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: REPORTING FROM IRAN, JEWISH PAPER SEES NO PLOT TO DESTROY ISRAEL (Teheran) — The first journalist from an American Jewish pro-Israel publication to be given an Iranian visa since 1979 reported Wednesday that he had found little evidence to suggest that Iran wanted to destroy Israel, as widely asserted by critics of the Iranian nuclear agreement. The journalist, Larry Cohler-Esses, assistant managing editor for news at The Forward, an influential New York-based newspaper catering to American Jews, also wrote that people in Iran, including its Jews, were eager for outside interaction and willing to speak critically about their government. “Though I had to work with a government fixer and translator, I decided which people I wanted to interview and what I would ask them…Far from the stereotype of a fascist Islamic state, I found a dynamic push-and-pull between a theocratic government and its often reluctant and resisting people.” — Cohler-Esses, in the first of at least two articles from his July reporting trip. (New York Times, Aug. 12, 2015)

 

On Topic Links  

 

Schumer’s Iran Dissent: Wall Street Journal, Aug. 7, 2015

Obama Ups the Drama on Iranian Nuclear Deal: Konrad Yakabuski, Globe & Mail, Aug. 9, 2015

Iran Deal Seems to Get Worse Every Week: National Post, Aug. 8, 2015

All the President’s Certitudes: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 10, 2015

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“There’s going to have to be a transition inside of Iran, even if gradual, in which there’s a recognition that chanting “death to America” or denying the Holocaust among its leaders or threatening Israel with destruction or, you know, providing arms to Hezbollah, which is on the terrorist list – that those things make Iran a pariah in the eyes of a large part of the world.” — U.S. President Barack Obama. Obama pledged his commitment to Israel’s security despite his rift with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Iran as he answered a question from a Tel Aviv resident during an interview on Monday. “I don’t oppose the Israeli prime minister across the board,” Obama said. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 11, 2015)

 

“To me, the very real risk that Iran will not moderate and will, instead, use the agreement to pursue its nefarious goals is too great,” — New York (D) Senator Chuck Schumer said last week in announcing he would vote against the deal. As it stands, the Republican-controlled Senate is expected to pass a resolution in September rejecting the agreement, and preventing Obama from lifting sanctions on Iran. Obama has vowed to veto that resolution. But for his veto to stand, he needs to rally at least one-third support in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Right now, that vote is too close to call. And even if his veto were to stand, it might be a Pyrrhic victory.  (Globe & Mail, Aug. 9, 2015)

 

“I don’t think there’s any way to see this decision as having been motivated by anything except principle, because it is so costly for [Schumer]. It has enraged powerful elements of his own party’s base at a time when he is gearing up to try to succeed Harry Reid as the next Democratic leader in the Senate. That is the job he has wanted all his life, and this decision will make it harder for him… And the alluring argument that he might have made the decision with the winking approval of a White House certain it will prevail on the Iran vote doesn’t hold up on second glance. Barack Obama certainly isn’t conducting himself like someone who thinks he’s got it in the bag. If he did, he wouldn’t have given a slanderous speech on Wednesday saying the Republicans who oppose it are making “common cause” with Iranian hardliners. In fact, one can read that speech as a direct warning to Schumer and other Democrats that their deviation from the deal would bring down his wrath upon them.” — John Podhoretz (New York Post, Aug. 8, 2015)

 

“Anti-Semitism is all over the drive to make Chuck Schumer shut up about his opposition to the Iran nuke deal. The lefty site Daily Kos posted a cartoon showing Schumer with an Israeli flag and calling him a “traitor.” MoveOn argues that “our country doesn’t need another Joe Lieberman in the Senate,” a reference to Connecticut’s ex-senator — who, like Schumer, is Jewish…Of course, Obama himself griped about pressure from “lobbyists” — i.e., Jewish and pro-Israel activists — spending “tens of million of dollars” to stop the deal. He reportedly blamed “the pro-Israel community” for stirring up a fight. The dual-loyalty smear popped up even before Schumer came out against the deal. A New York Times editorial, for one, talked of the “unseemly spectacle of lawmakers siding with a foreign leader” — Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu — against Obama. In fact, it’s Obama who’s siding with foreign leaders: Iran’s. At least Israel’s an ally.” — Editorial (New York Post, Aug. 10, 2015)

 

"If we turn around and nix the deal and then tell them, you're going to have to obey our rules and sanctions anyway, that is a recipe, very quickly …. for the American dollar to cease to be the reserve currency of the world," — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry suggested that if the U.S. torpedoes the agreement and then demands other Western powers comply with economic sanctions against Iran, the dollar could soon lose its status as the world’s reserve currency. Critics were quick to throw water on that argument, saying it was an exaggeration on Kerry’s part and likely driven by the intense politics surrounding the Iran deal. CNN fact-check called the Obama/Kerry dollar risk an outright exaggeration. (Yahoo, Aug. 12, 2015)

