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

 

 

 

 

On Topic Links  

 

Beware a Wounded Obama: Philip Klein, Washington Examiner, Nov. 3, 2014

Relearning Republican Foreign Policy: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Nov 4, 2014

Lebanon’s Once-Mighty Hezbollah is Facing Attacks in Syria — and Also at Home: Hugh Naylor, Washington Post, Oct. 28, 2014

Dreams of a Short War are Exactly That: Jeffrey Simpson, Globe & Mail, Nov. 1, 2014

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

"This experiment in big government has lasted long enough. It's time to go in a new direction," Mitch McConnell, the top Senate Republican who defeated the toughest challenge to his Kentucky seat in 30 years, to supporters in his victory speech. Republicans cruised to victory in yesterday’s U.S. midterm elections, gaining control of both houses of Congress in a stinging setback for President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats and ensuring fractious co-existence in the last two years of his presidency. The Republicans rode a wave of voter frustration with Washington incumbents and unpopular policies of the Obama administration to claim total congressional control for the first time since 2006. The new legislature will take power in January. (Yahoo News, Nov. 5, 2014)

 

"It was a powerful repudiation of the Obama agenda," Republican Senator Ted Cruz. But Cruz repeated what many in his party have urged, that the onus now falls on Republicans to govern, particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. While Republicans are likely to cooperate on issues like tax reform, the party will seek to breathe life into their stalled jobs bills, to gain approval of the delayed Keystone XL pipeline, roll back some carbon emission regulations and tweak Obamacare. (Yahoo News, Nov. 5, 2014)

 

“This is possibly the worst possible group of states for Democrats,” in 50 years U.S. President Barack Obama, blaming the map for the impending defeat on Tuesday. Yet those states were the same ones where – six years ago – Democrats rode Obama’s coattails to victory. (Globe & Mail, Nov. 4, 2014)

 

“Unlike the Tea Party wave that whacked Democrats in the 2010 midterms, voters this year were not so much angry at Mr. Obama as scared as hell by his fecklessness. When Ebola and Islamic State raised their already elevated levels of insecurity, this President failed to reassure them,”Konrad Yakabuski. (Globe & Mail, Nov. 4, 2014)

 

“The pressure is now on President Obama to bear down and negotiate a good Iran deal or face a resounding political defeat when the Senate votes ‘no’ on the deal,”Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Dubowitz believes a GOP-majority Senate in Washington will have an impact on the next round of nuclear talks between the P5+1 nations and Iran, scheduled to be held in Oman on November 11. A deal that leaves Iran with sufficient centrifuges to flip back on the switch, block inspectors and waltz into the club of nuclear powers would be disastrous. Now, however, a new factor is added to the mix: A GOP-majority Senate which will likely demand a vote on the deal to set minimally acceptable terms. (Washington Post, Nov. 5, 2014)

 

“As bad as President Obama and Democrats were beaten last night, they won’t prove to be the biggest losers. That would be the Iranian mullahs and administration officials who have been fearing Congress would demand some accountability in the coming Iranian deal,”senior Republican aide. “With Dems in the majority, they had cover and basically stiffed any and all calls for accountability. Now, that cover is gone,” says the senior aide. “The new Senate GOP majority is going to take a much, much tougher line toward any deal.” Given the magnitude of their losses and their anger at the White House, many Democrats will no doubt join Republicans and refuse to stick by a dangerous and flawed Iran policy. (Washington Post, Nov. 5, 2014)

 

"This dangerous Israeli escalation is a declaration of war on the Palestinian people and its sacred places and on the Arab and Islamic nation,"Nabil Abu Redeineh, Palestinain Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's spokesman. "Harming the places sacred to Muslims and Christians is a red line. The state of Palestine will take all legal measures to hold Israel accountable and to stop these ongoing attacks," he added. Palestinian leaders accused Israel of "an act of war" in closing Jerusalem’s Temple Mount on Thursday after a dramatic rooftop ambush of an Arab accused of trying to kill a Jewish activist provoked rioting. The accusation from Abbas came as Arab districts of East Jerusalem erupted in protests after the alleged would-be assassin was killed by security forces. Muataz Hejazi, 32, an Islamic Jihad member who had spent 11 years in Israeli jails, was shot dead on the roof of his home in Jerusalem in a raid by Israeli special forces.  Police said Hejazi was the main suspect in the attempted assassination of Yehuda Glick, 48, a right-wing rabbi and leading campaigner for prayer rights for Jews on Jerusalem's Temple Mount – which is revered by Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, a site that includes the Al-Aqsa mosque. (Telegraph, Oct. 30, 2014)

