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Is Syria On the Way to Becoming a ‘Frozen Conflict’?: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 26, 2015
The Second Conquest of Afghanistan: Max Boot, Commentary, Sept. 28, 2015
Some Part of Our System For Producing Intellectually Responsible Adults Has Failed Alex Johnstone: Colby Cosh, National Post, Sept. 24, 2015
The NDP’s Anti-Israel Grassroots: Pat Johnson, National Post, Aug. 20, 2015
SUKKOT (FEAST OF TABERNACLES) GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED, 2015
Jewish Press, Sept. 27, 2015
1. The US connection: Columbus Day is celebrated around Sukkot. According to “Columbus Then and Now” (Miles Davidson, 1997, p. 268), Columbus arrived in America on Friday afternoon, October 12, 1492, the 21st day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, the Jewish year 5235, the 7th day of Sukkot, Hosha’na’ Rabbah, a day of universal deliverance and miracles. Hosha’na’ Rabbah is celebrated 26 days following the beginning of the Creation, and 26 is the numerical value of Jehovah (יהוה). Hosha’ (הושע) is the Hebrew word for “deliverance” and Na’ (נא) is the Hebrew word for “please.” The numerical value of Na’ is 51 (נ=50 and א=1), and Hosha’na’ Rabbah is celebrated on the 51st day following Moses’ ascension to Mt. Sinai, which marks the conclusion of the repentance process (of Yom Kippur).
2. Sukkot – the 3rd Jewish pilgrimage, following Passover and Shavou’ot (Pentecost) – is a universal holiday, inviting all peoples to come on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, as expressed in the reading (Haftarah) of Zechariah 14: 16-19 on the first day of Sukkot: “Then, the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up [to Jerusalem] every year to worship the Lord Almighty and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.” According to the Sukkah tractate of the Mishnah (the oral Torah), the 70 sacrificial bulls of Sukkot represent the pilgrimage of 70 nations to Jerusalem; a demonstration of universal solidarity and comity. Sukkot expresses the yearning for universal peace, highlighting the Sukkah of Shalom (peace). Shalom is also one of the names of God. Shalem (שלם) – wholesome and complete in Hebrew – is the ancient name of Jerusalem and of 32 towns (Salem) in the USA.
3. Sukkot has been celebrated for the last 3,300 years, commemorating the Exodus, liberty, the 40 years of wandering in the Sinai Desert, the construction of the Holy Tabernacle, the victories along the way – and the reentry – into the Land of Israel, as well as the reaffirmation of faith in God; thanking God for redemption, the harvest and the ingathering, reality-based optimism and the recognition of human limits (humility).
4. The origin/statute of Sukkot, which is launched on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei (Leviticus 23: 42-43): “Live in Sukkot (temporary and military dwellings; a ritual hut) for seven days; all Israelites are to live in such dwellings, so your descendants will know that I settled the people of Israel in Sukkot when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” The first stop of the Exodus was in Sukkota in the Sinai Desert. The meaning of the Hebrew root of Sukkah (סכה) is “wholesomeness” and “totality” (סך), “shelter” (סכך), “to anoint” (סוך), “divine curtain” (מסך) and “attentiveness” (סכת).
5. The four species of Sukkot: “On the first day [of Sukkot], you will take for yourselves a fruit of a beautiful tree, palm branches, twigs of a braided tree and brook willows (Leviticus 23:40).” The 1 citron, 1 palm branch, 3 myrtle branches and 2 willow branches are bonded together, representing the unity through diversity of the Jewish people. They also represent the agricultural regions of the Land of Israel: the Negev and Arava (palm), the slopes of the Golan Heights, Upper Galilee and Mt. Carmel (myrtle), the streams of Judea, Samaria and the Galilee (willow) and the coastal plain (citron). They underline leadership prerequisites: solid backbone (palm branch), genuine humility (willow), compassionate heart (citron) and penetrating eyes (myrtle)…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
ENTER RUSSIA, EXIT U.S. CREDIBILITY
National Post, Sept. 29, 2015
The Western strategy on Syria is in ruins. The United States, Britain, Germany and NATO have accepted Russia propping up the bloody tyrant Bashar al-Assad and helping massacre his adversaries, not as part even of a bad plan but because they have no plan at all. The failure is largely an American failure. Its allies including Canada have neglected their defence budgets to the point that they cannot project force independently. So it’s America or bust. And bust it is.
