Netanyahu Emulates Churchill in Trying to Influence US Policy to Protect His People: Alan M. Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 12, 2015— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is acting properly in lobbying against the Iran deal.
Germans Are Using Holocaust Street Memorials to Bash Israel: Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 11, 2015 — There is an increasing tendency among Germans devoted to commemorating the Holocaust to turn Jewish victims into a whipping boy to criticize Israelis and advance the Palestinian cause.
A Look Back at the Brave Stories of Jewish Canadian Second World War Veterans: Breaking Israel News, Aug. 11, 2015 — For soldiers in Canada’s army in the Second World War, Sundays meant church parades.
The Expulsion of Baghdad’s Jews and the Unraveling of the Middle East: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 2, 2015— A few hours in the Shorja open market in Baghdad can teach you a lot – about the Middle East’s past, its present and its apparent future. What’s to be found there is informative. What is absent – equally so.
The Agreement: Dry Bones Blog, July 16, 2015
The Forward's Dispatch From Iran: Michael J. Totten, World Affairs, Aug. 12, 2015
Africa’s Scramble for Europe: Ross Douthat, New York Times, Aug. 8, 2015
From Kaifeng to the Kotel: Chinese Jews in Jerusalem: Michael Freund, Breaking Israel News, Aug. 12, 2015
Humanitarian Tragedy: Iran's Beleaguered Jewish Community: Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, Frontpage, Sept. 2, 2013
Alan M. Dershowitz
Gatestone Institute, Aug. 12, 2015
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is acting properly in lobbying against the Iran deal. And President Obama is acting improperly in accusing him of interfering in American foreign policy and suggesting that no other foreign leader has ever tried to do so: "I do not recall a similar example."
President Obama is as wrong about American history as he is about policy. Many foreign leaders have tried to influence US foreign policy when their national interests are involved. Lafayette tried to get the United States involved in the French Revolution, as the early colonists sought support from France in their own revolution. Winston Churchill appeared in front of Congress and lobbied heavily to have America change its isolationist policy during the run up to the Second World War. Nor can President Obama claim ignorance about recent events, when he himself sent David Cameron, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, to lobby Congress in favor of the Iran deal. Recently, Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, lobbied us with regard to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Prime Minister Netanyahu's nation has a far greater stake in the Iran deal than most of the countries that negotiated it. But Israel was excluded from the negotiations. Any leader of Israel would and should try to exercise whatever influence he might have in the ongoing debate over the deal. There can be no question that Israel is the primary intended target of Iran's quest for a nuclear arsenal. Recall that Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president of Iran, has described Israel as a one-bomb state that could be destroyed instantaneously, and that even if Israel retaliated, it would not destroy Iran or Islam. No similar threats have been made against Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia or China. Although the United States is still regarded by Iran as the "Great Satan", the U.S. has less to fear from an Iranian nuclear arsenal than does Israel.
Does President Obama really believe that Israeli leaders are required to remain silent and simply accept the consequences of a deal that puts its population at risk? As Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly said, Israel is not Czechoslovakia. In 1938, Czechoslovakia too was excluded from the negotiations that led to its dismemberment, but it had no ability to influence the policies of the negotiating nations. Nor did it have the ability to defend itself militarily, as Israel does. The United States would surely not accept a deal negotiated by other nations that put its citizens at risk. No American leader would remain silent in the face of such a deal. Israel has every right to express its concern about a deal that has crossed not only its own red lines, but the red lines originally proposed by President Obama.
President Obama's attack on Prime Minister Netanyahu, for doing exactly what he would be doing if the shoe were on the other foot, has encouraged Israel-bashers to accuse opponents of the deal of dual loyalty. Nothing could be further from the truth. I and the deal's other opponents are as loyal to our country as is President Obama and the supporters of the deal. I am a liberal Democrat who opposed the invasion of Iraq and who twice supported President Obama when he ran for president. Many of the deal's strongest opponents also cannot be accused of being warmongers, because we believe that the deal actually increases the likelihood of war.
