Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

 

Contents:  Weekly Quotes |  Short Takes On Topic Links

 

 


Download a pdf version of today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf

On Topic Links

 

Before Peace Now: Palestinian Democracy First: Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 25, 2014

It's Always 'Groundhog Day' With the Israeli-Palestinian 'Peace Process': Nicole Brackman & Asaf Romirowsky, Washington Examiner, Mar. 19, 2014

Obama Loses Complete Touch with Reality: Peter Wehner, Commentary, Mar. 26, 2014

Russia Threatens More Than Neighbors: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Mar. 25, 2014

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“I think it is important that we in the free world not accept the occupation of Crimea, that we continue to resist, and sanction the occupation of Crimea, and that there be no return to business as usual with the Putin regime until such time the occupation of Crimea ends,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea during remarks in Kyiv Saturday that got wide play on Ukrainian television. (National Post, Mar. 23, 2014)

 

“Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors, not out of strength but out of weakness… The fact that Russia felt compelled to go in militarily and laid bare these violations of international law indicates less influence, not more,” U.S. President Barack Obama, during an exchange yesterday with ABC’s Jonathan Karl. (Commentary, Mar. 26, 2014)

 

"We express our total rejection of the call to consider Israel as a Jewish state," statement from the final day of the Arab summit in Kuwait. The Arab League announced on Wednesday its full backing of a Palestinian refusal to meet Israel's demand to be recognized as a Jewish state, a condition Jerusalem says it requires for peace. On Tuesday Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the Arab heads, reiterating his refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and said that the Palestinians want an independent state on "all the territories that were occupied in 1967." (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 26, 2014)

 

“I don’t see how the Palestinians or the Arab world can accept that premise, that Israel is an exclusively Jewish state,” — former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, in an interview with The Associated Press. Carter added that “this has never been put forward in any of the negotiations in which I was involved as president, or any president, before (Benjamin) Netanyahu became prime minister this time. And now it has been put into the forefront of consideration…Israel can claim `We are a Jewish state.’ I don’t think the Arab countries will contradict that Jewish statement. But to force the Arab people to say that all the Arab people that they have in Israel have to be Jews, I think that’s going too far.” Carter accepts the absurd premise of Palestinian Arabs, as well as others across the Arab world, that if Israel is recognized as a Jewish state then it means that only Jews can live there. About a fourth of Israel’s people are Arab or other non-Jewish citizens. (Associated Press, Mar. 24, 2014)

“It is ugly…People are saying: ‘Is this the history of Fatah? Collaborators, corruption and killers — is this us?’ ” Mahdi Abdul Hadi, the director of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, an independent research institute in East Jerusalem. Palestinians say they are baffled by PA President Abbas’s decision to open up another front within his own Fatah movement by beginning a nasty, public campaign against a onetime ally, who Abbas now sees as a rival, Muhammad Dahlan, a former Gaza strongman and Fatah security chief. Arabic media has been filled with unproved accusations by Abbas about the long-ago killings of prominent Palestinians, and by both men about collaboration with Israel and financial corruption. Abbas even implied that Dahlan might have had a hand in the mysterious death of Yasir Arafat in 2004. For the most part, the two camps have not offered detailed responses to all the accusations. Months ago, through an Arab-Israeli law firm, Mr. Dahlan filed a complaint against the Palestinian Authority leadership in the International Criminal Court, accusing it of corruption, violations of human rights and political and personal persecution. (New York Times, Mar. 22, 2014)

 

“Mr. President: I am writing for your immediate consideration.  It has been reported in the press and confirmed to me by a Knesset member that President Abbas requested your assistance in securing the release of Marwan Barghouti as a condition for continued peace talks with Israel.  I sincerely request that you please not assist in any way in the release of this unrepentant mass-murderer.  Tomorrow will mark 12 years since our oldest son, then seven years old, and I were wounded in a suicide bombing in downtown Jerusalem. Yehonathon had the head of a screw pass fully through his right brain, while I had two screws pass through my left arm… The role of Marwan Barghouti in this attack was revealed in indictments against the heads of the Fatah terror cell behind the attack… The media have attempted to portray Marwan Barghouti as some kind of Nelson Mandela.  The truth though is quite the opposite.  Barghouti has never renounced violence as a legitimate means for advancing political goals, and he has never shown any remorse for his prolific terror activities that led to a forty-count indictment against him.  Instead, he has encouraged additional “resistance” (i.e., terror) from his jail cell.  Barghouti’s release may convince the Palestinians to sit around the table for an extra couple of months, but it will not bring peace…” — Alan Joseph Bauer, in a letter to U.S. President Obama. In order to continue the “peace process,” the PA has again made a ridiculous demand: the release of two major terror leaders,  Marwan Barghouti and Ahmed Sadaat.  The request to release the two terrorists was made directly to President Obama. (Jewish Press, Mar. 23, 2014)

