Tag: Christians

IN IRAQ, ELECTION RESULTS SHOCK IRAN & U.S., KURDS IN “DISARRAY” & CHRISTIANS DISAPPEARING

The Populist Revolt Reaches Iraq: Michael J. Totten, World Affairs Journal, May 22, 2018— The worldwide populist revolt toppling conventional politicians in the United States, Europe and even the Philippines has now reached Iraq.

The Results of the Iraqi Elections? A Slap in the Face to Iran: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, JCPA, May 22, 2018— The results of the Iraqi legislative elections have taken both Iran and the United States by surprise.

Kurds in Iraq Adrift After Iraqi Election: Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, May 26, 2018— At a meeting of Kurdistan Democratic Party officials on Saturday in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region in Iraq, the party sought Kurdish unity in negotiations with Baghdad.

Iraq’s Christians: Eighty Percent Have “Disappeared”: Giulio Meotti, Gatestone Institute, Apr. 1, 2018— Persecution of Christians is worse today “than at any time in history”, a recent report by the organization Aid to the Church in Need revealed.

On Topic Links

Once Hated by U.S. and Tied to Iran, Is Sadr Now ‘Face of Reform’ in Iraq?: Margaret Coker, New York Times, May 20, 2018

Iraqi Election Opens New Chapter: Amir Taheri, Gatestone Institute, May 20, 2018

The ISIS Tactics That Have Left Iraqi Special Forces Weakened: Chirine Mouchantaf, Defense News, May 8, 2018

A Future for Kurdish Independence?: Michael Eppel, Middle East Quarterly, Mar. 01, 2018

 

THE POPULIST REVOLT REACHES IRAQ

Michael J. Totten

World Affairs Journal, May 22, 2018

 

The worldwide populist revolt toppling conventional politicians in the United States, Europe and even the Philippines has now reached Iraq. Most Westerners still following Iraqi politics assumed that incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s Victory coalition would handily win the parliamentary election, but nope. Abadi’s coalition came in third. Firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s Sairun coalition came in first.

You remember Moqtada al-Sadr. He’s the guy who mounted an Iranian-backed Shia insurgency against the United States, the Iraqi government and his Sunni civilian neighbors between 2003 and 2008. He’s a very different person today. He still raises and shakes his fist in the air but today he’s shaking it at crooked elites, and he’s shaking it at his former Iranian patrons. “If corrupt (officials) and quotas remain,” Sadr declared, “the entire government will be brought down and no one will be exempt.” In other words, drain the swamp.

He’s Iraq’s version of the rabble-rousing populist: fundamentalist, anti-establishment and anti-foreigner. A champion of the working class and a declared enemy of liberal Western ideas. His list even included Muntadhar al-Zaidi, the colorful journalist who famously threw a shoe at President George W. Bush at a press conference in Baghdad in 2008.

He would of course be nowhere without the Westerners he despises. Americans, after all, cleared Saddam Hussein’s totalitarian Baath Party regime out of the way and established the election system that put him on top. He’d also be nowhere without Iran. His former allies in the Islamic Republic next door armed his Mahdi Army militia and gave him refuge when the Americans were coming to get him. Now that the United States is (mostly) gone from Iraq, and now that Iran has been mucking around in Iraqi politics to disastrous effect for more than a decade, Sadr has become as anti-Iranian as he is anti-American. He’s not at all happy with a foreign capital using his government as a hand-puppet, whether that foreign capital is Washington, DC, or Tehran.

No need for surprise here. Many in Iraq’s large Shia majority feel a natural kinship with the even larger Shia majority in Iran, but ethnic tension between Arabs and Persians has been a feature of Middle Eastern geopolitics for as long as Arabs and Persians have inhabited the region, and nationalist tension between Iran and Iraq has been present throughout Iraq’s entire (albeit brief) history as a modern nation-state. Shia Iraqis and Shia Iranians are natural allies, but at the same time, Arab Iraqis and Persian Iranians are natural enemies.

Sadr is painfully reactionary and more than a little bit dangerous. He’s also complicated. He is a Shia sectarian whose militia brutally “cleansed” Sunnis from neighborhoods in and around Baghdad but he’s also what passes today for an Iraqi nationalist, disavowing violence against all Iraqis and opposing all foreign influence. “We won’t allow the Iraqis to be cannon fodder for the wars of others nor be used in proxy wars outside Iraq,” says Sadrist movement member Jumah Bahadily of the Syrian civil war. He also forged an alliance with communists—a horrifying ideological cocktail from the point of view of any liberal-minded Westerner, but alas there are few Jeffersonian democrats in old Mesopotamia. There are however, some secular reformists and technocrats, and they also formed an alliance with the Sadrists. Tehran has taken notice and isn’t happy about it. “We will not allow liberals and communists to govern in Iraq,” says Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Iranian ruler Ayatollah Khamenei.

Precious few Americans would enjoy living under a government run by Sadrists. Even so, his pushback against Iran is nothing to sniff at. Westerners and Arabs alike have bemoaned Iran’s rising influence in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam, thanks in large part to Sadr’s own Mahdi Army, yet no one is resisting Iranian influence in Iraq as successfully right now as he is. Sure, the Sunni parties are pushing back as they always do, but the Sunnis are a small minority. Nearly all Iranian influence in Iraq comes through the Shias. Only they can successfully resist Tehran because they’re the only ones who can enable Tehran in the first place. With Sadr’s movement in the saddle, Iran faces the most formidable obstacle in Baghdad since Saddam flitted from palace to palace.

Sadr will not be Iraq’s next prime minister. His list won the most votes but he himself did not stand for election. He could be the next kingmaker, so to speak, but even that’s not guaranteed. While his party won more seats than the others, it did not win the majority. It’s still possible that the others will unite in a coalition against him. Nobody knows yet. Whatever ends up happening, the main takeaway here ought to be this: Iraq isn’t even in the same time zone as high-functioning liberal democracies like New Zealand and France, but we can parse the result and guess at the ultimate outcome of its fourth consecutive election as if it were.

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THE RESULTS OF THE IRAQI ELECTIONS?

A SLAP IN THE FACE TO IRAN

Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah

JCPA, May 22, 2018

 

The results of the Iraqi legislative elections have taken both Iran and the United States by surprise. The party of Muqtada al-Sadr, the anti-American and anti-Iranian Shiite cleric, succeeded in winning 54 out of the 329 seats in the newly-elected Iraqi parliament. By doing so, his Sairoun party list (Arabic for “going forward”) became the biggest parliamentary faction. Al-Sadr’s Sairoun beat the favorite pro-Iranian parties headed by Hadi al-Amiri, commander of the pro-Iranian Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi (Arabic for “popular mobilization units”) militia, which took part in crushing ISIS and presented itself under the name Al-Fath (Arabic for “conquest”), which lost by seven seats (47). Another party led by a pro-Iran candidate, former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, won 26 seats.

The final results were published on May 19, 2018, seven days after the election day, due to allegations of massive fraud within the Kurdish-populated provinces of Kirkuk and Dahuk. The tabulations confirmed the partial results, which were published immediately after the elections, and the projection that Muqtada al-Sadr’s faction was the biggest parliamentary group. Although al-Sadr will not become prime minister since his name was not included in the list, he will likely play the role of the “kingmaker” behind the scenes and form the next Iraqi government – if Iran does not succeed in blocking him. In 2010, that is precisely what Iran did after Ayad Allawi won the most seats but could not form a government. Instead, Iran intervened and presented another pro-Iranian alternative. Indeed, despite the fact that al-Sadr’s faction is the biggest in the coming parliament, under the Iraqi constitution a larger coalition of factions is tasked with forming a new government.

Muqtada al-Sadr (born 1973) became famous in 2003 after the U.S. invasion of Iraq as the leader of a militia who led two armed uprisings against the U.S. forces. He also incited sectarian violence but rebranded himself as a champion of the poor, promoter of social protests, and corruption fighter. Al-Sadr was also vehemently anti-Iranian and criticized Iraqi politicians who became vassals of the Ayatollahs in Iran. Muqtada al-Sadr’s success stems primarily from the fact that the 44.25 percent election turnout was the lowest since 2003 and a drop from 62 percent in 2014, which played in al-Sadr’s favor since his followers voted en masse while others either abstained or showed a lack of interest…Moreover, Muqtada al-Sadr called on all “patriotic” factions, while emphasizing his rejection of the two main pro-Iranian blocs – Hadi al-Amiri’s Al-Fath list and former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s “State of Law Coalition” to join his coalition in order to restore to Iraq its dignity, independence, and freedom of choice.

By the end of the week (May 18, 2018), al-Sadr scored yet another victory by rallying Ammar al-Hakim, a cleric and politician, former leader of the Islamic Council of Iraq (2004-2017), and head of the “National Wisdom Movement” (Al Hikma), who won 19 seats in the elections and agreed to explore establishing a united faction. Ammar al-Hakim was part of Haider al-Abadi’s coalition in 2014, but he decided to split away before the 2018 elections. Muqtada al-Sadr, whose list included Communists and liberal factions, has called to form a technocratic government to fight party corruption. He emphasized in his Tweets after the elections the need to restore the independent identity of Iraq, “making Baghdad the capital of our identity” and pointing very clearly at the need to depart from Iranian tutelage…

Muqtada al-Sadr’s goal is to reach a coalition of 165 seats (which represent a majority of one seat in the 329-seat Parliament) to assure his government a majority and to block any attempts from pro-Iranian factions to form an alternative pro-Iranian government. To do so, he still needs to rally a plethora of petty political factions, such as Osama al-Nujaifi’s al-Qarar al-Iraqi alliance (14 seats ), Hanan al-Fatlawi’s Eradaa bloc (two seats), former Defense Minister Khaled al-Obaidi’s list (two seats), and the Kurdish Shasour Abd el-Wahed’s faction (one seat). There is no doubt that negotiations between the parties will last a long time. However, the chances are that those petty lists will agree to join the coalition in the “biggest bang” of politics in Iraq since the American invasion of 2003…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

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KURDS IN IRAQ ADRIFT AFTER IRAQI ELECTION

                                                Seth J. Frantzman

Jerusalem Post, May 26, 2018

 

At a meeting of Kurdistan Democratic Party officials on Saturday in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region in Iraq, the party sought Kurdish unity in negotiations with Baghdad. Two weeks after the May 12 election, the Kurdish parties, of which the KDP is the largest, are trying to determine how they can continue to play a central role in the coalition building that must take place for a new government to be formed.

But Kurdish politics has been in disarray since the independence referendum last September, and critics say the current discussions with Baghdad look more like begging for a role than playing the kingmaker as Kurds once did. The KDP came in fourth in the election, worse than Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon party, Hadi al-Amiri’s Fateh alliance and Haider al-Abadi’s Victory alliance. With 25 seats in the unicameral, 329-member legislature, they have the same strength as Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law Coalition. Maliki, Amiri, Sadr and Abadi all run parties whose main supporters are Shi’ite Arabs.

Together, all these other parties could simply run the country, without the Kurds or the Sunni Arabs. But politics isn’t so simple in Iraq. Amiri’s and Maliki’s parties are very close to Iran, while Sadr’s positioned itself as a nationalist party opposed to both Iranian and American influence in Iraq. This gives the Kurds the ability to sign on with one camp or another.

The current position of the Kurds illustrates how much things have changed in the last decade and a half since Iraq was liberated from Saddam Hussein’s tyranny. In the parliamentary election of December 2005, Massoud Barzani, leading a united Kurdish list, came in second with 53 seats. Since then the myriad Kurdish parties have increasingly contested the elections on their own, with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan taking around 20 seats each time and the smaller Kurdish Islamic parties and the Gorran (Change) movement taking a dozen seats between them. The fragmentation has weakened the Kurdish bargaining power in Baghdad.

During the four years of war against ISIS, this weakened bargaining power mattered less, because Baghdad’s policies appeared to have failed Iraq and allowed ISIS to take control of a third of the country.

In those years it was common to hear Kurdish Peshmerga on the front line say that Iraq was finished as a country; how could it recover from the divisions created by ISIS. Increasing Iranian influence and the growth of sectarian militias, called the Popular Mobilization Units, appeared to show that Iraq was slipping into corruption and chaos. Kurds could point to their region in the northeast as the one stable and economically viable area. The stability in the Kurdish region began to change after the referendum, when Baghdad took advantage of Kurdish divisions to retake Kirkuk in October 2017 from the Peshmerga, who had defended it against ISIS. Anger over late payment of salaries and accusations of corruption at the highest levels led to a series of mass protests in December.

It was in this context that Kurdish parties contested the recent election. But any thought that voters would punish the leading KDP and PUK parties did not materialize. Instead the traditional parties performed as expected. Nevertheless the bitterness from the fall of 2017 remains. After the election in Sulaimaniya, the Gorran party headquarters was fired upon. Four smaller Kurdish parties (Gorran, Coalition for Justice and Democracy, Kurdistan Islamic Union and Kurdistan Islamic Group) met with US anti-ISIS envoy Brett McGurk this past Tuesday, demanding the election results be annulled due to allegations of fraud. It’s unclear why they thought McGurk could get the results changed, he’s ostensibly in Iraq to coordinate the anti-ISIS fight, but there is widespread perception that he is there to represent US interests in coalition building after the election.

The KDP and PUK pursued a different avenue. On Wednesday, Sadr met with representatives of the PUK and KDP, and on Thursday the two leading Kurdish parties met with Maliki and Amiri in Baghdad. It’s not entirely clear what came out of the meetings between the Kurdish parties; it wasn’t so long ago that Maliki and Amiri were despised in Erbil; Maliki accused of being an Iranian pawn, and Amiri’s Shi’ite militias seen as a Shia version of ISIS. But power politics now takes precedence over old biases. There are rumors that Iran would like to see a coalition without Sadr, which would include the Kurdish parties and the other Shi’ite parties. But there are also rumors that the Kurdish parties could work with Sadr to undermine Iran’s influence.

Either way, Erbil’s demands appear to be mostly about salaries and economic rights. The region exports oil and wants its public salaries paid by Baghdad. The region is holding out hope that the new US strategy on Iran will mean more support for the Kurds as a traditional ally of Washington. The Kurdish region can only hope that it is needed as a coalition partner in Baghdad and by Washington to continue playing a vital role in Iraq.

 

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IRAQ’S CHRISTIANS: EIGHTY PERCENT HAVE “DISAPPEARED”

Giulio Meotti

Gatestone Institute, Apr. 1, 2018

 

Persecution of Christians is worse today “than at any time in history”, a recent report by the organization Aid to the Church in Need revealed. Iraq happens to be “ground zero” for the “elimination” of Christians from the pages of history. Iraqi Christian clergymen recently wore a black sign as a symbol of national mourning for the last victims of the anti-Christian violence: a young worker and a whole family of three. “This means that there is no place for Christians,” said Father Biyos Qasha of the Church of Maryos in Baghdad. “We are seen as a lamb to be killed at any time”.

A few days earlier, Shiite militiamen discovered a mass grave with the bodies of 40 Christians near Mosul, the former stronghold of the Islamic State and the capital of Iraqi Christianity. The bodies, including those of women and children, seemed to belong to Christians kidnapped and killed by ISIS. Many had crosses with them in the mass grave. Not a single article in the Western mainstream media wrote about this ethnic cleansing.

French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia made an urgent plea to Europe and the West to defend non-Muslims in the Middle East, whom he likened to Holocaust victims. “As our parents wore the yellow star, Christians are made to wear the scarlet letter of nun” Korsia said. The Hebrew letter “nun” is the same sound as the beginning of Nazareen, an Arabic term signifying people from Nazareth, or Christians, and used by the Islamic State to mark the Christian houses in Mosul.

Now a new report by the Iraqi Human Rights Society also just revealed that Iraqi minorities, such as Christians, Yazidis and Shabaks, are now victims of a “slow genocide”, which is shattering those ancient communities to the point of their disappearance. The numbers are significant. According to the report, 81% of Iraq’s Christians have disappeared from Iraq. The remaining number of Sabeans, an ancient community devoted to St. John the Baptist, is even smaller: 94% have disappeared from Iraq. Even 18% of Yazidis have left the country or been killed. Another human rights organization, Hammurabi, said that Baghdad had 600,000 Christians in the recent past; today there are only 150,000.

These numbers may be the reason Charles de Meyer, president of SOS Chrétiens d’Orient, has just spoken of the “extinction of Christians”. Father Salar Kajo of the Churches’ Nineveh Reconstruction Committee just spoke of the real possibility that “Christianity will disappear from Iraq”. Many ancient Christian churches and sites have been destroyed by Islamic extremists, such as Saint George Church in Mosul; the Virgin Mary Chaldean Church, attacked by car bomb, and the burned Armenian Church in Mosul. Hundreds of Christian homes have been razed in Mosul, where jihadists also toppled bell towers and crosses. The Iraqi clergy recently warned, “The churches are in danger”.

Tragically, Christians living in lands formerly under the control of the “Caliphate” have been betrayed by many actors in the West. Governments ignored their tragic fate. Bishops were often too aloof to denounce their persecution. The media acted as if they considered these Christians to be agents of colonialism who deserved to be purged from the Middle East. And the so-called “human rights” organizations abandoned them. European public opinion, supposedly always ready to rally against the discrimination of minorities, did not say a word about what Ayaan Hirsi Ali called “a war against Christians”.

Some communities, such as the small Christian enclaves of Mosul, are now lost forever. Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II said there is a “real danger” Christianity could just become a “museum” in the Middle East. He noted that Iraq has lost 80-90% of its Christian population. A few Christian villages have begun a slow and painful process of reconstruction with funds donated mainly by international relief organizations such as the US Knights of Columbus and Aid to the Church in Need. US Vice President Mike Pence recently promised to help these Christians. Action now must follow words. Christians who escaped and survived ISIS cannot depend today only on aid from churches and private groups.

Among European governments, only Hungary took a principled position and openly committed itself to save Iraqi Christianity from genocide. Recently, the Hungarian government opened a school for displaced Christians in Erbil; Hungary’s Minister of Human Resources, Zoltan Balog, attended the event. Imagine if all the other European countries, such as France and Germany, had done the same. The suffering of Christians in Iraq would today be much less and their numbers much higher.

The West was not willing to give sanctuary to these Christians when ISIS murdered 1,131 of them and destroyed or damaged 125 of their churches. We must now stand by their side before it is too late. After the mass displacements and the mass graves, we must help Christians rebuild in the lands where their people were martyred. Otherwise, even the smallest hope of hearing the sound of Christian church bells in the ancient lands of the Bible will be forever lost.

 

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On Topic Links

Once Hated by U.S. and Tied to Iran, Is Sadr Now ‘Face of Reform’ in Iraq?: Margaret Coker, New York Times, May 20, 2018

Iraqi Election Opens New Chapter: Amir Taheri, Gatestone Institute, May 20, 2018— During the British House of Commons’ stormy debate on 29 August 2013 on whether or not to intervene in Syria to stop further chemical weapon massacres by President Bashar al-Assad, the then leader of the opposition Ed Miliband boasted that he could prove intervention wrong by just one word: Iraq!

The ISIS Tactics That Have Left Iraqi Special Forces Weakened: Chirine Mouchantaf, Defense News, May 8, 2018— It took Iraqi forces three years to significantly drive Islamic State militants out of the country, but the group’s nontraditional tactics have damaged Iraq’s special forces, according to one major Iraqi military commander.

A Future for Kurdish Independence?: Michael Eppel, Middle East Quarterly, Mar. 01, 2018— The Kurdish independence referendum of September 25, 2017, has proven thus far to be an ill-conceived high-risk gamble.

CHRISTIANS & OTHER NON-MUSLIM MINORITIES HAVE GRIM FUTURE IN M.E. OUTSIDE ISRAEL

Dhimmis No More Christians’ Trauma in the Middle East: Daniel Pipes, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 21, 2017 — A new strain of thought has developed in Sunni Muslim thinking: ethnic cleansing. It’s not genocide, but it involves expelling non-Sunni populations.

How Roger Waters Stole Christmas: Bradley Martin, Christian Post, Dec. 12, 2017— Pink Floyd founder and anti-Israel activist Roger Waters announced that he will perform a closed-circuit pre-Christmas show to be broadcast in Bethlehem's Manger Square, scheduled to take place later this month.

Europe: The Islamization of Christmas: Soeren Kern, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 24, 2017— This year's Christmas season has been marked by Islam-related controversies in nearly every European country.

Condemning the Jewish State in Jesus' Name, Theologian Gary Burge is Making a Comeback: Dexter Van Zile, Jerusalem Journal, Dec. 15, 2017 — For a while, it looked like Gary Burge’s career as a prominent anti-Zionist in the United States had come to an end and that he was going to suffer a fate similar to his theological twin across the pond in England, Anglican Priest Stephen Sizer.

