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

Month: January 2018

WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

 

 

 

 

Contents: | Weekly Quotes | Short Takes   | On Topic Links

 

On Topic Links

                    

MEDIA-OCRITY OF THE WEEK: “Hillary Clinton was the first woman to run for president on a major party ticket, and when she did it, she won the popular vote. She’s broken a trillion barriers. She’s also done enormous good work to improve the lives of women in this country. But she’s never been at her strongest when it comes to men on the prowl. While her faith adviser wasn’t anywhere near the level of a Harvey Weinstein, she did hang out with Weinstein, too, cherishing him as a beloved donor. And some women have never really gotten over the fact that she did not leave her husband when she discovered he was having an affair, in the White House, with a girl far too young and powerless to be a genuinely willing partner. Because sexual harassment is so much on our national mind right now, we’d like her to be a heroine on that issue, too. But if there’s anything we’ve learned in all of our years with Hillary Clinton, it’s that you can be both great and deeply imperfect. It’s one of her gifts. Even if right now we really wish she’d fired the faith adviser.” — Gail Collins. (New York Times, Jan. 26, 2018)

 

On Topic Links

 

The Need for Post-Holocaust Studies: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Algemeiner, Jan. 26, 2018

Turkey’s Afrin Offensive Could Have Dangerous Consequences: Bessma Momani, Globe & Mail, Jan. 25, 2018

Canada Must Keep Up Pressure on the Iranian Regime: Nazanin Afshin-Jam Mackay & Shuvaloy Majumdar, Globe & Mail, Jan. 26, 2018

Staying the Course in Afghanistan: Kosh Sadat & Stanley McChrystal, Foreign Affairs, Nov. 2017

 

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“We take this opportunity to recall the Nazis’ systematic persecution and brutal murder of six million Jewish people. In their death camps and under their inhuman rule, the Nazis also enslaved and killed millions of Slavs, Roma, gays, people with disabilities, priests and religious leaders, and others who courageously opposed their brutal regime.” — White House statement ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The White House on Friday issued a statement marking the solemn annual commemoration. With its mention of the genocide of Jews, it appears the White House took to heart the criticism it received following its omission of such a specific reference in last year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement. (Algemeiner, Jan. 26, 2018)

 

“The State of Israel is not a colonial project, and not compensation for the Holocaust…The State of Israel came into being from the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in its own homeland.” — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, at the International Holocaust Remembrance Day event at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Rivlin referred to current antisemitism, racism and neo-Nazism. “In this environment, Jews feel threatened in the countries in which they live and some feel the need to hide their identities,” he said. After the Holocaust, he recalled, there was a commitment to “Never again,” and only a few years ago did the United Nations take the important decision of designating International Holocaust Remembrance Day on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. But remembrance is not enough, Rivlin underscored. “We must fight this new antisemitism.” (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 26, 2018)

 

“The legislation doesn’t say actually anything about the ‘Polish death camps’ description, which — as the Israeli government and the major Jewish organizations have readily acknowledged on many occasions — is an insensitive form of words…It says that anybody can be criminalized, anybody who says anything about the ‘responsibility’ or ‘co-responsibility’ of the ‘Polish state or the Polish nation in the crimes of the Third Reich, or any other crimes against humanity or war crimes or crimes against peace during World War Two.'” — Dr. Rafal Pankowski, a Warsaw-based scholar of contemporary antisemitism and racism. Israel and Poland agreed to talks over Warsaw’s commitment to a new bill criminalizing any discussion of Polish collusion with Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. Several of the world’s best-known Holocaust scholars warned that the proposed legislation could censor further investigation into the plight of Poland’s Jews under the Nazi occupation. Holocaust experts all agreed that the bill reflected a concerted effort by right-wing Polish governments over the last decade to rewrite the country’s history in accordance with a nationalist political agenda. (Algemeiner, Jan. 29, 2018)

 

“That money is on the table, and that money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace…Because I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace. And they’re going to have to want to make peace, too, or we’re going to have nothing to do with it any longer.” — Pres. Trump. Trump threatened to write off PA leadership and withdraw aid if Palestinians are not serious about peace. Trump said that his decision to recognize Jerusalem as capital had removed an obstacle to a deal. Past peace efforts have focused at least in part on building up Palestinian government in preparation for statehood. Trump suggested past negotiators were too hidebound in their view of Jerusalem. “This was never brought up by other negotiators, but it’s brought up by me. So I will say that the hardest subject they had to talk about was Jerusalem. We took Jerusalem off the table, so we don’t have to talk about it anymore. They never got past Jerusalem. We took it off the table. We don’t have to talk about it anymore. You won one point, and you’ll give up some points later on in the negotiation, if it ever takes place. I don’t know that it ever will take place.” (Washington Post, Jan. 25, 2018)

 

“We are prepared for negotiations, and we never intended to leave the talks, but regrettably no one is offering us talks, especially not the Americans, who now wish to punish us…The Oslo Accords are dead, and even though Israel has not lived up to its obligations, we have so far not halted security cooperation. We are waiting to see if there can be negotiations under fair mediators.” — PA President Abbas. Palestinians froze their ties with Washington, and said they would not accept the administration as a peace broker, following Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The US has reacted to the boycott by threatening to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars it provides in aid. (Times of Israel, Jan. 27, 2018)

 

“This is a historic decision that will be forever etched in the hearts of our people for generations to come. People say that this pushes peace backward. I say it pushes peace forward because it recognizes history, it recognizes the present reality, and peace can only be built on the basis of truth.” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump and Netanyahu met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, with an agenda that included future U.S. participation in the international nuclear deal with Iran. Netanyahu told Trump that he would back the U.S. if Washington walks away from the agreement that both leaders say is too weak. (Washington Post, Jan. 25, 2018)

 

“Operation Olive Branch will continue until it reaches its goals. We will rid Manbij of terrorists, as it was promised to us, and our battles will continue until no terrorist is left until our border with Iraq.” — Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan said Turkish forces would sweep Kurdish fighters from the Syrian border and could push all the way east to the frontier with Iraq — a move which risks a possible confrontation with U.S. forces allied to the Kurds. The Turkish offensive in northwest Syria’s Afrin region against the Kurdish YPG militia has opened a new front in the multi-sided Syrian civil war but has strained ties with NATO ally Washington. Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group but the militia has played a prominent role in U.S.-led efforts to combat I.S. (Globe & Mail, Jan. 26, 2018)

 

“If North Korea still possesses a military nuclear capability in some finite time, the impact on the proliferation of nuclear weapons might be fundamental…Because if North Korea could keep its capability in the face of opposition by China and the United States, and the disapproval of the rest of the … world, other countries will also feel this is the way for achieving international prominence and the upper hand.” — Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Kissinger, 94 — who served in the administrations of former presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford — called North Korea's nuclear ambitions “the most immediate challenge to international peace and security.” He said that denuclearizing the Hermit Kingdom “must be a fundamental objective” as it could signal opportunity for other countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction and set the stage for a “new world … that will require new thinking.” (Fox News, Jan. 26, 2018)

 

“Canada has its national interests, just as does every other country. But Ottawa refuses to take the necessary steps to rebuild the Canadian Armed Forces so it can perform its duties in an effective way. It refuses to reform a procurement system that is broken. It refuses to take the necessary steps to protect Canadians from nuclear attack. If Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un go to war, the missiles might fly. Mr. Kim's missiles will pass over Canada en route to the United States – if they are accurate. If they go off course, they might hit Vancouver or Edmonton. If they are intercepted by the Americans, the radioactive pieces can land on Canadian territory. At the very least, Canada needs to strike an agreement to get a voice in the operations room when the decisions are made in Colorado Springs. Let us not pretend we are sovereign if we cannot defend ourselves. We have national interests, and the defence of Canada and Canadians is the most important interest of all.” — J.L. Granatstein. (Globe and Mail, Jan. 26, 2018)

 

“I believe he [made the decision to move the embassy] because he is a believing Christian and it is very much in his belief structure. Guatemala was the second country to recognize Israel in 1947, and the current leadership really believes that this is the way to protect Jerusalem.” — Malcolm Hoenlein, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. In the wake of Guatemala’s decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem following Trump’s historic announcement of the same policy decision, a large delegation of Jewish and Christian leaders traveled to Guatemala to thank President Morales for the move and offer support for the Central American nation. A devout evangelical Christian, Morales has prioritized reaching out to the country’s small Jewish community—about 900 Jews as of 2012—as well as strengthening ties to Israel. (Breaking Israel News, Jan. 30, 2018)

 

Contents

 

 

SHORT TAKES

 

ISRAEL DEMANDS POLAND REVERSE LAW OUTLAWING MENTION OF ‘POLISH DEATH CAMPS’ (Warsaw) — Israel made it clear to the Polish government that it opposed a bill passed by the Polish parliament prescribing prison sentences of up to three years to anyone using the phrase “Polish death camps” or any other reference to Polish involvement in the murder of millions of Jews and other victims during World War II. Many Poles fear that the term “Polish Death Camps” gives some people the impression that Poles had a role in running the death camps. History has recorded plenty of Polish acts of violence against Jews besides running the trains to the death camps, which was the purview of the Polish government, and supporting the death camp industry. (Breaking Israel News, Jan. 28, 2018)

 

AFGHAN SOLDIERS GUARDING KABUL MILITARY ACADEMY KILLED IN ATTACK (Kabul) — ISIS militants attacked Afghan soldiers guarding a military academy in the capital of Kabul on Monday, killing at least 11 troops and wounding 16. The attack was the latest in a wave of relentless violence in Kabul this month unleashed by the Taliban and the rival Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and has killed scores and left hundreds wounded. On Saturday, a Taliban attacker drove an ambulance filled with explosives into the heart of the city, killing at least 103 people and wounding as many as 235. The Taliban claimed the ambulance attack, as well as an attack a week earlier in which militants stormed a hilltop hotel in Kabul, the Intercontinental, killing 22 people, including 14 foreigners, and setting off a 13-hour battle with security forces. (CBC, Jan. 29, 2018)

 

YEMEN SEPARATISTS SEIZE ADEN (Aden) — After two days of clashes, the strategic Yemeni port city of Aden appeared to be under the control of southern separatists Tuesday, splintering the Saudi-backed coalition fighting Iranian-backed rebels for control of the Middle East’s poorest country. By Tuesday afternoon, the separatists had seized the area around the presidential palace, home to the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Some news reports suggested that the country’s prime minister was preparing to flee to neighboring Saudi Arabia to join Hadi, who is based in the kingdom. The infighting is the latest twist in a three-year-long civil conflict that has pitted the northern Houthi rebels, backed by Tehran, against the Hadi government, backed by a coalition of regional powers. (Washington Post, Jan. 30, 2018)

 

ISRAEL EMBASSY IN JORDAN TO REOPEN (Amman) — The Israeli Embassy in Amman, Jordan, will be reopened to the public in the coming days and some embassy staff have already returned to their positions. The embassy had been closed since July, when an Israeli guard, Ziv Moyal, shot dead two Jordanians, Mohammed Jawawdeh and Bashar Hamarneh. Israel has “strongly apologized” for the July incident and promised to compensate the victims’ families, a Jordanian government spokesman said on January 18. The move brings to a close one of the worst crises in Jordanian-Israeli relations since the two countries signed a peace treaty in 1994. (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 30, 2018)

 

HALEY TO PRESS IRAN MISSILE THREAT ON SECURITY COUNCIL VISIT (Washington) — The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, is to head a delegation of Security Council diplomats visiting Washington, DC as part of a continued push by the Trump administration to emphasize its concerns about Iran’s supply of missiles to proxies in the Middle East. The US Mission to the UN said that Haley would lead the diplomats on a tour of the Iranian weaponry supplied to the Houthis in Yemen. The weapons were first unveiled in December. Meanwhile, a prominent think tank calculated that Iran had conducted 23 ballistic missile launches since the announcement of the JCPOA in 2015. The launches were significant, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) argued, because they showed Iran’s continued determination to assemble a missile that can deliver a nuclear warhead. (Algemeiner, Jan. 26, 2018)

 

FRANCE SANCTIONS COMPANIES AND PERSONS FOR ENABLING SYRIA’S CHEMICAL WARFARE (Paris) — The government of France sanctioned companies as well as 25 individuals for their role in aiding Syria’s chemical-weapons program. The punitive measures will include freezing assets for those Syrian, Lebanese or Canadian individuals “with companies working in electronics, metal work, logistics or shipping.” Syrian experts reported on Monday that President Bashar Assad’s regime conducted a fresh chemical-warfare attack. Reporter Julian Ropcke, who covers the Syrian conflict for Germany’s largest daily, Bild, tweeted on Tuesday that “22 civilians, most of them children, suffered from intoxication after another Assad regime Chemical Weapons [Chlorine gas] attack on East Ghouta. The gas was delivered in nine Katyusha rockets.” (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 25, 2018)

 

GERMAN FAR-RIGHT POLITICIAN BECOMES MUSLIM, SAYS SPOKESMAN (Berlin) — A politician in the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, known for its anti-Muslim rhetoric, has resigned from its board and converted to Islam. But while Arthur Wagner quit his AfD leadership post in the eastern state of Brandenburg, he remained a member of the party, which says Islam is incompatible with Germany’s constitution and wants a ban on minarets and the face-covering burqa. The AfD became Germany’s third largest party in parliament after last September’s general election. (Ynet, Jan. 26, 2018)  

 

SAUDI-BASED MUSLIM BODY REJECTS HOLOCAUST DENIAL (Riyadh) — A Saudi-based Muslim group rejected Holocaust denial in a letter to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. “History is indeed impartial no matter how hard forgers tried to tamper with or manipulate it,” said the letter sent to the museum by Mohammad Al Issa, the secretary general of the Muslim World League, five days before International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The Muslim World League, which was founded in 1962, is funded principally by Saudi Arabia’s government. President Donald Trump, visiting Saudi Arabia in June, encouraged it and other Sunni Arab countries to combat radical Islam. Holocaust denial has proliferated for decades in the Arab and Muslim worlds, sometimes encouraged by official government bodies, including in the past by Saudi Arabia. (Ha’aretz, Jan. 27, 2018)

 

BENNETT ORDERS COMPULSORY COURSE ON POLES’ COLLABORATION WITH NAZIS (Jerusalem) —Minister of Education Naftali Bennett’s office announced that it had formulated a lesson plan for a special course—in response to the proposed Polish parliament bill punishing individuals for using the term “Polish Death Camps.” The course, titled, “The involvement of local populations, including Poland, in the Holocaust of the Jewish people,” will be taught in grades 7 through 12. The lesson plan offers a variety of suggestions for relevant learning materials from Yad Vashem, testimonies of survivors, historical sources, and class discussion questions. (Jewish Press, Jan. 29, 2018)

 

186,500 HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS LIVED IN ISRAEL IN 2016 (Tel Aviv) — The number of Holocaust survivors who lived in Israel by the end of 2016 is 186,500, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. Out of those: 57,500 stayed in a ghetto, a hiding place, a work camp, a concentration/extermination camp. 77% of them were born in Europe. 101,000 lived in countries under Nazi rule, 55% out of them were born in North Africa. Of the Holocaust survivors population, about 59% are women and 41% men. The older the segment of this population, the higher the percentage of women. In the age group of 84 and up, about 63% are women and 37% men. (Jewish Press, Jan. 29, 2018)

 

EX-IDF SOLDIER SPEAKS AS PROTESTERS CALL FOR ISRAEL’S DESTRUCTION (London) — A former Israeli soldier’s talk at University College London (UCL) was met with student government-endorsed protests labeling him a “war criminal” and calls for the Jewish state’s destruction. Hen Mazzig was invited to campus by administrators after his 2016 talk at UCL drew “hostile and abusive protestors,” who climbed through windows and used loudspeakers to interrupt his lecture, according to a university investigation. He ultimately had to leave the event with a police escort — a security measure that was also employed after his latest talk on campus. (United With Israel, Jan. 29, 2018)

 

MCGILL CONSIDERS REJECTING USE OF ENDOWMENT TO ‘ADVANCE SOCIAL, POLITICAL CAUSES’ (Montreal) — The Board of Governors at McGill U. in Montreal is considering advising against the use of its resources “to advance social or political causes.” The board considered including the language in its Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility, which informs the board of the social impact of investments in its 1.6 billion endowment. McGill Students in Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights and Divest McGill warned that such changes “would have effectively destroyed the potential for any divestment campaign in the next five years.” (Algemeiner, Jan. 30, 2018)

 

BOYCOTT OF JOHANSSON’S SPEECH ‘CONTEMPTIBLE’ (Washington) — The groups who boycotted Scarlett Johansson’s Women’s March speech due to her position as spokesperson for SodaStream, an Israeli company, was both “clarifying and contemptible,” Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL said. Greenblatt was reacting to news that the Palestinian American Women’s Assn. was withdrawing from the march due to Johansson’s participation. In 2014, Johansson was appointed global ambassador for SodaSteam. Johansson stood up to pressure urging her to disassociate herself from the company and wrote that SodaStream was “committed…to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other…” (United With Israel, Jan. 24, 2018)

 

OBAMA, FARRAKHAN PHOTO CONCEALED (Washington) — Barack Obama posed for a photo in 2005 with Louis Farrakhan, the antisemitic leader of the Nation of Islam movement, and the photographer said he suppressed its publication at the request of a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Obama was a US senator from Illinois at the time. The Trice Edney News Wire first published the photo on Jan. 20. It quotes the photographer, saying that after snapping the picture at a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus, an unidentified member of the caucus asked him immediately not to run the photo. Jewish leaders have denounced Farrakhan as an antisemite, noting his speeches accusing Jews of conspiring to control the government, the media and Hollywood. (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 28, 2018)

 

On Topic Links

 

The Need for Post-Holocaust Studies: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Algemeiner, Jan. 26, 2018—The memory and discussion of historical events usually fade away with the passing of time. This does not seem to be the case with the Holocaust, however, which is brought up regularly in a variety of contexts. Similarly, research shows that the phenomenon of Holocaust abuse is increasing.

Turkey’s Afrin Offensive Could Have Dangerous Consequences: Bessma Momani, Globe & Mail, Jan. 25, 2018 —For years, the Turks have been watching the Americans train, arm, and support those whom they deem to be terrorists right across their border. The Turkish government has rightly pointed out to the United States that when it decided to partner with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), it was emboldening a terrorist group intimately connected to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (known as the PKK).

Canada Must Keep Up Pressure on the Iranian Regime: Nazanin Afshin-Jam Mackay & Shuvaloy Majumdar, Globe & Mail, Jan. 26, 2018 —It's hard not to be moved by the tremendous bravery that filled Iranian streets this month. Many Canadians have paid tribute to the efforts of the protesters with moving speeches and powerful essays. Canada's support for Iran's freedom movement need not remain symbolic, however. Ottawa has enough resources at its disposal to help tilt the scales in the protesters' favour.

Staying the Course in Afghanistan: Kosh Sadat & Stanley McChrystal, Foreign Affairs, Nov. 2017—It was February 2010, and after months establishing a relationship, Pakistan’s chief of army staff, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and one of us, Stan McChrystal, were having the kind of conversation senior military commanders are supposed to have, discussing the role of the NATO-led coalition’s efforts in Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan.

 

ISRAEL-SAUDI TIES EMERGED FROM DESIRE TO CONFRONT REGIONAL INSTABILITY

Israel and the Gulf: Samuel Ramani, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 26, 2017— On November 19, Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz announced that the Israeli government possessed covert diplomatic links with Saudi Arabia.

US-Saudi Nuclear Talks: A Middle East Barometer?: Dr. James M. Dorsey, BESA, Jan. 10, 2018— President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was perhaps most challenging for the Saudis…

Yemen’s Humanitarian Nightmare: Asher Orkaby, Foreign Affairs, Dec. 2017 — On February 20, 2015, as the residents of Sanaa prepared for evening prayers, Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi put on a woman’s niqab and slipped out the back door of his official residence, where a car was waiting for him.

Tiny, Wealthy Qatar Goes Its Own Way, and Pays for It: Declan Walsh, New York Times, Jan. 22, 2018— For the emir of Qatar, there has been little that money can’t buy.

 

On Topic Links

 

Arbor Day (Tu Bishvat) Guide for the Perplexed, 2018: Yoram Ettinger, Ettinger Report, Jan. 29, 2018

Yemen Separatists Capture Aden, Government Confined to Palace: Residents: New York Times, Jan. 30, 2018

A Changed Saudi Arabia (Video): Amb. Dore Gold, JCPA, Jan. 3, 2018

Like Israelis, Saudis Pin Their Hopes on Iranian Protestors: Ben Lynfield, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 3, 2018

 

                                            

                                    ISRAEL AND THE GULF

Samuel Ramani

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 26, 2017

 

On November 19, Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz announced that the Israeli government possessed covert diplomatic links with Saudi Arabia. As Israel’s economic and defense links with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have been an open secret for years, Steinitz’s announcement was unsurprising. Nevertheless, his statement was symbolically significant as it broke the decades-long veil of secrecy surrounding the Israel-GCC partnership.

 

Many analysts have described the Israel-GCC partnership as a purely tactical alignment aimed at containing Iran and expanding Israel’s formal diplomatic recognition in the Arab world. This depiction mischaracterizes and understates the depth of the partnership. Israel established security and economic ties with the GCC bloc long before Iran emerged as a mutual threat, and this informal partnership will likely continue to strengthen even if Saudi Arabia and the UAE do not give Israel diplomatic recognition. The current Israel-GCC security partnership emerged from a common desire to confront sources of instability in the Middle East. The first major example of a joint Israel-GCC stabilization effort was Israel’s 1981 Operation Opera strike on Iraq’s nuclear facilities. This military strike was likely undertaken with Saudi Arabia’s tacit consent, as Israeli pilots flew over Saudi airspace to Iraq without active resistance from Riyadh.

 

Iran’s rising military assertiveness after the 2003 Iraq War and pursuit of a nuclear deterrent further entrenched the pro-stability agenda that binds Israel to Saudi Arabia. Despite denials from Israeli and Saudi officials, numerous reports pointed to an increase in Jerusalem-Riyadh intelligence cooperation during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s tenure as Iran’s president. This cooperation culminated in an alleged 2009 test of Saudi Arabia’s air defense capacity and a covert 2010 assessment of the ability of Israeli planes to pass safely through Saudi territory to Iran in the event of war.

 

Recent military activities like Israel’s joint air force drills with the UAE in March 2017 build directly on Ahmadinejad-era intelligence sharing, and highlight the persistence of the Israel-GCC stabilizing coalition. The Qatar crisis represents the natural extension of this coalition, as Israel and Saudi Arabia both regard Qatar’s financial support for Islamist groups as threatening to regional stability. Al Jazeera’s journalism license underscored Jerusalem’s solidarity with Saudi Arabia against Qatar. Israel and Saudi Arabia’s clandestine collaboration to undermine Qatar’s influence in the Middle East demonstrates that the stabilization role served by their alignment is likely to survive even if Iran eventually moderates its belligerent conduct.

 

The economic dimension of the Israel-GCC partnership has equally deep roots. During the 1990s, Israeli investors expressed interest in developing economic ties with GCC countries, due to their rapidly growing financial sectors and real estate markets. Pressure from Israeli investors and GCC business owners who were interested in gaining access to Israeli capital and technology resulted in the development of state-to-state trade relations. Israel’s landmark 1996 agreement to open trade offices in Oman and Qatar began this process. This agreement was followed by Saudi Arabia’s decision to legalize Israeli capital inflows in 2005.

 

Even though disagreements over the status of the Palestinian territories abruptly halted Israel’s outreach efforts to Oman and Qatar during the early 2000s, Israel’s informal trade relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE have grown rapidly over the past decade. Through trade liberalization initiatives, Saudi Arabia has gained access to Israeli irrigation technology. The UAE’s fledgling renewable energy sector and real estate markets have also received substantial capital inflows from Israel. The development of person-to-person links between Israel and the GCC through trade initiatives has encouraged the development of informal defense sector cooperation. In 2016, Saudi Arabia began purchasing Israeli drones via South Africa. An October 2017 report revealed that the UAE has a long-standing partnership with Israeli businessman Metai Kokhafi, which has allowed Abu Dhabi to gain access to Iron Dome technology.

 

Despite these positive developments and Bahrain’s recent expression of support for Israel’s recognition, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are unlikely to establish formal ties with Israel. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir continues to deny the existence of informal cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Officially, Saudi diplomats also continue to adhere to the terms of the 2002 Abdullah Plan, which only allowed for the recognition of Israel if a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict was successfully implemented…

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

 

 

Contents

US-SAUDI NUCLEAR TALKS: A MIDDLE EAST BAROMETER?

Dr. James M. Dorsey

BESA, Jan. 10, 2017

 

President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was perhaps most challenging for the Saudis, who, as custodians of Islam’s two holiest cities, would have been expected to play a leading role in protecting the status of the city that is home to the faith’s third holiest site. Yet Saudi Arabia sent its foreign minister, Adel al Jubeir, to the summit of Islamic countries in Istanbul that recognized East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine rather than the king, the crown prince, or another senior member of the ruling family.

 

The difficulty for the Saudis is not only their close cooperation with Israel, their willingness to hint in public at what was long a secret relationship, and their position as the closest friend the US has in the Arab world – a friend who reportedly was willing to endorse a US Israeli-Palestinian peace plan in the making that would fail to meet the minimum demanded by Palestinians and Arab public opinion.

 

With Trump backing Saudi efforts to counter Iranian influence in a swath of land stretching from Asia to the Atlantic coast of Africa despite mounting US criticism of the kingdom’s conduct of its military intervention in Yemen, Riyadh has a vested interest in maintaining its close ties to Washington. While Riyadh has been put in an awkward position by Trump’s declaration, international condemnation of the move has also increased Saudi leverage.

 

Trump’s support for Saudi Arabia as well as his transactional approach to foreign policy, which aims to further US business interests, holds out the promise of tipping the Middle East’s military balance of power in favor of the kingdom. In the president’s latest effort, his administration is weighing allowing Saudi Arabia to enrich uranium as part of a deal that would ensure that bids by Westinghouse Electric Co. and other US companies to build nuclear reactors in the kingdom are successful. Past US reluctance to endorse Saudi enrichment and reprocessing of uranium has put purveyors of US nuclear technology at a disadvantage.

 

Saudi Arabia agreed with the US in 2008 not to pursue enrichment and reprocessing but has since backed away from that pledge. “They wouldn’t commit, and it was a sticking point,” said Max Bergmann, a former special assistant to the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. Testifying to Congress in November, Christopher Ford, the US National Security Council’s senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation, refused to commit the Trump administration to the US restrictions. The restrictions are “not a legal requirement. It is a desired outcome,” Ford said. He added that the 2015 international agreement with Iran, which severely restricts the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program for at least a decade, made it more difficult for the US to insist on limiting other countries’ enrichment capabilities.

 

Saudi Arabia plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors by 2030 at a cost of an estimated $100 billion. Officially, Saudi Arabia sees nuclear power as a way of freeing up more oil for export in a country that has witnessed dramatic increases in domestic consumption, as well as contributing to the diversification of its economy. It would also enhance the kingdom’s efforts to ensure parity with Iran in terms of its ability to enrich uranium and its quest to be the Middle East’s long-term, dominant power. Saudi Arabia has large uranium deposits of its own. In preparation for requesting bids for its nuclear program, Saudi Arabia in October asked the US, France, South Korea, Russia, and China for preliminary information. In recent years, the kingdom has concluded a  number of nuclear-related understandings not only with the US but with China, France, Pakistan, Russia, South Korea, and Argentina.

 

Trump’s apparent willingness to ease US restrictions services his campaign promise to revive and revitalize America’s nuclear industry and meet competition from Russia and China. Saudi contracts are crucial for Westinghouse, a nuclear technology pioneer whose expertise is used in more than half the world’s nuclear power plants. Westinghouse declared bankruptcy in March because of delays in two US projects. A deal that would lift US restrictions in return for acquiring US technology could enmesh Saudi Arabia in bitter domestic political battles in Washington revolving around alleged Russian interference in the US presidential election. Controversial Trump campaign aide and short-lived national security advisor Michael Flynn sought to convince Israel to accept the kingdom’s nuclear program as part of his efforts to promote Russian nuclear interests in the Middle East.

