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

 

Media-ocrity of the Week: “The aggressive silencing of anyone who voices disapproval of Israeli policies or expresses empathy with Palestinians is the latest manifestation of an us-versus-them mentality that has been simmering for decades. It is based on the narrative that Palestinians are enemies who threaten Jewish sovereignty and are solely to blame for the failure to achieve peace. The Israeli peace camp — which remains obsessively focused on stopping settlement expansion and pursuing the ever-elusive two-state solution while ignoring Israel’s failure to separate religion and state and guarantee equal rights for Arab citizens — has been incapable of challenging this mentality,” —Mairav Zonszein, an Israeli-American writer and blogger at +972 Magazine. (New York Times, Sept. 26, 2014)   

 

On Topic Links  

 

Duplicitous Abbas Comes out of the Closet: Isi leibler, Candidly Speaking, Oct. 1, 2014

Post-Arab Spring, Hisham Melhem Fears 'Arab Civilization Has Collapsed' (Interview): CBC, Sept. 30, 2014

Obama Needs to Call Bush: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 29, 2014

The Yom Kippur Fast: Dry Bones Blog, Oct. 1, 2014

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“Ladies and gentlemen, the people of Israel pray for peace, but our hopes and the world’s hopes for peace are in danger because everywhere we look militant Islam is on the march. It’s not militants. It’s not Islam. It’s militant Islam. And typically its first victims are other Muslims, but it spares no one: Christians, Jews, Yazidis, Kurds. No creed, no faith, no ethnic group is beyond its sights. And it’s rapidly spreading in every part of the world. You know the famous American saying, all politics is local? For the militant Islamists, all politics is global, because their ultimate goal is to dominate the world,” —Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing the 2014 UN General Assembly. Netanyahu also took aim at Iran’s President Hassan Rohani, who addressed the UN last week: “…Rouhani stood here…and shed crocodile tears over what he called the globalization of terrorism. Maybe he should spare us those phony tears and have a word instead with the commanders of Iran’s revolutionary guards. He could ask them to call off Iran’s global terror campaign, which has included attacks in two dozen countries on five continents since 2011 alone.” It was not a speech entirely bereft of hope. He reached out “to Cairo, to Amman, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and elsewhere” and asserted that a rapprochement with Israel by such Arab players could in turn yield a peace agreement with the Palestinians. (Ha’aretz, Sept. 29, 2014)

 

“Netanyahu…always places the focus first and foremost on security. He sees his historic role as leader of Israel not necessarily as being the one who will bring peace, but rather the one who will ensure the country’s security, even if it means taking positions unpopular around the world to do so. One such position may be his signal Monday that he now prefers partnership with the Arab world as a way to reach some kind of accommodation with the Palestinians, rather than negotiations and peace with the Palestinians as the ticket to rapprochement with the Arab world,” —Herb Keinon, commenting on Netanyahu’s speech at the UN. (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 30, 2014)

 

“It is impossible and I repeat — it is impossible — to return to the cycle of negotiations that failed to deal with the substance of the matter and the fundamental question,” —Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, addressing the UN General Assembly on Friday. Abbas, reading from a prepared text but visibly enraged, said that “the time has come to end this settlement occupation.” Abbas accused Israel of failing to negotiate in good faith, saying any return to negotiations would be “naïve at best,” and called on the Security Council to press for a specific deadline to end Israeli occupation. “In the name of Palestine and its people, I affirm here today: We will not forget and we will not forgive, and we will not allow war criminals to escape punishment,” Abbas said in his 30-minute address. He also described the Israeli “occupation” as “an abhorrent form of state terrorism and a breeding ground for incitement, tension and hatred.” (New York Times, Sept. 26, 2014)

 

“A nuclear agreement could begin a multi-generational process that could lead to a new relationship between our countries,” —Philip Gordon, the White House coordinator for the Middle East, in a speech Saturday to the National Iranian American Council. “Iran could begin to reduce tensions with its neighbors and return to its rightful place in the community of nations.” Gordon made clear that Iran had much to do beyond reach a nuclear deal in order to remove its pariah status, but his casting a nuclear deal as part of a normalization process and not an end in itself represented a shift. At the outset of nuclear talks between the major powers and Iran in January, U.S. officials were adamant that the only relief Iran should expect from such a deal was the removal of sanctions. Gordon said that the United States in its talks with Iran had made clear that it regarded Iran as “irresponsible” and “destabilizing” in its backing for Hezbollah and other actions, but also suggested that a nuclear deal trumped other concerns. “The nuclear issue is too important to subordinate to a complete transformation of Iran internally,” he said. (JTA, Sept. 28, 2014)

