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Ukraine’s Jews Ponder Their Future: Sam Sokol, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 24, 2014
After Yanukovych, Maidan’s Next Fight Will Be To Preserve a Ukraine Safe for Minorities: Amelia Glaser, Tablet, Feb. 25, 2014
Obama Calls Retreat: William Kristol, Weekly Standard, March 2014
If BDS Wins, the Jews are Next: Eylon Aslan-Levy, Times of Israel, Feb. 24, 2014
"This is a time for reality."—U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, unveiling plans to shrink the US Army to its smallest size since before the U.S. entered the Second World War. The Pentagon chief proposed trimming the active-duty Army to 440,000-450,000 personnel, down from 520,000 currently. Cold War-era Air Force fleets – the U-2 spy plane and the A-10 attack jet – will also be retired. Hagel added "this is a budget that recognizes the reality of the magnitude of our fiscal challenges…since we are no longer sizing the force for prolonged stability operations, an Army of this size is larger than required to meet the demands of our defence strategy." The proposed Army staffing levels would be the lowest since 1940, when the US employed 267,767 active-duty soldiers. The number was 482,000 in 2000, a year before the attacks of 11 September 2001. After those attacks, the force peaked at 566,000 in 2010. (BBC, Feb. 24, 2014)
“We are in constant contact with the leadership of the Ukrainian Jewish community and are following the events closely. The Jewish Agency’s assistance aims to increase security at Jewish communal institutions in Ukraine.”—Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, announcing that his organization will extend immediate emergency assistance to the Jewish community of Ukraine and will help secure Jewish institutions. The Ukrainian community, one of the largest Jewish communities in the Diaspora, has some 200,000 members. Unrest in Ukraine has led to a rise of antisemitism. Following several attacks on Jews in Kiev, one of the rabbis of the city, Moshe Reuven Asman, told Ma’ariv that he recommended that the Jews of Kiev leave the city and, if possible, the country. Eduard Dolinsky, executive director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, has asked Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman for help providing security to members of the community in Ukraine. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 23, 2014)
“Amazing in Ukraine. Yanukovich was running, the people were fighting for freedom, and Obama was chatting with Putin.”—Garry Kasporav, former World Chess Champion and chairman of the Human Rights Foundation, tweeted on Saturday. Kasporav, who was born in the former Soviet Union, has criticised President Obama on foreign policy issues. Slamming Obama for “negotiating” with Russia during the Ukraine crisis, Kasporav questioned Obama's relationship with President Vladimir Putin. “I've said it before, but if Barack Obama had been president instead of Ronald Reagan, I'd still be a citizen of the Soviet Union,” added Kasporav. (Independent, Feb. 26, 2014)
“I know that there are those in Europe who have been calling on a boycott for Israel so I want to be very clear: there can be criticism of Israel. That's legitimate. But it's hard not to notice the fact that those who call for boycotting Israel are not calling for the boycott of any other country. They boycott only Israel…these boycotts push back peace. They only serve to strengthen Palestinian intransigence. They also don't help the Palestinian economy…there are 30,000 Palestinian workers who work in the settlements and the Jewish communities and their economy would be hard hit.”—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is in Israel this week. (Prime Minister’s Office, Feb. 25, 2014)
“If the BDS movement achieves its goal of normalising a blanket boycott of Israel, its next target will be the Jews. That, if nothing else, is why Jews in the Diaspora must get a grip and battle the demonisation of Israel before it endangers their own wellbeing.”—Eylon Aslan-Levy, member of the Board of Deputies for the UK Union of Jewish Students. (Times of Israel, Feb. 24, 2014)
"The new aggression is a blatant assault on Lebanon and its sovereignty and its territory…the Resistance (Hezbollah) will choose the time and place and the proper way to respond to it."— Hezbollah spokesperson, acknowledging for the first time that it had been targeted by Israeli air strikes on Monday night. The Shi'ite Islamist organization had previously denied reports that targets connected to it were hit by IAF jets. Prime Minister Netanyahu has failed to confirm or deny reports that Israel struck targets on the Syria-Lebanon border late Monday night. Netanyahu has said repeatedly that Israel would not allow the Syrian regime to transfer chemical weapons or "game-changing" weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 26, 2014)
“Would you hand over half of Britain to someone who keeps on killing you?”—Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, in an interview on BBC’s Hard Talk this week. “For 20 years we tried this direction, in [the international peace agreements of] 1993, in ’95, 2000… and you know what they did? They killed 1,000 Israelis,” Bennett said. “It’s not working. It’s time to try a different approach…peace between the people. Businesses in Judea and Samaria of Israelis and Palestinians together. That’s the real bridge to peace, build it bottom-up, because clearly the diplomats are failing.” (Algemeiner, Feb. 25, 2014)
