Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

 

Contents:  Weekly Quotes |  Short Takes On Topic Links

 

Media-ocrity of the Week: BBC’S HOLOCAUST TWEET SHOCKER (London) — January 27 was International Holocaust Memorial Day and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. With this in mind and the aftermath of the Paris terror attack on a kosher supermarket, there has been a great deal of discussion and commemoration in the media. But could the BBC have asked a more crass, insensitive and downright offensive question on Twitter?: “Our one big question this morning: Is the time coming to lay the Holocaust to rest? #BBCTBQ” This was the question asked on The Big Questions, a BBC debate show on moral, ethical and religious issues. How inappropriate for the BBC to even be debating the topic with such a question precisely during the buildup to events commemorating the biggest crime in modern history. (Jewish Press, Jan. 27, 2015)

 

 

On Topic Links 

 

Should Netanyahu Address Congress?: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, Jan. 27, 2015

The New Greek Government: Israel has Reason for Concern: Amb. Arye Mekel, BESA, Jan. 28, 2015

Obama’s Policies Bring the Golan to a Boil: J.E. Dyer, Jewish Press, Jan. 25, 2015

Radical Islam Poses a Real, Direct Threat to the West — Including Canada: Conrad Black, National Post, Jan. 24, 2015

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“There are things you simply don’t do. He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price,” — An unnamed senior U.S. official. The public spat between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration escalated further Friday evening, with U.S. officials reportedly charging that it will be “hard to trust” Netanyahu again, following the fallout from the announcement that the PM would address Congress in two months, a move he failed to coordinate with the White House. “At a critical juncture that requires close cooperation on strategic matters, he preferred to advance his political interests while disrupting the correct working relationship” between the two governments. The reference to “strategic matters” was understood to refer to the effort to thwart Iran’s nuclear weapons program, an issue on which the Israeli and American governments are deeply divided. (Times of Israel, Jan. 23, 2015)

 

“[Given] the deep disagreements between Israel and the US” on the Iranian nuclear talks, Netanyahu felt that “he must present his stance even if that doesn’t suit Obama. This is a matter of substance,” —Senior Israeli sources. The sources charged that the US was proving “worryingly” willing to over-compromise in the nuclear talks and was ready to allow Iran to keep more than 6,000 centrifuges for enriching uranium. The Israeli sources further said that the US administration was taking advantage of the Israeli election season to seal a deal with Iran, and that this move must be opposed. (Times of Israel, Jan. 23, 2015)

 

"The prime minister’s visit to Washington is intended for one purpose, and one purpose only… To speak up while there is still time to speak up. To speak up when there is still time to make a difference," — Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the U.S. Dermer defended Netanyahu's decision to address a joint session of Congress next month, describing the move as a "sacred duty" for the Israeli leader in a critical period for the "survival" of the state. The current agreement under consideration by world powers and Iran, Dermer said, would leave Iran a "threshold nuclear power"— an outcome Israel cannot, and will not, accept. (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 26, 2015)

 

“Indeed, you saw what a single Muslim did with Canada and its Parliament of shirk, and what our brothers in France, Australia and Belgium did, may Allah have mercy upon them all and reward them with good on behalf of Islam,” — Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. In a nine-minute audio clip distributed on Twitter, Adnani once again urged his followers to attack Canadians over the government’s decision to join the anti-I.S. military coalition. “And there were many others who killed, ran others over, threatened, frightened and terrorized people, to the extent that we saw the crusader armies deployed on the streets in Australia, Canada, France, Belgium and other strongholds of the cross,” he added. The release came shortly before the Armed Forces acknowledged that Canadian special forces had engaged in two more gun battles against I.S. Adnani’s speech also referred to attacks in Canada, including the Oct. 22 shootings on Parliament Hill, and warned that “what lies ahead will be worse — with Allah’s permission.” (National Post, Jan. 26, 2015)

 

“Death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews and victory to Islam,” — Yemen’s Shiite rebels, known as the Houthis, chanted in the capital, Sana’a. The chant is a variation of a popular Iranian slogan often chanted by Shiite militants in Iraq and supporters of Lebanon’s Hezbollah. On Friday, the U.S.-backed president Abed Rabbo Hadi and his cabinet resigned rather than submit at gunpoint to the rebels’ increasing demands for greater power. The fast-moving events have fanned fears of a sectarian conflict that could fuel support for al-Qaida, a Sunni movement that has links to some of the country’s tribes and is at war with both the Shiites and Hadi’s forces. (Washington Post, Jan. 23, 2015)

 