Press accounts describe Russian President Vladimir Putin “forcing (U.S. President) Barack Obama to respond to bold moves on the geopolitical chess board,” as if the latter were a grandmaster grimly shoring up his position against one strategically cunning and tactically menacing stroke after another. But in fact Obama is not making any moves at all. The game seems to interest him so little there’s serious doubt whether he knows how the pieces move.
We suppose a “realist” case could be made for allowing a hostile Russia to overextend itself in a Middle Eastern quagmire, much as the Soviet Union did in Afghanistan — a case that neatly overlooks the appalling human cost of such realpolitik, and the inevitable strategic blowback that follows. Whatever the cost of intervention, it must be measured against the cost of non-intervention: in Syria, as the Economist recently put, the cost has been “half the population dead or running.”
We consider the Syrian civil war a humanitarian and strategic disaster that requires intervention to protect civilian populations against both sides, the brutal dictator Assad and the brutal Islamist ISIL. So do the humanitarian groups urging Canada to take the lead in imposing a no-fly zone in Syria. But nothing can be done without determined American backing. And right now the United States is not following a mistaken strategy. It is simply failing to act.
Bold words are occasionally spoken. But no serious plans are drawn up to back them. Instead, each fresh setback is dismissed as unimportant, while underlying realities are blithely denied. Russia is depicted as a strategic partner rather than an implacable opponent and Putin as a man with whom one can do business although no business done with him ever turns out well. Assad’s hatred of ISIL does not make him an acceptable partner morally or pragmatically, while Putin’s call for a broad anti-terror coalition is cover for Russian efforts to undermine Western interests in the Middle East as elsewhere.
Yes, if Russia succeeds in “pacifying” Syria it might even help stem the flood of refugees, as those not killed might be prevented from leaving, or persuaded to settle grimly amid the ruins. But it will not erase the evil Assad has done, from using chemical weapons to indiscriminate bombing of civilians. Nor will it erase the impression of Western paralysis, strategic and intellectual, its inability to respond to Russian offensives, beyond erecting a screen of misleading rhetoric around various faits accomplis. So it might be fitting, on the anniversary of the Munich Accord, to ponder what has traditionally come of Western fecklessness and make-believe respecting tyrannical ambitions regarding far-away countries about which we know little.
The Western strategy on Syria is in ruins. It is time to face it, and find a new one: bolder, more decisive and less shameful. America’s allies must rearm. And in the meantime, they must persuade Washington that dithering followed by appeasement is as bad as it sounds.
