Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

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Contents:  Weekly Quotes |  Short Takes On Topic Links



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MEDIAOCRITIES OF THE WEEK: “So spare me the Putin body-slammed-Obama prattle. This isn’t All-Star Wrestling. The fact that Putin has seized Crimea, a Russian-speaking zone of Ukraine, once part of Russia, where many of the citizens prefer to be part of Russia and where Russia has a major naval base, is not like taking Poland. I support economic and diplomatic sanctions to punish Russia for its violation of international norms and making clear that harsher sanctions, even military aid for Kiev, would ensue should Putin try to bite off more of Ukraine. But we need to remember that that little corner of the world [italics ours -ed]is always going to mean more, much more, to Putin than to us, and we should refrain from making threats on which we’re not going to deliver.” — Thomas L. Friedman (New York Times, Mar. 4, 2014)  


…“One example [of U.S. favoritism] is the current Israeli demand that Palestinians recognize the Jewishness of the Israeli state. This demand has met with automatic American approval, and will likely become one of the focal points of Mr. Kerry’s framework. This demand did not exist in past talks; in fact, it didn’t exist until the thought occurred to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, most likely because he was looking for a way to sabotage the peace process, which he could then blame on the Palestinians while continuing to usurp our land.” — Ali Jarbawi, political scientist at Birzeit University, and a former minister of the Palestinian Authority, in a New York Times op-ed. (New York Times, Mar. 4, 2014) 



On Topic Links


How Israel Lost a Media War: Lee Smith, Weekly Standard, Mar. 11, 2014

At the Heart of the Jewish State Issue: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Mar. 6, 2014

Reflecting on Wins, Losses as Canadian Troops Prepare for Afghan Pullout: Matthew Fisher, Montreal Gazette, Mar. 10, 2014





“The missiles that we uncovered today were intended to strike at the citizens of Israel. The intercontinental ballistic missiles that Iran is developing are intended to strike at the citizens of the West. Come to think of it, Iran might not need ICBMs. Just as they concealed these weapons in containers on this ship, they could tomorrow conceal in other containers the ultimate weapon, nuclear weapons, which they could ship to any port in the world. So my message today is simple: those engaged in self-deception must awaken from their slumber." — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a news conference in Eilat on Monday, commenting on the shipment of Iranian missiles destined for Gaza. Last week Israeli naval commandos boarded a Panamanian-flagged ship in the Red Sea to interdict the transfer of medium-range rockets from Iran to terrorists in Gaza. (Jewish Press, Mar. 10, 2014)


“It is important to make clear that even as we continue efforts to resolve our concerns over Iran’s nuclear program through diplomacy, we will continue, in coordination with our partners and allies, to push back against Iranian support for terrorism, threats against our friends and partners, and violations of human rights.” —White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, at a press briefing Monday. Carney finally made the statement condemning the Iranian missile shipment destined for Gaza, but only after taking a couple of days to figure out how to censure the smuggling attempt without hinting that perhaps Iran cannot be trusted in talks on its nuclear development. “We were very clear about our views on the ship that was interdicted and the fact that we condemn in the strongest terms Iran’s efforts to supply terrorist organizations operating in the region with weaponry,” Carney said. (Jewish Press, Mar. 10, 2014)

"The Arabs will not tolerate the Persians having the bomb. From the moment the Iranians get the bomb, the Egyptians have the resources, capability and know-how to achieve nuclear capabilities, and the Saudis will run to buy the bomb from the Pakistanis with a 'member's discount.'" — Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, director of political-military affairs at Israel’s Defense Ministry, warned that Iran could set off a nuclear arms race in the Arab world. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 12, 2014)


“What has been shocking has been seeing and observing Jewish organizations who, it appears, have made it their priority to support the political priority and the political ambitions of the president over the best interests of Israel. They sold out Israel.” — U.S. Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, during a telephone interview with Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council and host of the online radio show that is featured on the conservative Christian group’s website. Bachmann said this in reference to a Feb. 27 letter by major Democratic donors, many of them Jewish, to party congressional leaders urging them not to advance new Iran sanctions legislation. Earlier in the interview, Bachmann said that Obama “was helped enormously by the Jewish community. He made all sorts of promises in 2008 to the Jewish community through [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee]. He did it again in 2012 when he was running to be re-elected. He made promises that he would have Israel’s back, and in return the Jewish community gave him their votes.” (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 7, 2014)


