Zuroff, ”One who Got Away,” The Jerusalem Post, 17 January 2010.

[4] Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Iceland against Israel,” Ynetnews, 18 July 2011.

[5] Sarah Lyall, “Iceland Granting Citizenship to Bobby Fischer, Held in Japan,” New York Times, 22 March  2005.

[6] Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson, “Iceland, the Jews, and Anti-Semitism 1625-2004,” in Manfred Gerstenfeld (ed.) Behind the Humanitarian Mask. The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews (Jerusalem, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, 2008) 219-239.

 

YOM KIPPUR 5776: “KEEP SACRED THE WORDS AND COMMITMENTS WE HAVE GIVEN”

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.

 

Keeping Your Word: Rabbi Asher Jacobson, CIJR,  Sept. 22, 2015 — One of the finest virtues we can ever achieve in our lives is when our word is our bond.

What Chapter Will We Write in the Book of Life?: Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Arutz Sheva, Sept. 22, 2015 — In 1888, Alfred Nobel, the man who invented dynamite, was reading his morning papers when, with a shock, he found himself reading his own obituary.

Driven Across Dark Seas and Hostile Lands: The Muslim Refugee Problem and Europe: Frederick Krantz, CIJR, Sept. 21, 2015— There are two key, related, and little-remarked dimensions of the current Middle Eastern migration crisis.

The Modern Left’s Moral Rot: Evelyn Gordon, Commentary, Sept. 22, 2015 — Israeli journalist Amira Hass has finally explained a mystery that long puzzled me: how the European Union manages to reconcile its policy on the Middle East with its self-image as a champion of morality, human rights, and compassion.

 

On Topic Links

 

This Yom Kippur, We Face Apocalyptic Times: Pini Dunner, Algemeiner,  Sept. 21, 2015

The Day of Renewed Partnership – Yom Kippur: Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 21, 2015

Why Do Muslims Flock to The "Evil West"?: Burak Bekdil, Gatestone Institute, Sept. 22, 2015

 

                                                

KEEPING YOUR WORD                                                                                           

Rabbi Asher Jacobson

CIJR, Sept. 22, 2015

 

One of the finest virtues we can ever achieve in our lives is when our word is our bond.

 

I will never forget when the business of one of our dear members deteriorated. He had the opportunity in civil law to declare bankruptcy but refused; instead, he ensured that every one of his creditors was paid in full.  Understandably, his family opposed his decision, it took him six years to discharge his debts, and he suffered much loss–but his word was good as gold, and his integrity shone through.

 

Years later, at his funeral, the accolade showered upon him with much admiration by each of his children and grandchildren was that he was a man of true honour, a man of his word! Sadly, there are too few such great individuals today, and the inability of people to keep their commitments is a great weakness of our generation.

 

The Torah declares, "You must fulfill what has crossed your lips and perform what you have vowed" (Deut. 23:24). Maimonides explains, "By this injunction, we are commanded to fulfill every obligation that we have taken upon ourselves by word-of-mouth”.  This is why in Jewish law a committed word is equal to a signed contract.

 

The most famous Biblical example of keeping a long-standing word was Moses’ taking Joseph's bones with him at the Exodus from Egypt. Centuries earlier, Joseph had extracted an oath from his brothers, saying, "When G-d will surely remember you, and you shall bring up my bones from here and take them with you.”  On the day the Jews left Egypt, Moses kept the commitment to Joseph that had been made not by him, but by his ancestors; nonetheless, the Bible tells us "he (Moses) took with him the bones of Joseph"(Exodus 13:19)

 

In life, when we make a verbal commitment, we must abide by it.  Moreover, we should not say the opposite of what we feel.  The Talmud teaches that among those whom G-d hates is "one who says one thing with his mouth, while meaning another thing with his heart.” (Pesachim 113b) It is rare that we see the construction “G-d hates”.  What is it about lying and being hypocritical, that elicits such a reaction? The Kabbalists understood words not as dictionary definitions, but as living entities: every word we utter is a creative force that stands with or against us.

 

In Genesis, we learn that all of creation was brought into existence through the power of words, (“B`asara Mamorot Nivra Haolam”) Chazal teaches, “The seal of G-d is truth” (Yoma 69b), all of life is therefore sustained by words of truth.  When a person who is made in the image of G-d and is given powers that resemble the powers of the creator utilises words in falsehood, that is not only abuse of the gift but an affront to the very words that are sustaining that individual’s life.

 

Rabbi Yosi ben Judah said, “Let your ‘yes’ be yes, let your ‘no’ be no”.  In other words, let your yes be honest, but let your no be honest too. (Bava Mazia 49a)  

 

The virtue of keeping our word must begin when we are small children.  The Talmud says one should not promise a child something, and then not give it to him, because, as a result, the child will learn to lie.  (Sukkah 46b) When unfulfilled promises occur often enough, our children will eventually conclude that this is how the real world works, that even when we assure someone we're going to do something for them, there's no need to follow through on our word.

 

There is a great legend in the Talmud that describes a conversation that every soul has with God before descending into this world, "Tehee Tzadik Ve al Tehee Rasha", We give our word to G-d that we will strive to be righteous and not be wicked.

 

At this upcoming Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur let us make a resolution to keep sacred the words and commitments that we have given to our loved ones, business associates and friends.  Let us learn so to lead our lives that we fulfill our pledges and vows, especially the one that our soul gave to G-d when being granted the gift of life, so that we can say, with honor, that our word was our bond.

 

Lieba and I and the entire Jacobson family wish for all of our members and friends to be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life and granted G-d`s favor for good health and prosperity.

 

Shana Tovah Umetukah     

 

(Rabbi Jacobson is the spiritual leader of Congregation Chevra Kadisha B’nai Jacob in Montreal)

                       

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                                

   

WHAT CHAPTER WILL WE WRITE IN THE BOOK OF LIFE?                                                                

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks                                                                                        

Arutz Sheva, Sept. 22, 2015

 

In 1888, Alfred Nobel, the man who invented dynamite, was reading his morning papers when, with a shock, he found himself reading his own obituary. It turned out that a journalist had made a simple mistake. It was Nobel’s brother who had died.

What horrified Nobel was what he read. It spoke about “the dynamite king” who had made a fortune from explosives. Nobel suddenly realised that if he did not change his life, that was all he would be remembered for. At that moment he decided to dedicate his fortune to creating five annual prizes for those who’d made outstanding contributions in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace. Nobel chose to be remembered not for selling weapons of destruction but for honouring contributions to human knowledge. The question Yom Kippur forces on us is not so much “Will we live?” but “How will we live?” For what would we wish to be remembered?

On this day of days we are brutally candid: “Before I was formed, I was unworthy, and now that I have been formed it is as if I had not been formed. Dust I am in my life, how much more so in my death.” Yet the same faith that inspired those words also declared that we should see ourselves and the world as if equally poised between merit and guilt, and that our next act could tilt the balance, for my life and for the world (Maimonides, Laws of Repentance 3: 4). Judaism lives in this dialect between our smallness and our potential greatness. We may be dust, but within us are immortal longings.

Yom Kippur invites us to become better than we were in the knowledge that we can be better than we are. That knowledge comes from God. I remember as a student hearing a witty put-down of a brash business tycoon: “He is a self-made man, thereby relieving God of a great responsibility.” If we are only self-made, we live within the prison of our own limitations. The truly great human beings are those who have opened themselves to the inspiration of something greater than themselves.

“Wherever you find God’s greatness,” said Rabbi Johanan, “there you find His humility.” Yom Kippur is about the humility that leads to greatness: our ability to say, over and over again, “We have sinned” and yet know that this is not a maudlin self-abasement, but rather, the prelude to greater achievement in the future, the way a champion in any sport, a maestro in any field, reviews his or her past mistakes as part of their preparation for the next challenge, the next rung to climb.

Jews had a genius for spiritual greatness. Even Sigmund Freud, hostile as he was to religion in general, could not but express admiration in the last book he wrote, Moses and Monotheism, for the way Judaism produced not one charismatic figure but generation after generation of them. The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, even more ambivalent about his Jewish ancestry, wrote in his notebook in 1931, “Amongst Jews ‘genius’ is found only in the holy man.” Jews had this genius not because they are better than others – sometimes, reading the prophets, you get the impression that the opposite was sometimes true – but because they worked harder at it. The Hebrew word for serving God, Avodah, also means “hard work.”…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

   

DRIVEN ACROSS DARK SEAS AND HOSTILE LANDS:

THE MUSLIM REFUGEE PROBLEM AND EUROPE                                                                         

Frederick Krantz                                     

CIJR, Sept. 21, 2015

 

There are two key, related, and little-remarked dimensions of the current Middle Eastern migration crisis. These are, on the one hand,  the almost complete economic and political collapse of the Muslim societies and states furnishing the millions of desperate refugees.   The second dimension of the phenomenon is the immense strains the millions of Moslem refugees are putting on the European Union countries and the notion of a unified Europe and, indeed, on the much-vexed question of a ”European” identify itself.

 

The migrants are coming above all from a disintegrating Syria, but also from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Eritrea, Morocco, Tunisia,  Egypt, and other countries. Millions of refugees are already in under-funded camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, and hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Muslim failed states are risking their lives to reach Europe. For the latter (generally with more money than the refugee camp residents) their first stops after Turkey are in southern Europe (Greece, Italy, southern France, followed by journeys to points northwest(through Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Hungary to the promised lands of Germany, Sweden, and Austria. (Another route winds from Libya to France to Belgium, the Netherlands and (via Calais) to Great Britain.)

 

These desperate people—almost 440,000 so far this year, according to the UN–, largely young adult males but also including whole families and young couples with infants, cross treacherous waters from Turkey and North Africa to reach Italian, Greek and French ports, on flimsy boats and inflatable dinghies, often capsizing before reaching safety (almost 3,000 have already died this year). Western consciences, long dormant in regard to the refugees—in Syria, the civil war and its refugee tide is, after all, now in its fifth year–have finally been touched by the recent, tragic pictures of Ayan Kurdi, the three-year-old who drowned off Turkey with his five-year-old brother and mother. 

 

The European Union states, wholly unprepared for the onslaught and without a common policy or enforcement mechanism, are overwhelmed. UN refugee funding this year is only 37% of the estimated $4.5 billion need; its World Food Program is 63% underfunded, and available monies for Syrian relief are only 43% of requirement; the World Health Organization stands at only 27% of need. These figures are somewhat offset by Germany, which has said it would budget $4.5 billion in 2015, and by the EU, which is asking member-=states to allocate $1.1 billion for 160,000 refugees.  Even so, needs are immense and increasing, and total available funds are scarce.

 

Already concerned with ever-increasing and partially unassimilated domestic Muslim populations, all but Germany and Sweden have resisted taking in additional tens of thousands of migrants. (The recent emergency European Union conference, called by Angela Merkel, to spread responsibility around by assigning shared quotas to all EU states, has failed over Hungarian-led eastern European resistance.)

 

Remarkably, Germany, the major exception, initially announced it would admit over 800,000 migrants this year alone (1% of its population). Berlin’s motives are variously attributed, to an inherited, compensatory guilt over the Nazi period, to a sense as Europe’s most powerful state, of economic and political noblesse oblige, to an aging population’s less-than-replacement rate and desperate need for young skilled and semi-skilled labor.

 

Indeed, Germany’s readiness to violate the EU’s “Dublin regulations” for the orderly processing of refugee claims (registration, processing, and internment in the first country of refuge) was denounced by Prime Minister Orban of Hungary. Quickly putting up razor-wire fences to block access to the tens of thousands of migrants, even as he pronounced the need to preserve Hungary’s (and Europe’s) “Christian heritage” from being swamped by the Muslim tidal-wave, Orban blamed Berlin’s open-door policy for creating the crisis in the first place.)