“In Syria, Iran is presented as part of the solution, when it is actually the problem…Iran supports [Syrian President Bashar] Assad enormously. Without Iran, there would be no Assad. The Assad regime survives thanks to Iran. The commander there is [Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards commander] Qassam Soleimani and his deputy commander is [Hezbollah Leader Sheikh] Hassan Nasrallah, and they do what needs to be done to preserve Assad.” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu intends to use his upcoming speech at the United Nations to tell the world that Iran remains the root cause for the unrest in the Middle East. (Times of Israel, Sept. 30, 2015)
“The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict (in Syria). But we must recognize that there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the pre-war status quo… Yes, realism dictates that compromise will be required to end the fighting and ultimately stamp out (ISIL). But realism also requires a managed transition away from Assad and to a new leader.” — U.S. President Barack Obama. Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin traded barbs Monday in speeches at the United Nations General Assembly. Their remarks highlighted the strained relations between the two nations and stark differences in their approaches to resolving the Syrian conflict. (National Post, Sept. 28, 2015)
“We think it is an enormous mistake to refuse to co-operate with the Syrian government and its armed forces, who are valiantly fighting terrorism face-to-face. We should finally acknowledge that no one but President Assad’s armed forces and Kurd militia are truly fighting the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in Syria.…We must join efforts to address the problems that all of us are facing on the basis of international law, and create a genuinely broad international coalition against terrorism. Similar to the anti-Hitler coalition, it could unite a broad range of forces that are willing to resolutely resist those who just like the Nazis sow evil and hatred of humankind.” — Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Washington Post, Sept. 25, 2015)
“(Putin) is not the one who needs a deal. He has time on his side. It is us who needs a deal more…Whatever happens in Syria, we know that he will probably be a part of it…Meanwhile, we see that he is attempting to steer the conversation away from Ukraine entirely.” — A senior Western diplomat in Moscow this week, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The diplomat said there is a growing appetite for dialogue with Putin about the Syrian crisis, particularly as Europe faces an unprecedented flood of migrants, many fleeing the war in Syria. (Washington Post, Sept. 25, 2015)
"The (Islamic State) terrorists plan on killing several hundred million people. The west is drastically underestimating the power of ISIS…They are the most brutal and most dangerous enemy I have ever seen in my life. I don't see anyone who has a real chance to stop them. Only Arabs can stop IS. I came back very pessimistic." —Jurgen Todenhofer, a veteran German journalist who became the first to gain access as an embedded reporter with Islamic State. Todenhofer released his findings in a book called "Inside IS – Ten Days in the Islamic State." (Arutz Sheva, Sept. 25, 2015)
“The initial aim was to train between 5,000 and 6,000 fighters, and then 12,000 more…It turns out that only 60 of these fighters have been properly trained, and as few as 4 or 5 people actually carry weapons, while the rest of them have deserted with the American weapons to join ISIS.” —Vladimir Putin, gloating over the failure of the American programme to train anti-Assad rebels to fight I.S. on the ground. (Telegraph, Sept. 27, 2015)
“It is all about the future…There is no life left in Syria.” — Mohammed Khadra, a Palestinian refugee from Damascus who deserted the Syrian Army and fled to Turkey with $470 zipped into the pocket of his track pants. The vast majority of the nearly half-million migrants and refugees who have entered Europe by sea this year have arrived from Turkey, according to the United Nations. Turkish officials say they strive to stop illegal migration and have detained 57,000 travelers and 107 human traffickers this year. (New York Times, Sept. 26, 2015)
"You can tell the world I hate Finland. It's too cold, there's no tea, no restaurants, no bars, nobody on the streets, only cars." —22-year-old Muhammed, an Iraqi migrant, in Tornio, Finland. Hundreds of predominantly Iraqi migrants who have travelled through Europe to reach Finland are turning back, saying they don't want to stay in the sparsely-populated country on Europe's northern frontier because it's too cold and boring. Anti-immigrant sentiment may also be prompting some migrants to leave Finland. Early Friday, around 40 demonstrators — including one dressed in a Ku Klux Klan outfit — threw fireworks at a bus transporting asylum seekers to a new reception centre in the southern city of Lahti. Prime Minister Juha Sipila, who has offered to personally shelter refugees in his home, called the protests racist. (Yahoo News, Sept. 25, 2015 & New York Times, Sept. 25, 2015)