“The Houthis are a legitimate political constituency in Yemen and have a right to participate in affairs of the state,” —U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, who said U.S. officials have been in touch with a “full spectrum of political leaders” in Yemen. “We urge them to be a part of a peaceful transition process. That said, we condemn their use of violence and are concerned by their non-compliance with agreements they have been signatories to.” U.S. officials say the developments in Yemen are already undermining military and intelligence operations against al-Qaida’s Yemen-based affiliate. (Washington Post, Jan. 23, 2015)

 

“The world should make every possible effort so that Israel ends its criminal attack and brutality against Palestinians,”—Alexis Tsipras, the new prime minister of Greece, and the head of the nation’s far-left Syriza coalition, in a statement from last year. Tsipras, an ex-Communist, and his Syriza party stormed to power in Sunday's snap election on a wave of anger against German-backed austerity that has driven up poverty and pushed unemployment over 25 percent. Syriza has constantly identified itself with the Palestinian cause and its program includes a demand for abolition of Greece’s military cooperation with Israel and the support for the creation of a Palestinian state. Tsipras’ party colleagues and his own inner circle have repeatedly attacked Israel and the "Zionists" claiming that they are not antisemitic, just ''anti-Zionist.'' Hamas on Tuesday congratulated Tsipras, hailing his opposition to "Israeli crimes, aggression, and siege on Gaza." (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 27, 2015)

 

“The Greeks have the right to elect whoever they want; we have the right to no longer finance Greek debt,” —Hans-Peter Friedrich, a senior member of German chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc. “The Greeks must now pay the consequences and cannot saddle German taxpayers with them,” he added. The victory of Syriza, who have vowed to renegotiate Greece’s debt, was cheered by anti-establishment politicians left and right across Europe as proof that Brussels, at the urging of Germany, has gone too far in pushing spending cuts that impoverish citizens. But beneath the arguments over austerity is a deeper conflict of democratic wills, between the verdict of voters in Greece, and those in Germany, Finland and the Netherlands, who do not want their taxes used to underwrite a blank check for countries that get into financial trouble. (New York Times, Jan. 26, 2015)

 

“The feeling is the same here as it was the Germans left Greece in World War II. Today we begin a new day,” — Fotis Mazarrakis, a lawyer in Athens. At street rallies in the Greek capital, Syriza voters danced, waved Syriza flags and sang, in English, “Power to the people.” Tsipras’s first act as Greece’s new prime minister was to lay flowers at the National Resistance Memorial at Kaisariani, a suburb in Athens where hundreds of communist national resistance fighters were executed by the Nazis on May 1 1944. (Globe & Mail, Jan. 25, 2015 & Guardian, Jan. 26, 2015)

 

“Today I think it is important to choose what we want…Are we for freedom or for something else?” —Zineb El-Rhazoui, a journalist with the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, at a Montreal news conference Monday. Rhazoui, whose visit was organized by a pro-secularism group, called on Western countries to take a stand in favour of secular values. Rhazoui was in Morocco at the time of the Jan. 7 terror attacks that killed 12 journalists and five other people. “It is out of the question that our colleagues died for nothing, that they be censored after their death, that we not continue to produce satirical journalism as we always have, or that we submit to those who make deals with crime and terrorism to silence us,” she said. Muslims must learn to accept that when it comes to satire, no subject is out of bounds — including their religion, she said. Rhazoui said she was in favour of the charter of values proposed by the former Parti Québécois government, which would have barred public-sector workers like teachers and health-care worker from wearing such religious garb as the Muslim head scarf or Jewish skullcap. “I think it’s a debate that is necessary today, including in Quebec, because free and democratic countries have always thought they were not subject to religion, but in reality, we are realizing today that it is important to adopt laws that protect our freedom. That is the issue,” she said. (Montreal Gazette, Jan. 26, 2015)

 

“Free speech has to include the right to insult Islam,” —Mark Steyn, Canadian-born writer and conservative political commentator. “Not because necessarily anyone approves of insulting Islam, but simply because free speech by definition is for the stuff you don’t approve of. And that is why it’s important for deeply observant Catholics to recognize that a foul-mouthed beery comedian on open-mike night in Hamilton has the right to urinate all over the Catholic Church. Not because it’s a good thing to do, and not because you approve of what he’s saying, but because free speech is in the end for all the stuff you revile and that offends you. So when the CBC say they’re not going to show these critical elements of a news story because it will offend people, they are on the wrong side. Extending special privilege to Islam corrodes free speech,” Steyn said. The typical cultural response to the Charlie Hebdo terrorist atrocity initially reflected the “moral vanity” of showing solidarity by “waving pencils” and publishing cartoons about the pen being mightier than the sword, Steyn said, but then it tipped over into “absurdity” as so many media refused to publish the cartoons for fear of causing offence. (National Post, Jan. 25, 2015)

