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

Month: October 2018

WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS OF THE WEEK IN REVIEW”

On Topic Links

President Pays Respects (Video): Jerusalem Online, Oct. 31, 2018

The Lives Lost in the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting: Washington Post, Oct. 28, 2018

Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre Exposes Sarsour’s Two-Faced Opportunism: IPT News, October 29, 2018

Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories Proliferate in Labour: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, BESA, October 29, 2018

 

WEEKLY QUOTES 

“Nearly eighty years since Kristallnacht, when the Jews of Europe perished in the flames of their houses of worship, one thing is clear. Antisemitism, Jew hating, is not a distant memory. Antisemitism is a clear and present danger. But we will prevail. The Tree of Life will never be uprooted by hatred.” — Minister of Jews in the Diaspora, and Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett. Bennett addressed a memorial vigil held in the city of Pittsburgh, for the 11 members of the Jewish community murdered in the shooting attack at the Tree of Life Congregation on Saturday…”Today, we stand in the shadow of death. In the shadow of evil. In the shadow of a cowardly, terror attack on Jews who were in synagogue to pray. The deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the history of the United States…But today, I met the people, and the leaders of the community here in Pittsburgh, and I didn’t see death. I saw life, strength. I saw a warm community, of love and unity. I saw the Tree of Life, which will never be uprooted by hatred.” (Oct. 29, 2018)

“We are thinking of the families of those murdered and praying for the quick recovery of those injured…I am sure that the law enforcement and legal authorities in the US will investigate this horrific event thoroughly and that justice will be served on the despicable murderer…Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the events in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We are thinking of ‘our brothers and sisters, the whole house of Israel, in time of trouble,’ as we say in the morning prayers.” — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. The killer, 46-year-old Robert Bowers, is allegedly an antisemitic white supremacist. Bowers allegedly bragged on social media about the weapons he had, and spewed his hate for Jews, who he referred to as “invaders” in a post about the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS). He brought at least two handguns and an AR-15 assault rifle with him to the Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday morning (Oct. 27), where a brit mila (circumcision ceremony) was in progress when he began to carry out the mass murder. (Jewish Press, Oct. 27, 2018)

“The president of the United States is always welcome at our synagogue…I’m a citizen, he is my president. He is certainly welcome.” — Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, of Tree of Life synagogue. President Trump ignored loud protests from some who warned him that he was “not welcome” in Pittsburgh, arriving to offer condolences for the 11 Jewish victims who were slaughtered at the Tree of Life. Protesters held a protest against the president as his visit began, claiming he is an antisemite whose rhetoric was at least partly responsible for the attack. Local sources said the protests by Jews were driven by the local chapter of “Bend the Arc,” founded in 2012 as a national advocacy organization. Three years later, with the help of Alexander Soros, son of liberal philanthropist George Soros, the group launched its first Jewish political action committee focused on dealing solely with domestic issues. (Jewish Press, Oct. 31, 2018)

“I am shocked because of the number. The carnage. The tragedy. But not surprised. Because for all my years, I’ve been saying to the Jewish community and beyond, anti-Semitism is real in this country. We have millions of anti-Semites. Their anti-Semitism is latent. They don’t get up in the morning and say, How can I get the Jews? How can I hurt the Jews? But the potential is always there. It’s not an exact science. But from everything that we know, acts directed at Jews in the US have ranged from 1,200 to 1,800 a year, depending on who measures, who reports. Anti-Semitism is still the number one hate target in America, not Muslims. God forbid, I don’t want Muslims to be targeted. To this day, [there are] more attacks, more assaults, against Jews than any other faith.” — Abraham Foxman, former Director of the Anti-Defamation League. (Times of Israel, Oct. 30, 2018)

“The Canadian Institute for Jewish Research condemns the vicious murders of eleven Jews in the Etz Chaim/Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and extends its profound sympathy to the families of the victims and wounded, including the courageous police who, risking their own live, rushed to defend the congregation and disarmed the assailant. Rising antisemitism, of both the extreme left and right, nurtured by the dynamics of the ubiquitous “social media”, has been well documented recently in the U.S. and Canada, including a rising tempo of synagogue desecrations. We also observe with increasing anxiety the toleration of virulent anti-Israel sentiments among elements of the left (“progressive”) wing of the U.S.’s Democratic Party. This phenomenon, not dissimilar from the situation in Europe and Great Britain (where Jeremy Corbyn, a known and unrepentant antisemite, currently heads the British Labour Party), is deeply concerning.” — Professor Frederick Krantz, Director, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research. (CIJR, Oct. 29, 2018)

“We are sickened by this horrific attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh’s historic Jewish neighborhood. … Americans need and want leadership from both sides of the political aisle to stop the continuous slide to the brink.” — Dean and Founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Marvin Hier and Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Abraham Cooper, in a statement. The statement called on President Donald Trump to “immediately convene an emergency meeting of religious leaders to help stop the slide to extremism in American Society.” (Algemeiner, Oct. 27, 2018)

“Absolutely appalling and a criminal act, but does it ever occur to Bibi [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] and the present Israeli government that it’s [sic] actions against Palestinians may be re-igniting antisemitism? I suppose someone will say that it is antisemitic to say so?” — Baroness Jenny Tonge. Tonge, an independent peer in the UK’s House of Lords, has suggested that the Israeli government bears some responsibility for the attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue. The post has since been removed from social media, and Tonge issued an apology. Tonge has twice been suspended by the UK’s Liberal Democrats over allegations of antisemitism and eventually resigned. (United With Israel, Oct. 28, 2018)

“I also told the crown prince. I said, ‘You know how to make people talk. Whatever happened between these 18 people, this dodgy business is among them. If you are determined to lift suspicion, then the key point of our cooperation is these 18 people.’” — President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. Turkish prosecutors have prepared an extradition request for 18 suspects from Saudi Arabia in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, after Erdogan urged Riyadh to disclose who ordered the murder. (Globe & Mail, Oct. 26, 2018)

“In a widely broadcast speech this week, Mr. Erdogan used the occasion to lecture his rivals in Riyadh about transparency and pose as a protector of journalists. Amid the horror of Mr. Khashoggi’s slaying, Turkey is presenting itself as a model of respect for the rule of law. That can’t be allowed to happen. The Erdogan regime stomps on the rights of ordinary citizens and shackles its press with legal attacks and financial coercion. It may try to launder its reputation by grandstanding through the Khashoggi affair, but Ankara is little better than Riyadh…Turkey has since become the world’s leading jailer of journalists. More than 150 members of the press have been imprisoned on bogus charges since the coup attempt, an estimated 2,500 have lost their jobs and some 180 media outlets have been shut down, according to the #FreeTurkeyMedia campaign.” — Editorial. (Globe & Mail, Oct. 25, 2018)

“We will prove to the world that the two governments (Saudi and Turkish) are cooperating to punish any criminal, any culprit and at the end justice will prevail.” — Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Prince Mohammed vowed that the killers of Jamal Khashoggi would be brought to justice, in his first public comments since the journalist’s murder sparked global condemnation. Saudi Arabia and Turkey would work together “to reach results” on a joint investigation and described cooperation between the two countries as “special”, despite criticism from Ankara. “The incident that happened is very painful, for all Saudis… The incident is not justifiable,” the crown prince said. “There are now those who are trying to take advantage of the painful situation to create a rift between the kingdom and Turkey,” he said. “I want to send them a message that they cannot do this as long as there a king named Salman bin Abdulaziz and a crown prince named Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia, and a president in Turkey named Erdogan.” (Globe & Mail, Oct. 24, 2018)

“The time is now for the cessation of hostilities, including missile and UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) strikes from Houthi-controlled areas into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates…Subsequently, Coalition air strikes must cease in all populated areas in Yemen.” — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Pompeo said missile and drone strikes by Iran-allied Houthi rebels against Saudi Arabia and the UAE should stop, and the Saudi-led coalition must cease air strikes in all populated areas of Yemen. Yemen is one of the poorest Arab countries and faces the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by a four-year-old war that pits the Houthis against the internationally recognized government backed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the West. (Global, Oct. 31, 2018)

“We always thought that if we solved the Palestinian problem it would open up the doors to peace with the broader Arab world. And that’s certainly true if you could do it. But it may mean that equally true and perhaps even truer is that if you open up to the Arab world and you normalize relations with them it will open the door for an eventual reconciliation and peace with the Palestinians…We should do both but I think you should not underestimate the openness and the thirst in the Arab world today for Israel. And the reason, the first reason before anything else, is that we’re there in innovation.” — Prime Minister Netanyahu. Netanyahu made a surprise visit to Oman, an Arab Muslim state which has no diplomatic ties with Israel. The last such Israeli visit occurred in 1996, when former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, traveled to Oman to open an Israel Trade Representation office. Netanyahu has long argued that the Arab world is open to normalized economic ties with Israel, even in advance of any resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 26, 2018)

“The (Oman) visit was symbolic and extraordinary…(Netanyahu is) telling those who may have doubted, ‘Look, my approach is working. Nobody cares about the Palestinians, I’m welcomed everywhere and it’s just the beginning.’” — Yoel Guzansky, an Israeli expert on the Gulf States and Iran at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. “Symbolism is very important in the Middle East,” he added. In another sign of warming ties with the gulf countries, Israel’s culture and sports minister, Miri Regev, traveled to the United Arab Emirates to accompany Israel’s judo team at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam 2018. (New York Times, Oct. 26, 2018)

“The Zionist regime seeks to sow discord among Muslim countries and cover up 70 years of usurpation and aggression and killing of innocent Palestinian people…History shows that submission and capitulating to the illegitimate demands of the United States and the usurper Zionist regime will further embolden them to exert more pressure, advance further into the region and ignore the inalienable and legitimate rights of the Palestinian nation.” — Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi. Qassemi said Netanyahu’s visit to Oman was an effort to cover up his regime’s policy of occupation and massacre of Palestinians. (Jerusalem Online, Oct. 28, 2018)

“I hope very much that Syria will not misuse these missiles [S-300], because if Syria tries to intercept Israeli aircraft or fighter [jets], we will have to respond. It has already happened and it is not going to be different even if S-300 are involved. We are not going to initiate any attacks on these weapons but at the same time, these weapons do not have any immunity. We hope very much that the coordination between Israel and Russia will continue… We hope that Syrians will not make silly mistakes like it was done with the Ilyushin affair.” — Former Israeli deputy chief of staff Gen. Uzi Dayan. Israeli forces have no plans to target Russian-made S-300 air defense systems in Syria if the Syrian army uses them in a way that poses no threat to Israel, Dayan said. On October 2, Moscow delivered S-300 systems to Damascus in a bid to increase the safety of the Russian troops deployed in Syria. The air defense upgrade was announced after a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 military plane was downed by a missile launched by a Syrian S-200 air defense system targeting Israeli F-16 jets that were carrying out airstrikes in Latakia. Russia has blamed the crash on Israel, claiming that the Israeli jets used the Russian aircraft as a shield against Syrian air defense systems. The Il-20 crash claimed the lives of 15 Russian troops. (Jerusalem Online, Oct. 31, 2018)

Contents

 

SHORT TAKES 

TOP PALESTINIAN BODY CALLS FOR REVOKING RECOGNITION OF ISRAEL, NIXING AGREEMENTS (Jerusalem) — A top Palestinian body passed a motion urging PA President Abbas to suspend all agreements with Israel and revoke recognition of the Jewish state until Israel formally recognizes a Palestinian state. The body said Palestinians should end “all forms” of security coordination with Israel and nullify several financial agreements that it said were being “ignored” by Jerusalem. The vote is not binding, and a final decision rests with Abbas. Previous votes by the council in 2018 and in 2015 to suspend security coordination with Israel were not implemented. (Times of Israel, Oct. 29, 2018) 

DEFAMING MUHAMMAD DOES NOT FALL UNDER FREE SPEECH: EURO COURT (Vienna) — Freedom of speech does not extend to include defaming the prophet of Islam, the European Court of Human rights ruled. ECHR ruled that insulting Islamic prophet Muhammad “goes beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate” and “could stir up prejudice and put at risk religious peace.” The court’s decision comes after it rejected an Austrian woman’s claim that her conviction for calling Muhammad a pedophile, due to his marriage to a 6-year-old girl, violated her freedom of speech. The woman claimed in 2009 that Muhammad’s marriage to a young girl was akin to “pedophilia.” According to Islamic tradition, the marriage between Muhammad and a 6-year-old girl was consummated when she was 9 years old and he was about 50. (Fox, Oct. 28, 2018)

MAN WHO PRAISED I.S. ON SOCIAL MEDIA ORDERED DEPORTED (Vancouver) — A B.C. man whose Facebook posts promoted I.S. and praised lone wolf terrorist attacks has been ordered deported from Canada. The Immigration and Refugee Board has ruled that Othman Hamdan is a “danger to the security of Canada” and is inadmissible. Hamdan, a Jordanian national, says he moved to Canada from the U.S. in 2002 because of threats he’d received. The posts included praise for Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the 2014 Parliament Hill shooter, and Martin Couture-Rouleau, who killed a soldier with his car in Quebec the same year. Hamdan also posted a lengthy entry described as a “how-to” for people carrying out lone wolf attacks against non-Muslims. (CBC, Oct. 26, 2018)

FACEBOOK REMOVES IRANIAN NETWORK THAT WAS SPREADING DISINFORMATION (San Francisco) — Facebook said that it had identified and removed a new influence network that had originated in Iran. It was the second time this year that a disinformation effort targeting people in the U.S. had been tied to Iranians. The company took down more than 82 pages, groups and accounts, including 30 Facebook pages, 33 Instagram accounts and three Facebook groups, it said. About one million users in the United States and Britain followed those accounts. The Iran-linked accounts frequently posted about emotionally charged topics like race relations and President Trump. (New York Times, Oct. 26, 2018)

CAQ WANTS TO EXPAND RELIGIOUS SYMBOL BAN (Montreal) — Quebec’s new government is planning to block Muslim women who work in the civil service from wearing the chador, a piece of clothing that covers the head and body, and the niqab, which also covers the face. Coalition Avenir Québec ​Premier Legault has already made clear his intention to prohibit those who hold positions of authority including teachers from wearing religious symbols, such as the hijab, a Muslim headscarf. The ban on the chador and niqab, however, would extend to all employees in the public sector. (CBC, Oct. 24, 2018)

JIHAD JANE’S RECRUITER SENTENCED (New York) — An Algerian man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for conspiring to recruit men and women in Europe and the U.S. to a terrorist cell to wage violent jihad in the West. Ali Damache, also known as “Theblackflag,” led the terrorist cell, some of whose members intended to travel to South Asia to obtain explosives training and return to Europe to carry out terror attacks. Damache pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. Damache enticed Pennsylvania resident Colleen R. LaRose (a/k/a “Jihad Jane”) and Jamie Paulin Ramirez, who lived in Colorado, to travel to Ireland, live with him and train for violent jihad. (IPT, Oct. 31, 2018)

ASIA BIBI ACQUITTED AFTER AWAITING DEATH FOR “BLASPHEMY” (Islamabad) — After 3,422 days imprisonment, the death penalty verdict against Asia Noreen Bibi has been overturned. Pakistan’s Supreme set aside sentence against Bibi, a Roman Catholic. On June 14, 2009, Asia Bibi drank water from a communal well on a hot day, while working in a field. Two Muslim women alleged that because she, a Christian, had touched the water from the well, the entire well was now haram (forbidden by Islamic law). On November 8, 2010, after five minutes of deliberation, Asia Noreen Bibi, under Article 295 of Pakistan’s Penal Code, was sentenced to death by hanging. (Gatestone Institute, Oct. 31, 2018)

DEATH TOLL IN FLOOD REACHES 21 (Amman) — Grief at the death of 21 people, mostly schoolchildren, in a flash flood near the Dead Sea in Jordan turned to anger last week as the Jordanian government said that the school that organized the trip may not have had the proper permits. The middle-school students, from a school in Amman, were visiting hot springs when rain storms unleashed floods that swept them into a valley. The IAF and its search-and-rescue unit assisted Jordanian forces in the effort to find the children following a request from Jordan, and illuminated the search area from the air. Ten Israeli teenagers were killed in similar circumstances in April when a flash flood swept them away while they were hiking in a riverbed near the Dead Sea on the Israeli side. (New York Times, Oct. 26, 2018)

HAIFA ELECTS ITS FIRST WOMAN MAYOR, JERUSALEM RACE GOES TO RUNOFF (Haifa) — A woman was elected mayor of Haifa for the first time, while the mayor’s race in Jerusalem will go to a runoff following municipal elections held across Israel on Tuesday. In Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai will serve a fifth term as mayor after defeating his deputy. In Jerusalem, voters will return to the polls in two weeks to choose between Municipal Council member Moshe Lion and former deputy mayor Ofer Berkovitch, who each received about 30 percent of the vote, failing to reach the 40 percent threshold to avoid a runoff. (JTA, Oct. 31, 2018)

BRAZIL’S NEW PRESIDENT SAYS HE’LL MOVE COUNTRY’S EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM (Sao Paulo) — Jair Messias Bolsonaro, Brazil’s new president-elect, said he plans to visit Israel soon and move Brazil’s embassy in the country from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following the lead of the United States. Bolsonaro, appears to be an ardent admirer of Donald Trump. And that could usher in one of the warmest bilateral relationships in the Western Hemisphere. Trump called to congratulate Bolsonaro on Sunday night, shortly after the far-right congressman scored a resounding victory at the polls, winning 55 percent of the vote following a mud-slinging campaign with a leftist rival. (Ynet, Oct. 29, 2018)

PENGUINS HOLD MOMENT OF SILENCE FOR SYNAGOGUE SHOOTING VICTIMS (Pittsburgh) — The Pittsburgh Penguins held an 11-second moment of silence prior to their game against the New York Islanders to remember the victims of Saturday’s shooting at Tree of Life—each second for the 11 who were killed. Additionally, Penguins players wore a special “Stronger than Hate” black-and-white silhouette patch that combined the team’s logo and Star of David. The Islanders featured something similar on their helmets. The Penguins’ jerseys were also autographed, and they will be auctioned to raise money in support of the victims and their families. (JNS, Oct. 31, 2018) 

On Topic Links

President Pays Respects (Video): Jerusalem Online, Oct. 31, 2018—U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump stood in the lobby of the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue to light candles for the 11 dead in the worst case of antisemitic violence in the country’s history.

The Lives Lost in the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting: Washington Post, Oct. 28, 2018— They were the synagogue’s most faithful. Two brothers who had attended services each week since boyhood and now, in their 50s, handed out hugs and hellos at Tree of Life’s front entrance.

Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre Exposes Sarsour’s Two-Faced Opportunism IPT News, October 29, 2018—Expressions of grief, shock and solidarity came from all corners Saturday and Sunday as a horrified nation learned about a Jew-hating gunman’s attack on a historic Pittsburgh synagogue.

Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories Proliferate in Labour: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, BESA, October 29, 2018—Conspiracy theories can usually be found in environments where anti-Semitism is substantially present. The classic, most extreme case – a lie originating in Tsarist Russia – is the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Many extreme anti-Semitic conspiracy theories flourish in the Arab world.

SYNAGOGUE MASSACRE A REMINDER THAT ANTISEMITISM IS A FEATURE OF—YET AN “ABHORRENT ABERRATION” IN—THE U.S

Synagogue Murders are a Sinister Sign of Our Times: Gregg Roman, The Hill, Oct. 28, 2018 — Paris. Tel Aviv. Toulouse. Mumbai. Brussels. Djerba. Copenhagen. Jerusalem. Kansas City — and now, Pittsburgh.

The Futile Search for Meaning in Antisemitic Crimes: Jonathan S. Tobin, JNS, Oct. 28, 2018— When something terrible happens, we demand explanations.

The U.S. Nears its Boiling Point: Niall Ferguson, Globe and Mail, Oct. 29, 2018— At the very beginning of the Cold War, Martyl Langsdorf, an artist who was married to the physicist Alexander Langsdorf, came up with the image of the Doomsday Clock.

Anti-Semitism: An Abhorrent Aberration in the USA: Yoram Ettinger, Algemeiner, Oct. 29, 2018— The October 27, 2018 massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue, in Pittsburgh, PA, was an egregious reminder that since the early 17th century, antisemitism has been a systematic feature of — yet an abhorrent aberration in — the US.

On Topic Links

The Lives Lost in the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting: Washington Post, Oct. 28, 2018

Before Pittsburgh: The Nine Worst Global Attacks on Jewish Sites: Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 29, 2018

ANALYSIS: How Should Trump ‘Extract the Poison of Antisemitism?’: Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 28, 2018

Synagogue Shooting Shows Americans of all Faiths and Political Persuasions Must Unite Against Hate: Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Fox News, Oct. 28, 2018

 

          SYNAGOGUE MURDERS ARE A SINISTER SIGN OF OUR TIMES                                                                  Gregg Roman

The Hill, Oct. 28, 2018

Paris. Tel Aviv. Toulouse. Mumbai. Brussels. Djerba. Copenhagen. Jerusalem. Kansas City — and now, Pittsburgh. An anti-Semitic massacre in a sacred space. As Jeff Finkelstein, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, said yesterday, “This should not be happening in a synagogue. This should not be happening, period.” Jews, synagogues, Jewish institutions and Jewish collectivity have been attacked across the world over the past 10 years, and this list is far from complete.

Every accusation and its opposite have been thrown at the Jewish people to justify these attacks. Jews are too left-wing, Jews are too right-wing. Jews assimilate too much, Jews don’t mix enough with others. Jews are behind capitalism; “Remember Rothschild,” they say. Others say Jews are behind socialism and communism; “Remember Marx,” they insist.

For 2,000 years, Jews were enslaved, oppressed, expelled, burned and gassed, all the while being told to go back to where they came from. Today, those who hate Jews tell those who returned to their ancestral and indigenous homeland to leave. Jews are frequently told that we are white — almost always as an accusation — yet no other people in the history of man have been targeted for so long, and in such numbers, by those who stand for white supremacy.

Anti-Semitism knows no logic. It knows no rules and appears to affect seeming foes on the political and ideological spectrum. Only a few days before accused shooter Robert Bowers mowed down 11 innocent souls at Tree of Life Synagogue because he believed “all Jews should die” for helping immigrants at the U.S. border, hate preacher Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader, compared Jews to termites and called them Satanic in a dehumanizing manner reminiscent of Nazi incitement and propaganda. Bowers and Farrakhan probably agreed about little else except for their hatred of the Jewish people.

No other hatred unites and rallies such disparate voices, using the same classic motifs of hate. In Europe, they have seen how the extremes on the political spectrum share their hatred of Jews. Far-left politicians in the British Labour Party retweet neo-Nazis, and French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, who began on the anti-racist, far-left, now counts former Marxist and current right-wing radical Alain Soral and Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the racist far-right National Front, as friends and allies, to give two such examples. Their common ground is only their Holocaust denial and their hatred of all things Jewish.

However, this pincer movement that has engulfed the Jews of Europe and elsewhere should not be allowed to take root in the United States. We must condemn and shun Louis Farrakhan with the same vehemence as we do white supremacist Richard Spencer, or else the attacks against Jews will continue to rise. In its annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, the Anti-Defamation League chronicled a 57 percent rise in incidents in 2017 over the previous year. That included everything from bomb threats and assaults, to vandalism, desecration of cemeteries and the flooding of college campuses with anti-Semitic posters and graffiti.

According to FBI statistics adjusted to population size, Jews are more likely to be the target of hate crimes than any other minority in the U.S. A very recent Brandeis University survey showed that 84 percent of the Pittsburgh Jewish community were concerned about anti-Semitism, and 16 percent personally experienced anti-Semitism in the past year. “The perception of anti-Semitism in the community may be worse than the reality,” the study noted. Unfortunately, on Saturday, the reality was far worse than even the most worrying perception. As the former director of the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, I rarely have come across a community so optimistic, united and committed to the wider world. Upon his installation as rabbi of Tree of Life in June 2018, Jeffrey Myers said: “I will endeavor to continue to steer a course for us into a bright and bold future, but that cannot be accomplished alone.”

Pittsburgh was a Jewish community that strove for inclusion, diversity and pluralism. Whereas some communities have been wracked with political or ideological differences, all voices, from J Street to the ZOA, sat around the same table to try and focus on what united them rather than that which divided them. It is a Jewish community deeply committed to universal values and helping all people regardless of race, religion or identity. They followed the dictum in Ethics of the Fathers, “Do not separate yourself from the community.”

Saturday’s suspect, Bowers, reportedly shouted that “all Jews must die” during his massacre, because he hated the fact that Jewish groups like HIAS, an American non-profit organization providing humanitarian aid and assistance to refugees all over the world, was treating and assisting the dreamers who seek a better life in the United States.

Nevertheless, the Jewish people will, despite the incessant attacks, continue to grasp the kernel of hope for a better world. Even in its darkest hours, members of the Pittsburgh Jewish community are holding rallies against hate — all hate. However, as Rabbi Myers said, this course cannot be achieved alone. We need allies and those who are ready to fight all hate regardless of its origin. There are rules for hatred against Jews, which some will always try to justify, and there are rules for all others. Antisemitism, it could be argued, is a prejudice that is made unique among all other hatreds. It is long past time that we grapple with this issue, because it has been ignored for too long. Antisemitism in the United States is very real, and deadly.

Contents

   

                    THE FUTILE SEARCH FOR MEANING IN ANTISEMITIC CRIMES                                                                    Jonathan S. Tobin                                                                                                                                              JNS, Oct. 28, 2018

When something terrible happens, we demand explanations. Awful and irrational events spawn conspiracy theories because it’s part of the human condition to need to make sense of the world, even when the world makes no sense.

That is all the more true when an atrocity such as the shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue occurs. The wholesale slaughter at a house of worship on the Sabbath is the sort of act that, almost by definition, defies explanation. What sane person would seek to murder total strangers at prayer? What possible end could be served by the spilling of innocent blood in this manner?

Our sole concern should be to comfort the families of the slain, to honor their memories and to heal a community torn by sorrow. Yet it is almost instinctual to seek explanations that place the incomprehensible in a context we can accept more easily. Doing so enables us to avoid the truth that we live in a world in which irrational prejudice can strike anytime, anywhere, in ways that shake us to our very core. If the real villain is a familiar target of our anger, rather than age-old hatred of Jews or the deranged ravings of an extremist, it helps us channel our rage and sorrow in a direction that seems productive, even if it is nothing of the kind.

So it is hardly surprising that the slaughter at a synagogue in a quiet, leafy neighborhood would provoke reactions that tell us more about the sickening divisions within our society than anything else. For some, the only real culprit here is US President Donald Trump. In particular, his demagoguery about illegal immigrants is seen as a green light for an attack on a synagogue and a community that is generally supportive of asylum-seekers, such as those in a caravan from Honduras that Trump has denounced as an oncoming threat.

That has led some, like former New Republic editor Franklin Foer, to assert in The Atlantic that the only way to assure Jewish security after Pittsburgh is to ostracize all Jews who support Trump, since in his words “they have placed their community in danger.” Following the same theme, journalist Julia Ioffe also claimed that the fault for Pittsburgh belongs to those in the pro-Israel community who supported Trump’s move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In a Twitter take of breathtaking obtuseness, Ioffe quipped that “I hope the embassy move over there, where you don’t live, was worth it.” She was soon appearing on CNN to double down on her spewing of such bile.

Over at the Forward, writer Peter Beinart had a more general condemnation for any Jew who agreed with Trump about illegal immigration. According to him, “Trumpism”—or at least that portion of the administration’s policies that concern enforcing existing immigration laws or expressing worry about the spread of Islamism—and those Jews who share such legitimate concerns are betraying “Jewish ethics and Jewish lives.”

But while Trump can be blamed for the coarsening of our political culture—and while his statements about immigration are often inaccurate and inflammatory—the blithe assertion that the president is an antisemite or the smear that his supporters are allies and enablers of accused Pittsburgh shooter Robert Bowers is wrong on two counts. The first and most obvious is that Bowers was a critic of Trump, specifically because of his sympathy with Jews, the presence of many Jews in key administration posts and his support for Israel, which exceeds that of all of his recent predecessors. He viewed Trump as an ally of Jews—not someone who had encouraged him to attack them.

The second is that the attempt to shoehorn Pittsburgh into the “resistance” narrative, in which Trump is seen as unleashing a wave of persecution against Jews and other minorities in America, misunderstands the nature of the antisemitism that Bowers espoused. While Bowers may have seen the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and a synagogue whose members sought to aid immigrants and asylum-seekers as justifying his attack, this does no more to explain his rage than any of the other excuses that antisemites have deployed over the ages.

While some have always sought to blame Jews for the hate that was directed against them—a trend that continues today with those who believe support for Israel is a red flag that invites attacks—antisemitism is always about the antisemites, not the Jews. It is, as scholar Ruth Wisse wrote, the most successful ideology of the 20th century—a virus that morphed from fascism to Nazism to communism and then Islamism. The continuation of this trend in the 21st century has nothing to do with Trump, and everything to do with the fact that Jews remain a convenient scapegoat for extremists of all political and religious stripes.

There is much to lament in our current political culture, in which the tribes of true believers rule on both ends of the spectrum, and in which neither side is prepared to acknowledge the way they have sought to delegitimize their political opponents. But what happened in Pittsburgh is a product of a deeper malady—one that, at present, has no political cure. A world in which we can’t neatly place the blame for Pittsburgh on a political foe who many Jews despise is less frightening than the complex reality. Trump is both a friend of the Jews and Israel, as well as a symptom of a destructive political trend that has helped loosen the bonds of community that is driving us further apart. Still, he is not responsible for the actions of an unhinged extremist.

If we acknowledge that despite his flaws, Trump is neither an antisemite nor the reason for antisemitic violence here—or anywhere else in a world in which a rising tide of Jew hatred continues to surge—then we are forced to confront the same frustrating truth about this virus that previous generations struggled with. It’s easy to see why putting this in a political context is of some comfort, but those who do so in the course of a futile search for meaning in antisemitic hate crimes do neither the Jews nor the cause of civilization any service.

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THE U.S. NEARS ITS BOILING POINT                                                                                                 Niall Ferguson

Globe and Mail, Oct. 29, 2018

At the very beginning of the Cold War, Martyl Langsdorf, an artist who was married to the physicist Alexander Langsdorf, came up with the image of the Doomsday Clock. It appeared in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to illustrate the fear of many physicists – including some who had been involved in the creation of the atomic bomb – that a “technology-induced catastrophe” might be terrifyingly close. Midnight on the Doomsday Clock meant nuclear Armageddon.

I have no doubt that somewhere in academia someone is busy devising a civil war Doomsday Clock. Any day now they’ll publish it under the headline: “Two minutes to Fort Sumter.” But just how close is the United States to the kind of internecine slaughter that began in April 1861? There is a kind of cultural civil war already being fought on social-media platforms. With the mid-term elections just over a week away, that culture war gets more febrile by the day.

Of course, the culture war is no more a real war than the trade war U.S. President Donald Trump has launched against China. Nevertheless, the news last week that amateurish pipe bombs had been mailed to a dozen of Mr. Trump’s best-known critics – including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, the hedge fund billionaire George Soros and the actor Robert De Niro – provided the cue for new prophecies of a second U.S. Civil War.

The arrest on Friday of Cesar Sayoc was immediately greeted with cries of “Gotcha!” from the usual quarters. His van was covered in pro-Trump stickers including one reading “CNN Sucks.” Ha! “Trump owns this,” declared a normally sober Washington correspondent. I wonder. I don’t much like Mr. Trump’s regular criticisms of the mainstream media and occasional glorification of body-slamming. But a direct causal relationship to a nut posting a bunch of homemade bombs?

Saturday’s massacre at a synagogue in Pittsburgh makes matters much worse. Mr. Trump is no anti-Semite, but some alt-right elements routinely abuse Jews. But then again, the hard left has its anti-Semites too. That people on both sides of the political divide are using intemperate language is undeniable, even if the left will always insist that the other side is worse. That there is a potential for an increase in political violence in the United States seems clear. By European standards, there are terrifying numbers of lethal weapons in private hands. But civil war? Some of the people who make this argument can be dismissed as scaremongers. When a Canadian novelist fantasizes about Mr. Trump being assassinated, the United States tearing itself apart, and all the nice Americans moving to Canada, it’s better to avert your gaze. Same drill when a marine turned talk-show host calls for red states to secede if a future Democratic administration comes for their guns, or when a New York progressive with fishy Russian connections argues for Californian secession.

But when my colleague at the Hoover Institution, historian Victor Davis Hanson, warns that we are “at the brink of a veritable civil war,” we all need to pay attention. I also take seriously the work of Peter Turchin, who has been arguing for some time that several leading indicators of political instability (notably inequality) are set to peak around 2020, making the United States “particularly vulnerable to violent upheaval.” Mr. Hanson’s argument is that the tensions arising from globalization, the internet, campus leftism and illegal immigration have led to an ideological split that is also geographical. The current toxic atmosphere puts him in mind not only of the 1850s, but also of the 5th century BC, when “stasis” (meaning internal strife) tore apart the ancient Greek city states…

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

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ANTI-SEMITISM: AN ABHORRENT ABERRATION IN THE USA

Yoram Ettinger

Algemeiner, Oct. 29, 2018

The October 27, 2018 massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue, in Pittsburgh, PA, was an egregious reminder that since the early 17th century, antisemitism has been a systematic feature of — yet an abhorrent aberration in — the US. At the same time, American society has demonstrated 400 years of respect for Judaism, Judeo-Christian values, and the Jewish state.

For instance, Peter Stuyvesant, the first Dutch Governor of New York/New Netherlands (1647-1664), failed in his attempt to block the immigration of Jews to the colony, but prohibited them from constructing a synagogue and serving in the local militia. Moreover, he confiscated Jewish property and levied a special tax solely on Jews, claiming that they were “deceitful and enemies of Jesus Christ.”

The state of the Jewish community improved in the aftermath of the 1664 British conquest of New York and the introduction of a series of civil covenants in the various colonies (e.g., the 1641 Massachusetts Body of Liberties). It was further improved as a result of the 1789 ratification of the US Constitution, which enhanced civil liberties — in a drastic departure from the state of mind of the European churches and monarchies — partially inspired by the Five Books of Moses, and especially by the concept of the Jubilee (Leviticus 25:10).

Still, European-imported antisemitism established itself in the US, although as a significantly lower profile in the newly-created society and governance. The latter has expanded liberty over and beyond the European standards, while severely restricting the playing field of potential antisemitism. For example, in December 1862, General Ulysses Grant issued the infamous General Order No. 11, ordering the expulsion of all Jews from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi, stating: “The Jews, as a class, violate every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department.” However, in January 1863, President Lincoln — known for his deep respect for Judaism — ordered Grant to revoke the order. Moreover, in the aftermath of the Civil War, General Grant contended that he signed the order without studying it.

In the early 1920s, Henry Ford — the only American mentioned favorably in Hitler’s Mein Kampf and praised by Heinrich Himmler — wrote: “If fans wish to know the trouble with American baseball, they have it in three words — too much Jew.” However, in January 1921, 119 distinguished Americans, such as President Woodrow Wilson, former President William Howard Taft, and the poet Robert Frost, signed a petition denouncing Ford’s antisemitism, including his dissemination of the 1903 antisemitic Russian-fabricated The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In 1927, Ford apologized for his antisemitic conduct.

During the 1920s and the 1930s, Father Charles Coughlin leveraged his weekly antisemitic radio program to praise Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Japan’s Emperor Hirohito. However, upon the 1939 outbreak of the Second World War, he lost most of his listeners and followers.

An accurate depiction of most Americans’ stance on antisemitism was exposed, in December 1993, by the reaction of most of the 80,000 residents of Billings, Montana to a paving stone hurled by a white supremacist through a window of a Jewish home displaying a Chanukah candelabra and a Star of David. The hate crime was followed by the Billings Gazette’s full-page color image of a Chanukah candelabra, along with the recommendation to display it on home windows in solidarity with the Jewish community. In addition, some residents took to the street holding Chanukah candelabras, demonstrating a city-wide determination to stand up against the bullying tactics of white supremacists. Furthermore, solidarity with the Jewish community has become almost an annual event attended by top Billings and Montana officials.

While the destructive and lethal potential of antisemitism must not be underestimated, countries should not be judged by the eruption of such an abomination, but by the way they prosecute it. The 400-year-old Judeo-Christian foundations — and track record — of the USA assure that antisemitism shall be constrained, prosecuted, and punished most decisively.

Contents

On Topic Links

The Lives Lost in the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting: Washington Post, Oct. 28, 2018 —They were the synagogue’s most faithful.

Before Pittsburgh: The Nine Worst Global Attacks on Jewish Sites: Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 29, 2018—The largest targeted murder of Jews in US history in Pittsburgh is one of many attacks over the last decades which have targeted Jews in synagogues and community centers throughout the world.

ANALYSIS: How Should Trump ‘Extract the Poison of Antisemitism?’: Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 28, 2018

Synagogue Shooting Shows Americans of all Faiths and Political Persuasions Must Unite Against Hate: Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Fox News, Oct. 28, 2018—I learned about Saturday’s mass murder of 11 congregants at a Pittsburgh synagogue while traveling in Austria with a group of 150 Jews from around the world.

