All 100 US Senators to UN: End ‘Unacceptable’ Anti-Israel Bias: United States Senate, Apr. 27, 2017 — All 100 U.S. senators signed a letter released Friday asking U.N. Secretary General António Guterres to address what the lawmakers call entrenched bias against Israel at the world body.
The World’s Most UN-Fair Organization: Dan Calic, Algemeiner, Apr. 2, 2017 — Have you ever wondered why the United Nations is so anti-Israel?
The Unacceptable Behavior of the German Foreign Minister: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 26, 2017— German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel displayed unprecedented chutzpa and insensitivity during his official visit to Israel
World War II ‘Avenger’ Reveals his Heroic Nazi-Killing Past: Isabel Vincent, New York Post, Apr. 9, 2017 — On the day the Nazis ambushed his guerrilla camp in the dark forests outside Vilna, Benjamin Levin could feel the gunshots whizzing past.
On Topic Links
WATCH: Hillel Neuer Of UN Watch Rips Human Rights Abusers Condemning Israel: Israellycool, Mar. 22, 2017
Israel May Lose Europe in Jerusalem Sovereignty Battle at UNESCO: Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 27, 2017
UNRWA Won’t Be Changing School Textbooks and Curriculum: Jewish Press, Apr. 18, 2017
Netanyahu’s Bold Move Against Europe: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 27, 2017
ALL 100 US SENATORS TO UN: END ‘UNACCEPTABLE’ ANTI-ISRAEL BIAS
Washington Post, Apr. 27, 2017
All 100 U.S. senators signed a letter released Friday asking U.N. Secretary General António Guterres to address what the lawmakers call entrenched bias against Israel at the world body. The unanimous message notes that the United States is the largest contributor to the United Nations but does not threaten the withholding of U.S. dues. Still, it uses strong language to insist that the United Nations rectify what the senators said is unequal treatment of Israel on human rights and other grounds.
“Through words and actions, we urge you to ensure that Israel is treated neither better nor worse than any other U.N. member in good standing,” the letter said…“As both the U.N.’s principal founding member and its largest contributor, the United States should insist on reform,” the letter read. “We are deeply committed to international leadership and to advancing respect for human rights. But continued targeting of Israel by the U.N. Human Rights Council and other U.N. entities is unacceptable.”
The senators asked Guterres, who assumed leadership of the world body in January, to seek such institutional changes as the removal of a standing agenda item for the U.N. Human Rights Commission sessions that has been used as a forum to denounce Israel. The senators also want a change to the rules for membership on the human rights panel to broaden participation beyond what U.S. officials have said is often a narrow and self-interested group of countries.
The unusual unanimity expands on the fierce denunciation of U.N. treatment of Israel mounted by Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, this year. The letter praises Haley for that effort, which she has said is intended to show that the United States will not “put up with” the bashing of its close ally. The United States has long been Israel’s chief defender at the United Nations, including regularly vetoing measures at the Security Council that were critical of Israel.
In December, the lame duck Obama administration chose to abstain on such a resolution, allowing it to pass. The measure addressed Jewish home building in the occupied West Bank, and the U.S. action was a sign of President Barack Obama’s deep frustration with what he saw as Israeli action that threatened an eventual peace deal. The Trump administration opposes the measure and has been highly critical of the previous administration’s action. It cannot be quickly reversed, however.
Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon thanked the senators Friday. “Once again, America has stood strongly by Israel, and stood up for truth and justice. It is time to finally put an end to the UN’s biased approach toward Israel,” Danon said through a spokesman.
The Senate letter reflects what the letter’s authors, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), said are encouraging signs that Guterres may be willing to change some U.N. procedures that Israel and the United States say amount to discrimination. Guterres yanked and disavowed a U.N. report last month likening Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to apartheid. His spokesman said the report had been published without Guterres’s permission. “If you continue to build on your recent action, we stand ready to work with you to eliminate the organization’s anti-Israel bias, and to fight anti-Semitism in all its forms,” the senators wrote.
On Sunday, Guterres told a pro-Israel audience that he cannot police all anti-Israel bias at the United Nations, but he said Israel should not be singled out for special scrutiny. “A modern form of anti-Semitism is the denial of the right of the state of Israel to exist,” the news service JTA quoted Guterres as saying at a meeting of the World Jewish Congress. “As secretary general of the United Nations, I can say that the state of Israel needs to be treated as any other state, with exactly the same rules.” “We’re glad every single senator decided to sign onto this letter,” Rubio spokesman Matt Wolking said. “That doesn’t happen often.”
The letter comes ahead of the first meeting between President Trump and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who will visit the White House next week. “Since it is rare for all 100 senators to agree on an issue, this letter sends a powerful bipartisan message to the U.N. that its anti-Israel bias must end,” said Marshall Wittmann, spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
[Read the letter Senator’s letter here—Ed.]
THE WORLD’S MOST UN-FAIR ORGANIZATION
Algemeiner, Apr. 2, 2017
Have you ever wondered why the United Nations is so anti-Israel? Did you know that the UN Human Rights Council has passed more resolutions against Israel than all other countries combined? Take a look at the rest of the world.
The Syrian civil war has been raging since 2011, with close to 500,000 deaths. Hezbollah has built an arsenal of approximately 150,000 rockets in Southern Lebanon, which is a flagrant violation of UN resolution 1701. North Korea continues its rogue behavior, with provocative missile launches and grotesque human rights abuses. Iran launches missiles with “Israel must be wiped out” painted on them, and is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. And yet the UN is silent.
But the UN is not silent when it comes to Israel. Keep in mind that Israel is 8,000 square miles in size, roughly the size of New Jersey. Its population, including more than 1 million Arabs is just over 8,000,000. The Jewish population of Israel is approximately 6.5 million. Israel represents less than one tenth of one percent of the entire world.
So why does Israel and its ongoing conflict with the Palestinians garner so much attention from the UN? A closer look inside the make-up of the UN provides the answer. First, let’s examine the most anti-Israel body within the organization — the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). Since 2006, the HRC has passed no less than 60 resolutions against Israel. That’s a sustained average of almost one every other month for the past 10 years. In 2016 alone, the HRC passed 20 resolutions. Incredibly 10 of those were passed on a single day. Meanwhile, in 2016, a total of 4 resolutions were passed against countries in the rest of the world. This seems almost absurd, until you look more closely at the HRC.
There are 47 member nations that comprise the HRC. Keep in mind that its focus is “human rights.” Yet look at some of its members — China, Cuba, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Qatar, Burundi, Bangladesh, UAE, etc. Shouldn’t members be beacons of protecting human rights? Yet these countries are some of the worst offenders. The actual structure of the HRC is quite telling. The council divides the nations of the world into five regions: Africa (13 members); Asia (13) Latin America/Caribbean (8); Western Europe (7); and Eastern Europe (6). The US is part of the Western Europe region.
Now here’s where the rubber meets the road. Every nation where Muslims make up 50% or more of the general population is in one of two regions: the African or Asian region. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that when those two regions vote as a block, their 26 votes comprise an automatic majority of the HRC’s 47 members. The US is home to the United Nations, and puts up roughly 22% of the UN’s yearly budget. Yet on the HRC, the US doesn’t even have its own region — it’s buried as a member of the Western Europe region, which has only 7 member nations. It can be easily out voted by the Muslim dominated African and Asian regions.
Once you understand how the HRC is structured, it’s clear why they ignore many other obvious problematic areas, and devote so much attention to Israel. Israel is in the heart of the Middle East, and has been a thorn in the side of the Arab Muslim world since the moment it was reborn in 1948. The existence of a sovereign Jewish state on land that most of the Muslim world considers holy represents a huge obstacle to their goal of “liberating” all of Israel and turning it into Palestine.
And the problem isn’t limited to the HRC. The UN Department of Political Affairs has an entire division devoted to Palestinian affairs. No other people, or nation, enjoy such a distinction. Plus, there are other anti-Israel UN agencies. UNESCO, for example, is in the business of revising history by passing resolutions reclassifying Jewish holy sites, such as the Cave of the Patriarchs and the Temple Mount, as Muslims holy sites. This is in outright contradiction to documented historical fact.
There’s also the UNRWA, which is the only UN refugee agency created exclusively for one group of people: the Arab Palestinians. It runs schools in the Gaza Strip and in Judea and Samaria that openly teach students to commit jihad against Israel and the Jews. Then there’s the UN Security Council, which recently passed a resolution naming Israeli “settlements” as the main obstacle to peace. The resolution completely ignored Arab Palestinian terrorism.
The United Nations as an organization is charged with upholding dignity and security for all the nations of the world, big and small. Yet, is it acting with equal vigilance in enforcing these noble principles when it comes to Israel? The answer is a resounding no! One could make a strong case that the UN has a separate anti-Israel agenda from its overall mission, effectively making it the largest anti-Israel organization in the world (unofficially, of course).
However, now that Donald Trump is president and Nikki Haley is the US ambassador who sits on the Security Council, we are about to see Israel getting the support at the UN that it rightfully deserves. For example, a UN committee — ESCWA (Economic Social Commission of Western Asia) — recently released a report accusing Israel of practicing “apartheid.” After vigorous protest from the Trump administration and others, it has since been pulled from their website.
Moreover, Trump has indicated that the US may consider taking punitive action against the UN and some of its internal agencies — in the form of reducing or eliminating financial support — due to it’s anti-Israel activities. There have even been discussions about the US withdrawing from the Human Rights Council. We are in the early stages of a long overdue new era. It’s about time someone “Trumpets” support for Israel.
THE UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR OF THE GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER
Jerusalem Post, Apr. 26, 2017
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel displayed unprecedented chutzpa and insensitivity during his official visit to Israel to participate in ceremonies on Holocaust Remembrance Day when he scheduled meetings with organizations who accuse us of engaging in war crimes.
Principal among these is Breaking the Silence, which virtually all sectors of the Israeli political mainstream, including the opposition, have condemned – not because they oppose or campaign against the government but because they are a primarily foreign-sponsored fringe entity engaged in a global campaign directed toward foreign governments to depict the IDF as war criminals.
It is not a “left wing” group. It consists of vicious self-hating Jews. It keeps its “sources” – primarily anonymous – confidential. It does not investigate or verify its findings with the IDF, which examines and prosecutes all irregularities brought to its attention, but instead sends emissaries abroad to undermine Israel’s image. There has even been public debate in recent months about the merits of introducing Knesset legislation to curb its global smear campaigns.
For the foreign minister of Germany to meet with such elements, especially during this sensitive visit, illustrates the depths to which some German leaders have sunk. Gabriel is a leader of the German Social Democratic Party in the coalition and no doubt feels that his anti-Israeli posturing may attract Left-inclined voters who despise the Jewish state. It is probably no coincidence that during an election campaign, Gabriel referred to Israel in a Facebook post as an “apartheid regime for which there is no justification.”
He was disingenuous when he refused to cancel the meeting, regarding it as “totally normal” on the grounds that “you never get the full picture of any state in the world if you just meet with figures in government ministries,” and considered it his obligation to also hear alternative viewpoints.
Nobody questioned the foreign minister’s right to talk to all sections of the public including those deeply opposed to the government, such as the far Left and Arab representatives. But one must draw the line between a foreign minister meeting those with opposing viewpoints and a fringe organization like Breaking the Silence, which has been almost universally condemned as a subversive group whose principal aim is not to criticize the government but to actively engage in global dissemination of false depictions of the IDF, the world’s most moral army, as an army committing deliberate war crimes.
Gabriel says, “Imagine if the Israeli prime minister… came to Germany and wanted to meet people critical of the government and we said that is not possible. That would be unthinkable.” Really? The proper analogy is not with “people critical of the government” but rather those seeking to undermine the essence of the country’s security. How would Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel have reacted if on a state visit, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arranged for a meeting with representatives of a group extolling the virtues of the Baader-Meinhof terrorist gang or a foreign-sponsored fringe group despised by Germans of all political persuasion for engaging in campaigns to depict her police and military forces as war criminals? Gabriel’s analogy is even weaker when one takes account of the fact that Israel is under siege and its very existence is challenged by some of its neighbors while Germany faces no such threat.
Gabriel was utterly unfazed by Netanyahu threatening to cancel his meeting, stating that failure to meet the prime minister would not be a “catastrophe” and “would not change his ties with Israel.” It was especially sickening for a German government representative purporting to be participating in a Holocaust memorial event to behave in this manner. He stands and places a wreath at Yad Vashem and two days later effectively embraces a subversive group seeking to demonize the IDF, whose mission is to ensure our security and protect us from future holocausts and from the barbarians who seek our destruction.
Netanyahu is to be applauded for his response. It is disappointing that Isaac Herzog did not speak up and display a united front. He too has previously condemned Breaking the Silence as a subversive anti-Israel organization. That at least would have sent a message to the world that Gabriel’s meeting with this group was considered inappropriate by all sections of the mainstream in Israel.
By refusing to meet Gabriel, Netanyahu made a public statement. We don’t expect special treatment, but today, in the week we commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day, we are strong enough to tell you to stay away if you behave with such contempt, that would be considered unacceptable by any self-respecting state. Above all, we would expect more sensitive behavior from a German minister, especially one who regards himself as a potential future leader of his nation.
WORLD WAR II ‘AVENGER’ REVEALS
HIS HEROIC NAZI-KILLING PAST
New York Post, Apr. 9, 2017
On the day the Nazis ambushed his guerrilla camp in the dark forests outside Vilna, Benjamin Levin could feel the gunshots whizzing past. One of his comrades fell, and Levin grabbed him by the leg and dragged him from behind, looking for an escape. Blood-splattered, heart pounding, the Jewish resistance fighter ran straight into “a hurricane of bullets” and kept running until he could no longer hear them. He doesn’t know how he made it out alive, but offers one explanation: At just 14 years old, he was so short, the bullets went right over his head.
For several months before that 1941 attack, Levin and about two dozen others had been hiding in the Lithuanian woods, training and preparing attacks against the Nazis. They slept in makeshift bunkers carved from tangled scrub, drank green pond water that left a sandy film on their throats, and lived on a diet of bitter mushrooms and berries. “To this day, I don’t know how we survived,” says Levin, who will celebrate his 90th birthday on Passover Monday at a Westchester nursing home.
He is the last survivor of a group of Jewish vigilantes who called themselves the Avengers and vowed to kill as many Nazis as there were Jews who were exterminated. Like his commander, Abba Kovner, who famously exhorted Jews not to go “like sheep to the slaughter,” Levin fought back. His incredible story of heroism and wartime survival was documented by the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation and is being told for the first time in The Post. “This story is important because it breaks the stereotype of Jewish passivity during the Holocaust,” said Mitch Braff, the founding director of the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, which chronicles the wartime exploits of some 30,000 Jewish “partisans” who operated throughout the Third Reich. “They were responsible for thousands of acts of sabotage against the Nazis as they headed to the Eastern Front.”
Unlike the larger and more organized group of Jewish partisans founded by the Bielski clan in Poland, whose heroics were chronicled in the 2008 film “Defiance,” Levin’s group never comprised more than two dozen members. But they were a daring fighting force. During the war, Levin and his group destroyed 180 miles of railroad, blew up five bridges and destroyed 40 Nazi train cars. They took no prisoners, preferring to shoot enemies on the spot. They killed 212 enemy soldiers, according to the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation.
