Month: March 2018

Paul Merkley: The Necessary Role of Christian Zionism

After about a quarter-century of public advocacy for Christian Zionism it still throws me off-balance when people come up to the platform and ask whether it isn’t a contradiction in terms to be a Christian and a Zionist.
In fact, the sin of wilful contradiction belongs on the heads of those Christians who reject the obligation of loyalty to Israel in order to stand in the company of the anti-Zionists who dominate the major churches today – not to mention the major media forces and the learned class.
The Old Testament (Tanakh) speaks clearly of a day when the Jews, having suffered through many centuries of abuse at the hands of great and lesser powers of every day, would be installed by Divine action within the stream of secular history, in a land of their own, centered on the place where, around the year 1000 BCE,King David had installed his newly-secured Kingdom. The correct term for belief in this promise is Zionism.
On November 29, 1947, the newly-established United Nations took back the “Mandate for Palestine” that the League of Nations had been given about twenty years previously to Great Britain and pledged to establish “a Jewish State and an Arab” State (NOT a Palestinian State) on the ground of the old Mandate. The Jews of the world solemnly committed themselves on that day to establish peacefully these two states. The Arab nations unanimously rejected the plan, and immediately committed themselves to casting all Jews into the sea.
A Christian Zionist is one who accepts the authority of Scripture – all of it, including the prophetic portions. Doing so, he signs on to the notion that History has a Master. He knows that in making this case he is defying the wisdom proposed by most of the historic Christian denominations – including the Roman Catholic Church and most of the “Protestant” churches. In this company, the State of Israel is just a political entity like all the others. In this company, it does not matter that Israel came into existence as result of the deliberate decision of the United Nations; likewise, in this company, it does not make sense that the seven decades of war which the disobedience of Arab and Muslim nations have imposed upon Israel on account of its obedience to the will of the United Nations has imposed upon all subsequent generations of Christian believers the obligation to stand with Israel.
A Christian Zionist is simply one who accepts the authority of Scripture – all of it, including the prophetic portions. With this, he signs on to the notion that History has a Master. Simultaneously, he signs on to the obligation to defend Israel in her ongoing struggle for existence.
(Here, I must say that I have never felt the need to justify either my Zionism nor my Christian faith to anyone at CIJR, and that through CIJR my appreciation for Jewish scholarship, Jewish Research and the cause of Israel has been greatly broadened. Mazel tov.)
(Paul Merkley is a Professor Emeritus of History,
Carleton University, and a CIJR Academic Fellow) 

Frederick Krantz: CELEBRATING ISRAEL AT 70

 

 

As the democratic Jewish state of Israel turns seventy, what is the historical-societal balance sheet? What is the meaning of modern Israel—which only three generations ago had to fight for its very existence against five invading Arab armies—both for the Jewish people and the world?

First, modern Israel is today one of the world’s most successful societies. Its standard of living ranks with the West European countries; a nuclear power, its IDF is considered among the top armies in the world. Its dynamic yet stable economy is outstanding, and technologically (including a remarkable space/satellite program) Israel outranks every major country save for the United States.

Arab and leftist propaganda notwithstanding, Israel is the region’s only democracy, in which Arabs and Christians, as well of course as the Jewish majority (6,556,000 out of a total 8,793,000), are represented in the Knesset. (And Israel’s growth rate, at 2% in 2015, averaging three children per woman, is three times greater than the OECD’s).

The Jewish state has peace treaties with two former Muslim enemies, Egypt and Jordan, increasingly good relations with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, and with great powers like China, Russia and India. Its largest economic partner is the European Union, its closest ally the world’s only superpower, the USA, especially under Donald Trump—and U.S. popular support for Israel is, at 75%, the highest ever.

Indeed, we rightly marvel at the breathtaking rapidity, in what seems a blink of an historical eye. of modern Israel’s transformation from a tiny, poor state created just three years after the horror of the Holocaust, into a modern, dynamic regional hegemon. Initially hanging by a thread as the Arabs attempted to strangle it in its cradle, then successfully accepting and integrating hundreds of thousands of Ashkenazi survivors from Europe and Sephardic expellees from Arab countries, Israel became a flourishing democracy, an advanced military power, and a dynamic economic-technological powerhouse—the world’s leading advanced “start-up nation”.

Yet we should never forget that key to modern Israel’s development is the fact it is the legatee of a creative and dynamic Jewish People, whose history reaches back over 4,000 years. As the state of the Jewish People, modern Zionist Israel, secular as well as religious, is the product, of values embodied in Tanach, the Hebrew Bible. Judaism paved the way for modern Western civilization, through its invention of monotheism, and it vision of the rights of the individual and of history as a meaningful process. Indeed, it was Judaism which invented, and with its step-daughter, Christianity, spread, the key modern Western idea of Progress, of man’s ability to
live morally, to speak truth to Power and, through his mastery of nature, to create, minimize suffering, and create a harmonious human community.

Still, Israel lives in a notoriously unstable and dangerous neighborhood, and in a larger post-World War II world which, despite modernity’s many achievements, is also a dangerous, and often unstable, place. And while regionally Israel is in better shape today than at any point since 1947-48, the collapse of many Islamic states into crisis and civil war after the so-called Arab Spring created surrounding instability, above all in civil-war wracked, and Russian- and Iranian-occupied, Syria.

Syria today is a failed state, with half a million dead, civilian and military, and ca.11 million internal and external refugees (half its total population). It is also a potential flashpoint—pro- and anti-Assad forces jostle up against assorted Islamists, Russians, Hezbollah, Iranian forces, Turks and, in the north-east, Kurds and Americans. An unforeseen incident (e.g., Israel’s efforts to prevent the arming of Lebanese Hezbollah by Iran through Syria, the Turks new incursion against Kurdish forces in north-east [Afrin) could, despite “deconfliction” agreements, trigger a wider war.

And behind the Syrian situation is Israel’s one major, continuing existential problem, the terrorist-expansionist Shiite mullah-cracy of Iran, a Holocaust-denying Islamic fundamentalist entity sworn to destroy the Jewish state and well on its way (despite-or because of—the Obama nuclear pact) to becoming a missile-armed nuclear power.

Preventing the devolution of the Syrian situation, blocking Iranian expansionism (in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen) and creation of a nuclear weapon, are Israel’s major political necessities (the instability in Hamas-occupied Gaza is also concerning.) Iran cannot be allowed to establish permanent bases along Israel’s northern border with Syria, and any move to create atomic weapons must be blocked. Whether this can be achieved without direct Israeli (or U.S.-Israeli) military intervention, remains moot.

On a world scale, development of a “new”, Israel-centered antisemitism seeking to delegitimate the Jewish state is concerning, as is the “anti-Zionist” turn on U.S. campuses (BDS, Israeli Apartheid Week, etc.) and Islamic terrorism (still sporadic in North America, as opposed to W. Europe). Yet while these phenomena demand attention and effective
action, they do not—save for an Iranian nuclear weapon— threaten Israel’s, or the Jewish People’s, existence.

You may have noticed the omission here of what even a few years ago, was thought to be Israel’s “key problem”: the Palestinian issue (the “peace process”, the “two-state solution”, etc.). This reflects, across a broad Israeli
political spectrum, a changed reality: continuing Palestinian rejectionism, division (Abbas-Fatah-West Bank vs. Hamas-Gaza), and economic crisis, and a flourishing post l967 Israeli population in Judea and Samaria, has relegated the Palestinian issue to the political back burner.

Indeed, Donald Trump’s recent, historic recognition, after twenty years of Presidential avoidance, of Jerusalem as Israel’s historic capital, is a key policy shift reflecting—despite ongoing Palestinian, UN, and EU  opposition—the simple fact of modern Jewish Israel’s normalization, and permanence, in the region and in the world.

Of course, the Book of the Future is always difficult to read, and capable of unforeseen surprises. Nevertheless, we are right today to celebrate the miracle of our reborn State’s joyous seventieth birthday. Its history shows us that while those who oppose, and often oppress, us, come and go, am Yisrael chai, the eternal Jewish people, lives!

(Dr. Frederick Krantz, Director of CIJR and Editor of its ISRAFAX journal, is Professor of History in Liberal Arts College, Concordia University, Montreal)

ISRAEL AT 70!

For a PDF of Israfax 295 click the following link

 

 

 

EDITORIAL: CELEBRATING ISRAEL AT 70
Frederick Krantz

 

As the democratic Jewish state of Israel turns seventy, what is the historical-societal balance sheet? What is the meaning of modern Israel—which only three generations ago had to fight for its very existence against five invading Arab armies—both for the Jewish people and the world?

First, modern Israel is today one of the world’s most successful societies. Its standard of living ranks with the West European countries; a nuclear power, its IDF is considered among the top armies in the world. Its dynamic yet stable economy is outstanding, and technologically (including a remarkable space/satellite program) Israel outranks every major country save for the United States.

Arab and leftist propaganda notwithstanding, Israel is the region’s only democracy, in which Arabs and Christians, as well of course as the Jewish majority (6,556,000 out of a total 8,793,000), are represented in the Knesset. (And Israel’s growth rate, at 2% in 2015, averaging three children per woman, is three times greater than the OECD’s).

The Jewish state has peace treaties with two former Muslim enemies, Egypt and Jordan, increasingly good relations with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, and with great powers like China, Russia and India. Its largest economic partner is the European Union, its closest ally the world’s only superpower, the USA, especially under Donald Trump—and U.S. popular support for Israel is, at 75%, the highest ever.

Indeed, we rightly marvel at the breathtaking rapidity, in what seems a blink of an historical eye. of modern Israel’s transformation from a tiny, poor state created just three years after the horror of the Holocaust, into a modern, dynamic regional hegemon. Initially hanging by a thread as the Arabs attempted to strangle it in its cradle, then successfully accepting and integrating hundreds of thousands of Ashkenazi survivors from Europe and Sephardic expellees from Arab countries, Israel became a flourishing democracy, an advanced military power, and a dynamic economic-technological powerhouse—the world’s leading advanced “start-up nation”.

Yet we should never forget that key to modern Israel’s development is the fact it is the legatee of a creative and dynamic Jewish People, whose history reaches back over 4,000 years. As the state of the Jewish People, modern Zionist Israel, secular as well as religious, is the product, of values embodied in Tanach, the Hebrew Bible. Judaism paved the way for modern Western civilization, through its invention of monotheism, and it vision of the rights of the individual and of history as a meaningful process. Indeed, it was Judaism which invented, and with its step-daughter, Christianity, spread, the key modern Western idea of Progress, of man’s ability to
live morally, to speak truth to Power and, through his mastery of nature, to create, minimize suffering, and create a harmonious human community.

Still, Israel lives in a notoriously unstable and dangerous neighborhood, and in a larger post-World War II world which, despite modernity’s many achievements, is also a dangerous, and often unstable, place. And while regionally Israel is in better shape today than at any point since 1947-48, the collapse of many Islamic states into crisis and civil war after the so-called Arab Spring created surrounding instability, above all in civil-war wracked, and Russian- and Iranian-occupied, Syria.

Syria today is a failed state, with half a million dead, civilian and military, and ca.11 million internal and external refugees (half its total population). It is also a potential flashpoint—pro- and anti-Assad forces jostle up against assorted Islamists, Russians, Hezbollah, Iranian forces, Turks and, in the north-east, Kurds and Americans. An unforeseen incident (e.g., Israel’s efforts to prevent the arming of Lebanese Hezbollah by Iran through Syria, the Turks new incursion against Kurdish forces in north-east [Afrin) could, despite “deconfliction” agreements, trigger a wider war.

And behind the Syrian situation is Israel’s one major, continuing existential problem, the terrorist-expansionist Shiite mullah-cracy of Iran, a Holocaust-denying Islamic fundamentalist entity sworn to destroy the Jewish state and well on its way (despite-or because of—the Obama nuclear pact) to becoming a missile-armed nuclear power.

Preventing the devolution of the Syrian situation, blocking Iranian expansionism (in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen) and creation of a nuclear weapon, are Israel’s major political necessities (the instability in Hamas-occupied Gaza is also concerning.) Iran cannot be allowed to establish permanent bases along Israel’s northern border with Syria, and any move to create atomic weapons must be blocked. Whether this can be achieved without direct Israeli (or U.S.-Israeli) military intervention, remains moot.

On a world scale, development of a “new”, Israel-centered antisemitism seeking to delegitimate the Jewish state is concerning, as is the “anti-Zionist” turn on U.S. campuses (BDS, Israeli Apartheid Week, etc.) and Islamic terrorism (still sporadic in North America, as opposed to W. Europe). Yet while these phenomena demand attention and effective
action, they do not—save for an Iranian nuclear weapon— threaten Israel’s, or the Jewish People’s, existence.

You may have noticed the omission here of what even a few years ago, was thought to be Israel’s “key problem”: the Palestinian issue (the “peace process”, the “two-state solution”, etc.). This reflects, across a broad Israeli
political spectrum, a changed reality: continuing Palestinian rejectionism, division (Abbas-Fatah-West Bank vs. Hamas-Gaza), and economic crisis, and a flourishing post l967 Israeli population in Judea and Samaria, has relegated the Palestinian issue to the political back burner.