 

“I’m going to go Jew-bashing. Haha,” — text message by Balawi Sultan, one of four Muslim teenagers who appeared in a British court for a pre-meditated attack on a Jew in Gateshead, UK last July. The victim was saved by a family friend who heard his screams. Prosecutors said that the gang targeted the man because he was wearing a black hat and suit, traditionally worn by Haredim. Gateshead hosts a large Haredi population. (Jewish Press, Jan. 26, 2015)

 

"For a time, we thought that the hatred of Jews had finally been eradicated. But slowly the demonization of Jews started to come back," —Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress. Lauder made his bleak assessment on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, speaking next to the gate and the railroad tracks that marked the last journey for more than a million people murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau. He said his speech was shaped by the recent terrorist attacks in France that targeted Jews and newspaper satirists. "Once again, young Jewish boys are afraid to wear yarmulkes on the streets of Paris and Budapest and London. Once again, Jewish businesses are targeted. And once again, Jewish families are fleeing Europe," Lauder said. Europe also saw a spasm of antisemitism last summer during the war in Gaza, with protests in Paris turning violent and other hostility across the continent. "This vilification of Israel, the only Jewish state on earth, quickly became an opportunity to attack Jews," Lauder said. "Much of this came from the Middle East, but it has found fertile ground throughout the world." (ABC News, Jan. 27, 2015)

 

“The greatest debt we have today is to pass on the memory of their lives to others, their desire and will to live,” —Halina Birenbaum, who was at Auschwitz-Birkenau as a child, said of those who were killed at the camps. “Only in my memories, I can be with my loved ones who died here. Only in my memories, I can recognize right from wrong…People forget what Auschwitz was,” Birenbaum said, “and that terrifies me, because I know to what kind of hell it leads.” (New York Times, Jan. 27, 2015)

 

Contents

 

 

SHORT TAKES

TWO SOLDIERS KILLED, SEVEN HURT IN ATTACK ON LEBANON BORDER (Beirut) — Two soldiers were killed Wednesday when an Israeli army patrol came under anti-tank fire from Hezbollah operatives in the northern Mount Dov region along the border with Lebanon. Israel responded to the attack with artillery strikes in southern Lebanon. Two Lebanese officials said Israel targeted the border villages of Majidiyeh, Abbasiyeh and Kfar Chouba with at least fifty shells. A Spanish United Nations peacekeeper was killed, Lebanese reports said. Hezbollah said in a statement that a squad from the “fallen martyrs of the Quneitra brigade” had attacked the Israeli convoy in retaliation for an alleged Israeli airstrike near Quneitra, just over the border in Syria, last week that killed at least seven, including an Iranian general and a senior commander in the organization. (Times of Israel, Jan. 28, 2015)

 

CLASHES IN EGYPT KILL SIXTEEN (Cairo) — Street clashes between antigovernment protesters and police left at least sixteen people dead on Sunday as authorities imposed tight security to prevent an outbreak of protests marking the fourth anniversary of Egypt’s pro-democracy uprising. The fighting throughout downtown Cairo, the suburb of Giza and Alexandria injured at least 38 people. Despite the small outbreaks of violence, the streets of downtown Cairo were relatively free of the kind of mass protests that forced out former President Hosni Mubarak in an uprising that began on Jan. 25, 2011. Since Morsi was overthrown and arrested in 2013, his mostly Islamist followers have staged regular protests demanding that he be released and returned to power. (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 25, 2015)

 

KURDISH FORCES DECLARE VICTORY IN KOBANI (Istanbul) —Kurdish forces declared victory in the battle for the Syrian border city of Kobani, but said they still face a daunting challenge in pushing Islamic State from nearly 400 surrounding villages. Officials also cautioned that much of the city is still uninhabitable after four months of intense warfare, offering little relief for the hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled across the border into Turkey. A local Syrian Kurdish militia was aided by 150 Iraqi Kurdish fighters and hundreds of airstrikes by an international coalition in the seesaw fight to stem the advance of I.S. Meanwhile, Turkish military police reportedly used tear gas to try to prevent Kurds from crossing the border to Kobani. (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 27, 2015) 

 

FACEBOOK BLOCKS TURKISH USERS FROM VIEWING PAGES DEEMED OFFENSIVE (Istanbul) — Facebook has reportedly blocked Turkish users’ access to a number of pages that were deemed offensive to the Prophet Muhammad after a court threatened to block the social network entirely. Facebook made the move following a court order issued Sunday in Ankara. This comes on the heels of an ongoing government crackdown on critical political expression in Turkey. Recent legislation has been passed increasing state control over the Internet, and several prominent journalists are under investigation for expressing criticism of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) over Twitter. (National Post, Jan. 26, 2015)

