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MEDIA-OCRITY OF THE WEEK: “A disaster has been averted. The nuclear deal concluded by six major powers with Iran is now unstoppable in Congress. The only question is whether President Obama will have to veto a Republican resolution of disapproval or Democrats will have enough votes to spare him that obligation by filibustering the resolution and ensuring it never leaves the Senate. The second outcome would be preferable. An override-proof presidential veto of a congressional resolution of disapproval is not the best path to a historic international accord. Major arms control treaties used to be bipartisan affairs. Those days are gone. Still, Republican maneuvering, backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, has not prevailed. That’s a victory for reason in a season of rage.” —Roger Cohen (New York Times, Sept. 3, 2015)


On Topic Links  


The Mistaken Rationale Behind the Iran Nuclear Deal: Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, JCPA, Sept. 9, 2015

Amateur Hour With the Iran Nuclear Deal: Donald Trump, USA Today, Sept. 8, 2015

Many Obstacles Are Seen to U.S. Taking in Large Number of Syrian Refugees: David M. Herszenhorn, New York Times, Sept. 4, 2015

The Bigger Picture Behind the European Refugee Crisis: Michael Goodwin, New York Post, Sept. 5, 2015




“We have to be in for the long haul…There’s no instant solution. But what we do know is that we cannot just withdraw, allow ISIS to spread the way it was spreading a year ago and use this as a staging area for international terrorist attacks against the world, including against us. It’s easy for the Liberals or NDP to say we’re going to pull out Canadian forces. But I don’t think our allies are going to say we could all pull out. That would be an absolute catastrophe.” — Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Harper described the Syrian situation as politically “messy” because neither the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, nor the “jihadist extremists” can be supported. Harper also said, “rich, privileged nations” like Canada have an obligation to help Syrian refugees, but he struck back at questions over whether this country is doing enough. “It’s not just enough to turn around and say, ‘Oh let’s admit more refugees.’ We can admit thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands more refugees and we are still going to see those kinds of images.” (Ottawa Citizen, Sept. 7, 2015)


"You know, there is something in the Iran deal that people I don't think really understand or know about…And nobody is ever to explain it that if somebody attacks Iran, we have to come to their defense." — Presidential hopeful Donald Trump (R). Trump has vocally opposed the deal since announcing his run for president, saying that the U.S. "should have doubled up the sanctions for another couple of months" and that the 24-day notice Iran receives before sites can be inspected is unacceptable.   But Trump also suggested that under the terms of the deal the U.S. was required to fight alongside Iran if Israel were to attack. (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 3, 2015)


“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is satisfied with these assurances after having spent the last two months consulting with its allies in Europe and other places…We believe this agreement will contribute to security and stability in the region by preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear capability…Now we have one less problem to deal with, with regard to Iran, and we can now focus more on their nefarious activities in the region…We hope that the Iranians will take advantage of this agreement, which allows for a removal gradually of their isolation.” — Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister. Obama and King Salman of Saudi Arabia moved to put their differences behind them on Friday in a long-delayed meeting amid months of tension over the nuclear agreement with Iran and a continuing schism over the way forward in Syria. (New York Times, Sept. 4, 2015)


“Beneath the smiles and cordiality of this visit lurks a far more complex dynamic…The Saudis see U.S. policy toward Iran in transition, from decades of containment and confrontation to acquiescence to Iran’s new influence, maybe even cooperation.” —Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East peace negotiator. Analysts said the meeting between Obama and the Saudis only masked a fundamental stress in the relationship, as Saudi leaders worry that Obama’s outreach to Iran reflects a shift toward Riyadh’s historic rival in the region. (New York Times, Sept. 4, 2015)


“In [U.S. Senator Cory Booker’s] statement today, supporting a deal which he himself calls "dangerous" and "deeply-flawed," Cory never even once condemns the Iranian promise to exterminate the Jews of Israel or distance himself from a deal which he admits will legitimize a genocidal regime. Indeed, he acknowledges Iran's "determination to destroy the United States and our ally Israel." How then can he vote for a deal that gives Iran the means by which to achieve this evil objective in just 10-15 years?” — Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. Senator Booker, a New Jersey Democrat torn between his 20-year friendship with Rabbi Boteach, who is opposed to the Iran deal, and his loyalty to Obama, said he will back the Iran nuclear agreement. (Huffington Post, Sept. 4, 2015)


“After negotiations, in Zionist regime they said they had no more concern about Iran for next 25 years; I’d say: Firstly, you will not see next 25 years; God willing, there will be nothing as Zionist regime by next 25 years. Secondly, until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists.” — Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a series of threatening remarks published online in broken English. The quotation, apparently taken from a speech given earlier in the day, comes against a backdrop of a photograph apparently showing the Iranian leader walking on an Israeli flag painted on a sidewalk. (Times of Israel, Sept. 9, 2015)


