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: “The romantic Zionist ideal, to which Jewish liberals — and I was one, once — subscribed for so many decades, has been tarnished by the reality of modern Israel. The attacks on freedom of speech and human rights organizations in Israel, the land-grabbing settler movement, a growing strain of anti-Arab and anti-immigrant racism, extremist politics, and a powerful, intolerant religious right — this mixture has pushed liberal Zionism to the brink…The only Zionism of any consequence today is xenophobic and exclusionary, a Jewish ethno-nationalism inspired by religious messianism. It is carrying out an open-ended project of national self-realization to be achieved through colonization and purification of the tribe. This mind-set blocks any chance Israel might have to become a full-fledged liberal-democratic state, and offers the Palestinians no path to national self-determination, no justice for their expulsion in 1948, nor for the occupation and the denial of their rights,”—Antony Lerman, a former director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, and the author of The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist. (New York Times, Aug. 22, 2014)


On Topic Links 


IDF Eliminates Hamas Money Man (Video): Jewish Press, Aug. 24, 2014

Calling it a Day: Marissa Newman, Times of Israel, Aug. 27, 2014

Why Hamas Must Ultimately be Destroyed: Charles Bybelezer: Jerusalem Post, Aug. 11, 2014

Obama Faces a Back-to-Work Challenge: David Ignatius, Washington Post, Aug. 26, 2014




"As long as Hamas controls Gaza, we won't be able to ensure the safety of Israel's citizens in the South and we won't be able to make a peace agreement," —Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, on his Facebook page. A day after Israel agreed to a cease-fire seemingly putting an end to Operation Protection Edge, Liberman said that Israel must not, under any circumstances, agree to a diplomatic deal with Hamas. Liberman said Hamas was neither a partner for a diplomatic agreement nor for a security agreement. "It is impossible and forbidden to trust lowly murderers. Therefore, we are against a cease-fire that allows Hamas to rearm and wage another battle against Israel whenever it finds it comfortable," the foreign minister said. "A real peace process and a strategic breakthrough will only be possible after we succeed in freeing the Middle East and the Palestinians from the threat of Hamas (and no one else will do so in our place), " he wrote. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 27, 2014)


“We will build and upgrade our arsenal to be ready for the coming battle, the battle of full liberation,” —Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas leader, declared, surrounded by Hamas gunmen. Zahar also promised to rebuild homes destroyed in the war and said Hamas would rearm. Large crowds gathered in Gaza City after the truce took effect at dusk, some waving the green flags of Hamas, while celebratory gunfire and fireworks erupted across the territory. (Globe & Mail, Aug. 26, 2014)   


“If you read the Arab press, many of the commentators do not like it but they don’t dare to say (Sisi) is pro-Israel,” —Tzvi Mazel, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt. In the Gaza conflict, while Egypt and Israel may not be brothers, they are certainly cousins with a joint interest in fighting Hamas, which controls the densely populated Gaza Strip. The Egyptian-brokered ceasefire has reinforced Egypt’s central position in the Arab world as the only country able to negotiate between Israel and Hamas. It will also likely solidify the position of Egyptian President Abdel Fatteh Al-Sisi, a former army chief, who had little experience in foreign policy before he was elected. Although Egyptian media have been virulently anti-Hamas during this conflict, Sisi runs the risk of being perceived as “pro-Israel.” “The Arab world is in a difficult position. People are more afraid of the [Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham, ISIS] than anything else,” added Mazel. (National Post, Aug. 26, 2014)    


“Hamas cannot be allowed to rain rockets on Israeli cities, nor can it be allowed to hold its own people hostage. Hospitals are for healing, not for hiding weapons. Schools are for learning, not for launching missiles. Children are our hope, not our human shields,” —letter from several Hollywood stars slamming Hamas over the “devastating loss of life endured by Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza.” The reported 187 signatories, who include Mayim Bialik, Minnie Driver, Kelsey Grammer, Seth Rogen, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sarah Silverman, and Sylvester Stallone, condemn the “ideologies of hatred and genocide which are reflected in Hamas’ charter, Article 7 of which reads, ‘There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!’” (Times of Israel, Aug. 23, 2014)


