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Media-ocrity of the Week: “…This is a far cry from the Nazi era. Notwithstanding recent gains by anti-Semitic parties such as Hungary’s Jobbik and Greece’s Golden Dawn, Europe remains a relatively tolerant and inclusive continent that is more than capable of confronting the intolerance in its midst and providing safe and prosperous homes for people of all faiths. Nevertheless, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the Copenhagen attacks as an opportunity to repeat his call for Jews to abandon Europe en masse. “This wave of terror attacks can be expected to continue,” he said. “We say to the Jews, to our brothers and sisters, Israel is your home and that of every Jew.” This is the purest expression of Zionism, of course. But Mr. Netanyahu is a head of government, and to call for the deracination of Europe — or anywhere else — is an appalling notion with, shall we say, unfortunate echoes. (That Mr. Netanyahu would issue his call in the midst of an election campaign is particularly discreditable.) There have been Jews in Europe since the Roman Empire. They aren’t going anywhere, nor should they…It’s easy to imagine some very unsavory people welcoming Mr. Netanyahu’s call for a Judenfrei continent. Europe’s Jews should stand their ground and demand the protections and respect to which they are entitled,” — National Post editorial. (National Post, Feb. 17, 2015)
What’s Next After Copenhagen?: David Harris, Algemeiner, Feb. 17, 2015
A Perfect Storm Brews in the Middle East: David Ignatius, Washington Post, Feb. 16, 2015
Obama's Iran Policy and Netanyahu's Visit: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Arutz Sheva, Feb. 18, 2015
Say It Like It Is: Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, Jan. 20, 2015
What ISIS Really Wants: Graeme Wood, The Atlantic, March, 2015
"An attack on Denmark's Jews is an attack on everyone," —Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. "The Jewish community is an important part of Denmark. We will stand together and continue the everyday life we know. We stand together as Danes," she added. After killing a Danish film director in a Saturday afternoon attack on a Copenhagen cafe and then a Jewish night guard at a synagogue, the 22-year-old gunman responsible for Denmark’s worst burst of terrorism in decades unleashed a final fusillade outside a four-story apartment building before dawn on Sunday. After a January rampage in the Paris area that killed 17 people, including four Jews, and police raids in Belgium a week later that the authorities said thwarted a major terrorist operation, Denmark became over the weekend the latest European country plunged into what Thorning-Schmidt [choosing not to use the word Islamic—Ed.] described as “a fight for freedom against a dark ideology.” (New York Times, Feb. 15, 2015 & CNN, Feb. 17, 2015)
“At the height of the controversy surrounding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s scheduled speech to Congress, J Street’s petition campaign that attempts to distance itself and American Jews from Israel’s duly elected prime minister is inflammatory and repugnant and exacerbates an already heated and politicized moment for U.S. Israel relations at a critical juncture in the West’s negotiations with Iran,” —Statement released by the Anti-Defamation League. The condemnation came two days after J Street, a liberal pro-Israel lobbying group, launched its petition denouncing Netanyahu’s claim that his controversial March 3 speech before Congress would be delivered on behalf of all Jews. “I’m a Jew. Bibi [Netanyahu] does NOT speak for me!” the petition read, adding that the Israeli prime minister “is not the spokesman for all Jews.” (Times of Israel, Feb. 12, 2015)
“That is a patriot, that’s a man who loves his people, that’s a man who protects his people, that’s a man who fights for his people, unlike our president,” —Former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, contrasting U.S. President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. The remarks were made at an Iranian-American Community of Arizona symposium entitled “Countering Islamic Fundamentalism and a Nuclear-Armed Iran.” (Algemeiner, Feb. 17, 2015)
"Everyone knows [French Prime Minister Manuel Valls] is married to someone really good but who has an influence on him," —Roland Dumas, 92, who twice served as French foreign minister under Francois Mitterrand. Pressed to answer the question "Is he under a Jewish influence?" Dumas responded, "Probably, I would think so." Valls has been vocal in his defense of Jews in France, both before and after the January Islamist attacks that killed 17 people, including four Jews. On Monday, following the weekend attacks in Copenhagen which targeted a synagogue and free-speech event, Valls underscored the need for high security in France to defend against what he called "Islamo-fascism." He called upon Jews to remain in France, promising the "strongest possible" legal response after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called anew upon European Jews to emigrate to Israel after the Copenhagen attacks. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 17, 2015)
