Month: March 2017

Ira Robinson: Avraham Novershtern, Kan gar ha’am hayehudi: sifrut yidish be’artsot habrit [Here Dwells the Jewish People: A Cent

 

Avraham Novershtern, Kan gar ha’am hayehudi: sifrut yidish be’artsot habrit [Here Dwells the Jewish People: A Century of American Yiddish Literature] Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2015. 747 pp.  ISBN: 978-965-493-822-8.

 

The phenomenon of secular Yiddish literature, beginning in the late nineteenth century, is an immensely important part of the story of Jewish cultural creativity in modern times.  By the early twenty-first century, this phenomenon is largely a memory.  For contemporary Jews, other than those who live in Hasidic enclaves which cultivate Yiddish as a means of communal solidarity, Yiddish constitutes a memory to be revisited and utilized in a post-vernacular context.   The thousands of men and women, poets, novelists, essayists, and critics, who together produced , for a brief century, a formidable body of artistic and literary creativity in Yiddish have disappeared from the consciousness of contemporary Jews save for those, like Isaac Bashevis Singer,  who have been translated into other languages and are known by their translations.  The relatively small community of several thousand academics and Yiddish cultural activists able to read and communicate in secular Yiddish and to access its treasures in the original language do not seem to constitute a sufficient critical mass that will markedly change this situation.

 

This is what makes Avraham Novershtern’s massive Hebrew volume an event of great cultural importance for all those for whom no aspect of Jewish cultural creativity should be alien.  From his position as Professor of Yiddish at the Hebrew University, Novershtern has spent decades carefully reading and researching Yiddish literature, and the present volume marks the masterful culmination of his efforts.  Novershtern’s book concentrates on the American center of Yiddish literature while always requiring the reader to understand that the true story of the achievement of American Yiddish literature can be appreciated only by comparing America with the two other great centers of Yiddish cultural creativity in the twentieth century–Poland and the Soviet Union.  In Poland, however, that creativity was cruelly cut off by the extermination of European Jewry during the Holocaust.  The promise of Yiddish cultural continuity in the Soviet Union as well was artificially cut off by Stalinist policies and purges. 

 

That left America as the one major center to enjoy unimpeded by external forces the rise of secular Yiddish culture (from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century, culminating in the 1920s) and its subsequent decline (from mid-twentieth century on).  For that reason alone, America would have been important for the story of Yiddish literature.   Beyond that, however, Novershtern emphasizes that America was the place where Yiddish theater and journalism flourished earlier and more lastingly than anywhere else and that cultural influences between Europe and America travelled in both directions.

 

The length of Novershtern’s book is necessary for several reasons.  One of them is that he has a really complex story to tell and this story has only been partially told in previous literary criticism and scholarship in Yiddish, English, and Hebrew.  Secondly, he is writing in Hebrew for a Hebrew-reading audience.  Israel is the place where the struggle for the primacy of the Hebrew language as the everyday language of the Jewish people resulted in the “othering” of Yiddish.  For the Hebrew readers of Israel, heirs to this “othering,” Novershtern attempts to convey the immense cultural importance of American Jewry in general and of Yiddish creativity in America in particular through both historical reconstruction and artistic presentation.  Thus for every poet and novelist he analyzes, Novershtern offers not merely copious and extensive citations in the original Yiddish.  Each citation is offered in a Hebrew translation that is not merely accurate, but also displays great artistic merit.

 

The book begins with several general chapters that enable the reader to understand the major trends of the story in all its complexity.   Then readers are treated to studies of the works of a number of individual poets and novelists, with the bulk of the attention given to poets (both A. Leyeles and Yankev Glatstein merit two chapters apiece).  While obviously not every writer of merit received that sort of extended attention (the book was certainly not conceived as an encyclopedia) enough has been said by Novershtern to give the discerning reader a well-planned entrée into the world of the authors and critics and the issues they confronted.  The lengthy and detailed timeline included at the end of the book (699-720) is one of the book’s most valuable features, helping the reader see the forest as well as the individual trees. 

 

As has been said, Here Dwells the Jewish People is a work of Israeli scholarship in Hebrew meant to satisfy the needs of the Israeli academic community.  In its breadth and scope, there is no exact equivalent in English but it is my hope that it will be translated speedily for the benefit of an English-speaking reading public that will certainly greatly appreciate this important contribution to our knowledge of Jewish cultural creativity in North America.

 

Ira Robinson

 

Concordia University

WEST INDIFFERENT TO ISLAMIST PERSECUTION OF EGYPT’S CHRISTIANS

Christians Fear for Their Lives in the Middle East: Micah Halpern, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 27, 2017— Christians fear for their lives in certain parts of the Middle East. Islamic State (ISIS) has called them its primary target – its “favorite prey.”

A New Genocide for Egypt’s Christians?: Raymond Ibrahim, Frontpage, Mar. 2, 2017— Yet another murderous wave is taking Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority by storm, leading to yet another exodus from their homes. 

Hungary’s Ugly State-Sponsored Holocaust Revisionism: James Kirchick, Tablet, Mar. 13, 2017 — A stone’s throw from Budapest’s majestic Gothic revival parliament building, Freedom Square teems with monuments attesting to Hungary’s turbulent 20th century.

The Holocaust’s Great Escape: Matthew Shaer, Smithsonian, Mar. 2017— Shortly after dawn one January day in 1944, a German military truck departed the center of Vilnius, in what is today Lithuania, and rattled southwest toward the fog-laced towns that ringed the city.

               

On Topic Links

 

Christian Groups Launch TV Series Defending Israel: Benjamin Glatt, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 7, 2017

Persecuted Christians Suffer “Worst Year Yet,” Mostly Under Islam: Raymond Ibrahim, Frontpage, Mar. 30, 2017

In Rediscovered Telegram, Himmler Offers Jerusalem’s Mufti Help Against ‘Jewish Intruders’: Sue Surkes, Times of Israel, Mar. 30, 2017

‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ Review: Maladaptation of the Species: Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal, Mar. 30, 2017

 

 

CHRISTIANS FEAR FOR THEIR LIVES IN THE MIDDLE EAST                                                 

Micah Halpern

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 27, 2017

 

Christians fear for their lives in certain parts of the Middle East. Islamic State (ISIS) has called them its primary target – its “favorite prey.” And still, the plight and the tragedy of Middle East Christians go relatively unnoticed by the larger Christian and Western world.

The Christian community in Egypt numbers about nine million. It is the largest Christian community in the Middle East – and ISIS has hit it hard. Most Christians in Egypt are Copts, they have their own pope and their own tradition and they do not genuflect to Rome. They date themselves back to St. Mark in Alexandria during the period of Roman Emperor Claudius at about the year 42 CE, just after the death of Jesus. Copts call themselves “Christians of Egypt.” They are arguably the oldest Christian community in the world.

 

In December about 30 Egyptian Copts, mostly women and children, were massacred and many more were wounded, in their church, by ISIS. Other than AP and Reuters only a handful of media in the world covered the terrorist attacks by running the wire releases. Even fewer made more than casual mention of the atrocities against and persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

The events befalling the Christian community in Egypt are not simply newsworthy, they are an essential tool with which to elucidate the fragile status of a minority community in the Middle East – Christians among Muslims. These persecutions are important tools in measuring the activities of Arab governments and their responses to the challenge. Jews standing up and calling attention to the plight of Christians living under Muslim regime and being murdered by ISIS while worldwide Christian leadership remains silent smacks of only a slight touch of irony.

We need to prevent the oppression of minorities, and we know the importance of defending those who cannot defend themselves. And while there are those in the Arabic world who say that Jews are exaggerating these atrocities only to make these Muslim regimes look bad, I say poppycock. When extremist groups like ISIS are freely murdering it becomes big news in Israel. The most obvious reason is because Israel may be next, because Israel – as the world should know – is on the front line.

Over the past few weeks ISIS has produced and posted a “hit list” of Christians it intends to murder. So far ISIS has murdered seven people; one was beheaded, another was burned alive. A father and son, members of the Hana family, were dumped on the side of the road after ISIS shot the father dead and burned his son alive. The symbolism should not be lost. In Islam the symbol of dumping a dead body on the side of the road outside a town, in this case the town was al-Arish, is very telling. It means the victims are seen by the murderers an unfit for human burial and instead worthy only of being thrown to the dogs to be mauled and eaten. The victims are seen by the murderers as subhuman. And that is the way ISIS views all Christians, but most of all, the Christians of the Middle East.

Many Christians are fleeing the Sinai where these attacks have taken place. They have seen the writing on the wall and heard the promise of future threats. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi condemned the recent attacks, much in the same way that he condemned the December massacre. But that’s all he’s done – little else has happened and the Christians rightfully fear for their lives. Despite the AP and Reuters coverage of the persecutions the massacres of Christians in the Middle East has barely made a blip on the radar of the Western news media.

Sisi is reacting much the way Western media is reacting. The Copts are not a part of the mainstream; they don’t belong. Their tradition, their practice looks nothing like Western Christianity. There are no significant populations and affiliations outside of Egypt to take up the battle cry and defend them. Libya and Sudan have small Coptic communities, but they’re not going to make waves and risk their relative safety to help out in Egypt. Western Catholic and Protestant groups are not connected to these Christians who are part of the Eastern Church, sometimes referred to as the National Churches. That leaves Israel and Jews around the world.

Defense of Egypt’s Christian community is not purely selfless. We have, as they say, skin in the game. We must call attention to the plight of the Christians under ISIS and other oppressors in order to make certain that moderate regimes in the region remain stable. Egypt must protect the Christians and destroy ISIS because otherwise ISIS will destabilize the entire country and the region. ISIS is recruiting members to help oppress the Christians. Protecting Christians will protect the region. Ultimately, it will protect Israel, too.

                                                                           

Contents

                         

A NEW GENOCIDE FOR EGYPT’S CHRISTIANS? 

Raymond Ibrahim

                                                            Frontpage, Mar. 2, 2017

 

Yet another murderous wave is taking Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority by storm, leading to yet another exodus from their homes. Last week in al-Arish, Sinai, Islamic State affiliates killed a 65-year-old Christian man by shooting him in the head; they then abducted and tortured his 45-year-old son, before burning him alive and dumping his charred remains near a schoolyard. Perhaps because of its sensationalist nature—burning a human alive—this story was reported by some Western media.  Yet the atrocities hardly begin or end there.  Below is a list of Christians murdered in al-Arish in recent days and weeks:

January 30:  A 35-year-old Christian was in his small shop working with his wife and young son when three masked men walked in, opened fire on him, instantly killing the Copt.  The murderers then sat around his table, eating chips and drinking soda, while the body lay in a pool of blood before the terrified wife and child.

 

February 13: A 57-year-old Christian laborer was shot and killed as he tried to fight off masked men trying to kidnap his young son from off a crowded street in broad daylight.   After murdering the father, they seized his young son and took him to an unknown location (where, per precedent, he is likely being tortured, possibly already killed, if a hefty ransom was not already paid). February 16: A 45-year-old Christian schoolteacher was moonlighting at his shoe shop with his wife, when masked men walked in the crowded shop and shot him dead. February 17:  A 40-year-old medical doctor was killed by masked men who, after forcing him to stop his car, opened fire on and killed him.  He too leaves a widow and two children.

 

It is likely that more Christians have been slain recently in Sinai; because they are being killed in quick succession, it is not clear if ongoing reports are documenting the same or new incidences.   For instance, a recent February 24 report says “On Thursday [February 23], a [Christian] plumber in the city was shot dead in front of his wife and children at their home….  A day earlier [February 22], gunmen killed another [Christian] man before his pregnant wife, then calmly drank a bottle of Pepsi before taking off, witnesses told aid workers in Ismailia.”  Is the February 22 Pepsi drinking incident the same as the one reported above as occurring on January 30, or a different one?

 

This recent uptick in Christian persecution is believed to be in response to a video earlier released by the Islamic State in Sinai.  In it, masked militants promise more attacks on the “worshipers of the cross,” a reference to the Copts of Egypt, whom they also referred to as their “favorite prey” and the “infidels who are empowering the West against Muslim nations.”

As a result of the recent slayings and threats of more to come, at least 300 Christians living in al-Arish have fled their homes, with nothing but their clothes on their backs and their children in their hands.  Most have congregated in a Coptic church compound in neighboring Ismailia by the Suez Canal.  (Note: Donations that go directly to the dislocated Christians of al-Arish can be made here).

 

In a video of these destitute Copts, one man can be heard saying “They are burning us alive! They seek to exterminate Christians altogether!  Where’s the [Egyptian] military?”  Another woman yells at the camera, “Tell the whole world, look—we’ve left our homes, and why? Because they kill our children, they kill our women, they kill our innocent people!  Why! Our children are terrified to go to schools.  Why? Why all this injustice!  Why doesn’t the president move and do something for us?  We can’t even answer our doors without being terrified!”

 

For his part, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered military and security forces to “completely eradicate terrorism” in North Sinai.  Such a response might be reassuring to al-Arish’s Christians—if it wasn’t also dejavu.  Back in 2012, and in response to what Islamists perceived as widespread Christian support for Sisi’s military coup of then president Morsi—Copts in Sinai were heavily plummeted: one priest, Fr. Mina Cherubim, was shot dead in front of his church; a 65-year- old Christian trader was beheaded; several other Christians, including youths, were kidnapped, held for ransom, and later executed when the exorbitant ransoms could not be met.   Two churches were attacked, one burned. Just as now, hundreds of Christians fled their homes; and, just as now, Sisi vowed to root out the jihadi nests in Sinai… 

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

           

 

Contents 

   

HUNGARY’S UGLY STATE-SPONSORED HOLOCAUST REVISIONISM                                                                

James Kirchick                                                                                                                                        

Tablet, Mar. 13, 2017

 

A stone’s throw from Budapest’s majestic Gothic revival parliament building, Freedom Square teems with monuments attesting to Hungary’s turbulent 20th century. Dominating the north side of the plaza is a giant obelisk constructed by the Soviet Union and dedicated to the city’s Red Army liberators. A few paces south one finds a statue of Imre Nagy, the executed hero of Hungary’s 1956 anti-Soviet revolt, standing on a bridge looking forlornly on parliament. At the southern end of the square, outside a Calvinist church, stares a bust of Admiral Miklós Horthy, the authoritarian regent under whose reign Hungary passed the first anti-Semitic law of 20th-century Europe in 1920, allied with the Axis powers, and deported some half-million Jews to Auschwitz in the largest and swiftest mass transfer of the Final Solution. In the middle of it all, a bronzed Ronald Reagan walks briskly toward the nearby U.S. embassy. With its abundant memorials, this one plaza commemorates the grand sweep of Europe’s most influential 20th-century ideologies: communism, nationalism, fascism, and democracy.

 

On the Sunday morning of July 20, 2014, police cordoned off Freedom Square while construction workers put the finishing touches on an addition to this urban tableau already brimming with historical tributes: the Memorial to the Victims of the German Occupation. From the moment its construction was announced, following an opaque artistic competition lacking public consultation, it had been the subject of heated dispute. Beginning with its very title, which labels the unimpeded movement of German soldiers onto friendly territory an “occupation,” the memorial absolves Hungarians of complicity in the Holocaust. Depicting the Archangel Gabriel (described in the plans as “the man of God, symbol of Hungary”) under attack from a sharp-clawed German imperial eagle, it portrays the Hungarian nation as a collective victim of Nazi predation. This distortion of history obscures both the specifically anti-Jewish nature of the Holocaust and the Hungarian state’s active collaboration in mass murder. Randolph Braham, professor emeritus at the City University of New York and himself a Hungarian Holocaust survivor, writes about the role played by Hungarian authorities in the crime: “With Horthy still at the helm and providing the symbol of national sovereignty, the approximately 200,000 Hungarian policemen, gendarmes, civil servants, and ‘patriotic’ volunteers had collaborated in the anti-Jewish drive with a routine and efficiency that impressed even the relatively few SS who had served as ‘advisers.’ ” So able and willing were the Nazis’ Hungarian accomplices that Adolf Eichmann, the SS official in charge of deporting the country’s Jews to the death camps, managed to oversee the gruesome task with just 200 Germans at his command.

 

Had the nationalist government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán not spent the previous four years conducting a campaign of historical distortion regarding the country’s Holocaust history, one might be more charitable about its motives for constructing this monument. Through a set of government-sponsored historical institutes, publicly funded documentaries, revisions to school curricula, bestowal of state honors to extreme right-wing figures, and erections of public monuments and museum exhibitions, the Orbán administration has disseminated a narrative that minimizes Hungarian culpability in the extermination of some half-million Jews and rehabilitates Horthy’s reputation from that of opportunistic Nazi ally to selfless defender of national independence.

 

Opposition to this revisionist crusade reached a critical phase in January 2014, around the same time that plans for the occupation memorial were unveiled. After the director of a government-subsidized historical center phlegmatically referred to the 1941 deportations of Jews living under Hungarian authority as a “police action against aliens,” outraged leaders of the Hungarian Jewish community announced they would cease cooperation with the government on activities marking the 70th-anniversary Holocaust Remembrance Year. Orbán decided to postpone work on the monument until after national elections in April, at which point consultations on its design would resume. But just two days after his party, Fidesz, secured a landslide victory, Orbán reneged on his promise and workers returned to the construction site, which by then had to be patrolled by police to keep protesters at bay. In an open letter to Orbán, 30 members of the U.S. Congress stated that while “Hungary is an important ally and partner of the United States,” it should “build an appropriate memorial that tells the entire Hungarian story of the Nazi Occupation, not one that whitewashes the truth.” Orbán was unmoved. The Hungarian government completed its controversial memorial in the dead of night, slipping the bronze angel and eagle into the square disguised in metal foil.

 

Budapest’s Memorial to the Victims of the German Occupation is distinguished not only by its revisionist message but also its vulgar design. Holocaust memorials tend to be solemn and subtly allegorical. Around the corner from the iconic Brandenburg Gate, Berlin’s more accurately named Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe—2,711 black concrete stelae arranged in a mazelike pattern on a sloping plaza—immediately unsettles visitors with its figurative representation of the Holocaust’s unfathomable depth. Elsewhere in Budapest, “Shoes on the Danube Bank” displays 60 pairs of iron footwear fastened to the river’s stone embankment, marking the last standing place of Jews who, every day during the 1944-1945 winter, were ordered to take off their shoes before being shot by Arrow Cross militiamen, the Nazis’ Hungarian accomplices…

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

                                                                                   

 

Contents

 

THE HOLOCAUST’S GREAT ESCAPE

Matthew Shaer

Smithsonian, Mar. 2017

 

Shortly after dawn one January day in 1944, a German military truck departed the center of Vilnius, in what is today Lithuania, and rattled southwest toward the fog-laced towns that ringed the city. Near the village of Ponar, the vehicle came to a halt, and a pale 18-year-old named Motke Zeidel, chained at the ankles, was led from the cargo hold.

 

Zeidel had spent the previous two years in German-occupied Vilnius, in the city’s walled-off Jewish ghetto. He’d watched as the Nazis sent first hundreds and then thousands of Jews by train or truck or on foot to a camp in the forest. A small number of people managed to flee the camp, and they returned with tales of what they’d seen: rows of men and women machine-gunned down at close range. Mothers pleading for the lives of their children. Deep earthen pits piled high with corpses. And a name: Ponar.

 

Now Zeidel himself had arrived in the forest. Nazi guards led him through a pair of gates and past a sign: “Entrance Strictly Forbidden. Danger to life. Mines.” Ahead, through the gaps in the pines, he saw massive depressions in the ground covered with fresh earth—the burial pits. “This is it,” he said to himself. “This is the end.”

 

The Nazi killing site at Ponar is today known to scholars as one of the first examples of the “Holocaust by bullets”—the mass shootings that claimed the lives of upwards of two million Jews across Eastern Europe. Unlike the infamous gas chambers at places like Auschwitz, these murders were carried out at close range, with rifles and machine guns. Significantly, the killings at Ponar marked the transition to the Final Solution, the Nazi policy under which Jews would no longer be imprisoned in labor camps or expelled from Europe but exterminated. Zeidel braced for the crack of a rifle. It never came. Opening his eyes, he found himself standing face to face with a Nazi guard, who told him that beginning immediately, he must work with other Jewish prisoners to cut down the pine trees around the camp and transport the lumber to the pits. “What for?” Zeidel later recalled wondering. “We didn’t know what for.”