Indeed, Donald Trump’s recent, historic recognition, after twenty years of Presidential avoidance, of Jerusalem as Israel’s historic capital, is a key policy shift reflecting—despite ongoing Palestinian, UN, and EU  opposition—the simple fact of modern Jewish Israel’s normalization, and permanence, in the region and in the world.

Of course, the Book of the Future is always difficult to read, and capable of unforeseen surprises. Nevertheless, we are right today to celebrate the miracle of our reborn State’s joyous seventieth birthday. Its history shows us that while those who oppose, and often oppress, us, come and go, am Yisrael chai, the eternal Jewish people, lives!

(Dr. Frederick Krantz, Director of CIJR and Editor of its ISRAFAX journal, is Professor of History in Liberal Arts College, Concordia University, Montreal)

Bradley Martin: Book Review: Baruch Cohen. No One Bears Witness for the Witness. A Memoir

As time goes on, the memory of the Holocaust seems to grow dimmer with every passing year. It would seem that with the numerous genocides that continue to this day, many people are reluctant to absorb the true meaning of the words: “never again.” Yet this book effectively encapsulates not only the horrors of the Holocaust, but the story of an extraordinary man who maintained his humanity against overwhelming odds.
In this way, Baruch Cohen’s memoir No One Bears Witness for the Witness
is truly a precious gift to readers. Following a preface by Dr. Frederick Krantz and an introduction by Dr. Joyce Rappaport, the memoir is divided into four parts. In Part I, Baruch describes his childhood growing up in Bucharest, Romania. Baruch grew up in a poor, but not deprived, household and we get to see a side of him as a young boy who loved animals
and going to movies. Baruch also describes his loving family and thriving Jewish life.
In 1937, Romania would change for the worse with the installment of racial laws and revocation of the citizenship of Romanian Jews. In January, 1941, Baruch describes the Holocaust as having come to his city. For three agonizing days, the Jewish community had to suffer what he called the Bucharest Kristallnacht. After the third day, Baruch went to a slaughterhouse to search for the whereabouts of his missing father.
Thankfully, Baruch’s father would later turn up safe on the outskirts of Bucharest. But not after Baruch witnessed what he would describe as the most shocking image of his life: corpses hanging from meat hooks with mocking signs attached, “advertising” what was sadistically described as “Jewish kosher meat.”
Part II details Baruch’s life as a forced laborer, abused and beaten by Romanian fascist soldiers. Baruch’s lower spine would break, which would later require surgery in Canada. Yet Baruch and his friends would continue secretly distributing flyers for Zionist organizations, calling for Jews to escape to Eretz Israel.
In December, 1943, Baruch would marry his wife Sonia in the midst of Jews being deported from neighboring Poland and Hungary to Nazi death camps in Transnistria. With the Communist takeover of Romania in 1944, Baruch and Sonia left for Israel with their daughter Malca. Though Baruch
was too old to enlist in the Israeli military, he did serve as a reservist in the Sinai War of 1956, where he learned how to use a gun for the first time—a source of great pride for him. The family would then move to Canada, at the behest of Sonia’s parents.
In Part III, Baruch details his life in Montreal, where he became CFO of a major corporation and did a Master’s in Judaic Studiesat McGill University. He served as Research Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research and worked with the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre. Baruch would speak to classes at McGill and Concordia University, and to high school students, on the Holocaust and what happened to the Jews of Transnistria, a region of Romania where hundreds of thousands had been slaughtered.
The fourth and final part of the memoir consists of a collection of poetry written by Baruch over the years. Despite all that has happened to him and his family, Baruch truly believes that initially all human beings are good and that we must learn about the inhumanity of so-called humanity in order to oppose it. Baruch’s poems are very heartfelt and express a deep love for Israel and the Jewish people. But one that stands out is his poem
in memory of his daughter Malca, who sadly passed away in the year 2000. In his poem titled For Malca with Love, Baruch expresses a profound love for his daughter that is deeply moving and provides a glimpse of his depth as a compassionate human being.
Is it true that no one bears witness for the witness? To this day, Romania struggles to confront a dark chapter of its history. Baruch Cohen’s exceptional life is that of a man who witnessed the worst of humanity, yet persevered, and continuously uplifted those around him. In a world that is intent on forgetting the Holocaust, it is our responsibility as readers to internalize Baruch’s lessons and follow his example, thus truly honoring all he, as a witness, has done for us.
(Bradley Martin is Deputy Editor for the Canadian Institute
for Jewish Research and Senior Fellow with the Haym Salomon Center)

PESSAH

EXTRAIT DE SEPT ANNÉES À JÉRUSALEM PP. 140-141

Julien Bauer

Éditions du Marais, 2012

 

En raison des traditions religieuses, Pessah est le moment où l’on fait le plein de provisions, depuis le pain, azyme comme de bien entendu, jusqu’aux conserves, depuis le vin jusqu’à la viande, bref tout ce qui est lié à l’alimentation et à la boisson, à l’exception des produits qui contiennent de la levure. De ces achats qui suivent une logique, n’avoir que de la nourriture cacher pour Pâque, on est passé à la restauration et à l’hôtellerie, ce qui est moins évident. Les journaux sont remplis de publicités pour les traiteurs qui offrent toutes sortes de plats préparés, selon les coutumes culinaires les plus disparates, et qui font appel à la mauvaise conscience des hommes. Comment pouvons-nous, nous les hommes, alors que Pâque commémore l’Exode, la Sortie d’Égypte, la fin de l’esclavage, condamner nos femmes à être esclaves dans leurs cuisines, à y préparer des repas, surtout celui du premier soir, le Seder, pour des familles étendues. Depuis quelques années, une autre mode, impensable jusqu’alors tant en Israël que dans la diaspora, est de passer Pessah à l’hôtel. Tous les hôtels israéliens offrent des forfaits pour la période pascale. À Jérusalem, les hôtels sont pleins à craquer de touristes d’ailleurs en Israël et de l’étranger, quantité de Yérosélémitains vont passer Pâque dans des hôtels hors de Jérusalem, depuis la Galilée jusqu’à Eilat.

Qui dit nourriture dit ustensiles de cuisine qui, eux aussi, suivent des règles particulières pour Pessah. C’est donc le moment d’acheter batteries de cuisine, couverts, coutellerie, argenterie, etc. Nous avons précisé ailleurs que le Talmud recommande au mari d’acheter des vêtements pour sa femme lors des fêtes. Il n’est pas sûr que tous les Israéliens, encore moins les non religieux, connaissent ce passage du Talmud, mais il est difficile d’échapper à l’atmosphère festive, qui ressemble fort à ce que l’on peut constater dans les sociétés occidentales fin décembre, atmosphère qui incite à renouveler sa garde-robe, en particulier les vêtements de bonne qualité. Comme il y a de fortes chances que vous soyez invités, soit pour le Seder, soit un autre jour de Pâque, vous vous devez de faire une provision de cadeaux. Il n’est pas jusqu’aux marchands de meubles qui ne profitent de l’occasion pour vous rappeler que Pâque est le moment d’acheter tables, chaises, fauteuils, lits et autres bibliothèques. Cette frénésie d’achats est encouragée par une politique répandue d’étaler les paiements mensuels par cartes de crédit, sans imposer des coûts d’intérêt.

La commercialisation de Pâque, qui rappelle la commercialisation de Noël, s’accompagne néanmoins d’une caractéristique proprement israélienne et encore plus yérosélémitaine : un respect général des traditions religieuses. Même si les médias parlent de violation des coutumes, de Juifs qui se font un devoir de manger en public du pain pendant Pessah, les études et sondages sur le comportement des Israéliens vont dans le même sens :

l’immense majorité des Israéliens juifs célèbrent de façon le rituel pascal. Contrairement à Kippour, où la circulation automobile est inexistante, le soir de Pâque, surtout dans les quartiers non religieux, la circulation est dense, car des dizaines de milliers de personnes vont célébrer la soirée pascale,  le Séder, chez d’autres membres de leurs familles ou chez des amis. Le texte lu, aussi bien les passages qui sont récités que ceux qui sont chantés avant les repas, l’est par plus des trois quarts des gens. J’avais cru que les textes, lus ou chantés après le repas, connaitraient un sort plus limité et seraient plus ou moins oubliés. Il n’en est rien. À nouveau, la majorité des personnes interrogées, même si le pourcentage est plus faible, répondent qu’elles les respectent, au moins en partie.

 

QUELLES SONT LES DIFFÉRENCES ENTRE LES PÂQUES JUIVES ET CHRÉTIENNES?

Maurice-Ruben Hayoun

Huffingtonpost, feb. 4, 2015

 

A l’approche des célébrations pascales, tant chez les Juifs que chez les Chrétiens, il n’est pas inutile de dire un mot de la divergence d’interprétation de cette fête chez les uns et chez les autres. Le récit vétéro-testamentaire de l’Exode est univoque mais les adeptes de l’Eglise primitive, tout juifs qu’ils étaient, l’ont interprété dans un autre sens, celui de la Résurrection tout en s’appuyant sur des versets prophétiques. Donc en restant dans le cadre juif, quoique non rabbinique.

L’Exode, d’une part, tel que le relate la Bible hébraïque, et la Résurrection de Jésus, telle qu’elle se lit dans les Evangiles, d’autre part, sont des événements majeurs de l’Histoire sainte. En termes de sociologie religieuse, on pourrait, avec tout le respect nécessaire à l’adresse des fidèles des deux religions, parler de “mythes fondateurs” qui gisent à la base même de la foi. Comme le recommandait Ernest Renan dans son Histoire des origines du christianisme, il ne sert à rien de bannir la légende puisqu’elle est la forme que revêt nécessairement la foi de l’humanité.

Alors que la fête juive de Pâque, Pessah, renvoie à un épisode biblique unique, la sortie d’Egypte, la tradition juive et la tradition chrétienne en font des lectures très différentes. Chacune voit dans cette célébration pascale un épisode crucial de son vécu religieux.

Résumons brièvement les récits bibliques tels qu’ils se lisent dans le second livre de Moïse qui a d’ailleurs donné son nom à cet Exode d’Egypte: après sa révélation à Abraham, Dieu lui promet une innombrable descendance qui sera réduite à l’esclavage en Egypte mais qui ressortira renforcée de l’épreuve. Aguerris par une épuisante traversée du désert, ces enfants d’Israël hériteront de la Terre promise où ils pourront couler des jours heureux…

Cette vision idyllique de l’histoire de l’Israël ancien est conforme à la vocation de la Bible qui n’est pas un livre d’histoire mais défend plutôt une conception théologique du devenir historique. Cela s’appelle une téléologie, du terme grec telos qui renvoie dans le contexte judéo-chrétien à un dessein divin, conçu avant même la création de l’univers. Pour quelles raisons la Providence divine a-t-elle choisi de précipiter les Hébreux dans le creuset égyptien pour les en extraire après quelques siècles de souffrances, on ne le saura jamais.

Mais si nous adoptons une approche anthropologique et sociologique, l’explication suivante s’impose à l’esprit: l’Egypte ancienne, bien que dépourvue de toute tradition esclavagiste antérieure, est considérée ici comme la quintessence de l’impureté, une sorte de laminoir impitoyable, un creuset apte à contribuer à la fondation de l’ancien l’Israël; le moule implacablement sélectif de l’esclavage fera émerger une nation nouvelle qui s’est donné une langue, forgé une destinée et construit une vision de l’univers. Le cadre de l’histoire sainte est désormais tracé: un peuple, Israël, une foi, le monothéisme, et une patrie, la Terre promise.

La pédagogie du livre de l’Exode consiste dans l’émergence d’une conscience nationale chez un peuple d’anciens esclaves, soudés par la souffrance.

Aujourd’hui, les historiens s’accordent sur l’existence d’un exode progressif mais ne reprennent pas en tout point les récits bibliques. L’intention fondamentale des rédacteurs bibliques est transparente: faire de l’Exode l’événement national fondamental du peuple d’Israël, sa première apparition sur la scène de l’histoire universelle. En somme, un peuple ayant chèrement acquis sa liberté et qui, désormais, se pose en s’opposant. On voit ici aussi la tension polaire existant entre la mémoire du peuple qui interprète de manière spécifique les événements fondateurs de son histoire, et l’Histoire universelle proprement dite, censée garder trace de ce qui s’est vraiment passé… Nous sommes en présence de la sempiternelle opposition entre la mémoire et l’Histoire.

Or, ce filtre de la conscience religieuse se confond avec le regard que nous portons sur les faits: il fonde une identité qui forme à son tour une opinion. Marguerite Yourcenar écrivait en substance dans les Mémoires d’Hadrien que le passé est le souvenir que les événements anciens laissent dans notre mémoire.

Comme chacun sait, le nom de la fête de Pessah, proviendrait, selon l’étymologie biblique qui est populaire et nons savante, d’un verbe signifiant passer, surmonter, enjamber. Dieu a enjambé les demeures des fils d’Israël afin de leur épargner les plaies qui se sont abattues sur les Egyptiens. Au plan symbolique que je veux privilégier, ce serait donc un rituel de passage d’un état à un autre, de l’esclavage à la liberté, en l’occurrence. D’où la traduction anglaise de Pâque par pass over(Passover).

