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-ocrities of the Week: “Mr. Shaloudy was a resident of Silwan, a predominantly Palestinian neighborhood in territory that Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war and later annexed, a step that has not been recognized internationally. An influx of right-wing Jewish settlers who have acquired property in the area in recent years have made the neighborhood a flash point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” —Isabel Kershner, reporting on the story of an Arab that rammed his car into a crowd of Jews killing two people, including a three month-old baby. Mr. Shaloudy, the Arab man who killed two people, is described as a “resident of Silwan, a predominantly Palestinian neighborhood”. He sounded like a peaceful neighbor living among his people. The article painted the Jews as “right wing.” On what basis? That they moved into a “predominantly Palestinian neighborhood”? That they moved into houses that “has not been recognized internationally” to be part of Israel? They took no actions that warrant being called “right wing”. (Jewish Press, Oct. 28, 2014)

 

“Israeli police shoot man in east Jerusalem,” —headline the Associated Press ran following the terrorist attack in Jerusalem.  As Jonah Goldberg pointed out in National Review, AP then changed the headline to “Car slams into east Jerusalem train station.” Finally, after widespread outrage on social media, they changed it to “Palestinian kills baby at Jerusalem station.” (Algemeiner, Oct. 23, 2014)

 

On Topic Links  

 

Bibi and Barack on the Rocks: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 27, 2014

Political Correctness and Islam: Michael Freund, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 27, 2014

Historic Justice: A Kurdish State Now: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Oct. 23, 2014

New York Jews Protested ‘Klinghoffer’ While it Passed Silently in London: Shmuley Boteach, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 27, 2014

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

"Tragic attacks, which took place in both Canada and Israel, remind us all of the threats posed to our democracies and to our freedoms by radical ideas, beliefs and motives. It also reminds us of the need to defend ourselves from extreme violence, tyranny and aggression," —MK Ronen Hoffman, Israeli chairman of the Canada-Israel Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group. Hoffman wrote a letter of support and condolences following the terrorist attacks in Montreal and Ottawa last week. Hoffman wrote that both Israel and Canada must defend itself from extremists, and that he prays and hopes for better times in both countries. Last week, on the same day as an Arab terrorist drove into a Jerusalem light rail station, injuring a dozen people and killing a three-month-old, a man shot a soldier at the Canadian National War Monument in Ottawa and then continued shooting in a parliament building. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 28, 2014)

 

“The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickens**t,” —a senior Obama administration official, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu by his nickname. This comment is representative of the gloves-off manner in which American and Israeli officials now talk about each other behind closed doors, and is yet another sign that relations between the Obama and Netanyahu governments have moved toward a full-blown crisis. The relationship between these two administrations— dual guarantors of the putatively “unbreakable” bond between the U.S. and Israel—is now the worst it's ever been, and it stands to get significantly worse after the November midterm elections. “The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the official said, expanding the definition of what a chickens**t Israeli prime minister looks like. “The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.” (Atlantic, Oct. 28, 2014)

 

“They’re killing us…we need the international community to stand with us. We need help to provide for our people.” —Canon Andrew White, vicar of Baghdad’s St. Georges, Iraq’s only Anglican church, during a recent visit to Israel. The “Vicar of Baghdad” has quit Iraq after death threats and the beheading of children attached to his church by Islamic terrorists. “We need the international community to stand with us. We need help to provide for our people,” he added. White believes the only answer to the terrorism and killing by the Islamic State is American “boots on the ground.” Asked whether I.S. could be reasoned with, Canon White said, “No…ISIS is driven by that passion that Iraq has gone very, very wrong. Among terrorists, often they have lost something big. And the Sunnis have lost ultimately their power, their responsibility and their significance. Under the Saddam Hussein regime they had essence; now they have nothing. We can kill a few ISIS people from the clouds; we can kill some of our innocent civilians; but we can’t really bring about change” until “American ground troops,” enter the fray. Canon White said U.S. President Barack Obama made the mistake of pulling out of Iraq before the country could guarantee the safety of the people. “ISIS are going around causing their chaos with American weapons, in American tanks, in American armored vehicles and their Humvees because that man Obama left us. And we are seeing our people killed because of that mistake,” he said. And if U.S. ground forces do not come? “Radical Islamist extremists will increase in authority and power,” he said. “They’re already ruling much of the country. What they will not be able to rule is areas in the south because the Shiites will not allow them to because that is where their holy shrines are. Religion means they will not let their most holy places be destroyed.” (National Post, Oct. 24, 2014)

 