 

While the total world refugee population has been estimated at ca.37 million, Europe currently is looking at a potential flow of several million predominantly Muslim people annually (currently, Syrian refugees constitute the lion’s share, 51%, with Afghans second at 15%, followed by Iraqis and others). When tens of thousands piled up in and around Budapest, the conservative-nationalist regime there built its razor-wire walls to shut off the flow across its territory to Austria. (Now Croatia, which initially announced it would allow transit, connecting the flow to Slovenia and hence to northern Europe, has also reneged and closed its borders, creating a crisis in the formerly “borderless” (Schengen Agreement) European Union.       

 

Some years ago French-Jewish scholar Bat Ye’or wrote a study of Muslim immigration to France and Europe called "Eurabia". She argued that a kind of deal, explicit and implicit, between Western states and Arab regimes—acceptance of large-scale Muslim immigration in Europe in return for Western investment in the Middle East states—would change the face of the Old Continent. The result would be increasingly culturally mixed, and increasingly antisemitic and anti-Israel, European societies.

 

That vision has largely been realized, and in some ways even Bat Ye’or probably could not have envisioned. Who could have foreseen the total failure of the so-called “Arab Spring”, and the terrible ensuing, and ongoing, civil wars in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and Somalia (not to mention conflicts in Nigeria [Boko Haram], Mali, Kenya, Algeria, and so on)? And how have predicted the further destabilizing impacts of the American pull-out from the region (engineered by Obama, Kerry and Hillary Clinton, and concretely sealed by the recent nuclear “deal” with Iran); of the Russian intervention in support of Assad in Syria (now radicalized by the introduction of jet fighters and tanks); and of Iran’s intervention in Syria (using Hezbollah proxies) and in Yemen.

 

What is truly remarkable in all this, and again rarely remarked upon, is the evident attraction of Western secular (and formally/formerly Christian) Europe to the Muslim-world migrants and refugees. It is largely the relatively educated and fairly comfortable Syrian and other middle-class migrants, who have the money for travel, food, illegal smugglers, and the cellphones which keep them in touch with one another and the families left behind…                                                                                                                                          

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

             

(Professor Frederick Krantz is Director of  the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)

                                                                                   

Contents                                                                                     

   

THE MODERN LEFT’S MORAL ROT                                                                                       

Evelyn Gordon                             

Commentary, Sept. 22, 2015

 

Israeli journalist Amira Hass has finally explained a mystery that long puzzled me: how the European Union manages to reconcile its policy on the Middle East with its self-image as a champion of morality, human rights, and compassion. In one short sentence, she neatly encapsulates the moral rot at the heart of the modern multicultural left: “We don’t rate suffering.”

 

The great European mystery is the fact that the Syrian conflict remains far below the Palestinian-Israeli one on Europe’s foreign policy agenda, even though on both moral and practical grounds, the Syrian crisis clearly deserves precedence. Not only has it killed more than 10 times as many people in four years as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has in seven decades, but it’s currently flooding Europe with refugees and creating, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted, an even greater threat to European unity than the euro crisis.

 

Nor can this order of priorities be excused by claiming Western helplessness in Syria: Pundits as ideologically diverse as Commentary’s Max Boot and the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof agree that no-fly zones could enable most Syrians to remain safely in their homeland. Enter Hass, a Haaretz columnist, red-diaper baby, and disciple of hard-left theory who is best known for her radical pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel views. Two weeks ago, she published acolumn that compares and contrasts the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba, a term she uses to mean everything Palestinians have suffered due to their conflict with Israel for the last 70 years. She graciously acknowledges that the two aren’t equivalent, inter alia because the Nazis perpetrated genocide while Israel has done no such thing. But then she explains why this non-equivalence doesn’t really matter:

 

No one has the right to compare in any way the suffering of peoples and human beings, or to quantify it, rank it, calculate it … We don’t quantify. We don’t rate suffering. This, in a nutshell, is the moral abdication at the heart of today’s multicultural left: In its ostensibly noble desire to ensure that no suffering goes unnoticed or unattended, it has abandoned the very essence of morality – the ability to draw distinctions, which is essential to make moral choices.

 

In an ideal world, all suffering would be alleviated. But in the real world, with its finite resources of time, energy, and money, choices must be made. And there’s no moral way to decide which causes deserve priority without doing precisely what Hass deems morally untenable – rating suffering. Essentially, it requires a moral version of triage: Suffering we can alleviate merits greater attention than suffering we can’t; suffering that’s more intense or widespread merits greater attention than suffering that’s less intense or widespread; the suffering of innocents merits greater attention than the suffering of the guilty; and when these three indicators don’t all point in the same direction, they must be weighed against each other as well.

 

On the most basic level, we do this instinctively: If, for instance, a cop saw an attempted murder and an attempted robbery happening simultaneously, we’d expect him to focus on preventing the murder rather than the robbery. But at any level more complex than that, intellect comes into play. And the intellectual principles of the modern multicultural left dictate that, “We don’t rate suffering.”

 

But if so, then we have no moral obligation to alleviate the greater suffering rather than the lesser one, because we can’t determine which is which. And thus the left can justify resorting instead to a criterion whose immorality ought to be patent, but which has the virtue of being easily determinable: not how much suffering is caused, but who caused it. No moral person would deem an individual murder more or less important based solely on whether the perpetrator was, say, French or British. But it has become completely morally tenable in Europe to consider wartime deaths more or less important depending on whether they can or can’t be blamed on Israel (or America).

 

Since we can’t rate suffering, it’s completely reasonable for millions of Europeans to demonstrate against a war that killed 2,000 people in Gaza last summer but not against a war that has killed 250,000 in Syria. Since we can’t rate suffering, it’s completely reasonable for the Reykjavik municipality to decide last week that it will boycott Israel but not Syria or its Russian and Iranian enablers. Since we can’t rate suffering, it’s completely reasonable that when the EU’s top foreign policy official addressed the European parliament last week, her office’s website billed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as her top agenda item while the Syrian conflict didn’t even make the list. And on, and on.

 

In a fascinating article in The Spectator this weekend, veteran leftist Nick Cohen described “Why I’ve finally given up on the left,” sickened by the moral rot epitomized by the Labour Party’s new leader, Jeremy Corbin. But leftists like Cohen can’t combat the rot in their own camp without understanding why it has set in – the fundamental abandonment of moral calculus so aptly summed up by Hass. As a very different Israeli leftist, Amos Oz, presciently warned in June, “Anyone who cannot rank different degrees of evil may end up a servant of evil.”

 

                                    CIJR wishes you an easy fast and meaningful Yom Kippur Holiday!

 

Contents                                                                                                                                               

 

On Topic

                                                                                                        

This Yom Kippur, We Face Apocalyptic Times: Pini Dunner, Algemeiner,  Sept. 21, 2015—More and more, I am beginning to feel that we live in apocalyptic times.

The Day of Renewed Partnership – Yom Kippur: Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 21, 2015 —On Yom Kippur, we will all stand in synagogues; all of us together – but also each and every one of us individually.

Why Do Muslims Flock to The "Evil West"?: Burak Bekdil, Gatestone Institute, Sept. 22, 2015—"The tragedy of the Palestinians," Jordan's (late) King Abdullah wrote in his memoirs, "was that most of their leaders had paralyzed them with false and unsubstantiated promises that they were not alone; that 80 million Arabs and 400 million Muslims would instantly and miraculously come to their rescue."

 

 

                                                                      

 

              

Rabbi Asher Jacobson: Keeping Your Word

 

 

 

 

One of the finest virtues we can ever achieve in our lives is when our word is our bond.

 

I will never forget when the business of one of our dear members deteriorated. He had the opportunity in civil law to declare bankruptcy but refused; instead, he ensured that every one of his creditors was paid in full.  Understandably, his family opposed his decision, it took him six years to discharge his debts, and he suffered much loss–but his word was good as gold, and his integrity shone through.

 

Years later, at his funeral, the accolade showered upon him with much admiration by each of his children and grandchildren was that he was a man of true honour, a man of his word!

 

Sadly, there are too few such great individuals today, and the inability of people to keep their commitments is a great weakness of our generation.

 

The Torah declares, "You must fulfill what has crossed your lips and perform what you have vowed" (Deut. 23:24). Maimonides explains, "By this injunction, we are commanded to fulfill every obligation that we have taken upon ourselves by word-of-mouth”.  This is why in Jewish law a committed word is equal to a signed contract.

 

The most famous Biblical example of keeping a long-standing word was Moses’ taking Joseph's bones with him at the Exodus from Egypt. Centuries earlier, Joseph had extracted an oath from his brothers, saying, "When G-d will surely remember you, and you shall bring up my bones from here and take them with you.”  On the day the Jews left Egypt, Moses kept the commitment to Joseph that had been made not by him, but by his ancestors; nonetheless, the Bible tells us "he (Moses) took with him the bones of Joseph"(Exodus 13:19)

 

In life, when we make a verbal commitment, we must abide by it.  Moreover, we should not say the opposite of what we feel.  The Talmud teaches that among those whom G-d hates is "one who says one thing with his mouth, while meaning another thing with his heart.”  (Pesachim 113b)

 

It is rare that we see the construction “G-d hates”.  What is it about lying and being hypocritical, that elicits such a reaction? 

 

The Kabbalists understood words not as dictionary definitions, but as living entities: every word we utter is a creative force that stands with or against us.

 

In Genesis, we learn that all of creation was brought into existence through the power of words, (“B`asara Mamorot Nivra Haolam”) Chazal teaches, “The seal of G-d is truth” (Yoma 69b), all of life is therefore sustained by words of truth.  When a person who is made in the image of G-d and is given powers that resemble the powers of the creator utilises words in falsehood, that is not only abuse of the gift but an affront to the very words that are sustaining that individual’s life. 

 

Rabbi Yosi ben Judah said, “Let your ‘yes’ be yes, let your ‘no’ be no”.  In other words, let your yes be honest, but let your no be honest too. (Bava Mazia 49a)

 

The virtue of keeping our word must begin when we are small children.  The Talmud says one should not promise a child something, and then not give it to him, because, as a result, the child will learn to lie.  (Sukkah 46b)

 

When unfulfilled promises occur often enough, our children will eventually conclude that this is how the real world works, that even when we assure someone we're going to do something for them, there's no need to follow through on our word.

 

There is a great legend in the Talmud that describes a conversation that every soul has with God before descending into this world, "Tehee Tzadik Ve al Tehee Rasha", We give our word to G-d that we will strive to be righteous and not be wicked.

 

At this upcoming Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur let us make a resolution to keep sacred the words and commitments that we have given to our loved ones, business associates and friends.  Let us learn so to lead our lives that we fulfill our pledges and vows, especially the one that our soul gave to G-d when being granted the gift of life, so that we can say, with honor, that our word was our bond.

 

Lieba and I and the entire Jacobson family wish for all of our members and friends to be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life and granted G-d`s favor for good health and prosperity.

 

                             Shana Tovah Umetukah      

  

(Rabbi Jacobson is the spiritual leader of Congregation Chevra Kadisha B’nai Jacob in Montreal)

 

ISRAEL & IDF RESPOND TO REGIONAL MILITARY DEVELOPMENTS— IRAN “DEAL”, U.S. WITHDRAWAL, RUSSIA’S DIRECT SYRIAN INVOLVEMENT

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.

 

Israeli Strategic Challenges and Opportunities in the New Year: Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, BESA, Sept. 16, 2015 — Global upheaval is upon us. Europe is being flooded by refugees fleeing dysfunctional Africa and the disintegrating Middle East, and the influx, which it is struggling to deal with, may change Europe’s cultural and social fabric.

Putin in Syria: Lee Smith, Weekly Standard, Sept. 28, 2015 — Even now with the Russians on the verge of combat operations in Syria, the White House still says it believes that they’re there to fight ISIS.

