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President Obama’s Shift on Syria and Western Strategy: Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, JCPA, Sept. 1, 2013
The Kurdish Awakening in Syria: Could It Lead to Regional War?: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, JCPA, Aug. 15, 2013
flow: The Israeli Shoe Designed For Diabetics: Adam Van Heerden, NoCamels, Aug.28, 2013
VIGNETTES FROM ROSH HASHANA IN ISRAEL, 1948
Jerusalem Post, Aug. 31, 2013
Zipporah Porath, better known as Zippy, just celebrated her 90th birthday in in her adopted country, Israel. Rosh Hashana 1948 marked her first full year in the country, and what a year it was. In October 1947, Zippy Borowsky arrived in Israel from New York and enrolled at the Hebrew University. Caught up in Israel’s struggle for survival and independence, she abandoned her studies and joined the underground Hagana, illegally, of course. A medic during the siege of Jerusalem in the spring months of 1948, she entered the fledgling Israel Air Force after Israel was born. Only a few American girls were brave enough to come to Israel in the 1947-’49 period, but Zippy was a determined Zionist – nothing could stop her.
The great inheritance which Zippy has transmitted to the reading public in Hebrew and in English are her collected letters to her parents, written from her arrival until the latter part of 1948. Her letters provide a vivid description of what it meant for her to be here and participate in the founding of Israel.
So popular is her volume Letters from Jerusalem 1947-1948, that it is now a Kindle book and can be found on the Amazon website. In a letter dated October 2, 1948, Zippy was then stationed at IAF HQ in Tel Aviv, and wrote to her sister about listening to a Rosh Hashana radio interview with the legendary Leonard Bernstein, who had come to conduct the then Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra because of his love for Israel. “He was wonderfully moving,” she wrote, and “spoke straight from the heart, including a few words in Hebrew.”
Then Zippy, who had attended wonderful and inspiring High Holy Day services as a youngster with her family in New York, wrote briefly about the holiday in Jerusalem. Her description reminds us of what religious leaders in Israel misunderstood for a long time: to feel a part of the prayers and the holidays, single individuals need to be given an ambience which speaks to them. “Rosh Hashana,” Zippy wrote, “and holidays in general were meant for families to celebrate, not individuals.”
She came to Israel from of a warm family atmosphere, and so that is what she felt was needed. “I’ve been invited to several families for meals, but it’s not the same thing. Went to services at the local synagogue.” She was a very committed military person, so “right afterwards I had to rush back to work.”
The image she offers is a very special one for audiences in US who really knew little of what was transpiring here in October 1948. Boldly, she wrote: “It’s incongruous: from synagogue to war room,” and a Jewish war room at that. “But that’s the way it is…. I hope this will truly be one of the happiest years ever. As far as I am concerned, one way of fulfilling that wish would be to have one or all of you here. I’m counting on that, and soon. Shana Tova! Love, Zippy.”
Her book was so well distributed that the editorial board of the volume Letters of the Century highlighting a most important hundred years (1900-1999) in world history, selected the final letter in Zippy’s book for inclusion in the volume. Dial Press issued that anthology, which includes letters written by Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, presidents Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy – and Zippy. A private Israeli publisher had the letters translated into Hebrew and issued them as a book which is still in print.
In goodness and sweetness the noted sculptress of the bust of president Yitzhak Navon at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, Bilha Deutsch-Levin of Jerusalem, grew up in Petah Tikva after making aliya with her parents in the mid 1930s. Her parents, Esther and Eliyahu Deutsch were from Transylvania where she was born. Her father was an ardent Zionist and so his dream was to bring his family to Eretz Yisrael.
On arrival, the family went straight to Petah Tikva, where her father bought land and cows, and planted orchards. The Deutsch family lived through World War II in Eretz Yisrael. As with all families, they lost many relatives during the Holocaust.