 

"I am confident we're gonna get to 60 [senators who will vote against the deal]. The key will be the override of the presidential veto…That's where we gotta get 13 Democrats." — Republican Senator John McCain. With just over a month remaining before Congress votes on the Iran nuclear deal, Republicans believed a decisive majority of senators will oppose it. McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, acknowledged, however, that getting a presidential veto-proof two-thirds majority (67 senators) against the deal might be more difficult. (Israel Hayom, Aug. 12, 2015)

 

“The burden of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon must not be passed on to our children and grandchildren.” — American Jewish Congress (AJC) President Jack Rosen. The AJC, a centrist American Jewish organization, concluded that it could not support the nuclear agreement with Iran. The AJC statement explains, “the U.S. is willing to say to children in elementary school today that by the time they reach college, they may be living in a world where the regime of the Ayatollahs, which continues to denounce the United States as its mortal enemy, may well be a nuclear country.” (Jewish Press, Aug. 7, 2015)

 

“On Day One in the Oval Office, I would make two phone calls…The first one would be to my good friend, Bibi Netanyahu, to reassure him we will stand with…Israel. The second will be to the supreme leader of Iran. He might not take my phone call, but he would get the message, and the message is this: Until you open every nuclear and every military facility to full, open, anytime, anywhere, for-real inspections, we are going to make it as difficult as possible for you to move money around the global financial system.” —Carly Fiorina, who announced her candidacy for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election. (New York Post, Aug. 9, 2015)

 

“Dozens of Palestinians passed right next to us…They began to take out their cell phones and snap photos…They were smiling and proud, and happy…They stood right there, next to the [terrorist’s] car, and snapped selfies of themselves… We didn’t say anything to them but one of the IDF officers there warned them to move back. They didn’t go far enough, though, and they kept on taking pictures – you could just see the happiness in their eyes..It was as if I had gone to the house [of the Palestinian Arab victims] in Duma, and were to snap a photo and send it to my friends.” — a Jewish driver. Palestinian Authority Arab youths were seen this weekend taking “selfies” at the site of a terrorist attack that targeted Israelis. The overturned car which had struck three IDF soldiers in a vehicle terror attack – gravely wounding two of them – was moved to the side of the road in order not to block traffic. Eyewitnesses in the area told Israeli television they saw dozens of curious local Arabs flocking to the site to pose for selfies. (Jewish Press, Aug. 9, 2015)

 

“This hadith is very strange, and we should reexamine it, because it leads Islam to disaster. It says: ‘Judgment Day will not come before the Muslims fight the Jews, and then the rocks and the trees will say: Oh Muslim, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,’” — Imam Tareq Yousef al-Masri, from the Oulel-Albab mosque in Brooklyn. The hadith – an Islamic tradition attributed to Muhammad – is well known and also appears in the Hamas covenant published in 1988. Masri questions the validity of the hadith and its chain of transmission from the prophet. He argued, “We have no religious dispute with anyone…And among the people of Moses is a community which guides by truth and by it establishes justice” In a previous sermon reported by MEMRI at the Brooklyn mosque, the reformist minded cleric in January referred to the Paris terrorist attacks that month saying, “Let us admit, without lying to ourselves, that we, the Muslims, are time bombs.” (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 9, 2015)

 

“Who can seriously argue that America and our friends are safer today than in 2009, when the president and Secretary Clinton — the storied ‘team of rivals’ — took office?…So eager to be the history-makers, they failed to be the peacemakers.” — Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush. In the first major foreign policy speech of his White House bid, Bush sharply criticized Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state and accused the Democratic front-runner and President Barack Obama of allowing the militant group to take hold in the Middle East. “ISIL grew while the United States disengaged from the Middle East and ignored the threat…And where was Secretary of State Clinton in all of this?” Answering his own question, he said Clinton “stood by as that hard-won victory by American and allied forces was thrown away. In all her record-setting travels, she stopped by Iraq exactly once.” (National Post, Aug. 12, 2015)

 

Contents

SHORT TAKES

 

NO SNAPBACK OF SANCTIONS IF IRAN BREAKS ARMS EMBARGO (Washington) — Violations by Iran of the arms embargo on it or of the restrictions on its missile program would not force an automatic reinstatement or "snapback" of United Nations sanctions under the terms of the nuclear deal reached between Iran and world powers last month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday. However, he said other options would be available. "The arms embargo is not tied to snapback," Kerry said. "It is tied to a separate set of obligations. So they are not in material breach of the nuclear agreement for violating the arms piece of it." (Israel Hayom, Aug. 12, 2015)  