Le texte biblique parle du sacrifice pascal offert à Dieu. La tradition juive a donc mis cette fête du sacrifice en relation avec la sortie d’Egypte, afin de lui fournir un enracinement de premier ordre dans l’histoire d’Israël. On peut discerner derrière ce rite la pratique d’un peuple de pasteurs qui marquent l’avènement du printemps par un grand rassemblement autour d’un repas professionnel, sacralisé par la suite en repas communiel… Dès lors, la tradition juive ultérieure a fait de la sortie d’Egypte l’acte de naissance du peuple d’Israël en tant que tel, un peuple qui brisa les chaînes de l’esclavage, se fraya un chemin vers son Dieu à travers un lieu aussi inhospitalier que le désert et finit par recevoir le Décalogue dont il fit don à l’humanité.

Après la Passion, l’Eglise primitive, qui ne comptait alors en son sein que des Juifs profondément enracinés dans la tradition ancestrale, revisita son histoire dans laquelle elle projeta son vécu religieux immédiat.

Or, ce qu’elle venait de vivre, à savoir la crucifixion, c’est-à-dire un véritable drame, ne pouvait sonner le glas de son espérance: si les sources juives anciennes avaient relié le sacrifice pascal à la sortie d’Egypte eu égard au caractère fondateur de cet événement, les judéo-chrétiens, c’est-à-dire l’Eglise encore juive, pouvait, elle aussi, décider de puiser dans son nouveau terreau un autre événement, tout aussi important aux yeux du judaïsme ancien, la Résurrection. Ces hommes ne pouvaient se résoudre à la disparition de leur rêve. Vu la proximité de la fête de Pâque et la terrible déception qui s’était abattue sur les Apôtres et les disciples, la fête prenait une autre dimension et devenait celle de la Résurrection et Jésus, l’agneau pascal, l’objet même du sacrifice.

Ce qui est frappant, ce n’est pas tant la profonde divergence des interprétations d’un même événement ou d’une même solennité par deux traditions devenues différentes, que le fait suivant: les adeptes de l’Eglise naissante ont puisé, encore et toujours, dans le terreau du judaïsme, le leur, celui qui les a toujours nourris, pour procéder à cette substitution.

Il existe dans le livre du prophète Osée un passage très expressif qui contient tous les ingrédients de la Résurrection, telle que les Evangiles la conçoivent au sujet de Jésus. Osée (6 ;2) exhorte au retour vers Dieu et s’écrie: “Il nous fera revivre après deux jours; au troisième jour il nous ressuscitera et nous revivrons devant lui…”

Comme la communauté de Jérusalem baignait dans un environnement exclusivement juif et que des hommes tels que Jacques étaient de fins lettrés, est-il concevable que ces Juifs profondément religieux aient ignoré un tel verset prophétique? Or le verset d’Osée commence par évoquer les blessures subies et que Dieu vient justement guérir…

Tout ceci montre bien que cette idée de Résurrection a germé dans un terreau juif dont Jésus est le produit; mais nous voyons aussi ce qui sépare l’histoire de la mémoire: là où les Juifs, demeurés fidèles à l’enseignement de la synagogue ne retenaient de la Pâque que la sortie d’Egypte, en somme la fête de la liberté et l’abolition de l’esclavage, d’autres Juifs, désireux de renouveler leur religion par l’intermédiaire de Jésus, jugent que sa crucifixion a nécessairement un sens, qu’elle avait été voulue par Dieu afin de rédimer une humanité pécheresse… C’est un total déplacement de sens, un changement absolu de perspective.

Dans le sillage de Philo d’Alexandrie, l’exégèse patristique est allée dans la même direction en allégorisant la prescription majeure de la fête pascale: la consommation de pain azyme qu’elle interprète comme une exhortation à la modestie et à l’humilité. Alors que le pain levé, couramment consommé, évoque un cœur humain gonflé d’orgueil. Quant à l’Egypte ancienne transformée en berceau de l’esclavage, Philo d’Alexandrie nous invite à n’y voir que l’allégorie d’un espace dénué de spiritualité et d’amour du prochain.

Car, au fond, n’est-ce pas là le véritable enseignement de cette double célébration de la Pâque? Même un pasteur luthérien comme J. G. Herder relevait que “notre humanité n’est qu’un état transitoire, le bouton d’une fleur qui doit éclore et aboutir à une sorte d’humanité divine…” Tel devrait être l’enseignement éthique de la commémoration de la Pâque, juive et chrétienne: l’abolition de toutes formes d’esclavage, le bannissement de la souffrance et la foi en un avenir meilleur, c’est-à-dire une sorte de résurrection. Herder écrivait aussi que le plus beau rêve de la vie future est que nous jouirons, un jour, dans une humanité fraternelle, du commerce de tous les sages, de tous les justes… Quand on veut préserver son être de l’oubli éternel, on recourt à la résurrection.

Et Ernest Renan lui fit écho en expliquant que la résurrection pourrait être entendue comme la poursuite de la vie dans le cœur de ceux qui vous aiment.

Mais je voudrais laisser le dernier mot à ce grand philosophe allemand, Franz Rosenzweig, mort en 1929 et auteur de l’Etoile de la rédemption où écrivait en conclusion ceci:

Devant Dieu, tous deux, Juif et Chrétien, sont par conséquent des ouvriers travaillant à la même œuvre. Il ne peut se priver d’aucun des deux. Entre eux, il a de tout temps posé une inimitié et néanmoins, il les a liés ensemble dans la réciprocité la plus étroite. Tel est le vrai message de Pessah et de Pâque.

 

Actualité 

 

 ASSASSINAT DE MME MIREILLE KNOLL HY”D:

UN SECOND SUSPECT INTERPELLÉ PAR LA POLICE

Shraga Blum

LPH Info, 26 mars, 2018

 

Depuis la découverte macabre du corps lacéré et calciné de Mme Mireille Knoll hy”d, la police judiciaire de Paris était à la recherche d’un second individu suspecté d’avoir participé au meurtre de l’octogénaire. Il a été localisé au centre de Paris grâce à son téléphone portable. On ne sait rien sur son identité pour l’instant. Vendredi, immédiatement après cette découverte, un premier suspect d’origine arabe qui connaissait bien la victime avait été arrêté.

Le Parquet refuse toujours de confirmer le crime antisémite et dit “n’écarter aucune hypothèse”. Mais pour les responsables des institutions juives cette hésitation n’a pas de sens et il ne fait aucun doute quant aux mobiles du ou des meurtriers, d’autant plus que la malheureuse victime avait reçu des menaces explicites. Françis Kalifa, président du CRIF écarte toute hypothèse crapuleuse: “Il n’y avait rien à voler chez cette vieille dame modeste qui vivait depuis 60 ans dans ce HLM et qui ne possédait ni argent ni bijoux”, note-t-il avec raison. Par ailleurs la manière acharnée dont Mme Knoll a été assassinée indique clairement un crime motivé par la haine. Françis Kalifa, qui s’est déjà entretenu dimanche avec les autorités judiciaires et le président de la République Emmanuel Macron, souhaite que la transparence soit faite sur cette affaire le plus rapidement possible “afin de ne pas tomber dans les mêmes errements que dans l’affaire Sarah Halimi où il a fallut attendre onze mois à la justice pour reconnaître le caractère antisémite de cet assassinat”.

Joël Mergui, président du Consistoire de France est du même avis: “C’était une femme juive, connue comme telle. La similitude avec l’affaire Sarah Halimi est frappante. Il est essentiel qu’on sache quel était le mobile. Et que le mobile antisémite soit recherché. Un assassinat de ce type ne peut pas être un fait divers dont on ne parle pas. Car c’est générateur d’une grande inquiétude dans la communauté et d’incompréhension.”

 

 

ISRAËL: LA DÉPUTÉE TAMAR ZANDBERG REMPORTE LES PRIMAIRES DU PARTI DE GAUCHE MERETZ

I24, 22 mars, 2018

La députée Tamar Zandberg a remporté jeudi soir les primaires du parti de gauche Meretz avec 71% des voix, et remplacera Zehava Gal-On, qui a abandonné la course après avoir dirigé le parti pendant six ans.

“Il se passe quelque chose au sein du parti Meretz”, a déclaré Zandberg dans son discours après sa victoire.

“Meretz revient à grands pas et nous ferons partie de la révolution dont le peuple d’Israël a besoin,” a-t-elle ajouté.

Avi Bouskila, ancien secrétaire général du mouvement Peace Now, était en deuxième position avec 28,5% des voix. Le taux de participation n’a été que de 53,6% parmi quelque 31.679 électeurs, et 16.954 votants.

Mme Zandberg a promis que le parti, qui occupe actuellement 5 sièges à la Knesset (Parlement israélien), obtiendra 10 places aux prochaines élections.

“La politique israélienne peut être un champ de mines cruel et les grandes batailles sont encore à venir, mais je suis sûre que vous les mènerez avec honneur et détermination”, a déclaré Zehava Gal-On.

Elle commence sa carrière politique en 2003, comme assistante parlementaire de Ran Cohen, député du parti, et occupe ce poste jusqu’en 2008. Aux élections législatives de 2013, elle est sixième sur la liste Meretz, et réélue en 2015.

 

 

ISRAËL/MEETING DU LIKOUD: “NOUS SOMMES IMBATTABLES” (BENYAMIN NETANYAHOU)

I24, 22 mars, 2018

 

“Le sentiment d’injustice est l’une des raisons pour lesquelles nous devons nous soutenir les uns les autres”, a lancé le Premier ministre israélien Benyamin Netanyahou lors d’un discours prononcé jeudi soir devant quelque 2000 militants du Likoud à l’approche des fêtes de la Pâque juive.

“Nombre d’entre nous entendent ce que nous subissons dans les médias et se rendent bien compte que les dés sont pipés, qu’il s’agit d’une chasse aux sorcières”, a poursuivi Netanyahou.

“Ils savent qu’ils ne peuvent pas nous battre par des moyens démocratiques, alors ils choisissent d’exercer une pression constante sur les institutions judiciaires pour nous faire tomber par d’autres moyens”, a-t-il dénoncé.

La police a recommandé en février l’inculpation de M. Netanyahou dans deux dossiers de corruption présumée. Une troisième affaire, dite Bezeq, du nom du grand groupe israélien de télécommunications, pourrait également s’avérer particulièrement dangereuse pour le Premier ministre, au pouvoir depuis près de 12 ans au total.

“Ils cherchent mais ils ne trouvent rien et ils ne trouveront rien parce qu’il n’y a rien à trouver”, a réitéré le premier ministre jeudi soir, blâmant ses opposants.

La plupart des ministres et députés du Likoud, ainsi que des représentants du groupe à l’étranger étaient présents au meeting du parti, auquel participaient également le maire de Jérusalem, Nir Barkat et l’ancien ministre de l’Intérieur Gideon Sa’ar.

Jusqu’à présent, les chefs de file de la coalition gouvernementale, dont Moshé Kahlon, chef du parti Koulanou (centre droit), se sont gardés de se dissocier du Premier ministre. Ils ont dit attendre la décision du procureur général d’inculper ou non Netanyahou.

Mais, a prévenu le ministre des Finances Moshé Kahlon jeudi dernier sur la deuxième chaîne de télévision israélienne, “si un procès est ouvert contre le Premier ministre, il ne pourra plus remplir ses fonctions (…) Il se lèvera et il partira ou ce sont les autres partis qui s’en iront”.

Le gouvernement de M. Netanyahou a également survécu la semaine dernière à une crise aiguë grâce à un compromis provisoire sur le service militaire des Juifs ultra-orthodoxes, qui a permis le vote du budget.

Il est cependant soupçonné d’avoir favorisé la crise en vue de provoquer des législatives anticipées dont son parti, le Likoud (droite), était donné vainqueur dans les sondages.

Une victoire aurait renforcé la position politique de M. Netanyahou dans l’optique d’une éventuelle inculpation. Mais il n’aurait pas réussi à réunir une majorité pour que le scrutin ait lieu en juin.

 

 

TRUMP SIGNE LE PROJET DE LOI QUI RÉDUIT LES FONDS À L’AUTORITÉ PALESTINIENNE

Eric Cortellessa   

Times of Israel, 25 mars 2018

 

Le président américain Donald Trump a promulgué vendredi une loi qui supprime une partie de l’aide aux Palestiniens jusqu’à ce qu’ils mettent fin aux allocations aux terroristes et aux familles des agresseurs abattus, alors qu’il a approuvé un projet de loi de dépenses globales de 1,3 trillion de dollars.

Le Taylor Force Act, qui porte le nom d’un ancien officier de l’armée américaine poignardé à mort par un terroriste palestinien lors d’une visite à Tel Aviv, a été inclus dans les mesures législatives.

La loi mettra fin au financement de l’Autorité palestinienne par les États-Unis jusqu’à ce que Ramallah cesse de verser de tels paiements. Mais il comporte trois exceptions, ce qui permet aux États-Unis de financer les programmes palestiniens de vaccination des enfants et de l’eau, ainsi que les hôpitaux de Jérusalem-Est.

« Je pense que c’est un message puissant de la part des Etats-Unis qui change les règles », a dit Netanyahu au commencement de la réunion hebdomadaire de son cabinet dans son bureau de Jérusalem, dimanche à propos de la loi.

Il a dit que cette loi privera l’Autorité palestinienne de « millions de dollars utilisés pour investir dans le soutien au terrorisme et à la culture des familles de terroristes et des assassins eux-mêmes ».