Frederick Krantz: NEVER AGAIN! AND NEVER HERE, IN NORTH AMERICA!

The Canadian Institute for Jewish Research condemns the vicious murders of eleven Jews in the Etz Chaim/Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and extends its profound sympathy to the families of the victims and wounded, including the courageous police who, risking their own live, rushed to defend the congregation and disarmed the assailant.

Rising antisemitism, of both the extreme left and right, nurtured by the dynamics of the ubiquitous “social media”, has been well documented recently in the U.S. and Canada, including a rising tempo of synagogue desecrations. We also observe with increasing anxiety the toleration of virulent anti-Israel sentiments among elements of the left (“progressive”) wing of the U.S.’s Democratic Party. This phenomenon, not dissimilar from the situation in Europe and Great Britain (where Jeremy Corbyn, a known and unrepentant antisemite, currently heads the British Labour Party), is deeply concerning.

In North America, one major channel for the revival and spread of the “longest hatred” marking Western societies has been the Arab-backed and pro-Palestinian BDS and related anti-Israel and anti-Zionist movements on University campuses, which have manipulated freedom of expression and “speech codes”   to delegitimate Jewish Israel and harass and break up Israel-related speakers. 

This growing antisemitism, on and off campuses, must be immediately confronted by both Jewish and non-Jewish organizations, as well as by government, educational, and police officials at all levels.  Every effort must be made to maintain the openness, safety, and decorum of American public and religious life, and not to have to adopt here the European practice of permanent police and military supervision of Jewish schools and places of worship.

To this end, we urge all private and public organizations, agencies and educational institutions, at all levels, immediately to adopt the working definition of anti-Semitism drawn up in 2015 by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance:  

 “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.  Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The following examples may serve as illustrations:

Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.

Contemporary examples of anti-Semitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective – such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

Anti-Semitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of anti-Semitic materials in some countries).

Criminal acts are anti-Semitic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Jewish or linked to Jews.

Anti-Semitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries.

Adoption of this clear definition, coupled with its rapid, and    effective, application in particular cases, will—with resolute action at all levels of private and public institutions, governmental, educational, media and religious—contribute to preventing vicious and murderous events like the Tree of Life Congregation killings. 

All North American ethnic and religious groups, as well as all individuals, must be free to exercise the precious individual rights guaranteed us by our democratic governments and public laws, and by our open society’s liberal traditions.

And all social media providers must also subscribe to the general definition given here, and act rapidly to remove or close down racist, antisemitic posts and sites violating its clear guidelines.

Let us hope that the Jewish community, in face of this vicious assault, reaffirming its unity and identification with the state of Israel, will issue from this tragedy stronger and more determined than before. The only answer to antisemitism and racism, whenever and wherever they raise their ugly heads, is to defeat them.

Never again! And never here, in North America!!

 

Professor Frederick Krantz

Director, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research                 

NEW ANTISEMITISM PROPAGATED BY FAR-LEFT “PROGRESSIVES”

Normalizing Anti-Semitism in the US: Dr. Asaf Romirowsky, BESA, Oct. 12, 2018— In his 1940 film The Ghost Breakers, Bob Hope finds himself in Cuba facing a strange menace – zombies.

The Progressive Movement and Antisemitism: Joshua S. Block, Algemeiner, Oct. 10, 2018— For most of us, there is a reflexive tendency to think of antisemitism as something that is propagated by the alt-right — white supremacists, the KKK, or neo-Nazi groups.

Bavarian Anti-Semitism Rears its Ugly Head: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, Oct. 4, 2018— A member of a Jewish community in Bavaria was told by his Muslim neighbor that he had taken his children out of a Koran school because it called for killing Jews.

Universalism, Particularism, and Anti-Semitism: Rafael Castro, BESA, Oct. 21, 2018— Anti-Semitism is the world’s oldest hatred.

On Topic Links

Noted UK Historian: British Jews Questioning Future in Country Due to Corbyn Antisemitism Scandals: Algemeiner, Oct. 10, 2018

Canada Regrets Turning Away Jewish Refugees on St Louis Ship in 1939: Jeremy Sharon, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 24, 2018

The West’s New Antisemitism Crisis: Why Right Now?: Alexander H. Joffe, BESA, Sept. 23, 2018

Once Again, the Media Whitewashes Antisemitism Around the World: Sean Durns, Algemeiner, Oct. 3, 2018

 

                             NORMALIZING ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE US                                                                         Dr. Asaf Romirowsky

BESA, Oct. 12, 2018

In his 1940 film The Ghost Breakers, Bob Hope finds himself in Cuba facing a strange menace – zombies. An acquaintance explains, “A zombie has no will of his own. You see them sometimes walking around blindly with dead eyes, following orders, not knowing what they do, not caring,” to which Hope famously replies, “You mean like Democrats?” Twenty-five years after the Oslo peace accords, the progressive Left, which now loudly dominates the Democratic Party, is walking around “with dead eyes, following orders” when it comes to the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Upstart Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez decried the “occupation of Palestine” during a television interview but was at a loss when pressed to explain what she actually meant.

Even a moderate Democrat like Cory Booker, previously close to the Jewish community, saw fit to pose with BDS representatives as a means of flaunting his progressive credentials. In general, the progressive view sees Jews not only as “white” but as racists and victimizers because of their presumed power. All this exemplifies the slow erosion of Israel’s status in American culture.

But the disconnect runs even deeper. Like Cortez, the children of the Oslo era don’t remember the negotiations in the 1990s, or then-PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat for that matter, and have grown up on slogans with buzzwords like “occupation” and “intifada.” On the other hand, this generation, both in the Middle East and outside it, is extremely active online. In fact, 63% of Palestinian kids have access to the internet on a computer and 51% report they own a smartphone. The internet is already playing a significant role in their lives and what they are seeing is the Palestinian “resistance” against Israel, not Palestinian society suffering under Hamas or Palestinian Authority oppression.

The most ostentatious confrontations take place on Twitter and Facebook, where Palestinians sow allegations of destroyed villages and war crimes, going as far as claiming that Tel Aviv was founded on the ruins of invented villages. Instant gratification, yes. Honesty, not so much. The same trends are evident in higher education, where there has been a notable increase in online classes. In such a setting, there is less opportunity for debate and discussion. Our growing collective dependence on technology and social media is undeniable, but these trends – and the general tone of politics – reduce complex issues into sound bites and thereby drive polarization.

One of the major themes of Oslo was to generate trust through confidence-building measures. New mechanisms were put in place to ensure equal rights in employment and policing, and militia weapons were decommissioned under international supervision. The hope was to build a high level of trust through face-to-face interaction. Today’s social media-driven politics achieves the exact opposite of those confidence-building steps. We are left only with the option of parsing online discussions and debates in order to understand the general attitudes. The hard work of building trust is gone and in its place we are left with zombies blindly following slogans.

When Arafat rejected the Camp David II accord back in 2000, it devastated the liberal left-wing camp. They couldn’t understand how Arafat could reject the prospect of a real Palestinian state. Today’s progressive Left, led by Bernie Sanders and others like him, is further removed from the facts than the Democratic Party was under Clinton. They don’t understand that Palestinian nationalism never saw the conflict as one between two national groups with legitimate claims and aspirations. They fail to recognize that Arafat and his successors professed support for a two-state solution as a means of appeasing the West.

All of this has led to a steady normalization of anti-Semitism in American society, particularly in progressive circles. One of the most pernicious effects of this normalization relates to the discourse on Israel. A relentless misrepresentation of human rights violations, slanderous talk of Israeli “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” and bitter attacks on Israelis, their international supporters, and the peace process itself have taken a massive toll on American civil discourse.

 

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                    THE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT AND ANTISEMITISM                                                                Joshua S. Block                                                                                                                                       Algemeiner, Oct. 10, 2018

For most of us, there is a reflexive tendency to think of antisemitism as something that is propagated by the alt-right — white supremacists, the KKK, or neo-Nazi groups. That version of antisemitism was on full display during the violent protests that rocked Charlottesville last year. For us, Charlottesville was like muscle memory. We’ve seen it before, and we know exactly what it means.

But what happens when the hate comes from somewhere unexpected, somewhere much closer to home? What happens when it comes from your friends and allies, and is disguised as something else? This new form of antisemitism, which is being propagated by elements of the far-left, has a name: I’m talking about the pseudo-academic concept of “intersectionality.” It’s one of the most significant challenges facing our community.

Intersectionality is the radical academic theory that holds that all forms of social oppression are inexorably linked. It has become a code word for anti-American, anti-Western, anti-Israel, and antisemitic bigotry. Nowhere has adoption of this radical paradigm been more pronounced than on college campuses where, in the name of “identity politics” and “solidarity,” intersectionality has forced artificial coalitions between causes that have nothing to do with each other — except a hatred for their fellow students who are “privileged” because they are white, heterosexual, and especially Jewish. And that’s exactly what makes this form of far-left antisemitism so dangerous and so insidious — it is cloaked in the language of progressive idealism, and is far more nuanced than traditional alt-right antisemitism.

Let me provide you with some examples. Linda Sarsour is an intersectional feminist and one of the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington. She openly supports anti-Israel Muslim groups that tolerate, if not accept, “honor killings” and genital mutilation of women. Because of her association with the Women’s March and other causes, however, Sarsour is viewed by many as a legitimate representative of the oppressed and disenfranchised.

Here’s the truth: Sarsour is an antisemite and BDS supporter, who once posed for a photo with a former Hamas operative. She often uses the hashtags #BDS and #FreePalestine on her tweets, and once tweeted that “Nothing is creepier than Zionism.” Sarsour has encouraged Muslims not to “humanize” Israelis, and charged that there is no room in the feminist movement for those who support Israel’s right to exist. Imagine if Sarsour had made those comments about any other minority. The left would be up in arms. But Jews are the wrong sort of victim.

Similarly, Jewish Voice for Peace — an organization that calls for “an end to violence against civilians, and peace and justice for all peoples of the Middle East” — invited Rasmieh Odeh, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a convicted terrorist, to appear as a speaker at its national conference. The idea of Odeh, a terrorist who quite literally has blood on her hands, speaking for a Jewish organization that claims to propagate peace, flies in the face of logic.

And if that doesn’t scare you, then all you need to do is take a close look across the Atlantic to see where all this can lead. In UK, the “Corbyn-Effect” has sent extreme anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiments from the obscure fringes of the political spectrum into the mainstream. That virus has already reached the shores of the United States, and is metastasizing rapidly.

If you think that I’m exaggerating the problem, then just think about Ilhan Omar, a Democratic representative in Minnesota’s House of Representatives who tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel,” which she described as “Satanic.” Ms. Omar is all but certain to win a US Congressional seat in November.

As our community searches for an answer, we should ask ourselves an important question: how many of us were more disturbed by President Trump’s silence in the wake of Charlottesville then we were at finding out that two leaders of the Women’s March — Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory — are hardcore antisemites who despise Israel? Yes, that’s an uncomfortable question, but it needs to be asked because our enemies on both the left and the right would like nothing more than to see us fight among ourselves. It’s called divide and conquer, and it’s happening right before our very eyes.

The US-Israel relationship works because of shared values, shared interests, and a bipartisan consensus that Israel is an important friend and ally. People may have strong feelings about Prime Minister Netanyahu or President Trump, but that should be irrelevant to their support for Israel. There is only one Israel, and we don’t have the luxury of being supportive one year and not the next. Half or more of the Israeli public voted against Netanyahu, and yet Israel still needs foreign aid, still needs Iron Dome to protect its population against rocket and missile attacks, and still needs our support at the UN to counter the world body’s relentless attacks against the Jewish state.

Judging Israel over the Israel-Palestinian conflict, or because politicians in Israel from left to right agree with the decisions Trump is making, is more about our own self-centered issues. And while the rest of the world is busy telling the worst version of the truth blended with lies, the left in this country is making Jewish kids uncomfortable in their own skin — not because of the reality in Israel — but because people here won’t call out the lies from our own politically-driven community. This trend can’t be allowed to continue. Make no mistake, this is a war for the soul of the progressive movement.

 

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BAVARIAN ANTI-SEMITISM REARS ITS UGLY HEAD                                                                           Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld

                                                Arutz Sheva, Oct. 4, 2018

A member of a Jewish community in Bavaria was told by his Muslim neighbor that he had taken his children out of a Koran school because it called for killing Jews. A Jewish parent in the same German federal state was invited by the director of a school who told her not to let her son go to the toilet alone, this because there was a child in the school who was a neo-Nazi. One Jewish person mentioned that a pharmacist had asked his father why he needed a tax advisor as “Jews do not pay tax.”

These are three examples from a recent study titled “Description of a Problem: anti-Semitism and Bavaria” published by the Research and Information Center Berlin (RIAS). Bavaria has 12.9 million inhabitants. As it is a federal state and not an independent nation, one hears internationally much less about what happens there than about a variety of European countries with substantially smaller populations including Austria, Belgium, Sweden, and Switzerland.

About 17,500 Jews are members of the 13 existing Jewish communities. Approximately half of live in or around Bavaria’s capital, Munich. This study can be considered a model for similar analysis to be undertaken elsewhere in Germany and other European countries. It is based on interviews with experts. The incidents at demonstrations during the 2014 Israeli campaign Protective Edge against Hamas are mentioned as key events in the development of anti-Semitism. The reactions of mainstream society at the time were also worrying.

Other negative key developments mentioned included the debate on prohibiting circumcision in 2012 and the influx of refugees into Germany in 2015. The study defines perpetrators of anti-Semitism as of two kinds: 1. The extreme right and 2. Groups which justify anti-Semitism on the basis of Islam.

In smaller towns and rural areas right wing extremism is dominant. Israel-related anti-Semitism was also specifically mentioned as an important phenomenon next to classic anti-Semitism. An important finding of the study is that relations between the Jewish communities and politicians as well as the police are good. Yet the dominant opinion is that complaints about anti-Semitic incidents will hardly result in successful follow up from the authorities. Interviewees mentioned that in some cases the police advised the Jewish communities not to complain because the perpetrators would not be caught.

Between 2014 and 2016, the police registered 482 criminal anti-Semitic acts. 300 of these took place in small towns and rural areas. Yet the incidents which involved violence or verbal and written targeting of individual Jews mainly occurred in the metropolitan areas of Munich and Nûremberg/Erlangen/Fürth. A 2016 study by Munich’s Ludwig-Maximilians University which focused on racism found that eighteen percent of the interviewees in Munich had significant or strong anti-Semitic attitudes. In the remainder of Bavaria it was twenty four percent. That study dealt exclusively with religious and ethnic anti-Semitism and not with anti-Israelism.

In 2017, the Technical University of Regensburg investigated attitudes of asylum seekers from Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Iraq who had arrived to Bavaria in 2015 and 2016. More than half of those from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan – which are predominantly Muslims — agreed with the statement that “Jews have too much influence in the world.” Among the Eritreans, the percentage was low.

Many other interesting observations can be found in the RIAS study. Only a few can be mentioned here. Jews perceive actual anti-Semitism very differently from the non-Jewish majority which is unfamiliar with many of the hatred’s aspects.

The interviewees were asked where they encounter anti-Semitism. From the answers one can conclude that such reactions can occur anywhere, be it sport, contacts with the authorities, in conversations with acquaintances, listening in on conversations at the next table, in the public domain, at the work place, when shopping, etc. anti-Semitic experiences in schools were mentioned numerous times.

Earlier this year Bavaria appointed an anti-Semitism commissioner, Ludwig Spaenle, the former Minister of Education. He reacted to the RIAS study by saying that it proved that state and civil society have to give clear signs. A culture of close watching of anti-Semitism is needed.

In August 2018, when Spaenle was in office one hundred days, he gave an interview about his preliminary conclusions. He said that hatred of Jews was increasing. He remarked that perpetrators came not only from the right. Those from the left and Muslims often focus on Israel. Spaenle considered it urgent to establish a hot line in Bavaria where complaints about anti-Semitism can be reported.

Spaenle specifically mentioned anti-Semitism at schools as a problem. He wants to offer teachers courses on how to deal with anti-Semitic stereotypes, in particular among Muslims. He said that since 2015, many young refugees have entered Germany who grew up with prejudices towards Jews. In view of this Spaenle also wants to include techniques on combating anti-Semitism in integration courses. He remarked that when he accepted the anti-Semitism commissioner’s position he was not aware of the multitude of tasks facing him.

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UNIVERSALISM, PARTICULARISM, AND ANTI-SEMITISM

Rafael Castro

BESA, Oct. 21, 2018

Anti-Semitism is the world’s oldest hatred. This hatred has been justified on religious, economic, political and social grounds. A cogent philosophical theory of anti-Semitism is nevertheless overdue. This theory should explain the persistence and ubiquity of anti-Semitism throughout the ages.

Why have doctrines and religions as diverse as Hellenism, Christianity, Islam, Nationalism, Communism, and Intersectionality attacked Jews? A prima facie explanation is that Judaism, as a distinct ideology, invites hostility from alternative worldviews. This thesis does not explain why Judaism, which shies away from expansionism and does not seek proselytes, is viewed as a threatening doctrine. The thesis also does not account for the scarcity of anti-Semitism in belief systems as diverse as Hinduism, the Druze religion, Zoroastrianism, contemporary Conservatism, and Liberal Democracy.

In order to philosophically understand hostility towards Judaism, it is helpful to place ideologies in a spectrum ranging from absolutely universalistic to entirely particularistic. Universalistic ideologies such as Hellenism, Christianity, Islam, and Communism have historically attacked Jews and Judaism. The survival of a particularistic Jewish identity makes a mockery of their claims to ideological superiority and universal truth. On the other end of the spectrum, nationalism and nativism are particularistic ideologies that resent the cosmopolitanism that Jews embody.

Intersectionality illustrates how conventional labels like left-wing and right-wing obfuscate the ideological nature of anti-Semitism. In theory, intersectionality advocates universalistic values dear to Jews, such as social justice and equality. In practice, its exclusive focus on the interests of “oppressed minorities” makes it a particularistic movement. Advocates of intersectionality view Jewish socioeconomic achievements and Zionism as hostile to the particularistic interests they claim to represent, though Jews have invariably been an oppressed minority throughout most of their history.

On the other hand, Liberal Democracy, contemporary Conservatism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and the Druze religion are doctrines that accommodate Judaism. Liberal Democracy, like Judaism, blends elements of particularism and universalism: It integrates particularistic interests into a pluralistic political system that serves universal values. Contemporary Conservatism is also philo-Semitic because it balances universalism and particularism. Conservatives treasure the industriousness of Jewish communities and respect Jewish religious distinctiveness. Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and the Druze religion accept Judaism because they are themselves particularistic faiths.