 

"We must first of all, lower the flames. No side should take the law into its own hands…we must be level-headed and act with determination and responsibility, and so we shall,"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu said Abbas bore responsibility for the shooting of Glick, accusing the Palestinian leader of "incitement" and the international community with "hypocrisy" for not condemning him. (Telegraph, Oct. 30, 2014)

 

“We throw stones to act out,”Zaheika, a young man who declined to give his surname, adding: “I like the sound of the glass breaking” Jewish settlers’ windows. Israeli police said on Friday that residents threw rocks and fired fireworks at them in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz, after prayers in the Old City nearby, and in the neighborhood of Abu Tor. The latter was home to Moutaz Hijazi, who police accuse of shooting Yehuda Glick. In the West Bank, at least 12 people were injured at a riot with several hundred people outside the Qalandiya checkpoint at the northern tip of Jerusalem. Eight youths were injured in clashes north of Ramallah. (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 31, 2014)

 

“We continue to engage at the highest level with the Israeli government to make our position absolutely clear – that we view settlement activity as illegitimate and that we unequivocally oppose unilateral steps that prejudge the future of Jerusalem,” Edgar Vasquez, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department. Washington condemned on Monday the preliminary approval of 500 homes beyond the pre-1967 lines in Jerusalem. The construction announcement came as a Palestinian delegation led by PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat was in Washington to discuss the frozen peace process with US Secretary of State John Kerry. Washington has issued no fewer than three condemnations of construction activity approved by Jerusalem in the past month. (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 3, 2014)

 

"We need to direct our gazes toward Israel. Southern Lebanon is prepared, despite our soldier's presence in Syria, and we are capable of aiming at any target in Israel," Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, in a speech broadcast by Hezbollah's television channel. Nasrallah, whose organization has been participating in the Syrian battles for three years, claims that the purpose of Hezbollah's involvement in Syria stems from attempts to prevent a "Zionist Hegemony" in the Middle East, and that if Israel interferes, the organization is capable of aiming toward any target in the prior's territory. "We are not afraid of war," he added. "We are a threat to Israel, not the other way around. Their threats lay in their lost hope, not in their military capabilities. The Arab League needs to rise against the Israeli aggression. Israel exploits changes in the Arab World to obtain its goals." Nasrallah added that his organization is facing "the region's largest threat," and that his militants are entitled to the honor accompanying the victory over Israel. (Jerusalem Online, Nov. 4, 2014) 

 

"The Holocaust stands alone in history for its sheer brutality and inhumanity. The Shoah will forever serve as a powerful reminder of the odious effects of anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred and intolerance, and why it is important to prevent these poisonous ideologies from spreading," Canadian Minister for Multiculturalism Jason Kenney and Minister of State for Multiculturalism Tim Uppal, in a joint statement on Monday timed for Holocaust Education Month. The statement continued "Canada has been profoundly shaped by the 40,000 heroic Holocaust survivors who made our country their home in the years following the war. We owe an enormous debt to those survivors who have dedicated their lives to sharing their personal testimonies in our schools and communities." Canada has been working to preserve Holocaust memory, opening the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg in September and next year starting construction on a National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa. "Both places will remind Canadians and visitors to our country that we must remain vigilant and defend human rights in the face of hatred and intolerance," wrote the ministers. (Arutz Sheva, Nov. 5, 2014)

 

“During the war years, Jewish partisans sang a song which later became the anthem of their resistance movement. It finished with the words Mir zenen do — ‘We are here!’ After the construction of this museum, today I too, a member of the Jewish community in Poland, want to repeat after them: Mir zenen do — We are here!” —Marian Turski, 88, at the opening of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw last week. Turski is a survivor of Auschwitz who decided to stay in Poland during half a century of communist rule. In free Poland, as the leader of the Jewish Historical Institute, he played a large role in the planning of the new museum. After he spoke, Turski took the arm of a 13-year-old Polish Jewish girl and the two of them — representatives of an old and new generation of Polish Jews — symbolically opened the museum doors. (National Post, Nov. 1, 2014)

 

Contents

 

SHORT TAKES

 