 

KERRY’S VISIT TO NIGERIA COINCIDES WITH MAJOR BOKO HARAM OFFENSIVE (Lagos) — Just as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was preaching the importance of a peaceful Nigerian election in the coastal city of Lagos on Sunday, Boko Haram was engaged in a series of violent attacks in the northern city of Maiduguri, killing an unknown number of soldiers and civilians. Kerry’s visit was meant to reiterate U.S. commitment to a successful democracy in Nigeria, which Kerry called “an increasingly important strategic partner.” The U.S. was worried by rumors the elections would be delayed due to increased violence in the country’s north, where up to 2,000 may have been killed in a Boko Haram attack earlier this month. (Foreign Policy, Jan. 25, 2015)

 

US SGT RELEASED BY TALIBAN FOR FIVE GITMO PRISONERS TO BE CHARGED WITH DESERTION (Washington) — Reports are swirling that U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will be charged with desertion. Bergdahl walked out of his army base in Afghanistan in 2009 without permission, and was later captured by the Taliban and held as a prisoner for five years. In a highly-publicized and widely-criticized move, the U.S. exchanged five prisoners held at Guantanamo last year for Bergdahl’s freedom. After his release, the army conducted an investigation into Bergdahl’s leaving his base. Army General Mark Milley, the command authority in the Bergdahl case, has not publicly released his findings. Nevertheless, people are reporting that military sources confirmed that Sgt. Bergdahl will be charged with desertion. (Jewish Press, Jan. 27, 2015)

 

TEEN GETS PROBATION FOR ASSAULTING WOMAN AT PROTEST (Calgary) — A young pro-Israeli woman says every aspect of her life has been negatively affected since she was punched in the face by a pro-Palestinian teen, who was sentenced Monday to 12 months probation for assault. “I have never felt fear like the fear I experienced that day,” Samantha Hamilton, 23, wrote in a victim impact statement before the male teen, now 17, was sentenced. The incident took place last July after about 300 people gathered near Calgary’s City Hall displaying Palestinian flags and signs to protest Israeli missile attacks in Gaza. The prosecutor said about 15 pro-Israeli counter-protesters, including Hamilton and some family members, gathered across the street, and displayed Israeli flags and placards. Heated words were exchanged and a pro-Palestinian group crossed the street, resulting in a physical altercation, court heard. (Calgary Herald, Jan. 26, 2015)

 

CANADIAN MUSLIM GROUP FUNNELLED $300K TO HAMAS-LINKED CHARITY (Toronto) — One of the country's largest Muslim organizations gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Hamas-linked charity. The Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), based in Mississauga, owns or operates at least 20 Islamic schools and 15 mosques in Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. MAC's website says the group "has no organizational link or affiliation with other organizations." However, an RCMP search warrant reportedly links the group to IRFAN-Canada, a banned charity group and a listed terrorist organization also based in Mississauga. The Conservative government declared IRFAN-Canada a terrorist group on April 29, one day after the RCMP raided the charity. The government said "between 2005 and 2009, IRFAN-Canada transferred approximately $14.6-million worth of resources to various organizations associated with Hamas." (Toronto Sun, Jan. 28, 2015)

 

REPORT ON ANTISEMITISM FINDS FRANCE IS MOST DANGEROUS COUNTRY FOR JEWS (Paris) — France is the “most dangerous country for Jews today,” the Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Ministry asserted Sunday. According to the report, which was presented ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Muslim extremists are the “main instigators of global antisemitism.” The extreme Left, the report asserted, sometimes makes common cause with Islamic extremists. In the surge in antisemitism during Israel’s Gaza incursion last summer, when incidents rose by 400 percent, the primary perpetrators were Muslims, the report stated. (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 25, 2015)

 

POLISH GROUP DEMANDS IDA ADD CONTEXT ABOUT GERMAN OCCUPATION (Warsaw) — The Oscar-nominated film Ida is under fire, accused by the Polish ADL of failing to acknowledge the German occupation of Poland. The film, which is a front-runner for the foreign-language Oscar, tells the story of a young novice, Ida, in 1960s Poland who is just a few days away from taking her vows when she discovers that her parents were Jewish, killed during the war by the family who had hidden them from the Nazis. In a letter to the Polish Film Institute, the league says that the film might leave a viewer who is unfamiliar with the history of World War II with the impression that Poland was responsible for the Holocaust. The league has started a petition asking for the producers to provide contextualizing information to make it clear that Poland was under German occupation, and that although hiding Jews was punishable by death, many Poles did so. (New York Times, Jan. 23, 2015)

 