With his diminutive stature, Levin was recruited as a scout and saboteur for the small group, consisting of Jewish intellectuals and revolutionaries who had set up a clandestine base of operations in the Lithuanian forests in anticipation of the Nazi takeover of the country in July 1941. His older brother Shmuel, a fervent Zionist who was 18 when he joined the group, was one of its founders. Eventually, as hostilities escalated, his sister Bluma would also join.
Wiry and street smart, Levin could pass undetected among Lithuanian and Nazi soldiers to courier messages to different factions of the resistance, some of them working out of the Jewish ghetto in Vilna. Desperate Jews entrusted him with their valuables, which he exchanged on the black market for food and medicine. He also helped to blow up bridges, telephone poles and railroad tracks to slow the trains heading to death camps. The youngest member of the group, he learned to use his pistol from a fellow Avenger. Rozka Korczak was one of the few women leaders of the Jewish partisans, and its fiercest warrior. “At first, I saw this as a game,” said Levin in an interview with Shoah Foundation researchers. “I was reading a lot of books about conspiracy and the Russian underground. For me, it started out as a great adventure.”
And, while he says he can no longer remember how many Nazis he personally wounded or killed, Levin’s acts of sabotage were so numerous that more than 70 years after the end of World War II, Lithuania still has an outstanding warrant for his arrest. By his own account, Benjamin Levin grew up with “a wild streak.” He was smoking cigarettes by the time he was 8 and hanging out with a gang of young hoodlums on the streets, which caused no end of grief for his mother and father — prosperous Jewish merchants who operated a gourmet food store in the center of Vilna. Before the Nazi occupation, the city was an important hub of Jewish life, and home to more than 100 synagogues…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
Israel May Lose Europe in Jerusalem Sovereignty Battle at UNESCO: Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 27, 2017—Israel fears Europe might abstain or support a resolution that would reject Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem, which UNESCO’s executive board in Paris is likely to vote on at its meeting on Tuesday, diplomatic sources told The Jerusalem Post. Representatives from European nations and Arab states held consultations in Paris on Thursday to agree on a common text for Tuesday’s meeting.
UNRWA Won’t Be Changing School Textbooks and Curriculum: Jewish Press, Apr. 18, 2017—Following all the exposure of incitement and anti-Semitism in the UNRWA schools, there was pressure on UNWRA to clean up the books and the curriculum they’re teaching from all the anti-Semitism. Khaled Abu Toameh reports that it won’t be happening, “UNRWA says it has no intention to change textbooks and will continue to teach according to Palestinian Authority curriculum.”
Netanyahu’s Bold Move Against Europe: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 27, 2017—On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adopted a new strategy for managing Israel’s diplomatic relations with the West. Long in the making and increasingly urgent, Israel’s new strategy is very simple. Foreign governments can either treat Israel in accordance with international diplomatic norms of behavior, or they can continue to discriminate against Israel.
RÉFÉRENDUM EN TURQUIE
Times of Israel, 23 avril, 2017
Vox populi vox dei. Cet adage montre la confiance que l’on fait à la sagesse populaire afin de prendre une décision majoritaire. La Turquie sort d’un référendum visant à augmenter les pouvoirs du président.
Lorsque l’on sait que 120 000 fonctionnaires turcs dont 30 000 enseignants ont été limogés, que la presse nationale et l’appareil judiciaire sont muselés, que des parlementaires kurdes ont été incarcérés et que la Turquie a été classée au 75e rang en ce qui touche à la perception de corruption (comparé à la 66e place en 2015) par Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, il y a lieu de se demander quel pouvoir supplémentaire qu’il ne s’est pas déjà octroyé a été nécessaire au président Erdogan et quel besoin a-t-il eu de chercher à le légitimer.
La victoire à l’arraché au référendum du 16 avril polarise plus que jamais la société turque.
En 1999, Erdogan qualifiait la démocratie « d’autobus dont on descend une fois arrivé à destination. » Arrivé au pouvoir, il a commencé par vanter le modèle turc de démocratie islamique, jetant de la poudre aux yeux à l’Occident et même aux mouvements populaires qui ont accompagné le printemps arabe.
Il a clamé à qui voulait l’entendre que son parti islamiste AKP est tout aussi libéral que les partis chrétien-démocrates en Europe. Ses manœuvres politiques d’une habileté rare lui ont permis d’écarter l’armée du pouvoir et d’islamiser graduellement, mais systématiquement les institutions turques.
La démocratie turque est devenue une autocratie et la Turquie n’arrête pas de régresser sur de nombreux plans.
Tout comme certains islamistes cachent leur jeu et rallient leurs ouailles en décriant l’islamophobie, Erdogan s’est créé une série d’ennemis de service en recourant à des théories conspirationnistes, en blâmant des forces obscures, l’Occident, Israël, la Russie, les Kurdes, la mouvance güleniste (soupçonnée d’avoir dévoilé la corruption de ses proches), l’Iran puis les pays d’Europe qui refusent de le voir faire campagne sur leur sol et qu’il qualifie de nazis.
Le putsch raté de juillet 2016 a été le prétexte rêvé pour démanteler les institutions, les remplacer par ses partisans et intimider les critiques par des accusations d’espionnage ou de terrorisme.
Avant même le putsch, le nombre de prisonniers en Turquie est passé de 50,000 en 2010 à près de 160,000 en 2014. De nombreux organes médiatiques d’opposition et ceux des minorités kurde et alévi ont été bâillonnés. Les ingrédients essentiels d’une démocratie, soit l’indépendance de la justice et la liberté de presse ont été subvertis.
Malgré ces limitations, il y a encore moyen d’exprimer une opposition en Turquie: ainsi et face au tollé général, le gouvernement a dû reculer lorsqu’il a voulu légaliser l’amnistie d’une personne accusée de viol si elle épouse sa victime.
Suite à l’islamisation des institutions d’enseignement et l’encouragement du modèle institutionnel Imam-Hatib (le nombre d’élèves inscrits est passé de 60,000 en 2002 à 1,2 million en 2016), la qualité de l’enseignement a considérablement baissé, chutant de la 42e place à la 52e place dans le classement du Programme international pour le suivi des acquis des élèves PISA (Program for International Student Assessment).
De plus, la moyenne de scolarisation est très en dessous de celle des pays de l’OCDE : 28% des adolescents âgés de 15 à 19 ans ne sont pas scolarisés. 15% des filles mineures sont mariées.
Au niveau économique, la croissance annuelle miraculeuse de 6 à 9% entre 2000 et 2015 a décru à moins de 2%. Durant les trois dernières années, les avoirs de réserve de devises ont diminué de 10% et les réserves d’or ont chuté de 27%. En 5 ans, la livre turque a dévalué de plus de 100% par rapport au dollar américain. Les capitaux fuient la Turquie.
Le tourisme qui fait vivre près de 2 millions de travailleurs accuse une décroissance de plus de 20% et de nombreux sites de villégiature ont fermé leur porte. L’autoritarisme du président Erdogan décourage les investisseurs étrangers et les agences de notation financière révisent à la baisse la note de solvabilité de la Turquie.
Sur la scène internationale, Erdogan a changé ses alliances dans un manège sans fin. Il est de moins en moins pris au sérieux et la marge de manœuvre turque devient de plus en plus limitée. Berlin, Vienne, Copenhague et Amsterdam ont émis des réserves en regard des campagnes politiques organisées par la Turquie dans leur pays.
Pour ces capitales européennes, l’heure des débats démocratiques équilibrés a fait place à des débats partisans et acrimonieux qui risquent de faire oublier aux résidents turcs d’Europe qu’ils constituent une minorité dans une société laïque.
Erdogan a émis une opinion qui résonne comme une menace à peine voilée en déclarant quelques heures avant l’attentat perpétré à Londres : « Si l’Europe continue ainsi (à malmener la Turquie), aucun Européen dans n’importe quel partie du monde ne pourra marcher en sureté dans les rues. » Il a renchéri en ajoutant : « Le référendum du 16 avril est très important.
Si c’est nécessaire, pour la patrie et pour l’avenir, nous avons assez de sang à faire couler. » De telles déclarations contribuent à isoler la Turquie des démocraties européennes.
De la même façon, Erdogan a l’ambition de restaurer la gloire de l’Empire ottoman et se comporte avec l’autorité et la pugnacité d’un calife belliqueux. Il oublie que l’Europe a de très grandes difficultés d’intégration de ses populations immigrées et qu’elle a des raisons de redouter l’encouragement à la délation et l’embrigadement islamique des 5,5 millions de résidents turcs qui y résident.
Pour satisfaire sa soif dictatoriale, Erdogan s’est basé sur la population rurale conservatrice. Pour augmenter son bassin de votants, il a déclenché des discours et des actes antikurdes qui plaisent au parti d’opposition nationaliste du MHP. Pour défaire le vote libéral et pro occidental, il a cherché à démolir la sympathie à l’endroit de l’Europe en traitant certains de ses leaders de fascistes et de nazis.
Par ailleurs, près de 500 000 Kurdes de l’Est de la Turquie ont dû fuir leur résidence et n’ont pu voter faute d’adresse. Quant aux indécis qui ne se sont pas prononcés, ils ont vécu avec la crainte de faire l’objet de représailles au même titre que les critiques du régime. Alors que le parlement turc votait sur la proposition référendaire, les membres du parti AKP au pouvoir ont été forcés de faire montre de leur vote bien que la constitution exige un vote secret.
La victoire à l’arraché au référendum du 16 avril polarise plus que jamais la société turque : les deux partis qui se sont prononcés en faveur du référendum auraient normalement dû récolter plus de 60% des voix. Ils n’en ont obtenus que 51,3%. La majorité des grandes villes et des régions peuplées de Kurdes ont voté contre l’augmentation des pouvoirs d’Erdogan.
Des irrégularités dans le comptage du vote (acceptation tardive d’enveloppes non étampées) ont donné lieu à des manifestations; le parti républicain CHP qui est le parti d’opposition le plus important a demandé à la Cour suprême d’annuler le vote; son porte-parole Selin Sayek Böke a déclaré ne pas reconnaître la validité du résultat et a menacé de se retirer du parlement.
Rien ne laisse penser que le déclin de la Turquie cessera car sous Erdogan, la Turquie a régressé sur toute la ligne : ses institutions s’écroulent, ses universités sont dysfonctionnelles, ses médias sont quasiment muselés, l’économie est en recul, les rapports avec l’Europe se dégradent et le problème interne avec les Kurdes refait surface. Le président Erdogan orchestre cette décadence et la Turquie en paie le prix.
Au XIXe siècle, la Turquie était considérée comme « l’homme malade de l’Europe. » Aujourd’hui, la Turquie est devenue « l’homme malade de la démocratie. » Plus que jamais, la Turquie correspond au portrait qu’en avait fait le penseur Celal Nuri Ileri il y a de cela plusieurs décennies : la Turquie est un vaisseau au pavillon frappé à l’effigie d’un croissant et d’une étoile (le drapeau turc) qui navigue vers l’Est alors que son équipage pense qu’il se dirige vers l’Ouest.
« SI PERSONNE NE BOUGE, NUL NE SAIT OÙ ERDOGAN S'ARRÊTERA »
Le Figaro, 21 mars, 2017
Après avoir traité les Allemands et les Hollandais de «nazis» à la suite de l'interdiction des meetings de ses ministres, Erdogan menace et déclare vouloir en faire «payer le prix» aux Pays-Bas. Que cela vous inspire-t-il?
Hadrien DESUIN.- Erdogan se surpasse toujours dans l'outrage. La nouveauté c'est qu'il n'a plus aucune retenue face aux Européens. Autant les Turcs se sont habitués, autant les Occidentaux découvrent au fur et à mesure la vraie personnalité du leader islamiste. La fermeture de l'ambassade des Pays-Bas et le drapeau turc hissé sur son toit est un geste diplomatique extrêmement grave. On reste encore dans l'escalade verbale et les rétorsions diplomatiques habituelles. Je pense que la crise sera contenue dans le cadre des campagnes électorales qui se terminent à Amsterdam et à Ankara. Cela étant, à chaque étape, Erdogan pousse un peu plus loin. Le leader islamiste turc prend confiance et fait sentir son pouvoir de nuisance en Europe. Si personne ne bouge, nul ne sait où il s'arrêtera.
À deux jours d'une élection aux Pays-Bas, quelles peuvent être les conséquences de ces polémiques?
Mark Rutte, le candidat de la droite conservatrice libérale, a sans doute gagné en termes d'image. Il y a un consensus au Pays-Bas sur le fait qu'il ne fallait pas se laisser piétiner par le parti d'Erdogan. La crise diplomatique vient à point nommé pour remobiliser ses électeurs du Parti populaire, libéral et démocrate (VVD).
Toutefois, l'opposition aux ingérences turques et à l'islam politique en général était l'apanage de Geert Wilders. Lequel est le grand gagnant de cette affaire, au moins sur le terrain des idées. Il aurait certes pu surfer sur le laxisme du gouvernement hollandais si Mevlut Cavusoglu avait pu faire son meeting. Mais aujourd'hui, il se félicite d'avoir eu raison avant tout le monde. Le fait est que les Turcs ont joué, bon gré mal gré, un rôle très important dans la campagne électorale aux Pays-Bas. C'est regrettable. À chaque scrutin, la question de l'islam politique prend plus d'importance. On approche du point de rupture.
Les Turcs de l'étranger, concernés par ces meetings à l'approche d'un référendum en Turquie, ont pourtant un poids électoral assez relatif. Quel est l'enjeu réel pour Erdogan?
Vu d'Ankara, le résultat du plébiscite doit être sans équivoque en faveur du clan Erdogan. Il a besoin d'un score éclatant qui soit à la mesure de sa propre estime: démesurée. Sa réforme constitutionnelle qui vise à centraliser encore un peu plus les pouvoirs autour de sa personne est aussi un référendum pour ou contre Erdogan. Il faut donc faire campagne en Europe et ses 4 millions d'électeurs turcs.
Par ailleurs, le gouvernement turc veille à mobiliser ses diasporas car il redoute l'assimilation de ces populations dans leur pays d'adoption. Il s'agit de maintenir ces Turcs dans leur culture d'origine. Des Turcs libéraux et européanisés, c'est la hantise d'Erdogan.
Ces électeurs de l'AKP ont parfois le double droit de vote. Grâce à la double nationalité, ils votent en Turquie et en Europe. Ces cohortes d'électeurs sont un moyen de pression sur les partenaires européens. C'est pour cette raison que les réactions européennes à la crise diplomatique actuelle restent dans l'ensemble très modérées. Il ne s'agit pas de se brouiller avec une puissance renaissante comme la Turquie mais aussi avec les quartiers turcs des grandes villes.
Erdogan est à lui seul un défi pour la stratégie Terra Nova. Ses outrances mettent à nu les ambiguïtés des progressistes. Lesquels ne voient pas que leur tolérance revendiquée de l'islamisme rime avec complaisance et lâcheté.