 

“Twitter, schmitter…I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic.” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a speech to supporters in the northwest town of Bursa, vowing to “root out” the social media platform. Last week Turkey’s telecommunications authority served court papers on internet companies, ordering them to pull the plug on Twitter. Turkey had become only the second country – along with China – to try to block it entirely. From a technical perspective, the ban hasn’t worked well. Millions of tweets continue to come from Turkey, despite the fact authorities have been implementing increasingly tighter controls. Turks have become adept at tweaking their internet settings by installing and using anti-censorship software. (CBC, Mar. 24, 2014)

 

“We, the members of the Christian Lobby in Israel, found it appropriate to turn to you and cry out about the human and citizens’ rights condition of our Christian brothers across the Middle East. The slaughter, persecution, discrimination, apartheid, the ethnic cleansing, and all the crimes committed against the Indigenous Aramaic & Christians of the Middle East, in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority, among others, and continue to be committed without any intervention of the Western countries,” letter from the Christian Lobby in Israel to the EU Ambassador in Israel and 18 other western Ambassadors, protesting the EU’s silence in relation to what they termed “the ethnic cleansing of Christians throughout the Middle East.” (Jewish Press, Mar. 23, 2014)

 

“Unfortunately, antisemitism at U.S. colleges, and, especially, in California, is growing at an alarming rate,” Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a University of California professor and Jewish advocacy group AMCHA Initiative cofounder. “It is a concern we hear about daily from members of California’s Jewish community, including university alumni, rabbis, professors, religious school principals and, of course, students, parents and grandparents.” The leadership of the AMCHA Initiative will testified Friday, March 21, before a California Assembly Select Committee on Campus Climate, urging members to examine campus antisemitism and to take the proper steps to ensure Jewish students feel safe and welcome at California’s colleges and universities. (Jewish Press, Mar. 21, 2014)

 

SHORT TAKES

 

US WON'T RELEASE POLLARD TO AID ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN TALKS (Washington) — Jonathan Pollard will not be released by the U.S. government in a move to extend the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. "There are currently no plans to release Jonathan Pollard," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told the Jerusalem Post, adding that Pollard was convicted "of a very serious crime, was sentenced to life in prison, and is serving his sentence." The statement came after Israel's Army Radio, citing diplomatic sources, reported Wednesday that the U.S. had agreed to free Pollard in a deal to extend the April 30 deadline on negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Pollard pleaded guilty in 1986 to passing U.S. national defense information to the Israeli government, and is serving a life sentence. (Newsmax, Mar. 26, 2014)

MOLDOVA FEARS TERRITORY'S TILT TOWARD RUSSIA (Tirasopol) The Russian annexation of Crimea is threatening to reignite a conflict in an often forgotten corner of Europe. This week, lawmakers in Transnistria, a thin strip of land sandwiched between Ukraine and the former Soviet republic of Moldova, formally asked the Duma, Russia's parliament, if it could follow Crimea and join the Russian Federation. Transnistria declared independence from Moldova in 1990, but no U.N. member recognized it. Some two decades after a brief war flared between Transnistrian separatists and Moldovan government forces, the territory has autonomous status inside Moldova, with its own government, flag, police, military and currency. Its 509,000 inhabitants are a mix of ethnic Russians, Moldovans, Ukrainians and Bulgarians. (Wall Street Journal, Mar. 21, 2014)

 