Bilha showed artistic ability early, so she hoped that when she finished high school she would go to Jerusalem to study. Right after Israel became a state in 1948, she enrolled in the seminary for religious teachers and later graduated. She subsequently studied art, and most importantly, she worked with private instructors as she developed her skill as a sculptress. In Jerusalem she met Dov Levin, a survivor from Kovno, Lithuania, married him in 1951 and has been living in Jerusalem ever since. In Petah Tikva, Bilha served in the civil guard. Throughout World War II and the War of Independence she helped people of all ages enter the shelters whenever the sirens were sounded.
Rosh Hashana for the Deutsch family in Petah Tikva had a special meaning in 1948 because the entire family, sons who had been in the Palmah, Irgun and IDF were all home for the “Yamim Noraim,” the Days of Awe. “I remember the special foods which my mother and her helpers cooked for Rosh Hashana. In 1948 it was a special New Year because we now had our own Jewish state.
We had prayed for such a state, but it was only when we fought and won [that] the state actually become ours.” One of Bilha’s brothers was a paratrooper in 1948. He was wounded but survived after being in a number of major battles. Many of Bilha’s other siblings were younger than she was so they were still in various elementary and high school programs.
“After we got home from shul the first night of Rosh Hashana, the family had all assembled at my parents’ home, about 25 of us. My father, Eliyahu, sat at the head of the table as the patriarch he was. Before the kiddush, he gave a little speech, because he never believed that we would have our own land, under our control. He was happy to announce that he was glad that he had been mistaken.
“My father raised the wine glass high, we all answered ‘amen’ to the kiddush. Then the gigantic round challot were unveiled and our own home-made honey was poured over the bread to generate the sweetest year possible. Finally pieces of apple were circulated – dipped in honey. And we recited: may this new year be renewed for us in goodness and sweetness.”
"I want to wish Jewish communities around the world a very happy Rosh Hashanah. I hope the New Year will bring the Jewish people everywhere security, prosperity and peace.….We seek to advance peace with the Palestinians while maintaining our security and ensuring that the peace will be a real and enduring peace – not a ceremony, not an agreement that we celebrate for two minutes and then it collapses. We want a real, genuine and enduring peace and this must be anchored in recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and in our security.” — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his Rosh Hashana greeting. (Prime Minister's Office, Sept. 3, 2013)
“So this case is building and this case will build. I don’t believe that my former colleagues in the United States Senate and the House will turn their backs on all of our interests, on the credibility of our country, on the norm with respect to the enforcement of the prohibition against the use of chemical weapons.” — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, to NBC.(Jerusalem Post, Sept. 1, 2013)
"I'm prepared to give that order. But having made my decision as commander in chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interests, I'm also mindful that I'm the president of the world's oldest constitutional democracy." — President Barak Obama, in a hurriedly organized appearance in the Rose Garden announcing that he had suddenly decided to get the approval of the U.S. Congress before proceeding with a strike against Syria for its use of chemical weapons. (NDTV, Sept. 1, 2013)
"Obama hasn't got a chance to win this vote [to strike Syria] if he can't win the majority of his own party, and I doubt he can. Democrats have been conspicuously silent. Just about his only support is coming from Republicans. He is a war president without a war party. " — Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., in an interview. (NDTV, Sept. 1, 2013)
"It will be an uphill battle for the president to convince me because I think he has handled this entire situation quite poorly. And frankly I am reluctant to give him a license for war when, with all due respect, I have little confidence he knows what he is doing." —Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark. (NDTV, Sept. 1, 2013)
"We cannot in good conscience support isolated military strikes in Syria that are not part of an overall strategy that can change the momentum on the battlefield." —Sens. John McCain (R., Ariz), and Lindsey Graham (R., S.Car), in a statement suggesting that they might vote no because the president's plan was too limited. (NDTV, Sept. 1, 2013)
"I strongly believe that the commander in chief has the absolute right to take military action. The president seems like he's weak at every level." — Rep. Peter T. King, R-N.Y. (NDTV, Sept. 1, 2013)
"So the president two years ago said he had to leave power, but now that [Mr. Assad] has committed a war crime, the president of the United States says he's not interested in removing him from power." — Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz), who described the Obama Syria policy as "muddled." (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 31, 2013)
“We call upon the international community with all its power to stop this aggression [by the Syrian government] against the Syrian people. We stand by the will of the Syrian people. They know best their interests, so whatever they accept, we accept, and whatever they refuse, we refuse.” — Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, commenting on the prospect of a U.S. strike, in Cairo, where he was attending a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers to discuss Syria.
