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

Month: February 2016

IRAN’S “MODERATES” — PRE-SCREENED BY AYATOLLAHS — WIN ELECTION, WHILE TEHRAN AIDS TERRORISTS & MAY BE CONTINUING NUCLEAR WORK

 

 

Moderation, Tehran Style: Wall Street Journal, Feb. 28, 2016— One of the Obama Administration’s hopes for its nuclear deal with Iran was that it would empower regime moderates.

Iran Pledges Cash for Killing Jews: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Feb. 24, 2016— In recent weeks, publications like the New York Times have been reporting about post-nuclear deal Iran and speculating about which sector of its society will benefit the most from the cash windfall that will result from the end of international sanctions on Tehran.

Will Iran Continue Its Nuclear Program Abroad?: Emily B. Landau & Alon Levkowitz, National Interest, Feb. 19, 2016 — Debate surrounding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) tends to focus on the deal itself, its strengths, weaknesses and the prospects for successful implementation.

Phony Truce: Lee Smith, Weekly Standard, Mar. 7, 2016— No one really believes that the Syria truce scheduled to begin February 26—to bring a "cessation of hostilities" to the nearly five-year-old conflict—is going to hold.

 

On Topic Links

 

Moderates, Reformists Win Key Iran Election Races: Aresu Eqbali & Asa Fitch, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 29, 2016

US Appeals Court: Terror Victims Can Seize $9.4 Million of Iran Funds: Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 28, 2016

Israeli Defense Minister: Iran Setting Up Global Terror Network, 'Including in Europe and America': Ha’aretz, Feb. 24, 2016

Assad’s Victory is at Hand: Robert Fulford, National Post, Feb. 27, 2016

         

 

           MODERATION, TEHRAN STYLE

Wall Street Journal, Feb. 28, 2016

 

One of the Obama Administration’s hopes for its nuclear deal with Iran was that it would empower regime moderates. So it’s no surprise that the deal’s cheerleaders are proclaiming Friday’s election results as a triumph for the Islamic Republic’s “moderate” and “reformist” factions. That depends on the meaning of the word “moderate.”

 

At stake Friday were seats in the Majlis, or Parliament, and the Assembly of Experts, the body that will select Iran’s next Supreme Leader. Like all Iranian elections, the vote was a carefully stage-managed process. Iranians picked from among candidates prescreened for ideological orthodoxy by the unelected Guardian Council and various security agencies.

 

The Guardians disqualified 6,000, or nearly half, of the original candidates to the Majlis. Of the 801 candidates to the Assembly of Experts, only a quarter, or 161, made it to the ballot. Most of the disqualified candidates belonged to the reformist and moderate factions of the regime. Imagine U.S. midterm elections in which the White House was able to ban all Tea Party or even nonprogressive Democratic candidates from the ballot.

 

Western media are nonetheless describing the results as an “embarrassing defeat” for the regime’s hard-liners and the moderates’ “best nationwide electoral showing in more than a decade,” as the Associated Press put it. Of particular note are the results in the capital, Tehran, a national barometer where on Sunday it appeared that candidates on the moderate list had swept all 30 seats in the Majlis.

 

Some moderates. Consider Mostafa Kavakebian. The General Secretary of Iran’s Democratic Party, Mr. Kavakebian is projected to enter the Majlis as a member for Tehran. In a 2008 speech he said: “The people who currently reside in Israel aren’t humans, and this region is comprised of a group of soldiers and occupiers who openly wage war on the people.”

 

Another moderate is  Kazem Jalali, who previously served as the spokesman for the National Security and Foreign Affairs Committee of the Majlis and is projected to have won a seat. In 2011 Mr. Jalali said his committee “demands the harshest punishment”—meaning the death penalty—for  Mir Hossein Mousavi and  Mehdi Karroubi, the two leaders of the pro-democracy Green Movement that was bloodily suppressed after stolen elections in 2009. Those two leaders are still under house arrest.

 

As for new Assembly of Experts, many of the “moderates” projected to have won seats were also listed on the hard-liners’ lists, since the ratio of candidates to seats was well below two. The winners include Mohammad Reyshahry, a former Intelligence Minister believed to have helped spearhead the 1988 summary execution of thousands of leftists; Ghorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi, another former Intelligence Minister believed to have directed the “chain murders” of the late 1990s; and Ayatollah Yousef Tabatabainejad, a fierce opponent of women’s rights who has called Israel “a cancerous tumor.”

 

The political reality in Iran is that the Ayatollahs, backed by the Revolutionary Guards, remain firmly in control.                                                                       

Contents

   IRAN PLEDGES CASH FOR KILLING JEWS

Jonathan S. Tobin       

Commentary, Feb. 24, 2016

 

In recent weeks, publications like the New York Times have been reporting about post-nuclear deal Iran and speculating about which sector of its society will benefit the most from the cash windfall that will result from the end of international sanctions on Tehran. The short answer to that question is that very little of the billions that will flow into Iran will find its way to ordinary citizens. Instead, most of it will wind up in the coffers of the government, its Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the companies that terror group and the regime control.

 

But it won’t be just the IRGC and the entities directly under the ayatollahs’ control that benefits from Western largesse. Iran’s ambassador to Lebanon has announced that Iran will now be offering new cash bonuses to Palestinian terrorists. As the Times of Israel reports: Mohammad Fateh Ali said Tehran will give $7,000 to families of “martyrs of the intifada in occupied Jerusalem” and a further “$30,000 to every family whose home the occupation has demolished for the participation of one of its sons,” according to local news reports.

 

It should be noted that the Palestinian Authority already pays pensions to the families of Palestinians that have been jailed by Israel for terrorism. Indeed, PA TV has a regular program profiling such people and treating them as heroes and martyrs. This is an integral part of a political culture that considers Jews to have no rights to any part of the country, including pre-1967 Israel. More importantly, Palestinian public opinion, egged on by the official media of both Fatah and Hamas, treat attacks on individual Jews, including women, children and the elderly as acts of heroism, not crimes. But the offer of cash bonuses from Iran to those Arabs who seek out random Jews for slaughter in what is known as the “stabbing intifada,” lends added legitimacy to a society that has legitimized terror.

 

It should be noted that during the past few months, 32 people have been killed in the terror surge that began when the PA and its leader Mahmoud Abbas spread the lie that Israel was planning to harm the mosques on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. Though apologists for the Palestinians have tried to place the blame for the violence on Israeli policies, the bloodshed is rooted in hatred for Jews. As the Palestinians have made clear, they view Jews sitting in Tel Aviv cafes as being as much of a legitimate target as those living in remote West Bank hilltop settlements. Moreover, the Palestinians refusal to negotiate, let alone accept repeated Israeli peace offers, gives the lie to the idea that more concessions from the Netanyahu government or territorial withdrawals would magically end the conflict.

 

But Iran’s willingness to inject its financial power into the already toxic Palestinian political culture ought to particularly worry an Obama administration that has sought to create a new détente with Tehran. On the same day as Iran’s cash for terror offer, reports were published of meetings in Tehran with representatives from Hamas. The agenda was apparently another Iranian financial offer, this time to help fund Hamas terrorism against Israel.

 

Iran was Hamas’s chief sponsor during the second intifada. But the group broke with the Iranians when Hamas joined other Sunni Muslim groups in calling for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s ouster. But now, thanks to military intervention by Iran, its Hezbollah auxiliaries, and Russia (as well as American acquiescence to Iran’s foreign policy goals in the wake of the nuclear deal), that Assad’s continued rule is assured, Hamas has reconciled with its former patron. The IRGC is planning to funnel even more aid to Hamas that will allow it to continue its terror tunnel-building program in Gaza as well as to replenish and upgrade its rocket arsenal.

 

Of course, Iran is interested in more than just helping Palestinians who kill Jews. They wish to expand their influence among Palestinians as part of their push for regional hegemony that so scares Arab nations like Egypt and Jordan as well as Saudi Arabia. This has created an upside down regional alignment that finds these Arab states allying themselves with Israel as they seek mutual protection against an increasingly aggressive Iran.

 

Iran’s desire to make mischief and to maintain pressure on Israel isn’t new. But the nuclear deal that President Obama imagined would be the start of a new and more peaceful era is giving Tehran the economic muscle to make the region even more dangerous. Instead of helping Iran to, as President Obama hoped, “get right with the world,” those who argued that the deal was good for Israel must now account for the fact that the West’s cash will now subsidize the slaughter of Jews.                                                                                  

 

Contents

WILL IRAN CONTINUE ITS NUCLEAR PROGRAM ABROAD?

Emily B. Landau & Alon Levkowitz                                                

    National Interest, Feb. 19, 2016

 

Debate surrounding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) tends to focus on the deal itself, its strengths, weaknesses and the prospects for successful implementation. Experts have discussed whether the deal—even if upheld—means that Iran will be prevented from developing a nuclear weapon forever, or whether it merely delays Iran on its path to a workable nuclear capability. While the P5+1 insist the deal stops Iran forever, serious doubts have been raised regarding the political will of these powers to hold Iran to its commitments, especially given their apparent hesitation to arouse Iran’s ire, thus endangering the deal.

 

But one issue has been sorely missing from the discussion: the prospect that Iran might continue important work on a nuclear weapons capability beyond the bounds of the agreement, and even beyond the borders of Iran itself. Indeed, there is a strong possibility that Iran will continue to benefit from North Korea's nuclear advances, and some of Iran's nuclear activities might take place in North Korea itself, using the hermit state as a convenient backyard.

 

For Iran to do so would make perfect strategic sense. Iran has a clear interest in latching onto North Korea's program—Pyongyang both has technology that Tehran wants and seems to care only about being paid, as demonstrated by the nuclear cooperation between North Korea and Syria. There is already evidence of Iranian-North Korean cooperation in the ballistic missile field, cooperation with implications that extend to the nuclear realm as well.

 

There’s a history. The security relations between Iran and North Korea began during the Iran-Iraq war, and since that time, their missile and, later, nuclear cooperation has continued and expanded. In September 2012, for example, Iran and North Korea signed an agreement for technological and scientific cooperation. A few years ago, they also established the "anti-hegemonic front." The extensive cooperation between the two states has, over the years, included mutual visits by top North Korean and Iranian nuclear and missile scientists, including to Syria as well. The official delegations, and exchanges of scientists, demonstrate the wide range of relations between the two states. Missile technologies developed by North Korea were assimilated in Iranian Shahab missiles, and a failed missile test in Syria in 2007 caused the death of Syrian, Iranian and North Korean experts.

 

It is difficult to know the precise extent of cooperation between Tehran and Pyongyang in the nuclear realm, partly due to difficulties in the intelligence field—namely, collecting hard evidence from the two countries—and partly due to the lack of incentive on the part of the U.S. intelligence agencies to share findings that might cause difficulties in the P5+1 framework. Still, it is known that Iranians were present at some of North Korea's nuclear and missile tests, and that North Korea built the reactor in Syria that was bombed in 2007, which it is safe to assume that Iran at least had knowledge of, if not more direct involvement. The Syrian-North Korean nuclear cooperation demonstrates Pyongyang's willingness to sell its nuclear know-how and hardware to the highest bidder. One could imagine that Pyongyang would be willing to share with Iran its experience from four nuclear tests, for the right price. After all, North Korea is in dire need of financial assistance due to economic setbacks and strained relations with Beijing.

 

What does each state gain from the bilateral cooperation? Iran gets nonconventional technologies and the expertise that it needs, while North Korea benefits economically by selling its know-how. Moreover, for Iran this opens a backdoor channel, conveniently beyond the bounds of inspections and scrutiny, and the JCPOA itself. So Iran can make necessary advances in North Korea, while ostensibly adhering to the agreement with the P5+1.

 

There is certainly enough in each country’s recent history for this to be an ongoing topic of investigation, so why is so little attention paid to this danger? Why are the critics of the JCPOA not talking about this concern?

 

We don’t have the answer, but North Korea's fourth nuclear test, carried out in early January, and its more recent satellite launch have given a boost to those that are asking questions, and some in Congress have recently demanded that the Obama administration reveal to Congress what it knows about the two countries' nuclear cooperation. But when the P5+1 feel perfectly comfortable closing the file on Iran's past weaponization work, despite the damning IAEA report released in early December 2015, they do not inspire trust—not as far as getting to the bottom of Iran's nuclear weapons work is concerned.

 

This issue cannot be ignored, as it could prove crucial in Iran’s ongoing drive to maintain a nuclear breakout capability. Beyond the evidence of cooperation between the two countries that has already accumulated, these bilateral ties should be watched very closely for the simple reason that it makes perfect strategic and economic sense for the two to continue what is obviously highly beneficial mutual collaboration.

 

                                                                        Contents

PHONY TRUCE

       Lee Smith

                                 Weekly Standard, Mar. 7, 2016

 

No one really believes that the Syria truce scheduled to begin February 26—to bring a "cessation of hostilities" to the nearly five-year-old conflict—is going to hold. And nearly everyone, at home and abroad, agrees that the problem with the agreement John Kerry worked out with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov is Russia.