 

A week later, he and other members of the crew received a visit from the camp’s Sturmbannführer, or commander, a 30-year-old dandy who wore boots polished shiny as mirrors, white gloves that reached up to his elbows, and smelled strongly of perfume. Zeidel remembered what the commandant told them: “Just about 90,000 people were killed here, lying in mass graves.” But, the Sturmbannführer explained, “there must not be any trace” of what had happened at Ponar, lest Nazi command be linked to the mass murder of civilians. All the bodies would have to be exhumed and burned. The wood collected by Zeidel and his fellow prisoners would form the pyres.

 

By late January, roughly 80 prisoners, known to historians as the Burning Brigade, were living in the camp, in a subterranean wood-walled bunker they’d built themselves. Four were women, who washed laundry in large metal vats and prepared meals, typically a chunk of ice and dirt and potato melted down to stew. The men were divided into groups. The weaker men maintained the pyres that smoldered through the night, filling the air with the heavy smell of burning flesh. The strongest hauled bodies from the earth with bent and hooked iron poles. One prisoner, a Russian named Yuri Farber, later recalled that they could identify the year of death based on the corpse’s level of undress: People who were murdered in 1941 were dressed in their outer clothing. In 1942 and 1943, however, came the so-called “winter aid campaign” to “voluntarily” give up warm clothing for the German Army. Beginning in 1942, people were herded in and forced to undress to their underwear.

 

Double-sided ramps were built inside the pits. One crew hauled stretchers filled with corpses up the ramp, and another crew pushed the bodies onto the pyre. In a week, the Burning Brigade might dispose of 3,500 bodies or more. Later, the guards forced prisoners to sift through the ashes with strainers, looking for bone fragments, which would then be pounded down into powder.

 

All told, historians have documented at least 80,000 people shot at Ponar between 1941 and 1944, and many believe the true number is greater still. Ninety percent of those killed were Jews. That the Nazis charged a brigade of prisoners to disinter and dispose of the bodies, in the most sickening of circumstances, only amplifies the horror. “From the moment when they made us bring up the corpses, and we understood that we wouldn’t get out of there alive, we reflected on what we could do,” Zeidel remembered. And so the prisoners turned to one thought: escape.

 

Richard Freund, an American archaeologist at the University of Hartford, in Connecticut, specializes in Jewish history, modern and ancient. He has been traversing the globe for almost three decades, working at sites as varied as Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, and at Sobibor, a Nazi extermination camp in eastern Poland. Unusually for a man in his profession, he rarely puts trowel to earth. Instead, Freund, who is rumpled and stout, with eyes that seem locked in a perpetual squint, practices what he calls “noninvasive archaeology,” which uses ground-penetrating radar and other types of computerized electronic technology to discover and describe structures hidden underground…

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

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Christian Groups Launch TV Series Defending Israel: Benjamin Glatt, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 7, 2017—A partnership of Christians groups have collaborated to create a series called “Why Israel Matters,” which intends to set the record straight on Israel and the Jewish state. Christians in Defense of Israel (CIDI), Liberty Counsel and the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) produced the 13-part original series that demonstrates the crucial importance of the Jewish state to Christians, to the United States and to the world in general. The first episode, which debuted February 28, can be seen online on TBN.

Persecuted Christians Suffer “Worst Year Yet,” Mostly Under Islam: Raymond Ibrahim, Frontpage, Mar. 30, 2017—The persecution of Christians around the world, but especially in the Muslim world, has reached an all-time high—with 2016 being the “worst year yet,” according to Open Doors, which recently released its annual ranking of the top 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution.

In Rediscovered Telegram, Himmler Offers Jerusalem’s Mufti Help Against ‘Jewish Intruders’: Sue Surkes, Times of Israel, Mar. 30, 2017 —A telegram from Heinrich Himmler to the grand mufti of Jerusalem has been found in the archives of Israel’s National Library.

‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ Review: Maladaptation of the Species: Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal, Mar. 30, 2017—A single sequence can define the essence of a movie, or hint at what the movie might have been. In “The Zookeeper’s Wife” it’s the Luftwaffe’s bombing of the Warsaw zoo in September 1939, when Hitler’s forces have just invaded Poland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAESH, ISIL ET KALIFAT

  

    

 

 

 

 

 

             FRANCE: LA DÉRADICALISATION DES DJIHADISTES EST UN « FIASCO »                                                      Soeren Kern                                                    

Gatestone Institute, 21 mars, 2017

          

 

Le programme phare du gouvernement français sur la déradicalisation des djihadistes est un « fiasco total » et doit être « complètement repensé », indiquent les premières conclusions d'une commission d'enquête sénatoriale sur la déradicalisation.

 

Selon le rapport préliminaire, le gouvernement français n'a aucun résultat tangible à présenter au regard des dizaines de millions d'euros d'argent public engagés ces dernières années dans la lutte contre une radicalisation islamique qui a tué 238 personnes depuis Janvier 2015. Le rapport laisse entendre que la déradicalisation, en centres spécialisés ou en prison, ne fonctionne pas parce que la plupart des islamistes radicaux ne veulent pas être déradicalisés.

 

Le rapport « Désendoctrinement, désembrigadement et réinsertion des djihadistes en France et en Europe » – l'intitulé évite d'avoir recours au terme « déradicalisation » considéré par certains comme politiquement incorrect — a été présenté à a commission des lois du Sénat le 22 Février.

 

Il 'agit en réalité du bilan d'étape d'une enquête approfondie menée actuellement par un groupe de travail multi-partis chargé d'évaluer l'efficacité des efforts de déradicalisation du gouvernement. Le rapport final devrait être rendu en juillet.

 

Le gros des critiques est focalisé sur un plan de 40 millions € qui avait prévu de construire 13 centres de déradicalisation appelés Centre de prévention, d'insertion et de citoyenneté, (CIPC) – un pour chaque région métropolitaine -, visant à déradicaliser des djihadistes potentiels.

 

Le plan initial, dévoilé en grande pompe en mai 2016, prévoyait pour chaque centre une capacité d'accueil maximale de 25 personnes, âgées de 18 à 30 ans, pour des périodes de dix mois. Le gouvernement a annoncé que 3.600 personnes radicalisées intègreraient ces centres au cours des deux prochaines années.

 

Le premier – et pour l'instant le seul – centre de déradicalisation gouvernemental, logé au Château de Pontourny, un manoir isolé du 18ème siècle dans le centre de la France, a ouvert ses portes en septembre 2016.

 

Quand les sénateurs Esther Benbassa et Catherine Troendle, qui pilotent le groupe de travail, ont visité Pontourny le 3 février, elles n'y ont trouvé qu'un seul résident. Lequel a depuis été emprisonné pour des « actes de violence domestique ».

 

Après cinq mois de fonctionnement, Pontourny est maintenant vide, mais continue d'employer 27 personnes, dont cinq psychologues, un psychiatre et neuf éducateurs, pour un coût annuel de 2,5 M €.

 

Bien que la France compte environ 8.250 islamistes radicaux, 59 d'entre eux seulement ont manifesté un intérêt pour Pontourny depuis son ouverture. Parmi eux, 17 ont rempli un dossier et neuf y sont allés. Pas un seul résident n'a suivi le programme complet sur dix mois.

 

L'un des résidents, un djihadiste de 24 ans nommé Mustafa S., a été arrêté au cours d' une opération antiterroriste, près de Strasbourg, le 20 Janvier 2017. La police affirme qu'il a des liens avec l'un des auteurs de l'attaque djihadiste de novembre 2015 contre le Bataclan à Paris. Mustafa S. a été arrêté alors qu'il quittait Pontourny : il aurait été sur le départ pour rejoindre l'Etat islamique en Syrie.

 

Une autre résidente de Pontourny, Sabrina C., enceinte et âgée de 24 ans, a vécu dans l'établissement du 19 septembre au 15 décembre. Elle a révélé à un journal régional, la Nouvelle République, qu'elle n'a jamais été radicalisée mais a profité de Pontourny pour échapper à son « cocon familial » et « prendre l'air » « A aucun moment je ne me suis sentie intéressée par quelque religion que ce soit. Ma famille est catholique, non pratiquante, on va à l'église de temps en temps, mais pas plus. Mon copain a voulu me faire porter le foulard, mais j'ai toujours refusé ».

 

La mère de Sabrina a déclaré que le centre de déradicalisation « a été l'occasion pour notre fille de suivre une formation professionnelle, d'apprendre la cuisine et d'être près des animaux. » Sabrina a ajouté que son séjour a tourné au cauchemar: « Je pleurais tous les soirs, je ne me sentais pas à ma place. A Pontourny, ils me traitaient comme une criminelle.». Elle pense que la seule raison pour laquelle son inscription a été autorisée était parce que le gouvernement avait besoin de « faire du chiffre. »

 

Le gouvernement a également échoué dans son effort d'éradication du radicalisme islamique en prison. En octobre 2016, suite à une recrudescence de violences contre les gardiens de prison, le gouvernement a pris le parti de loger les prisonniers radicalisés dans des unités séparées.

 

Au départ, il s'agissait d'isoler les islamistes pour éviter qu'ils ne radicalisent les autres détenus. Mais le ministre de la justice, Jean-Jacques Urvoas, a reconnu que le regroupement n'avait fait qu'accroitre les violences, les islamistes se sentant encouragés par ce qu'il a appelé « l'effet de groupe »

 

Le rapport a également dénoncé l'émergence d'une « industrie de la déradicalisation » qui a permis à des associations et organisations non-gouvernementales sans aucune expérience en la matière de décrocher de lucratifs contrats gouvernementaux. « Plusieurs associations, en panne de fonds publics en période de pénurie budgétaire, se sont tournées vers le secteur de la déradicalisation sans aucune expérience réelle », a indiqué le sénateur Benbassa.

 

Esther Benbassa a déclaré que le programme de déradicalisation du gouvernement avait été mal conçu et mis en place trop précipitamment pour des raisons politiques pour faire face à une menace djihadiste croissante. Elle a déclaré : « le gouvernement était en panique à la suite des attentats. Et c'est la panique qui a guidé ses actions. Le temps du politique est court, il fallait rassurer la population ».

 

Le sociologue franco-iranien Farhad Khosrokhavar, expert en radicalisation, a déclaré sur France 24 que la seule option du gouvernement face aux djihadistes purs et durs était de les enfermer :

 

« Certaines personnes peuvent être déradicalisés, mais pas tout le monde. Les djihadistes purs et durs, ceux qui sont totalement convaincus, ne peuvent pas l'être. Ces profils sont très dangereux et représentent environ 10% à 15% de ceux qui ont été radicalisé. La prison pourrait n'être que le seul moyen de faire face à ces croyants irréductibles. »

 

Dans un entretien à L'Obs, Benbassa a affirmé que le gouvernement a également échoué à aborder la prévention : « Si on ne se dit pas aujourd'hui qu'il faut socialiser ces jeunes candidats au djihadisme, – je ne parle pas de ceux qui sont sous la main de la justice-, les réinsérer, leur apprendre un métier, les professionnaliser et leur offrir un suivi individualisé, on n'y arrivera pas. Cela passe par l'aide de la famille, des imams, des policiers exerçant une police de proximité, des éducateurs, des psychologues, des chefs d'entreprise, aussi, qui peuvent également intervenir.

 

« Je pense aussi que nos dirigeants devraient adopter un peu de sobriété et d'humilité pour approcher ce phénomène complexe. La tâche est extrêmement ardue. "Déradicaliser" quelqu'un ne se fait pas en six mois. Ces personnes, auxquelles on n'a pas donné d'idéal et qui se sont accrochées à l'idéologie de Daech, ne vont pas s'en défaire comme ça. Il n'y a pas de sésame. »

 

Le sénateur Philippe Bas, président de la commission des lois du Sénat qui a commandé le rapport, a évoqué le programme de déradicalisation du gouvernement en ces termes : « C'est un fiasco complet, tout est à repenser, tout est à reconstruire ».

 

 

 

AU NOM D’ALLAH

Denise Bombardier

Journal de Montreal, 24 mars, 2017

 

 

Chaque nouvel attentat islamiste provoque dans nos pays occidentaux des réactions diverses, enveloppées d’une ouate de prudence et formulées dans un vocabulaire qui cherche à atténuer la brutalité et l’intolérable barbarie d’un acte meurtrier. «Nous n’avons pas peur», assurent nos dirigeants, obligés de cacher leurs mains tremblantes derrière le dos lorsqu’ils commentent publiquement les tueries des soldats­­ d’Allah.

 

Des médias préfèrent parler de «fous» ou de «malades» afin d’éviter de jeter de l’huile sur le feu et laisser place aux amalgames accablant des musulmans. Or, le vocabulaire psychiatrique fait référence­­ à une maladie mentale expliquant le besoin de tuer, supprimant ainsi­­ la responsabilité pénale de ces criminels­­. Certains veulent laisser entendre­­ que ces terroristes agissent par des pulsions incontrôlables et seraient­­ donc inaptes à être jugés.

 

Or, cette tentative d’écarter le véritable motif de cette guerre, menée au nom d’Allah par des combattants dont l’objectif est de détruire la culture judéo-chrétienne, sert à justifier Daech­­, Al-Qaida, les talibans ou Boko Haram, qui créent la terreur sur tous les continents.

 

Les djihadistes ne se réclament ni du marxisme ni du fascisme. Leur combat n’a pas comme objectif d’abolir les inégalités­­ sociales, l’exploitation politique ou économique. Ils recherchent non pas la paix, mais le cataclysme universel. Ce sont des combattants de la mort. Tuer est un sentiment orgasmique pour eux. Tuer tous ceux qui ne sont pas eux, tous les «infidèles», c’est-à-dire les chrétiens, les juifs, les athées, les bouddhistes, les hindous et les minorités musulmanes hérétiques à leurs yeux, et dont la présence sur terre est une offense­­ à leur Allah à eux.

 

Le terroriste au passé de criminel, radicalisé­­ probablement en prison par un des imams qui sévissent en Angle­terre depuis longtemps, a attendu son heure. Installé dans sa voiture, il s’est engagé sur le pont de Westminster, bourré de touristes, et a foncé dans la foule. Ensuite, armé de couteaux de 12 pouces, il s’est précipité vers un policier en faction devant le parlement, l’a poignardé à mort et a continué sa course vers des gardes armés qui l’ont descendu. Son fantasme religieux de vierges qui l’attendaient au paradis s’est réalisé.

 

Cessons de crier haut et fort que nous n’avons pas peur et que la démocratie qui est la nôtre va triompher. D’abord la peur, c’est-à-dire la conscience aiguë du danger, n’est pas que paralysante. Elle peut ajouter à la lucidité. Être sur ses gardes n’est pas un défaut. Lorsque le président Erdogan de Turquie, un musulman­­ «modéré», déclare que les Européens ne pourront plus marcher dans la rue en sécurité si l’Union européenne poursuit son hostilité à l’endroit de son pays, faut-il hausser les épaules?

 

Le paradigme pacifiste est chose du passé. Des touristes de neuf pays sont morts ou ont été blessés à Londres. Ils sont originaires de la Corée du Sud aux États-Unis. Au moment où j’écris ces lignes, un djihadiste français vient d’être arrêté à Anvers en Belgique pour avoir tenté de foncer dans la foule avec sa voiture. Que conclure? Qu’il faut le soigner?

 

 

 

UNE JEUNE YAZIDI DANS L'ENFER DU VIOL DE L'ETAT ISLAMIQUE

Raymond Ibrahim

L’Express, 14 mai 2016

 

 

Un entretien télévisé récent, mené en arabe avec une jeune Yazidi, captive sexuelle de l'Etat islamique, a été diffusée le 22 mars 2016 sur DW. La jeune fille était l'invitée du « Shabaab Talk » (La Parole est aux Jeunes) animé par Jaafar Abdul.

 

La jeune fille qui parlait sous le pseudonyme de Birvan, a été capturée à l'âge de 15 ans et a enduré de longs mois d'esclavage avant de réussir à s'échapper. Elle a aujourd'hui 17 ans. Tout ce qui suit est la synthèse de son entretien télévisé :

 

Les Yazidis ont été interceptés par quatre miliciens de l'Etat islamique, alors qu'ils fuyaient par la route leur village déchiré par la guerre près de Tel Affar, en Irak. Les hommes ont juré qu'aucun mal ne leur serait fait. Si les Yazidis acceptaient de coopérer et de répondre à quelques questions, ils pourraient même regagner leur village en paix. Interrogée sur le nombre des fuyards, Birvan a évoqué 95 hommes et leurs familles, – « beaucoup, beaucoup de femmes et d'enfants ».

 

Peu après, 17 véhicules de l'Etat islamique sont apparus. Ils étaient « remplis d'hommes » qui se sont montrés agressifs et ont ordonné aux Yazidis de se regrouper. Ils ont ensuite séparé les hommes des femmes. Ils ont emmené les hommes au loin, et Birvan s'est retrouvée séparée de son père, de ses frères et de ses oncles. Les femmes et les enfants ont été bouclés dans différents bâtiments.

 

Les miliciens de l'Etat islamique ont dit qu'ils ne faisaient que conduire les hommes à un autre endroit. Mais dès qu'ils ont été hors de vue, Birvan a entendu d'innombrables coups de feu ; « le bruit de ces détonations ne me quittera jamais ». Plus tard, elle a pu voir le cadavre de son père ; elle n'a jamais revu ses frères et ses oncles, mais elle est persuadée qu'ils ont tous été abattus.

 

Les femmes ont ensuite été transférées dans différents endroits, ne demeurant que quelques jours dans chacun d'eux. Birvan a pu néanmoins demeurer proche de sa mère. Les miliciens de l'Etat islamique venaient régulièrement intimider les femmes, tirant des coups de feu en l'air et hurlant « Allah Akbar » (« Allah est le plus grand »). « Nous étions si terrorisées que nous blottissions les unes contre les autres » dit Birvan.

 

Birvan ajoute que les hommes de l'Etat islamique ont menacé les femmes : « si l 'une d'entre vous tente de s'échapper nous la tuerons… Ma mère me tenait toujours près d'elle, terrifiée à l'idée qu'après avoir perdu son mari, ses enfants et ses frères, elle pourrait aussi me perdre ».

 

Mais le jour de la séparation a fini par sonner ; Birvan et sa mère ont été séparées de force, et les femmes adultes et âgées embarquées pour un autre endroit :

 

« Le moment le plus dur ce fut quand ma main et celle de ma mère, rivées l'une à l'autre, ont été séparées de force. C'était la chose la plus cruelle, non seulement pour moi, mais pour toutes les filles et aussi les enfants. Ils tuaient toute femme qui tentait de résister, ils auraient tiré sur ma mère sans hésiter ».

 

Tous les garçons au-dessus de six ans ont été envoyés dans un camp militaire, sans doute pour être convertis à l'islam et devenir des combattants de l'Etat islamique.

 

Birvan et un groupe de filles et de femmes âgées de 9 à 22 ans ont ensuite déménagé en direction d'un autre lieu de détention, à Mossoul : « Je me rappelle un homme d'environ 40 ans. Il s'est dirigé vers nous et s'est emparé d'une petite fille âgée de 10 ans. Elle lui a résisté et il l'a battue sévèrement en utilisant des pierres. Il aurait ouvert le feu sur elle si ne l'avait pas suivi. Tout a eu lieu contre sa volonté. »

 

A Mossoul, Birvan a trouvé 5 000 filles Yazidis mises en esclavage. « Ils pouvaient venir et prendre une fille contre sa volonté ; si elle refusait, ils pouvaient la tuer sur place ».

 

« Ils avaient l'habitude de venir et d'acheter une fille qui n'avait pas de prix ; je veux dire qu'ils nous disaient, vous les filles Yazidis, vous être sabiya [butin de guerre, esclaves sexuelles], vous êtes vendues sans prix », ce qui signifiait qu'elles n'avaient intrinsèquement aucune valeur et pouvaient être « vendues » ou échangées pour quelques paquets de cigarettes ».

 

« Un homme pouvait rentrer dans la pièce, si on lui plaisait, il disait simplement "allons-y" ».

Le tour de Birvan a fini par venir. Un homme lui a dit « viens ». « J'ai refusé et résisté et il m'a battu sauvagement ». Il a payé pour l'achat de Birvan et l'a trainée de force à son domicile, lequel avait appartenu à une famille Yazidi. Pour survivre, elle lui a donné satisfaction.

