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: firstname.lastname@example.org
MEDIA-OCRITIES OF THE WEEK: “Benjamin Netanyahu was poised to return to power. But there was a cloud over his apparent turnaround, the result of an increasingly shrill campaign that raised questions about his ability to heal Israel’s internal wounds or better its standing in the world,”— Isabel Kershner (New York Times, Mar. 17, 2015)
“A reckoning is coming—faster than expected—for Netanyahu, his Likud Party and maybe even for the State of Israel itself…Now the rest of the world will do what it takes to punish his government. That means that the “BDS” movement (Boycotts, Divestment, Sanctions) will likely move from the (sometimes anti-Semitic) fringe closer to the center of the debate on college campuses and in international forums. As the Palestinians pursue their case globally with more finesse than they once had, the Israeli policy—shorn of efforts to achieve peace—will look increasingly illegitimate,” —Jonathan Alter (Daily Beast, Mar. 18, 2015)
“Netanyahu was trailing by a few seats in the polls, so he resorted to demagoguery to get those few extra seats needed to make him the leading candidate to form a coalition government. First, he stated that there won’t be a Palestinian state on his watch, to peel off votes from his further-right rival, Naftali Bennett…Meanwhile, Netanyahu resorted to some anti-Arab demagoguery on election day to try to boost turnout: “Right-wing rule is in danger. Arab voters are streaming in huge quantities to the polling stations,” …So Netanyahu won, but even for people who might otherwise be supportive of him, it should be clear that Israel lost,” —David Bernstein (Washington Post, Mar. 17, 2015)
Netanyahu: the Comeback Kid: Michael Freund, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 17, 2015
For the US, Assad is Not Part of the Problem, he is Part of the Solution: Yossi Melman, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 17, 2015
An Ever-Bleaker Syria, From All Vantage Points: Ben Hubbard, New York Times, Mar. 14, 2015
Iran Occupies Iraq: Wall Street Journal, Mar. 11, 2015
“I am proud of the Israeli people that, in the moment of truth, knew how to separate between what’s important or what’s not and to stand up for what’s important,” —Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Wednesday morning at Likud’s election party in Tel Aviv. “For the most important thing for all of us, which is real security, social economy and strong leadership,” Netanyahu proclaimed. After a campaign focused on his failings, Netanyahu won a clear victory in Tuesday’s elections and seemed all but certain to form a new government and serve a fourth term. (New York Times, Mar. 17, 2015)
"With Iran emerging again, it was highly expected that Netanyahu would win…He's a man who believes strongly in protecting his people, and this is what Israel wants now," —a Gulf Arab official, who declined to be identified. The Gulf Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, see Shi'ite Iran as their main regional rival and fear an atomic deal could lead to Tehran developing a nuclear weapon, or could ease political pressure on it, giving it more space to back Arab proxies opposed by Riyadh. Netanyahu won an unexpected election victory after tacking hard to the right in late campaigning, including abandoning a commitment to negotiate a Palestinian state. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 18, 2015)
"On the one hand, there's pessimism about Netanyahu's declared policies not to divide Jerusalem and not to establish a Palestinian state…On the other, there's a feeling in the Gulf that some of his tough stances could be loosened later, especially if there is a convergence of views in the region around Iran," — Sami alFaraj, a Kuwaiti security adviser to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which comprises Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait. "Without any sense of collusion with Israel, there is a feeling of affinity in the Gulf with Israel's stance on curbing the influence of Iran in the area," he added. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 18, 2015)
"So if Iran has the ability to enrich uranium to whatever level, it's not just Saudi Arabia that's going to ask for that,” —Prince Turki al-Faisal, a senior member of the Saudi royal family, warning that a deal on Iran's nuclear program could prompt other regional states to develop atomic fuel. Critics have argued that negotiating an agreement aimed at limiting Iran's nuclear activity, but not ending it, would trigger a nuclear arms race in the region spurred on by Saudi-Iran rivalry. "The whole world will be an open door to go that route without any inhibition, and that's my main objection to this P5+1 [the six world powers] process," al-Faisal claimed. (BBC, Mar. 16, 2015)
