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The Iran Deal & the Missile Threat: Russ Read, Real Clear Defense, Aug. 30, 2015
Will ENI’s Discovery in Egypt Sink Israel’s Leviathan?: Gal Luft, Journal of Energy Security, Aug. 31, 2015
The Disintegration of Syria and Its Impact on Israel: Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, JCPA, Aug. 31, 2015
The Time For a ‘No-Fly Zone’ Over Syria Has Arrived: Anne-Marie Slaughter, Globe & Mail, Aug. 26, 2015
“There’s not a smidgen of evidence for it, other than the fact that there have been times where I’ve disagreed with a particular Israeli government’s position on a particular issue.” — U.S. President Barack Obama, in an interview with Forward. Obama challenged critics who suggested that he was antisemitic as he continues to promote his nuclear deal with Iran, ignoring Israeli leaders who are expressing concerns about it. But Obama admitted that he was more upset about people who criticized Jewish members of his administration for supporting the deal with Iran. “I get probably more offended when I hear members of my administration who themselves are Jewish being attacked,” Obama explained. That kind of rhetoric reminds him of the “being black enough” accusation among African-Americans. “You saw this historically sometimes in the African American community, where there’s a difference on policy and somebody starts talking about, well, you’re not black enough, or you’re selling out…And that, I think, is always a dangerous place to go.” (Breitbart, Aug. 31, 2015)
“Most Jews I know cringe at these very public battles and the ways in which we can be quite cruel toward each other.” — Andy Bachman, prominent progressive rabbi who until recently led Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn. The attacks on Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, since he announced his support for the nuclear accord with Iran have been so vicious that the National Jewish Democratic Council and the Anti-Defamation League both felt compelled this week to publicly condemn Jewish voices of hate. Nadler said it pained him both to have his pro-Israel credentials questioned and to see Jewish lawmakers who oppose the deal face questions about their patriotism. (New York Times, Aug. 28, 2015)
“No matter where you stand on the Iran deal, comparisons to the Holocaust, the darkest chapter in human history; questioning the credentials of longstanding advocates for Israel; and accusations of dual loyalty are inappropriate.” — Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel & Steve Israel, Jewish Democrats from New York opposed to the deal, in an open letter. (New York Times, Aug. 28, 2015)
“The Islamic Revolution will continue enhancing its preparedness until it overthrows Israel and liberates Palestine. We will continue defending not just our own country, but also all the oppressed people of the world, specially those countries that are standing on the forefront of confrontation with the Zionists.” — Brigadier General Mohsen Kazzemeini, a senior commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Kazzemeini was speaking as Iran started two days of major drills in the capital, involving 250,000 personnel, designed to “practice fighting against security threats.” These drills followed reports Tuesday that Iran has bolstered defenses at its nuclear facilities, introduced new radar systems, and “raised its alert” for fear of an Israeli attack. The regime has being carrying out a series of drills and exercises, including testing anti-aircraft missiles above its Bushehr reactor. It said the regime is particularly concerned by the threat of attack in the current period between July’s finalizing of a deal with the P5+1 world powers on its nuclear program and the approval of the deal by the US Congress. (Times of Israel, Sept. 2, 2015)
“Where is the help? Is this Europe?…Macedonia did not stop us, Greece did not stop us. Why just here you make it hard?” —a 30-year old man from Baghdad who would give his name only as Khaled. Europe’s failure to forge a response to its greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War is now on full display in downtown Budapest. The human current flowing from Turkey to Greece, then on to Macedonia and Serbia, has struck an obstacle in Hungary, where authorities are preventing migrants from boarding trains heading west. Khaled hoped to make it to a smaller European country, like Sweden or the Netherlands – somewhere he could quickly find a job, where the schools and hospitals were good, where his daughter could learn to speak another language. “A good life,” he said. “In Iraq we don’t have life.” (Globe & Mail, Sept. 1, 2015)
“The difference is, we don’t want to bring down our structure…We want our structure to stay, but we want it to improve.”— Maria Keserwani, 27. Thousands of Lebanese demonstrators gathered on Saturday to protest towering garbage piles, corruption and political dysfunction, infusing new momentum into a campaign for better governance that seeks to unite citizens often divided by religion and politics. The crowd in downtown Beirut was the movement’s biggest turnout yet, despite earlier fears of violence. Last weekend, security forces used water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets, and some protesters threw rocks. But on Saturday, activists and authorities alike vowed to avoid clashes and largely succeeded. (New York Times, Aug. 29, 2015)