 

On Topic Links

 

Countering Christmas Jihad: Hany Ghoraba, IPT News, Dec. 19, 2017

Christian Reaction to Trump's Jerusalem Speech: Are We Headed to a Major Reset in Jewish-Christian Relations?: Rabbis Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein, Christian Post, Nov. 30, 2017

America’s 20 Most Influential Pro-Israel Evangelical Christians: Eliana Rudee, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 24, 2017

Critics Highlight Iran’s Persecution of Christians as Foreign Minister Zarif Issues Christmas Greetings: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Dec. 24, 2017

 

 

 

DHIMMIS NO MORE CHRISTIANS’ TRAUMA IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Daniel Pipes

Breaking Israel News, Dec. 21, 2017

 

A new strain of thought has developed in Sunni Muslim thinking: ethnic cleansing. It’s not genocide, but it involves expelling non-Sunni populations. Its spread means that non-Muslim minorities have a grim future in Muslim-majority countries; and some may have no future there at all. I shall trace the origins of ethnic cleansing in the Middle East, note its impact especially on Christians, and consider responses to it.

 

To begin, let us look at the standing of non-Muslims in Muslim-majority countries before 1800. Muslims viewed non-Muslim in two categories: monotheists recognized by Islam as adhering to a valid faith (this being mostly Jews and Christians) and polytheists (especially Hindus) lacking that recognition. The former category, our topic here, are known as People of the Book (Ahl al-Kitab). Muslims were relatively tolerant of People of the Book – but only if they accepted becoming dhimmi (protected persons) who acknowledged the rule of Muslims and the superiority of Islam; in other words, if they accepted an inferior status. They had to pay special taxes (called jizya) could not serve in the military or the police or, more generally, exercise authority over Muslims. Sumptuary laws abounded; a Christian or Jew should walk or go by mule but not on a horse and should defer to a Muslim on the street. (Of course, actual practice differed from one country to another and from one era to another.)

 

The recognized place granted to religious minorities made Muslim-ruled countries quite unlike premodern Christendom. Christians under Muslim rule enjoyed better conditions than Muslims under Christian rule; in 1200 or so, one would much rather be a Christian living in Muslim Spain than a Muslim living in Christian Spain. Likewise for Jews: Mark R. Cohen observes that “the Jews of Islam, especially during the formative and classical centuries (up to the thirteenth century), experienced much less persecution than did the Jews of Christendom.” But we must not romanticize the dhimmi status. Yes, it offered a degree of tolerance, cohabitation, and deference – but these were premised on the assumption of Muslim superiority and non-Muslim inferiority. It could also be abused at whim by Muslims. No modern citizen would accept the disabilities that accompanied living as a dhimmi.

 

Indeed, the dhimmi status came crashing down in modern times, which is to say after 1800, as European powers (British, French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and others) overwhelmed nearly the whole Muslim world. Even those few countries – Yemen, Arabia, Turkey, Iran – that escaped direct European control felt Europe’s predominance. Christian imperialists flipped the dhimmi status on its head, favoring Christians and also Jews, both of whom showed greater willingness to accept the new rulers, learn their languages and skills, work for them, and serve as intermediaries to the Muslim-majority population. Naturally, majority Muslim populations resented this heightened status of Christians and Jews.

 

When European rule came to its inevitable end, Muslims on returning to power put the minorities roughly back in their place – and worse, for the dhimmi status had earlier been discarded and was not to be revived. Unsure of themselves, the new rulers generally looked darkly at Peoples of the Book, angry at their having serviced the imperialists and suspicious of their abiding connections to Europe (and in the Jewish case, new ones to Israel). One could say that the second-class dhimmi status now became a third- or fourth-class post-dhimmistatus. The break-up of the Ottoman Empire witnessed more persecution of Christians and Jews than perhaps ever before, starting with the Armenians of Turkey in the 1910s and culminating with recent Christian traumas in Iraq and Syria.

 

Before continuing with the Christian experience, a few side words on the Jewish one. Ancient Jewish communities disappeared as a result of the collapse of the dhimmi status and the creation of Israel in 1948. Jews decamped or were pushed especially out in the 20-year period after World War II. The small but lively Jewish community of Algeria offers perhaps the most dramatic illustration of the post-imperial changes. The Jews there had so connected themselves to French rule that the entire Jewish community fled the country along with the French rulers in July 1962.[i] In 1945, the Jewish population in Muslim-majority countries numbered about a million; today, it hovers between 30,000 and 40,000, nearly all of whom live in Iran, Turkey, in Morocco. No more than a handful live elsewhere: maybe 60 Jews in Egypt, 9 in Iraq, and even fewer in Afghanistan; these nearly defunct communities of the elderly will no longer exist within a few years.

 

As the expression goes, “First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people.” And now is the Christian turn. Christians are now recapitulating the Jewish exodus. From 1500 to 1900, Christians made up a consistent 15 percent of the Middle East’s population, according to David B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnson. In 1910, that number had dipped to 13.6 percent, according to Todd M. Johnson and Gina A. Zurlo; and in 2010, Christians had been reduced to a meager 4.2 percent, or less than a third as large as a century earlier. The downward trend, of course, is steeply continuing. As the journalist Lee Smith puts it: “Being Christian in the Middle East has never been easy, but the wave of uprisings that has swept the region over the past year has made the situation for the region’s Christian minority almost unbearable.” The examples are alarming, and in many ways unprecedented in the long history of Muslim-Christian relations…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

 

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HOW ROGER WATERS STOLE CHRISTMAS

Bradley Martin

Christian Post, Dec. 12, 2017

 

Pink Floyd founder and anti-Israel activist Roger Waters announced that he will perform a closed-circuit pre-Christmas show to be broadcast in Bethlehem's Manger Square, scheduled to take place later this month. "I have to sadly accept the reality that I'm banging my head against the brick wall of the occupation," said Waters. It would appear all that banging has made Waters' head comfortably numb. Waters has been deemed an anti-Semite by the Anti-Defamation League who has performed with a giant pig-shaped balloon emblazoned with a Star of David. It is doubtful that this show is meant to encourage peace on earth and goodwill towards men.

 

But Waters would do well to remember that performing a pre-Christmas show in Bethlehem is in extremely poor taste. In Bethlehem, along with the rest of the Palestinian-controlled territories, the Christian population is facing the very real threat of extinction. In the birthplace of Jesus, Christians once comprised more than 70 percent of the city's population. Today, Christians constitute less than 15 percent of the population. Under the Palestinian Authority, Christian holy sites are routinely desecrated and destroyed. The PA has shown contempt for Christian holy sites, as exemplified when Yasser Arafat turned the Greek Orthodox monastery near the Church of the Nativity into his own personal domicile during his visits to the city.

 

However, the most outrageous act of desecration in Bethlehem occurred in the Church of the Nativity itself. In 2002, an estimated 180 PA gunmen took over the church, holding the priests, nuns and monks hostage. The terrorists looted the church of its food and valuables. Catholic priests at the site said that some of the Bibles in the church were used as toilet paper, while many valuable sacramental objects were looted.

 

When the hostages were released and the terrorists left the church, it was found that altars, religious objects and furniture were fouled by urine, cigarette butts, and human excrement. Churches, monasteries and convents throughout the Palestinian-controlled territories are frequently desecrated and destroyed, most recently in 2016, when the ruins of an 1,800-year-old Byzantine church in Gaza City was bulldozed by Hamas in order to make room for a shopping mall.

 

Christians are subject to systemic discrimination by both the PA and Hamas. This is to be expected, since Islam is the official religion of both governments. As a result, Christians have been relegated to dhimmi status, a somewhat tolerated but inferior class. The PA's judicial system does not ensure the equal protection of Christians, with injustices such as forced conversions to Islam, physical violence, and even murder. Palestinian Muslims are allowed to seize Christian property with impunity. Due to this ethnic cleansing, the Christian population in the Palestinian-controlled territories dropped from 15 percent of the population in 1950 to less than 1.3 percent today.

 

While Christians under Palestinian rule literally have their backs to the wall, the situation in Israel is quite the opposite. Since the Jewish State declared independence in 1948, the Christian population has enjoyed a five-fold increase, to an estimated 158,000 citizens. According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, Christian Arabs fare the best in terms of education when compared to any other religious group in Israel. Christians are to be found in every facet of Israeli civil and political life, exercising considerable influence in Israeli society that is disproportionate to their minority status. Salim Joubran, a Maronite Christian and Israeli Supreme Court judge, was in charge of overseeing Israel's 2015 legislative election. While Joubran retired earlier this year, another Israeli Arab Christian (George Karra) presideson Israel's Supreme Court.

 

Though Waters is apparently oblivious to the bleak reality facing Palestinian Christians, he continues to engage in anti-Semitism. Rather than raise awareness and condemn the ethnic cleansing of Christians under Palestinian rule, Waters prefers to bash Israel every chance he gets. Rock 'n' roll, at its best, is supposed to be about tolerance, peace and love. Does Waters truly want to commemorate this Christmas with even more bigotry and indifference to the suffering of others?

 

Bradley Martin is Deputy Editor for the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research

           

                                                                       

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EUROPE: THE ISLAMIZATION OF CHRISTMAS

Soeren Kern

Gatestone Institute, Dec. 24, 2017

 

This year's Christmas season has been marked by Islam-related controversies in nearly every European country. Most of the conflicts have been generated by Europe's multicultural political and religious elites, who are bending over backwards to secularize Christmas, ostensibly to ensure that Muslims will not be offended by the Christian festival. Many traditional Christmas markets have been renamed — Amsterdam Winter Parade, Brussels Winter Pleasures, Kreuzberger Wintermarkt, London Winterville, Munich Winter Festival — to project a multicultural veneer of secular tolerance.

 

More troubling are the growing efforts to Islamize Christmas. The re-theologizing of Christmas is based on the false premise that the Jesus of the Bible is the Jesus (Isa) of the Koran. This religious fusion, sometimes referred to as "Chrislam," is gaining ground in a West that has become biblically illiterate. In Britain, for instance, the All Saints Church in Kingston upon Thames recently held a joint birthday celebration for Jesus and Mohammed. The "Milad, Advent and Christmas Celebration" on December 3 was aimed at "marking the birthday of Prophet Mohammed and looking forward to the birthday of Jesus." The hour-long service included time for Islamic prayer and was followed by the cutting of a birthday cake.

 

The prominent Christian blog "Archbishop Cranmer" rebuked the church for its lack of discernment: "Note how this event is 'Marking the birthday of Prophet Mohammed,' but not looking forward to the birthday of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mohammed gets his prophethood, while Jesus gets neither his prophethood nor his priesthood; neither his kingship nor his messiahship. It's the exalted Prophet Mohammed along with plain old Jesus, because to have added any of his claims to divinity would, of course, have alienated many Muslims (if they hadn't already been alienated by the haram [forbidden by Islam] celebration), which wouldn't have been very interfaith or sensitively missional, would it?"

 

The blog added that exalting Mohammed in churches effectively proclaims that Mohammed is greater than Jesus: "Every time a church accords Mohammed the epithet 'Prophet,' they are rejecting the crucifixion, denying the resurrection of Christ, and refuting that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, for Mohammed denied all of these foundational tenets of the Christian faith."

 

Previously, a passage from the Koran denying that Jesus is the Son of God was read during a service at a Scottish Episcopal Church in Glasgow on Epiphany, a festival commemorating the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ. One of the Queen's chaplains, Gavin Ashenden, referred to the Koran reading as "blasphemy." He added that "there are other and considerably better ways to build 'bridges of understanding'" with Muslims.

 

In London, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims, a parliamentary group composed of members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, issued a report, "A Very Merry Muslim Christmas," aimed at drawing attention to the "humanity" of Muslims during Christmas. The report states:   "Too often, Muslim charities come to our attention because of negative media coverage… What we hear even less about is the 'Muslim Merry Christmas.' The soup kitchens, the food banks, the Christmas dinners, the New Year clean-up — work Muslim charities will be busy doing during the Christmas period."

 

In Scotland, the regional government was accused of "undermining" Britain's Christian heritage by promoting "winter festivals" for ethnic minorities while ignoring Christmas. Scotland's International Development Minister, Alasdair Allan, pledged nearly £400,000 ($535,000) to fund 23 events during the winter months. He described them as "key dates in our national calendar" and said the "exciting and diverse" program would help Scots "celebrate everything great about our wonderful country during the winter months." None of the events, however, has any connection to Christmas. A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland said:

 

"It is deeply disappointing that the Scottish Government has chosen not to recognize the religious reality of Christmas in its Winter Festival events. Over half of the population stated their religion as Christian in the last census. Catholics, and other Christians, may quite rightly wonder why this publicly-funded Festival does not include any events designed to help Scots celebrate the birth of Christ which is undoubtedly the most significant celebration in the winter months." Gordon Macdonald, of Christian charity CARE, added: "It is part of the general secularization that has been taking place within the Scottish Government for a number of years where our Christian heritage and value system has been undermined as a direct result of government policy."

 

In Denmark, a primary school in Graested cancelled a traditional church service marking the beginning of Christmas in order not to offend Muslim pupils. Some parents accused the school of having double-standards: it recently held an event called "Syria Week" in which children immersed themselves in Middle Eastern culture. Ignoring parents, the school board sided with the school: "The board backs the school's decision to create new traditions [emphasis added] that involve children and young people." Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who attended the school as a child, said the decision should be reversed. Health Minister Ellen Trane Norby added: "Danish primary schools have a duty to spread education — and teaching the cultural values and knowledge connected to Christmas is an essential part of that."…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    

 

Contents

CONDEMNING THE JEWISH STATE IN JESUS' NAME,

THEOLOGIAN GARY BURGE IS MAKING A COMEBACK

Dexter Van Zile

Jerusalem Journal, Dec. 15, 2017

 

For a while, it looked like Gary Burge’s career as a prominent anti-Zionist in the United States had come to an end and that he was going to suffer a fate similar to his theological twin across the pond in England, Anglican Priest Stephen Sizer. This past Easter, Sizer retired. His long career in the pulpit was marred by a number of unforced errors, such as promoting the notion that Israel was responsible for 9/11 and participating in a Holocaust-denial conference organized by, of all countries, Iran. After these debacles, his superiors in the Anglican Church finally told him to stop talking about the Arab-Israeli conflict altogether. They had had enough.

 

To add insult to injury, the folks at InterVarsity Press in both the United Kingdom and the United States decided that they too had enough and stopped printing his books which promoted the notion that God had abandoned the Jewish people and therefore no longer had any right to live in the Holy Land. For his Anglican superiors, Sizer’s retirement must have been a relief. For a while it looked like Burge, who made similar arguments about the illegitimacy of Jewish claims to the land in his notoriously counter-factual book, Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told about Israel and the Palestinians, might suffer a similar fate to Sizer.

 

Instead, Burge, who retired from Wheaton College, an Evangelical school in Illinois in 2016, is enjoying a boomlet of sorts. Recent thrust for his reignited star include an article in The Atlantic and an appearance on National Public Radio. Burge, now teaching at Calvin Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was given a platform by these outlets to articulate his response to the controversy surrounding President Donald Trump’s December 6, 2017 acknowledgement that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and that the U.S. will eventually move its embassy to the Holy City.

 

Predictably enough, Burge expressed concerns about the action, telling folks that not every Evangelical supports Trump’s decision and that the Evangelicals who do are making a mistake if they root their support in their reading of the Bible. In The Atlantic article, Burge argues that Jews who live in Israel really have no connection to the Israelites in the Bible and therefore, really don’t have any claim to the land of Israel. Moreover, he says, conservative Evangelicals who support Israel may not understand that the modern state of Israel isn’t anything like biblical Israel. After all, he asserts, “[W]hen you build a bridge from biblical Israel to modern Israel, there is an enormous gap in history and theology.”

 

These are interesting arguments for an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church USA to be making. Given the enormous gap of history and theology between Christ’s declaration that Peter was the rock upon which he would build his church and the founding of the PCUSA in 1983, one could just as easily argue that his denomination’s claim to salvation is as broken and attenuated as Burge says the Jewish claim is to Jerusalem.

 

A lot has happened over the past 2,000 years. But God is free and sovereign. If he can find a way to grant salvation to Presbyterians despite what has happened in the realm of Christianity over the past 2,000 years, maybe he can also use the modern secular state of Israel to demonstrate the firmness of His Promises to Jews in the 21st Century. If he can extend his promise of salvation to Christians in spite of all that has happened since the anointing of St. Peter as the leader of his church 2,000 years ago, maybe he still has a place in his heart for the Jews…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Countering Christmas Jihad: Hany Ghoraba, IPT News, Dec. 19, 2017—"Soon on your holidays," a sentence that would typically befit the celebrations of the Christmas festivities, was turned into a terrifying threat posted recently on an ISIS-related network vowing to attack major European cities during the Christmas holidays.

Christian Reaction to Trump's Jerusalem Speech: Are We Headed to a Major Reset in Jewish-Christian Relations?: Rabbis Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein, Christian Post, Nov. 30, 2017 —President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital was met with enthusiasm by most American Jews. Christian reaction to the announcement, however, has been an eye-opener, and might have greater impact upon future Jewish-Christian relations than the President's announcement will ultimately have on the politics of the Middle East.

America’s 20 Most Influential Pro-Israel Evangelical Christians: Eliana Rudee, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 24, 2017—Newsmax has recently published its 100 Most Influential Evangelicals in America list, ranking pastors, teachers, politicians, athletes, and entertainers “from all walks of life whose faith leads them to live differently and to help others in a variety of ways.” Breaking Israel News wondered: How many of these prominent Christians use their influence to support Israel through investment and advocacy? Below, find BIN’s exclusive list of the top 20 pro-Israel Christians in America.

Critics Highlight Iran’s Persecution of Christians as Foreign Minister Zarif Issues Christmas Greetings: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Dec. 24, 2017—Iran’s foreign minister encountered an angry response on Sunday when he took to Twitter on Christmas Eve to wish a “happy and peaceful Christmas to all.” Citing a verse from the Quran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif – a key architect, with former US Secretary of State John Kerry, of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal – declared: “May Christ’s universal message of peace be embraced in the coming year.”

                                                              

 

 

EGYPT’S CHRISTIANS SLAUGHTERED BY I.S.; MEANWHILE, CAIRO & U.S. RESET RELATIONS

 

 

44 Dead Christians: Islam’s Latest Victims: Raymond Ibrahim, Frontpage, Apr. 10, 2017— Egypt’s Christians started Holy Week celebrations by being blown up yesterday. 

Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox are Proud to be Slain by ISIL for their Christianity. That is Awesome: Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Post, Apr. 11, 2017 — It is an awful thing — a blasphemous thing, a sacrilegious thing — to massacre people at prayer, as ISIL did on Palm Sunday in Egypt, killing more than 40 Coptic Orthodox at two churches, including the cathedral in Alexandria.

Fighting Terror, Appeasing Autocrats: Max Boot, Commentary, Apr. 10, 2017 — Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s visit to President Trump signals the restoration of the close U.S.-Egyptian relations that have been a key pillar of U.S. policy toward the Middle East for four and half decades.

Can Trump Cut a Deal With Egypt?: Eric Trager, Wall Street Journal, Mar. 30, 2017 — The relationship between Egypt and the U.S. will look sunnier on Monday…

               

On Topic Links

 

Egypt Terror Ensnares Israel as Sinai Border Crossing Closed: Fox News, Apr. 10, 2017

A Day After Attack, Grief Turns to Anger for Egypt’s Christian Minority: Maria Abi-Habib and Dahlia Kholaif, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 10, 2017

Palm Sunday Bombing Underscores Depth of Egypt's Anti-Christian Bigotry: John Rossomando, IPT, Apr. 12, 2017

After White House Visit, Egyptian President Sisi Said to Be ‘Very Optimistic’ About Trump Administration: Barney Breen-Portnoy, Algemeiner, Apr. 7, 2017

 

44 DEAD CHRISTIANS: ISLAM’S LATEST VICTIMS

                                                 Raymond Ibrahim                                                                                                                    Frontpage, Apr. 10, 2017

 

Egypt’s Christians started Holy Week celebrations by being blown up yesterday.  Two Coptic Christian Orthodox churches packed with worshippers for Palm Sunday mass were attacked by Islamic suicide bombers; a total of 44 were killed and 126 wounded and mutilated. Horrific scenes of carnage—limbs and blood splattered on altars and pews—are being reported from both churches.   Twenty-seven people—initial reports indicate mostly children—were killed in St. George’s in Tanta, north Egypt.  “Where is the government?” yelled an angry Christian there to AP reporters. “There is no government! There was a clear lapse in security, which must be tightened from now on to save lives.”