It is important to note that particularistic faiths such as Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and the Druze religion are amicable towards Judaism while particularistic political doctrines are not. Particularistic faiths are not bothered by different religious beliefs as they do not seek proselytes. Particularistic political doctrines, on other hand, demand collective submission to their norms and values. Because Jews subscribe to separate religious laws and beliefs, they have been viewed as a threat to social harmony since the time of the Pharaohs…

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

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

Contents

On Topic Links

Noted UK Historian: British Jews Questioning Future in Country Due to Corbyn Antisemitism Scandals: Algemeiner, Oct. 10, 2018—The antisemitism scandals that have rocked Britain’s Labour Party since Jeremy Corbyn became its leader in 2015 have led many UK Jews to question their futures in the country, a noted London-based historian and author said in an interview published on Wednesday.

Canada Regrets Turning Away Jewish Refugees on St Louis Ship in 1939: Jeremy Sharon, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 24, 2018—Canadian ambassador to Israel Deborah Lyons announced on Wednesday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will formally apologize next month for the decision in 1939 by then Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King refusing to grant asylum to the more than 900 Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany.

The West’s New Antisemitism Crisis: Why Right Now?: Alexander H. Joffe, BESA, Sept. 23, 2018—Western political parties are undergoing astonishing antisemitism crises. The British Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn have been exposed as deeply and irrevocably antisemitic. The US Democratic Party has now nominated nearly a half dozen candidates for Congress who are implacably opposed to Israel, and stands on the verge of a millennial-driven transformation into Labour. Accusations of Jewish disloyalty and Israeli conspiracies are common, as are threats to banish Israel from the community of nations.

Once Again, the Media Whitewashes Antisemitism Around the World: Sean Durns, Algemeiner, Oct. 3, 2018—The Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor has previously warned about a “a rising tide of anti-Semitism.” Yet when the journalist sat down to interview one of the world’s leading antisemites, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, such concerns seemed to dissipate. The Post’s September 28, 2018 interview of Mahathir failed to inform readers — much less confront the Malaysian politician — about his blatant antisemitism.

MURDER OF SAUDI JOURNALIST DAMAGES RIYADH’S REPUTATION AND THREATENS M.E. “FAULT LINES”

Khashoggi Disliked Israel, But His Brutal Murder Puts Jerusalem in Tough Spot: Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, Oct. 23, 2018— Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was brutally murdered in Istanbul earlier this month, was not fond of Israel, to say the least.

What the Khashoggi Murder Means for the Middle East: James M. Dorsey, Algemeiner, Oct. 24, 2018— The death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on the premises of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul threatens to upend the fault lines across the Middle East, and severely disrupt the US-Saudi alliance that holds together many of those fault lines.

Egypt’s War on the Muslim Brotherhood: Dima Abumaria, The Media Line, October 18, 2018— Egyptian police released the 25-year-old son of former president Mohammed Morsi Wednesday after he spent less than 24 hours in detention on charges of joining an outlawed organization and publishing “fake news.”

Rumors Stoke Islamist Attacks on Egyptian Copts: Hany Ghoraba, IPT News, Oct. 9, 2018— Islamists and jihadists in Egypt have targeted the Egyptian Coptic minorities for decades with bombings and mob attacks on Coptic churches, businesses and homes.

On Topic Links

Canada Can’t Just Avoid the Regimes it Doesn’t Agree With, like Saudi Arabia: Dennis Horak, National Post, Oct. 24, 2018

The Ugly Terror Truth About Jamal Khashoggi: Daniel Greenfield, Breaking Israel News, Oct. 17, 2018

The Kingdom and the Power: Elliott Abrams, Weekly Standard, Oct. 20, 2018

Egyptian Christians, at Home and Abroad: Lofty Basta, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 26, 2018

 

                                        KHASHOGGI DISLIKED ISRAEL,

          BUT HIS BRUTAL MURDER PUTS JERUSALEM IN TOUGH SPOT                                                                                    Raphael Ahren

Times of Israel, Oct. 23, 2018

Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was brutally murdered in Istanbul earlier this month, was not fond of Israel, to say the least. “The Jews are without history in Palestine. Therefore, they invented the Wailing Wall, which is a Mamluk structure,” he tweeted in 2015. Khashoggi also opposed Saudi Arabia’s covert cooperation with Israel, arguing that Riyadh did not need it and that any ties with the Jewish state would unnecessarily tarnish his country’s reputation in the wider Arab world, according to Professor Joshua Teitelbaum, an expert on Saudi Arabia at Bar-Ilan University who knew Khashoggi well.

“He wasn’t a friend of Israel, but he had no problems meeting with and speaking to Israelis,” recalled Teitelbaum, who last saw the slain writer last year, when they had coffee on the sidelines of a conference on the Middle East in Washington.

In one of his last public appearances, Khashoggi, who had ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, confirmed that Riyadh had grown closer to Jerusalem. But he added that the kingdom had “backtracked on some of the more recent pro-Israeli positions it has taken,” according to Middle East Monitor, which hosted him at a conference in London less than a week before he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where he met his death.

Khashoggi’s cruel murder, and the regime’s amateurish attempts to cover it up, have caused immeasurable damage to the international prestige of Saudi Arabia and its de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The fact that the US and other Western countries are considering punishing Riyadh — Germany has already frozen scheduled deliveries of arms to the kingdom — casts a deep shadow not only over Israel’s clandestine relationship with the kingdom but also over international efforts to keep Iran in check.

For one thing, American and Israeli leaders hoped that MBS — as the crown prince is known — and his ostensible pro-Israel disposition could help force the Palestinians into concessions necessary for peace. Furthermore, the erosion of Riyadh’s international standing may negatively affect its role as one of the main regional powers standing up to Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons and other belligerent behavior. Mutual enmity toward Tehran, it is worth noting, brought Israel and Saudi Arabia closer in the first place.

“Israel is in a very difficult situation,” said Dan Shapiro, a former US ambassador to Israel. “It wants and needs Saudi Arabia to be a reliable anchor of this regional coalition to confront Iranian aggression, and it’s faced with a reality that the current Saudi leadership has been proven unable to fulfill that role.” No other Arab country could replace Saudi Arabia in the region’s anti-Iran coalition, but MBS has proven to be “extremely reckless, impulsive and untrustworthy,” added Shapiro, who today is a fellow at the Institute for National Security in Tel Aviv.

Khashoggi’s gruesome murder and the ongoing lies about it are only the last in series of bad decisions made by the crown prince, Shapiro said, which include bombing Yemen without concern for civilian casualties, imposing a siege on Qatar, detaining Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri, picking a fight with Canada over a Tweet about human rights, and rounding up dissidents. MBS “frequently acts on limited knowledge and poor judgment,” and the various scandals he has dragged his country into weaken the kingdom and undermine its relationship with its allies, Shapiro charged.

The US should not sever its relationship with the kingdom, as it plays a vital role in America’s efforts to rein in Iran, he said. However, “until there is a change of Saudi leadership, or at least a change in the style of Saudi leadership, the country’s ability to play that role is significantly weakened.” It remains to be seen how US President Donald Trump reacts as more and more details about Khashoggi’s killing come to light, though he seems determined not let the affair get in the way of what he said was $450 billion worth of Saudi investments. “But we’re going to get to the bottom of it,” he vowed Monday.

For Israel, the situation is somewhat trickier. On the one hand, it does not want to see Riyadh’s position in the region diminished in favor of Tehran, or Ankara. (Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is believed by some to be seeing the Khashoggi murder as an opportunity to replace Saudi Arabia as the leader of the Sunni Islamic world.) On the other hand, Israel should be careful not be regarded as Riyadh’s mouthpiece in the US and Europe, several analysts interviewed for this article warned.

“It would have significant negative reputational impact on Israel to be seen as the defender and as the explainer and as the advocate on of MBS after this brutal performance, which was followed by several weeks of lying — which actually still continues — about what happened in Istanbul,” Shapiro said. Rather, all that’s left for Jerusalem to do is quiet diplomacy in a bid to try sustain “whatever can be sustained” regarding security cooperation with Saudi Arabia, he added. But there can be no doubt that the Khashoggi affair “has weakened a central pillar of Israel’s strategic concept in the Middle East in a way that Israel can’t do very much to repair it. That’s the damage in having such an unreliable Saudi leadership as we currently unfortunately have.”…

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

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          WHAT THE KHASHOGGI MURDER MEANS FOR THE MIDDLE EAST                                                                     James M. Dorsey                                                                                                                                      Algemeiner, Oct. 24, 2018

The death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on the premises of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul threatens to upend the fault lines across the Middle East, and severely disrupt the US-Saudi alliance that holds together many of those fault lines.

An investigation into Khashoggi’s fate mandated by members of the US Congress and a possible meeting between President Donald Trump and the journalist’s Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, could result in a US and European embargo on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which would also impact the kingdom’s brutal proxy war with Iran in Yemen, portray Saudi Arabia as a rogue state, and call into question US and Saudi allegations that Iran is the Middle East’s main state supporter of terrorism.

Those allegations were a key reason for the US withdrawal — with the backing of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel — from the 2015 international agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear program, and for the re-imposition of crippling economic sanctions on Tehran. An investigation into the role of the Saudi leadership in the death of Khashoggi would also undermine the 15-month-old economic and diplomatic boycott of Qatar, a country that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain accuse of supporting terrorism.

Furthermore, a condemnation and sanctioning of Saudi Arabia by the international community would complicate China’s and Russia’s efforts to avoid being sucked into the Saudi-Iranian rivalry. Those two countries will be at a crossroads if the Saudi government is proven to be responsible for Khashoggi’s death and the issue of sanctions is subsequently brought before the UN Security Council.

So far, both Russia and China have managed to maintain close ties to Riyadh despite their efforts to defeat US sanctions against Iran, and Russia’s alliance with Iran on behalf of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. A significantly weakened Saudi Arabia would also undermine Arab cover provided by the kingdom for Trump’s efforts to impose a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would favor Israel at the expense of the Palestinians. Finally, a conclusive determination that Saudi Arabia was responsible for Khashoggi’s death would likely spark renewed debate about the wisdom of the international community’s support for Arab autocracy, which has proven unashamedly brutal in its violation of human rights and disregard for international law and conventions.

Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman has suffered significant damage to his reputation, raising the question of his viability if Saudi Arabia is condemned internationally. This raises the follow-up question of the stability of the kingdom, which is a key tenant of US, Chinese, and Russian Middle East policy. The damage suffered by Prince Muhammad embarrasses UAE Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed, who, together with his aides and representatives in world capitals, has worked hard to project his Saudi counterpart as the kingdom’s future.

Saudi Arabia did itself few favors by initially flatly rejecting any responsibility for Khashoggi’s disappearance; asserting that claims that it was involved were fabrications by Turkey, Qatar, and the Muslim Brotherhood; seeking to defame Khashoggi’s fiancée and supporters; and refusing to fully cooperate with Turkish investigators. Saudi reluctance to cooperate, as well as the US investigation and Ms. Cengiz’s possible meeting with Trump, complicate apparent Turkish efforts to find a resolution of the escalating crisis that would allow Saudi Arabia to save face and salvage Turkey’s economic relationship with the kingdom.

Turkey, despite deep policy differences with Saudi Arabia over Qatar, Iran, and the Muslim Brotherhood, has so far refrained from releasing the evidence it claims it has proving that Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents inside the consulate. The release of gruesome details of the killing by anonymous Turkish officials appears designed to pressure Saudi Arabia into complying with Turkey’s demands and efforts at managing the crisis. The death of Jamal Khashoggi is reshaping the political map of the Middle East. He paid a horrendous price for sparking the earthquake that is now rumbling across the region.

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EGYPT’S WAR ON THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD                                                                        Dima Abumaria

                                                The Media Line, October 18, 2018

Egyptian police released the 25-year-old son of former president Mohammed Morsi Wednesday after he spent less than 24 hours in detention on charges of joining an outlawed organization and publishing “fake news.” Abdullah Morsi Mohammed Morsi, a graduate business student, posted a bail of 5,000 Egyptian pounds [about $280] according to a statement by Attorney General Nabil Sadek. “The Attorney General decided to release Abdullah until further investigations take place into the charges against him,” said Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maqsoud, a member of Morsi’s defense team.

Abdullah frequently posts updates on social media about his father’s condition at the Tora maximum security prison, about eight miles south of downtown Cairo, as the family seeks more visitation rights and better health care for the jailed Brotherhood leader. The London-based Arabi21 website published an interview with Abdullah just days before his arrest detailing the conditions of the family’s September visit at the prison.

Morsi is challenging a death sentence and 48 years in jail for five separate cases including espionage for Hamas, Hezbollah and Qatar as well as insulting Egypt’s judiciary. The charge of joining a terrorist group refers to the Muslim Brotherhood, which was outlawed in 2013. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, an Egyptian general who then became president, led a coalition to remove the elder Morsi from the presidential palace.

Egypt has been plagued by a violent insurgency since Sisi replaced Morsi. Egyptian officials have viewed the terrorist wave as part of a revenge campaign for the Brotherhood’s ousting. Since 2013, the Egyptian army has also waged a fierce counter-terrorism operation against a Sinai-based Islamic State-affiliated group. It has seen an upsurge in attacks on the Coptic Christian community, as well as security personnel and senior officials in the Nile Valley. Last month, Sisi emphasized the need for a “global war” against terrorism during his address at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

“There is no doubt that the Arab region is one of the most vulnerable to the dangers of nation-state disintegration, and the ensuing creation of a fertile environment for terrorism and exacerbation of sectarian conflicts,” Sisi declared at the UN. Cairo has been working to contain Islamists throughout Egypt, making no distinction between their political and armed wings. “Anyone who has anything to do with the Islamic movement can expect to be questioned and other times detained based on their activity within the movement,” an Egyptian political observer close to the Sisi administration told The Media Line.

“Mohammed Morsi supported and promoted the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and beyond—especially in Syria by urging Muslims join a jihad against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Sisi ended that and is cleaning up the mess caused by Islamist political groups in Egypt,” the analyst added.

Ibrahim Haj Ibrahim, who heads the Political Science department at Birzeit University in Ramallah, believes the anti-terror rhetoric in Cairo is a core component of a Saudi-led effort, which includes Egypt and the UAE, to gain support for the ongoing boycott of Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood’s chief state backer in the region. “Saudi Arabia doesn’t want any other regional power, but itself,” Ibrahim told The Media Line. “Riyadh is doing the best it can to put the Muslim Brotherhood in the category of terrorism.”

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RUMORS STOKE ISLAMIST ATTACKS ON EGYPTIAN COPTS

Hany Ghoraba

IPT News, Oct. 9, 2018

Islamists and jihadists in Egypt have targeted the Egyptian Coptic minorities for decades with bombings and mob attacks on Coptic churches, businesses and homes. Many are sanctioned by fatwas from radical clerics, Salafist preachers and Muslim Brotherhood muftis.

The latest attack took place Sept. 1 in Dimshaw, a village in southern Egypt’s Minya governorate. A mob of nearly 1,000 Islamists and Muslim radicals attacked Christians who gathered in a home to pray. Several homes reportedly were looted and set on fire. The mob claimed that the Christians didn’t have a license, and a rumor spread that they are on the verge of building a new church. A Minya court released 21 of the 25 people arrested in the attack. Copts often take a passive approach to such crises. “Copts, by nature and by belief, are by far more accepting of death, fate, and all tragedies that befall them,” said Egyptian writer and political analyst Azza Sedky. “When one of them dies, they believe he or she has gone to a ‘better place.’ Acceptance is key.”

The 1956 Suez crisis generated xenophobia toward foreigners, driving many out of Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood stepped up activities around that time and “began to play [its] tricks and the antagonism [against religious minorities] intensified, especially in rural areas,” she said. Spreading rumors is a long-standing tactic for the Muslim Brotherhood. In 1947, for example, a Cairo police officer tried to stop an unlicensed Brotherhood political march. The protesters then spread a rumor that the officer tore a copy of the Quran, which triggered a riot in which he was killed. Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna blamed the slain police officer for not acting prudently.

A rumor spread by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1952 claimed that Copts in Suez were colluding with British occupation forces to kill Muslims. As a result, a mob stormed the city and burned several Copts alive, later throwing their bodies into a church which was then burned down. The “Suez Massacre” marked the beginning of a long series of assaults and killings of Copts based on rumors spread by Brotherhood and other Islamists. Rumors spread by Islamists claimed that Copts were importing arms from Israel and storing them in churches.

Since the June 2013 Revolution, Egypt’s Christians have been blamed for Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster, with Islamists leaders vowing that Christians will pay the price. They carried through on those threats in August 2013, immediately after the Egyptian army wiped out the Brotherhood’s Rabaa armed encampment. Islamists torched 66 Coptic owned buildings, including 49 churches.

Major attacks against Copts continued. A December 2016 bombing at Cairo’s St. Mark Church during Sunday Mass killed 29 people and injured 48 others. A twin bombing four months later targeted a Palm Sunday service the St. Mark Church in Alexandria and St. George Church in the Nile Delta City of Tanta north of Cairo. At least 45 people were killed and 126 injured. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi immediately ordered that the targeted churches be rebuilt or repaired, sending a message that the government will protect its citizens. Nevertheless, that message has not yet led to stricter enforcement of laws on assailants and radicals who incite violence.

A new church building law aimed at helping Copts may actually create harm, said Mohamed Abu Hamed, the deputy head of the Egyptian Parliament’s “Solidarity Committee,” which is designated to introduce laws and recommendations for social justice. The law should have applied to all places of worship, he said, but covers only church construction.

Attacks on Copts have decreased in recent years after efforts to round up Islamist leaders, and Egyptian police raids on terrorist cells. Copts, however, still represent a top target for Islamists who don’t believe that this minority should have the same rights and freedom to worship. The latest attack on Christians in Minya may indicate a return to a pattern of attacking Copts during prayers services. In July 2015, radicals attacked a house designated to the Copts as a church. Salafi radicals stoned those gathered, but fled when security forces arrived. They came back and threw Molotov cocktails at the gathered Copts.

For decades, local authorities approved “customary reconciliations” to resolve disputes, including those between Muslims and Christians. Community leaders, heads of families, tribe leaders and local authority figures meet to try to resolve conflicts without going to court. But they don’t always produce just outcomes, Abu Hamed said.

“Despite the existence of an old judicial system that dates back to the times of the pharaohs, authorities still utilize the so called ‘customary reconciliations’ instead of applying the laws which is a blatant breach of the constitution and rule of law. What makes it worse is that these meetings are attended by security authorities, political leaders and governors among others,” he said. “Some authority figures believe these meetings create a sort of equilibrium, or it provides them with political and social leverage. The second reason is they believe it is the easier way to contain matters in face of the Salafist groups and radicals.” On a similar note, Coptic Bishop Macarius rejected all forms of unofficial reconciliation.

