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The Soviet Spring: George F. Will, National Post, Mar. 17, 2014
Three Years of Strife and Cruelty Puts Syria in Free Fall: Anne Barnard, New York Times, Mar. 17, 2014
Obama’s Failed Foreign Policy Just Another Drag on Democrats: John Podhoretz, New York Post, Mar. 18, 2014
Iran’s Fortunes Rising in a Middle East Vacuum: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Mar. 19, 2014
“This ‘referendum’ is illegitimate, it has no legal effect, and we do not recognize its outcome,”— Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who will travel to Ukraine this week, commenting on Sunday’s “so-called referendum” in the breakaway Crimea region. Crimea voted 93 per cent in favour of seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia, according to exit polls. “As a result of Russia’s refusal to seek a path of de-escalation, we are working with our G7 partners and other allies to co-ordinate additional sanctions against those responsible.” The EU and the U.S. have said they could retaliate against Moscow as early as Monday, and Ottawa has said financial sanctions remain on the table. “[Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] reckless and unilateral actions will lead only to Russia’s further economic and political isolation from the international community,” Mr. Harper said. (Globe & Mail, Mar. 16, 2014)
“[The U.S. has a short time to find a suitable] coalition, democratic government” to replace the “junta” government in Kiev. —Political analyst Sergei Markov, who is a long-time adviser to Mr. Putin. “If this doesn’t happen, Russia will probably move to protect the Russian-speaking coalition in Donetsk, Lugansk, Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk, Mykolaev and Kherson,” Markov said, referring to several cities in Eastern Ukraine. There are fears in Ukraine that Russia will seize on the unrest and move into these regions, which, like Crimea, have a sizable population of ethnic Russians. “There is no sovereign Ukraine. It doesn’t exist. We have a junta in Kiev that was appointed by Washington,” he added. (Globe & Mail, Mar. 16, 2014)
“This is a beautiful day that we have waited for a very long time and we thank Putin for it,” —Olga Voloshanovskaya, who took part in the pro-Russian celebrations in Sevastopol, Crimea, following Sunday’s referendum. “We were part of Ukraine for some years but we always remained a Russian city. Nobody made us vote for this. It is just something that we have wanted. After seeing what the fascists did in Kyiv a few weeks ago, we could not stay with Ukraine.” Her husband, Vladimir, provided a history lesson that was on the minds of many Crimeans as they voted on Sunday. “That Crimea became Ukrainian was the mistake of Nikita Khrushchev back in 1954,” he said, referring to the long dead Soviet leader. “He made this gift because of the guilt he felt at how badly Ukraine had been repressed by Moscow. But it was never ratified by CCCP (Soviet Union) or agreed to by the people here.” (Canada.com, Mar. 17, 2014)
“This referendum is contrary to Ukraine’s constitution, and the international community will not recognize the results of a poll administered under threats of violence and intimidation from a Russian military intervention that violates international law.” — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, in a statement denouncing Sunday’s poll in Crimea. (Wall Street Journal, Mar. 16, 2014)
"We continue to hope that there is a diplomatic solution to be found," —U.S. President Barack Obama, following a White House meeting with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny. Obama continued: "But the United States and Europe stands united, not only in its message about the Ukrainian sovereignty but also that there will be consequences if, in fact, that sovereignty continues to be violated." (Reuters, Mar. 14, 2014)
“What is most troubling about Mr. Putin’s aggression in Crimea is that it reflects a growing disregard for America’s credibility in the world. That has emboldened other aggressive actors — from Chinese nationalists to Al Qaeda terrorists and Iranian theocrats. Crimea must be the place where President Obama recognizes this reality and begins to restore the credibility of the United States as a world leader,” — John McCain, Republican senator from Arizona, in a New York Times op-ed. (New York Times, Mar. 14, 2014)
“From Putin’s perspective…the United States hardly looks in retreat. To the contrary, the post-Cold War period has brought one long march by America and its allies closer and closer to the border of Russia itself,” Peter Beinart, offering his considered view that NATO expansion is to blame for Russia’s aggression in Crimea.(The Atlantic, Mar. 3, 2014)
“Thus, after the unprovoked invasion and annexation of the territory of a neighbouring democracy by a proto-dictatorship, much of the academic and journalistic world responded, not by condemning the aggressors, but by blaming the victims. While NATO’s allies in eastern Europe sought renewed assurances of its protection — and as Sweden and Finland debated joining — the smart set thousands of miles away in North America was assuring them they had it all wrong: NATO is the problem.” — National Post columnist Andrew Coin (Canada.com, Mar. 17, 2014)