The New Multi-year Plan of the IDF and the Agreement with Iran: Amir Rapaport, Israel Defense, Sept. 9, 2015— Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Moscow Monday with military chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot to try to achieve coordination and understanding with Russia, which has become an actor and military force in the Syrian war.

The Gideon Doctrine: The Changing Middle East and IDF Strategy: Yossi Melman, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 13, 2015 — In mid-July, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot met with military reporters and briefed them off the record on the latest local and regional developments.

 

On Topic Links

 

Russia in Syria, Threats and Opportunities for Israel: Ron Ben-Yishai, I24, Sept. 21, 2015

In Rare Move, Netanyahu to Bring Army Chiefs to Meet Putin in Moscow: Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 21, 2015

Trading Horses With Putin: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 17, 2015 

Going it Alone: Israel's Cold War with Iran: Ari Sofer, Arutz Sheva, Sept. 9, 2015

 

                             

ISRAELI STRATEGIC CHALLENGES

AND OPPORTUNITIES IN THE NEW YEAR                                                                            

Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror

Besa, Sept. 16, 2015

 

Global upheaval is upon us. Europe is being flooded by refugees fleeing dysfunctional Africa and the disintegrating Middle East, and the influx, which it is struggling to deal with, may change Europe’s cultural and social fabric. The fluctuations in China’s economy resonate through global economy, all while Beijing is striving to increase its influence in the South China Sea. And Russia, plagued by economic troubles of its own, refuses to loosen its grip on Ukraine, even at the cost of economically crippling Western sanctions.

 

The Middle East is changing dramatically. Nations are disintegrating, their residents are fleeing, and its rulers are wary of the future, which is clouded by growing Iranian power that troubles both the Sunni states and Israel. The terrorism wielded by radical Islamist groups is drenching the Muslim world in blood as they overrun it, and it threatens the rest of the world, courtesy of “imported” jihadists, who are trained in Syria and Iraq before returning to their homelands.

 

Nevertheless, is seems world powers understand their mutual responsibility for world peace. Wary of seeing international tensions spiral out of control, they try to downplay their differences on global issues, so not to agitate an already volatile situation further.

 

Examples of this can be seen in the prudence exercised by Washington and Beijing regarding the dispute ranging between China and its neighbors over tiny islands in the China Sea; in the patience the world is showing Russia, whose foreign policy tactics breach acceptable norms; and in the EU’s efforts to keep Greece a part of the 28-member union, so not to undermine the framework that has been sustaining Europe peacefully since World War II. On the other hand, recent developments underscore the lack of true leadership among global powers, as there is no one who seems to know what can be done to avoid or overcome these crises.

 

Several issues seem to be shaping the global theater at this point in time. It seems the most prominent change is the growing feeling within the international community that the United States is slowly backing away from its role as the free world’s leader, a role it has been shouldering for the past century. This shift in U.S. policy is seen as the source of the troubles plaguing the world, from Beijing to Saudi Arabia. As a result, countries that in the past were wary of antagonizing the U.S. for fear of retaliation are now seeing its reluctance to intervene globally as their chance to improve their position in the international theater, and to aggressively promote their interest. Reality will present the U.S. with challenges that mandate its involvement, reluctant as it may be. Fighting the Islamic State group is one of these challenges.

 

Another change involves the global energy market. The U.S. enjoys near-independence when it comes to meeting its own energy needs, and this change has inspired some of its ability to reduce its involvement in world events. Oil prices have plummeted, causing the economies dependent on it, such as Venezuela and Russia, to encounter serious financial difficulties. Even Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, has been affected, and it is already dipping into its cash reserves. Exploration ventures striking oil and natural gas in new locations worldwide are shaping what seems to be a global economic trend. Most major energy exporters depend on oil prices and a sharp drop in barrel prices could potentially bring some economies to the brink of collapse…

 

The current Jewish year has ended against the backdrop of the nuclear agreement reached between world powers and Iran. As things stand it is hard to predict whether this deal will breed a positive change, in the form of Iran abandoning its nuclear program, or if it will be used as a poor excuse for the West to ease the pressure off Tehran, foster closer ties with the Islamic republic, and acquiescing with its becoming a nuclear regional power.

 

Iran has made it perfectly clear that what little has changed in its nuclear policies will not affect other areas, and that it will continue to support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, and arm Hezbollah and Hamas. It has stated that it remains committed to eradicating the “Zionist entity,” as well as its ambition to establish its hegemony over the “Shiite Crescent,” a region of the Middle East where the majority population is Shiite, stretching from Tehran through Baghdad to Damascus and Beirut. It remains to be seen if any of Iran’s policies will be mitigated by the nuclear deal, as the West hopes. Since chances for that are slim, Israel will have to devise new methods to generate deterrence opposite Iran.

 

The bloody civil war in Syria, in which tens of thousands have been killed and millions have been displaced, rages on with no end in sight. The tragedy has been compounded by the introduction of Islamic State to the sphere, and the jihadi terrorist group has already overrun parts of Syria and Iraq. Despite U.S. President Barack Obama’s determination to annihilate Islamic State, and some partial coalition successes against IS, overall the effort thus far has proven ineffective. Various terrorist groups in Nigeria, the Sinai Peninsula, Asia and Libya have affiliated themselves with Islamic State this year, allowing it to gain momentum, and fueling its desire to expand.

 

Assad has become increasingly dependent on external elements – Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia – for his survival. The end of his regime will be a stipulation of any cease-fire or peace deal brokered in Syria, and world powers are eager for the fighting to end so they can turn their full attention to the war on Islamic State.

 

Israel has so far refrained from intervening in the Syrian civil war, limiting its actions to retaliation over terrorist attacks on the northern border, and to blocking the transfer of game-changing weapons to Hezbollah. The Shiite terrorist group is heavily involved in the conflict raging in Syria, making it hard for it to train its sight on Israel. Hezbollah may be using this time to bolster its weapons arsenal and fighting capabilities, but the threat of the next Israel-Hezbollah conflict is not imminent. Barring a major shift in the balance in power in Syria, a shift that would entrench a regime that is even more dominated by Hezbollah and Iran, there is no reason for Israel to change its policy…

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

 

                                                           

Contents                                                                                                

   

PUTIN IN SYRIA                                                                                                                 

Lee Smith            

Weekly Standard, Sept. 28, 2015

 

Even now with the Russians on the verge of combat operations in Syria, the White House still says it believes that they’re there to fight ISIS. John Kerry says that his Russian counterpart told him that the Russians are “only interested in fighting” the Islamic State. Other administration officials hold out hope for a grand U.S.-Russia coalition against ISIS. But that’s nonsense: Vladimir Putin landed troops in order to protect his investment in Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad.

 

The White House should know better, because no matter what U.S. officials say about fighting the Islamic State, Obama’s underlying goal in Syria is the same as Putin’s—to protect Assad. That aligns Washington with Moscow—and with Iran, as it happens—and pits all against Israel, which sees the Iranian axis as an existential threat. Well, as critics of the U.S.-Israel relationship are quick to note, Israeli and American interests often diverge. That’s certainly the case here, with the Obama administration tying American interests to a confederacy of despots, terrorists, and mass murderers.

 

Senators were dismayed to learn from General Lloyd Austin’s testimony on Capitol Hill last week that for all the administration’s talk of arming Syrian rebels, there are only four or five trained by the United States now engaged in the fight against ISIS. The really shocking thing is that the White House managed to recruit anyone at all when it conditioned assistance on signing a document stating that their U.S.-supplied arms would not be used against Assad and his allies. How did the White House convince any Syrian, never mind four or five, to ignore the dictator responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of their friends, family members, and countrymen and instead turn their guns only on ISIS—a problem that the White House helped create?

 

It was when Obama balked at arming and funding moderate rebel units that extremist groups like ISIS filled the void. And when Obama tilted towards Iran and its allies around the region—e.g., providing air support for the operations of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) expeditionary unit, led by Qassem Suleimani, in Tikrit, flying drones on behalf of the Hezbollah-controlled Lebanese Armed Forces, promising Tehran that he would respect Iranian interests in Syria—the ranks of the region-wide Sunni rebellion swelled. The equation is straightforward: To defeat ISIS, first you have to topple Assad and ruin Iran’s position in Syria.

 

But that’s not what Obama wants, for fear that it will sour his dealings with Iran. Moreover, it’s increasingly unlikely that any other power will manage the feat now that Putin has staked out his position in Syria. From Obama’s perspective, that’s not the worst thing in the world, since the Russians can be his boots on the ground while he continues to use Moscow as he has since the beginning of the conflict in March 2011—as the reason that it’s impossible to do any of things he doesn’t want to do anyway.

 

I’d like to dispose of the Syrian dictator as much as the next guy, Obama can say—but we’re going to have to go through the Russians first, and they don’t see it that way. Setting up a no-fly zone was always going to be tricky, he can argue, but with Russian planes now in the area, we’re not going to do stupid stuff and risk an incident that could lead to a Third World War. In fact, you could say that what Putin has just done is establish a no-fly zone of a different sort. The Russian presence has limited Israel’s ability to interdict Iranian arms shipments from Syria destined for Hezbollah. Presumably that’s why Benjamin Netanyahu is off to visit Putin this week—in order to discuss the new rules of the region.

 

Netanyahu knows that Putin isn’t very ideological. Sure, he’s an old-school Russian nationalist who dislikes Obama and means to replace the United States as Middle East power-broker, but it’s not like he cherishes the time he spends with Suleimani, Hassan Nasrallah, and other heroes of the resistance. He simply sees them as instruments to get what he wants out of Syria: to project power and collect rent from everyone, from Iran as well as Israel.

 

The problem for Netanyahu is that no matter what Putin charges, it’s going to be too high. Israel can’t afford to let any other actor veto its self-defense. It’s not enough to have Putin’s permission to attack one shipment of Iranian missiles, if some other shipment is allowed to go through. Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran means that Jerusalem must carry out a scrupulous campaign of deterrence against Iranian assets in its neighborhood. Both Hezbollah and the IRGC have to be kept on a tight leash. But Putin’s idea of what it means to project power in the Levant is that everything will have to go through him, or there will be consequences.

 

For 70 years, the thrust of American foreign policy in the Middle East was to keep Moscow out—first as a Cold War adversary and later as a spoiler that profits from destabilizing the status quo. It was in this context that Israel clinched its place as an American ally of the first rank. In the June 1967 war, the 1973 Yom Kippur war, and again during the first Lebanon war, Jerusalem handily defeated Soviet clients and became America’s aircraft carrier in the eastern Mediterranean.

 

Over four decades, the Israelis found that the American demands in return were easy to bear. Yes, Washington would have its peace process and sometimes threatened to make life harder on Jerusalem. But what more could Israel ask for than a relatively reliable friend—a superpower that shared its values and was home to as many Jews as there were in Israel? And now the Obama White House, through a combination of incompetence and hubris, is undoing all of that, restricting Israel’s room to maneuver, and bringing the threat of war ever closer.                           

 

Contents                                                                                     

   

THE NEW MULTI-YEAR PLAN OF THE IDF

AND THE AGREEMENT WITH IRAN                                                                               

Amir Rapaport     

Israel Defense, Sept. 9, 2015

 

The “nuclear” agreement signed between the P5+1 and Iran in July 2015 is an event of historic proportions that will affect the Middle East for decades. The top-priority assignment of the Israeli intelligence services after the signing of the agreement is to deliver proof that the Iranians are fooling the entire world.

 

It is safe to assume that all of the surveillance satellites and all other intelligence gathering resources will attempt to pick up every speck of dust or any irregularity in the local power consumption that might betray the Iranians’ continued journey toward the bomb. The Iranians are no fools, however. They will not risk anything during the 60-day interval until the agreement is endorsed by the US Congress, with or without a veto by President Barack Obama, remaining very cautious until the sanctions currently imposed on them have been lifted.

