Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

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Contents:  Weekly Quotes |  Short Takes On Topic Links



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


Media-ocrity of the Week: “No need to be an expert to say that Israel could make Washington, Paris or Ottawa bend, knowing in advance that its diaspora, well established, will make any government submit!” —Gilles Proulx, a well-known Quebec media personality, who used his newspaper column, and an appearance on a Montreal radio show, to spout antisemitic opinions. Speaking to Radio X, he elaborated on his thinking, suggesting Jews historically provoke hate and persecution. “The diaspora is scattered around the world, where they take economic control, provoke the hatred of local nations, whether it is in Spain, for example, with the Inquisition, or again later with Adolf Hitler,” he said. Proulx has a long history of incendiary comments. During a 40-year career on radio and television, he singled out anglophones and immigrants for failing to integrate into Quebec society. (National Post, Aug. 13, 2014)


On Topic Links 


A Maori Woman Stands With Israel (Video): Youtube, Aug. 10, 2014                                                                          

Netanyahu Addresses the Foreign Press on Hamas Atrocities (Video): Jewish Press, Aug. 17, 2014  

Islamic Funeral: I See Dead People … Move (Video): Youtube, Aug. 14, 2014

Across Time and Death: Iran and the ISIS Challenge: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, JCPA, Aug. 18, 2014

James Foley Went Looking to Support Terrorists in Syria, Instead They Cut Off His Head: Daniel Greenfield, Frontpage, Aug. 19, 2014




“On August 20, 1940 Winston Churchill, Great Britain's new Prime Minister, addressing Parliament as the desperate Battle of Britain continued, with the final victory of the RAF over the Luftwaffe's assault against  England still in the balance, said of Fighter Command, "Never on the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few".  This speech, which rallied the British nation facing a Nazi cross-channel invasion should the Battle have been lost, is directly applicable today to the valiant soldiers and pilots of the Israel Defense Forces. With an attention to civilian casualties, at the risks of their own increased losses, unknown in the annals of Western warfare, the IDF is defending Israel from the Hamas terrorists' sustained rocket and tunnel assault on the civilian population.  Let us salute our brave Israeli infantry, tankers, fighter-pilots and Iron Dome personnel who, subject to an unbelievable wave of viciously unbalanced media and "international community" blindness and hypocrisy, are bravely and indefatigably defending Israel and the Jewish people.  Once again, never have so many owed so much to so few; and once again, in the face of Hamas' genocidal antisemitic campaign, we Jews repeat, "Never again!",  —CIJR Director Prof. Frederick Krantz, from an Address to the Jewish People, Montreal, August 20, 2014


"The Cairo talks were based on an agreed premise of a total cessation of hostilities," —Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev. "When Hamas breaks the cease-fire, they also break the premise for the Cairo talks. Accordingly, the Israeli team has been called back as a result of today's rocket fire,” said Regev, adding: “This is the 11th Ceasefire that Hamas has either rejected or violated.”  An Egyptian effort to broker an end to a month-long war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip appeared to collapse Tuesday after Israel walked out on the talks in response to a barrage of Palestinian rocket fire. (Huffington Post, National Post, Aug. 19, 2014)


"I hope that it is clear now that the policy of 'quiet will be met with quiet' means that Hamas is the one that takes the initiative and the one that decides when, where, and how many rockets it fires on Israeli civilians, while we are making do with reacting. Even if our reaction is a strong one, it is still a reaction," —Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, in a Facebook post titled "Bring Hamas to submission." Liberman implicitly criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, accusing him of surrendering the initiative to Hamas in the wake of the collapse of the latest cease-fire in the South. "Hamas has control over the intensity of the fighting and it fires whenever it is convenient for it to interrupt the daily routine of Israeli civilians, particularly those living in the South," the foreign minister wrote. "The proposals we have heard thus far whereby there is no deal, no agreement, and no unequivocal commitment by the Palestinians to halt their fire means that we are in for a war of attrition, which is something that the State of Israel cannot be dragged into…We are also hearing proposals from certain politicians who advocate unilateral steps," Liberman said. "These politicians are suffering from memory lapse, as I would like to remind you that a unilateral measure known as 'disengagement,' which has already been carried out in Gaza, has yielded the results for which we are paying today." (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 20, 2014)