 

Quand on lui demande de parler de son maître, elle dit : « il était vraiment immonde, mais vraiment. Si vous l'aviez vu, il n'y avait aucune différence entre lui et un animal. En fait, les animaux ont plus de pitié dans leur cœur que ces [Etat islamique]. »

 

Quand Jaafar Abdul a cherché à obtenir plus de détails sur sa vie quotidienne, Birvan a multiplié les signes de malaise. Elle a fait une pause, répété le mot « viol » à plusieurs reprises. A un moment elle a lâché : « il y avait 48 soldats de l'Etat islamique dans cette maison et nous étions deux filles – deux filles Yazidis – ». Une manière de dire « faites marcher votre imagination ».

 

Une fois, ils ont emmené son amie dans une pièce adjacente : « vous ne pouvez pas avoir le début d'une idée de ce qui s'est passé là ! » Elle a entendu son amie hurler son nom et dire « S'il te plait, aide moi, sauve-moi ! »

 

La seule pensée récurrente qui traversait l'esprit de Birvan était : « Quel mal ces enfants – ou moi-même – avons-nous commis pour mériter ça ?… J'ai perdu mon père et mes frères, et ils m'ont privé de ma mère. Nous étions juste des enfants. Ils prenaient toutes les filles de plus de neuf ans et les violaient ».

 

Birvan a attenté à ses jours à quatre reprises. Une fois, elle a avalé 150 pilules trouvées dans la maison ; de quel médicament s'agissait-il ? Elle ne l'a jamais su. Elle a souffert d'empoisonnement mais n'en est pas morte. Abdul a demandé s'ils l'avaient emmené à l'hôpital. « Quel hôpital ? Ils m'ont juste battu encore plus ».

 

Elle a aussi avalé de l'essence et s'est tailladé les veines. « La vie était un cauchemar » a-t-elle dit.

Elle raconte que les femmes Yazidis étaient contraintes de porter des burqas quand elles s'aventuraient dehors et de cacher qui elles étaient. Ils obligeaient aussi les filles à se vêtir légèrement. « Tout devait leur être facile » dit-elle.

 

Quand on lui demande ce qui rythmait sa vie quotidienne, elle répond : « Chaque jour, je suis morte cent fois et plus. Pas juste une fois par jour. Je mourais à chaque heure qui passait, chaque heure… je mourais des coups, de la misère, de la torture ».

 

Birvan a fini par organiser son évasion – « elle a été possible parce qu'il m'était indifférent d'être rattrapée. M'échapper ou mourir me convenait mieux que de rester là ». D'autres Yazidis et d'autres femmes non musulmanes n'ont pas eu la possibilité de s'enfuir et vivent encore sous la coupe de l'Etat islamique. Elles espèrent que nous viendrons les sauver.

 

 

 

 

LES TERRORISTES ISLAMISTES NE SONT NI PAUVRES

ET ILLETTRES MAIS RICHES ET EDUQUES

Giulio Meotti

24 novembre 2016

 

 

« Il y a un stéréotype selon lequel les jeunes gens originaires d'Europe qui partent pour la Syrie sont les victimes d'une société qui ne les accepte pas et ne leur offre pas suffisamment de possibilités…Un autre stéréotype courant dans le débat en Belgique est que, en dépit de la recherche qui le réfute, la radicalisation est bien trop souvent vue comme un processus qui résulte d'une intégration ratée… J'ose donc dire que plus les jeunes gens sont intégrés, plus ils sont susceptibles de se radicaliser. Cette hypothèse est corroborée par de nombreuses preuves ».

 

C'est le résultat d'une étude néerlandaise extrêmement importante conduite par un groupe d'universitaires de l'université Erasmus de Rotterdam. Les terroristes semblent être des modèles d'intégration réussie : par exemple, Mohammed Bouyeri, le terroriste néerlandais d'origine marocaine qui a tué par balle le réalisateur Théo van Gogh, puis l'a poignardé et lui a tranché la gorge en 2004. « [Bouyeri], c'était quelqu'un de bien éduqué avec de bonnes perspectives. » a déclaré Job Cohen, maire travailliste d'Amsterdam.

 

Cette étude néerlandais a été suivie par une étude en France, qui a ajouté encore d'autres preuves pour appuyer cette thèse qui va à l'encontre du point de vue libéral voulant que pour vaincre le terrorisme l'Europe doit investir dans des opportunités économiques et une intégration sociale. Dounia Bouzar, directrice du « Centre de Prévention, de Déradicalisation et de Suivi Individuel » (CPDSI), organisme français qui traite du radicalisme islamique, a traité le cas de cent soixante familles dont les enfants ont quitté la France pour se battre en Syrie. Les deux-tiers appartenaient aux classes moyennes.

 

Ces constatations mettent à mal le mythe du prolétariat de la terreur. Selon un nouveau rapport de la Banque mondiale « les recrues de l'État islamique sont mieux éduquées que leurs compatriotes. »

La pauvreté et le dénuement ne sont pas, comme l'a dit John Kerry, « la cause première du terrorisme. » En étudiant le profil de trois cent trente et une recrues dans une base de données de l'État islamique, la Banque mondiale a trouvé que 69% d'entre eux ont fait au moins des études secondaires et qu'un quart d'entre eux sont diplômés de l'université. La grande majorité de ces terroristes avaient un travail ou une profession avant de rejoindre l'organisation islamiste. « La proportion des administrateurs mais aussi des combattants suicides augmente avec l'éducation, » selon le rapport de la Banque mondiale. « De plus, ceux qui se portent volontaires pour commettre des attentats suicides appartiennent en moyenne au groupe le plus instruit. »

 

Moins de 2% des terroristes sont illettrés. Cette étude désigne aussi les pays qui fournissent le plus de recrues à l'État islamique : l'Arabie saoudite, la Tunisie, le Maroc, la Turquie et l'Égypte. En examinant la situation économique de ces pays les chercheurs ont découvert que « plus les pays sont riches, plus il est probable qu'ils fourniront des recrues étrangères au groupe terroriste. »

 

Un autre rapport explique que « les pays les plus pauvres au monde n'ont pas de niveau exceptionnel de terrorisme. »

 

Malgré ces preuves, un mantra progressif répète que le terrorisme islamique résulte de l'injustice, la pauvreté, la crise économique et d'un mécontentement social. Rien n'est plus faux. La thèse voulant que la pauvreté engendre le terrorisme est omniprésente aujourd'hui en Occident, allant de l'économiste français, Thomas Piketty au Pape François. Elle est probablement très populaire parce qu'elle joue sur le sentiment de culpabilité collectif de l'Occident, cherchant à rationaliser ce que l'Occident semble avoir du mal à accepter: le fait que ce qui motive les terroristes, ce n'est pas l'inégalité mais la haine de la civilisation occidentale et des valeurs judéo-chrétiennes de l'Occident. Pour Israël, cela se traduit par : que font les Juifs sur cette terre qui, bien qu'elle s'appelle Judée depuis trois milles ans, devrait être donnée, selon nous, aux terroristes palestiniens ? Et il est très probable que ces terroristes se demandent pourquoi ils devraient négocier si, au lieu de cela, tout ce qu'ils veulent peut leur être donné.

 

Pour les nazis, « la race inférieure » (les Juifs) ne méritait pas de vivre mais devait être gazée ; pour les staliniens, les « ennemis du peuple » n'avaient pas le droit de continuer à vivre et devaient mourir en étant soumis à travaux forcés et froid au Goulag ; pour les islamistes, c'est l'Occident lui-même qui ne mérite pas d'exister et qu'ils doivent faire exploser.

 

C'est l'antisémitisme, pas la pauvreté, qui a amené l'Autorité palestinienne à donner à une école le nom d'Abu Daoud, le cerveau du massacre des athlètes israéliens des Jeux Olympiques de Munich.

Les attaques terroristes de Paris, commémorés récemment par la France ont été un coup déclenché par une idéologie qui ne cherche pas à combattre la pauvreté mais à prendre le pouvoir par la terreur. C'est la même idéologie terroriste qui a assassiné les journalistes de Charlie Hebdo et les policiers qui étaient en service pour les protéger ; qui a contraint l'écrivain britannique Salman Rushdie à se cacher pendant une décennie ; qui a tranché la gorge du Pére Jacques Hamel ; qui a massacré des voyageurs dans des transports en commun à Londres, Bruxelles et Madrid ; qui a assassiné des centaines de Juifs israéliens dans des bus et des restaurants ; qui a tué trois mille personnes aux États-Unis le 11 septembre ; qui a assassiné Théo Van Gogh dans une rue d'Amsterdam pour avoir fait un film ; qui a commis des viols en masse en Europe et des massacres dans les villes et les déserts de Syrie et d'Irak ; qui a tué cent trente-deux enfants dans une explosion à Peshawar ; et qui tue régulièrement tant de Nigérians que personne n'y prête attention.

C'est l'idéologie islamiste qui est la cause du terrorisme, pas la pauvreté, la corruption ou le désespoir. C'est eux et pas nous.

 

Toute l'histoire du terrorisme politique est marquée par des fanatiques ayant fait des études supérieures et qui ont déclaré la guerre à leur propre société. Le génocide des Khmers Rouges Communistes est sorti des salles de cours de la Sorbonne à Paris où leur dirigeant, Pol Pot, a étudié les écrits des communistes européens. Les Brigades Rouges en Italie ont été le projet de garçons et de filles privilégiés de la bourgeoisie. Entre1969 et 1985 le terrorisme en Italie a tué quatre-vingt-huit personnes. Fusako Shigenobu, le dirigeant du groupe terroriste l'Armée Rouge Japonaise, était un spécialiste en littérature, avec un haut niveau d'éducation. Abimael Guzman, fondateur du Sentier lumineux au Pérou, l'un des groupes de guérilla les plus féroces de l'histoire, a enseigné à l'université de Ayacucho, où il a conçu une guerre contre « la démocratie des ventres vides. » « Carlos le Chacal, » le terroriste le plus tristement célèbre des années 1970, était le fils de l'un des avocats les plus riches du Venezuela, Jose Altagracia Ramirez. Mikel Albizu Iriarte, un dirigeant des terroristes basques de l'ETA, venait d'une famille fortunée de San Sebastián. Sabri al-Banna, le terroriste palestinien connu dans le monde comme « Abu Nidal,» était le fils d'un riche marchand, né à Jaffa.

 

Certains terroristes britanniques qui ont rejoint l'État Islamique viennent de familles fortunées et ont fréquenté les écoles les plus prestigieuses du Royaume-Uni. Abdul Waheed Majid a fait le long voyage depuis la ville anglaise de Crawley jusqu'à Alep en Syrie où il s'est fait exploser. Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, le cerveau du kidnapping et du meurtre du journaliste Daniel Pearl, était diplômé de la London School of Economics. Kafeel Ahmed, qui est entré au volant d'une jeep pleine d'explosifs dans l'aéroport de Glasgow avait été président de la Société Islamique de l'université de Queen. Faisal Shahzad, le terroriste qui a raté son attentat à Times Square à New York, était le fils d'un haut responsable dans l'armée pakistanaise. Zacarias Moussaoui, le vingtième homme des attentats du 11 septembre, avait un doctorat en économie internationale de l'université londonienne de South Bank. Saajid Badat, qui voulait faire exploser un vol commercial, avait étudié l'optométrie à l'université de Londres. Azahari Husin, le terroriste qui a préparé les bombes de Bali, a fait des études à l'université de Reading.

 

Le MI5 britannique a révélé que « les deux-tiers des suspects britanniques ont un profil de classes moyennes et ceux qui veulent commettre des attentats suicides sont souvent les plus instruits. » La plupart des terroristes britanniques avaient également femme et enfants, ce qui dément un autre mythe, celui faisant des terroristes des ratés sur le plan social. Mohammad Sidique Khan, l'un des terroristes suicides du 7 juillet 2005, a fait des études à l'université de Leeds Metropolitan. Omar Khan Sharif a eu une bourse de King's College avant de commettre un attentat suicide sur la promenade du bord de mer de Tel Aviv en 2003. Sharif ne cherchait pas une rédemption économique mais à massacrer le plus de Juifs possible.

 

Pratiquement tous les dirigeants de groupes terroristes internationaux sont des enfants privilégiés qui ont mené des vies dorées avant de rejoindre les rangs du terrorisme. Quinze des dix-neuf terroristes suicides du 11 septembre venaient de familles importantes moyen-orientales. Mohammed Atta était le fils d'un avocat du Caire. Ziad Jarrah, qui a écrasé le Vol 93 en Pennsylvanie, appartenait à l'une des familles les plus prospères au Liban.

 

Nasra Hassan, qui a dressé un portrait bien informé des auteurs d'attentats suicides palestiniens pour The New Yorker, a expliqué que « sur deux cent-cinquante terroristes suicides aucun n'était illettré, pauvre ou déprimé. » Il semble bien que les chômeurs sont toujours ceux qui sont le moins susceptibles d'être partisans des attentats suicides.

 

L'Europe et l'Amérique ont tout donné à ces terroristes : des possibilités sur le plan éducatif et le plan de l'emploi, des divertissements populaires et des plaisirs sexuels, des salaires, la prospérité et la liberté de culte. Ces terroristes, comme « le terroriste suicide aux sous-vêtements », Umar Farouk Abulmutallab, le fils d'un banquier, n'ont pas connu un seul jour de pauvreté dans leur vie. Les terroristes de Paris ont rejeté les valeurs séculaires de liberté, égalité, fraternité ; les djihadistes britanniques qui ont commis des attentats à Londres et se battent maintenant pour le Califat ont rejeté le multiculturalisme ; l'islamiste qui a tué Théo van Gogh à Amsterdam a rejeté le relativisme néerlandais et le soldat de l'État islamique, Omar Mateen, qui a transformé le Pulse Club d'Orlando en abattoir, a dit qu'il voulait le purger de ce qu'il percevait comme une licence des mœurs libertine et apparemment ses propres désirs homophiles.

 

Si l'Occident ne comprend pas ce qu'est la véritable source de cette haine, mais, au contraire, se laisse aller à invoquer de fausses excuses telles que la pauvreté, il ne gagnera pas cette guerre qui nous est faite.

 

 

Actualité 

 

 

MONTREAL : UN IMAM APPELLE AU MEURTRE DES JUIFS CITANT UN HADITH «Ô MUSULMAN, O SERVITEUR D’ALLAH, IL Y A UN JUIF QUI SE TIENT DERRIERE MOI, VIENS ET TUE-LE»

Europe Israel, 24 mars, 2017

 

Une mosquée montréalaise a fait l’objet d’une plainte des autorités après la découverte d’une vidéo dans laquelle un imam jordanien appelle ouvertement à tuer les Juifs.

 

La mosquée Dar Al-Arqam, située dans le quartier Saint-Michel à Montréal, se retrouve depuis quelques jours au cœur d’une polémique. Une vidéo postée sur le compte YouTube de l’établissement religieux, montre un imam appeler au meurtre des Juifs en plein prêche.

 

Le cheikh jordanien Mohammed Ben Moussa Al-Nasr avait été invité par la mosquée, mais son prêche a dérapé. À un moment donné, l’imam a prononcé une phrase faisant partie d’un hadith [un recueil qui comprend l’ensemble des traditions relatives aux actes et aux paroles du prophète Mohammed] sur les Juifs : «Ô musulman, ô serviteur d’Allah, il y a un Juif qui se tient derrière moi, viens et tue-le».

 

«Ô musulman, ô serviteur d’Allah, il y a un Juif qui se tient derrière moi, viens et tue-le» parole du prophète cité dans les hadiths. Ayant pris connaissance de la vidéo, l’antenne canadienne de l’organisation juive du B’naï Brith a immédiatement porté plainte. Le responsable de l’organisation, Harvey Levine estime qu’il est inacceptable qu’une mosquée puisse inviter en toute liberté un prédicateur tenant des propos qui «incitent à la violence et à la radicalisation».

 

Face au scandale, le président du conseil musulman de Montréal Salam Elmenyawi a insisté sur le fait que la mosquée en question n’appartenait pas au conseil qui représente près de 40 mosquées. Il a également exigé que la mosquée Dar Al-Arqam présente des excuses.

 

Un hadith controversé au cœur de la polémique

 

L’imam Ziad Asali, qui dirige une association caritative islamique, a déclaré au média CBC Montréal qu’il ne comprenait pas comment un prêcheur aussi radical avait pu être invité dans une mosquée montréalaise. «Ces gens propagent la haine non seulement envers les autres communautés, mais également envers la communauté musulmane», s’est-t-il indigné.

 

Interrogé sur le fameux hadith visant les juifs, l’imam Ziad Asali a rappelé que la tradition de la transmission orale des paroles du prophète se basait «sur plus de 100 000 hadiths contenus dans un nombre incalculable de recueils dont certains sont authentiques, d’autres non».

 

Dans tous les cas, «user de la parole du prophète pour répandre la haine est une insulte au prophète lui-même», a-t-il souligné.

 

Depuis plusieurs mois maintenant, la question de l’islam tourmente le Canada qui se targue d’être une société multiculturelle au sein de laquelle chaque culte et opinion religieuse est respecté et où les adeptes de différentes confessions cohabitent pacifiquement.

 

 

 

LES MORTS CIVILS DE LA COALITION N’INTÉRESSENT PERSONNE

JSS, 28 mars 2017

 

 

Il était évident que le terrible carnage qui a eu lieu à Mossoul il y a quelques jours allait être mis sur le dos de Donald Trump.

 

L’essentiel étant de donner une image de tortionnaire à ce nouveau Président qui semble tout rater depuis qu’il tente vainement de prendre quelques dispositions annoncées dans son programme.

 

Les affaires internes aux USA ne devraient pas nous embarrasser plus que ça.

Faux ! Cela prouve les nombreuses embûches que Trump aura à faire face en politique étrangère.

 

L’Amérique bobo a besoin de son fasciste pour justifier leur propre incurie et culpabilité d’avoir méprisé ceux à qui on ne donne jamais la parole, les bouseux , les patriotes, ceux qui voient s’installer jusque dans l’Amérique profonde des hordes venues du désert et instaurant peu à peu un nouvel ordre américain basé sur la charia.

 

Une affaire sensationnelle pour l’Observer, le New York Times, le Gardian (anglais) et bien entendu quelques journaux français comme le Monde et l’Obs en font des tonnes : il s’agit d’un bombardement de la coalition sur un quartier de Mossoul qui aurait fait des centaines de morts civils.

 

Bien entendu, ces médias qui se refont une petite santé financière grâce à Trump : on adore exécuter l’exécutif aux USA et dans la média-bobosphère mondiale, ont largement occulté des détails troublants car ils devraient bien entendu revenir sur leurs colonnes scandaleuses concernant la guerre à Gaza.

 

Les troupes au sol irakiennes qui sont un amalgame de soldats peu ou prou « réguliers », ont la sale habitude d’être tellement pétrifiés de peur par les embuscades qu’ont préparées les djihadistes de Daesch, qu’elles n’hésitent jamais à demander un renfort aérien lorsqu’elles repèrent un SNIPER sur un toit.

 

On ne peut pas dire que la bravoure anime vraiment ces soldats et que ce n’est guère pour demain qu’ils iront engager un bras de fer avec les troupes de Tsahal ! C’est rassurant en soi.

 

Voilà donc nos soldats peureux hurlant et quémandant un appui aérien en plein quartier de Mossoul OUEST parce qu’un allumé djihadiste qui avait préalablement fait entrer des centaines de civils dans le bâtiment où il était perché, tirait plutôt bien et dégommait tous les soldats de la coalition qui osaient s’aventurer dans le quartier d’ al-Jadida.

 

Quelques centaines de morts plus tard, il était évident que les Russes allaient balancer la coalition aux médias histoire de faire oublier que leurs bombardements avaient eux aussi en Syrie anéanti des quartiers entiers et fait des centaines voire des milliers de morts avec la bénédiction de Bachar Al Assad et de l’Iran/Hezbollah.

 

Nous sommes au Moyen-Orient. Cela ne remuera aucune foule dans les quartiers sensibles de France pardi !

 

Même si Bachar a fourni plus d’un demi-million de morts et entre 4 et 5 millions de déplacés dont plus d’un million et demi à l’intérieur de l’Europe, merci Angie Merkel, nous n’aurons pas de séance URGENTE du Conseil de Sécurité à l’ONU et encore moins de déclarations de cette inutile voire antisémite de Federica Mogherini.

 

Non ! Miss Mogherini, parfaitement au courant de ces « dommages collatéraux » en Syrie, ces gazages de population par Al Assad, et ces bombardements de la coalition en Irak, s’en fiche COMPLÈTEMENT.

 

Hier encore, elle persistait à répéter devant un parterre de journaleux en goguette que la guerre au Moyen-Orient ne trouvera d’issue que lorsque le conflit israélo-palestinien sera réglé.

