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

Month: January 2017

SYRIAN BALANCE OF POWER COULD POSE STRATEGIC THREAT TO ISRAEL

Should Israel Maintain Its Policy of Non-Intervention in Syria?: Prof. Hillel Frisch, BESA, Jan. 26, 2017— Groupthink in Israel should have been laid to rest after the Agranat Commission’s investigation into the massive intelligence failure preceding the Yom Kippur War.

Putin's Syria: Success Through Strength: Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom, Jan. 25, 2017— The peace talks that began last week in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, between the sides fighting in Syria have yet to produce a breakthrough that would end the bloody war being fought by our neighbors for almost six years now — and it is doubtful they ever will.

Palestinians of Syria: A Year of Killings and Torture: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 23, 2017— 2016 was a tough year for the Palestinians.

Obama’s View of Syria Threat Level Shaped Legacy of Caution: Carol E. Lee, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 19, 2017— President Barack Obama entered the Oval Office with a promise not to engage the U.S. in protracted and messy conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

On Topic Links

 

Sanctioning the Syrians: Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Dany Shoham, BESA, Jan. 23, 2017

Syria: The Bottom Line of Political Accommodation: Frederic C. Hof, Defense News, Jan. 19, 2017

New Challenges From Israel’s East and North: Eric R. Mandel, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 24, 2017

Why Did Russia Offer Autonomy for Syria’s Kurds?: Al-Monitor, Jan. 29, 2017 

 

 

SHOULD ISRAEL MAINTAIN ITS POLICY OF NON-INTERVENTION IN SYRIA?

Prof. Hillel Frisch

BESA, Jan. 26, 2017

 

Groupthink in Israel should have been laid to rest after the Agranat Commission’s investigation into the massive intelligence failure preceding the Yom Kippur War. The Commission not only censured Israel’s elite for its failure to discern the coming Egyptian and Syrian attack, due to a set of uncontested assumptions that proved totally false, but advocated the establishment of a variety of independent institutional sources of information to assure that such an event would not occur again.

 

That has proved easier said than done. Groupthink again seems to prevail over Israel’s position on Syria. All praise Israel’s current policy, which limits Israel’s involvement in the Syrian civil war to clearly defined red lines: to prevent the flow of weapons to Hezbollah that threaten the balance of power, and to prevent the establishment of a Hezbollah/Iranian Revolutionary Guard military presence in southern Syria bordering the Israeli Golan Heights. Israel has acted forcefully to maintain both of these red lines.

 

But the balance of power between Syria and its ally Iran against their opponents has changed significantly since the Russian intervention in September 2015. The defeat of the rebels in Aleppo restored complete regime control over that city, the country’s largest and arguably richest city before the civil war. The regime has also made gains in the southern outskirts of Damascus. The Iranian-Hezbollah alliance in Lebanon has succeeded in placing its candidate in the presidential palace. Above all, ethnic cleansing is taking place in southern Syria bordering Israel’s Golan Heights, and in areas east of Damascus bordering Lebanon (where the Syrians and Hezbollah are driving out Sunnis and replacing them with Shiites from Iraq and Lebanon[i]). These are sufficient developments to seriously question the sagacity of Israel’s “hands-off” approach to Syria.

 

Syria, backed by Iran and Hezbollah, is creating the physical underpinnings of an imperial, Iran-dominated, Shiite-Alawite crescent extending from Tehran to Beirut to Syria’s south. This is to the detriment of Israel’s long-term strategic interests, as well as to the interests of moderate Sunni states such as Jordan. Recall that these gains supplement Iran’s success in securing the nuclear deal. It is also worthy of note that Saad al-Hariri, the leader of Lebanon’s largest, mostly Sunni party and the fiercest opponent of Hezbollah and its allies in the political arena (an international court ruled that this alliance assassinated Saad’s father, Rafik, the prime minister of Lebanon, in 2004), felt compelled to support the Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah-backed candidate. This demonstrates how Hariri, Israel’s silent partner, perceives the changing balance of power. He did it only out of fear.

 

Just as Hariri perceives the threat, so should Israel. Yet Israel’s security establishment, major politicians, journalists, and commentators are failing to take note of the strategic threat these developments collectively pose to Israel and the need to debate the existing strategy. The threat has far-reaching geo-strategic implications that transcend by far the “technical” perception of the Syrian civil war that pervades the Israeli establishment’s groupthink.

 

The question is, what should Israel’s strategy be towards Syria? The most important issue is to initiate a serious debate over Israeli objectives, which of course will have to take into consideration relations with Russia, a possible understanding between Presidents Trump and Putin over Syria, and even Turkish interests in the country. Still, the following objectives might be included:

 

Israel could publicly declare that the political future of Syria impinges on Israel’s security and therefore justifies a more proactive posture to assure an outcome favorable to Israeli interests. The major Israeli interest is to see a democratic regime in Syria. This means the removal of Assad and his supporters, who cannot possibly allow democracy to emerge in Syria. Announcing this objective must naturally take into account its possible repercussions in terms of Israeli-Russian relations. Israel could declare the position that if a democratic regime proves impossible, the Sunnis, after fifty years of oppression, deserve a state of their own in most of Syria. Israel should publicly state that it will cooperate with the Syrian opposition and the moderate Sunni Arab states to achieve either the second or third objective and will support the moderate rebel groups to thwart Assad’s ethnic cleansing.

 

It is important to note that Hariri acted as he did in part because the Sunnis in Syria and supporters of democracy from other sects, including the Alawites, are not getting nearly the backing the Assad regime is getting from its allies. Israel, a much more powerful state than it was in the past, should play a role in redressing this imbalance.

 

Israel cannot possibly be a king-maker after the US failure in Iraq or its own failure in Lebanon in 1982 to create a Maronite-dominated Lebanon. But that does not mean the Jewish State cannot work with Syrian forces towards creating a geo-strategic scenario in its favor in Syria. Just as doing too much can be costly, so can passivity prove dangerous. It is not in Israel’s interest to allow its major enemies to carve out the Syria they want. At the very least, a debate should take place over Israel’s present policies on Syria.

 

 

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PUTIN'S SYRIA: SUCCESS THROUGH STRENGTH                                                                        

Prof. Eyal Zisser

Israel Hayom, Jan. 25, 2017

                       

The peace talks that began last week in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, between the sides fighting in Syria have yet to produce a breakthrough that would end the bloody war being fought by our neighbors for almost six years now — and it is doubtful they ever will. Despite this, the talks are an important step in the right direction, and were inconceivable a few months ago. They are a meaningful diplomatic accomplishment, thanks entirely to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the most powerful man in the Middle East today.