“Oh, people, recently you have seen us on the hills of as-Sham and Dabiq’s plain, chopping off the heads that have been carrying the cross for a long time,” —Islamic State video released Sunday, reportedly showing the mass beheading of at least a dozen Egyptian Christians by fighters in a recently formed Libyan arm of the Islamic State group. Under the title “A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross,” he emphasizes that the fighters are just one part of the broader Islamic State group. “Today, we are on the south of Rome, on the land of Islam, Libya, sending another message,” the executioner continued. He implies that they are taking revenge for the killing of Osama bin Laden by American commandos and his burial at sea, saying, “The sea you’ve hidden Sheikh Osama bin Laden’s body in, we swear to Allah we will mix it with your blood.” (New York Times, Feb. 15, 2015)
"We have been discussing this for months but now it has become urgent," —Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti. “The risk is imminent, we cannot wait any longer. Italy has national defense needs and cannot have a caliphate ruling across the shores from us." That threat would appear to be towards the Christian West as whole, but Italian politicians also are taking the view that the threat is a literal one towards Italy and in recent weeks Italian officials, including the country’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, have begun to echo some French politicians talking about the need for a possible intervention in Libya to curb the lawlessness and halt the rise of I.S. (Daily Beast, Feb. 16, 2015)
“We are calling upon the international community to understand our position,” —Badr Abdelatty, a spokesman for Egypt’s ministry of foreign affairs. Abdelatty demanded that world powers offer “material and political” support for Egypt’s crackdown on domestic Islamists with the same firmness they urge in fighting Islamic State. “We should deal with all terrorist organizations with the same standard…that you cannot differentiate between less radical and more radical. This is nonsense,” he added. Egypt’s regime has detained tens of thousands of Brotherhood members and killed hundreds more under the banner of fighting terrorism. (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 16, 2015)
“What happened is a crime, a monstrous terrorist crime that our children have their throats cuts in Libya and not to react…We won't allow them to cut off the heads of our children.” —Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. Egypt’s President called on Tuesday for a U.N. resolution endorsing an international military campaign against Islamic State in Libya, one day after he ordered cross-border airstrikes in retaliation for the mass execution of 21 Egyptian Christians. Sisi indicated the international coalition that helped depose longtime Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 had ended its operations prematurely and opened a power vacuum in the North African nation into which radicals have rushed. “We abandoned the Libyan people as prisoners to extremist militias,” he said. (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 17, 2015)
“Are they not fighting ISIS? Why can’t they come to Nigeria?” —Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. “Look, they are our friends. If Nigeria has a problem, then I expect the U.S. to come and assist us,” he added. With his economy faltering and just five weeks to go before he faces a close election, the Nigerian President is appealing to the U.S. to send combat troops against his country’s most intractable problem: the Islamist insurgency Boko Haram. The president of Africa’s largest democracy said in an interview that he has been asking the U.S. since early 2014 to send combat soldiers along with military advisers to Nigeria to battle Boko Haram. Citing intelligence reports, he said Boko Haram were receiving “training and funds” from Islamic State. (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 13, 2015)