“We have regularly and repeatedly expressed our concern about Russian military support for the Assad regime…But we’re also watching their actions very carefully. If these reports are borne out, it would represent a very serious shift in the trajectory of the Syria conflict and call into question any Russian commitment to a peaceful settlement.” — John Kirby, U.S. State Department spokesman. Russia has sent a military advance team to Syria and is taking other steps the U.S. fears may signal that President Vladimir Putin is planning to vastly expand his military support for President Assad of Syria. The Russian moves, including the recent transport of prefabricated housing units for hundreds of people to a Syrian airfield and the delivery of a portable air traffic control station there, are another complicating factor in Secretary of State Kerry’s repeated efforts to enlist Putin’s support for a diplomatic solution to the bloody conflict in Syria. (New York Times, Sept. 4, 2015)


“Those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture. Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims…This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity.” — Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, in a commentary for a German newspaper. “There is no alternative, and we have no option but to defend our borders. We Hungarians are full of fear. People in Europe are full of fear, because we see that European leaders, among them the prime ministers, are not capable of controlling the situation,” Orban said. Orban principally blamed Germany as he confirmed his government’s plan to send at least 3,000 troops to Hungary’s southern border with Serbia, where police patrols, razor-wire coils and a 4-metre high fence already seek to deter new arrivals. Orban’s top aide said 160,000 migrants had reached Hungary this year, nearly 90,000 of them since July 6. Orban said the problem with migrants was really “a German problem. Nobody would like to stay in Hungary. All of them would like to go to Germany.”  (New York Times & Globe & Mail, Sept. 3, 2015)


“Hungary is right when it says that we must protect our external border and we must register refugees and asylum seekers…But of course that’s not the end of it. There is also an obligation to give protection to those who deserve protection. The Geneva convention on refugees applies not just in Germany but in every European member state…The Geneva convention obliges us to take in refugees from civil wars when they are fleeing from fear, war and horror and give them protection. Germany is doing no more and no less than this … and all countries must do this.” —German Chancellor Angela Markel, emphasizing that all EU members should show the same care toward war refugees and observe the same obligations on handling asylum cases. She called for each EU nation to accept “a binding quota” of refugee applicants. (Globe & Mail, Sept. 3, 2015)


“Our countries are only fit for workers. It’s too costly to relocate them here…Kuwait is too expensive for them anyway, as opposed to Lebanon and Turkey which are cheap…These countries are better suited for the Syrian refugees…In the end, it is not right for us to accept a people that are different from us. We don’t want people who suffer from internal stress and trauma in our country!” —Kuwaiti official Fahad Al Shalami. Al Shalami has cleared up the mystery why none of the Gulf nations, including Saudi Arabia, have yet allowed the Syrian refugees fleeding the savage civil war in their land to set foot on their shores. Al Shalami told France24 television that in fact, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) should never accept Syrian refugees. Kuwait and the other GCC countries are “too valuable to accept any refugees,” Al Shalami said. (Jewish Press, Sept. 7, 2015)


“Our thoughts go out to [Alan Kurdi’s] family and to the families of all the victims. I would like to say that Alan, as horrible as his story is, there are thousands of people like him (who drowned) and there are thousands of kids like him, but their stories were not told.” — Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, The head of the Syriac Orthodox Church, at a press conference in Laval, Quebec. Alan, along with his 5-year-old brother and his mother, drowned when the boat they were travelling in to Greece sank. Ignatius said average Canadians should focus on the people who are trying to stay in their communities by helping groups respond to their needs, including basic necessities like food, clothing and health care. “They can also keep the pressure on their elected officials, on the government, to be more attentive and active in the international coalition and community, to try and bring a solution to the issues in Syria and Iraq,” he said. While the church leader called on the government to do more, he also was “saddened by seeing some politicians using the tragedy, especially the tragedy of this little kid, for their election campaigns, to attack each other.” (Montreal Gazette, Sept. 4, 2015)


“It was horrifying when I saw those images of police putting numbers on people’s arms…It reminded me of Auschwitz. And then putting people on a train with armed guards to take them to a camp where they are closed in? Of course there are echoes of the Holocaust.” — Robert Frolich, the chief rabbi of Hungary. Europeans are facing one of the Continent’s worst humanitarian crises since World War II, yet many seem blind to images that recall that blackest time in their history. This migrant crisis is no genocide. The issue throughout the Continent is how to register, house, resettle or repatriate hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees, a daunting logistical challenge. Rabbi Frolich was especially struck by the lies used to manipulate the migrants. “They tell them that the train was going to Austria and then take them to a camp instead…I don’t think the police got instructions from the government to do it this way, but it is very similar to what happened to Jews in the 1940s.” (New York Times, Sept. 4, 2015)





FOUR MORE SENATORS BACK IRAN DEAL, ASSURING CUSHION FOR WHITE HOUSE (Washington) — Four Democratic senators announced on Tuesday that they would back Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, apparently securing enough votes so Obama will not be forced to veto a Republican resolution disapproving the accord. And as critics in Congress prepared to begin a debate on the agreement, the support of the four senators — Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Gary Peters of Michigan and Ron Wyden of Oregon — meant that the Republicans would not have the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster of the resolution. Forty-two Democrats now back the agreement. (New York Times, Sept. 8, 2015)