“People are very concerned that the White House is whitewashing Iran and Hezbollah’s involvement with terrorism…If that’s the case, the next question is why. The working presumption might be to facilitate the nuclear negotiations. A related concern: that this could be a way to unravel the sanctions on Iran that are based on terrorism, rather than illicit nuclear activities. If any of that is accurate it should be alarming,” —Cliff May, President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. A recent US Intelligence report which appears to downplay the terrorist activities from Iran and its proxy groups has raised questions about what could have motivated the change from previous similar reports. May called the Director of National Intelligence’s 2015 Worldwide Threat Assessment “disturbing.” He said he is worried that the Administration is attempting to minimize the terror threat of Iran and Hezbollah in an effort to lift sanctions against Iran, and further nuclear negotiations. (Algemeiner, Mar. 16, 2015)
“Being a Democrat in the Age of Obama requires you to believe cops kill black kids on purpose but radical Islamists kill Jews by accident,” —Joel Pollak, on his Twitter account. Pollak is an American political commentator, author, and editor-in-chief for Breitbart News. (Twitter, Feb. 10, 2015)
“What we’re pushing for is to get [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] to come and do that, and it may require that there be increased pressure on him of various kinds,” —U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. In an interview broadcast Sunday, Kerry refrained from making the usual demand for Assad to leave office. The U.S., Kerry asserted, has to “negotiate in the end,” adding that the strategy was to try to pressure the Syrian leader into talks. “We’ve made it very clear to people that we are looking at increased steps that can help bring about that pressure.” Kerry’s remarks suggesting a willingness to negotiate with Assad to end Syria’s civil war ignited a storm of speculation over whether the United States has softened its opposition to the Syrian president. (Washington Post, Mar. 16, 2015)
"Despite all these massacres, despite the use of chemical weapons that crossed the red line, if you still shake the hand of Assad, that handshake will be remembered throughout history," —Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, highlighting Turkey's differences with Washington over dealing with the Syrian leader. Speaking at an AK Party meeting in Ankara, Davutoglu said voices in the West which say there is a need to negotiate with Assad "make us question our human values…There's no difference between shaking hands with Assad, or with Hitler, Saddam, Karadzic, Milosevic." Turkey has been a reluctant partner in the US-led coalition against Islamic State, refusing to step up its military cooperation without a comprehensive plan for Syria which includes removing Assad. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 17, 2015)
“Everyone knows what the scandal is. [former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton] didn’t want a paper trail of her decisions and actions as secretary of state. She didn’t want to be questioned about them, ever. So she didn’t join the government’s paper-trail system, in this case the State Department’s official email system, which retains and archives records. She built her own private system and got to keep complete control of everything she’d done or written. She no doubt assumed no one outside would ask and no one inside would insist—she’s Hillary, don’t mess with her. She knew the story might blow but maybe it wouldn’t, worth the chance considering the payoff: secrecy. If what she did became public she’d deal with it then. When this week she was forced to, she stonewalled: “The server will remain private.” Is it outrageous? Of course. Those are U.S. government documents she concealed and destroyed,” —Peggy Noonan. According to the State Department, Clinton conducted official business from a personal email account in her four years as Secretary of State, rather than use a government account. A congressional committee has been seeking her emails as part of its investigation into the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including U.S. Amb. Christopher Stevens, in 2012. (Wall Street Journal, Mar. 13, 2015)