 

What will they do a few months from now? Well, that is a completely different story. The situation will change radically. It will happen fast, as even if formally the sanctions are to be lifted gradually, in effect, the whole world is already racing to do business with the Iranians. The sanction regime is disintegrating very fast. The Russians are already planning arms sales to Iran on the scale of US$ 30 billion, including their state-of-the-art S-300 missile defense system. The Americans hope to make money, too: the USA will sell arms and aircraft on the scale of dozens of billions of dollars to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates. It is reasonable to expect that they will offer Israel an increase of their defense aid package and a few new weapon systems as “compensation” for the arms reaching the Arab countries and for the Iranian rearming.

 

Meanwhile, the ‘conventional’ arms race is just one result out of many pursuant to the historic reconciliation agreement. A nuclear arms race is expected to begin as well: Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey will estimate that Iran would reach an atomic bomb sooner or later, and seek their own “Sunni Bomb” as a counterweight to Iran’s “Shi’ite Bomb”. The recent historic development was received as no surprise in Israel. The Israeli defense establishment and political echelon had estimated in advance that President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry would strive for an agreement with Iran at any cost, and that the Iranians, too, will make that assumption, so they would have no real reason to back down from any of their basic stands in the negotiations.

 

The declaration that Israel is not bound by the agreement could hint to the fact that Israel may continue to operate against the Iranian nuclear program, whether by means of an overt attack or by covert operations, as Israel may deem appropriate. In fact, Israel does not have a practical option of staging an attack in Iran without engaging in a confrontation with the entire world. Such an attack is not currently on the agenda, at least not without undisputable proof that the Iranians are actually fooling the entire world and are pressing on with their military nuclear program.

 

Israel has positioned itself as the leader of the campaign against the agreement. This blurs the fact that the Iranian bomb threatens not just us but the entire Middle East, with implications even as far as the Balkans and the Caucasus (even there, an Iranian nuclear superpower is conceived as a major threat). Moreover, the Israeli-Arab conflict is currently marginal compared to the Sunni-Shi’ite conflict and the confrontations within the Sunni community between ISIS and everyone they regard as “infidels”. Under these circumstances, Iran’s rearming and evolving into a nuclear threshold country with an international license is far from being an Israeli-only concern.

 

The “Gideon” plan: regardless or pursuant to the nuclear agreement, the IDF is preparing to implement a new long-term plan for the five-year period beginning in 2016, under the codename “Gideon”. If the “Gideon” plan is actually implemented, it will be the first multi-year plan the IDF implements since the conclusion of the “Tefen” plan in 2011. None of the plans prepared during the tenure of Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz as IDF Chief of Staff were actually implemented, first and foremost – because of the reduced defense budgets allocated by the Israeli government in 2013 and 2014. The shortage of funding led the IDF to halt training activities in 2014, just before Operation Protective Edge. The government had known about this well in advance and authorized this default…                                                                                        

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

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

                                                              

THE GIDEON DOCTRINE:                                                                   

THE CHANGING MIDDLE EAST AND IDF STRATEGY                                                                                    

Yossi Melman                                                                                                     

Jerusalem Post, Sept. 13, 2015

 

In mid-July, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot met with military reporters and briefed them off the record on the latest local and regional developments. He also presented a new five-year plan “Gideon,” named after the Israelite judge-warrior, who was instructed by God to battle the Midianites and destroy their idols.

 

The Gideon plan has two purposes: First to avoid cuts and, in fact, obtain yet another increase in the defense budget – currently around NIS 60 billion ($15.3 billion), not final and still growing – at the expense of welfare, education, health and all the other national necessities. Gideon is also another effort – the fourth in recent years – to obtain approval from the government to implement long-term planning. So far, due to never-ending dispute and bickering between the Ministries of Defense and Finance, various long-term plans have either been rejected or not authorized.

 

In mid- August, the Chief of Staff’s briefing turned into an official, but sanitized, 33-page document titled “IDF Strategy.” Though the document does not state it in so many words, what emerges is the fact that the Israel Defense Forces is the strongest military structure in the entire region, which spreads from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. The “IDF Strategy” is meant “to serve as a guideline to the IDF and is based on vital national interests and agreed notions of national security and military thinking and practice.”

 

Already in 2007, then-minister Dan Meridor wrote a very lengthy and detailed security doctrine defining the “National Goals” for the State of Israel: 1. To ensure the existence of the state, defend its territorial integrity and the security of its citizens. [It’s worth noting, however, that Israel has never defined its borders.] 2. To preserve its values and nature as a Jewish and democratic state and home to the Jewish people. 3. To ensure the social and economic strength of the state. 4. To strengthen the regional and international status of the state while aspiring to have peace with its neighbors. Here, it should be noted that while the pursuit of peace is mentioned by the IDF, judging from the actions over the last three years taken by the government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it seems that peace with the Palestinian Authority is no longer a possibility. “IDF STRATEGY” accepts and reaffirms these four principles. It also acknowledges that, in a democratic state, the military is subjected to the supremacy of the government.

 

Yet, interestingly enough, the document goes beyond this obvious imperative – it states that the IDF obligation is not only to the elected government and Knesset, but also to society and citizens of the state who elect their representatives and ministers. Since he was appointed Chief of Staff less than a year ago, Eizenkot has stressed, on several occasions, that “the people’s trust” is an important element of the way the IDF works, operates and sets its goals. “We have to be sensible” in our demands and “sensitive to other needs of society.”

 

According to the document, the security doctrine is based on four pillars. Three are as old as the state and were already defined by the first prime minister David Ben-Gurion: deterrence, early warning and decisive outcome. A fourth pillar – defense – was officially added a decade ago. All in all, the IDF sees its mission as repelling and neutralizing threats, creating effective deterrence; postponing confrontation, if possible, but also to use both defensive and offensive strategies and utilize force in the most determined and effective way, while respecting international law and the rules of war. The IDF also emphasizes the importance of strategic cooperation with the US and the development of strategic ties with other countries…

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

 

Contents                                                                                                                                               

On Topic

                                                                                                        

Russia in Syria, Threats and Opportunities for Israel: Ron Ben-Yishai, I24, Sept. 21, 2015—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Moscow Monday with military chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot to try to achieve coordination and understanding with Russia, which has become an actor and military force in the Syrian war.

In Rare Move, Netanyahu to Bring Army Chiefs to Meet Putin in Moscow: Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 21, 2015 —IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Herzl Halevi will accompany Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a lightning trip to Moscow on Monday, in a clear signal that regional arms transfers and Russia’s troop deployments in Syria will be the main focus of the discussions.

Trading Horses With Putin: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 17, 2015  —Trading horses with Putin This week US President Barack Obama informed Jewish leaders that he plans to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on November 9. Yawn.

Going it Alone: Israel's Cold War with Iran: Ari Sofer, Arutz Sheva, Sept. 9, 2015— It's painfully clear by now that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu failed in his mission to prevent a bad deal with Iran.

 

 

                                                                      

 

              

Frederick Krantz: DRIVEN ACROSS DARK SEAS AND HOSTILE LANDS: THE MUSLIM REFUGEE PROBLEM AND EUROPE

 

 

 

 

There are two key, related, and little-remarked dimensions of the current Middle Eastern migration crisis. These are, on the one hand,  the almost complete economic and political collapse of the Muslim societies and states furnishing the millions of desperate refugees.   The second dimension of the phenomenon is the immense strains the millions of Moslem refugees are putting on the European Union countries and the notion of a unified Europe and, indeed, on the much-vexed question of a ”European” identify itself.

 

The migrants are coming above all from a disintegrating Syria, but also from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Eritrea, Morocco, Tunisia,  Egypt, and other countries. Millions of refugees are already in under-funded camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, and hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Muslim failed states are risking their lives to reach Europe. For the latter (generally with more money than the refugee camp residents) their first stops after Turkey are in southern Europe (Greece, Italy, southern France, followed by journeys to points northwest(through Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Hungary to the promised lands of Germany, Sweden, and Austria. (Another route winds from Libya to France to Belgium, the Netherlands and (via Calais) to Great Britain.)

 

These desperate people—almost 440,000 so far this year, according to the UN–, largely young adult males but also including whole families and young couples with infants, cross treacherous waters from Turkey and North Africa to reach Italian, Greek and French ports, on flimsy boats and inflatable dinghies, often capsizing before reaching safety (almost 3,000 have already died this year). Western consciences, long dormant in regard to the refugees—in Syria, the civil war and its refugee tide is, after all, now in its fifth year–have finally been touched by the recent, tragic pictures of Ayan Kurdi, the three-year-old who drowned off Turkey with his five-year-old brother and mother.  

 

The European Union states, wholly unprepared for the onslaught and without a common policy or enforcement mechanism, are overwhelmed. UN refugee funding this year is only 37% of the estimated $4.5 billion need; its World Food Program is 63% underfunded, and available monies for Syrian relief are only 43% of requirement; the World Health Organization stands at only 27% of need. These figures are somewhat offset by Germany, which has said it would budget $4.5 billion in 2015, and by the EU, which is asking member-=states to allocate $1.1 billion for 160,000 refugees.  Even so, needs are immense and increasing, and total available funds are scarce. 

 

Already concerned with ever-increasing and partially unassimilated domestic Muslim populations, all but Germany and Sweden have resisted taking in additional tens of thousands of migrants. (The recent emergency European Union conference, called by Angela Merkel, to spread responsibility around by assigning shared quotas to all EU states, has failed over Hungarian-led eastern European resistance.)

 

Remarkably, Germany, the major exception, initially announced it would admit over 800,000 migrants this year alone (1% of its population). Berlin’s motives are variously attributed, to an inherited, compensatory guilt over the Nazi period, to a sense as Europe’s most powerful state, of economic and political noblesse oblige, to an aging population’s less-than-replacement rate and desperate need for young skilled and semi-skilled labor.

 

Indeed, Germany’s readiness to violate the EU’s “Dublin regulations” for the orderly processing of refugee claims (registration, processing, and internment in the first country of refuge) was denounced by Prime Minister Orban of Hungary. Quickly putting up razor-wire fences to block access to the tens of thousands of migrants, even as he pronounced the need to preserve Hungary’s (and Europe’s) “Christian heritage” from being swamped by the Muslim tidal-wave, Orban blamed Berlin’s open-door policy for creating the crisis in the first place.)

  

While the total world refugee population has been estimated at ca.37 million, Europe currently is looking at a potential flow of several million predominantly Muslim people annually (currently, Syrian refugees constitute the lion’s share, 51%, with Afghans second at 15%, followed by Iraqis and others). When tens of thousands piled up in and around Budapest, the conservative-nationalist regime there built its razor-wire walls to shut off the flow across its territory to Austria. (Now Croatia, which initially announced it would allow transit, connecting the flow to Slovenia and hence to northern Europe, has also reneged and closed its borders, creating a crisis in the formerly “borderless” (Schengen Agreement) European Union.        

 

Some years ago French-Jewish scholar Bat Ye’or wrote a study of Muslim immigration to France and Europe called "Eurabia". She argued that a kind of deal, explicit and implicit, between Western states and Arab regimes—acceptance of large-scale Muslim immigration in Europe in return for Western investment in the Middle East states—would change the face of the Old Continent. The result would be increasingly culturally mixed, and increasingly antisemitic and anti-Israel, European societies.

