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Media-ocrity of the Week: “Hundreds of Palestinians left homeless after Israel opens river dam and floods houses… hours before Jewish state’s electric company cuts off power in West Bank cities,”— report in Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper. An annual lie about Israel flooding the Gaza Strip circled the globe this week. France’s AFP wire service posted a video showing flooding in the Gaza Strip in the wake of last week’s storm, entitled “Gaza village floods after Israel opens dam gates.” Al Jazeera and Palestinian news agency Ma’an also reported that Israel had caused the flooding by opening dams. The official Palestinian Al Wafa news service even said Israel “pumped large amounts of rainwater into the Gaza Strip, causing tens of neighboring homes to sink, according to witnesses and media sources.” Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper outdid the other reports, tying the flooding in with Israel’s Electric Corporation temporarily suspending service to West Banks cities Nablus and Jenin. “The flooding was today compounded after an Israeli power company cut electricity to two of Gaza’s major West Bank cities,” the report read. Of course, Gaza doesn’t have any major West Bank cities, because Gaza and the West Bank are two separate geographic entities. Israel also doesn’t have any dams in the Gaza watershed that it could open to flood Gaza. (Times of Israel, Feb. 25, 2015)
Deadlock Between the Likud and the Zionist Union Continues: Manfred Gerstenfeld, CIJR, Feb. 25, 2015
Academic Progressivism Descends into Moral Madness: Richard L. Cravatts, Times of Israel, Feb. 16, 2015
This Week in Jihad: Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Post, Feb. 18, 2015
A Dream Deal With Iran: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Feb. 23, 2015
“It is astonishing that even after the recent IAEA report determined that Iran is continuing to hide the military components of its nuclear program, the nuclear talks with it are proceeding.” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Prime Minister, trying to keep security at the top of the agenda in the election campaign, added that “Iran is trying to also to develop a third front on the Golan Heights via the thousands of Hezbollah fighters who are in southern Syria and over which Iran holds direct command…The coming month is critical for the nuclear talks between Iran and the major powers because a framework agreement is liable to be signed that will allow Iran to develop the nuclear capabilities that threaten our existence. The agreement that is being formulated between Iran and the major powers is dangerous for Israel and therefore I will go to the US next week in order to explain to the American Congress, which could influence the fate of the agreement, why this agreement is dangerous for Israel, the region and the entire world.” Netanyahu is scheduled to address a joint meeting of U.S. Congress March 3; the Israeli elections are March 17. (Jewish Press, Feb. 22, 2015)
“Iran has an appalling human-rights record, is a state sponsor of terrorism, and has long held nuclear ambitions,” —Johanna Quinney, a spokeswoman for Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson. Quinney said the federal government believes “every diplomatic step” should be taken to ensure Iran never obtains nuclear weapons. “Iran has repeatedly called for the destruction of our greatest ally in the Middle East, Israel.” Canada’s sanctions against Iran will remain in place, Ms. Quinney added, “so long as the Iranian regime continues to threaten international peace and security.” (Globe & Mail, Feb. 24, 2015)
“We are here to pay tribute to this great country…Prime Minister Netanyahu is a remarkable man; one of the great leaders of our day,” —Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC). “Regretfully our president is the Neville Chamberlain of our day – he doesn’t know how to handle evil.” Pittenger said that Netanyahu and Obama represented two different world views: “Netanyahu is Winston Churchill – and the American public deserves to hear his point of view as the prime minister of the country that sits in the heart of it all,” the North Carolina congressman said. With one week to go before Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, Pittenger and Rep. Dennis Ross visited Israel to demonstrate their support for the Jewish state. Pittenger and Ross spent time visiting with the IDF, meeting local Arab and Israeli politicians as well as Netanyahu. (Jewish Press, Feb. 22, 2015)
“Our greatest ally – Israel – seems to have been cast out to sea with the Iran issue,” —Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL). “It’s unfortunate that President Obama is casting a blind eye to the Israeli-American relationship. There are real life consequences to allowing Iran nuclear arms and the nuclear threat will be one that will impact our everyday lives,” Ross added. (Jewish Press, Feb. 22, 2015)
"There's something wrong with the rhetoric here…I think the President is a very poor leader," —Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani told CNN he was disgusted by Obama and his response to the murders of Egyptian Coptic Christians at the hands of I.S., and the response to last month's attacks in Paris. Obama should have held a press conference to immediately denounce the acts, much as he did after the racial unrest in Ferguson, Mo. Giuliani complained Obama doesn't compare to past presidents John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, or Bill Clinton. "I don't regret making the statement," said the former mayor. "I believe it. I don't know if he loves America. I don't feel the same enthusiasm from him for America.” (Newsmax, Feb. 21, 2015)