 

ATTACKS ACROSS TURKEY KILL SIX (Istanbul) —  A spate of attacks across Turkey that targeted security forces and a U.S. consulate killed six people. A recent surge in violence in Turkey has largely been blamed on the conflict with Kurdish PKK, not Islamic State (I.S.). Turkey accused Kurdish separatists of all of the fatal attacks Monday on security forces. The assault on the consulate in Istanbul, which left no casualties, was blamed on an outlawed Marxist group. Turkey is now battling a mix of the PKK, Marxist militants and I.S. while dealing with a huge influx of Syrian refugees and foreign fighters transiting its territory on the way to Syria. (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 10, 2015)

 

29 ARE KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN AS BOMBING TARGETS MILITIA (Kabul) — At least 29 people were killed and 19 others wounded in a suicide bombing targeting a militia in the northern province of Kunduz. The deadly attack Saturday came a day after a wave of bombings rocked the Afghan capital, killing at least 65 people and wounding hundreds of others. The attacks are being seen as a sign that Taliban forces are escalating violence after a brief lull attributed to internal divisions that followed the confirmation of the death of the group’s longtime leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, at the end of July. (New York Times, Aug. 9, 2015)

 

IRAQI PREMIER PROPOSES IRAQI GOVERNMENT OVERHAUL (Baghdad) — Facing widespread protests against government corruption and poor services, as well as a crucial call for change from the country’s top Shiite cleric, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proposed on Sunday to radically reshape the dysfunctional political system of Iraq that has been entrenched since the American-led invasion in 2003. The proposals, which came as the war against I.S. has stalled in western Anbar Province, are wide-ranging and include a new corruption inquiry and the elimination of what has been a hallmark of the American-imposed system: sectarian and party quotas in the appointment of top officials. (New York Times, Aug. 9, 2015)

 

SAUDI MOSQUE BOMBING KILLS MORE THAN A DOZEN (Riyadh) — A new group claiming allegiance to I.S. took responsibility for a suicide bombing at a security-force base in Saudi Arabia on Thursday that killed 15 people and wounded at least seven, the latest attack on the kingdom’s mosques despite a recent crackdown on extremists. The attack was claimed by the so-called Al-Hijaz Province, a new group allegedly connected to I.S. The attack follows a series of such blasts in the kingdom in recent months, some of which been claimed by I.S. In July, one man was killed and two security officers were injured in a suicide car bombing in the capital Riyadh. Other attacks in recent months have specifically targeted mosques for the Muslim Shiite minority. (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 6, 2015)

 

I.S. AFFILIATE IN EGYPT CLAIMS BEHEADING OF FOREIGN HOSTAGE (Cairo) — An I.S. affiliate in Egypt claimed Wednesday to have beheaded a Croatian national held hostage for weeks in what would be the group’s first slaying of a foreign captive. If confirmed, the killing would mark a fresh challenge to Egypt’s economy and the country’s effort to stem a rising Islamist insurgency after attacks that have targeted major tourist sites and military outposts. The Croatian hostage, Tomislav Salopek, worked for a French geoscience company in Egypt, which depends of many foreign firms for construction and other major projects. Croatia has not contributed forces to operations against I.S., but the U.S. has said Croatia provided unspecified military supplies. (Washington Post, Aug. 12, 2015)

 

I.S. SEIZES SYRIAN CHRISTIANS (Homs) — I.S. is holding dozens of Christians in the southeastern Syrian province of Homs, after it captured the town of Qaryatain in its efforts to establish a stronghold outside the major city of Homs. The seizing of Christians came as I.S. entered the town on Wednesday, after attacking Syrian-regime checkpoints by detonating three suicide bombs, according to I.S. media. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 230 people were kidnapped, among them 60 Christians. The town is made up mostly of Sunni Muslims, with a small Christian minority. (Fox News, Aug. 8, 2015)

 

I.S. CALLS FOR JIHAD IN GERMANY, TARGETS MERKEL (Berlin) — In their latest execution video I.S. for the first time turned their attention to Germany, threatening the country in its own language before apparently murdering two men believed to be Syrian regime soldiers. "Slaughter each infidel," in their homes, "everywhere," the gunmen demand, before focusing personally on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and threatening to avenge "the blood of Muslims…spilled in Afghanistan.” According to Germany's Interior Minister some 650 Germans have left the country to join I.S. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 7, 2015)

 

