WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP— YOM YERUSHALAYIM SAMEACH!

 

 

 

Weekly Quotes

 

When I was overseas…I kept remembering one verse: ‘Chazak Chazak v’Nitchazek.’ [Be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened].… We need that strength every day of the year. We’re undergoing a great struggle but we also have some great achievements. Forty-four years ago, Israel’s soldiers fulfilled the vision of the prophets and brought back Jerusalem to its proper place.… Today Jerusalem is beautiful and is a pride to the entire country. We came back to Jerusalem as builders, and today Jerusalem is growing and flourishing.… We see how the citizens of Jerusalem walk in it proudly. Jerusalem has once again become the capital of the Jewish people.… There’s nothing more holy to us than Jerusalem. We’ll keep Jerusalem, we’ll keep its unity.… We’ll protect Jerusalem and Jerusalem will protect us. I say to you not just Chag Sameach [happy holiday], but L’Shana Haba’a BiYerushalyim Habenuya Yoter [Next year in Jerusalem which is built even more]!”—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a Jerusalem Day address marking the 44th anniversary of the unification of the Jewish people’s Eternal capital, reaffirming the nation of Israel’s historical connection to the Holy city, and declaring that Jerusalem will forever remain the undivided capital of Jewish state. (Arutz Sheva, June 1.)

 

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and ministers…today, the Cabinet will pass decisions to invest [in Jerusalem] approximately NIS 400 million in infrastructures, tourism and bio-technology. We want to turn Jerusalem into a global bio-technology center. We will provide study grants and scholarships for discharged soldiers in Jerusalem. We will rehabilitate heritage sites that are important to the State of Israel and our people. The Government and the people are bound as one to build up Jerusalem, the heart of the nation, and this commitment to Jerusalem is one of the foundations of the unity of the Jewish People.”—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a weekly cabinet meeting, announcing the government’s plan to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Jerusalem-based projects to strengthen the city’s global position, and reinforce the Jewish people’s presence in its historical capital. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, May 29.)

 

The following story illustrates Israel’s dilemma. A Palestinian woman from Gaza arrives at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba for lifesaving skin treatment for burns over half her body. After the conclusion of her extensive treatment, the woman is invited back for follow-up visits to the outpatient clinic. One day she is caught at the border crossing wearing a suicide belt. Her intention? To blow herself up at the same clinic that saved her life. What kind of culture leads one to do that? Sadly, it is a culture infused with resentment and hatred. It is this culture that underlies the Palestinians’ and the broader Arab world’s refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. This is the root of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It is not about the ‘67 lines. And until Israel’s enemies come to terms with this reality, a true peace will be impossible.…”—U.S.House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, conveying a true story during his speech to the AIPAC policy conference in Washington on May 22, and attributing the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a pervasive hatred of Israel, disseminated and subsequently internalized by Arab populations throughout the Middle East. (Wall Street Journal, May 25.)

 

Corporal Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas in 2006 from Israeli territory by a squad of Hamas kidnappers who entered Israel specifically for the purpose. He is thus completely unlike Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, all of whom have been tracked down, charged and convicted in duly appointed courts of law for their criminal, murderous terrorist acts. Corporal Gilad Shalit is guilty of no crime—he was simply unfortunate enough to be seized by Hamas. This is the act of a criminal gang. Now, however, it is no longer only the act of a single criminal gang.… When Nabil Shaath foreshadows that the PA, once having come into authority over all Palestinians in Gaza, will not immediately free Shalit but, on the contrary, will use him as bargaining chip, he tells the world that Fatah [and the PA] are no different from Hamas as a criminal, terrorist outfit…[and] must be rigorously sanctioned and isolated. As a start, the U.S. must cease all funding to the PA at once.”—Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) National President Morton A. Klein, following senior Palestinian Authority official Nabil Shaath’s declaration that the PA will continue to hold hostage abducted Israeli solider Gilad Shalit in order to negotiate his release in exchange for jailed Palestinian terrorists, condemning, profusely, the Palestinian leadership, and calling on the U.S. government to immediately suspend its funding of the Palestinian Authority. (ZOA website, May 27.)

