WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

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

 

MEDIA-OCRITY OF THE WEEK: “President Obama’s meeting with Arab leaders this week is an opportunity to reassure the deeply skeptical Gulf states that America’s engagement and probable nuclear deal with Iran is not a threat but an opportunity for regional stability… an Iran restrained by a strong and verifiable nuclear agreement is a lot less threatening than an unfettered Iran… Ellen Laipson, president of The Stimson Center, a think tank, has argued, the nuclear deal should be seen as “a great moment of opportunity” for the Arabs (with Israel’s tacit agreement) to embark on new regional ventures with Iran on energy, climate change, water scarcity and arms control. If the nuclear deal is completed, the administration would try to encourage Iran to play a more constructive role in Syria.”NYT Editorial (New York Times, May 9, 2015)     

 

On Topic Links  

 

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Speech at the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism, 2015 (VIDEO): Algemeiner, May 12, 2015

In Jerusalem, Finding Solutions to Anti-Semitism: Abraham H. Foxman, Times of Israel, May 13, 2015

Defending Human Rights Prisoners of Tehran: Irwin Cotler, Jerusalem Post, May 11, 2015

Could Yemen Be the Start of a Major Middle East War?: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Apr. 27, 2015

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“Today there is no doubt that we are living in an age of resurgent anti-Semitism…Jews everywhere are once again being slandered and vilified…This is taking place in the intolerant parts of the Middle East but it’s also taking place in what otherwise would be expected to be the tolerant parts of the West…It’s taking place in Beirut, in Damascus, in Tehran. But it’s also taking place, violently so, in Toulouse, in Paris, in Brussels,” —Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the opening of the fifth Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism. In his address, Netanyahu referenced the recent “magnificent” Israeli rescue efforts in Nepal, and the criticism it spurred from Iran and Venezuela. “Yet yesterday state television in both Iran and Venezuela accused our humanitarian team of trafficking in babies. Now, did any of you see an Iranian rescue team in Nepal?” Netanyahu asked. “I don’t know if we’ll be able to eradicate the scourge of anti-Semitism. I know we have to fight it. We have learned that if you don’t fight it, if unstopped, these fires of anti-Semitism eventually spread and they consume everyone,” Netanyahu said. (Times of Israel, May 13, 2015)

 

“Our government has seen the troubling evidence of Canadians traveling overseas to participate in terrorist activities, particularly to the so-called Islamic State,” —Steven Blaney, the Canadian Public Safety Minister. Canadians preparing to travel overseas to enlist with terrorist groups could have their passports cancelled without notice and revoked for up to 10 years under measures announced Thursday. Blaney portrayed the measures as a response to the growing number of Canadians leaving to join violent extremist groups, notably the Islamic State. Six Quebecers recently disappeared and are suspected of having gone to I.S. territory, joining dozens of other Canadians. “We cannot ignore the danger posed by high-risk travelers looking to travel to places like Syria, only to potentially return back to Canada with training and experience necessary to threaten the safety of Canadians by engaging in jihadi terrorism here at home,” Blaney said. (National Post, May 7, 2015)

 

“They are being trained and equipped to fight ISIL. That is the purpose, and that is the basis upon which they’re being vetted and trained,” —U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter. The U.S. military began training a small group of Syrian rebels last week at a base in Jordan, the start of what U.S. defense officials said was an important step toward creating a force to eventually challenge Islamic State. Carter said about ninety moderate rebels were being trained as part of the force, and officials said a second group would begin training shortly in Turkey. But the program, which was intended to start in March, has been delayed and will have far fewer students than planned, reflecting the difficulty the Pentagon has faced in starting it. “We’re starting with the people that we have that we’ve vetted very carefully,” Carter said at a news conference. “We expect that to be successful and therefore to grow, but you have to start somewhere, and this is where we’re starting.” Despite repeated U.S. calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, the American intervention in Syria is now focused on defeating Islamic State forces, whose brutality in Syria and Iraq has alarmed Washington and its Middle East allies. (Wall Street Journal, May 7, 2015)

 

"It's a different world now in Syria, because the Saudi pocketbook has opened and the Americans can't tell them not to do it…It's quite clear that Salman has prioritized efforts against Iran over those against the Muslim Brotherhood," — Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Casting aside U.S. concerns about aiding extremist groups, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have converged on an aggressive new strategy to bring down Syrian President Bashar Assad. The two countries have for years been at odds over how to deal with Assad, their common enemy.  But mutual frustration with what they consider American indecision has brought the two together in a strategic alliance that is driving recent rebel gains in northern Syria, and has helped strengthen a new coalition of anti-Assad insurgents, Turkish officials say. That is provoking concern in the U.S., which does not want rebel groups, including the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, uniting to topple Assad. (Montreal Gazette, May 8, 2015)

