MEDIA-OCRITIES OF THE WEEK: CARTER: AMERICA MUST RECOGNIZE PALESTINE: “I am convinced that the United States can still shape the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before a change in presidents, but time is very short. The simple but vital step this administration must take before its term expires on Jan. 20 is to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, as 137 countries have already done, and help it achieve full United Nations membership…This is the best — now, perhaps, the only — means of countering the one-state reality that Israel is imposing on itself and the Palestinian people. Recognition of Palestine and a new Security Council resolution are not radical new measures, but a natural outgrowth of America’s support for a two-state solution.” — Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter (New York Times, Nov. 28, 2016)
NYT IN PANIC MODE: “TRUMP-BANNON WAR CAN ONLY END IN APOCALYPSE”: “Obama is of mixed race. Who could better symbolize the looming decadence? For “Make America Great Again,” read “Make America White Again.” Trump saw that racism and sexism could be manipulated in his favor. He was the self-styled voice of the people to whom he bore least resemblance: those at the periphery far from the metropolitan hubs of the Davos consensus…Taken to its logical conclusion, the Trump-Bannon war can only end in apocalypse. I believe money binds Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and Trump. Precisely how we do not know yet. But there is also a cultural aspect. Putin has set himself up as the guardian of an absolutist culture against what Russia sees as the predatory and relativist culture of the West. The Putin entourage is convinced the decadence of the West is revealed in its irreligious embrace of same-sex marriage, radical feminism, euthanasia, homosexuality and choose-your-gender bathrooms. Enter Bannon. It’s all a terrible mistake…I see a high chance of disaster within the first year of the new presidency. Trump won the game. But now the game for him could be up. Or perhaps the world will go down in flames.” — Roger Cohen (New York Times, Nov. 18, 2016)
“[TRUMP IS] AN ABERRATION AND ABOMINATION”: “You are an aberration and abomination who is willing to do and say anything — no matter whom it aligns you with and whom it hurts — to satisfy your ambitions. I don’t believe you care much at all about this country or your party or the American people. I believe that the only thing you care about is self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment. Your strongest allegiance is to your own cupidity. I also believe that much of your campaign was an act of psychological projection, as we are now learning that many of the things you slammed Clinton for are things of which you may actually be guilty…You are a fraud and a charlatan. Yes, you will be president, but you will not get any breaks just because one branch of your forked tongue is silver. I am not easily duped by dopes. I have not only an ethical and professional duty to call out how obscene your very existence is at the top of American government; I have a moral obligation to do so…So let me say this on Thanksgiving: I’m thankful to have this platform because as long as there are ink and pixels, you will be the focus of my withering gaze. I’m thankful that I have the endurance and can assume a posture that will never allow what you represent to ever be seen as everyday and ordinary. No, Mr. Trump, we will not all just get along. For as long as a threat to the state is the head of state, all citizens of good faith and national fidelity — and certainly this columnist — have an absolute obligation to meet you and your agenda with resistance at every turn.” — Charles M. Blow (New York Times, Nov. 23, 2016)
Russian Campaign in Syria Exposes Moscow’s Defense Gaps: Nathan Hodge & Julian E. Barnes, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 28, 2016
Germany Cracks Down on Salafists to Shield Refugees: Alison Smale, New York Times, Nov. 19, 2016
The Ohio State Attack was Honed by Palestinians: Benny Avni, New York Post, Nov. 29, 2016
‘There He Goes Again’ — Jimmy Carter Blames Israel One More Time: Elliott Abrams, National Review, Nov. 29, 2016
