Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, 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:  ber@isranet.org

 

 

Contents:  Weekly Quotes |  Short Takes On Topic Links

 

 


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

 On Topic Links

 

UN Agency Promotes Palestinian Agenda: Asaf Romirowsky: Canadian Jewish News, Oct. 25, 2013

 

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

"I am Dr. Mohammed Morsi, the president of the republic. I am here by force and against my will. The coup is a crime and treason…This is not my court. This court, with all due respect, doesn't have jurisdiction over the president. There is a military coup in this country. The leaders of this coup must be brought to trial according to the constitution."—  Former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi speaking at his trial in Cairo that began on Monday, Nov. 4. (Associated Press, Nov. 4, 2013)

 

“His entrance to the caged dock led to an immediate breakdown of order, with pro-Brotherhood lawyers rising to greet him and chanting “Morsi is our president”. The other defendants shouted the popular revolutionary slogan “Down, down with the military regime!” applauded and embraced him.”—  Richard Spencer reporting from Morsi’s trial in Cairo on Monday (The Telegraph, Nov. 4, 2013)

 

“It was no contest…Morsi’s antics in the courtroom made him look like a student prankster, not a former president— Hisham Kassem, a long-time civil-rights advocate and founding publisher of the Al Masry al-Youm newspaper, speaking with reporters at Morsi’s trial (Globe & Mail, Nov. 4, 2013).

 

Israel is an "illegitimate and bastard" regime and the US alliance with Israel an alleged "indulgence…The Americans have the highest indulgence toward the Zionists…and they have to. But we don't share such indulgence[s]."­­— Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, further referring to the US as a "smiling enemy" who is not to be trusted for leaving the option of a US and Israeli strike on Iran on the table in the event of continued nuclear weapons development. (Arutz Sheva, Nov. 3, 2013)

 

"Fighting the global arrogance and hostile policies of America is the symbol of our national solidarity…It's not death to American people, but it's against a portion of Americans who support oppressive policies in the world. If we say 'death to America,' it is death to megalomania. 'Death to America' means death to think tanks that work for the destruction of nations."— Saeed Jalili, speaking at an anti-U.S. rally in Tehran, Iran on Monday, Nov. 4. Jalili lost to Rouhani in the Iranian Presidential election in June. (Associated Press, Nov. 4, 2013)

 

“Iran is continuing to try and arm itself with nuclear weapons; it has not changed its goal – the method maybe, but not the goal – and it has not changed its ideology”— Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting, saying Iran was “openly and directly” calling for Israel’s destruction. He pointed out that Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 is the 34th anniversary of the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran, a day celebrated in Iran as “Death to America Day.” “This makes it clear that pressure on the Iranian regime must be continued,” Netanyahu said. “The pressure has brought them to the negotiating table. I am convinced that if the pressure is maintained and not relaxed, Iran will dismantle its military nuclear capabilities, and if the pressure is relaxed, Iran will advance toward this goal. We are committed to ensuring that it does not reach its realization.” (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 3, 2013)

 

"The West must stop dictating their solutions,"— Mohammed Zarif, Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, told French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Paris Tuesday evening, when asked if Tehran was ready to hand over its stockpile of enriched uranium. "Let's seek mutually acceptable solutions that keep the Iranian program as transparent as possible and help ensure it remains peaceful.” He also highlighted an atmosphere of distrust between Tehran and the West that, he claimed, has poisoned previous diplomatic efforts. "We have already defined from our perspective what the common objective is: An Iranian nuclear project, including enrichment, which remains exclusively peaceful," (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 6, 2013)

 

 “The United States believes that the U.S.-Egypt partnership is going to be strongest when Egypt is represented by an inclusive, democratically-elected, civilian government based on rule of law, fundamental freedoms, and an open and competitive economy,” — John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, speaking at a news conference with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy. (Associated Press, Nov. 3, 2013)

 

“Syria is definitely an issue where American policy has been wrong. That’s my opinion. That is also the opinion of much of the public in Arab countries. How you fix that is by showing that you can correct it. If Obama supports Kerry on the Palestinian issue and we get an agreement between Israel and Palestine — that will be something for President Obama to take credit for. If he can convince the Iranians to stop building a nuclear weapon, that will be something he can show the rest of us. The Palestinian issue is the core issue.”— Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki, former chief of intelligence and brother of the foreign minister, speaking with Lally Weymouth of the Washington Post (Washington Post, Nov., 4, 2013)

 

“I didn’t expect to see that in Syria…It’s not accurate to say this is Somalia, but this is a critical situation…We have a middle-income country that is transforming itself into something a lot more like Somalia.”— Dr. Annie Sparrow, an assistant professor and pediatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, who examined Syrian refugee children in Lebanon and was shocked to find many underweight for their height and age.