 

“Becoming a fighter is seen as a way to make money to survive for those children who come from vulnerable backgrounds…And this is happening in all groups, from the north to south, in every corner of the country,” —Julien Harneis, the Yemen representative for UNICEF. Hundreds and possibly thousands of boys are fighting in Yemen’s conflict, according to rights groups. Many are between the ages of 13 and 16, the groups say. Experts cite worsening poverty in the Arabian Peninsula country as a major reason children are joining armed groups. (Washington Post, May 11, 2015)

 

“You have a rising problem now where fathers refuse to let their sons return from the fighting because the families have gotten dependent on the money that this brings in,” —Jalal al-Shami, a human rights activist in Yemen who studies the issue of underage soldier. In some cases, he said, a boy can earn over $100 a month — a sizeable sum in a country where, even before the current unrest, half the population lived on $2 a day or less. The use of child soldiers began to increase in Yemen during wars between the government and the Houthis starting in 2004. (Washington Post, May 11, 2015)

 

"I am not losing sight of who put me in prison," —Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian journalist on trial for widely denounced terror charges in Egypt, referring to the Egyptian prosecutors who failed to present any evidence related to the terror charges. "However, Al-Jazeera's epic negligence has made our situation harder, more difficult, and gave our captor more firepower…It is an infringement on freedom of speech to silence three innocent, recognized journalists. Yet a very important aspect of this case is Qatar abusing its Al Jazeera Arabic platform in waging a media war against Egypt," he said. Fahmy says he is suing satellite news broadcaster Al Jazeera for $100 million in damages. He is accusing the Qatar-based news agency of negligence. Fahmy was arrested along with two other Al Jazeera English colleagues in December 2013 and charged with several terror-related offences. He spent more than a year in prison before being released on bail earlier this year, and is currently undergoing his second trial after a successful appeal of his earlier convictions. (Hamilton Spectator, May 11, 2015)

 

“Absurdly, the very crime that involves the highest degree of guilt and incurs the highest penalty is still defined in wording that was formulated by Nazi jurists in 1941. I find this absolutely unacceptable… And I’m hopeful that we will soon be able to root out the last reminiscence of Nazi law from our state books once and for all,” — Heiko Maas, the German justice minister, said Tuesday in Jerusalem. Seven decades after the end of World War II, important parts of Germany’s legal code as they are used today date back to the Nazi era. Speaking at a conference on antisemitism, Maas called the ongoing reliance on Nazi-era laws “absolutely unacceptable.” He added that he has initiated a process to replace these laws, a declaration which drew praise from a senior Israeli minister. (Times of Israel, May 13, 2015)

 

“Seventy years have passed since the last transport left Platform 17; yet once again, fascist and neo-Nazi movements are growing stronger and stronger on European soil,” — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, in Berlin to mark the 50th anniversary of Israeli-German diplomatic relations. After laying a wreath at the memorial for the 55,000 Jews who were transported to Nazi concentration camps from the capital’s infamous Platform 17 train station, the president said that “apathy, indifference or denial,” was not enough to counter dangerous ideologies. The Third Reich, Rivlin said, was not created overnight, but was the result of years of underlying racism that went largely unopposed by German citizens. “Anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, and frustration grew like a cancer under the surface for many years. This poisoned soil was the foundation, on which the Nazi monster acted unchallenged… We must remember, democracy alone does not make us immune to nationalism and fascism. No nation is immune to anti-Semitism. No nation is immune to extremism or fundamentalism,” the President said at the memorial. (Times of Israel, May 12, 2015)

 

Contents

SHORT TAKES

 

U.S. ACCUSES SYRIA OF NEW USES OF CHEMICAL ARMS (Damascus) — U.S. diplomats stepped up pressure against the Syrian government on Friday by accusing it of continuing to use chemical arms against its opponents in the country’s four-year civil war. Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said evidence makes clear that Syria is killing people by dropping chlorine-filled barrels from helicopters onto neighborhoods and stressed that the international community needs to assign blame to Damascus. Syria, which denies it uses chemical weapons, agreed in 2013 to a U.S.-Russia-sponsored plan to dismantle its chemical-arms network and join an international treaty banning their use to avert the threat of a U.S. attack. In the past, President Bashar al-Assad’s allies in Beijing and Moscow have vetoed resolutions condemning his regime. (Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2015)