 

Trump’s willingness, against the backdrop of uncertainty about his readiness to uphold US adherence to the 2015 agreement with Iran, could unleash an arms race in the Middle East and North Africa. Trump recently refused to certify to Congress that Iran was compliant with the agreement. Dropping restrictions on Saudi enrichment could not only fuel the Saudi-Iranian rivalry that has wreaked havoc across the region, but also encourage other recipients of US nuclear technology to demand similar rights. The United Arab Emirates and Egypt have accepted restrictions on enrichment in their nuclear deals with US companies as long as those limitations were imposed on all countries in the Middle East…                   

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

 

 

Contents

YEMEN’S HUMANITARIAN NIGHTMARE

Asher Orkaby

Foreign Affairs, Dec. 2017

 

On February 20, 2015, as the residents of Sanaa prepared for evening prayers, Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi put on a woman’s niqab and slipped out the back door of his official residence, where a car was waiting for him. For a month, Houthi rebels, who had taken Sanaa in late 2014, had been holding him under house arrest. By the time the guards noticed that he was gone, Hadi had reached the relative safety of the southern port of Aden. A month later, as Houthi forces advanced south, he fled again, this time to Riyadh, where he called on Saudi Arabia to intervene in Yemen’s civil war.

 

Within days, a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states began a campaign of air strikes against Houthi targets that rapidly became a siege of the entire country. Cut off from imports, and under a ceaseless Saudi bombardment, Yemen has turned into one of the worst humanitarian crises of modern times. Seven million Yemenis live in areas that are close to famine, nearly two million children are suffering from acute malnutrition, and an outbreak of cholera has infected over 600,000 people.

 

The conflict in Yemen is often described as an outgrowth of the Shiite-Sunni rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia, as Iran has supplied weapons and military advisers to the Houthis. But this misunderstands both the origins of the war and the reason why Saudi Arabia intervened. The war is not about regional interests; it is a continuation of a long-standing conflict between the Yemeni government and marginalized northern tribes, which escalated thanks to a gradual decline in the legitimacy and competence of the central government in Sanaa. And Saudi Arabia intervened not to counter Iranian expansionism but to secure its southern border against the Houthi threat. As a result, only an internal Yemeni political settlement can end the war, although Saudi Arabia, the United States, and international humanitarian organizations can do much to improve the situation in the meantime.

 

The modern state of Yemen was born in 1962, when revolutionaries, many of whom had absorbed contemporary ideas of nationalism at foreign universities, deposed Imam Muhammad al-Badr and created the Yemen Arab Republic, or North Yemen. For the next 40 years, the foreign-educated elite who had sparked the revolution occupied some of the most important positions in the new republic, serving as presidents, prime ministers, cabinet ministers, and chief executives. They based their legitimacy on the roles they had played during the revolution and its aftermath, achieving an almost mythic status in the national imagination. The revolution also transformed the rest of Yemeni society. It empowered Yemen’s growing urban population and ended the dominance of those families—known as “sayyids”—who could trace their lineage back to the Prophet Muhammad. And it sent Yemen’s northern tribes, which had supported the deposed Badr, into the political wilderness. Shut off from government funding, their region stagnated and their problems festered.

 

After North and South Yemen unified, in 1990, discrimination against the northern tribes gave rise to a protest movement in the north, led in part by the Houthi family, one of the most prominent sayyid dynasties in northern Yemen. Then, in 2004, during early clashes between northern tribes and the government, the Yemeni military killed Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, one of the leaders of the movement. His death marked the beginning of the northern tribes’ armed insurgency and gave the rebels their name. For the next seven years, sporadic fighting continued, with neither side gaining a meaningful advantage.

 

At the same time as the government was fighting the Houthis in the north, its authority in the rest of the country was fading. The greatest challenge for a revolutionary state is maintaining its legitimacy after the founders have died, and half a century after the revolution, few of Yemen’s original leaders remained. In June 2011, Abdul Aziz Abdul Ghani, one of the last of the revolutionary generation, was mortally wounded in an assassination attempt on the country’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, during popular protests that had paralyzed Sanaa. Both sides of the political divide paused the hostilities to mourn. But from that point on, the Yemeni state created by the revolution effectively disappeared.

 

The passing of Yemen’s revolutionary generation created not only a crisis of national identity but also one of governance. Once, Yemeni students who had obtained degrees abroad took pride in returning home as future leaders. But over the last ten years, much of the educated elite has left the country, citing worsening government corruption and ineptitude and a lack of domestic employment opportunities. Political appointments are now granted on the basis of tribal membership rather than training or experience, and technocrats have gradually given way to the beneficiaries of nepotism.

 

As the central government’s legitimacy declined over the last decade, a political void opened. Beginning in 2009, extremist groups, including al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, emerged to fill the gap. But it was the northern Houthi movement, already organized and opposed to the central government, that was positioned to take the fullest advantage of the derelict republic.

 

The Houthis’ chance came in early 2011, when revolts in places such as Egypt and Tunisia inspired months of mass protests against the corrupt, autocratic government in Sanaa. That February, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, a northern rebel leader, declared his support for the antigovernment demonstrations and sent thousands of his followers to join the rallies in the capital. Some of the most powerful images of the uprising were those of tribesmen in traditional robes demonstrating alongside members of the urban youth movement. Fifty years earlier, these two groups had fought each other for control of Yemen; in 2011, they marched together against a common enemy, Saleh…

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

 

 

Contents

 

TINY, WEALTHY QATAR GOES ITS OWN WAY, AND PAYS FOR IT

Declan Walsh

New York Times, Jan. 22, 2018

 

For the emir of Qatar, there has been little that money can’t buy. As a teenager he dreamed of becoming the Boris Becker of the Arab world, so his parents flew the German tennis star to Qatar to give their son lessons. A lifelong sports fanatic, he later bought a French soccer team, Paris Saint-Germain, which last summer paid $263 million for a Brazilian striker — the highest transfer fee in the history of the game. He helped bring the 2022 World Cup to Qatar at an estimated cost of $200 billion, a major coup for a country that had never qualified for the tournament.

 

Now at age 37, the emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, has run into a problem that money alone cannot solve. Since June, tiny Qatar has been the target of a punishing air and sea boycott led by its largest neighbors, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Overnight, airplanes and cargo ships bound for Qatar were forced to change course, diplomatic ties were severed and Qatar’s only land border, a 40-mile stretch of desert with Saudi Arabia, slammed shut.

 

Not even animals were spared. Around 12,000 Qatari camels, peacefully grazing on Saudi land, were expelled, causing a stampede at the border. Qatar’s foes accuse it of financing terrorism, cozying up to Iran and harboring fugitive dissidents. They detest Al Jazeera, Qatar’s rambunctious and highly influential satellite network. And — although few say it openly — they appear intent on ousting Qatar’s young leader, Tamim, from his throne. Tamim denies the accusations, and chalks up the animosity to simple jealousy. “They don’t like our independence,” he said in an interview in New York in September. “They see it as a threat.”

 

The boycott turned out to be the first strike of a sweeping campaign by the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, that has electrified the Middle East. Obsessed with remaking his hidebound country and curbing the regional ambitions of its nemesis, Iran, the young, hard-charging Saudi has imprisoned hundreds of rivals at a five-star hotel in Riyadh, strong-armed the prime minister of Lebanon in a failed stab at Iran and stepped up his devastating war in Yemen.

 

The Saudi prince has shaped the Trump administration’s approach to the Middle East and his endeavors could have far-reaching consequences, potentially driving up energy prices, upending Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and raising the chances of war with Iran. The Qatar dispute is perhaps the least understood piece of the action, but it has a particularly nasty edge. In September, at a normally soporific meeting of the Arab League in Cairo, Saudi and Qatari diplomats exchanged barbed epithets like “rabid dog” and heated accusations of treachery and even cruelty to camels. “When I speak, you shut up!” yelled Qatar’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Sultan bin Saad al-Muraikhi. “No, you are the one who should shut up!” his Saudi counterpart shouted back.

 

The highly personalized rancor has the unmistakable air of a family feud. Qataris, Saudis and Emiratis stem from the same nomadic tribes, share the same religion and eat the same food. So their dispute has shades of quarreling cousins, albeit ones armed with billions of dollars and American warplanes. The crisis took an alarming turn last week when the Emirates accused Qatar’s warplanes of harassing two Emirati passenger airliners as they crossed the Gulf. Untrue, said Qatar, which fired back with its own accusation that Emirati warplanes had already breached its airspace twice.

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

 

Contents

On Topic Links

 

Arbor Day (Tu Bishvat) Guide for the Perplexed, 2018: Yoram Ettinger, Ettinger Report, Jan. 29, 2018— 1. Judaism stipulates four New Years, one of them is the New Year for the trees, Arbor Day, (Tu Bishvat in Hebrew), the 15th day of the month of Shvat (January 31, 2018). The zodiac of Shvat is Aquarius – the water carrier (bucket in Hebrew). Tu Bishvat highlights the rejuvenation and blooming of trees and the Jewish people. According to Rashi, the leading Jewish Biblical commentator, this date was determined because most of the winter rains are over by Tu Bishvat, sap starts to rise and fruit begins to ripen.  Israel’s Legislature, the Knesset, was established on Tu Bishvat, 1949.

Yemen Separatists Capture Aden, Government Confined to Palace: Residents: New York Times, Jan. 30, 2018—Southern Yemeni separatists took control of the port city of Aden after two days of fighting, residents said on Tuesday, confining the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to the presidential palace.

A Changed Saudi Arabia (Video): Amb. Dore Gold, JCPA, Jan. 3, 2018—I get asked all the time, “You wrote a book, we seem to remember, about Saudi Arabia’s contribution to the rise of global terrorism after 9/11. Yet you are now associated with the effort of the State of Israel and others to bring Saudi Arabia into the tent and to create a kind of new relationship – perhaps a reconciliation – between the Jewish state and the Saudi Kingdom. How do you explain that? Isn’t that an inconsistency.”

Like Israelis, Saudis Pin Their Hopes on Iranian Protestors: Ben Lynfield, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 3, 2018—Tehran on Tuesday ratcheted up its accusations against Saudi Arabia for allegedly stoking the unrest in Iran and vowed there would be strong punishment against Riyadh. Meanwhile, Saudi media praised the protesters and voiced hope the unrest would force Iran to scale down its regional involvements in Lebanon, Yemen and Syria, which the Saudis view as a grave threat.

 

                                                              

 

 

TRUMP AFFRONTE L’UNRWA

  

    

 

 

 

DISCOURS INTÉGRAL DU VICE-PRÉSIDENT

MIKE PENCE À LA KNESSET (EN FRANÇAIS)

Shraga Blum      

LPH Info, 22 jan., 2017

 

 

Le vice-président Mike Pence a prononcé un discours d’une rare chaleur envers l’Etat d’Israël. Les mots qu’il a prononcés, empreints de sionisme et de références bibliques ont provoqué plusieurs « standing ovations » et sont de nature à faire pâlir bien des députés israéliens et des journalistes ou « experts » qui n’ont cessé de minimiser l’importance de cette visite voire de montrer du dédain pour sa propre personne depuis quelques jours.

 

« Monsieur le président de l’Etat,…………..chers citoyens d’Israël…[A ce moment, les députés de la Liste arabe unifiée se mettent à invectiver et à brandir des affiches portant notamment l’inscription « Jérusalem, capitale de la Palestine ». Ils sont très rapidement expulsés par le service d’ordre. Le président de la Knesset Yuli Edelstein précise qu’ils seront interdits de retour dans l’hémicycle jusqu’à la fin de la cérémonie et il présente ses excuses au nom de la Knesset au vice-président américain. Tout le long de l’incident l’immense majorité des députés continuent à applaudir chaleureusement Mike Pence.]

 

…Je suis extrêmement ému de me trouver au milieu de cette vibrante démocratie! (applaudissements). J’ai l’immense honneur de pouvoir m’exprimer aujourd’hui devant la Knesset, le premier vice-président américain qui a le mérite de le faire, ici, à Jérusalem, la capitale de l’Etat d’Israël (applaudissements). Je suis là comme émissaire qui vous amène les bénédiction d’un  leader qui a fait plus que tout autre président auparavant pour rapprocher nos deux peuples, plus que tout autre président auparavant, depuis 70 ans: le 45e président des Etats-Unis, Donald Trump (applaudissements). Grâce à lui, l’alliance entre nos deux pays n’a jamais été aussi solide, et l’amitié aussi profonde. Je suis ici pour transmettre un message simple, venu du coeur du peuple américain: l’Amérique est aux côtés d’Israël  (applaudissements)! Nous sommes avec Israël parce que votre cause est la nôtre, vos valeurs sont les nôtres et votre combat est le nôtre. Nous sommes avec Israël parce que nous croyons au vrai et non au faux, et à la victoire du Bien sur le Mal. Nous sommes à vos côtés parce que c’est ce qu’ont toujours fait les Etats-Unis depuis leurs premiers jours.

 

Lors de sa visite historique à Jérusalem, le président Trump avait déclaré, je le cite: ‘Notre Histoire est commune à celle d’Israël’. Les Américains ont toujours éprouvé de l’affection et de l’admiration pour le Peuple du Livre. Dans l’Histoire des Juifs nous avons toujours vu celle des Etats-Unis. Un récit d’exode, d’un voyage de l’oppression vers la liberté, une histoire qui montre la puissance de la foi et la force de l’espoir. Les pères fondateurs de mon pays se voyaient comme des pionniers, des pèlerins venus construire la nouvelle Terre promise. Les chants et les récits des Juifs étaient leurs hymnes, et ils les ont transmis à leurs enfants, et ce jusqu’à ce jour. Les fondateurs se sont tournés vers la Bible hébraïque pour trouver l’inspiration et la direction à suivre. Le premier président des Etats-Unis,George Washington, a écrit de beaux passages sur les enfants d’Abraham. Le deuxième président, John Adams, a écrit que les Juifs ont contribué à la civilisation plus que toute autre nation. Et c’est votre Histoire qui a donné l’inspiration au 16e président (Abraham Lincoln) pour créer ‘la renaissance de la Liberté’. Et c’est ainsi que notre nation a très tôt soutenu le droit des Juifs à revenir au pays de leurs ancêtres (applaudissements)…et de revendiquer cette nouvelle liberté dans cette patrie qui leur est si chère. Les Juifs se sont basés sur une promesse qui leur a été donnée il y a tant d’années, et même lorsqu’ils furent exilés dans des pays lointains, ils savaient que D.ieu les ramènerait dans le pays de leurs ancêtres.

 

Après un exil de deux mille ans, le plus long que n’ait jamais connu un peuple, après les expulsions, les inquisitions et les pogroms, le peuple juif n’a jamais abandonné cette promesse, et il s’y est raccroché durant les nuits les plus sombres. Elie Wiesel a un jour déclaré qu’il a eu la vie sauve sept fois, dans cette nuit qui a transformé les visages des enfants en fumée, sous des cieux silencieux, une nuit qui a également consumé la foi de tant de personnes. Demain, lorsque je serai à Yad Vashem avec mon épouse, pour commémorer les six millions de héros, nous serons encore plus impressionnés par la foi et la résilience de votre peuple. Un peuple qui trois ans à peine après avoir été jeté dans la fournaise, s’est relevé de la poussière, a ressuscité et a exigé de pouvoir à nouveau construire un avenir dans la renaissance d’un Etat juif (applaudissements).

 

Au mois d’avril, nous célébrerons le jour où le peuple juif a répondu à la question: ‘Est-on capable de reconstruire un pays en un jour? Une nation peut-elle naître en un seul instant?’, Il s’agit du 70e anniversaire de la naissance de l’Etat d’Israël  (applaudissements). Alors que vous vous préparez à célébrer cette journée historique, je suis aux côtés du peuple juif ici et dans le monde et je dis: ‘Sheh’eyanou, vekiyemanou, vehigiyanou lazeman hazeh » (standing ovation).

 

Il y a soixante-dix ans, les Etats-Unis furent fiers d’être le premier pays à reconnaître l’Etat d’Israël. Mais comme vous le savez, le travail que nous avons entamé ce jour-là n’est pas encore terminé, car si toutes les administrations successives ont reconnu votre nation, elles ont toute refusé de reconnaître votre capitale Jérusalem. Et c’est seulement le mois dernier que le président Donald Trump a fait l’Histoire et a réparé cette injustice vieille de soixante-dix ans. Il a honoré la promesse qu’il avait faite au peuple américain  de reconnaître Jérusalem comme capitale d’Israël (applaudissements). Le lien du peuple juif avec cette terre sacrée, cette ville sacrée, est vieux de plus de 3.000 ans. C’est là qu’Abraham reçut l’ordre de sacrifier son fils Isaac, sur le mont Moriah, c’est à Jérusalem que le roi David établit sa capitale et créa son royaume, et depuis sa renaissance le peuple juif a décrété Jérusalem comme sa capitale et y a installé le siège de son gouvernement.

 

Jérusalem est la capitale de l’Etat d’Israël, et c’est à ce titre que le président Donald Trump a ordonné au Département d’Etat d’entamer sans délai le processus de transfert de l’ambassade des Etats-Unis de Tel-Aviv à Jérusalem (standing ovation).  Notre administration va faire avancer ce projet dans les semaines qui viennent, et l’ambassade ouvrira ses portes avant la fin de l’année prochaine (standing ovation). Notre président a pris cette décision car selon ses termes elle est aussi dans l’intérêt des Etats-Unis. Mais il a aussi déclaré que nous pensons que cette décision est aussi dans l’intérêt de la paix. En reconnaissant Jérusalem comme capitale d’Israël, les Etats-Unis ont fait le choix de la réalité sur la fiction, et la réalité et la seule base valable pour une paix juste et durable. Sous la direction du président Trump, les Etats-Unis s’engagent à favoriser une paix durable entre Israël et le Palestiniens (applaudissements). Lors de sa déclaration sur Jérusalem, le président Trump a également lancé un appel aux deux parties à maintenir le statu quo sur les lieux saints de Jérusalem, y compris sur le Mont du Temple, également appelé Haram a-Sharif. Il a aussi précisé que les Etats-Unis ne prennent  position sur aucune des questions en cours, y compris les futures frontières de Jérusalem ou d’Israël. Le président Trump a également fait savoir, que si les deux parties en conviennent, les Etats-Unis soutiendront une solution à deux Etats  (applaudissements frénétiques sur les bancs de la gauche qui n’a apparemment pas entendu l’expression ‘si le deux parties en conviennent).

 

Nous savons que les Israéliens veulent la paix et qu’ils n’ont pas besoin de cours sur ce qu’est le prix de la guerre. La population israélienne ne sait que trop ce que coûte la guerre. Votre Premier ministre connaît également ce prix lourd. Lui-même a failli mourir au combat et son frère Yoni a été tué lorsqu’il tentait courageusement de libérer les otages à Entebbe il y a quarante et un ans. Vous connaissez le prix de la guerre. Vous savez aussi tout ce que la paix pourrait vous apporter, à vous et aux générations à venir. Les Etats-Unis apprécient la volonté affichée du gouvernement israélien de vouloir reprendre les négociations directes avec l’Autorité Palestinienne. Et aujourd’hui, nous exhortons les dirigeants palestiniens à revenir à la table de négociations. La paix ne peut surgir que du dialogue (applaudissements).

 

Je sais que la paix exige de compromis mais vous pouvez être assurés que les Etats-Unis ne feront jamais de compromis sur la sécurité d’Israël (applaudissements). Tout accord de paix devra garantir à Israël la possibilité de se défendre par lui-même. Il y en a qui croient que le monde ne peut pas changer et que son destin et la violence perpétuelle, qu’il est impossible de règler des conflits historiques, que l’espoir est une illusion. Mais, chers amis, ni le président Trump ne croit cela, ni moi, ni vous-mêmes. Je suis ici dans une ville dont le nom signifie ‘paix’. La paix est possible car l’Histoire a montré qu’Israël a déjà pris des décisions très douloureuses pour faire la paix avec des pays voisins, il y a longtemps mais aussi ces derniers jours (Jordanie). Avant de venir ici j’ai été en Egypte et en Jordanie, deux pays avec lesquels Israël jouit d’une paix durable. Je me suis entretenu avec deux amis des Etats-Unis, le président A-Sissi et le roi Abdallah II. Deux pays dont les dirigeants de l’époque ont eu le courage de signer la paix avec Israël. Ces deux dirigeants prouvent chaque jour que la confiance mutuelle peut devenir réalité. Dans mes entretiens avec eux et avec vous, Monsieur le Premier ministre, nous avons évoqué la formidable transformation que connaît actuellement le Moyen-Orient. Nous devons trouver de nouvelles formes de coopération. Ces changements sont visibles à l’oeil nu. D’anciens ennemis deviennent de partenaires et trouvent des dénominateurs communs pour travailler ensemble. Les fils d’Isaac et Ismaël se retrouvent face à un objectif commun. L’an passé, le président Trump était en Arabie saoudite et s’est tenu devant les dirigeants de plus de cinquante Etats musulmans de l’Organisation de la Coopération Islamique. Il les a exhortés à se rapprocher et à travailler ensemble, à déceler les opportunités et à affronter ensemble les défis communs. Il a demandé à tous ceux qui voient dans le Moyen-Orient leur maison à agir ensemble, à lutter contre l’extrémisme et vaincre ensemble le terrorisme (applaudissements). Le terrorisme islamique ne connaît pas de frontières. Il s’est fixé comme objectif de lutter contre les Etats-Unis, contre Israël et d’autres nations du monde. Le terrorisme n’a pas de foi. Il s’attaque aux juifs, aux chrétiens et surtout aux musulmans. Le terrorisme radical ne connaît rien d’autre que la force. Ensemble avec nos alliés, nous continuerons à le combattre jusqu’à ce qu’il disparaisse de la planète  (applaudissements).

 

J’ai le plaisir de confirmer que grâce au courage de nos soldats et ceux de nos alliés Daech est en débandade, leur capitale est tombée, leur ‘califat’ s’est effondré, mais soyez assurés, nous ne cesserons pas tant que cette organisation ne sera pas décimée à la racine et ne pourra plus nous menacer, menacer nos alliés, menacer notre style de vie (applaudissements).

 

Israël et les Etats-Unis sont depuis longtemps côte à côte pour lutter contre le terrorisme, et nous continuerons ainsi. Au Proche-Orient, certains dirigeants arabes ont répondu à notre appel pour combattre le terrorisme et ses promesses apocalyptiques avec nous et, et comme l’a réaffirmé le président Trump en Arabie saoudite, nous continuerons à soutenir nos alliés contre leurs ennemis jusqu’à ce que nous les chassions de la région. Nous soutiendrons également les leaders religieux qui enseignent l’amour et non la haine. Nous soutiendrons aussi les populations qui ont trop souffert sous la coupe de Daech. Pour la première fois, les Etats-Unis vont soutenir financièrement les minorités chrétiennes persécutées aux Moyen-Orient ainsi que d’autres minorités religieuses qui désirent se reconstituer après la vague de persécutions et de terreur imposée par l’Etat Islamique (applaudissements). Nous verserons 110 millions de dollars aux minorités chrétiennes ou autres qui vivent au Moyen-Orient, et nous appelons Israël et tous nos alliés à travers le monde à nous soutenir dans cette cause. Aidez-nous à reconstruire une mosaïque religieuse harmonieuse dans cette région afin que chaque religion puisse prospérer dans le pays où elle vit (applaudissements).

 

Tout comme nous allons vaincre le terrorisme et aider les populations qui en ont souffert, nous serons vigilants et déterminés face à d’anciens ennemis qui se réveillent. Ainsi, les Etats-Unis continueront à travailler avec Israël et d’autres pays à travers le monde pour faire face au pays qui est aujourd’hui le principal sponsor du terrorisme, la république d’Iran (applaudissements). Le monde a une nouvelle fois assisté à la brutalité du régime iranien, une dictature qui entend contrôler sa population en lui déniant ses droits élémentaires. L’Histoire a montré que les régimes qui oppriment leur population ne s’arrêtent pas là et poursuivent leur hégémonie. L’Iran vise à dominer le monde arabe. Ce dangereux régime sème le chaos dans la région. L’an dernier, alors que la population réclamait les denrées de base, l’Iran a dépensé 4 milliards de dollars en Syrie, au Liban et dans d’autres pays. Le régime iranien soutient et finance des organisations terroristes aux portes d’Israël. L’Iran a décidé d’un nouveau programme nucléaire et développe un nouveau programme de missiles balistiques. Il y a deux ans et demi, l’Administration américaine précédente a signé un accord avec l’Iran qui ne fait que repousser le jour où l’Iran pourra se doter de l’arme nucléaire. Cet accord est un désastre et les Etats-Unis ne renouvelleront plus leur soutien à cet accord irresponsable (standing ovation).

 

Sur instruction du président Trump, nous travaillons actuellement sur une modification de l’accord visant à imposer des restrictions à long terme sur le programme nucléaire iranien et à bloquer la poursuite du programme balistique. Ce mois-ci, le président Trump a une nouvelle fois reconduit la levée des sanctions contre l’Iran, afin de permettre au Congrès et à nos alliés de prendre des mesures plus fortes. Mais il a été clair: si l’accord avec l’Iran n’est pas modifié avant le prochain délai, les Etats-Unis quitteront cet accord avec effet immédiat (applaudissements). Quoi qu’il arrive dans ces négociations, j’ai une promesse solennelle à faire à Israël et au monde entier: jamais, ô grand jamais, les Etats-Unis ne laisseront l’Iran fabriquer la bombe atomique (standing ovation).

 

Au-delà de l’accord nucléaire, nous ne permettrons pas non plus à l’Iran de continuer à semer le terrorisme ou à opprimer sa propre population. L’an passé, notre administration a triplé les sanctions envers l’Iran, et ce mois-ci, nous avons rajouté des sanctions sévères contre ce régime et certaines personnalités iraniennes. J’ai un autre message à délivrer. Un message plus agréable. Celui du peuple américain au grand et fier peuple iranien. Nous sommes vos amis. Le jour approche où vous serez délivrés de ce régime cruel. Libérés ce régime suffocant qui a étouffe vos rêves et enterre vos espoirs (applaudissements). Et lorsque ce jour viendra, je vous le dis, cher peuple iranien, l’amitié entre nos deux peuples redeviendra ce qu’elle fut un jour (applaudissements).

 

Même s’il est parfois difficile de le voir, ceux qui vivent au Moyen-Orient ont plus de choses en commun que de choses qui les divisent. Pas seulement dans les menaces qu’ils partagent mais aussi l’espoir d’un avenir de sécurité, de prospérité et de paix. Mais aussi dans une fois commune. Il y a 4.000 ans, un homme abandonnait sa maison en Chaldée pour venir ici, en Israël. Il ne régnait pas sur un empire, il ne portait pas de couronne. Il ne commandait aucune armée, ne faisait pas de miracles et ne prédisait pas l’avenir. Mais D.ieu lui a promis que sa descendance serait aussi nombreuse que les étoiles dans le ciel. Aujourd’hui, les juifs, les chrétiens et les musulmans représentent plus de la moitié de la population du globe et la quasi totalité de la population du Moyen-Orient vénère Abraham. C’est le père de leur religion. A quelques pas d’ici, en Vieille ville, nous pouvons voir les fidèles de ces trois religions en contact quotidien. Chacune des religions s’éveille de manière différente. Au Saint Sépulcre nous voyons un enfant chrétien se faire baptiser, au Mur occidental, nous voyons un  enfant juif qui célèbre sa bar-mitsva et au Haram al-Sharif nous voyons des jeunes musulmans en prières.