"No one trusts us, no one listens to us, no one respects us, no one fears us." — Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, slamming the White House for its weakness on foreign policy, saying the U.S.'s standing in the world has diminished under President Obama. He pointed to the current situation in Ukraine during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee gathering, and blasted Obama for allowing Russian President Vladimir Putin to take advantage of our weakness. “I know the only time that Vladimir Putin shivers is when he takes his shirt off in the cold Russian winter," Huckabee said, to laughter among CPAC attendees. (Newsmax, Mar. 7, 2014)


“What should President Obama do to de-fang tyrant Vladimir Putin? He could start with two simple announcements tomorrow morning, as the beginning of a campaign to finally show Moscow that Washington means business. First, the president should announce a release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. That shouldn’t be so hard to swallow for a White House that sent 30 million barrels onto the market from the reserve in the summer of 2011 for no strategic reason other than to reverse plunging poll numbers as gas prices neared $4 dollars a gallon. Second, Obama should use this opportunity to finally approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada. These two moves would be directed right at the heart of what makes Putin tick — oil and natural gas — the only two things he holds dearer than the restoration of Russian hegemony.” — Terry Keenan (New York Post, Mar. 9, 2014)


"They are pressing and saying, 'No peace without the Jewish state’…there is no way. We will not accept."— Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas insists he will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state and accept a Palestinian capital in just a portion of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, rebuffing what Palestinians fear will be key elements of a U.S. peace proposal. (Montreal Gazette, Mar. 7, 201


“The Arab League is endorsing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state as a part of any peace agreement. But in taking this position, Abbas – considered by the Obama Administration to be a moderate Palestinian leader with whom a deal can be struck – is not going as far as his predecessor. Yasser Arafat recognized Israel as a Jewish state at least twice. In an undated video, Arafat said the PNC (Palestine National Council) accepted the idea of two states. One Palestinian, and a ‘Jewish state … Israel.’ In Washington last week, Netanyahu spoke glowingly of the opportunities a peace deal would present. Abbas responded to that optimism with an adamant rejection of a reality that even Yasser Arafat could see. Israel twice before has extended generous offers that would create a Palestinian state, only to have them rejected, most recently by Abbas in 2008.” — Steven Emerson, Executive Director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism. (Algemeiner, Mar. 11, 2014)


“The negotiations resumed on the basis of the 1967 lines — thus, we emphasized from the beginning that Israeli settlement inside the 1967 lines is illegitimate.” — Abbas, in remarks broadcast on Palestinian television and published by Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency. “When we sign the agreement, the Israelis should start gradual withdrawal. After the specific timeline, there must be no single Israeli in the Palestinian state.” (New York Times, Mar. 7, 2014)


"I am ready to proceed, I am ready to reach the end of the conflict, but it must be the end of the conflict." —Prime Minister Netanyahu, on Israeli television. He added that "we won't allow the establishment of a Palestinian state so that it will continue the conflict, so it needs to recognize the state of the Jews just like they are demanding from us that we recognize the state of the Palestinians." Netanyahu also said that Jerusalem will remain under Israeli sovereignty. (ABC News, Mar. 7, 2014)


“As noted in the Surgeon-General’s Mental Health Strategy, the second-most frequent cause of death for Canadian men aged 15 to 34 is suicide. Suicide is a societal problem. Suicide rates in the Canadian Forces are lower than those in the general population. Sadly, the U.S. Army’s suicide rate has doubled over the last decade. Ours have stayed stable since 1996 — thanks at least in part to the excellent men and women who work in our military’s health services. We’d prefer that our military not have any suicides. But they do happen, and sometimes they cluster together. And when they do happen in the Canadian Forces, it is not always due to Afghanistan, or PTSD. A report on the 38 suicides that happened in calendar years 2011 and 2012 found that only 50% of the cases had deployed in support of the mission in Afghanistan…the two most common diagnoses were major depression and substance abuse, each of which affected 21.1% of the cases… rather than focusing on blame, perhaps we should consider whether we’ve done enough to recognize the sacrifices made by members of our military and their families.” — Shaun Francis, chair of the True Patriot Love Foundation, which supports the needs of Canada’s military men and women, and their families. (National Post, Mar. 10, 2014)