"Is this a real statement or a parody? Because if this is a real statement from the PM of Canada it is shameful (and) embarrassing.''— Marco Rubio, Cuban-American Republican senator for Florida. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing criticism for his statement expressing "deep sorrow'' about the death of former Cuban president Fidel Castro. Trudeau made the statement after the announcement that Castro had died at the age of 90. Trudeau acknowledged Castro was a "controversial figure,'' but remembered him as a "larger-than-life leader,'' who made significant improvements to Cuba's education and health-care systems. "I know my father was very proud to call him a friend,'' he added. Rubio said that if anything, Castro’s death should stiffen the resolve of those determined to oppose the Cuban government. “The dictator has died, but dictatorship has not…The future of Cuba ultimately remains in the hands of the Cuban people, and now more than ever Congress and the new administration must stand with them against their brutal rulers and support their struggle for freedom and basic human rights.” (Huffington Post, Nov. 26, 2016)
“If…Trudeau does not believe that Castro was just a superhuman social reformer, and he really sees Cuba’s generations of exiles and political prisoners as more than hazy abstractions, then his family’s sucking up to Castro is fully conscious, fairy-tale evil, rather than the aftertaste of Fidel’s long-standing glamour cult among halfwit intellectuals…Fidel died wallowing in the last ditch of the Cold War, and if the Cold War taught us one verifiable thing…it is that to speak truth about totalitarian governments is important. Consider Ronald Reagan’s 1983 speech in which he called the Soviet Union an “evil empire.”… No one expects a Reaganite outburst from Justin. But the guiding maxim in being polite about authoritarian strongmen should be to show some awareness, however obliquely or subtly, of their victims.” — Colby Cosh (National Post, Nov. 28, 2016)
“It’s easy to overlook the truth about the place. The Cuban people are equal in their wretchedness. (Meanwhile, the Castros have salted away a fortune.) Everyone is literate, but there’s nothing to read apart from what the regime approves of. Aspirin and Band-Aids are available only by prescription, and treatment for complicated illnesses is almost non-existent. People can’t vote. They can’t speak freely. According to Human Rights Watch, “Many of the abusive tactics developed during [Castro’s] time in power – including surveillance, beatings, arbitrary detention, and public acts of repudiation – are still used by the Cuban government. Fidel Castro was a failure in every way. He wouldn’t give his people freedom and he couldn’t even give them bread. We should be dancing on his grave. As for Justin – he’s not sorry for what he said. He’s proud of it.” — Margaret Wente (Globe & Mail, Nov. 28, 2016)
“We’re not going to have a unilateral deal coming from Cuba back to the United States without some changes in their government – [on] repression, open markets, freedom of religion, political prisoners. These things need to change in order to have open and free relationships.” — Reince Priebus, President-elect Donald Trump’s chief of staff. Fidel Castro is gone, but the economic thaw between the United States and Cuba remains tenuous amid threats by Trump to roll back Barack Obama’s efforts to normalize relations with the Communist regime. Trump is warning he may re-impose some sanctions and reverse last year’s historic reopening of the U.S. embassy in Havana after 54 years unless Cuba agrees to major political and economic reforms. (Globe & Mail, Nov. 27, 2016)
“While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve…Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.” — Donald Trump. (New York Times, Nov. 26, 2016)
“What’s happening now in Aleppo is a genocide against the civilians… In truth, we don’t know what our fate is in the coming days. … Unfortunately we don’t see any movement from the international community, or the major powers who claim to be friends of the Syrian people. We try to retain a sliver of hope that the situation may improve, but if nobody moves to stop the regime and Russian bombardment of civilians, we fear the greatest humanitarian catastrophe of the modern era will take place.” — Khaled Khatib, an official for the Syrian Civil Defense. Over the course of the last week Syrian rebels suffered their worst defeat in four years as forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad managed to sack a third of eastern Aleppo. In a fortnight, at least 500 people have been killed and 1,000 more wounded as Russian and Syrian warplanes pounded the city from the sky while a consortium of Syrian soldiers and Iranian-built militias stormed it on the ground. (Daily Beast, Nov. 28, 2016)