"I can assure you now, that business as usual will be no more. Status quo no more," —Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian negotiator, from his office in Ramallah. "If the international community, the Camerons, the Kerrys, the Fabiuses of this earth – after these massacres that have been committed against the Palestinians – will just tell the Palestinians and Israelis, 'we invite you back to negotiate' – this is not going to happen," Erekat added. Erekat, one of the key architects of the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and Palestine, issued the ultimatum to the international community during ceasefire negotiations in Cairo last week. Erekat revealed that Palestine intends to become a member of the International Criminal Court "this month", in a bid to hold Israel accountable for possible war crimes committed in Gaza. "We believe that Israel as an occupying power has no right to bombard an area that it occupies like Gaza with missiles, with F15s, F16s,[and] Apaches. We believe that these are the war crimes", he said, adding: "I want the Israelis to defend themselves in the ICC – and not to say that they are defending themselves with missiles, massacring women and children." (Telegraph, Aug. 15, 2014)


“They’ve got to get this done because the wolf’s at the door,” —U.S. President Barack Obama. Obama hailed the recapture of Mosul dam Monday as a “major step forward” as a barrage of U.S. airstrikes helped Kurdish and Iraqi forces score the biggest victory of its counteroffensive against the Islamic State militants. “We’ve got a national security interest in making sure our people are protected and in making sure that a savage group that seems willing to slaughter people for no rhyme or reason other than they have not kowtowed — that a group like that is contained because ultimately it can pose a threat to us,” Obama told reporters. Islamic extremists captured the Mosul dam on Aug. 7. Had the dam on the Tigris River had been breached it could have had catastrophic consequences and endangered American Embassy personnel in Baghdad. (Globe & Mail, Aug. 18, 2014)


“The people of Amerli are reaching the end of their strength and the Islamic State’s jackals are waiting for their chance to overrun the town,” —Michael Knights, who has visited the town and describes it now as a “hellish cauldron where 12,000 people are being starved and bombed by ISIS.” Amerli is only 180 kilometres north of Baghdad and the Iraqi army is only 30 km away, but it is powerless in the face of the terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), said Mr. Knights. U.S. airstrikes could save the town, but America has taken no action. “By the U.S. lifting its little finger, two or three drone strikes are going to save 12,000 people, that’s what makes what is happening there so uniquely dreadful,” he said in an interview. In an article for Foreign Policy magazine, the specialist in the military and security affairs of Iraq, Iran, and the Persian Gulf states added, “This is Iraq’s other humanitarian crisis, the one no one seems to care about.” (National Post, Aug. 15, 2014)


“Beheading Shias is a beautiful thing,” —Tweet from June on a Twitter account believed to belong to Mohamed Shirdon, a young Calgary man who is believed to have been killed in Iraq fighting for ISIS. It’s unclear when he joined the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham but in an ISIS video that surfaced four months ago, Shirdon can be seen burning his Canadian passport and threatening Canada and the United States. Shirdon is one of several Calgary men who went overseas to fight for extremist groups in recent years. In January Calgarian Damian Clairmont died in Syria after converted to Islam following a suicide attempt. In November 2013 Pakistani-Canadian Salman Ashfrafi was blamed for a suicide bombing that killed 19 Iraqis. (National Post, Aug. 15, 2014)  


“It’s a continuation of a trend that has quite a history, and not merely with Proulx but with other radio commentators in Quebec over the last several years,” —Ira Robinson, CIJR Academic Fellow and interim director of the Institute for Canadian Jewish Studies at Concordia University. Prof. Robinson said he has seen a trend for the past six years or so where Quebec radio commentators have increasingly been giving airtime to people with controversial views. “There’s a sort of discourse in francophone Quebec where this sort of thing comes forth. Quebec is the kind of place where these controversial issues are discussed much more openly than in English Canada,” Mr. Robinson said. (National Post, Aug. 13, 2014) 





PALESTINIANS SAY ISRAELI AIRSTRIKE TARGETS TOP HAMAS COMMANDER IN GAZA (Gaza) —Palestinians on Wednesday accused Israel of attempting to assassinate the top Hamas military commander in the Gaza Strip, killing his wife and child, a day after negotiations for a permanent truce broke down amid renewed rocket fire from Gaza and retaliatory strikes by Israel. Hamas said the Israeli missile strike targeted its top commander, Mohammed Deif, and “opened the gates to hell.” The Israeli F-16 attack hit the Gaza City home of Mohammed Yassin Dalu, reportedly the head of the Hamas rocket division. It is not clear whether either Deif or Dalu survived this attack. Dalu was the target of an Israeli strike on his home in November 2012 that killed 12 people, including four of his children. The shadowy Deif is reported to be the mastermind behind extensive tunnel networks in Gaza. Israeli officials say he has waged terrorist campaigns and an asymmetric war against Israel for decades, and he has survived repeated Israeli attempts to assassinate him, earning him the moniker “the cat with nine lives.” (Washington Post, Aug. 20, 2014)