 

If the ceasefire "hinges on Russia's good intentions," said British foreign secretary Philip Hammond, "it will fail before it gets off the ground." Democrats and Republicans voiced similar concerns last week when Kerry testified on Capitol Hill. If Russia violates the agreement, will the White House push back? Kerry said yes, but history is on the side of the skeptics. "Russia knows there will be no Plan B," said Sen. Bob Corker. "The only thing Russia has been consistent about is failing to keep its word," said Sen. John Barrasso.

 

Even administration officials are doubtful. Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford, and CIA director John Brennan don't believe that Russia is going to abide by the terms of the ceasefire. And there's good reason for skepticism: Russia, a central participant in the hostilities, wrote the rules to give itself plenty of flexibility. And what's worse, what American allies and especially American officials are loath to point out, is that the secretary of state is acting like Russia's defense lawyer. Whatever Moscow has in mind, Kerry is providing pre-emptive cover to justify it.

 

The truce stipulates that everyone put down their guns, but no one expects the Islamic State or Jabhat al-Nusra, the al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, to stop fighting. Hence, operations against these two groups will continue as usual. And, so it seems, will Russia's campaign against any other organization arrayed against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, because this is what Moscow has done up until now. Indeed, the way Vladimir Putin sees it, any rebel unit he hits is by definition a terrorist group.

 

When Russian planes hit hospitals and schools to terrorize civilians and send more rushing for the Turkish border, those aren't really hospitals and schools. According to Putin and his diplomats, those are terrorists. Given the cruelty and cynicism of the Russians, we can be fairly certain they will continue to bomb anyone they like, including civilians, during the "ceasefire."

Kerry doesn't think that's a problem, even if some of those rebel groups Putin has been hitting are backed by the CIA. If you don't put down your weapons, says Kerry, "if you don't choose to be part of [the agreement] then you are choosing to perhaps make yourself a target."

 

Okay, say that you're willing to abide by the truce, and you put down your arms, but the Russians bomb you anyway because Moscow sees the whole deal as an American invitation to shoot fish in a barrel—that is, to shoot the anti-Assad rebel units that Kerry disarmed with his bogus truce. Now, say you fight back against the Russians, or Assad, or the Iranians, or whoever else is shooting at you and your family. It's you who will be in violation of the agreement—not Russia. You can complain all you want, but good luck, because Russia not only wrote the rules, Russia is also the referee.

 

True, Washington and Moscow are co-chairs of the International Syrian Support Group "task force" established to implement the agreement and monitor compliance. But only Russia is on the ground in sufficient numbers to monitor and compel compliance. And in any case, the Obama administration isn't going to call out Putin for violating the agreement. That might make Moscow angry. And as John Kerry put it recently, "What do you want me to do? Go to war with Russia? Is that what you want?"

 

The secretary of state was speaking with Syrian opposition figures and aid workers. They petitioned him to stop siding with Russia and represent their interests, for once. "Don't blame me," said America's top diplomat. "Go and blame your opposition." Kerry will never forgive the Syrian opposition for not letting him surrender on their behalf to the forces that have slaughtered them for five years and who have no plans to stop now. The Russian-designed and White House-sponsored ceasefire is going to leave them defenseless.

 

The paradox at the heart of the truce is that it was supposed to facilitate humanitarian assistance. It was supposed to bring some relief to those whom Assad's forces, Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia have been killing. But it won't bring them relief; it will just make them more vulnerable by disarming the only people who are protecting them. The Syrian opposition knows this; so does the British foreign secretary and everyone on Capitol Hill, as well as the Pentagon and the CIA. On the other side, the Russians, Iranians, and Assad all know this, too. It's hard to know which would be worse—that the secretary of state and the president he answers to don't understand this or that they do.

 

On Topic

 

Moderates, Reformists Win Key Iran Election Races: Aresu Eqbali & Asa Fitch, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 29, 2016—Moderates and reformists close to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have won key seats in Iran’s parliament and Assembly of Experts…

US Appeals Court: Terror Victims Can Seize $9.4 Million of Iran Funds: Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 28, 2016—Victims of a 1997 triple suicide bombing in Jerusalem have won a major US appeals court judgment involving an award of $9.4 million in damages.

Israeli Defense Minister: Iran Setting Up Global Terror Network, 'Including in Europe and America': Ha’aretz, Feb. 24, 2016—Israel's defense minister on Wednesday accused Iran of building an international terror network that includes "sleeper cells" that are stockpiling arms, intelligence and operatives in order to strike on command in places including Europe and the U.S.

Assad’s Victory is at Hand: Robert Fulford, National Post, Feb. 27, 2016—More than a quarter of a million Syrians have been killed since the Arab Spring of 2011 set the stage for the civil war in Syria. About 11 million other Syrians have been forced from their homes by the fighting. About four million have left the country in an attempt to find safety elsewhere. As a UN report recently put it, Syria is a “fractured state on the brink of collapse.”

 

 

 

                        

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

ISRAEL SPACE WEEK HONOURS RAMON; BEERSHEBA BECOMING NATION’S “CYBER CAPITAL”; SPECTRES OF THE SHOAH NOMINATED FOR OSCAR

 

 

CANADIAN INSTITUTE FOR JEWISH RESEARCH PRESENTS THE 28TH ANNUAL GALA:

Israel in Space: Beyond the Blue (and White) Horizon — “Technology, Economy, Security.” In commemoration of Ilan Ramon z”l. Keynote speaker: Tal Inbar, head of the Space Research Center, the Fischer Institute for Air & Space Strategic Studies. Mr. Inbar will discuss the topic “The Israeli Space Endeavor: Accomplishments and Future Challenges.” Join CIJR for this special evening that will include a cocktail reception and dinner, video presentation by Rona Ramon (Ilan Ramon’s widow), greetings from the Canadian Space Agency, and more. This event will take place at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of Montreal, Thursday, April 14, 2016. For more information and tickets, call 514-486-5544, email yunna@isranet.org, or register online at our website: www.isranet.org   

 

 

Israeli Innovation is Out of this World During Space Week: Bradley Martin, JNS, Feb. 8, 2016— While Israel already has a reputation for being the “start-up nation” and a major hub for technological innovation, this year’s Space Week in the Jewish state showed that Israeli ingenuity is—quite literally—out of this world.

Remnants of Astronaut Ilan Ramon's Final Space Experiment Arrive in Israel: Ido Efrati, Ha’aretz, Feb. 2, 2016— On the 13th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, in which Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon died along with six other crew members, the remnants of the experiment Ramon conducted in space have been returned to his homeland.

Israel’s Cyber Sector Blooms in the Desert: Jean-Luc Renaudie, Times of Israel, Jan. 30, 2016 — A modern metropolis rising from Israel’s Negev desert stands on the front-line of a global war against hacking and cyber crime, fulfilling an ambition of the country’s founding father.

The Unmaking of Claude Lanzmann: Matthew Hays, The Walrus, Feb. 25, 2016— There are, in general, two responses to seeing the Holocaust depicted on screen.

 

On Topic Links

 

Lung Surgery on Fetus in Mother's Womb (Video): Youtube, Jan. 25, 2016

'Israel's Space Program Lagging Behind, as Iran's Surges Forward': Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 2, 2016

IDF Training to Defend Against Cyber Attacks on Vital Infrastructure: Yoav Zitun, Ynet, Feb. 17, 2016

Business Analyst Explains Why ‘You Will Work for Israel One Day’: Shiryn Ghermezian, Algemeiner, Feb. 8, 2016

         

 

 

 

ISRAELI INNOVATION IS OUT OF THIS WORLD DURING SPACE WEEK

Bradley Martin

JNS, Feb. 8, 2016

 

While Israel already has a reputation for being the “start-up nation” and a major hub for technological innovation, this year’s Space Week in the Jewish state showed that Israeli ingenuity is—quite literally—out of this world. In a culmination of events highlighting Israel’s contributions to space exploration, Space Week 2016 honored the late Col. Ilan Ramon, the first and only Israeli astronaut. Ramon was a space shuttle payload specialist who was killed along with his six crew members when the Columbia shuttle disintegrated upon re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere on Feb. 2, 2003.

 

Every year, the Ramon Foundation, in conjunction with the Israeli Ministry of Science and the Israel Space Agency, organizes a number of events hosting astronauts and leading space scientists. The purpose, according to the Ramon Foundation, is for these individuals “to visit as many schools, space clubs, and science centers as possible.”

 

“The goal is to get as many young people as possible exposed to space research and develop their sense of curiosity in the sciences,” said Israeli Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis. For the event, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) loaned artifacts used by Ramon. Exhibited at the Israeli Air Force Center in Herzliya, NASA included a camera used by Ramon in space, his control system, a recording drive, and other electronic equipment. Ramon was also carrying out a Mediterranean Israeli Dust Experiment (MEIDEX) while in space. In an exhibit designed by Tel Aviv University, NASA sent remains of that experiment to be displayed in Israel for the first time.

 

Rona Ramon launched the Ramon Foundation in her late husband’s honor, asking NASA chief Charles Bolden if the items could be brought to Israel for Space Week.  “I’m moved that the head of NASA remembered my request and that he answered affirmatively that we could bring parts of the shuttle to Israel to enable our young people to get inspiration from the stories of Ilan. We hope that the next generation will take heart and inspiration from the story of Ilan and the shuttle,” said Rona Ramon.

 

NASA astronauts Garrett Reisman, Shannon Walker, and Joseph Acaba arrived in Israel in order to take part in the numerous lectures and discussions on space exploration. Other eminent individuals who came to Israel to participate in the events included Yi So-yeon, a biotechnologist and astronaut who became the first Korean to fly in space, and Samantha Cristoforetti, who is the first Italian woman in space. She also holds the records for the longest single space flight by a woman and the first person to have brewed an espresso coffee in space.

 

Israel is reportedly the smallest country in the world to launch its own satellites. It is also one of only 11 states with the ability to independently launch unmanned missions into space. Currently, Israel has 15 civilian satellites orbiting the Earth, two-thirds of which are communication devices, with the remainder being communication platforms.

 

Israeli space technology has played a critical role in the exploration of Mars. The Product Lifestyle Management software that enabled NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories to accurately model the performance of the Curiosity rover was developed by Siemens in Israel.

 

It was announced last week that the Israel Space Agency will become an official member of the United Nations Committee on Space Affairs. This comes after Israel was accepted into the U.N. Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in October 2015.

 

“Israel will be able to contribute more of our know-how and abilities for peace, and pave the way for expanding international cooperation in space. We will be part of a small circle of countries that influence world priorities in the field,” said Daniel Brook, an ISA adviser on international cooperation. This accord is expected to allow Israeli experts to influence global projects, such as helping rescue teams during disasters, by using satellites in real-time.

 

Israeli space explorers now have their sights set on planting their flag on the Moon. SpaceIL is an Israeli non-profit organization competing in the Google Lunar X Prize, to launch a spacecraft on the Moon by 2017. GLXP is offering $20 million to land a robot on the Moon, travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and have it send video, images, and data back to Earth.

 

On a shoestring budget, SpaceIL stands out from its well-funded competition as being the only non-profit organization in the competition whose team is 95 percent comprised of volunteers. SpaceIL aims to be the smallest and lightest spacecraft to ever land on the Moon.               

                                                                       

Contents

REMNANTS OF ASTRONAUT ILAN RAMON'S FINAL

SPACE EXPERIMENT ARRIVE IN ISRAEL

            Ido Efrati            

Ha’aretz, Feb. 2, 2016

 

On the 13th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, in which Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon died along with six other crew members, the remnants of the experiment Ramon conducted in space have been returned to his homeland. The Mediterranean Israeli Dust Experiment (MEIDEX) was intended to study desert dust storms and how they affected the climate. The materials are being exhibited as part of Israel Space Week, and Nasa has sent a number of astronauts to participate in the event.

 

The remains of the experiment were brought to Israel partly in response to a request from Ramon’s widow, Rona, who is head of the Ramon Foundation, an educational organization she established after her deaths of her husband Ilan and son Asaf. She requested that the materials be brought to Israel for the first time, to allow young people in Israel to be exposed to the world of research science in space.

 

After the Columbia disaster on February 1, 2003 – when the space shuttle disintegrated over Texas and Louisiana as it reentered Earth’s atmosphere – Nasa began collecting and identifying the remnants of the shuttle, with the public’s help. Among the items found were the camera Ramon had used for the experiment, along with its control system, camera lenses, supports, recording device and other electronic items.

 

The MEIDEX experiment was planned by scientists from the Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences at Tel Aviv University, and was performed by Ramon onboard the space shuttle. An Israeli-U.S. collaboration, it was part of the program to send an Israeli astronaut on a NASA space shuttle. More than 80 percent of the results of the Israeli experiments conducted on Columbia were successfully relayed to Earth prior to the spacecraft’s disintegration.

 

The experiments yielded a number of important scientific results and findings. Photographs taken by Ramon, for example, provided initial proof that dust inhibits the development of clouds. The MEIDEX experiment was intended to aid in the study of world climatic change, and entailed observing Mediterranean dust storms. It explored the phenomenon of desert dust as a pivotal factor in global warming.