CANADA WRAPS UP ITS MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN (Kabul) Canada's military efforts in Afghanistan will end this month, with the withdrawal of the last 100 soldiers from Kabul, where they had been wrapping up training of Afghan National Security Forces. Canada’s involvement included efforts in diplomacy, education, women’s rights and even dam building. The five years of heavy combat cost the lives of 158 Canadian soldiers, two consultants, one diplomat and one journalist. With security deteriorating in many rural areas of Afghanistan, a number of foreigners have faced tighter security measures. As the country approaches the presidential elections next month, authorities expect to see more violence and instability. (CTV News, Mar. 11, 2014)


IDF KILLS THREE TERRORISTS IMMEDIATELY AFTER MORTAR SHELL ATTACK (Gaza) The Israeli Air Force immediately retaliated for a mortar shell attack on soldiers near Gaza and bombed Islamic Jihad terror targets, reportedly killing three terrorists. The casualties were reported by Islamic Jihad sources and have not been confirmed or denied by the IDF, but military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said, “Direct hits were confirmed” moments after the mortar shell attack. He added, “Rapid reaction and operational capabilities are key to combating terrorist activities against Israel and our forces. Terrorist(s) must know that there is a price to pay when participating in aggression.” The military holds Hamas, the de facto regime in Gaza, responsible for all terrorist attacks. (Jewish Press, Mar. 11. 2014) 


GAZA MILITANTS FIRE LARGE ROCKET BARRAGE AT ISRAEL (Gaza) Militants in the Gaza Strip fired at least 20 rockets Wednesday into southern Israel, sending civilians rushing into bomb shelters but causing no casualties in the largest barrage in months. The military said its “Iron Dome” defense system intercepted at least three of the rockets, while the others fell in open areas. The barrage set off air-raid sirens in southern communities within range of the rockets. In Gaza, the Islamic Jihad militant group claimed responsibility for the attack. It said it fired 20 rockets to avenge the deaths of three of its members killed in an Israeli airstrike the day before. Another Gaza militant group, the Popular Resistance Committees, said they fired several rockets as well. (Washington Post, Mar. 12, 2014)


SUPREME COURT RULES HEBRON’S ‘PEACE HOUSE’ BELONGS TO JEWS (Jerusalem) Israel’s Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a Palestinian appeal regarding the ownership of a contested house in Hebron, ruling that it was purchased legally by its Jewish residents. The disputed building, called Beit Hashalom ("House of Peace") by the settlers, but popularly referred to as Beit Hamerivah ("House of Dispute"), was evacuated five years ago and was a source of conflict between right-wing activists and security forces. The judges denied the Palestinian claim that the sale of the property was forged. As a result of the ruling, leaders in the settler community called on Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon to sign off on allowing the settlers to return to the building. (Israel Hayom, Mar. 12, 2014)


B’KLYN COLLEGE PRO-ISRAEL STUDENTS DESERVE MORE THAN LATE APOLOGY (New York) It’s been more than a year since four Jewish pro-Israel students (the JPI Students) were forcibly ejected from an anti-Israel talk given by two proponents of BDS, co-sponsored by and held at Brooklyn College. Finally, this past Friday, March 7, Brooklyn College president Karen Gould issued a public apology to the JPI Students. But that very-late apology should be only the very first step taken, according to the public interest law center representing those students. While the wording issued by Gould is clearly, finally, an apology, Brooklyn College has far to go before it has sufficiently rectified the wrong it did to those students. (Jewish Press, Mar. 11, 2014)


FEINSTEIN: CIA SEARCHED INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE COMPUTERS (Washington) — A behind-the-scenes battle between the CIA and Congress erupted in public Tuesday as the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee accused the agency of breaking laws and breaching constitutional principles in an alleged effort to undermine the panel’s multi-year investigation of a controversial interrogation program. Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) accused the CIA of ­secretly removing documents, searching computers used by the committee and attempting to intimidate congressional investigators by requesting an FBI inquiry of their conduct — charges that CIA Director John Brennan disputed within hours of her appearance on the Senate floor. (Washington Post, Mar. 11, 2014)


NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINES DROPS TUNISIA OVER ANTI-ISRAELI DISCRIMINATION (Miami) — Norwegian Cruise Lines dropped Tunisia from its itineraries after the country refused to allow Israeli citizens to disembark in the Port of Tunis. About 20 Israelis were quietly told before disembarking from the Norwegian Jade over the weekend that they were not welcomed by the Tunisian government. “We want to send a strong message to Tunisia and ports around the world that we will not tolerate such random acts of discrimination against our guests,” Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s CEO, said in a statement Tuesday. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL)  praised Norwegian Cruise Line for its “courageous and responsible” decision. (JTA, Mar. 11, 2014)


GREEK COURT CONVICTS DOCTOR WHO POSTED 'JEWS NOT WELCOME' SIGN (Thessaloniki)A Greek doctor who posted a “Jews Not Welcome” sign outside his office has been convicted and given a 16-month suspended jail sentence for inciting racial hatred. The doctor, a 57-year-old neurologist from the northern city of Thessaloniki, identified as Costas Kastaniotis, also was convicted of illegally possessing weapons on Friday in a court in Thessaloniki. The court fined Kastaniotis $3,500. The doctor denied that he had posted the sign, which was written in German. However, police discovered pamphlets in his office linking him to the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party. (Forward, Mar. 9, 2014)


WITH VENEZUELA IN A TAILSPIN, GROWING NUMBER OF JEWS OPTING FOR PLAN B (Caracas)They left after Venezuelan secret police raided a Jewish club in 2007, and after the local synagogue was ransacked by unidentified thugs two years later. They left after President Hugo Chavez expelled Israel’s ambassador to Caracas, and when he called on Venezuela’s Jews to condemn Israel for its actions in Gaza in 2009. With Venezuela now roiled by anti-government demonstrations — the death toll reached 18 last Saturday — Venezuelan Jews who remain have yet another reason to leave their country: growing despair. Over the last 15 years, from the time Chavez came to power and in the year since Nicolas Maduro has ruled the country, the Venezuelan Jewish community has shrunk by more than half. It is now estimated at about 7,000, down from a high of 25,000 in the 1990s. Many of those who left were community leaders. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 6, 2014) 


AS NUMBERS DECLINE, JEWISH CULTURE IN EGYPT FACES UNCERTAIN FUTURE (Cairo) — Last week, one of the few remaining Jewish Egyptians passed away, bringing closer to an end thousands of years of Jewish life in Egypt. Ms. Nadia Haroun, who died at 59, was the youngest of the 20 Jews who were left in Egypt after President Nasser forced most of the 80,000 Jewish population out of the country in the 1950s and 60s. Ms. Haroun was the sister of Magda Haroun, the head of Jewish Community Council in Cairo, and the youngest daughter of the late Chehata Haroun, a famous lawyer, writer and activist who fought for the rights of the Jews in Egypt. Magda Haroun says she is preparing to be the last to close the door on Jewish life in Egypt and hand over to the Egyptian authorities the keys of 27 synagogues and one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the world, Bassatine.  (Wall Street Journal, Mar. 5, 2014)


ISRAEL RESTRICTS EXEMPTIONS FROM MILITARY SERVICE (Jerusalem) After years of heated public debate and political wrangling, Israel’s Parliament on Wednesday approved landmark legislation that will eventually eliminate exemptions from compulsory military service for ultra-Orthodox students enrolled in seminaries. The issue has become a social and political lightning rod in a country where most Israeli Jewish 18-year-olds are subjected to compulsory military service for up to three years. Many Israelis, who see conscription as part of a deeper culture war between the secular and modern Orthodox Jews and the ultra-Orthodox, have been demanding a more equitable sharing of the responsibilities of citizenship and voted in last year’s elections on that basis. (New York Times, Mar. 12, 2014)


SHABBAT SAVES MAN FROM ILL-FATED MALAYSIAN AIRLINES FLIGHT (Kuala Lumpur) — A Jewish traveler was saved from tragedy by a last-minute decision to follow his travel agent’s suggestion not to fly on Shabbat, which is how he narrowly missed boarding the lost Malaysian Air Flight 370, the Boeing 777 that has disappeared from flight maps. On a jam packed trip, leaving from Boston, the traveler was planning to go to Sydney, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Vietnam and Melbourne. The travel agent, an Orthodox Jew, proposed the following business class itinerary, slightly altering the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight from Saturday to Friday. The traveler insisted on staying an extra day in Kuala Lumpur, but that would have meant a flight on Saturday. The travel agent responded that he would not be able to book travel for him over the Sabbath, but that he was free to book that flight by himself. (Algemeiner, Mar. 11, 2014)