“When you have something that is against the rights of women, against the rights of gays, subjugates other religions, and a host of things that are not compatible with our Constitution, why, in fact, would you take that chance?…What I would like for somebody to show me is an improved Islamic text that opposes Sharia…If you can show me that, I will begin to alter my thinking on this.” — Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson. Last week, Carson said that he “would not advocate” putting a Muslim in the White House. (New York Post, Sept. 27, 2015)
"Now, once again, Israel’s existence is imperiled by an empty agreement that will allow the Iranian radical regime to become a nuclear power and give it billions of dollars for increased terrorist activities. The ayatollahs who rule Iran proudly proclaim and are busy plotting the destruction of the Jewish state…At the crucial moment, when lines were being drawn, and commitments put to the test, every single vote for or against the deal could have been the one to turn the tide. Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz is the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee and had the power to influence this important vote one way or the other. She faced the same dilemma as Truman and Nixon, whether to give in to the powerful forces of the political establishment, or to stand up for what is true and right, and take the action necessary to ensure Israel’s safety. But what Wasserman-Schultz offered us was tears rather than action, emotion over substance. I have no doubt that she loves and cares about Israel. But who cares about her feelings? It’s what she does [vote for Obama's Iran deal] that matters." —Shmuley Boteach. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, announced on September 6 that she would support the nuclear agreement with Iran. (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 24, 2015)
TALIBAN SEIZE CONTROL OF KUNDUZ (Kabul) — Taliban militants seized control of most of the northern city of Kunduz, marking the first major Afghan city to fall to the insurgency in 14 years of war. Insurgents stormed the city from three sides early Monday, armed with AK-47 rifles and heavy machine guns and riding vehicles stolen from Afghan troops. The Taliban also stormed the prison in Kunduz, freeing more than 600 inmates—about 140 of whom are insurgents. The fall of the city marks a devastating blow to Afghanistan’s Western-backed government and its security forces, which have largely fought on their own since U.S. and allied forces mostly ended their combat role last year. (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 28, 2015)
HAJJ STAMPEDE DEATH TOLL RISES TO 769 (Riyadh) — The death toll in a stampede at the annual hajj pilgrimage outside Mecca rose to at least 769, Saudi Arabia said. The worst disaster to befall the Islamic event in a quarter of a century occurred on Thursday as two large groups of pilgrims arrived together at a crossroads in Mina, outside the holy city. Shia Iran, which is locked in a series of proxy wars in Arab countries around the Sunni Muslim kingdom, said that at least 136 Iranians are among the dead, sparking protests and outrage in IranIran. At the UN General Assembly, Iranian President Rouhani used his address to the summit to demand an investigation into the tragedy. (CBC, Sept. 26, 2015)
SAUDI-LED AIRSTRIKES ON YEMEN WEDDING KILL MORE THAN 100 CIVILIANS (Sana’a) — The death toll from Saudi-led airstrikes that hit a wedding party in Yemen has risen to 131, making it the deadliest single incident since the start of the country’s civil war. The UN says at least 2,355 civilians have been killed in fighting since March, when the coalition began launching airstrikes against Shiite Houthi rebels and allied army units, who control the capital and are at war with the internationally recognized government as well as southern separatists, local militias and Sunni extremists. The Saudi-led and US-backed coalition apparently struck the wedding party by mistake Monday in al-Wahga, a village near the town of Mokha. (New York Post, Sept. 29, 2015)
NEARLY A THIRD OF MIGRANTS IN GERMANY CLAIMING TO BE SYRIANS AREN’T FROM SYRIA (Berlin) — German officials said Friday that nearly a third of all asylum seekers arriving in Germany and claiming to be Syrian in fact come from other nations. So far this year, Germany has received 527,000 asylum seekers — more than any other nation in Europe. Tobias Plate, an Interior Ministry spokesman, acknowledged estimates Friday that roughly 30 percent of asylum seekers who claim to be from Syria are making erroneous claims, and come from other countries instead. Because of the civil war in that country, roughly 87 percent of Syrians are successfully winning asylum in Germany. (Washington Post, Sept. 25, 2015)