LEBANESE-SWEDISH 'HEZBOLLAH SPY' ARRESTED AT BEN-GURION AIRPORT (Tel Aviv) — Security forces arrested a Swedish-Lebanese suspect at Ben-Gurion Airport on July 21 on suspicion of landing in Israel to gather intelligence on sensitive targets on behalf of Hezbollah, the Shin Bet announced on Sunday. The suspect, Hassan Khalil Hizran was taken into custody after the Shin Bet received prior intelligence about him, suggesting he has ties to Hezbollah. “During questioning by the Shin Bet, Hizran confessed,” the agency said, adding that the suspect provided an account of how he was recruited by the Hezbollah and subsequent cooperation with the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist organization. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 9, 2015)

 

'ISRAEL STILL TOP PRIORITY FOR HEZBOLLAH' (Beirut) — A Lebanese newspaper close to Hezbollah said on Monday that “Israeli is still at the top of the party’s priorities” despite the war in Syria. This came within the context of the arrest by Israel last month of a Swedish Palestinian charged for spying for the terrorist group. Hezbollah continues its engagement “against the enemy,” some of which is offensive in nature and some defensive, reported Al-Akhbar. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 10, 2015)

 

CLINTON TO TURN OVER PRIVATE EMAIL SERVER TO JUSTICE DEPARTMENT (Washington) — Hillary Clinton is turning over to federal authorities the private computer server she used to handle her emails when she served as secretary of state, an unexpected move and an attempt to quash concerns that her unorthodox approach included insufficient safeguards to protect government secrets. Clinton’s decision to relinquish her computer server is a surprise twist in a controversy that has shadowed her presidential bid. For months she has rebuffed congressional Republican leaders who have called on her to turn over the server to a neutral third party to verify her assertion that she had given the State Department all her work emails. (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 11, 2015)

 

LITHUANIA SPORTS COMPLEX PLANNED OVER JEWISH GRAVEYARD (Vilnius) —In a statement Rabbi Chaim Burshtein reiterated his fierce opposition to a government-backed plan to erect a congress and convention center complex on the site of Vilnius, Lithuania’s old Jewish cemetery. The new complex would replace a sports center erected over the graves during the Soviet period. Among those buried at the Šnipiškės cemetery are “many of the greatest of our nation: rabbis, dayanim [religious court judges], teachers, authors of books of rabbinical thought and Jewish learning” in whose merit Vilnius became “the capital of the Jewish world for many generations,” the rabbi wrote. Last week Burshtein, who is not a Lithuanian citizen, accused the government of threatening to deport him because of his views on the graveyard. The government denied such claims. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 11, 2015)

 

EX-ITALIAN LAWMAKER APPOINTED ISRAEL’S ENVOY TO ROME (Jerusalem) —Prime Minister Netanyahu appointed Fiamma Nirenstein, a former Italian lawmaker and journalist, as Israel’s ambassador to Italy. Born in Florence, Nirenstein was elected to the Italian parliament in 2008 as a member of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s party. She served as deputy chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, was a major supporter of Israel, and headed a committee to investigate anti-Semitism. Nirenstein immigrated to Israel in 2013. Her appointment came a month after Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi paid a state visit to Israel, in a move indicative of increasingly close ties between Rome and Jerusalem. He told the Knesset he plans to call on the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the Jewish state. (Times of Israel, Aug. 10, 2015)

 

NDP CANDIDATE RESIGNS OVER ISRAEL COMMENTS (Ottawa) — An NDP candidate in Nova Scotia who suddenly resigned from the federal election campaign says he is the victim of a "shameful and dishonest" smear campaign. Morgan Wheeldon was the NDP's official candidate in Kings-Hants before resigning after controversial comments he allegedly made about the Middle East on Facebook appeared as a screen grab being circulated by the Conservative Party. He confirmed the resignation on Monday morning. Wheeldon is accused of saying Israel intended to "ethnically cleanse the region" in a Facebook post in August 2014. The original post has since been deleted. (CBC, Aug. 10, 2015)

 

OTTAWA'S NATIONAL HOLOCAUST MONUMENT A YEAR BEHIND SCHEDULE (Ottawa) — The National Holocaust Monument, one of the government's signature new memorials in Ottawa, is behind schedule and now won't officially open until 2017 – a year later than planned. The monument, to be built opposite the Canadian War Museum, will be the largest and most complex monument created in the capital since the National War Memorial in 1939. The original timetable called for construction to start last March, with completion in December and an inauguration ceremony May 4, 2016, on Yom HaShoah, the Jewish Holocaust Memorial Day. The monument is now scheduled to be unveiled on Yom HaShoah in 2017, which falls on April 24. (Ottawa Citizen, Aug. 10, 2015)