“The movement is not up to raising up major political demands…It cannot bring about the demise of a current government without instituting an alternative in its place. It has to be constructive as well as destructive, or else it will only defeat its political purpose.” — Imad Salamey, a professor of political science at Lebanese American University. Still in its embryonic stages, the “You Stink” campaign began in July as a grassroots undertaking with the narrow aim of solving Beirut’s disastrous waste crisis. At its core, the movement opposes the inability of Lebanon’s weak and corrupt government to meet the basic needs of its citizens. (Globe & Mail, Sept. 1, 2015)
“Basically the genocide of Kurds is happening before the world…If they don’t act right now, if they don’t stop Erdogan, we will go back to the 1990s…They are supposed to be fighting ISIS but instead they are fighting the Kurds who are fighting ISIS…Everything is basically upside down in Turkey right now.” — Feleknas Uca, an opposition Turkish MP. In an interview the morning after speaking at a Kurdish festival in Toronto, Uca pleaded for help for the region’s Kurdish minority, which she depicted as squeezed between Turkish forces and the Islamic State. Uca urged Canada to support Kurdish fighters in Syria and pressure NATO-member Turkey to resume peace talks with the Kurds. She acknowledged meeting Defence Minister Jason Kenney but declined to go into detail about what they discussed. “We are allied with Canadians against ISIS,” she said. “That’s why we are expecting that Canada will play their role.” (National Post, Aug. 17, 2015)
“Jordan’s king is unstable and he has been in that condition for four years now, expecting a fall at any moment. Therefore, he has been trying to shift Jordanians anger against him towards Israel…If Jordan’s king’s press office did not fully approve of what Al-Zaatreh has written, they would lock him up quickly. Don’t forget the Jordanian government did not respond to the Israeli embassy’s objections, nor has it even taken the terror-inciting article off the newspapers website. Let me remind you again that in Jordan, there is no such thing as free media.” — Jordanian Coalition Opposition Nassem Gheewan. The Israeli embassy in Amman has criticized Jordan’s government-controlled media for inciting terrorist acts against Israeli civilians. The Embassy’s statement referred to an article written by Jordanian journalist Yasser Al-Zaatreh. Al- Zaatreh published an article in the semi-official Jordanian daily Ad-Dustor titled: “Heroic Acts in the West Bank and Jerusalem that must be built on.” Al-Zaatreh describes attacks on Israeli Jews as “heroic operations,” because “they ended up killing one Israeli,” in reference to stabbings of Israelis in Jerusalem and a terrorist attack that left one Israeli dead and others injured near Ramallah. (Jerusalem Online, Aug. 30, 2015)
“Now extreme views about women? We expect that from some of the terrorist groups. We expect that from people who don’t want to live in the modern world…But it’s a little hard to take coming from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States, yet they espouse out of date and out of touch policies…They are dead wrong for 21st century America.” — Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton. Clinton on Thursday drew parallels between terrorist organizations and the field of Republican candidates for president when it comes to their views on women, telling an audience her potential rivals were pushing outdated policies. Clinton did not mention any specific terrorist or militant groups, such as the Islamic State, which has held women as sex slaves in Iraq and Syria. Republicans swiftly accused the Democratic presidential front-runner of directly comparing the Republican presidential field to terrorists. (Globe & Mail, Aug. 28, 2015)
“Funnily enough, the biggest narcissist in the race — and possibly the universe — has the one slogan that refers to the desires of voters: “Make America Great Again!” Hillary has “Hillary” with an arrow pointing at it. And Jeb has “Jeb!” with an exclamation point that represents the only fizz in his campaign…Because she is seen as domineering and distant, Hillary is most popular — and becomes most human — when she is brushed back. When she is pushed against the wall, she gets better. But how can she win if she can only convey authenticity when she is losing?… Jeb has to avoid the towel-snapping tone of his brother, because that overcompensating testosterone led to tragedy. But how does he convey strength to voters fretting that America is weak and prevent Trump from painting him as a milquetoast? Trump knows he has a dilemma as well. His hyperbolic style and instinct for the jugular have propelled him to the front of the pack — a fact that has stunned even him. But how does he keep the colored lights going while conveying requisite dignity?” — Maureen Dowd (New York Times, Aug. 29, 2015)
MASSIVE RALLY PLANNED TO PROTEST IRAN DEAL AND ISIS GENOCIDE OF YEZIDIS (Toronto) — On Wednesday, September 9, in front of the U.S. Consulate in Toronto, a massive rally is being planned to protest the Obama government's proposed agreement with Iran and the relentless ISIS genocide of the Yezidi people. It will take place between 4:30 to 6:30 pm. Rallies to stop the Iran deal are taking place around the world. This rally is planned to coincide with the September 9th Rabbis' March in Washington which will include several Toronto rabbis, and a rally in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square. Other demonstrations to protest the Iran deal will take place Tuesday, September 1 in New York, offices of Senators Schumer and Gilibran; Florida, August 31, office of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz, September 9, Washington West Lawn hosted by the Zionist Organization of America; Sept. 9, New Jersey , Bnai Tikvah Syynagogue.