 

Soit cette femme est cinglée et là, il faudrait normalement demander une étude psychiatrique illico-presto, soit son obsession anti-juive doit faire l’objet d’un procès en bonne et due forme. On a assez de matériel, de déclarations de cette politicienne de pacotille à la solde de la Conférence islamique européenne pour la faire comparaître devant la Cour Européenne de Justice.

 

Il serait parfaitement donc parfaitement équilibré, moral de demander la démission pure et simple de Federica Mogherini qui est complètement à côté de la plaque et nuit depuis bien trop longtemps à la bonne marche de l’Union Européenne côté affaires étrangères.

 

Nous avons d’un côté des milliers de « morts-qui-n’ont-pas-eu-de-bol », sciemment tués par une coalition qui répond aux demandes d’une pseudo armée régulière irakienne et à des milices armées djihadistes dont certaines sont avec Bachar et les Russes et d’autres contre.

Personne n’y comprend plus rien mais à ce rythme nous comptabiliserons le million de morts dans les mois à venir.

 

Avec ses mille précautions d’usage pour raisons morales et surtout un nombre jamais atteint dans d’autres conflits de la planète en nombre de journalistes étrangers, Israël qui mena une guerre défensive à Gaza, nous fait un remake de Woodstock !

 

Pourtant, tous les zombies des grandes puissances, aidés par les médias dégoulinant de haine anti-israélienne, se sont pointés en Israël en quémandant un arrêt des frappes aériennes contre des forces armées arabes de Gaza.

 

Sarkozy s’était même fendu d’un petit voyage pour supplier l’état juif de cesser la riposte.

Il n’avait pas osé se pointer à Gaza, ce qui se comprend vu l’état des choses et compte-tenu des assassinats de fervents défenseurs du Hamas et du djihad islamique comme le valeureux journaliste Vittorio Arrigoni.

 

Comme il est étrange que l’affaire Arrigoni n’aie pas intéressé nos braves journaleux occidentaux !

 

Voilà un homme qui veut tout partager à Gaza. Un italien fondu de djihadisme anti-israélien. Amoureux du Hamas et de toutes les têtes à claque barbues des ezzedine al qassam, djihad islamique et autres machins « al qods » !

 

A croire que le pauvre pro-palestiniens qu’était Vittorio Arrigoni, encensé par Ilan Pappé et par toute l’ultra-gauche israélienne pour vivre auprès de ses frères du Hamas et autres salafistes, ne l’ont pas prémuni d’une mort atroce : défiguré par les coups puis étranglé au fil électrique, des joyeusetés bien arabo-musulmanes.

 

Sa moman aussi fervente patriote du Hamas que son défunt fils avait préféré emprunter la route de l’Egypte pour rapatrier le corps mutilé de son enfant afin de ne pas fouler la terre « sioniste ».

 

Personnellement, je trouvais cela plutôt bien. Nous n’aimons pas que notre terre promise soit foulée par des pieds antisémites.

 

Ce fut soit-disant le coup d’un nouveau groupe : TAWHID WAL-JIHAD que personne ne connaissait dans la bande de Gaza mais qui voulait faire son petit coup perso.

 

Pas à nous ! On va pas nous faire le coup du groupe tout beau, tout nouveau pas répertorié par le Hamas. Mouarf !

 

Bon mais tout ça ne nous dit pas si Hollande, Merkel ou même le Conseil de Sécurité de l’ONU vont se bouger rapport aux milliers de morts-qui-n’ont-pas-eu-de-bol !

 

Ah ! Si c’était Israël… nous aurions déjà des manifs partout en Europe et bien sûr aux USA côté californien et New York où les arabo-musulmans sont hyper présents.

 

Que dalle ! Cette fois, on va bien étouffer l’affaire et on ne convoquera personne parce que le seul ennemi de la paix reste malgré le record minable de morts arabes qui l’avaient pourtant bien cherché, reste et restera Israël !

 

Le monde est de plus en plus cinglé et il faut espérer que l’état juif prend bien la mesure de toutes ces duplicités, de ces mensonges pour ne pas refiler trop de trouvailles scientifiques à ces branques.

 

Tant d’injustice devrait faire réagir des gens honnêtes… Faut croire qu’il n’y en a plus dans la médiasphère. Le journalisme est mort et bien mort.

 

 

 

 

 

Shabbat Shalom!
 

 

 

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IN IRAQ, AMID ONGOING SECTARIAN TENSIONS, TRUMP EXPANDS U.S. MISSION TO “OBLITERATE” I.S.

In 2004 Fallujah, a Lesson for 2017 Mosul: Tom Rogan, National Review, Mar. 28, 2017— Every day the coalition conducts air strikes in Mosul.

Sorry — US Involvement is the Only Way to Reduce Civilian Casualties: Benny Avni, New York Post, March 28, 2017—There will be more casualties in the war on ISIS. But minimizing those deaths will take more, not less, American involvement.

‘We Were Never Brothers’: Iraq’s Divisions May Be Irreconcilable: Aziz Ahmad, Wall Street Journal, Mar. 26, 2017— ‘I swear by God we are not brothers,” the Sunni Arab sheik shouted from the audience in response to a conservative Shiite lawmaker’s plea for brotherhood.

Who Will Dominate the Post-Islamic State Landscape in Iraq and Syria?: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 18, 2017— On the surface, the wars in Syria and Iraq are continuing at full intensity.

               

On Topic Links

 

Mosul, Gaza and the World’s Hypocrisy: Ben-Dror Yemini, Ynet, Mar. 28, 2017

Iraq: What Should America Do Next?: Elliot Friedland, Clarion Project, Mar. 20, 2017

Support Our Kurdish Allies in the Middle East: Seth J. Frantzman, National Review, Mar. 9, 2017

Kurdish Factions Turn Guns on Each Other in Yazidi Homeland: John Rossomando, IPT, Mar. 8, 2017

 

 

 

IN 2004 FALLUJAH, A LESSON FOR 2017 MOSUL

          Tom Rogan

National Review, Mar. 28, 2017

 

Every day the coalition conducts air strikes in Mosul. Those strikes support Iraqi and embedded U.S. coalition ground forces by destroying Daesh (ISIS) personnel in their redoubts. Nearly all the bombs hit their targets without any civilian loss.

 

But on March 17, a coalition air strike may have killed more than 100 civilians. An investigation is under way, but the specific cause of the civilian deaths is not yet known. One Iraqi commander has claimed that secondary explosions from an air strike on a Daesh bomb truck might be responsible. Regardless, Iraqi and international outcry is growing. The U.N. has implied that the U.S. is bombing indiscriminately. Human-rights groups are questioning the coalition’s commitment to protecting civilians. And in Iraq, Sunni leaders, including the parliament speaker and the head of a major political bloc, have expressed great concern.

Momentum is building toward a pause or restriction on operations in Mosul. That must not happen. We’ve witnessed a tragedy that demands investigation. But we must not risk victory. After all, although it’s tragic, this incident isn’t surprising … Mosul was always going to be a challenging locale for air strikes. The city is densely populated, and Daesh forces embrace ambush-maneuver tactics alongside human shields. Cumulatively, those factors make efficient targeting an extreme challenge for air controllers.

 

Another problem is Daesh’s perception of civilian casualties as a strategic weapon. When Sunni civilians are killed by coalition or Iraqi forces, Daesh presents their deaths as evidence of America’s desire to maim Iraq. According to Daesh, the deaths prove the Baghdad government’s disdain for its Sunni citizenry. Mosul is key to Iraq’s future. If the city becomes a symbol of Sunni oppression, Prime Minister Abadi’s reconciliation campaign could implode. Daesh and Iran are united in their desire to see such an implosion.

 

Yet pausing or restricting American operations in Mosul would be the wrong move today. Only Mosul’s northwestern sector now remains in Daesh’s hands. Their forces are surrounded and under extraordinary pressure. To hesitate now would give Daesh an opportunity to resupply and regroup, thus prolonging the battle for Iraqi civilians and soldiers, and increasing the political risks to Abadi. At the same time, with Daesh nearly encircled in Raqqah, we have an opportunity to show the group for what it is: an army of losers destined for annihilation rather than divinely ordained victory. Remember, Daesh recruitment in the U.S. and abroad rests on the group’s ability to show credible and growing power. In Mosul and Raqqah that credibility is dying.

 

Iraq’s recent history offers a critical lesson here. Fallujah, April 2004: After the killing of four U.S. contractors there, the U.S. Marines were ordered to seize the city from insurgent forces dominated by al-Qaeda in Iraq (Daesh’s precursor). Marine commanders (including one James Mattis) believed that the operation was a mistake, but they followed orders. Three weeks later, having taken casualties, the Marines were near victory. But just short of victory, sensitive to international complaints that the Marines were too aggressive, the Bush administration ordered a withdrawal. The Marines were replaced by a poorly led Iraqi replacement force that quickly surrendered to the insurgents. In the ensuing months, the al-Qaeda threat from Fallujah only grew. And in November 2004, the Marines had to return to finish the fight. More blood was lost as our troops retook ground that has been taken and then given up.

 

Fallujah should have taught us a lesson about urban operations in Iraq. Once committed, the pursuit of victory must not be diverted by civilian casualties, which are sometimes unavoidable. When America, the coalition, and our Iraqi allies entered Mosul, our objective was Daesh’s defeat and the city’s liberation. That objective remains. We must see it done.                           

                                                                            Contents

                         

                                SORRY — US INVOLVEMENT IS THE ONLY

                                 WAY TO REDUCE CIVILIAN CASUALTIES

Benny Avni

                                                                            New York Post, Mar. 28, 2017

 

There will be more casualties in the war on ISIS. But minimizing those deaths will take more, not less, American involvement. Quietly, President Trump is sending hundreds of additional troops into Syria and Iraq, and is widening US-led air attacks there. The president has also asked Defense Secretary James Mattis to take a more active role in developing the West’s anti-ISIS strategy and in overseeing its implementation, in sharp departure from the micromanagement that characterized President Barack Obama’s war efforts.

 

Such a leadership role is not without its naysayers. In one incident last week, 112 civilian bodies were pulled out of a house in Mosul — Iraq’s second-largest city, where the Iraqi military is fighting under a US air umbrella. The Pentagon has acknowledged a bombing operation in the area. Cue the critics.

 

The Mosul incident fits an “alarming pattern” of US-led airstrikes that “destroyed whole houses with entire families inside,” announced Amnesty International. In Geneva, UN human rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein said air sorties in heavily populated areas “potentially have a lethal and disproportionate impact on civilians.” So are Americans heartless war criminals? Well, as Zeid, a Jordanian, acknowledged, ISIS is using “children, men and women to shield themselves from attack.” Such “cowardly and disgraceful” tactics, he said, include shooting civilians in the back as they flee — “an act of monstrous depravity.”

 

Meanwhile in Syria, according to a widely quoted report by the Russian military, US air attacks destroyed bridges over the Euphrates River and hit a critical dam near ISIS’ stronghold in Raqqa. Such attacks, tut-tutted Russian Gen. Sergei Rudskoi, risk an “ecological catastrophe” and could lead to “numerous” civilian deaths. Pot, meet kettle: Russian jets have razed entire cities on behalf of Moscow’s ally, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Diplomatically, the Russians shield Assad from accountability for his war crimes, including well-documented chemical attacks on civilians. The United States, by the way, denies damaging the dam. In fact, according to some reports, ISIS is trying to score propaganda points by damaging it themselves.

 

Free societies, enjoying a free press and unfettered antiwar protests, are by definition at a disadvantage in modern, urban, asymmetrical warfare. And undoubtedly we must minimize civilian casualties. Yet if America is to do what Trump promised and “obliterate” ISIS, mistakes will be made and innocents will perish — each one a tragedy for which the responsible parties must be held accountable. No war can be free of civilian blood, so expect more of it — and the accompanying criticism.

Those critics will at times be 100 percent right, too. But what’s the alternative? For five years, America mostly sat aside as the defining war of the new century raged in Syria. But our clean hands allowed a bloodbath. More than half a million people, mostly civilians, were killed. Millions more fled their homes, living in refugee camps or risking life and limb to escape to Europe. America’s absence from the war did nothing to limit the toll on civilians. To end it, and ensure it stays ended, America’s presence is needed more than ever.

 

As long as Assad remains in the presidential palace, Syria’s Sunnis will forever seek revenge. If we let Iran and its proxy Hezbollah stay, it will be a staging ground for violence throughout the Middle East. No wonder the Russians, Iranians and other Assad allies hope to keep out the United States and our allies. They (and ISIS) will exaggerate any report of alleged war atrocities, no matter how flimsy. Some of our politicians and the press will bite. They’ll amplify such reports to prove we must stay on the sidelines, as Obama did. But America’s interests were harmed by our self-imposed vacation from history. We lost credibility. Our ability to promote freedom around the globe is now in doubt. Terrorists continued to strike the West, as seemingly victorious ISIS inspired Islamists to take up the “jihad in place.”

 

As the Mideast and its environs burned, we claimed to no longer be the world’s fire department, so no one accused us of committing war atrocities (except for occasional drone strikes in Afghanistan). But that didn’t stop the humanitarian disaster. So yes, if America gets more involved, there will be casualties. Any number of civilian deaths is too many, but there will almost certainly be fewer if the United States belatedly takes the wheel.                                                 

 

Contents                                                              

                                                        ‘WE WERE NEVER BROTHERS’:

IRAQ’S DIVISIONS MAY BE IRRECONCILABLE                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Aziz Ahmad

                                               Wall Street Journal, Mar. 26, 2017

 

‘I swear by God we are not brothers,” the Sunni Arab sheik shouted from the audience in response to a conservative Shiite lawmaker’s plea for brotherhood. The occasion was a conference last summer at the American University of Kurdistan, in Duhok. It was the two men’s first encounter since the fall of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, to Islamic State in June 2014.

 

Conference organizers had hoped for reconciliation, but there was little sign of it. “We were never brothers,” the sheik said. “We’ve always been afraid of each other.” His candor drew nods from the Sunni men seated in front rows. The speakers and audience members condemned one another as failures and exchanged blame for the army’s flight, for embracing Islamic State, and for perpetrating massacres.

 

Sectarian distrust—a problem that has plagued Iraq for much of its modern history and has been amplified since Saddam Hussein’s fall in 2003—was laid bare that day. A country that should have been brought together under the adversity of Islamic State’s rampage seemed to be further apart than ever, with divisions extending far beyond Mosul.

 

Almost a year later, a fragile coalition of Kurdish, Arab and American forces is slowly advancing in Islamic State’s primary stronghold in Mosul. But retaking the city will not unify Iraq. The current Shiite-led political discourse in Baghdad is synonymous with the denial of rights to minorities, including Kurds. Conversely, in Mosul a Sunni Arab majority marginalizes minorities, who in turn accuse Sunnis of supporting ISIS.

 

Sinjar, west of Mosul, is a case in point. When I visited last year I saw no sign of peaceful coexistence. The local security chief, a Yazidi, told me that Sunni Arabs from his village, Kojo, had joined ISIS’s brutal terror against the Yazidis, a religious minority. Men from the al-Metuta tribe helped kill “hundreds,” he said, including 68 members of his own family. “Of course I remember them,” he said. “Those Arab men had a hand in the honor of our women. It’s not possible to live together again.”

 

In meetings with Iraqi officials and community leaders, I’ve seen how Islamic State’s campaign has aggravated animosity across tribal, ethnic and religious lines. Without a political track to address tensions between Sunnis and Shiites or Kurds and Arabs, the day-after scenario remains perilous. Addressing the problems begins by restoring trust. For Mosul, Baghdad is already on the wrong foot. The offensive against ISIS includes a coalition of Shiite militias, despite strong protests from Mosul’s predominantly Sunni provincial council. The new formula must tackle minorities’ fears of marginalization by granting local autonomy, including to Christians persecuted by ISIS militants, and by implementing laws already in place to give Sunnis a stake and isolate extremists.

 

We Kurds can help. We make up a third of the province’s population. For over a year, our Peshmerga fighters were poised for an assault on Mosul, but our persistent calls for a political agreement were ignored. An agreement during the military campaign is still necessary to prevent intercommunal conflict. Such an agreement should outline a path toward governance and offer more than a Shiite-centric alternative. In parallel, there must be an effort to demobilize Shiite militias formed in the aftermath of the war by engaging the Iraqi Shiite spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, for a religious decree. It should also call for the groups’ withdrawal from areas liberated by the Peshmerga.

 

Baghdad should not impose solutions. It should instead lead talks with Turkey and Iran to defuse regional tensions that intersect in Mosul. Iraq’s problem with Turkey can be solved by ending Baghdad’s payments to the anti-Ankara Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known as PKK, in Sinjar and demanding the group’s withdrawal, in line with calls from local officials and the provincial council.

 

More broadly, once the fight is over, there needs to be a political reckoning by Kurds and Arabs about how the Iraqi state can go forward. It’s too late to salvage the post-2003 project; the country has segregated itself into armed enclaves. The Kurdish people suffered a litany of abuses, including genocide, under successive Sunni regimes. More recently, despite a shared history, the Shiite-led government reneged on promises for partnership and revenue sharing. It suspended Kurdistan’s budget and prevents us still from buying weapons. Given that experience, Kurdish loyalty to an Iraqi identity remains nonexistent.

 

For us, complete separation is the only alternative. Our pursuit of independence is about charting a better course from Iraq’s conceptual failure. The path forward should begin from a simple truth: Iraq has already fallen apart, and the country will be better off realigned on the parties’ own terms. A central goal for the U.S. should be to empower the Kurdistan Region. We are a stable, longstanding U.S. ally amid a sea of unrest. We’ve proved to be a valuable partner in the war on terrorism and share common values and a commitment to democracy. The advance on Mosul represents the turn of a chapter that transcends Iraq’s three-year war. It represents a moment of reckoning and an opportunity to consolidate the Kurdistan Region on terms that will de-escalate conflict and safeguard its peoples. 

                                                                                    

 

Contents

 

WHO WILL DOMINATE THE POST-ISLAMIC STATE

LANDSCAPE IN IRAQ AND SYRIA?

Jonathan Spyer

Jerusalem Post, Mar. 18, 2017

 

On the surface, the wars in Syria and Iraq are continuing at full intensity. The fight between Iraqi government forces and Islamic State in western Mosul is proving a slow, hard slog. This week, government forces captured the police directorate and the courts complex in the city, moving toward the denser warren of the Old City. The jihadists are fighting for every inch of ground.

 

Further west, the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) succeeded in cutting the last road from the Islamic State capital of Raqqa to its stronghold in Deir al-Zor. In the fight between the Assad regime and the Sunni Arab rebellion against it, a rebel attempt at a counterattack in the city of Deraa has led to renewed bloodshed. The regime is continuing its attacks on rebel-held Eastern Ghouta east of Damascus, despite a new Russian-brokered cease-fire.

 

But while the tactical contests are continuing, the general direction of events in both the war against Islamic State and the fight between Assad and the rebels is now clear. Islamic State is on its way to ceasing to exist as an entity controlling significant territory. This process is set to continue many months. But having lost tens of thousands of fighters and with the flow of recruits drying up, facing enemies with complete control of the skies and vast superiority in numbers and equipment, Islamic State has no means of reversing the trend.

 

In Assad’s war further west, meanwhile, the rebellion is in retreat, and its eventual eclipse seems a near certainty. The regime, with its Iranian, Russian and Hezbollah allies, is seeking to reduce and destroy isolated rebel-held enclaves in the midst of regime-held territory in western Syria. Hence the attacks on Eastern Ghouta and on al-Wa’er in the Homs area. Once this is done, the pro-regime forces may well turn their attention to southwest Syria and eventually also to rebel-held Idlib province in the north. The regime is also now engaging in the war against Islamic State. Government forces reached the Euphrates River this week, after sweeping through Islamic State-held territory in the east Aleppo countryside.

 

As the direction of events becomes clear, so the possibility emerges of the Iran-led alliance achieving an overall victory in the Syria and Iraq wars. Such a victory would, on the face of it, constitute an achievement for Assad. But the Syrian dictator’s own forces are entirely dependent for advances on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah, Iraqi Shi’a militia forces and paramilitary formations created by the Iranians to address the regime’s manpower shortages over the last five years. That is, the real power behind such a victory would be Iran-arranged forces on the ground. These, in turn, are capable of moving forward only in cooperation with Russian air power, as events in Aleppo and the northwest have shown. Such an outcome is still distant and by no means certain. But it is no longer an impossibility, and Israeli and US planners will be noting its feasibility, and seeking ways to prevent it or reduce its impact.