 

A Jérusalem nous voyons tout cela et plus encore, et moi, qui suis là, sur la terre promise à Abraham, je suis convaincu que tous ceux qui aspirent à la paix et à un avenir meilleur, devraient poser leurs yeux ici, et observer ce lieu avec émerveillement pour tout ce qui a été fait. La création de l’Etat d’Israël était loin d’être évidente. Combien extraordinaire fut cette survivance. Et combien est admirable le développement de ce pays. Vous avez transformé un désert en jardin, et des maladies en guérison. Israël est comme un arbre aux racines profondes plantées dans la terre de ses ancêtres et dont la cime arrive jusqu’au ciel. Jour après jour, l’Etat juif et le peuple juif autour du monde sont les témoins de la foi en D.ieu. La foi des juifs a réussi à rassembler les débris de leur peuple et à les réunir à nouveau. Une foi qui a réussi à reconstruire les ruines de Jérusalem et à solidifier à nouveau ses remparts.

 

Le miracle d’Israël est source d’inspiration pour le monde entier, et les Etats-Unis sont fiers de se tenir aux côtés d’Israël et d’être son ami et son allié (applaudissements).

 

Nous allons prier pour la paix de Jérusalem, et pour ceux qui vivent dans ses murs soient en sécurité. Nous prierons pour un meilleur avenir pour tous ceux qui aiment ce pays, chacun sous sa vigne, chacun sous son figuier, avec un lien indéfectible à ce lieu et une promesse de liberté.

 

Du plus profond de mon coeur, je vous dis: ‘Que D.ieu bénisse le peuple juif, que D.ieu bénisse l’Etat d’Israël, et tous ceux qui voient dans cet Etat leur maison, et que D.ieu bénisse les Etats-Unis d’Amérique (longue standing ovation).

 

 

 

 

C’EST OFFICIEL : TRUMP RÉDUIT DE 50% L’AIDE À L’UNRWA

Katty Scott

Le Monde Juif, 16 jan. 2018

 

 

 

L’administration Trump a informé mardi l’Office de secours et de travaux des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés de Palestine dans le Proche-Orient (UNRWA) de son intention de réduire de moitié l’aide aux Palestiniens.

 

Le président américain a tenu compte des conseils du secrétaire d’État Rex Tillerson, du secrétaire à la Défense James Mattis et du conseiller à la sécurité nationale HR McMaster – en plus de celui du gouvernement israélien – et a accepté de fournir 60 millions de dollars d’aide américaine à l’UNRWA. Mais l’engagement restant – 65 millions de dollars – a été repoussé “pour examen futur”, selon une lettre envoyée à l’agence.

 

Informant l’UNRWA de sa décision, l’administration Trump a appelé l’agence onusienne à un “réexamen fondamental”. Le Secrétaire général de l’ONU, Antonio Guterres, a exprimé son inquiétude face aux conséquences d’un tel changement. “Je suis très inquiet”, a t-il déclaré aux journalistes mardi.

 

 

 

 

QUI SONT LES RÉFUGIÉS PALESTINIENS ?

Daniel Pipes

Times of Israel, 21 jan., 2018

 

 

 

our reprendre les termes d’une personne expérimentée de Washington, le problème de l’Office de secours et de travaux des Nations unies (UNRWA), principale agence de l’ONU chargée des Palestiniens, est toujours important mais jamais urgent.

 

Eh bien, ça commence à devenir urgent et ce, pour plusieurs raisons. Tout d’abord, le président Trump a tweeté : « si les Palestiniens ne veulent plus parler de paix, pourquoi devrions-nous leur verser à l’avenir des sommes importantes ? » Ensuite, l’ambassadrice américaine à l’ONU Nikki Haley a ajouté que le gouvernement américain est prêt à interrompre l’aide financière accordée à l’UNRWA. Enfin, Axios a rapporté que le versement américain de 125 millions de dollars n’avait pas été effectué (même si cela a été démenti par la suite).

 

Avec 370 millions de dollars versés en 2016, le contribuable américain est le premier donateur de l’UNRWA. On ne pourrait être plus satisfait de voir le budget fédéral préservé d’une telle dépense quand on sait le nombre d’abus que l’UNRWA a coutume de commettre : incitation à la haine contre Israël, soutien aux agressions violentes contre des juifs, corruption et perpétuation (plutôt que solution) du problème des réfugiés.

 

Il n’est donc pas surprenant que le Congrès américain ait à plusieurs reprises tenté de mettre fin à ces financements. Mais comme l’a montré Steven J. Rosen concernant dix de ces initiatives entre 1999 et 2014, chacune d’elles s’est soldée par un échec en raison de l’opposition du gouvernement israélien.

 

Pour quelle raison, demanderez-vous ? Eh bien oui, contrairement à ce que l’on pourrait penser, c’est le gouvernement israélien qui veut voir les financements américains se poursuivre en faveur de l’UNRWA, car il craint que l’arrêt de cette aide provoque une nouvelle intifada, l’implosion de l’Autorité palestinienne ou encore une nouvelle guerre avec le Hamas. En outre, Jérusalem considère l’UNRWA comme un moindre mal comparé aux autres bénéficiaires des aides comme l’Autorité palestinienne.

 

La volonté présidentielle d’arrêter les financements va-t-elle changer la donne ? C’est peu probable car, comme le montre un reportage réalisé en Israël, si le Premier ministre Benyamin Netanyahou soutient la décision américaine publiquement, il cherche en coulisses à bloquer ou à ralentir ce mouvement, et ce pour les motifs habituels. S’il en est ainsi, il est difficile d’imaginer que le président et les membres du Congrès ignorent ses intentions, chose qui ne s’est jamais produite jusqu’à présent.

 

Même si l’aide financière américaine à l’UNRWA venait à s’arrêter, de nombreux gouvernements – et même d’individus – pourraient financer les 370 millions de dollars d’autant plus facilement qu’ils y trouveraient leur intérêt. Ainsi, le Qatar pourrait consolider son rôle de protecteur des Palestiniens, Pékin pourrait endosser un rôle clé sur la scène politique arabe et Moscou pourrait compenser en partie le tort causé par son soutien à Téhéran.

 

Quant à Carlos Slim, dont Forbes estime la fortune à 67,9 milliards de dollars, il pourrait décider de mettre ses origines arabes en valeur. Pire, si l’un d’eux venait à compenser l’absence d’aide américaine, l’administration Trump apparaîtrait comme inefficace et isolée.

 

Et même si personne ne remplaçait les fonds d’aide américains, l’absence de financement de l’UNRWA ne résoudrait pas le fond du problème. Ce dernier ne consiste pas dans le financement d’activités mais bien dans la perpétuation et l’expansion de la population de « réfugiés palestiniens » de trois façons aussi uniques que curieuses : permettre que ce statut soit transmis sans limite dans le temps de génération en génération ; maintenir ce statut même après l’acquisition d’une nationalité par les réfugiés (comme en Jordanie) ; assigner ce statut à des habitants de Cisjordanie et de Gaza qui vivent pourtant sur le présumé territoire palestinien.

 

Ces astuces ont permis à l’UNRWA de gonfler artificiellement le nombre de réfugiés en le faisant passer de 600.000 en 1949 à 5,3 millions actuellement. Si on fait un compte précis des véritables réfugiés toujours en vie, leur nombre s’élève actuellement à environ 20.000.

 

C’est pourquoi tout en soutenant avec enthousiasme les objectifs politiques de Trump, je suggère que la rétention des fonds n’est pas la bonne stratégie. Il serait préférable de se concentrer sur le statut de « réfugié palestinien ». Le fait de refuser ce statut à toute personne ne répondant pas à la définition classique d’un réfugié selon le gouvernement américain (à savoir être âgé d’au moins 69 ans, être apatride et vivre hors de Cisjordanie et de Gaza), diminuerait la pression irrédentiste qui pèse sur Israël de plus de 99%.

 

Cela remettrait également en cause le statut de « réfugié palestinien », permettrait à des millions de Palestiniens de vivre plus sainement, désamorcerait l’antisionisme arabe et aiderait à résoudre le conflit israélo-arabe.

 

Par conséquent, je propose que le président adapte la politique américaine pour travailler avec Jérusalem et continue à envoyer de l’aide aux Palestiniens tout en la subordonnant à la reconnaissance formelle par l’écrasante majorité des bénéficiaires du fait qu’ils ne sont pas et n’ont jamais été des réfugiés.

 

Le Middle East Forum qui travaille sur cette question depuis 2010 a proposé une loi assurant une telle mutation. À la fois simple et faisable, cette solution produirait rien moins que l’harmonisation des relations entre Washington et l’UNRWA avec la loi et la politique des États-Unis. Il est temps.

 

 

Actualité 

 

 

 

SYRIE: DIX MORTS DANS L'OPÉRATION MILITAIRE TURQUE

CONTRE LES FORCES KURDES EN SYRIE

20 minutes, 20 jan., 2018

 

 

L’armée turque a lancé ce samedi une offensive terrestre et aérienne dans la région d’Afrine, dans le nord de la Syrie, contre une milice kurde considérée par Ankara comme une organisation terroriste. Les bombardements qui l'accompagnaient ont tué dix personnes, pour la plupart des civils. «Sept civils ont été tués, dont un enfant, ainsi que deux femmes combattantes et un combattant», a déclaré Birusk Hasakeh, porte-parole des Unités de protection du peuple (YPG) à Afrine.

 

« L’opération Afrine a commencé de facto sur le terrain », avait indiqué un peu plus tôt dans al journée le président turc Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Baptisée « Rameau d’olivier », l’opération, qui vise les Unités de protection du peuple (YPG), a débuté à 14h GMT (15h à Paris). L’armée turque a précisé que l’opération était menée « en respectant l’intégrité territoriale de la Syrie » et était fondée sur les droits de la Turquie en vertu du droit international.

 

 

Ankara accuse les YPG d’être la branche syrienne du Parti des travailleurs du Kurdistan (PKK), qui mène une rébellion dans le sud-est de la Turquie depuis plus de trente ans et est considéré par Ankara et ses alliés occidentaux comme une organisation terroriste. « Etape par étape, nous débarrasserons notre pays jusqu’à la frontière irakienne de cette croûte de terreur qui essaye de nous assiéger », a promis dans un discours télévisé Recep Tayyip Erdogan. « Ensuite, ce sera Minbej » [autre ville syrienne sous contrôle kurde] », a précisé le président Erdogan qui a qualifié d'« armée de la terreur » le projet de force de 30.000 hommes, provenant en partie des YPG, sous l’égide des Etats-Unis pour protéger la frontière nord de la Syrie.

Coup de fil entre Américains et Russes

 

« Moscou est préoccupée par ces informations », a réagi le ministère russe des Affaires étrangères dans un communiqué après l’annonce turque. « Nous appelons les parties opposées à faire preuve de retenue », a-t-il souligné. Le chef de la diplomatie russe Sergueï Lavrov s’est quant à lui entretenu par téléphone avec son homologue américain Rex Tillerson, a indiqué son ministère sur sa page officielle sur Facebook.

 

Les deux hommes ont « discuté la situation en Syrie, y compris les questions concernant les mesures visant à assurer la stabilité dans le nord du pays », et ont également évoqué les questions concernant « le processus du règlement pacifique sous l’égide de l’ONU » du conflit en Syrie, notamment dans le contexte du Congrès du dialogue national syrien qui doit avoir lieu fin janvier dans la station balnéaire russe de Sotchi, selon la même source.

 

Cette conversation a eu lieu « à l’initiative américaine », a-t-on ajouté. La perspective d’une offensive turque de grande envergure en Syrie préoccupe Washington, sachant que les YPG ont été un allié incontournable des Etats-Unis, partenaires de la Turquie au sein de l’Otan, dans la guerre contre Daesh. Elles ont joué un rôle majeur dans l’éviction des djihadistes de tous leurs principaux fiefs de Syrie, et la coalition dirigée par les Etats-Unis en Syrie dépend encore lourdement d'elles pour stabiliser la région.

 

 

Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

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ARAB NATIONS, DESPITE ONGOING CIVIL WAR, TERRORISM, & POLITICAL INSTABILITY, CONTINUE CURSING ISRAEL & U.S.

Trump in the Middle East: Note Who Curses America, and Who Blesses It: Yoram Hazony, National Review, Jan. 23, 2018— President Donald Trump has promised that in the Middle East under his presidency, “there are many things that can happen now that would never have happened before.”

Why Arabs and Muslims Will Not Accept Israel as the Jewish State: Mordechai Kedar, Algemeiner, Jan. 19, 2018— Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital aroused massive outrage in the Arab and Islamic world.

Iranian Protests Reveal Leadership Fault Lines in the Muslim World: Dr. James M. Dorsey, BESA, Jan. 16, 2018— The responses by major Sunni Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa to the recent anti-government protests in Iran demonstrated that none of the contenders for regional dominance and leadership, which include Turkey and Egypt, were willing to follow the Saudi lead.

Quest for Arab Democracy: David Pryce-Jones, National Review, Dec. 31, 2017— One day in December 2010, a policewoman in a small and rather humdrum town in Tunisia slapped the face of Mohamed Bouazizi.

 

On Topic Links

 

US Allies Should Back President Trump: Prof. Hillel Frisch, BESA, Jan. 28, 2018

Trump’s Mideast Plan: Take it or Leave it: Alex Fishman, Ynet, Jan. 24, 2018

Arab Regimes Terrified by Israel's Freedoms: Giulio Meotti, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 16, 2018

‘The Middle East and World War III – Why No Peace?’: Alan Baker, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 1, 2018

 

 

TRUMP IN THE MIDDLE EAST:

NOTE WHO CURSES AMERICA, AND WHO BLESSES IT

Yoram Hazony

National Review, Jan. 23, 2018

 

President Donald Trump has promised that in the Middle East under his presidency, “there are many things that can happen now that would never have happened before.” Two speeches of the last ten days offer dramatic confirmation of the emerging reconfiguration of America’s relationship with Israel and the Middle East under his leadership.

 

In a two-hour speech before the Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) last week, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, denounced the British, Dutch, French, and Americans for having conspired, ever since the 1650s, to create a Jewish colonial outpost that would “erase the Palestinians from Palestine.” As Abbas tells it, all this reached a climax on the eve of World War I, when the West realized that it was on the verge of collapse and that the Islamic world was “poised to inherit European civilization.” To put an end to this threat, the Western nations went about carving up the Muslim world so that it would be forever “divided, backward, and engulfed in infighting.” As for the United States, it has been “playing games” of this sort ever since then, importing, for example, the disastrous Arab Spring into Middle East.

 

Abbas summed up by demanding an apology and reparations from Britain for the Balfour Declaration and denying that the United States can serve as a mediator in the Mideast. Finally, he went to the trouble of cursing both President Trump and the U.S. Congress: Yehrab beitak (“May your house be razed”), he said. I have been following the speeches of the PLO and its supporters in the Arab world for 30 years. Nothing here is new. These are the same things that Yasser Arafat, Abbas, and the mainline PLO leadership have always believed. It is a worldview that reflects an abiding hatred for the West, blaming Christians and Jews not only for the founding of Israel but for every calamity that has befallen the Muslim and Arab world for centuries.

 

What should be one’s policy toward an organization committed to such an ideology? One option is to sympathize with the shame and outrage to which the PLO gives voice, and to try to mitigate it with grants of territory, authority, prestige, and large-scale ongoing funding. American administrations have pursued this option, seeking to make a peace partner out of the PLO, since President Ronald Reagan announced a dialogue with it in December 1988. Israel, too, has pursued this option, since 1993. But in the ensuing 30 years of talk, the only major agreements signed have been those the PLO leadership could find a way to fit into its narrative: Agreements such as the 1993 Oslo Accords, which could be portrayed as inflicting a bitter defeat on Israel and the West — and as a step on the road to ultimate triumph.

 

President Trump, Vice President Pence, and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley are pioneering an alternative policy, which can be summed up in Haley’s words: “We’re not going to pay to be abused.” If players like the PLO, North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran (hopefully, Turkey gets added to this list soon) want to cultivate a civilizational hatred of America, double-talking while they give aid to global terrorism and conjure diplomatic scandals at the U.N. — well, then they don’t get to be allies.

 

What this looks like was already on display when Trump became the first serving U.S. president to visit the kotel (the Western Wall) in Jerusalem in May, shredding the longstanding diplomatic taboo against making it look as though the holiest site in Judaism is in fact part of the State of Israel. Since then, Trump and Haley have taken on UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, which regularly disseminate the PLO’s view of history and current affairs. The Trump administration has cut in half America’s massive financial support of UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), an organization whose purpose is to maintain generations of unabsorbed descendants of Palestinian Arab refugees, inculcating them in Abbas-style grievances against Israel and the West.

 

Mike Pence’s address on Monday to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, continued this trajectory. But he also responded to Abbas’s history lesson with some tasteful but potent narrative-weaving of his own. In addition to the traditional script pointing to the shared interests of the United States and Israel as democracies, Pence emphasized that it was significant to him as an American that “our founders turned to the Hebrew Bible for direction” in establishing their country and that Israel’s story “inspired my forebears to create . . . a new birth of freedom.” He returned repeatedly to the way in which the story of the Jewish people holding fast to God’s promise to return them to their land “shows the power of faith.” Pence even said the traditional Jewish shehehianu blessing (in Hebrew!), thanking God for bringing us to see this day in which the Jewish people have been restored to their land…

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

                       

                                                                     

   Contents

WHY ARABS AND MUSLIMS WILL NOT

ACCEPT ISRAEL AS THE JEWISH STATE

Mordechai Kedar

Algemeiner, Jan. 19, 2018

 

Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital aroused massive outrage in the Arab and Islamic world. This was for two main reasons — one religious and one nationalist. The religious reason is rooted in Islam’s conception of itself as a faith whose mission is to bring both Judaism and Christianity to an end, and inherit all that was once Jewish or Christian: land, places of worship, and people. In Islam’s worldview, Palestine in its entirety belongs to Muslims alone, because both Jews and Christians betrayed Allah when they refused to become followers of the prophet Muhammad. Their punishment is … expulsion from their lands and the forfeiture of all rights to them.

 

Throughout the history of Islam, Muslims turned churches into mosques, including the Great Mosque of Ramle, the Bani Omaya Mosque in Damascus, the Hagia Sofia of Istanbul, and many Spanish churches. The reason is their belief that Christianity, like Judaism, is nullified by Islam, making churches unnecessary. According to Islamic tenets, the prophets revered by these obsolete religions are Muslims. These include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Aaron. And according to Islam, King Solomon built a mosque, not a Temple, in Jerusalem. (The 1,500-year gap between the king’s reign and the birth of Islam is irrelevant to true believers.)

 

Jews and Christians can be protected under Muslim rule by becoming subservient to Islam in what is known as dhimmi status, which means that they are legally deprived of many rights, including the right to own land and bear arms. Dhimmis are forced to pay a head tax (jyzia) and are to be kept in a downtrodden state, as is mandated by the Koran. In Islam’s view, Jews are not a nation but a collection of religious communities to be found in various countries: a Jew in Poland is a “Pole of the Mosaic religion” and a Jew in Morocco is a “Moroccan Arab of the Mosaic religion.”

 

Suddenly, towards the end of the 19th century, everything changed. Jews began coming to Palestine in ever-growing numbers. The Zionists “invented” a new nation — the “Jewish people” — and decided that a certain part of the House of Islam was their homeland, known as Eretz Israel. They built communities and a protective fighting force even though, as dhimmis, they were not supposed to be allowed to bear arms and were subjected to Islam’s protection. In 1948, the Jews actually declared a state, despite the fact that they did not deserve sovereignty. Then, in 1967, they “conquered” the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

 

Jews now attempt to pray on the Temple Mount, suggesting that Judaism has returned to being an active, living and even dynamic religion. This brings the very raison d’être of Islam into question. After all, Islam came into the world in order to make Judaism obsolete. Muslims loyal to their religion and aware of this danger cannot possibly accept the existence of a Jewish state, not even a tiny one on the Tel Aviv coast. To them, Israel as the state of the Jewish people is a theological threat to Islam and only secondarily, a national, political, judicial or territorial threat.

 

President Trump’s acknowledgement of Israel’s existence by recognizing Jerusalem as its capital was a double whammy for Islam: Trump, a Christian, had granted recognition to the Jews. The outraged Muslim world thought this must be a Christo-Judaic plot against Islam. Trump’s declaration reminded them (along with several Jews) of the November 1917 Balfour Declaration, about which the Arabs continue to rail at the world: “You made the promises of non-owners to those who did not have the right to be given those promises.”

 

In the weeks following Trump’s declaration, Muslims all over the world expressed their fury at the seal of approval granted the Jewish state — despite its very existence being opposed to that of Islam. Leaders and ordinary citizens, men and women, took to the streets to demonstrate their inability to live with the fact that the most prominent Christian head of state had recognized the capital chosen by the Jewish nation, and, by extension, its right to its own land.

 

The disturbances in Wadi Ara, in central Israel — rioters attempted to block the main road and damaged a public bus — were another manifestation of Muslim fury. The location is not surprising, because the Wadi Ara area includes the city of Umm al-Fahm, where the main concentration of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, headed by the infamous Raed Salah, is to be found. The Northern Branch has been declared illegal, along with some of the smaller organizations it has fostered, resulting in its members having no lawful way to express their fury at the existence of the state of Israel. With little alternative, they act in the public space as individuals without an organizational identity…

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

                                                                       

 

 

Contents

IRANIAN PROTESTS REVEAL LEADERSHIP

FAULT LINES IN THE MUSLIM WORLD

Dr. James M. Dorsey

BESA, Jan. 16, 2018

 

The responses by major Sunni Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa to the recent anti-government protests in Iran demonstrated that none of the contenders for regional dominance and leadership, which include Turkey and Egypt, were willing to follow the Saudi lead. In fact, the responses appeared to confirm that regional leadership was more likely to be shared among Turkey, Egypt, and Iran than decided in the debilitating power struggle between Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic, a struggle that has wreaked havoc across the region and which the Kingdom is losing.

 

Uncharacteristically, Saudi Arabia under the rule of King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, has refrained from commenting on the protests. The kingdom has also been silent in the walk-up to US President Donald J. Trump’s decision on what to do about American adherence to the 2015 international nuclear agreement with Iran.

 

While Saudi media, oblivious to the potential for dissent in the kingdom, gloated about the exploding discontent in Iran, Saudi leaders stayed quiet in a bid to avoid providing Iranian leaders with a pretext to blame external forces for the unrest. (That did not stop Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other Iranian leaders from laying the blame at the doors of Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the US).

 

Similarly, Saudi Arabia, whose regional prominence is to a significant extent dependent on American, if not international, containment of Iran, stayed on the sidelines as Trump deliberated undermining the agreement that for almost three years has severely restricted Iran’s nuclear program and halted the Islamic Republic’s ambition of becoming a nuclear power any time soon. While the Saudis would welcome any tightening of the screws on Iran, they have come to see the agreement as not only preventing Iran (at least for now) from developing a military nuclear capability but also as avoiding a regional nuclear arms race in which Turkey and Egypt as well as, potentially, the United Arab Emirates would take part.

 

The agreement gives the kingdom an opportunity to set up building blocks for a future military nuclear capability, if deemed necessary. Trump’s apparent willingness to ease restrictions on Saudi enrichment of uranium as part of his bid to ensure that US companies play a key role in the development of Saudi Arabia’s nuclear energy sector facilitates the Saudi strategy. In contrast to the Saudis, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was vocal in his support for the Iranian government and called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to express his solidarity. Egypt, like Saudi Arabia, has not commented on the protests but has studiously avoided being sucked into the Saudi-Iranian rivalry, including its multiple proxy battles in Yemen and elsewhere.

 

The various responses to the Iranian protests reveal more than simply differences of evaluation of those events. They show the fault lines of two, if not three, major alliances that are emerging among the contenders for regional leadership in the Middle East and North Africa and adjacent regions like the Horn of Africa. They also highlight Saudi Arabia’s inability to garner overwhelming support for its ambitions and/or efforts to achieve them. Those efforts include the kingdom’s declaration of an economic and diplomatic boycott of Qatar; its military intervention in Yemen; and its failed attempt to force the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

 

Turkey has effectively sought to counter Saudi moves not only by forging close ties to the Islamic Republic despite their differences over Syria, but also by supporting Qatar with a military base in the Gulf state. It has also kept up a supply of food and other goods into Qatar, the flow of which had been interrupted by the Saudi-led boycott. Turkey has established a military training facility in Somalia and is discussing creating a base in Djibouti, the Horn of Africa’s rent-a-military base country par excellence (it contains foreign military facilities operated by France, the US, Saudi Arabia, China, and Japan). Turkey also recently signed a $650 million agreement with Sudan to rebuild a decaying Ottoman port city and construct a naval dock to maintain civilian and military vessels on the African country’s Red Sea coast. Saudi Arabia sees the Turkish moves as an effort to encircle it.

 

Turkey, to the chagrin of Saudi Arabia and its closest regional ally, the UAE, as well as Egypt, has supported the Muslim Brotherhood as well as other strands of political Islam. Egypt recently launched an investigation into embarrassing leaks from alleged intelligence officers that were broadcast on the Brotherhood’s Istanbul-based Mekameleen TV station and published in The New York Times. Egypt has denied the accuracy of the leaks. If Saudi Arabia, backed by the UAE, Bahrain, and Israel (as an unacknowledged partner) constitutes one bloc, Turkey forms another that could include the region’s third pole, Iran. Egypt, conscious of its past as the Arab world’s undisputed leader, may not yet be able to carve out a distinct leadership role for itself, but it is working hard to keep the door open.

 

Underlying the jockeying for regional dominance is a stark reality. Turkey, Iran, and Egypt have, to varying degrees, crucial assets that Saudi Arabia lacks: large populations, huge domestic markets, battle-hardened militaries, resources, and a deep sense of identity rooted in an imperial past and/or a sense of thousands of years of history. Saudi Arabia has its status as custodian of Islam’s most holy cities and financial muscle. In the long run, those are unlikely to prove sufficient.

                                                                                   

 

Contents

QUEST FOR ARAB DEMOCRACY

David Pryce-Jones

National Review, Dec. 31, 2017

 

One day in December 2010, a policewoman in a small and rather humdrum town in Tunisia slapped the face of Mohamed Bouazizi. The dispute was over his permit to be selling fruit and vegetables off a barrow. The injustice that he encountered, and the humiliation, drove the poor man to take his life. Just as a butterfly fluttering its wings is supposed to cause a cascade of faraway atmospheric effects, this suicide set off a movement of protest and solidarity in one Arab country after another. The monarchies and republics in which Arabs live are, in reality, dictatorships, and the time had apparently arrived for them to reform and take their place in what was supposed to be an emerging worldwide democratic order.

 

What became known as the Arab Spring did not live up to these expectations; far from it. Since 2010, Arab countries have suffered civil war, coups, terrorism, invasion by foreign powers, genocide, the sale of women in slave markets, the ruin of historic cities and monuments, the death of civilians by the hundreds of thousands, and the flight of refugees in their millions. The rise of the Islamic State, self-described as a caliphate, redesigned the boundaries of Syria and Iraq, countries that may not be reconstituted for a very long time, if ever. Islamist volunteers in this misappropriated territory murdered, beheaded, crucified, or tortured to death, often in public, whomever they pleased. Libya, Yemen, and Lebanon are also states in varying stages of collapse. A whole civilization seems to be coming apart.

 

The proper human response to such calamity is that something ought to be done about it. Elliott Abrams takes it for granted in Realism and Democracy that the United States can and should come to the rescue. His career has given him authority to comment on matters of power politics. In the Reagan administration, he was assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs (1981–85) and assistant secretary for inter-American affairs (1985–89); he later served as President George W. Bush’s adviser for global democracy strategy (2005–09). His sympathies are very wide, his quotations from the academic literature are numerous and apt, and his prose is almost miraculously jargon-free.

 

His introductory chapter, almost a hundred pages long, is a kind of handbook to the mindsets of American policymakers concerning the Middle East in recent decades. The U.S. approach during the Cold War was perhaps an unfair great-power exercise but at least it kept the peace after its fashion. The most frequent cause of a clash during that era was some independent but rash manipulation on the part of one of the superpowers’ clients. The superpowers’ balancing of laissez-faire and a tight fist was usually enough to keep major clients such as Turkey and Iran, and even Arab-nationalist dictators, on the straight and narrow path of cooperation with them. Those times are over. In the absence of the external pressures of the Cold War, former clients are now in a position to pursue their own ambitions, forming alliances and enmities without regard for Western interests. Military intervention in Afghanistan, Libya, and elsewhere so far has only sustained or increased the level of instability. The sole alternative is to make a moralizing speech, but if the decision not to intervene militarily has already been taken, this is pointlessly sanctimonious.