"If just a handful of mujahedeen fighters could bring Kenya to a complete standstill for nearly a week, then imagine what a dedicated mujahedeen in the West could do to the American or Jewish-owned shopping centres across the world," — Online video reportedly issued by the Somalia-based, al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group, al-Shabaab. Most of the recording posted to YouTube on Saturday glorifies the attack by al-Shabaab on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, where gunmen killed about 60 people in September 2013. Close to the end of the nearly 77-minute video, a masked man with an English accent calls on "Muslim brothers to target the disbelievers wherever they are" and lists a number of shopping centres that could be attacked in the West. "What if such an attack was to occur in the Mall of America in Minnesota, or the West Edmonton Mall in Canada, or in London's Oxford Street, or any of the hundred or so Jewish-owned Westfield shopping centres dotted right across the western world?" he continues. Both West Edmonton Mall and the Mall of America are owned by Canada's Ghermezian family, who are of Iranian-Jewish origins. Al-Shabaab has reportedly recruited members in Minneapolis, home to the largest Somali population in the U.S. and the Mall of America. (CBC, Feb. 22, 2015)
“The most recent threat by al-Shabaab against malls, and more specifically against Jewish-owned institutions around the world, is another indication that global jihadi groups are increasingly focusing on Jews and Jewish institutions as a way to rally support for their cause,” —Dr. Joshua Gleis, president of Gleis Security Consulting, and a leading expert on Jewish security and terrorist threats. After the Westgate Mall attack in 2013, the Anti-Defamation League said it underscored the terror group’s battle against Jews and Israel. ADL cited Sheikh Abulaziz Abu Muscab, a spokesman for the group, who said they picked the target because it is a place “where there are Jewish and American shops. So we have to attack them.” (Algemeiner, Feb. 22, 2015)
“Canadians are being targeted by jihadi terrorists simply because these terrorists hate our society and the values it represents.” —Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, representing Canada at a three-day summit on combatting violent extremism in Washington. In his short intervention to the summit, Blaney admitted that his government was “caught by surprise by the terrorists’ attacks” in Canada last October and that they prompted the new, far tougher measures to track, monitor and detain suspects as part of controversial legislation introduced this week in Ottawa. Those measures will “further enhance the ability of Canadian government agencies to prevent and disrupt the evolving terrorist activity. … We must admit that we are facing a challenge within our borders,” Blaney said, referring to the internal threat from radicalized individuals who can be expected to plot further attacks in Canada. (Globe & Mail, Feb. 19, 2015)
“You cannot defeat an enemy if you refuse to acknowledge what it is…the President and this administration dogmatically refuses to utter the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism,’” —Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican. Obama has been under attack from critics at home and abroad for shying away from directly linking violent extremism to Islam. Although Obama spoke at the summit on combatting violent extremism of an unwavering fight against terrorist organizations, he focused his speech on a call for a broader civil effort to create trust, inclusion and understanding. Obama called for international action to confront economic grievances in these communities, especially by expanding education opportunities for girls. (Globe & Mail, Feb. 19, 2015)
“…As many of you know, the ASSU (Associated Students of Stanford University) Senate chose to revote on a resolution and approve a request for divestment that focuses on Israel and Palestine. I have three points I want to make concerning this and the movement for divestment from countries involved in the Middle East conflict. First…I have never seen a topic that has been more divisive within the university community. As a university, we must remain committed to civil and rational discussion, especially when the issues are highly controversial. An atmosphere of intimidation or vitriol endangers our ability to operate as an intellectual community. Second, you should be aware that our policy on investment responsibility specifically allows the Trustees to not act on any proposal that is likely to have negative consequences for the university community. Finally, our policy does not contain provisions for broad or formulaic divestment. Any divestment request needs to focus on individual companies, including specific evidence that their activities cause direct and substantial social injury,” — John Hennessy, President of Stanford University. Reversing a vote in which an Israel divestment resolution failed, the Stanford University undergraduate senate re-voted last week, passing the measure by the required two-thirds majority. The final vote was 10-4 in favor, with one abstention — exactly two-thirds. (Stanford News, J Weekly, Feb. 19, 2015)