 

Putin's accomplishments demonstrate just how hollow and void of meaning the slogans and cliches are that have been repeated by many in Israel and around the world on the need to find a "fair mediator," one that will act to achieve a "just peace" as a condition necessary to achieving regional peace between Israel and its neighbors, first and foremost between Israel and the Palestinians. After all, the peace Putin is pushing in Syria is not a "just peace," but rather a peace of the powerful, completely based on force and interests. Apart from that, Putin is far from being a "fair mediator." He is a mediator with interests who took a clear stance on one side of the conflict, President Bashar Assad's side, and even joined the fight with him.

 

Regardless, Putin succeeded where the hypocritical international community failed. They preached, but did nothing for the civilian population or to advance the values of justice and morality. Indeed, the war in Syria would have continued in full force if things were up to Washington alone, to New York (where the U.N. General Assembly meets), or to Brussels (where the EU sits).

 

What is surprising is how over the past year Putin hit the Syrian rebel faction with all his might, killing thousands of their people and supporters. He flattened villages and towns mercilessly and sowed destruction and ruin that caused tens, maybe hundreds of thousands, of civilians to flee, whether they supported the rebels or were just caught in areas of conflict. And now the rebels are crawling on their bellies to kiss Putin's striking hand, or perhaps the soles of his shoes.

 

What is even more surprising is that the military presence Washington maintains across the Middle East — soldiers, planes and warships — is 10 times as big as the Russian military presence in Syria. The Russians only had to send several dozen planes and a small fleet of ships, and America's standing in the Middle East reached an unprecedented slump. Everyone ignores them, as U.S. President Donald Trump saw fit to bring to light. Putin, on the other hand, is respected and held in awe in the Middle East.

 

By the way, the other side of the coin is that Putin, unwavering in his method and interests, does not ascribe much importance to Assad, even though Putin sent Russian planes and soldiers to Syria to protect him. Assad was not even invited to talks in Moscow last month, where Russia agreed along with Turkey and Iran on a road map to end the fighting in Syria. Even in his partnerships with Iran and Turkey, Putin acts on the principle of divide and conquer, taking advantage of the animosity and competition between the two for his own interests and to raise the standing of Russia.

 

The lessons of Putin's successes — the military and of late also the diplomatic — are worthy of being learned and incorporated also in Israel. The key to success in our region is not eloquence, sweet talking, flattery or trying to appease the listener, but standing up for our interests resolutely and showing strength. Whoever wishes to advance Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and maybe even achieve a breakthrough, should pay attention to these things. If U.S. President Donald Trump wants to push for a treaty between Israel and the Palestinians, he would do well to ignore those who call on him to distance himself from Israel and renege on his campaign promise of moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem. This is not the way to win the hearts of the Arabs, and not the way to promote peace and stability in our region.

 

Contents

 

 

PALESTINIANS OF SYRIA: A YEAR OF KILLINGS AND TORTURE

Khaled Abu Toameh

Gatestone Institute, Jan. 23, 2017

 

2016 was a tough year for the Palestinians. It was tough not only for those Palestinians living in the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority (PA) regime, or the Gaza Strip under Hamas. When Westerners hear about the "plight" and "suffering" of Palestinians, they instantly assume that the talk is about those living in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Rarely does the international community hear about what is happening to Palestinians in the Arab countries. This lapse doubtless exists because the misery of Palestinians in the Arab countries is difficult to pin on Israel.

 

The international community and mainstream journalists only know of those Palestinians living in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. Of course, life under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas is no box of dates, although this inconvenient fact might be rather unpleasant to the ears of Western journalists and human rights organizations. In any event, mainstream media outlets seem to prefer turning a blind eye to the plight of Palestinians living in Arab countries. This evasion harms first and foremost the Palestinians themselves and allows Arab governments to continue their policies of persecution and repression.

 

The past few years have seen horror stories about the conditions of Palestinians in Syria. Where is the media attention for the Palestinians in this war-stricken country? Palestinians in Syria are being murdered, tortured, imprisoned and displaced. The West yawns.

 

Foreign journalists covering the Middle East swarm by the hundreds throughout Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Yet they act as if Palestinians can only be found in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These journalists have no desire to go to Syria or other Arab countries to report about the mistreatment and trespasses perpetrated by Arabs against their Palestinian brothers. For these journalists, Arabs killing and torturing other Arabs is not news. But when Israeli policemen shoot and kill a Palestinian terrorist who rams his truck into a group of soldiers and kills and wounds them, Western reporters rush to visit his family's home to interview them and provide them with a platform to express their thoughts.

 

Palestinians living in Syria, however, are less fortunate. No one is asking how they feel about the devastation of their families, communities and lives. Especially not the hundreds of Middle East correspondents working in the region. "The year 2016 was full of all forms of killings, torture and displacement of Palestinians in Syria," according to recent reports published in a number of Arab media outlets. "The last year was hell for these Palestinians and its harsh consequences will not be erased for many years to come. During 2016, Palestinians in Syria were subjected to the cruelest forms of torture and deprivation at the hands armed gangs and the ruling Syrian regime. It is hard to find one Palestinian family in Syria that has not been affected."

 

According to the reports, Syrian authorities are withholding the bodies of more than 456 Palestinians who died under torture in prison. No one knows exactly where the bodies are being held or why the Syrian authorities are refusing to hand them over to the relatives. Even more disturbing are reports suggesting that Syrian authorities have been harvesting the organs of dead Palestinians. Testimonies collected by some Palestinians point to a Syrian government-linked gang that has been trading in the organs of the victims, who include women and children. Another 1,100 Palestinians have been languishing in Syrian prisons since the beginning of the war, more than five years ago. The Syrian authorities do not provide any statistics about the number of prisoners and detainees; nor do they allow human rights groups or the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit prisons and detention centers.

 

The most recent report about the plight of Palestinians in Syria states that 3,420 Palestinians (455 of them females) have been killed since the beginning of the war. The report, published by the Action Group For Palestinians of Syria, also reveals that nearly 80,000 Palestinians have fled to Europe, while 31,000 fled to Lebanon, 17,000 to Jordan, 6,000 to Egypt, 8,000 to Turkey and 1,000 to the Gaza Strip. The report also mentions that 190 Palestinians died as a result of malnutrition and lack of medical care because their refugee camps and villages are under siege by the Syrian army and armed groups.

 

Alarmed by the indifference of the international community to their plight, Palestinians in Syria have resorted to social media to be heard in the hope that decision-makers in the West or the UN Security Council, obsessed as they are with Israeli settlements, might pay attention to their suffering. The latest campaign on social media, entitled, "Where are the detainees?" refers to the unknown fate of those Palestinians who have gone missing after being taken into custody by Syrian authorities. The organizers of the campaign revealed that in the past few years, 54 Palestinian minors have died under torture in Syrian prisons. The organizers noted that hundreds of prisoners and detainees, after they were apprehended by the Syrian authorities, remain unaccounted for…

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

 

                                                           

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OBAMA’S VIEW OF SYRIA THREAT LEVEL SHAPED LEGACY OF CAUTION

Carol E. Lee

Wall Street Journal, Jan. 19, 2017

 

President Barack Obama entered the Oval Office with a promise not to engage the U.S. in protracted and messy conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan. As he leaves, his adherence to that promise is muddying his foreign-policy legacy because of how he handled another Mideast crisis: Syria. For almost six of Mr. Obama’s eight years in the White House, the conflict in Syria has repeatedly evolved—and the president’s cautious decision-making has appeared one step behind.