 

“[National Intelligence Director] Jim Clapper has acknowledged that I think they underestimated . . . what had been taking place in Syria,” —U.S. President Barack Obama, in an interview Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”  In an about-face from earlier remarks that likened I.S. to a terrorist “JV team,” Obama admitted that the U.S. failed to recognize the threat posed by I.S. and mistakenly relied on the hapless Iraqi army to combat them. Obama’s comments marked his bluntest acknowledgment that the U.S. bungled the initial response to I.S., which American-led planes began bombing inside Syria this month. Asked about the US carrying the weight of the anti-I.S. effort despite it being described as an international coalition, Obama said, “[T]hat’s always the case. America leads. We are the indispensable nation. We have capacity no one else has. Our military is the best in the history of the world. And when trouble comes up anywhere in the world, they don’t call Beijing. They don’t call Moscow. They call us,” the president said, adding: “That’s the deal … that’s how we roll. And that’s what makes this America.” (New York Post, Sept. 28, 2014)   

 

“At some point, somebody’s boots have to be on the ground,” —U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, indicating that sending in American combat troops into Iraq or Syria could become necessary to eliminate the threat posed by I.S. extremists. President Obama has said he opposes sending in U.S. ground forces to destroy I.S. But Boehner suggested U.S. combat troops might be needed if the international coalition can’t come together to defeat the militants. (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 28, 2014)

 

“ISIS certainly can – and will – be defeated militarily by the international coalition that is now assembling and which the UAE is actively supporting. But military containment is only a partial solution. Lasting peace requires three other ingredients: winning the battle of ideas; upgrading weak governance; and supporting grassroots human development. Such a solution must begin with concerted international political will. Not a single politician in North America, Europe, Africa, or Asia can afford to ignore events in the Middle East. A globalized threat requires a globalized response. Everyone will feel the heat, because such flames know no borders; indeed, ISIS has recruited members of at least 80 nationalities,” —op-ed by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai. (Project-Syndicate, Sept. 27, 2014) 

 

“The FBI has been handcuffed in terms of investigating religious extremists in mosques, as a result of guidelines put out by the attorney general earlier this year. And so therefore, there is… a definite problem now in investigating those militants in the United States who are either recruiting for ISIS or have returned from Syria or Iraq having fought for ISIS, and are ready to carry out freelance or directed terrorist attacks on behalf of ISIS against the United States…the Department of Justice [which] put out guidelines that restricted the FBI and other law enforcement agencies from using religious factors in identifying threats, national security threats to the United States in the homeland…we're seeing ISIS recruiting biophysicists, engineers, social media types, people who have expertise in really carrying out sophisticated terrorist attacks coming back to the United States…There's one recruiter that [had been]… picked up [in the past], well identified, in Bloomington, Minnesota at the Al Farooq Mosque. There are recruiters going around the country in other mosques, where they identify potential volunteers. They test them out to see if they're willing to die on behalf of martyrdom of the cause for Allah. Then they give them cash, they provide money for their families in case they die. They give them tickets to go to Turkey. Turkey has allowed them, hundreds, to go through to Syria, then to Iraq. And we [the U.S.] count Turkey as one of our top allies. We haven't put [many of] them on the terrorism watch list, which we should. So there's a major disconnect…between what we should be doing to protect the homeland and protect American citizens,” —Steven Emerson, head of The Investigative Project on Terrorism. (American Thinker, Sept. 24, 2014)

 

“It’s utterly irrelevant. It’s a smear campaign…. I don’t honestly see what all this has to do with the Gaza letter. I have no plans to retract the letter, and I would not retract the letter even if it was found to be substantiated,” —Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet. Although Horton has withstood past criticism for publishing political tracts and pseudo-scientific articles, particularly one-sided attacks against Israel, he is now faced with his most serious crisis. A recent publication of NGO Monitor’s report shows that Dr. Paola Manduca and Dr. Swee Ang – two of the main authors of an “Open Letter for the People of Gaza” published in the Lancet – are promoting David Duke, the notorious American racist and a former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Among their other radical activities, Manduca and Swee Ang sent out emails endorsing one of Duke’s pathologically antisemitic videos entitled, “CNN Goldman Sachs & the Zio-Matrix.” (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 29, 2014)

 

