We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to: Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Obama to the Rescue–of Hamas: Caroline Glick, Real Clear Politics, July 23, 2014— Operation Protective Edge is now two weeks old.
Of Friends and Foes: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, July 24, 2014 — The old adage is so very true: You discover who your real friends are in times of crisis.
End Game: Jerusalem Post, July 22, 2013— International pressure is mounting on Hamas and Israel to accept a cease-fire.
Walking Tour Sheds Light on City's Hidden Jewish History: Morgan Lowrie, Montreal Gazette, July 10, 2014 — The Hebrew lettering on the old stone arch is still visible, poking up above the orange panelling and metal and glass façade of the Collège Français.
Ambassador Ron Dermer Owns CNN (Video): Jewish Press, July 25, 2014
Who Is Like You O Israel: Isranet, July 25, 2014
The Goldstone Effect: Gerald M. Steinberg, NGO Monitor, July 20, 2014
Average Gaza Citizen Wants a Steady Job — in Israel — Not More Hamas Rocket Fire, Poll Finds: Joe O’Connor, National Post, July 23, 2014
Real Clear Politics, July 23, 2014
Operation Protective Edge is now two weeks old. Since the ground offensive began Thursday night, we have begun to get a better picture of just how dangerous Hamas has become in the nine years since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip. And what we have learned is that the time has come to take care of this problem. It cannot be allowed to fester or grow anymore.
We have known for years that tunnels were a central component of Hamas’s logistical infrastructure. What began as the primary means of smuggling weapons, trainers and other war material from Hamas’s sponsors abroad developed rapidly into a strategic tool of offensive warfare against Israel. As we have seen from the heavily armed Hamas commando squads that have infiltrated into Israel from tunnels since the start of the current round of warfare, the first goal of these offensive tunnels is to deploy terrorists into Israel to massacre Israelis.
But the tunnels facilitate other terror missions as well. Israel has found tunnels with shafts rigged with bombs located directly under Israeli kindergartens. If the bombs had gone off, the buildings above would have been destroyed, taking the children down with them. Other exposed shafts showed Hamas’s continued intense interest in hostage taking. In 2006 the terrorists who kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Schalit entered Israel and returned to Gaza through such a tunnel. Today the presence of sedatives and multiple sets of handcuffs for neutralizing hostages found in tunnel after tunnel indicate that Hamas intends to abduct several Israelis at once and spirit them back to Gaza. In an interview with Channel 2 Monday evening, Minister Naftali Bennett spoke of a mother at Kibbutz Netiv Ha’asara who told him that her children wake her in the middle of the night and tell her that they hear digging beneath their beds. As Bennett said, this state of affairs simply cannot continue. People cannot live in fear that there are terrorists burrowing beneath their homes, digging tunnels to murder or kidnap them. These tunnels must be found and destroyed not merely because they constitute a physical danger to thousands of Israelis. They must be located and destroyed, and Hamas’s capacity to rebuild them must be eliminated because the very idea that they exist makes a normal life impossible for those immediately threatened.
Hamas’s tunnels are also the key component of their command and control infrastructure inside Gaza. Hamas’s political and military commanders are hiding in them. The reinforced bunkers and tunnel complexes enable Hamas’s senior leadership to move with relative freedom and continue planning and ordering attacks. The sophistication of the tunnels and the malign intentions of Hamas are not in the least surprising. But Hamas’s rapid advances in both tunnel and missile technology are deeply worrisome. At a minimum, they indicate that if it is allowed to end the current round of fighting as a coherent, relatively well-armed terrorist army, Hamas will be able to rapidly rebuild and expand its capabilities.
As a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas is not a stand-alone terror group. It is part of a much larger web of Islamic jihadist terror groups including al-Qaida and its affiliates as well as the Shi’ite Hezbollah. Like Hamas, all of these threaten several major Sunni Arab states. Due to their recognition of the threat Hamas and its allies pose to the survivability of their regimes, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have taken the unprecedented step of supporting Israel’s efforts to defeat Hamas. They understand that a decisive Israeli blow against Hamas in Gaza will directly benefit them. Not only will Hamas be weakened, but its state sponsors and terrorist comrades will be weakened as well.
