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)
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
“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)
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)
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.