“In the Middle East today, there is one country where Christianity is not only not persecuted, but affectionately granted freedom of expression, freedom of worship and security,”—Father Gabriel Naddaf, A Greek Orthodox priest from Israel. “It is Israel, the Jewish state. Israel is the only place where Christians in the Middle East are safe,” he added. Father Naddaf defended the Jewish state before the UN Human Rights Council last Tuesday, arguing that it is the only country in the Middle East where Christians are not persecuted, and imploring the 47 member nations to “end your witch hunt of the only free country in the region.” According to Naddaf, some 120,000 Christians have been killed each year in the Middle East for the last decade. “That means that every five minutes a Christian is killed because of his faith,” he said. “Those who can escape persecution at the hands of Muslim extremists have fled. Those who remain, exist as second- if not third-class citizens to their Muslim rulers.” Naddaf, who heads the Greek Orthodox Church in Yafia near Nazareth, maintained it “is time the world woke up to the fact that those who want to destroy the Jewish state are signing the death warrant on the last free Christians in the Holy Land. Leaders of people, seekers of peace, end your witch hunt of the only free country in the region.” (Times of Israel, Sept. 23, 2014)

 

“Iraq, Syria and Libya should cure… the illusion that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the main source of problems in the region,” —U.S. President Barack Obama, during his speech at the UN General Assembly. (Candidly Speaking, Oct. 1, 2014)

Contents

 

SHORT TAKES

 

ATTACKS IN BAGHDAD LEAVE DOZENS DEAD (Baghdad) —At least 25 people were killed in car bomb and mortar attacks in mainly Shi'ite Muslim districts of Baghdad on Tuesday, Iraqi police and medical sources said. Two car bombs exploded in busy streets in the al-Horreyya district, killing 20 people and wounding 35, the sources said. There was also a mortar attack in the Sab al-Bour neighborhood of northern Baghdad that killed five people and wounded 15. (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 30, 2014)

 

THE DEFENSE OF KOBANI (Damascus) —This week witnessed the second determined attempt by Islamic State forces to destroy the Kurdish enclave around Kobani city in northern Syria. As of now, it appears that after initial lightning advances, the progress of the jihadis has been halted. The arrival of Kurdish forces from across the Turkish border is the key element in freezing the advance. Yet Islamic State has captured around 60 Kurdish villages in this latest assault, and its advanced positions remain perilously close – around 14.5 km. – from Kobani city. The Kurdish enclave has long been a thorn in the side of the jihadis; Abu Omar al-Shishani, the much feared Chechen I.S. military commander, is reputed to have made the conquest of Kobani a personal mission. With the weapons systems captured in Mosul now fully integrated, and with further progress in Iraq impeded by the presence of US air power, it appears I.S. is now making its most serious effort to achieve this goal. (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 27, 2014)

 

NETANYAHU PRESENTED A PHOTO OF AN EXECUTION IN GAZA (New York) —The Prime Ministers photo campaign in the U.S. continues: after the American government rejected the comparison between the Gaza terror organization and the Islamic State, PM Netanyahu presented them with more evidence of Hamas' cruelty. One day he pulled out a photo of rocket launchers in Gaza placed next to children, comparing Hamas to ISIS, PM Netanyahu does it again. This time the photo is of an execution in Gaza, which resembles those performed by the radical terror organization. "Every time I come to the UN I try to tell the truth as it is. But here's a picture I didn't show in the UN yesterday. This is an impending execution. But this isn’t ISIS, this is Hamas", Netanyahu stressed while holding up the photo during his speech before the Jewish Federations in New York. (Jerusalem Online, Sept. 30, 2014)

 

IRANIAN NUCLEAR PHYSICIST KILLED BY REVOLUTIONARY GUARD, NOT ISRAEL (Tehran) —The sister of a leading Iranian nuclear physicist, widely believed to have been assassinated by Israel as part of an effort to derail Iran’s drive to create nuclear weapons, claims her brother was murdered by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRI) because he wouldn’t cooperate with the effort to divert nuclear activities from peaceful purposes. When Iranian scientist Dr. Ardeshir Hosseinpour was killed in 2007, the cause of death was reported to be “gassing” and most presumed the act was carried out by Israel. That belief stood, largely because of Iranian accusations to that effect; and because of Israeli policy to neither confirm nor deny such acts. Mahboobeh Hosseinpour has come forward with the claim that the IRI was behind her brother’s death because of his refusal to be involved in Iran’s nuclear enrichment program whose use was for atomic purposes. (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 30, 2014)

 

IRANIAN MAN EXECUTED FOR 'HERESY' (Tehran)—A former psychologist has been executed for heresy in Iran after eight years in detention, human rights groups said Monday. Mohsen Amir Aslani, was hanged in a prison near the city of Karaj west of Tehran on September 24, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), which is based outside Iran, for “corruption on earth and heresy in religion.” Iranian opposition news websites have said Aslani, 37, had given religious classes where he propagated a new interpretation of the Koran. He was also accused by the authorities of “insulting” the Prophet Jonah. A recent report by Amnesty International found that execution orders in the Islamic Republic have risen dramatically since the beginning of 2014. Iran has one of the highest levels of executions in the world, second to China, according to Amnesty. (Arutz Sheva, Oct. 1, 2014)