 

Mr. Obama has emphasized the use of diplomacy first, coalition building and assisting local forces on the ground rather than deploying large numbers of U.S. troops. He aimed to avoid putting American troops in harm’s way in potentially open-ended conflicts when he didn’t see a direct threat to U.S. national security. That was his early assessment of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011, and he has maintained it through his last day in office on Friday.

 

That view—that the conflict wasn’t a direct threat to U.S. national-security interests—led the Obama administration to a series of delays or rejections of policy prescriptions and led the president to repeatedly conclude that military intervention would put America on a trajectory toward another full-scale war in the Middle East. That view was also the impetus for Mr. Obama’s rejection of a recommendation early in the war from top national security advisers to train and arm rebels fighting the Assad regime. It dissuaded him from creating a no-fly zone in Syria as some of his advisers and U.S. allies repeatedly urged him to do. And it helped inform his decisions to seek congressional approval for military strikes in Syria after Mr. Assad crossed the U.S. president’s self-imposed “red line” by using chemical weapons, and—before Congress voted—to pull back from using force and agree to a Russian plan to remove most of the Syrian regime’s stockpile.

 

As Mr. Obama hands over a metastasized crisis to his successor, the question looms of whether Syria could have turned out differently. “There are a lot of people that bear responsibility for what happened, and I think the United States included,” said Leon Panetta, who served as Mr. Obama’s defense secretary and director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and was one of the advisers pressing the president to arm the rebels early in the conflict. He pointed to whether Mr. Obama should have authorized a no-fly zone, aided opposition forces earlier in the conflict and enforced his red line with force in 2013. “That’s the lesson of these last three years: that ultimately the consequences of not taking action are going to represent a threat to our national security,” Mr. Panetta said.

 

Mr. Obama acknowledges that his Syria policy hasn’t been effective in resolving the conflict. But he also argues it has kept the U.S. out of another protracted conflict in the Middle East that would put tens of thousands of U.S. troops at risk and cost potentially billions more dollars. “Whenever we went through it, the challenge was that…it was going to be impossible to do this on the cheap,” the president said at a news conference last month. As Mr. Obama adhered to his approach, Syria evolved from an internal civil war in 2011 to a breeding ground for the Islamic State terrorist group, the source of the largest migrant crisis since World War II and a shift in regional power structures with the increased military role of Russia.

 

As pressure from Republicans in Congress, U.S. allies in the Middle East and the Washington foreign-policy establishment mounted on Mr. Obama to take stronger military action, aides say the president would sum up his doctrine during meetings in four words: “Don’t do stupid shit.” Some see in his approach a steadfastness to support a principle. “It says a lot about his view that he never buckled to the pressure just to ‘do something,’ ” said Philip Gordon, who served as the president’s adviser on Middle East and North Africa in his second term. “That took a real amount of discipline on his part.”…

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

 

Contents       

    

On Topic Links

 

Sanctioning the Syrians: Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Dany Shoham, BESA, Jan. 23, 2017—On January 12, eight days before the end of the Obama administration, a last-minute, “too late too little” move was taken in the form of sanctions against 18 Syrian individuals and one organization involved in the military use of chlorine against Syrian civilians in 2014-15. (Notably, more chlorine attacks were carried out by the Bashar Assad regime in 2016.)

Syria: The Bottom Line of Political Accommodation: Frederic C. Hof, Defense News, Jan. 19, 2017—Syria’s political fate comes down to a man, his extended family and his political entourage. When President Bashar Assad decided in March 2011 on a violently brutal response to peaceful protest, he separated himself from the interests of his citizenry. When he embarked on a survival strategy featuring mass homicide, he facilitated the rise of the Islamic State group as a political foil and created a humanitarian abomination that made Syria’s problems the problems of all its neighbors and western Europe.

New Challenges From Israel’s East and North: Eric R. Mandel, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 24, 2017—With the emergence of Iranian hegemony from Afghanistan to Beirut, Israel’s security and intelligence establishment is watching not only threats from Gaza and Lebanon, but also other areas of potential instability, including locations that have been quiet for years; the Golan Heights and Jordan.

Why Did Russia Offer Autonomy for Syria’s Kurds?: Al-Monitor, Jan. 29, 2017—UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura praised the Russian-brokered Syria talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, which ended Jan. 24, as a “concrete step” toward implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions dealing with Syria, commending Russia, Turkey and Iran for setting up a mechanism to ensure compliance with the cease-fire announced last month.

 

 

 

 

 

ISRAEL CREATED A “VIBRANT, SUCCESSFUL STATE” AMID AN UPSIDE DOWN WORLD & CHAOTIC M.E.

The World Turned Upside Down: Victor Davis Hanson, Real Clear Politics, Jan. 26, 2017— Legend has it that the British played "The World Turned Upside Down" after their unforeseen and disastrous defeat at the Battle of Yorktown.

President Trump vs. the Department of State: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, Jan. 24, 2017— In order to avoid the failed Middle East track record of all US Presidents, since 1948, President Trump should refrain from – rather than repeat – the systematic errors committed by his predecessors.

The Myth of America's Invincible Military: Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, The Hill, Jan. 11, 2017— Today, with the long benefit of hindsight, France's stunning collapse in the face of Nazi invasion looks almost unsurprising.

Israel, Globalism and Nationalism: Douglas Altabef, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 25, 2017— Volumes have been filled on trying to understand the position of Israel in the world today, particularly its cold friendship with the Obama-led United States and its varying degrees of hostility with the European Union.

 

On Topic Links

 

Not A Muslim Ban: Lee Smith, Weekly Standard, Jan. 29, 2017

The New Arab–Israeli Alliance: Michael J. Totten, World Affairs, 2017

North Korea and the Middle East: Dr. Alon Levkowitz, BESA, Jan. 10, 2017

Facing Future Wars: Ancient Lessons on Strategy for President Trump: Louis Rene Beres, Breaking Israel News, Jan. 26, 2017

 

 

THE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN

Victor Davis Hanson

Real Clear Politics, Jan. 26, 2017

 

Legend has it that the British played "The World Turned Upside Down" after their unforeseen and disastrous defeat at the Battle of Yorktown. Such topsy-turvy upheaval characterizes the start of Donald Trump's presidency. Everything is in flux in a way not seen since the election of 1932, in which Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Herbert Hoover. Mainstream Democrats are infuriated. Even Republicans are vexed over the outsider Trump.

 

Polls, political pundits and "wise" people, guilty of past partisan-driven false prognostications, remain discredited. Their new creased-brow prophesies of doom for President Trump are about as credible as their past insistence that a "blue wall" would keep him out of the White House.