  

That vision has largely been realized, and in some ways even Bat Ye’or probably could not have envisioned. Who could have foreseen the total failure of the so-called “Arab Spring”, and the terrible ensuing, and ongoing, civil wars in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and Somalia (not to mention conflicts in Nigeria [Boko Haram], Mali, Kenya, Algeria, and so on)? And how have predicted the further destabilizing impacts of the American pull-out from the region (engineered by Obama, Kerry and Hillary Clinton, and concretely sealed by the recent nuclear “deal” with Iran); of the Russian intervention in support of Assad in Syria (now radicalized by the introduction of jet fighters and tanks); and of Iran’s intervention in Syria (using Hezbollah proxies) and in Yemen. 

                 

What is truly remarkable in all this, and again rarely remarked upon, is the evident attraction of Western secular (and formally/formerly Christian) Europe to the Muslim-world migrants and refugees. It is largely the relatively educated and fairly comfortable Syrian and other middle-class migrants, who have the money for travel, food, illegal smugglers, and the cellphones which keep them in touch with one another and the families left behind.

 

Europe is the magnet for these relatively well-off people seeking safety, stability and, as some say, liberty. And some, according to news reports, are even ready to convert to Christianity to assure their access to European status. (The poorer Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, Eritreans, Somalis, Libyans and others, pushed out by or fleeing from civil war and chaos, from ISIS, al-Nusra Front, the Taliban and the Shabab, remain in squalid conditions and under-funded Lebanese, Jordanian and Turkish refugee camps (2½ million in Turkey alone). Despite shared Muslim religious, and linguistic, identity, they are—as is usual in Arab lands—-excluded by their Arab “host” countries from education, job training, and becoming permanent citizens. Nor have the wealthiest, and sparsely inhabited, Arab states—Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates—yet to accept a single Syrian or other refugee.

 

This crisis, like the socio-political collapse of the Arab states which is its primary motor, shows no signs of letting up. In Syria, now approaching 300,000 war-related deaths, there are 12 million refugees, over 4 million of them external (some of this is a kind of ethnic cleansing, of Alawite Assad forcing millions of Sunni antagonists out).   No meaningful Western intervention is in the offing, no “boots on the ground” to stiffen Arab resistance to ISIS and compensate for the weak air campaigns so far launched, no prospect of a political deal which alone might end the civil war and stem the flood of migrants.

 

The size and implications of this modern version of the late classical and early medieval Voelkerwanderungen, the large-scale movement of peoples, whole Germanic tribes, across Europe, east to west, are staggering.  There is no way contemporary Europe, either western,  or less developed eastern, can enforce a general, shared policy. Hungary, Croatia and Slovakia are closing their borders; Denmark’s and Poland’s are already shut. Britain and France are resisting (indeed Britain may exit the European Union altogether in a coming referendum). And Germany—which already excludes Balkan immigrants (some of whom now are masquerading as Syrians)—is, faced with growing opposition within and without Chancellor Merkel’s own Christian Democratic party, closing the open doors of her earlier, high-mindedly moral, policy.

 

Europe’s record of being able to assimilate earlier Muslim immigrants is not good. Arab, Turkish, and African immigration, though smaller in annual scale, totalled over time hundreds of thousands, had already engendered rising national opposition and, increasingly, restrictive legislation.

 

Much of the marked rise in recent years of European antisemitic incidents and suburban violence and murder issues from Islamist immigrants and radicalized European-born Muslim youth (from the Charlie Hebdo murders to the attacks on synagogues and the Supermarché Kasher, to the killing of an anti-Islamist film-maker in Holland and the beheading of a British soldier in London) It reflects unsuccessful assimilation tied to the influence of Islamist sharia activism and  terrorist infiltration, worsened by the weak European economies’ inability to create sufficient jobs and social mobility.  

 

(Indeed, several observers of the recent wave of Muslim migrants in Greece, Macedonia and Hungary have noted a tendency—despite the fact that they are being pushed out of their own Arab-Muslim countries by  the violence and oppression of Arab regimes and the indifference of fellow Muslims—to blame “the Jews” or “Israel” for their predicament.

 

This should call to mind the largely-forgotten violent oppression and eviction of 800,000 Jews from Arab lands after 1948. In this regard, what warrant is there to think that the addition of millions of Muslims to European states already marked by existing tensions will not in fact worsen them?(What will many of the newcomers drawn to “Mother Merkel”’s Germany make of their new homeland’s “sacred relationship” of support for Jewish Israel?)

 

It is beyond Europe’s capacity, and the Europeans’ will, wholly to absorb this massive migration. And even if it were possible it could, when added to Europe’s already large and growing Muslim populations, well unbalance the European Union’s current populations. (Hungary’s Prime Minister Orban’s protest–mirrored by the views of Polish, Croatian, Slovakian and other officials–that the nature of “Christian Europe” demands limits on Muslim immigrants, may be politically incorrect, but it expresses a genuine and growing European concern. If ignored by current political elites, this could lead to an ultra-right-wing and nationalist reaction.)   

 

This deep crisis reveals deep cracks in European cultural identity and  “unity”. It is far more threatening than Greece’s potential bankruptcy and threatened turn from the euro to the drachma, and may well shatter, politically as well as culturally, the already-fragile European Union, It raises difficult questions about the limits of globalism and “diversity”, and the continuing role of national political and cultural identities, in Europe as much as in the Middle East.

 

And even as the post- or trans-national identity of “Europe” is being called into question, with a possible strengthening of national-traditional elements, the Arab states’ collapse means the end of “national” post-Ottoman Empire political constructs (“Iraq”, “Syria”, “Libya”) imposed by the West European powers in the early twentieth century (the Sykes-Picot treaty). However precarious and artificial such colonialist-era identities in fact were, they nevertheless created  order and survived a hundred years–what will replace them now? Al-Baghdadi’s bloody ISIS Caliphate? semi-anarchical local-regional tribal sheikhdoms?

 

As long as these failing Muslim states are wracked by civil war and unending violence and bloodshed–and no end is yet in sight–the desperate migrants, driven across dark seas and rivers and hostile lands like a whirling crowd of lost souls out of Dante’s Inferno, will, ironically, seek their future in a once-Christian Europe. Where will they go, who will accept them, and with what consequences? And when will it end?

 

(Professor Frederick Krantz is Director of

the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)

 

 

 

 

BACK-TO-SCHOOL: UNIVERSITIES, BY CHAMPIONING POLITICAL CORRECTNESS, PROMOTE PREJUDICE, AND SUPPRESS INDEPENDENT THOUGHT

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.

 

The Nonsense Kids Learn in School: George Jonas, National Post, Aug. 22, 2015 — September being just around the corner, it’s time for another instalment of my periodic complaints about schools and education.

UC is Not Welcoming Place to Jewish Students: Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, Santa Cruz Sentinel, Sept. 8, 2015 — “For myself and other Jewish and pro-Israel students, the atmosphere is poisonous.”

Middle East Provocations and Predictions: Daniel Pipes, Mackenzie Institute, Sept. 9, 2015 — The Middle East stands out as the world’s most volatile, combustible, and troubled region; not coincidentally, it also inspires the most intense policy debates – think of the Arab-Israeli conflict or the Iran deal.

At Tuscany’s Only Kosher Winery, Owners Can’t Touch the Chianti: Ben Sales, Times of Israel, Aug. 22, 2015 — Up a windy road in the tranquil Tuscan hills, down a gravel path and past acres of grapevines, a visitor will come across a stainless steel door frame secured with a piece of clear packing tape.

 

On Topic Links

 

Repentance is No Simple Matter: Yossi Beilin, Israel Hayom, Sept. 18, 2015

Is the West Dead Yet?: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Sept. 8, 2015

University: Where Debate About Even a Silly ‘White Students Union’ Goes to Die: Chris Selley, National Post, Sept. 18, 2015 

Brandeis to Award Endowed Chair to Anti-Israel Scholar: Winfield Myers, Campus Watch, Sept. 6, 2015

Middle East Studies Profs Team with Iran Lobby to Push Deal: Cinnamon Stillwell, Matt Bradley & Giovanni Legorano, Campus Watch, Sept. 6, 2015

                                          

                             

THE NONSENSE KIDS LEARN IN SCHOOL                                                                                       

George Jonas

National Post, Aug. 22, 2015

 

September being just around the corner, it’s time for another instalment of my periodic complaints about schools and education. It must be 20 years since I heard a bold grandfather pose a knowledge-testing question of a kind I wouldn’t have risked putting to my grandsons. “Where would you look for the agonic line on the map?” the adventurous senior asked his grandchild, a boy of 12. “Agonic what?” “Never mind. What did you talk about in geography class today?” “Global warming.”

 

Need I say more? Still, I’m not opposed to education. Some of what is being taught in school is accurate and useful. It’s good to know that there are 1,000 metres in a kilometre or that the agonic line passes through Thunder Bay in our hemisphere. And if much of what our children learn in school is nonsense, so were many things that our parents and grandparents learned decades or centuries ago.

 

Not necessarily the same nonsense, though. For instance, a child educated in the early 1800s might have learned to think of Aborigines as savages. His grandchild in the early 1900s was more likely to think of Aborigines as noble savages. A child of the early 2000s might come home from school thinking of Aborigines as archetypal environmental activists.

 

For good illustration, I recommend the slightly out-of-date magazines in medical waiting rooms. Leafing through The March 1991 issue of the Australian Teachers Journal in a dentist’s office, for instance, one runs no risk of reading expressions like “noble savages.” What one risks is reading lines like: “Aboriginal Science is a mode of knowledge which has evolved to allow human beings to fit into, rather than outside of, the ecology.” Aboriginal science? Maybe it’s a typo. It isn’t. The writer, Dr. Michael J. Christie, explains that Western science placed humanity apart and above the natural world, while “Aboriginal Science” strives for unity between human beings and the environment. He doesn’t actually write “Man is Fish is Kangaroo” but comes close.

 

All right; look at it this way. “Aboriginal Science” being an improvement on “noble savage,” one might conclude that our nonsense is getting gentler and kinder. I’m not so sure, though. Nonsense is nonsense and even benign nonsense has a way of turning malignant.

 

Anything can turn malignant, actually, including good sense or fine ideals. Patriotism, the unselfish love of one’s own country, can metamorphose into chauvinism or ethnic hatred. A desire for social justice can lead to tyranny and the Gulag. Almost any idea can be Nazified. Our current ideas, from feminism to environmentalism, are no more immune to Nazification than patriotism or religion have been at other times or places. Any bottled dogma is likely to have a potential fuehrer or ayatollah lurking inside it, and dogmas are often bottled in schools.

 

What has made me so wary of schools is the storm-troopers of Nazism and commissars of communism I’ve known, along with the priests and mullahs of theocracies I’ve known about. The dismal creatures surfacing from history’s pestilential swamps were rarely illiterate. Most had been formally educated, usually in the humanities. Many had been teachers or journalists before they became fanatics of some religion or ideology. The ideas they embraced were also spawned in the schools of their respective periods. Nazism spread through Germany’s institutions of higher learning faster than it spread through its beer halls. Colleges and universities were hotbeds of communism far more than unions or workers’ clubs.

 

University students and professors were among the first to “cleanse” independent thought and inquiry. These much-vaunted institutions of academic freedom were the pioneers of political correctness back then, just as they are today. Tyrannies might entrust the day-to-day operation of their torture chambers to untutored louts, but those at the helm are often graduates of law schools. Many have teachers’ certificates and master’s degrees. I’m not suggesting that education causes people to become Nazified, only that education does nothing to prevent it. Usually it just puts a seal of good housekeeping on people’s errors or crimes.

 

All cultural institutions are in the grip of fashion. Schools, just like the media, mirror prevailing trends. Education has an uncanny way of reproducing the spirit of the times. Schools rarely rise above the intellectual and social fashions of the day.

 

I’d agree that if children must learn to think nonsense, it’s better to have them think of Aborigines as early environmental activists than savages, whether noble or ignoble. Better — but no less nonsensical. There’s hardly a social idea children bring home from school today that’s less nonsense than those brought home by yesterday’s children, especially in the realm of morality or human nature.