B’TSELEM’S GAZA WAR STATISTICS UNDER FIRE (Jerusalem) —Two organizations in Israel have cautioned against accepting casualty figures coming out of Gaza. Both the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Center and NGO Monitor criticized the verification methods of the left-wing human rights group B’Tselem for its claims of Gaza casualty numbers that were recently released for Operation Protective Edge. The Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor issued a report in which it concluded that “B’Tselem presents what it terms ‘initial’ and ‘preliminary’ data, but these are inherently unverifiable and based solely on information from Palestinian sources in Hamas-controlled Gaza.” NGO Monitor leveled criticism against B’Tselem for relying on the Hamas Health Ministry in Gaza as its “primary source for casualty claims,” asserting that “B’Tselem has no independent sources of information in Gaza…its only source of independent information is from telephone interviews with Gaza residents, whose claims cannot be verified.” (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 20, 2014)


ISRAEL LETS WOUNDED PALESTINIANS FLY FROM BEN-GURION TO TURKEY FOR MEDICAL AID (Tel Aviv) —On Wednesday Israel permitted 17 wounded Gazans to fly for medical help from Ben-Gurion Airport, which Hamas has targeted,   to Turkey, whose leader has likened Israel to the Nazis. The Foreign Ministry issued a statement Wednesday saying that a second group of 17 Palestinians wounded in the recent fighting will be flown to Turkey for medical treatment. Each patient will be accompanied by one family member. Following the announcement last week of a 72-hour cease-fire, Turkey's foreign ministry – which along with its newly elected president Recep Tayyip Erdogan – have been vitriolic in their criticism of Israel, approached Jerusalem with a request to transfer wounded Palestinians from Gaza for treatment in Turkey. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 20, 2014)


HAMAS IN WEST BANK 'PLANNED TO TOPPLE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY' (Ramallah) —A large-scale Hamas terrorist formation in the West Bank and Jerusalem planned to destabilize the region through a series of deadly terrorist attacks in Israel and then topple the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said Monday. The Shin Bet announcement was a follow to a Jerusalem Post story regarding the indicting of Hamas's West Bank leader, dozens of his operatives, and a massive plot to recreate Hamas's West Bank infrastructure on August 7. The plot was orchestrated by overseas Hamas operatives headquartered in Turkey, and centered on a string of mass-casualty terrorist attacks on Israeli targets, the Shin Bet added. The end goal was to destabilize the Palestinian territories and use the instability to carry out a military coup, overthrowing the government of PA President Mahmoud Abbas. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 18, 2014)


ISLAMIC STATE CLAIMS IT EXECUTED AMERICAN PHOTOJOURNALIST (Damascus) —The Islamic State claimed Tuesday to have beheaded an American photojournalist in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. A video posted on YouTube, later removed, purported to show the execution of James Foley after he recited a statement in which he called the U.S. government “my real killers.” A second prisoner, said to be Steven Joel Sotloff, like Foley an American journalist who disappeared while covering Syria’s civil war, then appears in the video. The masked executioner, speaking in English with what sounds like a British accent, identifies Sotloff and says that “the life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.” Foley, 40, was working in Syria for the Boston-based news Web site Global­Post when he disappeared on Thanksgiving in 2012. (Washington Post, Aug. 20, 2014)


YAZIDI AND CHRISTIAN LEADERS TO UNITE IN GENEVA, DEMAND UNHRC ACTION (Geneva) —Breen Tahseen, an Iraqi diplomat whose father, Prince Tahseen Saeed Bek, is the leader of the Yazidi people, will join together with leaders from the Iraqi Christian community at a rally tomorrow in Geneva calling for the UN Human Rights Council to meet urgently on the destruction of minorities in Iraq. Organized by the Geneva-based non-governmental human rights group UN Watch, the rally will call on UN rights chief Navi Pillay to take action to convene an urgent session of the 47-nation council on the ISIS atrocities in Iraq against minorities, echoing a recent appeal by more than 20 MPs and human rights activists. UN Watch has also arranged for the Yazidi and Christian leaders to meet with key diplomatic figures in the UNHRC system. (UNWatch, Aug. 18, 2014)


US BANS FLIGHTS OVER SYRIA AS REPORT WARNS OF THREAT TO AIRLINERS (Damascus) —Armed groups in Syria have several hundred portable anti-aircraft missiles that could easily be diverted to extremists and used to destroy commercial planes, according to a new report by an international arms research group. The report was released a few hours after the Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice to US airlines banning all flights in Syrian airspace. Most American and other commercial airlines already have halted flights over and into Syria during the past three years of conflict between the Assad government and insurgents. Citing the threat of missile strikes, the FAA warned American carriers in May 2013 to avoid Syrian airspace, and on Monday this was stepped up to a total ban. (Guardian, Aug. 19, 2014)