 

Another experiment conducted using the MEIDEX camera yielded unique photographs of lightning storms. The Columbia crew was asked to document “sprites” – an electromagnetic phenomenon that occurs at high altitudes. The experiment contained ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared array-detector cameras and was launched onboard the shuttle to obtain calibrated images of desert and transported pollution aerosols over land and sea. The experiment was designed to provide sound scientific information about atmospheric aerosols.

 

In the second week of Columbia’s mission (which ran from January 16 until February 1), fierce storms raged over the Atlantic Ocean. In nine orbits, the astronauts photographed and recorded dust plumes moving westward from Africa. The results of the experiments are still providing data for scientific research to this day.

                                                                                   

 

Contents

ISRAEL'S CYBER SECTOR BLOOMS IN THE DESERT

Jean-Luc Renaudie                                                        

Times of Israel, Jan. 30, 2016

 

A modern metropolis rising from Israel’s Negev desert stands on the front-line of a global war against hacking and cyber crime, fulfilling an ambition of the country’s founding father. David Ben-Gurion famously said he wanted to make the Negev bloom. Today, in the streets of Beersheba, a city of 200,000, his dream is taking shape in a form he likely did not anticipate.

 

Long a poor relation of hyper-modern Tel Aviv, Beersheba has traditionally been a refuge for poor, working class and Sephardic Jews of Middle Eastern descent. But the city in the vast Negev desert of southern Israel has experienced a rapid gentrification since the start of the decade, during which middle class neighborhoods have expanded.

 

The real estate boom in Beersheba has been fueled by the city’s ambition to be Israel’s cyber capital, especially since the creation of its industrial park CyberSpark. Two ultra-modern complexes house a dozen Israeli companies, start-ups, venture capital funds and foreign groups such as Lockheed Martin, Deutsche Telekom, Oracle and IBM.

 

Already, 1,500 technicians, engineers and researchers are hard at work. Many have been trained in the computer sciences department of the local Ben-Gurion University — part of a planned symbiosis between the university and the company, which are linked by pedestrian bridges.

 

“We have established a perfect ecosystem with the integration of Israeli companies and foreign multinationals, the university and the foundation of the Israeli army specialised in cybersecurity, which will move from the region of Tel Aviv to Beersheba,” said Tom Ahi Dror, CyberSpark project leader at the Israeli National Cyber Bureau.

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken highly of the development, saying the close proximity allows “a physical interaction between security officials, academia and industry, in Israel and abroad.”

 

“They meet, they talk and they create together,” he told a “CyberTech” conference in Tel Aviv, calling cyber-security “vital” for a small country like Israel, which is faced with multiple threats and a favorite target of hackers. According to a study carried out in 2012, Israel “may be the most heavily targeted country in the world — by hostile hackers, non-state actors, and states — with as many as a thousand web attacks per minute.”

 

Tal Elal, deputy mayor of the city, pinpoints the secret of CyberSpark’s success: “We started from scratch four years ago and we designed a customized project to meet the exact needs of companies specializing in cyber-security.” Two more complexes comprising 27 buildings are to be added, and the municipality expects the population to grow by 100,000 in the next 10 years.

 

About 30,000 soldiers, including 7,000 career officers, will move in the coming years to bases and a technology campus to be built on 250 acres near CyberSpark and around Beersheba. As a lure from the bustle of cosmopolitan Tel Aviv, the government plans a bonus of $18,000 for single officers and $50,000 for families who spend at least five years in Beersheba.

 

“We will do everything to integrate this population and avoid creating ghettos where officers live, as has been the case in the past in other places,” Elal said. For the private sector, the government is also offering subsidies equivalent to 20 percent of salaries for three years to company employees who settled in Beersheba. The state hopes to expand a sector which already has 250 companies of all sizes, Israeli and foreign, in the country.

 

Last year, the sector’s exports reached a record $3.5 billion, according to government figures. “Israel represents only 0.1 percent of the world’s population but 20 percent of global investments (in cyber security),” said Dror. “Cyber ​​security has a very bright future,” said Dudu Mimran, head of a Deutsche Telekom innovation laboratory based in Beersheba. “It is an endless race in which hackers are always one step ahead because it is they who take the initiative,” he added. “And it is then up to us to respond to protect businesses, governments and individuals.”

 

                                                                        Contents

THE UNMAKING OF CLAUDE LANZMANN

                    Matthew Hays     

                                                        The Walrus, Feb. 25, 2016

 

There are, in general, two responses to seeing the Holocaust depicted on screen. It’s been done too often (what more is there to say?) or it shouldn’t be done at all (its enormity is unfilmable). But if there’s any consensus about the genre, it would certainly be that Shoah—Claude Lanzmann’s nine-and-a-half-hour examination of the genocide—is the most harrowing, memorable, and brilliant film of them all.

 

The documentary, first released thirty years ago, is noteworthy for what it doesn’t do. After being asked in 1973 by the director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make a film about the Holocaust as seen “through Jewish eyes,” Lanzmann opted to forgo archival footage. Instead he conducted extensive interviews with Holocaust witnesses, including onlookers, former inmates and Nazi officers (some captured by hidden cameras). While some critics have disparaged the talking-heads style of interviews, Lanzmann embraced it, using it to show ordinary language’s struggle in describing the undescribable. He was forty-seven when he started work on Shoah, and nearly sixty when he completed it. The result is a profoundly unsettling exploration of how the atrocity was carried out—Lanzmann never asks why it happened—and the ways in which memories, both collective and personal, are shaped by trauma.

 

After Toronto-based journalist and filmmaker Adam Benzine saw Shoah for the first time five years ago on the recommendation of a friend, he looked for a film about the “existentialist philosopher” behind the masterpiece, which Benzine assumed existed. It didn’t. “Here’s a man who fought with the resistance,” he says, “who was a lover of Simone du Beauvoir, who made this epic film about the Holocaust, who is now in his eighties, and there’s no documentary about him? I was amazed.”

 

Benzine set out to correct that wrong, and the result is Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah, a forty-minute tribute which has been nominated for an Oscar in the short-documentary category. Inspired by Errol Morris’s The Fog of War, which is itself elegantly constructed around an extended interview, Benzine decided to simply point a camera at the hardened director and have him talk. Sitting through five hours of interviews conducted over the course of a week in Paris, Lanzmann discusses his battles with producers and financiers and his gruelling half-decade spent editing Shoah. The movie, which flashes back to key moments from his past, includes rare footage of him flirting with de Beauvoir and chatting with Jean-Paul Sartre as well as his admission that he felt suicidal during the twelve-year making of Shoah.

 

This final revelation isn’t surprising, when one considers the historical material Lanzmann was dealing with. While Benzine is sparing in his use of clips from Shoah, one scene he does include is arguably the signature sequence of the film, when Lanzmann interviews Abraham Bomba, a barber in Tel Aviv, about his memories of cutting the hair of people who were about to be exterminated at Treblinka. The man goes on to describe another barber who finds himself cutting the hair of his own wife and daughter before they are sent to the gas chambers. Lanzmann presses the man, who then admits that the barber who he has been talking about in the third person was in fact himself. Lanzmann looks almost cruel in making the barber reveal the truth behind his anecdote, but Benzine gets him to discuss why he felt it so important for the story to be revealed. “His tears were as precious as blood to me,” Lanzmann says.

 

While his conversations with Jewish survivors proved harrowing for Lanzmann—he confides he lived the aftermath of the movie in “a sort of bereavement”—what is extraordinary is how the stories of landing his other interviews make Lanzmann and his crew seem like cold war spies. At one point they track down a Nazi officer who agrees to let them into his home. They carry a bag in with them, which contains a hidden camera and microphone. The Nazi’s wife becomes suspicious, and asks them to open the bag. They refuse, an argument erupts and several men show up at the door, suspicious of the film crew. They rush out into the street and are chased for several blocks when Lanzmann and one other crew member are beaten. Lanzmann’s injuries were so serious he spent a month recuperating in a hospital.

 

Getting access to Lanzmann required Benzine to adopt his own spy tactics. He met up with the director at a British film festival that was screening Shoah. Lanzmann was personable but made it clear he was busy. Contacting a friend who worked in programming at the BBC, Benzine suggested they screen Shoah for the film’s thirtieth anniversary. His friend loved the idea, so Benzine followed up: what if they accompanied it with a doc about Lanzmann? Again, great idea, but his friend added: “I can’t pay you.”

 

Benzine wasn’t bothered by this, but asked for a letter confirming the documentary on BBC letterhead, which he then sent to Lanzmann. The official seal of the respected British broadcaster led to a yes from Lanzmann’s office, and Benzine proceeded with two full years of intense research. This involved watching all of Lanzmann films, poring over his files and digitizing hundreds of hours of unseen outtakes of Shoah at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

 

Benzine is upfront about Lanzmann’s reputation as a difficult person (the director kept lying to his backers how much time and money would be needed to finish the film). Legendary filmmaker Marcel Ophuls describes Lanzmann as a “megalomaniac” early in the documentary. But Benzine, who spent $50,000 of his own money on the project, says he feels “quite defensive” about the man behind Shoah. “This isn’t a making-of film about Shoah. It’s more the making of Claude—or the unmaking of Claude, as it were. Obviously, people appreciate Shoah, but I’m not sure they know the toll it took on him. Frankly, only a ‘difficult’ person could have survived the process.”

 

Benzine plans to bring Lanzmann, now ninety, to the Academy Awards ceremony on February 28. (In one of many of the long list of bizarre Academy oversights, Shoah wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar when it came out.) “So many people regard Shoah as an important work of cinema, and feel a debt of gratitude to him. It will be great for him to get some of that appreciation.”

 

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

 

 

On Topic

 

Lung Surgery on Fetus in Mother's Womb (Video): Youtube, Jan. 25, 2016— Check out this amazing surgery where an Israeli Hadassah doctor performs a successful invasive lung surgery on fetus in the mother's womb.

'Israel's Space Program Lagging Behind, as Iran's Surges Forward': Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 2, 2016— Inadequate investment and research in Israel’s civilian space program will have a harmful knock-on impact on military space industries, experts warned during a conference in Herzliya on Tuesday.

IDF Training to Defend Against Cyber Attacks on Vital Infrastructure: Yoav Zitun, Ynet, Feb. 17, 2016—IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot's decision to establish a cyber division by to was described as "more important than the merger of the Technology-Logistics Directorate with the ground forces, or the establishment of the 'Commando Brigades'" by a high-ranking IDF officer.

Business Analyst Explains Why ‘You Will Work for Israel One Day’: Shiryn Ghermezian, Algemeiner, Feb. 8, 2016—A column published by business magazine Inc. noted that Israel’s investment in tech research and development is giving it an edge over other countries.

 

 

 

                        

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

DÉVELOPPEMENTS ÉTONNANTS

 

 

 

 

 

SHIN BET :

L’ATTAQUANT SOUDANAIS ÉTAIT INSPIRÉ DE L’ETAT ISLAMIQUE

Raoul Wootliff

Times of Israel, 25 fev., 2016

 

L’agence de sécurité du Shin Bet a déclaré jeudi que l’homme soudanais tué pendant qu’il menait récemment une attaque au couteau avait été influencé par le groupe radical Etat islamique (EI). Kamel Hassan Mohammed, 32 ans, avait poignardé et légèrement blessé en début de mois un soldat de 20 ans près de la station de bus d’Ashkelon avant de fuir la scène.

 

Un autre soldat qui avait été témoin de l’attaque l’avait poursuivi et avait abattu Hassan quand celui-ci avait ignoré ses appels à s’arrêter. Mohammed avait été emmené à l’hôpital dans un état sérieux puis déclaré mort.

 

Le Shin Bet a déclaré que l’enquête sur l’incident, menée en coordination avec la police israélienne, a conclu que l’attaque avait été inspirée par les actions brutales du groupe terroriste EI. « Entre autres choses, est-il écrit dans un communiqué, il a été découvert que Hassan était un musulman pieux et avait des photos d’agents de l’EI du monde entier dans son téléphone. »

 

Les médias palestiniens avaient au moment de l’attaque identifié Hassan comme un « martyr », un terme habituellement réservé aux Palestiniens tués dans le conflit avec Israël. Contrairement à beaucoup des attaques menées par des assaillants palestiniens pendant les troubles dans tout le pays et la Cisjordanie ces derniers mois, la police n’a pas annoncé officiellement de motif pour l’attaque au couteau.

 

Des représentants de la communauté soudanaise ont déclaré qu’il souffrait de problèmes de santé mentale non traités, et n’était pas un terroriste. Vingt-neuf Israéliens et trois ressortissants étrangers ont été tués pendant la vague de terrorisme palestinien et de violence depuis octobre, pendant laquelle près de 170 Palestiniens ont également été tués, dont les deux tiers pendant qu’ils attaquaient des Israéliens, et les autres pendant des affrontements avec les soldats, selon l’armée israélienne.

 

Des ressortissants étrangers n’avaient encore jamais participé à de telles attaques. Mohammed était entré illégalement en Israël en 2008. Il avait été arrêté par des policiers et emmené au centre de détention semi-ouvert de Holot en avril 2014.