 

Thank God schools haven’t yet changed their minds about the agonic line running through Thunder Bay or the number of metres that make up a kilometre. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they’re so preoccupied with global warming, they rarely bother mentioning anything else to their pupils anymore.                                                                   

 

Contents                                                                                                

   

UC IS NOT WELCOMING PLACE TO JEWISH STUDENTS                                                            

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin                                                                                         

Santa Cruz Sentinel, Sept. 8, 2015

 

“For myself and other Jewish and pro-Israel students, the atmosphere is poisonous. We feel attacked, ostracized, and threatened. Our identities are being rejected and our right to express our beliefs endangered. Our academic performance is being harmed unjustly.” — a Jewish UC student.

 

To make good on the “welcoming and inclusive” campus promised in the “Principles of Community” of its 10 campuses, the University of California has taken steps to heighten awareness of certain kinds of bigotry such as racism and sexism, offering university administrators sensitivity training in the subtlest forms of allegedly bigoted expression known as “microaggression.” A document issued by the UC Office of the President has identified seemingly innocuous utterances including, “America is a melting pot” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job” as examples.

 

Meanwhile, Jewish students on many UC campuses are facing what can rightly be called “MACROagression” — long-standing and pervasive patterns of vicious, hateful behavior. In the past few years Jewish UC students have reported being harassed, assaulted, threatened, vilified and discriminated against, their property defaced and destroyed, and their events disrupted and shut down.

 

UC leaders cannot claim ignorance of this anti-Jewish bigotry. A widely-publicized 2012 study, commissioned by then UC President Mark Yudof, found that Jewish students on seven UC campuses were confronting “significant and difficult climate issues” as a result of behaviors “which project hostility, engender a feeling of isolation, and undermine Jewish students’ sense of belonging and engagement with outside communities.” The study revealed that the primary sources of anti-Jewish sentiment were anti-Israel activities which challenged Israel’s right to exist and were fueled by anti-Zionism and Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movements.

 

Since the study’s publication, the campus climate for Jewish students has significantly deteriorated. Not surprisingly, almost all of the recent antisemitic incidents including swastikas on a Jewish fraternity at UC Davis, posters blaming Jews for 9/11 at UC Santa Barbara, and a UCLA student being told by student senators that her Jewishness would make her ineligible to serve in government can be directly linked to anti-Israel campaigns, especially BDS.

 

Yet despite the mounting evidence of anti-Jewish “MACROaggression,” there have been no UC initiatives to address anti-Jewish hostility, no sensitivity training for UC administrators, and no widely-circulated UC documents with examples of the anti-Semitic behaviors that have created an extremely hostile and threatening environment for many Jewish students. Not one. Indeed, anti-Jewish “MACROaggession” is simply not on the radar. Why are administrators so well attuned to the subtle forms of some types of bigotry but unable to recognize even the most flagrant forms of contemporary antisemitism? Because UC currently lacks the single most essential tool for identifying and educating the campus community about the kinds of antisemitic expression that Jewish students are actually experiencing: an accurate definition.

 

That is why dozens of the world’s foremost scholars of antisemitism, approximately 60 religious, civil rights, educational and student organizations including the Anti-Defamation League and Hillel and thousands from California’s Jewish community have been urging UC to adopt the U.S. State Department definition of anti-Semitism, which provides an authoritative standard for determining when anti-Israel expression crosses the line into anti-Semitism. And, commendably, UC President Janet Napolitano herself has publicly expressed support for the State Department definition.

 

At their September meeting, UC Regents will consider a statement of principles against intolerance. If the Regents incorporate into their statement a reference to the State Department definition of anti-Semitism, or at least an acknowledgement of the well-documented relationship between certain kinds of anti-Israel expression and anti-Semitism, they will be affirming their commitment to ensuring a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students including Jewish students. If not, the Regents will be sending a loud and clear message to the California Jewish community: We do not care about Jewish students, and are unwilling to ensure their safety and well-being.

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

   

MIDDLE EAST PROVOCATIONS AND PREDICTIONS                                                                                      

Daniel Pipes                                  

Mackenzie Institute, Sept. 9, 2015

 

The Middle East stands out as the world’s most volatile, combustible, and troubled region; not coincidentally, it also inspires the most intense policy debates – think of the Arab-Israeli conflict or the Iran deal. The following tour d’horizon offers interpretations and speculations on Iran, ISIS, Syria-Iraq, the Kurds, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Islamism, then concludes with some thoughts on policy choices. My one-sentence conclusion: some good news lies under the onslaught of misunderstandings, mistakes, and misery.

 

Iran: Iran is Topic No. 1 these days, especially since the nuclear deal the six great powers reached with its rulers in Vienna on July 14. The “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” seeks to bring Tehran in from the cold, ending decades of hostility and inducing Iran to become a more normal state. In itself, this is an entirely worthy endeavor. The problem lies in the execution, which has been rewarding an aggressive government with legitimacy and additional funding, not requiring serious safeguards on its nuclear arms program, and permitting that program in about a decade. The annals of diplomacy have never witnessed a comparable capitulation by great powers to an isolated, weak state.

 

The Iranian leadership has an apocalyptic mindset and preoccupation with the end of days that does not apply to the North Koreans, Stalin, Mao, the Pakistanis or anyone else. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei et al. have reason to use these weapons for reasons outside of the normal military concerns – to bring on the end of the world. This makes it especially urgent to stop them.

 

Economic sanctions, however, amount to a sideshow, even a distraction. The Iranian government compares to the North Korean in its absolute devotion to building these weapons and its readiness to do whatever it takes, whether mass starvation or some other calamity, to achieve them. Therefore, no matter how severely applied, the sanctions only make life more difficult for the Iranian leadership without actually stopping the nuclear buildup. The only way to stop the buildup is through the use of force. I hope the Israeli government – the only one left that might take action – will undertake this dangerous and thankless job. It can do so through aerial bombardment, special operations, or nuclear weapons, with option #2 both the most attractive and the most difficult.

 

If the Israelis do not stop the bomb, a nuclear device in the hands of the mullahs will have terrifying consequences for the Middle East and beyond, including North America, where a devastating electromagnetic pulse attack must be considered possible. To the contrary, if the Iranians do not deploy their new weapons, it is just possible that the increased contact with the outside world and the disruption caused by inconsistent Western policies will work to undermine the regime.

 

ISIS: The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (aka ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State, Daesh) is the topic that consumes the most attention other than Iran. I agree with Ron Dermer,  the Israeli ambassador to Washington, that Iran is a thousand times more dangerous than ISIS. But ISIS is also a thousand times more interesting. Plus, the Obama administration finds it a useful bogeyman to justify working with Tehran. Emerging out of almost nowhere, the group has taken Islamic nostalgia to an unimagined extreme. The Saudis, the ayatollahs, the Taliban, Boko Haram, and Shabaab each imposed its version of a medieval order. But ISIS went further, replicating as best it can a seventh-century Islamic environment, down to such specifics as public beheading and enslavement.

 

This effort has provoked two opposite responses among Muslims. One is favorable, as manifested by Muslims coming from Tunisia and the West, attracted moth-like to an incandescently pure vision of Islam. The other, more important response, is negative. The great majority of Muslims, not to speak of non-Muslims, are alienated by the violent and flamboyant ISIS phenomenon. In the long term, ISIS will harm the Islamist movement (the one aspiring to apply Islamic law in its entirety) and even Islam itself, as Muslims in large numbers abominate ISIS.

 

One thing about ISIS will likely last, however: the notion of the caliphate. The last caliph who actually gave orders ruled in the 940s. That’s the 940s, not the 1940s, over a thousand years ago. The reappearance of an executive caliph after centuries of figurehead caliphs has prompted considerable excitement among Islamists. In Western terms, it’s like someone reviving the Roman Empire with a piece of territory in Europe; that would get everybody’s attention. I predict the caliphate will have a lasting and negative impact.

Syria, Iraq, and the Kurds: In certain circles, Syria and Iraq have come to be known as Suraqiya, joining their names together as the border has collapsed and they have each simultaneously been divided into three main regions: a Shiite-oriented central government, a Sunni Arab rebellion, and a Kurdish part that wants out. This is a positive development; there’s nothing sacred about the British-French Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 which created these two polities. Quite the contrary, that accord has proven an abject failure; conjure up the names of Hafez al-Assad and Saddam Hussein to remember why. These miserable states exist for the benefit of their monstrous leaders who proceed to murder their own subjects. So, let them fracture into threes, improving matters for the locals and the outside world.

 

As Turkish-backed Sunni jihadis fight Iranian-backed Shi’i jihadis in Suraqiya, the West should stand back from the fighting. Neither side deserves support; this is not our fight. Indeed, these two evil forces at each others’ throats means they have less opportunity to aggress on the rest of the world. If we do wish to help, it should be directed first to the many victims of the civil war; if we want to be strategic, help the losing side (so neither side wins). As for the massive flow of refugees from Syria: Western governments should not take in large numbers but instead pressure Saudi Arabia and other rich Middle Eastern states to offer sanctuary. Why should the Saudis be exempt from the refugee flow, especially when their country has many advantages over, say, Sweden: linguistic, cultural, and religious compatibility, as well as proximity and a similar climate.

 

The rapid emergence of a Kurdish polity in Iraq, followed by one in Syria, as well as a new assertiveness in Turkey and rumblings in Iran are a positive sign. Kurds have proven themselves to be responsible in a way that none of their neighbors have. I say this as someone who, 25 years ago, opposed Kurdish autonomy. Let us help the Kurds who are as close to an ally as we have in the Muslim Middle East. Not just separate Kurdish units should come into existence but also a unified Kurdistan made up from parts of all four countries. That this harms the territorial integrity of those states does not present a problem, as not one of them works well as presently constituted…                                                                                                       

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

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

                                                    

AT TUSCANY’S ONLY KOSHER WINERY,                                                           

OWNERS CAN’T TOUCH THE CHIANTI                                                                                           

Ben Sales                                                                                                             

Times of Israel, Aug. 22, 2015

 

Up a windy road in the tranquil Tuscan hills, down a gravel path and past acres of grapevines, a visitor will come across a stainless steel door frame secured with a piece of clear packing tape. The Hebrew scrawled on the adhesive reads: “David Solomon.” Almost no one may remove this tape, open the door or use the winemaking equipment in an expansive room on the other side. Another door to the same room, sealed with a white plastic strip bearing a K inside a circle, also stays locked, though visitors may peer into the room through glass panels.

 

During a recent visit, the winery’s owner, Maria Pellegrini, stood next door, laying out thin slices of Tuscan bread along the perimeter of a plate and topping them with tomatoes grown in her garden. She chopped pieces of fresh, kosher parmesan into a small dish. But when it came time to open her signature bottle, the Terra Di Seta Winery’s Chianti Classico 2010 Reserve, she yielded to Yossi Metzger, an intern with little winemaking experience and a kippah on his head. Metzger twisted the corkscrew and popped the bottle open. “We must be crazy to make kosher wine in Tuscany,” laughed Pellegrini, who, according to Jewish law, cannot touch the wine because she is not Jewish. “Others tried to make kosher wine, but it’s not easy. It’s not a joke.”

 

Other non-kosher Tuscan wineries have occasionally produced a run of kosher wine, but since it began producing bottles eight years ago, Terra di Seta has been the only fully kosher winery in central Italy’s Chianti region. It’s an area famed for the distinctive red wines its families have produced for centuries, against a landscape that looks like the backdrop to a Renaissance painting. Pellegrini and her husband, Daniele Della Seta, are meticulous about adhering to Chianti’s high standards. They export 35,000 to 45,000 bottles per year to stores and restaurants in the United States, Israel and around the world. The winery also makes olive oil from trees in the vineyard as well as honey, another regional specialty.