 

Less than two hours later, 17 people were killed in St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria, which—since the original church building founded by the Evangelist Mark in the first century was burned to the ground during the 7th  century Muslim invasions of Egypt—has been the historic seat of Coptic Christendom.  Pope Tawadros, who was present—and apparently targeted—evaded the carnage.

 

In death toll and severity, Sunday’s bombings surpass what was formerly considered the deadliest church attack in Egypt: less than four months ago, on Sunday, December 11, 2016, an Islamic suicide bomber entered the St. Peter Cathedral in Cairo during mass, detonated himself and killed at least 27 worshippers—mostly women and children—and wounded nearly 70.  Descriptions of scenes from that bombing are virtually identical to those coming from Egypt now: “I found bodies, many of them women, lying on the pews. It was a horrible scene.  I saw a headless woman being carried away.  Everyone was in a state of shock. We were scooping up people’s flesh off the floor.  There were children. What have they done to deserve this? I wish I had died with them instead of seeing these scenes.” 

 

Before the December 11 attack, the deadliest church bombing occurred on January 1, 2011.  Then, while ushering in the New Year, 23 Christians were blown to bits. The Islamic state claims both December 11’s and yesterday’s bombings. (Because there was no “Islamic State” around in 2011, only generic “Islamics” can claim that one.)  This uptick in Christian persecution is believed to be in response to a video recently released by the Islamic State in Sinai.  In it, masked militants promised more attacks on the “worshipers of the cross,” a reference to the Copts of Egypt, whom they also referred to as their “favorite prey” and—in a bit of classic Muslim projection—as the “infidels who are empowering the West against Muslim nations.”

 

It should be remembered that for every successful church bomb attack in Egypt, there are numerous failed or “too-insignificant-to-report” ones.   Thus, in the week before yesterday’s bombings, an explosive device was found by St. George’s in Tanta and dismantled in time.  Before that, another bomb was found planted at the Collège Saint Marc, an all-boys school in downtown Alexandria.  Similarly, a couple of weeks before December 11’s church bombing, a man hurled an improvised explosive at another church in Samalout.  Had that bomb detonated—it too was dismantled in time—casualties would likely have been very high, as the church was packed with thousands of worshippers congregating for a special holiday service.  In a separate December incident, Islamic slogans and messages of hate—including “you will die Christians”—were painted on the floor of yet another church, that of the Virgin Mary in Damietta.

 

Yesterday’s church bombings also follow a spate of murderous hate crimes against Christians throughout Egypt in recent weeks and month—crimes that saw Copts burned alive and slaughtered on busy streets and in broad daylight and displaced from the Sinai.  In a video of these destitute Copts, one man can be heard saying “They are burning us alive! They seek to exterminate Christians altogether!  Where’s the [Egyptian] military?”  Another woman yells at the camera, “Tell the whole world, look—we’ve left our homes, and why? Because they kill our children, they kill our women, they kill our innocent people!  Why? Our children are terrified to go to schools.  Why? Why all this injustice?!  Why doesn’t the president move and do something for us?  We can’t even answer our doors without being terrified!”…

 

In response to yesterday’s church bombings, President Sisi declared a three-month state of emergency, adding in a statement that such attacks will only strengthen the resolve of Egyptians against “evil forces.” For his part, President Trump tweeted that he is “so sad to hear of the terrorist attack” but that he has “great confidence” that Sisi “will handle the situation properly.”  Sisi further said in his statement that “Egyptians have foiled plots and efforts by countries and fascist, terrorist organizations that tried to control Egypt.”

 

But what of what happens right inside of Egypt?  Is Sisi “handl[ing] the situation properly” there?  Whether those terrorizing Coptic Christians are truly card-holding members of ISIS or are mere sympathizers, the fact is they are all homegrown in Egypt—all taught to hate “infidels” in the mosques and schools of Egypt.

 

Sisi himself openly acknowledged this in 2015 when he stood before Egypt’s Islamic clerics of Al Azhar and implored them to do something about how Islam is taught to Muslims.  Among other things, Sisi said that the “corpus of [Islamic] texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries” are  “antagonizing the entire world” and that Egypt (or the Islamic world in its entirety) “is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.”

 

Just how seriously his words were taken was revealed last November when Egypt’s highest Islamic authority, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb—who appeared sitting in the front row during Sisi’s 2015 speech—defended Al Azhar’s reliance on that very same “corpus of [Islamic] texts and ideas … sacralized over the centuries” which many reformers are eager to see eliminated from Egypt’s curriculum because they support the most “radical” expressions of Islam—including killing apostates, burning infidels, persecuting Christians and destroying churches. 

 

Egypt’s Grand Imam went so far as to flippantly dismiss the call to reform as quixotic at best: When they [Sisi and reformers] say that Al Azhar must change the religious discourse, change the religious discourse, this too is, I mean, I don’t know—a new windmill that just appeared, this “change religious discourse”—what change religious discourse?  Al Azhar doesn’t change religious discourse—Al Azhar proclaims the true religious discourse, which we learned from our elders. And the law that the elders of Islam, the ulema, bequeathed to Muslims preaches hate for “infidels”—which, in Egypt, means Christians.  This is Egypt’s ultimate problem, not, to quote Sisi, foreign “countries and fascist, terrorist organizations,” which are symptoms of the problem.                                                                           

 

Contents   

                     

EGYPT’S COPTIC ORTHODOX ARE PROUD TO BE

SLAIN BY ISIL FOR THEIR CHRISTIANITY. THAT IS AWESOME

Father Raymond J. de Souza                                                                         

National Post, Apr. 11, 2017

 

It is an awful thing — a blasphemous thing, a sacrilegious thing — to massacre people at prayer, as ISIL did on Palm Sunday in Egypt, killing more than 40 Coptic Orthodox at two churches, including the cathedral in Alexandria. It is an awesome thing — literally rendering us full of awe — to behold the death of those killed while most fully Christian, singing God’s praises and giving witness to Him.

 

This is not the first jihadist massacre of Christians in Egypt; not so many years ago there will killings of Christians leaving Christmas Mass. I try not to let the lack of novelty diminish the hot and righteous anger that ought greet such assaults, but this time was different. By the time I heard the news — I spend less time following the travails of the world on Sundays — I was also able to hear the response of the Coptic Church. I bow my head before their great faith. “With great pride, the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church, the Church of Martyrs, bade her sons farewell, who were martyred today Sunday April 9, 2017, during the liturgy of Palm Sunday,” the official statement read. “They were carrying the palm leaves, praying and celebrating the commemoration of the entry of Christ, the King of Peace, to the city of Jerusalem.”

 

“The souls of the martyrs have been slain by the hands of the enemies of humanity, the enemies of peace and the carrier of tools of destruction. But now, with all the Church, they are offering their prayers to the Just Judge who sees, hears and writes a book of remembrance.” They have “great pride” that their own are counted among the number of the martyrs! What amazing grace. It was not their choice to be killed because they were Christians. It is their choice to receive that martyrdom precisely as Christians, strengthened, not diminished, in their faith. It is an inspiration, just as those Coptic Christians beheaded on the beach two years ago whispered the name of Jesus as the jihadists drew their knives against their necks.

 

“We have seen the photos. It is very heartbreaking,” said Bishop Makar of Sharquia about his fellow Orthodox murdered on Palm Sunday. “The deacons are standing for prayer, starting the liturgy on earth to be ended in heaven. I was one of them long ago; I used to stand with them, chanting hymns together. They continue now in heaven. Life with Christ starts on earth but it is completed in heaven.” For Orthodox and Catholics, the purpose of the liturgy is not only to listen to God and speak to Him, but more than that. The liturgy of heaven — the saints gathered around the crucified and risen Jesus — somehow breaks into this world. At the earthly liturgy we are already beholding what shall be. To be martyred like those deacons chanting, or the French priest murdered at the altar last summer, is to move directly from the antechamber of heaven to the great throne room.

 

The funerals were led by His Holiness Pope Tawadros II who was at the cathedral of Alexandria when the bombing took place there, but was not hurt. As leader of the 10-million Coptic Orthodox in Egypt, it may have been that ISIL planned to assassinate him. Alexandria is one of principal seats of ancient Christianity where, one might note, Christians have been worshipping since before Islam existed. When each coffin was brought in to the funeral, the congregation interrupted their sobs with thunderous applause. They recognized in their dead the principal mystery of this Holy Week: that the Cross of Christ ends not in the tomb, but with the promised glory of the resurrection.

 

On Palm Sunday, Christians wave palm branches, recalling the triumphal entry of Jesus — just days before His arrest and crucifixion — into Jerusalem, the holy city. The palm branch then was waved in homage, as for a king. In Christian iconography the palm branch has since become a symbol of martyrdom; martyred saints are often depicted carrying it. And so the Copts were, unwittingly, hailing the martyrs in their own midst. In every Catholic Church in the world on Palm Sunday, from the hermit priest at his solitary altar to the Holy Father in St. Peter’s Square, Psalm 22 was proclaimed. It begins with the cry that no doubt filled the churches in Egypt as the bombs exploded: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

 

The psalm is a prayer of great desperation, even a cry of dereliction. But it concludes with a confession of faith: “I will proclaim Your name to my brethren, in the midst of the assembly I will praise You.” That is what the Christians of Egypt did on Sunday, at the beginning of Holy Week. They proclaim God’s praises in the assembly and before the entire world.                                                                                   

 

Contents                                                                                                       

FIGHTING TERROR, APPEASING AUTOCRATS                                                                             

Max Boot                                                                                                                               

Commentary, Apr. 10, 2017

 

A week ago, President Trump rolled out the red carpet for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who was persona non grata in the Obama White House because of his human-rights violations. There is no evidence that Trump even brought up the human-rights issue. Instead he extended unwavering praise, saying, “We agree on so many things. I just want to let everybody know in case there was any doubt that we are very much behind President el-Sisi. He’s done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. We are very much behind Egypt and the people of Egypt. The United States has, believe me, backing, and we have strong backing.”

 

It was widely noted that Trump enthusiastically shook Sisi’s hand after having previously refused to shake hands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a photo-op. Body language spoke volumes. The reason for Trump’s embrace of the Egyptian president is obvious: He sees Sisi as a good guy because he overthrew a Muslim Broterhood regime and is actively repressing the Brothers. In the war against “radical Islamic terrorism,” there is no doubt which side Sisi is on. But while Sisi’s zeal in persecuting jihadists is undoubted, his skill and success are very much open to doubt. That was evident on Sunday when ISIS suicide bombers killed at least 44 people at two Coptic Christian churches in Egypt. This is only the latest such attack; a previous bombing at a Christian church in December killed at least 28.

 

The situation in the Sinai, where the Egyptian ISIS affiliate is based, is even worse. As Eric Trager of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy noted: “ISIS in Sinai has used advanced weapons to shoot down Egyptian military helicopters, destroy an M60 battle tank, and sink an Egyptian patrol boat off the coast of El-Arish. It also claimed responsibility for the October 2015 bombing of a Russian passenger jet in which 224 civilians were killed. U.S. government officials estimate that approximately 2,000 Egyptian soldiers have been killed in Sinai since the operation began – a shocking figure, considering that estimates typically put ISIS in Sinai’s membership at 1,000-1,500.”

 

Why isn’t Sisi being more successful? A lot of the problem, Trager argues, is that Egypt’s military is still locked in a conventional warfare mindset, similar to the U.S. military in Vietnam or in the early stages of the Iraq War. Thus, the Egyptian generals neglect the kind of more subtle, less heavy-handed counterinsurgency approaches that are usually the most effective. Sisi’s widespread repression doesn’t help. Not only is he locking up large numbers of Muslim Brothers, but he is also targeting liberal civil-society activists and anyone else suspected of disloyalty to his regime. That could wind up costing his regime the kind of popular support it needs to effectively gather intelligence against the terrorists.

 

Meanwhile Sisi is mismanaging the economy. As Robert Kagan and Michelle Dunne, co-chairs of the bipartisan Working Group on Egypt, observed, while Sisi has made some positive moves such as floating Egypt’s currency and reducing energy subsidies, “he has failed to take badly needed steps to train the burgeoning labor force and to encourage job creation in the private sector. According to official statistics, Egypt’s misery index in February was 45 percent: 33 percent core inflation plus 12 percent unemployment. Unemployment among Egyptians under 30 is much higher. Instead, Sissi has funneled billions into the vast business empire of the Egyptian military. Mega-construction projects such as the $8 billion Suez Canal expansion and the $45 billion new desert capital city keep the generals happy — and Sissi coup-proof.”

 

In short, Sisi is hardly a model ally, even if his rule is preferable to that of the Muslim Brotherhood. There is a real danger, in fact, that, just like Hosni Mubarak, he is presiding over a repressive, dysfunctional regime that will create more terrorism than it eliminates. As a major Sisi backer, the U.S. will find itself in the crosshairs of Egyptian radicals. Given that the current head of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is an Egyptian physician who was radicalized under the Mubarak regime, we know what that kind of blowback might look like. there is a case for giving Sisi a bear-hug and then, once he has confidence in the United States, pressuring him to ease up on human-rights violation, to refine his blunderbuss conventional campaign against terrorism, and to take badly needed steps for economic growth. Perhaps that is Trump’s strategy. But Sisi, who receives $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid, is more likely getting the message that Washington has given him a blank check for repression. That will not serve U.S. interests well.                            

 

Contents

                                                                        

CAN TRUMP CUT A DEAL WITH EGYPT?                                                                                         

Eric Trager                                                                                                   

Wall Street Journal, Mar. 30, 2017

 

The relationship between Egypt and the U.S. will look sunnier on Monday, when President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi visits President Trump in Washington. Under the Obama administration, Mr. Sisi’s authoritarianism made him persona non grata. The key question: Can Mr. Trump translate the warm welcome into a “good deal” for America? This isn’t the first U.S.-Egypt “reset.” Upon taking office, President Obama courted Mr. Sisi’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, who had resented the Bush administration’s “freedom agenda.” Mr. Obama emphasized convergence with Egypt on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, while playing down human-rights concerns.

 

Mr. Obama’s priorities shifted, however, once Mr. Mubarak was overthrown in 2011. The White House backed Egypt’s democratic transition and cooperated with the Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi, who won the 2012 presidential election. The following year, after mass protests in Egypt, the military, led by Mr. Sisi, ousted Mr. Morsi and oversaw a deadly crackdown on Morsi supporters. The Obama White House responded by withholding weapons shipments. Cairo interpreted this as U.S. support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt soon declared a terrorist organization. Weapons shipments resumed in 2015, but Cairo’s distrust of Washington persisted. Meanwhile, Egypt deepened its ties to Russia through arms deals and joint military exercises.

 

Now Mr. Sisi will encounter a friendlier White House. Mr. Trump is skeptical of democracy promotion and won’t press Egypt on political reform. Officials in the Trump administration have praised Mr. Sisi’s 2014 speech urging Muslim clerics to combat extremism. And they share his view that the Brotherhood is a terrorist organization.

 

Warmer relations could improve intelligence sharing and strategic cooperation. At the very least, Cairo should consult with Washington regarding Russia’s reported deployment of troops in western Egypt. Perhaps support for Mr. Sisi would dampen the anti-Americanism in Egypt’s media. If Mr. Trump insists, maybe Mr. Sisi will release Aya Hegazy, a U.S. citizen who has been arbitrarily detained since 2014. Still, both countries’ domestic politics pose challenges. Egyptian officials have requested more U.S. military and economic aid. Egypt also wants Washington to renew cash-flow financing, which enables it to sign more expensive weapons contracts. But Mr. Trump vows to cut foreign aid.

 

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump ought to prioritize Egypt’s counterterrorism efforts. Egypt’s military was built to fight land wars, and its brass refuses to focus aid on counterterrorism. Cairo may try to win this debate by playing to Mr. Trump’s pledge to create jobs: Buying weapons systems ultimately helps employment in the defense industry. Mr. Trump’s best chance to cut a “good deal” with Mr. Sisi may be on Monday, when the Egyptian leader receives the Washington welcome he has long desired. But if Mr. Sisi pockets that victory without conceding anything on his country’s deepening relationship with Russia, prosecution of Americans, or aid priorities, Mr. Trump will have wasted Washington’s best hand in years.

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Egypt Terror Ensnares Israel as Sinai Border Crossing Closed: Fox News, Apr. 10, 2017—Warnings of an "imminent" terror attack forced Israel to close its Taba border crossing to the Sinai peninsula Monday, one day after terrorists in Egypt bombed two Christian churches, killing dozens of worshippers on Palm Sunday.

A Day After Attack, Grief Turns to Anger for Egypt’s Christian Minority: Maria Abi-Habib and Dahlia Kholaif, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 10, 2017—As family and friends gathered Monday to bury a university student killed in the suicide attack on worshipers here on Palm Sunday, grief boiled over into anger over the government’s inability to protect Egypt’s Christian minority.

Palm Sunday Bombing Underscores Depth of Egypt's Anti-Christian Bigotry: John Rossomando, IPT, Apr. 12, 2017—Suicide bombings of two Coptic churches in Egypt Sunday by ISIS terrorists should not be viewed in isolation. The bombings killed 44 people and injured 100 more, and mark the deadliest in a series of attacks targeting the country's Christian minority.

After White House Visit, Egyptian President Sisi Said to Be ‘Very Optimistic’ About Trump Administration: Barney Breen-Portnoy, Algemeiner, Apr. 7, 2017—Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is “very optimistic” about the Trump administration, a lobbyist who took part in a Washington, DC meeting with the leader this week told The Algemeiner on Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UNIVERSITIES CHAMPION MARXISM, POST-COLONIALISM & “BDS”, WHILE SUPPRESSING FREE SPEECH

How Anti-Israel Resolutions Were Defeated at American Historical Association‎: Jeffrey Herf, Legal Insurrection, Jan. 6, 2016— …By a vote of 144 to 51, members of the American Historical Association, at the Business Meeting of their annual convention in New York City on January 4, decided not to pursue two resolutions that denounced aspects of the policies of the government of Israel.

Marxism Failed in the World, But Conquered Western Academia: Philip Carl Salzman, Daily Caller, Jan. 11, 2016 — One  of the great lessons of the 20th century, paid for with the suffering and blood of hundreds of millions, is that communism was a failure in both economy and governance.

Academics for Free Speech…No, Really: George F. Will, National Post, Dec. 28, 2015— Although he is just 22, Andrew Zeller is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in mathematics at Purdue University.

Christian Evangelicals in Jerusalem Show Love for Israel: Daniel Estrin, Business Insider, Oct. 1, 2016 — Thousands of evangelical Christians from more than 80 countries descended upon Jerusalem…

 

On Topic Links

 

2015's Hits at DanielPipes.org: Daniel Pipes Blog, Jan. 10, 2016

If You Want to Change the Campus Culture, Look to the Faculty: Mitchell Bard, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 14, 2016

ISIL Fight Forgets Lessons of First Gulf War: Matthew Fisher, National Post, Jan. 14, 2015

The Battle of the Budge – December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945: Nurit Greenger, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 12, 2015

 

 

HOW ANTI-ISRAEL RESOLUTIONS WERE DEFEATED AT

AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION

Jeffrey Herf

Legal Insurrection, Jan. 6, 2016

 

…By a vote of 144 to 51, members of the American Historical Association, at the Business Meeting of their annual convention in New York City on January 4, decided not to pursue two resolutions that denounced aspects of the policies of the government of Israel…It is the most decisive defeat that groups supporting resolutions denouncing Israel have suffered since "BDS" (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) efforts gathered steam in American universities in recent years.

 

This is a preliminary anatomy of its defeat. The case for rejection on procedural grounds was straightforward. Readers of Legal Insurrection will understand that debates about procedure are also debates about substance and the rule of law.

 

The AHA bylaws require that members wishing to submit resolutions to be considered at the Business Meeting must do so by November lst. An initial resolution was submitted by the Historians Against the War (HAW). HAW is a group of leftist academics that emerged in opposition to the war in Iraq and that issued a petition alleging Israel had committed "war crimes" during the war with Hamas last summer. I wrote about the emergence of a "pro-Hamas left". An earlier anti-Israeli resolution was rejected because, according to AHA executive director James Grossman, it went "beyond matters of concern to the Association, to the profession of history, or to the academic profession."

 

HAW's original petition included demands for a boycott of Israel universities and implementation of the Palestinian right of return. That resolution was rejected by the AHA Council because the advocates had not gathered enough signatures and because the content of the resolution was deemed, in the words of AHA executive director James Grossman, "beyond matters of concern to the Association, to the profession of history, or to the academic profession."

 

On December 22, 2014, HAW submitted revised resolutions. The revisions eliminated the boycott and right of return elements but included allegations that Israel threatened an oral history archive when it bombed buildings at the Islamic University in Gaza in August 2014, and that it denied access of foreign scholars and Palestinian students to universities in Gaza and on the West Bank. HAW then requested that the AHA Council decide whether or not to place the resolution on the agenda, even though it was submitted six weeks after the deadline, something that the Council had the right to do, despite the restrictions regarding resolutions in the organization's bylaws.

