WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP Posted on April 12, 2017 Printer Friendly On Topic Links Frozen In Time By Rabbi Asher Jacobson (Video): Youtube, Apr. 9, 2017 After Six Years of Slaughter and Failure to Act, Trump Lets Fly His Tomahawks Out of the Blue: Terry Glavin, National Post, Apr. 7, 2017 Pressed in Iraq and Syria, IS lashes out in Egypt: Samer al-Atrush, Times of Israel, Apr. 10, 2017 BDS Contributes to Palestinians' Plight: Ariel Behar, IPT, Apr. 6, 2017 WEEKLY QUOTES "One could say that the level of trust on a working level, especially on the military level, has not improved, but rather has deteriorated." — Russian President Vladimir Putin. Levels of trust between Moscow and Washington have deteriorated since US President Donald Trump took office, Putin said in an interview. Asked about accusations that Syria's government launched a chemical weapons attack in Idlib province, Putin said that Damascus had given up its chemical weapons stocks. He said he believed there were two main explanations for the incident in Idlib province: that Syrian government air strikes had hit rebel chemical weapons stocks, releasing poisonous gas, or that the incident was a set-up designed to discredit the Syrian government. "We have information that a similar provocation is being prepared … in other parts of Syria including in the southern Damascus suburbs where they are planning to again plant some substance and accuse the Syrian authorities of using (chemical weapons)," Putin said. (Jerusalem Post, Apr. 12 & Telegraph, Apr. 11, 2017) “We rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world… I hope Russia is thinking carefully about its continued alliance with Bashar al-Assad because every time one of these horrific attacks occurs, it draws Russia closer into some level of responsibility.” — U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Tillerson hinted that the U.S. will not hesitate to carry out another military action. On Monday, senior-level officials within President Trump’s administration urged Russia to give up its support for Assad in order to improve the relations between Moscow and Washington. “We hope that the Russian government concludes that they have aligned themselves with an unreliable partner in Bashar al-Assad,” Tillerson said. In what was in effect an ultimatum, he said Moscow must calculate the costs of remaining an ally of Assad, the Iranians and Lebanon’s Shiite militia Hezbollah. “Is that a long-term alliance that serves Russia’s interests?” he told reporters. “Or would Russia prefer to realign with the United States, with other Western countries and Middle East countries that are seeking to resolve the Syrian crisis?” (Jerusalem Online, Apr. 10 & Washington Post, Apr. 11, 2017) “There’s not any sort of option where a political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime…It just – if you look at his actions, if you look at the situation, it’s going to be hard to see a government that’s peaceful and stable with Assad [in charge].” — US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. According to monitors, the residents of the same Syrian town which suffered the chemical attacks last week were bombarded once again by the Syrian air force. Haley insisted that a regime change is going to take place, because “all of the parties are going to see that Assad is not the leader that needs to be taking place for Syria.” When asked if Trump would order more strikes, Haley said, “If he needs to do more, he will do more. So, really, now what happens depends on how everyone responds to what happened in Syria, and make sure that we start moving towards a political solution, and we start finding peace in that area.” (Times of Israel, Apr. 4, 2017) “There is no question that anyone who is guilty of the types of war crimes against innocents, against children, that Assad and his regime are needs to be held to account…We need to move as quickly as possible towards peace and stability in Syria that does not involve Bashar al-Assad…Countries that have been supportive of the Assad regime bear some of the responsibility for the chemical attacks on innocents… And those countries must also be part of the solution as we hold the Assad regime to account and as we move tangibly forward as an international community to ending this conflict in Syria.” — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, during a visit to Juno Beach to commemorate Canada’s Second World War dead. Trudeau was, however, non-committal when it came to the question of how to remove Assad from power, and whether Russia should