PAKISTAN PROTESTERS MARCH ON PARLIAMENT (Islamabad) —The Pakistani government on Tuesday called in the army to protect government and diplomatic buildings in the capital, raising the stakes ahead of a showdown with protesters who want to topple Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and Muslim cleric Tahir ul Qadri led thousands of highly-charged followers to enter Islamabad's Red Zone, which houses Parliament, the prime minister's house and office, and numerous embassies and ministries. Mr. Khan announced that if Mr. Sharif doesn't resign by Wednesday night he would take the protest to the prime minister's house. Aides to Mr. Sharif and many opposition politicians privately say they are convinced that the protesters are secretly backed by the military, which has been at odds with the 14-month-old government over a range of issues, especially the prime minister's determination to prosecute former army chief Pervez Musharraf for treason. Mr. Musharraf ousted Mr. Sharif's last government in 1999 and ruled until 2008. (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 19, 2014)


UK SUPERMARKET SAINSBURY'S REMOVES KOSHER GOODS (London) — A Central London branch of Sainsbury's, Britain's third largest supermarket chain, removed UK-made kosher goods from their shelves this weekend in an apparent stand with 'Free Gaza' protesters. While the central Twitter account of the national chain denied that it was a protest, customers visiting the store have reported that staff claimed that the goods were being removed to coincide with anti-Israel protests. The news comes shortly after a report about anti-Israel protesters trashing a Tesco store in Birmingham. Sainsbury's apologized on Monday for removing the kosher food, following an outpouring of outrage on social media. (Breitbart, Aug. 17, 2014)


WHITE HOUSE NOW SCRUTINIZING ISRAELI REQUESTS FOR AMMUNITION (Washington) —White House and State Department officials who were leading U.S. efforts to rein in Israel's military campaign in the Gaza Strip were caught off guard last month when they learned that the Israeli military had been quietly securing supplies of ammunition from the Pentagon without their approval. Since then the Obama administration has tightened its control on arms transfers to Israel. In addition, current and former American officials say, U.S.-Israel ties have been hurt by leaks that they believe were meant to undercut the administration's standing by mischaracterizing its position and delay a cease-fire. The battles have driven U.S.-Israeli relations to the lowest point since President Barack Obama took office. (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 14, 2014)


ANTI-ISRAEL PROTESTERS DEMAND END TO US MILITARY AID TO ISRAEL (Los Angeles) —Nearly a dozen anti-Israel protesters were arrested after having been removed from the Los Angeles, California office of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Monday afternoon, Aug. 18, according to a report in a far left website. The group included members of Jewish Voice for Peace and American Muslims for Palestine, as well as some clergy members. The protesters staged a sat-in Feinstein’s office and refused to move until their demand was met. They demanded a meeting with Feinstein because they want to prohibit any further U.S. military aid to Israel. Another group staged a sit-in against support for the measure at the senate office of another progressive California senator, Barbara Boxer, but that group was dispersed after a shorter period of time. Taher Herzallah, national campus coordinator with American Muslims for Palestine, is part of the team of activists and clergy who sat in at Feinstein’s office. Herzallah is also a community organizer with the California branch of the American Civil Liberties Union and was an intern with the California office of the Committee on American Islamic Relations. (Times of Israel, Aug. 19, 2014)


20,000 MARCH IN INDIA IN SHOW OF SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL (Kolkata) —In what is being called by organizers the biggest pro-Israel, anti-terrorist rally in recent years, an estimated 20,000 gathered in India on Saturday in a show of solidarity with Israel. Protesters holding pro-Israel banners marched through the streets of Kolkata, while community heads delivered speeches proclaiming Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas. “The destiny of both India and Israel as thriving democracies are intertwined. We both share the same values,” said rally organizer Tapan Ghosh. The August 16 event was organized by a political movement known as Hindu Samhati in memory of Gopal Mukhopadhyay, who, according to press material, is “a local hero who saved many innocent lives during the Great Calcutta Killing in 1946.” (Times of Israel, Aug. 17, 2014)