 

Put simply, what Realism and Democracy is asking is whether the United States should deal with the present free-for-all in the role of policeman or of paramedic. Abrams takes his lead from President Reagan, once his boss, who was convinced that whatever Arabs might do or say, basically they want the same freedom as Americans, and they are able to acquire it, too. In this view, freedom is the function of democracy, and democracy in turn is the function of human rights. In the course of his career, Abrams also met and admired the like-minded senators Scoop Jackson and Daniel Moynihan and, last but not least, George W. Bush, the president who did his best to give freedom to Iraqis. Proud to be an unreconstructed Reaganite, Abrams further awards himself the title of neo-con…

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

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

US Allies Should Back President Trump: Prof. Hillel Frisch, BESA, Jan. 28, 2018—It is not the business of allies to meddle in the domestic affairs of the US, and certainly not to take a position in domestic controversies over the performance of its leaders and politicians. It is the role of the vibrant democratic process in the US to handle such matters.

Trump’s Mideast Plan: Take it or Leave it: Alex Fishman, Ynet, Jan. 24, 2018—Knowing Donald Trump, he won’t give anyone an early warning. He’ll just deliver a festive speech and present his “ultimate deal” for the Middle East. There won’t be long negotiations with the two parties, and he won’t convene a conference, like American presidents have done in the past. He’ll simply present everyone with a fact: This is the deal. Take it or leave it.

Arab Regimes Terrified by Israel's Freedoms: Giulio Meotti, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 16, 2018—Fifty years have passed since many Arab countries were humiliated by Israel in 1967 in a war the Arabs started, with the explicit goal of destroying the Jewish State and throwing the Jews into the Mediterranean Sea. Today, Israel has solid diplomatic relations with two of these countries — Jordan to Egypt — while Saudi officials speak with their Israeli security counterparts about the Iranian threat.

‘The Middle East and World War III – Why No Peace?’: Alan Baker, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 1, 2018—In what is a very ambitious and aspiring work, dramatically titled The Middle East and World War III – Why No Peace?, Dr. Michael Calvo, Sorbonne educated and a graduate of New York University, an expert in international law and comparative jurisprudence, takes on the complex, unique and evidently intractable Middle East conflict.

 

                                                              

 

 

INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY: HOLOCAUST MEMORY HASN’T FADED, BUT DANGEROUS REVISIONISM & UNIVERSALIZATION BECOMING MAINSTREAM

Why the Holocaust Does Not Fade Away: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, Jan. 26, 2018 — One may wonder why the memory of the Holocaust does not fade away with time as do most historical events.

The Inevitable Politicization of International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Matt Lebovic, Times of Israel, Jan. 26, 2018 — When President Donald Trump left Jews out of his remarks for International Holocaust Remembrance Day last year, he inadvertently gave the relatively new commemoration an unprecedented amount of publicity.

What Did you Hear when Mike Pence Spoke to the Knesset?: Jonathan S. Tobin, Jewish Press, Jan. 23, 2018— In Monday’s New York Times, columnist Max Fisher treated Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Israel as just another expression of what he considers the divisive policies of the Trump administration.

A Tale of Two Speeches: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Jan. 25, 2018— I've been privileged to attend the two great speeches of this decade in the Knesset plenum: that of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (exactly four years ago, January 20, 2014) and that of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (this week).

 

 

On Topic Links

 

New Israeli Exhibit Highlights Power of Photos in Holocaust: Aron Heller, National Post, Jan. 25, 2018

Is Ukraine’s Holocaust Memorial at Babi Yar in Trouble?: Izabella Tabarovsky, Tablet, Jan. 24, 2018

Accomplices to the Holocaust: Mordecai Paldiel, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 21, 2018

Dear Mr. Ambassador, Why is Canada Funding Anti-Semitism?: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, Jan. 18, 2018

 

 

 

WHY THE HOLOCAUST DOES NOT FADE AWAY

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld

Arutz Sheva, Jan. 26, 2018

 

One may wonder why the memory of the Holocaust does not fade away with time as do most historical events. Why are the Holocaust and several related World War II issues mentioned increasingly in the media? Why do these aspects seem to draw increased attention as time passes? Even though one cannot quantify the phenomenon, similarly the increase of Holocaust abuse seems evident. It is only when one starts researching this, that the frequency and diversity of the distortions become apparent.

 

When looking for reasons for the frequent mention of the Holocaust, a number of disparate possible causes emerge. One is a trend toward increasing chaos in the world. In such a reality many look for extreme points of reference, while others distort them. A second reason is the increased removal of barriers of what is acceptable in the public domain or in certain environments. A further source of increased Holocaust distortion is the largely unregulated social media arena.

 

The exposure of antisemitism has greatly increased in recent years, together with the growth in incidents expressing hatred toward Jews. Holocaust abuse and distortions to some extent overlap with antisemitism. The promotion of a new Holocaust is not a distortion category in the strictest sense of the word, even though the two are related. This promotion of a second Holocaust has many gradations. Some are explicit. In the 1960's George Lincoln Rockwell was head of the American Nazi Party. He said that, "If he came to power he would execute Jews who were traitors.  He furthermore stated that 90% of American Jews were traitors."

 

Nowadays explicit institutional threats of genocide against Jews mainly come out of parts of the Muslim world. Iran and Hamas are two of the major perpetrators. Others are usually of an indirect and far more limited nature. Neo-Nazi movements can be direct or indirect promoters of a new Holocaust. Much international publicity was given to a march of neo-Nazis and white supremacists in the town of Charlottesville, Virginia on 12 August, 2017. Arms were outstretched in Hitler salutes. Some had tattoos of swastikas. There were also chants of the Nazi slogan "blood and soil." All this is documented in photos and video footage. The demonstration quickly turned violent, as white supremacists intimidated and attacked counter-protesters. A car, driven by a white supremacist man, reportedly also an antisemite, rammed into counter-protesters, resulting in the death of a woman.

 

In September 2017, the British police announced that three men in the UK were charged with terror offenses, in connection with the banned neo-Nazi group "National Action." Two of the suspects were active soldiers. Other aspects are a mix of hooligan behavior and neo-Nazism. In September 2017, when the German soccer team played against the Czech Republic in Prague, tens of German soccer fans shouted Nazi slogans. There were also calls of "Sieg Heil." In bars, fascist music was played at the request of these Nazi supporters. 

 

A lengthy case in South Africa concerning the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) resulted in the Equality Court unequivocally upholding a South African Rights Commission ruling that international relations spokesman, Bongani Masuku, had been guilty of antisemitic hate speech for which he must apologize to the Jewish community. The hate speech written a number of years ago against Jews — including South African Jews — stated that Hitler was their friend. Masuku added that those Jews whom he defines as “Zionists” should be "forced out of South Africa." He also threatened violence "with immediate effect against families in South Africa whose children had moved to Israel and served in the army." 

 

Antisemites know that saying to Jews “Hitler should have killed you,” or “The Nazis forgot to gas you,” are extreme insults. While the main occurrences of this take place in the Arab and Muslim world, the original Hamas charter said it explicitly: “Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors.” The revised charter still aims at the same target. There are also slightly less evident ways in which the same genocidal aim is indicated. For instance, when Palestinian and other Arab sources present a map of the geographic area in which Israel does not appear. This can only be achieved through genocide, which usually is not stated outright…

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

 

Contents

THE INEVITABLE POLITICIZATION OF INTERNATIONAL

HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY

Matt Lebovic

Times of Israel, Jan. 26, 2018

 

When President Donald Trump left Jews out of his remarks for International Holocaust Remembrance Day last year, he inadvertently gave the relatively new commemoration an unprecedented amount of publicity. Ahead of this Saturday’s observance, the annual tribute is already drawing headlines, from an Israel-related show-down in South Carolina’s legislature to Jewish leaders preparing to boycott Austria’s official observance in parliament.

 

The day of Holocaust memory was proposed at the United Nations by Israel in 2005. In addition to encouraging education about the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust, the authors of Resolution 60/7 sought to push back against denial of the genocide. January 27 was chosen because on that date in 1945, the Red Army liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, where one million Jews from all over Europe were murdered during World War II.

 

With last year’s tribute notable for what was not said, activists around the world are drawing battle-lines in anticipation of this Saturday’s observance. In a climate of far-right political parties gaining sway across Europe, leaders of Austria’s tiny Jewish community said they will not attend the parliament’s Shoah observance because legislators of the Freedom Party are set to participate. Founded by a former Nazi SS officer in 1956, the party is opposed to anti-Nazi legislation and has sparked protests among Austrians alarmed by its nationalist agenda.

 

“If there will be ministers there from the Freedom Party, and I’m sure there will be, I will not be able to shake their hands, so the Jewish community will not attend,” said Oskar Deutsch, president of Vienna’s Jewish community, in an interview last week. Austria has punished very few Nazi perpetrators compared to Germany and other countries, and there is not a strong culture of “memory work” with regards to the past, as in Germany. The Freedom Party has been in power before, and the Jewish community has officially maintained a no-contact policy with it for 17 years.

 

Across the pond in South Carolina, Saturday’s commemoration has been declared the deadline to pass a bill that would codify a universal definition of anti-Semitism among state institutions. For several weeks, Governor Henry McMaster has been calling on the senate to pass the codification measure before January 27. The bill would make South Carolina the first state to define anti-Semitism as per the US State Department’s guidelines, which include Holocaust denial and the rejection of Israel’s right to exist among forms of anti-Semitic expression. “Governor McMaster has rightly asked the state senate to pass the bill before Holocaust Memorial Day in honor of over six million souls who were murdered because of their Jewish ethnicity and faith,” said State Representative Alan Clemmons, who drafted the bill out of concern for a resurgence of anti-Semitism on college campuses. “Never again means passing the bill now,” said the Republican legislator.

 

Under former Governor Nikki Haley, South Carolina became the first state to cease awarding business contracts to companies that boycott Israel. Since then, similar “anti-BDS” measures were adopted by 23 other states. Boycott activists have called the pending anti-Semitism measure a ban on free speech, including because it equates calls for Israel’s destruction with anti-Semitism.

 

Since the first commemoration in 2005, the United Nations has given each International Holocaust Remembrance Day an educational theme. Past frameworks include the plight of children in the Shoah, the persecution of Roma and Sinti victims, and the Nazi regime’s efforts to murder individuals with physical or mental disabilities. This year, the theme of “shared responsibility” for remembering the genocide was chosen to frame activities, including a focus on gathering accounts from “the last survivors.” Last Thursday at UN headquarters in New York, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov opened an exhibition on the genocide as it unfolded in Soviet territories, including what has been called “the Holocaust by bullets.”

 

In Israel, the Holocaust is officially commemorated on an entirely different day, Yom HaShoah, an observance timed to the Hebrew calendar day marking the start of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in the spring of 1943. That annual day of mourning first took place in 1951, and was tied to the new state’s desire to project the kind of strength exhibited by Jewish resistance in Warsaw and other ghettos. However, following the lead of the United Kingdom in 2001, many countries selected January 27 as their official day of Holocaust remembrance…

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

                                                                       

 

Contents

WHAT DID YOU HEAR WHEN MIKE PENCE SPOKE TO THE KNESSET?

Jonathan S. Tobin

Jewish Press, Jan. 23, 2018

 

In Monday’s New York Times, columnist Max Fisher treated Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Israel as just another expression of what he considers the divisive policies of the Trump administration. Even before Pence gave a rousing speech to the Knesset, Fisher wrote that Trump’s approach to the Middle East conveyed what he called “a particularly American notion of being ‘pro-Israel.’” Trump and Pence’s stances on Jerusalem and the peace process were, he wrote, rooted in the “us versus them” American identity politics of evangelicals that liberals view with disdain.

 

To this way of thinking, Pence’s instinctive identification with America’s only democratic ally in the region, his robust support for Israel’s right to exist, its claim on its ancient capital Jerusalem and the need for its opponents to come to terms with these facts is just another version of the Trump administration’s immigration policies or its views on abortion. But what Trump and Pence’s critics get wrong is not so much their critique of the details of their policies as it is their resistance to the notion that America’s love for Israel is rooted in its religious heritage as well as its national interests.

 

How did any sentiments such as Pence’s words on Jewish rights or even a recognition of the fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital come to be seen as just another front in America’s increasingly bitter partisan wars? Is it really the fault of Republicans or Christian conservatives? Or is rather that some on the left have come to embrace intersectionality—a view of the world in which Israel is falsely accused of being a colonial power oppressing a group that is identified as the moral equivalent of those who are made to suffer because of their race, gender or sexual preference? For the growing numbers who subscribe to this view, Israel is just another front in the great divide between left and right in which Pence’s stands are easily demonized.

 

But no matter how you feel about Trump, Pence or the views of evangelicals on social issues, what is really troubling about the way some left-wingers are so quick to lash out at the administration’s stands in such a way as to demonize normative pro-Israel positions. The reality check needed here is not for the administration and its supporters but for those so deeply identified with the “resistance,” which made its voice heard last weekend in marches around the country, that anything the president or vice president say on any subject must somehow be shoehorned into a narrative about how awful they are. There was nothing particularly controversial in either the president’s remarks on Jerusalem last month or Pence’s speech today from the point of view of the pursuit of peace. Neither Trump nor Pence precluded a two-solution or even a re-division of Jerusalem in order to accommodate a Palestinian capital if that was part of a peace plan accepted by both sides.

 

It was significant that Pence quoted George Washington and John Adams in his Knesset speech. Few American Jews know that the first U.S. president to endorse a Jewish state wasn’t Harry Truman or anyone else in the 20th century. It was Adams, the nation’s first vice president and second president. That demonstrates just how far back into America’s political history backing for Zionism goes. That vast numbers of Americans are inspired by the Bible to support Jewish rights in their ancient homeland isn’t so much a function of the left-right conflict as it is an integral part of the nation’s political culture. Those turned off by Pence’s rhetoric need to ask what exactly it is about a desire to respect Jewish rights and demand that Palestinians give up their century-old war on Zionism that annoys them so much.

 

Nor is there anything intrinsically right-wing or crazy about Pence’s declaration that the Iran nuclear deal must be renegotiated to end the sunset clauses that will enable Tehran to legally seek a weapon once the accord expires within a decade. President Barack Obama vowed to end Iran’s nuclear program and to never to allow Iran to obtain a bomb, but the only way those promises can be fulfilled are by the measures Trump and Pence advocate. For those who can’t listen to anything coming out of this administration without re-interpreting it through the lens of the resistance, Pence’s moving comments about the ties between America and Israel may seem like a creepy conservative plot against liberal values. But if that’s how you heard it, the problem isn’t in Pence’s rhetoric, but in a rejection of a belief that the overwhelming majority of American still rightly view as a consensus issue.       

 

Contents

A TALE OF TWO SPEECHES

David M. Weinberg

Israel Hayom, Jan. 25, 2018

 

I've been privileged to attend the two great speeches of this decade in the Knesset plenum: that of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (exactly four years ago, January 20, 2014) and that of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (this week). Two uplifting experiences: one moral and one spiritual. I felt that each speech was an epoch-making event that perhaps transforms the course of history. I felt in the presence of something momentous.

 

In his soaring speech to the Knesset, Harper articulated a principled approach that calls out the hypocrisies and shames the injustices of what too often passes as "politically correct" policy regarding Israel. He savaged the campaign to boycott and isolate Israel. "In the world of diplomacy, with one, solitary, Jewish state and scores of others, it is all too easy 'to go along to get along' and single out Israel. But such 'going along to get along,' is not a 'balanced' approach, nor a 'sophisticated' one; it is, quite simply, weak and wrong. Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, we live in a world where that kind of moral relativism runs rampant. And in the garden of such moral relativism, the seeds of much more sinister notions can be easily planted.

 

"As once Jewish businesses were boycotted, some civil society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel. On some campuses, intellectualized arguments against Israeli policies thinly mask the underlying realities, such as the shunning of Israeli academics and the harassment of Jewish students. Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state. Think about that. Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that: A state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish, as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history, that is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism. It is nothing short of sickening. In much of the Western world, the old hatred, crude anti-Semitism, has been translated into more sophisticated language for use in polite society. People who would never say they hate and blame the Jews for their own failings or the problems of the world, instead declare their hatred of Israel and blame the only Jewish state for the problems of the Middle East."

 

And in this ugly environment, Harper emphatically concluded, "Support today for the Jewish State of Israel is more than a moral imperative. It is also of strategic importance, also a matter of our own long-term interests." And then there was Harper's thundering finale which brought me and everybody in the room to their feet (for a 15th time): "Through fire and water Canada will stand by Israel!" The speech was incredibly important validation for Israelis and supporters of Israel everywhere who at times feel outcast or are afflicted by self-doubt – given the daily battering and vituperation of Israel's enemies.

 

Came Harper and said: Fret not. Israel may not be perfect, but the problem isn't you. It's the nasty way others are judging you. Israel doesn't merit the vicious and violent criticism it is being treated to. The anti-Israel narrative is not supported by the facts on the ground, and this narrative is just another iteration of the age-old hatred from which Jews have suffered for two millennia. Harper also mildly anchored his support for Israel in the Jewish people's Biblical lineage, noting in an earlier speech on Israel's 60th anniversary that "the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob made their way home. Their pilgrimage was the culmination of a 2,000-year-old dream."

 

Pence picked up where Harper left off, adopting a metahistorical perspective and adding a spiritual dimension to the case for Israel. For Pence, Israel's resurgence as a modern nation-state in its ancient homeland is nothing less than biblical prophecy actualized. "As I stand in Abraham's 'Promised Land,' I believe that all who cherish freedom, and seek a brighter future, should cast their eyes here to this place and marvel at what they behold. How unlikely was Israel's birth; how more unlikely has been her survival. And how confounding, and against the odds, has been her thriving. You have turned the desert into a garden, scarcity into plenty, sickness into health, and you turned hope into a future.

 

"Israel is like a tree that has grown deep roots in the soil of your forefathers, yet as it grows, it reaches ever closer to the heavens. And today and every day, the Jewish State of Israel, and all the Jewish people, bear witness to God's faithfulness, as well as your own. It was the faith of the Jewish people that gathered the scattered fragments of a people and made them whole again; that took the language of the Bible and the landscape of the Psalms and made them live again. And it was faith that rebuilt the ruins of Jerusalem and made them strong again. The Jewish people held fast to a promise through all the ages, written so long ago, that 'even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens,' from there He would gather and bring you back to the land which your fathers possessed."

 

Then Pence turned to Jerusalem, and explained the Trump administration's decision to recognize it as Israel's capital by saying: "The Jewish people's unbreakable bond to this sacred city reaches back more than 3,000 years. It was here, in Jerusalem, on Mount Moriah, that Abraham offered his son, Isaac, and was credited with righteousness for his faith in God. It was here, in Jerusalem, that King David consecrated the capital of the Kingdom of Israel. And since its rebirth, the modern State of Israel has called this city the seat of its government. And so we will 'pray for the peace of Jerusalem.' That 'those who love you be secure,' that 'there be peace within your walls, and security in your citadels.' We will work and strive for that brighter future where everyone who calls this ancient land their home shall sit 'under their vine and fig tree, and none shall make them afraid.'"…

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

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

Contents

On Topic Links

 

New Israeli Exhibit Highlights Power of Photos in Holocaust: Aron Heller, National Post, Jan. 25, 2018—Staring at grainy video footage of Jewish children marching to their freedom though the barbed-wire fences of the Auschwitz death camp, 79-year-old Vera Kriegel Grossman excitedly points a finger at the screen upon identifying a dark-haired girl in a dirty striped uniform as her 6-year-old self.

Is Ukraine’s Holocaust Memorial at Babi Yar in Trouble?: Izabella Tabarovsky, Tablet, Jan. 24, 2018—Babi Yar, a patchwork of ravines outside Kyiv where 33,771 Jews were executed by firing squads on Sept. 29-30, 1941, is the most potent symbol of the “Holocaust by bullets” in the Nazi-occupied Soviet territories. Yet more than 75 years after the murder of 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews—a quarter of all Holocaust victims and more than half of all Jews murdered in the Holocaust in the USSR—Babi Yar remains an orphan among the sites of global memory of the Holocaust.

Accomplices to the Holocaust: Mordecai Paldiel, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 21, 2018—Many people refer to the oft-quoted admonition by British political thinker Edmund Burke – “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” – without applying it to modern events, such as the Holocaust. On January 27, we shall again commemorate the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the most heinous place ever designed by human beings.

Dear Mr. Ambassador, Why is Canada Funding Anti-Semitism?: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, Jan. 18, 2018—Dear Ambassador Blanchard, I understand that you plan to visit Israel next week and the West Bank as well. In light of the long overdue attention focused recently on UNRWA — the UN’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees — a key client in your portfolio, I presume you are popping into the region to better understand the relevant issues.

 

                                                              

 

 

TURKEY ATTACKS U.S.-BACKED KURDS AMID ANKARA’S INCREASING ISOLATION & NEO-OTTOMAN EXPANSIONISM

Erdogan’s Fire and Fury: Robert Ellis, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 22, 2018— Under the bizarre name “Olive Branch,” Turkey has launched an offensive against the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northwestern Syria.

Don’t Abandon the Kurds to the ‘Mercies’ of Turkey’s Tyrant: Ralph Peters, New York Post, Jan. 22, 2018— The United States has been the protector and ally of the Kurds for a quarter-century.

Turkey, the Arab World Is Just Not That into You: Burak Bekdil, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 14, 2018— He runs around in a fake fire extinguisher's outfit, holding a silly hose in his hands and knocking on neighbors' doors to put out the fire in their homes.

Erdogan's Israel Obsession: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom, Dec. 24, 2017— Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's hostility toward Israel can be puzzling at times.

 

On Topic Links

 

Trump Sharply Warns Turkey Against Military Strikes in Syria: Gardiner Harris, New York Times, Jan. 24, 2018

Watching Turkey's Descent into Islamist Dictatorship: Andrew Harrod, Algemeiner, Jan. 2, 2018

Turkey is Becoming New Hub for Salafist-Jihadi Exodus from Syria: Metin Gurcan, Al-Monitor, Jan. 8, 2018

Turkey’s Expansionist Military Policies in the Middle East: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, JCPA, Jan. 24, 2018

 

 

 

ERDOGAN’S FIRE AND FURY

Robert Ellis

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 22, 2018

 

Under the bizarre name “Olive Branch,” Turkey has launched an offensive against the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northwestern Syria. This operation had been expected for the past week and only needed Moscow’s blessing to begin.

 

US support for the struggle by Kurdish forces to drive Islamic State (ISIS) from northern Syria has long been a thorn in Turkey’s side, as has the establishment of an autonomous Kurdish region (Rojava). The backbone of the multi-ethnic Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is considered by Turkey to be part and parcel of Turkey’s separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

 

 

Matters came to a head on January 13, when the US-led Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) announced the formation of a 30,000-strong “Border Security Force,” half of which would consist of SDF veterans. The force would be deployed along the border with Turkey, the Iraqi border and along the Euphrates River Valley, an area which contains two of Rojava’s three regions. This was a red flag to Turkey’s already belligerent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who threatened to “strangle” this force “before it’s even born.” The Pentagon said this was “a mischaracterization of the training that we are providing to local security forces in Syria” and instead it was a “kind of security or stabilization force” or “some sort of hold force.” According to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: “Some people misspoke. We are not creating a border security force at all.”

 

Erdogan warned that Turkey would destroy all terrorist nests in Syria, starting from the Afrin and Manbij regions, and that it would do so in about a week. In August 2016, a month after the attempted coup in Turkey, the Turkish army crossed the Syrian border and in Operation Euphrates Shield occupied most of the area west of the Euphrates and east of the third Kurdish region, Afrin, effectively blocking any attempt to create a Kurdish corridor south of the Turkish border.

 

But Manbij, which lies west of the Euphrates, was captured by the SDF from ISIS in 2016 and is a thorn in Turkey’s eye. The Pentagon immediately distanced itself from Afrin and stated it did not support YPG elements in Afrin and did not consider them part of their fight against ISIS. “We are not involved with them at all,” the Pentagon’s spokesman added.

 

The Syrian government has warned Turkey that combat operations in the Afrin area would be considered an act of aggression which would be met by Syrian air defenses. However, as Syrian airspace is controlled by Russia, on Thursday Turkey’s Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar and head of the National Intelligence Agency (MIT) Hakan Fidan were sent to Moscow to meet with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov to pave the way for the operation. In August a Russian Center for Reconciliation was set up near the city of Afrin, but the personnel have now been withdrawn “to prevent potential provocation and exclude the threat to the life and well-being of Russian military [personnel].”

 

On Saturday the Turkish General Staff announced that it had launched “Operation Olive Branch” to establish security and stability on Turkey’s borders, to eliminate terrorists and to save “our friends and brothers” (a reference to opposition forces backed by Turkey) from oppression and cruelty. It also claimed the right to self-defense while being respectful of Syria’s territorial integrity. In turn, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed concern and called on the sides to exercise constraint.

 

However, the Russian Defense Ministry put the blame for Turkey’s “extremely negative reaction” fair and square on “the provocative US steps aimed at the separation of regions with a predominantly Kurdish population” and “the Pentagon’s uncontrolled deliveries of modern weapons to the pro-US forces in northern Syria.”

 

Nevertheless, Russia’s attempts to include Syria’s Kurdish minority in an overall settlement for Syria have suffered a major setback. A draft constitution for Syria put forward by Russia in Astana a year ago safeguarded the status of what it termed “Kurdish cultural autonomy.” With regard to the National Dialogue Congress which will take place in Sochi next week Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has stated, “The Kurds are definitely part of the Syrian nation and we need to take their interests into consideration.”

 

Furthermore, the opportunity for what Lavrov has called “a constructive dialogue” with the US has also been sacrificed on the altar of President Erdogan’s ambition. Former Turkish foreign minister Yasar Yakis believes an accommodation over the Kurdish question in Syria is a possible area of convergence between the US and Russia – if political and military developments do not get out of control. Which is what they at present show every sign of doing.               

 

Contents

DON’T ABANDON THE KURDS TO THE ‘MERCIES’ OF TURKEY’S TYRANT

Ralph Peters

New York Post, Jan. 22, 2018

 

The United States has been the protector and ally of the Kurds for a quarter-century. And the Kurds have proven to be, man-for-man and woman-for-woman, the best fighters in the region. Without Kurdish boots on the ground, we would not have made the sweeping progress achieved against the Islamic State caliphate. Now, with ISIS crushed (but still wriggling and snapping), we’re turning our backs on our Kurdish allies in Syria as they’re attacked by a NATO ally gone rogue — Turkey, which is led by an Islamist strongman, the odious “President” Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

 

The Kurds are fighting for freedom and a state of their own. There are at least 30 million Kurds divided between Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey, and possibly 10 million more — none of the states where they’re captive have allowed an honest census. Kurds have been butchered en masse, denied fundamental rights, imprisoned, tortured, raped, cheated and scapegoated. (All of which should sound unnervingly familiar to those who know Israel’s backstory.)

 

After letting the Kurds down at Versailles a century ago, when we acquiesced to denying them a state, we finally stepped up to do the right thing in the wake of Desert Storm — after Saddam Hussein had used poison gas on Iraq’s Kurdish population. In return, the Kurds have fought bravely beside us in a succession of conflicts. Outside of Israel, no one has done more to support our priorities — especially in combatting Islamist terrorists. Now we’re on the verge of permitting another slaughter of Kurds. To please Turkey. We should be on the side of the underdogs, not of the rabid dogs.

 

As Turkish tanks roll into Syria’s Afrin Province to kill Kurds, it’s time to recognize that Turkey’s no longer an ally and no longer belongs in NATO (Erdogan is even buying Russian air-defense systems). Turkey’s dictator-in-all-but-name has gutted democracy, imprisoned tens of thousands on false charges, suppressed the free media, rigged the courts, backed Islamist hardliners in Syria — and, for political advantage, reignited a conflict that had gone quiet with Turkey’s internal Kurdish population. Oh, and Erdogan’s a prime supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, in Turkey and abroad.