Le Shin Bet a déclaré qu’il s’était échappé de Holot quelques mois après et avaient vécu dans les villes d’Ashdod et Ashkelon. Un grand nombre d’immigrants illégaux sont arrivés en Israël depuis le Soudan via la péninsule égyptienne du Sinaï. Les chiffres officiels montrent que 45 000 immigrants sont en Israël, presque tous originaires de l’Erythrée et du Soudan. Environ deux tiers sont érythréens.

 

 

         DES MILLIERS DE PERSONNES FONT LE DEUIL

         DU RESERVISTE TUE PAR UNE BALLE PERDUE                                

Times of Israel, 25 fev., 2016

 

 

Des milliers de personnes ont assisté aux funérailles mercredi soir d’un soldat réserviste israélien tué plus tôt dans la journée par une balle perdue tirée par Tsahal lors d’une attaque au couteau en Cisjordanie. Eliav Gelman, 30 ans, un capitaine en réserve de l’armée de l’air israélienne, a été abattu par les troupes qui tentaient d’arrêter un Palestinien qui l’attaquait avec un couteau à l’intersection du Gush Etzion au sud de Jérusalem. Il a été inhumé au cimetière de Kfar Etzion en Cisjordanie.

 

Un Palestinien a poignardé Gelman alors qu’il attendait un bus en rentrant de la base. Des soldats stationnés à proximité ont ouvert le feu sur l’homme mais une ou plusieurs balles ont accidentellement touché Gelman, le blessant grièvement. Il a été emmené à l’hôpital Shaare Zedek à Jérusalem, où les médecins l’ont déclaré mort environ deux heures après l’attaque.

 

Gelman, un père de deux garçons Yoav et Yair, 2 et 5 ans, vivait avec sa femme Rina, qui est enceinte, dans l’implantation cisjordanienne (sic) de Karmei Tzur au Gush Etzion dans le sud de Jérusalem. Il était originaire de Kiryat Arba, une implantation en périphérie de Hébron et avait étudié à la yeshiva Mekor Haim, également au Gush Etzion.

 

Prenant la parole lors des funérailles, le frère de Gelman Eyal l’a décrit comme quelqu’un de profondément religieux, qui étudiait la Bible et le Talmud chaque jour. « Il était aimé et aimait, il était lié au peuple juif, à la terre d’Israël, et à la Torah d’Israël. Il s’était consacré à la Torah. Chaque jour, quand il se réveillait,quoi qu’il soit arrivé pendant la nuit, quand et où, même dans l’armée, il allait étudier sa section journalière du Talmud et de la Torah », a révélé Eyal.

 

Malgré les circonstances de la mort, la famille de Gelman a indiqué qu’elle n’était pas en colère contre l’armée, a indiqué le site Ynet. Le beau-frère de Gelman était Benaya Sarel, un soldat de Tsahal tués au cours de l’opération Bordure protectrice en 2014 dans la bande de Gaza, qui était aussi de Kiryat Arba.

 

Davidi Perl, le chef du Conseil de Gush Etzion, a déclaré que Gelman n’est pas mort en vain. « Eliav est un autre sacrifié de la guerre pour Gush Etzion, une guerre qui a commencé il y a des décennies, et, à notre plus grande douleur, qui n’est pas encore terminée », a déclaré Perl. « Nous sommes ensemble avec la famille et les habitants de Karmei Tzur dans leur grande douleur ».

 

 

APPUI A ISRAËL :

UNE MOTION CONSERVATRICE PROVOQUE DES DIVISIONS CHEZ LES LIBERAUX

La Presse Canadienne, 22 fev., 2016

 

 

Plus d'une douzaine de députés libéraux ont préféré rester assis au moment du vote à la Chambre des communes, lundi après-midi. Quelques-uns ont brillé par leur absence. Mais seulement trois d'entre eux se sont levés pour voter contre la motion : René Arsenault, du Nouveau-Brunswick, Larry Bagnell, du Yukon, et Nick Whalen, de Terre-Neuve.

 

Cette motion, présentée par les conservateurs jeudi dernier, se lisait ainsi : « la Chambre rejette la campagne du mouvement Boycott, désinvestissement et sanctions (BDS), qui encourage la diabolisation et la délégitimation de l'État d'Israël, et prie le gouvernement de condamner toute tentative de la part d'organismes, de groupes ou de particuliers du Canada de promouvoir le mouvement BDS, ici et à l'étranger ».

 

Durant le débat de jeudi, le ministre des Affaires étrangères, Stéphane Dion, avait annoncé que le gouvernement appuierait la motion parce qu'il est d'accord « sur le fond » même s'il a « des réserves quant à la forme ».

 

« [Les conservateurs] ont fait de l'appui à Israël et à la communauté juive canadienne un enjeu partisan. Cela n'a pas fonctionné pour eux, mais ils semblent n'en avoir tiré aucune leçon. Ils nous reviennent aujourd'hui avec cette motion et nous savons très bien que son but est de créer la division. Personne ne sort gagnant de ce genre d'exercice », prévenait le ministre Dion.

 

Lundi, le vote ou l'absence de vote de plusieurs de ses collègues libéraux démontrait qu'il y avait bel et bien division.

À sa sortie des Communes, une des abstentionnistes, Alexandra Mendes, députée de Brossard-Saint-Lambert, a expliqué qu'elle n'appuyait pas le mouvement BDS, mais qu'elle ne pouvait se ranger derrière cette motion.

 

« J'ai une circonscription extrêmement multiethnique, très diversifiée. Et je dois répondre à toutes leurs attentes, pas juste à certains groupes », a dit Mme Mendes.

 

Elle a assuré que le vote était resté libre pour les députés d'arrière-ban, qu'il n'y avait eu aucune pression, même pas de discussion sur la motion, avant le vote, bien qu'il y en ait eu beaucoup après.

 

Son collègue de Mont-Royal, Anthony Housefather, est sorti tout sourire de la Chambre, après le vote, se disant satisfait d'avoir convaincu suffisamment de députés pour que la motion soit adoptée.

 

Le député libéral avait livré, jeudi, un discours enflammé. S'exprimant sans notes, il avait parlé de son expérience de juif québécois.

 

« Lorsque je fréquentais l'école dans les années 1990, je n'ai jamais ressenti d'antisémitisme. Pendant les quatre années que j'ai passées à la faculté de droit de McGill, pas une fois je ne me suis senti visé ou mal à l'aise en raison de ma foi ou de mes origines », avait-il relaté.

 

« Aujourd'hui, malheureusement, à cause du mouvement BDS et de la Semaine contre l'apartheid israélien, ce n'est plus le cas pour les étudiants juifs et tous ceux qui appuient Israël dans les campus canadiens. C'est une honte, car tous les étudiants de notre pays devraient se sentir en sécurité dans les écoles et les campus », avait-il tonné.

 

Lundi, bloquistes et néo-démocrates ont voté contre la motion, y voyant une attaque contre la liberté d'expression.

 

 

 

OBAMA EXCLUT LES IMPLANTATIONS DE LA LOI POUR DEFENDRE ISRAËL DU BOYCOTT

Eric Cortellessa

JTA , 25 fev., 2016

 

 

Le président américain Barack Obama a signé un projet de loi mercredi qui punit la campagne internationale de boycott contre Israël mais a déclaré qu’il n’appliquera pas la partie qui étend la protection aux implantations de Cisjordanie

.

Le Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act de 2015 vise à éliminer les obstacles injustes au commerce américain. Il a été adopté par la Chambre des représentants américaine en décembre et par le Sénat le 11 février.

 

Une longue partie de la loi sur la promotion des liens commerciales entre les États-Unis et Israël exige que les négociateurs américains ne coopèrent pas avec les entités qui participent au mouvement de boycott, désinvestissement et sanctions (BDS) contre Israël, et stipule la publication de rapports sur ces entités.

 

La section inclut dans sa définition d’une action de boycott contre Israël les actions qui viseraient les entreprises dans « les territoires sous contrôle israélien ». « J’ai demandé à mon gouvernement de s’opposer fermement aux boycotts, aux campagnes de désinvestissement, et de sanctions visant l’Etat d’Israël », a déclaré Obama dans un communiqué.

 

« Tant que je suis président, nous allons continuer à le faire. Certaines dispositions de cette loi, en confondant Israël et les ‘territoires sous contrôle israélien’, sont contraires à la politique de longue date des deux partis aux États-Unis, y compris en ce qui concerne le traitement des implantations ».

 

Obama a ajouté dans le communiqué que « de manière compatible avec la longue pratique constitutionnelle », l’administration devrait négocier avec d’autres pays en vertu de la loi « d’une manière qui ne nuit pas à mon autorité constitutionnelle pour gérer la diplomatie », un vocabulaire utilisé dans les déclarations de signature pour signaler qu’un président n’appliquera pas une partie d’une loi qui ne concorde pas avec la politique étrangère américaine.

 

Malgré les réserves d’Obama au sujet d’une partie du langage utilisée dans le projet de loi, sa signature est susceptible de plaire au Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu car la disposition sur le BDS ordonne explicitement aux représentants commerciaux de décourager les pays membres de l’Union européenne de se livrer à des efforts de boycott contre Israël.

 

 

 

ISRAËL PREPARERAIT UN PLAN POUR STIMULER L’ECONOMIE PALESTINIENNE        

                                    Times of Israel,  22 fev, 2016

 

 

Le ministre des Finances Moshe Kahlon a rencontré à plusieurs reprises son homologue palestinien Shukri Bishara ces dernières semaines pour négocier un plan pour stimuler l’aide économique aux Palestiniens, selon une information de dimanche.

 

Kahlon devrait à présent apporter une foule de nouvelles initiatives au Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu pour approbation dans les prochains jours, a annoncé la Dixième chaîne.

 

Le plan est le résultat d’une séries de réunions entre des hauts fonctionnaires israéliens et palestiniens des ministères des Finances, pendant ces derniers mois, malgré la vague de violence dans la rue. La dernière réunion bilatérale des fonctionnaires des Finances a eu lieu la semaine dernière.

 

La proposition se concentre sur des industries de la connaissance comme la santé et la high-tech, ainsi que sur l’expansion de l’intégration économique israélo-palestinienne dans le secteur de la construction.

 

Des fonctionnaires en Israël ont déclaré que la mesure est conçue en partie comme un geste envers l’administration Obama, après la promesse de Netanyahu faite au président américain Barack Obama en novembre dernier d’intensifier les efforts pour revigorer l’économie palestinienne.

 

Mais elle est également perçue en Israël comme une clef pour diminuer les tensions des derniers mois dans un contexte d’échec des négociations de paix et d’une vague d’attaques terroristes palestiniennes depuis le mois d’octobre.

 

Dans le cadre du nouveau plan, les médecins palestiniens devraient être invités à se former dans les hôpitaux israéliens, particulièrement dans les domaines pertinents de la récente vague de violence, qui a fait 166 morts Palestiniens, dont les deux tiers étaient des attaquants tentant de tuer des Israéliens au moment de leurs morts, et 31 morts Israéliens, dont trois personnes ayant une double nationalité.

 

Dans ce qui pourrait être une stimulation significative du secteur technologique palestinien, Kahlon devrait également proposer de nouvelles opportunités d’études et de stages pour les entrepreneurs et les ingénieurs palestiniens dans l’industrie high-tech israélienne, leader mondial.

 

Les compagnies de construction palestiniennes et les promoteurs seront aussi autorisés à agir en Israël, étendant l’accès au marché israélien de la situation actuelle, où seuls les ouvriers à la journée palestiniens sont autorisés à travailler en Israël pour des entreprises israéliennes. Il n’y pas eu de confirmation palestinienne immédiate de cette initiative.

 

Les Palestiniens et d’autres ont souligné que les politiques israéliennes en Cisjordanie et à Gaza contribuaient au fort taux de chômage et à une croissance économique quasi stagnante. Un rapport du FMI publié en début de mois montre que la croissance économique pour les Palestiniens en Cisjordanie a diminué à 2,8 % en 2015, et devrait probablement rester sous les 3 % cette année.

 

 

DÉMISSION DU MINISTRE DE LA JUSTICE LIBANAIS QUI DÉNONCE UNE « MAINMISE » DU HEZBOLLAH

 

Times of Israel, 21 fev, 2016

 

 

Le ministre de la Justice libanais, Achraf Rifi, connu pour son hostilité au Hezbollah a annoncé dimanche sa démission, accusant le puissant parti chiite armé de mainmise sur les décisions du gouvernement.

 

La démission de ce ministre sunnite intervient quelques jours après l’interruption par Ryad d’une aide de trois milliards de dollars à l’armée libanaise pour protester contre des prises de position « hostiles » inspirées selon le royaume saoudien par le Hezbollah.

 

Dans un communiqué, Rifi a affirmé que le parti soutenu par l’Iran était responsable du « blocage » politique au Liban, sans président depuis 21 mois, et l’a accusé de « détruire les relations du Liban avec le royaume d’Arabie saoudite ».