The President should stop attacking both the domestic and international critics of the deal and engage us on the merits. That is why I have issued a challenge to the Obama Administration to debate its critics on national television. This is a wonderful occasion for Lincoln-Douglas type debates over this important foreign policy issue. At this point in time, the majority of Americans are against the deal, as are the majority of both Houses of Congress. The President has the burden of changing the public's mind. This is, after all, a democracy. And the President should not be empowered to impose his will on the American public based on one-third plus one of one house of Congress, when a majority of Americans have expressed opposition. So let the name-calling stop and let the debates begin.
Jerusalem Post, Aug. 11, 2015
There is an increasing tendency among Germans devoted to commemorating the Holocaust to turn Jewish victims into a whipping boy to criticize Israelis and advance the Palestinian cause. The ongoing debate in Munich over whether the Bavarian capital should allow “Stolpersteine” (brass plaques which name the Holocaust victims) to be embedded into sidewalks and street is a salient example of this. In late July, the Munich city council voted to ban the so-called “stumbling block” memorials. Charlotte Knobloch, the former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and current head of the Munich Jewish community, has long opposed the Stolpersteine and has called it an insult to the victims. Knobloch, a Holocaust survivor, said it is “intolerable” for passers-by to step on the names of Jews that were murdered in the tragedy.
There are six “stumbling blocks” outside the residence of this reporter in Berlin. One of them reads: “Hans Simson. Date of birth: 1913. Deported on 28.6. 1943. Murdered in Auschwitz.” The left-wing weekly Jungle World, widely considered to a be a pro-Israel weekly, reported in a commentary by Dora Streibl that a co-founder of the “stumbling blocks” memorial in the city of Kassel, Ulrich Restat, declared at an anti-Semitic demonstration in 2014 that “death is a master today from Israel” and that he wished that there would be “stumbling blocks” for the murdered Palestinians. The commentary also noted the anti-Zionist sentiments of the co-founders of the Munich “Stolpersteine” initiative.
Retast’s reference was an allusion to the famous Holocaust poem from the Jewish poet Paul Celan, a German-speaking Holocaust survivor, who wrote about the Hitler movement: “Death is a master from Germany” In her commentary, Streibl criticized Restat and others who use the Stolpersteine as a form of alleviating their pathological guilt about the crimes of the Holocaust by turning modern day Jews into perpetrators. She added that: “the Stolpersteine appear as a comfortable, discreet form of remembrance: One did something.”
Others have argued that German Holocaust memorials, including the main memorial in Berlin’s central government district, are not about preserving the memory of Jewish victims, but rather about making Germans feel good. Former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s statement in 1998 captures the emptiness of this ritualization process. He said that the Holocaust memorial should be a place “where people like to go.” Like other Holocaust memorials, the Stolpersteine project also functions, one can argue, as a kind of phony resistance to Germany’s Nazi past. The German writer Johannes Gross depicted Germany’s relationship to its Nazi history accurately when he wrote that “The resistance to Hitler and his kind is getting stronger the more the Third Reich recedes into the past.”
There are no memorials in Germany for Palestinian, Hezbollah, and Iranian lethal anti-Semitism committed against Jews and Israelis. When an attempt was made years ago to show Israeli victims in train stations there was an uproar and the plan was quashed. The German artist who started the “Stolpersteine” project is Gunter Demnig. According to Reuters, ”there are 45,000 Stolpersteine in Germany and 16 other European countries. Berlin alone has 5,500 of them.” The preoccupation with memorializing dead European Jews in Germany has taken bizarre new directions. A fitting update to the famous sarcastic line from Israeli psychoanalyst Zvi Rex could be that “The Germans will never forgive the Israelis for Auschwitz.”