 

ARGENTINE EX-PRESIDENT, 12 OTHERS ON TRIAL FOR ALLEGED COVERUP (Buenos Aires) — More than 21 years after a bomb ripped through a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires, ex-President Carlos Menem, a former top judge and several other officials went on trial Thursday for allegedly derailing the investigation into Argentina’s worst terrorist attack. Prosecutors have accused Iranian officials of being behind the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association, which caused the organization’s main building to collapse, killing 85 and leaving hundreds more injured amid the rubble. The trial comes at a time when the bombing is very much in the public eye after the mysterious death in January of prosecutor Alberto Nisman. In 2004, Nisman was appointed lead prosecutor in the case by then President Nestor Kirchner, who called the investigation up to that point a “national disgrace.” (National Post, Aug. 6, 2015)

 

 

On Topic Links 

 

Schumer’s Iran Dissent: Wall Street Journal, Aug. 7, 2015 —Chuck Schumer’s decision to oppose President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal may not defeat the accord, but it certainly does showcase its flagging political support.

Obama Ups the Drama on Iranian Nuclear Deal: Konrad Yakabuski, Globe & Mail, Aug. 9, 2015 —U.S. President Barack Obama has taken to displaying flashes of emotion and candour that have many people doing double takes. During his first six years in office, “No-drama Obama” became known for his dispassion and restraint. Suddenly, he’s breathing fire without regard for whom he burns.

Iran Deal Seems to Get Worse Every Week: National Post, Aug. 8, 2015—If the West needed further proof that the nuclear deal signed last month by the P5+1 countries and Iran is a bad one, they got plenty of it this week.

All the President’s Certitudes: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 10, 2015 —In a withering 1957 review of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” for National Review, Whittaker Chambers wrote that he could “recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained.”

 

 

Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

 

ContentsIsraeli Election Results  |  Weekly Quotes |  Short Takes

 

Six Unexpected Lessons the Election Taught Us About Israelis: Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz, Jan.23, 2013

 

On Topic Links

 

Why Netanyahu Failed and Lapid Surprised: Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz, Jan.23, 2013
Analysis: The Writing for Likud Was on The Street: Ben Hartman, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 23, 2013
The Neo-Ottoman Military Band: Burak Bekdil, Hurriyet Daily News, Jan 23, 2013

 

 

 

 

(Source: Ynet News)

 

Israeli Election Results

 

Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu (Benjamin Netanyahu): 31
Yesh Atid (Yair Lapid): 19
Labor (Shelly Yacimovich): 15
Shas (Haredi Sephardi): 11
Habayit Hayehudi (Naftali Bennett): 11
United Torah Judaism (Haredi Ashkenazi): 7

Hatnua (Tzipi Livni): 6
Meretz (Zahava Gal-On): 6
United Arab List-Taal: 5
Hadash
(Arab): 4
Balad (Arab): 3
Kadima (Shaul Mofaz): 2

 

 

SIX UNEXPECTED LESSONS THE
ELECTION TAUGHT US ABOUT ISRAELIS

Anshel Pfeffer

Ha’aretz, Jan.23, 2013

                       

Just have a look back at the headlines that appeared during this election campaign, especially those that appeared in the international media. They all dealt with Israel's lurch to the right, the rise of the ultra-nationalists, the increasing strength of the religious and deepening weakness of Israel's left. This morning [Jan. 23] it is already clear that a seriously weakened Benjamin Netanyahu cannot possibly form a right-wing-religious coalition, as the centrist bloc of parties – Yesh Atid, Labor, Hatnuah and Kadima – is of equal strength to Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu and Habayit Hayehudi's bloc. The ultra-Orthodox parties have not grown while the only openly left-wing Zionist party, Meretz, has doubled in size.

 

This can't be labeled as a victory for the center-left by any stretch of the imagination. Netanyahu is still the only party leader positioned to form a coalition and the fact that there are five different parties with different agendas in the center-left – as well as five inflated egos at their helm – does not bode well for bona-fide cooperation and coordination within the camp. However, the 2013 election taught us a few important lessons about Israelis that seem to fly in the face of what has become almost received wisdom.

 

1. Middle ground majority – Of the four electoral blocs – right-wing, ultra-Orthodox, center-left and Israeli Arab, the center-left is by far the largest. The two main parties of the right, Likud-Beiteinu and Habayit Hayehudi, also tried to portray themselves as catering to the middle class and succeeded in attracting at least part of those votes. This confirms the belief that despite all the demographic changes, Israelis are still essentially middle-ground and middle-class creatures.