U.S. JURY FINDS PA, PLO LIABLE FOR TERROR ATTACKS (New York) — A jury in New York federal court found the PLO and the Palestinian Authority partly liable for six terrorist attacks in Israel and awarded survivors and their families $218.5 million in damages. The six attacks between 2002 and 2004, during the second intifada, killed 33 people and wounded hundreds more, including Americans. While the damages awarded by the jury are tripled under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism act to $655.5 million, the award may be largely symbolic. Legal experts say it will be challenge for the plaintiff's to get the money. Kent Yalowitz and Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, of the Israeli “law-fare” group Shurat Ha Din who represented American victims of the attacks, said the Palestinian entities would be "forced to pay." (USA Today, Feb. 24, 2015)
SWASTIKAS SPRAY-PAINTED ON CARS LEAD TO HATE-CRIME PROBE (Montreal) — Montreal police are looking into a possible hate crime after swastikas were spray-painted on four cars in an apartment building's garage in Montreal's NDG neighbourhood. "There were four cars with swastikas on them, and five cars with envelopes on them, and on the white envelopes there were swastikas on them," said a resident in the building whose car was damaged. Another resident of the building said that one of the envelopes had a bullet inside along with a threatening note. B'Nai Brith Canada said Tuesday that the incident is extremely serious and goes beyond vandalism. "Our reaction is one of shock…When you go out and purchase bullets and take the time to write a death message, this is extremely serious," said Steven Slimovitch, national legal counsel for B'nai Brith Canada. (CBC, Feb. 24, 2015)
ISLAMIC STATE: FEARS GROW FOR ABDUCTED SYRIAN CHRISTIANS (Raqqa) — There are fears that more members of an Assyrian Christian community in north-eastern Syria were abducted by Islamic State militants than at first thought. Initial reports had put the number of missing at 90, but one activist said as many as 285 people had been seized on Monday. Efforts to try to negotiate their release are reported to be under way. Some 1,000 local Assyrian families are believed to have fled their homes in the wake of the abductions. Kurdish and Christian militia are battling I.S. in the area, amid reports of churches and homes having been set ablaze. Thousands of Christians in Syria have been forced from their homes by the threat from I.S. militants. In areas under their control, Christians have been ordered to convert to Islam, pay jizya (a religious levy), or face death. (Telegraph, Feb. 24, 2015)
CARTER: US CONSIDERING SLOWING EXIT FROM AFGHANISTAN (Washington) — The U.S. is considering slowing its military exit from Afghanistan by keeping a larger-than-planned troop presence this year and next because the new Afghan government is proving to be a more reliable partner, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Saturday. Carter, on his first overseas trip since starting the Pentagon job, also said the Obama administration is "rethinking" the counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan, although he did not elaborate. There are about 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of 100,000 as recently as 2010-11. (Newsmax, Feb. 21, 2015)
SURVEY: MORE THAN HALF OF JEWISH COLLEGE STUDENTS REPORT ANTISEMITISM (New York) — More than half of U.S. Jewish college students surveyed in a new national study said they have been subjected to or have witnessed antisemitism on their campuses. The National Demographic Survey of American Jewish College Students found that among 1,157 self-identified Jewish students at 55 campuses nationwide, 54 percent reported instances of antisemitism on campus during the first six months of the 2013-2014 academic year. The survey revealed that high rates of antisemitism extended beyond both schools with a history of that sentiment and students such as Orthodox Jewish men, who are more easily identifiable as Jewish. (JNS, Feb. 23, 2015)
COLUMBIA LEADS LIST OF U.S. COLLEGES ‘WITH WORST ANTISEMITIC ACTIVITY’ (New York) —New York’s Columbia University is home to the worst antisemitic activity in the U.S., according to a list compiled by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a conservative think-tank based in California. According to the Center, Columbia is listed first because it is home to the “most well-known antisemitic professors in the nation such as Rashid Khalidi and Joseph Massad. In addition, it is home to a highly active SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) that has recently brought BDS founder Omar Barghouti…to campus.” Cornell University came in second place followed by George Mason University, Loyola University Chicago, Portland State University, San Diego State University and San Francisco State University. (Algemeiner, Feb. 23, 2015)
SJP OUTRAGED BY FLYERS SHOWING HAMAS EXECUTIONS (New York) — UCLA’s chapter of anti-Israel group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) was enraged by a series of posters depicting Hamas executions that appeared around the school. The group, which has often been accused of antisemitism, is concerned that the flyers will delegitimize their efforts to persuade university regents to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel. One of the posters depicts a Gazan with a bag over his head as Hamas executioners stand by his side, while another shows the body of an alleged collaborator being dragged through the streets of Gaza. “These posters are a clear example of hate speech directed against (SJP), as well as supporters of Palestinian freedom and equality,” SJP asserted in a statement. “They rely on Islamophobic and anti-Arab tropes to paint Palestinians as terrorists and to misrepresent (SJP) as antisemitic.” (Algemeiner, Feb. 24, 2015)