RETIRED JOURNALIST TO RUN FOR TORY NOMINATION IN MOUNT ROYAL (Montreal) — Pascale Déry, a former TV journalist, is jumping into the Conservative fold, hoping to help the party shed its negative image in Quebec and win the long-coveted seat of Mount Royal. The fact that Déry is Jewish stands to help her win the nomination in the riding, which has a large Jewish population and has long been courted by Harper’s team. A key selling point for the Conservative Party in the riding is the Harper government’s steadfast support for Israel. Déry, 38, whose parents are Sephardic Jews from Morocco, said the government’s position helps to explain why she was attracted to the party. Other potential candidates include Robert Libman, a former provincial MNA and long-standing defender of anglophones’ rights, and newspaper editor Beryl Wajsman. (Globe & Mail, Jan. 22, 2015)

 

On Topic Links 

 

Should Netanyahu Address Congress?: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, Jan. 27, 2015—Presumably, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu weighed his options carefully before accepting U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to address the joint session of Congress.

The New Greek Government: Israel has Reason for Concern: Amb. Arye Mekel, BESA, Jan. 28, 2015 —Greece chose a new leader this week, the 40 year old Alexis Tsipras of the left-wing party Syriza.

Obama’s Policies Bring the Golan to a Boil: J.E. Dyer, Jewish Press, Jan. 25, 2015 —The attack in the Golan this week, on a convoy of Hezbollah operatives and Iranian military officials, is a sign that things are going to get worse in the volatile area that encompasses southern Lebanon, Syria, northern Jordan, and northern Israel. 

Radical Islam Poses a Real, Direct Threat to the West — Including Canada: Conrad Black, National Post, Jan. 24, 2015 —It is distressing to witness the waffling and quibbling in both federal opposition parties over Canada’s contribution to the anti-terrorist effort in the Middle East, and even more depressing to note the failure of the opposition to show any recognition of the nature of the intensifying struggle between the West and radical Islam.

 

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

BREAKING NEWS:

AT LEAST 7 DEAD IN SUICIDE BOMBING ON ISRAELI BUS IN BULGARIA—(Jerusalem) At least 7 people have been killed and 32 others injured in a suicide-bombing on an Israeli tour bus at the airport of the Bulgarian city of Burgas. The bus was carrying Israelis who landed in Bulgaria at 4:45 pm for a vacation. Although there is as yet no claim of responsibility, today’s attack comes on the 18th anniversary of the Iran-sponsored bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Jerusalem Post, July 18.)

 

All signs point towards Iran. Over the last few months we have seen Iran’s attempts to attack Israelis in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya, Cyprus and other countries. Exactly 18 years to the day after the horrendous attack on the Jewish Community Center in Argentina, deadly Iranian terrorism continues to strike at innocent people. This is a global Iranian terror onslaught and Israel will react firmly to it.”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, blaming Iran for today’s terror attack in Bulgaria. (Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, July 18.)

 

This attempted terrorist attack was under Iranian auspices. It is part of an Iranian plan.… We call on the international community to take urgent action against Iran, which is the biggest exporter of terrorism in the world.”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, after authorities in Cyprus arrested on July 7 a 24-year-old man of Lebanese descent who was found tracking the movement of Israeli tourists on the island. Cypriot Justice and Public Order Minister Loucas Louca said an investigation into the terror operation is ongoing. (Jerusalem Post, July 16.)

 

There are no limits to Iranian terrorism. After Iran sent its people to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador [on US soil] and to perpetrate terrorist attacks [against Israeli diplomatic missions] in Azerbaijan, Bangkok, Tbilisi and New Delhi, its intention to [conduct] attacks on African soil has now been exposed.…”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, after officials in Kenya announced earlier this month the arrest of two Iranian agents with 30 pounds of explosives planning to attack Israeli targets in Africa. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, July 2.)

Media-ocrities of the Week

With respect to Mr. Pollard, he was convicted of spying in 1987. He was sentenced to life in prison, he is serving that sentence, and I do not have any expectations that that is going to change.”—US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during a visit to Israel this week, rejecting the possibility that former Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard’s life sentence be commuted by President Barack Obama. In response, a spokesperson for The Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home issued the following statement: “In what can only be regarded as unmitigated gall, while deflecting Israel’s requests for the release of Jonathan Pollard, Mrs. Clinton pressed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres to release a number of convicted murderers and terrorists to the Palestinian Authority.” (Jerusalem Post, July 17.)