“Mr. Baird proudly signed a bomb destined for release by a Canadian plane. “Free Libya. Democracy,” he wrote. The minister then declared, after his lightning visit, “The one thing we can say categorically is that they [the rebels] wouldn’t be any worse than Col. Gadhafi.”… All that malarkey about democracy. All that guff about an orderly transition to a post-Gadhafi Libya. All that nonsense from Mr. Baird and so many others, including Canada’s opposition parties that twice acquiesced in parliamentary resolutions to extend the bombing missions without anyone asking questions: Okay, what next?” —Jeffrey Simpson. Canadian planes flew 446 missions in Libya, 10 per cent of NATO’s total. Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard of Canada also co-ordinated the air strikes. (Globe & Mail, Feb. 18, 2015)
“Today I read about the execution of those twenty-one or twenty-two Coptic Christians,” —Pope Francis. “Their only words were: ‘Jesus, help me!’ They were killed simply because they were Christians,” the Pope exclaimed. The Pope condemned the purported beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya, calling those killed “martyrs who belong to all Christians…The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a witness that cries out to be heard,” the pope said. “It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants,” he said, according to a Vatican transcript. “They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ.” (Washington Post, Feb. 16, 2015)
“I’ve been reporting on Christians in the Middle East for many years now, and the persecution has increased dramatically,” —Benjamin Weinthal. “They don’t have their own sovereign state like Israel, the only country in the region where there’s actually been a growth in the Christian population.” (The Blaze, Feb. 16, 2015)
"Since last September, our movements have become very limited for fear of the security situation, and there are some members of the community who preferred to leave Yemen," —Yemen’s chief rabbi Yahya Youssef. A few worried families are all that remain of Yemen's ancient Jewish community, and they too may soon flee after a Shi'ite Muslim militia seized power in the strife-torn country this month. Harassment by the Houthi movement caused Jews in recent years to largely quit the northern highlands they shared with Yemen's Shi'ites for millennia. Around six Yemeni Jews from the same family arrived in Israel on Friday. "We don't want to leave. If we wanted to, we would have done so a long time ago," Yahya said. Jews evacuated from the Houthi stronghold of Saada province in 2009 to the government-guarded compound have dwindled from 76 to 45. A group of 26 others live in a city north of the capital. Their total number is down from around 200-300 just a few years ago and now makes up a tiny fraction of Yemen's 19 million-strong population. Yemen's Jewish community numbered over 40,000 until 1949, when Israel organized their mass transfer to the newly-established state. (Yahoo News, Feb. 15, 2015)
“We’re witnessing a moment of growing tension and growing hate in Europe, and the anti-Semitism is an expression of something more that is going wrong,” — Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, the director of the American Jewish Committee in Paris. (New York Times, Feb. 16, 2015)
TWO 'ACCOMPLICES' CHARGED OVER COPENHAGEN SHOOTINGS (Copenhagen) — Two men were charged on Monday as accomplices of the suspected Islamist terrorist who shot dead two people in a double attack in Copenhagen. The men denied helping the 22-year-old suspect, Omar el-Hussein, obtain guns and hiding him for several hours after the first attack on a free speech debate, where he killed a filmmaker. El-Hussein, of Palestinian descent but born in Denmark, died in a shootout with police on Sunday as he returned home after the second attack on a girl’s Bat Mitzvah at a synagogue. He pretended to be a drunken member of the party to get past police but was stopped by a Jewish volunteer security guard, whom he shot dead before fleeing on foot. (Telegraph, Feb. 16, 2015)
CRISTINA FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER MAY FACE ARGENTINA BOMB PROBE (Buenos Aires) — An Argentine prosecutor has asked a federal judge to investigate President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner over allegations she helped cover up Iranian links to a deadly 1994 bombing. Prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita inherited the case from Alberto Nisman, who was found dead in mysterious circumstances. The president denies the allegations, with the government calling the probe an "anti-democratic attack". The attack on a Jewish centre killed 85 people. Iran denies being involved. Before his death, Nisman had published a report on the attack on the Amia Jewish centre. (BBC, Feb. 13, 2015)