JERUSALEM MAYOR SUBDUES TERRORIST AFTER STABBING ATTACK (Jerusalem) — A 27-year-old Haredi youth was stabbed on Sunday by an Arab assailant in IDF Square in Jerusalem. Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat, happening to be passing by, succeeded along with his security detail in subduing the terrorist and preventing a more serious attack. The youth was taken to Shaare Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem. Police are investigating the incident, and so far have determined that nationalistic motives were behind it. The attacker was an 18-year-old Palestinian man from the West Bank, who was in the area of the Jerusalem Municipality without authorization. Barkat had served as a company commander in the IDF Paratroopers Brigade. (Algemeiner, Feb. 22, 2015)
YA’ALON VISITS INDIA IN BID TO BOOST TIES, ARMS SALES (Delhi) — Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon arrived in India last week for an air defense expo, marking the highest-ever level visit by an Israeli official to the subcontinent and underscoring growing security ties between Jerusalem and Delhi. In a historic first since establishing diplomatic ties in 1992, the Israeli Defense Minister met his Indian counterpart amid a report that the two countries are close to finalizing several major defense deals, worth well over $1.5 billion. Ya’alon also spoke with Indian Premier Narendra Modi. Israeli arms manufacturers have reportedly sold approximately $8 billion worth of weapons systems to India, representing roughly 15 percent of total sales, as of 2012. (Times of Israel, Feb. 18, 2015)
IRANIAN WOMAN WINS RIGHTS AWARD FOR HIJAB CAMPAIGN (Geneva) — An Iranian journalist has received a human rights award in Geneva for creating a Facebook page inviting women in Iran to post pictures of themselves without their headscarves in defiance of rules requiring them to wear a hijab. Masih Alinejad, 38, launched “Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian Women” last year. Thousands of women took off their veils in public and sent in their photos to be published. The Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, a group of 20 non-governmental organizations, sponsored by UN Watch, gave Alinejad its women’s rights award. Alinejad’s campaign irritated Iranian authorities, and state media launched a smear campaign accusing her of using recreational drugs or being perverse. (Guardian, Feb. 24, 2015)
IRANIAN POLICE RETURN STOLEN TORAH TO JEWISH COMMUNITY (Tehran) —Iran's FARS news agency reports that an ancient hand-written Torah that had been stolen from a synagogue in southern Iran was found and returned to the Jewish community. A number of ancient Torah manuscripts were reported lost about two weeks ago from a synagogue in Shiraz. Soon afterwards, Iran's Basij units succeeded in finding one of the holy books, described as "invaluable." The units returned it to the Jewish community on Feb. 11, which the news agency emphasized was the anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution. More than 8,000 Jews still live in Iran. (Arutz Sheva, Feb. 22, 2015)
POLLARD'S LAWYERS: DECLASSIFIED DOCUMENT SHOWS FALSE CHARGES (Washington) — Key portions of a classified document which the US government has cited as justification for keeping Jonathan Pollard in jail have been declassified – and his lawyers say the government has been "dishonest" in "hiding behind the mask of 'classified information' to materially mischaracterize the nature and extent of the harm caused by Mr. Pollard." They say the newly disclosed material shows that any harm possibly caused by Pollard was only "in the form of short-term disruption in foreign relations between the US and certain Arab countries." The government position for years has been that Pollard must remain in prison because a secret note from then-Secretary of State Caspar Weinberger stated that he caused greater harm to U.S. national security than had ever occurred previously. Pollard was arrested in 1985 and — despite an earlier plea-bargain agreement — was sentenced to life in prison, largely on the basis of the Weinberger memo. The average sentence for similar crimes is 2-4 years. (Arutz Sheva, Feb. 24, 2015)
Deadlock Between the Likud and the Zionist Union Continues: Manfred Gerstenfeld, CIJR, Feb. 25, 2015 — Over the past week, the political debate became heated but remained unfocused. There was a brief moment of unity after MK Uri Orbach of Bayit Yehudi and Minister of Pensioner’s Affairs passed away at the age of 54. He was eulogized by politicians of many parties across the board.
Academic Progressivism Descends into Moral Madness: Richard L. Cravatts, Times of Israel, Feb. 16, 2015—In the campus war against Israel, the all too familiar refrain from anti-Israel activists, many of whom form the loose coalition of groups and individuals spearheading the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, is that their quarrel is only with Israelis and their government’s policies, not with Jews themselves.
This Week in Jihad: Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Post, Feb. 18, 2015 — The news often numbs. Not always. I was shaken by the scene from the Libyan beach on Sunday. The Islamic State’s local branch beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians.
A Dream Deal With Iran: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Feb. 23, 2015— Love, as the song goes, is in the air. If the latest media reports are accurate, the United States and the Iranian regime are rapidly closing in on a deal over the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions.
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