Contrairement à l'Allemagne et aux Pays-Bas, la France a autorisé un meeting turc à Metz ce dimanche…
Il faut reconnaître que le risque de trouble à l'ordre public n'était pas le même. La diaspora turque en France n'a pas l'importance qu'elle a en Allemagne et aux Pays-Bas. Mais le signal envoyé par la France à ses partenaires d'Europe du Nord n'est pas du meilleur effet. On a déjà vu la Patrie des droits de l'Homme plus soucieuse de ses valeurs.
Plus largement, que dit cette polémique des relations entre l'Europe et la Turquie?
Tout d'abord qu'Erdogan ne comprend rien à la culture européenne. Les Pays-Bas ont courageusement résisté à l'invasion allemande de 1940. Le bombardement de Rotterdam et les quatre années d'occupation qui ont suivi ont été un véritable martyr. Pendant ce temps, la République turque signait un pacte de non-agression avec Hitler (qui ne fut rompu qu'en 1945). Erdogan qui vantait le 31 décembre 2015, de retour d'Arabie saoudite, l'efficacité de la centralisation du régime nazi, fait la leçon à l'Europe. Les références politiques du président turc devraient nous éclairer sur sa vraie nature.
En Europe du Nord où la question des droits de l'Homme est la plus sensible, il y a comme une prise de conscience ces derniers jours. Les pays de la Scandinavie et de la mer du Nord , sous la pression des élections, ouvrent les yeux sur la Turquie d'aujourd'hui. Les communautés kurdes et arméniennes qui souffrent de sa domination ont joué un rôle non négligeable pour contrer la propagande turque en Europe.
L'arrogance d'Erdogan, quoique d'apparence burlesque, doit être prise au sérieux. Il est clairement en position de force. Son armée occupe des pans entiers de la Syrie. Il engrange des milliards d'euros pour retenir les réfugiés du Moyen-Orient sur son sol. Il continue, même lentement, à négocier ses chapitres d'adhésion à l'Union européenne. L'accord signé avec l'Allemagne place toute l'Europe dans une situation de dépendance stratégique inédite. Situation dont nous ne pouvons sortir que d'une façon: menacer d'exclure définitivement la Turquie du marché européen et du processus d'adhésion.
GUTERRES S’ENGAGE A LUTTER CONTRE L’OBSESSION ANTI-ISRAËL
DE L’ONU ET CONTRE L’ANTISEMITISME
Times of Israel, 24 avril, 2017
Le secrétaire général des Nations unies Antonio Guterress s’est engagé à lutter contre la partialité anti-Israël à l’ONU et a ajouté que l’État juif devait être traité comme n’importe quel État membre.
Durant l’assemblée plénière du Congrès juif mondial à New York à l’occasion de Yom HaShoah, le chef de l’ONU a déclaré qu’en tant que secrétaire général, il sera « en première ligne du combat contre l’antisémitisme », et il a qualifié sa recrudescence en Europe et aux États-Unis d’ « absolument inacceptable ».
Il a promis qu’il « s’assurerait que les Nations unies soient en mesure de mener toutes les actions possibles pour que l’antisémitisme soit condamné, et si possible, éradiqué de la surface de la Terre. »
Guterres a déclaré que « malgré le choc de l’Holocauste, l’antisémitisme n’est jamais mort », et a ajouté qu’il était « bien vivant aujourd’hui ». Il a évoqué le discours raciste sur internet, les attaques qui ciblent la communauté juive, et la destruction de monuments et de cimetières juifs.
Guterres a ajouté qu’il « garantira » que ceux qui travaillent sous ses ordres se plieront aux principes qu’il juge justes.
« En tant que secrétaire général des Nations unies, je considère que l’État d’Israël doit être traité comme tous les autres états », a-t-il déclaré, déclenchant un tonnerre d’applaudissement.
Il a souligné qu’Israël avait « incontestablement le droit d’exister et de vivre en paix et en sécurité avec ses voisins », et que « le refus de reconnaitre l’État d’Israël est une forme moderne d’antisémitisme ».
« J’ai déjà eu l’opportunité de montre que je suis prêt à me plier à ce principe, même quand il me contraint à prendre des décisions difficiles », a-t-il ajouté, en référence à un clivage qui se renforce au regard de la partialité de l’ONU, qui a été exacerbé le mois dernier, quand une experte de l’ONU a publié une virulent critique de la politique israélienne.
L’ancienne fonctionnaire de l’ONU et ressortissante jordanienne Rima Khalaf a déclaré le mois dernier que Guterres lui avait demandé de retirer un rapport dans lequel elle accusait Israël d’être un « pays apartheid », suite à quoi elle avait démissionné. Le chef de l’ONU a ajouté que « cela ne signifie pas que je serais d’accord avec toutes les décisions qui seront prises par le gouvernement d’Israël ».
Son discours d’une quinzaine de minutes à été interrompu par plus de 11 salves d’applaudissement. L’ancien Premier ministre portugais a également eu droit à une standing ovation. C’était la première fois qu’un secrétaire général des Nations unies s’adressait à des dirigeants juifs du monde entier.
Le mois dernier, Israël a annoncé une coupe budgétaire de 2 millions de dollars dans ses contributions au budget de l’ONU, en raison des critiques constantes émises par le Conseil des Droits de l’Homme sur sa politique envers les Palestiniens.
Israël a déjà réduit de 6 millions de dollars sur les 11,7 millions après que le Conseil de Sécurité a condamné la politique des implantations par Israël, en décembre.
Lundi, le Conseil de Sécurité de l’ONU devait rencontrer le président américain Donald Trump et des élus américains pour des discussions, susceptibles d’inclure la question du conflit israélo-palestinien et la baisse du financement de l’ONU.
UN WATCH FUSTIGE L’ONU, QUI A ÉLU L’ARABIE SAOUDITE DANS UN COMITÉ SUR L’ÉGALITÉ DES GENRES
Times of Israel, 25 avril 2017
Une association a fustigé dimanche la nomination de l’Arabie Saoudite à un comité des Nations unies sur l’égalité des genres, déclarant que ce choix était absurde étant donné la discrimination que pratique ouvertement le royaume envers les femmes.
Le Conseil économique et social des Nations unies (CESNU) a élu mercredi 13 membres, dont l’Arabie Saoudite, pour un mandat de quatre ans à la commission sur le Statut des Femmes, un comité « exclusivement dédié à la promotion de l’égalité des genres et à donner plus des pouvoir aux femmes ».
En 2016, l’Arabie Saoudite était classée 141e sur 144 par l’Index mondial des inégalités liées au genre. En Arabie Saoudite, les femmes n’ont pas le droit de conduire, de voyager, de faire des affaires et de prendre certaines décisions médicales sans l’accord d’un tuteur masculin.
Hillel Neuer, directeur exécutif d’UN Watch, a condamné cette décision. « La discrimination saoudienne à l’encontre des femmes est répugnante et systématique, en droit et en fait, a déclaré Neuer. Pourquoi les Nations unies ont-elles choisi le plus grand promoteur de l’inégalité dans le monde pour siéger à la commission sur l’égalité des genres ? », a-t-il demandé dans un communiqué.
« Choisir l’Arabie Saoudite pour protéger les droits des femmes, c’est comme nommer un pyromane chef des pompiers », a-t-il ensuite tweeté. En janvier, un rapporteur spécial des Nations unies pour les droits de l’Homme, Philip Alston, avait critiqué le royaume pour son traitement des femmes.
« L’interdiction de conduire devrait être levée et les femmes ne devraient plus avoir besoin de l’autorisation de tuteur masculin pour travailler ou voyager », a dit Alston. Dans un rapport de 2015, le département d’Etat américain avait conclu que le royaume faisait preuve d’une grave discrimination envers les femmes.
Puisqu’il n’y avait que 13 candidats pour 13 sièges au conseil, l’élection de l’Arabie Saoudite était déjà jouée. Pourtant, les Etats-Unis ont insisté sur la tenue d’un vote secret pour approuver les candidats, plutôt que pour l’obtention d’une nomination unanime et automatique. L’Arabie Saoudite a obtenu le moins de nombre de votes, avec 47 voix sur les 54 membres votant.
FILLON LARGEMENT EN TÊTE EN ISRAËL
ACTUJ, 24 avril 2017
François Fillon arrive largement en tête avec 5056 voix soit 60,41% des suffrages exprimés. Néanmoins, son score est bien inférieur à celui de Nicolas Sarkozy, candidat de la droite en 2012. L’ancien Président de la République avait obtenu environ 81% des voix. François Fillon réalise tout de même un score très important en Israël, bien supérieur à son score national (19,9%).
Emmanuel Macron, le leader du mouvement En Marche, obtient 2589 voix, ce qui correspond à 30,93% des suffrages exprimés. Quasi inconnu il y a 2 ans, l’ancien ministre de l’économie réalise un score conséquent. Marine Le Pen suit avec 311 voix, soit 3,72% des suffrages. Son score est faible par rapport à son total national.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, candidat de la France insoumise, prend la 4e place avec 134 voix c’est-à-dire 1,60% des électeurs. Un score assez similaire à celui de 2012 pour le candidat d’extrême gauche. En 5e position on trouve Nicolas Dupont-Aignan avec 1,08% (90 voix).
6e, Benoit Hamon candidat du Parti Socialiste, totalise 0,98% des suffrages (82 voix). François Hollande, le candidat du Parti Socialiste en 2012, avait réalisé 8% des voix.
Plusieurs candidats n’atteignent pas les 1%. Jean Lassalle totalise 0,51% des suffrages (43 voix). François Asselineau obtient 0,33% (28 voix) Philippe Poutou suit avec 0,25% (21 voix). Nathalie Arthaud et Jacques Cheminade ferment la marche avec 0,10% (8 voix chacun).
LE GRAND RABBIN DE FRANCE APPELLE À VOTER POUR MACRON
ACTUJ, 25 avril 2017
La liste des personnalités communautaires juives qui appellent à faire barrage au Front national s’allonge chaque jour davantage. Après le président du Crif Francis Khalifat et Sacha Ghozlan de l’UEJF, le grand Rabbin de France Haïm Korsia a également donné une consigne de vote très claire : faire barrage au FN, en soutenant un Front républicain. Autrement dit, voter pour le candidat d’En Marche !, contre son adversaire Marine le Pen. « Il faut appeler tous ceux qui croient et qui espèrent en la France à voter pour Emmanuel Macron, parce que c'est lui qui porte, maintenant, cette espérance de fraternité », a-t-il déclaré.
« L'immuable de la France c'est l'accueil, l'ouverture au monde. La France, en hébreu, se dit « Tsarfat », ce qui veut dire « creuset ». Peut-on imaginer un creuset dans lequel on ne veut pas certains métaux? Dans le creuset qu'est la France, on met tous les métaux, les personnalités, les origines, les espérances qui l'ont composée » a-t-il ajouté, évoquant à demi-mot, les positions du parti de Marine le Pen.
Sa prise de position est intimement liée au contexte, comme il l’explique: « Je me dois d'être neutre institutionnellement. Mais, dans ce cas de figure, il ne s'agit pas d'être neutre. Yves Simon chante 'le silence est toujours complice ou trompeur'. Aujourd'hui, s'abstenir c'est être complice ou trompeur ».
TRUMP PRÉPARERAIT SON PREMIER VOYAGE
EN ISRAËL POUR LE MOIS DE MAI
Times of Israel, 26 avril, 2017
Les responsables à Jérusalem et à Washington sont en pleines négociations pour planifier une visite en Israël pour le président américain Donald Trump en mai, selon les médias israéliens mercredi.
Si le projet est mené à terme, il s’agira de la première visite en Israël pour Trump.
Trump, qui avait à l’origine prévu de se rendre à Bruxelles le mois prochain pour son premier déplacement officiel, pourrait prolonger son voyage en arrivant en Israël aux alentours du 21 mai.
Si la visite de Trump a effectivement lieu à ces dates, elle coïncidera avec les festivités pour le cinquantième anniversaire de la réunification de Jérusalem après la guerre des Six jours, en 1967, qui aura lieu cette année le 23 mai au soir et le 24 mai.
Elle coïncidera également avec une importante décision que Trump devra prendre, à savoir, s’il décide de délocaliser l’ambassade américaine à Jérusalem, depuis Tel Aviv, comme il l’avait promis durant sa campagne.
L’ambassadrice des Etats-Unis aux Nations unies, Nikki Haley, fera elle sa première visite en Israël en juin, a annoncé mercredi la Deuxième chaîne.
Haley est l’un des membres les plus entendus de l’administration Trump, et elle est très appréciée en Israël et dans la communauté juive américaine pour sa position infaillible contre le sentiment anti-israélien aux Nations unies.
Durant sa campagne électorale, Trump avait affirmé que s’il remportait l’élection, il déplacerait l’ambassade israélienne à Jérusalem. Ce geste était hautement symbolique pour Israël, car il confirme que Jérusalem en est bien la capitale. Mais il est en contradiction avec la position des Palestiniens et du monde Arabe qui veulent que Jérusalem Est soit la capitale du futur État palestinien.
Cependant, suite à ses rencontres avec les diplomates arabes, Trump a semblé revenir sur cette promesse, indiquant qu’il l’envisageait seulement.
À la fin de l’an dernier, l’ancien président Barack Obama a signé un formulaire pour empêcher le déplacement de l’ambassade à Jérusalem. C’était la huitième fois qu’Obama signait ce formulaire, qui doit être renouvelé tous les 6 mois. Le dernier formulaire expire à la fin du mois de mai.
Le Congrès a adopté une loi en 1995 qui mandate le déplacement de l’ambassade à Jérusalem, mais qui autorise le président à signer un formulaire de renonciation, au nom des intérêts sécuritaires nationaux des États-Unis. Les prédécesseurs d’Obama, George W. Bush et Bill Clinton avaient également signé ces formulaires de renonciation.
David Friedman, l’ambassadeur des États-Unis en Israël, nommé par Trump est également un fervent défenseur de ce déplacement. En décembre, suite à sa nomination, il avait déclaré qu’il était impatient de commencer à travailler depuis « l’ambassade américaine dans la capitale éternelle d’Israël, Jérusalem ».
De nombreux membres de la coalition israélienne ont salué cette initiative, et le Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu avait ajouté que ce serait « super ».
Écrit par Julien Bauer, IRCJ
Lundi 24 avril 2017,la Mairie de Montréal a organisé une cérémonie commémorative pour la Journée de l'Holocauste. Environ trois cent personnes y ont assisté,y compris des élèves des écoles secondaires Bialik, Herzliah,Marymount Academy et Lower Canada College.
Sidney Zoltak, survivant de Pologne, a relaté comment il avait été sauvé par une famille chrétienne polonaise. Quand il a recommandé à Yad Vashem de Jérusalem de la reconnaître comme " Justes parmi les Nations" les descendants de la famille ont demandé que cette reconnaissance soit discréte pour éviter toute attaque contre eux. S. Zoltak a aussi rappelé que lorsque les rarissimes survivants, 70 sur 7000, sont retournés dans leur village, l'antisémitisme y était tel qu'ils ont décidé de partir.