 

At its meeting on January 2, 2014, the Council, led by AHA President Jan Goldstein (University of Chicago), refused to do so for two reasons. First, the December 22 resolution was submitted six weeks after the November 1 deadline, and therefore, AHA members did not have the opportunity to evaluate them. Second, because the resolutions were filed so late, many members would not be at the business meeting because they did not know these matters would be discussed there.

 

A memo by Sonya Michel of the University of Maryland is an important document in this matter. Submitted on December 29th, the Michel memo was circulated to the AHA Council. Michel urged that the AHA Council not to place the HAW resolutions on the agenda because doing so would "be violating the spirit of that bylaw" requiring a two-thirds majority, which,"was probably inserted to prevent a small group (whether a minority or slim majority) from imposing its will at the last minute on the membership at large, perhaps catching them unawares about an important issue coming up." Doing so would also not give "members adequate time and opportunity for full consideration of important issues–issues that, in this case, are by all accounts extremely controversial," she added. "Notifying members that these items are on the agenda of the meeting only at the meeting itself would deny them the kind of information they would need to decide whether or not to attend the Business Meeting in the first place."

 

Michel and a number of us elaborated on these points as well at the business meeting. As I pointed out on the floor of that meeting, the issue of time needed for reflection was of central concern to historians. The rejection of the resolutions also rested on a reassertion of the principle that the AHA is a scholarly, not a political, organization.

 

To ask historians at a business meeting to reach conclusions about assertions of fact regarding events that supposedly occurred during the Gaza War and travel rights of scholars in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank was absurd. This was the case because it was asking historians to act on the basis political opinions rather than as a result of careful examination of evidence. No one, we argued, was able to make such assessments as a result of scholarly research. Doing so without research would be abolishing the distinction between politics and scholarship—doing what no historian should do, namely assume what remained to be proven before examination of evidence had taken place…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

                                                                        Contents

                                       

                    MARXISM FAILED IN THE WORLD,

                        BUT CONQUERED WESTERN ACADEMIA                                                                                                Philip Carl Salzman                                                                                                              Daily Caller, Jan. 11, 2016

 

One of the great lessons of the 20th century, paid for with the suffering and blood of hundreds of millions, is that communism was a failure in both economy and governance. This was demonstrated repeatedly with the fall of the Soviet Union, the switch in China from communes and central planning to capitalism, the vast slaughter of the Khmer Rouge, the breakdown of the Cuban economy, and the starving prison house that is North Korea.

 

The one place that marxism has succeeded is in conquering academia in Europe and North America. Marxism-Leninism is now the dominant model of history and society being taught in Western universities and colleges. Faculties of social science and humanities disguise their marxism under the label “postcolonialism,” anti-neoliberalism, and the quest for equality and “social justice.” And while our educational institutions laud “diversity” in gender, race, sexual preference, religion, national origin, etc., diversity in opinion, theory, and political view is nowhere to be seen. So our students hear only the Marxist view, and take it to be established truth.

 

Postcolonialism is the view that all ills in the world stem from Western imperialism and colonialism. The hierarchical caste system in India, that disenfranchises half the population as “untouchables,” is, according to postcolonial analysis, and invention of the British while they governed India. So too with tribes in Africa, allegedly invented by the British colonial authorities to “divide and conquer” the native African, who previously had all mixed together happily with no divisions and no conflicts. So too in Central Asia, where, thanks to Soviet colonial authorities, “formerly fluid hybridities and contextual identifications were stabilized, naturalized, and set into a particular mold that gave each group a definitive history, physiognomy, mentality, material culture, customs, language, and territory,” according to one postcolonial author. Apparently, according to the postcolonial view, history and culture in India, Africa, and Central Asia started with the arrival of outsiders in recent centuries.

 

In the Middle East, problems and disorder began, according to postcolonialism, with the Sykes-Picot arbitrary boundaries imposed by the West after WWI, and the imposition of the “foreign and colonialist” Jews on the “indigenous” Palestinians. Unnoticed by postcolonialists are the Persian, Hittite, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Mongol, and Ottoman imperial conquests that made up much of Middle Eastern history, or the unending tribal conflicts beyond the control of imperial authorities. Once again, for postcolonialists, local and regional cultures were benign, and history began with Western imperialism in recent centuries.

 

The dirtiest word in the marxist vocabulary is “neoliberal,” which stands for an economy based on capitalist principles and processes. Students have learned that “neoliberal” is equivalent to evil. Two students, independently, recently said to me that “we need to replace capitalism,” although they had no suggestions about what to replace it with. That half the world tried to replace capitalism in the 20th century, with disastrous results, they apparently had no idea. That capitalism has brought unparalleled prosperity, if not peace and happiness, is unknown to students. They have been taught that the only products of capitalism are exploitation and oppression. Globalization is taught as the expansion of exploitation and oppression worldwide. The great economic developments in Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Thailand, and the economic progress in Africa, is terra incognita to students, taught only problems but no successes.

 

Students are taught that the primary value is equality: not liberal equality of opportunity, but the equality of result idealized in marxist theory. They are not taught, and give no thought to complementary values, such as freedom and prosperity. Equality of result is advocated under the guise of “social justice,” which means redistribution of wealth. Students rail against the “1%,” unaware that most members of that category are salaried doctors, lawyers, and businessmen who earn their top wages. Nor do they understand that stock ownership is widespread in Western societies, by both private individuals and public institutions, such as pension funds and universities.

 

The marxism taught in colleges and universities is anti-Western, seeing the West as no more than a source of conquest, oppression, and exploitation. Consequently, non-Western cultures are upheld as purer, more decent, and fairer than Western culture. The alliance between Marxist politics and islamism as seen in the support of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood follows logically. Students now see themselves as defenders of Islam, along with all other non-Western cultures, although they know little about these other cultures and their histories. It has been imagined that the West would fall through materialist decadence; but now it appears that the West is most at risk from self-hate, fostered by the treason of the academics.

 

Prof. Philip Carl Salzman is a CIJR Academic Fellow

 

 

Contents

                           

ACADEMICS FOR FREE SPEECH…NO, REALLY                                                            

                    George F. Will

National Post, Dec. 28, 2016

 

Although he is just 22, Andrew Zeller is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in mathematics at Purdue University. He is one reason the school is a rare exception to the rule of unreason on American campuses, where freedom of speech is under siege. He and Purdue are evidence that freedom of speech, by which truth is winnowed from error, is most reliably defended by those in whose intellectual pursuits the truth is most rigorously tested by reality.

 

While in high school in Bowling Green, Ohio, Zeller completed three years of college undergraduate courses. He arrived at Purdue when its incoming president, Indiana’s former Gov. Mitch Daniels, wanted the university to receive the top “green light” rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which combats campus restrictions on speech and rates institutions on their adherence to constitutional principles.

 

Zeller, president of Purdue’s graduate student government, and some undergraduate leaders urged Daniels to do what he was eager to do: Purdue has become the second university (after Princeton) to embrace the essence of the statement from the University of Chicago that affirms the principle that “education should not be intended to make people comfortable, it is meant to make them think.” The statement says “it is not the proper role of the university to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable or even deeply offensive,” and it endorses “a solemn responsibility not only to promote a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation, but also to protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it.”

 

Why is Purdue one of just six universities that have now aligned with the spirit of the Chicago policy? Partly because of Daniels’ leadership. But also because Purdue, Indiana’s land-grant institution, is true to the 1862 Morrill Act’s emphasis on applied learning. It graduates more engineers than any U.S. university other than Georgia Tech. Purdue, tied with the University of California-Berkeley, awards more STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) undergraduate diplomas than all but two public research universities (Penn State and Texas A&M). Among such universities, a higher percentage of Purdue students graduate in STEM fields than those of any school other than Georgia Tech and the University of California, San Diego.

 

Scientists and engineers live lives governed by the reality principle: get the variables wrong, the experiment will fail, even if this seems insensitive; do the math wrong, the equation will tell you, even if that hurts your feelings. Reality does not similarly regulate the production of Marxist interpretations of “Middlemarch” or turgid monographs on the false consciousness of Parisian street sweepers in 1714. Literature professors “deconstructing” Herman Melville cause nothing worse than excruciating boredom in their students. If engineers ignore reality, reality deconstructs their bridges. The Yale instructor whose email about hypothetically insensitive Halloween costumes incited a mob has resigned her teaching position. She did so in spite of a letter of faculty support organized by a physicist and signed mostly by scientists, including social scientists, rather than humanities faculty.

 

In their scalding 2007 book “Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case,” Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson plausibly argue that Duke’s disgrace — a fictional rape; hysterical academics trashing due process — was driven by the faculty Group of 88. Signatories of its manifesto included “only two professors in math, just one in the hard sciences, and zero in law. … More than 84 per cent described their research interests as related to race, class or gender (or all three). The Group of 88 was disproportionately concentrated in the humanities and some social science departments. Fully 80 per cent of the African-American studies faculty members signed the statement, followed by women’s studies (72.2 per cent) and cultural anthropology (60 per cent).”

 

Higher education is increasingly a house divided. In the sciences and even the humanities, actual scholars maintain the high standards of their noble calling. But in the humanities, especially, and elsewhere, faux scholars representing specious disciplines exploit academia as a jobs program for otherwise unemployable propagandists hostile to freedom of expression. This is, however, a smattering of what counts as good news in today’s climate: for the first time in FIRE’s 16 years of monitoring academia’s authoritarianism, fewer than half (49.3 per cent) of American universities still have what FIRE considers egregiously unconstitutional speech policies. Purdue is one of six universities that eliminated speech codes this year, and one of just 22 with FIRE’s “green light” rating.                                                      

                                                                       

 

Contents                       

CHRISTIAN EVANGELICALS IN JERUSALEM SHOW LOVE FOR ISRAEL

Daniel Estrin

Business Insider, Oct. 1, 2015

 

Thousands of evangelical Christians from more than 80 countries descended upon Jerusalem (in October) to show their support for the Jewish state, including pilgrims and politicians from countries with a history of hostility toward Israel. The celebratory summit reflects evangelical Christianity's dramatic growth worldwide and gives a boost to Israel at a time when the country is increasingly isolated internationally.

 

Attitudes in Israel toward evangelicals are evolving, from skepticism about Christian Zionist motives, to the realization that Israel cannot survive on the support of diaspora Jewish communities alone and is in no position to turn down the potential political and tourism boost the Christians can provide. "Israel has no better friends throughout the world," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a videotaped address that was beamed to a Jerusalem basketball stadium packed with cheering pilgrims Tuesday. The gatherers waved flags from home countries such as Angola, Brazil, China, Germany, Italy and the U.S. There was even a small delegation from Egypt, a country that shares a cold peace with Israel.

 

Evangelical Christianity is one of the world's fastest growing religious movements. Of the world's estimated 2 billion Christians, some 700 million are evangelicals, according to the pro-Israel International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, which organized the Jerusalem summit. Evangelical movements are expanding most prominently in Latin America, Africa and Asia — regions that "hold great potential for the nation of Israel in political, diplomatic and economic terms," according to a position paper the group presented last year to Israel's Foreign Ministry.

 

The annual weeklong summit is billed as the Feast of Tabernacles, the Christian term for the weeklong Jewish holiday of Sukkot, which in biblical times was marked by a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. This year's gathering included rock concert prayer rallies in which believers sang Hebrew songs and an annual flag-waving parade through the streets of Jerusalem. Evangelicals say their affinity for Israel stems from Christianity's Jewish roots and an anticipated Messianic age when all nations of the earth will flock to Jerusalem. Jews and Christians both believe in a future Messianic age, though Jews do not accept the Christian belief that Jesus is the Messiah.

 

"Jesus is Jewish. He's coming again," said Marilyn Henretty, 77, of Annandale, Virginia, from the bleachers of one of the week's prayer rallies, clasping a tambourine and wearing a 12-gemstone ring representing the 12 tribes of Israel. "We believe it's going to be soon. All signs point to that." There has long been suspicion in Israel that the evangelical bear hug is connected to a belief that the modern Jewish state is a precursor to the apocalypse — when Jesus will return and Jews will either accept Christianity or die. Israel's Chief Rabbinate called on Jews to boycott an evangelical rally open to local Israelis this week, calling it "spiritually dangerous" and warning that evangelicals were trying to convert Jews to Christianity.

 

Israeli liberals are also uncomfortable with evangelicals because of their ties to America's political right and their support for Israel's settlement enterprise in the West Bank, a major sticking point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some evangelicals, particularly from the U.S., work as volunteers on Jewish settlements in the West Bank. But suspicions are diminishing in Israel, especially as evangelical groups funnel hefty donations to Israel and evangelical representatives in Israel downplay the apocalypse, saying it is not a central tenant of faith for most of the world's evangelicals — or what makes them love Israel. "We feel that their support is genuine and not deriving from any ulterior motive," said Akiva Tor of Israel's Foreign Ministry…

 

Evangelicals at the summit boasted of their success at lobbying on Israel's behalf in the halls of parliaments around the world. There are currently 32 pro-Israeli caucuses in parliaments worldwide, according to the Israel Allies Foundation, a Jewish-Christian pro-Israel political group that brought two dozen lawmakers from 18 countries to Jerusalem this week to meet with Israeli lawmakers and officials. The Israeli parliament's Christian Allies Caucus, formed in 2004 to forge ties between Israeli lawmakers and Christian leaders, officially relaunched this summer after a period of dormancy. International Christian Embassy Jerusalem director Jurgen Buhler called it a "miracle."

 

At a prayer rally, Buhler introduced a group of 20 lawmakers from the Ivory Coast, which like most African nations broke ties with Israel in the 1970s but later restored them. The lawmakers flew to the Jerusalem summit on the Ivory Coast parliament's expense, Buhler said. The smiling lawmakers received a 12-ram's horn salute from a group of Taiwanese evangelicals blasting shofars, an ancient Jewish instrument. Also in attendance was Rev. Mosy Madugba of Nigeria, head of a network of Christian ministers, who said his close ties to Nigerian leaders helped change the country's traditional pro-Palestinian stance at the U.N. In recent years, Nigeria has abstained from supporting U.N. resolutions supporting Palestinian statehood.

 

Kenneth Meshoe, an evangelical South African lawmaker who heads the African Christian Democratic Party, said he has helped block anti-Israel motions in South Africa's parliament, including a recent effort to label Israeli products made in the West Bank as settlement products. His wife, Lydia, wore a bright yellow headdress and a Jewish Star of David necklace. Both said they hoped Jews would accept Jesus when the apocalypse comes. "God will bless those who bless Israel," he added.

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

On Topic

 

2015's Hits at DanielPipes.org: Daniel Pipes Blog, Jan. 10, 2016—Which articles, blog posts, speeches, and interviews on my web site, DanielPipes.org, fared best in the year recently concluded? In ascending order, here are 2015's ten most widely read, listened-to, and watched pages:

If You Want to Change the Campus Culture, Look to the Faculty: Mitchell Bard, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 14, 2016— A number of articles have been written about a new organization that is going to work with faculty to address problems on campus related to Israel and the treatment of Jewish students.

ISIL Fight Forgets Lessons of First Gulf War: Matthew Fisher, National Post, Jan. 14, 2015—If there has been a “good” conflict in the Middle East, the first Gulf War may have been it. Twenty-five years ago this week, the U.S. Congress authorized the use of force to oust Saddam Hussein’s invading troops from Kuwait. Four days after that Canada went to war for the first time since Korea.

The Battle of the Budge – December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945: Nurit Greenger, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 12, 2015—The Battle of the Bulge was a major German offensive campaign launched through the densely forested Ardennes region of Wallonia in Belgium, France, and Luxembourg on the Western Front toward the end of World War II in Europe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

Doris Strub Epstein: NON MUSLIM MINORITIES FACING IMMINENT GENOCIDE, ABANDONED BY LIBERAL GOVERNMENT

 

 

 

 

While Ottawa focuses only on bringing the Syrian migrants, continuing to ignore the problems inherent in their decision, they are ignoring hundreds of thousands of non-Muslim minorities, targeted for immediate genocide by ISIS.  At the top of the list are the ancient Yazidi people, then the Chaldo Assyrian Christians.  But all non-Muslim minorities  – the Mandaens, the Bahai, Shebak, Turkoman – in northern Iraq and Syria are threatened.

In August, 2014, the Islamic State attacked northern Iraq, home to over 400,000 Yazidis.  The UN confirmed that 5,00O men were executed and as many as 7,000 women and girls were made sex slaves.  Last month, German broadcasters produced footage documenting the slave trade being conducted through an office in Turkey near the border with Syria. "IS offers women and underage children in a kind of virtual slave market with for sale photos." Germany has committed to taking in immediately, 1000 of these ISIS victims for special treatment.

There are more than 25,000 Yazidi refugees currently languishing in Turkey and Syria according to Mirza Ismail, Chair Yazidi Human Rights Organization International.  "They are abused by the Muslim authorities in charge, denied food and medicine.   Or they can't get into UN refugee camps at all since the Muslims who dominate the camps do not want them there," he said.  Daily, desperate Yazidi refugees are risking their lives, fleeing to Greece via the Aegean Sea on tube boats and on foot to Bulgaria.  Since December 10, more than 40 have drowned.  Majid Abdal a Yazidi who lives now in Toronto, lost his cousins, five children and their parents.

The same for the Chaldo Assyrian Christians who have repeatedly been forced to renounce their religion or die.  Enslavement, rape; their churches destroyed."

Ismail is recently back from Washington where he testified to a sub-committee hearing of the US Committee on Foreign Affairs, Genocidal Attacks Against Christian and Other Religious Minorities in the Middle East. Obama too, is focusing only on Syrian refugees.  Chairman Smith voiced the concern of the Committee that "the Yazidis, Christians and other non-Muslim religious minorities are facing genocide.  Their lives are at risk from ISIS".   They declared them "a refugee crisis". "We are giving lip service to Never Again," said Chairman Smith.  "We must act".

 

Senator Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee said: "There is a concern with this large volume in such a short period of time, that adequate vetting may not be occurring…these individuals could represent a threat to America given our porous border."

It's impossible to screen the Syrians for security since the institutions where they could be checked in Damascus no longer function.  There are no records available.  Furthermore, said Toronto immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann, no criminal records doesn't eliminate the possibility of terrorists.  "The 9/ll hijackers had no criminal records, nor the Boston marathon bombers or the San Bernardino shooters. These are no anti-Muslim statements; they're facts.  Not all are bad, but some are.  We are asking our border officials to do the impossible, to try and figure out what's inside someone's mind and to figure out what a person is going to be thinking tomorrow."

"Also," he added, "we are not pulling people (Syrians) out of the battlefield or people who are on the run.  We are pulling people out of Jordan and Turkey who have been there for months, even years."  Now we discover that many of those, an estimated six percent of eligible Syrian refugees, are not interested in coming to Canada, hoping to be able to return to their home country.

In February, ISIS sent a message to the world, that they had 5,000 of their recruits planted among the Syrians coming into Europe.  In Lebanon, where one in five is a Syrian refugee, the Minister of Education stated there were 20,000 jihadi terrorists among them.  More than half of them were migrants from other countries in the Middle East or even farther, with faked Syrian passports.

A new report announced on CNN, warned that based on US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's intelligence sources, ISIS has access to passport printing machines and blank passport books.  They have announced publicly that they are sending their fighters to infiltrate Western nations by hiding them amongst refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.

For Jews, these persecuted peoples, abandoned by the world, strikes a painful, familiar chord.  It evokes the anguish of the Jews of the thirties threatened with Nazi genocide. Then too, the world was silent.  Jews were quick to respond.  Soon after the initial attack by ISIS last Augusts, Canadian Jews and Friends of Yazidis formed in Toronto.  They were making inroads with the previous government, but, reported head of the group, Rananah Gemeiner, she has called John McCallum, Minister of Immigration and Refugees repeatedly for an "immediate emergency meeting regarding the Yazidis and other minorities deserving priority refugee consideration," and received no answer.  Nor has Mirza Ismail.

Many, including President Obama, say the situation of Syrian refugees is similar to the plight of the Jews in WW11. But Jews were never a terror threat; there is evidence terrorists and radical Islamists are hiding among the Syrians.  Jews were singled out for persecution by the Nazis; it is the Yazidis, the Christians and other non-Muslim minorities who are being hunted down by ISIS.   Jews had nowhere to go; Syrian refugees should have many places to go especially among the 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.  The majority are migrants, not refugees as defined by international law. They include those who have found shelter but prefer to go to the Western countries.

The situation of the homeless Syrians is dreadful and heart wrenching.  But choices must be made; priorities established.  On humanitarian grounds, the Yazidis and other minority groups should receive priority because they are the most persecuted in the Middle East and have nowhere else to go. They present no social adaptation or security problems and face daily genocide and imminent extinction.