“But is it really true that there is nothing else that can be done? Are we really that paralyzed? Or could the international community act, legitimately and legally, to protect civilians in Syria…” —Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg, writing in the Saudi Arab News on Sunday, urged the international community to act against Syrian President Bashar Assad. Aluwaisheg went on to say that the example of the West’s intervention in Kosovo in the late 1990s should be used as a model for an operation in Syria. The idea behind the intervention, which he says is relevant today is that “state sovereignty is not absolute, but conditioned by other norms and principles. International law forbids war crimes and the Syrian regime’s ‘Ghouta massacre’ fits perfectly into what the law is meant to prevent. Hence, action should be taken immediately and consent from the UN Security Council is not required,” he said.
“We can be certain that Iran has absorbed the British message – namely that the international community is divided, and is not serious about dealing with vital issues, including the use of chemical weapons in Syria, not to mention the suffering of the Syrian people at the hands of the Assad regime.” — Tariq Alhomayed, representing Saudi public opinion, writing in the Saudi backed popular London based daily Asharq al-Awsat on Sunday. He went on to say that Washington “is making these costly foreign policy fumbles” and Obama’s statements “are likely to lead to disasters today, and these could engulf the entire region tomorrow.”
“Iranians, Muslims, and freedom- seekers of the world are standing for their belief in peace in the region and they will not compromise on that, let alone tolerate an attack on another Muslim country like Syria which is at the forefront of the resistance.” — Abdolreza Azizi, an Iranian legislator, in a speech on Sunday warned against the intervention of “international deceivers.”
“The Americans don’t see the wave of hatred of people against their warmongering policies and continue to pursue military actions against Syria, even though these actions have been thwarted in the UN Security Council and the British parliament has stated its opposition to military activity.” —Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani , according to the ISNA news agency. (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 3, 2013)
"The [Syrian] people have been the target of a chemical attack by their own government and now they must also wait for an attack by foreigners. Right now America, the Western world along with some of the Arab countries are nearly issuing a clarion call for war in Syria – may God have mercy on the people of Syria. The people of Syria have seen much damage in these two years, the prisons are overflowing and they've converted stadiums into prisons, more than 100,000 people killed and millions displaced show the plight of Syria more than ever before." — former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, according to ILNA. (Jeruslem Post, Sept 1, 2013)
“As a Jordanian, I was taught that Israel is our first enemy. People in Jordan (and almost all Arabs in the Middle East) think that Israel seeks to destroy them….[But] when I crossed the border on a visit to Israel, I saw the opposite of what people told me. No policemen detained me for hours. Instead, people were welcoming and one beautiful woman actually said, "Welcome to Israel Habibi." It was wonderful. When I arrived in Jerusalem I went to the Israeli Arab neighborhoods. There, I met Arabs who love their country, Israel. After I asked one his opinion about racism from Jewish Israelis, he told me, "If I am in an Arab country, I will not have what I have here. If I go to a hospital, I find all the services I need. I have insurance because of my age. I do not experience discrimination." I would like to encourage my friends here in Jordan and cousins from my tribe to visit Israel and to meet real Israelis in everyday life, to break down the stereotypes they hold onto. I will not be intimidated by organizations which seek to enforce a boycott on those who visit Israel.” — Yan Barakat, a Jordanian journalist. (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 2, 2013)