“Bill Maher is a blatant bigot and racist who has no respect for the values UC Berkeley students and administration stand for,” —petition signed by a group of students at the University of California, Berkeley, demanding that the administration rescind an invitation to comedian Bill Maher to deliver the keynote commencement speech in protest of his remarks against Islam. “Bill Maher’s public statements on various religions and cultures are offensive and his dangerous rhetoric has found its way into our campus communities,” the petition explained. Maher recently made headlines after he engaged actor Ben Affleck in a heated debate about Muslims. On Maher’s HBO talk program Real Time, the comedian, Affleck, and noted atheist Sam Harris debated whether Islam was “a religion of peace,” with Maher and Harris offering a dissenting view. An incensed Affleck replied that their sentiments were “gross and racist.” Students at Berkeley, long regarded as a bastion of liberalism, appear to side with Affleck. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 28, 2014)

 

“Would the Met present an opera based on the ‘Death of Robert Kennedy Jr.’ by the Palestinian ‘freedom fighter’ Sirhan Sirhan? Why doesn’t the liberal establishment ever speak about Robert Kennedy’s assassination as a Palestinian terrorist act?” —Robert Feinberg, in a letter to the New York Post. The John Adams opera The Death of Klinghoffer opened last week at New York’s Metropolitan Opera amid accusations that the 1991 work is antisemitic and glorifies terrorism. Faced with controversy, the Met agreed to include a message from the Klinghoffers’ daughters, Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer, in its playbill and on its website. (New York Post, Oct. 26, 2014)

 

“It is not a Holocaust museum, it is a museum of life. It is a place that commemorates what was, what will never be again, and the hope for a different future,” —Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, at the opening of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. Rivlin described Poland as the place that nurtured the creative soul of the Jewish people. “To our great sorrow, it is also the largest graveyard of the Jewish people,” he said. “This was the birthplace of the shtetl, and this is where it died,” he continued, speaking of the Nazis herding the Jews of Poland into ghettos, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the heroism of the fighters, and the Jews marching to their deaths wearing prayer shawls and yellow stars. Rivlin said he was representing not just himself, but “an entire nation – a nation whose collective journey delves deep into the foundations of Jewish and human existence and into the depths of evil. As a Jew, even if you were not born in Poland, the very name, Poland, gives rise to a shuddering in your body and a longing in your heart.” Even though Jews were removed from Poland, he said, Poland was not removed from the Jews. “We cannot erase history, a history so rich, so painful,” he said. Although Poland occupies a significant place in Jewish history, Rivlin made it clear that the saga of the Jewish people did not begin in Warsaw, nor did it end in Auschwitz. “The saga of the Jewish people began in the land of Israel, and it will always remain in Israel against all odds,” he declared. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 28, 2014)

 

Be it resolved, that SSMU publicly condemns a) the recent destruction of schools, universities, and hospitals, and all violence against civilians in Gaza and other Palestinian occupied territories; b) the siege on Gaza; and c) the continued illegal expansion of settlements,” —Motion calling on SSMU (Students’ Society of McGill University) to stand in solidarity with the people of the “Occupied Palestinian Territories.” The anti-Israel motion, presented at SSMU’s General Assembly on October 22, failed and was postponed indefinitely. (McGill Daily, Oct. 23, 2014)

 

Contents

 

SHORT TAKES

 

TORIES SET TO INTRODUCE BILL BEEFING UP CSIS’S ABILITY TO MONITOR CANADIANS (Ottawa)— The federal government said it would introduce a bill Monday afternoon to boost the ability of the country’s spy agency to monitor Canadians. The government originally planned to put the bill forward last Wednesday, before a gunman stormed Parliament Hill, sending MPs and Hill employees into an extended lockdown and abruptly ending the day’s business. At the time, the government said the legislation would include: Allowing CSIS to obtain information on Canadians fighting abroad with terror groups through the “Five Eyes” spy network, which includes Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Letting CSIS more easily track Canadians engaging in terrorist activities abroad, and similarly helping a Five Eyes country track its nationals working with terror groups in Canada. (National Post, Oct. 27, 2014)

 

ISRAEL AIR FORCE WORLD’S BEST; ARMY TOP IN MIDDLE EAST: STUDY (Jerusalem)— The Israeli Air Force is “the best in the world,” and the Israel Defense Forces are the best ground fighters in the region, according to research by two major military analysts, Business Insider (BI) reported Monday. The army rankings do not take into account allies outside of the Middle East, such as the United States, Russia, China, or Iran. The authors pointed out that the IDF, with a $15 billion defense budget, 176,500 active front-line personnel, 3,870 tanks, and 680 aircraft, has had, since the Jewish State’s creation in 1948, to constantly evaluate a complex matrix of foes, both state and non-state actors, in a highly unstable region. Despite rising diplomatic and political friction between the Israeli government and the Obama administration, military ties are reportedly strong, and Israel has agreed to purchase a second F-35 Joint Strike Fighter squadron, in the wake of the latest visit to the US  by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. (Algemeiner, Oct. 28, 2014)