  Dr. Catherine Chatterley Director of the Canadian Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism has stated; "Special priority should be given to the orphans, specially girls and young women, who are the most vulnerable to sexual assault and exploitation in refugee camps and the victims of ISIS's rape culture of sexual slavery.
 

CAN NETANYAHU SURVIVE THE “PEACE PROCESS”? SHARANSKY SUCCEED PERES? ISRAELI CHRISTIANS BECOME, FINALLY, ISRAELIS?

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: rob@isranet.org

 

 

 Contents:         

2014 Political Forecast: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Jan. 6, 2014 — One year ago, I accurately forecasted in these pages that U.S. President Barack Obama would cut a deal with Iran over Israel's objections, allowing Tehran to keep its nuclear enrichment facilities and freeing itself of sanctions by promising to halt 20 percent enrichment.

Inside Israel’s White House: How Netanyahu Runs the Country: Haviv Rettig Gur, Times of Israel, Jan. 6, 2014 — Benjamin Netanyahu will complete his eighth (nonconsecutive) year as prime minister in March 2014, more than any Israeli premier except the state’s founder, David Ben-Gurion.

The End of Dhimmitude: Mordechai Nisan, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 4, 2013 —  We are now witnessing one of the most dramatic developments in the historic configuration of relations among Jews, Christians and Muslims.

 

On Topic Links

 

Israel’s Right: the Light’s on, But Nobody’s Home: Moshe Feiglin, Jewish Press, Jan. 2, 2014

Methodically, If Not Quietly, Miri Regev is Changing the Israeli Consensus: Zvi Bar’el, Ha’aretz, Jan. 6, 2014

Timeline: Ariel Sharon – Milestones of His Career in Israeli Politics: CBC, Jan. 2, 2014

 

2014 POLITICAL FORECAST                                                                 David M. Weinberg      

Israel Hayom, Jan. 6, 2014                             

 

One year ago, I accurately forecasted in these pages that U.S. President Barack Obama would cut a deal with Iran over Israel's objections, allowing Tehran to keep its nuclear enrichment facilities and freeing itself of sanctions by promising to halt 20 percent enrichment. Precisely what happened. I also correctly calculated that Washington would wedge Israel and the Palestinian Authority into renewed peace talks, and that Prime Minister Netanyahu would again freeze plans to build E1. I estimated that the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi wouldn't last long as Egyptian president. Bingo.

 

But I was wrong in expecting a quick breakup of the current Israeli coalition government. (Wait a bit more…) I was also wrong, unfortunately, in envisaging the election of a religious Zionist chief rabbi. And I erred, fortunately, in reckoning that the Syrian civil war would spill over into real conflict on the Golan Heights.

 

Looking into my crystal ball for the year ahead, this is what I see: Obama: The U.S. president truly abhors nuclear proliferation. So he really does not want the Iranians to test or produce a nuclear bomb on his watch. In Geneva, he'll cut whatever deals are furthermore necessary to postpone Tehran's bomb production for a few years; three years to be exact. As for the rest of us, well, Obama doesn't really care about Israel, or the Palestinians, Egyptians, Syrians and Saudis. He isn't going to invest any more American "blood, treasure and tears" in the Middle East. Killer drones against the al-Qaida types do the work from afar just fine. In any case, Obama knows that his legacy boils down to this and this only: Whether or not Americans can keep their existing health insurance plans.

 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry: All this Mideast peace-processing is a prelude to Kerry's planned run in the Democratic primaries — against Hillary Clinton — for president of the United States. He will be a formidable contender, just as he is a formidable diplomatic juggernaut now. Of course, it's easy for Kerry to beat up on Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the two Mideast actors most dependent on America. Had he challenged the Russians or Iranians (as he should have), it would've been tougher going. And then he would have been better prepared to take on and beat Hillary. She will be no pushover.

 

Netanyahu: The prime minister has "crossed the Rubicon" and no longer feels any residual political loyalty to Judea and Samaria residents or to hard-right voters. His willingness to rollback Yesha is easily deduced from his insistence on an Israeli military presence only in the Jordan Valley. While he has no near-term plans to drag Israelis from their homes in Bet El or Hebron, his imminent agreement to John Kerry's formula for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines will mark a further retrogression in Israel's diplomatic stance. Netanyahu thinks that a rhetorical "framework agreement" with the Americans and the Palestinians is the best way to manage the conflict for several years hence. He thinks it will restrict Palestinian options, prevent the PA from criminalizing Israel in international legal forums, and ward-off European boycotts. But I think he is playing with fire, and that the gambit will backfire on Israel. The world's demands on Israel will only increase following the framework agreement; and, after feting Israel for a few days and praising Netanyahu for a few minutes, the world will be back in no time at all to threaten Israel with boycotts unless it acts on its latest concessions.

 

Abbas: The Palestinian leader is getting very old and frail, and there is no succession plan in place, short of a bitter free-for-all with Hamas leaders in the mix. Abbas is searching for a legacy, which could be a "framework" deal with Israel but could also easily be more unilateral moves against Israel on the global front. Either way, Abbas has got to hurry; I'm not sure he'll be around by this time next year. In the meantime, the Palestinian Authority continues to huff and puff and blow evil smoke at Israel while raking-in the international aid dollars, euros, krones, yens, francs and deutschmarks. It's almost as hard to account for all that money as it is to count the number of times that Saeb Erakat has quit as chief Palestinian negotiator.

 

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon: "Bogie," as he is often called, is proving to be the most clear-eyed and steady politician in the cabinet. While everybody else is running around scared of an impending "diplomatic tsunami" whereby Israel could be branded a "rogue state" for being on the wrong side of the international consensus on both the Iranian and Palestinian issues, Bogie is calm. When Tzipi Livni screeches "gevalt, we're going to be boycotted" and drives for Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, Ya'alon responds logically that "In life, everything is a question of alternatives. If the alternatives are a European boycott, or rockets from Nablus, Jenin and Ramallah on our strategic front, and on Ben-Gurion International Airport — then indeed a European boycott is preferable." Let's hope that Ya'alon holds firm.

 

Former Minister Moshe Kahlon: The Likudnik who brought down cellphone costs plans to cash in on his popularity, simmering social-economic discontent and on disenchantment with Yesh Atid. He'll be back this year with a new political party, accompanied by trade unionist Ofer Eini, economist Manuel Trajtenberg, generals Gabi Ashkenazi and/or Shlomo Yanai, and other prominent figures. Netanyahu, Yair Lapid, Isaac Herzog and Aryeh Deri should be worried. Israelis love new political parties, and Kahlon's fresh lineup could tap into public disgruntlement with alacrity.

 

President Shimon Peres: This wily 90-year-old plans to come roaring back into Israeli politics when his term as president of Israel ends this summer. He will set himself up as a shadow prime minister to fervently advance his plans for peace with the Palestinians. He will convene international conferences to wedge Netanyahu against the wall, and cobble-together new Israeli political slates to challenge Netanyahu at the polls. Expect no more of the namby-pamby Peres-sponsored "Tomorrow" conferences, where "bold" entrepreneurs, "provocative" sexologists, and "prominent" European intellectuals talked mumbo-jumbo about "bottling the Jewish genius" and "generating the leaders of tomorrow." Instead, expect an aggressive, focused Peres with a killer instinct, out to remake the Middle East and save Israel — as only he can.

 

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky: By dint of personality and experience, in deference to Zionist history, and to boost global Jewish unity — Natan should be the next president of the State of Israel. His election should be a slam dunk. Alas, Minister Silvan Shalom of Likud and MK Binyamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer of Labor each have better chances of getting the necessary votes in Knesset to become president, because of narrow political calculations. Silvan's election would free up three ministerial portfolios (regional cooperation; Negev and Galilee development; national infrastructure, energy, and water) for other Likud MKs. Fuad can pull in votes from across the political spectrum, including the Center, Left, and Arabs. Too bad. I'm still rooting for Natan.

                                                                           

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 INSIDE ISRAEL’S WHITE HOUSE:

HOW NETANYAHU RUNS THE COUNTRY                                       

Haviv Rettig Gur                              

Times of Israel, Jan. 6, 2014

 

Benjamin Netanyahu will complete his eighth (nonconsecutive) year as prime minister in March 2014, more than any Israeli premier except the state’s founder, David Ben-Gurion. And as the years go by, unsurprisingly, Netanyahu is leaving a deepening imprint on the way in which the country is governed. Turnover is relatively high among his innermost circle of advisers and aides, who frequently last as little as two years at his side and all too often, especially in recent years, leave amid a cloud of scandal and negative press. At the same time, the role of some of those advisers has become increasingly central, as the Prime Minister’s Office seems to be filling an ever-more influential role in national policy.

 

“There is an international phenomenon of concentration of foreign policy power in the hands of presidents and prime ministers,” noted Chuck Freilich, a former Israeli deputy national security adviser who has written a book about Israel’s decision-making process. And this consolidation has happened quickly in Israel, where the PMO now handles all major issues of diplomatic and security policy, including the peace talks with the Palestinians, the Iranian nuclear crisis and the most important of Israel’s diplomatic relationships, such as those with the United States, Britain, France and Germany.

 

In the PMO under Netanyahu, that sees a great deal of close consultation with key advisers, a notably expanded role for the National Security Council, and a changing structure of the inner “security cabinet” of top ministers. It also means less influence for the individual ministries and ministers in some areas that used to be their exclusive purview. When Netanyahu was finance minister under prime minister Ariel Sharon, for instance, it was he who recruited Stanley Fischer as governor of the Bank of Israel. When Karnit Flug was appointed Fischer’s successor in October, in a chaotic and protracted process, by contrast, Finance Minister Yair Lapid most emphatically did not exclusively oversee the selection. Likewise, the question of Bedouin resettlement would in previous years have been a matter overwhelmingly for the Interior Ministry. Under Netanyahu, the Prime Minister’s Office has been centrally involved.

Amid the process of consolidation, Netanyahu is said to be more open than some of his predecessors were to the views of trusted staff around him. “Bibi has a dialogical personality,” said one confidant who asked not to be named. “He makes decisions in the course of discussion. He needs a conversation partner to make those decisions.” Netanyahu takes a close interest in the views of those around him, confirmed another source familiar with the prime minister’s deliberative process. “He’s always asking questions, interrogating you for your opinion, and writing down what you’re saying.” That aspect of Netanyahu’s personality is both an advantage and a crutch, the confidant added. The advantage: Netanyahu is “flexible and thorough” when making decisions. “Every decision requires 10 discussions. He’s not hasty like some previous prime ministers.” The disadvantage: “He can seem indecisive, fickle. No decision is final until it’s actually being implemented. Decisions often change in the course of discussion, both because his reasoning continues to develop and because those who know him well know how to focus their arguments to reach certain conclusions.” Whether or not this personality trait is beneficial to forming national policy, there is no doubt it gives an outsize role to those who surround and engage the prime minister in those policy discussions. As power concentrates around a premier who gives added weight to his advisers’ views, those advisers are becoming increasingly important for any understanding of how the machinery of power is managed and critical decisions are made in the State of Israel.     

   

The shift of diplomatic and security policymaking into the hands of the prime minister is a global phenomenon. In part, this is due to inevitable changes in technology, Freilich explained. “Foreign ministries face a real question. Why are they needed? Today, if a prime minister wants to know what the Americans are thinking, he calls up [Secretary] Kerry or [President] Obama. Foreign ministries don’t have the roles they used to have, where ambassadors on the ground were absolutely essential, especially [in light of modern] media and communications.” The issues now handled in the PMO “don’t leave the Foreign Ministry with much of anything of consequence,” noted Freilich. “I think that’s understood by most people today. The Foreign Ministry deals with day-to-day caretaking and maintenance of relations.”                       

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link –ed.]

                                           

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THE END OF DHIMMITUDE                                                                                                          Mordechai Nisan

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 4, 2014

 

We are now witnessing one of the most dramatic developments in the historic configuration of relations among Jews, Christians and Muslims. Christians in Israel’s Galilee are courageously promoting their pre-Islamic non-Arab identity as an old-new collective Aramean/Aramaic-speaking Oriental narrative. This is a cultural and political game-changer with revolutionary significance, for Israel, the Middle East and the global scene. Under the leadership of Father Gabriel Nadaf, an Orthodox priest from Yafia near Nazareth, and Shadi Khalloul, a Maronite activist and army reserve officer from Gush Halav, the Christian Recruitment Forum has been established. While all non-Jews in Israel, excepting the Druse and Circassians, are exempt from the military draft, a new promotional effort has been undertaken to further encourage Christian youth to voluntarily enlist. This initiative expresses both a desire to serve the state and integrate into Israeli society, conveying that Christians are committed to the security and welfare of the Jewish state of Israel.

The rationale behind this Christian campaign and its momentous meaning are profound. From the early days of the Arab war against Zionism, and continuing until today with the Palestinian rejection of a Jewish state, the mainstream Christian community as fellow Arabs in the country allied with the Muslims. The Arab nationalist political parties, from the Communist forerunner to Balad, were led and represented by Christians and Muslims alike. Indeed, the broad modern Arab national revival and movement across the Middle East was inspired by some stalwart Christian ideologues and politicians, like Michel Aflaq and Constantine Zuraiq, cementing an alliance pitting the cross and the crescent against the Star of David.

The mixed Muslim-Christian villages and towns in Israel, like Turan and Ibelin, Eilaboun and Nazareth, were traditionally portrayed as bastions of Arab brotherhood and solidarity, despite the religious cleavage defining marriage and customs. But now the Christian Forum has issued a sharp and urgent message that shatters the Arab house of unity. The religious and legal structure that emerged with and under Islam established Muslim rule over Jews and Christians, who were defined and demoted as tolerated but inferior dhimmi denizens. While maintaining their communal faith and integrity, the dhimmi communities were subjected to the rapacity of excessive and humiliating taxation and to a precarious dependence on the whims of Muslim caliphs, sultans, emirs and walis. Instances of massacre and forced conversions were part of the tapestry of victimology over the many centuries of Muslim supremacy that struck Jews in Yemen, Morocco, Libya and Iraq; and likewise Christians in what had been, prior to early Arab conquests, the majority Christian populations in Egypt and Syria.

The Zionist movement and State of Israel represent in modern times the Jewish national liberation movement against Muslim colonialism in Palestine and Arab imperialism in the Middle East. The triumph of Israel symbolizes successful Jewish resistance in the Hebrew homeland. As such, it signifies the demise of that debilitating mental complex of fear and inferiority, termed “dhimmitude” by the historian Bat Ye’or, which scarred the souls of generations of Eastern Jews, as also Eastern Christians.

From the villages of Yafia and Gush Halav the clarion call for freedom has now been sounded. A new self-consciousness radiates from among the 160,000 Christians in Israel; they represent only two percent of Israel’s population, but their numbers are on the increase in stark contrast to the murder of Christians and their tragic mass flight from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Egypt. Christians were historically massacred by Muslims in Turkey and Sudan. In Israel they are respected citizens and live secure and prosperous lives, as enjoying this situation imposes a moral obligation to be discharged.

No one can doubt that were there to be an Arab Palestine in place of a Jewish Israel, the Christians of Mei’liya and Fassuta would be chased, in the best of circumstances, across the borders. Even now, and predictably so, Arabs are intimidating the nascent Christian shift in alliances in Israel. The Christian Forum in Israel, while only a local development, offers nonetheless a compelling precedent and proud innovation for the West to promote Jewish-Christian cooperation against extremist Muslim forces, as in Europe. As Islam basically destroyed the large historic Christian centers in the Middle East, so it threatens the cultural character and political independence of Christian Europe.

A shadow of dhimmitude has spread over Europe, but the heroic stand taken by some Christians in the Galilee offers direction to cultivate an authentic global Jewish-Christian symbiosis by breaking the old Muslim-Christian pact that was born of Islam’s universal aspirations and appetite to rule. This is a moment of truth and reconciliation in Israel, with Christians identifying the Jews as the sovereign power and brothers-in-arms.

  [Dr. Mordechai Nisan is a retired lecturer in Middle East Studies at the       Hebrew University and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.]

 

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Israel’s Right: the Light’s on, But Nobody’s Home: Moshe Feiglin, Jewish Press, Jan. 2, 2014 — “If this bill passes, Israel will have to announce that there will be no negotiations over Jerusalem. The real significance of that is that we completely halt the negotiations taking place today.”

Methodically, If Not Quietly, Miri Regev is Changing the Israeli Consensus: Zvi Bar’el, Ha’aretz, Jan. 6, 2014 — Israel’s most important political leader today is Likud MK Miri Regev. She is the only Israeli politician who has managed to learn the secret of how the country is run.

Timeline: Ariel Sharon – Milestones of His Career in Israeli Politics: CBC, Jan. 2, 2014 — Feb. 27, 1928: Ariel Scheinermann is born in Kfar Malal, a town in Palestine, then a British mandate, to a German-Polish father and a Russian mother.

 

 

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ACROSS THE M.E. (EXCEPT FOR ISRAEL) CHRISTIANS ARE FLEEING, WHILE IN EUROPE, AS THE ARAB POPULATION RISES, AND WITH IT ANTISEMITISM, JEWS ARE LEAVING

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On Topic Links

Christianity—Which Originated in the Middle East—is Rapidly Disappearing in Every Country but One: Israel.: Joe King, CIJR, Aug. 13, 2013

Al Qaeda Flag Flies High Above Christian Churches: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 7, 2013

 

 

A MIDDLE EAST WITHOUT CHRISTIANS

Noah Beck

Front Page Magazine, Aug. 13, 2013

 

Islamist terrorists have exploited the lawless Sinai to perpetrate vicious attacks on Egyptian Christians there, as reported earlier this week in the New York Times. Indeed, throughout Egypt, the Copts continue to be targeted and scapegoated for the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood.

 

As defenseless and abandoned as Mideast Christians seem today, it is worth remembering their historical roots, and recognizing just how much the plight of Middle East Christians has deteriorated. Over 2,000 years ago, Christianity was born as a religion and spread from Jerusalem to other parts of the Levant, including territories in modern Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt. The Christian faith flourished as one of the major religions in the Middle East until the Muslim conquests of the 7th century.

 

Despite Muslim domination of the region, Christians comprised an estimated 20% of the Middle East population until the early 20th century. Today, however, Christians make up a mere 2-5% of the Middle East and their numbers are fast dwindling. Writing in the Winter 2001 issue of Middle East Quarterly, scholar Daniel Pipes estimated that Middle East Christians would “likely drop to” half of their numbers “by the year 2020″ because of declining birth rates, and a pattern of “exclusion and persecution” leading to emigration.

 

The “Arab Spring” has only worsened conditions for the indigenous Christians of the Middle East. Like the Kurds, Middle East Christians are a stateless minority, struggling to survive in the world’s toughest neighborhood. But the Kurds at least have enjoyed partial autonomy in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991 and most of them are Sunni Muslim, making it easier for them to survive in the Muslim-dominated Middle East. Christians, on the other hand, are a religious minority that controls no territory and is entirely subject to the whims of their hosts. These host countries – with the exception of Israel – offer a grim future to Middle East Christians.

 

Home to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, Egypt also has the largest Christian population in the Middle East, totaling 8-12 million people. But because Christian Copts make up only about 10-15% of Egypt’s estimated 80 million people, they have for decades lived in fear as second-class citizens, subjected to attacks on churches, villages, homes, and shops; mob killings; and the abduction and forced Islamic conversion of Christian women compelled to marry Muslim men. Such abuse took place under the staunchly secular regime of Hosni Mubarak, but grew much worse under the rule of Mohammed Morsi, the jailed Muslim Brotherhood activist who succeeded Mubarak, and they are now being blamed for Morsi’s ouster.

 

In Lebanon, Christians represent a bigger portion of the population, so their fate is for now less precarious than that of their Egyptian coreligionists, but their long-term prospects are worrisome. The Christian population is estimated to have dropped from over 50% (according to a 1932 census) to about 40%. Over the last few years, the de facto governing power in Lebanon has become Hezbollah, the radical and heavily-armed Shiite movement sponsored by Iran. With all of the spillover violence and instability produced by the Syrian civil war and Hezbollah’s open involvement in it, and/or the next war that Hezbollah decides to start with Israel, the emigration of Christians out of Lebanon will probably only increase in the coming years, leaving those who stay increasingly vulnerable.

 

In Syria, 2.5 million Christians comprised about 10% of the population and enjoyed some protection under the secular and often brutal regimes of the Assad dynasty. But as jihadi groups fighting Assad extend their territorial control, the past protection of Christians is often the cause of their current persecution by resentful Sunnis who revile the Assad regime and seek to impose Sharia law wherever they can. Christians have been regularly targeted and killed by rebels, and the sectarian chaos and violence that will likely prevail in Assad’s wake will only increase the number of Christians fleeing Syria.