Vendredi matin, Trump a tweeté qu’il « envisageait » d’opposer son veto au projet de loi budgétaire, puisqu’il n’incluait pas le financement complet du mur frontalier entre les États-Unis et le Mexique, mais il a ensuite organisé une conférence de presse annonçant qu’il le signerait.

Jusqu’à vendredi, Trump n’avait pas encore explicitement déclaré s’il signerait le projet de loi Taylor Force, bien qu’un fonctionnaire de la Maison Blanche ait déclaré au Times of Israel en juillet que le président soutenait son objectif principal.

L’un des auteurs du Taylor Force Act, le sénateur Lindsey Graham, républicain de Caroline du Sud, a remercié la famille et les amis de Taylor Force, qui ont fait pression sur le Congrès pour faire adopter le projet de loi et l’inclure dans le projet de loi global.

« J’apprécie vraiment le travail acharné de la famille Force et des nombreux amis de Taylor Force qui ont clairement indiqué au Congrès que la pratique du #PaytoSlay doit être arrêtée », a-t-il tweeté, quelques heures avant que Trump ne la promulgue.

L’Autorité palestinienne de Mahmoud Abbas l’a condamné et s’est engagée à continuer à payer les familles de « martyrs et prisonniers ».

Yusef al Mahmoud, porte-parole du gouvernement de l’AP à Ramallah, a déclaré que les Etats-Unis auraient plutôt dû appeler à « mettre fin à l’occupation et à la souffrance du peuple palestinien ».

Le Congrès, a-t-il ajouté, devrait également conditionner l’aide à Israël à « la fin de son occupation et de ses colonies [sic], car c’est l’occupation qui est responsable de tuer notre peuple et de le jeter en prison ».

Le porte-parole a déclaré que les « martyrs et les prisonniers sont, aux yeux de notre peuple, des symboles sacrés de liberté et de lutte et d’opposition à l’humiliation et à la capitulation ».

Le sénateur Bob Corker, l’un des principaux parrains du projet de loi, a déclaré que l’Autorité palestinienne a instauré des incitations pécuniaires pour les actes de terrorisme en versant des allocations mensuelles pouvant atteindre 3 500 dollars aux Palestiniens qui commettent des actes de violence et à leurs familles.

Le montant du versement dépend de la durée de la peine d’emprisonnement infligée pour le crime, a-t-il expliqué.

Taylor Force était un étudiant en MBA à l’Université de Vanderbilt au Tennessee et un diplômé de West Point qui était en visite en Israël en mars 2016 lorsqu’il a été tué. Force était de Lubbock, Texas. Ses parents vivent en Caroline du Sud.

Graham a déclaré que l’Autorité palestinienne a fait l’éloge du tueur de Force en tant que « martyr héroïque ». Il estime que l’Autorité palestinienne a déboursé 144 millions de dollars en « paiements de martyrs » au fil des ans.

L’adoption de l’acte est susceptible de provoquer davantage l’Autorité palestinienne, qui a refusé de rencontrer les responsables de l’administration depuis que Trump a reconnu en décembre Jérusalem comme capitale d’Israël et a mis en place des plans pour déplacer l’ambassade américaine de Tel Aviv à Jérusalem.

La Maison Blanche dit qu’elle se prépare actuellement à publier son plan de paix israélo-palestinien très attendu dans un proche avenir, mais elle n’a pas donné de calendrier précis sur la date exacte.

C’est une autre étape que les Palestiniens considéreront comme punitive après que les États-Unis ont réduit le financement de l’agence des Nations Unies qui s’occupe des réfugiés palestiniens.

L’administration Trump a annoncé en janvier qu’elle réduirait de 65 millions de dollars le financement de l’agence de secours de l’ONU pour les Palestiniens cette année. Mais l’agence a dit que la réduction réelle était d’environ 300 millions de dollars parce que les États-Unis avaient laissé entendre à l’agence qu’elle fournirait 365 millions de dollars en 2018.

Les États-Unis ont été le plus grand donateur de l’UNRWA, fournissant près de 30 % de son budget. En annonçant les réductions en janvier, le Département d’État américain a déclaré qu’il voulait des réformes au sein de l’agence, ce qu’Israël a vivement critiqué.

L’agence, le plus ancien et le plus grand programme de secours de l’ONU au Moyen-Orient, fournit des soins de santé, de l’éducation et des services sociaux à environ 5 millions de Palestiniens en Cisjordanie, dans la bande de Gaza, en Jordanie, en Syrie et au Liban. Ce sont les réfugiés ou les descendants des centaines de milliers de Palestiniens qui ont fui ou ont été forcés de quitter leur foyer pendant la guerre qui a conduit à la création d’Israël en 1948.

Israël se plaint depuis longtemps que l’UNRWA, contrairement au UNHCR, ne fixe aucune limite à la reconnaissance des réfugiés, permettant à plusieurs générations de descendants, y compris ceux qui sont nés dans d’autres pays ou qui sont citoyens de ces pays, de continuer à être considérés comme des réfugiés à perpétuité.

Depuis, l’ONU a reçu des promesses de dons de près de 100 millions de dollars pour l’UNWRA de la part du Qatar, du Canada, de la Suisse, de la Turquie, de la Nouvelle-Zélande, de la Norvège, de la Corée, du Mexique, de la Slovaquie, de l’Inde et de la France.

 

DES CHERCHEURS ISRAÉLIENS CRÉENT DES NANO-GOUTTES POUR SE PASSER DE LUNETTES

Shoshanna Solomon

Times of Israel, 19 mars, 2018

 

Des chercheurs israéliens affirment qu’ils ont mis au point une méthode « révolutionnaire » pour améliorer la vue et se débarrasser des lunettes et des lentilles de contact, ce qui, selon eux, pourra être fait à la maison avec un smartphone, un petit appareil laser et des gouttes oculaires spéciales.

La technologie a été mise au point par des chercheurs du Shaare Zedek Medical Center à Jérusalem et de l’Institut de nanotechnologie et de matériaux avancés de l’Université Bar-Ilan.

« Nous voulons modifier la vision et corriger les types d’erreurs de réfraction », a déclaré le Dr David Smadja, ophtalmologiste qui a mis au point ce qu’il appelle les Nano-Drops en collaboration avec le professeur Zeev Zalevsky, de la Faculté d’ingénierie Kofkin de Bar-Ilan, et le professeur Jean-Paul Moshe Lellouche, chef du département de chimie de Bar-Ilan.

Les erreurs de réfraction se produisent lorsque la lumière n’est pas focalisée avec précision sur la rétine en raison de la forme de l’œil. Les types d’erreur réfractive les plus courants sont la myopie, l’hypermétropie, l’astigmatisme et la presbytie – une hypermétropie tardive. Le marché mondial de la lunetterie devrait atteindre 167 milliards de dollars en 2026, selon Statista.

Les chercheurs israéliens ont trouvé un moyen de remodeler la cornée, qui représente 60 % de la puissance optique de l’œil. Ils ont essayé leur système sur les yeux de porcs morts, qui ont un système optique très similaire à celui des humains.

« Nous avons obtenu une correction de 3 dioptries« , dit Smadja. La dioptrie est la mesure optique utilisée pour mesurer la vision. « Cela signifie que quelqu’un qui a besoin de lunettes de lecture pourrait maintenant s’en passer », dit-il.

La technologie en cours de développement comporte trois étapes.

La première étape exige que les patients mesurent leur vue à l’aide de leur smartphone. Il y a déjà un certain nombre d’applications qui font cela, a dit Smadja. La deuxième étape exige que les patients utilisent une deuxième application – en cours de développement par les chercheurs – qui aurait un dispositif laser clippé sur le smartphone.

Ce dispositif délivrera des impulsions laser à l’œil en moins d’une seconde qui gravera une forme peu profonde sur la cornée pour aider à corriger son erreur de réfraction. Lors de la dernière étape, les Nano-Drops – composés de nanoparticules non toxiques de protéines – sont introduits dans l’œil et activent la forme, corrigeant ainsi la vision du patient.

« C’est comme lorsque vous écrivez quelque chose avec du carburant sur le sol et que le carburant s’assèche, puis vous jetez une flamme sur le carburant et le feu prend la forme de l’écriture », explique Smadja. « Les gouttes activent le motif. »

La technologie, contrairement aux opérations laser actuelles qui corrigent la vue, n’enlève pas les tissus et est donc non invasive, et elle convient à la plupart des yeux, élargissant ainsi le champ d’action des patients qui peuvent corriger leur vision, a-t-il expliqué.

Les trois chercheurs ont travaillé ensemble sur le projet après que Smadja a dit qu’il avait un « rêve » de se débarrasser de ses lunettes. « J’ai dit qu’on devait faire quelque chose, alors on a fait un brainstorming ensemble et en quelques heures, on a eu cette idée. »

Dans l’expérience sur les porcs, l’effet de la vision corrigée a duré deux heures. Les chercheurs recueillent maintenant des fonds pour faire des expériences sur des porcs ou des lapins vivants et pour suivre l’effet des gouttes sur une plus longue durée. Ils espèrent, a dit Smadja, tester la technologie sur des humains à l’été 2019.

Les résultats ont été brevetés par le département de commercialisation de l’Université Bar-Ilan et les chercheurs songent à mettre sur pied une nouvelle entreprise pour poursuivre le développement du produit. Il y a déjà un certain nombre d’investisseurs qui ont exprimé leur intérêt pour la technologie, a déclaré Smadja.

 

En raison de la fête de Pessah, le prochain communiqué sera publié le vendredi 13 avril 2018.

Le Communiqué isranet vous souhaite de vivre avec votre famille

et vos amis une Fête de la Liberté mémorable. Hag cacher VeSameah!

PASSOVER MARKS THE BIRTH OF A FREE JEWISH PEOPLE; IN EGYPT, SISI SET TO WIN SECOND TERM AS PRESIDENT

Passover 5778: A Script of Living Drama: Baruch Cohen, CIJR, Mar. 29, 2018— A passage in the Mishna says, Every person in every generation must look upon himself/herself as if he/she came out of Egypt.

Plato’s Haggadah in the ‘Dialogues’: Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo, Times of Israel, Mar. 22, 2018— How that Jews all over the world will once again assemble around the seder table and read the Haggadah — the story of the exodus from Egypt — it may be worthwhile to put some thought into the art of reading.

Egypt’s Election: All Votes Will Go to Al-Sisi: Ashraf Ramelah, Arutz Sheva, Mar. 27, 2018 — Egypt is holding its presidential election now through March 28. President Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi is running for re-election after four years of his first term.

Egypt’s President Sisi Is Irreplaceable: Caroline Glick, Breitbart, Mar. 27, 2018 — Noting that most significant presidential contenders were either arrested, or were intimidated out of running, many media organizations have argued that Egypt’s elections this week are a farce.

On Topic Links

Passover Message from Prime Minister Netanyahu (Video): Youtube, Mar. 21, 2018

Passover Guide for the Perplexed, 2018 (a US angle): Yoram Ettinger, Ettinger Report, Mar. 26, 2018

Eight Questions for Passover: Deborah Fineblum, JNS, Mar. 26, 2018

Importing Israeli Natural Gas Makes Sense for Egypt: Robin Mills, Bloomberg, Mar. 19, 2018

 

 

PASSOVER 5778: A SCRIPT OF LIVING DRAMA

Baruch Cohen

CIJR, Mar. 29, 2018

A passage in thMishna says, every person in every generation must look upon himself/herself as if he/she came out of Egypt. The key idea that underlies the feast of Passover is great and profoundly human: the idea of freedom, of humanness. Passover shows that the human spirit’s struggle for freedom is the basis of the democratic vision of human dignity.

For us, the Jewish people, Passover marks our birth as a free people: our Sages teach us that liberty must be fought for, and renewed, in every generation. Passover, the liberation from Egyptian slavery, affirms the great truth that liberty is an undeniable right of every human being. By celebrating Passover we are learning about our Jewish past, and thus ensuring our human future.

Hag Pesach Sameach! Happy Passover!

 

(Baruch Cohen, now 98, has been CIJR’s Research Chairman for thirty years; his moving memoir, No One Bears Witness for the Witness, just published, is available from CIJR at cijr@isranet.org)

 

Contents

PLATO’S HAGGADAH IN THE ‘DIALOGUES’

Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo

Times of Israel, Mar. 22, 2018

 

Now that Jews all over the world will once again assemble around the seder table and read the Haggadah — the story of the exodus from Egypt — it may be worthwhile to put some thought into the art of reading. In The Phaedrus (275a-278a) and in his Seventh Letter (344c), Plato questioned — and in fact attacked — the written word as being completely inadequate. This may explain why philosophers have scarcely written about the art of writing, although they extensively engaged in that very craft!

It is well known that Plato used to write in the form of dialogues, and it is clear to anyone reading these conversations that his main purpose in doing so was to hide the characteristics of the texts. He worked for years on polishing this literary form. Cicero maintains that Plato actually died at his writing table at the age of 81. “Plato uno et octogesimo anno scribens est mortuus.” (Cicero, “On Old Age,” Section 5.)