‘MOST ADVANCED’ GAZA-ISRAEL TUNNEL IS FOUND (Jerusalem) The Israeli military announced that it had uncovered a sophisticated tunnel that stretched hundreds of yards into its territory from the Gaza Strip and could have been used to attack or kidnap Israelis. Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, told reporters that fresh footprints and tools found inside the tunnel from southern Gaza suggested it had been worked on even “in the last few days,” and that its design, with many offshoots, made it “the most advanced tunnel that we’ve exposed.” The IDF found three similar tunnels under the Gaza border fence last year, but Colonel Lerner described the recently discovered one as “the most substantial.” In 2006, Palestinian militants used a tunnel to enter Israel, kill two soldiers and kidnap a third, Gilad Shalit, who was held for five years. (New York Times, Mar. 21, 2014)

 

EGYPT SENTENCES 529 MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD MEMBERS TO DEATH (Cairo) An Egyptian court sentenced 529 members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to death for murder and other offenses on Monday, in a sharp escalation of a crackdown on the Islamist movement. Family members stood outside the courthouse screaming after the verdict – the biggest mass death sentence handed out in Egypt's modern history. Supporters set fire to a nearby school in protest, state television reported. Turmoil has deepened since the army overthrew Egypt's president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, in July. Security forces have killed hundreds of Brotherhood members in the streets and arrested thousands. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 24, 2014)

 

PAN-ARAB UNITY NOT EVIDENT AT THIS WEEK’S SUMMIT (Kuwait City) Pan-Arabists claim that Arabs belong to one nation, and Arab summits tend to play lip service to such lofty ideological rhetoric, though it mostly rings hollow. Presenting this line, Kuwait’s emir and the host of this week’s Arab League summit, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, said Tuesday, “The dangers around us are enormous and we will not move towards joint Arab action without our unity and without casting aside our differences.” However, on almost every issue, the Arab states are divided on how to proceed, whether it be on Syria, Iraq, Egypt or on how to deal with Iran. Because of the divisions among the Gulf states, the US canceled a meeting scheduled for later this week between President Barack Obama and Gulf leaders. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 26, 2014) 

 

CANADIANS AMONG NINE KILLED IN KABUL HOTEL ATTACK (Kabul) A Taliban assault on the restaurant of a luxury hotel, considered one of the safest places in Kabul and frequented by foreigners and Afghan officials, has swelled a tide of violence sweeping Afghanistan two weeks before a presidential election. Three children between two and five were found with bullets in their heads. Four of the nine dead were foreigners. The Interior Ministry gave conflicting accounts of their nationalities, but by late Friday said they included citizens of Canada and Paraguay.  The Islamist Taliban movement has ordered its fighters to use "full force" to disrupt the vote, and threatened to kill anyone who participates in what it calls a Western-backed sham. (Reuters, Mar. 20, 2014)

 

CSIS TRACKS 80 ‘FOREIGN FIGHTERS’ BACK IN CANADA (Ottawa)Intelligence officials are aware of about 80 Canadians who have returned home after going overseas for “terrorist purposes,” according to speaking notes prepared for the director of the nation’s spy agency. The document does not offer explicit information about their activities, though it makes it clear that not all were involved in combat. While some individuals may have engaged in paramilitary activities, others are believed to have studied in extremist Islamic schools or provided logistical or fundraising support. Others never achieved their goals and simply returned home. The so-called “foreign fighter” phenomenon has become a growing concern for the intelligence community, stoking fears that individuals could return to Canada more radicalized than when they left. (National Post, Mar. 23, 2014)

 

BDS RESOLUTION DEFEATED AT UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN (Ann Arbor) A resolution to begin a process to divest from companies that invest or operate in Israel was defeated by the U of M student government Wednesday morning. After a six-hour session, which included speeches by dozens of students, two Jewish professors and the anti-Israel journalist and author Max Blumenthal, who used the forum to repeatedly pitch his new book, the Central Student Government voted down the resolution, 25 to nine, with five abstentions. The vote was taken by secret ballot, as some members of the CSG had said they were intimidated by proponents of the resolution at its previous meeting. The Washington Free Beacon reported on Monday that at least one pro-Israel student “received death threats and that others have allegedly been called ‘kikes’ and ‘dirty Jews’” by proponents of the resolution. (Algemeiner, Mar. 26, 2014)

 