214 RETIRED GENERALS AND ADMIRALS URGE CONGRESS TO REJECT IRAN DEAL (New York) — A group of 214 retired generals and admirals sent an open letter to Congress urging U.S. lawmakers to reject the Iran nuclear deal. The letter, addressed to Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, is a response to one sent last week that was signed by 36 retired senior military officers who supported the nuclear deal. The group of former high-ranking military officials include William G. “Jerry” Boykin, undersecretary of defense for intelligence under president George W. Bush; John Poindexter, national security advisor under president Ronald Reagan; and retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, who was vice commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe. (JNS, Aug. 26, 2015)
DEMOCRATIC SENATOR MIKULSKI BACKS IRAN DEAL, CLINCHING OBAMA WIN (Washington) — Senate Democrats have rallied the 34 votes they need to keep the Iran nuclear deal alive in Congress, handing US President Barack Obama a major foreign policy victory. Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland became the crucial 34th vote Wednesday, declaring the agreement was the best way to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Mikulski, 78, has been lauded by the Jewish community as a staunch supporter of Israel during her Senate career, the longest for a female in US history. Congress is to vote later this month on a resolution disapproving the deal, which is unanimously opposed by Republicans. The backing from Mikulski, who is retiring next year, gives supporters the margin they need to uphold an Obama veto of a congressional resolution of disapproval if Republicans pass such a measure later this month. (Times of Israel, Sept. 1, 2015)
I.S. BLOWS UP TEMPLE OF BEL IN SYRIA’S PALMYRA (Damascus) — Islamic State fighters blew up ruins of one of the most venerated temples in the ancient city of Palmyra, according to antigovernment activists, the latest attack in the extremist group’s campaign to rid Syria of what it views as un-Islamic artifacts. The Roman-era edifice, surrounded by stately, 59-foot-columns, was one of the most important religious buildings of the first century A.D., according to Unesco, the United Nations’ cultural agency. Earlier in August, Islamic State forces destroyed Palmyra’s Temple of Baalshamin, which also dates back almost 2,000 years. (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 31, 2015)
FAHMY, 2 OTHER AL-JAZEERA JOURNALISTS SENTENCED TO 3 YEARS IN PRISON (Cairo) — An Egyptian court has sentenced Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and two other Al-Jazeera English journalists to three years in prison. In his ruling, Judge Hassan Farid said he sentenced the men to prison because they had not registered with the country's journalist syndicate. He also said the men brought in equipment without the approval of security officials, had broadcast "false news" on Al-Jazeera and used a hotel as a broadcasting point without permission. Fahmy’s brother, Adel Fahmy, said Canadian Ambassador Troy Lulashnyk told him he had met with Egyptian officials and that Ottawa had officially applied for the pardon and deportation. (CBC, Aug. 29, 2015 & Globe & Mail, Aug. 30, 2015)
VAST RESERVES OF NATURAL GAS FOUND OFF THE COAST OF EGYPT (Cairo) —The Italian energy company Eni S.p.A. announced on Sunday that it has discovered a “supergiant” natural gas field off the coast of Egypt, describing it as the “largest ever” found in the Mediterranean Sea. Eni’s chief executive, Claudio Descalzi, said the discovery, made in its Zohr prospect “in the deep waters of Egypt,” could hold a potential 30 trillion cubic feet of gas over an area of about 40 square miles. The discovery well is about 120 miles from the Egyptian coast, at a depth of 4,757 feet, in the Shorouk block, the company said. The block is about 66 miles from Port Said. (New York Times, Aug. 30, 2015)
EGYPT CRACKING DOWN ON GAZA TUNNELS BY FILLING AREA WITH WATER (Cairo) — The Egyptian military is continuing its crackdown on the underground smuggling tunnels connecting the Sinai and Gaza. According to AP, bulldozers have been digging through the sand along Egypt's border with Gaza, as part of a project billed as an Egyptian military-operated fish farm. Military officials told AP the project would effectively fill the border area with water and is designed to put an end to the last remaining cross-border underground smuggling tunnels. For several years, Egypt tolerated a smuggling industry, allowing hundreds of tunnels to bring in goods like cigarettes and spare motorbike parts, as well as weapons, into the Hamas-controlled Strip. (Arutz Sheva, Sept. 1, 2015)