 

What would such a victory look like? It would include the following elements. First, the Assad regime would succeed in terminating or severely reducing the remaining areas held by the Sunni Arab rebels and Islamists in the western part of the country. Second, following the destruction of Islamic State-held areas in eastern Syria, regime forces supported by Russian air power would succeed in heading eastward, challenging or co-opting Kurdish and remaining rebel forces in the area, and reaching the Syrian-Iraqi border.

 

Third, following the reduction or destruction of Islamic State in Nineveh province, the Iraqi Shi’a militias organized in the framework of the Popular Mobilization Units would remain under arms, becoming a permanent feature of the Iraqi political and military landscape. The Iraqi parliament in late November passed a law making the PMU a permanent part of the Iraqi security forces. The 100,000 fighters of the PMU do not consist solely of pro-Iranian elements. But the main militias and de facto command structures are in the hands of pro-Iranian forces. Most significantly, the Badr Corps of Hadi al-Ameri and the Kata’ib Hezbollah group of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis are directly linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

 

The militias are now located west of Mosul city, close to the town of Tel Afar. If regime forces push eastward, they will link at the border with their comrades of the PMU, creating a massive contiguous area of de facto Iran-controlled territory all the way from deep inside Iraq across Syria and into Lebanon. That is what victory for the Iran-allied side in the wars in Syria and Iraq would look like. How might it be prevented?

 

Advances for the Iranian side are possible only with the support of Russian air power. And Russian goals in Syria (Iraq is less significant for Moscow) do not necessarily dovetail with Tehran’s. Iran wants total victory, the reunification of Syria under Assad’s nominal control, and the emergence of the Iran-led Shi’a militias as the key power-holders in Iraq. Moscow had and has far more limited goals. The Russians in Syria wanted to prevent Assad’s defeat, secure their naval assets on the Mediterranean and make themselves the main broker in the subsequent frozen or semi-frozen conflict.

 

There is a large gap between these two agendas, and working on and widening it should be foremost in the minds of both Western and Israeli policy-makers. The Russians need to understand that while their own perceived vital interests in Syria can be accommodated, the far more ambitious Iranian agenda in the area crosses Western and Israeli redlines, and therefore will not be allowed to achieve its goals. Without the Russians, Western and Israeli efforts to contain and turn back the Iranians can proceed apace.

 

This can be achieved through a combination of diplomatic efforts and facts on the ground. Regarding the former, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on his visit to Russia, will presumably be making clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin that Israel’s security redlines regarding an Iranian and Hezbollah creation of a new conflict line east of Quneitra crossing, and regarding the need to prevent permanent Iranian bases in western Syria, are serious, will be pursued, and can be achieved with no threat to Russian vital interests…

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

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Mosul, Gaza and the World’s Hypocrisy: Ben-Dror Yemini, Ynet, Mar. 28, 2017— Hundreds of women and children were killed in west Mosul last week.

Iraq: What Should America Do Next?: Elliot Friedland, Clarion Project, Mar. 20, 2017—“We are in the last chapter, the final stages to eliminate ISIS militarily in Iraq,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a video message before leaving to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump. As the fight against ISIS wraps up, what should America do next?

Support Our Kurdish Allies in the Middle East: Seth J. Frantzman, National Review, Mar. 9, 2017—For two years U.S. forces have been working closely with Kurds in the war against the Islamic State. This cooperation began in northern Iraq with the peshmerga, the armed forces of the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, and has been extended to include Americans fighting alongside the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.

Kurdish Factions Turn Guns on Each Other in Yazidi Homeland: John Rossomando, IPT, Mar. 8, 2017—Yazidis living in Iraq's Sinjar region are on edge in the wake of fighting last week between rival Kurdish factions. Some Yazidis joined in the fighting against Peshmerga belonging to Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

 

 

MEDIA-OCRITY OF THE WEEK: LONDON ATTACKER'S MOTIVE STILL A MYSTERY, POLICE SAY: “Police in Britain say they may never know why Khalid Masood killed four people and injured 50 in last week’s terrorist attack in London…“We must all accept that there is a possibility we will never understand why he did this. That understanding may have died with him.” said Neil Basu, the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and senior national co-ordinator for U.K. Counter Terrorism Policing.” — Paul Waldie. (Globe & Mail, Mar. 26, 2017)

 

Contents: | Weekly QuotesShort Takes   |  On Topic Links

 

On Topic Links

 

WATCH: Hillel Neuer Of UN Watch Rips Human Rights Abusers Condemning Israel (Video): Israellycool, Mr. 22, 2017

London Parliament Attack was Straight out of the ISIS Playbook: Paul Sperry, New York Post, Mar. 26, 2017

Just How out of Touch is BDS?: Michael Rubin, Commentary, Mar. 23, 2017

How Long Until my Honest Criticism of Islamism Constitutes a Speech Crime in Canada?: Barbara Kay, National Post, Feb. 7, 2017

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“Israel is committed to working with President Trump to advance peace with the Palestinians and with all our neighbors…I want to thank the President for his strong support of Israel…We confront the same enemies and we defend the same values…These are the things that bring Americans and Israelis together and so does the pursuit of peace. Israel’s hand and my hand is extended to all our neighbors in peace.” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a video speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual policy conference. (Jerusalem Online, Mar. 27, 2017)

 

“When it comes to the great challenges facing Israel and the United States, for the first time in many years, perhaps in many decades, there is no daylight between our two governments.” — Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer at the AIPAC conference. The greatest regional threat facing Israel and the US in the Middle East, Dermer stated, remains Iran. “We both recognize that the [July 2015] nuclear deal does not block Iran’s path to the bomb and that Iran’s appetite for aggression and terror has only grown since that deal was signed and sanctions were removed,” Dermer said. “We also recognize,” Dermer continued, “that the worst outcome that could emerge from the horrific violence in Syria would be to effectively cede parts of Syria to Iran and Hezbollah.” Furthermore, Dermer noted, “the rising tide of militant Islam which has engulfed the Middle East has also enabled a rare moment of opportunity to bring Israel and many in the Arab world closer together. In working together to thwart common dangers, there is a real prospect of building a genuine path towards reconciliation in the region — a path not based on empty hopes and dangerous illusions, but a path based on a clear-eyed understanding of shared threats as well as a common desire for a safer, more prosperous and more peaceful future.” (Algemeiner, Mar. 26, 2017)

 

“The days of Israel-bashing are over…For anyone who says you can’t get anything done at the UN, they need to know there is a new sheriff in town.” — US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, at the AIPAC conference. “I’m not there to play games and what I wanted to make sure of is that the United States started leading again,” Haley said. “I wear heels, it’s not for a fashion statement, it’s because if I see something wrong we’re gonna kick ’em every time,” she said. Referring to the UN’s anti-Israel bias, Haley noted, “I knew they said it was bad, but until you hear it and you see it, you just can’t comprehend.” Haley called the Obama administration’s abstention from the December 2016 UN Security Council vote on the anti-Israeli settlement Resolution 2334 “embarrassing” and “hurtful…Everyone at the United Nations is scared to talk to me about Resolution 2334…That happened, but it will never happen again.” The former South Carolina governor pledged there would be “no more freebies” for the PA until it returned to the negotiating table. Haley also criticized the Iran nuclear deal, saying all it did was “empower” the Tehran regime. (Algemeiner, Mar. 27, 2017)

 

“If you had a benign regime in Iran, all of the problems in the Middle East would be resolvable… We have to push back hard.” — ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Blair expressed his view that a “new way forward” was needed. “We’re not going to reach peace in the old way,” Blair said. “Up to now, people thought if you do a peace deal, then the circumstances will change. I think it’s the other way around…What I would like to see…is a new alliance in the Middle East — a strategic partnership with the leadership of the United States of America, in which we say this is what the battle in the Middle East is about. It’s against extremism, in favor of mutual respect across boundaries, race, faith and culture. And if we want the Middle East to succeed, we need to base this new partnership not just on interests, but on basic human values of dignity, respect and tolerance for all,” Blair said. (Algemeiner, Mar. 26, 2017)

 

“If [the] US creates a situation that continuation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action would damage Tehran’s national interest, then Iran is completely ready to come back to the situation it had prior to the JCPOA even more powerfully than before.” — Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif. Zarif said Iran was “committed to the promises it has made” and that the regime’s supreme leader had stipulated that Iran “is not to break them.” But, he warned, it could do so very quickly if the agreement falls through, and the restored nuclear program would be more advanced that the one mostly frozen by the deal. “During the past couple of months, with the efforts made by skilled Iranian scientists and experts, we have succeeded [in making] operational the most advanced centrifuges, that were just an idea at the time of approving the JCPOA,” Zarif said. The new centrifuges “would enrich uranium 20 times faster and more efficiently,” and that “the technical know-how has now been indigenized.” He accused the US of failing to fulfill its commitments under the deal, but said “pursuing the JCPOA is still justifiable for Iran” for economic reasons. (Times of Israel, Mar. 21, 2017)

 

“Hamas will continue in the path of Yassin for the liberation of all of Palestine — we will not surrender even a morsel (of the land).” — Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar. Speaking at an event marking the anniversary of the death of Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike in 2004 in Gaza City, Yahya Sinwar said Hamas would not allow the State of Israel to exist on even a “morsel” of land. Despite drafting a new manifesto as part of an attempt to moderate the terror group’s image, Hamas has not changed its commitment to Israel’s elimination. Although the new platform raises the possibility of a temporary Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, it will not formally replace Hamas’s 1988 founding covenant, which calls for the destruction of Israel and for “confronting the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews through jihad” and argued that “Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Muslim people.” (Times of Israel, Mar. 22, 2017)

 

"Another of the husband's rights is not to be refused when he summons his wife to bed. If the husband wants her, she must consent, in order to protect his faith from the temptations that lurk everywhere…In order for both husband and wife to avoid Allah's curses, the wife must obey her husband and fulfill his needs…The (husband) has another right over his wife: She must not go out of the house without his permission. This is the husband's right according to the shari'a. What about the state law? I am not talking about that now. You are a woman who married according to the shari'a, so if your husband tells you not to leave the house–don't leave the house! 'How come he's allowed to prevent me?' you ask…That's one of his rights. Allah granted him this right. So don't leave the house without his permission!" — Montreal Imam Wael Al-Ghitawi, in a lecture posted on the YouTube channel of Montreal’s Al-Andalous Islamic Center. (Memri, June 16, 2016)

 

“There is nothing irrational in having a reasoned or limited fear towards a group publicly committed to terrorism, and self-declared perpetrators of it, in the name of Islam. Nor is there bigotry, Islamophobia, in seeing the declared connection with Islam in these kinds of terror acts. If there is an Islamic connection, and it is declared, even insisted upon, by the actors themselves, it is surely not phobic both to see the connection, and heed the declaration. Then too, there is the rhetorical or forensic deployment of the term. A person who criticizes Islam, or who reasonably makes a connection between current terrorism and certain groups within Islam will, in some circles, very quickly be labelled Islamophobic. No one likes to be called a bigot, and thus people — under fear of such a charge, mute their speech, trim their thoughts and withhold honest criticism because of the weight of this word, Islamophobe, being placed on their shoulders. Plainly put, sometimes the charge of Islamophobia is merely a harsh and dishonest way of shutting down an argument, or expelling all discussion. Who argues with bigots?” — Rex Murphy. Canada’s parliament has approved M-103, a nonbinding motion that calls on the government to “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination,” by a margin of 201-91. (National Post, Mar. 24, 2017)

 

“Opponents of Donald Trump, of which Jews comprise a significant percent, continue to work to undermine the president and his administration. Jews have traditionally been in the forefront of social and political activity, and the current wave of anti-Trump animus is no exception. Jewish elected officials, labor leaders, educators and religious leaders are energetically involved in opposing Donald Trump. Thus it is refreshing to read an opinion piece in today's New York Post by a Jewish woman, who wrote an open letter to "Rabbis of liberal congregations in New York City." In her letter, she states correctly that the latest spree of anti-Semitic threats were laid at the door of Donald Trump, however incorrectly, holding him and his right-wing appointees responsible. However, as has been proven during the past few weeks including two days ago, those arrested for the threats do not fit the profile of the assumed perpetrators, that is, right-wing, white supremacists. One turned out to be a left-wing Hispanic man, and another is an American-Israeli Jewish teenager. With this in mind, the letter ends with the statement, we "need to take anti-Semitism and threats to our community spaces seriously." It continues, "But this didn't begin with Donald Trump, and it won't end with him. Now is the time to admit this and to stand together in opposition to anti-Semitism. It's time for Jewish leaders to disentangle their justified concern for the safety of Jews from their desire for a different president. Weakening Jewish unity and politicizing threats to Jews won't do anyone much good." — Americans For a Safe Israel. (AFSI, Mar. 24, 2017)

 

“Taken together — and suspending judgment on which side is right on any particular issue — it is deeply encouraging that the sinews of institutional resistance to a potentially threatening executive remain quite resilient. Madison’s genius was to understand that the best bulwark against tyranny was not virtue — virtue helps, but should never be relied upon — but ambition counteracting ambition, faction counteracting faction. You see it even in the confirmation process for Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s supremely qualified and measured Supreme Court nominee. He’s a slam dunk, yet some factions have scraped together a campaign to block him. Their ads are plaintive and pathetic. Yet I find them warmly reassuring. What a country — where even the vacuous have a voice. The anti-Trump opposition flatters itself as “the resistance.” As if this is Vichy France. It’s not. It’s 21st-century America. And the good news is that the checks and balances are working just fine.” — Charles Krauthammer. (National Post, Mar. 24, 2017)

 

Contents

 

 

SHORT TAKES

 

ISRAELI-AMERICAN TEEN ARRESTED IN ISRAEL FOR JCC BOMB THREATS (Jerusalem) — A Israeli teenager who also has U.S. citizenship was arrested on suspicion of carrying out more than 100 bomb threats on Jewish institutions in the U.S. Israel arrested the 19-year-old suspect at his home in on Thursday. He also is accused of a series of threats made in Europe, Australia and New Zealand in the past six months. He also is reported to have called in threats to the Israel Police two months ago regarding Israeli educational institutions. His motives are unknown, according to reports. The teen’s attorney said that the teen has had a brain tumor since the age of 14, and has been homeschooled since then.  The teen reportedly used advanced technology and voice-altering equipment to call in the threats to more than 100 JCCs, Jewish day schools and other Jewish institutions. (JTA, Mar. 23, 2017)

 

HAMAS CLOSES GAZA-ISRAEL BORDER IN RESPONSE TO COMMANDER’S KILLING (Gaza) — Hamas closed the border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel following the assassination of Mazan Fukha, one of its commanders. The border crossing was closed Sunday in an effort to prevent the assassin or assassins from leaving Gaza. Hamas reportedly also closed the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.  Fukha was assassinated on Friday night outside of his Gaza home, according to reports. Hamas is blaming Israel’s Mossad spy agency for his death. Fukha, who Israel says founded Hamas in the West Bank and helped coordinate terror attacks against Israelis, was jailed in Israel after being found responsible for suicide attacks that killed hundreds of Israelis during the second Intifada. He was released from prison in Israel in 2011 as part of the massive Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange. (JTA, Mar. 26, 2017)

 

U.S. ‘PROBABLY HAD A ROLE’ IN MOSUL DEATHS, COMMANDER SAYS (Mosul) — The senior U.S. commander in Iraq said on Tuesday that an American airstrike most likely led to the collapse of a building in Mosul that killed scores of civilians this month. But the commander indicated that an investigation would also examine whether the attack might have set off a larger blast from explosives set by militants inside the building. Iraqi forces have been eager for the help of U.S. air power as they take on the toughest phase of battle to retake Mosul. Officials have said that 500 Iraqi troops were killed and about 3,000 wounded in taking the eastern half of the city. (New York Times, Mar. 28, 2017)

 

EGYPT'S MUBARAK RELEASED (Cairo) — Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak returned home following his release from custody after legal proceedings that took years since his 2011 ouster. The 88-year-old Mubarak was acquitted by Egypt's top appeals court on March 2 of charges that he ordered the killing of protesters during the 2011 popular uprising that led to his ouster. The order to release Mubarak was the latest in a series of court rulings in recent years in Egypt that acquitted some two dozen Mubarak-era cabinet ministers, top police officers and aides charged with graft or in connection with the killing of some 900 protesters during the uprising. (CBC, Mar. 24, 2017)

 

250 FEARED DEAD IN NEW MIGRANT BOAT SINKING (Athens) — 250 people are feared to have drowned after a migrant ship sank in the Mediterranean. A rescue boat found two partially submerged rubber dinghies off Libya. Despite rough winter seas, migrant departures from Libya on boats chartered by people traffickers have accelerated in recent months from already-record levels. Over 5,000 people have been picked up by rescue boats since last week, bringing the number brought to Italy since the start of 2017 to over 21,000, a sharp rise on the same period in previous years. By the end of 2016 more than 4,000 men, women and children have died in the Mediterranean, according to international organizations, as Europe continues to struggle with its worst migration crisis since World War II. (I24, Mar. 23, 2017)

 

MAN IN ANTWERP, BELGIUM, TRIES TO DRIVE INTO CROWD (Antwerp) — A French resident tried to drive over pedestrians on a crowded shopping street in the Belgian city of Antwerp on Thursday, and a rifle and several knives were found in the vehicle. With tensions already high in Europe after a similar attack involving a vehicle near Parliament in London, Belgian prosecutors identified the suspect only as Mohamed R., in keeping with traditional practice — a 39-year-old French resident of North African ancestry. No injuries were reported. It was one day after Belgium observed the first anniversary of the deadliest attack on its soil, when suicide bombers in Brussels assaulted the main airport and a subway station, killing 32 people. (New York Times, Mar. 23, 2017)

 

JEWS OUTRAGED AT ANTISEMITIC IMAM’S SERMON IN MONTREAL (Montreal) — Police are investigating the Dar Al-Arqam Mosque in Montreal’s Saint-Michel neighborhood which last December hosted an Imam who preached the killing of Jews. The outrage erupted after the video carrying the Imam’s sermon surfaced online. The video was posted to the mosque’s YouTube channel, and shows Jordanian scholar Sheikh Muhammad bin Musa Al Nasr, an invited guest at the mosque, reciting in Arabic the verses from the by now renowned hadith where trees and stones say: “O Muslim, O servant of Allah, O Muslim, O servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” The hadith describes the end of times, when stones and trees will ask Muslims to kill Jews. (Jewish Press, Mar. 26, 2017)

 

M.B. FRONT GROUP SEEKING REMOVAL OF LISTING AS A "TERRORISM ENTITY" (Ottawa) — The International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy (IRFAN) has been listed as a terrorism entity in Canada since 2014. It was also identified as a Muslim Brotherhood front group during testimony to the Canadian Senate. The listing as a terrorism entity followed the revocation of their charitable status after a multi-year investigation showed that IRFAN had been funding Hamas. IRFAN was the successor organization to the Jerusalem Fund for Human Services which had also been funding Hamas. On February 24, IRFAN applied to the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review of the decision to maintain the terrorist entity listing. (Gatestone Institute, Mar. 27, 2017)

 

UK CHANGES STANCE ON ISRAEL AT UN (Geneva) — In an unprecedented move, Prime Minister May’s government changed the UK’s vote at the U.N. Human Rights Council on what it called a “perverse” resolution condemning Israel for allegedly maltreating the Druze residents of the Golan Heights. In past votes on the same text — introduced annually by Syria’s Assad regime, and more recently by the Islamic group acting as a surrogate — the UK had abstained, together with EU states. The UK also declared that if the UNHRC doesn’t change its anti-Israel bias, they will begin to vote No on all five of the annual resolutions concerning Israel. (UNWatch, Mar. 28, 2017)

 

US HOUSE AND SENATE INTRODUCE BILLS AGAINST BOYCOTTS OF ISRAEL (Washington) — Republican and Democratic leaders in both houses of Congress introduced legislation that would penalize governmental organizations and foreign countries seeking to boycott, divest and sanction the State of Israel. The bill would amend the Export Administration Act of 1979 to include in its prohibitions on boycotts against “allies of the United States” those fostered by NGOs against Israel. The bill states that US policy will be to oppose the UNHRC resolution of March, 2016, “which urges countries to pressure their own companies to divest from, or break contracts with, Israel, and calls for the creation of a ‘blacklist’ of companies that either operate, or have business relations with, entities that operate beyond Israel’s 1949 armistice lines, including east Jerusalem,” it reads. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 26, 2017)

 

IRAN SLAMS 15 U.S. COMPANIES WITH SANCTIONS (Tehran) —Iran announced that 15 U.S. companies have been sanctioned due to their relations with Israel. According to the statement released by Iran’s Foreign Ministry, the companies support Israel and the “terrorist actions of the country’s government.”  The ministry stated that the companies’ assets in Iran will be seized and Tehran will refuse to approve visa requests for the employees of the companies. The companies that will be affected by the sanctions include Raytheon, Daniel Defense, Re/Max and Oshkosh. However, this decision is largely symbolic because these companies do not do business with Iran. (Jerusalem Online, Mar. 26, 2017)

 

SUPPORT AMONG ISRAELI JEWS FOR WEST BANK PULLOUT DECREASING (Jerusalem) — Support among the Israeli Jews for a withdrawal from the West Bank and the establishment of a Palestinian state is decreasing. The poll — conducted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs — found that only 36 percent of Israeli Jews back a pullout from the West Bank as part of an agreement, compared to 60% in 2005. Support for the “Clinton Parameters” — described as a “demilitarized Palestinian state without settlement blocs, full Palestinian security control of the West Bank, Jerusalem divided and the capital of both states, the Temple Mount in the hands of the Palestinians, while Israel receives the Western Wall” — has dropped to 29%, from 59% in 2005. (Algemeiner, Mar. 28, 2017)

 

BIZARRE STUNT AT AUSCHWITZ CARRIED OUT BY ANTI-WAR ACTIVISTS (Warsaw) — A Polish prosecutor says that 11 people who slaughtered a sheep at Auschwitz last week, stripped naked and chained themselves together were peace activists protesting wars across the world. The bizarre stunt at the former Nazi German death camp, which also involved unfurling a banner with the word "Love," occurred by the gate with the infamous inscription "Arbeit Macht Freit" (Work Will Set You Free). The stunt was carried out by four women and seven men aged 20-43. (Fox News, Mar. 29, 2017)

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

WATCH: Hillel Neuer Of UN Watch Rips Human Rights Abusers Condemning Israel (Video): Israellycool, Mr. 22, 2017 —It had to be said. And when it was, it was said really well.