 

In Iraq, the bloody aftermath of the 2003 invasion demonstrated how dangerous life can become for a Christian minority when a multicultural society in the Middle East explodes into sectarian violence. By 2008, half of the 800,000 Iraqi Christians were estimated to have left, rendering those remaining even more insecure. In 2010, Salafist extremists attacked a Baghdad church during Sunday Mass, killing or wounding nearly the whole congregation. Such incidents turn any communal gathering into a potential massacre, forcing Christians across the Middle East to ask the ultimate question of faith: “Am I prepared to die for Christian worship?”

 

The so-called “Arab Spring” threatens to exacerbate matters in much of the Middle East, as Islamists now either control the government or influence it enough to persecute Christians with impunity. As new Islamist regimes in the Middle East condone religious intolerance and introduce Sharia and blasphemy laws, the long-term trend for Christians in their ancestral lands will only grow bleaker.

 

The one bright spot is the state of Israel – “the only place in the Middle East [where] Christians are really safe,” according to the Vicar of St. George’s Church in Baghdad, Canon Andrew White. Home to Christianity’s holiest sites and to a colorful array of Christian denominations, Israel has the only growing Christian community in the Middle East.

 

Because Israel is the only non-Muslim state in all of the Middle East and North Africa, it represents a small victory for religious minorities in the region, and serves as the last protector of freedom and security for Jews, Christians, Bahai, Druze, and others. Without Israel, how much more vulnerable would Christians in the Middle East become?

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CHRISTIANS MURDERED NONSTOP IN NIGERIA

Raymond Ibrahim

Gatestone Institute, July 30, 2013

 

Nigeria continues to be the most dangerous nation for Christians—where more Christians have been killed last year than all around the Muslim world combined. In one instance, Boko Haram Muslim militants stormed the home of a Pentecostal pastor and secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, and opened fire on him, instantly murdering him.

 

Separately, other Boko Haram gunmen killed 14 Christians, including the cousin and two nephews of the Rev. Moses Thliza, head of a Christian organization dedicated to preventing AIDS and caring for AIDS patients and orphans: Said Thliza: "My cousin, Bulus [Paul] Buba, was dragged out at gunpoint from his house by the Boko Haram members. They collected his car keys, demanded money and asked him three times to renounce his Christian faith, and three times he declined to do so [prompting them to execute him]. The attackers met three guards on duty, killed two of them by cutting their necks with knives, and then proceeded to take the third guard, Amtagu Samiyu, at gunpoint to lead them to where the keys of the deputy governor's house is."

 

As for some Christians observing a wake two kilometers away, Boko Haram Muslims asked to know what was going on there, and when they learned that people were saying prayers for an elderly Christian woman who had died, they charged in and shot into the crowd. "The attackers went there and shot indiscriminately at the worshippers, killing eight Christians—two women and six elderly men," said Thliza. "In all, we buried 14 Christians. Some were injured and taken to the hospital." Despite all this, when the Nigerian government tried militarily to confront and neutralize Boko Haram, the Obama administration criticized it, warning it not to violate the "human rights" of the Islamic terrorists.

 

Categorized by theme, the rest of May's roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and in country alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity:

 

Bosnia: The Serbian Orthodox church of Saint Sava in Sarajevo, where Muslims make up approximately half of the population, was "desecrated" and six of its windows panes broken. The unidentified vandals wrote "Allah" in dark paint twice on the church wall. A month earlier, unidentified persons tried to set the church on fire.

 

Central African Republic: According to the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, since an Islamic rebel leader proclaimed himself president, the situation for Christians, has "deeply worsened." The organization warns against "the evil intentions for the programmed and planned desecration and destruction of religious Christian buildings, and in particular the Catholic and Protestant churches…. All over the country the Catholic Church has paid a high price." Several dioceses have been seriously damaged and plundered, and priests and nuns attacked (more information below, under "Dhimmitude.")

 

Egypt: Two Coptic Christian churches were attacked, one in Alexandria, the other in Upper Egypt. St. Mary in Alexandria was attacked by Molotov cocktails and bricks, causing the gate to burn and the stained glass windows to shatter. One thousand Christians tried to defend the church against 20,000 Muslims screaming "Allahu Akbar" ["Allah is Greater"]. One Copt was killed and several injured. In the village of Menbal in Upper Egypt, after "Muslim youths" harassed Christian girls—including hurling bags of urine at them—and Coptic men came to their rescue, another Muslim mob stormed the village church of Prince Tadros el-Mashreki. They hurled stones and broke everything inside the church, including doors and windows. The mob then went along the streets looting and destroying all Coptic-owned businesses and pharmacies and torching cars. Any Copt met by the mob in the street was beaten.

 

Iran: Because it refused to stop using the national Persian language during its services—which makes the Gospel intelligible to all Iranian Muslims, some of whom converted—the Central Assemblies of God Church in Tehran was raided by security services during a prayer meeting; its pastor taken to an unknown location, and the church was searched and its books, documents and equipment seized. Security agents posted a sign stating that the church was now closed. One local source said, "They constantly threaten the church leaders and their families with imprisonment, unexplained accidents, kidnapping and even with execution. We cannot go on like this." A number of its members have already been killed and its activities greatly restricted over the last few years.

 

Libya: The Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Benghazi was bombed. In the words of the Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli, "They put a bomb at the entrance of the corridor leading to the courtyard where there is the door of the church. The church, therefore, was not touched directly, but the attack is not a positive sign. The Church in Libya is suffering. In Benghazi the Coptic Church was hit, its chaplain was killed and now the Catholic Church. As I reported on other occasions, in Cyrenaica different religious women's institutes have been forced to close their doors, in Tobruk, Derna, Beida, Barce, as well as in Benghazi. The nuns who were forced to leave, served the population with generosity."

 

Syria: A violent explosion destroyed the church and convent of the Capuchin Franciscan Friars in Deir Ezzor. According to Fr. Haddad of the region, "It was the only church in Deir Ezzor [that] so far still remained almost untouched." It is not clear how it was destroyed, but some say a car bomb was placed next to the church. Fr. Haddad lamented that, as in other regions, "there are no more Christians" left in Ezzor, due to "all this hate and desecration."

 

Tanzania: During a service to mark its official opening, a new church in a predominantly Christian suburb was bombed, killing at least five people and wounding some 60. According to a local source, "This was… a well-planned attack. Even before it, the threat was given and we still have many threats. Pray for us, and that God will overcome all these in Jesus' name." He added that, "radical camps in the country were teaching young Muslims that Christians must be killed or live as second-class citizens," or dhimmis. Among those arrested, four were Saudi Arabian nationals. The bombing follows the slaying of two church leaders in February, and the shooting in the face of a third on Christmas Day. In October, several church buildings were torched and vandalized….

Contents

 

YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE

Michel Gurfinkiel

Mosaic Magazine, August 2013

 

Samuel Sandler, an aeronautical engineer and head of the Jewish community in Versailles, France, announced a few weeks ago that he’d had the local synagogue registered as a national landmark. “My feeling is that our congregation will be gone within twenty or thirty years,” he told friends, “and I don’t want the building demolished or, worse, used for improper purposes.”

 

Once the seat of French royalty, Versailles is now among the tranquil, prosperous, and upscale suburbs of Greater Paris. Among the townspeople are executives employed in gleaming corporate headquarters a few miles away. They and their churchgoing families inhabit early-20th-century villas and late-20th-century condominiums set in majestic greenery. Among the townspeople too, are a thousand or so Jews of similar economic and social status who have made their homes in Versailles and nearby towns. In addition to the synagogue and community center of Versailles itself, a dozen more synagogues dot the surrounding area. So what makes Sandler so pessimistic about the future?

One answer might be thought to lie in the personal tragedy that befell him last year, when an Islamist terrorist shot and killed his son Jonathan, a thirty-year-old rabbi at a school in the southern city of Toulouse, along with Jonathan’s two sons, ages six and three, and an eight-year-old girl. But Sandler had faced his grief with uncommon courage and self-control. Both at the funeral in Jerusalem and in later media appearances, he had made a point of defending democracy, patriotic values, and interfaith dialogue.

 

Personal experience, then, may play a part in explaining Sandler’s grim diagnosis of the prospects of French Jewry, and by implication of European Jewry at large; but it is far from the whole story. Nor is that diagnosis unique to him. To the contrary, the more one travels throughout Europe, the more one confronts an essential paradox: the European Jewish idyll represented by Versailles is very common; so is the dire view articulated by Samuel Sandler.

 

European Judaism looks healthy, and secure. Religious and cultural activities are everywhere on the rise. Last December, in the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg, an exquisite new synagogue was inaugurated in Ulm, the most recent in a long series of new or recently restored sanctuaries in Germany. In Paris, a European Center for Judaism will soon be built under the auspices of the Consistoire (the French union of synagogues) and the French government. Many European capitals now harbor major Jewish museums or Holocaust memorials. In Paris, a visitor can proceed from the National Museum for Jewish Art and History housed at the Hôtel de Saint-Aignan, a 17th-century mansion in the Marais district, to the national Shoah memorial near the Seine, to the Drancy Holocaust memorial in the northern suburbs. Berlin hosts the Jüdisches Museum designed by Daniel Libeskind; the cemetery-like grid of the Mahnmal, the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe whose concrete slabs are spread over an entire city block in the center of the capital; and another national Holocaust memorial and educational center at Wannsee.

 

And yet, despite all their success and achievement, the majority of European Jews, seconded by many Jewish and non-Jewish experts, insist that catastrophe may lie ahead. One does not have to look far to see why. A large-scale survey commissioned by the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) tells a tale of widespread and persistent anti-Semitism. Although the full study is not due to be released until October, the salient facts have been summarized by EU officials and by researchers like Dov Maimon, a French-born Israeli scholar at the Jewish People Policy Institute in Jerusalem. Among the findings: more than one in four Jews report experiencing anti-Semitic harassment at least once in the twelve months preceding the survey; one in three have experienced such harassment over the past five years; just under one in ten have experienced a physical attack or threat in the same period; and between two-fifths and one-half in France, Belgium, and Hungary have considered emigrating because they feel unsafe.

 

Statistics from my native France, home to the largest Jewish community in Europe, go back farther in time and tell an even darker tale. Since 2000, 7,650 anti-Semitic incidents have been reliably reported to the Jewish Community Security Service and the French ministry of the interior; this figure omits incidents known to have occurred but unreported to the police. The incidents range from hate speech, anti-Semitic graffiti, and verbal threats to defacement of synagogues and other Jewish buildings, to acts of violence and terror including arson, bombings, and murder.

 

And that is just France. All over Europe, with exceptions here and there, the story is much the same. Nor do the figures take into account the menacing atmosphere created by the incessant spewing of hatred against the people and the state of Israel at every level of society, including the universities and the elite and mass media, to the point where polls show as many as 40 percent of Europeans holding the opinion that Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians; or the recent moves to ban circumcision and kosher slaughter; or the intense social pressures created by the rise of radical and often violent Islam of the kind that targeted Samuel Sandler’s son and grandchildren (and of which more below).

 

Statements by EU officials and others, even while they acknowledge the “frightening” degree of anti-Semitism prevalent in today’s Europe, and even while they promise to “fight against it with all the means at their disposal,” also contend (in the words of the prime minister of Baden-Württemberg) that anti-Semitism is “not present in the heart of society” or in “major political parties.” Such bland reassurances have quite understandably brought little comfort.

 

Against this backdrop, it is little wonder that even so sober an analyst as Robert Wistrich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, author of definitive works on the history and dynamics of anti-Semitism, has concluded that although the final endpoint of European Jewry may be decades in coming, “any clear-sighted and sensible Jew who has a sense of history would understand that this is the time to get out.”….

 

Contents

 

 

 

Christianity—Which Originated in the Middle East—is Rapidly Disappearing in Every Country but One: Israel.: Joe King, CIJR, Aug. 13, 2013—The number of Christians in the region, currently estimated at 12-million, is predicted to be sliced in half (to six-million) by the year 2020.  Actually, turbulence in Egypt may hasten the demise of much of the ancient Coptic Church there.

 

Al Qaeda Flag Flies High Above Christian Churches: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 7, 2013 — Days ago, al-Qaeda's Egyptian leader, Ayman Zawahiri, portrayed the overthrow of Muhammad Morsi and the Brotherhood as a "Crusader" campaign led by Coptic Pope Tawadros II who, according to Zawahiri and other terrorists, is trying to create a Coptic state in Egypt. Since then, not only are Egypt's Christians and churches now being attacked in ways unprecedented in the modern era, but new reports indicate that al-Qaeda's black flag has been raised on some of them, specifically St. George Church in Sohag.

 

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

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CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

LEBANESE RELIGIO-POLITICAL CRISIS RADICALIZED BY SYRIAN CIVIL WAR, HEZBOLLAH—AL-NUSRAH CONFLICT

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Contents:                          

 

 

Uncertainty over Electoral Law Prolongs Lebanon Political Crisis: Nasser Chararah,Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse, May 20, 2013—There have been mounting concerns about the situation in Lebanon during the coming period. Indeed, political factions have failed to reach a consensus on producing an electoral law that would remedy the [issue of] Christian representation, and develop the [former] electoral law that included glaring errors regarding fair representation.

 

The Imminent Hezbollah-Nusra War: Hanin Ghaddar, NOW Lebanon, May 15, 2013—Hezbollah will not save the Shiites. They have already determined that Lebanon and all the Lebanese will have to sacrifice their lives for their mission to serve Iran and its interests in the region. The Lebanese need to save themselves.

 

How Hezbollah Slowly Infiltrated Europe: Alexandre Levy, LE TEMPS/Worldcrunch, Apr. 9, 2013—While Cyprus was in the middle of a financial crisis, the court of Limassol, the island’s second largest city, made a ruling that largely went unnoticed. Yet it was a judicial first. On March 28, the Cyprus court condemned a 24-year-old Swedish-Lebanese man, Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, to four years in prison for helping plan attacks against Israelis on the Mediterranean island.

 

Hezbollah Campaigns for Preemptive War in Syria: Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse, May 22, 2013—Several Hezbollah fighters were killed or wounded by a booby-trapped tanker truck during a recent incursion into Syria. There had been several similar incidents in preceding days. In another episode, a Syrian opposition gunman appeared to surrender to Hezbollah forces, but as he approached them, he detonated the explosive belt he was wearing.

 

On Topic Links

 

Three in Europe Now Oppose Hezbollah: Nicholas Kulish, New York Times,  May 22, 2013

The Jihadist Threat to Lebanon: Jaafar al-Attar, from As-Safir (Lebanon). Al-Monitor, May 15, 2013

Hizbollah cannot Afford to Stay Long in Syria's Quagmire: Michael Young, The National (UAE), May 23, 2013

 

 

UNCERTAINTY OVER ELECTORAL LAW
PROLONGS LEBANON POLITICAL CRISIS

Nasser Chararah

Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse, May 20, 2013

 

There have been mounting concerns about the situation in Lebanon during the coming period. Indeed, political factions have failed to reach a consensus on producing an electoral law that would remedy the [issue of] Christian representation, and develop the [former] electoral law that included glaring errors regarding fair representation.

 

For instance, the provisions of the current electoral law, dubbed the “1960 law,” are in direct conflict with the Lebanese constitution, according to which Lebanese people have equal representation quotas. Pursuant to the current electoral law, certain MPs could secure a place in parliament with thousands of votes in some constituencies, while others may need tens of thousands of votes to win a seat. This is not to mention that according to the current law, a significant part of Christian MPs are elected by Muslim votes.

 

During the past months, there has been a need to formulate a new, fairer electoral law. However, intense political disputes in the country — which are connected to regional differences — have prevented the drafting of a new electoral law.

 

With the expiration of the constitutional deadline to amend the electoral law, and given that the term of the current parliament will come to an end in the second half of June, not to mention that political factions have yet to reach a consensus on a new electoral law, Lebanon stands today at a crossroads. It can either opt to extend the term of parliament to try to formulate a new electoral law and therefore hold elections on this basis; or it can hold elections based on the 1960 law, given that is the only legitimate solution in the absence of consensus on any other law.

 

In any case, both solutions reflect the depth of the political and constitutional crisis that Lebanon has been going through. The most dangerous implication of the current crisis is that it could lead the political system to a structural crisis that would be difficult to overcome with cosmetic solutions. This is not to mention that, in light of domestic and regional considerations, it is impossible to make any substantial changes to the system.

 

There have been several key signs emerging from the current crisis indicating the nature of challenges threatening Lebanon’s political stability and coexistence, according to its current rules that are not likely to be remedied in light of the internal and external situation.

 

First, a significant part of Lebanese Christians believe that balanced sectarian representation can be mended with their Sunni partners in peace. This representation was disturbed when Maronites were forced to relinquish some of their major political and constitutional power — which they had during the first Republic (1983-1989) — as the result of drafting the constitution of Taif.

 

Thus, the Orthodox electoral law has been put forth, according to which each sectarian group would elect its own candidates on a proportional basis. The major Christian political bloc (including the Free Patriotic Movement, the Marada movement, the Kataeb Party, and even Bikirki [the seat of the Maronite Patriarchy] indirectly) was expecting that the Sunni partners would accept the Orthodox proposal as an acknowledgement that the Taif Agreement needed to be amended in terms of fixing the Christian representation and not in terms of restoring the powers of the Maronite President of the Republic.

 

Nevertheless, the Orthodox proposal was rejected as the quorum was not reached during the parliament session due to the opposition of the Sunni bloc that is mainly allied with the Druze and some Christian parties. This indicated that Sunni partners (the biggest community in the country) have refused to establish a new settlement with Christians. Sunnis continue to insist that Christians relinquish powers under the Taif Agreement so as to reflect the new balances of power in the country and that they have to be realistic about this fact.

 

This also demonstrates that the Taif Agreement, which has served as a constitutional chart for the Second Republic in Lebanon, is no longer unanimously agreed upon by all Lebanese. It has become in the eyes of a large part of Christians an agreement that reflects their existence under a political system that reproduces their defeat in the civil war, which broke out during the 1970s and 1980s and resulted in the Taif Agreement under Arab and International auspices.

 

Moreover, [rejecting the Orthodox proposal] indicates that the country is going through a crisis that has been gripping the political system at all levels. This is especially true, since the crisis of a new electoral law that can produce a just sectarian representation, coincided with the crisis of the resigned government of Najib Mikati, about two month ago, which is now limited to managing day-to-day state affairs.

 

These overlapping crises suggest that Lebanon’s various institutions are no longer able to uphold the state’s affairs. The legitimacy of the Constitutional Council, which is in charge of monitoring constitutional legitimacy, has become disreputable. Meanwhile, parliament is paralyzed as a result of sharp divisions, preventing it from producing legislation.

 

Moreover, the military council (which is similar to the Government of the Lebanese Army) has been also become paralyzed. Thus, the military institution is likely to embark on the path of vacuum, as most of its members are retired, while no constitutional provision has been set yet to [choose] any alternatives.

 

What’s more, the commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces is set to retire in September. Thus, all leaders of the military institutions will soon become leaders by proxy. Hence, current events clearly indicate that the Lebanese crisis has gone beyond the political situation and has gripped the entire political system, undermining the state and sectarian coexistence.

 

Nasser Chararah is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor's Lebanon Pulse and for multiple Arab newspapers and magazines, as well as the author of several books on the Hezbollah-Israeli conflict.

 

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THE IMMINENT HEZBOLLAH-NUSRA WAR

Hanin Ghaddar

NOW Lebanon, May 15, 2013

 

The Syrian Salafist group Jabhat Al-Nusra declared in Jordan that it has set the confrontation with Hezbollah militants in Syria as a top priority. Jordan-based al-Qaeda-affiliate Mohammad Al Shalabi, alias Abi Sayyaf, said that Jabhat al-Nusra has taken a decision to fight Hezbollah militants, who have become "our Jihadists’ main target" across Syria. This came after Hezbollah’s secretary general Hassan Nasrallah declared last week that Hezbollah will stand by Syria and help it become a state of resistance. He announced that Hezbollah is ready to receive any sort of qualitative weapons even if it is going to disrupt the regional balance. 

 

For the Syrian rebels, al-Nusra and others, this is a declaration of war against them, knowing that what Nasrallah really means is that Hezbollah is now in charge of Syria, upon Iran’s decision. Hezbollah and Iran are running the show and if the Syrian rebels want to prevail, they need to target Hezbollah, not Assad or the Syrian regime. Assad has been pushed to the background to make way for Hezbollah. Therefore, it is not strange that Al-Nusra has decided to shift its priority to fighting Hezbollah as its main enemy.