“President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton traveled the world in pursuit of their promise to reset relations and to build friendships across the globe. Their failure has been painfully evident: It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office, and now Russia is in Ukraine,” —Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and the 2012 Republican nominee for president, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. (Wall Street Journal, Mar. 17, 2014)
“We had thought it would be the United States that would lead the campaign against Iran,” —Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who earlier this year called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “messianic” and “obsessive.” “People know Iran cheats,” he added, but the United States and its other Western allies “engage” Iran, leaving Israel with no choice other than “to behave as though we have nobody to look out for us but ourselves.” As for the talks with Iran, Ya’alon implied a zero rating for American and Western negotiators. “Unfortunately, when it comes to negotiating at a Persian bazaar, the Iranians are better,” according to Ya’alon. (Jewish Press, Mar. 18, 2014)
“I very much doubt that a presidential election and another seven-year term for President Bashar al-Assad will put an end to the unbearable suffering of the Syrian people, stop the destruction of the country and re-establish harmony and mutual confidence in the region,” Lakhdar Brahimi, UN Special Envoy to Syria. Syria plans to hold national elections in June or July, its ambassador to the UN said Friday. (New York Times, Mar. 14, 2014)
“Compassion does not, and should not, suffice,” —Paulo S. Pinheiro, chairman of a panel of investigators who told the UN Human Rights Council that both those fighting for and against the Syrian government are terrorizing the country’s civilian population in defiance of a recent Security Council resolution. Pinheiro added: “We cannot continue to sit for years in these rooms writing reports and making speeches lamenting the blood that is running in Syria’s streets.” But while atrocities are increasing, the international community, apart from providing humanitarian aid, “has done little but bear witness to the plight of those caught in the maelstrom,” according to Pinheiro. Mr. Pinheiro said the Syrian conflict, now entering its fourth year, had hit a new low with the death from starvation of civilians, including children, in the Damascus suburb of Yarmouk. A million Syrian children are cut off from the reach of aid agencies because of fighting or blockades, he added. (New York Times, Mar. 18, 2014)
“What is the meaning of Jerusalem for us?” —Ramadan Shalah, the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization, one of the most extreme terror groups in the world, telling religious leaders in Tehran that the Jews show their love for the city more than Muslims do, and quoted in Hebrew from an inspirational Israeli ballad to prove the point. “Learn from the Jews, from that accursed entity [Israel]. They love Jerusalem not just as a military matter, but as a cultural one,” he declared. “They have a song in the Israeli entity that their army sings on June 7, when they conquered the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Haram al-Sharif [the Temple Mount, in the 1967 Six Day War],” he added, and went on to quote part of the chorus of “Jerusalem of Gold.” “Jerusalem of gold. Jerusalem of bronze. Jerusalem of light,” he chanted, saying each phrase in both Hebrew and Arabic. “Every Israeli child and every accursed Israeli soldier says this song in their heart,” Shalah told the crowd at a clerical conference in the Iranian capital. (Elder of Ziyon, Mar. 17, 2014)
UKRAINE CRISIS NOT SEEN HURTING IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS (Vienna)— Iran and six world powers sought on Tuesday to make headway toward resolving their decade-old nuclear dispute, with Western officials expressing hope the talks would not be further complicated by the Ukraine crisis. So far, diplomats said, there is little sign that the worst East-West confrontation since the Cold War would undermine the quest for a deal over Iran's atomic activity. The March 18-19 meeting between Iran and the P5+1 powers began a day after Washington and the EU imposed sanctions on a number of Russian officials over Moscow's takeover of Ukraine's Crimea region. (Yahoo, Mar. 18, 2014)
BOMB INJURES ISRAELI SOLDIERS ALONG BORDER WITH SYRIA (Jerusalem)— An explosive device detonated along Israel’s border with Syria injured four Israeli soldiers Tuesday, according to the Israeli army. The bomb reportedly went off on the Israeli side of the border when soldiers patrolling the area of the Druze village Majdal Shams got out of an armored vehicle to inspect suspicious movements. Shortly after the incident, Israel’s army retaliated with artillery fire against military targets in Syria. Speaking in parliament Tuesday afternoon, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the border with Syria was “filling up with Jihadists and Hezbollah elements,” posing a new challenge for Israel. (Los Angeles Times, Mar. 18, 2014)