be punished for supporting him. Canada remains open to imposing new sanctions against Russia in concert with its allies, he said, but Russia must also be part of the solution for bringing peace to Syria. (Globe & Mail, Apr. 10, 2017) “The government of Canada, and I as foreign minister, am shocked and horrified. This is really a reprehensible attack against civilians and it is absolutely important the world take notice…If confirmed, regime responsibility for an attack on its own civilian population and attacks using these types of weapons is a very, very grave act which must have consequences…It is extremely important to hold accountable, at an individual level, the people responsible for this heinous attack.” — Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. Freeland said Canada and the U.S. are the two leading funders of the United Nations organization that investigates the use of the chemical weapons, which will play a role in establishing the facts of the attacks. She said the international community must investigate, identify who did it, and hold them to account. (Globe & Mail, Apr. 5, 2017) “Donald Trump has done the right thing on Syria…Finally!! After years of useless handwringing in the face of hideous atrocities.” — Anne-Marie Slaughter, who was a high-level State Department official during Obama’s first term. Former Secretary of State John Kerry was “absolutely supportive” of the strike, a source close to him told Politico. The source said Kerry felt “gratified to see that it happened quickly,” days after a nerve-gas attack on civilians that killed 87. “Our administration never would have gotten this done in 48 hours,” another former Obama administration official told Politico. “It’s a complete indictment of Obama.” (New York Post, Apr. 8, 2017) “North Korea is looking for trouble…If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! USA.” — President Trump on Twitter, just hours after the rogue regime vowed to respond with nuclear weapons to any military strikes by the U.S. A US aircraft carrier group led by the USS Carl Vinson is steaming to the Korean Peninsula following continued missile tests by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week at his Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, to discuss trade and the threat North Korea poses to the region. Trump pressed Xi to use his influence with North Korea to curb its nuclear ambitions. After the summit, Xi expressed a willingness to work with the US. In a tweet on Tuesday, Trump referenced that meeting and reiterated his desire for China to intervene. “I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!,” he said. (New York Post, Apr. 11, 2017) "We will hold the US wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions." — A North Korean foreign ministry spokesman. The spokesman called Washington's decision "reckless" and said the regime was "ready to react to any mode of war" should the US take military action. Beijing fears any potential conflict in the region would result in pro-US troops on its border, and also cause a huge refugee crisis in it’s north-east. Some South Korean newspapers reported that Beijing had moved 150,000 troops to its border with North Korea for “unforeseen contingencies”. (Telegraph, Apr. 11, 2017) “The American military has tried for 15 years to help Afghanistan build a professional army…It has always assumed that its own goal of defeating the insurgency is shared by Afghan Army leaders…(But), this is often not so.” — Karl W. Eikenberry, a retired American general who commanded coalition forces in Afghanistan and later was the American ambassador to Kabul. Last year, the American military spent more than $100 million to rebuild the Afghan Army’s 215th Corps, which is battling resurgent Taliban militants in the southern province of Helmand. With large swaths of the Afghan countryside under Taliban control and several cities threatened, American and NATO leaders are growing increasingly frustrated with the slow pace of security reforms that they see as necessary to battle the insurgency. (New York Times, Apr. 8, 2017) “I wish every Afghan leader could have a son or a daughter out in the checkpoint…And I wish everyone would ask one question before they went to bed at night — does my son or daughter have what they need to fight tonight and win?” —Maj. Gen. Richard G. Kaiser, in charge of the Combined Security Transition Command in Afghanistan. General Kaiser, whose son is an Army lieutenant, clearly felt frustrated by the lack of empathy shown by Afghan leaders for their soldiers. According to General