ASSAILANTS BREAK JEWISH TEACHER’S NOSE IN PARIS, DRAW SWASTIKA ON CHEST (Paris) A Jewish teacher from Paris told police that three men had assaulted and cursed him in Arabic before drawing a swastika on his chest, according to a report by the Drancy-based Bureau for National Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA). “They pressed him to the wall and hit his face, around the eyes and on his chest,” the report said. “One of the perpetrators opened the victim’s shirt and with a black marker drew a swastika on the man’s bare chest,” BNVCA president Sammy Ghozlan wrote in the report. The victim, who was wearing a kippah at the time of the attack, told police that the three men who attacked him appeared to be of North African descent and were in their twenties. The shouted “death to the Jews” and called him “dirty Jew” in French and also shouted insults in Arabic. BNVCA has recorded a spate of antisemitic incidents in France in recent weeks. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 23, 2014)

 

NORWEGIAN MUSEUM TO RETURN LOOTED MATISSE (Oslo) A Norwegian museum says it has agreed to return a Henri Matisse artwork once looted by Nazi leader Hermann Goering to the family of Jewish art dealer Paul Rosenberg. The 1937 painting, Woman in Blue in Front of a Fireplace, has been the centerpiece of the Henie Onstad Art Center near Oslo since the museum was established in 1968. The museum said in a statement Thursday that although it acquired the painting in good faith, it has "chosen to adhere to international conventions and return the painting to Rosenberg's heirs." Norway is a signatory of the 1998 Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, which requires museums to review their collections for potentially looted works and when such a work is found, to try to locate rightful owners. (CBC, Mar. 21, 2014)

 

MOSSAD BRINGS AN END TO THE MYSTERY OF MISSING IRANIAN JEWS (Tel Aviv)Mossad has brought an end to the mystery surrounding the disappearance of eight Iranian Jews in the 1990s, the Prime Minister’s Office announced on Thursday, saying they had been murdered. The families of eight out of 11 Iranian Jews who went missing two decades ago received notifications that their relatives had been slain while trying to immigrate to Israel. In a statement, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office said that Mossad had investigated and “received from a reliable source, privy to the details, information that these Jews were captured and murdered while escaping [Iran].” The statement did not elaborate on who might have carried out the killings. The investigation into the fate of the remaining three Iranian Jews, who disappeared in 1997, remains ongoing. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 20, 2014)  

 

EUROPEAN RABBIS COMMEMORATE THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF EXTERMINATION OF HUNGARIAN JEWRY (Budapest) — More then 200 rabbis on Monday commemorated the 70th anniversary of the extermination of Hungarian Jewry by the Nazis, during a memorial in Budapest. The commemoration was organized in the framework of the two-day annual conference of the Rabbinical Center of Europe, an organization dedicated to assist rabbis across the continent. The conference brought more then 200 rabbis from across Europe and Israel in the Hungarian capital in order to discuss issues relating to assimilation and communal attrition. Singing “Ani Maamin,” a Hebrew song affirming belief in the coming of the Messiah, the Chief Rabbis, heading a long train of black clad ultra-orthodox Jews marched several blocks along the banks of the Danube River to the Shoes on the Danube Promenade, a Holocaust memorial site. (European Jewish Press, Mar. 26, 2014)

 

On Topic Links

 

Before Peace Now: Palestinian Democracy First: Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 25, 2014 President Barack Obama’s disproportionate pressure on Israel in the peace talks is both one-sided and shortsighted.

It's Always 'Groundhog Day' With the Israeli-Palestinian 'Peace Process': Nicole Brackman & Asaf Romirowsky, Washington Examiner, Mar. 19, 2014 The 1993 movie “Groundhog Day,” in which the character played by Bill Murray relives the same day over and over again, is an apt description of official Palestinian attitudes toward Israel and the peace process.

Obama Loses Complete Touch with Reality: Peter Wehner, Commentary, Mar. 26, 2014 Last week I wrote that President Obama, having been bested by Vladimir Putin at virtually every turn, has retreated into a world of his own making.

Russia Threatens More Than Neighbors: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Mar. 25, 2014 Today while speaking at The Hague during a meeting of the newly contracted G-7 Nations, President Obama threatened Russia with expanded sanctions.

 

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:ber@isranet.org

 

 

 

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine (current issue: “Israel’s Levy Report”:  ISRAZINE.

 

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by fax and e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends and family to visit our website for more information on our Briefing series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, contact us at http://www.isranet.org/.

 

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible membership contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address or “Donate” button on Website)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s Briefing series attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinion of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Institute.