ABBAS SET TO ANNUL OSLO ACCORDS, DECLARE PALESTINE A STATE UNDER OCCUPATION (Jerusalem) — The fog created by the ostensibly impending resignation of PA President Mahmoud Abbas appeared to clear as details emerged reportedly indicating that the resignation threats were a diversion ahead of a dramatic move planned by the Palestinians: declaring Palestine a state under occupation and reneging on their obligations as detailed in the Oslo Accords. Saeb Erekat, the acting head of the Palestinian negotiating team and the secretary general of the PLO’s executive committee, is expected to be elected as a full member of the PLO Executive Committee at the organization’s next meeting. (Times of Israel, Sept. 7, 2015)


FAHMY’S WORK MADE HIM A “BROTHERHOOD” MEMBER BY DEFAULT: COURT (Cairo) — An Egyptian court released a detailed ruling Sunday on why it sentenced Canadian Mohammed Fahmy and two other Al-Jazeera journalists to three years in prison for airing what it described as “false news” and biased coverage, a case long criticized by press freedom advocates and others. The ruling says the three men were by default members the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, which Egyptian authorities consider a terrorist organization. The ruling also said the three operated without press credentials and secretly worked at a hotel in central Cairo without a permit. The journalists and the network deny the accusations. Evidence presented at the trial ventured into the absurd, including music videos and footage of animals, which defence lawyers and even the judge dismissed as irrelevant. Third-party observers say no evidence proved the charges. (National Post, Sept. 6, 2015)


TURKISH SOLDIERS ENTER IRAQ TO HUNT PKK REBELS, SOURCE SAYS (Baghdad) — Turkish soldiers have crossed the border into northern Iraq in "a hot-pursuit presence as part of combating terrorism," a Turkish government official said. It has been more than two years since a Turkish ground incursion into Iraq. The Turkish military has conducted airstrikes in recent months against suspected targets of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq. They have also arrested PKK members in Turkey. The PKK, which seeks an independent state in Turkey, has been in an armed struggle with Turkey for decades and has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the E.U. The conflict has killed 45,000 people since 1984. (CNN, Sept. 8, 2015)


MOROCCO'S ISLAMISTS WIN KEY URBAN POSTS IN LOCAL ELECTION (Rabat) — Morocco's ruling Islamist party won most of the country's key cities during Friday's elections, expanding its reach after four years of leading a coalition government that undertook major fiscal reforms. The Justice and Development party, known as PJD, came to power on an anti-corruption ticket in 2011, tapping into a desire for greater freedom when "Arab Spring" protests forced King Mohammed to devolve some royal powers.  On Friday, for the first time in its history, the PJD won control of all of Morocco's major cities including the capital Rabat, Casablanca, Tangier, Fez, Marrakesh and Agadir. The PJD has long portrayed itself as a fighter against the old guard that has controlled Morocco's politics and economy since it gained independence from France in 1956. (Reuters, Sept. 5, 2015)


FRENCH OPPOSE SOFTER RULES ON REFUGEE STATUS (Paris) — A majority of French people are against softening rules to access refugee status a poll showed, even as thousands poured to the streets to show their solidarity with migrants seeking asylum in Europe. Around 8,500 people marched in Paris on Saturday carrying banners such as "Refugees welcome". Other demonstrations took place in several cities across the country. But a poll conducted for a French daily showed 55 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed were opposed to an easing of rules for migrants asking for refugee status, including Syrians fleeing civil war. Thirty-three percent thought France was less hospitable to war refugees than Germany, which opened its door to several hundred thousands of migrants in the last months, while 44 percent thought they are on the same line. (Globe & Mail, Sept. 6, 2015)


FRANCE CLOSES ARAFAT DEATH PROBE WITHOUT CHARGES (Paris) — French judges investigating claims that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was murdered have closed the case without bringing any charges. "At the end of the investigation… it has not been demonstrated that Mr Yasser Arafat was murdered by polonium-210 poisoning," the three judges ruled. Arafat died in Percy military hospital near Paris aged 75 in November 2004 after developing stomach pains while at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. His widow Suha has maintained he was poisoned, possibly by highly radioactive polonium. But the judges ruled there was "not sufficient evidence of an intervention by a third party who could have attempted to take his life," the prosecutor said. (I24, Sept. 2, 2015)


QUEBEC TEEN FACING TERROR CHARGES (Montreal) — The second day of trial continues for a Lachine teenager charged with terror-related offences after robbing a convenience store to allegedly get money for a plane ride overseas to join a jihadist group. The teen has already pleaded guilty to armed robbery. Federal prosecutors allege he committed the robbery for the benefit of an unspecified terrorist organization. The judge was shown the rest of a video recording of the teen's interrogation by police the day of his arrest. At the time, the accused was 15. During the interrogation, the accused can be seen launching into a rant about Islam. "You're a traitor," he yells at an RCMP investigator in the video. "You work for non-believers. You are an apostate." (National Post, Sept. 9, 2015)