GOP DOMINATES MIDTERMS, TAKES CONTROL OF SENATE (Washington)— Republicans scored a stunning electoral rout in the midterm elections, taking control of the U.S. Senate after a bitter campaign in which anger at Washington gridlock was turned against a president who took office promising to transcend it. By early Wednesday, Republican candidates had won at least 10 of the day’s 13 closely contested Senate races. They took seats held by Democrats in Iowa, Colorado, Arkansas, Montana, South Dakota, West Virginia and North Carolina — more than enough to seize control of the Senate for the first time since 2007. In addition, Republicans won at least 10 more seats in the House, adding to their majority. (New York Times, Nov. 5, 2014)

 

1 KILLED AS DRIVER PLOWS INTO JERUSALEM CROWD IN TERROR ATTACK (Jerusalem)— An Arab driver plowed his vehicle into a crowd of people at a light rail station along the seam-line between East and West Jerusalem late Wednesday morning, killing a Border Police officer, and injuring 14 more people, one of them critically. Paramedics reported that two people were seriously hurt, and three moderately injured. The fatality was named as Border Police officer Jedan Assad, 38, from Beit Jann, a Druze village. Assad was a father to a three-year-old boy; his wife is five months pregnant. Palestinian Ma’an news agency identified the terrorist as 48-year-old Ibrahim al-Akary, a Hamas operative from Shuafat in East Jerusalem. (Times of Israel, Nov. 5, 2014)

 

ISRAELI LEADERS HOLD ABBAS RESPONSIBLE FOR JERUSALEM TERROR WAVE (Jerusalem)— Multiple Israeli officials on Wednesday condemned PA President Abbas for what they charged was his direct and indirect incitement leading to a string of terror attacks, including today’s lethal vehicular assault in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the terror attack “…the direct outcome of incitement by Abbas, and his Hamas partners.” Abbas, in a condolence letter to the family of a Hamas terrorist who shot and severely wounded Israeli-American Yehuda Glick last Wednesday, called the return fire by police which killed Muataz Hijazi a “sickening crime,” and “assassination which was perpetrated by the murderous, terrorist gangs of the despicable Israeli occupying army…” (Algemeiner, Nov. 5, 2014)

 

ISRAEL REOPENS HOLY SITE, BUT UNREST SPREADS (Jerusalem) — Israel reopened Jerusalem’s Temple Mount complex for Friday Muslim prayer services one day after closing it for the first time in 14 years, but unrest spread in Palestinian parts of Jerusalem. Tapping into popular outrage over Israel’s decision to seal the holy compound a day earlier, and Israel security services’ killing of a Palestinian suspected of shooting Yehuda Glick, Abbas’ Fatah party had called for a “day of rage” on Friday. Hundreds responded, and turmoil which had been mostly confined to East Jerusalem spread throughout the West Bank for the first time. (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 31, 2014)

 

CABINET BACKS BILL TO JAIL STONE-THROWERS UP TO 10-20 YEARS (Jerusalem) — Israel’s cabinet on Sunday morning approved stiffer sentences for stone-throwing. Netanyahu announced approval of an amendment to the penal code designed to stiffen punishment for throwing stones at vehicles, including sentences of up to 20 years for throwing stones or other objects at cars. Netanyahu told the cabinet that Israel would not make any changes to the regulations on the Temple Mount, after days of unrest and protests over the closure of the site. Netanyahu said : "Alongside our determined stance for our rights, we are determined to maintain the status quo for all the religions in order to prevent an eruption." (Jerusalem Online, Nov. 2, 2014)

 

CANADIAN WARPLANES LAUNCH AIR STRIKES AGAINST ISLAMIC STATE (Kuwait City)— Canada has made its mark on the battlefield in Iraq with CF-18 warplanes dropping their first bombs in this country’s combat mission there. Canadian fighter jets attacked Islamic State targets near the city of Fallujah on Sunday. This is the first fighting that Canadians have done since Prime Minister Harper set the country on the course to war in Iraq this October and the House of Commons authorized a six-month aerial combat deployment to the Middle East. The “strike demonstrates our government’s firm resolve to tackle the threat of terrorism and to stand with our allies against [Islamic State] atrocities against innocent women, children and men,” Defence Minister Rob Nicholson said in a statement. All aircraft returned safely to Canada’s base of operations in Kuwait, where 600 Canadian Armed Forces members are now deployed to support the mission. (Globe & Mail, Nov. 2, 2014)