Conditions for Copts are improving despite these troubles, Sedky said, noting that “Sisi was the first president to attend mass on Christmas Eve in Egypt,” a groundbreaking action countering Salafists who tell Egyptians not to shake hands with Copts. “However, as [with] everything else,” she said, “it will take generations to overcome an ingrained hatred that was left to flourish for years.”

The current atmosphere is still ripe for the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists to spew their poisonous ideologies, lies and rumors, Abu Hamed said. He blames a tepid effort from Al Azhar – Sunni Islam’s most prestigious institution – to reform religious curriculum; a significant Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi presence in key positions within state religious institutions; and Muslim Brotherhood control of mosques which spread hateful ideology despite a state ban…

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

Contents

 

On Topic Links

Canada Can’t Just Avoid the Regimes it Doesn’t Agree With, like Saudi Arabia: Dennis Horak, National Post, Oct. 24, 2018—As the Trudeau government undertakes its announced review of Saudi-Canada relations, it needs to look past the recent horrific news and find an approach that aims to be truly effective by advancing legitimate Canadian interests along with its values.

The Ugly Terror Truth About Jamal Khashoggi: Daniel Greenfield, Breaking Israel News, Oct. 17, 2018—In high school, Jamal Khashoggi had a good friend. His name was Osama bin Laden. “We were hoping to establish an Islamic state anywhere,” Khashoggi reminisced about their time together in the Muslim Brotherhood. “We believed that the first one would lead to another, and that would have a domino effect which could reverse the history of mankind.”

The Kingdom and the Power: Elliott Abrams, Weekly Standard, Oct. 20, 2018—While the details of Jamal Khashoggi’s death have not fully emerged, we know the essentials. He died at the hands of Saudi agents in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and the decision to kidnap or kill him must have been taken at the top of the Saudi political structure. Whether crown prince Mohammed bin Salman asked “will no one rid me of this meddlesome journalist” or specified the methods to be used, he is responsible for Khashoggi’s death.

Egyptian Christians, at Home and Abroad: Lofty Basta, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 26, 2018—Copts (Egyptian Christians) living in Egypt or in adoptive countries have common attributes – they are peace-loving, belong to strong large families with low divorce rates, have a lower mean age than the rest of civilized world, respect their elderly, value education and work, are always willing to help those in need, are courteous and use respectful non-obscene language.

 

WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS OF THE WEEK IN REVIEW”

On Topic Links

Khashoggi Rejiggers Middle East at a Horrible Cost: Dr. James M. Dorsey, BESA, October 23, 2018

UK: Anjem Choudary Released from Prison: Soeren Kern, Gatesotne Institute, October 20, 2018

Dismantling ‘Isle of Peace,’ Jordan Chooses Hardliners Over Israel Ties: Raoul Wootliff & Adam Rasgon, Times of Israel, Oct. 21, 2018

Israeli and Jordanian Experts Downplay Significance of Peace-Treaty Changes: Israel Kasnett, JNS, Oct. 23, 2018

 

WEEKLY QUOTES 

“My opinion is very clear…We must land a strong blow against Hamas. That’s the only way to lower the level of violence to zero, or close to zero…We have exhausted all other options in Gaza…I’ve held a series of meetings with the head of the Southern Command, the head of the [Gaza] Division, the brigade commanders, the battalion commanders, also with soldiers. My impression is that they all have reached the understanding that the situation as it is today cannot continue.” — Israel Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. Hamas and Israel came a step closer to all-out war last week after two upgraded GRAD missiles were launched at major Israeli population centers from the Gaza Strip. A house in the southern Israel city Beersheva was hit causing damages, while a mother and three children were treated for shock. The IDF pounded several Hamas targets in Gaza after the missile launches, killing at least seven Palestinians, according to Palestinian media. (Jerusalem Online, Oct. 18, 2018) 

“Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse the Jews, Victory to Islam.” — Houthis slogan. The Houthis are a Yemeni rebel group that conquered Sana’a and almost took control of Aden in 2015, threatening the country’s most important cities. A Saudi Arabia-led alliance has been fighting the rebels since then. The Houthis are backed by Iran and have fired missiles at Riyadh. They have increasingly incorporated anti-Israel rhetoric into their speeches, as part of the growing network of Iranian-backed groups in the region, such as Hezbollah, that is obsessed with fighting Israel. The Houthis have incorporated the antisemitic “curse the Jews” slogan into their chants. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 10, 2018)

“In the past, mainstream Jewish organizations strove to be nonpartisan. But alas, no longer, with the majority of the non-Orthodox strongly opposed to their president. This would not be so bad if they did so as Americans, but to do so as an expression of their supposed Jewish identity, or in their capacity as Jewish leaders, is incomprehensible. But what is utterly outrageous is the attitude displayed by Jews toward Trump’s Israel policies. Trump is your president and as Americans you can hate him or love him. But as Jews you should appreciate what he has done for us by being the first American president to openly ally himself with Israel and avoid moral equivalency by telling the truth about Palestinian duplicity and terror.” — Isi Leibler (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 22, 2018)

“(Anti Defamation League Director Jonathan) Greenblatt’s defenders like to point to the occasional times he’s managed to criticize a non-Republican for anti-Semitism, but such criticism usually comes after indefensible silence. The larger point is that under Greenblatt, the ADL paints a picture of the political right’s extremists as connected. But instances of left-wing extremism aren’t given the same treatment; they are depicted as isolated incidents, not dots to be connected. Meanwhile, Ellison is the DNC’s No. 2; Sarsour helped the campaign of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and then ran the Women’s March; and a slew of prominent Democrats have been kicking the Jewish community in the teeth. The party’s newest rising star is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America who parroted Hamas talking points to accuse Israelis of being butchers and occupiers of “Palestine.”” — Seth Mandel. (Commentary, Oct. 2018)

“To the members of the Jewish community that don’t like me, thank you very much for putting my name all over the planet because of your fear of what we represent…So when they talk about Farrakhan, call me a hater, you [know] what they do, call me an antisemite. Stop it, I’m anti-termite…I don’t know nothing about hating somebody because of their religious preference.” — Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Farrakhan has once again provoked controversy by comparing Jews to termites and calling Jewish people stupid at an event marking the 23rd anniversary of the so-called “Million Man March” in Washington, DC in 1995. Farrakhan was referring to the strong reaction to antisemitic comments he made in a speech in May this year when he talked of “Satanic Jews who have infected the whole world with poison and deceit.” (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 17, 2018)

“The idea that there’s a question about the Jewish historical presence in the Holy Land and specifically at these sites is unacceptable and diminishes the religious rights of the Jewish people.” — Gary Bauer, head of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. UNESCO, the cultural and educational agency of the UN, was attacked by Bauer for undermining the historic connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. Bauer was referring to two resolutions adopted by UNESCO on October 10, which refer to Jewish holy sites in Hebron and Bethlehem solely as “Palestinian sites.” “UNESCO has no business pronouncing on territorial sovereignty or arbitrating territorial disputes,” Bauer said. Consistent anti-Israel bias at UNESCO led both the United States and Israel to announce their respective withdrawals from the agency in October 2017. (Algemeiner, Oct. 23, 2018)

“The State of Israel has been founded, and it has been founded only thus: with blood and fire, with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, with suffering and sacrifice…The Hebrew army can and must be one of the best-trained and excellent armies in the world… This was shown by all of the Hebrew youth, the youth of the Haganah, of Lehi and of the Irgun… the likes of which no generation in the generations of Israel, from Bar-Kokhba to the Bilu’im, had ever seen.” — Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. A recording of a speech by Begin has recently been found in Jerusalem, 70 years after it was made. The recording, made in 1948, a day after the establishment of the State of Israel, will be up for sale in Jerusalem. The speech was broadcast live on the Irgun radio station. The item will go up for auction on November 13, and bidding is to begin at $300,000. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 19, 2018)

Contents

 

SHORT TAKES 

SAUDI JOURNALIST KHASHOGGI’S REMAINS FOUND (Istanbul) — The remains of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi have been found, with one source saying remains were found in the garden of the Saudi consul general’s home. The report comes after remarks by Turkish President Erdogan, who said that Khashoggi’s body hasn’t been found. Intelligence sources said Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, ran Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by giving orders over Skype. A source relayed that at one point Qahtani told his men to dispose of Khashoggi. “Bring me the head of the dog,” Qahtani instructed. (Ha’aretz, Oct. 23, 2018) 

US GENERAL WOUNDED IN AFGHANISTAN (Kabul) — The U.S. general who oversees the NATO mission in southern Afghanistan was wounded in an attack last week. Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Smiley was shot during a meeting of military and intelligence leaders in the Kandahar Province. Smiley is being treated for his wound. The attack happened during a meeting involving U.S. Gen. Scott Miller, regional police chief Gen. Abdul Raziq and intelligence chief Gen. Abdul Momin. Raziq and Momin were killed in the attack. The Taliban later said the attack, which caused the delay of elections in Kandahar, was directed at Raziq and Miller. (The Hill, Oct. 22, 2018)

JORDAN CANCELS PART OF PEACE DEAL (Amman) — Jordan’s King Abdullah II said he has decided not to renew parts of his country’s landmark peace treaty with Israel. Abdullah intends to pull out of two annexes from the 1994 peace agreement that allowed Israel to lease two small areas, Baqura and Ghamr, from the Jordanians for 25 years. The lands were leased to Jewish farmers early last century, but then became part of Jordan after the kingdom gained independence in 1946. Baqura was captured by Israel in 1950. Ghamr was seized in the 1967 Mideast War. Under their peace agreement, Jordan agreed to grant Israeli farmers and military officers free access to the enclave. (National Post, Oct. 21, 2018)

ABBAS & HAMAS USE TORTURE TO CRUSH DISSENT: HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH (London) — Human Rights Watch accused both the PA and Hamas of routinely engaging in “systematic” unwarranted arrests and torture of critics, suspected dissidents and political opponents, and of developing “parallel police states” in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In a report based on interviews with 147 witnesses, HRW detailed a common method of abuse and torture known as shabeh in which detainees are placed in painful physical positions for lengthy periods of time. Such practices cause distress and traumad, while often leaving “little or no trace on the body,” the report said. (Times of Israel, Oct. 23, 2018)

IDF TROOPS ARREST SUSPECTED ACCOMPLICE OF BARKAN TERRORIST — REPORT (Jerusalem) — IDF troops operating in the West Bank village of Shuweika arrested a man suspected of aiding the escaped terrorist who killed two Israelis at the Barkan Industrial Zone earlier this month. The move comes after officials delivered a demolition order to Ashraf Na’alowa’s family home. Na’alowa has been on the run since killing Kim Levengrond Yehezkel and Ziv Hajbi on October 7 at the factory where he was employed. A third Israeli was wounded in the attack. (Times of Israel, Oct. 2, 2018)

IDF UNCOVERS ANOTHER HEZBOLLAH OBSERVATION POST (Beirut) — The IDF recently uncovered another Hezbollah observation post, the sixth in number in the past couple of years. The organization uses these posts for military purposes. According to the IDF, Hezbollah members move along the fence, patrol Israel and form military infrastructure. Similar to the five observation posts IDF uncovered last year, this post is apparently used for intelligence gathering through observing IDF activity. Hezbollah has set up this network under the guise of Green Without Borders, a Hezbollah-funded organization that promotes agriculture and environmental protection. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 22, 2018)

ANJEM CHOUDARY RELEASED FROM U.K. PRISON (London) — A radical Islamic preacher was released from a British prison after serving less than half of a 5-1/2-year prison sentence for encouraging support for I.S. Anjem Choudary, 51, will be subject to strict supervision. Choudary has been one of the most high-profile faces of radical Islam in Britain for years, leading groups under names including al-Muhajiroun, Islam4UK and Muslims Against Crusades. Several people who attended Choudary’s rallies and events have been convicted of violent attacks, including the two al Qaeda-inspired killers who ran over British soldier Lee Rigby and stabbed him to death in 2013. (CTV, Oct. 19, 2018)

ALGERIA BANS WEARING OF FULL-FACE VEILS IN ADMINISTRATION (Algeiers) — Algeria Prime minister Ahmed Ouayhia has banned female public sector employees from wearing veils that cover their faces. In a letter sent to ministers and regional governors, Ouayhia cited reasons of identification for the move. Civil servants, he wrote, need to “observe the rules and requirements of security and communication within their department, which impose their systematic and permanent physical identification.” Not so many women wear the niqab in Algeria, where the hijab — a scarf that covers the head and neck, but leaves the face clear — is the most popular. (National Post, Oct. 19, 2018)

MISS EARTH LEBANON STRIPPED OF TITLE AFTER PHOTO WITH ISRAELI (Beirut) —  Miss Earth Lebanon has reportedly been stripped of her title after posing for a photo with Miss Earth Israel. Salwa Akar took for a photo with Israeli-Arab contestant Dana Zreik, and the image has circulated on social media. Akar claimed that Zreik spoke to her in Arabic, and she didn’t know she was Israeli. But the Lebanese pageant organizer said Zreik was wearing a sash reading Israel, and it did not accept the excuse. The Miss Earth competition is set to take place for the 18th year running on November 3 in the Philippines. The pageant seeks to promote environmental awareness. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 17, 2018)

AUSTRALIA’S EMBASSY MOVE TO JERUSALEM IN DOUBT FOLLOWING LIBERAL PARTY’S DEFEAT (Sydney) — Australia’s potential move of its embassy to Jerusalem was left in doubt after the Liberal government lost its one-seat majority following a defeat in a special election for Parliament. Dave Sharma, the former ambassador to Israel, was beaten Saturday in the vote to fill a vacant House of Representatives seat near Sydney. Independent Party candidate Kerry Phelps, a convert to Judaism, won the Wentworth seat, which has gone traditionally to the Liberal Party. Wentworth is home to a Jewish community of 20,000, or 12.5 percent of its population. (JTA, Oct. 21, 2018)

BOLIVIA PROMOTES ANOTHER CONTROVERSIAL EVENT AT UN SECURITY COUNCIL (New York) — The Bolivian mission to the United Nations, which ‎holds the Security Council presidency this ‎month‎, ‎announced it plans to host another anti-‎Israel event at the forum.‎ The Bolivian Ambassador to the UN has invited Randa Siniora, director ‎of the Ramallah-based Women’s Center for Legal Aid ‎and Counselling and former director of Al-Haq—both ‎groups that promote anti-Israel lawfare and support ‎the BDS movement—to ‎address the Security Council.‎ Bolivia has a long track record of human-rights violations. The South American country is believed to be the epicenter ‎massive human-trafficking rings, including ‎trafficking in women and children for forced labor ‎and prostitution. (JNS, Oct. 24, 2018)

MPS APPROVE MOTION CALLING FOR STRATEGY ON RETURNING I.S. MEMBERS (Ottawa) — An opposition motion tabled in the House of Commons called on the Canadian government to put forward a plan within 45 days for bringing to justice those who fought with I.S. The Liberals said they would support the motion. MPs approved the motion by a 280 to 1 vote. MP Michelle Rempel introduced the motion, arguing the government should acknowledge that anyone who travelled abroad to take part in terrorism or genocide should face legal consequences. (Global, Oct. 22, 2018)

GERMANY SEES RISE IN CITIZENSHIP APPLICATIONS BY BRITISH JEWS (London) — The number of Britons who have requested to regain German citizenship that was robbed from their families by the Nazis has risen from 43 in 2015 to almost 1,700 last year, with most of those eligible being British Jews. Last year, following the 2016 referendum in the UK to leave the EU, the number leapt to 1,667 requests. Under article 116-2 of the German constitution, former Germans who lost their citizenship on “political, racial or religious grounds” between the day Adolf Hitler became chancellor on January 30, 1933 and Germany’s surrender on May 8, 1945, can ask to have their citizenship reinstated. The report also comes following a poll last month that showed 40 percent of British Jews would “seriously consider emigrating” if Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn became prime minister. (Times of Israel, Oct. 19, 2018)

BIBLE MUSEUM PULLS FAKE DEAD SEA SCROLLS (Washington) — The Museum of the Bible in Washington DC announced it was pulling five of its 16 Dead Sea Scroll fragments from display. The museum, which opened in November, said it was removing the fragments after an analysis showed that the artifacts are not in fact authentic Dead Sea Scrolls. The eight-story, 430,000-square-foot Museum of the Bible – that cost more than $500 million – was created and funded by Steve Green, the conservative Evangelical heir to the Hobby Lobby retail chain. The vast majority of the Dead Sea Scrolls – ancient manuscripts dated to the 2nd century BCE – belong to the Israeli government, and are housed in the Israel Museum. Various fragments are believed to be in private hands. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 23, 2018)

ISRAEL AND US POSTAL SERVICES ISSUE JOINT HANUKKAH STAMP (Washington) — Israel Post and the U.S. Postal Service have issued a joint stamp for Hanukkah. The stamp is meant to celebrate 70 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and the U.S. The new stamp design was launched simultaneously in the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, the oldest synagogue in the U.S., and at the American Center in Jerusalem. The stamp art features a Hanukkah menorah created using papercutting, a Jewish folk art, by artist Tamar Fishman. (JTA, Oct. 17, 2018) 

On Topic Links

Khashoggi Rejiggers Middle East at a Horrible Cost: Dr. James M. Dorsey, BESA, October 23, 2018—The killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul threatens to severely disrupt the US-Saudi alliance that holds together many of the Middle East’s fault lines.

UK: Anjem Choudary Released from Prison: Soeren Kern, Gatesotne Institute, October 20, 2018—The Islamist firebrand preacher Anjem Choudary, described as Britain’s “most dangerous extremist,” has been released from prison after serving only half of the five-and-a-half-year sentence he received in 2016 for pledging allegiance to the Islamic State.

Dismantling ‘Isle of Peace,’ Jordan Chooses Hardliners Over Israel Ties: Raoul Wootliff & Adam Rasgon, Times of Israel, Oct. 21, 2018—When Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994, special arrangements were made for parcels of land near Naharayim in the north and Tzofar in the southern Arava desert. Although the land had belonged to Israel for decades and had been farmed by Israeli settlers, under the treaty, it was transferred to Jordan.

Israeli and Jordanian Experts Downplay Significance of Peace-Treaty Changes: Israel Kasnett, JNS, Oct. 23, 2018 —Jordan’s King Abdullah just announced that he informed Israel “of an end to the application of the peace-treaty annexes regarding al-Baqura and al-Ghumar.” The king was referring to a small area in Naharayim in Israel’s north and the Tzofar enclave in the Arava in Israel’s south, both of which were leased from Jordan in the 1994 peace agreement between Jordan and Israel.

IDF CONFRONTS “UNSTABLE AND EXPLOSIVE” SITUATIONS IN GAZA AND SYRIA

Israel Has Reached Decision Time on Gaza: Yaakov Lappin, JNS, Oct. 17, 2018 — Events in Gaza are moving quickly, and Israel has now reached a critical fork in the road with two main paths…

Putin May Not Want a Fight with Israel, But He May Get It: David J. Bercuson, National Post, Oct. 5, 2018— Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad can sleep a little better these days now that Russia has completed delivery of a new system of long-range S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Syria.