“I am giving this deadline today as I am ready to be martyred and I have taken the last bath today,” —Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, the Pakistani-Canadian cleric, whose supporters have overrun the government quarter of Islamabad in a protest against corruption. Waving a burial shroud, Qadri, 63, who has twice left a quiet life of retirement near Toronto for the roiling cauldron of Pakistani politics, set a 48-hour deadline for the resignation of Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister. Failing that, Qadri told thousands of supporters his own life could be the price. “I’m calling on people from across the country to come out and reject this corrupt and undemocratic government,” he told the Sunday Times. “People saw what we could do before. This time we will not stop until the government is removed,” Qadri said, referring to the march he led last year, which ended with the arrest of the previous Prime Minister, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf. Barely a year after the first transfer of power between democratically elected governments in Pakistan’s independent modern history, Pakistanis are frustrated at Sharif’s rule, his failure to conquer the energy crisis, and his pursuit of General Pervez Musharraf in what the Financial Times said “looks like a personal vendetta.” Qadri has compared the moment to the Arab Spring. With his slogan that Pakistan’s “lawmakers are lawbreakers,” he returned to Pakistan in June, publicly declaring the government would not survive. Almost immediately, police and military stormed his headquarters in a confrontation that left 12 people dead and 80 injured, one of the rare moments of outright violence in his campaign, which he calls “an intellectual and spiritual war against extremism and terrorism.” (National Post, Aug. 25, 2014)


"The question is, if a people without guns, without any arms, if they have nothing to defend themselves, to whom comes the duty to defend them?" —Pope Francis' envoy to Iraq, reinforcing the Vatican's position that military force is justified when religious minorities are being attacked by Islamic extremists, and must be defended now and given international protection so they can return home. He added that "in my opinion, this is not a war when you have two actors facing each other with the same capacities. This is defending the right of defending these poor, simple people who are unable to defend themselves." The Vatican's position is significant because it often opposes military intervention on the basis of its overall peace message. This case is different, however because Christians are being directly targeted because of their faith, and Christian communities, which have existed for 2,000 years in Iraq, have been emptied as a result of the extremists' onslaught. (U.S. News, Aug. 22, 2014)


“Given the onset of so many other armed conflicts in this period of global destabilization, the fighting in Syria and its dreadful impact on millions of civilians has dropped off the international radar,” —United Nations human rights agency chief, Navi Pillay, bluntly criticizing Western nations, saying their inaction in the face of the slaughter had “empowered and emboldened” the killers. It is “scandalous,” she said, that the depth of the suffering in Syria no longer attracts much international attention. The fact that the crisis has been allowed to continue for so long, with no end in sight, and is now spilling into neighboring Iraq and Lebanon is “an indictment of the age we live in,” she said. “Short-term geopolitical considerations and national interest, narrowly defined, have repeatedly taken precedence over intolerable human suffering and grave breaches of — and long-term threats to — international peace and security,” Pillay told the Security Council, adding that “I firmly believe that greater responsiveness by this Council would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.” (New York Times, Aug. 22, 2014)


“If you come after Americans, we’re going to come after you, wherever you are,” —Benjamin J. Rhodes, U.S. President Obama’s deputy national security adviser. “We’re actively considering what’s going to be necessary to deal with that threat and we’re not going to be restricted by borders.” While President Obama has long resisted being drawn into Syria’s bloody civil war, officials said recent advances by ISIS had made clear that it represents a threat to the interests of the U.S. and its allies. The beheading of American journalist James Foley has contributed to what officials called a “new context” for a challenge that has long divided the president’s team. Officials said the options include speeding up and intensifying limited American efforts to train and arm moderate Syrian rebel forces that have been fighting both ISIS as well as the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Another option would be to bolster other partners on the ground to take on ISIS, including the Syrian Kurds. An expanded intervention into Syria would represent a striking turnaround for a president who has opposed such a move before, and some administration officials therefore doubt that he will agree. From the start of the Syrian civil war, Obama’s response has been marked by a pattern of heightened public statements and indications of stepped-up involvement, followed by far less action than suggested. (New York Times, Aug. 22, 2014)


“I find myself compelled to write about the President’s decision to keep his scheduled golf date with a couple of friends immediately following his televised comments—a decision that revealed a complete lack of class on Mr. Obama’s part,”Forbes columnist Rick Ungar. President Obama’s two-week vacation on Martha’s vineyard, and his hours on the golf course, have his detractors teeing up as they highlight the mounting foreign policy crises facing the United States. After delivering an angry statement last Wednesday condemning the beheading of Foley by ISIS, Obama headed straight for the greens. “What yesterday’s decision to hit the links revealed to me was that our president is, sadly, capable of showing a stunning inability to grasp the nation’s collective pain and respond accordingly,” added Ungar. (Forbes, Aug. 21, 2014)