 

IRAN, U.S. EQUIP & FINANCE LEBANESE ARMY TO FIGHT ISIS (Beirut)— Iran and the United States are both equipping the Lebanese army so its soldiers can protect the nation from encroaching cross-border attacks by terrorists from I.S. Iran announced Tuesday that it has decided to boost Beirut’s coffers with an extra gift of cash for the Lebanese Army, which will also strengthen Tehran’s ties with the country as well. This is the first time Iran has announced an offer of military assistance to Lebanon, although it has generously supported the country’s Hezbollah terrorist organization for many years. Lebanon’s military and other security forces are also supported by funding from the United States and Saudi Arabia, and have been for some time. Recently the U.S. also sent several shipments of arms to the country’s army in order to help Israel’s northern neighbor protect itself from ISIS, which has just formed a new alliance with the Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organization. (Jewish Press, Sept. 30, 2014)

 

MAVI MARMARA VETERAN KILLED IN SYRIAN STRIKE (Damascus) —A Turkish man who was part of a flotilla that violently tried to break Israel's blockade on Gaza in 2010 has been killed in bombing raids targeting I.S. terrorists in Syria, media reports say. Yakup Bülent Alnıak was in Syria researching a book, a statement from a charity group called Iyilikder, Jordan's JN News reported. But other reports in Turkish media indicate Alniak was fighting with a rival jihadist group, the al-Qaida tied Al Nusra Front. The 2010 voyage of the Mavi Marmara ended with nine people dead after passengers attacked Israeli commandos with knives, metal bars and other weapons as they tried to take control of ship. (IPT News, Sept. 25, 2014)

 

RCMP PULLS SUPPORT FROM UNITED AGAINST TERRORISM HANDBOOK (Ottawa) —The RCMP has pulled its support from a handbook aimed at stopping young Canadians from being recruited by extremist groups, saying parts of the booklet have an "adversarial tone." The police force is listed as a contributor in the handbook, titled United Against Terrorism: A Collaborative Effort Towards a Secure, Inclusive and Just Canada. The publication was written by the National Council of Canadian Muslims and Islamic Social Services Association. It was released at a Winnipeg mosque on Monday. But in a statement issued late Tuesday, the RCMP said it is no longer supporting the project. The 38-page handbook is directed mainly at Muslims, asking readers what Islam requires from Muslim citizens in a non-Muslim country. The RCMP contributed to a section titled "Understanding radicalization and the role of RCMP in law enforcement and national security." (CBC, Sept. 30, 2014)

 

POPE CALLS MIDEAST ENVOYS TO VATICAN AS ISLAMIC STATE ADVANCES (Rome) —Pope Francis, who has expressed alarm over the rise of I.S. and the plight of Christians in the Middle East, has summoned his envoys in the region to a rare meeting to discuss a response to the crisis, the Vatican said on Tuesday. The Oct. 2-4 gathering will include Vatican ambassadors to Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Israel and the Palestinians as well as representatives to the United Nations and the European Union. Earlier this month during a visit to predominantly Muslim Albania, Francis issued a strong criticism of Islamist militants, saying no religious group which used violence and oppression could claim to be "the armor of God." (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 30, 2014)

 

CONVICTED COP-KILLER MUMIA ABU-JAMAL IS COLLEGE COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER  (Plainfield, VT) —Mumia Abu-Jamal was unanimously convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1982. Abu-Jamal was originally sentenced to death. His sentence was ultimately vacated and instead became life imprisonment, because of a ruling that the jury had not been properly instructed. And now Goddard College, in Plainfield, Vermont, has invited Abu-Jamal to give its graduating seniors the commencement speech. As a convicted murderer, Abu-Jamal cannot leave prison to give the speech, but he has pre-recorded it and the speech will be played at the school’s commencement. “Choosing Mumia as their commencement speaker, to me, shows how this newest group of Goddard graduates expresses their freedom to engage and think radically and critically in a world that often sets up barriers to do just that,” the interim president of Goddard stated in a press release issued by the school. Although the press release states that Abu-Jamal was a 1996 graduate of Goddard College, the convicted murderer has been in prison since 1981. (Jewish Press, Sept. 30, 2014)  

 

On Topic Links 

 

Duplicitous Abbas Comes out of the Closet: Isi leibler, Candidly Speaking, Oct. 1, 2014 —Even the few delusional apologists who maintain that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is a genuine partner for peace must have been stunned by his obscene and demagogic address on Rosh Hashana at the United Nations General Assembly.