Kaiser, the United States has since October provided about 900 new Humvees, new weapons sufficient for about 14 battalions, fuel for a fleet of more than 100,000 vehicles, winter clothing for 25 percent of the Afghan Army and the police, and three-quarters of a year’s supply of ammunition. “I can give you everything all day, but it doesn’t mean anything if you have poor leadership taking it away from you,” he said. (New York Times, Apr. 8, 2017) “If you look at what ISIS really stands for, what they are carrying out now in the Middle East and in Egypt in particular, is a kind of genocidal attack on Christians and Christianity…They want Christianity eradicated, and they want to convert all Muslims to their crusade…They want it to be a holy war. And they want Christians gone. And I don’t think that narrative is getting the attention it should get in the American media and, I have to say, in other media as well around the world.” — Daily Mail editor-at-large Piers Morgan. Morgan criticized the American media for paying more attention to isolated terrorist attacks in Europe while ignoring I.S’s ongoing war on Christianity in the Middle East. Morgan lamented that “a handful of people being killed” in recent terrorist attacks in Stockholm and London have gotten “huge attention” in America, while coverage of suicide bombings on two Coptic Christian churches that killed dozens in Egypt on Palm Sunday appeared to be an afterthought. “And yet, what happened in Egypt was unbelievably significant,” he said. Egypt imposed a three-month nationwide state of emergency Monday after suicide bombings at two Coptic Christian churches in Alexandria and Tanta killed 45 people on Palm Sunday. The head of the Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, was inside St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria when it was attacked but was unhurt. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying the blood of Christians would flow “like rivers.” (Washington Times, Apr. 11, 2017) Contents SHORT TAKES RUSSIA ACCUSES U.S. OF UNLAWFUL SYRIA RAID AS TILLERSON VISITS (Moscow) — Russia’s top diplomat accused the U.S. of carrying out an unlawful attack against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces as he opened a fraught meeting with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson. It was an ominous start to Tillerson’s visit — the first to Russia by a Trump Cabinet official. Tillerson conceded the two world powers had “sharp differences” that have obstructed co-operation but voiced optimism that their talks could narrow those differences. Trump, meanwhile, said that the U.S. had no plans to become more deeply involved in Syria and only did so because of last week’s deadly chemical weapons attack that killed dozens. Turkey has said tests showed sarin gas was used. (Globe & Mail, Apr. 12, 2017) ISRAEL CLOSES BORDER WITH EGYPT AMID TERROR CONCERNS (Jerusalem) — Israel closes its side of the Taba Border Crossing between Eilat and Egypt in light of concerns of terrorist attacks targeting tourists, including Israelis, in the volatile Sinai Peninsula. Following security assessments, at least until April 18, Israel will not allow its citizens to enter Egypt through the crossing, however Israeli citizens will be permitted to return to the country via the Taba crossing. The Prime Minister's Office announced the move in a statement that cited "the intensifying activities" of I.S.-affiliated terrorists in the Sinai region in recent months. Israelis have long-flocked in holiday exodus to the Sinai region during the Jewish celebration of Passover, which began Monday at sundown. (Jerusalem Post, Apr. 10, 2017) ISRAELI SOLDIER KILLED IN RAMMING ATTACK (Jerusalem) — A soldier was killed and another lightly wounded when a Palestinian terrorist rammed them with his car as they stood at a bus stop just outside of the West Bank settlement of Ofra on Thursday. The attack was the second one last week and comes as Israeli officials have warned of a possible increase in violence surrounding the upcoming Passover and Easter holidays. The victim, Sgt. Elchai Teharlev, 20, was buried Thursday in Jerusalem. The assailant, 22-year-old Malik Hamad, is from the village of Silwad. (Jerusalem Post, Apr. 6, 2017) UZBEK MAN PLEADS GUILTY IN STOCKHOLM TRUCK ATTACK (Stockholm) — Rakhmat Akilov, a 39-year-old old Uzbek man, has pleaded guilty to a terrorist crime after ramming a truck into a crowd in Stockholm, killing four people and wounding 15, his lawyer said Tuesday. Police detained Akilov on Friday after he drove the stolen beer truck into a crowd outside