“We are inspired by Senator Menendez’s audacity to speak truth to power. Willing to reach across party lines on issues of conscience, he has stood up valiantly for the human rights of the people of Cuba. And he stood up for the American and Israeli people against the Administration’s rush to conclude a deal with Iran that would endanger the security of both nations…Of the White House’s proposed accord with Iran, Menendez famously said, “I have to be honest with you. The more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran.”… We live in dangerous times. And there has never been a more important moment to stand with, and thank, our friends,” —Ad in the New York Times, purchased by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and the organization This World: The Values Network. (Bloomberg, Mar. 13, 2015)
“One of the biggest lies is that time could help…Time does not help. It only deepens the feeling that something is missing. One simply learns to live with such trauma. And if you don’t get to the point where you can forgive them, then I think you can’t go on living.” —Eva Fahidi. When Fahidi was 18, she was, as she put it, “ripped off the school bench to be deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau,” one of an estimated 437,000 Hungarian Jews rounded up outside Budapest and dispatched to death camps in just 57 days in 1944. Fahidi lost 49 relatives in the Holocaust, including her mother and sister Gilike, then 11. Slowly, Fahidi embarked on a journey through memory that took her back to Auschwitz-Birkenau on July 1, 2003, 59 years to the day after she arrived in 1944. “The trees had grown beautifully,” she sighed. But nature could not eradicate the pain. “I needed a lot of time,” she said. “Six decades.” (New York Times, Mar. 13, 2015)
NETANYAHU TAKES VICTORY WITH 29 SEATS (Jerusalem) — With around 99 percent of votes counted in Israel's election, Prime Minister Netanyahu's Likud party scored a clear victory early Wednesday with 29 mandates. His nearest rival, the center-left Zionist Union was trailing with 24 mandates. The Joint Arab List came in third with 14 mandates, followed by the centrist Yesh Atid party with 11 mandates and Moshe Kahlon's center-right Kulanu party with 10 mandates. Some 5.88 million Israelis were eligible to take part in the vote to elect 120 Knesset Members on Tuesday with 68,19 percent of voters taking up the call to the ballots. The ballot to choose Israel's 20th parliament came about after Netanyahu last December called snap elections as his fractious coalition government teetered on the brink of collapse. (I24, Mar. 18, 2015)
HERZOG: WE'RE NOT JOINING LIKUD GOVERNMENT (Jerusalem) —Zionist Union Chairman Yitzhak Herzog on Wednesday afternoon made it clear that he was not interested in joining a unity government with Prime Minister Netanyahu in his new government. “The opposition is the only real option for us right now,” said Herzog at a meeting of the party Wednesday. Tzipi Livni, who would have been Prime Minister after Herzog under their rotation agreement had the party formed the government, said that she “woke up this morning with a bad feeling. They have their path, and that is not our path.” (Arutz Sheva, Mar. 18, 2015)
SENATE PANEL PROBING POSSIBLE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TIES TO ANTI-NETANYAHU EFFORT (Washington) — A powerful U.S. Senate investigatory committee has launched a bipartisan probe into an U.S. nonprofit’s funding of efforts to oust Netanyahu after the Obama administration’s State Department gave the nonprofit taxpayer-funded grants. The development comes as Netanyahu said that there were “governments” that wanted to help with the “Just Not Bibi” campaigning. It also follows a report on claims the Obama administration has been meddling in the Israeli election on behalf of groups hostile to Netanyahu. The probe is looking into “funding” by OneVoice Movement – a Washington-based group that has received $350,000 in recent State Department grants, and until last November was headed by a veteran diplomat from the Clinton administration. A subsidiary of OneVoice is the Israel-based Victory 15 campaign, itself guided by top operatives of Obama’s White House runs, which seeks to “replace the government” of Israel. (Fox News, Mar. 15, 2015)
INVESTIGATIVE REPORTERS ASSAIL AP STORY ON GAZA CIVILIAN CASUALTIES (New York) — Two of America’s top investigative journalists, Richard Behar and Gary Weiss, have assailed a recent story by the Associated Press on Israel’s military action against Hamas in Gaza last summer. Published in the The New York Observer, the Behar-Weiss report on the AP reveals a pattern of one-sided reporting, staged photos, and poor research. It also uncovers a departure from established ethical journalism, and contends that the AP story “was set into motion by slanted, politically biased non-governmental organizations.” On February 13, 2015, the AP released its report which focused on I AF strikes on homes during the Gaza War and claimed that “just over 60 percent – were children, women and older men, all presumed to be civilians.” (Algemeiner, Mar. 11, 2015)