 

QUESTION: In what way is Hugo Chavez’s government in Venezuela not a serious security threat to the U.S.?
CARNEY: You know, I’m going to have to refer you to the State Department on that. I saw that story before I came out, but I didn’t read it. So I don’t know.
”—Exchange between a reporter and White House press secretary Jay Carney, after US President Barack Obama stated in an interview that the actions of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez have “not had a serious national security impact on [the US].” In response, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) condemned Obama’s statement as “alarmingly naïve.” According to Rubio, “It’s now disturbingly clear that President Obama has been living under a rock.… Hugo Chavez is not only a threat to the Venezuelan people’s freedom and democratic aspirations, he has also supported Iran’s regime in its attempts to expand its intelligence network throughout the [Western] hemisphere.…” (Weekly Standard, July 11 & Politico, July 12.)

Weekly Quotes

I regret your decision to give up on an opportunity to make an historic change.… I gave you a proposal that would have led to the conscription of ultra-orthodox and Arabs from the age of 18. I explained to you that the only way to implement this on the ground is gradually and without tearing Israeli society apart, especially at a time when the State of Israel is facing many significant challenges.…”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in a letter to Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, after the former Vice Premier pulled his faction out of the governing coalition over an inability to reach a compromise on drafting legislation to replace the expiring Tal Law, which previously allowed ultra-orthodox- and Arab-Israelis to defer indefinitely their military service. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, July 17.)

 

Because of narrow political considerations, you chose the alliance with the [ultra-Orthodox] over an alliance with the Zionist majority.”—Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, in his letter of resignation to Netanyahu. (National Post, July 18.)

 

The Iranians are determinedly going down a path to master all aspects of nuclear weapons; all the technologies they need. It’s equally clear that Israel and the United States would face huge dangers if Iran were to become a nuclear weapon state.”—Sir John Sawers, head of Britain’s MI6 spy agency, declaring that Iran is on the verge of obtaining a nuclear weapon. (Jerusalem Post, July 13.)

 

The inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency are fooling themselves if they believe that the nuclear facilities on and under the ground are only for peaceful purposes.”—An anonymous  former general of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, in a letter to prominent Iranian opposition activist Mohammad Nourizad, describing as a “sheer lie” the claim that Tehran’s nuclear program has peaceful intentions. (Guardian, July 12.)

 

As long as they perceive this, they don’t feel like they are under pressure. That is a pity. It is up to the United States to try to change this perception in Iran. This is crucial.”—Israeli Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon, claiming Iran’s leaders believe the country is immune from military attack prior to November’s US presidential election, and urging the Obama administration to enhance the credibility of an American military option. (Reuters, July 12.)

 

If they [the US] do not obey international laws and the IRGC’s warnings, it will have very bad consequences for them. The IRGC’s naval forces have…[the ability] to completely control the Strait of Hormuz and not allow even a single drop of oil to pass through.”—Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps naval commander Ali Fadavi, repeating Tehran’s threat to block the Strait of Hormuz, and confirming Iran is boosting its “naval presence in international waters.” (Reuters, July 14.)

 

These days Westerners are being sensational about sanctions but they don’t understand that they themselves vaccinated Iran through their sanctions imposed over the last 30 years.”—Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, dismissing harsher sanctions imposed on Iran this month, and claiming the country is “100 times stronger” than ever. (Reuters, July 11.)

 

[The embassy] has no purpose here. The embassy in Ottawa sometimes uses cultural events as an excuse to spread their own propaganda.”—Nazanin Afshin-Jam, a human rights activist who fled Iran in 1979 after her father was imprisoned and tortured, calling on the Canadian government to shut down the Iranian embassy in Ottawa over allegations the Islamic Republic is using its office to recruit Iranian-Canadians to serve Tehran’s interests. Ms. Afshin-Jam is married to Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay. (National Post, July 11.)

 

Canada has taken a very tough stance against the regime in Tehran and we won’t allow them to disrupt the freedom and liberties of Canadians of Iranian origin.”—Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, confirming Canadian authorities will “take action” if necessary to ensure that Iranian diplomats do not “interfere “ with Iranian-Canadian civilians. (Jerusalem Post, July 13.)

 

Pro-Assad militias laid siege to the town at 5 am local time, cutting off power and communications. Then intensive shelling took place for two hours followed by a more sporadic bombardment as pro-Assad militias reportedly stormed certain neighborhoods, burned down houses after killing their occupants, then pursued those who escaped into the nearby fields where some were executed on the spot. Entire families were slaughtered.…”—Syrian opposition activist Ammar Abdulhamid, describing last week’s reported massacre by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces of more than 200 people in the village of Taramseh. (Weekly Standard, July 13.)

 

Those who committed these atrocities will be identified and held accountable.”—US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, claiming the US has “indisputable evidence that the [Assad] regime deliberately murdered innocent civilians” in Taramseh, and urging the UN Security Council to adopt measures against the Syrian regime. (Reuters, July 13.)