It is with great sadness that the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research  notes the passing of Irwin G. Beutel. The generous and resourceful head of our Board for well over a decade, Irwin was a key force in helping to build CIJR into the world-class pro-Israel academic think-tank which it is today.  An internationally-known and unfailingly generous pro-Israel philanthropist and community leader, he supported many institutions, and his achievements were recognized both here and in Israel. Irwin had an encyclopedic knowledge of the community and an unfailingly clear and sound judgement. He was particularly interested in supporting Jewish students, at all stages of development, and off- as well as on-campus.  Irwin supported CIJR's development of the unique Israel Learning Seminar, designed to help students develop the knowledge needed to confront antisemitism on campus, and we are proud that our regular public program includes the annual Irwin G. Beutel Student Activism Colloquium. All of us here at CIJR, our National Board, Academic Council, and Student Committee, valued his friendship, his wonderful sense of humor,  and his wise counsel: one of the Lamed Vavniks, the 36 kedoshim who in each generation assure the continuity of the world, Irwin was a truly good man and an unfailing friend, a real Mensch in the deepest and best sense of the term.  We will miss him deeply, and extend our heartfelt sympathy to his family and friends. (The funeral will be on Friday, Aug.22, 2014, 12:00 noon, at Paperman's.)


Frederick Krantz, Director

Baruch Cohen, Research Chairman

Jack Kincler, Board Chairman

Canadian Institute for Jewish Research






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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Media-ocrities of the Week


As a traveler, I am not a particularly choosy person. I will go pretty much anywhere, anytime. Wander on horseback into the mountains of Kyrgyzstan? Why not? Spend the night in a sketchy Burmese border town? Sure!… In fact, of all the world’s roughly 200 nations, there was only one…that I had absolutely zero interest in ever visiting: Israel. This surprised friends and mildly annoyed my parents.… As a Jew, especially one who travels constantly, I was expected at least to have the Jewish state on my radar, if not to be planning a pilgrimage in the very near future.… But to me, a deeply secular Jew, Israel has always felt less like a country than a politically iffy burden. For decades I’d tried to put as much distance between myself and Judaism as possible, and the idea that I was supposed to feel some connection to my ostensible homeland seemed ridiculous. Give me Montenegro, Chiapas, Iran even. But Israel was like Christmas: something I’d never do.”—Matt Gross, in “Lost in Jerusalem,” an article appearing on the front page of the New York Times’ Travel section, prefacing a discussion of his first trip to Israel by challenging the sensibility of the Jewish people’s national aspirations. Gross goes on to describe his trip as “walking a tightrope between belonging and individualism,” and being particularly affected by the “sinuous, ominous wall separating Israel from the West Bank,” as well as the “Israeli guards in the Old City [who] would interrogate and search [him] on the way back to [his] guesthouse.” Overall, Gross was “amazed at what true believers will do, and submit to, in the name of their faith.… [Israel] was an experience for other people, not for [him].” (NY Times, January 13.)


It is an act of deliberate vandalism to the basic premise on which negotiations have taken place for years and years and years.”—British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, at a press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, describing Israeli settlement construction as “vandalism,” and accusing Israel of undermining attempts to broker a Middle East peace. In response, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon blasted the “ill-informed” Clegg, calling his comments “gratuitous,” “ unfortunate,” and “irresponsible.” [NB: There is no stipulation in the Oslo Accords that requires Israel to halt or curb settlement construction. Nor did building in settlements in any way inhibit Israeli-Palestinian negotiations between 1994 and 2008. Rather, the halting of Israeli construction beyond the Green Line became a precondition for talks only after US President Barack Obama demanded in 2009 that Israel implement a total “construction freeze” to jump-start negotiations, a position adopted and still assumed by Abbas—Ed.]. (Haaretz, January 12.)


We condemn any assassination or attack on an innocent person, and we express our sympathies to the family.”—US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, denouncing the assassination last week of an Iranian nuclear scientist in Tehran. Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council, denied any U.S. involvement, saying, “The United States had absolutely nothing to do with this. We strongly condemn all acts of violence, including acts of violence like this.” Iran blamed Israel, primarily, for the attack and threatened revenge. (JTA, January 12.)

Weekly Quotes


The sanctions employed thus far are ineffective, they have no impact on the nuclear program. We need tough sanctions against the central bank and oil industry. These things are not happening yet and that is why it has no effect on the nuclear program.”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, claiming the existing sanctions against Iran have not curbed its nuclear program, and calling for hardened measures against Tehran’s central bank. (Ynet News, January 16.)


The normal trade relations and energy cooperation between China and Iran have nothing to do with the nuclear issue. We should not mix issues with different natures, and China’s legitimate concerns and demands should be respected.”—Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister, Cui Tiankai, confirming China will maintain normal trade ties with Iran. (Independent Media Review and Analysis. January 10.)