London Parliament Attack was Straight out of the ISIS Playbook: Paul Sperry, New York Post, Mar. 26, 2017—Using vehicles to mow down pedestrians, as horrified Londoners witnessed Wednesday, is a terrorist tactic right out of the ISIS playbook. Instead of driving heavy trucks, the terror group’s followers are now using smaller vehicles with similar devastating effect — making it even harder to detect and foil such brutal attacks.

Just How out of Touch is BDS?: Michael Rubin, Commentary, Mar. 23, 2017—Even if they have suffered some recent setbacks among academic umbrella groups, the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is an increasingly loud presence on university campuses and among activist organizations in Washington, D.C.

How Long Until my Honest Criticism of Islamism Constitutes a Speech Crime in Canada?: Barbara Kay, National Post, Feb. 7, 2017—Words matter.  We’ve heard the dictum often since the Quebec City mosque massacre. Yes, they do. In fact, the statement “words matter” matters. In my experience it is either a rebuke to those who argue for the widest possible latitude in speech freedoms, or a preamble to proposing speech limitations.

 

 

PUTIN & BIBI STRENGTHEN TIES AMID RUSSIA’S INCREASING REGIONAL PRESENCE

A New Russian Order: Boaz Bismuth, Israel Hayom, Mar. 24, 2017— When Russia joined us here in the Middle East in September 2015, it had three clear goals…

How Worried are Israel’s Leaders About Putin’s Syrian Warning?: Yossi Melman, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 23, 2017—Contradictory reports, most of them unconfirmed and unofficial, have emerged in recent days regarding Israeli-Russian understandings over the war in Syria.

Is Putin Bibi's New 'Bestie'?: Arad Nir, Al-Monitor, Mar. 6, 2017— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves March 9 for Moscow, where he will have a quick meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

How Russia Is Turning Syria into a Major Naval Base for Nuclear Warships (and Israel Is Worried): Michael Peck, National Interest, March 18, 2017— During the 1970s, the Syrian naval base of Tartus became a major port servicing warships of the Soviet Union’s Fifth Mediterranean squadron.

               

On Topic Links

 

The Prospect for Russia's Jews: Maxim D. Shrayer, Mosaic, Mar. 6, 2017

The Calamity of 1917: Max Boot, Commentary, Mar. 14, 2017

Russia Seeks Another Mediterranean Naval Base in Libya: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, JCPA, January 22, 2017

So Long as it Doesn’t Fail Spectacularly, Trump’s Foreign Policy Just Might Work: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Feb. 24, 2017

 

 

 

A NEW RUSSIAN ORDER

                   Boaz Bismuth

Israel Hayom, Mar. 24, 2017

 

When Russia joined us here in the Middle East in September 2015, it had three clear goals: It wanted to save the collapsing regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad; minimize the Americans' role in Syria (and possibly in the Middle East as a whole); and simultaneously lead the war against the Islamic State group, which posed and still poses a threat to Western capitals after a series of deadly terrorist attacks.

 

In the year and a half since then, it is safe to say that the Russian objectives have largely been met. Russia is now the main player in the new Syrian order. Assad is raising his head enough to consider refurnishing the presidential residence in Damascus and even a project to rebuild Aleppo. Talks on the future of Syria, to which Russia, Turkey and Iran are all parties, are underway in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, not in Vienna. The center of gravity has shifted to Asia, and Washington is barely even in the picture — the U.S. is still pondering whether to support the Kurds in their rebellion against Assad and their dreams of independence, or Turkey, America's NATO ally, which opposes the concept of independence for Kurdistan. The Russians don't have these problems.

 

Thanks to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Assad can grin at his reflection in the mirror every morning as he grooms his little mustache. In 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande planned to attack the regime in Damascus after Assad used chemical weapons on his people for the 14th time since the civil war broke out in 2011. As we know, no steps were ultimately taken against Syria because Obama forgot the meaning of "red lines."

 

Obama and Cameron are already history, and Hollande is counting down the days before he leaves office, with very unflattering polls keeping him from running for president again. There's no doubt that Assad was saved thanks to this trio, and now thanks to Putin, as well. The big question now is where Russia is headed and what it wants in the Middle East. We need to remember that the Russians are at a crossroads, not least because of last week's missile launch that led to the Israeli ambassador to Moscow being summoned and reprimanded.

 

Paradoxically, to achieve peace, Russia needs both Israel and the U.S. This might be the reason why, even as the Israeli ambassador was called in, we saw no criticism of Israel in the Russian media. They wanted to put the whole thing behind them as quickly as possible. Despite gains in Syria, there are still limits on Russia. Assad and Iran do not exactly sound obedient, so we need not take every utterance of Assad's as if it was dictated by Moscow. Not every Iranian step or action in Syria is to Russia's liking, either. In fact the opposite is true — it's quite possible that Russia, like Israel, has an interest in curtailing Iran's activity in Syria. Israel is worried about the creation of a de facto border with Iran to the north. For the Russians, meanwhile, Tehran can be more than a minor annoyance, if only because of demographics.

 

Some even see Russia as a Muslim nation. Islam arrived in Russia 1,300 years ago, and over 15% of the people living in Russian territory are Muslims. There are over 10,000 mosques there, including a major one in Moscow. Russian Muslims are not happy about the burgeoning romance between Moscow and the Shiite axis of Assad-Iran-Hezbollah. Russia might be winning in the short- to mid-term, but in the long term, it's not certain that its bet on the Shiites will pay off. Moscow has good reason to fear another Arab Spring in the Caucasus and the rest of the secular territories, which is why Russia cannot allow Iran to take hold of any territory in Syria, Iraq or Lebanon, as Iran dreams of doing. This might be why Russia and Israel have no problem finding common ground on the Iranian issue.

 

"Aside from the attempt to keep the Assad regime alive, Russia and Iran don't necessarily have the same strategic interests in Syria," says Dr. Sarah Fainberg, a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies. "Russia has an interest in checking the expansion of the Shiite axis. Precisely because of this, Russia is positioning itself as a referee between Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel. But we should take into account the suspicion that exists between Russia and Iran, which limits the Russians' ability to dictate what the Iranians will do," Fainberg says.

 

Fainberg thinks Russia is ambivalent about Hezbollah: On the one hand, it understands the Israeli concerns about the organization gaining strength in Syria, and on the other, it sees the Shiite group as another source of support in preserving the Assad regime and in the war against Islamic State, as well as a legitimate political factor in Lebanon. This is exactly why the Russians need President Donald Trump's United States — they need America's help to limit Iran's status in the Middle East. In the meantime, almost all the players, including Russia, are waiting to see what Trump's next move will be…

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

 

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                           HOW WORRIED ARE ISRAEL’S LEADERS

                               ABOUT PUTIN’S SYRIAN WARNING?

                                                     Yossi Melman

                                               Jerusalem Post, Mar. 23, 2017

 

Contradictory reports, most of them unconfirmed and unofficial, have emerged in recent days regarding Israeli-Russian understandings over the war in Syria. The reports follow Jerusalem’s admission that its warplanes last Friday attacked missiles being transfered via Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The rare admission, which was contrary to the traditional Israeli policy of ambiguity, of neither confirming nor denying past strikes, triggered a chain of events in which, just hours after the attack, Israel’s ambassador in Moscow was urgently summoned to Russia’s Foreign Ministry and asked to provide explanations.

Media reports suggested that President Vladimir Putin, who is the sponsor and savior of the Syrian regime, expressed anger, while Syria’s ruler, Bashar Assad, boasted to Russian lawmakers that Putin had promised to rein in Israel. Israeli commentators wrote the operational freedom hitherto enjoyed by the IAF is over. Judging from statements by Israeli leaders and military commanders over the past two days, it seems they are not seriously worried. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a state visit to China, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot remained undeterred, delivering, more or less, the same message to the effect that Israel will continue pursuing its national security interests and defend its redlines in Syria.

Israeli policy is noninterventionist, with three exceptions. One is that the IDF retaliates from air and land whenever shells and rockets hit on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, regardless of whether it was targeted intentionally. Another is the establishment of terrorist networks near the Israeli border; attempts to do so have resulted in the assassination of Syrian, Iranian and Hezbollah commanders. The third and most important exception is the occasional bombing, without admission, of convoys carrying and warehouses storing long-range, accurate missiles sent from Iran via Syria that are destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Since 2013, some 20 such incidents have been recorded by the media based on Syria’s official statements and rare Israeli claims of responsibility.

Since Moscow deployed its forces in Syria 18 months ago, Israel added another factor to the equation; it reached understandings with Russia in order to know each other’s interests and avoid mistakes and even dog fights between their two air forces. These understandings are formulated in the creation of direct lines of communication between the intelligence and air forces of the two countries, and are known as a “deconflicting mechanism.” The unrattled reaction by top political and military brass indicate that they know better, especially Liberman, who is considered to be close to and have a good understanding of the Putin administration. It is very likely that Putin is playing a two-sided game – he understands the Israeli concerns and interests, but when Israel confirms that it has attacked Syria, he has no choice but to publicly denounce it.

However, on top of the understandings with Russia and the redlines, there is now one more important Israeli interest – to prevent the deployment of Hezbollah or Iraqi-Shi’ite militias sponsored and guided by Iranian officers near the Israel-Syria border on the Golan Heights. The recent success of the Assad regime and expected defeat of ISIS in both Iraq and Syria make this scenario more and more possible. Iran and Hezbollah hope to be positioned on the border and thus threaten to open a second front alongside Lebanon against Israel in case of a future war. Israel is committed to stop this, either by reaching another understanding with Putin, and through him influencing Assad, Iran and Hezbollah in that direction, or, as a last resort, by force.                                                     

 

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                                  IS PUTIN BIBI'S NEW 'BESTIE'?

                                                     Arad Nir

                                               Al-Monitor, Mar. 6, 2017

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves March 9 for Moscow, where he will have a quick meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin…Sources close to Netanyahu say that he had asked for the meeting, the fifth between the two men in little over a year, to discuss developments in Syria, where Moscow's military presence has made the Russian Federation Israel's new neighbor. Military sources keeping tabs on security coordination between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Russia stress that so far, relations can be characterized by a level of coordination that appears to be perfect. Nevertheless, as in any relationship, it is important to constantly work on it instead of taking it for granted. In this regard, Netanyahu gets compliments from Israel's high-ranking military and civilian echelons.

 

No one interviewed claimed that Israel had anticipated how intensely Russia would be involved in Syria or the level of coordination that could be reached between Moscow and Jerusalem, particularly given that Putin is acting in Syria as if he owned the country. Nevertheless, a senior Israeli official intimately familiar with ties between Russia and Israel who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity emphasized that Moscow's involvement and coordination were “an expected surprise," but added, “Once it happened, we were able to explain it.”

 

Israel's ongoing success in securing its strategic needs given the Russian presence in Syria can be attributed to three factors. First and foremost is the respect that Putin has for the Jewish people in general and the State of Israel in particular. The Israeli source could not stress this enough, remarking, “Putin is the most philo-Semitic Russian head of state ever.” He loves and admires the Jews, said the source, and he isn't afraid to express it. Putin often used to talk about a Jewish family that had lived near his parents' home and how, when he was a boy, he would eat and study at their table.

 

The second factor is the good interpersonal chemistry between Putin and Netanyahu. During Netanyahu's many years in office, he has made a point of fostering good relations with Russia, as have all other Israeli prime ministers since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Israeli official pointed out, however, that while the other prime ministers visited Russia and were received with great respect, the personal bond that has developed between Netanyahu and Putin is unique. “Whenever the prime minister calls, Putin answers,” he said. “There has never been a case where we asked to set up a meeting for Netanyahu and the Kremlin didn't offer us a date immediately.”

 

One example of this bond is the way Putin hosted Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, last June, when they paid a visit to Russia to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations. The Israeli source noted in amazement that Putin devoted eight straight hours to hosting Netanyahu, stressing that even the Russian president's advisers were hard pressed to believe it. “Putin joined Netanyahu for a special performance at the Bolshoi Theater, and when the show was over, he continued on to a reception hosted by the Israeli Embassy,” the source said. “The two leaders sang a song together, and Putin agreed to pose for selfies with any of the guests who asked, and there were lots who did.” The two leaders are happy to show their fondness for one another and speak with the kind of frank honesty that is rare to find in international relations. “They know how to talk to each other, and this helps benefit each of their mutual and national interests.”

 

The third factor in the relationship is strategic. The close ties that have developed between Israel and Russia are based, first and foremost, on trust. Both parties know they will not agree on everything. The Russian rule is as long as you don't deceive us, we won't deceive you. It is clear to the Russians, the Israeli source said, that strikes in Syria attributed to the IDF have never been about them. Rather, they have targeted forces that pose a risk to Israel’s security. The Russians are willing to accept that the weapons systems they provide to the Syrian army and that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad then transfers to Hezbollah will be destroyed by Israeli Air Force jets, so the Syrians claim. They do not understand Israel's sensitivity to attacks to the extent that a response is required whenever a weapon is misfired in its direction or a rocket crosses the Golan Heights, but they respect it, as long as they are kept informed, and everything is coordinated with them.

 

It is obvious to the Russians that the United States is Israel's No. 1 strategic ally, even if it sometimes seems as if Netanyahu would have preferred the Russians' pragmatic approach to the Palestinian issue over the American approach, or at least that was the case until Donald Trump entered the Oval Office.

 

Putin, like all his predecessors in the Kremlin, always makes sure to vote in favor of the Palestinians and against Israel in the United Nations Security Council. On the other hand, however, never has he hassled Israel about its policies. As the head of an enormous country with a 15% Muslim population, it is important for Putin that Israel reach an arrangement with the Palestinians. Nevertheless, all of the concerns he has raised about Israeli actions are practical and pragmatic. He has not raised moral issues concerning human rights. So, Netanyahu accepts Russia's UN voting patterns for what it is, while appreciating the way Moscow deals with it in other regards.

 

From this, Putin looks like someone who would be interested in a “deal” between Israel and the Palestinians, the kind agreed to by both parties. This is somewhat in line with Trump's approach laid out during the Feb. 15 press conference with Netanyahu at the White House. Yet despite the statements of friendship and affection that the new US president showered on Netanyahu and Israel, the Trump administration's actual foreign policy remains a complete riddle. No one knows what Trump plans to do in Syria, while the relationship between his inner circle and Russia is also unclear.

 

Another round of talks to resolve the Syrian conflict will be held later this month in the Kazakh capital of Astana. Thus far, the talks have received limited press coverage in Israel, even though they could result in a permanent Iranian presence in Syria, a strategic red line as far as the Israeli government is concerned. The rare personal chemistry between the Israeli prime minister and the Russian president has so far managed to maintain a dialogue focused on the two countries' interests, but also one based on mutual respect, trust and admiration. This week, Netanyahu heads to Moscow to keep the dialogue alive.

                                                                           

 

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HOW RUSSIA IS TURNING SYRIA INTO A MAJOR NAVAL BASE

FOR NUCLEAR WARSHIPS (AND ISRAEL IS WORRIED)

Michael Peck

National Interest, March 18, 2017

 

During the 1970s, the Syrian naval base of Tartus became a major port servicing warships of the Soviet Union’s Fifth Mediterranean squadron. The Soviet Union is gone, and so is Syria as a unified nation. But Russia is back, and it’s building up Tartus again as a naval base that can handle Russia’s largest nuclear-powered ships. Already, Israel says the Tartus base is affecting its naval operations. U.S. and NATO operations could be next.

 

Under the forty-nine-year agreement inked late last year by Russia and Syria, “the maximum number of the Russian warships allowed at the Russian naval facility at one time is 11, including nuclear-powered warships, providing that nuclear and ecological security rules are observed,” according to Russia’s RT news site. Russia will also be allowed to expand port facilities to accommodate the vessels. The specification allowing nuclear-powered warships means that Russia wants to be able to base in Syria large surface ships, namely Kirov-class nuclear-powered battle cruisers, as well as nuclear submarines.

 

In addition, the treaty allows “Russia is allowed to bring in and out any kind of ‘weaponry, ammunition, devices and materials’ to provide security for the facility staff, crew, and their families throughout the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic ‘without any duties or levies,’” according to RT. Expansion of the port will take about five years, according to an anonymous source cited in Russia’s Sputnik News. “The source added that the works would focus on dredging operations to allow cruisers and even possibly aircraft carriers to use the facility’s infrastructure,” Sputnik News reported. “According to the source, Russia also needs to develop the facility’s ground infrastructure, through construction of canalization, electricity generation facilities and barracks for the servicemen.”

 

Sputnik News also listed other provisions of the agreement. These include: Russia will be responsible for sea and air security of the base, while Syria handles the land defenses…Russia can deploy “temporary mobile outposts” beyond the base, as long as they coordinate them with the Syrians…Russia can renovate the base at will, including underwater construction, and build offshore platforms…Upon Syrian request, Russia will send specialists to service Syrian warships, conduct search and rescue in Syrian waters, and organize the defense of Tartus…Syria agrees not to “make any objections related to the military activities of the base, which will also be beyond Damascus’ jurisdiction.”…“Syria also pledges to solve any conflicts that may arise if a third party objects to the activities of the base.”

 

The Tartus deal is significant on several levels. For starters, the explicit mention of Tartus servicing nuclear-powered ships suggests that Russia may operate its biggest ships in the eastern Mediterranean, such as the nuclear battle cruiser Peter the Great. At the least, it indicates that nuclear submarines could be based at Tartus. That Russia can put deploy outposts beyond the base suggests that Russia will take an expansive view of defending Tartus against rebel attacks. Russia will also be responsible for sea and air security at Tartus. Yet since the Syrian rebels don’t have a navy or air force—but the Americans and the Israelis do—this indicates that Moscow is eyeing Tartus through the lens of a possible conflict with outside powers.

 

However, the agreement also contains two contradictory provisions. On the one hand, it bars Syria from objecting to Russian military activities at the base, which will not be under Syrian jurisdiction. So, if Russian ships and aircraft ever decide to harass NATO and Israeli forces in the Mediterranean—just as Russia has done in the Black Sea—then Syria can’t stop them. On the other hand, Syria is obligated to “solve any conflicts” if a “third party” objects to the activities at the Tartus base. If this means that the United States or Israel complains, then Syria must resolve the problem—even though it has no jurisdiction over the base or operations conducted from there.