PRO-KURDISH PARTY JOINS INTERIM GOVERNMENT IN TURKEY (Ankara) — Turkey’s interim premier unveiled a caretaker government to lead the country to a snap election in November, one that includes pro-Kurdish members for the first time as well as a right-wing nationalist. The power-sharing lineup unveiled by Prime Minister Davutoglu also includes several independent politicians and bureaucrats. His long-ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, controls 11 of the 25 ministries. The cabinet is expected to convene only a few meetings, as politicians once again circle the country to campaign for votes. But Davutoglu vowed to govern as if the administration would serve a full four-year term to fight mounting security threats facing the country. (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 28, 2015)
ISRAEL ASKS UN TO REJECT PALESTINIAN ATTEMPT TO RAISE FLAG (Geneva) — Israel urged U.N. leaders to reject a Palestinian attempt to raise their flag at U.N. headquarters as early as this month's gathering of world leaders. The flags of all 193 U.N. member states fly outside U.N. headquarters in New York and other U.N. offices — but not the flags of the two non-member observer states, Palestine and the Vatican. The Palestinians are seeking General Assembly approval of a draft resolution that would allow non-member observer states to raise their flags. Several nations have shown support for the Palestinians' pursuit of statehood, including the Vatican. In May, the Vatican officially recognized the state of Palestine with a bilateral treaty. The U.S., Israel's closest ally, opposed the Palestinian move. (New York Times, Sept. 1, 2015)
EUROPE REELS FROM MORE MIGRANT DEATHS ON LAND AND SEA (Vienna) — Europe reeled from fresh shocks in its escalating migration crisis Friday, with reports that 150 people drowned in the Mediterranean and news that far more bodies had been found crammed in an abandoned refrigeration truck in Austria than first thought. Austrian authorities disclosed that the remains of 71 people had been found inside the truck, including four children, and that at least some had come from Syria. The migrant crisis, the biggest wave to hit Europe since World War II, was further amplified on Friday by a report from the United Nations refugee agency estimating a 40 percent jump this year in the number of people fleeing to the Continent by boat compared with all of 2014. Most are escaping war and strife in the Middle East and Africa. (New York Times, Aug. 28, 2015)
JUSTIN TRUDEAU FUNDRAISER PICKETED BY JEWISH DEFENCE LEAGUE (Toronto) — A Toronto Jewish group made the rare move of protesting one of its own community leaders last Wednesday evening, staging a picket outside billionaire Barry Sherman’s house during his cocktail fundraiser for the Liberal party. About 30 protesters from the JDL lined the street out front of Sherman’s lavish Toronto home, holding Israeli and Canadian flags. Tickets for the party and opportunity to meet leader Justin Trudeau reportedly went for $1,500 each. The Liberals have pledged to reopen diplomatic ties with Iran and have welcomed the new Iranian nuclear deal. (National Post, Aug. 26, 2015)
COURT BACKS CONSERVATIVES’ FUNDING CUT TO ‘ANTI-SEMITIC’ ARAB GROUP (Ottawa) — An appeal court has upheld the Conservative government’s decision to cut funding to a “radical and anti-Semitic” Arab-Canadian group once headed by a Liberal candidate. In 2009, then-Citizenship and Immigration minister Jason Kenney cut $1 million in annual funding to the Canadian Arab Federation, arguing that the group’s leadership had repeatedly expressed support for Hamas and Hezbollah. The Federation had a long track record of “expressing hateful, antisemitic views, and glorifying terrorists,” said Kenney in a email. The group had been paid an annual sum of $1 million in exchange for providing language-training services to new immigrants. Omar Alghabra is a Liberal candidate and was president of the group between 2004 and 2005. (National Post, Aug. 28, 2015)