“Fore! Score? And seven trillion rounds ago, our forecaddies brought forth on this continent a new playground, conceived by Robert Trent Jones, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal when it comes to spending as much time on the links as possible — even when it seems totally inappropriate, like moments after making a solemn statement condemning the grisly murder of a 40-year-old American journalist beheaded by ISIL. I know reporters didn’t get a chance to ask questions, but I had to bounce. I had a 1 p.m. tee time at Vineyard Golf Club with Alonzo Mourning and a part-owner of the Boston Celtics. Hillary and I agreed when we partied with Vernon Jordan up here, hanging out with celebrities and rich folks is fun…Yet it is altogether fitting and proper that I should get to play as much golf as I want, despite all the lame jokes about how golf is turning into “a real handicap” for my presidency and how I have to “stay the course” with ISIL. I’ve heard all the carping that I should be in the Situation Room droning and plinking the bad folks. I know some people think I should go to Ferguson. Don’t they understand that I’ve delegated the Martin Luther King Jr. thing to Eric Holder? Plus, Valerie Jarrett and Al Sharpton have it under control. I know it doesn’t look good to have pictures of me grinning in a golf cart juxtaposed with ones of James Foley’s parents crying, and a distraught David Cameron rushing back from his vacation after only one day, and the Pentagon news conference with Chuck Hagel and General Dempsey on the failed mission to rescue the hostages in Syria…” —Maureen Dowd. (New York Times, Aug. 23, 2014) 






GAZA CEASE-FIRE BETWEEN ISRAEL, HAMAS GOES INTO EFFECT (Jerusalem) —Israel accepted another cease-fire on Tuesday, for the 12th time in 50 days, with this one open-ended and brokered again by the Egyptians. Shortly after the cease-fire went into effect, Palestinians poured onto Gaza’s streets to celebrate “victory,” while in Israel government representatives spoke of a feeling of an opportunity missed, along with cautious optimism that as a result of Operation Protective Edge Hamas’s control of Gaza has been dealt a fatal blow. Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said that while Hamas was not knocked out, it was delivered a severe blow that could very well be the beginning of the end of its control of the Gaza Strip. Hamas started this round with 10,000 rockets, and is now estimated to possess between 2,000 and 3,000. It started with Hamas possessing some 32 attack tunnels leading into Israel, and the army destroyed all the ones it had identified. And Hamas has had hundreds of fighters, including commanders, killed. “Hamas destroyed Gaza, harmed itself, and didn’t achieve anything,” Steinitz said. “Hamas knows the truth, they can celebrate, but they know the truth.” (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 26, 2014)


HAMAS EXECUTES 18 SUSPECTED COLLABORATORS WITH ISRAEL IN GAZA (Gaza City) —Hamas-led gunmen in Gaza City executed 18 Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel on Friday, a day after Israeli forces killed three Hamas brigade commanders. Gunmen wearing masks and dressed in black shot seven of those condemned, whose faces were covered and hands bound, in front of worshipers emerging from the Omari Mosque, in the first public executions in the Strip since the 1990s. A further 11 were killed at an abandoned police station near Gaza City, Hamas security officials said. Israeli security sources said that the 18 people executed in Gaza had been in jail for collaboration for the last two years, and Hamas took them out of jail to be executed. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 22, 2014) 


HAMAS MILITARY WING CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR KIDNAP-MURDER OF 3 ISRAELI TEENS (Gaza City) —A senior Hamas official has claimed that the organization’s military wing was behind the kidnapping of the three Israeli boys who were found dead in June, according to Hebrew-language reports in the Israeli media. A video captured during a conference shows Hamas official Salach Al-Aruri crediting Al-Qassam Brigades with organizing the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16. Al-Aruri said the Al-Qassam Brigades carried out the “heroic operation” with the broader goal of sparking a new Palestinian uprising. Prior to this statement, Hamas had denied responsibility for the kidnapping, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continued to allege that the organization was behind it. (Forward, Aug. 20, 2014, National Post, Aug. 22, 2014)


EGYPT, UAE RESPONSIBLE FOR LIBYA AIR STRIKES, U.S. OFFICIALS SAY (Cairo) —Twice in the past seven days, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have secretly teamed to launch air strikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli, Libya, four senior U.S. officials said, in a major escalation between the supporters and opponents of political Islam. The U.S., the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington or seeking its consent, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied the operation to U.S. diplomats, the officials said. Since the military ouster of the Islamist president in Egypt one year ago, the new Egyptian government, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. have formed a bloc, exerting influence in countries around the region to roll back what they see as a competing threat from Islamists. Several officials said that U.S. diplomats were fuming about the air strikes, believing they could further inflame the Libyan conflict at a time when the United Nations and Western powers are seeking a peaceful resolution. “We don’t see this as constructive at all,” one senior U.S. official said. (Globe & Mail, Aug. 25, 2014)