POPE FRANCIS CONVEYS ROSH HASHANAH GREETINGS — (Rome) Pope Francis in a meeting with Jewish leaders sent Rosh Hashanah greetings to Jews worldwide and expressed “concern” at the ban on kosher slaughter in Poland. At an audience Monday at the Vatican with World Jewish Congress heads, the pope said he was directing a cardinal to investigate the situation in Poland, where a ban has been in effect on ritual slaughter since January. A WJC statement said the pontiff and Lauder spoke about the situation in Syria “and agreed to speak out against attacks on religious minorities, such as Coptic Christians in Egypt and against trends to restrict well-established religious practices such as circumcision.” In addition, according to the statement, “The pope specifically expressed concern about the bans on kosher slaughter in Poland and directed Cardinal Kurt Koch, the president of the Vatican’s Commission for Relations with the Jews, to investigate and host a follow-up meeting as early as next week.” (Jewish Press, Sept. 2, 2013)
MORSI TO STAND TRIAL FOR INCITING VIOLENCE — (Cairo) Ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi will stand trial to face charges of inciting violence, an Egyptian prosecutor announced. The charges stem from an incident in December 2012, when Morsi and several Muslim Brotherhood leaders encouraged supporters to carry out murder, use violence, as well as arrest and torture peaceful protesters outside the presidential palace, al-Masry al-Youm reported. According to al-Masry al-Youm, investigations revealed evidence that the defendants and their supporters “assaulted protesters, removing their tents, burning them and firing on demonstrators,” after protesters gathered to demonstrat against Morsi’s controversial Constitutional Declaration, which gave him sweeping presidential powers. (Jewish Press, Sept. 3, 2013)
MOMENTUM SHIFTS AGAIN IN SYRIAN CIVIL WAR — (Beirut) The Syrian capital is bracing itself for the worst. Last Thursday alone, over 10,000 people reportedly fled across the border into Lebanon, and hundreds of families of soldiers have left their apartments. The headquarters of the intelligence agencies had been largely vacated and, according to one guard on duty, nearly all Alawite officers and generals had headed for the port city of Tartus and the surrounding area. Mount Kassioun, which overlooks the city and has been used by the 4th Armored Division to shell rebel positions in the suburbs, was said to have been completely evacuated. (Spiegel, Sept, 2, 2013)
SYRIA CREATES A RUSSIAN SAFE ZONE, CIVILIAN DANGER ZONES — (Damascus)
Syria's military may be hiding its most valuable assets inside a Russian naval base, betting that U.S. missiles will avoid it. "There is some evidence that the Syrian military is treating the Russian base at Tartus as a safe zone," said Christopher Harmer, a senior naval analyst at the Institute for the Study of War. "The Assad regime is moving tracked vehicles into Tartus." And Mount Kassioun, which overlooks the city and has been used by the 4th division to shell rebel positions in the suburbs, was said to have been completely evacuated. Instead, artillery had been deployed in residential districts and aimed at the mountain amid growing fears that the rebels could take the stronghold. Already last Wednesday, the army had ammunition transferred to the National Museum, while the most precious exhibits have apparently been moved to the basement of the central bank. (WashingtonTtimes, Sept. 3, 2013)
CHEMICAL WEAPONS USE “A BIG MISTAKE," HIZBULLAH TOLD IRAN— (Berlin) Assad's use of chemical weapons outside Damascus was discussed with Iran by a senior representative of Hizbullah. A briefing by the head of Germany's intelligence service, Gerhard Schindler, noted that in a telephone intercept of a call between a high-ranking representative of Hizbullah and the Iranian embassy, the Hizbullah representative said that poison gas had been used, and that Assad's order to attack with chemical weapons had been a big mistake. The telephone intercept had identified the chemical used as sarin. (Telegraph-UK)
PUBLIC OPINION RUNS AGAINST SYRIAN AIRSTRIKES — (Wasnington) By a 48% to 29% margin, more Americans oppose than support conducting military airstrikes against Syria in response to reports that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, according to a new national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Aug. 29-Sept. 1. The new national survey…finds that Obama has significant ground to make up in his own party. Just 29% of Democrats favor conducting airstrikes against Syria while 48% are opposed. Opinion among independents is similar (29% favor, 50% oppose). Republicans are more divided, with 35% favoring airstrikes and 40% opposed. (Pew Research Center, Sept. 3, 2013)