 

GUNMEN IN PAKISTAN KILL 43 IN ATTACK ON BUS (Karachi) —Gunmen on motorbikes attacked a bus carrying members of a religious minority in Karachi, Pakistan's largest and most populous city, on Wednesday, killing 43 people and wounding 19 others. Six attackers used 9mm pistols to shoot at the people on the bus, police said. The vehicle was carrying men, women and children from the Ismaili Shiite Muslim community. A violent extremist group that persecutes Pakistan's Shiite minority claimed responsibility for the attack and vowed to carry out more. (CNN, May 13, 2015)

 

DOZENS DIE AND 40 ESCAPE IN IRAQI PRISON RIOT (Baghdad) — Forty inmates in a prison in eastern Iraq, including some convicted of terrorism charges, have escaped amid a riot that left at least six police officers and 30 prisoners dead, the Iraqi authorities said on Saturday. There were conflicting casualty reports on the riot at the Khalis prison in Diyala Province. Two provincial police officials and a medical official put the toll much higher, saying that 51 inmates and 12 police officers had been killed, and that more than 200 inmates had escaped. (New York Times, May 9, 2015)

 

EGYPTIAN COURT UPHOLDS MUBARAK VERDICT (Cairo) — An Egyptian court reconfirmed a corruption conviction of former President Hosni Mubarak amid signals from the authorities that he may soon be released. The court reissued a three-year sentence for Mubarak that had been originally handed down in May 2014 but temporarily set aside in January when an appeals court ordered a retrial. Mubarak has already spent more than three years in detention since his overthrow in 2011. The renewed conviction means that Mubarak’s record will not be cleared completely. The court found Mubarak, 87, and his two sons guilty of diverting millions of dollars in public expenditures for their personal use. (New York Times, May 9, 2015)

 

PAKISTANI IMMIGRANT DECLARED SECURITY THREAT TO BE DEPORTED (Toronto) —Mohammed Aqeeq Ansari stockpiled firearms and made trips to Pakistan to visit a cleric who fought “jihad” in Afghanistan. Canada’s Immigration & Refugee Board found that Ansari was a member of a terrorist organization and a danger to Canada’s security. It ordered him deported to Pakistan, the country he left when he came to Toronto as an immigrant eight years ago. The ruling followed hearings at which the Canada Border Services Agency alleged he was a long-standing member of the Pakistani sectarian terrorist organization Sipah-e-Sahaba, or SSP. Officials said Ansari had been involved with the terror group since before coming to Canada and since then had been soliciting funds and promoting its goals online. (National Post, May 11, 2015)

 

RABBIS GATHER IN TOULOUSE TO DENOUNCE ISLAMIST TERROR (Toulouse) — Senior rabbis from across Europe and Israel gathered in Toulouse, France, for a conference devoted to finding ways to overcome challenges facing European Jewry. The event, the biennial convention of the European Conference of Rabbis, on Tuesday brought together 250 participants including the chief rabbi of France, Haim Korsia, and his British counterpart, Ephraim Mirvis. In 2012, Mohammed Merah, a Muslim fanatic, murdered three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse. The 2014 slaying of four at Brussels’ Jewish museum, the murder of four Jews near Paris in January and the gunning down of a Jewish guard in Copenhagen in February “are the latest casualties of the wave that we saw emerging in Toulouse,” said Pinchas Goldschmidt, the chief rabbi of Moscow and the president of the Conference of European Rabbis. (Times of Israel, May 13, 2015) 

 

GALLOWAY DEFEATED FOR RE-ELECTION (London) —British MP George Galloway lost his bid for re-election to Parliament representing Bradford West Thursday by a 2-1 margin. Newcomer Naz Shah, a Muslim feminist of Pakistani descent, won 19,977 votes to the incumbent Galloway’s 8,557. While Galloway is notoriously anti-Israel – he declared Bradford an “Israel-free zone” – Thursday’s drubbing in the district with a large conservative Muslim community seemed to turn on issues much closer to home. While he congratulated the Labour party on winning the seat, he seemed more peeved by “others who are already celebrating: the venal, the vile, the racists and the Zionists will all be celebrating.” (Algemeiner, May 12, 2015)

 