BOKO HARAM LEADER DECLARES ISLAMIC CALIPHATE IN NIGERIA (Lagos) —A northeast Nigerian town seized earlier this month by Boko Haram militants has been placed under an Islamic caliphate, the group’s leader said. “Thanks be to Allah, who gave victory to our brethren in (the town of) Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic caliphate,” Abubakar Shekau says in a 52-minute video obtained by the Agence France-Presse. “By the grace of Allah, we will not leave the town. We have come to stay.” In the video, Mr. Shekau lauds the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who in late June declared himself “the caliph” and “leader of Muslims everywhere.” Boko Haram is believed to be in control of large swathes of territory in Borno state and at least one town in neighboring Yobe state, AFP reported. Experts said Boko Haram is closer than ever to achieving its goal of forming an Islamic state across northern Nigeria. (Washington Times, Aug. 24, 2014)


ABOUT 1,400 ABUSED IN U.K. TOWN: REPORT (Rotherham, U.K.) —More than 1,400 children were sexually abused over a period of more than 16 years by gangs of pedophiles after police and city council bosses turned a blind eye for fear of being labelled racist, a damning report has concluded. Senior officials were responsible for “blatant” failures that saw victims, some as young as 11, being treated with contempt and categorized as being “out of control” or simply ignored when they asked for help. In some cases, parents who tried to rescue their children from abusers were themselves arrested. Police officers even dismissed the rape of children by saying that sex had been consensual. Tuesday’s report concluded that by far the majority of perpetrators were Asian men, and said council officials had been unwilling to address the issue for fear of being labelled racist. The report stated several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist; others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so.” (National Post, Aug. 27, 2014)


AMERICAN WOMAN HELD HOSTAGE BY ISIS (Beirut) —The Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is holding hostage a young American woman who was doing humanitarian aid work hostage in Syria, a family representative said Tuesday. The 26-year-old woman is the third American known to have been kidnapped by the militant group. The terrorist group is demanding US$6.6-million for her safe release. ISIS recently threatened to kill American hostages to avenge the crushing airstrikes in Iraq against militants advancing on Mount Sinjar and the Kurdish capital of Irbil. The 26-year-old woman was captured last year while working with three humanitarian groups in Syria. More than a week ago, freelance journalist James Foley of Rochester, N.H., was beheaded by ISIS, which kidnapped him in November 2012. Foley, 40, has worked in a number of conflict zones across the Mideast, including Iraq, Libya and Syria. (National Post, Aug. 26, 2014)


U.S. TRIED TO RESCUE JOURNALIST JAMES FOLEY FROM ISLAMIC STATE CAPTORS IN SYRIA (Damascus) —U.S. Special Operations forces mounted an unsuccessful mission inside Syria earlier this summer to try to rescue several Americans held by Islamic extremists, including the journalist who was beheaded this week, senior Obama administration officials said. President Barack Obama ordered the secret operation, the first of its kind by the U.S. inside Syrian territory since the start of the civil war, after the U.S. received intelligence the Americans were being held by the extremist group known as Islamic State at a specific facility in a sparsely populated area inside Syria. Among the group, intelligence agencies believed at the time, was Foley, the U.S. journalist whose beheading was shown in a grisly video. (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 21, 2014)


FATHER OF 'JIHADI JOHN' SUSPECT ON TRIAL FOR AL-QAIDA ATTACKS (London) —A British extremist suspected of murdering American journalist James Foley is the son of an accused al-Qaida terrorist currently awaiting trial over the bombing of two U.S. embassies that resulted in the deaths of 224 people. Adel Abdel Bary, 54, is the father of Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a 23-year-old former rapper from London who shares several physical attributes with "Jihadi John," the man who allegedly beheaded Foley in a video released by the Islamic State last week. Bary senior, an Egyptian who was granted asylum in the U.K. in 1993, was extradited from Britain to the U.S. at the same time as the hook-handed imam Abu Hamza. He is said to have been one of Osama bin Laden's key lieutenants in the 1990s. Bary senior is due to be tried in November over the al-Qaida bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. He faces 213 counts of premeditated murder over the bombing in Nairobi and 11 over the attack in Dar es Salaam. (Telegraph, Aug. 26, 2014)