Russia and NATO Show War Games Aren’t Just Games: James Stavridis, Bloomberg, Sept. 6, 2018— Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad can sleep a little better these days now that Russia has completed delivery of a new system of long-range S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Syria.

Canada’s Fighter Jet Debacle: This is No Way to Run a Military: David Krayden, National Post, Oct. 3, 2018  — Last week the United States Marine Corps flew the F-35 joint strike fighter into combat for the first time.

On Topic Links

Israel’s All-Terrain EZRaiders Latest Law Enforcement Rage: David Israel, Jewish Press, Sept. 21, 2018

What Will the Next Israel-Hezbollah War Look Like?: Ehud Eilam, Israel Defense, Oct. 7, 2018

A Tale of A Lone Soldier: Ariel Rudolph, Jerusalem Online, Sept. 14, 2018

Two Junk Submarines, and Our Long Tradition of Terrible Military Procurements: Nima Karimi, National Post, Oct. 3, 2018

                            

ISRAEL HAS REACHED DECISION TIME ON GAZA                                                  

Yaakov Lappin

JNS, Oct. 17, 2018

Events in Gaza are moving quickly, and Israel has now reached a critical fork in the road with two main paths: a significant military escalation, which has the potential to gain momentum and turn into a broader armed conflict; or a long-term arrangement, designed to restore calm to the area.

Opinions in the security cabinet have been split on whether to give Egyptian mediation efforts more time to reach an arrangement with Hamas or whether to respond more forcefully to Hamas’s border attacks. Until the middle-of-the-night rocket attack that smashed a house in Beersheva into rubble, and which saw a second rocket head towards central Israel, it was easier for proponents of the mediation efforts to make their case.

The Israel Defense Forces had been able to largely contain the Hamas-organized border rioting, which included grenade and IED attacks, and Israeli cities were not under fire. The western Negev region, however, was under constant low-level Hamas attacks, including arson, incendiary balloons and border disturbances; life for local residents there has not been easy these past six months. Gaza’s civilians—trapped between endless feuding between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority—have seen their situation deteriorate considerably, and are on the verge of an economic and humanitarian crash.

Hamas thinks that by playing a game of dangerous brinkmanship and ramping up the pressure on Israel, Jerusalem will be more likely to enter into an arrangement that lifts security restrictions on Gaza. It is a gamble that could blow up in Hamas’s face. At 3:40 a.m. on Wednesday morning, sirens went off in Beersheva and changed the direction. The family inside the home narrowly averted a terrible fate, thanks to the alertness and quick thinking of a mother who rushed her family into a rocket-proof safe room. A major red line had been crossed, and an intelligence investigation had begun in Israel to figure out who crossed it.

Already, in the hours after the attack, the IDF indicated that it was linking Hamas, Gaza’s ruling regime, and the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the second-largest faction in Gaza, to the attack. Hamas and PIJ were quick to deny any link to the rockets, even going so far as to describe it as “irresponsible.” The IDF seemed unimpressed. A military spokesman noted that the attackers launched mid-range, locally produced rockets that “are in possession of only two organizations in Gaza: Hamas and PIJ, which very much narrows it down.”

The spokesman said the military was less concerned about which organization launched the projectiles, noting that Hamas “bears full responsibility.” The Israeli Air Force then struck 20 Hamas targets across Gaza, including an offensive terror tunnel that crossed into Israel, tunnel-digging sites in Gaza and a maritime tunnel shaft on the Gazan coastline, designed to let Hamas commando cells head out to sea without being noticed. Additional targets destroyed by Israel included rocket and weapons’ factories.

But that response still falls into the normal Israeli retaliation pattern and indicates that Jerusalem had not yet taken a decision on whether to take things further or not. Factors that sway that decision include the results of the IDF’s intelligence investigation, which should shed more light on exactly who fired the rockets, the result of the Egyptian mediation efforts and the status of other key fronts, particularly the highly explosive northern arena, where Israel is busy trying to keep Iran out of Syria. If Israel can avoid having to deal with multiple active arenas at the same time, it would prefer to do so. It is not so clear that this can, however, be avoided. The IDF has drawn up responses for a range of scenarios, and would be ready to strike Hamas and PIJ more severely if it receives a directive from the government to do so.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has taken the unusual step of publicly announcing his conclusion that the time for talk has passed, and that all of Israel’s efforts to de-escalate the situation—by injecting essential goods into Gaza, like fuel and electricity—have failed. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, following a military evaluation meeting that he took part in, that Israel “would act with great force”—a possible signal that Israel was not prepared to absorb the rocket fire and go back to business as usual.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas views Gaza as a rebel Islamist province that should be brought to its knees for splitting away from Ramallah’s rule. He has played his own role in blocking chances for a truce arrangement. Abbas has placed heavy economic sanctions on Gaza and refuses to act as a channel for international investment in Gaza’s civilian infrastructure until Hamas surrenders to him.

The result is a highly unstable, explosive situation that is teetering on the brink of escalation. The coming hours should reveal in which direction Gaza and Israel will go. If the result is conflict, then it will be one that Hamas and its allies brought upon the heads of the Gazan people.

As IDF Southern Command chief, Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi said, “Hamas pretends to govern in Gaza, and tells the Gazan population that it seeks to improve their lives. However, in reality, Hamas specializes in riots at the border fence and in using explosive devices, incendiary and explosive balloons, and, as we saw last night, rockets. Hamas worsens the lives of ordinary Gazans.”

Contents

   

          PUTIN MAY NOT WANT A FIGHT WITH ISRAEL, BUT HE MAY GET IT                                                 David J. Bercuson                                                                                                                                   National Post, Oct. 5, 2018

Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad can sleep a little better these days now that Russia has completed delivery of a new system of long-range S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Syria. These missiles replace an obsolete system of S-200 missiles that Syria has operated for some time. The S-200s have proven useless in deterring or defeating Israeli air strikes aimed at Iranian military installations in Syria and at Syrian transfer of advanced weapons to its client, Hezbollah, based mainly in Lebanon. The sale — objected to by both Israel and the United States — came in the wake of the destruction of a Russian reconnaissance aircraft by Syria’s older anti-aircraft missiles, which were actually aimed at Israeli fighter-bombers raiding Syria but which brought down the Russian aircraft instead.

The sale of the S-300 missiles to Syria is an important step both in the deterioration of Russian-Israeli relations and in the slide to an even greater regional conflict, perhaps one as significant as the 1973 October War, during which Egypt (now at peace with Israel) and Syria attacked Israel and initiated an almost month-long conflict that almost drew in the Soviet Union and the United States. This sale, therefore, might prove to be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most serious foreign policy mistake.

During the still-ongoing Syrian civil war, Iran backed the Syrian regime alongside Russia and Hezbollah. When Russia began to mount an intensive air campaign against the Syrian rebels, danger arose that clashes might occur between Russian and Israeli aircraft (this same danger existed between NATO aircraft bombing ISIL targets in Syria and Russian aircraft). In both cases protocols and secret communications networks were set up to allow NATO, Israel and Russia to avoid confrontations in the air. Why were the Israeli aircraft attacking targets in Syria? Not to intervene in the civil war, but to attack Iranian military installations that began to appear in Assad’s territory, and to continue to intervene in the transfer from the Syrian military to Hezbollah of sophisticated weapons systems.

The installation of the new Russian missiles sets up a variety of dangerous possibilities. If Russian missiles (presumably operated by Russian military personnel) begin to shoot at Israeli aircraft, the Israeli air force will undoubtedly attack the missile sites and possibly kill or injure members of the Russian military. The protocols that have allowed the two nations to operate in the same airspace will then break down, possibly triggering more clashes. No one can say whether the new Russian missiles are capable of bringing down the upgraded Israeli F-16 fighter bombers generally used by the IAF, or even the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters that Israel is known to be operating in the skies over Syria.

If so, the propaganda coup for Russia will be immense, as will its arms sales to nations that might find themselves on the wrong end of F-35 strikes. If not, the opposite effect will occur — the S-300 will be shown to be ineffective against either the very advanced Israeli F-16s or their F-35s. That would mean political embarrassment to Russia and, no doubt, make it harder for them to sell their new missiles. It is virtually certain that Israel will not stop its air attacks, no matter what.

The other outcome, even more disturbing, would be United States intervening on Israel’s behalf to help the Israelis cope with the S-300s or to protect the reputation of the F-35 fighter, which has now been ordered — and in some cases delivered — to at least nine NATO nations aside from the United States.

So what can account for Putin’s decision to deploy the missiles? Perhaps it is this: there has been so much Russian intervention to save Assad’s regime, that the Russian Federation is now drawn deeper into Syria than was even the case in the days of the old Soviet Union. Back then the U.S.S.R. was not only an ally and major military supplier to Syria, but it was also an implacable foe of Israel. In the early 1970s, Israeli and Soviet aircraft even clashed in the skies near the Suez Canal. In trying to balance a live-and-let-live arrangement with Israel against protecting his now vassal state of Syria, perhaps Putin has decided to let Israel go.

Now that Assad, full of “his” military victory over the rebels, has announced that his next goal is to wrest the Golan Heights back from Israel (which captured that area in 1967), the Russians are in danger of being dragged into a far more serious and much more dangerous situation than they have been in in Georgia or even in eastern Ukraine.                              Contents

   

RUSSIA AND NATO SHOW WAR GAMES AREN’T JUST GAMES                                                                   James Stavridis

                                                Bloomberg, Sept. 6, 2018

Over the coming weeks, both NATO and Russia will launch a series of super-high-end war games. These games are hardly for fun — rather, they are deadly serious practice sessions for hundreds of thousands of soldiers, thousands of combat aircraft, and flotillas of combat ships. While no one will die (other than by accident, a not uncommon occurrence in such exercises), the messages going back and forth are crystal clear: We are prepared for war.

Russia’s exercise is called Vostok — which means “east” — and will be held principally east of the Ural Mountains. It is the largest military exercise by Russia since Soviet times (in 1981) and will deploy 300,000 troops and more than 1,000 military aircraft. Of note, China will participate with thousands of its troops operating alongside the Russians (there will also be a token contingent of troops from Mongolia, which has been a partner to both Russia and NATO at times).

The message to the West is obvious: Russia and China might work together militarily against NATO in the East or the U.S. and its allies in the Pacific. The futuristic novel “Ghost Fleet” by Peter Singer and August Cole gives an excellent description of a high-tech war that begins unexpectedly in the Pacific with Russia and China allied against the U.S. These war games provide a preview of that sort of military activity could look like — and it should be very worrisome to U.S. planners.

NATO will conduct its own huge military exercise, named Trident Juncture 2018. It will take place on the northern borders of the alliance and will involve 40,000 troops from all 29 nations, a couple of hundred aircraft and dozens of warships. While not as spectacularly large as Russia’s Vostok, it will serve as a “graduation exercise” for NATO’s new Spearhead Force, a serious, highly mobile capability that can put NATO combat troops into the Baltic states to repulse a Russian invasion within a matter of days.

Led by a highly motivated Italian unit that could be fully ready to fight in 48 hours, the spearhead force also includes Dutch and Norwegian forces. Advance word says the exercise will include a mock invasion of Norway by U.S. Marines. This robust event is part of a vast improvement over the anemic states of readiness in NATO just a decade ago.

Of note, two high-capability militaries that are not NATO members, but are close coalition partners — Sweden and Finland — will participate. When I was supreme allied commander of NATO a few years ago, I deeply admired the professionalism and military excellence of both nations, which participated with NATO in many global operations. The Russians are deeply concerned about the possibility of Sweden and Finland considering NATO membership, and their involvement in Trident Juncture will stoke those fears in Moscow. All of this means tension and the possibility of miscalculation. We should pay particular attention to four key elements of these very serious games.

First, we need to recognize that there are internal messages working here on both sides. In the Russian case (and especially from the perspective of President Vladimir Putin), the games signal the high capability and professionalism of the nation’s troops. This builds on the patriotic pride that was created by the invasion of Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, and is a signal to the general population that their military is more than capable of holding on to those gains. As for NATO, the message is similar, and directed toward the front-line states that border Russia — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Norway — and NATO partners Finland and Sweden. In the West, the message is one of capability and credibility — a willingness to fight if necessary.

Second, the role of China is nuanced. The Russian games were originally conceived as a deterrent not to NATO, but to China. Let’s face it: China, with its vastly larger population and need for economic growth, looks at the vast, natural-resource-rich tracts of Siberia the way a dog looks at a rib-eye steak. Yet a growing nationalism on the part of President Xi Jinping and unease over the Donald Trump administration’s hawkish policies on trade has China looking to develop a stronger relationship with Moscow. And Russia, frustrated with the antipathy of the U.S. (driven these days not by the White House but by Congress) is willing to draw nearer to China. While the longer-term relationship is fraught, it is a partnership (and a war game) of convenience at the moment.

Third, there is real military improvement that stems from such exercises. Pushing the European allies and Canada to deploy troops allows an increase in military interoperability on many fronts: technical synchronization of radio communications; alignment of targeting from different nations’ aircraft (a significant challenge in the NATO Libyan operation, for example); highly complex anti-submarine warfare operations; and multi-unit infantry and armor maneuver. All of these are challenging, and practice will make both sides much closer to perfect…

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

Contents

   

CANADA’S FIGHTER JET DEBACLE: THIS IS NO WAY TO RUN A MILITARY

David Krayden

National Post, Oct. 3, 2018

Last week the United States Marine Corps flew the F-35 joint strike fighter into combat for the first time. That same day, one of the fighters also set a first: crashing in South Carolina — fortunately without the loss of life. As military aviators would remark, crap happens (or words to that effect). The state-of-the-art fighter jet first flew as a prototype in 2006 and has been flying with the United States Air Force since 2011. The Royal Air Force in the U.K. also uses the F-35. And just this year, in a moment of sheer historical irony, the Royal Australian Air Force took delivery of its first F-35s.

Why irony? Because just as Australia was welcoming its new jets to its defence inventory, Canada was at the doorstep begging for Australia’s used F-18s. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan had come calling because politics had again intervened in Canada’s storied but sorry defence procurement planning. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, not knowing what to do with the obsolescent CF-18s — ordered by his father in the late 1970s for a 1982 delivery — had been musing about buying some Super Hornets from Boeing but had decided not to in a peevish fit of trade retaliation.

Of course the Super Hornets were only a “stop-gap” measure anyway, as both Trudeau and Sajjan emphasized. The contract to replace the entire fleet of aging CF-18s would be delayed again because Trudeau did not want to buy the previous Conservative government’s fighter replacement choice: the F-35. But there’s an additional irony here. The F-35 was not just the choice of the Harper government. It was initially selected by the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien. The primary reason: interoperability with our primary allies. The U.S., U.K. and Australia would all be buying the F-35 so it just made sense.

I was working at the House of Commons at the time for the Official Opposition defence critic, who thought the decision to participate in the development, and eventually, the procurement of the F-35, was a refreshing but rare moment of common-sense, non-political defence planning on the part of the government.

It seemed the Liberals really didn’t want a repeat of the fiasco that surrounded the EH-101 helicopter, the maritime patrol and search and rescue helicopter that the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney had selected after an assiduous military assessment. The chopper was dubbed a “Cadillac” by Chrétien in 1993 and quickly cancelled when he won the election. This cost Canada millions in cancellation fees for backing out of the project, and then the Liberals ultimately purchased the same aircraft for search and rescue — now rebranded as “Cormorants.” They remain in service today.

This kind of debacle couldn’t be allowed to happen again with the F-35. But it did. And it is. And it seems it always has. In many NATO countries, national defence is a bipartisan or nonpartisan issue. Any cursory examination of Australian and British defence policy over the past five decades will reveal that no matter the party in power — ie: Liberal/Conservative or Labour — defence policy remains constant. Of course the defence departments are subordinate to the government of the day, but those governments don’t use defence as a political tool to punish the opposition.

In Canada, the Liberals and Conservatives work together as well — but often in the worst interests of Canadian Armed Forces. The F-35, again, illustrates that point. The previous Conservative government of Stephen Harper pointedly supported the acquisition of the F-35, but dithered over three terms because Harper thought the expenditure might erode his voter support.

Ironically, it was NDP leader Thomas Mulcair who was the most vocal proponent of the F-35 during the marathon 2015 federal election campaign. Had Harper been re-elected, I don’t believe the Royal Canadian Air Force would be looking at new fighter jets to fly or even the contract to manufacture them. But he wasn’t re-elected. Justin Trudeau is the prime minister, and our next generation of fighter aircraft is still nowhere in sight. The entire fleet of CF-18s is approaching absolute retirement age and that won’t be changed by the absurd plan to buy Australia’s used aircraft while our allies take delivery of planes that Canada was — in a fit of judicious, nonpartisan planning — eyeing decades ago. It really is no way to run a military, but there’s no end in sight.

 

Contents 

On Topic Links

Israel’s All-Terrain EZRaiders Latest Law Enforcement Rage: David Israel, Jewish Press, Sept. 21, 2018—The EZRaider is presented by its maker, Israeli startup company DSRaider, as a breakthrough vehicle in a new category all by itself in all-terrain riding, allowing the user complete control with minimum training.

What Will the Next Israel-Hezbollah War Look Like?: Ehud Eilam, Israel Defense, Oct. 7, 2018—Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy and a non-state organization based in Lebanon, had fought the IDF in the 1980s and mostly in the 1990s when the Israeli military was deployed in Lebanon. In 2006, the two sides clashed again, for 34 days, a war that ended in a kind of a tie. They might fight again because of escalation or if Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, following an Iranian attempt to produce a nuclear weapon.

A Tale of A Lone Soldier: Ariel Rudolph, Jerusalem Online, Sept. 14, 2018—M. was born in Israel but after her parents divorced, when she was six years old, her mother left Israel and M. grew up in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. She completely identified with her Israeli roots and maintained contact with her Israeli peers, visited Israel occasionally and associated with the Jewish community in England.

Two Junk Submarines, and Our Long Tradition of Terrible Military Procurements: Nima Karimi, National Post, Oct. 3, 2018—It was recently discovered that Canada (apparently Transport Canada) has expressed interest in purchasing a surveillance drone from Germany. This, however, as David Pugliese reports, is no ordinary drone: not only is it second-hand, it is also severely gutted, “without many core components it needs to fly.”

 

Book Launch: No One Bears Witness for the Witness: Memoir by Baruch Cohen

Book Launch for Baruch Cohen’s Memoir: No One Bears Witness for the Witness.