 

« Il y a une mainmise d’un parti armé sur la décision du gouvernement », a dénoncé le ministre démissionnaire, en référence au Hezbollah qui a deux ministres au sein du cabinet.

 

« Le Hezbollah […] a voulu utiliser [le gouvernement] comme un instrument pour mettre la main sur l’Etat et ses décisions », lit-on dans le communiqué publié par l’Agence nationale de l’information. « Je n’accepterai pas de devenir un faux témoin et de couvrir ceux qui tentent de dominer l’Etat et ses institutions […] c’est pour cela que je présente ma démission », a conclu M. Rifi.

 

Le ministre a accusé en particulier le parti d’avoir bloqué le transfert à la Cour de justice – dont les décisions sont sans appel – du dossier de Michel Samaha, un ancien ministre et député allié du régime syrien accusé d’avoir voulu mener des « actions terroristes » au Liban.

 

Michel Samaha avait été libéré à la mi-janvier sous caution par la Cour militaire. Cette décision avait suscité fureur et consternation au Liban au sein du camp hostile au régime du président syrien Bachar al-Assad.

 

L’ex-ministre libanais de l’Information avait été condamné le 13 mai 2015 à quatre ans et demi de prison par la Cour militaire, qui l’a aussi déchu à vie de ses droits civiques et politiques, « pour avoir tenté de mener des actions terroristes et appartenance à un groupe armé ».

 

Cependant, la cour de Cassation avait annulé le jugement jugé trop clément par le procureur. Un nouveau procès est en cours. Le Hezbollah combat en Syrie aux côtés du régime de Bachar al-Assad alors que l’Arabie saoudite soutient les groupes rebelles opposés à Damas. La guerre en Syrie voisine a exacerbé les divisions au Liban entre sympathisants et détracteurs du régime de Bachar al-Assad et les tensions entre sunnites et chiites.

 

 

ISRAËL ENTERRE UN SURVIVANT DU CAMP

DE LA MORT DE TREBLINKA

Times of Israel, 22 fev, 2016

 

 

Les centaines de personnes ont participé lundi en Israël aux funérailles de Samuel Willenberg, survivant du camp d’extermination nazi de Treblinka, mort à 93 ans après avoir consacré la fin de sa vie à témoigner sur cette usine de mort.

 

Déporté à l’âge de 19 ans à Treblinka, Samuel Willenberg était né en Pologne. Il a été un des instigateurs de la révolte de Treblinka, durant laquelle des déportés avaient mis le feu à une partie du camp, pris d’assaut un dépôt d’armes avant de se précipiter en masse vers la clôture électrique sous le feu des nazis qui ont tué la plupart d’entre eux. Samuel Willenberg, bien que blessé à la jambe, était l’un des rares à avoir survécu.

 

Il a combattu ensuite dans les rangs de la résistance polonaise avant de servir après la guerre dans l’armée polonaise. En 1950, il a émigré en Israël, où il est devenu fonctionnaire au ministère du Logement.

 

Dans le cimetière du village agricole d’Oudim, dans le centre d’Israël, au son de l’hymne de la résistance juive polonaise, le cercueil M. Willenberg a été mis en terre par des adolescents, membres des mouvements de jeunesse israéliens, en sandales et en jeans, venus rendre hommage à celui qui avait accompagné des dizaines de voyages scolaires de la mémoire en Pologne.

 

« Je me tiens devant ta tombe, celle du dernier survivant de Treblinka, et à tes côtés se trouvent 850.000 Juifs ( ) Ceux qui arrivaient à Treblinka ne survivaient généralement que quelques heures, vous n’étiez que 67 à en être sortis vivants et tu étais le dernier témoin », a déclaré lors de la cérémonie, très ému, le président israélien Reuven Rivlin.

 

« Chaque mois, mille survivants de la Shoah meurent, le nombre de témoins directs s’amenuise, nous n’avons plus beaucoup de temps », a ajouté Rivlin, en lançant un appel à assurer la dignité de ces survivants, dont près d’un quart vivent sous le seuil de la pauvreté en Israël.

 

 

L’ANTIQUE SYNAGOGUE D’ALEP MENACÉE

Catherine Garson

 

 

Entre partisans et opposants au président Assad, la bataille fait rage dans la ville d’Alep qui, en sus, est bombardée par l’aviation russe. De ce fait, l’ancienne synagogue centrale de la ville, bâtie au IXe siècle de l’ère commune (ce qui en fait l’une des plus vieilles du monde) est en danger. Ce, d’autant plus qu’elle est située non loin d’une position de snippers « rebelles ».

 

Pour le moment, seul un coin du bâtiment a été endommagé. « Elle a été touchée, mais elle est toujours debout », explique Motti Kahana, le fondateur d’Amaliah, une ONG dont l’un des buts est d’alléger les souffrances des réfugiés syriens, mais qui s’occupe aussi de la sauvegarde du patrimoine juif sur place. « Nous faisons tout ce qui est en notre pouvoir afin de sauver le plus de livres et de parchemins possibles, précise-t-il. Cette synagogue d’Alep est un site patrimonial important pour le peuple juif, contenant de nombreux articles religieux et historiques qui, si ils étaient détruits, emporteraient avec eux tout souvenir de la vie juive dans cette cité antique ».

 

Pour effectuer ce travail de sauvetage, « nous travaillons avec les forces d’opposition », ajoute le même. « Un effort qui s’est révélé très coûteux » pour celui qui a réussi l’an dernier à sauver les derniers juifs vivant encore en Syrie. Du coup, il fait appel à la générosité publique pour réunir les 100.000 dollars nécessaires à la poursuite de son action sur place.

 

Si Motti Kahana réussit à mener à bien cette opération, il a l’intention de placer ce qui aura été sauvé dans une synagogue de New York (il est lui-même américain) pour le rendre une fois le calme revenu « si tel est le souhait de la communauté juive d’Alep ». En attendant, celui-ci avoue qu’il ne craint pas tant les forces du président Assad que celles de ses alliés iraniens et du Hezbollah. « Le régime d’Assad et avant lui celui de son père, ont protégé la synagogue ces cinquante dernières années, dit le responsable d’Amaliah. Mais, je ne pense pas qu’Assad contrôle encore le pays. Je pense que ce sont les Iraniens et le Hezbollah qui prennent les décisions avec l’appui des forces aériennes russes ».

 

Or, selon lui, ces derniers se moquent des antiquités locales, juives ou non. S’ils réussissent à prendre Alep, « ils vont juste nettoyer la zone », estime-t-il. « Israël tente de faire tout ce qu’il peut, conclut-il, mais je pense qu’Israël devrait demander au président Poutine d’arrêter de bombarder cette zone. Il y a un cimetière juif vieux de 500 ans où les bombes sont tombées et Israël devrait être en contact avec Poutine pour s’assurer que le site n’est pas endommagé ».

 

Shabbat Shalom !

 

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DESPITE ONGOING EGYPTIAN ANTISEMITISM, CAIRO BOLSTERS MILITARY COOPERATION WITH ISRAEL AGAINST HAMAS

Between Alliance and Rivalry: Egyptian-Israeli Relations Remain Solid, If Not Particularly Warm: Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, Rubin Center, Feb. 16, 2016— The ill-advised declaration on February 6 by Infrastructure and Energy Minister Yuval Steinetz that Egypt had flooded some of Hamas’s Gazan smuggling tunnels at Israel’s request brought attention to an important development…

Three's Company: Israel, Turkey, and Egypt: Yossi Melman, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 5, 2016— Last month, the director of the CIA, John Brennan, held a secret meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his counterpart, the director of Egyptian Intelligence, Maj.-Gen.Khaled Fawzy.

Hamas Is Fracturing, And Israel Should Be Worried: Jonathan Schanzer, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Feb. 25, 2016 — The al-Qassam Brigades, the so-called “armed wing” of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, is reeling from the recent execution of former official Mahmoud Ishtiwi at the hands of his fellow fighters.

No Hope for Gazans: Alex Fishman, Ynet, Feb. 23, 2016— Just like every year, the IDF is getting ready for another violent round of conflict in Gaza this summer.

 

On Topic Links

 

Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Gives Rare Egyptian Interview: Roee Kais & Itamar Eichner, Ynet, Feb. 24, 2016

Hamas Dances with the Devil: Paul Alster, IPT, Feb. 19, 2016

In Historical Shift, New Egyptian Textbooks to Include Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty: Breaking Israel News, Feb. 18, 2016

Egypt's "Security Threat": Churches: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 15, 2016

         

BETWEEN ALLIANCE AND RIVALRY:

EGYPTIAN-ISRAELI RELATIONS REMAIN SOLID, IF NOT PARTICULARLY WARM

Bruce Maddy-Weitzman

Rubin Center, Feb. 16, 2016

 

The ill-advised declaration on February 6 by Infrastructure and Energy Minister Yuval Steinetz that Egypt had flooded some of Hamas’s Gazan smuggling tunnels at Israel’s request brought attention to an important development: Israeli-Egyptian relations have over the last two years reached an unprecedented level of mutual understanding and cooperation, primarily on security issues.

 

To that end, Israel has allowed Egypt to introduce larger number of troops and heavy weapons into Sinai than allowed for in their peace treaty and Egyptian F-16s and Apache helicopters now operate against jihadi insurgents within sight of the Israeli border. The two countries are also likeminded regarding what they both view as the negative behavior of Hamas, the unwelcome efforts of Turkey to play a bigger regional role, and Iran’s power projection in the region.

 

Egypt’s approach to relations with Israel is two-pronged and contradictory. It is guided by a) strategic, political and economic interests and b) Egypt’s self-perception and view of “the other,” as understood by various domestic actors. It is this latter category that places fundamental limitations on the Egyptian-Israeli relationship, in addition to the continuing differences over the unsolved Palestinian-Israeli issue.

 

First, the half, or 3/4 full glass: The continued absence of war and extremely low likelihood of war for the foreseeable future. Egyptian military, political and economic elites have long understood that war was not in Egypt’s interest, while peace opened the door to vital American, and other Western aid and investment.

 

Following the gradual ascent to power of the Muslim Brotherhood following Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow in 2011, Israel’s worst fears – the return of a hostile Egypt ‒ seemed on the verge of being realized. But for Hamas, the Palestinian offshoot of the Brotherhood, it was a false dawn. The Sisi regime, in power since July 2013, has taken off the gloves, accusing Hamas of providing vital support to Islamist militants who are drawing the blood of Egyptian security forces in Sinai.

 

On the diplomatic level, the improved Egyptian-Israeli relationship is reflected in the fact that both countries are now again represented by ambassadors after a hiatus of some years.

 

Economically, on the other hand, the level of trade and investment remains low, and the whole issue of newly discovered natural gas fields in both countries suggests that they will be more competitive than cooperative on this matter in the future. On cultural and ideological levels, the dominant view among Egypt’s political classes has long been one that views Israel as an aggressive geopolitical rival and competitor. “Normalization” (“tatbi”) in the social and cultural realms remains a taboo for most Egyptians.

 

A recent study by Esther Webman of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies highlights another fundamental obstacle to warmer Egyptian-Israeli relations. The image of the Jew as villain, she demonstrates, has been adopted by competing political and religious factions in Egypt and other Arab countries in order to explain the changing circumstances and catastrophes that have befallen Arab societies, particularly in the wake of the Arab Spring.

 

Examples from Egypt abound: During the Tahrir Square protests of 2011, anti-Mubarak signs included the drawing of a Star of David on the forehead of president Mubarak. Muslim Brotherhood journalists protesting Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s coup in 2013 declared Sisi to be Jewish and that Egypt was now under Zionist occupation. Similar rhetoric has been directed against the Muslim Brotherhood by the pro-Sisi camp, which has created elaborate anti-Semitic conspiracy theories regarding the Brotherhood. They range from the claim that both parents of its founder, Hasan al-Banna were Moroccan Jews and Freemasons, to the Brotherhood’s supposed adoption of the plans of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” to undermine Egyptian society.

 

Overall, the gap between Egypt’s self-image and its capabilities is yawning. Israel’s success holds up a mirror to Egypt’s regional and domestic weaknesses, reinforcing long extant tendencies to view Israel in a negative light. Hence, the prospects for long-term improvement in Egyptian-Israeli relations will continue to be inhibited by socio-cultural and political-ideological factors that touch on the fundamental core identity and self-image of the Egyptian polity, even as the two countries quietly deepen cooperation in the security and intelligence-sharing areas. And, of course, peace between Egypt and Israel remains a comforting constant in the turbulent Middle East.                 

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   THREE'S COMPANY: ISRAEL, TURKEY, AND EGYPT

Yossi Melman               

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 5, 2016

 

Last month, the director of the CIA, John Brennan, held a secret meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his counterpart, the director of Egyptian Intelligence, Maj.-Gen.Khaled Fawzy. During the meeting, Brennan promised to increase CIA aid to Egypt to bolster its struggle against Islamic State terrorist activity in Sinai.

 

Brennan’s visit is yet another indicator that the US administration is making an effort to improve relations with Cairo following a few cool years that were the result of President Barack Obama’s opposition to Sisi’s ouster two years ago of president Mohamed Morsi, who, sponsored by the Muslim Brotherhood, was chosen in free and democratic elections.