 

OBAMA SNUBS ISRAELI DEFENCE MINISTER (Washington)— Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was denied meetings with top U.S. officials during his visit to Washington last week. While Ya'alon did see Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, the officials said the White House and State Department rejected Israeli proposals for meetings with Vice President Joe Biden, national security adviser Susan Rice and Secretary of State John Kerry. This week's refusals come amid increasingly strained U.S.-Israel relations, particularly over criticism of Kerry by several members of the Israeli cabinet, including Ya'alon. Several months ago Ya’alon was quoted as describing Kerry as "obsessive and messianic." Ya'alon later apologized for the remarks, stating that he had no intention of "offending" Kerry. In a more recent incident, Kerry blamed Israel for the rise in global jihadism, insisting that Israel "humiliated" the Palestinian Arabs and that it has led to a "loss of dignity," leading to a recruitment draw toward ISIS. (Arutz Sheva, Oct. 25, 2014)

 

UNREST IN JERUSALEM SIMMERS MONTHS AFTER END OF GAZA WAR (Jerusalem)— Unrest escalated the day after a Palestinian driver rammed into a crowded train station and killed a 3-month-old Israeli girl, punctuating a surge in violence in the city over the past few months that hasn’t been seen since the first Palestinian uprising 25 years ago. Israelis and Palestinians staged angry demonstrations on Thursday over the killing in predominantly Arab East Jerusalem a day earlier. Holding signs calling for revenge, dozens of Israeli youths crowded the light rail station that Israel said was targeted by Abdel Rahman Shaloudi, a resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, in an act of terrorism. “Arabs, beware,” they chanted. “Jewish blood is not worthless.’’ Masked youths clutching stones stood Thursday under banners for the Gaza Strip’s Islamist Hamas rulers near Shaloudi’s home in the cramped streets of impoverished Silwan. The youths praised him as a martyr, and vowed retaliation. (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 25, 2014)

 

IRAQ CAR BOMBINGS LEAVE 38 PEOPLE DEAD, DOZENS WOUNDED (Baghdad)— Two car bombings in Iraq, including one where a suicide attacker drove a Humvee into a checkpoint manned by Iraqi troops and pro-government Shia militiamen, killed at least 38 people Monday. The deadliest attack struck the outskirts of the Sunni town of Jurf al-Sakhar. Most of those killed were members of the Shia militia. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the bombings bore all the hallmarks of an attack by the Islamic State group. Islamic State group militants lost control of the town Sunday, when Iraqi soldiers and the Shia militia retook it from the Sunni extremist group. Since August, airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition has targeted the group as Iraqi and Kurdish security forces work to retake territory it seized. (CBC, Oct. 27, 2014)

 

ISIS USING CHLORINE GAS BOMBS, POLICE SAY (Baghdad)— 11 Iraqi police officers were rushed to a government hospital 80 kilometres north of the capital last month. The diagnosis: poisoning by chlorine gas. The perpetrators, according to the officers: ISIS extremists. The chlorine attack appears to be the first confirmed use of chemical weapons by Islamic State on the battlefield. It is one of three crude chlorine attacks that Iraqi forces say have occurred since the extremists seized vast tracts of Iraqi territory this summer, although details on the other two incidents remain sketchy. ISIS’ reported chlorine attacks appear to have been largely ineffectual. The attack on the police officers is the only one officially documented. Chlorine, a common component in industry, is sold legally, but its use as a weapon violates the Chemical Weapons Convention. (National Post, Oct. 24, 2014)

 

ISLAMIST PARTY IN TUNISIA CONCEDES TO SECULARISTS (Tunis)— The secular Nidaa Tounes party won the largest number of seats in Tunisia’s parliamentary elections on Monday, defeating its main rival, the Islamist party Ennahda, which just three years ago swept to power as the North African nation celebrated the fall of its longtime dictator in the Arab Spring revolution. Though just a few official results had been released on Monday night, Ennahda’s leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, called Beji Caid Essebsi, the 87-year-old leader of Nidaa Tounes, on Monday evening to congratulate him. The swing away from Ennahda, a large, well-organized party built along the lines of the Muslim Brotherhood with deep roots throughout the country, to Nidaa Tounes surprised many. Nidaa Tounes is a newly formed alliance of former government officials, left-wing politicians and secularists, who came together in 2012 in opposition to the Islamists. (New York Times, Oct. 27, 2014)

