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Obama’s Syria Debacle: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Oct. 1, 2015
The Syrian Disaster Just Got Even Worse: National Post, Oct. 5, 2015
‘PA Instability Adding to Unrest’: Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 7, 2015
The Impossible Abbas: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, Oct. 4, 2015
“President Obama has said that he is committed to preventing dangerous weapons coming into the hands of Iran's proxies, that he wants to prevent Iran from destabilizing countries in the Middle East…There is no better partner for that than Israel.” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The premier explained that the two countries must now work together to contain Tehran’s aggression in the region and ensure its compliance with the deal to curb its nuclear program. Israel, he said, is the most powerful country that stands in the breach of a collapsing region. “The one party that is standing there 10 miles from ISIS, a few hundred yards from Iran's murderous proxies, is Israel. Now, we're protecting ourselves. But in so doing, we're also protecting the neighborhood." (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 4, 2015)
"Targets hit are not in areas where Islamic State operates…Thus, strikes not about fighting Islamic State but instead about helping increasingly weak Assad government." — Robert Ford, a former U.S. ambassador to Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch airstrikes last week in Syria caught world leaders still debating a common approach to the conflict off-guard. While Russia insists that its initial targets were I.S. militants, U.S. and European leaders openly questioned whether the attacks were instead taking aim at other opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad, a long-time Putin ally. (National Post, Oct. 1, 2015)
"What is for certain is that the Western officials are lost, lack clarity of vision and are feeling the failure of their plots (toward Syria)…The only goal that was realized … is the destruction of much infrastructure in Syria, shedding lots of blood…In reality, they are the biggest contributor for reaching this stage by supporting terrorism and imposing a siege on Syria…They attack terrorism but they are terrorists in their policies either by imposing the siege of by supporting the terrorists." — Syria's President Bashar Assad. Assad said that the air campaign by Russia against "terrorists" in his country must succeed or the whole region will be destroyed, stressing that the fight against terrorism must precede a political process. In the interview with Iran's Khabar TV, Assad also accused Western nations of fueling the refugee crisis and said the U.S.-led coalition to fight I.S. will only spark more instability in his country and the region. (Ottawa Citizen, Oct. 5, 2015)
“An air campaign alone won’t do the job. You will need ground forces to fight Islamic State. Through an air campaign you can pulverize the enemy, but you cannot control the land.” — Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a former NATO secretary-general. Although Western military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya were problematic, “look at Syria and you will see that inaction is more costly,” he said. “While action may not be perfect, inaction may be more costly.” Rasmussen underlined that Canada has obligations to the international community. “We can’t expect other countries to do the job and be free riders ourselves. I would strongly regret if Canada were to withdraw from its international commitments…We can’t just be consumers of security. We also have to be producers of security,” he said. (Globe & Mail, Oct. 2, 2015)
“I know there is a major battle upon us and everything needed for this battle will be made available. There is a plan to carry out offensive operations in more than one spot.” — Wiam Wahhab, a former Lebanese minister allied to Iran and Assad. Wahhab stressed that Iran wouldn’t be dispatching troops in the conventional sense. Instead, they were likely to be officers and advisers from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC. Experts believe Iran has some 7,000 IRGC members and paramilitary volunteers operating in Syria already. Since late 2012 Iran has played a lead role in organizing, training and funding local pro-regime militias in Syria, many of them members of Assad’s Alawite minority. Experts believe they number between 150,000 and 190,000—possibly more than what remains of Syria’s army. Some experts estimate 20,000 Shiite foreign fighters are on the ground, backed by both Shiite Iran and its main proxy in the region Hezbollah. (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 2, 2015)