 

The Paris-based website Intelligence Online recently reported that, up until now, the Egyptian military has mainly relied on support from Israel and France: France, by supplying Egypt with satellite images; and Israel, with intercepts. The most important signals intelligence body in IDF Military Intelligence is Unit 8200. The Shin Bet and the Mossad also have units that specialize in eavesdropping and the deciphering of information. The Shin Bet also has a special unit that for a number of years has been actively involved in the prevention of terrorism originating in Sinai.

 

Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen’s fiveyear term is scheduled to end in just three months’ time and it’s not clear yet whether his term will be extended for another year, as is permitted by law. Cohen is a familiar figure in the Egyptian intelligence community, as he visited Cairo a number of times during and after Operation Protective Edge to discuss activity related to Hamas and Gaza.

 

According to the division of labor of the three branches of Israeli intelligence, the Mossad is responsible for contacts with counterpart intelligence organizations. In the past, there were numerous reports in the media about meetings between Mossad leaders and their Egyptian counterparts, and visits from both sides in both countries were common events. Gen. Omar Suleiman, for example, was known to have visited Israel.

 

It’s no secret that since Sisi came into power, Egypt and Israel have been coordinating on an extraordinarily high level regarding security issues. As part of the two countries’ joint struggle against Hamas and Islamic State, Israel has allowed Egypt to bring many more troops into the Sinai Peninsula than is stipulated in the peace agreement they signed together in 1979. Egypt and Israel are keen on this cooperation, due to their shared fear of Iran’s increasing strength and its attempts to destabilize Sunni regimes in the Middle East, both directly, through its intelligence agents, and indirectly, through Hezbollah. In the past, Egyptian security services captured a number of Iranian and Hezbollah terrorist networks.

 

Nonetheless, this intimate relationship is not just a strategic asset but also an obstacle, as it makes it difficult for Israel to progress in its efforts to reach a settlement with Gaza and to improve its relationship with Turkey. It’s in Israel’s best interests to ease the plight of the residents of the Gaza Strip, and to put an end to the siege (or their sense of siege). The people of Gaza are currently receiving most of their supplies and goods from Israel. Every day, about 800 trucks pass through the border crossings. But the border is effectively closed to the movement of people, except for humanitarian reasons, such as for medical treatment; religious reasons, such as for Christians on Christmas, or Muslims going on pilgrimage to Mecca, or students going to study at universities.

 

The Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt is closed almost all year round. In all of 2015, the Rafah crossing was open to people for a total of less than 30 (nonconsecutive) days. What this means is that the people responsible for restricting Gazans and who are imposing a tight siege on Gaza are actually the Egyptians, not the Israelis.

 

But this fact has not made things easier for the Israeli authorities. The Israelis’ concern is that in the end, this sense of suffocation will become so great that, against its will, Hamas (Ismail Haniyeh, the vice chairman of Hamas’s political bureau, said this week that his organization has no desire for conflict with Israel) will fire rockets or carry out some other act of terrorism, such as an offensive using the tunnels they’ve been digging under Israeli territory.

 

The IDF leadership is of the opinion that Hamas does not want to engage in a war against Israel, and that it fears Israel’s strength, which is acting as a deterrence. This, however, is not preventing Hamas from rebuilding its military capabilities and digging tunnels, some of which apparently have come very close to, or possibly even infiltrated, Israeli territory. Hamas is building outposts along the border and producing longer-range rockets with enhanced precision.

 

What the upper echelons at the IDF fear is that, in the face of this deterrence, and despite the Hamas leadership’s (political and military, local and international) desire to avoid another conflict with Israel, one small incident could create a spark that would ignite the whole area, and then the situation might escalate into a full-fledged war in 2016…

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

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      HAMAS IS FRACTURING, AND ISRAEL SHOULD BE WORRIED

                   Jonathan Schanzer                                                       

Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Feb. 25, 2016

 

The al-Qassam Brigades, the so-called “armed wing” of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, is reeling from the recent execution of former official Mahmoud Ishtiwi at the hands of his fellow fighters. Several members of the Hamas fighting force resigned in protest, arguing that Ishtiwi was killed because of internal arguments within Hamas rather than immoral behavior, as was first reported. The schism has produced a new breakaway faction—the Free Qassam Members (al-Qassamiyoun al-Ahrar) which is openly speaking out against the al-Qassam Brigades leadership and calling for an investigation.

 

The schism amongst Hamas fighters comes at a difficult time for the group. Leaders from the group’s Politburo, its main policy-making body, are also squabbling. It doesn’t help that these figures are scattered across the Middle East, in places like Turkey, Qatar, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and beyond. The exile stems from Hamas’s fallout with Iran and Syria in 2012 over the slaughter in Syria. Hamas had been operating out of Damascus since the 1990s, but elected to leave after President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, with Iranian assistance, began its mass slaughter of Syrian Sunnis and Palestinians in Syrian refugee camps. The rupture not only forced Hamas to relinquish its Syrian headquarters; it also led to a cutoff in Iranian funding.

 

Yet, not all Hamas members have accepted the divorce with Iran as final. Tehran has continued to provide the al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza with rocket technology to wage war with Israel, and possibly weapons for the group’s underground operatives in the West Bank. Last week, Hamas sent a high-level delegation to Iran to celebrate the Islamic Republic’s 37th anniversary. The delegation included Osama Hamdan, the group’s Lebanon–based head of international relations, Khalid al-Qaddumi, the permanent Hamas representative to Iran, and Politburo member Mohammed Nasser. Their very presence suggests that Iran could yet again gain vast influence over the Palestinian militant group, particularly its armed wing.

 

But Hamdan and company don’t lead the Hamas Politburo. That distinction goes to Khaled Meshaal, who has been operating out of Qatar since his exile from Syria. Qatar has become a key funder for the group in recent years. The former emir, Sheikh Hamad, was the first world leader to visit the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, where he pledged $400 million in 2012. Qatari aid continues to flow today, including through channels approved by Israel to contribute to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip after the devastating war with Israel in 2014.

 

Qatar’s assistance, while crucial to the survival of Hamas, is not without its controversies. The Free Qassam Members, who have pledged their allegiance to Meshaal, claim that Ishtiwi’s executioners targeted him for contacting Hamas leaders abroad. This seems to suggest a growing and open rift between the military and political wings of the movement.

 

Hamas’s various leaders and factions, at the very least, are having trouble communicating. This was made clear with the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank in June 2014. That attack was planned and financed by a Hamas leader, Saleh Arouri, in yet another center of gravity for the group—Turkey. It is questionable whether Arouri conferred with his Hamas colleagues before ordering the operation. If he did, his colleagues somehow didn’t foresee that the attack could lead to a brutal war. And brutal it was, lasting 50 days, with Israel responding to Hamas’s nearly 5,000 rocket attacks with punishing reprisals.

 

The summer 2014 war was one from which the Gaza Strip has yet to recover. Nearly two years later, the Hamas government is under fire from its own constituents for failing to rebuild. The Hamas government has grown cautious—amid the current wave of stabbings and attacks in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip remains uncharacteristically quiet.

 

True, Hamas exhorts its followers in the West Bank to strike Israelis, but the group is cheering for a war it won’t have to fight. And yes, the al-Qassam Brigades are believed to be digging underground commando tunnels for the next war. But Israel’s leaders have signaled, knowingly or not, that this activity is unlikely to prompt a full-blown conflict.

 

Thus, while its founding charter has not changed, Hamas appears to be lacking direction. Its military wing and a gaggle of political leaders in exile are locked in a competition. Add to that the public frustration with the Gaza-based government leadership, and it’s hard to pinpoint which faction or which leader is actually steering the organization.

 

One could argue that this is a positive development for Israel, or even for the overall security of the Middle East. To be sure, a fractured Hamas is a weakened one. But a fractured terrorist organization can also be more unpredictable. Hamas lacks command and control. A single faction could launch a war that the rest of the organization does not want—and one that Israel or Western intelligence might be less likely to predict.

 

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        NO HOPE FOR GAZANS

                 Alex Fishman     

                                                          Ynet, Feb. 23, 2016

 

Just like every year, the IDF is getting ready for another violent round of conflict in Gaza this summer. The IDF chief of staff has created a deadline for the IDF to be prepared, focusing on equipment updates and training. No one knows the timing or what will be the direct cause of the next flare up, but it is clear that this near-yearly ritual illustrates the inescapable reality. Yet, this is not only the Israeli mindset.

 

The residents of Gaza who have left the Strip and spoken to Israelis reveal that this fatalistic mindset is also on the other side. In their opinion, a military confrontation is a certainty. They also believe that it will be a lot more aggressive, that Israel is sick of playing these games with Hamas, and that Israel will do everything to eliminate the organization. Meanwhile, Hamas is planning to surprise Israel with its firepower, and will hit Israel's civilian population in order to break both the status-quo and the blockade. When the two populations are convinced that a flare up will happen, the leadership will not fail to disappoint.

 

But it seems that the next round being cooked up may surprise the leadership since they will not be in control of the events. It is likely that the confrontation won't start because of some mistake, provocation, or some sort of planned military action based on political logic. There is a high probability that the timing and the intensity of the confrontation will be determined by the Gazan population, which will blow up in Hamas's face, and will spillover onto Israel, the West Bank, and even into Egypt.

Gaza has turned into a human transit camp which every day tests the limits of its population. In Israel, we often see the infrastructure crisis in Gaza – electricity and water shortages, and broken sewage systems. But that only scratches the surface: Gazan society has started to disintegrate.

 

The number of suicides has reached unprecedented levels. The number of instances of murder within the family has grown: for instance, there is a phenomenon whereby women are stabbing their unemployed husbands. Every third person is on anti-depressants. There has been an increase in drug use and the overall scope of crime has increased, mainly prostitution, as well as the phenomenon of teenagers marrying much older men who are able to support them as a second or third wife. On the other hand, there is no money, young people aren't getting married, and the average age of marriage is rising.

 

The Palestinian Authority, which is responsible for transfering aid money to the Strip, is not transfering funds for health or education in an organized fashion. In Gaza, there is no proper psychological treatment. There is a rise in the number of children born with deformities – deformities linked with incestual marriages. Due to the current world wide refugee crisis, UNWRA is receiving less money, and fewer families are able to keep their heads above water.

 

On top of all of this is the constant fear of Israeli airstrikes. For the Gazans, there is no sanctuary – they have nowhere to run, and they have no influence over events. They are mad that Hamas has built for themselves what amount to underground cities, while they are left without bomb shelters.

 

Young people who are caught trying to cross the fence into Israel say they do it because there is no food at home, or because they are escaping violence in the family. 50 percent of the youth in Gaza have said in different surveys that they want to leave Gaza forever. The IDF is keenly aware of the phenomenon: students who obtain entry permits into Israel through Erez crossing kiss the ground when they leave the Strip. For them, they are free from jail. The ethos of return has been broken – let them leave.

 

Until the middle of 2015, families who could afford it got themselves smuggled out through the tunnels into Egypt or Libya, and from there take a boat to Europe. Hundreds of Palestinians drowned along the way. The Egyptians succeeded in destroying most of the tunnels, and the route has been cut off.

 

Now, the number of people falsifying documents "proving" they are sick has grown, and these people are being taken from Gaza to the West Bank for "treatment," but never return. Several people in Gaza have already set themselves on fire in protest. In Tunis, this action led to the "Arab Spring." Gaza is also starting flare up. While it is true that the population is religious, traditional, and more willing to accept its fate, the pot is still about to boil over. When the human time-bomb explodes, there will be no warning, and the shrapnel will hit us all.

 

 

On Topic

 

Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Gives Rare Egyptian Interview: Roee Kais & Itamar Eichner, Ynet, Feb. 24, 2016 —Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Haim Koren gave a rare interview to Egyptian journalists in his residence in Cairo on Tuesday, and surprisingly, the transcript of the interview was published, and what's more, the journalists were not afraid to expose the fact that they had spoken to the representative from Israel.

Hamas Dances with the Devil: Paul Alster, IPT, Feb. 19, 2016 —The Gaza-based Hamas terror organization has more than its fair share of problems at the moment. Quite likely against its better judgment, it is becoming increasingly reliant on a controversial and dangerous relationship with Sinai Province, the vicious ISIS affiliate in Sinai.

In Historical Shift, New Egyptian Textbooks to Include Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty: Breaking Israel News, Feb. 18, 2016—A history textbook to be used in Egyptian schools will discuss the country’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel for the first time, Israel’s Army Radio reported.

Egypt's "Security Threat": Churches: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 15, 2016—On February 1, Tharwat Bukhit, a Coptic Christian member of Egypt's parliament, announced "there are approximately 50 churches in Egypt closed for reasons of security."