DEATH TOLL IN SYRIA ESTIMATED AT 191,000 (Damascus) — The number of dead in Syria’s civil war more than doubled in the past year to at least 191,000, the United Nations human rights office said Friday. In its third report on Syria commissioned by the United Nations, the Human Rights Data Analysis Group identified 191,369 deaths from the start of the conflict in March 2011 to April 2014, more than double the 92,901 deaths cited in the group’s last report, which covered the first two years of the conflict. The report was confined to counting individuals who had been identified by name, along with the date and location of their death, using data from five organizations that was screened to avoid duplication. It did not include nearly 52,000 deaths that were recorded but lacked sufficient detail. (New York Times, Aug. 22, 2014)




On Topic Links

IDF Eliminates Hamas Money Man (Video): Jewish Press, Aug. 24, 2014

Calling it a Day: Marissa Newman, Times of Israel, Aug. 27, 2014—After a grueling 50-day conflict, the ceasefire goes into effect and the Hebrew newspapers on Wednesday – deflated and disgruntled – sum up a campaign that exacted a heavy blow on the national morale, and left a battered and listless public in its wake.

Why Hamas Must Ultimately be Destroyed: Charles Bybelezer: Jerusalem Post, Aug. 11, 2014—As Operation Protective Edge was winding down, I was invited along with a group of journalists to visit the Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip. There, hundreds of trucks carrying humanitarian goods wer

Obama Faces a Back-to-Work Challenge: David Ignatius, Washington Post, Aug. 26, 2014—It’s “back to school” week for President Obama, after what a CNN analyst called “the vacation from hell.”





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-ocrity of the Week


The martyr is the ultimate source of pride.… It is the symbol of our homeland.”—Israeli Knesset member Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta’al), at an official Palestinian Authority event, paying homage to Palestinian martyrs—as “there is nothing more praiseworthy than those who die for the homeland”—and referring to Israelis as “those who occupy and murder.” In response, MK Danny Danon (Likud) called Tibi “a traitor,” saying, “Under the guise of democracy, the State of Israel brought a supporter of terror to the Knesset, and the time has come to put Tibi back in his natural place—the parliament in Ramallah.” MK Nachman Shai (Kadima) said Tibi was stretching his right to free speech, and predicted that the public’s tolerance would soon “explode.” MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) wrote a letter to Israeli Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein asking that Tibi be put on trial, saying “The time has come to stop Tibi’s party.” (Jerusalem Post, January 18 & 19.)


Weekly Quotes


Seventy years ago, in a lavish villa situated on the banks of a pastoral lake in one of Berlin’s suburbs, 15 senior officials from the German Reich convened and decided over breakfast to annihilate the Jewish people. Seventy years ago the Jewish nation was helpless, without any political, military or diplomatic capabilities to defend itself. This is why a third of our nation was destroyed. What has changed from 1942 to 2012 is not the lack of enemies.…What’s changed is our ability and resolve to defend ourselves.”—Israeli Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu, on the 70th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference, reinforcing the nation of Israel’s fundamental right to defend itself against sworn enemies. (Ynet News, January 22.)


Seventy years have passed since the Holocaust, and many around the world still remain silent in the face of Iran’s threats to wipe Israel off the map.… International Holocaust Remembrance Day is the day on which the world needs to stand behind the words ‘no more.’ It’s not a slogan, but has a deep meaning. It is the day on which the world must unite to make certain weapons of mass destruction do not fall into the hands of dark regimes, headed by the ayatollahs’ regime in Iran. Have we learned the lessons of the Holocaust? Are we treating these threats of destruction seriously?… Unfortunately, the answer is no.”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, during a special Knesset session ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which will be marked this Friday, calling on the world to internalize Iran’s genocidal threats against the Jewish people, and to confront Tehran’s nuclear ambitions with the same urgency it did the Nazis during WWII. (Ynet News, January 24.)


Out in the open they show their muscles, but behind the curtains they plead to us to sit down and talk.”—Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, claiming the Obama administration continues to pursue a policy of “engagement” with Tehran. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, has since confirmed receipt of the letter. No response has been issued. (Huffington Post, January 18 & Reuters, January 19.)


This is a weak president. Because of his weakness, Israel has to keep apologizing for itself all the time. We shouldn’t have to be on the defensive.”—Former Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Gillerman, at the Women’s International Zionist Organization conference in Tel Aviv, asserting that US President Barack Obama’s weakness is detrimental to the Jewish state, as it allows Israel’s foes to blame it for the Middle East’s problems. (Jerusalem Post, January 19.)