CANADA TO FIGHT BDS MOVEMENT WITH HATE CRIME LAWS (Ottawa) —Canada, one of Israel's staunchest allies, appears primed to use its new hate crime laws against groups advocating for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. According to a CBC report, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government made its intentions clear by sending a list of the country's hate crime laws in response to CBC's inquiry on its stance on BDS. Over the past few months, several cabinet ministers have made statements pledging vigilance against the country's many BDS groups, which are primarily associated with universities, labor unions and churches. In a United Nations address, Public Security Minister Steven Blaney argued that boycotts of Israel constitute antisemitic hate speech, and vowed a "zero tolerance" policy toward the BDS movement. (Arutz Sheva, May 11, 2015)

 

BDS RESOLUTIONS FAIL AT CA COMMUNITY COLLEGE, BOWDOIN COLLEGE (New York) — The BDS movement suffered two resounding blows last week, in college campuses across the U.S. Bowdoin College in Maine defeated a student-wide referendum, sponsored by the institution’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, which called for a complete academic and cultural boycott of Israel. A similar bid failed to pass when the California Community College system, the largest educational system in the U.S., rejected a resolution to divest from companies doing business with Israel. The General Assembly of the Student Senate of California Community Colleges – which represents over 2.1 million students – voted against the divestment measure with a final tally of 25 in favor, 44 opposed, and six abstentions. (Algemeiner, May 6, 2015)

 

ISRAEL AND ONTARIO EXTEND JOINT R&D PROGRAM (Ottawa) — The Chief Scientist’s Office in the Economy Ministry and Ontario’s Minister of Research and Innovation Reza Moridi extended an Ontario-Israel Collaboration Program for another five years, bringing the cumulative value of the program to $18 million. According to Moridi, an Iranian-born nuclear scientist who moved to Canada in 1987, Israel and Ontario have a particularly strong relationship in the fields of life sciences, medical devices, clean-tech and telecoms/ICT. Although Ontario may not have the brand recognition of the start-up nation or Silicon Valley, Moridi said it is a leader in many unexpected fields. In all of North America, Ontario is home to the second-largest number of ICT companies, and of the 60 states and provinces in the US and Canada, it ranks No. 7 in R&D. (Jerusalem Post, May 11, 2015)

 

IDF TO PURCHASE ADVANCED PATROL SHIPS FROM GERMANY (Haifa) —Israel will pay 430 million euros for the purchase of four patrol ships from Germany. The purchase was made as part of a procurement plan authorized by the Israeli government in order to protect Israel’s offshore gas rigs in the Mediterranean Sea. The Defense Ministry will purchase the advanced Patrol Corvette ships from the German ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) shipyard in Kiel, the same shipyard from which the Israeli Navy purchases its Dolphin-class submarines. The patrol ships will be supplied within the next five years. In exchange for the deal, the German company which owns the shipyard agreed to purchase goods made in Israel for a total amount of around 700 million shekels. Israel’s Defense Ministry insisted that all combat systems on the ships be made in Israel. (Jerusalem Online, May 11, 2015)

 

JEWISH VETS HONOURED 70 YEARS AFTER END OF WWII (Toronto) — Eugene Kats, Valentin Rabinovich, and Arkadiy Novokolsky all served in the Soviet Armed Forces. They were among the veterans who were honoured May 8 at a community celebration marking the 70th anniversary of VE Day, when Nazi Germany surrendered to Allied forces in Europe. About 200 people gathered in Toronto for this community event, which was an opportunity to highlight the contribution of Jewish veterans from the former Soviet Union, all of whom are members of the group Jewish War Veterans of Canada. Jewish soldiers played a vital role in the fight against the Nazis. Of the 1.5 million Jewish soldiers who fought in the war, 550,000 were American and another third or 500,000 were in the Soviet Armed Forces. (CJN, May 11, 2015)

 

OFFICIALS THREATEN TO CLOSE MOSQUE INSTALLATION AT VENICE BIENNALE (Venice) — A provocative art installation in the form of a functioning mosque opened here on Friday for prayers, attended by dozens of Muslim worshipers who were outnumbered through much of the day by art spectators crowding the city for the 56th Venice Biennale. The project, by the Swiss-Icelandic artist Christoph Büchel, serves as Iceland’s national pavilion for the Biennale and is intended in part to highlight the absence of a mosque in the historic heart of Venice. But the idea has upset Venetian city officials and police authorities, who have warned that the mosque poses a security threat because of possible violence either by anti-Islamic extremists or Islamic extremists upset that the mosque has been created inside a disused Catholic church. (New York Times, May 8, 2015)

 