DENMARK PUTS AD IN LEBANESE NEWSPAPERS: DEAR REFUGEES, DON’T COME HERE (Copenhagen) — The Danish government has placed an advertisement in a number of newspapers in Lebanon. The ads carry an unspoken yet unmistakable message: Don't come to Denmark. The advertisement lists a number of factors that would make Denmark an undesirable destination for refugees, including recent legislation that would reduce social benefits to arriving refugees by 50 percent. Pointedly, it notes that anyone hoping to gain permanent residence in Denmark would have to learn Danish. Denmark has taken a stricter stance on immigration since the center-right Liberal Party formed a minority government in June. While Germany and Sweden have embraced larger numbers of refugees over the past year, Denmark has cut back, imposing laws designed to discourage migrants from traveling to the country, including a severe cut to the benefits offered to refugees. (Washington Post, Sept. 7, 2015)


NORWEGIAN BANK ISSUES ANTI-SEMITIC CREDIT CARD, APOLOGIZES (Oslo) — A major Norwegian bank that issued a credit card decorated with an antisemitic caricature has apologized and canceled the card. The Israeli advocacy group Hallelu published on Facebook a photo of the credit card, issued by DNB to one Alexander Joseph Beckett, showing an ugly, large-nosed Jew wearing a black coat and prayer shawl and smiling at a background of gold coins. DNB, which bills itself as “Norway’s largest financial services group,” said it was “very sorry” and had not chosen the image itself. (Times of Israel, Sept. 2, 2015)


SOUTH AFRICAN JEWISH GROUPS: PROPOSAL TO CANCEL DUAL CITIZENSHIP MOTIVATED BY ANTISEMITISM (Cape Town) — South African Jewish groups expressed outrage over reported plans by the ruling African National Congress to consider outlawing dual citizenship for South African citizens, in an effort to stop them from holding Israeli citizenship and potentially serving in the IDF. While the ban would reportedly be meant to target those with dual Israeli citizenship, millions of citizens of other countries would be affected as well. The ANC is also slated to discuss cracking down on private-sector ties with Israel, the report added. (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 7, 2015)


IDF LAUNCHES NEW MORTAR RADAR SYSTEM IN SOUTHERN ISRAEL (Tel Aviv) —The IDF have developed new radar technology that can identify the launch of a mortar when it is fired. The new system will improve the warning alert system significantly – by seven or eight seconds – according to an IDF announcement. The system has already been deployed in the Gaza Belt region, according to the IDF, where communities till now have had only five seconds in which to find shelter from shelling. The new systems stretches that window to 12-13 seconds in which to make it to safety. During last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, dozens of soldiers and civilians died due to the lack of an adequate window in which to find shelter under shelling from Gaza. (Jewish Press, Sept. 7, 2015)


UNIQUE 1,800-YEAR-OLD SARCOPHAGUS FOUND AT BUILDING SITE (Tel Aviv) — A unique and impressive stone sarcophagus approximately 1,800 years old has been exposed at a building site in a new neighborhood being built in Ashkelon. The find is among the rarest sarcophagi ever discovered in Israel. The coffin, made of hard limestone, weighs approximately two tons, is 2.5 meters long, and is sculpted on all sides. A life-size figure of a person is carved on the lid of the sarcophagus. The artifact was repeatedly struck by a tractor in different places, scarring the stone and damaging the decorations sculpted by an artist on its sides. The irreparable damage was caused by the contractors who encountered the impressive sarcophagus during the course of their work. (Jewish Press, Sept. 3, 2015)


JEWISH NEW YEAR’S EVE: ISRAEL REACHES 8.4M (Tel Aviv) — In the past year, the State of Israel has enlarged its population 1.9 percent, or 158,000 new citizens. During this past year, 168,000 new Israelis were born and 42,000 died. In addition, 28,000 new olim arrived on aliyah – a 35 percent increase over last year. The highest percent of new immigrants came from war-torn Ukraine (26 percent), closely followed by France (25 percent). Those populations were not far ahead of Russia, whose immigration statistic for the year was 21 percent. Immigration from the U.S. only reached nine percent. (Jewish Press, Sept. 8, 2015)


On Topic Links 


The Mistaken Rationale Behind the Iran Nuclear Deal: Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, JCPA, Sept. 9, 2015 —The main problem with the deal is not its numerous weaknesses, each of which in itself casts doubt on whether the deal can prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons whenever it decides to do so – whether during the period when the restrictions pertain to it or afterward. The main problem is that the deal basically gives Iran all that it has dreamed of without any real payment on its part and hence is extremely dangerous to the future of the Middle East, the world order, U.S. interests, and Israel’s security.