Post-Arab Spring, Hisham Melhem Fears 'Arab Civilization Has Collapsed' (Interview): CBC, Sept. 30, 2014 —Across much of the Arab world, there are citizens who saw a struggle against dictators as a chance for democracy, only to face more tyranny. Hisham Melhem says it is nothing short of the collapse of Arab civilization and that the so-called Arab elite, must stop blaming the west and work to fix it themselves.

Obama Needs to Call Bush: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 29, 2014 —Bill Clinton made news earlier this month when he revealed, at a joint appearance with George W. Bush, that the 43rd president used to call him twice a year during his troubled second term "just to talk."

The Yom Kippur Fast: Dry Bones Blog, Oct. 1, 2014

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

Media-ocrity of the Week

 

The following is a letter written by CIJR’s Publications Chairman
to the
Jerusalem Post’s editor.

 

Re: Of Hate and Hope (Jerusalem Post, February 23.)

 

The publication of Daniel Eisenbud’s denigration of a “nefarious breed of Jewish immigrant [that] comes [to Israel] filled with rage” crosses the line. That any law-abiding Jew who has made aliyah be described in the world’s premier Zionist newspaper as a “ravenous shark surrounded by chunks of fish in bloodied waters,” and be compared to “cancer cells,” is scandalous. And for the author to suggest that the presence of these Jews “most upsets the balance” in Israel, as opposed to the surrounding countries’ “murderous hatred that tries to permeate [Israel’s] borders day after day, second after second,” is preposterous.

 

Mr. Eisenbud’s subsequent refusal to reveal the identity of this “toxic” group, coupled with his failure to at the very least inquire as to the nature of the purported grievances of these “immigrant[s] with a mentality of anger,” further puts into question the author’s journalistic integrity.

 

Worse is that Mr. Eisenbud implies that these “ailing” Jews, primarily for the likes of whom Israel was reborn in 1948, are somehow destroying the Zionist dream. Rather than reaching out, Mr. Eisenbud encourages these Jews to “go back to where [they] came from” because they have “nothing of substance to offer” and are merely “expedit[ing Israel’s] destruction.”

 

This type of know-nothing chauvinist statement is expected from “oil-rich countries with ideologies about Jews that would have made Hitler glow with pride.” Not from a Jew. And, equally disturbing, is why the Jerusalem Post, under new editorial direction, would see fit to publish such a vicious and poorly-written piece.

Weekly Quotes

 

Since I last wrote to you ten days ago, ten more rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli communities. Ten days. Ten rockets. Not one word of condemnation from the Security Council. It is time for the Council to speak with one voice and act with one purpose against the terrorists that operate with impunity in the Gaza Strip.”—Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, in a letter sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, expressing outrage over the UN Security Council’s failure to condemn the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israel. (Ynet news, February 28.)

 

The Agency continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.”—Excerpt of an International Atomic Energy Agency statement, confirming in a new report that Iran has sharply increased its uranium enrichment in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. The nuclear watchdog also announced the failure of its mission to Tehran last week, saying that Iranian officials refused to respond to allegations of research relevant to developing nuclear arms. (Reuters, February 24.)

 

“[Iran] has not made a decision to produce a nuclear weapon, they are not on the verge of getting a nuclear weapon, and there is still time and space for diplomacy to work.”—Anthony Blinken, National Security Adviser to US Vice President Joe Biden, describing the Obama administration’s Iran policy as “buying time and continuing to move this problem into the future.” According to Blinken, “if you can do that strange things can happen in the interim. You never know.” (Haaretz, February 28.)

 

One issue will be central: the increasing power of Iran.”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, confirming his upcoming March 5 meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington will primarily concern Iran. (Jerusalem Post, February 26.)

 

Israeli officials’ remarks about launching an attack against Iran are ridicules [sic].” A military attack by the Zionist regime will undoubtedly lead to the collapse of this regime.”—Iranian Defense Minister, Brig.-Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, claiming that Israel is “on the verge of dissolution,” and that a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would hasten the Jewish state’s demise. (Jerusalem Post, February 25.)