 

SYRIAN REBELS ARMED AND TRAINED BY US SURRENDER TO AL-QAEDA (Damascus)— Two of the main rebel groups receiving weapons from the U.S. to fight both the regime and jihadist groups in Syria have surrendered to al-Qaeda. The US and its allies were relying on Harakat Hazm and the Syrian Revolutionary Front to become part of a ground force that would attack the Islamic State. For the last six months the Hazm movement, and the SRF through them, had been receiving heavy weapons from the U.S.-led coalition, including GRAD rockets and TOW anti-tank missiles. But on Saturday night Harakat Hazm surrendered military bases and weapons supplies to Jabhat al-Nusra, when the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria stormed villages they controlled. The development came a day after Jabhat al-Nusra dealt a final blow to the SRF, storming and capturing Deir Sinbal, home town of the group's leader Jamal Marouf. The collapse of the SRF and attacks on Harakat Hazm have dramatically weakened the presence of moderate rebel fighting groups in Syria. (Telegraph, Nov. 2, 2014)

 

JIHADISTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD FLOCK TO FIGHT WITH I.S. (Washington)— Foreign fighters are continuing to pour into Syria and Iraq at the rate of 1,000 a month in a global movement of jihadists that exceeds even that into Afghanistan in the 1980s, new assessments from the United Nations and US intelligence have shown. As the I.S. continues to make advances in Syria and Iraq despite more than 600 coalition air strikes, the total number of foreign fighters is now thought to have topped 15,000, according to a UN Security Council estimate. Although the majority of fighters still come from the Middle East and North Africa , more than 2,000 have come from European countries, including 500 from the Britain alone since 2011, carrying passports that would allow them to return freely to their home countries. (Telegraph, Oct. 31, 2014)

 

SUICIDE BOMBING ALONG PAKISTAN’S BORDER WITH INDIA KILLS DOZENS (Islamabad)— More than 50 people were killed Sunday when a suicide bomber struck during a solemn military ceremony along Pakistan’s eastern border with India, the deadliest attack on Pakistani soil this year. The explosion at the Wagah crossing occurred just as the daily flag-lowering ceremony conducted by security forces on both sides was concluding. The attack appeared to be in retaliation for Pakistan’s ongoing military operation against Islamist extremists. And after several months of relative calm, the sight of bodies stacked in hospital parking lots again exposed Pakistan’s continued vulnerability to terrorist strikes. In June, after years of domestic terrorist attacks, Pakistan’s military launched an operation against terrorist havens in the North Waziristan tribal region. (Washington Post, Nov. 2, 2014)

 

BOKO HARAM: KIDNAPPED GIRLS HAVE BEEN MARRIED OFF (Abuja)— A man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said more than 200 girls kidnapped by the group six months ago had been "married off" to its fighters, contradicting Nigerian government claims they would soon be freed. Nigeria's military says it killed Shekau a year ago, and authorities said in September that they had also killed an imposter posting as him in videos. In the latest recording it is hard to see the man's face as he his filmed from a distance. But it is likely to raise grave doubts about whether talks between a Boko Haram faction and the government in neighboring Chad will secure the release of the girls, who were kidnapped from a secondary school in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, in April. "We have have married them off and they are all in their husbands' houses," the man claiming to be Shekau says. "The over 200 Chibok girls have converted to Islam, which they confess is the best religion. Either their parents accept this and convert too or they can die," he added. (Huffington Post, Nov. 1, 2014)  

 

ATHENS HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DESECRATED FOR SECOND TIME THIS YEAR (Athens) —The Athens Holocaust Memorial was desecrated for the second time this year, when vandals spray painted the logo of an ultra-nationalist group on it. The logo of the group known as the Unaligned Meander Nationalists was spray painted on the monument in blue paint on Oct. 30. The same group, which describes the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party as “moderates,” vandalized the Holocaust Monument on the island of Rhodes in October 2012. Erected in 2010, the monument commemorates the more than 60,000 Greek Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. Today only about 5,000 Jews live in Greece. A recent Anti-Defamation League survey showed that Greece has Europe’s highest rate of antisemitic attitudes, with 69 percent of Greeks espousing antisemitic views. That is nearly twice the rate as the next highest country, France, with 37 percent. (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 2, 2014)

 