 

ISLAMISTS ON VERGE OF CAPTURING LIBYA’S OILFIELDS, EGYPT WARNS (Cairo)— Egypt is warning terrorist groups are poised to seize control of Libya’s oilfields, as the country’s foreign minister appealed for an expansion of the campaign against jihadists fighting for the Islamic State to tackle extremism threatening North Africa. Sameh Shukri, the Egyptian foreign minister, used a visit to London to push for a new approach from Britain and the West to Islamist violence in Egypt and its neighbours. Egypt has supported the Libyan government against Islamist militias that now control most of the country’s big cities and large swaths of territory, though not yet the oilfields capable of producing 2.7 million barrels a day. Given the shared ideological roots of the Muslim Brotherhood and violent Islamist movements, the Egyptian foreign minister said the fight could not be won in Iraq and Syria alone. (National Post, Oct. 27, 2014) 

 

ACID ATTACKS AGAINST IRANIAN WOMEN PROMPTS PROTESTS (Isfahan)— A spate of acid attacks against women and girls in the Iranian city Isfahan has been met with street rallies and social media protests. At least eight such attacks — which are generally carried out by assailants on motorbikes who fling acid into their victims' faces — have occurred in recent weeks, with some Isfahan residents saying they suspect the number is higher. The group of motorcyclists are reportedly throwing acid on women whose hejabs, the veils to be worn over the hair in the Islamic Republic, do not meet this gang’s standards.  Rallies to denounce the attacks have been held in several cities including Isfahan, in central Iran, and the capital, Tehran. Mindful of past crackdowns, however, the demonstrators generally disperse quickly when confronted by police.  (Los Angeles Times, Oct. 27, 2014)

 

IRAN'S HANGING OF REYHANEH JABBARI CONDEMNED (Tehran)— Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26, was hanged in a Tehran prison on Saturday morning. She had been convicted of killing a man she said was trying to sexually abuse her. Jabbari was arrested in 2007 for the murder of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former intelligence ministry worker. Both the US State Department and British Foreign Office condemned the execution. After her arrest, Jabbari had been placed in solitary confinement for two months, where she reportedly did not have access to a lawyer or her family. She was sentenced to death by a criminal court in Tehran in 2009. Amnesty International said she was convicted after a deeply flawed investigation. Although Jabbari admitted to stabbing Abdolali Sarbandi once in the back, she alleged that there was someone else in the house who actually killed him. The United Nations says Iran has executed about 250 people this year. (BBC, Oct. 25, 2014)

 

NORTH KOREA CLOSER TO BUILDING NUCLEAR MISSILE, PENTAGON SAYS (Pyongyang)— North Korea probably has the capability to produce a nuclear warhead that could be mounted on a rocket, a top U.S. commander said Friday, moving it closer to building a nuclear missile. Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. forces on the Korean peninsula, said North Korea now is capable of building a miniaturized nuclear warhead, a step needed to complete development of a nuclear-tipped missile. Such nuclear warheads would be small enough to fit on a ballistic missile and would be a major improvement to Pyongyang’s weapons technology. Gen. Scaparrotti said he believes North Korea also has developed a launcher that could carry an intercontinental ballistic missile with a miniaturized warhead. (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 24, 2014)

 

IRISH SENATE CALLS FOR RECOGNITION OF 'PALESTINE' (Dublin)— Ireland's upper house of parliament on Wednesday passed a motion calling on the Dublin government to recognize “the state of Palestine.” Much like last week’s vote in Britain, the move is a symbolic one that is unlikely to change policy. The motion called on the "government to formally recognize the state of Palestine and do everything it can to help secure a viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so that citizens of both states can live in peace and security." It had cross-party support and passed without a vote. The British and Irish moves came after Sweden pledged its commitment to recognize a Palestinian state on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. (Arutz Sheva, Oct. 23, 2014)

 