OLDEST COMPLETE COPY OF TEN COMMANDMENTS GOES ON DISPLAY IN ISRAEL (Jerusalem) — The world’s oldest complete copy of the Ten Commandments is going on rare display at Israel’s leading museum in an exhibit tracing civilization’s most pivotal moments. The 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scroll, from a collection of the world’s most ancient biblical manuscripts discovered near the Dead Sea east of Jerusalem, has never before been publicly displayed in Israel and has only been shown in brief exhibits abroad. The manuscript is so brittle that it will only be on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem for two weeks before it is returned to a secure, pitch-black, climate-controlled storage facility at the museum. It is one of 14 ancient objects displayed in “A Brief History of Humankind,” an exhibit of historical objects spanning hundreds of thousands of years. (Times of Israel, May 5, 2015)

 

LEST WE FORGET: ISRAELI AGENTS NAB ADOLF EICHMAN IN ARGENTINA (May 11, 1960) — The man calling himself Ricardo Klement was getting home from work in the suburbs of Buenos Aires when a stranger approached him and said, “Un momentito, senor.” In just seconds, the stranger and another man wrestled “Klement” to the ground, then bundled him into a waiting car. Eleven days later, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion startled the world by announcing that Mossad had captured Adolf Eichmann, the fugitive SS officer who had supervised the transport of Jews across Europe to Nazi death camps. Put on trial, Eichmann portrayed himself as an ordinary man who was just following orders, the epitome of Hannah Arendt’s famous phrase about the “banality of evil.” New scholarship reveals that Eichmann was no mere cog, but an unrepentant fanatic. He went to the gallows in 1962. (Globe & Mail, May 11, 2015)

 

On Topic Links 

 

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Speech at the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism, 2015 (VIDEO): Algemeiner, May 12, 2015—“Well, I’m very pleased to welcome you all to Jerusalem. There are senior government ministers here from Germany, from Romania, from Bulgaria, from Canada.”

In Jerusalem, Finding Solutions to Anti-Semitism: Abraham H. Foxman, Times of Israel, May 13, 2015 —This week, leaders, experts and practitioners are gathering in Jerusalem to figure out a solution to a problem that has challenged the Jewish people for millennia: how to protect ourselves from the never ending threat of anti-Semitism.

Defending Human Rights Prisoners of Tehran: Irwin Cotler, Jerusalem Post, May 11, 2015 —Canadian parliamentarians from across the political spectrum joined together to launch the fourth annual Iran Accountability Week in order to sound the alarm on the toxic convergence of threats posed by the Iranian regime: the nuclear threat, terrorism, incitement to hatred, and particularly the widespread and systematic violation of human rights.

Could Yemen Be the Start of a Major Middle East War?: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Apr. 27, 2015 —Back in Roman times, Yemen went by the name “Arabia Felix”—Latin for “Happy Arabia.” It’s hard to think of a greater misnomer for this Arab state on the southern tip of the Persian Gulf, a few miles across the water from the Horn of Africa.

 

Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

 

Contents:Weekly Quotes|Short Takes|On Topic

 

International Conference

 

 

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Israel’s Levy Report –
Clarifying the Misconceptions

 

 

“Hopefully, from [Barack] Obama’s vantage, he may have appreciated that bullying or demeaning Netanyahu was counter-productive…Should Obama revert to his earlier approach of continuously publicly reprimanding Israel while treating the duplicitous Palestinian leaders with kid gloves, he could bring about a confrontation with Congress.  By now, Obama may also have independently reached the conclusion that by distancing the US and exerting harsh pressure on Israel, all he achieved was to embolden the radical Islamists and encourage the Palestinians to become more intransigent in their demands….We should therefore, at least at the outset, adopt a positive approach to the new administration and assume that Obama will adhere to his commitments and that the improvement in relations with Israel created over the past six months will be sustained. We may be facing difficult times. But we must remain optimistic in the knowledge that the United States is a democracy. As long as public opinion continues to support Israel, the relationship between both countries may, as in the past, undergo strains and stresses, but will remain intact.” —Isi Liebler, commenting on the re-election of Barack Obama as President. (Jerusalem Post, November 7, 2012)

 

“[A]lthough I think Romney would have been a more effective president than Obama, with a better program, I am in fact more in sympathy with President Obama’s declared goals in judicial and welfare matters…. It is scandalous that such a rich country as the United States has 45-million poor people, and I agree with the spirit of the Democratic effort to assist those people. But I do not think their professed methods would be any more successful than the well-intentioned, but largely counter-productive programs of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society legislation of 45 years ago — which I also ardently supported at the time…. — Conrad Black in response to the re-election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. (National Post, November 7, 2012)

 