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

 

 

 

CIJR PASSOVER APPEAL:
Please help us support ISRAEL & our students!

CIJR is a non-profit foundation entirely dependent
upon tax-receiptable public contributions

Tax-Deductible Donations Support CIJR’s Key Work:

* Internationally-read email ISRANET Daily Briefing;renowned ISRAFAXquarterly; weekly French-language Communiqué Isranet; and monthly ISRAZINEwebzine

* Vital work with students, including the Student Israel-Advocacy Program(SIAP), the Baruch Cohen Research Internships, and Dateline: Middle East student magazine

* Indispensable online Israel & Middle East DataBank(http://databank.isranet.org)

* Outstanding issues-related Seminars and Colloquia

To make a contribution, please phone us at (514) 486 5544
or email to cijr@isranet.org

Thank you! Happy Passover.

 

 

BREAKING NEWS:

Israel’s Attorney-General announces hearings to indict FM Lieberman

Israel’s Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein has announced that he is considering indicting Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and will hold hearings in which Lieberman’s lawyers can defend him before the indictment. The reported charges against Leiberman include fraud, breach of trust, money-laundering and harassing a witness. Sources close to Lieberman said he would not instigate a coalition crisis prior to the hearings and that the government would not topple. (Jerusalem Post, April 13.)

 

 

Weekly Quotes

The president will be speaking in greater detail about America’s policy in the Middle East and North Africa in the coming weeks. America’s core interests and values have not changed.… This includes renewed pursuit of comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace. The status quo between Palestinians and Israelis is no more sustainable than the political systems that have crumbled in recent months. And while it is a truism that only the parties themselves can make the hard choices for peace, there is no substitute for continued, active American leadership — and the president and I are committed to that.”—US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a speech at the US-Islamic World Forum, describing the U.S.’ ongoing drive to promote comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, which will include a reinvigorated US role in trying to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Last week, U.S. president Obama confided to visiting Israeli President Shimon Peres, “that with the winds of change blowing through the Arab world, it’s more urgent than ever that we try to seize the opportunity to create a peaceful solution between the Palestinians and the Israelis.” Reports suggest that US president Obama will shortly propose a new “peace” initiative, in order to deter the Palestinian Authority from seeking UN-recognition of a Palestinian state at the General Assembly in September. (Jerusalem Post, April 13.)

 

Today Robert Serry, the ‘UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process,’ present[ed] his report on Palestinian state-building efforts…[and] Serry thinks the efforts are ‘clearly on track.…’ Serry’s report is designed to assist the social promotion of the Palestinians in September, through a resolution by a body [the UN General Assembly] that lacks the authority to confer statehood on anyone, much less anyone as patently unprepared as the Palestinians.… Not to put too fine a point on it: if you can’t finish drafting your constitution; if your ‘president’ is in the seventh year of his four-year term; if you have no functioning legislature and cannot hold parliamentary elections; if half your putative state is occupied by terrorists; if your education system is a cesspool of anti-Semitism; if you insist upon dedicating public squares to those who massacred civilians; if your ruling party is corroded by corruption; if you have no free press or independent judiciary; if you cannot implement anything in negotiations that you refuse to conduct in any event; and if you haven’t finished Phase I of the Roadmap…well, you might not be ready for a state.”—Excerpts from Rick Richman’s Commentary article, entitled All Set to Be a Failed State, denouncing the notion that the Palestinians are prepared for statehood, by pointing out the blatant deficiencies that plague Palestinian society.

 

Hamas is fighting a war of attrition against us. We won’t come to terms with a situation in which they decide when there’s quiet and when the area heats up.… There was quiet, and Hamas took advantage of the quiet in order to smuggle more and more weapons. We remember when Kassams only had a range of 20 km; today they reach Beersheba and Ashdod and in the end they’ll reach Tel Aviv.… We are going to do what was agreed upon. We know how to get what was in the agreement and what we signed with Likud, without threats and without crises”—Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, in an interview with Israel Radio, denouncing the prospect of a ceasefire with Hamas, as this would not serve Israel’s national interests. Lieberman added that he is currently working towards implementing a coalition agreement, which calls for Israel to overthrow Hamas. (Jerusalem Post, April 11.)