MAJOR NATIONS HOLD TALKS ON ENDING SANCTIONS ON IRAN (Washington) — Major world powers have begun talks about a UN Security Council resolution to lift UN sanctions on Iran if a nuclear agreement is struck with Tehran, a step that could make it harder for the US Congress to undo a deal. The talks between Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S. – the five permanent members of the Security Council – plus Germany and Iran, are taking place ahead of difficult negotiations that resume next week over constricting Iran's nuclear ability. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 13, 2015)
JORDAN CONCERNED ABOUT IRANIAN EXPANSION NEAR ITS BORDERS (Amman) — The expansion of the areas in Syria under the control of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps towards contested areas near neighboring Jordanian villages and towns constitutes a dramatic and dangerous development for the Hashemite monarchy, according to reports from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and opposition activists. These leadership elements have verified that thousands of IRGC operatives, supported by Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraqi, Afghani and Tajik Shi’a militias are holding three points on the border, separated from Jordan by a mere few kilometers. (Algemeiner, Mar. 16, 2015)
I.S. COULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHEMICAL WEAPON ATTACKS (Baghdad) — Kurdish forces in Iraq are investigating two other possible chemical weapons attacks by the Islamic State. The two purported chemical weapon attacks resemble one claimed Saturday by Kurdish officials who say an independent laboratory concluded the militants used chlorine gas against its peshmerga forces in a Jan. 23 truck suicide attack. However, their claims were not immediately verified by international authorities. Iraqi officials and Kurds fighting in Syria have made similar allegations about the militants using the low-grade chemical weapons against them. Islamic State, which controls a third of Syria and Iraq, has not commented on the claims. (New York Daily News, Mar. 16, 2015)
I.S. WANTS TO ‘BLOW UP’ WHITE HOUSE, BIG BEN AND EIFFEL TOWER (Raqqa) — Islamic State wants to “blow up your White House, Big Ben, and the Eiffel Tower,” its official spokesman said in an audio message Thursday that claimed the Islamist terrorists had expanded its reach into West Africa. In his first speech in two months, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani accepted a pledge of allegiance from the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram and listed the cities “we want,” from Paris and Rome to Jerusalem and Kabul. Al-Adnani was capitalizing on the recent decision of Boko Haram, notorious for its indiscriminate bombings and kidnappings of girls, to align itself with I.S. He called it “a new door opened by Allah” and directed jihadists to West Africa. (National Post, Mar. 12, 2015)
SYRIAN CIVIL WAR ENTERS FIFTH YEAR (Damascus) — On March 15, 2011, a small group of protesters gathered in Damascus to demand democratic reforms and the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad. That small spark ignited a civil war that enters its fifth year this week with no end in sight. Since the beginning of the conflict, the Syrian government repeatedly and publicly agreed to international peace efforts while simultaneously ignoring the commitments it has made under them. It also has refused to discuss any proposal to usher Assad out of power. "We have expressed our horror, our outrage, our frustration as we have watched the tragedy unfold," the UN’s senior humanitarian officials said, highlighting a crisis that has already claimed more than 220,000 lives. (CBC, mar. 15, 2015)
MCGILL UNDERGRADUATES DEFEAT BDS MOTION – AGAIN (Montreal) —The McGill University undergraduates’ association defeated a motion that urged the university to divest from companies “profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories” by a vote of 276 to 212, with nine abstentions. The motion was put forward by the student club Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR). This was the second anti-Israel motion SPHR has introduced this academic year. At the fall general assembly in October, a motion to “stand in solidarity with the people of the occupied Palestinian territories” and condemning Israel’s “siege” of Gaza and “illegal” settlement expansion was shelved after a 402-337 vote. (Canadian Jewish News, Mar. 16, 2015)