 

Al-Nusra’s main mission is not to free Syria of its dictatorship and move to build a modern democratic state. Their goal is the umma and they will fight the enemies of the umma wherever they are. Therefore, their fight against Hezbollah will not stay in Syria and will eventually move to Lebanon. They do not differentiate between Hezbollah and the Shiite community just as they do not differentiate between Assad and Alawites.  This will lead to two dangerous consequences for Lebanon.

 

One, Shiites will be targeted by al-Nusra and other Sunni jihadist groups, especially that the sectarian tension among Lebanese Sunnis and Shiites has already reached unprecedented levels. In fact, while Hezbollah sends its fighters to Syria, many Lebanese Sunni groups are also moving to Syria to fight alongside the rebels.

 

What’s happening is that the Lebanese Sunni-Shiite civil war is already taking place, but in Syria. It is only a matter of time before it moves to Lebanon. These fighters will return to Lebanon with increased hatred toward each other; hatred rigged with blood and a desire for revenge. Al-Nusra are not organized enough to fight against Hezbollah in a conventional war, but they could cause great damage by organizing bomb attacks and suicide bombers against Hezbollah’s bases and public squares in the southern suburbs of Beirut or the South.

 

Their fighting tactics are usually based on bomb attacks, not bombing cities with rockets. They are an al-Qaeda-affiliated group, and they don’t usually dissociate between a militant and a civilian. They just target a place aiming at the maximum damage. Therefore, Hezbollah’s supporters and the Shiite community in general will be in danger.

 

Also, there are plenty of Lebanese jihadist and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups that had a presence in Lebanon before the Syrian conflict and can now be mobilized to target Hezbollah. Organizations like Fatah al-Islam, Jund al-Sham or Osbat al-Ansar have had bases in Lebanon for years, but they never engaged Hezbollah in direct confrontations. However, after the beginning of the Syrian conflict, jihadists reportedly regrouped in a new radical organization inspired by the emergence and successful military operations of Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria.

 

Two, Lebanon will become al-Nusra’s alternative battlefield. There are no state institutions to control their growing presence in Lebanon or the spread of arms. The current void in government is not helping and Prime Minister designate Tammam Salam seems to be incapable of forming a government that does not meet Hezbollah’s conditions, one that facilitates its involvement in Syria. So how can we protect Lebanon and the Shiites from the looming disaster?

 

Let’s start with the reality that the Shiite community in Lebanon is not one single bloc that supports Hezbollah. The diversity among the Shiites is wider than it is among other sectarian communities, for religious reasons related to the diversity of religious references (Marja’) and different interpretations of the Qur’an. On the political level, this community has never been as divided over Hezbollah as it is today. The feeling that Hezbollah is dragging them to hell is translating into serious discussion and refutation inside the community.

 

There is an urgent need to repeat this over and over. Every Lebanese official and media outlet should aim to highlight this diversity. Hezbollah will not save the Shiites. They have already determined that Lebanon and all the Lebanese will have to sacrifice their lives for their mission to serve Iran and its interests in the region. The Lebanese need to save themselves.

 

That’s why it is also important to safeguard Lebanon today by fighting Hezbollah’s hegemony over state institutions. A government that empowers Hezbollah and maintains Iran’s control over state institutions should not be an option. PM-designate Tammam Salam and President Michel Suleiman should not succumb to any threats. A government to save Lebanon is urgently needed now, more than ever. If this is not achieved, Lebanon will be naturally linked to Hezbollah and the Hezbollah-Nusra war will not spare anyone. If we lose this chance, we lose everything.

 

 Hanin Ghaddar is the managing editor of NOW.

 

 

HOW HEZBOLLAH SLOWLY INFILTRATED EUROPE

Alexandre Levy

LE TEMPS/Worldcrunch, Apr. 9, 2013

 

While Cyprus was in the middle of a financial crisis, the court of Limassol, the island’s second largest city, made a ruling that largely went unnoticed. Yet it was a judicial first. On March 28, the Cyprus court condemned a 24-year-old Swedish-Lebanese man, Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, to four years in prison for helping plan attacks against Israelis on the Mediterranean island. The man – a self-confessed member of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group – was a scout for the organization, tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of Israeli tourists on the island, in view of organizing a terrorist attack.

 

In front of the judges, Hossam Taleb Yaacoub denied being a terrorist, saying he had only “gathered information about Jews.” “That's what my organization does around the world,” he added. According to reports from the Cyprus police, the Hezbollah agent was particularly meticulous. He took notes on everything: flight schedules, bus license plates, the numbers of security guards, hotels, kosher restaurants etc. Hossam Taleb Yaacoub was arrested on July 7, 2012 by the Cyprus police. But it is only two weeks later that his activities started making sense, says Matthew Levitt, director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

 

On the other side of the Bosporus, in Burgas, on the Bulgarian coast, a bus transporting Israeli tourists was blown up, killing seven people, including the bomber. “It is clear that Hossam Taleb Yaacoub was preparing another attack that was supposed to take place around the same time,” says Levitt. In Feb. 2013, Bulgarian authorities announced their investigations led them to believe that the Hezbollah was behind the bus bombing. Bulgaria had suddenly become a pawn on the dangerous chessboard that is the Middle-Eastern conflict.

 

Bulgaria’s announcement also had important consequences from a European point of view. Some major countries of the EU, including France and Germany, have not designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, so as to preserve the fragile political equilibrium in Lebanon. In light of the events in Cyprus and Burgas, some are “reviewing” their stance, while others “are not sufficiently convinced,” according to Bulgarian Prime Minister Marin Raikov.

 

But in the U.S., there is no doubt. Early 2013, the U.S. Congress invited the EU to blacklist Hezbollah. An invitation reiterated by some of Washington’s top officials, to Israel's utmost satisfaction. For Matthew Levitt, Hezbollah is a key ally of Iran – maybe even its military proxy – playing “a central role in Iran’s shadow war with the West.” Taking advantage of the leniency of some European capitals, Hezbollah has strengthened its network in Europe, recruiting and positioning agents all across the continent. Bi-nationals with ties with Lebanon have the ideal profile. Recruited at age 19, Hossam Taleb Yaacoub had a Swedish passport and did not arouse the suspicion of European police. This allowed him to travel frequently from Turkey to the Netherlands, through Lyon, in east-central France, carrying mysterious packages for Hezbollah.

 

It was the same for the men who operated in Bulgaria: one of them was Canadian, the other Australian; they had entered the country legally. Nothing in their attitude betrayed the true objective of their stay. Bulgarian investigators describe them as smart-looking youths, dressed head to toe with big-brand clothes. They rented cars and booked hotel rooms with fake U.S. drivers’ licenses. That was their only mistake. “The documents were made by a forger in Lebanon, known by our colleagues from Western intelligence services,” explains Bulgaria’s organized crime czar, Stanimir Florov. Money transfers from Lebanon, as well as a photo on which relatives of one of the terrorists posed with high-ranking Hezbollah militants, convinced Bulgarian officials: All the tracks lead back to Beirut.

 

Counter-terrorism experts also noted a “professionalization” of Hezbollah agents abroad. “Using fake IDs, speaking foreign languages, conspiracy techniques and coded communications… as well as a secrecy between members, which is the best way to protect other members, ” explains a European police official.

 

Hossam Taleb Yaacoub has always claimed he had never been face-to-face with his Lebanese handler and that he did not know the real purpose of his mission. This could also be the case for the young man who died in the explosion of the bomb he carried in his backpack, in front of the Israeli tourists’ bus at the Burgas airport. First described as a “suicide bomber,” he was “probably fooled by the other two team members, who managed to escape the bombing,” says a Bulgarian investigator. Nothing, not even his DNA was able to establish his true identity.

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HEZBOLLAH CAMPAIGNS FOR PREEMPTIVE WAR IN SYRIA

Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse, May 22, 2013

 

Several Hezbollah fighters were killed or wounded by a booby-trapped tanker truck during a recent incursion into Syria. There had been several similar incidents in preceding days. In another episode, a Syrian opposition gunman appeared to surrender to Hezbollah forces, but as he approached them, he detonated the explosive belt he was wearing.

 

Hezbollah admits to thus far losing 32 fighters in the battle for Qusair, but some believe the actual figure to be much higher. On May 20, the party buried two brothers who had fought in Qusair, and a rumor circulated that their father died from sorrow during the funeral. The fact that such a story was making the rounds among Hezbollah’s base reflects the prevailing anxiety.

 

Most of the party’s militia members come from the same societal group, so when one of them is killed, it affects an entire community. Hezbollah’s participation in the Qusair fighting thus stands to affect the party’s relationship with its base.

 

The organization's propaganda machine is busy in its strongholds — the Bekaa Valley, south Lebanon, and Beirut’s southern suburbs — trying to preempt feelings of frustration. The campaign is focused on convincing Hezbollah supporters that Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah has wisely decided to fight Sunni takfiris in Syria because if they succeed in bringing down the Syrian regime, they will then target Lebanon and subjugate the Shiites.

 

In short, the propaganda campaign is about making the argument for a preemptive war. Hezbollah must fight the Sunni takfirists now, on Syrian ground beside the Syrian army, because if Hezbollah waits until the takfiris bring down the Bashar al-Assad government, it would be forced to fight them alone in Lebanon.

 

Another argument Hezbollah is making is that the party has a duty to defend sacred Shiite shrines in Syria, such as Sayyeda Zeinab in Damascus, which Syrian opposition militants have tried to destroy on more than one occasion.

 

Another part of the propaganda campaign involves promoting stories of heroic acts by party members in Qusair and portraying Hezbollah fighters as militarily superior, even to those in the Syrian army. Such boasting about Hezbollah’s strength and military competence is intended to raise the morale of the base and shift attention away from news reports of Hezbollah losses.

 

So goes the effort to convince Hezbollah supporters that the price of losing their sons is worth it.

 

 

Three in Europe Now Oppose Hezbollah: Nicholas Kulish, New York Times,  May 22, 2013—Three of Europe’s most powerful countries — Britain, Germany and France — have thrown their weight behind a push for the European Union to designate the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, a move that could have far-reaching consequences for the group’s fund-raising activities on the Continent.

 

The Jihadist Threat to Lebanon: Jaafar al-Attar, from As-Safir (Lebanon). Al-Monitor, May 15, 2013—Many officers do not deny that the Lebanese security services do not possess documented information on the numbers and locations of the “organized takfiri networks” in Lebanon. The head of one of those security services told As-Safir that “monitoring and information-gathering on terrorist networks cannot be precise, since they are located within the Palestinian refugee camps, especially in Ain al-Hilweh.”

 

Hizbollah Cannot Afford to Stay Long in Syria's Quagmire: Michael Young, The National (UAE), May 23, 2013 —Hizbollah is being drawn into the Syrian quagmire. as revealed by this week's reports of party members being killed fighting in the strategic Syrian town of Qusair. Victory in Qusair is vital for the Syrian regime, as it would clear a corridor between Damascus and the coast, the stronghold of the Alawite community.

 

Top of Page

 

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

WHITHER IRAN—MORE NEGOTIATIONS, ANOTHER OFFER, ECONOMIC BLOCKADE, MILITARY ACTION—TO BE DECIDED IN 2013

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Contents:                          

 

Time for an Economic Blockade on Iran: Mark Wallace, Real Clear World, Dec. 13, 2012—The recent demonstrations and protests in Iran over the increasingly perilous state of its economy are the latest and most powerful sign that the economic war is having a tangible impact. There is no doubt that punitive financial and economic sanctions have contributed greatly to the collapse of Iran's currency, the rial.

 

US and Partners Prepare Modest Offer to Iran: Barbara Slavin, Al- Monitor, Dec 19, 2012—Weeks of deliberations among the United States and its fellow negotiators have produced an offer to Iran very similar to the package Iran rejected last summer, casting doubt on chances for breaking the long stalemate over Iran’s nuclear program.

 

2013: The year of Iran: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, Dec. 19, 2012—We’ve been saying it for years: This coming year represents the moment of truth on Iran.Except that this year, it’s for real: 2013 represents the moment of truth on Iran. The year the Iranians pass the point of no return in their drive to the bomb. Or the year, one way or another, they are dissuaded.

 

Changes to Canada’s Terror List a Shot Across Iran’s Bow: Campbell Clark, The Globe and Mail, Dec. 20, 2012—The Canadian government has listed the clandestine branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization and, at the same time, removed a controversial Iranian opposition organization, the People’s Mujahedin, from the terror list.

 

On Topic Links

 

Congress Approves New Iran Sanctions, Missile Defense Funding: JTA, Dec. 24, 2012

'Hamas preparing for West Bank takeover': Jerusalem Post, Dec. 23, 2012

Iran's Conservatives Push for a Deal: Ray Takeyh, National Interest, Dec. 21, 2012

Feeling the Pain in Tehran: Nazila Fathi, Foreign Policy, Dec. 21, 2012

Christianity 'close to extinction' in Middle East: Edward Malnick, The Telegraph, Dec. 23, 2012

 

 

TIME FOR AN ECONOMIC BLOCKADE ON IRAN

Mark Wallace

Real Clear World, Dec. 13, 2012

 

The recent demonstrations and protests in Iran over the increasingly perilous state of its economy are the latest and most powerful sign that the economic war is having a tangible impact. There is no doubt that punitive financial and economic sanctions have contributed greatly to the collapse of Iran's currency, the rial. Iran now suffers from hyperinflation and the rial has fallen by 80 percent in the past year. As history has shown, durable hyperinflation such as this can result in public unrest and, occasionally, regime change.

 

The conventional wisdom of the past was that sanctions against Iran would have little impact because of Iran's vast oil wealth. That was, in retrospect, flawed thinking. In the past year, Iran's acceleration of its nuclear program and defiance of the IAEA, its sponsorship of terrorism and its destabilizing behavior in countries like Syria finally prompted the international community to act. The loss of Iranian oil has had little effect on the market so far, as countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Libya have made up for the loss.

 

The sanctions now in place are beginning to have a dramatic impact, as Iran's currency is collapsing. As a result of hyperinflation, we have seen Iran's currency exchange market become paralyzed. Licensed exchange bureaus refused in recent days to do business at the officially imposed rate of 28,500 rials to the dollar, while black market dealers were offering the dollar at a rate of 35,500 rials, sparking protests and a violent crackdown. Significantly, the ire of the protesters was primarily directed at the regime for its mismanagement, and for actions that led to sanctions in the first place.

 

If history is any guide, the leaders of Iran have reason to worry, as there is a correlation between hyperinflation and regime change. In Indonesia, hyperinflation and the collapse of the rupiah from 2,700 to the dollar to nearly 16,000 over the course of a year was one of the principal sources of discontent, which brought people out to the streets to overthrow the Suharto regime. In the case of Yugoslavia, hyperinflation was the motivating force that led Slobodan Milosevic to start a war to divert attention from the monetary crisis facing the country — a war that led to his ultimate defeat.

 

Regardless of the precipitating event, hyperinflation can signal the death knell of a regime. We often forget that a "Persian Spring" preceded the Arab Spring, and that Iran has not only restive minorities, but a restive middle class frustrated with a corrupt theocratic regime, culminating in protests over the 2009 election. If the regime faces increased and durable hyperinflation, Iran's demographics suggest that the mullahs' brutal hold on power could face serious challenges.

 

At this critical stage, it is time for U.S. and EU policymakers to do all they can to build upon and ensure the durability of Iran's hyperinflation. The best way to do so is by implementing a total economic blockade that would pit the vast purchasing power of the world's two largest economies against that of Iran. Such an economic blockade would bar any business, firm or entity that does work in Iran from receiving U.S. and EU government contracts, accessing U.S. and EU capital markets, entering into commercial partnerships in the U.S. and EU or otherwise doing business in the U.S. and EU. The result would be an immense economic barrier to entry into Iran's marketplace, and would place unprecedented pressure on the rial.

 

Other steps to pressure the rial could be taken as well. As the rial devalues, Iranians seek the safe haven of dollars and gold in the currency markets of Afghanistan and Iraq and the gold markets in Turkey. Stemming the ease of accessibility to dollars and gold would further pressure the rial. Other creative ideas include impeding the flow of sophisticated currency printing technology and other products that have been previously provided to Iran's central bank by European vendors. In fact, recently the German currency printer Koenig & Bauer AG announced the cessation of its provision of bank note printing equipment and services in Iran under pressure from United Against Nuclear Iran, seriously impeding Iran's ability to manipulate its money supply and maintain the integrity of the rial.

 

It is time to present the mullahs in Iran with a clear choice — they can forego a nuclear weapon or they can have a functioning economy. To be sure, there is no guarantee that even a total economic blockade will prevent Iran from changing its strategic calculus to develop a nuclear weapons capability. But as the prospects of war over the next months increase, does the international community not owe it to itself to say it has exhausted all other options? It surely makes sense to try, particularly since we have seen the impact current sanctions are having on the regime. And the human cost of hyperinflation, though at times great, is far less than those of a nuclear-armed Iran or a preemptive military conflict.

 

Ambassador Mark D. Wallace is CEO of United Against Nuclear Iran. He served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Representative for U.N. Management and Reform.

 

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US AND PARTNERS PREPARE MODEST OFFER TO IRAN

Barbara Slavin

Al- Monitor, Dec 19, 2012

                 

Weeks of deliberations among the United States and its fellow negotiators have produced an offer to Iran very similar to the package Iran rejected last summer, casting doubt on chances for breaking the long stalemate over Iran’s nuclear program.

 

The “refreshed” proposal includes spare parts for Iran’s aging Western jetliners — a perennial carrot — and assistance with Iran’s civilian nuclear infrastructure but no specific promise of sanctions relief, Al-Monitor has learned. Perhaps as a result, Iranian officials appear to be in no hurry to agree to a date to meet again with the so-called P5 +1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

 

Following US presidential elections, US officials began mulling a more generous proposal but have settled for a conservative position. Iran will be expected to agree to concessions before knowing exactly what it would get in return. Iran has been sending mixed signals in advance of new talks. Foreign Minister Ali Akhbar Salehi said Monday [Dec. 17]: “Both sides … have concluded that they have to exit the current impasse,” and that “Iran wants its legitimate and legal right and no more.” But Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said Tuesday [Dec. 18] that Iran would not stop enriching uranium to 20% U-235, a key international demand.

 

Another factor reducing expectations for upcoming negotiations is Iran’s reluctance so far to agree to a one-on-one meeting with the United States at which the Obama administration might be more forthcoming than in a multilateral setting.  Both sides appear to be unwilling to undertake major risks, diminishing the chances for a breakthrough or a breakdown of negotiations. The US and its partners appear to feel that time is on their side as economic sanctions bite deeper into the Iranian economy. Iran, meanwhile, is amassing larger quantities of low-enriched uranium that could improve its bargaining position down the road.

 

There is also the question of transition in both countries. Although Barack Obama was re-elected president, he will be naming new secretaries of state and defense soon and there may be a new US negotiating team. Iran is beginning to gear up for its own presidential elections next year and jostling has already begun within the conservative elite over who will replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. However, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei remains the ultimate decision maker.

 

Patrick Clawson, an Iran specialist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said he has been told that the Obama administration has “a firm determination not to let the [US] transition slow down the process.” While some members of the US negotiating team are departing, the head negotiator, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, is likely to stay on for at least a while and has a good relationship with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the probable nominee to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

 

A bold offer to Iran would require President Obama to spend political capital that he may prefer to use for other purposes including avoiding the so-called “fiscal cliff,” getting his nominees for a new Cabinet approved and now in the wake of mass shootings at a school in Connecticut, gun control.

 

Barbara Slavin is Washington correspondent for Al-Monitor and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, where she focuses on Iran. 

 

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2013: THE YEAR OF IRAN

David Horovitz

Times of Israel, December 19, 2012

 

We’ve been saying it for years: This coming year represents the moment of truth on Iran.

 

Except that this year, it’s for real: 2013 represents the moment of truth on Iran. The year the Iranians pass the point of no return in their drive to the bomb. Or the year, one way or another, they are dissuaded.

 

It’s the now or never year. But will it be now or never? Speak to some of those who claim to know Barack Obama best of all, and the response is definitive. The president is not bluffing. He means it when he says he will thwart a nuclear Iran by whatever means necessary — up to and most certainly including the use of force. This is not about protecting Israel, or rather not just about protecting Israel. It’s about American credibility. It’s about American interests throughout the Middle East — defending those interests against an Iranian regime that is already ideologically and territorially rapacious and that would be terrifyingly more potent if its ambitions were backed by a nuclear weapons capability. And it’s about the president’s sense of his historic obligation and legacy — Obama as protector, pushing hard now for gun control at home, and determined to reduce, ideally eliminate, the nuclear peril worldwide.