On Topic Links


How Israel Lost a Media War: Lee Smith, Weekly Standard, Mar. 11, 2014—If Israel believed that exposing an Iranian arms transfer to terrorists in Gaza was a public relations coup that might make the White House think twice about making a deal with the regime in Tehran over its nuclear weapons program, then Jerusalem has fundamentally misread the Obama administration.

At the Heart of the Jewish State Issue: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Mar. 6, 2014—As we learned last weekend via Bloomberg, President Obama is obsessed with the idea that Israeli intransigence is the reason there is no peace in the Middle East.

Reflecting on Wins, Losses as Canadian Troops Prepare for Afghan Pullout: Matthew Fisher, Montreal Gazette, Mar. 10, 2014 —In soldiers’ parlance, I did six tours in Afghanistan. Over 12 years, I spent more than three years in that benighted country, covering Canada’s longest war ever, beginning in Kandahar and Kabul, then Kandahar again and the end piece, which has been a training and mentoring mission in Kabul.



Rob Coles, Publications Editor, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research/L'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284.





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Weekly Quotes

“What happened today in Cairo is a tremendous blow to peace and a great victory for terrorism. Three days ago, terrorism was dealt a resounding defeat with the elimination of Osama bin Laden. Today in Cairo it had a victory when [Palestinian Authority president] Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] embraced Hamas, an organization that condemned the American action against bin Laden and praised him.”—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, denouncing Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to reconcile with the Hamas, and calling the signing of a Palestinian “unity” deal a victory for terrorism. Previously Netanyahu had urged the Palestinian Authority to choose “peace with Israel,”and to reject Hamas because the terrorist organization “aspires to destroy the State of Israel and says so openly. It fires missiles at our cities; it fires anti-tank rockets at our children(Jerusalem Post, May 4.)


Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] and the PA must understand that it is not possible to be a partner with terrorists without being a partner to terror. The international community must not legitimize the government whose face is the face of Abu Mazen, and whose arms are the arms of Hamas, who launches missiles at citizens and stains innocents with blood. The inability of the international community to make even a declarative decision at the [United Nations] Security Council condemning Syria for the violence and murder of innocent citizens by [Syrian President Bashar] Assad’s regime, raises the question in Israel of [whether] the international community can be relied upon for its balanced and honest considerations in regards to the situation between Israel and the Palestinians.”—Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, blasting the international community for its failure to sufficiently denounce the inclusion Hamas in a Palestinian unity government, and suggesting that the international community’s moral ambiguity precludes it from acting as an honest broker in Israeli-Palestinian affairs. (Jerusalem Post, April 29.)


We must open a new strategy… We are prepared to pay any price for reconciliation.… Our plan [Hamas] does not involve negotiations with Israel or recognizing it.… Our common enemy is Israel. Israel must be fought through force.… It will be impossible for an interim government to take part in the peace process with Israel.”—Hamas prime minister Khaled Mashaal, at a ceremony in Cairo, endorsing the unity deal signed between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, and reaffirming that Hamas will never recognize Israel’s legitimacy, nor will Hamas engage in peace talks with the Jewish State. At the same event, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas opened his speech with a moment of silence for the “martyrs.” Abbas then criticized Israel for denouncing the Palestinian unity deal, saying: “Now that we announced reconciliation and everyone accepted it, they come out with a different tone and say Abu Mazen [Abbas] has to choose between the Israelis and Hamas. We said Hamas are our brothers, our family.… Hamas is part of us.”.(Jerusalem Post, May 4.)


The Palestinian Authority has chosen an alliance with violence and extremism over the democratic values that Israel represents.”—Excerpts from a statement issued by a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers, following a meeting in Tel Aviv with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, denouncing Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to form a unity government with the Hamas terrorist organization. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the powerful Republican chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee and a staunch defender of Israel, has undertaken to halt U.S. support for the Palestinian Authority: “U.S. taxpayer funds should not and must not be used to support those who threaten US security, our interests and our vital ally, Israel,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. The United States gives an average of about $400 million per year to the Palestinian Authority. (Jerusalem Post, April 28.)