“They [Israel] say they want to stay in the Jordan Valley for 40 years…With 40 years in the Jordan Valley there will be no solution. They say they need the Jordan Valley to protect themselves against the Iranian threat or whoever comes from the eastern border.”— Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, saying Israel’s claims that it wants to retain control over the Jordan Valley for security reasons is a lie. He reiterated his refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and his view that Israel wants to retain a presence in the Jordan Valley for economic, and not security reasons. “[I]t is a matter of investment. The Israelis gain an annual profit of $620 million from the Jordan Valley. So the claim that they want to protect their eastern border from Iran and others is all lies.” (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 4, 2013)

 

 “I think we should no longer think of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but Palestinian settlements in Israel.”— Danny Danon, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister, said in an interview. Danon, recently elected to head the central committee of the Likud party, imagines an archipelago of Palestinian cities — Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron — as Arab islands in an Israeli sea. “The Jewish people are not settlers in the West Bank, but Israel will make the Palestinians settlers and Jordan will be the one taking control over Palestinians and that’s it”. (Washington Post, Nov. 5, 2013)

 

“It’s quite different than what I thought it was…It’s a modern, dynamic, positive society that has its difficulties, but is extremely forward-oriented,”— Université de Montréal rector Guy Breton said after returning from a 10-day trip to Israel attempting to build academic connections between Canada and Israel “It was interesting to see the real mosaic that is Israel,” said Breton, “In this small environment, I saw groups that are extremely different living next to each other peacefully…It was inspiring, especially nowadays.” (Montreal Gazette, Nov. 1, 2013)

Contents

 

SHORT TAKES

 

NO DEAL ON SYRIAN PEACE TALKS DATE(Geneva) After a rocky day of U.N.-brokered talks, the United States and Russia failed to agree on a date to bring Syria's warring sides back to the negotiating table, and the two powers remained divided Tuesday over what role Iran should play in a hoped-for Geneva peace conference. The U.N.-Arab League's top envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, told reporters at the end of the talks involving the U.S., Russia and other nations that the impasse did not mean all hopes of resuming negotiations were dashed. Another round of U.S.-Russian talks on arranging a second peace conference in this city is planned for Nov. 25. (Associated Press, Nov. 5, 2013)

 

KERRY TRIES TO STEADY WAVERING ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE TALKS(Jerusalem) U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry tried Wednesday to steady wavering peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, amid visible cracks in the three-month-old negotiations. Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned this week of growing tensions in the closed-door discussions between negotiating teams that have taken increasingly public potshots at each other in recent days. Speaking before a three-hour session with Kerry on Wednesday morning, Netanyahu charged the Palestinians with “incitements [and] continuing to create artificial crises, continuing to . . . run away from the historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace.” “There are always difficulties, always tensions,” Kerry said before his meeting with Netanyahu.  I am very confident of our ability to work through them, that is why I am here.” (Washington Post, Nov. 6, 2013)

 

ISRAEL, IRAN, ARABS ATTENDED SAME MEETING ON NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT(Geneva) Iran, Israel and Arab states took part in a recent meeting about prospects for an international conference on banning nuclear weapons in the Middle East, diplomats said Tuesday. The Oct. 21-22 meeting in the Swiss village of Glion near Montreux was a rare gathering of regional adversaries. Various envoys set out their national positions, but Israel had no direct communication with Iranian and Arab delegates, an Israeli official told Reuters. A U.S. official told The Wall Street Journal it wasn't insignificant that Finnish Foreign Ministry Under-Secretary of State Jaakko Laajava, the diplomat trying to organize the conference, succeeded in getting Arab, Iranian and Israeli officials into the same room. (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 5, 2013)

 