For the American government, the crash of the RQ-170 drone in Iran was an embarrassment. For the Iranian government, it was a propaganda victory. And for at least one company…it could be a windfall. An Iranian firm, seeking to capitalize on the frenzy that followed the crash of the drone—and American calls to have it returned—is now producing miniaturized toy versions of the craft. Most of the toys…have already been snapped up by Iranian government organizations.… At least one model—a pink one—has been reserved for President Obama. ‘He said he wanted it back, and we will send him one,’ said Reza Kioumarsi, the head of cultural production at the Ayeh Art group.”Thomas Erdbrink, describing the production and distribution by an Iranian company of mock replicas of the US stealth drone that crashed last month in Iran. (Washington post, January 17.)


I withdrew because I found myself serving the (Syrian) regime. How was I serving the regime? I was giving the regime a greater chance to continue its killing and I could not prevent that.”—Anwar Malek, explaining he quit the Arab League observer mission to Syria after witnessing “scenes of horror,” and confirming the monitoring team was not acting independently. According to the General Committee of the Syrian Revolution, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brutal crackdown on protests continues unabated, and that “the regime’s victims have exceeded the 6275 barrier since the outbreak of the revolution.” (Reuters, January 11 & Independent Media Review and Analysis, January 16)


The Arab League and their monitors failed in their mission and though we respect and appreciate our Arab brothers for their efforts, we think they are incapable of improving conditions in Syria or resisting this regime. For that reason we call on them to turn the issue over to the UN Security Council and we ask that the international community intervene because they are more capable of protecting Syrians at this stage.”—Riad al-Asaad, a Turkish-based leader of the Free Syrian Army, calling for foreign intervention in Syria due to the failure of the Arab League mission to curb the violence in the country. Syria’s Foreign Ministry immediately denounced al-Asaad’s] assertion, issuing a statement saying “The Syrian people refuse any foreign intervention in any name. They will oppose any attempt to undermine the sovereignty of Syria and the integrity of its territory. It would be regrettable for Arab blood to flow on Syria’s territory to serve known [interests].” (Reuters, January 17 & National Post, January 18.)


The radical axis is trying to retain its power.… Iran and Hezbollah are increasing their efforts to help the Assad regime survive by providing intelligence, weaponry, and other capabilities—to the point where they are actively involved.”—Head of Israel’s Military Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, confirming that Iran and Hezbollah are actively assisting in Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brutal crackdown on anti-regime protests. (Jerusalem Post, January 11.)


I am deeply concerned about the military capacity of Hezbollah and also concerned about the lack of progress in disarmament.”—UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, reaffirming his concern over Hezbollah’s military prowess, and urging Lebanon to reconvene talks on disarming the terrorist group. In response, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah dismissed Ki-moon’s statements, reiterating “firmly, decisively and with the greatest conviction…the choice of armed resistance.” (AFP & Reuters, January 14.)


That’s a major concern because I don’t know who is going to own those the day after. Up till now, what has been transferred to Hezbollah? What will be transferred to Hezbollah? What will be divided between those factions inside Syria? What is that going to create?…”—Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, head of the Israeli military’s planning division, voicing Israel’s concern over the eventual fate of Syria’s “huge stockpiles of chemical [and] biological [as well as] strategic capabilities that are still going into [the country].” Last week, a Russian ship bound for Damascus was stopped in Cyprus and found to be carrying 60 tonnes of arms. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, January 17.)


Obviously when you have a country that is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists, when you start seeing that sort of activity against their own citizens, then yes, not only is it time for us to have a conversation about whether or not they belong in NATO, but it’s time for the United States, when we look at their foreign aid, to go to zero with it.”—Republican presidential candidate, Rick Perry, comparing Turkey’s AKP government, led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to Islamic terrorists and questioning whether Turkey should remain in the NATO alliance and continue receiving US aid. The US State Department, which typically does not comment on domestic political campaigns, condemned Mr. Perry’s allegation, with spokesman Mark Toner saying, “We absolutely and fundamentally disagree. Turkey is a strong partner in the region…and it is often cited as an example of so-called Islamic democracy in action.” (Reuters & National Post, January 18.)


Short Takes


OBAMA WARNED ISRAEL AGAINST IRAN STRIKE—(Jerusalem) According to Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth, the Obama administration is working frantically to prevent an Israeli strike on Iran, after Israeli state officials publicly stated that the sanctions against Tehran were not sufficient. Last Thursday, US President Obama reportedly spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and warned him of the serious consequences of a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Additionally, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top American officials have allegedly sought assurances from Israeli leaders that no action would be taken without US consent. However, the Israeli response has allegedly been noncommittal, leading to speculation that Netanyahu is planning to carry out an attack. US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey is scheduled to meet with Israeli military officials in Tel Aviv this week, with Iran expected to be the main focus. (Ynet News, January 15.)