 

 

 

                        

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

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

 

Contents: | Weekly QuotesShort Takes   |  On Topic Links

 

On Topic Links

 

Islamist Turkey is Imploding: Alex Alexiev, American Thinker, Feb. 24, 2016

Canadian FM Outdoes Himself: Ruthie Blum, Algemeiner, Feb. 23, 2016

What Is Canada Doing Celebrating Hijab Day?: Shabnam Assadollahi, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 21, 2016

Congratulations North Korea! (Video): Jimmy Kimmel Live, Jan. 7, 2016

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“That, given Canada and Israel share a long history of friendship as well as economic and diplomatic relations, the House reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel, and call upon the government to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.” — Text of a motion by Conservative foreign affairs critic Tony Clement and Michelle Rempel. By a vote of 229 for and 51 against, the Canadian Parliament passed a motion which formally condemned the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) anti-Israel movement. The Conservatives (including former Prime Minister Stephen Harper who attended the session to cast his vote against BDS), as well as the Liberals voted for the motion. Tom Muclair, leader of the NDP, opposed it as well as Bloc Québécois and three MPs of the Liberal Party (René Arseneault, Larry Bagnell and Nick Whalen). (National Post, Feb. 17, 2016 & CIJ, Feb. 22, 2016)  

 

“The BDS movement … is wrong because the thrust of what it is asking for is the disappearance of the State of Israel. BDS is saying that all Palestinian refugees must have the right of return to what is today Israel, which would automatically create a situation where we would not have a two-state solution. We would have a one-state solution where Israel was not a majority Jewish state…BDS, which again singles out Israel, is not looking at all those other countries in the world that engage in egregious human rights violations…Only Israel is condemned, as BDS holds it to a complete double standard. Indeed, I have been to many meeting where there is talk of BDS. I have heard that Israel should be held to a higher standard, that people do not think it is like other Arab countries. That is the new form of anti-Semitism. The whole idea of holding Israel to a higher moral standard than anyone else is clearly anti-Semitic.” — Anthony Housefather, Liberal MP for Mount Royal, Quebec, during a House of Commons debate over the anti-BDS motion brought by Tony Clement and Michelle Rempel. WATCH HOUSEFATHER’S HOUSE OF COMMONS SPEECH HERE. (CIJ, Feb. 22, 2016) 

 

“The problem comes when a small group of closed-minded students attempts to impose one view of a complex regional conflict on the entire student body…There are so many opportunities for dialogue, so many opportunities for cooperation on the McGill campus. And yet it doesn’t happen. What we get is maybe eight months of silence from pro-Palestinian groups, and then a [resolution] is thrown at us on a moment’s notice. That’s not productive. That’s not cooperative. That isn’t the proper way to address the situation.” — Simon, a law student at McGill University. McGill’s student government on Monday passed a resolution endorsing the anti-Israel BDS movement, by a large margin. The final tally in the secret ballot was 512 for, 357 opposed and 14 abstentions. The group behind the resolution, the McGill BDS Action Network, worked during the week before the vote to rally support for it, sponsoring a series of events on campus, including lectures, panel discussions, and films. Similar BDS resolutions at McGill failed in 2009, 2014 and as recently as 2015. (Algemeiner, Feb. 23, 2016)

 

“The BDS movement is wholly anti-semitic, seeks to destroy Israel, and promotes alliances with people whose values are absolutely counter to Western values of law and civil rights. Palestinian society has no freedom of religion, no rights for gays, no freedom of speech, no rule of law, no equal rights for women, no concept of civil rights, and proposes a state in which no Jews would be allowed to live. The claim that BDS opposes only “Israeli occupation” is belied by the wholesale belief across the Palestinian spectrum that “occupation” refers to all of the land of Israel. If the Palestinians really wanted a state and could accept living in peace next to Israel (rather than seeking to destroy it), they could have had one long ago.” — David M. Sherman. The executive of the York University Faculty Association (YUFA) voted Feb. 12 to endorse the YUDivest Coalition, made up of groups including Amnesty International at York and Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA), to urge York to divest from arms manufacturers, such as Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, FLIR Systems, and Textron. Jewish groups and some York faculty believe that although this campaign doesn’t openly single out Israel, it is part of a “backdoor” BDS campaign against Israel. (CJN, Feb. 18, 2016)

 

“This is going to be difficult to implement…We know there are a lot of obstacles, and there are sure to be some setbacks.” — White House spokesman Josh Earnest. The U.S. and Russia have agreed on a new cease-fire for Syria that will take effect Saturday, even as major questions over enforcing and responding to violations of the truce were left unresolved. Syria’s warring government and rebels still need to accept the deal. The timeline for a hoped-for breakthrough comes after the former Cold War foes, backing opposing sides in the conflict, said they finalized the details of a “cessation of hostilities” between President Bashar Assad’s government and armed opposition groups after five years of violence that has killed more than 250,000 people. The truce will not cover Islamic State (I.S.), the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front and any other militias designated as terrorist organizations. (Global, Feb. 22, 2016)

 

“Russia must understand that its unconditional support to Bashar al-Assad is a dead end and a dead end that could be extremely dangerous.” — François Delattre, French Ambassador to the UN.  Delattre put the blame for the latest military escalation on the new push by the government of Syria’s President Assad, and his backers in Moscow, and he warned that it could further inflame the region. (New York Times, Feb. 19, 2016)

 

“There is a risk of war between Turkey and Russia…There must be pressure on Moscow so that we have negotiations…You are not striking the right spots and you are striking civilian populations, which is unacceptable.” — President François Hollande of France. (New York Times, Feb. 19, 2016)

 

“If Russia continues behaving like a terrorist organization and forcing civilians to flee, we will deliver an extremely decisive response…Unfortunately, barbaric attacks on civilians are continuing in Syria, and these attacks are being waged by both Russia and terrorist groups.” — Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Turkish President Erdogan is angry with Russia (and the U.S.) for helping Syria’s Kurds. Under Russian air support, the Kurds are expanding their territory into areas near the Turkish border, where the Turkish air force has been active. The problem intensified when at least 27 people were killed in a suicide bombing in Ankara last week. Turkish officials quickly blamed a Syrian Kurdish group, the YPG — which the U.S. supports and trains, and which Russia helps from the air. (YPG denies involvement in the Ankara bombing.) Turkey says the Kurds are allied with Bashar al-Assad — the man whose power Russia fights to preserve. (New York Post, Feb. 18, 2016)

 

“The “dimensions of shame” awaiting the perpetrators of and the bystanders to the crimes of the Syrian war are as yet unknown, but they will be ample. German has a better word than bystander for those — always the majority — who make their accommodations with evil. That word is “mitläufer,” roughly “fellow traveler.” There has been a lot of discussion of the origins of ISIS, of the complexity of defeating it, of its digital slickness, but little of its pure evil — its desecration of human life and its exaltation of death (even delivered by children). To dwell on the group’s iniquity — its contempt for humanity — would be to suggest the necessity of its immediate extirpation; and no Western government wants to deploy soldiers to do that. That is a moral capitulation, whatever else it may be.” — Roger Cohen (New York Times, Feb. 18, 2016)

 

“Libya has become a magnet for individuals not only inside of Libya, but from the African continent as well as from outside.” — John O. Brennan, the director of the C.I.A. I.S.’s branch in Libya is deepening its reach across a wide area of Africa, attracting new recruits from countries like Senegal that had been largely immune to the jihadist propaganda — and forcing the African authorities and their Western allies to increase efforts to combat the fast-moving threat. Even as American intelligence agencies say the number of I.S. fighters in Iraq and Syria has dropped to about 25,000 from a high of about 31,500, partly because of the United States-led air campaign there, the group’s ranks in Libya have roughly doubled in the same period, to about 6,500 fighters. (New York Times, Feb. 21, 2016)

 

“America will stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel – if I am president – because I am not neutral between terrorists who are blowing up and murdering women and children, and the people of Israel who are trying to defend their nation.” — Texas senator and Republican Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz. Cruz derided Donald Trump for claiming “neutrality” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Last week, Cruz’s rival Trump said that he would like to remain “neutral” in order to maintain credibility with both sides as a potential peace negotiator, though he hinted Israel is justified in its actions against Palestinian terror and incitement. (Breaking Israel News, Feb. 22, 2016)

 

“I will defend and do everything I can to support Israel, particularly as the neighborhood around it seems to become more dangerous and difficult…I also believe the Palestinians deserve to have a state of their own. That’s why I support a two-state solution. That’s what I have worked on. That’s what I tried to move forward when I was secretary, and holding three very intense conversations between the prime minister of Israel and the president of the Palestinian Authority.” — Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton. Despite her warm words in public, however, emails released as part of the ongoing investigation of her use of a private email address during her tenure as Secretary of State suggest a less-than-positive attitude towards Israel. In one she calls Israelis “always cocky”, while in another, dated 2011, she considers a suggestion from a senior aide to stir up Palestinian unrest as a means to bring Israel back to the negotiating table. (Breaking Israel News, Feb. 22, 2016)

 

Contents

 

SHORT TAKES

 

THREE PALESTINIANS KILLED IN ATTACKS ON ISRAELI FORCES (Jerusalem) — Three Palestinian attackers were killed in separate assaults on Israeli forces on Friday, including a stabbing attack in Jerusalem that left two Israeli officers wounded before one of them overpowered and killed the attacker. The assaults were the latest in a five month-long wave of Palestinian violence that shows no sign of abating. Palestinian attackers have carried out numerous assaults at the Damascus Gate over the past five months, prompting Israel to significantly beef up security there in response. Since mid-September, 28 Israelis have been killed. During that time, 165 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, the majority said by Israel to be attackers. The rest died in clashes with security forces. (Washington Post, Feb. 19, 2016)

 

IRAN OFFERS REWARD FOR FAMILIES OF PALESTINIAN 'INTIFADA MARTYRS' (Tehran) — Iran announced its support for the "Jerusalem intifada" that Israel has been witnessing for months, declaring that it would give financial rewards to families of Palestinian terrorists. Speaking at a press conference in Beirut, with the participation of several Palestinian leaders, Iranian ambassador to Lebanon, Mohammad Fathali, said: "Continuing Iran's support for the oppressed Palestinian people, Iran announces the provision of financial aid to families of Palestinian martyrs who were killed in the "Jerusalem intifada." According to the ambassador, every family of a martyr will receive $7,000, while a family whose home was demolished by the IDF will receive $30,000. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 24, 2016)

 

US 'TARGETS TUNISIA MASSACRE ORGANISER' IN LIBYA STRIKES (Tripoli) — One of the masterminds behind last summer's massacre of British tourists in Tunisia is believed to have been killed in a US bombing raid on an I.S. camp in Libya. American warplanes targeted Noureddine Chouchane, a Tunisian terrorist who helped organize the attack that killed 30 Britons at a beach hotel in June. US intelligence is still trying to confirm whether Chouchane was killed but more than 30 other I.S. fighters died in the bombing. The raid is symbol of growing Western alarm at how I.S. has expanded its control over swathes of Libya even as it faces setbacks in Iraq and Syria. (Telegraph, Feb. 19, 2016)

 

I.S. RELEASES 43 ASSYRIAN HOSTAGES AFTER RANSOM PAYMENTS (Raqqa) — I.S. released 43 Assyrian hostages from its capital of Raqqa after receiving ransom payments. Those released are the final group of captives that I.S. kidnapped one year ago from villages in northern Syria, including many children. In 2015, I.S. forced more than 200 Assyrians to live under its strict version of Islam after making them pay jizya (tax) and sign a dhimma (social contract). As of July, a third of Syria’s 600,000 Christians had fled; Lebanon’s Christian population has shrunk from 78 percent to 34 percent; and only a third of the 1.5 million Christians who lived in Iraq in 2003 remain today. (Newsweek, Feb. 22, 2016)

 

SAUDI ARABIA SCRAPS $3 BILLION FUNDING TO LEBANON FOR ARMS (Riyadh) — Saudi Arabia scrapped $3 billion in pledged military aid to Lebanon, blaming the prominent role in national affairs of the Hezbollah group backed by Iran. The decision was taken to protest Lebanon’s failure to condemn an attack on the Saudi embassy in Iran “as the so-called Hezbollah confiscates the will of the state,” the Saudi Press Agency reported. The Saudi assistance was destined to buy French weapons for the Lebanese army as part of the government’s plan to modernize its forces. Saudi Arabia is unable to ensure the French weapons won’t fall into the hands of Hezbollah, whose fighters are supporting President Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria’s war. (Bloomberg, Feb. 19, 2016)

 

OTTAWA EYES FRESH FUNDING FOR UN GROUP WITH ALLEGED TIES TO HAMAS (Ottawa) — The Liberal government is now reviewing whether to extend funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which was established in 1950 to deal with Palestinian refugees. The Liberals are eyeing a plan to provide $15-million to the agency. UNRWA has been criticized by pro-Israel lobbyists in Canada and the U.S. for working closely with Hamas supporters in Gaza by providing schools and employment and humanitarian assistance for Palestinians who are still considered refugees by the UN. The former Harper government eliminated its funding for UNRWA in 2010, amid mounting criticism that its schools were hotbeds of anti-Israeli extremism. (Globe & Mail, Feb. 14, 2016)

 