MODERNIST ART HAUL, ‘LOOTED BY NAZIS’, RECOVERED BY GERMAN POLICE (Munich) About 1,500 modernist masterpieces – thought to have been looted by the Nazis – have been confiscated from the flat of an 80-year-old man from Munich, in what is being described as the biggest artistic find of the postwar era. The artworks, discovered two years ago and unannounced since, which could be worth as much as €1bn (£860m), are said to include pieces by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Paul Klee, Max Beckmann and Emil Nolde. They had been considered lost until now, according to a report in the German news weekly Focus. The works, which would originally have been confiscated as "degenerate art" by the Nazis or taken from Jewish collectors in the 1930s and 1940s, had made their way into the hands of a Nazi-era German art collector, Hildebrand Gurlitt. When Gurlitt died, the artworks were passed down to his son, Cornelius – all without the knowledge of the authorities. (Guardian, Nov. 4, 2013)

 

EGYPT ARRESTS BROTHERHOOD OFFICIAL AHEAD OF MORSI TRIAL(Cairo) Egyptian police arrested one of the last senior figures of the Muslim Brotherhood who was still at large, days before the start of the trial of ousted President Mohammed Morsi of the once-powerful Islamist group. Essam El Erian, a spokesman long considered one of the Brotherhood’s more moderate leaders, will be charged with inciting violence against the state. The same accusation has been leveled against dozens of top-level Brotherhood officials since, amidst wide-spread popular protests against him, the military forced Mr. Morsi from power on July 3. (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 30, 2013)

 

EGYPT’S OUSTED PRESIDENT DEFIANT(Cairo) Ousted President Mohammed Morsi, making his first appearance in court since being arrested, refused to wear a prison jumpsuit, entering the caged dock in a dark business suit as his co-defendants applauded. He defiantly questioned the legitimacy of the court and proclaimed himself still Egypt’s leader. His fellow Muslim Brotherhood members chanted, “Down with military rule!”, while some lawyers present shouted “Execute him! Execute him!”. Morsi’s long-awaited trial got off to a chaotic start Monday, and was quickly adjourned until Jan. 8. The dramatic first public appearance for Morsi since the July 3 military coup that removed him from power was meant to be a step toward due process. Instead, it highlighted the challenges facing Egypt’s interim authorities as they attempt to close a chapter of his presidency, while his Islamist supporters seek to disrupt the effort. (Associated Press, Nov. 4, 2013)

 

ISRAELI COURT CLEARS FORMER FOREIGN MINISTER OF FRAUD CHARGES

(Jerusalem) Avigdor Lieberman, the former Israeli foreign minister who is among the nation’s most powerful and polarizing politicians, was unanimously acquitted Wednesday of corruption charges that have dogged him for more than a decade, a verdict with profound implications for Israel’s internal politics and its peace talks with the Palestinians. Mr. Lieberman, an immigrant from the former Soviet Union who lives in a West Bank settlement, a populist hard-liner who has alienated international diplomats with undiplomatic outbursts, has been both an important partner of and a sometime rival for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Freed of the burden of a 17-year criminal investigation, he is expected to quickly return to the foreign minister’s post and may challenge Mr. Netanyahu for leadership of Israel’s nationalist camp. (New York Times, Nov. 6, 2013)

 

CYPRUS RIDES A TROUBLED SEA OF OIL AND GAS OPPORTUNITY(Nicosia)The republic of Cyprus has entered into the maelstrom of the world’s most volatile region, thanks to newfound gas and oil reserves, combined with an erratic Turkish foreign policy and a civil war in Syria. Even as leaders of this Mediterranean island show skill dealing with these novel threats and opportunities, they need support from a strong U.S. Navy, something not now available. Cypriot underwater gas and oil discoveries follow directly on those found earlier in Israeli seas adjacent to them and uncovered by the same American (Noble) and Israeli (Delek, Avner) companies. The current estimate of 5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, as well as of some oil, has a value estimated at $800 billion, a huge sum for a small country in economic exigency whose current gross domestic product is a mere $24 billion. (Washington Times, Nov. 5, 2013)

 

DUTCH CHRISTIAN ZIONISTS TO UNVEIL ‘EUROPE’S LARGEST MENORAH’(Amsterdam) Christian Zionists in the Netherlands are building what they believe will be Europe’s largest menorah as a Hanukkah gift to the country’s Jewish community. The Hanukkah candelabrum, or hanukkiyah, will be approximately 36 feet tall and made out of metal, Sara van Oordt of the Netherlands headquarters of the Christians for Israel organization, told JTA on Monday. It will be placed near the group’s offices in Nijkerk, 30 miles east of the Dutch capital. “We think that this is a good way to show our support and solidarity for the Jewish community worldwide,” van Oordt said.