What bothered Plato was that he believed the written word would fall prey to evil or incompetent readers who would do anything they want with the text, leaving the writer unable to defend or explain himself or herself. He feared the text would take on a life of its own, independent of its author, as is indeed characteristic of the written word. Even more interesting is his observation that a written text actually becomes a “pharmakon” — a drug that can either heal or kill, depending on how it is applied. It may even be used as a prompt, but will ultimately lead to memory loss since it will make the brain idle. Years later, Immanuel Kant wrote along similar lines, saying that the “script” wreaked havoc on the “body of memory.” (Immanuel Kant, Anthropologie in Pragmatischer Hinsicht, Suhrkamp, STW 193, Frankfurt am Main, pp. 489-490.

However, according to Plato, this means far more than just losing information, or being deprived of the skill of memorizing. For him, real knowledge was a atter of “intrinsic understanding,” demanding a person’s total presence within what he reads or says. Only that with which I totally identify and which has become united with my Self can be called knowledge and is in-scribed in my whole personality. That which I have simply read or learned superficially is not really knowledge.

Unwittingly, Plato touched on a most fundamental aspect of the Jewish tradition. We Jews are called “the people of the book.” But we are not; we are the people of the ear. The Torah is not to be read, but is rather to be heard. It was not written in the conventional sense. It was the Divine word spoken at Sinai, which had to be heard and which afterwards, out of pure necessity, became frozen in a text, but with the sole intention of being immediately “defrosted” through the art of hearing. This, then, became the great foundation of the Jewish oral tradition.

Reading entails using one’s eyes and, as such, the act remains external. The words are not carved into the very soul of the reader. Rabbi Yaakov Leiner, son of the famous Ishbitzer Rebbe, Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Leiner, and one of the keenest minds in the Hasidic tradition, speaks about seeing. He makes the valuable observation that sight discloses the external aspect of things while hearing reveals the internal. (Rabbi Yaacov Leiner, Beis Yaakov, “Rosh Chodesh Av.”) One must hear a text, not read it. This is the reason why the body of Torah consists of minimum words and maximum oral interpretation.

Still, does not the open-endedness of the Torah present the opportunity for anyone to read his or her own thoughts into the text and violate its very spirit? The Jewish tradition responded to this challenge with great profundity. It created an ongoing oral tradition in which unwritten rules of interpretation were handed down, thereby securing the inner meaning of the text, while at the same time allowing the student to use all of his or her creative imagination. Even after the Oral Torah was written down in the form of the Talmud, it remained unwritten, as any Talmud student can testify. No other text is so succinct and “understaffed” in written words, while simultaneously given to such vast interpretation. The fact that the art of reading the Talmud can only be learned through a teacher–student relationship, and not merely through the written word, proves our point. Only when the student hears his or her master’s oral interpretation of the text is the student able to read it, because the teacher will not only give explanations, but will also convey the inner vibrations that were once heard at the revelation on Mount Sinai. This is the deeper knowledge that teachers themselves received from their masters, taking them all the way back to the supreme moment at Sinai. In that way, the students can free themselves from a mechanical approach to the text. Each person will hear new voices in the old text, without deviating from its inner meaning. This will provide the courage to think on one’s own and rid any personal prejudices. The text, then, is not read but heard.

Jewish law states that even if one is alone on the Seder night, one must pronounce the text of the Haggadah and not just read it. One must hear oneself, explain the text in a verbal way, and be in continuous dialogue with oneself, so as to understand and feel what happened thousands of years ago. Plato alluded to this matter without fully realizing why his own teachings never came close to receiving the treatment they perhaps deserved. They are read too much and heard too little.

This may be the difference between the Divine word and the human word. The Divine is a dimension where words have no spiritual space. Human words are too grounded in the text. The Divine word goes beyond these textual limitations and can find its way only through the act of listening, because it is through this particular one of our senses that we are able to hear the “perpetual murmur from the waves beyond the shore.” (Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man Is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1976) p. 8.) When we read the text on the seder night, we should be aware that it only provides the opening words. The real Haggadah has no text. It is not to be read, but is rather to be heard. And, just as with the Torah, we have not even begun to understand its full meaning. We are simply perpetual beginners. Moadim le-simcha.

Contents

   

EGYPT’S ELECTION: ALL VOTES WILL GO TO AL-SISI

Ashraf Ramelah

Arutz Sheva, Mar. 27, 2018

 

Egypt is holding its presidential election now through March 28. President Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi is running for re-election after four years of his first term. There is one opposing candidate from the Tomorrow Party who has vowed to cast his vote for the president and encourages all Egyptians to do the same. The ballots will be counted by the Election Commission as usual with the political parties in observance. The president is an independent candidate of the military without a political party. However, the military will be absent from the process because constitutionally it cannot be a part of civilian elections.

With the outcome already determined, Egyptians view the election as a comedy performance mainly because it is too painful to take seriously. Any real opposition candidates to the president have been orchestrated out of the process by the Al-Sisi government in the past months…State-sponsored media rave about the popularity of Al-Sisi and show pictures of Egyptians endorsing him with his campaign slogan of “build it.” But certain facts belie such reports. For instance, the media is pressuring the electorate to go out and vote by stressing it as the sacred duty of every citizen. Guilt infliction would not be necessary if a highly popular, reformist incumbent were running.

Christian clergy and Muslim Imams are threatening the populace with the fate of hell for those who do not go to the voting polls while the courts threaten non-voters with monetary fines. State employees are told by their managers that they will receive punishments for misconduct if they are absent from the performance of their electoral duty.

Meanwhile, Orthodox churches in the Egyptian diaspora around the world are arranging buses to haul church-goers to offices of the Egyptian Consulate to cast their vote for Al-Sisi. This follows the directive of Pope Tawadros II, an advocate of the president, when last week he announced plainly that, “It is the obligation and duty of every person to vote.” Low turn-out at the polls would bring embarrassment to the president and must be avoided at all cost.

Complacency is being combated by the state, church and mosque, but the anger boiling underneath the surface of the ersatz conformity is an even bigger threat to Al-Sisi and can’t be dealt with as easily by the regime whose appearance must remain “democratic.” Calling the election a farce, the Civil Democratic Movement has risen up to boycott it. Analysts are citing it as the object of the president’s anger and the reason for the regime’s pressure upon voters across the country.

Anger in general toward Al-Sisi’s failed record is what led the regime in the first place to eliminate risk by clearing the ballot of opposition. The other candidates presumably represented forces so insidious to the country and the welfare of the citizenry that Al-Sisi waited until they threatened his position as president to deal with their lurking presence. Moreover, his failure to float ideas to fix the country’s infrastructure problems, inflation and poverty has been accompanied by a rise in police state tactics such as “aurora” visits to contrarians and jail for speaking freely and critically. Considering this in the light of the president’s promises of democratic reforms and talk of human rights, Egyptians are left with cognitive dissonance.

Orthodox Copts have solved this problem by accepting Al-Sisi as a ruler who “means well” in light of terror atrocities, brute police force, rigged courts and rubble in place of churches. Political relativism helps this along. Are the Copts correct in agreeing with Al-Sisi that any other option rising in the political arena would be much too risky and threatening to Egypt’s long history of military rule? Military rule is all Egyptians know. Another military man as president would be pointless and, if less endearing, might prove disruptive to the stability of a people who need to manage daily life under massive corruption and civil decay.

                                                                       

Contents

   

EGYPT’S PRESIDENT SISI IS IRREPLACEABLE

Caroline Glick

Breitbart, Mar. 27, 2018

 

Noting that most significant presidential contenders were either arrested, or were intimidated out of running, many media organizations have argued that Egypt’s elections this week are a farce. Although there accounts disputing those claims, it is true that government bodies placed obstacles to running before several candidates. So it is hard to argue that this week’s election is an open one.

But there is a deeper issue at stake in Egypt than popular elections. That issue is whether Egypt – a country with 90 million citizens – will become a threat to itself and to the world, or whether Egypt will somehow beat the odds, and survive by liberalizing. Sisi is betting on survival through liberalization. If he fails, no amount of open and free and unfettered elections will save Egypt from destruction.

Seven years ago, the same bipartisan elite in Washington that is attacking this week’s elections united in support for overthrowing a longtime U.S. ally, then-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, because he wasn’t democratic enough to satisfy that elite’s members on both sides of the partisan divide. Mubarak was an unapologetic authoritarian who ruled Egypt for 29 years. But he was also the anchor of America’s alliance structure in the Sunni Arab world.

When photogenic protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square staged what the credulous Western media reported as the Facebook Revolution, the elites gushed with excitement. Mubarak’s long service as a U.S. ally made no difference in Washington. Neoliberals in the Obama administration joined together with neoconservatives from the George W. Bush administration to support his overthrow.  The fact that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood engineered the protests and was the only faction in Egypt with the power to replace Mubarak didn’t bother the wise men and women of Washington.

Blinded by their complementary neoconservative and neoliberal world views, they believed, as then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress, that the Muslim Brotherhood was a “largely secular” organization. They believed this, despite the fact that nearly every Sunni Islamic terror group in the world is Muslim Brotherhood spin-off. They believed this despite the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood’s motto, since its founding in the 1920s, was “Allah is our goal; the Prophet is our leader; the Koran is our law; Jihad is our way; Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” Abandoned by the U.S., Mubarak was forced to resign after 18 days of protest. He and his sons were then carted off to prison.

Within a year of Mubarak’s overthrow, Egypt held its first open parliamentary elections between late 2011 until early 2012. The Muslim Brotherhood bloc won 45 percent of the vote. The Salafist party won 25 percent. So when Egyptians were given the freedom to choose their representatives, 70 percent of them voted for Islamic totalitarians who support global jihad and the institution of an Islamic caliphate to rule the world.

In the presidential elections that followed, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsi from the Freedom and Justice Party, won nearly 52 percent of the vote. Much to the amazement of Washington’s wise men and women, after assuming power, Morsi and his parliamentary supporters did not govern as liberals or moderates. The representatives of Islamic totalitarian parties and movement governed as Islamic totalitarians.

Morsi pushed a constitution through the parliament that would have transformed Egypt into an Islamic theocracy. He turned a blind eye to the massive escalation in violence against Coptic Christians and church properties. He assumed dictatorial powers that, among other things, placed his presidency and all of his actions as president above judicial review.

So, far from delivering Egypt into a new era of political freedom, Egypt’s popularly elected president and popularly elected parliament used their power to trample all vestiges of liberalism and democratic order, including the separation of powers and freedom of religion in Egypt. So much for democracy.

The people of Egypt rose up against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood by the millions. Sisi, then defense minister, rose to power as the leader of a military coup that overthrew Morsi and his Islamist regime in July 2013. The Egypt that greeted Sisi was a country on the brink of mass starvation. Foreign currency reserves were almost wiped out.

Today, as the Saudis bankroll his government, Sisi has introduced market reforms into Egypt’s economy. He has committed to transforming the education system into one that provides students with marketable skills, rather than one that focuses on rote learning. He has taken on Egypt’s Islamic religious authorities and called for a reformation of Islam while waging war against the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic terror groups, from Hamas to ISIS.

None of Sisi’s battles are easily won. The Islamic clerics are testing his will and power relative to theirs, while slowing down the reform process he instigated in 2015. There is no silver bullet to solve the Egyptian economy’s fundamental failings. And the Islamists, who won 70 percent of the popular vote in 2012, will not simply disappear because they are being repressed. In the Sinai, they continue to fight a brutal and bloody war against Sisi’s regime.

Then there are the Coptic Christians. The Copts comprise around ten percent of Egypt’s population. They suffered government-sponsored persecution under the Morsi regime. And as a consequence, they were among the most outspoken supporters of the military coup tht brought Sisi to power. Unfortunately, despite the Copts high hopes that the Sisi presidency would protect their rights as Christians and as Egyptian citizens, Sisi has been unable to end the popular persecution of Copts by their Muslim neighbors. Over the past year, despite Sisi’s willingness to stand with the Copts, persecution of the community at local levels has increased. And many Copts are questioning Sisi’s willingness and ability to take the necessary steps to protect them.On the other hand, if Sisi stays the course, and continues to enjoy the support of the Saudis, the US, Israel, Europe, and others, he may survive long enough to make significant changes in Egyptian society.

Unlike President Barack Obama, who supported Morsi even as millions of Egyptians took to the streets throughout Egypt to overthrow him, President Donald Trump has been outspoken in his support for Sisi. If it is to happen, Sisi’s success in rescuing and transforming Egypt won’t be pretty. Coaxing and pushing Egypt into the 21st century culturally, educationally, and economically cannot be done without pushing the scales in favor of certain forces and against others. But the world has a stake in Sisi’s success. If Sisi succeeds, the Islamic world will never be the same. And the world will be safer.

If Sisi fails, then barring an unforeseen miracle, Egypt, with its 90 million people, will fall apart. Tens of millions will starve to death. The Arab world’s most powerful military force will fall into uncertain hands. The Islamists will have no shortage of scapegoats to blame. The implications of such a catastrophe for the region and the world are unimaginable. Sisi’s many critics snort that his one opponent, Moussa Mostafa Moussa, is actually a Sisi supporter. But maybe the critics should stop sticking their noses up at democratically-challenged Sisi and ask Moussa why he supports Sisi. Maybe he supports him because he believes that Sisi is Egypt’s last chance for survival.

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters:

Hag Pesach Sameach! Happy Passover!