“If an ordinary person does not pay his electricity bill, we disconnect him within a week. Here, despite the huge debt to the company, we are forced to continuing supplying electricity to the Palestinian Authority. Our owners are the government, and it has to make a decision on this matter. This debt must be collected.” —Israel Electric Corp (IEC) chairman Ron-Tal told the Knesset Finance Committee Tuesday. The Palestinian Authority debt to the IEC stands at $400 million and, Ron-Tal added, “if we were a private company, we would have stopped supplying electricity to the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip long ago.” In the past, when the IEC complained they were not receiving electricity payments from the PA, the Israeli government would stop sending to Ramallah monthly payments of taxes on goods from Israel. The usual tactic has been discarded since Kerry came to town. Most of the debt is owed by the Jerusalem District Electricity Company, a private Arab distributor of electricity that supplies Arab parts of Jerusalem, The PA wants these parts of Jerusalem as part of the new country Kerry is trying to help them create. (Jewish Press, Feb. 25, 2014)
“…For a civilian nuclear program there is no need for centrifuges and no need for a heavy-water reactor.”—Statement released Thursday by the Israeli government, arguing that the interim agreement reached by Iran and six world powers had not brought about “any change in Iran’s nuclear program.” (New York Times, Feb. 20, 2014)
"Tunisia is not less important than other countries in Europe such as Greece or Ukraine, so it's in the interest of everybody that Tunisia succeeds in this transition…we must ensure that Tunisia is a success story because if it doesn't then no other Arab country will succeed."—Tunisian Foreign Minister Mongi Hamdi, during a visit to Paris to boost economic ties and seek help to bolster security to fight Islamist militants. Hamdi added that his country had done "exemplary" work to move towards elections by the end of the year, but more support was needed. After a crisis last year brought on by the killing of two opposition leaders, Tunisian factions finally adopted a new constitution in January and the ruling Islamists stepped aside for a caretaker administration to govern until the elections. (Reuters, Feb. 26, 2014)
“The police could not have monitored New Jersey for Muslim terrorist activities without monitoring the Muslim community itself. While this surveillance program may have had adverse effects upon the Muslim community after the Associated Press published its articles; the motive for the program was not solely to discriminate against Muslims, but rather to find Muslim terrorists hiding among ordinary, law-abiding Muslims.”—Federal judge William J. Martini, dismissing a lawsuit against the New York Police Department brought by Muslim groups and individuals after the Associated Press exposed elements of the police department's anti-terror program in 2011. (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 21, 2014)
“…[Jonathan Pollard’s] pardon will certainly carry a high strategic cost (just as did the release of Gilad Shalit). I expect an exorbitant price in the currency of Israeli concessions toward the Palestinians or even toward the Islamic Republic of Iran. Cool U.S.-Israel relations have their benefit when Obama, Kerry, Hagel, Brennan, and Rice are running the foreign policy show. Accordingly, and with a heavy heart, I call on the free-Pollard advocates to cease their efforts until a president with an understanding of American interests comes to office.”—Daniel Pipes, President of the Middle East Forum and a CIJR Academic Fellow. (Jewish Press, Feb. 25, 2014)
JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER, SYNAGOGUE FIREBOMBED IN UKRAINE (Kiev) — A Jewish community center and synagogue were firebombed in Ukraine late Monday, according to the Chabad Lubavitch organization. Fears that the tumult in Ukraine would place the Jewish community in harm’s way appeared to be realized when Chabad, the religious outreach program which has managed to create a global presence, said that Molotov cocktails were hurled at a newly built facility in the southeastern Ukraine town of Zaporozhye. Jewish religious officials have expressed concern that law enforcement’s preoccupation with the political turmoil and rioting would leave Jewish institutions exposed to violent forms of anti-Semitism. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 25, 2014)
IRAN AND 6 POWERS AGREE ON TERMS FOR NUCLEAR TALKS (Vienna)—Iran and six world powers have agreed on a timetable and framework for negotiating a comprehensive agreement to end the confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program, the European Union’s foreign policy chief and Iran’s foreign minister said Thursday. While details were vague they said that groups of experts would meet early in March and that the full delegations would meet again on March 17, with the expectation that they would meet monthly. (New York Times, Feb. 20, 2014)
IRANIAN OIL EXPORTS RISE MARKEDLY SINCE INTERIM DEAL: REPORT (Washington) — Iran appears to have sharply increased its oil exports over the past few months, in what may be an early sign that oil sanctions have eased significantly since Tehran signed an interim deal to freeze its nuclear program. China’s average monthly imports of Iranian oil during the past three months were 29 percent above the monthly average for the previous six months, while Indian imports were 53 percent higher. “The numbers should be a red flag for the administration,” said Nat Kern, who heads Foreign Reports, a Washington-based energy consulting firm. “What is the U.S. going to do at the end of May if Iran has punched such a deep hole through the core sanctions on oil? The horse would be out of the barn.” (Washington Post, Feb. 24, 2014)