“It’s like doomsday…The problem today, in this moment, is not water and food…We are threatened with slaughtering.” — Zaher al-Zaher, an anti-government activist in eastern Aleppo. Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and former commercial centre, has been contested ground since the summer of 2012. A rebel defeat there could be a turning point in the five-year conflict. If Syrian forces capture all of east Aleppo, Assad’s government will be in control of the country’s four largest cities. (National Post, Nov. 28, 2016)
“In my estimation, nearly 1 million people have died in Syria. These deaths are still continuing without exception for children, women and men. Where is the United Nations? What is it doing? Is it in Iraq? No. We preached patience but could not endure in the end and had to enter Syria together with the Free Syrian Army [FSA]…Why did we enter? We do not have an eye on Syrian soil. The issue is to provide lands to their real owners. That is to say we are there for the establishment of justice. We entered there to end the rule of the tyrant al-Assad who terrorizes with state terror. [We didn’t enter] for any other reason.” — Turkish President Recep Erdoğan. On Aug. 24, the Turkish Armed Forces launched an operation in Syria with FSA fighters to clear the country’s southern border of both I.S. and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces, which Ankara considers as a terrorist group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). (Hurriyet News, Nov. 29, 2016)
“We have lost everything, our infrastructure, and we have nothing left to lose…Now it is a long war of attrition.” —Brig. Gen. Sharaf Luqman, a spokesman for Yemen’s Houthi-allied military units. The Houthis surged to prominence after they seized control of Yemen’s northwest in 2014. Since then, they have pushed the national government into exile and set off a new Middle Eastern war in which they are in the cross hairs of an intensive bombardment campaign by Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab countries. Now they are struggling to govern in the middle of a war that has ground to a destructive stalemate. The rebels’ slogan is spray-painted on walls and checkpoints throughout their territory: “God is great. Death to America. Death to Israel. Curse on the Jews. Victory for Islam.” (New York Times, Nov. 26, 2016)
“I prayed that their stolen wealth and belongings burn, so that they taste some of the suffering they have dealt to the people of Palestine…Our prayers are against the occupation, and for the criminal occupiers to taste some of the evil of what they have done to others, so that maybe they will learn a lesson and think about their crimes…The people of Palestine have been burning for decades now under the bombs and oppression of the Zionists. All that is happening now is the occupiers are getting taste of what they have inflicted on the people they oppressed.” — Mazin AbdulAdhim, a prominent Imam of Iraqi descent in London, Ontario. The fires that raged in Israel for five days are over. Israeli firefighters with international help, including a fire truck from the Palestinian Authority, extinguished 1,773 fires. More than 20 Israeli Arabs were detained by police in connection to 24 of the 39 wildfires which are being investigated for arson. AbdulAdhim applauded the suspected arson attacks and prayed to Allah to “cause the winds to increase and the fires to spread far and wide, and burn their [Israelis] illegitimate properties and all their beloved belongings to ashes.” After being criticized on Facebook, AbdulAdhim posted the following clarification: “We are not calling for the death of anyone. We are praying that their illegal properties and stolen wealth are burned.” (CIJ News, Nov. 28, 2016)
REPORT: ISRAEL HITS SYRIAN MILITARY, HEZBOLLAH WEAPONS CONVOY (Damascus) — Israeli jets struck a Syrian military target and a Hezbollah weapons convoy Wednesday, Arab media reported. Israeli warplanes struck the military target in Damascus, while the raid on the weapons convoy occurred on the Damascus-Beirut highway. Israel did not immediately confirm or deny news of the purported attacks. Earlier this week, the IAF struck a military target belonging to I.S. on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. The raid Monday was the second Israeli airstrike to respond to an attack a day earlier by I.S. fighters against IDF soldiers. No Israeli soldiers were injured in the exchange. The IDF responded with an airstrike that morning that killed four members of an I.S.-affiliated terror group that it said had launched the attack. (Times of Israel, Nov. 29, 2016)