"Four years ago, Obama … announced he would extend the hand of cooperation to Iran. But he pursued a different path and imposed unprecedented sanctions and it is natural the Iranian people will never forget such crimes. After all this pressure and crimes against the people of Iran, relations with America cannot be possible overnight and Americans should not think they can hold our nation to ransom by coming to the negotiating table," Sadeq Larijani, head of the Iranian judiciary as quoted by IRNA news agency following the re-election of President Barack Obama. (Jerusalem Post, November 7, 2012)

 

"I am a refugee but I am living in Ramallah. I believe that the West Bank and Gaza is Palestine. And the other parts [are] Israel. I want to see Safed. It is my right to see it but not to live there. Palestine now for me is ’67 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This is now and forever …This is Palestine for me..” —Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in an English language statement to Israel Television’s Channel 2 which was widely interpreted to be a renunciation of  the so called “right of return” of all Palestinian “refugees” to their original homes in Israel proper.  However, following an angry backlash from other Palestinians, notably Hamas and members of Fatah, he clarified his remarks telling Egypt’s al-Hayat television, in Arabic,  “Speaking about Safed was a personal position and it did not mean conceding the right of return. No one would give up their right of return. But all those international formulas, especially that of [UN Resolution] 194 speak of a just and agreed-upon solution to the refugee issue, and agreed-upon means on the part of Israel.” (National Post, November 1, 2012)

 

“I watched President Abbas’ interview at the weekend, and I heard that since then he has already managed to recant. Peace can be advanced only around the negotiating table, and not through unilateral resolutions at the U.N. General Assembly, which will only put peace further away and bring about instability,” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in response to Mahmoud Abbas’ interview with Channel 2 Television. (National Post, November 4, 2012)

 

“If it is true that Abbas’ statement can be understood to be relinquishing the “right of return,” then this is nothing more than a purely tactical mistake because a position like this should be declared in the context of negotiations and bargaining, and not to be offered as a free offering ahead of time. …[M]ore importantly, “the right of return” is inconsistent with the two-state solution…While the Middle East unravels into religious, sectarian and ethnic groups that fear one another…it would take us a great deal of naivety to believe that the Jews of Israel would accept the “return” of 5 to 6 million Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, to live in their midst. This is pure delusion whose only purpose is to undermine the two-state solution as a prelude to doing away with it completely. This is particularly the case when the call for “the right of return” is coupled with threats about numerical and demographic shifts in favor of the Arab population. In a region that is unable to resolve the question of Kirkuk and whether it is Arab, Kurd or Turkish, the question of the return of Palestinians to the territories of 1948 is closer to being a matter of innocence possessed by a lot of devilry that rejects any kind of peace and does not want to see any end to the suffering of the Palestinian people.” — Hazem Saghieh in an opinion article translated from the original Arabic on the Egyptian online news site Dar al-Hayat. (Dar-al-Hayat,  November 6, 2012)

 

"We told Bashar [al-Assad] he needed to find a political solution to the crisis. We said, 'These are our people that we are killing.' We suggested that we work with Friends of Syria group, but he categorically refused to stop the operations or to negotiate. He is trying to replicate his father's fight in the 1980s." — Riyad Hijab, former Prime Minister of Syria who fled to Jordan in August of this year.  "Bashar used to be scared of the international community – he was really worried that they would impose a no-fly zone over Syria," he said. "But then he tested the waters, and pushed and pushed and nothing happened. Now he can run air strikes and drop cluster bombs on his own population." (The Telegraph, Nov4, 2012)

 

“Anything, anything to get that man out of the country and to have a safe transition in Syria. Of course, I would favour him facing the full force of international law and justice for what he's done. I am certainly not offering him an exit plan to Britain but if wants to leave, he could leave, that could be arranged.“ —British Prime Minister David Cameron, in an interview with al-Arabia while on an official visit to Abu Dhabi, floating the idea of offering Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad immunity from prosecution as a way of persuading him to leave power.