an upscale department store in central Stockholm in the afternoon. He was formally arrested early Saturday. Police have not given a motive for the attack and no extremist group has claimed responsibility. Police said Akilov was known to have been sympathetic to extremist organizations but that there was nothing to indicate he might plan an attack. His Swedish residency application was rejected last year. (Washington Post, Apr. 11, 2017) AHMADINEJAD REGISTERS FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN IRAN (Tehran) — Iran's former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad filed to run in the country's May presidential election, contradicting a recommendation from the supreme leader to stay out of the race. Ahmadinejad previously served two four-year terms from 2005 to 2013. Under Iranian law, he became eligible to run again after four years out of office, but he remains a polarizing figure. Two of his former vice presidents have been jailed for corruption since he left office. Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in 2009 sparked massive protests and a sweeping crackdown in which thousands of people were detained, dozens killed and others tortured. Ahmadinejad is known for repeatedly questioning the scale of the Holocaust, predicting Israel's demise and expanding Iran's contested nuclear program. (CBC, Apr. 12, 2017) UBC STUDENTS NARROWLY REJECT BDS IN REFERENDUM (Vancouver) — University of British Columbia students have narrowly voted against "boycotting products and divesting from companies that support Israeli war crimes, illegal occupation and the oppression of Palestinians," according to a resolution that failed with 52 per cent voting no. Nearly 3,000 students participated in the online referendum, just 5.5 per cent of the student body taking part — meaning the vote didn't meet the quorum required to make it binding. It's the second vote on BDS at UBC, the first one in 2015 gaining a majority of support but with too few voters to meet the quorum then. (Metro News, Apr. 9, 2017) LE PEN: FRANCE 'NOT RESPONSIBLE' FOR ROUND-UP OF JEWS DURING WWII (Paris) — French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen rejected the notion that France should be held responsible for the wartime corralling of Jews while the country was under Nazi occupation. The government has previously apologized for the role French authorities played in the round-up of 13,000 Jews at the Vel d’Hiv cycling track in 1942 at the behest of Nazi officers. The majority of those Jews would later meet their demise at Nazi death camps across Europe. Le Pen said “I don’t think France is responsible for the Vel d’Hiv…I think that generally speaking if there are people responsible, it’s those who were in power at the time. It’s not France.” Le Pen, who leads the National Front, is in a close race to succeed current President Hollande. Le Pen's father, who founded the National Front and is estranged from his daughter, has repeatedly been convicted for antisemitic and racist comments. (Jerusalem Post, Apr. 10, 2017) SPICER APOLOGIZES FOR HITLER COMPARISON (Washington) — White House press secretary Sean Spicer apologized after saying Hitler "didn't even sink to using chemical weapons" during World War II in an effort to shame Russia's alliance with Bashar al-Assad and his use of chemical weapons. The comment was immediately decried and after a series of attempts to clear up his words, Spicer apologized in an interview. "I was obviously trying to make a point about the heinous acts that Assad had made against his own people last week, using chemical weapons and gas. Frankly, I mistakenly made an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust, for which there is no comparison," Spicer said. "And for that I apologize. It was a mistake to do that." (CNN, Apr. 12, 2017) EU NATIONS, ISRAEL EYE LONGEST UNDERSEA GAS PIPELINE (Jerusalem) — Italy, Israel, Greece and Cyprus pledged to move ahead with the world’s longest undersea gas pipeline from the eastern Mediterranean to southern Europe, with support from the EU. The $6.2 billion pipeline will take gas from Israel and Cyprus’s recently discovered offshore gas reserves to Europe. Both Israel and Cyprus have started to extract gas from their offshore fields in recent years, with far larger projects expected to come online in the future. Officials have sought to market that gas to Europe as an alternative to dependence on Russian imports. (Times of Israel, Apr. 3, 2017) IAI SIGNS HISTORIC DEAL WITH INDIA, CLOSE TO $2B (Jerusalem) — In what is the “largest defense contract in the