F.B.I. SHARPENS SCRUTINY OF SYRIANS IN U.S. — (Washington) The F.B.I. has increased its surveillance of Syrians inside the United States in response to concerns that a military strike against the government of President Bashar al-Assad could lead to terrorist attacks here or against American allies and interests abroad, according to current and former senior United States officials. The government has also taken the unusual step of warning federal agencies and private companies that American military action in Syria could spur cyberattacks, the officials said. There were no such alerts before previous military operations, like the one against Libya in 2011. The authorities are particularly concerned because Iran — one of Mr. Assad’s closest allies — has said there will be reprisals against Israel if the United States attacks Syria. The Iranians have also shown a willingness to sponsor terrorist attacks on American targets, according to the officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a continuing operation. (NYT, Aug. 31, 2013)
EGYPT TO RECEIVE ADDITIONAL $2B IN AID FROM ABU DHABI — (Cairo) The crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, has pledged to send $2b in additional aid to Egypt, Al-Ahram reported on Monday. Egypt's foreign reserves increased by $4b, the Central Bank of Egypt announced in August, reaching $18.9b. The UAE was among the first Gulf countries to congratulate Egypt in the wake of removing former president Mohamed Morsi after the nationwide protests of 30 June. Following the Morsi’s ouster, the UAE, along with other Gulf countries, announced new financial aid packages to Egypt, including $5bn from Saudi Arabia, $3bn from the United Arab Emirates and $4bn from Kuwait, in form of cash grants, deposits and petroleum products. The UAE’s aid to Egypt comprised a $1bn grant and a $2bn interest-free deposit in the central bank. It also sent seven shipments of fuel worth $225m in July. (Daily News-Egypt, Sept. 3, 2013)
PROOF OF SOLOMON'S MINES FOUND IN ISRAEL— (Arava, Israel) New findings from an archaeological excavation led this winter by Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University's Department of Archaeology and Near Eastern Cultures prove that copper mines in Israel thought to have been built by the ancient Egyptians in the 13th century BCE actually originated three centuries later, during the reign of King Solomon. Based on radiocarbon dating of material unearthed at a new site in the Timna Valley in Israel's Arava desert, the findings suggest the mines were operated by the Edomites, a tribal confederation that warred constantly with Israel. "The mines are definitely from the period of King Solomon," says Dr. Ben-Yosef. Now a national park, Timna Valley was an ancient copper production district with thousands of mines and dozens of smelting sites. Impressive cooperation would have been required for thousands of people to operate the mines in the middle of the desert. (Science Blog)
President Obama’s Shift on Syria and Western Strategy: Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, JCPA, Sept. 1, 2013—The Syrian regime is far weaker than most observers think. Rebel forces are continuing to gain momentum in all districts. The regime’s dire situation is manifested in its ever-increasing reliance on irregular and volunteer forces from Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon (Hizbullah).
The Kurdish Awakening in Syria: Could It Lead to Regional War?: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, JCPA, Aug. 15, 2013—For the first time in modern Syrian Kurdish history, Kurds have created an exclusively Kurdish-controlled enclave. Kurdish spokesmen have indicated that they are planning to form a provisional Kurdish government due to the absence of any central authority.
flow: The Israeli Shoe Designed For Diabetics: Adam Van Heerden, NoCamels, Aug.28, 2013—One of the most serious possible side-effects of diabetes is losing a limb. According to the Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance (SALSA), “every 20 seconds, somewhere in the world, a limb is lost as a consequence of diabetes.”
A young Israeli designer named Lilach Steiner has come up with a shoe, inspired by horse’s hooves, which act as a pumps to return blood to the legs.
Ber Lazarus , Publications Editor Canadian Institute for Jewish Research /L'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme www.isranet.org Tel: (514) 486-5544 Fax: (514) 486-82843
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