US ARMY BUYS ITS FIRST IRON DOME FROM ISRAEL (Washington) —Israel had been struggling to sell the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system abroad, but the Israel Defense website revealed on Sunday that a major purchaser has been found: the United States. Apparently the U.S. Army will acquire one Iron Dome battery, and will decide whether or not to purchase more units of the Israeli defense system. The Iron Dome system reportedly boasted a 90% hit rate in Operation Protective Edge. India has also reportedly been interested in buying the Israeli-made system, with defense ties between the two countries soaring of late, and with India increasingly buying from Israel rather than the US. (Arutz Sheva, Nov. 3, 2014)

 

WORLD TRADE CENTER REOPENS FOR BUSINESS 13 YEARS AFTER 9/11 (New York) —Thirteen years after the 9/11 terrorist attack, World Trade Center is opening for business again. Conde Nast will start moving Monday into One World Trade Center, a 104-story, $3.9 billion skyscraper in Lower Manhattan. It's the centerpiece of the 16-acre site where the decimated twin towers once stood and where more than 2,700 people died on Sept. 11, 2001. "The New York City skyline is whole again, as One World Trade Center takes its place in Lower Manhattan," said Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that owns both the building and the World Trade Center site. With the construction fences gone, America’s tallest building is considered by Conde Nast CEO Chuck Townsend as the, “most secure office building in America.” The publishing giants will take over five floors of the building. (Fox News, Nov. 3, 2014)

 

On Topic Links 

 

Beware a Wounded Obama: Philip Klein, Washington Examiner, Nov. 3, 2014 —No matter what the exact outcome of Tuesday’s elections, there is little doubt that President Obama will come out of it wounded.

Relearning Republican Foreign Policy: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Nov 4, 2014 —It’s been nearly a decade since George W. Bush delivered his second inaugural address, which contained this remarkable line: “It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.”

Lebanon’s Once-Mighty Hezbollah is Facing Attacks in Syria — and Also at Home: Hugh Naylor, Washington Post, Oct. 28, 2014 —Hezbollah has won grudging respect, even from some foes, for its tenacious guerrilla campaigns against Israel. But now Lebanon’s most powerful military organization is losing its aura of invincibility.

Dreams of a Short War are Exactly That: Jeffrey Simpson, Globe & Mail, Nov. 1, 2014 —Now that Canada has joined the war against the Islamic State in Iraq, some home truths beckon.

 

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-ocrities of the Week

 

Settlements are a cancer spreading all over Palestinian land, and cancer should be treated and eradicated. I am talking about…not buying…products from these settlements.”—Israeli MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta’al), during a visit to Ottawa, calling on Canadians to boycott products manufactured in Israeli “settlements.” According to Postmedia, Tibi was aware that his words contravene Israel’s Boycott Law, which allows citizens to bring civil suits against persons and organizations that call for boycotts against Israel, Israeli institutions or territories under Israeli control. (Jerusalem Post, April 17.)

 

Support for a two-state resolution is inseparable from…support for Israel.”—Excerpt of a letter sponsored by J Street and signed by seventy-four Democrats in the US House of Representatives, conditioning ongoing American support for Israel on the Jewish state’s compliance with “peace process” dictates. (Israpundit, April 16.)

 

Weekly Quotes

 

Today’s decision adds to the many actions we have taken in recent years on behalf of holocaust survivors. Time is urgent and the survivors are, to our sorrow, leaving our world. We want to remember those who perished, the six million brothers and sisters, and heed the lessons of the Holocaust in order to ensure the future of our people.”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, at a special cabinet meeting ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day (April 19), announcing plans to increase to NIS 225 million the government’s 2012 budget for services to improve the lives of approximately 200,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel. (Jerusalem Post, April 17.)

 

Mr. Speaker, I rise to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day, a remembrance of horrors too terrible to be believed but not too terrible to have happened, of the Holocaust as a war against the Jews in which not all victims were Jews but all Jews were targeted victims—defamed, demonized and dehumanized—as prologue and justification for their destruction. As a reminder of the dangers of state-sanctioned incitement to hatred and genocide; of the dangers of the oldest and most enduring of hatreds, anti-Semitism; of indifference and inaction in the face of incitement and mass atrocity; of the targeting of the vulnerable, whom the Nazis spoke of as having ‘lives not worth living’; of the culture of impunity; of the dangers of forgetting, ignoring, trivializing or denying the Holocaust; and, remembering also, on this centenary of Raoul Wallenberg, this hero of the Holocaust.… Let us pledge never again to be silent or indifferent in the face of evil. Never Again!”—Canadian MP Irwin Cotler, on the occasion of the Canadian Parliament’s observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day. (Office of Irwin Cotler, April 4.)