Le maire Denis Coderre a, pour sa part ,souligné l'apport des Juifs survivants de la Shoah au développement de Montréal.D. Coderre a réussi ce qu'aucun de ses prédécesseurs et aucun de ses collégues, maires de métropoles dans le monde, n'ont tenté :commémorer officiellement ,en tant que conseil municipal d' une grade ville, la Shoah , et trouver les paroles justes et empruntes d'émotion pour le faire.
On ne peut que souhaiter que d'autres maires suivent son exemple.
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Le « Communiqué Isranet » tente de transmettre une grande variété d'opinions sur Israël, le Proche-Orient et le monde juif à des fins d’enseignement et de recherche. Les articles reproduits et documents expriment les opinions de leurs auteurs et ne reflètent pas nécessairement le point de vue de l'Institut Canadien de Recherches sur le Judaïsme.
The Palestinians Don’t Want a Mandela, They Want Another Arafat: Jonathan S. Tobin, JNS, Apr. 25, 2017— Palestinian internal politics and liberal hostility to Israel came together at the New York Times this month.
Exploited by the Enemy: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Apr. 21, 2017— Two Gazan women were caught smuggling explosives into Israel for Hamas on Wednesday.
Rising Tensions in Gaza after PA Cuts Salaries: Pinhas Inbari, JCPA, Apr. 12, 2017 — The State Department published a travel warning on April 11 that called on all U.S. citizens to evacuate Gaza immediately, and to be careful in the West Bank and in Israel.
Palestinians' Real Enemies: Arabs: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Apr. 17, 2017— Palestinians living in refugee camps in the Arab world are facing ethnic cleansing, displacement, and death — but their leaders in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are too busy tearing each other to pieces to notice or even, apparently, care much.
Who is Marwan Barghouti?: Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, JCPA, Apr. 19, 2017
PA Tells Israel it Will No Longer Pay for Gaza’s Electricity: Dov Lieber, Times of Israel, Apr. 27, 2017
A Palestinian State or an Islamist Tyranny?: Giulio Meotti, Gatestone Institute, Apr. 26, 2017
Gaza: Let Their People Go!: Dr. Martin Sherman, Arutz Sheva, Apr. 21, 2017
THE PALESTINIANS DON’T WANT A MANDELA,
THEY WANT ANOTHER ARAFAT
Jonathan S. Tobin
JNS, Apr. 25, 2017
Palestinian internal politics and liberal hostility to Israel came together at the New York Times this month. The newspaper provoked a firestorm of criticism through its decision to publish an article on the eve of Passover authored by Marwan Barghouti, the imprisoned mastermind of a Second Intifada terror campaign, without mentioning that he is currently serving five life terms for the murder of civilians. But a more important discussion got lost amid the outrage about media bias. The question to be asked about this episode is not whether terrorism is significant enough to be worthy of mention, but why Barghouti is a likely candidate to succeed Mahmoud Abbas as head of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Barghouti is currently leading a hunger strike by Palestinian security prisoners in Israel jails. But the real motive for this gesture is promoting Barghouti’s desire to replace the 81-year-old Abbas. Given that Israel has as little interest in releasing Barghouti as Abbas does in having a new election — the current PA leader is serving the 12th year of the four-year presidential term to which he was elected — it’s not clear how he’ll pull off that trick. But the real issue here is the reason for Barghouti’s popularity among supporters of the peace process is very different from the reason for his high standing among Palestinians.
The New York Times promoted Barghouti on its pages because editors of that newspaper have bought into the notion that he is the Palestinian Nelson Mandela. While a narrative that paints Israel as an “apartheid state” is a lie, the Mandela analogy is equally false. Mandela did support violence against the apartheid regime in South Africa, but only because all democratic and non-violent avenues to promote change were blocked. The same point applies to comparisons between Barghouti and others who were terrorists before leading countries to independence, such as Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta, and even Israel’s Menachem Begin, who commanded the pre-state Irgun Zvai Leumi underground forces before signing a peace treaty with Egypt. (The Irgun directed terror activities at the British and their facilities, not civilians as Barghouti did.)
By contrast, acting on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s orders, Barghouti undertook his terror rampage that contributed to a death toll of more than 1,000 Jews years after peace had supposedly been agreed upon in the Oslo Accords. It was also an answer to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offer of an independent Palestinian state. Rather than an attempt to force negotiations, Barghouti’s terror was part of an effort to destroy hope for peace and coexistence.
Of course, it is possible — at least in theory — for Barghouti to become the man Jewish liberals would like him to be were he ever put in power. But the problem with that exercise in wishful thinking also collides with the reason why he is so popular among Palestinians. Part of his appeal lies in the fact that he’s been in prison for the last 15 years, while the rest of his Fatah party’s corrupt leadership has been running the West Bank like mafia chieftains. Even though there’s no reason to think a former Arafat aide like Barghouti will be different, like the equally corrupt and more fanatical Hamas rulers of Gaza, the current PA leadership is entirely discredited.
But Barghouti’s popularity rests on more than just the fact that he isn’t Abbas. Throughout the century-long Palestinian Arab war on Zionism, the political bona fides of that movement’s leaders have always rested on a resume including violence against Jews, not good government or a vision of independence and peace. Barghouti’s credentials rest solely on the fact that he is responsible for the deaths of Jewish men, women and children during the intifada. The political culture of the Palestinians — which is reinforced by a media and an education system promoting hatred of Jews and glorifying terrorism — is what makes Barghouti look good to the Arab street, not the hope he will rise above a record of wanton slaughter.
The reason why Abbas has been incapable of making peace, even if he really is a moderate, is that he understands Palestinians see any recognition of the legitimacy of a Jewish state — no matter where its borders are drawn — as a betrayal. The same factor argues that a man with Barghouti’s record will be expected to pursue more violence rather than become a Mandela. If the last quarter century has taught us anything, it is that the Palestinians don’t want a Mandela in the person of a transformed Barghouti. What they want is another Arafat.
EXPLOITED BY THE ENEMY
David M. Weinberg
Israel Hayom, Apr. 21, 2017
Two Gazan women were caught smuggling explosives into Israel for Hamas on Wednesday. The sisters hid the material in medical supplies as they headed to Jerusalem for cancer treatment. Last month, Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan revealed that Hamas was using Gazan cancer patients to smuggle money and gold into Israel to finance terror operations.
Everyone remembers Wafa Samir Ibrahim al-Biss, the 21-year-old woman from Gaza who, in 2005, was caught with 10 kilograms of explosives in her underwear, en route to blow up Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, where she was being treated for burns. She admitted to being recruited by the Fatah military wing Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. She admitted that she had wanted to target as many Israeli children in the hospital as possible.
Despite the security risk, Israel allows tens of thousands of Palestinians to leave the Gaza Strip every year for medical treatment in Israel (and in the West Bank and Jordan). I know this firsthand. For a decade, I served as a public affairs and development officer at the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, the largest hospital in Israel. At any given time, a quarter of all patients in that institution's Edmond and Lily Safra Children's Hospital are Arabs from Gaza.
Treating these children from enemy Hamastan is a complex humanitarian commitment that stems from compassion ingrained in Jewish history and tradition. The doctors and administrators at Sheba (and other Israeli hospitals who offer similar care to Palestinians from the West Bank, to Syrian refugees, and, quietly, to Arabs from across the Middle East) are very proud of their efforts. But it hurts when wicked forces exploit this professionalism and good will for nefarious purposes and when they abuse our humanitarian generosity for terror.
I was an eyewitness to the following sordid tale: Several years ago, an 8-year-old Palestinian child was ill with a rare form of cancer and was clearly going to die without a bone marrow transplant. Sheba, where he was being treated, worked hard to obtain permission to enter Gaza and test the child's relatives. The doctors found an 18-year-old brother who was an almost perfect bone marrow match. The problem was that Israeli authorities didn't want to grant him entry into Israel for the operation, because he was a Hamas activist with ties to known terrorist operatives.
A number of doctors at the hospital successfully petitioned the Defense Ministry to grant special dispensation to allow him into Israel to save his little brother's life. The older brother arrived late one Friday afternoon. The doctors began the delicate procedure. They had a 24-hour window to suppress the child's immune system, harvest the bone marrow from the donor brother, and transplant. But at midnight on Friday, when it was time for the donor brother to do his part, he was nowhere to be found. Disappeared! The doctors were beside themselves. A nurse said she had seen two Shin Bet security agents come and take him away. This was a death sentence for the sick child.
What do you do in the middle of the night? The hospital director called the Prime Minister's Office (which oversees the security services), demanding to know where the donor was. Within two hours, a senior security official came on the line and admitted that the Shin Bet had taken him away. You see, the Shin Bet had taken precautions and eavesdropped on his cell phone conversations, and had heard this young Palestinian terrorist giving instructions to his Hamas handlers in Gaza on how to get past the security at Sheba Medical Center and blow the place up.
The end of the story is that, despite this outrage, the hospital director asked that the young terrorist be returned to the hospital for a few hours to save the child's life. The Shin Bet brought him back at 4 a.m. in leg irons, and the doctors indeed managed to save his young brother's life. The 18-year-old terrorist was then whisked away again.
Needless to say, this story makes the blood boil. It stings to be taken advantage of by radical Palestinians; to act with humanity and compassion, while our enemies act with inhumanity and cruelty. While we are isolated and demonized, the demons are actually those who would blow up an Israeli hospital that goes out of its way to treat Palestinians, and even Hamas family members. The story breeds Israeli indignation, rightfully and righteously so.
It also adds to our chagrin about being unappreciated by the world. Had I had told this story to a senior foreign journalist — something that wasn't possible at the time — like The New York Times' correspondent in Israel, do you think the paper would have run the story? Do you think the paper would have made such a story — sympathetic to Israel and severely unflattering to Palestinians — a front-page feature? Not likely. I can say from years of experience as a professional spokesman for Israeli medical, academic, defense and diplomatic institutions just how difficult it is to get a story into a newspaper that doesn't fit the conventional, politically correct line about Israel being the villain and the Palestinians the victim.
A direct line runs between this bias and the op-ed by Palestinian "leader and parliamentarian" Marwan Barghouti published in The New York Times this week. That paper never would have run an op-ed by a convicted Taliban or al-Qaida terrorist sitting in Guantanamo Bay, and certainly not without correctly labeling him as a convicted mass murderer. So why didn't The New York Times brand Barghouti in this way? Because doing so would be severely unflattering to the Palestinian national movement, and by inference too sympathetic to Israel.
RISING TENSIONS IN GAZA AFTER PA CUTS SALARIES
JCPA, Apr. 12, 2017
The State Department published a travel warning on April 11 that called on all U.S. citizens to evacuate Gaza immediately, and to be careful in the West Bank and in Israel. It put special emphasis on the volatile situation in Gaza. In Gaza, there are old tensions that are under control, especially between Hamas and ISIS. Hamas does not hesitate to employ force against ISIS, while at the same time maintaining a level of cooperation in Sinai.
New developments that may trigger deterioration and that may be the reason behind the travel warning involve the on-going protest demonstrations by PA employees whose salaries have been reduced by 30% after a decision by PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s government in Ramallah. These are the employees that served the Palestinian Authority before Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, who were ordered to stay home by the PA in order not to recognize the Hamas regime as legal. So, they were getting salaries while staying home. The reason why Ramallah continued to pay them was to employ them in street demonstrations until Hamas falls. This did not happen because of Hamas’ notorious excess use of force to crush any demonstrations, as it proved recently in crushing the demonstrations protesting the lack of reliable electricity.
According to Fatah sources in Ramallah, when President Abbas decided to take this step, he had in mind to stir the emotions of Gazans against Hamas and in a way revive the recent electricity-shortage protests that were directed against Hamas. Senior Fatah officials in Ramallah who are of Gaza origin, such as Rawhi Fatuh, warned Abbas against taking this line of action, but were ignored. And indeed, when the PA employees in Gaza gathered for the angry protest, they did not direct their blame at Hamas but at Rami Hamdallah, the PA prime minister, whose government decreed the 1/3 salary reduction, calling for him to “go” in slogans copied from Egypt’s Tahrir Square demonstrations against Egyptian President Mubarak.
At this stage, they did not formally direct blame at Abbas because they did not want to risk the rest of their salaries, but already this demand began to appear as well. The Palestinian budget is indeed in chronic deficit, which during President Obama’s time was covered by emergency handouts including on Obama’s last day in office, but the Trump presidency has changed the U.S. attitude dramatically. The British Brexit and the PA’s quarrel with London about the Balfour Declaration caused a reduction in the transfer of British funds as well.
The British are major stakeholders in the training and support of the PA security forces and the decrease in British interest in Palestinian affairs caused Abbas to ask Pakistan to step in and perhaps replace the British in this realm. Secretary of State John Kerry, during his last visit to the Middle East, asked Saudi Arabia to fulfill its commitment to the PA budget, but Abbas’ visit to Beirut killed any possibility of Saudi Arabia considering the resumption of the steady payments of the past. So while no one can argue that austerity measures are needed, why only in Gaza? Why not also in the West Bank? The demonstrators and the PLO organizations in Gaza that sympathized with them slammed Ramallah for deepening the separation between Gaza and Ramallah. In the past when salaries were not paid on time in the West Bank, and the head of the government employees union, Bassam Zakarneh, demanded that Abbas balance PA expenditures by cutting his travel budget, he was immediately sent to jail for sabotaging the statehood project.
I visited Ramallah at that time and senior PA officials told me that Zakarneh represented the opposition to Ramallah’s rule in the city of Jenin. Jenin was and still is considered as closer to Mohamed Dahlan than Mahmoud Abbas. I saw Zakarneh in the office of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s office; Fayyad was another Dahlan ally who was deposed as prime minster by the pro-Abbas Fatah movement. The PA’s policy was to allow this kind of protest to be carried out far from Ramallah – like the teachers’ protests in Nablus. When the teachers tried to enter Ramallah, PA security forces blocked them on the roads. The reason is clear – to avoid creating the effect of Tahrir Square in Ramallah.
After a few days without any reaction from the West Bank, as an apparent sign that the West Bankers actually did not care about Gaza, NGOs in Ramallah planned to organize a large demonstration, but PA security forces intervened immediately and threatened the organizers, who agreed to conduct a limited demonstration in front of Hamdallah office. We can see the leader of the NGO community, Mustafa Barghouti, in the front line of this demonstration. The NGOs also understand the PA’s budgetary constraints, but they demanded not to cut the salaries and not to single out Gaza. They called to reduce security expenses and to abolish security coordination with the IDF.
There is a conspiracy theory circulating now in Ramallah among the NGO community that the singling out of Gaza employee was a result of the recent Arab League meeting in Jordan. According to this theory, the Arab states are pressuring Abbas to yield to Israeli demands to accept “provisional borders,” and the final separation from Gaza is only the first step. This theory corresponds with an earlier declaration by Hamas of establishing “a committee to manage Gaza affairs” which is, in practical terms, a government of Hamas, far from the “unity government” led by Hamdallah. The bottom line: both Ramallah and Gaza are practicing a policy of deepening the separation, with each side organizing its rule within its borders. Facing its budgetary problems, the PA is obliged to make cuts. They did it first in Gaza with the hope that the waves of anger would swallow Hamas, but their anger was directed toward Ramallah.