Amateur Hour With the Iran Nuclear Deal: Donald Trump, USA Today, Sept. 8, 2015 —It is hard to believe a president of the United States would actually put his name on an agreement with the terrorist state Iran that is so bad, so poorly constructed and so terribly negotiated that it increases uncertainty and reduces security for America and our allies, including Israel.

Many Obstacles Are Seen to U.S. Taking in Large Number of Syrian Refugees: David M. Herszenhorn, New York Times, Sept. 4, 2015 —In late spring, with the war in Syria grinding into its fifth year amid an ever-deepening humanitarian catastrophe for millions of refugees, 14 United States senators wrote a letter to President Obama urging that at least 65,000 of the displaced Syrians be allowed to resettle in the United States.

The Bigger Picture Behind the European Refugee Crisis: Michael Goodwin, New York Post, Sept. 5, 2015 —The photo of the dead Syrian child who washed ashore in Turkey is heartbreaking, as are the scenes of migrants throwing themselves on train tracks in Hungary and thousands of others shunning shelter for a long march to Austria and Germany.


Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

Contents:  Weekly Quotes |  Short Takes


Download Today's Isranet Briefing.pdf


On Topic Links



Search For Jews Of Kaifeng: The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Video, Feb 14, 2013
The Time for a Final Status Agreement Has Passed: Dore Gold, Algemeiner, Feb. 18, 2013

The Hezbollah Connection in Syria and Iran: Bernard Gwertzman, Council on Foreign Relations,  Feb. 15, 2013



"I am hoping for a peace deal based on two states for two people, as per the parameters I outlined during my speech at Bar Ilan University. Today Israel extends its hand once more for peace. We want a peace process, and we hope that it will yield results."— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,  at a press conference announcing Tzipi Livini as his first coalition partner.



"He has blamed the Jews for the scandal surrounding the sexual misconduct of priests toward young parishioners! He has argued that the Jews got even with the Catholic Church for its anti-Israel positions by arranging for the media — which they, of course, control, he said — to give disproportionate attention to the Vatican sex scandal. He then compared the Jewish controlled media with Hitler, because they are 'protagonists of what I do not hesitate to define as a persecution against the church.'”—Alan Dershowitz, Harvard law professor, in a letter to the editor of the Miami Herald responding to a list published last week after the resignation of [Pope] Benedict, which identified Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras as a possible successor to the current pope. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 18, 2013

“I did not betray my Judaism in the pact with Iran because we are trying to solve the AMIA bombing case [in Buenos Aires]. The move was inspired by the deep humanistic tradition of Judaism and thinking always about the victims and the relatives of the victims.”Argentinean  Foreign Minister Hector Timmerman, responding to criticism over Argentina’s agreement to involve Iran in the investigation of the bombings of the Jewish community and the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, which have been generally attributed to Iran itself. (Jewish Press, Feb. 18, 2013)

“These talks [with Iran] can only make progress if the Iranians come to the table determined to make and discuss real offers and engage in a real dialogue. Countries that have peaceful programs do not have problems proving to people that they are peaceful.”—US Secretary of State John Kerry in a joint press conference with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ahead of their meeting at the State Department. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 14, 2013)


"We do not see stability in Lebanon. With regards to the West, from afar they see things from another perspective. European states are saying: 'Let us focus on what is happening in Mali and Syria.' For us, this Arab Spring seems to have become a winter, when we look at what is happening in this troubled region of the world. These conflicts are not confined to Syria and Mali. Tunisia is returning to violence, things have not calmed down in Libya, Egypt is on the verge of a new phase of confrontation and things are still boiling in Iraq. Westerners do not want to see Lebanon in a similar situation, something that would only cause them more headaches."—Lebanese Deputy Speaker Farid Makari, in response to questions concerning the EU’s likelihood of listing Hezbollah as a terrorist organization following Bulgaria’s determination that Hezbollah was responsible for the attack against Israelis on European soil. (Al-Monitor, Feb. 10, 2013)

“The majority of Syrian refugees are pro-revolution, so they go to areas where they are welcome. But now these areas are full and they started to go to other places. We are worried. We cannot cope with the refugees we have here already and if fighting increases in Damascus, we won’t be able to manage. The damage in Syria is so great, it will take years until the refugees can go back. Even though most of them are from my sect, I want them to go. They are creating problems.”—Fadi Chamieh, a member of the Humanitarian Association Collaboration, an umbrella organization that coordinates humanitarian aid to Syrians arriving in southern Lebanon. (Now Lebanon, Feb. 18, 2013


“The chemical weapons issue is important. [However] it is tangential to the overall issue of Israel's enemies possessing long range missile capability and other advanced technological weapons systems [such as anti-aircraft missiles]. Stemming the flow and technological upgrade of these rockets and missiles is a top priority for Israel’s military and intelligence community.” —Michael Ross, former Mossad operations officer. (Now Lebanon, Feb. 15, 2013)