 

We have repeatedly made it clear that the Syrian government has a responsibility to safeguard its stockpiles of chemical weapons.…”—US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, after US officials revealed that Syria has started moving out of storage part of its chemical weapons arsenal. Syria’s undeclared stockpile of chemical weapons, one of the largest and most sophisticated in the world, is believed to include sarin nerve agent, mustard gas and cyanide. (Wall Street Journal, July 13.)

 

This article will be placed in a top section of the new constitution.”—Younis Makhyoun, an Egyptian legislator and high-ranking member of the Salafi Nour Party, after a parliamentary committee approved an article criminalizing “blasphemy” for inclusion in Egypt’s new constitution. (Egypt Independent, July 17.)

 

While in Egypt over the last several days, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with the Muslim Brotherhood. But not everyone would meet with Clinton: Coptic Christians and Evangelicals refused, because, they claim, ‘the US administration has demonstrated their support for Islamism over other political and civil forces.’”—Daniel Harper, in “Egyptian Christians Refuse to Meet with Hillary Clinton.” (Weekly Standard, July 16.)

 

We are confident that Egypt, the revolution led by Morsi, will never provide cover for any new aggression or war on Gaza. We are confident that Egypt, the revolution led by Morsi, will not take any part in blocking Gaza.”—Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh, claiming Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi will shield Gaza from any potential Israeli military action, and effectively end Israel’s legal blockade of the Strip by fully opening Egypt’s border with Gaza. (Reuters, July 13.)

 

The Islamic University of Gaza is a known greenhouse and breeding ground for Hamas terrorists. Only last month, the University’s Dean of Koranic studies openly called for the Islamic conquest of the Vatican and of Spain. UNESCO’s motto is that ‘It is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed,’ yet the Islamic University of Gaza is poisoning the minds of men for the cause of terror.…”—Excerpt of a statement issued by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressing “shock and consternation” over UNESCO’s decision to establish a Chair at the Islamic University of Gaza. (Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website, July 12.)

 

The Israeli presence on Palestinian land, including East Jerusalem, is rejected and illegal. Israel will not have the right to exist in the Palestinian Territory.”—Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh, reiterating the Palestinian demand that a future “Palestine” be Judenrein. His comments follow last week’s release of the findings of the Levy Committee, headed by former Israeli Supreme Court vice president Edmond Levy, which concluded that Israel is not an occupying power in the West Bank and that so-called Israeli settlements are legal under international law. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, July 11.)

 

I have not been able to move the peace process forward in the Middle East the way I wanted.”—US President Barack Obama, describing as a personal failure his inability over the past 3.5 years to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. (JTA, July 16.)

Short Takes

OPPOSITION LEADER CALLS FOR EARLY ELECTIONS IN ISRAEL—(Jerusalem) Israeli opposition leader Shelly Yechimovich has called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to dissolve the Knesset and schedule elections, ending what she described as a “two-month political circus.” Yechimovich pointed to November 27 as the best date to go to the polls, but stated elections would need to be called this week before the summer recess begins in order for polls to take place this year. For his part, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman confirmed that his Yisrael Beytenu party would not leave Netanyahu’s government in light of Kadima’s decision to pull out of the national-unity coalition, but like Yechimovich hinted at the possibility of holding elections before the currently scheduled date in October 2013. (Jerusalem Post, July 18.)

 

CIJA MEETS WITH THE PA IN RAMALLAH—(Toronto) The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) has offered to act as “the Canadian interlocutor” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to help restart the peace process. Although CIJA has not been officially endorsed by Ottawa or Israel to act in this capacity, and despite the Palestinians’ ongoing refusal to negotiate with Israel, senior members of the agency met with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior officials during a visit to Ramallah on June 24. According to CIJA CEO Shimon Fogel, “The rationale for meet[ing] with the Palestinian leadership…[was] to get a sense of what [the PA] is thinking…”. Fogel also said the trip served as an opportunity to raise concerns about issues regarding incitement against Jews and Israelis, before conceding the PA’s responses were not “entirely satisfying.” (Canadian Jewish News, July 6.)

 

PA OFFICIAL COMMITS SUICIDE OVER COLLABORATION CHARGE—(Jerusalem) Senior Palestinian Authority official Osama Hussein Mansour, 49, has committed suicide, jumping from the third floor of a building. A PA security source said that Mansour was arrested three weeks ago for involvement in land transactions with Israelis. PA law bans Palestinians from conducting real estate deals with Israelis—a crime punishable by death. (Jerusalem Post, July 15.)