 

In any event, Israel has gotten the message. “There have been instances in which we assessed the situation and changed or chose not to carry out operations,” Rear Adm. Dror Friedman, Israeli Navy chief of staff, told the Jerusalem Post. “You see their activities in the field and you see them putting down roots, you see their activities in the Port of Tartus and you understand that this isn’t the activity of someone who is planning to pack their bags and leave tomorrow morning.”

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

The Prospect for Russia's Jews: Maxim D. Shrayer, Mosaic, Mar. 6, 2017 —Why do you stay here?” “I have a son here,” he replied. And then he added: “God gave me as a Jew such a place in life—to live in Russia.” “What about the other Jews, why do they stay here?” “About the others I don’t know, but I imagine they too are needed here by nature and the Creator.”

The Calamity of 1917: Max Boot, Commentary, Mar. 14, 2017—One hundred years ago Wednesday—on March 15, 1917—one of the most momentous events of the 20th century occurred: Tsar Nicholas II abdicated, thus ending 300 years of Romanov rule of Russia and setting the stage, later the year, for the Bolshevik takeover. Once Lenin was in power, Russia was hurtling on the trajectory toward the Stalinist terror and mass famine, World War II, and the Cold War. Russia is today on a path toward a post-Soviet future dominated by a former KGB officer who seems to be plotting to reassemble the Russian Empire the Bolsheviks temporarily tore down before rebuilding and expanding it.

Russia Seeks Another Mediterranean Naval Base in Libya: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, JCPA, January 22, 2017—In recent months, Russia has been ramping up its involvement in the Libyan sociopolitical crisis, which has been ongoing since the removal of its ruler, Muammar Qaddafi. Russia has been strengthening its ties with Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who heads the LNA (the Libyan National Army), one of the many military militias operating in Libya, and opposes the country’s official government.

So Long as it Doesn’t Fail Spectacularly, Trump’s Foreign Policy Just Might Work: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Feb. 24, 2017—At the heart of President Trump’s foreign policy team lies a glaring contradiction. On the one hand, it is composed of men of experience, judgment and traditionalism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ISRAEL RESPONDS TO THREATS FROM HEZBOLLAH-SYRIA-IRAN AXIS

Are Israeli Raids on Syrian Targets Legal?: Prof. Louis René Beres, BESA, Mar. 23, 2017— Syria, a country in the midst of chaos, has launched multiple aggressions against neighboring Israel.

Warning, War Clouds on the Horizon!: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Mar. 24, 2017— Academic research has explored in depth the factors leading to the wars that broke out between nations in previous centuries…

World Shrugs as Hizballah Prepares Massive Civilian Deaths: Noah Beck, Breaking Israel News, Mar. 23, 2017— Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah recently warned Israel that his Iran-backed terror group could attack targets producing mass Israeli casualties, including a huge ammonia storage tank in Haifa, and a nuclear reactor in Dimona.

Trump’s Greatest Deal: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 23, 2017— What can be done about Iran?

               

On Topic Links

 

US Investment in – Not Foreign Aid to – Israel: Yoram Ettinger, Ettinger Report, Spring, 2016

Israel Explains Arrow Intercept of Syrian SAM: Barbara Opall-Rome, Defense News, Mar. 20, 2017

In-House Hizballah Missile Factories Could Add to Massive Arms Buildup: Yaakov Lappin, IPT, Mar. 17, 2017

Lebanon’s Army and Hizbullah Join Ranks: Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira, JCPA, Mar. 2, 2017

 

                  

 

ARE ISRAELI RAIDS ON SYRIAN TARGETS LEGAL?

Prof. Louis René Beres

BESA, Mar. 23, 2017

 

Syria, a country in the midst of chaos, has launched multiple aggressions against neighboring Israel. In recent years, most of these assaults have assumed the form of heavy weapons transfers to Hezbollah, a Shiite terror group with not only genocidal views about the Jewish State but also correspondingly destructive military capacities. Moreover, the de facto army of Hezbollah – a fanatical adversary sponsored by non-Arab Iran – has become even more threatening to Israel than the regular armies of its traditional Arab state enemies. These are not just operational or strategic matters. From the standpoint of international law, Israel has an unassailable right to launch appropriate measures of self-defense against Syria. Accordingly, the Israel Air Force has been conducting selective strikes against relevant targets inside Bashar al-Assad's fractured country.

 

Significantly, almost exactly one year ago, in April 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed for the first time that Israel had been attacking convoys transporting advanced weapons within Syria bound for Hezbollah. Among other substantial ordnance, these weapons included SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, Russian arms that could enable Hezbollah to shoot down Israeli civilian aircraft, military jets and helicopters, and drones. (It is plausible that at least some of the latest Israeli-targeted weapons are of North Korean origin. Until Israel's preemptive September 6, 2007 "Operation Orchard," an expression of "anticipatory self-defense" under international law, Syria had been actively working towards a nuclear weapons capacity with North Korean assistance and direction.)

 

Certain noteworthy operational ironies ought to be referenced here. For one, Israel's regular need to act against Hezbollah could inadvertently enlarge the power of ISIS and/or other Sunni militias now operating against Israel in the region. For another, because the Trump administration in Washington remains reluctant to criticize Russian war crimes in Syria (or anywhere else, for that matter), Jerusalem now has less reason to seek security assurances from the US.

 

But our concern here is law, not strategy or tactics. As a purely jurisprudential matter, Israel's measured and discriminate use of force against Hezbollah terrorists and associated targets in Syria has been conspicuously consistent with legal rules concerning distinction, proportionality, and military necessity. Although both Tehran and Damascus sanctimoniously identify Israel's defensive actions as "aggression," these actions are supported, inter alia, by Article 51 of the UN Charter. Under law, Israel, in the fashion of every other state on the planet, has a primary and incontestable prerogative to remain alive.

 

Legally, there is nothing complicated about the issues surrounding Israel's counter-terrorist raids within Syria. By willfully allowing its territory to be used as a source of Hezbollah terrorist weapons against Israel, and as an expanding base for anti-Israel terrorist operations in general, Assad has placed Syria in unambiguous violation of both the UN Charter and the wider body of international rules identified in Article 38 of the UN's Statute of the International Court of Justice. There is more. Because Syria, entirely at its own insistence, maintains a formal condition of belligerency with Israel (that is, a legal "state of war"), no charge levied by Damascus or Tehran of "Israeli aggression" makes jurisprudential sense.

 

More practically, of course, Syria has become a failed state. In some respects, at least, with the Assad regime in full control of only limited portions of Damascus, Aleppo, and the Syrian Mediterranean coast, it makes little legal sense to speak of "Syrian responsibility" or "Syrian violations." Nonetheless, even amid the collapse of traditional boundaries between states, the Syrian president must bear full responsibility for blatantly illegal arms transfers to a surrogate Shiite militia. For Israel, the principal legal issues here are easy to affirm. Express prohibitions against pro-terrorist behavior by any state can be found in Articles 3(f) and 3(g) of the 1974 UN General Assembly Definition of Aggression. These prohibitions are part of customary international law, and of what are identified in Article 38 of the ICJ Statute as “the general principles of law recognized by civilized nations.”

 

Following the 1977 Protocols to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, insurgent organizations are expected to comply with humanitarian international law, sometimes called the law of armed conflict. Additionally, any documented failure to comply, such as resort to "human shields" (a common practice with Hezbollah) would be known in formal law as "perfidy." Under international law, every use of force by states must be judged twice: once with regard to the justness of the cause, and once with regard to the justness of the means. This second standard concerns core issues of humanitarian international law. Specifically, even when it can be determined that a particular state maintains a basic right to apply force against another state, this does not automatically imply that any such use would comply with the law of war.

 

In defending itself against Hezbollah terror, Israel’s actions have always been consistent with humanitarian international law. In stark contrast to the Shiite terrorist militias operating in Lebanon and southern Syria, and similarly unlike the Syrian-supported Islamic Jihad Sunni forces, who intentionally target noncombatants, Israel has been meticulous about striking exclusively hard military targets in raids on Syria.

 

Unlike Syria, which even in its currently attenuated form opposes any peaceful settlement with Israel, Jerusalem resorts to defensive force only as a last resort. As for Syrian charges that Israel’s actions somehow raise the risk of “escalation,” this alleged risk would disappear entirely if Damascus and Tehran ceased their lawless support of Hezbollah and other criminal organizations. In this connection, it should be recalled, terrorism is always a codified crime under binding international law. It is never considered a permissible form of national liberation or self-determination…

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

 

 

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WARNING, WAR CLOUDS ON THE HORIZON!                    

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Arutz Sheva, Mar. 24, 2017

 

Academic research has explored in depth the factors leading to the wars that broke out between nations in previous centuries, both in order to understand why wars take place and to develop ways of predicting nascent wars by "connecting the dots" between the signs signalling an approaching conflagration. Since the signals are clearly directly connected to the relations between the countries involved in a war, the literature points out the connection between internal problems affecting a state and the desire of its leaders to initiate a war with other countries. The literature also lists war-delaying factors, foremost of which is the high price of military and civilian fatalities and the damage to the country's infrastructure.

 

Syria is no exception to the rule in terms of academic theory, since the reasons the regime was pressured into past wars were always a mixture of internal and external factors. The external cause for the ongoing state of war with Israel was the very fact of Israel's existence, never recognized by the Syrian regime.  The encouragement to attack Israel came from the USSR while Israel was supported by the West. Add to that the desire to be granted a position of power in pan-Arab leadership and the need to erase the humiliating Syrian defeats in 1948, 1967, 1973 and 1982 at the hands of the Zionists.

 

Syrian media have always played a part in the country's war effort, adding the battle for the army's morale and that of the general population to the one waged with conventional weaponry, so that the people remain willing to suffer the sights of war and continue fighting despite injuries suffered by soldiers and citizens. Syria's media are controlled by the regime, which gives them the messages they are expected to deliver to the public. This fact allows the researcher to know what the feelings of the groups leading the country are at any given time.

 

The factors that prevented war from breaking out in the past were mainly the damage to the army and the country's infrastructure, but also the possibility that another defeat by Israel would bring more humiliation to the regime. Today, when social networks allow everyone to express his opinion freely, Syria's leadership knows that the battle for the hearts of the population will not be won through the Syrian media, because every Arab – in Syria and outside of it – knows that its reliability is limited and that its journalists cannot express themselves freely.

 

In the past, one of the main internal reasons that pushed the Assads, father and son, to declare war on Israel was their desire to create an external threat that would cause the Syrians – especially the opposition – to put their differences aside and join Assad's fight against the "Zionist enemy threatening all of us." Today, with Syria torn between the rebel regime and the areas still under ISIS control, it is far from certain that a war with Israel would bring the rebels and ISIS to stop attacking Assad, and definitely not to the point where instead of attacking Assad, they join him in a war against Israel,

 

Despite the losses and damage sustained by the opposition to Assad since Russia entered the fray, and despite the fact that they too are light years away from recognizing Israel's right to exist, they will not desist from fighting Assad. In fact, over the last few days, the rebels have intensified their battle for Damascus because of their defeats in other arenas, mainly in Aleppo and Homs. A war between Assad and Israel might cause the rebels to take advantage of the regular army's preoccupation with fighting Israel to score some victories. After suffering close to half a million fatalities in six years of fighting, some of the rebels might even prefer that Israel finish off Assad, not for love of Israel but due to their hatred of the despotic dictator. In sum, a war with Israel will not weaken the desire of Assad's enemies to be rid of him.

 

Once, the external reason for war to break out was pressure exerted by the USSR in its desire to defeat the USA and Europe on a Middle Eastern battlefield. Today, it is far from certain that Russia wants a war between Syria and Israel, partly because of the minor role the West plays in today's Middle Eastern politics and partly because Putin does not want to force Trump to have to show active and obvious support for Israel, Putin is aware that the US sent fighters – "boots on the ground" – to the war being waged against ISIS. He realizes that Obama's non-interventionist policies are over and he has no wish to find himself opposite the USA in a war between Syria and Israel in which he will be forced to support Syria and oppose Israel.

 

How great Putin's fears of Israeli military technology are is not clear to me, but the downing of a Russian SA-5 missile last week by an Israeli "arrow" missile is enough to give the Russian army pause and raise doubts about the feasibility of war between Russian and Israeli weapons. It looks as though the Russian army, which found it very difficult to overcome the light weapons in the hands of the Syrian rebels, is not overjoyed at the thought of a direct confrontation with Israeli military technology. There is also an economic situation behind the scenes, the possibility that Israel will be marketing gas to Europe on a massive scale in the near future, causing Russia significant economic difficulty, as Europe may decide to do without Russian gas. To sum up the Russian issue, it does not seem to be in Russia's best interests to bring about a struggle between Syria and Israel, because that would only complicate Syria's internal problems even more and cause Russia's attempts to have the two sides reach some kind of agreement, to fail.  Thursday, March 23, is when the two sides were to begin their fifth round of talks.

 

There are other powers functioning in Syria. The list includes Iran, Hezbollah, Iraqi Shiite militias, as well as Afghans. They have their own interests, far removed from those of Russia and Assad. In my estimation, Iran and Hezbollah want to involve Israel in the war in Syria so as to show their people, that is, the Iranians and Lebanese, many of whom are against their country's involvement in Syria, that there is no choice, despite the high price in casualties and equipment, They could then claim that this is not only a war against the rebels and ISIS, it is a campaign against the "threatening Zionist entity." Iran wants to drag Syria into a war with Israel which would be in essence a war against Trump, whose mettle the Iranians would like to test, along with his loyalty to Israel and his hostility towards Iran. They expect Russia to join the war while the US remains outside it, so as to avoid getting embroiled in a regional war and in addition, to avoid a confrontation that would damage the relations between Trump and Putin.

 

Hezbollah is also interested in a war with Israel in order to prove to its detractors in Lebanon and the Arab-Islamic world that its weapons, especially its rocket arsenal, are meant to fight Israel and not "our Syrian brothers." In order to prove to itself, its fighters and its Iranian supporters that despite the loss of manpower Hezbollah suffered in Syria, the army is as strong as ever and that the northern Shiite alliance that has coalesced from Iran to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, is continuing to advance towards Israel in order to surround Saudi Arabia with a southern Shiite flank in Yemen…

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

 

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WORLD SHRUGS AS HIZBALLAH PREPARES MASSIVE CIVILIAN DEATHS

                                     Noah Beck

                                    Breaking Israel News, Mar. 23, 2017

 

Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah recently warned Israel that his Iran-backed terror group could attack targets producing mass Israeli casualties, including a huge ammonia storage tank in Haifa, and a nuclear reactor in Dimona. Also last month, Tower Magazine reported that, since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, Iran provided Hizballah with a vast supply of “game-changing,” state-of-the art weapons, despite Israel’s occasional airstrikes against weapons convoys.

 

In a future conflict, Hizballah has the capacity to fire 1,500 rockets into Israel each day, overwhelming Israel’s missile defense systems. Should such a scenario materialize, Israel will be forced to respond with unprecedented firepower to defend its own civilians. Hizballah’s advanced weapons and the systems needed to launch them reportedly are embedded across a staggering 10,000 locations in the heart of more than 200 civilian towns and villages. The Israeli military has openly warned about this Hizballah war crime and the grave threats it poses to both sides, but that alarm generated almost no attention from the global media, the United Nations, or other international institutions.

 

Like the terror group Hamas, Hizballah knows that civilian deaths at the hands of Israel are a strategic asset, because they produce diplomatic pressure to limit Israel’s military response. Hizballah reportedly went so far as offering reduced-price housing to Shiite families who allowed the terrorist group to store rocket launchers in their homes.

 

But if the global media, the UN, human rights organizations, and other international institutions predictably pounce on Israel after it causes civilian casualties, why are they doing nothing to prevent them? Hizballah’s very presence in southern Lebanon is a flagrant violation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1701, which called for the area to be a zone “free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons” other than the Lebanese military and the U.N. Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The resolution also required Hizballah to be disarmed, but the terror group today has an arsenal that rivals that of most armies. Hizballah possesses an estimated 140,000 missiles and rockets, and reportedly now can manufacture advanced weapons in underground factories that are impervious to aerial attack.

 

“Israel must stress again and again, before it happens, that these villages [storing Hizballah weapons] have become military posts, and are therefore legitimate targets,” said Yoram Schweitzer, senior research fellow at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS). Meir Litvak, director of Tel Aviv University’s Alliance Center for Iranian Studies, agrees, adding that global attention would “expose Hizballah’s hypocrisy in its cynical use of civilians as… human shields.”

 

Even a concerted campaign to showcase Hizballah’s war preparation is unlikely to change things, said Eyal Zisser, a senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. Hizballah exploits the fact that “the international community is too busy and…weak to do something about it,” Zisser said. All of “these talks and reports have no meaning. See what is happening in Syria.” Israel has targeted Hizballah-bound weapons caches in Syria twice during the past week. Syria responded last Friday by firing a missile carrying 200 kilograms of explosives, which Israel successfully intercepted. If Hizballah provokes a war, Israel can legitimately attack civilian areas storing Hizballah arms if the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) first attempts to warn the targeted civilians to leave those areas, Litvak said. But “it will certainly be very difficult and will look bad on TV.”…

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

                                                                           

Contents

 

TRUMP’S GREATEST DEAL

Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, Mar. 23, 2017

 

What can be done about Iran? In Israel, a dispute is reportedly raging between the IDF and the Mossad about the greatest threat facing Israel. IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot thinks that Hezbollah is the greatest threat facing Israel. Mossad Director Yossi Cohen thinks Iran’s nuclear program is the greatest danger facing the Jewish state. While the media highlight the two men’s disagreement, the underlying truth about their concerns has been ignored.

 

Hezbollah and Iran’s nuclear program are two aspects of the same threat: the regime in Tehran. Hezbollah is a wholly owned subsidiary of the regime. If the regime disappeared, Hezbollah would fall apart. As for the nuclear installations, in the hands of less fanatical leaders, they would represent a far less acute danger to global security. So if you undermine the Iranian regime, you defeat Hezbollah and defuse the nuclear threat. If you fail to deal with the regime in Tehran, both threats will continue to grow no matter what you do, until they become all but insurmountable. So what can be done about Tehran? With each passing day we discover new ways Iran endangers Israel and the rest of the region. This week we learned Iran has built underground weapons factories in Lebanon. The facilities are reportedly capable of building missiles, drones, small arms and ammunition. Their underground location protects them from aerial bombardment.

 

Then there is Hezbollah’s relationship to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). For more than a decade, the Americans have been selling themselves the implausible claim that the LAF is a responsible fighting force capable and willing to rein in Hezbollah. Never an easy claim – the LAF provided targeting information to Hezbollah missile crews attacking Israel in 2006 – after Hezbollah domesticated the Lebanese government in 2008, the claim became downright silly. And yet, over the past decade, the US has provided the LAF with weapons worth in excess of $1 billion. In 2016 alone the US gave the LAF jets, helicopters, armored personnel carriers and missiles worth more than $220 million.

 

In recent months, showing that Iran no longer feels the need to hide its control over Lebanon, the LAF has openly stated that it is working hand in glove with Hezbollah. Last November, Hezbollah showcased US M113 armored personnel carriers with roof-mounted Russian anti-aircraft guns, at a military parade in Syria. The next month the Americans gave the LAF a Hellfire missile-equipped Cessna aircraft with day and night targeting systems. Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun is a Hezbollah ally. So is Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf and LAF commander Gen. Joseph Aoun. Last month President Aoun told Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, that Hezbollah serves “a complementary role to the Lebanese army.”

 

And yet the Americans insist that it continues to make sense – and to be lawful – to arm the LAF. You can hardly blame them. Denial is an attractive option, given the alternatives. For the past eight years, the Obama administration did everything in its power to empower Iran. To make Iran happy, Obama did nothing as hundreds of thousands of Syrians were killed and millions more were forced to flee their homes by Iran and its puppet Bashar Assad. Obama allowed Iran to take over the Iraqi government and the Iraqi military. He sat back as Iran’s Houthi proxy overthrew the pro-US regime in Yemen. And of course, the crowning achievement of Obama’s foreign policy was his nuclear deal with the mullahs. Obama’s deal gives Iran an open path to a nuclear arsenal in a bit more than a decade and enriches the regime beyond Ayatollah Khamenei’s wildest dreams…

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

 

 

Contents                                                              

 

On Topic Links

 

US Investment in – Not Foreign Aid to – Israel: Yoram Ettinger, Ettinger Report, Spring, 2016—At the "Strategic Challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean" conference, Prof. Eyal Zisser of Tel Aviv University gives an account of the "miracles" which saved Assad's regime and turned him into the "Liberator" of Aleppo: Obama's decision not to strike, the Russian intervention, and now (perhaps) the ascension of President Trump. He suggests three possible outcomes to the civil war in Syria: a Spanish outcome (total victory for one side), an Afghan one (continued insurgency in the periphery), and a Libyan result (chaos and disintegration).