“It did not have to be this way – but this is the inevitable consequence of hollow words, red lines crossed, tarnished moral influence, leading from behind and a total lack of American leadership,” —Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, long a fierce critic of Obama, hours after the Russian warplanes attacked in Syria. For Obama, the Russian leader’s military gambit creates an unwelcome dynamic and will fuel accusations by domestic critics that the U.S. President’s dithering on Syria allowed the violence to worsen and spread. (Globe & Mail, Sept. 30, 2015)
“We in Germany are rapidly approaching the limits of what we can do…Many places in Germany are already overwhelmed.” — German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, head of the left-of-center Social Democrats. Four weeks after Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the doors to refugees and Germans welcomed them with applause and food, worries are mounting that the country has been overwhelmed. (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 2, 2015)
“It is simply too much…But the worst thing is how poorly organized everything is.” — Karin Pahlitzsch, a 57-year-old teacher in the eastern German city of Dresden. In a country that prizes order, polls show that Germans are losing faith that their government is up to the task of managing the influx as the news media show chaotic scenes of migrants sleeping outside and police responding to fights at shelters. (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 2, 2015)
“Until summer, the refugees were thankful to be here with us…(Now, some) go on strike because they don’t like their shelter, they make trouble because they don’t like the food, they fight in the asylum-seeker facilities.” —German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière. Germany-based Islamists have been approaching migrants, particularly minors traveling alone, de Maizière said Friday after meeting with security officials. Intelligence agencies have warned that I.S. jihadists could try to sneak into Germany with the migrants. (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 2, 2015)
“An election is an excellent time to debate Canada’s position in the world. But it is no time to talk nonsense about it, including harking back to a golden age before Prime Minister Stephen Harper “ruined everything.” It is especially not a good time for members of the public service to be weighing in on the topic, overtly or covertly. Consider the documents prepared by senior Foreign Affairs personnel for a deputy-ministerial meeting last month that somehow (oops) got leaked, claiming “Canada’s overall engagement on democracy, governance and human rights has declined significantly in recent years,” while “our influence has eroded … compromising our ability to effect positive change,” and so on. Partisanship in members of the public service is always a bad idea. It compromises their integrity, undermines public confidence in their impartiality and creates friction with their political masters that gums up the machinery of government…Which brings us to a particularly disquieting feature of this whole line of attack: the extent to which, if you peel back the surface sentimentality, it hinges on distaste for the Harper government’s unwavering rhetorical support for Israel. How controversial is it that we do not maintain a balanced pose over Ukraine, or trouble in sub-Saharan Africa?” — Editorial (National Post, Oct. 7, 2015)
“A people whose leader encourages murder will never have a state and this must be stated clearly.” —Israeli Cabinet minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party. Prime Minister Netanyahu on Friday demanded that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his government explicitly condemn the murder of an Israeli settler couple by suspected Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank. The attack comes on the heels of a series of Palestinian rock and firebomb attacks that have prompted Israel to vow to quash such threats. It also followed a hard-line speech at the United Nations by Abbas, the last of several that Israeli leaders have condemned as incitement. Abbas has said that Israelis desecrate a Jerusalem holy site, the Temple Mount, with their “dirty feet” and charged that Israel was committed to the “ethnic cleansing” of his people. (National Post, Oct. 3, 2015)