The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which resumed in Amman earlier this month, are mainly intended to help Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah bolster their stature among their constituents and the international community. For King Abdullah, who is facing growing popular protests in the kingdom over lack of reforms and transparency, the meetings between Israeli and Palestinian officials in Amman are a way of distracting attention from his problems at home.… Abbas, for his part, is hoping that the talks in Jordan will ease US and EU pressure on him to resume the peace process.… Abbas is also hoping that the Amman talks will persuade the US and EU to continue, or increase, financial support for his authority. He knows that money will consolidate his power and ensure the continued support of tens of thousands of Palestinian families who are on his payroll.”—Khaled Abu Toameh, describing the disingenuous motives of both Jordanian King Abdullah and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud for convening “peace” talks with Israel in Amman. (Stonegate Institute, January 13.)


The hour of judgment will not come until you fight the Jews. The Jew will hide behind the stone and behind the tree. The stone and the tree will cry, ‘Oh Muslim, Oh Servant of God, this is a Jew behind me, come and kill him’.…”—Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Hussein, at a rally marking the 47th anniversary of the founding of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, calling on all Muslims to hasten the actualization of the Hadith—an end-of-times prophesy—by killing Jews. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu strongly denounced the statements, calling “these remarks especially serious because they remind us of the statements of another [Palestinian] mufti who called for the annihilation of the Jews, Haj Amin Al Husseini, who was one of the architects of the Final Solution.…” Netanyahu also denounced the Palestinian leadership for “neither condemn[ing] nor tak[ing] exception to the remarks,” as “those who [purportedly] want peace should not allow such calls to murder Jews.” (JTA, January 22 & Independent Media Review and Analysis, January 22, 23.)


For us the red line is clear. We won’t back any sanctions or deployment of troops in Syria.”—Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, rejecting calls for foreign military intervention in Syria, and reiterating Russian and Chinese insistence that the UN not intercede in any manner to halt President Bashar Assad’s ongoing crackdown on anti-regime protests. Lavrov also confirmed that Russia continues to export weapons, including jet fighter-bombers, to Syria, adding that Russia does not need to justify this issue. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, January 18.)


The IDF is known for its sophisticated and advanced technology. In the past year alone, the military deployed the Iron Dome counter-rocket defense system to intercept Katyusha rockets launched from the Gaza Strip and the Trophy active protection system that can intercept anti-tank missiles fired at Merkava tanks. In recent months though, the IDF has decided to install a new defensive system—trees. ‘The idea is simple,’ a senior officer from the IDF’s Gaza Division explained. ‘Trees are planted around Israeli towns and communities that are close to the border, making it more difficult for terrorists to accurately target homes and residents.’”—Yaakov Katz, describing the launching of a project by the IDF, in conjunction with Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL)—Jewish National Fund—to plant “eucalyptus trees…outside communities located along the border with the Gaza Strip…[over] concern Palestinian terrorists will try to target residents…with sniper fire or by launching anti-tank missiles at the[ir] homes. (Jerusalem Post, January 18.)


President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline is as shocking as it is revealing. It shows a President who once again has put politics ahead of sound policy. If Americans want to understand why unemployment in the United States has been stuck above 8 percent for the longest stretch since the Great Depression, decisions like this one are the place to begin. By declaring that the Keystone pipeline is not in the ‘national interest,’ the President demonstrates a lack of seriousness about bringing down unemployment, restoring economic growth, and achieving energy independence. He seems to have confused the national interest with his own interest in pleasing the environmentalists in his political base.”—Republican presidential frontrunner, Mitt Romney, strongly denouncing US President Barack Obama’s decision to reject TransCanada’s application for the Keystone XL Pipeline. (Weekly Standard & FrontPage, January 18.)


In a letter that was sent to you on September 19, 2011, signed by more than 5,000 members and supporters of the California Jewish community, we expressed our outrage that University of California administrators, including yourself, continue to fund, promote, and honor the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI), a program which brings students into contact with individuals and organizations that call for the murder of Jews and the elimination of the Jewish state.… In your response to us, you ignored our concerns and defended the OTI, calling it ‘the best tradition of activism, public service and open discussion’ and saying that you remain ‘a strong supporter’ of the program. We therefore feel compelled to bring to your attention a recent news story about Israel’s arrest of Aziz Dweik, the Hamas leader with whom OTI students met in 2009. Mr. Dweik was taken into custody yesterday on suspicion of involvement with terrorist groups. (He had been arrested in 2006 on similar charges and spent 2 years in Israeli prison, a fact which OTI leaders must surely have known before arranging a meeting between Dweik and UC students).… For many in the Jewish community, it is unconscionable that a public university would use taxpayer dollars to fund such a program. We therefore urge you, once again, to remove all University of California support for the Olive Tree Initiative.”—Leila Beckwith and Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, UC faculty members and co-founders of the AMCHA Initiative, in a follow-up letter to University of California President Mark G. Yudof, calling on the university to immediately cease funding of the Olive Tree Initiative, a post-Zionist organization sympathetic to Hamas. (AMCHA Website, January 25.)