 

With the Egyptian decision to permanently open the Rafah Border Terminal that links Gaza with Egypt without the presence of international observers, it is appropriate to consider what are Egypt’s treaty obligations with Israel relating to the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip that may be used against the Jewish State. Article III 2 of the Peace Treaty Between Israel and Egypt of March 26, 1979 obligates Egypt ‘to refrain from…assisting…in acts or threats of belligerency, hostility, subversion or violence against the other Party, anywhere, and undertakes to ensure that perpetrators of such acts are brought to justice.’ The smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip constitutes such ‘assisting’ and Egypt is thus obligated under the treaty to prevent such smuggling and to bring the smugglers ‘to justice.’ It should be noted that while [third-party] observers were to ensure that the agreement is honored, a memorandum between the US and Israel commits the US to support Israel in the case that Egypt violates the treaty.”—Dr Aaron Lerner, Director of Independent Media Review and Analysis, outlining Egypt’s violation of the 1979 peace treaty with Israel due to its decision to open up the Rafah border crossing to Gaza without putting into place the necessary security measures to prevent an influx in the smuggling of weaponry to the Hamas-governed Strip. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, May 26.)

 

I proudly announce that we are ready to give all our experiences to the Egyptian nation.… Our enemies do not want us rebuild our ties because they know a great political and economic power will emerge from our cooperation.… If we stand together, there is no need for their [American] help because Iran and Egypt have needs which can be met by relying on each other’s capabilities.”—Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, at a meeting with Egyptian academics, clerics and media representatives in Tehran, pushing his plan to rebuild links with Cairo after the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and affirming that the emergence of a new “great power” would force “Zionists along with other enemies of nations [to] leave and escape this region.” (Ynet News, June 1.)

 

For a president to be sitting in Washington, D.C., and saying, go back to your ‘67 borders in Israel, how about you live there and try to defend an indefensible border nine miles wide? When you grow up you find out that life isn’t the way you imagined it.… If you’ve never been to the moon, you can’t issue policy about the moon. You have no f***king idea what it’s like on the moon.… He has no f***king idea what the world is like because he doesn’t have to live there.”—Front-man of the legendary rock group KISS, Gene Simmons, who was born in Israel as Chaim Witz, in an interview with CNBC, calling U.S. President Barack Obama “naïve” for demanding that Israel withdraw to the “1967 borders” as a pre-condition for negotiations with the Palestinians. The vocalist, who is fluent in Hebrew, visited Israel for the first time this past March since leaving as a child. (Jerusalem Post, May 28.)

Short Takes

CANADA TAKES FIRM PRO-ISRAEL STANCE AT G8 SUMMIT—(Deauville, France) Group of Eight leaders have altered a statement pressuring Israel to return to negotiations with the Palestinians because Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper vehemently opposed any mention in the leaders’ final communique to Israel’s 1967 borders. “The Canadians were really very adamant, even though Obama expressly referred to the 1967 borders in his speech last week,” one European diplomat said. In response, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman phoned his Canadian counterpart John Baird to thank Prime MinisterHarper for his pro-Israel stance; during the conversation Lieberman said that “Canada is a true friend of Israel.” (Reuters, May 27 & Jerusalem Post, May 28.)

 

UNSC RECOMMENDATION NEEDED FOR PALESTINIAN STATE—(Jerusalem) In an unprecedented development, UN General Assembly President Joseph Deiss has affirmed that a Palestinian state will not become a member of the United Nations without a unanimous recommendation from the Security Council. According to Deiss, if the US or any other permanent council member uses its veto to oppose Palestinian statehood, then the General Assembly will not be able to vote on membership for a Palestinian state, as such would violate the UN Charter. According to the Charter, a prospective UN member state is required to fill out a formal application stating its adherence to the Charter, the 15-member Security Council must then make a recommendation that requires nine “yes” votes and no veto by a permanent member, and only then can the General Assembly vote to admit the state, which must be approved by a two-thirds majority. (Jerusalem Post, May 27.)

 

PALESTINIANS PREPARE FOR ‘NAKSA’ MARCHES ON BORDERS—(Jerusalem) Following the example of this month’s Nakba Day marches, Palestinians and their supporters are preparing to launch another multipronged assault on Israel’s borders next week to mark the “Naksa,” or setback, the Arab defeat and territorial losses in the 1967 Six Day War. The website “Third Palestinian Intifada” has posted detailed plans for marches on Israel’s borders with Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Gaza, on three separate dates before and during the war’s anniversary. The group’s “plan of action” calls for mass rallies on June 3, 5 and 7—the Friday leading up to the Six Day War anniversary, the date on which the war began, and the date Israeli troops took Jerusalem, respectively. Thirteen people were killed this past May 15th (Nakba Day)w hile trying to breach Israel’s borders. (Jerusalem Post, May 31.)