ONLY 16 WOMEN REGISTER TO VOTE IN SAUDI ARABIA ELECTIONS (Riyadh) — Women in Saudi Arabia are getting ready to vote for the first time, though records show that only a minuscule amount have actually registered so far. According to a report by Al Arabiya, only 16 women in the country of almost 28 million have registered to vote in December's municipal elections. Harsh Islamic laws imposed on Saudi women could be behind low registration numbers. Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive, nor are they allowed to leave their house without a male family member. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 30, 2015)
IRAN AND ISRAEL UNITED IN DISLIKE OF BARENBOIM (Berlin) — Iran and Israel rarely agree about anything, but it appears they are united in their dislike of Daniel Barenboim. The conductor was planning to take a Berlin orchestra to perform in Iran later this year, to the fury of Israel. But it is Iran which has prevented it from taking place, after a government official said Barenboim would not be allowed into the country – because he holds Israeli nationality. Barenboim, one of the world’s most feted conductors, wanted to take the Berlin Staatskappelle orchestra to perform in Tehran. Barenboim, who is Jewish, was born in Argentina but moved to Israel with his parents at the age of ten. It appears neither his long record of outspoken opposition to Israeli government policy nor the fact that he holds Palestinian nationality were enough to sway the Iranian authorities. (Telegraph, Aug. 31, 2015)
A YIDDISH OPERETTA WILL RECEIVE ITS FIRST STAGING IN 70 YEARS (New York) — “Di Goldene Kale,” a Yiddish-language operetta from the 1920s that was lost to time, will soon receive its first full staging in nearly 70 years. The show, put on by the National Yiddish Theater-Folksbiene as part of its fall season and a residency with the Museum of Jewish Heritage, will run from Dec. 2 through 27. “Di Goldene Kale” had its premiere in 1923 at Kessler’s Second Avenue Theater, where it filled the 2,000-seat house and ran for 18 weeks. It was performed regularly in the years leading up to World War II but dropped out of the New York theater scene after 1948. (New York Times, Aug. 28, 2015)
MONACO EXPRESSES REGRET OVER HOLOCAUST DEPORTATIONS OF JEWS (Monaco) — Monaco’s Prince Albert II apologized Thursday for his country’s history of deporting Jews to Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust. During the period, Monaco police had rounded up and deported Jews in the small principality, including those who escaped to Monaco thinking they would be safe in what was considered a neutral country. The prince also unveiled a monument commemorating the deported Jews at the Monaco cemetery, on a date marking 73 years since Monaco authorities rounded up more than 60 Jews from Aug. 27-28, 1942. In total, about 90 people were deported from Monaco, and of those only nine survived the Holocaust. (Algemeiner, Aug. 27, 2015)
The Iran Deal & the Missile Threat: Russ Read, Real Clear Defense, Aug. 30, 2015 —The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran Deal, includes far more than just an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program. One of the most crucial provisions is the cessation of ballistic missile embargoes against Iran 8 years after the JCPOA goes into effect. The implications of this provision will prove to be dire regardless of whether or not Iran chooses to go nuclear.
Will ENI’s Discovery in Egypt Sink Israel’s Leviathan?: Gal Luft, Journal of Energy Security, Aug. 31, 2015 —The discovery of the Italian energy company ENI of a giant gas field off the coast of Egypt has transformed the East Mediterranean energy play overnight.
The Disintegration of Syria and Its Impact on Israel: Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, JCPA, Aug. 31, 2015—The complex civil war in Syria keeps developing in ways that reinforce the trends that have been evident for some time. Despite the reports on a number of proposals for ending the conflict, the chances of fostering a breakthrough remain unclear.
The Time For a ‘No-Fly Zone’ Over Syria Has Arrived: Anne-Marie Slaughter, Globe & Mail, Aug. 26, 2015 —A recent front-page photo in The New York Times of a boatload of Syrian refugees drifting on the Mediterranean Sea beneath an enormous setting sun could not have been more apt. The sun seems to be setting on Syria itself.