 

The media collusion with the Clinton campaign was endemic in the WikiLeaks email trove. The complicity blew up any lingering notion that establishment journalists are disinterested and principled, as they now turn from eight years of obsequiousness to frenzied hostility toward the White House. In the media's now radically amended progressive dictionary, Senate filibusters are no longer subversive, but quite vital.

 

Executive orders are no longer inspired, but dangerous. Bypassing Congress on treaties and overseas interventions, or refusal to enforce existing laws, is no longer presidential leadership. If Trump follows Obama's example of presidential fiats, he will be recalibrated as seditious. Protests against a sitting president are no longer near treasonous, but patriotic. Media collusion with the president is no longer natural, but unprofessional and dishonest. Cruel invective against the president and his family is no longer racist, but inspired.

 

The successful Obama electoral matrix of ginning up political support through identity politics may have been an atypical event, not a wave of the future. His two victories were certainly non-transferrable to most other liberal but non-minority candidates. Obama's legacy is the near-destruction of the Democrats as a national party, leaving them in a virtual civil war while most of his own initiatives will be rendered null and void — and perhaps soon forgotten.

 

Where do Democrats go now? Do they double down by going further leftward with Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren? Or do they reluctantly pivot to win back the clingers, deplorables and irredeemables whose defections cost them the big Rust Belt states? On Nov. 7, "experts" were forecasting a Republican civil war: a disgraced presidential candidate, a lost Senate and a liberal Supreme Court for the next 30 years. Two days and an election later, the world flipped. Republicans — with majorities in both houses of Congress, overwhelming majorities in the state legislatures and with governorships, and a likely slew of Supreme Court vacancies — haven't been in a better position since the 1920s.

 

Just as importantly, former Sen. Harry Reid and President Emeritus Barack Obama weaponized Trump by respectively eroding the Senate filibuster and green-lighting presidential fiats by "pen-and-phone" executive orders. For his Cabinet picks, Trump ignored Washington-establishment grandees, think-tank Ph.D.s, and academics in general. He owes no allegiance to the Republican pundits who despised him or to the big-name donors who chose not to invest in what they saw as a losing candidacy.

 

His style is not Washingtonian, but is born out of the dog-eat-dog world of Manhattan real estate. Trump's blustering way of doing business is as brutal as it is nontraditional: Do not initiate attacks, but hit back twice as hard — and low — once targeted. Go off topic and embrace obstreperousness to unsettle an opponent. And initially demand triple of what is eventually acceptable to settle a deal. Trump's inaugural address was short, tough and nationalistic, reflecting his don't-tread-on-me pledges to his supporters to fight both Washington and the world abroad to restore the primacy of the middle classes…

 

The world has been flipped upside down abroad as well. Weeks ago, analysts were offering Dr. Strangelove doomsday warnings of a no-fly zone in Syria imposed by a likely President Hilary Clinton on another nuclear power's air force. But now, Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is talking about joining American planes to destroy ISIS. Who is friend, foe or neutral? Could Trump coax Putin away from his Iranian and Syrian support, or will Trump appease his newfound friend's aggressions? No one quite knows.

 

An American president now talks to Taiwan, doubles down on support for Israel, questions the reason to remain loyal to both the United Nations and European Union, and forces changes in NATO. Not just policy, but the way policy is made, remains uncertain. Up is down; down up. The future is blank.

 

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PRESIDENT TRUMP VS. THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE                                                              

Yoram Ettinger

                                                 

Jewish Press, Jan. 24, 2017

                       

In order to avoid the failed Middle East track record of all US Presidents, since 1948, President Trump should refrain from – rather than repeat – the systematic errors committed by his predecessors.

 

They were misguided by the political correctness and conventional “wisdom” of the US State Department, which courted Saddam Hussein until the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, embraced Ayatollah Khomeini, betrayed the Shah of Iran, identified with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, deserted Mubarak, heralded Arafat as a messenger of peace, facilitated the Hamas takeover of Gaza, and welcomed the Arab Tsunami as “Arab Spring, a transition toward democracy.” The State Department has sacrificed the 1,400-year-old complex, disintegrating, unpredictable, volcanic, violently-intolerant and frenzied Middle East reality on the altar of well-intentioned, but oversimplified and futile attempts to reset the Middle East in accordance with a Western state-of-mind and values.

 

Largely ignored by the State Department, the conflict-stricken Arab Middle East has adopted the norm that “on words one does not pay custom,” especially when aimed to mislead, confuse and defeat the “infidel” Christian, Buddhist and Jew.  Thus, Western establishments attribute much credibility to the philo-Palestinian Arab talk, while failing to examine the Arab/Palestinian walk.

 

Contrary to the State Department worldview, Arab policy-makers have never considered the Palestinian issue a top priority, nor a core-cause of regional turbulence, nor the axis of the Arab-Israeli conflict.  All Arab leaders have been preoccupied with domestic, regional, intra-Arab and intra-Muslim lethal challenges – such as the threats posed by the megalomaniacal Ayatollahs and Islamic terrorism – which are unrelated to Israel’s existence and the Israel-Palestinian dispute.

 

Unlike the State Department, Arab leaders have accorded critical weight to the subversive/terrorist Palestinian walk (track record) in Egypt (1950s), Syria (1966), Jordan (1968-1970, Lebanon (1970-1983) and Kuwait (1990).  Therefore, they have always showered the Palestinian issue with lavish talk, but never with financial or military walk; certainly not during the Israel-Palestinian wars in Lebanon (1978, 1982-83), Judea, Samaria (1988-1990, 2000-2002) and Gaza (2009, 2012, 2014).

 

Unlike the State Department, Arab leaders do not consider the Arab-Israeli conflict “the Middle East conflict.” They are aware that the raging Arab Tsunami – which triggered violent regime change in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq and Syria – is totally independent of the Arab-Israeli conflict and Israel’s existence. The boiling Arab Tsunami has pro-US Arab leaders to an unprecedented counter-terrorism cooperation with Israel, which they perceive as a regional stabilizing force, contrasted with the unreliable Palestinians.

 

While Foggy Bottom believes that an Israeli retreat to the pre-1967 ceasefire lines would produce an Israel-Arab peace, Arabs have been unable to produce intra-Arab peace during the last 1,400 years. Is it realistic to assume that a dramatic Israeli concession would induce the Arabs to accord the “infidel” Jewish state that which they have denied each other – intra-Arab peaceful coexistence?! Is it reasonable to assume that an unprecedented Israeli concession would convince the Arabs to depart from a major tenant of Islam (Waqf), and recognize an “infidel” entity in the Middle East, which is designated by Islam to be divinely and exclusively-ordained to the “believers”?!

 

In contrast to State Department policy, the reconstruction of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria (since 1967) has never been the cause of the anti-Jewish terrorism (since the 1920s) and the Arab-Israeli wars (since 1948).  Middle East reality documents that the real cause of these wars has been the existence – not the size – of the Jewish state in an area which is, supposedly, part of “the abode of Islam.”