 

KEY JEWISH DONOR BREAKS WITH OBAMA—(New York) One of the most important Democratic donors of the past two decades has indicated that he will not contribute to President Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012, because of the administration’s stance on Israel. Billionaire financier Haim Saban told CNBC that Obama hasn’t done enough to show support for Israel. “I’m very perplexed as to why the president, who’s been to Cairo, to Saudi Arabia, to Turkey, has not made a stop in Israel and spoken to the Israeli people,” Saban said. “I believe that the president can clarify to the Israeli people what his positions are on Israel and calm them down. Because they are not calm right now.” Others large democratic donors are expected to follow Saban’s example. (Contentions, May 25.)

 

UNIFIL BOMBERS ALSO MEANT TO LAUNCH ROCKETS INTO ISRAEL—(Jerusalem) Lebanese newspaper Al-Safir has reported that the recent bombing of a UNIFIL vehicle in Ramileh, Lebanon was potentially part of a broader operation which included launching rockets into Israel. The bombing, which resulted in the death of one Italian soldier, raises additional questions regarding the power vacuum that has plagued the Lebanese political spectrum for the last number of month, due to Prime Minister-designate Najib Mitaki’s inability to form a ruling coalition. According to Al-Safir, Hezbollah is suspected of having coordinated the attack; however a conflicting report by Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar claims that Syria was behind the bombing, to steer attention away from the country’s own deepening crisis. (Jerusalem Post, May 30.)

 

SYRIAN RESIDENTS FIGHT BACK GOV’T TROOPS FOR FIRST TIME—(Jerusalem) Syrian residents have fought back for the first time against government troops in a two-month-old uprising against the rule of President Bashar Assad. According to reports, residents of Talbiseh and Rastan, in the central Syrian province of Homs, used automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades to fend off advancing troops, raising fears that the uprising may turn into a “Libya-style” armed conflict. Commenting on the intensifying conflict, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that the brutality and repression in Syria against anti-government protesters is “shocking,” and urged the Syrian government to permit a UN-fact finding mission to enter the country. (Jerusalem Post, May 31.)

 

MUBARAK FINED $33M. FOR CUTTING PHONES DURING PROTESTS—(Cairo) An Egyptian court has fined former President Hosni Mubarak 200 million Egyptian pounds for cutting off mobile and internet services during the January protests that led to his ouster. It was the first court ruling to be made against Mubarak since he left office on Feb. 11. At least 800 people died during 18 days of protests that toppled Mubarak, and more than 6,000 were injured by live ammunition, rubber bullets, water cannons and batons. Mubarak is currently being detained in a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh; he will stand trial in Egypt in September on more serious charges, including ordering the killing of protesters, which could carry the death penalty. (Reuters, May 28.)

 

EGYPT OPENS GAZA BORDER—(Rafah, Egypt) Hundreds of Palestinians have crossed into Egypt after Cairo opened its border with the Gaza Strip for the first time in four years, a shift that signals a more pro-Palestinian policy by Egypt’s post-revolutionary government. In a move angering Israel, the crossing will not be operated in accordance with a 2005 U.S.-mediated agreement between Israel and the Palestinians that called for European monitors at the border and gave Israel the ability to monitor traffic remotely. Egypt has kept its border with the Gaza Strip almost entirely closed since 2007, when Hamas wrested control of the coastal enclave from the Palestinian Authority. (Wall Street Journal, May 28.)

 

OVER 400 AL-QAIDA TERRORISTS NOW IN SINAI—(Jerusalem) According a senior Egyptian security officer, more than 400 al-Qaida members have infiltrated the Sinai Peninsula. While Egyptian security officials are pursuing the terrorists, who are composed of Palestinians, Bedouins and foreign Arab citizens, there have already been a number of attacks carried out “against [Egyptian] security forces in the Sinai city of El Arish.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently addressed Egypt’s security problems in Sinai at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, saying “Egypt [is having] difficulties exercising its sovereignty over Sinai.… What’s happening in Sinai is that global terrorist organizations are meddling there and their presence is increasing because of the connection between Sinai and Gaza.” (Jerusalem Post, May 30.)

 

NATO EXTENDS OPERATION IN LIBYA—(Brussels) The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s top official has announced that the alliance will extend its mission in Libya for a further 90 days. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO’s Secretary-General, said the new agreement “sends a clear message to the Gadhafi regime: We are determined to continue our operation to protect the people of Libya.” The announcement to extend NATO’s mission coincided with the release by the Libyan Ministry of Health of the first government estimates regarding civilian casualties in Libya. The report lists 718 civilians killed between March 19 and May 26 as a result of NATO military operations. NATO has denied killing large numbers of civilians. (Wall Street Journal, June 1.)