 

Why on earth are we permitting his attack on our Kurdish allies? It really comes down to two related issues. First, inertia. Turkey has been our ally (if a difficult one) since the early Cold War, so we blindly accept the notion that it must remain an ally forever — even as Erdogan works against our strategic interests. Second, restricted use of a single air base has paralyzed our Turkey policy. Unquestionably, Incirlik air base, in southeastern Turkey, has a prime strategic location. Our operations would be more challenging without it. And Turkey uses that as leverage. It’s time to call Erdogan’s bluff. We should not sacrifice the future of 30 million to 40 million pro-American Kurds for the sake of a couple of runways.

 

Erdogan’s excuse for sending his air force and army across the border into Syrian territory liberated by Kurds is his bogus claim that the Kurds we’ve backed — who fought ISIS house to house — are all terrorists. In the alphabet game of the Middle East, Erdogan insists that Syria’s Kurdish YPG forces — our allies — are indistinguishable from the PKK, a Turkish domestic resistance group that had abandoned terror to seek a political accommodation. While oppressed Kurds everywhere do feel a measure of solidarity with one another, claiming that the YPG is the same as the PKK is like blaming Rand Paul for Mrs. Paul’s Fish Sticks.

 

What should we do to stop Turkey from using US-supplied, US-made weapons to kill our only dependable regional allies outside of Israel? It’s time to embrace the future rather than clinging to the past. It’s time to imagine a strategy without Incirlik air base and with Turkey suspended from NATO until it returns to the rule of law and honest elections. It’s time to recognize that the Kurds deserve and have earned a state of their own. And, right now, it’s past time to draw a red line for Erdogan, who cannot be permitted to slaughter Kurds who have been fighting beside us and for us. The Kurds aren’t terrorists. The terrorist sits in his president’s chair in Ankara.               

 

Contents

TURKEY, THE ARAB WORLD IS JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU

Burak Bekdil

Gatestone Institute, Jan. 14, 2018

 

He runs around in a fake fire extinguisher's outfit, holding a silly hose in his hands and knocking on neighbors' doors to put out the fire in their homes. "Go away," his neighbors keep telling him. "There is no fire here!" I am the person to put out that fire, he insists, as doors keep shutting on his face. That was more or less how Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's neo-Ottoman, pro-ummah (Islamic community), "Big Brother" game has looked in the Middle East.

 

After years of trial and failure Erdogan does not understand that his services are not wanted in the Muslim neighborhood: The Iranians are too Shiite to trust his Sunni Islamism; the (mostly Sunni) Kurds' decades-long dispute with the Turks is more ethnic than religious; and Sunni Arabs do not wish to revisit their Ottoman colonial past. Still, Erdogan insists.

 

Turkish textbooks have taught children how treacherous Arab tribes stabbed their Ottoman ancestors in the back during the First World War, and even how Arabs collaborated with non-Muslim Western powers against Muslim Ottoman Turks. A pro-Western, secular rule in the modern Turkish state in the 20th century coupled with various flavors of Islamism in the Arab world added to an already ingrained anti-Arabism in the Turkish psyche. Erdogan's indoctrination, on the other hand, had to break that anti-Arabism if he wanted to revive the Ottoman Turkish rule over a future united ummah. The Turks had to rediscover their "Arab brothers" if Erdogan's pan-Islamism had to advance into the former Ottoman realms in the Middle East.

 

It was not a coincidence that the number of imam [religious] school students, under Erdogan's rule, has risen sharply to 1.3 million from a mere 60,000 when he first came to power in 2002, an increase of more than twenty-fold. Erdogan is happy. "We are grateful to God for that," he said late in 2017. Meanwhile, the Turkish Education Ministry added Arabic courses to its curriculum and the state broadcaster, TRT, launched an Arabic television channel.

 

Not enough. In addition, Erdogan would pursue a systematic policy to bash Israel at every opportunity and play the champion Muslim leader of the "Palestinian cause." He has done that, too, and in an exaggerated way, by countless times declaring himself the champion of the Palestinian cause — and he still does it. Erdogan's Turkey championed an international campaign to recognize eastern Jerusalem as the capital city of the Palestinian state, with several Arab pats on the shoulder.

 

His spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, happily said that the dispute over Jerusalem after President Donald Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the Israeli capital "had in fact united the Muslim world." A united Muslim front around the "Palestinian capital Jerusalem" is a myth. Iran, for instance, renounced Turkey's Jerusalem efforts because, according to the regime, the entire city of Jerusalem, not just eastern Jerusalem, should have been recognized as the Palestinian capital. Before that, Turkey accused some Arab countries of showing a weak reaction to Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

 

The Turkish-Arab fraternity along Muslims lines is an even bigger myth. For instance, the Saudi-led Gulf blockade of Qatar imposed in June came as a complete shock. One of his Sunni brothers had taken out the sword against another?! Turkey's Sunni brothers had once been sympathetic to his ideas but no longer are. Only two years ago, Turkey and Saudi Arabia were mulling the idea of a joint military strike in Syria.

 

For the Sunni Saudis, the Turks were allies only if they could be of use in any fight against Shiite Iran or its proxies, such as the Baghdad government or the Syrian regime. For the Saudis, Turkey was only useful if it could serve a sectarian purpose. Meanwhile, as Turkey, together with Qatar, kept on championing Hamas, Saudi Arabia and Egypt distanced themselves from the Palestinian cause and consequently from Turkey. Both the Saudi kingdom and Egypt's al-Sisi regime have viewed Hamas, an Iranian satellite, with hostility, whereas Turkey gave it logistical and ideological support. Another reason for the change in Saudi Arabia's position toward Turkey — from "friendly" to "semi-medium-hostile" — is Saudi Arabia's newfound alliance with Egypt's President el-Sisi. El-Sisi replaced the Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, in Egypt, while Turkey and Qatar, have effectively been the embodiments of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region. Erdogan offered to build a Turkish military base in the Kingdom, for example, but in June, Saudi officials turned him down.

 

Erdogan might benefit by being reminded of a few facts and shaken out of his make-believe world. For instance, he might recall, that his worst regional nemesis is an Arab leader, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, not an "infidel king." He must realize that he is no longer the "rock star" he was in the streets of Amman or Beirut that he once was – when the only currency he could sell on the Arab Street was his anti-Semitic rants. Turkey does not even have full diplomatic relations with the most populous Sunni Arab nation, Egypt. More recently, a tiny sheikdom had to remind Erdogan that his expansionist, "ummah-ist" design for the Middle East was no more than a fairy tale he persistently wanted to believe. In December, United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahayan shared a tweet that accused Turkish troops of looting the holy city of Medina a century ago. In response, Erdogan himself lashed out: “Some impertinent man sinks low and goes as far as accusing our ancestors of thievery … What spoiled this man? He was spoiled by oil, by the money he has.”

 

But that was not the end of what looks like a minor historical debate. The row symbolized the impossibility of what Erdogan has been trying to build: An eternal Arab-Turkish fraternity. Anwar Gargash, UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said there was a need for Arab countries to rally around the "Arab axis" of Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Did Erdogan hear that? If not, he should have heard this one: Gargash also said that "the Arab world would not be led by Turkey." In what better plain diplomatic language could the idea have been expressed? Meanwhile Erdogan keeps living in his make-believe world. Last summer, as part of his futile "euphemizing Arab-Ottoman history" campaign, he claimed that "Arabs stabbed us in the back was a lie." Not even the Arabs claim they did not revolt against the Ottomans in alliance with Western powers.

 

If none of that is enough to convince Erdogan he should read some credible polling results. Taha Akyol, a prominent Turkish columnist, recently noted some research conducted by the pollster Zogby in 2016. The poll found that 67% of Egyptians, 65% of Saudis, 59% of UAE citizens, and 70% of Iraqis had an unfavorable opinion of Turkey. Do not tell Erdogan, but if "polling" had existed a century ago, the numbers might have been even worse.                                            

 

Contents

ERDOGAN'S ISRAEL OBSESSION

Prof. Efraim Inbar

Israel Hayom, Dec. 24, 2017

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's hostility toward Israel can be puzzling at times. When his Justice and Development (AKP) party rose to power through democratic elections in 2002, ties with Israel had been solid for a number of years. Erdogan visited Israel himself in 2005. His government purchased weapons from and held joint military maneuvers with Israel. Under Erdogan, Turkey attempted to serve as mediator between Israel and Syria and expressed interest in collaborating with Israel on projects to benefit Palestinians. Economic ties between the two countries continue to flourish, and Turkey's official airline operates around 10 flights per day between Tel Aviv and Istanbul. The reasons for the change can be found in Erdogan's personality and Turkey's strategic environment. Erdogan has acquired status and unprecedented political power, and he is fearlessly working to realize his personal preferences in both Turkey's domestic and foreign policies.

 

Erdogan's treatment of the Jewish state stems from his negative opinion of Jews in general. Erdogan had issues with anti-Semitic remarks in the past, which stem from his Islamist education and the anti-Jewish atmosphere in Islamist circles in Turkey. Many in those circles believe that the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, was secretly a Jew. They see Jews as having been a central agent in Turkey's process of secularization under Ataturk, a process they consider destructive. Therefore, Jews are the bitter enemy sabotaging Turkey's Muslim identity. A shrewd politician, Erdogan is aware that his anti-Semitic positions earn him praise that translates to votes come election time. Opinion polls from the previous decade indicate that around half of all Turks do not want a Jewish neighbor and believe Jews are disloyal to the state. In Turkey, anti-Semitic sentiments are no longer politically incorrect.

 

Another important factor behind the poor relations between the two countries is Turkey's desire to wield influence in the Middle East and throughout the Muslim world. Turkey's foreign policy has broken off from the Kemalist outlook that saw ties with Middle Eastern states as a cultural and political burden, and Turkey now draws more from its imperial Ottoman heritage. Under Erdogan, Muslim identity plays a large part in Turkey's foreign policy. The desire to become a regional and global leader demands that Turkey lower the profile of its relations with Israel.

 

At the same time, Turkey is distancing itself from the West, and the United States in particular. With the fall of the Soviet Union, there is less strategic need for NATO membership, especially given EU opposition to Turkey joining the organization. Alongside a weakened EU, America's diminished presence in the Middle East under former President Barack Obama and now under President Donald Trump has bolstered the Turkish trend of deviating from the West in its policy on Israel. And yet Turkey maintains diplomatic ties and excellent financial ties with Israel, which has a vested interest in ties with as important a Muslim state as Turkey. While Israel cannot let Erdogan's attacks slide, its response must differentiate between Turkish society and its popular but problematic leader.

 

The struggle for Turkey's identity is not over. Only half of all Turks voted for Erdogan in the last elections. In the Middle East, countries that can afford to oppose Erdogan are few and far between. Turkey and Iran are historic rivals, and tensions between them also stem from the Sunni-Shiite divide. Today, Turkey cooperates with Iran, largely out of both countries' concern over Kurdish nationalism and the Muslim character of their foreign policies. In the future, Turkey may decide to oppose Iran's expansion and as a result improve ties with Israel. The international reality is fluid, and Israel must keep all options open.

 

Contents

On Topic Links

 

Trump Sharply Warns Turkey Against Military Strikes in Syria: Gardiner Harris, New York Times, Jan. 24, 2018—Simmering tensions between Turkey and the United States spilled into the open on Wednesday as President Trump warned President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against the growing risk of conflict between the two nations. The Turkish president, for his part, demanded that the United States end its support for Kurdish militias.

Watching Turkey's Descent into Islamist Dictatorship: Andrew Harrod, Algemeiner, Jan. 2, 2018—"Deep trouble" in Turkey's relationships with Europe and the United States was a recurring theme in the December address of Michael Meier — representative to America and Canada for Germany's Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), or the Foundation for Social Democracy. His introduction to the Middle East Institute (MEI) and FES' eighth annual Turkey Conference, at Washington, DC's National Press Club was an appropriately gloomy preface to the discussion of Turkey's troubled past and present.

Turkey is Becoming New Hub for Salafist-Jihadi Exodus from Syria: Metin Gurcan, Al-Monitor, Jan. 8, 2018—As the Islamic State (IS) has lost territory in Syria and Iraq, and as efforts are being made to separate radical elements from moderate Sunni opposition groups in and around Idlib, the violent Salafist-jihadi networks are migrating to Turkey.

Turkey’s Expansionist Military Policies in the Middle East: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, JCPA, Jan. 24, 2018—While Iran’s hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East have been under the world’s magnifying glass, Turkey has been silently projecting its military presence in the area to such an extent it has become a source of worry to the “moderate” Arab states and specifically to Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

                                                              

 

 

WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

 

 

 

 

Contents: | Weekly Quotes | Short Takes   | On Topic Links

 

On Topic Links

                    

Pence ‘Inspired’ by Visit to Western Wall: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, Jan. 23, 2018

Far From Being the Disaster His Critics Predicted, President Trump's World Strategy is to Lead From the Front: Nile Gardiner, Telegraph, Jan. 15, 2018

Donald Trump’s Greatest Gift Is His Enemies: David Harsanyi, New York Post, Jan. 22, 2018

Erdogan’s Fire and Fury: Robert Ellis, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 22, 2018

 

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem — and the embassy will open next year…By finally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States has chosen fact over fiction — and fact is the only true foundation for a just and lasting peace.” — U.S. Vice President Pence. Pence made the announcement to the Israeli parliament on Monday. Israeli Arab lawmakers staged a walkout at the beginning of Pence’s speech, resulting in a small scuffle, while Palestinian officials also snubbed Pence’s visit. Instead of meeting with Pence, President Mahmoud Abbas flew to Brussels for talks with European foreign ministers to press for recognition of a Palestinian state. Abbas also hopes that Europe could take an expanded role in the peace process.   (Washington Post, Jan. 22, 2018)

 

“We won’t accept this…Not from Trump, not from the United States, and not from anyone else. Jerusalem is our capital…Jerusalem would be a gate for peace, only when it’s the capital of Palestine. But it is also a gate for war, insecurity and instability if it isn’t [the capital of Palestine]. Trump has to choose.” — PA leader Mahmoud Abbas. The PA leader reiterated his howls of outrage from the podium over President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy from to Jerusalem – which he referred to as a “sin” – vowing never to allow the U.S. to broker peace between Israel and the PA ever again. He said the PA demands “only 22 percent of historical Palestine” and rejected out of hand the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. “We are confronting a great conspiracy… It is a colonial conspiracy to plant a foreign body in Palestine for the benefit of the West…We’ve been here for 5,000 years, from the days of the Canaanites who built Jerusalem. We are the Canaanites,” he insisted. (Jewish Press, Jan. 18, 2018)

 

“Damn your dollars!” …Abbas railed at the United States and President Trump during his recent maniacal tirade. Well, OK: On Tuesday, Team Trump took him at his word, cutting $65 million of the $125 million Washington sends to the UN outfit that handles Palestinian aid, (UNRWA). Hey, Trump had warned Abbas long ago that PA funding was at risk if its leaders refused to engage in peace talks with Israel. And Abbas’ 2 ½-hour rant in Ramallah pretty conclusively showed that he’s not remotely ready to do that. First, he again specifically rejected any thought of playing along with the latest US effort to restart negotiations: “We told Trump we will not accept his project, the ‘deal of the century,’ which has become the ‘slap of the century’ ” — referring to US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. More, he denied the Jewish state’s legitimacy, claiming, “Israel is a colonialist project that has nothing to do with Jews.” How can Israel bargain with a guy who insists the Jews have no links at all to the Holy Land?” — Editorial (New York Post, Jan. 19, 2018)

 

“We’re not going to reward bad behavior…Here you’ve got the Palestinians who are basically saying they’re going to cut the US out of the peace process. They’re saying they no longer want to have anything to do with us…We need to start being smart about the way we spend…We need to start really looking at foreign policy and seeing what the US goals are and where we want to go. We want a peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians. We want to make sure that that moves forward. By the Palestinians cutting us out of the peace process, it shows that they weren’t serious, that they’re not serious in truly getting to peace.” — US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. (Jerusalem Online, Jan. 18, 2018)

 

“For Abbas to blame Trump is just the most recent iteration of blaming everyone else for a situation on which he could have acted. To suggest that President Trump’s comments are to blame for what Abbas says just plain misses the point. Abbas was never a real negotiating partner, and… Netanyahu couldn’t really move the process forward with such a tenuous state of the coalition.” — Rabbi Andrew Paley, a veteran peace process backer with J Street. (Jewish Press, Jan. 23, 2018)

 

“The technology really is groundbreaking…The message to Hamas is: ‘We now have this system which can detect and destroy terror tunnels that violate Israeli sovereignty.” — IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus. The IDF is forging ahead with an ambitious subterranean barrier to detect and prevent attack tunnels from reaching southern Israel from Gaza. Israeli military officials touted the secretive project as a major deterrent against what Israel has seen as a strategic threat since the last war against Hamas exposed the extent of the tunnels. Israel has made uncovering the tunnels a priority and in recent months has demolished at least three. (National Post, Jan. 18, 2018)

 

"Our relations with Iran and Hezbollah have returned to their natural path and we intend to develop these relations…We will expand our ties with Iran and Hezbollah." — Senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar. Al-Zahar confirmed that Hamas is seeking to bolster its ties with Iran and its Lebanon-based proxy, Hezbollah. Iran has expressed support for Hamas' efforts to establish terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stating that arming Hamas in the area was "necessary for confronting the Zionist regime." (Israel Hayom, Jan. 22, 2018)

 

“We cannot allow history to repeat itself in Syria…ISIS has one foot in the grave, and by maintaining an American military presence in Syria until the full and complete defeat of ISIS is achieved, it will soon have two.” — Secretary of State Tillerson. U.S. troops will remain in Syria long after their fight against I.S. to ensure that neither Iran nor President Assad of Syria take over areas that have been newly liberated with help from the U.S., Tillerson said. Staying in Syria, Tillerson said, will help ensure that the Trump administration does not repeat what he described as the mistakes of Obama, who withdrew troops from Iraq before the extremist threat was doused and failed to stabilize Libya after NATO airstrikes that led to the overthrow of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. Tillerson said the military commitment to Syria was “conditions-based” and not indefinite. (New York Times, Jan. 17, 2018)

 

“The Muslims inside the occupied land must kill every Jew, by running him over, or stabbing him, or by using against him any weapon, or by burning their homes…Every Muslim must know that the Americans and the disbeliever West, and on top of them Britain and France, are the original reason behind the existence of the Jews in Palestine.” — Khaled Batarfi, believed to be the number two man in AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). Batarfi also warned in a recording entitled “Our duty towards our Jerusalem,” that no Muslim had the right to cede any part of Jerusalem. Trump enraged Muslims when he announced US recognition of Jerusalem as capital and said he intended to transfer the embassy there. Batarfi was one of some 150 jailed AQAP members who were freed when the terrorist group captured the Yemeni city of Mukalla in 2015, where he was held. Batarfi said Muslims were obliged to target the interests of Jews and Americans. “They must be eager to prepare themselves as much as possible, and to carry out jihadi operations against them,” he added. (Algemeiner, Jan. 23, 2018)

 

“Zionism is simply self-determination for the Jewish people in the world’s only Jewish state.” — Joan Ryan MP, chair of Labour Friends of Israel. The British parliamentarian urged the Labour Party to adopt a zero-tolerance attitude toward anti-Zionism, which she called “the new antisemitism” in remarks made to university students. She encouraged students to confront the BDS campaign for “demonizing and delegitimizing the only Jewish state,” noting that “inevitably” there will be an overlap “with calling out antisemitism.” “It is racism, obviously, but we mustn’t avoid the issue by saying, ‘We abhor all forms of racism,’” Ryan observed. “Of course we do, but the issue has been antisemitism, and whilst you’re not identifying the issue, then you’re not able to effectively tackle it.” The issue of antisemitism in Britain has drawn increasing concern from advocates and elected officials. The government announced £144,261 in funding for a new program to help universities combat the trend. The measure will allow 200 students and campus leaders to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, before participating in a seminar on identifying and addressing antisemitism. (Algemeiner, Jan. 17, 2018)

 

“Aggressive anti-Semitism, from verbal hostility on the Internet and in the analogue world to desecration and destruction to physical attacks are commonplace in Germany…Jewish life can only take place in public under police protection and the strictest security precautions, or it must be completely cancelled for security reasons.” — Charlotte Knobloch, former leader of the German Council of Jews. Knobloch referred to several recent incidents of antisemitic crime, including the vandalism of a Menorah in the city of Heilbronn, and the cancellation of a public Menorah lighting in Mülheim because of security issues. (Daily Mail, Dec. 30, 2017)

 

“Media bias during Trump’s first year in office is a continuation of the bias that exploded during the 2016 campaign. The press tried to defeat him then and now is trying to hobble his presidency if not drive him from office. The real scandal is that nothing has changed. The Get Trump mob reached parody levels last week when the White House doctor declared him in excellent health, physically and cognitively. That wasn’t the answer the press corps wanted, so it badgered Dr. Ronny Jackson, a decorated naval admiral and the physician who examined the president. Jackson, who was White House physician under ­Barack Obama, gave no ground. Yet both the New York Times and CNN nonetheless declared that Trump suffers from heart disease. Notably, both organizations previously featured shrinks declaring Trump mentally unfit, too.” — Michael Goodwin. (New York Post, Jan. 21, 2018)

 

Contents

 

 

SHORT TAKES

 

SIEGE IN KABUL CAPS A VIOLENT 24 HOURS IN AFGHANISTAN (Kabul) — The Taliban’s bloody, 14-hour siege on a major hotel in Kabul ended after six assailants terrorized much of the city. At least 22 people were killed after nearly 15 hours of fighting. Local media put the number of dead at 43. The siege capped a violent 24 hours across Afghanistan, where about 50 people were killed in four provinces as the 16-year war continues to spiral more violently. The attack was the second in eight years at the Intercontinental Hotel. On Wednesday, gunmen stormed the office of Save the Children in the Afghan city of Jalalabad after an explosion, killing at least one person. I.S.’s affiliate in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for the attack. (New York Times, Jan. 21, New York Times, Jan. 24, 2018)

 

AT LEAST 33 DEAD AFTER TWIN BOMBINGS IN LIBYA (Benghazi) — A double car bombing in the east Libyan city of Benghazi on Tuesday left at least 33 people dead and dozens more wounded, including senior security figures and civilians, officials said. The twin explosions shattered the relative calm that had recently returned to Libya's second city, scene of more than three years of warfare from 2014 until late last year. It was not immediately clear who was responsible. (Globe & Mail, Jan. 23, 2018)

 

TURKISH TROOPS ADVANCE ON KURDS IN SYRIA (Damascus) — Intense fighting flared as Turkish troops advanced on a Kurdish enclave in northwestern Syria, the third day of Ankara's offensive to oust a U.S.-allied Kurdish militia. The Turkish offensive on Afrin, codenamed "Operation Olive Branch," began Saturday, raising tensions in the Syrian conflict and threatening to further strain ties between Turkey and the U.S., both NATO allies. The U.S. has offered support to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces that spearheaded the fight against IS in Syria. The U.S. said it would create a 30,000-strong border force of SDF members. (Globe & Mail, Jan. 22, 2018)

 

AMNESTY BOYCOTTS UK JEWISH EVENT TO SUPPORT BDS (London) — Amnesty International cited support for BDS in its withdrawal from an event it had organized with the Jewish Leadership Council. The event, a panel discussion on Israel and the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), was scheduled to take place in London. Human rights lawyer Danny Friedman was slated to chair the panel, with speakers Fred Carver of the UN Association and Hillel Neuer of UN Watch joining the discussion. Amnesty cited its campaign “for all governments around the world to ban the import of goods produced in the illegal Israeli settlements.”  “We do not, therefore, think it appropriate… to host an event by those actively supporting such settlements,” the group stated. (United With Israel, Jan. 23, 2018)

 

GERMANY TO APPOINT COMMISSIONER TO COORDINATE FIGHT AGAINST ANTISEMITISM (London) — German lawmakers voted to appoint a commissioner to coordinate the government fight against antisemitism, and to implement tougher laws on antisemitism. The measure created the commissioner post to develop and implement a strategy to root out anti-Jewish sentiment and crime as part of a 17-point proposal. The far-right AfD party backed the proposal. Antisemitism is rising in the country and incidents were seen at recent pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Berlin, among other sites. An increasing number of antisemitic incidents taking place in Germany are being carried out by migrants from the Middle East and North Africa, according to the bill. (Jewish Press, Jan. 18, 2018)

 

ARAB LEADERS: WE CAN RESUME PEACE TALKS (Amman) — Arab leaders in Davos expressed optimism about the possibility of renewing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, despite controversy over the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. King Abdullah II of Jordan told Maariv during the Davos conference that, following Trump's announcement and intention to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, he would rather see the glass half full and focus on relations with Israel and how these ties can promote peace. At the same time, on the sidelines of the conference, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, Swiss President Alain Berset and the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 24, 2018)

 

WHITE HOUSE SAYS NO CONTACT WITH PALESTINIANS SINCE JERUSALEM RECOGNITION (Washington) — Trump administration officials have not spoken with Palestinian leaders since the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month, a White House official said. The official also said the US is aiming to present its peace plan this year, but both sides needed to be willing to engage in talks.  Since Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem, Mahmoud Abbas has refused to engage in American-led peace talks, saying the US is not an honest broker. (Times of Israel, Jan. 23, 2018)

 

KERRY TO ABBAS CONFIDANTE: 'DO NOT GIVE IN TO TRUMP' (London) — Former US Sec. of State John Kerry met in London with Hussein Agha, one of Abbas's closest associates and a veteran peacemaker with Israel. During the conversation, Kerry reportedly asked Agha to convey a message to Abbas and ask him to "hold on and be strong." Tell him, he told Agha, "that he should stay strong in his spirit and play for time, that he will not break and will not yield to President Trump's demands." According to Kerry, Trump will not remain in office for a long time. It was reported that within a year there was a good chance that Trump would not be in the White House. (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 24, 2018)

 

POLL: DEM. SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL, PALESTINIANS NEARLY IDENTICAL (Washington) — Democrats are almost as likely to sympathize with the Palestinians as they are with Israel in the peace conflict, while support for the Jewish state among Republicans is nearly three times higher than Democrats, according to a poll. Twenty-seven percent of Democrats told the Pew Research Center they sympathize with Israel over the Palestinians, compared to 25% who said their sympathies lie with the Palestinians. Among Republicans, those numbers were 79% and 6%, respectively. The survey said the partisan divide in support for Israel was “wider than at any point since 1978,” when 49% of Republicans and 44% of Democrats sympathized with Israel over the Palestinians. (Times of Israel, Jan. 23, 2018)

 

SURVEY SHOWS ISRAELI PUBLIC AMONG TOP TRUMP SUPPORTERS (Washington) — A Gallup survey finds that Trump is not well liked in the Americas and in Europe, but has a solid following in Asia and Africa. Israel stands out as one of the top most pro-Trump nations. In response to the question, “Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of the United States?” Trump’s highest approval in the Americas came from the Dominican Republic – 42%, with 41% disapproving, a stunning drop of 18% from former president Barack Obama’s numbers. Israel tops Trump’s fan club in Asia and Oceania, with 67% supporting Trump and 24% opposing. (Jewish Press, Jan. 23, 2018)

 

US KILLS 150 I.S. FIGHTERS IN SYRIA (Damascus) — The Pentagon says it killed 150 I.S. fighters in an airstrike in eastern Syria, while the U.S. federal government was shut down Saturday. The airstrike took in one of the last remaining pockets of I.S. control along the Euphrates River near the border between Syria and Iraq. While I.S. has lost 98 percent of its territory, the remaining 2 percent held by the terror group includes an area around the Syrian city of Al-Shaafah, where the strike took place.  Top U.S. military officials believe the head of I.S., Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is hiding in the area. (Fox News, Jan. 23, 2018)

 

HAMAS EXECUTES ALLEGED COLLABORATOR WITH ISRAEL (Gaza) — Hamas executed a Gaza man, Ahmed Sa’id Barhoum, in Rafah. The man was accused of collaborating and spying for Israel. The man, also a member of Hamas, was accused of assisting Israel with the assassination of three senior Hamas terrorist commanders: Al-Attar, Abu Shamala and Barhoum (related to the executed man), by supplying Israel with their location. Family members demanded that Barhoum be executed. Barhoum was taken out and shot. (Jewish Press, Jan. 19, 2018)

 

NYT BLAMES IRAN PROTESTS ON ‘CLIMATE CHANGE’ (Washington) — The New York Times has finally discovered the cause of the protests in Iran: global climate change. A Times news article reports, “Iran is the latest example of a country where a water crisis, long in the making, has fed popular discontent.” It warned, “Climate change is projected to make Iran hotter and drier.” Lower down, the article grudgingly concedes, “Water alone doesn’t explain the outbreak of protests that began in early January and spread swiftly across the country.” The article appears under the print headline, “Warming, Water Crisis, Then Unrest: Iran Fits a Pattern.” (Algemeiner, Jan. 23, 2018)

 

MEF OFFERS ONE MILLION US TO UNRWA (Philadelphia) —The Middle East Forum announced a donation of one million dollars to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). After the U.S. partially withheld funding, UNRWA's head called on "people…to "join us in responding to this crisis and #FundUNRWA."  MEF has responded: "The Forum's contribution requires UNRWA to end the automatic registering in perpetuity of (1) the descendants of refugees, (2) those who hold a nationality, and (3) those who live in their purported homeland, the West Bank and Gaza. Making these technical changes puts it in line with all other refugee agencies and reduces the number of Palestine refugees from 5.3 million to around 20,000…" (Middle East Forum, Jan. 18, 2018)

 

PUTIN MOVES MUSEUM VISIT IN DEFERENCE TO SABBATH (Moscow) — Russian President Vladimir Putin was slated to visit the largest Jewish museum in the country, located in Moscow, in honor of International Holocaust Day, which falls on January 27 — but he has postponed the visit until January 29. The date for International Holocaust Day falls on the Jewish Sabbath. Russia’s head of state moved the date of his visit to attend the ceremonial opening of a special exhibition at the Jewish museum. The exhibit marks 75 years since the sole successful uprising in a concentration camp – that of Sobibor – where some 170,000 Jews perished. (Jewish Press, Jan. 23, 2018)

 

RESEARCHERS DECIPHER ONE OF LAST TWO UNDECODED DEAD SEA SCROLLS (Haifa) — Scientists at Haifa University have reconstructed the contents of one of the last two undeciphered Dead Sea Scrolls. The scroll, which is written in encrypted language, consists of 60 tiny fragments, some of them smaller than one square centimeter. Most of the 900 Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by Bedouin in the 1940s and ’50s in caves adjacent to the ancient Jewish settlement known as Qumran near the Dead Sea, where an ascetic Jewish sect called the Essenes are believed to have lived. Most scrolls were subsequently deciphered. (Ha’aretz, Jan. 21, 2018)

On Topic Links

 

Pence ‘Inspired’ by Visit to Western Wall: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, Jan. 23, 2018—U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen were on the clock Tuesday afternoon when they arrived for a quick visit to Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Far From Being the Disaster His Critics Predicted, President Trump's World Strategy is to Lead From the Front: Nile Gardiner, Telegraph, Jan. 15, 2018—When Donald Trump was elected America’s 45th president in November 2016 the world took a collective deep breath. This was a man derided by his critics as an isolationist, woefully out of his depth on foreign policy matters, and imbued with a supposedly dangerous and reckless nationalism.