Breaking Israel News, Aug. 11, 2015
For soldiers in Canada’s army in the Second World War, Sundays meant church parades. Catholics assembled on one side, Protestants on the other and everyone else, mainly Jews, stayed in the middle. The Christians went to their respective churches and the Jews were free for a few hours. One Jewish soldier recalls standing alone in the middle with another five of his compatriots. The next week, though, he says, almost everyone decided to be “Jewish.”
But being Jewish in the Canadian Armed Forces during the Second World War was nothing at all like standing on the sideline and watching. These proud men and women served with the greatest of honor, determination, and pride. They served on land, in sea, and in the air to protect their nation and their country.
On May 9, 2015, 70 years have passed since Europe’s liberation. These veterans, most of whom are no longer alive, are on the verge of being all but forgotten. A rare memorial in a downtown city and a cenotaph that stands tall in a Jewish cemetery will be little cared about when all the veterans have passed on, the memories of the war are forgotten and the lessons of the war are no longer taught. It is up to us to help them make an impression on the history books…
Citizens of Canada, with the memories of the Great War fresh in their minds, knew that the principles of democracy and justice demanded their service. Out of a population of more than 11 million Canadians during the war, about 1.1 million Canadians served in the forces. Canadians were in almost every major theater of war, making a huge contribution to the invasion of Italy, and liberating the Netherlands.
Jewish Canadians did more than their part to help. Despite clear manifestations of anti-Semitism at the time, the Jewish community rallied to the cause. From a population of just more than 167,000 Jews in Canada, close to 17,000 of them – men and women – served in the armed forces. Another 2,000-3,000 are estimated to have served without listing their religion for fear of capture by the Nazis. In total, 196 soldiers were decorated and 420 were killed during the war, as well as many others who later died from their wounds, both physically and mentally. Canadian Jews served as one of the highest per capita contributions of any ethnic or religious group in Canada in the war.
Prior to the Second World War, Canada was not the loving, tolerant country that it is today. Just months after Hitler’s rise to power, Canada experienced a taste of anti-Semitism at the Christie Pits riot. But these Canadian Jews didn’t lie down and accept their beating. They fought back. A virtue that they kept all throughout the decade and into the war, with many even making great contributions in Israel’s War of Independence.
Jews in the army quickly became one with the other soldiers in their regiments despite the anti-Semitism in the air. But for others, it usually took one incident to set the record straight. Simon Goldenthal, who served with fellow members of the faith Ben Dunkelman and Barney Danson in the Queen’s Own Rifles reigment, remembered in the beginning of his service being called derogatory names. but that didn’t last too long. “One day I was cleaning my rifle and I put a bullet right next to his head. That put a stop to it.”
When soldiers, Jews and Gentiles alike, though, were fighting for their lives, religion never got in the way. Harry Smith, an armorer posted at an RCAF station in Bagotville, Quebec, recalled that his fellow soldiers were like brothers to him even in the safety of Canada. And just like a family, the air force had unwritten rules in addition to its written ones.
“There was a rule in the air force: never talk religion or politics because you’d end up having an argument.”
Smith came from small-town Welland, Ontario. He carpooled with non-Jews, went to camp with them and his mother never turned down a hungry soul that needed a little bit to eat even during the Depression. But the reason Smith got along so well with everybody was about more than just his character. These were a determined bunch of soldiers concentrating on just one thing. “The truth was everybody was out to win the war.”
While Smith fought from the home front, other Canadian Jews fought in the key battles of the war. These veterans know it is because of their efforts that democracy was saved,but those proud moments weren’t always at the forefront of their war memories. The physical pain, the soldiers said, was easy to bear. The psychological scars were the most painful. Al Rosen, another member of the famed Queen’s Own Rifles, dealt with both. Rosen began his military career in Canada. He had a job to guard the hydro towers at Niagara Falls from German planes. He recalled marching along the Niagara River but said “the only thing we would end up with was a stiff neck.”