 

Ignoring Middle East reality, and insisting on US – and sometimes international – mediation, the State Department has generated a litany of Israel-Arab peace initiatives.  All the initiatives failed, while further radicalizing Arab expectations and demands, reducing Arab incentive to negotiate directly with Israel, intensifying US-Israel and US-Arab tension, undermining US clout and the prospects of peace.  On the other hand, two Israeli initiatives of direct negotiation produced two peace accords with Egypt (which was initially opposed by President Carter) and Jordan (which was encouraged by President Clinton).

 

US involvement is critical during advanced – not early – stages of direct Israel-Arab negotiation. Contrasting the Palestinian-driven State Department order of priorities in the Middle East, US national security, mutually-beneficial US-Israel cooperation and US-Arab relations dramatically transcend the limited role of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue in shaping/shaking the region…

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

 

[Yoram Ettinger will be one of the keynote-speakers at CIJR’s 29th Anniversary Gala, “Israel’s Contributions, Biblical & Modern, to Western Civilization.” Sunday, March 26, 2017, at Beth Zion Congregation (Montreal). For more information click the following link—ed.]

 

Contents

 

THE MYTH OF AMERICA'S INVINCIBLE MILITARY

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

The Hill, Jan. 11, 2017

 

Today, with the long benefit of hindsight, France's stunning collapse in the face of Nazi invasion looks almost unsurprising. But at the time, it stunned the world. France was one of the preeminent superpowers of the day. It had one of the world's biggest land armies, navies, and second-biggest colonial empire in the world. Moreover, as France had led the Allies in World War I, a war that was orders of magnitude more terrible than anything anyone had ever known, it had a reputation for military invincibility. When in 1923 Germany delayed paying back war reparations, France invaded, occupied, and easily steamrolled the Weimar Republic's puny military.

 

And this reputation for military invincibility was one of the things that held the world order together. There are countless causes for why the world backslid into World War II, but an underrated one was the sense that if Hitler really got out of hand, the French and the British together would crush him.

 

Today, global peace rests on many things, but one of them is the assumption that the United States military is invincible. We justly fill our headlines with reports of casualties in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, but what is striking in our current era is just how little conflict there is. And one reason for that is that no contemporary military can hope to match the United States', so countries that might want to mess with the U.S. or its allies either don't, or do so through comparatively much less destructive and unconventional means, like hacking.

 

But just like France's invincibility on the eve of World War II, America's military invincibility may just be waiting to be toppled by anyone clever and gutsy enough to give the right shove. Here are three very worrying ways in which America's conventional war machine is being outclassed.

 

1. Supercarriers: He who rules the seas rules the world. It was true in the time of the Greeks, and it's true today. And on paper, America's dominance looks total. The United States has 10 aircraft carriers. Russia can barely field just one. China only just recently got one, a retrofitted old Soviet clunker. And in some way, this undersells America's advantage: America produces supercarriers which are on the order of twice as large as anything else on the sea, and nuclear-powered, which means they can stay at sea much longer (the only other country with a nuclear carrier is France). Carriers are the dominant means of "force projection" (translation: going out and kicking someone's ass), and have been since World War II, when they and their planes proved much more destructive than the old battleships.

 

But here's the thing: Just like France's outdated tactics were obsoleted by German Blitzkrieg, carrier strike groups, a technology and formation from the mid-20th century, are probably obsolete. As an excellent article by David W. Wise convincingly argues, aircraft carriers are probably extremely vulnerable to a number of new technologies, from asymmetric warfare to super-quiet submarines to advanced ballistic missiles. In military exercises, U.S. aircraft carriers keep getting sunk. Up until very recently, America's overwhelming carrier advantage meant that any attempt, say, by China to invade Taiwan, looked like folly. Now it practically looks like an invitation: With its anti-ship ballistic missiles, China could sink half the U.S. Navy before it even got within range of the island.

 

It increasingly looks like the Navy of the future will mostly consist of drone- and missile-launching submarines (manned and unmanned), which hold a number of decisive advantages over carriers. But these are areas in which the Navy, despite some interesting experiments, is under-investing — partly because its budget is being eaten up by a frenzy to build and maintain ever-more expensive supercarriers.

 

2. Stealth fighters: Like naval power, air power is absolutely crucial in war. He who controls the skies controls the fight. Observers and historians often joke that Israel's Six-Day War should really be called the One-Day War; Israel was able to crush vastly superior enemies on two fronts at once because it destroyed their air forces in a masterful preemptive strike, making the rest of the war a formality. Every single conventional military victory by the United States since the end of the Cold War has been premised on, and enabled by, total dominance of the skies. So making sure that, in any conventional war, the United States can establish and maintain air dominance is front and center for all the strategic planners at the Pentagon.

 

Thankfully, they have a silver bullet: stealth! All of the United States' fighter jets will be stealthy. And when you can't even show up on the enemies' radar screens and you can shoot at them with impunity, you're going to crush them very quickly, right? Billions and billions (and billions) were poured into projects such as the F-35 and F-22 (and crucial design tradeoffs were made) so that those planes could have "stealth technology."…

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

                                                           

Contents

 

                       ISRAEL, GLOBALISM AND NATIONALISM

Douglas Altabef

                                                            Jerusalem Post, Jan. 25, 2017

 

Volumes have been filled on trying to understand the position of Israel in the world today, particularly its cold friendship with the Obama-led United States and its varying degrees of hostility with the European Union. There have been explanations touching upon particular Israeli policies and personalities, and of course the combination of the two. Settlement construction, opposing the Iran deal, insufficient concessions to the Palestinians, brazen attempts to court public and legislative support, the list goes on, and the bill of particulars is long.

 

But what the Brexit vote in England, the stirrings of similar feelings in several continental European countries, and above all, the recent dramatic upset election of Donald Trump in the US all underscore is the reality that the quandary that Israel has been in is largely not one of its own creation. Rather, there is an existential or definitional problem. Israel is rooted in the ideology of Zionism, the movement for Jewish sovereign national self-determination. Zionism is a nationalist movement, pure and simple. It is all about carving out the one place in the world that Jews can live in the condition of sovereignty, enjoying the untrammeled freedom to chart their own course in a Jewish state.

 

Zionism has been a uniquely successful national movement, producing a vibrant, successful state that has extended to a great extent its benefits and freedoms to its non-Jewish citizens. Perhaps it is that very success that has been its problem. The State of Israel was born just as Europe was emerging from the 30-year-long disaster of two world wars (historians are likely to see this as one conflagration with a tenuous interregnum), a major lesson of which was the destructive nature of nationalism. As a new state beset by mortal enemies, Israel’s nationhood was more than just an idea. It was a tenuous, vulnerable physical reality requiring vigilance and determination, with a strong emphasis on security. These needs, together with the Zionist vision, as well as the lessons of the Holocaust, made Israel a highly self-aware nationalistic society, where the concept of the Jewish self determination of Zionism was seamlessly meshed into the newly sovereign reality of the State of Israel.