In this Memoir, No One Bears Witness to the Witness, Baruch Cohen, now 96 years old, recounts his life story, born in Romania, surviving the atrocities of the Holocaust, immigrating to Israel and then to Canada, raising a family, and working tirelessly to promote understanding of Israel and Jews, and to share the history of Jews in Romania during WWII, which had been scantily reported and was largely unknown. Since his retirement, for the last 40 years he has worked as a partner with Fred Krantz, directing and supporting the work of CIJR, – Canadian Institute for Jewish Research – in Montreal, coming to the office five days a week throughout this time.

Click the following link to view the video:

https://vimeo.com/267691422

ISRAEL IS THE “VANGUARD OF FREEDOM” IN CHAOTIC MIDDLE EAST

Jihadism, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the “Frontier States”: Dr. Spyridon N. Litsas, BESA, Oct. 8, 2018— Many analysts, in their eagerness to trace the origins of the radicalization of Islam, look to the rise of the theocratic Shiite regime in Iran in 1979 as the starting point.

The Logic Behind Iranian Moves in the Middle East: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 5, 2018— The effort by the US and its allies to contain and ultimately roll back the gains made by Iran in the region over the last half decade is currently taking shape, and is set to form the central strategic process in the Middle East in the period now opening up.

Who is Fighting Iran’s Expansion? Who is Stopping ISIS?: Giulio Meotti, Arutz Sheva, Oct. 15, 2018— The effort by the US and its allies to contain and ultimately roll back the gains made by Iran in the region over the last half decade is currently taking shape, and is set to form the central strategic process in the Middle East in the period now opening up…

Middle Eastern Interventions in Africa: Tehran’s Extensive Soft Power: Hassan Dai, Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2018 — Since its establishment in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has made enormous efforts to export its revolution around the world.

On Topic Links

Peace, Equality, Plurality – Just Not in the Middle East (Video): Jewish Press, Oct. 22, 2018

Iran Strike’s Message to Region: “Borders Don’t Matter”: Seth Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 01, 2018

The Next War in the Middle East: Vivian Bercovici, Commentary, Oct. 5, 2018

There’s a War Going on out There: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Sept. 6, 2018

 

                             JIHADISM, THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN,

                                        AND THE “FRONTIER STATES”                                                                           Dr. Spyridon N. Litsas

BESA, Oct. 8, 2018

Many analysts, in their eagerness to trace the origins of the radicalization of Islam, look to the rise of the theocratic Shiite regime in Iran in 1979 as the starting point. Others focus on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, or the predominantly Muslim region of Bosnia Herzegovina during the Yugoslav civil war. Still others who are more theoretically inclined go back to the first decades of the 20th century to examine the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology, a blended creed that accommodates both a profound anti-colonial stance and a pronounced Salafism. Some go back to the 18th century’s austere enactments of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, or even further back to the reactionary utterances of Ibn Taymiyyah in the second half of the 13th century and the first half of the 14th.

None of these approaches is wrong, but they all disregard a basic feature of Islam that has accompanied it since its early days. Islam is a religion based on oxymorons. This can be clearly seen in the matter of violence and its relationship with religious practice. Jihad, the great issue relating to the use of violence within the context of Islamic religious practice, does not exist in a theoretical vacuum but has a direct link with all four fundamental schools of Islamic jurisprudence: the Hanafi, the Maliki, the Shafi’i, and the Hanbali. According to all four, the world is divided into two spheres: Dar al-Islam (the House of Islam), where the faith has established itself; and Dar al-Harb (the House of War), where it is incumbent on Muslims to fight non-believers in order to establish the rule of Islam. As the prophet Muhammad famously asserted in his farewell address: “I was ordered to fight all men until they say, ‘There is no god but Allah.’”

It can be argued that Islam is not a religion of violence but rather a religion that understands its utility for the promotion of its revolutionary essence according to Martin Wight’s international theory. This conceptual utility of violence, which lies deep in the doctrinal core of Islam, is the driving force behind its continual radicalization. Islam, especially its majority Sunni branch, has never ceased to turn to radicalism every time it seems necessary.

But if radicalization is not new to Islam, what is different about today? Why do jihadist groups seem not only exceptionally powerful but also so resourceful at finding new means of spreading terror and death among their enemies?

The main difference between the past and the present regarding the radicalization process within Islam is technology – specifically, the existence of the internet. Images of terror and indirect methods of primitive psychological warfare, mainly targeting western societies, can be easily viewed in western homes. The 21st century is not the era of Islamic radicalization but the era during which jihadist Islam acquired the ability to promote and broadcast its messages of primitive hate and raw nihilism to millions.

The highly advanced technological means available to jihadist Islam offer it the opportunity to make contact with even wider audiences through the “dark web.” This further boosts the number of people who can be reached. Technology is changing everything in the War on Terror. This is the first time in human history that the global community of Muslims, the umma, has taken on a specific form and shape in the digital dimension. This represents a threat maximizer because jihadist groups now have numerous channels of communication through which they can organize actions and recruit members.

In J.J. Grygiel and A. Wess Mitchell’s latest work on US foreign policy, they show that it is necessary for Washington to form a new grand strategy that gives greater importance to its frontier state allies. Israel is on this list due to its key role in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. Another pivotal state, Greece, is not included. This is an oversight, as Greece is essential to efficiently tackling jihadist Islam today. The strong ties between Athens, Jerusalem, and Nicosia go well beyond the promotion of open communication links in the field of energy. The strategic triangle, and especially the close cooperation between Athens and Jerusalem, can help the rest of the western world obstruct jihadists as they attempt to target western states.

How do Athens and Jerusalem help in this regard? By establishing a network of flow control of refugees now that Turkey seems unable and unwilling to do so. Jihadists make use of the continuous flow of refugees into Greece through the Aegean corridor in order to gain access to the West; By putting preemptive military operations into action from Greek, Israeli, and Cypriot ground against human smugglers acting in the Eastern Mediterranean. Greek military naval capacity combined with the Israeli military air force can transform the Eastern Mediterranean into a region relatively immune to external jihadist action; Israel is a tech leader while Greece has a large soft power capacity. This combination can lead to the creation of a political narrative that can counter the power formula of jihadist Islam in the Eastern Mediterranean.

For all of these to be implemented and to influence developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, and southeastern Europe, the US will have to maintain its open support of Israel. The decision by the White House to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem was a political gesture of great importance in this direction. So too should Washington attribute the status of frontier state to Greece.

The radicalization of Islam will continue as a new generation of Takfirism, a hybrid form of nihilism and ultra-religious fanaticism, is growing in Libya, Syria, and the Sahel. The strategic importance of Israel and Greece as the last frontiers before the stormy Muslim archipelago – considering as well the Russian and Chinese poles of influence – reveals the embryonic capabilities the two states possess as the two major western actors in the region.

The world is changing fast, with numerous state and non-state actors openly challenging the post-WWII sociopolitical and economic system. A fundamental strategic restructuring of the western world is greatly important during this period. The Eastern Mediterranean, with its upgraded geostrategic value, will be a key venue for both challenges and opportunities in the decades to come.

Greece and Israel both have important roles to play as western frontier states. The coming period will be characterized by challenges all along the periphery lines between the western and the Muslim worlds. This will not be a confirmation of the Clash of Civilizations of S.P. Huntington, because jihadist groups target Muslim states as well, but a recognition that a new era has arrived with frontier states having more responsibilities to strengthen collective security than before.

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          THE LOGIC BEHIND IRANIAN MOVES IN THE MIDDLE EAST                                                            Jonathan Spyer                                                                                                                            Jerusalem Post, Oct. 5, 2018

The effort by the US and its allies to contain and ultimately roll back the gains made by Iran in the region over the last half decade is currently taking shape, and is set to form the central strategic process in the Middle East in the period now opening up.

New sanctions on the export of Iranian oil are due to be implemented from November 4. Israel’s campaign against Iranian entrenchment in Syria is the most important current file on the table of the defense establishment. The US appears set now to maintain its assets and its allies in Syria as part of the emergent strategy to counter Iran. In Iraq, the contest between Iran-associated forces and those associated with the US is the core dynamic in the country, with the independent power on the ground of the Iran-associated Shia militias the central factor. In Yemen, the battle of attrition between the Iran-supported Ansar Allah (Houthis) and the Saudi and UAE-led coalition is continuing, with limited but significant gains by the latter.

Iran’s response is also becoming clear. At the present time, Tehran’s ballistic missile capabilities appear to be the preferred instrument for Tehran to express its defiance. Notably, for the moment at least, Iran appears to be erring on the side of caution in its choice of targets. This phase is unlikely to last, however, assuming the US is serious in its intentions. In the early hours of Monday, October 1, the Fars News Agency, associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, reported that the IRGC had fired a number of Zulfiqar and Qiyam ballistic missiles at targets east of the Euphrates River in Syria. The strike came in response to an attack on an IRGC parade in Iran’s Arab-majority Khuzestan province on September 22.

According to Fars, the missiles fired were decorated with slogans including “Death to America,” “Death to Israel,” and “Death to Al Saud.”

It is noteworthy, however, that the missiles were not directed at any of the aforementioned enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Rather, the IRGC targeted the Hajin pocket, a small enclave east of the Euphrates still held by Islamic State. This was in response to a claim of responsibility by ISIS for the September 22 attack. (A somewhat more credible claim was made by the Ahwaziya, or Ahvaz national resistance, an Arab separatist group in Khuzestan.) Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani later tried to frame the attack as a response to American threats, because of the close proximity of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces to the area targeted.

Similarly, on September 8, the IRGC fired seven Fateh-110 short-range missiles at a base maintained by the PDKI (Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan) in the city of Koya in eastern Iraq. The PDKI is engaged in an insurgency against the IRGC and the Iranian regime, centered on the Kurdistan Province of western Iran. Eleven people were killed in the attack. In both these cases, Tehran chose to make its demonstrations of strength against the very weakest of the forces opposed to it (in the case of Islamic State, a force indeed mainly engaged against the enemies of Iran). Shamkhani’s bluster after the fact tends to draw attention to this, rather than detract from it.

By contrast, when Iran wishes to act against or threaten the interests of any of the powerful states whose names were written on the missiles fired at ISIS in Hajin, it takes care to do so in ways that avoid attribution. Thus, the Lebanese Hezbollah organization, in military terms a direct tributary of the IRGC, is the force entrusted with the missile array facing Israel.

When ballistic missiles are fired at Riyadh from Yemen, the act is claimed by the Houthis, and the missiles are identified as “Burkan 1” and “Burkan 2” missiles, developed in Yemen. These missiles are considered by the US State Department and senior US officers to be Iranian in origin, possibly the Qiam 1 or Shihab 2 system with minor modifications. Certainly, the Houthis, a lightly armed north Yemeni tribal militia, did not acquire the knowledge required to operate ballistic missiles locally. There is evidence to suggest that Lebanese Hezbollah operatives are engaged by Iran in Yemen to carry out these launches.

In Iraq, according to a Reuters report in August, the IRGC has begun to transfer ballistic missiles to its militia proxies in that country, presumably with the intention of using these against Israeli or US personnel. So Iran acts through deniable proxies in its wars against powerful states, but acts directly only against small and marginal non-state paramilitary groups. The purpose, of course, is to enable the Iranian state to avoid retribution, while gaining benefit from the acts of the militias.

THIS PRACTICE has proven effective in recent years, though it projects weakness as much as strength. It is of use only for as long as Iran’s enemies are willing to participate in the fiction of separation between the IRGC and its client militias. At a certain point, if the US and its allies are serious about rolling back Iran from its regional gains, the question will arise as to whether success in this endeavor can coexist with the tacit agreement to maintain this fiction.

In Israel’s case, the decision to cease adherence to this convention was taken earlier this year, when Israeli aircraft began openly targeting Iranian facilities in Syria. For the US, such a decision is likely to emerge, if it emerges, as a result of the dynamics set in motion by the decision to challenge Iran’s advances…

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

 

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WHO IS FIGHTING IRAN’S EXPANSION? WHO IS STOPPING ISIS?                                                     Giulio Meotti

                                                Arutz Sheva, Oct. 15, 2018

Over the weekend, in front of 140 journalists from 40 countries, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a great speech: “Who is fighting the Iranian takeover of Syria? Israel is doing it. Who is fighting ISIS? In the last three years, Israel stopped 40 terror attacks by ISIS world wide. Israel is the vanguard of freedom in the heart of the Middle East. Without Israel, radical Islam would have overrun the Middle East. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian community thrives and grows”.

Netanyahu said the most explosive truths about Israel in its relations with the civilized world.  Only Israel today is able to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, in the Middle East (twice Israel bombed and stopped an Arab-Islamic atomic bomb). Only Israel is able to combat radical Islamic ideology.

Israel belongs to a small group of countries – the United States, the UK and Canada among them – that have never suffered intervals of non-democratic regimes. Only Israel is able to promote the capitalistic economic development of the region. Only Israel is able to expand the values of the West in the region, competing with those of radical Islam. Israel is one of only two Western democracies that constantly face an adverse environment since its creation (the other one is South Korea). Israel is older than more than half of the democracies and belongs to a small group of countries – the United States, the UK and Canada among them – that have never suffered intervals of non-democratic regimes. France has been less democratic than Israel, to mention one country.

If Israel were to disappear, Iran would extend its totalitarian hegemony throughout the entire Middle East to the Mediterranean and would humiliate the West by reducing and controlling oil production. If the Islamist groups like ISIS have not yet been able to seize the power in Jordan by toppling the Hashemite Kingdom, it is only thanks to the presence of the Israeli army at the border. If Israel were to succumb, the whole world and Western civilization would fall into chaos (who will prevent the fall of Sinai to Jihadists?). A Jihadist takeover of Jerusalem would give to the Islamists a victory like the fall of Christian Constantinople in 1453. If Israel were to succumb, Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia would all fall to the Jihadists or the Iranian ayatollahs.

We have been close to this destabilization in recent years, with the taking of power by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and deaths and chaos in its streets, the killing of the American ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya, the rise of Isis in the Mediterranean coasts, the Syrian civil war, the birth of Al Qaeda in the Maghreb, the construction of an Islamic State over a third of the Iraqi territory. Israel is the only Western buffer against an Islamist tsunami that would overrun Europe. The West should think of Israel not only as the Jewish State or in terms of the failed “peace process” in the Middle East, but as a Western outpost under siege. If Israel falls it is as if Vienna had fallen in 1683, when the Muslims were rejected at its doors and Europe was saved. The philosopher Leo Strauss called Israel “the only outpost of the West in the East”.

Unfortunately, the West, by undermining Israel, has become more vulnerable, it has not understood that that small Jewish state is an indispensable part of the West, that the millions of Israeli Jews who persist in inhabiting this world despite the Holocaust and the wars are the personification of the best values of our civilization.                                                      Contents

   

MIDDLE EASTERN INTERVENTIONS IN AFRICA:

TEHRAN’S EXTENSIVE SOFT POWER

Hassan Dai

Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2018

Since its establishment in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has made enormous efforts to export its revolution around the world. Iranian diplomats, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and subordinate organs have spread Shiite doctrine and engaged in direct subversion, terrorism, and organized crime such as drug smuggling.

Dai-al-Quds.jpg Iran-sponsored al-Quds Day rally in Yola, Nigeria, 2017. Iran’s Al-Mustafa International University is responsible for exporting Tehran’s revolutionary ideology. The university’s goal is to spread anti-American ideology and to “liberate Palestine” and “eradicate Israel.” Yet while Tehran’s exertions in the Middle East, Central Asia, and even Latin America have received widespread international exposure, Iranian efforts in Africa have attracted scant attention though the Islamist regime has invested substantial resources to expand its soft power and influence across the continent. So much so that it is arguable that Tehran is reshaping African Islam and the continent’s politics.

While Iran’s primary target for the export of its revolution has been the Middle East, Africa has also been seen as a strategically important region for several reasons. Nearly 45 percent of the continent’s 1.2 billion persons are Muslim, and Tehran recognizes that the lack of influence there presents a serious handicap to its quest to dominate the Islamic world. Gaining popular support within the Muslim communities could also influence the policies of African governments toward Iran. Furthermore, Africa’s Shiite communities have been a source of financial support for Tehran’s Hezbollah proxy in Lebanon. At the same time, a strong presence on the continent provides Iran with a network and routes for logistical support to radical groups in the Middle East.

To win the hearts and minds of African Muslims, the Iranian regime and its institutions organize conferences, conduct religious and political events, work with local partners, and run more than one hundred Islamic centers, schools, seminaries, and mosques in more than thirty African countries with thousands of students, clerics and missionaries. In addition, Tehran has offered financial and economic incentives to African governments and used two of its charities, the Iranian Red Crescent and the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee, to provide a wide range of free social and health services in several African countries.

The two main organizations spearheading this quest for soft power are the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization, which operates through cultural attachés at Iranian embassies, and the Al-Mustafa International University, which trains foreign clerics and missionaries around the world. These and other organizations disseminate Tehran’s fundamentalist ideology and generate grassroots support for its foreign policy, its position in the Islamic world, and its quest to dominate the Middle East. They also provide the regime with a recruiting pool for the IRGC’s Quds Force and other Iranian institutions responsible for terrorism or military activities abroad.

Indeed, over the last several years, various African governments have arrested Iranian terrorist suspects, dismantled pro-Tehran networks, and seized Iranian weapons shipments to radical groups in the Middle East. In February 2018, for instance, two Lebanese citizens were arrested in South Africa and charged with illegally buying digital components used in drones and sending them to Hezbollah…

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

 

Contents 

On Topic Links

Peace, Equality, Plurality – Just Not in the Middle East (Video): Jewish Press, Oct. 22, 2018

Iran Strike’s Message to Region: “Borders Don’t Matter”: Seth Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 01, 2018—On September 22, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired six ballistic missiles at areas in Syria “east of the Euphrates” in retaliation for an attack on them in Ahvaz.

The Next War in the Middle East: Vivian Bercovici, Commentary, Oct. 5, 2018—Everyone says they don’t want war, but the fourth armed conflict since 2006 between Hamas and Israel may be imminent.

There’s a War Going on out There: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Sept. 6, 2018—Wars are raging in various parts of the Middle East, although there is a tendency not to call the conflicts by that name because of the fear conjured up by the word.

IRAQ AT “CROSSROADS” AFTER DEFEAT OF I.S., KURDISH INDEPENDENCE VOTE, & IRAN’S INCREASING ENTRENCHMENT

Iraq Has A New Government. Now What?: Seth Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 04, 2018— The country has faced uncertainty and protests since elections in May. In September, a Sunni Arab Speaker of Parliament was finally chosen.

Murders of Four Trailblazing Iraqi Women Spark Fear of Traditionalist Backlash: Ammar Karim, Times of Israel, Oct. 2, 2018— Over the last few weeks, four go-getting Iraqi women have separately met premature deaths — two falling victim to men firing automatic weapons into their vehicles.