IRAN’S AYATOLLAH SENDS NEW LETTER TO OBAMA (Washington) — Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has responded to overtures from President Obama seeking better relations by sending secret communications of his own to the White House. The Iranian cleric wrote to Obama in recent weeks in response to an October presidential letter that raised the possibility of U.S.-Iranian cooperation in fighting Islamic State if a nuclear deal is secured, according to an Iranian diplomat. The supreme leader’s response was “respectful” but noncommittal, the diplomat said. Iran has denied the report that Khamenei wrote a letter to Obama, the Islamic Republic's official news agency reported. (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 13, 2015 & Fox News, Feb. 16, 2015)
SAUDI ARABIA CLOSES EMBASSY IN YEMEN (Sana’a) — Saudi Arabia has suspended operations at its embassy in Yemen, as the security situation in the country deteriorates. It is the first Arab country to suspend its diplomatic mission. The U.S. and many Western embassies have also closed. The Saudis have long played a key role in Yemen, but their influence has been shaken by a recent political takeover by the Houthis, a Shia rebel group. The Houthis ousted the US-backed government last week. Al Qaeda and other Sunni militants have stepped up attacks against the Houthis. The Ansar al-Sharia group, which is linked to AQAP, has captured an army base in southern Yemen. (BBC, Feb. 13, 2015)
ISLAMIC STATE ATTACKS IRAQI BASE USED BY U.S. (Baghdad) — Islamic State fighters wearing Iraqi military uniforms and suicide vests attacked an Iraqi air base where U.S. military advisers are training Iraq’s security forces, the most direct attack on a base used by U.S. forces since the current conflict began. The attack came a day after I.S. took control of a town near the base, the first new territorial gain by the group in Iraq in many weeks. On Friday, a group of 20 to 25 I.S. fighters, many dressed in Iraqi army uniforms, attacked the edge of the huge al-Asad Air Base before being repelled by Iraqi security forces, said Rear Adm. John Kirby. Most of the I.S. fighters, Adm. Kirby said, were killed but he couldn't provide a specific overall casualty report. (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 13, 2015)
PAKISTANI TALIBAN KILL THREE IN SUICIDE ATTACK AT SHIITE MOSQUE (Islamabad) — At least three people were killed and two wounded on Wednesday when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives outside a Shiite mosque on the outskirts of Islamabad. Jundullah, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack. Fahad Marwat, a spokesman for the group, said that it was meant as revenge for the Pakistani military’s continuing operations in North Waziristan, a northwestern tribal region that is a militant stronghold. The attack comes just a day after a suicide attack in Lahore. Five people were killed and 23 were wounded in the attack. There has been a spike in terrorist attacks in recent weeks, especially against Shiites. Last week, Taliban militants stormed a Shiite mosque in Peshawar, in the northwest. At least 19 people were killed in the attack, during the busy Friday Prayer. (New York Times, Feb. 18, 2015)
OBAMA TO HOST SUMMIT ON "VIOLENT EXTREMISM" (Washington) — In a world where innocent civilians are killed daily, and Islamic terrorists behead Muslims and Christians and recruit educated teenagers to battlefields, can a few days of White House conversations help prevent “violent extremism”? The White House for months has touted plans for a summit to tackle the global causes, preventions and defenses against extremists. If that suggests this week’s event devoted to “best practices” lacks urgency or even a tight focus – it will feature multiple sub-topics, loads of speeches, venues at the White House and the State Department, and representatives from five dozen countries – here’s how the administration describes it: “Through presentations, panel discussions, and small group interactions, participants will build on local, state, and federal government; community; and international efforts to better understand, identify, and prevent the cycle of radicalization to violence at home in the United States and abroad.” (Real Clear Politics, Feb. 17, 2015)
HUNDREDS OF TOMBS DEFACED IN FRENCH JEWISH CEMETERY (Paris) — France's interior minister said Sunday several hundred tombs had been defaced at a Jewish cemetery in the northeast of the country, in what he called "a despicable act". Police had cordoned off the isolated cemetery as crime scene investigators were sent to the site. "Around 300 tombs have been defaced," said a source close to the investigation, adding that there had been no reports of anything written on the tombstones. It is not the first time that a Jewish cemetery in Sarre-Union has been targeted. In 1988, around 60 Jewish steles were knocked over, and 54 tombs were wrecked in 2001. (I24, Feb. 16, 2015)