 

Requirements for Chianti (pronounced kee-ON-tea) wine range from using the local Sangiovese grape variety almost exclusively to letting the wine age for more than two years. At the end of the process, each run is sent to a committee so it can be approved as an official “Chianti Classico” wine — complete with a serial number for each vintage. But keeping kosher means the vintners must surrender the actual winemaking process to others. According to traditional Jewish law, only religious Jews may produce kosher wine, and though Della Seta is Jewish, he does not observe Shabbat. So mashgiachs, or kosher supervisors, hired by the OK Kosher certification agency have to handle everything from the time the grapes come to the winery’s door to when the cork goes into the bottle.

 

“I’ve worked with non-kosher wineries before who’ve always wanted to jump into some point of the process,” said Ian Schnall, one of Terra di Seta’s mashgiachs. “It’s like Van Gogh saying, ‘Paint this corner in this shade, paint that corner in that shade.’” At first, the restrictions were especially difficult for Pellegrini, who is originally from Tuscany. She grew up in a winemaking family in southern Italy and always dreamed of operating her own winery. When Della Seta, a neurology professor, got an appointment at the nearby University of Siena in 2000, the couple bought a vineyard surrounding a 400-year-old stone house and moved in. The year after their first vintage, in 2007, they decided to go kosher…

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

                       

                                    CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents                                                                                                                                               

On Topic

                                                                                                        

Repentance is No Simple Matter: Yossi Beilin, Israel Hayom, Sept. 18, 2015—During the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, known as the Days of Repentance or the Days of Awe, those who believe in divine providence are filled with reverent dread.

Is the West Dead Yet?: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Sept. 8, 2015 —Never has Western culture seemed so all-powerful. —“White students union!” exclaimed posters on three Toronto-area university campuses this week. There ought to be one, in other words. And that certainly wouldn’t do.

University: Where Debate About Even a Silly ‘White Students Union’ Goes to Die: Chris Selley, National Post, Sept. 18, 2015

Brandeis to Award Endowed Chair to Anti-Israel Scholar: Winfield Myers, Campus Watch, Sept. 6, 2015—Pascal Menoret, who has a history of anti-Israel activism, will be officially named the Renee and Lester Crown Chair in Modern Middle East Studies in a September 8 ceremony marking the tenth anniversary of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University, the nation's only non-sectarian Jewish-sponsored college.

Middle East Studies Profs Team with Iran Lobby to Push Deal: Cinnamon Stillwell, Matt Bradley & Giovanni Legorano, Campus Watch, Sept. 6, 2015—The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) has produced a letter promoting the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) signed by "73 prominent International Relations and Middle East scholars." Among the latter are Richard Bulliet, John Esposito, Fawaz Gerges, Rashid Khalidi, Hamid Dabashi, William O. Beeman, Juan Cole, and Reza Aslan.

 

 

 

                                                                      

 

              

SYRIAN REFUGEES FLEEING GENOCIDAL I.S. & RUSSIA-BACKED ASSAD: “ISRAEL IS ENEMY #1”

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.

 

Russia's Military Presence in Syria: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 12, 2015 — The current increase of the Russian military presence in northwest Syria is a function of the declining military fortunes of the Assad regime.

Assad Regime Fans Refugee Crisis: Sam Dagher, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 11, 2015 — As hundreds of thousands of refugees flee Syria for Europe, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has been coming down hard on those who have stayed behind, particularly people viewed as potential threats.

For Syrian Refugees in Italy, Israel Remains Enemy #1: Rossella Tercatin, Times of Israel, Sept. 12, 2015 — At a migrant reception center near Milan’s central train station, two-year-old Mahmoud sleeps on a pillow in a pair of patched-up grey pajamas, exhausted after fleeing Damascus a month ago with his parents and relatives.

Facing Iran on its Own: Louis Rene Beres, Breaking Israel News, Sept. 8, 2015 — In core matters of war and peace, timing is everything.

 

On Topic Links

 

Middle East Provocations and Predictions: Daniel Pipes, Mackenzie Institute, Sept. 9, 2015

The Russian Bear in Sheep’s Clothing: Andrew Foxall, New York Times, Sept. 15, 2015

Iran: Russia to Help Us Improve Our Centrifuges: Times of Israel, Sept. 16, 2015

Migrants Pose as Syrians to Open Door to Asylum in Europe: Manuela Mesco, Matt Bradley & Giovanni Legorano, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 12, 2015

                  

                             

RUSSIA'S MILITARY PRESENCE IN SYRIA                                                                                      

Jonathan Spyer

Jerusalem Post, Sept. 12, 2015

 

The current increase of the Russian military presence in northwest Syria is a function of the declining military fortunes of the Assad regime. It represents a quantitative, rather than qualitative, change in the nature of the Russian engagement in Syria. Moscow’s goal throughout the conflict has been to keep Syrian President Bashar Assad in power by all means necessary. The ends remain the same. But as the situation on the ground changes, so the Russian means employed to achieve this goal must change with it.

 

Since the outset of the Syrian civil war, the key problem for Assad has been manpower. Against a Sunni Arab rebellion with a vast pool of potential fighters from Syria’s 60 percent Sunni Arab majority and from among foreign volunteers, the regime has been forced to draw ever deeper from a far shallower base. At the outset of the conflict, the Syrian Arab Army was on paper a huge force – of 220,000 regular soldiers plus an additional 280,000 reserves. But the vast majority of this army was unusable by the dictator. This is because it consisted overwhelmingly of Sunni conscripts, whose trustworthiness from the regime’s point of view was seriously in doubt. Since then, the army has shrunk in size from attrition, desertion and draft dodging.

 

The story of the last four years has been the attempt by Assad and his allies to offset the reality of insufficient manpower for the task at hand. This has been achieved by two means. First, the regime has chosen to retreat from large swathes of the country, in order to be able to more effectively hold the essential areas it has to maintain with its limited numbers. The abandonment of the country’s east and north led to the emergence of the areas of control held by Kurdish, Sunni Arab rebel, and later al-Qaida and Islamic State forces in these areas.

 

But of course retreating in order to consolidate is a strategy that can be pursued only so far. At a certain point, the area remaining becomes no longer viable for the purpose intended – namely, the preservation of the regime in a form that can guarantee the needs of its Russian and Iranian backers, and the relative security of the ruling elite itself and to a lesser extent of the population which relies on it and upon which it relies.

 

To offset the arrival at this point, Assad and his friends have striven in ever more creative ways to put sufficient men in the field, and to maintain the edge in military equipment which could hold back the masses of the lightly armed rebels. There were the hastily assembled Alawi irregulars of the “shabiha.” Then an increasing commitment of Iranian regional assets – including the Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraqi Shi’ite militia forces. Then there was the Iranian-trained National Defense Forces. In recent months, northwest Syria has witnessed the arrival of “volunteers” from as far afield as the Hazara Shi’ite communities of Afghanistan (paid for by Tehran).

 

Despite all this effort, the rebels have, since the spring, been pushing westward toward Latakia province. If the rebels reach Latakia, there is nowhere left to retreat to. The regime and its allies must hold the province or face defeat. The appearance of apparently Russian-crewed BTR-82A APCs on the Latakia battlefield appears to be testimony to Russia’s awareness of this – and its willingness to dig deeper for Assad – even if this means the direct deployment of Russian personnel on the battlefield in a limited way.

 

The apparent deployment of a growing force of the Russian army’s 810th Independent Marine Brigade at and around the naval depot of Tartus in Latakia province offers further evidence of this commitment, as well as a pointer to the interests in Syria that Moscow regards as vital. The bolder claims of Russian Pchela 1T UAVs and even Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jets over the skies of the Idlib battlefield are not yet confirmed. But the respected Ruslanleviev Russian investigative website found the evidence regarding the APCs and the marines around Tartus to be persuasive.

 

There is a reason why the rebel march toward Latakia cannot simply be absorbed by the regime as a further tactical withdrawal, analogous to earlier retreats from Hasakah, Quneitra, most of Deraa, Aleppo, Idlib and so on. Latakia province is the heartland of the Syrian Alawi community. It is a place where regime supporters have been able to convince themselves for most of the last four years that here, at least, they were safe. If the rebels break through on the al-Ghab Plain, and the front line moves decisively into the populated areas of Latakia, this will be over.

 

The loss of Latakia province would render the hope of keeping a regime enclave intact no longer viable. It will raise the possibility of the regime losing its control of Syria’s coastline (vital for Assad’s Russian and Iranian backers). This, in turn, could mean rebel capture of the Tartus naval depot. Hence the deployment of the marines, who, according to information available, have not yet been placed in forward positions facing the rebels. Rather, they are gathered around Tartus for its defense.

 

So the steady rebel advance in the direction of Latakia is producing a Russian response of a volume and nature not before witnessed on the Syrian battlefield. Russian weaponry and Russian diplomatic support have been the vital lifelines for Assad throughout the last four years. Previous levels of support are no longer enough. So more is being provided. Still, the current indications do not appear to suggest or presage a major conventional deployment of Russian forces. That would go against the known pattern favored by President Vladimir Putin.

 

Rather, Russian assistance, while on the increase, is likely to be limited to an active support role, perhaps extending to the use of some air power, along with behind-the-scenes advisory and training roles and the use of some specialized personnel in combat or combat support roles…

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

                                                                       

                                                           

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ASSAD REGIME FANS REFUGEE CRISIS                                                                                         

Sam Dagher                                                                                                         

Wall Street Journal, Sept. 11, 2015

 

As hundreds of thousands of refugees flee Syria for Europe, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has been coming down hard on those who have stayed behind, particularly people viewed as potential threats. Ahmed al-Hamid is one of them. The 37-year-old doctor said security agents picked him up in late 2013 for his role establishing field hospitals in opposition areas in Homs and Damascus. After six months in jail—where he said he was beaten with batons and whips while strapped to boards—Dr. Hamid was released by a sympathetic judge. Last year, he fled to nearby Lebanon, joining an exodus of professionals, dissidents and others who were driven out for being on the wrong side of the Syrian regime. “There is no order, per se, but all conditions are being put in place so that people do not dare go back,” says Dr. Hamid, a stocky man with a shaved head.

 

Refugees from Syria’s multisided civil war have fueled Europe’s migrant crisis. More than half the nearly 400,000 who have arrived in Europe by sea so far this year are Syrian, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. The West has focused largely on those fleeing Islamic State and its atrocities, but Mr. Assad’s regime hasn’t relented with the intimidation and force it has used since the start of the conflict more than four years ago: detention, torture and mandatory drafting into the army for military-age men, along with starvation and an aerial bombing campaign of opposition-held areas. His government has also offered subtle incentives to leave, such as an easier time obtaining a Syrian passport and less hassle booking flights to foreign countries.

 

The regime’s tactics are pushing out its opponents and those perceived hostile to Mr. Assad, while friendlier groups are rebuilding from the wreckage of war. The cumulative results are broader demographic change designed to tighten Mr. Assad’s hold over the few places he still controls. Many Syrians say the Assad regime, along with the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, is specifically targeting Syria’s Sunni Arab majority. Syria’s rebels are mostly Sunni, while those defending the regime are mainly members of Mr. Assad’s Shiite-linked Alawite minority and Shiite foreign fighters.

 

Only two pro-regime Shiite villages remain in northern Idlib province after Mr. Assad lost an air base there this week to the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front. Both Mr. Assad and his main allies in the war—Hezbollah, Iran and Russia—appear intent on maintaining control over Damascus and a corridor of territory connecting the capital with the Mediterranean coast via Homs…

 

In Damascus, the demographic changes aimed at surrounding Mr. Assad with regime-friendly groups are increasingly visible. Many residents say parts of the city’s historic quarter are now unrecognizable because of the growing presence of Iran-trained Syrian Shiite militiamen and their families. Several predominantly Sunni areas around Damascus have been recently recaptured by the regime and its allies, prompting most residents who are seen as sympathetic to the opposition to flee. Syrian officials say they are proceeding with an ambitious urban renewal plan that seeks to construct better housing and infrastructure, and that there are no broader efforts to repopulate cities with people friendly to the regime.