Short Takes


EU AGREES TO IRAN SANCTIONS—(Brussels) European Union foreign ministers have approved new sanctions on Iranian oil exports. Citing “serious and deepening concerns over the Iranian nuclear program,” the EU agreed to impose a full Iranian oil embargo, including existing contracts, by July 1. According to a statement by the Council of the European Union, other new EU sanctions imposed target the Iran Central Bank and petrochemical exports to the EU. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called the sanctions “a step in the right direction…as very strong and quick pressure on Iran is necessary;” however, Netanyahu cautioned that “it is still impossible to know what the result of these sanctions will be…[and they] will [thus] have to be evaluated on the basis of results.” The EU imports about 600,000 barrels a day of oil from Iran—close to a quarter of Tehran’s exports of 2.6 million barrels a day. (Wall Street Journal & Independent Media Review and Analysis, January 23.)


EGYPT’S BROTHERHOOD WINS 47% OF PARLIAMENT SEATS—(Jerusalem) According to Egypt’s electoral commission, the Muslim Brotherhood has won 47 percent of seats in the new parliament. Announcing the final results from the three-staged vote, committee head Abdel Moez Ibrahim confirmed the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) captured 235 seats in the People’s Assembly, with the Islamist Salafist Nour Party placing second with 121 seats or nearly 25 percent. The liberal Wafd Party garnered approximately nine percent of the vote. Once elections for parliament’s upper house, or Shura Council, are concluded in February, the two chambers will choose a 100-member panel to draft a new constitution. Mohamed Saad el-Katatni, secretary-general of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, was appointed speaker of the House during parliament’s first session on Monday. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, January 21 & Jerusalem Post, January 23.)


MORE THAN 100 KILLED BY ISLAMISTS IN NIGERIA—(Abuja, Nigeria) More than 100 people have been killed in a series of attacks targeting eight government security buildings in northern Nigeria’s largest city, the deadliest strike to date carried out by Boko Haram Islamist terroristsBoko Haram, which has carried out an escalating campaign of violence in its battle to impose Islamic law across Nigeria, said the attacks were retribution for the arrests and killings of members of the sect. President Goodluck Jonathan said in a statement that he was “greatly saddened” by the attacks and that he promised that “all those involved in that dastardly act would be made to face the full wrath of the law.” About half of Nigeria’s 160 million people are Muslim. (NY Times, January 21.)


SYRIA REJECTS ARAB LEAGUE PLAN—(Beirut) Syria has rejected a new Arab League plan to end the country’s 10-month crisis, saying the League’s call for a national unity government represents “flagrant interference in its internal affairs.” The Arab League previously tried to stem the bloodshed in Syria by condemning Bashar Assad’s brutal crackdown on protests, imposing sanctions on the regime and sending a team of observers into the country. In the latest plan, the League called for a unity government to be formed within two months, which would then prepare for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held under Arab and international supervision. It also provides for Assad to give his vice president full powers to cooperate with the proposed government to enable it to carry out its duties during a transitional period. The League also reiterated calls for Syria’s government to release political detainees, allow peaceful demonstrations and pull the military out of cities and residential areas. (Wall Street Journal, January 23.)


REPORT: RUSSIA TO DELIVER COMBAT JETS TO SYRIA—(Jerusalem) According to reports, Russia has signed a $550 contract to sell 36 Yak-130 aircraft combat jets to Syria in a show of support for President Bashar Assad’s regime. If confirmed, the deal would mark an open defiance of international efforts to put pressure on Assad, who has faced broad condemnation for his brutal 10-month crackdown on protests that has killed more than 5400 people. Last week, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow would not offer an explanation or excuses over suspicions that a Russian ship had delivered munitions to Syria despite an EU arms embargo. He also warned that Russia would block any attempt by the West to secure United Nations support for the use of force against Syria. (Haaretz, January 23.)


OFFICIAL: HAMAS WILL DEFEAT FATAH IN MAY ELECTIONS—(Jerusalem) A senior Fatah official has warned that Hamas stands to defeat his faction if new elections are held in the Palestinian territories. Nabil Amr, a former Palestinian Authority minister, confirmed in an interview with the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper that “Yes, [Fatah] is concerned [and] unless the situation in Fatah changes, what happened in the past could occur once again.” (Jerusalem Post, January 20.)