DENMARK’S JEWISH RADIO STATION SHUTS DOWN (Copenhagen) — Last night, for the first time in its history, Denmark’s sole Jewish broadcast station Radio Shalom did not air. Its programming, a mix of Jewish news, culture and music, was shut down by its proprietor on the advice of the country’s security services. Radio Shalom is not the only Jewish institution to shutter its doors in the wake of the shooting at Copenhagen’s synagogue that left one dead and several others wounded. Copenhagen’s Caroline School, one of the oldest Jewish schools in the world, has closed down as well. In August, it forbade its students from wearing Jewish religious symbols in the hopes of deterring anti-Semitic attacks, only to have the school vandalized two weeks later. (Tablet, Feb. 17, 2015)
STANFORD SENATE PASSES ISRAEL DIVESTMENT MEASURE (New York) — The Undergraduate Senate of Stanford University passed an Israel divestment bill Tuesday that had been defeated last week. The resolution calls for Stanford trustees to divest from companies that “violate international humanitarian law by: maintaining illegal infrastructure of the Israeli occupation…” Last week, Stanford students voted on a resolution that called for the university to cease investing in companies that operate out of the West Bank and Gaza. That measure was struck down when it failed to pass the necessary 66 percent of the vote, garnering just 64% with nine votes for, five against and one abstention. Two student senators requested a motion to reconsider the resolution, saying the anti-divestment bloc had created a hostile environment that prevented them from voting “with clarity,” the group Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine said. (Times of Israel, Feb. 18, 2015)
93-YEAR-OLD ‘AUSCHWITZ GUARD’ HIT WITH 170,000 MURDER CHARGES (Munich) — A German court says a 93-year-old man has been charged with 170,000 counts of accessory to murder on allegations he served as an SS guard at the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp in occupied Poland. The defendant, whose name wasn’t disclosed in line with privacy laws (according to Thomas Walter, an investigator with Germany’s Central Office for investigating Nazi crimes, the defendant’s name is Oskar Groening—Ed.), allegedly served in Auschwitz from January 1942 to June 1944, the Detmold state court said in a statement Monday. He’s alleged to have been assigned to the Auschwitz I camp, but also to have helped supervise new prisoners, largely Jews, as they arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau, the part of the camp complex where most of its 1.1 million victims were killed. (New York Post, Feb. 16, 2015)
DIVERS FIND LARGEST TREASURE OF GOLD COINS EVER DISCOVERED IN ISRAEL (Tel Aviv) —The largest treasure of gold coins discovered in Israel was found in recent weeks on the seabed in the ancient harbor in Caesarea National Park, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said on Tuesday. IAA officials uncovered almost 2,000 gold coins from the Fatimid period (eleventh century CE) in different denominations: a dinar, half dinar and quarter dinar, of various dimensions and weight. the earliest coin exposed in the treasure is a quarter dinar minted in Palermo, Sicily in the second half of the ninth century CE. Most of the discovered coins belonged to the Fatimid caliphs and were minted in Egypt and North Africa. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 2, 2015)
What’s Next After Copenhagen?: David Harris, Algemeiner, Feb. 17, 2015 —Once again, the jihadists have attacked, this time in Copenhagen.
A Perfect Storm Brews in the Middle East: David Ignatius, Washington Post, Feb. 16, 2015—Mistrust between the Obama administration and Benjamin Netanyahu has widened even further in recent days because of U.S. suspicion that the Israeli prime minister has authorized leaks of details about the U.S. nuclear talks with Iran.
Obama's Iran Policy and Netanyahu's Visit: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Arutz Sheva, Feb. 18, 2015—Unfortunately, there are many sources of tension between the Obama administration and Netanyahu’s government.
Say It Like It Is: Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, Jan. 20, 2015 —I’ve never been a fan of global conferences to solve problems, but when I read that the Obama administration is organizing a Summit on Countering Violent Extremism for Feb. 18, in response to the Paris killings, I had a visceral reaction: Is there a box on my tax returns that I can check so my tax dollars won’t go to pay for this?
What ISIS Really Wants: Graeme Wood, The Atlantic, March, 2015 —What is the Islamic State? Where did it come from, and what are its intentions?
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