 

By sacrificing his personal safety, and ultimately his life, to protect the lives of a generation of Jews, Raoul Wallenberg exhibited the kind of noble courage that we prize in America.”—William Daroff, director of the Washington office of the Jewish Federations of North America, praising Congress’ unanimous vote to award Raoul Wallenberg the Congressional Gold Medal. Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat in Budapest during the German occupation in 1944, issued Swedish travel documents—known as “Wallenberg passports”—to at least 20,000 Jews and also set up more than 30 safe houses for Jews. (JTA, April 18.)

 

Dear activist, we appreciate your choosing to make Israel the object of your humanitarian concerns. We know there were many other worthy choices. You could have chosen to protest the Syrian regime’s daily savagery against its own people, which has claimed thousands of lives…[or] the Iranian regime’s brutal crackdown on dissent and support of terrorism throughout the world. You could have chosen to protest Hamas rule in Gaza, where terror organizations commit a double war crime by firing rockets at civilians and hiding behind civilians. But instead you chose to protest against Israel, the Middle East’s sole democracy, where women are equal, the press criticizes the government, human rights organizations can operate freely, religious freedom is protected for all and minorities do not live in fear.”—Excerpt of a sarcastic letter distributed to pro-Palestinian “activists” who arrived last weekend at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport as part of a “flytilla.” (Independent Media Review and Analysis, April 14.)

 

The discussions on the Iranian nuclear issue have been constructive. We want now to move to a sustained process of serious dialogue, where we can take urgent, practical steps to build confidence.”—EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, describing as “useful” last weekend’s nuclear talks between world powers and Iran, and confirming that another meeting will take place “on May 23 in Baghdad.” (Reuters, April 14.)

 

My initial impression is that Iran has been given a freebie. [Iran now has] five weeks to continue enrichment without any limitation, any inhibition. I think Iran should take immediate steps to stop all enrichment, remove all enriched uranium [from the country] and dismantle the [underground] nuclear facility in Qom.”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, describing as a gift to Tehran the decision by world powers not to condition future nuclear talks on the suspension of Iran’s nuclear activities. (Jerusalem Post, April 15.)

 

We’re going to keep on seeing if we make progress. Now, the clocking is ticking and I’ve been very clear to Iran…that we’re not going to have these talks just drag out in a stalling process. The notion that somehow we’ve given something away or a ‘freebie’ would indicate Iran has gotten something.…”—US President Barack Obama, responding to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s “freebie” assertion. (JTA, April 16.)

 

If the West wants to take confidence-building measures it should start in the field of sanctions because this action can speed up the process of negotiations reaching results.…”—Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, alleging that Iran is prepared to resolve all nuclear issues, “even in the Baghdad meeting,” but only if the West demonstrates “goodwill” by lifting sanctions. (Reuters, April 16.)

 

You should know that the Iranian nation is insisting on its fundamental rights and…will not retreat even one iota.…”—Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, reaffirming that Tehran will not surrender its nuclear program “even under the most difficult pressure.” (Reuters, April 12.)

 

The Iran threat is very real.… The Iranian regime has repeatedly threatened its neighbours and its own citizens; singled out Israel with a threat of destruction it would attempt; supported international terrorism; and continually thwarted the legitimate efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency to enforce UN Security Council resolutions.… This is also a regime that denies basic rights to its own people—violently crushing the demand for a free and open society.… The stakes are too high to be left to wishful thinking. A nuclear Iran would only embolden a leadership with an already atrocious domestic and international record.…”—Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, calling on the international community to confront Iran’s nuclear program “now”, or “face the prospect of even tougher decisions later.” (National Post, April 14.)

 

The U.S. has given $3 billion in aid to the Palestinians in the last five years alone, and what do we have to show for it? Now the administration is sending even more. Where is the accountability for U.S. taxpayer dollars?”—US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, strongly denouncing the Obama administration’s decision to resume the flow of U.S. aid to the Palestinians despite a hold placed on the funds by congressional lawmakers. (National Journal, April 11.)