OBAMA WARNS OF REDUCED US PRESENCE IN AFGHANISTAN (Kabul) — America is preparing for the possible total withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan at the end of this year, President Barack Obama warned his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, yesterday as the two leaders wrangled over security plans. The warning, delivered in a phone call between the two presidents, raises the stakes in the negotiation between Kabul and Washington over the size of the American military presence in the country after Dec 31. Mr Karzai, who will step down as president after elections in April, is refusing to sign a formal agreement that would allow 10,000 US troops to remain in Afghanistan for counter-terrorism and training purposes. (Telegraph, Feb. 25, 2014)
TALIBAN HIT ARMY AHEAD OF AFGHAN VOTE (Kabul) — A Taliban attack on an army outpost killed at least 21 Afghan soldiers Sunday morning in eastern Kunar province following a weekend of backroom political intrigue in the capital. Two leading presidential candidates held talks about uniting their campaigns, which would give them a significant edge in the contest to succeed President Karzai, who must step down this year. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on an outpost near the village of Shirghaz in the Ghaziabad district of Kunar, a mountainous region near the Pakistan border. (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 24, 2014)
PAKISTAN BOMBS MILITANT HIDEOUTS IN TRIBAL AREAS (Lahore) — Pakistani fighter jets have launched air strikes on suspected militant hideouts in the north-west, killing at least 15 people, local officials say. Raids focused on Mir Ali town and surrounding areas of North Waziristan, but military sources said strikes were also carried out in the Khyber area. Peace talks between Pakistani government negotiators and Taliban militants broke down earlier this week. On Sunday a Taliban-linked group said they killed 23 paramilitary soldiers. (BBC, Feb. 20, 2014)
AL QAEDA EMISSARY IN SYRIA KILLED BY RIVAL ISLAMIST REBELS (Damascus)—Al Qaeda's top emissary in Syria was killed by rival Islamist rebels in a suicide bombing, deepening the violent power struggle between extremist groups that has undermined the battle to unseat President Bashar al-Assad. The attack on Sunday in the northern city of Aleppo killed Abu Khalid al Suri, one of the founders of the Islamist rebel group Ahrar al Sham. His group said he had been asked by al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri to help settle differences between the two main al Qaeda offshoots in Syria. (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 23, 2014)
SYRIANS SEEK NEW DELAY IN EXPORT OF CHEMICAL ARMS (Damascus)—The Syrian government has sought a new delay, until mid-May, for the export of its chemical weapons arsenal and is balking at a deadline looming in three weeks to destroy the 12 facilities that once produced the munitions, Western diplomats said Friday. The announcement is a new indication that Syria’s pledge to eradicate the banned arsenal — under a timetable already weeks behind schedule — is fraying. Threats by the Obama administration of military intervention over Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile were averted with an American-Russian deal under which the Syrian government joined the global treaty banning the weapons. (New York Times, Feb. 21, 2014)
MILITANTS SHOOT DOWN IRAQI HELICOPTER AND OCCUPY NORTHERN TOWN (Baghdad)—Militants shot down a helicopter on Saturday and briefly occupied a town, in an escalating turf war with Iraq's government that has killed at least 25 people in two days, police said. All four crew members were killed when their helicopter was downed during a reconnaissance flight over the town of Karma in Iraq's western province of Anbar, where the army is engaged in a standoff with anti-government fighters. Sunni Islamist insurgents have been gaining ground in Iraq over the past year and in recent weeks overran several towns. (Reuters, Feb. 22, 2014)
AL-SHABAAB MILITANTS ATTACK SOMALI PRESIDENTIAL PALACE (Mogadishu)—Islamist Militants carried out a deadly attack on Somalia's presidential palace Friday. A U.N. representative, in a post on Twitter, said that President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was unharmed. Terror network Al-Shabaab, al Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the attack. Somalia's national security minister, Adbikarin Hussein Guled, said at least 12 people, seven of them Al-Shabaab attackers, were killed in the attack. Al-Shabaab, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, hopes to turn Somalia into a fundamentalist Islamic state by force and has launched attacks in other countries, such as Kenya and Uganda, that have killed dozens. (CNN, Feb. 21, 2014)
CHRISTIAN MILITIAMEN KILL 70 MUSLIMS IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (Guen)—Christian militiamen killed at least 70 people in the remote southwest of C.A.R., at one point ordering a group of Muslims to lie on the ground and shooting them one by one, witnesses said Monday. The militiamen, known as the anti-Balaka, slaughtered the Muslims in the village of Guen earlier this month, said Rev. Rigobert Dolongo, a Catholic priest who helped bury the bodies. At least 27 people were killed on the first day of the attack, while 43 others were slain on the second day, he said. Human rights groups have documented hundreds of deaths since early January, when the Muslim rebel government crumbled and Christian fighters sought to avenge the regime’s abuses. (Toronto Star, Feb. 24, 2014)