NDP CANDIDATE APOLOGIZES FOR NOT KNOWING WHAT AUSCHWITZ WAS (Ottawa) — Alex Johnstone, running in the federal election for the New Democratic Party (NDP), has apologized for a controversial remark she posted on social media several years ago, where she commented on a friend’s Facebook picture taken at the Auschwitz concentration camp museum that featured an electric fence and its curved concrete supports. "Ahhh, the infamous Pollish (sic), phallic, hydro posts," Johnstone’s comment reads. After the comment surfaced on satirical publication the True North Times, the Hamilton trustee claimed ignorance: “Well, I didn’t know what Auschwitz was, or I didn’t up until today.” Johnstone has temporarily stepped down from her role as vice-chairwoman of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. (CJN, Sept. 24, 2015)
LE PEN FACES TRIAL OVER MUSLIM NAZI COMPARISON (Paris) — Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s Front National (FN) party, will stand trial over historic comments she made comparing Muslim street prayers to the wartime occupation of France. Le Pen made the comments during her 2010 campaign to take over the FN’s leadership from the party founder, her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. According to France 24, when addressing a rally of supporters in Lyon she said: “I’m sorry, but for those who really like to talk about World War II, if we’re talking about an occupation, we could talk about the [street prayers], because that is clearly an occupation of territory.” (Breitbart, Sept. 23, 2015)
FOUR PALESTINIAN TEENS ARRESTED FOR DEADLY JERUSALEM ROCK ATTACK (Jerusalem) — Following an intensive multi-security agency search for the terrorists whose rock barrage led to the death of motorist Alexander Levlovitz in Jerusalem on Rosh Hashana, police announced that four Palestinian teenage suspects have been arrested. Levlovitz, a 64-year-old grandfather, died hours after losing control of his vehicle on the night of September 13 when its windshield was shattered by a rock thrown from an overpass. An investigation determined the rock was thrown by youths from the village of Sur Bahir. The four suspects are between the ages of 16 and 19 and are Israeli residents. (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 26, 2015)
SODASTREAM OFFERS TO HIRE 1,000 SYRIAN REFUGEES IN ISRAEL (Tel Aviv) — SodaStream International, the internationally-recognized producer of carbonated water machines, said that it will give 1,000 Syrian refugees jobs at its new factory. “As a son of a Holocaust survivor, I refuse to stand by and observe this human tragedy unfold right across our border,” CEO Daniel Birnbaum said. SodaStream originally operated out of Mishor Adumim, but BDS activists say they caused the company to leave Judea. In the process, the hundreds of Palestinians who worked in the factory lost their jobs. (Arutz Sheva, Sept. 20, 2015 & New York Post, Sept. 25, 2015)
TOURISM IN ISRAEL TRENDS BACK UPWARD IN 2015 (Tel Aviv) — Tourism in Israel in the past year has made a reported comeback from a downward spiral during and shortly after Operation Protective Edge last Summer. Many countries including the United States briefly banned flights from traveling to Israel, out of concern that planes were vulnerable to rocket fire from Gaza. Data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics show an increase in tourist entries for August 2015 compared to August 2014. This past August, there were approximately 213,000 tourists, which was 45% more than there were in August 2014. (Jewish Press, Sept. 27, 2015)
Is Syria On the Way to Becoming a ‘Frozen Conflict’?: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 26, 2015 — The latest moves on the regime side in the Syrian war suggest an effort by its allies, including Russia, to “freeze” the conflict rather than to continue it to victory. This is because victory in the form originally conceived of – the reconquest of the entirety of the country by the Assads – is clearly no longer achievable.
The Second Conquest of Afghanistan: Max Boot, Commentary, Sept. 28, 2015 —What used to be known as the Global War on Terrorism seems to be lurching from one defeat after another. In the Middle East, ISIS has taken control of cities from Palmyra to Mosul. Libya and Yemen and Syria and large swathes of Iraq have no effective governance, leaving their territory to be fought over between competing terrorist groups.
Some Part of Our System For Producing Intellectually Responsible Adults Has Failed Alex Johnstone: Colby Cosh, National Post, Sept. 24, 2015 —The many-tentacled social media terror stalking our federal election candidates has made an appearance in Hamilton, Ont., striking indirectly but fiercely at NDP candidate and school trustee Alex Johnstone. On Tuesday, a satirical website called True North Times uncovered a 2008 Facebook comment in which Johnstone had cracked an inopportune penis joke under a friend’s photo of a concrete fence post at the reconstructed Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.
The NDP’s Anti-Israel Grassroots: Pat Johnson, National Post, Aug. 20, 2015 —Part of the Conservative party’s strategy against the New Democrats in this election includes the website Meetthendp.ca, which aggregates controversial statements by NDP candidates. Already the site has led to one Nova Scotia New Democrat being relieved of his candidacy — and presumably the Tories are saving their best fodder for later in the long campaign.