Presently, Hamas’s most outspoken state sponsors are Qatar and Turkey. As Israel’s Calcalist newspaper reported earlier this week, Qatar is Hamas’s biggest and most important financier, a role it plays as well for ISIS, al Nusra, the Muslim Brotherhood and various jihadist groups in Libya. Turkey for its part is aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood. Like Qatar, Turkey has also been a major supporter of ISIS and al Nusra, as well as Hamas. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s slander against Israel has grown so hysterical in recent weeks that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has been trying to downplay Turkey’s animosity, called him out on his open anti-Semitism.
By Tuesday morning, IDF forces in Gaza had destroyed 23 tunnels. The number of additional tunnels is still unknown. While Israel had killed 183 terrorists, it appeared that most of the terrorists killed were in the low to middle ranks of Hamas’s leadership hierarchy. Hamas’s senior commanders, as well as its political leadership have hunkered down in hidden tunnel complexes. In other words, Israel is making good progress. But it hasn’t completed its missions. It needs several more days of hard fighting. Recognizing this, Israel’s newfound Muslim allies have not been pushing for a cease-fire.
In contrast, the Obama administration is insisting on concluding a cease-fire immediately. As Israel has uncovered the scope of Hamas’s infrastructure of murder and terror, the US has acted with the UN, Turkey and Qatar to pressure Israel (and Egypt) to agree to a cease-fire and so end IDF operations against Hamas before the mission is completed. To advance this goal, US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo on Monday night with an aggressive plan to force on Israel a cease-fire Hamas and its state sponsors will accept.
As former ambassador to the US Michael Oren told the media, it is clear that neither Israel nor Egypt invited Kerry to come over. Their avoidance of Kerry signals clearly that the US’s two most important allies in the Middle East do not trust US President Barack Obama’s intentions. And their distrust is entirely reasonable. The State Department has openly applauded Turkey and Qatar for their involvement in attempts to achieve a cease-fire. Last week Israeli officials alleged that the US was responsible for Hamas’s rejection of the Egyptian cease-fire proposal. By attempting to coerce Egypt to accept Qatar and Turkey as its partners in mediation, Obama signaled to Hamas’s leaders that they should hold out for a better deal. Due to Turkey’s membership in NATO and the glamour of the Qatari royal family, many Westerners find it hard to believe that they are major sponsors of terrorism. But it is true. Turkey and Qatar are playing a double game. While sending his ambassador to Brussels for NATO meetings, Erdogan has been transforming Turkey from an open, pro-Western society allied with Israel into a closed, anti-Semitic and anti-American society that sponsors Hamas, ISIL, al Nusra and other terrorists groups.
As for Qatar, the tiny natural gas superpower presents itself to Americans as their greatest ally in the Muslim world. The emirate gives hundreds of millions of dollars to US universities to open campuses in Doha and pretends it is a progressive, open society, replete with debating societies. Qatar hosts three major US military bases on its territory. And it is becoming one of the most important clients for US military contractors. Earlier this year Qatar signed an $11.4 billion dollar arms agreement with the US. At the same time, according to the Calacalist report, Qatar is the major bankroller of ISIS and al Nusra in Syria and Iraq. It gives $50 million a month to jihadists in Libya. It gives Hamas $100m. in annual aid. And in the past two years Doha has provided Hamas with an additional $620m. dollars, including $250m. it transferred to Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal’s personal bank account, and $350m. in military aid to Hamas, transferred after the Egyptian military forced the Muslim Brotherhood government from power last July. Add to that the $100m. per year that Qatar pours into Al Jazeera’s satellite network – which has dedicated itself to undermining pro-Western Arab regimes while popularizing the likes of al-Qaida and Hamas, and Qatar is the largest financier of international jihad in the world.
Rather than notice that Qatar and Turkey are playing a double game, and treat them with suspicion, the Obama administration has embraced them. Chances that Kerry will secure a cease-fire in the near future are small. In all likelihood, the government will be able to buy the time necessary to complete the mission in whole or large part. But the fact that the US has chosen at this juncture in the operation – with Israel enjoying unprecedented support from the most important Sunni states in the region – to side with Hamas and its state sponsors in their demand for an immediate cease-fire speaks volumes about the transformation of US foreign policy under Obama’s leadership.