 

S. ARABIA TO TRANSFER $100M. TO PA—(Jerusalem) Saudi Arabia has promised to transfer $100 million to the Palestinian Authority in a bid to alleviate its severe financial crisis. PA envoy to Saudi Arabia Jamal Shobaki estimated the government’s debts at $1.5 billion, and said that to overcome the shortfall the PA was in urgent need of at least $500 million. According to chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, the financial crisis is the worst since the establishment of the PA nearly 20 years ago. (Jerusalem Post, July 15.)

 

SYRIAN REBELS START OPERATION TO “LIBERATE DAMASCUS,” SENIOR REGIME OFFICIALS KILLED—(Beirut) Syria’s rebel forces have announced the commencement of an operation to “liberate Damascus.” According to Colonel Qassem Saadeddine, spokesman for the Free Syrian Army, fighters arrived in Damascus from several Syrian provinces 10 days ago to take part in the assault targeting sensitive regime installations. “There is no going back,” Saadeddine said, adding the rebels had named their operation “Damascus volcano and Syrian earthquake.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has since confirmed that a “battle for the capital,” which he described as a “decisive fight,” is underway in Syria. In this respect, Syrian state television today confirmed that an explosion at a national security building in Damascus killed President Bashar Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat and Syrian Defense Minister Daoud Rajha. The rebels say they are bracing for a conflict that could last a month. (Reuters, July 17 & 18.)

 

SYRIA’S ENVOY TO IRAQ DEFECTS—(Baghdad) Syria’s ambassador to Iraq has fled Baghdad for Qatar, a day after the diplomat announced his resignation and became the first serving ambassador to defect from President Bashar Assad’s regime. Nawaf Fares, a former provincial governor in Syria and an envoy to Baghdad since 2008, said in a televised statement that he was joining “the ranks of the people’s revolution in Syria,” and called on the Syrian people and military to “Turn your guns and tanks toward the chests of the criminals of the [Assad] regime, killers of the people.” Fares’ defection makes him the second prominent official to abandon Syria’s government this month; Manaf Tlass, a longtime friend of Syria’s president and Sunni commander in the elite Republican Guard military unit, has taken refuge in France. (Wall Street Journal, July 12.)

 

CARTOON OF JEWS PRAYING TO WALL STREET WINS IRANIAN CONTEST—(Jerusalem) A stereotypical cartoon depicting three orthodox Jews praying in front of the Western Wall, which is labeled Wall Street, has won Iran’s first annual International Wall Street Downfall Cartoon Festival. The Anti-Defamation League in a statement called the winning cartoon “offensive,” with ADL national director Abraham Foxman saying, “Once again, Iran takes the prize for promoting anti-Semitism. The winning cartoon takes the most sacred site in Judaism and perverts it into a shrine of greed.” Iran held a Holocaust cartoon contest in 2006; the first-prize illustration depicted Israel’s security fence as Auschwitz. (JTA, July 12.) [See ‘On Topics’ below for Jonathan S. Tobin’s related article—Ed.]

 

PLOT TO ATTACK LONDON JEWISH NEIGHBORHOODS REVEALED—(Jerusalem) Documents detailing a plot to attack Jewish targets in London have been released to the public. The plans, which included kidnappings as well as attacks on Eton College and the Ritz and Dorchester hotels in London, were found on the body of Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, an African leader of al-Qaida who was shot last year by Somali forces. The plot also included plans to strike London’s Stamford Hill and Golders Green neighborhoods because they are populated with “tens of thousands of Jews crammed in a small area.” The documents, titled “International Operations,” confirm the objective to “to strike London with low-cost operations that would cause a heavy blow amongst the…Jewish communities. These attacks must be backed with a carefully planned media campaign to show why we chose our targets to refute hypocrites, clear doubts amongst Muslims and also inspire Muslim youth to copy.” A close ally of Osama bin Laden, Fazul was killed six weeks after the al-Qaida founder. (JTA, July 11.)

 

WIESENTHAL CENTER’S MOST WANTED NAZI LOCATED BY TABLOID, ARRESTED—(New York) A fugitive Nazi war criminal who helped send 15,700 Jews to their deaths has been arrested in Budapest after being tracked down by a British tabloid newspaper. The Sun newspaper reported over the weekend that it had found Ladislaus Csizsik-Csatary, 97, with the help of information supplied by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Csizsik-Csatary, who had been No. 1 on the Center’s Most Wanted list of Nazi criminals, “played a key role in the deportation of over 15,000 Jews to Auschwitz in the spring of 1944 and of hundreds of Jews to Kamenetz-Podolsk in the Ukraine, where almost all were murdered, in the summer of 1941,” according to the Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff. Csizsik-Csatary reportedly has been charged with war crimes. (JTA, July 15 & Jerusalem Post, July 18.)