 

If Iran’s goal is to convince the world its nuclear program is not aimed at creating a weapon to use against Israel, it’s going about it the wrong way. Tehran’s government-run Farsi News Agency has published an interview with the widow of the nuclear scientist who was recently killed under mysterious circumstances that most observers believe is the work of Israel’s Mossad.… But rather than attempt to tug at the heartstrings of the West or to convince the world her husband was innocent…Fatemeh Bolouri Kashani’s statement will have quite the opposite effect. According to Kashani, her late husband…had strong feelings about his work: ‘Mostafa’s ultimate goal was the annihilation of Israel.…”—Jonathan S. Tobin, in “Slain Iranian Nuclear Scientist’s Goal: Annihilate Israel.” Similarly, following last November’s mysterious death at a missile factory of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Gen. Hassan Tehrani-Moghadam, the Iranian press published his last will and testament, in which he requested the epitaph, “This is the grave of someone who wanted to destroy Israel.” (Contentions, February 22 & 24.)

 

I’m disappointed that the game was cancelled. They told me it was cancelled because I’m Israeli.”—Avram Grant, coach of Serbia’s Partizan Belgrad soccer club, following Iran-based Sepahan Isfahan’s decision to cancel a training match between the teams due to Grant’s Israeli nationality. (Jerusalem Post, February 20.)

 

The commission received credible and consistent evidence identifying high- and mid-ranking members of the armed forces who ordered their subordinates to shoot at unarmed protesters, kill soldiers who refused to obey such orders, arrest persons without cause, mistreat detained persons and attack civilian neighborhoods with indiscriminate tanks and machine-gun fire.”—Excerpts from a United Nations report on Syria, confirming that crimes against humanity have been perpetrated by Syrian forces under orders from the “highest level” of army and government officials. (Reuters, February 23.)

 

There are credible reports that the death toll now often exceeds 100 civilians a day, including many women and children. The total killed so far is certainly well over 7,500 people.”—UN Under-Secretary-General for political affairs, Lynn Pascoe, informing the Security Council that more than 7,500 people have been killed in Syria during the Assad regime’s brutal 11-month crackdown on protesters. (Reuters, February 28.)

 

The event was held in order to reject the conspiracy taking shape against Syria, with the US leading this move along with Qatar and Saudi Arabia. They wish to sow terror within Syria and hold the regime accountable.”—Arab-Israeli Knesset member Issam Makhoul, at a conference in Haifa organized by the Popular Committee for Syria’s Victory, expressing solidarity with Syrian President Bashar Assad, and claiming the turmoil in Syria is the result of a conspiracy led by “enemies of the Syrian people.” According to Makhoul, “The State of Israel is an important player in this state of affairs and continues to support the bloodshed in Syria.” (Ynet News, February 26.)

 

I salute all the nations of the Arab Spring and I salute the heroic people of Syria who are striving for freedom, democracy and reform.”—Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, publicly severing the terror organization’s former close ties to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, and casting Hamas’ lot with the Syrian opposition. (Reuters, February 24.)

 

“The Israeli government is determined to destroy any chance of resuming the peace process. The leaks are intended for public relations.”—Chief PLO negotiator, Saeb Erekat, accusing the Israeli government of leaking information pertaining to the recent peace talks in Jordan. Erekat’s comments came in response to Israeli media reports that the positions on the issue of borders presented by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the Palestinians did not significantly differ from those tabled by then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni at the Annapolis Conference in 2007. (Jerusalem Post, February 22.)

 

Palestine is a state built on struggle
With the Martyr’s blood, with gunfire
It [Palestine] will restore the plant to its land
It will bring home those who are distant
It will return the stolen [property] to its inhabitants
So that Arab honor will not be degraded
Oh treacherous aggressor, oh sinner [Israel]
We will rise like the sun shining on dry grass.
”—Excerpt of a song broadcast on official Palestinian Authority television. The video aired on Jan. 20, 2012 and Feb. 1, 2012. (Palestinian Media Watch, February 23.)

 

I’ve had the great privilege of sitting next to the giants of the judicial system. The turnover of justices in the Supreme Court casts heavy responsibility upon us, the incumbent judges. We must preserve the magnificent tradition of the court. The State of Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, and it must preserve the Jewish values and protect the ways of democracy.”— Asher Grunis, after being sworn in as the new president of Israel’s Supreme Court, replacing outgoing chief justice Dorit Beinisch. (Ynet news, February 28.)

 

It’s an outrage.… These are hypocritical candidacies. [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez throws judges and critics in jail, bullies young student activists and uses his UN vote to shield the atrocities of others. Venezuela just voted against UN action on the horrific massacres perpetrated by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Pakistan persecutes religious minorities, including Sufis, Shiites, Ahmadis and Christians. Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, is on death row in Pakistan under Pakistan’s medieval blasphemy law. Pakistan’s judicial system punishes women who are victimized by rape instead of the rapists.… We call on all UN member states to state clearly that Venezuela and Pakistan are not qualified to be members of the Human Rights Council, and to strongly oppose their candidacies.”—Executive director of UN Watch, Hillel Neuer, condemning bids by Venezuela and Pakistan to join the UN’s 47-nation Human Rights Council. Last year, UN Watch exposed Syria’s candidacy to the council, and initiated a diplomatic campaign that pressured Damascus to drop its bid at the last minute. (UN Watch, February 22.)