(JTA, Nov. 5, 2013)

 

U.S. OFFICIAL: ISRAEL HIT HEZBOLLAH-BOUND MISSLES IN SYRIA(Washington)

Israel has remained tight-lipped over an alleged strike in Syria, an Obama administration official confirmed on Thursday that Israeli warplanes had in fact attacked an airbase in Latakia on Wednesday. The target was “missiles and related equipment” which the Israeli government assessed might be transferred to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, the report said. A security official told AP that the attack occurred in the Syrian port city of Latakia and that the target was Russian-made SA-125 missiles. (Times of Israel, Oct. 31, 2013)

 

FIVE ISRAELI SOLDIERS HURT, FOUR PALESTINIAN GUNMEN KILLED AS IDF, HAMAS CLASH ON GAZA BORDER(Jerusalem)  IDF soldiers who were carrying out work to destroy a tunnel built by Hamas for terrorism on the Israel-Gaza border came under fire from a Palestinian terrorist cell overnight Friday. The IDF stated that terrorists detonated an explosive device targeting the soldiers during the operation. The attack left five soldiers injured. One is suffering from serious injuries, one was moderately wounded and three soldiers were lightly hurt, an army source said. The wounded were airlifted to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. In response to the attack, the IDF fired a shell at terror suspects in the nearby Gazan district of Khan Younis. One Palestinian gunman was killed and a second was wounded, according to Palestinian medical sources. (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 1, 2013)

 

LEADER OF PAKISTANI TALIBAN KILLED IN U.S. DRONE STRIKE, OFFICIALS SAY(Islamabad) The chief of the Pakistani Taliban was killed by a U.S. drone strike on Friday, security sources and a senior Taliban commander said, in a major blow to the country’s most feared militant group. Hakimullah Mehsud was one of Pakistan’s most wanted men, with a $5-million (U.S.) bounty on his head. He led an increasingly violent insurgency from a secret hideout in North Waziristan, the Taliban’s mountainous stronghold on the Afghan border. “We confirm with great sorrow that our esteemed leader was martyred in a drone attack,” a senior Taliban commander said. (Globe & Mail, Nov. 2, 2013)

 

(New York) The ADL released the results of its new poll on anti-Semitism showing 12 percent of Americans harbor deeply entrenched anti-Semitic attitudes, a 3 percent decline since the League’s previous poll in 2011. “It is heartening that attitudes toward Jews have improved over the last few years and, historically, have declined significantly in America,” Foxman said, telling Newsmax that, however, “12 percent is still 40 million people.” The poll showed that 14 percent of Americans believe Jews have too much power in the U.S; 30 percent say American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their own country; 19 percent believe Jews have too much power in the business world; 17 percent say Jews have too much control on Wall Street and 26 percent believe Jews were responsible for the death of Christ. (Newsmax, Nov. 1, 2013)

 

UN SAYS NEARLY 1,000 IRAQIS DIED IN OCTOBER AS ATTACKS RAGE— (Baghdad) Violence across Iraq killed nearly 1,000 people in October, the United Nations said Friday, as the world body's representative there called on leaders to take bold action to stop the "current mayhem" gripping the country. Car bombings, shootings and other attacks have been on the rise all year, intensifying fears that widespread sectarian conflict again may overwhelm the country. Widespread chaos nearly tore the country apart in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003. (Associated Press, Nov. 1, 2013)

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

UN Agency Promotes Palestinian Agenda: Scholar: Paul Lungren, Canadian Jewish News, Oct. 25, 2013

It is pretty much accepted that around 650,000 to 700,000 Palestinians became refugees during and after creation of the State of Israel. Whether they left on their own or were pushed out remains an issue that’s hotly contested.

 

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

 

 

 

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine (current issue: “Israel’s Levy Report”:  ISRAZINE.