 

It is important to remember that the nationalism of Israel in no way represents the nationalism that pummeled Europe, and to which it developed a post-war loathing. Israel has no designs on other countries and doesn’t measure itself by their successes or failures. Israel’s nationalism is the impetus to provide the full blossoming of the immense potential of the Jewish People and of the great gifts of Judaism and Jewish tradition. Ironically, it is through the particularity of Jewish nationalism that Israel has sought to be a Light unto the Nations, providing aid and solace to other countries in need, and standing with outstretched hand to all those who would reciprocate.

 

Unfortunately, globalists are not so discerning in their assessment of the different flavors of nationalism, and Israel’s rankles considerably. Compounding this ill perception is the fact that such nationalism is seen to be the vehicle for continuing “occupation” of the Palestinians, and the impediment to a peace agreement with them. Quite simply, historic, religious and spiritual connections to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria or anywhere else do not engender a great deal of sympathy. Quite the opposite; they are seen to be outdated, anachronistic and counterproductive remnants of an ancient, and therefore no longer relevant reality.

 

Ironically, it is the global nature of Israel’s economy that has protected its nationalistic orientation. As an immensely innovative purveyor of cutting-edge technology, Israel continues to attract and grow its trade relations. Its state-of-the-art products in so many areas virtually assure continued – indeed, growing – trade relationships, despite political qualms about Israel’s againstthe- grain focus on maintaining its Zionist vision. Having endured the growing anger of both the EU and the Obama administration, Israel might now see a significant wind shift for the better. The Brexit vote exposed the deep reservations over the creeping, non-accountable globalism of the EU. Any number of continental nations, especially in eastern Europe, are seeing similar sentiments rise to unprecedented levels.

 

More significantly, the election of Trump in the US has been a nationalist gauntlet thrown onto the ground of assumed ever-greater globalism. One reason I suspect Trump likes Israel so much is that he respects its desire to maintain and protect its sovereignty. Trump values patriotism, and he sees in Israel and Israelis a tenacious willingness to embrace and honor the nationstate. The rift between globalism and nationalism is the reigning schism in the Western world, replacing the Cold War’s ideological confrontation of capitalism and communism. This is a rift being fought on the margins, as it were, since no country is without global ties or national impulses. The momentum in that confrontation is now favoring nationalism, and that is likely to benefit Israel. Not that Israel is looking to pick a fight on this score. It has an export driven economy and a strong desire to forge better international relations…

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

 

Contents    

       

On Topic Links

 

Not A Muslim Ban: Lee Smith, Weekly Standard, Jan. 29, 2017—The White House seems to be backing away from aspects of President Trump's executive order on immigration. Chief of staff Reince Priebus explained Sunday morning that green card holders from the seven countries specified in the order—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen—would not be prevented from returning to the United States.

The New Arab–Israeli Alliance: Michael J. Totten, World Affairs, 2017—During the early years of the Obama administration, conventional wisdom in Washington held that the Israeli–Palestinian conflict trumped everything else in the Middle East, that no problem could be resolved until that one was out of the way. “Without doubt,” former president Jimmy Carter said, “the path to peace in the Middle East goes through Jerusalem.” The reason, said his former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, now a professor of foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University, is because, “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the single most combustible and galvanizing issue in the Arab world”.

North Korea and the Middle East: Dr. Alon Levkowitz, BESA, Jan. 10, 2017—Kim Jung-un's new year declaration that North Korea will test its new ICBM this year (2017) poses a further challenge to the incoming Trump administration. It is truly a “rogue state” – a country that conducts nuclear tests in defiance of the UN Security Council, and that is willing to sell conventional and non-conventional weapons to other rogue regimes, including Israel's enemies. The nuclear cooperation between North Korea, Syria and Iran forces Israel into new alliances to counter this threat.

Facing Future Wars: Ancient Lessons on Strategy for President Trump: Louis Rene Beres, Breaking Israel News, Jan. 26, 2017—“For by wise counsel, thou shalt make thy war.” (Proverbs) President Trump comes into office with a clear determination to “win” all ongoing and future American wars. Nothing unusual about this. After all, such determination seems plainly ordinary, traditional, even indisputable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY: “JEWS WERE MURDERED AT AUSCHWITZ, BUT ANTISEMITISM DID NOT DIE THERE”

Have We Learned the Lessons — and Causes — of the Holocaust?: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Algemeiner, Jan. 23, 2017— This coming Friday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Persistence of Anti-Semitism Shows World Has Yet to Learn Lessons of the Holocaust: Mario Silva, National Post, Jan. 26, 2017— This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

Justice for Those Who Have Endured: Yechiel Eckstein, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 26, 2017— This January 27, nations around the world mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating the most horrific evil ever perpetrated upon humanity – the near destruction of European Jewry.

Three Reasons Why a Double Standard is Imposed on Israel: Philip Carl Salzman, CIJR, Jan. 25, 2017— While nationalism of the Americans, French, and Chinese is admired or at least accepted, Jewish nationalism (Zionism) is regarded as racism by pro-Arab activists and journalists.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

The 400-year-old Foundation of the Unique US-Israel Ties: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, Jan. 25, 2017

Remembering the Holocaust, Forgetting the Survivors: Yechiel Eckstein, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 25, 2017

Story of Japan’s 'Schindler' Offers Lessons for Tackling Contemporary Xenophobia: UNNewsCentre, Jan. 26, 2017

Raoul Wallenberg, Hero of Humanity: Irwin Cotler, Times of Israel, Jan. 21, 2017

 

 

 

HAVE WE LEARNED THE LESSONS — AND CAUSES —

OF THE HOLOCAUST?

Manfred Gerstenfeld

Algemeiner, Jan. 23, 2017

 

This coming Friday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is often assumed that the Holocaust was caused by a long-lasting antisemitic infrastructure in Germany and on the European continent. According to this theory, many centuries of demonization of the Jews created an atmosphere that made it possible for the Nazis to commit genocide against the Jews.

 

Over the course of centuries, Christianity systematically demonized the Jews. This demonization began in Roman Catholic theology. A major role was played by Voltaire and other French enlightenment philosophers. They were followed by German idealists and other philosophers, as well as 19th century French socialists and Karl Marx. Many others joined this movement of hate in the late 19th and early 20th century. Even after the Holocaust, Europe’s main philosopher was the German antisemite and former Nazi, Martin Heidegger.

 

But these explanations of the Holocaust may not be so simple. In 2015, Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby remarked that antisemitism is a complex and difficult subject, adding that it is still deeply embedded “in our history and culture in Western Europe.” British-Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, who recently passed away, claimed that there is a far more opaque infrastructure for the Holocaust than mentioned before. In his book, Modernity and the Holocaust, he links the great genocide to structural elements of modern society. He states that the Holocaust was a product of men educated in the most refined culture of Western society, and  thus a product of Western civilization. In Bauman’s view, the conditions for a similar event to occur are still in place.