 

Short Takes

 

PM: IAEA REPORT PROVES IRAN CONTINUING NUCLEAR PROGRAM—(Jerusalem) According to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest report proves that Iran’s nuclear program is progressing “without let-up.” The report shows that Iran has carried out a significant expansion of activities at its main uranium enrichment plants, Natanz and Fordow. At Natanz, the IAEA said 52 cascades—each containing around 170 centrifuges—are now operating, up from 37 in November. At the Fordow facility, buried beneath 80 meters (265 feet) of rock and soil, almost 700 centrifuges are now refining uranium to a fissile concentration of 20 percent and preparations are under way to install many more. (Jerusalem Post, February 25.)

 

UN CONDEMNS TERRORIST ATTACKS ON ISRAELI OFFICIALS—(Jerusalem) The United Nations Security Council has condemned “in the strongest terms” the Iranian-sponsored terrorist attack against Israeli diplomats in New Delhi, India and the attempted attack in Tbilisi, Georgia. The UN resolution stated that terrorism poses “one of the most serious threats to peace and security,” and that terrorist acts are “criminal and unjustifiable.” Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, welcomed the resolution, saying it was the first time the Security Council condemned a terror attack against Israeli targets since 2005. (Jerusalem Post, February 24.)

 

PALESTINIANS ATTACK CHRISTIAN TOURISTS AT TEMPLE MOUNT—(Jerusalem) Palestinians worshiping at the Temple Mount have attacked a group of Christian tourists with stones, reportedly in reaction to a rumor that a group of right-wing Jews were planning to destroy the Al-Aksa mosque and build the Third Temple in its place. Some 18 Palestinians were arrested in connection with the attacks, following clashes with Jerusalem police, which left three officers injured. The incident comes a week after a regularly scheduled visit to the Temple Mount by Likud Party member Moshe Feiglin was canceled after flyers appeared in the area claiming he was visiting the historic site in order to “declare that healthy leadership begins with total control over Temple Mount.” (JTA, February 19.)

 

‘FRIENDS OF SYRIA’ DEMAND ACCESS FOR AID AT ONCE—(Tunis) Representatives from more than 60 governments have met in Tunis for the first “Friends of Syria” summit. At the one-day gathering, participants backed an Arab League plan calling on President Bashar Assad to cede power, and recognized Syria’s main opposition, the Syrian National Council, “as a legitimate representative of Syrians seeking peaceful democratic change.” A draft declaration from the meeting called on Syria to “immediately cease all violence,” to allow the United Nations access to Homs, and to let agencies deliver humanitarian aid to civilians. Following the meeting, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said he would dispatch former UN chief Kofi Annan to Syria as a joint U.N.-Arab League envoy. (Reuters, February 24 & Wall Street Journal, February 25.)

 

KREMLIN: RUSSIA, IRAN OPPOSE INTERVENTION IN SYRIA—(Moscow) Following a phone conversation between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Kremlin has released a statement reiterating Moscow and Tehran’s position that the crisis in Syria be resolved without foreign intervention. According to the statement, the two Presidents discussed “the dramatic situation developing around Syria” and called for an internal Syrian political dialogue “without preliminary conditions”—wording suggesting Assad should not be required to step down as a condition for talks. Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has protected Syrian President Bashar Assad from UN condemnation and potential sanctions throughout the regime’s crackdown on protests. Syria is Iran’s sole ally in the Arab world. (Reuters, February 22.)

 

ABBAS URGES ARABS TO FIGHT JUDAIZATION OF J’LEM—(Jerusalem) Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called on Arabs and Muslims to visit Jerusalem to counter what he called Israel’s accelerated efforts to ‘Judaize’ the city. Speaking at the International Conference for the Defense of Jerusalem in Doha, Qatar, Abbas urged participants to defend Jerusalem “against Israeli violation at all levels,” and was quoted by the Palestinian Ma’an news agency as saying: “The Israeli occupation authorities are using the ugliest and most dangerous means to implement plans to erase and remove the Arab-Islamic and the Christian character of east Jerusalem.” In response, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Office issued a statement calling Abbas’ comments “harshly inflammatory” and “not how one makes peace.” Hamas immediately rejected Abbas’ invitation to visit Jerusalem, with spokesman Fawzi Barhoum saying Hamas officials would only enter the city in order to “liberate Jerusalem” and “deliver it from the occupation.” (Jerusalem Post, February 26 & 27.)