"So Israel must understand that what it is doing is a crime as it relates to human rights, which is compounded by the hundreds of crimes it has committed against the Palestinian people…What is taking place at al-Aksa mosque is a crime against the entire Islamic world…It's not just limited to the Palestinian question. So Israel needs to take a different approach. It's playing with fire, and it will pay a price in different places and in different ways, because people's thresholds are limited." —Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan warned that Israel was engaging in behavior on the Temple Mount that amounted to "subversiveness and treachery." Erdogan said that "the struggle over the mosque doesn't belong just to Muslims but also to Christians." Israeli security forces and Palestinian rioters have clashed on Temple Mount in recent weeks. The government has accused the Palestinians of fanning the flames and inciting young Palestinians to cause trouble at al-Aksa mosque, while Jordan – which views itself as the custodian of the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem – has accused Israel of conducting unnecessary raids. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 3, 2015)
“The name is al-Aqsa, not the Temple Mount, and there is nothing there for Jews…It’s a place for Muslims only, according to all the agreements signed after the occupation of Jerusalem, and the agreements between Jordan and Israel. The Israelis understood that they occupied Jerusalem but are not allowed to occupy Al-Aqsa; now they are trying to occupy Al-Aqsa too.” —Israeli Arab Knesset member Hanin Zoabi. The Arab lawmaker, a member of the Joint Arab List, told a Hebrew-language newspaper there is no proof Jews have a connection to the site. Where in Jerusalem should Jews pray? Zoabi was asked. Her response: “I don’t know, I am not an historian, but in any case there is no place for Jews at Al-Aqsa.” (Jewish Press, Oct. 4, 2015)
"We are all impressed with what he has done…The day after the attack, university students took to the streets and clashed with Israeli soldiers. Mohannad's way is the only way to liberate Palestine." —Malik Hussein, a 19-year-old law student at Al-Quds University near Jerusalem. A new generation of angry, disillusioned Palestinians is driving the current wave of clashes with Israeli forces. Some young Palestinians say they want to emulate those killed or wounded in confrontations or attacks on Israelis — like Mohannad Halabi, the 19-year-old law student from the West Bank who stabbed to death two Israelis in a bloody rampage in Jerusalem's Old City over the weekend before being shot dead by police. (CBC, Oct. 7, 2015)
"If Abbas is against us … we will reject his words and start the intifada…We don't want any leaders here to show us what to do." — Bassel Obeida, a 21-year-old “Palestinian” protester. Obeida said the unrest would continue regardless of the decisions of the Palestinian leadership. Many of the protests appeared to be spontaneous, or arranged informally via social media, rather than by the two main Palestinian factions, Abbas' Fatah and its main rival, Hamas. A senior Hamas official in the West Bank said his group encourages confrontation with Israel in principle, but doesn't want to send too many activists into the protests because of concerns they might be arrested by Israel or Abbas' security forces. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions. (CBC, Oct. 7, 2015)
ISRAELI MOTHER AND FATHER SHOT DEAD IN WEST BANK TERROR ATTACK (Jerusalem) — An Israeli mother and father were killed in a shooting attack on their vehicle Thursday night in the northern West Bank. The couple, identified as Eitam and Naama Henkin of the settlement of Neria north of Ramallah, leaves behind four children — aged 4 months, 4, 7 and 9 — who were in the vehicle at the time of the attack, but were not hit by the gunfire. (Times of Israel, Oct. 1, 2015)
TERRORIST KILLS TWO, WOUNDS TODDLER AND MOTHER IN CAPITAL'S OLD CITY (Jerusalem) — A Palestinian terrorist murdered two Jewish men and wounded a mother and son in Jerusalem in a Saturday stabbing and shooting spree, before he was shot dead by police. The victims were Rabbi Nehemia Lavie, 41, an Old City resident, and Aharon Benita from Beitar Illit. The toddler’s mother, 22, was in critical condition. The incident began when the knife-wielding Arab attacked the couple and their toddler son, as well as Lavie, as they walked past Lion’s Gate, en route to the Western Wall. The attack comes amid heightened tension in the capital, and less than 48 hours after terrorists murdered Naama and Eitam Henkin as they drove in Samaria. Hamas lauded Saturday’s Old City killer as a “hero.” (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 3, 2015)