The leader himself is in good health. He was not harmed.… The attack resulted in the martyrdom of brother Seif al-Arab Gadhafi, 29 years old, and three of the leader’s grandchildren. What we have now is the law of the jungle. We think now it is clear to everyone that what is happening in Libya has nothing to do with the protection of civilians.”—Libyan government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim, confirming that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi survived a NATO airstrike on one of his compounds that killed his youngest son Saif al-Arab and three of his grandchildren. In response, NATO denied targeting members of Gadhafi’s family, and released a statement saying: “NATO continued its precision strikes against regime military installations…including striking a known command and control building in the Bab al-Azizya neighborhood.… All NATO’s targets are military in nature and have been clearly linked to the Gaddafi regime’s systematic attacks on the Libyan population. We do not target individuals.”(Ynet News, May 1.)


The Islamic nation awoke to a catastrophe: the reports of the shahid (martyr) death of the sheikh, jihad fighter Osama bin Laden, in a treacherous manner, by the gangs of the heretics and those who stray. If bin Laden had indeed died as a shahid, this would not deter the resistance fighters from the path of Jihad against injustice, oppression and occupation in the world.”—Excerpts from a statement released by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party, lamenting the killing of Osama bin Laden as a “catastrophe,” and affirming the Islamic nation’s ability to “supply an abundance of new blood into the arteries of the resistance, and restore the glory of Islam and the flag of Allah’s oneness.” Meanwhile, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyehcalled bin Laden’s death “the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior.”A poll released this week by the U.S.-based Pew Research Center showed that support for bin Laden is higher in the Palestinian territories then anywhere else in the Muslim world. (Jerusalem Post & Wall Street Journal, May 3.)


The aim of the Muslim Brotherhood was…defined [by our founder], martyr Imam Hassan al-Banna: ‘The [goal] of the Muslim Brotherhood can be summarized [as being confined to] the formation of a new generation of believers, educated in the teachings of true Islam, working to ‘baptize’ the nation with the complete Islamic ‘coloring’ in all aspects of life… For this [reason, Al-Banna says]: ‘The Muslim Brotherhood…[must] govern according to a Quranic, Islamic platform.… If the [Brotherhood] does not find [people] that are ruling from the platform [of Islam], then they will work to seize it from the hands of any government that is not ruling by the decrees of Allah.…’ Nothing is deeper in error than some people thinking that the Muslim Brotherhood at any era of their mission has been a tool for any government, implementing any aim other than their own.…”—Excerpts from a Dar al-Hayateditorial written by senior Muslim Brotherhood [MB] member Issam al-Aryan, confirming that the Brotherhood’s religious political aim is to rule over Egypt through Islam. (Pajamas Media, May 3.)


I know what was probably the first thing to go through your mind when you heard the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed: Was his dead body handled properly according to Islamic tradition? Well, on behalf of the U.S. government, I am happy to tell you that yes, it absolutely was.… We didn’t like how Osama was responsible for murdering thousands of innocent men, women, and children, but that was just one aspect of the man. Another aspect was that he was a Muslim—and that was a good part of him that we greatly respect. Because Islam is a great religion. Really great.… Still, I know some of you are concerned about…whether [bin laden was killed] in accordance with Islamic tradition. Well, don’t worry; he absolutely was.… None of the Navy SEALs in the raid were eating a pork sandwich as they did it. And none of them had on them any depictions of Muhammad (PBUH). Also, the raid was done between prayer times—not during…! We can only hope that the last thing that went through Osama’s head was the thought, ‘Wow, these Americans killing me sure are respectful of my religious views.’”—Political humoristFrank J. Fleming, mocking U.S. president Barack Obama’s repetitive references to Islam during his nationally-televised speech to inform the public of Osama bin Laden’s death. Obama made clear that “Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader,” and that bin Laden was buried—his body dumped into the sea—in accordance with Islamic law. (Pajamas Media, May 3.)