 

CAIRO TRIAL OF NGO WORKERS ADJOURNED TO APRIL—(Cairo) An Egyptian court has adjourned until April 26 the trial of dozens of democracy activists, including 16 Americans, following the opening session of a case that has strained US-Egypt relations. Forty-three foreign and Egyptian non-profit workers—including the son of the US transportation secretary—stand accused of receiving illegal funds from abroad and carrying out political activities unrelated to their civil society work. According to Khaled Suleiman, a lawyer acting against the defendants, the trial’s postponement will allow for more time to arrive at a diplomatic solution to the case. A senior US official confirmed that Washington and Cairo are holding “intense discussions” to resolve the crisis. Otherwise, Congress has threatened to cut off 1.5 b. in annual aid to Egypt. (Reuters, February 26.)

 

ISLAMISTS DOMINATE IN EGYPT’S UPPER HOUSE VOTE—(Cairo) The Muslim Brotherhood has won 58 percent of the seats contested in the Egyptian parliament’s upper house, known as the Shura Council, further solidifying its role as the country’s most powerful political group. Egypt’s election commission also confirmed that the ultraconservative Al-Nour party placed second, claiming a quarter of the seats, while liberal parties, including the Egyptian bloc and Wafd, came in third with a combined 12 percent of the seats. Two-thirds of the seats are filled by elections and the rest are appointed. The 270-seat upper house has no legislative powers and enjoys only a consultative role. (AFP, February 26.)

 

WIDESPREAD ATTACKS KILL DOZENS ACROSS IRAQ—(Baghdad) A barrage of explosions and drive-by shootings have killed and wounded dozens of people across Iraq. According to security officials, who provided a preliminary toll of at least 33 killed and 127 wounded, most of the attacks occurred in Baghdad and targeted security forces as well as civilian neighborhoods usually congested during early morning rush hour. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks; however, an audio statement issued last month, allegedly from the spokesman for an al Qaeda affiliate known as the Islamic State of Iraq, had vowed “open war” against the country’s Shiite-led government and warned that members of the country’s security forces would be targeted unless they quit their jobs. The terror group, which espouses a severe form of Sunni Islam, previously claimed responsibility for most of the bombings that have taken place in the country since the end of the U.S. military mission in December. (Wall Street Journal, February 23.)

 

US OFFICERS KILLED IN AFGHAN INTERIOR MINISTRY—(Kabul) NATO’s top commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, citing “force protection reasons,” has recalled all staff working at ministries in Afghanistan’s capital after two high-ranking American officers were shot dead inside the Interior Ministry. Rage continues to grip Afghanistan over last week’s accidental burning of Korans at a US military base north of Kabul. The total death toll since riots broke out throughout stands at more than 30, with hundreds more injured. Numerous high-ranking US officials have apologized for the incident. (Reuters & LA Times, February 25.)

 

REPORT: ISRAEL’S SECURITY SITUATION WORST IN DECADES—(Jerusalem) According to a study released by Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, the Arab revolts and an emboldened Iran have created the most precarious security situation for Israel since the end of the Cold War. The report, “The 2011 Arab Uprisings and Israel’s National Security,” was authored by the center’s director, Prof. Efraim Inbar, who claims that Israel’s security environment is “worse now than at any time in the last two decades.” [Please see ‘On Topic’ section for the full report—Ed.] (Jerusalem Post, February 29.)

 

ISRAEL NAMES FIRST EVER ETHIOPIAN-BORN AMBASSADOR—(Jerusalem) Israel’s Foreign Ministry has announced the appointment of Beylanesh Zevadia as envoy to Ethiopia, the Jewish state’s first ever Ethiopian-born ambassador. Zevadia, 44, grew up in the village of Ambova in the Gondar province before making aliyah 28 years ago. After attending ulpan at Jerusalem’s Ulpan Etzion, Zevadia went to work for the Jewish Agency during Operation Moses, the airlift from November 21, 1984 to January 5, 1985 that brought some 8,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Zevadia previously served at Israel’s consulates in Houston and Chicago. (Jerusalem Post, February 28.)

 

CANADIAN MINISTER SUPPORTS ISRAELI-OWNED STORE—(Jerusalem) Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, has visited Lavan, a store in Vancouver which has been the target of anti-Israel demonstrators. Local pro-Arab groups have called for a boycott of the cosmetics store due to its sale of beauty products made in Israel’s Dead Sea. During his stop at Lavan, Kenney expressed the support of the Canadian government, and purchased a few products. Minister Kenney, along with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is known for his staunch support for Israel. (Israel National News, February 24.)