 

2. Religious politics is out – Shas more or less held on. UTJ may have gained another seat but the soldiers' votes – due on Thursday – will probably cut them back to size. Habayit Hayehudi grew from seven seats (after its merger with the National Union) to 11, which is impressive but altogether means that less than a quarter of Israelis voted for (Jewish) religious parties. This is far less impressive, given that Habayit Hayehudi made a conscious appeal to secular voters. Israelis still overwhelmingly prefer parties that transcend religious divides (at least between Jews. The divide between Jews and Arabs is alive and well).

 

3. Willingness to give opportunities to newcomers – Yair Lapid is not alone. Together with him an unprecedented 50 first-time MKs are set to be sworn in. Over a quarter of Israelis gave their votes to Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi, parties led by political rookies and consisting largely of fresh candidates (all of Yesh Atid's and eight of Habayit's 11 MKs are newcomers). Most of Labor's MKs are also new, and the party leader has no ministerial experience. On the other hand, Hatnuah, a party of political veterans, Likud-Beiteinu which presented the same faces and Shas, which brought back Aryeh Deri from political exile, failed to take off.

 

4. Pluralism sells, tribalism denounced – The parties that did well in these elections are those that tried to present a diverse list of candidates, religious and secular, Ashkenazi and Mizrahi, new immigrants and residents of the peripheral areas. Sometimes these efforts were transparent and the results not always particularly representative but they were noted. Meretz, Yesh Atid, Labor, Habayit Hayehudi, Hatnuah, all made gains with lists including different strands of Israeli society (though only Meretz is sending a non-Jewish MK to the next Knesset).

 

5. Policy still matters – Likud-Beiteinu ran without providing the voters with any platform or policy details. Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi, for their part, both published detailed manifestos. Likud won't be making that mistake again. Apparently, Israelis want to be taken seriously.

 

6. One-trick ponies bound to fail – Shelly Yacimovich failed to sell herself to Israelis with a campaign based solely on economic issues. Tzipi Livni did even worse by focusing only on the peace process. Netanyahu tried to convince Israelis that they needed a strong leader against Israel's enemies and a mere quarter of them bought it. Israelis have a long list of pressing issues and expect all of them to be addressed.

 

 

 

 

Weekly Quotes

 

 

“We have the opportunity to do great things together.”—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a phone call to Yair Lapid , leader of Yesh Atid, upon receiving word that Yesh Atid  would constitute the second largest party after Netanyahu’s Likud-Beiteinu party in the Knesset. (National Post, Jan 23, 2013)

 

"I do not think that the Arabs want peace. What I want is not a new Middle East, but to be rid of them and put a tall fence between us and them." The important thing is "to maintain a Jewish majority in the Land of Israel. The Palestinians must be brought to an understanding that Jerusalem will always remain under Israeli sovereignty and that there is no point for them in opening negotiations about Jerusalem. We have no existence without Jerusalem. The Tower of David is important for Israel's heritage and existence, because it is more than a tower, it is a symbol. It is more important than the Azrieli Towers [in Tel Aviv]."—Yair Lapid, on his Facebook page, prior to winning 19 seats in the Knesset as leader of Yesh Atid. (Israel National News, Jan. 20, 2013)

 

“I think that Yair Lapid, who spoke so much about the middle class and the socio-economic protests, is the natural one to focus on internal issues and maybe take the Finance Ministry. What’s clear is that the nation is asking for a dramatic change in everything related to the internal system more than anything else. I have no doubt that the Haredi parties understand that it’s impossible to continue this way as if nothing has happened, and they also need to be flexible.”—Avigdor Lieberman, former Israeli Foreign Minister, commenting on the election results. (Times of Israel, Jan. 23, 2013)

 

“Holocaust memorialisation is a massive undertaking, not least in a time when Holocaust survivors are becoming fewer and anti-Semitism and intolerance is rising. Furthermore, with the political gains of the far-right and neo-Nazi parties in European parliaments, the fact that this event is warmly embraced by the most prominent European institutions sends a strong message against hate, racism and anti-Semitism. I am delighted that, with our partners in the European Parliament, we have managed to place such an important event on the official EU calendar.”—Dr. Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress on the occasion of the first annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day Event in Brussels held by the European Parliament in conjunction with the European Jewish Congress.