5-MAN HAMAS CELL THAT KILLED NAAMA & EITAM HENKIN ARRESTED (Jerusalem) — Israeli security forces have arrested the Palestinian terror cell that carried out the murders of Naama and Eitam Henkin in the West Bank on Thursday, the Shin Bet security service said Monday evening. The five cell members are Hamas members from Nablus, the Shin Bet said. The Abdel Qader al-Husseini Brigades, a group affiliated with Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, had claimed that it carried out the attack. In fact, said the Shin Bet, Hamas was to blame. It was not clear whether the killing was organized higher up the Hamas hierarchy. The suspects claimed to have carried out the killing in revenge for the firebombing of a Palestinian home in Duma two months ago, in which three people were killed. That attack was allegedly the work of Jewish terrorists. (Times of Israel, Oct. 5, 2015)
ISRAEL VOWS ‘HARSH OFFENSIVE’ TO WAVE OF PALESTINIAN VIOLENCE (Jerusalem) — A series of grisly Palestinian attacks that killed several Israelis has prompted the government to take unprecedented security measures amid growing public debate over whether the specter of another Intifada, or uprising, is on the horizon. Israel’s prime minister vowed a “harsh offensive” to counter rising violence that has focused in recent weeks over Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site sacred to both Muslims and Jews, in a series of Palestinian attacks against Israelis. On Sunday, Israel announced that Palestinians would be temporarily barred from Jerusalem’s Old City, the first time Israel has taken this step since it captured the Old City in the 1967 War. (National Post, Oct. 4, 2015)
UN CHIEF CONDEMNS KILLINGS OF PALESTINIANS, WITHOUT MENTION OF ISRAELI TERROR VICTIMS (Geneva) — UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon expressed his concern over the recent surge in tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, condemning the killings of Palestinians without mention of Israeli victims. Ban said he is "profoundly alarmed by the growing number of deadly incidents in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem." Ban acknowledged the death of four Palestinians, referring to a 13-year-old boy whom the IDF said was accidentally killed by misfire and three terrorists who were killed by security forces following attacks that killed four Israelis. Ban's statement made no specific mention of the four Israeli causalities in terrorist shootings and stabbing over the past week, nor did he mention steps the PA should take. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 6, 2015)
PALESTINIAN BABY NAMED AFTER TERRORIST HOURS AFTER HE STABBED TWO PEOPLE TO DEATH (Jerusalem) — A Palestinian baby was named after terrorist Muhannad Halabi just hours after he stabbed the two Israelis Nehemia Lavie and Aharon Benita to death in Jerusalem three days ago. WAFA, the official Palestinian Authority news agency and the official PA daily both reported on the joyous naming. Both sources described the killer who murdered the two Israelis and also stabbed a mother and her baby as a "hero of our people," who was "murdered by the occupation army." Muhannad Halabi killed the two Israelis in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem on Oct. 3. Following the attack, he was shot and killed by Israeli security forces. (Palestinian Media Watch, Oct. 6, 2015)
ISRAEL’S GAZA BORDER SECURITY FENCE COMPLETED (Gaza) — A new security fence complete with high-tech sensors has been completed along Israel’s southern border with Gaza, the Defense Ministry announced. The information may help residents of the Gaza Belt communities feel safer: infiltration by Gaza terrorists will not be nearly as easy since completion of the fence, although the measure will not stop rocket or mortar attacks. Improvements included a three-year budget for fence maintenance as well as additional security equipment. There are 12 Jewish communities that form a ring of protection for Israel along the Gaza border. (Jewish Press, Oct. 6, 2015)
MERKEL APPROVAL RATING DROPS TO FOUR-YEAR LOW ON REFUGEE CRISIS (Berlin) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s approval rating dropped to the lowest in almost four years in a monthly poll that suggests voters’ welcome for hundreds of thousands of refugees is exhausted. The share of Germans who are satisfied with Merkel’s handling of her job fell 9 percentage points to 54 percent in the poll, the lowest since December 2011. The backlash reflects the political risks of Merkel’s decision to open Germany for war refugees from Syria, which prompted some of her European Union partners and a growing array of domestic allies to accuse her of encouraging the influx of asylum seekers. (Bloomberg, Oct. 2, 2015)