ANTISEMITIC STICKERS PLACED AROUND HEAVILY-JEWISH AMSTERDAM SUBURB (Amsterdam) — Two Dutch mayors condemned the appearance of stickers featuring a cartoon nose on shops in a heavily Jewish suburb of the Dutch capital. The stickers were spotted earlier this month on the shop windows of several businesses in Amstelveen, a municipality just south of Amsterdam, which is home to approximately one third of the 50,000 Jews living in the Netherlands. The stickers are available for sale on a website offering memorabilia for fans of Rotterdam’s Feyenoord soccer team, who often call fans of Amsterdam’s Ajax team “Jews” and have chanted antisemitic slogans at matches and directly after them to provoke Ajax fans. Several dozen stickers cost about $7. (JTA, Mar. 12, 2015)
UK GROUPS DECLARE APPRECIATION FOR ISRAEL AS SAFE HAVEN FOR CHRISTIANS (London) —British Christian groups are circulating a declaration expressing appreciation for Israel as a safe haven for Christians, support for bolstering ties with the Jewish state, and a call to combat antisemitism. Called the “Shalom Declaration,” the document states, “We deeply appreciate that Israel is the only country in the Middle East which extends freedom of worship to all its citizens,” Jewish News reported. The declaration also calls on Christians and U.K. leaders to work to combat the growing threat of antisemitism and forge closer British-Israeli relations. Antisemitic incidents in the U.K. reached their highest levels ever in 2014. (Breaking Israel News, Mar. 12, 2015)
ARAFAT WAS NOT POISONED, FRENCH PROSECUTOR SAYS (Paris) —A French prosecutor told the French news agency AFP that French experts found that Arafat was not poisoned, despite rumors to the contrary. Arafat’s widow, Suha, had filed legal action in July 2012 asking French authorities in the western Paris suburb of Nanterre to look into claims that her husband was poisoned. Suha Arafat based her lawsuit on a 108-page report released to her by the University Centre of Legal Medicine in Switzerland, which maintains that the theory that Arafat was poisoned is most consistent with their results. Russian experts have maintained that Arafat was not poisoned. The French experts “maintain that the polonium 210 and lead 210 found in Arafat’s grave and in the samples are of an environmental nature,” Nanterre prosecutor Catherine Denis told AFP. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 17, 2015)
LIBRARY OFFICIALLY RENAMED FOR RICHLER (Montreal) — Fourteen years after the death of internationally celebrated Montreal author Mordecai Richler, the city he immortalized in his books has finally officially honoured him. Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre announced Thursday in front of Richler's widow and two of his sons that a French-language library in the novelist's old neighbourhood of Mile End would be renamed in honour of the late author. Coderre also posthumously named Richler an Honorary Citizen of the city. Richler was born in Montreal in 1931 and died at the age of 70 in 2001. He was best known for such classics as "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz" and "Barney's Version," both of which were set in Montreal and made into feature films. (CTV News, Mar. 12, 2015)
Netanyahu: the Comeback Kid: Michael Freund, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 17, 2015— Going in to today’s balloting, Benjamin Netanyahu was Israel’s Prime Minister and, if the exit polls on Israel’s main television stations prove accurate, he will not be looking for a new job any time soon.
For the US, Assad is Not Part of the Problem, he is Part of the Solution: Yossi Melman, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 17, 2015— A revolution has taken place. The US has signaled that it is changing its policy toward Syrian President Bashar Assad.
An Ever-Bleaker Syria, From All Vantage Points: Ben Hubbard, New York Times, Mar. 14, 2015 —Government helicopters rained barrel bombs on villages across Syria last week, killing civilians and demolishing homes.
Iran Occupies Iraq: Wall Street Journal, Mar. 11, 2015—While Washington focuses on Iran-U.S. nuclear talks, the Islamic Republic is making a major but little-noticed strategic advance.
CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by fax and e-mail. Please urge colleagues, friends and family to visit our website for more information on our Briefing series. To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, contact us at http://www.isranet.org/.
The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible membership contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address or “Donate” button on Website)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.
CIJR’s Briefing series attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinion of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Institute.