 

With Goldstone’s admission that ‘our fact-finding mission had no evidence’ and that ‘civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy,’ the politicized NGOs that supplied these allegations have been exposed again as biased and lacking credibility. Goldstone was [part of] an orchestrated campaign led by powerful NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, Adalah, Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and Al Haq.… Israeli NGOs funded by European governments and the New Israel Fund have also played a central role in advancing the one-sided agenda of repressive regimes at the UN Human Rights Council. They have continued to lobby at the U.S. Congress, European Parliament, and the Knesset. Goldstone’s Washington Post article has exposed these campaigns as nothing more than anti-Israel propaganda.”—Professor Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, in response to Richard Goldstone’s landmark Washington Post editorial, calling on the anti-Israel NGOs that contributed erroneous information to Goldstone’s report to withdraw their discredited claims. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, April 3.)

 

The governments and peoples of the region must be vigilant and aware, not to fall pray to the conspiracy and the deception of the U.S., its allies and the Zionist regime.… The time of pillaging and imposition on the peoples of the world is over and these forms of crimes and subterfuge will not save the day anymore.… I can safely say that they will simply not be able to do anything and that this is the end of the road. With the Lord’s mercy, the people of the region will be victorious and the business of cruelty and malevolence will be shut down forever, and where the just and humane leadership will replace the inhumane and uncivilized authoritarians.”—Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in his first press conference following the Iranian new year (March 21), asserting that a new Middle East, without the specter of Israel and the U.S., is taking shape. (Pajamas Media, April 7.)

 

I was hurt very much, and I am still hurting—my family and I—from the unjust campaigns against us and false allegations that aim to smear my reputation, my integrity, my (political) stances and my military history. I agree to authorize the prosecutor-general in writing to allow him to contact, through the Foreign Ministry, all countries in the world to prove to them that I and my wife agree to show any accounts or properties I have possessed starting from my military and political career until now to prove to the people that their former president only owns domestically according to previous financial disclosure.”—Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in his first remarks since his ouster more than two months ago, denying allegations that he abused his presidential authority to amass wealth and property. Egypt’s public prosecutor has ordered that Mubarak be detained for 15 days, while an investigation takes place into his purported ownership of property abroad and foreign bank accounts; Mubarak will also be confronted about his role in the killing of protesters during Egypt’s uprising. Mubarak is currently being treated in a Cairo hospital for a “heart crisis” (Associated Press, April 10 & Jerusalem Post, April 13.)

 

There are indications that some of Obama’s advisors are aware of the need for change in Syria. However, some argue that the problem is not President Bashar al-Assad, but rather the ‘old guard’ who were put in place by his father, [former Syrian President] Hafez al-Assad, and who he [Bashar al-Assad] is surrounded by. However President Bashar al-Assad’s statements, and his policies, contradict those who say that.”—Former director for Middle East affairs at the US National Security Council, Michael Singh, describing the internal division in the White House over Obama’s policy of engagement towards Syria, and criticizing Obama’s “courting of al-Assad to achieve regional objectives, whilst ignoring what is happening inside Syria”. According to reports, Syrian forces loyal to al-Assad have killed more than 200 protesters in their attempt to suppress the intensifying civil unrest throughout the country. This reality last week prompted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to inexplicably refer to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad as a “reformer.” (Independent Media Review and Analysis, April 11 & Jerusalem Post, April 12.)

Short Takes

GAZA MISSILE HITS ISRAELI SCHOOL BUS—(Jerusalem) An antitank missile fired from the Gaza Strip has hit a school bus in southern Israel, critically wounding a teenage boy. The Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the militant group Hamas, asserted responsibility for the attack, claiming it was an act of “self-defense to protect Palestinian civilians and citizens.” In response, the IDF released a statement affirming that “[Israel] will not allow communities…to continue living under constant threat. Any attempt to terrorize…any of Israel’s citizens will be met with a response.” (Washington Post & IDF Website, April 7.)

 

ARAB LEAGUE TO ASK UN TO IMPOSE NO-FLY ZONE OVER GAZA—(Jerusalem)

The Arab League has announced that it plans to press the UN to impose a no-fly zone over Gaza, amidst an escalation in violence in the area. The announcement comes following reports that UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Robert Serry, has successfully brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, including Hamas. The purported deal stipulates that the IDF stop its air and artillery strikes against Palestinian terrorist groups, who, in turn, would halt their rocket and mortar fire at civilian population centers. (Jerusalem Post, April 10.)