IRAN WARNS SAUDIS NOT TO USE SPARE OIL CAPACITY—(Montreal) Iran has warned Saudi Arabia to withdraw an offer to increase oil output should sanctions placed on Tehran’s central bank cause market shortfalls. Iranian Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, urged Riyadh to “reflect” on its “not friendly” pledge to use its spare capacity to compensate for any reduction in Iran’s oil sales that could result from efforts to tighten sanctions over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program. Meanwhile, diplomats in Brussels said the European Union could have an embargo on Iranian oil imports in force by July, as a compromise takes shape between champions of tougher sanctions and member states that rely heavily on purchases from Iran. The 27-nation bloc consumes approximately 450,000 barrels per day of Iranian oil. (Gazette, January 18.)


IDF PREPARING FOR MAJOR GAZA ACTION WITHIN MONTHS—(Jerusalem) The IDF General Staff has ordered the Southern Command to prepare for a possible large Gaza operation that could occur within the next few months—including finalizing operational plans and distributing them to various units that would be deployed inside Gaza. The Gaza Division, under the command of Brig.-Gen. Yossi Bachar, is spearheading the preparations for the prospective operation, which senior officers say could be significantly larger than Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009. According to a senior IDF official, “Gaza has changed and the weaponry in Hamas’s and Islamic Jihad’s hands has significantly grown in quantity and quality.” In 2011, 680 rockets and mortar shells were fired into Israel from the Strip, including 80 long-range Grad-model Katyusha rockets compared to just 2 Grads in 2010. (Jerusalem Post, January 16.)


APOLOGY SOUGHT FROM B.C. PAPER OVER ANTI-ISRAEL EDITORIAL—(Toronto) Canadian Jewish organizations are demanding an apology from a British Columbia community newspaper that published an editorial calling Zionism a cancer and saying U.S. policies on the Middle East are a result of Jews who “monopolize most of the academic and intellectually demanding positions.” The column, “Racism, Capitalism, And Zionism Are The Worst Cancers Affecting The World,” appeared in the Surrey-based Link newspaper and urged readers “to compare the percentage of Jews amongst doctors, attorneys, university professors, and scientists in America to any European country, and even to Canada, [claiming] the result of this situation is that America has taken an anti-Islamic, anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab stand.” Paul Dhillon, editor-in-chief of the twice-weekly paper, said the Link published Dr. Sawraj Singh’s piece as his arguments were deemed debatable. (National Post, January 11.)


ISLAMIST SET TO BE EGYPT’S NEW PARLIAMENT SPEAKER—(Cairo) Leading Egyptian political parties are backing Mohamed al-Katatni, Secretary-General of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), to assume the role of House speaker. The prime task of the new parliament will be to pick a 100-strong assembly to write a constitution, and liberals fear that sweeping gains by Islamists in the recent elections will lead to more religious strictures. Unofficial results of Egypt’s three-stage election suggest the FJP secured 232 seats, or 46 percent, while the Islamist Nour party on 113 seats, or 23 percent. Members of parliament will formally choose the speaker when they gather for the first time on January 23. (Reuters, January 16.)


US HOLDS HIGHEST-LEVEL TALKS YET WITH BROTHERHOOD—(Jerusalem) The chief assistant to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has met with leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood—Washington’s highest-level talks yet with the Islamist. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed that Deputy Secretary of State William Burns met with the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, along with several other party representatives, at its new headquarters in Cairo. According to reports, Burns’ visit is meant to lay the foundation for “re-engagement” with the Brotherhood, after the party claimed approximately 40 percent of votes in elections that followed the February overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. (Jerusalem Post, January 11.)


EGYPT CANCELS ANNUAL ISRAELI PILGRIMAGE TO JEWISH TOMB—(Cairo) Egypt’s Foreign Ministry has told Israel that it will be “impossible” for Israeli pilgrims to make an annual visit to the tomb of a 19th-century Jewish holy man in the Nile Delta “because of the political and security situation in the country.” Ceremonies at the tomb of Rabbi Yaakov Abu Hatzira have triggered yearly political sparring in Egypt throughout most of the last decade, with opponents criticizing the government of pursuing an unpopular policy of normalization with the Jewish state. Gamal Heshmat of the Muslim Brotherhood, the organizer of protests against the pilgrimage, said that visiting Abu Hatzira’s gravesite would be a “suicide mission” for Israelis, and stressed that “normalization (of relations) with Israel is forced on the people, and the visits come against the will of the people and despite popular rejection.” Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, denounced Egypt’s attempt to “curb religious freedom of Jews.” (Associated Press, January 11.)