PALESTINIANS' REAL ENEMIES: ARABS
Khaled Abu Toameh
Gatestone Institute, Apr. 17, 2017
Palestinians living in refugee camps in the Arab world are facing ethnic cleansing, displacement, and death — but their leaders in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are too busy tearing each other to pieces to notice or even, apparently, care much. Between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas, it looks as if they are competing for the worst leadership, not the best. Clearly, neither regime gives a damn about the plight of their people in the Arab world. PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who is scheduled to visit Washington in the coming weeks for his first meeting with US President Donald Trump, spends most of his time abroad. There is hardly a country in the world that he has not visited since he assumed office in January 2005.
Hamas, for its part, is too occupied with hunting down Palestinians suspected of "collaboration" with Israel, and arming its members as massively as possible for war with Israel, to spend much time on the well-being of the two million people living under its thumb in the Gaza Strip. Hamas does have resources: its money is otherwise designated, however, to digging attack tunnels into Israel and smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip.
The globetrotting Abbas, treated to red-carpet receptions wherever he shows up, has no time to attend to his miserable people in the Arab countries. Abbas devotes more than 90 percent of his speeches to denunciations of Israel, uttering barely a word about the atrocities committed against his people in Syria, Lebanon, Libya and Iraq. The 82-year-old PA president is, as always, fully preoccupied with political survival. Abbas's real enemies are his critics, such as estranged Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan, and Hamas. Abbas is currently focused on undermining Dahlan and preventing Hamas from taking control of the West Bank. In the past few years, Abbas has also demonstrated an obsession with isolating and delegitimizing Israel in the international arena. For him, this mission is more sacred than saving the lives of Palestinians.
Notably, neither Abbas's Palestinian Authority nor Hamas dares to criticize Arab countries for their mistreatment of Palestinians. In this, they are nothing if not savvy: critics in Arab states pay an extremely nasty price for forthrightness. Consider for a moment the agenda of the recent Arab League summit in Jordan. This monumental meeting was conspicuously silent on the plight of Palestinians in Arab lands. The Arab heads of state and monarchs do not like to be reminded of how badly they treat Palestinians and subject them to discriminatory and apartheid laws. Beneath the public Arab support for the Palestinians rests a ruthless policy of oppression that is largely ignored by Palestinian leaders, the international community and mainstream Western media.
This apathy has turned Palestinians in the Arab countries into easy prey. The Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus, which once housed nearly one million Palestinians, stands almost empty after six years of Syria's civil war. Most of the camp's houses have been damaged or destroyed in the fighting between the Syrian army, Palestinian factions, ISIS terrorists and Syrian opposition groups. More than 3,400 Palestinians have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the civil war. Thousands of Palestinians are believed to be held in various Syrian government prisons. Another 80,000 have fled Syria to neighboring countries.
In nearby Lebanon, the conditions of Palestinians are no better. Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, home to nearly half a million people, were long ago turned into ghettos surrounded by the Lebanese security forces. In recent years, the camps have become battlefields for rival Palestinian gangs and other terrorists, many of whom are affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIS. About 10 years ago, the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon was shelled by the Lebanese army; most of its houses were destroyed. Tens of thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee the camp; hundreds were killed and wounded after a Palestinian terror leader, Shaker al-Absi, and his men launched a series of deadly attacks on Lebanese targets, and the Lebanese army assaulted the camp. Before they were attacked by the Lebanese army, Al-Absi and his men had barricaded themselves inside the camp, using civilians as human shields…
Who is Marwan Barghouti?: Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, JCPA, Apr. 19, 2017—Marwan Barghouti is “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian,” said the New York Times at the end of Barghouti’s op-ed on April 17th. Following the uproar that this description caused, the NYT editor added a note: “This article explained the writer’s prison sentence but neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Mr. Barghouti declined to offer a defense at his trial and refused to recognize the Israeli court’s jurisdiction and legitimacy.”
PA Tells Israel it Will No Longer Pay for Gaza’s Electricity: Dov Lieber, Times of Israel, Apr. 27, 2017—The Palestinian Authority on Thursday informed Israel it would no longer pay for electricity that the Jewish state supplies to the Gaza Strip, as a power crisis in the Hamas-run enclave deepened.
A Palestinian State or an Islamist Tyranny?: Giulio Meotti, Gatestone Institute, Apr. 26, 2017 —From the United Nations to the European Union and the mainstream press, it seems that the Jews living in Judea and Samaria are the obstacle for the Middle East coexistence. But have these well-known "observers" really observed what is going on in the areas self-governed by the Palestinian Authority, and that two-thirds of the world's nations want to turn into another Arab-Islamic state?
Gaza: Let Their People Go!: Dr. Martin Sherman, Arutz Sheva, Apr. 21, 2017—“If the borders opened for one hour, 100,000 young people would leave Gaza” – Rashid al-Najja, vice dean, Gaza’s Al-Azhar University…
On Topic Links
President Donald Trump Speech US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Days of Remembrance: Youtube, Apr. 25, 2017
Sky Above Israel (Video): Youtube, Oct. 2, 2016
Europe’s Rising Islam-Based Political Parties: Abigail R. Esman, Algemeiner, Apr. 23, 2017
Like Father, Like Daughter: Marine Le Pen is an Anti-Semite Too: Ben-Dror Yemini, Breaking Israel News, Apr. 24, 2017
“If the powers in 1942 had acted against the death camps — and all that was needed was repeated bombing of the camps — had they acted then, they could have saved 4 million Jews and millions of other people…When terrible crimes were being committed against the Jews, when our brothers and sisters were being sent to the furnaces…the powers knew and did not act.” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. Netanyahu launched a blistering assault on Allied policy during World War II, saying world powers’ failure to bomb the Nazi concentration camps from 1942 cost the lives of four million Jews and millions of others. Citing recently released UN documents that show the Allies were aware of the scale of the Holocaust in 1942, some two years earlier than previously assumed, Netanyahu said in a speech marking Holocaust Remembrance Day that this new research assumed “a terrible significance.” the Israeli Prime Minister said that the Holocaust was enabled by three factors: the vast hatred of the Jews, global indifference to the horrors, and “the terrible weakness of our people in the Diaspora.” Antisemitism had not disappeared, and “it would be naive to think” that it would do so in the foreseeable future, he said. It was being exacerbated by “hatred from the East,” led by Iran and the Islamic State, he added. (JTA, Apr. 18, 2017)
“On Yom HaShoah, we look back at the darkest chapter of human history…We mourn, we remember, we pray, and we pledge: Never again. I say it, never again…The mind cannot fathom the pain, the horror, and the loss. Six million Jews, two-thirds of the Jews in Europe, murdered by the Nazi genocide…They were murdered by an evil that words cannot describe, and that the human heart cannot bear.” — US President Donald Trump, in a video address to the assembly of the World Jewish Congress. Quoting Theodor Herzl’s “If you will, it is no dream”, Trump added that Israel is a “great nation that has risen from the desert”. The President reiterated his commitment to defeating terrorism, and said the US must not ignore the threats of the Iranian regime, who talks openly of Israel’s destruction. “We cannot let that ever even be thought,” he said. (Jerusalem Post, Apr. 24, 2017)
“The Jewish people have learned the brutal lesson from the Nazi Holocaust, that when a leader threatens you with genocide you take such threats seriously…The world, including many Jewish leaders, dismissed Hitler’s early threats against the Jewish people as bombast. The scope of death and destruction of WWII and the unspeakable horrors of the Shoah have taught us to never again dismiss such threats as empty rhetoric…Unfortunately…the previous administration believed that it could moderate the mullahs actions and words through negotiation and perks. We are grateful that the Trump administration is basing it’s policies on Iranian behavior, not wishful thinking.” — Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. (Algemeiner, Apr. 21, 2017)
“Iran’s provocative actions threaten the United States, the region, and the world…the Trump administration is currently conducting a comprehensive review of our Iran policy. Once we have finalized our conclusions, we will meet the challenges Iran poses with clarity and conviction.” — US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The July 2015 nuclear deal reached by Iran and six world powers, Tillerson stated, “fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran; it only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state. This deal represents the same failed approach of the past that brought us to the current imminent threat we face from North Korea. The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran.” (Algemeiner, Apr. 21, 2017)
“The two dangers that face Israel and all of the other nations in the region that are trying to maintain a stable and peaceful and prosperous region are those that I’m here to discuss with the Prime Minister, especially the week before Holocaust remembrance…I think it’s important that we remind ourselves that if good people don’t band together then bad people can do a lot of damage in this world. And we’re committed to stopping that and doing whatever it takes to pass on peace and freedom to the next generation.” — US Secretary of Defense Mattis, before a meeting in Tel Aviv with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Mattis said he has no doubt Syria still harbors chemical weapons in violation of the UN Security Council decision. He also said the US views Iran as a regional threat. “Everywhere you look, if there’s trouble in the region, you find Iran,” Mattis said in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, adding that nations in the region are working to “checkmate Iran and the amount of disruption, the amount of instability they cause.” (Jewish Press, Apr. 21 & Wall Street Journal, Apr. 23, 2017)
“Since the inauguration it seems there has been something of a mainstreaming of (Trump’s) foreign policy…I’m more optimistic than I think many in Washington are … In many ways a number of things Trump has done already, including the Syria (missile) strikes, are an improvement over his predecessor.” — Matthew Kroenig, an advisor in both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations. Some experts — even some who were harshly critical of the president during the campaign — are beginning to glimpse consistent themes, even positive ones, emerging from the noise of Trump’s first months in office. If Trump’s election rhetoric was all about blowing up the foreign-policy orthodoxy — ripping apart free-trade deals, questioning NATO and other alliances, giving up the role of world’s policeman — his presidential actions and personnel appointments, they say, have had a decidedly more conventional flavour. (National Post, Apr. 21, 2017)
“We will not bow our heads to the violence and incitement of the radical Left…It is unfortunate that those who claim to promote the values of freedom of expression try to silence those who don’t agree with them…There is one law in Jerusalem – for Jews and Arabs alike. We will continue to work, without prejudice or exemptions, to ensure law and order in Israel’s united capital.” — Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. Far-left and Arab students disrupted Barkat’s lecture at Hebrew University, holding signs and shouting derogatory slogans at the mayor. Once the lecture began, a number of protesters stood up and began to shout at the mayor, referring to Jerusalem as an occupied city. Barkat’s lecture was delivered as part of rightwing Zionist advocacy group Im Tirtzu’s Seminars for Zionist Thought, the largest Zionist academic extra-curricular program in Israel. (Jewish Press, Apr. 20, 2017)
“Two weeks ago a French presidential candidate denied France’s responsibility for the deportation of its Jewish citizens to the Nazi concentration and death camps… As a sovereign state that has gained national independence, we have a duty to demand from other nations and states not to evade responsibility…We must wage a war against the current and dangerous wave of Holocaust denial. We must resist the renunciation of national responsibility in the name of alleged victimhood.” — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, marking the end of Yom HaShoah. Rivlin said an attempt by some in Europe to universalize the Shoah is more dangerous than the mere refusal to acknowledge that the mass murder of Jews had taken place. Without mentioning names, Rivlin criticized French Presidential candidate Le Pen and other European politicians for shirking their countries’ responsibility in having collaborated with the Nazis. Earlier this month, Le Pen said that “if there are people responsible” for the deportation of French Jews, “it’s those who were in power at the time. It’s not France.” Le Pen said she did not “think France is responsible for the Vel d’Hiv,” the 1942 round-up of Jews at a Paris cycling track who were then sent to Nazi death camps. (Times of Israel, Apr. 24, 2017)
“I like (Marine Le Pen’s) idea for immigration. All immigrants should be stopped. There is not enough work for the French…It’s difficult to put developing countries and rich countries together…Brexit has opened the door for France to leave the EU.” — Daniel Colle, 81, a retired dentist who lives in suburban Paris. Le Pen, who came second to centrist Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the French presidential election Sunday, secured a chance to bid for the presidency in the May 7 run-off between herself and Macron. Colle said he agrees with Le Pen that the EU is a flawed project that can’t possibly unite 27 countries. (Globe & Mail, Apr. 20, 2017)
LE PEN STEPS DOWN AT NATIONAL FRONT (Paris) — French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is stepping down as leader of the National Front. The announcement came a day after Le Pen came second to Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the French presidential election. She took 21.3 per cent of the vote on Sunday, to Macron's 24.01 per cent. She may be trying to distance herself from the antisemitic and openly racist associations of the National Front, particularly under her father and predecessor Jean-Marie Le Pen. However, some doubt whether she has left behind the old remnants of National Front racism and antisemitism. (CBC, Apr. 24, 2017)
PARIS GUNMAN CARRIED NOTE PRAISING I.S. (Paris) — The gunman who shot and killed a Paris police officer just days before France’s presidential election had a note with him defending Islamic State. Police investigating Thursday’s attack found a note praising I.S. that apparently fell from the pocket of French assailant Karim Cheurfi. Cheurfi also had addresses of police stations written on bits of paper in his car. The extremist group claimed responsibility for the attack in an unusually quick statement. Cheurfi, 39, was shot and killed by officers at the scene. He had a criminal record that included threatening police and that he was arrested in February. The attack on the Champs-Elysees came less than 72 hours before the polls open in the first round vote of the presidential election. (National Post, Apr. 21, 2017)
140 AFGHAN SOLDIERS KILLED IN TALIBAN ATTACK (Kabul) — As many as 140 Afghan soldiers were killed on Friday by Taliban attackers apparently disguised in military uniforms in what would be the deadliest attack ever on an Afghan military base. The defence ministry said the toll was "over 100" Afghan soldiers killed and wounded. One official in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, where the attack occurred, said at least 140 soldiers were killed and many others wounded. As many as 10 Taliban fighters, dressed in Afghan army uniforms and driving military vehicles, made their way onto the base and opened fire on mostly unarmed soldiers eating a meal after Friday prayers. (CBC, Apr. 22, 2017)
JCC BOMB HOAXER CHARGED (Jerusalem) — Israel filed a massive list of criminal charges against an Israeli-American teenager accused of making bomb threat calls to Jewish institutions, schools, hospitals and airlines. The 18-year-old hacker from Ashkelon was charged with thousands of counts of extortion, publishing false information that caused panic, computer offenses and money laundering. In addition to the threats to Jewish community centers, the unnamed teen also targeted hundreds of non-Jewish schools, airlines and airports, malls, and police stations, in the US, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Australia and Britain. His lawyer claimed the defendant had a brain tumor and is on the autistic spectrum, which might have affected his behavior. (Times of Israel, Apr. 24, 2017)