 

A PALESTINIAN ‘GIFT’ FOR PASSOVER—(Jerusalem) The Palestinian Authority has honored the terrorist mastermind of the “Passover Massacre”, an atrocity which claimed the lives of 30 innocent Israeli citizens attending a Seder at Netanya’s Park Hotel on March 27, 2002. In recent weeks, the Palestinian leadership has also named a youth soccer competition in Ramallah after Wafa Idris, the first female suicide bomber, and named a square in El Bireh, as well as two schools and a summer camp, in honor of Dalal Mughrabi, commander of the March 11, 1978 massacre of 38 bus passengers on Israel’s coastal road. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, April 8.)

 

IRAN TOUTS MAJOR ADVANCES IN NUCLEAR PROGRAM—(Washington) Scientists from Iran’s atomic energy program have successfully tested advanced centrifuges for enriching uranium and are less than a month away from starting the country’s first commercial nuclear reactor, progress that Western officials say could shorten the timeline for acquiring nuclear weapons. These announcements, linked to the observance of “nuclear technology day” in Tehran, underscore recent assessments by nuclear experts that Iran is preparing to speed up its production of enriched uranium. Iran, which began enriching uranium on an industrial scale in 2007, is now thought to possess enough low-enriched fuel to make at least two bombs if the material were processed further. (Washington Post, April 11.)

 

HEZBOLLAH PREPARED TO SEND 100 MISSILES DAILY AT TEL AVIV—(Jerusalem) According to a recent WikiLeaks cable, revealed to the Israeli press by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Hezbollah is capable of striking Tel Aviv directly, from an arsenal of more than 20,000 missiles. The cable describes a Joint Political Military Group meeting in November 2009, in which Israeli intelligence officials told their US counterparts that “Hezbollah was preparing for a long conflict with Israel in which it hopes to launch…400-600 rockets and missiles…per day, 100 of which will be aimed at Tel Aviv.” (Jerusalem Post, April 8.)

 

GOLDSTONE TO FACE LIBEL SUIT—(Jerusalem) Israeli MK Danny Danon has enlisted the help of Jewish-American lawyers to file a libel lawsuit against South African judge Richard Goldstone, following his retraction of his Operation Cast Lead report, which accused Israel of war crimes. A petition will be filed with a New York District Court next week, in which the plaintiffs will demand a formal apology and a symbolic financial compensation for the State of Israel. A second lawsuit may be filed in an Israeli court. (Ynet News, April 7.)

 

MERKEL: WE WILL OPPOSE ‘UNILATERAL’ PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD—(Berlin) German Chancellor Angela Merkel has voiced her government’s opposition to a possible United Nations resolution creating an independent Palestinian state. “The Federal Republic of Germany is championing a two-state solution.… Any kind of unilateral recognition does not promote this goal,” she said, during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Merkel added that the purported conflict between her and Netanyahu reported in the media in February is “not a realistic portrayal of what happened” and noted that the German-Israeli relationship is “very intense and close.” (Jerusalem Post, April 7.)

 

LIBYAN OPPOSITION PROTESTS CEASE-FIRE MOVE RETAINING GADHAFI—(Benghazi) Libyan opposition supporters have held protests against a delegation of African Union mediators, who arrived in Benghazi following meetings with Col. Moammar Gadhafi in Tripoli, in which Ghaddafi reportedly accepted a “road map” for a cease-fire that would leave the regime in power. Opposition officials said they have little faith in the visiting African Union mediators, most of them allies of Col. Gadhafi, who preach democracy for Libya but don’t practice it at home. Rebel forces in Benghazi are demanding that Col. Gadhafi step down immediately. (Wall Street Journal, April 11.)

 

GATES PRESSES IRAQ TO DECIDE ON EXTENSION OF U.S. PRESENCE—(Mosul, Iraq) U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is pressing senior Iraqi officials to decide whether they want U.S. troops to remain in the country beyond their scheduled departure at year’s end. During the course of his trip, Mr. Gates met with Iraq’s top leaders, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, to reiterate the U.S.’ willingness to stay in Iraq beyond 2011, if invited. It is not known whether the Iraqi government will move to alter or extend the December 2008 security pact that set 2011 as the deadline for full U.S. withdrawal. (Wall Street Journal, April 8.)