“OPEC is about to collapse, and they know it. All the political power of the Arab world accumulated since 1973 is about to explode. This is a change in the global rules of the game that goes far beyond the borders of the Middle East. This process creates opportunities for a new energy world and sophisticated gas market with competition between the new oil and the old oil, between the new gas and the old gas. The new rules of the game will be set by the coordination of the economic interests of the US and China, and Israel should start getting ready for that.”Shraga Biran, a Tel Aviv-based lawyer and entrepreneur with diverse energy interests, who heads the Institute for Structural Reforms, a think tank that promotes structural and political reforms based on technological advances. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 15, 2013)


“So in addition to a piece of paper, we need actual security on the ground. This means that when we speak about our Palestinian neighbors, we must have a credibly, thoroughly demilitarized Palestinian state. We have to have that. Otherwise, we'll have a replication of what happened in Lebanon and in Gaza. And this is not a simple task. It requires very, very stringent conditions, and it requires very tough negotiations. And the second thing is: we want to have a peace that is based on mutual recognition. Mutual recognition means not only that we recognize them, but that they recognize us. We have the Jewish nation-state of Israel here. It's high time that the Palestinians recognize that.”Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a speech to the Jewish Agency Board of Governors.(Israel National News, Feb. 19, 2013)


“People tend to misunderstand the relationship between Hezbollah and Iran, which has changed over time [and] is now extremely close. The U.S. intelligence community has publicly described this as a “strategic partnership.” But people don’t fully appreciate Hezbollah’s ideological commitment to the concept of “velayat-e faqih,” or guardianship of the jurists, which holds that a Shiite Islamic cleric should also serve as supreme head of government. For Hezbollah, this means the Iranian leadership is also their leader — not for every foot soldier, but for Hezbollah’s senior leaders absolutely.”Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Council on Foreign Relations, Feb. 15, 2013)

“If Hamas takes positions in the [PA] government, it will be very difficult if they do not do what is necessary, including recognizing Israel, renouncing violence, and all of those other things that we regularly state.”Olivia Nuland, U.S. State Department spokesperson, to a reporter who asked if unity between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority would be a positive step following a recent declaration by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ that reconciliation talks with Hamas are progressing and that he will head a new unity government. (Jewish Press, Feb. 19, 2013


“I’m here because of the strategic and moral imperative to leave no stone unturned, to exhaust every path and to be in any government that commits itself to bringing peace.”—Tzipi Livni, former Israeli foreign minister, upon being the first to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition.


“Now, really, it’s time — it’s time. We are pressuring the international community to act because it’s time to act.”—Carla del Ponte, a United Nations human rights investigator, and member of the United Nations Human Rights Council commission investigating Syria, which reported that violence in Syria was worsening, “aggravated by increasing sectarianism”. (New York Times, Feb. 19, 2013)


“As currently defined and negotiated, a conflict-ending settlement is practically unachievable; even if signed it will not be implemented and even if implemented it will not be sustained.”—Hussein Agha, an adviser to Palestinian leaders over the last two decades, and Robert Malley, a member of President Clinton’s National Security Council, in the New York Review of Books (2009), as quoted by Dore Gold, former advisor to Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu. (Algemeiner, Feb. 18, 2013)


Top of Page




LIVNI BECOMES FIRST MEMBER OF NETANYAHU-LED GOV'T—(Jerusalem) Tzipi Livni became Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's first official coalition partner on Tuesday after the two former rivals reached an agreement over outstanding governmental issues for the upcoming Knesset. Livni will be Israel's next justice minister, while her party's number three, Amir Peretz, will be the environmental protection minister. Perhaps most importantly, Netanyahu apparently has allowed Livni to take charge of peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. She will also appoint a special staff for the talks, but as a caveat, Netanyahu's envoy Yitzhak Molcho will be a member of the negotiating team. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 19, 2013)



THOUSANDS OF CHRISTIAN ARMENIANS FLEE SYRIA—(Yerevan, Armenia) An estimated 7,000 of Syria's Christian-Armenian community have arrived in Armenia since the start of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad. Sarkiss Rshdouni escaped the fighting in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo months ago but cannot shake memories of what he witnessed. "I was with a friend when I heard gunshots," said Rshdouni, who is among hundreds of thousands of people who have fled the war in his country. "It was fast — second by second, the sound was getting closer. I saw mass shooting, people running." Aleppo is home to more than 80% of Syria's Armenian community, and those who are still there remain at the center of the battle for control of the country. (USA Today, Feb. 13, 2013)


BULGARIA SEEKS EU ACTION ON HEZBOLLAH (Brussels) Bulgaria's foreign minister, Nickolay Mladenov, called for Hezbollah to face consequences for its link to the July 2012 bus bombing in Burgas, adding momentum to a push by some European countries to isolate the Lebanese group. The Bulgarian government has linked Hezbollah's military wing to the bomb attack last July, which killed five Israelis and a local bus driver. Monday's call for action from the Bulgarians likely will add pressure on holdouts in the EU to take official action against Hezbollah. "We need to take measures to make sure that such activity doesn't go without consequences," Mladenov told reporters Monday on his way into a meeting of European Union foreign ministers. (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 18, 2013)