SIR NICHOLAS WINTON HONOURED BY CZECHS FOR SAVING CHILDREN FROM NAZIS (Prague)— Sir Nicholas Winton was 29 when he arranged trains to take the children out of occupied Czechoslovakia, and for foster families to meet them in London. The 105-year-old was given the Order of the White Lion by the Czech president during a ceremony at Prague Castle. The remarkable mission of the man dubbed the "British Schindler" began in 1938 after the Nazi occupation of the Sudetenland, the name for areas of pre-war Czechoslovakia. Winton visited refugee camps outside Prague and decided to help children secure British permits in the same way children from other countries had been rescued by kindertransports. He organised a total of eight trains from Prague to London and helped to find foster families for the refugees. A ninth train – the largest, carrying 250 children – was prevented from leaving by the outbreak of World War Two. None of those children is believed to have survived. When asked what he made of today's world, Sir Nicholas responded: "I don't think we've ever learnt from the mistakes of the past… The world today is now in a more dangerous situation than it has ever been and so long as you've got weapons of mass destruction which can finish off any conflict, nothing is safe any more." (BBC, Oct. 28, 2014)

On Topic Links 

 

Bibi and Barack on the Rocks: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 27, 2014 —The relationship between the Obama administration and the government of Israel is beginning to look like one of those longtime marriages you encounter all the time.

Political Correctness and Islam: Michael Freund, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 27, 2014—For much of the past 13 years, ever since al-Qaida attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, the West has found itself confronting an increasingly dangerous foe in the form of jihadist terror.

Historic Justice: A Kurdish State Now: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Oct. 23, 2014 —The borders of most of the Arab countries east of the Mediterranean were delineated in the period following WWI, on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. The borders were fixed on the basis of British and French interests and the ties those two countries had formed with local groups.

New York Jews Protested ‘Klinghoffer’ While it Passed Silently in London: Shmuley Boteach, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 27, 2014—Abe Foxman will soon be retiring as head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

Media-ocrities of the Week

 

Iran, given its special relations with Syria, can be part of the solution.”—UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria Kofi Annan, in Tehran, claimed that Iran with its surrogate Hezbollah continues to contribute militarily to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brutal crackdown. Nevertheless, Annan contended that Iran can play a role in resolving the Syrian conflict. (Wall Street Journal, April 11.)

 

I am very happy that Syrian officials are managing the situation well.…”—Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, praising Syrian President Bashar Assad’s handling of a year-long anti-regime uprising in which more than 9000 people have been killed, and reiterating that Iran will do “all in its power to support [Syria].” For his part, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei stated that “Iran will defend Syria because of [its] support of the resistance front against the Zionist regime.” (Reuters, March 27 & Associated Press, March 29.)

 

He is a whore who sells his soul to AIPAC.…”—Lee Whitnum, a Democratic candidate for Connecticut’s U.S. Senate seat, accusing rival U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) of pandering to the “Jewish lobby”. In response, Murphy reaffirmed his support for Israel, saying, “I stand with the U.S.-Israeli relationship and I’m willing to defend my position on it. It just should be done without name-calling.” The candidates are vying for the opportunity to replace the outstanding pro-Israel Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), who is retiring. (JTA, April 6.)

 

Weekly Quotes

 

The Jewish holiday of freedom [Passover] should become Pollard’s private holiday of freedom. I will continue working toward his release.”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, calling for the immediate release from prison of former Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard. Pollard, now in the twenty-seventh year of a life sentence, has been hospitalized due to his deteriorating medical condition. (Haaretz, April 8.)

 

Israel must always fight terrorism. It will not stop if we do not fight it.”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, at a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the operation to free hostages on hijacked Sabena Flight 571—during which, as a young commando, he was shot and wounded, strongly denouncing last week’s firing of a Grad rocket from the Sinai Peninsula into a residential neighborhood in Eilat. According to Netanyahu, Sinai has become a “terrorism zone” that Israel is “dealing with.” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called the rocket attack on Eilat “a grave incident.” (Jerusalem Post, April 5.)

 

In the short term the risks are increasing. As a result, we will need to prepare for new challenges and fronts, for an increase in the threats and for more instability throughout the region in the coming years.”—Israel’s head of Military Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, describing the firing of a Katyusha rocket from Sinai into Eilat as an example of the changes sweeping through the Middle East as a result of the “Arab Spring”, and announcing for the first time that the IDF has thwarted at least 10 different terrorist plots to attack Israel from the Sinai Peninsula over the past two months. (Jerusalem Post, April 5.)

 

The members of the Security Council are unified in their grave concern that this deadline has passed and the evidence is that not only has military activity continued, but over the last 10 days has intensified.”—US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, confirming Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime failed to abide by a UN-Arab League peace plan calling for the implementation of a cease-fire by April 10. Instead, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem introduced new preconditions to the deal, demanding that a cessation of violence occur simultaneously with the deployment of an international monitoring mission to the country and that opposition groups provide written guarantees to halt the violence should government forces be withdrawn from cities. (Wall Street Journal, April 11.)