 

In the 39 months since Barack Obama took the oath of office as president of the United States, the federal government’s debt has increased by $5,027,761,476,484.56. Although he has served less than a term, Obama is now the first American president to see the federal government’s debt increase by more than $5 trillion during his time in office. The $5,027,761,476,484.56…equals $16,043.39 for every one of the 313,385,295 people the Census Bureau now estimates live in the United States. The $5,027,761,476,484.56…is more debt than the federal government accumulated in the first 219 years of the Republic.”—Terence P. Jeffrey, describing the US government’s ballooning debt under President Barack Obama. (CNS News, April 18.)

 

The FBI wanted to keep Pollard as a hostage until Israel gave them his partner. There of course was no partner, and the charge is totally outrageous, yet it is difficult to shake. This unrealistic and stupid suspicion could be one explanation as to why he is still in jail after so many years when others who did much more damage spying for real enemies have gotten out.”—Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, speculating that former Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard remains in prison in part because of a mistaken theory that he had an unnamed accomplice. Last week, US President Barack Obama rejected a request by Israeli President Shimon Peres to commute Pollard’s sentence. (Jerusalem Post, April 11.)

 

Despite the failure of its attempted missile launch, North Korea’s provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments.”—White House spokesman Jay Carney, condemning last week’s failed attempt by North Korea to deliver a satellite into space via long-range rocket. Analysts believe the exercise’s aim was to enhance North Korea’s capacity to design inter-continental ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads. (Reuters, April 13.)

 

Short Takes

 

EGYPT BARS TOP ISLAMISTS, SULEIMAN FROM PRESIDENTIAL VOTE—(Cairo) Egypt’s electoral commission has disqualified 10 candidates from the upcoming presidential race, including the top three candidates, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat al-Shater, former spy chief Omar Suleiman and Salafi sheikh Hazem Salah Abu Ismail. According to Egypt’s Al-Masry Al-Youm, Suleiman was excluded on the basis of the geographical distribution of his signatures of support, as a candidate must have 1000 signatures from 15 separate governorates to qualify; Shater, who was released from prison in March 2010, because of a law that states that candidates can only run in elections six years after being released or pardoned; and Abu Ismail because his mother holds another nationality, violating election rules. The first round of Egypt’s presidential elections will take place on May 23 and 24, with a runoff between the top two candidates scheduled for the following month. (Independent Media Review and Analysis & Reuters, April 14.)

 

UNSC APPROVES DEPLOYMENT OF MONITORS TO SYRIA—(United Nations) The UN Security Council has authorized the deployment of up to 30 unarmed observers to Syria to monitor the country’s fragile ceasefire. In the first resolution approved by council since the anti-government uprising in Syria began 13 months ago, the 15-member body “condemed the widespread violations of human rights by the Syrian authorities” and called on “all parties, including the opposition, immediately to cease all armed violence in all its forms.” The resolution also included a vague warning to Damascus, saying the council would “assess the implementation of this resolution and…consider further steps as appropriate.” Meanwhile, opposition activists confirmed that at least six people were killed in Syria by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad on the same day the Security Council voted to approve the move. (Reuters, April 14.)

 

JORDAN TO REVOKE CITIZENSHIP OF PA, PLO OFFICIALS—(Jerusalem) The Hashemite Kingdom has decided to revoke the Jordanian citizenship of Palestinian Authority and PLO officials, a move that coincides with a new electoral law in the country that seeks to limit Palestinian representation in parliament. In recent years the Jordanians have stripped thousands of Palestinians of their citizenship in an apparent response to calls to establish a Palestinian state in Jordan. The Jordanians have defended the decision by explaining that it is aimed at “preserving the Palestinians’ national identity and paving the way for their return to Palestine.” Khalil Atiyeh, a Jordanian MP, pointed out that the new legislation “ignores half of the Jordanian people,” some 1.6 million people of Palestinian origin. The law will reduce their representation in parliament to less than eight percent. (Jerusalem Post, April 11.)

 

TALIBAN CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR KABUL ATTACKS—(Kabul) Afghanistan’s Taliban has launched a “spring offensive” with multiple attacks against Western embassies in the central diplomatic area in Kabul. The assault, one of the most serious on the capital since US-backed Afghan forces removed the Taliban from power in 2001, highlighted the ongoing ability of the terrorist organization to strike the heavily guarded diplomatic zone after more than 10 years of war. The Taliban said the main targets were the German and British embassies and the headquarters of Afghanistan’s NATO-led force. The coordinated attack is intensifying worry in the run-up to the planned withdrawal from Afghanistan of foreign combat troops by the end of 2014. (Reuters, April 15.)