   “I am deeply touched that we are commemorating the International Holocaust Remembrance Day in the European Parliament once more, a location that is highly symbolic of peace and reconciliation between former arch-enemies. It is an honor for the institution that I lead to mark this day in such a dignified manner. The Holocaust must always be fresh in our minds and souls, in the conscience of humanity, and should serve as an incontrovertible warning for all time: Never again!”—European Parliament President Martin Schulz. (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 22, 2013)

 

"The issue of Palestinian refugees and the right of return are final status issues, and one may not act against international resolutions providing for their return to their homeland and their homes, which they fled, in particular resolution 194, which provides for the right of return of Palestinian refugees." —Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, explaining why  he [Abbas] "categorically." rejected Israel's condition to allow up to 150,000 Syrian Palestinians to the relative safety of the PA if the immigrants would sign that they are giving up their claim to move to Israel itself. (Elder of Zyon, Jan. 22, 2013)

 

“Development in the Arab region has also been held back by protracted conflict, injustice and occupation. The stalemate in the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis is especially troubling. We must renew our collective engagement to resume meaningful negotiations that will realize Palestinian aspirations to live in freedom and dignity in an independent state of their own, side by side with Israel in peace and security.”—UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement to the Third Arab Economic and Social Development Summit, currently taking place in Saudi Arabia. “We know that there is conflict between us and the Palestinians, but attempts to elevate that to the core issue of the Middle East are doing a disservice to everybody.”—Paul Hirschson, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, rejecting any connection between Israeli policies and the situation in the Arab world. (Times of Israel, Jan. 21, 2013)

 

“Those who believe that there is a terrorist, extremist Al Qaeda problem in parts of North Africa, but that it is a problem for those places and we can somehow back off and ignore it, are profoundly wrong. What we know is that the terrorist threat in the Sahel comes from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which aspires to establish Islamic law across the Sahel and northern Africa, and to attack Western interests in the region and frankly, wherever it can. Just as we have reduced the scale of the al-Qaeda threat in other parts of the world, including in Pakistan and Afghanistan, so it has grown in other parts of the world. We need to be equally concerned about that, and equally focused on it.”—British Prime Minister David Cameron, in an address to the British Parliament, in response to the recent hostage taking in Algeria and French intervention against al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in Mali. (New York Times, Jan. 19, 2013)

 

“Their attitude was, [Algeria’s] ‘Please don’t intervene in Libya or you will create another Iraq on our border.’ And then, ‘Please don’t intervene in Mali or you will create a mess on our other border.’”—Geoff D. Porter, an Algeria expert and founder of North Africa Risk Consulting, which advises investors in the region. But they were dismissed as nervous Nellies, and now Algeria says to the West: “‘Goddamn it, we told you so.’” (New York Times, Jan 20, 2013)

 

“The French aren’t alone, they are the trailblazers. It is completely possible – but this is up to them – that others or the same European countries decide to offer not just logistical support, but also to make soldiers available.”—France’s Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius commenting on France’s decision to intervene in Mali against al-Qaeda-linked terrorists. However, “We see once again, there is no European union, no common European defence – not the British, nor the Germans nor the Italians – nobody is reacting. Concerning Canada, this is funny, because our Canadian friends say they are going to send one plane to help us, which is absolutely nothing.”—Eric Denécé, director of the French Centre for Intelligence Research in Paris, and a former intelligence official. Another official privy to the emergency discussions said the allies have been “incredibly slow [to step up] and incredibly stingy.” (Globe and Mail, Jan. 18, 2013)

“Facts in this part of the world [Turkey], sadly, do not always take the most pleasant shapes and revive anyone’s longing for the glory days of the Ottoman Military Band. It is ironic that the anti-missile systems built by “Christian” nations will soon become operational in Turkish territory, along with units of soldiers from “Christian” countries – the United States, Germany, Holland, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. And all that equipment and troop mobility is to protect “Muslim” Turkey from possible aggression by “Muslim” Syria.”—Burak Bekdil, in an op-ed article in the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News. (Hurriyet Daily News, Jan 23, 2013) 

 

 

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ISRAEL ONLY FREE COUNTRY IN MIDDLE EAST(Washington DC) According to Freedom House’s 2012 Report on Freedom in the World Israel remains the region’s [Middle East and North Africa [MENA] only Free country. In recent years, controversies have surrounded proposed laws that threatened freedom of expression and the rights of civil society organizations. In most cases, however, these measures have either been quashed by the government or parliament, or struck down by the Supreme Court. Israeli politics have also been roiled by an escalating controversy over the role of ultra-Orthodox Jews and their positions on issues such as military service and gender equality. A Free country is one where there is open political competition, a climate of respect for civil liberties, significant independent civic life, and independent media. (Freedom House, Jan. 2013)

 

MALI INCURSION RAISES RISK TO FRENCH JEWS, COMMUNITY SAYS—(Paris)