US TERROR VICTIMS: PROSECUTE PALESTINIAN TERRORISTS—(Jerusalem) The Parents Forum for Justice (PFJ), a group of US citizens and parents whose children were murdered or maimed by Palestinian terrorists in Israel over the past decade, has sent a letter to US Attorney-General Eric Holder asking him to commence legal proceedings against prisoners recently freed in the Gilad Shalit deal. According to the PFJ, 83 American citizens were killed and 54 wounded in Palestinian terror attacks between 1993 and 2006, and several of the perpetrators were released as part of the Schalit prisoner-swap last October. “[Since their release] we have had to endure the sight of these unrepentant killers not only walking free but also being embraced as heroes, celebrated and honored by the communities to which they have now returned, and by the US-funded Palestinian Authority,” the PFJ letter to Holder said. Under the 1991 US Anti-Terror Act, the US can prosecute foreign nationals who perpetrate terrorism against American citizens even on foreign soil. (Jerusalem Post, January 19.)


ISRAELI OVERSEAS MISSIONS RECEIVE SUSPICIOUS POWDER—(Jerusalem) A number of overseas Israeli diplomatic missions have received envelopes containing a suspicious white powder. Although the Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the matter, when asked about the scare in an interview with Army Radio, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said the substance in question turned out to be flour and not anthrax. Envelopes arrived this week at the Israeli embassies in the Hague, Brussels and London, as well as consulates in New York, Boston and Houston. An investigation into the trans-Atlantic incidents is ongoing. (Jerusalem Post, January 24.)


AZERBAIJAN THWARTS TERROR ATTACK AGAINST ISRAELI TARGETS—(Jerusalem) The Azeri Ministry of National Security has confirmed the arrest of a terror cell that plotted to kill two Israeli Chabad emissaries, a rabbi and a teacher employed by the “Chabad Or Avner” Jewish school in Baku. The ministry said that the three men, Rasim Aliyev, Ali Huseynov and Balaqardash Dadashov, received smuggled arms and equipment from Iranian agents. Last November, an Iranian parliament member accused Azerbaijan of being a “local Mossad base.” (Haaretz, January 23.)


UGANDAN PASTOR TREATED AT ISRAELI HOSPITAL—(Jerusalem) A pastor from Uganda, who recently began preaching support for Israel, is being treated in an Israeli hospital after an acid attack severely burned his face and damaged his right eye. Pastor Umar Mulinde, 38, arrived in Israel on Jan. 5 for emergency medical treatment after being targeted on Dec. 24 in Kampala by attackers shouting “Allah Akbar” (G-d is great). Prof. Zeev Rotstein, director of Israel’s renowned Sheba Medical Center, which conducts humanitarian medical missions around the world, offered to provide acute and rehabilitative care to Mulinde free-of-charge, and visas for Mulinde were arranged on short notice by Israel’s Foreign Ministry. “Healing is deeply ingrained in Jewish history and tradition. So it was only natural that we agree to help Pastor Mulinde,” said Prof. Rotstein. (JTA, January 8.)


HIDDEN MASS GRAVES FOUND AT TREBLINKA—(Jerusalem) British forensic archeologist Caroline Sturdy Colls has uncovered mass graves at Treblinka, proving that the World War II Nazi camp was in fact a death camp and not just a transit camp as detractors claim. Prior to Colls’ use of ground-penetrating radar to indentify human remains, the search for graves at Treblinkla had been severely hampered by the need to adhere to Jewish law, which forbids disturbing graves. This complication resulted in a lack of “hard” evidence of the Nazis’ killing of well over 800,000 Jews at the death camp, a reality often cited by Holocaust deniers to “justify” their false claims. Colls’ findings will be presented as part of a documentary, “The Hidden Graves of the Holocaust,” broadcast by the UK’s Radio 4 (Jerusalem Post, January 18.)


FOUNDATION LAUNCHES WORLDWIDE SEARCH FOR REFUGEES RESCUED BY SOUSA MENDES—(Montreal) A global search has been launched for Holocaust refugees saved by little-known Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a man described as “one of the great unsung heroes” of the Second World War. Stationed in France during the war, Sousa Mendes is credited with helping at least 10,000 Jewish and other refugees flee the fallen country in 1940. While hundreds of those given life-saving visas by Sousa Mendes have been identified—including such notable figures as the Spanish artist Salvador Dali and Curious George authors Hans and Margret Rey—thousands of other refugees never knew who cleared their way to freedom. Accordingly, the Seattle-based Sousa Mendes Foundation is undertaking “an unprecedented search for the rescuees” to honor Sousa Mendes’ legacy. (Gazette, January 17.)