 

Contents

On Topic Links

Passover Message from Prime Minister Netanyahu (Video): Youtube, Mar. 21, 2018

Passover Guide for the Perplexed, 2018 (a US angle): Yoram Ettinger, Ettinger Report, Mar. 26, 2018—1. According to the late Prof. Yehudah Elitzur, one of Israel’s pioneers of Biblical research, the Exodus took place in the second half of the 15th century BCE, during the reign of Egypt’s Amenhotep II.

Eight Questions for Passover: Deborah Fineblum, JNS, Mar. 26, 2018 —Why is this year going to be different from all other years? Because this year, you can stump your guests with the meaning behind many of the mysterious rites that comprise the Passover Seder.

Importing Israeli Natural Gas Makes Sense for Egypt: Robin Mills, Bloomberg, Mar. 19, 2018—The discovery of Egypt’s giant Zohr gas field in August 2015 was heralded as the solution to the country’s energy problems. So why did Egypt cut a deal this year to import natural gas from Israel, its former enemy?

WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS OF THE WEEK IN REVIEW”

On Topic Links

Palestinians Set to Reject US Peace Plan: Uri Savir, Al-Monitor, Mar. 25, 2018

Why Palestinians Need an Israel Victory: Daniel Pipes, The Australian, Mar. 24, 2018

Ben-Gurion and Bolton vs. the United Nations: Dr. Rafael Medoff, Jewish Press, Mar. 27, 2018

Why Did I Protest Against Corbyn? Look at his Long List of Evasions: Hadley Freeman, Guardian, Mar. 27, 2018

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

“Delaying it and watching (Iran) getting that bomb, that means you are waiting for the bullet to reach your head…So you have to move from today…We know the target of Iran…If they have a nuclear weapon, it’s a shield for them to let them do whatever they want in the Middle East, to make sure that no one attacks them or they will use their nuclear weapons.” — Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. The crown prince renewed his attack on the Iran nuclear deal during a visit to the U.S., saying the agreement would delay but not prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He reserved his most forceful comments for Iran, Saudi Arabia’s political and religious nemesis. The two countries follow different sects of Islam and are locked in a regional struggle for power and influence that plays out across conflicts in Yemen and Syria, among others. (New York Times, Mar. 27, 2018)

“(John) Bolton now represents the greatest threat to the United States.” — Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). Former ambassador to the UN John Bolton will replace Gen. H.R. McMaster as national security adviser, President Trump said last week. Demeaning Bolton as “an unhinged advocate for waging World War III,” Parsi claimed that his “first order of business will be to convince Trump to exit the Iran nuclear deal and lay the groundwork for the war he has urged over the past decade.” NIAC lobbied in favor of the JCPOA, the 2015 nuclear deal. Parsi added that Bolton’s appointment was “a slap in the face even to Trump’s supporters who thought he would break from waging disastrous foreign wars and military occupations.” (Algemeiner, Mar. 23, 2018)

“The Islamic Republic has managed to restore security in the region and it will be the same in future…The US will no doubt fail to achieve its objectives with regard to the regional issues and the Islamic Republic of Iran will, God willing, accomplish all its goals in the region.” — Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a speech marking the Persian New Year. The Islamic republic’s leader further claimed that Washington had no incentive to defeat I.S. and was incapable of stabilizing the region. Khamenei claimed Tehran was responsible for restoring security to the Middle East, thus defeating “the Americans’ plot.” (Jerusalem Online, Mar. 22, 2018)

“The motivation of our enemies has grown in recent years, but so too the might of the IDF (Israel Defence Forces)…Everyone in the Middle East would do well to internalize this equation.” — Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The IDF confirmed last week it carried out the 2007 airstrike in Syria that destroyed what was believed to be a nuclear reactor, lifting the veil of secrecy over one of its most mysterious operations. The strike was reminiscent of an Israeli attack in 1981 against a reactor being built in Iraq. The strike was later credited with preventing Saddam Hussein from acquiring weapons of mass destruction that could have been used in the Gulf War a decade later. (CBC, Mar. 21, 2018)

“The message from the 2007 attack on the reactor is that Israel will not tolerate construction that can pose an existential threat…This was the message in 1981, this is the message in 2007 and this is the future message to our enemies.” — Military chief Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot. Eisenkot, who at the time commanded Israel’s northern front along the Lebanese and Syrian borders, said it marked Israel’s most comprehensive attack in Syria since the 1973 Mideast war, and that everyone involved knew it could spark a new one. He said only a handful of top commanders were aware of the plans for Operation “Outside The Box.” (CBC, Mar. 21, 2018)

“Israel can deal with Syria independently and doesn’t need any help…If you go to farther ranges, and to a stronger and bigger country, coordination between the U.S. and Israel is much more important.” — Retired Chief of Military Intelligence Amos Yadlin. Yadlin said Israeli military forces are well within their comfort zone fighting against neighbors. It’s when the Israeli forces are tested against those bigger and stronger than themselves that the questions are raised. Yadlin emphasized “Israel should think that there will be cases that she will be left alone — and should develop the capability to deal with [a] nuclear threat by itself, independently.” (Jewish Press, Mar. 21, 2018)

“The time has come to change the name of the Council to the Council for Decisions against the Only Democracy in the Middle East.” — Prime Minister Netanyahu. Netanyahu attacked the UN Human Rights Council following its passing of five resolutions critical of Israel. The prime minister called the council a “circus of the absurd” and said their decisions are “detached from reality.” On Friday, the UNHRC adopted five resolutions critical of Israel’s behavior, while passing only two resolutions on Syria, and one each for South Sudan, Myanmar, Iran and North Korea. (Ynet, Mar. 24, 2018)

“But the price of a seat with a useless vote at the useless UN Security Council comes with the surcharge of conscripting Canadian soldiers in UN peacekeeping operations undertaken only in those hellholes that Xi, Putin and Trump have chosen. So, forget about Myanmar’s genocidal campaign against the minority Rohingya, which Beijing is content to enable and applaud. Never mind about the vast mortuary the butcher Bashar Al-Assad continues to make of what remains of Syria, which the Kremlin is happy to compound. Forget about Turkish caliph Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s rampages in Afrin, which Washington is happy to overlook, even as the Turks slaughter America’s own erstwhile Kurdish allies there.” — Terry Glavin. The Canadian government intends to send peacekeeping troops and an aviation task force to the UN mission in Mali for a year-long deployment. Canada is deploying two Chinook helicopters to provide transport and logistics, and four Griffon helicopters to offer escort and protection services. (National Post, Mar. 21, 2018)

“I want to state clearly that the University does not endorse — and I personally oppose — the action advocated in the referendum, which echoes, in part, the language and sentiment of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement…In general, our University should be extraordinarily wary about such boycotts, given our core values of academic freedom and our commitment to the free exchange of ideas, uncertainty about the impact of such efforts, and concerns that we may be unfairly singling out one government and the citizens of the country in question.” — President Eric Kaler of the University of Minnesota, after a non-binding referendum targeting companies that do business with Israel was approved by students earlier this month. Kaler argued that the ballot — which also sought to penalize the companies for “violating Indigenous sovereignty,” and “maintaining and establishing private prisons and immigrant detention centers” — effectively “convolutes three issues.” Kaler pointed out that “the global BDS movement does not seem to distinguish between opposition to the policies of the government of Israel and opposition to the existence of Israel.” (Algemeiner, Mar. 20, 2018)

“The holiday of Passover represents the festival of freedom for the Jewish people, who left slavery in Egypt and came to freedom here in Israel…To be here in Israel for Passover is a very special moment for me. Every Pesach, at the end of the Haggadah we say ‘Le’Shana Habah B’Yirushalayim’ – Next Year, in Jerusalem. This year, because of the great efforts of our administration, particularly our president, when we say ‘Le’Shana Habah B’Yirushalayim’, it has a special meaning.” — The United States Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, in a special video message ahead of the Passover holiday which begins Friday evening. The United States is expected to officially transfer its embassy from Tel Aviv to the Arnona neighborhood in Jerusalem in May, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel. (Arutz Sheva, Mar. 26, 2018)

Contents

 

SHORT TAKES

4 DEAD INCLUDING SUSPECT IN I.S.-CLAIMED ATTACK IN FRANCE (Paris) — A gun-wielding extremist went on a rampage Friday in southern France, killing three people as he opened fire on police and took hostages in a supermarket. After a standoff, the 25-year-old attacker was slain as elite police forces stormed the market. They were aided by a heroic police officer who had offered himself up in a hostage swap and suffered life-threatening wounds as a result — one of 16 people injured in the day’s violence. I.S. claimed responsibility for the attack near Carcassonne. It was the deadliest attack in France since Emmanuel Macron became president last May. (CTV, Mar. 23, 2018)

FRENCH AUTHORITIES ARREST TWO IN MURDER OF HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR (Paris) — The brutal murder of an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor has been called an antisemitic hate crime by French authorities, who have arrested two suspects in the killing. Two suspects, both in their 20s, including one who had known Mireille Knoll, were charged with stabbing her to death. Knoll’s body was found partially burned, after the killers set her apartment on fire. The prosecutor’s office pointed to antisemitism. The murder of Knoll comes a year after the killing of Sarah Halimi, who was beaten and thrown out of a window by a neighbor, who shouted “Allahu Akbar.” (Tower, Mar. 27, 2018)

UK JEWS ACCUSE CORBYN OF FAILING TO CURB ANTISEMITISM (London) — 1,500 Jewish protesters gathered outside Britain’s Parliament on Monday, accusing opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of allowing antisemitism to spread in his party. Demonstrators at the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BOD) event were met with counter-protests by Jewish Corbyn supporters, leading to heated exchanges and minor physical confrontations. An open letter from the BOD, Anglo-Jewry’s main representative organization, accused the veteran leftist of siding with antisemites “again and again.” Corbyn, who denies the charges of antisemitism against him. (Times of Israel, Mar. 26, 2018)

UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA REJECTS BDS A THIRD TIME (Ottawa) — The University of Ottawa rejected for the third time a motion to endorse BDS. The Board of Administration of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) rejected the motion after having already disapproved a similar motion in November. BDS was also defeated at a general meeting of the SFUO earlier in March. In late 2017, SFUO leadership also attempted to revoke the club status of Hillel Ottawa and the Israel Awareness Committee, the only two registered Jewish clubs on campus. (Arutz Sheva, Mar. 26, 2018)

CATHOLIC EDUCATOR MAKES HOLOCAUST STUDIES MANDATORY (Louisville) — A Catholic teacher helped convince the Kentucky legislature to make teaching about the Holocaust mandatory in public schools. The state Senate unanimously passed the Ann Klein and Fred Gross Holocaust Education Act. New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and California are states that require some measure of Holocaust and genocide education. The bill requires every public middle and high school in the state to include in their curriculum instruction on the Holocaust and other acts of genocide. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 27, 2018)

SUICIDE BOMBER STRIKES SHIITE SHRINE, KILLING AT LEAST 29 PEOPLE (Kabul) — A suicide bomber blew himself up near a major Shiite shrine in Kabul last week, killing at least 29 people on the first day of celebrations for the Persian new year. I.S. claimed responsibility for the attack. It was the latest in a long string of attacks on Shiite targets in the past several years, seen as attempts to create sectarian tensions between majority Sunni Afghans and minority Shiites. The attack also left at least 50 people injured. (National Post, Mar. 21, 2018)

HOUTHI REBELS FIRE MISSILES TOWARD SAUDI CITIES, 1 DEAD (Riyadh) — A rebel group in Yemen said it fired a volley of ballistic missiles toward cities in Saudi Arabia, including Riyadh, where at least one person was killed. The Saudi military said it had intercepted seven missiles, including three aimed at Riyadh. The multipronged attack Sunday — toward cities in southwestern Saudi Arabia, near the border with Yemen, as well as Riyadh — represented a sharp escalation of the Houthi campaign. It imperiled a fledgling effort by a new U.N. envoy to broker peace talks to end the war. The attack came on the third anniversary of the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in Yemen. (Washington Post, Mar. 25, 2018)

AT LEAST 14 DEAD IN CAR BOMB IN SOMALI CAPITAL (Mogadishu) — At least 14 people were killed and 10 others wounded in a car bomb blast near a hotel in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. The explosion occurred on Makka Almukarramah road, a target of attacks in the past by the extremist group al-Shabab, who claimed responsibility for the blast. The group frequently attacks Mogadishu’s high-profile areas such as hotels and military checkpoints. A truck bombing in October killed 512 people in the country’s deadliest-ever attack. Al-Shabab was blamed. Thursday’s blast comes almost exactly a month after two car bomb explosions in Mogadishu killed at least 21 people. (Washington Post, Mar. 22, 2018)

NIGERIAN POLICE: BOKO HARAM TO FREE 1 MORE KIDNAPPED GIRL (Maiduguri) — Islamic extremists who abducted 111 girls last month in Dapchi, Nigeria are releasing one more girl, police said. Leah Sharibu, 15, was held back when 105 of her classmates were freed by Boko Haram extremists after negotiations. She remained a prisoner because she is Christian and refused to convert to Islam, her mother said. Boko Haram extremists stormed Dapchi village on Feb. 19, abducting the schoolgirls. The mass abduction caused a fresh round of outrage in Nigeria, and evoked painful memories of Boko Haram’s kidnapping of 276 girls from a boarding school in Chibok in 2014. (National Post, Mar. 24, 2018)