Short Takes

ISRAEL OBSERVES 2 MINUTE SILENCE TO HONOR SHOAH VICTIMS—(Jerusalem) Sirens wailed throughout Israel at 10 a.m on Monday, as people observed a moment of silence in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended an official ceremony at Yad Vashem, in which he affirmed that the world had not yet learned the lessons of the Holocaust, but Israel has. This year, the central theme of Holocaust Remembrance Day was Fragments of Memory: The Faces Behind the Documents, Artifacts and Photographs, a campaign launched by Yad Vashem to collect and preserve Nazi-era documents, so that future generations may learn about the genocide of the Jewish people from first-hand sources. (Jerusalem Post, May 2.)


THOUSANDS TAKE PART IN MARCH OF THE LIVING AT AUSCHWITZ—(Jerusalem) Tens of thousands of people have taken part in the March of the Living, the annual rally held at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland honoring the six millions Jews murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Participants included Israeli President Shimon Peres, former Israeli Chief Rabbi Meir Lau, and Conference of Presidents head Malcolm Hoenlein. According to Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, who heads the March of the Living, the organization’s “goal is [to] remind Jews and non-Jews of what the Holocaust has done to the Jewish people and the entire world.” (Jerusalem Post, May 2.)


ABBAS, MASHAAL FIGHT OVER “UNITY” SPEECH—(Jerusalem) According to reports, the ceremony marking Hamas and Fatah’s reconciliation was delayed nearly two hours, due to an argument between Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas prime minister Khaled Mashaal. Arab MKs who attended the event in Cairo have confirmed that Abbas refused to allow Mashaal to sit next to him on stage. Furthermore, Abbas and Mashaal purportedly disagreed over who would give the main speech, and whether Abbas would be introduced as president of the Palestinian people or as Chairman of the Fatah Party. Hamas and Fatah have officially formed a “unity” government. (Ynet News, May 4.)


ISRAEL SUSPENDS TAX TRANSFER TO PA—(Jerusalem) Israel has suspended the transfer of tax revenue to the Palestinian Authority in response to the unity deal signed with Hamas. According to sources, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz has cancelled the latest routine handover of some NIS 300 million (approx. $88 million) in customs funds and other levies collected on behalf of the Palestinians, as stipulated in the Oslo Accords. A Treasury spokeswoman refused to confirm other reports suggesting Israeli officials would also cancel talks with Abbas aimed at updating the tax transfer mechanism between Israel and the PA, which provides it with $1 billion to $1.4 billion annually—two-thirds of its budget.(Ynet News, May 1.)


U.S. AND PAKISTAN TRY TO EASE TENSIONS—(Abbottabad, Pakistan) The Obama administration is in “damage control” mode, two days after Navy commandos killed Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil. Facing mounting domestic backlash, the White House has reaffirmed its partnership with Pakistan, after it was discovered that Pakistani intelligence officials were not warned in advance about the U.S. military operation. Pakistan, meanwhile, hardened its position against the U.S. raid; expressing “concerns and reservations” about Washington’s decision, and stressing that “this event of unauthorized unilateral action cannot be taken as a rule.” Washington’s official embrace of Islamabad comes as leading U.S. Congressional lawmakers will review, and potentially suspend, $1.5 billion in annual assistance to Pakistan. That could happen, they say, if Pakistan’s government fails to explain how bin Laden managed to live unmolested, apparently for years, just 40 miles from Pakistan’s capital. (Wall Street Journal, May 4.)


MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD LEADER TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT—(Cairo) Supporters of Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a leading Muslim Brotherhood figure, and member of the Brotherhood Shura Council, have started a campaign to support his candidacy for the presidency of Egypt. According to a leaflet prepared by his followers, Aboul Fotouh will run for president “for the sake of our country, our people, and the young men and women who have sacrificed their children and their mothers’ happiness.” Until now, the Brotherhood repeatedly denied it would field a presidential candidate in Egypt’s upcoming election. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, April 30.)


EGYPTIAN BLOGGER IMPRISONED FOR ‘ZIONIST’ VIEWS—(Jerusalem) Egypt’s ruling military council has sentenced a well-known, pro-Israel blogger to three years in prison. Maikel Nabil Sanad was given a show trial without his lawyers present and convicted of “insulting the military establishment” and “spreading false information.” On February 4, Sanad posted a video clip to his blog pleading with Israelis to support the movement to oust Mubarak: “I’m calling for solidarity from my Israeli friends with the Egyptian revolution.…” Sanad’s supporters say his pro-Israel sentiments made him an easy target for the military. (Jerusalem Post, April 22.)