Despite Independence Referendum, Kurds Lack Clout, International Backing to Carve Out Own State: Carlo Muñoz, Washington Times, Oct. 3, 2018— President Trump caused a stir across the Middle East last week with his lavish praise for the Kurds’ role in defeating Islamic State in Iraq and Syria…

Kurds Remain First in Iran’s Firing Line: Ben Cohen, JNS, Sept.14, 2018— Iran’s regime is defying the newly found U.S. resolve to counter its malign influence with whatever means it has at its disposal.

On Topic Links

Iraq’s New Leaders Seen as Technocrats, in a Break From Sectarian Politics: Ben Hubbard and Falih Hassan, New York Times, Oct. 2, 2018

Assassination of Iraq’s Feminists: Beauty Queen Flees to Jordan After Threat, String of Deaths: National Post, Oct. 9, 2018

A Strong Kurdistan Region is Good for US in Iraq: Seth J. Frantzman, The Hill, Oct. 16, 2018

It is Time for the U.S. to Help Liberate the Kurds: Qanta Ahmed, Jerusalem Post, October 3, 2018

 

                              IRAQ HAS A NEW GOVERNMENT. NOW WHAT?                                                                                     Seth Frantzman

Jerusalem Post, Oct. 04, 2018

 

The country has faced uncertainty and protests since elections in May. In September, a Sunni Arab Speaker of Parliament was finally chosen. On Tuesday, Barham Salih, a Kurdish member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Party, was selected to become the new president. Now Adel Abdul Mahdi will likely become the next prime minister as he seeks to shore up a coalition.

Abdul Mahdi has a difficult task ahead of him. In Iraq, the prime minister holds the most important and powerful post. The presidency, held by Kurdish leaders since the creation of a new constitution after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, is largely ceremonial.

However, many Iraqis celebrated the appointment of Salih, who previously served as deputy-prime minister and was a prime minister of the autonomous Kurdistan Region from 2009-2012. Salih was chosen after the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and PUK struggled to settle on a single Kurdish choice for the presidency. His election has been positively received in Washington, from where anti-ISIS envoy Brett McGurk tweeted congratulations. Salih is seen as being close to the UK and US.

Iraq is at a crossroads. Having liberated most of the country from ISIS last year, it is now in the midst of US-Iran tensions. The Kurdistan region in northern Iraq voted for independence last year. But Baghdad, under former prime minister Haider al-Abadi, sent tanks into Kirkuk to push the Kurds out and closed airports in the north to punish the autonomous region.

Meanwhile, Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias have continued their entrenchment in the country in 2018. In May, Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shi’ite cleric who was once anti-American but has become increasingly nationalist and hostile to Iran, polled first in the elections, ahead of second-place Hadi al-Amiri, head of one of the largest militias. Abadi, who Washington hoped would be a strongman savior of Iraq, came in third.

Now Abadi has congratulated Abdul Mahdi and appears willing to go quietly into the shadows. He graciously exited with a tweet, wishing the new prime minister “success in shaping and choosing who best to fill the government.”

Abdul Mahdi is seen as a pragmatist who will focus on the country’s economy. Since May, massive protests fueled by anger at failed infrastructure and polluted water, have swept southern Iraq. These protests have become increasingly anti-Iranian. Abdul Mahdi will be called upon to thread the needle between Iran’s interests, Washington’s and Iraq’s new connections to Saudi Arabia, and a multiplicity of other problems. For instance, Turkish troops are stationed in northern Iraq fighting the Kurdistan Workers Party, and last month Iran fired ballistic missiles at Kurdish groups in northern Iraq.

Iran has also fired missiles over Iraq at Syria, apparently without informing Iraqi authorities. This makes Baghdad feel that Iraq lacks basic sovereignty. Supporters of Abdul Mahdi see him as less ideological than other candidates for the job. He was once a secular communist, but later become a supporter of Iran’s Islamic revolution.

What does this mean for Iraq in general? Can Abdul Mahdi manage the security forces and rein in the militias? Can he bring in the donors to support rebuilding Mosul and other former ISIS-held cities? Can he use the security forces, who have suffered attrition over the years, to defeat a new ISIS insurgency? Iraq faces major hurdles. For the moment many are hopeful that the new president and his team can help heal wounds and bring the country some momentary peace after decades of conflict.

 

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                        MURDERS OF FOUR TRAILBLAZING IRAQI WOMEN

                    SPARK FEAR OF TRADITIONALIST BACKLASH

                                                         Ammar Karim                                                                                                                                Times of Israel, Oct. 2, 2018

Over the last few weeks, four go-getting Iraqi women have separately met premature deaths — two falling victim to men firing automatic weapons into their vehicles. The deaths have sparked fear among women who dare to break the mold and visibly achieve in the conservative country.

The latest to die was 22-year-old social media influencer and model Tara Fares. Her bloody demise at the wheel of a white Porsche convertible in Baghdad on Thursday has sparked as much debate as her racy photos. Fares had built an Instagram following of 2.7 million people thanks to edgy fashion shoots, assertive missives, and eye-catching, colorful hairstyles. She also posted publicly about a violent ex-husband and a fiance who died after being attacked in Istanbul.

But while Fares’ fearless embrace of social media inspired many young Iraqis, it upset traditionalists. Fares was the target of a deluge of online insults over her perceived lack of modesty, in a society where many adhere to hardline interpretations of Islam. It was this darker side of online platforms that forced the outspoken Fares to quit living in her native Baghdad and spend much of her time in comparatively liberal, secular Iraqi Kurdistan.

Fares is not the only Iraqi fashion and beauty entrepreneur to have met her death in recent weeks. In August, the managers of Baghdad’s two most high-profile aesthetic and plastic surgery centers died in mysterious circumstances. The first was Rafif al-Yassiri, whose nickname was Barbie — the same name as her business venture. A week later Rasha al-Hassan, founder of the Viola Beauty Center, was also found dead. Both were found at their homes, and despite ongoing investigations, the causes of their deaths remain undetermined.

But the rumor mill has churned up plenty of theories: Drugs, heart attacks, and murder. On Tuesday this week, two days before Fares was shot dead, came the first officially confirmed murder among the spate of suspicious deaths. In circumstances that foreshadowed the social media star’s assassination, activist and businesswoman Soad al-Ali was shot several times while travelling in a car in the southern city of Basra. Police opened an investigation and pointed the finger at her ex-husband, who is on the run.

While motivations for the two confirmed murders are far from officially established, women’s rights group Amal is deeply concerned. “Armed groups, tribes, criminal gangs… all these control positions” within the state and security forces, Hanae Edwar told AFP at the NGO’s Baghdad office. The recent assassinations are “threatening messages sent to activists in particular, but also to the whole of society,” she said. “Attacking women who are public figures is a bid to force them to shut themselves away at home,” Edwar added.

The authorities have tried to distance themselves from the deaths and provide reassurance. But Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi appeared to draw a link between the events in Baghdad and Basra, ordering elite intelligence units to investigate.

In a statement, Abadi cited “evidence suggesting that there is a plan formulated by organized parties to undermine security under the pretext of fighting against depravity.” Safaa Nasser, a stylist speaking under an assumed name who until recently organised fashion shows, said she had already changed her behavior. “The last few days, my daughters and I go out less and I stay away from the fashion world,” she said. “There are people who don’t want Iraq to develop, or for women to be visible. They want to take us backwards.”

She urged security forces to investigate the deaths, saying an “organized network” was behind the “premeditated” actions. “The women I know are saying that their turn will come” to be targeted,” she said. Chillingly, Fares, Yassiri, and Hassan all died on Thursdays. “Every time, this repeats itself,” said 29-year-old Hawa Walid, shopping in Baghdad. “Now, every Thursday, the stress rises.”

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DESPITE INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM, KURDS LACK CLOUT, INTERNATIONAL BACKING TO CARVE OUT OWN STATE

                                                          Carlo Muñoz

                                                Washington Times, Oct. 3, 2018

 

President Trump caused a stir across the Middle East last week with his lavish praise for the Kurds’ role in defeating Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but just over a year after Iraqi Kurdistan’s ill-fated independence referendum, the Kurds remain even further from statehood in Iraq while the situation for their ethnic counterparts across the region continues to falter.

At a press conference during his week of diplomacy at the U.N. General Assembly last week, Mr. Trump praised Iraq’s Kurds for the prominent role they played in ousting the Islamic State from the country’s north. He pledged Washington’s support for Iraqi Kurdistan as Baghdad cobbles together a unity government. “We do get along great with the Kurds. We’re trying to help them a lot. Don’t forget, that’s their territory. We have to help them,” Mr. Trump said in response to a question from a Kurdish reporter. “I want to help them.”

But the president’s gratitude is running up against the realities of the Middle East, where the Kurds form a significant minority in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey but lack the clout and international backing to carve out a state of their own — despite their outsized contribution to the U.S.-led war on terror groups in the region.

Officials from the U.S.-led coalition battling Islamic State said Tuesday that top commanders are in regular contact with their government counterparts in Iraqi Kurdistan and military partners in the Kurdish militia known as the peshmerga. “We’re in contact with them almost daily … and told them that we’re here to support [them], and that’s what we plan on doing,” Col. Sean Ryan, coalition spokesman, told reporters at the Pentagon in a briefing from Baghdad.

U.S. and allied commanders battling Islamic State have repeatedly included their Kurdish counterparts in large-scale operations designed to prevent the terrorist group from re-emerging in northern Iraq, Col. Ryan said. U.S. military advisers are also looking to strengthen ties between the peshmerga and Iraqi Security Forces and working to create a joint command center to integrate and streamline counterterrorism and security operations by both forces, he said.

But the Sept. 25, 2017, Kurdish referendum in support of greater autonomy appears to have backfired by failing to get support from Baghdad and resulting in a leadership shake-up among the Kurds. Support for independence was overwhelming — 93 percent — which only seems to galvanize other forces in Iraq and the region to resist the independence demand.

The State Department and Pentagon have been focused in recent months far more on the political maneuvering over the formation of a new Iraqi government, with Kurdish priorities largely sidelined. The wrangling after May’s national elections appears to have ended this week with the formation of a ruling coalition, a compromise prime minister and the naming of longtime moderate Kurdish politician Barham Salih to the largely ceremonial post of president — traditionally reserved for a Kurd in Iraqi political practice. “With the government still not formed, things are just taking time right now [in Iraqi Kurdistan] because that’s the No. 1 priority,” Col. Ryan said as a coalition deal was coming together this week.

But Kurds complain that Trump administration promises of political and especially military support to Iraqi Kurdistan have fallen flat in the year after Irbil’s fateful decision to press for independence. The effort is unlikely to gain further momentum despite Mr. Trump’s rhetoric last week. “Most people who have worked on U.S. foreign policy would argue that a strong American relationship with the KRG should be an essential pillar of U.S. strategy toward Iraq and the broader Middle East,” said John Hannah, a specialist in Middle East affairs who served as a security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.

“I think that the narrow focus on defeating ISIS, as well as a lack of bandwidth, limited the [Trump] administration’s ability to think strategically about Iraq’s future in ways that came back to bite us,” particularly in the case of Iraq’s Kurds, said Mr. Hannah, now a senior counselor at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. As a result, “the dream of an independent Iraqi Kurdistan has been put on hold indefinitely,” he said.

It’s a far cry from the scene just a year ago, when the streets of Irbil were filled with Iraqi Kurds reveling in the historic independence referendum. Many saw the vote as the precursor to an eventual autonomous Kurdish state. But those hopes were quickly dashed by a swift and heavy-handed response from then-Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a close ally of Washington who deployed government forces to secure control over key areas within Iraqi Kurdistan. Iraqi government forces and Shiite paramilitary units trained and equipped by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps rapidly recaptured critical territories in northern Iraq’s Kirkuk and Sinjar governorates in the weeks after the referendum.

“The referendum was not worth doing because we lost Kirkuk,” Kayfi Adil, an Irbil taxi driver, told the Agence France-Presse news agency last month. “I believe it was not a good idea to hold the referendum because we did not benefit from it.” In the end, KRG President Masoud Barzani was forced to abandon the push for independence and Kurdish leaders in Irbil found themselves fighting for political relevance among Baghdad’s Shiite and Sunni power brokers. “This has been the Kurdish Regional Government’s annus horribilis,” Mr. Hannah said, adding that Iraqi Kurdish leaders badly miscalculated U.S. support for their cause…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

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KURDS REMAIN FIRST IN IRAN’S FIRING LINE

Ben Cohen

JNS, Sept.14, 2018

Iran’s regime is defying the newly found U.S. resolve to counter its malign influence with whatever means it has at its disposal. On Sept. 8, seven missiles were launched against the headquarters of an Iranian Kurdish rebel group in Koysinjaq, close to the border with Iraq, claiming the lives of at least 15 people—a death toll that the mullahs in Tehran found most satisfying.

The attack on the Kurds was carefully designed to send the region a message. “With a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles), our missiles endow the Iranian nation with a unique ability to fight against arrogant foreign powers,” Maj.-Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), told the semi-official ISNA news agency.

“All those that have forces, bases and equipment within a 2,000-kilometer radius of Iran’s sacred borders should know that (our) missiles are highly accurate,” Jafari continued pointedly. (Tel Aviv, of course, lies 1,900 kilometers to the west of Tehran.) “Our recent vengeance upon terrorists,” he went on, using the official regime term for Iranian Kurds seeking autonomy, “had a very clear message for enemies, especially superpowers who think they can bully us.”

The message is that Iran is not afraid to resort to military force, either through its ongoing ballistic-missile program or through interventions on the ground carried out by Iran’s own forces or their local proxies. As the missile attack on the Kurds demonstrated, that is not idle talk.

It is the Kurds, in fact, whose experiences over the last year are the best—and therefore, the grimmest—evidence of what happens when Iran occupies your territory. The latest ordeal facing this nation of 25 million—by far the largest stateless nation in the Middle East, but receiving only a fraction of the media coverage enjoyed by the 5 million Palestinians—was conceived in Tehran after the independence referendum of September 2017 in the Kurdish region of Iraq. That vote resulted in a 93 percent majority favoring independence, but what should have been a cause for celebration for their Kurds and their allies ended up as a disaster.

Many countries, especially those with Kurdish populations, issued barely veiled threats of invasion before the vote even took place. Turkey, Iran and the Iranian-backed Iraqi government all denounced the vote as an attempt to create a “second Israel” in the region, with the term “fifth column” frequently deployed in the media to describe the alleged status of the Kurds within Israel’s strategic calculations.

An Iranian-backed military offensive, involving Iraqi government forces and the Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary organization—the Iraqi equivalent of Lebanon’s Hezbollah—smashed through Kurdish-controlled areas of Iraq throughout October and November. That operation was directed by Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of the IRGC’s “Quds Force,” the notorious military agency that co-ordinates Iran’s regional interventions in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

By the time the offensive ended, more than 50 percent of the territory liberated from ISIS by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, including the city of Kirkuk, lay in the hands of the Iraqi government in Baghdad and Hashd al-Shaabi. “This attack, waged by the Iraqi government, Hashd al-Shaabi and forces associated with the Headquarters of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force, is in retaliation against the people of Kurdistan who have asked for freedom,” a Peshmerga statement declared at the height of the fighting.

Yet the outside world remained shamefully disinterested in the Iraqi Kurdish plight last year. That is a key reason why Iran now believes it can make an example of its own 7 million Kurds with impunity. “We have always considered Iran a danger to us,” Mustafa Muludi, the General Secretary of the Kurdistan Independence Party of Iran (KDPI) told the Kurdish news outlet Rudaw after the Sept. 8 missile attacks. “This bombardment has made our fear stronger.”

Their fear should be our alarm bell. The sorry record of international betrayal of Kurdish aspirations dates back to the end of the First World War, and frankly, betrayal remains at the heart of our policy. The Iranian-led assault last year used artillery and armored vehicles supplied by the U.S. government to the Iraqi government. Our response, as the Iranians openly mocked us by using American-made weapons to attack one of our closest regional allies, was to have the State Department confirm its “One Iraq” policy, effectively closing the door on the Kurdish bid for national sovereignty.

Only Israel came out of last year’s disgrace with any honor, as the one country to warmly welcome the referendum result, and to express the hope that the Kurds would join the Jews as a free nation in the Middle East. Yet as much as Israel has covertly aided the Kurdish national movement over the years, it is not in a position to fight on their behalf. As Kurdish leaders repeatedly state, the task of allies is to ensure that their own seasoned warriors can do that for themselves.

Last year, sadly, the Trump administration helped to tie the Kurds’ hands by equivocating over the referendum and the Iranian onslaught that followed. Iran now seeks to test our resolve by continuing its campaign against the creation of a Kurdish state that would be far more open, far more democratic and far more pacific than any of its neighbors. As yet, there is no sign that our shameful policy is changing.

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On Topic Links

Iraq’s New Leaders Seen as Technocrats, in a Break From Sectarian Politics: Ben Hubbard and Falih Hassan, New York Times, Oct. 2, 2018—For nearly five months, Iraqi politicians have wrangled over the shape of their new government. The bloc led by Moktada al-Sadr, the former Shiite militia leader and longtime American enemy, won the most votes in the May election. He had rebranded himself as an “Iraq First” populist, vowing to fight corruption, opposing both American and Iranian intervention, and promising a new nonsectarian politics.

Assassination of Iraq’s Feminists: Beauty Queen Flees to Jordan After Threat, String of Deaths: National Post, Oct. 9, 2018—A former Miss Iraq beauty queen has fled the country following a spate of killings of high-profile women. Shimaa Qasim Abdulrahman said she left for Jordan after receiving death threats from a man purporting to be an Islamic State member who told her, “You’re next”.

A Strong Kurdistan Region is Good for US in Iraq: Seth J. Frantzman, The Hill, Oct. 16, 2018—Over 200 publishing companies from 35 countries converged on northern Iraq on Oct. 10 to showcase their work at the city’s 13th annual Erbil International Book Fair. Leading officials came to see the ribbon cutting to open the fair in the Kurdistan region’s capital. It was a symbol of the normality that has swept the region more than a year after ISIS was defeated in Mosul, an hour’s drive northwest of the city.

It is Time for the U.S. to Help Liberate the Kurds: Qanta Ahmed, Jerusalem Post, October 3, 2018—Marking the one-year anniversary of the Kurdish referendum this week, the moral obligation to support Kurdish independence for more than 36 million Kurds hangs heavily. While the will of the Kurdish people was clear in a 73% turnout in the vote last September, 93% voted for independence from Iraq. It seemed the world – including the US – ignored the referendum and then, worse, showed remarkable contempt by dismissing the desires of the largest stateless nation of peoples in the world, with a population less than those of Canada and Australia.