Overseas in the Netherlands, he and his unit stumbled upon a Dutch farmer near the end of the war. She was so glad to see that these men were not Russians that she gave them fresh milk and eggs, considered a delicacy after all the powdered food the soldiers ate. That same day, just four days before the war ended, however, suddenly turned from great to horrible.
Rosen and his buddies were caught in the middle of a shelling. He was lucky enough to escape death that day, although the chunks of shrapnel in his body were painful enough. What hurt Rosen even more was seeing his friend, crouching right next to him, be decapitated. Rosen never forgot that day. It was always his worst nightmare and he was constantly reminded of the small bits of shrapnel inside him every time he went through an x-ray machine at an airport….
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Jerusalem Post, Aug. 2, 2015
A few hours in the Shorja open market in Baghdad can teach you a lot – about the Middle East’s past, its present and its apparent future. What’s to be found there is informative. What is absent – equally so. My fixer Yusuf hadn’t wanted to take me to Shorja. I was in Baghdad for a reporting project on the Shi’ite militias. Between heading for Anbar with Kata’ib Hezbollah and up to Baiji with the Badr Corps, we had a few hours of down time in Baghdad, so I suggested we make for the market area that had once formed the hub of the city’s Jewish community.
I am no expert on the Jews of Iraq. But a friend’s Iraqi father back in Jerusalem, upon hearing that I was heading for Baghdad had mentioned the Taht el Takia neighborhood in the heart of the market where he had grown up, and asked me to take some pictures if I had the chance. “Old Baghdad isn’t really safe anymore. We won’t be able to walk around,” Yusuf told me as we debated the issue. “After the Jews were kicked out in the ’50s, a load of poor Shi’ite moved in and they have been running it ever since.”
I tried to ascertain what exactly the danger was. But, like much else in Baghdad, it wasn’t clear – just a general sense of foreboding, and maybe justified paranoia, of a kind that seemed pervasive in the city. Baghdad carried with it a tense and febrile atmosphere. Roadblocks everywhere. Muscular, armed men and light armored vehicles outside the hotels. Logos and pictures of armed Shi’ite irregulars on every street corner. These latter were the forces defending the city against the Sunni fighters of the Islamic State.
ISIS was just 60 km away, its black clad fighters waiting behind their positions amid the dust and the summer heat and the collapsed buildings. So I understood Yusuf’s reluctance. His driver, an older man and recent refugee from Anbar, was tired, too, and clearly had no special desire to head out into the 40 degree heat of the afternoon – still less, if the destination was a poverty-stricken Shi’ite section of the city. All the same, I was paying them and didn’t feel like spending the whole afternoon sitting around drinking tea and smoking, so I persisted and finally Yusuf agreed. Taht el Takia? Well, we’ll go there and see what’s there. But if I say it isn’t safe, we don’t even get out of the car.”
We set off back into the heat of the afternoon and began the drive to Old Baghdad. After a while, we reached al-Rasheed Street and began the search for the neighborhood. The market and area surrounding it were ramshackle and neglected, looking like they’d last been renovated sometime in the 1970s. Yusuf began to ask passersby about Taht el Takia. Everyone seemed to have heard of it, but no one quite knew where it was. “The problem is,” Yusuf said, “that most of the people here belong to families that came in from the countryside when Baghdad expanded in the 1960s, so they don’t really know all the names of these old neighborhoods.”
Finally, from al-Rasheed Street, we reached a warren of small alleyways and Yusuf declared that this, as far as he could ascertain, was Taht el Takia. The market had closed for the day; it was late afternoon and I made to enter the alley. This had once been the vibrant heart of Baghdad’s Jewish community, though not the slightest memory or indication of that was to be found. We wandered the deserted alleyways filled with garbage from the market. After a few minutes, a plump security man wearing a tatty army uniform with a maroon airborne-style beret on the back of his head, appeared and began to shout and gesticulate in guttural Baghdadi Arabic. “No pictures,” Yusuf told me.