Donald Trump’s Greatest Gift Is His Enemies: David Harsanyi, New York Post, Jan. 22, 2018—Every morning, it seems, President Donald Trump's most determined opponents awake to find out what sort of obnoxious, fact-challenged, puerile, norm breaking thing he has offered that day and say to themselves: "Oh, that's nothing. We can do something dumber than that!"

Erdogan’s Fire and Fury: Robert Ellis, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 22, 2018—Under the bizarre name “Olive Branch,” Turkey has launched an offensive against the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northwestern Syria. This operation had been expected for the past week and only needed Moscow’s blessing to begin.

IN SYRIA, U.S.-BACKED KURDS CLASH WITH TURKEY; IRAN’S “LAND CORRIDOR” COVERS SYRIA & LEBANON

Will the US Betray the Syrian Kurds?: Gwynne Dyer, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 20, 2018— Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an angry man at the best of times, but on Monday he outdid himself…

Breaking the Syrian Stalemate: Irina Tsukerman, BESA, Jan. 11, 2018— The US is currently at a great disadvantage in Syria.

Hezbollah's Reign of Terror: From Beirut and Beyond: Charles Bybelezer, The Media Line, Jan. 21, 2018— The trial of two Hezbollah operatives accused of blowing up an Israeli tour bus in 2012, killing five Israelis and the Bulgarian driver, kicked off this week in Sofia.

The Fiction that Destabilizes the Middle East: Evelyn Gordon, Jewish Press, Jan. 16, 2018— If I were compiling a foreign policy wish list for 2018, high on the list would be ending the fiction that Lebanon is an independent country rather than an Iranian satrapy governed by Iran’s foreign legion, Hezbollah.

 

On Topic Links

 

Pence Addresses Israeli Parliament (Video): Washington Post, Jan. 22, 2018

DEBATE: What Are the Implications of the Russian-Turkish Rapprochement?: Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos, BESA, Jan. 21, 2018

Is Hezbollah Eating the Iranian People's Bread?: Yves Mamou, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 4, 2018

Israeli Experts Weigh in on Obama-Hezbollah Revelation: Michael Friedson, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 24, 2017

 

 

WILL THE US BETRAY THE SYRIAN KURDS?

Gwynne Dyer

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 20, 2018

 

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an angry man at the best of times, but on Monday he outdid himself: “This is what we have to say to all our allies: Don’t get in between us and terrorist organizations or we will not be responsible for the unwanted consequences.” That was a barely veiled threat that he will use force against American troops if they try to stop him from attacking the Syrian Kurds. The iron law of international politics in the Middle East is that everybody betrays the Kurds. It was on display again in Iraq last October when the Baghdad government seized almost half the territory ruled by the Kurdistan Regional Government.

 

In obedience to that unwritten law, nobody else objected – including the United States, even though it had armed the Iraqi Kurds to fight ISIS. But now the US government has effectively told the Syrian Kurds that they can keep the huge chunk of Syria they control for the indefinite future. And the Turkish government, predictably, has gone ballistic. In President Erdogan’s book, any Kurd with a gun in his hand is a “terrorist,” and the Syrian Kurds are a “terror army.” In fact, they played the main role, under US air cover, in destroying the Syrian base of the real terrorists: Islamic State. As a result, the army the Kurds dominate, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), now controls almost half of Syria’s territory.

 

It’s the northeastern, relatively empty part of Syria, with less than one-fifth of the country’s population, but it includes all of Syria’s border with Iraq and almost all its border with Turkey. On Sunday, Washington confirmed it will help the SDF create a new 30,000-member “border security force” over the next several years to police those borders – and also the “internal” border between Kurdish-controlled Syria and the rest of the country. The “rest of the country” is now mostly back under the control of Bashar Assad’s regime after six years of civil war, thanks largely to the intervention of the Russian Air Force and Iranian militias. Both Moscow and Tehran immediately accused the United States of planning to partition Syria, and there is some substance in the accusation.

 

Washington is indeed creating a Kurdish-ruled protectorate in northeast Syria, and has declared that 2,000 US troops will stay there indefinitely – or to be more precise: until progress has been made in the UN-led peace talks in Geneva and it is certain that Islamic State has been permanently defeated – which is another way of saying indefinitely.

 

The main purpose of this sudden escalation in the US commitment in Syria is presumably to stop the Russians from winning a total victory in the country. The Syrian regime, of course, has denounced the plan as a “blatant attack” on its sovereignty – but Turkey is the only country threatening to kill Americans over it. The Kurds always get betrayed because what they really want is an independent Kurdistan that includes all 20 million Kurds. But to create that, the four most powerful countries in the region – Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq – would all have to be partially dismantled. Those powers will do whatever it takes to prevent that.

 

Erdogan restarted the war with Turkey’s own Kurdish separatists two years ago, mainly for electoral advantage. But he really is fanatical on the subject. He is convinced that the Syrian Kurdish organization, the YFP – which he is determined to destroy – is really just a branch of Turkey’s own PKK (which does have a terrorist past).

 

The declaration of a de facto American protectorate over the Kurdish-dominated parts of Syria only makes the matter more urgent in Erdogan’s eyes. “A country we call an ally [the US] is insisting on forming a terror army on our border,” Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara on Monday. “What can that terror army target but Turkey? Our mission is to strangle it before it’s even born.” That’s nonsense. The Syrian Kurds are not terrorists, they are American allies. And when the Turkish Army first attacked Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria last spring, US troops – flying very large American flags – drove in front of the Kurdish lines to protect their allies from Turkish fire.

 

What Erdogan meant in our first quotation was: Next time, if American soldiers and flags obstruct Turkish operations, they will be blown away. Does he mean it? He may not know himself, but his army is going to move into several parts of Syrian Kurdish territory this week or next. Turkish artillery is already softening up the targets. But the likelihood of a shooting war between Turks and Americans remains very low. Like Obama before him, Trump is pursuing a policy in Syria that is not backed up by enough force to make it credible. Everybody assumes he is bluffing and will betray the Syrian Kurds in the end. For the peace of the world, it’s probably better that he does.

 

Contents

BREAKING THE SYRIAN STALEMATE

Irina Tsukerman

BESA, Jan. 11, 2018

 

The US is currently at a great disadvantage in Syria. Despite blaming its increasing irrelevancy in the region on the Obama administration’s inaction in pursuit of the nuclear deal with Iran, the Trump White House chose to box itself into a corner by disregarding sage advice that would have significantly shifted the calculus of power. Rather than supporting the Kurds in Iraq and Syria, preventing Iran from building a land corridor connecting it to the Mediterranean, and thereby making it more difficult for Lebanon’s Hezbollah to smuggle weapons and people in and out, the Trump administration chose a strategy that empowered Tehran’s proxy, Baghdad; allowed Moscow to emerge as the great dealmaker; and served Turkey’s interests with respect to the Kurdish issue in Syria.

 

Without the land corridor, Iran would have been geographically poorly positioned to expand in the direction of Central Asia, or indeed anywhere else. Instead, it is now in the best possible position to do so. Furthermore, Bashar Assad has called US-backed groups traitors, and, echoing President Putin, asked American and Turkish troops to leave.

 

The Pentagon says a US presence will remain in Syria indefinitely, but should Iran and Russia-backed Assad turn serious, US troops might find themselves having to fight enemies on several fronts. It is unclear why the US, which has essentially accepted the premises that ISIS is finished and other terrorist groups are either subdued or subordinate to state actors, chooses to remain in the area without a clear plan to remove Iranian proxies. Washington seems to have no action plan to deal with Iran, though it is certainly a threat.

 

Assad is a pawn of Iran and Russia. Tehran is looking to get rid of him; Moscow is amenable to his staying – at least for now. Assad is content with his remaining fiefdom so long as the various groups that have subdivided Syria pay their dues, recognize Syrian sovereignty, and don’t create additional problems. Iran is getting exactly what it wanted: a land corridor to suit its expansionist plans, and a naval base that will give it access to strategic waterways. Once its navy becomes fully operational, it can then fight to deny access to everyone else. Resource-poor Syria was likely never the end unto itself for Tehran, but rather a means towards outward expansion.

 

The mullahs do not care how many countries are brought to ruin so long as their path is smooth and their access to the outside world guaranteed. That Tehran does not have complete control over Syria at the moment is irrelevant. Its object is not to lord it over Sunni Arabs, Kurds, and assorted others, but to assert Iranian hegemony and break through the sanctions and obstacles by finding new routes and creating new alliances. Iran’s Iraqi militias are spoiling for a fight. They are a battle-hardened, increasingly serious force against largely untrained Gulf troops who also lack proper intelligence training. Iran feels so much in control of the situation that it is looking to completely coopt the KRG in exchange for peace.

 

Russia is unquestionably the biggest winner of all. It has established itself as a credible power broker; has outsmarted and manipulated both the Obama and the Trump administrations; and is building a naval base, despite Russia’s poor internal economy, sanctions, and increasing loss of legitimacy in the West. It has returned to its former sphere of influence and is setting the rules of the game.

 

Moscow is also is very good at taking advantage of strategic errors made by others. Ankara, for example, which managed to ruin its relations with Assad early on in the civil war, will now have a great deal of trouble imposing its will inside the country. Russia is successfully building a relationship with the Syrian Kurds and assuming a protectorate over them even as Turkey seeks to isolate the YPG and deny the Kurds legitimacy in their struggle for autonomy. Russia is succeeding at bringing the Kurds to the table in peace process negotiations, something Turkey sought to deny…

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

 

                                                                       

Contents

HEZBOLLAH'S REIGN OF TERROR: FROM BEIRUT AND BEYOND

Charles Bybelezer

The Media Line, Jan. 21, 2018

 

The trial of two Hezbollah operatives accused of blowing up an Israeli tour bus in 2012, killing five Israelis and the Bulgarian driver, kicked off this week in Sofia. The suspects, Meliad Farah and Hassan El Hajj Hassan, are being tried in absentia after fleeing to Lebanon, which refuses to extradite them despite Interpol warrants for their arrest.

 

This comes against the backdrop of US Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement last week of the formation of a new task force to combat Hezbollah’s vast drug trafficking and money laundering empire, worth an estimated $1 billion annually. That decision followed a Politico report claiming that the Obama administration interfered with a Drug Enforcement Agency initiative—code-named Project Cassandra—to crack down on the Iranian-sponsored Shi'ite organization's illicit activities for fear of jeopardizing the nuclear deal with Iran.

 

Concurrently, the British House of Commons is slated on January 25 to discuss fully blacklisting Hezbollah, whose so-called "political arm" has until now been allowed to fundraise and recruit in major European capitals in a successful attempt to bifurcate the terrorist organization into legitimate civic and martial elements. While Israel, the US and, most recently, the Arab League have listed Hezbollah, in its entirety, as a terror group, the European Union, like the UK, banned only the organization's "military wing" in the wake of the Burgas attack. "While European governments have outlawed Hezbollah's armed body, this has no distinction because, as Hezbollah itself says, it is a monolithic organization," Benjamin Weinthal, a Fellow at the Washington-based Foundation For Defense of Democracies, explained to The Media Line. "In this respect, the Europeans have engaged in a sort of savvy appeasement of Hezbollah because they are afraid of it."

 

Hezbollah was created by the Iranian regime in the early 1980s, foremost to counter Israel’s presence at the time in southern Lebanon. However, its hatred for the West quickly manifested in the 1983 attack on American military barracks in Beirut which killed 241 US Marines and 58 French peacekeepers. In the ensuing decades Hezbollah has effectively taken control of the Lebanese government while developing into one of the Middle East’s most powerful military forces, currently engaged in the wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

 

According to Professor Efraim Inbar, President of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, "Hezbollah uses Arab communities abroad to make inroads not only in the Middle East, but also in Europe, South America and even Asia. They are there to establish cells that will eventually attack Jewish and Israeli targets," he told The Media Line, while noting that "Hezbollah's Islamic ideological underpinnings also motivate its expansion." Inbar further explained that while Hezbollah's overarching policies are coordinated by Iran, its local branches maintain freedom of action.

 

"Unit 133, for example, primarily focuses on the West Bank where it recruits local Palestinians, transfers them funds and then provides online training [on how to conduct attacks]," Yaakov Lappin, an Associate Researcher at Israel's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, told The Media Line. "It also has links to Sinai and Jordan and, [more broadly], has cells across the Middle East which promote terrorism against Israeli targets. The unit is a major concern of the Israeli intelligence community," he expounded, "and also is reportedly involved in drug trafficking, [which is] a source of financing."

 

In Germany, there are an estimated 1,000 Hezbollah members currently operating, with reports suggesting that additional combatants have been infiltrating the country by posing as Mideast refugees. This is part and parcel of Iran's attempt to further penetrate the continent, with German police this week having conducted wide-scale raids targeting members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps' elite Quds [Jerusalem] Force, who were reportedly conducting surveillance on Israeli and Jewish targets. Weinthal traces these developments to 1992, when Iranian and Hezbollah agents killed four Kurdish dissidents in a Berlin restaurant. While German authorities accused the highest levels of the Iranian government of complicity in the attack, the two countries reportedly reached a quid pro quo deal in which Tehran and Hezbollah would cease perpetrating violent attacks on German soil in exchange for being permitted to freely operate in the country.

 

Another contributing factor, Weinthal noted, is that "Europeans are so invested in the Iran nuclear deal that they do not want to act against its wholly owned subsidiary, Hezbollah. This is similar to why the Obama administration turned a blind eye to Hezbollah's illicit activities." To this end, (the) terror group is actively engaged in drug trafficking throughout the Americas, from the Tri-Border Area where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay converge, to Mexico, where it cooperates with local drug cartels. Using these funds along with those generated from sophisticated money laundering schemes, Hezbollah and, as a corollary, its patron Tehran, have been able to buy political influence throughout the region.

 

This was made evident by the previous Argentine government's attempted cover-up of the 1994 bombing of the Jewish AMIA community center in Buenos Aires, which followed the bombing of the Israeli Embassy two years earlier. An investigation into the attacks, which together killed over 100 people, was stymied for decades until, in 2015, federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman was slated to testify before a congressional panel that then-president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had concealed facts about Iran's and Hezbollah's involvement. Hours before Nisman was set to reveal his findings—including that in exchange for Kirchner's compliance, the Islamic Republic would supply her government with a steady stream of cheap oil—he was found shot to death in his apartment in what was first ruled a suicide but eventually reclassified as a murder.

 

The apparent assassination garnered global headlines and "caused a growing awareness in the West of Hezbollah's negative actions," Inbar stated, before qualifying to The Media Line that "there remains a big gap between existing legal frameworks, which place an emphasis on upholding human rights, and the [steps required] to crack down on terrorist groups." For his part, US President Donald Trump appears committed to bridging this gap by pressing Congress to pass stronger sanctions on Hezbollah. The American administration also directed the Treasury Department to place multi-million-dollar bounties on senior Hezbollah leaders, in a bid to hamper its illegal infrastructure…

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

 

 

Contents

THE FICTION THAT DESTABILIZES THE MIDDLE EAST

Evelyn Gordon

Jewish Press, Jan. 16, 2018

 

If I were compiling a foreign policy wish list for 2018, high on the list would be ending the fiction that Lebanon is an independent country rather than an Iranian satrapy governed by Iran’s foreign legion, Hezbollah. The Western foreign policy establishment maintains this fiction out of good intentions; it wants to protect innocent Lebanese from suffering the consequences of Hezbollah’s military provocations against its neighbors. But this policy has enabled Hezbollah to devastate several neighboring countries with impunity, and it’s paving the way to a war that will devastate Lebanon itself.

 

Sheltering Lebanon from the consequences of Hezbollah’s behavior is both a bipartisan and a transatlantic consensus. This was evident from the West’s wall-to-wall outrage in November, when Saudi Arabia abortively tried to end the pretense that Hezbollah doesn’t rule Lebanon by pressuring the organization’s fig leaf, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, to resign. The International Support Group for Lebanon, which includes the U.S., UN, European Union, Arab League, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, China, and Russia, issued a statement demanding that Lebanon be “shielded from tensions in the region.” The State Department’s acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, David Satterfield, demanded that Saudi Arabia “explain why Riyadh was destabilizing Lebanon.” French President Emmanuel Macron proclaimed it vital that Lebanon remains “disassociated” from regional crises. And the list goes on.

 

Yet the West has shown no similar concern for shielding the many Mideast countries which Lebanon’s de facto ruling party has destabilized for years. Thousands of Hezbollah troops have fought in Syria’s civil war, helping the Assad regime to slaughter hundreds of thousands of its own citizens. Hezbollah also has troops in Yemen to support the Houthi rebels in that country’s civil war, and it may have been involved in firing missiles from Yemen at Saudi Arabia. It has trained Shi’ite militias in Iraq and fought alongside them. And, of course, it has built an arsenal of some 150,000 missiles–bigger than that of most conventional armies–for eventual use against Israel.

 

Granted, Hezbollah isn’t Lebanon’s official ruling party; it’s part of a coalition government led by Hariri, who actually belongs to a rival party. But not only does Hezbollah have official veto power over all government decisions, it’s also the country’s dominant military force. Hariri has no power to stop Hezbollah from sending its troops all over the region; he can’t even stop it from doing as it pleases within Lebanon itself. One small example perfectly illustrates his impotence. In early December, Qais al-Khazali, the head of an Iraqi Shi’ite militia, was videotaped accompanying Hezbollah operatives to the Lebanese-Israeli border and proclaiming his militia’s willingness to help Hezbollah fight Israel. Hariri termed the visit a “flagrant violation” of Lebanese law and ordered the Lebanese army to make sure no such incident recurred. A few weeks later, as if to underscore Hariri’s powerlessness, Hezbollah took another senior commander from a Syrian Shi’ite militia to the border for a similar videotaped pledge.

 

Yet despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the West has insisted on maintaining the fiction that Lebanon is somehow independent of Hezbollah rather than ruled by it. And in so doing, Western countries have actually enabled Hezbollah’s aggression. Thanks to this fiction, the West gives hundreds of millions of dollars in both civilian and military aid to Lebanon. Civilian aid, of which the EU has provided over $1 billion in recent years, frees Hezbollah of the need to pay for the consequences of its actions, like caring for the 1.1 million Syrian refugees its own aggression helped drive from Syria into Lebanon. American military aid, of which Lebanon is the world’s sixth-largest recipient, has given Hezbollah access to training, intelligence, equipment and other military capabilities, since the Lebanese army shares everything it receives with the organization, whether willingly or under compulsion from Hezbollah’s greater strength…

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

 

Contents

On Topic Links

 

Pence Addresses Israeli Parliament (Video): Washington Post, Jan. 22, 2018—Vice President Pence delivers a speech to the Israeli parliament.

DEBATE: What Are the Implications of the Russian-Turkish Rapprochement?: Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos, BESA, Jan. 21, 2018—Q: In the aftermath of the failed coup d’état of July 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is embarking on an attempt to improve Ankara’s relations with non-Western countries to avoid international isolation. The Russian-Turkish rapprochement is a characteristic example.

Is Hezbollah Eating the Iranian People's Bread?: Yves Mamou, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 4, 2018—In the holy city of Qom in Iran, on December 30, 2017, anti-regime demonstrators shouted "Death to Hezbollah", "Aren't you ashamed Khamenei? Get out of Syria and take care of us", and "Not Gaza, or Lebanon".

Israeli Experts Weigh in on Obama-Hezbollah Revelation: Michael Friedson, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 24, 2017—US Attorney General Jeff Sessions is launching a review of a US Drug Enforcement Administration investigation code-named Project Cassandra, after Politico reported that the Obama administration covertly derailed the inquiry into Hezbollah's illicit global activities in order to ink the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran.

 

 

                                                              

 

 

WITH PALESTINIAN “HOUSE OF CARDS” UNDER THREAT, BDS SEEKS ELIMINATION OF ISRAEL

The Speech in Which Abbas Dug His Own Grave: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Jan. 15, 2018 — Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of  the Palestine Liberation Organization, has delivered a speech triggered by his rage at the  President of the United States  Donald Trump…

Having Missed the Boat, Palestinian Authority Is Sinking: Charles Bybelezer, The Media Line, Jan. 15, 2018— Given the turbulent political climate, one wonders whether Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has any regrets and, if so, if he would gladly roll back time a decade.

The Anti-Israel BDS Movement Seeks the Destruction of Israel, Not a Two-State Peace with Palestinians: Patrick Dunleavy, Fox News, Jan. 18, 2018— The anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement pretends to be working toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but in reality many of its supporters want to destroy Israel as a Jewish state.

Middle East Studies Association (as Usual) Singles Out Israel for Attack, Excuses Palestinian Perfidy: Mitchell Bard, Algemeiner, Jan. 3, 2018 — The Middle East Studies Association gave up all pretense of being a scholarly organization when it was taken over by the followers of Edward Said in the 1980s…

 

On Topic Links

 

99 Percent of “Palestine Refugees” Are Fake: Daniel Pipes, Jewish Press, Jan. 17, 2018

How a U.S. Quaker Group That Won the Nobel Peace Prize Ended Up on Israel's BDS Blacklist: Allison Kaplan Sommer, Ha’aretz, Jan. 8, 2018

Professor Claims Antisemitism and ‘Islamophobia’ Are Equal Threats: Cinnamon Stillwell, Algemeiner, Jan. 11, 2018

Academic Freedom Goes on Trial: George F. Will, Washington Post, Dec. 29, 2017

 

 

 

THE SPEECH IN WHICH ABBAS DUG HIS OWN GRAVE

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Arutz Sheva, Jan. 15, 2018

 

Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of  the Palestine Liberation Organization, has delivered a speech triggered by his rage at the President of the United States Donald Trump, going so far as to hurl the most bitter curse in the Arabic language at the POTUS:  "May your house be destroyed." This imprecation does not merely relate to someone's present home, but to all the members of his family being thrown into the street to lead lives of destitution, humiliation and shame. Only someone familiar with Middle Eastern culture understands the real significance of this curse.

 

The question that naturally rises is what happened that brought Abbas to the point where he is willing to burn his bridges with the US President and deliver a speech whose import is the severing of relations with the country which serves as chief funder of UNRWA, also pushing the US president towards a negative stand on the "Palestinian Issue."

 

"Jerusalem, Capital of Palestine," is an idea created after the Six Day War and further developed after the Oslo Accords were signed in September 1993. Arafat turned it into a mantra, while official Israel – Shimon Peres, Yossi Beilin, Alon Liel and their cohorts – did nothing to stop him. They told us that the expression is meant for a Palestinian Arab audience, i.e. for "internal use" only. "Millions of shahids are on the march to Jerusalem!!" Arafat shouted day and night, but they told us to ignore it, that these were empty words, merely a pipe dream.

 

The world, led by Europe, went along with this Palestinian house of cards, financing it with billions of dollars over the years in the hopes of turning it into a real concrete structure, simply ignoring reality. Europe supported the establishment of a "Palestinian peace-loving state alongside Israel" while forgetting the fact that  the PLO ideology calls for destroying the  Jewish State and that its logo includes the map of that "Palestine" reaching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

 

The world perpetuated the "Palestinian refugee problem" despite the fact that not one refugee remains of all the others who existed in the 1940s. Even Germany, which absorbed and rehabilitated the Sudetenland residents expelled from Czechoslovakia, did not demand that the Arab world do the same and absorb the "Palestinian refugees," whose problem was created as a result of the Arab armies' invasion of Israel one day after the Jewish State declared its independence. Europe saw Germany as the party responsible for the Sudeten refugee problem and its solution, but did not do the same for the Arab states and the Palestinian refugees. That double standard is what perpetuated the Palestinian Arab refugee problem, turning it into a central bargaining chip in negotiations between Israel and its neighbors, reaching the point where Ehud Barak agreed (in the Taba talks of 2001) to a "symbolic return" of tens of thousands of those refugees – and he was not the only one to agree to this idea.

 

The world did not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and allowed Jerusalem to turn into another major bargaining chip in the "Peace talks" whose only purpose – at least according to the Arab side – was to weaken and shrink the State of Israel and bring it to a state of collapse that would make the Jews lose hope and leave the region for the countries they had lived in before they came to rebuild their ancient homeland.

 

Enter Donald Trump, a businessman who deals with construction – not houses built of cards, but the kind meant to last for generations.  He understood that the Palestinian structure is made of cards, left standing only because of the world's going along with European leadership, American liberal circles, the Arab states and a few Israelis suffering from burn-out. Trump understood that the Palestinian ideological structure is full of holes and decided to pull two foundational cards out of the ephemeral structure: the Jerusalem card and the refugee card.