 

IHH TO SEND ‘MARMARA’ BACK TO GAZA IN JUNE—(Jerusalem) The President of the Turkish group IHH, Bulent Yildrim, has confirmed his organization will again send the Mavi Marmara flotilla to Gaza in June. Speaking at an event called the “Mavi Marmara Support and Solidarity Memorial Night,” Yildrim  stated that this time his organization would be “more prepared” than it was last year, when IDF soldiers, who boarded the ship for a routine inspection, were viciously assaulted by a mob of “humanitarians.” The IHH President added that “Zionism has spread like a virus to humanity.” (Jerusalem Post, April 7.)

 

APPROVAL OF J’LEM BUILDING PLANS DELAYED—(Jerusalem) Four construction plans in Jewish neighborhoods located beyond the “Green Line” in Jerusalem have been removed from the agenda of the District Planning and Construction Committee following the Prime Minister Netanyahu’s direct intervention. According to reports, the move is aimed at preventing an “embarrassment” before a meeting of the Quartet on the Middle East, scheduled for April 15, a day after the committee was slated to discuss and approve the building plans. The Prime Minister’s Office declined comment. (Ynet News, April 11.)

 

RUSSIAN BILLIONAIRE PLANS ‘JEWISH AL-JAZEERA’—(New York) A Russian-Jewish billionaire is planning to create an international news network that will present “real information” about Israel. Alexander Mashkevich announced his intention to found a Jewish Al-Jazeera during an address at the Keren Hayasod—United Israel Appeal conference in Washington D.C. “Every day and every hour people get negative information about Israel,” Mashkevich told the conference. “Therefore, the most important thing is to represent Israel on an international level, with real information.” Mashkevich is ranked 297 on Forbes magazine’s billionaire list with an estimated fortune of $3.7 billion. (JTA, April 7.)

 

EGYPT SENDS BLOGGER TO PRISON FOR CRITICIZING ARMY—(Cairo) An Egyptian military tribunal has convicted a blogger of insulting the army, and sentenced him to three years in prison. The military court issued the sentence against Maikel Nabil Sanad, 26, without the presence of his lawyers, according to a statement by seven Cairo-based rights groups. Rights lawyers say the sentence has wide implications for freedom of expression in post-Mubarak Egypt, and could set a precedent for anyone seeking to expose abuses by the military. According to reports, more than 10,000 civilians have been convicted and sentenced by military tribunals since the army took over two months ago. (Wall Street Journal, April 11, 2011)

 

MONTREAL GROCERY STORE REMOVES, PUTS BACK STAR OF DAVID—(Montreal) A grocery store in Montreal has agreed to replace a single Star of David over a display of Passover products, after removing three large Stars following a customer’s complaint that they constituted religious “propaganda.” The Metro grocery store in Westmount was ordered by the chain’s head office to remove the Stars; however, the decision was reversed two days later after phone calls from angry local customers. Marie-Claude Bacon, director of corporate affairs for Metro, apologized for the “misunderstanding,” and suggested that “[Metro stores] are here for all [its] customers so we decided to put back the Star of David realizing we made a mistake.” (Montreal Gazette, April 7.)

 

ISRAEL EMBASSY STAFF EVACUATED FROM ABIDJAN—(Jerusalem) The staff of the Israeli Embassy in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, has been evacuated after having been trapped in the ambassador’s residence for days due to the ongoing civil war raging in the country. The evacuation took place under heavy fire between rival forces, and the acting ambassador was wounded. The injured diplomat received medical treatment at a local hospital, and has since safely arrived in Israel along with the rest of the diplomats. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, April 9.)

 

YAD VASHEM PUTS EICHMANN TRIAL ON YOUTUBE—(Jerusalem) Israel’s Yad Vashem museum has uploaded footage to YouTube of the entire trial of Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann, to mark 50years since the groundbreaking court case. Eichmann, who was captured by Israeli agents in Argentina in 1960, was brought to Israel and put on trial on April 11, 1961 for his central role in the genocide of some six million Jews. The initiative is part of a larger project launched earlier this year by Yad Vashem and Google to post all of the museum’s Holocaust documents on the Internet. The English version of the trial can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/EichmannTrialEN. (Ynet News, April 11.)