TURKISH PROTESTER, POLICE OFFICER DIE IN DAY OF CLASHES (Istanbul)— A protester in Istanbul died from a head injury and a police officer suffered a fatal heart attack during Turkey's worst day of civil unrest since anti-government protests swept the nation last summer. Riot police clashed with demonstrators in several Turkish cities last Wednesday as mourners buried a teenager, wounded in the protests last June, whose death this week after nine months in a coma sparked a fresh wave of disturbances. A defiant Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, already battling a damaging corruption scandal weeks ahead of elections, cast the latest unrest as part of a plot against the state. (Reuters, Mar. 12, 2014)
ATTACKS ON CHRISTIAN VILLAGES IN NIGERIA LEAVE 100 DEAD (Kano) — Gunmen attacked three Christian villages and killed more than 100 civilians in central Nigeria, government officials said Sunday. Police confirmed the raids by Muslim Fulani herdsman late on Friday on the villages of Ugwar Sankwai, Ungwan Gata and Chenshyi, in Kaduna state, but declined to give a death toll. Hundreds of thatched-roof huts were also set on fire. Thousands have been killed in recent years in competition for land and water between the Muslim herdsmen and Christian farmers across Nigeria’s Middle Belt. The unrest is not linked to the insurgency in northeast Nigeria by the al Qaeda-linked Boko Haram, which wants to impose sharia law in the country. (Washington Times, Mar. 16, 2014)
EGYPT CRACKDOWN BRINGS MOST ARRESTS IN DECADES (Cairo) — Egypt’s crackdown on Islamists has jailed 16,000 people over the past eight months in the country’s biggest round-up in nearly two decades, according to previously unreleased figures from security officials. Rights activists say reports of abuses in prisons are mounting, with prisoners describing systematic beatings and miserable conditions for dozens packed into tiny cells. The Egyptian government has not released official numbers for those arrested in the sweeps since the military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July. But four senior officials — two from the Interior Ministry and two from the military — gave a count of 16,000, including about 3,000 top- or mid-level members of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. (Washington Post, Mar. 17, 2014)
BID TO LEGALIZE CHILD MARRIAGE ANGERS MANY IRAQIS (Baghdad) — A contentious draft law being considered in Iraq could let girls as young as 9 get married and would require wives to submit to sex at the whim of their husbands. The proposed new measure is based on the principles of a Shiite school of religious law founded by Jaafar al-Sadiq, the sixth Shiite imam. The bill would make the father the only parent with the right to accept or refuse the marriage proposal. Also under the proposed measure, a husband could have sex with his wife regardless of her consent. The bill would also prevent women from leaving the house without their husband’s permission, would restrict women’s rights in matters of parental custody after divorce and make it easier for men to take multiple wives. (Montreal Gazette, Mar. 15, 2014)
GAZA 2-YEAR-OLD DIES FROM HAMAS ROCKET ASSEMBLY ACCIDENT (Gaza) — A two-year-old Gazan, Mohammed al-Hamadin, died on Monday from injuries suffered last week when a rocket exploded during assembly in his home in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip. The blast also killed his father, 26, and three other members of Hamas’s military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades. The rocket explosion also injured five other people in the house. Last week, Palestine Today said that the bodies of the “martyrs” were “cut to shreds” by the explosion. On Friday, a 62-year-old woman was reported to have died from a similar accidental rocket explosion, also in Beit Hanoun. Blogger Elder of Ziyon noted these accidental deaths were no longer being recorded by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), which “used to keep track of the people killed in ‘work accidents’, ‘internal explosions’ and the like. (Algemeiner, Mar. 17, 2014)
WHO KILLED ARAFAT? ABBAS SUGGESTS IT WAS RIVAL DAHLAN (Ramallah) — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has accused one of his main rivals, Mohammed Dahlan, of involvement in six murders, hinting that he might also be behind the death of former leader Yasser Arafat. Dahlan, who lives in exile in the Gulf, denied the allegations of his arch foe Abbas, their bitter row now playing out publicly across the Palestinian media and on social media. Once a prominent official in Abbas's Western-backed Fatah movement, Dahlan was ousted from the group in 2011 following accusations of corruption. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 13, 2014)
MAROIS DEFENDS PQ CANDIDATE ACCUSED OF ANTI-SEMITIC BELIEFS (Montreal)— The Parti Québécois is under fire for the second time in a week over a candidate with controversial views on the province’s religious minorities. Louise Mailloux, a prominent Quebec feminist and philosopher, said this week she stands by her belief that circumcision and baptism are similar to rape and that kosher and halal certification is a tax that goes toward funding religious wars and lining the pockets of religious leaders. The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs called on the PQ to debunk the “urban legend of the kosher tax,” saying Mailloux is echoing a conspiracy created by the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups. PQ Leader Pauline Marois instead endorsed her candidate, saying she’s a respected academic who has thought long and hard about these issues, and that her separatist Parti Québécois is not antisemitic. (Globe & Mail, Mar. 14, 2014)