Having established his authority with this arbitrary order, the guard became friendly and inquisitive. I told him I had come to look at the area for the father of a friend of mine who had left in 1951 and hadn’t seen it since. “Oh, a Jew, yes?” he said. I decided to answer in the affirmative, feeling vaguely that to have denied this would have been a sort of betrayal. “From Israel?” the guard persisted. This was going too far, and I replied vaguely that I had arrived from England.
The guard was amused by this, and with a show of magnanimity said we could photograph the adjacent mosque and the outside areas, but that he didn’t recommend going too far into the warren of alleyways, since it was getting dark. “Anyone could see that you’re a foreigner and just produce a weapon and say, ‘come with us,’” he suggested, grinning broadly. “I don’t even go in there myself after dark.” He brought us some bottled water as a goodwill gesture. “By the way,” he said as we parted, “ask your friend’s dad if he can get me asylum in Israel.”
There has been a market at Shorja since the Abbasid period in the 8th century. But for some time in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Jews dominated trade in the area. It was the hub of a flourishing community. In 1951-1952, the long story of Iraqi Jewry came to an end with the Arab nationalist agitation; the commencement of anti-Jewish laws from the mid-1930s; growing violence; the Farhud massacres in 1941; and the subsequent persecution and expulsions. Almost the entire community was airlifted or smuggled out of the country from 1949 to 1951; Operation Ezra and Nehemiah brought around 130,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel from May 1951 and early 1952.
Some 60 years on, in Baghdad the Jews are a ghostly memory. The poor Shi’ites who moved into their vacated houses and the mass of the population that came later are neither moved by nor curious about their buried stories. There are, it is said, seven Jews remaining in the city. The old synagogues are long since demolished or boarded up. The mezuzas long prised from the doorways. The Laura Kadoorie Alliance Girls’ School, the Jewish Institute for the Blind, the shops of Yehezkel Abu al-Anba and Fattal are all gone.
As it turns out, the expulsion of Baghdad’s Jews was a portent of what was to come. The Jews were the first minority to be ripped from the fabric of Iraqi society. For a long, subsequent period, stagnation followed and dictatorships of unfathomable brutality imposed their will on the country. These ensured the dominance of the Sunni Arab minority, while other communities lived an uneasy, truncated existence, visited by intermittent catastrophe. That period ended in 2003 with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Today, in Iraq, similar forces of tribalism and sectarian hatred to those that ended Baghdad Jewry’s long and illustrious history are tearing the whole country to pieces. Nowadays, these forces no longer seek to cloak and disguise themselves in finery borrowed from the West. There are no claims to secularism, socialism or whatever. They come as they are ‒ sectarian, religious and set on revenge…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
The Agreement: Dry Bones Blog, July 16, 2015
The Forward's Dispatch From Iran: Michael J. Totten, World Affairs, Aug. 12, 2015—The Forward just published the very first dispatch from Iran in a Jewish newspaper that was tolerated by the Iranian government since the revolution in 1979.
Humanitarian Tragedy: Iran's Beleaguered Jewish Community: Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, Frontpage, Sept. 2, 2013 —One of the crucial humanitarian tragedies- that the world and the mainstream media has failed to focus on- is the fate and current living situation of Jewish communities in the Muslim-dominated countries, particularly the Shiite-Islamist country of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
From Kaifeng to the Kotel: Chinese Jews in Jerusalem: Michael Freund, Breaking Israel News, Aug. 12, 2015—What made Li, Fan and Xue’s journey so unique was the history they were making, as they became the first group of Chinese Jews to join Israeli army since the modern rebirth of the Jewish state.
Africa’s Scramble for Europe: Ross Douthat, New York Times, Aug. 8, 2015 —This summer, a striking, often tragic story has been playing itself out on the outskirts of Calais in France, at the entrance to the tunnel that connects the European mainland to Great Britain.