 

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

Weekly Quotes

 

Egyptians were enthralled on Wednesday by the unprecedented sight of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, a leader of the Arab world for three decades and now the Arab Spring’s biggest scalp, being wheeled into a courtroom cage for his trial. Outside the courtroom they watched on a big screen as the frail octogenarian, who ruled Egypt for 30 years, lay on a hospital bed connected to a drip denying involvement in the killing of protesters who ousted him.… Egyptians crowded into cafes, kiosks, anywhere with a television to follow the trial. In other Arab countries too, many still convulsed by their own upheavals, people watched the court drama with fascination.… Inside the cage with Mubarak were his two sons, Gamal, once viewed as a future president, and Alaa, who had business interests.… Alongside them, were former Interior Minister Habib Adli and other officials.… If convicted, Mubarak could face the death penalty, though few expect that outcome even if some protesters wish it.”—Excerpts from an article entitled “Trial of fallen Mubarak grips Egyptians, Arabs,” describing the initial proceedings of ousted Egyptian Prime Minister Hosni Mubarak’s trial. (Jerusalem Post, August 3.)

 

I want to talk about something that started to become apparent to me during the debt negotiations. It’s something I’ve never seen in national politics. It is that nobody loves Obama.… Nobody smiles when they talk about Mr. Obama.… Maybe Mr. Obama is living proof of the political maxim that they don’t care what you know unless they know that you care.… The fact is, he’s good at dismantling. He’s good at critiquing. He’s good at not being the last guy, the one you didn’t like. But he’s not good at building, creating, calling into being. He was good at summoning hope, but he’s not good at directing it and turning it into something concrete that answers a broad public desire.… He never offered a plan. In a crisis he was merely sly. And no one likes sly, no one respects it.… He is not a devil, an alien, a socialist. He is a loser. And this is America, where nobody loves a loser.”—Excerpt from Peggy Noonan’s article, entitled “They’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling,” describing U.S. president Barack Obama’s waning popularity, even among Democrats who previously supported him, enhanced by his recent failure to provide adequate leadership during the country’s debt crisis. (Wall Street Journal, July 30-31.)

 

Ominous changes are afoot in the old seat of the Ottoman Empire. In a stunning and unprecedented turn of events, Turkey’s entire military brass—including chief-of-staff General Isik Kosaner and the commanders of the army, air force, and navy—resigned en masse [last week].… The resignations underscore the extent to which the Turkish military—the second largest in NATO—has lost its political clout. Once considered untouchable and regarded as the most trusted institution in the country, the army has long served as a bastion of secularism.… As of this week, however, the generals’ guardianship is over.… The latest developments are part of a protracted erosion of the secular foundations of the republic founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923. Ataturk, a former general in the Ottoman army and field marshal in the Turkish army, abolished the caliphate, outlawed the veil, and replaced Shariah with civil law. What we are witnessing now is a repudiation of the essential idea of the Ataturk revolution: that successful modernization could only be carried out if accompanied by secularization. This repudiation did not occur overnight. The military has seen its prestige plummet since the religiously rooted, conservative Justice and Development Party, or AKP, took power in 2002.… Since taking power, AKP leader Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan…has stridently challenged the nation’s secular elite.… In this nation—torn between Westernization and traditional Islam—the unraveling of the Kemalist legacy and the resurgence of Islamist populism at the expense of the military will reverberate well beyond Turkey’s borders. It is a clear and troubling signal…that the dissociation of Turkey from the West is already upon us.”—Excerpts from a Jerusalem Post editorial, entitled “Trouble in Turkey,” describing the Turkish military’s declining influence brought about by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s consolidation of power and accelerating drive to Islamize Turkey. (Jerusalem Post, August 2.)

 

The stubbornness of the Turks cannot lead to reconciliation and I do not see any possibility to bridge the gap between the two sides. I thought the Turks [would] reconsider their stance toward Israel but this is not the case. We were ready from the beginning to reach a deal with the Turks and I told them that we are prepared to commiserate those killed in the IDF raid…but we do not intend on apologizing.… The IDF’s Mavi Marmara operation was an act of self-defense.”—Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon, describing the bleak prospects for reconciliation between Israel and Turkey in light of Ankara’s insistence that Israel first publicly apologize for last year’s Mavi Marmara incident, compensate the “activists,” and end the Gaza blockade. (Haaretz, July 21.)