PA OFFICIAL: JEWS SHOULD RETURN TO THEIR COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN (Ramallah) — Ibrahim Khreisheh, the Palestinian Authority’s envoy to the UN Human Rights Council, recently said that it may "be useful" to ask Arab and European countries "to allow the Jews to return to their former lands and homes…We never had people from Poland, the Ukraine, France, or England," he added. Khreisheh is the same PA official who admitted in the past that the PA has no hope of pressing charges against Israel in international courts because Palestinian terrorist groups are far worse violators of international law themselves. (Arutz Sheva, Feb. 17, 2016)

 

ANTI-ISRAEL ADS COVER LONDON UNDERGROUND TRAINS (London) — Millions of Monday morning passengers on the London Underground were greeted with a number of ads taken out by the BDS Movement accusing Israel of torturing and massacring Palestinians and slamming UK companies with links to the Jewish state. According to a report, the campaign includes four ads purportedly put up in 500 trains. The posters were made for what anti-Israel activists dub “Israel Apartheid Week”. Transport for London, the body that oversees the London Underground, said in a statement that it had not approved the ads. "These are not authorized adverts," read the statement. "It is fly posting and therefore an act of vandalism which we take extremely seriously.” (Ynet, Feb. 22, 2016)

 

AFTER PALESTINE TALK, HARVARD DONOR STOPS SPONSORING EVENTS (Boston) — A major backer of Harvard Law School has stopped sponsoring student events after its donation helped pay for a discussion on Palestine. In 2012, law firm Milbank promised Harvard $1 million over five years to pay for scholarly conferences organized by law students. But after the money was used to support an event hosted by the student group Justice for Palestine, the law firm asked Harvard Law School to use the money for other purposes. In October, students in Justice for Palestine hosted a talk examining what they say is a movement to suppress advocates of Palestine. (Washington Post, Feb. 19, 2016)

 

STUDENTS IN BROOKLYN COLLEGE DEMAND ‘ZIONISTS OFF CAMPUS’ (New York) — A group of Brooklyn College students interrupted a faculty council meeting last week and allegedly demanded that “Zionists” leave campus. Brooklyn state Assemblyman Dov Hikind said he received complaints after the meeting from “dozens” of faculty members. The Anti-Defamation League denounced the incident and commended the Brooklyn College president and senior vice president for their strong condemnation.  Back in November, ADL had commended CUNY (City University of New York) for standing up against bigotry, prejudice and antisemitism after the student group “Students for Justice in Palestine” invoked antisemitic stereotypes when referring to CUNY leadership as a “Zionist administration” at Hunter College. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 18, 2016)

 

ISRAEL INTERCEPTS GAZA-BOUND DRONE SHIPMENT DISGUISED AS TOYS (Gaza) — A shipment of drones disguised as toys that was bound for the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip was recently intercepted by Israeli security personnel at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, the Israeli Defense Ministry announced Sunday. The drones were discovered during a search of a truck carrying toys. Security personnel found drones of different sizes and types. All were equipped with quality cameras. It is believed the drones were meant to be used to gather intelligence on Israel Defense Forces activities. According to the Defense Ministry, a number of other drone-smuggling attempts have been foiled by Israel’s Shin Bet security agency in recent weeks. (Algemeiner, Feb. 22, 2016)

 

FROM CHINA TO ISRAEL: FIVE WOMEN FROM JEWISH COMMUNITY TO MAKE ALIYA (Bejing) — Five women in their twenties from the ancient Chinese Jewish community of Kaifeng are due to make aliya in late February in what will mark the first aliya of its kind in nearly seven years. The women plan to pursue Jewish studies in Jerusalem upon arrival. The last time a group of Kaifeng Jews made aliya was in 2009, when Shavei Israel assisted seven young men in their journey from China to Israel. According to a press release issued by Shavei Israel, the Kaifeng Jews were found by Iraqi or Persian Jewish merchants around the 8th century. The community peaked during the Ming Dynasty with 5,000 members. Yet widespread intermarriage and assimilation brought about their demise by the early 19th century. Today only 500-1000 are believed to be remaining. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 24, 2016)

 

GERMANY: MIGRANT CRIME SKYROCKETS (Berlin) — Migrants committed 208,344 crimes in 2015, according to a confidential police report that was leaked to the German newspaper, Bild. This figure represents an 80% increase over 2014. The actual number of migrant crimes is far higher, however, because the report, produced by the Federal Criminal Police Office, includes only crimes that have been solved. Moreover, the report does not include crime data from North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous state in Germany and also the state with the largest number of migrants. North Rhine-Westphalia's biggest city is Cologne, where, on New Year's Eve, hundreds of German women were sexually assaulted by migrants. Further, many crimes are simply not reported or are deliberately overlooked: political leaders across Germany have ordered police to turn a blind eye to crimes perpetrated by migrants, apparently to avoid fueling anti-immigration sentiments. (Gatestone Institute, Feb. 21, 2016)

 

NAZI HUNTER BEATE KLARSFELD GETS ISRAELI CITIZENSHIP (Berlin) — German Nazi hunter Beate Klarsfeld, 77, has been granted Israeli citizenship. Interior Minister Aryeh Deri presented Klarsfeld, who is not Jewish, with the citizenship in a ceremony in Jerusalem. A German journalist, Klarsfeld is the daughter of a Wehrmacht soldier, while her husband Serge, 79, is the son of French Jews deported from France during the Holocaust. The Klarsfelds played a vital role in bringing Klaus Barbie, the former Gestapo chief in Lyon during World War II, to justice, as well as French officials who collaborated with the Nazi occupiers. (Times of Israel, Feb. 19, 2016)

 

LAST SURVIVOR OF TREBLINKA REVOLT IS LAID TO REST (Jerusalem) — Israeli President Rivlin was among those attending the funeral of Samuel Willenberg, the last remaining survivor of the revolt at the Treblinka death camp in Poland, who died on Saturday at the age of 93. Willenberg was born in 1923 in Częstochowa, Poland. At the age of 19, he was rounded up with the Jews during the liquidation of the ghetto in Opatow, and sent to Treblinka. Acting on the advice of another Jewish prisoner, he posed as a bricklayer upon his arrival at the extermination camp. He was the only person from his transport not to perish in the gas chambers. Willenberg took part in the 1943 revolt at Treblinka, becoming one of the few hundred who managed to escape the camp. Willenberg moved to Israel in 1950 with his wife and his mother. After retirement, he found success as a sculptor and held several international exhibits of his work, which focused on the Holocaust and his own experiences in Treblinka. (Times of Israel, Feb. 22, 2016)

 

Contents

On Topic Links

 

 

Islamist Turkey is Imploding: Alex Alexiev, American Thinker, Feb. 24, 2016 —In the past two weeks a number of events have taken place in Turkey that, taken together, indicate that this erstwhile U.S. ally is spinning dangerously out of control with neither Ankara nor Washington and its European allies having the slightest clue of what to do.

Canadian FM Outdoes Himself: Ruthie Blum, Algemeiner, Feb. 23, 2016 —Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion exhibited a real knack for the twofer on Friday, by going after both his political opposition and the Israeli government in one disingenuous swoop.

What Is Canada Doing Celebrating Hijab Day?: Shabnam Assadollahi, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 21, 2016 —This Thursday, February 25, 2016, the city of Ottawa will be holding a public event celebrating the hijab, Islam's physical repression of women. The City for All Women Initiative (CAWI) organization, backed by the City Council of Ottawa, is hosting the Ottawa Hijab Solidarity Day celebration, also called "Walking with Our Muslims Sisters," at City Hall. According to CAWI, the main purpose of this event is to encourage non-Muslim women to wear a hijab to understand life as a Muslim woman.

Congratulations North Korea! (Video): Jimmy Kimmel Live, Jan. 7, 2016 —North Korea is claiming that they successfully detonated their first hydrogen bomb. You’d think that the idea that they might have an H bomb would be somewhat alarming to those of us who are here on the West coast, but we went out on the street and it seems like if you ask people a question in a cheerful enough way, we will offer congratulations for just about anything.

 

Manfred Gerstenfeld: IS A BREAK UP OF THE E.U GOOD FOR ISRAEL?

 

 

There is currently much tension in the European Union both among member countries and in their relationship with EU leaders in Brussels. As a result, the continued existence of the Schengen open borders agreement, the Euro and even the EU itself has been brought into question by leading politicians, such as EU president Jean-Claude Juncker and EU parliament president Martin Schultz.[1]

 

Despite this pessimistic outlook, the total disintegration of the EU seems largely theoretical. However, it is important for Israel to study the implications of such a development. An analysis of a possible break-up of the EU may help Israel understand how to proceed more effectively in its complex relationship with that body.

 

A more integrated European Union would not bode well for Israel. There is by now ample evidence to support the prediction that the more power Brussels has, the more it will abuse it against Israel. This may be seen, for example, from the discriminatory labelling of settlement products and the financial support for extremist so-called humanitarian Israeli NGOs – in reality humanitarian racist bodies — which remain silent about the genocidal intentions of Hamas, the largest Palestinian party. The EU also interferes in the in the Israel-controlled Area C in the territories in opposition to Israel’s declared wishes, including financing housing for Palestinians there.[2]

 

Double standards are at the core of anti-Semitism through the centuries. The European Union has frequently applied these against Israel. The requirement to label goods from Israeli settlements – something not  demanded for other areas which are similarly in dispute – made the EU bias against Israel so explicit that the Simon Wiesenthal Center gave the EU pride of place in its annual 2015 list of major anti-Semitic slurs.

 

In the first part of the previous century Jews suffered hugely from extreme nationalistic anti-Semitism. The EU is a supranational body. Member states have gradually been relinquishing elements of their sovereignty in its favor.[3] Israel is a nation state which jealously guards its sovereignty.  The EU, by nature a sovereignty-absorbing entity, can hardly look favorably on it, despite its being a democracy. Today Israel is the target of supranational anti-Semitism, exhibited among others by the EU and the UN. This is much weaker than traditional, national anti-Semitism, but far from innocuous.[4]

The recent massive refugee influx has made many more Europeans aware of the potential consequences of the partial transfer of national sovereignty to the EU. This has been highlighted in the loss of control over member nations’ borders. Experts in the UK are also concerned about the primacy of European law over national law.[5]

 

Those EU member countries which are willing to accept the Brussels dictum and take in significant numbers of new immigrants disperse them over many locations. Previous immigrants live usually in suburbs or neighborhoods of larger cities. During the recent influx, large numbers of asylum seekers were housed in smaller communities. This has substantial social and political ramifications. Among many other problems, asylum seeker centers have become a focus for attacks by citizens against asylum seekers and the centers themselves, violence within the centers and attacks against local residents by refugees.

 

Tensions within the E.U have oscillated over the past decades, Euroscepticism is probably currently at a historical high, partly due to the refugee crisis, which French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said is destabilizing Europe.[6]

Anti-European parties in various countries, including France and Netherlands are gaining in the polls. The EU’s opponents present many arguments, from the economic, citing the low growth of the E.U economy, to the security-related, in that open borders facilitate terrorism.

 

The upcoming UK referendum on a possible “Brexit” – whether the country should exit the EU or remain a member – is another important milestone in the unfolding anti-EU events. The many arguments brought forward by Brexit proponents against the EU may serve Israel in its negotiations with that body.[7] Germany’s domination of the EU, already sizeable, will become even more problematic as a result of a possible UK exit. Wolfgang Schaüble, the German finance minister has said that investors in Asia and the US may diagnose terminal decline in Europe if the EU cannot prevent the UK from leaving its ranks.[8]

 

The foreign ministers of the six initial founding states German, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg have recently been meeting on how to push European integration forward.[9] This meeting took place against a background where the proponents of a federal Europe, although not fully defeated, have been pushed into a corner. For Israel, the difficult situation faced by the pro-integrationists is a welcome development.

 

A total break-up of the EU has both advantages and disadvantages for Israel. Rather than dealing with the EU, nominally representing 500 million citizens, Israel would then have to deal with many smaller countries. This may be beneficial when such countries attempt to meddle in Israel’s internal policies, without the power of a supranational body behind them.

 

However, if the EU does disintegrate completely, countries such as Sweden ruled by an anti-Israel inciting government dominated by social democrats may embark on more extreme policies toward Israel when not bound within the EU to seek compromise. Although the absence of an EU may make it easier to face-off against the Swedes, very undesirable precedents may be created.

 

In the light of all this a shrinking of the E.U’s power and competences without an actual break up would probably be best for Israel. This the more so if the Euro is dissolved and the Schengen open border agreement is cancelled. This would also mean a psychological trouncing.

 

The above analysis at this early stage can only be indicative. Yet it can serve to clarify Israel’s thoughts as the situation evolves.



[2] www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2874883/EU-funding-illegal-building-West-Bank-says-report.htm

[3] www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12146990/Do-you-want-sovereignty-back-Then-vote-to-leave-the-EU.html

[4] http://jcpa.org/article/the-moral-relativism-of-the-united-nations/

[5] www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12156936/Attorney-General-could-vote-to-leave-European-Union.html

[6] www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/22/french-pm-manuel-valls-says-refugee-crisis-is-destabilising-europe

[9] www.politico.eu/article/ministers-core-europe-plan-eu-future-rome-meeting-founding-members-integration/