JEWISH CEMETERY IN HUNGARY VANDALIZED WITH ANTI-SEMITIC SLURS (Budapest) — Unidentified vandals desecrated a Jewish cemetery in Hungary last week spray-painting swastikas and various anti-Semitic slurs on tombstones. Residents of the Jewish community in Tatabanya discovered the offensive slogans on Friday, which included “stinking jews,” “HoloLie” and “There was no Holocaust but there will be!”. “There is a very strong wave of antisemitism in Hungary,” said Zohar Meir, one of the leaders of the annual March of the Living in Hungary, “Based on past experience, these waves are getting stronger as the economic situation becomes more difficult and all the anger is taken out on the Jews,” he added. In July 2012, vandals desecrated 57 Jewish graves some 200 miles southwest of Budapest in Kaposvr. (Algemeiner, Mar. 16, 2014)
AUSCHWITZ STAMPS USED BY NAZIS FOR TATTOOING DISCOVERED IN POLAND (Warsaw) — Metal stamps with embedded needles that the SS once used to tattoo inmates at the notorious Nazi death camp at Auschwitz have been discovered in Poland. The find has been hailed by the Auschwitz museum, which now stands on the site of the camp, as one "of the most significant in years" as it was thought no original tattooing equipment survived the war. SS soldiers used the small stamps, consisting of a two, two threes and a six or a nine, to tattoo inmates as they were processed on their arrival at the camp in German-occupied Poland. Some prisoners got the tattoo on the chest but most were tattooed on their arms, and the numbers became a hallmark of Auschwitz's inhumanity. (Telegraph, Mar. 12, 2014)
ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY TO BUILD LARGEST ARCHEOLOGY LIBRARY IN MIDEAST (Jerusalem) — The Antiquities Authority announced Tuesday that it would construct the Middle East’s largest archeological library in Jerusalem. The adjacent Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel National Archeological Archives is to contain the authority’s archive as well as maps, permits, plans and publications of excavations from the British Mandate period through today, serving researchers and the public. The 35,000-square-meter campus, designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, is scheduled to be completed in April 2016. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 19, 2014)
OLDEST KNOWN MASKS IN THE WORLD ON DISPLAY IN ISRAEL (Jerusalem) — A new display in Jerusalem is showcasing the oldest-known masks in the world, believed to have originated 9,000 years ago. The 11 masks are made of stones and were discovered in the Judean desert near Jerusalem. Experts believe the masks were meant to look like skulls, with each displaying a unique personality via emotional expressions of shock or grinning. “When you go back to objects that are this old, that are so much before the theology that becomes Judaism, Christianity and then Islam, to feel that there is a kind of a connection, that this is all part of a continuous story, is something that is pretty thrilling,” said Israel Museum director James Snyder. (Jewish Press, Mar. 13, 2014)
NETANYAHU, YA'ALON EULOGIZE DECORATED WAR HERO HAR-ZION (Jerusalem) — Meir Har-Zion, the decorated IDF veteran whose commando exploits made him the personification of the Israeli military ethos, was laid to rest on Sunday near his home in the northern Jordan Valley settlement of Kochav Hayarden. He was 80. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon were among the dignitaries to eulogize him. Har-Zion was one of the best-known members of the short-lived Unit 101 force of the early 1950s. As chief of staff, Moshe Dayan once called him “the finest of our commando soldiers, the greatest Jewish warrior since Bar-Kochba.” (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 16, 2014)
The Soviet Spring: George F. Will, National Post, Mar. 17, 2014 —While Vladimir Putin, Stalin’s spawn, ponders what to do with what remains of Ukraine, remember: Nine years before the January 1942 Wannsee Conference, at which the Nazis embarked on industrialized genocide, Stalin deliberately inflicted genocidal starvation on Ukraine.
Obama’s Failed Foreign Policy Just Another Drag on Democrats: John Podhoretz, New York Post, Mar. 18, 2014—What could Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Crimea possibly have to do with the upcoming midterm elections in the United States? Indirectly, a very great deal. But only indirectly.
Iran’s Fortunes Rising in a Middle East Vacuum: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Mar. 19, 2014 —U.S. policy is increasingly impelling states in the Middle East to alter their framework of alliances. They view the United States as less and less reliable, and are seeking an alternate power instead. Possibilities include Russia, China, or – closer to home – Iran.
Three Years of Strife and Cruelty Puts Syria in Free Fall: Anne Barnard, New York Times, Mar. 17, 2014—Day after day, the Syrian civil war has ground down a cultural and political center of the Middle East, turning it into a stage for disaster and cruelty on a nearly incomprehensible scale.
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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