GAZAN TERRORISTS CAPTURED 12 MILES INSIDE ISRAEL (Jerusalem) — Three Arabs armed with knives and hand grenades entered Israel from the Gaza Strip and were arrested about 12 miles inside Israel. This is the second time in four days that Gaza Arabs have been able to penetrate Israel’s border fence. On Saturday, four Arabs entered Israeli territory through the security fence along the Gaza Strip border near Kibbutz Kissufim, carrying bags containing bottles of flammable materials. They tried to set fire to engineering vehicles and returned to the Gaza Strip unharmed. (Jewish Press, Mar. 27, 2018)

TAMIMI TO SERVE 8 MONTHS IN PRISON (Jerusalem) — Ahed Tamimi, the 16-year-old Palestinian girl who was filmed slapping an IDF soldier in December, was sentenced to eight months in prison after reaching a plea bargain with the prosecution. In addition, the teen also received a fine of 5,000 shekels. The Palestinian is set to be released in July, as four months of her sentence were already served. Meanwhile, her mother Nariman was charged with incitement on social media and assault and was sentenced to eight months in prison and a fine of 6,000 shekels, while her cousin Nour, who participated in the incident, was charged with assault and sentenced to 16 days. (Jerusalem Online, Mar. 22, 2018)

ABBAS GREETS TERRORIST RELEASED FROM PRISON (Jerusalem) — PA President Abbas was among the hundreds of east Jerusalem residents who came to greet a terrorist who was released from Israeli prison last week. Rajaei Haddad, a resident of Jerusalem’s Old City, was part of the terror cell that murdered Gabriel Hirschberg in an attack on HaGai Street in November 1997. Upon his return home from prison, he was welcomed with a huge reception in the al-Ram neighborhood. According to the MEMRI Institute, Haddad received a dignified and sympathetic personal welcome from the Palestinian leader. Haddad spent 20 years in an Israeli prison for his complicity in a terror attack. (Ynet, Mar. 19, 2018)

HAMAS ANNOUNCES ‘SHEIKH YASSIN FREEDOMS AND HUMAN RIGHTS’ AWARD (Gaza) — Last week, Hamas announced the Sheikh Ahmed Yassin Award for Public Freedoms and Human Rights. Yassin was a founder and prominent leader of Hamas, who was dubbed by Israel the “mastermind of Palestinian terror” and a “mass murderer.” The Israeli government accused Yassin of direct responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks on civilians, and of being behind dozens of suicide attacks by Hamas against Israeli civilians. Yassin was killed in an Israeli attack on March 22, 2004—hence the award launching on Thursday, 14 years later. (Jewish Press, Mar. 23, 2018)

U.S. BUSTS IRANIAN HACKING SCHEME (Washington) — The Justice Department revealed charges against an Iranian hacking ring that spent years pilfering research from over 100 American universities and government agencies. DOJ specifically targeted the Iran-based Mabna Institute, which it says was founded “to assist Iranian universities and scientific and research organizations in stealing access to non-Iranian scientific resources.” Over the course of four years, prosecutors say, hackers working for the Mabna Institute stole at least 31 terabytes of data from 144 U.S. universities, totaling $3.4 billion in intellectual property. The group also cracked into 176 foreign universities. (Politico, Mar. 23, 2018)

RENOWNED SPEAKER WHO FIGHTS EXTREMISM TO ADDRESS UN WATCH GALA (Geneva) — Maajid Nawaz, a former recruiter for hardline Islamist group Hizbut Tahrir, now a leading counter-extremism activist, author, and radio host, will speak at UN Watch’s 25th Anniversary Gala Dinner, on May 7, 2018, in Geneva, Switzerland. Nawaz is a leading critic of Islamism and a campaigner for liberal democratic values. In 2008, he founded the Quilliam Foundation, a pioneering counter-extremism organization which works to combat the ideological underpinnings of terrorism and provide policy recommendations to governments. UN Watch’s Gala will feature Nawaz and former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. For tickets email: gala@unwatch.org. (UN Watch, Mar. 22, 2018)

AIR INDIA MAKES HISTORY BY FLYING TO ISRAEL VIA SAUDI AIRSPACE (Tel Aviv) — The direct maiden flight of Air India to Tel Aviv from New Delhi arrived on Thursday, ending a decades-old overfly ban by Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s decision to permit Air India to use its airspace has enabled the airline to take a shorter route. It will cover the distance in 7.15 hours, 2.10 hours less than the time taken by the only other airline that flies between the two countries — Israel’s national carrier El Al. Many Arab and Islamic nations do not recognize Israel and, therefore, disallow airlines from using their airspace for flight services to that country. (Times of India, Mar. 23, 2018)

RARE TROVE OF COINS MINTED BY JEWISH REVOLT DISCOVERED (Jerusalem) — Archeologists unearthed a trove of rare bronze coins dating from the last years of the Roman-Jewish War (66-73CE) in a cave near the south wall of the Temple Mount. The discovery was part of the Ophel excavation and included dozens of bronze coins as well as fragments of pottery from the rebellion of the Jews of Israel against Roman rule. Archeologists believe the coins were left by Jewish residents of Second Temple Jerusalem who sought refuge from the Roman siege in a cave. In February, the Ophel excavation uncovered a 2,700 year old seal which may have belonged to the Prophet Isaiah. (JNS, Mar. 27, 2018)

CAIRO GENIZAH PROJECT REVEALS 11TH CENTURY PASSOVER HAGGADAH (Cairo) — An ancient Haggadah from the Cairo Genizah, probably from the 10th-11th centuries CE, opens a window to the Jewish customs of the Middle Ages: the Passover Seder guidelines are written in Judeo-Arabic (Arabic in Hebrew letters). The Cairo Genizah is a collection of some 350,000 Jewish manuscript fragments that were found in the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo. These manuscripts outline 1,000 years of Jewish North African history and comprise the largest and most diverse collection of medieval manuscripts in the world. In honor of Passover, two pages from one of the ancient Haggadahs found in the Genizah are presented in the JTS library in New York. (Jewish Press, Mar. 28, 2018)

On Topic Links

Palestinians Set to Reject US Peace Plan: Uri Savir, Al-Monitor, Mar. 25, 2018—Despite growing tensions with the Palestinians, US President Donald Trump still intends to reveal a US peace plan for the Middle East. The plan will apparently be divulged right after the US Embassy moves to Jerusalem and after Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Why Palestinians Need an Israel Victory: Daniel Pipes, The Australian, Mar. 24, 2018—The moment is right for fresh thinking in order to dispatch the old and stale Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Ben-Gurion and Bolton vs. the United Nations: Dr. Rafael Medoff, Jewish Press, Mar. 27, 2018 —Presumably, David Ben-Gurion would have disagreed with John Bolton on a number of issues. But the Israeli founding father likely would have appreciated the incoming National Security Advisor’s strong skepticism regarding the United Nations.

Why Did I Protest Against Corbyn? Look at his Long List of Evasions: Hadley Freeman, Guardian, Mar. 27, 2018—It was a politely furious protest. I’ll talk about the politeness first. I arrived a few minutes late to Parliament Square for the demonstration against … well, let’s say the somewhat cavalier attitude towards antisemitism displayed by various members of the Labour party, and specifically the most senior member of the Labour party.

ERDOGAN’S NEO-OTTOMAN AMBITIONS & ISLAMIST IDEOLOGY PUT TURKEY ON “COLLISION COURSE” WITH U.S

The Real Cost of Afrin: Amir Taheri, Gatestone Institute, Mar. 25, 2018— With the Turkish flag hoisted on top of the municipal building in Afrin the other day, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his supporters are in triumphal mood.

Turkey’s Syrian Battleground: Burak Bekdil, BESA, Mar. 21, 2018— In a rather theatrical show, the fall of the city of Afrin – a Kurdish enclave in northwestern Syria…

Navigating the US Collision Course with Turkey: Gregg Roman, The Hill, Mar. 5, 2018— In a rare public policy speech in mid-December, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster singled out Turkey as one of the two leading state sponsors (alongside Qatar) of “radical Islamist ideology.”

Erdogan’s Ban on Wikipedia Another Example of his Campaign Against Free Speech: Editorial, Globe & Mail, Mar. 7, 2018 — Wikipedia has entries for every Ottoman sultan.

On Topic Links

Turkey Vows to Widen Offensive to Eastern Syria, Iraq: Suzan Fraser & Sarah El Deeb, Globe & Mail, Mar. 19, 2018

Turkey’s Syrian Battleground: Burak Bekdil, BESA, Mar. 21, 2018

“Army Of Islam”: Erdogan’s Plot Against Israel: Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 21, 2018

Turkish Leader Claims Muslim Victory Over Europe, Cites Trump’s ‘Alliance’ With Jews as Obstacle: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz, Breaking Israel News, Mar. 21, 2018

 

THE REAL COST OF AFRIN

Amir Taheri

Gatestone Institute, Mar. 25, 2018

With the Turkish flag hoisted on top of the municipal building in Afrin the other day, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his supporters are in triumphal mood. In a sense they have the right to be, as this is the first time in almost 100 years that Turkey has scored a military victory against an adversary ready to fight. (Turkey’s occupation of part of Cyprus in 1974 was achieved without major fighting.)

However, the euphoria inspired by what Erdogan terms “an historic victory” would have to be tempered by reality. That NATO’s largest army in Europe should win a war against a ragtag band of lightly armed Kurds is no surprise. This is neither Alp Arsalan, after Malazegrd, nor Sultan Muhammad Fatih after capturing Byzantium.

The capture of Afrin represents a 19th century solution for a 21st century problem that Turkey faces. Judging by official statements from Ankara, Erdogan is trying to create what 19th century strategists termed a cordon sanitaire or a glacis, supposedly to protect Turkey against incursions by Kurdish “terrorists”. However, military history, at least since the debacle of the Maginot Line enterprise in 1939, shows that such concepts as cordon sanitaire and glacis are no longer relevant to modern warfare, especially of the asymmetric kind to which Turkey remains vulnerable. The classical concepts of glacis and cordon sanitaire triggered a process that would lead either to further expansion and empire-building or ultimate irrelevance. To protect a glacis you have to create another glacis next to it, and so on, ad infinitum.

Thus, Erdogan’s glacis in Syrian-Kurdish territory would need protection from neighboring areas in the rest of Syria as well as Kurdish provinces in Iraq, not to mention Iran which could, as it has done for decades, offer the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) safe haven or even operational bases against Turkey. On a more mundane level, the Kurdish “terrorists” that pose a threat to Turkey could always cross the border with little difficulty, a practice that terrorists of all ilk excel in across the globe.

Paradoxically, sole reliance on force and a determined attempt at humiliating the adversary could help rekindle the PKK’s narrative of victimhood as a justification for violence and terror. That is especially regrettable because Turkey’s Kurdish minority has done rather well under Erdogan. Those familiar with the situation on the ground in Turkey know that during Erdogan’s stewardship of the state, the country’s Kurdish-majority areas have come out of abject poverty and enjoy a measure of prosperity they had never known before.

Empirical and anecdotal evidence indicate that the PKK’s Marxist-Leninist ideology and its chimera of a proletarian state replacing the Turkish Republic have limited appeal among Turkey’s Kurds. What sympathy the PKK attracts is rooted in the cluster of so-called “identity issues”, the “them against us” that feeds secessionism even in Scotland or Catalonia. By removing many of those “identity issues”, Erdogan in the first phases of his leadership succeeded in depriving the PKK of much of its ideological fodder. That great achievement was dramatically illustrated by the public change of tone and course by a significant segment of the PKK leadership, notably its founding father the imprisoned Abdullah Ocalan.

The capture of Afrin, even supposing it will be permanent, will not solve Turkey’s Kurdish problem. But, with the law of unintended consequences being triggered, it could lead Turkey into a whole new maze of problems. Already a good part of Turk’s elite troops are bogged down in Cyprus with no end in sight. The glacis that Erdogan wants to build in Syria could end up pinning down even more of Turkey’s elite troops, provoking a strategic imbalance in the nation’s overall defense doctrine and the means needed to sustain it. And that is without mentioning economic cost of such involvements.

The Syrian glacis would also implicate Turkey in any project for recreating a new Syria out of the bits and pieces of a broken state. Other nations currently involved in the Syrian quagmire, including Russia, Iran and the United States, could easily walk away, as their presence does not have a territorial expression. Even if it decided to hang on to a base in Syria, Russia would be able to defend the enclave on the Mediterranean without seeing is own territory threatened by enemy infiltration. Iran could also withdraw its Lebanese and other mercenaries without exposing its own territory to perennial terrorist threats. Turkey, however, could get locked in the Syrian fate as Rwanda is in Congo-Kinshasa’s interminable turmoil…

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

 

TURKEY’S SYRIAN BATTLEGROUND

Burak Bekdil

BESA, Mar. 21, 2018

In a rather theatrical show, the fall of the city of Afrin – a Kurdish enclave in northwestern Syria – after two months of battle between Turkish and Turkey-backed troops and Kurdish militia coincided with the 103rd anniversary of the Turkish victory in Gallipoli. Victory speeches were delivered one after another. Turks cheered in collective euphoria. Front pages were splashed with nationalistic headlines and stories of “our heroic soldiers.”