 

“Our current preoccupation is people’s return,” said Homs governor Talal al-Barazi, who was appointed by Mr. Assad. “Demographic changes in any area are forbidden.” A 27-year-old mechanical engineer and opposition activist, who asked not to be identified because his family remains in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, estimates that only 500,000 civilians are left in the area. That’s about one-third the number from two years ago, when the regime was blamed for a major chemical weapons attack on the area.

 

Since then the regime has kept up its bombardment of the area. In August, 556 people, including 123 children, were killed in regime airstrikes on the area, according to tallies released by local medics. The activist arrived in Beirut last month after paying to be smuggled out through a tunnel that connects the eastern suburbs with Damascus. Many Syrians who come to Lebanon are looking to move on to Europe. And those who had settled temporarily in Tripoli are doing the same.

 

Since the start of the conflict in Syria, this northern Lebanese city transformed into a “second Homs” for many natives of the Syrian city. Located just about 70 miles from Tripoli, Homs is close by but remains a distant dream for many Syrians. “It’s impossible to go back,” said Saeed Al-Sowas, a Homs native living in Tripoli. “Even those who remain inside now feel like strangers in their homeland.” Mr. Sowas, 25 years old, who now works in a barber shop in Tripoli, says he can count at least 40 of his friends and acquaintances, mostly Homs natives, who left Tripoli for Europe since the start of this summer. He plans to join them in Europe by the end of September. He was able to obtain a Syrian passport for $1,100, a sum that he said included bribes. The Sowas family home is in central Homs, a heavily damaged area that remains largely abandoned after the regime regained it from rebels in May 2014.

 

In Damascus, authorities last month began implementing a plan to build new housing units, and have started razing predominantly Sunni areas designated as illegal slums. A ceremony last month inaugurated a section of the reclaimed land for a park dedicated to the late dictator Kim Il Sung of North Korea, which has long cooperated with Syria on military and trade affairs. As many as 150,000 people living in the slums risk being displaced. Similar slums in the city occupied by Alawites weren’t affected by the regime’s housing plan…

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

 

                                                                       

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FOR SYRIAN REFUGEES IN ITALY, ISRAEL REMAINS ENEMY #1                                                               

Rossella Tercatin                                     

Times of Israel, Sept. 12, 2015

 

At a migrant reception center near Milan’s central train station, two-year-old Mahmoud sleeps on a pillow in a pair of patched-up grey pajamas, exhausted after fleeing Damascus a month ago with his parents and relatives. Their nightmarish journey across the Mediterranean Sea from Libya was marred by beatings, starvation and dehydration, and the fear of drowning in rough waters. Yet despite the cruelty at the hands of Libyan smugglers, despite the suffering that was inflicted upon them by their own government that forced them to flee for their lives, Mahmoud’s family and other Syrian refugees I met still view Israel as their real enemy.

 

“First of all I respect all religions, including Judaism… In Syria we have all races and religions living together, we are all brothers… but Israel, Israel is the ultimate enemy, that’s what we’ve been told since we were kids,” said baby Mahmud’s cousin Adman, 21, who studied tourism in Syria. “But I want to stress something: Jews are not my enemy. Zionists are my enemy.” Adman was surprised that he was being interviewed by a Jewish reporter, and, more so, for an Israeli newspaper. He jumped.

 

“Wow, I’m almost shaking. I’ve never met a Jew before,” he said and paused. “Why would an Israeli paper be interested in stories about Syrian refugees,” he asked. He was amazed after I told him about the current debates in Israel concerning the absorption of refugees from Syria, and how the Israeli military was treating wounded Syrians in makeshift field hospitals near the border. Despite his surprise and interest, he still warned me not tell the other refugees that I was Jewish. “Some of them could react badly,” he said.

 

Sitting with her parents and brother, Mais, 21, is another refugee from Syria whose family also harbors strong resentment towards Israel. “Israel is a colonial power, that’s it. They stole the Palestinians’ land,” her mother Inaia was quick to respond when asked her thoughts on the subject. Beneath her bright purple headscarf, Mais smiles sweetly, looking a bit tired, but relieved that the horrific journey from Syria was behind her. “Our house was bombarded three times and the road my brother and I used to take to go to university does not exist any more,” she said. “There was no future in Syria.”

 

Mais’s family tried fleeing to Egypt two years ago but without success. “We wanted to be in a fellow Arab country, we felt it was important. But they treated us extremely badly,” explained her father Imad, who worked in olive production back home in Idlib. “We could not work, we could not do anything.”

 

As the night goes on, many refugees leave for designated shelters. Each are provided with a bright orange cloth bag of toiletries and other basic goods from donors and organizations. Twenty-eight-year-old Rima works for one of those organizations — Arca, the Italian NGO, which was chosen by Milan’s municipality to run the migrant registration facility. Since 2013, Arca has registered and assisted about 87,000 migrants, most of them Syrians and Eritreans. Rima moved to Italy from Syria in 2004 with her family but moved back to Syria in 2009 because of the economic crisis. With the start of the Syrian civil war, they moved yet again to Italy.

 

Rima is a veteran at the center. She registers the migrants, jokes with them, listens to their requests, translates, talks on the phone and organizes their accommodations for the night in one of the several shelters set up in the city. “Since the beginning of the war I have lost an uncle, some cousins, a baby nephew. This is why working in this center for me is so important,” she said. “It’s the one thing I can do for my people. Everyone here could be my family. Their pain is my pain.”

 

When she finds out that I am interested in understanding what Syrians think about Israel, she hesitates but is willing to engage. “For Syrians, Israel is Palestinian territory,” she explained. “Palestinians are our relatives, our friends, our neighbors, because a lot of them flee to Syria. My paternal grandmother is Palestinian, she left Haifa in 1948, when she was 10.” But, she insisted that she isn’t in any way against Jews. “It’s written in the Quran, we must respect Jews,” she said. Asked about her perspective on the war in Syria, she says that the war will end when Russia and Iran will stop giving arms to the regime, and America will decide that they have had enough.

 

Only a few hundred feet away from the shelter providing temporary refuge for the migrants is Milan’s Holocaust Memorial. So, it is only natural for the Holocaust to come up in conversation. “I know about the Holocaust and when I was in Italy I always took part in the ceremonies for [Holocaust] Memorial Day at school. It was terrible,” said Rima. “In Syria, we don’t study it in the same way, it’s only a couple of lines of the textbooks. That is why I wanted to find out more about it, and I saw some movies on the topic, like ‘The Pianist.'” However, when asked if she would be willing to read or explore different perspectives on Middle East issues and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she simply said, “Not really, I don’t read too much.”

 

A similar reaction arose when I brought up the possibility of a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. “I don’t think that Jews should have a state. They are a religion, not a people,” Rima explained. “They can be Syrian Jews, German Jews, Italian Jews. But I don’t think a Jewish state has any reason to exist.”      

                                                          

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FACING IRAN ON ITS OWN                                                                                             

Louis Rene Beres

Breaking Israel News, Sept. 8, 2015

 

In core matters of war and peace, timing is everything. For Israel, now cheerlessly confirmed in its long-held view that U.S.-led diplomacy with Iran was misconceived, future strategic options should be determined with great care. In essence, this means that the beleaguered mini-state’s nuclear policies, going forward, should be extrapolated from carefully fashioned doctrine, and not assembled, ad hoc, or “on the fly,” in assorted and more-or-less discrete reactions to periodic crises.

 

More precisely, should Israel decide to decline any residual preemption options, and prepare instead for aptly reliable and protracted dissuasion of its nearly-nuclear Iranian adversary, several corresponding decisions would be necessary. These closely-intersecting judgments would concern a still-expanding role for multilayered ballistic missile defense, and also, a well-reasoned and incremental discontinuance of deliberate nuclear ambiguity. In this connection, among other things, Jerusalem will need to convince Tehran that Israel’s nuclear forces are (1) substantially secure from all enemy first-strike attacks, and (2) entirely capable of penetrating all enemy active defenses.

 

To succeed with any policy of long-term deterrence, a nearly-nuclear Iran would first need to be convinced that Israel’s nuclear weapons were actually usable. In turn, this complex task of strategic persuasion would require some consciously nuanced efforts to remove “the bomb” from Israel’s “basement.” One specific reason for undertaking any such conspicuous removal would be to assure Iranian decision-makers that Israeli nuclear weapons were not only abundantly “real,” but also amenable to variable situational calibrations. The strategic rationale of such assurance would be to convince Iran that Israel stands ready to confront widely-different degrees of plausible enemy threat.

 

In the “good old days” of the original U.S.-U.S.S.R. Cold War  (we may now be on the brink of “Cold War II”), such tangibly measured strategic calculations had been granted their own specific name. Then, the proper term was “escalation dominance.” Early on, therefore, it had been understood, by both superpowers, that adequate security from nuclear attack must always include not only mutually-reinforcing or “synergistic” protections against “bolt-from-the-blue” missile attacks, but also the avoidance of unwitting or uncontrolled escalations. Such unpredictably rapid jumps in coercive intensity, it had already been noted, could too-quickly propel certain determined adversaries from “normally” conventional engagements to atomic war.

 

Occasionally, especially in many-sided strategic calculations, truth can be counter-intuitive. On this point, regarding needed Israeli preparations for safety from a nearly-nuclear Iran, there exists an obvious, but still generally overlooked, irony. It is that in all foreseeable circumstances of nuclear deterrence, the credibility of pertinent Israeli threats could sometimes vary inversely with perceived destructiveness. This suggests, at a minimum, that one distinctly compelling reason for moving deliberately from nuclear ambiguity to certain limited forms of nuclear disclosure would be to communicate the following vital message to Iran: Israel’s retaliatory nuclear weapons are not too destructive for actual operational use.

 

Soon, Israel’s decision-makers will need to proceed more self-consciously and explicitly on rendering another important judgment. This closely-related decision would concern making an essentially fundamental strategic choice between “assured destruction” and “nuclear war fighting” postures. To draw upon appropriate military parlance, assured destruction strategies are those postures generally referred to as “counter-value” or “mutual assured destruction” (MAD) strategies…

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

 

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On Topic

                                                                                                        

Middle East Provocations and Predictions: Daniel Pipes, Mackenzie Institute, Sept. 9, 2015—The Middle East stands out as the world’s most volatile, combustible, and troubled region; not coincidentally, it also inspires the most intense policy debates – think of the Arab-Israeli conflict or the Iran deal. The following tour d’horizon offers interpretations and speculations on Iran, ISIS, Syria-Iraq, the Kurds, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Islamism, then concludes with some thoughts on policy choices. My one-sentence conclusion: some good news lies under the onslaught of misunderstandings, mistakes, and misery.

The Russian Bear in Sheep’s Clothing: Andrew Foxall, New York Times, Sept. 15, 2015 —Syria is being destroyed. The civil war, now more than four years old, has left the country in ruins. The implacable Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant controls vast areas of the north and east, and the barbaric regime of President Bashar al-Assad maintains its Damascus stronghold.

Iran: Russia to Help Us Improve Our Centrifuges: Times of Israel, Sept. 16, 2015—Russia has agreed to help Iran upgrade its uranium-enriching centrifuges, Iran’s nuclear chief said.

Migrants Pose as Syrians to Open Door to Asylum in Europe: Manuela Mesco, Matt Bradley & Giovanni Legorano, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 12, 2015—At Budapest’s Keleti Train Station last week, Mahmoud, a Syrian from Aleppo, looked around the underground concourse packed with new arrivals like himself.