David M. Weinberg
Israel Hayom, July 24, 2014
The old adage is so very true: You discover who your real friends are in times of crisis. The war with Hamas has made it very clear who Israel's friends, and foes, are, and who skulks in a morally dubious middle ground. The list of Israel's friends is shorter, but significant and powerful. The list starts with hundreds of young Jews, from North America and France in particular, who made aliyah over the past two weeks, despite the war. The best line of the week belongs to Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, who said, "We've had more immigrants than missiles." (Not quite, but close.)
It continues with Jewish communal leaders and fellow Jews around the world, who have either come to visit on solidarity missions, energetically gone to battle for Israel on the airwaves and social media platforms, or launched chain-mail prayer campaigns. It continues further with Christian colleagues and friends everywhere, from many (but not all) denominations, who are praying, advocating and demonstrating for Israel. I pleased to say that I've been inundated with emails of support from Christian friends this week.
Then come the governments of Canada, Australia and to a certain extent France and Germany, too, who backed Israel's defensive operation, and provided Jerusalem with diplomatic time to conduct the just war against Hamas. Nobody surpasses the moral clarity of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who said that "solidarity with Israel is the best way of stopping the conflict," and that "Canada is unequivocally behind Israel." The Egyptian government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, too, has proven to be a rock solid ally in the war on radical Islamic terrorism, out of shared interests. If Israel yet manages to squeeze Hamas into a corner or bring about its capitulation, it will partly thanks to Egyptian cooperation.
Finally and most meaningfully, Israelis have rediscovered true friendship among themselves. At no time in the 25 years that I have lived in Israel do I recall such a moment of shared national consensus. This is an existential war; a war for our homes — and whether in uniform or not, all citizens have drafted themselves to assist in some way. Twenty thousand garden-variety Israelis showed up in solidarity and tribute for the funeral of lone soldier Sean Carmeli in Haifa this week, and 30,000 for the funeral of lone soldier Max Steinberg in Jerusalem. Because the people of Israel are one, and no sacrifice goes unrecognized...
The list of Israel's foes is longer, but predictable and manageable. Sadly, the list of enemies includes Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, who said that Israel's barbarism surpasses Hitler's." It includes radical Israeli Arab leaders like MK Hanin Zoabi — probably the most hated woman in Israel — who has championed Hamas. It includes vast swaths of the European left — which turned out to demonstrate against Israel with the radical Islamists, flying the green flags of Hamas and Hezbollah, and smashing Jewish store and synagogue fronts. It includes the U.N. Human Rights Council, which has decided to investigate Israeli, but not Hamas, "war crimes," with all European countries abstaining. Sadder still, it includes the American Jewish J Street organization, which declined to participate in pro-Israel demonstrations this week because the rallies offered "no voice for [J Street] concerns about the loss of human life on both sides" and no recognition of the "complexity" of the issues or the need for a "political solution." Such ugly, pusillanimous poppycock!
It also includes Mahmoud Abbas, who has quietly egged Israel on (since his faction stands to benefit most from the decapitation of Hamas), while publicly lambasting Israel and accusing it of war crimes. Abbas is not "part of the solution," as the political Left ridiculously wants us to believe once again, but a central part of the problem. Hamas and other Islamic jihadists blew him away in Gaza and would do so in the West Bank if not for IDF control of the territory. And Abbas is no partner for any real peace accord, as the failed Kerry diplomatic process proved for the umpteenth time. Beware the growing chatter on the Left about re-empowering Abbas in the West Bank and Gaza.
The list of vacillating and doubtful friends is led, alas, by the Obama administration. Every administration statement about Israel's "right" to defend itself has been "balanced" by hyper hand-wringing about Palestinian suffering. Instead of leading a global diplomatic offensive that champions Israel's "obligation" to protect itself, and that musters any and every means to help its sole dependable Middle Eastern ally in that mission, the Obama administration has acted to narrow Israel's chances of success.…
Rounding out my list of ambiguous friends are all those who claim to understand Israel but have taken particular umbrage at the destruction and wrath wrought in Gaza. None of these "friends" were around to protest Hamas persecution and subjugation of Gazans over the past decade or the insane Hamas weapons buildup. None of these "friends" took to the streets to express outrage at the Hamas rockets that sent 5 million Israelis into bunkers. None have truly protested Hamas' practice of hiding behind civilians. None of these "friends" remonstrated too much about the 700 Arabs killed over two days last week in the Syrian civil war, or the tens of thousands of Palestinians starved to death in Yarmouk over the past year by Assad's forces, or the 250,000 killed in that civil war over the past two years. It must be so awkward having to check whether the dead child is from Gaza or Syria before deciding whether to be morally outraged.