6 ISRAELI-JEWS CHARGED WITH ATTACKS AGAINST ARABS (Beersheba) — Six Israeli Jews, including two soldiers and a minor, were indicted for carrying out a number of violent attacks in Beersheba against Israeli Arabs. Police alleged that the defendants, arrested in early April, carried out the attacks in an attempt to “prevent the assimilation of Jewish women with Arabs in Beersheba,” and said that the charges included terrorism. According to the indictment, the suspects carried out five violent attacks against Arabs beginning in December 2016, the most severe of which was a stabbing on February 21. Multiple defendants are also charged with torching the car of an Arab citizen. Police said the attacks were nationalistic and racially motivated. (Jerusalem Post, Apr. 23, 2017)
TWO PA CHILD-TERRORISTS ARRESTED WITH FIREBOMBS IN THEIR KNAPSACK (Jerusalem) — Two child-terrorists were arrested after they threw firebombs at a patrol jeep near the Talitha Kumi (Walleja) road in Gush Etzion. The firebombs missed the jeep and did not ignite. They found two minors who had come from nearby Dheishe, just south of nearby Bethelehem. One of them had additional Molotov cocktails in his knapsack prepared for throwing. The two Arab youths had gone to a gas station in Dheisha after school, filled up the bottles with gasoline, and then began looking for Israeli targets to attack. (Jewish Press, Apr. 18, 2017)
NETANYAHU NIXES MEETING WITH GERMAN FM OVER NGO CRITICAL OF IDF (Jerusalem) — Prime Minister Netanyahu will not hold talks with visiting German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel because of Gabriel's intention to meet with an Israeli NGO critical of Israel's treatment of Palestinians. Israeli media had reported that Gabriel would meet "Breaking the Silence", a controversial group that collects testimonies from Israeli veterans about their service experiences in volatile areas such as east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Gabriel, who has described Israel as an apartheid state, said it would be a "remarkable event, to put it mildly," if Netanyahu canceled their planned talks, arguing it was normal to talk to civil society representatives. (Jerusalem Post, Apr. 25, 2017)
ISRAEL SAID TO STRIKE PRO-ASSAD FORCES IN SYRIA, KILLING 3 (Damascus) — An Israeli attack on a Syrian camp for pro-government forces killed three fighters near the Golan Heights on Sunday. The National Defense Forces, a pro-regime militia, said that the alleged Israeli strike targeted the Naba Fawar base in the area. An NDF official told AFP that it was unclear whether the damage was inflicted by an airstrike or shelling. On Friday the IDF struck positions affiliated with the Syrian army after three mortars fired from the Quneitra area landed in the Israeli Golan heights, Israeli military sources said. No one was injured by the mortar fire. (Times of Israel, Apr. 23, 2017)
CANADA EXPANDS SYRIAN SANCTIONS LIST (Ottawa) — Canada has expanded its Syrian sanctions list to include 17 high-ranking individuals in the Assad government and five entities linked to the use of chemical weapons. They will now be subject to an asset freeze and a prohibition on having any dealings with them. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says this will put additional pressure on President Bashar Assad to stop attacks on his own people. Canada is contributing more than $1.6 billion over the course of three years toward security, stabilization, and humanitarian and development assistance in response to the crises in Iraq and Syria. (Globe & Mail, Apr. 21, 2017)
SAUDI ARABIA ELECTED TO UN WOMEN'S COUNCIL (Riyadh) — Saudi Arabia has been elected to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, despite the country being ranked by human rights experts as one of the worst for gender equality. The Middle Eastern kingdom was one of 12 new countries elected to the UN body in a secret ballot. It will serve a four-year term beginning next year. The role of the UN's Commission on the Status of Women is to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women. Saudi women are forbidden from obtaining a passport, marrying or accessing higher education without the approval of a male guardian. Saudi women are also banned from driving and are forced to have the permission of a male guardian to travel or work. (ABC News, Apr. 24, 2017)
UNRWA EMPLOYEE QUITS FOLLOWING ALLEGATIONS THAT HE IS A HAMAS LEADER (Gaza) — Dr. Suhail al-Hindi, chairman of the UNRWA staff union in the Gaza Strip and principal of UNRWA’s “Palestine Boys’ Elementary School”, resigned from UNRWA after apparently solid allegations emerged that he was elected to a Hamas political leadership position, according to a report in the Republic. On February 26, UNRWA decided to suspend al-Hindi until an investigation into the allegations was completed. UNRWA wouldn’t confirm if al-Hinidi quit or was fired. In 2011, al-Hindi was suspended from his UNRWA teaching job after meeting with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. He was reinstated a few months later, apparently due to Hamas pressure. (Jewish Press, Apr. 22, 2017)
ROTTERDAM ALLOWS PRO-HAMAS CONFERENCE, BLOCKS ANTI-HAMAS PROTEST (Rotterdam) — A Hamas front group hosted a conference in Rotterdam as Dutch authorities denied pro-Israel activists from protesting the event. The Palestinian Return Center (PRC) – banned by Israel in 2010 for alleged Hamas ties – organized the "Palestinians in Europe" conference that attracted a few hundred people. The conference featured speakers like Dyab Abou Jahjah, who has a history of anti-Israel and antisemitic statements. He was fired by a Belgian newspaper earlier this year after praising a truck ramming in Jerusalem that killed four soldiers. Meanwhile, officials denied a petition to protest the conference by Christians for Israel – a move condemned by some Dutch politicians. (IPT, Apr. 18, 2017)
UK TAXPAYERS TO PAY HANNAH BLADON’S KILLER A MONTHLY SALARY (London) — The Daily Mail published a report detailing how the terrorist who murdered British exchange student Hannah Bladon on a Jerusalem train will receive a monthly salary from the PA of 800 British pounds. Bladon, 20, was attacked on a train last week, allegedly by a Palestinian man with a history of mental health issues. The UK sends over 25 million British pounds each year in foreign aid to the PA, a percentage of which is directed to Islamic terrorists and their families. (Jewish Press, Apr. 23, 2017)
UK HOTEL CANCELS BARGHOUTI FILM SCREENING (London) — After the release of a bulletin exposing that the Palestinian Mission in the UK had changed the venue of its Marwan Barghouti film screening to the Copthorne Tara Hotel in London, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) contacted the hotel to bring its manager’s attention to the potential consequences of hosting such an event. A letter from PMW’s legal director noted that Barghouti is a convicted terrorist responsible for the murder of 5 people. The letter asserted that hosting an event glorifying such a terrorist could result in “potentially criminal repercussions,” in accordance with the Terrorism Act, which prohibits the glorification of acts of terrorism as incitement. The hotel confirmed that the event had been canceled. (Jewish Press, Apr. 23, 2017)
PRINCETON PLASTERED WITH ANTISEMITIC, RACIST FLIERS (Princeton) — Fliers with antisemitic and racist messages were posted on the campus of Princeton University. The fliers were discovered in at least four areas of the campus, including on the door to the campus Center for Jewish Life. The fliers were from a white nationalist organization called Vanguard America, which bills itself as a group for “White Nationalist American youth working to secure the existence of their people.” Among the charges made on the flier: “Jews are 10% of Princeton’s students, an overrepresentation of 500%,” and 80% of the first Soviet government was Jewish.” (Jerusalem Post, Apr. 25, 2017)
MUSLIM ACTIVIST LINDA SARSOUR TO SPEAK AT NYC UNIVERSITY (New York) — Linda Sarsour, who has referred to “Zionist trolls” and lauded the “courage” of rock-throwing Palestinians will deliver this year’s keynote address at the commencement ceremony of a New York City university. Sarsour is listed as a featured speaker for the graduation at CUNY’s Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy. The Brooklyn-born activist, who is co-organizer of the Women’s March and a former executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants. Sarsour’s anti-Israel tweets include a photo of a young Palestinian boy with a rock in each hand. It is captioned: “The definition of courage. #Palestine” (Fox News, Apr. 23, 2017)
AHMADINEJAD DISQUALIFIED FROM IRAN’S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION (Tehran) — The Guardian Council, a very powerful and influential body in Iran’s theocracy, voted to disqualify Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the regime’s president from 2005 to 2013, announcing he lacks the necessary standards to take part as a candidate in the May 19 presidential election. This council, consisting of six senior mullahs appointed directly by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, stamps approval to the parliament’s bills and vets all election candidates. Ahmadinejad’s disqualification was not unexpected. Last September Khamenei used a public speech to ban him from announcing his candidacy. However, last week he officially registered as a presidential candidate. (National Post, Apr. 24, 2017)
UK REFUSES PALESTINIANS' REQUEST FOR BALFOUR DECLARATION APOLOGY (London) — Britain has rejected a request by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for a formal apology over the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which declared support for the establishment of a Jewish state, Palestinian leaders said. Abbas called for the apology during an address to the UN General Assembly in September, with Britain and Israel set to mark the 100th anniversary of the Declaration that paved the way for the establishment of the State of Israel in 2017. The historic declaration, written by Lord Balfour on November 2, 1917, made way for the creation of an independent Jewish state following the British mandate over Palestine. (I24, Apr. 25, 2017)
President Donald Trump Speech US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Days of Remembrance: Youtube, Apr. 25, 2017— President Trump Gives Remarks at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Days of Remembrance
Europe’s Rising Islam-Based Political Parties: Abigail R. Esman, Algemeiner, Apr. 23, 2017—For the past several months, eyes across the world have been trained on the growing far-right movements sweeping Europe and America — from the neo-Nazi groups in Germany and the United States, to the increasing popularity of France’s National Front.
Like Father, Like Daughter: Marine Le Pen is an Anti-Semite Too: Ben-Dror Yemini, Breaking Israel News, Apr. 24, 2017 —For years, Marine Le Pen tried to explain to France and the world that she wasn’t following her father’s path. Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the National Front party, was convicted by a French court after describing the gas chambers used in concentration camps during the Holocaust as a “detail” of history.
Saudis and Women: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 24, 2017— Saudi Arabia is a fiercely, even violently, religious nation.
Hatred, Courage and the Israeli-Saudi Connection: Lela Gilbert, Algemeiner, Apr. 2, 2017 — During recent years, dramatic political changes have shaken the Middle East.
Sino-Saudi Alignment in Yemen and Escalating Conflict: Michael Tanchum, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 25, 2017— Like a weather vane, the recent visit to China by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman points to changing strategic directions in the Middle East-Asia security architecture.
With an Arab NATO and a Contained Iran, Trump is Changing the Middle East: Lawrence Solomon, National Post, Mar. 27, 2017 — Donald Trump’s Middle East policy is emerging.
Jim Mattis, in Saudi Visit, Calls for Political Solution in Yemen: Helene Cooper, New York Times, Apr. 19, 2017
Yemeni Minister: Our Last Jews Are at Risk of Ethnic Cleansing by Iran-Backed Rebels: Tower, Apr. 17, 2017
Like Israel, Saudis Pinning Hopes on Trump: Ben Lynfield, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 16, 2017
Oman: The Middle East's Most Surprising Country: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, Mar. 15, 2017
SAUDIS AND WOMEN
Jerusalem Post, Apr. 24, 2017
Saudi Arabia is a fiercely, even violently, religious nation. Deera Square (also known as Chop Chop Square), where beheadings are carried out for offenses such as blasphemy or homosexuality, is a testament to the brutal seriousness with which Saudi Arabia guards its traditions at home. Of course, there is a Janus face to this fanaticism. It is an open secret that royals fly abroad to enjoy the pleasures of the West, while at home they give free rein to reactionary clerics to treat women like chattel and demonize Westerners.
Cleaving to a hardline and literal interpretation of Shari’a law and strongly influenced by pre-Islam Beduin customs, Saudis have never claimed to be anything but zealots and bigots who view the female sex as inherently subordinate and deserving of abusive treatment. Nearly every society must grapple with balancing ancient traditions with freedoms. For the Saudis it was always a no-brainer. And they are proud of it.
The world community has done little to champion human rights in Saudi Arabia. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom’s denunciation of Riyadh in 2015 for flogging Raif Badawi for purportedly criticizing Islam was a rarity. But neither has there been a campaign to tout the Saudis as champions of gender equality or religious diversity or to nominate them for distinction in the field of human rights. Yet, a UN body has done just that. Saudi Arabia was elected last week via secret ballot in the UN Economic and Social Council to the 45-member UN Commission on the Status of Women.
Saudi Arabia, a country that has in place a system of institutionalized male dominance, has now been tapped to monitor the status of women in the world. Vital decisions for Saudi women, such as availing oneself of medical care, enrolling in a university or traveling abroad, must receive the approval of a father, brother or other male relative. Every Saudi woman has a designated guardian that essentially runs her life. This guardian can be many years younger, less educated and less responsible. Often gender is his only perceivable advantage.
A litany of prohibitions regulates the lives of the Saudi woman. She is not permitted to drive, she cannot wear clothes or makeup that “show off beauty” but must wear an abaya (long cloak) and a head scarf. Government buildings, hotel lobbies, restaurants, public transportation, parks and other public places are strictly gender-segregated. Women face harsher punishment than men for unlawful mixing. Women are not allowed to try on clothes when shopping, as though the very thought of a partially dressed woman behind a dressing-room door is too suggestive.
Why would the UN appoint Saudi Arabia as a defender of women’s rights, a country where a woman cannot even open a bank account without her husband’s permission and received the right to vote and run for office in municipal elections just two years ago? It should not come as too much of a surprise. After all, this is the same UN whose Human Rights Council enforces Agenda Item 7, which dictates that Israel’s purported human rights violations must be raised and discussed every single time the UNHRC convenes. More UNHRC condemnations are made against Israel than against all other countries in the world combined.
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, has pledged to change what she calls the “culture” of the international body. She has already done much to combat the knee-jerk criticism directed against Israel that characterizes so much of UN discourse. Perhaps her next order of business will be to help ensure that countries like Saudi Arabia are singled out for their human rights violations. It would be fitting if Haley’s strong female leadership became the driving force for a campaign within the UN to condemn Saudi Arabia for the suppression of half of its population.
The UN once was and might again be a force for good in the world. The potential is boundless for an institution that brings together all the nations of the world. Wars can be prevented; blatant human rights abuses can be stopped; the damage resulting from famine and natural disaster can be ameliorated. All this and more can be achieved through dialogue and cooperation. However, before any of this can happen, the UN must have a minimum level of self-respect that prevents it from appointing Saudi Arabia to a council responsible for safeguarding the rights of women.
HATRED, COURAGE AND THE ISRAELI-SAUDI CONNECTION
During recent years, dramatic political changes have shaken the Middle East. Some have described these events metaphorically as “shifting desert sands.” They have also been defined as dramatic realignments of political seismic plates. Some of the more terrifying changes have called to mind the proverbial “end of days.” Others look a little like minor miracles, so unlikely are the players and so unexpected their praiseworthy actions. Who could have predicted, for example, that a young Saudi intellectual would visit Jerusalem and then courageously write an open letter to his generation, expressing both hope and desire for political transformation? His dream? That Saudi Arabia’s vibrant young defense minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud will embrace a new vision for Saudi Arabia – including peace with Israel.
Consider the writer’s opening paragraph: “Having read the article in Foreign Affairs about Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and in the wake of publicity following his meeting with President Trump this week, I would like to offer a candid view that speaks for many Saudis of my generation. Like King Talut of the Holy Quran (corresponding to the biblical King Saul), whom the Quran credits with saving the Jewish people from an enemy bent on their destruction, the young prince bears a similar responsibility — addressing many challenges in order to achieve the goal of transforming his people to greater strength. Prince Mohammad bin Salman may well be God’s chosen to help lead Saudi Arabia through the political, economic, and social challenges it faces. This letter offers suggestions he may consider useful in dealing with them.”