 

Malaysians cannot allow anyone, especially the Jews, to interfere secretly in this country’s business. Muslims and Malaysians should not allow any party, especially the Jews, to discreetly interfere in the country’s administration.”—Excerpts from an editorial that ran in the July 18 edition of the Utusan Malaysia daily, warning against a possible attempt by “foreign Jews” to use a domestic reform movement to interfere in government affairs. In response, B’nai B’rith International president, Allan J. Jacobs, vehemently condemned the article, saying “This claim is preposterous and offensive, made especially harmful by the legitimacy imparted by its dissemination in a government-backed newspaper. Turning an internal call for reform into a forum for religious prejudice is unacceptable, and serves only to induce anti-Semitic sentiments.” Malaysia, an Islamic country, maintains no diplomatic ties with Israel. (Ynet News, July 21.)

 

When the severed head of a wolf wrapped in women’s lingerie turned up near the city of Tabouk in northern Saudi Arabia this week, authorities knew they had another case of witchcraft on their hands, a capital offence in the ultra-conservative desert kingdom.… Saudi Arabia takes witchcraft so seriously that it…set up the Anti-Witchcraft Unit in May 2009 and placed it under the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPV), Saudi Arabia’s religious police.… In the case of the wolf’s head, the Anti-Witchcraft Unit in Tabouk was able to break the spell. The Saudi daily Okaz reported that the unknown family that had fallen victim to the spell had been ‘liberated from the jaws of the wolf.…’ The belief in sorcery is so widespread in Saudi Arabia, that it is even used as a defense in criminal court cases. Last October, a judge accused of receiving bribes in a real-estate project told a court in Madinah that he had been bewitched and is undergoing treatment by Quranic incantations, known as ruqiyah, a common remedy for the evil eye.”—Excerpts from a David E. Miller article, entitled “Saudi Arabia’s Anti-Witchcraft Unit breaks another spell,” describing the rampant belief in witchcraft in the Kingdom and the Muslim world in general, and the measures the Saudi government is taking to “combat manifestations of polytheism and reliance on other Gods.” (Jerusalem Post, July 20.)

 

I believe that he lost all sense of humanity.”—UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, describing Syrian dictator Basha al-Assad’s violent crackdown on protestors, and comparing the ongoing suppression to the 1982 massacre in Hama of 20, 000 innocents perpetrated by Assad’s father. (National Post, August 3.)

 

America, which cooperated with (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad during his whole regime, claims today that it stands with you when it saw him floored by the earthquake caused by your fury. Tell both America and [US President Barack] Obama…[that] our powerful uprising will not stop until we raise the victorious banner of jihad…over Jerusalem.”—Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, in a video posted on various Islamist websites, urging Syrian protesters to direct their uprising also against Washington and Israel. (Ynet News, July 28.)

 

“We have named streets after leaders who are not of our people, and have marked the birthdays of other heroes who are not from our society, as a sign of honor and esteem for them. This in itself is good and admirable, but there must be equal or even greater zeal for the heritage of our own struggle. How many of our young children and school pupils know of Abu Ali Iyad, Abd Al-Fatah Hamoud, Ahmad Al-Shuqeiri, and others like them? What is their position on our study curriculum? How it pains me to see people who view our Shahids (Martyrs) as a burden because the donors will be angry and some countries will complain, or because economic and everyday interests will be harmed… Blessings to the souls of our Shahids, whom we will not forget—not for the sake of a grant, not for the sake of a deal, and not for the sake of a position.”—Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor and under-secretary of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, Sabri Saidam, in an article written in the July 19 edition of thePalestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, entitled “Are we loyal to the path of our fighters?”, defending the PA’s honoring of Palestinian “Martyrs”, and encouraging Palestinians to continue this practice without fear of condemnation or the possibility that donor countries will cut funding to the PA. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, July 31.)

 

New Arab League leader Nabil Elaraby said that the United States has no right to call for Syrian President [dictator] Bashar al-Assad’s ouster. In fact, he added, ‘Syria has entered a new era and is now moving on the road of a genuine reform.’ So for your guidance, here’s the Arab League policy checklist: oust [Egyptian President Husni] Mubarak: yes; oust [Libyan leader Muammar] Qadhafi: yes; oust [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad: no; recognize Palestinian state in conflict with all previous international commitments: yes.”—Excerpts from Barry Rubin’s article, entitled “Arab League Tells U.S. Who Can and Cannot Be Thrown Out of Power,” describing the parallels between U.S. president Barack Obama’s Middle East policies and those espoused by the Arab League, evidencing Obama’s willingness to succumb to the demands of the “international community.” (Rubin Reports, July 14.)