Jerusalem Post, July 22, 2014
International pressure is mounting on Hamas and Israel to accept a cease-fire. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry are in the region, aiming to put a stop to the current violence. With a death toll of over two dozen IDF soldiers, over a hundred Hamas terrorists and hundreds of Palestinian civilians during the first two weeks of Operation Protective Edge, the international momentum for a cease-fire is clearly going to grow. But unless a cease-fire plan presented by Ban or Kerry includes a mechanism that leads to the demilitarization of Gaza and its deadly minders Hamas, Israel will justifiably be reluctant to accept. The IDF is in the middle of a large ground operation that has set as its goal the destruction of Hamas’s tunnels. The terrorist organization has used these tunnels to try to attack Israeli communities located close to the Gaza Strip. It would be ill-advised to halt the operation now, before achieving the goal set by the IDF and the security cabinet. Doing so would mean that thousands of families living in the towns, moshavim and kibbutzim adjacent to Gaza would continue to live in fear. Pulling our troops out now would mean squandering a rare opportunity. Our soldiers are already inside Gaza Strip; at the very least they should be allowed to finish the job. Only ground troops can locate and destroy these tunnels.
But while focusing on the short-term, and admittedly limited, goal of destroying the tunnels adjacent to the border, our leaders should be looking ahead to longer-term goals, the most important of which is the gradual demilitarization of the Gaza Strip. Plans like the one touted by Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz includes elements that are worth exploring by those international interests trying to broker the ceasefire. The plan calls for the international community to oversee the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip using the same system that is successfully ridding Syria of chemical weapons. In return, Arab countries and the international community would provide the Palestinian Authority with $50 billion to rehabilitate refugee camps and build the Gaza Strip. Obviously, this cannot be achieved overnight. Not unlike Israeli foreign policy that over the years has raised international awareness of the Iranian nuclear threat, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and others in the government should be spearheading a campaign to garner support for and involvement in the demilitarization of Gaza. There will be no quiet until it is demilitarized. The flare-ups of Gazan attacks every several months will continue. As soon as Hamas is forced to give up its arms, peace will reign, because Hamas aggression is the source of the conflict. The demilitarization of Gaza is not just an Israeli interest. Each time Israel is forced to carry out an extended military operation in response to rockets aimed at Israeli civilians, and cross-border terrorist attacks and kidnappings, thousands of Palestinian civilians inevitably suffer the consequences. Neutralizing Hamas’s military abilities would remove one of the many destructive forces operating in the region inspired by a violent and reactionary interpretation of Islam.
Egypt has an interest in a demilitarized Gaza Strip. Hamas has been involved in deadly attacks on Egyptian forces in Sinai. And Egyptian antipathy toward Hamas is an extension of the war that President Adel Fattah al-Sisi is waging against Hamas’s ideological ally, the Muslim Brotherhood. The gradual demilitarization of Gaza might also facilitate the increased political influence of the more moderate Fatah leadership. Egypt is interested in placing Palestinian Authority forces in charge of the Sinai-Gaza border crossing at Rafah. This might be the first step toward the return of Fatah to political prominence in Gaza. So while the short-term goal of Israel must be to strike a severe blow to Hamas’s military infrastructure and destroy as many tunnels as possible along the border, the end game must be the gradual demilitarization of the Gaza Strip. Until that happens, the chances of achieving a long-term peace are very slim.