U.S. CALLS ON IRAN TO FREE TWO LEADERS (Washington) The U.S. formally called for the release from house arrest of Iran's two top opposition leaders in a blunt statement that indicated a policy shift regarding Tehran as it approaches national elections. The politicians, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, have been detained by Iranian security services for two years after charging the government of rigging 2009 presidential elections, in which both men were candidates and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner. The White House at the time offered only muted condemnation of Tehran's handling of the presidential vote. Iranian political and human-rights activists charged the U.S. with playing down the Iranian government's abuses. Now, however, the State Department warned Tehran against suppressing its political opponents ahead of Iran's next presidential election, which is scheduled for June. (Wall Street Journal, Feb 14, 2013)


IRANIAN REPORTED KILLED NEAR SYRIAN BORDER(Beirut) At least one senior Iranian official was reported killed in an attack while driving from Syria to Lebanon on Wednesday [Feb. 13],  in separate and at times conflicting reports that drew attention to suspicions of Iran’s role in the Syrian civil war. The Iranian Embassy in Lebanon reported that Hossam Khosh Newes, an Iranian development official working in Lebanon, was killed by “armed terrorist groups” — a phrase used by Syria and its allies as a blanket description of opposition forces — in an attack on his car on the Lebanese side of the border with Syria after he had come from Damascus. (New York Times, Feb. 13, 2013)


IRAN NUCLEAR FUEL MOVE MAY AVERT MID-YEAR CRISIS (London) Iran appears to have resumed converting small amounts of its higher-grade enriched uranium into reactor fuel, diplomats say, slowing a growth in stockpiles of material that could be used to make weapons. Tehran could otherwise have amassed sufficient stock by June to hit a "red line" set by Israel. Iran averted a potential crisis last year by converting around 100 kg. of its 20%-enriched uranium into fuel – prompting some analysts to believe it was deliberately keeping below the threshold for potential weapons-grade material set by Israel, while still advancing its nuclear technology. (Reuters, Feb. 10, 2013)

EGYPT BLOCKING SMUGGLING ROUTES IN SINAI(Rafah) Over the past 10 days, Egyptian soldiers have set up checkpoints in Sinai, stopped incoming trucks, and confiscated merchandise headed for Gaza through the smuggling tunnels, the Safa news agency reported Monday [Feb. 17]. Tunnel owners said the Egyptians have dug a well opposite the border with Gaza and installed hoses leading into the tunnels. Some tunnel owners have begun employing pumps to empty the water. Egyptian forces have discovered over 225 smuggling tunnels under the border with Gaza, military spokesperson Col. Ahmed Mohamed Ali said Sunday. "Each tunnel has several exits, including inside Egyptian houses." (Times of Israel, & Ma'an News-PA, Feb. 11, 2013)


ISRAEL PERMITS CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS FROM TURKEY INTO GAZA(Ankara) In a move described as a gesture of goodwill toward Turkey, Israel has authorized the passage of Turkish trucks through Gaza carrying materials for the construction of the Turkish-Palestine Friendship Hospital. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is expected to visit Gaza to inaugurate the hospital within a year. Permission for passage came as part of Israel’s decision to soften its embargo over Gaza after terminating military operations into the enclave last fall and starting a fresh round of talks between Israelis and Palestinians over a gradual lifting of sanctions under Egyptian mediation. (Hurriyet Daily News, Feb. 11, 2013 )

ARAB COUNTRIES WITHHELD DONOR MONEY BECAUSE OF P.A. REFUSAL TO NEGOTIATE WITH ISRAEL(Ramallah) According to Palestinian Al Quds media, several ‘heavyweight’ Arab countries have [reportedly] been pressuring PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas to step down because of his firm stance towards negotiations with Israel. Abbas and other PA officials have criticized Arab countries who pledged to donate $100.000.000 a month to alleviate the severe financial crisis in the Palestinian Authority. Until now that money has not arrived. Palestinian sources now reveal that the refusal to transfer these funds to the PA is connected to Abbas’ refusal to enter negotiations with Israel. (Missing Peace, Feb. 9, 2013)



The Russian meteor shower that caused widespread damage Friday [Feb. 15] smashed the stained glass windows of a synagogue in Siberia Friday morning. Yechiel Michel Levitin, director of the Or Avner Jewish day school in Chelyabinsk, located 1,000 miles east of Moscow, said a miracle saved one congregant from injury when he left his seat to find out the cause of blasts that were heard seconds before. When he returned, he found a piece of a stained glass window on his seat. (Jewish Press, Feb. 17, 2013)