GERMANY'S JEWISH COMMUNITY HEAD FEARS MIGRANTS' ANTISEMITISM (Berlin) — Josef Schuster, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, expressed fear about increased antisemitism due to the attitudes of Muslim migrants entering the country. Schuster called on Muslim organizations and communities to help integrate immigrants into German society. The Central Council of German Jews has 100,500 members. Germany has more than 4,000,000 Muslims, most of whom are of Turkish origin. Germany expects a million refugee-seekers to arrive in 2015. Most of them are from Muslim-majority countries such as Syria and Afghanistan. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 4, 2015)
COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GERMAN MAYOR FOR ANTI-ISRAEL HATE (Jena) — Andreas Neumann, a German Jew, filed a criminal complaint against the mayor of Jena, Albrecht Schröter, alleging he incited hatred toward Israelis because of his call to boycott products from Israel and blaming Israel for the Syrian refugee crisis. Schröter was criticized last month after he said Israel is partially responsible for the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe. Schröter, a social democrat, called on Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to “show less restraint” toward Israel. Schröter is currently in Ramallah working on a city partnership between Jena and the PA. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 2, 2015)
ISLAMIC STATE DESTROYS PALMYRA’S TRIUMPHAL ARCH (Damascus) — I.S. extremists have blown up the famous Arch of Triumph in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra. I.S. has carried out a sustained campaign of destruction against heritage sites in areas under its control in Syria and Iraq, and in August beheaded the city’s 82-year-old former antiquities chief. The jihadists have already destroyed the shrine of Baal Shamin and the 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel, regarded as Palmyra’s masterpiece, since overrunning the citadel in May. Activists said the city has also been damaged by heavy bombardment from barrel bombs dropped by Syrian government forces. (Times of Israel, Oct. 5, 2015)
CONTROVERSIAL IMAM TO SPEAK IN MONTREAL (Montreal) — A controversial imam who has been forbidden from preaching in his native Tunisia is not welcome at Université Laval in Quebec City either. But Béchir Ben Hassen will speak in Montreal at an event sponsored by Muslim and Tunisian groups — as well as the U.S. government, organizers say — on preventing radicalization. Ben Hassen is by all accounts a Salafist, with radical views on Islam, women and politics, who was one of several imams dismissed from leading their mosques after the terrorist attacks in Tunisia in June. In January eight youths from Montreal left Canada, allegedly to join groups in Syria, and in May another 10 youths attempted to leave but were stopped at the airport after one of the parents alerted the police. (Montreal Gazette, Sept. 30, 2015)
NB: Concordia University Institute for Canadian Jewish Studies has published: The Future of the Past: the Jewish Public Library of Montreal, 1914-2014, edited by Ira Robinson, Rivka Augenfeld, and Karen Biskin. The 97 page book is number 8 in the Institute's series of Chapbooks in Canadian Jewish Studies. It contains the proceedings of the October 26, 2014 conference, co-sponsored by the Institute, celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the founding of Montreal's Jewish Public Library.
Obama’s Syria Debacle: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Oct. 1, 2015 —If it had the wit, the Obama administration would be not angered, but appropriately humiliated. President Obama has, once again, been totally outmaneuvered by Vladimir Putin. Two days earlier at the United Nations, Obama had welcomed the return, in force, of the Russian military to the Middle East — for the first time in decades — in order to help fight the Islamic State.
The Syrian Disaster Just Got Even Worse: National Post, Oct. 5, 2015 —It is not hard to understand what Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to do in Syria. It will be very hard to stop him from succeeding. It did not need to be this way.
‘PA Instability Adding to Unrest’: Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 7, 2015 —The Palestinian Authority’s instability is one of the main factors contributing to the current wave of unrest, a senior security source said Tuesday, hours before IDF officers and representatives of the PA’s security forces met to try and lower the level of violence in the West Bank.
The Impossible Abbas: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, Oct. 4, 2015 —Benjamin Netanyahu can’t be an easy prime minister for Mahmoud Abbas to deal with. Unlike, say, Ehud Olmert.