FATAH UNANIMOUSLY RE-ELECTS ABBAS AS LEADER (Ramala) —Palestinian political party Fatah unanimously re-elected Mahmoud Abbas as its leader at the opening this week of its first leadership congress in more than seven years. The re-election of the 81-year-old Abbas, who also serves as president of the PA, comes despite growing unpopularity and internal dissent within Palestinian society. Abbas has been increasingly challenged by a younger generation of Palestinian leaders, including exiled rival Mohammad Dahlan, who currently resides in the UAE. Later this week, members of Fatah will hold elections to determine the future of the party. (Algemeiner, Nov. 29, 2016)
ERDOGAN THREATENS TO UNLEASH MIGRANT SURGE (Ankara) — Turkey’s president warned Europe that his nation could unleash another migrant crisis in the West, sharply raising the stakes after E.U. lawmakers called for a suspension in membership talks with Turkey. Quarrels over Turkey’s bid to join the EU have flared for decades and the vote by the European Parliament to freeze membership was largely symbolic. But the latest rift underscored the elevated risks amid new political pressures on both sides more than 10 months after an E.U.-Turkey pact that greatly slowed a surge of more than 1 million migrants and refugees into Europe. Turkey hosts one of the world’s largest refugee population – an estimated 2.7 million Syrians and 300,000 Iraqis, among others. (Washington Post, Nov. 25, 2016)
PAKISTAN NAMES NEW MILITARY LEADER (Islamabad) — Prime Minister Sharif of Pakistan chose Lt. Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, a commander with a solid soldierly reputation and a firm belief in civilian supremacy, to lead the country’s powerful army. General Bajwa will replace Gen. Raheel Sharif, an immensely popular commander in Pakistan for his successes against the Taliban. The new army chief faces multiple challenges, including deteriorating relations with neighboring Afghanistan and India as border clashes escalate, as well as conflict with militants inside Pakistan. (New York Times, Nov. 26, 2016)
POLICE PROBE OHIO STATE ATTACK AS POSSIBLE TERRORISM (Columbus) — Police in Columbus, Ohio, are executing search warrants on the home and electronic devices of Abdul Razak Ali Artan, the suspect in an attack that left 11 injured at Ohio State University on Monday. Artan was killed by police soon after he allegedly jumped a curb in his car, rammed into a group of pedestrians and then stabbed a number of individuals. He was an OSU student and legal U.S. resident from Somalia. A Facebook post by the suspect suggested he was angry over what he perceived as mistreatment of Muslims, but didn’t express loyalty to a specific group or ideology. I.S.’s media arm, Amaq, claimed Tuesday that the Ohio State assailant was a “soldier of the Islamic State.” (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 29, 2016)
U.S. WELCOMED A RECORD NUMBER OF MUSLIM REFUGEES IN 2016 (Washington) — The U.S. admitted a record number of Muslim refugees in fiscal year 2016, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the State Department's Refugee Processing Center. Of the nearly 85,000 refugees who entered the country from Oct. 1, 2015, through Sept. 30, 2016, some 46 percent were Muslim, Pew found. The total — 38,901 — marks the highest number of Muslim refugees admitted since data on self-reported religious affiliations first became available in 2002. A similar number of Christian refugees — 37,521, or 44 percent — were admitted over the course of the fiscal year. This is the first time in a decade that a smaller percentage of refugees were Christian versus Muslim. (NBC, Oct. 5, 2016)
TRUMP TAPS PRO-ISRAEL SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR TO BE UN ENVOY (New York) — President-elect Donald Trump has chosen South Carolina’s pro-Israel governor Nikki Haley as US ambassador to the UN. Last year, Haley brought in state-wide legislation that targets those supporting a boycott of Israel. Haley has also accused President Barack Obama of not sufficiently supporting Israel. An outspoken Trump critic throughout much of the presidential race, Haley will become the first female — and first nonwhite — cabinet-level official if confirmed by the Senate. She’s the daughter of Indian immigrants and is the second Asian-American to serve as a US governor. (Times of Israel, Nov. 23, 2016)