Among the scenes was footage, posted by the military, of a soldier holding a Turkish flag over a local government building. Another image showed a soldier raising and saluting a Turkish flag over the city.  Even footballers who scored on the pitch, both Turkish and foreign, gave audiences a “soldier’s salute.” The opposition rushed to congratulate the “heroic Turkish army.” Some of that sentiment is real and some fake, especially considering the certainty of arrest if one expresses the slightest objection to Operation Olive Branch.

Erdoğan made contradictory speeches during the campaign. One day he promised that “conquest was near”; on another he said Turkish troops would come to Afrin to clear the city of its terrorist population and return it to its rightful owners. But he has been the main beneficiary of a newfound feeling of glory among Turkey’s increasingly nationalistic masses.

There is already speculation in political circles in Ankara that the Syrian offensive has boosted Erdoğan’s popularity by eight to nine percentage points. According to the BBC’s Mark Lowen, “President Erdoğan has achieved his twin objectives: to remove a key area under (the Kurdish People’s Protection Units) YPG control and to rally the vast majority of Turks behind their commander-in-chief. The jingoism here has been breathtaking. Targeting Turkey’s age-old enemy of the Kurdish militants is a rare uniting force in a polarized country.”

The Syrian war theater has also provided the Turkish military with the opportunity to test some of the indigenous weapons systems local defense companies have developed in recent years. In addition, the “real” military exercises in the Afrin enclave allowed Turkish commanders and defense procurement authorities to better spot technological and operational weaknesses and supremacy. For instance, Turkish drones, armed and unarmed, were intensively used and proved to be very successful assets. But Turkey’s aging US-made and German-made tanks were vulnerable to enemy fire, even when that fire did not come from a modern, regular army.

During the two-month military campaign, Turkey tested some of its new weaponry, and not only in Syria. State-controlled missile maker Roketsan tested a ballistic missile over the Black Sea. Military electronics specialist Aselsan, another state-controlled entity and Turkey’s biggest defense firm, tested its Akkor Pulat active protection system, which will be added to Turkish tanks with priority for the fleet used in Syria. Turkey also wants to add other additional defensive measures to its tanks including explosive reactive armor. Also tested recently and probably heading soon for Syria is Alkar, a 360-degree 120-mm gun system developed by Aselsan.

But then there is the political side of the military campaign in Syria. No doubt, the fall of Afrin dealt a blow to Kurdish aspirations for self-rule in northern Syria and further boosted Turkey’s growing military/political clout in the country. The main loser is the YGP, which has sought to consolidate control over Kurdish areas of Syria in the hopes of forging an autonomous state. (The YPG, which Turkey views as a terrorist organization and an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, had controlled Afrin since 2012 in addition to other swaths of territory in northern and eastern Syria.)

Alliances in the area are fragile and complex. Some Syrian Kurds welcomed the Turkish army; some fled to wage guerrilla warfare south and east of Afrin. The Kurds are not monolithic: some feel sympathy for PKK/YPG, but some campaign to break free of the two militant entities. Some Syrian fighters originally took up arms to fight President Bashar al-Assad’s regime but are now fighting the Syrian Kurds. One such fighter complained that Turkey has shifted its focus from regime change in Syria to preventing the emergence of a Kurdish belt in northern Syria. Another says the revolution had gone off course.

Erdoğan, meanwhile, has vowed that the army will not leave Afrin “before the job is done.” He says Turkey will broaden the offensive into northeastern Syria and go to Manbij, where Kurdish forces remain allied with US troops, then go east of the Euphrates and all the way up to the Syrian-Iraqi border. According to the Turkish game plan, the military offensive will not end there. Erdoğan has vowed to fight the PKK in its northern Iraqi stronghold. Press reports said on March 19 that Turkish troops, backed by air cover, had been deployed in northern Iraq amid violent clashes with PKK fighters. Kurdish local officials said Turkish forces were now stationed in the sub-district of Sidakan and had already set up fixed barracks in the border triangle between Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.

All the same, there seems to be a missing link between the military operation and its political goal. In its official language, Turkey says its army is fighting in Syria and Iraq to quash terrorists. It is, however, an open secret that the operation aims to quash Kurdish aspirations for self-rule, which Turkey fears could inspire its own Kurdish minority to demand greater autonomy.

The PKK officially launched its violent campaign in 1984. Since then, more than 40,000 people have been killed in the armed dispute, despite the arrest in 1999 of Abdullah Ocalan, PKK’s jailed leader. Some of Turkey’s Kurds aspired to take up arms long before the Iraqi Kurds consolidated power and set up an autonomous region in the country’s north after the US invasion in 2003, and before the Syrian Kurds built their own enclaves in northern Syria after the Syrian civil war in 2011. Experience shows there might not be a strong linkage between the emergence of Kurdish entities in neighboring countries and Turkish Kurds’ aspirations for self-determination…

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

                                                           

                                                                        Contents

   

NAVIGATING THE US COLLISION COURSE WITH TURKEY

Gregg Roman

The Hill, Mar. 5, 2018

In a rare public policy speech in mid-December, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster singled out Turkey as one of the two leading state sponsors (alongside Qatar) of “radical Islamist ideology.” The Turkish government protested the statement as “astonishing, baseless and unacceptable,” which means it was a pretty good start. McMaster’s speech highlighted the emergence of the pernicious threat in Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey.

Since McMaster’s speech, Erdoğan invaded Afrin (controlled by a U.S. ally) in Syria, resulting in the massacre of women, children and the elderly; promoted the use of child soldiers in his fight against the Kurds; and was found to have undermined U.S. sanctions against Iran. Largely missing from this discussion is why the United States continues to allow Erdoğan’s malign behavior in the region, and more important, what policymakers should do about it.

A Manhattan Federal District Court guilty verdict against a Turkish banker accused of helping Iran evade sanctions speaks volumes about the growing threat posed by Erdoğan’s Turkey. Although Erdoğan was not charged in the case, “testimony suggested he had approved the [defendant’s] sanctions-busting scheme” to launder billions of dollars for Iran beginning in 2012, according to the New York Times.

That Erdoğan was secretly weakening U.S. sanctions right when Iran was feeling the pinch should come as no surprise. He has been repositioning Turkey as an adversary of the United States for years — covertly aiding ISIS in Syria (before switching sides on a dime to align with Russian forces), overtly embracing Hamas terrorists, flooding Europe with migrants, and hosting an international summit condemning U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, to name just a few of the lowlights.

While wishful thinkers still hold out hope that U.S.-Turkish relations are strained by short-term concerns and eventually will rebound, a growing chorus of voices led by Daniel Pipes believes that “Erdoğan’s hostile dictatorship” has passed the point of no return and cannot be reconciled with American interests and values. Erdoğan’s increasingly brutal methods of governance, particularly since a July 2016 failed coup attempt against his regime, is wholly unbecoming of a NATO ally. In late December, he issued an emergency decree that effectively legalizes politically-motivated lynching. For Washington, it is time to both up the ante in seeking a course correction by Erdoğan and to prepare for the worst. This path forward should be guided by the following basic principles.

No more silence: Since Erdoğan goes out of his way to lambaste the United States at every turn, Washington should make a practice of not holding back when it disapproves of his behavior. The United States should speak out against Erdoğan’s continuing oppression of minority Kurds, in Turkey and in neighboring Syria and Iraq. In particular, it should call for the release of Kurdish political leaders jailed by Erdoğan, such as Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of the Kurdish-dominated Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). It should invite Kurdish representatives to visit Washington for high-profile meetings at the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon.

No more favors: Last June, the United States International Trade Commission issued a report finding that Turkey has been subsidizing the sale of steel reinforcing bars (rebars) in the United States, a judgment that ordinarily leads to the imposition of anti-dumping tariffs. As of yet this hasn’t happened, but it must. More serious penalties await Turkey for purchasing the S-400 missile system from Russia last year, which clearly ran afoul of new U.S. sanctions on Russia (the manufacturer has been explicitly blacklisted by the State Department). The White House should immediately put to rest speculation that it intends to waive these penalties.

No more trust: Whichever direction Erdoğan’s ambitions take Turkey, one thing is certain — his regime cannot be trusted with sensitive military technology and intelligence. The United States should expel Turkey from the nine-nation consortium producing the next-generation F-35 fighter jet. The risk that the plane’s technological secrets will find their way from Turkey to Russia or Iran is too great. The United States should remove dozens of nuclear weapons presently stored at Incirlik air base in southern Turkey. Although adequate safeguards are in place, these weapons serve no practical purpose (aircraft stationed at the base cannot load them) and their continued presence might be misconstrued as a U.S. endorsement of Erdoğan’s reliability as an ally.

No more second chances: Erdoğan’s government arrested more than a dozen American citizens of Turkish descent (along with tens of thousands of its own subjects) in the wake of the July 2016 coup attempt — including a NASA scientist who happened to be visiting family — on unspecified suspicion of involvement. Most were denied consular access until recently and at least seven are still being held — as hostages, more or less, with Erdoğan offering to trade them for the extradition of a political rival living in the United States.

While on a May 2017 visit to Washington, Erdoğan ordered his security detail to viciously attack peaceful protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence. A similar, equally appalling episode happened when he visited in 2016. Washington must make it crystal clear to Erdoğan that egregiously violating the laws of the United States, the sanctity of its soil, or the rights of its citizens one more time will result in immediate sanctions banning him and his lieutenants from stepping foot in this country (or inside one of its embassies) ever again. In conclusion, while Turkey’s relative political stability, economic strength and military power make it a desirable ally, they also make it a formidable enemy. Now is the time to make it clear to Erdoğan and his subjects that America no longer plays nice with its enemies.

                                                                       

Contents

   

ERDOGAN’S BAN ON WIKIPEDIA ANOTHER

EXAMPLE OF HIS CAMPAIGN AGAINST FREE SPEECH

Editorial

Globe & Mail, Mar. 7, 2018

Wikipedia has entries for every Ottoman sultan. There is Mehmed the Conqueror, Suleiman the Magnificent, and even lesser known grandees such as Selim the Blond. To this list, the site may soon have to add Erdogan the Censor. Not that anyone in Turkey would notice.

Since last April, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s increasingly autocratic regime has blocked the digital encyclopedia in his country for being part of a “smear campaign” against Turkey. The government said it objected to content on Wikipedia presenting Turkey as a terror supporter, but the particular offence hardly matters: Mr. Erdogan has been such a consistent and egregious foe of free expression that it would surprising if he had failed to interfere with the site. Wikipedia recently launched a public campaign to get the site back online, with the slogan We Miss Turkey.

They’ll be lucky to get anywhere. Mr. Erdogan has become shameless about blocking access to websites and needling their administrators to remove controversial content, according to the website Turkey Blocks. That crackdown is part of a much larger and nastier campaign against critics of the government launched in the wake of a failed coup in 2016. According to Human Rights Watch, Turkey has jailed more than 150 media workers in recent years. Just last month, a Turkish court sentenced three prominent journalists to life in prison for alleged involvement in the coup attempt. Mr. Erdogan’s turn to autocracy, crystallized by his victory in a referendum last year that consolidated his power, has been tragic for a country that just over a decade ago was en route to joining the European Union.

Where does Wikipedia fit into all of this? It is easy to mock, full of errors large and small. But at its best, what a miracle the site is. As a repository of the world’s knowledge, it makes the Library of Alexandria (which has a solid Wikipedia page of its own) look like a curbside book bin. Among the more than 300,000 Turkish-language Wikipedia entries, you can read about Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. Unless, that is, you live in Turkey. Mr. Erdogan is deliberately undoing Ataturk’s vision of a progressive, secular and open state. It’s clear he would prefer that no one in his country discuss that subject.

Contents

On Topic Links

Turkey Vows to Widen Offensive to Eastern Syria, Iraq: Suzan Fraser & Sarah El Deeb, Globe & Mail, Mar. 19, 2018—Turkey’s president vowed Monday to keep up the pressure against a U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia after his troops captured the Syrian town of Afrin, threatening to expand the military offensive into other Kurdish-held areas across northern Syria and even into neighbouring Iraq.

Turkey’s Syrian Battleground: Burak Bekdil, BESA, Mar. 21, 2018—In a rather theatrical show, the fall of the city of Afrin – a Kurdish enclave in northwestern Syria – after two months of battle between Turkish and Turkey-backed troops and Kurdish militia coincided with the 103rd anniversary of the Turkish victory in Gallipoli. Victory speeches were delivered one after another. Turks cheered in collective euphoria. Front pages were splashed with nationalistic headlines and stories of “our heroic soldiers.”

“Army Of Islam”: Erdogan’s Plot Against Israel: Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 21, 2018—Less than a month ago, in advance of the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, the Turkish daily Yeni Şafak, which is considered one of the mouthpieces of Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), published an article entitled “A Call for Urgent Action.”

Turkish Leader Claims Muslim Victory Over Europe, Cites Trump’s ‘Alliance’ With Jews as Obstacle: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz, Breaking Israel News, Mar. 21, 2018—A prominent Turkish official has claimed that as a result of demographic trends in Europe, “Europe will be Muslim.” An expert on Islam says this “Islamization” is intentional, a form of silent Jihad explicitly described in the Quran as a way of conquering nations demographically.