 

From the minute Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital the Palestinians – both Hamas and the PLO – began engaging in frenzied activities, disturbances on the ground and political maneuvering in international corridors. They understood that Jerusalem as Israel's capital is an insurance policy of sorts for the Jewish state.  To the Jews, Jerusalem is real, backed up by history and the Jewish religion, while it is nothing but "fake news" for the Arab and Muslim world. Jerusalem, however, is still not the capital of a non-established "Palestine" and remains a theoretical bone of contention, so that it could be  pulled out of the Palestinian house  of cards without Abbas burning his bridges with the United States.

 

And then Trump pulled the refugee card from the house of cards by announcing that he would cease to fund, support and perpetuate it. That act is a thousand times worse than recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, because the refugee issue has been capitalized on for seventy years, with billions of dollars poured into it, all going to waste. UNRWA operates a massive system of wage-earners, schools and aid services running on American money, whose cessation is sure to limit the organizations' ability to breathe life into the "refugee problem". Without adequate funding, the "refugees" are liable to spread out and be absorbed in the areas to which they move on, within the Arab world and outside it. The "refugee problem" and its threat to Israel might even disappear…

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

 

Contents

HAVING MISSED THE BOAT, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY IS SINKING

Charles Bybelezer

The Media Line, Jan. 15, 2018

 

Given the turbulent political climate, one wonders whether Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has any regrets and, if so, if he would gladly roll back time a decade. In 2008, the PA boss was firmly entrenched in Ramallah despite a year earlier having been unceremoniously—that is, violently—ejected by Hamas from Gaza in an internecine war. Nevertheless, the world was seemingly at Abbas’ doorstep, his Muqata compound the address where kings, heads of state and a never-ending parade of diplomats flocked to with a view to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, considered at the time by many as the central malaise plaguing the Middle East.

 

It was within this context that then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert offered Abbas a fully comprehensive peace deal that would have created a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with only minor land swaps, and with east Jerusalem as its capital. A limited—read: symbolic—number of Palestinian refugees would have been allowed to “return” to Israel. But when Olmert, after a score of meetings, urged Abbas to sign on the dotted line, the PA leader said he needed to consult with other officials but never got back to the Israeli premier.

 

Sometime later, Abbas was the first of his colleagues to receive a phone call from newly-inaugurated U.S. President Barack Obama, who vowed to put “daylight” between Washington and Jerusalem. This manifested in pressuring Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to implement an unprecedented ten-month construction freeze in Jewish communities located in the West Bank. But Abbas still refused to negotiate for the first nine months of the building suspension and, when he finally did, demanded that the policy be renewed indefinitely. It was an untenable political situation for Netanyahu precluding the possibility of talks getting off the ground. This pattern repeated itself during Obama’s second term, when a new initiative, spearheaded by then-secretary of state John Kerry, forced Netanyahu to release, in four tranches, more than 100 terrorists from Israeli jails. But once again Abbas found a pretext to walk away from the peace process.

 

By then, the Middle East had descended into total chaos in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring, while Shiite Iran was flexing its muscles throughout the region. The outbreak of wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and beyond had little to do with Israel or solving Palestinian “problem,” effectively marginalizing the conflict. This confluence of events, in turn, stimulated a rapprochement between Sunni Muslim nations and the Jewish state, which share a desire both to curb Tehran’s expansionism and potential nuclearization and counter the threat posed by terrorist groups such as the Islamic State. As the geopolitical situation slowly changed, countries that previously supported the Palestinians unconditionally no longer viewed matters in shades of black and white, but, rather, increasingly in blue and white; this, prompted by a growing acknowledgment that Israel, as opposed to the PA, has much to offer to regimes that likewise view the Islamic Republic as an existential threat.

 

Enter U.S. President Donald Trump, who is perhaps the least ideological—and unpredictable—American leader in history. While his White House has invested political capital into jump-starting the peace process, President Trump is not to be beholden to any preconceived notions nor does he appear willing to pander to Palestinian sensibilities. This was made stark by his recognition in December of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, to which the Palestinians reacted with unhinged fury. Instead of accepting the new playing field and adapting, the PA adopted a scorched-earth policy, effectively boycotting Washington and threatening to withdraw recognition of Israel, thereby abrogating the Oslo Accords. This, notwithstanding the apparent tacit acceptance by Arab states of President Trump’s Jerusalem declaration, and while the U.S. Congress moves to cut-off aid to the PA over its “pay-for-slay” policy of disbursing salaries to Palestinian prisoners.

 

Domestically, the situation is not much better, with a recent survey showing that some seventy percent of Palestinians want Abbas to resign. Under his rule, the PA has lost legitimacy within the eyes of its people, who near-uniformly view the leadership as a corrupt kleptocracy unable to advance their interests. Specifically, the West Bank economy is completely underdeveloped and the territory lacks almost all of the basic infrastructure of a functioning state despite the tens of billions of dollars in foreign aid that have flooded into the PA’s coffers. Moreover, the Palestinians remain divided between the West Bank and Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, with the latest attempts to forge national unity, like those before them, having thus far amounted to nothing.

 

According to Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Gilead, formerly the director of policy and political-military affairs at the Israeli Ministry of Defense, the PA leader does not believe that his positions are being adequately considered, leading to increased inflexibility as his days become numbered. “This may be the last call, as Abbas is very old and has said he may not be here next year. So it looks like there is no hope for the peace process. “Abbas may not take any concrete steps moving forward,” Gilead expounded, “but he does not have to. He is telling us what his legacy will be. As such, Israel should reconsider its positions and try to find way to forge a peace agreement with him or it may need to abandon the process entirely. Nobody knows who or what will come after Abbas and whether they will have the legitimacy to deal with Israel. It is bad news that it appears as though he will be leaving no options for peace.” Abbas has found himself stuck between a rock and a hard place, and while European nations, along with Russia and China, may agree to step in and fill part of the vacuum left by the U.S., without the firm backing of Sunni countries, who are closely aligned with Washington, there appears little chance for the PA to secure a soft landing.

 

“Abbas appears to be desperate,” Dr. Anat Kurz, Director of Research at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies and a former member of track-II Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, told The Media Line. “He is shooting in all directions and acting as if there is nothing to lose with the American administration or in terms of resuming talks with Israel. The Palestinians feel as though they have lost the ability to influence the course of developments,” she elaborated, “not only because it appears the international community is exhausted after years of failed efforts to forge a settlement, but also because of what has happened in the region, mainly the ongoing tensions between the Sunni Gulf monarchies and Shiite Iran. “There are also the wars going on throughout the Middle East,” Kurz concluded, “which has lessened the importance of the Palestinian issue. Given all of these elements, Abbas does not know who to turn to or how to proceed.”…

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

 

                                                                       

Contents

THE ANTI-ISRAEL BDS MOVEMENT SEEKS THE DESTRUCTION

OF ISRAEL, NOT A TWO-STATE PEACE WITH PALESTINIANS

Patrick Dunleavy

Fox News, Jan. 18, 2018

 

The anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement pretends to be working toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but in reality many of its supporters want to destroy Israel as a Jewish state. For this reason, BDS has attracted support from terrorists, convicted killers and anti-Semites in the U.S. and abroad. In fact, at many of BDS demonstrations – like ones filmed by the Investigative Project on Terrorism – demonstrators make no secret of their aims. “And the people of Palestine will wipe the Zionist entity (Israel) off all the world maps” one demonstration leader shouts on the IPT-recorded video.

 

On the same video demonstrators chant: “We don’t want no two-state, we want 48,” referring to 1948, before Israel was created from the British colony of Palestine. And for good measure, they chant: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” meaning a new Palestinian state will go from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea and swallow up all of Israel. And yet other chants: “Death to the peace accords,” “smash the settler Zionist state,” and “there is only one solution, intifada revolution.”

 

Law enforcement officials in the U.S. should keep a close eye on demonstrators like these, knowing that inflammatory anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric often leads to violence. The New York City Police Department and other law enforcement agencies have investigated a number of plots directed specifically at Jewish citizens and institutions. BDS seeks to isolate Israel from world, ostensibly to protest Israel’s presence in the West Bank and to call for creation of a Palestinian state. BDS seeks: a worldwide boycott against Israeli products, universities and cultural institutions; divestment from companies that provide equipment to the Israeli military; and international economic sanctions against Israel.

 

The willingness of young leaders of many BDS-supporting groups, such as the Blacks for Palestine, to look to violent terrorists for support exposes BDS’s claim of a commitment to nonviolence as a fraud. Several U.S. domestic terrorists who are now serving life prison sentences for killing law enforcement officers have announced their support for BDS with the goal of destroying Israel. Inmates such as Herman Bell, Anthony Bottom, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Clark Edward Squire – who were members of the Black Liberation Army – as well as the Weather Underground’s David Gilbert, have posted statements calling for the end of “US/Zionist Imperialism in Palestine.” They also have encouraged the use of any means necessary – including violence – to achieve the goal of “driving the Zionist oppressors out of your land.”

 

Gilbert, incarcerated for killing two police officers and a Brinks security guard in 1981, has received visits from several advocates for the Palestinian Solidarity Movement, now known as the International Solidarity Movement. While the movement states that it is nonviolent, it goes on to say: “our nonviolent approach does not mean that we have the right to dictate to Palestinians how to resist military occupation and apartheid.” In other words, we don’t condone violence. But if you use it we’re OK with it. Another of Gilbert’s prison visitors is a leader in the Syracuse Peace Council, which has advocated for the BDS movement’s campaign to isolate Israel economically and politically…

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

 

 

Contents

MIDDLE EAST STUDIES ASSOCIATION (AS USUAL) SINGLES

OUT ISRAEL FOR ATTACK, EXCUSES PALESTINIAN PERFIDY

Mitchell Bard

Algemeiner, Jan. 3, 2018

 

The Middle East Studies Association gave up all pretense of being a scholarly organization when it was taken over by the followers of Edward Said in the 1980s, and began propagating Orwellian interpretations of Middle East history and politics to advance a political agenda that promotes or rationalizes Islamism, parrots Palestinian propaganda, and engages in unbridled attacks on Israel’s legitimacy and the West. Nowhere was this more evident than last month’s annual conference of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) in Washington, DC, at the overflow panel, “Thinking Palestine Intersectionally,” featuring Sherene Seikaly, Noura Erekat, Samera Esmeir, Judith Butler and Angela Davis.

 

I don’t recall hearing the word “scholar” in the introductions and discussion, but the word “activist” was repeatedly used to describe the participants and their work. The panel was organized by Seikaly, a historian from UC Santa Barbara, who is a co-founder and co-editor of Jadaliyya, “an independent ezine produced by the Arab Studies Institute.” If you visit the site, you will be invited to sign up for a newsletter and will be requested to choose your country. It appears that every country in the world is listed except one — Israel. One country that does not exist — Palestine — is listed.

 

Noura Erekat, a co-editor of Jadaliyya, is a law professor who admits that she is an activist. A gifted speaker, Erekat rattled off the standard leftist clichés about Israeli occupation, militarism, racism and settler colonialism. She displayed her ignorance of basic history by claiming armed groups took control of the PLO in 1968.Erekat denounced Israeli actions in Gaza, omitting any reference to the Hamas rocket bombardment that precipitated the IDF operations, lauded convicted liar and terrorist Rasmea Odeh as a freedom fighter who empowered Arab women, and defended the virulent Israel-hater Linda Sarsour. Perhaps the best example of her extremism was repeating the big lie that Israel murdered Yasser Arafat.

 

Before getting to the predictable bashing of the Trump administration, Erekat labeled US support for Israel “emblematic of everything that is wrong with the United States.” She praised the Black Lives Matter movement for doubling down on support for Palestinians because of their shared opposition to “structural racialized violence.” The audience laughed when she ridiculed a feminist whose New York Times op-ed expressed concern that “my support for Israel will bar me from the feminist movement” because, inter alia, the International Women’s Strike platform called for the “decolonization of Palestine” as part of “the beating heart of this new feminist movement.” Erekat bragged that the Palestinian cause is rising, while support for Israel declines. As evidence, she cited a Pew survey revealing Democrats as less sympathetic to Israel and more supportive of Palestinians than Republicans. But one poll is hardly a trend and, as I’ve written elsewhere, Democratic support for Israel is actually at the same level that it was in the 1970s.

 

Panelist Judith Butler, whose field is comparative literature rather than Middle East studies, might be more aptly called a specialist in contortion studies, given her effort to redefine antisemitism to exclude BDS. Butler claimed that critics of Israel are not antisemitic, but Zionists could be antisemitic if they support Israel. Angered that people she finds abhorrent, such as Steve Bannon, would be lauded as pro-Israel, she was nostalgic for the day when the UN voted to equate Zionism with racism, and was unhappy with its 1991 repudiation.  As part of her jujitsu interpretation of BDS, Butler maintained that BDS advocates, as supporters of social justice, must oppose antisemitism, as if there is no contradiction in supporting a campaign denying Jews the right to self-determination in their homeland while condemning antisemitism. Her explanation? One should oppose racism and colonialism, but the boycott targets only Israeli “institutions,” not Jews or Israelis. Setting aside her ignorance of “colonialism,” and Zionism’s historic opposition to it, who does she imagine that BDS will harm other than the Jews and Israelis who staff these “institutions”?…

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

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

99 Percent of “Palestine Refugees” Are Fake: Daniel Pipes, Jewish Press, Jan. 17, 2018—In the words of a veteran Washington hand, the problem of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the main UN agency dealing with Palestinians, is always important but never urgent.

How a U.S. Quaker Group That Won the Nobel Peace Prize Ended Up on Israel's BDS Blacklist: Allison Kaplan Sommer, Ha’aretz, Jan. 8, 2018—A Quaker organization that received the 1947 Nobel Peace Prize for its work assisting and rescuing victims of the Nazis is among the blacklisted groups whose senior activists have been barred from entering Israel. Peace activists in Israel who have worked with the group expressed surprise at the decision.

Professor Claims Antisemitism and ‘Islamophobia’ Are Equal Threats: Cinnamon Stillwell, Algemeiner, Jan. 11, 2018—Are “Islamophobia” and antisemitism comparable? Reza Zia-Ebrahimi, a senior lecturer in history at King’s College London, maintains that the answer is yes.

Academic Freedom Goes on Trial: George F. Will, Washington Post, Dec. 29, 2017—Wisconsin’s Supreme Court can soon right a flagrant wrong stemming from events set in motion in 2014 at Milwaukee’s Marquette University by Cheryl Abbate. Although just a graduate student, she already had a precocious aptitude for academic nastiness.

                                                              

 

 

ABBAS S’EXPRIME

  

    

 

 

 

LE DISCOURS DE HAINE DE ABBAS CONTRE LE MONDE A

ÉTÉ CONDAMNÉ : “IL AGIT COMME S’IL N’A RIEN À PERDRE”

Infos Israel, 15 jan., 2017

 

Une source importante dans l’entourage du Premier ministre Netanyahu, en visite en Inde, répond au discours de haine d’Abu Mazen, la veille contre les Etats Unis, Israël mais aussi l’Europe :

 

‘C’est une perte personnelle et politique. Il agit comme s’il n’a rien à perdre.’ selon la source proche de Netanyahou suite aux propos gravissimes du président de l’Autorité palestinienne, le président Mahmoud Abbas, au cours de laquelle il a maudit le Président et lui a souhaité d’être détruit.

 

Pendant ce temps, l’agence de presse palestinienne a retiré les mots de malédiction contre Trump du discours d’Abou Mazen.

 

Hier, le président Mahmoud Abbas a parlé lors d’un conseil de l’OLP à la suite de la reconnaissance des Etats-Unis envers Jérusalem comme capitale d’Israël et a attaqué le président Trump, mais aussi les israéliens et les Européens.

 

“Ils veulent faire immigrer ici tous les Juifs d’Europe et préserver les intérêts des Européens dans la région. Ils ont demandé aux Pays-Bas, qui a la plus grande flotte du monde, de transférer les Juifs, ici, en Palestine.” a accusé Abu Mazen dans le contexte de la Déclaration Balfour.

 

” Israël est un projet colonial qui n’a rien à voir avec les Juifs. Trump, qui a annoncé son intention de couper l’aide aux Palestiniens”.

 

“Je vois un tweet sur Twitter”, a déclaré M. Abbas, “Nous ne donnerons pas d’argent aux Palestiniens parce qu’ils refusent de négocier”. “Que ta maison soit détruite”, maudit-il Trump. “Où m’as-tu offert cela ? Au téléphone ? À la télévision ? “

 

Abbas continua sa diatribe en insistant : “Jérusalem est notre capitale éternelle, quoi qu’il arrive. C’est pour cette raison que nous sommes réunis ici  pour le défendre. Nous sommes dans une position sensible. Que pouvons-nous faire de compromis plus tard ? L’état lui-même ? Abu Dis comme capitale ? Avaient fini. Ici nous restons”.

 

“Nous ne ferons plus les erreurs du passé – de 1948 et 1967 -. Jérusalem et Al Aqsa, dont parlait Mohammed, sont l’un des lieux les plus sacrés après La Mecque et Médine.

 

Abou Mazen a poursuivi : ‘Nous n’accepterons pas les accords que les Etats-Unis nous présenteront, ni sa médiation après le crime qu’il a commis contre Jérusalem. Nous n’accepterons pas d’être une autorité sans autorité. Jérusalem a été retiré de la table par le tweet de M. Trump ‘, poursuit Abu Mazen.

 

” Nous ne quitterons pas nos villages. C’est notre pays. Nous n’acceptons pas les commandes de quiconque. Nous adhérons à notre peuple, notre terre. Nous disons à Trump : Nous n’accepterons pas son plan. L’affaire du siècle est devenue la gifle du siècle.”

 

“L’actuel ambassadeur américain à Tel Aviv David Friedman dit qu’il n’y a pas d’occupation. Qu’Israël construit sur sa propre terre. Il a demandé au Département d’Etat de s’abstenir d’utiliser le mot «occupation». Ils m’ont demandé de le recevoir. J’ai dit : ‘Lui ? Non, je ne vais pas le recevoir. Pas ici, pas à Amman et pas à Washington…

 

“Nous continuerons le dialogue avec les Israéliens parce que c’est utile.   Certains dans le public israélien sont en faveur de la paix et certains s’y opposent. Je l’ai toujours soutenu dès 1977 lors de la réunion du Conseil national au Caire. Avec qui voulons-nous la paix ? Israël. Même si (le Premier ministre Benjamin) Netanyahu ne l’est pas. “

 

 

 

 

 

LE VRAI VISAGE DE MAHMOUD ABBAS

Dr Edy Cohen

Jerusalem Post, 4 nov. 2017

 

 

Le livre de M. Abbas se base sur sa thèse de doctorat, présentée en 1982 à l’institut d’Etudes orientales de Moscou. Il a fait l’objet d’une première publication à Amman en 1984, puis de deux rééditions au Caire en 1997, et une à Ramallah en 2011. Dans sa thèse, Abbas développe une véritable théorie du complot tirant ses sources sur des fragments sélectifs : il s’attaque ainsi aux sionistes qui auraient gonflé le nombre de victimes de la Shoah à des fins politiques, et s’appuie, pour étayer sa thèse, sur les propos de négationnistes connus.

 

Depuis que Mahmoud Abbas a pris ses fonctions, la question de son statut de négationniste a été maintes fois soulevée. Mais, le 27 avril 2014, contre toute attente, le président palestinien déclare, dans un discours sans précédent, que la Shoah constitue « le crime le plus horrible commis contre l’humanité ». Abbas fait alors valoir que la Shoah résulte de la discrimination ethnique et du racisme, ce que rejetaient absolument les Palestiniens jusque-là. Cependant, le livre du dirigeant palestinien contredit complètement son discours. Tout d’abord, il faut souligner, que le terme de négationnisme ne renvoie pas seulement au refus des meurtres commis ; il désigne également la minimisation de leur ampleur, ou le fait d’occulter délibérément la responsabilité de leurs auteurs. Et c’est par ce deuxième aspect que le négationnisme d’Abou Mazen s’exprime.

 

Le sous-titre du livre de Mahmoud Abbas est lui-même explicite : Les contacts secrets entre le nazisme et le sionisme. Tout au long de son ouvrage, Abbas tisse une trame aux nombreux relents antisémites : selon lui, le sionisme est l’ultime responsable de la destruction des juifs d’Europe, une déclaration que les nazis eux-mêmes auraient sans doute approuvée. A l’évocation de la question des juifs dans les pays arabes, il fait complètement l’impasse sur leurs souffrances, créant une réalité fantasmée non historique, politiquement motivée. Nul besoin d’être très calé en histoire pour y déceler une œuvre de propagande tendancieuse, truffée de messages antisémites plus ou moins explicites.

En dépit, ou peut-être à cause de cela, le livre continue de se vendre dans les pays arabes, et d’être utilisé comme support d’enseignement dans les écoles palestiniennes. Enfin, le fait même que le texte soit toujours disponible sur le site personnel d’Abou Mazen, montre clairement que les déclarations à la presse de ce dernier concernant la Shoah ne sont rien d’autre qu’un écran de fumée.

 

En cela, le Raïs est totalement en phase avec l’opinion de la rue palestinienne : selon elle, celui qui reconnaît Shoah doit être suspecté de sympathie pour les juifs, et condamné. On ne s’étonnera pas, donc, que ce chapitre de la Seconde Guerre mondiale ne soit absolument pas enseigné dans les Territoires palestiniens et une bonne partie du monde arabe. Le sujet lui-même est généralement tabou. Cela s’est d’ailleurs confirmé récemment, lorsqu’un professeur de l’université al-Quds a emmené ses étudiants visiter les camps de la mort en Pologne. A son retour, l’enseignant a été contraint de démissionner.

 

Dès l’introduction de son ouvrage, Abbas aborde la question du nombre de victimes. Il affirme que, si beaucoup de « rumeurs » tablent sur six millions de morts, selon lui, rien ni personne ne peut vraiment confirmer ou infirmer ce chiffre : « Le nombre de victimes juives peut être six millions, et il peut être beaucoup plus faible, moins d’un million ». Ou alors : « Beaucoup de chercheurs ont examiné le nombre de ceux qui sont morts – six millions – et ils sont arrivés à des résultats étonnants, selon lesquels le nombre des victimes juives se compte par centaines de milliers ». Il prend soin toutefois de souligner : « Le débat sur le nombre des juifs ne saurait en aucun cas porter atteinte à la laideur de l’acte accompli contre eux, parce que le principe de tuer un homme – un seul homme – est un crime qui ne peut être accepté dans le monde civilisé, ce n’est pas humain ».

 

Pour appuyer son propos, Abbas cite également le négationniste bien connu, Roger Delorme : « Il n’existe aucune preuve à ce jour que le nombre de victimes juives dans les camps nazis ait atteint quatre ou six millions ; au début, les sionistes parlaient de 12 millions ; par la suite, ce nombre a été réduit et a diminué de moitié, passant à six millions ; plus tard, le nombre a diminué encore davantage pour passer à quatre millions. Après tout, il se peut que les Allemands aient tué ou exterminé un nombre plus important de juifs qu’il n’y en avait en réalité dans le monde à cette époque. Et la vérité est que le nombre est bien inférieur à celui des millions que l’on fait valoir. »

 

Plus tard, Abbas cite La destruction des juifs d’Europe, ouvrage paru en 1961, rédigé par l’éminent historien Raul Hilberg, et prétend à tort que ce dernier estime le nombre de victimes juives à seulement 896 000. L’estimation de Hilberg est en réalité loin d’être aussi basse puisqu’il estime le nombre de victimes de la Shoah à cinq millions : « La communauté juive mondiale a perdu un tiers de sa population et a glissé d’un niveau record de 16 millions à environ 11 millions ». Une erreur innocente ? Peu probable.

 

Comment expliquer alors cette falsification délibérée des chiffres ? Pour le Dr Abbas, les choses sont claires : il était dans l’intérêt du mouvement sioniste de gonfler le nombre de victimes, pour tirer du conflit des bénéfices aussi élevés que possible. Ce chiffre de six millions était donc destiné à éveiller les remords et la sympathie de l’opinion mondiale pour la cause sioniste.

 

Même lorsqu’il s’agit des chambres à gaz, Abbas continue de s’appuyer sur des « faits » et « études » de négationnistes, en citant par exemple le Français Robert Faurisson : « Dans une étude scientifique, le professeur français Robert Faurisson a réfuté l’utilisation de ces chambres pour tuer, et a affirmé avec certitude qu’elles étaient uniquement destinées à la crémation des corps, par crainte de la propagation dans les zones voisines de maladies et de bactéries. »

 

Abbas s’interroge ensuite sur l’identité de l’« autre visage », ce partenaire ou agent des nazis, coresponsables des crimes perpétrés pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale.

 

Il commence par accuser les puissances occidentales d’avoir « présenté un plan pour l’élaboration finale des résultats de la guerre, et tout ce qui en découle ». Selon lui, les puissances occidentales ont commis une faute en se définissant comme « les auteurs et les victimes, puis en s’imposant en tant que juges et arbitres définitifs de ces crimes. Ils ont utilisé les détails, les événements et les faits comme bon leur semblait, choisissant d’ignorer tout ce qu’ils voulaient ignorer – les noms, les personnes, les institutions, les organisations et les Etats ». Abou Mazen poursuit : Finalement, ils ont accusé les dirigeants du nazisme de tous les crimes qui ont eu lieu au cours de cette guerre, et persécuté ceux d’entre eux qui étaient toujours en vie, pour une durée illimitée, sans aucune prescription. Le wagon Nuremberg a continué, […] et un acteur capital dans les crimes commis pendant la guerre a été laissé dans l’ombre […] par conséquent, ces pays n’ont traité que la moitié de la vérité, et ont délibérément négligé l’autre moitié.

 

Pour le Raïs, il est évident que l’extermination a été perpétrée par deux entités associées. Mais qui est donc ce mystérieux partenaire dans les crimes commis ? D’après Abbas, aucun doute possible : il s’agit du sionisme et de ses dirigeants. Ils sont le « partenaire capital » qui porte la responsabilité de la Shoah avec les nazis.

 

Le livre d’Abou Mazen se concentre essentiellement sur l’analyse de la relation entre le mouvement sioniste et le nazisme depuis la signature du soi-disant « accord de transfert » d’août 1933, qui a permis le passage de dizaines de milliers de juifs allemands et de leurs biens en Palestine mandataire. Il s’agit donc principalement d’un acte d’accusation tous azimuts du mouvement sioniste et de ses dirigeants, tel David Ben Gourion, présentés comme des « associés fondamentaux » dans la destruction des juifs d’Europe. Le leader de l’Autorité palestinienne soutient même que ces sionistes ont ignoré la Shoah et collaboré avec Hitler, encourageant l’antisémitisme et la persécution des juifs en Europe. Leur but ultime : accroître l’immigration en terre d’Israël afin d’accélérer la croissance du Foyer national juif en Palestine mandataire. Ils auraient même délibérément saboté le sauvetage des communautés juives de Roumanie, de Hongrie, de Slovaquie et des pays baltes.

 

Abbas fait alors part de sa stupéfaction : « Comment imaginer que le mouvement sioniste, qui visait à protéger une nation, deviendrait plus tard la cause de sa destruction ? » Sa réponse se révèle tout aussi scandaleuse que la question : « La pensée sioniste déclarée croit fermement en la pureté de la race juive, tout comme Hitler croyait en la pureté de la race aryenne. Le sionisme appelle à une solution fondamentale et définitive de la question juive en Europe par l’intermédiaire de l’immigration en Palestine. Hitler le souhaitait également et l’a mis en œuvre […] David Ben Gourion a défini le mouvement sioniste uniquement comme un mouvement d’immigration, et quiconque n’émigrait pas était un hérétique et n’était pas considéré comme juif. »

 

D’après Mahmoud Abbas, les sionistes et les nazis ne sont donc pas seulement des associés, ils sont pratiquement une seule et même entité. Tous les moyens étaient bons pour encourager les juifs à immigrer, y compris l’antisémitisme et la coopération avec Hitler : « Il est bien connu que la motivation de l’antisémitisme est la persécution et la répression, et c’est sans aucun doute souhaitable pour le mouvement sioniste. On en arrive à la conclusion que ces idées ont autorisé tous les racistes dans le monde, et en premier lieu Hitler et les nazis, à faire ce que souhaitaient les juifs pour assurer l’immigration juive en Palestine. Le mouvement sioniste a exigé encore plus de victimes, pour se poser à égalité avec les victimes d’autres peuples pendant la guerre : l’augmentation du nombre de victimes allait renforcer son “stock” à la fin de la guerre, lorsque les dépouilles allaient être départagées. »

 

Abbas a réponse à tout. A la question de savoir comment il se fait que personne n’ait jamais entendu parler de ces crimes odieux, et que de tels agissements soient restés méconnus, l’auteur ne se démonte pas : en plus de l’appui des puissances occidentales, il soutient que quiconque tentait de rendre public le complot était éliminé par l’establishment israélien. Selon lui, le parti Mapaï au pouvoir avait refusé d’accorder des droits à l’opposition politique ; lorsque celle-ci a commencé à découvrir la vérité sur les contacts secrets avec Hitler, toute personne qui abordait le sujet, même par allusions, le payait de sa vie.