 

As an aside, Bauman’s insights did not prevent him from making contemporary Holocaust-distorting observations. In an interview with the Polish weekly Politika, he compared the Israeli separation fence to the walls surrounding the Warsaw Ghetto.

 

The question as to whether a second Holocaust is possible was the subject of a debate in 2002. American columnist Ron Rosenbaum claimed that it was likely that, sooner or later, a nuclear weapon would be detonated by Arab fundamentalists in Tel Aviv. This led to a reaction by Leon Wieseltier, who said that the Jews had found both safety and strength after the war, and that a second Holocaust would not occur. Rosenbaum countered by claiming that Wieseltier was fleeing into denial, as there were many Hitler-like figures who were demonizing Jews in the Arab world. Furthermore, in recent decades, we have seen genocides elsewhere, the best known in Cambodia and Rwanda.

 

All this raises the question as to what the history of the Holocaust means for today. In contemporary society, there are many demonizers of Jews and in particular of Israel. This is a multilayered process. At the forefront of this movement are forces from the Muslim world. Iranian rulers have often mentioned that Israel will be wiped off the map. Others include Muslim terror organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as countless individuals. Their de facto allies include a broad range of demonizers of Israel who knowingly ignore genocidal and demonizing tendencies in the Arab world. Some examples of these are the UN and associated bodies, assorted NGOs, various European socialist parties, many pseudo-progressive academics, numerous trade unionists and so on.

 

All the above can only lead to one conclusion: It is incumbent upon Israel and the Jewish world to make a huge effort to map how all of this hangs together. Only once we understand the arrangement of our enemies on the battleground can we fight them effectively.

 

 

Contents                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

PERSISTENCE OF ANTI-SEMITISM SHOWS

WORLD HAS YET TO LEARN LESSONS OF THE HOLOCAUST                                                           

Mario Silva

National Post, Jan. 26, 2017

                       

This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Sadly, the liberation of the camp on Jan. 27, 1945 did not put a stop to the mass killing of innocent Jewish men, women and children. Nor did it stop after the Canadian 2nd Infantry Division liberated the Westerbork concentration camp in Holland in April 1945. The Nazis continued their slaughter until the last moments of their murderous machine, which was put to an end when Nazi Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945.

 

Nazism subscribed to theories of a “master race” — a racial hierarchy where superior people have a right to dominate others and purge society of so-called inferior elements. By the time the war ended, Nazi Germany and its many collaborators had exterminated one-third of the Jewish people, six million Jews. Those of us who look back at that dark period history become traumatized by the ease and speed with which the killing took place. Nowhere is this more evident (than) in Babi Yar, Ukraine, where from Sept. 29–30, 1941, over just two days, 33,771 Jews were killed in a single operation.

 

Remembering these unique horrors is a key to Holocaust remembrance. In 2013, I was honoured to be the chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) during the Canadian Chairmanship. Canada’s membership in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance reflects our country’s commitment to ensuring that future generations understand the causes of the Holocaust.

 

It was with the goal of remembrance that, in 1998, then Swedish prime minister Göran Persson asked Britain’s Tony Blair and then U.S. president Bill Clinton to join him in forming an international task force on Holocaust remembrance, education and research. And on Jan. 27, 2000 in Stockholm, 46 governments — represented by heads of state, prime ministers, deputy prime ministers, and ministers — unanimously adopted the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust. Today, we also mark the 17th anniversary of the Stockholm Declaration.

 

The commitment of the international community to the principles of the Stockholm Declaration was the starting point for many countries to begin a public debate on their role during the Second World War and the Holocaust. What happened during the war? What did our country do? What did it not do? And what are the lessons we must learn to ensure this never happens again?

 

Today, IHRA has expanded from its three founding members to an international network of experts on the Holocaust and related issues. It has strengthened political co-operation among its 31 member countries, which work together in a consensus-based framework.

 

Member states that join IHRA commit to the principles of the Stockholm Declaration, which states that “the unprecedented character of the Holocaust will always hold universal meaning,” and that in a world “still scarred by genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia, the international community shares a solemn responsibility to fight those evils.” Member governments must pledge to strengthen efforts to promote Holocaust education, remembrance, and research.

 

Knowledge about the background, purpose, and significance of the Holocaust is essential to raise public awareness and mobilize forces to push back against the prejudices and stereotypes that led to it. Hate crimes, be they based on xenophobia, anti-Semitism or Holocaust denial, are a global phenomenon. Individually and collectively we have an obligation to fight discrimination that leads to the exclusion of groups of people and spreads hatred.

 

The liberation of Auschwitz should be a powerful call against anti-Semitism, hatred, racial intolerance and prejudice. Unfortunately, genocides and other atrocities occurred before and after the Holocaust. Even after the Holocaust, one particular form of hate stands out today from among the others. Anti-Semitism is unique in its universality, intensity, longevity and irrationality. During my chairmanship, I worked hard to make sure that IHRA adopted an international definition of Holocaust denial, which by its very nature is another form of anti-Semitism.

 

The Holocaust was an unprecedented crime against humanity and a defining historical moment, one that fundamentally altered how the world views and treats acts of genocide. As such, it provides us with many important lessons that can help prevent such crimes from happening again. The challenge is to ensure that those lessons are remembered, shared and applied. In this way, the world can honour the memory of those we failed to protect.

 

 

Contents

 

JUSTICE FOR THOSE WHO HAVE ENDURED

Yechiel Eckstein

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 26, 2017

 

This January 27, nations around the world mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating the most horrific evil ever perpetrated upon humanity – the near destruction of European Jewry.

 

It was fitting, then, that during a special Knesset ceremony on December 20, 2016, I was honored on behalf of The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, along with eight other individuals and organizations, to receive the Beacon of Light Award from the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims. Limor Livnat, chairwoman of the foundation, said the annual awards pay tribute to those dedicated to improving the lives of survivors, honor Holocaust survivors who have excelled in their contribution to Israeli society, and recognize volunteers improving survivors’ quality of life.

 

I was humbled that The Fellowship was recognized for its longtime dedication to helping needy Holocaust survivors in Israel at a time when the entire world prepares to memorialize the victims of the Holocaust, in a global annual event the United Nations General Assembly launched in 2005 to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

 

While the ceremonies and awards are important, they also serve to underscore a largely ignored humanitarian tragedy of global proportions that we as a community are not doing enough to address: Today, many of the world’s remaining 500,000 Holocaust survivors are living out their final years in poverty. Most of those who are suffering live either in Israel, across the former Soviet Union, or in greater New York City.

 

Of 189,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel, 25% live below the poverty line. Among the 60,000 survivors throughout the former Soviet Union, poverty is endemic – approaching 85-90%. Even in New York City, home to another 60,000 survivors, about half live below the poverty line.