Israel Explains Arrow Intercept of Syrian SAM: Barbara Opall-Rome, Defense News, Mar. 20, 2017—A senior Israeli Air Force officer on Monday provided operational context to the unusual March 17 Arrow intercept of a Syrian SA-5 surface-to-air missile, which the jointly developed U.S.-Israel anti-ballistic missile system was not designed to fight.

In-House Hizballah Missile Factories Could Add to Massive Arms Buildup: Yaakov Lappin, IPT, Mar. 17, 2017—A recent report saying that Iran constructed underground missile factories in Lebanon for Hizballah would, if accurate, indicate a disturbing boost in the Shi'ite terror organization's ability to self-produce weapons.

Lebanon’s Army and Hizbullah Join Ranks: Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira, JCPA, Mar. 2, 2017—Hizbullah has completed the process of usurping the Lebanese state and its institutions. The election of Michel Aoun as president, through a forced arrangement with Hizbullah, has fulfilled the Iranian vision of controlling Lebanon without changing the power equation that has prevailed there since the National Pact of 1943.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CIJR HONOURS THE UNIQUE, VITAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF JUDAISM, ISRAEL, & THE JEWISH PEOPLE TO HUMANTY

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. 

When Gatekeepers of Justice Leverage the Law to Abet Injustice: Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein, Huffington Post, Mar. 11, 2017— In keeping with democratic Germany’s commitment to combat anti-Semitism, a court in Essen ruled last year that chanting “death and hate to Zionists” at a demonstration was an illegal anti-Semitic activity.

Zion’s Mother Tongue: Visions of a Promised Land: Benjamin Balint, Wall Street Journal, Mar. 17, 2017— The other day, I took some American visitors to the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem to see the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Montreal Poet Seymour Mayne Remembers his Friend Leonard Cohen: Seymour Mayne, Jewish Quarterly, 13 Feb. 2017— Leonard was holding court at the front table unit of the café on upper Stanley Street one Sunday in 1960…

               

On Topic Links

 

For U.K.’s Holocaust Memorial, a Canadian Architect Envisions Light in a Personal Darkness: Paul Waldie, Globe & Mail, Mar. 10, 2017

Converted Masters; World Famous Masterpieces With a Jewish Twist: Lori Samlin Miller, Jewish Press, Mar. 20, 2017

Archaeological Discoveries in the Holy Land Could Provide Clues on how Jesus Lived: Ruth Eglash, Washington Post, Mar. 20, 2017

Natan Alterman or Amos Oz? The Six-Day War and Israeli Literature: Liam Hoare, Fathom, Spring, 2017

 

     

 

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. 2. For instance, on December 24, 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts chose to recite Genesis 1:1-10, the Creation, in their a special broadcast to earth upon entering the lunar orbit. 3. President Lincoln referred to Exodus, Chapter 20, the Ten Commandments, as the summation of his theology. 4.  President Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount….”

 

5. On June 27, 2005, the US Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the 6-foot-high Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol. According to Chief Justice Rehnquist: “Acknowledgements of the role played by the Ten Commandments in our nation’s heritage are common throughout America…. Since 1935, Moses has stood, holding two tablets that reveal portions of the Ten Commandments written in Hebrew, among other lawgivers in the south frieze [of the US Supreme Court….] Representations of the Ten Commandments adorn the metal gates lining the north and south sides of the Courtroom as well as the doors leading into the Courtroom.  Moses also sits on the exterior east façade of the [US Supreme Court] holding the tablets of the Ten Commandments…. Since 1897, a large statue of Moses holding the Ten Commandments, alongside a statue of the Apostle Paul, has overlooked the rotunda of the Library of Congress’ Jefferson Building.  A medallion with two tablets depicting the Ten Commandments decorates the floor of the National Archives.  Inside the Justice Department, a statue entitled ‘The Spirit of Law’ has two tablets representing the Ten Commandments lying at its feet.  In front of the Ronald Reagan Building stands another sculpture that includes a depiction of the Ten Commandments. So too a 24-foot-tall sculpture, outside the Federal Courthouse, depicting, among other things, the Ten Commandments and a cross. Moses is also prominently featured in the Chamber of the United States House of Representatives…. Moses was a lawgiver as well as a religious leader, and the Ten Commandments have undeniable historical meaning….”

 

6. A February 25-27, 2005 Gallup Poll shows that 76% of Americans were in favor of displaying the Ten Commandments monument on the ground of the Texas State Capitol.

 

7. On March 29, 2006, the California State Senate approved bill SCR 108 stating: “This measure would recognize and acknowledge that the Decalogue, also known as the Ten Commandments, ranks among the influential historical documents that have contributed significantly to the development of the secular governmental and legal principles and institutions of the USA and the State of California…. The integral secular role played by the Decalogue in the legal history of Western civilization, from the time of England’s King Alfred the Great, through the era of William Blackstone and the American Framers…. In the history of American institutions, no other book – except the Bible – has played so great a role…. The American Revolution preserved the Biblical seven-day week, dictated by the Ten Commandments, with the seventh day – a day of rest…. Members of the US Supreme Court have noted the foundational role played by the Ten Commandments in the development of our legal system….

 

8. Eight sculptures of Moses are featured in the US Supreme Court and a bust of Moses faces the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Moses and/or the Ten Commandments also feature in the US Federal Courthouses in Cleveland, OH and Indianapolis, IN; the Supreme Courts in Harrisburg, PA, St. Paul, MN, Lansing, MI and Knoxville, TN; the County Courthouses in Cleveland, OH, West Chester, PA, Pittsburgh, PA, Ft. Wayne, IN and Jackson, MS; the Appellate Court in Brooklyn, NY; the Boston Public Library and the State Capitol in Lincoln, NE; etc.

 

9. On April 8, 2015, Arkansas Governor, Asa Hutchinson, signed into law a bill instructing the state to erect a privately-funded Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the State Capitol in Little Rock. The Arkansas State House and the Senate approved the bill 72:7 and 27:3 respectively.

 

10. The Ten Commandments have been an integral part of the legal, cultural, religious and political fabric of the American people and their representatives on Capitol Hill, highlighting the 400-year-old Judeo-Christian foundation of the US-Israel covenant. This foundation has transcended transient politics and geo-strategic considerations, catapulting US-Israel cooperation to unprecedented levels.

 

 

Contents

 

WHEN GATEKEEPERS OF JUSTICE LEVERAGE

THE LAW TO ABET INJUSTICE                                     

Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein

Huffington Post, Mar. 11, 2017

 

In keeping with democratic Germany’s commitment to combat anti-Semitism, a court in Essen ruled last year that chanting “death and hate to Zionists” at a demonstration was an illegal anti-Semitic activity. Unfortunately, however, there are other German judges today who subvert that commitment by ignoring common sense, morality, and history.

 

We refer to a decision by the Wuppertal court, recently upheld by a regional court, found that the three Muslims who set fire to a synagogue did so as an act of political protest against Israel’s actions in the Gaza War, and therefore could not be convicted of anti-Semitism. As Prof. Alan Dershowitz put it, “The idea that attacking a synagogue can be justified as an anti-Israel political protest rather than anti-Jewish hate act, is as absurd as saying that Kristallnacht was merely a protest against poor service by Jewish store owners.” Or, we might add, torching a mosque could be considered a protest against ISIS. Or desecrating the Cologne Cathedral might be dismissed as a consequence of long-simmering discontent over the medieval Crusades.

 

Common sense and Jews are not the only victims of this court. It has twice dismissed charges against a group of local Salafists who enjoyed patrolling the streets with jackets announcing themselves as Sharia Police, and warning locals not to defy Islamic practice though music and alcohol. The court found their actions not “suggestively militant,” and lacking “intimidating effect.” One of the accused was on trial for supporting a terrorist organization. Had they beheaded someone, that court undoubtedly would have ruled that they were merely testing their shaving apparatus.

 

At a pivotal moment in German and world history, German jurists—far from using the law to protect the persecuted, first turned a blind eye to the way laws that destroyed millions of lives were made, then eagerly confirm Nazism’s absolute evil as binding law. From the outset of the Third Reich in 1933, German judges formulated and presided over the Rassenschutzgesetz, which allowed Jews, Roma, Poles, Russians and other untermenschen to be legally recognized as less than human. The judiciary perverted the old Rechtsstaat, meant to protect the citizen against the power of the State, and turned it into the legal basis for the eventual murder of millions. It became a willing vassal of an empire of death and destruction, quickly dispatching Stauffenberg, Bonhoeffer and any other German who resisted to quick and painful execution – all under the banner of the law.

 

In the aftermath of WW II, the very same judges maintained their moral perch above postwar society. While many sectors of public life worked to prevent the stain of Nazi thought from blackening the German future (including purging Party members from teaching social studies in German schools), the legal sector often protected Nazi criminals from prosecution again and again. The numbers confirm this. A full 77 percent of senior Justice Ministry officials in the late 50’s were former Nazi Party members, exceeding the percentage during the War itself. In fact, according to the recent Rosenburg Project, between 1949 and the early 1970s, 90 of the 170 top ministry officials were former Nazi Party members. Absent were judges who had belonged to the Resistance, or who had spent the War in exile.

 

Many friends of Germany are worried that some gatekeepers of German law may once again be using the law to open the gates of hell. The target today is once again the Jews. Providing a moral and legal free pass to attack a synagogue is quintessentially anti-Semitic, and seen as such by the rest of the world. Meanwhile, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that the National Democratic Party, despite embracing positions opposed by Germany’s Constitution, could not be banned because it was not a threat to democracy. The rest of the world – and many Germans – looks on in horrified disbelief, remembering that this was exactly what they said about the Nazi Party and Hitler in 1933…

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

                                                                       

Contents

 

ZION’S MOTHER TONGUE: VISIONS OF A PROMISED LAND

                                     Benjamin Balint

                                    Wall Street Journal, Mar. 17, 2017

 

The other day, I took some American visitors to the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem to see the Dead Sea Scrolls. My guests were struck not so much by the parchments themselves as by the sight of a group of Israeli fourth-graders, their noses pressed to the display cases, reading aloud from texts that were two millennia old.

 

In “The Story of Hebrew,” Lewis Glinert, a professor at Dartmouth College, aims to track the fate of the Hebrew language “from the Israelites to the ancient Rabbis and across two thousand years of nurture, abandonment, and renewal.” The most ambitious attempt since William Chomsky’s groundbreaking 1957 study, “Hebrew: The Eternal Language,” Mr. Glinert’s biography of Hebrew succeeds in representing the language not just as a vehicle of communication but as a crucible of national cohesion.

 

Mr. Glinert’s narrative, related with impressive sweep, begins with the classical Hebrew of biblical literature. The Bible’s sublime idiom is marked by stylistic suppleness and breadth, he says, that could encompass “narrative, prophecy, law, proverbs, philosophy, elegy, romance” and much else. The era of biblical Hebrew reaches as far back as the second millennium before the Christian era, and Mr. Glinert suggests that the spoken language survived the Jews’ exile to Babylon, their return and their struggles under Roman rule.

 

Spoken Hebrew seems to have died with little fanfare around A.D. 200, more than a century after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. But throughout the diaspora, Jews used written Hebrew to scaffold elaborate edifices of religious and legal interpretation. Though stateless, Hebrew would flourish as a written medium of cultural continuity. If the Jews safeguarded Hebrew, it was said, the holy tongue safeguarded “the people of the Book.”

 

The first of these edifices, the Mishnah, was compiled in the second and third centuries. This record of religious teachings and laws “created a rich lexical heritage that could be passed on to future generations,” Mr. Glinert writes, “and that Hebrew poetry and prose would draw upon long after Hebrew had ceased to be a spoken language.” The Babylonian Talmud—another great edifice of interpretation, setting out the authoritative commentary on rabbinic law—expanded Hebrew’s expressive possibilities by inflecting Hebrew with Aramaic, the lingua franca of the ancient Near East.

 

In the ensuing centuries those who standardized Hebrew’s grammatical architecture and honed its philological precision saw the language not just as a precious possession in itself but also as a fulcrum of Jewish life. “It must constantly be on our lips,” the Egyptian-born linguist and sage Saadiah Gaon wrote in the year 902, “for it affords us an understanding of the Divine Law.” While Hebrew commingled with Arabic in Islamic Spain, it preserved a separate reservoir of expression in the realms of law and liturgy. During the golden age of Hebrew literature, roughly the 10th to the 13th centuries, Andalusian poets like Judah Halevi and Solomon ibn Gabirol wielded a Hebrew of astonishing allusive density in order to blur the lines between sacred and sensual.

 

In a pair of chapters on the neglected story of how Hebrew figured in the Christian imagination, Mr. Glinert tells how Christians learned Hebrew both to access “hebraica veritas,” or Hebrew truth, and to monitor the Jews in their midst “with the goal of mastering the mischief and the falsehoods of the Jews,” as a 14th-century writer put it. Martin Luther’s call for “sola scriptura,” or “only the Scriptures,” led Protestants back to the original texts of the Hebrew Bible. In the 15th to 17th centuries, Christian Hebraists—including Johannes Reuchlin in Germany, Guillaume Postel in France, and John Selden in Britain—put Hebrew at the center of Western humanism.

 

In the 18th century, leaders of the Jewish Enlightenment sought, through Hebrew, to emancipate Jews from the confines of the ghetto; by making Hebrew an aesthetic equal to European languages, they hoped to open the doors to modernity. Their efforts, while incomplete, prepared the ground for a small group of secular Eastern European writers in the following century to dig channels through which Hebrew’s hidden vitality could course once more. These cultural Zionists brought about a rebirth of Hebrew, an achievement, Mr. Glinert writes, “without precedent in linguistic and sociopolitical history.”

 

In its early stages, this revival didn’t seem to have much prospect for success. For the pious, Mr. Glinert says, “using the holy tongue for everyday speech smacked of desecration.” For pragmatists, resurrecting a bookish tongue that lacked words for tomato, theater, microscope or fun seemed either ridiculous or inconceivable. Even the father of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, envisioned a Jewish state of German speakers…

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

 

                                                                           

Contents

 

MONTREAL POET SEYMOUR MAYNE REMEMBERS

HIS FRIEND LEONARD COHEN

Seymour Mayne

Jewish Quarterly, 13 Feb. 2017

 

Leonard was holding court at the front table unit of the café on upper Stanley Street one Sunday in 1960, when our mutual friend, the poet Henry Moscovitch, ushered me forward to meet him. He was twenty-six that spring, the lion of the McGill University arts crowd, and I was a high school student aged sixteen. I had just entered the Canadian literary world, small as it was then, having published several poems in The Canadian Forum. The first sight of the debonair figure, with two beautiful young women who flanked him on his left and right side, remains framed in my memory. He must have said something encouraging to me. And that is how our long friendship began. As he grew older, the strength of affection and respect he inspired in his old Montreal friends increased in depth and intensity. When he left us this November, he was still that gracious Davidic figure.

 

How Jewish was Leonard Cohen? He had no way not to be, born into the unique Montreal Jewish community, sandwiched as it was between the French-speaking working-class quartiers to the east and the English-speaking middle-class suburbs to the west. While Yiddish was the first language of many Jewish immigrants in the working-class neighbourhoods of Montreal, it did not have the same currency among the wealthier members of the community. Leonard’s home was not suffused with the expressive language. At school he studied mainly in English, with French added as a second language. In synagogue he heard biblical and liturgical Hebrew, which echoed and strongly resonated for him right up to his last album, You Want It Darker. In his middle years, he ranged out from Biblical texts to studying the Kabbalah, which fascinated him to his last days.

 

In a province defined by linguistic and religious affiliations, our Jewish community was an almost autonomous city-state of its own, with health facilities, its own hospital, and school system. Every writer and artist who emerged from Montreal in those first decades of the last century was shaped by these communal influences, and Leonard was no exception, even though he was raised in the upper-class neighbourhood of Westmount. Leonard never forgot nor could he forget that he was Jewish. He carried it as a mark of honour all his life while he alluded to and punned on his priestly name, Cohen, in poem, song and fiction. Called to the Torah by his Hebrew name, Eliezer, he nevertheless published exclusively under his English name, like almost every Jewish boy in Montreal who bore two names, double identities. Although he passed through a Buddhist initiation on Mount Baldy, in his last years his Jewish heritage took more and more of his observance, to the point that he was returned at the end to be buried, not in Los Angeles, but in one of the Jewish cemeteries of Montreal, alongside generations of his noted family…

 

At this juncture, A.M. Klein (1909–1972)—a member of this Montreal group and, later, by general consensus, one of Canada’s major poets—proudly affirmed a strong Jewish voice. Klein unashamedly celebrated his roots and tradition while exploring the bilingual Canadian milieu. Such was the older poet’s abiding influence on the younger poet over the years, that Leonard dedicated a number of poems to him, including the resonant “To a Teacher”, which later became a song in the album, Dear Heather. The Montreal dynasty of Jewish poets continued from Klein to Irving Layton (1912–2006), with whom Leonard maintained a close and special relationship for decades. The Jewish lineage in Canadian poetry, then, begins with Klein, continues with Layton from the 1950s on, and finds new force in Leonard’s poetry and lyrics.

 

While I am beholden to Leonard for the inspirations of his writing and friendship, he remains indebted with an unfulfilled promise, made over a half-century ago in the apartment of his friend, Robert Hirschhorn. We made a bet one day in 1963, as a group of Leonard’s friends sat in a circle in Robert’s living room and Leonard strummed his guitar, offering us song after song. Impetuously, as the youngest enthusiast in that room, I predicted that he would easily make a million with his then-unrecorded songs. Leonard quickly responded that he would present me with $10,000 for my little magazine, if that indeed materialized.

 

Over the years and on various occasions, I would remind him, with a smile, of his pledge, and he would aver, with an even more winsome smile, that he still hadn’t reached that magic million-dollar figure. Over time, of course, I let the matter slip. And then came Leonard’s difficult years, when he discovered that his manager had availed herself of his pension fund, which meant that he had to go out on the road again, a wandering minstrel even in his seventies.

 

Given his recent successes, this past summer, for fun, I was thinking of writing him one more friendly reminder. But his emails began to reveal a darker edge. He was “out of the loop for a while”—in his own words, “dealing with some disagreeable visitations from the Sitra Achra”, those fearful Kabbalistic presences from the dark and shadowed side of existence. Who under such circumstances could have the heart to raise the issue of an amusing wager made decades earlier? Along with his innumerable fans and followers, I would have to remain satisfied with the ample offerings of his prolific works. You got away, Eliezer, and the $10,000 was never paid out. But you left us a legacy which, contrary to your expectations in the rebellious years, I along with all your friends and devotees recognize as rich and bountiful. Your songs and name call up an abundance of blessings. Wager met and copiously acquitted. We’ll miss you, chaver.

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents                                                              

On Topic Links

 

For U.K.’s Holocaust Memorial, a Canadian Architect Envisions Light in a Personal Darkness: Paul Waldie, Globe & Mail, Mar. 10, 2017—Jack Diamond has long been considered one of Canada’s best architects and he’s designed award-winning landmarks around the world. But few projects have touched him as deeply as the one he’s working on now: Britain’s National Holocaust Memorial.

Converted Masters; World Famous Masterpieces With a Jewish Twist: Lori Samlin Miller, Jewish Press, Mar. 20, 2017—Why would an observant woman with a talent for drawing and painting publish a book with images of her canvas creations of reworked masterpieces? What, in addition to her obvious artistic abilities, is she expressing?

Archaeological Discoveries in the Holy Land Could Provide Clues on how Jesus Lived: Ruth Eglash, Washington Post, Mar. 20, 2017—When a revamped highway into Jerusalem fully opens in coming months, it will be just the latest makeover of a road that has served Holy Land travelers for centuries.

Natan Alterman or Amos Oz? The Six-Day War and Israeli Literature: Liam Hoare, Fathom, Spring, 2017—In the immediate aftermath of the Six-Day War, poetry and song captured the moment in Israeli history when the people, as Natan Alterman, said were ‘drunk with joy’. Naomi Shemer’s addendum to ‘Jerusalem of Gold,’ a song penned, as the legend has it, while Israeli troops celebrated at the Western Wall, groans with the sound of ram’s horns echoing round the Old City. ‘We have returned to the water cisterns, to the market and to the square,’ Shemer sang. ‘We shall return and go down to the Dead Sea by the Jericho Road.’