 

The regime will not implement this plan. This plan will fail.”—Riad al-Asaad, leader of the rebel Free Syrian Army, correctly predicting last week that the peace plan devised by UN-Arab League envoy to Syria Kofi Annan would not be implemented by Bashar Assad’s government. (Reuters, April 8.)

 

I think that most of the burden for the inability to move in the last three years happens to be on the Palestinians’ shoulders, not on ours. But I can tell you honestly, I was the prime minister 12 years ago. I negotiated a very generous proposal with previous Chairman [Yasser] Arafat, together with [US] President [Bill] Clinton. [We] put a far reaching proposal on the table that was rejected by Arafat. And he turned deliberately to terror. And during that time, we were building [at] four times the pace of [current settlement] construction in Israel. I was also the defense minister in Ehud Olmert’s government five years ago when he made an extremely generous proposal to Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas]. We were building about twice the pace that we are building now. So this government of Netanyahu is not the most aggressive in building.… Not a single new settlement has been built in the last three years since this government took power.”—Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in a CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria, reiterating that construction in Israeli settlements is not an obstacle to peace, nor did it ever constitute  a barrier to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. (CNN, April 10.)

 

All companies that have sponsored the marathon of Jerusalem, including Adidas, will be boycotted.”—Saudi Prince Nawaf bin Faisal, announcing on behalf of Arab League countries the boycott of all companies that sponsored last month’s Jerusalem Marathon. According to Faisal, Israel uses the marathon to “misguide public opinion into believing that Jerusalem is its capital.” Arab ministers also announced they would hold an alternative marathon next year to coincide with the Jerusalem Marathon, called “Jerusalem is Ours.” (Jerusalem Post, April 5.)

 

Jewish organizations are already interested in it.… Obviously they want now to desecrate the grave.”—Rostyslav Novozhenets, deputy head of the Ukrainian Republican Party, announcing for the first time that convicted Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk, who died last month in Germany, was buried at a secret location in the United States, and accusing Jewish groups of trying to uncover the location of the grave in order to desecrate it. Demjanjuk was convicted last year by a German court for his role in the murder of 27,900 people at the Sobibor death camp in Poland. (JTA, April 5.)

 

Whenever Jews were in danger, or Jewish honor offended, he vigorously yet elegantly spoke up. Whenever Jewish memory was attacked, he attacked the attacker.”—Elie Wiesel, eulogizing former executive director of the World Jewish Congress Elan Steinberg, who passed away last week at the age of 59. According to Jerusalem Post columnist Isi Leibler, “Steinberg was one of the greatest political strategists of the post-war generation of Jewish leadership…[and] played a crucial role in introducing a dynamic and assertive Jewish global presence.” (Jerusalem Post, April 10.)

 

Every day, for sport, Nazi guards threw a Jew into a cage occupied by a bear and an eagle. German doctors conducted medical experiments on living subjects and made soap from human fat. And Ilse Koch, wife of the camp’s notorious commandant, inspected naked ranks of prisoners, identifying tattoos she then ordered removed—to have sewn into lampshades made of human skin. At least 56,000 prisoners perished, through illness, starvation and summary execution. But 67 years ago, four soldiers of the U.S. Third Army’s Sixth Armoured Division under General George Patton liberated Buchenwald—one of the first and largest concentration camps in the Reich. A group of skeletal survivors gave the soldiers a hero’s welcome, and managed to throw some of them into the air.”—Michael Posner, marking the 72nd anniversary (April 11) of the US-led liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp. (Globe & Mail, April 11.)

 

Short Takes

 

IRAN REJECTS WEST’S ‘DEMANDS’ AHEAD OF TALKS—(Jerusalem) Iran has officially rejected Western conditions ahead of a new round of nuclear talks due to commence later this week. The provisions, outlined by US and European diplomats to the New York Times last week, call for Iran to immediately close and dismantle its underground Fordo nuclear facility and halt uranium enrichment to 20 percent and ship existing g stockpiles out of the country. Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, described the stipulations as “irrational.” Representatives of six world powers are scheduled to meet with Iranian negotiators in Istanbul on Friday. The talks are being viewed by military analysts as Iran’s last chance to resolve the showdown over its nuclear program diplomatically before Israel pushes up the timeline of a possible strike against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities. (Ynet News, April 8 & Jerusalem Post, April 9.)