 

The Government of the State of Israel and the Government of the Republic of South Sudan…have decided to establish diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level as of today.”—Statement by an Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, describing the official establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and South Sudan. South Sudan declared independence on July 9. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, July 28.)

 

Short Takes

 

‘ITAMAR MASSACRE’ KILLER, HAKIM AWAD, CONVICTED—(Jerusalem) The Samaria Military Court has convicted 18-year-old Hakim Awad for the murder of five members of the Fogel family in the Itamar settlement—three children aged between 3 months and 11 years, and their parents, Ehud and Ruth. Awad admitted to the charges against him in the indictment, according to which he and another youth, Amjad Awad, perpetrated the murders in March. Although the youths are believed to have carried out the attack on their own initiative, they are affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP) terror group, and received significant assistance from family members and friends after the attack, the IDF said. The second youth indicted in the massacre will be tried separately on August 16th. (Jerusalem Post, August 2.)

 

LEBANESE TROOPS OPEN FIRE ALONG ISRAELI BORDER—(Jerusalem) Lebanese soldiers have opened fire at patrolling Israel Defense Forces paratroopers, marking the first skirmish on the Israel-Lebanon border since May, when Nakba Day protesters attempted to breach Israel’s border. UNIFIL is investigating the recent incident but has already confirmed that Israeli troops did not cross into Lebanese territory. “Israel is not looking to inflame the border,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said following the clash; Lebanese President Michel Suleiman said that Israel was “renewing its aggression” on the border. The border has remained quiet since the incident. No Israeli soldiers were injured. (JTA, August 1.)

 

LEBANON TRIBUNAL RELEASES HARIRI INDICTMENT DETAILS—(Amsterdam) The UN-backed Lebanon tribunal has released the names of four men wanted for the killing in 2005 of Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. The four men named in the indictment are Salim Jamil Ayyash, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Hussein Hassan Oneissi, and Assad Hassan Sabra, the tribunal said. The indictments were issued late last month but the identities of the accused were kept secret for a short period in order to allow the Lebanese government to investigate and arrest them. The Lebanese men who were named in the indictment are wanted for trial in the Netherlands; all four of the suspects are linked to Hezbollah. (Jerusalem Post, July 29.)

 

PALESTINIANS REJECT ISRAEL’S ‘1967 LINES’ PROPOSAL—(Toronto) The Palestinian Authority has dismissed a potential Israeli concession regarding the borders of a future Palestinian state. According to reports, Israel has been working with the United States to develop a new framework to restart peace talks with the Palestinians, based on U.S. President Obama’s call for an agreement using the 1967 lines, with mutual agreed land swaps. Officials in Jerusalem said that the offer would be conditional on the Palestinians recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and retracting their application for recognition of an independent Palestinian state, to be submitted to the United Nations General Assembly next month. But Palestinian officials suggested that Netanyahu was engaged in a ruse and would never live up to his word. (National Post, August 3 & JTA, August 2.)

 

US AID TO ISRAEL TO REMAIN INTACT IN 2012—(Washington) According to senior US officials, American aid to Israel [$3.075 billion] will not be reduced in 2012 despite budgetary cutbacks. The overall budget allotted for American foreign aid for 2012 will stand at $39.6 billion, marking an $8.6 billion cut compared to 2011. The allotted budget “fully funds our commitment to ensure our ally Israel maintains its qualitative military edge,” said Rep. Nita Lowey. In 2007, previous US President George W. Bush agreed with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on a 10-year, $30 billion aid package. (Ynet News, July 27.)

 

ISRAELI MILITARY OFFICIALS WARN OF ‘ARSON INTIFADA’—(Jerusalem) According to recent reports, more than 20 fires have been maliciously set in West Bank settlements and outposts in the past few weeks. Police investigators determined that all of the fires were the result of arson and evidence in all cases led to surrounding Arab villages. Defense establishment sources have expressed concern that the area may be facing an “arson intifada,” saying Palestinians have foregone hurling rocks and rioting in favor of setting fires in and around settlements. The IDF has also voiced concerns over the new “trend,” with Binyamin Division Commander Colonel Saar Tzur having declared the fight against arson a top priority: “This is a new kind of intifada for us to learn to deal with,” Tzur concluded. (Ynet News, August 2.)