NIGERIA SCHOOL RAID IN YOBE STATE LEAVES 29 DEAD (Lagos)—At least 29 students have been killed after suspected Boko Haram militants attacked a boarding school in north-east Nigeria. All the victims were teenage boys and 11 others were seriously injured. Most of the school was burned to the ground. Islamist militants have attacked dozens of schools in north-east Nigeria. Last September, 40 students were killed at an agricultural college during another night-time raid. Teachers at the school in Buni Yadi said the gunmen gathered the female students together before telling them to go away and get married and to abandon their education. The name Boko Haram means Western education is sin. The group says it aims is to replace Nigeria's political leadership and establish a new state under strict Islamic law. (BBC, Feb. 25, 2014)
FATWA: MUSLIMS CAN'T TRAVEL TO MARS (Abu Dhabi)—Muslim clerics have issued a religious ruling (“fatwa”) forbidding any Muslim from traveling to Mars. The ruling, published in the UAE's Khaleej Times, says that space travel in general, and to Mars specifically, is too dangerous. “Such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam,” the clerics wrote. By taking such a dangerous trip astronauts were taking unacceptable risks, the ruling says; if they ended up dead, they would suffer the same punishment in the Hereafter meted out to those who commit suicide – namely, an eternity in Hell. (Arutz Sheva, Feb. 20, 2014)
U.S. MUSEUM TO EXHIBIT BERTRAND RUSSELL'S 'BE NICE TO HITLER' LETTER (Los Angeles)—The Museum of Tolerance has acquired a 1937 letter written by Bertrand Russell in which the Nobel Prize-winning philosopher says if the Nazi army invades his native England the British should invite Adolf Hitler to dinner rather than fight. The museum, part of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, announced Wednesday that it paid $4,000 for the letter at a London auction last month. Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Wiesenthal Center's founder, says Bertrand's letter will be placed in the museum alongside one that Hitler wrote in 1919 outlining the anti-Semitic views that would lead to the Holocaust and killing of 6 million Jews. (Ha’aretz, Feb. 20, 2014)
THE JEWISH DEMOGRAPHIC BOMB: JUDEA AND SAMARIA UP 4.3% IN 2013 (Jerusalem) —Work on analyzing the figures of the 2013 population census is being concluded, and once again the Jewish Settler communities are showing a resounding increase. Based on these figures, 2013 has seen a 4.3 percent population growth in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan valley. As of last December (which means the real figures for today are even higher), the Jewish settler population in Judea and Samaria is about 375,000, with an addition of some 15,400 new residents. The Judea and Samaria annual growth rate is more than twice the average in Israel west of the 1949 armistice line—aka the green line—which is 1.9. (Jewish Press, Feb. 25, 2014)
PM SENDS CONDOLENCES TO FAMILY OF 110-YEAR-OLD HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR (London)—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday sent a letter of condolence to Ariel, the grandson of Alice Herz-Sommer, the world's oldest-known Holocaust survivor. Herz-Sommer passed away Sunday. "Your grandmother was born at the beginning of the 20th century to a well-known Jewish family. Dear Ariel, I am with you at this difficult time. I have no doubt that as the son of a Jewish, Zionist family you will keep her memory alive and pass her legacy on to the next generation of your family," Netanyahu concluded. Herz-Sommer, a pianist and music teacher, was born in Prague on Nov. 26, 1903 and interned in the Czech concentration camp Theresienstadt from 1943 to 1945. She is the subject of a documentary film, "The Lady in Number 6: How Music Saved my Life," which has been nominated for an Oscar. (Israel Hayom, Feb. 25, 2014)
Ukraine’s Jews Ponder Their Future: Sam Sokol, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 24, 2014—Despite the lack of a defined threat against them, representatives of Ukrainian Jewry indicated that they feel a general sense of unease as the pro – tests that shook Kiev for the last three months wind down.
After Yanukovych, Maidan’s Next Fight Will Be To Preserve a Ukraine Safe for Minorities: Amelia Glaser, Tablet, Feb. 25, 2014—Kiev’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti—Independence Square—is a 20-minute walk from where I lived a decade ago.
Obama Calls Retreat: William Kristol, Weekly Standard, March 2014—Kiev is ablaze. Syria is a killing field. The Iranian mullahs aren’t giving up their nuclear weapons capability, and other regimes in the Middle East are preparing to acquire their own.
If BDS Wins, the Jews are Next: Eylon Aslan-Levy, Times of Israel, Feb. 24, 2014—If the BDS movement achieves its goal of normalising a blanket boycott of Israel, its next target will be the Jews.
Rob Coles, Publications Editor, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research/L'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284. mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
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