BULGARIA FOILS ATTACK AGAINST ISRAELIS—(Jerusalem) A suspicious package found on a bus carrying Israeli tourists from Turkey to Bulgaria has caused Israel to boost security for its citizens traveling overseas. Bulgarian authorities have reportedly launched an investigation to determine what was inside the package and who placed it on the bus, and has also increased its presence at the country’s top winter resort called Bansko, which is frequented by Israelis. Israel is concerned Hezbollah will try to attack Israelis abroad in the coming weeks and ahead of the fourth anniversary of the assassination of Hezbollah military commander Imad Mughniyeh, attributed to the Mossad. Over the years there have been reports of a number of Hezbollah plots that were thwarted, including an attempt to bomb the Israeli embassy in Azerbaijan. (Jerusalem Post, January 8.)


ISRAEL ISSUES SEVERE WARNING AGAINST TRAVEL TO BANGKOK—(Jerusalem) Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau has issued a “severe travel warning” to nationals, advising against travel to Bangkok “in the near future” and to “avoid congregating at known spots favored by Israelis, watch out for suspect items and not to accept packages from strangers in Bangkok.” The warning followed an announcement by Thailand’s deputy prime minister Chalerm Yoobamrung that Thai authorities arrested a Lebanese citizen after being warned by Israel of a possible attack. “A Lebanese suspect from the Hezbollah group has been taken into custody…and police are investigating further,” Yoobamrung confirmed. Thailand’s Defense Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha said Thai and US intelligence officials are monitoring the movements of other individuals and are stepping up precautions in areas deemed to be at risk. (Reuters, January 13.)


FIREBOMBS THROWN AT SYNAGOGUE IN NEW JERSEY—(Jerusalem) Law enforcement officials have urged New Jersey residents and religious institutions to be vigilant after a synagogue and its rabbi’s sleeping quarters were firebombed last week—the fourth such incident within a month being investigated as a hate crime against a Jewish center or institution in Bergen County. According to US Prosecutor John Molinelli, the most recent attack is being classified as an attempted murder, as n incendiary device was thrown into Rabbi Nosson Schuman’s bedroom on the second floor of Congregation Beth El. (Haaretz, January 12.)


SECOND ITAMAR MURDERER SENTENCED TO 5 LIFE TERMS—(Jerusalem) Israel’s Samaria District Military Court has sentenced Amjad Awad, one of two cousins convicted of brutally murdering five Fogel family members in Itamar last March, to five life terms and seven years. Awad and his cousin, Hakim Awad, entered the home of the Fogels, stabbing and shooting to death parents Udi and Ruth, and killing three of their children: Yoav (4), Elad (11), and four-month old baby Hadas. “I don’t regret what I did, and would do it again,” Amjad Awad said of the murders. “I’m proud of what I did and I’ll accept any punishment I get, even death, because I did it all for Palestine.” Hakim, 18, received five life sentences and five years in September. (Jerusalem Post, January 16.)


ACRE-AREA DIG UNEARTHS 1,500-YR-OLD ‘BREAD STAMP’—(Jerusalem) Israeli Archeologists digging near Acre have uncovered a menorah-emblazoned ceramic seal they believe was used by a 6th-century village baker to certify his bread as kosher. The diminutive “bread stamp,” the first of its kind to be found in a controlled archeological excavation in which its origin and date of manufacture can be precisely determined, “testifies further to the existence of a Jewish community in Uza in the Byzantine-Christian era,” lead archeologists Gilad Jaffe and Danny Syon said. The seal shows a seven-branched menorah of the kind used in the Temple in Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post, January 10.)


ISRAEL HONORS THREE POLES FOR HOLOCAUST-ERA HEROISM—(Jerusalem) Israel’s Yad Vashem has posthumously awarded three Poles with “Righteous among the Nations” medals for having saved dozens of Jews from the Nazis during the Second World War. Holocaust memorial honored Katarzyna Sikora for having risked her family to save four Jews, Stanislaw Grocholski for having hidden 16 people and Jozef Kulpa for rescuing two Jewish families. “They were real humans at a time when humanity in Europe was in the dark ages. They proved that even during the worst of times, human beings still existed,” Israel’s ambassador to Poland, Zvi Rav-Nera, said at the awards ceremony in Rzeszow, southeastern Poland. Yad Vashem has awarded 6,350 medals to Poles for risking to aid Jews escape Nazi-German genocide in occupied Poland during the Second World War. The Nazis had imposed the death penalty for entire families of Poles, should one of the family members be caught helping Jews. (AFP, January 18.)