 

CIA: IRAN CONTINUES NUCLEAR PROGRAM PROGRESS—(Jerusalem) According to a recent CIA report to Congress, Iran greatly expanded its nuclear infrastructure and uranium enrichment activities in 2011. The report claims that as of November 2011, Iran had produced 4,900 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, compared to 3,200 kilograms in November 2010 and 1,800 kilograms in November 2009. Iran’s holdings in November 2011 also included approximately 80 kilograms of 20-percent enriched uranium; however, an IAEA report published on February 24 of this year claims that Iran had increased to nearly 110 kilograms its stockpile of uranium enriched to 20%. The CIA report also showed that Iran has started producing highly enriched uranium at its underground facility near Qom, and that the total number of centrifuges operating in Iran is approximately 6,200, up from 3,800 in August 2010. Iran has also made significant progress in its ballistic missile program. (Jerusalem Post, April 5.)

 

OBAMA WILLING TO ACCEPT IRANIAN CIVILIAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM—(Jerusalem) US President Barack Obama has reportedly sent a secret letter to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei expressing his willingness to accept an Iranian civilian nuclear program provided Iran guarantees that its ultimate objective is not to acquire a nuclear bomb. According to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, Obama sent Khamenei the message via Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was in Iran last week. The message, sent ahead of this week’s scheduled nuclear negotiations, was purportedly meant to emphasize that “time is running out for a peaceful settlement.” (Jerusalem Post, April 6.)

 

OBAMA REJECTS PERES’ CALL TO FREE POLLARD—(Jerusalem) US President Barack Obama has rejected a request by Israeli President Shimon Peres to commute the life sentence of captive Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard. In an urgent personal appeal written to Obama, Peres noted that in view of Pollard’s poor health coupled with the nearly 27 years that he has already served—for the crime of passing classified information to an ally during peacetime, which historically has drawn an average term of 2-4 years—his release from prison would be considered by Israel as a supreme humanitarian gesture. Last weekend, Pollard was admitted to hospital where he is currently being treated for multiple ailments. Esther Pollard, Jonathan’s wife, described her husband’s condition as grave and said “to return him to prison would be a death sentence.” (Jerusalem Post, April 10.)

 

GANTZ PRESENTS NEW DETERRENCE POLICY—(Jerusalem) IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has unveiled Israel’s new deterrence policy, whereby the firing of missiles or rockets at Israel’s south will be met with military operations against Hamas targets, regardless of the group behind the shooting; rocket fire from Lebanon will result in a response targeting Hezbollah; and any terror attack by Iranian emissaries overseas will prompt action directly against Tehran. Gantz described the IDF as “Israel’s sharpened sword and protector,” and warned that “anyone who tries to test [Israel], domestically or overseas, will find a sophisticated army ready to defend Israel and subdue its enemies.” (Ynet News, April 5.)

 

EGYPT COURT BLOCKS CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY—(Cairo) An Egyptian court has halted the formation of the country’s constitutional assembly, challenging the legitimacy of a body spurned by secular and Christian groups because of its domination by Islamists. Tasked with drafting Egypt’s post-revolutionary constitution, the assembly was selected by parliament and therefore comprises mainly Islamists, who overwhelmingly dominated Egypt’s recent elections. The case was brought by lawyers and activists arguing that the assembly fails to reflect the diversity of Egyptian society. The new constitution, amongst other things, will set out the terms of authoritative power and thus likely decide which institution of state will effectively control the country. (Reuters, April 10.)

 

EGYPT JAILS CHRISTIAN STUDENT FOR INSULTING ISLAM—(Cairo) An Egyptian court has sentenced a 17-year-old Christian boy, Gamal Abdou Massoud, to three years in jail for publishing cartoons on his Facebook page that mocked Islam and the Prophet Mohammad. The cartoons, published by Massoud in December, prompted violence on the part of Muslims; several Christian houses were burned and several Christians were injured in multiple assaults. Longstanding tensions between Egyptian Muslims and Christians have boiled over since Hosni Mubarak was toppled last year, with Christians increasingly worried by a surge in attacks. Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 80 million population. (Reuters, April 4.)

 

CANADA LOBBIED HARD AGAINST PALESTINIAN BID FOR STATEHOOD—(Ottawa) According to newly released documents, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird worked intensely behind the scenes last year to block Palestinian efforts to obtain a unilateral declaration of statehood at the UN. Though Canada publicly opposed the resolution, briefing notes obtained under the Access to Information law reveal previously undisclosed details of a high-level lobbying campaign in the months leading up to the Palestinian bid, which saw Mr. Baird personally call at least eight fellow foreign ministers from other countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Chile, Panama and El Salvador. A spokesman for Mr. Baird said the calls were made to press Ottawa’s argument that a Palestinian statehood resolution in the General Assembly would act as an obstacle to Mideast peace. (Globe & Mail, April 10.)