 

Speak to some of the president’s bitter political rivals, and the assessment is withering. An Obama resort to force? Not a snowball’s chance in hell. Forget the fine rhetoric about containment not being an option. This is a president bent on extricating the United States from combat zones, not plunging his forces into new military misadventures. This is a president who knows the electorate shudders at the prospect of confrontation with Iran.

This is a president who wants to appoint Chuck Hagel, firm opponent of a resort to force against Iran, as his next defense secretary. This is a president who had to be dragged into Libya by the French and the British, and who hasn’t lifted a finger as Bashar Assad waged war in Syria for almost two years. This is a president whose commitment to Israel can be gauged by his readiness to pick a major fight with Benjamin Netanyahu over building in an established ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of East Jerusalem (Ramat Shlomo) two years ago, a president who couldn’t spare half an hour for Netanyahu in the US this fall, even as he was insisting Israel hold its fire on Iran and thus entrust its security to him.

 

So which Obama are we betting on? The stakes for Israel could hardly be higher.  The coming months will provide ostensible evidence for both assessments. The US will engage in new efforts at diplomacy, insisting it is seeking a negotiated solution to the standoff.

 

A necessary precursor to a US-led resort to force, some will say. It is typical of Obama, they will argue, that he is both exhausting all other options, and being seen to exhaust all other options, in order to maximize perceived international legitimacy and support for armed intervention when — not if — he gives the order to strike.

 

Far from it, others will counter. Diplomacy and more diplomacy and more diplomacy — that’s the Obama way. And when it’s too late, the president will tell his public that he tried — that he pleaded and cajoled and demanded. That he did everything short of military action. But that Iran would not be budged. And that he opted not to resort to a preemptive military strike, recognizing that the America that just reelected him would have been horrified by such action, and that he is confident the Iranians would not dare target the United States.

 

Where do these absolutely conflicting assessments leave Israel? Worried. Wary. Uncertain.  It’s just possible that the two leaders, despite their frustrations with each other — “you did your best to help my rival”; “you’ve never really understood the challenges my country faces” — have reached a private understanding. If so, it could only be in the form of a pledge by Obama to Netanyahu: If the Iranians haven’t suspended the program by this or that date in 2013, America will strike.

 

That could explain the relative absence of bitter rhetoric emanating from Jerusalem these past few months. No more talk of the need for US-set red lines. No more dismal daily declarations from the prime minister that sanctions haven’t slowed the Iranian program “one iota.” It would explain the cessation of US administration warnings to Jerusalem to hold fire, the cessation of off-record briefings by administration officials warning Israeli journalists that their government is flirting with disaster, bringing the region to the brink of apocalypse.

 

Or it could be that there are no understandings — merely that, their public sparring over, the American and Israeli leaders have retired to their respective corners, a little bruised but far from broken, to plan their next moves.  If so, the dilemma for Netanyahu — who surely wanted to hit Iran last summer, but was derailed by the weight of opposition from the US and from his own security chiefs present and past — is unenviable, indeed. Existentially unenviable.

 

If he heeds the assessments of those Obama confidantes, watchers and friends who believe the president does have the stomach to order in the bombers, then just maybe he dares let Israel’s already much-narrowed window of opportunity to thwart Iran close altogether — even though to do so is to place Israel’s destiny in the hands of others, a breach of every independent Zionist fiber of the prime ministerial being.

 

And if he heeds the Obama critics, the insiders and the observers who scoff at the notion of a presidential resort to force, he will be preparing for a desperate, immensely risky utilization of Israeli military power, unprecedentedly far away, on targets hardened against precisely such intervention, over the objections of Israel’s greatest ally, with potentially catastrophic repercussions even if everything goes as planned.

 

He will be torn, furthermore, between a certain fealty to his late father’s fierce mindset — confront the threat, take action, use the Jewish nation’s hard-won restored sovereign power to strike down the latest advocates of Jewish genocide — and his own far more cautious inclinations, his tendency to talk the talk (on defying international pressure on settlements, refusing to negotiate with terrorists, ousting Hamas) but not always walk the walk.  He’ll know he could be saving Israel, or he could be dooming it. We’ll all find out, it rather seems, in 2013.

 

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CHANGES TO CANADA’S TERROR LIST
A SHOT ACROSS IRAN’S BOW

Campbell Clark

The Globe and Mail, Dec. 20 2012

 

The Canadian government has listed the clandestine branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization and, at the same time, removed a controversial Iranian opposition organization, the People’s Mujahedin, from the terror list.  The two moves together mark an effort to label, isolate and pressure Iran, with whom Canada broke off ties earlier this year.

 

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews announced in a statement that the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard, a clandestine arm of the elite military unit that exerts powerful influence over Iran’s government and economy, has been added to the list. It was added for providing arms and training to terror organizations including Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, he said.

 

“The listing of terrorist entities sends a strong message that Canada will not tolerate terrorist activities, including terrorist financing, or those who support such activities.” That listing makes it illegal for Canadians to support or finance the organization, although that is likely to be a largely symbolic step in this case. Earlier this year, Ottawa declared Iran a state sponsor of terrorism and it recently imposed sanctions that limit doing business with the Revolutionary Guards.

 

But the Canadian government also took another step aimed at backing opponents of the Tehran regime, by removing the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), or People’s Mujahedin, from the terror list.

 

The MEK, once one of the groups involved in Iran’s 1979 revolution, has long been included on the terror list, but Western nations, considering it an opponent of the regime in Tehran, have started removing it from lists of terror organizations. The European Union stopped listing the MEK as a terror group in 2009, and the U.S. followed suit in September of this year.

 

But the MEK remains controversial, as human-rights groups have accused it of abuses at its camps in Iraq, and some dissidents within Iran dislike the West’s recent willingness to accept the group’s activities.

 

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Congress Approves New Iran Sanctions, Missile Defense Funding: JTA, Dec. 24, 2012—The final version of a defense funding act headed for President Obama’s desk includes enhanced Iran sanctions the president opposed as well as additional funding for Israel’s missile defense.

 

'Hamas Preparing for West Bank Takeover: Jerusalem Post, Dec. 23, 2012—Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal instructed the terror group's sleeper cells in the West Bank to prepare themselves for armed struggle to take control of the Palestinian territory, The Sunday Times reported.

 

Iran's Conservatives Push For A Deal: Ray Takeyh, National Interest, Dec. 21, 2012—As Washington contemplates another round of diplomacy with Iran, an intense debate is gripping the Islamic Republic’s corridors of power. An influential and growing segment of Iran’s body politic is calling for a negotiated settlement of the nuclear issue. Such calls have transcended the circle of reformers and liberals and are increasingly being voiced by conservative oligarchs.

 

Feeling the Pain in Tehran: Nazila Fathi, Foreign Policy, Dec. 21, 2012—Iran's Ministry of Intelligence did something remarkable last month: It used its website to publish a report (link in Farsi) calling for direct talks with the country's foe, the United States. In the report, entitled "The Zionist Regime's Reasons and Obstacles for Attacking Iran," the traditionally hawkish ministry highlighted the benefits of diplomacy and negotiations with the United States: "One way to fend off a possible war is to resort to diplomacy and to use all international capacities."

 

Christianity 'Close to Extinction' in Middle East: Edward Malnick, The Telegraph, Dec. 23, 2012—Christianity faces being wiped out of the “biblical heartlands” in the Middle East because of mounting persecution of worshippers, according to a new report. The most common threat to Christians abroad is militant Islam, it says, claiming that oppression in Muslim countries is often ignored because of a fear that criticism will be seen as “racism”. The report, by the think tank Civitas, says: “It is generally accepted that many faith-based groups face discrimination or persecution to some degree. "A far less widely grasped fact is that Christians are targeted more than any other body of believers.”

 

 

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WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

 

Media-ocrity of the Week
 

   "Firearms! Can it be considered normal that people turn firearms on police? It's unacceptable … law and order must be restored," France's Interior Minister Manuel Valls told a news conference, upon a visit to Amiens in northern France, adding that a minority of people were terrorizing the local community.  Youths jeered and jostled Valls on Tuesday…when he promised to restore law and order at the scene of overnight riots in which 17 police officers were hurt after being fired at with buckshot and pelted with a hail of objects thrown by youths who set fire to an elementary school and a sports centre and destroyed a police station in the city's northern districts. 
   President Francois Hollande said the state would "mobilize all its resources to combat this violence", which has shaken depressed quarters of major French cities at regular intervals over the past decade and which Valls referred to as urban guerilla behaviour. [Emphasis added – Ed.]
    Police and emergency officials in Amiens were on high alert on Tuesday evening and some, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they feared a further flareup of violence. Unrest is often blamed on a combination of poor job prospects, racial discrimination, a widespread sense of alienation from mainstream society and perceived hostile policing.
   A crowd of about 100 “young men” met Interior Minister Manuel Valls when he arrived in Amiens to discuss two nights of violence apparently sparked by tension over spot police checks on residents.
"Calm down! Calm down!" Valls yelled as the crowd jostled him while he entered the town hall surrounded by bodyguards. (The Daily Telegraph, Aug. 15, 2012) [emphasis added; that the “youths” and “young men” and “urban guerillas” referred to in these articles are Muslims is made clear only by a reference, at the end of the Daily Telegraph piece, to a French study of “Islamic Institutions and Practices” in the French suburbs. – Ed.)
 
_________________________________________________________________________
 
Weekly Quotes  

“This [Iranian] nuclear weapon is intended to create a balance of terror with Israel, to finish off the Zionist enterprise, and to end all Israeli aggression against the Arab nation,” – Hezbollah MP and retired general Walid Sakariya to Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV  “The entire equation in the Middle East will change,” he asserted. ( Times of Israel, Aug. 9, 2012)
 
“Israel's reasons for a future strike on Iran's nuclear facilities are logical and clear: Iran armed with nuclear weapons threatens Israel's existence; the weapons can fall into the hands of terrorists; and it will undoubtedly ignite an arms race in the Middle East that could end in nuclear war. In light of these threats an Israeli government that chooses to sit by and do nothing will have betrayed its public.”—Prof. Benny Morris. (Israel Hayom, August 10, 2012)
 
"I don't believe they've made a decision as to whether or not they will go in and attack Iran at this time,”—US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday.  "With regards to the issue of where we're at from a diplomatic point of view, the reality is that we still think there is room to continue to negotiate." he said.  As to Israel’s military capacity, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, who also attended the press conference, said “What I’m telling you is based on what I know of their capabilities. And I may not know about all their capabilities. But I think that it’s fair characterization to say that they could delay but not destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities.” (Reuter’s, Aug. 14, 2012)
 
“The prevalent culture, created by the previous regime (is it truly previous?) is built on fear of Israel. This fear has bred hatred which the prior and current regimes have played on for their own daily purposes. Thus, Israel the country has disappeared and has been replaced by an entity ruled by villains. Villains, as we know, lie, so why should we believe their warnings?”—Egyptian playwright and A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Ali Salem—one of the few Egyptians to openly support normalization with Israel…“I clearly believe that the two sacked men [the governor of northern Sinai and chief of general intelligence] genuinely expressed the level of public awareness and level of education in Egypt,”—which led the country’s security forces to disregard Israeli warnings of a looming terrorist attack [in Sinai], claiming they “could not believe” that Muslims would kill Muslims on the eve of Ramadan. (Times of Israel, Aug. 12, 2012)
 
"Are we looking at a president determined to dismantle the machine of tyranny … or one who is retooling the machine of tyranny to serve his interests, removing the military's hold on the state so he can lay the foundations for the authority of the Brotherhood?"–Alaa al-Aswani a prominent Egyptian rights activist and best-selling novelist. "He must correct these mistakes and assure us through actions that he is a president of all Egyptians," wrote the secular al-Aswani before warning that Egyptians will never allow Morsi to turn Egypt into a "Brotherhood state." (Associated Press, Aug. 14, 2012)
 
“I have wracked my brain trying to understand why Israel gets such a disproportionate measure of our moral criticism…I keep coming back to a very difficult conclusion, and that is that there remains an undercurrent of antisemitism in our church, and that disturbs me”  United Church minister Andrew Love, the spiritual leader of Grace Saint Andrew’s United Church in Arnprior [Ontario], who has been trying to counter the calls for a boycott of ‘settlement’ goods by the United Church of Canada’s (UCC) Working Group on Israel/Palestine Policy. “I’m speaking of the United Church but this same debate has infected the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church and the Anglican communion, where Israel has received a disproportionate amount of attention.” (Jewish Tribune, Aug. 7, 2012)
 
"Reading the articles of this [CEDAW] agreement, dear brothers, sends shivers down your spine, and makes your hair stand on end, due to its hideous nature. One of the articles in this agreement, dear brothers, [calls for] complete equality between men and women. Any distinction between men and women is eliminated.One of the articles states that when a girl reaches the age of 18, nobody has guardianship over hernot her father, her husband, her brothers, or anyone for that matter. She can act with complete freedom.” —Saudi Cleric Sa'd Al-Qa'ub commenting on the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.  […]"They say that a girl younger than 18 has the right to decide when she will become sexually active. It means that she can decide when to exercise her right to commit consensual fornication. On the other hand, she does not have the right to marry before the age of 18.” (Middle East Media Research Institute, July 10, 2012)
 
"When shall I see that day, when we, the Muslims, march on Palestine and liberate Palestine for all the people in the world … and under Islamic law, they will live as equals,"—Zafar Bangash, an Islamic journalist and commentator from Toronto who is shown, in a video from last year’s International Al-Quds [Jerusalem] Day march in Queen’s Park, Toronto available on the website Shia TV, bellowing into a microphone.  Bangash yelled, "The Zionists … claim that Muslims hate Jews … I challenge any Zionist … to come and prove to us that any Jewish people have been oppressed anywhere in the Muslim world." Jewish groups are calling out Ontario Liberals for permitting an "anti-Semitic hate rally" to be held  Aug. 18 at Queen's Park [Toronto].…(Sun News Network, Aug. 9, 2012)
 
“I tell you out of my experience and the position I occupied that the regime is collapsing, morally, materially and economically. Militarily it is crumbling as it no longer occupies more than 30% of Syrian territory,”—former Syrian prime minister Riyad Hijab, in his first public appearance at a news conference in Jordan since defecting to the opposition. “Syria is full of honourable officials and military leaders who are waiting for the chance to join the revolution. I urge the army to follow the example of Egypt and Tunisia’s armies – take the side of the people.” he added. (National Post, Aug. 15, 2012)
 
“The bottom line is that Palestinian incitement is going on all the time….The phenomenon is worrying and disturbing.”—Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry director-general Yossi Kuperwasser. He said that “at an institutional level the Palestinian Authority was continuously driving three messages home: that the Palestinians would eventually be the sole sovereign on all the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea; that Jews, especially those who live in Israel, were not really human beings but rather “the scum of mankind”; and that all tools were legitimate in the struggle against Israel and the Jews, though the specific tool used at one time or another depended on a cost-benefit analysis.” (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 13, 2012)
(Top)
_________________________________________________________________________
 

Short Takes

 
MORSI FORCES OUT MILITARY CHIEFS—(Cairo)President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt forced the retirement on Sunday of his powerful defense minister General Hussein Tantawi and the Egyptian Army's' Chief of Staff General Sami EnanMorsi has also cancelled the constitutional protections that the Egyptian military has enjoyed and overturned their edicts circumscribing his control over foreign and military policy.  On Sunday, he replaced it with his own declaration, one that gave him broad legislative and executive powers and, potentially, a decisive role in the drafting of Egypt’s still unfinished new constitution.

The maneuvers by Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, cemented a major shift in power that began with his election in the face of intense opposition from the military. As Caroline Glick has noted in Front page magazine, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has declared, today Mors completed the Egyptian revolution. Egypt is now an Islamic state. Its leaders drink from the same well as al Qaida, Hamas and all the rest. Egypt, with its US armed military has reemerged after 30 years as the greatest military threat that Israel has ever faced. (New York Times, Front Page Magazine., Aug. 13, 2012)
 
A FAILING STATE? IN SINAI, THE PEOPLE PROTECT THE ARMY —(Rafah, Egypt) Those living in Rafah have military forces responsible for securing the border at their doorsteps. While this should be extra protection for the locals, on Sunday, it was the locals who struggled to save the soldiers undergoing a brutal attack. While local media and politicians alike are dramatically mourning the deceased soldiers, slamming the terrorist playground that Sinai has reportedly become, there is little attention to the incumbent state failure in the peninsula, as manifest in this incident, locals say. (Egypt Independent, Aug. 7, 2012)
 
EGYPT CLOSING UP SMUGGLING TUNNELS, HAMAS ANGRY—(Egypt) Sinai residents have reported to Ahram Online that heavy machinery of the state-owned Arab Contractors company is being used to destroy tunnels linking Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip. The destruction of the tunnels is happening under the supervision of Egyptian military forces.  Hamas leader Mahmoud El-Zahar confirmed that the Egyptian military was closing the tunnels and would abort any attempt to build new ones. Hamas denies that any Gazans were involved in the attack and is calling Egypt's moves "collective punishment." (Ahram Online Aug 09 2012)
 
RABBIS PROTEST AGAINST 'PROTOCOLS' MOBILE APP(Berlin)A European rabbinical group said Tuesday it is protesting a mobile app of the notorious anti-Semitic text "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."  Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Brussels-based Conference of European Rabbis, said in a statement that he would contact Apple to urge that the company remove the app (which is a mobile phone program).  The app, which was released earlier this year, is available only in Arabic and is attributed to the software developer Ahmed Elserety.  The app notes a 1921 investigation by the Times of London and a series of French articles describing how the fraud was perpetrated. Still, Goldschmidt said, it is unacceptable to have such an app on the market. “Although the Protocols of the Elders of Zion can and should be available for academics to study in its proper context, to disseminate such hateful invective as a mobile app is dangerous and inexcusable,he said, warning that it could be "used by anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists and their fellow travelers to pursue their racist agenda."(JTA, Aug. 15, 2012)

LEFT-WING JOURNALIST REGRETS GOLAN STANCE(Jerusalem)“No one likes to admit they were wrong. I don't, either. But sometimes you have no choice.”Ari Shavit, journalist for Ha’aretz. “Since reaching adulthood I believed in peace with Syria. The premises for my belief seemed rational and solid. Peace with Syria would prevent a terrible war and dismantle the array of northern forces that threatened the State of Israel… And now, everything has been upended. It's all been reversed…. I have to admit that if the worldview I had championed had been applied, battalions of global jihadis would be camping near Ein Gev and there would be Al-Qaida bases on the shores of Lake Kinneret. Northern Israel and the country's water sources would be bordering this summer on an armed, extremist Islamic entity that could not be controlled. So, does one conclude that we dare not try peace? No, we must try to obtain a realistic peace. But carefully, friends. Modestly. And always while listening seriously to the serious warnings of those opposed, and with a sober eye on the real world in which we live.” (Ha’aretz, Aug. 9, 2012)

HAMAS LEADER’S FAMILY TREATED IN ISRAELI HOSPITAL (Petach Tikva)Suhila Abd el-Salam, the sister of Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, accompanied her husband for treatment in an Israeli hospital four months ago. According to Israel’s Ynet News, the sister’s husband was admitted to Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva, for immediate medical treatment following a serious heart condition.  The couple could have gone to a more advanced medical center in Egypt but opted to come to Israel for medical treatment instead. Israel’s Civil Administration released a report in March stating that 115,000 Palestinians were treated in Israel in 2011, a 13% increase in comparison to the previous year. Meanwhile, Haniyeh refuses to recognize Israel and calls for Palestinian violence against the Jewish state. (Tazpit News Agency, August 7, 2012)
 
SYRIAN MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD FORMS FIGHTING BATTALIONS—(Syria)The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria has formed three armed battalions “for self-defence and to defend the oppressed,” the group’s spokesman Mulham Al-Droubi told Saudi owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat that the battalions were created three months ago and are deployed across Syria, but “especially in areas with intense fighting.” He said they operated under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army, which functions as a regular army but is composed of semi-independent units. Meanwhile, Brotherhood spokesman Droubi was named by the Free Syrian Army last week as a possible candidate for transitional prime minister following the ouster of Bashar Assad, Arab media reported. (Times of Israel, Aug. 5, 2012)
 
PALESTINIAN “PRESIDENT” NEARS RECORD(Israel) “Next week, Mahmoud Abbas will enter the 92nd month of his 48-month term, and now has Yasser Arafat’s record in sight. Arafat was elected president of the Palestinian Authority in 1996, running essentially unopposed (his opponent was a 72-year old woman with no political party). In 2004, in the ninth year of his four-year term, he left office on account of death. His second-in-command was elected president less than two months later, running essentially unopposed (Hamas boycotted the election). Abbas is now midway through the eighth year of his own four-year term, almost certain to break Arafat’s record if he can just stay healthy." (Commentary, Aug. 8, 2012) (Top)

 


ON TOPIC