ISRAEL TO BUY AN ADDITIONAL 17 F-35 FIGHTER PLANES (Jerusalem) — Israel will purchase 17 more advanced F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin. This brings the total number of F-35’s to be acquired to 50. At approximately NIS 387 million ($100 million) per airplane, these additional 17 F-35 fighter jets will likely set Israel back at least NIS 6.6 billion ($1.7 billion), not including the costs of maintenance and support equipment. The F-35 — known in Israel as the Adir, meaning “awesome” or “mighty” in Hebrew — is a fifth generation stealth fighter jet equipped with an array of the latest technology that is expected to anchor the IAF for years to come. (Times of Israel, Nov. 27, 2016)
INDIA INKS DEAL FOR ACQUISITION OF ISRAELI RADAR SYSTEMS AND DRONES (Jerusalem) — India signed a $1.4 billion contract with Israel Aerospace Industries earlier this month for the acquisition of two airborne early warning and control radar systems and ten unmanned aerial vehicles. The deal was said to have been inked during Israeli President Rivlin’s recent visit to India. An Indian Air Force official said a pair of EL/W-2090 AEW&C systems — with a combined value of $1 billion — would be delivered to India within three years. Furthermore, the Indian military is set to receive ten armed Heron TP UAVs — worth a total of $400 million — within three years. Next year will mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between Israel and India. The two countries currently enjoy a burgeoning relationship, particularly in the defense field. (Algemeiner, Nov. 25, 2016)
FILLON WINS FRENCH PRIMARY (Paris) — François Fillon’s plan to remake France in the image of Margaret Thatcher moved a step closer to reality on Sunday, after the former French prime minister won a resounding victory in the Republican Party primary. Pollsters wrote him off a few weeks ago, saying his message of radical spending cuts, massive government layoffs, challenging unions and ending multiculturalism was too harsh. But Fillon defied the experts, finishing first among Republicans a week ago and taking Sunday’s runoff against establishment figure Alain Juppé with 67 per cent of the vote in a record turnout. Polls show he is now the overwhelming favourite to win the presidential election next spring, ending five years of rule by Socialist President François Hollande. (Globe & Mail, Nov. 27, 2016)
GERMAN COURT UPHOLDS FORMER AUSCHWITZ GUARD’S CONVICTION (Berlin) — A German federal court said that it has thrown out the appeal a 95-year-old former Auschwitz guard against his conviction for being an accessory to murder. The decision to uphold Oskar Groening’s conviction sets an important precedent for German prosecutors’ efforts to pursue further suspects who served at Nazi death camps. Groening was convicted in 2015 of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews and sentenced to four years in prison. Groening testified at his trial that he oversaw the collection of prisoners’ belongings and ensured valuables and cash were separated to be sent to Berlin. He said he witnessed individual atrocities, but did not acknowledge participating in any crimes. (New York Post, Nov. 28, 2016)
Russian Campaign in Syria Exposes Moscow’s Defense Gaps: Nathan Hodge & Julian E. Barnes, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 28, 2016 —A flotilla of Russian warships in the Mediterranean is providing a high-profile show of force in support of the Syrian regime. But the deployment has also thrown into sharp relief the limits of Moscow’s conventional military.
Germany Cracks Down on Salafists to Shield Refugees: Alison Smale, New York Times, Nov. 19, 2016 —For years, the authorities in Germany have warily monitored the swelling ranks of Salafists, followers of an ultraconservative branch of Islam who are known for aggressive proselytizing and their sympathies for the Islamic State.
The Ohio State Attack was Honed by Palestinians: Benny Avni, New York Post, Nov. 29, 2016 —Security experts looking at Monday’s car-ramming and stabbing attack at Ohio State University will find it looks familiar: Like many terrorist tactics, it was honed by Palestinians.
‘There He Goes Again’ — Jimmy Carter Blames Israel One More Time: Elliott Abrams, National Review, Nov. 29, 2016 —Jimmy Carter is 92 now, and it has been 36 years since his landslide defeat for reelection. But neither the passage of time nor the debilities of age slow him from making proposals that will do real harm to the State of Israel — and he has just tried one more time.