history of Israel’s defense industry,” Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced that it signed a missile defense deal worth close to $2 billion with India. The company said in a statement it will supply medium range surface-to-air missiles, launchers, and communications and control technology to India’s military for approximately $1.6 billion. An additional package that includes a naval defense system with long range surface-to-air missiles to be deployed on India’s first aircraft carrier is still being built. The contract constitutes the largest-ever defense deal between India and Israel, one of the top three arms suppliers to the southeastern Asian nation. (Jewish Press, Apr. 7, 2017) ISRAEL TREATS THOUSANDS OF WAR-WOUNDED SYRIANS (Jerusalem) — Israel says it has quietly treated 3,000 patients — a number that it expects to quickly grow as fighting heats up in neighboring Syria in the wake of a chemical attack. While the numbers are a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded in the six-year Syrian war, both doctors and patients say the program has changed perceptions and helped ease tensions across the hostile border. Israel has largely stayed out of the fighting in Syria, which has claimed over 400,000 lives. But it has carried out a number of airstrikes on suspected weapons shipments to Hezbollah, a bitter enemy that is fighting alongside Syrian government forces. (United With Israel, Apr. 9, 2017) PASSOVER, EASTER TOURISM TO ISRAEL BREAKS ALL RECORDS (Tel Aviv) — According to Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, March 2017 saw 293,000 tourist entries to Israel, a 22% increase over March 2016. In the three months January-March 2017, 739,000 tourist entries were recorded, a 24% increase over the same period last year. During this first quarter in 2017, tourism contributed more than $1.1 billion to the Israeli economy. The increase in tourism’s contribution to the economy in this period, compared with the first quarter in 2016, was about $200 million, with an additional 5,000 jobs created in the tourism industry. (Jewish Press, Apr. 9, 2017) GERMAN SOLDIERS PERFORMED NAZI SALUTE (Berlin) — According to a letter sent by the German Defense Ministry to the country’s parliament, the German army’s Counter-Terrorism Agency is investigating 275 of its soldiers suspected for their association with radical right-wing politics including a soldier who was heard shouting “Heil Hitler.” The letter stated that over the past two years, 200 incidents have been reported in which soldiers performed the Nazi salute or uttered racist expressions to immigrant soldiers. Public demonstrations of salutes and insignia related to the Nazi party are illegal in Germany and sometimes carry heavy penalties. (Jerusalem Online, Apr. 9, 2017) PRINCE CHARLES RECALLS HIS GRANDMOTHER HIDING JEWS IN WW2 (London) — The Prince of Wales has spoken movingly about the role his grandmother played in saving the lives of a Jewish family as he met Holocaust survivors in Austria. Charles and Camilla spent the final day of the tour in Vienna and met British and Austrian survivors of Nazi persecution when they toured the city’s Jewish Museum. During the Second World War, Princess Alice, the Duke of Edinburgh’s mother and Charles’s grandmother, sheltered a number of Jewish people when Greece was occupied. Alice – who is buried in Israel – was recognised by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial as a Righteous Among the Nations, and was posthumously awarded the British Government’s Hero of the Holocaust medal. (Times of Israel, Apr. 6, 2017) Contents On Topic Links Frozen In Time By Rabbi Asher Jacobson (Video): Youtube, Apr. 9, 2017 After Six Years of Slaughter and Failure to Act, Trump Lets Fly His Tomahawks Out of the Blue: Terry Glavin, National Post, Apr. 7, 2017 —The Kremlin is furious. The Khomeinists in Tehran are beside themselves. U.S. President Donald Trump’s alt-right fan base has joined leftish anti-imperialists in paroxysms of betrayal and outrage. Pressed in Iraq and Syria, IS lashes out in Egypt: Samer al-Atrush, Times of Israel, Apr. 10, 2017 —The twin bombings of churches in Egypt suggest that Islamic State group jihadists are lashing out as they find themselves coming under increasing pressure in Iraq and Syria, analysts say. BDS Contributes to Palestinians' Plight: Ariel Behar, IPT, Apr. 6, 2017—When Israel enacted a new policy last month banning entry by advocates pushing a global boycott and divestment campaign against it, some of the strongest criticism came from a group that touts itself as pro-Israel.