 

Mais, par la suite, le complot aurait été dévoilé. Abbas laisse alors carrément vagabonder son imagination : il affirme qu’Adolf Eichmann a été enlevé par le Mossad pour avoir révélé la conspiration dans le magazine Life ; il ajoute également qu’Israël Kasztner aurait été tué par les forces de sécurité israéliennes pour avoir osé révéler les détails de la conspiration au tribunal. Il est ensuite question d’un troisième homme qu’il appelle le Dr Kirin (il ne fournit ni prénom, ni date). Sur le point de publier les documents relatifs à la fameuse coopération entre le mouvement sioniste et le mouvement nazi, ce journaliste allemand aurait été assassiné dans sa chambre d’hôtel à Berlin avant de pouvoir passer à l’acte.

 

Même lorsqu’ils ont un léger fondement, les arguments d’Abbas se révèlent partiels et gravement déformés. Prenons par exemple l’enlèvement d’Eichmann : ce dernier n’est jamais présenté comme l’un des fugitifs nazis les plus importants en raison de son rôle crucial d’architecte de la Solution finale en Europe. Eichmann est simplement quelqu’un qui « faisait du tort » et il a été enlevé pour avoir révélé le complot sioniste-nazi. Le lien entre l’enlèvement d’Eichmann et ses déclarations à la revue Life est très ténu ; il a été enlevé le 11 mai 1960, et le magazine Life publiait les déclarations en novembre et décembre de la même année. En d’autres termes, plusieurs mois après sa capture. De même, concernant ses attaques infondées ou exagérées sur le mouvement sioniste, nous voyons ici comment Abbas peut déformer et orienter les faits afin de servir son récit venimeux.

 

 

 

 

ABBAS AVOUE AVOIR REFUSÉ UN TRAITÉ DE PAIX EN 2008

Hava

J Forum, 22 nov., 2017

 

 

Abbas a fait ces commentaires lors d’une interview sur la chaîne israélienne Channel 10 sur les pourparlers de paix de 2000 et 2008, qui a été diffusée  en trois volets.

 

Selon Abbas et Ehud Olmert, Olmert, le Premier ministre d’Israël en 2008,  a présenté à Abbas en Septembre cette année là dans le cadre de négociations secrètes, une carte qui définissait les frontières du futur État Palestinien.

 

Abbas a affirmé qu’il “l’a rejetée de la main” au motif qu’il n’était pas un expert en cartographie, et parce que les scandales internes autour d’Olmert signifiaient qu’il allait bientôt quitter ses fonctions (Olmert a plus tard été reconnu coupable de corruption).

 

Bien que Olmert et d’autres dirigeants palestiniens ont déjà dit que Abbas a rejeté une proposition de paix, c’est la première fois que le président de l’Autorité palestinienne l’a admis officiellement.

 

À 24′:05” de la vidéo, du reportage de canal 10 Raviv Drucker le journaliste demande à Abbas: “Dans le plan que vous avait présenté Olmert, Israël annexait 6,3% de la Cisjordanie et en compensation les Palestiniens avec 5,8 % [tirée Israël d’avant 1967 ]. Qu’est-ce que vous avez répondu ? “ «Je ne suis pas d’accord,” a répondu Abbas. “Je l’ai rejeté d’emblée.”

 

À 26:53 de la vidéo, Drucker insiste : Drucker: “Mais pourquoi n’avez-vous pas accepté l’offre d’Olmert?

 

Abbas: Il [Olmert] m’a dit: “Voici une carte. Regardez-la ? C’est tout. »Je respectais sa décision de ne pas me donner la carte. Mais comment pourrions-nous signer quelque chose qui n’a pas donné, qui n’a pas été discuté?

 

L’existence de l’offre de paix a d’abord été rapportée par le journaliste Avi Issacharoff en 2013, quand Olmert lui a confié qu’il avait présenté à Abbas une proposition à l’aide d’une carte lors d’un entretien à la résidence du Premier ministre.

 

Peu de temps après la proposition de M. Olmert, Abbas a redessiné sa version de la carte de mémoire, afin de s’assurer que lui et Olmert aient la même.

 

Comme Issacharoff l’a écrit: Abbas a fait taire ceux qui étaient présents, afin qu’il puisse se concentrer. Il voulait esquisser la carte d’Olmert de mémoire. Le Premier ministre israélien lui avait dit que tant que Abou Mazen n’avait pas signé la carte de ses initiales pour entériner l’accord, Olmert ne pouvait pas lui en donner une copie.

 

Abou Mazen a pris un morceau de papier en-tête de l’Autorité palestinienne et a tracé dessus les frontières de l’Etat palestinien de mémoire. Abbas a dessiné les blocs de colonies qu’Israël conserverait: Le bloc d’Ariel, le Bloc Jérusalem-Maaleh Adumim (y compris E1), et de Gush Etzion. Un total de 6,3% de la Cisjordanie.

 

Puis Abbas a également tracé les territoires qu’Israël proposait d’offrir en échange : Dans le domaine de Afula-Tirat Zvi, dans la région de Lachish, la zone proche de Har Adar, et dans le désert de Judée et deu pourtour de Gaza. Un total de 5,8% de la Cisjordanie.

 

Abu Mazen a écrit sur le côté gauche de l’en-tête les pourcentages mais s’en souvenait de façon incorrecte  (6,8% et 5,5%) et au dos, il a écrit le reste des détails de la proposition: un passage sûr entre Gaza et la Cisjordanie par un tunnel, un comité conjoint pour administrer les lieux saints, la suppression de la présence israélienne dans la vallée du Jourdain et l’absorption de 5.000 réfugiés palestiniens, à raison de 1000 par an sur cinq ans, à l’intérieur de la Ligne verte.

 

Les deux hommes se sont rencontrés 36 fois, principalement à Jérusalem et une fois à Jéricho, et sont arrivés à une formule qui devait être la base d’un accord durable entre les deux parties. Mais finalement des accords de paix entre Israël et les Palestiniens n’ont pas été signés, malgré la proposition généreuse faite par Olmert. Officiellement, l’Autorité palestinienne n’a pas répondu à cette proposition. Le lendemain, M. Abbas a annulé les pourparlers, disant qu’il devait assister à une réunion en Jordanie.

 

Le Négociateur en chef palestinien Saeb Erekat avait un souvenir similaire lorsqu’il a été interrogé par Al Jazeera en 2009: Olmert, qui a dévoilé les termes de sa proposition à Abu Mazen, a offert de baser les contours de la Palestine sur les frontières de 1967, mais a déclaré: “Nous allons prendre 6,5% de la Cisjordanie, et de donner en retour 5,8% des terres de 1948, et les 0,7% vont servir de zone tampon, et Jérusalem-Est sera la capitale, mais il y avait encore un problème avec les lieux Saints. “Abou Mazen a répondu avec mépris, disant:”. Je ne suis pas dans un shouk ou un bazar. Je suis venu pour délimiter les frontières de la Palestine – sur les frontières de 1967 – sans renoncer à un seul pouce de terrain, et sans renoncer à une seule pierre de Jérusalem, ou des lieux saints chrétiens et musulmans.

 

C’est la raison pour laquelle les négociateurs palestiniens n’ont pas signé. Les commentaires de M. Abbas sur la chaîne Canal 10 ont d’abord été traduits en anglais par le journaliste Mark Lavie.

 

 

 

NETANYAHU : ABBAS NE RECONNAÎTRA PAS

UN ETAT JUIF, “QUELLES QUE SOIENT SES FRONTIÈRES”

Stuart Winer

3 nov., 2016

 

 

Le Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu a déclaré mercredi au président italien Sergio Mattarella, en visite en Israël, que l’Etat juif avait été « profondément déçu » par l’abstention de l’Italie pendant un vote le mois dernier d’une résolution de l’UNESCO, qui ignore les relations de judaïsme et du christianisme au mont du Temple de Jérusalem.

 

Il a cependant été encouragé d’entendre la promesse du Premier ministre italien, assurant que son pays s’opposerait à de telles résolutions dans le futur.

 

Il a également dit à son invité que le conflit avec les Palestiniens n’avait jamais porté sur leur désir d’avoir leur propre état, mais plutôt sur leur souhait de détruire l’Etat juif, et il a souligné qu’il était faux de voir les implantations de Cisjordanie comme la racine du problème. Le président de l’Autorité palestinienne (AP) Mahmoud Abbas, a-t-il affirmé, ne reconnaîtra pas un Etat juif, « quelles que soient ses frontières ».

 

« Le conflit ne porte pas et n’a jamais porté sur un Etat palestinien, que différents gouvernements israéliens successifs, y compris moi-même, avons été prêts à mettre en place, un état palestinien démilitarisé qui reconnait l’Etat juif », a déclaré Netanyahu au début de sa rencontre avec Mattarella dans les bureaux du Premier ministre à Jérusalem.

 

« Il portait et il porte sur l’Etat juif, et tant que nos voisins palestiniens n’affrontent, ne confrontent pas ces démons, n’abandonnent pas le fantôme d’essayer de détruire l’Etat juif d’une manière ou d’une autre, la paix sera difficile à trouver. »

 

Notant que son invité venait de rencontrer Abbas, Netanyahu a accusé le dirigeant de l’AP de « continuer à refuser d’accepter un Etat juif quelles que soient ses frontières, et cela reste le cœur du conflit : le refus palestinien constant d’accepter un Etat juif, quelle que soit la configuration. »

 

Le Premier ministre a déclaré que les critiques des implantations en Cisjordanie, territoire dont les Palestiniens veulent faire leur futur état, étaient erronées.

 

« Je pense que l’attention que les gens [accordent] aux implantations est mauvaise. [Le conflit] a précédé les implantations d’un demi-siècle. Et quand nous avons quitté Gaza et toutes les implantations [en 2005], ils ont continué à nous tirer des roquettes dessus », a-t-il déclaré.

 

Netanyahu a déclaré qu’il avait approché à la fois « le Hamas et le président Abbas », pour savoir s’ils étaient prêts à reconnaître un Etat juif si le sujet des implantations était résolu. « Et ils ne le feront pas, parce que la vraie question des implantations concerne les implantations de Tel Aviv, de Jaffa, de Haïfa, d’Akko ; le refus constant de reconnaitre un Etat juif quelles que soient ses frontières », a-t-il déclaré.

 

Netanyahu a raconté avoir vu l’Arc de Titus à Rome, qui dépeint le butin de guerre pillé par l’armée romaine à Jérusalem, après la destruction du deuxième Temple en 70.

 

« Je soulève ceci parce que nous venons d’avoir une décision absurde de l’UNESCO, qui a déclaré que le peuple juif n’avait pas de connexion avec le mont du Temple. Eh bien, l’Arc de Titus a été construit par le frère de Titus, l’empereur Domitien. Il n’était pas un propagandiste sioniste. Et il décrivait évidemment cette relation ancienne du peuple juif, datant de centaines d’années, au mont du Temple, à Jérusalem, et à cette terre. »

 

Bien qu’Israël ait été déçu par l’abstention de l’Italie pendant le vote de la résolution, Netanyahu a déclaré qu’il avait été encouragé par la déclaration du Premier ministre italien Matteo Renzi, qui a promis que l’Italie changerait sa position de vote pour les futures résolutions.

 

« La tentative de l’UNESCO d’effacer l’histoire juive est une tentative de dire que les Juifs n’ont pas réellement de connexion à notre pays. Ce n’est pas seulement faux, évidemment faux, cela rend aussi plus difficile de parvenir à la paix, a-t-il déclaré. Nier notre histoire est l’un des moyens de nier l’Etat juif. Voici la mauvaise nouvelle. »

« A présent, la bonne nouvelle. La bonne nouvelle , la nouvelle incroyable, qui me donne de l’espoir, est qu’un changement spectaculaire se produit dans le monde arabe, et ce changement est que beaucoup de pays arabes ne voient plus Israël comme leur ennemi, mais comme leur allié, et même leur allié vital, dans le combat contre le terrorisme islamiste, l’islam militant, mené par l’Iran ou par Daesh », a déclaré Netanyahu, en utilisant l’acronyme arabe du groupe Etat islamique.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RIVLIN : ABBAS COLPORTE DE « TERRIBLES CONSPIRATIONS » ANTISÉMITES

Raphael Ahren

Times of Israel, 15 jan., 2018

 

 

Le président Reuven Rivlin a fustigé lundi le président de l’Autorité palestinienne Mahmoud Abbas pour son discours enflammé de la veille, comparant les commentaires du leader de l’Autorité palestinienne aux « choses qui l’ont conduit à être accusé il y a des années d’antisémitisme et de négationnisme concernant l’Holocauste ».

 

« Ce que nous avons entendu hier de Mahmoud Abbas était terrible. Il est revenu aux idées qu’il a exprimées il y a des décennies, et qui n’étaient pas moins terribles », a déclaré Rivlin à une délégation du lobby pro-israélien américain AIPAC à sa résidence de Jérusalem.

 

« Dire qu’Israël est le résultat d’une conspiration occidentale pour installer les Juifs sur des terres appartenant à des populations arabes ? Dire que le peuple juif n’a aucun lien avec la terre d’Israël ? Il a oublié beaucoup de choses et a dit exactement les choses qui l’ont conduit à être accusé il y a des années d’antisémitisme et de déni de la Shoah », a déclaré Rivlin.

 

« Ce sont précisément les choses qui nous bloquent », a déclaré Rivlin, s’exprimant en anglais. « Dans son discours, il rejette notre retour dans notre patrie, même si Abu Mazen [Abbas] sait très bien que le Coran lui-même reconnaît la Terre d’Israël comme étant notre terre. Sans cette reconnaissance de base, nous ne serons pas en mesure d’établir la confiance et d’aller de l’avant. »

 

Les critiques de Rivlin sur le discours d’Abbas s’ajoutent aux condamnations similaires de la classe politique israélienne.

 

Le ministre de la Coopération régionale, Tzachi Hanegbi, a déclaré que le discours était « mêlé de viles théories conspirationnistes antisémites ».

 

« Son incitation contre Israël et les Etats-Unis est extrêmement dangereuse et devrait être condamnée par quiconque s’intéresse à la coexistence pacifique », a ajouté le ministre du Likud.

Dimanche soir, quelques minutes après la fin du discours d’Abbas qui a duré deux heures, le ministre des Affaires stratégiques, Gilad Erdan, a accusé le dirigeant palestinien de « détruire toute chance de paix ». Le chef du parti travailliste Avi Gabbay a également réagi au discours du président de l’Autorité palestinienne Mahmoud Abbas.

 

« Les termes d’Abu Mazen sont grave et erronés, et riches de mensonges antisémites », a déclaré Gabbay. S’exprimant lundi depuis une réunion de la faction de l’Union sioniste, qui allie le parti travailliste et le parti Hatnua, Gabbay a condamné Abbas mais souligné qu’il « ne faut pas se laisser embrouiller, et ne pas se concentrer sur ce que disent les Palestiniens ».

 

« Avant et après le discours d’Abu Mazen, il est dans notre intérêt de nous séparer des Palestiniens », a déclaré Gabbay, soulignant qu’Israël n’avait aucun intérêt à gouverner les Palestiniens.

 

Il a également indiqué que les deux parties ont besoin de dirigeants « qui veulent construire de la confiance et ne pas avoir à faire avec ce que le monde dit d’eux, et qui ne veulent pas jouer aux accusations qui ne mènent à rien ».

 

La vice-ministre aux Affaires étrangères Tzipi Hotovely a indiqué lundi après-midi que les pays européens doivent condamner le discours qui a été prononcé par le président de l’AP.

 

« Le discours d’Abu Mazen est une gifle qui résonne au visage de la communauté internationale », a estimé Hotovely auprès d’Emanuele Giaufret, envoyé de l’Union européenne en Israël, en reprenant les termes du dirigeant palestinien.

 

« Les Palestiniens ne peuvent pas continuer à financer le terrorisme et à demander l’approbation et le soutien des européens en réclamant une reconnaissance unilatérale », a-t-elle ajouté.

 

 

 

Actualité 

 

 

 

DES « CERVEAUX JUIFS » ONT TROUVÉ LA SOLUTION POUR ÉLIMINER LES TUNNELS DU HAMAS

Tamar Pileggi

Times of Israel, 15 jan., 2018

 

 

Un général de l’armée israélienne a indiqué dimanche que les militaires israéliens, aidés par un « cerveau juif », ont trouvé une solution qui permettrait la destruction de tous les tunnels transfrontaliers creusés par le groupe terroriste du Hamas qui pénètrent sur le territoire.

 

S’exprimant en arabe auprès de la chaîne satellite Alhurra basée aux Etats-Unis, le général de division Yoav Mordechai a expliqué que le « génie israélien aux côtés d’un cerveau juif a trouvé une solution à tous les tunnels des terroristes ».

 

« Tout comme il y a le ‘Dôme de fer’ pour l’espace aérien, il existe un parapluie technologique d’acier souterrain », a-t-il dit. « Je veux envoyer un message à tous ceux qui creusent ou qui s’approchent trop d’un tunnel : comme vous l’avez constaté au cours des deux derniers mois, ces tunnels n’amènent que la mort », a-t-il ajouté selon une traduction de l’entretien.

 

Dimanche, l’armée israélienne a annoncé avoir détruit un tunnel d’attaque transfrontalier du Hamas, le troisième ces derniers mois, qui entrait sur des centaines de mètres dans les territoires israélien et égyptien depuis la bande de Gaza, lors d’une frappe aérienne survenue samedi soir.

 

Au cours d’une visite qui a eu lieu dans la journée, le général de division Eyal Zamir a juré que l’armée israélienne continuerait à détruire davantage de tunnels dans les prochains mois alors que le ministère de la Défense termine la construction d’une barrière autour de la bande de Gaza destinée à empêcher la pénétration souterraine dans le territoire israélien.

 

Le Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu, au cours d’une visite en Inde, a également indiqué qu’Israël travaillait de manière systémique à la destruction des tunnels de Gaza pour que les groupes terroristes palestiniens « ne puissent pas jouer avec nous ».

 

C’est le troisième tunnel pénétrant sur le territoire israélien qui a été détruit par l’armée israélienne au cours des trois derniers mois. Le 30 octobre, l’armée a fait exploser un tunnel d’attaque qui appartenait au groupe terroriste du Jihad islamique appuyé par l’Iran, tuant 12 membres de l’organisation ainsi que deux opérateurs du Hamas. Le 10 décembre, les militaires avaient démoli un second tunnel, cette fois-ci contrôlé par le Hamas.

 

Le porte-parole de l’armée, le lieutenant-colonel Jonathan Conricus, a expliqué aux journalistes dimanche que le tunnel appartient au groupe terroriste du Hamas qui dirige la bande.

 

Il a ajouté que les militaires pensaient que le groupe considérait ce dernier comme un « atout significatif » parce que ce souterrain courait sous le carrefour de Kerem Shalom, sous les gazoduc et l’oléoduc entrant dans la bande et qu’il passait aussi sous un poste militaire israélien proche.

 

Les propos de Conricus marquent la toute première fois où un responsable de l’armée reconnaît publiquement que cette dernière a la capacité de frapper avec succès des tunnels par voie aérienne même si des allusions avaient déjà été faites par ailleurs à ce sujet.

 

Le porte-parole de l’armée a attribué le mérite de la découverte et de la destruction du souterrain à une combinaison de technologie et de renseignements « de pointe ».

 

Peu après la frappe nocturne de samedi sur le tunnel, les militaires ont annoncé qu’ils n’ouvriraient pas le poste-frontière de Kerem Shalom qui, à l’ordinaire, accueille des centaines de camions qui transfèrent des biens quotidiennement dans les bande de Gaza et qui est un lieu de passage majeur d’aide humanitaire au sein de l’enclave côtière soumise à un blocus de la part d’Israël et de l’Egypte.

 

Selon des chiffres de l’armée israélienne, en 2017, plus d’un demi-million de tonnes de produits alimentaires sont entrés dans la bande via Kerem Shalom, ainsi que 3,3 millions de tonnes de construction d’équipement et 12 000 tonnes d’équipements agricoles. C’est la deuxième fois que Kerem Shalom est fermé en un mois.

 

Israël a fait fermer le poste-frontière le 14 décembre suite à des attaques multiples au mortier et à la roquette émanant de Gaza, ainsi que le carrefour d’Erez, à travers lequel les personnes circulent et entrent ou sortent de Gaza. Erez avait rouvert 24 heures plus tard et Kerem Shalom le 17 décembre.

 

 

 

DES PALESTINIENS ONT POSÉ UNE BOMBE

DANS UN LIEU SAINT DE CISJORDANIE

Judah Ari Gros

Times of Israel, 16 jan. 2018

 

 

Les soldats du génie de l’armée israélienne ont neutralisé un engin explosif relié à un téléphone portable qui avait été posé à l’entrée du lieu saint du tombeau de Joseph dans la ville de Naplouse, tôt dans la matinée de mardi, alors que devait avoir lieu une visite d’environ 1 000 fidèles juifs, ont fait savoir les militaires.

 

Aucune blessure ou dégât significatif n’a résulté de cette explosion contrôlée et le pèlerinage au tombeau a pu avoir lieu comme prévu, a indiqué un porte-parole de l’armée. Les 1 000 fidèles environ ont été escortés jusqu’au tombeau de Joseph – qui serait le lieu où a été inhumé le patriarche biblique – par des soldats, des gardes-frontières et des agents de police israéliens, a ajouté l’armée.

 

Selon les militaires, alors que le groupe quittait la zone, des habitants locaux ont commencé à jeter des pierres sur les troupes et sur les bus, ne causant aucune blessure mais de légers dommages aux véhicules. L’un des émeutiers a été arrêté, a dit l’armée.

 

Ailleurs en Cisjordanie, les soldats de l’armée israélienne ont arrêté 10 suspects palestiniens dans des opérations menées avant l’aube. Deux armes à feu illégales ont été saisies par les militaires israéliens à Silwad, au nord-est de Ramallah, dans le centre de la Cisjordanie.

 

Des pèlerinages de civils israéliens ou étrangers au tombeau de Joseph, un lieu saint, attisent fréquemment des violences. Dans le passé, des habitants de Naplouse avaient attaqué des groupes en visite sur le site à l’aide de pierres, de cocktails Molotov et de tirs.

 

En résultat, ceux qui désirent se rendre sur le site doivent impérativement être escortés par des militaires. Le groupe des droits de l’Homme de gauche BTselem a condamné cette pratique de routine, disant « qu’Israël a préféré les intérêts des fidèles juifs aux droits des habitants palestiniens, à leur sécurité, à leur sûreté et à leurs habitudes quotidiennes ».

 

Au mois d’août, deux Palestiniens avaient été blessés par balles par des soldats israéliens qui offraient une protection à des fidèles juifs en visite au tombeau de Joseph.

 

Au mois d’octobre 2015, des émeutiers palestiniens avaient mis le feu au lieu saint. Il avait été restauré et avoir rouvert ses portes quelques semaines plus tard.

 

 

 

TEL-AVIV ENGRANGE LES LOUANGES DE LA PRESSE SPÉCIALISÉE

Bely Landerer

Coolamnews, 27 dec., 2017

 

 

Dès la semaine prochaine, venus du monde entier, des touristes amateurs de bons conseils, des connaisseurs à l’écoute du magazine américain « Travel + Leisure », trouveront licite de passer des heures et des heures en avion pour pouvoir visiter Tel-Aviv, cette ex-capitale…

 

En effet le magazine « Travel + Leisure » vient de publier sa liste annuelle des meilleurs endroits à visiter pour la nouvelle année et s’y trouve en bonne place notre bonne ville côtière israélienne de Tel-Aviv.

 

Et si sa réputation de ville qui ne dort jamais, n’est plus à faire, il y est mis en lumière le standing de ses hôtels dont quelques-uns sur le point d’ouvrir leurs portes, tous les musées, tous les grands événements de renommée internationale qui s’y déroulent… Sans oublier les charmes de Jaffa, cette antique ville portuaire, désormais partie inhérente à Tel-Aviv dont le « Marché aux puces », autrefois minable, compte maintenant un potentiel non négligeable de spécialistes d’antiquités haut de gamme, et tous les cafés et bars à la mode – la plupart offrant des concerts de nuit.

Ouverture imminente du « Setai-Tel-Aviv

 

A propos des infrastructures à venir comme signalées plus haut, « Travel + Leisure » note l’ouverture imminente du « Setai-Tel-Aviv », un nouvel hôtel de luxe sur la côte de Jaffa opérationnel dès janvier dont une des spécificités est d’être construit sur le site d’une ancienne prison ottomane. (C’est le deuxième « Hôtel Setai » en Israël, après le luxueux hôtel « Setai Hotel Sea of Galilee », inauguré en mai de cette année et le troisième dans le monde, avec le Setai Miami Beach).

 

Ce « Setai-Tel-Aviv », situé près de l’emblématique « Clock Tower de Jaffa » proposera plus de 100 chambres et suites, une piscine à débordement et moults autres équipements de choix.

 

Dès le mois de mars s’ouvrira un autre lieu d’accueil situé celui-là dans un ancien couvent du 19ème siècle dit « L’hospice des pèlerins », un projet (pharaonique !) de plus de 50 millions de dollars qui comprendra 125 chambres d’hôtel et 38 suites surplombant la mer Méditerranée !

Les titres déjà attribués à Tel-Aviv

 

A noter que « Travel + Leisure », ce prestigieux magazine, considéré comme l’un des meilleurs magazines de voyage au monde, avec 4,8 millions de lecteurs selon son communiqué de presse, n’est pas le seul à apprécier cette ville à sa juste valeur.

 

    Déjà nommée « Ville la plus intelligente du monde » en 2014 au Smart City Expo World Congress à Barcelone, en Espagne, dans le cadre de son « défilé annuel de la fierté » qui attire des dizaines de milliers de touristes du monde entier, Tel-Aviv avait déjà été choisie comme la meilleure destination de voyage gay en 2012, selon un sondage réalisé par GayCities.com et American Airlines

 

    Et le site « Web Daily Meal » de l’avoir élue « première destination végétalienne-végétarienne au monde ».

 

    Et Condé Nast, (un groupe américain d’édition de presse appartenant à Advance Magazine Publishers avec ses titres majeurs tels Vogue ou Vanity-Faire, pour ne citer que ces deux-là), de confirmer ce point précis et d’ajouter que Tel-Aviv mérite aussi le titre de « Ville la plus dynamique et la plus diversifiée du monde», en raison notamment de la plus grande concentration de bâtiments style Bauhaus – (plus de 4 000) – qui font de cette « Ville blanche », un des sites importants appartenant au patrimoine mondial de l’UNESCO .

 

Reste une recommandation qui vaut, sinon son pesant d’or du moins sa coupelle de « Houmous-Trina »… Que nous tous, israéliens de souche ou « olim hadachim » profitions de la chance qui est la nôtre de vivre tout près d’un tel trésor. Ne pas s’en mettre plein les yeux par ignorance ou parce que, par définition, pour être apprécié, un lieu se doit d’être loin, loin, à l’autre bout du monde ou plus loin encore, constituerait une grave erreur, pire, aussi injustifiable qu’inexcusable, ce serait « la pire des fautes commises »… L’impardonnable !

 

Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

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