 

(Top of Page)

 

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OBAMA WINS A SECOND TERM (Washington) President Barack Obama narrowly won re-election, overcoming public doubts about his performance on the economy. Obama won 60,297,130 votes or 50.4% of the popular vote to Romney’s 57,527,755 votes or 48.1% of the popular vote. This translated into 303 Electoral College votes for Obama to 206 Electoral College (EC) votes for Romney out of a total of 538 EC votes available. 270 EC votes were required to win the presidency.  Florida, with 29 EC votes, has not yet been declared at this writing. For Mr. Obama, the victory sets up a test of whether he can forge a productive second term in a still deeply divided political system. The Democrats have retained their majority in the Senate while Republicans maintain their stranglehold on the House of Representatives, at least for the next two years until the next Congressional elections in 2014. (Wall Street Journal, November 7, 2012)

 

ELECTION FAILS TO END DEBATE OVER OBAMA’S SHARE OF JEWISH VOTE —(Washington)  Expect four more years of tussling between Jewish Republicans and Democrats about the meaning of Obama’s dip from 78 percent Jewish support in 2008 exit polls to 69% this year in the national exit polls run by a media consortium. Is it a result of Obama’s fractious relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? Or is it a natural fall-off in an election that was closer across the board than it was four years ago? Does it reflect a significant shift in Jewish voting patterns toward the Republicans? A separate national exit poll released Wednesday by Jim Gerstein, a pollster affiliated with the dovish Israel policy group J Street, had similar numbers: 70 percent of respondents said they voted for Obama, while 30 percent…said they voted Republican…Matt Brooks, who directs the Republican Jewish Coalition, said the $6.5 million spent by his group and the $1.5 million doled out by an affiliated political action committee to woo Jewish voters was “well worth it.” “We’ve increased our share of the Jewish vote by almost 50 percent,” he said, noting that Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee, won 22 percent in exit polls to Romney’s 30 percent. “What yichus is there in the possibility of having picked up a handful of Jewish votes having spent so many millions of dollars?” [Steve] Rabinowitz, a consultant to Jewish and Democratic groups, asked, using the Yiddish word connoting status. (Times of Israel, November 7, 2012)

 

PA STATEHOOD BID A 'POLITICAL SUICIDE' (Herzliya) According to Middle East expert Dr. Guy Bechor, the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral [statehood] bid to the United Nations is a political suicide.  Dr. Bechor noted that the United States has warned Abbas that going ahead with the unilateral initiative would result in the closing of the PLO office in the U.S., the end of American funding to the PA and that he will be considered persona non grata in the U.S. Abbas has also been warned of harsh Israeli measures as a result of the UN bid, such as curbing the flow of funds to the PA, a move which would mean the end of the PA financially.  [T]he U.S. informed the United Nations that there is a law that prohibits the U.S. from funding international organizations which recognize a Palestinian state, and that if the UN recognizes ‘Palestine’ it will no longer receive funds from the U.S., similar to what happened when UNESCO recognized ‘Palestine’. “It is well known that the Palestinians commit suicide every few years, but this time they can take the United Nations with them," he said. (Israel National News, November 7, 2012)

 

3 SYRIAN TANKS CROSS INTO GOLAN DEMILITARIZED ZONE, ISRAEL RAISES ALERT (Tel Aviv) The Israeli army, which has been braced for Syrian fighting spilling into Israel, reports the incident to UN peacekeepers. The Israel Defense Forces raised its alert level in the Northern Command area, and a military spokeswoman said Israel complained to the U.N. peacekeeping force in the area after the tanks entered. The incident — the first such violation in 40 years — was not regarded as an incident of hostility toward Israel. Rather, the Syrian tanks were apparently facing off against Syrian rebel forces. Nonetheless, Syrian-Israeli relations are relentlessly fraught, and any border incident raises tensions.(Times of Israel, November 3, 2012)

MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD MEETS WITH JEWISH BILLIONAIRE, ARABS UPSET
(Cairo)Al Masry al Youm reports that U.S. billionaire David Bonderman left Cairo on Tuesday after a one-day visit to Egypt where he met Khairat El-Shater, the deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Sources said that Bonder was seeking investment opportunities in Egypt. AlArab Online, a London-based pan-Arab newspaper, says that the Muslim Brotherhood "revealed its true face" by meeting with a Jewish businessman. It raised questions about why Shater, who is not a member of the government, would be meeting with Bonderman, ranked #683 in Forbes list of billionaires. It accuses him of supporting Israel (I didn't see any particularly Zionist ties) and said that this shows that the Brotherhood will do anything to stay in power, even reaching out to "Israel." (Elder of Ziyon, November 7, 2012)

 

AFTER NEARLY 25 YEARS OF SECRECY, ISRAEL ADMITS TO KILLING ARAFAT DEPUTY(Jerusalem) Lifting a nearly 25-year veil of secrecy, Israel is admitting that it killed the deputy of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in a 1988 raid in Tunis. Israel has long been suspected of assassinating Khalil al-Wazir, who was better known by his nom de guerre Abu Jihad. But only Thursday did the country’s military censor clear the Yediot Ahronot daily to publish the information, including an interview with the commando who killed him. Dozens of brazen operations have been attributed to Israel over the decades. But Israel rarely takes responsibility. The acknowledgement gives a rare glimpse into the country’s covert operations. Abu Jihad founded the Palestinian Liberation Organization with Mr. Arafat and was blamed for a series of attacks against Israelis. (Globe and Mail), Nov. 1 2012)