 

IRAN VOWS TO UNPLUG INTERNET—(New York) Iran is taking finalizing steps towards the implementation of a new national Internet that could, in effect, disconnect Iranian cyberspace from the rest of the world. Iran, already among the most sophisticated nations in online censoring—an effort to confront what the regime refers to as an online invasion of Western ideas, culture and influence—is promoting its national Internet as a cost-saving measure for consumers and as a way to uphold Islamic moral codes. According to reports, Iran also intends to introduce its own computer operating system in coming months to replace Microsoft Corp.’s Windows. According to Ali Aghamohammadi, Iran’s head of economic affairs, Iran’s national Internet will be “a genuinely halal network, aimed at Muslims on an ethical and moral level.” (Wall Street Journal, May 28.)

 

SAUDI BID TO CURB IRAN WORRIES U.S.—(New York) Saudi Arabia is rallying Muslim nations across the Middle East and Asia to join an informal Arab alliance against Iran, in a move U.S. officials worry could draw other troubled nations into the sectarian tensions gripping the Arab world. Saudi officials have approached Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia and other Central Asian states to lend diplomatic support—and potentially military assistance—to help stifle a majority Shiite revolt in Sunni-led Bahrain, a conflict that has become a symbol of Arab defiance against Iran. Saudi Arabia’s actions come amidst increasing friction with the Obama administration. U.S. officials working with Saudi Arabia have acknowledged Riyadh’s frustration with Washington’s policies, in particular the U.S.-facilitated toppling of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who was considered by the Saudis as the last strong Sunni hedge against growing Iranian influence in the Middle East. (Wall Street Journal, May 27.)

 

YEMEN UNREST SPREADS—(San’a, Yemen)The security situation in Yemen is deteriorating rapidly, following President Saleh’s refusal—for a third time—to sign an agreement designed to end his 33-year rule and allow him a dignified exit from office. More than 150 people have died in clashes that have raged in three Yemeni cities, including San’a, the capital. There is growing concern amongst U.S. and Saudi Arabian officials that Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula will take advantage of a potential civil war to increase its foothold and launch fresh attacks on international targets. (Wall Street Journal, May 30.)

 

DOCUMENTS SHOWING LENIN HAD JEWISH ROOTS ON DISPLAY—(New York) Documents alleging that Soviet Communist leader Vladimir Lenin had a Jewish heritage are presently on display in Moscow. The documents include a letter written in 1932 by Lenin’s oldest sister, Anna Ulyanova, saying that their maternal grandfather was a Ukrainian Jew who converted to Christianity in order to gain access to higher education. The letter, written by Ulyanova to Joseph Stalin, Lenin’s successor, asked Stalin to make Lenin’s Jewish heritage known in an effort to curb the rise of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. According to the exhibition’s curator, Tatyana Koloskova, Stalin ordered Ulyanova to “keep absolute silence” about Lenin’s Jewish roots. (JTA, May 25.)

 

BOOK: VATICAN HELPED NAZIS EVADE CONVICTION—(Jerusalem) A new book by Harvard Research Fellow Gerald Steinacher claims that thousands of Nazis were able to evade justice following the Holocaust thanks to the complicity of the Vatican. Nazis on the Run: How Hitler’s Henchmen Fled Europe claims that Catholic authorities helped SS men including Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele avoid detection, travel safely out of Europe, and live comfortably in exile after the end of World War II. Steinacher uncovered these details while examining a trove of unpublished Red Cross documents, which showed that understaffed European human rights workers attempting to resettle millions of displaced WWII victims unknowingly created a network that was exploited by Nazis evading justice, with the knowledge and support of the Vatican. (Jerusalem Post, May 27.)

 

IDF MAKES HISTORY: FIRST WOMAN TO BE MADE MAJOR GENERAL—(Jerusalem) Brig.-Gen. Orna Barbivai, deputy head of the IDF Human Resources Directorate, will make history in a few weeks when she becomes the first female officer in the IDF to be promoted to the rank of major general. Barbivai, 49 and the mother of three, will replace current head of the directorate Maj.-Gen. Avi Zamir who is retiring from IDF service. Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz recommended the appointment and it was approved by Defense Minister Ehud Barak. (Jerusalem Post, May 26.)