Yes, it really happened. Abdul-Hameed Hakeem’s open letter was published by the Washington Institute on March 21. And here’s how it came to pass. One excellent writer about Middle East realities is Ambassador Dore Gold, who until recently served as director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is now president of the highly regarded Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Gold’s 2003 book, Hatred’s Kingdom, focused on Saudi Arabia and spelled out the precarious balancing act the oil-rich Arab country has been performing for decades – juggling two opposing forces: the secular Western world that buys massive amounts of its oil, and radical Islamism, embodied in Saudi’s Wahabi religious leadership.
In Hatred’s Kingdom, Gold summed up the danger personified by the Saudis: “President Bush asked, after the destruction of the World Trade Center and the attack on the Pentagon, whether nations are with the United States or with the terrorists. Despite Saudi Arabia’s insistence to the contrary, the record makes it frighteningly clear that the Saudi kingdom is, at this point, with the terrorists. Indeed, it is Saudi Arabia that has spawned the new global terrorists. Unless the Saudi regime feels pressure to change, the hatred that has motivated a horrifying series of worldwide terrorist attacks – including the attacks of September 11 – will only go on. And as long as the hatred continues, the terror will go on.”
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s leadership – its enormous royal family – has for decades relied on the West’s consumption of its petroleum resources to support the kingdom’s economy; Western oil purchases also finance the royals’ lavish and sometimes decadent lifestyle. But the royal family is, at the same time, obliged to enforce hardline religious laws established by the severe Wahabist religious system. Wahabism, a sect that came into being in the 18th century, seeks to return Sunni Islam to its earliest roots – the days of Mohammad and his first followers. It curses both Christians (Crusaders) and Jews (sons of pigs and dogs), as was explicitly declared in several of Osama bin Laden’s pontifications.
Much of the anti-Jewish animus in Saudi Arabia is focused on Israel and Zionism. Israeli passport-bearers are banned from entering the country; even travelers with Israeli visas stamped in their passports are turned away. Obvious Jewish religious attire and symbols, such as Star of David jewelry, and religious books are also forbidden. In December 2014, the Saudi government opened the door just a crack, declaring that Jews could work inside the kingdom. But they made it clear that their newfound openness to Jews did not include Israelis.
Gold’s book meticulously documents the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s dangerous ideology, which inspired Al-Qaeda and innumerable other Sunni jihadi groups. These days, however, bin Laden is history; no longer the incarnation of Wahabism. At the same time, several stunning and unforeseen political events have perhaps permanently shifted Middle East politics.
First came the so-called Arab Spring in 2011. Despite its custodianship of Mecca and Medina – sometimes described as “Islam’s Vatican” – Saudi Arabia’s kings and princes have long attracted the ire of Sunni and Shia radicals alike. The Arab Spring perilously increased the likelihood of fanatical revolutionaries spilling across Saudi Arabia’s borders. At the same time, it became uncomfortably clear that the Obama Administration was taking a hands-off approach to the Middle East turmoil, proving itself unwilling to stand behind its historic allies. This became alarmingly evident across the region after President Barack Obama’s “red line” regarding chemical weapons remained unenforced in the Syrian Civil War.
Then came unmitigated upheaval in Libya, Iraq and Egypt in which America seemed to side with her enemies and turn away from her allies. Would the kingdom’s betrayal come next? Meanwhile, the centuries-old Sunni-Shia conflict was edging toward center stage again. The gradual exposure of Obama’s initially secret negotiations with Iran – the avowed archenemy of the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia – encouraged and emboldened the Ayatollahs. Would the alleged (and likely) Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapon ever actually be stopped? On the other hand, there was no denying an impressive array of Israeli achievements: ever-increasing high tech innovation and mastery, cyberwarfare capabilities, natural gas discoveries, a flourishing economy, and thriving international relations. The successful international diplomacy of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – sometimes at the expense of Obama’s agenda – was reflected in his effective outreach to friends and former foes alike…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
SINO-SAUDI ALIGNMENT IN YEMEN AND ESCALATING CONFLICT
Jerusalem Post, Mar. 25, 2017
Like a weather vane, the recent visit to China by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman points to changing strategic directions in the Middle East-Asia security architecture. The significance of the Saudi monarch’s meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other top officials goes well beyond the hefty $65 billion of economic and trade deals signed between Riyadh and Beijing. The visit confirmed the nascent strategic partnership developing between China and Saudi Arabia as Beijing seeks to promote stability along the trade routes of China’s 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, now threatened by the escalating violence of Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen.
Although the first day of the Saudi monarch’s visit, March 16, 2017, grabbed international headlines with the signing of a $65b. Sino-Saudi trade and investment package, the 20-plus agreements on oil investment and energy largely follow the traditional transactional pattern of Sino-Saudi cooperation. King Salman’s visit to Beijing was truly noteworthy for cementing and advancing the strategic partnership established between China and Saudi Arabia during Xi Jinping’s January 2016 visit to Riyadh. Three days prior to the Saudi monarch’s visit, China’s Foreign Ministry declared, “We stand ready to take King Salman’s visit as an opportunity to take [the] China-Saudi Arabia comprehensive strategic partnership to a higher level.” King Salman reciprocated with his declaration in Beijing that “Saudi Arabia is willing to work hard with China to promote global and regional peace, security, and prosperity.”
The source of China and Saudi Arabia’s increasing alignment of interests is China’s effort to create its self-declared 21st Century Maritime Silk Road – a China- to-Europe maritime commercial transportation corridor consisting of a series of Chinese-built port installations extending westward across the Indian Ocean and then via the Red Sea and Suez Canal to the now Chinese- owned Pireaus seaport, on Greece’s Mediterranean coast. Having heavily invested in Piraeus to transform it into one of the world’s state-of-the-art container ports, Beijing now owns and operates one of the European Union’s major seaports as the MSR’s main outlet point for Chinese goods to enter European markets.
The single greatest threat to China’s economic interests in creating and preserving the reliable and cost-efficient flow of commerce across the MSR is Iran. Overall, Beijing maintains a careful balance between its relations with Iran and its relations with Saudi Arabia. In January 2016, Xi Jinping visited both Riyadh and Tehran, where he and his Iranian counterpart agreed to a 10-year program to raise Chinese-Iranian bilateral trade to $600 billion. Nevertheless, Tehran’s effort to expand its sphere of influence to the Gulf of Aden-Red Sea corridor through its proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen and the Horn of Africa represents a disruption to the maritime security domain that China cannot tolerate. In January 2016, Beijing declared its support for Yemen’s efforts to defeat Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.
Two weeks after Beijing’s declaration for Yemen’s government, Houthi rebels supplied with Iranian technology attacked a Saudi frigate with an improvised “drone” attack boat, a remote-controlled boat laden with explosives. Iran has continued to escalate its support to Houthi rebels with the provision of more sophisticated weapons technology including the transfer of Iranian aerial drones and quite likely anti-ship missiles. On March 10, a Yemeni coast-guard vessel was destroyed in the narrow Bab el-Mandeb strait between the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. In response to the maritime threats, China is constructing of its first overseas base in Djibouti, which strategically straddles the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea on the shore opposite Yemen in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. Just prior to Xi Jinping’s January 2016 visit to Saudi Arabia, Djibouti formally severed diplomatic relations with Tehran and then signed a security cooperation agreement with Riyadh. Saudi Arabia is currently finalizing arrangements with Djibouti for the establishment of a Saudi base in addition to the Chinese naval base that will have the capacity to house 10,000 personnel.
The Sino-Saudi agreement to collaborate on drone manufacturing signed during King Salman’s Beijing visit serves as another indication that the two countries may be looking to their strategic cooperation to contain Iranian activities in Gulf of Aden-Red Sea corridor. China’s acceptance of Saudi Arabia’s interventions in a vital sea lane of the MSR and Saudi Arabia’s embrace of China as potential security partner signals a consequential shift in the Middle East-Asia security architecture. Any further escalation of Iran’s proxy wars in the Gulf of Aden-Red Sea corridor is likely to drive Beijing and Riyadh close together as strategic partners for maritime security.
WITH AN ARAB NATO AND A CONTAINED IRAN,
TRUMP IS CHANGING THE MIDDLE EAST
National Post, Mar. 27, 2017
Donald Trump’s Middle East policy is emerging. Apart from supporting Israel, he wants to eradicate ISIL and other Islamic jihadists, he wants to deter Iran and its dream of hegemony over the entire Middle East, and he wants the Arab countries to bear the burden of their own defence. His answer: an Arab NATO, funded by its Arab members and aided by the military and intelligence assets of Israel and the United States.
The idea of a military alliance among the Arab nations first came from Egypt’s President Abdel al-Sisi two years ago in February, 2015, when he went on national television to warn about radical jihadis across the Middle East. The Arab League at its summit the following month endorsed the concept, and military heads from 11 Arab countries (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Libya and Jordan) then met to work out the details.
But al-Sisi’s plans soon went into a deep freeze, despite a push by Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, who argued in June 2015 testimony to two Congressional subcommittees that the U.S. should “fully support, help organize, and assist those regional partners create an ‘Arab NATO-like’ structure and framework. Build an Arab Army that is able to secure their regional responsibilities.” Flynn was especially focused on deterring a Russia-backed Iran, which poses a nuclear threat to the United States as well as to the countries of the Middle East — not just Israel, about which Iran is most vocal, but also the Sunni Arab states and Sunni Turkey, a NATO ally of the U.S.
Upon becoming president, Trump immediately revived the al-Sisi-Flynn plan. Rather than accepting America’s outsized military burden in the Middle East, he pressed the Arab NATO plan with Arab diplomats in Washington through Flynn, who had become his national security advisor, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Trump personally took the issue up with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was immediately receptive. “I believe that the great opportunity for peace comes from a regional approach from involving our newfound Arab partners,” Netanyahu stated at a joint press conference with Trump when in Washington in February. Elaborated Trump: “It is something that is very different, hasn’t been discussed before. And it’s actually a much bigger deal — much more important deal in a sense. It would take in many, many countries and would cover a very large territory.”
The “much bigger deal” involves something for all the Sunni Arab states in the region. Saudi Arabia needs help fighting the Iranian-backed Houtis in Yemen, Egypt needs help countering threats from Libya, all are at risk from ISIL. As a down payment on the deal, the Trump administration launched a commando raid into Yemen. To seal the deal, Trump must overcome Arab fears of being accused of entering an alliance with Israel. Arab leaders have asked Trump to hold off moving his embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and to prevent Israel from building new settlements, requests with which Trump is complying. In short order, Trump has begun to realign the Arab armies, at the same time indicating he has their back against a nuclear-powered Iran bent on hegemony over the Middle East. Judging by the reaction of Iran, Trump’s approach is working.
After Iran’s long-range missile launch on Jan. 29, shortly after Trump’s inauguration, it was menacingly “put on notice” by the Trump administration, and to immediate effect. Iran soon cancelled a follow-up launch of a long-range missile that had been planned, and even cancelled a non-military launch of a satellite, for fear of rousing Trump’s ire. According to Iran’s Tasnin News Agency, a frustrated Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force, bitterly complained that Iran had been deterred “because of America’s angry tone … How much longer will we be blackmailed and forced to compromise? If we do not change our strategy, and continue to operate according to orders from officials who are stuck in the mud, our situation will deteriorate daily.”
The deterrence went further. Iran has stopped provoking U.S. navy vessels on the water, all but stopped its public threats to sink them, all but stopped burning the American flag, all but stopped its “Death to America” calls. Iran’s reticence to provoke the U.S. has continued despite criticism. As put in one Iranian article earlier this month, “when Trump was elected, (government officials) said that Trump was unpredictable and makes unconsidered decisions – and that is why it is better for us to refrain from saying anything to offend him…” Adding to Iran’s angst is a fear that Russia has abandoned it, after being wooed into an alliance with the U.S. that will see Iran squeezed out of Syria.
Iran is now on its back foot, concluded an analysis by the Middle East Media Research Institute, saying “These developments have given rise in Tehran to a sense that it is besieged and under an emerging existential threat, in light of the crystallization of a comprehensive U.S.-Russia-Arab (including Israel) front against the Iranian revolutionary regime.” Trump, in contrast, is leaning forward, his assertive Middle East diplomacy, two months into his presidency, showing astonishingly promising results.
Jim Mattis, in Saudi Visit, Calls for Political Solution in Yemen: Helene Cooper, New York Times, Apr. 19, 2017— Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called on Wednesday for a political solution in Yemen between Sunni Arabs, supported by a Saudi-led coalition, and Iranian-backed Houthis, but he stopped short of publicly warning America’s Sunni allies against a planned bombing campaign targeting the port city of Al Hudaydah.
Yemeni Minister: Our Last Jews Are at Risk of Ethnic Cleansing by Iran-Backed Rebels: Tower, Apr. 17, 2017—There are an estimated 50 Jews remaining in Yemen—all at risk of an ethnic cleansing campaign spearheaded by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, Yemen’s information minister told Israel Radio on Sunday.
Like Israel, Saudis Pinning Hopes on Trump: Ben Lynfield, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 16, 2017—New winds are blowing from Washington, and the Saudis, like Israel, believe they are far more favorable than those that prevailed under the Obama administration. Saudi officials were so ebullient about a meeting at the White House between Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman and Donald Trump Tuesday that they praised the US president as a “true friend of Muslims who will serve the Muslim world in an unimaginable manner.”
Oman: The Middle East's Most Surprising Country: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, Mar. 15, 2017—Oman, where I have spent the past week, is an Arab country unlike any other. Count the ways.
The Real Danger: Holocaust Distortion: Efraim Zuroff, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 23, 2017— During the past month Holocaust- related issues have received an extraordinary amount of attention from the media.
‘It Wasn’t Us’: The Battle for Memory and History: Robert Rozett, Times of Israel, Apr. 23, 2017— Although Europe, fortunately, has not known full-fledged war since the end of the twentieth century, it is the main scene of a battle going on today.
Sound and Fury: Max Boot, New York Times, Apr. 14, 2017— When I read of the United States forces’ dropping of the second-largest non-nuclear explosive in their arsenal — the 21,000-pound GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) — in eastern Afghanistan…
Iran, Fighting to the Last Afghan: Michael Rubin, Commentary, Apr. 3, 2017 — During the Cold War, both the Soviet Union and Cuba regularly used foreign proxies to fight their battles.
Israel Marks Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day With Official Opening Ceremony at Yad Vashem (Video): Jerusalem Online, Apr. 23, 2017
Celebrating Life in Krakow: Tamara Zieve, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 24, 2017
At Least 140 Dead After Taliban Attack on a Key Afghan Army Base, Officials Say: Sayed Salahuddin & Pamela Constable, Washington Post, Apr. 22, 2017
Is It Time for America and Afghanistan to Part Ways?: Daniel R. DePetris, National Interest, Apr. 23, 2017
THE REAL DANGER: HOLOCAUST DISTORTION
Jerusalem Post, Apr. 23, 2017
During the past month Holocaust- related issues have received an extraordinary amount of attention from the media. Four examples come to mind. One was the inaccurate comparison by White House spokesperson Sean Spicer between Hitler and Syrian President Bashar Assad in which he forgot that the Nazis had gassed to death millions of Jews. A second was French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen’s assertion that France was not responsible for the roundup by Vichy police of more than 12,000 Jews in Paris in the summer of 1942.