ISRAEL TO AWARD OBAMA PRESTIGIOUS MEDAL DURING VISIT—(Jerusalem) Israel will award President Barack Obama the country's Presidential Medal of Distinction during his upcoming visit. Israeli President Shimon Peres' office said Monday that Obama will be recognized for his "unique and significant contribution to strengthening the State of Israel and the security of its citizens." Obama has often had a tense relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the Jewish state's West Bank settlement policies and the lack of peace process with the Palestinians. But Peres and the committee behind the award noted Obama's overall friendship and backing of the Iron Dome missile defense system. Israel's Presidential Medal of Distinction is comparable to the France's "Legion of Honor" or the "Order of Canada." (Newsmax, Feb. 18, 2013)

ISRAEL: NORTH KOREA NUCLEAR TEST SHOWS SANCTIONS ALONE WON'T STOP IRAN'S ATOMIC PROGRAM—(Jerusalem) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that North Korea's recent nuclear test shows that "sanctions alone will not stop" Iran's atomic program. He said Western sanctions against Tehran "have to be coupled with a robust, credible, military threat. If they are not, then there is no chance to stop them." He says Iran will top his agenda when President Barack Obama visits Israel next month. (Washington Post, Feb. 18, 2013)


IDF TO SET UP FIELD HOSPITAL ON SYRIAN BORDER—(Golan Heights) The Israel Defense Forces is preparing to erect a field hospital near Israel's border with Syria on the Golan Heights in order to treat wounded Syrian nationals. The decision was taken after Israeli troops evacuated seven wounded Syrians to an Israeli hospital after they had approached the border and appealed for help. The field hospital will enable Israel to provide further medical assistance without having to bring the Syrians into Israel for treatment. (Times of Israel, Feb. 19, 2013)

ISRAEL SUPPLIES TURKEY WITH NEW MILITARY EQUIPMENT—(Tel Aviv) Israel has supplied advanced electronic warfare systems to the Turkish Air Force, marking the first transfer of military equipment since relations between the two countries deteriorated in the wake of the Mavi Marmara incident in May 2010. The deal was confirmed on Monday by a senior Israeli defense source who said it was approved due to American pressure as well as Israeli attempts to improve relations with Turkey. Boeing, which supplied Turkey with four new Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, ordered electronic warfare systems for the Turkish aircraft from ELTA, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries. (Ha'aretz, Feb. 18, 2013)


ISRAEL PROPOSING ALTERNATIVE TO SUEZ CANAL—(Ashdod)  Israel is close to finalizing the route of a rail alternative to the Suez Canal as instability in Egypt has added to the urgency of a project to connect the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. Last month 40 people were killed in protests in the three big Egyptian cities lining the canal, and some shipping groups had to suspend work for several days. President Morsi has warned of a “collapse of the State” if protests continue. Fees for using the canal are Egypt’s only reliable source of foreign currency, bringing in about $5 billion (£3.22 billion) of revenue a year. (Times of London, Feb. 16 2013)

ASSAD REGIME FIRES SCUDS AT CITIES, FSA THREATENS HEZBOLLAH IN LEBANON—(Demascus)  While Syrian oppositionists are reporting the use of Scud missiles by the Assad regime against population centers held by rebel forces, the Free Syrian Army is threatening to attack Hezbollah within Lebanese territory if it does not desist from aiding the Assad regime. On Tuesday, the Free Syrian Army gave Hezbollah a 48-hour time-frame to stop shelling Syrian villages from within Lebanon before “returning fire” toward Hezbollah-held villages in eastern Lebanon. Hezbollah denied direct involvement in fighting within Syria, but a member of the FSA speaking to A-Sharq Al-Awsat said the Lebanese Shiite movement was assisting local Shiites in Syria with training, supplies and fire cover from positions within Lebanon. (Times of Israel, Feb. 20, 2013)


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The Time for a Final Status Agreement Has Passed: Dore Gold, Algemeiner, Feb. 18, 2013In light of developments over the last few years, there has been a growing realization in Israel that the chances of reaching a complete final status agreement with the Palestinians are presently extremely small. This is not just an ideological position coming out of certain quarters in Israel, but it is also the professional view of practitioners who have been involved in the political process itself.



Search For Jews Of Kaifeng: The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Video, Feb 14, 2013 A wave of interest in old traditions in China has had a major effect on the descendants of the ancient Jewish community of Kaifeng. This talk by scholar Gideon Elazar is based on a visit with the community in Kaifeng under the auspices of the organization "Shavei Yisrael" during the holiday of Sukkot, and an analysis of their history and current situation in the context of contemporary China.


The Hezbollah Connection in Syria and Iran: Bernard Gwertzman, Council on Foreign Relations,  February 15, 2013In recent days, U.S. and Mideast officials have reported that Iran and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite group, are making military preparations for the sectarian chaos likely to engulf a post-Assad Syria. Counterterrorism expert Matthew Levitt says that Hezbollah has closely aligned itself with Iran's Quds Force, an elite paramilitary group linked directly to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, while fighting alongside the Assad regime.



Ber Lazarus
, Publications Editor
 Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
/L'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme  Tel: (514) 486-5544 Fax: (514) 486-82843



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