 

CANADA ORDERS EXTRADITION OF SUSPECT IN 1980 PARIS SHUL BOMBING—(Toronto) Canada’s Justice Minister, Rob Nicholson, has issued an extradition order against Hassan Diab, an Ottawa professor facing charges in France related to the 1980 bombing of a synagogue in Paris that killed four people. The RCMP arrested Diab in November 2008 in response to a request by France, and an Ontario court ruled to extradite him last year. The terrorist bombing in central Paris killed four passersby, and many others inside and outside the synagogue were injured. The Lebanese-born Diab, a Canadian citizen, has denied any role in the attack, claiming mistaken identity. Diab will appeal the ruling, meaning he will likely stay in Canada for the foreseeable future. (JTA, April 6.)

 

ABBAS TO PURSUE STATEHOOD AT UN ASSEMBLY IF NO TALKS—(Jerusalem) Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has confirmed he will ask the UN General Assembly to recognize Palestinian statehood if Israel does not accede to his demands for the resumption of negotiations. According to Palestinian sources, Abbas is in the process of writing a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that will reiterate the Palestinians’ unwillingness to resume talks unless Israel freezes all construction across the Green Line, accepts as a basis for negotiations a withdrawal to the 1967 borders, and releases Palestinian political prisoners. Otherwise, the Palestinians will reportedly pursue a bid at the General Assembly to have “Palestine” upgraded to a non-member observer state, like the Vatican. Abbas will reportedly deliver the ultimatum to Netanyahu next week. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, April 8 & 11.)

 

YISHAI DECLARES GRASS PERSONA NON GRATA—(Jerusalem) Interior Minister Eli Yishai has declared Guenter Grass persona non grata in Israel, effectively barring the German Nobel laureate from entering the country after he published a poem in which he labeled the Jewish state a threat to “already fragile world peace” over its stance on Iran. According to Yishai, “Grass’ poem fans the flames of hatred against Israel and the Israeli people, thus promoting the idea he was a part of when donned an SS uniform.” The poem, titled “What Must Be Said” and published in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, assailed Israel for its threats to attack Iran over its nuclear program, called for supervision of Israel’s nuclear weapons and warned that Germany, through its sales of submarines to Israel, risked being complicit in a crime. The poem drew widespread criticism throughout world, with the German Welt newspaper calling Grass “the eternal anti-Semite.” (Ynet News, April 8.)

 

JEWISH LEADERS WELCOME ROSENBERG’S REMOVAL—(Jerusalem) Liberal watchdog group Media Matters has fired anti-Israel writer M.J. Rosenberg, who regularly invoked the antisemitic term “Israel firster” to accuse American Jews of putting their loyalties to Israel ahead of those to the US. Harvard law school professor Alan Dershowitz, who announced in February his mission to oust Rosenberg from his position, hailed the decision, saying, “I’m proud of whatever small role I played.” Dershowitz also pledged at the time to turn Rosenberg’s tirades against Israel into a campaign issue for Barack Obama, due to the US President’s close affiliation with Media Matters. In this respect, Dershowitz alluded to possible White House intervention, saying “It wouldn’t surprise me if there were some calls to Media Matters from the White House.… It would have been a smart thing for somebody to have made it clear that the White House could not have any association to somebody who accuses [AIPAC] of not having loyalty to the US.” (Jerusalem Post, April 10.)

 

LITHUANIA AWARDS $52M. TO JEWS FOR LOST ASSETS—(Jerusalem) Lithuania has passed a law to compensate the local Jewish community $52 million for communal property lost or confiscated during and after World War II. Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said the ratification of the bill acknowledged the suffering of the country’s Jewish community decimated during the Holocaust and asserted that “by doing this [Lithuania] has made a huge step forward to assuming moral responsibility for history.” However, Efraim Zuroff, Israeli director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, was deeply critical of the deal and accused the Lithuanian government of paying nine times less than the worth of Jewish assets lost. “This is a very bad deal but at least it’s something,” he said. “Unfortunately, the passage of the law was delayed for years during which most of the survivors passed away.” The vast majority of Lithuania’s estimated 220,000 Jews were murdered by the Nazis and their local collaborators during World War II. The money will go towards supporting community centers, schools and other projects catering to the country’s remaining 4,000 Jews. (Jerusalem Post, April 5.)