France’s military involvement in Mali “significantly increases” the threat facing French Jews, according to the security service of the country’s Jewish communities. “The situation requires we raise the level of protection around our community and double the level of vigilance around synagogues, Jewish schools, community centers and gathering places,” said a communiqué by SPCJ, which often determines its level of preparedness based on consultations with French authorities. French ground forces deployed in the capital Bamako [Mali] last week and began advancing northward on Jan. 15 to engage Islamist rebels in the Saharan former French colony. The incursion caused “agitation” in Islamic circles in France, SPCJ said. (Jewish Press, JTA, January 18th, 2013)

 

UPGRADED IRON DOME INTERCEPTS MEDIUM-RANGE MISSILE—(Tel Aviv) The Israeli defense establishment on Monday announced the successful testing of an upgraded version of the Iron Dome missile defense system. The tests, according to the Defense Ministry, aimed to broaden and improve Iron Dome’s “capability and performance” to contend with threats. In the tests, Iron Dome intercepted a missile heavier than a Fajr — the type fired at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip during November’s Operation Pillar of Defense. The test missile was also fired from a greater distance than its ordinary interception range (the Fajr-5 has a maximum range of 75 kilometers), suggesting that Iron Dome is being upgraded to protect Israeli cities against medium-range missile threats. (Times of Israel, Jan. 21, 2013)

 

PRO-ASSAD GUNMEN KILL 100 IN VILLAGE—(Beirut) Gunmen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad swept through a mainly Sunni farming village in central Syria this week, burning down houses and killing more than 100 people, including women and children, opposition activists said Thursday [Jan. 22]. The reported slayings, the latest in a series of massacres, fuelled accusations that pro-government militiamen are trying to drive majority Sunnis out of areas near main routes to the coast to ensure control of an Alawite enclave as the country’s civil war increasingly takes on sectarian overtones. Activists said the attackers were from nearby areas dominated by Shiite Muslims and allied Alawites. (National Post, 18 Jan 2013)

 

ISRAEL ASKS UN TO ADDRESS TERRORIST ‘ECOSYSTEM’—(New York) Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor said Tuesday [Jan 15] that the prospect of Hezbollah acquiring chemical weapons – through mishandling or via Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government — is “frightening,” and called on the Security Council to act immediately to prevent their proliferation. “I want to take the opportunity of this debate to ask the simple question: How do we truly counter terrorism?” he asked in the hall of the Security Council. “Yes, we must combat terrorists wherever they seek to strike. Yes, we must attack terrorist infrastructure, and go after those who support and finance terrorism,” he said. “However, true counterterrorism must also begin by disrupting the ecosystem of extremism in which terror thrives,” Prosor continued. “It means advancing education that teaches peace, not hate, and mutual understanding, not martyrdom. It means speaking out against incitement and all forms of terrorism, even when it is politically inconvenient.” (Jerusalem Post, Jan .16, 2013)

 

TEL AVIV RANKED SEVENTH BEST BEACH CITY IN WORLD—(Tel Aviv) The travel publication Lonely Planet has named Tel Aviv as one of its top beach cities, continuing the city’s recognition as one of the world’s top destinations. Tel Aviv, known as the “White City,” placed seventh in the Lonely Planet’s review of top beach cities behind top-ranked Barcelona. Tel Aviv beat cities such as its Middle Eastern neighbor Dubai, Miami, as well as Brighton and Hove in Great Britain on the list. (Alegemeiner, Jan. 22, 2013)

 

 

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The Neo-Ottoman Military Band: Burak Bekdil, Hurriyet Daily News, Jan 23, 2013—In a speech at the weekend, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan justified his Syria campaign with these words: “If they [Western coalition forces] can come from thousands of kilometers away and enter [occupy] Iraq… we just cannot sit tied and watch Syria, with which we have a 910-kilometer border.”

Why Netanyahu Failed and Lapid Surprised: Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz, Jan.23, 2013—Again and again, Netanyahu was photographed at the Western Wall and with IDF soldiers. All this may have looked good on his Facebook page, but it didn’t speak to Israelis’ hearts. Lapid, on the other hand, adapted his message to voters' interests.

Analysis: The Writing for Likud Was on The Street: Ben Hartman, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 23, 2013—For anyone who cared to listen, the ordinary people were quite clear on their disappointment in Netanyahu. The Yesh Atid coup in the election would have been shocking a week ago, but not 12 hours before polls closed, walking the streets of south Tel Aviv. In classic Likud strongholds like the Hatikvah neighborhood, time and again people spoke of voting for Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid or Naftali Bennett  of Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi), with Shas and also Labor coming up again and again.

 

 

 

Ber Lazarus
, Publications Editor
 Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
/L'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme   www.isranet.org  Tel: (514) 486-5544 Fax: (514) 486-8284

 

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