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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)
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
“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)
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)
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.
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