EGYPT TO PERMANENTLY OPEN RAFAH BORDER CROSSING—(Jerusalem) Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby has confirmed that the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza will open on a permanent basis within seven to ten days, in order to alleviate the “suffering of the Palestinain people.” The opening of the crossing will allow greater freedom of movement for people on both sides of the border, as well as the flow of goods in and out of Gaza. Israel fears the border opening will facilitate the smuggling of weaponry into Hamas-ruled Gaza. (Haaretz, April 28.)


AHMADINEJAD ABSENCE SPARKS RUMOURS OF POLITICAL CRISIS—(Tehran) Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been absent from the public light since April 22, fuelling talks of a political crisis in Iran. The hardline president has not been seen since his attempt to get Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi to resign was overruled by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Such absence is unprecedented for Ahmadinejad, who is omnipresent in the media and is known for his near-daily public appearances and speeches. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, April 28.)

BAHRAIN EXPELS IRANIAN DIPLOMAT AS TIES WORSEN—(Jerusalem) Bahrain has declared Hujatullah Rahmani, the second secretary at the Iranian Embassy in Manama, persona non grata, and ordered the diplomat to leave the island kingdom. Ties between the two nations have worsened since Bahrain’s king declared martial law last month and allowed Saudi troops to enter the country to help contain a Shiite uprising. Opposition leaders in Bahrain have denied Iran’s role in a wave of demonstrations and sit-ins by Bahrain’s Shiite majority demanding greater political freedoms and equal rights. Bahrain’s foreign minister has confirmed that the Saudi-led force will stay indefinitely to counter perceived threats from Iran. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, April 27.)


LIBYA ARMS CIVILIANS TO FIGHT INSURGENCY—(Tarhouna, Libya) According to reports, Libyan authorities are instructing civilian volunteers, some as young as 11, in the use of automatic rifles to combat the insurgency against Col. Moammar Gadhafi. Col. Gadhafi’s government has previously been accused of distributing weapons to civilians, including children; school officials are said to be providing military training to high school students. (Wall Street Journal, April 27.)


BRITAIN REVOKES WEDDING INVITE FOR SYRIA ENVOY—(London) Britain has revoked a royal wedding invitation to the Syrian ambassador because of the violent attacks on protesters being perpetrated by the Syrian government’s security forces. More than 500 people have been killed thus far in Syria in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s authoritarian regime. The Syrian Embassy in London did not immediately comment. (Wall Street Journal, April 28.)


UK GOVERNMENT FUNDING ANTI-ISRAEL NGOS—(Jerusalem) According to a study conducted by NGO Monitor, the British government funds a large number of anti-Israel, non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The study found that many recipients of British funding pursue an intensely partisan and divisive agenda, employing the rhetoric of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “war crimes” in their reports. Pro-Palestinian NGOs funded by the UK were also found to be directly involved in the boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) denounced the findings. (NGO Monitor, April 22.)


SAN FRANCISCO SET TO BAN INFANT CIRCUMCISION—(New York) A ballot initiative is underway in San Francisco, which will ask voters to prohibit the practice of circumcision. The proposed new law would make it a misdemeanor to circumcise a person before they are 18-years-old. “We don’t come at this from a religious angle,” said Lloyd Schofield, who is spearheading the initiative. “We feel this is a very harmful thing. Parents are guardians. They are not owners of children. It’s a felony to tattoo a child.” The effort is being taken seriously in light of last year’s bizarre ban in San Francisco of toys in McDonald’s Happy Meals. (NewsRealBlog, April 27.)


ISRAELIS ‘THRIVING’—(Washington) According to Gallup’s 2010 global wellbeing survey, 63% of Israelis are “thriving”—the highest score in the Middle East and 7th in the world. Gallup classifies respondents’ wellbeing as “thriving,” “struggling,” or “suffering,” according to how they rate their current and future lives on a ladder scale with steps numbered from 0 to 10. People are considered thriving if they rate their current lives a 7 or higher and their lives in five years an 8 or higher. Gallup found that amedian of 21% across 124 countries were “thriving” last year, ranging from a high of 72% in Denmark to a low of 1% in Chad. (Gallup, April 27.)