 

YES, ANTI-SEMITISM IS STILL A PROBLEM ON CAMPUS — (Washington) Mitchell Bard and Jeff Dawson’s new study, “Israel and the Campus: The Real Story,” led many newspapers to trumpet that anti-Semitism is not a problem on American campuses. They pointed to the study’s finding that significant anti-Israel incidents occurred at only about three percent of schools, with most occurring in only a handful of colleges. But the headlines got the wrong take-away message from the study… Nearly half of the students interviewed for the study – 43% – reported that anti-Semitism is a problem at their schools. The authors acknowledge this is a “shockingly high” level. Nor should we take comfort from the finding that anti-Israel events occurred at “only” 108 out of 4,000 schools, and that one-third occurred at only 10 schools. These were not obscure schools. The list included some of the largest, most prestigious and influential schools in the country: Harvard, Columbia, four University of California campuses including UCLA, and the University of Maryland. Fortunately, not all schools are a problem, but the challenge is serious and should not be minimized. (Jerusalem Post, November 6, 2012)

 

CONDEMNING ISRAEL’S DEMOCRACY WHILE SERVING IN KNESSET (Jerusalem)  Contrary to the illiberal politics in most of the Arab Middle East, democracy in Israel is thriving, and Jamal Zahalka is certainly using it to full advantage. Jamal Zahalka is an Arab citizen of Israel, an Israeli MK, and the leader of the Balad Party (National Democratic Assembly) a political party which opposes his state’s existence. He has received a BA, MA and PhD at Hebrew University. In April of 2006, after a Palestinian suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, during Passover, killed nine Israelis and wounded more than sixty, Zahalka met, not with families of the victims, but with top Hamas members, in a show of solidarity. He and three of his colleagues visited Syria and Lebanon in September 2006, after the 2nd Lebanon War in a show of solidarity with Hezbollah. In 2009, Zahalka attended a pro-Hamas rally near the Gaza border, on the one-year anniversary of Cast Lead, and accused Defense Minister Ehud Barak of enjoying “…killing children in Gaza.”  In 2009, the Israeli Central Elections Committee accused the party which Zahalka belongs to of incitement, supporting terrorist groups and refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist. [On] Nov.  4, Zahalka penned an essay at ‘Comment is Free’, calling for sanctions against Israel, which he characterized as a “racist”, “extremist” state that is suffering form an erosion in democracy. (Jewish Press,  November 6th, 2012)

 

ARABS SENDING CHILDREN TO PROVOKE ISRAELI SOLDIERS (Nabi Salih, West Bank) A video shot at a Friday protest in the village of Nabi Salih, in the central West Bank, captured an  image of a young Palestinian girl attempting to provoke Israeli soldiers. Soon thereafter the girl is joined by many other seemingly young-looking people from the village. A senior IDF source told Ynet News that intelligence indicates that pro-Palestinian activists pay Palestinian children from Nabi Salih and other nearby villages to confront the soldiers. “The soldiers are briefed on the fact that these protests are staged for the sake of provocation, so that they could be filmed acting violently and so that those videos could be distributed worldwide in an effort to harm the IDF’s image,” the officer said. (Algemeiner, November 5, 2012)

 

 

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The Elections, Gridlock and Foreign Policy: George Friedman, Real Clear World, November 7, 2012
Obama does not have enough congressional support for dramatic new initiatives, and getting appointments through the Senate that Republicans oppose will be difficult.

 

Foreign Policy: Obama Facing Iran DilemmaTim Marshall, Sky News, November 7, 2012
The biggest foreign policy issue facing newly re-elected President Barack Obama is the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran. It is a scenario that will take up a lot of the president's thinking, and one which has consequences that might even keep 'No drama Obama' awake at night.

 

Startling puzzle of O’s second chance:  Michael Goodwin, New York Post, November 7, 2012
His first four years were mostly a bust, he offered no promises or agenda for the second four—and Barack Obama won anyway.Go figure. I’ll always be proud of my country, but Obama’s victory defies political logic and economic reality. It was a stunning personal triumph for a president who was ripe for a downfall.

 

 

 

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