 

U.S. SEES IRANIAN, AL QAEDA ALLIANCE—(Washington) The U.S. for the first time has formally accused Iran of forging an alliance with al Qaeda in a pact that allows the terrorist group to use Iranian soil as a transit point for moving money, arms and fighters to its bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The U.S. has long been concerned about alleged Iranian support for the terrorist group, despite the fact Iran and al Qaeda hold differing interpretations of Islam and divergent strategic interests. U.S. officials said that they believe Iranian assistance to al Qaeda is driven by the motivation to rid the Middle East and Central Asia of U.S. forces. (Wall Street Journal, July 29.)

 

ISRAEL SEES LIBYA AS NEW SOURCE OF ARMS FOR GAZA—(Jerusalem) According to Israeli Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon, Libya has become a new source of smuggled weaponry for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Ayalon alleges that with eastern Libya largely held by rebels who rose up against Muammar Gaddafi in February, arms are being brought across the border, through neighboring Egypt, to the Islamist Hamas-ruled territory. Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, which borders both Israel and Gaza, has long seen traffic in Palestinian arms which typically come up through Sudan or are brought in by ship over the Mediterranean. (Ynet News, July 22.)

 

GUSH KATIF EVACUEES TO GET FINAL NIS 480M IN COMPENSATION—(Jerusalem) The Israeli Knesset Finance Committee has approved a bill that would pay an additional NIS 400 million to former Gush Katif business owners, who were evacuated from the Gaza Strip in the 2005 disengagement. The law, which is expected to pass in the Knesset, would raise the total compensation payable to former Gush Katif residents to NIS 3.48 billion. Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz, who was the chairman of the ministerial committee in charge of aid to the Gush Katif evacuees, said the passage of the bill would finally end the suffering of the evacuees after six horrible years. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, July 29.)

 

U.S. SOLDIER ARRESTED NEAR FORT HOOD—(Toronto) A U.S. Army Muslim soldier, Naser Jason Abdo, has been arrested after authorities discovered bomb-making materials in his motel room in Killeen, a small city just outside the base. Mr. Abdo, a private first-class whom military officials said was approved as a conscientious objector to Iraq and Afghanistan wars due to his Muslim faith, had been absent without leave from Fort Campbell, Ky., since July 4. “Military personnel were a target,” Dennis Baldwin, the Killeen police chief, confirmed at a news conference. The Fort Hood base was the scene of a shooting rampage that killed 13 people and wounded 32 others in November 2009. A U.S. Army psychiatrist, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, was charged in that case and will face court martial next March. (National Post, July 29.)

 

CIRCUMCISION BAN PULLED FROM SF BALLOT—(Jerusalem) A US judge has ruled that a proposal to ban male circumcision in San Francisco cannot be put to a referendum later this year, despite having secured the necessary support. The ballot initiative, which made the November ballot after supporters gathered the required 7,000 signatures this spring, would have made the circumcision of minors a misdemeanor except in cases of medical necessity. However, Judge Loretta Giorgi ruled in favor of a coalition of religious groups, doctors and families who claimed the proposed ban violated a state law that prohibits local governments from regulating medical procedures. She ruled it would “serve no legitimate purpose” for an “expressly preempted” ban to remain on the ballot, and ordered the city to remove it. (Ynet News, July 29.)

 

CHUETAS OF MAJORCA RECOGNIZED AS JEWISH BY ISRAELI RABBI—(Jerusalem) Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, chairman of the Bnei Brak Rabbinical Court, has issued a written opinion declaring that the Chuetas of Palma de Mallorca, Spain, who were forced to convert to Christianity 600 years ago, are Jewish. The Chuetas are the descendants of Mallorca’s Jews, who were forcibly baptized in the 14th and 15th centuries and then barred from intermarrying or assimilating with the island’s Catholic population until the modern era. In his written opinion, Karelitz stated, “Since it has become clear that it is accepted among them [i.e. the Chuetas] that throughout the generations most of them married among themselves, then all those who are related to the former generations are Jews.” An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 Chuetas still live in Mallorca; those who want to make a complete return to Judaism will have to be vetted by a rabbinical court. (JTA, July 12.)