 

TERRORISTS FREED IN SHALIT DEAL RETURN TO TERROR—(Jerusalem) Israel’s Shin Bet (Security Agency) has revealed that two Palestinians released as part of October’s Gilad Shalit deal returned to terror activity. The first is Omar Abu Snina, who has been working in recent months to recruit Palestinians into Hamas’ ranks. The Shin Bet confirmed it obtained a memory card Abu Snina sent family members which included detailed instructions related to kidnapping soldiers, illegally obtaining weapons and establishing a terrorist cell. The second is Daoud Hilo, who was arrested a month after his release for illegally purchasing weapons. Senior IDF officers in the Central Command recently warned of the growing involvement of Palestinians released in the Shalit exchange in terror activity. The officers said the IDF had noted a dramatic increase in the smuggling of cash into the Palestinian territories since the beginning of the year and that some of the money was to be used to reestablish terror cells for the 55 Palestinians released to the West Bank under the deal. (Jerusalem Post, April 17.)

 

SURVEY: NEARLY HALF OF ISRAELIS FEAR ANOTHER HOLOCAUST—(Jerusalem) According to a new poll conducted by Israel’s Tel-Hai Academic College, approximately 40 percent of all Israelis believe a second Holocaust could happen, and 43 percent are concerned the State of Israel is in danger of being destroyed. Prof. Shaul Kimhi, one of the faculty members involved in the study, said the findings reflect the deep impact of the Holocaust on succeeding generations in Israel, including those born after World War II. “This substantial proportion [of the population] is an indication [that] Holocaust fears…[are] part of Jewish-Israeli culture,” Kimhi noted. He said the threats Israel faces from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas act to preserve the collective trauma of the Holocaust. (Haaretz, April 16.)

 

ASSANGE INTERVIEWS NASRALLAH IN NEW TV PROGRAM—(Jerusalem) WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has premiered his new Kremlin-funded, English-language television show, The World Tomorrow, with an exclusive interview with Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary-general. During the interview, the Hezbollah leader rejected claims that the terrorist group fires rockets toward Israeli civilians and towns, explaining that Hezbollah only “reacts” to “Israeli aggression.” Nasrallah also reiterated his support for Bashar Assad’s regime, despite the Syrian president’s brutal crackdown on protests. Nasrallah vowed Hezbollah would not “back down in the face of Israeli and American pressure,” and claimed that Hezbollah’s support of Syria was rooted in Assad’s service to the “Palestinian cause.” (Jerusalem Post, April 17.)

 

PRO-HAMAS EXHIBIT IN FRANCE HELD DESPITE PROTESTS—(Paris) A photo exhibition sympathetic to Hamas has opened in the western French city of Angoulême, despite strong protests from the country’s Jewish leaders. The exhibition, which features eighty-eight large photographs by Frédéric Soutereau, is part of a photography festival that runs opposite Palestinian Fortnight, an event organized by the regional chapter of the Palestine Solidarity Association. According to organizers, the pictures depict the daily activities of Hamas and its “active and positive role” in the social, economic and cultural life of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. Richard Pasquier, president of CRIF, the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France, denounced the exhibition as an “apology for terrorism, “ and a “worrying” example of the “complacency of society with regards to the Islamist terrorist hatred against Jews.” Soutereau responded by calling Hamas “a terrorist organization for some, a resistance movement for others.” (Jerusalem Post, April 18.)

 

JEWISH SUMMER HOUSES NEAR MONTREAL VANDALIZED—(Toronto) Vandals have broken into more than a dozen Jewish-owned country houses in the Laurentian Mountains north of Montreal, defacing at least two with anti-Jewish hate messages. Pinkas Feferkorn, director of the Val Morin synagogue, confirmed that Quebec Provincial Police are investigating the break-ins, in which furniture was damaged, and clothes and toys were thrown out windows. In two instances, swastikas were spray-painted on the outside of houses, along with at least one phrase: “F— Juif [Jew].” According to Feferkorn, the community is in “shock,” as Jews only frequent the area for “two months a year and don’t bother anybody.” (JTA, April 16.)