 

This is nothing short of a humanitarian crisis. But worse, it speaks of a moral failure, because those who suffered the unimaginable are suffering once again through general ignorance or neglect. And the clock is ticking for us to respond. Every day, 40 survivors die. Within a decade few who experienced the Holocaust first-hand will remain.

 

In Israel and throughout the FSU, the poorest survivors are barely subsisting on meager income, often forced to choose between eating and securing life-saving medicine. Many survivors suffer through brutal winters unable to afford heating fuel.

 

Thanks to the support of millions of Christians across the United States and elsewhere, The Fellowship has been able to provide more than $7.3 million annually in food, medicine, heating fuel, daycare and other assistance to over 18,000 survivors in Israel and more than $15m. annually in food, medical assistance, home care and winter aid to those in the FSU. In fact, we recently ramped up our partnership with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, establishing the IFCJ Food and Medicine Lifeline to serve tens of thousands of poor elderly Jews, many of them survivors not only of the Holocaust but of Soviet oppression, in 11 countries in the FSU.

 

While we are certainly gratified to have been able to make some impact and help many survivors, we are by no means satisfied that our job is done. As a community, we cannot stand idly by as even one Holocaust survivor in Israel or anywhere else is forced to perform a cruel financial calculus regarding their most basic human needs. Our moral responsibility only begins with remembering the six million, whether it is on International Holocaust Remembrance Day or on Israel’s Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day each spring. Our moral duty will only be fulfilled when those who survived the unspeakable are not forced to live in unspeakable conditions. This is about seeing to justice for those who have endured.

 

                                                           

Contents

 

THREE REASONS WHY A DOUBLE STANDARD IS IMPOSED ON ISRAEL

Philip Carl Salzman                                                                 

CIJR, Jan. 25, 2017

 

While nationalism of the Americans, French, and Chinese is admired or at least accepted, Jewish nationalism (Zionism) is regarded as racism by pro-Arab activists and journalists. While Syrian President Bashar Assad declares war against his people, with deaths numbering in hundreds of thousands and displaced in the millions, next door Israel is lambasted by the foreign minister of Sweden for "extrajudicial killings," when it kills terrorists in the act of attacking Israeli citizens.

Notwithstanding the oppression of women in the Islamic Middle East, the forced marriages, mandatory seclusion, obligatory wearing of tents, honor killings, enslavement, gang rapes, and sale as sex slaves, the National Women's Studies Association boycotts Israel, the only country in the Middle East where women are free and equal.

 

What explains this double standard? The first reason is traditional Christian anti-Semitism. For 1,800 years Jews were Europe's own despised minority, blamed for murdering Jesus and then rejecting Christian salvation. This was still being preached from the Catholic pulpit fifty years ago when I arrived in Quebec. The Jews were the feeble minority that Europeans loved to hate. Any Jewish deviation from propriety was seized upon to justify their lowly status

 

However, with the establishment of Israel, Jews were no longer the feeble minority, but a robust majority of a small state, with Jewish "pushiness" becoming Israeli military victory. In Israel, the Jews no longer knew "their place" at the bottom of the European hierarchy, but were independent actors no longer dependent upon European permission.

 

Europeans have responded by being hyper-critical of their despised ex-minority, demanding things of Israel that they have never demanded of Israel's adversaries or neighbors, or even of themselves, and condemning Israel when it does not comply with their unreasonable demands.

 

The second reason for the double standard is pragmatic, not to say cynical: There are hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims, and only a few million Jews. Arabs and Muslims are spread in many strategically important locations throughout the world. Furthermore, Arabs and Muslim make up a huge commercial market for the industrial nations of Europe and beyond.

 

As to propriety and standards of behavior, European Christians never thought much of, or expected much of the people of the "South." These gentiles, pagans, and heathens would do just about anything, so there was no point measuring them against civilized standards and judging them. Deal with them pragmatically, was the strategy, as politically important and economically useful. The European rule is this: do not unnecessarily irritate the vast number of Arabs and Muslims by siding with a handful of uppity Jews; that would just be foolish. Showing you are on the side of Arabs and Muslims by condemning Israel is just smart policy.

 

The third and final reason for the double standard is the Holocaust, the European genocidal project to murder all Jews. Germany expertly designed and engineered the Holocaust, but was joined enthusiastically by many in the Baltics and Eastern Europe, and collaborated with by Western European countries. Even those who did not take direct part, such as Britain, Sweden, and Switzerland, did nothing to stop the Holocaust, in spite of pleas that they do so, and some blocked their gates to Jews trying to escape their fate.

 

The shadow of the Holocaust – its blame, shame, and guilt – has hung over Europe since 1945. After 70 years, Europeans are fed up with hearing about it. Current generations were not even alive at the time. Why should they be blamed and feel guilt, they wonder, about something that they did not do, do not approve of, and would not do themselves. Yet the shadow prevails.

 

How can it be removed? Well, if it turns out that the Jews are evil – that, given the chance to be in charge as in Israel, they behave exactly like the Nazis – then the ledger is balanced. European hyper-criticism of Israel makes both Europeans and Jews oppressors and murderers, equally guilty and thus equally innocent. Extravagant denunciation of Israel, however dishonest, frees Europe of its guilt. Americans, implicated in the Holocaust only to the extent of having closed its doors to Jews trying to flee, currently favor Israel over the Palestinians, according to annual Gallup polls, by four to one, while Europeans heavily favor Palestinians. Americans do not need to escape the blame for the Holocaust, while for Europeans condemning Israel is the easiest route.

Prof. Philip Carl Salzman is a CIJR Academic Fellow

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents           

 

On Topic Links

 

The 400-year-old Foundation of the Unique US-Israel Ties: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, Jan. 25, 2017

1. According to Prof. Robert Bellah, a leading sociologist from UC Berkeley, there is “civil religion” in the US: separation between religion and state, but not between religion and society.  Civil liberties are Bible-driven, reflecting more responsibility than rights.

Remembering the Holocaust, Forgetting the Survivors: Yechiel Eckstein, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 25, 2017 —This January 27, nations around the world will mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating the most horrific evil ever perpetrated upon humanity: the near destruction of Europe’s Jews.

Story of Japan’s 'Schindler' Offers Lessons for Tackling Contemporary Xenophobia: UNNewsCentre, Jan. 26, 2017 —During World War II, Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat posted as an acting consul in Lithuania, disobeyed instructions from his own Government and issued visas for Jews fleeing Nazi persecution.

Raoul Wallenberg, Hero of Humanity: Irwin Cotler, Times of Israel, Jan. 21, 2017— I write at an important moment of remembrance and reminder, of bearing witness and taking action – on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, reminding us of horrors too terrible to be believed but not too terrible to have happened; and on the eve of the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the most brutal extermination camp of the 20th century. From 1941 to the end of 1944, some 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz, 1.1 million of them were Jews.