Montreal Gazette, July 10, 2014
The Hebrew lettering on the old stone arch is still visible, poking up above the orange panelling and metal and glass façade of the Collège Français. Walk to the back of the Fairmount St. school, and one can see the bricked-over stained glass window that once shone light into a large and beautiful synagogue once described as Montreal’s Carnegie Hall of Hazzanut, or sacred Jewish music. Just a few blocks away on St-Laurent Blvd., most of the visitors to trendy tapas restaurant and concert hall La Sala Rossa have no idea that the space was once a community centre for Jewish socialists. All around the Plateau and the Mile End, the buildings are marked by traces of Montreal’s Jewish history. “You can’t understand Montreal without studying the Jewish fact,” says Zev Moses, executive director of the online-only Museum of Jewish Montreal. “It’s an intrinsic part of Montreal’s history.”
This summer for the first time, the museum is offering public walking tours of historic Jewish neighbourhoods, focusing on the Plateau and Mile End. It represents an expansion for Moses’s museum, which began in 2010 as an online mapping project for Jewish landmarks. Today, the website contains a vast array of maps, stories and interactive exhibits, chronicling Jewish life in the city from 1760 to today. Moses’s tours focus on the areas where the first large communities gathered following the period of greatest Jewish migration, between 1900 and 1914. Despite poverty and hardship, the new immigrants quickly made their mark, creating institutions such as schools, synagogues and libraries. In the decades between the 1920s and the 1950s, writers and left-wing radicals held political meetings, and both Yiddish and Hasidic culture thrived in the Plateau and Mile End. “Montreal has one of the most diverse Jewish communities in the world,” says Moses, 30. “We have Jews from Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, which makes it really unique. In a city where you face the tension between English and French, there was a space for a very rich Jewish culture to grow between the other two.” But by the 1960s, the Jewish community had largely left the Plateau and Mile End, settling instead in the westward suburbs such as Côte-St-Luc, Côte-des-Neiges and Hampstead. Today, many of the old institutions have been repurposed, with only a discreet Star of David or distinctive rounded windows giving away their history.
On the Mile End walking tour, summer research fellows Pascale Greenfield and Aaron Dishy take pedestrians past dance studios, row houses and daycares, all of which were once important Jewish institutions. Some of the buildings, such as the former Young Men’s Hebrew Association (now luxury condos), are impressive spaces. Others, such as the former synagogue of influential Hasidic rabbi David Flaum, are modest in size and quality of construction, and give no sign of the importance they once held. To Moses, this is part of the point of the tour: to shed light on the historically and culturally significant places before they are forgotten or demolished. “We want to bring awareness to the fact that there are a lot of structures around the city that mean something to Montreal’s Jewish history. We’re not acting as Heritage Montreal, but we want to broaden the scope of what is worth saving, or talking about saving,” he said. He believes that his project’s appeal extends beyond just the Jewish population, and can help Montrealers understand more of their own immigrant history. “The stories we’re telling are pretty universal. They’re about people looking for community, about trying to keep their culture alive and grow it, to deal with economic and political challenges, and to make a life for themselves, in Montreal, in Quebec and in Canada.”
For more information, visit the museum at imjm.ca
CIJR Wishes All its Friends and Supporters Shabbat Shalom!
Ambassador Ron Dermer Owns CNN (Video): Jewish Press, July 25, 2014 — Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, during a CNN interview, takes on the faulty and lacking CNN coverage of events, and specifically related to Hamas using UN schools as weapons depots, and the UN chief warning against the use of UN schools by Hamas.
Who Is Like You O Israel: Isranet, July 25, 2014 — What's happening here in the staging area [area where soldiers prepare to enter Gaza] is beyond comprehension, not rationally, not emotionally and begs the imagination.
The Goldstone Effect: Gerald M. Steinberg, NGO Monitor, July 20, 2014— From the first day (July 8) of Israel’s response to renewed and deadly rocket attacks from Gaza, the network of highly politicized non-governmental organizations (NGOs) went into high gear.
Average Gaza Citizen Wants a Steady Job — in Israel — Not More Hamas Rocket Fire, Poll Finds: Joe O’Connor, National Post, July 23, 2014—Hamas leader Khaled Meshal was in Doha, Wednesday, telling reporters from his five-star hotel the hardline Islamists would not back down from their bloody fight with Israel until Gaza’s borders are opened, and the crippling Israeli and Egyptian blockade of the embattled territory’s coast lifted.
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