The third was the patently false claims made by former London mayor Ken Livingstone that Hitler supported Zionism, implying that the Zionist movement actually collaborated with the Third Reich. The fourth was the erroneous claim that documents from the recently- opened archives of the UN war crimes commission were the first proof that the Allies were already aware of the Holocaust in late 1942 and not only after the liberation of German concentration camps.
The good news is that the Holocaust occupies a unique place in Western historical consciousness and that any glaring mistakes by those in prominent positions about its events will be publicized immediately and corrected by responsible historians. The most important question is, however, the reason for such comments, and their implications.
In that respect, we must differentiate between those remarks motivated by ignorance or incompetence, like those of Spicer (who to his credit profusely apologized) or the ones about the ostensible significance of the documents in the UN war crimes archives, and those prompted by antisemitism, such as those of Livingstone, or by a combination of antisemitism and political opportunism, such as those of Le Pen.
Needless to say, whereas the first two are undoubtedly annoying, it is the last two which should be of serious concern, since they reflect the growing danger posed by Holocaust distortion, in which the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis and their helpers is not denied, but efforts are made to rewrite the narrative of the Shoah for political reasons. Thus while it appears that Holocaust denial has been defeated in the Western world, new lies about aspects of the Shoah are being invented which are even more dangerous, since they cannot be as easily refuted as Holocaust denial.
Nowhere is this phenomenon more acute than in Eastern Europe, the only region where collaboration with the Nazis entailed active participation in mass murder. Thus a primary motivation behind East European efforts to rewrite the history of the Holocaust is to hide, or at least minimize, the crimes of local collaborators. Another objective is to convince the world that Communist crimes were just as bad as those of the Nazis, and that the peoples of Eastern Europe were the victims of genocide.
These goals were formulated in the June 3, 2008 Prague Declaration which calls upon Europe to treat the tragedies of Nazism and Communism as if they were historically equivalent, and calls for measures which if adopted would undermine the justified status of the Shoa as a unique historical event. It is therefore quite surprising that former German president Joachim Gauck was invited this year to participate in the official closing ceremony of Holocaust Remembrance Day at Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot. Gauck is one of the politicians who signed the Prague Declaration (before he became president) and to this day has never indicated any change of mind about the equivalency of Nazi and Communist crimes. So if that’s the case in the Jewish state, what can we expect from anyone else?
‘IT WASN’T US’: THE BATTLE FOR MEMORY AND HISTORY
Times of Israel, Apr. 23, 2017
Although Europe, fortunately, has not known full-fledged war since the end of the twentieth century, it is the main scene of a battle going on today. It is a battle for memory and about the history of the Holocaust and events of the Second World War. This battle is playing out on several fronts, but with at least one clear common denominator: history is frequently being manipulated and whitewashed for political reasons.
The most recent newsworthy skirmish took place in France, where Marine Le Pen declared that “France was not responsible for the Vel d’Hiv.” This is perhaps the most infamous raid on French Jewry. Early in the morning on July 16, 1942 some 4,500 French policemen started to arrest foreign Jews living in Paris. More than 11,000 were arrested that day, and confined to the Velodrome d’Hiver, known as the Vel’ d’Hiv, a winter cycling stadium in Paris. They were held in atrocious conditions. Within a few days, the number of Jewish incarcerated had grown to 13,000, including about 4,000 children. From the Vélodrome d’Hiver the Jews were sent east to Nazi extermination camps by way of French transit camps. Le Pen presents what has come to be known as “alternative facts,” in other words a totally ungrounded version of events that seeks to whitewash the role of the French in this deportation and subsequent murder of Jews, so as to place all of the onus on the Germans.
Le Pen, of course, is not the first and probably will not be the last public figure to try to relieve her nation of responsibility for its role in the Holocaust and shift it to the shoulders of the Nazis. This is certainly a central theme in the discussion about the Holocaust and Second World War in Poland. The Polish president Andrzej Duda has denied that Poles took part in the murder of their Jewish neighbors in Jedwabne. In this version of events, the murder of the Jews of that town was solely a German enterprise. However there is solid documentary evidence that Poles took part in that murder and others.
Concomitantly, there is a trend to present Poles as a nation of victims and rescuers. Of course Poland suffered greatly under the yoke of the Nazis, but Polish suffering did not translate into solidarity with Jews. The arithmetic gymnastics that are employed to extrapolate from the 6,706 Polish Righteous among the Nations and conclude that at least a million Poles were involved in rescue, are just that, gymnastics. It is true that more Righteous among the Nations have been recognized in Poland than any other country, but that is because Poland had by far the largest Jewish community under Nazi domination, and it is not because Poland was a nation of rescuers.
Reading Barbara Engelking’s recently published monograph “Such a Beautiful Sunny Day, Jews Seeking Refuge in the Polish Countryside 1942-1945” (Yad Vashem 2017) alongside Jan Grabowski’s seminal study “Hunt for the Jews, Betrayal and Murder in German-occupied Poland” (Indiana University 2013) demonstrates unequivocally that many ordinary Poles were deeply complicit in the persecution and murder of their Jewish neighbors, and that those who rescued Jews, first and foremost feared denunciation by fellow Poles, usually their neighbors and even family members.
In Hungary, the Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his associates are also busy revising history. So far nothing has come of the museum they had planned to build to eclipse the excellent Holocaust museum on Pava Utca in Budapest that portrays events and processes in a historically accurate fashion, including that Hungarian institutions played a principal role in the persecution and deportation Hungarian Jews. The new museum’s planned narrative would skirt around such “inconvenient” facts, and focus on the suffering of children, ascribing it to “fate.” No less an expression of Orban’s revisionism is the monument that was erected in Budapest to all the victims of the German occupation of Hungary. Hungary was occupied in March 1944 when it tried to get out of the war. Nevertheless it was precisely during the occupation that the Hungarian government fully cooperated in the deportations of the Jews. The monument obscenely equates general suffering under occupation with the Holocaust.
Especially in the Baltic countries, but not only there, the narrative that equates Stalin’s crimes to Hitler’s has established a firm foothold. Undeniably Stalin perpetrated much evil, but when this is equated to the Holocaust, there is an underlying manipulation at play. The subtext is rooted in the canard that Stalin’s crimes were perpetrated primarily by the Jews, since even if not all communists were Jews, all Jews were supposedly communists. So the culpability of local people in the persecution of their Jewish neighbors is cancelled out by the purported crimes committed by the Jews. In the Baltics, as well as other places that were under Communist control, like the Ukraine, anti-communist patriots are often lauded. Many of them, however, like Stepan Bandera in the Ukraine or Herberts Cukurs in Latvia, also engaged in the murder of Jews, and that part is overlooked.
The ongoing battle for memory does not imply that the Holocaust should be placed on a pedestal and never invoked in conjunction with other issues and events, or probed to derive whatever insights we can about our own condition. On the contrary, sometimes aspects of the Holocaust are very germane to the conversation. But they should be invoked with thoughtfulness and with the best historical integrity that can be mustered, without slipping into a new clash in the battle for memory and history.
Contents SOUND AND FURY
New York Times, Apr. 14, 2017
When I read of the United States forces’ dropping of the second-largest non-nuclear explosive in their arsenal — the 21,000-pound GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) — in eastern Afghanistan, I am reminded of what John Paul Vann, the legendary Army officer and civilian adviser during the Vietnam War, said about the right way to fight guerrillas: “This is a political war, and it calls for discrimination in killing. The best weapon for killing would be a knife, but I’m afraid we can’t do it that way. The worst is an airplane. The next worse is artillery. Barring a knife, the best is a rifle — you know who you’re killing.” An Israeli general made a similar point to me after the defeat of the second intifada, saying, “Better to fight terror with an M-16 rather than an F-16.”
What they were saying, these veteran counterguerrilla fighters, is that war requires careful calibration in the application of violence, lest excessive firepower kill lots of innocents and drive more recruits into the enemy’s camp. That is precisely the problem that United States forces (and before them, the French) encountered in Vietnam and the Russians encountered in Afghanistan.
There is, to be sure, no evidence of any collateral damage from the use of the “mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan. Preliminary reporting indicates that the bomb may have killed 36 Islamic State militants and collapsed some tunnel networks. These are results to be cheered. And if North Korea or Iran is intimidated by this staggering display of firepower, so much the better.
But while it makes sense to loosen the overly restrictive rules of engagement imposed by the Obama administration, doing so carries risks. A reminder of that came in Syria, where a recent United States airstrike mistakenly killed 18 friendly Syrian fighters. This is not an anomaly; as my Council on Foreign Relations colleague, Micah Zenko, notes, both American airstrikes and civilian casualties have increased since the Trump administration took office.
President Trump, who campaigned on a promise to “bomb the shit” out of the Islamic State militants, will not be concerned about this; indeed, he said that the use of the MOAB was a “very, very successful mission,” and he is probably right, in the narrow tactical sense. But for the bigger strategic picture he would be well-advised to read the 2006 United States Army-Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, co-authored by his own secretary of defense, which states: “An operation that kills five insurgents is counterproductive if collateral damage leads to the recruitment of 50 more insurgents.”
Beyond the possibility of collateral damage, there is a larger reason the use of the MOAB in Afghanistan should not be a cause for high-fives and unseemly celebration: It is a sign that the war in Afghanistan is not going well. The kind of war that Vann envisioned — employing small arms — is only possible if the threat is below a certain threshold. When the enemy becomes too powerful, as it did in Vietnam, then it becomes necessary to call in air and artillery strikes. That was not a sign of progress; it was a sign, in fact, that the security situation was spiraling out of control.
The situation in Afghanistan is, needless to say, not nearly as bad as it was in Vietnam during the 1960s. The Taliban are no Vietcong, and they are not supported by regular army units like the People’s Army of Vietnam. But nevertheless the trajectory in Afghanistan has been headed in the wrong direction since President Obama prematurely ended his surge and withdrew most American troops by 2016.
Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., commander of the international military force in Afghanistan, noted in early February that the government is in control of only about two-thirds of the population. As the terrorism analyst Peter Bergen points out, this means that the Taliban either “control or contest” “a total of around 10 million people, which is more than the population that ISIS controlled in Syria and Iraq at the height of its power during the summer of 2014.”
The Taliban are bad enough. Just as worrisome is that the Islamic State is also making inroads in eastern Afghanistan. Indeed, the Islamic State is by now so well-established that the Afghan Army was unable to advance into its stronghold in the Achin district of Nangarhar Province. Hence the decision to drop the MOAB. But, as Mr. Bergen says, in 2001 the United States dropped 15,000-pound “Daisy Cutter” bombs on the nearby Tora Bora complex and still failed to kill Osama bin Laden and other senior leaders of Al Qaeda. Such enormous munitions may make a big blast, but they are not guaranteed to wipe out enemy fighters burrowing deep underground. And even if they kill insurgents, they will not kill the insurgency.
Victory in any counterinsurgency requires improving the effectiveness of the government and bringing 24/7 security to the countryside. In the case of Afghanistan, it is simply not possible to achieve those objectives with only 8,500 United States troops assisting the embattled Afghan security forces, which are suffering heavy casualties and losing ground. General Nicholson asked for a “few thousand” more advisers, and if the Trump administration wants to maintain even the existing, tenuous level of security, it will have to, at a minimum, meet his request. Bombs alone, no matter how big, won’t get the job done.
IRAN, FIGHTING TO THE LAST AFGHAN
Commentary, Apr. 3, 2017
During the Cold War, both the Soviet Union and Cuba regularly used foreign proxies to fight their battles. When Radek Sikorski became Poland’s Defense Minister in 2005, he exposed how the Soviet Union’s classified war plans against NATO included using nuclear weapons against West Germany and then sending Polish soldiers to march across the radioactive battlefields. Cuban soldiers meanwhile became proxies for Cold War struggles in Angola and across Latin America. During the Cold War, the Algeria-based Polisario Front forcibly separated Sahwari children from their parents for re-education in Cuba and eventual deployment in service of various liberation movements. Such exploitation of whole countries as mercenary forces was a disgusting practice. It was one that should have ended with the fall of the Cold War.
Increasingly, however, the Islamic Republic of Iran is replicating the former Soviet and Cuban strategies in Syria, where its intervention to support Bashar al-Assad has cost the Islamic Republic several thousand Iranian soldiers and cadets. The Iranian use of Hezbollah in Lebanon should have put permanently to rest any notion that Hezbollah has evolved into a Lebanese national organization. Rather, it remains what it always has been: A proxy for the Islamic Republic of Iran. But Hezbollah is not alone. A couple of years ago, I noted the increasing number of funerals of foreign nationals—especially Afghans—occurring in Iran whom Iranian news sources said had died fighting in Syria.
In recent weeks, however, mention of the Afghans has increased. On March 2, for example, Esmail Ghani, the deputy commander of the Qods Force, praised the entirely Afghan Shi’ite Fatimiyoun Brigade for its sacrifices in both Iraq and Syria. When the Fatimiyoun [Brigade] set foot in Syria, its streets were in America’s hands. Today… [the Fatimiyoun] have slapped America on the mouth. [America] would never have come to the negotiations if it weren’t for [the Fatimiyoun’s] strength on the field,” Ghani said, according to a translation from the American Enterprise Institute’s Iran team. Subsequently, the Fatimiyoun Brigade announced that it had created a dedicated mosque in Mashhad–Iran’s second-largest city–so that it could form its own Basij unit.
The Basij, of course, are a paramilitary and cultural organization which, on the one hand, keeps order in times of crisis but, on the other, recruits and indoctrinates. They fall under the wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Iranian leaders have previously said they want to create a 100 million-strong Basij organization spanning national borders and nationalities. It seems this was not mere rhetoric but rather a roadmap to Iran’s future plans.
Throughout its existence, Hezbollah has been a force for instability. As first the Obama administration and now seemingly the Trump administration acquiesce to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remaining in power and the Iranian influence that follows him, it is time to recognize that such ‘stability’ comes at a price which makes the world decidedly less stable. While the Obama team, at least, whitewashed Iran’s poor behavior, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have put in place a strategy to radicalize not only Afghans but to use Shi’ite mercenaries from Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere to take ‘export of revolution’ potentially ever farther afield.
Celebrating Life in Krakow: Tamara Zieve, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 24, 2017—The main square of Krakow’s Jewish quarter was bursting with life Sunday with groups of youth from all over the world on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Groups of young participants in the International March of the Living thronged outside the Remah Synagogue where Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett paid a visit and stopped to talk to high school students.
At Least 140 Dead After Taliban Attack on a Key Afghan Army Base, Officials Say: Sayed Salahuddin & Pamela Constable, Washington Post, Apr. 22, 2017—The nerve center of Afghan and NATO combat activities in northern Afghanistan is a sprawling military base in Balkh province. There, thousands of Afghan National Army troops live and train, regional deployments and attacks are planned, and U.S.-supplied helicopters and fighter planes are launched to support Afghan troops battling the Taliban.
Is It Time for America and Afghanistan to Part Ways?: Daniel R. DePetris, National Interest, Apr. 23, 2017—The war in Afghanistan has been going on for such a long period of time that it’s almost become a ritual for a new administration to take a bottom-up, comprehensive look at America’s war strategy during its first two months on the job.